Welcome to the second installment of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. Let's get to it.
I know what the title of this series is supposed to be. I'm supposed to have a Good, a Bad, and an Ugly. Let's be honest with ourselves. What good was there on Saturday? I didn't see much if anything I would consider writing about and heaping praise upon. Every facet of the game against Akron came up short. That goes from the booth to the field. Sure we had more passing yards and more total offense but those are empty stats without points behind them.
That was not the Marshall football we have grown accustomed to over the last three seasons. We were supposed to be past days like this. Right? We all thought we were just reloading this year. Sure a bump in the road here and there but an all out butt kicking? By Akron? At home?
Nothing was working. First and foremost the play of they offensive line was just atrocious. They weren't getting enough push and as the game went along so did the time in the pocket for Litton who had been beat to death in this game. Go back to the sack fumble that took the momentum. The entire line, goes to drop low and do what I assume is a cut block and fell flat on his face never touching the rusher. The rusher in a full sprint heads right at Chase who is focused on the other side of the field and then just levels Litton causing the fumble. Was that suppose to be a screen play? If so, who messed up? That was the story of the day.
There's been a lot of debate over the call. Was it or wasn't it a fumble. The problem is two fold. The language used by the official following the replay and the angles of the play. The official never should have said it was confirmed rather it just stood. There was no angle that showed the ball until it was out. Without indisputable evidence that showed the ball moving or not moving it was going stand. This was the beginning of the end.
Just a series or two I believe later was the next huge mistake. We allowed a punt to be blocked then scooped and scored. People in the stands were ragging on Vedvik for taking too long to get the ball off. From the replays I saw, once again the defenders were barely touched as they knifed right through the line. After that we were shook and they had all the momentum and confidence.
QB play didn't seem to be there. It really fell off after the sack/fumble but even before that it took Litton and the WRs a while to get a rhythm. It wasn't until Litton hit McManus on that bomb down the sideline that things started going. Even then we needed the help of penalties. After the sack/fumble I am not sure what happened. I don't want to think he was hurt and I don't want to even say he got scared. We have seen his resolve several times last season. However, his throws were high and lacked velocity. Go to the play where Byrd is streaking across the back of the end zone and Chase is rolling right. This is usually routine. The ball was way too far out in front and barely made it to the end zone before biting the dirt. Byrd tried so hard to dive for it but still couldn't get there.
The QB and the WRs were hardly ever on the same page either. He would throw deep and they would run short. He'd throw short and they'd run deep. There were several times the WRs ran to the same spots. How long have they been at these routes? Some of these guys are seniors. That stuff shouldn't be happening. Ever. Then you have the drops. Several times on key drives that would have turned the game back to us the ball bounced off of or went through the hands of the WR. One went through the hands of our guy and right into the hands of their guy for a pick. When it hits your hands there are no excuses.
The running game wasn't any better. As a whole we rushed for a whopping 114 yards. There was no threat of a running game. The defense could just go straight after Litton all day long and play the pass. Three whole yards per carry. That's not Marshall football. At least it hasn't been. Foster had 77 yards on 18 carries for 4.28 ypc and Davis had 43 yards on 12 carries for 3.58 ypc. Neither one broke a run for 20+ yards. That's disturbing. I want to say it's one game but last week against Morgan State Foster had 31 yards on 7 carries and Davis had 68 yards on 12 carries. Pittman had 85 yards on 9 carries but saw no carries against Akron? In the immortal words of Mark Snyder, "We gotta get that fixed."
The defense didn't help much either. Yes 20 points came off of turnovers but that still doesn't excuse the other 45 points they surrendered to Akron. Say that out loud. Akron scored 65 points. Akron scored 65 points against our defense. Those 65 points are the most points surrendered in regulation in the history of Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Again it was Akron accomplishing that feat. A team that had never won in Huntington. Our pass rush was basically non existent for most of the game and we couldn't cover anyone. We surrendered 11.8 yards per pass play and a 66% completion percentage. We allowed 8.5 yards per play. That's just bad. How can you not adjust to take away the slant pass? When you see the same corner getting burned deep why are you not rolling a safety over to help him? Is there no one to take his spot if he's struggling?
Here Akron's offensive scores.
1st possession was 5 plays and 1:13 off the clock.
6th possession was 7 plays and 1:58 off the clock.
7th possession was 2 plays and 21 seconds off the clock.
9th possession was 3 plays and 21 seconds off the clock.
10 possession was 7 plays and 2:53 off the clock.
11 possession was 9 plays and 2:59 off the clock.
12th possession was 9 plays and 4:09 off the clock. (FG Kicked)
So Akron had 13 possessions in this game and score on 7 of them. Only one of those scoring drives lasted over 3 minutes. Most were under 3 minutes and not one single drive had double digit plays.
One big question is why don't our DBs play the ball? They hardly if ever turn around to locate the ball to make a play on it. It led to several catches and pass interference calls. Several times our defender could have had an interception or at the very least a deflection had they just turned to locate and play the ball. A couple of those flags would have remained in the ref's pocket too.
You really have to look at the coaching in this one. We can point at players in individual situations but coaching played a huge part. Doc preached all week long leading up to this game that teams lose games they shouldn't because they don't prepare as well for these opponents. Well you could say that is exactly what happened here. Players with penalties for not being lined up correctly. Two times that burned us and none worse than on that illegal formation for the fake punt. Who knows how the game would have went had we picked that up. That's demoralizing to a defense.
Then I have to ask why defensive coordinator, Chuck Heater couldn't make adjustments to take away the slant? You can go back to Heater's first season here when we visited OHIO. Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton said after the game that watching tape of his time at Temple the slant pass was always there if you needed it. Well it was there plenty this Saturday. Why did we not adjust?
Why was our best edge rusher moved inside? There must have been a reason, what was it?
Following the game Gary Thompson was asked by Dave Wilson what he though Heater's game plan was. Thompson's response was, "To be honest with you I really have no idea." This is a senior leader on your defense and he had no idea what the defensive game plan was. How is that possible. Thompson said Heater had his mindset and they just tried to run the plays they were told.
It wasn't just Heater.
Why with nine minutes to go in third quarter down 13 points and your defense unable to make a stop do you kick a FG? What good does three points do? It was 4th and goal at their 12 yard line. We wouldn't score again the reminder of the game. What was the rationale?
I would also have to ask why we did not go to Yurachek more? He had 5 catches for 65 yards. Three of those catches for 37 of his yards came late in the game. Why are we not utilizing the TEs more in the early goings of the game. Why does it appear that there are no packages designed to get Yurachek isolated on a slower LB and get the ball in his hands to make a play. He's the best offensive weapon we have because he has the best hands and is the most consistent. Yet nothing. I don't know maybe it was to keep protection on Litton. I just think he needs to be targeted a lot more and a lot earlier. What about the two tight end “12” package?
Talk about it the GBU report below
Things have got to change quickly because Louisville is coming and they just made the #2 team in the country look helpless. I don't know if we need to make personnel changes or just maybe we were just trying to not show our hand to Louisville in these first two games but Doc, Legg, and Heater have got to come up with better strategies before Saturday or we may be seeing more records fall and not the kinds we want to see.null