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 it...rugby.
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.
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.