Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ah, Victory

The Falcons came up with the win Saturday against Kent State, and it was a good one to get. Yes, I know Kent is not a good football team, but they're no worse than EMU or Miami. We needed the win and we got it.

There were lots of things to like about the win.

The first and best thing is that we came out and played in the first half. After a season of slow starts, we essentially had the game put away by halftime, kept Kent off the field...all the stuff we have not been doing lately. The offense scored four touchdowns (not field goals) and the defense allowed Kent only 3 first downs.

It was the kind of football we were expecting to see all year.

The single thing that I thought distinguished our program last year was that the coaches showed some resourcefulness when they realized we couldn't run the ball, and put AT into the rotation at TB. It saved the season and got us into a bowl game.

I thought yesterday's win showed the same trait again. While the team itself is pretty healthy, Geter didn't dress, Bullock is not 100%, and AT went down again yesterday (this is one to watch, it does not look good). So, the Falcons went and got Jason Rice, a R-FR who has been a DB, a LB, and now a RB in his short BG career.

A former walk-on who played his way into a scholarship, coach has been mentioning that he has been getting reps in the backfield. Well, he had an outstanding game yesterday (see the Superman post that proceeds this one). And as Kent was battling back, he provided us with the jolt we needed to stem the tide.

(The classic moment was when he first got the ball, and the PA announced attributed the carry to Giovanni Farrari or something, our other #27 and a player I had, candidly, never even heard of).

To get an idea how far Rice has come, you can't even click on his name on the roster at the Falcon website. I imagine that will be addressed this week.

The other thing I thought we did that showed some resourcefulness was involved Sheehan in the running game. And, he obliged, with a 109 yard day (1 running TD) on only 14 carries. Coach said in the post-game that we saw on film that QBs could run against Kent, and we took advantage of it.

Its an important dimension to have. Tyler isn't fast (by anyone's measure), but he can run the ball under the right circumstances. I think it has been frustrating that teams seem to run 9 guys to where we are going, and we don't seem to take advantage of the rest of the field, which is open (which was, I thought, the point of the SPREAD offense).

Anyway, today, when they rushed to cover the flats, Tyler would pump fake there, and then run forward, and he did a great job, even in the first half.

The defense was oustanding in the first half. You hold a team to 3 first downs in a half, that's pretty good. There were also two picks....just a solid defensive performance. They kept Jarvis from doing too much (11 for 30 in the first half), and he only ended up with 19 carries, a victory on its own. Getting a big lead is the best antidote to an offense like Kent's, and the defense took advantage the way they should.

I do give Kent credit. Even down 28-0 and in the middle of a dismal season, they came out in the second half and they were fired up. And, we obliged them by coming out, getting a false start and then needing a timeout before we could run our first play. Then, they got a pick and scored off it, and the track meet was on.

Kent never quite went away until the end. And if you are a paranoid fan, well, you don't really relax, but in retrospect, it never got down to two scores, and we were in pretty good shape most of the time.

There were a couple of additional breaks. Momentum certainly could have turned when Sheehan fumbled, but the replay said he was down and we got the ball back. A short field could have given Kent a TD and made it as close as 8 points.

And, Kent had a chance to cut the lead to 13 points with a FG, but Andrew Johnson got the block and Kenny Lewis a nice return and we scored a few plays later to finally put the game in the bag.

The primary storyline of the second half was whether we would ever figure out how to stop Julian Edelman. He absolutely shredded the Falcon defense. It was amazing to see. He ended up with 170 yards and 7.4 yards per carry, and dominated the second half. He's a good QB, he also completed several passes when the defense opened gaps while chasing him around.

Its crazy playing a guy like that. He goes back to pass, his pocket collapses, he's dodging and running, but no one can get a hand on him, and he goes running downfield and there's no one there. We eventually put a spy on him, and that seemed to help a little.

It reminded me of a very cold November day (the last that Urban Meyer coached in the Doyt), where I huddled with an even smaller gathering of Falcon Faithful. It had snowed, and the wind was whipping off the snow and it was just a cold, cold day. We had them beat, but they kept coming back, using (this time) Joshua Cribbs, and we just couldn't shut him down. I kept thinking, if we get a big enough lead, I can leave, but we didn't. Finally, Cribbs left the game after getting injured on a 2-point conversion.

Anyway, Coach said in the post-game presser that we "contained" Edelman pretty well, sending linguists to their dictionary to see if there were any alternative meanings of "contain."

But, a day later, you have to say, they did what they needed to do to get off the field with a win. Yes, he ran all over the place, but they were way behind by then, thanks to a dominating first half.

So, it was a win. A win we absoutely had to have, and got. Our first home win. The crowd was poor (about 10K), and that's to be expected. You don't lose your first three home games at BG and expect people to keep coming. It will probably be worst for the finale with Buffalo.

A couple of other final notes. It was also great to see us throw the ball down the field a little. Yes, the screens worked well, too, but we had some really nice plays down field too. Chris Wright had a great game (as Freddie Barnes did not dress either).

Next is OU, who is also having a poor season, but its on the road, and they have to be thinking about their chance to get a win. We'll look at all the permutations in the upcoming week, but the "race" for the MAC East certainly goes on.

For today, we went out and figured out how to move the ball, and our run defense played a good half, and all is well with the world.

No comments :