Oof...not a good sports weekend. To recap:
- Dawgs lose, and look bad doing so
- Every one of our rivals wins, some (Auburn, UT) looking better than expected
- D.J. Shockley and Thomas Brown get cut from the Falcons
- Braves get swept by a mediocre Reds team at home, the final nail in the postseason coffin
Wow...good thing the Falcons don't start until NEXT week.
Let's get this over with, shall we?
OH! I got one! College Gameday started with Comin' To Your Citaaayyy, rather than that Kenny Chesney abomination. That was awesome.
- The defense. If I were to give a letter grade, I would give them a solid B. That was a very good offense, and outside of the one big play to Dez Bryant we didn't give them much. I honestly believe that if last year's defense had been consistently put into bad situations due to turnovers and putrid special teams play the way this one was, we would have given up 40 plus. Tackling was solid for the most part, and I liked the scheme...I thought we mixed in just enough blitz to make it effective. We held Zac Robinson to 135 yds passing, Kendall Hunter to 75 yds rushing, and Bryant to only 3 catches (granted, two of them were for touchdowns).
The only concerning point to me, and what kept them from going into the "great" category is that we still did not get good output from our defensive end position. No consistent pass rush from there, and not great against the run, either.
The long touchdown to Bryant is directly attributed to lack of pass rush, in my opinion. NO safety is going to cover Dez Bryant one-on-one...that play was made because Robinson had too much time to throw and allowed Bryant to get past the zone and running free down the field. Still took a great throw and catch to score.
Overall, a solid performance, but still a disturbing lack of GAMECHANGING plays. Had the opportunity to make several interceptions early that could have been huge and did not convert.
- Drew Butler. Consistently flipped the field and had several big boomers. His average (57 yards per punt) was also helped by some fortuitous bounces and some bad decisions by Bryant on letting punts drop.
- Blair Walsh. The 53 yard field goal was huge at the time (made it a one score game), and he consistently did what he was asked to do on kickoff (although I don't agree with what he was asked to do).
- At least it wasn't an SEC game.
THE JUST OKAY:
- Richard Samuel. He ran hard, and I think we should have kept pounding him (more on that later). What concerns me is that he seems to go down at first contact too often. As big as he is, he should be running through arm tackles, and at least occasionally running over smaller guys. I'm no expert, but it looked like at least part of the problem was that every time he got hit, his legs stopped moving rather than continuing to drive. At least that's coachable, though.
- The offensive line. Played very well most of the game, but weren't consistent enough to make it into the "Good" category.
- Joe Cox. Right after the game, I would have put him in the "bad" category, but after watching it again (yes, I am that masochistic) he didn't play as poorly as I originally thought. He suffered some crucial drops on some plays that would have been first downs which may have turned his day around. But...the ball took too long to get out of there, it took too long to get to his receivers, he made some bad decisions at times (like running out of bounds and making it third and long rather than throwing the ball away), and there was no excuse for the fumble. That was not a blind side hit...he saw the guy coming and had plenty of time to either throw the ball away or at LEAST do a better job of tucking the ball and protecting against the fumble.
Couple of things to keep in mind, for all of those ready to bench him:
- He had the flu for three days leading up to that game, and who knows how healthy he was on Saturday.
- That was his first start in three years, on the road against a quality team. It's not fair to slam the book shut on a guy after just one start, especially since his play was only mediocre, not atrocious.
I wonder how many of the people turning on him now were the same guys who thought we would be better off with him rather than Stafford?
- The offensive play calling. I don't pretend to be a football expert...I'm just a fan with about 30 years of experience WATCHING football. So, please, somebody who is smarter than I am...explain why we had a very effective drive to start the game, and then spent the rest of the game going away from the principles that made that drive successful? I thought the opening drive was Bobo at his best...a very nice mix of a power running game and just enough wrinkles to keep it interesting. For the rest of the game, it was like Florida '05 and JTIII all over again.
The Okie State defense never did consistently stop the running game...we shut it down ourselves, and got too cute for much of the second and third quarters. And why did we not see Logan Gray or Branden Smith on offense again after the opening drive? Didn't Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wootentheballcarrier make the trip? Anyone?
- Kick coverage. Game turning 75 yard kickoff return by the Cowboys to start the second half. Way too much room on the punts that they did get a chance to return. Branden Smith's brain fart on the punt that should have been downed on the one. Just a bad day for kick coverage, a continuation from last year.
- Branden Smith on special teams. The previously mentioned disaster on punt coverage, plus returning TWO kicks from 8 yards deep in the end zone. I can see ONE, as a freshman mistake, but to do it twice means I don't want him back there anymore.
- Penalties. Not as many as we had at times last year, but they always seemed to come at the most crucial moments, wiping out first downs or the huge punt return by Prince Miller that would have certainly been another TD.
- Trinton Sturdivant's injury. This one still hurts too much to talk about. Not even the effect that it has on our depth, etc...just what a crappy thing to happen to a really great kid.
- The Reshad Jones "penalty". I've now watched that play about 35 times. That was a GREAT play by Reshad Jones, the kind of play that Dawg fans (including me) have been begging this guy to start making. Great timing, perfect LEGAL hit. There was absolutely NOTHING he should have done differently on that play...if he doesn't hit the WR and jar the ball loose it's a big play and maybe a touchdown. The fact that not one, not two, but at least THREE officials threw a flag on that play makes me very nervous regarding how these plays are going to be called in the future. The sissification of football at ALL levels apparently continues unabated.
- The "fan" reaction. Kit said a lot of what I want to say here, on the Dawggone Blog. But people calling for jobs at this point seriously need to have their head examined. Yes, I'm ticked about the play calling, the substitution patterns, the continued stubborn approach to kick off strategy...but this was one game, on the road against the #9 team in the country. It's going to take more than that to get me to turn on the coaching staff that has produced two SEC championships, ten wins a year, and the longest run of success we have seen in decades.
I could go on a rant here about how message boards, talk radio, and yes, even the blogosphere has produced the sort of fan that only thinks they sound intelligent if they are being negative...but I'm in a bad enough mood as it is.
Let's put this behind us, pound some Cocks, and move on.
In spite of it all, I'd still rather be a Bulldawg.