Nestor's prediction that we'd have to throw for 200 yards to beat Texas might seem a tad off now, but after listening to CRN's presser today I think the spirit of it still stands for the rest of the season. The Pistol is looking better and better. It's doing what we all hoped it would for the rushing game, which has shown the ability to succeed even when the other team knows what's coming -- the true mark of a great scheme.
But what we've seen the last two weeks isn't enough to make us a dynamic offense. Many questions still remain. I will list them here, in hopes that the smart folks here can help break down what needs (and does not necessarily need) to happen for us to become a good football team this year.
1. We averaged 357 yards of offense the last two games -- a number good for 75th in the country.
To be a top-20 offense, that number would have to go up to about 460. We've shown the ability to get 250+ rushing yards per game. The only way for rushing to go to 350+ is to have a QB who can rush for 100-150. But Prince, while competent as a dual-threat, is not elusive enough to be a Crouch-VY-Tebow type of qb.
That extra 150-200 yards will have to come from the air. No?
2. We will need that extra 150-200 yards.
Today CRN referred to TOP and field-position as "weapons." That always makes me wince, because it reeks of conservatism. Field-position is only a weapon when nursing a lead. With a solid lead you can afford to be safe and patient with the ball...otherwise the only position of the field that matters is the endzone. The goal of every non-nursing drive should be points.
In the last two games, early turnovers and tough defense helped spot us early leads that we had the privilege to nurse. We could afford to be conservative. We could afford to "manage"--and did it well. But our young defense, while improving (hopefully more and more), won't dominate the Pac 10 like it has the last two games. Not possible.
Winning some of the tough games in this conference will require us to do what Oregon did against ASU. It will require us to do what a decent passing game could've done against Stanford. We'll have to match fire with fire and score as many points as possible. We won't have the privilege of playing it safe and passing up potentially available big-plays in fear of giving up the ball.
The most exciting thing about the Pistol so far has been how little we've actually done with it. You'd think that the now-formidable threat of our rushing attack would open up all kinds of screens, F-back plays, and play-action routes downfield. Chewing up 5-6 yards at a time is sweet, but it also leaves you open to potential drive-killing penalties and turnovers. When the defense sells out in any way, it's only prudent to capitalize by taking what they neglect.
Clearly, if we developed the ability to capitalize on overpursuing defenses, our offense would be unstoppable.
3. Can we get there?
This is where I reach out to the X-and-O experts here. Aside from the sloppiness of Prince and our receivers, is there any inherent obstacle to becoming a reliable throwing team? Why should the Pistol formation in any way prohibit improvement in our pass game, when you can run the same pass plays out of it as before, with so many easier wrinkles thrown in (like backfield catching options that were obviously not available in previous years, when everyone was busy blocking)?
The only reason I can think of is that too much practice-time was given to passing out of pro sets, rather than exclusively the pistol. Also, of course, that Prince's injury kept him from developing rhythm with his receivers. But that shouldn't be a factor anymore. Is there anything, then, that should hold us back?