Sunday, September 12, 2010

Inexplicable

Fuck the rules. A RB can wave the ball across the line and that's a TD. A WR can catch the ball and land in the end zone with it, but if he doesn't get up and run around like a goddamn chicken even though the play is over as soon as he's caught the ball in the end zone, it's not a touchdown.

That might be the dumbest ruling I have ever seen.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend warmup: Thursday and Friday

  • New Orleans 14, Minnesota 9: Didn't watch the whole thing because ugh NBC and because DirecTV seemed to be having transmission problems. A few things to note: both offenses looked like it was the first game of the season (can't wait to be seeing this in mid-August, right guys?), Favre definitely looked like he could have used some real practice, and the Vikings' running game was even worse without Peterson than you'd imagine. With Rice out of the lineup, the Vikings have tight ends and A.P., and even at that, once the Saints figured out Favre wasn't looking to WRs (partly because Harvin wasn't catching much), it was simple enough to change coverage and let Minnesota pretend they could run the ball. Easy pickings for quality opponents, I'm afraid.
  • West Virginia 24, Marshall 21, OT: Reminded once again that most ESPN announcers aren't very good. There was a lot of blah blah blah in the fourth quarter as Marshall fumbled away a chance to ice the game and then watched the Mountaineers drive for 15 points to send the game to OT. Rod Gilmore praised Bill Stewart for going for one to make it 21-13 instead of "trying to get too much" (huh? you need a two-point conversion either way, and if you miss it at 21-19, game over), and talked all about momentum in overtime but didn't say boo about Marshall winning the toss and sheepily choosing defense. I'm sorry, but if my defense has been on the field for most of the 4th quarter and has just given up 15 points, I'm sending out the offense. I don't care about convention.

    Naturally, when Marshall had a 4th-and-1 from the West Virginia 41 with about 3:35 to play, Gilmore praised Marshall for punting because "you have to rely on your defense here." Huh? It's completely the wrong call. If you get the yard, you burn West Virginia's final time out in all likelihood or else you kill most of the remaining clock; if you don't get it, they still have to drive 60-some yards to score and then convert the two, and even if they do, you'll probably get the ball back with some time to spare. As it was, they had time only for one play.

    Look, if you're the underdog (Marshall has never beaten West Virginia), you play to win. You don't play not to lose. You go for it. You rely on your defense to stop a 60-yard drive, not an 80-yard drive. As it turned out, the punt team did a great job and killed the ball at the WV 2, and they still gave up six. Play to win, gentlemen. Play to win.
  • Houston 54, UTEP 24: Didn't see the fourth quarter of this one, but I didn't need to. Houston QBs don't really do well in the NFL (beware, Eagles fans), but that offense sure works fine against middle-tier opponents. UTEP tried to hang with them and simply couldn't do it. The thing about a pass-heavy spread offense is that if you don't have the athletes to keep up, you simply can't stop it. There will always be someone open somewhere, and a good QB with time in the pocket will find him. (If you do have good athletes, the spread usually struggles, because it's predicated on finding mismatches somewhere.) Houston should put a lot of points on the board again this year.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Monday NCAA football

It's like the gift that keeps on giving ...

  • Maryland 17, Navy 14: And we are reminded that when large companies establish a lock on a market, they immediately stop innovating. The announcers in this game spent about 45 minutes explaining how important time of possession really is, despite the fact that people say it isn't important. Well hey, lookee here! The team that had almost a 20-minute edge in time of possession lost! Way to pay attention to the game, fools.

    Navy should have won easily ... they ran all over Maryland, but couldn't finish. Too many fumbles inside the 10. They gave up a couple of quick scores but immediately settled down and pretty much locked down the Terrapins for the rest of the game. Friedgen made a lot of questionable decisions; I admire Maryland's commitment to him (too often ADs are pressured into change for change's sake) but wonder if he's going to be able to accomplish anything this season. That defense is going to struggle all year, I think.
  • Boise State 33, Virginia Tech 30: Beamer's Boys spotted the Broncos 17 points and never really made up for it. Of course, naysayers will suggest that this only happened because it was at a neutral site, VT wasn't prepared, they lost a lot of talent, blah blah blah. The five people remaining in the BCS camp will point at the strength of the WAC behind Boise State as "evidence" that this isn't a real contender, and the rest of the country will look at games like this one and think yeah, you still don't get it, do you? Is it really a coincidence that the only major college postseason not managed by the NCAA is a joke? Laugh at their hypocrisy, their unwillingness to punish marquee programs, the arcane rules that players and coaches alike are expected to memorize, but do not mock their postseason feng shui.

    This was the type of game that we see all too rarely in September. (hear that, SEC? Yeah, we're talking to you.) Two solid teams trading punches in a game that would look just as good in January. Sure, mistakes were made on both sides, but are you going to remember the mistakes or the big plays? Exactly. (Well, if you're a Tech fan, you'll probably remember more of the mistakes.)

    So ... how about that Florida game?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sunday NCAA football

  • Southern 37, Delaware State 27: The Hornets scored on some big plays in the first half; Southern rolled back the pressure in the second and let Delaware State self-destruct on offense. Interesting to see how the heat affects teams with less depth.
  • East Carolina 51, Tulsa 49: Not the game to watch if you like defense. Great back-and-forth game, decided on the final play by a jump ball in the end zone. (Mental note: get your 6-8 receivers on the field for those plays.) Of course the ESPN announcers didn't understand that they'd still have to attempt the extra point; with the defensive-conversion rule in college football, Tulsa could have tied the game, but fortunately ECU simply knelt down to end it.
  • Texas Tech 35, SMU 27: A matchup of former SWC opponents using similar offensive approaches but with obviously different levels of talent. You have to wonder if June Jones' offense hasn't outlived its usefulness: even in its prime, it was never enough to overcome the lack of talent that seemed to prompt its use in the first place, and now that there are so many variations of spread offenses, neither the formation nor some of its effects are even unusual. SMU stayed somewhat close but never really threatened ... I would guess they'll finish in the top half of the conference again but won't seriously threaten for the title.

