As others have mentioned, what I saw in game 1 was not exactly what I expected to see, but the opponent, some troubling trends carried over from last year, and circumstances played a role in our performance. Struggling in a win, during the first game of the year, on the road, against a BCS conference opponent is not something to get too excited about. However, there were some things that I saw that if they continue will likely cause us to have a disappointing season. The good:
*QB. Jefferson was not perfect, but for his first road test of his career in a hostile environment, he performed very well. If he can continue to build off that performance, QB will be a strength for us this year. He seems very poised, seems to have good leadership skills, and demonstrates an ability to make plays with both his feet and his arm.
*Top 2 WR. Lafell and Tolliver are the best tandem in the SEC and maybe the country. Our skill players on the edge was a clear advantage for us, and one we did not fully take advantage of from a play calling perspective.
*Keiland. That was the best game I've seen out of Keiland in a while. His speed matched with Jefferson running the option is a nice package. Even though their yards were similar, I think Keiland had a better game than Scott.
*Intangibles. The team did not panic when they got down on the road and were able to respond to each challenge from Washington with a score. We won despite the longest road trip in our programs history, despite not having any film of Washington with their new coaching staff, despite a courageous effort by the opponent and a less than stellar one by LSU.
*CB. Peterson is a beast. Hawkins and Eugene are very good as well. The pass play that Eugene gave up was just a perfect throw and route. He had good coverage. Our corners in man-to-man are as good as you'll see this year on the same team.
*Defensive Line. This is a carry over from last year. Last year I expected our line to be great and it was mediocre. This year I didn't quite know what to expect but believed that because most of these kids were highly recruited, coupled with a new DC and DL coach that they would be pretty good. What I saw was a line that was undisciplined and very average. There was little to no discpline in the first half on staying in their lanes to read the run/pass. Our DE were swallowed up way too many times on running plays off tackle and outside. Despite 45 passing attempts we only had 1 sack. This needs to get corrected and quick or every team that can spread us out, will take advantage of our Dline.
*Safety. Where were they? Again, like last year, we had trouble covering down the middle of the field.
*O line. No push in the running game. Ok in pass protection.
*#3 and #4 WR? Who on this team will step up to help Lafell and Tolliver. After game 1 we still don't know.
*Game plan. Our plan on offense looked to me like we fully expected to go into Seattle and line up and just beat these guys. We didn't complete our 2nd pass until a few minutes before half time. Had we recognized our clear advantage at WR and gone into the game with the intent to exploit it from the very begining of the game, this game may have been put away much sooner. Defensively, the zone coverages, again do not seem to be our forte.
To summarize, I saw alot to get excited about on the offensive side of the ball. I can see us being very dangerous offensively as we mature and as Crowton gets more comfortable opening things up. On defense, I do think we'll get better than what we saw on Saturday, but by how much it's uncertain. If our D-line play doesn't improve and our ability to cover receivers across the middle doesn't improve, we will struggle defensively against every team that has a decent passing game (ARK, FL, Ole Miss, AL - yes against VT their QB made enough plays to seem serviceable in this area). Having said all that, one game is too early to draw many conclusions from, but we get another test from a decent team this Saturday. By the time we roll out of Georgia we'll know more or less if these troubling trends are going to haunt us all year.