All right, the column is in, discussed, tweaked, and finally online, even, I think.
— Quick word about the process of writing: There was plenty of ammunition — ah, information –for a pretty spicy column here. But the one thing that I thought people would want more than anything else this morning was easy — What’s Tom Jurich thinking. I tried to provide that.
— I would describe Tom as very down. As you might expect. He’s still supportive of Kragthorpe, as you also might expect.
— I noted in this blog earlier that Brohm wasn’t making checks at the line of scrimmage in the first half. I’m sure that was correct at the time. When I asked him about this after the game, he said he wound up making about 10 checks in the game. Had to be second-half plays. Regardless, the plays again were slow in coming. Even with the game clock dwindling, it still took until just 7 or 8 seconds were left on the play clock to get the snap off. Contrast this with the fast tempo of the Petrino era.
I asked Brian about that, and he said, “Yeah, it does seem we play better when we get the tempo up. Maybe that’s something we need to do more and in practice.”
— Brohm wore a T-shirt with the words, “All In” to his post-game news conference.
— For a second straight game, no member of the U of L secondary was made available to the media. I know they want to protect these guys. And I’m no sadist. You have to feel for the guys making these mistakes. But I will say this. Edgar Sosa was sobbing after the Cardinals lost to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament and he had pulled the trigger on the potential game-winner from too deep and shot it too soon. They had to pull him aside to calm him down. Then Rick Pitino came straight in and showed him the shot on a little video screen. Showed him the clock, showed him how far out he was. Sosa was a mess. And you know what? They still sent him out there to face the media. Why? Pitino wanted him to feel it, wanted him to own it. He wanted him to get stronger. Just different approaches.
— I’m wondering if we’re seeing some of the 2002 syndrome here. What’s that? When solid NFL prospects like Dewayne White and Curry Burns realized that there were no championships in the Cards, I felt like they started playing it safe, just trying to stay healthy. They certainly weren’t the players they were a year earlier. It’s what you think when you see guys like Malik Jackson take a step back.
— You just wonder, also, if these guys didn’t handle the Orange Bowl win very well. You wonder if some of them lost their hunger.
— All of that, of course, still comes back to the coach, as Kragthorpe acknowledged today. He was a stand-up guy in the post-game. Eighteen times he said it was on him, but he still offered few specifics on how things will change. When I asked him point-blank, what process do you go through to teach these guys not to blow coverages like that, he said, and I paraphrase, “You look for all the things you can find to help the team. And we have to protect against the deep ball.”
— One item I might note. Kragthrope is a guy that Jurich has followed for a long time. They’ve known each other for a long time, though they haven’t hung out together or spent a great deal of time together. If they’ve had a friendship over the years, it has been a professional one.
So the notion that Jurich just hired one of his buddies is off. Kragthorpe was a serious candidate for other coaching jobs, was mentioned in many jobs that came open, and when he was hired by Jurich, was roundly praised as being one of the best hires of the year. His resume was comparable to Bobby Petrino’s upon arriving. Petrino had never been a head coach, had spent one year as an offensive coordinator in the SEC and one in the NFL.
None of that is to justify what is going on now. But just to say that the perception that Jurich went out and hired his “buddy” is off.
— Yes, Stone Phillips was in Jurich’s box. He was there as a guest of a U of L booster, but I don’t know who, why or how. Sorry about that. I was chasing football stuff, and never got back to it.
— From my time on the sideline today, I’d describe this as a team in search of answers, in search of leadership and very much in shock. It had ample opportunity to snap out of it today, but never did.
— The worst sign for the U of L offense: All Syracuse did to stop it was play back, not allow the big play, and keep the play in front of them. The sad truth, Syracuse did nothing to stop U of L. It simply allowed the short underneath stuff, made the Cardinals sustain long drives and waited for U of L to stop itself. And U of L obliged.
— I don’t know what’s up with Mario Urrutia. I do know Kragthorpe needs him too much to give up on him. Someone needs to remind him that it’s not just footballs he’s dropping, it’s dollars. Mario, particularly, is a guy who ought to be allowed to do some interviews.
— I said it at the time — why go for 4th and 10 instead of kicking the first-half field goal?
— Enough stream of consciousness. Thanks to all who read, and stay tuned. There will be more to come.