Aside from the injuries - none of which are apparently too serious - and the shoddy special teams play, I think this was about all any of us could have hoped for.
The defense proved it can get up for any opponent, Hunter Cantwell proved he can still put the ball where it needs to be when he has time, Doug Beaumont proved he's a budding star, and the train whistle proved it still works.
Tennessee Tech, Shmennessee Shmech (still how I handle 96% of debates). I would have been pleased with a 51-point performance against Doss after last week.
The team did exactly what it had to do, and now it's got a week and-a-half to prepare for a big test against a quality opponent.
We're going to bypass the bullet point review this week and instead hand out some awards.
It's go time:
Offensive MVP: Doug Beaumont
This is sort of like Crash's surprising triumph over Brokeback Mountain given Vic Anderson's big day, but to me it was Beaumont whose star again shone the brightest on offense. The deep catch in traffic, the ridiculous cut after the seven-yard stop catch; this guy isn't standing out because he's the most talented member of an extremely depleted receiving corps, he's standing out because he's that good. We're really going to wish he had that year of eligibility back once the 2010 season screeches to a halt.
Defensive MVP: Adrian Grady
L.D. Scott had a big game with three tackles for loss, Earl Heyman had the team's only sack and James Bryant intercepted a pass and then jumped over a dude, but on a day when practically the entire unit played well, you have to give the nod to the big man who galloped 19 yards into the endzone. A much deserved moment in the sun.
Biggest personal reaction (positive): Cantwell's TD pass to Troy Pascley
I really wanted to see a designed deep pass executed to perfection, and this certainly fit the bill. Cantwell had all day to throw and placed the ball perfectly in the hands of Pascley for both his first career reception and first career touchdown. On a day where edge-of-my-seatness (expression) was admittedly low, this was a moment that still managed to draw a pretty notable reaction.
Biggest personal reaction (negative): Cantwell getting hit hard for the second straight play with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter.
This is something that I'm actually still upset about. Four of our five starting linemen are injured, there's less than 17 minutes to go in the game, we're up by 41 points, and Cantwell's still in. This could have been disastrous, and it would have been an unforgivable error in judgment. I realize he had a bad game against Kentucky and that he's still extremely inexperienced as a starter, but by this point he had undoubtedly already absorbed everything there was to gain from the game.
Scary trend that wouldn't have been funny at all had we not been playing Tennessee Tech: Not being able to kick the ball within the limits of the playing field.
The entire special teams performance was pretty egregious for the second week in a row, but Chris Philpott booting the ball out-of-bounds on his first three kickoffs was definitely the show-stealer. Yeah you had to laugh when the third one sailed a mile left, and yeah the Bronx cheer from the crowd after the fourth kick stayed in bounds was funny, but these are the types of under-the-radar things that decide outcomes, and even with the defense playing as well as it is, you can't afford to hand the ball to talented offenses (hi Josh Freeman) 10 yards away from midfield.
Play of the game: Grady fumble return
Has to be.
Un-play of the game: Pete Nochta drop on third down.
Despite his first touchdown, it was a second less-than-stellar performance from Nochta. I don't want to run this one into the ground, but if we're going to go with two tight ends so often, I'd at least like to see what Cam Graham or Rock Keys could bring to the table at a point in the game where the outcome is still in jeopardy.
Announcer quotes of the game: We have a tie.
First, everyone's favorite snazzy-dressing Bob Valvano sidekick Ari Wolfe, who hit us with: "We've seen so few ties since the rule change."
You mean the rule change outlawing ties? Yep, the institution of endless overtime definitely put a dent into the number of deadlocks.
He'll share the honor with newcomer Doug James, who felt the need to tell us all: "I've held a lot of balls."
You could almost hear each of them wondering what line would take them the furthest away from the conversation during the ensuing silence.
Most annoying player on the other team: Henry Sailes
I was already getting a little tired of Henry's strutting...and then he went ahead and jumped around and thumped his chest after a three-yard run on 3rd and 7. The punt team ran onto the field, and I wondered what the hell just happened.
Biggest hang your head moment: When Eric Wood didn't run on the field the series after getting banged up.
Apparently it's just a sprained knee, and it won't keep him out of the Kansas State game, but no one knew that at the time. If you're ranking guys we can't afford to lose, No. 77 is at the top of my list.
Overall performance grade (1-100): 84
I realize this isn't an award, but I didn't think that "biggest hang your head moment" was the right way to go out.
An explanation of why the final award isn't actually in award probably isn't much better, but whatever.