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11 Sep 2006

Confessions of a Football Junkie: What We've Learned

by Russell Levine

Unlike 2005, when Texas and USC went wire-to-wire atop the polls before meeting in the national championship game, this college football season appears to be shrouded in mystery. Six teams garnered at least one first-place vote in the preseason AP poll, suggesting the 2006 national-title race would be a wide-open one.

But thanks to a strong early slate of non-conference games and some early conference tilts, some of the fog of uncertainty surrounding this season has been lifted. The national picture is sure to become even clearer next Saturday, with seven scheduled games between ranked teams.

The front blowing in from Austin, Texas, that was largely responsible for lifting that fog was Ohio State's 24–7 thrashing of defending national champion Texas on the Longhorns' home field Saturday evening. The first regular-season meeting in 10 years between the top two teams in the AP poll turned out to be no contest as top-ranked Ohio State showed that its quarterback, Troy Smith, is every bit as much a Heisman contender as Notre Dame's Brady Quinn. The Buckeyes also emphatically answered some questions about their defense, a concern since the unit was breaking in nine new starters from last season.

Ohio State's defensive white-washing of Texas also answered a question or two for the Longhorns, namely that redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy will take some time to develop into an adequate replacement for Vince Young.

It was Young who bailed out Texas in numerous big games the last two seasons, including back-to-back Rose Bowls. At this point in his career -- that is, after two starts -- McCoy is simply not yet up to the task. His play against Ohio State was not the reason for the loss, nor was it good enough to lift the Longhorns to a win. But all is not lost for Texas, still the Big 12 favorite. A win over Oklahoma in Dallas on October 7 would pave the way for another trip to the conference championship game, where the Longhorns should have a decided edge over the best the North Division has to offer (likely Nebraska).

Because Texas's loss came early -- and to a top opponent -- the Longhorns will be in excellent position to slip back into contention for a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game should there be only one defeated major-conference team at season's end.

If there is only one team with a zero in the loss column come the first weekend in December, the smart money might be on the Buckeyes. Ohio State has three games remaining against teams that are currently ranked, but two of them -- home vs. Penn State and at Iowa on Sept. 23 and 30, respectively -- look a lot less menacing after this past weekend's results. Penn State was throttled by Notre Dame, while Iowa only survived a trip to Syracuse thanks to a goal-line stand for the ages (or some inept play-calling, depending on your perspective). Granted, the Hawkeyes were without standout quarterback Drew Tate, but should still have been able to muster a better effort against one of the worst BCS-conference teams in America. After those two games, it's smooth sailing for Ohio State until the November 19 grudge match with Michigan, which takes place in Columbus.

The optimism surrounding Notre Dame's national title hopes appears to be more than preseason hype, although to the astute observer there are still some questions about the defense. Despite allowing just 27 points in games against Georgia Tech and Penn State, the Irish have shown plenty liabilities on defense. They were unable to contain Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson -- which hardly puts Notre Dame in exclusive company, it should be noted -- and allowed 7.5 yards per rushing attempt in the first half to a Penn State running game that struggled to move the ball on the ground against Akron.

We've also seen Notre Dame that is well-coached and opportunistic, with big-play producers on both sides of the ball. The Irish have dominated after halftime in both of their games, a nod to coach Charlie Weis's abilities. We also know this about Notre Dame: In most games, it will have the best player on the field in Quinn. He had some rough moments in the Georgia Tech game, but was masterful against Penn State.

If Notre Dame beats Michigan at home this week, then gets past its nemesis Michigan State the following Saturday, the Irish should be 11–0 heading to USC on November 25. There's a good chance USC could also be undefeated entering that contest. Though they've played just once, the Trojans showed little drop-off from losing a pair of Heisman Trophy winners in a 50–14 destruction of Arkansas, and all their toughest games are at home.

Though title paths already are emerging in the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-10, and for Notre Dame, things will only become clearer in the ACC, the Big East, and the SEC in the coming weeks. The SEC in particular will begin to sort itself out after a pair of key conference games this week. The winners of Florida-Tennessee and LSU-Auburn will have legs up in the conference's East and West divisions, respectively. The ACC picture is probably the most muddled; Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Boston College could be considered contenders for the title. The Big East likely won't take shape until West Virginia faces Louisville November 2, unless Rutgers forces its way into the conversation.

