Coming off of a furious flurry of scoring in the fourth quarter of their season opener against Winston Salem State and an offensive explosion in their 51-6 rout of the ECSU Vikings, the Braves were primed to keep the high scoring ball rolling.
That was until mother nature threw a wrench in what was shaping to be a well-oiled machine in the Black and Gold’s offense in the form of hurricane. This tropical storm not only cost people their lives and displaced others, it also halted whatever momentum flow that was building with the Braves’ offense before it could crest.
As a result, the UNCP football team and coaching staff was forced to evacuate campus, and some the comfort of their homes, as Florence wreaked havoc across the Carolinas. This reprieve from play and practice resulted in the team having their match ups against Catawba and Tusculum cancelled.
These games will not be able to be made up and will most likely eliminate the Braves from have a chance to return to the postseason barring some good fortune and an impeccable winning streak.
While they can only control what they can control, the weather or their schedule not being one of them, the Black and Gold weren’t able to recapture their prowess for scoring points that they had established prior to the hurricane and were instead shut out for the first time in over a decade in their second home game of the season against Newberry 20-0.
“Having two weeks off to where you don’t play a game and you don’t practice, its tough on any type of continuity… I think that certainly did play a factor and I just think that’s a very simple dynamic that goes into it,” Head Coach Shane Richardson.
After being forced to take a significant chunk of time off in the middle of the season, the Braves just seemed to be a bit rusty and out of sync as team, not just on offense, even though that was where it was the most glaring.
“Obviously, when you have time off it messes with the momentum and the flow. Offense is a lot about timing and feeling comfortable with each other and I think that definitely had part to do with some of that but you just got to be able to seize the moment on Saturdays,” said Richardson.
The challenge in trying to maintain or regain their formative form could lie within reestablishing overall focus as well as chemistry.
“It was a pretty big challenge. Some of us, we had to work out during the hurricane on our own and when time is off the mission and the togetherness kind of goes away. So, we got to do a better job of staying together and clicking more,” said redshirt junior runningback Josh Sheridan.
His teammate and defensive captain redshirt senior defensive back Josh Manns didn’t believe the time off was what lead to the underwhelming performance but instead an issue of maturity.
“I don’t really think it was a challenge. It’s just more of a maturity thing. We all got to focus when it’s game day, game week and then we got to practice strong and then finish the game strong,” said Manns.