Sunday, October 29, 2006
ASU Gets The W (Thank God)
Everything on offense, for starters. Carp had yet another 2005-like efficient day going 16-23 and no interceptions for the second game in a row. Ryan Torain had a strengthy day with 99 yards on 23 carries to raise what looks like a decent 2008 draft stock, even though Keegan Herring stole the show with his 65-yard touchdown run on a toss play that was just added to the playbook this week. The team played with passion an a sense of urgency, something some are crediting to a fiery speech given by offensive line coach Brent Myers that was inspired by one of his favorite contemporary Christian songs. Yeah, I'm just as shocked as you are on that one. Good to see someone on the coaching staff stepping it up, even if Koetter pisses on the idea in front of the press.
“Nothing against Coach Myers, but players have to play,” Koetter said. “No speech carries over for a whole game, I don’t care if it’s Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi, Brent Myers or Dirk Koetter. It was a hell of a speech, but speeches are overrated.”Just take the win and say thank you. Ass.
Coach Myers: Does this guy know how to party or what?!
Additional kudos to the D for playing big when it counted, and a big slap on the ass for Josh Barrett who had nine tackles and two interceptions that may very well have made the difference in the outcome of this game.
Well, there's the fourth quarter breakdown where the team assumed victory or whatever happened to scare the piss ot of me. Playing four quarters of solid, fundamental football has been a challenge for Sun Devil football as far back as I care to remember and I don't know where to start to mend this problem; it is as ingrained into Sun Devil Stadium as sunburn and underage drinking. Jonathan Johnson shanked a punt and Jesse Ainsworth still can't hit a kick of more than 35 yards. This may come back to haunt this team (I feel like I've said this before), and it almost did on Saturday. Big thumbs down to yours truly for overhyping the arrival of Kyle Williams, who made a debut of Mike Williams proportions by dropping his first kickoff return and getting the Devils pinned deep in Husky territory. He did catch one pass for two yards, though. Woop-tee-frickin-doo.
Penalties. Aaaarrrrgh! WTF? How do you fix a problem as chronic as this one? The Devils are at/near the top of the national list of penalized teams. I'm stunned on this one- 16 of them for 122 yards. Just by comparison, Washington had 126 yards...of RUSHING. Also horrifying to see offensive lineman Stephen Berg out for the year with a knee injury, joining roommate and fellow senior hog Andrew Carnahan on the short list of players that will never play for the Sun Devils again. It really is a shame for these guys, particularly for any hopes of an NFL career. Barring a decision of reason and sympahy by the NCAA (not bloody likely) to grant a 6th year of eligibility, they are joined by Zach Krula, another hog with health issues dating back to last year. These three shoud be the anchors of the best line in the Pac-10, but bad fortune has reared its ugly head. *single tear*
Friday, October 27, 2006
True Frosh To Start At Wideout
The common comparison of Kyle WIlliams is to former Sun Devil and local product Shaun McDonald. Williams is a few inches taller and a step slower than Lil' Shaun, but some have said that he has "that ability" to create separation downfield, along with tremendous vision and the ability to run towards daylight. He was recruited specifically to play the deep threat WR in Koetter's system and has looked good in practices this week. (big thanks to JohnB. from the Ranch) I know the picture is a little blurry; it's because he's too fast to be caught on film. It's creepy though, he actually looks a little like McDonald.
Keep your eyes on #6 tomorrow.
Many expect Williams to fill the returner hole vacated by senior Terry Richardson, who suffered a knee injury late in last Thursday's practice. If Carpenter can connect with him on a deep route early in the game, monster running back Ryan Torain could have a career day against UW, since our last several opponents have been cheating ther safeties up knowing full well that Carp couldn't/wasn't allowed to throw a deep ball. The season and a decent bowl bid are still salvagable, and while I'm skeptical of Koetter burning this talented kid's redshirt so late in the season I admire Koetter's stance of putting the best players on the field despite their class ranking. This may come off as a desparate attempt to save his own job, but it's probably good for Dirk to have to think that way every once in awhile. What the hell, it worked against Arizona last year. Have I mentioned how much I love this video?
Thursday, October 26, 2006
A Little Cheesy, But Still Pretty Cool
Speaking of espn, I'd like to give a shout out to the last great Sportscenter anchor, Kenny Mayne. His oddball calls and references make me long for the days of Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick (back when he still had a soul), pre-lobotomy Charley Steiner, Bob Ley before they pushed him into the Dick Schaap Sunday morning fogey corner, and even Craig Kilborn, who I was never a fan of but is still light years ahead of anyone they have working there today. What brought this up? While reading a preview of this weeend's ASU-Washington match up, I thought aloud to myself "...but they don't play games on paper, they play them inside of television sets." Touche, Mayne, and sliante!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Dishing It with U-Dub
1) How did a team that threw 5 interceptions hang with a team like Cal? Do you feel like this year's success has been done with smoke and mirrors or are you starting to believe in what Ty is doing? Are you surprised by this turnaround or did you see it coming?
