Rankings and Such

September 26, 2006

Now that we’re a few weeks into the season, the rankings start to be more meaningful. For instance, Cal was probably a bit overrated at the beginning of the season, but then likely fell too far after losing to a highly motivated Tennessee team. Louisville has shown that it has a legitimate case for being a top-10 team. The ACC teams have shown that they all were vastly overrated.

And yet, we still don’t know how good some of these teams are. How good is Tennessee? Can you really say? And by extension of that, can you really say how good Florida is yet? Tennessee is really the only point of reference. Virginia Tech is lurking at the edge of the top-10, but they’ve played no one yet.

The top five of Ohio State, Auburn, USC, West Virginia, and Florida, with only the order of AU and USC in dispute. The Harris Poll, which replaced the AP poll in the BCS and doesn’t come out until week 5, has Michigan fifth and Florida at sixth. The Master Coaches Survey, which I mentioned last week, bumped Florida down to sixth and Michigan up to fifth. That’s fair, because Florida struggled with Kentucky and as I said, we can’t say for sure how good the Gators are yet. Plus, Michigan and Ohio State play each other so I’m not that worried.

I’m really not that concerned about any of these polls, really. Coming into this season, I wasn’t thinking about a national championship. This actually puts me in conflict with more and more Gator fans, as I’m finding. Florida hasn’t even won the SEC since 2000, also the last time we won the East. My attitude was win the SEC East, take our chances in Atlanta, and see if we can get to the BCS again.

If we win the East and go to the BCS, that will be a great launching pad for the next few years under Urban Meyer. Next year, it will be mostly his team, and in two years, all of the Zook recruits will be gone. Winning the division and possibly the conference will go a long way to establishing Meyer as a solid winner and not just a mid-major champion.

While I do question some of the things they do (running a reverse to the left from the left hash comes to mind), Meyer and Dan Mullen have been to more BCS games in the last five years than anyone at Florida has. The national championship? That’d be awesome, and just as great of a story as the basketball team was last season. However, let’s just win the East first.

You know what? Forget that. Let’s just beat Alabama on Saturday first. Then we’ll worry about anything more.

Side note: Steve Young on post-MNF SportsCenter just said that double reverses are “what the University of Florida runs,” not what NFL teams usually do. Touché. But what a win for the Saints. Just a huge game for the city. I visited there three years ago with the band for the LSU game (when Florida beat the Tigers for their only loss that year when they won the national title), and the atmosphere was amazing. I loved it. America needs New Orleans, and this is a baby step towards restoring things. The Saints look legit, too.

Monday Coverage

September 25, 2006

Aside from those who are specifically assigned to covering Florida, no one seems to be paying much attention to Boo-gate 2006. And that’s a good thing. There’s no good that can come of dwelling on it, so this is the last I’ll say about it.

ESPN.com’s College Football Final doesn’t even mention Florida except a brief bit about Tebow in a section on highly-touted freshman quarterbacks and their struggles. On SI.com, it gets a Quick Hit and a mention on Stewart Mandel’s blog. Foxsports.com doesn’t even have Florida in any of its wrap-up coverage, netiher does SportingNews.com, and Sportsline has no mention of it in writing or on its video with Tim Brando.

The Gainesville Sun had its say, and it went as expected. The articles in the Alligator predictably went 2-1 in favor of Tebow, with one defense of Leak, the simple writeup of the game calling Tebow “superhuman,” and a glowing report on Tebow’s play. It figures since most of the booing came from students.

The current generation of Florida students, of which I am a part, grew up watching Steve Spurrier run roughshod over the SEC and be in national title contention more often than not. It more or less thinks that the natural state of Gator football is to be at the top, and that Ron Zook merely held it down for three years. Now that he’s gone, its expectations to win every game by 30 return. It looks at football as a great excuse to tailgate and get hammered, and it focuses on that because it’s already a foregone conclusion that we should rule the college football world. It always gets caught by surprise when reality hits.
I know that it’s not just students who think that, but that’s where most of the cries for Tebow come from. They started the Tebow chants in the first couple of games, and led the way with the boos on Saturday. They don’t have perspective. For instance, Alabama has won 12 national titles, more than any other school, and they come into the Swamp on Saturday unranked. It’s not anyone’s natural state to dominate. That’s hard, and it doesn’t come easy. What I can also tell you is that freshman quarterbacks seldom dominate.

