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General Thoughts

You know the routine...

  • John Parker Wilson... you know, I'm going to start yearning for Spencer Pennington soon at this rate. In the last two games, Wilson is 30-74 for 355 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble. That's a 40 per cent completion ratio, a QB rating of a paltry 79, and less than 5 yards per attempt. Holy Hell.
  • The turnover-itis for Wilson continued, obviously, and honestly I'm not sure it's going to get much better. I mean it would be different if this were a young kid who still was at the beginning of the learning curve, but that's simply not the case. Wilson spent a year as a greyshirt, another year learning under Brodie Croyle, and today marked his 23rd game as a starter at Alabama, yet he's still making the type of mistakes you would expect from a true freshman. You have to be brutally honest and say that if he hasn't figured out how to protect the football by this point, it's not likely to happen. If you can't do it by this point, you can pretty much forget about it ever happening.
  • The coaching staff probably has to be pulling their hair out over the quarterback situation. Some people would like McElroy as an option, but the truth is that if he can't even compete for playing time when we have this terrible of production at quarterback, it's unlikely that's he's even a decent player. Wilson will probably continue to have his moments, but at this point we just have to hope he can turn into a consistently average player. This is likely a situation that we are just going to have to address in the long-term via recruiting, there's just unlikely to be a quick fix. The harsh truth of the matter is that the situation at quarterback is the most dire of any unit on the entire roster.
  • On the interception returned for a touchdown, it was a terrible decision by Wilson, but it was also a terrible play-call by Applewhite. We were out of time-outs, and a stopped run would have ended the half. Every one in the entire stadium knew we were not running in that situation, so why in the hell run a play-fake? All we did was get the quarterback to turn blind into a rusher off the play-fake, that naturally no one in their right mind bought on. Football Outsiders has done a lot of work into this, and the basic conclusion is that if you are going to throw in those situations, do it on the early downs when opposing defenses legitimately expect a run. Once they've stuffed you twice in a row, opposing defenses are expecting some type of play-fake pass. Throwing the football in that situation is about the dumbest thing you can do, and even if you are going to throw, at least give your quarterback a true drop-back pass where he can at least scan the field. Again, terrible decision, but a terrible play-call as well.
  • Nikita Stover saw a good deal of playing time today, but he was a disappointment. On the first possession, immediately following Rashad Johnson's interception, he was open across the middle and Wilson hit him right in the hands -- one of his few throws of the afternoon -- and he dropped it. It would have likely been a touchdown either directly or shortly thereafter, but it was not to be. It's very disappointing that even when we had a big play in the passing game we couldn't capitalize on it.
  • We have no real running game against pretty good defenses, and MSU proved that again today. Once you factor out Grant's meaningless 17-yard scamper to end the first half, he had 18 carries for 58 yards, averaging a meager 3.2 yards per carry. Lowe did better in a more limited role, but there was really just no legitimate running game. The only real success was on draw plays in passing situations. When we actually tried to line up and run and traditional run situations, we had no success.
  • Lowe, in an all seriousness, may very well be the best tailback we have on the roster. He's a small kid, but he's shifty and honestly he's faster than Grant. From all I can tell, he essentially brings everything that Grant brings to the table, but he's a bit faster.
  • The offensive line is just in shambles at the moment. Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis are still suspended, and B.J. Stabler's knees have just broken down on him again, so he's out. Mike Johnson had to move inside to play at guard, and in the meantime Chris Capps has moved back out to right tackle. A lot of football research indicates that continuity is the key to success on the offensive line, and we don't have anything near that at the moment. This whole unit is simply in disarray at the moment. And honestly it shows, we're getting pushed around big-time.
  • The defense played a very good game today. Mississippi State had a mere 215 yards of total offense today, and we held Dixon to only 3.2 yards per carry. State, as a whole, averaged only around three yards per play. Wesley Carroll was shut down, and we got a turnover. With little doubt, it was one of the best games these guys played all year.
  • The defensive line has really made improvements by leaps and bounds as the year has gone along. It was the major concern coming into the year, but it is playing well at the moment. Lorenzo Washington is developing nicely, and Brandon Deaderick has actually played really well as of late. Gilberry is playing the best football he's played to date, and Greenwood is finally healthy. This line isn't great by any stretch, but it's pretty dang good and a lot better than nearly everyone thought it would be.
  • If you recall from what I said in the Mississippi State preview, I said that this game would come down to turnovers. I said we should likely control the game with our talent / depth edge, but that MSU could knock us off if we beat ourselves with dumb turnovers. And guess what? That's exactly what happened. The team had to come into this game with the knowledge that turnovers would be the key, and despite having that drilled in their head all week, it still didn't work. We won the game in almost every statistical category, yet trailed the entire second half and ultimately lost as a result of two idiotic turnovers by Wilson. I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but this one pretty much worked out just like I said it could.
  • Expect Auburn to employ the exact same game plan that Mississippi State did. They will pound the football in the running game, and limit Cox's throws to prevent turnovers. They'll eek out a few points against our defense, and then try to win based on critical turnovers, likely coming in scenarios where Wilson cannot protect the football. That's exactly what they did last year, and they'll look to do it again this year. And rest assured they'll likely be smart enough to, as Croom did, not punt the football to Arenas. Due to great returns, we've gotten three touchdowns thus far in conference play despite having to gain only two yards to do it solely because of Arenas' big returns.
  • The bowl picture is certainly muddied now. We're going bowling, somewhere, but who knows where? If we win out and beat Louisiana-Monroe and Auburn, we likely end up in either the Peach Bowl or the Liberty Bowl. If we lose to Auburn, we're headed to either Nashville for the Music City Bowl, or Shreveport for whatever they call that bowl game these days. The loss to Mississippi State put a serious dent in our bowl projections.