The Scarlet Knights, coming off a breakthrough bowl season, are off to a 2–0 start with wins over a pair of BCS-conference teams, including a 33–0 destruction of Illinois this week. Suddenly, Rutgers is staring at six straight winnable games -- the toughest contest in that stretch is a trip to Pittsburgh -- before facing Louisville on November 9. Though there still appears to be a significant gap between Greg Schiano's club and the Big East heavyweights, confidence has a way of snowballing for up-and-coming teams. An 8–0 Rutgers team would have a more than decent shot against Louisville.

Replay This

This just in -- the NCAA has royally messed up its instant replay system by adding a coaches' challenge while still maintaining its official stance that "every play is reviewed." If every play is truly reviewed, why would a coach need to challenge a play? Since the replay official reviews every play, surely anything that would be close enough for a challenge would be reviewed anyway, right?

Unfortunately, saying that every play is reviewed has about as much credibility as anything that came from Baghdad Bob during the invasion of Iraq. The statement gets more ludicrous by the week. Latest egregious example of failure to use replay: Michigan's Max Pollock scored an apparent touchdown on an interception in the fourth quarter against Central Michigan. Only he didn't. First look at the replay revealed he most likely fumbled before crossing the goal line. Perhaps there was no definitive angle, but there's no question the game should have been stopped for a review. Michigan didn't particularly rush to attempt the extra point. Central Michigan coach Brian Kelly, perhaps wanting to save his timeouts, opted not to challenge.

If the college system can't stop the game to review that play, there's no point in having a system so obviously flawed. The NCAA needs to either scrap replay altogether or put the decision in the coaches' hands entirely, except for the final minutes of each half.

John L. Smith Trophy

Much to my disappointment, CMU's Kelly didn't do anything to wacky against Michigan other than a few rugby punt formations that had the center on the end of the line. I'm not sure why college coaches feel the need to tinker with punt formations. The traditional one has worked pretty well for eight or nine decades.

No, we have to go elsewhere for the JLS Trophy this week. And the winner is UTEP's Mike Price. Though Price surely has made worse decisions in his life, electing to go for two while trailing, 17-12, at the end of the first half against Texas Tech was moronic. The Miners failed to convert, and ended up chasing that missing point the entire second half. They failed on a subsequent two-pointer, and ended up losing in OT. Coaches, remember, that little two-point cheat sheet you carry should not be consulted until the fourth quarter!

A tip of the JLS Trophy cap must go to San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan this week for displaying the rare acumen to understand how time remaining affects your decisions. Trailing by 10 points and out of timeouts in the final minute against Arizona, Nolan elected to kick a field goal on first down as soon as his team got in range. When the 49ers recovered the ensuing onsides kick, they suddenly had a chance to win. It's simple math, but coaches routinely blow this situation, chasing the touchdown even when trailing by 10 or 11 points in the final minutes. Mike Holmgren butchered this sequence in last year's Super Bowl.

BlogPoll Ballot

This season, I'll again be voting in the BlogPoll, hosted by MGoBlog. I'll post my ballot in Junkie each week. Feel free to comment -- my rankings may change based upon your suggestions.

Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State --
2 Auburn --
3 Southern Cal 1
4 Notre
Dame
3
5 Louisiana
State
1
6 West
Virginia
1
7 Florida 1
8 Texas 5
9 Louisville --
10 Georgia 2
11 Virginia
Tech
2
12 Oregon 2
13 Michigan 3
14 Oklahoma 3
15 Florida
State
5
16 Miami
(Florida)
3
17 Tennessee 4
18 Nebraska 2
19 UCLA 3
20 TCU 4
21 Texas
Tech
2
22 Boston
College
4
23 Clemson 12
24 Cal 1
25 Rutgers 1

Dropped
Out:
Iowa (#15), Penn State (#18).

