Friday, September 29, 2006

Week Five BlogPoll

A little late, I know, but here's the BlogPoll I submitted for this week:

1 Ohio State --
2 Southern Cal --
3 Auburn --
4 Florida --
5 Texas --
6 Michigan --
7 West Virginia --
8 Louisiana State 1
9 Iowa 1
10 Notre Dame 1
11 Georgia 3
12 Oregon --
13 Louisville --
14 Virginia Tech 1
15 Oklahoma 2
16 Nebraska --
17 Tennessee 1
18 Cal 4
19 UCLA 2
20 Penn State 1
21 TCU 4
22 Clemson 4
23 Arizona State 9
24 Boise State 2
25 Florida State 1

Dropped Out: Michigan State (#20), Alabama (#23), Boston College (#24).

  • I probably should have punished West Virginia for the trouble they had with ECU, but I couldn't convince myself that they should be ranked lower.
  • A friend of mine (not a Buckeye fan) argues that Iowa has done nothing to warrant a top-10 ranking. Upon further review, I'm inclined to agree. Unfortunately, he points this out after I submitted the ballot. Oh well, we'll know just how good they are after this weekend.
  • Oklahoma moved up in large part because I shouldn't have dropped them that much last week. I still think they're worse than Oregon, but not as much worse as I had them.
  • UCLA loses and moves up? Oops. My bad.
  • Penn State didn't drop much because I didn't really learn anything new about them in that game. The game showed they had an excellent defense, a very good running game, and a QB that was the weakness of the team. I knew all that before the game.
  • Look for Clemson to continue to rise. The only loss was on a fluke in OT; they're at least a top 20 team, I think.
  • Florida State, successfully running the football! Way to go guys! Advancing the ball by carrying it. Jeff Bowden is an innovator.
  • Dammit, Michigan State, I believed in you! I thought this year would be different! But noooo, same old MSU.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sean's Guidelines for Freshmen

As you may be aware, classes started last week here at OSU. A lot of freshman are getting their college careers started. OSU can be a pretty daunting place to get yourself educated. As I am starting my fourth year at the Ohio State University, I have seen and done a lot on and around campus. So, as a public service, I am providing some guidelines, rules, suggestions, and/or observations designed to help freshmen get through their first year. If you aren't interested in the typical college life (e.g., you don't drink, you only care about getting good grades, etc.), then these guidelines aren't for you. Do your thing, have fun with it, and do it well. But if you're after the standard college experience, I may be able to help you out. Here we go. . . .
  1. Don't be a jerk. I understand you're off on your own for the first time. I understand you may have been Mr. or Mrs. Popularity at high school. Nobody cares anymore. There's enough people around that nobody has to be impressed with you, like you, or even acknowledge your existence. Be nice to people. You never know who might be able to help you out in the future, or who is just an interesting person worth knowing. The people that like everyone and have lots of friends are happier than the people making sarcastic comments behind people's backs.
  2. Don't be an idiot. Sure, you are expected to do stupid things as a college student, especially as a freshman. But there's a difference between doing stupid things and being an idiot. Drinking so much you black out and wake up naked on the Oval during gameday is doing something stupid and hilarious (at least to everyone else). Drinking so much you black out and pee on somebody's floor during a party is being an idiot. Basically, if your actions are funny and hurt nobody (or at least nobody but yourself), they're stupid things that you should occasionally do. If they annoy or hurt others, you're an idiot. Don't be an idiot.

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Public Service Announcement: That rug you're peeing on may really tie the room together. Don't do it.

