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Grading on a Curve: @CharlieStrong10: We're No Where Near Where We Need To Be

Well, a win is a win.  Charlie Strong will take it, but he wasn't effusive in the post-game press conference, and at the very end he tells it like it is in a way that makes me very, very happy: "We're no where near where we need to be."  No sugar coating it, Coach realizes and is willing to be honest with the fans that we are not great yet, but we will get better.

The effort is there (QB tackling notwithstanding, see below) and there is a lot of young talent on the defensive side of the ball.  But we are going to get embarrassed by a good team, maybe even as early as next week, because of the lack of playmakers on offense mainly.

So, let's keep this gimmick going, keeping in mind that every grade is on a curve (as in, "Sure it was just EKU, but..."):

Doug Beaumont:  A+  The highlight of the season so far (and what will for me probably end up being the highlight of the season overall) - not just Beaumont catching his first TD, but the team's reaction afterward.  Vic Anderson, who was not even in on the play, ran all the way from the sideline to the endzone and it seemed like literally half the team joined him.  Even better? Beaumont ran right back down and played on kick coverage.  He caught every ball that was thrown to him, he made a couple tackles on special teams, and probably gave Rodney Gnat some pointers that lead to the sacks.  Couldn't have happened to a better guy.  If he were 3 inches taller he'd be an All-American, and it's criminal that he had that Kragshirt year in 2007.  Here's hoping he has broken the seal and will get a bunch more TDs this season.

Adam Froman: D  Would be a C+ or B- if it wasn't for the TAINT.  Not necessarily the throw (it may have been that Smith ran the wrong route) but failing to knock the DB out of bounds or tackle him was awful.  As to the rest of the game, a nice ball to Beaumont but other than that, pretty pedestrian.  He had one nice run on a zone read where he kept it, but overall he's just not that great of a QB.  He got lucky because at least two other passes should have been or almost were picked off.  Maybe he's hampered by a bad line, a drop-happy (outside of Beaumont) receiver corps or bad play calling.....but if he's not going to run the ball more, not sure why Burke doesn't get a chance.  Froman sailed a couple passes out of bounds too....whatever, I don't want to bash the kid, it just seems like he doesn't run enough to justify not having a better thrower in there.

Offensive Line: A (pass block), C (run block)  Again, I'm not good smart enough to be able to tell if this is schematic, personnel, the running backs or what but there didn't seem to be that many holes, there seemed to be a lot of EKU defenders in the backfield on run plays and there didn't seem to be a lot of push from the guys up front on running plays.  When Froman did throw it seemed like he had all day, but against a better team than EKU, if we can't get any sort of running game going and Froman continues to play so....average......then this is going to be a really long season.

Playcalling: C  I know, I know, it was Eastern Kentucky, no need to open it up.  If we can win every game 23-13, I'll be happy.  And we shouldn't expect Bobby Petrino and constant scoring, scoring, scoring.  However, the running game wasn't working, but despite guys being open on passing plays all day, we didn't throw the ball more. Not scoring in the second half is also very frustrating.  We haven't thrown the ball to Powell or Vic once out of the backfield (except as an outlet once to Vic) and I don't think we've run many screens - if any?  The point is, maybe Strong's strategy is what we see a lot of in the SEC: offense's job is to run the clock, score enough to win and not screw up, and defense wins the games.  And after the  TAINT it seemed like we just ran the ball most of the time. Anyway, next week is a big test.   And we don't really run the spread the whole time.  That doesn't seem like an offensive philosophy you can just dabble in.  But you also need the speed to do it, and our speed is redshirting or being held up by the NCAA. 

Rodney Gnat:  A  Big day on defense for Gnat, who surprisingly didn't play much against UK.  The defensive play of the game is when he sacked the QB, stripped the ball and then pounced on it.  That was amazing.  I think Strong did the T-Will/Andre jump/hip check thing into him after that, which was awesome.  While the overall defense played well, Gnat really stood out today.  Great to see.

Mike Evans: C-  If you can't blog anything nice about someone, don't blog at all.

Hakeem Smith: B  My new favorite!  Got beat once or twice on passing plays, but had a bunch of tackles, including a big one for a loss, and seemed to be around the ball a lot.  RS Frosh, so that's exciting.

Overall Defense: B+  Overall played really well.  Seemed to give up a lot of big runs but EKU's offensive line was holding them on basically every play.  A lot of young guys are getting a lot of minutes - BJ Butler, Malcolm Mitchell, Philon/Salmon at DT, Holton/Smith at safety, Preston Brown/Marcus Smith at LB, (although neither played much today), Deon Rogers had a huge hit....so we have a lot to be excited for.  Darius Ashley even got into the action with a game-sealing INT.  The corners still get beat or give up yards too often, but the defense is tackling a ton better than last year.

Oregon State on the road will be a tough test.  Hopefully everyone has a healthy week of practice and Froman learns how to run the zone read effectively.

EDIT:

In thinking more about it, the spread offense is not something you can just install overnight.  Froman doesn't look comfortable running the zone read, and that will get better as the season goes on.  When it comes to "win now v. build for the future" decisions, with this team I'm all for the latter.  The wrinkle is that both Froman and Burke are seniors, so I guess the hope is that Froman becomes more comfortable in the offense in time for Big East play, so the future we are building for is 2-3 months, not 2-3 years.  Building for 2-3 years would require playing Dominique Brown, when it looks like he will be red shirting.  

Also, if you think the Froman v. Burke debate is annoying, the DeMarcus Smith v. Dom Brown debate is going to be crazy.  Especially in the off-season, if Brown redshirts and Smith enrolls in January, because basically we'll get to see them in a few spring practices and the spring game, and then not see them again for 5 months.