Portions of this article appeared in Monday's New York Sun.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 11 Sep 2006

29 comments, Last at 13 Sep 2006, 8:11pm by BillWallace

Comments

1
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 7:34pm

Agreed on Mike Price. When I checked the box as I saw the game to go OT, I couldn't believe that he did that so many times, and so often. I guess it's good he ended up in UTEP, because if he'd done that in the Iron Bowl, he'd have 24 hours to leave town.

2
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 7:56pm

If the current punting formation has been around that long, maybe someone ought to be changing it ... the CFL-style punt (at least that's what the announcers mentioned) worked out pretty well for the Chippewas: a 44.2 net, with 3 kicks downed inside the 20.

Between the new replay system and the timing shenanigans, it's almost as if someone spiked the water at NCAA headquarters. Funny, we haven't had problems with the White River in years ...

I think it's time for the Big Ten to start making overtures to West Virginia. Ohio State could use some company at the top, as much as it pains me to say that. The other bowl-contending teams haven't looked that good so far, and the non-contending teams have been somewhere between flat-out awful and embarrassing.

3
by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 8:01pm

How can Greg Robinson at Syracuse not get an Honorable Mention for the JLS? Eight plays inside the five, seven of them dives up the middle? If that ain't bad enough I don't know what is.

4
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 8:09pm

"Michigan’s tktk scored an apparent touchdown on an interception in the fourth quarter (CHECK) against Central Michigan. "

Um...

5
by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 8:29pm

I think Trent Green started his slide very late.

6
by Russell Levine :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 10:34pm

Re: 4

Sorry about that -- so copy from an early version snuck in there. It has been fixed.

7
by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:12pm

2: I don't think the Big 10 will look at WVa, for the simple reason that the Big 10 has usually mentioned (IIRC) that any school needs to fit in academically in the conference as well as athletically. The schools they have looked at bear that out: while PSU did, and Notre Dame does, as did Texas when there was some talk of that when the SWC disbanded, WVa does not have near the reputation that the Big 10 schools have as academic institutions.

I'm not saying it's a good reason, but I'm pretty sure it's one they've mentioned before. The better candidate should they want to think about it is actually Pitt, who wants badly to have a rivalry with PSU (who could care less about Pitt right now), and has the academic standing and decent athletics with their good basketball team and having all the pieces in place for football (sorry, as a Bears fan I can't say that with a straight face, God bless Wanny).

8
by Russell Levine :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:24am

BB, I'm with you that Pitt makes the most sense for the Big Ten if it ever adds a 12th team. It would help the conference strengthen its ties to talent-rich Pennsylvania, which helps all the schools recruit there, not just Penn State and Pitt.

It's been 13 years since Penn State joined, so the Big Ten is clearly not in a rush. I still think they're holding out for Notre Dame or nobody, but the best chance for that to happen probablly came and went a few years ago.

9
by witless chum (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:33am

The Big 10 (I see you hidey 11) needs to change the name.

Or kick out Indiana. I don't care which.

Question, is Coach Smith eligible to win his own award? I ask in trepidation of the week's ahead. Losing to Michigan irks any Spartan fan deeply. Losing to Michigan when they were clearly outplayed and couldn't hold a lead in the second half trebles the irk.

10
by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 3:02am

Re the Punt Formation:
Florida last year switched to a new punt formation called "The Shield" that's apparently starting to become a very trendy new look around college football. I have to say, I really like it so far.

The basic premise is as follows- in a traditional punt formation, there are a lot of different and difficult responsibilities. It frequently takes a lot of time to teach all of the different responsibilities to players who were likely stars at high school who didn't often play special teams. When someone gets injured, subbing someone else in for him can sometimes be problematic. Most importantly, though... with a standard special teams formation, only two people (the gunners) are racing downfield right away, which means you have fewer guys available to stop big returns.

The shield is a very simple concept. You have 7 guys right at the LoS. Where they are doesn't really matter. About 5-7 yards behind them, you have three of your biggest blockers (typically 3 OLs). This is "the shield". Several more yards behind them, you have the punter. The ball is snapped directly to the punter, and as soon as it's snapped, all 7 players on the LoS race downfield and cover the punt. The three players in "the shield" are wholly responsible for protecting the punter. It looks absolutely TERRIFYING the first several times you see it executed (you'll see 7 defenders rushing 3 linemen and be certain that they're going to block the kick), but actually, when it's executed properly, it's not that big of a risk- historically, punts don't get blocked out of The Shield at a higher rate than they do out of standard punting formation. It just looks like they're going to a whole lot.