The Cal game I think was a fluke. Cal, a team I'm quite familiar with, look downright bad Saturday. Nate Longshore wasn't in sync and the defense seemed uncomfortable. I do think this team's success (though it's hard to call 4-4 all that great) is a product of Willingham's system. The team is very disciplined, and for the first time as a team, they believe they can win.
2) Be honest, were you getting sick of watching UW slowly turn into a "basketball school?" Do you harbor any hatred for Rick Neuheisel (you know he's from Tempe, right)?
Tough question. I'm a huge basketball fan and care a helluva lot about UW hoops. But I do long for a big-time football atmosphere again. I came to UW in 2002 from California because I wanted a football school. It didn't exactly work out that way. Ideally, the football program would come back, the b-ball team would stay solid, and UW would be like Florida or Texas; football schools with a damn-fine basketball team.
As for Neuheisel, ya, thanks for nothing, Chump.
We're right behind you, buddy.
3) How confident are you in Carl Bonnell? Do you feel like he is "the future" or do you think last week against Cal was a 1 game aberration and his youthful colors will shine this week?
Bonnell is certainly not the future. That would belong to true freshman QB (who is redshirting as of now) Jake Locker. Though I was delightfully surprised by Bonnell's poise. He threw the long ball well and scrambled at the right times. I think he's capable of leading the Dawgs to a big win over the Sun Devils Saturday, though I wouldn't be shocked if the Huskies lay an egg.
4) They don't show many U-Dub games on the east coast, and subsequently I haven't seen the Dawgs in action. Name your biggest threat on offense and a guy ASU should be targeting on defense. Conversely, list an offensive area that needs improvement and a defensive standout for the Huskies.
The biggest threat on offense was Isaiah Stanback, but now that he's hurt, that opens it up. I'd say WR Sonny Shackelford is a playmaker. He can go and get the long ball and had made some difficult catches all year. I'd put your best DB on him.The defense has been pretty good, and last week Dashon Goldson was a big part. The DB shutdown Cal's DeSean Jackson and is a playmaker in the secondary.
5) Is a part of you scared shitless that ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter will finally have a breakout game this Saturday?
I keep waiting for Carpenter to explode and am scared that it could be Saturday. The UW secondary was miserable earlier this year, making mediocre QBs look like the second-coming of Joe Montana. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Carpenter comes out big.
He is DEFINITELY due.
6) What will it take for you to be confident in saying that, as far as football goes, "UW is back?"
Another good question. For UW to be back, I think it'd take an eight-win season followed by a solid recruiting class.The wins speak for themselves, but the recruiting is when you know that Washington is a powerhouse again.For example, Jonathan Stewart, Oregon's solid running back, is from about an hour south of Seattle. If UW was "back," Stewart would be a Husky. Same goes for Cal LB Anthony Felder and USC DB Taylor Mays, who are both from Seattle.There's a lot of talent in Western Washington and these guys are going elsewhere -- likely because Washington isn't what they once were. Once the wins come (another year or two, I think) the recruiting needs to follow and Willingham must grab the top talent from Western Washington and the rest of the Northwest.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Here Come The Huskies...
This weekend's matchup in Seattle between the Sun Devils and the Huskies appears to be a must-win for both teams. U-Dub is no longer the pushover they have been since slick Rick Neuheisel left town several years ago, and ASU will have their hands full. Most of the rest of us figured all hope for the Huskies was lost when starting senior quarterback and athletic freak Isiah Stanback was injured and deemed unavailable for the remainder of the year, but young gun Carl Bonnell stepped in to his place admirably to give a serious challenge to Cal last week, barely falling in overtime. Remember the Bears? Yeah, I think they just scored against ASU again. While his poise was admirable, remember that Bonnell threw 5 interceptions, including the forced pass that was returned for the game-winning TD in overtime. Heads up, Devil D.
Rudy Carpenter had probably his most efficient game as a Sun Devil last week, even if it was against Stanford. He completed 14 of 15 passes, and surely could have done more had the need arisen. Nitpickers wll attest that he missed (as in never saw) many an open receiver downfield that could have been completed for big gains, particularly when he tucked the ball and scrambled. Carp and Dirk are both towing the company line when being grilled by the media. The first quote comes from Koetter during a Monday presser after being asked about opening up the offense:
“This isn’t last year. We just have a different make up of our team right now. I have always been comfortable opening up the offense, but I also think that we have to be smart. Opening our offense can also lead to turnovers and the best thing we did (against Stanford) is not turn the ball over."
Wow, our coach has really regressed this season. He used to be regarded as an arrogant, righteous prick, and now he's a backpedaling softie: first the QB flip-flop thing, and now he's afraid to throw the ball. He's making the most critical error in competitive sports, which is playing not to lose rather than playing to win. This does not bode well for the rest of the season or Koetter's job security. Carpenter echoed his sentiments, and for some reason I feel a lot better when he says it.
"...if I miss some open guys I miss some open guys. I’m going to try to make sure every play is a positive play and we're not losing yards and sometimes I make it up so quick by running it and it’s been effective, so I’m going to keep on doing it.”
