I know that there will be a lot of excellent front page posts this week from the staff of this site about the Temple game. They'll undoubtedly dive deeper into analysis and statistics than I can hope to. I just wanted to put down a few things I noticed on Saturday as it was the first time I saw the team live this year. This will likely end up being rather random and be a bit difficult to follow, so I apologize in advance.
Overall, I was incredibly happy with the way the team played on Saturday. I thought there was a much more cohesive approach to the play calling. I also thought that despite BO'B's reserved demeanor, he brings an energy and intensity to the sidelines that I hadn't seen translated well on television. During some of the more egregious penalties, he made his disapproval known while screaming at the refs. It was also great to see several coaches on the staff making their disapproval obvious as well. I believe it was John Butler, the secondary coach, who was the most animated and it was great to see that energy. Everyone on this staff seems to be giving it their all.
Despite my #FireTedRoof opinions, I saw a lot of things I liked with his defensive scheme. This was the first time I saw misdirection applied in regards to bringing pressure. There was one play in particular where Mauti was showing pressure from the right, and Roof brought a safety blitz from the left while Mauti dropped into coverage. Had the QB held onto the ball for 1 second longer, it would've been a definite sack and likely fumble. While I saw some positives, there were also a few things that still concern me. Our secondary is still allowing a lot of open space and opportunities for big gains. There were some missed coverage assignments that could have burned us. Some were seen, some weren't. Also, he brings too much pressure around the edges. On the safety blitzes, it seemed that every time they came around the outside. By the time they made it into the backfield, the back would have cut up the field, leaving a thin defense to stop him. I'm all for the added pressure, but it seemed like the only thing the safety blitzes accomplished were to take the safeties entirely out of the play.
Full disclosure: I've never been much of a McGloin fan. I think he has the potential to do great things, but his attitude gets in his way. After his first rushing TD in which Zordich basically dominated the drive, McGloin took his helmet off, raised it to the crowd and walked off the field basking in his glory. It was entirely an individual thing. He walked off the field by himself, and then walked along the crowd alone. That is my biggest criticism about him and I think hurts him far more than any physical shortcomings. He has an ego and a "me first" mentality that often times puts a QB at odds with his team. Also, McGloin has happy feet (that aren't in rhythm), which takes him longer to release the ball. There were several opportunities where the receiver was about to separate from coverage but the ball came out 1-2 seconds later. He needs to get the ball out quicker. If he can get rid of the ball faster, it will elevate our passing game from good to great. He also needs to start looking off defenders. When he has his mind made up he's going deep, he stares down his receiver the entire time. This results in double and sometimes triple coverage that he throws into. If he would learn to look off a defender, he'd be able to get Robinson in 1-on-1 coverage and he'd have a lot more success with deep passes. He has a good arm for them, but he makes poor decisions on when and who to throw to. Now that I've been overly critical of him, he is a very consistent QB who has the ability to make all the throws he needs to be very successful. That's what's so frustrating. The potential he has is evident, but he shoots himself in the foot sometimes.
Finally, there are no superlatives that you can't use to describe Mauti and Zordich. They are phenomenal, both on and off the field. They're leaders on the field and on the sideline. They give it all they have every play and they strive to make everyone around them better. They are responsible for keeping this team together and epitomize Success with Honor. We're incredibly fortunate that during such a difficult time, we had not one, but two men who know they can take on the world and win every time. They will always have my gratitude and support.
A couple side notes: Dukes was on the kickoff team as well as Zordich. I know we're limited in depth, but risk mitigation makes me want to not have them both out there on every kickoff. Not sure why Dukes isn't seeing time at RB, but he's on special teams. Also, the officiating was horrible. It was great to see that whenever we were met with adversity, we overcame it and never let the momentum get away from us. I see a lot of potential for this team both this year and in the future. There may have been a lot of changes, but the highest compliment I can give O'Brien is that when the dust settles, there will be no change. We will still see the same success both on and off the field from our players that we have come to expect.