Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Beginnings

Fall is here. Sure, it's still hot. Yesterday was labor day. No matter. It's college football season. The rites of autumn are upon us, and while this past weekend was not an historic day, it should not be ignored. Here's the 5 Tool Blogger's take on everything that happened this weekend.

Vote Like A Champion Today

Notre Dame traveled to Atlanta to face Jon Tenuta's tenacious defense on Saturday and came away with a 14-10 win. Notre Dame played well and while it could be argued that the Irish got a little help from the officials (http://http://www.ajc.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/ajc/sportscolumns/entries/2006/09/03/tech_cant_finis.html?imw=Y) they did well with what was in their power. Brady Quinn didn't look like himself at first glance, but this Tech defense is underrated. Quinn played well and is still a solid Heisman candidate. No, Notre Dame didn't light up the scoreboard like they were accustomed to last year, but did everyone not notice another difference? The Irish defense sure looked good. The same one that gave up 617 yards to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl last year. The knock on Notre Dame all along was that their defense wouldn't be able to play well enough for them to go undefeated. While things may not be solved, they've clearly made a massive improvement. Tech, with 4th year starter QB Reggie Ball and all-world WR Calvin Johnson are no slouches on offense. Yes, Chan Gailey stopped feeding Johnson the ball in the second half. Still, give some credit to the Irish defense. They really came out with a 617 yard chip on their shoulder and played quite well, leading the Irish to a win.

Yet, this weekend was a losing one for the Irish. How so? Well, the coaches decided to drop Notre Dame to 4th in the rankings, which is foolish for several reasons. The voters put Notre Dame at 2nd in the preseason because they have a dominant offense. The only questions were on defense, and those were answered. They're dropping Notre Dame for not whipping Georgia Tech, a team known for playing good defense, especially in big games? Ohio State held onto the top spot, which is fine. They played well against a somewhat quality opponent. Texas, however, replaced the Irish at #2. Yes, Texas, the team with a freshman quarterback. A team who must have really impressed voters by beating North Texas. Sure, Texas did what they were supposed to do, but is beating North Texas reason for a two spot jump in the rankings? USC struggled to put away a mediocre Arkansas team, and they moved ahead of Notre Dame. The Trojans sure made it look better by putting up 27 late, late points. That game was a 9 point game at halftime, though.

What I find amazing is all the cries of, "Notre Dame's overrated!" The naysayers may be right, but none of them know why. They keep changing their reasons. First, it was the defense. Now, it's the offense? Or was it that Georgia Tech shouldn't play that well against a great team? It's all ridiculous. If Notre Dame really disappointed so much, why was the game line set at 6.5 points? Shouldn't they have been favored by 24 or so if this win (WIN, I say!) was such a letdown? At least the bookies in Vegas have a grasp on what's actually going on. I'll admit that Tech isn't the toughest venue to play at, but Jon Tenuta is a fantastic coordinator. Notre Dame was the only team to go on the road and play a tough team and win, other than Florida State. Does that not count for something?

Bobby Petrino Helps Narrow Down the Heisman watch list

I'm glad running up the score on Kentucky was more important than keeping your potential All-American running back healthy. Michael Bush was probably going to be a top 15 pick next April. Now he'll be one of those risky picks, a la Willis McGahee. I hear the snapping of Tyrone Prothro's leg in the back of my mind as I look at this situation. When will coaches learn to bench their superstars, especially the really important ones, when they have big leads?

I've got the ACC Blues

Goodness, what a bad weekend for what is supposed to be a conference as deep as the SEC. While the SEC's bottom feeders were beating the spread against Michigan, putting up a fight against Louisville, beating Memphis, and holding a Steve Spurrier team to 15 points, the ACC's "middle" teams were struggling to beat Central Michigan, or worse, William & Mary. I realize that Maryland led W&M 27-7, but that's entirely too close for a self respecting BCS conference school to stand for. Still, what happened to the ACC?
Boston College allowed Central Michigan to play within a TD for the latter half of the 3rd quarter and then again for the final 4 minutes of the game.
Maryland was never in danger of losing, but they lost 4 turnovers to William & Mary and was nearly outplayed, despite the points falling in their favor.
UNC lost to Rutgers 21-16 without ever having the lead, and turned the ball over 3 times. They gave up 201 yards on the ground to Raymell Rice.
Wake Forest beat Syracuse 20-10. Some pundits thought Wake could turn some heads this year. This isn't the sort of performance which does that.
Virginia was dominated by Pitt. This ain't the Pitt of the Tony Dorsett days. This ain't even Larry Fitzgerald's Panthers.
The ACC's only good performances were from Georgia Tech, a team that lost, Virginia Tech and Clemson, who beat up on terrible schools, and the FSU-Miami game. After watching Duke lose to Richmond, I have to wonder what was in the water where the notion that the ACC was on par with the SEC was born.

Second Chances

Dan Hawkins better pray the Buff faithful believe in second chances. Losing 19-10 to Montana State, Colorado's first ever D1-AA opponent, is NOT what they had in mind when they hired the brains behind Boise State's recent run. I guess the key to the Broncos' success was, uh, not playing Montana State.

Running Dawg Wild

Much to my dismay, last year's Georgia Bulldog rushing statistics aren't available, aside from basic stats, so I've decided to keep my own. Last year, Kregg Lumpkin not only averaged the most yards per carry, but he was incredibly adept at never losing yards. Now, unfortunately, my knowledge of that stat is but a faint memory, and I am vowing not to have that happen again. So here I'll document every run of the season for Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and my pick as the best of the three, Kregg Lumpkin.

Brown: -3 yards, 5 yards, 0 yards, 4 yards, 5 yards, 8 yards, 2 yards (TD), 2 yards, 3 yards, 0 yards. However, simply logging the distances isn't telling enough, b/c a 2 yard run on 3rd and 1 is more valuable than a 5 yard run on 3rd and 9, so this may get more complicated. I'll look at how many yards were needed for each back, so here we go with Brown -
Gained... Needed
-3.... 10
5... 13
0... 10
4... 10
5... 6
8... 10
2 (TD)... 1
2... 10
3 (1st)... 2
0... 10

Ware:
3... 8
6 (1st)... 3
8... 10
4... 10
41 (TD)... 6
6... 10

Lumpkin:
11 (1st)... 10
10 (1st)... 10
2... 10
2 (TD)... 2
1... 17

So. Ware had the highest % of carries over 4 yards and Lumpkin moved the chains the most times. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out over the season. When it comes to getting the Dawgs closer to a first down,
Brown gained 29.3% of needed yards.
Ware gained 63.8% of needed yards.
Lump gained 51 % of needed yards, but most come on that 2nd and 17 rush. Without that rush, it's 75%. It'll be interesting to see who starts against the Gamecocks, but I think it should be Lumpkin. Considering what he did last year, he's certainly the best running back UGA has when it comes to moving the ball. Thomas Brown, I think, is a better option in the passing game, and by the looks of his first performance, he needs whatever edge he can get.

Enjoy.

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