OK, this is going to be my first attempt at a truly legitimate piece for THE Card Chronicle. With any luck, it will be my 2nd or 3rd front page bump – HINT HINT, WINK WINK (while stomping my foot).
Before I go further into how I think we’ll be able to salvage this year, let’s talk about some of the Card Chronicle UL faithful and their negativity. EVERYONE outside of our fan base was posting that we were going to take a step or two backwards this year. In their pre-season football program, Athlon wrote an EARLY article about how we’d finish either last or next to last in the Big East. Andrea Addleson(?) essentially didn’t and hasn’t had anything flowery to say about us. Many of us knew we weren’t going to be very good this year and the list as to why all of this was the case goes on and on. However, in our most recent losses, we were expected to lose by much more than we did, but the negativity has been such that we were expected to blow UNC and UC away and didn’t perform to standards. The FIU (although they’re a better football team than a lot of people realize) and Marshall losses should not have happened IMO and I can understand some of the negativity from those two games. What I cannot understand is the negativity and comments in the game thread from the UNC and UC games? We outperformed expectations but the “I’m out” and “I’m disgusted” type comments were flowing left and right and honestly they’re quite disheartening. If we didn’t underperform against FIU or MU, I don’t think we’d be seeing much of that during those two games either, but we are and IMO, it's akin to leaving the stands early. I honestly think a lot of the overwhelming negativity is from flashes of brilliance our team has shown as well. If we didn’t move the ball seemingly at will against UNC and UC in the first half, I don’t think people would have been losing their minds in the second halves of those games. Why/how we could be so successful in the first halves and not score and/or completely implode in the second is almost beyond comprehension, but there are some theories which make sense (playing not to lose instead of playing to win is one that comes to mind). If that is the only reason, I would hope that HCCS and/or the OC can come up with some solutions. I would think that they wouldn’t be that stubborn – they are not unintelligent men!
If you've kept up this far, thanks. I think it gets better after the jump:
On the other hand, I was drinking the red Kool-Aid (man that’s some good Kool-Aid too) and I didn’t want to believe what everyone was saying about my Cards “football program” (as HCCS would say). I’m still not sold that we cannot have a legitimate season/make a bowl game and I’ll go into that in more detail below. By almost all accounts, expectations were very low for this team due to youth and the talent and experience we lost, so why is everyone being so negative? We’re not that far off of almost everyone’s expectations (with the exception of some of us) – that we would not be very good this year. Many of us – myself included - had high hopes our last two recruiting classes would be able to pull us from the depths of the abyss that KRAPthorpe had dug for us. In many ways, if we had even a resemblance of an O-line, it probably could. Unfortunately, we do not.
Last year, we overcame almost all odds and outperformed many expectations – going bowling and winning. This year, I feel like we can do the same if we just learn how to finish/score in the red zone. Lord knows we have the talent to do it if we can get the O-line performing even slightly better. If we go four and two on the remainder of the season, I know we can go bowling again. If we go three and three, we MIGHT be able to go bowling again and here is why I think we can win three to four of the next six:
RU – I think we can/should win this game and here’s why: On paper, they have NO run game, enabling us to key on the pass for one and hopefully shutting that down. Keying on the pass, maybe we can get a couple of hurries/INTs/Pick 6s, etc. I believe we win the battle for field position with this game and if we do, we CAN easily win. They have the best D we’ll have faced to this point, but we’ve been moving the ball lately – almost seemingly at will in the first half anyway. Once we can figure out how to score from the red zone, we will be good to go. If the last two games have shown us anything, it’s that we need to be creative to score from the red zone. We’re not going to run it in. We need to air it out. I think Watson will have something figured out by next week when we take on RU. Their offense should not score against our defense IMO. Will we be able to score against their defense will be the question. I think we win this game 17 to 14.
Syracuse – SU appears on paper to be similar to RU, but with a significantly worse defense and only slightly better offense. I see us winning the field position battle against them as well and winning by seven with the final score being 17 to 10.
WV – I see us losing and losing big to WVU. No Ifs, ands, or buts about it and the final score will be something like entirely too much to not nearly enough. If we can provide enough pressure and not get burned, we might be able to prevent them from scoring. They’re run offense isn’t as good as many we’ve seen, but they have the best passing O we’ll see all year. If we can shut that down, we might be able to pull off a miracle upset, but I just don’t see it happening as they have one of the better passing D’s we’ll have seen all year and we also know that to this point we’ll not have been able to run worth a shit on anyone.
Pitt – I see this one being about 50/50 but I’m going to call a 4 point victory with UL having 21 to Pitt’s 17. UC’s D was significantly better than Pitt’s on paper thus far and we’re improving on the offensive side of the house if the UNC and UC games are any indication. If we can just finish from the red zone and not sputter/stall/stop, we should be able to generate at least 21. We’ve not let hardly anyone score above 17 to this point with the kind of offense Pitt has on paper – with the outlier of Marshall and we might have just come out flat, expecting Marshall to roll over after beating a much weaker than anticipated KY.
UCONN – I see this being a fairly easy win for us. UCONN gave Pitt a scare, but their O will not score more than 10 on us and I think their D will hold us to a respectable 19. If we continue improving, we could score more, but my predicted score for this win is UL 19, CONN 10.
USF – similar to Pitt, I see us being able to score some on them, but not enough. I’m thinking this one will be a 21 to 15 loss. Prove me wrong Cards and we can definitely go bowling this year.
Admittedly, though, I don’t follow anyone else and this is just analytical thinking based on information provided statistically from CBS sports combined with our continued improvement on both sides of the ball. I see some of those FLASHES of brilliance coming out more and more and a more competent man at the helm of the Offensive coordination. If we can just finish AND not implode in the second half, we can easily salvage this season. what do you think?