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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Don Nehlen Football

The Cardinal pulled a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde Saturday v. Arizona State.  Going up 29-0 at the half there appeared nothing Stanford could not do:  run, pass, return kicks, kick covereage, run defense, pass defense.  You name it.

Now, to be fair, ASU made some mental errors, like dropped passes, that really hurt.  And Stanford pulled out some new formations and some tricky plays that really put ASU on their heels.  Thus played out a most impressive first half for the Cardinal.

The fourth quarter was a total mystery to me.  Coach David Shaw's post-game reaction was as lame as the team's performance that fifteen minutes.  It was truly painful watching Arizona State finally get it together and start putting together some big plays and post 21 points sandwiched around two Stanford three-and-outs.  For those series, Shaw put in reserve QB Evan Crower -- who many say has a great arm and just as great a future ahead at Stanford -- and promptly shelved his game plan.  He had Crower hand off up the middle on six consecutive snaps.  Because the Cardinal lined up in their packed muscle formation, everyone knew it was coming.  Including the Sun Devils.  To no one's surprise, ASU stuffed them.

Now about Shaw's reaction.   He was clearly defensive when the question came up from a very timid radio post game interviewer. Blaming his players, Shaw said his charges didn't execute as expected in the fourth quarter.  Oh, please.  You have to have something to work with first, reference: the play calls. On defense he had a point.  They just didn't get it done in the fourth.  But because Shaw packed up the offense, the defense found themselves on the field all the time, and fatigue had to be a factor.  But you have to give ASU some credit.  To quote a response to Joe Paterno's carping some fifty years ago, "Hey, c'mon Joe, the other team has some good players, too!"  (My Dad knew a fellow assistant coach of Paterno's.  A good story.)

All in all, Shaw's poor decisions let his team down.  Reminds me of another coach who really had a way with bad decisions.  He was fired from Bowling Green State University for it and subsequently served some years as an assistant to Bo Schembechler at Michigan.  There he learned from the master and, older, wiser and better, went on to great success at West Virginia.

Don Nehlen football.  We don't need that at Stanford.

Utah v. BYU

What is it with referees and the god schools (BYU and Notre Dame)?  I saw some incredibly bad calls by the refs, all in the fourth quarter, that handed BYU numerous opportunities to pull out the game vs. Utah.  They even overturned a pass interference penalty against the Cougars.  When have you ever seen that one?  Replays showed the refs were clearly wrong in their replay assessment.

ESPN Talking Head
Former U-Dub QB Brock Huard is now a color commentator on ESPN.  He's gotta be one of the best I've seen.  This guy has it all.  He's smart and knowledgeable, and also has the voice and the looks for TV.  I remember sitting a few rows behind him when he was still a blemish-faced high school recruit out of Puyallup attending a UW game while his older brother, Damon, was at the helm for the Dawgies. Brock eventually QB'd the Huskies and went on to the NFL with the Seahawks and Colts.     

Qwik Thots
  • I've never gotten fully comfortable with those one color uniforms.  Particularly red ones.  I still think they look like pajamas. 
  •  From the "Are You Stoned or Something" files:  Why is Notre Dame called the Irish?  It's French.  Yeah, I get the Irish Catholic thing.  But it's namesake is the home of Quasimodo for crying out loud.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Futbol Thots is back up and running for 2013. Let's start off with general musings about trends in the game.

Up Tempo Offense
This latest fad in college football offense, popularized by Oregon, I believe, has swept the country.  I still can't shake the feeling that its just too gimmicky.  Yeah, keep the defense from situational substitutions on each play, tire out the defense.  I get all that.  But it seems to me that, taken to the hurry-up extremes of some teams, its just a bush league trick to get the play off before the other team is ready.  Funny, though, how the no-huddle makes the game more like its root game rugby.

Helmet No-Hit Rules
This is one change I have welcomed.  Some folks have said its taking the toughness out of football.  Well, just tell that to the guys who played with little padding three generations ago.  No, the new rules are welcome.  Using the body as a helmet-tipped missile is dangerous for both tackler and the tackled.  It's only modern equipment that made them possible and it took football in a direction it was never meant to go.  No intentional helmet-to-helmet contact, no helmet-first into the chest or chin on a vulnerable opponent.

I saw a couple of instances this past weekend of tacklers who opted for a solid wrap-up tackle instead of a missile hit.  Not only is the change doable, it's also a good idea.  It's what we used to do when we tackled without protective equipment.  It kind of pulls the game back to its roots.   Sorta like...wait for

The PAC is off to a good start this year, so far fulfilling expectations as being a premier conference.  The marquee game was UCLA executing a second-half dismantling of Nebraska.  Oregon looks scary, again.  But don't also forget that Cal, considered by some as possibly the worst team in the league, rolled up a ton of points on Ohio State, a team many expect to play for the national championship.  

To Todd Graham, Arizona State head coach who gets on defensive coordinator Paul Randolph after watching one of his players excessively celebrate a tackle for a loss.
"Do we do that here?" he asks.
"No, sir," Randolph responds.
"We don't do that crap here," Graham barks. "Tell him to cut it out. Hold him accountable. Teach him."
Graham may be a "jar-head," but he's my kind of jar-head, at least in this case.

Most Overrated (so far)
Gotta be Notre Dame (yeah, big surprise there) and Northwestern.  ND usually gets an automatic berth in the ratings just by, well, being ND.  What's their resume so far?  Wins over powerhouse Temple and rival Michigan, then a squeaker against a Purdue team blown out by Cincinnati and barely got past Indiana State.

I watched Northwestern just get by (and get out-gained by) Cal in the opener for both teams in Berkeley.  They got past Syracuse on four-turnovers and then beat Western Michigan, an 0-3 team that was knocked off by Nicholls State.  They have Maine up next, so one more week in the rankings.  After that it's Ohio State and Wisconsin.  They'll drop from the rankings, never to be seen again.

Some Fun
Now this is something you don't see everyday.  Stanford reserve safety, Joe Flacco, had a most excellent adventure during his team's visit to West Point v. the Black Knights of Army.