Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Few Quarterbacks

Did anyone see the Notre Dame-Purdue game Saturday night? I didn't get around to watching it until last night, but I'm glad I did. As a fan of good college football, I enjoyed myself very much, and as a fan of Notre Dame football, I felt even better. I knew that Notre Dame had won the game, and I had heard some talk about how it was "an exciting finish," but I didn't know it was that exciting.

Notre Dame went into the 4th quarter leading 17-7, but soon it was 17-14. Starting Notre Dame Quarterback Jimmy Clausen had come out of the game after the 1st quarter on account of a bad case of turf toe, but with Purdue charging down the field, it was time to put him back in. Notre Dame stopped the Purdue drive, but got little out of their own next possession. When Purdue got the ball back, they drove it down the field and scored, leaving only 3:41 left on the clock. The next part could've been a movie or something (except there's already a movie about a Notre Dame football player). Clausen headed back out onto the field and the whole team seemed re-energized. Limping and favoring his right foot between plays, Clausen went 6 of 9 for 69 yards and a touchdown. The drive was excellent. It came down to a 4th and goal from the 2 with 0:24 left on the clock and Clausen fired it in Kyle Rudolph for the score. If I'd been watching the game live I probably would've jumped up out of my seat, but as it was, I just smiled.

Clausen showed just how much of a leader he is on that team. Not just his play, but his presence helped elevate his team for the win. Clausen looked smart, sharp, and determined on that game winning drive. He currently has the 4th highest quarterback rating in the Nation.


Have you heard the name Ryan Mallett floating around this season? Before last Saturday's loss to Alabama, Mallett had the highest pass rating in the Nation. Now he's only 29th. His team's only played three games, but Mallett's racked up 877 yrds and 7 TDs. When I heard the guys on SportsCenter talking about Mallett, the name sounded so vaguely familiar... like I'd heard it before. And then I remembered (you may already know this)!

Mallett played at Michigan two years ago. As a true freshman, Mallett started 6 games and played in 10 games while starting QB Chad Henne was hurt. When Rich Rodriguez took over for long-time Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, the prospect of Mallett getting the start in Rodriguez's spread offense looked slim. So, what did Mallett do? He left. Mallett sat out a year (long enough for his name to slip back in my memory) and is now starting for Arkansas. Mallett's 6'7" and 240 lbs., so besides just being taller and able to throw over defenders, he's also a challenge to take down. I look for him to rebound from last week's loss and keep putting up great numbers the rest of the season.


Speaking of Michigan Quarterbacks, I just want to give a shout out to Tate Forcier. I talked about him a bit in reference to their last minute win over Indiana last week. Forcier is a true freshman who loves pressure (I'm not just saying that - he said so himself) and responds dang well to it. And he's got real grit (is that the right word?). Forcier bruised his shoulder during the 4th quarter of last week's game, but when it came time to step up, he stepped out, forgot about the pain, and put together an amazing game-winning drive. Twice. The video shows him on the side-line wincing just from someone giving him a congratulatory slap on the shoulder, but out on the field, you wouldn't have known otherwise. There was question about who would win the starting job at Michigan this season, but his his play the last two weeks has taken that question out of the minds of a lot of people. Next week at Michigan St should be a great game to watch.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ASU; 2-1

The Georgia Bulldogs won the game and moved themselves up the ladder from the #21 spot to #18 in the rankings, but it was the Sun Devil play that got me excited.

Let me start by congratulating the Devils on their excellent game Saturday. I have to admit, I was a doubter; I didn't even expect them to do as well as they did. But I don't think I was the only one who was proven wrong and given a show to be excited about. ASU still hasn't made it up into the Top 25 polls yet, but Saturday night's game (even though it was a loss) was good enough to get ASU four big points in the AP poll (that would be good enough for 34th if the rankings didn't actually stop at 25 - and that's four more points than they had before)!

So here's my opinion of what we learned about ASU Saturday night:

Defense - We learned that ASU has a solid defense up front. Their D-line and linebackers got the job done, holding Georgia to only 92 yds rushing.  However, the secondary was exposed, getting burned several times down the field including that huge 36 yd completion with a minute and a half left.With the exception of Holdin's interceptions, I wasn't impressed with the secondary.

