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: Georgia

October 26, 2007

Pregame Jaws

Florida is 18-9 in the eighth game of the season, though that is mostly because of the 1980s. From 1990 on, Florida played Georgia nearly every year in the eighth game, and being aware of the streak as we all are, that means the losses were 37-17 in 1997 and 31-24 in 2004 at the hands of Georgia.

In the ‘80s, though, UGA and Auburn took turns beating up on the good guys. In 1980 is was UGA 26-21; in 1981 it was Auburn 14-12; in 1982 it was UGA 44-0; in 1983 it was Auburn 28-21; in 1987-89 it was Auburn again 29-6, 16-0, and 10-7. Fortunately, we got our revenge in 1990 to the tune of 48-7.

Urban Meyer Fanfare

Urban Meyer is 4-2 in the eighth game of the year. At Bowling Green, he lost to Miami (Ohio) 24-21 in 2001 and beat Kent State 45-14 in 2002. At Utah, he lost to New Mexico 47-35 in 2003 and beat San Diego State 51-28 in 2004. At Florida, he’s defeated Georgia twice, 14-10 and 21-14.

Orange and Blue

Colors are very important in this game due to the split stands. It is always a cool atmosphere when half the stadium is orange and blue and the other half is red and teal. Teal? Yeah, you know, the color of the empty seats after Georgia fans have already started leaving early again.

Men of Florida

I’m going to say that the Men of Florida for this game need to be Kestahn Moore, Percy Harvin, Jarred Fayson, and Brandon James. Those four guys need to step up and give the Gators a running game other than Tim Tebow. Tebow will still get his carries, but they need to be effective when called upon to lighten his load and get positive yardage. Georgia’s defense can be somewhat suspect at times, so a balanced and unpredictable attack will help Florida out tremendously.

Chimes/Alma Mater

The tradition of having this game in Jacksonville goes back many, many years. Long before I or my parents were even around. It is a unique atmosphere to have a regular season rivalry game at a neutral site, and only three such games exist – Florida/Georgia, Oklahoma/Texas in Dallas, and Army/Navy in Baltimore. If you have never been, it’s something you need to see at some point.

It’s a shame more schools don’t do it, because of what a tremendous weekend it is. FSU and Miami fans show up every year because of how great the experience is. It’s something every school should do, even if temporary, because it makes the game a lot more fun. I wouldn’t want to do a neutral site for every game, of course, but once a year it makes for an incredible weekend.

Boys March

The Gators had better be marching up and down the field on offense tomorrow. Georgia has almost nothing left at tailback besides Knowshown Moreno thanks to injuries, so that means the passing game will be important. As in consistent as Matt Stafford has been in the deep passing game, he is very good at the intermediate passing game and that’s precisely what the Florida secondary gives up willingly in its frustrating soft zone scheme. I expect to see a lot of blitzing from Florida to try to make Stafford throw it before he has a chance to get comfortable and find his intermediate routes.

Gators Spell Out

G: Georgia Fans

There are precious few things funnier in this life than Georgia fans on Florida-Georgia weekend. Before the game, you can see the young men in their atrocious red polyester pants and dated moptop haircuts and the older fans barking at anything orange and/or blue and saying things like “Hunker down Daaaaawgs!!” which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a cheer. After the game – after yet another loss – they can’t make eye contact with anything orange and/or blue and have even been known to ask in a taunting voice “Why didn’t you beat us by more?” Priceless, I tell you.

A: Andre Caldwell

I know I’ve used him before in this spot, but his reemergence last week was a huge even for the offense. When he’s fully healthy, it’s like having another Percy Harvin on the field. He was a revelation in Lexington. It’s hard to stop either Andre or Percy, but having them both borders on unfair. If he can stay healthy the rest of the year, Florida will be in excellent shape on offense.

T: Tim Tebow

This is his chance to shine. After Matt Ryan lucked out last night by getting to play against the worst prevent defense ever seen, Tebow needs to answer in a big way to preserve his lead in the Heisman race. Florida is the featured 3:30 CBS game, and people naturally watch this game because it’s Florida-Georgia and everyone likes the wide shots of the split stands and all that stuff. It’s time to lay a historic smackdown to put Ryan in his place, and also because it’s Georgia, and they deserve it for being Georgia and having 50+ year old people barking at children in the parking lot.

