We're still not completely unpacked and ready to go (thanks you Irene) but I did DVR the game and watched it this morning. Here's my mind dump on the game:
- Holy cow! HD TV is awesome! My wife and I lived most of our early years in South Korea and Germany, so we never went all out on flat screens and HD TV. The TV's overseas are 220, and we didn't want to play the converter game. So we waited. We got our flat screens the last couple years in Georgia (we don't buy on credit often) and took advantage of the Direct TV upgrade when we moved to Virginia. Seeing blades of grass coming off cleats is impressive.
- In HD TV, the uniforms and the field are such dramatic upgrades. Buffalo doesn't look like a CFL intra-league squad (no further comment). The organization made the right move.
- As noted last week, Buffalo isn't playing much 3-4 in a traditional way. It's preseason though, and teams don't show their full packages. If I was a fan of another team, and was asked to watch the Bills and analyze the Buffalo defense, I'd call it a 46 that shows some 3-4 variants at times. Williams (Troup vs, Detroit) and Dareus are the DT's. Edwards and Kelsay/Carrington are the ends. Merriman is the strongside linebacker, Davis is the Mike LB, and Barnett is playing weakside OLB. Merriman even rushed from the left side during the game, something a OLB in a 46 does.
- Is the last point really that big of a deal? Yes. Sure, the same five guys are lining up at the line of scrimmage, but their roles are dramatically different. Williams isn't two gaping much, and Dareus is playing two and one gap from his position, moving from LDE into DT and in between a lot. More importantly, George Edwards has freedom to move Williams, Dareus, and Merriman around. Barnett is also playing in space instead of taking on blockers. And Morrison is playing a traditional MLB most of the time, something he's really good at. In all, Edwards can take the same seven guys and throw three different fronts at offenses, with each front's variants and blitz packages. Add the upgrades from Merriman, Dareus, Morrison, and Barnett, and this defense should be pretty good.
- Call this a Perry Fewell "gut," but I think the Buffalo left tackle search will be over by the latter part of the season. Chris Hairston looked very good. Sure, he played against the JV Lions squad, but he showed quick feet, a great kick slide, and was assignment sound. I understand all the arguments against this, mainly that he is small in the lower body. Who cares? Can he block edge rushers? Can he run block? That's important. If Hairston gets a chance in the regular season, I think he won't let go of the LT position for a while.
- Buffalo receiving corps, meet the jugs machine. Jugs machine, Buffalo receiving corps.
- Buffalo kept Zach Pianalto and I think it was a good move. I don't think Pianalto ever become the big in-line blocker Buffalo wants. But he could be a great move TE (H-back). He's got some nastiness to his game, catches well, and gets open. And he can block on the edge.
- In year on, Buddy Nix addressed the defensive line, and it's now checked off the to-do list, tentatively. Same for the receiving corps, running backs, and defensive backfield. As we look back to this season a year from now, I think Buffalo might have done the same with tight ends and inside linebackers. Chandler and Pianalto could be a good combo. Buffalo is three deep at inside linebacker. Barnett and Morrison should be the eventual starters. Davis give great depth. Kelvin Sheppard looked good. Chris White looks like a good reserve.
- Think two years from now in regards to the defense. The front is Dareus, Williams, and Carrington, with Merriman and maybe a future draft pick on the edges (I really like Donte Paige-Moss from UNC and Andre Branch from Clemson). Sheppard is playing the Mike ILB and Moats is playing the weakside linebacker. That could be a very good defense.
Some CFB notes
- College football was a wash yesterday. Except for a few games, it's always powerhouses vs. nobody's. Andrew Luck and Landry Jones looked great against lesser teams. John Brantley looked really good coached by Charlie Weis and in a pro offense. Kellen Moore did his best Drew Brees.
- This is going to sting a bit, Notre Dame fans. Ever new coach talks about Notre Dame returning to tough, mentally sound, disciplined football. Notre Dame isn't losing because they have lesser athletes. That defense was really good against a fast USF team. Notre Dame, year in and year out, for all the talk, has little playing discipline. Say what you'd like about Miami or SEC teams celebrating. Those teams don't fumble near the goal line. Those teams don't throw interceptions in the end zone. Those teams have receivers that look at the quarterback when running a pass route. Notre Dame needs to stop worrying about tradition and start worrying about playing discipline.
Onto Sunday and the first game against the Chiefs.