Tuesday, September 14, 2010

9/14: Week 2 In Review - ACC Sucks, Lattimore Runs Wild, Quack & MORE!

Note: Jaguars attendance jokes strictly forbidden


I'm sure there are mort artful ways for me to state it, but the ACC has a weekend so horrifying that "sucks" really is the most accurate way of describing it. Getting housed in a game the league had to see as a way to prop up the conference is bad enough, but to do it twice? Dropping the most-watched game from week 1 was bound to have some hangover effect, but to a 5th place team in the Colonial Athletic Association?

Complete ACC scores:
Wake Forest 54, Duke 48 - Can't believe Coach K dropped one after winning it all last year.
Kansas 28, #15 Georgia Tech 25 - Jackets are no North Dakota St
James Madison 21, #13 Virginia Tech 16 - Biggest victory for ol' Jimmy since the War of 1812.
Boston College 26, Kent St 13 - Wait, BC played a home non-con vs no name team?
#2 Ohio St 36, #12 Miami 24 - Without special teams this game isn't even this close.
#10 Oklahoma 47, #17 Florida St 17 - New head coach, same crappy defense
Clemson 58, Presbyterian 21 - Really? They gave up 21 to who?!?!
Maryland 62, Morgan St 3 - Leave it ol' Ralph to have most comfortable ACC win of the day.
NC St 28, UCF 21 - Wolfpack were actually underdogs per Vegas, says something.
#16 Southern Cal 17, Virginia 14 - UVa might have found their coach, lone good statement for ACC.

There are a lot of weeks to go, but the ACC had to circle this weekend on their calendar when the season began. On the table were opportunities for an seemingly improved FSU squad versus a retooling Oklahoma team, a tough offensive team in Georgia Tech versus a Kansas squad with a coaching change in progress, and the ultra talented Miami Hurricanes versus an Ohio St team lacking enough playmakers. It all ended in disaster.

For the ACC, there's always next year. Maybe then the the teams acquired in recent years will finally step up and perform, but for now they're not ready. The question remains as to when they will be.


South Carolina needed a win, they couldn't afford to lose. It was now or never, if ever. If South Carolina couldn't win with likely their most talented team in the history of the program against the Georgia Bulldogs with a freshman quarterback and their best player suspended, would they ever?

I will start by saying that Georgia appeared to really limit themselves on offense. They didn't want freshman quarterback Aaron Murray to have to feel the weight of the situation in his first SEC contest, on the road no less. Georgia really seemed to ride the rushing attack early and limit the passing playbook, but could only muster yards and very little points early. As the game wore on the Gamecock defense started to be more effective against the Bulldog running game, and so Georgia started going to the air more and more as the game progressed. I came in thinking Murray was overrated from my experience seeing him play in high school, but I came away truly impressed with his play. In his first real game versus a quality defense I think he made some plays that should leave the Georgia faithful optimistic going forward. I expect he will develop, and if he does then there are some good years behind center for the kid. A fumble on a potential scoring drive prevented Murray from having a even better situation in the game, and perhaps he would have had an even better opportunity to show his stuff. As it is his team was simply outplayed by a team with more experience on the field.

Marcus Lattimore. Marcus Lattimore. Marcus Lattimore. Those were the three keys parts of the South Carolina offense, and little else really mattered. A detailed breakdown of just how dominant Lattimore was and how much of a beast he was please see the work of Travis Haney of the Charleston Post & Courier. The offensive line seemed to block well for the rushing plays, which may be more Lattimore than them, but on the passing plays there were some costly gaffes. Garcia did much on his own also to prevent the offense from hitting a full, balanced stride. His timing still seems off, with passes lacking the crispness in the plays drawn up. It is something that seems painfully obvious, and something that has to improve if the Gamecocks want to make the kind of statement the rest of the team seems ready to make this season.

This week Furman comes calling, and it's yet another opportunity for "New Carolina" to continue to distance itself from the Ghosts of Carolina Past. A solid win against FU is important, as they are a decent D-IAA team (ranked 24th).


It was all going so well on Rocky Top. Tennessee was controlling the momentum against #7 Oregon with a hard rushing attack and a smothering defense. The score was a slight advantage to Tennessee despite the total dominance on the field. The halftime score was tied up at 13, which had to seem slight disappointing to Vol fans despite an overall feeling of jubilation that their team had played so well when most likely were expecting the worst. Then came the second half. Oregon showed the explosiveness that is their signature in recent years. It ended in a 35-point win for the Ducks highlighted by some top plays of the week.

I draw 3 conclusions from this game:

1) Oregon is really, really good. They are without a doubt one of the few teams voters can safely put into their top ten. If they can navigate conference schedule they even have a shot at a lot more. They were likely thrown of by the weather delay and their atmosphere of the massive monstrosity that is Tennessee's home field, plus there's something about Tennessee's play that I will save for #3.

2) Tennessee is going to struggle even get bowl eligible this season. They are going to struggle to compete with Florida, Alabama, and others. It is what you get with the turmoil, turnover, and thin depth chart that the last few years have brought to Knoxville.

3) Derek Dooley is the right guy for Tennessee. I though he was the right hire back when he was first announced, and saw signs on Saturday that he will indeed succeed in the end. He is a no nonsense guy with a very simple and focused approach to the game. He can win if they give him the time he needs. I think they will, and so will he.