Works for me. The fact is, however, that this year's squad is now a running team that will only go as far as Ryan Torain can carry the rest of them. Unfortunately the receivers haven't been all that up to snuff, which has probably caused Carp some undue flack from hacks like me (don't forget this one, too) over the past few weeks. Not saying he was innocent by any stretch of the imagination, but Rudy B's injuries, Jamaal Lewis' suspension/ineffectiveness, Terry Richardson's sucktacular year, and the youthful/inexperienced play of Mike Jones, Nate Kimbrough, and Chris McGaha haven't helped Carpenter's play or confidence. Carp can't put the ball on the spot if the spot isn't where it' supposed to be.
In the good news department, the defense really has been holding their own since having their doors blown off by Oregon. The bye week did just as it was supposed to, which was to renew the legs and refresh the spirit of the players. This was obviously the case after giving up 21 to USC (remember that the other 7 were T-Rich's fault) and holding the Cardinal to 3. I know it was Stanford, but NAU scored 14 in our house. Zach Catanese will not miss any playing time after suffering a mild concussion against Stanford, and he will be counted on to fly around and knock the bejeezus out of any U-Dub ball carriers. With the exception of the Cal-Oregon hiccup, the overall defense really has been improving each week, which is all one can ask from such a young group. They have a chance to make a statement this Saturday in the Devils' first road trip to Seattle since 1999, and should be up to the challenge.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I'm Not A Professional Journalist, But I Am An Amateur Journalist
Has anyone else noticed that my posts are beginning to sound like Peggy Hill's musings? You know the way I point out something "interesting" and make a cute pun or joke. Yeeech. You'd think that eight years of college would yield sufficient brain power to write a coherent, well-thought out analysis regarding the ongoings of college football, particularly the Arizona State University Sun Devils. Having said that, here is yet another itemized list of things that crossed my retinas on Saturday.
* The Texas-Nebraska game lived up to its billing with a furious finish that included a halfback pass, a handful of fumbles, snow flurries, and a last-minute drive led by a freshman quarterback that has football fans north of the Red River feeling a little uneasy about the next few years.
* UCLA looked a step faster than Notre Dame across the board, all day long. This of course goes with the obvious exception of the guy that was supposed to be covering Irish WR Jeff Smardjzdjziklbsndfa.
* Michigan State really is the Big 10 equivalent of ASU. They completed a miraculous, record-seting comeback against a Northwestern team that they should have thumped soundly. The effort will probably end up being a catalyst to keep John L. Smith in position to contain Sparty within a bastille of medircrity for years to come, much like this kick did for a nameless someone we'll call "Kirk." I love youtube, and I honestly can't get enough of this clip.
* The respective Universities of South Florida and Cincinnati are whores, pure and simple. They agreed to take advantage of a lack of professional football on Sunday night (due to the World Series) to play on espn in a game that would otherwise never be televised. Your mothers would be ashamed.
* The BCS is total horseshit considering USC got bumped down a peg to #3 after a bye week. Michigan beat an ok Iowa team to remain undefeated and move into USC's vacated salutatorian slot, and the conspiracy theorists are pointing at the inevitable 1 versus 2 Ohio State/Michigan clash at the end of the year. The Pac-10's lack of a conference championship game could become a thorn in Troy's side again (not to mention the OSU/UM loser) should they finish the year undefeated or even with one loss.
* Even though many are pointing out how disappointing ASU's 38-3 victory over doormat Stanford was (WTF?), at least we're not in the position of Minnesota, who needed a blocked field goal against North Dakota State to close out the game at home.
* The Pac-10 is either incredibly balanced or just weak overall after Wazzu took Oregon behind the woodshed and Cal needed "Divine Intervention" (Ty Willingham's words, not mine) to beat Washington, a team playing without senior atarting quarterback Isiah Stanback. Be careful watching the video, it may induce seizures.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The "S" is for Slumpbuster
I know it's sloppy, unprofessional, and a little mean, but so is ASU football. Thanks for making the trip Stanford, because the Devils really needed it. The bleeding has stopped in conference play, and it's time to look forward to U-Dub and the rest of the schedule. This one seems awfully in the bag at a score of 31-3, so it looks like I'll abandon the internet radio feed and head down to Mulligan's to watch Wes from Journalism is for Rockstars lose his fucking mind. Congrats Sun Devils, let's just hope you can continue this type of performance against a Division 1-A opponent.
Friday, October 20, 2006
ACC Football Just Plain Sucks
UVa runs out of the tunnel to low-exploding fireworks and 20-foot high shooting flames. I don't know I'd trade them for the AC-DC/bus-stomping intro, but I don't see why we can't do both. They actually happened to play Thunderstruck before a key third down situation when UVa was on defense, and I can't imagine not wanting to run through a wall after hearing the intro to that song. Needless to say, the defense made the stop.
For as much shit as I tend to give to the uppity Cav fans, they were actually pretty good last night. The stadium was mostly full on a rainy Thursday night against an inferior opponent, and a majority of them remained after I graced the exit following a UVa touchdown that made it 23-0 in the fourth quarter. It was obviously a carved-in-stone fact that UNC was not, in any way, going to mount any significant comeback.
