Upon Further Review: Playing Championship Level Defense

If you happened to miss the game,  I advise you to do two things: a) Watch it and b) Don't read a box score until you watch it. Why? Because the box score doesn't tell the whole story.

Truth be told, we smacked that ass all night long. The game was never in doubt (not even when Vick Ballard scored to put MSU down by 5. Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever seen a bigger discrepancy between the box score and the way the game actually played out. For god's sake, they outgained us! But how? Why? It must be our shitty shitty offense right?! It's cause Chavis plays bend don't break, right? It's cause we're terrible!!!!! No. No. And no. More mania after the jump.

I'm approaching this recap a bit differently, so I apologize in advance. It's 4:30 a.m., and I'm still drinking. *cracks another beer* This week won't include all the typical player blurbs from the previous two weeks (I may include them in the comments later on). It won't include descriptions of the TDs. I'm just gonna ramble nonsense about the game and probably wake up tomorrow hungover and heavily criticized.

-Shelve the "offense sucks" bullshit for one week. We steamrolled this team. If they put us on the 20 for all of our drives, our yardage total would have been leaps and bounds better. But the fact is, we spent most of the game at midfield or better (due to returns, turnovers, etc.), so it prohibited our offense from actually rolling up a great amount of yardage.

-JJ played well. 10/16 for 97 yards won't shoot him up anyone's Heisman ballet, but he was firm and in control. His throws weren't wildly errant as they were last week. He seemed to be focused, and he seemed to be enjoying himself. For those at the game who didn't rewatch, the sideline reporter "reported" that he was "rocking out" to Miley Cyrus.Look, get used to the fact that he's never going to light up the stat box. He's a game manager. He'll take care of the ball, hand it off and make sure we don't get beat by stupid mistakes. Enough of you pine for one of these, you get one and you hate him. Mattt Flynn and Matt Mauck were NOT game managers, for the record.

-Just another week, just another 4.0 ypc for Stevan Ridley. Please. Give. Him. All. Carries. Now.

-Seriously, Alfred Blue had his shot. Two fumbles in two weeks, plus a few blown blocking assignments... just isn't going to get it done. I'm all about spelling the backs to make sure they stay fresh, but Ridley has earned his stripes. He's plowing head and doing work as a runner. He can catch it out of the backfield (he bailed our asses out against Arkansas last year). I'm not sure where Mike Ford stands with this coaching staff. Spencer Ware hasn't had a proper attempt yet. Richard Murphy is... injured... again. You don't need a committee when you have a steamroller. Just roll with it.

-The offensive line is demonstrably better this year. First of all, we can actually get a push. Last year, we couldn't move a pile against the Brady Bunch. No more. We're still young and still learning... but showing a lot of promise. I particularly like PJ manning the center.

-It's rarely talked about, but consider this: We're starting a brand new LT, C, RG, RT, 2 WR, 1 RB, 1 FB, and 2 or 3 TEs. Just sit back and think on that a minute. This isn't a group that has played together for a two or three years now. Sure, some of them have played in spots, but not on a consistent basis. Why, exactly, would anyone expect a group to just step on the field and suddenly mesh? Good offense takes chemistry, timing, organization... comfort. We're still finding our way around all our parts... but I feel like each week we get closer and closer to something special.

-This is a young team. Really young. Can our starting QB even legally drink yet? 5 of our best players are So. or younger. Young teams tend to grow easiest (they have the most room for it).

-Shep has a ways to go as a WR. He's exciting as a playmaker, but he needs to start seeing more looks as a runner than receiver. Three weeks in a row he's dropped easy passes, and tonight he dropped a TD (not an easy one though). This is part of the reason for killed drives, and he'll need to continue to refine that aspect of his game. But he's young, talented and dedicated. I know he'll improve as time wears on.

-I know it seems like Toliver has been nearly non-existent in this offense thus far, but do yourself a favor and watch him on running plays. I've seen him wear out more than a few defensive backs on the way to big gainers for us. He's truly an unselfish player.

-Joe B. got a false start start. Honestly, the first thing I've heard about him. Typically a good sign for your LT. Significant improvement on that side.

