Welcome to the first installment of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. Each week I will give my review of the game and give a breakdown of what I saw good, bad and just downright ugly. This week’s game versus Morgan State didn’t really have a lot of the latter two but there was some things worth pointing out.
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There was plenty of good to go around in the first half. There were more than enough oohs and ahhs to go around from Litton dropping absolute dimes to Hunt, McMANus’ (yes the caps were on purpose) catch, to all the hard hitting going on, on the defensive side of the ball.
First let’s just take a second to look back at the performance of the passing game. Yes the opponent was probably one of the worst we have ever seen grace the field of the Joan but we finally got to see Litton and the outside WRs on the same page and dropping absolute dimes all over the field. Clark had only two catches but they were for deep TDs, McManus finally looked like did in 2014 and even Hunt got in the mix burning his man deep reeling in a perfectly thrown over the should ball from Litton. It was definitely something special to watch. So special it vaulted Litton into another stratosphere of Herd lore. With his six TDs in the first half Litton became only the fourth Herd QB to throw six TDs in one game. I’ll give you till the end of this sentence to guess the other three. Those other three were Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich, and Rakeem Cato. The accolades just continue to pile up for the sophomore QB.
Other players were on the receiving end of some of those Litton Dimes. Josh Knight made an early appearance and who knew Ryan Yurachek had those wheels. He took a short pass, turned up field, and left everyone in the dust. We also got to see Emanuel Byrd in the mix catching several balls and a nice TD as well. If I recall correctly from the call by Steve Cotton Byrd had all of 19 catches last season. He should be well on his way to surpassing that.
One other note on the offensive side was yet another milestone for Doc Holliday. With Tony Pittman’s third quarter TD that gave Doc his fifteenth 50+ point game moving him into first all-time as a Herd coach passing Pruett’s mark of fourteen. The impressive part is a majority of those games have come over the last five seasons.
The other side of the ball provided us with a lot of good as well. Sure the shutout was awesome but man the hitting they put on display impressive. Everyone from Cody Carter to Davon Durant got in on the action. I can’t remember seeing that many bone jarring hits in one game. They were really head hunting out there. All that speed, athleticism, and strength built by new our new S&C coach was on full display. I’ll say this I truly believe Durant is going to end several players’ seasons. That hit he put on their starting QB was one of the hardest hits I’ve witnessed in the Joan. I didn’t think the QB was going to be able to get up. It’s not just downhill with Durant either. He was knocking helmets off going sideline to sideline. Then you had Corey Neely out there knocking them around and even forcing a fumble that turned into a recovery TD by George Davis. That return by the way broke a 94 year record for longest fumble recovered for a TD in Herd history going 95 and some say 96 yards. Not sure if that is a CUSA record or not. Speaking of Davis. Does that kid not look like he has an extremely bright future. Another impressive newcomer we heard a lot from was Ty Tyler. Man he was all over the place and his speed off the edge is right there with Gary Thompson. With his fumble recovery TD marks the first time since the Buffalo game in 2002 that the Herd posted two fumbles recovered for a TD. Not sure where two first time players would rank. I’m sure even on a national level it’s been a long time.
The newcomers are going to provide us with a lot of great highlights for sure.
In my opinion it’s the running game. Sure the total output was good but against a deplorable front seven that got ran all over by Holy Cross we only saw one long run and that was by Tony Pittman in the third quarter. You would have thought with all the hype surrounding the OLine this offseason and the return of Clint Van Horn we would have seen gaping holes a la FAU in 2014 when Devon Johnson went ham on their defense rushing for a single game record. Instead the first two back of the evening (Hyleck Foster, Keion Davis) just nickel and dimed their way down the field failing to reach pay dirt one time. Think about who we played then say that out loud. Sure we were dropping bombs on their defense but we didn’t see either our #1 or #2 running back break away from the defense. I also was not impressed by Anthony Anderson. I had heard in camp that he liked to dance a lot before hitting his hole and it showed. Sure they were loading the box because everyone knew he was getting it to run clock but as soon as he gets the ball he starts juking instead of just running ahead.
In my opinion Tony Pittman needs to see a lot more carries as we go forward. He gets to the edge faster and then turns up field. He’s like a throwback to Ahmad Bradshaw. He runs angry and gets north and south in a hurry. Just think back to the Kent State game last year. I think Foster has a lot of talent and speed but he doesn’t come off very patient. It’s like he’s looking for the homerun every play instead of just taking what is there and he gets into trouble. I think Davis is solid and deserves carries but I do not see him as a feature back.
There’s going to have to be an improvement going forward because the competition is going to get a lot tougher in a hurry. If we are going to beat Louisville and Pitt that running game is going to be just as potent as it’s ever been because Litton is going to need the support. The defense will have to be kept honest because as great as he and the receiving corp played this past Saturday they aren’t going to playing DBs that bad ever again.
The kicking game was awful. Curraj had two illegal kicks out of bounds, a missed extra point (we had made something like 145 straight), and a terribly missed field goal. That just can’t happen. That kind of kicking is going to cost us two maybe three games this season. It has got to get rectified. Whether that is with a change at place kicker I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it. Curraj has tremendous power but he has little to no accuracy.
Another link to the GBU Discussion below
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