Oh. My. Gosh.
I’ll admit that I didn’t see this coming, at least not to the extent that things occurred. 56-10 is absolutely the best case scenario. It’s difficult to complain given that result.
A couple of quick thoughts:
Nik Shimonek shook off some early game jitters, and delivered a performance for the ages - four incompletions, no interceptions, and three touchdowns. I’ll admit I had high levels of anxiety when we had three empty possessions to start the game. But, I’m going to chalk that up to first game emotions. His command of the offense most definitely reminds me of Graham Harrell at his best, and Seth Doege at his worst (yeah, not bad). The speculation that our offense would be more “efficient” with him at the helm could be accurate. (Mahomes was a generational talent, we know)
Desmond Nisby is a mismatch monster, and I have less anxiety on future 3rd and 1 opportunities now. His running style is a outstanding for this offense, and his presence spelled Derrick Willie’s touchdown. He might not be a 1,000 yard rusher, but his impact WILL be felt. I wish he had been given a redzone carry, but, oh well.
Tre King low-key impressed me as well, his touchdown was solid, and I liked his effort when the game was semi in doubt. I’ll admit I was skeptical that he’d step him and be productive as a JUCO walk-on, but I think he’ll do something for us this year.
Justin Stockton was solid, but I’m not willing to anoint him as a “new man.” He’s best when he’s a complementary piece, and hopefully that will be his role moving forward. But, at least for today, cheers to you Justin - you played well.
Derrick Willies is good. It seemed pretty obvious that Shimonek depended on him when things weren’t going well early. I don’t hate that Shimonek sees him as a safety blanket, because he’s the most physically gifted receiver we have from a measurable standpoint. He could play his way into an NFL draft conversation.
Keke Coutee is what you thought he was. A bonafide baller, and a playmaker that makes fast players look slow. He most assuredly will have 1,000 yards receiving this year, and all-conference honors are in his future.
Jordyn Brooks looks healthy, and he’s going to be an animal this year. His shoulder injury that held him out of spring had me worried, but I’m happy to see that he’s ready to roar.
Tony Jones is an ATHLETE. He’s likely the best player we’ve had off the edge since Pete Robertson. His interception was jaw dropping, and his sack was monumental. I speculate he’ll only be getting better going forward.
Penalties weren’t too great, and I’ll be the first to point some fingers there. BUT, most of the penalties were mental, and they weren’t Pass Interference calls, or Holding calls. Meaning it’s highly preventable. This is something that can assuredly be fixed after the first game.
Coaching was spectacular. Kingsbury had a great game plan, and it was apparent that we didn’t know what would happen next (off balance is greater than knowing what will happen next...). David Gibbs might be onto something with his back seven, and it’s realistic we’ll be a top 80 defense (that’s good guys). The rotations also made sense, and I didn’t see many scenarios where gassed players were still in the game.
I hate to focus too much on players, but this game was won on the back of some seriously outstanding play. I didn’t see any scenario in which we held EWU to 10 points, but this game was dominated from the second quarter on. Enjoy this one Red Raider fans, it looks like our favorite son Kliff Kingsbury might be alright.