In an effort to switch things up, some BTP contributors had a group chat like the old days of AOL chat rooms. If you don’t know what AOL is, well first of all, I hate you for being young, secondly go ask your parents or maybe an older and likely cooler cousin.
TheRealEssad: I thought we could start by talking about QB1. I think McKay played really well for his first start. The main thing that stood out to me was his comfort level. He didn’t look like he needed much time to acclimate to the game speed. What stood out to you with his play?
PirateWolf: He struggled with a few of the deep throws, but his throws were off where you want them to be off: not in jeopardy of being picked off or leaving the WR vulnerable to a big hit. I agree, he looked comfortable and not rushed. It didn’t seem like he had a lights-out game, but then you looked at the stats and it was a “holy shit, that was better than it seemed” performance.
In a word: promising
TheRealEssad: Agreed. I am hoping the accuracy gets honed in over time. Many people have noted that Finley was similar when he first started.
That pinpoint accuracy we got used to with Finley is probably too much to expect right off the bat with McKay. He was able to make those back shoulder throws, or putting the jumpballs right where he knew Jakoby and Kelvin could go up and get them.
I did like McKay’s accuracy on the slant routes, and the wheel route to Tabari Hines was really well thrown.
PirateWolf: That comparison is true, and impressive when you consider the “run-first” reputation (whether right or wrong) that McKay had coming in. He looked like a truly balanced QB, not a tendency-driven QB
TheRealEssad: Yeah, we need someone akin to Russell Wilson, who can use his mobility to create time to pass, not just quit on the play and take off. Looks like he did just that. Obviously this is just one game, and a faster defense may bring that out, but it was promising.
I also think the schedule lines up to give him 4 games to get his feet under him before ACC play
JEOHankins2: I’m in the same boat...right now, fair or not, I think McKay looks like a well-developed smart college QB who won’t break many records or does anything that wows you...but he looked good commanding the offense, I was so impressed by how well he seemed to understand the playbook.
His missed throws were tough as there were a couple that would’ve blown the game open earlier...but hey! we just had NFL QBs for 5 years straight...perspective is skewed!
TheRealEssad: We’ve definitely spent the better part of two decades being spoiled, that’s for sure. But while we’re talking QB’s, did you have any thoughts on Hockman’s time?
He didn’t get many passing opportunities, but the throw he had looked sharp.
PirateWolf: I was really hoping with the game well in hand, Hockman would have been put in a series or two earlier. That mop up duty does nothing. It would have been nice to see him actually run a real offense.
TheRealEssad: I tie that with DD’s conservative tendency. He wanted to save McKay from possible injury, and run the ball to kill the clock.
It might also speak to his confidence in McKay and feeling like he doesn’t need to see Hockman show him something.
PirateWolf: That’s probably true, but unfortunately it leaves us not knowing anything about Hockman.
So, moving on from QB.
Emezie and Thayer Thomas are known quantities, they both played well, but that wasn’t surprising. Who were some of the lesser known players/newcomers that impressed you? For me, Jordan Houston and Keyon Lesane had some impressive flashes.
JEOHankins2: Really liked what we got out of Houston too...is it cool to say Tabari Hines? I think he’s been discussed as a contributer...but if I’m correct dude had over 100 yards of total offense plus a TD?
TheRealEssad:108 yards to be exact
JEOHankins2: Yeah! We’ve had speed on Doeren’s teams before but it has often felt regulated to one maybe two guys...Nyheim Hines comes to mind of course...but Hines the sequel along with Jordan Houston, Knight gives us such a more varied threat on the perimeter.
TheRealEssad: The sequel, I like that haha.
It’s certainly an interesting time for this team. We have lost a a lot of guys where we knew what to expect. There is the possibility that this new crop could grow to be even better, in my opinion. They have time to get there, but it’s impressive to have this much speed all over the field.
JEOHankins2: 100% agree...it makes the CJ Riley news hurt even more because of the added weapon he could’ve been.
PirateWolf: To me, the most impressive new/unknown player was Payton Wilson. He showed a combination of speed and instincts not common for a redshirt freshman.
JEOHankins2: Oh yes...if I knew nothing and you told me that Wilson was a backup last year, I would’ve believed you watching his performance.
TheRealEssad: Agreed, I think that’s a good seque to the defense as a whole. Moving Tanner Ingle to Safety seems to be one of Doeren’s best decisions, in a string of successful decisions to change people’s positions.
PirateWolf: Ingle’s forced fumble on Ahlers on the opening drive was huge. Deflated ECU and got the momentum back for State and took a huge amount of pressure off McKay’s first drive.
TheRealEssad: It does seem like our guys were really going after the ball in a different way this game in a way I can’t say I’ve seen before. They were trying to force fumbles, over time this could really pay dividends.
