Well, so much for allowing the "better than expected" performance against Miami to get my hopes up. I should know better.
I remember how happy we generally were with the “better than expected” 42-24 loss to fifth-ranked UCLA at Robertson Stadium in 1998. The Cougars played the Bruins tough; they had more first downs, had more time of possession, piled up 173 rushing yards against the vaunted Bruin defense, sacked that whiny, overrated prick Cade McNown (where is he these days?) three times, and only trailed 21-14 at halftime.
Many people thought that game showed just how improved the Cougars had become after close losses to California and Minnesota, and that the game was a turning point.
Of course, it was not. The following weekend the Cougars went to Knoxville, got rolled by eventual national champion Tennessee 42-7, and ended the season with a 3-8 record. The Cougars even lost to a 2-9 Cincinnati team and a 3-8 Army squad.
The Miami game in many ways reminds me a lot of the UCLA game. The Coogs played a top-ranked opponent tough at home and many of us were happy because the Coogs showed signs of life as they covered the spread and in some statistical categories even beat the Hurricanes. Now they follow it up by traveling to the state of Tennessee and regressing horribly (even though Memphis is not going to be confused with the '98 Vols).
7 offensive points. Against the same Memphis defense that gave up 28 points to Arkansas freakin' State! Even Division I-AA Chattanooga scored 21 against these guys! I am I really supposed to believe that our offense is worse than either of those teams? Maybe so. As another fan recently pointed out to me, the Coogs' offensive point production has so far been nothing short of, well, offensive.
I also find it troubling that the defense only gave up 172 yards against Miami and sacked Brock Berlin 5 times, yet allowed 333 yards against Memphis (262 by DeAngelo Williams alone) and didn’t get to the Tigers' quarterback (Wimprine?) once.
All in all, a huge step backwards. I don't know if I was really expecting the Cougars to beat Memphis on the road, but I can honestly say I wasn't expecting the team to perform this badly.
Yes, Memphis had motivation to clobber us after losing to UAB the week before. But did the Cougars not have motivation of their own, after being embarrassed by the Tigers in their home stadium the year before? Did the Coogs come to play today, or not? I don't know because I wasn't there, but it certainly didn't sound like it.
Even though I knew it would be tough to do so with this schedule, I really was hoping for a 6-5 record this year because this program needs, more than anything else, to string together some consecutive winning seasons if it is going to make any progress. But now it looks like the Coogs will be lucky to end this season with a 3-8 record. TCU is certainly an underperformer this season, but I'm not sure the Coogs will be able to take advantage of it, and at this point you know Tulane and East Carolina are looking forward to their trips to Robertson.
The Coogs just lost too much from last year's team and are playing too difficult a schedule this year. Add in other areas of regression, such as special teams, mental mistakes (penalties, fumbles, dropped passes) and the like, and the result is that this season simply represents a big step back for the team and the program. Unless a miracle happens, the Coogs are looking at their 14th losing season in the last 20 years.
(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015.)