Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Take One

Well, at least we have something to go on now, some sort of clue of what the season will look like: wildly inconsistent, with some promise of better things to come in the future. Luckily, we are not expecting much of the season.
-The defense looked rather porous early. I think some of that was play calling, some of that was poor play, especially from the linebackers. On several plays it looked to my untrained eye that new OLBs Marrell Evans and Austin Painter got lost in coverage and let slot receivers get open. Safety Stevie Brown misplayed an angle that led to the big play that set up Utah's first TD.
-Defense was far better in the second half. Part of this was Utah letting off the pedal a little and not passing as much. But part of this was better LB play from Artis Chambers and Jonas Mouton who got extra playing time. In both halves, the Dline play was excellent. I believe they had 3 sacks, a bunch of hurries, and a few forced holding calls.
-Hopefully the defensive staff will get the right guys out there to start the game next week and we'll see more of the 2nd half defense.
-The offense clearly has a long way to go. The line did okay in pass protection, but didn't run block very well. I wonder how much of this falls on the young C/G combo of Mooseman and Molk.Maybe it's just the inner Lloyd Carr in me talking, but I would have liked to have seen more comittment to the run.
-Skill position talent (Shaw, McGuffie, Odoms, Minor, Stoneum, Matthews, Butler) made a number of missteps, but you can see the promise there. I think that this is area where the offense will improve the most. In a couple of weeks, they will make better reads and we will see more yards out of short flare passes and zone reads
-The one area I don't hold out much hope for is QB. It seems clear that Sheridan has a pretty low ceiling. He's not very accurate and made a couple of horrible reads that led to picks. Threet throws a better deep ball, but doesn't look like he can run the zone read very well.
-All in all, not as devastating a loss as last year. Utah is perhaps the fourth or fifth best team on our schedule, and despite being totally outplayed in the first half, we still almost won the game. i still think 7-5 is doable, with an outside shot at 8-4.

-The Big Ten still sucks. Yes the top three teams all won functional DNP games, but three other potential contenders (MSU, Ill, & UM) lost hard fought games. What makes those games difficult to take is that all three teams appear to be outclassed by their opponents.
-Notre Dame fans have to be licking their chops. Their first three opponents SDSU, UM, & MSU all lost. SDSU lost to FCS team UC Davis.
-MSU looks like they found their replacement to Devin Thomas. Mark Dell went off for 200+ yards. Now if they could only get the Oline to block for Ringer and Hoyer, they will be ok.
-I like the way Missouri's schedule sets up with a season starting game in St. Louis with Illinois, and season ending game in KC with Kansas. Hopefully they give season ticket holders their choice of one of the two games in the season ticket package.
-I think UCLA's win over Tennessee shows why all the love for the SEC might be a little overstated. Tennessee has more talent than UCLA as just about every position, and really shouldn't have lost to a team starting their 3rd string QB who lost three senior starters on offense in the first quarter. But those sort of games happen early in the season when you have youth at key positions and you have to make long road trips. As has been pointed out here before, SEC teams rarely travel outside of the south. If the SEC teams traveled as much as Pac 10 teams, or even as much as Big Ten teams, their non conference records would be closer to where the other conferences are at.
-I have some pictures of the stadium that I will post soon, along with some thoughts on changes in the gameday atmosphere.