JEOHankins2: He seems to be having the time of his life at FS, the trial by fire at Nickel I think may have been the best thing for him.
Thats a great point about TOs...Doeren stated quite a bit in offseason that their focus was to cause more TOs this year...I think most of us thought directly about INTs, but it does look like they are attacking the ball carrier more.
TheRealEssad: Here’s hoping that trend continues.
PirateWolf: That goes back to the team speed aspect. When you can get more people to the ball, that second wave can go for the strip.
JEOHankins2: No doubt.
TheRealEssad: The secondary looked improved overall. They were still giving that annoying cushion, but not many yards after the catch.
JEOHankins2: Yeah ECU’s first drive felt like deja vu from last year...the year before...year before that...
TheRealEssad: “here we go again..”
JEOHankins2: oh exactly...but as you said they did look improved Ingram I think will be a star for us one day...hope that starts showing this year.
PirateWolf: Yep. It changed quickly. Not sure if ECU just scripted that opening drive incredibly well or of State made adjustments quickly - or maybe both - but the pass defense got tight in a hurry.
TheRealEssad: In the early years of DD’s tenure, it seemed like he had his ways and didn’t look to change things that weren’t working. But I get the impression he’s actively surrounded himself with a staff that is pushing him to grow.
PirateWolf: ECU picked on Ingram early in those first two drives. After that, I didn’t notice him getting attacked as much. Not sure if State rolled help his way or what.
TheRealEssad: I think they shifted thing around with the LB corps to remove passing lanes
DD has said the LB depth is a great asset right now.
JEOHankins2: Yeah and it feels like in the past our speed at LB wasn’t good enough to clog those passing lanes as plays developed.
TheRealEssad: Being just that step too slow has cost us many times. There’s still chances for them to make mental mistakes given their youth, but those they can learn from. It’s hard to teach speed.
JEOHankins2: Thats true...frightening to think about these guys next year once the youth factor is mitigated a bit!
One other shift that impressed me was the change to 3-down linemen. Given that we were still able to get 3 sacks and 8 TFL’s.
PirateWolf: I’m trying to keep myself grounded and prevent excessive hype, but this team looks good. I know ECU has been awful the last three years and got beat 34-6 this week, but I think this win is going to get more impressive as the season goes on. That’s likely a bowl team State just blasted and held out of the endzone.
JEOHankins2: Yeah I am with you there...ECU didn;t look awful enough that they can’t win 6 games in the American thats not Memphis or UCF.
We also got the benefit of seeing how below average WVU looks, how bad WF defense is, GT, Chapel Hill...
And right now Louisville, had their hyped first half...but Jawan Pass still can’t do his last name.
PirateWolf: Haha. Very true.
Just temper expectations... Even as hard as that can be.
TheRealEssad: Haha I was going to mention them, were we underrating Louisville potentially.
Hey, even Duke held Bama scoreless for a quarter
JEOHankins2: haha right!
TheRealEssad: The team should (*SHOULD*) be able to go into Tallahassee being 4-0 while giving everyone 4 games of experience. Obviously anything can happen, but at the very least the schedule lines up to help them.
JEOHankins2: Thats my hope...I think the Mizzou game and how WVU plays plus the outcome will tell us a lot about what we should expect that weekend.
I wanted to ask...b/c I am also getting irrationally optimistic....what areas do you think we need improvement on?
TheRealEssad: 3rd DOWN CONVERSIONS!
We could have hung 50+ if we could have kept some more drives going
JEOHankins2: Yeah, that felt so strange to me...product of offensive playcalling? Did we just not convert? What was it?
TheRealEssad: We ended up in a lot of 3rd and long situations, which Finley and co were able to bail us out of last year.
JEOHankins2: Yeah thats true.
TheRealEssad: Not sure the specific cause, but it needs to be fixed.
PirateWolf: Ball security. State was very fortunate to get back both fumbles that the O lut on the ground.
PirateWolf: And one of McKay’s TD runs was a busted play where he or the RB weren’t on the same page with the side for the handoff/read. That play gets blown up by a better D.
JEOHankins2: Funny, that has felt like a running theme through CFB these past two weekends.
TheRealEssad: Also Devin Carter and Jasiah Provillon will have to get up to speed VERY quickly to replace CJ Riley. They have been tapped to replace him and they are redshirt freshmen. Hines, and maybe even Person, might make appearances there. But we don’t yet know who the second wideout will be.
As they might continue to shift guys around.
JEOHankins2: Yeah luckily they have two games in WCU and Ball State where they could get plenty of burn...I’d like to see Hines start alongside Emezie against WVU...a vet with plenty of experience on the road.
This was a test, and we’ll likely tweak it moving forward, and include some different voices. Let us know if this is something we should do again, or if there’s a specific format you’d like to see.