  3. Leave your dorm room door open, unless you're doing things you don't want people to see. Basically, your door should only be closed if you're not there, sleeping, partaking of illicit substances, or engaged in sexual relations of one sort or another. If your door is always closed, people assume you're antisocial, and you miss out on all sorts of stuff. Plus you run the risk of being that guy who's always in his room alone with the door closed. We know what you're doing in there, young man.
  4. Don't have a long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend. Sure, it might be true love, and occasionally these relationships do work out, but almost all the time, they just die a slow, painful death. Meanwhile you're sitting in your dorm room on the phone while everyone else is out having a life. Freshman year is, in part, about irresponsibility and having fun; spending your weekend on the phone talking to a girlfriend you only see four times a year is neither.
Those four guidelines should help to ensure that you have some sort of social life. What do you do when you're out on the town? Funny you should ask:
  1. Don't go to parties in groups larger than five. Freshmen tend to all go to the same parties. It makes sense: freshmen don't know many people, so the ones that know someone throwing a party tend to attract a large crowd. It's one thing to tell twenty people about the huge party your friend's cousin is throwing; it's another to bring them all with you in one group. Doing so just screams "freshmen," and you don't want to look like freshmen. If a bunch of people are going to the party, at least break up into smaller groups. Everyone will still find out you're freshmen, but at least you won't make it so blatantly obvious. Speaking of going to parties. . . .
  2. Don't stand outside parties wondering if you can get in. That also screams "freshmen," which means "we don't belong here," which means "we won't get in." If you're just walking around looking for parties, decide if you're going to try to get into a party before you get there. If it's worth a shot, walk up like you belong. It might not work, but it's better than looking like you aren't supposed to be there. Of course, there are easier ways to get into parties. . . .
  3. Bring girls. Simple fact: pretty girls can get into any party. Sexist, but true. So if you want in the party, bring girls. At least enough to not hurt the guy-girl ratio, ideally more. A bunch of freshman guys showing up is annoying; girls showing up and bringing a couple guys is alright. And if you are a freshman girl, well, go to any party you want.
  4. Don't be an idiot. I bring it up again because it seems to be a problem for so many people. Don't be loud and annoying; don't scream out lines from Old School, Wedding Crashers, Animal House, or anything else. Don't pick fights with anyone. And especially, don't drink so much that you do something stupid and attract the attention of the police. The cops will generally leave you (and parties) alone so long as you're minding your own business and not causing trouble. So just stay cool and relaxed when you're out and about, and you'll be fine.
  5. Know your limits. Many hilarious stories involve blacking out and waking up in a random location. However, it's better to be the one listening to the story than the one telling it. Neither of you remembers experiencing it, so why be the one that picked a fight with the hockey club team, stole a hot dog from a 7-11, and passed out on the shoulder of a highway? If you're going to drink, you'll be better off in the long run if you maintain some sort of control over yourself.
Now, of course, you aren't at college to party; you're here to learn. I have advice on that too, but you've heard all of it already: go to class, study, get to know your professor, etc. It's all good advice, honestly. It will help you if you do all that, but you've heard it all already. I have only one piece of class-related advice to add.
  1. Don't half-ass it in your easy classes. It doesn't seem like a problem. Most of the 100-level classes seem so mind-numbingly easy that there's no good reason to go to class or study. Don't fall for it. They are that easy, but you need to make sure you do well in those to make up for the tough classes. It sucks to get your worst grade of the quarter in your easiest class. It sucks worse to not be able to apply for a couple internships you want because you don't meet the GPA requirements because you slacked off in a couple easy classes (happened to me, but luckily I found a job anyway). It sucks even worse to have to retake a 100-level course because you were too lazy to go. So put in the effort needed to get the grade you want. It might not take much, but if you don't do it, you'll regret it.
I'll finish up with some stuff I suggest you do on and around campus:
  1. Eat at the following: Raising Cane's on High Street between 14th and 15th Ave. (great chicken fingers, fantastic sauce), Flying Pizza on High, also between 14th and 15th (one of several good places for pizza), PJ's on Frambes, just east of High Street (home of the fat sandwiches, featuring such silliness as french fries, chicken fingers, mozarella sticks, and mac & cheese, all on a sandwich), and any other non-chain restaurant you can find. There's a lot of good places to eat on High Street; check out as many of them as possible.
  2. Do the following: jump in Mirror Lake on the Thursday of Michigan Week (wear sandals, but don't lose them in the lake), hang out on the Oval on the first nice day in spring (and just about any other nice day as well), attend the Big Free Concert (at least some point in your college career, you will get to see an artist you want to see for free), attend a concert at the Newport (small venue, pretty big names, good place to see a show), eat breakfast at Jack & Benny's (it's all the way up near Hudson Street, but the breakfast is great), sit in Block O (only because if you're here, you're a football fan, and there are no crazier fans at the Horseshoe than Block O).
There's certainly more to do than I listed, but if you follow the above guidelines and suggestions, you should be well on your way to enjoying your time at Ohio State. If anyone else has any other guidelines (or hilarious college-related stories), feel free to leave them in the comments. I leave you with one last point: class is important, but once in a while, it's perfectly acceptable to skip class because it's too sunny or because lawnmower racing is on TV.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I have skipped class to watch this on ESPN2. I have no regrets.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Catching Up

Woo! We beat Penn State! Some things to take away from the game:

