First, this is my first year on BON and I just want to say thanks to PB for all the work he does to make this such a great site. The season was much more enjoyable because of BON. It helps to know I'm not suffering through the losses and mediocrity by myself. Also, thanks to the community. You guys are great and make it fun.
Second, this is my first diary so just bear with me. I'll try to be interesting.
Lastly, this is just a knee jerk reaction. I didn't really look at stats too much, and didn't do too much research. This is just my guy reaction to the season on a position-by-position basis. The grades are just my opinion based on production vs. expectation, talent utilization (or lack thereof), and potential.
Again this is all knee jerk, gut reaction. I tried as hard as possible to not be too negative, but after yesterday it was tough. Don't take it too seriously, and feel free to disagree.
QB: Colt has regressed. Plain and simple. I have nothing to base this on, but to me all year it just looked as if he read all his own press clippings and listened to the coaches praise him all off-season, and then had an "I’m Keith Hernandez!" moment. I don’t know if that’s the case at all. Just seemed to me that maybe he got a little full of himself and tried to do more than he’s capable of. Maybe I’m way off. Either way this was not the year we were expecting from Colt. He turned the ball over way too much, and his decision-making was questionable at best. Now, whether this is a case of him reaching his ceiling (possible), him having a bad OC (no comment), having a young, injured, makeshift O-line (true), or a combination of all three (very likely) is up for further debate. Overall, a below average year.
And while we’re talking quarterbacks, why didn’t we redshirt Chiles again? Anyone??
RB: Probably the one position on the team that lived up to expectations, even if it did take 8 games to get there. Jamaal is great, and as PB said where would we be without this guy? And as scary a thought as that is here’s a scarier one: what if he doesn’t come back?? I know he said he’s coming back, and probably will, but you never know. If I’m JC and am a guaranteed top 50 pick why come back? So that you can be underutilized in an offense that should be centered around you? I really hope he does come back. We need him.
Vondrell turned into a pretty reliable short-yardage back, but didn’t see much meaningful time because Jamaal was so great. We’ll have to wait and see on him.
WR: Was Limas that important? Who knew? After he went down, that overflow of receiver riches we were supposed to have looked awfully average, didn’t it? Quan and Nate had good years. Shipley turned into the only hint of a deep threat we had, but really after Limas went down all we really had were 3 good possession receivers. And who was that guy running around with Pittman on his jersey cause is sure wasn’t Billy. The receivers were good, but not as good as expected.
And while we’re talking receivers, why didn’t we redshirt Kirkendoll and Collins? Oh, that’s right, so they could get good experience blocking on run plays at the end of the two blowouts we had this year.
TE: Jermichael is good. The first half against OU is all you need to see that. He wreaked havoc in the first half against the best, most athletic defense we played all year, and then we stopped using him. With Limas out, you would think he would have become the focal point of our passing game. Sure, he got his 4 or 5 courtesy throws a game so in the end his numbers look respectable, but it seems like he would have been the perfect guy to use to stretch the field. Or how about throwing to him in the red zone? He only had 2 TDs all year. TWO!! The guy’s a beast. Feed him. It also seems as if he’s going to have a pretty good running mate in Blaine Irby. Our TE cupboard, like most positions, is well stacked for the future. Let’s hope the talent doesn’t go to waste.
OL: Not the best we’ve ever had. Everyone knew coming into the year that this was a position of concern. Tony Hills was supposed to be our rock, and by most accounts he was pretty average. They are a very young group, but they are talented. They seemed to improve as the year went on. It also seemed that the injuries to Hills and Griffin hurt more than you might have thought. This is a position where we actually gave the freshmen some meaningful minutes and I think it’s going to pay off the next couple of years. Overall, not great, but there is reason to hope.
Offensive Coaching: What is there to say that hasn’t been said?? Our lack of aggressiveness and creativity in big games killed us. Again. We struggled to move the ball consistently all year with the exception of Rice, ISU, and Tech. It took us 8 games to develop an identity, and just when GD looked like he figured it out with one of his best ever game plans against Tech, he come out and lays an egg against A&M. I don’t know what else to say.