-Chris Relf and Tyler Russell gave us some fits as mobile QBs. It's bound to happen. I actually thought we did a pretty good job of containing Relf, all things considered. We won't face another mobile QB until we get Cam Newton. How we respond to that should be interesting.

-Would have liked to see the offense get a little more work late in the game when we kicked that last field goal. I know Miles was doing the "classy" thing, but that was an opportune time to work on some red zone passing stuff. Instead we hit it up inside 3 straight times and kicked a semi-meaningless FG (it only had meaning for the record books).

-Speaking of semi-meaningless kickers, Josh Jasper is not one of them. If he's not SEC ST Player of the Week, something went horribly wrong. Kicking, punting... I thought he may have even blown a few of the MSU passes into our defensive backs' hands.

-People still fail to understand the Chavis defense. I heard more bitching about "Bend don't break" "3rd and Chavis" yatta yatta yatta last year than I care to even acknowledge. Look, last year's D was severely limited by a lack of substantial talent up front. They failed to consistently get a push. And we were STILL GOOD. This year's D has a dominating front 4, with a back 7 that can more than hold their own. Here's the long and short of Chavis' philosophy: we'll give you the underneath. If you can dink and dunk up the field to us for 12 play 80 yard drives, then by all means, go for it. But the fact is, the more plays you play, the more likely you are to make a mistake. And when you make a mistake, we're gonna prey. Philosophically, it's the same as the Tampa 2. Very few offenses at the collegiate level are talented enough to check down play after play after play for multiple drives. He blends that with a high volume pressure scheme (we blitz a lot) and a few exotic looks and voila! We're cooking.

-I was waiting for Peterson to have a game like this. Vs. UNC he was great on returns, inconsistent in coverage. Vs. Vandy, his coverage didn't look great on one play, but he was also hardly tested. Tonight, still not exactly greatly tested, but he showed his skills. The first INT was a thing of pure beauty... the type of play only a guy like Peterson can make. 5 INTs for the night for the team is a pretty solid day at the office.

-Did I mention we dominated this team? MSU is a very solid team who is on the rise and we pretty much mopped the floor with them.

-Would be nice to see us finish some drives. The 4 FGs in the first half were somehow discouraging, because we failed to punch even one in for a TD. There' s a lot of growing room left for this offense.

-Back on the defense, but I cannot stress this enough. We're playing championship-level defense. We gang tackle. We capitalize. We rush. We cover. We hit. There are very few things we don't do as a defense.

-Does anyone besides Bama really scare you on our schedule? I'm less and less worried by the week...

-How do you spell legit? M-A-T-H-I-E-U. Uhh, nice to know the spot vacated by PP7 next year will be held down by Mathieu. This kid is just a football player. Always around the ball, athletic, fast, tough... you gotta love him. He may not be the tallest, but he's a competitor. As a blitzer, he came like a man possessed on numerous occasions and  caused a raucous on on plays, even if not getting the sack. This kid is a true game changer at CB. I'm talking a CFB version of Revis-island. He's that good.

-How many of you are naming your baby Peterson?

-Are the rest of you naming your baby Jasper?

-This team reminds me a bit of the 2006 UF squad. Shaky QB with promise. Good running the ball. Dominant defense. I'll take their outcome anyday.

-I'm glad Kelvin Sheppard and Drake Nevis are on our side.

-What an odd game. We severely dominated them. Yet somehow they had more yards and more T.O.P. We punted the ball once. And turned it over once (late). Otherwise, we were never stopped on offense. That should give you some indication of how good of field position we played with all night.

-Please can we stop running JJ. I know we got the TD, and that's a nice play to run every now and again. But please, no more outside runs. No more option (short side or not, it sucks). No more designed rollout runs. JJ is athletic enough to manufacture a good scramble and occasionally break one for a solid game, but he's not a runner. Please Gary, stop.

-Speaking of Gary. Still waiting for him to get shitcanned. The sooner... the better. Nothing against the guy personally, but this brand of offense is baffling at best.

-We've played 11 quarters of dominant football. Don't forget that.

-Take heart, Tiger fans. This team is still growing, and I'm seeing signs of improvement every week. They are nowhere close to a finished product... but there's a lot to be excited about.

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