Thursday, January 27, 2022

Breaking Ulbani football’s decline from playoff success in 2019 to start 0-6 in 2021

ALBANY – It’s coming two years after one of the most significant achievements in UAlbany football history.

On November 30, 2019, Great Danes put on a show for their home fans at Tom and Mary Casey Stadium, registering a 42-14 win over Central Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs. It was the first FCS playoff win in Ulbani history, and the cap for an impressive run of six wins in seven games, which saw a high-flying offense propel the Great Dane into the postseason.

Since then, however, nA lot has gone right for head coach Greg Gattuso’s team.

The second-round playoff loss at Montanta State a week later was not particularly unexpected, but it heralded a spate of negative results. Since their playoff win over Central Connecticut, the UAlbany has won just one in 11 games – a period that now spans almost two full calendar years – and the Great Danes have a nine-game losing streak and 0–6 points overall. In this season take Saturdays. 1 pm home game with a main team that handed Ulbani their first of nine consecutive defeats.

What’s the fall?

“You can say whatever you want. At the end of the day, it’s just excuses,” said wide receiver Tyler Odecowen. “We have to go out there, play our game, play a better brand of football.”

Take a look at three compelling factors behind UAlbany’s struggles:

aggressive regression

In 2019, UAlbany’s 9–5 season saw an explosive, balanced attack on offense. Quarterback Jeff Underkuffler wrote a breakout season that rewrote the program record book with 3,543 passing yards and 41 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. Meanwhile, Karl Mofor ran back for 1,290 rushing yards.

Overall, UAlbany’s 2019 offense averaged 31.36 points, while racking up 387.8 yards per game (256.4 passing, 131.4 rushing).

Those numbers rose to 18.75 points and 290.8 yards (172.3 passes, 118.5) in the Great Danes’ four-game spring season, after spending 2020 with the CAA’s fall season canceled due to restrictions brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic. started decreasing. haste).

Through six games this fall, those numbers have dropped to 15.5 points and 254.7 yards (195.7 passing, 59.0 rushing), meaning scoring has been cut by more than half and total offense since 2019. 34.3% down.

“We need to get some ups and downs first,” Gattuso said. “Our third-down conversion rate [30.7% this season, 11th in the CAA] not good. If we move the sticks a little better, it will lead to more points and more touchdowns. “

It has been a particular struggle for the undercuffler, who went from an average of 253.1 passing yards per game in 2019 to 174.9 yards during his spring and fall 2021 campaigns. A rebuilt offensive line and a core receiving frequent shuffling has hindered the undercuffler, whose touchdown-to-interception ratio has improved from 4-to-1 in 2019, almost in his last eight games (nine TDs, eight). INT) is done.

Meanwhile, the running game has always relied more on the stable mophore. 2019 featured the Rugged Runners team, with their 1,290 rushing yards representing 70.1% of the team’s total rushing output while they achieved 58% of the Great Dane’s running efforts, but the team still had a valid Number 2 was option. Backfield with Alex James.

Over the past two seasons, the reliance on Mofor has grown. He represented 97% of the team’s rushing yards and 79.2% of carries during the spring and, despite struggling to go through most of the fall, Sr.’s 385 net rushing yards through six games actually cost UAlbany’s entire team. Total thanks for the yardage. Got lost on the sacks and the rumble.

When it comes to running back UAlbany’s use of the last 10 games, the Great Dane has relied almost exclusively on Mofor. Since the start of the spring season, Senior has pushed the ball 224 times. All the other running backs on the UAlbany roster have combined to carry the ball exactly 12 times.

“We have to make another comeback,” Gattuso said.

special teams disasters

Gattuso said this week that he would make a full recovery if the special teams fight ended net neutral, who was originally a Great Dane in 2019.

Since that season, it’s become anything but.

“It’s the easiest place to save points, and we’ve dropped points in several games,” Gattuso said. “You also want to break into special teams.”

Kicker Dylan Burns has been relatively reliable, but the rest of the special-team units have struggled. The return game has been a non-factor for the Great Dane since the start of the spring 2021 season, with no punt return for more than 11 yards and no kickoff return for more than 35 yards during that stretch . Meanwhile, UAlbany’s punt coverage unit has allowed three touchdowns in the last 10 games.

Then, there are unforgivable disasters. Dropped snaps, blocked kicks and mental blunders abound in the kicking game.

Ulbani’s three losses this season – to Rhode Island, William & Mary and Villanova – are directly due to points surrendered on failed plays by Great Dane special teams. Even the Great Dane’s lone win over the past two seasons, which came in the spring opener in New Hampshire, required a late goal-line stand to maintain victory. New Hampshire were gifted ideal field conditions for their final drive due to a bizarre illegal kick penalty following a dropped snap by punter Sean Rawls.

leverage points

It’s a common practice in the CAA that the top-to-bottom depth of the league leads to a lot of close games, and Great Danes are certainly familiar with that.

Two years earlier, UAlbany played seven games decided by a right (eight points or less), posted a 5–2 record in those competitions and won the last four such games, including straight over Delaware, New Hampshire and Stony Brook. There were three games involved. regular season and propelled the Great Danes to a big playoff berth.

A 24–20 win over New Hampshire to start the spring extended Ulbani’s winning streak in one-possession games to five, and since then, it’s been a complete reversal of fortune.

In UAlbany’s last nine matches, six matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less. They’ve all been league games, and the Great Dane has lost every single one of them.

“We see our mistakes,” said defensive end Anthony Lang. “It’s what’s dropping us in close games.”

“There’s no real answer to this,” Gattuso said. “You have to pretend in critical moments.”

More from The Daily Gazette:

Categories: college sports sports

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