The Shield is not only very quick and easy (which means less practice time is devoted to teaching the players their responsibilities, which is a big deal in college when practice time is so limited), but it's also devastating against the stud returners in college, like the Devin Hesters of the world. Florida faces a lot of ridiculous returners in the SEC, and there's nothing like having 7 players screaming downfield in punt coverage to get those daredevils to start calling fair catch.

11
by T. Owens (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 4:59am

I also hope that with The Shield, Vic Mackey beats up a few suspects at The Barn and steals the Armenian mob's drug money.

12
by J.D. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:05am

"The Shield" is one punt formation that could be more effective than a standard punt formation. But the rugby/CFL punt, if executed properly, is even better (punter takes snap, rolls out to right, and kicks a low, bouncing punt). As an ex-football and rugby player, I have seen kick after kick in rugby games that maybe went 25 yards in the air, yet because of the low trajectory, bounced for another 25 and were practically impossible to catch. Not only that, but the rollout allows time for the gunners to get down field in plenty of time to stop any return.

I feel like conventional dogma gets too popular in major sports to try new strategies quickly, even after they have proven themselves successful. For instance, the run-and-shoot was invented in the early 60s, but it took until the mid-80s until any pro team tried it out...

13
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:04am

The Shield formation wouldn't work in the NFL, because only the gunners are allowed beyond the LOS before the ball is kicked. See the first question in the 11/4/03 Jerry Markbreit column linked in my name.

14
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:07am

... But there's no ineligible lineman downfield on punt plays in college (or HS) (see link under my name in this comment), which is why Florida is allowed to do it.

15
by James G (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:39am

10 - I hate that formation. I saw it in a Arizona-Washington (that's college football) game a few years ago when both teams were bad, and it led to bad results for the punting team, which in that case, was Arizona, although they did win the game.

16
by buddha (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:33pm

"BB, I’m with you that Pitt makes the most sense for the Big Ten if it ever adds a 12th team. It would help the conference strengthen its ties to talent-rich Pennsylvania, which helps all the schools recruit there, not just Penn State and Pitt."

I like the idea of Pitt in the Big Ten too and, if they can't get Notre Dame, it makes the most sense geographically and rivalry-wise (do we really need the made up Penn St.-MSU "land grant trophy" rivalry?).

However, the Big Ten already controls the Pittsburgh TV market through Penn State. In that way, a school like Missouri makes sense. Get into that St. Louis market away from the Big 12.

17
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:39pm

Speaking of unconventional wisdom, doesn't Bill Krasker's dynamic programming model suggest that teams should go for two at times including lat in the 2nd quarter when down by odd amounts? Also, in college, when extra points are far from automatic, going for two is inherently less risky than it is in the NFL.

18
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:19pm

I'm not familiar with Krasker's model, but, while the odds are slightly less stark in college (see link), kicking the PAT still yields a higher point EV. Given the vagaries of play, I have a very hard time seeing why a team with a semi-competent kicker, snapper, and holder should ever go for 2 before the fourth quarter.

19
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:26pm

#17: But on the flip side, going for two in college presents the risk (presumably greater than during a kick?) that the opposition will score two points (or very rarely, one point), so that might balance the risks a bit.

#9: Agree on changing the name, except that the good ones have been taken. IndiaNa, hOweveR, isn'T tHe WeakEST school in thE confeReNce. Even if they aren't bringing much to the table in football, they're doing more than their share in sports like swimming and soccer.

12th team: True, true, West Virginia doesn't have the academic "qualifications" (as though they applied to existing Big Ten athletic programs), although it's probably more available than other schools, especially if the Big East loses its automatic BCS bid. Pitt would be ideal in my book, because I'm old enough to remember when Pitt-Penn State meant something (I hope BB's comment is correct as written, rather than in the commonly-used sense, meaning that Penn State really does want to play Pitt :) ), and it would make sense for the non-revenue sports in terms of travel (Pitt-Penn State being a better weekend trip than Ohio State-Penn State - ah, the old days of travel partners).

