Well, it was what we thought it was going to be – a blowout by the Panthers 51-7 over the Massachusetts Minutemen. Not a whole lot to take away from a game like that as far as seeing what our team may be like going into the harder games of the schedule.
So – lets start with some stats from the game:
Those stats stack up just like the 51-7 score does, pretty much a manhandling by Pitt. Here are Pitt’s passing stats:
Here we see what , on the surface, looks like a great passing game. But who knows what this means for the better pass defenses we will face.
We dropped seven passes again and as I wrote earlier I don’t think that is magically going to go away. There are lots of reasons for dropped passes – some are just a clunk off the hands, but some times the receiver just doesn’t think he’s going to be thrown to, especially if he’s the 2nd or 3rd progression receiver by the QB and is surprised the ball is suddenly there.
I saw that happened a few times Saturday and I know it happened a bunch last season. So if that continues I feel that will still be a problem, especially combined with other tough issues I think will arise playing against Power 5 schools – like us fielding an offensive line (OL) that isn’t all that good in pass protection.
How did our running game do? I wasn’t all that impressed to be honest. We moved the ball on the ground but didn’t get any breakaway runs like you would have thought we would given the level of the competition. Here are the numbers:
What I noticed this game –
and as with the receiver drops this has carried over from last season – the lack of long runs was due to poor or non-existent downfield blocking by the wide receivers and the tight ends.
Whether that is coaching, and I believe it is, or just some laziness on the part of the receivers, which happens sometimes also, that is something that a medium to poor running game has got to get right.
Remember RB James Conner racking up 1700+ yards? He had TEs Scott Orndoff and J.P. Holtz along with a good blocking Jamar Parrish at FB working hard downfield for him. Hall and Ollison grabbing big chunks on the ground in ’18 was due in large part to FB George Aston and WR Araujo-Lopes, who was an excellent blocker, moving people away from them as they got into that 2nd D level past the line of scrimmage.
A great running game demands that.
Our OL wasn’t blasting big holes against UMass and our running backs had to work for their yardage. You can bet the level of talent we will see in our ACC opponent’s linebackers and defensive backs will be way, way above who we played against on Saturday and if we can’t execute every block possible, especially downfield, to make those five yard runs into 10-15 yard runs then we’ll be hurting for first downs and red zone success. We’ll find ourselves in a one sided offense again.
What I also noticed Saturday is that the Minutemen WRs were pretty wide open downfield and their QB just couldn’t get the ball to them. That was evident in the first half when we had our 1st team DBs in. They weren’t all that great last year and have to be much better than we saw on Saturday to defend the better QB/WRs we’ll meet in ACC play. If not we’ll have the same great run defense but teams getting 1st downs and scores over the top.
Here is His Highness talking about the game two days after the match:
I’m looking at the team as it is and how the two-deep looks like it will shake out and I didn’t see anything that would make me change my win prediction from six or seven. Probably 7-5 again but I don’t think the defensive talent level is what it was last season. I think our offense will follow suit with big passing yards and not a commensurate amount of points on the board.
Here is a condensed version of the game from Youtube:
I’ll re-post the Tennessee article Rich in SC did up for us in a day or two and I’ll do what I did with BB games in that I’ll schedule auto-posts for gameday threads.
Here is what happened after the $20M donation was revealed:
I wouldn’t mind at all if someone(s) would volunteer to do a Monday Morning QB wrap-up for each game. That would help me out a bunch as I am volunteering at the USO greeting service members and their families arriving from the Middle East at BWI airport on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. So, not a lot of time to write…