Monday, September 21, 2009

quick-hit thoughts: rainy days & Mondays always get me down

Some sympathy for a moment, please, even if it's completely superfluous.
Stacey and I woke up super early Saturday morning, due to the rather bizarre kickoff time in Tuscaloosa. We endured the on-again, off-again rainfall, fought our way through the traffic and strode into Bryant-Denny Stadium just before kickoff (with my two brothers in tow). We took in the surprisingly satisfying blowout, mingled with some friends, avoided the rain (for the most part) and were back home by around 6:30 p.m., CDT.
Darkness was falling. Rain was, too. We'd picked up some supper from Chick-Fil-A, one of the greatest fast-food chains on the planet. All either of us wanted to do was veg out on comfortable furniture and watch Auburn, Georgia and Texas all play at once.

Unfortunately, the cable was on the fritz.

When I say "on the fritz," I don't mean "out completely" ? I mean, "on the fritz" in the sense that we could tell what was going on, but only vaguely. Also, no cable meant no Internet ... which meant no blogging.
All that to say, I apologize for having no thoughts in blog form after this weekend, but the dog ate my homework. Sorry.

So here are some quick-hit thoughts before we move on to next week.
— Alabama's win was, as I said, thoroughly satisfying. North Texas was clearly outclassed from the opening snap, but there were multiple causes for concern going in: the weird kickoff time, the injury situation, the weather and the general lack of interest from the crowd (owing to factors 1 and 3). But 'Bama stepped on the gas early and never let up — they even earned positive grades from BSR. That's what good teams are supposed to do when faced with inferior competition.
— The most awkward part of Saturday's game: Alabama chose this Saturday to honor the 1989 SEC champion team at halftime. I say "awkward" not because the team didn't deserve honor — they did win 10 games, the SEC and went to the Sugar Bowl. But it was awkward for two reasons:
• Head coach Bill Curry was on the field with the team, and most Alabama fans still despise him with a special flair, both for the way he left town (basically fleeing because he was tired of the pressure) and for everything that's happened since (he painted himself a martyr at every turn).
• For whatever else that '89 team accomplished, they're probably best remembered for what happened at Auburn in the last game of the season (which I will link to but not show, for reasons related to my father's mental health).

— Coming into this Saturday, I remain a little afraid of Arkansas, a team that proved it's capable of scoring in bunches last week against Georgia. I'm less afraid now than before, and only because I believe this Alabama team is MILES ahead of Georgia defensively, and if Joe Cox can rack up that many points against this Arkansas defense ... I think we'll blow them out in the second half.
— For the sake of the game of football, Auburn had to win Saturday night against West Virginia. The 'Eers are a poorly coached fraud. Anyone who gives them a top-25 vote this season should have his voting privileges revoked.
— Does Auburn's 3-0 start make them worthy of a top-25 spot, as Jerry argued today? Possibly. I have no idea. In fact, I can agree with Tony Barnhart's assessment that we don't really know anything at this point. Even Chris Low seems confused in this week's SEC Power Poll.
— Monte Kiffin will, of course, receive much of the credit for Tennessee's moral victory on Saturday in Gainesville, holding Florida to a mere 23 points and making them look human at times. If you will, however, allow me to suggest a different culprit: Ed Orgeron.
Why? Here's what I wrote in late September 2007, after a similarly unstoppable Florida team had to grind out a 30-24 victory over Orgeron's Ole Miss team in Oxford:
Ole Miss provided the blueprint on how to beat Florida Saturday: keep things in front of you and make them drive down the field, hope they'll get frustrated and make a mistake. Unfortunately, Coach O's D isn't good enough to do it. ...
For all its frills, [Florida's] offense is geared around the abilities of two extraordinary players: Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin. And because Harvin is a slithering dart of a football player, they can't rely too heavily on him to run between the tackles.
As they showed Saturday against Ole Miss, that leaves them with Tebow to get most of the tough yards in between the tackles. And he's a freak of nature, obviously -- a 6-3, 240-pound bull who delivers licks like a fullback and also throws the ball 95 miles per hour.
The thing is, Tyler Watts was like Tebow -- sans the big arm -- during his years at Alabama. And Tyler was hurt all the time. You can't ask your QB to carry the ball between the tackles 25 times per game, continuously getting popped by SEC linebackers and not get dinged at least once or twice over the course of a 13-game schedule.

That Florida team lost the following week to Auburn in one of the bigger upsets this decade. They wound up losing 3 more times that season.
Maybe it's not the same. Maybe it is. We'll see.
— USC, as is its custom, sleepwalked against a scrappy conference foe and found a way to lose. Dr. Saturday wonders how long we're going to continue to let this slide.
I'll say here exactly what I said after last year's stunning loss at Oregon State: USC can't keep getting passes for games like this. Three Four years in a row it's dropped out of the top two or three in the polls with a shocking, inexcusable loss to a vastly inferior outfit, with the exact same set of problems: Inconsistency at quarterback, a sketchy, makeshift running game and no go-to playmakers anywhere on an offense ostensibly overflowing with them.
Unlike last year, however, I'm no longer willing to concede that one-loss SC is certain to rebound and wind up running roughshod over the rest of the Pac-10, anyway. This bunch had a laundry list of obvious issues coming in, especially at quarterback, and it's not going to solve them by getting Matt Barkley back next week from his sore shoulder. These are not fluky problems: The Trojans are not good right now on offense; they're disconcertingly young on defense; and they're banged up everywhere.
USC, though, USC is the Same Old Trojans: Win the big one, gaffe away the little one. Four straight years and counting. Again, I'll repeat myself from last September's loss in Corvallis: If Ohio State deserves to be ridiculed and scorned and run out the mythical championship picture on a rail for its primetime, big game failures, when are we going to hold USC accountable for repeatedly losing the little one?

UPDATE (can't believe I left this one out the first time): What Florida St. did to BYU went well beyond impressive. I didn't see any of the game, but for the 'Noles to go on the road, to play a team riding a wave of momentum, in a game the home team HAD to have for its national title hopes ... and then they whipped them, and did so with authority. Obviously, it's too early to say FSU is experiencing a return to its old, dominant ways, but ... sheesh. That game looked hauntingly familiar.

And that's pretty much that. Here's hoping we get our cable back, and the world returns to something resembling normal by tonight.

1 comment:

UmcMatt said...

I'll admit that when they annonced that Curry was there my comment was, "You mean he actually showed up here? Crap, I never have a brick handy when I need one".