I have not looked at any posts on the Thunder message boards so far, so here goes.
Man, was I a bundle of nerves throughout the game!
First off, hats off to UC Davis for an excellent game plan and execution. The played great, and I'm actually sorry for their fans that they lost (although I'm happier that we somehow won that game).
We Spartans fans have been on the other side of the coin the past couple of years, nearly knocking off Boise in 2006 and Hawaii last season until those teams' late-game, clutch heroics.
I was a lot more nervous about this game than most because the first game of the season is always really tough. You just don't know quite what to expect. Still, I thought that at some point during the game, our guys would start to take over and dominate. Didn't really happen.
The defense overall, I thought did an admirable job because they were out on the field way too long. Surprisingly, of the 3 "new guys" (Schweiger, Francies, and Reed), I thought that Schweiger would flat out dominate but looked somewhat ordinary, although his fumble recovery was awesome because he showed his extreme quickness toward getting to the ball, moving over 20 yards to finally corral it.
Francies is a stud, good coverage guy and I think he hits like a safety. He's not afraid to step up and hit RBs, that's for sure.
Something I was very worried about, did not want to post it on the board before the game, but unfortunately came true, was Eden's performance.
Eden not turning over the ball at all during spring and fall was such a focus by Tomey and the coaching staff made me wonder if Eden could;
1. not turn the ball over in his first start, and 2. if he did turn it over, how he'd respond.
It wasn't pretty.
Our O-line right now looks like a mess and the linemen overall don't look in sync yet. However, playing primarily without a TE in 4 and 5 wide sets, their blocking assignments have to be perfect to allow the WRs to get down the field and allow the QB time to throw.
The kicking game, yuk. I hope that was first-game nerves and that it gets rectified immediately. No long KO returns or punt returns, though, so that's an improvement so far from last season. I'd like to know why Andrew Ryan called the team's last timeout on that punt, though.
Thankfully, Zavala got the punt off and got what I thought was a very generous spot at the 15-yd line.
Well, onto something positive. I think we know who our QB is, and I don't mind that it took a very scary first game to show it. Kyle Reed, at least for one game, showed me that he's a leader of men.
I'm waiting for a future game, and an ESPN highlight with Stuart Scott saying, "Kyle Reed, as cool as the other side of the pillow." I was excited when he came into the game in the 3rd quarter, and I'm glad his first pass was not picked off.
I was talking with spartadave about waiting for him to run and get hit so that he'd get into the game. That happened on Reed's second play and he seemed very focused after that. The last drive, with no timeouts and Davis' defense controlling most of the game up to that point, was a thing of beauty.
As much as I liked AT while he was here, Reed's last minute heroics was something I haven't seen since Mike Perez. Everything about that last drive is what I've dreamed about seeing a Spartan QB do:
1. Get out there on the field knowing that he's going to win the game.
2. A dual-threat, run and pass QB who runs on the first play for 9 yards, just enough to make the D think twice about whether to blitz him.
3. Taking what the D gives him, finding Jurovich on a short throw to get the first down and stop the clock.
4. But then, next play, forcing the ball down the field and taking a shot, finding Jurovich for 37 yards (he almost scored if not for a very good tackle by UC Davis). The difference between a good QB and a great QB is this play. The great ones smell blood and go for it. What a great throw, looked like a Favre bullet.
5. On third down, he got sacked but knew that there was plenty of time left to run a fourth-down play, getting up quickly, not panicking, and getting the team set at the line of scrimmage (very, very important), knowing that he still had one more play to win the game.
6. Finding his best receiver (Jurovich) when it matters most for the TD.
Still, on Sunday morning I feel as though we lost the game. Something that made me take pause was looking at the box score of the Cal Poly-San Diego State game last night. Fortunately, that was the IAA upset and not our game.
They (whoever they are) say that the most improvement comes between the first game and the second game. Thing is, we could play 300% better at Nebraska next week and still lose by a sizable margin.
However, I took a look at Nebraska's box score vs. Western Michigan, and it appears that Nebraska mostly got it done through the air. I think that plays to our strength. I think our DBs and safeties have a reasonable chance to get some things done if Nebraska throws a lot.
I saw a lot of our players go down last night and I haven't checked the injury report yet. Hopefully it was mostly cramps due to the warm temperatures.
Onward to Lincoln, Nebraska!