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The Georgia Bullddogs' dynamic duo should be on NFL rosters at some point in the next 72 hours. Which will be the better pro? That depends on what kind of running back you're looking for.

06 Jan 2012

One Foot Inbounds: Wrapping Bowl Season

by Robert Weintraub

Early in the Fiesta Bowl, Stanford kick returner Ty Montgomery fielded a ball several yards deep in his end zone, and started to run out. His co-return man, senior Jeremy Stewart, prevented Montgomery from doing so by knocking the freshman returner on his backside while he remained in the painted area, and the Cards took a touchback.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the best tackle of the 2011-12 bowl season.

After a schedule of seven-on-seven drills that passed for football games, I’m ready for a repeat of the November 5 slugfest between LSU and Alabama more than ever. There was harder hitting and better tackling on display in the Lingerie Bowl. Washington scored 56 points, with quarterback Keith Price accounting for seven touchdowns -- and lost to Baylor by 11. The offenses on display in the Rose and Fiesta Bowls turned decent defenses into swiss cheese. West Virginia hung a record 70 points on eleven cardboard cutouts wearing Clemson orange. West Virginia lost to Syracuse, for Pete’s sake!

And just wait for the GoDaddy.com Bowl Sunday night, featuring the unstoppable offenses and walk-on quality defenses of Northern Illinois and Arkansas State. The Mountaineers record, which ignited much couch-burning in Morgantown, is already in jeopardy.

There were other examples. Two supposedly outstanding defenses hooked up in the Outback Bowl: Georgia and Michigan State. Final score -- 33-30 (in triple overtime, but regulation ended 27-all). Toledo beat Air Force 42-41 in the Military Bowl (yes, an academy team lost the Military Bowl, I declare sacrilege) -- give the Rockets credit, though -- they did stop a two-point conversion to seal the game. Purdue was so unconfident in its ability to stop Western Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl that the Boilers onside kicked twice in the first half -- and would have done it a third time had WMU not changed an alignment at the last moment.

In all, only 11 of the 31 bowls played so far have seen both teams held to fewer than 30 points.

There are no shortage of culprits. First and foremost is probably the fact that few coaches put their teams through full padded practices in the postseason. The climate of player protection being what it is, coupled with offensive innovation and breathtaking athletes migrating toward the offensive side of the ball more often than ever, has left defenses in an atrocious state. Outside of Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge, of course.

Washington probably feels the most violated, even moreso than Clemson, which checked out after a 99-yard fumble return turned a potential 24-21 lead into a 28-17 deficit. The Huskies shelled out $2.1 million over three years to defensive coordinator Nick Holt, making him one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the nation. After Robert Griffin and running back Terrance Ganaway (21 carries for 200 yards and five touchdowns) left his unit in tatters, Holt and his staff were relieved of their duties. You-Dub faced both of the consensus top quarterbacks in the country, Griffin and Stanford’s Andrew Luck, this season. In both games, they surrendered over 400 yards rushing.

The Rajin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette were likely to be taken apart by the potent San Diego State offense, but held off the Aztecs for a while thanks in part to an old-school method -- staging a good old-fashioned Oklahoma drill right on the Superdome turf before the New Orleans Bowl. Strength coach Rusty Whitt got involved as well, sans helmet, a decision that left him bleeding on the ULL sideline. Whitt left his forehead cracked open and the blood dripping down his face throughout the game, which had to have motivated his team -- hell, I was so fired up I put my head through the closet door of the St. Louis hotel room where I watched the game. In a breathless contest, the local favorites drove to a 50-yard field goal as time expired (it was a 55-yarder, but an "illegal spinning" penalty moved the ball up five critical yards), beating SDSU 32-30 in their first bowl game in the FBS. I’m a playoff believer, but you've got to love a team like ULL, generally picked as the absolute worst of the 120 FBS teams in the preseason, taking home a trophy at season’s end.