  • Antonio Pittman got his twenty carries, and responded with 110 yards and a touchdown. Let's keep doing that.
  • Seeing Chris Wells run onto the field has to be demoralizing for a defense. It's third and short, everyone knows a run up the middle is coming, but there's nothing the defense can do about it. Someday, Tressel will run play action on third and short, and it will work beautifully because everyone's trying to stop Beanie.
  • Troy Smith didn't look very good. The Penn State defense had a lot to do with it, and they did a good job getting some pressure on him. The weather also influenced it, I think, as several times Troy just missed with his throws.
  • I think I'm developing a prejudice against tight ends. It seemed like every time we threw to a tight end, Troy either missed him or he dropped it. Let's not use tight ends anymore. H-backs and fullbacks are fine, however.
  • All the increased attention on Anthony Gonzalez has been and will continue to be great for Brian Robiskie. On any given play, at least three guys are dedicated to stopping Ted Ginn and Gonzo, which opens things up for Robiskie.
  • Hopefully we'll see more options and swing passes against Iowa. I think Tressel pulled the option from the playbook due to the rain, but he added the swing pass, which was very effective one time in particular. Pittman's great when you get him on the outside. He can outrun linebackers and defensive ends, and he breaks tackles from defensive backs.
  • Awesomeness:

Courtesy of Buckeye Commentary
  • James Laurinaitis might be my hero. At a certain point, creating turnovers stops being about luck and starts being about anticipation and instincts. The guy is just always around the ball when he needs to be.
  • Malcolm Jenkins is rapidly becoming great. Good technique, good instincts, and he's very physical. He should probably hold onto the ball all the way into the endzone next time, though.
  • Our D-line is great. Quinn Pitcock is always double-teamed and routinely gets in the backfield anyway. Patterson continues to improve, and all the defensive ends are playing very well, especially Vernon Gholston. They're still getting held a lot, though. I don't know what they can do about that. A joy buzzer under the jersey, maybe?
  • Still looking for a linebacker combination that works. John Kerr and Marcus Freeman looked better, but not good. Curtis Terry should probably be starting. Ross Homan's close, but not quite ready to start. Hopefully a couple guys can step up, and quickly.
  • For all the problems the defense has defending the run, they have yet to give up a rushing touchdown. They don't allow many touchdowns, period. The defense steps it up in the red zone.
  • Quick special teams note: It was wet with a crappy field. I'm not going to draw any conclusions about our punting and field goal kicking. They looked shaky, but they get a pass this week.
Penn State:
  • Dan Connor was PSU's best linebacker on Saturday, and he was very good. Paul Posluszny was decent, but not impressive. He seemed a little slow to me.
  • Tony Hunt was excellent. He's a quality back.
  • Anthony Morelli's not a bad QB, but the game should not be placed in his hands at any point in the game. He's not going to beat the opponent, and Penn State should make sure he doesn't beat them. He'll be a good quarterback before all is said and done, though.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Penn State - What to Watch For

The start of Gameday is nearing, so I don't want to take too long on this (particularly since these posts should probably go up on Fridays). But here's some things to keep an eye on this afternoon:
  • The pressure on Anthony Morelli and how he reacts to it - I'm guessing OSU will try to take the run away from Penn State and try to make Morelli beat them. They'll try to confuse him and force him into mistakes. If OSU is able to pressure Penn State consistently, that'll be a good thing. If, however, Morelli can avoid the pressure and make plays, that's a very bad thing. He's made some big mistakes this season, and the Buckeyes will try to force him into some more. I'm betting they will succeed, and he will not respond well under pressure in this game.
  • Both team's running games - OSU will be going up against another good back, so that's bad. But he's not as fast as Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles, and he's not as shifty as Garrett Wolfe, so that's good. If the Buckeyes can contain a talented, yet more conventional runner in Tony Hunt, that bodes well for the rest of the season. On the other side of the ball, I'm looking for Antonio Pittman to get more work. Something over twenty carries would be nice. If he can be effective, I think he'll see the additional carries. At the same time, though, it seems to me that Pittman doesn't really begin to get effective until he gets into his tenth carry or so. I'm just throwing this out there, Tressel, do what you want with it: Get Pittman at least twenty carries, regardless of how effective he is early on.
  • Aaron Pettrey - He's been good of late, so he's probably getting some confidence. It will be tested in these conditions. A slippery field and wind are not good things for a kicker. If he can make kicks today, he can make them anytime.
  • The weather - I've heard a variety of theories on who will benefit from this. The one I buy is that it's good for the receivers, since they know when and where they are cutting, while the defensive backs do not. At the same time, the wind might cause trouble on the deep balls. As a result, receivers should be open downfield, but quarterbacks may miss them.
So that's that. I'm off to watch Gameday. After that, I'm headed to the game, where I will stand in the rain, jumping and yelling all afternoon. I'm looking forward to it.