Tebow appearing against Kentucky was like a flamethrowing reliever following a crafty curveball pitcher. They’re both good but in different ways, and throwing 100 mph on the gun always gets more attention than the nuances of mixing curves, sliders, and changeups. That is not so say that Leak has a weak arm or anything; the analogy on goes so far. Leak is still statistically one of the best passers in the country.

Now trust me, like my fellow students I want to see us win by 50 every game. It’s more exciting that way and more fun. Still, I appreciate the way the coaches are getting ready for the next four games. We could go 4-0, we could go 1-3. There’s no way to tell right now, though I do think that people are overreacting to the messy play on Saturday. Every team has games where they come out and fall flat, and Florida still won by three touchdowns.

I trust the veterans to show up for the big games, because they have given me no reason to think they won’t this year. I trust the coaches to get the team ready for big games, because they are undefeated in the state of Florida and have won all their rivalry games. The team is definitely improved from last year. We’ll find out these next four weeks by how much.

Off-Topic: Chris Simms

September 24, 2006

This has nothing to do with the Gators, but the Bucs are my favorite NFL team. Forgive me, but this is too weird not to say something.

Chris Simms had his spleen removed today after having it rupture against the Panthers today. Now, I am not now nor have I ever been a Chris Simms fan, but I certainly don’t want to see this. He’s basically done for the season since he’ll be out 2 – 3 months. The Bucs aren’t going to the playoffs after starting 0-3, so I think they should keep Simms out even if cleared to play for say, Week 14 or 15, just to make sure that he fully recovers from this.

Based on what happened today, Bruce Gradkowski will become the starter over Tim Rattay. I think Gradkowski is going to be fine too. He won’t be anchoring anyone’s fantasy team, but he’ll be solid. I don’t think he’ll be like Ben Roethlisberger coming out of the MAC (Gradkowski went to Toledo), but I like his chances of staying poised at the end of games more than I like Simms’ chances.

Anyway you look at it, this was a bad day for the Bucs. They lose on a last-second field goal to fall out of the playoff race after just three games, and the starting quarterback ruptured his spleen in the process. You just have to wonder when Jon Gruden will start falling into Larry Coker territory – on the hot seat because though he won a championship with someone else’s players, he hasn’t done anything since. At least they’ll get another high draft pick.

And So It Begins…

September 24, 2006

From the Trolling-For-Dollars Dept.

We get this gem from Jemele Hill of the Orlando Sentinel. To be honest, Hill started writing for the Sentinel after I started at UF, so I haven’t read much of her work. What I have seen has been good and informative. Until this. I’d have expected Mike Bianchi to write this, but not her.

Anyway, she takes UF fans to task for the boos last night. I’ve already done that so I don’t have a problem with that part of the column, though I think she misses that the fans for the most part were booing the coaches’ decision to pull Tebow, not the presence of Leak. In any event, it’s the end where it takes a turn for the worse.

She echoes the sentiment of a CBS Sportsline writer named Mike Freeman that Leak has been a punching bag at UF because it’s the South and Leak is black. The fans are down on the black starter, and want the white backup to be the savior.

To begin with, that’s crazy. Yes, there were racists in the crowd on Saturday. If you take any random set of 90,000 people on the planet, there will be racists of some type in that group. However, she must be forgetting 2003 when the UF fans were breathlessly pining for Leak to supplant Ingle Martin as starting quarterback. Martin is white. He ended up transferring to I-AA Furman where he played well, and he was a fifth round pick of the Packers in this year’s draft. There also were fans last year who wanted to see Josh Portis take away some of Leak’s snaps because of his running ability. Portis is black. He transferred to Maryland for a variety of reasons this offseason.

