Friday, September 25, 2009

College Football: Week3

Was it all it was hyped up to be? Florida-Tennessee? The anticipation was excruciating for Gator fans in the Tampa area. Sweat slinked down their brows. Anger and much smack vomiting from their mouths. Eyes wide. Knuckles white. Kick-off...!

What a boring, awful, snooze-fest.

Tennessee reminded me much of Monte Kiffin's former employer. Fast, well-coached defense. Boring, predictable offense. The Gators could've been in trouble during the game. Tennessee was able to run the ball and you could definitely see it taking a toll on the Florida defense, but because of a lack of threat with Tennessee's passing game UF was able to easily adjust to Kiffin's boring, Big 10-like game plan.

Florida's defense was the true winner in that game. Yeah, I know, UF won and it's a team game, but have you ever seen anything so lethargic like UF's offense? I said it in my two previous blog's: do you know why Timmy tucked it and ran so much? It has nothing to do with protection, which UF's line did a good job on that excellent UT front. It has nothing to do with coverage sacks. Tebow has no faith in an injury depleted and drop happy wide receiving core. He also struggled reading an NFL-type defensive scheme.

I'm not one to hang my hat on anything, but I said if it wasn't fixed by Tennessee it's going to linger for the season. Seeing Tim run that much is a recipe for disaster. No, I don't think he'll get hurt. He has proved over and again he can carry the load. But last year he shared the load resulting in a National Championship. The year he thought he could do it all himself he won a Heisman, but fell to a 9-4 season. UF's young wide outs have to step up. Kentucky's secondary is terrible and I expect major strides, swine flu or not, to take place.

And this pissing match between Urban and Lane is dumb. Lane was idiotic in his comments that UF cheated and so on (I actually thought it was okay for him to announce a win during his inaugural press conference. What's he supposed to say? "We're gonna lose to UF and sing 'Rocky Top' all night long.") Meyer stating after the game that his team had the swine flu and that's why they played so poorly, to me, is a slap at Kiffin's kids. Essentially, Meyer's saying, "We won, but we could've won bigger if we were healthy." Why wasn't the swine flu disclosed before the game like other teams have done? If Tennessee would've won, would that have been Meyer's excuse for losing? I applaud Lane for sticking up for his players.

This is football people. This isn't war or politics. Quit getting so upset over trivial matters. I digress...

Florida State shocked me and the rest of the nation by drubbing then #7 BYU on their turf. Ponder is polished and is a good quarterback. No one can deny that. The running game finally showed up and was the hero of that route allowing the offense to stay on the field and keep gunslinger, Max Hall, on the sidelines. Question is, how good is BYU?

The 'Noles are still awful on defense giving up 28 points and nearly 500 yard of offense. That'll never get it done for an ACC Title contention. I have to give them credit though. It seems for every big play they lay down on, FSU's D bounces back with a huge play.

Greg Reid looks like a seasoned vet with that move he put on BYU's tight end. The young freshman corner grabbed Andrew George's shoulder, slowing him down, and cut him off for a pick 6. The refs couldn't see it due to the angle Reid was positioned. I'm not surprised by this NFL move considering Reid is coached by none other than Florida State great Terrell Buckley.

If FSU can get even slightly better on defense, they'll contend for the ACC.

USF took a mighty blow losing senior leader, Matt Grothe to an ACL injury ending his collegiate career. I, along with many other college football fans, enjoyed watching this young man play his guts out for the Bulls. I want to say thank you and good luck in the next level.

South Florida trounced another cupcake in their final scrimmage before heading to Tallahassee. The Bulls running defense is still shaky and Selvie, who's been going up against lesser talent, has been mediocre at best.

Freshman QB and Tally native BJ Daniels grew up an FSU fan and now gets a chance for the potential upset in Tallahassee. He has major shoes to fill because Grothe used to shine in games like these. Maybe some of his magic will rub off on the young signal caller.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Florida crushes Kentucky in Lexington, Florida State wins a close one against South Florida, and Virginia Tech upsets #9 Miami in a brutal slug fest.

Friday, September 18, 2009

College Football: Week 2

You're probably asking, "Why're you making this blog now with Florida versus Tennessee and Florida State versus BYU tomorrow?" Sorry, but I had to wait for the Miami game to end in order to give my week 2 take. Quit crying...

I'll go ahead and start off with Miami and last night's cruising against Georgia Tech. I still think Miami's defense needs work. They played a classic Wing-T, triple option team that's known to eat up clock, confuse, and tire out opposing defenses with misdirection running plays. The 'Canes did an amazing job containing the option. Their front four looked disciplined and their linebackers were wrapping up. Exactly what needs to be done. But they weren't challenged vertically.

Like I said, this is a Yellow Jackets team that runs the ball 90% of the time. When they did throw, Tech had time and were effective for their style of ball. I still think UM's secondary needs help because they'll wear out against balanced teams like Virginia Tech.

I've got nothing bad to say about UM offensively. Jacory Harris is the real deal and tore up a very good Tech defense. The 'Canes' offensive line looks to be one of the best in the ACC, if not one of the best in the nation. Anyone can look like a superstar with that much time to throw.

Florida abused Troy, but only for three quarters. I know it was raining, but a National Title team doesn't play that sloppy early in games. Timmy was extremely sharp after the first quarter of play, but his wide outs were once again dropping balls and running awful routes. I mentioned the dropped balls in my last blog and I felt they would be fixed come Tennessee. I'm not so sure now. Dropped balls are contagious and if they're not fixed early can kill a team late in the season. What'll end up happening is Tebow will see an open Deonte Thompson, but will throw to a receiver in a tighter spot if he loses confidence in his speedy wide out.

