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Stephen F. Austin Football

What We Learned: Stephen F. Austin 6, Mississippi State 63

September 2, 2018
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Every year, it's the same story. Hopelessly outmatched, Stephen F. Austin is haplessly pummeled by one of college football's powers in an opener better suited for those who enjoy winning by eight touchdowns on Madden's Rookie mode. 

Yes, like a daredevil on the back of a bucking bull, the question isn't whether the Lumberjacks can remain competitive, but it's for how many seconds can they hang on?

And losing by eight touchdowns is no exaggeration, because on a Saturday night in Starkville, that's exactly what happened to the purple and white in interim head coach Jeff Byrd's debut. It was ugly, cringe-worthy, and yet, not unexpected or a cause for great alarm.

The truth is, unless you're playing Kansas, as fellow Southland Conference institution Nicholls discovered this weekend, 63-6 is exactly how this kind of game is supposed to go.

So, no overreactions here except for everything else you'll read in this article.

SFA's offense is a new-look unit indeed -

Before former head coach Clint Conque was suspended and resigned, he jettisoned long-time mentor and prolific offensive mind Gary Crowton from his staff. Conque, who had intended to take over offensive playcalling himself, promised a new-look unit in 2018.

Whether this is Conque's doing or an adjustment made after his departure, co-offensive coordinators Kevin Barbay and Jeremy Moses rolled out a scheme against Mississippi State that looked downright professional.

No, not in execution — with an offensive line so pointedly overmatched that was never going to be a realistic prospect — but it did look like something straight out of an NFL playbook.

Intermediate passing, a rarity in the Crowton offenses, seemed the focus of the air attack, particularly when quarterback Foster Sawyer was under center. 

Despite no time to throw, little hitch routes and bubble screens in the face of a blitz made way to deep arching sideline passes and checkdowns to the tight end:

A pass to a tight end? What a concept.

Partly because Hail State was throwing the kitchen sink at SFA quarterbacks all night, the one-on-ones on the outside also created chances for Tamrick Pace to re-establish himself as a premier receiver (don't overlook the beautiful blitz pickup by Dominic Williams on this one):

All-in-all, without changing the scheme entirely, the play calling looked refreshingly different, despite the final score.

If Blumrick has to take snaps in meaningful games, SFA is in trouble -

By all accounts, quarterback Jake Blumrick is a great kid and a positive force on SFA's team. His tenure under center last season was mostly a disaster offensively, though, and in a short window of time against State, it looked like the last months have done little to change that outlook.

It isn't that you can't forgive a statistically terrible night against what could easily end up being a top 10 defense in all of college football. SFA's quarterbacks didn't stand a chance and yet, the contrast between both starter Foster Sawyer and x-factor Josh Covey and Blumrick was striking.

Last season, despite a few flashes, Blumrick was indecisive, inaccurate and timid in the face of pressure. While Sawyer was confident and poised, even in a disaster of a game where he completed barely over one third of his passes, Blumrick looked just the opposite. 

It's a small and unfair sample size, but paired with a larger one from last season, SFA fans need to hope Sawyer stays upright all year.

The talent gap was only one of many reasons SFA was handled so easily -

Two receivers collided on a third down pass. Two uniform violations forced a burned timeout and a missed snap for a starter. Busted coverages in the defensive secondary gave freebie touchdowns out more readily than a bottom tier fraternity doles out bids. Whiffed tackles from linebackers that looked too shy to invest in contact and wide receivers that cut off routes too early.

Those were all things that had occurred by the time the Lumberjacks put points on the board, already down 21-0. None of those things had to do with the talent gap between the SEC and Southland Conference.

All of them showed a team terrified of the spotlight and unable to handle the stage on national television. It showed a players not yet ready for a big moment.

Maybe that's okay. Nobody is asking the Lumberjacks to win a playoff game next weekend against Tarleton State. This was the opener and first time jitters should be expected, especially in front of the sea of clanging cowbells. 

But save a few notable names — Sawyer, Pace, Terian Goree, Teddy Britton — the mental limitations of this team were just as prominent as the physical.

We know almost nothing more than we did two days ago -

SFA is not a blitzing team defensively. Byrd, brought in as a defensive coordinator, found success a season ago by limiting big plays and dropping eight players in coverage.

Against Mississippi State, SFA was blitzing, knowing there was no other chance to get through the massive fortification in front of quarterback Keytaon Thompson. The result was, as we all know, many missed assignments and big plays. 

That was far more likely gameplan against a superior opponent, a defensive Hail Mary of sorts, than a legitimate schematic change we'll see beyond this weekend. For that reason, anything, everything, we saw against Mississippi State, including the offense we've already commented on, should be held in suspect until seen elsewhere.

The season started on Saturday night but it doesn't really start just yet. If anything, the Lumberjacks scored a massive win on ESPNU by avoiding a catastrophic injury.

For that, despite the final score, we can be thankful.

