It’s now the day after a loss that was frustrating on many levels that sent many Griz fans to this message board and other social media outlets to once again put forth their snap-judgement opinions on this team and its season. The challenge to season-ending losses is that we dwell on the last game and lose the total perspective of what was accomplished this year.
First of all, go back to a year ago. A losing season, a starting QB awaiting trial, a coaching staff with multiple guys jumping ship, some players transferring out, Griz fans predicting years and years of losing seasons, and many people having little to no hope for a quick turnaround.
Jump to now. The season is over once again, the Griz have finished 10-3 with their signature win being beating the Bobcats on the road, the offense got back on page putting up big numbers, the defense featured a decorated group of linebackers, a home playoff game, a playoff seed, and most importantly a bright future.
I was originally going to title this thread “frustrating way to end the season” because in many ways there were a lot of frustrating factors in the game. Here’s what frustrated me:
1. A rush defense that was showing it had turned the corner suddenly giving up almost 275 rushing yards.
2. A third down defense that allowed Coastal Carolina 9 third down conversions on 11 attempts through almost 3 quarters of play.
3. Play calling on offense in the 2nd quarter that opted to throw deep passes into a strong wind instead of short passes and using effective rushing that had scored the first two TDs for the Griz.
4. A kicking unit that the coaches did not even opt to use once which could have had a chance to put 9 more points on the board for the Griz.
5. A single officiating blunder that took away a 1st and goal on the 2 which lead to no points for the Griz at all.
6. A fan base that put forth one of the lowest attended playoff games I’ve seen and then bailed en mass at halftime, missing an almost come from behind game by the Griz.
Despite all of these frustrations the Griz did not quit, they made adjustments at the half and fell just short of being able to tie the game up and force OT. There’s a lot to be proud of with this team and coming from last season where positive adjustments seemed scarce this team has turned that corner and had many games with solid halftime adjustments.
The Griz went to a scheme on offense with more short pass plays and a quicker set, continuing to run, and allowing Jordy to make more play-calls at the line of scrimmage. It put 21 points on the board and got the Griz to within striking distance. It took the game from what was looking like a blowout to a nail-biter. Jordy took a beating but kept on fighting, Henderson, Naccarato, Jones, and Saylor made some incredible plays, as did Canada and Van. The offense opened it up and once again found a rhythm that was very successful.
Lost in all of the hand-wringing and pissing and moaning the defense allowed just 7 points in the 2nd half. After that TD drive CCU was held to 101 yards on 5 possessions and 1 forced turnover. The players on defense have to be frustrated with a 2nd quarter that allowed CCU to grab such a big lead, however they put together quite a strong effort in the 2nd half to put the Griz in a position to at least try to tie up the game late.
I had no doubt in my mind if the Griz would have been able to tie the game up they would’ve won it in overtime. After the Coyle forced fumble and fumble recovery I felt confident we were watching another SDSU-like playoff comeback win. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as CCU stepped up and made a few more key plays, forcing a fluttered pass to be picked after their DE hit JJ when he was throwing the ball, and then their offense picking up a few key 1st downs to keep the ball out of the offense’s hands.
I know there’s quite a few threads on the officiating but I feel compelled to add something. As I had posted, I was (and still am) incredibly frustrated with the officials and their inept decision making at a key point in the game. They took away a 1st and goal on the 2 and their actions wound up taking what was looking like a sure-fire TD and turned it into zero points. Now I get all of the talking points, the Grizzly D shouldn’t have allowed 42 points, the Griz had a chance to make a stop and tie it anyways in the end, etc etc. There’s the posts that say CCU was/is the better team and just accept that the officiating did not decide the outcome. That’s probably true, however the officiating played a factor in taking a probable score off the board which was the exact difference in the final outcome of the game. That pisses me off. There’s video up of the call, those officials had plenty of time to stop the play, they didn’t do that. Whichever official got the “page” first had a chance to blow his whistle and stop the play even as it was happening, he didn’t do that. The officials let a full play happen and then backed the train up the tracks and took it away. That’s BS. That is not what I wanted to see or expected to see in a playoff game. Teams should not have to play against the officials as well, and unfortunately errors by the refs took points off the board for the Griz and not for CCU. That doesn’t sit well with me.
Also with the officiating some fans have posted about them allowing holding, yeah they did that both ways, so that balanced out.
Finally, congrats to CCU on a hard-fought win. Their coaches were prepared, their players were only intimidated at the very start, and they had a great plan to win the game. Their running back and QB are legit. That’s one very solid and confident team. They impressed the hell out of me and have my utmost respect after coming to WaGriz and winning a huge game.
Well the season is now over, however I’m already looking forward to 2014. I see some great potential in this team moving forward especially with a very talented and skilled offense returning. The defense has a lot of it’s heart and soul graduating, they’ll need new guys to step up big time.
The players came into this season under the banner “United” and they lived up that. I don’t recall a team that had as much fight and resolve in them as the 2013 Griz. These guys never quit, they’d all been to the brink and believed that in every phase they could make a comeback, on or off the field. These guys bonded together like no team I’d see of late. Ego was left at the door. A team-first attitude dominated all actions. The coaching staff had the team’s full trust.
Moving forward the 2014 Griz will carry the United banner on. These guys have learned from adversity and recognize the benefits of moving together as a single unit, brothers bonded together by a set of goals to return the football program to it’s dominant ways.
It was a good season, I’m proud of every single Grizzly football player, every single coach, and the athletic department staff. The Grizzlies are back, the future is bright, the divide trophy is back where it belongs. Yes, there’s a need for improvement and I believe the team moving forward and the coaches will recognize that and work on it. Look at how much improvement we saw from 2012 to 2013. It gives me great hope for 2014.
Thank you Griz players, coaches, and administrators. Not the ending we had hoped for but there’s a lot of be thankful for from this Griz fan.
As always, GO GRIZ!