Burfict - Speaking of defense, Have you heard of Vontaze Burfict? Is it any coincidence that his name rhymes with perfect? Maybe it is, but he really stood out Saturday night. I'd never heard of him before, but my brother-in-law was raving about him before the game even started (i think he has a man-crush). I've been all about senior linebacker Mike Nixon, but I learned he's not the only linebacker we've got. Burfict was all over the field, and came up huge helping to stop Georgia's goal line push in the 4th quarter. At 6'3" and 245 lbs, Burfict was a huge prospect coming out of High School, and though he originally committed to USC, he eventually chose ASU. Now, as a true freshman, he's definitely showing why he was a top prospect.

Quarterback - We learned that Danny Sullivan really isn't that good. He lacks poise in the pocket, he lacks agility, he doesn't scramble well when he gets flushed out of the pocket, he's not a very accurate passer, and he's not the smartest as far as quarterbacking goes. With all that said, I still think he's the best we've got. He's a senior and has been around for a few years, so he knows the play book. And though not the most athletic, he is big (6'4"), which gives him an advantage when he steps back to pass

Weber - Thomas Weber is the man. He'll be out with a groin injury for another few weeks, and that could haunt us. Over the last couple years, Weber has proved himself as one of the best kickers in the nation. And I'll just say what I think - If it were Weber kicking that field goal on Saturday night, it wouldn't have been blocked and we would have won, or at least sent it to overtime.

O-Line - How many plays did Danny Sullivan actually have time to stand in the pocket and throw? It seemed as though he was rushed on every pass play. And I won't say it wasn't to the credit of Georgia's pass rush, but ASU needs to work on pass protection. However, they're run blocking looks fairly good. Nance only ran for 92 yrds, but I felt good about their run blocking.

At any rate, with great credit to our strengths, and despite our weaknesses, towards the end of the fourth quarter, we were in position to put the game away. A few missed catches, bad throws, and a low kick led to our fall. Missed opportunities cost us the game, and I just hope we don't see these same mistakes again.

Check out the Highlight video HERE.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Upset Update

Alright, it was a rough week in college football, and let's start with telling you who got upset...


All the teams I like, and wanted to win, lost. And all the teams that should have won lost. It was rough.

Let's start with those 5 games I was looking forward to:

Indiana @ Michigan - I've got mixed feelings about this game, but overall I'm happy about it. It was a rainy day in Ann Arbor, rather dull really. The 3rd quarter could be described the same way. But the 4th quarter was exciting! With 9:15 left, Michigan drove the ball down the field and Tate Forcier flew (literally) into the endzone on a seven yard run. He went airborn over the defender and was carried into the endzone by his teammate. The 2-point conversion went about the same, with Forcier going up and being pushed across the goal line while in the air. Michigan 29-26. In less than two minutes though, Indiana broke through on an 85 yd TD run to go back up 33-29. The final Michigan drive was epic, as Tate Forcier led the Wolverines to a second come-from-behind win.

See the highlight film HERE (and don't forget to laugh at the fit the Indiana coach throws at the end)

California @ Oregon - No mixed feelings about this one, I was disappointed. Final score: Cal 3, Oregon 42. This wasn't just an upset, this was a blowout. Cal didn't even show up. I mentioned last week that the Ducks would be looking to live up to their pre-season expectations... well, they did. They've even got themselves in the Top 25 now.

Florida @ Kentucky - I'm gonna say i was partly right about this game. The Gators came out swinging. End of first quarter: Gators up 31 - 0. The slowed down after that, finishing with a 41-7 win after Tebow got knocked out (literally) in the 3rd quarter. He was able to walk off the field, but ended up being taken to the hospital in an ambulance and staying there for the night. I hear he'll be back and ready for LSU in two weeks (they're off next week). They'll need him too, LSU is looking like a solid team so far.

Arizona State @ Georgia - Did you know they weren't even showing this game on regular cable? You had to have ESPNU to watch it. Well, we worked it out so we could watch it, and I'm glad we did. It showed me a lot about my Sun Devils. The second half was great, especially the 2 minutes where ASU went from being down 14-3 to being up 14-17. Jarrell Holman's interception return for a touchdown was amazing! And I'm not just saying that because he's a Sun Devil. In the end, it was missed opportunities (and a missed field goal) that I think cost us the game, but I'm still glad I got to watch it. Look for a separate post about my favorite team's Saturday performance later today; I've got a lot more to say about ASU.

