The Cyclones started off the 2013 campaign on a wave of good feelings, between the encouraging camp reports, to the news that the in-attendance Jake Knott had made the Philadelphia Eagles roster. Jake was even blessed with the opportunity to see his little brother Luke get plenty of unexpected playing time, Unfortunately, the reason was because starter Jevohn Miller looked completely out of his element, missing tackles and assignments on just about every single play. It was bad enough that both Paul Rhoads and Wally Burnham took the linebacker to task on the sidelines. The always excellent Ben Bruns said this during the 2nd quarter, and his words proved prophetic.
@WideRtNattyLt - Luke can make the coverage plays, can he fit and tackle in the run game...probably the difference between a win & a loss.— Ben Bruns (@benbruns) September 1, 2013
To make things worse on defense, starting cornerback Jansen Watson didn't suit up for Cyclones for an undisclosed violation of team rules, leaving the Panthers to pick on Sam Richardson the defensive back. As a team, the tackling was as bad as it's been in recent memory... reminiscent of some of the worst games from the early Rhoads years.
The offense looked better than the defense, but was still unable to generate touchdowns on consecutive goal to gos in the second half, and was once again guilty of some odd playcalls. To top it off, center Tom Farniok left the game with a serious injury, though early reports indicate that it is NOT his ACL.
The big positive about the offense was the newcomers: UNO transfer and previous walk-on wide receiver Justin Coleman accounted for 103 yards and a long touchdown, while Aaron Wimberly looked dangerous on almost every touch. They both also demonstrated a solid rapport with QB Sam Richardson, who had a solid game in his own right, going for 242 yards and 2 TDs through the air while adding 74 yards on the ground.
The small amount of positive takeways from tonight's game were promising enough to believe that this team may yet figure it out, but if there aren't major improvements soon, the Cyclones are in for a long season.