Well hats off to App State for a hard fought win. At halftime with it tied up 21-21 I commented that this comes down to which team makes the right adjustments. App’s adjustments on defense swallowed up the Griz O while our defense also did well but was ground out with a relentless App ground attack and with no rests between our offenses four 3 and outs in a row. App’s WRs made just a few more plays and their QB completed just a few more throws and that helped push them over the edge. They’ve got tremendous skill in their secondary and made some pretty darn good plays on passes that helped kill a few Griz drives either with pass breakups or 2 of their 3 picks.

With a loss, lets start with the areas of needed improvement first:

– On twitter Greg Rachac tweeted that after Lider’s missed PAT Dan Moore smashed and broke his helmet and facemask. Rachac’s comments were that his actions changed the tone (lost momentum) on the sideline. Dan is a leader on this team and a captain. I know he’s incredibly passionate and this season means everything to him but he needs to realize he’s a leader all the time and actions like those can undermine your leadership on the team.

– Move me to the group that’s starting to grow concerned about our secondary. Murray gets burned the same way Dennard did last week on a pump-fake and gives up a TD. Harris gets a P.I. which extends an eventual App would-be TD drive. Hermanson gets caught on his heels and beat to the endzone. App’s passing offense is probably the best or the 2nd best passing offense we’ll face all season, but if getting beat deep and giving up continual first downs on 3rd and long continue they’ll have their hands full in most every game.

– Negative 4 in turnovers tonight and the one that probably hurt the most was Naccarato’s turnover. I know the coaches don’t want Nguyen on kickoffs so he can stay more healthy but maybe they should look to have Henderson or another guy back there. Griz I think are now -5 on the season… this trend needs to get corrected and fast.

– JP Kanongata’a had one questionable personal foul and one pretty dumb one. That late hit out of bounds extended Apps drive that put the game out of reach by the end for the Griz.

– The 2nd half offense was sleepwalking in the 3rd qtr. With plenty of chances to set the tone and grab the lead again… they failed to even get a 1st down. Instead the continual 3 and outs put the burden on our defense who was gassed at the end of the game.

– The last drive of the game the offense was just scattered and McKinney appeared to have been rattled a bit. I’d seen this a bit in fall camp that he had issues with high-pressure hurry up drives.

– Lider was pulling all of his PATs and that shank just seemed bound to happen, got to clean that up.

Now onto what I liked from tonight:

– Trent McKinney is legit. Yeah 3 picks sucks but the dude had 3 passing TDs and 1 rushing TD. He looked real good in the first half and distributed the ball well again. He’s got to improve on those high pressure drives and show more composure when he’s being rushed. Down field he showed a little more accuracy and found a few more WRs downfield. It was no where near a perfect or great night but if he can have 4 TDs in a loss on the road at App I think there’s better days ahead for him.

– Dan Moore on the field was such a beast. That guy is probably going to be super sore tomorrow and will need to rest up for Liberty but he was pure heart on the field. I was told App’s announcers were saying he should be on the Peyton watch list after the game!

– Oline protected well and got into a nice groove blocking in the first half, pass protection continued in the 2nd but the run blocking faded out when App started throwing 7 and 8 in the box.

– How about Tyrone Holmes? Got a lot of pressures and nice plays tonight.

– Bienemann, Takai, Ginn, and Rehm were huge on the inside and stuffed almost every play. Also it was really good to see Takai return in that game. We need a big season from #95.

– Playcalling I thought was good, App thought they had us figured out but the playbook opened up and we went downfield and faked out a few routes as well. Rosy had a good game plan, the turnovers did it in.

——————

It’s time to return home and get back into the win column. This team will be defined by how it responds to this loss. They can choose to hang their heads and come out tomorrow and hope that they don’t get caught by a strong Liberty team or they can learn from their errors, work to keep improving, and come out ready to roll this next weekend.

I’m not disheartened by this loss, this is a young team that went on the road to the 2nd most hostile FCS environment, spotted App 14 quick points, went -4 in turnovers and still had a chance to tie it up in the end. App ad more experience and home field advantage. The Griz didn’t look the best but showed improvement and signs that this team will continue to get better.

It’s time for these Griz to come home, I can’t wait to get out there and cheer for them in a week. As this team keeps building and improving I think it could be one hell of a group come November.

Go GRIZ and safe travels home!

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