The University of Northern Colorado (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) had done a decent job this season answering questions about its abilities under first year head coach Ed McCaffrey, but there are now more questions than answers after its 33-point loss at Montana State.
Will Dylan McCaffrey and the offense find some more chemistry?
The offense might be one of the more frustrating aspects of the UNC team, simply because it’s capable of doing well but hasn’t shown consistency.
McCaffrey has proven he can make good passes, but he’s also known for making some bad ones. The offensive line has held strong at times and others it’s struggled to protect the backfield. The receivers and running backs have also shown flashes of excellence and had failed plays.
UNC has what it takes. When the offense is on, it can operate like a well-oiled machine and makes drives look easy. The players say they trust each other.
Now, it comes down to executing regularly, and that has yet to be seen.
Can the coaching staff get things together?
After the team’s performance on Saturday, there are uncertainties about the team’s preparedness. That lies on the coaching staff. It’s why they’re paid for their positions.
McCaffrey said Wednesday that this falls on him, since he is ultimately responsible for the program, but things are going to be just as hard from here on out.
The Bears play Eastern Washington, one of the top teams in the nation, on Saturday at home. Then, they travel to UC Davis, also one of the FCS top 10 programs, a week later. Montana and Weber State, historically Big Sky powerhouses, are on the slate for later this season.
It’s a lot to expect from a team that has a whole new coaching staff and a mostly new roster from 2019. With the way things have gone, despite making improvements in certain areas, it’s still fair to wonder if the team can elevate itself significantly this season.
Plus, offensive coordinator Max McCaffrey’s clipboard incident at Montana State has taken time and focus away from the preparation for this upcoming week. UNC says there was no malicious intent, MSU fans disagree. It’s unclear if there was or there was simply a misunderstanding that was handled poorly, but UNC has to put this behind them.
The coaching staff needs to be locked in on ensuring the team can pick up a few more wins.
Can they get to the FCS Playoff?
Short answer, probably not. The Bears’ overall record is in a position that will likely make it difficult to earn an FCS Playoff spot, at least based on the records of former teams.
If UNC could win out, then it would still have a shot, but the likelihood appears slim, especially after the performance at Montana State.
MSU is one of the top teams in the Big Sky and in the nation, and the Bears didn’t impress in any position group. The Bobcats commanded the field from start to finish.
Additionally, the remaining teams on the schedule will make it that much harder. Eastern Washington and UC Davis are ranked higher than Montana State, so the Bears have a lot of work to do if they want to keep up.
It’s possible that Northern Colorado can shock the football world and earn a playoff berth, the team wants to, but no one should get their hopes up at this point.
The Bears will face Eastern Washington at 1 p.m. Saturday for homecoming. Tickets are still available for the game, or fans can watch on ESPN+.
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