Crazy-ass cardinals coach Dennis Green passed the torch to Virginia head coach Al Groh last night after Groh had a Chernobyl-sized meltdown when UVa was called for assisting the runner at the goal line, even after review. My "I have the maturity of a 3rd grader" moment of the game came at this time, because the referee motion for said penalty looks an awful lot like being flagged for ass-grabbing. Tee-hee.
You may have heard that UVa now has a marching band after booting their famed scramble band a couple of years ago, but don't get ahead of yourself. They have a band, yes, complete with snazzy hats and matching uniforms, but they don't march. They walk on to the field and play their half time show in one formation; where I'm from that's just a regular concert sans the chairs. This "show" consisted of an out of synch Electric Slide, but it was preceded by a stunning version of Michael Jackson's Thriller. They unfortunately didn't channel Vincent Price to do the voice over, but the flag girls and the woodwind section did the classic zombie line dance you might remember from the video, not to mention the dance scene in the 1980's blockbuster Teen Wolf.
There were no references made to the time the Cavs beat Florida State (1996) or to how great Tiki Barber was at any point during my evening. If you've ever been to Charlottesville on gameday, this is an incredible rarity.
UVa runs an offense that is almost identical to ASU v20.06. Wrinkles that could be added to Dirk's deleted arsenal could (ought to) include handing the ball off to the H-back on 3rd/4th & short (imagine Zach Miller stretching across the line!) and running the option, something done in Koetter's first two years. Virginia's quarterback Jameel Sewell looks like an immature Dennis Dixon, and I can say with confidence that a quarterback with that physical skillset at ASU would be Vince Young kinds of unstoppable. Al Groh's entire philosophy on offensive football is to run incessantly and control the clock; if he weren't so set in his ways the score could have easily been 77-0.
North Carolina runs a defense that is almost identical to ASU v20.05. Not that they run similar schemes or blitzes, just that they both play that sucktacular matador defense. Ole! You may pass, sir.
All in all it was probably a better time than sitting on the couch watching the NLCS or Grey's Anatomy, and I suppose I'd do it again given the opportunity. We as ASU fans were definitely spoiled by the offensive display put up by our beloved Devils last year, because if I had to watch this crap week in and week out I'd be more of a basketball fan too. This game was a shut out, and a convincing one at that as Carolina never crossed the thirty yard line. Keep in mind the winning squad has lost to two different directional schools in Wesern Michigan and East Carolina. The radio guys were actually bragging after the game about how stellar this UVa team is having shut out two conference oopponents this year, and they weren't even snickering about the fact that the other team was Duke. I had to sit through a Duke game last weekend, and their talent plus $1.98 will get you a forty at the 7-11. I mean that was some weak-ass shit. Speaking of forties, the boss-man is springing for wings and brews at Legend. Tally ho, and more to come tomorrow during another couch-a-thon Saturday. Good luck Sun Devils, although you better not need it against Stanford, a team that might give Duke a game.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Somebody Spilled My Kool Aid
"That's the thing that's been really frustrating for me and for the offense so far," he said. "In the USC game, I think Jamaal Lewis and Terry Richardson and Rudy Burgess combined for zero catches. Those are our best players. Those three guys, in my opinion, are our best players on offense besides Zach Miller."We're not getting a whole lot out of them right now. I don't know whether that's because I'm not getting them the ball, (but) they just haven't been on the field that much. They've got to start preparing better in practice. They've got to start doing the little things right or else they're not going to get their opportunity on the field on Saturday."It didn't seem that bad when I first read it without someone else's spin, but when it falls beneath the headline "Carpenter calls out lackluster receivers" it tends to draw attention. The worst part is that this piece was not written by some hack wildcat. Kyle Odegard has been writing for ASU's award-winning State Press newspaper for years and it's always been quality text without any sensationalism, unlike the digital rag you're currently reading that is laced with typos and overexaggerated opinions.
As if that wasn't enough, the AZ Republic had this snippet on the front page of the ASU sports section (nothing could possibly trump the Cards' epic meltdown) in which Coach Koetter places some blame/responsibility on the broad shoulders of WR Jamaal Lewis. A few highlights for those too lazy to click the link...
"Any player, you're either part of the problem or you're part of the solution," Koetter said Monday during his weekly news conference. "Jamaal has just been inconsistent so far."
Way to sugar coat it at the end, uncle Dirk. I'm sure the lovely gift basket is on the way from his parents as we speak.
Lewis and fellow receiver Terry Richardson figured to be among quarterback Rudy Carpenter's favorite targets in a passing game that had been projected to be among the best in the Pac-10. So far, however, they only have been targets for questions about what has gone wrong.BUH-ZING, Frauenheim!
