And once again, the game wasn't a blowout in the beginning, and that's been the story all season so far. They played Clemson tough for the first half; they very well could have beaten Rice last week. And in the first half of today's game, they held the ball for far longer than Army and kept things close, only trailing 7-0 when I got out of the car. It's been close--oh, so close--but since this isn't horseshoes, hand grenades or atom bombs, close doesn't count. And I'm afraid that if this ship doesn't right itself pretty soon, Todd Dodge won't get to reap the benefits of the new stadium that I'm sure has been a key part of recruiting for the past several years.
The worst thing is this: If the team does have a losing season, it can be blamed on something largely out of Coach Dodge's control: Injuries. This paragraph pretty much tells the whole story:
Injury woes have taken their toll on the Mean Green this year, and hit home again at West Point. After losing center Nick Leppo in the game's second series, quarterback Derek Thompson left the game with a leg injury. Starting receiver Christopher Bynes also left the game with injury, making nine starters lost to injury this year.And remember, Riley Dodge used to be the starting QB himself, until he was switched to receiver because of...wait for it...injuries. And Leppo was filling in at center for J.J. Johnson, who was lost for the season to a foot injury in the opener against Clemson. So that means that, by the second quarter yesterday, the third-string center was snapping to the third-string emergency quarterback...in the third game of the season. It makes one wonder if the team will eventually run out of players at this rate.
Thompson was filling in for Nathan Tune, who left last week's game against Rice with a hip injury, and Riley Dodge was once again called into action.
Granted, there are still a lot of games left to go, including the entire conference schedule. One could find hope in the fact that the Green have hung in there well against their non-conference foes. But considering what happened earlier tonight, when Texas A&M barely beat Florida International, a Sun Belt team, earlier tonight, it reminds us that the conference won't exactly be a cakewalk either.
I haven't given up hope yet, but these injuries are killing North Texas. I still believe in Coach Dodge, and I'd love to see him still in charge when the new stadium opens next season, but things have to get back on track very soon.