Victory over OU, Falcons Control Destiny
The Falcons cruised to a 38-14 victory tonight at the Doyt, in a game that was close for a lot of it. OU played with a lot of heart, and (see below), our special teams did everything they could to try and give the game away. (It was 21-14 BG with about 5:00 left in the third). But, in the end we won comfortably, and will win the East if we win out.
Attendance was 14,177, which was a little disappointing. It is Fall Break, but I don't think the shortage was in the student section. It was a brisk, but entirely comfortable night, if you dressed warm.
As Joe Piscopo would say, "FALCONS! BOBCATS! THE BIG STORY? DEFENSE!"
Yes, defense. Coach was a little snarky in his post-game presser about how good Wisconsin and Boise are on the ground, but he can't deny that we played far worse than we should have in those games.
Today, the defense really rose to the occasion, and bailed the team out, especially when the offense was stalled and the special teams were throwing things away. How many times have we thought about the D bailing the O out?
OU had 10 first downs. As a team, they didn't get 100 yards rushing, and they are committed to running the football and controlling clock. They averaged only 4 yards per play. Most importantly, we got off the damn field. OU was 2 of 13 on third down. We were tough in the red zone. I thought we tackled well (for a change). We did give up some big plays, but the defense largely dominated this game.
I don't think OU is a high octane offense, but we did bring some D to the party--for the first time in many weeks. Let's hope we can keep it up. It was a positive.
Charles Sharon is simply fabulous. 10-185 and a TD, several huge catches just when we needed it, and he's very tough to bring down in the open field. If he's not All-MAC this year, there shouldn't be any more ALL-MAC teams.
Omar was fine, he certainly put the numbers up. His accuracy still isn't right on--he was 24 of 41. He set the school TD record after a season and a half--a record set by Brian McClure in four seasons of non-stop starting. Omar is not as dominant to date as he was last season. I don't know why. That's a high standard, no doubt. They did get a little pressure, but it wasn't real strong. He just seems to miss some open guys, where last year he never, ever did.
BJ Lane delivered for 93 yards and 2 TDs, right when we needed it. In the post-game quotes, Solich said they couldn't let us establish the run, and yet we ran for 192 yards, and 4.3/carry. The only big downside was that PJ, who seemed like his old self, appeared to hurt his ankle again. I hope he doesn't make the trip to Buffalo.
- There were some critical moments. When OU was close in the final seconds of the first half with a chance to tie the game, and Everson scrambled to the left. He proceeded to telegraph his pass like no pass has ever been telegraped. Jelani stepped up, made the INT. If OU scores, its 14-14, with them getting two TDs in the final :46 of the half, and they go into the locker room with a huge momentum edge. That INT was a huge play.
- The goal line stand and missed FG off the first drive really set the tone for our defense. I think it gave us some confidence and got the crowd fired up.
- Its 28-14 with 11:59 left in the game, and we're deep in our own territory and not moving the ball real well. Its 3rd and 17 on our own 13. If we have to get another crappy punt that deep (or they block it), they could stick it right down our throat and make it a game again. Instead, Omar finds Sharon for 47 yards on a third and very long, and we end up with a FG that largely ices the game. It was a big pass.
Omar is no runner. That becomes clearer and clearer. He had a nice scramble for a 20-yard first down, but on scripted runs, he looks awful.
OK, on to Buffalo. A good win. Everyone else in the East has a loss. This team has to continue to get better. Let me leave with these thoughts.
- More than anything, if the defense really, really has turned the corner, its the best news we could have gotten.
- If the special teams don't improve, we won't beat any good teams.