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Eastern Washington Aftermath

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  • Eastern Washington Aftermath

    It isn't that I thought so little of the eastern game not do anything, but rather I just couldn't finish anything this week. I had two blogs, and a game thread started and I couldn't find the time to get any of the three done. Hopefully I'll get one of the blogs done today. So anyway I'll just put forward a few thoughts about the game after the fact.

    One element that stood out to me, is that over the years this is the type of game that Bobby Hauck has complete control over. I wondered last year if he had lost a little bit of that touch, I think yesterday showed he was able to manage adverse situations as deftly as he had before.

    How?
    1. Had I finished my blog, I would have noted that I thought for all that was bad about last week the defensive game plan was actually pretty strong. There were some execution errors paired with some other wordly Sac State execution, but the foundations were there. There was a massive difference in execution this week, on both sides. Eastern is clearly struggling. They had a ton of self inflicted errors, not common for them in the past four or five years. Dropped balls, execution mistakes, missed blocks, penalties seemed to crop up yesterday at the most inoppertune time.

    2. UM played with a bit of urgency that was shockingly absent the week before. As had been the pattern in the past five to seven years, UM drops a game then needs to find a way to stop the bleeding. Last year they couldn’t stop the bleeding. We all have crappy games, we come out flat, but the following week is where it matters. They could have folded their tent and left after a first half. Eastern had victimized the UM the same way that Sacramento State did, taking advantage of some soft coverage and indecisive movement by safeties, for big plays. In the second half they tightened coverage, make a couple of subtle positional alignments and Bariere struggled to make the type of decisive reads that Thomson had made the week before.

    3. Played Bobby Ball. They limited chances for mistakes, reduced the game, and allowed Humphery to succeed within a much tighter game plan. Eastern brought a ton of heat and Rosenbach had answers with a ton of play action, back out and horizontally stretching pass concepts to help minimize the complexity of the game plan for Humphery. Most college quarterbacks can execute the full play book in practice, but when things speed up in games they press footballs into tight spaces and make ill-advised throws. While they struggled to convert long drives into touchdowns, it paid dividends in the second half. Marcus Knight and Nick Ostmo carried the water. This offense isn’t set up to run 50 run plays and get 350 yards of rushing, but the blend of power, zone along with some well timed RPO concepts, didn’t allow Eastern to pin their ears back very often on Saturday. They effectively reduced the game to a limited number of plays and when push came to shove, Eastern made huge mistakes.

    Odds and Ends:

    1. I think this week might be a bigger test. Not because Portland State is better, but rather that it is on the road and against a team in a place that has been always a difficult place for UM to play. The game will be played in Hillsboro, in a glorified high school stadium (where UM has had more success than in downtown Portland) and in front of a crowd that has the potential to be mostly a UM group. Handling Portland State has been always a problem, including last years debacle at home, and trying to gameplan for PSU won’t be easy. Their offense is a pain to hem into one solid offensive concept and it portends to be vastly different game style than the last two weeks. Bruce Barnum’s teams are physical, but there won’t be any shortage of reasons as to why the Griz can find motivation in this game.

    2. If the past few years are any indication, this game in Portland might be a bit more of a rude wake up call for Cam Humphery as a back up QB. Home games are always easier to prepare for, and when the UM back up QB has gone on the road the results haven’t been pretty dating back to Bob Stitt’s first year. I would expect a bit of a similar game plan, because PSU is the type of team that can manage the game right out of the offenses hands early. PSU did it effectively last year and mixed with a brutal offensive performance, they hung around long enough to win.

    Big Sky Conference:

    1. As I noted a few weeks ago, Montana State was in real trouble if they had to depend on Rovig/Bauman to win games. Two weeks in a row where they asked their QB’s to do way too much and in concepts that create failure. Choate has pushed a lot of right buttons in Bozeman, but he’s failed miserably at quarterback. Not only has he failed to develop one, but just as importantly he’s implemented a scheme that doesn’t instill a ton of confidence or success in the QB’s he does have. Their schedule still lends to them making the playoffs, but at this point I think they have to got 3-1 to ensure they make it. 7-4 is a pretty tough sell considering how soft their schedule is, to go 8-3 they are going to have to beat Davis or the UM to get there.

    2. If I were to gauge as to how Sac State-WSU plays out, I think the offensive advantage goes to Sacramento State. Weber States offense is sketchy or at least not as consistent as you might want a conference leader to have. From what I have seen out of SS, I am not sure that WSU is going to be able to slow SS completely. My gut is this game probably trends to somewhere in the 20’s. If that is the case, I think Sacramento State has the clear advantage just in ability to score points.

    3. Because of the Big Sky conference scheduling, I think there are really only four teams at this point with realistic chances to get to the conference. WSU, SS, UM and MSU. NAU has to win out to get in the conversation, and I just don’t see that happening. At this point, WSU and Sac State (both with no FCS losses) probably just need to play .500 ball to end the season to get in. As I noted I think MSU with 3 losses to date (one against FBS TT) probably needs 3 wins to ensure a spot. Montana probably needs to find 3 victories out of the last 4 to guarantee safe passage as well. Though at 8-4 that might get them in as well, but you just never know.
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