I do remember Missouri being mentioned in the past; state-wise, it makes sense (with Iowa to the north and Illinois to the east), but distance-wise, it's not any better of a fit than Penn State was. Well, not by much. Athletically, now that Norm Stewart and Slick Quin have moved on, perhaps they'll be ready for the squeaky-clean Big Ten. (Oops, broke my shovel. New topic.)

Not that it's a definitive source, but looking at US News & World Report's rankings, Notre Dame is obviously a good fit academically, but Syracuse would probably be the next best school (although geographically, they're not the best choice, and of course sports-wise, not so good right now). Pitt is right below Syracuse, tied with Ohio State in the middle of the Big Numerically-Challenged, and both Iowa State (hey, Iowa wouldn't mind) and Missouri are somewhat below the last two Big 10 schools, Indiana and Michigan State.

I think Russell's right. The Big Ten has called often enough, and it's no coincidence that Notre Dame's roommate has answered each time. Let's move on so we can add #12, split into divisions, get a playoff game, and change the name. The Other Big 12? The Dirty Dozen? Twelve Angry Schools? We Were The West Before The West Was Cool?

20
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:44pm

Here's the link:http://www.footballcommentary.com/twoptchart.htm
According to his model, if you're down by 5 with 30 minutes left in the game, you should go for two if your probability of success is greater than .37 From that I think that Mike Price made the right decision.

21
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 3:58pm

"The Shield" doesn't work for bad teams. Syracuse tried it last year, and had 3 punts blocked (officially), plus at least 3 others partially blocked.

22
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 4:26pm

Interesting model, and I don't think I'd seen it before. Definitely food for thought. One variable it doesn't seem to consider, which I think would be particularly relevant for TT-UTEP, would be the frequency of scoring. With two good offense/bad defense teams, I'd expect an above-average amount of discrete scoring events. Yes, time is a proxy for this, but for a decision like the 17-12 1/2 choice at the end of the first half is, I think a very good example of a poor decision by Price. Moreover, my impression is that coaches tend to think tactically, rather than strategically, until the fourth quarter. This suggests, I think, that Krasker may be underrating the positive benefits of the higher EV of kicking as opposed to his concentration on P(winning).

23
by Bencoder (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:51pm

#9

Yeah, or kick out Indiana and Northwestern and add Pitt and you're back to 10 teams. If you did it during football season it would take 2 months or more for anyone in Hoosier Land to notice, trust me.

24
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:56am

This article is the second time in a week here that I've seen the "kick the FG ASAP when down 10 or 11" arguments, and without trying to argue the specifics of the game covered (which I did not see) I'm just not sure the issue is so cut and dried in general.

Two problems: #1, I understand the logic, but I doubt anyone has actually tallied any numbers to see which strategy works better, most evidence seems quite anecdotal. #2, it mostly seems a tradeoff, gaining time but potentially giving up points. If you go for the TD you've made the toughest play and might only need a few snaps to get back in FG range, while if you kick first you gain time, but really need the extra time to score a TD.

I think the decision has to come down to specific down, distance and time remaining. If my team has the ball 1st and 10 on the 20 yd line with a minute left I say kick the FG because you're in medium range and TD is still a tough proposition. But get down around the 10-15 yd line and I say go for the TD. Taking chip shot here is leaving points on the board. The goal is to get the best points per time out of each drive, which means that a TD plus medium to long range FG is the best bet to win because it requires the least total yardage.

25
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:32am

I think part of the issue is, if you score the TD first, you need to have enough time to recover the onside kick, then gain 20-30 yards to get into long FG range, and have time enough to set up a kick (often after rushing to the line to spike). This is more time required than the minimum for a TD - recover the onside and throw a Hail Mary. If you're getting under 40 seconds or so, you probably want to kick the FG first (unless you're inside the 5 or something).

In this case, I believe there was 0:35 left when they got into FG range. The crazy thing is, the receiver (Bryant?) practically made the choice for them - he had caught a ball inside the 10, but then picked up a ridiculous taunting penalty, pushing them out of easy TD range. Without the penalty, it would've been interesting to see which way Nolan would've gone, but once they got pushed back the choice became a no-brainer.