These quotes will undoubtedly worm their way into the locker room and possibly on to the field of play, but it's a double-edged sword. On one hand, the receivers in question will accept the challenge, answer the scratch, and excel on the playing field. The flipside to this crazy coin is that it could completely backfire with a sort of fuck you, dad! mentality, further splitting the locker room in the wake of the Kellerpenter snafu. It was risky by Dirk, almost as risky as a hail mary on 4th and 22. Come to think of it, I'm shocked Koetter even tried it. On that note, here's a fitting fark by Hell Hog member RedSox85, whose real name escaped me in a drunken fog.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Get Ready To Groan
As put off as I was regarding the late-game punting issue, I'm not really that broken up about last Saturday's loss to USC. In fact, I'm actually filled with a renewed sense of hope for 2006. This may be because I didn't see the first quarter, but the Sun Devils actually seemed to play with a sense of pride. The schedule certainly gets easier from here on out, and while I'm not making any guarantees yet, there really isn't any reason this ASU team can't- wait for it------- run the table for the remainder of the season. Much has been made of the 1995 ASU team turning a mental corner under incompetent boob/head coach Bruce Snyder, when something clicked and the guys simply "got it." Here are some of the things I've read and observed in the last week or so that have given me this new found faith in this year's team.
Rudy Carpenter is having fun again. He faced a good/great defense in the Coliseum, and rather than crumple in the face of a pass rush he shucked and jived defenders and even took off running, gaining 38 rushing yards on one play. In a Monday press conference, Dirk Koetter commented how Carp's on-field body language has changed since the Oregon loss and admitted that his lackluster stats had more to do with play calling than performance. Carp did, after all, complete over 50 pecent of his passes, and this week that didn't count interceptions. In addition to working with the receivers after practice, he's also allegedly been "talking to the team," and I suppose you can infer that the sophomore is taking a leadership role. I don't think it would be mentioned in the media if he was just up there telling dick and fart jokes.
The young linebackers are beginning to come around. They were managing gaps against the run and covering well in pass protection situations, even though USC ran a lot of two tight end sets. I don't think anyone expected these guys to set the world on fire upon arrival, but Munns, Goethel, and Nixon were all major contributors on Saturday. In fact, I didn't see anyone who looked lost all night. This is refreshing in the wake of Derron Ware's disappearance and Robert James' overall ineffectiveness.
The defense played better overall. With the exception of USC's first and last drives, the defense played lights out all night. Even though there is youth in the Trojan backfield, it was still USC at the Coliseum. The Devil D looked focused, aware, cohesive, and they were attacking, something that can't be said for any game this year or last. It's good to see turnovers forced, not to mention the offense's newfound ability to capitalize on them. Ryan McFoy is definitely a player and he should slide into Catanese's spot next year wih a smooth transition.
Practices have been better. They've been closed to the media since the Oregon game, but dedicated writers listening from the other side of the fence have noted more cheering and an overall better attitude from the players. Koetter has noted that the hitting in practice has been the hardest it's been all year, and that was probably a major factor in the D's improved performance against the Trojans. As mentioned above, Carpenter has been working on his timing with the receivers after practice, something indicitave of dedicaion and a desire to get better.
Keno Walter-White made me eat my words with his pick-for-six in the USC game. I have to admit that he was a big part of the defensive success on Saturday, and almost played well enough to make me forget about that offsides call on the final USC scoring drive. Rome wasn't built in a day, so I guess I'll just accept this as marked improvement. An extra kudos to Justin Tryon, who has done a solid job since his arrival from junior college. Way to not get posterized by Dwayne Jarrett, JT. I'm still a fan, even if everyone in Berkeley thinks you're a cheap shot artist.
The upcoming schedule. How 'bout this little article right here? Stanford is first, and they might be the worst BCS conference team in America right now, especially without Trent Edwards at QB. They could be bad enough to restore enough ASU mojo to start throwing deep again. Outside of the rivalry game, home matchups against UCLA and Washington State are probably the toughest challenges left on the slate.
By the way, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Be sure to read this and this to get your hopes up. Buck up lil' campers, good times are around the bend. By the way, the aforementioned 1995 ASU squad won five of their last six games after losing to Nebraska 77-28. I think it's rather well documented what happened the following year, as a young defensive corps and a young quarterback matured...
Monday, October 16, 2006
Apologies Sooners, Your Deal With The Devil Has Run Out
While the Oklahoma Sooners had a magnificent run in 2000 en route to their seventh National Championship, it has apparently cost them dearly. They were one of a handful of national media darlings heading into the 2006 campaign, but the dark cloud of karma came sweeping across the plains and has been circling over Norman ever since, much like the Bosworth/Hollieway antics that left the Oklahoma program in a deep dark hole known as the 1990's.
With a healthy Adrian Peterson being added to a Sooner team that grew and gelled during the second half of the 2005 season, many placed Oklahoma atop their preseason polls. Before the Sooner Schooner ever reached Owen Field however, the powerhouse program was Bomar'd. Starting quarterback Rhett Bomar was found to be taking money from boosters in exchange for doing anything but work and was swiftly booted from the team by head coach Bob Stoops, a move that cut off the hand but seemingly saved the body of the program. Even without Bomar under center, there was still optimism, as long as the Sooner bandwagon was being pulled by Adrian Peterson.
With Paul Thompson at quarterback, the OU offense looked less than impressive in their opening contests but still managed victories over Alabama-Birmingham and the Washington Huskies (who have rebounded to be a fair opponent for many this season). Heads were returning to their proper posture in Norman, but then the team traveled to Autzen Stadium to face Oregon. In a theft not seen since The Thomas Crown Affair, victory is heisted from the Sooners by a Pac-10 officiating crew in a Pac-10 stadium on national television. The Pac-10 Conference later apologized for the blatant "mistakes" and suspended the criminal elements for one game apiece for their particiation in this snafu.