Enjoy the game, everyone, and GO BUCKS!

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Preview and A. Pittman

Mike from the Black Shoe Diaries contacted me and Keith from Buckeye Commentary, asking us to answer a few questions about the Buckeyes and the upcoming game with Penn State. You can see our answers here.

Speaking of Keith, he's got a nice post up about Antonio Pittman. It's what you already should know, that Pittman's the most underrated part of this offense. I keep bringing Pittman up just because people still don't appreciate him enough. There were a couple people in my section trying to get a "we want Beanie" chant started during the Cincinnati game. It was absurd. Pittman's great. The guy has worked hard, and has visibly improved each year. He'll be very important this weekend, I think.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Few Quick Links

  • Lydell Ross is selling his national championship ring (HT: MotSaG) - The obvious question is, of course, "Why?" Money is the obvious answer. He isn't actually selling it on eBay, I don't think, as the seller is also selling a gold pants charm from 2005, after Ross graduated. This means that whoever the seller is, he apparently has some connections with former players, particularly the disgruntled and in need of money segments. Interesting, and kind of a shame, since I'm not sure I could bring myself to part with a gold pants charm, let alone a national championship ring. But it's their stuff, they can do whatever they want with it, I guess.
  • T.J. Downing is pro-Sea of Scarlet - He basically says that it was really loud at Penn State, and OSU fans should try and do even better than PSU. I agree with him on both counts. Just because I don't really think of this game so much as revenge or a rivalry, doesn't mean I don't want a deafening environment for the game. I don't think it will be too insane, partly because it's an afternoon game, and partly because it's supposed to rain for the game, but it will still be plenty loud. I'm looking forward to it.
  • The replay official who botched the Oklahoma-Oregon game is taking a leave of absence - Probably for the best. It's a tough job, and I gotta say that anytime I see an official interviewed, I'm pretty impressed with how serious they are about always making the right call and how hard they take screwing up. This is probably for the best though. By next year, people will have moved on. Except for Oklahoma. Okies never forget. On a related note, I gotta say that Bobby Knight's comments are pretty funny.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Taking Care of Some Loose Ends

  • Yay, we beat Cincinnati! It was a decent game, aside from that first quarter.
  • Link update: Saturday Morning QB has moved, and I have fixed the link to reflect that. Only a month late!
  • Addition #1: Second Rate News, a Buckeyes blog, sort of. A good blog, certainly. It's entertaining, have a look.
  • Addition #2: Black Shoe Diaries, a fantastic Penn State blog. Know your enemy and all that, so check it out. Then keep checking it out, because it's good.
  • Addition #3: The Illini Report, a great Illinois blog that hasn't updated in two weeks. Figures, by the time I get around to updating links, Jake goes on vacation or something. Have a look anyway, and hope he updates again sometime soon.
  • Addition #4: Write On Sports, which I have already mentioned. It's a combination blog and collection of links, and worth a look.
  • I got an e-mail from Sam regarding a plan to have everyone wear scarlet to the Penn State game, as some sort of revenge for last year. I'm passing the plan along, but not because I wholeheartedly agree with it. I'm for the idea because I personally think that everyone should wear scarlet to every game, but that's more because it looks cool to have a solid color in the stadium. I'm not yet prepared to acknowledge any sort of rivalry with Penn State, so the idea of any retaliation or any effort to outdo them is silly to me. Right now, they're at about the same place as Wisconsin in my book: the fans kind of bug me sometimes, I don't like that we have so much trouble against them, but there's enough respect and indifference that it's not a rivalry for me. If they get a win this weekend, then maybe I'll call it a rivalry, but as of now, they're just a quality opponent. So wear scarlet to the game, certainly. But wear scarlet to every game, and don't get too worked up about this being a revenge game. And please, try to treat Penn State fans with respect. Treat your couches with respect, as well. Don't set either on fire.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The following should not be set on fire: furniture, Nittany Lions fans

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cincinnati: What to Expect

I'm guessing not too many people are going to read this before the game, since kickoff is in two and a half hours, but here's a couple things to keep an eye out for:

  • Ohio State should win this easily, but that doesn't mean they will. The fans are taking the Bearcats lightly, as they should, but if the team does the same, Cinci can get the win. I trust that Jim Tressel and Troy Smith won't allow that to happen.
  • Look for Ohio State to look better both running the ball and stopping the run. This isn't necessarily because they've improved that much, but because they're playing Cincinnati. There's no Garrett Wolfe or Selvin Young on this team. They split the workload between three backs, none of whom have looked especially good this season. On offense, if things go as planned, OSU should throw away the play book and just start running left, right, and up the middle in the third quarter.
  • Expect a couple more big plays for Troy Smith and Ted Ginn. Cinci blitzes a lot (they're coached by Mark Dantonio, after all), which means that if the line can pick it up, or if Troy can escape the pressure, the big play will be there.
  • Cinci has one defensive tackle that's listed at 6'0" 235. Look for him just to see a defensive tackle that's the size of a running back. The dude, Tony Carvitti, does have two sacks (leading the Bearcats in the statistic), so he's apparently effective in the role, which is impressive.
  • Be prepared to get a little annoyed at Dustin Grutza, the Cincinnati QB. He can run a bit, so don't be surprised if he takes off and picks up a few first downs. He is willing to gamble a bit on his throws, so hopefully the D can grab a pick or two.
Let's end with a few questions that should get answered today:
  • Does James Laurinaitis turn in another good game? There was talk that his Texas performance wasn't quite as good as advertised, that he got lucky a couple times, made tackles eight yards downfield, and wasn't really playing that well. I don't know about that, but I look to see if we're watching a great linebacker emerge, or just seeing a guy put in the occasional good game.
  • How good is Aaron Pettrey? He's made his first field goal, so some pressure is off, but does he develop some consistency? Hopefully he gets some work today and impresses.
  • Who is Ohio State's #3 QB? Justin Zwick will get some work, hopefully without getting booed. C'mon people, you go crazy for a quarterback that broke NCAA rules and got suspended for two games, but you complain and boo a guy that did nothing but give this team his best, just for a couple onfield mistakes. If you can forgive an NCAA violation (and you should in this case, don't get me wrong), shouldn't you forgive a few turnovers? I just don't get some people.

    Sorry, I got distracted. If things go like they should, another QB should get work beyond Zwick and Smith. Will it be Todd Boeckman, or Rob Schoenhoft? Good things have been said about both, and you have to think that the one that gets mop-up duty has the inside track for the job next year.

Friday, September 15, 2006

On Fiery Furniture

I've been thinking some about fan behavior, given the couch-burning after the Texas game, as well as the generally great treatment our fans received in Austin. In short, I've come to the conclusion that Ohio State has problems with fan behavior that, while overblown somewhat, still need to be dealt with. I have an idea about improving how fans of the opposing team are treated, and I will discuss that in the near future. Now, though, I want to talk about the supposed collection of arsonists that make up the OSU student body.

I've heard a few explanations for the couch and dumpster fires that have been set off. One of the arguments that can be dismissed immediately is that it isn't OSU students, since they aren't in town. That's not the case. Nobody's in the dorms, that's true. But that's only about a quarter of the undergraduate student body. Lots of students leave town for home or an internship. But just as many stay in town and work or take classes. I'd estimate that there are around 20,000 students still in Columbus. So while those fires weren't set exclusively by OSU students, I think it's safe to say that most of them were our doing.

I've also heard it said that it's not a big deal. I initially agreed. It's just a couch in the street or a dumpster in an alley; what's it matter? No, it's not real classy, but who am I to tell people how to have fun? For example, my neighbors set fire to a couch in the middle of the street, ten or twenty feet away from anything that was flammable. What's the harm?

The harm isn't the couch fire itself, generally. Occasionally a car or house will be damaged by a fire that gets out of control, but that's not the real problem. As I see it, the real problem is all the other, real emergencies going on at the same time. Every time the police have to spot a fire, they aren't able to deal with any actual crimes. Every minute a fire truck spends putting out a dumpster fire is a minute not spent on the way to a house fire. So yes, these need to be dealt with. But how?

Well, there's making it a felony to burn couches and dumpsters, as the firefighters have proposed. It's overkill, but it would probably be effective. I don't really think it's right that burning a loveseat is placed on the same level as assault, but it seems like such a simple way to solve the problem, which is what's needed, since getting to the root of the problem is much more difficult.

