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The Arkansas State offensive gameplan seemed very similar to the one we intended to execute against ECU. However, the coaches weren't forced to scrap the pass in favor of the run. We came out throwing Saturday, 33 times in all, 9 of 12 times to start a series. Logan had a good game. He completed 63% of his passes, only 8-yards shy of 300 with a couple of scores and picks. He made some great throws and bad decisions, but at the end of the day it was a big step forward.
I'm learning it's a lot easier to be critical of what we're trying to do on offense while it's happening. I see the big picture clearer after I watch the game a second time. I liked how O'Cain mixed in some screens, kept an almost 50-50 balance of run pass (33-40) and controlled the clock for more than 36 minutes. I thought the running game lacked an inside presence though. We still need to be able to run against a crowded box, because we won't be able to run to the sideline everytime against faster defenses like Clemson and Miami. I still believe Thomas is going to be the guy doing the majority of the dirty work between the tackles, and the option game is the best vehicle for that. There was less of that against Arkansas State than ECU, perhaps because the game was in hand for the majority of the sixty minutes.
Three games into the season and a young defense looks like a group of wily veterans. After the slow start last year, I was worried it would take this unit some time to mature. They've been pretty spectacular out of the gate. Defensively the game reminded me of the Orange Bowl against Cincinatti. We made a mistake, got behind, then held our ground for the rest of the afternoon. We didn't put on a clinic like against ECU, but considering Arkansas State has better skill players a shutout for 48 minutes is damn impressive.
Here are some specifics that caught my attention while rewatching the game.
Fuller got juked out of his jock on Arkansas State's early 51-yard completion that setup their only score. He bit hard on the pump-and-go route. I sometimes have to remind myself he's only a sophomore.
Arkansas State's touchdown run was similiar to the play ECU scored on. Instead of freezing the defense with counter action they ran the zone read.
Right! ... Left!
Everyone except G-W pursued the running back and had their feet stuck in the mud when back carried the ball back the other way. G-W stayed home, but got smothered by Arkansas State's tight end.
G-W, you're facing the wrong way.
I have to believe J.R. Collins was supposed to read the play and not chase down the line right off the ball.
The play calls on our first possession with goal to go were a head scratcher. Logan Thomas did not get a single carry inside the seven-yard-line! David Wilson right, left and middle. I actually thought there was a nice little surge up front on those plays. Wilson needs to find the crease better and bang it through (he did as much on his touchdown run in the second quarter). I saw the 4th down play action pass to the flats from a mile away. However, it was there for the taking, Scales has to haul in that ball.
The safety was a thing of beauty. J.R. Collins applied the pressure from the backside (TWSS) and Fuller flew into the backfield when he saw the protection breaking down. The defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and there was no place for Aplin to go.
Foster is sending Fuller on a lot of blitzes.
The option is evolving. The pass fake here is off a little zone / zone read action.
This single pass justifies the entire existence of the LT3 Hype-O-Meter. Logan threw a strike on the run to Dunn who came across from the backside of the field on a cross. That's a ball that needed to be caught and Dunn knew it. It was a big boy throw, Logan's best of the day, and it'll continue to be a fun ride (for me at least) watching him develop the consistency to do it all the time. Coale's 52-yard grab was came off the same play fake in the backfield.
Linemen are up on the line, weight forward, not giving away the pass.
Here's the play action.
Showing off the arm strength.
Danny Coale's line: 7 catches for 128 yards a touchdown and a 9 yard rush. Did everyone see his best play?
Because when Danny Coale isn't open he's chopping down defensive backs.
Again yesterday we saw Jayron matchup exclusively with a team's best receiver, Josh Jarboe. Jarboe was a non-factor catching just 4 balls and Hosley bingoed two passes.
Cris Hill had another solid outing working in coverage when we were in the Nickel package.
Michael Via was back on the field. That's good news for a suddenly shallow offensive line looking for depth.
The first unit d-line got penetration, but didn't lose control of their gaps. They pressured Aplin, but didn't overextend. They moved side-to-side across the line of scrimmage very well.
Demler struggled again. I'm sure the Frankinator is mulling over playing Branthover against Marshall to see what he can do.
Chris Drager still hasn't figured into the passing game. He's yet to catch a ball this season.
I'd like to see us line up in more two-back formations with Wilson and Oglesby out of the shotgun to have the option of Josh and Logan working the run inside and Wilson going outside.
The worst thing about Saturday were the injuries. Andrew Lanier suffered a sprained left MCL, but according to HokieSports he'll be able to play at Marshall with some rest. The news isn't as good for Dyrell Roberts who broke his left arm on the opening kickoff. He's having surgery today and is most likely out for the rest of the year, but is eligible for a redshirt. I feel horrible for the STRAIGHTBURNER, who worked his ass off to get back on the field after that nasty compartment syndrome.
Tim Gunn does not approve of these.
And then there's this...
What are your thoughts on the game?