What We Learned: Stephen F. Austin 6, Mississippi State 63

edstile
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As usual, a nice evaluation and write-up, Isaac!
BigJack85
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Great evaluation. Awesome stuff.
SFAJack_76
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Agree with the assessment across the board. The mental mistakes are far more concerning than not being able to match up physically and athletically. The secondary .... oh my. Ruiz is a bright spot at kicker.

Spot on about Sawyer needing to stay healthy. In addition to Blumrick, Covey did not show me anything to be encouraged by either.
Jacks4460
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If Blumrick is our QB then we are in bad bad bad trouble.. and I wouldn't want to watch him very long...sure he is an awesome young man but he is not our QB..
nacluth
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One step at a time. The big win is that we're healthy. Now let's do some winning.
TallTexan
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I'll be excited to see what the team looks like this weekend.
gojaxxx3
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I admire your pursuit of college football and the effort to write diligently on the topic, but I would almost dare to say the comments on Blumrick are boarder line libel. I do understand reporting on sports is performance based and if an athlete is lacking in that department it is noted. But The Sawmill is one of the University's media sources and to speak about a student athlete in a way that is so hostile is shameful. I'd advise more reporting the content of the entire game and less about the community of SFA being "in trouble," if an athlete the school recruited plays the sport he is here to play.
edstile
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gojaxxx3 said:

I admire your pursuit of college football and the effort to write diligently on the topic, but I would almost dare to say the comments on Blumrick are boarder line libel. I do understand reporting on sports is performance based and if an athlete is lacking in that department it is noted. But The Sawmill is one of the University's media sources and to speak about a student athlete in a way that is so hostile is shameful. I'd advise more reporting the content of the entire game and less about the community of SFA being "in trouble," if an athlete the school recruited plays the sport he is here to play.
It was an opinion piece, as are virtually all of Isaac's "What We Learned" articles.
nacluth
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Also, the Sawmill is an independent site, and, while dedicated to the fans of SFA sports, is not a university media outlet. Like the by line at the bottom of every page says: "not affiliated with SFASU."

That's not to say we shouldn't be mindful of student athletes. While it may seem rough to dog the backup QB, he did qualify all his statements by sharing Jake's strengths, recognizing the unfair sample size, and mentioning that it wasn't just Jake that struggled in one game. Isaac's opinions seem to be focused on this year reaching a high potential. Last year when Jake was under center, there were just as many positive statements on his behalf. We all here love our SFA athletes.
BigJack85
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I vehemently disagree with you. The piece was an opinion piece and as such has to offer an "opinion". The comments were a fair assessment of the skills we've seen displayed to this point. My suspicion is that he has upside but we have not seen the type of accuracy under pressure that he needs to be capable of. We wish your son good luck.
INiedrauer
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gojaxxx3 said:

I would almost dare to say the comments on Blumrick are boarder line libel.
Yeah, no.
-
Isaac Niedrauer
@INiedrauer


Jacks4460
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I feel in this private forum we can be brutally honest on how we feel about a certain subject.. If Jake is your son sir I am not trying to hurt any feelings.. I am just stating what I see and feel... Jake was recruited to our University to play QB and it just isn't working out.. Hopefully Coach Barbay can do some good because I feel Crowton was here for his twilight years and maybe didn't coach the kids up like Coach Barbay does.. what I mean by coached up is not only talking X and O's but the time you put into a kid coaching them up off the field likewise..
SFA_03
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gojaxxx3 said:

I admire your pursuit of college football and the effort to write diligently on the topic, but I would almost dare to say the comments on Blumrick are boarder line libel. I do understand reporting on sports is performance based and if an athlete is lacking in that department it is noted. But The Sawmill is one of the University's media sources and to speak about a student athlete in a way that is so hostile is shameful. I'd advise more reporting the content of the entire game and less about the community of SFA being "in trouble," if an athlete the school recruited plays the sport he is here to play.


The sawmill is not an SFA media source. It's an independent publication independent of SFA and makes no claims of having direct affiliation with SFA. We're just lumberjack fans writing articles and talking about sports. .
TallTexan
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Jacks4460 said:

.. If Jake is your son sir I am not trying to hurt any feelings.. I am just stating what I see and feel... Jake was recruited to our University to play QB and it just isn't working out....


Even in the case that Jake might be his son, I'd like to point out that not being the perfect fit as QB doesn't mean that we hate Jake or even dislike him. I admire the fact that Blumrick stepped up and did his best, play after play, behind a shoddy oline last year. I know if it comes to it, he'd do the same thing this year and give 110%.

One of my favorite Texas players will always be Tyrone Swoopes. He didn't become the QB we all thought he would, but he represented UT well on and off the field and always gave 110%. That's all we can ask out of a student athlete.

Pointing out how the Jimmies and the Joes line up with the Xs and the Os doesn't mean that Jake doesn't give 110% or that we dislike him.
Jacks4460
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TallTexan said:

Jacks4460 said:

.. If Jake is your son sir I am not trying to hurt any feelings.. I am just stating what I see and feel... Jake was recruited to our University to play QB and it just isn't working out....


