Monday, September 21, 2009

The last word about Marshall....almost, maybe

So, looking back at Saturday, I wanted to think for a minute or two about our offense in particular.

It was in many ways a flashback offense. BG had 20 official running attempts, but nine of those were Tyler Sheehan either being sacked or scrambling for a yard, which means that we actually had 11 running attempts and 71 passing attempts.

This is amazing to me. It is the kind of ratio BG used to drag out against MSU or Minnesota, or some team we absolutely couldn't manage on the front line. 71 passes against 11 runs.

Beyond that, the 11 carries netted us 42 yards, which is just under 4 yards a carry, which is actually a pretty decent figure.

Still, in the post-game, the coach said we couldn't establish the run, and that led to a lot of things, including six sacks of Tyler (as the d lineman didn't have to worry about the run as they rushed the passer), the large number of slipscreens and flat passes (harkening back to the AT days), and the lack of long passes due to no confidence in the protection.

This all seemed so at odds with the actual evidence of what happened that I was beginning to wonder if we had given up on the run too soon. You always hear teams say you have to be committed to the run even when it seems not to work, and it just doesn't seem like we really gave the run a shot.

That doesn't sound like our coaches, so I decided to look a little closer.

On our first possession, BG called for passes all seven plays.
On the next possession, BG called one running play (Geter for four yards). (At this point, 11 of the first 12 plays were passes).
On the next possession, there were three passes in four plays (one a TD). (Geter gained six yards on the running play).
On the next series, we ran 10 plays, eight of them passes (Geter gained four yards on the two other plays).

Anyway, you get the idea. On one hand, we say we couldn't establish the run, but 22 of the first 26 plays from scrimmage were passes, and those 4 carries had netted 14 yards.

I cannot see any reason to think that we even tried to establish the run in those opening series. Rather, it appears that we had a game plan that said we would not be able to run against Marshall, or that we would have to establish the pass to get the run going.

Either way, I can't see how we concluded that the run wasn't working. We were never behind by a huge margin, and with the exception of the last drive (starting with just north of 2:00 left) we were at full liberty to move the ball.

Maybe I am missing something, but that's how it looks to me.

Albert McClellan, who was the C-USA Defensive player of the year last year, was an absolute beast, racking up tackles against better than some pretty good lineman at Troy and Missouri. He finished with 15 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 force fumble and 1 hurry. No wonder they asked about him three times in the post-game press conference.

On the defensive side of the ball, coach said that we had some communication issues with Keith Morgan back in place of PJ Mahone, but that we got those rectified and then eventually Marshall simplified their offense, which probably helped as well.

Marshall averaged 7.1 yards per running play, and that could have been worse, because they ripped off a 70 yard run that was called back due to an illegal block. Their answer to the difficulty they were having moving the ball was to put a squadron of tight ends into the game and then run right at us. This eventually saved Missouri and Marshall.

And, of course, the d- line was among our biggest worries coming into the season. I believe the linbebackers are doing well...even with all the rushing yardage, our LBs were our top two tacklers on Saturday. But the front line has clearly not been able to control the line of scrimmage even occasionally at key moments in the last two games, in contrast to the original performance against Troy.

It was also our worst third down performance of the season on defense.

So, that's the look at the offensive and defensive productivity. As I said yesterday, for all this, BG was inside the 20 with a chance to tie the game.

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