Let’s get right to it, but along the way we must remember….isn’t a 30-0 win EXACTLY what we wanted to see?
Pryor to continue improvement – Incomplete grade, because the rain changed the gameplan too much to properly give Pryor any real opportunity to show improvement.
Two-parter – Subtitled “Fix the reasons we lost in 2007″
Part One – Do NOT allow Illinois to convert on 3rd-and-long – The game didn’t start off well on this point, allowing a 3rd-and-11 conversion and a 3rd-and-6 conversion in the first quarter. But when the Bucks started to take the game over, Illinois found themselves getting shut down on anything bigger than a 3rd-and-3. I’ll give them a thumbs-up for their performance here.
Part Two – Competent officiating, please! - After what we saw at the end of the Michigan game, anything short of a ref stabbing Jim Tressel with an icepick would have been considered adequate officiating.
Juice on his back- Oh, yes I think that we can call this one in our favor. Juice wasn’t all Tebowed-out on the turf, but he was down enough to keep his head out of the game.
More of the same - Defensively, it was exactly what we called for. Another shutout. Success!!!
No false starts - One. Thats still one too many. The good news was that our lone false start came in the 4th quarter when the game was well out of reach.
Return of Gidorah, squared - Receiving yards were down (the driving rain had everything to do with that), but the rushing yards were a nice sight. Three rushers with more than 5 yards per carry, all of them over 50 yards, I’ll take it. A triple-headed beast of rushers will win a lot of games.
Establish the run game –See the above. Watching Saine crack off 9 yards per carry in the first half was what broke the game open, and it may have given him top spot in the depth chart for Indiana.
Our line needs to move people off the ball – Victory! Your team doesn’t average 5.1 yards per carry without some serious O-Line domination. Pryor was sacked only once all day, too.
Limit making dumb decisions, Pryor – Again, there’s no way to verify his success or failure in this quest. Try again during a better-weather game like this Saturday at Indiana. Or maybe not, because the forecast calls for 30% chance of showers. Hey, at least we know we can run in the rain!
Make Juice Williams one dimensional – After watching the game a second time, I’m pretty sure that Juice Williams was rendered less-than-one dimensional. Is zero-dimensional possible? Yes, yes it is
Juice Williams accounts for less than 200 yards of offense - Hell to the yeah. Juice was held to a meager 95 yards of offense. He had only been held to less than 200 once in his career before Saturday.
At least 4 sacks from our D-Line – Ask for four, ye shall get four.
The Broken Record: Continue to throw to the TE’s and RB’s -Again, we didn’t throw it much in the rain…but three of the 13 passes did go to the TE/RB positions. So can we call that a success?
Bonus: The Game – Did ya see enough of it, Eric????
Here’s this week’s soundtrack/music to piss off the people in the cubicle next to you.
Every season, there’s one or two weeks that just screw up everything. From the Vegas lines, to the “pundit’s choices”, to alumni plans for Bowl Game Tailgating, and even the coaching hot seats get impacted by what actually manifests on the fields of play.
Welcome to that week. Be it the weather, the injuries, the flu, whatever- some astounding and amazing stuff happened over the past few days.
The top teams all continue to cruise along, with the exception of Florida who lost their Heisman Trophy fullback that throws the ball to one of the poorest pieces of blocking I’ve ever seen:
Up 31-7 late in the third quarter, you have to wonder why Tebow (who also suffered with the flu all week) was even in the game. Sure, the Gators won, but at what cost? At least they’re not Baylor, who lost their all-amazing QB to injury on Saturday.
Alabama and Texas rolled, so there’s really nothing to talk about there. But number 4 Mississippi either completely spit the bit against the Old Ball Coach (emphasis on “old”, as in “formerly good”), or revealed that their ranking was based on the smoke and mirrors of a bowl win against a not very good TTU team.
Then, number 5 State Penn went down against Iowa for the second straight year. This time, at home in a game characterized by sloppy fourth quarter play:
The six possessions that PSU had in the second half included 4 turnovers, a blocked punt, and a blown field goal. What did we learn in unHappy Valley? Either 1) Scheduling cupcakes may not be a healthy diet, 2) The Hawkeyes have got the Lions figured out, 3) PSU might want to rethink the whole “white out” idea, since it’s not a guarantee and may add more pressure, 4) If you decide to go to the “white out” in a costume, be prepared to look like an idiot on national tv….
