Friday, September 23, 2011

Catching up will consider not burning couches

Ohio State to start Braxton Miller: Remember when the 2008 version of Ohio State went on the road and got spanked by USC as Todd Boeckman threw a couple horrific interceptions and made it clear that the OSU offense was more of a liability than a threat while he was in the game, thus ushering in the Terrelle Pryor era? That's pretty much what happened Saturday night in Miami. Joe Bauserman was the suckiest suck who's ever sucked -- he went 2 for 14 (!) for 13 yards -- and has been discarded in favor of true freshman Braxton Miller, who wasn't much better in garbage time against Miami (2 for 4 for 22 yards and a pick) but at least represents hope for the future, just like Pryor did in '08. What's interesting is that after Colorado, Ohio State has arguably its four toughest games of the season lined up back to back to back to back. Asking Miller to improve enough in one week that he can carry the offense against Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin is bordering on unrealistic -- there's just no viable alternative.

E.J. Manuel questionable for Florida State: Since I don't have 120 staff members and therefore can't keep up with injury reports, this is one of the few times all season you'll see "Player X is questionable" as a headline-type thing on my blog. But this one's significant: Manuel took a pretty good shot last week against Oklahoma and has a sore throwing shoulder that might keep him out Saturday on the road against Clemson. The only alternative is freshman Clint Trickett, who came in late against OU and threw a ridiculously lucky touchdown pass into double coverage and finished 7 for 15 with the touchdown and a pick. He also got some mostly irrelevant garbage-time experience in the first two games. If he starts, I expect the FSU offense to be much more ground-oriented and probably OK but not super effective. I don't think it'll matter since Florida State's defense is really good, but (a) it's on the road in Death Valley and (b) Tajh Boyd doesn't exactly suck. I'm boosting my Upset Alert Meter from 4 to 7.

West Virginia trying unsuccessfully
to be less West Virginia: There are many things that differentiate me from the people in West Virginia. Among the obvious: When I think "WOOOO WHAT A GREAT WIN," my next thought isn't "LET'S BURN STUFF OH YA GET THE MATCHES."

Officials ordered West Virginia University students to remove couches and other flammable items from lawns and porches in hopes of putting a stop to the local tradition of setting celebratory fires after big football victories, the Charleston Daily Mail reported Thursday.

The order from the city of Morgantown requires all residents to remove any furniture, construction materials, debris and other combustible materials from porches, balconies or lawns, according to the report.
I was gonna make a joke here, but this guy makes it for me:
"I just can't see it putting a stop to people's desire to burn," junior Mark Kookan told the Daily Mail. "It might hide things to burn, but I feel that if I see someone burning something, I want to be a part of that."
I have nothing to add.

Why I love Smart Football: Chris Brown is awesome because his West Virginia-LSU preview for Grantland doesn't consist of 500 words about which team wants it more and instead breaks down -- in ridiculously explanatory fashion -- what makes the Dana Holgorsen offense so effective/dangerous and how LSU will try to defend it.

A few particularly interesting excerpts (I highly recommend the full version):

Holgorsen's version gives a few different looks to the defense. Namely, the running back to the quarterback's right goes in "early" motion just before the snap to the left, while the runner to the quarterback's left fakes a run. The quarterback's job is to sell the play-action fake to hold the safeties and linebackers — and to hopefully get a bigger play. The traditional Y-Cross has big-play potential but is really a ball-control play. In Holgorsen's offense, there are ball-control passes and kill-shots, and with this one, he'll settle for ball control but he's looking for the kill.

