Saturday, August 30, 2008

Opener Observations

Let's be honest if you are an Orange fan, there wasn't too much to be optimistic about after the opener at Northwestern. It wasn't exactly a blowout. Syracuse actually led for a large portion of the first half, and led early on in the second half, but Northwestern definitely had control of the game for most of it.

So here was a lot of what I saw....

....The running backs look solid. I was more impressed with Delone Carter and Curtis Brinkley than I was with Doug Hogue. Still I thought Hogue was more impressive this year than he was last. I still think he's a linebacker playing running back, but he has some potential.

....Andrew Robinson was not very good. I heard early in camp that he wasn't throwing the ball very well. He looked like it today. There are several reasons that the Orange doesn't throw the ball down the field. Lack of a true deep threat, and the fact that the line might not provide the time, but the biggest reason might be that Robinson can't make those throws. He looks awful trying to do it. I expected a lot more from him.

....The wide receivers were serviceable. But when they're running bubble screens and five-yard slants, they aren't going to look dynamic. Each of the starters had a drop or two. Bruce Williams had a great block on the Brinkley touchdown run. It was good to see eight different receivers, but we need to do more after the catch. Davis led the group with four catches, and I still contend that he will be the Orange's best receiver. But we'll see how that develops. Still only 103 yards on 14 completions and 28 attempts. Those averages are not nearly enough. And that is why you end up with only 11 first downs.

....I think there was a lot of optimism that the offense would be much improved. Well I saw no signs of the end results being any different. Essentially the offense scored 10 points (7 that were directly set up by the defense) and gave up 9. Also, keep in mind that this Northwestern defense wasn't viewed as the second coming of the Steel Curtain coming in.

....The debut of Mitch Browning debut as offensive coordinator didn't do much for me. We were definitely able to run the ball more effectively. But without the long run for the three top runners we carried the ball 27 times for 51 yards or approximately 2 yards per carry. That includes the sacks and there were only two, but even without them its not more than 2.5 yards per tote. We need to get better here. If you think that Northwestern was concerned about our offense, I don't believe it. They quickly adjusted to press the receivers up front and Fitzgerald was so conservative from just inside midfield that it was obvious he never expected us to be able to score.

....Defensively, I thought the tackling was poor. Very poor in fact. I think the outside coverage was decent, but I think once Northwestern realized that we'd put a linebacker on whomever they put in the slot, they didn't really worry about the outside. Bacher didn't throw the ball very well, in my opinion. Still they got 215 yards through the air.

....Up front, we weren't in the backfield very much. I recall two good tackles in the backfield from Art Jones. The strip from Jared Kimmel and Anthony Perkins making a nice stop on one play. Officially, Giruzzi got a sack and they gave McKinnon 1.5 TFL's splitting the one with Kimmel. Vincenzo was active and had nine tackles and the fumble recovery.

....I think teams will once again be able to run the ball against us. And probably run it very effectively. Northwestern hung 269 yards on the board. That is way too many. It allowed them to control things and had Bacher been effective early, it might have been over early.

...The linebackers made a lot of tackles, but Mike Mele was the guy that Northwestern attacked in the pass coverage. We never adjusted. Shame on the coaches for continuing to allow Mele to get beaten all over the field. He looked awful, but some of the blame must goto the coaching staff for not finding a way to somehow protect him.

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