The real issue is, I think, that students need to be convinced to take pride in their community, and that's a difficult thing to make happen. The single biggest issue with that is that this isn't a college town; it's a city, and much of the student housing (and most of the fires) borders on some pretty bad neighborhoods. People that take pride in their neighborhood aren't going to set fires in it, but why take pride in a neighborhood where the side of your house got tagged with graffiti and someone just broke your car window and stole your CD player? There is, to some degree, a sense of, "Well, the police don't care about the crime, the landlords don't care about the houses, the city doesn't care about the streets and sidewalks, and the university doesn't care about the students as anything other than a source of income, why should I care about the neighborhood, when I'm out of here at the end of the year?"

Fixing this attitude would not be easy. First of all, most of the above isn't true. The police, city, landlords, and university do, in fact, care; this I know (well, except for the landlords). They need to do a better job of showing they're on the students' side. The police too often have a relationship with students that borders on adversarial; they break up our parties and arrest us for stepping onto the sidewalk with beers, but don't care when we get robbed, or so the argument goes. The police and the city in general need to find a way to work with students. The university would get off to a good start simply by not raising tuition for a year or two. The landlords, well, there's not a lot they can do. They basically assume that students are constantly destroying their properties, and we often are, and we think landlords are only trying to rip us off, and they often are.

In short, students need to feel like they are part of something worth improving and maintaining. Throwing arsonists in jail isn't a bad thing. I encourage it, in fact. That might solve the problem of dumpster fires, but if the city and university really want to make a difference, they need to work with students. Students shouldn't feel like the police are only waiting to arrest them; they should feel like they're on the same side as the cops. Students shouldn't feel like cash machines for the university; they should feel like the university takes as much pride in the student body as the student body takes in the university. Both of these things are true already: the police are on the same side as the students, and the university does want to help its students. And I don't mean to suggest that the students don't know this; most of us do. It's pretty easy to forget that, though, and that's a problem. But with effort from everyone, the city, the police, the university, and especially the students, I think there can be a real change in how the students look at their community, and I think that would solve problems beyond the burning couches issue.

Of course, if it doesn't work, they can just lock 'em all up and take away their beer. That's also effective.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Week Three BlogPoll

1 Ohio State --
2 Southern Cal 1
3 Auburn 1
4 Notre Dame 5
5 Louisiana State --
6 Texas 4
7 Florida 1
8 West Virginia 2
9 Michigan 1
10 Georgia 3
11 Nebraska 3
12 Iowa 5
13 Oregon 4
14 Oklahoma 4
15 Tennessee 1
16 Arizona State 3
17 Louisville 9
18 Virginia Tech 2
19 Florida State 4
20 Penn State 8
21 Cal --
22 Miami (Florida) 1
23 Michigan State 1
24 Boston College 2
25 Wisconsin --

Dropped Out: Clemson (#11), Alabama (#22).

Games Watched: All of Ohio State - Texas, parts of Notre Dame - Penn State, Iowa - Syracuse, and Virginia Tech - North Carolina

  • Yeah, I didn't watch too many games. What can I say? Saturday was a party.
  • I still don't know if Notre Dame was that good or Penn State was that bad. Probably a bit of both. For now, though, I'm working under the assumption that Notre Dame's good. This could be like their Pitt win last year, though: a "big" win over a team that turned out to be much worse than expected.
  • Auburn-LSU is gonna be pretty big. I'm excited about that one.
  • I was hesitant to punish Texas too much for the loss. If their coaches continue to be so stupid, however, this won't be their last loss. C'mon guys, run the ball. And also, put two guys on the awesome receivers.
  • West Virginia drops a bit not for being bad (they played well), but just because Notre Dame and Florida looked like more complete teams.
  • Iowa drops for almost losing to Syracuse. It's true, they were without Drew Tate, but still, it's Syracuse guys. And these aren't the Donovan McNabb years. Or the Marvin Harrison years. And they're certainly not the Jim Brown years. Get your act together, Hawkeyes. That was a badass goal line stand, though, regardless of opponent.
  • A bunch of teams moved up in the teens not by playing well, but by virtue of Clemson and Penn State losing, as well as Florida State and Tennessee continuing to look like crap.
  • I'm sorry, Louisville. I will try to behave in a less knee-jerk fashion in the future. In exchange, you must not lay an egg against a team you should beat.
  • Looks like half of the same old Clemson team: close losses against teams they should probably beat. The other half? Upset wins against FSU. They could get that this weekend.
  • Bama, I know nothing about you, but if you want to stay in my poll, you are going to have to put up some more impressive numbers. A 13-10 win over Vandy is not gonna cut it.
Disagree with the rankings? Feel free to present your case below. I will be happy to adjust my poll tomorrow night if a persuasive argument is made.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Postgame Thoughts: Texas

- Woooooo!!!

