First, the O-line, RBs and WRs deserve a big round of applause for a phenomenal running day. The line opened holes, the RBs found them and made defenders miss, and the WRs were downfield blocking. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Second, McGloin deserves a round of applause for throwing no interceptions while avoiding sacks. It was a very impressive day for him as well.
That said, I must temper my enthusiasm due to the level of competition played over the last three weeks during our winning streak. During our struggles after the YSU win we played teams ranked on average #19.6 for total defense and #20.4 for scoring defense. These teams give up on average just 17.72 ppg and we scored just 13 ppg against them. They are ranked on average #20.8 against the run and #46 against the pass. Only twice during that five game stretch did we rush for more than the defense's average.
The O-line failed to open holes, the RBs couldn't shake a tackle - not even an attempt by the painted stripe on the 35 yard line, and the WRs - in their few opportunities - failed to block down field. Bolden played "well for a Freshman" but was rarely stellar with his low point likely being the Illinois game when he completed just 30% of his passes for 142 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, and 2 sacks. In that game we rushed for a total of 65 yards, only slightly more than the 54 yards the week before at Iowa.
Then the three game winning streak began - was it McGloin? Personnel changes? A new game plan? Or the competition? While all may have contributed, I believe that the level of competition carried us the most, possibly followed by and Offensive line that may finally be starting to gel.
During the last three games we have averaged 36 ppg, nearly triple our average from the previous five games. We have averaged almost 200 yards per game on the ground and 241 through the air compared to 125 and 203 respectively during the prior five. But look at who we have been playing - Minn, Mich, and NW rank on average #91.67 in total defense and #83 in scoring defense (giving up 29.84 ppg), together they are #78.67 against the run and #86.67 against the pass. And while NW is slightly better than Minn and UM, it isn't significant - NW is #75 in total defense and #42 in scoring, they are #46 against the run and #100 against the pass.
So yeah, the Offense had a great game and a nice few weeks. But temper your enthusiasm as we are playing tOSU this week. They are #3 in total defense and scoring defense, #4 against the pass, and #3 against the run. They give up 13.56 ppg - better than any defense we have played to date. Likewise, I'm not ready to jump on the McGloin bandwagon. Did he ignite the offense or was it the poorer defenses that we have been playing the last couple weeks? We are bowl eligible now and Joe got to 400, IF Bolden is the guy for the future then let him finish out the year and gain some more valuable experience. IF Joe and the guys think that McGloin can lead this team for the next couple years then let him take over now because playing tOSU, MSU, and whoever we get in the bowl game (along with the extra 17 practices) will be very valuable going into 2011. Play for the future, today.