For once, the defense stole the show. More specifically, the defensive line. Led by finally-breaking through Maxwell Onyegbule, the line mustered 5 sacks. Maybe 6. I don't know. What I do know was that is a lot of sacks, especially for a defensive line that has been a weak point ever since Charlton Keith graduated. We've all read and heard for years about the depth and talent on the D-Line, with middling results. Jake Laptad panned out, but he was the only "sure thing" on the entire line. However, seniors Onyegbule and Jeff Wheeler appear to finally be pulling out that talent, with some solid performances also coming from defensive tackles Patrick Dorsey and Caleb Blakesley.
While the defensive line was the star, though, they got plenty of help from their supporting cast. The linebacking crew is better than last year's. James Holt was a special player, and we could surely use him, but the losses of Rivera and Mortensen are almost addition by subtraction. At least in terms of the new, spread offenses that are all the rage throughout the world. Or so it seems. Arist Wright isn't making an NFL team, but he is a better player against spread offenses than Mike Rivera. For example.
And then, the revamped secondary shone. They had that one absolutely awful play, where UTEP finally got on the scoreboard on a 75-yard pass play where there were 4-5 missed tackles. It was embarrassing. It was reminiscent of some of last season's defensive lapses.
But on every other play, our defense looked pretty damn good out there. Better than last year's, for sure, and it has the potential to be even better than 2007's. More pass rush. More athletic linebackers. And while there is no Aqib Talib back there, feelin' like Deion, the secondary as a whole might be deeper. Chris Harris is playing fantastic football, Daymond Patterson is continuing his growth at corner and the three safeties are all playing well. What's funny is that the worst defensive back on Saturday night may have been Darrell Stuckey. I'm hoping it had more to do with an injury than they are letting on, because it would really suck if he isn't as dominant as he was last season. And he hasn't even approached that form so far this season.
As a whole, though, our defense is good. Really good. Good enough to entirely dominate a pretty good UTEP offense, with multiple weapons in the passing game and a runningback who averaged over 7 yards a carry against Buffalo. They didn't look like they belonged on the same field. Our offense didn't even play that well, especially Todd who played what was probably his worst game of his collegiate career. He was always a bit off, it seemed. Not to mention some special teams issues. All in all, it was far from a perfect game, with middling grades to be given to two of the game's three phases. Yet, we still won on the road by an extremely comfortable 27 points against a team projected to win the C-USA West (ahead of Houston and Tulsa, mind you) by Phil Steele and to win 10 games by SI.
Some more, assorted thoughts after the jump...
So, yeah, we pretty well covered the defense up there, so here are just some more, assorted thoughts and stuff.
- Was it the water, Todd? I sure hope so, because that wasn't so hot. Todd Reesing is definitely not so hott right now. It wasn't entirely bad, but yeah, it wasn't that good, either.
- Jake Sharp, way to break out your senior year. You are a boss. You are awesome. You have the second-most rushing yards in the Big 12 so far this season. After Texas Tech. Oh, no, wait. That isn't it at all.
- Before you go to sleep tonight, make sure and thank Charlie Weis and other stupid coaches for only recruiting Toben Opurum as a fullback. I don't really know why. Big backs have a place in spread offenses, too. I promise. He's like a more athletic, quicker Brandon McAnderson. That is ridiculous. He's only a true freshman, and it's only been two games, so it's too early to get too excited, but still -- ohmygoodness. It'll be a fun 3/4 years, folks.
- It can't be that hard to snap the ball, can it? Because, uh, we've now tried two people in as many games, and I can't count how many times the ball has gone over Todd Reesing's head or under his belt. I know he's a short dude, but come on. Hopefully it had to do with Thorson's rustiness and Hatch's flu-like symptoms, because those would be easier to solve than teaching somebody to accurately snap a ball. Also, our offensive line as a whole is looking good. Except for that snapping nonsense. Like I said.
- Welcome back, Dezmon Briscoe. I'm expecting that every week. Have fun in the NFL next year!
- Jacob Branstetter, please stop sucking. Thanks. Keep it up with the kickoffs, though.
Nobody is going to read this anyways. And now ends the worst recap in the history of recaps.