DL: I’m not sure what to say here. It seems like every year we come into the season with one of the best D-lines in the country and then they do nothing. Okam, Lokey, and Miller all played pretty well, but disappeared at times. I don’t feel like they made many plays in the backfield consistently. And I’ll never understand our DE’s. We have loads of talent there and the lack of production is amazing. 14 combined sacks all year by our DE’s. That’s just over 1 a game!! I’m not a coach, but why is it that every other defense I watch has their guys try to go around the blockers, but our guys try and go through them? Isn’t that the point of having athletes at end, so they can go around slower tackles? Am I just way off base? Anyway, again the cupboard is ridiculously loaded at end. The future has potential.
LB: We’ve talked about this enough. Old guys are slow, young guys are fast.
(One thing I haven’t heard discussed much: while Killebrew and Derry run out of eligibility and open the door for Kindle and Muckleroy to start next year, what happens with Norton? Bobino is only a junior. Does Mack suddenly change his mind and start Norton over the senior who has paid his dues, or does Norton come off the bench again?)
Grade: D, and walk off 15 yards cause ol’ #40 just got a personal foul.
CB: Coming into the year I was terrified at the though of our secondary starting Foster and Palmer, but they really weren’t as bad as I thought. They made very few spectacular plays, but didn’t give up many huge plays. They played pretty solid. Deon Beasley is going to be great. That kid makes plays. He had times where he was out of position or just got beat, but he also made a lot of plays, too. Supposedly we have some really young talent here too, but we’ll just have to find out next year.
And why didn’t we redshirt Curtis Brown?? Anyone else seeing a pattern here?
S: Coming into the year I wasn’t expecting to see Huff and Griffin Part 2, but man were they bad. Marcus Griffin was solid most of the year, and had the big INT return against Baylor, but was far from spectacular. And how many times did Erick Jackson get caught out of position. Just not a good year at safety. Here’s hoping Ben Wells and Christian Scott can bring some much needed athleticism and play-making ability back to our safety spot.
Defensive Coaching: Again, what else to be said. Everyone, and I mean everyone had career passing days against us. A&M threw for almost 400 yards on us. That says enough. When we hired MacDuff and promoted Akina I was pretty disappointed, but over time I managed to talk myself into it and managed to be kind of excited coming into the year after hearing Akina talk about relentless pressure and blitzing from everywhere. Then the season started, it wasn’t good, but I just made excuses. Arkansas St. marched up and down the field on us ("It’s the first game. The guys are learning the scheme. Besides, we stopped them in the red zone and that’s what matters, right?"). We play well against TCU ("See the guys got it. Now we’re gonna dominate."). UCF puts up 32 ("Kevin Smith really is underrated. He’ll play on Sundays."). KSU scores 41 ("Most of that was returns. We really didn’t give up much on D."). We "hold" OU to 28 ("They had been scoring 50."). 13 points combined for Baylor and ISU ("Points are all that matters. We’re gonna roll now."). Then Nebraska happened. And Okie Lite. And then Tech. And then the Franatics throw for almost 400. 400! I was so excited coming into the year that we were going to be a fast, blitzing SEC-like defense, and man am I disappointed. When we blitzed our guys just ran into blockers completely out of control. And why do our CB’s start 12 yards off the line? Nothing we did makes any sense. The middle of the field was always wide open. We never could get any consistent pressure on anyone. This was a very Makovick-like D. Unacceptable.
Special Teams: Zero kicks blocked, and we were never close. This was something we hung our hat on for years, and it was a complete non-factor this year. In a year where Mack even admitted we needed everything to go our way to have a good year, you would think they would really emphasize special teams and use it to change momentum and win some games, but no. I can’t think of a time all year where it even looked like we were trying to block a punt or kick. Our kick coverage was horrendous all year, too. Our best strategy was to sky-kick and just give them the ball around the 35. Punt and kick return were solid, but Quan didn’t give me that feeling that he could break one at any moment and with the athletes we have we should have a return man that scares people.
Justin Moore came on pretty well at the end of the year. He was good about kicking the ball high and deep and allowing us to cover pretty well. Ryan Bailey was really good. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a real solid kicker, but this kid is good. He’s clutch and accurate. You can’t ask for more than that.
Head Coach: The next few weeks before the bowl game and this off-season is probably the most critical since Mack has been here. The aura of VY and the MNC has completely worn off, and the honeymoon is over. As has been stated, it’s not that we’re losing, it’s how we’re losing, and how we respond to losses and sloppy wins. It’s been a season chalked full of the same excuses and nothing has changed. Nothing ever changes. I’m desperately trying to find some reason to be optimistic about next year, but I’m having a really hard time because I’ve seen this all before. I just have a bad feeling we’re going to be having the same conversations next year. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results…
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