After taking out their frustrations on Middle Tennessee State, the Sooners returned to playing college football by traveling to Dallas to face archrival Texas in the annual Red River Shootout. OU got virtually no breaks and weren't able to keep the game interesting in the second half, as the game was never as close as the 28-10 final score might indicate. If this doesn't seem like bad karma to you, you've never lived in Oklahoma during football season.
The Crimson and Cream hosted Iowa State and beat them soundly with Adrian Peterson's father in attendance for the first time in his son's outstanding collegiate career. In a seemingly meaningless play, Peterson scampered 60-some yards and dove into the end zone for a pile-on score, but landed in the paint awkwardly. X-rays later showed that the Heisman hopeful broke his collarbone and will not return to the football field this season.
I'm sorry to bore many of you, but what can possibly happen next for OU? Just trying to put into perspective that things really could be worse in Sun Devil land and I can only make so many U of A jokes, especially after they actually win a football game.
Friday, October 13, 2006
More Fun On The Internet
* In other news, there is a 40% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow in LA. Should make for an interesting game, seeing how Rudy Carpenter can't throw anyway. As I said a few days ago, run the wishbone option with Mike Jones under center. Wooo!
* In other earthshattering, groundbreaking news, Dirk Koetter doesn't know how to relate to his players, including lilly-white protege quarterback Rudy Carpenter. Here's Coach K's quote, straight from the East Valley Tribune.
“Rudy has gone through a rough stretch, but the things are all fixable. Some of it is mental, and I’m not an expert on that. We’ve brought in someone who is an expert on that, and hopefully, he can help Rudy and some other people on our team.”
Hear that, Dirk? It's the sound of the clock running out on your tenure as ASU head football coach. Now go out, beat USC, and save your job!!!
Grill? Check. Camping Chairs? Check. Bottle Opener? Check. Vessels to open? Check!
* Unfortunately, I'll be in Texas on Thanksgiving. The good news is that it's only a layover at DFW on the way to Tempe for Turkey Day! I'll be there for famly, friends, and of course this year's turf war between the Sun Devils and Wildcats, already being dubbed "The Dud In The Desert." I tried to purchase tickets through the opponent's website, and this was the message I received:
Please try again next year.
I Guess ol' Mikey hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire down there. I went back today, and apparently they're selling tickets for the University of Wyoming! (here's what their stuff looks like, and note the logo for single game purchases) I don't make this stuff up folks, they just must have a team of monkeys running things down in the old pueblo.
* ASU basketball has it's first official practice tonight under new head coach Herb Sendek, and this season's outlook is so bad that the AZ Republic ran a cover story about a player that won't even play for the Devils this year. Take cover until baseball season, Sun Devil fans.
* Call me crazy, but it sure seemed like Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit were a little buzzed during last night's telecast of the VA Tech-Boston College game. Of course I can't prove that they took a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery just before kickoff, I'm just saying it seems awfully possible. Their banter regarding the apparent fall of Tech and the inefficiency of the replay system sounded like they were having too good of a time by espn standards, of course that may have something to do with ditching College Gameday chaperone and resident coot Lee Corso for the evening. Speaking of that game, it's nice to see those turkeyfuckers go down in flames and even have a flair-up on the sidelines. The wave of recruiting power that was Michael Vick seems to be waning, so hopefully Tech fans will head back for the hills (quite literally).
* My standard espn gripe this week is this "full circle coverage" poppycock. When you have one game on 4 channels that total something like 11 simultaneous angles, I get seizures, plain and simple. Besides, who wants to see that much of Northern Alabama anyway? Of course if they weren't wasting four channels one one game the folks on the left coast would be able to see the great matchup between Michigan and Penn State (not to mention ASU-USC) without buying a satellite package. Regional coverage blows.
* Devil's Digest has two quality in-depth previews of tomorrow's game in LA. I could probably write something that good if I only had seen USC play this year. Please refer to the espn gripe, not to mention the Pac-10's ludicrious loyalty to Fox Sports Net, a channel you can't even get in Richmond.
I guess it's time to do some real work so I can get the fudge out of town. Have a great weekend, and I'll leave you with this: your moment of zen. JoePa's next gig after Penn State- Wal-Mart greeter. Adios!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
tHOH Consults Outside Source
1) Why should I watch this game? Does this year's Trojan squad have weaknesses, and if so what do you feel they are? In addition, are they problems that can be exploited, or will Carroll shore up these isues through film study and practice?They fired back with a series of questions of their own, and you can read my responses here. I hate giving predictions (mostly because I hate being wrong), but I thnk you can get a sense of how I feel about this weekend's game. I thought, going into the season, that the Cal road game would be the tougher of the two, and I'm still sticking to that even though a losing margin of 28 shouldn't be too hard to beat. The differences between a close game and a Trojan blowout are penalties and turnovers, so if ASU can right the ship in those two areas I'd feel a little better. The lingering dilemma is that these two catergories were problematic for the Devils all season long, even in the victories (remember those?). I feel a little better about Carpenter taking the snaps after reading this puff piece by the AZ Republic's Paola Boivin, though. It's good to get back to your roots, and I don't think anyone would argue against the notion that Rudy has definitely been thinking too much. Here's to better times, and toast now because apparently they don't sell beer at the Coliseum anymore. Egads!
