The straight scoop
from Colonel Mustard
Jan. 8, 2009
The Gator Bowl produced a nice comeback win. The game cannot be considered an artistic success. But for the second game in a row the team displayed great heart and determination. I am fine with Ganz as the MVP, but my choice would have been Potter, Steinkuehler or Suh. Potter has had a great year with little recognition or fanfare. Steinkuehler was extremely disruptive in the first half. Overall this was the best defensive performance of the year. The offense had an inconsistent game with turnovers and failures to convert red zone opportunities into TDs. Castille indicated how good he can be if he hangs on to the ball. Swift and Peterson had clutch catches, and they will be hard to replace next year. The line struggled in the first half but was wearing down the Clemson line in the second half. That we were able to overcome our mistakes and comeback from a deficit is very encouraging for the future of the program.
The finish of the Vermin game was the most dramatic that I have seen in 40+ years at the old stadium. We again were able to overcome mistakes and produce an amazing finish. We came out flat to start the game and the Vermin had success splitting our safeties on deep balls. They were able to split the safeties all day with rare exceptions. The defense got stronger after a poor start and produced turnovers, indicating this staff's ability to make in-game adjustments. Potter was a key factor with his deflected passes producing interceptions. Helu had terrific game and in many ways carried the offense on a day that Ganz wasn't as sharp as usual. Henery was the hero and converted in the clutch all year. But our inability to convert red-zone opportunities into TDs prevented us from putting the game away earlier.
We head into the offseason with momentum created by the strong finish to the season. The recruiting class appears to be solid and we have a talent pool of 50 redshirts for available for next season. We need to replace Ganz, but we have three interesting possibilities for the job. Helu and Castille will produce a strong running game, but we will miss Swift and Peterson. The O-line has experienced players returning at all positions. We will need to rebuild the D-line and hope that the secondary continues its late-season improvement. With Dillard and the three redshirts, the linebackers should have better athleticism. The overall talent level needs to be improved, but that process has already begun. But our team is well-coached, plays hard and is resilient enough to come from behind. The program has made tremendous progress in the first season. What a difference a year makes.
Keep the faith. GBR.