Steve Kragthorpe may be the nicest coach U of L football has ever had, but I'm still stunned that he was able to keep this one under eighty points. When it was 70-10 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter, I didn't think there was any way we wouldn't accidentally score at least two more touchdowns. Kudos to Koach.
As anyone could have predicted after Murray's 80-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter, concerns over the play of the defense have been hurled at a fast and furious pace in the few hours since the final whistle blew last night.
Was I unhappy with the way the defense played? Yes. Am I worried about how they're going to play the rest of the season? No.
I was shocked that our front four didn't dominate, or at least generate more of a consistent push, against what should have been a completely overmatched Murray State offensive line. The D recorded 44 sacks a year ago, but couldn't muster one against the Racers, something I didn't think was possible.
Adrian Grady and Earl Heyman really turned things up in the second half, but that might have been more of a product of Murray players realizing they were down 40 points than an inspirational Mike Cassity halftime speech. if there as one d-lineman I was pleased with, it was Peanut Whitehead (who did start) who, for better or worse, was flying around the field from start to finish.
Speaking of flying around, I'm going to be nice and chalk up the several instances of overpursuit to it being the first game and people wanting to make plays, but the defense's inability to properly react to misdirection and screen plays after three quarters of seeing them was disappointing to say the least.
I don't want to be accused of looking too far ahead, but, uh, misdirection plays out of the shotgun...might be something you guys wanna work on.
With the amount of speed they each possess, there's no excuse for our linebackers to defend the pass so poorly. If they didn't know before the game, it should have become apparent pretty quickly that Jeff Erhardt's M.O. was not to take a bunch of shots down the field. Still, he was able to consistently exploit the middle of the field and find wide open receivers where our linebackers were supposed to be.
I don't think that Steve Kragthorpe was overstating how excited he was during interviews the past few days. It was awesome to see him running up and down the sidelines and constantly high-fiving guys. At one point when Malik Jackson and Brandon Cox covered an option to perfection, Kragthorpe sprinted about 20-yards from where he had been standing to where the play had occurred.
I really, really like this guy.
It was surprising to see Woodny Turenne not starting (even though he was credited with a tackle on the first play of the game), and instead Travis Norton out their alongside Rod Council. It was also interesting to see Latarrius Thomas (who was also a member of the kick coverage team) had earned his starting job back while Deon Palmer was still getting the nod over Jon Russell.
The defensive substitutions were so frequent that it really didn't matter who started. It seemed like a new package was sent onto the field every play, which very likely may have been the result of this basically being a glorified scrimmage.
I don't care who you're playing, scoring on the first offensive play of the season is ridiculously cool. I didn't think I'd cheer that loudly all game, but when something like that happens you forget all about the name on the jersey of the guy your receiver just torched.
I was very pleased with how Brohm looked. The throw that should have been picked off was pretty unforgivable, but other than that he played how a Heisman Trophy candidate is supposed to play against a team like Murray State. He showed great touch on the third down completion to Pat Carter, and then showed off the gun on the completion to Gary Barnidge near the beginning of the second quarter.
I'm not even going to deny that about midway through the first quarter I started thinking about Brohm's stats. It was such a disappointment each time a receiver got stopped inside the five because you knew that the next play was going to be a run, and that it was probably going to be for a score. Stats are stats, and if you've thrown 40 touchdowns at the end of the season no one is going to point out that four of them came against Murray State.
The most nerve-wracking part of the night was the five seconds or so it took Brohm to emerge from the pile after scoring on the quarterback sneak. I know he's a big kid, but so are two of our running backs, let's go ahead and let them handle that sort of thing from now on.
I'm no longer debating over whether or not to get on, I'm driving the Sergio Spencer should start bandwagon and I'm wearing a really cool hat. SS has the best vision of anyone on the team not named Brock Bolen, and he has the speed to more than make up for the differential between the two in that area. He stays low to the ground and has tremendous balance. I'm not advocating that any one back on this team get Mike Hart carries, I just think that Sergio is the best we have and that he's the guy most likely to be effective against teams like Rutgers and South Florida.
Terrance Butler certainly proved that it's possible to play poorly in a 63-point victory. Butler just could not keep himself from committing penalties, one of which - a completely unnecessary block below the waist - wiped out a JaJuan Spillman touchdown.
I love the camaraderie on this team. I honestly think that Spillman was more excited than Trent Guy after Guy's punt return touchdown. Then you have stuff like the obviously tight Mario/Harry relationship, the entire secondary going berserk whenever one of its own makes a play, and Art's rituals with each member of the field goal unit after a make. It's a great group to watch.