The booing only lasted about 2 seconds too, and it was only a small fraction of the people in attendance. It was like the thought process of the fans was:

  1. What? Tebow’s going out?
  2. Urban is an idiot for doing this! Tebow deserves to score after all that running!
  3. Boo!
  4. Oh crap, it looks like we’re booing Leak.
  5. Yay! Go Chris Leak!

Now, I know from people who were there that people were cursing Chris Leak’s name in the student section. In the alumni section where I sit with my folks, there were a few people who were booing the player, not the coaches too. However, the vast majority did their best to make up for the others. After a night of offensive frustration, people were excited to see Tebow run all over the field and they wanted to see him get a chance at the touchdown, not see the first team offense get more reps in the red zone. They were thinking about running up the score on Kentucky, not about what will get the team ready for the next four games.

Look, there will always be impatient jerks who either don’t understand that football is about the whole season, not just one game, or who are just too drunk to care. There are others who just want to see the Next Big Thing, regardless of what’s in place now. In Internet parlance, they are trolls: people looking more to stir up trouble to get their way than looking out for what’s best for the team.

Ms. Hill has now joined them. Playing the race card when it is clearly not applicable is a classic troll move. Hopefully people will figure out that there is no quarterback controversy among people who know what’s going on and I won’t have to read anymore ignorant opinion pieces like this. At least until I pick up tomorrow’s Alligator.

Kentucky – Florida Wrapup

September 24, 2006

This is quickly going to devolve into a Chris Leak versus Tim Tebow post, and I hate that it has to be, but I’m going to get everything else out of the way first. If all you care about is the quarterbacks, then just scroll down some.

There was a lot of bad football played today. Either games were blowouts, or they were just ugly. We saw it with Georgia earlier today against Colorado, and then with Florida at night. Teams were just not ready to play after last week’s big games. Even USC was terrible against Arizona tonight. The best two games were NC State’s dramatic win over Boston College (despite sucking badly at the beginning of the year, the Wolfpack is now 1-0 in conference play, so Chuck Amato has that for now) and Michigan State’s epic collapse against Notre Dame.

The stat sheet has DeShawn Wynn running for 104 yards on 14 carries, but I can’t for the life of me remember when all those yards happened. Not just Wynn, but all of the running backs need to work on protecting the ball. Dallas Baker was very impressive, and despite at least one first half drop, he was the player of the game I think. He was making big plays at the right times when momentum could have swung to the Wildcats. The offensive line looked just awful though. Everyone seemed to relax after the trick play touchdown, think that they’d walk all over Kentucky. The ‘Cats deserve credit for battling though.

It took Florida’s defense about two and a half quarters to wake up and be it’s normal self. I don’t know if it took them that long to get used to defensive line changes or what, but Kentucky was tearing them up with simple screen passes and draw plays.

The problem was in the game planning by the coaches. Florida kept blitzing with often just one safety to help the corners, who are still not any good. I think they thought they’d have to compensate for Marcus Thomas being out, but as we saw int he second half, Ray McDonald will be fine in there. They need to compensate for the cornerbacks, the weakest and thinnest position on the field, not defensive line, the strongest and deepest position on the field. Once they got their act together everything was as it should have been.

The offensive game plan at first was not that great either. For most of the first half, it seemed like they were trying to get the ball into specific players’ hands, rather than just hitting an open guy. As the coach has tried to tell people, the real Urban Meyer Offense™ is personnel-driven, where you get the ball to playmakers and let them run with it. In the hurry-up offense at the end of the half, it became a case of just getting the ball to anyone, rather than someone specific, and the offense clicked. Rather than worry about how many touches players get, they just need to worry about getting the ball to the open guy. Everyone’s dangerous enough this year that it doesn’t matter a whole lot.

I will say that it also was a classic D- performance by the SEC referees. They were in rare form tonight. Both teams got shafted at various times, and the back judge appeared to be incapable of calling pass interference on anyone. Before tonight, I had never seen illegal motion (a before-the-snap infraction) flagged after a play had been run and blown dead. They probably won’t get reprimanded since they didn’t alter the inevitable outcome of the game, but they need to get their act together before they screw up a competitive game.