26
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 10:38am

Re 25: I suppose, but a Hail Mary is desperate enough that I'm not sure your odds are any better doing this after kicking a FG rather than trying for the TD first and then trying Hail Mary like single play to get in FG range. The reasoning just seems awfully speculative to me, and it's easy to criticize in these situations because the odds of a win are very low with either decision.

But wow, a taunting penalty while retrying to get 2 scores? What is it with WRs and these ridiculous attitudes?

27
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:00pm

Just to generalize a little from the specific situation of SF-ARI, and keep in mind these are my thoughts and I haven't done a detailed study of the probabilities...
As 26 noted, the odds of winning are very low in either circumstance. Expected onside kicks, like SF-ARI, are recovered by the kicking team roughly 10% of the time, and they're absolutely the sine qua non of a successful comeback. Assuming that away, though, the key factor becomes time. For a team in FG range, how much time will it take to score? How much time will that leave you remaining for an onside kick recovery? Will you have enough time for something more than a Kordell Stewart-style prayer?

Looking at the Gamebook (see link), we see Bryant had a 46 yard gain down to the 11, pushed back to the 26 after the colossally stupid penalty, with 40 seconds left, when Nolan elected to kick the FG. SF could've taken 1 or more shots at the end zone. There's strong upside here, but also a strong downside. As last year's FSU-BC game (later noted by Dr. Z) showed, coaches sometimes let their tactical thinking overwhelm their strategic thought, and let the higher chance at a TD overwhelm the greater strategic need for two scores. You also run the risk of a sack or interception that effectively ends the game (the sack not necessarily so). Smith looks worlds better, but he's still inexperienced and a compressed area of the field presents (I would presume) a greater probability of an interception.

In the end, I think the key aspect of Nolan's decision-making in the last two minutes is that he pushed back the moment of last chance as long as possible. Nedney hit the FG, they recovered the onside kick, and ended up having two shots to the end zone from 36 yards out at the end of the game. Nolan's big clock mistake actually came earlier, when he failed to take the last time out before the 2-minute warning. This probably cost him close to 40 seconds. The other late timing mistake was Vernon Davis catching the dump-off Smith threw to avoid the sack on the play before the 46 yard pass to Bryant. Davis probably figured he could break a tackle and get out of bounds, like he had the previous play, and it's tough to think to deliberately drop a pass in the heat of the play, but it did cost them.

28
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 5:01pm

Based on something I just read, can I get a late nomination for Mack Brown for the JLS? Regarding Texas' defensive strategy Saturday:

"We didn't think Troy would pass this much," Longhorns coach Mack Brown said. "We concentrated on Troy's rush, and Ted Ginn and Antonio Pittman, and Anthony Gonzalez was able to get a lot of yards. He and Troy were probably the difference in the ball game."

OK, let's think about this for a second. Sure, Smith is definitely a threat to run, and keeping a spy around is certainly warranted. But for the most part, the designed QB runs started disappearing a while ago; most of his running is now on scrambles. Meanwhile, these are his passing stats for the three previous games (Northern Illinois this season, @Michigan and Fiesta Bowl v. Notre Dame last):

64/90, 939 yards, 6 TD and 0 INT.

Those are possibly Heisman-level passing numbers. Throw in the fact that he has some pretty good receivers to throw to, and did we mention Texas would be missing their top cornerback, yet somehow Brown and Chizik thought OSU would come out and, what, run the triple option? Yikes.

29
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:11pm

re: SF-AZ
Only incidental to your argument, but the taunting penalty was a fairly bogus call, I wouldn't lay that all on Bryant (I'm not an SF fan).
The non timeout was a huge mistake, it was wierd because they were calling them and then just stopped, I was confused and thought they must have run out, but it was just a mistake. The Vernon Davis thing was pretty bad too.
re: the quick FG, given the low odds involved, my thinking is inside the 30 yd line, and still with > 30 secs left take at least 2, maybe all 3 shots at the end zone before you kick the FG. Just have your tallest downfield receiver run a sideline streak and have the QB err on the side of Out of bounds... you're only burning 5 secs a pop.