Along with shoddy defense, another leitmotif of the regular season was glaring errors in the kicking game, especially in the clutch. That trend carried over to the bowls, Brett Baer’s big kick for ULL notwithstanding (he missed a pair of extra points earlier, so don’t sing his praises too loudly).

Stanford’s unfortunate Jordan Williamson was the most visible failure, blowing what appeared to be Luck’s farewell gift to college football, a precision drive with no timeouts into chip shot range that would have given the Cardinal the Fiesta Bowl. Instead, Williamson yanked it, then missed another in the top of the first overtime. Oklahoma State appeared to score a touchdown for the miracle cover of -3.5, but replay decided Colton Chelf was a half-yard shy of paydirt. OSU then kneeled and kicked the winning field goal, which left me so bitter and angry you’d have thought I had actual cash on the game. I don’t want to hear any nonsense about how OK State is in play for a split national title should Alabama beat LSU. The Cowboys had no business beating Stanford, and they know it.

Virginia Tech is supposed to be the Sorbonne of special teams, but BeamerBall took an extended New Year’s holiday and missed the Sugar Bowl. After the top two Hokies’ kickers broke bad and were suspended for poor behavior, third-stringer Justin Myer blew an overtime kick of his own. That was after Tech roughed the punter, setting up a Michigan touchdown, fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, which became three more Michigan points, and gave the Wolverines three final points in regulation with a fake punt so horrendous that Patrick Chung may have called for it.

Michigan kicker Brandon Gibbons’ clearly false started on his game-winning kick in overtime, stutter-stepping to the ball like an Englishman approaching a penalty kick. But it wasn’t called, and the Wolverines won the "Neither Team Deserves To Be Here" Bowl.

At least Myer has an excuse -- he was planning on spending most of the game playing Angry Birds on the sideline, not actually kicking with the game on the line (and he did tie the game with a kick late in regulation). Georgia’s Blair Walsh was the preseason favorite for the Groza Award, but he missed two kicks in overtime (one was blocked) as UGA lost to Sparty in the Outback Bowl. Moreover, they were Walsh’s 13th and 14th missed field goals of the season! When the supposed best kicker in the country can’t put them between the uprights, it’s time to brush up on your fourth-down playcalling.

Dawgs coach Mark Richt may be off the hot seat in Athens, but he gets heavy criticism from me for essentially playing for the 40-yarder in overtime after Georgia got an interception in the top of the first overtime. Um, Mark, your kicker has already missed a dozen field goals this season. How about inching a tad closer? Any relation between my anger at Richt and the fact that I picked UGA to cover -3.5 is purely coincidental, I assure you.

After all, I’m equally mad at the Bulldog defense and their poor tackling.


