Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Contemplating the Rest of the Season

I think I'm finally over the funk of the Maryland game. Still stings to think about it on occasion; but the feeling like there's a delicious terrapin eating me from the inside out seems to have dissipated. I'm not quite at a point where I'm ready to get hyped for Purdue yet - the fear is real there - but I suspect by Thursday, the excitement will be back and I'll be convinced 10-2 and a NY6 bowl game will be in reach. Again, I'm working on being an optimist, people.

But it got me wondering how you all think the rest of the season will go. It really is anyone's guess. Maybe Saturday was a wake-up game for the players and coaches: the players looked past Maryland due to the point spread and their top-ranked defense; the coaches thought they could keep the game plan vanilla smooth against a team that had looked less than impressive the prior week. 

Conversely, maybe we emerged from the first three weeks a paper tiger and Saturday was harbinger of how the rest of the season will go: we're weak in the defensive backfield, have very little pass rush and are unable to consistently generate a running game or counter the stacked boxes defenses are showing.

I guess it depends on the answers to two questions: Do you believe the team just had an awful game from an execution perspective (meaning they're a good team, Brent, but played three standard deviations below their capabilities)? And do you believe the coaches have more dynamic offensive and defensive schemes up their sleeves but were waiting until a more meaningful game to show them?

As to the first question, I think we're a good team with some deficiencies that played really bad game. Maybe not a black-swan styled bad game, but pretty miserable execution all around. Given what we saw the first three games, I think it's unlikely we see another performance similar to what we saw Saturday.

As to the second question, I don't believe the coaches have very much up their sleeve. This is a yarn that's spun every season when fans start complaining about our uninspired #RUTM offense. Inside zone, inside zone, incomplete pass, punt. Maybe things would improve if Rhoda Boat ever held the ball on zone read - Jesus, at least make the defense think a bit - but Fleck suggested Rhoda's not running because he might get hurt and there's nothing but the Angel of Death waiting to replace him if he goes down. It'd be sweet if I were wrong and we start running exotic blitzes, tunnel screens anf four verts this Saturday. I just think due to personnel, we're stuck running with milquetoast schemes for the remainder of the season.

So, I dunno. I think we'll be competitive in every game, but I don't see us winning more than 6-7 games. If we lose next week and go "culture year - let's learn to be elite through ignominious defeat," then all bets are off. 

I'm still going with my 10-2 prediction because that's the type of life I want to live after decades as a pessimist. What do you all think?

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