That famous quote from Shafer was true to form in the Wake game. Statistically SU was beaten up. But at the end of the day the scoreboard read in SU's favor. Personally I am not in agreement with Shafer, as I believe over time you cannot be on the wrong side of the stat line and be successful.
Since this was the first game, it is hard to determine how much stock to put into SU's performance. if what we saw Thursday night is what we will see all year, then SU is in trouble and may not make a Bowl. However I expect this to be a very different team by the time we play Toledo. So without getting too much into the negatives, here are my observations having seen the game live and then again on ESPN3.
Game in general
This win really was an upset. Watching the game you could tell which team was the more talented. That is a very disappointing statement. If we are a bit aways from Wake in talent, then we still have a long way to go. Wake left a lot of points on the field. We were really lucky to hang around and steal this game. Also I felt that Wake was the better coached team. Their play calling on both sides of the ball seemed a step ahead all game long. An aside here, Wake had quite a few kids from Texas. I know that SU used to get a few kids here and there from Texas. Hopefully with TCU joining the BE, we can start getting some kids from there. If Wake can no reason why we cannot.
There were quite a few times where the team seemed disorganized. Since it is the first game I am going to move on. The TOs in the 4th Q were odd. I believe his thinking there is to keep as much time on the clock should we need two scores. That way we should we miss the 2 pt conversion, we would still have time to score. I am a fan of extending games as long as possible but I don't see the need here. I don't believe Wake was looking to kill the clock quite yet. So the TO would save more time later in the game. However maybe Marrone also wanted the TO to make sure the D was set up to make a stop and get the ball back. Which you cannot blame him for. Then he used his final TO after the 3rd down. That IMO should have been kept for later use. While the use of the TOs was unconventional, it really was not a big deal.
Now on to something that has a HUUUUUGE deal. The last drive was horseshit. First of all the 2nd down play we barely got off and were barely setup. We had to rush to get the play off before a delay of game coming out of a TO!!! Totally unacceptable. The play was doomed for failure. On top of that why play for a FG? There was over 3 mins left. Waaaaay too much time to play for three. Not to mention that snaps, holds, kicks, and blocks make FGs in CFB far from a sure thing. Ok now we are on the right hash and have a 3rd down. Why not throw the ball there? Why not go for 7? What do you have to lose? A sack moves you back a few yards but we were at the 10, so yardage wasn't an issue. Plus we ended up taking a delay of game anyway so I am sure we weren't worried about yardage. If the pass fell incomplete then the clock stops. Ok if there was under 2 mins left in the game I could see how you want to leave as little time for Wake to counter as possible. However there was over 3 mins left!!!! They have plenty of time for a TD, let alone a FG to tie. IMO 40 secs is not worth 4 points. Lastly there would be a chance of an INT, but you can say the same about a fumble from a running play. Marrone was lucky that this didn't cost SU the game. Partially thanks to Grobe for not calling another play from midfield with 50 seconds left.
Lets end things with a positive. Great job keeping the kids in it. They never gave up and played hard till the end. We know that we will get that with Marrone. And in most cases we will have an advantage pn game planning and adjustments. I just wish his time management and strategy were better. They are easy things to improve, which makes it frustrating we he makes mistakes.
I really do not have much to say about him as much as our system. I will say that I hate having QBs roll to their left as that is a difficult throw. I think this game we wanted to run the ball. Marrone has said before that he wants to pound the ball vs 3 man fronts. However I think that plays away from our strengths this year. Having double TEs instead of 3 WRs, a smaller C, and a smaller RB is a formula for pounding the FB. And we looked like a functional O once we opened it up in the 4th Q. Same can be said last year vs K St. I know K St had a bad D but were they really significantly worse than the other 12 teams we played last year? And was Wake so good that we had NEGATIVE yardage after 1 Q?
I really think part of our issues coem from our system. We don't have many play makers on O. When that happens it is very difficult to score using a pro style O. That is why so many teams run college Os to make up for this. It is an equalizer. Just about everyone out there has a functional O, except for SU. Even teams with little talent. How can that be? I don't think it is a coincidence that when we open things up we look liek a real O.
He is starting to enter overrated territory. This is 6 straight games now where the D has struggled to get off the field. Our D hasn't dictated play since the CIncy game. That isn't what I want out of an O. I will say that in Shafer defense he was not very happy after the win. He knows that we need to improve a lot on D. I will also say in his defense that we likely gameplanned to shut down the Wake RB. We did that. The problem is we did not get it done on 3rd and long. Which unfortunately is becoming a pattern for Shafer's D. 3rd and short or 3rd and medium, teh O still is at an advanatge. However on 3rd and long the D should rarely give up a first down. They should get enough pressure where the QB has to get rid of the ball quickly and complete a pass well short of the first. But once again our D struggled in this regard. We gave up SIX 3rd and long conversions to Wake. That is insane. We got very little pressure on those plays, and in most cases did not blitz. Sending 3 DL and playing zone D is asking for a conversion.
