Fact or Fiction:
It's the same old Riley
MSG is the hero we need
Let's look at some of those early incompletions:
Misses KA on 3rd down. Edwards whiffed on the pass rusher and gave his guy a free run. Riley had to throw early...hitch in the release showed some indecision. Pawlawski speculated that KA might have done something in his pattern that Riley didn't expect. (Broke his route wrong.)
Misses Vereen on 3rd and 2. Probably Riley's fault. He did lead him a little bit too much. But Vereen still got his hands on it - and might have been looking upfield early. I'd split this error 50/50.
Misses Jones on 4th and 2. Looked bad. But MSG completely whiffed on his guy which forced Riley to throw early.
Missed KA on a corner route that could have been a TD. Looks like he lead him too far to the outside. But Pawlawski said that KA ran the route too close to the sideline. Probably another 50/50 split.
Missed Ross on 3rd down.(1st drive of 3rd quarter) Really looked bad. But Miller went out in a pattern and Schwartz blocked inside...letting the outside rusher have a free run. Not sure if Schwartz screwed up or thought that Miller was supposed to stay in and block. Either way, Riley had to throw it away early to avoid the sack.
The O-line didn't do Riley any favors in the early going. Edwards whiffed a couple of times and forced him to throw early or scramble. Schwartz had trouble with a well-schemed delayed LB blitz and allowed a sack.
Old Riley would have let the pressure get in his head. Instead, he generally made good decisions, took what was there, and was money in the blue zone. I'll take it.
Edwards started slow. On the 1st drive, he missed three blocks. One resulted in a short gain by Vereen. Another forced Riley to scramble. And the last one allowed pressure on Riley and may have contributed to his overthrow of Allen.
MSG was in during the 3rd drive and the infamous 4th and 2. Riley's miss on 3rd and 2 was on him. On 4th and 2, MSG completely whiffed on his guy and Riley had to throw it early. He also had a false-start at the goal line in the 3rd.
2nd Quarter: Edwards completely walls off the pass rusher on consecutive downs allowing the big throws to Allen. He helps with a nice combo block springing Vereen up the middle against 9 in the box. On 1st and goal from the 3, he completely seals his edge and opens a huge hole for Vereen.
Really nice bounce-back drive from #53. He's not a bruiser, but shows good agility.
MSG may still be the answer. But, he needs to get healthy first.
We should really be worried about our running game and our o-line.
Yes and no.
I looked at all of our successful and unsuccessful runs. More often than not, our unsuccessful runs were because a TE or FB whiffed on their blocks.(especially FB - Stevens had a rough game) We also had issues running against 8-9 guys in the box. However, our longest run from scrimmage also came against 8 guys in the box. And, Vereen's rushing TD came against 10 guys in the box. The difference? Execution. When our TE's and FB work together with our O-line, they can open some really nice lanes. When someone screws up, it looks really bad. It looked like our guards played pretty well. I'm no expert in O-line play, but it was Schwartz and Edwards who caught my eye as the culprits for missed blocks from time to time.
On the other hand, I only saw a couple of unsuccessful(<4 yds/carry) runs against a seven in the box base look.
Because we can expect a steady diet of stacked boxes and run blitzes until we prove that our passing game is a consistent threat, I think the coaching staff is deliberately being stubborn with the run. It may not be the high percentage play to run against 8 in the box - But if we can do it out of our double TE set, it really helps to establish an attitude on the Oline and hearkens back to those dominating days of '04 when we could run it down people's throats whether they were expecting it or not.
Sofele shouldn't be our #2 RB
Four carries for 10 yards? Let's look at them.
Carry #1: Stevens whiffs on a blitzing CB. Hit for a loss in the backfield.
Carry #2: Stevens whiffs on a blitzing LB. Breaks two tackles and manages to turn a 3 yd loss into a 2 yd gain.
Carry #3: 8 in the box. But Stevens cuts his guy. Gets to the edge and makes a nice 10 yd gain.
Carry #4: 8 in the box. Stevens runs right past his guy who takes Sofele down for a 3 yd loss.
I'm seeing a pattern here...
Let's not be so quick to throw the little guy under the bus. He was really solid on blitz pick-up and showed off his versatility on that TD reception.
We should really be worried about those long drives at the end of the 2nd quarter and in the 3rd quarter.
Clancy called off the dogs. Let's put it this way. He didn't just drink Eric Keisau's milkshake. If he wanted to, he could have effin' milked Eric Keisau. During the 1st quarter and early 2nd when the game was still in doubt, Clancy had CU exactly where he wanted them. He had pressure packages that they simply could not handle. Up 24-0, he stopped calling as many blitzes and he stopped calling his "super move"(unblockable) blitzes. During the 14+ play drive at the end of the 2nd, he sent 5 guys twice. All other plays were variations of a 4 man rush. In the 3rd quarter, he sent 5 guys twice and 6 guys twice. Ironically, the blitzes led to CU's TD drive because we didn't get to Hansen in time and allowed long completions to a TE and WR. The blitzes were also different from the ones used early. Most of these were delayed blitzes...very similar to the ones we used against UCD. We're actually not so great at getting to the QB with these.(yet?) The ones that were most successful seemed to be from a combination of LB's or CB's rushing from the line of scrimmage.
So, why would he do this? No need to tip your hand and give more film to future opponents when the game is well in hand. Also, the guys need practice playing coverage. If we can learn to get pressure out of our base package instead of having to rely on a sell-out blitz, it really adds versatility to our defense. Did it work? Well, there were some long drives. On the other hand, the sack that knocked them back and contributed to the missed FG came from a four-man rush. (Kendricks beat their All-American LT with an inside move) The near-sack that resulted in MikeyMo's pick-six also came from a four-man rush. (Owusu and Jordan both beat their guys)
You're the worst Old Blue evair! Have you been sniffing glue or do you just like pumping sunshine?
Don't worry, I'm still old. *sniff* I think Sofele is fine, and we know what we've got with Vereen. (especially considering he's returning to form from injury/rust) I'm still worried about our running game, but instead of just worrying about our line, I'm also worried about the H-Back/FB position. It's clearly a work in progress. However, considering that the coaching staff knows that the recipe for beating us is pretty darn obvious (stop the run, pressure Riley), I think they've been using these blowout games to work on weaknesses instead of just sticking to our strengths. Besides, establishing that you're willing to run even against a stacked defense helps set up play action - that long throw to Jones in the 4th came off of an I-formation with an H-back in motion (classic running formation set) and then a play action bootleg.
I don't think "bad" Riley has been completely exorcised, but I do think it's unfair to put everything on him. I haven't seen too many glaring unforced errors - but I'm cautiously optimistic. Is he the guy that we want with us in the foxhole when it hits the fan? Too early to say. We'll know more when we face the heavyweights of our schedule. But everything I've seen suggests that he's better than the guy we saw last year. Even Old Blues are allowed a little bit of sunshine here and there. Go Bears!