Monday, September 25, 2006

My $0.02 on the Georgia Colorado Game

First, my apologies to the Buffalo Nation for claiming that they were terrible and that they would give up 50. They obviously aren't the same team that lost by 67 points to Texas last season and they will keep getting better under Dan Hawkins. That doesn't mean that Colorado will go forth and win a whole bunch of games this year. But, they are starting to buy into this new coaching staff and they will continue to improve all season. We were fortunate to come away with a win.

The danger now is in reading too much or not enough into this narrow escape. First, it doesn't mean that the Dawgs stink and are on their way to 7-5. Conversely, it also cannot be ignored as just an off day. There were some things done poorly that have to improve for us to compete for the SEC crown. Here are a few comments that I made at Kyle's Blog:

Regarding the TO on the extra point... I thought it was a mistake when I saw it because I figured, "Take a delay of game and back up 5 yards." Then I learned from Richt in his interview that we were about to snap the ball without a wingman on one side. He feared having the kick blocked and didn't want to risk it and then need 7 points to tie. That makes sense to me, and that was a mental mistake by Milner, I think, for not being on the field for the PAT. But, Richt's explanation could be post-game spin. Thankfully it worked out.

Regarding preparation and motivation, I did not think our defense was flying to the ball like they normally do. At the same time, we continue to over-pursue like we did against McFadden, Aromashadu, Pat White and Slaton last year. I am not sure how to square not hustling with over-pursuit, but I think I saw both in the first half.

The BIGGEST problem we had on defense was that our ends were sprinting on a beeline path at the QB and he was quick enough to side-step them, then he could roll out unmolested and create another 3-4 seconds to find a man - usually a tight end. If Q and Charles would have taken containment angles and broken down as they closed in on the QB, he would have had to pay attention to them even if they weren't sacking him. Instead, their pass rush was wasted the instant that he side-stepped them (like 15 times) and rolled into the empty space to create lots and lots of time. I think it says a lot about our coverage that most of the completions were underneath even after 4,5,6 seconds. Our ends need to adjust their technique for QBs with this type of quickness. Leake has it, Pat White had it. I don't think Ainge and Cox have it, but they have dangerous arms.

Offensively, the problems were multitudinous. Poor run blocking. Poor play calling. And the biggest problem for Stafford was holding the ball too long. He has over-corrected his mistakes from S. Carolina when he forced throws into coverage and now he simply needs to figure out when to throw it into the cheap seats (which actually aren't really cheap.) He needs to develop that timing in his head of when he needs to get rid of the ball whether he sees/feels the pressure or not. He also threw some lasers behind slanting receivers which are nearly impossible to catch unless your name is Calvin. If he hit them in stride like some of his throws in the SC game, we get some nice gainers in the first half and give our defense a rest and time to make adjustments. Our inability to get first downs in the first half certainly contributed to our defensive issues.

Stafford probably learned a lot from these mistakes. As they say, success is a poor teacher. He will be fine in the long haul. However, now Joe Cox has clearly earned the right to get some quality game snaps based on his clutch performance. It seems appropriate to let him start at Oxford. I don't see how a credible argument can be made that any other QB "gives us the best chance to win" at this point. But, as always, I will trust CMR.

Lastly, the running game. I think we should take a page out of Al Borges's playbook from when he inherited Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams, and shockingly, put both studs on the field at the same time! We did a little of this against SC. I don't recall seeing it Saturday. But, I would like to see Ware in there with either Brown or Lumpkin (who showed a shitload of determination on his touches). Ware is a great receiver out of the backfield. He has a knack for slipping out of the backfield unnoticed and has reliable hands. I think if we threw the ball out of this two back set a few times, it would soften up the middle for the running attack. It is a Spurrier-like strategy of creating the run by passing, but with our currently sluggish running game,how could it hurt?

The good news is that we have one more week to try to get better before we get UT at home. Then we have two more weeks to get even better before Florida. Our schedule could not be more advantageous for a young team trying to find a running game and a quarterback.
Anyway, that is what I think. I could be wrong.


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