Sorry I'm getting this up very, very late. Busy week in my personal life. As always, when I am late like this, I will limit it as though I am posting on Tuesday. I will not have a look ahead point as most of the things I am looking forward to have already happened. As we near the half way point in the NFL, after week 9 I make my official NFL playoff predicitions. Unlike others, I do very well with these as I wait until HALF OF THE SEASON IS PLAYED. Last year, because of this, I had Miami and Atlanta in the playoffs, unlike all of those publications that try to predict what's going to happen before the season. Also, I dedicate this week's edition in Memory of Jasper Howard and to the Unversity of Connecticut football program. How some of those kids were even able to play yesterday. And major Kudos to the University of West Virginia as well, for all they did yesterday. Well, on to the blog.
1) The good, the bad, and the ugly- You can just hear the music, can't you? This my friends, refers to the three critical calls in last week's UF Arkansas game that went against the Razorbacks. And I realize as a Gator fan, you might not take much stock in what I will tell you, but if you look at it realistically, you'll realize it's the truth. Now I purposefully avoided the boards after the game because I knew it'd be infested in Gator haters saying Arkansas got jobbed and the fix was in. Again, blaming things on the refs is loser speak, even when they make bad calls (in which case they made two [not three], one of which is never consitantly called and in the case of the one in question, almost never called, more on this shortly), they almost NEVER directly influence the outcome of the game. Arkansas had EVERY chance to win that game in spite of the for real and perceived bad calls, and honestly the Gators were VERY lucky to win. It's not often you turn over the ball four times and are still in the game. But back to the refs, I've only seen TWO times in my LIFE where the refs have indeed cost the team a game, the Oregon Oklahoma game a few years back and the Colorado 5th down game in 1990. Even in the Ed Hochuli debacle in San Diego Denver last year, a call that more directly affected the game than anything in UF Arkansas, people forget that after the play, it was 4th and goal from the 13. San Diego only had to make ONE MORE PLAY, and they couldn't do it. A bunch of my friends gave me, "Yeah, but San Diego was deflated, they thought the game was over, etc." Look, how many times to you see a 4th and 13 converted in the NFL? Not very often. Folks, in the end, the result of the game comes down to which teams made the plays and which teams didn't. Now, let's look at the three plays in question. First the good. The pass interference on Arkansas in the endzone against Deonte Thompson. Now I know a lot of people, especially in the media are going, look, what is the kid supposed to do. Then that means maybe the rule has to be looked at. But in this case, Thompson was absolutely impeded from coming back for a catchable ball. IN FACT, it was Tebow's poor throw that caused the PI situation, and how many times do you see that happen? I'd say AT LEAST half of PI's occur when the ball is thrown somewhere it's not supposed to be. But look, that flag gets thrown 100% of the time in the NFL where there is faceguarding, and 80-85% of the time in college where there is no face gaurding. Want to reduce your chance of being flagged? At least turn around and/or make a play on the ball. In this case, the defender did neither. Now for the bad. This would be the Riley Cooper PI in the end zone that wasn't called. Could it have been called, absolutely, and I wouldn't have been upset. But, if we are being honest with ourselves here, how many times do you see that called? Maybe 20% of the time? Receivers always get the benefit of the doubt as they are always looking for the ball and making a play on the ball. Usually the only time you see offensive pass interference called is during a pick(not an interception, BTW, a pick as in two people crossing and one purposefully rubbing off a defender), or the the receiver extends his arms to get clear separation. That's why you maybe see one a game. Again, get mad with the rule or the enforcement thereof, but yes, this could have been called. Now for the ugly, and the call that got the crew reprimanded. The personal foul on the Arkansas D-Lineman WHILE the play was still happening was atrocious and inexcusible. If there was one call that cannot be questioned or defended in any way it was that one. But again, it comes down to teams making plays, and on the subsequent touchdown run by Demps, he was going to score if he was 30 yards out instead of 10, so don't blame the inexcusible call on the ref as to WHY the Gators scored. Then it got worse as the SEC suspended the crew in question, and everybody again came out of the woodwork to use this as validation as to the two judgement calls (the PI's) in question were also wrong and the Razorbacks were thoroughly jobbed. Well, as I already explained, only one of the judgement calls was bad, and almsot never called, but folks, this was the SAME CREW that called the UGA LSU game with the phantom celebration call and the even worse makeup call. And I'm sure there were other mistakes in not such high profile games. They were suspended for their overall body of work, including the personal foul call in this game. Okay, I'll get off my soap box now.