O: Offensive Coordinators

Florida fans have been up and down on Dan Mullen throughout this season, and Mike Bobo has been very hit or miss with his play calling in this his first full season of calling plays. Bobo is one of the few Bulldog quarterbacks not yet over the hill who has known what it’s like to beat Florida as he did the trick in his senior season in 1997. Mullen has yet to lose to UGA in two tries, and his game against Kentucky showed a lot more diversity in play calling; he’s definitely more comfortable with Caldwell out there. No doubt that whichever team loses, its offensive coordinator will be second-guessed for weeks.

R: Running Backs

Georgia has one good one left (Moreno), and there’s talk that Mark Richt might burn the redshirt off the back of prized freshman Caleb King since he’ll be dressing out for the first time this season. Florida has only one medium-sized or larger back (Moore) and behind him are three small speed backs (James, Chevon Walker, Chris Rainey). If any of these guys can get something going it will be a big coup for his team so it won’t have to rely on only passing/QB rushes the whole game.

S: Stafford, Matt

Which Matt Stafford will show up? The one who lit up Oklahoma State, or the one who couldn’t move the ball on Tennessee’s awful defense? Florida has been reasonably good at stopping the run this year, so Georgia’s big chance to move the ball is housed in Stafford’s unusually large right arm.

Suwannee

It is actually the St. Mary’s River that separates the two states participating in the contest tomorrow. It’s brackish, tea-colored water is something I know well since I have an aunt and uncle who have a house close to it. That house is where I will be staying this weekend, as with most Florida-Georgia weekends. So, after around noon today when I leave to head up there with my family I will be without Internet and even cell phone signal for much of the weekend. Nothing further will be posted until Sunday afternoon at the earliest.

Tunnels

Florida has the obvious advantage among the offenses, but Georgia’s defense is much better statistically. Statistically good defenses haven’t prevented Florida from being in every game this year, and Georgia has yet to face an offense quite like Florida’s. Florida’s defense has been suspect at best for most of the year, but as long as Georgia doesn’t run quick slants all game then the D should be fine. It will probably end up close, as Meyer’s first two UGA games have been, but I will be surprised if Florida loses. Georgia just doesn’t have the talent that Florida does.

Yes, I really will be without Internet all weekend. If you leave  a comment, it won’t show up until Sunday because I manually approve all comments since too much spam makes it past the filter. Don’t let that stop you from leaving a comment though. Stay safe, and Go Gators!


BC – VT Was an Abomination

October 26, 2007

What a horrible, horrible game. When people ask how you can tell if a game has good defense or bad offense, or what’s the difference between good offense and bad defense, this game offered a tutorial on both.

For most of the game, it was bad offense. Look, I know both defenses played well, especially the Virginia Tech defense, but there was a lot of bad offense. Sean Glennon still is not a BCS conference-caliber QB, and Matt Ryan played like, well, Sean Glennon. VT was cruising to an easy shutout win.

But then, VT did something unpardonable. Something unthinkable. Something that anyone who knows and follows football knows you should never, ever do. They went into the prevent defense. I’ve been saying for years that the only thing the prevent defense does is prevent you from winning, but I am hardly alone in my disdain for the prevent. Here’s all you need to know:

On the final two drives, Matt Ryan went 9/15 for 157 yards and 2 TD. Previously, he was for 16/37 for 128 yards for 0 TDs and 2 INT. He had 4 passes complete for longer than 10 yards (32, 18, 14, 12), which together represent 59% of his passing yards at that point. On the final two drives, he had passes complete for 23, 22, 20, 16, 20, 15, 12, and 24 yards (in that order) and had only one completion less than 10 yards (for 5 yards). It’s one thing to try not to give up the big home run play, but if you’re going to surrender 15 – 20 yards per pass, what’s the use.

Matt Ryan finished the game with one of the most deceptive lines of the year – 25/52 for 285 yard, 2 TD, 2 INT. The 25/52 part is the most indicative of his night, because he sucked a lot. He just got lucky at the end that VT quit playing defense and managed to muff an onside kick. He looked awful, and should gain no brownie points for this game.

