After a long season filled with obstacles and difficulties, the Wildcats’ football season will reach its scheduled finish on Saturday against the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
When the department of athletics first announced that football would play this year, it gave the ACU community something to look forward to and bring them excitement. That excitement came at the perfect time, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. It gave the ACU community a way to unite — A way and outlet to feel normal in a time where normalcy is hard to find.
There was also a lot of excitement surrounding the football team itself. They saw the arrival of many talented transfers from all over the country, including junior quarterback Peyton Mansell. Along with the transfers, the newest freshman class filled with potential would start their careers with ACU. The Wildcats would also see the return of many standout players from 2019, like junior quarterback Sema’J Davis, wide receiver Kobe Clark, and senior linebacker Jack Gibbens. The 2020 season looked very promising for the Wildcats.
Now, ACU currently sits at a 1-4 record. A record that can easily become a 1-5 record after the game on Saturday. At this point, there is one question that needs answering, what went wrong for ACU this season?
One of the main factors contributing to the Wildcats’ struggles this season has been injuries and illness. First, the season was heavily affected by COVID-19 to the point where teams agreed to cancel two games surrounding concerns about the pandemic. Along with COVID-19 problems, many players did not play consistently due to multiple injuries this season, one of those including Clark.
Then came one of the most significant losses for the Wildcats. On the evening of October 8, Sema’J Davis became involved in a severe car accident, which led him to be care-flighted from Abilene to a hospital in the Dallas area. This accident still leaves Davis in the hospital today.
Though injuries and sickness have been the root of some of the Wildcats’ problems this season, there are still many unanswered questions and many potential reasons behind ACU’s struggles this season.
One issue that affected the Wildcats this season was turning the ball over. A prominent example of this came in October when the Wildcats played Stephen F. Austin. In that close game, ACU turned the ball over five times. If the Wildcats had fewer turnovers in that game, the outcome might have swung in their favor.
Another source of concern that has become prevalent this season was play calling by the coaching staff.
This problem came to the surface during the only home game of the season against Angelo State. In the second quarter, the Wildcats were trailing the Rams by over 20 points. They decided to run the ball on a third and 15. The coaching staff decided it was best to run the ball instead of passing after numerous failed attempts to run the ball in that drive.
There are plenty of instances of this type of play calling happening at crucial points throughout the entire season.
In the end, ACU has the talent and players to potentially exceed expectations and to do well in their conference. But, there is an apparent disconnect between the potential and skill seen in practice versus what fans see on game-day. This disconnect did not start this year but has been accumulating over the past couple of years.
This disconnect and problem is an issue that head coach Adam Dorrel and his coaching staff must resolve. If not, they might soon find themselves on the hot seat fighting for their jobs.