Editor’s Note: Fizzy says this is his last contribution of the season. If he changes his mind, we’ll have a spot for him but, for now, we will take him at his word and thank him for his outstanding contributions to this space.
By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub
THE GOOD …. the Defense
THE BAD… Short yardage play-calling
THE UGLY …. 16 inaccurate passes & 4 missed touchdowns
Well, gang, this is gonna be a mish-mash because this will be my last write-up for the season. I’m tired of saying the same things over and over.
With the unfortunate ending of last night’s game, it marks the end of the competitive segment of this year’s schedule. With a win vs. Connecticut we’ll end up 8 – 4, but the season could have been so much more. Unless you’re in a top bowl game or the championship series, bowl games are now just exhibition games and the main value is you can continue to practice for next year.
I thought the defense did a fine job. However, they were aided by at least six drops by Cincinnati receivers. Two of those were probable touchdowns. Things do seem to even out, don’t they?
The single most important reason we lost was the many inaccurate passes by QB Russo, and four of the misses were probable touchdowns. I hate to zero in on one player, but since Russo had an off-night, why not bring in the relief pitcher? I believe Centeio was only in for two series. I would have put him in for good after the first series of the second half. All in all, the design of the pass plays resulted in many open receivers.
As I look over my notes from last night, there are constant references to horrible short-yardage play calling. Except for one time near the end of the game, it was always an up-the-gut play. This has been going on the entire season. We’ve also got the short end of the stick on referee ball placements in some of these situations (two last night). Surely, one of the 23 coaches could be assigned to watch TV and let the sideline know if they should challenge. Then there was the no-targeting call – quite unbelievable.
Many times on third and long, Russo was hurried, harassed and sacked by the Cincinnati blitz. Why not roll out?
With 2:35 left in the game and only down by five points, we ran an Up-The-Gut play from our 25-yard line. Someone needs to explain that play call to me. Why would we keep the clock running? Did we expect a 75-yard run? We’ve done the same thing before.
Now I’m going to do my end of the year evaluation.
Coach Carey’s Grade (assuming an 8 – 4 record) — C+
Coach Carey’s biggest mistake was to take Coach Foley off the field and force him to leave. As a result, our special teams which had been top-ranked under Foley were only acceptable. Also, Isaiah Wright who got national recognition for his punt and kickoff returns last year has been a nonfactor this year. But even more important is who the hell is going to do the local recruiting? Foley has ties to most of the high school coaches in the region. I’m afraid a lot of local talent is going to end up in Waco.
We’ve had four losses and I believe we have more talent than Buffalo and probably equal talent to the three other teams that beat us. We should have won two of those games. In the three loses before last night, I thought the opposition adjusted in the second half of those games, and we didn’t.
Penalties have hurt us considerably throughout the year, although they were mostly cleaned up last night.
I’m going to rate the offensive and defensive coordinators separately, but everything is the responsibility of the head coach. I’m particularly upset that QB Russo has not dramatically improved over last year. Unfortunately, Russo had his best game when his receivers couldn’t catch the ball, and Isaiah Wright hasn’t contributed very much.
Co-Offensive Coordinator Uremovich’s Grade — D
I don’t like this vanilla offense. I know almost everyone runs the Spread, but there are lots of better ways to do it. We have almost nothing going back the other way, one reverse and one QB Russo bootleg all year, and our short-yardage plays have been a disaster. Russo hasn’t improved and probably three of our wins could be attributed to the defense. There’s hardly any imagination and we need a short-yardage formation like the Power I.
Defensive Coordinator Knowles’ Grade — B-
Now we have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide’s situation. We had two losses when we were outscored by 66 points due to no pass rush and poor man-to-man coverage, and no half-time adjustment. And I don’t know how Buffalo scored as much as they did. On the flip side, we won at least three and maybe five games because of outstanding defense. We need to have effective zone coverage for the outstanding passing teams.
Thank you all for reading the thoughts of a frustrated and cranky old coach throughout this season. Hopefully, I’ll be in touch next year. Be safe and healthy.
Thursday: Giving Thanks for Perspective
Saturday: Two Proper Sendoffs