Friday, August 31, 2007

The Day After: Mississippi State

Sorry about the half-hearted live blogging. I watched the rest of the game, and then went to bed.

After a game like last night's, I think there is a great tendency to accentuate the negative. Most people want to nitpick a performance that ends up in a big win. I'll start with the positive.

The defense was dominant. With the exception of one first-half drive, the only movement MSU could get was when Henig threw up prayers that were answered. Just as often, those prayers resulted in interceptions.

Early Doucet looked like the All-SEC receiver we think he is. He didn't have a lot of big gains, but he made the catches (9 of them) and set up our first touchdown by drawing a pass interference penalty in the end zone.

Flynn looked shaky at first, but once MSU got down by 17, he looked a lot more comfortable. He didn't have a high yards per attempt, but he threw a couple touchdown passes and didn't turn the ball over. We took very few shots down the field in the game, and I hope that changes as the season goes on.

Ryan Perrilloux looked pretty good to me. He looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket than he has in the past. He scored his first rushing touchdown and his first passing touchdown of his career as well. He certainly looked like a legitimate QB at this point, and I get the impression Les Miles really likes the guy despite his well-reported flaws.

OK, now to accentuating the negative. The offensive line HAS to improve between this week and next. The announcers made much of Carnell Stewart's struggles, which were numerous, but experienced starters struggled as well. Ciron Black gave up a sack. Brett Helms allowed defensive line push. Herman Johnson got a big holding penalty. Stewart definitely needs to improve. Titus Brown is as good of a defensive end as he'll see, but he isn't really any better than Quentin Groves or Derrick Harvey, and Virginia Tech surely has quality players there. He's going to have to close the gap between himself and those players or we are going to have trouble.

We're also going to have to improve on our 4.0 yards per rush average. Hopefully, the problems with the offensive line can be corrected and the running game improve. Hester averaged almost 5 yards per carry, and Keiland Williams average was held down because he got a lot of his carries at the goal line, scoring two touchdowns. But Charles Scott is going to have to improve on his paltry 1.3 yards per carry average, and Trindon Holliday didn't exactly light it up on his runs, though they sure were exciting.

I think we need to not run the ball with Flynn quite so much. Particularly when we were struggling to throw the ball early, MSU had a lot of success keying on Flynn's running. He had some nice runs, but he also had a few no-gains, and his average was not particularly good. Plus, we really don't want him taking a lot of hits. i think we need fewer designed QB run plays, and Flynn needs to pick his spots better for scrambling.

Despite the 45-0 score, the offense clearly needs some work. Every score we had except one came after the defense created a turnover that gave us a short field. We aren't going to face a lot of QBs who take care of the ball as poorly as Henig, and we will need more sustained drives. Of course, that will require a solidified offensive line.

This game was a rout of course, but it was closer than the score. MSU kept it close until time expired in the first half, and once the game got out of reach, their offense seemed to give up. Their defense never gave up, but it seemed to wear down from all the pressure put on it, and it lacks depth.

This was a good tune up game, showing us the things we need to improve upon, but now we have to go and improve upon them.


Anonymous said...

Good analysis. Its always said that a team improves the most b/w games one and two. That theory will certainly be put to the test 'gainst VaTech. Our offensive line will have to play better.

Jeffrey Macloud said...

Nice analysis. I agree that the O-line is our biggest hurdle right now, although I also wonder if MSU doesn't have a better D than even their proponents suggest. They really did play well, considering Henig's terrible game.

Tomorrow's VT game against ECU will be a chance to see how good the Hokie defense really is. Although ECU has QB drama...suspended for DUI - ouch.

Richard Pittman said...

Thanks guys. If you watched VT play, it was pretty interesting. I thought that in the second half, if the offensive line gave Glennon time, he looked good and the passing offense looked sharp. Unfortunately for them, the offensive line didn't give Glennon time all that often.