Tuesday, September 4, 2007

View From The Cheap Seats: Arkansas State

Each week, when I attend a game, I will post the good, bad and ugly of the things stat sheets do not necessarily show. These are the views from the cheap seats.

The Good

Jamaal Charles- I know that 112 yards rushing looks pretty decent on its own, but the way that Charles gained those yards was impressive. Almost every positive run for Charles involved reversing field, breaking a tackle or out running an opponent. There was nothing easy on the ground all day. If Jamaal was not such a freak of nature, he could have easily ended up with 50 yards rushing.

Nate Jones- Perhaps he was the biggest beneficiary of Billy Pittman's absence, but he took full advantage of the extra playing time. Jones ended the game with 9 catches but more than that, he just always seemed to be open and caught the ball when Colt came his way. It's really nice to see Jones finally getting some meaningful playing time and stepping up.

Frank Okam- Was a beast. He looked unstoppable at times. And it was not just his great plays, it was when he made the great plays. Every time Arkansas State had a big third down, it seemed Okam was in the back field for a sack or just disrupting the backfield.

The Bad

Colt McCoy- Though his numbers were terrible, it just didn't seem like the 2006 McCoy out there. He made some puzzling throws and didn't connect on passes that might have been completed last year. McCoy threw a ball Jermichael Finley (the only one thrown his way) when Finley was completely covered by a defender. I think Colt thought J-Mike could just out leap the defender, but it was almost another INT. That is just an example of some throws that made it seem like he was pressing all game.

Jermichael Finley- I guess you can't really be down on a TE for not making a catch when he was only thrown to once all night. But I really would have liked to see Finley dominate an inferior team in both pass catching and blocking. When Charles ran wide it never seemed like there was any room to run. I am not saying that was totally Finley's fault, but he was just part of the problem, and not the answer, as many hoped him to be.

The Offensive Line- I don't put them in the "Ugly" category yet because their pass blocking was fine. Colt was only pressured a handful of times and sacked once. The one sack was really the only time they didn't pick up the blitz effectively. But there was just no step forward in run blocking. It looked like 2006, and maybe even worse. Charles maybe had 4 or 5 open holes all night. Honestly, some of the problem may be the running scheme not fitting the personnel, but if you can't punch it in on 1st and goal from the 2 on Arkansas State, then you know you have problems.

The Ugly

Secondary- When I say ugly, I REALLY mean ugly. There was just nothing positive I can think to say about the way this unit played. Even last year, when a bunch of yards were given up, at least they could all tackle well. Brandon Foster and Ryan Palmer may make up the worst set of corners in the past 20 years at Texas. At no point in time did anything they did on the field resemble a competent effort at pass coverage. There were consistent 15 yards cushions that yielded easy 10 yard stop route every time. They were beat deep. They were beat across the middle. There was a lack of tackling. I guess the worst part is that there is little even to point to that could give any positive hope for the rest of the year. The only thing I could say is that Deon Beasley played well. You could see that when he was in coverage, the passes were going to the opposite side of the field and he had several passes that were well defended. Even Chykie Brown played well in his limited time. I am not sure why those two didn't play more, but I can say that Palmer and Foster are not long for the starting squad this year, and the sooner the better.

Greg Davis- Sigh... Didn't we all think this was behind us? The puzzling schemes, the "interesting" play calls... It just all looks too familiar to the Pre-Vince Era in which Davis was one of the most maligned OCs in the nation. The frustration lies in the fact that he seems to be unwilling to change a scheme that doesn't seem to work unless you have Orange Jesus (VY) at QB. The heart of the zone read relies on the fact that the QB can run the ball and that keeps the defense honest and allows the RB time to hit the hole or edge. But with Colt under center, there is just no incentive for defenses to do anything but hawk Charles and hit him in the backfield. And that is not a knock on McCoy. He is just a pocket passer. And that was clear on the first two drives of the game. Colt picked apart the defense as he sat in the pocket. It seemed baffling that Davis would just abandon this quasi-hurry up offense that splits 4 or 5 WRs and just dissects the defense through the air. The Longhorns need to be a predominately passing team. HIs decision to run Charles 4 straight times on the goal line drove me crazy. Two of the runs were out of the shot gun or were run wide. Why didn't we just hand the ball to Chris Ogbannaya and go right up the gut in an I-formation? Things aren't going to change and we know it. That's not something that this staff seems fond of. Let's home there is better execution, because this scheme is here to stay. Sigh...

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