Miami @ Virginia Tech - I almost don't want to talk about this game, but you've got to give Virginia Tech credit. They ran all over the Hurricanes. It was embarrassing. It was one of those games that you just want to turn off, but you leave it on thinking that it just has to get better - it can't possibly get worse - but things never get better. From start to finish the Hurricanes looked terrible. I take that back... they came out of the locker room at half-time and put up a great TD drive that looked like they were ready to play, but it was just a facade. It was a rainy day (I think it was raining across the entire East Coast/Southeast - every game over there was rainy this week), and Miami could NOT tackle. It was worse than a High School football game. It was like they forgot how to tackle. I was pretty embarrassed, but watched till the end. Really I don't think Miami's that bad of a team, and I think they'll bounce back. It was just rough watching them go down 31-7 like that.

Real quickly - A few other disappointing games/upsets from this week:
South Carolina over #4 Mississippi 16-10 - Ole Miss couldn't get any offense going. It was rough to watch.
South Florida over #18 Florida St. 17-7 - S. Florida might actually be a good team. They sure looked like it against Florida St.
Iowa over #5 Penn State 21-10 - When I watched Iowa beat Arizona 2 weeks ago, I thought they looked good, but everyone said it was only because it was Arizona they were playing. But I was right.
Stanford over #24 Washington 34-14 - Maybe WA was only ranked because they beat USC on a USC off-night, but still, you shouldn't turn around and lose to Stanford. Maybe I only consider this an upset because it has Pac10 implications though.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Games to Watch

Only 2 days until Saturday! Even with school starting and keeping me busy, it seems like the weeks get longer during college football season. There's 6 long days between saturdays. But this week's almost up, and Saturday's gonna be exciting!

Here's the games that I'm excited about this week:

Indiana @ #23 Michigan, 12:00 PM ET - I just like watching Michigan play. They've looked good so far this season, and I'm watching to see if they can continue that trend. If nothin else, I'm a Michigan fan and Just want to see this game.

#6 California @ Oregon, 3:30 PM ET - California opens their PAC-10 play against the Oregon Ducks and it should be a great game to watch. The Golden Bears are looking to run the table, while the Ducks are anxious to get back into the mix. They were expecting to put up a better argument for themselves this season and it hasn't looked that way yet, so they'll be fighting hard. California's top receiver, Boatang, is still out injured, but it's not like that slowed them down much last week.

#1 Florida @ Kentucky, 6:00 PM ET - Let me tell you why I'm excited about this game, and it's not because I'm just jumping on the Gator Bandwagon. I'm curious to see how bad Florida whips Kentucky. kentucky has been gearing up the defense, but I'm not sure how much it'll matter. After last week's too-close-for-comfort game against Tennesse, you better believe Urban Meyer has got his team, especially his offense, ready for this game, and he's not gonna hold much back. Florida is supposed to be a superior team, but last week, they merely looked good. This week they'll be trying to show that dominance again.

ASU @ #21 Georgia, 7:00 PM ET - ASU's my home team, of course I'm looking forward to watching this game. And they've got some exciting players that are fun to watch; Omar Bolden ran the opening kick-off back for a TD last week, Kyle Williams has been getting a lot of touches and he's quick and fun to watch, and Mike Nixon is a strong defensive force. They may not beat the Bulldogs, but it'll be a great game to watch.

And the game I'm most excited about this week is...

#9 Miami (FL) @ #11 Virginia Tech, 3:30 PM ET - Virginia Tech has been known for a strong defense, though it hasn't really shown up yet this season. If it does, it'll be a close game. Otherwise, I'm afraid Miami will have the edge. Virginia Tech can score, but Miami can SCORE. Go 'Canes!

Have you seen this?

I think this guy must be joking. Well, actually, he wasn't, because he actually sent the e-mail and everything. but still... Really?

Kelly Responds to Invoice With $439 Refund

I've gone to plenty of sporting events and watched my team lose. I've even gone to games where my team didn't just lose, but looked completely talentless doing it. Buying a ticket for a sporting event isn't like buying a new tv or a new laptop. There's no "satisfaction-or-your-money-back guarantee." If it doesn't work out for you, too bad. You're not guaranteed a win from your team just because you went to the game. Deal with it.

