Not long ago, I made this fanpost discussing SU Football as we know it under HCDM. This came just prior to that incredible win over WVU, one in which we may need to savor for a long time, because there sure hasn't been much positive to talk about since then.
Anyway, the reason I'm re-visiting this topic of ball security is because, during that fanpost, I made the following statements:
- [under HCDM] SU is 10-1 in games they win the turnover battle. Average margin of victory for those wins is 14. The one loss was to PSU in 2009, which SU finished +1 on the turnover board but -21 on the scoreboard
- So If the 2011 offense isn't going to blow people out or convert extra possessions into points, the least they can do is hang onto the ball, right? Secure the football, win the game. Point blank, period.
Regarding that 2nd statement, SU actually did all of those things versus WVU - blew them out, converted a Geno Smith INT into a TD, secured the football (zero turnovers) and won the game. PBP.
What's happened since then is rather uncanny. SU now sits at 11-4 in games they win the turnover battle. Meaning, in the last they've managed to do what had previously occurred only once under HCDM: Lose a football game in which they won the turnover battle. Not once, not twice even, but THREE TIMES IN A ROW.
The point of this is not to vent, or pour salt into open wounds, but this truly highlights to me just how much this offense has failed the last 3 games.
Wait, let me back up. The defense and special teams have had their share of gaffes too. They also are not absolved of their sins. But after the Wake game to start the season, I think many of us knew the offense would need to carry the load this season. In the 5 wins, the offense did (minus Rhode Island but...y'know whatever, it was Rhode Island). In the 5 losses, the offense did not. So here we are.
Now against UL I was willing to accept this as a mere anomaly. I mean, we were only +1 in turnovers. That's not going to make much of a difference when you're getting dominated in every aspect of the game.
Versus UConn, I started second guessing myself. The defense managed 5 turnovers (5!!!!!!) and SU finished +2 on the day, and STILL lost. Maybe I'm making this turnover thing out to be more than it really is.
Then, versus USF, we again finish +1 on the day. That turnover was created by the defense AND literally took a TD off the board for USF. That should have been the game-changer. Or coulda. Or woulda. Whatever.
For those keeping count (which is probably only me), the margin of defeat in games in which we win the turnover battle stands at 16.5. For this season alone, it's 14.67.
I don't know about you, but to me that means we're getting straight up dominated. Badly.
Even worse, the offense has only managed one, miserable, failed FG try out of the last 7 turnovers the D has given them. ZERO points. For perspective, we're more likely to score points if we tell the opposing team "Thanks for the ball, but could you just go ahead and kick it to us instead?".
I supposed that it's a good thing that in all but two games this season, the offense has done a good job at not coughing the ball up. Incredibly, we're +8 in turnovers (20/12) on the season. But that's not enough. As I also mentioned in the previous fanpost, the 2010 offense, was not good, but was EXCEPTIONAL at converting extra possessions into points. The 2011 offense is also exceptional. If today is opposite day.
The 2011 offense has converted 3 TO's into points (3 TDs, 0 FG), batting 15% in that category, or 1.05 points per turnover. Compared to 2010, who turned 13 of 17 TO's into points, batting 76%.
This has got to stop. I will agree all day that our kicking game sucks, our special teams coverage has been worse, and the defense needs to get better. But given what we lost in those two phases of the game, this was expected.
We expected this offense to be better, and that they'd NEED to be better in order to win. Even if just a little bit. Clearly, they are not. I'm not going to firebomb Nate Hackett for this or call for his head. I actually think that the Pinstripe Bowl and the performance versus WVU have given us a glimpse of what to look forward to, once HCDM & Co have a majority of their players as juniors and seniors, versus having to work with leftovers from the GRE. I'm okay with that, but the problem is, they might not get to see that day. This run-it-up-the-middle 8 times in a row because "we're a power running team (dammit)" is exactly the type of mentality that got Coach P&D fired. So keep doing what you're doing, Nate. Maybe you can coach at UConn someday too.
In short, we need to play to our teams strengths and the other teams weaknesses. The last 3 games have looked like carbon copies of each other on offense. Start by pounding the ball up the middle, then pray we can make a comeback through the air. It hasn't worked. It WON'T work versus Cincy or Pitt either.
I will also say that the coaches have not adapted well to the loss of PTG either. PTG is still our 2nd leading rusher and hasn't played since Toledo. That's all you need to know about AAM and Jerome Smith.
For next season, can we please get a PTG a chaperone? That guy has gotten mono, been stabbed multiple times and now broken his collarbone. Has their been a guy that's been more accident prone off the field? For the record, I think he has the tools to be a fantastic player.
But all is not lost. We still have these last two games to salvage a successful season. We just need to win 1. Cincy lost their starting QB. Pitt is beatable, though we've not beaten them in ages. On top of that, we have a week off. Kitchen sink mode needs to start NOW.