I had an opportunity to rewatch the game against UTEP on DVR and had a few thoughts to share, a couple of which challenged some assumptions I'd made when watching the game live from a sports bar in Anchorage, AK. The film doesn't lie though, so away we go...
First, Greg Davis did just fine as a playcaller. Clearly that's only part of the equation as the overall structure of our offense and our running game is my primary issue with him, but that's not changing and I'm evaluating within the construct of what we are. UTEP spent 80% of the game outnumbering us in the running game and frankly, given the limited scope of our running game, I was more than content to spread them out and make them pay for putting their corners on islands. In the stream. We were incredibly productive in the passing game, particularly when you consider UTEP had 4 pass interference penalties. I don't care about balance when a team tips their hand on defense. If a team plays six in the box against us, I hope we run the ball 59 times.
Colt McCoy's overall polish in the offense is no newsflash to any of you if you watched the game, but he still has one very bad habit that will cause us some problems against quality opponents. Dude still sacks himself. For an example of what I mean, take a look at the 8:36 mark of the 3rd quarter. UTEP brings the house while doubling Cosby, who is Colt's first read. Our other two WRs are operating one-on-one with nary a safety in sight. We handle the pressure and Colt - not seeing his first option open - decides to sprint to the left out of a perfectly formed pocket and into the arms of a guy Ogbonnaya had just blocked off to the outside. Had he waited half a second more with his feet planted, he would have seen a meadow of green turf with two WRs manned up right in front of his face. All he had to do was step up in the pocket and he would have had a long completion or a 20 yard scramble. This may be nitpicking given his tremendous performance, but it's still important. Teams like OU, Mizzou and KU will notice this tendency and given their upgraded cornerbacks vis a vis UTEP, I think they're comfortable taking their chances with our guys down the field, outnumbering the run, and then forcing Colt to make disciplined pocket throws.
There are two truths about Fozzy and Vondrell. First, Fozzy is a more talented back. Second, he ran in much more favorable situations. When we went up 14-6 after two consecutive all passing drives, UTEP backed off a bit on the kamikaze shit. Before that happened, Vondrell's first four runs were against fronts where they had at least one extra man and they were slanting their line in anticipation of our zone play. They guessed correctly on 4 of Vondrell's 6 carries. He had only one run against an honest front all game. Two of his six carries resulted in a defensive penalty - a facemask and an offsides. Fozzy ran very well (his three yard runs where he stuck it in there rather than bounce around were more impressive than his longer runs) but he also faced an honest front on half of his carries after we opened them up with the passing game. That impacts outcomes. Vondrell is a solid back, but ill-suited for our 11 offense.
We were actually quite vanilla all game. Very little blitzing, primarily 3-4 man rushes. We blitzed a few times with mixed results. Vittatoe was a mobile QB and Price did a great job with moving pockets, screens, and quick throws to prevent big negative plays. A more experienced secondary could have tightened up and jumped some of those throws, but we're not there yet. I was largely unimpressed with our DE play.
I was most impressed with Miller, Muckelroy, Chykie Brown, and Gideon. Miller asserted himself over time and created real problems inside for UTEP. Muck was everywhere and he scooped the score. Chykie was very solid, the bullshit pass interference call notwithstanding. Gideon just gets it and he plays with intensity. He has some physical deficiencies, but at least he's in the right zip code. The Acho brothers were limited in game action but I liked what I saw.
Jared Norton/Rashad Bobino and Aaron Lewis were almost completely responsible for UTEP's running game. Rashad continues to play a stunting guessing game. He picks a gap and runs through it praying it's the right one. Norton is actually less athletic than when he first arrived here and missed three tackles in the first ten minutes of the first half. Hopefully, he's on his way to benching a lot though. That's the mark of a player.
Jared Norton, Rashad Bobino and Brian Orakpo are great examples of all that's wrong with our S&C program. They've actually lost quickness and change of direction the longer they've been in the program. Care to see a contrast? Watch the Acho brothers, who can't lift shit yet, but are operators in space and have great quickness. Remember skinny ass Derrick Johnson? Do I need to show you the '91 Cotton Bowl? Football is not a fucking pie eating contest. I can't wait for Sam to bench 500 and lose 3/10ths off of his shuttle time in our quest to improve him. Orakpo will actually be a better pass rusher as the season progresses and he's not able to lift and begins to lose weight. In fact, I guarantee it. When people marvel that he can bench 515, my first thought is "Why does he bench 500+?" Those returns diminish very quickly after 425. They come at a cost in other areas. Go watch Orakpo film as a freshman - that kid had a first step. This Orakpo is a pure power rusher right now. If we want to play Muschamp defense, we need Muschamp players. And those players are greyhounds, not bulldogs.
We also need Lamarr Houston back. He's strong enough to hold up in there and he can shoot gaps effectively and wreak havoc on the fatbodies. UTEP's best runs were when they doubled Aaron Lewis and the trail of his obliteration cut off all of the backside pursuit. The unblocked LB - either Norton or Bobino - whiffed, sprinted the wrong gap, or guessed wrong - leaving Muckelroy and Blake Gideon to pick up the pieces. We also played the run very honestly, choosing to let our child safeties take a nice look at the offense unfolding in front of them from the perch of two deep. I don't blame Muschamp for that at all.
Good punting, good kicking, nice to see Akina back running our punt block teams. We continue to play Shipley on KOR and it drives me insane.
Please read more pregame and postgame coverage on the Texas / UTEP match-up from EyesofTX, HenryJames, ChrisApplewhite, and Fake Ken Tremendous.