For those of you expecting more than sophomoric comedy about an offensive lineman putting on another guys boxers in my last post, I apologize. But heck, does this blog always have be serious talk about the doom and gloom Larry Coker has brought The U with a 13-10 loss to Florida State?
Come on guys, laugh a little. You all could use it.
Anyway, now that I've had a day off and some time to reflect on the FAMU game, here are my thoughts. OK, so now that the Canes have proved they can run for 300-plus yards against I-AA FAMU does that mean all of the offensive woes are fixed? Hardly.
I don't know about you, but I still saw the same short n' sweet passing game the Canes tried to beat FSU with. Not to be a Coach Rich Olson hater, but it would have been nice to see the team work on something deeper than 10-yard curl and out routes -- especially against FAMU. In search of answer, since assistant coaches usually aren't available until after practice on Tuesdays, I spoke at length with receiver Darnell Jenkins (the most honest guy on the team) about what the game plan was.
Jenkins said the team goal all of last week to run, run, and run some more. Jenkins said Coker and Olson both kept reminding the team of the 2 rushing yards it ran for and even kept the offense out an extra half hour for at least two practices practicing the rushing plays that were busts against the Noles. If your a UM fan, you should be happy I guess the Canes are working hard on the running game. But personally, I'd like to see Kyle prove he can get the ball down the field.
While there were at least six catches of 10 or more yards in the game, most of the big gainers were short passes turned into big gains. Tight end Greg Olsen's 24-yard gain came after Wright stepped out of the pocket and found him wide open in the middle of the field. Javarris James' 21-yard touchdown catch was a swing pass. While we did see more crossing routes that went about 10-15 yards deep, this offense is going to have to prove it can do more than survive on short passes to win big games.
Jenkins told me to expect those deep passes against Louisville this week. For the record, Louisville's pass D is currently ranked 86th nationally among 117 I-A Teams according to NCAAsports.com. Last year, the Cardinals were 46th nationally, but produced only 9 INTs. The U had the nation's top-ranked passed D and produced 14 picks.
As for the other pressing story lines this week, it's going to actually be interesting to see what Coker does as far as playing time in the backfield. As I said last week, Javarris James is quickly climbing the depth chart and looked like the best back against FAMU. Still, as much as Coker may say this week James will get loads of playing time, I expect James to play in the shadows of Tyrone Moss and Charlie Jones at least for the first half. With as much as the Canes have on the line with Louisville, I'm sure Coker wants to try to at least go with a veteran first. If that fails, expect to see James. Either way, it will be something interesting to watch.
As far as the defense is concerned, I wouldn't worry too much about what Coker called a bad performance against FAMU. The truth is Randy Shannon got a boatload of young players into the game early and often. Most of the successful quarterback runs FAMU had were on scrambles where linebackers who were dropping back into pass coverage were having to rush up and make plays. Plus, there's the focus factor. Do you honestly think the guys were up to stop FAMU? Expect UM's D to turn up their intensity against Louisville.
That's it for now. But I should have something else for you after tomorrow's press conferences at The U.