The last thing I wanted to hear was what Craig James was saying in the booth on SportsCenter after the game. His position was that BC affirmed its position as the #2 team in the country and that Ryan showed he was one of the best in the country. No, no, No, NO, NO! BC showed that it’s a team with no depth that can’t handle playing in the rain. It would probably get stomped by Kentucky, Oregon, Florida or any other team with a decent or better offense. This game was an indictment on VT and specifically Frank Beamer’s late-game strategy. Even Glennon could have driven down the field with how soft the Hokie corners were playing.

Again, this is what we learned tonight: BC is awful, VT is worse, Matt Ryan is a good but not great QB, and the ACC should probably lose its automatic BCS bid if these are really the best two teams in it. I’m done for the night.


Name That Heisman Candidate, Part II

October 24, 2007

Player A

Passing: 115/174, 66.09%, 1711 yards, 17 TDs, 3 INT

177.5 Passer Efficiency, #1 overall

Rushing: 125 rushes, 578 net yards (4.26 average), 10 TDs

2289 Total Yards

Player B

Passing: 138/199, 69.35%, 1728 yards, 16 TDs, 3 INT

165.8 Passer Efficiency, #5 overall

Rushing: 75 rushes, 416 net yards, (5.55 average), 7 TDs

2144 Total Yards

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Can you guess who is who?

A lot of you probably keep up with some stats like passer efficiency and already know that Tim Tebow is #1 in passer efficiency so that gives away who Player A is.

Player B, though, is Dennis Dixon, Oregon’s QB. As you can see, the stats for the two are nearly identical. If Oregon wins out, then Dixon will win the Heisman because he is not just Oregon’s QB, but Oregon’s senior QB. You can argue if you want whether or not Oregon will win out, but the point I want to make is that Tim Tebow has not locked up the Heisman by any stretch of the imagination, despite him finishing in everyone’s top two this week. Florida being a more visible east coast team helps Tim, but Oregon has enough high-profile games left (USC, etc.) that Dixon still has a legit shot.

Given even stats like they have now, and Oregon having one fewer loss than Florida has, Dixon would win due to being a senior.


The Injury Bug

October 23, 2007

At this point we’ve all heard about Tim Tebow’s bruised shoulder and that’s he’s being held out of contact drills this week. Well, turns out Major Wright and Riley Cooper both had surgery yesterday, compounding the injury issue.

We all also knew that Wright had injured his thumb, but we didn’t know he’d need a plate in it, as was inserted a day ago. He will wear a cast for six weeks, and if he plays we can expect the whole club-hand thing that we’ve seen so many times from defensive linemen.

Riley Cooper had broken his finger on the second play of the game against Kentucky, and he had two screws put into it. No word on which finger just yet, but it is going to be taped to another finger for right now. Wright may play against Georgia, but the article doesn’t specify if Cooper will try to go.


New SSOS

October 22, 2007

We have a change in the leader of the conference standings in this week’s Statistical Strength of Schedule rankings, and you can probably figure how who is #1 based on which conference had the biggest games this past weekend.

As in previous weeks, I calculate the aggregate total offense, scoring offense, total defense, and scoring defense for the opponents of each team, then average those four figures together to make the SSOS. The top 25 this week:

  1. Notre Dame (NC)
  2. Washington (NC)
  3. Auburn (+2)
  4. Stanford (-1)
  5. Colorado (+6)
  6. Ole Miss (+8)
  7. Washington State (+6)
  8. Nebraska (+4)
  9. FIU (-5)
  10. Tennessee (-4)
  11. Oregon State (-1)
  12. East Carolina (-4)
  13. Kentucky (+16)
  14. Utah State (-5)
  15. Duke (+2)
  16. Syracuse (-9)
  17. UNLV (-2)
  18. LSU (-3)
  19. Kansas State (+4)
  20. Marshall (+4)
  21. USF (+35)
  22. Cal (+14)
  23. Iowa State (+23)
  24. Oklahoma State (+21)
  25. Maryland (+8)

You can find the full list here: 10-20-07.pdf

Average SSOS By Losses

This week we don’t have as smooth of a curve, but the gap between the undefeated teams and the one loss teams actually widened thanks to USF, the only previously unbeaten team with a decent schedule, falling to the ranks of the once-beaten teams.

