We’re 3-1, yay!
We have tons of issues, still, boo.
Charlie had a great gameplan to deal with his injuries and the team executed it well for ~2 quarters, yay!
He made another extremely bone-headed call that no one in the world but him would make, and it didnt work, again. Boo.
Tenuta seemed to adjust this game, and our Defense served up some good stops, yay!
The Defense also made critical mistakes at key points in the game, and literally BLEW coverage on a few plays for big gains, boo.
I was hoping that this week might provide a little clarity on ND. That we’d see the ‘real’ team come out and put a team away. Maybe that was too much to expect with 3 of our 4 top producers on offense out of the game, and for an away game at night. I don’t know, but it’s what I was hoping. After that game, I don’t know much more than I knew last week. I have no idea where this team stands, and if we should be 4-0 or if we should be 1-3. What’s nice is that we’re 3-1, what’s not nice is that I can’t get my finger on the pulse of this team.
Flashes of brilliance in plan, execution and fundamentals. Horrible breakdowns minutes later. It makes for exciting games, but as Ethan Johnson said “HOLY SHIT!” We just want to win a game w/o all the drama.
The Offensive Scheme
I liked Weis’ game plan. I know some wonder why we had to go to such a scheme with a Top-level QB as our backup, but here’s why I think it was the right move: Not only has Dayne never started a game in college, but it was an away game. At night. With the starting RB and our #1 WR out. If it was a home game, and Floyd and Allen were healthy, I’m guessing you would’ve seen Dayne in the traditional pro-set O for the most part, with the Wildcat mixed in more than average to change things up a bit. But in these circumstances, I think Weis made the right call to give them the best chance of success.
So then, WTF on Going for it on 4th and 10?
And that’s where the going for it on 4th and 10 makes no sense to me. Weis clearly realized that he couldn’t depend on Dayne to run the traditional O throughout the game. Then how in the world did he conclude that we could pick up a 4th and 10 in that same game with Dayne throwing? It was completely counter-intuitive. It’s literally like Weis thinks to himself “hmmmm, everyone else in the world would do X 99% of the time. We GOTTA do Y.” It’s maddening. That call was almost as bad as going for it on 4th and 8 within FG range against Navy two years back. The only reason it’s not as bad? We won.
The Run Game
How about that for a running game? With our #1 RB on the sideline, this team comes out and eats up yardage and clock for 2 quarters. ANYONE that doesn’t give the OL and the RBs a ton of credit is on crack. And along with the players, Verducci and Alford deserve credit. Those were 2 great hires – we’ve seen measured improvement in the run game this year, and it’s been critical.
Ugh. While I think we saw improvement (our opponent didnt put up 30+ points, so that’s good), there were still some huge, critical errors on the defense. I think Tenuta’s more selective blitzing worked. It actually made it more difficult for our opponents to pick it up, because it came more sporadically, and the additional help on coverage helped us make some big stops as well. But, we still have the same issues: mental errors, missed tackles/fundamentals, and a huge vulnerability to 3-5 yard pass routes. Some of this has to do with our having a pretty young front 7, but we’re 4 games in now, and we need to continue to see significant improvement week to week if we want to be a decent defense by year end. I think the new plan should be maintained, I think they gotta keep working on fundamentals and tackling, and we somehow need to eliminate huge moments of blinding confusion that result in easy 30 yard gains. Those are killers.
On the kicking side, I LOVED the improvement I saw in kickoffs. We got a lot more distance with decent hang time, and the results were promising. What I don’t quite get is why our coaches still have no confidence in the FG game outside of a 40-yarder. I’ve seen Tausch’s leg, and he seems to be good from 50 on in. They must be seeing something in practice they don’t like, but a good FG game is a weapon we need in close contests, and right now we just don’t go to it.
On the punting side, we’re a complete mess. Maust has regressed significantly from last year. I’m not sure what Turk is doing in practice to keep Maust on the field, but it must be pretty terrible, because Maust is stinking it up. He hit one great one last night that helped his distance average, but he’s not getting a good mix of distance and hang time, and therefore our coverage has been spotty at best as well. We were lucky to not have one taken to the house last night. This should be a very basic and fixable issue, but I havent seen any changes thus far.
In the End
I don’t know what to think. We won a tough game, down to the wire – this team has heart. But, it was against a mediocre Purdue team. But, we were hobbled by serious injuries to our top offensive players. But, the defense still looked suspect. But, we won. I don’t know what to think. But I’m very happy that I don’t know what to think after a W, rather than a loss. I know I think that.