Missouri State Notes and Observations

Posted on Sep 10 2012 - 3:58pm by Nick Burch

-Let’s start with the obvious. Teddy Bridgewater is…phenomanal. There really is no other way to describe him. 30-39, 344 yds, 2 TDs (should have been 3), 0 picks (technically, he did have a turnover due to the awful fumble call by the notoriously awful Big East refs). He simply looks like a man playing against boys out there. Of those 9 completions, several of those were dropped passes. He is automatic on third down, no matter the distance. When it is all said and done, he could very well be the best QB to ever don a Cardinal uniform. Period. The windows he is squeezing passes into is just jaw-droppingly impressive.

-We are witnessing a star in the making in Calvin Pryor. His coverage skills and ability to tackle in the open field in just his sophomore year are superb. This is no disrespect to Hakeem Smith, who is still the same, excellent safety he has always been, but Pryor has been the most pleasant of surprises. He was not even the most hyped safety in his recruiting class (that honor going to Gerod Holliman), but after a solid freshman season and an outstanding first two games in his second year where he appears much improved, he is playing like a safety that could be a quality starter in any league. Granted, he has not exactly been tested, with Missouri State being an FCS team and UK being…well, UK, but I do not doubt for a second that several top 10-15 teams would kill to have this safety tandem.

-After serving his one-game suspension for alleged hot-headed antics during practice, WR Charles Gaines showed why he was so hyped, reeling in 3 catches for 73 yards. Had Teddy led him just a little more on the deep ball in the first quarter, no doubt it would have resulted in 6 points, as he had his man beat. He was also very comfortable in the open field and showed he is capable of getting yards after the catch with some impressive shiftiness. He cannot exactly replace Michaelee Harris, but he is showing that he can be nearly as dangerous. Let’s just hope his off-the-field issue is a one-time thing.

-Dropped passes. There were too many of them. Scratch that. Too many EASY ones. Teddy’s completion percentage is ridiculous already, but had he not been victim to so many dropped passes, it would be just silly. Tecmo Super Bowl silly. I believe I still have a handmark from the facepalm I gave myself after Nate Nord’s drop in the endzone. It was perfectly thrown with soft touch with no one around Nord. He just flat out botched it. Maybe he was nervous about his first touchdown pass of the season, but you have GOT to catch those.

-Speaking of Nord, while he did drop a gimme, he did a stand-up job of redeemeing himself. He ended up with 4 catches for 59 yards (second on the team behind Gaines) and a touchdown. While his first opportunity for a TD grab was a gimme, he decided to make it a little harder on himself the second time around. He was not going to let another opportunity slip through his fingers and made an extraordinary effort to get to the endzone the second time around. Outstanding job by the young man to keep his head up and bounce back.

-The punt return game is giving me high blood pressure. Those of us that were scratching our heads as to why Devante Parker was being mentioned as a possible return man should see why now. The Cards caught a lucky break when Charles Gaines reached out for a punt that appeared to touch his fingers and subsequently recovered by Missouri State. The replay did not seem to be in the Cards favor (Gaines’ fingers appeared to make contact), but the call was overturned and the Cards took possession. That is two lucky breaks in two games for the Cards on punt returns. It is an ongoing problem that has yet to be solved.

-The playcalling seemed way too vanilla in this game. The run game was not working well at all and we just kept on at it. There is a good possibility Shawn Watson wanted to keep some things up his sleeve for North Carolina and figured correctly the Cards would not have much trouble with Missouri State. Still, though, it was a bit frustrating from a fan’s perspective seeing us continue to run the ball when Teddy could have simply destroyed this defense.

-Watson may have been keeping it overly conservative, but the decision to go no-huddle in the first half was just the spark the Cards needed to get going. Up until that point, the team seemed a bit sluggish and not exactly taking Missouri State seriously. I half-expected to see a group of them yawning if the camera panned in on the facemasks. Therefore, the decision to go no-huddle gave the offense a kick in the rear and it worked out. Solid call by Watson.

-The pressure from the D-Line looked better this weekend than it did against UK. As Brent stated below, it may not show up on the stat sheet, but the defensive front was breathing down the neck of Missouri State QB Ashton Glaser all night. Yes, this was just an FCS squad, but it is clear Clint Hurtt put in some extra time with the men this week.

-The run game was just “meh” this week. It was not terrible, nor was it overly impressive. This may have been in part to Missouri State focusing primarily on stopping the run in addition to the vanilla playcalling by Shawn Watson. The offensive line struggled to open up holes, too, and while it is not necessarily worrisome (they blew the lid off of UK’s D-Line), it is not exactly something to be thrilled about. This was an FCS D-Line. UNC’s is far superior. That cannot happen this coming weekend. Chances are it won’t, either. Despite the run game being less than explosive, the Cards did gain 131 yards on the ground, but only averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Once Dominique Brown gets healthy and Corvin Lamb starts getting more reps, the run game will (or should) be a non-issue.

-Although it was only one carry in garbage time, seeing Corvin Lamb score his first touchdown on his first carry was one of my favorite moments of the game. Seriously, to see him get so excited brought a smile on my face from ear to ear, and if you were not excited for him, you may not have a soul. It was a good, hard run, but most of the credit should go to Alex Kupper, who absolutely abused his defender on the way to the TD.

-I feel like it is ready to happen any minute, but I would love to see a big play and more looks to Devante Parker sooner than later. The guy is just to big of a playmaker to finish with 3 catches for 25 yards. There is no one to blame inparticular, but a weapon like him needs to be further utilized in the playcalling. Hopefully, Coach Watson has some plays drawn up for him against UNC.

-Overall, there is nothing to really complain about when the scoreboard reads 35-7 in your team’s favor, but it seemed pretty apparent the team came out a little overconfident and a little sluggish, making little mistakes throughout the game. Had it not been for a late turnover, the game was dangerously close to being 28-14. A win is still a win, as they say, but a 2-touchdown win over an FCS team at home (a team we could have put 50+ on if we wanted to) would not have been as attractive on a postseason resume as the 35-7 win. Of course, it does not matter what COULD have happened, only what DID happen, but the general consensus seems to be that the only thing standing in the way of this team going undefeated is themselves. It was not that the team played “bad” on Saturday, but they just did not look as crisp as they could have or should have. Against a team like Missouri State, it does not really matter, but against a team like UNC, who looks like arguably the best team U of L wil play this year, it could mean everything. The team cannot get complacent, and if it remains hungry and determined against all opponents, this team is fully capable of beating every team on it’s schedule.

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Missouri State Notes and Observations, 7.4 out of 10 based on 7 ratings

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