Someone once said that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. If that is true, then come Saturday there are two very big moments that I am going to watch intently when I tune in on for the game against Appalachian State.
First – a sidebar. I cannot even remember life without cable television and competitive networks. I am stuck up in Pennsylvania – I be a displaced Pirate for nearly 15 years now – but thanks to FSCA (channels 720-722 on my system) – I will be able to catch the Pirates in action LIVE in HD…what a country.
OK…back to my point. Maybe I am fabricating this, but for as long as I can remember in my Pirate fan life, it seems that – with some exceptions – the Pirates performance on their opening drive of the game and of the second half almost to the point, spell out how the team will play for entire two periods that follow. Not sure why that is, but it does seem to be the norm with our team, IMO.
So, I will definitely be zeroed in for the first drives – both offensively and defensively. Now, on offense, it doesn’t mean if we do not score on our first O possession that we won’t score in droves, but my experience has been that when we are three-and-out or have early penalties, things go South…fast. Conversely, when we drive out of the gate – even if it stalls after a few first downs – we tend to groove offensively.
Likewise, when the defense gets a quick stop or even digs in after a few first downs, it seems that our guys amp up their performance each time out. Conversely on D, if the opposing team pops a big gainer and we do not immediately counter-punch with a big play – sack, fumble, etc. – on the next snap, it seems you can almost see the defense start to wilt.
I think the behavior is linked – armchair psychologisting right now – to the kids emotions and confidence level. Probably a byproduct of the chip our program has. Whatever the reason, I am eager to read every body motion, every play after a setback, every play after a big gainer, adversity, success, the whole nine on our first O and D performances in the first and second half.
The BIG ONE for me is Special Teams performance on kick off receiving or coverage to open the game and the half. We really need to announce presence with authority this game. I think Coach Doll will have these guys precise, but you never know.
With a new QB at the helm, we really need to give him comfort by making the routine catches, making the blocks, getting 3-4 yards on the carry. If we do that, I believe Rio Johnson will get better play-by-play (confidence is the key. He has the QB talents). Defensively, our guys have talked about Top-25 being the goal…it starts with the first drive…if everyone of those boys aren’t thinking shutout each game, then they aren’t ready for primetime.
Those are my thoughts.
Am I alone on this first drive being a big tell for our team everytime out? I am really interested in how you guys have viewed and/or (for those of you going way back, even listen to on the radio) over the years.