I'd be remiss if I didn't open my Post-Mortem with a line from dedfischer's The Tortilla Retort that was as strong as his team's effort:
Taylor Potts showed up to win two things: A football game and the bid for the dirt work on the South End Zone remodel. He came out on the short end of the stick with regards to game, but we’ll have to hold our breath until Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. on the bid.
It must be nice to have your team QBed by Kenny Fucking Powers. A hat tip to the Red Raiders, who came in undermanned and outgunned and left it all out on the field. Along with Taylor Potts' contact lens and lower spleen.
The story of this game was defense and special teams. We won special teams handily and our defense played two dominant quarters, one good quarter, and one terrible quarter. I'm not going to talk about offense because I'm in a good mood. Listen to the podcast if you want my take on O. Apparently altitude and our QB having the flu are the reasons we still can't run the ball against six men in the box with two safeties deep.
After allowing a 10 play, 56 yard drive for a field goal to open the game against soft coverage, we walked up our corners, brought an extra man, and our defense had the following 7 series:
3 plays --> 2 yds PUNT
6 plays, 6 yards --> PUNT
4 plays, -20 yards --> PUNT
9 plays, 17 yards --> FUMBLE
3 plays, 3 yards --> INTERCEPTION
5 plays, 20 yards --> PUNT
3 plays, 20 yards --> END OF HALF
Mind you, Tech started with the ball at midfield three times, had eight possessions, and our offense offered no support with respect to rest, running clock, or putting points on the board. For the game, Tech was 3 of 13 on 3rd down (though they did convert 3 of 4 on 4th).
Yet, without Shipley's punt return, we go into halftime deadlocked at 3-3. Manly defensive effort, people.
Our defensive success was heavily predicated on our coverage. Will Muschamp read my pregame analysis and ran a lot of of man under, safeties deep and that's where we did our best work. Our zone defense is still laughable, but Akina has never been able to teach it effectively in his tenure.
When we went to press man coverage, with pressure (typically 5 rushers), we wrecked them. We didn't do that in the second half on Tech's two third quarter scoring drives. Why? Dunno. I suspect fatigue played a role - maybe we were running oxygen debt like a S&L. Mushamp regretted those two possessions in his postgame comments (pinning them on himself) and that suggests he sold our conditioning a little short. Maybe he just observed the great tendency of most of us in life and fucked up a good thing just to see if he could extricate himself. By the way, what he saw from our secondary and DL in press man under just wrote Will's gameplan for OU, Mizzou, Kansas. Book it.
Why is man under coverage with deep safeties so effective?
1. It forces the Tech QB to hold on to the ball for a full extra count - now your rush can get there
2. Tech's timing and rhythm are disrupted
3. Safeties deep means they can't just chunk it up on a deep timing throw
4. We have the personnel to do it now
5. Tight windows, hits on QB, and multiple reads from WR and QB (rather than a simple automatic sight adjustment) mean turnovers
Overall, we forced five fumbles (recovering two), had a pick (probably should have had 2 more), and got good pressure when we tried to do so. Some unit plaudits:
We destroyed any hint of a Tech running game (though I was impressed with freshman Eric Stephens). Right now, Lamarr Houston is just a notch behind Suh and McCoy as the league's elite DTs. Extremely quick and much tougher at the point of attack than anticipated. Kheeston Randall continues to give us quality snaps with his quick first step and he's doing a tremendous job of monitoring his pad level. He'll learn from his silly personal foul. Sergio's big hit certainly wasn't his only contribution: he also forced the Thomas pick, drew two penalties from Tech OL, and got multiple hits. He plays with such high effort that it's just a pleasure to watch. Eddie Jones proved to be a tough guy to handle in situational pass rushing inside and outside. What a gift to have him healthy and productive. Acho certainly gave us his typically solid effort. Can't wait for his breakout year in 2010.
Apparently a Tech fan did doughnuts in Roddrick Muckelroy's yard before the game. He was lighting people up and turned in a MVP performance. Emmanuel Acho forced two fumbles, tackled in the open field like a DB, and generally ran around wreaking havoc. Some guys have a knack for forcing turnovers and he's one of them. Keenan Robinson didn't have as many visible plays as the aforementioned, but he played a very fine game.
We've got really good LBs. At Texas. I just wrote that. Is a meteor streaking towards Earth?
When Muschamp let them get up on some people's breath stank, these guys dominated. Aaron Williams looked like a NFL guy and I love his evil intelligence. Although his body language on the Tech pick play TD was priceless. It was sort of a HEY, WAIT THIS IS A...AH, SHIT. Curtis Brown - Our Most Improved Player - is a not a guy you want to play slaps with, and Chykie, though he struggled the most of the three corners (giving up the visible TD to Leong), was pretty damn solid for most of his snaps.
Earl Thomas continues his All-Conference level play. I'm secretly glad he's undersized if it means he has to stay around longer. Blake Gideon wasn't exploited, but it's not always about the plays you don't give up so much as the plays you don't make. This is now his 16th game as a starter and he has forced exactly...one turnover. Emmanuel Acho has forced three in three games playing spot minutes.
Shipley's punt return TD and near-goring rodeo clown experience was fun and a great example of why I love college football. Where in the NFL are WRs potentially attacked by 2,000 pound ungulates? Aside from Green Bay happy hours? I predicted a kick return TD in my preview, by the way. Shipley did a nice job, but our blocking, the beautiful rugby punt by Gold pinning Tech on the goal line, and our defense forcing the 3 and out were the keys to that touchdown.
Kickoff coverage was our only blemish, but we won all phases comfortably.
On to three BYE weeks (two of them disguised as UTEP & CU) and then the season hinges on October: OU, @ OSU, @ Mizzou. We need to get healthy, get Colt feeling right and throwing the ball with confidence, turn off Greg Davis' headset in the first half, get young Gilbert 45 snaps of good work, and work to eliminate a few a mental errors on defense. We're shaping up nicely, but it will be defense and special teams - not offense - that will decide if we go to the Promised Land.