Toward the end there, I was really starting to want that game. Obviously, you want the win; as a bonus, it would have knocked Boston College mathematically out of the ACCCG, which, sorry BC fans, but a third straight BC trip to that game would be awful for the conference. So there was a nice double whammy going, and damn if it didn't look like it was going to happen for a while there.
Then, of course, reality sank in, and here we are. And it didn't even suck too bad. Which, is that a bad thing in itself? If we were in contention for anything - anything at all - I'd have spent this whole day and probably most of the rest of the week brooding over the myriad single plays that could have swung the game the other way. If Randolph hadn't missed a field goal; if Vic Hall (of all people!) hadn't dropped a pair of passes on the same series; if we hadn't let BC out of a first-and-25 on their scoring drive; and most obviously, if Sewell could have picked up just six more inches. This is the stuff I'd have been brooding about all day. Instead I played a bunch of Civ and watched stock cars go round and round. I've come to the placid acceptance that the season is a wash. That combined with the beginning of basketball season and the happy glow from a surprise ACC soccer championship would seem to be therapeutic.
(The soccer would be a million times more exciting to me if they would ever televise a soccer game, ever. You'd think that's what ESPNU is for, but no, they'd rather broadcast "Inside the Big East" and replays of random shitty MAC games from the previous Tuesday. As it is the best I can do is nod happily.)
Anyway, this newfound numbness over losing is all well and good, as long as it's short-term and followed by a "change in the program's direction" in the offseason. You might remember I once opined that Al Groh's greatest contribution to the program has been to keep our expectations high. He might not always have met them, but he's done more than well enough to keep us wanting more. This is healthy. The last thing we want is to go the way of North Carolina, post-Mack Brown. Carl Torbush came in and let things slide, and people there lowered their expectations and stopped really caring, and it got to the point where six years of John Bunting seemed perfectly acceptable even as he flushed the football team down the crapper. I am hoping that expectations next August do not match those for next week.
- BC fans ought to be furious this week. Livid. Here they are trying to stay alive for an ACC championship and their coaches came thisclose to pissing it away. I don't know who was calling the defense on our final almost-scoring drive, whether it was Spaziani or DC Bill McGovern, but they need first to be slapped and after that to learn how to scout the opposition. You are up against the second-worst offense in the entire country - worse than all the shitty Eastern Michigans, Washington States, New Mexicos, Ball States, and all the rest - and you have given up three points to that offense all day, and just because there are only two short minutes left in the game, that is the time to switch to a soft prevent zone? We haven't moved the ball like that all year because teams insist on never playing zone against us. Imagine that. It turned out OK for BC in the end, but it damn near didn't, and it would have been the Bad Decision of the Year for the Eagles. Hint to all future opposing defenses: Never ever deviate from man coverage and we will not score any touchdowns.
- Let's just agree to not play any running backs this season except for Rashawn Jackson.
- Special teams at the beginning of the season were just sort of crummy in a really boring way. Randolph has been near-automatic this year, which is nice, and Howell's a decent punter, but the return and coverage units were just wandering about in the wilderness. Somehow the special teams have made huge improvements and at the same time, regressed horribly. Now we block punts for touchdowns, return punts for touchdowns, and don't kick the ball out of bounds any more. It looks great. At the same time, we negate our TDs with the world's stupidest penalties and rough the punter on 4th-and-22. I don't know whether to give Ron Prince major-league credit for coming up with innovative punt rushes and improving the return blocking as the season goes, or rip him a new one for neglecting to coach his guys not to block in the back and dialing up all-out bumrushes on 4th-and-22.
- Putting us on national TV next week seems like a really nutty idea, but keep in mind: it's all about Clemson. They win, they set up a rematch with Georgia Tech in Tampa. Prepare yourself for the C.J. Spiller Heisman campaign as brought to you by ESPN, and for the announcers to be not entirely sure which team he's playing against. Besides, once you get past the ESPN2 game (BC-UNC) the next three games are disasters. I want to know where I can get the three-way parlay on TFSU, Miami, and Poly to each win by three touchdowns.
- It's basketball season, and Tony Bennett is 1-0.