Even still, I understand that a lot of coaches get these e-mails from disgruntled fans. I'm actually kinda surprised that Coach Kelly responded to it. Do I agree with Tony Seminary that it showed class on Kelly's part? Not really. In fact I'm not sure what Kelly might have been thinking. Depression? Responsibility? Was the loss that disheartening to him that he wanted to start passing out his money? I'll take some. Hey Kelly, you're the head coach of a Division I football program. You don't have to answer to a disgruntled fan who's got buyers remorse for going to a game and watching his team lose. Your job is to forget about it and move on.

Moving on... I'm not really that passionate about it. I just thought the whole exchange was kinda interesting. And the website this article quoted from,, is whack; maybe it's your cup of tea, but I won't be bookmarking it. Maybe I don't get the humor. Or something.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Quarter Review

I'm an accountant. I'm used to words like "Balance Sheet," "Income Statement," and "Retained Earnings." And accountants like to evaluate things; things like quarterly reports and stuff. Well, since I'm not good at analogies, and since this post isn't actually about accounting, I'll get to the point: We're three weeks into the season. Most teams will play 12 games this season, so, ignoring bye weeks, we're just about one quarter into the season (3/12). Without further ado, I give you:

Mike's First Quarter Report
Players and Teams that stood out in the first quarter of college football play.

(In no particular order)

Jahvid Best, Junior, RB, California - Best is small. At 5'10" and 195 lbs, he's not the biggest running back, but boy is he quick. He's explosive out the backfield and he doesn't take long to hit full speed once he turns the corner. He's got seven consecutive games (and counting) with over 100 yards, in fact, in his lowest performing game of the three so far this season, he only had  131 yds rushing. He's a work horse who gets a lot of touches each game, but he's versatile too, and can line up in the slot for receptions. In my opinion, I wouldn't stop at saying Best is one of the top 5 running backs in the nation, I'd say he is THE "Best."

Eric Decker, Senior, WR, Minnesota - The Minnesota Golden Gophers lost to Jahvid Best and the Golden Bears just last week, but it was by no means any fault of Eric Decker's. Decker is big, has good speed, and great hands.  In only 3 games, he's already over 415 yrds receiving. Decker had a great game Saturday, which included two great plays. One of which was making a big touchdown catch while taking an even bigger hit. The other was taking the end around and then throwing a touchdown pass to the back-up quarterback who had lined up at receiver. I've only seen him this season, but I think he's going far.

To see some exhibition of Jahvid Best,
and the huge-catch-while-taking-a-huge-hit by Eric Decker,
check out this 38 second highlight video from Saturday’s game.

Jacory Harris, Sophomore, QB, Miami (FL) - This kid is the real deal. Have you seen him yet? The 'Canes have only played two games so far this season; Harris has thrown for 656 yrds and 5 touchdowns. He led his team through a back and forth game to a victory over 18th ranked Florida St. in their opening game this year, and then looked dominant in their win over 14th ranked Georgia Tech last week. I'm excited to see how far the 'Canes go this season with Harris at the helm.

Jake Locker, Junior, QB, Washington - Are the Huskies really that good, or was it just luck that they beat USC last week? Maybe a little of both, but they certainly weren't lacking at the quarterback spot. I've been impressed with Locker since he was starting games as a freshman 2 years ago. Locker is big, at 6'3" and 225 lbs, and his ability to get out of the pocket is a threat to defenses. He's not the fastest, or the most agile, but he's not afraid step out of the pocket and run with it when he should. Locker threw for over 200 yards on Saturday and had 1 rushing touchdown. He's always a force.

Jimmy Clausen, Junior, QB, Notre Dame - Notre Dame has a fairly pass happy offense, and that works out just great for Clausen. With decent (not great, but decent) completion percentages in each of Notre Dame's three games so far, Clausen has racked up over 900 yrds passing and 9 TD's. Clausen shows good poise in the pocket and I like him as a player. He's smart and has good vision down the field.

Dez Bryant, Junior, WR, Oklahoma St. - Dez Bryant is explosive and lightning fast. He's got good hands and he burns defenders. Bryant is a tough player who can take a hit and get back up and burn you on the next play, which he did to Bryan Evans in their game vs Georgia in week one. He hasn't put up amazing numbers so far, but he's put the ball in the end zone 4 times in three games and looked good doing it.