Take this play and its built-in adjustments, multiply it across 10 or 15 other plays, and there's Holgorsen's offense: Simple, heavily practiced, and adaptable. ... This aspect is very similar to the Mumme/Leach Air Raid, but the Holgorsen system has its differences. Leach's offense was dynamic, but often felt like death by a million shallow crosses — short, crossing patterns by receivers running in various directions. But all those quick, breaking routes can give away the play's intention. If a receiver breaks for a shallow within his first or second step, the defense can adapt to the play by double-covering other receivers. On the other hand, if every pass play looks the same — the receivers begin almost all plays by running vertically up the field — then the defense has nothing to key, and the likely result will be an open receiver. The biggest change Holgorsen made to the Air Raid playbook has been to eschew the shallow crosses (he still uses them sometimes, but mostly as adjustments) in favor of routes that push downfield. ...

In pattern-matching zones, there are four levels of priority: (1) hot, (2) seam, (3) curl, and (4) flat. The first step refers to a "hot" or quick read by the quarterback. With this, the defender is reading the quarterback's drop — if the quarterback takes a quick drop (three steps from under center or one step from the shotgun), the defender expects a quick throw to the inside receiver at five or six yards. Indeed, one of Holgorsen's favorite plays is the "stick concept," which has the slot receiver run six yards downfield and turn around to face the quarterback for a quick hit. If the quarterback takes a deeper drop, the defender moves to the rest of his decision tree. One of the deadliest plays for a defense like fire zone, with a single deep safety, is four verticals, where four receivers run straight downfield looking for the ball. While the play may look like the offense just decided to go "bombs away," it's far more nuanced. ...

One final point to make about the fire zone blitz is that it is not meant to be overwhelming. The goal of an old-fashioned "bring the house" blitz is to flood the offense with more pass-rushers than they have blockers. A zone blitz sends only five rushers, and most offenses have at least five players in pass protection, so a zone blitz can't overpower an offense through numbers alone. Instead, it's designed to work against the protection scheme, either by confusing the blocking assignments, overloading a particular side, or simply by getting a good matchup. It's this last possibility LSU's Chavis seems most likely to exploit, specifically by forcing one of West Virginia's diminutive running backs to step up and block a future NFL linebacker.

Ohio players are way too easily excited: Srsly. I know black jerseys are totally The Coolest Thing Ever This Year, but they're jerseys.

Quick "pick your favorite celebration" poll:
  1. The guy running back and forth across (and then out of) the video room at 2:00.
  2. The guy rolling around on the floor rubbing the jersey all over his body at 2:23.
  3. The guy calling his dad like he just won the lottery at 3:25.
Those seem like the totally reasonable reactions of not-insane people.

Speaking of insane people: Kyle Turley has been insane for a long time. Fortunately, that insanity allows me to laugh at his ridiculous level of ANGAR toward Brady Hoke, who was brazen enough to leave San Diego State (Turley's alma mater) for Michigan, which Hoke acknowledged was his dream job way back in his hiring interview with San Diego State.

This was Turley's "them's fightin' words" statement back in January ...
"I hope you lose every damn game. That was a b.s. move, brother, and you know it."
... and this is the most recent ridiculousness:

"It was just a shame to see a guy who brought a program like San Diego State back to the level it was when I left (in 1997) ... and you just up and leave a program when you're right at the point where you can take a stronghold in southern California. And at the first chance I get for my dream job, I'm going to take it, as if it's not going to be there again.

"So I'm just looking forward to Saturday and karma playing its role in this game. ... Maybe that dream job will become his worst nightmare."

Lol wut? I envision Kyle Turley being an easily baffled/angered person. Ease up on the 'roids, dude.

Random statistical tidbit of the day: Marcus Lattimore is leading the country with 29 rushing attempts per game, which is crazy because Steve Spurrier is Steve Spurrier. What's even crazier is that if Lattimore keeps up that pace, he would finish with (assuming South Carolina plays in the SEC title game) a ridiculous 406 carries ... and that wouldn't even come close to the all-time single-season record. All the way back in the olden days of 2007, Kevin Smith at Central Florida had 450 carries (!!!) in 14 games. I'll do the math for you: That's 32.1 per game. He also had 2,567 yards and 29 touchdowns, which kinda explains why he got 450 carries.


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