North Texas Review
Hey there folks – I hope you had a tremendous weekend! Growing up, my father taught me that a perfect day of college football is a Bama win and an Auburn loss. Well, as a PelhamHigh School graduate and fellow classmate of Dabo Swinney, my “perfect day” of football consists of a Bama win, a Clemson win and an Auburn loss. Can I just say that I had a PERFECT day of college football this past Saturday????? About 20 of us were in Clemson cheering on the right Tigers in their victory over Auburn and it absolutely couldn’t have been a more beautiful day. Sing it with me: “Ted Roof, Ted Roof, Ted Roof is on FIRE! We don’t need no water, let that motherfu..er burn! *U-BURN mother….er!” Ah, good times.
As a result of streaking around the campus and mooning anything with blue and orange (note to all – Clemson’s purple is often mistaken for blue…OOPS! Sorry for the “friendly fire” Clemson fans!), I was unable to watch the Bama game live. Instead, I had to follow it via the wonders of our unlimited data plan from Sprint (and we aren’t paying the extra $10 per month for the unlimited data – sticking it to the man, that’s how we roll). After looking at the final stats from the game, you’d swear they looked like something out of NCAA12 by EA Sports, so I settled in to watch the epic beat down of North Texas. I mean, c’mon, TWO 150 yard rushers for the first time in school history? An average of more than 10 yards per rushing play? And our defense pitching a shutout? I pressed play and hollered “LET THE BEATINGS BEGIN!” Well, a funny thing happened as I tried not to spit up my popcorn. It simply didn’t look like the epic beat down that I thought it would be. In fact, there were several WTF moments that made me rather uneasy heading into this weekend’s battle with the piggies and if we want those little piggies to cry “wee wee wee” all the way home, we’ll have to get better OL play.
But, Saturday was a perfect day of college football and as we finish the first quarter turn, Alabama is right where we thought they would be. Bama is 3-0 and sports a defense that is second to none in the country. Trent Richardson is the bad bad man we all thought he would be and he’s backed up by another guy who is just as big of a stud. In fact, Lacy’s success has probably been the brightest spot regarding the offense and might alleviate some fears about TR getting hurt. Again, TR is a VERY physical being who would just as soon hospitalize you as run around you so Lacy’s emergence cannot be underestimated. Meanwhile, AJ McCarron has been a pleasant surprise to these eyes. I wasn’t sure if he’d be patient enough to stay away from the bad plays. We thought he’d be a downfield gunslinger but to this point he’s really been an effective, dare I say, game manager? His most impressive plays to me have been his checkdowns and his throw aways (though he pissed me off this past week – how hard is it to throw it to the sidelines when you are out of the pocket?????) when he could just as easily roll the dice downfield. Yes, to this point, it’s been pretty much what we thought it would be but, as they say in prison, now it’s time to separate the men from the men (in Auburn they say separate the men from the sheep, of course). And with that………..ON TO THE NOTES!
Let’s get this out of the way right now. Having two RBs go for over 160 in 11 carries or less is just silly. The four long runs, including 2 back to back, was like a little game of “anything you can do I can do better.” Lacy started it with a 43 yard TD. TR then sprinted 58 yards for a TD. TR then upped the ante with a 71 yard TD run but Lacy followed that on the very next play with a 67 yarder. So many things have to go right in order to make that happen. Backs have to have the talent (size and speed), see the hole and make a defender or two miss. The OL has to be solid in their assignments and then actually block the man they are responsible for. Even the WRs have blocking responsibilities (I do love you Darius Hanks – more on that man love later). Without all of that coming together in perfect harmony – Ebony and Ivory kind of harmony – then big runs simply are not going to happen, and that’s precisely the difference between the first half and the second half. In today’s segment, I’ll take a little different approach (yes, another different approach – jeesh you guys whine more than Will Muschamp and Derek Dooley at halftime) and I’ll look at the tale of two halves of the offense. We’ll look at the plays that lost yardage as well as the big gainers and we’ll try to explain how the rushing offense was so bad (at halftime Alabama had 76 rushing yards) in the first half and so good (271 yards rushing) in the second half. You kids better strap in back there b/c I have no idea where this ride will take us! Remember, the true joy is the journey and not the destination so, while the end zone is an important destination, it’s more important to know how we did (or didn’t) get there!
- 2nd & 2 TR 3 yard loss: 1 back. This one is easy. Williams didn’t block the edge so the backside LB brought him down. A little slow developing but Williams whiffed.
- 2nd & 6 TR 1 yard gain: Williams appears to miss block here as he and Smelley double team the edge guy, leaving the LB free to make the tackle.
- 2nd & 5 TR 2 yard gain: Pistol set. Fluker can’t hold block – everyone else was blocked.
- 1st & 10 Sims sacked: Fluker doesn’t hold block. Thought a LB was coming so released his block.
- 1st & 10 TR 1 yard gain: Shotgun. Trent missed a gaping hole to his right. Bad run.