- What can you say about Troy Smith that hasn't already been said? The guy's awesome. And he did it in this game with his arm. I think he genuinely enjoys not running past the line of scrimmage.

- I'm fairly pleased with the defense as a whole. They're still unimpressive on run defense, but they'll get better with time. The pass defense was solid, though they weren't tested downfield much. The defensive line was able to get some pressure on Colt McCoy, even going up against such a good offensive line.

- Some notes on the offense:
  • Troy Smith - Like I said, awesome. He was making good decisions all game, and not just about who he threw it to. He also showed some great maturity in being willing to throw the ball away or just take a sack for a short loss, rather than force a throw and risk a pick or try some crazy scramble and risk a big loss.
  • Antonio Pittman - The stat line is almost identical to last year against Texas, other than the touchdown. I still wonder why he wasn't used more, but you can't argue with the outcome.
  • The offensive line - Held their own against a great defensive line. Troy didn't have all day to throw, and the running game wasn't real effective, but the line was good enough. They won't face a better D-line all season, so they should look even better the rest of the season.
  • Ted Ginn - Another good game. He definitely looks like a more complete receiver. Even though Texas focused on stopping him, he still made an impact.
  • Anthony Gonzalez - The beneficiary of all the attention paid to Ted. I thought Texas would look to stop him as well as Ginn, and the third receiver would have some opportunities. Turns out Texas forgot about Gonzo. Big game from him. Hope he enjoyed it; teams are probably gonna be keeping better track of him from here on out.
- And now the defense:
  • The defensive line - Like I said, got pressure on the QB while going up against a great O-line. I'd like to see them get better against the run, and they probably will once they quit playing teams with great running games.
  • James Laurinaitis - Defensive MVP of the game, no question. 10 solo tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception. He looked great.
  • John Kerr - Rapidly playing himself out of the starting lineup. During the game, I remember thinking, "I haven't seen much of John Kerr." This morning, I take a look at the box score, and he's nowhere to be found. Not even an assist. Ross Homan, meanwhile, is somewhere: 2 solos, 2 assists. Homan will be starting soon, I think.
  • The defensive backs - I was pretty impressed with all of them. I like that the corners are capable of making a tackle, particularly Malcolm Jenkins. Brandon Mitchell was making a lot of plays, too. They looked good, but again, they weren't tested downfield a whole lot.
- A.J. Trapasso had a great day punting. Hopefully that wasn't a fluke, and was instead what we can expect all season.

- Aaron Pettrey looked shaky on field goals, but I'm not too worried (yet). Three attempts is hardly enough to form any judgements on. He'll be fine (IhopeIhopeIhope). On the plus side, he was solid on kickoffs.

- If I was coaching Texas, I probably would have taken a page from Northern Illinois and always ran the ball. Run left, right, and up the middle. Thow those damn swing passes and screens, so you can start running again as soon as possible. Even when you're down, keep running, because it worked. It's a better plan than putting the game in the hands of the freshman making his second start.

- Some people on my block set a couch on fire. Celebration via flaming furniture. And somehow, it made sense.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What to Watch For

Yeah, yeah, Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, Texas running game, Colt McCoy, all that. You've heard a lot about all that. Here's a few other, less talked-about keys to the game:
  • The Ohio State linebackers - They weren't terribly effective against Northern Illinois, but the story we're all sticking with is that the defense switched to just a vanilla base defense once the lead got so big, which makes it about ten seconds into the second quarter. Look to see if these guys are blitzing and trying to control what Texas is doing, as opposed to sitting back and reacting. Because if they're trying to react to Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles, they'll be in trouble. They're athletic linebackers, but not that athletic.
  • The Texas offensive line - We know that the running game is excellent and that there's a ton of talent at wide receiver, but if their line isn't blocking well, that won't matter. OSU's front four is very good, and if the Texas O-line has trouble with them, then that means trouble for the running game, trouble for Colt McCoy, and trouble for Texas.
  • The Ohio State running game - About the start of the season, Antonio Pittman went from "underrated guy that nobody talks about" to "guy who everyone calls underrated to the point where he's almost overrated." I figured people would remember that he's pretty good for the rest of the season. But sure enough, you don't hear much about him going into the game. It's all about Troy Smith and Ted Ginn. Pittman was decent against Texas in limited action (why didn't he get more carries?), and he's only gotten better since then. The passing game is the story going into the game, but the running game could be the story coming out. If Texas is too concerned about stopping the passing game, then Pittman, Chris Wells, and even Maurice Wells could have a good day.
  • The Texas linebackers - I put them on here only because I haven't heard much about them. The Texas D-line is excellent, and the secondary's very good as well, but I haven't heard so much about the linebackers. Is this because they are the weak point of the defense? Or have they just not received the attention they deserve? If it's the latter, will they correct the problem with a big performance in this game? We'll find out soon.
  • Ohio State's #3 receiver - Everyone knows about Ted Ginn, and everyone that's paid any sort of attention to Ohio State knows about Anthony Gonzalez. The third receiver, likely Brian Robiskie, could be a key in the passing game. Texas could gameplan to shut down Ginn and Gonzo, but to shut down three receivers? That's probably asking too much. Robiskie (or Brian Hartline, or maybe Ray Small, or Roy Hall, if he isn't too injured to play) will have an opportunity to have an impact on this game. He'll just need to take advantage of it.
  • Both team's kickers - The kickers on both sides are unproven, and in a big game like this, the kicking game has a good chance of deciding the outcome. Who makes the big kicks? That could end up being the most important question of this game.
Enjoy the game everyone, and GO BUCKS!