Unlike the previous four editions of USC Football, the 2006 Trojans lack the explosive playmaking we're used to. The offense is still good--but it's methodical and sometimes has to settle for a field goal here or there. The Trojans have also failed to keep their advantage in turnover margin in Pac Ten play.
2) The fans of both teams seem to be geting a little restless with this year's drop off in play. Are you buying into the whole "USC's vulnerable" thing, and are you secretly laughing at overconfident ASU fans after our "prolific" passing attack threw for 33 yards against Oregon?
Oddly, I have not been woried by the close calls the last three weeks. I do wonder how USC would do in a shoot-out. USC's secondary is the weakest link of its defese. So if Brian Cushing, Lawrence Jackson and friends cannot get any pressure on Carpenter, it could be a long day.
3) I'm not gay, but I find it fascinating that you have the weekly gay viewer's game watching pick each week on your site. Anyone on ASU's team catch your eye? Just curious.
LOL. If I had to choose, it would probably be Zach Miller.
Yeah, I think he's dreamy too.
4) Is there anything about ASU's team that actually concerns you about Saturday's game, or are most of USC's worries inwardly focused?
That y'all score more points than us!
5) What's the word on the health of the Trojan wide receivers? Anyone else out of the lineup that I need to know about?
Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith might be back, but they're not 100%. Patrick Turner stepped up with 12 receptions, just a week after Smith got 11 against Wazzu. Under the radar are freshmen Vidal Hazelton and Travon Patterson, as well as Tight End Fred Davis--but you may notice that QB John David Booty has a bad habit of not checking off his primary receiver, so look for Numbers 8, 2 and 1 to get the ball...in that order...if they're on the field.
6) A little off topic, but how worried are you about any possible fallout from the Reggie Bush thing? This looks to be the only glimmer of hope for nine of the teams in the Pac-10 for a looong time.
Not so much. If it happens, it happens. But Reggie says there is nothing to worry about and we're just focused on winning games...and this week, that means beating the Sun Devils.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Taking On Troy
How does one go about beating a juggernaut like USC? Texas used a quarterback from another galaxy, but those seem to be in short supply these days. Where do we mere mortals go in this situation? If Scott Bordow were coach, the Devils would simply stay in Tempe because they don't have the talent to match up with the Trojans. Well fuck him, let's be rational about this thing.
Devils On Offense
The Trojans have a stout defense that most concur is better than the one they fielded in 2005. They run a 3-4 base with size and speed everywhere. The four linebackers means even fewer catches across the middle for Zach Miller and there will probably be a healthy dose of pressure on Rudy Carpenter, especially through the sieve created by right tackle Andrew Carnahan's torn ACL. That, of course, will require a ton of running from The Train, consecutive game 100-yard rusher Ryan Torain, especially on draw plays. By the way Dirk, a draw play isn't something you save until it's third and a country mile. Nothing says "I quit, let's just punt" like the draw play on third down and double digits. And another thing- play action is especially effective when it's a realistic running situation and you have a legitimate running threat- we have one of these now in Torain, a guy who gets the whole left-right-left-right (by that I mean walking) concept. No reason to start every series at 2nd and 10.
It's going to take some steady running, opportune passing, and a bit of trickeration to trip up USC. Pete Carroll and his staff have figured out Dirk's style (DK's 0 for life against the Men of Troy), so he can't just sit back and run the same set of plays. If the Devils pass on the first play of the game, you can bet on a long night at the bar for the Devil faithful. USC's defensive speed means it will be tough for Torain to make long yards by turning the corner on the outside, so it will have to be a ball controlling, grind it out, run between the tackles kind of day on offense. If Torain, Keegan Herring, and others can prove to be effective here, the passing game will open up in the deep middle where inexperienced sefeties will be roaming the secondary in single coverage, but that only leads to a whole set of problems for the Devils. Apparently ASU is having problems throwing, catching, route running, and getting their timing in synch. The passing game has been so disparaging that Koetter actually said in last Saturday's post game press conference that "completing a pass might be a good goal for us next week." Eek. Fun stat! Sun Devil Law # 41 states that there are 4,481 passing yards to Pasadena. At 33 yards per game, that will only take 136 games. Rose Bowl 2018, baby!
Carpenter and the receiving corps have apparently been meeting after practice working on their laundry list of problems, and hopefully this wil transfer to their on the field play. In an effort to feng-shui Carpenter's brain, Koetter made him watch a tape of all 64 of his completed passes of thirty yards or more. If this doesn't work, I say put him on the spot and throw him under the bus in public and on camera like some folks do.
