It's pretty well determined what are going to be the keys to victory to watch for on Sunday. They're basically the same for most games and kind of a cliche. Stack the line and stop the Carolina running attack early. Set the tone for the running game in the first quarter. Take your shots to keep the defense honest.
Blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.
I'm a little bit more concerned and/or curious about what I've seen from a few specific players/units. Sure, it might be early, but there are some potential issues that I'm going to keep my eye on tomorrow.
1. Keydrick Vincent/Jeremy Zuttah - It's tough for me to know who played better, because I attended the game and have no access to replay, but, if the performance of the interior of the line in the running game wasn't already interesting enough, having the battle for the starting position spill over into week 2 certainly is. As UNFNole noted in his look back at the Cleveland game, the right side of the line disappointed last week. In fact, the line as an average pretty much disappointed, with 2 key holding penalties negating 2 long runs from Cadillac and leaving the team rushing total for the running backs at 85 yards on 28 carries. 3 ypc. That's awful. As the coaching staff has apparently opened up the competition at LG, I'll be watching to see if either of these two can clearly outperform the other and get a decent push inside in the running game. I'm not crossing my fingers, but maybe one of these guys can emerge and create a nice blocking combo with Donald Penn on the left side.
2. Chris Bryan/Punt Team
It seems the team cut ties with Brent Bowden due to Bowden's worrisome lack of distance, despite the overall ok net punting average. In his first game as a Buccaneer, Chris Bryan's seven punts went as follows:
1) 34 yards (inside 20)
2) 32 yards (out of bounds)
3) 57 yards (15 yd return)
4) 48 yards (7 yd return)
5) 37 yards (7 yard return)
6) 35 yards (downed at 22)
7) 45 yards (downed at 7)
The first punt was downed at the 13 yard-line, so a 34-yard punt was certainly a productive outcome. However, the remaining kicks were kind of a mixed bag. Out of the remaining 6 punts, 3 were woefully short, and 3 were struck pretty well with good hang time and spiral. However, the coverage on all punts in play and the resulting field position was terrific, with the longest return going for 15 yards on Bryan's 57-yard blast. As we still don't know what kind of player Chris Bryan is, and with field position likely to be a huge factor for a young football team like the Buccaneers, able punting and good coverage will be very important and interesting to watch Sunday.
3. Kyle Moore- Moore was pretty quiet on Sunday from what I saw, totaling 2 tackles (1 asst) and creating little pressure throughout the game. As long as Stylez G. White remains the far more productive end, he'll start drawing tight end and running back help, leaving Kyle Moore in a one-on-one matchup to get to the QB. Talented Carolina RT Jeff Otah is listed as OUT on the league injury report, so that's already a boon for Moore. If Moore can't create more pressure than he did last week against reserve tackle Geoff Schwartz, that doesn't bode well for his prospects and we could start seeing a lot more of Tim Crowder soon.