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Is Harris one of the league's top cover corners, or a product of the system in which he plays? Cian Fahey says the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

26 Sep 2011

One Foot Inbounds: Sunshine

by Robert Weintraub

It was another wild day among the college powers Saturday, but my attention was taken by a pair of smaller schools from Florida. I spent the afternoon producing the Atlanta Football Classic, an annual HBCU matchup at the Georgia Dome that featured Florida A&M tangling with Southern. The Rattlers won a thriller 38-33, coming from 16 down to snake the victory from Stump Mitchell’s Jaguars. Lavante Page scored five times to thrill the big crowd and break the school record. Hiss, hiss!

While my brain was with FAMU, my heart was with Florida International, who busted out to a 3-0 start and were nosing around the Top 25. I had the chance to talk to their radio analyst, a name you might recognize: Rick Sanchez, the former CNN anchor who lost a public debate with Jon Stewart and made some iffy comments about Jews in the media. He lost his gig and landed in the Panthers’ radio booth, seemingly an extremely random spot.

Turns out Sanchez’ son is a student at FIU, and he was a big fan of the team. Sanchez told me that "the athletic director said, ‘since you’re here for every game anyway, why not call them on the radio?’" Sanchez has led the nation in excitability thus far this season, yelling out his instant trademark phrase, "Ay, Dios Mio!!" after every big play.

Unfortunately, the game in "The Cage" Saturday night offered lots of excitement but a tough loss for FIU, falling 36-31 to Louisiana-Lafayette. Superstar wideout T.Y. Hilton continues to be hampered with a hamstring injury, but quarterback Wesley Carroll’s ankle was injured early in the game, a blow that was arguably more costly to their chances of winning. The Panthers couldn’t recover.

Ay, Dios Mio.

The more traditional Sunshine State schools had a mixed weekend. Florida continues to look much improved with Charlie Weis running the offense, and they destroyed Kentucky 48-10. The next four games will be a truer test of the Gators worthiness. In order -- Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia.

Miami followed up its whipping of Ohio State with a whimper, losing in front of a half-full, listless crowd to Kansas State. Jacory Harris was stopped just shy on a goal-line scramble by Tre Walker with seconds to play to cinch up the 28-24 win for the ‘Cats. Florida State couldn’t match the intensity it brought to the Oklahoma game, and couldn’t stop Clemson’s Tahj Boyd-Sammy Watkins combo in a 38-30 loss. Is it possible the Tigers are for real, and won’t lose key games down the stretch for once?

One team that just doesn’t lose many games is LSU, or as the acronym should be, TMB: Too Many Ballers. The Lesters just brought too many talented players for a game, often explosive West Virginia bunch too handle, winning 47-21. Jarrett Lee continues to make Baton Rougers struggle to remember just what that Jimmy...uh, Jason...is it Jordan? Jefferson looks like. Geno Smith was very good for the Mountaineers, but needed to be Gino Torretta to have a shot (hey, he was a good player at Miami, if not especially Heisman-worthy) at outscoring LSU. By game’s end, I was waiting for the Mountaineer mascot to do the honorable thing and point the long carbine at himself. Meanwhile, using the term "closer" for sports other than baseball is an odious cliche, but it does happen to apply beautifully to LSU back Spencer Ware, who hammers away on tired defenses with Mariano-like effectiveness.

And in the day’s most proficient refereeing, the stripes who ruled a blatantly missed PAT good for Syracuse, allowing the Orange a three-point lead that would prove critical in an overtime win over Toledo, did a heckuva job. The Big East immediately called BS on the ruling in a statement, and don’t look for the officials or replay judge to be working in the conference any time soon. But would the Commissioner’s office have been so quick to say Syracuse’s scintillating win was bogus if the Orange weren’t headed for the exits with Pittsburgh?