Rolling right along, number 6 Cal got absolutely worked by the Oregon Knights. As one Cal fan said to me on Saturday- “looks like we started our late season collapse a bit early… you know, to get it out of the way.” Good thinking, that. What’s ironic is that for once, the Ducks didn’t have the ugliest uniforms in the Pacific Northwet. Perhaps they should stick with the classic look; and perhaps the Seahawks should fire whoever came up with those monstrosities. Fire them with real fire.
Number seven LSU needed a late game goal-line stand to hold off Mississippi State, and number 8 Boise State cruised. Number nine Miami dropped an ACC tilt against Virginia Tech- I guess discussions of their resurgence were a bit premature, no? Number ten was idle, and we’ve covered number 11 VaTach. U$C took vengeance on all things Washington by pounding the ‘Cougs. We’ll get to lucky number 13 in a bit- fourteenth ranked Cincinnati and fifteenth ranked TCU both squeaked by their unranked opponents. Number sixteen TBPU destroyed the school of one of my favorite coaches, while Houston earned their number seventeen ranking with a win over Texas Tech (great coaching hire). Elsewheres in the top 25, Georgia held off unranked Arizona State in Tempe and North Carolina fell to Georgia Tech. Florida State… well, they’re Florida State.
Other “interesting” games- Notre Ame needed to rally to beat Purdue (!), Washington proved that it couldn’t keep the momentum going by dropping to Stanford, and Mich1gAAn needed some serious home cooking from the officials to ensure a victory over Indiana.
You read that right, the Hoosiers almost beat TTUN in Ann Arbor. I really hope their QB can hold up until November.
Soo… let’s talk a bit about the number 300. Saturday marked the three hundreth consecutive sell out at Nebraska, a feat that dates back to 1962. That’s a ton of games, as the Sullivans can attest. The Huskers/Bugeaters celebrated with cool throwback uniforms and by beating the andouille out of the Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette. Best quote about the streak? “Congratulations, Nebraska fans, for preserving the lone streak Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan couldn’t destroy” Here’s to 300 more, Husker fans.
But that wasn’t the only 300 on Saturday- Ohio State’s Jim Tressel marked his 300th game as the Buckeyes squared off against the Fighting (kinda’) Zooks of Illinois, in the battle for the ugly turtle. Tressel entered the game 220-77-2 and left the game 221-77-2, after #13 Ohio State handed a 30-0 (300?) beating to the Illini. It was a game that saw a bit of everything- a tribute to Woody (0 passing yards in the first half), going for it on fourth and goal (late in the game, too…), and defensive lineman Doug Worthington attempting to fly. Major kudos for anyone who can send me video of the leap of doom. UPDATE- BuckeyeSki from Eleven Warriors with the assist! Thanks man-
Coming this week: Conference games continue, as LSU and Georgia kick off the SEC in earnest. Cal tries to rebound against U$C, and Indiana hosts the Buckeyes. The first annual “nicknames that make me giggle” game as Mich1gAAn and MAChigan State square off.
“It’s Ty Willingham’s Fault”- Washington travels to Notre Ame. War Tiger rolls into Rocky Top, and OU heads to the sunny beaches of Miami. Illinois hosts Penn State, Nebraska is off, and TCU welcomes SMU.
And here’s a friendly video from the Mich1gAAn Department of Tourism:
Back Thursday with a visit from June Cleaver’s favorite neighbor.
Apparently I’m just going to write about the Trojans for the next several weeks. I promise I’m not overlooking the oh-so-dangerous-triple-option Navy team, but bear with me while I get my preseason jitters out of the way. After that I’ll start taking the required shots at “Jake Locker East” (read: Tim “I’m a virgin” Tebow) and that conference that we don’t like to talk about but makes every sports journalist get a chubby. Am I allowed to say chubby?
I’m sure, given the fact that USC is coming to town, a lot of attention is being placed upon what exactly the Buckeyes are going to need to be able to do in order to beat them. Every top-of-the-line school has been trying to figure out exactly that since 2003. Well, I may not have the answer, but I might have a place to start looking.
