Lots of thoughts on yesterday’s Citizens Bank Bowl. I think it’s a game people are going to talk about for a long time, for a lot of different reasons.
Here’s five thoughts on Butler’s 13-12 loss to Navarro in the national title game:
1. The kicks
Nobody except the people in the Butler program know what was going on with this team the last three weeks, so it’s tough to pass judgment … but abandoning the kicking game proved to be a fatal flaw for this team. That’s indisputable. It cost them the national title. I asked Navarro coach Nick Bobeck if he was surprised they completely abandoned the kicking game afterwards.
“I wasn’t surprised because I watch A LOT of film,” Bobeck said. “But I’ll tell you what … I learned an important lesson today from what happened to Butler.”
Translation: You gotta have a kicking game, and at least have a guy that can make extra points.
2. Marcus Kennard
Butler Community College wide receiver Marcus Kennard is a sure-fire, high-level Division I prospect. He’s big and strong and fast and can do wonderful things on a football field, as he showed this season. But Sunday, he choked. He dropped passes. He couldn’t get open in the endzone. And he lost his composure. 2 catches, 17 yards.
3. Cornellius Carradine neutralized
When was the last time you saw someone get 9.5 tackles and felt like they weren’t a factor? That was Carradine’s line, but most of his tackles were on hustle plays, when he was chasing down Navarro running backs that had cruised past the line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs had 2-3 guys on CC every snap – and without him making his signature big plays Navarro’s offense controlled the game in the second half.
The Bulldogs touched greatness on Sunday, and I have to give them props. They beat Butler with a backup QB and in the Grizzlies’ home state. That took some doing. Navarro defensive end Toby Jackson’s two sacks that ended Butler drives in the fourth quarter were two of the most clutch defensive plays I’ve ever seen. He told me he knew they were both good hits because he didn’t feel anything, didn’t hear the crowd. Reminded me of a line from Gladiator, right before Maximus leads his cavalry into battle against the Gauls:
[Cavalry addresses Maximus]
Maximus: Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead!
Maximus: Brothers, what we do in life… echoes in eternity.
5. Changes needed in bowl?
It was a good game with two great teams, nobody can dispute that. The CBB got the two best teams in the country on the field together, for the second year in a row, and that’s saying something. But Sunday’s game only drew 4,007 people … less than the attendance of at least FOUR regular-season games Butler played, including the opener against Navarro at Cessna Stadium. Having Fort Scott Community College run this game is something that probably needs to be changed, and the Jayhawk Conference honchos should take a closer look at how this game was run the next time they all get together — from the distribution of broadcast rights to how much control they let the NJCAA have over the event to the people they put in charge. PR-wise, I don’t think they could have done much worse. There’s no way Butler should be able to play a regular-season opener two years ago at Cessna that draws 13,000 in a 1 vs. 2 matchup, draw a rumored 6,00 (they quite counting tickets after awhile) in a 1 vs. 2 with Hutchinson a couple of months ago in El Dorado and then draw 4,000 for a national title game 2 hours away from home in another 1 vs. 2. Something doesn’t compute here.
I’m out. Anybody up for some hoops?