Coaching football isn’t the most challenging profession in the world, but at the highest levels it’s really hard.
That’s something that often gets shortchanged in discussions about play-calling or criticisms of a football team in general.
“Why don’t they just run the dang ball!?”
“I can’t believe they’re passing HERE!”
“Why doesn’t he put in INSERT RANDOM BACKUP PLAYER!?”
“Why is INSERT RANDOM BACKUP PLAYER in!?
Well, often times it isn’t as simple as we think. Sometimes it is. Pete Carrol at the goal line jumps to mind. That might be a good running scenario and most people agree with that line of thinking, but then again maybe it was the perfect play and the defense picked a scheme just as smart. Or maybe, an individual on one side or the other made the play unfold that way.
Coaching criticism largely fails to account for the players’ abilities. The way fans and media assess talent is far different from coaches. They see the day-to-day position battles and envision how a player fits in completely different from Joe College in the stands.
Players often aren’t as good or bad as we think they are. Or they’re playing hurt. Any number of things we don’t know about are going on behind the scenes.
None of this really happens to do with anything. Just some shower thoughts that occurred to me after a couple of great play calls I saw on Saturday. Some were properly executed, others botched before they had a chance to see what might happen.
The margin for error is thin and there’s a lot on the line for well-compensated college coaches relying on teenagers.
There are far too many variables at play to confidently say much of anything about football, let alone to say definitively what is or isn’t happening or going to happen.
I’m now going to continue making definitive statements about what is or isn’t happening or going to happen in college football…
Pittsburgh Pulls A Fast One on UCF
It was beginning to look like the Panthers were boringly average. A good defense and an offense that averaged two scores per game. Instead they pulled an exciting 35-34 upset of No. 15 UCF. Central Florida. It’s a jolt of life for a Pitt team that needed one.
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) September 21, 2019
The climactic play wasn’t exactly pretty, but it got the job done. That’s an accurate summation of the entire game which went Pitt’s way. This despite giving up an 87-yard punt return touchdown and another score where the receiver was completely uncovered after a substitution snafu.
There are plenty of areas for improvement here but it’s an undeniably big win for the Panthers. The Coastal division is particularly wide open this season, so any team that can find a spark has a chance. We’ll see if the moment at the end of this game is a championship kind of spark.
Virginia Struggles With Old Dominion
The Cavaliers trailed 17-0 before reeling off 28 unanswered points and shutting the Monarchs out in the second half. Old Dominion had the ball for just over 35 minutes in the game and apart from that discrepancy the game was a push on paper.
The undefeated Wahoos were just 1-for-11 on third down conversions and gained only 244 total yards thanks almost entirely to quarterback Bryce Perkins (175 yards passing, 35 yards rushing).
While the first half was worrisome, the second remains an encouraging sign for a team still growing used to the idea of being favorites. Given that ODU held Virginia and Virginia Tech to eerily similar results, there’s the possibility that Bobby Wilder’s team is better than expected. Don’t be surprised to see them do pretty well in Conference USA.
Virginia is ranked No. 18 in the latest AP Poll. They remain the ACC’s only ranked team in addition to the No. 1 Clemson Tigers.
Odds and Ends
-Jamie Newman has emerged as perhaps the second best quarterback in the ACC behind Trevor
Lawrence. Five touchdown passes against Elon doesn’t exactly move the needle, but his
overall numbers do.
Newman’s 1,278 passing yards is sixth in the nation. His 12 passing touchdowns ranks
eighth and his two interceptions is just impressive. He hasn’t done it against an amazing
schedule, but there have been challenges and he’s risen to them all so far.
Jamie Newman has the Wake Forest offense firing on all cylinders right now. pic.twitter.com/d9z6sXa9Aq
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 22, 2019
-I was at a wedding in Syracuse this weekend. My fiancé was the maid of honor so I had time to kill before the ceremony. I very nearly went to the Dome to watch the Orange in what turned out to be a high-scoring battle with Western Michigan (#MACtion). Tickets were available for just $6, but I went to Middle Ages Brewing instead to watch that and several other early games.
-Georgia Tech has earned the sixth fewest penalties in the country. Wake Forest is right
behind them in seventh.
-Florida State’s Cam Akers is fourth in the nation in rushing (499 yards) and AJ Dillon from Boston College is a close sixth (468 yards). They’re tied for sixth nationally with 6 rushing touchdowns apiece.