I think the O will struggle big time all year. We don't have a work horse RB to fall back on this year. We won't be able to sustain many drives. We will need a short field and big plays to score. I do think with Bailey at RB and a greater willingness to take shots, we will see plenty of big plays. The problem is we will see a lot of short drives as well. I think we will be hit or miss with not much in between. We will struggle to have any consistency in the running game. Because of that we will not move the chains on the ground. As to the pass we are forced to throw a lot into the flat due to our protection issues. This was the case in the ED scrimmage as well. I bet you that is why Stevens was our leading receiver during camp. That is a concern to me. If we had some WRs who could break a tackle and turn it into a big play I would feel different. But that isn't the case. If we are forced to throw into the flat for 3-4 yards gains, it will be difficult to move the ball. Defenses will creep up and take that away. Then what? Not to mention it makes it harder to run with more players around the LOS. And it invites more blitzes as teams know they won't get burnt often.
We continue to struggle to get consistent pressure on the QB. However we did a great job on the Wake RB. The team is young a will improve. I think by BE season they will be fine.
Overall I think we played decent. Graham needs to know better on the penalty. The short snaps were a joke. I was a little worried on punts getting blocked as Wake put pressure every time. But over coverage looked good and Kobena looked awesome. And Raupers did a pretty nice job. The other killer was the KO out of bounds. First I hate that rule giving teams the ball at the 40. Too harsh a penalty IMO. That being said it was an awful kick by Krautman. The rest of his kicks were nice though.
I thought Nassib played well over all. He was under pressure early and often. He did have Chew deep once and threw it out of bounds, nowhere near Chew. Besides that throw he looked good. He made several strong throw in tight places. And he was able to step things up in the 4th to get us to OT.
I though Bailey had a nice game. He ran well and made a few nice blocks in pass protection. The 1st TD was a nice hard determined run. The 2nd TD run was a big time play. However the fumble was weak. At that point I think he was just trying to make something happen, as the O stunk till then. So he ran with the ball a little too lose and fumbled. He needs to do better but at least it was in effort and not laziness. Harris had a nice game as well.
Provo had that big drop early. But after that he looked like a beast. Lemon had a nice little game. Chew was awesome in the 4th Q/OT making two great catches. We didn't play much 3 WR. I hope that is not because we don't have a WR ready to fill that role (like last year until Sales was released). That is a question going forward. I think we did miss Sales and that the O will be a lot different without him. We can't go the whole year with just Chew and Lemon.
I think this is the worst unit on the team. It boggles my mind how people thought this would be a strength. Other units might be raw and make mistakes. But they alos have talent and room for improvement. The OL scares me. In the ED scrimmage we struggled mightily to run the ball between the tackles. Then vs Wake we see the same thing. How much of that is from the change from a bruising C (Bart) to a small technical one? Also the pass blocking just plain stinks. The right side of the lien struggles mightily and Mac added another piece of concern to that.
I thought the DTs had a pretty decent game. I think all made plays in the back field. However the DEs again failed to do much. It is possible that the coaches wanted our DL not to get too far up field because of the run. I am sure the #1 concern was the Wake RB. So I will give them a pass on 1st and 2nd downs. But on 3rd they still didn't do much and even lost contain a few times. Sharpe did make a few plays but Chandler and Marinovich were invisible. Time for those two to step up. At this point they need to be judged on production and not potential.
We will struggle at times because we are not physical enough. Spruill isn't your hard hitting MLB. Right now he is more the size and ability of a WLB. Davis is a FS playing the WILL.Notice how I used FS and not SS. Too often I saw him getting pushed back on blocks or missing tackles. Vaughan did make some nice plays and Lynch looked decent. I think we have plenty of talent but just need to get bigger. Unfortunately you cannot do that in season. I will say having Davis at WLB helps a lot vs teams that spread it out. He has to speed to get out on the slot and to come back in to stop a run. That will negate some of the advantage Spread Os have vs base Ds.
I like Lynn a lot. He was step for step with his man several times. He does need to improve on playing the ball but that will come in time. Scott made a big time play on the INT. On the TD I will give him a pass. He was well off the ball and had to come up and make an open field tackle on a pretty good WR. That is a hard play for any DB to make. I will say he should have at least slowed him down though. Shamwow was awesome. He was flying all over the place. I love what he brings on D. However we was beat in coverage twice. That is a concern as his coverage away from the LOS hasn't been great. The out and up was a great throw by the QB but Shamarko did over play the out, letting the WR get open. Also on the long TD pass Shamarko came up on the underneath route, leaving Phil Thomas with no help deep. Speaking of Phil, I was disappointed with him. I know that he did leave with an injury for a while. And that he has missed a bunch of camp. So I will give him the benefit here. But going forward he needs to step it up. The kid has a ton of potential and has all BE talent. But too often last year, and twice in the Wake game, Phil's decision making in coverage was lacking. That is a concern. I will end it with a positive, I like Wilkes a lot. I know he is in for the Okie but I wish we could see more of him. I think he is one of our better defenders and we should be getting our 11 best guys out there. I would love to see a 4-2-5 D with Shamarko and Wilkes both playing SS and Phil playing CF. You can have both SSs playing closer than normal for a S but further than normal for an OLB. I think that would improve our coverage and run D as well.
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