Another Take on the Offense
I am not as high on Soza’s performance as either Dan McCarney, or Jared. It isn’t that I don’t recognize the the situation that Eric was in an expected something outstanding when an average performance would be satisfactory. No, I had no problems with his accuracy. Leadership and the ability to manage fellow freshman doesn’t have much to do with not throwing the ball into the ground. In fact — just to be the a-hole here — it can be argued that leading a team of peers is not as mammoth of an ordeal as commanding the respect of guys who have been to Rose Bowls and National Championships a la Colt McCoy or something. Granted, this is a totally different scenario but so is the situation in Akron and Louisiana Tech.
I don’t want to diminish the guy’s season but merely put look at it for what it was. He did an commendable job considering he had an unsettled line. Both he and the running backs would have benefited from more experience up front. That must be considered. Also, I have to give weight to Travis Bush’s comments. He knows what demands are placed on the quarterback in this system and how Eric Soza should run it. He knows what plays were called and the progressions he may or may not have missed.
Both Jared and I have been guilty of tossing out some easy Soza hate when he throws a terrible pass or coughs up a fumble at a most inopportune time. Afterwards we are both more levelheaded. That said, his turnovers were still pretty bad. I don’t have a problem with inconsistency in general as much as the timing and nature of his turnovers. I am not even talking about early season stuff against the likes of Southern Utah. The terrible throws in the Georgia State on? Those are what stand out.
Hitting the ground on a slant, swing, and screen –especially wide-open stuff is scary. That is what holds me back from giving all gold stars here. I’m hoping the wideouts and newness of the system and lack of confidence in the line is what made him short his throws but I can’t help but feel that is a bit too generous. It doesn’t matter too much, now though. Everyone has plenty of time to improve on all that stuff. Hopefully Soza isn’t so entrenched that he feels overconfident and Simmons, Polite, and Conque give him a run for his position. It’ll do everyone some good.
I was looking forward to some magic from these guys. We did get some, but not from Chris Johnson, David Glasco, nor the other guys. Instead it was Evil Evans Okotcha. This isn’t terribly unusual in college ball. You hear about a heralded class and think you have a stable of studs when only one or two do anything if at all. There are many reasons for this ranging from guys not fitting in with the system, not adjusting, mis-evaluation of talent, or bad luck. Hell, sometimes it just takes time.
I like what we have here at the end though. This position is fickle and a handful of guys similarly talented isn’t a bad thing especially in this offense. The multiplicity means you don’t need a workhorse nor a feature guy (though Bush seems to want one). Having a two-back system a a Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown or a Reggie Bush and Lendale White. I like Evans as a power guy and Brandon Armstrong as a speedy changeup. Brandon was an awesome threat on swings and out of the spread. Oklahoma used to kill teams with those passes to Demarco Murray (among other things). I can live with Glasco, Johnson, Williams and any other guy spelling them until they figure out whatever they need to figure out in and out of the Alamodome.
I figure Bush wants a feature back so he can do everything he wants to do on offense. That means a guy that motion out to the slot and also blow someone up on a blitz. Every team in the nation wants that, too.
Wide Receiver and TEs
There isn’t much to add here. Kam Jones was beastly. Some guys had drops and there were a couple bright spots. Wideout is so dependent on the line and quarterback that it is hard to rate them objectively. As much as I like Kam, I’d like to see the ball spread around more organically than via formations and swapping roles. That is more a philosophical question that I’ll get to later.
Also, David Morgan made some nice catches.
Really, we should have started with these guys as the entire operation’s success is tied to them. As mentioned, this was gigantic question mark entering the year. Travis Bush (admittedly) played it close to the vest early in the year. Short passes and safe runs saved everyone. The big guys did good and might have prevented disaster on a number of occasions. The running game struggled as they all do when manned by young, smallish lines. A better line (as these guys improve and we bring in those JUCO guys) will “solve” a lot of offensive problems. We aren’t going to find a bunch of road-pavers at this level so we need to find diamonds in the the rough, to use another terrible cliche. We need diamonds and dudes with smarts and cleverness akin to the service academies and Hawaii that PreSnapRead mentions here:
One thing that’s important to consider: Hawaii has to play things differently. The Warriors can’t play things straight, in other words, but must approach football in a similar way to the three service academies, each of which runs an offense that works on technique and precision, not speed and athleticism.
We probably don’t need to quirk it up as much but “technique and precision” are the keys to winning with less.
That brings me to the Offensive Coordinator.
He can call a really good game. He found ways to work with his personnel and got the football to Kam in a myriad of ways when it became clear that he was and is our biggest home run threat. He has gotten raves from opposing coaches and looks to go on to bigger and better things eventually.
The only thing that I wonder about is the complexity of the offense. With so many young players and especially on the offensive line, it seems odd to throw so many formations and sets at a team. It is making his quarterback look bad. It may not be totally deserved, but he has to know that no one cares.
Philosophically, I lean more toward the Air Raid stuff for a number of reasons, but also because it makes experts out of players in the tiny amount of teaching time available at this level. It also is very good at spreading the ball around. Each guy learns his position and only his position. Air Raid guys like Dana Holgorsen say “the ball finds the playmakers.” You don’t need to move them around.
Again, that is a philosophical quibble I have. Bush has brought some excitement and for whatever this program means for this town, it still is ultimately entertainment.
I can’t wait for the spring game.
Editor extraordinaire, UTSA grad student. Twitter