So I watched the game, took a long, long walk, just to make sure I wasn't sitting in my room from sunrise to sunset on pretty much the nicest day in Manhattan history, and now I feel ready to set down my thoughts on that game.
First off, I said that there was pretty much no way this Towson game could turn out well - even if we did well, there'd be the thought in our head that "oh, it was only Towson." Well, I was wrong. That game went about as well as it possibly could've with only a few exceptions: the worst part of the game was a rather nasty looking injury to Jeravin Matthews, and our defense fell asleep on two drives. But otherwise, I thought we managed to look great even with the context that we were playing against a rather scrubby team. Our first team was clearly overwhelming, then, our second and third teams proved that they were both better than Towson's starters.
Even with a gameplan conservative enough to make Karl Rove tingly, the Wildcats ran rampant. There were large stretches of the game where it was clear that we'd be running the ball right up the middle on every play, and we were still regularly converting first downs. We ran the ball 23 times on first down, and passed it six times. We ran the ball 21 times on second down, and only passed it six times. And yet, even with that run-heavy attack, we still moved the ball down the field pretty easily.
The fact that the first four possessions of the game resulted in four punts and four TD's makes me feel pretty confident about this team. After that opening stretch, our whole team seemed to loosen up and take the whole process a little bit easier, resulting in the output slowing a little bit, but, there's no way you could really be angry at that happening. The score could've easily been more lopsided than 47-14, but neither Fitz nor I would have actually liked to have seen that happen, because that first quarter was all the affirmation we needed that we were way, way better than the other team. There's no better way of saying "I'm not trying to score" than making Mark Woodsum run on five consecutive downs.
Oh, and experience is clearly overrated: five guys caught, ran or threw for their first touchdowns today.
So let's break this down by unit.
Throwing it: In my prediction, I called for Mike Kafka to just chill out and throw the ball. And sure enough, he did, and sure enough, he looked absolutely fantastic. I don't recall any poor throws, and he went 15-20 on a variety of short passes. He still could use a little bit more confidence in his ability to throw out of the pocket, but still, he looked great. In future, I'd like to see him throw a bit more, but this was a great tune-up, and allowed us to fully figure out our RB situation. He also looked good on the ground.
Dan Persa decided to go with the thunder-and-lightning approach to being quarterback, throwing two passes, one for a 72-yard TD and the other for a telegraphed pick into what looked like a crowd of three defenders and one receiver. I like his game though - he's going to be a good quarterback when it's his turn to start, although that could be my obsession with running QB's talking for me. He should get a few more reps against EMU, and then he should ride pine for the rest of the season.
Joe Mauro, it turns out, is a real human being, which is good to see, as his existence was previously questionable.
Running: I called for a bunch of RB's to run the ball straight up the gut in my prediction, and because Fitz must've read that and tried to make me look as smart as possible, he complied. Stephen Simmons, Arby Fields, Jeravin Matthews, Jacob Schmidt, Scott Concannon, and Mark Woodsum all got time taking handoffs and going in between the tackles with them. By far the most impressive was Fields, who, a week before new student week, is already having a pretty beast freshman year. If I had to rank the crew, I'd go Fields, Simmons, Matthews, Concannon, and Schmidt. That being said, they all looked really good. It was cool to see Schmidt and Concannon, guys who, like Joe Mauro, hadn't completely convinced me of their existence as actual people, get into the end zone, and I wouldn't feel uncomfortable with them taking snaps in Big Ten games after seeing each of them break out decent gains against the Towson d. Simmons didn't have any signature plays, but he's definitely our most consistent back at this point, and should continue starting unless Fields really cranks up the heat.
Catching: We have a number one wide receiver, and his name is Andrew Brewer. Brew has proven himself as a deep ball threat since spring ball, and the culmination of that was a 72-yard streak past the Towson d. I really love his size and speed (pause) and think he'll be a true threat in Big Ten season.
Our other wide receivers proved to me that they could catch the ball when nobody was near them pretty well, which is good. The only drop I remember belonged to Josh Rooks and he was hit pretty heavily. Demetrius Fields kept confusing me when the announcer said "Fields with the catch", and for those of us looking for more superback action, Drake Dunsmore looks like he'll really be able to contribute from that position.
Also, after a long time, I finally learned how to pronounce "Markshausen." I assumed there was a "shhhh" in the middle, but apparently it's like "Mark's house in" which was news to me.
O-line: Solid. Although I still think Ward shoulda redshirted, but I guess it sends a good message to any four star recruits out there looking to come to NU but going somewhere else so they could play as freshmen.
D: Not a great game for the d. First off, the two touchdowns really shouldn't have happened, and, surprisingly, the Tigers moved the ball relatively well through the air for a team with three freshmen quarterbacks going up against an imposing secondary. However, for now, I'm going to look back the two touchdowns, and celebrate what was an absolute lockdown performance in the first quarter. This performance might have resulted in a loss if we were playing against some good team, but, luckily, it wasn't, so, we can let it go: all told, they did pretty well. The secondary wasn't great, though, and we've read too much about that unit for them not to be, so, hopefully they improve.
I'm really confident in the linebacking corps of Davie, Williams, and Johnson, by the way. Those guys are good.
Where was Corey Wootton? I barely noticed him. I was expecting to see him record somewhere near a dozen sacks after last season and after reading about how bad Towson was, but, instead, he didn't even record a tackle, and I don't really even remember seeing him that much on the field.
Our second unit gave hope for the future: that Quentin Williams pick was fun to see, and my boy Stone Pinckney recorded two tackles. Long story short, when they were on the field, the younguns looked great.
Kickin it: Stefan Demos looked good as a kicker and punter, but I've decided that to keep the poor kid's leg ligaments from turnin to puree by week 9, I think Steve Flaherty should take over kickoff duties. And I'm not saying that just cuz he's a journalism kid: Demos had seven kickoffs, no touchbacks, Flaherty had one, and one. Ball don't lie. That way, we divvy up Demos' heaping of kicking duties, and still manage not to dirty wonderchild Jeff Budzien's redshirt.
So, a huge offensive day, but it only makes one W. Admittedly, it was really, really, really, really depressing to watch - I almost cried when Towson snapped it out of the back of the end zone, and the crowd was really pathetic - but it's always good to see a W. We dodged the karma gods of college football with all the Mauro-Woodsum handoffs, and now, we can move on. On to Eastern Michigan.