  • Also miffed by Richt and Walsh’s incompetence -- Bulldogs corner Brandon Boykin, who had a sensational game. He recorded a punt return touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and a safety on the game’s first play.
  • The Baylor-Washington flag football contest was settled in a perfectly bizarre manner. After a late touchdown to go up by 11, Baylor kicked off. Upback Danny Shelton recovered, assumed by what he had witnessed all night that he could juke through the Baylor tacklers despite weighing 334 pounds, and fumbled fighting for extra yardage. Baylor recovered and ran out the clock.
  • South Carolina blitzed Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, a game that was supposed to feature an individual battle between potential 2012 first-round selections: Gamecocks wideout Alshon Jeffrey and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. The two players got into fight over who should be picked first, uh, I mean, respect or something, and were both ejected. See you in Round Two, fellas.
  • Ohio State ignored assistant coach Mike Vrabel’s impassioned sideline plea to "not go out like p---ies" against Florida in the Urban Meyer Gator Bowl, losing 24-17. Vrabel, at least, won’t be going out, like a kitty cat or otherwise, as Meyer is retaining him for his 2012 staff.
  • UCLA’s loss in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to Illinois left the Bruins at 6-8, redefining the meaning of the phrase "bowl eligible." In the game, star Illini pass rusher Whitney Mercilus broke the school record for sacks in a season with 16.5, leaving Simeon Rice in the distance.
  • The worst thing that could have happened to Florida State was beating Notre Dame in the Florida Citrus Bowl. Now the ‘Noles will doubtless get some preseason top five love again. The voters should consider the godawful throw into double coverage in the end zone by Irish quarterback Tommy Rees that iced the 18-14 win before voting FSU so high in 2012.
  • Per a tweet by SI’s Stewart Mandel, the postgame press release called the TicketCity Bowl (a lifeless 30-14 drubbing of the Penn State Scarlet Letters by Houston) an "instant classic."
  • Remember Tom Williams, the head coach of Yale who called the worst fake punt in recorded history in The Game against Harvard two years ago? I wrote about it then. Well, he was fired as bowl season got underway, not for horrendous coaching, but for pretending he had gone through the same gut-wrenching decision his quarterback Patrick Witt did, by having to decide between a Rhodes Scholarship interview or the Harvard game. The New York Times investigated, called BS, and Yale responded by canning Williams. A bit flimsy for a sackable offense, but when you go 0-3 against your biggest rival, as Williams did against the Crimson, heads will roll.
  • Oregon’s Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin was its first since 1917. The play of the game, heaven forbid, turned out to be a defensive one. A long pass to Jared Abbrederis seemed to put the Badgers in position for a late go-ahead score, but he was stripped along the sideline by Oregon’s Terrance Mitchell. The ball lay free on the turf for an eternity, Ducks coach Chip Kelly screaming and pointing at the ball and resisting the urge to go all Tommy Lewis and jump on it himself. At last, Michael Clay fell on it for the Ducks, and they went on to win.
  • NC State sophomore David Amerson had a superb season at cornerback in near-total obscurity. He saved his ACC-record 13th interception for late in the Belk Bowl as the Pack edged Louisville 31-24 in a game marked by curious coaching decisions. Amerson’s 12th pick came earlier; he returned it for a touchdown.
  • My sincerest apologies to Jordan Rodgers. I clearly jinxed the Vanderbilt QB by writing this profile of him and his slightly-better-known older brother. Rodgers was pulled from the Liberty Bowl in favor of Larry Smith, who Rodgers had replaced in midseason. Neither could prevent a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati.
  • My favorite and least favorite moment of the bowl season came in the same game: the Insight Bowl between Iowa and Oklahoma. I had the Hawkeyes and 14 points, so I was clinging to a 24-14 Sooner lead in the final seconds. All OU had to do was take a knee, and it was over, but no -- Iowa kept calling the most futile of all timeouts! So on fourth down, the BellDozer, Blake Bell, ran in a meaningless touchdown in the final seconds, and the Sooners covered. So glad I stayed up until nearly 1 a.m. for that.
  • On the other hand, it was worth it, as I got to see an ESPN cablecam (the one that dangles 20 yards or so over the field, suspended by wires) crash down on to the field, nearly decapitating Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt. The horrific ending was delayed by around five minutes as the shamefaced camera techs ran out to clean up the mess. If there was ever a more perfect metaphor for what television, ESPN in particular, has done to college football, I can’t think of one.
  • Matt Millen, game analyst, helpfully put the surreal scene in context for the under-40 viewers. "It crashed down like a Soviet satellite!" yelped the stuck-in-the-Reagan-era Millen
  • By the way, Millen said during the Fiesta Bowl that he would draft Andrew Luck first overall, "no doubt about it." Indianapolis, you may want to seriously reconsider drafting the Stanford quarterback.
  • Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 06 Jan 2012

    34 comments, Last at 27 Mar 2013, 5:57am by pawello


by Mikey Benny :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:26am

FSU has had horrendous injury luck this season. We'll see if they are able to improve their luck and their W-L record next year. My main concern is E.J. Manuel's lack of passing ability.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:32am

Beamer's and Richt's contributions to their team's losses, via nearly indescribable, staggering, stupidity, reinforced for me, in this year of The Fall of Paterno, one of the most distasteful apsects of college football, the cult of personality around authority figure coaches. In the NFL, even the coaches on the highest pedestals get pushback from players, but in college these overrated millionaires can do the dumbest stuff and not get called on it by the people they have authority over. How the hell Richt or Beamer could go into those locker rooms after the game, and not say to their players, "I'm a moron, and I owe everybody here an apology", is beyond me, and if one of them actually did, I retract and give them credit.

