Sunday, November 30, 2008

Missouri React

Well, that was euphoric. Like I said yesterday, that really had to be the best game I have ever attended. Great offense. Opportunistic defense. Not sloppy at all (6 total penalties). All in all, just two teams laying it in the line in a rivalry game. In reality, these two offenses are so filled with playmakers, it was likely going to come down to who had the ball last. For all intents and purposes, that was us, and I couldn’t be happier for it.

Offensive MVP was: Todd Reesing. You just can’t say enough about the job he did yesterday. And now knowing that he couldn’t lift his right arm a week ago, I’m even more impressed. His pocket presence is uncanny, his determination is relentless and his confidence is infectious. Let’s just say I’m pretty ecstatic about him returning alongside Dez Briscoe and Kerry Meier for one more year.

Defensive MVP was: Darrell Stuckey. And calling this one a no-brainer doesn’t do it justice. Two interceptions and forcing & recovering Booger’s fumble – simply incredible. I said we needed to force the issue and Stuckey was a bigger part of that than anyone else. Hats off to Clint and the entire defense for generally doing a good job on a great offense (especially confusing them early), but Stuckey was without a doubt the catalyst of it all.

Note: We won’t be selecting LVP’s this week, because candidly, this was an entire team effort in every sense of the phrase. There were mistakes on both sides, sure, but to point a least valuable finger would not be doing justice to the overall effort and execution put forth by everyone.

Unsung heroes include: Alonso Rojas, Jacob Branstetter, James Holt, Jake Sharp and the entire offensive line. Rojas’ punting helped contain the unreal talent that is Maclin and led to the safety. Branstetter’s kickoffs were actually pretty shitty, but he tackled Maclin twice, made his only FG attempt and drilled home all 5 PATs. Holt only registered 6 tackles, one of which was a six yard sack, but what didn’t show up statistically was the emphasis (and overall good job) their o-line put on him, but also the push he provided forcing Booger to move in the pocket a little more than he likes.  Jake's 20 carries for 48 yards and a TD was nothing great, but making Eberflus account for him, especially on the outside spread out the field for everyone else. To carry 20 times in that game with broken ribs is nothing short of incredible. While the o-line struggled to consistently make holes for Jake, they generally did a great job forming a pocket for Todd. Sulak got to him twice and Todd obviously did some scrambling, but all in all, the pocket was there all day.

The special teams: were as much to credit as anything for the win. You simply can’t underestimate the effect Briscoe’s returns had on the offense. Field position has been an issue for us all year and yesterday it was not. Just as importantly, we never let Maclin break free and credit there goes to Rojas and both coverage teams as they were solid all day. We turned what was a decided disadvantage going in, into an advantage that played a big part in us coming out with a win.

Congrats to: Missouri.  For earning a second straight co-championship of the Big XII north.  And to Nebraska for fighting back to share it with them after that embarrassing loss early.  I get the sense that these two teams, along with Kansas, may be the only three in contention in the near future. 

Thanks: to Gary Pinkel. For not using a time out after the completion to Perry, resulting in a loss of two important seconds and not letting them run an extra play to get it closer than the 36.  Also, thanks for running Alexander on an out route even though you still had 2 timeouts and we were pretty much conceding the middle of the field.  We knew you still had it in you.  Much appreciated.

The uniform battle: was another win for Kansas.  I've been asking for white on white for a while and I was not disappointed.  Very cool.  As for the golds they brought out - what were they thinking?  The front was bright, while 3/4 of the back were darker and both were a different shade than the gold on their helmet.  It really is a shame they didn't bring out the gold pants too, but it was hideous all the same.  And yet I'm not surprised in the least bit.

Fear factor: can’t really be determined without an opponent. But operating under the assumption that we’ll head to the Insight Bowl and be paired with the sixth selection from the Big 11, I feel pretty confident. A quick glance at the standings has Wisconsin occupying that spot, so that’s my best guess. And since there are exactly two teams in the entire conference that I’m not sure we would beat, I’m pretty confident as of now. Obviously much more on this later.

Going into next month I feel: ecstatic. Look, any idiot that understands football realizes that even a 6-6 season would not have invalidated what happened a year ago. We lost four draft picks and a couple other all-conference selections. We were going to drop off. And while it’s being written off as a product of the schedule change – which is obvious – everyone seems to be forgetting that while those three teams are all top 5 caliber this year, they all had three losses a year ago, with five of those nine coming to unranked teams. But with all of that said, this loss saved our season. On a national level it saved us from a perception standpoint. And on a local level, it saved us on an interest standpoint. Disappointing as it is, there are still a lot of fair-weather fans with this newfound football success and to beat Missouri, especially in that fashion, a lot of them will come crawling back. But most important of all, it does a lot for the program. Now a winning season is guaranteed and with a win in the bowl game this becomes an 8-5 season. Eight wins with one of the toughest schedules in the country shows that you’re building a program of continuity. While not as flashy as 12-1 and Orange Bowl champions, that is just as important if we’re interested in any sort of prolonged success. Which we are.

Rock Chalk!

1 comment:

DJ-HawkDigest said...

Good call on mentioning Rojas -- he was a huge factor. Plus switching to Briscoe on kick returns. Good to see that Herford got to have his moment as well as a wide receiver -- that was a bizarre twist.