Okay, now the quarterbacks. Chris Leak was not at his sharpest this week, but he did throw for 268 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. While he wasn’t always clicking, let’s face it: no one was for Florida tonight. Only Baker and Wynn seem to me to grade out for Urban Meyer’s Champion’s Club for this week. ESPN.com did name Leak the player of the game, and says that he helped pad his stats with the game. He did what he needed to, and they got the win. He’s won 5 straight rivalry games, and hasn’t lost in the Swamp since October 9, 2004 (a span of 11 games). I’m not sure what else people want out of him with the inconsistent running game and defense over the past couple of years. He has never played behind a good enough line for him to sit back and pick apart defenses like a Rex Grossman or Danny Wuerffel, yet he’s on his way to breaking several school passing records this year.

Tim Tebow is certainly electric though. His long runs energized the crowd and got it buzzing. However, when you read coverage of this game or hear people talk about it, you’ll find two groups of people: those who watched the LSU-Auburn game and understood what happened, and those that watched and didn’t understand or didn’t see it.

Auburn and LSU have linebackers just as big as Tebow is. They have defensive linemen about as fast as Tebow is. They have safeties who don’t whiff when helping out on the run. In short, Tebow is not going run all over them like he did against Kentucky. He probably won’t against Alabama or Georgia either. No one will though, not Harvin, not Wynn, not Moore, not Brandon James, not Cornelius, Caldwell, Ingram, or anyone. Those defenses are just too good for that. If Florida gets 300 yards against either LSU or Auburn, it will be an accomplishment. If they get 500 yards combined in those games it will be an accomplishment. If anyone out there thinks that Tebow should start or even play significant minutes in the next four games, then they just don’t understand how good SEC defenses are.

Leak is going to get sacked a lot in the next four weeks. Wynn and Moore will get stuffed a lot in the next four weeks. Harvin and Caldwell will get tackled for losses on reverses. It’s all going to happen frequently. Get used to it. The SEC is a big boy’s league, and no one is going to rack up yards and points on these teams. Leak has been there before. He’s played in tough road settings. He’s seen these kinds of defenses. Tennessee is better than last year, but let’s face it: they couldn’t stop Tebow from picking up first downs when even Smokey knew he was running a quarterback draw. It’s always great to beat UT, but they’re nothing compared to what’s coming. This Gator team needs to lean on its seniors again, and it will have to be Leak, Baker, and Wynn leading the way on offense if they want to win.

Now, I like Tim Tebow. He seems like a great guy. His enthusiasm is refreshing. He’s a tremendously gifted running back. He still can’t throw it though. He also has little experience. He will come up with some big plays in the next month, but can he do it consistently? Freshman players always have games where they implode beyond repair for that game. Matthew Stafford had his today. If Joe Cox takes over the starting role for Georgia, he’ll have his too. Arkansas’ Mitch Mustain will have one too. Same with Alabama’s John Parker Wilson. It always happens, and Tebow’s turn will come. Senior quarterbacks have a much better track record in that regard, and that’s why there is no question that Chris Leak is as firmly in the starter spot as he has been all season.

Now yes, the fans momentarily booed when Leak replaced Tebow in the red zone after Tebow’s series of long runs. They quickly turned to cheers though, as if they were booing the removal of Tebow but still supporting Leak. I can’t blame them for feeling that way with Tebow adding some much-needed excitement to the game, but you can’t boo in that situation. The crowd tried to make up for it the rest of the game by cheering more than they had all game for Leak and starting “Leak for Heisman” chants in the student section.

I’d imagine most people didn’t understand why Meyer pulled Tebow there. If you stop though, it does make sense. The first team offense needed to practice running red zone plays, and that includes the starting quarterback. This game was not about how many points can we run up on Kentucky; if the coaches wanted to, they could have scored 50, but that wouldn’t have helped a whole lot to get ready for the next four games. With apologies to Kentucky, this was a glorified practice session for Florida.

