Breath In, Breath Out - The Initial Review of the EWU Game

Colorado_helmet_medium          VS.       Eastern_washington_medium

I don't know how to start this. I was walking out of the game saying, "At least I don't have to write about a loss to a FCS school." I was quickly reminded by a friend that I will have to write about why we almost lost to a team that plays in the Big Sky. He was right, I was mad. First off, let me say that EWU was good and they should have won. They were better than CSU and if they stop Josh Smith from being the one man wrecking crew on special teams, they would have won. I actually felt bad for EWU's quarterback when he threw the INT that cost them the game. He played too well to have that happen. I am glad this game wasn't televised. I am still pretty hot since I just got home from the game so if this comes off a little rough, I will sleep on it and probably restate some things. Maybe not. Maybe we do have problems. Maybe we are too young to try and run an offense that we are not equipped to run. I have got a lot to say but I will try and microwave it for you as best as possible but this will probably be long. My main problem right now is coaching. We aren't putting guys in a position to win and be successful.

So I am not going to rip on the defensive backs because they actually played pretty well especially in the second half. A lot of EWU's offense was short passes that the Buffs got better at in the second half and Cha'pelle Brown, McKay, Walters and Dykes had some good hits and made some plays. The problem in the first half was the fact that we played scared on defense. We rushed four, we played 10 yards off the wide receivers and the linebackers, except for Shaun Mohler, were rather ineffective. It looked like Mohler got injured and that would be very bad for this defense. Like I said, the linebackers and the defensive backs played well in the second half. My main beef on defense is with the defensive line. We played horrible today. We let EWU dominate the line of scrimmage and we got zero pressure, I mean zero pressure on the quarterback when the whole world knew they couldn't run the ball and they were going to throw 50 times. Right now, I am feeling like George Hypolite is overrated and that article about Maurice Lucas and Brandon Nicolas being new football players in the off-season has not come to fruition. The only pass rusher worth a damn is LB Brad Jones who they put in a flex spot on the end. He can make some plays. In the second half we started to blitz and go to press coverage and what do you know, only 3 points. In the first half, we played not to lose and the second half we got desperate. The defense forced three turnovers so it wasn't a horrible game for them given the fact that one touchdown was a pick 6 on a bad, bad throw by Hawkins and the other touchdown was on a short field after Josh Smith's fumble. But the Buffs gave up a lot of third and longs when they needed a stop and like I said earlier, they didn't come out ready to play in the first half. That being said, the coaches did not put the players in a place to make plays until the second half so I put half of the blame on the CU staff.

The offense didn't show up either until the fourth quarter. I said it last week and I will say it again. The hurry up/no huddle/massive confusion offense that doesn't confuse the defense, only the two run playbook offense/the only goal line play we need is Cody Hawkins try to trick the defense with the quarterback sneak offense isn't working. It is flat out not working. Watching EWU run the offense made CU's offense look foolish out there. EWU was successful the first three quarters because they were never 2nd and 10. They were 2nd and 3, 2nd and always moving forward. When the official stats come out tomorrow, I will do another post showing you that at least 8 first down plays we went backwards. We try to run little reverses, screen passes, short dump passes or run dive up the middle. We never look in control, never looked like we were just going to pound them or try and stretch the field until late in the game.  

There are many flaws that I see right now in the offense. First of all, Cody looked horrible today. The stats really don't show it but he telegraphed everything. He looked at one wide receiver and that's where he went. He under threw a lot of balls, missed some open receivers and never looked comfortable or in control in the pocket. We don't throw the ball up field unless we are put in a position like being down 14 in the second half. We don't challenge the defense at all. Thank god for Scotty McKnight. He was the only one on offense who played today. The offensive lineman were atrocious. The smaller EWU defensive line was kicking their *expletive*. If it wasn't for the altitude, EWU would have kept beating them up. They made Miller and Solder look slow and the interior of our line was pushed back all day to a point that Scott never could get going forward. He was running sideways trying to elude deep penetration. But at the same time, the coaches are predictable so they don't help the line. Rodney Stewart is in the game, he lines up in the slot and we're going to run reverse. We never decoy him. When Scott is in, we never get him on the outside, it is only run inside on a dive. The opposition's defensive linemen have zero responsibility on outside containment. It is full straight ahead because we aren't rolling Cody out and unless Smith or Stewart are in the slot, we aren't running outside. Cody is mobile enough and rolling him out would get him more visibility down field as he seems like he has a hard time seeing out there.

Now the biggest part of my rant is about the coaching. I have a couple of questions I would ask Coach Hawkins and the rest of the coaches if I had a minute of their time. We are so confused on offense it looks dysfunctional but the playing calling is more dysfunctional. Here are my questions.

Do we have plans for our running backs? Is their going to be a running game this year?

We better figure something out or Darrell is going to transfer. I am not joking. The offense is unimaginative, predictable...it's not dynamic.
Why not run an option pitch to Scott and use his speed on the outside?

Scott was very powerful on runs today but half of the time he gets hit 3 yards deep in the backfield.
We supposedly have two potential first round draft picks at tackle but we don't want to run behind them?

It doesn't make any sense at all.
Can we please put Cody Hawkins under center sometimes especially on the goal line?

I know we are stubbornly try to keep the offense up tempo but we can be up tempo with a quarterback under center too. We try to get Scott going but basically in the shotgun, Scott is standing when he gets the ball not moving forward waiting for Cody to get the ball in the shotgun and then he gets the ball at a complete stand still right up the middle where we have two inexperienced guards playing. Let's line up Scott in the I-formation and let him go full steam ahead.
And on the goal line, can we stop running quarterback sneak all the time?

We have a beast in Scott (wait until you see his two big runs on highlight) but we fail to use him correctly.
Are we going to play to win in the first half?
Last week and this week, we looked inept coming out. We don't throw the ball downfield and we don't get creative on defense. We are playing scared right now. No blitzing, no deep routes to Josh Smith, zero passes to the tight end. If you would have seen the middle of the field wide open today, you would why we didn't just throw exclusively to the tight end.
Can we get a first down offense going?

I will post the stats tomorrow but we have more and more 3rd and 10+ possessions. And guess what, we convert a lot of them because we have to actually open the offense up and we have playmakers.

Then I would ask them what they were thinking when they had Hawkins spike the ball with 1 minute 22 seconds left in the first half on the 25 yard line. We wasted a down with timeouts and guess what, we don't gain a yard and we miss a field goal. What about the fourth down attempt with 8 minutes left instead of going for a field goal? I know we won but that could have been crucial considering the fact that if EWU scores a touchdown, it is now a two possession game rather than a one possession game. I would also question them on the overall preparation and play calling. The Buffs were flat, not excited and did not fly around out there. This game could have been catastrophic to this program.

Now, breathe in, breath out. We won. We are undefeated. We have a bye week. Yes, the offense may be unfixable but maybe Hawkins has something up his sleeve for West Virginia that might open up the offense. The good thing is that the Buffs didn't lose and ruin the primetime Thursday night game. When they announced the game, the students went nuts and it is going to be an event. Maybe we're playing completely vanilla styles of offense and defense. Who knows? But if the Buffs play like they did today and last week against the next four teams the Buffs have on the schedule, we will be here six weeks from now at 2 - 4.

Play review and grades will come out tomorrow after I sleep this one off a little bit.

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