Cavalcade of Whimsy
Sept. 13, 2011, Part 2
- Part 1. Notre
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The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten best things in the world that you need to enjoy now, because the fun probably won’t last …
10. Washington State
Last year, after two games, Washington State was 90th in the nation in total offense, scored 40 points total against Oklahoma State and Montana State, and was on its way to a 2-10 season finishing 106th in the nation in scoring and 92nd in yards. It might be really, really, really early, but considering Wazzu has fielded some of the worst teams in Pac-10 history over the past few seasons, maybe being a part of the Pac-12 has changed the fortunes.
Idaho State and UNLV are awful, so it’s not like the Cougars have done anything Beating Idaho State and UNLV isn’t special, but still, considering the Cougars came up with a total of 235 points in 12 games last season, hanging up 123 points in two games is impressive.
Right now, your 2011 Washington State Cougars lead the nation in scoring offense, are averaging 600 yards per game, and are sixth in passing offense thanks to senior Marshall Lobbestael, who ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency completing 75% of his throws for 591 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions. The biggest difference so far – and again, it’s early – is the play of the offensive line that gave up 51 sacks last season and has allowed just one so far.
Reality could set in soon with three straight road games against San Diego State, Colorado, and UCLA before hosting Stanford, but for now, at least the program that’s historically known for high-octane passing games has become fun again.
9. North Texas WR Brelan Chancellor
As a true freshman, the 5-9, 168-pounder was a top-shelf kickoff returner averaging 28 yards per try with two touchdowns, but he didn’t do much of anything as a receiver with just a 12-yard catch against FIU. This year, though, he’s being used as a bigger part of the offense with six catches and 104 yards in the first two blowout losses, while he’s making the most of his chances as a kickoff returner averaging 28.4 yards per try. On the down side, he’s getting a ton of work because the UNT defense is so bad. As a positive, he leads the nation in all-purpose running by a ton, averaging 297 yards per game. The No. 2 guy, FIU’s star receiver T.Y. Hilton, averages 275.5 yards per game.
The defending Conference USA champions came out roaring in the season opener against Charleston Southern, winning 62-0 without breathing hard. The offense rolled up 316 yards on the ground with eight touchdowns, while the quarterbacks combined for 244 yards. But that was Charleston Southern, and Boston College is far different and far better. BC is down, but it’s still a brand name BCS team that’s almost always rock solid. UCF didn’t seem to care.
It took a 21-point fourth quarter to put the BC game away, but the Knight defense was outstanding for the second game in a row allowing just 57 yards on the ground and only a 47-yard first quarter field goal. It’s only been two games, and road battles at FIU and BYU will be better tests coming up, but UCF leads the nation in scoring defense, is fourth in pass defense, leads the nation in total defense – at least among teams with two games under the belt – allowing 130 yards per game. The No. 2 team, Florida State – who also played Charleston Southern – has given up 137.5 yards per game, and the No. 3 team, Michigan State, has allowed 151 per outing. UCF has given up 81 fewer yards so far than Alabama.
7. Colorado State DE Norly Caplan
The sophomore defensive end was considered nothing more than a promising reserve this offseason, and now he appears to be the next big thing pass rusher for a team in desperate search of steady pressure into the backfield. Against New Mexico to start the season, he came up with 3.5 sacks, seven tackles, and five tackles for loss, while changing the tight game around with four forced fumbles. Even though he was keyed on by Northern Colorado, he still made a sack, two tackles, and broke up a pass. Was the speedster’s start a fluke? He’ll get his chance to show his stuff against Colorado this week.
6. The Playboy Club
The new titillating NBC show has been positioned as Mad Men meet Desperate Housewives, and it’s already making all the right people angry. As expected, there’s an Up With Family/Down With Porn type of group in Utah that wants to ban the show, and others are providing the stir needed to create an early buzz. Of course, no guy will ever watch it because it’s being put on against Monday Night Football, and any red-blooded America male who’d watch for the chicks dressed in bunny outfits already knows how to clear the cache and doesn’t need some network show to get the job done. However, NBC knows what it’s doing with the timing. It’s not putting it up to get the males; it’s going after the MNF football wives, and there’s something inherently cool about the idea of women watching Playboy bunnies, even the fake kind.
