Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Idaho Win....Not pretty

So with last night's caveat that we don't want to turn into one of those programs where winning isn't good enough, it is reasonable for us to stop for just a second and look at last night's game with a more careful eye.

I can't say it any more plainly than this.  With where we think our program is at this point in time, that game didn't go the way it should have.

Yes, we made enough plays to win the game.  We haven't always done that and we did.

Idaho has now lost 16 out of its last 20 games.  One to an FCS team at home.  (A good FCS team, but that shouldn't happen).

Yes, they had a new QB and he was effective.  He's not Matt Barkley, though, and I'm not sure if he's Alex get my point.

This doesn't mean we aren't the team we thought we were or won't be.  It just means we weren't last night.

Yes, the defense did make big plays in the red zone when needed.  We also did a great job keeping Idaho from running the ball.

On the other hand, their passing game just shredded us.  Blackman completed 81% of his passes (30-37) for 352 yards, a very strong 11.7 yards per attempt, especially when combined with that completion percentage.  He also did all that with no support from the running game and under pretty decent pressure from the Falcon front.

Again, he looks like a pretty good QB.  I don't know if he should have looked that good.

Idaho averaged 6.2 yards per play, which is good for them, not for us.

Now, on offense, it was a similar problem.  BG had 6 yards per play, which is good, a decent running game and pretty efficient passing, and yet ended up with only 21 points.  That happened because of two turnovers and a ridiculous number of penalties, especially for a team that played so clean down in Florida.

It was a pretty sloppy offensive effort.  Even the overall execution was not great, though it was patchy and good in certain stretches.  Again, in the 3Q when BG got that INT and had a chance to take a 2-score lead the offense did deliver a TD, and that was what we needed to win.

There was another issue, a "Close the deal" issue.  In the third quarter, BG had the ball up 21-6 and the defense had just made a big stop on 4th down to give the offense good field position.  On a 3-3 from the Idaho 18 BG had a chance to grind out a first down.  Even a FG puts the game away at that point.  Pettigrew comes in, BG opts for a flat pass to him that was telegraphed big time.  The Idaho defender jumped the route  for the INT and could easily have scored.

2:15 later, it was 21-13.

BG got the ball up 21-13 with 6:22 left.  This is exactly the kind of thing that Coach has talked about since he got here.  We need to be able to move the ball and kill the game.  (Close the deal).  Tellingly, on the first play we went deep to Joplin who caught a pass at midfield but BG turned a 2nd and 2 into a punt touchback and Idaho had the chance they needed.  Given how they had passed the ball all day, it had to be an uncomfortable feeling on the sideline.

Coach said we left the door open for them and we certainly did.  Fortunately, on the first Vandal play, Paul Swan stripped the ball, BG recovered and now had the ball with 3:31 left.  One more chance to close the door, Idaho still had 2 timeouts and with the ball on their 33, we were not in FG range.  A first down was required.

This time, on 3rd-2, John Pettigrew blasted into the line and got 7 yards for the first down.

And that was enough.  BG still committed two false start penalties in the course of running the clock out, but the game was won at that point.

Again, when I read over those words, I think to myself...this isn't how it was supposed to be.

And it doesn't need to be.  But significant improvement is needed and we play our rivals on the road Saturday.

The special teams were certainly solid...we had a lot of punt touchbacks but we didn't make any special teams plays that hurt our chances to win.

I think if you take the penalties and the two turnovers away, the offense played a pretty good game.  And I think the defense played pretty well---good on big plays and good against the run, but the pass coverage has to improve.

In other words, I do think there are a limited number of things that kept that game from being the kind of game we want, and I'm hopeful we can coach 'em up and get there.

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