As always, brought to you with minimal review of video, statistics, or other analysis. This weekend the pregame beverage of choice was Miller Lite. Lots and lots of Miller Lite. And then once that was gone, Keystone Light. Don’t hate (but I didn’t buy it, so hate if you must).
Before I get started with the gnashing of teeth, let me swat at a tried and true hornets’ nest. NOT to start a GSD (although I do love a good GSD), but… last night, in addition to having the type of clock issues that War Memorial Stadium is constantly maligned for, and in addition to another attempted rendition of, gulp, The Wave, which only those lower-IQ fans from the 501 would have the audacity to begin, our party was treated to the theft of our cooler during the game. It was full of beer. Animals, indeed.
So, did Tyler Wilson have the worst 300-yard performance in the history of college football? We’ll get back to that.
I’d imagine that there is not much of a middle ground over our performance last night. There’s a contingent of those who are wanting to revise their preseason prediction to the tune of 2-3 games, and also a group trying to talk the former off the ledge, alleging that the Hogs raced off to a 24-0 lead, let off the gas and lost focus, and then struggled to regain it. If you were paying attention, you know this is not the case.
If memory serves, and if the stadium statboard was correct, we gave up in the neighborhood of 255 yards in the first half. That they scored 0 points for the first 29 minutes is immaterial. Troy moved the ball easily on drive after drive. Quick hitting passes that took advantage of an apparent vulnerability in pass coverage by our linebackers. I’m not as worried about the lack of pressure, as we again kept it pretty base, especially in the first half, but I’m certainly anxious to see if we can get to the quarterback when we aren’t trying to keep tricks up our sleeve. I actually thought that our defense performed better in the second half than it did in the first. Troy’s two-play drive that had Reynolds Razorback Stadium murmuring with concern is, to me, their possession that can most easily be written off as an anomaly. One very well-designed run that was set up by pass after pass after pass, and one extremely well executed pass over the top of our coverage that was set up by scores upon scores of quick slants and drag routes. Man, that drag route was absolutely killing our linebackers.
Pass protection is pass protection. Keep the other team from hitting your quarterback. That doesn’t change. Ever. Whether you are playing Missouri State, Troy State, or the University of Alabama. We couldn’t do it. Yes, they brought pressure with success, but they also just flat-out beat us at times. I have confidence that this is something that is fixable. Fixable in a week might be a long shot, but it is fixable. Bobby Petrino is, by God, going to make sure that his quarterback is able to throw the football. You can take that to the fricking bank. What has me much more concerned is that, last night, when our quarterback WAS able to throw the football, where it was going was anyone’s guess. I’m not used to that, and I do not like it at all.
More than the defense or the offensive line or the running game, Tyler Wilson gives me the greatest cause for concern going into next week. He just was not sharp at all last night. Don’t give me bullshit about not having time to throw the football. He had plenty of opportunities to make plays last night, and missed most of them. If you’re being honest with yourself, you know that he was not the best quarterback on the field last night. Not by a long shot.
Part of it is that following Ryan Mallett is just not fair, but that’s just part of it. Count me as one who was optimistic that our passing game might actually be BETTER with Wilson. I thought we’d feed the ball underneath, have fewer drops on those passes due to them not being thrown ridiculously hard, and be able to take advantage of our receiving corps’ propensity for YAC. I knew we would stretch the field less, but I never thought the deep pass would nearly go away altogether. Those underneath routes weren’t as effective last night because we couldn’t go down the field, and Troy knew it. That shouldn’t happen.
More than that, Wilson was off on short passes. He was off on easy throws. Nothing seemed to be crisp, other than his first pass of the game. Is it because he flat out refuses to set his feet? We’re three games in, and you can count the times that he just planted and threw the football on one hand. Those feet never get set. His passing on the run is not as good as it was in his limited action last year. He does a weird arm-motion slingy thing that I mentioned last week, and last night a couple of times he would run into his throws with a little crow-hop, like he was about to throw a fricking javelin. About 10 yards over a wide-assed open Cobi Hamilton is where one particular spear went.
He also is just unable to make his reads and follow his progressions the way that Mallett could. He gets through two. It’s a very simple flow-chart Primary, dump. Every play. Stare down the primary. If primary is open, throw. If primary is covered, consider throwing. If he decides to throw it, it gets ugly. If not, he goes straight to the outlet. If the outlet isn’t there, he’s not staying in the pocket. And outside the pocket is not somewhere that I feel Tyler Wilson is going to win a lot of games for us. Mallett just played the game between the ears so much faster. I miss his arm some, but much more than that I miss the way he could run that offense. He NEVER got the credit he deserved for that. I hope Wilson gets there. He’s a kid you want to see succeed. He’s shown he has the tools. But last night raised some MAJOR red flags for me.
Okay, now that I’ve kicked Tyler in the balls for four paragraphs, I’ll mention some positives I saw last night.
The light came on for Ronnie Wingo last night, for about two quarters. He saw the hole, attacked it, and sought to KEEP RUNNING after he got there, instead of finding a safe place to land. He actually ran right through a tackle last night because he never saw it coming. Big hole, he attacks it, never sees a linebacker coming from the side, gets popped, runs through the tackle. If he sees him, he concedes he’ll be tackled; instead, he gets about eight more yards. One of the best runs I’ve ever seen him make. You done good last night Ronnie. We just have to get that light to STAY on.
Kiero Small is still blowing people up. Love that he loves to block.
Kody Walker. Starting to come around. Maybe can we see him in short yardage away from the goal line?
I tweeted last week chastising Jeff Long for the lack of score announcements at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. We didn’t get them over the PA, but Top 25 and SEC scores were posted on the Pig Screen during nearly every timeout. And they were TIMELY. Pretty much on par with the text updates I was getting from ESPN. Did we finally get a widget or whatever installed? How fricking hard was that? Better late than never. Kudos, A.D. Long.
I am very happy that we have played two hurry-up offenses in a row. Maybe even all three of them? Getting more plays under your belt is never a bad thing. In the sense that there will be more drives in a game, thus giving our defense additional experience. Not trying to say that I root for our opponents having sustained drives as opposed to three and outs.
So, we looked like ass in spots last night. We looked very pedestrian in others. And we looked very impressive and explosive at times as well. It sucks that they made it interesting in the end, but I feel like I was watching a pretty salty team against us last night. They were FAST on the edge. They tackled soundly. They won their share of man-on-man matchups, and they were not intimidated at all. Guarantee you Troy would have beaten Vandy yesterday. Which means, of course, that they would beat the holy hell out of Fat Lloyd Christmas and his band of frickups down in Oxford. And after all my bitching and worrying, that has to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, right?
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