Saturday, September 23, 2006

Earlier this evening, it looked like there wasn't going to be a post tonight. There was a big upset brewing in the top 25. It looked like an unranked Michigan St. team was going to blow out the Fighting Irish. It also looked like the BC Eagles were going to cement their status as best of the rest in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But funny things happen sometimes in football.

Notre Dame scored 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter on 3 TDs in a 5:25 span. For those who wrote off Charlie Weis after last week's debacle, it might be time to back off a bit. The team looked shaky (to say the least) in the first quarter. Weis looked fairly foolish when his call to go for it on 4th and 8 just past midfield backfired and Michigan State scored a big TD. Of course, there is also John L. Smith, the man, the myth, legend.

How many times in college and professional football do we see a coach take the air out of the ball when they get a big lead in the second half? I can see some of the logic, not wanting to risk the big turnover. And Michigan State was killing Notre Dame on the ground for the first three quarters, especially with Jehuu Caulcrick, the big 260 pound tailback. Thank God John L. Smith went to the power running formation and stopped running out of the spread formation, which has killed Notre Dame since Joe Tiller brought that attack to Purdue in 1997.

And then there was BC. A blocked extra point helped them beat Clemson, now a missed extra point cost them this game against NC State. Once you miss a kick, you chase that point all day. Then you have to go for two when you want to make it a seven point game. If you miss the two, then it goes from a TD to tie, to a loss situation. Damn shame it had to happen like that.

Of course, there is the theory that you have to take care of business when you have the chance. BC had the ball on third down with short yardage to go. They fumble the quarterback-center exchange, but they were lucky. Matt Ryan fell on the ball, and they only wasted one down. It set the stage perfectly for the most overhyped short yardage specialist in recent memory. I imagine that the CHB had an easy story, and angle all set up. Alas, NC State did not get the memo, and they stopped Brian Toal for a loss on fourth down. That set up their winning TD drive. Under a minute to go, and no time outs. But they took care of business. Good times.

One thing that drove me crazy during the Notre Dame game was the constant game breaks from the studio. I can understand when they have news or scores to update. I appreciate finding out what's going on in games I'm not watching, especially when I can't check the score during a commercial because a particular game isn't on in the area. But if they updated me on the Ohio State game one more time 3 hours after it ended, I was going to start hopping up and down and hooting like Woody Woodpecker.

On a totally unrelated note, what is the point of the Nike Gridiron/Briscoe High spots? I can see where it is somewhat cool to envision a high school where Jimmy Johnson teaches history and Brian Urlacher, LaDanian Tomlinson, Michael Vick and Matt Leinart play football under George Seifert. It's also funny to see Urlacher and the other captains tower over their rivals in the big game. I'm guessing that the point is that with Nike equipment anyone can play with the big boys, unless that Ryan kid is somebody I should know but can't place.

I think the real point is one of those beautiful accidental moments that occur in commercials. A classic example is the Michael Strahan Chunky Soup ad from about 6 or 7 years ago, where he's handing out soup to commuters on the New York subway. As the ad ends, there is a shot where his head is framed by one of the windows in the sliding door. Right below his big goofy smile is a sign that says: "Mind the gap." There is no way that was deliberate, but it's still funny.

To make a long story short, the moment like that from the Briscoe High ad is the unintentional referendum on Michael Vick as quarterback. With a fourth down and time for one play, what does George Seifert run? A tailback option pass play, which is almost assured to fail in that situation because it is the run threat that leaves the wide receiver open down field. On fourth and long there is no way you'd ever run with time about to expire. You'd think the quarterback should be dropping back to throw it deep. But when your passing threat is Michael Vick, maybe you do want Tomlinson throwing the do or die pass.

I hate Michael Vick because he tried to kill my fantasy team a couple of years ago. I also hate him because he is a big whiner. Every time the Falcons fall short, it's a coaching failure, never the QB. Then there was his unilateral demand that media stop questioning his pocket passing ability in the wake of the single most impressive passing performance of the modern era when he threw for 250 yards against the Dolphins last season.

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