Good News: LaCour has one hell of a leg. He had 4 kicks, averaged 48.5 yards, belted one for 60+ yards with a hang time that was enough to have the returner swarmed when it arrived, and kicked another that was downed on the 6 yard line. I'm not sure if he had any punts into the wind, but he was solid all day. Punt coverage was also great, with Cornelius Douglas and others way down the field making plays on the return man.
Also good news was the kick returns. Eric Stephens hasn't missed a beat taking kickoffs and, while I hope that he doesn't have many opportunities to do so, I have a feeling he'll be taking one to the house at some point this year. And an honorable mention goes to Ben McCroy. Was nice to see the jackrabbit chasing down the returner to save the TD on that long return we gave up.
Bad News: Ben should have never had to chase down that return man. I was getting a bad feeling on our first few kickoffs that were returned: we were giving up way too many yards, giving SMU starting field positions in the 30's. I knew that broken return was coming, but alas, there was nothing I could do about it from my couch in Austin.
Also bad news were those field goal attempts. SMU is pretty good at blocking those, but our kickers have to at least make them work to block field goals. Carona's attempt was pretty much in the facemask of the rushing defenders. I'm guessing that with be a point of emphasis in this short week.
Good News: Taylor was a different man on Sunday due to one major aspect of his game changing. He looked comfortable and confident throwing the football, a confidence he never had last year. There were moments, namely the two drives sandwiched around halftime, when he looked every bit like the best of the Air Raid quarterbacks of old. I can also see the improvement in footwork coming out in his ability to move around in the pocket, something he did effectively many times in the game.
Bad News: Potts is still a man of habits. There were a few throws that scared the hell out of me, having just been lobbed off his back foot. While they were completions, I still had that knot drop in my stomach. He wasn't bad, it just wasn't as crisp as we were hoping, and I doubt that he's going to be getting much room from the fans when fan-favorite Sheffield is on the bench.
Good News: We had pressure on the QB until the 4th quarter. Scott Smith is the real deal and was constantly in the face of Padron during the 3rd quarter. They had Padron intimidated during the first half, forcing bad decisions, and shut down the run well until June Jones realized we didn't game plan for them to run any draw plays.
Bad News: Kerry Hyder is not fast enough to be the end-man on the line. He will need to be covered either by the Buck LB or the Will or will be a liability in contain. It was a little frustrating to see our line get so close to drive-ending sacks, and that will be another thing that they focus on this week: finishing plays. One other thing I noticed: a lot of players played, but not I didn't see wholesale changes of personnel as I was expecting. We stuck with our first line through all of the first half and started to see a lot of our 2nd and third in the 3rd and 4th quarters. I expected that we'd have "starters" and then everyone else who would be run in and out during each drive.
And as another bit of bad news: this d-line cannot handle the draw play. We were good at getting up the field, but we were not very good at getting off of blocks and reacting to the delayed handoffs.
Good News: These are some incredibly talented young corners and defensive backs. Cody Davis made one mistake all evening and that was even a freak play where the ball bounced off his hands for a TD. Otherwise, he was lights out. Jarvis Phillips, Will Ford, DJ Johnson, and Tre Porter were all excellent, and every one of those guys is a sophomore or younger.
Bad News: The secondary is very young. Porter and Ford seemed to make one big mistake each, losing coverage for a TD and a drive sustaining pass interference. Really, there's not too much bad news for the secondary, they were a huge surprise yesterday, in a unit that I expected to get torched.
Good News: The line from left tackle to right guard was absolutely solid in pass protection. In 50+ attempts there were 7 knock-downs given up by the entire line and 0 sacks given up by those 4 players.
Bad News: New coach, same story when it comes to running from the Air Raid. We tried it more (37% to 63% passing), but we had a mixed bag of success. Anything up the middle failed while things to the outside tended to succeed. I don't know if it was the fact that we played a very vanilla line scheme (pretty much block your man, push him back, hope the linebackers pick the wrong gap to cover) or if we just weren't very good with run blocking overall.
Piling onto that bad news, it doesn't look like Chris Olson can handle being a starter at Right Tackle. I'd say that most of the SMU players that were introduced to Taylor Potts over the day came from the right side. In one sack, Olson flat out got beat while the other was more likely a running back's failure to take care of blitz pickup. I know Olson is one of the most versatile linemen we have, but I don't think he has what it takes to be an every down starter. I hope we get the right side of that line figured out before Von Miller starts rushing at us from that side.