Looking Back and Forward

October 29, 2007

I was stunned after Auburn; I was disappointed after LSU; I was angry after Georgia.

For one, Mark Richt should have been tossed from the game for having his whole team rush the field. Not suspended or fined after the fact, just thrown out at the time to ensure no one tries to pull copycat performances. For one, it’s classless. Also, it could have incited a riot, given the amount of bad blood between the two teams. Plus, Heath Cline pointed out it was stupid from Georgia’s perspective too – Moreno barely got the nose of the ball in the endzone, and if replay reversed the play, they’re looking at 4th and goal from the 31. It was completely unnecessary and bad from every angle. And to all of you out there talking about how great it worked: no, it didn’t work. Florida marched right back down the field to tie it, and even took a lead later in the half.

The missed opportunities hurt the most. The defense played its worst game this year, and I put far more of the loss on its shoulders than that of the offense. There were two turnovers in the first half that could have led to scores. Florida got the ball 1st and 10 at the UGA 30 thanks to penalties on the kickoff, and three plays later they were taking a delay of game to back up to punt. There was also the play in the second half where Tim Tebow had  Cornelius Ingram wide open over the middle  for an almost certain score but overthrew him. That’s four well-defined instances where the offense could have scored, not to mention when the defense got back-to-back stops in the second half that lead to a total of zero Florida points.

When it comes down to it, like I said earlier, the defense is the problem. Clint McMillan and Javier Estopinan are not SEC-caliber defensive tackles. Kyle Jackson is not an SEC-caliber safety, and Tony Joiner only is when he’s got Reggie Nelson at the other safety spot. The rest is too young to be counted on every play, and it showed. Georgia ran basic running plays, going left between the tackle and guard and doing toss sweeps to either side. It’s not rocket science, but it worked and was eerily reminiscent of the 2004 Mississippi State game where Jerious Norwood ran all over Florida doing the same 4 basic running plays in a random order.

Speaking of historic games, I could have sworn Dan Mullen learned his lesson about the 5 wide set after the 2005 LSU game. If the defense is blitzing every time you go 5 wide, as LSU did then and Georgia did on Saturday, you don’t call slow developing pass plays from that set. It’s that simple, because 5 offensive linemen can’t block 6 defenders for the time required for the receivers to run their routes. Despite this fact being patently obvious, and despite having reaped the consequences of trying to fight it two years ago, Mullen continually called for slow developing plays out of the 5 wide set. Now, I will never claim to have the expertise needed to be an offensive coordinator, and I have not played organized football. However, just because I’m not a singer doesn’t mean I don’t know when a singer is out of tune, and similarly the fact that I can count to 6 means I am qualified to say that having only 5 blockers for a 6-man blitz is a recipe for disaster. Especially when your quarterback has a bum shoulder and you instructed him not to run.

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As for the national scene, Ohio State can be #1 for now, but if Arizona State goes unbeaten then they have to be #1. The Pac 10 is about 1,000,000 times better than the Big Ten, and so is the SEC for that matter. Given the choice, I’d give an undefeated Arizona State and a 1-loss LSU team priority for the national title game over an unbeaten Ohio State. The statistical quality of Ohio State’s schedule is laughable at best, and in won/loss terms like the NCAA uses, it’s just as bad.

That is all.

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There will not be much more this week since I am very busy with class, projects, and job interviews. I am a graduate student, after all. I finish in December, so the interviews are coming by the bunches now, and I have one each day of this week.

If you are in need of a college football fix, by all means click any of the links in the blogroll and you won’t be disappointed.


Gators Pregame: LSU

October 5, 2007

Pregame Jaws

Florida is 19-8 in the 6th game of the year since 1980. In 1988, Florida fell to Memphis, in 1990 it was Tennessee, and in 1993 and 1994 it was those infamous Auburn games. In 1997, LSU took the Gators down, in 2001 it was Auburn, and in 2002 and 2003 it was those infamous Ole Miss games.

Urban Meyer Fanfare

Urban Meyer is 5-1 in the sixth game of the year. In 2001 he lost to Western Michigan 37-28 but in 2002 he beat Western Michigan 48-45. In 2003 he beat San Diego State 27-6 and in 2004 he beat North Carolina 46-16. In 2005, he beat Mississippi State 35-9 and in 2006 he beat LSU 23-10. Urban Meyer hasn’t lost two games in a row since 2002 when he lost to Northern Illinois and South Florida in consecutive games.

Orange and Blue

The Gators will be wearing their blue jerseys tomorrow, which is unusual for a road game. Typically, you wear your colors at home and white on the road. However, LSU figured out a while back that neither yellow nor purple jerseys look good, so they try to wear white every game.

Men of Florida

The secondary is going to need to step up and be the Men of Florida tomorrow. It helps that Tony Joiner is now making the trip, but Joe Haden, Kyle Jackson, Major Wright, and especially Wondy Pierre-Louis have to play better than they did against Auburn. The defensive coaches are also going to have to trust them to make plays at some point, and if they go bend-but-don’t-break again then LSU will hold the ball just as much as Auburn did or more to give the Gators increasingly less time to conduct their offense.