Meyer is an excellent motivator and coach. It'll get corrected.

Florida's defense is ridiculously fast. It's got to scare teams to see first teamers walk off and second and third teamers step in with zero productivity dropped.

Florida State played a lesser talented Jacksonville State and had to win in the waning minutes. I've heard the excuses and I agree with some of them. I'm going to go ahead and contradict myself through this rant, so bare with me...

I agree that it's unfair for FSU to play two times in one week. Yes, Jacksonville is an inferior team, but, I don't care who you are or how much more talent you have, teams need time to rest and prepare. NCAA rules say that a team has to have the next day off from a football game. That means the 'Noles couldn't practice or watch film on Tuesday after the Labor Day loss to Miami. Now they're behind two days on practice and game planning.

With that said, Jimbo and company should've simplified things for the Seminoles. If you've ever played organized football, no matter what level, you had a set of 20 or so plays that you could recite in your sleep. It was the basic, base stuff. I thought that's what FSU should've gone with in this game. At times, they tried to get too cute with reverses and play fakes. Line up and ram it down their throats. Make the necessary halftime adjustments from there.

Ponder was once again brilliant. He no longer tucks it and runs after the first read is covered. He goes to his second and third receivers and check downs in the blink of an eye. There were too many dropped passes and the offensive line digressed some from the UM game.

The running game was terrible and was given up on way too easily. Sound familiar?

Defensively, the front four look better. They put pressure on Jacksonville's QB and kept him off balance at times. The linebackers are good in the running game, but terrible in the passing game. And the secondary is absolutely atrocious. That's Mickey's department too. Jacksonville State had men wide open across the middle and sidelines. Early in the game, they had a man free down the middle and Perriloux over threw him. There were 3 or 4 dropped interceptions too by FSU's secondary. And Missed tackles will hurt everybody.

Turnovers were among the many, many other problems for the 'Noles.

South Florida rolled, but I didn't get to see enough of the game to give a solid take. Sorry, Bull fans. I promise to have something better this week.

UF rolls over the Vols and FSU loses big to BYU. Have a great weekend and enjoy some great football, y'all!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What We Learned From Opening Weekend

Ahhh, college football. We all woke up Saturday morning with a giant grin on our faces. We set our breakfast up in front of the tube and watched College Game Day on ESPN. Herbstreit's caked on make-up and "expert" predictions were dead on as usual. I think he scored 50%. The Old Sunshine Scooter got the crowd hyped up with his catchy, "Not so fast, my friend." It never gets old. And Fowler, with his monotone voice and stoic demeanor, was more entertaining than the both of them. Oh, and don't forget about Desmond...

We marveled at the thousands of already intoxicated students hopping around with signs that read, "Julio For Jeisman." Super clever with the soft 'J' alliteration. You'd never guess it came from an Alabama student/fan.

Ahhh, yes, college football has returned. Even though it was 98 degrees in Tampa, I seriously felt the cool chill of Fall as a crunchy, brown leaf wafted past me. Wait, what was I doing outside?

So, what did we learn from the colleges I'm covering?

It's too soon to say we learned anything from UF and USF as they both beat up on vocational schools, but both teams need to sharpen up.

Florida had multiple dropped passes, which was something that bothered Meyer during summer camp. It's not the end of the world and it's easily correctable, but it's also something you don't want lingering. I expect it to be fixed by Tennessee weekend, but look for Meyer to start younger kids or guys with less experience if the starters don't shape up.

USF played well, but their run defense concerns me. Wofford ran the football at them with success. I know, I know, what am I talking about? Wofford averaged 3.5 a pop. Yeah, but their starting back, Eric Breitenstein, had over 9 yards a carry and 121 rushing. That's not going to get it done against teams that live by the run such as Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Now, onto Florida State and Miami...

What an epic battle that was. That looked like some old-school FSU-UM slug fests.

Offensively, both teams look sharp. Ponder and Harris have definitely done their homework in the off-season and it shows. Neither team had much of a running game, but there were signs of life from the backs on occasion.

The defenses from both squads are awful. FSU was concerned all summer with their defensive backs and it showed. Mickey Andrews defense is dated and doesn't work the way it used to back in '93. The bump-and-run blitz package only works sporadically or with teams that have inferior offensive lines. You cannot constantly leave your corner on an island with no safety help. It'll be a 6 and 6 season for Bobby and his boys if they don't correct that problem.

Miami broke in a new defensive scheme, so they may get a pass. UM mixed man and zone, but not well enough. Zone only works if the front 4 produces pressure and Ponder kept clean, finding the open spaces. FSU's receivers were beating UM's corner's with double moves on man coverage. At least Miami's new D coordinator knew to leave a safety back at all times and that seriously might've saved UM during this game. Their D should gel better throughout the season. If not, they will have a losing record.

And, people, leave Forston alone. That young man played a hell of a ball game and doesn't deserve the criticism he's receiving. There are at least 20 more plays and/or reasons the 'Noles lost that game. Give the 'Canes credit too. Those kids played with a lot of heart.

There we have it. College football is back and I, for one, am going to enjoy every single game this season. I don't care if it's Youngstown versus Prairie View, I'm going to sit back and admire the emotion and purity of this extraordinary game. I hope you all do too.