Sorry for being late on getting this out!
In my game preview I predicted TU would struggle in the first quarter, but open it up in the second half and cruise to a 24 point victory. It turned out that I was right in that aspect, but I also said “I don’t see ULL scoring more than 20 meaningful points.”
Let’s get to my thoughts.
1) The Defense Needs Improvement at Every Unit.
Allowing 59 points to OSU was disappointing, but somewhat expected. Allowing 42 points to Lafayette was atrocious. I know that the Cajuns have a new offensive coordinator this year, but the 2016 team had an AWFUL offense. We made Josh Davis look like an all-American, and Ryheem Malone had a career high in receptions and yards. Call me cynical, but I don’t think that was a product of those guys playing spectacular games. Tulsa now has the second worst scoring defense in the country (behind only Louisiana-Lafayette haha).
There are many things that frustrated me about the defense on Saturday, poor tackling, slow recognition and pursuit, lack of containment, blown coverages, etc. Instead of making those all separate points I put them all in one because I think that every unit needs major improvement. Lets go through them separately.
D-Line – The pass rush was good again on Saturday, but the lack of contain on the QB was frustrating. That may be a product of bad scouting and game planning, but something wasn’t working right. Additionally I think the defense can do a better job plugging the run. The Cajuns ran for nearly 300 yards on Saturday.
Linebackers – This position unit probably had the most questions coming into the year, and most of those still remain. This was the second straight game when teams were able to run the ball right up the middle and reach the secondary before people were even able to touch him. Also, the crossing routes were open nearly all game. I’m not extremely knowledgeable about football, but usually the linebackers need to help defend those type of routes.
Corners – The corner position has been a mystery to me this year. I have seen Kerwin Thomas, Reggie Robinson, Keidrien Wadley, and Allie Green IV all play out there. Jordan Davis’ 300 passing yards was a career high for the junior, and the coverage just simply needs to be better. Again covering the pass is the responsibility of everyone, but the DBs take the brunt of it.
Safeties – Mainly tackling was the issue on Saturday. ULL looked like they were moving the ball on air at points on Saturday. J-Mitch and Manny are good players, but we need better performances.
2) Offensive Line Dominant
Wow, we were blowing Lafayette off the ball on Saturday. Brewer will get all the hype because of his 262 yards (I’ll get to him), but for me the story is the offensive line. ULL’s strength last year was stopping the run, and they didn’t have a shot on Saturday. The Cajuns defensive line is nowhere near as talented as other team’s we’ll see this year, but it is nice to know that we can dominant inferior competition.
3) Running Backs Impress
Brewer had a remarkable game on Saturday, 262 yards on 38(!) carries, a 6.9 yard average. If he keeps that up he’ll have a case for every major award running backs can get. With that said, he’ll need some help if he is going to play all season. No guy can carry the ball 35 times through a college football season and not slow down. That is why it was so encouraging to see the contributions of Corey Taylor III and Shamari Brooks. Brooks averaged 6.6 yards per carry while Corey Taylor bruised along for 4.9. All three of those guys can make something happen with the ball in their hands, and are more than capable of a lead-back role at numerous other schools.
4) Young Guys Playing Meaningful Time
I’ve already mentioned two true freshman (Allie Green IV and Shamari Brooks) that played on Saturday. Additionally we saw several second-year players: Cooper Edmiston, Robert Revels (before injury), and Manny Bunch all played on defense. Offensively we got contributions from Corey Taylor, and Josh Stewart. I know I am probably missing some guys, but the ones I named really impressed me.
5) The Offense Can Succeed With Chad
I know that everyone wants to talk about the QB competition, but after Saturday’s game I am declaring it over (for now). Sure, there were things that frustrated about Chad during the game such as the awful fumble and missing an open touchdown, but there were also many other things that he did really well. He stayed in the pocket longer, didn’t lock-in on Hobbs, and oh yeah, HIS TEAM PUT UP 66 POINTS. There is no way you can make a logical case for another QB when the current QB led seven(!) 70+ yard TOUCHDOWN drives. That is immense success, and after two games I think it clear that the offense can do well with Chad at QB. I know that we think that Chad can’t pass the ball particularly well, but his 243 passing yards on Saturday was more than Dane put up in 5 games last year.
The one question I do have though is Montgomery’s confidence in Chad passing the ball. It seemed at times we were too reliant on running the ball. It was going well for us so its hard to argue, but I have to wonder against a team that can stuff the run if we have the ability to throw it every play.
Next week we’ll get some more answers, as Toledo is a very good team.