2) Just to get right back on it- This time I'll be railing on the coaching staff of my beloved Buccaneers. I was in attendance for the debacle on Sunday, where after tying the game on a Fake Delhomme pick, the Bucs kick off to the Panthers with about 8:30 left in the game. At this point, all of the momentum is with the Bucs. But, after annoucing to the world that they were going to run the ball on every play, the Bucs still did not stop it. On the one or two plays they did get D Line penetration they couldn't tackle, but more often than not, first contact occured FIVE YARDS down field. After the game, coach Ra basically blamed it on a tired D using the excuses of the kickoff return for a TD and pick six as reasons why they were out there so much. No coach, here's what the problem was, and it was blatantly obvious to all of the people I talked to who even watched it on TV, and should show up in the film. ZERO, and I mean ZERO adjustments by you and Bates and the defensive staff on that last drive. The whole time, THERE WAS NOT PLAY ONE WHERE THE BUCS HAD EIGHT OR NINE IN THE BOX. Both safeties played back, the LB's weren't adjusted, and the result is a TD that takes seven minutes off the clock. THIS COACHING STAFF IS IN WAAAAAAAAY OVER THEIR HEADS, and is exactly what these so called Bucs fans deserve, unfortunately. And can we stop with the shiny happy BS on the Bucs radio post game show? Take the positives out of the game?? What positives? This team is absolutely abismal at 0-6. Stylez G. White getting his first sack? Oh, happy, happy, joy, joy! Yeah, because he and the rest of the line were getting SUCH consitant pressure the whole game. The only POSITIVE I took out of the game was Aqib Talib, who for the second week had his man on lockdown. Oh, and I am POSITIVE that Josh Freeman needs to be starting sooner rather than later. And could coach Ra please shut up around the media? Every time he talks to them, he says something really stupid, usually calling out players. Coach, that needs to be done behind closed doors.
3) Red River TO fest- Don't get me wrong, it was still a good game, and very much along the lines of the close defensive game I expected, but EIGHT turnovers in the game just kind of kills the pacing. Still, great job by the Longhorns, although I'm sure there were Pac-10 fans in here complaining about how boring it was.
4) A look at the first BCS poll- You know, as much as I can't stand the BCS, the first poll did get one thing right. It rewarded teams that were undefeated, and put the Trojans in their 7th place spot (that loss to UW is looking worse and worse by the week, BTW). And what is up with the AP poll? Can somebody PLEASE explain to me WHY oh WHY oh WHY is a THREE LOSS OU team still in the top 25? Yes, they lost their 3 games against decent competition by a combined five points, but are there REALLY teams out there that aren't more deserving? There has to be at least 25 zero, one, and two loss teams, right?
5) Who dat, who dat, who dat say they going to beat dem Saints- Wow, what a beat down put on by the Saints against the Giants this week. The Saints were in control for the entire game and made a huge statement to the rest of the NFL. I hate to give them props (mostly due to their fans), but in this case, a dominant win is a dominant win, against a pretty good team none the less.
6) Will the real Texans and Bengals please stand up- It's been hard in my Pick 'Em pools to figure out these two teams. I've only picked one Bengals game right all year. And the Texans. I just can't get a read on this team. It's one thing to be a mediocre team. It's another thing to have a mediocre record because one week you look like world beaters and the next like a college team.
7) Vikings, Broncos stay undefeated- And what a way for the Vikings having another late Brett Farve comeback and then having to hold your breath as the Ravens miss a kick. This D allowing 31 points to the Ravens is scary, though, and cause for concern. And remember when people thought Josh Daniels was the young rookie coach in way over his head??? Nope, we have that guy down here in Tampa.
8) Wreck rambles over Tech- In on of the big college football matches this week, Ga Tech ran roughshot over Va Tech using their triple option to perfection in a huge 28-23 win. The Hokies just seemed unable to make the adjustments to slow down Nesbitt and Dwyer. That was a huge statement game for the Jackets and one that just might get them to Tampa on Dec. 5th and Miami on Jan. 5th.
9) Other NCAA football musings- Just some quick hits on the other NCAA games I said I was looking forward to: Alabama dominated South Carolina a lot more than what showed on the scoreboard, Doyle's Heisman frontrunner was (thankfully) not able to get it done in crunch time against the other SC, and the black shirts were able to slow down the Texas Tech offense, but not nearly enough to cover for their struggling offense.
10) The NBA, it's Fan-tastic- Well, not really, at least not for me. It does start for real, though, so I will look to mix some hoops talk in from time to time. I'm much more of a fan of the college game. Somewhat follow the Magic just because they are the closest team. They seem to be set up for another division title and maybe another long run in the playoffs. Actually, last year I was playing a little game to see how many coaches got fired during the season. The NBA is the king of midseason turnover. Actually, bringing this up makes me surprised that as of yet, no NFL coach has gotten the axe yet.