Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cleaning up the Cards

Well it was a pretty eventful weekend for the Cat Basket. I missed the first half of the Louisville game because of a flight to Houston and Jason Jones spent some time in the hospital with food poisoning. So, while we might not have been fully conscious or aware of what all went on in the game, I'm here to bring some things to the forefront.

First off, congrats to Bill Stull for earning player of the week. One month ago I would have said he had no chance at ever earning the honor, but he done everything we have asked of him and it is paying off.

I don't think you can congratulate Billy without mentioning what a good job Frank Cignetti Jr. has done working with him. Stull is no longer asked to do things he simply can not do. Instead we're seeing what every good coach does with his players. FCj has been able to hide Stull's deficiencies and allowed him to run an offense where he has the full opportunity to succeed. I can only hope this means that we will see much more improvement from the other quarterbacks on our roster and the two young men we have committed for next year.

While keeping on the point of using a person's strengths, how great is it to see Dorin reclaim the "Scorin Dorin" tag we labeled on him as a freshman. It's almost like when you buy something at a flea market and come home to find it's worth much more than you expected it to be. That must have been how FCj felt when he came here and saw what we have in Dorin. Great play calling has gotten him the opportunity to line up against players he can either out run or out muscle. He has been an underutilized weapon until this point, but mark my words, he will be a nice weapon for someone to add at the next level.

Dorin is not the only "where did we find this guy" type player. All throughout camp Jason Jones told everyone how great Ray Graham was. Minus a few fumbles, a case could be made that he was the best back in the group. Now after a solid performance in Louisville, we're finding out this isn't just the Dion show, but rather we have co-headliners on this tour. Dion's "shake" and Graham's "bake" is a great duo to have and can really lead to problems for many teams we will play down the line.

Have you noticed throughout this season how we haven't been talking about the offensive line? What a great topic to finally not have to discuss. Malecki is looking like one of the best offensive linemen we have had in quite some time (not including Otah). He stays low in his blocks, can move when he has to, and rarely finds himself out of position or making a bad play. He is a guy that we are going to sorely miss when his time here is complete.

Cam Saddler most likely won't be playing on Saturday which is a shame for everyone in attendance. He is everything you want from a returner. He has speed, he has elusiveness, but the thing that stands out to me is that he has a forward drive. You don't see him trying to shake off too many people when he gets the ball. He goes forward as fast as he can which is exactly what a returner should be doing.

It was nice to see us reduce the number of penalties this game. We still had some costly ones, but it was no where as bad as we have seen this season. We still have some work to do, but we are improving and that is all you can ask for.

There were two big returns this week. The first being the return of the defensive line we expected to see. We piled up 6 sacks, 3.5 of which came from Greg Romeus. We need our line to bring the pressure to compensate for our poor secondary. Getting 6 sacks is certainly a great way to get back on track.

The other big return was seeing Adam Gunn back in action. Jones and I have said several times how surprised we are to see his level of play. He did not look all that great when he was playing outside linebacker, however his spot in the middle seems to be a true home for him. It just seems like everyone on defense plays a bit stronger and more confident when he is out there on the field.

Lastly, is there any chance we can put together a complete game? Navy was the closest thing we had to a complete game to this point. Against NC State, Buffalo, and now Louisville we've seen the team struggle for extended periods of time in the game. There is no reason to be losing to a team like Louisville at half-time. If we want to be contenders against Cincy in the Big East, we need to play well from start to finish. The defense must remain strong and the offense needs to sustain drives. If we have some of these early or late slip ups, it certainly could be the difference between playing somewhere warm this winter or playing up in Toronto.

With UConn ahead I'm not too worried about this one. As long as DJ Hernandez doesn't show up and look like Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford combined, I don't see how we will lose this game. A nice Saturday afternoon should be able to draw a fairly decent crowd to watch us improve to 5-1, but more importantly, 2-0 in the Big East.

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