Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Why am I smiling? Because I'm not Charlie Weiss"

We only got half our wish yesterday as Michigan embarrassed Notre Dame, 38-0, but Ohio State beat Washington, 33-14. Even in the loss, its apparent that Washington is on the right track. They’ve got athletes and play-makers on both sides of the ball. They were beat by some dumb freshman mistakes by quarterback Jake Locker as much as anything else. Locker, is the real deal though – he’ll learn from those mistakes.

There’s an old adage about teams not being as good as they look in a win or as bad as they look in a loss. Michigan epitomizes this as they faced a perfect storm in starting the season against two fast, spread-option running teams with athletic quarterbacks in App. State and Oregon. Michigan’s defensive personnel is completely unsuited to defend this style of offense. They were much more at home playing a fellow, plodding Midwest team in Notre Dame. Combine that with the fact that it was just Notre Dame and, voila… 38-0.

Charlie Weiss claimed after the game the he was not even going to watch the game film or show it to his players. Good call, Chuck. Can’t imagine there is anything remotely positive that can be gained from watching it. Domer fans who were flipping back and forth between this game and the Washington game had to be scratching their heads and wondering, "O.K., the ass-kicking is one thing... but where are our athletes... where are our play-makers? Weiss was brought in to recruit NFL-caliber talent to compete with the USCs, Floridas and LSUs. Where is it?"

A friend commented that last night’s USC/Nebraska game had the feel of a typical USC game of the last few years where the Trojans would appear to be going through the motions in the first half, allow the opponent to stay close, go into the locker room at half-time, make adjustments and then come out and blow the opponent off the field in the 2nd half. SC didn’t wait for half-time against the Huskers, though, as they separated themselves from their opponent in the 2nd quarter.

The crowds at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln are renowned for their gracious behavior towards the opposing team. There have been stories of the fans there actually applauding the opposing team after the game if that opponent had proved itself to be a worthy adversary. So we can only assume that Bill Callahan took the cue and extended this middle-American hospitality to Pete Carroll by going completely away from the short passing game in the 2nd quarter that was keeping the Trojan D off balance in the 1st quarter. No half-time adjustments necessary – thanks, Bill.

As encouraging as the successful running game was, the passing game was that disappointing. John David Booty did not look to be on the same page as his receivers and though Stafon Johnson may have run his way into a starting position at tailback, his greatest advantage last night may have been to be fortunate enough to have his number called on the plays where SC’s offensive line was opening up holes one could drive an SUV through.

And in its first real test of the season Florida, in what was supposed to be somewhat of a rebuilding year, pummeled Tennessee 59-20 and in doing so elevated themselves to real players in the BCS title hunt. If Florida can hold serve against Ole Miss and Auburn and then beat LSU in Baton Rouge, we will be prepared to confer “evil” status upon Gator head ball coach, Urban Meyer.

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