I never know exactly how to write these.
I could write a “here’s what happened” post, but y’all either saw/listened to what happened, or you can read that in the papers or somewhere else.
Normally I like to write these posts while the emotions are still raw and just sound off, so that’s what I’m going to do if that’s cool.
So to begin: what. the. f***.
31-7. Syracuse. SYRACUSE. SYRACUSE???
Through the many lows we’ve gone through since the start of the 2018 season, I feel like I’ve been one of the last few fans that have held onto some glimmer of hope. I mean, as soon as things went off the rails tonight there were far too many fans, in my opinion, that were all too eager to pile onto this staff and call for heads to roll.
I dismissed it… at least at first.
This is the first time since the dying days of the Petrino 2.0 era that I have felt truly apathetic.
Hopefully, I’m actually just in the “denial” phase, but the way I feel right now after this embarrassing loss is the way many fans have come to process games recently, and the way I fear many more will feel moving forward.
The reason i feel like I’m beginning to resign towards apathy, rather than my normal disappointment and frustration, is because I didn’t see progress tonight.
Once again the defense was a glaring issue. For much of the first half it didn’t look like we had an answer for a team that we had held for a combined three (3!) points in the last two meetings. Sean Tucker lived up to the hype that we’d all heard about last year but didn’t see in our meeting, and Garrett Shrader looked like a completely different player.
Sure, some of that can be chalked up to Syracuse making a great hire in Robert Anae at OC, but the way the defense was missing open field tackles, not wrapping up, and letting Tucker leak out into the flats for easy check-down throws was what concerned me so much. It wasn’t just that Bryan Brown was being out-coached for the umpteenth time, it was that the defense wasn’t even performing at the most basic of levels for the majority of the game.
That was bad enough.
But was even worse, and the most concerning for me, was the offense.
For the defense to fall short of expectations, wasn’t a massive surprise. But for the offense to only score seven points and look lifeless for the majority of the game is extremely concerning. For nearly two quarters the defense was able to slow the Syracuse offense down enough for the offense to get back in the game. But it never happened.
We fell back in to the same issues that we’ve seen the last two years: playcalling was too predictable, offensive line wasn’t as dominant as we hoped, and/or the situational playcalling was abysmal.
I’m still baffled that for the first time in 30 games, Malik Cunningham was not responsible for a touchdown. I can’t recall more than one time that Malik looked down field for a pass with confidence. Most of the time he was checking down to throws less than five yards deep or even behind the line.
Tiyon Evans was the only positive I saw the whole game, and he may have saved us from getting shut out for the first time in decades.
I feel like the huge swing in the game, as early as it was, was the 4th and goal call in the late second quarter. To run a bunch formation read option play, where Syracuse knows exactly what you want to do, was disheartening. We got stuffed. And then all the air went out of the building and we never threatened again.
The runs on second and long are a conversation for another day, but little things like that are just another sign that this staff hasn’t learned from its prior mistakes and that the program isn’t progressing.
We can nitpick at a lot of things that happened tonight, and, boy, we will. But the biggest thing I’m worried about at this moment is what a terrible position the coaching staff and the fans find themselves in now.
Mike joked all summer that with the unprecedented recruiting successes that all Scott had to do was win this game to not make things weird. Things are extremely weird now. I probably need to sleep on this, but my raw reaction is that I’m not sure I want this staff to be the ones that lead the amazing class that’s currently slated to come in. That’s exactly what we all wanted to avoid.
I want this staff to be successful this season so that we don’t even have to question whether or not they’re the right guys to lead us into the future and bring in this incredible class. I had this terrible nagging thought after Satterfield was retained after the Air Force game and he kept Bryan Brown on staff that he was pinning his entire career at Louisville on the hopes of Brown having any semblance of success, and that worried me. But then the off-season recruiting happened and hope returned for a short time. But now after a single game I have serious doubts that this is the right staff for this program and that absolutely sucks.
I hope whatever transpires over the next eleven games allows us all to buy back into some semblance of hope that things will get better and that this coaching staff is the unit that will lead us to better days. But tonight is not one of those nights that leave you feeling that way.
UCF and Florida State aren’t going to make things any easier for this team and staff, so we should find out quickly whether or not this is all going to work out the way we hope.
Let’s hope something massive changes in the next six days and we see a different team and staff in Orlando.