This week's hangover is brought to you by St George Premium 120-Proof Sippin' Absinthe. Because how's the preacher gonna judge YOU when HE'S got blue fur and three bunny ears?
So preliminaries first, because it gets complicated later.
For starters, I’m through bitching about the refs. We all know how it works; SEC officiating is performed first in order of AP ranking and then in terms of division standings, and if you’re shocked that Taurean Ferguson caused a fumble that was somehow visible to everyone but the zebras, you must be new here. That said, I’d kind of prefer that the SEC just save a stamp and spare us the traditional why-are-you-hitting-yourself letter on Monday or Tuesday, and if they insist on sending it, I may get a little NSFW on this here blog. Besides, within minutes of that, you had Freebeck clotheslined (no call) and then shortly thereafter, his helmet ripped off (no call) so there’s plenty to be pissed about.
Is it my imagination or does our offense take a LOT of time between plays? Not even by comparison to UK in hurry-up mode - it seems like every snap is going off with less than 10 on the play clock. I didn’t have time to chart that too but I’d be curious to know if we really are taking a long time to huddle up - and if so, how much is "rookie players and true frosh QB" versus "overly complicated play calling and sideline indecision".
You can see the talent on defense...maybe it's just a question of learning and getting off the field. In the second half, we got the ball back for our offense seven times as against twice in the first. We got picked to death in the first half (UK basically with a 2:1 advantage in TOP) but even so, if you discount that fumble, we go to the locker room only down 10-7 - thanks once again to Darrius Sims, the most electrifying man in sports entertainment today.
Meanwhile, Torren McGaster’s a hitter. Good Lord, he can lay a lick. Nigel Bowden is going to be a great linebacker. Once the 3-4 clicks (admittedly probably next year) you can see that guys are going to make things happen - it’s the youth thing again. Well, that and the cushion on 3rd down, which is killing us. You can't get off the field when you let them have the short pass every time, and we just got cut to ribbons on that opening drive.
But I want to talk about the second half offense. Here follows VANDYIMPORT PRESENTS: HOW DO I RUNNING, or, DAT PASSSSSSSS.
On our opening possession of the second half, we began with a 14 yard run, followed by an 11 yard run, followed by a 3 yard run to set up 2nd and 7. That was the last time we would have a play for over 10 yards in the game, and the last time we would run more than once per possession the rest of the way. On second down an incomplete pass, on third down a sack, and punt.
On our second possession of the second half: a pass for 7 yards, a run for no gain, and an incomplete pass that almost got Freebeck killed by the rush. And punt.
On our third possession of the second half, we went 1-yard run, incomplete pass, 3-yard draw run on 3rd and 9, and punt.
On our fourth possession of the second half, we went pass for 6, incomplete pass, pass for 9 (and a 1st down), run for no gain, pass for 6, incomplete pass, and an interception going for it on 4th down. The run for no gain on second down was our last rushing attempt of the game.
On our fifth possession of the second half, we went pass for 4, then an interception.
On our sixth possession of the second half, we threw three incomplete passes and punted.
On our seventh and final possession of the second half and the game, we threw two incomplete passes and a pick on 3rd down, and never got the ball again.
After the three opening runs, we ran the ball a total of four (4) more times the entire rest of the game for an aggregate total of four (4) yards. We also gave up a sack. In that same span, we put the ball in the air eighteen (18) times. 10 times it fell incomplete. 3 times it landed in a Kentucky player’s hands. 18 passing attempts in the second half. Five completions, none for longer than 9 yards, for a total of 32 yards.
Let me put it another way: after first down, counting exclusively plays on 2nd down or later, we ran sixteen plays in the second half. Of those sixteen plays, two were rushing attempts, one was a sack, eight were incompletions, three were interceptions, and two were completed for a total of 15 yards.
2nd half: SEVEN rushes for 32 yards, or about 4.5 yards per carry average (deceptive because only two were longer than three yards). And EIGHTEEN pass attempts for 5 completions, 32 yards and three turnovers. Even discounting the impact of handing the ball back, that’s a paltry 0.56 yards per attempt.
This is why I go on Twitter and say incendiary things about how Karl Dorrell couldn’t coach up Nat Turner to burn down Tara. Because with rookie receivers (other than Scheu) and a true freshman quarterback, and the SEC’s leading freshman running back in Webb and a proven change-up artist in Joystick, he’d rather put the ball in the air for an average gain of half a yard than run the ball and eke out three or four yards a carry.
We started the second half down by 10 with thirty minutes on the clock. This wasn’t some sort of two minute drill where we had no choice but to throw deep and pray. The defense had the measure of the Wildcats after halftime and kept getting opportunities for our offense. And our quarterback had to stand there and take it from a Kentucky defense that was coming at him with their ears pinned back every single third down - and in the entire game, we completed exactly two passes on 3rd down and gave up three sacks and two picks (including the 4th down attempt).
We have a young team. A green team. A team that needs help. A team that needs a coaching staff that can put it in position to make the best of the resources and talents and opportunities available to them. I see these young men on Twitter after the game apologizing to the fans and it makes me absolutely sick, because they’re out there on an island doing the best they can behind a coaching staff determined to drive that square peg into a round hole and the consequences be damned. Freebeck can’t make the throws to freshman receivers? Why make him throw four or five times for every rushing attempt? If the talent isn’t there to execute the offense, either admit that 2014 is a shredder and you’re just going to use it as live-fire practice for next season, or change your offense to give the players a chance to win.
Our guys work too hard, give too much effort, and suffer too much in defeat to merit this kind of cavalier indifference. Call me immature, call me impulsive, call me anything you damn well please, but I’m calling it: as of right now, Karl Dorrell is not fit for purpose as play caller and offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt University.