UCF 25, NC State 23
I don't remember ever feeling more hopeless during a football game than I did at halftime yesterday. Prior to the 2005 and 2006 seasons, I got into thinking that a full off-season and the experience gained would make our incumbent starting quarterback better. This time around, I knew better, and the first half confirmed that as usual nothing had changed. The starter wasn't improved, and he could still make crippling mistakes.
Thankfully, Daniel Evans gave way to Harrison Beck in the second quarter, and our pain subsided at least a little bit. I am heartened by what happened in the second half, and I'll hope, as I have too many times before, that perhaps this guy is the guy. We threw for 272 yards, which is more passing yardage than we had in any single game last season. Beck completed 60% of his throws, looking far smarter than he did in the spring, or, presumably, in practice. He did some things I haven't seen from a State QB in a while, so that was refreshing. A play that comes to mind was the pass he completed on fourth down while he was being tackled; didn't convert the down, but that showed me something.
-- The Pack's run defense, considering that UCF's passing game was not effective (Israel averaged 3.9 yds/pass att), was a big disappointment. Remove Kevin Smith's 80-yard run from his numbers and he still averaged four yards per carry.
-- At the time I thought O'Leary's decision to run the ball on 4th down late rather than kick the field goal was stupid--since we only needed a field goal to win--but it obviously worked out for the Knights. Better that than risk a blocked field goal or long kickoff return, I guess. I'm left wondering which decision increases your win expectancy the most--just because it worked doesn't mean it was the right percentage play.
-- As for our decision to go for it on 4th down in our own territory, I'm fine with it.
-- The box score says we averaged 31.5 yards per punt, but I would have sworn it was less than that.
-- Once again, 24+ proves elusive. We're left instead with another loss in which we out-gained and out-1st-downed our opponent. I'd like to say that our offensive breakthrough is a matter of time with Beck playing the full 60 minutes, but I'm sure I thought/said that exact same thing after Evans took over last season.
-- I swear, if I see one more ass hat student assistant on a mid-major football team cupping his hand to his ear and giving the mock wolf sign as his stupid team walks out of here in triumph, my head is going to explode. That is the ultimate indignity.
-- As it is always my goal to impose as much mental anguish on myself as possible, I will be in Chestnut Hill next weekend. Anyone else out there in internet land making the trip? (By the way, hello, gloating Boston College fans! Thank you for visiting.)