10 Thoughts of the Week

1) If I hear "I only wanted one more year" from Bobby Bowden, I'm going to pour hot sauce into my eyes.
2) Michigan-Notre Dame remains a very entertaining game between teams with zero national relevance.
3) That said, Denard Robinson is a very special player, even if no one else on his team is worth a damn.
4) The Miami Hurricanes don't play well when it rains, go figure.
5) If Virginia Tech beats Miami later this season will we decide Boise St is better than Ohio St then?
6) Comparing what Reggie Bush did to what O.J. did is asinine. Just stop, stop it now, you're an idiot.
7) Ole Miss won at Tulane 27-13, which means they do suck, that J'ville St thing wasn't a fluke.
8) Matt Millen is employed for reasons the elude me.
9) If Dan Mullen had a quarterback, everybody else would be screwed.
10) I say Chris Rainey will be back in a Gator uniform getting carries by the end of October (it's Urban Discipline).

and now, your moment of zen....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9/7: Week 1 In Review - Don't Panic, Gamecocks 2-0, Boise 12-0 & MORE!

Don't panic, keep calm.
It's only one week, so unless you are Ole Miss there is no reason to panic. Knee jerk reactions are going to be rampant in all directions, some even different directions on the same game (see: Boise State). A lot of things are still left to settle, and that's why I won't do a Top 25 until after Week 4 has been completed. So let's roll with some thoughts.

It's not often the Gamecocks are 2-0 (including 1-0 in SEC play) after a single week, but thus it is when South Carolina opens with a victory at home and Houston Nutt schedules the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

South Carolina 41, Southern Miss 13
Following the South Carolina Gamecocks (as an alum) it is often the non-conference opponents that provide the most headaches, and often they are in the game until the bitter end one way or another. This opener vs Southern Mississippi was different. The Gamecocks were able to continually gain yardage, and points, all throughout a game which was never really in doubt.
Stephen Garcia made all the swirling rumors about being outplayed by Connor Shaw a distant memory. This is as it should be, Garcia has been in the system for too long and showed a lot of promise last season. It appears more and more that motivation is just something that Steve Spurrier feels is always necessary with Garcia (perhaps the Blake Mitchell Experience is another reason for this).
The biggest surprise of the game for me was the contribution of Marcus Lattimore and Ace Sanders. Lattimore was such a heralded recruit that perhaps it isn't right to be so surprised, but scoring two touchdowns does seem a bit beyond the expectations of anyone. Sanders was more of a surprise as he was able to make a nice catch in the game and produce a huge play on a reverse he ran to the right side of the line. I saw Sanders in high school during the FHSAA State Championships, and he was small compared to other high school players. It's not unusual for a small guy with speed to contribute, but for Carolina this is something new.
A lot of confidence has to be felt going into this weekend's game at home vs Georgia, but really there is so little anyone truly knows about either of these two teams. It should be another classic game in an underrated rivalry between border states.

Jacksonville St 49, Ole Miss 48, 2OT
Houston Nutt must really have something against job security. I had already picked the Rebels to go 3-9 (0-8 SEC) before the season started due to what I perceived as overall uncertainty about the team that even the team itself had to feel. Then they blew a fourth quarter 31-13 lead vs the Jacksonville State Gamecocks of Div-IAA (or FCS, if you prefer).
It was embarrassing for the SEC, but can't really be considered shocking when you consider that Houston Nutt is a crazy person, between bouts of being really good at coaching. Consecutive Cotton Bowl berths followed by a home loss to a Div-IAA team, that's a trademark Houston Nutt moment.
That said, I now predict they will beat LSU again this year, because that would just make no sense at all (which in Houston Nutt Opposite World makes total sense).

BOISE 12-0
So I guess in one game Boise has clinched a berth in the National Title Game? Actually, not so much. Boise will have to go undefeated and hope that there are no more than one undefeated BCS conference champions and/or 1-loss SEC champion in the discussion. The strength of schedule will weigh heavily against the Broncos, but their resume in the last 5 years or so allows them to be in the discussion unlike any other non-BCS conference team.
Do they deserve it? I don't know for sure, but I also can't say for sure they don't deserve it. I know Boise gets months to prepare for their opener and bowl games, but so does the opposition. You're telling me Oregon, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma didn't take the Broncos seriously? I think Boise would be a 10-win BCS conference champion, but I also cannot state that as fact. You also cannot factually dispute my belief either.
Boise will have some tough games left. Oregon St is one of the truly underrated programs in the NCAA, and should give Boise a stiff challenge without weeks to prepare. Fresno St is always a respectable team that plays decent non-conference games where they acquit themselves well. Don't sleep on Nevada either, as they lose in Boise by a mere 11 points last season and now get the Broncos in Reno and off the Smurf Turf.
If they win all their games, most of the impressively, they deserve to be thought of in the same realm as an 11-1 Big Ten champion in my mind.

1. Florida State looked impressive, but against who again?
2. Even when he does nothing wrong Les Miles gets end-of-game disaster moments.
3. Virginia Tech will likely run off seven wins in a row before they play Georgia Tech.
4. Turner Gil losing 6-3 to North Dakota St is nothing to panic about. First game, new regime.
5. Oklahoma always seems to struggle out the gate, so lets not make anything of Utah St.
6. Michigan look good, still not buying it until they play someone, if they ever do.
7. Oregon won't put up 72 vs Tennessee, but it will be ugly this weekend.
8. Nike is totally screwing up college football with these awful jerseys so far.
9. Florida will beat South Florida, but if they struggle there'll be issues down the line
10. Best game no one will watch this week? Auburn at Mississippi St (on Thursday of NFL opener)

and now, your moment of zen...