Well, do I get to ring a bell for being right in my prediction? While most of the staff here thought we might keep it close or maybe even come out with a hard-fought victory, I told you Missouri would “shake, rattle and roll us” and despite losing to Wyoming they were a good team. Even I didn’t forsee the team regressing as it went on the road for the first time this season, and regress is absolutely the right word. We couldn’t sustain any sort of offensive momentum, the defense was pushed around and we looked like we just couldn’t even try.
I Think I Am Proud Of The Defense
Wait, Jake, you just said the defense was pushed around and the team regressed. Yes, I did but I’m still proud of the defense. The defense was on the field for 51 plays in the first half and only 35 in the second half. The defense, despite being on the field for basically the entire first half stayed tough. Darius and Dante Stills generated pressure throughout the game. Hakeem Bailey at times batted down passes and played good defense. For a squad that got no help from its counterparts, they kept the game from being a worse embarrassment. They gave up 31 in the first half but pitched a shutout in the second. The only points in the second half came from a pick-six thrown by Jack Allison.
I Think Jack Allison Is Done
If you listened or read what Head Coach Neal Brown said after the game, he said Allison threw an out-cut against cover two. Reading between the lines that comes across like it isn’t the first time Allison has made such a rookie mistake. A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Allison doesn’t seem to have developed in his time with the program. Neal Brown was given the job, at least, in part because he came in with a step-by-step way to improve Allison. That hasn’t happened.
It seems that Allison is in the doghouse with the coaching staff. Austin Kendall has not been effective enough to keep a solid hold on the job, but such a quick hook and immediate re-insertion of Kendall was likely the last straw for him.
I Think I’m Confused By The Offensive Scheme
I re-watched the game Sunday and specifically watched a few things: did we run when we had numbers, how exactly did the line play and what were we doing on offense. I noticed that plenty of times we ran against 8-man boxes, threw against 6-man boxes and generally did not make sound decisions.
The first interception by Kendall was nothing more than a bad throw. Tevin Bush ran a curl route, sat down in front of the coverage and Kendall threw it to his outside shoulder. Bush tipped it and it was intercepted. Kendall’s second interception was a bit better but Kendall tried to fit a pass between 3 or 4 Missouri defenders when he appears to have a numbers advantage on the right side.
I watched as we ran flood route schemes when Kendall rolled out but the tight end who dragged across the line didn’t get deep enough and was within 1 yard of the flaring running back. We ran a mirrored vertical scheme with crossing digs in the middle and the players nearly hit each other.
Sam James and Tevin Bush both showed explosiveness in the passing game and they disappeared for a large portion of the game. Where were the slants? Where were the in-cuts? Where were the easy throws for Kendall? We threw deep a lot when we didn’t need to.
I just don’t get what the offensive scheme “is”. We have too many players in the same area and don’t seem to attack all the levels or if we do, we don’t have a way to do it both against man and zone. It’s just a weird setup right now.
I Think The Offensive Line is Offensive
The O-Line consists of 4 redshirt juniors and one redshirt senior. Four of those players have significant playing experience. There is absolutely no reason that the offensive line is incapable of generating even a modicum of a “push”. Everything I’ve said about the offensive scheme is semi swept aside when you can’t judge a team or its offense because the offensive line can’t block. The bigger question is why? Why can’t the team block? Why can’t the lineman open up holes for two senior running backs? Why can’t the offensive line trade off stunting defensive linemen? Why are they this bad? It is a question that needs to get answered and needs to get answered this season.
I Think Trusting The Climb Is Hard....But Necessary
Site manager Mike Miller wrote an amazing piece on “The Climb” that if you haven’t read, you need to, and the take away from it is that trusting the climb is hard but necessary. Right now, Neal Brown has struggled against a really good FCS team and now taken a severe beating by a really good SEC team. Not every team is going to be as big, long and fast as Missouri, but not every team is going to be undermanned like JMU was.
We all kinda knew, deep down in our hearts, that this year was going to be troublesome. We all knew that the team wasn’t going to be the same as it had been the past 4 or 5 years. Neal Brown’s first season at Troy, he went 4-8 and lost games: 49-21, 45-17, and 45-10. He also won games: 44-16, 52-7, 51-14, and 41-17 (his only four wins that season). His team showed some clues that they could be really good. You don’t win 10 games in three straight seasons without being a really good coach, so we all believe that we’re in good hands with Neal but we need to see it. We need to see some proof that our faith in him is worth it. For now, keep on steady because it’s going to be a long, hard season but if Neal is as good as we think, it will be worth it.