This time, we see the 5 loss teams and 6 loss teams being the trend-buckers, rather than the 2-loss teams, and I would guess that it’s because there’s a higher percentage of BCS schools in the 6-loss groups and the 5-loss group. Beyond that, you can look at the numbers yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Biggest Movers

This week’s top gainers:

  1. Michigan State (+38), played Ohio State last week
  2. USF (+35), Rutgers
  3. North Texas (+33), Troy
  4. Louisiana Tech (+31), Boise State
  5. Louisville (+27), Cincinnati
  6. Iowa State (+23), Oklahoma
  7. Mississippi State (+23), West Virginia
  8. Baylor (+23), Texas
  9. Oklahoma State (+21), Kansas State
  10. Missouri (+21), Texas Tech

As you can see here, playing highly ranked teams does wonders for your SOS. If you’re not playing a top-ranked team, then at least play one with an explosive offense, like Texas Tech, or one that is the class of a non-BCS league and therefore racking up good stats, like Boise State.

This week’s biggest losers:

  1. BYU (-44), Eastern Washington
  2. Wisconsin (-40), Northern Illinois
  3. Nevada (-34), Utah State
  4. Northwestern (-33), Eastern Michigan
  5. Buffalo (-33), Syracuse
  6. FAU (-31), UL-Lafayette
  7. SMU (-29), Tulane
  8. UL-Monroe (-27), FIU
  9. Oklahoma (-26), Iowa State
  10. Minnesota (-26), North Dakota State

As you can see, you can lose a lot of ground fast in just one week. In some cases, it’s an unavoidable game against a sorry in-conference team (Oklahoma, the Sun Belt teams). Or, you can schedule up from your position, like Buffalo, who plummeted after playing a Big East team (Syracuse). Or, you can schedule out of conference cupcakes, like Wisconsin and Northwestern. Or, you can schedule a I-AA team, like BYU and Minnesota, though you should probably make sure you win when you do play these kinds of games.

SSOS by Conference

Total Average SSOS for all 119 Teams: 65.19

Best Schedule: Auburn, 3rd overall, score of 43.09

Worst Schedule: Vanderbilt, 91st, 70.75

Average SOS Rank: 39.00

Average SOS Score: 59.09

Best Schedule: Washington, 2nd overall, score of 36.50

Worst Schedule: USC, 117th, 83.21

Average SOS Rank: 40.60

Average SOS Score: 59.23

Best Schedule: Colorado, 5th overall, score of 46.16

Worst Schedule: Kansas, 115th, 82.39

Average SOS Rank: 48.92

Average SOS Score: 62.67

Best Schedule: Duke, 15th overall, score of 54.39

Worst Schedule: Boston College, 109th, 78.93

Average SOS Rank: 57.67

Average SOS Score: 65.15

Best Schedule: Illinois, 33rd overall, score of 60.59

Worst Schedule: Ohio State, 96th, 72.16

Average SOS Rank: 64.55

Average SOS Score: 66.37

Best Schedule: Syracuse, 16th overall, score of 54.88

Worst Schedule: UConn, 111th, 79.11

Average SOS Rank: 68.25

Average SOS Score: 67.49

The SEC has overtaken the Pac 10 for the toughest schedule crown by ever the slightest margin. The Big Ten is seriously slipping, though, and is in danger of being passed by the Big East if those teams don’t get their acts together. It is the only conference where it doesn’t have a team in the top quintile in SSOS. It is, however,one of two conferences (along with the SEC) that doesn’t have a team in the bottom quintile either thanks to Ohio State pulling itself up to the final spot in the 4th quintile.

Overall, no real bombshells. The Pac 10 and SEC are still even in scheduling and no other conference is close. The Big East and Big Ten are the worst two, and the Big 12 and ACC are somewhere in the middle. Notre Dame widened its lead on the top spot, and Hawaii widened its lead on the bottom spot.

That is all.

 


Ahhh…

October 21, 2007

It feels good to be in the win column again. It’s been a month since the Ole Miss game.

I project Florida to hit 11 in the AP, due to South Carolina, Kentucky, and Cal falling behind, and 12 in the BCS for the same reason. Even if LSU falls, the Tigers will probably still be ahead of us since the humans won’t vote UF ahead of a team it lost to. The only wildcard would be if the humans jump a victorious Auburn over UF, since Auburn won here in Gainesville, despite Florida’s two losses being better than Auburn’s two losses. It’s a classic poll paradox. We’ll find out in the late afternoon.