Man there are a lot of happy dawg fans out there this week. Yes a 59-0 whuppin of ANY opponent will help with what ills you but it's easy to pick on the skinny kid in class. While I'm happy we got to essentially have a gloried scrimmage game, there's no reason we should go patting ourselves on the back just yet. Lets all put down the kool aide and try to get a little perspective people. This was a FCS school after all. I've heard folks saying, "Well at least we didn't play down to our opponent" True, and good teams don't, so while I see this as a step in the right direction, we've got a long way to go before we're playing ball with the elite of our conference. Quite frankly the score should have been 80-0 if it weren't for some of those old mistakes we keep making at all the wrong times.
Why am I being so damn negative today?? read on......
Let me keep this Nick Saban hat on for just a little while here...humor me. I don't think for a second a coach like Saban would have been too happy with some of the things we saw on Saturday. "DUDE!" you may exclaim, "How are you not happy with a 59-0 score where we played 14 true freshmen, and essentially cleared our bench down to 3rd stringers while pitching a shut out and keeping an offense under a buck fifty in total yards?" How can you not be excited about establishing a solid run offense while getting so many freshmen some real game time experience? "
Well sir I saw and I felt some of the same things happening to us that have cursed us over the last 3 years against better opponents. Things that don't matter much when you play the Chanticleers, but things that could crush you in a conference game. I saw:
Mental errors, boneheaded penalties and a lack of pressure on the QB.
I saw 14 points come off the board due to penalties. Moores block in the back on Boykins TD return, and a holding on our O-line which negated a fantastic run and TD by Brandon Harton. (Who had another long run brought back again due to holding.)
I saw once again big play followed up by a let down. I'm talking Rambo's INT which he later fumbled right back to Coastal Carolina. A move that could have let a better opponent in a different situation right back in the game. How many times do these things happen to us? Its a script we probably are all too familiar with. If you're like me these plays seem to happen in slow motion. As you watch them your mind buzzes with cautious optimism, but with a dark cloud hanging low and near. I watched the play like so many other similar seemingly gamechanging plays; unfolding slowly before me as one cold thought overwhelmed my head. "we're gonna screw this up" The passing euphoria is accompanied by a equally sudden sense of dread and negativity. This negative thought that's born of so many disappointments from the last 3 years. Conceived by inception by Willie Martinez perhaps. Slowly I watch the interception take place while non fans rejoice, also in slow motion, and look to me and congratulate. I'm reserved however, my reaction dismissive and quiet. I watch their slowmotion faces, "how naive" I think to myself, (reluctantly I might add) "I know we'll find a way to screw this up, but I would really love to be wrong..." And just when you've decided its ok to have hope, ok to cheer; BOOM, you're suckerpunched by reality and lady luck reaches into your heart and makes you feel foolish for having those few seconds of hope.
Well on Saturday all that meant was we got the ball back 3 plays later, but you and I both know that against Florida that would have been a major momentum swing that could have cost us the game.
And finally for all the praise of our Defense, and YES people I know they played a helluva game... Why in the name of Erk Russell did we not have ANY sacks against an FCS team?? This is a very big concern of mine as we head back into our SEC schedule. And why not more INT's? Forced fumbles? Am I being nitpicky?
I really don't think so. I really do believe that, despite the stellar defensive stats, we have to make some opportunities for ourselves by getting that damn ball back.
So, wearing my Saban hat, I'm not smiling here. Yes we did what we were supposed to do despite not operating at 100%. but we've got to cut out the mental mistakes and we've got to get some PRESSURE.
I'll chalk this game up to a fantastic full pad scrimmage and not much else. Great improvements are still being made, but I sure hope that Bobo isn't thinking that Carlton Thomas up the middle is suddenly going to work against the likes of UT and UF et all.
Other thoughts and observations:
Watts Danztler is a big boy, jeesus.
I love Figgins and Crowell catching passes out of the backfield. That's something I hope we see more of.
Did I ever mention I heart Bruce Figgins as a fullback? Well I do.
What will Jordan Love look like against FBS competition?
Good to see Richt giving Walsh a vote of confidence and having it actually pay off, hope that 56 yarder cures whats been ailing him.
Now we travel to Oxford where suddenly the Reb's are desperate lot. For the sake of our continued improvement I'd like to see a good old fashioned butt whoopin. Anything less will be regression.
I'll be flying into Memphis Friday night for ribs at the Rendezvous, then me and my old man will be bringing it to the Grove Saturday early. Looking forward to the scene and our first SEC victory of 2011!
See you all at the Grove.