1. Kelly realized that, with the defense depleted, the team's best chance to beat LSU was to limit possessions, control the clock, and try to run an efficient points-per-possession offense. And he did that masterfully. Not only were we committed to the run, but we also threw (Zaire especially) a significant amount of quick screens to receivers, inside hitches, and other high-percentage routes that allowed us to utilize the passing game while still controlling the clock.
2. Going forward, we can't be a team whose quarterback runs 22 times a game. But, luckily, going forward we will not enter each week facing the No. 4 ranked passing defense with a first-time starter. The read option should be a staple of our offense, but we don't need to run the ball 52 times against every opponent. Yesterday, we did. But we can preserve the health of our quarterbacks against teams with weaker pass defenses by increasing the percentage of passes we throw and limiting our QB runs. To take the view that "22 QB runs per game is not sustainable and therefore we shouldn't continue running this type of offense" demonstrates a terribly simple view of game-planning. Generally, we shouldn't be running the quarterback more than 10 or so times per game, but against a team like LSU in a bowl game, it was incredibly wise to do so.
3. The defense struggled, and LSU's offense is one-dimensional, but I enjoyed the final few defensive series. We're so young on that side of the ball, but, at some point, young players have to grow up. In the second half, I saw Morgan and Onwaulu hit holes that they hadn't in the past. Maybe that's just a one-game thing, or maybe it's the start of something great. I don't know. But I'm hopeful.
4. Having Golson play an integral role in the final series was great. I was skeptical at first, but it's good for the team and good for morale that he was able to be a key part in the game-winning drive. I thought he threw the ball poorly yesterday (some of his completions were high, and he missed a few wide open receivers), but he played big when it mattered most. I don't know what next year will bring, but wherever Golson (at ND or elsewhere) is playing, I hope yesterday gives him a boost of energy and confidence.
5. I don't think it's a coincidence that we're 17-1 when Kelly has significantly altered his approach to the offense (final games of 2010, all of 2012, and yesterday), but 28-20 otherwise.
6. At the same time, the fact that the team can perform so well, after so much adversity, is just another sign that Kelly is building a really, really strong program, even if his offense (and clock management) have been less than ideal and have contributed to some losses. And that's actually why I think it's not a coincidence that we do so much better when we commit to controlling the clock and running the ball. We have a tough, physical team. We should accentuate that positive.
7. Beat Longhorns.
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