Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weekly Presser, Flinching Statues and Hope

Here's the presser from yesterday....wise ass remarks are in orange, and, as I mentioned, I am skipping the part where he defended his comments about the fans. Enough is enough.

Anyway, Coach started out by trying to put a brave face onto the Rocket game. He is pushing that the team can be bowl eligible, and that a bowl game is possible, though not likely. If we lose, we'll never know, he says.

Note: This is always confusing to people, but here's how the rule actually works: On April 26, 2006, the NCAA announced that they were relaxing the rules for eligibility starting with the 2006 season, particularly in light of the new 12 game college football season. Now, teams with .500 records can qualify for bowl games if their conference has a contract with a bowl game. Also, teams with .500 records (i.e. 6-6) could earn bowl bids if all other FBS teams with winning records have been taken and postseason spots still remain vacant.

In other words, we could only go to a bowl game it there were no 7-5 teams available AND we were chosen over other 6-6 teams for vacant slots. If you look here, you will see that there are currently 63 bowl eligible teams (with at least six wins) and 64 bowl slots. It is what it is. For our seniors, I'd love for them to make a bowl game, but we can hardly be said to have played our way into a bowl game this season.

Coach also emphasized several times the value of this game as a rivalry game....the chance for the seniors to end their career beating Toledo and providing a springboard for the next season for the younger players. We haven't won at UT since 1994, and that has to be motivating them now.

Coach was asked if it was a challenging, frustrating season.

He said that was a good assessment. He said the tough early schedule was "difficult to manage" and that we had injures from playing that schedule. (I've written on this plenty, we were pretty healthy. Coach complained the last time we had a disappointing season that we had been scheduled without an off-week. He even got it written into his contract that he had to be consulted on the schedule. And the schedule was tough, no doubt. I just wonder what exact combination of circumstances it will take--the exactly right combination of seniors, scheduling, fan support, (ooops, I slipped), weather, moon alignment--for us to have our program where Central has theirs.)

Coach then went on to say that the loss Friday night was pretty tough to swallow.

He was asked to discuss the offense's lack of success in the fourth quarter. Most conversation has fallen on the defense.

Coach said there had only been one time we didn't move the ball after the long drive and score, and that was when UB lost the fourth down deep in their own territory and we didn't a)score or b) hold the ball and eat clock. Coach felt that was the turning point of the game, and he's probably right.

He then went on to talk about "5 guys standing around like statues" on the onside kick--also a pretty accurate assessment.

The game was on the line "and we flinched," he said.

A couple things. We actually had two possessions after our long TD drive. The first one was also a missed opportunity. We had a first down and were on the Buffalo side of the field, when we gave up a sack and went to the screen pass one too many times and lost five more yards and had to punt. A couple more first downs on that drive would probably have also iced the game.

As for the talk about the onside kick and "flinching," (statues can't flinch, btw) I'll just say this. On Friday night, or even now, saying something like "you know, we flinched a few times this year in similar situations, and as coaches, we've got to figure out how to fix that for next season" would make a lot of fans feel a lot more comfortable about the leader of the program.

On the Rockets.

  • They have a lot of weapons, and are among the MAC's more athletic teams.
  • They are getting better QB play and the running game is back.
  • Some injured players are back.
  • It will come down to who wants it the most.
  • "Hopefully it will be the Falcons." (Hopefully?)
To be fair, Coach did note in the discussion of the relationship with the fan base that "we (meaning the team) didn't do our part and haven't done our part." He said it was "legit" for fans to be disappointed that a team with high expectations has underachieved, but "that doesn't mean don't show up."

There was some discussion of Tyler Sheehan. Coach says he has improved, his completion % is better, and that he is doing what they need himi to do. He is very solid. Taking care of the football. The UT is a big game for him to set the tone for next season, and if he can be the QB to win at UT (which Harris and Jacobs never did), then its a boost.

Sheehan has done an admirable job. I know there are questions about whether he gets a higher % by throwing to the closest guy all the time, but he was not brought here to be a running QB and he has been our leading rusher. For my money, he's a warrior.

Jason Rice tore his knee up and is looking to next season.

No other "significant" injuries to report.

With that, the curtain came down.

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