The headline is that Deandre Torrey ran for 244 and 3 scores on his way to climbing up the NT record books. The expectation for the game was that NT had enough firepower on the depth chart for any number of guys to put up big numbers. That it was Torrey was unsurprising and good, and fine, but the relatively lackluster performance overall was the story.
New QB Jace Ruder played starter’s minutes, and threw two interceptions to highlight his poor accuracy all game. The passes were behind and late. Seth Littrell called his debut “solid” and chalked up the the play to some guys missing on the WR depth chart. “Deonte Simpson didn’t go at all”.
I’m penning this on a Sunday afternoon after spending time with the family, and while sipping on a cool drink. I have only so much consternation to muster. The home opener was disappointing. The entertainment on display was subpar. Yet it makes sense if the head coach and everyone associated with the program preaches patience.
Any new starting QB is going to struggle a bit. There were shades of good things from Ruder. Even Mason Fine needed a year in the system to really get comfortable. The Trevor Lawrences of the world are special because they made it all look easy. Ruder is not that, and NT is still trying to find the successor to its all-time leader in just about every passing category.
That said, and perspective had, no one was asking Ruder to go up against Georgia’s defense to start things. Northwestern State may be good — here, we look at John Liddle and Hank Dickenson and think of their overpraise of the program — but they should not be two interception good. There were wide open receivers running in the Denton evening and Jace Ruder has been practicing to throw the football to them in stride. He did not do that often enough.
Ol’ Deandre Torrey was the only guy that cam ready to dominate, and he did so. He ran for 244 on 25 carries, a very respectable outing, and grabbed three scores for himself in the first half.
That outing is unsustainable (likely) and SMU will have better athletes on the depth chart equal to the challenge of chasing down Torrey 1 and those Ruder passes will not be gravy.
I saw that Vegas has NT roughly a three-score dog this weekend and that sound about right after watching Seth’s offense sputter to 500 yards. Yes, as entitled as that is to write, that was a poor offensive game that saw NT get 44 points and 500+ yards. Such is life.
Phill Bennett was never going to be a miracle cure. He has to just cut down yards allowed to “a lot” from “record-setting” and that was nearly done. We saw enough of games last pandemic season to see good first-and-second downs and poor thirds. Northwestern State left some meat on the bone last night, and SMU will not. They took full advantage of the coverage mistake last season and while Bennett will hopefully make sure there are fewer instances of those, the Ponies are still dangerous.
We said on the podcast that it is hard for me to look forward to SMU and think about what adjustments need to happen to beat that squad when there is still so much for the Mean Green to do to be solid.
For what it is worth, I still believe. The likeliest outcome is something like 6-5, as I predicted in the season preview. The upper end of that range — 8-to-9-wins — happens because Ruder starts slinging the ball all over and the defense gets stops in the form of turnovers. More Gaddie form-tackles and that could happen. More Murphies in the backfield and that might be the case.
I am going to sip more of my drink and think of the positives. I might even let myself dream a bit.
I’ll admit that not many in this game can chase down a fully operational DT, but they have some burners ↩