I had trouble starting this one, thinking of a jumping off point, which part of the game to analyze or break down first. I can equate this kind of block (or reluctance to write) to the same I felt trying to write a eulogy. (Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us...).
Let me start by deflecting some of the criticism that I am sure is coming Zach Frazer's way. He's our QB, not only our best option with Tyler out, but also extremely competent at performing his duties. Statistically speaking, he was sound. (Then again I am the first to say that there is only one statistic that matters: points on the board.) So how about we try and measure the oft unmeasureables? Leadership, communication, poise. Zach has all of these and then some and I know I speak for our entire team when I say that we are are confident that he can get the job done for us. He was the first to admit that he made some "rookie mistakes" and was "trying to do too much." But, if you're going to criticize him for that, would you rather him "do too little"? ("Yes, I would have thrown that touchdown, but you know, I wanted to do too little.")
I think special teams needed work, but after watching the tape, it's never one major thing. It's always one missed block here, or one there. But when you play a team of high caliber, and make no mistake, UNC fits this bill, they exploit the mistakes that other teams might not (see Hofstra for details). But I think this is a good lesson, especially for some of the younger guys who comprise our team; to win a Big East Championship (we now start conference play) we need to limit mistakes and capitalize on our opportunities.
Time to break it down:
- Donny Brown is an electric runner, a workhorse, and probably the most humble guy you will ever meet.
- Jordan Todman showcased his speed and fans of UConn Football should take notice. Forget investing in the DeLorean, if you wanna see the future of the program, replay some of Todman's runs this season.
- The offensive line play was good, led by fellow senior (center) Keith Gray, who Coach Edsall singled out in our team meeting for his exceptional grit throughout the game. His leadership is going to pull us through this week, as we nurse wounds and get ready for Rutgers. While he still might resemble a Koala, I think he does a great job. He was the first to say the D-Line for UNC was physical and made for a long night.
- Bend but don't break. Limit scores to field goals in the red-zone. We did well at this, all things considered. Turnovers in the red-zone and field position made for a tough night. Holding them to the field goal, and then the fumble that put them on the one yard line (I still say we had that recovered). But let me say this about the UNC offensive line, I have seen a lot of different types of players, the highly rated ones who under performed (sorry, UVa) and the big guys who couldn't move as well (sorry I'm not sorry, Syracuse). UNC had some big guys, who were athletic and as technically sound as I've seen on the gridiron since I've been playing. Not to mention exceptionally polite (which I guess is easy when you're up in the second half like that).
- Again Julius Williams is stealing sacks from me and again I admit that if only I had been a little faster (insert fat white joke here) I'd have had him clean, which is a little frustrating because Griffin from Baylor had the moves to make me look silly, but this kid had no business escaping my grip.
- Personally I was hoping that UNC would give Paulus another shot at starting. I only watched a few snaps of him on field, but he's from Christian Brother Academy in Syracuse, New York. It' always nice to see more Upstate guys playing.
- Cody Brown again added to the strong case he is making for the NFL. (Although, I will say that as his roommate on the road, NFL execs might wanna consult me if they need a witness to personal hygiene. Time to shower, Cody. Seriously.)
- Their running backs were exceptional as well, but it's nothing we hadn't seen as a defense. (training camp versus Downtown Donny Brown...like a track meet...with pads)
- Desi Cullen kicks the ball exceptionally well. Especially on kickoff, his depth and hang time are tops in all of Division I (eh hem, "Football Bowl Eligible Division" of the Athletic Program Formally Known as Prince).
- I know everyone is wondering, so I'll talk about the punt blocks. It was something we hadn't seen on film yet, and it wasn't on our personal protector, like Butch Davis said. It was on our wing position, which has been corrected (several times actually today...). CJ Marck who took over duties for injured (and future crutch-Olympian) Steve Brouse did a good job, so to set the record straight, the blocks were NOT on him.
- For a team that prides itself on playing "fundamentally sound" this was something that we took to heart as a failure. And be sure we WILL get it corrected. As a side note, generally I don't comment on things I don't have personal experience doing (punt returning, field goal kicking, jogging, being skinny, etc). But as a former long snapper I feel it is within my general scope of knowledge to talk about the punts.
- (Other things in my general scope of knowledge you ask? Lacrosse, texting, eating, hockey, the occasional steam bath.)
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS:
My ankle is coming along nicely, not exactly 100%, but it's there. As a side note, a student trainer was examining it this morning. The exchange went something like this:
"I should get [head athletic trainer] Bob...this is really swollen..."
"Uhh no, that's just how it is...really big. Kinda fat. This is a reccurring theme. Let's move on."
The lights in the stadium went off. A twenty minute interruption to game play. That sucked, but as a I noted to the UNC offensive line, it was simply a metaphor for "Lights-out-Defense." They grunted, apparently not wanting to wax philosophical with me. Truly though, that completely killed the momentum and flow of the game.
Kudos (who says kudos?) to the Marck family, who gave the business to some rude fans in the UConn section. While Mr. Marck looks exactly like a combination of Harry Connick Jr. and Dermot Mulroney (...you know how I know you're gay? You know who Dermot Mulroney is), he and Mrs. Marck (also in competition for sweetest lady ever) both made the UConn program proud.
After the game we got our pre-flight snack. Chik-fil-A. Only this time instead of fried, my chicken was grilled. Dear Chick-fil-A, stop reading my diary! How else could you have known this is what I craved? Nothing satisfies me more than your grilled chicken, pickles, and partially hydrogenated-gum based-pastry (brownie). Sincerely yours, Fat White Guy.
My girlfriend has asked me to be her date to her cousin's wedding. Only she didn't outright ask me, it was more like an interview, "What exactly do you offer that other wedding-dates might not?" "Well, I will not hit on your relatives or kin, I'll slow dance to corny love songs, and I will shamelessly lead the electric slide." ..."You' re hired!"
I was pissed to see that Baylor lost. I think they are a really talented team. And I know our friends at Burnt Orange Nation have a man-crush on Griffin (keep believin', Peter). I'm hoping they run the table on the rest of their Big 12 games.
Taking a look around the Big East, one word comes to mind. Parity. Not sure what parity means? (Pay attention, WVU...) Everyone is a threat; there is no easy game.
Please continue to email me suggestions for blogs. It makes this more fun knowing that I am answering the questions burning deep in your soul (yes, I'm an Aquarius).
My email has changed to mailto:mFatWhiteGuy@gmail.com
(At the request of [former defensive tackle] Dan Davis)