I wish I could leave it at this. This won’t be the end of it though. I fully expect more of the same from the Alligator as I wrote about in my “Blown Coverage” post from last week. I would hope Pat Dooley will be on top of this, and I really would expect him to be. I have no idea what any of the major online pundits will say, but it’s likely someone will try to stir up trouble.

Is the Gator Nation divided on this issue? Yes, somewhat, but most of the really devoted fans I know will know how properly to evaluate this game, even if not initially. There definitely is no controversy in the team or coaching staff, and that’s really what matters. Urban and his staff know better than any of us on the outside what’s going on at practice, in the locker room, and on the field of the Swamp. There’s no time for trying to play up something that doesn’t exist.

Alabama is coming on Saturday. Yes, they lost to Arkansas, but only because of a complete meltdown by their kicker. Alabama’s offense might be back to being Mike Shula-as-Tampa-Bay-offensive-coordinator bad, but the defense is still stout. Bama has been unranked all season for a reason, but they still are going to play tough for all 60 minutes. They understand the revenge angle for UF after running it up on the Gators last year, and they’re not afraid of playing on the road.

Possibly the toughest four game stretch in team history is about to start. If Florida even goes 2-2, as long as one of the wins is over Georgia, then they’re set up nicely for going to Atlanta in December. It’s going to be a great test for this team. We will find out what they’re really made of, how tough they are when faced with major adversity. I can’t wait.

Oh Georgia

September 23, 2006

What a comeback. After stinking up the stadium worse than Uga after eating a bowl of baked beans, Georgia took the lead with under a minute to play on Joe Cox’s second touchdown pass. Matt Stafford looked terrible, and Georgia had no choice but to put in Cox to try to get a spark, as the LF Sports announcers kept saying. While the play calling got a lot more aggressive with Cox in the game, Cox should get a lot of credit for playing very well.

Colorado should have won this game, and is now kicking itself for missed opportunities in the first half. The better team usually wins games, and when you’re not the better team you have to capitalize on every chance you get.

I feel bad for Colorado, but not too bad since a loss would have embarrassed the SEC. Dan Hawkins played there last year with Boise State, so he knew what it would take to win there. Colorado is not as bad as its first game would suggest. Hawkins is a good coach, and there is still talent there. None of the Buffaloes’ four losses is in-conference, so they still could win the Big XII North.

The big news here is Georgia. They need Joe Tereshinski III more than the fans want to admit. They wanted Matthew Stafford, and they got him, and he almost got them a catastrophically bad home loss. Now, they have a controversy again with Cox saving the day today.

This was Georgia’s game where they come out flat and not ready to play (like most every team has every year) and they still came out with a win. The defense is still good too. The offense won’t be scaring anyone though, and that means the team as a whole won’t either. Things are definitely looking up for Florida in the SEC East.

Kentucky – Florida Preview

September 23, 2006

No running accounts of games today because I’ve got things to do and my left thumb was really sore after last week. It was listed as questionable earlier in the week, but was upgraded to probable yesterday, but we’re keeping it to limited action today. After all, it’s just Kentucky.

This game actually pits two quarterbacks who are number one and tied for number two in touchdown passes. Chris Leak comes in leading the nation with 10 TD passes (yes Tebow fans, you read that right) and UK’s Andre Woodson is tied for second with nine.

Kentucky fans were ready to fire Rich Brooks in the offseason after just two years, but he’s got things looking up this year. They won their SEC opener for the first time since the ’80s after beating Ole Miss. The offense looks pretty good, even at times during their blowout loss to Louisville. They look better than Vandy for sure, and maybe even South Carolina with how bad the Gamecocks have been. They still have Central Michigan, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Vandy, and Louisiana-Monroe left on the schedule, and if the Cats can go 4-1 in those games they they’re 6-6 and probably at the Music City Bowl or Liberty Bowl. That’s an awfully good season for them.

Still, it’s Kentucky. I know they have a pulse this year, but not much more than that. Florida has won 19 consecutive games. That includes when UK had a 21-3 lead late in the second half in Lexington, and in the early ’90s when Florida committed seven (!) turnovers and still won. This series also produced the “Doering’s Got a Touchdown!” game. Urban Meyer’s offense that struggle to get 3 points against Bama last year looked like the 1999 St. Louis Rams against Kentucky last year. There’s no way Florida loses this game.

