Saturday, September 3, 2011

5 Key Things: Youngstown State Revisited

"Youngstown State. This damned well better be a case of MSU SMASH." It wasn't. Point of fact, analogies of old people fighting for a glass of ovaltine with their canes and walkers came to mind. Analogies of going to the dentist so you have healthy teeth for the next six months come to mind. It was pretty much as unsatisfying as a win of the 28-6 variety comes to be. Our offense was somewhere between ineffective and brilliant. Our defense. I'll get to that.

1.) Offensive Line Smash: McGaha looked completely overwhelmed at LT. The rule of thumb applies, if you can't beat YSU at LT, you will not beat OSU. He was yanked in favor of Dan France during the game and I suspect that arrangement will be permanent. France looked raw and had his own issues, but I think given that he is a RS-Soph I'd rather have him in at LT even if McGaha is like 6 percent better. McGaha is a five year program guy and the only offensive tackle recruit from the class of either 2007 or 2008 who's contributed at OT.

2.) Defensive Line Smash:
Zero sacks. This is a dink and dunk team, the kind that generates a lot of yardage on us. Counting in the stands I usually didn't get past two seconds when the QB dropped back to pass before he let go. Still zero sacks. This is a difficult thing to decide whether to be disappointed about, we weren't really blitzing and when we were, there was no zone blitz, we weren't flooding a single gap. Still I was really hoping the DL wouldn't need help to generate significant pressure on Youngstown State.

3.) Does Nick Hill Fit the Bill? 2 carries for 7 yards. Both in the last couple of minutes of the game. He might well be as good as advertised, but I don't think good enough to see carries in front of Baker, Bell and Caper.

4.) How badly are we going to miss Greg Jones and Eric Gordon? Max Bullough tied Greg Jones career high for tackles in a game. Allow me to repeat, in his first collegiate start at Mike, Max Bullough matched Greg Jones career high for tackles in a game. This is simply put, better than anyone could have hoped for. It seemed like there was a lot of late and obvious communication about what play the defense should be running. I don't know if this falls to Bullough or not, but it would be good to see those calls made moments sooner so the D has time to read the plays. Jitters would be a fair assessment.

We're going to miss Eric Gordon this year. I didn't see anyone who obviously stepped up in his place. The season and the linebackers are young, let's see what happens.

5.) Can we run for 300 yards?
Ouch. 159 yards is still not bad, but we threw a lot more than I was expecting.

Bonus Observations

Laces Out Dan

If that was anything other than a botched snap, I'll eat my hat. Conroy was drilling them pre-game from 50 yards out.

I like everyone else with a pair of eyes, felt like the defense played some sloppy football last night. Lots of guys were out of position. The tackling was sloppy. The tackling was frankly appalling at times. Still. They gave up six points and I am the biggest believer that is the only defensive stat that matters. More importantly, I thought they didn't open their playbook at all. Each blitz was straightforward, it was the linebacker coming through their obvious gap. It seemed like there was little or no stunting, the goal of the game was keep the plays in front of you and don't let up yardage and don't open the playbook. Mission accomplished. Still, tons of room for improvement here.

Secondly, I was really hoping that we'd be finished with the Kirk Cousins flailing against good coverage. He played a bulletproof 18 of 22 for 240 and a TD, but it concerns me that with good coverage he still cannot throw the damn ball away. Maybe this is a coaching thing, I have no idea.

I'm looking forward to a more even-keeled effort on both sides of the ball next week against FAU. If not, then we can all start to worry a bit.

Update #1: The Sunshine Piece

In re-reading the article this morning I realized I forgot to include some of the things I was really happy about.

If you haven't heard about it yet, Arthur Ray got the start at Left Guard on Friday night. This was purely ceremonial as I think the cancer has ravaged his leg beyond the durability needed for a Big Ten Season at LG. There's a lot of heartwarming going around here, to Joel Foreman for letting him start, to Coach D for not flipping his scholarship to Medical DQ a long time ago, but most importantly to Arthur Ray. I don't think this could have happened to someone more determined to make good on his scholarship. If he can get a medical redshirt and a sixth year of eligibility, I wouldn't count him out of playing next year. Not because the depth chart favors him, but because I won't bet against a kid who's been through that. The young man has a bright future in front of him.

B.J. Cunningham. I was talking with a friend on Friday morning who has Cunningham in a College Fantasy Football league. He said he started Cunningham on Friday night. I laughed condescendingly because I was thinking you silly bastard, they're going to run for 1400 yards on Friday night and throw twice. Not only did they throw plenty on Friday night, BJ Cunningham had half the catches. He looked like a man among boys.

Skyler Burkland. I think we may have a four year starter at RT folks. He looks like the real deal. We just have to keep him healthy now. We've been absolutely ravaged at OT during the Dantonio tenure.

Blake Treadwell. If Treadwell is the back-up, I cringe to see what Travis Jackson will be. Treadwell plays hard and runs angry. I like the cut of his jib.

3 Stars: Arthur Ray, B.J. Cunningham, Max Bullough

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