Well the conference season is officially underway and though we didn’t see any upsets yesterday, I think it’s pretty safe to say we’re in for an extremely entertaining slate of games. From the looks of it, the polls really do tell the story as there’s a clear separation between the top and bottom six, with more than a couple BCS contenders.
The outcome was: welcomed with open arms. As any conference road win will be. Especially those in which you fall behind 20-0, do almost nothing right for a full 30 minutes of game time and can truly feel the entire season slipping away. Prior to yesterday I had planned to label the win much better than it would be perceived. After seeing how it went down, I’m not entirely sure if that’s even more true than I’d planned or completely the opposite. For all intents & purposes, we really did witness two entirely different games yesterday. Prior to the game I said they needed to do three things to win 37-17: 1. Show up, 2. Take care of the ball, and 3. Play assignment sound defense. In game 1, they did none of this and they lost 20-0. In game 2, they did all three and won 35-13.
Offensive MVP was: Jake Sharp. Todd and Kerry are both very viable options here, but I have to give the nod to Jake. He was the right guy at the right time and in addition to sparking the entire rally, he carried the load on the ground throughout the remainder. Hopefully he can build off this (and it wasn’t just a product of the ISU rush defense), but whatever happens here on out, you can’t deny that Jake, as much anyone, won that game yesterday.
Before we move on, I have to give Kerry a little kudos as well. Watching him and Crabtree (also a former QB), I’m starting to wonder if all these great athletes that are just average quarterbacks shouldn’t be turned into WRs. He always seems to be open and he always catches anything near him. People often ask me where this team would be without Todd at QB, with Kerry running the offense. And while I think Todd’s the better fit for this system, I think we’d notice even a bigger fallout at WR by not having Kerry out there.
Defensive MVP was: Joe Mortensen & Mike Rivera. I couldn’t decide who was better. Watching the game I thought it was Mike as it seemed like he was flying around and always near the ball. Then I actually checked the stats and it was Joe in a landslide with 8 tackles, 2 FL, 1 sack, & a forced fumble (Mike had 7 tackles, 1 FL and a QB hurry). So take that for what you will, but since I haven’t re-watched the game yet I’m going to make them co-winners for the day.
Offensive LVP was: the offensive line. For starters, they played 8 different guys. It seems like Capra has pretty much taken the guard spot from Mayes. It also seems like Hatch is now entrenched at left tackle, while Spikes shared some time with Leuken and Darton. I really wish I had a better solution for what’s going on, but among other things, I think they really need to figure out who their five best are and let them gel as a unit. Secondly, the team averaged only 4 yards a carry (*) on a pretty shitty run defense. And lastly, they allowed 3 first half sacks to a team that had logged four total on the year. To be fair, they didn’t allow any the second half and the running game actually looked competent as well, but since the first half counts too, we'll keep them here.
Defensive LVP was: the secondary. Long story short, they made Austen Arnaud look fantastic. And to be fair, he’s MUCH better than he was last year and has a pretty good set of receivers. But it continues to amaze me how our corners can play such soft coverage (almost never pressing) and still let guys behind them. While we’re here I should mention that I thought Kendrick (2 PDs) was noticeably better than the freshman triumvirate and it will be important to keep him healthy for the long haul. However, he is definitely not in game shape and we need to find a way to get these guys ready for Norman, because as of right now that game terrifies me beyond belief.
The running game: showed some life. At least in the second half. It’s hard to get too excited about this because ISU is pretty awful defending the run and it’s not exactly like we saw anything all that impressive. But if memory serves Jake did not run in the first half and he finished with 19 for 79. Sadly, we haven’t seen anything better yet this year and it could not have come at a better time. Nothing is fixed and this is almost assuredly going to be a problem all year, but at least we have some reason for optimism now.
The skill blocking was: much better. As mediocre as the running game was, it was noticeably better on the outside. I’ll know more after I re-watch it in a better state of mind, but it’s hard not to assume that much of this is attributable to Dexton’s return.
The pass rush was: at least existent. Stat wise they generated 2 sacks, 2 hurries and the line batted two balls and intercepted another. But like pretty much everything else yesterday, it was non-existent early, great during the comeback and at least serviceable at the end as they held on. Barring injury, I can’t think of a reason Jake Laptad shouldn’t be the starter from here on out. He’s clearly the only one capable of consistently generating pressure and he appears to be much more gap sound than a year ago.
Colorado fear factor is: 4 out of 10. Base line of 5. (-1) for being at Memorial. (+1) because of the first half yesterday. (-1) because Dan Hawkins is taking “take your kid to work day” a little too literally.
Going into next week I feel: pretty confident. As the year began I thought Colorado could be a test, but ultimately wouldn’t have enough offense to stay with the Hawks for four quarters. As the year has gone on I’ve found myself thinking even less of Colorado. Through five games (in which they’ve faced only 1 legitimately good defense in Texas) they’re averaging only 4.6 yards per play. They’re currently 89th nationally with 325.6 ypg, one small notch above La Tech at 325.25 ypg. They’re currently allowing 354.2, or about 30 more than they’re gaining. Not good.
But bigger picture, I’m just not so sure. There are some glaring holes. And there aren’t many games left where they could get away with a half like the first one yesterday (KSU might be the only one). But all that said, they have a plenty capable defense. And when the offense is humming, it looks nearly unstoppable. At this point, I think all we know is that while this team does just about everything as well as they did last year, they’re never going to be as consistent until they develop a running game. Which may or may not ever happen.
* - The stats will say three yards per carry. But that's including the 25 lost on Todd's 3 sacks. But since that's simply another sign of NCAA ignorance (among many), I choose to ignore them. Eliminate those plays and it comes out as just under four per carry.
p.s. Isn't our country in enough of a financial crisis without Chase Daniel trying to turn one of our brightest monetary minds into a low class douche...