I had to spend most of the first quarter trying to figure out who was on the field for the Falcons, but the results on the field were pretty indistinguishable from what we’ve seen the last few years of football. Zac Larrier trotted onto the field as the new first string quarterback and quickly moved the offense up and down the field with an ease that would make Haaziq Daniels proud. The defense produced results similar to those of the last couple of years despite losing two starters to graduation, two projected starters over the summer and two more in the late stages of fall camp.
The Falcons got on the board first on an opportunity provided by the defense when Jamari Bellamy pounced on a fumble on the Colonials first possession at the Colonials 26 yard line. six plays later, and aided by two Colonial penalties, slot receiver Cade Harris scored from three yards out. By the middle of the third quarter, the Falcons had a 35-0 lead and Coach Calhoun started playing his second and third stringers. Unfortunately, that move might have come a little late. Spur linebacker Camby Goff suffered a serious leg injury early in the third quarter and had to be helped off the field. Early indications are that Goff may miss the rest of the season.
Any over enthusiastic reaction to the results should be tempered somewhat by the fact that the Colonials are an FCS team that is struggling to rebuild after a poor year last year. They were very error prone, taking 9 penalties and fumbling the ball 4 times. Taking that into account, I’ll try to summarize what I thought were positive and negative takeaways from the game below.
Zac Larrier looked very poised and confident right from the first snap. He was patient when running with the ball, letting the blocking develop. Pitches and tosses were timed well and accurate, with the exception of one time when the defense got in the backfield and he should have taken the loss. He looked in command and ensured the team was set for each play. He also hit 2 out of three passes, the first of his career. On his touchdown pass, his receiver was wide open and he managed to throw a strike without getting overly anxious about missing such an easy target. He ended up just short of a double triple, 99 yards rushing and 95 yards passing, in 2 1⁄2 quarters.
Two of the fullbacks trying to replace Brad Roberts, Dylan Carson and Owen Burk had nice games in limited opportunities. Both bounced runs to the outside when the middle was clogged up and turned in big runs. Together, they had 88 yards in 11 carries. Jet Harris smartly helped push Jensen Jones into the end zone on his TD run.
PJ Ramsey and Bo Richter played exceptionally well on the edges of the defensive line, combining for a sack, 3.5 TFLs and a forced fumble.
The defensive backfield covered well on deep routes, forcing the Colonials into short passes most of the time the starters were in the game. Gaillard and Bellamy were solid as the new corners.
Coach Calhoun loves the fair catch in the punting game, but the Falcons fumbled it twice. I’m sure Coach isn’t happy, so we’ll wait to see what he does about it. Maybe he’ll decide that if we’re going to fumble anyway, maybe we’ll try to return it for a change (sorry, not likely).
This trend of losing starters is getting worrisome. Here’s the list of projected starters who didn’t play in the first game:
Michael Mack (transfer to Wisconsin)
Eian Castonguay (injury)
Erik Smalley (suspended)
Dane Kinnamon (unknown)
Peyton Zdroik (shoulder injury)
Johnathan Youngblood (injury)
Caleb Rillos (injury)
Kaleb Holcomb (injury)
Camby Goff (played but now out with injury)
Those are all big contributors whose loss tests the Falcon “next man up” philosophy. At least for this game it didn’t matter. But the level of competition will greatly improve soon and we certainly can’t afford to lose any more.
The offensive line was excellent on pass protection on Larrier’s 3 pass attempts, but I was a little disappointed on rushes up the middle. At half time Calhoun said something about not converting the fourth down attempt and didn’t sound too pleased.
Next up will be Sam Houston State in Houston next Saturday at 7 PM Central Time, televised on CBS Sports Network. Come back Thursday for my preview of the game.