They like to make it close. Only being able to listen to the game it's hard to get a feel for the second half. I wonder if Reid played that poorly (11-31 for 144 yards) or if the defense really stepped up. It sounded like Nitschmann had a really big game, pressuring Reid quite a bit, and without seeing the game it also appears that Paul Williams replaced Kellen Tillman in the starting lineup. As I've mentioned, since I didn't see the game, let's try and break this game down by the numbers. Offense tonight and defense tomorrow:
1. Of Shannon Woods 15 carries, I think 6 were for a loss or no gain. He can be an explosive player, but I really think that Leach needs to trust Woods and utilize his talents a little more. It keeps everyone honest, it makes the offense better.
2. Harrell was fairly efficient for the day, but I'm still troubled by the inability to convert 3rd downs. By my count, Harrell converted 4 of 10 3rd downs. That's not good. This doesn't account for dropped passes, but having not seen the game this is a little difficult. Of course one of those 3rd downs was a 41 yard pass to Filani that led to a Woods 1 yard touchdown. Harrell completed 63% of his passes and his yards per attempt was 8.2, which means that he's getting some nice chunks of yardage.
3. One sack. To only give up one sack during the game is fairly impressive. I believe there were no holding penalties by the offense and I think there was only one false start with Ramirez. As far as the offensive line is concerned, it seemed that there were few mental mistakes by the offensive line that led to offensive setbacks.
4. Johnson (8 for 109) and Filani (5 for 90) are really taking advantage of not having Hicks around. I thought that I saw a report before the game that Hicks was going to play, but the report before the game was that he was in uniform but changed after warm-ups. I have to believe that Johnson and Filani are really trying to showcase their skills to prove that they can play on Sunday. I have no idea if they have the speed to play at the next level, but with their size and understanding of reading a defense, I think their chances are pretty good. It would have been nice to see Reed or Reese step up, but overall, I'm very happy with their overall performance.
5. I know that Leach hates to run out the clock by running the ball, but it would have been really nice to have run the ball on those last two possessions in the 4th quarter and eat up as much time as possible. I expect an offense to have the ability to run out 2:40, and the best we could do was 1:24-ish. Even if we run the ball unsuccessfully, we probably would have forced OSU to burn a time-out and it would have made it a little more difficult in OSU's last drive.
6. Last week Morris and Woods returned kickoffs and I thought that was an odd combination. Woods is a perfect return guy, but I really didn't feel comfortable returning kickoffs, it seemed unnecessary. With Morris, I've always thought of him as being really reliable, but not a game breaker, rather, I never thought he had the ability to break away for a touchdown. Bill Parcells is generally enamored with return guys with some size because they have the ability to break tackles. Today we had L.A. Reed and Jamar Wall. Personally, I really like that combination much better. They both run about 200 lbs. and probably have better speed that Morris and they are not your starting running back. Morris' bio states that he runs 174.
7. It is very frustrating not to see the offense convert on the 1" mark and the 1 yard line. The offense has to be able to score from there and I wonder how much practice they really get just lining up and pushing the line forward. The broadcast made it sound like when Leach called timeout with 3:01 left in the 3rd quarter, that the line just needed to push the line forward and I agree, however, these linemen are conditioned to be on their heels all day long protecting the quarterback. The line is also never asked to open up holes in the line for runningbacks, but is geared towards opening up lanes of traffic. I am not a lineman but it has to be tough completely change what you do 95% of the game. I guess the best fix to this situation is to not get caught at the 1 yard line.