The only questions are regarding how much playing time players get. Will they keep feeding DeShawn Wynn to see if he can put two weeks in a row together, or rest him up for the Bama game? How much will Percy Harvin play? Hopefully, as little as possible so he’s fresh and ready for next week. How much will Leak play before Tebow comes in for some work? Probably at least some into the third quarter and long enough to get 3 or 4 more touchdown passes.

This is also a chance for the defensive line to get adjusted to life without Marcus Thomas. I think it will be fine, not just today but in future games too with how much depth Florida has at the position. I still am disappointed in Marcus, but it’s better he learns his lessons now while he has a college family that will be supportive rather than an NFL team that will simply cut him.

This game will also give some more insight into Urban Meyer the coach, not only in how he manages playing time but also in how well the team plays. There’s no reason to win by fewer than 20 or 30, but will the be looking ahead to the tough stretch ahead? I think probably not since there was no looking ahead to Tennessee in the UCF game. I say the Gators win comfortably, and the game will be out of hand by halftime.

As a side note, Georgia looks terrible against Colorado. Matt Stafford looks every bit the freshman he is, the receivers are dropping passes left and right, and the Bulldog defense is startlingly porous. There’s a lot of time to go, but it should be worse that the 10-0 halftime score if not for a Colorado field goal having been blocked and the Buffaloes committing a false start on 4th and inches deep in Georgia territory. This would be a really, really bad loss for Georgia.

Week 4 Preview

September 23, 2006

GameDay had a nice piece on Chris Leak on how things have changed from last year. He’s running the offense, not learning on the field anymore. In addition he attended the Manning quarterback camp and got a lot of advice from Archie Manning. He then did a demonstration on how to deal with a corner blitz with Dallas Baker and Desmond Howard. It then sounded like the Ohio State fans chanted overrated about the Gators, but I couldn’t hear it that well and I have no idea why the fans of the number one team would chant “overrated” at someone. I think it may have been more a thing against Howard for daring to attend a rival school.

Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit then defended Leak and said what I have been: there’s no reason to be clamoring for Tim Tebow to start. There’s the stat about beating rivals that Dave Revsine brought up that I just mentioned, plus Leak is a senior leader. The worst excuse that I’ve heard as to why Tebow should start is that he looked good in the Orange and Blue Game. Well, everyone looks good in the Orange and Blue Game. It’s like the NBA summer league. If you look good it doesn’t say anything, but if you look bad, that’s really bad. St. Timothy is going to be great in time, but this is Leak’s team and Leak’s year.

* * *

I like to look at stats because I am an analytical type. Right now, Florida is 11th in total offense and 13th in total defense. Total offense and defense has to do with how many yards you gain and how many you give up. I decided to look at teams’ average ranking in these two categories to see how they stack up so far. I looked at only the top twenty teams in each category because I’m only looking for the top teams right now. Withholding comment on the meaning of the list right now, here is the top twenty in average ranking in total offense and defense:

  1. Missouri: 5th in Offense/2nd in Defense – 3.5 Average
  2. Florida: 11/13 – 12
  3. LSU: 23/1 – 12
  4. Texas: 26/6 – 16
  5. Connecticut: 12/24 – 18
  6. Southern Cal: 15/22 – 18.5
  7. Louisville: 1/37 – 19
  8. UCLA: 24/15 – 19.5
  9. Texas A&M: 22/18 – 20
  10. New Mexico State: 2/41 – 21.5
  11. West Virginia: 4/39 – 21.5
  12. Houston: 6/40 – 23
  13. Tulsa: 27/20 – 23.5
  14. Arizona State: 13/38 – 25.5
  15. Oklahoma State: 32/19 – 25.5
  16. Utah: 34/17 – 25.5
  17. Michigan State: 3/49 – 26
  18. Boise State: 52/4 – 28
  19. Michigan: 48/9 – 28.5
  20. Ohio State: 18/48 – 32

I have not posted 21 – 38 of my list here for sake of space.

