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A Missed Opportunity

Photo borrowed from HPeNews.com

Forget #BeatWake. #BeatYourself is more like it.

The “Cardiac Apps” were at it again Saturday, giving our Black and Gold Yellow tickers a workout – before breaking them into a million pieces. Michael Rubino, the often-loathed sophomore kicker, fired a low line drive of a 39-yard FG to win it in the waning seconds.

Low. Blocked. Wake Forest 20, App State 19. That’s a wrap from 3,333 feet.

The rivalry was very much renewed in a second-half thriller at KBS.

/Chills/

Thoughts. Hot takes. Nothing but flame-throwing takes. Including from your blogger. Replace Rubino. Replace the play caller(s). The pro-ACC refs were out to get us. Ban the fans who left as early as halftime (halftime!).

Before we dive into the analysis you all so clearly crave tolerate increasingly loathe, your blogger has no problem admitting the obvious: I. Was. Wrong.

So very wrong. Not that upset about it, since it means App State is better than three quarters in Athens and three against Texas State, but it’s important to state clearly.

Look: Wake looked great in weeks one through three, and whether or not you all want to face it, the Apps looked good in two quarters at Georgia and Texas State, and played a feckless transitioning-to-DII squad in its other game. What’s more, TSU had struggled against Houston Baptist. All the evidence pointed to a Demon Deacon demolition of the Mountaineers….

…Your blogger should have put more stock in two particular frames; the first quarter at Georgia, when the ‘Neers gave the Dawgs all they could handle: and the third quarter in San Marcos, when the Black & Yellow Express was backed into a corner and came out on the attack. Add Saturday’s thriller against and up-and-coming ACC squad, and we’ve seen six quarters of a team that can play with Power 5 teams.

This is who App State is, at least potential-wise. Metric, corrected. But it’ll be revised as future quarters are played and new data is available.

Back to Saturday: The Mountaineers should have beaten Wake. For the second time in as many seasons, App State let a Power 5 foe off the hook. It stings. It’s nice to again confirm or beloved Mountaineers can beat P5 squads, but the Satterfield administration has got to win one of these soon. Right?

Like the loss to the Vols, often-loathed sophomore kicker Michael Rubino was again a central character in the loss. A blocked first-half PAT. A waaaaaay wide left (makeable) FG before halftime. A wide-left practice game-winning kick, followed by the Block Heard ‘Round the High Country.

Let me be clear, this L isn’t totally on Rubio, whom I have called a solid (enough) Group of 5 kicker. But…

…There is one thing that gives this Rubino Guy pause. The Wake defenders had his weakness pegged early, per Scotty Washington, the 6’5’’ Deac who got his right hand on the ball:

“The D-line had been telling me all day, ‘The kicks have been low, the kicks have been low.”

Rubino and the App State special teams coaches have to adjust. This writer is not a football coach, kicking consultant or a physicist. But this has to be addressed, even though this loss was not 100% on the kicker – and it was not. The kicker clearly didn’t like the hold on the first wide left kick, and Satt said the snap was high on the blocked one. That can be fixed.

”For us to go toe-to-toe with these guys, I’m extremely proud of them,” Coach Visor said after the crushing defeat.

So are we, coach. There’s a lot of skill and fight on the App State sideline.

But the second part of that Satterfield quote is as disturbing as it is delusional:

“Looking at the stats, we played really good. No turnovers, and played a really clean football game.”

Umm…

…Clean?! Clean?! Not the second half, coach.

The ‘Neers had just one yellow handkerchief thrown against them in the first half. Then came six in the second half. One stalled killed a drive. Another kept a stalled Wake drive alive, a march that had been shut down by the Mountaineer D, which mostly returned to form. The Deacons got 7 on that drive, more than erasing the four points Rubino and the FG unit left on the field.

Unacceptable. Have to understand the situation and not jump offside.

The fourth-quarter playcalling. Man oh man. Slow-developing perimeter passes that any P5 defense other than maybe Kansas is going to swarm to and shut down, as WFU did. Several slower-developing off-tackle handoffs to a clearly not right Jalin Moore, and even some inside runs that seemed to take an eternity for Moore or Terrence Upshaw to even get to where the hole was…supposed to be.

And then there was the third-down reserve. A handful of coaching staffs would call a reverse in a renewed rivalry game at home with the momentum and a chance to go win the game. And we have one. For better. And for worse.

The call oozed desperation emanating from a lackluster OL, underachieving feature RB, and a struggling running attack. Then there was Satterfield not calling a timeout with around four-and-a-half minutes left, letting half a minute roll off the clock instead of stopping it to make a go-or-punt decision.

Think that didn’t affect the outcome? Those precious seconds would have given App two more offensive plays, likely getting the kicker closer – meaning his kick didn’t have to be so low to achieve the needed distance. Coach Visor can’t assume he’s going to get points there. Doing so makes you view those seconds as your opponent’s, so you want them to fall off the game clock. When you need points to tie or win, and until you obtain them, every second on the clock is yours. You need each and every one. And when you’re down, a coach can’t start milking the clock until he’s well into the red zone or – with a more-reliable kicker – well within his range.

Satt did so on the other side of the 50.

We’ll all remember Rubino’s latest bad day against a beatable P5 opponent for a long time. That’s how football works. I’m betting Rubino knows that.

But let’s also remember the boneheaded penalties and coaching hubris that let another Big Game slip away. Rubino has to be better – but he had plenty of help.

–Appstradamus

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Missed Opportunity | AppStateNews

  2. AppStateRick83

    September 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Agree with most of your article blogger man but I think Rubino's taking too much blame. The entire kicking unit is the problem, including possibly the special teams coach. On his PAT miss in the first half his holder got hurt and someone else had to hold for him which I suspected threw him off for the rest of the misses/blocks and I'm not sure what happened on the initial missed PAT. No reason to even mention Knoxville last year, he was in his first college game ever, playing in one of the toughest places against an SEC powerhouse…so come on. Rubino is still developing and he has, and will continue, to win many games for us, flashback to the bowl game last year against Toledo.

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