It's difficult to not be ecstatic about the offensive production through week two of this very young season.
What I Liked
1. Offensive Line Play--Any time you have 2 backs over 100 yards in consecutive weeks you're doing something right! Are they dominant or is it the scheme or a bit of both? Time will tell, but so far the line of scrimmage has been controlled beautifully by this group.
2. Fake Punt Call--Not so much the call as the confidence. You practice these things so much yet rarely run them because most coaches don't have the man-parts when the time comes. Fourth and 10 on your side of the field and you call a RUN PLAY as your fake...yeah, Gene Chizik owns a pair!
3. Spreading the Wealth--Balancing the carries between Ben Tate, Onterio McCalebb, and Mario Fannin has been a thing of beauty. Getting Kodi Burns involved in imaginative ways keeps the defense guessing and standing flat-footed as well.
4. The block our corner, Neiko Thorpe, had on Antonio Coleman's PICK-6--The drop, ball skills, and dive to get into the end zone were all impressive by Coleman, but what I enjoyed more than that was Neiko Thorpe hustling to get in front of Antonio and obliterating Anthony Dixon at the goal line, allowing Coleman to score.
5. Enthusiastic Coaches--I enjoyed watching the players run off the field after a big play into the arms (or chest bump) of an energized, pumped coach. All of them seem to be tremendous motivators (and excellent spectacle frame selectors). It will be interesting to see their demeanor when things start poorly.
What I Disliked
1. Kicking Game (minus Wes Byrum)--No production from punt returners. Even worse production from kick off returns. Blocked punt is inexcusable and will get you beat faster than any other play in football.
2. Sloppy Tackling--Way too much diving at runners in open space by our linebackers and defensive backs. When I played this was a sure-fire way to find yourself standing on the sidelines, but now-a-days, it appears diving at the ball carrier's feet is how tackling is taught?!
3. Motioning Chris Todd Into The Backfield In the Wild Eagle Formation???? Does anyone really think Kodi Burns is going to hand the ball off or use Chris Todd as the option pitch man? If they do then perhaps the SEC institutions should consider raising the minimum ACT requirements to enroll in school. I'm sure there's a pass play stemming from this, but if that tricks a defense, then re-read the previous sentence.
4. The Absence of Gabe McKenzie--If his hands or his speed are inadequate for this new offense, then make Gabe a tackle or defensive end. He's too big a man, and too talented an athlete to be holding his helmet on the sideline. Perhaps there's an underlying issue I don't know about?
5. Eltoro Freeman--Not personally. I don't know him; I'm sure he's an outstanding person. And really I thought Freeman played fine. But with the hype surrounding him prior to ever donning the orange and blue...I was underwhelmed. In his defense, no one could live up to the hype heaped upon him. The way he was talked about however, made it seem as if the other 10 defenders could take a seat when Eltoro entered the game...he could do it all himself. He's fast as lightning, but sometimes that meant he was that much farther away from being in the proper place. He'll improve weekly and will be a vital asset to the defense as the year progresses.
All in all, it was a great game with the positives far outweighing the negatives. It's great to get that first conference win and continue to build confidence early in the season. Revenge game this week against the Mountaineers. Easy to get prepared for a game like this.