The View From Section 241 | The Boneyard

The View From Section 241

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Well, the Coach P era is underway. A day and a half late, and without answering a lot of questions, but underway with a W. While there may have been fewer people in the building than we've had since moving into the Rent, given the combination of the change of date, the Holiday weekend, the opponent and what people had dealt with at their homes this week I thought everyone did a good job of getting their butts to their seats. That was the perfect storm of factors against attendance, and the building didn't look empty once people got in. Crowd wasn't enthusiastic at all, but when you play a noon game in high 80s weather against a I-AA opponent following a hurricane, it is was what you would expect. I hope for a much more enthusiastic crowd in two weeks, but I don't doubt we'll have one. A huge, less convenient gray lot was open, but for reasons known only to management they were keeping people from using the grey spaces closer to the stadium. I pulled in to the better spaces (don't know how, and someone yelled at me in spanish) at 10, and was 4 rows from the stadium, but no one ever followed me there. Weird. But, parking patterns switch, and I'm sure it will be worked out. Stadium looked great. Good to be back. I'll leave it to others to comment on the game experience changes. Frankly, I don't care a lot. I watch the football. When there is a break, I'm browsing looking at the stats or other scores.

What did we learn about the team yesterday? Not a lot frankly. The opponent was so overmatched, and you got the feeling that we were playing very vanilla, so I really don't think we learned anything about whether the team is better or worse than you might have thought. We'll know a lot more Saturday night. Overall, the D was impressive until Jerome Junior missed the tackle on the long pass (again -- I had hoped never to be typing that this year), and the O was much less impressive. Not enough happened on specials to say much. So, instead of focusing on the team, the rest of the report will just make notes about individual players and substitution patterns that you wouldn't know if you didn't follow the game.

On offense, Sr. Gary Barkzak got the start at LG, but I did see Steve Green get some run with the 1s there as well, so that battle may not be over. Other than that, the line didn't change until the end, when I saw Jimmy Bennett and Gus Cruz in. If Bullock and Brown got in (the remaining backup OLs), I didn't see it. All 6 WRs -- the Moores, Nick Williams, Jones and Davis and then Abrams -- played with the 1s (Abrams only a little in a spread goalline package). They will never have so much room to run patterns in again, so I'm not drawing any conclusions yet. At QB, McEntee proved to me he can make the short and intermediate throws, but here is my problem with him -- our WRs are not great, and don't necessarily have the ability to get open quickly. Can we win with a QB who can't buy some time getting outside of the p0cket? I'm not sure we can. And that is my guess as to why the coaches are still giving Nebrich time. He is probably further from being ready yet, but it may be that getting over .500 in conference may require what only he can bring. As for McCummings, but for the overturned fumble (it was first and goal from the 2 -- if you trip tuck it in and go down -- no time to be a hero), I'm sure we'll see him no matter who wins the job but to me that was just Tiquan Underwood from Rutgers. I like having QBs who can run, but they have to be QBs who can run, not just runners, and I'm not sure he is yet. At FB, Hinckley started but Ruben Frank may have gotten as many, or even more snaps. I saw Frank got run over by a LB on a blitz -- something I never remember happening to a UConn FB. McCombs showed he was ready to contribute, but don't read too much into that performance. What we really learned is how far he was ahead of JJL, who mostly came in when we played McCummings as part of a wilddog package. When Foxx played as the #3, it showed that the coaches already determined that they can't go this year without him.

On D, we saw plenty of subbing at DT but very little of the backup DEs. Marcus Campblell, until mop up time, played sparingly, and McBride, the 4th in Joseph's absence, not until mop up time. To get Stephen and Wirth snaps, they often moved Reyes to DE to give blows to Trevardo and Ted Jennings (who I thought played very well in what I think was his first start). At LB, while Ashiru and Vann were listed as backups, they did not play specials (as back up LBs do) or get in during mop up time, so we should assume the coaches want them to keep their redshirts unless there are injuries or the starters don't get it done. We saw a second unit of Kenney, Opoku and Osiecki, and saw much of Steg on specials. At DB, we saw each of Jones, Tymeer Brown and Wilburn play with the 1s on various nickel and dime coverages.

