Posted: 10:38 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013
Apologies for missing week 1. I blame my iPad, and I'm just going to leave it at that.
So, let's get this out of the way. Toledo is a solid program, and beating them next year at Toledo will be a serious challenge. The offense we just saw is better than some we will see in the SEC. I'll be darned if someone we know didn't preview a 38-26 Tiger win.
Onto the two thoughts:
1. The rush defense was a disappointment, but the scheme was quite solid. 5.4 yards per rush is worrisome, context be damned. I don't want to overreact. It's not a horrible number against a potent offense. It's just not good. Toledo can really score and it was hot as hell in Columbia on Saturday. I expected Toledo to get yards between the 20s on screens, wheel routes, and the like. But, they outrushed us with a lot of off-tackle runs. They ran the defense sideline to sideline and then in the second half ran it up the middle. In the third quarter defenders were no longer getting off blocks.
Of course, perspective is important. I wasn't crazy about the rush defense because of what it could signal for the future. The Rockets outgained us on a per play basis, and we never took any one thing completely away. Overall though, the defense was good on 3rd downs and it produced turnovers. And all of them came from really good scheme design that put people in position to make plays. That covers up a lot of sins.
2. The offensive line may only have a middling ceiling, but I think it will reach that ceiling. I don't see outstanding individual talent on this offensive line, but I think this group will play well together as the season goes on. We will be able to run our stuff most days. Today, the sack numbers look awful but three of the four were mostly on Franklin and Mauk for their indecisiveness when Toledo dropped eight in coverage. Even with that though, I saw the LT get owned off the edge on one sack and Boehm get dump trucked back into Franklin's lap on another. Add to that, we got little production out of our zone runs to the RBs for all of three-plus quarters. In the fourth quarter, the offensive line wore Toledo down allowing Murphy to do his thing. So, that's hopeful.
Bonus Thought 1. I'm not happy about the Wilson targeting penalty, but I think it was the right call ultimately. It won't be called consistently, but those are the breaks. On the other hand, the celebration penalty on the Golden interception return was just an official looking to throw a flag. Still, you can't give them a reason. The ensuing kickoff showed us why. We may need to return to the handshake.
Bonus Thought 2. Andrew Baggett, keep kicking it through the end zone. I have my doubts about our kick coverage.