Game Review, 2012: Chattanooga

Chattanooga 28, The Citadel 10.

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

Notes, The Post and Courier

Photo gallery from The Post and Courier

Game story, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Notes, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Kevin Higgins postgame presser (includes comments from  Bay Amrhein)

Postgame release from The Citadel

Box Score

The Citadel has now lost two consecutive games to Chattanooga at Johnson Hagood Stadium by the same exact score: 28-10. In 2010, the Bulldogs rushed for 238 yards and did not force a turnover. In 2012, the Bulldogs rushed for 232 yards and did not force a turnover…

I was disappointed in the game on Saturday night; I think the same could be said for all the home fans, as well as the players and coaches. The loss was complete and total and it is hard, at least less than 24 hours later, to find too many positives.

From my vantage point, the Bulldogs simply got beat up front on offense. That happened on defense as well, but in all honesty I felt The Citadel lost the coaching battle on that side of the ball too. I don’t pretend to be much of an expert when it comes to that kind of thing, so I’m not going to say much about it, but our defensive players always seemed a step behind last night, unprepared for the play that was developing.

Then we had a punt blocked — or, to be more precise, smothered.

All of this is a reminder that at The Citadel, when it comes to success on the field (or court), the margin for error is very small. It doesn’t take much of a dropoff for things to go south in a hurry. That is the nature of athletics at a small military college. The good times at 3-0 are now not so good at 3-2, with a road trip to 4-1 Samford looming.

It’s not a disaster, though. The wheels have not come off the season, to paraphrase a comment I saw on a certain message board.

The Bulldogs are 3-2. If you were a fan of the team and were asked at the beginning of the season, “Would you take 3-2 after five games?” Well, 90% (or more) knowledgeable supporters would have taken 3-2 and not thought twice about it. It would have meant that The Citadel had beaten either Georgia Southern or Appalachian State, for one thing.

Well, we know now that the Bulldogs beat both GSU and App State. Saturday’s loss to UTC was bad, both as a home loss and in the way the Bulldogs played, but the team’s success in the early part of the September has arguably entitled it to a mulligan of sorts.

Actually, next week is an opportunity for The Citadel, too. A win at Samford would put things right again.

Quick takes on the UTC game:

– The kickoff return teams were improved. I appreciated the tough running by Keith Gamble, too.

– A long run in the fourth quarter pushed Darien Robinson over 100 yards for the game. He finished with 132 yards rushing on only 12 carries. He really needed more than 12 carries.

– It wasn’t a good night for the defense, but Derek Douglas was back and you could tell. He had three tackles for loss, including a sack.

– Sadath Jean-Pierre finished with eleven tackles, including seven solo stops.

– The Citadel passed the ball with some success later in the game when it trailed by a substantial margin. The Bulldogs finished with 13 pass attempts. I’m usually of the opinion that The Citadel ought to stay in run-run-run mode whenever possible, but I do wonder if maybe the Bulldogs should have opened things up a bit more before falling behind by three scores. That may be hindsight fanboy talk, though.

– The Bulldogs averaged 5.2 yards per rush, but if you take out the two long runs by Robinson and Aaron Miller, The Citadel only averaged 3.3 yards per carry for the game. Of course, occasionally breaking a long gainer is a key component of the triple option, so taking those rushes out of the equation is probably unfair. On the other hand, I think it is telling that outside of Robinson, the rest of the offense rushed 33 times for only 100 yards.

– The Citadel did not tackle particularly well for the second game in a row. Terrell Robinson’s scramble-then-throw for UTC’s first TD pass was especially frustrating to watch. On that play, I was amazed that Chattanooga didn’t have an ineligible lineman downfield. That’s not a criticism of the officials; for all I know, the Mocs didn’t have any linemen leave the line of scrimmage during the play. If so, more power to them.

– Okay, I want to quickly riff on an off-the-field subject…

My understanding (which could be wrong) is that The Citadel’s band plays at certain, designated times — in other words, its activity is coordinated with the videoboard, PA, etc. I can understand that.

The problem is that as a result, the opposing team’s band sometimes winds up playing a lot more often than our own band. This was definitely the case on Saturday night.

I’m sitting in the stands, waiting for our band to play something, and in the meantime the UTC band is playing its little choo-choo number every chance it gets between plays, along with that Pitbull song which should have been declared illegal by now.

I’m not one to harp on this subject (although I know more than a few alums who will be glad to do so), but I admit I was a little frustrated on Saturday. Part of my issue with this is that I think the corps is most involved with the game when it is “warmed up” by the band. The same is true for the home crowd in general.

I know we’ve got a supersonic video board/PA system, and we want to use it, and sometimes it comes in handy. The corps did get into the spirit of things when the now-ubiquitous “Gangnam Style” was played near the end of halftime, and that was very enjoyable to watch. It was fun, even if Psy attended a school (Boston University) that dropped football.

However, during the game I would like to hear our band more often. At the very least, it should play at least as much as the opposing band.

Speaking of the PA, there were apparently some technical difficulties that led to the crowd being surprised by the sudden playing of the National Anthem. No big deal, although some of our fans do need a bit of a warning.

– I took a bunch of pictures. My performance in picture-taking on Saturday was rather poor, even by my mediocre standards. I am including some less-than-great shots anyway.