The best part of the Washington/Baylor debacle was hearing Chris Spielman's broadcast; it sounded as if he took such a pathetic effort personally, and I thought he might go down to the sidelines at some point and start punching guys out.

It seemed to me that the biggest difference between Oregon and Wisconsin was that the former, with all their issues on defense, actually had some speed among the linebackers and safeties, which the Badgers lacked.

I wasn't really looking forward to the rematch in a few days, but, good grief, after seeing a bunch of bowl games that largely had no hitting in them, I've come around. SEC! SEC! SEC!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:03pm

You know, having actually watched Beamer coach the punt block technique at a VT practice, it boggles my mind how often they've run into the damn punters this year. I don't know if it's a result of punters taking two steps or a bigger step than anticipated, but they keep diving for the block deeper than the launch point.

Granted, that VT was down to their last functional LB or DB due to injuries this year may have something to do with it.

I'm not going to rag on Myers for missing the OT FG, considering the *four* he made in regulation, including the tying FG at the end of regulation, were the only four he'd made all season.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:41pm

Hell, at least that's mostly related to execution. Assuming the punter did not have a psychotic episode, and decide to fake a punt against the specific order of Beamer, how it came to be that the punter did what he did on fourth and long, with Tech's defense completely stoning the Michigan offense, in a tight ball game, and thus allowing the field position to get flipped, is just unbelievable. If Beamer normally gives his punter such leeway, and did not rescind it in this situation, that's negligent. If he actually told the punter to try that fake, Beamer needs therapy.

I understand that coaches kick too much, but if you are dead set on trying to pick up the first down in that situation, leave the ball in the hands of your quarterback, who has some above avaerage talent. I still can't believe it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:22pm

It was a 4th-1. Thomas had come up short on a QB sneak on a similar 4th-1 play in the 2nd quarter.

If anything, the defense was playing well enough to believe that U-M wouldn't have made it into FG range.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:56pm

Ah, you are right about it being 4th and one. Still, if you think your defense is playing so well, in a tie game, kick the ball and keep your field position advantage. Going for the first down makes the most sense when you DON'T have such confidence in your defense. The momentum was all in Tech's favor, they were whipping a tiring Michigan team on the line of scrimmage, and faking a punt, while also allowing Tech the chance to retain possession near mid-field, gave Michigan their best opportunity since the first half to have a scoring threat, and give themselves hope. A really bad calculation.

I have to admit I am predjudiced againt punt fakes which grant a non-qb, even a receiver, that much discretion. If you think faking the punt is a risk worth taking, commit to it before the snap, and try to get the yardage. It takes qbs hundreds, if not thousands, of reps to become proficient in exercising option reads with the ball in their hands. Doing it with a guy who has had a fraction of the reps, in the biggest moment of the year, just seems very unsound.

by Subrata Sircar :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:48pm

As a Michigan fan who had watched Thomas bulldoze his way to first downs all game, I was not looking forward to a sneak to whichever side Mike Martin wasn't lined up. (As an aside, VTech was destroying Michigan's O-line - possibly due to the injury to David Molk, who apparently got a high-ankle sprain during warmups - but Martin spent most of the game in the Tech backfield as well.) I was wondering if the sneaky move was to fake the sneak and pitch to Wilson, who was either getting the edge for a bunch of yards or getting hacked down in the backfield before he could move. The fake punt was a bad call.

