10/6/2016 – Season Overview Thus Far
My season overview revolves around the coaching staff’s QB decision(s) thus far this year. I believe that JFIII gives AU the best chance at success vs. top-tier defenses, and I believe he should have started from Day One vs. Clemson.
In the coaches’ defense, it was a bad way to open the season: vs. Clemson and with Gus on the hot seat. In that context, I understood going with SW in that game, although I still disagree with it. But we didn’t even “start” Sean White until the second half, playing all 3 QB’s and running a joke of an offense. When we settled in on SW and sprinkled in JFIII in the second half, we accrued 225 yds and almost came back to win it because of a nasty defensive performance. The worst part of this game (other than losing), was that none of the QB’s the opportunity to settle into a rhythm in that game. So we’re back at square one with Ark State coming to town. The coaches took the safe route and went with SW, and our superior talent crushed them despite questionable/uninventive playcalling. The offensive success with SW turned out to be fool’s gold, and we got manhandled on offense for 3 qtrs vs. TAMU. In the 4th qtr, we brought in III and move the ball in big chunks of yards and had their defense completely out of position on most running plays. After 3 drives, 2 penetrate into the redzone, and 1 gets into the endzone. The announcers even said “Franklin is the guy moving forward.” At this juncture, the coaches should have gone with III. Albeit a small sample size, he was (and still is) the only QB who consistently moved the ball vs. good defenses (Clemson and TAMU). And that’s just coming in cold off the bench–he wasn’t even allowed to settle into a rhythm. So what do the coaches do? They start SW vs. LSU, the best defense AU had faced to date. And what happened? AU failed score a TD and gained less than 400 yds. We won the football game thanks to the best defense we’ve seen since Tubby, and a complete lack of competence from Cam Cameron.
After another fool’s gold offensive performance against LAMO, here we are again, with our first SEC road game of the season just a couple days away. And we will again go with SW. And, because Miss State’s defense isn’t as athletic as Clemson, TAMU, or LSU, we will likely find enough success on offense to win. We will likely go into the bye week at 4-2 and prepare for the likes of Arky, Ole Miss, UGA, and Bama. Instead of a team 4-2 with a super high ceiling and a gamebreaker at QB who is finding his rhythm (JFIII), we’ll be a 4-2 team struggling to score enough to win half of the remaining SEC games on our schedule because SW isn’t built for our offense.
The most frustrating part is to consider the hypothetical scenario in which III started from the get-go. Any way you slice it in this scenario, there’s no way we’re worse than 4-2 heading into the bye week. Hell, we may even be 6-0 (with III in the game, we moved the ball in chunks on the ground vs. Clemson and TAMU). But regardless of 6-0 or 4-2 (or 5-1), we would be a team with an insanely high ceiling moving forward. I hope I’m wrong. I hope to God I am the wrongest guy in the room.
But, from what I’ve seen since Gus took over as head coach, this offense clicks with a Dual Threat and wilts without one. And we just so happen to have an ACC champion sprinter with a cannon on our roster. (He also just so happens to have been recruited out of JUCO by the same exact Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator that are currently on our sidelines.) If III continues to sit on the bench, this season will become the ultimate “what if” season after 10+ guys on the defensive 2-deep head to the NFL in the coming years.
These are my thoughts. Please give me y’all’s thoughts, especially those who disagree–it would give me hope for the remainder of the season.
War Eagle Always.