TOEDRAGS

  • Taylor Branch’s piece on shamateurism in college sports for The Atlantic was great, but the real tipping point happened back in January, when Brent Musberger uttered his immortal phrase "this is for all the Tostitos" as Auburn attempted its BCS-winning field goal. It was never more nakedly apparent that a) the Tostitos were going to everyone except the players (save perhaps Cam Newton), and b) without a piece of that endorsement scratch, many players can’t afford much beyond a diet of Tostitos once the season ends and the training table goes away.
  • Robert Griffin Insanity Watch -- The Waco Wonder now has thrown more touchdowns than incompletions this season: 13 to 12. He was at eight apiece entering the Baylor-Rice hookup at Floyd Casey Stadium, so Griff proceeded to throw five touchdown passes during a 29-for-33, 338 yard performance, as the Bears made risotto out of the Owls, 56-31. For dessert, Griffin ran for a score as well. And as a lagniappe, he punted on a quick kick for 39 yards.
  • In case you’re wondering, that crazy dust storm that erupted in Sun Devil Stadium during USC-Arizona State is called a Haboob (I consulted Ralph Fiennes’ character from The English Patient for that one). To cite another cinematic reference, the field was like a mammoth version of the beginning of American Beauty, with plastic bags cycloning all over the place. Then, as suddenly as the Haboob came, it disappeared back into the desert.
  • Having a quarterback nearly a decade older than some guys on the other team sure can be an advantage. Witness Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State’s quarterback, who is about to turn 28. With his Cowboys down 20-3 at halftime to Texas A&M, and getting the full "Gig ‘Em" from the big crowd in College Station, Weedon stayed cool, stuck with the gameplan, and began to shred the Aggies. A&M helped the cause by coughing up some quick turnovers, which had the defense saying "Seriously -- we gotta go back in already?!" OSU completed the comeback, hanging on for a 30-29 win (they took a deliberate safety to end it) in a result that delivers a harsh blow to the Aggies’ hopes of a run to the Big 12 title.
  • Good win for Georgia Tech, 35-28 over North Carolina, and a medium win for Illinois, a 23-20 survival over Western Michigan. Both schools are 4-0, in the Illini’s case for the first time since 1951.

OFI TOP 25

1. LSU
2. Boise State
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma
5. Oklahoma State
6. Wisconsin
7. Stanford
8. South Carolina
9. Florida
10. Oregon
11. Baylor
12. Texas A&M
13. Virginia Tech
14. Clemson
15. Michigan
16. South Florida
17. Arkansas
18. Georgia Tech
19. West Virginia
20. Nebraska
21. Houston
22. Illinois
23. TCU
24. Florida State
25. Arizona State

Just want to point out that the Associated Press has come around to where we have always been -- with LSU atop the polls. USA Today still has Oklahoma No. 1, and LSU No. 3, which is absurd given the Tigers’ schedule so far. It only gets tougher...

LOWSMAN TROPHY WATCH


1. Jadeveon Clowney / Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
The Cocks duo dominated previously unbeaten Vandy, turning the Commodores into a JV team. Ingram scored his third TD of the season, recovering a fumble in the end zone (on offense), while chipping in two sacks, another tackle for loss, and a pass deflection. Clowney had two sacks and forced a pair of fumbles as SC dominated.

2. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU. This could be a weekly listing for the Demolition Man, who is beginning to approach Patrick Peterson’s level, which is astounding. The timing on that deflection pick was amazing.

3. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State. With all the hoo-hah surrounding Burfict’s mad dog persona in the buildup to the big win over USC, good on the Big V for limiting himself to a single personal foul penalty. Oh, there was also this huge interception and long return to change momentum in the first half -- those were nice too. Trojans QB Matt Barkley, who called Burfict "a dirty player" during the week, made the tackle, and Burfict helped him up and gave him a sarcastic swat on the fanny.

4. Craig Roh, DE, Michigan. The Wolverines stopped the brunt of Ronnie Hillman and the Aztecs run game, but Roh also helped shut down the SDSU pass attack as well. He finished with a sack, a forced fumble, and a tackle for loss.

5. Dre Kirkpatrick / DeQuan Menzie, DB, Alabama. Another combo package from the SEC, where the defenses run rampant. Bama’s secondary destroyed the Arkansas passing game, with Menzie’s pick-six being the game’s pivot point.

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 26 Sep 2011

6 comments, Last at 28 Sep 2011, 2:41pm by Todd S.

Comments

1
by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 09/26/2011 - 7:28pm

By game’s end, I was waiting for the Mountaineer mascot to do the honorable thing and point the long carbine at himself.

It's not a carbine. "Musket" or "muzzle-loader" would have been better choices.

2
by Joseph :: Mon, 09/26/2011 - 8:08pm

A couple of grammatical errors--I'll let you find them--in the 2nd paragraph, and the LSU one. That's what happens when you write while watching SF-CIN--their bad play affects your writing.
Have to nominate the Tigers punter, Brad Wing, for the Lowsman. He had 6 punts, downed at the 3, 4, 5, 11 (fair catch), 8 (another fair catch), and 9. Now, those weren't short, either; they went for 41, 52, 60, 37, 51, and 51 yards= 48.7 avg., all six downed or fair caught inside the 11. (If not for both fair catches, there's a reasonable chance that 5 of 6 would have been downed inside the FIVE! That would also have given him a 50 yd average!)
Mike Scifres would be proud.

3
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2011 - 11:58pm

Florida A&M? There's mining in Florida??

4
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 8:28am

You can mine sand.

5
by Thalwitzer (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2011 - 10:10am

'M' is for Mechanical. And there's lots of mining in Florida. Phosphates, limestone, coquina, oil (not so much anymore).

6
by Todd S. :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 2:41pm

I know the point has been made on this site many times (particularly by Mr. Fremeau) but I'm going to repeat it: the LSU special teams are AWESOME.