Friday, September 04, 2009

With a day to reflect...

I'm still feeling pretty good about the win last night. That said, here are some thoughts I have upon reflection.

  • First, I just got around to Coach Clawson's post game presser. In between a lot of what he admits is "coachspeak," there were some other things to say that I thought were interesting from a football standpoint.
  • The first was that the many throws to Freddie Barnes was not the game plan. It was just an offense designed to take what they gave us. They were playing the corners back "to the boundary" and that left Freddie's zone open. When they rolled the corners up, that's when you saw Tyler to go the inside seam, as he did looking for Pronty and Geter, for example.
  • Coach also notes that the team will be forced to diversify because Barnes will be in the opposing gameplans now. This will be an opportunity for Wright, Hudson, Hodges and Pronty to get things going.
  • He was asked about how the defense came around in the second half. First, he noted that we had two new corners who might have been a little intimidated and played soft at first. (Spencer admitted in the presser to being sick to his stomach before the game). But, they gained confidence as the half went on and played tighter, and of course, both got INTs and Spencer scored with his.
  • The tighter coverage took away the quick game, and that came at about the same time as the Falcon defensive coaches switching up the rush patterns to generate pressure on Levi Brown. They then mixed that up (and it included 2 men fronts at times, with some defenders rushing and some dropping into passing lanes) with even more blitzes to get a huge amount of pressure on Levi Brown.

I was disappointed, however, that no one asked Coach about the success of the front 7 in the stopping the run. DuJuan Harris was absolutely stifled, and in no way did our line have troubles against the run, even with 2 man fronts.

I do not recall a time when we blitzed and got home that much. It simply was the most sustained pressure by a Falcon defense I can remember. We had 2 sacks and 7 hurries. By comparison, Troy had one of each. (Those 9 plays came from 9 different players, which is pretty amazing).

There were a few key points to the game. In my mind, the whole thing was possible because the offense went down and got 7 points after we fell behind 14-0. On that drive, we converted a 3-11 to Freddie Barnes and a Freddie Barnes wildcat on 4th down before Sheehan hit Freddie with a 31 yard pass. If we don't convert either of those two plays and give the ball back, it would be different.

Then, we had an unfortunate kick coverage lapse, and suddenly Troy was inside our 40 again. It was beginning to look like the momentum would just flow right back out again. It was 3-2 from our 18, and Troy tried to run Harris twice, and he picked up one yard total and the defense got a huge hold that kept us in the game and sent us into the locker room feeling good.

Then in the third quarter, Troy was again in business inside our 20. But Brown was forced to throw it away three times in a row under pressure, and then BG got a break when Troy missed the FG.

We punted, and then picked up one of two turnovers in the second half when Roger Williams got an INT. We took it inside the 10 this time, and it was Troy's turn to stiffen, but BG made the FG and took the lead they would never relinquish.

That was with 10:45 left. From that point on, it was all BG as the Falcons dominated on both sides of the ball and scored two more touchdowns and took the victory going away.

I think we had an advantage that we exploited. First, the new coaching staff is always a mystery to the first opponent. They had no idea what our blitz packages would look like, etc. And I do think we had Troy off guard for much of the second half.

Having said that, we obviously played far from a perfect game. In the first half, we killed our drives with dropped passes, penalties and an interception, and Troy moved the ball pretty easily. Our kickoff coverage left something to be desired, and can improve. The running game never really got going.

All that is there to be fixed. It was an excellent and unexpected start, and if it can be sustained, establishes us clearly as someone who can play for the East title.

Beyond that, I think all Falcon fans were heartened to see the team bounce back from adversity, show some offensive variety, go downfield with passes, and (most of all) send us home happy and satisfied. I think we are all encouraged that Coach Clawson is developing a team that knows how to win and will.

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