Not a good day from Cole Wagner punting. Chad Christen started well on kickoffs but faded in the heat. The snapping was perfect. The gunners on punts were Blidi and, surprisingly, David Kenney. The kickoff coverage was strange. All the beef was on one side of the ball, and all the speed on the other. Christen then has to kick it to the beefy side. I've never seen a team do it that way and am a little converned we're going to get blown up by a wedge against a better opponent. Congrats to walk-on RS Frosh Alex Kantor, who made his way onto the field for specials. Others not on the two deep playing specials included DBs Brandon and Lopes and LB Opoku.

So that's it. The glorified scrimmage is done. A real game, albeit against a not strong opponent, comes next week. I hope we don't wait two months to give our best effort on the road, as we did last year. I hope we get to see DJ. And I'm not at all concerned if we keep the QB competition open for another week. If you have to pick for the season now it's Johnny Mc, and he will be o.k., but I think our lack of other offensive playmakres makes it important we give Nebrich every chance to win the job for a while longer.
 
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Once again, better than anything offered by the Connecticut newspapers.

Great analysis of the QB position. Given what we saw, that seems to makes sense but who knows? Very strange game, in the long run, probably in the short run as well, we learned nothing.
 
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Ted Jennings is really underrated. Very intense, high motor guy, who can hold his own at the point of attack.

And it was great to see the long snapping was good. I was very worried about that aspect after losing such a great long snapper.
 
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That's a very good perspective on the QBs and I suspect very accurate.

This was little more than a controlled scrimmage and this will sound silly given that we ran for over 200 yards. But, I was very unimpressed with the run game. McCombs was pretty pedestrian in the second half and I don't think there is any way he holds up over the course of a season against better competition at 20+ carries a game. We had better hope DJ comes through.

The offense in general is a head scratcher for me. Lots of different sets and we're running the option as well. That's a lot of offense to master and it suggests to me that the coaches do not believe we have the playmakers outisder of running numerous offenses.

Great to be back. Met my crew just before game time and used the extra time to watch the band practice. Kids do a fabulous job.
 
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To echo what Uconndogs said, I think McCombs will be very effective, if they keep his touches to 12-15 a game. I love that he doesn't just look to bounce it outside and can run right up the gut. But he will be more effective with another back complementing him. Hopefully DJ can come back 100 % soon.

The one thing I came away with on offense is that Griffin is going to be a beast, and will be the leading receiver for the team. Deleone likes to use his tight ends, and Griffin is going to benefit.
 

hardcorehusky

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Did see Gilbert St. Louis in there as well.

Also, the offense was conservative and I think it was because Coach P did not want to show much. McCummings TD pass was set up by the previous plays where he kept or pitched the ball in the option. Well designed.

I walked away wishing we would redshirt Nebrich- he has something but a year to watch and learn would be good. McCummings will learn from the overturned fumble - I like the contrast between he and Johnny Mac - who threw the short and intermediate balls well but hung up a long ball that should have been a TD. He has the arm and will get better. The other thing I walked away with is that we have a better passing game then last year.

Lyle M had a pedestrian 141 yards. No broken tackles- waits to set up blocks but could be waiting too long. We need DJ. Also, Foxx is really fast and I liked what I saw from him. I would like to see him redshirt- but you never know with injuries.
 
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Good observations.

I thought McCombs had a very good game. I like that he keeps his feet moving and runs downhill. You could see in the second half that he became a little more comfortable and was more patient waiting for his blocks (too patient on one play). He does not have the straight-ahead speed I thought he'd have. It's his first live game and he's feeling out what he can and can't do physically. In his limited carries, Foxx definitely looked to have more of a burst. Between those two, DJ and JJL we should be fine.

The o-line was just okay, not their best day. Foley will have them in shape soon enough.

I was happy with the WR's. It's amazing how much better their hands are when they're thrown a catchable ball. I think it's a problem that the QB rotation hinders the comfort level between the QB's and the WR's.

QB was a dead heat. There is no way McEntee makes it through the season without any semblance of mobility, so I like the fact that both McEntee and Nebrich had some good opportunities to throw the ball. I think McCummings can be effective in small doses, but rumors of fumblitis followed by the goalline miscue make me a little nervous.

DL and LB's were great. Sio Moore breaking up passes 20 yards downfield - are you kidding me? Seriously, the kid might just be the total package as an OLB. Jory and Smallwood both looked the part.

Secondary had its moments. Agbor got burned on a long pass and still has not watched a form tackling video.

Specials were not special.

Kudos to Fordham's punter and their DE #90.
 
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I really couldn't agree with the original post any more. Perfect summary of the QB's.
 