Mike Nixon, Senior, LB, Arizona State - Last but not least on my list is ASU Linebacker Mike Nixon. I've been calling his number for the last three years, even if no one else was. In ASU's opener versus Idaho State, Nixon had 3 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. I was at the game last week, vs Luisana-Monroe, and witnessed Nixon all over the field. He moves great laterally and is in on virtually every tackle. Defense doesn't always get a lot of attention, but Nixon is top notch.

Just a few because this post is getting long.

Michigan - Michigan was terrible (sorry Tony) last year with a better-than-it-looked 3-9 record. But they're off to a much better start this season at 3-0, including a big win over the then 18th ranked Fighting Irish. Coach Rodriguez is getting things together and it's good to see the Wolverines back in the rankings (23rd right now).

California - California looks great this year. As I mentioned in my last post, they've got a good shot at winning the Pac10 Championships this year, and right now, I see them ending up in a BCS bowl game come January.

Miami (FL) - This team has only had two games so far - both against ranked teams - and they've come out of it 2-0! I'm excited about Miami this year and they're fun to watch play. They've got a pretty explosive offense that can put points on the board quickly. Miami used to be a big name in college football. It's good to hear them being mentioned again.

So there you have it. That's my review of the first quarter of the 2009 College Football Season. What do you think so far? Did I miss anyone? Did I give too much credit to someone?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Party Crashers, Underdogs, and Upsets.

My definitions of the three, as they relate to college football, are as follows (correct me if I'm too far off):

Party Crasher: A seemingly unknown team that is somehow relevant this season and breaks into the rankings when no one thought they'd be there. A classic example of this is Boise State, almost every year.

Underdog: A team that sucks. That shouldn't even have a chance to win, but they somehow do.

An Upset: Please see USC vs. Washington

Now sometimes I like me an underdog - I was always a big fan of Rudy and everything - but generally speaking, I despise upsets. Who wins in an upset? The cynics? Those who bet against the odds? My friend Chris who loves to see good teams fall?

I like consistency. Good teams are supposed to win, and lousy teams are supposed to be lousy. When good teams play good teams, they battle it out and someone comes away victorious. And when lousy teams play lousy teams, no one cares either way. But how on earth does such a strong team/program like USC throw away a game to such a mediocre/weak team like Washington after beating them by 56 last season? It's beyond me.

I do like it when a game comes down to the wire like this game did; when it all comes down a final field goal kick with seconds left. But it's USC! USC and Pete Carroll have been Pac10 champs (or co-champions) for the last 7 years in a row. What kind of collapse does it take to lose to a team that was 0-12 last year?

Let me tell you. While listening to KTAR 620 AM yesterday, I heard Gambo and Ash referring to coaches Bob Stoops and Jim Tressel and their ability to choke in big games. I think Pete Carroll's problem is his ability to choke in small games. They were coming off a big win against Ohio State the week before, and I'm not sure if it was complacency, or conceitedness, or what, but Coach Carroll did not have his team mentally prepared for last week's game against Washington. The thing is, if this were a one time occurrence, no one would be talking about it, but the Trojans have done this three years in a row. Last year they were ranked no. 1 when they lost to a one hit wonder Oregon St. team. The year before that, it was Stanford knocking them off in week 6, and the year before that they lost to Oregon St.

Was it really all coach Carroll's fault? Sure there was some sloppy play by the offense - some fumbles, some bad passes - and sure they were playing a back-up, freshman quarterback, But I think that a football program as strong as USC should be able to handle a Washington team that won zero games last year.

But if the Trojans blow these small games each year, and still go on to be Pac10 champ every year, do these small losses have any relevance? Maybe not. But it does change a couple things? 1) A win against 3rd ranked USC was good enough to bump Washington into the top 25 AP poll. Good for you Washington, let's see how long you can stay there. More importantly: 2) It gives Cal an opening at a chance to sneak in and take the Pac10 this year. Cal has a darn good team, and probably the best running back in the country. If they can knock off USC when they play in two weeks, they could have a chance to run the table in the Pac10.

In truth, I don't really like USC. ASU's my team, and they get beat every year by USC. But more than I dislike USC (it's more of a grudge really), I despise upsets. Let the good teams' losses come at the hands of better teams, not lucky teams. That's all.