First off, it wasn't as bad as it seemed. Yes, the team relaxed after we went up 24-6, and the defense gave up 2 really long drives and a third medium length drive in the first half, but I was impressed with how the team responded coming out of halftime. Guys were going in and out of the game with cramps (Gurley was out with cramps as early as immediately after his TD on the kickoff return), we had the suspensions/injuries, and it was just a rough day due to the heat and humidity. However, there were definitely some concerns that came out of this game:
1. Depth - Richt has been maintaining all along that we still had plenty of players despite the shortage of scholarship athletes. But today really reinforced how dangerously thin we are in some areas, especially in the secondary right now. I felt like the guy we missed the most was Rambo.....God bless Connor Norman, I know he works hard and knows the defense backwards and forwards, but the guy just isn't an SEC-caliber athlete. Especially in the first half, he got blocked out of seemingly every running play they had, whereas Rambo seems to always be there to clean up when a runner breaks through the line. If Rambo's suspension really does end up being a lengthy one, I hope we see Corey Moore getting a shot back there.
2. Murray continues to be streaky - overall, his numbers weren't that bad. He was one completion short of 60%, had over 250 yards, 3 TD's, and no interceptions. All in all, not a bad day's work. But there's a difference between a guy with a 60% completion rate who completes 6 out of every 10 throws, and a guy who completes 12 straight passes, then misses the next 8 in a row........it's great when he's hot, but when he misses those next 8, it just takes all the momentum out of the game for your team (yes, I'm exaggerating a bit, he never had 8 straight misses or 12 straight completions, but he was very hot and cold). Once he settled down, he definitely played better, and had a couple of nice deep throws, but I was really expecting a little more consistency from him yesterday. But again, his overall stats were solid, so I'm not intending to be too critical, but I think everyone - including Murray himself - has higher expectations for him this year.
3. Injuries - Yikes, Theus didn't look good hobbling off the field. Mitchell was on crutches. Malcome's hand. If you'd asked me to list 5 guys we absolutely couldn't have injuries to, Mitchell and Theus definitely would have been on the list. I hope the injuries aren't as bad as they looked.
4. Defending against a mobile QB - Ok, I've seen it noted in several places that our coaches spent way more time preparing for Mizzou than they did for Buffalo. However, Mizzou has a very mobile QB, so if we've been preparing to defend against that, then the 1st half defensive lapses are a little hard to explain. I don't doubt that Grantham will have us ready to play a lot better this week, but it still makes you worry a bit.
Now for some of the positives:
1. Todd Gurley - Don't think I need to say much here, other than he is now at the top of my list of guys we absolutely cannot have get injured. Marshall wasn't quite as impressive, but wasn't a disappointment either.....he seemed a bit "stiff" at times, but as he gets more comfortable, I think both these guys are gonna be fun to watch.
2. Jordan Jenkins - That kid is QUICK off the line. He was blatantly held on one play in the first half after blowing by the tackle (I have no idea how that one wasn't called), and was in the backfield several other times throughout the game. Grantham obviously feels like Jenkins still has a lot to learn because he was pretty much only on the field in passing situations, but he's going to fill in nicely whenever Jarvis Jones moves on to the NFL.
3. Damian Swann - I was really impressed with him. He looks big, strong, fast, and confident.
4. We won pretty convincingly - look at the scores from around the country. There were many less than impressive performances this week (SC, UF, Arky, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, etc). But at the end of the day, we scored 45 points and the 4th quarter was just a formality, playing in some pretty rough heat/humidity. The forecast in Columbia, MO this Saturday is calling for a high in the low 80's, so especially with a night kickoff, the conditions should be much better and I expect the team to look much sharper.
5. Second half adjustments - the offense was still hot and cold in the 2nd half, but the defense came out and really shut things down. Buffalo started moving the ball again when we were putting in all of our backups in the 4th quarter, but the first stringers definitely responded to what I'm sure was very gentle prodding by Grantham at halftime.
Ultimately, it was a solid win. Would you categorize it as an "impressive" win? No, not even close. We must play much better if we're going to win in Columbia. But there was nothing I saw that makes me worry too much either. Think back to last year, about how much better we looked in Week 2 than we did in Week 1. If we see a similar improvement this year (and Murray can avoid the turnovers he had in Week 2 last year), we're gonna be just fine.
What did you guys think? What did I leave out? How do you feel going into the Mizzou game after watching us play?