I thought we might be in trouble when Wyoming Coach Dave Christensen came out wearing a lei rosary made of maize, walnuts, and pemmican.
Could be he be gaining an edge by communing with Coyote Spirit and St Thomas Aquinas? Then I saw a naked Wyoming fan wearing a barrel and a cowboy hat and I was reassured. These people were morons.
Apparently the good people of Wyoming do a lot of crystal meth. My sister texted me that "Don't Do Meth!" kept scrolling across the Wyoming scoreboard. Quality PSA there. They also had a fan kick contest sponsored by the Wyoming Crystal Meth Prevention Initiative. Then they played Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" during video reviews. Why not explore that obvious causal link?
Our first half offense and special teams needed some crank, but I calmed when I saw that our defense would pass the Wyoming offense through its stool like the street food in Ciudad Acuna. We've had this meal before in another border town - UTEP '08. Except this time we played more defense and there was no handjob-cam.
Off schedule improvisation is still our greatest strength. And by our strength, I mean Colt's strength. Because Colt is our offense. Any time a play is extended - usually because the opposing DBs blanket our five yard hitches and someone runs past Charlie Tanner - we have a shot at making a play down the field with an athlete as Colt scrambles, though our chances for a turnover or sack quadruple. This makes games EXCITIING!
McCoy had too much air in the ball for most of the 1st half and played OK overall. That's a funny thing to write about a guy who threw for 337 and 3 TDs while running for 51 yards and another TD. Say what you will about our classic Davisian 1st half playcalling (lateral run, hitch, break down in pass protection scramble), but Colt also made some poor decisions. His Roethlisbergerian improvisation walks the fine line between genius and recklessness as evidenced by his fumble on an extended goalline scramble and his interception on the ensuing drive.
We didn't have much of an offensive gameplan to counterpunch what Wyoming was doing early beyond "Colt, make something happen!" and I find that irritating from an established Offensive Coordinator with a veteran offense. 5 of 17 on 3rd down against Wyoming. Really?
Tre Newton! Tre Newton is the answer!
Oh, you people and your running back personality cults. Mack Brown has trained you well: always looking for another player to solve the underlying problem. First, you're infatuated with Fozzy. Then it's Cody Johnson. Then it's Vondrell. Then, God help you, Chris Whaley. Hey, DJ Monroe. Now it's Tre Newton.
Actually, I like Tre. I like what he contributed in Laramie (8 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch for 15, 1 bad drop). He's a willing blocker, he plants and goes with minimal BS, and he has good hands generally. At minimum, he is our third down back now. He was also the beneficiary of second half carries and a tired defense. And it's not as if Vondrell didn't average 5.5 ypc. Forgive me for providing context. Our backs went 25 for 142 overall. That's effective.
As a far as a player solving our running game, unless you see Jamal Charles on our five deep somewhere, there's no lipstick for this pig. If you're arguing that Tre Newton might be lip gloss, then we might have something to talk about. DJ Monroe might be rouge. Vondrell has a good personality.
A solid performance by this group overall. Chiles had the only egregious drop.
James Kirkendoll played like a man (7-102-1) and his willpower to make yards after the catch was an important spark for the offense. Dan Buckner (6-86-1) isn't the most physical dude, but he has flypaper hands and he's a big target. Another productive game for the Big Easy.
They paid a lot of attention to Jordan Shipley and did a nice job of containing him (7-61) with less than 10 yards per reception. John Chiles still lacks moves and he can't get up to speed until he's had four unmolested steps. I thought his TD was a function of perfect execution, a fantastic block by Tray Allen, and a beaten defense. We would do well to get him the ball on the move rather than stop/start.
Malcolm Williams' absence from the offensive gameplan is fascinating. I get that a player needs to be consistent but a lot of guys find their confidence after you give them the ball and your trust. See Dan Buckner. Or Sergio Kindle.
Tough day in some stretches though the overall production happened. 500+ yards of offense, 41 points, and one sack allowed is slightly deceiving for this bunch.
There are some mitigating factors: like late last year, DL are almost exclusively playing the pass. It's Mark Gastineau circa 1985. Why? Well, we throw a lot. And the same penetration that pressures a passer is the same that derails a lateral running game with bad timing. And if we catch you, our RB personnel can only punish you with a 15 yard run instead of a 60 yard backbreaker.