I second the call-of-BS for including Myers in this kicker-failure list. He was the 3rd-string kicker and hit the first four field goals of his entire career under enormous pressure, bailing out the offense time and again. He's not anywhere near the reasons they lost. It's quite plausible to me that they would have lost in regulation with any other first-time kicker.

And if you wanted defense, did you not watch the VTech defense stone a Michigan offense with an All-American center (albeit injured) and two 1000-yard rushers, one of whom is possibly the most explosive (good and bad) QB in college football? I'm not sure I saw a real missed tackle all night, and Robinson continually had to juke a defender just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Their linebackers and safeties were making good reads, flying to the ball and tackling cleanly and soundly.

by djd (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:49am

It's not clear to me whether you realize just how negative this article is. By no means am I trying to suggest that you (or anyone) should write only with a rose-colored keyboard, but as a college football fan, it's a little exhausting to read a long, sarcastic, and completely negative article. Just FYI.

by Kal :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:22pm


It's pretty sad simply because there were plenty of great games that are going to be instant classics that are just dismissed. Both the rose and fiesta were genuinely good games. Did you think USC-Texas was bad?

This feels like something written by Easterbrook or Cowherd; a bitter, spiteful post with little facts or analysis and ranting against the evils of...good offenses. Find the joy in the games and the bowls.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:07pm

Michigan kicker Brandon Gibbons’ clearly false started on his game-winning kick in overtime, stutter-stepping to the ball like an Englishman approaching a penalty kick. But it wasn’t called

You'll see things like that a lot if you watch enough U-M games.

I'm amused though about your long tirade against shoddy ST play, then your enthusiasm for Alabama-LSU as a change of pace. Alabama lost to LSU primarily because my grandmother (deceased) is a better placekicker than anyone currently at Alabama.

It should also be pointed out that in the Georgia-MSU game, 9 of Georgia's points were scored on ST or by the defense, and 6 of MSU's were scored by the defense. The offenses generated a 21-18 game in regulation. Overtime also ended on a blocked FG, with 9 total points in 6 periods. So it appears the defenses weren't entirely delinquent.

by Mike W :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:11pm

I agree. I felt there was a lot of good defense played in the Ga-MSU game, and it was rather surprising the score got as high as it did. There was a lot of defensive pressure on the QBs, a fair number of runs for losses, and three-and-outs. It was also the most enjoyable game to watch of the bowl season, for that reason.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:32pm

I really enjoyed that game as well, which is why it ticked me off so much to see Richt play for a 43 yard field goal, into the wind, on grass, with a guy who had already missed a dozen field goals this year, for a win in overtime. And I was rooting for Sparty. I really hate it when the guy getting paid a lot of money screws things up for the young men playing the game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:11pm

On the other hand, it was worth it, as I got to see an ESPN cablecam (the one that dangles 20 yards or so over the field, suspended by wires) crash down on to the field, nearly decapitating Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt.

You may want to consider how bloodthirsty this sounds.

I realize Iowa lost, but I suspect your embarrassment isn't worth decapitating Marvin McNutt.

by Trollgaze (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:48pm


Seriously dude. Tap the brakes. You just wrote a thousand words about how little fun you had watching college football. I am seriously shocked by how all out negative this article is.

If you can't enjoy a game like the Rose Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl maybe it's time to go watch hockey or something. This was a fun bowl season.

Also, Andrew Luck and Stanford had all 3 timeouts during that drive.

by Mike W :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:31pm

Guys, seriously, does everyone need to qualify every negative statement with an "Of course, I greatly enjoy watching good offense as well?" It's the lack of balance he's disappointed by. Football, like anything else, is best when everything it has to offer is on display. We got to see a lot of "great" offense. But we missed out on seeing good defense. Moreover, if everyone scores most of the time, how much of an achievement is it? I got the sense that all the best players were on the offensive sides of the ball. So then how entertaining is it to watch excellent athletes dominate good athletes? I think if you're going to stereotype someone, it should go "Hurr Durr POINTS!"

