This was more than a moral victory with a young team. This was hope. This was something we can all hang our hats on going forward. This was the beginning signs of a well-coached team. A young team, yes, and one that will make more mistakes than you can shake a stick at (and those of you who know me know too well of my stick-shaking prowess), but a team that has the leadership needed to grow through those mistakes this year.
Wait, you say. Weren't you the guy who claimed Coach Mason looked like he was in over his head and didn't appear able to communicate his message to the players? Didn't you claim Karl Dorrell was stubbornly forcing a pro-style West Coast Offense down the throats of a team lacking the personnel to run it, and this square peg, round hole coaching was endemic of someone lacking the analytical capabilities to construct a fitting scheme moving forward?
Yes and yes. I also said McCrary should be starting (I know, Piece of String. I know). That was all evident in the first three games of this season (except for the QB thing). Worse yet, our players seemed lost and unprepared - even in our win against UMass.
None of that matters now, and it's not just because Darius Sims cemented his status as a legitimate weapon in the return game. It's not just because on our first offensive drive, we moved the ball at will. It's not just because Mason finally played Paris Head (though how good was Paris Head yesterday?). It's not just because we went toe to toe with a far superior team and hung with them until there was less than 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. It's not just because the offensive play calling made sense, and save for some freshman mistakes from Wade Freebeck (following The General's concussion) generally worked. It's not just because Derek Mason delivered the kind of pre-game speech that had even those of us who were predicting a blow-out loss ready to run through a wall for him.
It is all of those things, but more than that, it's what all of those things indicate. Say it with me: We have a football team again.
Will we win an SEC game this year? Doesn't matter. We have a football team again.
What about the bungled clock management at the end of the first half which exacerbated the nervousness of a true freshman QB, leading to a crushing pick six and our Dores losing the lead with less than 30 seconds left in the half? We have a football team again.
Aren't you pissed at the refs, who tilted the field in favor of the Cocks all game? Yes, but only because we have a football team again.
Whatever else happened, we came in with a clear plan, executed that plan to the best of our ability, and competed tooth and nail until the last second ticked off that clock. That's what I wanted to see from this coaching staff. Well, now I've seen it. Sign me up. We might not win more than two more games all season (and the way ODU is playing, that's no certainty), but we're not going to look lost, we're not going to roll over, and we're not going to come in unprepared. We have a football team again. Rejoice.