Sunday, October 05, 2008

"We have to fix those things either with the players we're playing with or we have to replace some guys," Brandon said. "That's where we're at."

Those are the words I heard from Coach Brandon, as I was sitting in my car outside the Doyt, heading for the highway after a terrible home loss to the EMU Eagles. I said to my traveling companion--he's pissed.

He sure sounded like it. And he's right. We played very poor, mistake prone football, and lost a game that should not have even been close. I know its not fashionable, but if the 1-4 Rockets and NIU could overwhelm this team, we should have also. This is one we should have won.

One note on the Coach. Of all the things he does well (and there are some or many), taking responsibility on his shoulders when we lose isn't one of them. At no point, that I heard, did he say, "I'm disappointed in myself along with our players. We all have to do a better job."

No, he publicly threw his players under the bus, although at least this time he did it without NAMING the players.

Here's what he said about the final TD and drive.

"The coverage obviously was awful," Brandon said. "[The touchdown] was a critical error at a huge time of the game. We really didn't do a good job of getting pressure on [Schmitt] all day."

I'm not saying he isn't right....just think an acknowledgment of his role in preparing the team for games might have been appropriate. I mean with the job security and all.

Actually, there was a humorous beginning. Someone asked Coach about what surprised him about EMU. He recited his mantra ("They took care of the football") before he realized that BOTH teams took care of the football. There were no turnovers in the game at all. DOH! Must find something new to say!

Look, in the cool light of time, there is plenty of time and room to turn this around. We're in a pitiful division, yet two losses will almost for sure be enough to win it. This is only one and its not against someone who can beat us out for a tiebreaker.

It does leave us with one loss left to give. That's not going to be easy, but it might help focus us, too. If we run the table against the East and split with NIU and Toledo (both away) we will win the division, assuming Temple loses again.

This can be done. The rest of the East is pretty weak and not playing well. But nothing will happen if we don't correct what we saw on the field last night. Virtually no portion of the game worked for us.

The playcalling was generally terrible. Like a guy who keeps going back to the bar he picked the hot girl up at six years ago, we clung to nostalgic recall of successful slip screens long after EMU had completely sold out to stop them.

We did not run the ball well consistently. (Injuries are not an excuse).

Tyler had a good game on paper (much better than it looked in person), but he should have a high % given the conservative playcalling. He missed a TD opportunity in the first half when EMU's coverage was broken like a china doll, Marques Park was so alone in the end zone. He also held the ball too long a couple times....and, our receivers were clearly having trouble getting open.

We had many stupid penalties. We jumped offsides more on third and fourth down then any team since the Detroit Lions.

Our catastrophic meltdown in the last 90 seconds of the game is cataloged on a previous post.

The defense held EMU to 24 points, and I do think its clear: with the points they allowed to UT and NIU, that should have been enough to win. Our offense simply never got untracked, and this has been a problem more often than not this season.

However, the defense had its moments. John Haneline, a stand up guy, called it "mind boggling." The inability to defend the direct snap to Tyler Jones was very hard to understand. At one point, EMU had a 7:27 drive where they simply ran it right down our throat. We gave up more than 400 yards.

We got no pressure on Schmitt. At all. As Coach said, we gotta get pressure with four rushers, because that's our game. And we didn't. And we were dropping seven, and let's just say we didn't get great coverage either. Schmitt's completion percentage was almost as good as Sheehan's.

The game was simply a system failure. We came out flat, you could see it as we hit the field. We just weren't ready to play. We didn't adjust, we didn't seem to have any answers, and we executed poorly. And we lost the game...which we very much deserved to do.

The bottom line is that we are still in position to get out goals. But not if anything like THAT happens again. EMU is one of the 10 worst teams in Division I-A football, and to lose to them on our home field (on homecoming) is tough to swallow.

Last year, things were looking bleak. And (to give the coaches credit), we re-tooled, started running with AT, and figured out a way to make the run to a bowl game. If we can do that again, we'll be in fine shape and this will just have been a bump in the road.

It is hard to have hope after watching that game on Saturday. But, this team is capable. The challenge now lies before them, because there can be no illusion....we can't walk over anyone. If we don't fix it, though, we're not going anywhere, and we'll be wasting a senior-dominated team. We are better than this.

A final note: I always had some residual affection for Jeff Genyk, the EMU Coach because he is a BG Grad, but now that he opted to burn his Falcon jersey in the locker room after the game, I now wish him a plague of a thousand years. He is now on my banned for life list. I'd like to say we will pay him back next year, but by then he'll be an assistant coach at Temple.

No comments :