Just back from Dallas, I have a few thoughts about the game.
The most surprising to me is that I thoroughly enjoyed the game, despite the heart-crushing loss to the Black Knights. The entire event was well thought out, thousands of people travelled thousands of miles to see the game and disparage the opponent’s supporters, and the game was a nail-baiting battle that resulted in free extra football being played at the end of the game. Many of us had the opportunity to visit with comrades (not the soviet kind) we had not seen in years. What more could we ask?
I think the readers can guess what Falcon supporters could ask for.
Number 1: I think it’s very clear that Haaziq Daniels is the best answer at QB for the Falcons. He clearly has the running and passing ability to lead the team. Unfortunately, at this point in his development, the ability comes with intermittent periods of hesitancy, misjudgments, and lack of awareness. The tone was set on the second play of the game after a 7 yard gain by Brad Roberts. The option was the call on the play, but Army’s most effective disrupter Andre Carter broke into the backfield to deflect a pitch from Daniels, resulting in a five yard loss as the Falcons had to cover the ball on the ground. These things are expected occasionally when a team runs the option, but the errant pitches have been a little too frequent with Daniels, and this is now back-to-back games that included a bad pitch on the first drive. As a result of this pitch attempt, the Falcons virtually eliminated the pitch option from their repertoire and became over-dependent on the fullback dive, augmented by some impressive running by Daniels.
Two drives later, Daniels killed a drive with a hesitant dead-duck lob on a pass play that looked to have good potential. After that pass, Daniels went on to complete 13 of 20 passes for 226 yards. Go figure.
On the very next drive, on 4th and 1 at the Army 27 yard line, Daniels dropped the snap from the center, killing a drive in Army territory after a 53 yard drive by the Falcons, all on the ground, including 23 yards from Daniels.
Number 2: There were some head scratching decisions by the coaching staff. The biggest one was the pitch to Dane Kinnamon and subsequent pass back to Daniels along the sideline. The Falcons had a nice drive of 50 yards going and were within field goal range. The play didn’t fool the Black Knights at all, and they had three defenders around Daniels. The pass should never have been thrown. Obviously it was a coaching failure from the standpoint of making sure your passer has some awareness about defensive players near his target.
The other thing that surprised me was the personnel choices for the Falcon offense during their possession in overtime. The choice was made to employ Omar Fattah as the fullback and leave their best runner on the bench. Fattah has done a good job this year, but the game was on the line and Roberts should have been in their if he was healthy. Also on the last play of the game Amari Terry was targeted as the receiver. He has only played a couple snaps all year, and here he was playing on the biggest play of the game. Brandon Lewis, David Cormier, and Dane Kinnamon had some great reception throughout the game, and Calhoun chooses to go with an inexperienced 5’ 7” receiver?
Number 3: The Falcons gave up 214 yards passing on eight receptions. That shouldn’t happen against Army.
I’ll be back with a preview for the Colorado State game later in the week.