Week 5 - (W) UT 40 vs KSU 34

2 in a row!

Couldn't believe it. With the exception of the Notre Dame win last year, we've been trained to expect to lose the close ones... especially when it involves missed kicks.

But, our guys pulled at the W. The feeling after the game was definitely part relief that we didn't blow another game that we should have won, and but mostly the feeling was this... 





This game was like the Upside Down (Stranger Things, anyone?). I was expecting more of the same. Great D, meh O, and a low scoring game. While it wasn't super high scoring during regulation (27-27), it was weird to feel confident when our O was on the field and uneasy when our D was on the field toward the end of the game. For the record, I'm confident our D will be fine. 

Overall thoughts:
- Our D can't defend (fast) dual threat QBs
- We must limit big plays on D
- Is Beck learning?!
- Get on the Ehlinger hype train...

One side note before I jump in - yes, I recognize the kicking woes are an obvious thing, but it's so obvious and frustrating that I don't want to spend much time on it, and definitely not put any GIFs of missed kicks (or made kicks) in here.

Defense:
Well, we made the plays when we had too. Our D did a much better job defending the run when Ertz was in there, but man that #5 (Delton) could run. Thankfully that guy didn't play the entire game. Also, well done on giving the ball back to the O with time left in regulation... Just to see our kicker... ok, I won't.

- Our D can't defend (fast) dual threat QBs
As soon as #5 Delton came in, he just started running all over us. Good thing he's an ok passer at best. I get that our D didn't game plan for him, and they made enough adjustments by OT (thanks for that KSU offensive holding as well) to help get us the win.

From what I saw, they basically ran 2 versions of the same off-tackle run with their fast QB. On both plays, he has a lead blocker from the backfield. On one version, the weak side tackle pulls all the way across to be the first lead, on the version below, it's just his backfield mate.




Luckily, while some of the remaining QBs on our schedule can run, nome of them are runners like that guy (or the Maryland QBs for that matter).

- We must limit big plays on D
... said every defensive coordinator ever. Not a bold statement, I get it. Still, their entire offense while Ertz was in there was based off big plays (in the passing game of no less). 

Surprisingly, Locke appears to be the culprit here. Just caught flat footed.




I think this is the corner's fault. It looks like they might be playing cover 3 based on what the corner on the far side does, so it looks like the near side corner mistakenly jumped the short route, and that route is just too far for B Jones #19 to get too.




This isn't a big play, and it's actually decent coverage. I just want to point out that Locke, who was heralded during the offseason as one of our best defensive backs coming into the season, struggled in this game. Don't mean to finger point, but we need better from our best to keep this streak going.




All that being said, our D still did enough to win, and had it not been for the missed kicks, it would have been enough to win in regulation. Here's a nice coverage sack early in the game. They are capable of not blowing coverages... let's just limit them as much as possible (zero would be great) against OU. (Doesn't hurt that Ertz panicked quickly)




Last note on the D - I will say, our Run D still looks very solid assuming there's not a speedster back there. Hopefully that carries true moving forward.


Offense:
There are still some kinks to work through (mainly red zone offense), but we looked better than I expected. Big props to our patchwork o-line and the coaches for a pretty good game up front considering the circumstance. Yes, Ehlinger made a ton of plays with his feet to escape pressure, but hey, Cuney didn't botch any snaps like Shack did several times against USC, so there's that.

- Is Beck learning?!
I'm not ready to say I like Beck or anything close to it yet, but he (and the offense) definitely exceeded expectations. Way less sideways play calls and more standard pass plays with a few well timed throwbacks (one for a TD). Getting the ball to best players hands - Mapps, CJ, Lil' J, Heard, and thankfully Toe Nail!. However, I do think he abandons the run way too quickly, and gets away from Toe Nail quicker than he should. As I said above, red zone (particularly within the 10) is rough - can't believe I actually miss the Swoopes package down there. 

I don't know if a lot of it is influenced by Herman (I bet it is), but regardless, the direction of the O seems to be up and to the right, so hopefully that continues.

Few quick stats:
- Toe Nail - 6 runs for 32 yds (5.3/carry) ... More runs. Please and thank you, Beck.
- RHM - 12 catches for 121 yds ... YES
- CJ - 7 catches for 92 yds ... YES
- Lil J - 4 catches for 60 ... YES
- Heard - 4 catches for 50 ... YES

CJ and RHM should be leading the team in receptions every week, followed by Lil J, then probably Heard. Throw in the occasional toss to Duvernay, Foreman, Loenard, Joe, as it makes sense. The first 2 should be on the field at all times though IMO.

Toe Nail - love his burst and the way he finishes runs. More Toe Nail! 




Hemphill-Mapps - As Charlie Murphy would say (RIP CM), "That cat can ball". His run-after-the-catch is awesome. Great vision and anticipation, then balance and strength to break tackles. He had another play up the sidelines for a first down that was quite impressive.




Lil' J - Considering this guy was a running back in high school, his skills as a WR are quite impressive. The running abilities that he has shown make sense (though don't fumble the damn ball by trying to jump over a dude! ThankingYouChrisWarren!), but a 6'4" guy making grabs like this... love it.




SAM I AM:
Moxie, grit, heart, lunch pail, etc. ... This guy deserves all the football superlatives. What a game. He definitely played like the guy who was playing at the end of the USC game and not the guy who was playing for the first 3 quarters. Impressive - great accuracy on the short and intermediate throws, very solid running (thankfully without getting hurt), and smart decision-making. Sure, he can improve on the deep ball, but can't we all make some improvements in our lives? I know I can. It's still early, so let's not canonize him as Saint Ehlinger just yet, but man was he fun to watch on Saturday...

Accuracy on the intermediate throw. Good arm strength too.




But can he make throws with touch that he was to drop into a window... while on the move to his left? Yes, it appears he can.




18 year old kid here stepping into his throw even though he's about to get blasted. NFL QBs don't even do this half the time. (Nice catch by CJ too)





I was hating on his speed after the USC game, but this is a nice little scamper. Granted, KSU's D is surely slower than USC's D. Regardless, very nice to see him pull away from #34.





Finally, 2nd overtime, he's probably taken 20+ hits at this point, and he's a true 18 year old freshman (though, he's built like a runningback no doubt). If you haven't gotten on the Ehlinger hype train, then you better get off the tracks, because it's coming... (and OU STILL SUCKS!)




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