5. The Luke Kuechly/Danny Trevathan battle for the Butkus
Kentucky senior Danny Trevathan was the second best linebacker in the nation last year, but he strangely flew under the radar despite playing in the SEC. Very fast and a form tackler, he came up with 144 tackles with three sacks and four forced fumbles as the team’s top do-it-all defender. This year, he started off red hot with 26 tackles in two games with four tackles for loss, a broken up pass, and an interception, but he needs to get more publicity. Even among top college media types, Trevathan has yet to generate the significant buzz. That’s going to change.
Boston College’s Luke Kuechly was a tackling machine as a freshman, making a team-leading 158 stops as he filled in for the lost production with Mark Herzlich battling with cancer. Last year, Kuechly improved and became an even more disruptive playmaker with 183 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and three picks. This year, he has taken his game to a whole other level with 18 stops against Northwestern and 17 against UCF to go along with three tackles for loss and a key pick against the Wildcats.
With all due respect to Von Miller – who really was more of a defensive end playing linebacker – Kuechly should’ve won the Butkus last year, and this season it’s Trevathan’s turn to get in the race. If nothing else, these two are appointment television.
4. The 2011 Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis might be pulling a San Antonio Spurs.
In 1997, David Robinson was knocked out for the year with back and foot injuries, the Spurs stunk, got the first overall draft pick, and upgraded the team with Tim Duncan. The rest is history.
There’s a difference between tanking a season and not trying, and if the Colts are smart, and if they can get past the whole macho win at all costs attitude that NFL teams are supposed to have, the timing could be absolutely perfect to get one of the highest rated pro prospects since John Elway.
Andrew Luck appears to be almost certain to become the next big NFL thing, and he’d be a perfect fit to take over when Peyton Manning’s career is done.
Manning might be one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, but considering he meant everything to the franchise, proven in painful fashion in Week One against Houston, it’s also on him that the team gagged time and again in the playoffs. The one Super Bowl win was nice for the résumé and was big to keep out of the Dan Marino/Dan Fouts/Warren Moon/Jim Kelly historical category, but right now, Indianapolis might take the big step back needed to keep the production going for another decade. As crazy as it might sound, when it comes to titles, Luck could upgrade the position. Keeping Kerry Collins under center would go a long way to making that happen.
Shhhhhhh. Somehow, Tennessee is sliding under the radar, and if it can rise up and beat Florida in Gainesville, then all of a sudden, head coach Derek Dooley might really have the program back on track.
Forget about winning the SEC East with road games at Alabama and Arkansas, to go along with the date at Florida and home games against LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina, but the Vols have looked amazing so far against two solid opponents.
Montana is a strong FCS program that should end up in the playoffs, and Tennessee ripped it apart in a 42-16 laugher. Cincinnati put 72 on the board in its opener, but it couldn’t handle the Tennessee passing game in a 45-23 loss.
Aaron Murray, John Brantley, Stephen Garcia, and Chris Relf are all terrific, but the best quarterback in the SEC might be Tyler Bray, who has been nothing short of flawless so far completing 78% of his throws for 698 yards and seven touchdowns, while running for a short score against the Bearcats. Going back to last year, Bray has thrown for 300 yards or more in five of his last seven games, and unlike 2010 when he gave away seven picks in the last three games, he has yet to turn the ball over.
The Vol offensive line is still a bit shaky, the run defense has had a few problems, and the pass rush has been spotty so far, but if the first two games are any indication, Tennessee is tired of being pushed around, and it’s not going to take it anymore.
2. The Georgia Tech passing game?!
The big controversy at Georgia Tech – outside of the silly NCAA ruling that stripped away the 2009 ACC title – centered around the quarterback situation and who was going to take over for Josh Nesbitt. Tevin Washington was named the starter, but he was written on the depth chart in pencil. After finishing last year with 514 rushing yards and two 100-yard days in a backup role, he has only rushed for 40 yards so far with two scores. However, he’s hitting his throws, and he’s hitting them big.
