Monday, September 04, 2006

Half-Assed Liveblogging (and interspersed thoughts on the weekend)

YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE...at the Embassy Suites in Orlando, where I just got to my room after not thinking through my flight plans and scheduling a flight during the Miami-Florida State game. Thankfully, I got to watch the first couple of drives on the flight because I was on Song (naturally, Delta is phasing Song out) and the loyal wife updated me in the cab ride over to the hotel. Her impressions: Miami is inept on offense, they managed to screw up on a punt with 12 men on the field, half the crowd is rooting for FSU, and Miami's band is either inaudible on not at the game. We then started devising a Miami-FSU drinking game, based on punts, turnovers, personal fouls, beleaguered expressions from offensive coordinators, aimless fly routes down the sidelines, and offensive tackles waving at defensive ends like torreros.

Naturally, when we got off the phone and I checked the score on my phone ten minutes later while grooving to "Careless Whisper" in the cab, Miami was en route to a touchdown. My wife's timing is as good as mine.

9:29 p.m. - Kyle Wright does not need to be taking hits like that.

9:35 p.m. - Holly Rowe to Edgerrin James: "All offseason, people have been saying that Miami has lost its swagger. What do you think?" File that one away under "questions that have only one possible answer." Where are sideline reporters all taught to ask obvious questions?

9:38 - Bobby Bowden finishes scribbling his no doubt helpful notes before his halftime speech. Suggested content: "Fire Jeff. Tell wife that it's never too late to start tough love approach. See what Mickey knows about offense." He then tells Holly Rowe that his team couldn't block in the first half and Rowe, completely unable to diverge from her script, then asks what else can be done to improve the running game. Other than your husband getting shot, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Speaking of the Civil War, I decided this weekend that in a prior life, Lloyd Carr was General George McClellan. McClellan's generalship was most noted for timidity in the face of opportunity. McClellan had more troops than anyone else in the field, but he made decisions based on fear and was always convinced that the enemy had twice as many troops as they actually did. Carr has better talent than just about any of the opponents on Michigan's schedule, but he too coaches by fear of what can go wrong, rather than taking the initiative and imposing his will on the opponent. If McClellan coached a college football team, he would surely be terrified of letting his quarterback throw over the middle more than five yards down the field because he would worry that opposing linebackers and safeties are 17 feet tall and have tractor beams in their lungs. If Carr was in charge of the Army of the Potomac, he would have prosecuted the Peninsula Campaign with the same glacial speed, no doubt figuring "I'm in Virginia, so that means I'm leading. There's no reason to take any risks."


Would have seen great merit in punting from a field goal formation.

If Carr truly is McClellan, then that means that Bill Martin will get to play the Abe Lincoln role by firing Carr and hiring Bobby Petrino as UM's U.S. Grant. Carr will then run for athletic director against Martin on a "make peace with Ohio State" platform and will be doing well until Petrino takes Atlanta and all is right with the world.

And we're back.

10:05 - The decision to cut 15-20 plays off of college games while keeping the 20-minute halftime ranks right up there with Mark David Chapman's decision to unload six shots into John Lennon and not sparing one of them for Yoko.

10:08 - I liked The Guardian the first time I saw it...when it was called Top Gun. (Hat tip: Der Wife.) Somehow, Navy pilots learning to fight the Commies is a more promising premise than Coast Guard...special ops (?) saving freighters in the North Atlantic, but that may be me.

10:09 - Bernie Kosar looks good.

10:12 - Paging Michael Powell, the Miami fans aren't really singing along with the Tomahawk Chop.

10:17 - Mike Patrick obliquely brings up a good point: what ever happened to the Bobby Bowden trick plays? They were one of the defining characteristics of the rise of FSU to superpower status in the late 80s.

10:23 - The jokes about the mistakes and lack offense aside, there's something incredibly satisfying about an elemental struggle like this. There is no rivalry that features better hitting.

10:28 - "De'Cody Fagg kept his eye on the ball." As Axl Rose sang, it's so f***ing easy.

10:32 - Just as I was going to make a "poor Lorenzo Booker" remark, he gets free on a swing pass. It's a testament to these defense that they are dominating offenses that are full of athletes like that.

10:45 - I'm pretty confident right now that Kyle Wright is a better quarterback than Drew Weatherford, but Florida State has better skill position players. That last touchdown drive was essentially a jump ball and a swing pass on which FSU's players made terrific athletic plays.

10:48 - Is it just me, or have the refs turned into Stanley Cup Playoff refs in overtime and swallowed their whistles. Roughing the punter is now apparently legal in the ACC, not unlike roughing the passer was in 1996.

Phone conversation with wife ensues. She does not like Holly Rowe's outfit or the hula skirts of the Miami cheerleaders. She also offers a detailed critique of Cory Niblock's blocking technique.

11:12 - Florida State's offense has been reduced to jump balls exclusively. Remember when this offense was, you know, good? Chris Rix is sitting somewhere right now, nodding with a smile and saying "and now you see." Jeff Bowden should get a bunch of blame, but there's only so much that one can call when assuming that two of four rushing defensive linemen are going to beat their blockers and eat the quarterback. And in Fredo's further defense, the designed roll and short pass to Antone Smith to set up the go-ahead field goal was a clever call.

