SEC! SEC! SEC! WAC! WAC! WAC!
Current Coordinates: Uptown Dallas, en route to a birthday shindig
Current BAC (Approximate): .14
Given the above facts, this is going to be quick - I'm sure y'all will keep the comments lively.
Ash grew up tonight. He's done a lot of little things - and a couple of bigger things - well up to this point in his career, but it's been some hits mixed in with quite a lot of misses. Tonight, the hits just kept on coming. Good runs, good decisions on reads, keeping his eyes downfield when he was on the move, short-range accuracy, mid-range accuracy and DAT DEEP BALL. I don't know if the first shot to Marquise - which wasn't the best throw, but was a fine decision against single coverage where he got the kind of help from his WR that QBs get all the time - shook something loose. But after that, Ash was just gripping and ripping. The shot to Mike Davis - who demands a more perfect ball than just about any receiver I've ever seen - late in the second quarter was pure perfection. He then hit Shipley on a nice deeper in late in the third and wrapped up the third with another bomb to Davis where the corner blew the play, but hell - our secondary blew some shit tonight too and you don't take the points off the board. If the coaches sent a message of 'put it up against single coverage', the message was received loud and damned clear. There's also something to be said for the idea that once a corner is on an island and beat, he's in scramble mode and often can't get his shit together quickly enough to challenge for an underthrown ball if the receiver makes a strong adjustment. I don't know if that idea has ever existed anywhere out of me saying it right now, but what the hell - I'm going with it.
For all the riot of emotions this game caused, we've got a QB now. That doesn't mean everything will be rainbows and rim-jobs for everyone for the rest of his career, and the more shots you take in the pass game the more you court the occasional turnover, but WE HAVE A QUARTERBACK.
It's about time.
The Rest of the Offense
For the first time this season, we truly looked powerful running the ball. We'd had some good technical moments in the first couple of games and some good individual moments from the backs, but we had a lot of moments tonight when we were just hammering downhill like a truly scary run game. Not everything is a perfectly executed symphony on every run play - sometimes it's just enough guys getting enough of a push and a stud running back breaking an arm tackle. While we did some good inside tonight, our edge runs are where we make our money. We've got guys who can hit and kill things in space - Espinosa had a few great examples tonight - and if our 'surfaces' can hold up their end of the bargain on the edge we've got backs who can absolutely bust tackles when guys are pursuing from inside out instead of just squaring up. I can't say much more intelligent than that without a film breakdown, but we just FELT like a truly powerful run game tonight. Couple that with a QB, and we could be cooking with gas.
Both Brown and Bergeron are tough, tough stuff when they head downhill, and they can keep us ahead of the chains in the first half and just take a defense's spirit in the second half if we just give them a reasonable surge.
RECEIVERS!!!! Marquise Goodwin just can't get enough praise, and his ability to kill you deep along with his potency in the sweep game and his Hines Ward-esque blocking make him a tremendous weapon. He may have taken all suspense out of the Gaskamp race already. Shipley showed how good he can be once we start spinning the ball, and Mike Davis got loose for some big shots and made more catches with a defender close to him than I've ever seen from him.
I'm not going to sugar-coat the tackling for anybody - it was outright pathetic. I really don't recall anything like we saw tonight since the Mackovic days. I was by no means pleased by our inability to find our ass with both hands against the option, but you could at least whistle past the graveyard and say we wouldn't really see enough of that until KSU to hurt us. But everything from the Wing T to the spread to the goddamned Oopty-Oop from Varsity Blues will kick the shit out of you if you won't tackle, and you can't shrug off what we saw tonight in the tackling department. There is a systemic deficiency right now that can't be ignored, and while we've got two weeks to work on it we've got one hell of a hill to climb from where we sit right now. The good news is that we've got the athletes and we've seen them do far better than this just a season ago, but FIX IT NOW.
Aside from the continued schematic fuckery and the tackling, some individual defenders showed some great stuff. Admittedly, that statement is a ittle like starting with, "Other than that, Ms. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?" But hey - ignoring the good is just as silly as whitewashing the bad.
We showed some real ability to get heat on the QB when Ole Miss went with more of a traditional look, and there's no question about our DE's ability to wreck the edge. It was good to see some early penetration from Brandon Moore as well - he looks like he's still got some technique work to do, but he's a physical force.
If you're going to give it up through the air, get it back - Quandre's two picks did just that, and it's great to see him making aggressive plays on the ball.
Jordan Hicks, get well soon.
There' s a lot more, but that's all I got right now and we'll have a wealth of talkin' to do in the next two weeks until Okie State. I don't know if I've ever looked forward to a game where a 20-point win and a 20-point loss were both totally on the table.
But what fun is it when you always know what's going to happen?