Game Review 2011: Samford

Samford 19, The Citadel 14.

Ugh. I’m not sure what really needs to be said about this game, which The Citadel should have won but let get away. Just a terrible loss. I’ll just make a few haphazard comments and observations:

— Fashion update for this week: The Citadel went with the navy jerseys/white pants look for Homecoming, which I guess is its postmodern traditional look. It was the first time the Bulldogs wore that combo this season; they also wore them once last season, in the game against Chattanooga. The Citadel lost both games.

— The Citadel has now lost five consecutive “celebration weekend” games — in other words, Parents Day/Homecoming contests. It’s only the third time the Bulldogs have lost five straight PD/HC games, and the first time since the 1985-1987 seasons.

I think that’s significant because those are generally the two most highly attended games of each season. Continuing to lose those contests isn’t going to engender a lot of enthusiasm among the alums and supporters at the games. Of course, attendance on Saturday dipped below 14,000, a very disappointing crowd for a Homecoming game on a nice Saturday afternoon.

— I am the first person to say that The Citadel needs to be on television more often, but after sitting through all those interminable TV timeouts, I think I might settle for just the road games being televised. (Okay, I’m joking. Sort of.)

Then there is the “TV jinx”: The Citadel has now lost 16 of its last 17 televised games (counting ESPN.com), which is ridiculous. That total includes the last seven seasons. It could rise to 17 for 18 after this week’s game against South Carolina.

While I’m ranting, put me down as someone who hates the 3:00 pm kickoff…

— Samford ran 79 offensive plays from scrimmage, exactly what the Birmingham Bulldogs wanted to do, and those plays were not completely imbalanced in terms of run/pass. While The Citadel held the time of possession edge, Samford was able to sustain a number of drives, with five of them going for nine plays or longer. Dustin Taliferro managed to throw 45 passes without being intercepted.

Samford also rushed for 113 yards, lower than it would have liked but just enough for the victory. Of course, a lot of those yards came on the game-winning drive.

— The Citadel lost two fumbles, which hurt (particularly the second one), but the loss can be attributed in large part to the two blocked field goal attempts. The Bulldogs have now had four placekicks blocked in the last two games.

From my vantage point, the problem on Saturday was a protection issue. However, I might be wrong about that. Kevin Higgins stated after the game that “”We know our operation time is slow from the center back to the holder,” but this photo does make one wonder.

It goes without saying that it is unacceptable to have four kicks blocked over a seven-kick span. It appears that Georgia Southern exploited a flaw, and that this was not adequately addressed in the week leading up to the Samford game.

The Citadel has now lost three league games this season because of placekicking unit issues. I’ve said this before (actually, last week), but the Bulldogs do not have enough margin for error to survive continued woes in this area. The SoCon is an unforgiving league; if a team has a weakness, it will pay for that weakness more often than not.

— The playcalling at the end of the drive that resulted in the second blocked field goal was…frustrating. I realize that a lot of this is predicated on QB reads, but the sequence on first-and-ten at the Samford 11-yard line went like this: Darien Robinson up the middle for two yards, Darien Robinson up the middle for a one-yard loss, Darien Robinson up the middle for no gain. Oof.

I’m not calling the plays, and everyone should be thankful that I’m not, but a little something different had to be in order there. Toss sweep, anyone?

— I am on record as saying that alums have at times been a little hard on the corps of cadets, but I was very disappointed in the corps’ performance on Saturday. The upperclassmen did not even bother to stand for the opening kickoff.

I’m sorry to be an old fogey, but that’s simply not going to cut it. If the cadets are so tired that they lack the energy to cheer on their team for three hours, then I think they are clearly too exhausted to go out on the town after the game. My recommendation to Gen. Rosa and Col. Mercado would be to let the clearly fatigued young men and women of the corps stagger back to campus immediately after the game is over and head straight to bed. There is no need to worry about overnights/extra hours of leave, as an 8 pm lights-out would be much more appropriate.

On to game eleven. The scene shifts to Columbia. I predict a busy week is ahead for a certain ex-QB named Jack Douglas…

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