By Andy / 35th & Jackson
The much anticipated matchup with Ohio State came and went over the weekend. The 77-31 blowout probably left most Beaver fans (including myself) with more questions than answers.
Here’s a quick recap of what went down and what we learned as observed through the 35th & Jackson lens.
- Kind of a confusing day at the horseshoe. I said going in if the Beavers lost by less than 30 I would come away encouraged. A lot of Beav fans took to social media to express their excitement over the new era and a solid offensive output. Don’t get me wrong I liked what I saw on that side of the ball and hope to consistently see that production each week. I thought play calling was smart and they put guys in a position to succeed. However, the Beavers lost the game by 46 with a final score of 77-31. The defensive performance cancelled out any encouraging signs I was seeing. That may be harsh for a week one assessment, but if your defense gives up 70+ points to anyone, it is cause for concern.
- Speaking of the defense, there were a lot of issues out there. The white jerseys looked slow. I get it, Ohio State is really good and has some of the best athletes on the planet. But still, the defense looked like they were playing in quick sand. Tackling was also a major issue as the Buckeyes bulldozed their way up and down the field (well, bulldozing when the beavers actually were close enough to get a finger on them).
- Now it would be unfair of me not to mention some factors that probably contributed to the ugly performance. I get it, the defense was already missing several key players including David Morris and Jeromy Reichner. Aside from that a lot of freshman were getting their first taste of college football. Also, the Ohio State defense created seven of those points when Connor Blount fumbled in the end zone. So that lowers the defenses responsibility to 70 points. And then I’ll give them a slight break on Ohio State going for it on 4th down late in the game. So I’ll say that TD should’ve been a field goal and that they could’ve realistically held them to 66 points. That is still unacceptable, but it looks a little better than 77.
- Ok, I’ll get more positive with these guys. I actually do think they can improve. It was one week against a playoff caliber team in a hostile environment with a first year coaching staff and a bunch of young players. Again, it’s not ok to give up 77 points, but I will hold off on sweeping conclusions until they get several games under their belt. I think there is a good chance that the defense makes a big jump this week. It’s still very early. All I can do is hope.
- Offensively things actually looked pretty good. I felt bad that Luton went down on the first drive. The guy he worked hard to get back after last year’s injury and I thought he was actually poised to play much better under this staff. We will see what happens with him. Connor Blount was solid in relief , making all the throws he needed to and it didn’t feel like the moment was too big for him. The only blemish was him fumbling in the end zone. But overall I liked what I saw from Connor. I think if Blount would’ve played in the second half the Beavs score 45+.
- Other positives: Artavis Pierce is exactly the back the 35th crew has always thought he was. Since his freshman year it has been obvious that Pierce has the potential to be special. He just hasn’t had the bulk of the carries up to this point. That changed on Saturday. He looked fantastic. He broke tackles and outran elite defensive speed for 78 and 80 yard scores. If he stays healthy, Pierce is going to have a monster year.
- Trevon Bradford also had a phenomenal day. Like Pierce, it’s awesome to see the strides he’s made since his freshman year. He’s a weapon and I liked seeing Lindgren finding creative ways to get him in space.
- The line was man handled. The Buckeyes defensive line is probably the best in the country, but I was hoping to see more of a fight up front. Too many sacks.
- Overall I was a little discouraged by Saturday. But I still believe in Jonathan Smith and what this staff and team can accomplish. I expect to see this team get better each week and show some fight as the season progresses.
- Southern Utah won’t just roll over, but I need to see the Beavers win by three touchdowns next week. Give me that and an angry, improved defense and I’ll be more optimistic.
This is only the beginning. Go Beavs!