This game was like eating a lukewarm bowl of oatmeal while drinking a lukewarm beer and taking a lukewarm shower after spending all day in the sun watching your football team struggle with a team that they should have beaten by at least 30 points.
Ok so I suck at metaphors. This game raised some red flags. After last year I firmly believe that you're never as good as you think you are, nor are you as bad as some say you are, so its important to contextualize this game. Maybe this was our Jacksonville State...only we won by more. I'm going to give the team the benefit of the doubt, but this game should make you raise your eyebrows a bit.
We have to address the offensive line. Our tackles are fairly consistent--Gennessy moreso than Ifedi this game, but the interior line is still struggling. We still haven't found that combo of folks, and we still haven't found a long term solution at left guard. Is it Stuckey? Is it Sutherland? Or should we have given Eluemunor more of a look? I don't know, but the OL will be tested next week. We seemed to do better with Caden Smith in the backfield...and a combo of Caden Smith, Koda Martin and Jordan Davis can help provide a bit more protection/consistency from the line. But if you're looking for one area that's going to hold this team back right now--it's the OL. We have to be able to line up and get a 3rd and short consistently.
Tra Carson ended the day with 22 rushes for 137 yards, which is great. With the OL struggling a bit the quick burst guys are going to be better fits because they can hit the hole quicker. I wonder what Jay Bradford would have done had he not been injured this year. I liked the way our two back sets looked against Arizona State, so hopefully James White is back and healthy next week.
Kyle played well in the first half then let down in the second. I'm not going to fault him though because when he was on, he was most certainly on. We have to take care of the ball better...6 turnovers over three games is absolutely unacceptable. We have to be better than that. That will not fly against better competition.
Last but not least, I wonder sometimes whether Spav gets to a confident place in a game and then decides to get a little less conservative and put stuff on film that he wouldn't otherwise do in a conference game. There was a moment where we got 9 yards on a first down and then got nothing after that. Too often we had to settle for field goals instead of touch downs. And I don't know it was a lack of effort...it was kind of all play calling.
Felt like the defense sleepwalked through this one a bit. Aubrey said it best:
With some of these plays it’s almost like A&M keeps expecting Nevada to quit but they won’t.— Aubrey Bloom (@aubreyrbloom) September 19, 2015
We played much more confident and loose than we should have. We were 4-5 touchdown favorites in this game and our first team defense was playing (and struggling) late in to the fourth. I know everyone has a game like this but that's pretty concerning with the stretch of games we have coming up.
Our all world defensive ends had themselves a day and combined for more than a few sacks (cant find the specific number) but our interior line struggled against the run--especially against the cut back. We'd have the guy dead to rights in the back field, and he'd make one cut and gain an additional 7-8 yards. But holy crap Daylon Mack
Linebackers played decently well, but you could very much tell that Hilliard was trying to work his way back into game shape. Our run fits were good at times and bad at others....our tackling was good at times and bad at others. We didnt create any turnovers [EDIT: Totally forgot that Donatrill Footballson had a fantastic physical INT to start the second half]. Just a totally inconsistent blah sort of day.
Last thing, and I'll gladly stand on an island here. The two PIs Devante had were crap calls. He gives up a lot in size so the second he gets physical the refs are going to call stuff on him. A bigger DB wouldn't have had those go against him. But on the other hand while they were crap calls, we have to be prepared for the bigger WRs to man up on Devante in an effort to get those calls. We've got to get that figured out.
I suppose it's a good thing to be hypercritical on a day that you win by more than two TDs. And after our 1s playing darn near close to perfect games last week and the week before, I'm ok with an off game here and there. As Coach Sumlin likes to say we put some stuff on film today. Some of it wasn't so great, and we have to stuff to work from as we get ready for conference play. Time to put this one behind us and ready ourselves for the Razorbacks.