Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Morning after

Well, I 've had a night to reflect, check in with the nation, and think about last night's game. A few observations:

The crowd in was surprisingly sedate, almost resigned to mediocre football. There were days when a loss like that would have spawned a kool-aid brewing, hide the knives alert, but it is relatively quiet. This is not a good sign for the program, or any hopes of generating attendance the rest of the way.

Now, The Blade story says this was our best offensive performance, and I suppose that is true. I will contend (and will try to prove later with actual facts) that the statistics overstate the case. This was a fatally flawed offensive performance. OU had an experienced defense that had been playing pretty well, and between the 20s, BG shredded them pretty consistently. And you hate to say that a team has to score more than 37 points, but the potential was there for even more, and enough to win the game.

Still on the offense. We dropped two touchdown passes, as well as the final play, which should have been an easy first down for Freddie on that little dump pass from Tyler, which Coach said was right on the money. Never mind the circus that came should have been caught in the first place.

Offense III: While acknowledging the drops, we are still not getting the best play out of our QB. Yes, he had a career high in yards. He did throw 52 passes, however. But there was even more out there (this is perhaps the most important insight). I just got the sense that he can be indecisive, hold onto the ball too long, and then sometimes throw into coverage. There were times when he seemed to lock onto a receiver and not see a guy in the middle of the field. He even struggled into that wind--something you'd think he'd be used to doing. Coach said we needed Tyler to be the best QB in the MAC, and even removing the drops last night, he wasn't.

Offense IV: We are just deadly bad in the red zone right now. I know that we were 6 of 7, but three of those were field goals and then there was the miss at the end, so that means less than four points per trip. Even converting one of those red zone opportunities would have meant we were kicking a FG at the end to tie. And guys were open.

Offense V: That stretch or zone run to the left on fourth down was embarrassing. Everyone hates playcalls like that, when you only need a few inches. Even if it was the right call, we didn't execute at all, and OU totally blew the play up.

Offense VI: We really didn't have the run going, especially in the second half. Willie averaged 3.7 per carry with a 22 yard run. Much of what he did get he ground out on his own., which explains the 52 passes but not the run on 4th down.

Offense VII: We get a huge special teams play with about 2 minutes left when Freddie ran the ball inside the 25 yard on a great return. The idea that we (finally) got a big play like that and still fail to put the ball into the end zone is very frustrating.

Again, I get it....37 points should have been enough. But OU was giving us even more, and with simple execution we should have been able to win this as a shoot out.

Which is not to forget about the defense, which was OK in spots, but gave up way too many huge plays. In this respect, it was a lot like the Boise game. We did get stops on 3 of their first 4 possessions, and seemed to be doing OK. From there, it all kind of fell apart. OU had 419 yards on offense, a figure that would been much worse if they had run more than 54 plays.

Just FWIW, I would be interested the last time a team got 37 offensive points (not counting the PR TD) on 13 first downs.

More defense: I had mentioned in the preview that OU had not successfully run the ball, and in particular, Theo Scott had not exactly run crazy in the first few games. Well, that was a different story Saturday. Scott ripped off an option play touchdown that was simply inexcusable (and it could be argued cost us the game). OU averaged 6 yards a rush.

Still more defense: Those long runs are on the secondary. You have guys called safeties, and they are supposed to provide the last line of defense.

Ugh! More defense: Theo Scott was a low % passer, as we expected, but the middle was a gaping hole in our defense, and when he needed it, he would hit a guy on a crossing route and he would be all alone. OU's first touchdown was as easy a play as I have seen in a long time.

Aren't you done yet with the defense?: Almost. A couple of the wide open passes happened when Scott got out of the pocket and our guys ran to the ball, and huge sections of the field were completing unguarded.

I fully acknowledge that OU has some talented players. Garrett and Brazill and fast and talented. They went off on us though, and they didn't go off on anyone else, including N. Texas. They exposed our team, which expected to return 4 defensive starters and two of those 4 are gone now, as well.

Special teams: There were positives here. Phillips was money, and punting was better and Barnes had that big play. We also gave up a punt return TD (which also could be considered the difference in the game) and had that lame fake punt play that was stuffed. The bottom line here is that special teams did not help us win the game.

Officiating: Yeah, maybe I'm just used to it, but I didn't think the game was any more poorly officiated than MAC games usually are. The worst call was probably that Garrett fumble in the fourth quarter, which was corrected by replay. This did not seem to phase Coach Clawson, who relentlessly hectored the officials every time he got a chance. It will be interesting to see if that kind of thing continues, because it got to be comical. Here are his guys dropping passes and missing receivers left and right, here are his guys failing to lay a hand on OU players as they streak to touchdowns, and he's working THE OFFICIALS over. Honest to God, 75% of the time I couldn't figure out what he was complaining about.

Summation: We are 1-4. And yes, we have a lot of close losses, and maybe deserve better. But, it hasn't been bad bounces. Some like to talk about all our close losses as if we are star has been inconsistent play on both side of the ball, and a lack of execution on key plays that has cost us those close games.

All is not lost--the East is pretty wide open, and the team that can be consistent has a shot at winning. There's no reason to think that is us, but that remains to be seen. We get to head to Kent and get the away-field advantage next week, badly needing a win.

One final point: This winning at home thing has to get fixed. We had 14K for a homecoming game yesterday, and by the time we get to Akron, we may count the crowd in the dozens. (Picture what Theo Scott did throwing on the run and insert Dan Lefevour, just for fun). For the last two years, home fans have been treated to the most disappointing play our team has, and you're gonna struggle to attract fans that way.

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