Most fans were expecting an offensive clinic coming into today's game against Louisiana-Monroe. Instead, we were left with more concerns than expected.
Yes, we won 34-0, but the offense was out of sync for most of the game. E.J. Manuel was far from impressive overall. He made a couple of solid throws in the pocket—one that was a 50-yard bomb to Greg Dent for a touchdown (he took a big hit after releasing the throw).
He finished 22-of-34 for 249 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (bad read, thrown into the end zone). A few times he missed wide open receivers that could have turned into some big plays. There were also a few dropped passes. I am sure that nerves had something to do with the inconsistency—also the fact that they were finally playing a game against an actual opponent instead of each other at practice.
Receivers Rodney Smith and Bert Reed made some big plays. They will be a big part of the success with this offense.
We all know that live game speed is much different than practice speed and it showed today when the offense was on the field. The offensive line struggled to pick up some key blocks, creating those holes that were there so often last season for the run game.
The line is going to be a work in progress for most of the season with JUCO transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug playing center, a position he didn't play at his last college. Andrew Datko was actually making the line calls from his left tackle position. It has to be a little difficult to be on a line where you're trying to pick up signals from a tackle instead of your center.
Overall the defense played a great game—big hits, big plays and a great effort in the shut out. Greg Reid got the opportunity to dazzle on punt returns, which I doubt he will be seeing many more chances to do throughout the season.
A lot of true freshmen enjoyed some good reps. Devonta Freeman had seven carries for 24 yards and his first collegiate touchdown.
With all that being said, the offensive line needs to make some vast improvements over this week in practice and during their next game against Charleston Southern. Hopefully, after looking over the film, Manuel can learn where he needs to make some adjustments.
Next week's opponent, Charleston Southern, won't be as good as Louisiana-Monroe, so it should be a great chance for the Seminoles to get things in order before their big game against Oklahoma on September 17.