I am a good golfer. 4 handicap. I was good in high school. And as a junior. But I just wasn’t as good in the big matches as I was in practice. I’m still probably that way. I shot one under two weeks ago ona . really good course…alone. But put me with my close friend Tom who is a retired golf pro, or with my best childhood friend from NLR, and I struggle to break 85. I press. Freak out a little. Conversely, I was always better in performance than rehearsal as a singer. That’s probably why I went into music. I controlled my nerves and therefore my abilities better under pressure in one area of my life than another.
I only mention myself because its helping me try to figure out what the heck is wrong with kids that we hear are excelling in practice, but not in games. With the WR’s its easy to explain. They are green, green, green. None of them made a meaningful contribution last year except Jared. They need game experience. That will hopefully fix them…and one or two will rise up and be what we need.
I REALLY wonder about some of our offensive lineman in this way. Especially our tackles. I have watched Brett Bielema teams for a long time. He knows how to put together an offensive line. I have no doubt of that. But, since Pittman left, and Anderson (and Enos) arrived, the line play has gone down. I don’t know if it was poor recruiting, or if Anderson’s and maybe Eno’s methods and schemes are too complex for the kids they have…or what. But there is no denying the play has fallen off.
Which brings me to my opening point: do they play better in practice than games? Are we waiting for “the light to come on” with an obviously physically gifted Colton Jackson…(or formerly Brian Wallace…)…but they just don’t perform as well in games as practice? Are schemes too complex for our o-lineman? or are they just freezing under pressure?
I am sure putting Ty Clary in allowed us to get our best 5 on the field. But it means Johnny Gipson moved to a new position 2 weeks before we opened. Having been at guard through last season and spring. I could be wrong. Maybe the techniques are more similar than I realize. But I wouldn’t think that has helped him excel. I understand the thinking…and it may be best for the long haul. But it has probably hindered Johnny a little. #74 is more frustrating. I know Colton’s play was a concern of Clay’s because he talked about it on Bo’s show…and he said he watched him in the first scrimmage. Every snap. Somehow he is clearly practicing better than he produces on gameday. The staff seems to like Jackson’s attitude and see his potential. And sometimes he indeed looks great. Other times he just whiffs.
Wallace is a long-standing frustration. I told my wife…who is a violinist and a teacher…not a football fan…that the coach’s were having to coach up Wallace via earpiece in practices…and she said “that’s a horrible sign. If you have to hold someone’s hand mentally, you can’t trust them in the performance.” Granted…performance equals game in my wife’s vocabulary…but she’s right. Its sad. The coach’s clearly have tried to get Wallace ready. He clearly doesn’t practice well…or at least doesn’t seem to grasp the concepts they want him to. Bielema has lauded his upper body strength…and while he isn’t nimble on his feet…he was not horrible in pass pro last year that I recall (maybe he was…I need to go back and watch). He is a mauler…and what they want in the run game. No question. Maybe we will see him again soon. Somewhere.
Maybe the staff needs to see if others play better in games. Jake Raulerson may not be physically what they want at left tackle. But if I see Colton stand there as someone blows by him one more time I may send a raven to Fayetteville with the message “Winter is no longer coming. Winter is here. Play the reliable people.” (That should of course be read in one’s best Jon Snow voice…)
I don’t recall Raulerson looking confused as to who to block…or just whiffing. Again…maybe I need to go back and watch. (Or maybe I should just go have a Guinness and shut the H up).
On a different track…I read a couple of posts criticizing the running backs. I went back and watched…and Clay may have seen some things I didn’t…but I didn’t see many lanes or cut-backs the running backs missed. Devwah might have missed one. But we were really getting whipped on the flanks. Or…if not whipped…just missed reads or assignments. I saw tackles take inside player and let safeties and LBers fly in from the perimeter multiple times. Especially in the red zone.
Oh…and to the “where is Hayden crowd”…please explain how you can play a running back at tailback that doesn’t pass muster in pass pro. Yet, anyway. I want to hear this explanation. You gonna secure a promise from the opposition that they won’t just walk everyone up to the LOS as they know you won’t throw with that payer in the game?
OK…that’s enough. I think I am writing to vent. I’ll shut up now.