Sunday, September 10, 2006

Early Returns on NSU

Well, I'm finding it hard to figure out why I am so frustrated with a 47-10 win. Well, maybe it's not so hard to figure out, but you'd think a Baylor fan would be thankful for a blowout like this since it hasn't happened in so long.

It'd be healthier for me to just deal with the positives, but let's look at the things that are really getting to me (and I think those that have been reading for a while will know what #1 is going to be):

1. Shawn Bell
OK, the receivers had a lot of drops, and I don't blame the interception on him (and I didn't blame him last week either). And I do know that he completed more than 60% of his passes (60.9%). But I just find it so hard to find a 288-yard performance against a D1-AA school something to cheer about. And remember, ESPECIALLY in this offense, it all starts with the quarterback, so I don't want to hear about how it's not his fault. He'll get the credit for the wins he's responsible for (he's been living on the 2004 A&M game for 2 years now), but he needs to take some of the heat for the games we don't win because of his incredible averageness. Honestly, I like Bell in this offense, and I DO think things are going to get better as the year goes on, but right now this is definitely an area of frustration. So readers, if you think I'm being too harsh on Bell, you're probably right, but I'll be his best friend (hopefully) later in the year when the offense is rolling.

And if you want to know exactly where my frustration stems from, it's the period of time from 7:34 in the 2nd quarter to 2:35 in the 2nd quarter, when Bell went 0/5 with a sack. Bell was lucky on the first drive that he got ridiculously good field position and Whitaker broke off a 20-yard run to put them in FG range. On the second drive, he wasn't so lucky and we had to punt it. I'm glad we got points on the first drive, but against a AA school, that should be a touchdown.

2. Defensive line
I think you could also title this section "Defensive concentration"... Let me be clear, I think we have a pretty salty defense, and I really like having a defense that believes they can shut anyone down, but for some reason this defense of ours just tries to put themselves in the worst possible situations. I don't know if they just have a flair for the dramatic, or if they believe that they are always going to come up with the big turnover or what, but this is getting out of hand! We had 7 drives that went 5 plays or longer, and 5 drives that went for more than 25 yards, three that went for more than 40 yards. Worst of all was the TEN play drive for EIGHTY yards and a TOUCHDOWN! COME ON!! This included 6 rushes for 26 yards (4.3ypc) and 3/4 passing for 50 yards and a touchdown. That's ridiculous.

3. Penalties.
10 penalties for 130 yards. NSU was complaining about their penalties (20 for 139 yards), but we got nearly the same yardage in half the penalties. TOO many mental mistakes on the line. We have got to get that stuff figured out by next week.

4. Running Game
I don't think the running backs are bad. I think Whitaker and Mosley are very talented. But when one of them is out, you don't just cut out their carries. This isn't on the players, it's on the coaches. If the running game isn't doing what you want it to, figure out how to make it effective, you don't just stop running the ball. Here's an idea, go deep a few times and get the defense to stop loading up the box. Whitaker touched the ball six times tonight. Six. 4 rushes, 2 passes. Total yardage = 37 yards. So, he's averaging 6 yards per touch, but big deal if he's only touching the ball 6 times a game. Give him at least 10 carries and at least 6 pass opportunities a game, please! If you want someone to respect a threat, you have to make them respect it.

There are positives, too. They don't make me as excited, because we got them against a D1-AA team, but they are positive nevertheless.

1. CJ Wilson
CJ is my favorite player. If he wasn't among the favorites for the Thorpe award before, he should be getting there soon. I know it was a D1-AA team, but the guy has 3 INTs on the season already, with one returned for a TD. He's a great defensive back who like to joke around, but seems genuinely humble when really talked to. I don't know why people throw towards him still, but I don't think it will take long before they stop doing so.

2. Trent Shelton
The guy might not want to be a star receiver, but he's there. 9 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. You kidding me? THAT's what you're supposed to do against D1-AA opponents. That is a great performance.

3. Shawn Bell
"Huh?" you ask. Yes, Bell was a positive and a negative tonight. That, sadly, equals out to a 0, which I guess is the minimum we ask of our quarterbacks after living with Greg Cicero, Aaron Karas, etc, etc. Bell did what I have said I want him to do. Average over 7 yards per attempt (7.02ypa), and over 10 yards per completion (11.5ypc). He threw 4 TDs against 1 INT, and the interception was off another tipped ball (this one by a Baylor receiver, not a DL).

4. Joe Pawelek and Antonio Jones
The kids came to play. They got the start at linebacker, and really put on a performance. 9 tackles, .5 TFL and a QB hurry for JoePa, and Jones wasn't bad either (6 tackles, .5 TFL). I need to see the two of them against WSU and Army, but I really like these young linebackers.

5. Trey Payne and Thomas White
I called Trey out yesterday saying he needed to catch the ball, and I think he heard me (I'm kidding). Payne and White both only grabbed 3 passes each, but both made them count with 2 TDs a piece. Payne only got 30 yards, but they were very valuable yards coming in the redzone. White got one of his scores from farther out (27 yards), but also got a redzone score. Great job, guys!

There are more positives, Jake LaMar and Blake Szymanski chief among them. Jake grabbed an interception and Blake went 2/3 for 42 yards and a TD pass. Jordan Lake forced a fumble and recovered it.

Here are some other things I wonder about:

Terrance Parks - Where did he go?

David Gettis - Where is the man?

Mikhail Baker - Are you with Terrance?

Braelon Davis - When did James Todd pass you up?

Coach Bradley - Where are the adjustments at half time?

Coach Morriss - Is the OL coach going to be fired if the lineman can't keep from fidgeting pre-snap?

That's all I got tonight. All in all, a good win. Let's get ready for Washington State!

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