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Tuesday Thoughts 9/22: I Don’t Know What to Feel

In which we talk leg cannons, success rates, and feelings

Stanford v Central Florida Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Well that sucked. At times we looked great and at times we looked helpless. Big shoutout to everyone that made a home game with fans happen, but definitely not the result we wanted in the home opener.

Game Recap in Three Sentences

Jahmyr Gibbs was the offensive workhorse in his debut rushing for 66 yards, receiving 60, scoring a rushing and receiving TD, and running back the opening kick for 75 yards.

A 7 point game a couple minutes into the fourth, everything fell apart as the Jackets then gave up 21 unanswered points to a relentless UCF tempo offense.

Turnovers played a big role with the Jackets giving up 5 plus 2 turnovers-on-downs, including one on the 9 yard line and four total in UCF territory.

#404 Swag Champion of the Game

Jahymr Gibbs touching the ball for the first time in his college career and nearly returning the kick for a touchdown was something else. It might get lost because of the result, but Gibbs had himself a nice debut game that showcased a wide range of skills.

Uniform Rating

2.9/3. These are it. Wear these the rest of the season unless there’s a special alternate.

ATLeast We Ain’t Them of the Week

This segment hits a little close to him this week given that we gave up the second most yards on defense in school history, but this one goes to our pals at The Citadel. Clemson racked up a score of 49-0 on 308 yards of the end of the first half. The score at the end wasn’t different, but man oh man that must’ve been a gloomy halftime for the Bulldogs.

Above The Line of the Week

  • Pressley Harvin III hit himself a 70 yard punt #ForTheBrand.
  • The crowd looked very socially distant and masked up. Good job y’all.
  • Thinking about the future. Can’t wait ‘til it gets here.

Stat of the Week

UCF was held to a 26.1% success rate in the 3rd quarter but then earned 61.1% in the fourth (shoutout to Robert for putting these together - read his stuff for more advanced stats talk!). Without going into too much detail (here’s a great write up by the master Bill Connelly), success rate is essentially a measure of how efficient and ...successful your offense is. For context the national average is around 42%, elite defenses hover around the low 30s for the entire season, and 2018 UConn (top 3 worst teams all time) was hit for 56.7%. With that framing in mind, 26.1% to 61.1% is an incredible swing from one quarter to the next. The defense absolutely imploded in the fourth quarter. UCF was earning chunk play after chunk play with their tempo offense and we had absolutely no answer for it. The defense was amazing coming out of the half, holding UCF to just 79 yards and earning 3 turnovers, but it all fell apart after our offense scored it’s last touchdown.

5 Star (7 Star, 5 Star) Developmental Program Haiku of the Week

I hate UCF
Losing winnable games sucks
Regrouping for ‘Cuse

I Don’t Know What to Feel

It feels odd to call that a winnable game, but it really was a 7 point game in the fourth quarter. And at that point we had previously:

  • Fumbled on the 9 yard line
  • Had a FG blocked
  • Given up 273 yards and 21 points in the second quarter

I really don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that we very well could’ve had a lead at halftime and come away with a win.

At the end of the day though the youth and injuries finally reared their heads. I’m honestly not sure what to make of this game. On the one hand there were times when we looked really good (first quarter offense, third quarter defense, Gibbs in open spaces) but on the other hand there were times when we looked really bad (second and fourth quarter defense, third quarter offense, yet another blocked FG, penalties). This game seemed to cover the full spectrum of making me feel both good and bad about the rest of the season. For much of the game we hung with a top 15 team, but then for crucial parts of it we looked woefully outmatched. For parts of the game the offense looked like a well-oiled machine, and for other parts it was two straight-ahead runs for 1 yard each and then an incomplete pass (ahhhh, just like the good ole option days). Every little while Sims or Gibbs or Dontae Smith would make an incredible play, but too many penalties were drive killers and we couldn’t get out of a hole.

Offensively we were raw, which is something to be expected with a young team. Much like in the FSU game Sims made some great plays but also some big mistakes. Gibbs showed incredible flashes of his potential, but often found it hard to escape the O-line (not always his fault). There’s a lot of talent on the field but it’s going to take a while for it to develop into experienced talent.

Defensively I think we were out-coached. We didn’t look ready for tempo and had several busted coverages even when only rushing three guys. Dillon Gabriel was often able to scramble and find someone wide open for chunk yardage. On several sequences it looked like UCF was able to run the same play over and over. Numerous times we were caught with 12 men on the field while trying to substitute during tempo. And yet somehow we pulled it together for the third quarter to look like one of the best defenses in the country.

I can chalk up a lot of the offensive issues to youth and still needing more O-line help. And to be fair and optimistic we again broke our Collins-era offensive yardage record with 471 - the improvement is there. What I can’t get over is the defense: 660 yards given up is the second most in school history and the most under Collins. Yes we had some key players out, but that shouldn’t lead to a historic throttling. Obviously UCF is one of the better offenses we’ll face all year and Dillon Gabriel is a special talent, but you have to expect more from a defensive-minded staff that stakes their reputation on aggressive and dominating defenses.

So yeah; I feel a little good, I feel a little bad. I’m hoping that things tighten up as the season goes on and there’s every reason to think that’ll be true, but I’ve been burned before. Here’s to the future.

Look Ahead

Up next is Syracuse, a team that has looked very bad in the first two games (albeit against ranked opponents). The Orange have looked particularly gross on the offensive side of the ball, averaging just 186 yards and 8 points over those two games; if there’s one game to restore confidence in the defense it’s this one. After an emotional disappointment like UCF I think this will be a big game for us to set up the rest of the season. In Year 0 you can excuse a lot. In Year 1 you have to start winning the ones you’re supposed to, and this is one of those times.