I'm no longer sure who our best O-lineman is. I know it's not Charlie Tanner. When Michael Huey gets right, he, Snow and Allen need the snaps at OG. Tray Allen played his best game as a Longhorn. Great athletic ability. Michael Hix was as poor in one stretch against Wyoming as he was outstanding against UL-Monroe. Chris Hall was pretty average though the holding call on him was BS. I fully understand that they're laboring in a running system crafted by a masochist, but they shouldn't be allowing pressure on Colt with a three man rush and they shouldn't be losing leverage battles at the LOS.
Pleased with our overall play though Wyoming isn't particularly explosive. We pitch a shutout if the offense and special teams don't screw us and, like Louisiana-Monroe, some of Wyoming's yards came against 2nd and 3rd teamers in garbage time. They were 3 of 17 on 3rd down.
We continue to show resilience in quick change in the red zone and on our side of the field. That's what championships defenses do and it's a tribute to Muschamp.
When the opposing QBs statline goes 23 of 50 for 188 yards and you record 5 sacks and several QB hits, you're tearing up the opposing passing game. The only thing missing from the equation was more turnovers (props to the Aaron Williams strip).
Muschamp is committed to playing a lot of guys and we had good play across the board. Sam Acho's first half sack was a classic hustle play that showed his athletic ability - cut to the ground, springs back up, gets the sack on a mobile QB. 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery. Good stuff, Sam.
People are pining for Sergio Kindle to go Lawrence Taylor on somebody, but we wanted to contain Benjamin and force him to throw from the pocket as it constricted. Wyoming also got the ball out pretty quickly. In watching the replay, Sergio did a lot of solid things. Wyoming found out early that you sure as hell don't want to roll out towards him. You'll hear his name called when we play Tech.
Lamarr Houston continues to be very nice - borderline dominant - and I saw some quality snaps from Kheeston Randall and Calvin Howell. Ben Alexander had his best game as a Longhorn, but I think his production hits a wall against quality D-1 interior OL. Looks like Tevin Mims won't shirt.
Keenan Robinson has the makings of a star. Aside from some great plays in the running game - the 3rd and short tackle where he bypassed the Wyoming OL and submarined the RB most particularly - he is extremely good in the passing game. He gets deep drops and makes nice breaks on the ball. Expect a pick soon.
Muckelroy really thrives as a clean up guy and he's miscast slogging in the middle, but he'll be fine. Dustin Earnest gave us really productive snaps. Didn't think I'd ever see it. Good for him. Amazing what actual LB coaching can do. This unit has a very bright future.
Aaron Williams is evil. Smart, instinctive player. Wyoming avoided Earl Thomas whenever they could. Blake Gideon played physical ball with a couple of nice hits and he made a beautiful read on a short ball that he promptly dropped.
Curtis Brown has really come along. He's still weak in his core and that can create some YAC opportunities for strong receivers in the flat, but his reaction time is elite and he's a plus athlete. Really good as a gunner on the punt team too. Chykie Brown was shaky early, but settled in and played nice ball for us. I think he has the potential to be a real player, but he seems incapable of keeping focus on every play. I think we're a Christian Scott away from forcing more turnovers. Fingers crossed.
I'm not concerned at all. Justin Tucker isn't going to lose his mind again, the fake field goal failure doesn't really have any bearing on special teams, and we kicked well, covered kicks well, and played well in the return game. DJ Monroe is a real weapon. Am I nervous about Shipley returning punts? Yes. Is he a guy with sure hands (Mack requirement) who can also score (my requirement)? Yes. I can't fault it and won't play the inevitable second-guessing game if he gets tweaked doing it. Clark Ford had five tackles. Way to earn the 'ship.
Like UTEP last year, Wyoming shocked us by reminding us of our deficiencies but it also showed how far we've come along on defense. And we've got a few new toys on offense (Buckner, Kirkendoll, Newton) for Colt to play with.
Special teams will be cleaned up easily and will be an advantage for us against most. Offensively, we'll live and die by Colt.
On to Tech.