Peeps, that was a very solid win. USA isn't that bad, but we controlled the game after weathering USA's emotional storm early. And best of all, the game was never in doubt. In fact, it was over at halftime. Here's what I saw:
1. Defense overall was solid. Gave up a few big passing plays, but unlike last week, we kept them from going for TDs. In fact, we held the Jags out of the endzone all day. We bent a little more than I'd have liked, but we never broke.
2. Saw several missed tackles. Still need work to clean that up. Miss tackles in SEC games and those plays go from being 10 yard gains to 30 yard gains or TDs. Head up, wrap up. Second man goes for the strip, not the initial tackler.
3. The defensive rotations continued, but it's going to pay off in conference play. The "1B" unit doesn't have much, if any, drop off on the DL or at LB. DBs are a different story, though. Right now, our best combination is Cox, Market, Calhoun, and Love. It's really not even close.
4. Speaking of Market, he didn't play much at all today. I'd guess those stitches get super irritated wearing a helmet. Did see him make one nice tackle late, though. Hopefully he can fight through the discomfort next week against LSU.
5. All talk of Will Redmond being our best CB can stop. He may have the talent to be by the end of the season, but right now Love & Calhoun are superior. He's gotten beaten badly two weeks in a row. To be fair, at least he caught the INT thrown right to him. Can't tell you how many times I've seen MSU DBs drop a gift like that. Hope he can get it going, because he's got a ton of potential.
6. Benardrick McKinney looked particularly good today. He took a bad angle and missed a sack on Bridge early in the game, but really stepped it up after that. He finished tied for the team lead with Market and Wells at 5. 1.5 TFLs with 1 sack and fumble recovery. That's a nice day for a guy who probably only played 45% of our defensive snaps.
7. Speaking of Wells, hope his injury wasn't serious. Looked like he might have tweaked an ankle. He might've come back in, but if so I didn't notice.
8. DL got decent pressure. We were trying to walk the fine line between putting pressure on Bridge, but trying to stay in our lanes to contain him and prevent a big scramble. Dual threat QBs make it hard on a DL.
9. We saw a lot of second and third string today, especially in the safety. I noticed a whole lot of PT for Coleman, Evans, and Cleveland. They held up ok, although I'm not sure I'd want to see much of them in SEC play.
10. Preston Smith continues to be a bad, bad, full grown man. He finished the day with 2 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FF, and 1 block. SEC DL of the week aGAIN?
11. Overall, I thought we schemed pretty well for what USA likes to do. I can see why there's so much hype around them in the Sun Belt. Bridge has a big arm and can hurt you with his legs. Not a whole lot to complain about today, other than the obvious pass D issues.
1. Smokey Graham is cool as a cucumber on PR. No more worrying about whether or not we'll catch it. The guy is a natural back there.
2. Sobiesk went 5/5 on XPs. And all of them were down the guts. Hopefully we're improving there.
3. Bell shanked a couple of punts early, costing us field position and forcing the D to defend a short field. Can't have that happen in SEC play.
1. Overall, we had a very basic game plan and we executed it about as well as possible.
2. Thought the OL looked shaky early, but they had completely taken over the game by halftime. The third quarter was a clinic.
3. I know he was out today, but we need to FREE CLAYBORN as soon as possible. Beckwith is serviceable as a starter, but he doesn't generate any thump in the run game and is good for at least 2 whiffs per game. I repeat: FREE CLAYBORN!!!
4. Wish I knew what was wrong with Dillon Day so far this season. He's been atypically bad. A false start today completely self-destructed an early drive when we were already pinned deep. Result: USA gets the ball midfield.
5. J-Rob is an absolute BEAST. He finished the day with 12 carries for 77 yards, 6.4 YPC, and 2 TDs. He also had a reception for 39 yards. Any game he doesn't get at least 15 touches is a game we wasted. FEED THE BEAST.
6. There's a big drop-off at RB after J-Rob. It pains me to see how the injuries have derailed Nick Griffin. He's still good, but he could have been great. Shumpert lacks vision and top end speed. Holloway is nothing more than a change of pace scatback.
7. Speaking of Shump, I think we need to make him a FB. He's great for short yardage situations and will blow up LBs. He'd be a perfect fit. I'm not holding my breath, though.
8. WRs had a decent day with 10 different guys catching a ball. The "bad" news is none of them were named Bear Wilson.
9. Fred Brown had a nice day. 2 catches for 44 yards. He's going to be really good before he leaves State.
10. MoJo is a major mismatch in the passing game. Really want to see us feed him more.
11. Good to see Tubby play a bigger offensive role today. Need a big game from him next week.
12. Dak gonna Dak. Just another average day for him, going 13/21 passing for 201 and a TD with a 61.9% completion percentage, rushing for 139 and a TD, and receiving for 24 and a TD. That's a total of 364 all purpose yards on the day. Ridiculous. He does need to improve at not staring down his WRs and pre-determining where he'll go with the ball before the snap. But even the best QBs struggle with that stuff from time-to-time.
13. Run the Football Update: The Dawgs ran 69 offensive plays today. We rushed 45 times and threw it 24. That's a 65/35 run/pass ratio. Still think we should've run it a little more, but as long as we're running at least 60% of the time, I won't complain.
1. We had several false starts today. Gotta eliminate those. They're drive killers, especially for a run heavy offense like we want to be. Hopefully we got them out of our system today.
2. Thought Mullen got a little cute passing 5 times in a row after getting 6 yards rushing on the first play from scrimmage. You're all going to be sick of this phrase by the end of the season, but: Run. The. Football.
3. Nice to see us go with Dak for 3 quarters, although I still maintain we only saw Damian so much last week due to Dak's mystery foot injury.
4. Speaking of Damian, I wish we'd stop shutting down the offense and going ultra conservative when we put him in late. Run the offense and let him play. He's already handicapped by having the 2nd string OL and Holloway in there with him.
5. Excellent to see us come out against an overmatched opponent, play a complete game, and dominate start to finish. Even better to see us not allow a cheap TD in garbage time to make it look closer than it was.
6. After all the hype about today being a sellout for USA and them making a big deal, it was hilarious to see how many of their fans came to the game disguised as empty bleachers.
That's how I saw it. We're right where we want to be heading into Death Valley for a matchup with the cursed Tiiiiiigahhhhhhs next Saturday night. Preseason is over, time to find out what we really have. I can't wait. Fire in the hole!
In Mullen We Trust,