Another painful day for Huskyville as the Trojans used special teams and defense to thoroughly dismantle, deflate and embarrass our football team. I'm not sure that this loss was as painful as any games against the likes of Oregon, Stanford, Nebraska and Arizona over the last two years, but it does continue an alarming trend of this team simply getting blown out when things start to not go well. I'm not going to make any sweeping judgments, but the ability of our boys to stay in a game and compete is still an open question, despite our youth (a plague that, by the way, affects many of the teams that have blown us out including Oregon and USC).
Some other thoughts while we wait for JB's grades.
- The O-Line is bad. I'm not talking about a young team that is showing signs of improving. I'm talking about flat out stink level. Our best blocker, Senio Kelemete, spent more time on his ass than on his feet and seemed completely flummoxed by the superior ends that he was facing in Nick Perry and Wes Horton. The right side is a complete disaster and the inability of Drew Schaefer to make calls at the line is a problem that needs to get righted. This unit has been run blocking much better that pass blocking throughout the year. The problem is that good D's are going to shut down the run once in a while - what do we do then?
- O-Line and injured knees aside, Keith Price is clearly regressing. He has happy feet and is doing the same kind of pee-pee dance that we saw so many times out of Jake Locker. He's clearly lost faith in his O-Line, he hasn't broken out of his bad habit of locking in on receivers, and he isn't looking for his wideouts. He also is not recognizing where pressure is coming from nor does he possess the arm strength to make the throws that punish blitzing Ds. The league has figured him out and I'm not sure he has a counter move up his sleeve.
- The D is playing well enough for us to win. They've come a long way. We are getting much better play out of the interior D-line and the corners as of late. In addition, the DE's showed up yesterday (at least a little) and I'd even go so far as to say that our OLBs have gone from a major weakness to an emerging strength. Princeton Fuiamono was great yesterday and Jamal Kearse also had a few nice moments. Take out the Kickoff TD, and the fake punt, and the D really only gave up 24 points and held Matt Barkley to less that 200 yards passing. There were three long runs making up ~140 yards surrendered, two of which simply burned big blitzes. Given our need to create pressure, these plays are something we have to live with.
- Penalties. I read somewhere that one third of our offensive plays ran in the first half were penalized. That's absurd and, while some of it is on the continued horrible reffing, much is on the QB and C not having control of the line of scrimmage.
- For those of you that want to defend Keith's play due to the horrible O-Line and the frequency of blitzing, I'd like to give you the case of Connor Halliday. If you watched WSU upset ASU last night, then you know that Connor went off despite rabid blitzing that constantly broke down the pocket. Connor threw for almost 500 yards despite not entering the game until the second quarter. He was outstanding. He did a nice job (for a RS Frosh) of both seeing where the pressure was coming from and then, to his benefit, utilizing his above average arm strength to sling the ball downfield where the open spots were. He also resisted the urge to go right to his check downs. Keith will never be able to go deep like Connor can if he can't wind up. Because of this, a competent O-Line is a requirement if we want production out of Keith. Otherwise, the Stanford, Oregon, Arizona and USC strategies of constant and sell-out blitzing will endure and be effective.
- The zebras. Don't worry, refs. Hell has a special hotel for the especially damned.
- I didn't think he was going to be able to do it a few weeks ago and now it is clear that Chris Polk will most likely not capture Napolean Kaufman's career rushing record this year. He still has roughly 500 yards to go with three games to play. Not impossible, but not looking great given the status of the O-Line and the fact that we are probably going to be breaking in one if not two new starters next week.
- Special shout out to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He was great yesterday.
- Special gaffe out to Kevin Smith and the rest of the special teams units. Time to pull your heads out of your collective arses. Please.
- By the way, Oregon dominated Stanford last night in a game that looked exactly like our game against Oregon. Stanford stepped up the defense in the first quarter and then broke down under the pressure of another stellar LaMichael James effort. Oregon built up a double digit lead in the second quarter and basically never let it go. Their pass rush on Luck was relentless and featured some really interesting zone blitzes that must have confused the hell out Andrew Luck and his o-line. Oregon is the class of the Pac 12 and it is not even close. USC and Stanford get clear footing on that second tier with the rest of us milling around in the middle. Oregon gets USC next week in what is the last interesting game of the PAC season. Stanford plays the Big Game vs Cal which I'm officially calling out as an upset alert.
- Kudos to TCU for reminding us that Boise St is great, but overrated. Also, note for pollsters, why is Texas still ranked in any way shape or form?
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