Monday, November 5, 2007

Another Post About the Bama Game

Yesterday's post about the Bama game was, shall we say, perfunctory. I was exhausted from the work of the previous day and insufficient sleep. I think all of my observations about the game can be distilled into two points:
  1. We make entirely too many mistakes; and
  2. You only have so much right to complain about winning a game on the road in the SEC.
Let me address uberschuck's comments here:
Demetrius Byrd in man coverage = good things for LSU.
I think this is exactly right. Byrd, to me, has been the biggest positive surprise of the midseason. I really didn't expect a late-arriving JUCO guy to be able to contribute at receiver on this team. After his underwhelming first couple of games (he had 4 catches total in his first 4 games), I figured he'd top out at a little-used supporting role player. Hoo boy was that wrong? He's easily our best wide receiver whose first name is not an adjective.
Tyson Jackson gets a lot of penalties for late hits, but he gets more batted-down passes. He's got great vision and knack for that.
He's gotten two penalties for late hits that I can remember, but both were huge. One probably cost us the Kentucky game, and the second one almost cost us the Bama game. The Kentucky one was very clear. He hit the QB in the head twice on that play, and a call was certain. I didn't quite buy this one. Yeah, Wilson had thrown the ball. Yes, Jackson hit him hard. But I didn't think it was particularly late, or not late enough to draw a call. That penalty was pretty questionable and it ended up being HUGE.
Chad Jones made a few timely big plays. The coaches made a timely decision to put Doucet in to field punts after Jones bobbled one.
This kid looks incredible. He will be an absolute stud next year and will be the best safety in the country as a junior. That said, I actually kind of like him as a punt returner. I know he bobbled one, but he's been the only punt returner to show any kind of gumption back there. I don't know why we can't seem to get any kind of explosion in the return game. With all the athletes we have, why don't we have one who can occasionally bust a return? Even Holliday isn't exactly tearing it up when he gets the ball on kickoffs, and Keiland has done almost nothing on kick returns.
Lafell deserved to be demoted, but he responded well when we finally got him the ball on those underneath routes late in the game. That should help his confidence.
According to my brother, Lafell is the one who blew the tackle on the Arenas punt return. I haven't looked at it on replay yet, but he said we had it covered, with a wall of players there, but he ran right to Lafell who whiffed the tackle and then he was gone. That said, Lafell is going to be a heck of a player. He has size and speed and route-running ability. He just needs to get the drops out of his head. He reminds me some of Doucet/Bowe in 2005 when they dropped so many balls. I don't think he's got the talent of a Bowe or Doucet, but he's very solid, perhaps one notch below those guys. If he gets back into the game mentally, he'll have a future in the NFL.

One player I was very impressed with in this game was Darry Beckwith. He's been an unsung hero all year, but on Saturday I thought he was our 2nd best defensive player (I won't say who our best was, but he is VERY VERY big). I saw a post on Tigerdroppings calling him out and saying he was "exposed", and I wondered if this guy watched the same game I watched. I saw Beckwith all over the field making tackles. I also saw him playing despite a shoulder injury and a leg injury of some kind. He was much more visible than, say, Ali Highsmith, and if anyone was exposed or abused it was Danny McCray.

Speaking of McCray, I wouldn't be surprised to see young Mr. Jones take over his spot at nickel back. Several of Bama's big plays came when they caught McCray in single coverage against a receiver.

I don't really have much else to say about the action on the field. After the game, Nick Saban was very gracious on the field. He congratulated Matt Flynn and said, "I hope y'all do it," and he congratulated Les Miles. After this game, as far as I am concerned, the special animosity towards Saban and Bama is greatly diminished. I'm still looking forward to getting them in Tiger Stadium next year though. That will be fun.

Next we get La Tech. The Bulldogs are 4-5 on the season, with some close losses against decent teams (Hawaii, Boise State). They were blown out by Cal and by Ole Miss, and their best win was against New Mexico State. Statistically, nothing really stands out about them. They appear to be a somewhat balanced team offensively, with 1725 yards passing and 1589 yards rushing. They've played low-scoring games (losing 17-6 to Fresno State) and high scoring games (losing 45-44 to Hawaii and 45-31 to Boise). Sure, we're a better team, but this team doesn't look awful from where I'm sitting.

I want to see fundamental football. Avoid penalties and turnovers and put the game away early.


Robert said...

I like the point about McCray, he has been getting abused in man coverage for a while now. To be fair though he isn't a corner he's a safety, makes you wonder about Eugene and how bad he must be that we keep sticking McCray in.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Rob. Eugene was supposed to be all everything coming out of high school. I guess it takes some players longer to learn the intricacies of the cornerback position. He DOES seem to be a "team player"; always encouraging others.


AP said...

I think McRay is on the field more in nickel situations b/c he is a tremendous blitzer/run stopper. I do think that playing McRay and Jones, as good as they are, and not playing Hawkins or Eugene is going to come back and bite us in our ass next year when our CBs will be first time starters and their backups will be RS-Fr.

Richard Pittman said...

I think Pelini has purposely decided he would rather have a safety-type at nickel than a corner-type. Is that a good decision? I think against a team with a lot of good receivers, the answer is probably no, but I don't think it's a reflection of Eugene not being a good player. I think he's just decided that if he's subbing for a linebacker, he wants someone who will be effective in run support. It leads to some mismatches in the passing game, however.

Sarah said...

That "special" animosity toward Saban will never be diminished. He'll always be the coach that ruined Christmas. 'nuff said.

Robert said...

You're probably right about the run support aspect of it. It is really the only weakness that I consistently notice in our defense, so I guess I shouldn't complain. In all fairness McCray isn't actually that bad in coverage as long as the play happens in front of him; it seems to be when he has to turn and run with a receiver that he has problems.

uberschuck said...

I forgot about Beckwith, which is practically criminal. They guy was great despite the injuries, as you said. The defense is showing toughness and depth in dealing with injuries.