But what about what happened Saturday? Should that not be cause for concern?
Yes and no.
There were plenty of things that went right in the game Saturday night. One thing that really impressed me was the ability of the staff to make some adjustments at halftime. In their first three games, with large leads, it seemed that the staff shut everything down and simply tried to coast into the finish line. not so o0n Saturday.
Willie Taggart, Marcus Arroyo and Mario Cristobal, worked up some schematic changes to take advantage of an aggressive Sun Devil defense. In particular, the use of two running back sets really helped to get the Ducks into space more frequently.
Penalties. Does this rant need to be long? Nope. Too many penalties. While the coaches have some responsibility for the issue, at some point, an offensive linemen jumps the gun and no amount of windsprints are likely to change that players 'antsyness' and false start problems.
What you are really seeing is not so much a lack of accountability by the coaches; it is a lack of game ready depth along the offensive line. If the coaches had players who were close to the same quality that don't make the same mental errors - trust me on this - they would be playing. This is just something that is going to take some time.
The offensive line is not entirely horrible, though. The left side of the line has been good for most of the season and looked good for the most part Saturday night. As long as they keep making holes, things will be okay in the long run/ The belief that this was a ten win team might have been premature. There were ten 'winnable games' on the schedule, but this is a team in rebuild mode, so expecting it was a bit much.
So, this is more toward the over reaction of play calling. I can guarantee you that Willie Taggart is not telling Justin Herbert to 'throw deep' on every play. He gets to the line and makes a read. His reads were right more frequently than he gets credit for - because dropped passes or poorly thrown balls. the fact that he missed a couple of deep passes does not mean he made the wrong read, or that the play calling was bad - it simply means that a sophomore who was a bit too hyped Saturday night made some bad throws; and some receivers missed some well thrown balls.
But here is the difficult part to digest; the offensive philosophy has changed more than people are willing to admit. I think a lot of people expected Taggart to use the same Quinton Flowers type offense he had at USF last season. That was never going to happen. That offense went that way because that is what he had to do; but make no mistake about it, Taggart comes from the Jack Harbaugh school of football and he is changing the offense. It will not be the spread of Masoli, Darron Thomas or Marcus Mariota.
So what is Taggart's vision for this offense? Think Stanford circa 2010/2011 with a lot more speed on the edge. He wants a big, strong QB who is mobile enough to make plays. He will mix in some spread concepts; but he wants to install a physical downhill offense that can make big plays. Unfortunately, the entire offense was originally recruited as a zone blocking spread option team - and it is going to take some time to make zone blocking linemen into maulers.
When this all shakes out, the entire offensive philosophy will be different than anything Duck fans have seen in quite some time. In the mean time, there will be growing pains.
The great part about doing this, I can throw in ridiculously mundane personal rants too! Today as I went to the gym, the front desk customer service rep tried to greet me with his usual Will Ferrell Spartan Cheerleader enthusiasm. It irks me to no end.
When I retired from power lifting, the greatest thing I had going for me was being at this new gym where no one knew my name and no none bothered me. Don't get me wrong, when I was competing and lifting at a gym where everyone knew me, I had no problem talking training, eating, supplements, etc.; but I was glad I made the lifestyle change without having to answer a million questions.
to me, the gym is almost like a church. This 'new' gym was a place where I simply wanted to go, do my thing and leave without any attention. For the past few months, this same rep has been really trying to get me to be some engaging customer and so when he did it today, I just kind of gave him the eye roll. Rude? Probably. But I just want to go and do my thing!
Oh well, he's just trying to do his job, I guess. It just rubbed me the wrong way today, I suppose.
Okay, have a great night!