Wow, this has been a weird season so far. We have been good, bad, and mediocre. I've been happy, thrilled, mildly disappointed, very disappointed and now I'm just confused.
This week, we played a bad team, and almost lost. We outgained Idaho 496 to 296, and yet we won by 1 point. That isn't easy to do. Three turnovers, two blocked kicks, tons of "hidden yards" and a few untimely penalties all conspired to make this game closer than it should've been.
Still, a win is a win. We're 3-2, which is a just game worse than I thought we would be. We've been competitive in every game we've played, and we aren't far from being 5-0. The problem is, I'm still not sure what this team is. Are we a defensive team? Are we an offensive team? I don't know.
We are, I suppose, an inconsistent team. This was to be expected though, with so many young players in so many key positions. With two first time starters splitting time at QB, 18 year old kids playing key roles on offense, defense and special teams, and with a relatively young and inexperienced coaching staff, we expected growing pains. But this?
Just in this game, we saw several punts get past the returner and get downed inside our 15 yard line. We saw a FG get blocked and a punt get blocked. We saw our QBs throw an interception and our RBs fumble twice. We saw an offsides on 4th and 3 give Idaho a free first down. We saw 2 false start penalties on a single drive. We saw our QB get sacked on 3rd down 3 separate times, each killing a drive.
Some of these are the same mistakes we've seen all season long, particularly the interceptions and the penalties. But the sacks and the fumbles were new. The punt return issues have been ongoing, but the blocked kicks were new. So, what mistakes are we going to make next week?
At some point, when a team consistently makes mental mistakes, questions have to be asked of the coaching staff. Now, I'm not saying that Mike London is in trouble or anything like that. But our special teams have been atrocious. Is it time to wonder if Anthony Pointdexter is a qualified special teams coach? Our QBs have thrown 4 TDs and 8 INTs. Is it time to wonder if Bill Lazor is doing a good job developing these guys?
I don't know if there are answers to these questions. By and large, the players making these mistakes are young. They will improve. The coaching staff is also on the younger side. They will also improve. Do we have the patience to wait for it?
As always, some comments and observations from the game, in no particular order:
- I said it at the time, and I've been saying it pretty much non-stop since. With 6 seconds left in the half, from the 20 yard line, I kick the FG every single time. The chances of completing a 20 yard pass into the endzone were lower than the chances of running out of time. I will take my 3 points and go into the locker room with an 11 point lead. That was a terrible decision by Mike London. Blaming Rocco for making the mistake was also a terrible decision. Sorry coach, that one is on you.
- Once again, our OL struggled against a subpar defensive unit. Three sacks don't sound like that many, but they cost us 32 yards and they killed 3 drives.We rushed for 161 yards, but under 4 yards per carry. We also had a lot of running plays stuffed. If smaller quicker DLs were beating us around the edges, I would understand somewhat. But these teams shouldn't be winning the battles in the middle of the line.
- The defense played their best game of the season, with particular kudos to Matt Conrath and Steve Greer. Chase Minnifield also had a fantastic game.
- With Chase playing so well, teams are going to continue to target Tra Nicholson. I know he is going to be good, and I realize that he might be the best cover guy we've got. But in our defense, right now, Dom Joseph might be better option.
- Corey Mosley had two big hits that caused incomplete passes. I love seeing that from a safety. When he is making those hits, and not getting stupid flags, Mosley is a weapon back there.
- Why did we have 50 pass attempts and only 41 rush attempts in a game that we were winning. If we'd kept running the ball throughout the second half, I think we would've won more handily.
- I'm not a huge fan of QB rotations, but I see what everybody else sees in David Watford. I realize he needs the reps. But please, please, please, start calling some plays that use his particular skills. Putting in him the same offense as Michael Rocco just doesn't make any sense. Watford has some serious wheels, so let's run some plays that use them. How about an option? How about a naked bootleg? How about a QB draw?
- Punt returns have been a problem for several years now. How come I don't see any other teams have the same problems? Why don't we put two guys back to return punts? If we're concerned about Terrell's decision making, put Chase back there as well.
- As an aside, when did we start playing the Good Ole Song before the game? I don't like it. Wait til we score.