Friday, September 08, 2006

People Doing Stuff

I've been invited to participate in several different things around the blogosphere, most of which I've passed on due to lack of time at the moment, but I wanted to make you aware of some of them:

  • The Illini Report is just an all-around good blog. If you can say that about an Illinois blog during football season, then they're doing their thing very well. Jake solicited opinions on the opening week in college football, and while I did not participate, several college football bloggers did, including College Football Resource and Heisman Pundit. Well worth a read.
  • Badger Sports is starting up a Carnival of College Football, which is sort of a chance for bloggers to show off anything interesting they've posted.
  • Lastly, have a look at Write On Sports if you get a chance. It's sort of a combination of a collection of links to blogs and a web-based magazine ("webzine," if you must combine all the words you see). I haven't contributed anything yet, but it's a cool idea, and I hope to add something at some point.
I'm sure there's more that I forgot, but I've been busy lately. Sometime in the early afternoon tomorrow, I'll post some things to look for in the big game. Should be, if not insightful, at least wordful. That is, full of words and punctuation, signifying nothing.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Week Two BlogPoll

1 Ohio State --
2 Texas --
3 Southern Cal 2
4 Auburn 1
5 Louisiana State 4
6 West Virginia --
7 Iowa 4
8 Florida 1
9 Notre Dame 5
10 Michigan 2
11 Clemson 2
12 Penn State 2
13 Georgia 2
14 Nebraska 4
15 Florida State 4
16 Tennessee 5
17 Oregon 7
18 Oklahoma 2
19 Arizona State 1
20 Virginia Tech 5
21 Cal 11
22 Alabama 1
23 Miami (Florida) 11
24 Michigan State 2
25 Wisconsin 1

Dropped Out: Louisville (#17).

  • Much like Jim Tressel, Texas was my number one team, but my poll does not reflect this.
  • I fear USC has reloaded. And with Cal already collapsing under their expectations, USC doesn't appear to have too difficult a road back to the national title game.
  • The media seems to be adopting a "hey, they still won" attitude with Notre Dame. I won't do so. If they continue to win, they'll move up, but they didn't impress me in that game. If Chan Gailey had been anywhere near Charlie Weis's equal, I think Notre Dame would have lost.
  • Michigan also failed to impress. The defense looked pretty good, but it was against Vandy. Chad Henne's football career appears to progressing Merlin-style; he's getting less experienced as time goes by.
  • I moved Clemson up, but with their top linebacker out for the season, they've got their work cut out for them defensively.
  • Penn State had better find a running game quickly. Hell, just put Derrick Williams back there. It couldn't be worse than what they managed against mighty Akron.
  • I tried not to go too crazy with Tennessee and Cal. Tennessee looked pretty good, and Cal looked pretty bad but it was just one game, and at home for Tennessee. They'll both have to show me more before I move them into the top-10 or out of the top 25 entirely, respectively.
  • Have there been two more disappointing big games than the past two Florida State-Miami games? Man, those sucked to watch.
  • Wisconsin makes it in just because they're a Big Ten team. UCLA may have been more deserving. We'll see how it goes.
  • I feel bad for dropping Louisville entirely, but I just can't see them beating any of the top-25 teams after losing Michael Bush. I wouldn't mind being proven wrong, though.
Disagree with anything? Share your thoughts in the comments. I listen to any and all arguments, both well-reasoned and absurd.