I know this game will be reviewed by our fanbase ad nauseum, including myself. That said, I spent the day, from UConn-UNC, Iowa/Iowa State, etc., all the way to Oregon State/UNLV tonight at sports bars staying pretty sober
and have a few thoughts after thinking on the game in the context of the day and the various boards.
- I have often heard that a QB will try to lose at least one game per year for any given team. I have found that to be relatively true. At the same time, I've always felt that truly elite AND experienced QBs on a given level will not do this. McCoy didn't do this last year and he didn't do it today. VY and Leinart in 2005 tell a similar story. We take McCoy for granted sometimes, but in watching the various other games over the first two weeks, it's easy to see that we shouldn't. The guy had a weak game today in many respects, and it was still a better performance than almost anyone else I saw. Dude was over 60% and never once looked honestly even annoyed. I see the 1st half today a lot like the 1st half of the Tech game last year. McCoy has seen better halves, but was our problem really McCoy? No, not at all.
- Along the lines of item 1, I see the real truth being something to the effect of "a QB and/or an OC will try to lose at least one game per year for you". Look, I finished my Greg Davis hating a long time ago. I came into the realization that he'll be around as long as he wants and I made my peace. That includes the post-Brown era. Maybe he is ushered into retirement at some point after Brown is gone, but Muschamp is not just going to tell the guy "good luck" when he takes the job. Anyone that has ever hired, fired, promoted, demoted, and counseled-out personnel (or anyone that has had one of those things happen to them) has to understand this. Humans just don't tell visibly successful cohorts to GTFO when they take the helm unless real, sustained hate is involved. It won't happen here. In any event, Davis called a really, really poor first half today. I thought he did something similar against Tech last year. I am hopeful that he's back to decent or better next week. His second half performance today was fine.
- We are not creating enough turnovers. Moreso than anything on offense, this concerns me. I like what our defense is doing for the most part. I also have a lot of faith in Muschamp as a thinker and an implementer. That combo is rare and that's why we like him. It gives me hope that the turnovers will come. That considered, we need to be making more plays that shift the game progression as a defensive unit. We're clearly slowplaying some things defensively, and I hope we're ready to unleash the hounds next week, but flickswitches rarely occur. It seems like it will be more gradual. Aaron Williams is havoc personified, so that gives me hope. Think what you want about Gideon, but he doesn't think about the ball at all when he's playing. This will continue to be a problem. Gideon is not alone in the secondary on this issue. Luckily, the secondary is pretty damned good anyway, Gideon included on some level. Still, turnovers need to start being realized in meaningful ways. Cross the fingers on Muschamp's planning and teaching with his coaching partners.
- Our defensive line can play. Houston has been a known and forgotten entity. That is too bad. He can play at an elite level and we're seeing that. The DEs are also very solid, although I think they're being somewhat restrained by purposeful scheme right now. Muckleroy and Robinson are good and can be great. E Acho and Earnest are not weak spots on the front 7, so I like the LBs, especially if Norton can play honestly beyond his injury. Kheeston Randall almost appears to be a revelation. He is a quality DT that we'll be happy to have starting for us for a while. Alexander actually showed something today, but I am from Missouri on his productivity against a good O. Should be interesting.
- Despite the absurdity on the fake punt, our STs are indeed Special, and in a good way. We have excellent return schemes and talent. Malcolm Williams, Shipley, and Monroe are all very good, with the potential for greatness. We cover our kicks and punts well, too. We can also kick field goals and punt pretty damned well. I doubt we get beat because of STs this season and I offer that our STs are about as good overall as any in the country. In regard to the punt fake and the FG fake, I don't think the direction and repetition has been clear. I believe at some point, they told Tucker that if he ever sees an opening, to take it. After his first punt, I personally wondered what would have happened if he had kept the ball. He might have been asked the same thing on the sideline. The next opportunity, the punter probably saw something that wasn't there. I doubt he was told to fake it, but I doubt anyone remembered to advise him not to, and he is a kicker, so he probably did what he thought was ok. He no doubt learned from it. In regard to the FG fake, I agree with keeping fakes on the ground, but we need some reps in practice.
- I have posted recently about the WR position and my feelings on some weaknesses there. I still think we have work to do, and part of that is Brown, Davis and Kennedy understanding what they have. Shipley is just a damned fine WR. Kirkendoll is becoming a very solid option in the intermediary game, but he's not a behind the line guy. Buckner is clearly being incorporated in a way that should make us feel good. Guys like Williams, Chiles, and the backs seem to be somewhat misunderstood right now. Williams is a burner that plays better than he practices. He is a differentiator against opponents. Let him get long and throw him the ball. His talent and skill set is obvious. Chiles is not a bang-bang guy. Effort needs to be taken to get him north and south in space. I like the screen to him a lot if we can block it, but this isn't the only option. A basic bench/sail set-up will work very well with him. Flare the slot guy underneath him, send a guy long inside of him as well, and then hit him on a slant. We could run entire drives with that same play set-up against many teams. When he has a chance to step out, literally, he is truly different. Outside of that, he looks pedestrian. In regard to the backs, I will not lament the stupidity we show repeatedly in regard to screens. It is obvious that it is not something that is worked on enough. Screens are as much timing as anything, and they take work. We're worse at them than anyone else when it comes to backs. Stop it. Exploit the backs on angle routes, flare routes, and wheels. WHEELS. I don't remember a time when I felt like we ran the Wheel routes enough. They work very, very well. Monroe and Newton are built for those.
- I was pleased to see that Newton can actually play. We know Monroe is damaging for about 10 snaps a game. Play those guys and Johnson more, please. McGee may well be a nice guy, but he's an irrelevant component to this offense. North/South guys and home run hitters are on this team, embrace them and play them.
- Buckner is surprising in his effectiveness, especially since he appears terrified to be on the field. This is a guy constantly acting hurt or searching for sidelines. His talent is obvious, but his "want to" needs work. I hope they beat that into him. If they do, he can make this offense excellent and he can be terrific as a Flex-TE and work himself into a draftable NFL status.
- I don't want to go too Dagny Taggert/John Galt here, but winning really is all that matters for this team from here. Our in-conference brethren are clearly destined to fall short, probably repeatedly, before we play them. On top of that, the schedule is purely weak. There will be no signature game for this team this year. I hope they attempt to make this coming game with Tech their best take on that. Tech is undefeated and they blew out their opponents, so that helps. We need to destroy these guys with vengeance. OU and OSU we should take seriously and maybe we get lucky with Missouri or Kansas and they win a bunch as well. Whatever the case, no one has as clear a path to playing for it all as Texas. Rare is the seaosn in which 3 real contenders go undefeated. Count on that not happening and just win, baby. The odds are terrific if we win out that we play for it all, even if USC passes us in the polls on Sunday.