Right now I'm doing an impression of a pile of steaming baboon shit.
Make no mistake, had we played Appalachian State, a Division I-AA squad of actual quality, we would have lost by two touchdowns. That's not hyperbole. It's empirical fact. I just looked up the word complacency in Wikipedia and it had a picture of our coaching staff holding Lloyd Carr commemorative 1997 Michigan MNC mugs. If any of you come at me with a "a win is a win" I will hunt you down by your IP address and make you read Bill Little soliloquys until you take your own life.
We were outplayed by a Div I-AA football team that outgained us 397-340, demonstrated a superior running and passing game, had better coaching and headier QBing, and generally outhustled us despite their sloppy penalties and a smooth screwing by the officials on the onside kick. They botched multiple opportunities in the red zone and missed some chip shot field goals. That's how we escaped our home field with a win.
I watched the game in a sports bar in San Francisco full of alcohol and ire, so without the benefit of TIVO, crayons, and a Strawberry Shortcake spiral, my observations will be of the 10,000 foot variety; I'll write on a more granular level when given the opportunity though watching a replay of that pathetic effort will be trying. Every single concern that we could have had about this football team before the year has been proven absolutely valid while several concerns we didn't have have surfaced prominently.
It's going to be a long year, boys. Pray to Odin that another VY is in the pipeline who through sheer force of his personality can push our prolapsed uterii into place and fashion our staff a pair of makeshift gridiron clackers.
Our gameplan was gutless in only the way a Greg Davis gameplan can be, though this pecuilar variety of squeezable softness usually only surfaces in Dallas. 1st and goal. The score is 21-6. We've struggled, but now it's time to ice the game. Let's finish this thing, score again to go up 35-6 and go get better watching the film. We open in a spread set. Eh? Did I mention that it was 1st and goal? Four downs later, they have the ball. We escape with a 21-13 win, tails tucked securely over our poop hatch.
Our running game is an abomination...by design. I'm not interested in discussing push at the point of the attack, though it was lacking. I'll be happy to explain how simple down blocking alleviates that problem, but that's deep football knowledge, the kind of shit most of us picked up playing in high school. As with the Dark Days of Tim Nunez, I'm not interested in talking about the mosquito, I'm interested in talking about the swamp. We dwell in an environment of proscribed failure. Without a running threat at QB, our players operate at schematic disadvantage on every play because our offensive coordinator can't be bothered to notice that the lateral running game isn't the most efficient means of moving downhill. Rare is the time I try to drive to New York from Austin by heading West for several hundred miles first. Delayed counters don't work against run blitzes and toss sweeps in a 3 WR set don't go really well against a nine man front goalline defense. These are just things I've picked up along the way in life. Call me Paul Brown.
JC is a special runner trapped in a comically inept run scheme. When a RB has to break three tackles in the backfield to get three yards, you need to look at the system, not the players. Let me emphasize run game. JC's blocking was horrendous throughout the game and he whiffed on blitz pickup on at least five occasions. On two of those occasions he ran past a blitzing linebacker, saw Colt get nailed, then let out a little Mack Brown clap that was captured on replay. Good stuff there.
The passing game was off throughout the game. I'll give the wide receivers a very solid passing grade. Sweed made some tough catches and Nate Jones was hosed on at least two scoring opportunities when Colt threw passes with his left arm, apparently. Colt just looked uncomfortable. I can't really qualify it better than that. I'm a Colt fan, but I'm not entirely sure that he's over last year's injury. Balls were sailing, he continuously underthrew open receivers, and he demonstrated bizarre lapses in arm strength. The interceptions were just...odd. Colt wasn't a concern for me before this season. He is now.
Jermichael Finley was wisely hidden in our gameplan. We wouldn't want our second most talented receiving option to get more than one catch for eight yards. It might alert others to his presence. Let's keep that weapon hidden for Baylor.
Duane Akina wore DC training wheels for years and it might be time to put them back on. Larry MacDuff continues to uphold a decade long tradition of linebacker coaching. Our blitzes were as disguised as Donald Trump in a blonde wig and Oprah with a Sharpie moustache. On several occasions, our blitz front didn't match our secondary coverage. The hot route is as open as a Buddhist's mind. Screening us is laughably easy.
The back 7 is as pedestrian as anticipated - equally against the run and pass. It ran the gamut: bad technique, being physically beaten, not having an awareness of the ball in the air. Eventually, we started offering ten to twelve yard cushions, which suggests that a Texas Pom Girl could have grabbed 5 for 60 and a touch against us. I won't call out Foster and Palmer specifically, but it's time to go young and the time is now.
As usual, our top four tacklers were all in the secondary, a rather amazing accomplishment given the fact that Arkansas St ran the ball 30 times (34 minus 4 sacks), threw several screens and swing passes, and double teamed our DL on every running play. Typically, LBs will make some of those plays, but then again, I'm a boring football traditionalist. Our LBs contributed at expectation: Bobino was lost in the zone read, Derry making plays metaphysically, Killebrew drawing key personal fouls on 3rd and long, the youngsters promising and full of potential but apparently never having received a moment of mentoring in their lives. We've contributed a decade of non-development at this position and our standard has been upheld. I appreciate that sort of consistency and rigor.
The front four played OK, though Okam was absolutely excellent. He is finally healthy and it showed. God bless him and I hope he's our next millionaire DT. Losing Orakpo ripped out my heart and I wish him a speedy return. Jones, Lokey, Houston and Lewis all made plays, but not at the level expected given the competition. Arkansas St clearly diagnosed who our playmakers are and they made sure they got the attention they deserved. Watching two unblocked LBs sprint past a ASU RB who simply delayed and planted to get six to ten yards was all too commonplace; all the while Lokey and the playside DE were both being double teamed like porn stars. We couldn't get consistent pressure with four, which makes me wonder.
We have some deep fundamental issues in terms of toughness, in terms of leadership, and with a fair number of the guys wearing our headsets and drawing X's and O's on the whiteboards. This is heresy to write, but a home loss to a team like ASU may be required to force us into the fundamental changes we'll need.
We may be provided that opportunity soon.