Even in the case that Jake might be his son, I'd like to point out that not being the perfect fit as QB doesn't mean that we hate Jake or even dislike him. I admire the fact that Blumrick stepped up and did his best, play after play, behind a shoddy oline last year. I know if it comes to it, he'd do the same thing this year and give 110%.

One of my favorite Texas players will always be Tyrone Swoopes. He didn't become the QB we all thought he would, but he represented UT well on and off the field and always gave 110%. That's all we can ask out of a student athlete.

Pointing out how the Jimmies and the Joes line up with the Xs and the Os doesn't mean that Jake doesn't give 110% or that we dislike him.
Swoopes is a great young man!!! If I had a daughter I would hope she marries a well mannered, hard working, and humble person. Swoopes also gave me a heart attack playing for the Horns.. So happy I found the Sawmill because I would spend $$ and time on the Longhorns. I feel Herman is a bunch of fluff and will not succeed at Texas no matter what tools they give him.. I will always bleed purple since getting my degree in fall 2015. I was pretty well connected to Texas and gave a car to the University (Womens VBall coach) to drive..Thats how I got to be around Swoopes..I am working on Ryan to come up with a demo program similar to UT's. A free demo to a coach means 0 $$$ out of pocket for a ride.
corleycl
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Question: Can a $400K payout really be worth that kind of butt-whipping on national TV? 63-6? I'd assume it did nothing for our guys, except kill confidence. Sure, I understand we weren't supposed to win. But...my goodness. Plus, having that massacre on prime-time Saturday night TV on ESPNU surely didn't do the school any favors.

Would love if SFA could find a way to live without having to take that kind of game each year.
edstile
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corleycl said:

Question: Can a $400K payout really be worth that kind of butt-whipping on national TV? 63-6? I'd assume it did nothing for our guys, except kill confidence. Sure, I understand we weren't supposed to win. But...my goodness. Plus, having that massacre on prime-time Saturday night TV on ESPNU surely didn't do the school any favors.

Would love if SFA could find a way to live without having to take that kind of game each year.
Good comments.

Question for anyone: What FBS school are we scheduled to play in 2019? Purple or Isaac, do you know?
cboothe09
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edstile said:

corleycl said:

Question: Can a $400K payout really be worth that kind of butt-whipping on national TV? 63-6? I'd assume it did nothing for our guys, except kill confidence. Sure, I understand we weren't supposed to win. But...my goodness. Plus, having that massacre on prime-time Saturday night TV on ESPNU surely didn't do the school any favors.

Would love if SFA could find a way to live without having to take that kind of game each year.
Good comments.

Question for anyone: What FBS school are we scheduled to play in 2019? Purple or Isaac, do you know?
Baylor
PurpleOut
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Yeah, not sure that we've officially announced it (could have missed it), but I've seen on several scheduling sites that we'll be starting next season in Waco. At SMU in 2020, and at North Texas in 2022.
TallTexan
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PurpleOut said:

Yeah, not sure that we've officially announced it (could have missed it), but I've seen on several scheduling sites that we'll be starting next season in Waco. At SMU in 2020, and at North Texas in 2022.
Per FBschedules.com, we've got Baylor 2019, followed by future years with North Texas and SMU.

https://fbschedules.com/ncaa/stephen-f-austin/
TallTexan
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corleycl said:

Question: Can a $400K payout really be worth that kind of butt-whipping on national TV? 63-6? I'd assume it did nothing for our guys, except kill confidence. Sure, I understand we weren't supposed to win. But...my goodness. Plus, having that massacre on prime-time Saturday night TV on ESPNU surely didn't do the school any favors.

Would love if SFA could find a way to live without having to take that kind of game each year.
I mean 400k pays for our headcoach, along with probably a coordinator, so it's not insignificant I'd imagine. If anyone could point me to an available version of our atheletic budget, I'd be much obliged.

Plus, while it was a butt kicking, I wouldn't necessarily say our athletes don't enjoy the chance to play under the lights in front of 60k+ screaming fans.
SFA_03
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And btw, Blumrick still does have a major role on the team. He's a great leader from the sidelines. The team loves him, and he helps give the team some added energy.
Next year he'll compete with Covey for the starting job, but right now he just needs to work on growing and continuing to improve as a QB behind Foster.
Jacks4460
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SFA_03 said:

And btw, Blumrick still does have a major role on the team. He's a great leader from the sidelines. The team loves him, and he helps give the team some added energy.
Next year he'll compete with Covey for the starting job, but right now he just needs to work on growing and continuing to improve as a QB behind Foster.
Thanks SFA 03 I like to hear that... Plus like I said earlier Coach Barbay might be good for him.. Crowton might not of given Jake the attention he needed.. I hope he works hard and will compete his ass off against Covey next year... Sawyer is a good QB I hope he stays healthy all year... If not Jake or Josh are gonna have to step up...
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