Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From good to better - pass protection

We're still waiting for Aaron Murray to have that breakout game. But I think a few things are proving to be insurmountable barriers. The play calling has improved since Boise State, but really it had nowhere to go but up. The no huddle is working but we have trouble establishing it as a consistent threat, taking it from early game difference maker to late game effectiveness.

But the biggest hindrance to Murray has been his own line of defense against the opposing behemoths. Many want Murray benched. They're small in numbers, but they're fairly loud about their frustrations. But it's hard to make the case that Hutson Mason would've thrown fewer picks this season after taking a similar beating in the opener.

Yesterday, special teams. Today...

Pass protection

The offensive line started the season pretty numbers. Since then they've only become thinner. However, either the run blocking has improved as we've gone along or our tailback has done enough to mask the inefficiencies. Probably a little of both.

But they're on pace to give up over 30 sacks this season. For some background, last year we gave up 25, which was good for 66th nationally. So far this season we're ranked 98th. And that is with a pretty mobile quarterback.

We should get Chris Burnette back this week. I'm sure Coach Friend would love some extra hours in the day to develop his young pups like Dantzler, Andrews and Lee...who I think has done a pretty good job filling in. Still (as AthensHomer pointed out yesterday), Friend has to go with who he's got and that's going to mean a lot of reps for 5-6 guys and a lot of hands on hips late in the game.

As the season wears on the more likely we are to have linemen playing outside of their comfort zone, maybe playing guard instead of tackle or vice versa. And we're also likely to see fatigue set in earlier rather than later. But then is the time the smaller things become even more important. Such as Gates selling out like a run block on a play action pass, or Anderson not setting those feet too hard as a defender comes around the edge.

The longer #11 can stay vertical the closer we get to seeing that breakout game.

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