Obviously, we all know how well Pete Carroll has been recruiting while at USC. Since 2002, the lowest ranked recruiting class USC has pulled in was ranked 12th in the nation, which occurred in 2002 (via Scout). While their recruiting classes haven’t been comparatively spectacular of late (2008: 9th, 2009: 9th – compare to 2003, 2004, 2006: 1st) they did have the second best recruiting class in 2007. For comparison, in this same period OSU has gone 16th in 2007, 4th in 2008 and 1st in 2009.
However, we all know from the 2002 season that, while player talent is very important, it isn’t the whole story; just as important for the win is having a solid game-plan. So, in lieu of this, I present an exclusive look into the defensive mindset of one Pete Carroll from the mouth of…Pete Carroll. Yes, in fact you are looking at the transcript from a talk given by Pete Carroll on the subject of his defensive philosophy.(1) Several things stand out:
1) This is a defense designed to be played with the least amount of necessary thought. As Carroll himself says,
“In principle we want to give our players a chance to know exactly what they have to defend. We also want to give them an attitude in which to do that. We want to be an attacking, aggressive football team. We don’t want to sit and read the play like you often have to with “two-gap” principles of play. We want to attack into the gap at the snap, get off the ball to play on their side of the field and get after the quarterback. “
Every single player has an assignment, and if they carry it out correctly it will result in good things for the defense. While this is true for all defenses, the fact that this is designed to be an almost “plug and play” defensive set makes it particularly dangerous. Each player knows the one or two things he is responsible for in each play call and simply has to act based upon what the offense shows them.
2) On the other hand, however, it has a weakness. Each player must know and play his assignment perfectly,
“The big problem with any “one-gap” approach however is that it allows a ball carrier to get into the secondary if one guy makes a mistake. No matter how aggressive the defense is there is a great amount of discipline that goes with this defense. You have to be very strict about your positioning and the placement of your players. You have to have the ability to maintain relative spacing between your players.”
Having a player out of position, or miss an assignment, would be devastating to this defense. However, you would need either luck, or the ability to know all the defensive assignments and positions to be able to take advantage of a mistake by the defense.
3) Any changes to the defense by offensive personnel changes can be made by the players on the field with little to no interaction with the coaching staff. This allows for a very fast reacting, fluid defense that can respond to a wide variety of challenges presented by the offense. This can even be done on the fly in silence with no audible in the case the offense audibles itself.
4) This explains very easily why elite-level teams struggle so much against USC, while the mid-range teams in the Pac-10 manage to trip them up once every year. Quite simply, the defensive players have to be at the top of their game mentally every single play and every single game. We all know that it’s easy to get to that level of play for the big games, but much more difficult for the lower-quality opponent.
Now, clearly this says nothing about USC’s offense, which is spectacular in it’s own right. But, as 2002 also taught us, a very solid defense can win games with nothing better than an above-average offense. And, obviously, you can’t beat a team unless you can at least partially tame its defense.
Terrelle Pryor and company must be able to deal with the threat that this defense poses against them. In order to do that, I believe that they are going to have to do a bit more growing from what we saw at the end of last season in order to be able to take care of business. Can they do it with such young, but talented, skill players? I believe they can, but they’re definitely going to have their work cut out for them.
(1) Special thanks to my good friend Steve for pointing this article out to me.
No, we’re not planning to drive down to Florida and beat up Ralph Decker. Despite the heavy traffic coming from EDSBS and others who claim The BBC is on a mission to hunt him down, we’ve actually made it clear that we want the law (and not vigilante justice) to prevail…and we have refused to post any private information, even deleting his address when it popped up in the comments.
No, instead we’re planning a road trip up North. TSUN, to be exact. A full weekend of football.
Can you taste it now? Road trip to Michigan, third week of November. All are welcome, into the light. Allllll are welcome.
I’m thinking by then, the Buckeyes will be looking to secure another BCS bid, Michigan will be wondering if Lllllloyd Carr is still available, and the Browns and Lions will be playing to lose and be declared the winner of the next NFL Draft, otherwise known as “Tebow-Bowl 2010″
Hell, if I’m feeling a little spry, I might even extend the weekend. Go up to Windsor, Ontario for a couple days of blackjack, come back down to Auburn Hills on Wednesday, November 25th to see the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Pistons.