Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mid-season grades - the offense

No football game today. Right smack dab in the middle of the season. So this gives us a chance to look at the team position by position in terms of how things have progressed. First let's tackle the offense.
Gates opening up a big one for Marshall.
  • Quarterback - B+. Before crumbling against the Gamecocks, Murray was putting up some terrific numbers. He's seemed more poised in the pocket, checking off defenders more consistently, has good and confident footwork, spreading the ball around to different targets, and his deep ball has been more accurate which has allowed for more yards per catch. Even if it all came crashing down in Columbia I believe he's worthy of the grade given that he's been doing this behind a line that is still developing. Hopefully he can regain some confidence in his protection while in Lexington. 
  • Running Back - B+. Some early hiccups in pass protection followed by an all out onslaught as a "Gurshall" phenomenon, then a reminder that freshmen flaws tend to get exposed in big games. And boy did they. The bottom line here is that Marshall and Gurley have proven that they are homerun threats any time they touch the ball. This is what Georgia fans have been waiting on in the backfield. Hold on tight!
  • O-line - C. Continue to be a work in progress, but have shown improvement overall since the beginning of the season. Theus' trial by fire will eventually reward Coach Friend for the confidence. And Gates' move to LT has been a good answer there when Clowney isn't on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. If Dantzler comes back healthy and we can start rotating Beard in, eventually I would expect this grade to keep creeping up. Oh, and while we're at it - #FreeKoltonHouston!
  • Tight end - A. Lynch and Rome have combined for 8 catches, 184 yards and a touchdown. Pretty modest numbers compared to what Orson Charles was putting up last season. However, the added dimension of having tight ends that can block is something that has opened things up offensively and I believe will continue to pay dividends. Rome is athletic and big. Lynch is an absolute beast with tremendous potential. These guys are just getting warmed up.
  • Receiver - A. Probably should be an A+ except for that last game. Not many other positions on the team could lose their most productive player and not produce sweaty palms and worried looks. These guys are not only getting open, they are also blocking downfield and helping to turn modest plays into big gainers. Brown and Wooten stand the most to gain from Bennett's absence, which was clearly felt last week. Murray has given plenty of opportunities to all of them. Time to step up and keep the ball rolling.
One lasting question in the wake of Bennett's injury, who will develop as Murray's go to guy in #82's absence? Bennett has been the guy on third down when you needed those yards. He's been clutch. At some point in the remainder of the season someone will have to fill that void.

Overall, the offense has been a pleasant surprise and fun to watch. There's at least one tall test remaining in Jacksonville. If we can avoid those tense 4th down situations that we powered through last year it would do my heart a world of good. Tomorrow or Monday we'll grade the defense, without a curve.