Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gholston Hyperventilating and Other Thoughts from the Weekend

Random thoughts from the weekend:

  • Shouldn't there be a rule that a player is automatically ejected when he commits two personal fouls? Or at least two late hit/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties? What does more damage to the image of the game: a punter holding the ball out as he scores a touchdown or this:

It just seems comical to me that coaches are apparently worried about bad sportsmanship in the form of taunting and not worried about bad sportsmanship in the form of intending to injure opponents, including one opponent who was utterly defenseless.  Or maybe the better explanation is that most coaches are concerned about sportsmanship and square-jawed, Bible-on-his-desk-so-he-must-be-a-moral-guy Mark Dantonio is not.  I like that latter answer.
  • Speaking of Michigan State's display on Saturday, the passive reaction of Michigan coaches in response to an avalanche of dirty play from their rivals was a major contrast to Todd Grantham's reaction in defense of his players on Saturday night.  After years of watching Bobby Cox develop loyalty from his players by getting ejected on their behalf, I am predisposed to like coaches who stand up for their players.  Grantham did that, as did James Franklin.  The substance of their defense doesn't matter so much as the message that is conveyed.  Dantonio continues to stand up for his players in a situation that is completely indefensible.  Meanwhile, Michigan continues with its ethos of "we're above petty disputes, like an opponent engaging in a campaign outside the rules to injure our star quarterback."  Lloyd Carr engaged in the same line of thinking when he did not campaign for Michigan to get a spot in the national title game in 2006.  Now, Brady Hoke is following in Carr's footsteps by saying nothing in defense of his players.
  • To the extent that bullets one and two contradict, I'll say two more things.  First, a coach generally needs to defend his players in public.  My concern with Dantonio is what he will apparently tolerate (or encourage?) from his players privately.  Second, I don't see Grantham and Franklin as defending obviously dirty play from their players.  There are certain acts that are beyond the pale for any coach to defend.  The LeGarrette Blount punch comes to mind.  Gholston's "jump on the pile late and twist your head" move is in the same category for me, although I will admit to some bias in the matter.
  • I saw Moneyball on Saturday night.  It's well worth your time.  It was also a useful tonic for me after the competition between Hoke and Dantonio for who could be the biggest puntasaur.  In that respect, those two would fit in nicely in Moneyball as the scouts who think that you can judge a player on whether he has an ugly girlfriend.  ("He lacks confidence!")  Between their attempts to give David Romer a heart attack, the offense-free zone that was Illinois-Ohio State, and Penn State gumming their way to another narrow, defensive win over a bad opponent, Saturday seemed like a nadir in terms of the Big Ten being behind the times.  Maybe this is what happens when you allow the state of coaching in the conference to slip so far that Brett Bielema is your answer to Nick Saban and Bob Stoops.  (And who the hell is the second-best coach in the conference?) 
  • Speaking of a worthwhile coach, it was a treat listening to Urban Meyer call the Michigan game.  He's great for anyone who likes analysis of what's going on on the field instead of schtick and storylines.  In other words, he's great for a minority of football fans.  We should enjoy him while he's around.
  • Al Groh's return to Charlottesville: 407 yards allowed at 6.2 yards per play.  (That pre-season prediction of UVA finishing second in their division is showing the slightest bit of spunk.)  John Chavis's return to Knoxville: 239 yards allowed and 4.9 yards per play.  
  • It's so quaint watching an underdog like Tennessee get all excited when they can keep up with LSU for a quarter, knowing that they have no prayer of moving the ball on the Tigers and the moment that LSU goes up by two scores, the game will degenerate into a rout.  It's like watching Real or Barca play a road match in La Liga.  The crowd is really into the match for the first 20 minutes or so as their team is flying into tackles and occasionally getting two players forward.  Then, the first goal goes in and everything falls apart.  
  • I will write more on this when I have the time, but Clemson doesn't belong with the other unbeaten national title contenders.  Their resume is impressive because they have played a tough schedule, but they are only outgaining their opponents by .7 yards per play.  That number is far lower than the other contenders and strength of schedule does not account for all of the gap.  Clemson gave up 45 points, 468 yards, and 5.6 yards per play to a Maryland team that couldn't move the ball on Temple or Georgia Tech.  The 45 points and 468 yards were out of character for Clemson, but the 5.6 yards per play was not.  This team does not have the defense to go unbeaten.  Then again, I said the same things about Auburn at this point last year.  Good fortune can take a team a long way.   

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I'm going to miss his charisma this year!! GO GREEN :)Amanda Vanderpool