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I actually had a view from Section 241 for the first time and I was very appreciative of the shade later in the game. Beyond that observation, I agree with the view from Section 241.
 

ShakyTheMohel

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Great anaylsis of the QB situation BL. Watching the game on TV you don't really get a sense of how the WRs are doing. If they aren't getting much separation, then Nebrich becomes more valuable.

Thanks for the post...good read.
 
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i thought we did a nice job of executing the option offense. off the top of my head i'd say we ran 8-10 option plays with McCummings and i was surprised at how effective we were with it. granted it's against Fordham, but our opponents will have to spend some time preparing for it, and we may be able to occasionally exploit a team that really struggles against it.
 
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McCombs is slow to hit the hole. He slides instead of stepping through. Probably worked in high school and it worked for the most part against Fordham....won't work again. But he is. RS Frosh so he will learn. I thought he was solid but not great. I liked what I saw from Geremy Davis...a lot.
 
C

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Maybe you are correct that McCummings isn't ready yet - as you said we did not learn a great deal Saturday. But, I really like McCummings upside. McEntee does have a nice touch if he has time - when the speed of the game picks up - we will see if he also has a fastball. Good QB's need both.
 
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Nice analysis, but I'm not as worried about JMac's ablity to stand in there. I'm more concerned about the RB's and FB's blocking in the passing game. One thing about our D should make us feel good. Against Fordham our D line ran none of their stunts nor did we unleash our blitz packages and didn't shift back and forth from 4-3 to 3-4 like we'll occasionally be doing in the future. "We showed them (Vandy) nothing" I was told by someone in the know. Look for a much more animated and aggressive D in the games to come.
 

ZooCougar

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I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling with this team. The defense is clearly good. But the offense scares me. I am not as impressed with McCombs as others. This team gives me the same vibe that the 2005 team gave me.
 
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This was a good game to give a lot of inexperienced players some confidence.......acknowledging it was against a weak team.
I'm glad all three QB's got a chance. Better that having three inexperienced QB's. Things will get tougher......but they will be less "nervous" or "scared" to do anythingas we go foward which could have happened if this was last year against Michigan.
This team reminds me of the childhood story of the "little engine that could".......making a climb up a mountain saying "I think I can....I think I can" ........certainly a lot better than coming away thinking "I can't"
Some of the concepts shown were intersting and I think I'll like PP's game planning and coaching strategy. Yes, there is still a lot to figure out, but he wasn't afraid to let a number of athletes to "show him their potential"
For me its way to soon to critique the players, especially after one game against a weak team. I expected mistakes, and there were some I saw and some I missed. There will be mistakes going forward.......maybe the whole season....but in general I feel good about PP and the confidence he showed in a lot of inexperience.
The play calling was simple.....so what. He didn't have to open the phone book sized play book against Fordam. I did like that the ball was thrown downfield. If anything, whether successful or not, it will back up the defenses against UConn when they recognize they will have to consider something more than run, run, run, and run again.

Saw something in paper I didn't realize watching the game......only 3 penalties?

I can't translate all my gibberish into W's or L's at this time, only suggesting that I like what looked like a trend towards a different gametime philosophy, even if it only showed chapter one of the playbook.
 
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Thank you BL for a GREAT post. It's just a first game. No major mistake that I can see. We could have lost and blamed the new players, system and coaches. The team WILL get better every week as the players get more acclimated to the new coaches and systems and each other. UP and UP we go !!!
 
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I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling with this team. The defense is clearly good. But the offense scares me. I am not as impressed with McCombs as others. This team gives me the same vibe that the 2005 team gave me.
I can see the similarities with 2005 because of the uncertainty at QB/RB, but 2005 was our worst offensive line in our 10 years of 1A existence. Our defense is also leaps and bounds better.
McCombs passed the first test. His top-end speed is what it is. We'll find out this week whether he has BCS-level shiftiness. I think his instincts will kick in as he gets more comfortable. Some posters had concerns with him not hitting the hole at top speed. I watched the some of Todman's second(?) NFL game and noted that he was really tentative hitting the hole. By the end of the third quarter/early fourth quarter he was running harder and looked more confident. Hopefully McCombs will make similar progress. Tough to say, but the expectation was that he'd be sharing time with 2/3 other RBs so we should not need him to carry the load for us.
 
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In 2005, we had less talent up and down the roster than our opponents. Many couldn't accept that, because having an NFL QB the prior few years had masked that. But, accepted or not, it was true.

