Sunday, September 7, 2008

La Tech React

We’re not trying to overwhelm you with content today, but rather, make up for the abyss we left you in after the first game. Plus, we plan on using this upcoming format (H/T: BON) for all post-game reactions throughout the year and the non-conference seems like a good time to practice. And we’re off…

The outcome was: misleading. I say this only because of the score. The defense played great and obviously earned the shutout, but if they play like that against many other offenses, that number won’t be a 0. Conversely, the offense played much better than the 29 they put up. Any time an offense accumulates well over 500 yards and only puts the ball in the end zone three times, you’re left to scratch your head a little (more on this later).

All that being true, there’s a whole lot to be said for the defense having the fortitude to step up and cover their asses on the few mistakes they did make. And the same can be said for the La Tech defense or the against the Kansas offense in the red zone. This isn’t NASCAR, so you don’t get points for leading laps; you have to finish the job.

The offensive MVP was: Todd Reesing. How could he not be? 32/38 in extremely wet, rainy conditions. Eighty-fucking-four percent! 412 yards. 3 touchdowns. 0 turnovers. While the running game again sputtered, Hot Toddy didn’t blink as he humiliated a defense that just a week ago held MSU to 14 points causing 5 turnovers along the way. The only possible complaint to make about the offense would be the red zone performance, which we’re getting to shortly.

The defensive MVP was: Darrell Stuckey. Again, there can be no argument here. We covered this plenty earlier, but it’s worth revisiting quickly. You can’t overstate the effect he had on the defense and even the whole team by running down Livas. And for him to come back the very next play and take down Jackson in the backfield, he can officially take more credit for the shutout than any other single player. It’s worth noting that he’s also leading the team in tackles right now after his 10 takedown effort last night.

The offensive LVP was: Jake Sharp and Jocques Crawford. Part of Angus’ success can certainly be attributed to going against a second half defense, which is almost certainly more worn down. However, he has only played in three quarter and he now has 31 more yards than Jake and Jocques combined. While Angus is averaging 6.2 per carry, Jake is at 3.2 and Jocques is at 2.7, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. I’m not 100% convinced that Jake is fit to be an every down back, but he certainly looked a lot better than this last year and he was carrying it more then than he is now. And while Jocques may not be quite adjusted, he’s certainly shown a couple flashes of why he was the JUCO player of the year. Like I said, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m all but certain that you can’t win in tough road environments without a running game and as of right now, Kansas doesn’t have one. The early drive that stalled at the 10 after being stopped at 3rd&1 and then 4th&1 was the single most disappointing moment of the year.

All of that being said, I’m not ready to put all of this on Jake and Jocques. Warinner still hasn’t really gotten either of them outside and I’ve still yet to figure out why. And just as importantly, this offensive line still hasn’t gelled as a unit. Last night was the first time they had all started together, so it stands to reason that as they get more comfortable with each other things will improve; something they certainly showed from just the first to second half last night.

The defensive LVP was: The defensive ends. I’m kind of picking nits here, because it’s hard to argue with 267 total yards (78 on one play) and 0 points allowed. However, to not sack Bennett even one time is very disappointing. True, they made him run around a little and even chased him out for a loss a couple of times, but especially on that nearly 10 minute drive, lack of pressure was clearly an issue.

While not an LVP candidate, I am worried about Isiah Barfield. He didn’t look too bad, but if Kendrick Harper is out for any period of time (and as of right now we have no reason to believe he won’t be), the depth and experience at corner takes a big hit, because I’m not sure either Barfield or Powell are ready for every down duty. That said, Strozier has looked great as the first nickel back and I won’t be surprised to see him move to the outside if this is an issue.

Running game watch: Eh. I wish I had more to report here, but I’m still not sure what they have to offer. All three backs look plenty suitable, but only one seems to be putting up the numbers. I think it’s safe to say we’ll need to see more as soon as Friday, which leads me to…

The new tackles: looked better. At least marginally, but clearly there is still work to be done. Everyone looks fine in pass protection, but obviously theres nother sie to this story. The really frustrating thing is that the interior linemen don’t seem to be getting any more of a push than the tackles. I feel like they’re all hitting their first guy decently, because there seems to be a quick hole, but it’s closed before you know it. Part of this could be the backs, but I think just as big a part is none of them getting to the second level.

The skill blocking: is still a big question mark. Jocques had one fantastic block where he upended the linebacker, but all of the backs seems to struggle with this on a consistent basis. As for TE, I thought it was interesting that Briere took the majority of the snaps, a week after seeing Dedeaux in that role and no more than a fortnight removed from being told Steward was going to be playing a major role (clearly he’s only coming in to be a pass catcher though, for now).

South Florida Fear Factor: 8.5 out of 10. Base line of 5. (+3) for this. (-1) for this. (+1) for this. (-1) for this. (+1) for this. (-1) for this. (+1.5) for this and the Kansas running game.

Heading into next week I feel: uncertain. I would feel a whole lot better if it were in Lawrence. But after seeing the energy in that stadium last year when West Virginia came to town for a weeknight ESPN game has me a little on edge. I think Kansas is definitely the better team. I think they have the better defense. I think they pass the ball a whole lot better. And I’d like to think if they can’t run it as well, they’re certainly not as inept as they’ve shown thus far. But unless I’m right about the latter, consider me very nervous.

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