Losing on a last second field goal is probably one of the more painful ways to lose. It is a slow, agonizing death that ends with a 150-pound guy running around the field like he just won a Super Bowl by himself. Tulsa’s loss to Toledo on Saturday night was all that and more. The Hurricane saw a 14-point halftime lead evaporate, as the Rockets scored on 6 of their 7 possessions in the second half. TU came into the game as an 8.5 point underdog, so there may be some positives to take away from Ohio, but mostly it is frustration. Despite the solid showing my mind is on glaring problems that we’ve seen every week with this team. Let’s get into my thoughts.
Logan Woodside is a great player, but 458 yards is the second most yards he has thrown for in a game. Cody Thompson is a great receiver, but 9 receptions for 178 yards is a career-high in yards and receptions for him. Toledo has consistently had a good offense, but 54 points is the most they’ve had since a 2015 game against Eastern Michigan. The point is, Toledo is good but we made things way too easy for them. The frustrations with the defense remind me a lot of 2015. The players in place are struggling, and the backups are doing even worse. I don’t know if this comes down to talent, experience, or coaching but it makes watching games extremely frustrating. Last year our defense wasn’t particularly good statistically, but I had confidence that we could get stops. Also, we made things difficult for teams. Last year SMU put up a lot of points on us, but we didn’t let Courtland Sutton have a career game. Ohio State put up 48, but they had to change their game plan in order to do so. So far this year it seems to me that teams are coming in and doing exactly what they want against us. I don’t get paid to figure out why this is happening (Not like I get paid to do anything lol), but it needs to be fixed.
2. Big Plays
The moto about Bill Young’s defense is “Bend but don’t break.” He wants the defense to keep things in front of them. This may allow the short routes to be open, but the idea is that it forces the offense to have long, multi-play drives to score. That strategy is not working right now. The defense is allowing short routes and runs to be open, but also giving up big ones. Toledo had 5+ 40 yard touchdowns on Saturday, and each of those drives were 5 plays or less. This is the exact opposite of what Bill Young wants to do.
3. Passing game still unknown
The offense had a great day on Saturday thanks to total domination by our offensive line. We ran the ball for 423 yards; Brewer, Brooks, and President all had over 100 yards on the ground. This is great and all, but I didn’t see a reason to believe we are anything but one-dimensional. Chad looked comfortable, he made good throws, but 12-20 for 125 yards just isn’t going to be good enough whenever we play more talented defensive teams. I mentioned last week that we’ll only be able to dominate the line and run the ball on every play for half of our games this year. The other games Chad is going to have to beat teams with his arm. I’m not saying he can’t do that as of right now, it is just still an unknown.
4. We have to limit Brewer’s carries
For the second straight week Brewer carried the ball for 38 times. He has now run the ball for 98 times this season, the most in college football! It isn’t even close, 2nd place has 82. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but I don’t think D-Brew is playing all 13 (12?) games this season if carries the ball 33 times a game, that would mean he would end the season with over 400 carries. Corey Taylor and Shamari have proven that they can be productive, so protect our star and lets not see more than 25 carries for Brewer against New Mexico.
5. This season will be determined by our improvement
Before this season started I predicted that we would start 2-3. Unfortunately, I have been right on the money so far. With that said, I also thought that we would finish the season 7-5, meaning we go 5-2 over our last 7 games. That is because team’s change from September to October t November to December. Our young guys will get more experience, and our older guys will develop more leadership. To be honest, the defense is much further behind at this point that I ever could’ve imagined, but I still have confidence that things can turn around.
My expectations haven’t changed, the fate of this team is still very much up in the air. If our defense can prove to be a top 80 unit, Chad starts slinging the ball, and we stay healthy then perhaps we take advantage of our schedule and have another 10 win season. However if what we’ve seen in the first 3 games is indicative of the entire season, we will be fighting to make a bowl game. I have confidence in Monty, and it is time for him to show what he can do.