There is one word I would use to describe this team based on the performance I saw up front on both sides today: SOFT.
Thankfully we can out-cat most of the opponents on our schedule, like we did today, because we got our asses handed to us up front on both sides of the ball. Even after the offense got things clicking in the late 3rd quarter, you never got the feeling that we were dominating up front. The defensive line never quite got there either. That is what worries me most going forward. Troy was hurt by graduation losses up front just as we were, and they could still get pressure on Boyd and could stop our DL, so what gives? Whose coaches did their jobs better in game prep?
But its not time to lose your minds, not yet. I expected some teething issues, and this won't be the toughest game we have this season by far. We just have plenty of concerns that I expect to get fixed in coming weeks. When problems get better week to week, then and only then do you know you have good coaches.
We have been on the Caldwell wagon since before he got here. I know he's been a good coach, but the OL got their asses kicked today and theres no excuse for it. I have said several times to those that defend Joey Batson that our functional strength sucks, and it was showcased today. We have more talent than Troy does up front, we're stronger than Troy up front, and we couldn't punch it in from the 1 yard line. We have shown you that the new offense is an A-gap-to-A-gap system inside, and we didn't get a damn thing inside. Our zone game sucked. Antoine McClain watched the Troy DL have a field day, except that he watched it from 6 inches away and not the sideline. Freeman and Smith didn't get it done either, and when Cloy went in, he got stood up too. I wonder, will we hear Landon Walker bragging about the pride the right side takes in their zone blocking this week?
But the offenses struggles weren't just from the OLine's inability to move people smaller than themselves. Tajh royally sucked in the first half (6/12). I was a bit surprised at how he still threw too many balls into double (and triple on the INT) coverage and again fumbled the ball. Thankfully, it did appear to be mostly jitters and he settled down to have a very nice 2nd half (20/30 overall). We had the one drive at the end of the 3rd quarter that was impressive and he wasn't trying too hard to make things happen. I think by this point that Troy's DL was a bit gassed. The offense finally seemed to settle into the up-tempo we've been hearing about. Thats the kind of improvement we need to see next week.
As far as the other players on offense, I don't think anyone can question the ability of Sammy Watkins or Mike Bellamy, both of whom scored the first time they touched the ball from scrimmage. Both of them are special. Andre Ellington had a good day when he was given a block.
Defensively, Jesus Christ I saw some shitty tackling. Troy would've scored 10 fewer points if we could tackle today. I hesitate to say we got zero pressure, because Malliciah Goodman was in the backfield with Branch early, but they weren't getting to the ball and weren't making plays. When Troy ran the ball, they got enough yardage to keep us on our heels. That should not have happened. Brandon Thompson was fighting a double-team from the first snap onwards, but Rennie Moore and Tavaris Barnes did nothing at all of note and I was very disappointed. Rennie in particular should've mauled these guys. Again, I think this points to Batson and our functional strength. Blitzes were largely ineffective.
For the most part we were in a nickel set, with some more 3-4 in the 2nd half. When we examine the film we'll make note of some specifics. I hope you noticed that we were using Andre Branch in a similar way to Bowers against spread teams last year. We were in a 3-3 set, with Branch at an inside 'backer spot and effectively blitzing every play inside up the B-gap. He wasn't in coverage too much, but again we'll look at his usage this week.
I was expecting them to get roughly 250 yards passing. Troy has a competent OC and HC. Corey Robinson is not a bad QB. I did not think they would get more against Brewer or Sensabaugh however, and I didn't think the tackling in the open field would be as poor as it was. Like TCU last night, I felt like more blame goes to the FS/SS than will be given. The TD pass at the end of the first half could've been prevented by Meeks. Hall was listed with a sprained MCL but should be fine, and you better pray because Carlton Lewis ain't gonna get it done.
Catman had a nice game with the 3 long FGs, this was encouraging. However, as you all may remember from last year, I WILL KILL A KICKER THAT MISSES AN EXTRA POINT.THERE IS NEVER AN EXCUSE FOR IT.
Bottom line, we have work to do. Wofford will only tell us about defensive discipline. We need to get alot better with tackling very soon, and we need to get the linemen (on both sides) to get their shit together. Our coaches made good adjustments at halftime, which is a source of encouragement going forward.
Oh and ESPN 3 blows.