Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Two Initial Reactions to the Bowl Loss

That bowl game was encouraging (fighting back from a two touchdown deficit) but ultimately disappointing. There's a ton of stuff to talk about, and we'll get to it eventually I'm sure, but I have two things I want to get out there.

One, thank goodness that the defensive coaches finally wised up, benched Aubrey Pleasant and put Jay Valai in at strong safety. By all accounts, Pleasant tries hard, is a good teammate, and a nice guy. But the only thing he's exceled at this season is the safety blitz. Otherwise, his game is adequate to poor. Valai is a smaller guy, but in that one half, he made more instinctual plays than I've seen out of Pleasant all season. In short, Valai for Pleasant replaced an almost total liability with a solid player. Notice that UT scored zero points after Valai came in. What took the coaches so long?

Second, I'm relieved that the Tyler Donovan era is over. Tyler is a tough, tough kid. But he's no more than an adequate quarterback, especially when, like in the second half, he's hobbled and/or afraid to run. I think an un-shell shocked Donovan would have taken off early on that fourth and two and gotten it. That last interception, thrown almost directly to a defender, seems symptomatic of his issues. He has problems going through progressions, he's not particularly accurate, and his timing with receivers (particularly anyone not named Swan) is poor. UW needs better quarterbacking if it wants to beat OSU and the top tier SEC teams.

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