- 1st & 10 AJ sacked: AJ simply held the ball too long. Should have hit Lacy on check down.
- 3rd & 1 Lacy 2 yard loss: Shotgun. Cyrus misses block but defensive line shift altered the blocking assignments and we didn’t pick that up. Still Cyrus whiffed badly.
- 1st & 10 AJ no gain: Warmack is called for holding as he lets his man thru but, in his defense, there were two guys rushing past him at the same time. Meanwhile, Steen and Fluker were double teaming a block and Barrett Jones blocked no one. Total breakdown of blocking assignments. North Texas showed a blitz with one OLB but came from the other side and we’d fanned to the wrong side.
- 1st & 10 TR 58 yd TD: Shotgun. Vlachos and Warmack pull and North TX is outmanned on the flanks. Odd to see Vlachos pull as we don’t do that often. When Williams turned his man inside, the conducted picked up his sticks to bust out a little Yea Alabama.
- 1st & 10 EL 35 yd gain: 1 back. Barrett Jones turns his man inside while Williams blocks out and Lacy is out the gate. Excellent job by Vlachos to get to second level to prevent pursuit. By the way, Maze was 30 yards downfield holding his block.
- 2nd & 10 EL no gain: Play is designed to go right. Warmack pulls from left to right and Cyrus is supposed to close that gap by blocking down. Instead, Cy fans outside, leaving a massive hole for the LB to knife in and make the tackle. Really bad play by Cy-Ko there.
- 1st & 10 AJ sacked: This is the bad AJ. He had plenty of time but bailed on the pocket and then, to make matters worse, he doesn’t flip the ball out of bounds. Instead, he decides it’s better to just go out of bounds 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Really a dumb, dumb play.
- 3rd & 17 AJ sacked: Surprised we weren’t in shotgun here. North Texas brings a LB and he comes thru clean. Once again, another missed assignment. North Texas shows blitz by all three LBs and once again, we fan the wrong way, leaving a LB free. Jones, Steen and Lacy all block no one while the LB makes the sack.
- 1st & 10 TR 71 yd TD: One back set. Really solid zone blocking all across the front as every Bama blocker is locked up on a defender. Vlachos, Steen and Fluker create a huge hole but Brandon Gibson and DeAndrew White make key blocks downfield which allow Trent to be off to the races.
- 1st & 10 EL 67 yd TD: Let’s be honest, this one was all Lacy. The blocking really didn’t provide a push so Lacy cut back into a defender and quickly disposed of him. This stopped everyone’s momentum except for Lacy and he hit 5th gear while everyone else was shifting into second. Tremendous individual effort.
- 2nd & 1 P Sims no gain: Sims just dropped the damn ball. Way to make that push for the starting role, Phillip. Great look on the sidelines, too. I think we’ll need to find a surgeon to remove his head from his anus.
- 2nd & 5 B Sims 15 yd gain: Harrison Jones executes a perfect chip block as he allows Cyrus to lock up on his man by chipping the DE. Jones then quickly moves to the second level to create even more room for B Sims. Nicely done!
Out of 11 negative plays above (I counted a 2 yard gain as a negative play), eight of these plays were the direct result of a missed block. Of these eight “missed block” plays, only two of them were really physical blocks that were missed – the other six were mental blocks that were missed. By that, I simply mean there was a missed assignment. To me, this is the direct result of the OL shuffling, though a few of these missed assignments continuously showed up last season when LBs would come on a delayed blitz. Honestly, we have a lot of work to do here and I’m not sure we’ve established enough continuity as we head into the SEC season.
North Texas has one first down in the first half, one trip to the red zone and didn’t score a point as Alabama notched its first shutout since beating Chattanooga 45-0 in 2009. North Texas went three-and-out eight times,
Upshaw, who has been bothered by an oblique strain, didn’t play in the fourth quarter. He had four tackles, three tackles for a loss and three hurries
Sunseri finished the game with six total tackles, including four on the final drive.
LB Courtney Upshaw (5): Defensive player of the week selection by the coaching staff after racking up four tackles, including three for loss, and three pass breakups against North Texas. Leads the team in tackles for loss (4.5) and quarterback hurries (three). Will be counted on to pressure Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson this week.
LB Dont’a Hightower (9): Recorded five tackles, including two for loss, and a quarterback hurry against North Texas. Tied with Barron for the team lead in tackles with 16 stops. After three games, Hightower is one tackle for loss away from matching his 2010 season total of 3.5. Will look to pressure Wilson while rushing the passer from a number of angles this week.
Jeremy Shelley attempted four field goals, but only made two of them. His makes were from 26 and 37 yards, and he missed from 36 and 42.
in part due to seven tackles for a loss, including four sacks, two lost fumbles, drives stalling in the red zone, two missed field goals, and five carries that gained two yards or fewer.
McCarron’s had 52 consecutive attempts without an interception