I still haven't seen enough of Richard Raglin in game situations to properly gauge his coverage skills, but the reports of his hitting ability have not been overstated.
Disappointed to see that a kid on the home sidelines was wearing the same black #18 jersey I had on (the jersey performed quite admirably FYI). If you're reading this kid, I challenge you to an all-out skills competition/duel to the death to determine who is the ultimate Carmody jersey-wearer.
How much focus/talent does it take to bury a 45-yarder when your team is already up 60 points in the fourth quarter? I was a little surprised with the decision to attempt the kick, but I suppose Brohm isn't the only Heisman candidate on the team whose stats need a boost.
It was great to see Scott Long make a catch while the game was still somewhat competitive, and then another one later when it wasn't. He ran a pair of great stop routes and put himself in a position to show off his Harrison-esque hands. He'll have his moments in '07, but next year...
Despite what the depth chart said, JaJuan Spillman was, as expected, the third receiver when the Cards ran three-receiver sets. The first play of the game we actually had trips to the right side, with Pat Carter being the fourth guy out there.
Interesting to note that every receiver saw the field with the exception of Chris Vaughn. You have to think that this is injury related.
Breno Giacomini is constantly bouncing around or looking insanely intense. It's awesome to watch.
It was a huge disappointment not being able to see Willie Williams II on the field. Rumor is that it's a minor injury that's keeping him on the sidelines, but of course Kragthorpe does not discuss non season-ending injuries. Let's hope this is the case because I, like just about every Cardinal fan, am itching to see this guy patrol the field in a game situation.
I think we were about two first half touchdowns away from the first kickoff tee retrieval kid death in college football history.
Trinity product Blayne Donnell's appearance late in the fourth quarter all but signifies that each of the trio of freshman running backs will be redshirting. Selfishly, I was hoping to see Bilal Powell last night but this certainly makes the most sense.
I thought the most impressive play of the night was Hunter Cantwell's throw on the move to Scott Kuhn in the third quarter. Everyone knows the kid has an NFL arm, and that was an NFL throw.
I'm a huge Doug Beaumont fan, so it was good to see him out there on kick coverage, and then touching the ball late in the game. I still don't see him making as big a contribution this season as some do, but any experience as a freshman is valuable.
The theme "feed the studs" was played out years ago, but it's more true this year than it's ever been before. In the middle of the game you find yourself wanting all these different people to touch the ball before you realize that there simply aren't enough plays. If I was Steve Kragthorpe I would have been completely unable to control my erection about two minutes into the second quarter.
Gret protection by the offensive line with the exception of the play where Brian got popped after getting rid of the deep ball to Urrutia. A blitzer came completely untouched through the hole between Bussey and Barlowe.
I'm watching the game on ESPNU right now (thank you Tivo) and apparently Harry Douglas has an imaginary friend. This is the kind of thing you don't tell people who are about to talk about you on national television Harry. P.S., you're still really cool.
The basketball team was making its rounds through the crowd, and though most were showing at least reserved school spirit with their attire, I was disappointed that T-Will opted for a blue and yellow striped polo shirt.
The '04 Liberty Bowl was on Classic the other night, and as I'm watching last night's game on TV I'm amazed at just how much weight Gary Barnidge has added in four years. The play where he drug defenders about seven yards into the endzone (he scored) is a testament to this.
Interesting to see that we flipped the script and wore red last night, especially considering our 85,000 cheerleaders were decked out in black. Speaking as someone who pays way too much attention to uniforms, I'm interested to see if there's any method to the home color selections under the Kragthorpe regime.
Perhaps the most impressive feat of strength came when Mozell Axson leveled a Murray State kickoff return blocker with only his right arm.
Even though he had the wind at his back, it was good to see Todd Flannery put multiple kickoff into the endzone in his first game kicking from the 30. It was also good to see Flannery - long considered by me to be the worst tackling kicker in the history of football - force somebody out of bounds on a return...and then almost get flagged for a late hit.
I think that some of the penalties late in the second half were intentionally made to try and stop the score from getting any more ridiculous. I was looking right at poor Andrew Robinson during Sergio's run, and he did nothing that could in any way be construed as holding. And the illegal contact with the snapper call is always a ridiculous one.
The biggest hit of the night came from Bobby Buchanan, who actually laid receivers out on consecutive plays.
Biggest disappointment of the night: No Kragthorpe shades. I want those shades on next week or my Stubbs for head coach campaign begins immediately.