Moving on from Chapel Hill

It could have been better.  It could have been worse.  At any rate, it’s over.

The Citadel’s 40-6 loss to UNC was about what one would expect, given the matchup and the Bulldogs’ injury situation.  I won’t recap the entire game — there are many outlets where you can find game stories, including Jeff Hartsell’s story here.  Some stories from North Carolina papers can be found here, here, and here.

Quick observations, comments, etc.:

– I thought Bart Blanchard, despite his ankle injury, did a decent job of escaping pressure and avoiding sacks.  UNC only had two sacks (although one by Robert Quinn resulted in a fumble that led to a Heel TD).

Blanchard wasn’t quite as accurate with his passing as he needed to be, but he was placed in as difficult a situation as he will have all season as a quarterback.  I suspect he will improve his passing accuracy in games to come.  It’s important that he does so, as Kevin Higgins has pointed out.

– As advertised, North Carolina’s defense is very good.  Quinn, in particular, was outstanding throughout the game.  UNC fans might want to monitor the sack statistic during the season, however.  Sacks aren’t absolutely essential in order to have a quality defense, but I find it surprising that North Carolina doesn’t create more of them (only 22 last season).

– If UNC is going to win the ACC, which isn’t out of the question (although I think the Tar Heels are playing in the tougher division of that league, at least this year), its offense needs to create more big plays.  That aspect of the game didn’t seem to be there for North Carolina on Saturday.

– After UNC scored to take a 23-0 lead, The Citadel took over possession with 1:51 to go in the half and went into its two-minute offense.  The Bulldogs had only amassed 18 total yards in six previous possessions, but in hurry-up mode moved the ball 30 yards down the field before Blanchard was intercepted at the 2-yard line.  Up in the TV booth, Paul Maguire wondered aloud why the Heels were playing “prevent defense”.

It was a valid point, although it occurred to me that running a hurry-up offense in an effort to establish a different tempo might not have been a bad idea regardless of the time/score.  I wish The Citadel had tried it again in the second half.

– Speaking of Maguire (who was announcing the game for ESPN360, along with Bob Picozzi), I believe Saturday was the first time he had ever announced a game involving The Citadel.  Maguire has been a TV analyst for college and pro football games since 1971.

– Does The Citadel’s starting running back on Saturday prefer to be known as Lemuel Kennedy or Bucky Kennedy?  There needs to be a ruling on this.  Various outlets are referring to him as one or the other.  (Years ago, someone had to decide — Lyvonia or Stump?)

– You know it’s probably going to be a tough night for The Citadel when one of the Bulldogs’ starting safeties (Rod Harland) is knocked out of the game before The Citadel’s first defensive snap (and another defensive starter, Mel Capers, is held out of the game, for medical reasons not yet officially released).

– I cannot remember The Citadel wearing navy pants before Saturday’s game; that may have been the first time.  I respectfully suggest that it be the last time.  It’s not a good look.  It’s yet another uniform concept I don’t like, to go along with all the others detailed previously.

– Joseph Boateng wasn’t listed on the two-deep released for the UNC game, but he wound up intercepting two passes and making seven tackles.  Boating played on the scout team last year at Eastern Michigan.  From what I understand, he’s an academic sophomore, but athletically he’s a redshirt freshman (and he’s also a freshman within the corps of cadets).

After doing some quick research, it appears that Boating is the first freshman at The Citadel to intercept two passes against an ACC team since 1986, when it happened in a game at Clemson.  The freshman who picked off two Tiger passes in that game was Anthony Jenkins, who would later decide to concentrate on another sport at The Citadel.  That worked out rather well for everybody (well, maybe not so well for Miami or Cal State-Fullerton).

– Other than the punt return TD , the special teams were solid (although that is a big “other”).  Sam Keeler’s successful field goal attempts should increase his confidence, and that could be important as the season progresses.  The second Keeler field goal would never have happened, though, without a world-class hold by Cam Turner.  Keeler also deserves credit for trusting Turner to get the ball down in time; I’ve seen some kickers stop their approach in that situation.

– Okay, so committing four turnovers wasn’t a good thing.  At least the Bulldogs also forced four turnovers.  Creating turnovers was a major problem for The Citadel last season, so Boating’s two picks (the Bulldogs only had three all last year) plus the two fumble recoveries on special teams were a welcome development.  Admittedly, the punt cover fumbles were somewhat flukish, but flukes count too.

– Memo to The Citadel Sports Network:  during the halftime show, when someone is updating scores of various games from around the country, it would be helpful if the person doing the announcing actually knew the score of the game involving The Citadel.  On Saturday night the Bulldogs apparently managed to score a touchdown between the second and third quarters.  This magic touchdown was credited to The Citadel at least three times during the intermission.

It’s now time to focus on Princeton…well, maybe not.  Not yet, anyway.

The Citadel is off next week, and the extra week should give the Bulldogs badly needed time to heal some bumps and bruises.  I hope Garland is ready to play by then; having apparently suffered a concussion, however, that may prove not to be the case.

The extra two weeks will also give the band some time to arm itself properly, in case an invasion of Old Nassau is in the offing…

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