While he has only completed 13-of-21 passes, they’ve gone for 473 yards and five touchdowns for an average of 36 yards per completion and an unheard of 22.5 yards per attempt. To put that in perspective, Denard Robinson is No. 2 in the nation in yards per completion, and he’s averaging 30.73 yards per connection and 14.08 yards per attempt. Nathan Scheelhaase of Illinois is averaging 11.9 yards per completion and 16.77 yards per attempt, while Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson is third in the nation averaging 13.06 yards per completion. That’s what happens when you connect on three scoring passes of 70 yards or more to three different receivers in two games.
Third in the nation in rushing offense and total offense, and second in scoring offense, Georgia Tech’s option offense is rolling under Washington, and soon the spotlight will be on. Next up is Kansas, who after two weeks has given up 640 yards through the air and is 113th in the nation in pass efficiency defense.
1. Urban Meyer and Chris Spielman
Meyer and Spielman aren’t for the college football wusses.
If you’re looking for a nice, easy broadcast with everyone making nice-nice with the coaches and looking for smiley happy things about the game, then the color commentator team of Meyer and Spielman isn’t for you. However, they’re the rare announcing tandem that makes the game better. If you can get through the lack of polish, these two will give you a fantastic football lesson.
Play-by-play man Dave Pasch has to serve an interpreter for the two, often asking to them to clarify what things like A Gap and Z Receiver mean, and that’s sort of the fun. Meyer talks like a coach, and he sees things five steps before they happen, like calling out a fade route to Nick Toon against single coverage a second before it happened in Wisconsin’s win over Oregon State. More importantly, Meyer talks and comments like a coach who’s still on the top of his game, because he is.
Meyer holds back a wee bit, only because he’s going to get back in the game at some point, but Spielman doesn’t have any of those problems. The legendary linebacker killed Oregon State coach Mike Riley for unnecessarily rotating his quarterbacks and strange times, and he was right. Spielman talks like a linebacker who sees everything that’s going on at once, and with the instincts to tell what’s happening a half-step before they do.
The team won’t last for long. Soon, Meyer will be off to Penn State and he’ll go back to being clammed up and paranoid Coach Meyer, but let this announcing trio be a lesson; good interaction between true football guys, and not former football guys who act like talking heads, can be great. Saying the right thing and being slick isn’t always a must, as long as the hardcore Xs and Os are there.
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn’t feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- How was Vick Ballard’s run at the end of the Auburn game not ruled a touchdown? Mississippi State might have gotten hosed, but that doesn’t take away from an amazing tackle by Ryan Smith on Chris Relf to save the game.
- Take a snapshot of the standings. It’s mid-September, and Eastern Michigan is all alone on top of the MAC East. Facing Michigan this weekend will end all that.
- Statistical matchup nightmare No. 1: UNLV has been ripped up over the first two games for an average of 364.5 yards per game, and is last in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Next up is Hawaii.
- Statistical matchup nightmare No. 2: North Texas has managed just 215 rushing yards over the first two games of the year against FIU and Houston. Up next is Alabama, who has allowed just 98 yards on the ground against Kent State and Penn State.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Indianapolis Colts without Peyton Manning … Underrated: Cleveland Cavaliers without LeBron James
2) Overrated: Arizona vs. Oklahoma State … Underrated: The in-booth interview with T. Boone Pickens about conference expansion and realignment
3) Overrated: Starting out the season with five straight road games ... Underrated: Florida Atlantic gaining one first down against Michigan State
4) Overrated: The first night game at Michigan Stadium ... Underrated: Brady Hoke leaping up to touch the Michigan Go Blue sign
5) Overrated: USC 23-14 over Utah ... Underrated: USC 17-14 over Utah
“Oh, bull. I'll bet you our next meal that I can get you gambling before the day's out.” … And away we go with Captain Fiu’s Magic Ride. Enjoy.
1) West Virginia +2 over Maryland
2) Michigan State +5.5 over Notre Dame
3) Hawaii -20 over UNLV
- Record So Far: 1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS
If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2011. … 1) Denard Robinson, QB Michigan, 2) Robert Griffin, QB Baylor, 3) Case Keenum, QB Houston
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault … I need to take my cue from LaMichael James. I need to start doing me.
- Part 1. Notre