At the Halfway Mark
Although it is
still a few furlongs until the final stretch, this bye week is a convenient
spot to take stalk of where we stand. It
goes without saying that the most important observation is
Looking Back at the First Turn
We know the
Broncos are capable of performing at extremely high levels. From an expectations management point-of-view,
Beyond this, we
know we can't just mail it in. We don't
have to be reminded about UTEP and BYU.
No disrespect for UTEP, but I never feared
Z has performed admirable in place of the all-time D-I leader in passing efficiency. He needs to take better care of the ball – but when I was a sophomore I needed to take better care of my beer. We all spill a little at that age. His efficiency rating is 155 and he's completing 66% of his balls. He's proven to be quite elusive with the exception of the BYU pass rush, and made some nice runs. I'd be pleased if Sanford saw a bit more playing time in case we need him somewhere along the way, but I'm in no hurry if SMU is any indication (for the record, I think Sanford was actually impersonated by the same guy who pretended to be Favre in OT of that Eagles playoff game last year – but enough of the conspiracy theories).
I must admit I
was no doubt spoiled by what seemed like an almost endless streak of
interception-free games by RD. OK, I
exaggerate, but as a team
While a few too many balls are being caught by the wrong jerseys, not many others are hitting the ground. Did you realize that 17 Broncos have actually caught a pass, or that at least 8 different guys have caught a ball in every game, or that we average 10 receivers a game? We expected good production from T.J. Acree, and figured Lawrence Bady was due to break out, but Drisan James has probably achieved more to this point than I would have ever guessed (in case you didn't realize, he leads the team in both catches and yards). We need Schouman to get healthy and when he's in there we need to get him the ball more.
The Fantasy Football aficionados amongst us probably hate the running back by committee, but this is a pretty impressive stable of Broncos. The backs have run on people like a public track, breaking 200 yards 3 times and getting 4.1 on average. Marks is getting 4.5 yards at a whack and Carter has been solid with 5 TD. Q is shocking with his speed – I wish he'd get a few more carries. I hope Brad Lau can hold onto his fingers. (Sorry, I couldn't resist "pointing" that out. Really, that's it for my "index" of finger jokes.)
The O-Line has done a good job all the way around. There have been good holes to run through and good time to throw. The penalties have been at a minimum. They've come together as a unit and have good depth.
The most obvious
place to begin is with the secondary.
With due credit to Mike Hass (OSU) and Todd Watkins (BYU), I doubt
either will suit up for my fantasy league team on Sundays (of course I've shown
the intellect of a slug in this department, so I might need to rethink this
point). Seriously, they torched the
secondary. Molotoved! 5 alarm fires! I'll go on the record to say that if
Linebackers? Three words – Res Ipsa Loquitur. "The Thing Speaks for Itself." I had to Google that one. Korey Hall may very well be the best Bronco to ever line up on this side of the ball – 3 picks (oh, those glorious OSU picks) and the lone fumble recovery. Andy Avalos has been solid. You've got to love it when your linebackers lead the team in tackles (Hall, 39 and Avalos, 35). Throw in Colt Brooks (17 tackles) and any daylight being seen is pretty much Sunday morning. 6 sacks for this group. I won't diminish their accomplishments by droning on. Res Ipsa Loquitur.
The D-Line has done a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage. The Bronco "D" is surrendering less than 100 yards a game and have allowed only 14 total first downs on the ground. Opponents have only converted 20 of 68 third downs. That pretty much starts with the D line – don't give up a lot rushing on 1st downs, then don't give a lot of time to pass on 3rd downs. The depth has been impressive as the d-line has rotated through several guys.
Broncos need to force more turnovers. 3
forced fumbles and 1 recovery simply won't get it done. The 7 total picks is really obscured by
Hall's 3 against OSU (oh, those glorious OSU picks; sorry, I repeat myself).
exceptional special teams play which says a lot because we've grown pretty
accustomed to great special teams play (that Gilligan kid wasn't exactly a
pushover!). Carr has been outstanding on kick returns, our kicking game has
been excellent, and the coverage has been great. We'll have to see how
The score is two
punt returns for a TD to one seriously shanked FG. By the way, much was written following the FG
about the line surge. I don't mean to
burst anyone's bubble, but go watch that spot on iVision. It occurs at the 1 hour and 3 minute mark of
the second section of the iVision replay. (When you load it, push the bar all the way to
the right to go through the first 2+ hours of the game. Then, on the second section, push forward to ).
Succinctly, the OL has not been pushed back much more than a yard when
Payne makes contact. While there is a
blur as guys jump from the backfield, it would be extremely unlikely that they
rattled Payne. There's even a replay
angle from the backside, and I just don't see where our push could have
distracted him. You can be your own
judge – that's just my opinion. One
other thing, it appears on replay that ball was still going up when it gets to
the goalposts – that might have gone from 70 had it been straight. As it was, it was wide and the Broncos are
still alive. "Somehow the Broncos
shockingly still have the lead." "I
can't believe we just saw that." (Thanks
to Paul J and
teams for you. I think
On to the 2nd half
So where do the
Broncos go from here? Hopefully
After which, there's
a smarting Fresno State team who's not pleased about the La Tech loss or the
3-in-a-row the Broncos have hung on them.
This is almost the reverse of 2001.
But Pinegar looked pretty mortal at the end of that La Tech game and I
don't need to remind anyone about their last trip to the Blue (something about
RD coming in with 10 to go in the 2nd and hanging 400+ and 5 TD's on
them). Permit me a small diversion here,
but I'm guessing RD can move the Dolphins offense about as well as Fiedler and
Feeley combined. I'm sure he and Brock
can't do worse than the roulette wheel of a backfield they've got right
The week after is
Then the Broncos
get a week off before the
Louisiana Tech visits
the week thereafter. The Moats kid looks
like the real deal right now. He ran for
81 and 97 on
In short, peril abounds. Danger around every corner. But there is talent enough to run the board. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
One last word, I
want to go on record now. No matter how
unpopular this is, if
And down the stretch they come…It looks like, the Broncos by a nose.