Chimes/Alma Mater

In recent history, Florida has done very well against LSU. Steve Spurrier was a tidy 11-1 in his 12 years against the Tigers, and there have been some notable UF wins since. The 2003 game immediately comes to mind, partially because I attended it with the band, and partially because a banged up Florida team with a freshman QB and Ron Zook at the helm went into Baton Rouge and gave Nick Saban his only loss on his way to the BCS championship. In 2006, we had JaMarcus Russell fumbling on the half-inch line and Tim Tebow’s jump pass. I don’t know what’s happening tomorrow, but it will probably be memorable.

Boys March

Florida hasn’t done much marching out of the backfield, with Kestahn Moore getting just 3 carries last week and Tebow running up against the Law of Diminishing Returns. The Gators have passed the point where the QB draw is a changeup. Florida has to get some running going so that play action will actually be believable. I expect LSU to stay at home and not bite on any play action until UF gets a couple good runs. They are good enough to cover up a mistake or two, so there’s no reason to defend handoffs until Florida demonstrates a commitment to handing it off.

Gators Spell Out

G: Glenn Dorsey

Let’s face it – Glenn Dorsey is basically an NFL lineman playing in college. He could start for several pro teams right now, but he came back to college to win a championship. You think he’s going to be ready? Plus, defensive tackles can be shifted around easily, so I would expect him to be lined up in front of Maurkice Pouncey. A senior, NFL-level DT versus a banged up true freshman OT is not something I really want to think about.

A: Andre Caldwell

Bubba’s back finally, so look for Tebow to look for him early and often. He’s the only guy on the team that Tim trusts as much as he trusts Percy Harvin it seems, so he should get plenty of looks. Florida will need him to be the strong option 1-B to Percy’s option 1-A to get out of Louisiana with a win.

T: Tim Tebow

I try not to give the T to Tim every week, but he matters so much this week that it’s hard not to. Timmy will have to play his best game of the year tomorrow night to give the Gators their best chance to win. He will need to stay unpredictable, something he’s had issues with as of late, and try not to get beat up too much. Taking a beating against Ole Miss and even Auburn is very different from taking a beating against the large, strong, experienced LSU defense.

O: Options

Theoretically there are plenty of options on offense. Tim Tebow can run or throw, Percy Harvin does it all, Bubba and Riley Cooper are home run threats, Cornelius Ingram is a big target with sure hands, and Kestahn Moore is averaging over 5 yards a carry. The last two weeks, thanks in part to injuries, it’s boiled down to Tebow and Harvin. Dan Mullen must use all the options available to do his best at confusing the defense.

R: Rush Defense

LSU’s passing game has been a little shaky, and Early Doucet is out for the Tigers. That means they are likely to try to run, run, run all day with their 5 or so good tailbacks. If they can establish that run, then they can control the game like Auburn did. Florida has been pretty good against the run, and linebacker A.J. Jones had his best game as a Gator last week which helps. Florida must stop the run if it wants to give its offense enough possessions and touches to fatally damage the Tigers.

S: Special Teams

I said this was a key last week, and it was three horrible special teams plays that really cost the Gators last weekend – roughing the punter, a blocked field goal, and a shanked punt in the fourth quarter. Florida cannot lose the special teams battle again, or else it could get real ugly real early.

Suwannee

LSU Defensive Coordinator Bo Pellini loves to blitz. First and 10? Blitz. Second and long? Blitz again. Third and short? Sounds like a blitzing down. First and 20 after a penalty? Why not blitz, since you’ve got extra space to work with. With LSU defensive players constantly running up against the UF offensive line like a river trying to overflow its banks, Dan Mullen will probably have call some plays with an extra blocker or two, which could limit Tebow’s options. How Florida handles the blitz will determine a lot in this game.

Tunnels

Anyone who says without a doubt that Florida will win is crazy. Anyone who completely dismisses Florida is also crazy. I have no idea where this game will end up, but here’s to a great game played by both teams. May the best man win.


Joiner Charge Dropped

October 5, 2007

Thanks to the owner of Watson’s Towing being adamant about there being no harm done, the state prosecutor has dropped all charges against Tony Joiner. This is fitting, because there never should have been charges against him anyway.

In a statement, Urban reiterated a lot of things he’s said before about being out late and Tony paying a huge price off the field, but he did say that Tony is traveling with the team out to Louisiana. He will not be granted his position of captain back. No word yet on whether he’s starting, or even playing, but he’s making the trip so you have to assume he’ll make it on the field.


Joiner No Longer a Captain

October 4, 2007

The sad story continues.

Urban Meyer has said that Tony Joiner is no longer a captain on the team, and will not play in games as long as he is charged with a felony. He did practice today but was off-limits to reporters. The owner of Watson’s Towing will not press charges, but the state might still go ahead with the case if it believes a crime was committed. It could take up to 30 days before that decision is made.

In essence, Tony is not playing against LSU. With the glacial pace that the state government moves here, Tony could be missing several games. Dorian Munroe, who has been playing spot duty at corner from time to time this year, is his backup and will start opposite Kyle Jackson or Major Wright.

