Week 1 |
Week 2 |
Don't Think, Just Throw
We've all been brainwashed since berth that defense wins
championships, and that you must have a good, sound running game to have
any shot at being successful in football. Yes, that's fine, but the idea
is to score the most points possible. With that in mind, it's time for
one of the big-time programs to rethink things a little bit and realize
that Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, or Hawaii head man June Jones,
could actually be on to something.
I know, I know, the teams with the wacky passing attacks took a hit last
week. That's glossing over the overall point. Right now, if you told
Tennessee it could be second in the nation in total offense, averaging
606 yards per game (it's currently 48th in the nation averaging 418
yards per game), and could average 49.5 points per game (15 more a game
than it's currently cranking out), you'd think it'd want that. Texas
Tech is putting up those numbers. If you said to Florida State it could
be averaging 55.75 points and 543 yards per game (like Hawaii currently
is), don't you think it'd want to?
Of course, the numbers are a bit skewed, since Hawaii and Texas Tech
haven't played the teams Tennessee and Florida State have, but you get
the idea. It's also important to note that programs like Baylor and
Arizona haven't exactly lit the world on fire by copying Texas Tech, but
that's Baylor and Arizona.
I'm wondering what would happen (no
offense, TTechers) if a big, BIG name program had Leach as the
head coach. I'm wondering what would happen if you could get an elite of
the elite recruit to run the offense, and more Michael Crabtrees to
catch the passes. I'm wondering how this whole thing would work if Leach
or Jones were at a place that wakes up in the morning and gets a
boatload of top-flight defensive talent knocking on the recruiting door.
I'm not saying Virginia Tech should replace Frank Beamer, but pair the
Texas Tech offense, assuming it's coached properly, with the Hokie
defense, and you'd have an unstoppable machine.
Yards are yards, points are points, and offense is offense. A passing
yard counts the same as a rushing yard. It's time one of the top teams,
once the fur starts flying and the coaching carousel begins, to think
outside the spread box and take a look at Leach or Jones. If nothing
else, it would be a whole bunch of fun.
On The Buckeye
It's taken a few weeks, but
I'd like to officially get my ticket punched for the Buckeye bandwagon.
With one-third of the season gone, Ohio State has improbably established
itself as the Big Ten favorite, and a potentially a deep, deep sleeper
to run the table and represent the league in New Orleans. It's not as
if Jim Tressel hasn't taken a less-than-perfect team well beyond
expectations in the past. Am I putting too much stock in recent wins
over Washington and Northwestern? Possibly, but I don't think so.
Beating the Huskies in Seattle created confidence for a young team that
had just struggled with Akron. Crushing Northwestern on Saturday
afternoon brought a little swagger, and sent a message to the rest of
the league. A serious work-in-progress just a month ago, the Buckeyes
are beginning to gel into a solid top 10 squad. Todd Boeckman has
embraced the role of starting quarterback, throwing six touchdown passes
to just one pick in the last two games, and finding a go-to guy in Brian
Robiskie. The defense has allowed only two touchdowns all year, and
ranks behind just LSU in total defense. And the special teams has been
up to Tressel's high standards. Although Ohio State is not in the same
league as this year's Big 4, USC, LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida, it is in
the next tier of schools, which is still an achievement for this team.
Get on board now before the Big Ten schedule really gets cranking. In a
few weeks, there may be no empty seats remaining.
An Inconsistent Truth
3. Okay, someone has to help me. There’s no rhyme or reason to
this college football season. None. Kentucky’s a football school.
Mississippi State and Illinois have better records than Louisville.
Syracuse…really?!? Notre Dame can’t score or win. Georgia can’t beat
South Carolina at home, but takes out Alabama on the road. Oklahoma
State lost to Troy on the road last weekend, but then yesterday
withstands 646 passing yards in beating an undefeated Texas Tech squad
49-45. Iowa State beats Iowa but has lost to two MAC teams and D1AA
Northern Iowa. Iowa then almost knocks off number seven ranked
Wisconsin in Madison, a Badger team that struggled with the Citadel,
from the Southern Conference. But, at least the Badgers won. The
Michigan Wolverines weren’t so lucky. They lost to their Southern
Conference foe Appalachian State in the Big House, but then beat number
ten ranked Penn State yesterday. Nebraska survives a late drop (which
would’ve been a sure game-winning TD) and a field goal miss to beat…Ball
State?!? As Marvin Gaye once said, what’s going on? I’m not sure I can
take it anymore. Even Duke won a game against Northwestern. Well, at
least the Blue Devils maintained expectations by blowing an eleven-point
lead in the fourth quarter in a loss to Navy. That’s about the only
thing that’s been consistent in this topsy turvy season, and it’s only
the Heisman Trophy were to be awarded this week, there would
be no shortage of candidates. The West Virginia duo is
outstanding. Darren McFadden is tough to beat. Colt Brennan
piles up the yards like crazy. Ray Rice. DeSean Jackson. All
worthy possibilities. But if you want to find the player who
is not only most valuable to his team but also perhaps the
most productive and reliable player in college football,
look no further than Michigan’s Mike Hart. With the
Wolverines reeling from an humiliating 0-2 start, Hart
guaranteed a win over Notre Dame (not exactly a Kreskin-worthy
forecast, given ND’s horrible team) and then backed it up
with a big performance. Last Saturday, with U-M trying to
get a good start in the Big Ten and playing against a
ferocious Penn State defense that ranked first in the nation
against the run, Hart carried the ball 44
times for 153 yards and a touchdown, helping Michigan
shorten the game and protect true freshman QB Ryan Mallett.
A lot can happen between now and early December, but Hart
has proven himself to be a standout so far.
Ball Spotting, Line Jumping
5. The SEC crew working the
Florida-Ole Miss game twice ruled false starts when, in fact, the
defensive line jumped to create movement. The SEC crew working the
(higher-profile) South Carolina-LSU game managed to correctly apply
this rule. Someone send a memo to the line judge who was working in
Oxford on Saturday: false starts, if they're caused by the defense,
aren't false starts.
As for ball spotting, two observations:
1) the spot that gave Penn State a fourth-down conversion at the
Michigan 24 in the third quarter of Saturday's game was nothing
short of atrocious. The ballcarrier had been stacked up in a pile,
his body motionless for a good 2-3 seconds. A very late lean came
well after the play ended.
2) Ball spots, when subjected to review, need to be given very
precise detail by the referees who mark the ball and by the coaches
(such as Steve Spurrier of South Carolina) who make
challenges before fourth-down chain measurements. If a coach has a
problem with a ball spot, he should make the mark on the field at
the spot where the play ended (and officials should allow him to
make the mark). When ball spots are reviewed, the challenge can then
be framed in sufficiently specific terms: the 31 1/4 yard line
versus the 31 1/2 yard line versus the 31 3/4 yard line. It's hard
for officials to review a play involving a ball spot--let alone
overturn it--when a few inches are in question. Coaches need to be
able to determine just how many inches are involved in a possibly
errant ball spot.