11:17 - This game has, by far, the highest ratio of "running backs hurled to the ground" to total running plays.

11:22 - Dare we posit that Louisville and West Virginia are at least as good as Miami and Florida State (probably not because their defenses are roughly equivalent to these offenses), that Rutgers won at North Carolina and Pitt buried Virginia, and therefore that the Big East is as good or better than the ACC?

11:25 - And Florida State ends the game, fittingly, with a four-man rush that generates direct pressure on Kyle Wright as Miami is completely unable to handle the stunt and Kyle Wright is forced into a quick throw that is picked off.

And while we're at it, a few snap judgments on college football from this weekend:

I'm not feeling good about that pick of Georgia to win the SEC. Manufacturing Joe Tereshinski into a David Greene or D.J. Shockley is apparently not so easily done. I am, however, feeling good about that pick of USC at #1. I guess it's not that hard to reload when every one of your recent recruiting classes were ranked in the top three on Signing Day. John David Booty is very accurate. Apparently, Evangel Christian products aren't inevitably doomed to failure.

I've never been much of a Vol fan, but watching Tennessee absolutely bury Cal on Saturday led me to have a sh**-eating grin for three-and-a-half hours that one of the "Gang of Six" was unable to cross midfield against an SEC defense while a backwards, retrograde SEC offense moved the ball at will against Cal. Not surprisingly, Heismanpundit, imitating George Bush by ignoring facts on the ground when they contradict his presupposed worldview, has excused Cal's performance because they opened on the road. Uh, I don't recall him making excuses for Tennessee last year when they struggled on the road against Florida, LSU, and Notre Dame. Or Arkansas last year when they laid an egg in the Coliseum. (Wasn't that supposed to be proof that SEC defenses weren't very good?) And should we ignore the fact that Tennessee is going to Cal next year?

He also chases windmills by vaguely complaining that the media is unfair in making Cal a poster child for the Pac Ten, but helpfully, he has created a straw man without links. HP, no one ever criticizes the SEC? Maybe you missed this or this. The irony is that HP whines about the media falling back into the "Pac Ten teams are soft and don't play defense" stereotype...and responds by delving into the "SEC teams don't play anyone" stereotype by defending Cal as having the guts to play on the road, unlike others (read: SEC teams). And finally, please note that HP creates a strawman in media criticism of the Pac Ten to deflect from the fact that his theory that sophisticated West Coast schemes would be too much for athletic, but ineptly-coached SEC teams (save for, uh, Florida and their high-powered offense?) was first ripped to shreds in the 2005 Boise State-Georgia game (speaking of which, how did Dan Hawkins' unsolvable offensive juggernaut fare in game one in Boulder?) and then again in the 2006 Tennessee-Cal game.


Delightfully oblivious.

8 comments:

Chg said...

I took much delight in watching the sophisticated "Whiz! Bang! Punt!" PAC-10 offenses against the po' ignorant SEC this weekend.

peacedog said...

HP making strawmen? I'm shocked.

LD said...

HL Mencken deserves better.

And while I'm by no no no means an apologist, I actually think HP isn't entirely wrong here, though. His point, I think, is that writers shouldn't jump to too many conclusions based upon just the Cal-UT game - and I think that's correct, even though he would likely (and does) jump to conclusions based upon a single game. The thing is that nobody knows anything this early in the season. Cal could end up 5-6 and UT could end up 11-1. What looks like a big win today could be considered not even a decent win in two months. We might've learned some things about particular aspects about teams or personnel. Honestly, though, we don't know much about any teams - because we only have preconceived notions about how good teams might be, and those could be way off.

Cal looked bad and UT looked good. But that appearance is only in comparison to what the consensus of people thought beforehand. And it's just a single game. So it really shouldn't say all that much about the relative merits of the SEC and Pac-10. No more than the Auburn-WSU or USC-Arkansas games. Three months from now we can look back and see what we can compare out between these two conferences (i.e., if Cal does end up second the Pac-10 and UT goes 5-6 we might know that the Pac-10 is top heavy), but now, not so much.

Naturally, I don't think HP stated things very well, and made excuses which were unnecessary. He should've relied on an "incomplete information" argument instead.

peacedog said...

ld, you've just stated another reason I loathe preseason polling. The poles help reinforce the preception that one team is good, another bad, a third some amount better than a fourth. Of course, we can't know any such thing, and the first week of games will only provide us a modest step towards that kind of understanding.

Michael said...

LD, you're absolutely right. We'll only know how good Cal is once they've played some Pac Ten games. That said, HP's premise is that their scheme is so good that it can overcome superior talent. Cal returned a number of starters this year on offense, so the talent excuse doesn't work. This is two straight years that a scheme team met a talent team, HP projected doom for the talent team, and the scheme team got clobbered.

Orson Swindle said...

Was that 1996 remark for me? I'll pretend like it was and love you for it. Fuckers nearly retarded my poor Danny.

Michael said...

It was actually for me. I liked that '96 Florida team a lot and was very annoyed when Florida State beat them with an "impale Wuerrfel" strategy. I was also annoyed that Spurrier didn't use the shotgun in that game, but that's a different matter. His press conference showing the lateness of the hits, though, was priceless.

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