Saturday’s football game was more of a gladiator match of men among boys.
The Cardinals pecked their way to a 72-0 route of the Panthers, who looked like alley cats praying for salvation. The second half became their worst nightmare, as the Panthers managed to end the half with a loss of three yards.
You would have to go as far back as the Panthers’ inaugural year to find their previous low in total yards: 65 against Western Kentucky in 2002. Worse, the loss to the Cardinals made it the biggest blowout in program history, surpassing the 62-3 beating that team took at the hands of the Florida Gators back in 2009.
So far, the team has allowed 187 points, compared to only scoring 23. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, the first four games of the season were expected to be the toughest of the season, but the way the games have been played and the way they’ve lost was just something out of a video game.
It’s hard to pinpoint one aspect of the game that stood out or needed the most work. Backup quarterback E.J Hilliard, filling in for injured Jake Medlock, only went 4-9 with 27 yards passing, including four sacks—stats that we’re used to seeing after a quarter. His former Northwestern high school teammate and Cardinal counterpart Teddy Bridgewater finished 17-22 with 212 yards and four touchdowns.
Bridgewater’s only blemish? One sack, courtesy of Randy Harvey.
It’s tough to avoid sounding repetitive when faced with outcomes like this; it’s clearly a team that is nowhere in sync. The “it’s early in the season” line flew out the window after the Louisville game. These guys are just outplayed and outmuscled.
You see it in every game: the guys have been beaten up in every possible way and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Rather, if this team were a Football Championship Subdivision team, they’d be a laughing stock.
Another call to question has been the conservative styles of play-calling the Panthers have showed this season. Long third down plays have resulted in runs that only produce a yard or two. In regards to the Louisville game, only converting one out of 13 third downs.
With the way the season has been so far, you’d think to give a quarterback more then seven pass attempts in a game. Nothing wrong with running the ball on third and long when the previous times rushing only got you three yards.
For those who may have realized the second half go by faster than usual, there were talks of Head Coach Ron Turner possibly requesting a running clock once the game was out of reach.
Turner denied the request and, later, Conference USA Coordinator of Officials Gerald Austin issued a statement that said: “Coach Turner made a comment to one of the officials that, given the amount of injuries and the limited numbers of players he had available, he wanted to run the ball in the second half. One official misinterpreted that comment. Coach Turner, at no time requested that the clock run. FIU threw just one pass in the second half.”
After reviewing the tape there were five times the clock should have been stopped and it did not. Four times were on first down and one play where the runner went out of bounds, based on a quick review of the video.”
So not only was the game going wrong for Turner, but so was the officiating of the clock—a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
All in all, this is a season for the trash, one to forget about and hope for better days. T.Y Hilton isn’t walking through the door, neither is Anthony Gaitor.
Wonder if Mario Cristobal would want to leave his spot with the number one team in the nation to come back home?