The operative word for Saturday night was Fugly, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Despite four turnovers and another snap in the red zone sailing over the quarterback, the Tigers prevailed Saturday night. The defense came to the rescue all night long and eventually the offense got out of its own way to score enough to win. In the interest of time, I'll just hit on a few key developments, plays, and situations:
First: WTF is wrong with Isiah Battle? Once again Battle let his team down by doing something stupid enough to get himself suspended for the game, which immediately put the already stressed offensive line in even more of a sling. Kalon had to play left tackle and we actually attempted to use McClain at right tackle before finally going to Webster and then Gore. Battle has been immature, but you'd figure a guy four years removed from high school would be past that by now.
Second: Cole made some terrible decisions and this time he wasn't getting away with it as much. It boggles my mind how a senior could do something like not check out of a run heading towards a sure fire gap blitz to the play side, or worse yet trying to run the ball right into two defenders who promptly take the ball from him. The first pick was partially on McClain who got his butt whipped and allowed Cole to get hit as he threw, but his deep shots were terrible all night. Even the TD pass was a mediocre throw that thankfully Seckinger was able to pluck. I surely hope and pray we have Watson behind center in Atlanta.
Third: Webster showed enough in the stretch he had at center to be given that job. Put Crowder at guard and put Norton on the bench (if he's healthy to play). Crowder did a solid job from my view and the holding call on him was total crap from the one replay they showed. Looked like a straight pancake to me.
Now, for some of the positive highlights:
DEFENSE! Total domination for four quarters. The Cuse had to rely on two long field goals to even crack the scoreboard despite our offense gifting them several times. Syracuse even got away with three fumbles that bounced right back to them or it could have been even worse for them. Game balls all around.
Lakip: Ammon is officially out of the doghouse by my view. Thankfully he has been money in these games with Stoudt and we've absolutely have had to have him. Way to bounce back!
Gallman: He ran hard all night with several plays that didn't have much chance thanks to the OL. Once the line did get some traction, he showed nice vision and burst. I sure wish we'd run that pitch play to him instead of Davidson who absolutely crapped the bed. That play was wide open for a touchdown if you just CATCH THE PITCH. Gallman hasn't fumbled, which is the most important stat. He finished with 101 yards on 28 totes.
It is amazing to me that the offense hasn't broken 24 points in three games yet has won all three. This was a regular occurrence in the 80's and early 90's when offensive nights like tonight were not that uncommon. Those years were marked with unspectacular talent at the quarterback position, which is what we are dealing with until Watson returns. Thankfully the defense and special teams have stepped up considerably which has been an absolute must. Hopefully this second open date will afford the staff time to really work on the offensive line so that when Watson does come back he doesn't get killed.
I won't quibble too much with a win. I think a lot of us get upset understanding that this type of effort on offense will get us beat by the chickens and possibly the Jackets. But, our feathered foes are finding out how life is when you can't count on your defense and it sucks. Thankfully the Tigers can count on theirs. I'd rather win ugly than lose lighting up the scoreboard.