I didn't get to see this game because I was in NY for my grandfather's 100th birthday party and the game was not televised in NY. In hindsight, I'm actually happy that the game wasn't televised, because that game sucked. I figure my grandfather has been alive for maybe 100,000 college football games in his 100 years. I can't imagine too many of them were as bad as this one.
I, of course, DVR'd the game. And managed to watch some of it. Not all of it, mind you, because I can only take so much punishment, but enough to get the gist of what was going on. And obviously, since I had been following the game on my phone and on twitter, I already knew what was going to occur.
The Hoos played pretty well in the first half, piling up over 300 yards, 17 points and taking the lead into halftime. The halftime locker room must've been a sight to see, with the entire team being abducted by aliens and replaced by mindless drones who don't know the first thing about playing football.
In the 2nd half, the Hoos offense managed just 140 yards of offense. And 0 points. They turned it over twice and missed 2 FGs. The missed FGs are troubling, of course, but the 6 points in a 25 point loss just don't seem like that big a deal. We knew coming into the season that we were replacing our kicker, and Drew Jarrett hasn't been too bad.
Of much more concern is the lack of playmaking from the offense. This offense has too much talent (at least on paper) to be held scoreless by Duke for a half. Duke's defense is not good. They were bad in the first half when we went up and down the field on them, and they didn't get any better in the second half. We just failed to execute.
We converted on just 1 out of 9 third downs. We had just 4 first downs. And, again, we scored 0 points! 0! I kept staring at my phone, in utter disbelief.
Forgetting about the fact that we scored 0 points in the 2nd half for just a second, let's talk about the defense. We actually held Duke to under their average yards, at just 394 yards. Of course, 182 of that was on the ground, and Duke is 95th in the nation in rushing. There is also the injury that kept starting QB Sean Renfree out of the game. Yes, Duke scored 42 points on us with their backup QB.
We had 0 sacks, which isn't surprising since we average less than 1 per game. We're 115th in the nation in sacks. We're 119th in tackles for loss. We're 119th in turnover margin. We've forced just 3 turnovers on the season.
Scoring defense is 100th in the nation. Scoring offense is 95th. Punt returns are 112th. Yes, this team is bad in all three phases of the game. (all ranks are courtesy ncaa.org)
Youth doesn't explain this. We're not just getting beat, we're getting humiliated. We're getting dominated all over the field, by less talented teams. We aren't playing up to our potential and that is on the coaching staff as much as anybody. I'm disgusted.
As always some notes:
- There were some bright spots. Sims wasn't bad, despite his 2 INTs. Vozenilek continues to be solid with his punts. LaRoy Reynolds returned and played very well, leading the team with 11 tackles and a TFL.
- The OL was much better, and Perry Jones rushed for 100 yards. Kevin Parks rushed for 72 yards on less than half the carries that Jones had. I love Perry Jones, he plays with so much heart, he's so versatile and he throws a heck of a deep ball. But Kevin Parks is a better runner right now, and for the future, and should be the lead back.
- E.J. Scott and Dominique Terrell both look a lot more comfortable catching passes from Sims than they did from Rocco. I wonder if this has something to do with them sharing 2nd team snaps with Sims in practice.
- Demetrious Nicholson continues to play well, as does Anthony Harris. Brent Urban continues to struggle. Chris Brathwaite should be starting over Urban. This isn't a case of getting a young guy ready for the future; this is a case of replacing a guy who simply isn't playing well. Brathwaite is making more plays that his older counterpart and should be getting a majority of the snaps.
- I'm not sure what to do with Brandon Phelps. He seems to be in the right place pretty often, but he can't make plays. He doesn't tackle well, and for a former CB, his coverage seems lacking as well. I can't see how Rijo Walker isn't a better option.
- I continue to be befuddled by our punt return game. When was the last time we had a punt return that didn't suck? Seriously, the longest punt return we've had this year was 7 yards. I don't feel like checking every other team, but I'm betting that's the worst in the nation. It's not like this is the first time this has happened. We've been bad at returning punts for basically a decade. Is it scheme? Personnel? What?