Another issue is his consistency: Thompson can get from zero to 60, which is nice, but can also revert back to zero within a week, if not within a quarter. There was only one solid two-week stretch of play, against Troy and Western Kentucky; the rest of Thompson’s season was defined either by extended periods of mediocrity – if not a touch worse – or by disappointing follow-ups to strong performances.
I didn’t agree much then but lord, do I second this notion now. It was a bad night for Derek Thompson. True to description-of-form he came out firing passes way to high for anyone on his way to a 12 of 28 236 yard performance. That put his season like this:
If you didn’t look that is three games this season under 50% passing. In this era of football, Thompson is playing like a 70s era QB. That is to say, not good.
I don’t want to beat up on the guy. I’m just here to point out the facts. Troy was sitting on the short routes and begging the offense to pass behind them. We did just that a couple of times. When Derek had time and only had to loft a deep ball down the field he was pretty accurate. That is how Brelan Chancellor and Ivan Delgado got 100+ yards each. The reason we couldn’t score inside 35 yards? Well that was because the passing game couldn’t beat one-on-one coverage.
If it feels like a wasted opportunity that is because it is. I don’t however, subscribe to the thinking that the season is wasted. Bret Vito says this game was “essentially the season.” It is nothing of like the season. It is one game. It was a very winnable game in a very winnable conference. The team let a good opportunity get away.
A team has to have some kinds of designs on winning the conference championship every year. The team has to put itself in a position to succeed will be in a good position to capitalize on luck. This game was not a good capitalization on good fortune.
So now what? Well as the cliché goes: learn from it and get better and do better next week at FAU.
What can we learn? Well, the defense can play well. There was some good pressure on Corey Robinson after two and a half weeks of giving lots of time to the opposing passing game. The secondary held up well against that Troy offense despite some of the hand-wringing before the game. Zac Whitfield was beat on the 76-yard touchdown that but the Trojans ahead late but did a decent enough job througout. Again, he is a freshman and played running back before this year. He is going to get picked on and he will get beat from time to time.
This game was more the fault of the offense/special teams than the defense. That is something I didn’t think I would write this season.
Zach Olen. Sigh. The guy is a career 21/31 (67%) guy. Kicking is a lot harder that it looks but it is also a lot easier than it looked on Saturday. The kicking game is even more glaring of a problem because of the type of team Dan McCarney wants: hard running and defense. Usually those kinds of teams rely on controlling the ball and not explosive offense. It means they play field position and special teams. When you can’t convert from field goal range it throws the entire thing off. You saw the result last night.
I’m all for aggressiveness. The 4th downs we attempted were not calculated attack-minded playcalls, though. They were calls forced upon the team because we were scared Zach Olen or the other guy were going to put the ball wide left by 30 yards.
It was almost a panic move. I don’t know the right answer there. Dan McCarney obviously didn’t believe in the kicking game anymore. He had seen enough. Don’t you have to adjust the game plan there? I mean, the running game wasn’t doing much better in red zone. Derek Thompson couldn’t complete a pass that was not 15+ yards down the field.
Maybe you show confidence in the kind of team you want to be by putting the kicker out there again instead of just reacting to the two (terrible) field goal misses.
Two of three phases were not good. The other was okay. Well, probably more than okay. The defense gave the offense three chances in the fourth quarter to tie the game. If this were 2010, when Olen hit 13/15 FGs, we probably squeak out of this one with an ugly 16-14 game and we’d be talking about how gutsy of a win this was.
So it goes.
Next week is a game against a very terrible Florida Atlantic squad that barely escaped with a win against Wagner and lost to equally terrible Middle Tennessee State. They were destroyed by Alabama this week and by Georgia the week prior despite putting up a respectable 20 points.
The good news: They are terrible and Derek Thompson is awesome on the road.
The bad news: They are terrible and overall confidence is low. There are only so many times you can say “We don’t care about moral victories, we want to win.” That well is shallow, and there have been two trips to it already.
Tweet of the night: Dunno. I had terrible service and used what internet I could to tweet.
Play of the Night: Brelan (Brelan!) Chancellor’s 50-yarder in the first half.