Brace yourselves, because here comes my unapologetic excuse-making. I believe we are a good team, but still in rough draft form. We all know what the offense is capable of, but it still makes a ton of mistakes. The running game is a work in progress (as evidenced by how it appears to get much stronger later in games). The passing game needs honing in the areas of timing and catching catchable balls. The defense started the year terribly but seems to be getting better. The 2nd half of the Tulsa game was encouraging, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs against a good offensive team. And finally, the Tulsa game reminded me SO MUCH of the Rice game. We came out flat and lackluster with tons of mistakes in the first half, then got our feet under us in the 2nd half to finish with a double digit win. In both games, I believe the problem was rust. For Rice, it was our first game of the year against an opponent who had already played a game and most certainly had us circled on their calendar. For Tulsa, we were coming off an open week preceded by what was essentially an open week against TSU. Yes, Tulsa was also coming off an open week, but had played Temple the week before that. I truly believe Tulsa was more amped up for that game than we were in the 1st half.
All that to say, I fully expect this team to keep improving as the season wears on. I wish we could come out firing on all cylinders the first game of the season, but that didn’t happen. That’s excusable on offense since it’s a new offense and a host of new coaches. That excuse doesn’t exist for the defense, but I am seeing improvement on defense and am encouraged. It would be nice if we could come out firing on all cylinders in the 1st half of a game every now and then (like Arizona). Doesn’t mean we can’t get there and also doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect it to get there and be sorely disappointed if it doesn’t. But the reality is, this team is very beatable if it doesn’t keep improving.