81 Stalagian, A good game summary from a knowledgeable Falcon Fan...FalconMike
First, I watched the game at a sports bar in Falls Church, VA with a
friend--no audio available...
I think this was our most satisfying win of the season on many levels. I don't think anyone expected the final score we saw after the first possession by each team. CSU's offensive line was creating gaping holes, passing at will, and we had -15 yard on 3 plays. Our offensive line seemed to be mired in mud and Tim Jefferson (TJ) was making his pitches MUCH too early to have any positive effect on the Colorado State pursuit. We were getting very little penetration on defense also. I ordered another beer.
You could tell, though, that the cogs were turning in our coaching staff's brains as Tim DeRuyter and the defensive coaches experimented with blitz coverage schemes and Troy Calhoun turned a few pages in the play book and answered all of our hopes with some key first and second down passes.
On offense, what was predicted all week by the geniuses of AFAFalcons.com football board came true. A few quick step back passes to freeze the safeties and OLBs made the corners work on the running game. Once the corners started giving up yards, the ILBs and DEs for CSU stepped in to support and our offensive line and FB Todd Newell dominated. Our line surge went from anemic to positively seismic.
TJ and Asher Clark, as well as Kyle Lumpkin and the others made very, very few mistakes, and Asher's TD on television was a thing of beauty. He squeezed through an 18" hole created by OL Andrew Pipes and Nick Charles (pulling) and then just ran through the first hit.
The seam passes were a thing of beauty--as we knew they would be when they finally came. Give us about 6 more inches (on the pass off the fingertips and then on the second underthrown seam pass) and TJ throws for 4 TDs on the night--it was that close. He was money otherwise.
Strategically, our defense was masterful. I thought our tackling was sound--which prevented the REALLY big play--but what impressed me the most was the innovation, spirit, and variety of looks we threw at the ultimately confused Rams. They abandoned the run a little too quickly and didn't really attempt enough misdirection, draws, and screens to cause us problems. The pass rush acted like slow torture on the Ram offensive line. You could see that they were getting tired, even if we weren't sacking the quarterback. We just got closer, and closer, and closer each time, while our coverage in the secondary made small improvements with each play. You just knew what was going to happen: blocked pass, interception, sack, scramble, sack, interception, hurry, panic, throw-away, etc, etc. Game balls to the whole d-line, plus to DBs Chris Thomas and Reggie Rembert (for his returns, too).
I'm sure some of you have noticed that we've gone three straight games now without allowing a point in the second half, and I think that makes at least 5 of our games where that's been the case (Wyo and SUU?). In fact, we've only allowed 3 total points after the first quarter in the last three games. That's defensive adjustment my friends.
The game's exclamation point, though, was that fully dominating, crushing, demoralizing drive that ran out the clock over 8+ minutes. CSU was just mentally and physically exhausted and we kept throwing Newell (and then Jared Tew) at them--the best line push I've seen by us in maybe a decade. We simply obliterated any hope, sucking up time so that the parking lots would clear in an orderly fashion for once. I ordered another beer.
As for CSU, I think they're improving considerably and know that they'll be tough next year. They're going to relearn how to win and they're headed in the right direction. I also have to thank them for bringing their "A" game for at least the first half, forcing us to dig a little deeper, open the play book, and think more about how to win convincingly. The growth that engenders for our coaching staff and young players will pay off greatly over the next two weeks, into the bowl season, and for years to come.
Great win, Birds! Now, let's grab that #2 spot in the conference by the horns over the next two weeks. It may be mathematically possible for us to win the conference, but I think we should just take care of our own business. I think we'd all be happy with 10-2 and Utah at 12-0--and both of us beating BYU to send them to 5-3 in conference and a 4th place finish!