All photos by author
Just got home, voice is gone, throat is killing me, not sure if I'm drunk or pre-hungover, and the Cowboys won the turnover/penalty-fest. I don't want to get too analytical or too negative (even though there is plenty of room to) until I've had a night to process this... but here are some quick notes for now.
Here comes bullet (points)!
The LBs played pretty well. Orie Lemon and Justin Gent in particular were involved everywhere they should have been, and Lemon delivered at least 2 jarring hits that I can remember. The only negative I noticed was on Troy's last TD. They ran a post with the inside WR who was the primary WR on the play and QB Corey Robinson's eyes were locked on him the entire route. Lemon was playing zone on that side and went outside instead of covering the middle. If he watched the QBs head he would have had an int. Hard to fault him too much though for one quick half step in the wrong direction considering how well he played everywhere else.
I feel like I watched Devin Hedgepeth find his own "peth" (required terrible pun quota met) and become a man tonight. Three plays really stood out.
- I know it really doesn't need to be said, but 2010 Kendall Hunter is special. The most lethal combo of shiftyness, power, and breakaway speed I have ever seen in person.
- I mean this to be a positive, but there is a negative to it. With so many legitimate deep threats at WR, Oklahoma State should have no problem with press coverages, or safeties cheating up. Million Dollar Man Brandon Weeden overthrew Bo Bowling twice, underthrew Josh Cooper, Colton Chelf, and Tracy Moore once each (the first two still made the catch though), and connected with Justin Blackmon on a beautiful 45 yard bomb that hit him right in stride. These guys were getting behind the secondary with ease but the MDM was just having issues connecting... maybe because of the thumb injury. So a little bit of positive and negative there. They were getting behind everyone, but the timing or the thumb prevented a perfect throw.
- Speaking of the thumb. It was wrapped. Here is a pic I snapped in the 1st quarter.
Now zooming in on the hands.
Looks like tape to me. I gotta assume that was affecting his throws.
One was in the 2nd Quarter on a 3rd down deep in Cowboy territory when Hedgepeth was 1-on-1 with some WR who ran a post to the back of the end zone. Hedgepeth had good coverage, but stumbled as Robinson delivered a perfect pass. As Hedgepeth was falling he reached an arm up and dislodged the ball at the last second. Very athletic and heady play.
The Second one was the hit and forced fumble when Jerrel Jernigan was trying to hit the corner of the endzone in the 3rd. Jernigan got around the end, Martin took a bad angle, so it left Hedgepeth as the only thing in his way. They met head-on at the 2 and Jernigan went backwards. It was about the only time the entire game someone was able to square up Jernigan, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
The Third was on Jernigan's first breakaway kick return in the 1st quarter. Hedgepeth caught him from behind at about midfield to save a TD. I repeat, he caught Jerell Jernigan, FROM BEHIND!
Richetti Jones was a force. In particular there was a play early where he tracked down the RB from behind coming all the way from the opposite side. His speed burst is unreal. The rest of the D-line needs to get more pressure. Jamie Blatnick caused some disruptions, and almost had a pick when he sniffed out a screen in the 1st, but outside of that rush end, there wasn't a consistent push by the D-line.
Johnny Thomas had money on Troy covering the 1st half line. That's the only explanation I have for his play. On Troy's first TD, Thomas took just an awful angle to their WR after he had caught a short pass in the flat. Thomas basically just gave him the sideline and wished him a nice 40+ yard trot to the endzone. On the 2nd TD he completely blew coverage over the middle. For some reason he was staying over the top of the only WR in the middle of the field when Troy was operating from the Cowboy 10. You don't need over the top containment when you are in the endzone Johnny. That's like letting someone break into your house, watching them start to steal most of your shit, then once they are about to leave you get up and hide a few valuables so they don't get even more on their way out.
Thomas was pulled for Victor Johnson for the last couple series of the first half. They shared time throughout the 2nd half, and were actually on the field together quite a bit with Markelle Martin who would move up to a DB/rover sort of role in that package. Not sure if that was due to an injury or if Bill Young just saw some advantage to having 3 safeties on the field.
The offensive line was not very good. There were very few stable pockets for Weeden to operate out of and very few instances where Kendall had a gaping hole. Worst moment was the 2nd interception which should be credited to Nick Martinez instead of Weeden. The DE on the weakside blew by Martinez, who was barely able to even hold him (which he was flagged for) as the DE swatted Weeden on his throwing arm just as he was releasing. The resulting throw-punt of a pass was easily picked.
I can't recall ever even hearing of a fumble out of victory formation. I think my balls shrunk two sizes at seeing that (is there an official unit of measure for testicles?).
This is a pretty solid Troy team. They caught a lot of breaks, especially in the first half, but they have a lot of speed on both sides of the ball, and their defense can lay some wood.
I can't remember ever being as scared of a guy with the ball in his hands as I was every time Jerrel Jernigan touched it tonight. Whether on kick returns, those little underneath routes, or running out of wildcat formation, I was legitimately terrified every time he had the ball. I found myself searching for him every time Troy would line up and would feel relief when I wouldn't see #3 in the formation. He did fumble twice though, so I guess he does have a weak spot.
I think that will do it for tonight. Here is a link to the SB Nation game recap courtesy of Sports Network. I'm off to bed to dream about running victory formation out of shotgun.