Well, we are who we expected. I'm re-watching this game and trying to see if there's anything I missed and trying to re-watch a couple of plays to see what was really happening. Not sure why, but they didn't show that many replays on the big board.
First things first: it's hard to put too much into one game. That said, there's a good reason for people to be worried about the 2011 Cardinals, and none of them are much of a surprise. The offensive line really failed to open holes for Vic and Wright, and that's a big problem. And it wasn't the DL for Murray that was making the plays, it was the LBs, which means there was no second level blocking. Not sure how that gets fixed but that's going to be a huge thing to watch.
Stein looked okay, it's hard to tell whether some of those passes in the second half where he and the WR were on different pages were his fault or the WRs. One of the big misses to Andrell, it looks like Stein just threw it way too early. Andrell, jinxed by me, of course, had a terrible game. There were two passes that were not great but that probably should have been caught in the first half.
And Teddy. Can't believe they didn't get him another series or two in the second half. It's not like Stein was moving it. I guess they didn't want to break Stein's rhythm? People were saying that Stein looked worse after Teddy's series, I'm not sure. He was overthrowing guys and missing before that, and had at least one ball knocked down at the line.
I hate QB controversies, especially after last year, but the rotating QB is not easy, and Teddy isn't Tebow. And having Dominque Brown run the same play over and over again is so weird. Feels cheap but I guess it gets 3 yards every time, and actually got about 6 once and 8 another time Thursday. Still, that was against Murray. Anyway, there's an argument for just giving the team to Teddy and taking our lumps. I guess his little nagging injuries kept him out of practice enough that he's just not ready. I hope gets another chance in game for more than just a series, regardless of how the series goes.
On defense, it's amazing how much one year makes. Take a guy like Preston Brown, a true freshman starter last year who was clearly talented, but didn't have a huge impact on the games. Thursday night he was like a madman out there, and he and Dexter Heyman backed up the line really well, as per their job title. Not sure how he would be if he redshirted last year, and if he and Charlie Strong are around when he's a senior, we will be saying how nice it would be if he were only a RS JR, but it is a reminder that, no matter how good these incoming freshman are, we will really see something next year. Andrew Johnson did well at corner, and I think those two plays that were carbon copies of the dreaded "Steve Got Loose" play were not his (or whichever CB was on that side's) fault, I think that's the safeties responsibility.
And I like Hakeem Smith (although there were no real BACK OF THE HOUSE opportunities Thursday) but covering has never been his strong suit. He can tackle, but it's usually when his man catches it out of his reach .
BJ Dubose, a true freshman, looks like he's already playing at a "next year" level. Wow, what a big deal that guy is going to be.
Injuries - we really aren't going to be able to withstand injuries this year at any spot except maybe the DL, which played Thursday without starting DT Brandon Dunn and starting DE BJ Butler, both true sophomores who hopefully can make a Preston Brown like leap this season.
The play Anthony Conner made to pick off that Murray "throw the ball away" pass was unlike anything I've ever seen a UofL player do, ever, and if someone did that in the LSU-Oregon game, I think ESPN would be showing it on a continuous loop. He stayed home, the QB was trying to throw it away and he went up and got it and game down with one foot in.
DEVANTE PARKER. DEVANTE F'IN PARKER. Sucks Bellamy got hurt, but WR is the only other position besides DL where the difference between the starters and their backups is not season-ending. But the bad thing - that TD was 13 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, we didn't score again. That's a LONG time. And one of those TDs was on a super short field set up by their kicker's error. And up, the next series after the Parker TD is when Teddy went in. And on the first play, Vic got a huge hole, made a guy miss, and had a huge gain. Then the false starts. Ugh. And Stein's next series, he got sacked on a Chichester missed block, a 2nd down run was stuffed and on 3rd and 13, Stein tripped over an offensive lineman although he was trying to run out of the backfield and there was no chance he was going to get it. And then halftime, so ya, maybe there was a rhythm issue. And the first drive of the 2nd half included that 3rd down throw to Andrell, which was clearly behind him, but he got his hands on the ball, so, ya, I'm not sure how that works in terms of whether that should have been a catch or not. Smith was wide open.
Hernandez had 3 false starts, two on the drive with Teddy and one on the play right before the bomb to Michaelee Harris at the end of the first quarter. Speaking of that bomb to Harris, if Stein doesn't underthrow that one, it's a touchdown.
Victor Anderson is partying like it's 2008. He needs some holes though, fellas.
We had a LOT of freshman play. Even some random hyphenated-last-name fullback.
I am now slightly worried about Friday night, if only because that team is much better than Murray and we did not look that good Thursday. Our secondary actually played decent, but a team with WRs like FIU might make us pay where Murray couldn't. I have not looked at FIU yet and may not even this week, because what does it matter how much I know about them? We have more talent and better coaches, so we should win if we play good.
Finally, I know I caused some controversy last year when I questioned Sanford's general offensive stewardship, but I didn't see anything to make me feel better in the games after that or Thursday. It's still early, and it may just be the offensive line is going to hold us back. I'm just not totally sold on him yet.
Slight Overreaction But Reasonable Prediction After Murray: We won't end up with a winning record. Long ways to go on the line and with QB play.