This reminds me of an NCAA tournament, I think it was '89 or so, when virtually all the games were close. And after a couple rounds the refs got caught up in it and were forcing games that way. It was painfully obvious, but all the announcers were gushing over the wonderfulness of the tournament, while foul totals were something like 28-14 in a few games. Nobody noticed. Or there's the Knicks nonsense in the 90s. Nobody cared, it made for more drama and close games. Or in baseball, in '87 or the roided up fin de siecle - if everyone is hitting home runs, how big a deal is it?

If you just want to see stuff happen, fine. But if a sport can offer offense and defense, hitting and pitching, close games and blowouts, then it's probably best if it is structured in such a way as to allow for the possibility of all those things. The NFL has long tinkered with the rules to keep scoring averages in the 23-20 or 24-17 range. They probably have people scratching their heads right now thinking of ways to keep scoring from going through the roof without killing QBS and WRs. Hopefully they will come up with something, because with a GB-NE or NO-NE Super Bowl on the horizon, the NFL is looking a lot like the college bowls.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 1:41pm

I really liked the Rose and Fiesta Bowls, along with Sparty vs. Bulldog, but I agree with Weintraub's sentiments in regard to some of the other games. Washington and, especially, Clemson, put forth ridiculously bad efforts, and Baylor wasn't much better. What is really bad about Clemson's is that the Orange Bowl is supposed to be real reward for work well done, especially for team which had no claim on the cahmpionship game, and they let somebody, nearly effortlessly, hang SEVENTY on them. Put 'em on two year probation for being disinterested.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 2:28pm

Washington was doomed. Baylor obliterated the defenses of TCU, Oklahoma, and Texas as well -- legitimately good defenses much better than Washington's.

Clemson is only consistently inconsistent. Their offense showed up at least.

by Kal :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 3:22pm

He doesn't need to qualify it, but this seems like a rant about how horrible the games were across the board, how the Rose and Fiesta were these complete crap games where nothing on defense happened (when as he points out later some of the biggest plays in each game were on defense).

I recall this being the tone last year as well about the college season. I'll see if I can verify that. Maybe Robert just doesn't like college that much.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 4:58pm

We know he hates him some Penn State.

Although he quieted down about that when Bernie Fine got exposed at Syracuse. Thank God for that statute of limitations, 'eh Bobby?

by Hang50 :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 4:37pm

The Rose Bowl is the only bowl game I've watched in its entirety this year. It was entralling, kickoff to 0:00. My pet peeve was Musberger and Herbstreit repeatedly prattling on about Wilson while being mildly snide about Thomas. Their stats are nearly identical:

  • Wilson: 19 of 25, 296 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
  • Thomas: 17 of 23, 268 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble

Wilson had one long-ish run, but neither was a big contributor on the ground.

I'll be the first to admit that Wilson's body of work at Wisconsin has been tremendous; he added a crucial skillset to a very good team. At some point, however, they really ought to announce the game at hand rather than impressions of past successes.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:00pm

Oregon's two losses came in games where Thomas had some pretty severe deer-in-headlights problems. He couldn't throw a spiral against LSU, and much of their offensive ineptitude was on him.

Wilson, by contrast, actually played really well in Wisconsin's losses, and was basically betrayed twice by his defense.

by Kal :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 5:23pm

Much of Oregon's incompetence at LSU was because LSU was a frickin awesome defense and Thomas had to throw the ball 44 times because, frankly, the running game was pretty flat.

And keep in mind - Oregon scored more on LSU than any other team has this year.

