So I figured instead of doing things I actually should be doing I would recap the last 4 weeks in the hope that somehow it would make me feel better going into the "'Shoe" as they call it. I figured I would break it down by position and such, with the addendum that this is going to be based 99% on my own eyes and ears as opposed to other (smarter?) people who tend to use actual events to back up their comments. In any event: My Assessment! (This is offense only for now, if there is any sort of response or desire for more I'll write a defense but baby steps for now.)
Quarterback- First, the obvious: Kirk Cousins is probably better than he is given credit for but not as good as we hyped him up to be. I think we need to remember that he works best when there is a formidable running game and he can operate as a game manager (albeit in a fashion more similar to Ben Roethlisberger rookie year than Brian Hoyer junior year- Meaning he can win games but he is option #2). I think a majority of the problems can be traced to the offensive line (both for lack of running game and pass protection) but similarly, Capt. Kirk shouldn't throw picks to double covered receivers. Especially since his 2 interceptions were not a product of pressure. I think overall I'd still rather have him than 95% of other QB's in the country but in order to win big games, he needs to play like a big game player. In other news, Andrew Maxwell will likely make me smile around this time next year and I am glad he has gotten playing time but for now, I pray he doesnt see the field again until like Indiana.
Running Backs- Am I the only one who thinks Le'Veon should maybe get more carries? This isn't a "Baker isnt as good as bell, rabble rabble rabble" but more a discussion of having the power back set up the smaller back, as opposed to vice versa. In addition, I think Caper should get more than 3rd down carries but I'm not sure where those would come from. All in all it is very tough for me to assess them because the relationship between RB and OL is so close, its hard to tell which side is worth what (e.g. I don't think Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood are special, I think ND's OL is) but I think we all know how talented those 3 are and how important it is for them to get going. I'd like more of that stretch play that worked so well last year but it is possible Roushar has called it but it has just been scouted more effectively. Todd Anderson seems to block like a man. Nick Hill would start for 6 B1G teams.
Wideouts- BJ CUNNINGHAM. BJ CUNNINGHAM. BJ CUNNINGHAM. Oh, did I mention BJ Cunningham? He is very good. Like ridiculously good. I think we all have seen that and I think I didn't quite get how good until this year since my eyes were blinded by my affection for Mark Dell and my desire for Keith Nichol to be Blair White 2.0. However, I am firmly on the bandwagon now. As for the others, Keshawn doesn't appear to have developed as the deep threat I think we all hoped for. Conversely, I think getting him the ball in space continues to be a necessity if this offense is going to work into the B1G schedule. He has ESS EEE SEE speed and is truly an exciting player, so I would like it if he broke out. Keith Nichol is what he is at this point I think. An amazing down field blocker, a crisp route runner and solid between 4 and 10 yards, overall I am happy with him. I'd like to see Bennie Fowler play and assume he will Saturday because I believe he is the 4th receiver who can really open things up for Cousins. As a post script- a friend of mine played with Brad Sonntag in HS so I need to make mention of his awesome work this past weekend. Well done sir.
Tight Ends- Dion Sims is probably the best of the bunch given the problems he creates, matchup wise. of the 6 receiving touchdowns, I think he has 3, including one where it appeared Maxwell threw it up and Dion just got it. I am excited for three years of him. Celek continues to be an awesome blocker and a reliable pass catcher. As for Linthicum, I think I am personally disappointed because I expected Gantt Jr. which was unfair. Linthicum has been solid but somehow I feel like more is to come. I believe he has a lot of talent and Cousins should exploit that advantage (as well as Sims).
O-Line- This is the toughest for me since I, like most fans, watch the ball and I only really take note of the O-Line when something bad happens (Sack, Pressure, no running room). In the vein however, it seems like things aren't gelling as well as I had hoped. Injuries (this year and past) created this situation and I suppose that is just how it works. I do, however, believe there is talent; and I believe that talent will shine soon. Hopefully this week. False Starts need to be avoided, especially in a loud atmosphere, as well as holding calls. I think it is not unreasonable for 125 yds on the ground if MSU is going to win. Cousins can't throw 53 times, plain and simple. I can't talk about individuals since the O-Line is more of a group than any other position group. As a result when there is no lane to run I'm not sure who to be totally mad at. Thus I think as a unit, there needs to be more cohesion, and that starts with Joel Foreman.
So that's what I think with zero factual basis. Can't wait for Saturday.