Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reactions to the Harvard Game

Several of the assistant coaches, managers, and training staff departed for Cambridge at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon. While driving to Harvard, many of those in the van were constantly refreshing the college football scores on their phones, keeping a close eye on the Michigan-UMASS score. The Minutemen rallied late to put a real scare in the Wolverines, but ultimately fell 42-37 in Ann Arbor. All of a sudden, many of us did not feel nearly as badly with our performance in Amherst just a week earlier. UMASS went toe-to-toe with perennial power Michigan, and probably should have won the game if it were not for a collapse in the last two minutes of the first half that allowed Michigan to score two touchdowns. Although UMASS beat us handily, playing them to a 24 point defeat was not all that embarrassing. What transpired later that evening, however, was uncharacteristic of Holy Cross football; it was embarrassing.

Concluding the 34-6 loss against the Crimson, Holy Cross was beaten easily in consecutive games. As a result, there were several "first time since...." that arose as well. For me, the most alarming aspect of both of these games was how it was the first time since 1997 where Holy Cross scored in single digits in back-to-back games. Scoring points, rather than giving them up, has not been a problem in recent years for the Holy Cross offense. Now, both are struggling. Although, I would argue that the defense has not been as bad as some may believe. When the offense struggles to sustain long drives, much less than score points, the defense simply spends too much time on the field and becomes worn down.

What went right against Harvard (there was not much):
  • Our big tight end Alex Schneider became a bigger target in the passing game. Schneider hauled in 6 catches for 48 yards.
  • Roman SanDoval continues to come up big at middle linebacker. He led us in tackles with 11.
  • Kevin Watson ran the offense pretty smoothly when seeing time in the second half. 
  • The atmosphere of the night game was fabulous again for the second straight week; there was 20,000+ people at the game. Will the Holy Cross administration catch on and realize how great a night game at Fitton would be? 
What did not go right:
  • Stating the obvious, having Andrew Hatch and Harvard run circles around us was not easy to watch. There seemed to be a lack of pride during the game at times, especially in the second half when the game was clearly out of reach.
  • The offense was stagnant for the second straight. When looking at the drive log, our first 9 possessions featured little success and movement of the chains:
Drive Started             Drive Ended             Consumed
Team     Qtr Spot Time   Obtained      Spot Time   How Lost      Pl-Yds   TOP
HC       1st C25   08:26  Kickoff            C29  05:11  Downs          7-4    3:15
HC       1st C20   01:47  Kickoff            C42  13:58  Punt              6-22   2:49
HC       2nd C29  10:07  Kickoff           .C33  08:13  Punt              3-4    1:54
HC       2nd C26  01:30  Kickoff            H22  00:20  Interception   6-52   1:10
HC       3rd C31  14:53  Kickoff            C50  12:29  Downs          7-19   2:24
HC       3rd C48  11:17  Punt                 H30  09:40  Downs          6-22   1:37
HC       3rd C26  04:46  Kickoff            C32  02:43  Punt              3-6    2:03
HC       4th C24  14:07  Downs             H40  09:01  Downs          9-36   5:06
HC       4th C47  07:25  Kickoff            H43  05:49  Interception   5-10   1:36

·         Failure to find the open receiver. It happened against UMASS, but was more evident against the Crimson. Our quarterbacks, especially Ryan Taggart, honed in on a receiver too early before the play  fully developed, and consequently missed the open man. On several occasions, Rob Koster, the biggest receiving target we have in terms of size in height, was left unguarded.

·         Inability to convert on 4th down. Extending drives have been an ongoing problem with the offense this year, so executing 4th and short situations is imperative. It begins up front with a good push from the offensive line, and concludes with the running back/quarterback making an athletic play with the ball.

·         Win the turnover battle. Turnovers are often times such a momentum shift that can drastically change the outcome of a game. More than anything, a big interception or fumble recovery acts as a spark plug for the entire team and reinvigorates both the offense and defense. Against Harvard, we had 2 giveaways and 0 takeaways.

Many of the HC faithful are concerned that the Crusaders are doomed for a major rebuilding year following   the graduation of Dominic Randolph, and consecutive blowout losses to UMASS and Harvard. While there certainly should be some concern, many lose sight that these two teams are probably the two best we will play this year. The 2010 Crusader football team simply has too much pride and talent to roll over and let two losses end the season. I expect the game against Georgetown this weekend to be played with much more energy and a sense of urgency than what was displayed against Harvard.

The team travels to Washington DC early tomorrow morning as we are flying out of Providence. I will hopefully draft up a preview of Georgetown and what we should expect from them while in the air.

Kevin Doyle '11

1 comment:

  1. Hope the flight to D.C. went well and that all goes well in the capital tomorrow! Best of Luck! Great writing Kevin!