This is not that meaningful yet because there’s only a sample size of at most three games for each team. It also does not tell how good a team is, but rather how good the combination of how its offense is against its competition’s defenses and how good its defense is against its competition’s offenses. It assumes that yardage is an accurate measure of how well each unit does. It penalizes bend-but-don’t-break defenses and rewards high-powered offenses. Still, if you consider two teams’ collective opponents to be about equal, it’s a way to compare the teams objectively.

Missouri and Florida are the only two teams on the top twenty in both categories, and that’s reflected in them being in the top. LSU is tied with Florida at two, which is interesting. LSU is at 23rd in offense, which shows what that Auburn defense did to them after two 45-3 wins. Auburn, incidentally, is 21st in defense and 60th in offense, for a 40.5 average. Weird things happen with this list early on, with New Mexico State, Houston, and Tulsa showing up.

This list is susceptible to teams with bad schedules showing up high. When teams with tough schedules show up, it really validates them as excellent teams. That looks good for Florida, having played two of the better C-USA teams and Tennessee. Of course, we have no idea how good UT is. I’ll probably revisit this later in the year after a few more games.

Interestingly, when you average the position of all of the top twenty in both categories, you get 32.45 in offense and 32.92 in defense. That’s pretty remarkable when the list includes Colorado State, who is 101st in offense, and Northern Illinois and Purdue, who are 112th and 100th in defense, respectively.

Finally, most people assume that when teams have good offenses, they usually don’t have a good defense and vice versa. Well, the average difference between teams’ offensive and defensive rankings is 44.21, showing that there seems to be a degree of truth in that in this list. When you average offensive minus defensive rank for these teams, you get -0.47. That means that collectively, these teams are a wash on offense and defense, and we saw that with the average rankings for all of them. It makes sense, because if you look at all of the teams then offense and defense will exactly cancel each other out (if you throw out games against I-AA teams) but it appears that when you look at the top of each category, they cancel each other out too.

* * *

There are not many good games today. It’s a Big 10 showcase, with Penn State-Ohio State, Wisconsin-Michigan, and Notre Dame-Michigan State being the headliners. Colorado-Georgia is looking a lot better now than it did before the game. But still, when ESPN picks up Kentucky-Florida for its prime time game, you know there’s not a whole lot going on.

* * *

An interesting poll that was started recently is the Master Coaches Survey. It polls former coaches who have a chance to watch all of the games and make informed choices, unlike the coaches poll used in the BCS. There’s a lot of big names and good football minds on the list, including Vince Dooley, Pat Dye, LaVell Edwards, Bo Schembechler, and Gene Stallings. I won’t reprint the full list or poll here since you can just visit the site and see it, but it is not that different from the other polls right now. That will change though. For the record, Florida is fifth.

The nice thing about it is that it’s open. You get to see every ballot every week. They also publish commentaries from some of the coaches and now have “PollCasts” featuring audio comments as well. I don’t always agree with it, but I don’t have nearly the experience or credibility that these coaches do, so there you go.

A Couple of Things

September 23, 2006

Here’s a couple of random thoughts before GameDay comes on.

It’s hard for me to watch what’s happening to Colorado. You see, I enjoy rooting for Boise State for a number of reasons (their offensive style, they use orange and blue, the blue turf) and I really thought that Dan Hawkins would do better off the bat with the Buffs. It turns out that Colorado in Gary Barnett’s last days was a lot like Mississippi State during the end of the Jackie Sherrill reign: rotten from the inside and ready to collapse. Now, MSU is in worse shape than Colorado if for no other reason than it’s in the brutally tough SEC rather than the soft Big XII North.

It really goes to show that there may be something to staying at a top-tier “mid-major” school and bringing it to prominence. Dirk Koetter, the BSU coach before Hawkins, has not exactly set the world on fire since starting there in 2001 and frequently is mentioned as being on the hot seat. Hawkins probably should have gone to a better situation than the mess at Colorado. Meanwhile, Boise has not missed a beat under Chris Petersen, most notably destroying Oregon State 42-14 a couple of weeks ago. Now, if they can beat Fresno State at home (where Broncos have only two losses since 1999) they will likely be undefeated at season’s end and perhaps fighting TCU for a BCS bid.

