Tuesday, September 20, 2011

USC game thoughts

Once again I was at the game live and watched again on DVR. These are my thoughts.

We are now a quarter of the way through the season. Before the season I picked us to go 6-6 but be 1-2 at this point. So we are ahead of the game. However after watching the first 3 games I am concerned we do not get to 6 Ws and a Bowl. Overall I have been happy with our O, especially our passing game. But the total lack of a running game is a concern. However the biggest concern is the D. We are lacking talent, lacking experience, and have had several injuries. IMO that is all made worse by our conservative style. I think this causes a mismatch for many of the teams remaining on our schedule. I still think we will end 6-6 but the Ws will go from preseason Toledo, RU, Tulane, Louisville, Cincy to Tulane, Louisville, UConn, Cincy due to the style of D we have played the last 8 games.

Thought the end of the first half was a bit risky but I understand his thinking. Happy with the rest.

I guess you can nit pick the 2nd and 2 from the 5. Perfect play action situation and we just called a pass play that lost yardage. Rest of the game you have to like what you saw.

G-U-T-L-E-S-S Where in sam hell did our aggressive style of play go? And it isn't just this year. We have played 8 straight games where the D has just sat back all game. And before that we sat back vs Washington and Colgate too. As great as we looked against WV, Cincy, and USF last year we have looked as bad in the other 13 games. It is starting to look like the good games are outliers and this concerns me.

This year we lack talent and experience. So what is the plan? Sit back and try to cover vs Os with more talent and experience? That is asinine. Until we have the talent, we should be playing like Rutgers does on D. They are aggressive as hell. Feast or famine. TD or TO. They don't have a lot of talent and their style works very well against bad and mediocre teams. However when playing decent teams they struggle. But you know what? When you lack talent you will struggle anyway against good teams. So you might as well take a chance and hope you get TOs vs good teams. And when you play mediocre or bad teams you look great.

I don't mind being conservative on D in the first half. Then depending on how the game plays out ramping up pressure when needed or if behind in the second half. I get to idea of not taking chances early to keep the game close. But when you fall well behind USC on the road, why just sit back? Makes zero sense. We rarely if ever blitz anymore. But the crazy thing is when we do, we have success (see end of RI and end of USC games). And how in the hell are we stuck in single coverage if we aren't blitzing? Where are the safeties?

It also kills me to see us sit back in a Zone on 3rd and long while rushing 3 DLs. If we had a good pass rushing DL you could get away with it. But not our DL. teams convert 3rd downs with ease. I bet you teams are over 50% on 3rd and long when we rush 3 DL (and we do it A LOT). That is crazy as 3rd and long should be around a 25% conversion rate. Hell the FG before half for USC they got two 3rd and longs in a row to set up the score. Both times 3 man rush. It is silly to think we can cover USC with zero pass rush. If Shafer keeps this up, I hope he goes elsewhere next year. In fairness he has always seemed like an aggressive DC. Wonder if he is being handcuffed?

Nassib is having a good season. Have to like the way he has played so far. Besides a throw at Lemon's feet in the flat on third and long I liked what he did. Looked good in the pocket too. His fumble late hurt as we could have kept the score respectable with some points there.

Liked the way we used Bailey getting him some catches. Gulley looked good in limited action. However I think we need to get a real RB. We really miss having a workhorse. Not sure anyone on the roster can fill that role.

Chew was pretty quiet and likely overmatched by USC's talent. Kid is great against every other team though. Lemon had another nice game. He did have a very big 3rd down drop that could have kept early momentum. But overall good game. Also he threw a TD pass, although it wasn't pretty. We really need a 3rd WR and I worry about our depth. Thankfully Provo filled that role this game and hope he can keep it up.

We just cannot run between the Ts. We have very weak run blocking. I really think we are better off going Spread. That will help us run the ball IMO. The problem is we only have 2 WRs. Chibane continues to struggle this year and Macky is not ready for this level.

The DTs have been a nice surprise this year. Like how they are playing especially Goggins. They have played a key role in making our run D pretty damn good. The DEs are a huge concern. The have zero ability to get pressure on a QB. We miss Chandler A LOT. Marinovich isn't that good and likely wouldn't play at other BE schools. I had hopes for Sharpe but he is now a JR and hasn't stepped up. He made a dumb play (ticky tacky but still dumb) that turned a 3rd and long into a first down. We better recruit a lot of DEs cuz we need them badly. Especially with the style of D that we play relying only on the DL for a pass rush.

It seemed Davis played less this game. Wonder if he is still hurt. We saw Coker early in the game which was a surprise.

Thought the CBs played pretty well. Scott got screwed on a PI, awful call. Almost got screwed later as well. Love Keon Lyn. Hopefully he is ok. That seems to be a theme this year at DB. Anderson, Lyn, both Thomases, and Fisher have all been hurt. It worries me that Shamarko seems to be always be hurt. Phil Thomas continues to struggle. He should have had two picks but misplayed both balls. Then on the play Reddish was beat deep he was just sitting there in a slow back peddle. He needs to do a better job of recognizing the play and then getting over to help. He had zero concern for the WR. Have to wonder if he keeps his job when everyone is back healthy.

Kobena struggled as he tried to use his speed to make things happen instead of just getting up field. That doesn't work vs USC. Raupers was replaced. His punts have been well too short but at least there was no return yardage. Still it seems time to seem what Fisher can do.

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