Saturday football. small doses

Not much to talk about here; I was busy with Volleybash, fantasy drafts, and talking on the porch most of the day, so I didn't see a lot.

  • Notre Dame 23, Purdue 12: Totally got this one wrong. You wouldn't expect teams with question marks on defense to combine for just 35 points in this era, but that's what happened. Purdue looked like a team with a new QB and a general lack of talent; Notre Dame looked like a team learning a new offensive scheme. They could exploit certain issues with Purdue's defense, but not with any frequency, and they really struggled to block Lombardi Award candidate Ryan Kerrigan.
  • Michigan 30, Connecticut 10: Didn't see this one live, but watched the scores and saw highlights later. Denard Robinson has transformed into a Rich Rodriguez QB; Forcier may see some action, and Devin Gardner may get a few snaps, but the job is clearly Robinson's to lose. The question is how much of that was UConn being unprepared for what they saw. Granted, this was more of a must-win game than anything else for the Wolverines, but they acquitted themselves well. Next week may provide a better read on the ceiling for this team.
  • Arizona State 54, Portland State 9: Caught a bit of this on XM. As you'd expect, the Vikings were vastly overmatched. All they could manage was three field goals, two of them long ones. The meeting with Oregon in two weeks will likely be more of the same; next week's matchup with UC-Davis will provide a better barometer of the quality of this team.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Week 1: Thursday games

woo football!

  • Minnesota 24, Middle Tennessee State 17: About as unimpressive a road win as you can muster. The Gophers got a long run on their first possession, put the ball in the end zone, and then struggled the rest of the game. 1 for 3, I think, on field goal attempts, shaky passing (but some good throws), an inability to keep the Blue Raiders buried ... if it hadn't been for a horrible mistake by an MTSU returner, reaching out with the ball on a kick return and losing the resulting fumble, this could have gone to overtime.

    As it was, Tim Brewster's likely final season at Minnesota got off to, well, an expected start, I guess. This team will get shredded in Big Ten play again.
  • Iowa State 27, Northern Illinois 10: Only caught the fourth quarter of this game, just enough to see Iowa State look pretty unimpressive the whole time. Their defense made some good plays, but the offense wasn't really that good. Fortunately for them, NIU's vaunted rushing attack got no help from the passing game, and once the Cyclones built a decent lead, the game was over. Again, an unimpressive BCS team in a conference that will not be kind.

Random thoughts

  • Yesterday I experienced something unique. I was driving down 37, heading to volleyball, when I pulled up at a stoplight next to a car that was blasting Aerosmith. I flipped through my stations, and hey! The same song was on XM 46.

    Yes, that's unique. I have never, in all the years I've subscribed (almost four), heard the same channel in another car. (I have walked into BWW once or twice when they've had their music on the same station.) And what's funny about this time is that somehow we were off by a second or so; my music switched and then hers followed, kind of like the delay you get when one TV is watching the HD feed and one is watching the SD feed. (And yes, that still happens in bars.)

    It's sad. XM and Sirius really screwed that up, didn't they?
  • I just remembered one reason why I really don't use my iPod Touch that much any more. I connected it to sync and recharge today, and of course there was a software update waiting for me. I let iTunes try to install it, and naturally it didn't work and so we have to go through the whole factory-settings and restore-from-backup crap again.

    You know what? Apple is exactly like Microsoft. They always have been. It just looked different in the PC market after Apple screwed themselves out of a decent share with the "no-clones" philosophy, but in every instance where Apple is the dominant company, they have no problems doing the exact same stuff that Microsoft does. (Priced any e-books lately?)

    The idea behind the iPod is that it's supposed to be an easy-to-use music player, but Apple still hasn't figured out that the one-button scheme is and always has been stupid (which is easier to use, an iPod Touch or a non-Apple touch-screen phone?), and when even simple upgrade processes don't work smoothly, well, Apple should be thankful that their competitors have been forced out of the market for the most part. (Some did it to themselves. Zune?)
  • Football woo! The Big Ten is splitting into divisions that will actually preserve the Michigan-Ohio State end-of-season rivalry. Amazingly, it took an electronic campaign by fans to make that happen. (Yes, even Delany admitted it had an effect.) Yeah, people believe some really stupid stuff in meetings like that, I guess. (Anybody looking forward to Florida State-Miami in early October? What's the opposite of woo?) It'll be interesting to see how the divisions play out next year ... and also interesting to see how NCAA handles it. Guess what, EA? You've got some changes to make! I know, you can't just push out the same game you did last year ... oh wait, that's Madden. Right. NCAA actually does improve occasionally.

    but woo football! (Even though the Lions, Purdue, Michigan, and Portland State will probably all suck.)


Here's a footnote to my iPod experience: after all that crap, I had app updates, so I went to install them, but you have to "purchase" them even though the updates are free, and the terms of the agreement had changed, so I had to read those first, and iTunes is remarkably unresponsive when it brings up forms and such, so that took forever, and then after agreeing to the new terms, I had to go back and get the apps again because HORRORS! if it actually did what I asked it to after I agreed to the new terms.

iTunes could be less user-friendly, but I'm not sure how.
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