We are not less talented than our opponents any more, and, while we lack experience at the skill positions, I don't know that we don't have similar talent there as well.

As opposed to the 06 team, the 05 team played up to its potential. If this team plays as hard and smart overall as the '05 team did, we will be fine.
 
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The 05 and 06 teams were not nearly as talented on the OL and DL. Not even in the same ballpark. That said, I thought the 05 defense was very solid overall. And as much as we gripe about our QB play over the past several years, the QB play we had in 05 and 06 was simply no where near BCS caliber. Say what you want about Tyler, but the single biggest statistical improvement made by the 07 team was at the QB position.

I still maintain that this years team will go through some mighty struggles on offense this season, but there is enough overall talent to win some games and get to a bowl. One of these QBs jells, and the next couple of years could be a lot of fun.
 
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The left side of the offensive line missed a couple blocking assignments (which lead to a sack) and I'm sure they are gonna get an earful from coaches Foley and Deleone. The defense did what they were supposed to do but got lazy for a bit in the second half which cost them a field goal. McCombs needs to bulk up a bit. He should have scored on that breakaway run to the left side in the first half. He should have been able to fight off that last tackle attempt. It would be nice if Nebrich could red shirt(and probably would have if Box stayed) but that's not going to happen. Your going to need 3 on the depth chart at that position because McEntee is going to get flattened back there if he doesn't learn how to move.

The thing I was impressed with the most was the play calling on offense. Already you can see that Deleone is going to keep defenses guessing which just might give McEntee that one extra second he's going to need back there. I didn't like the amount of time it took to switch out QB's and get the ball snapped but I believe Coach P addressed that in his post game comments. Hey.... it's going to be a work in progress this year but hopefully they get their sea legs before W. Virginia. One thing is for sure.... we have the best coaching staff in the conference. Let the Pasqualoni Era begin!
 

FfldCntyFan

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I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling with this team. The defense is clearly good. But the offense scares me. I am not as impressed with McCombs as others. This team gives me the same vibe that the 2005 team gave me.

I wish you hadn't said that but I do happen to agree (but see more of 2006 than 2005). I remember being ridiculed for complaining about our defense after the URI game (we gave up too many yards, big plays, appeared sloppy too often and seldom looked dominant) because giving up only a field goal (evidently in the eyes of some) was sufficient to claim a geat defensive effort.

I am an optimist and I want the best for this team (and believe that we have the talent to be a very good defense against high level competition and dominant over most of our scheduled opponents. Unfortunately I saw little on Saturday that would reinforce my preseason opinion. I am hopeful that we intentionally left most of the defensive playbook on the shelf for this game but even playing a base (4-3-4) defense all game 9save about a half dozen third and longs), we should have performed far better.
 
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The 05 and 06 teams were not nearly as talented on the OL and DL. Not even in the same ballpark. That said, I thought the 05 defense was very solid overall. And as much as we gripe about our QB play over the past several years, the QB play we had in 05 and 06 was simply no where near BCS caliber. SaIf y what you want about Tyler, but the single biggest statistical improvement made by the 07 team was at the QB position.

I still maintain that this years team will go through some mighty struggles on offense this season, but there is enough overall talent to win some games and get to a bowl. One of these QBs jells, and the next couple of years could be a lot of fun.

What I have seen from Nebrich so far, would take him over Bones and DJ and Tyler. JMac throws the ball better than any QB since 04 and would take him over Zach or Box, so if he keeps starting job (must mean he isn't getting sacked or intercepted a lot) over Nebrich the O should be at least average. I would consider last years team as having mighty struggles on offense. We did only score 10 on a Michigan defense that gave up a zillion points and got only 16 against Temple. Didn't exactly offense USF to submission. Special teams and D scored 8 TDs; offense scored 30; so 20+%of TDs were not from offense. If D plays like think can, Uconn is a BCS game contender again, even top 20 team. Think 2 loses might win league again, going to be hard to run table or just one loss. Not one team in BE is a gimmee. Will be surprised if any BE team has zero or 1 league win.
 
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No one is going through the Big East undefeated this year. Sharing a title at 5-2 is possible, but so is someone going 6-1.
 
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No one is going through the Big East undefeated this year. Sharing a title at 5-2 is possible, but so is someone going 6-1.

Not true. According to RutgersAl, Rutgers runs the table. I don't think you can find a more unbiased opinion than that. :)
 
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