Aside from Boise’s big loss at Georgia last year, the team has played well in recent years. It has beaten Pac 10 teams on a regular basis. If the program could become a consistent winner, who knows, it might get an invite to be the 11th team in the Pac 10 similar to how Penn State became the 11th team in the Big 10. I’d say that Boise State is already better than Washington, Washington State, Stanford, Oregon State, and Arizona. It also could probably beat Arizona State and UCLA fairly regularly. Potentially that’s a third-place finish in the Pac 10.

That is why I don’t know why Boise State coaches seem to want to get out of there. Of course, BCS programs pay more, and there is the disadvantage in being in Boise, Idaho (not exactly LA when pitching to recruits). However, Bill Snyder consistently put a winner on the field in Manhattan, Kansas. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the Pac 10 would ever invite Boise State to join. Still, George O’Leary seems to be content to build up UCF into a national power, and the right coach could do the same for Boise State. Heck, Boise State is already a national power to a degree in that it gets ranked for some time every year. Maybe Petersen is the guy, unless he chases dollars at someplace like Stanford where is paycheck increases, but job security and satisfaction plummet.

In Gator news, Dave Revsine points out that Chris Leak has won five straight games against Florida’s big three rivals (FSU, Tennessee, and Georgia) dating back to the Ron Zook Field game. The only other Gator QB to do that was Danny Wuerffel, some of whose records are in jeopardy of being broken by Leak. It’s looking likely that Leak will extend that to six straight and possibly seven since Georgia is playing a freshman quarterback and Florida just finds ways to beat Georgia every year, and FSU looks like a train wreck. Some of that credit also should go to Urban Meyer for putting together great game plans for those rivalry games (even if his Alabama and LSU game plans in the past leave something to be desired).

Urban also says that Percy Harvin will see limited playing time, in the neighborhood of 10-15 plays. I’d rather see him sit the game out since there’s no possible way we’re losing to Kentucky, but Urban is on his “Are we a tough team?” kick, tough guys play through pain. I just don’t want to see Harvin reaggravate the injury against the Wildcats and lose him for the important stretch of the season, like how Alabama lost Tyrone Prothro last year in the fourth quarter of a blowout. Marcus Thomas is already out, let’s not lose Harvin too.


September 23, 2006

A good catch by my brother. He’s in Orlando, and sometimes listens to Terry Bowden’s unintentionally funny radio show on the ESPN affiliate down there. He apparently said that there are people who want him to go coach Miami. He also said that if he did, he’d take Jeff Bowden away from FSU to be the receivers coach to make both programs better.

Certainly Jeff is a problem up in Tallahassee. So is Lorenslow (or is it Slowrenzo?) Booker. And probably Drew Weatherford. And a lot of guys. Most of all, it’s Bobby’s fault for leaving his overmatched son in the offensive coordinator’s job for too long, and for slipping on recruiting. FSU used to have the best atheletes in the nation. Now, they probably would be outrun by Louisville or West Virginia on both sides of the ball. They’d go 5-6 in the SEC like Tennessee did last year. So would Miami, probably. As for Terry at Miami, please. These people are joking, right?

As I had predicted last Saturday, Tommy Bowden got some more charity from Bobby in their game last week. Tommy Boy can do some recruiting (see C.J. Spiller) and always wins just enough games to keep his job. He’ll never top his undefeated season at Tulane with Shaun King, but he at least plays in one of the weaker BCS leagues. Clemson might win the division not for being good, but for not being pitiful. If FSU can win the ACC with three conference losses, so could Clemson.

Maybe FSU can get rid of Jeff by sending him off to replace Chuck Amato at NC State. Maybe Terry could put together two straight coherent hours on the radio. Maybe Bobby could learn the names of his players. Or maybe that’s waaaay too much about Bowdens for one sitting.


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