Monday, September 05, 2005

Falcons Lose at Wisconsin

I haven't written up my thoughts about the Wisconsin game yet, mostly because I only saw the game starting in the late third quarter. I have the tape, but I have not have a chance to look at it yet. But, based on what I saw, here are my thoughts.

For most of our history, that game would have been an assumed loss. More than that, we would have expected to get absolutely spanked, and we did many times. This is one of the first times we went into a game like that thinking we should win. There's nothing wrong with that.

My biggest fear is that we are becoming the Indianapolis Colts--great offense, no defense. I have never wanted us to be one-dimensional, yet I fear that is the direction we are going. Good teams increasingly hang big numbers on us--such as the Toledo game last year. And that is not a formula for a championship team.

I think I wrote here that I was worried they would just bowl us over with their big line and strong RBs, and that was exactly what happened. I'm afraid I drank the kool-aid a little in terms of what we were capable of in Madison, but I really wanted to see us win. Our defense simply isn't good enough for us to win big games on the road, yet. Coach said after the game that it looked to him like we just didn't tackle very well, which has been an ongoing problem.

On the other hand, we were within inches of winning the game, really. We should have scored off that cluster-f*ck at the end (what a disaster that was), and Charles Sharon dropped a sure TD pass in the fourth quarter, along with several others. We could easily have scored 56 points. We just shouldn't have had to.

Corey Partridge is going to be a stud. Let's not doubt that. I did think in the part of the game I did see that we were going to Sharon on almost every play. Now, I know the offense is based on reads, so I wonder if its a case of Omar locking onto Sharon, or a case of Wisconsin deciding that's what they were going to give us. Sanders only had four catches in the game, and with Sharon having the dropsies, we needed someone else.

I do worry about the depth at WR. I think this much is clear. Its not the 5-deep we had last year.

Omar was very good. Add those drops in, and he has his normal numbers. Yes, the offense hit the doldrums in the third quarter, but we shouldn't have to score on every possession to win.

BJ Lane played well...he is a quality players. He's not as good as PJ, but any team should be able to win with him in the lineup. I am a little worried about Pope, because I read he sprained both his ankles on the play. Without him, we have questionable depth at RB. He should definitely be rested in Muncie. Our two biggest games are the last two of the season, so we need him healthy and rolling then.

We didn't run the ball very well. Lane had 3.9 yards/carry, and Pope had 3.0 while he was in there. Of course, for some of the time we were way down, but I think sometimes in big games (note UT last season) we forget to run the ball in big games. We have a good running game.

Winning on the road in front of a huge crowd was never going to be easy. We also didn't have any additional advantage we had in Purdue, in that this was the first game for both teams.

We continue to struggle against good teams on the road. Assuming Wisconsin ends the season with a winning record, we are now 1-10 against winning teams ont the road in the Meyer/Brandon era. The win was Purdue 03. Losses were Marshall 01, NIU 02, S. Florida 02, Toledo 02, OSU 03, Miami 03, NIU 04, Oklahoma 04, Toledo 04 and Wisconsin 05.

Finally, let's keep this in mind. Last year, the Rockets got absolutely savaged in their out of conference games. They were humiliated at Minnesota. And they still won the MAC Championship, which is our only goal for this year. So, while the loss hurts, (and I think Boise will be tough, notwithstanding their whupping at Georgia) it doesn't count. We have until the Miami game to get our stuff together and be ready to win on the road against a good team. Let's root for our players and coaches to figure it out.

I know we're not likely to run into a line that big or a RB that good again this year. Still, every decent RB in the MAC gets 100 yards against us, so its not like this is new. Coach always cites scoring defense as what really matters, which I understand. But if it does, we have some work to do.

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