One key item I use to identify a well-coached team is situational awareness and execution. Today, I saw the perfect microcosm of what kind of smart, disciplined football I want to see – and it made NC State’s end of half/game management (BC miracle notwithstanding) look abyssmal by comparison.
Maryland makes a first down at the Clemson 12, down by 2, 0:22 left, no timeouts. But, as I mentally noted – the Terps are on the hash. Tough kick. Fridge signals his QB, and he and his line calmly and in near-unison line up for a quick snap. Hollenbach goes back a yard and kneels in the dead center of the field. Calmly and efficiently once again (with no formation or movement penalty), the line gets ready, Hollenbach patiently waits to be sure the line is set, and kills the clock with 0:03 left. No wasted movement, and no panic. You don’t often see professional teams execute that smoothly. It was clear that the Terps had practiced this drill before – and it paid off with a 13-12 win (meaning that the worst replay overturn I’ve ever seen didn’t give Clemson an undeserved victory).
No further commentary is really necessary, is it? I’m off to C-F.