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.

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