On USC: I'll agree, he looked bad that game. That being said, he has also looked crazy good in other games. I'd be happy to admit that he wasn't as good as Wilson, but that doesn't preclude him from being a stud this game, and some of those throws to Tuinei were flat-out brilliant shots.

by Hang50 :: Sat, 01/07/2012 - 12:12pm

It was the other Thomas whose fumbles set Oregon back in the LSU game. Playing from behind in a "run to set up the pass" offense is always tough, trebly so against a defense like LSU's. D. Thomas doesn't have the skill set of a typical drop-back passer, but nor was he coached to rely on those skills. He went 31 of 54, 1 TD, 1 INT. He had as many pass attempts as LaMichael James had yards (on 18 carries), so there's plenty of blame to go around in that game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 01/08/2012 - 9:18pm

I still don't quite get what Chip Kelly was thinking in either the Auburn or LSU games. Oregon's big advantage is wearing down the other team, when not scoring quickly. In the 1st quarter, they West Coasted it down the field and kept Auburn running around. Then, for the next 7 quarters of SEC opponents, they stopped doing that.

Coincidentally, they got outplayed in the next seven quarters.

by Kal :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:56am

That's not really true. Especially in BCS games where TV timeouts means there's no wearing down of anyone. And it's also not true in this season either, where the Ducks ran a pace significantly slower than last year.

Against Auburn they probably should have thrown the ball more. Auburn's big weakness was their secondary and DT burned them hard, all over the place. Whenever we ran we didn't do very well.

Against LSU the big issue was the turnovers, but aside from that the secondary big 'win' was on interior run plays. LSU doesn't have size but does have speed, so getting to the corners wasn't working (this was the opposite of Wisconsin). Mostly, Oregon and LSU played each other very close until the second half when the doors came off on 3 successive turnovers.

by Subrata Sircar :: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 6:08pm

As the Stanford game was winding down, I started explaining to my extremely-patient-must-love-me-a-lot-wife exactly why it was a bad idea for them to not use their 52 seconds and 3 timeouts to advance the ball another 10 yards. I estimated that even a good college kicker would miss from 35 yards about one time in 5, and that 30 yards or less would be 90+%.

I was close (according to this): http://mgoblog.com/diaries/quick-sugar-bowl-preview-and-game-theory-foll...
Looks like an average kicker is about 75% from there, and a good college kicker is about 88%. 5 yards in pushes you to 80% and 92%; 10 yards is 90% and 95%. The distance between the two lines is most pronounced around the 40-yard mark.

My takeaway is that turning 40+ yard field goals into 30+ yard field goals is worth quite a bit of risk at the end of the game, particularly when you're tied. Roughly speaking, if you hit the field goal 50% from where you are with no risk, your chances of winning the game are ~75%. Moving the ball in 10 yards to make it a 66% make means you are 83% to win, and a turnover probably leaves you at about 47%. If your turnover risk is less than 25% (!) it's worthwhile to keep playing.

Stanford, with Luck, 3 timeouts, and 52 seconds, cannot possibly have a turnover risk that high. A play-action pass with instructions to call timeout on any completion and chuck it out the back if nothing's open would likely have picked up a few yards at least. With 3 timeouts even a sack isn't fatal - call TO, set up a play to get the yardage back and do it again.

The best coaches put their players in position to succeed. Stanford's coach set his kicker up to fail.

by Kal :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:57am

I'm now curious - with all the ranting about lack of defense, was the NCG the kind of game you really wanted to watch? Because to me that was boring with a side of laughable. It was just ineptitude.

by NYMike :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 10:45am

The SEC West Championship Replay was never a game I wanted to watch. So I didn't.

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by pawello (not verified) :: Wed, 03/27/2013 - 5:57am

I really liked the Rose and Fiesta Bowls, along with Sparty vs. Bulldog, but I agree with Weintraub's sentiments in regard to some of the other games. Washington and, especially, Clemson, put forth ridiculously bad efforts, and Baylor wasn't much better. What is really bad about e-papierosy Clemson's is that the Orange Bowl is supposed to be real reward for work e-papierosy well done, especially for team which had no claim on the cahmpionship game, and they let somebody, nearly effortlessly, hang SEVENTY on them. Put 'em on two year probation for being disinterested.