Tony had been in and out of trouble during the Zook years, but he’s had a real change since Urban Meyer took over. This incident, blown out of proportion thought it may be, is still an unfortunate incident and Tony should have known better. GPD should have known better too, considering that the owner of Watson’s said that a girl stole her car out of the lot three weeks ago and didn’t get arrested for it.

I’m still unsure as to why the guy who called the police couldn’t have just taken the $76 that Tony had brought to get the car out. I have yet to see any good reason for that. Not to mention the fact that the guy who called the police told the dispatcher that “GPD needs to step it up, please,” with a noticeable attitude in his voice. What kind of person tries to give snarky orders to the police over the phone? There’s a reason why tow company employees have extremely bad reputations in Gainesville.


Joiner Update

October 2, 2007

Apparently, Tony Joiner had made arrangements to pick up the car and had the $76 tow fee. The gate was left unlocked, so he did not break any locks or anything to get in. No one from the tow company showed up when they were supposed to, so Tony got impatient, took the car, and was going to worry about the fee later. One legal expert thinks he’ll get charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor, not burglary.

The owner of the towing company for his part, says it’s “all a misunderstanding,” and called Joiner’s arrest “Crazy.”

UPDATE 9:10 pm

Joiner did not practice on Tuesday, and Coach Meyer said he will be monitoring the situation. The owner of Watson’s Towing has said he does not intend to press charges, though the state attorney general can still press charges on behalf of the State of Florida.


Rankings, Week 6

October 2, 2007

Any time you have a Saturday full of big upsets, the polls for the following week are always a little messed up. They are like a transition state for a radioactive element, such as when Radon-220 turns into Polonium-216 for about 0.145 seconds before turning into Lead-212. I am a firm believer that in college football the cream rises to the top, and everything regresses to the mean. The poll should look a lot different 2 or 3 weeks from now.

  1. LSU (NC)
  2. Ohio State (+4)
  3. USC (-1)
  4. South Florida (+8)
  5. California (+2)
  6. Kentucky (+8)
  7. Boston College (+1)
  8. Florida (-4)
  9. West Virginia (-4)
  10. Oklahoma (-7)
  11. Wisconsin (NC)
  12. South Carolina (+4)
  13. Georgia (+4)
  14. Oregon (-1)
  15. Virginia Tech (NC)
  16. Cincinnati (+3)
  17. Kansas State (+10)
  18. Texas (-8)
  19. Rutgers (-10)
  20. Hawaii (NC)
  21. Arizona State (+2)
  22. Missouri (+3)
  23. Purdue (+3)
  24. Kansas (+2)
  25. Auburn (+1)

Dropped Out: Penn State (-8), Clemson (-5), Michigan State (-2)

The top 6 teams are from the Looking Good and Could be a Contender categories from my analysis of the unbeaten teams yesterday. They are ranked roughly in order of defensive performance, because as you know, Defense Wins Championships™. Really, Ohio State jumped USC because the Trojans tried really hard to give the game away to Washington, while Ohio State put its boot on Washington’s neck and slowly shifted more weight on it as the game went on. That’s Tresselball, folks. It’s 2002 again in Columbus.

Brian Robiskie adds some flavor to the otherwise bran flakes and shredded wheat Ohio State offense.

Boston College, one of my sleeper picks, proudly comes in at 7. Three former inhabitants of the Looking Good category come in 8 – 10, ranked in order of whose loss looked the best. Change four plays, and UF beats Auburn 24 – 10. Change four plays, and West Virginia still can’t run on USF. Oklahoma lost to the worst team of the three, so they’re 10.

Ah, the last-second field goal. Bane of favorites everywhere.

Wisconsin holds steady at 11 because I refuse to believe it’s a top ten team. The Badgers have beaten no one, and they’ve looked bad doing so. South Carolina moves up to 12, but that’s too high. Georgia moves up to 13, but that’s probably too high as well. Oregon only falls a spot because the Ducks outplayed Cal in everything but turnovers. Virginia Tech holds at 15, but who have they really beaten?

Oregon had a rough weekend. So did ESPN’s proofreaders.

Cincinnati is scandalously overrated at 16, but it’s the week after Crazy Upset Day so anything goes. Kansas State debuts at 17 for its win over Texas and the fact that its Auburn loss doesn’t look so bad. Texas falls to 18, appropriately so since the Longhorns lost to Kansas State. You know, pollsters, on the field, where the actual football happens. Rutgers falls all the way down to 19, and if it weren’t for Ray Rice I’d probably have them out of the poll altogether. Hawaii remains at 20. June Jones says that this year is the best defensive squad he’s ever had, but that’s like saying that something is the most secure Microsoft operating system ever. It’s still no good until it can prove itself against someone better than Idaho.

Kansas State in the Texas endzone. A common occurrence last weekend.

Arizona State, Missouri, Purdue, and Kansas get the next four spots for being unbeaten, but none have played anyone so they go no farther. Auburn returns at 25, since its Kansas State loss looks a lot better, and for the big win over Florida.

While this isn’t a touchdown (though it was called a touchdown by the refs), they’d have just put in in on the next play. On a slant route. @#$% Auburn.


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