Devils On Defense
Oh boy, here we go. Pete Carroll has already proved he isn't above trickeration against inferior teams by using a fake field goal against Washington, so ASU ought to be on the lookout for such horseplay. We were burned by a Reggie Bush TD pass on our last trip to the Coliseum (not to mention a rushing TD and a punt return for 6), so anything is fair game. With a freshman quarterback under center, the Devil D needs to show multiple looks, apply a bend but don't break philosophy, and blitz at opportune times. Blitzing from corner and safety could confuse young Booty and cause him to be erratic, or it could give him the opportunity to burn the inept ASU corners once they're stuck in single coverage. Chris McFoy is out (really wanted to see his little bro pop him just once really hard over the middle), Dewayne Jarrett is still questionable, and Steve Smith is looking doubtful for Saturday's matchup, but I'm still concerned at how ASU matches up at wideout. Remember that two years ago none of knew who Jarrett was and then he burned the Devils for 167 yards and two TD's. I haven't really watched the USC running backs enough to know how dangerous they can be, but I'm sure they're talented. The D-line and linebackers need to take this opportunity to make a statement that, despite current trends, this is NOT last year's 114th ranked defensive unit. Stuff the run and make the kid QB try to beat you.
Terry Richardson, Terry Richardson, Terry Richardson. He started last year's USC game off with a first quarter bang, we can only hope he can do it again.
With Rudy. Fucking. Burgess' status sill a question mark for Saturday( yes, he's always a factor), unexpected wrath of God-type interference could include but not be limited to rain (30% chance), USC's wide receiver health, USC's youth on offense, and the fact that USC feels the need to make a statement since many pollsters have now dropped them a few pegs. The Coliseum crowd may affect this team's fragile psyche, but then again it may be beyond repair before they even run out of the tunnel. Of course, the same was said last year before finishing 5-1, so all hope is not lost on the season.
I'm hopeful, but not optimistic. The Devils might cover the 19.5 point spread, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Wha's Dis 'Day O Rest' Shit?!
Eh, bye weeks. My typical level of passion is off compared to usual Saturdays in the fall, but at least I did a few loads of laundry, cooked up a monster pot of chili, did a little cleaning around the house, and even went running. Yay me, especially since I completed all of the above while watching ELEVEN+ STRAIGHT HOURS of college fooball. (I figured it was ok to miss the second quarter of the USC-Kentucky game to run two miles, and I was back and showered before the 8:00 kickoffs) Here's a quick smattering of observations and snarky remarks regarding today's ongoings.
* Yeah, I stll hate Texas, thanks for asking. Paul Thompson is quickly joining the short list of suckass quarterbacks I'd love to beat the shit out of in a dark alley. You listening, Rudy? Add to that, Bob Stoops' playcalling was as genius as brother Mikey's against LSU.
* The all-time greatest background sign was seen on espn's College Gameday this morning. It said "Corso [picture of a heart]'s [picture of male genitalia]; look for a screenshot on EDSBS soon. Speaking of those jort-wearing jokers, one of the commenters noted that there was a cop pre-screening any signs that might get on camera, but the creator used a dry-erase board. Sheer genius. (Well, that didn't take long...link)
* Minnesota's color scheme looks a lot like that of ASU, and another trait the two teams have in common is that they both blow leads in big games against teams they should beat at home. I mean, who misses an extra point in overtime, really?
* Arkansas has a bear of a running attack (both McFadden and Jones eclipsed the 100 yard mark), not to mention one of those freaky former basketball players at wide receiver, although he's sorely underutilized. Props for beating the #2 team in the nation in their house.
* Speaking of basketball players, average-at-best shooting guard Jordan Kent is playing wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks, and ABC made sure to let all of us know that his head b-ball coach papa Ernie, the Rob Evans of the northwest, was watching him lose from the stands. (Funny side note: while looking for a story to link Rob Evans, this headline was the 5th link provided by Google. Totally different guy, but awfully apropos.)
* Stanford is now 0-6, and there is a good chance that I was wong with my preseason surprise pick. Whoopsie daisy.
* The University of Virginia lost again, this time to East Carolina by a score of 31-21. It's a good thing that they're above a mind-numbing game like football, otherwse Al Groh might be on the hot seat.
* Oregon is getting worked like a part-time job in Berkeley. The Bears are sporting uniforms that are actually uglier than Oregon's, something previously thought to be mathematically impossible, and it appears to be throwing Dennis Dixon's game off. It makes me feel a little better about ASU getting their asses handed to them by Cal, but it gives me shivers and makes me want to drink thinking about their performance against the Ducks.
* Pac-10 officials have managed to job yet another undeserving team. The Washington Huskies were driving against turbo-overrated USC with a chance to win, and one of the refs was late in spotting the ball while the clock was running. The Dawgs should have had one last play from the Trojan 20-yard line, but time expired and they were denied. Boo, zebras. I think it speaks volumes when USC has to use some fake punt trickeration to beat U-Dub.
* Georgia head coach Mark Richt, a former Florida State offensive coordinator, looks a hell of a lot like Tommy Bowden, only with botox and a fake-bake. Hey Bobby, is there anything Mrs. Richt needs to know about?
* In related news, this team wearing red and black and calling themselves "Georgia" can't possbly be the same group of young men who have been playing between the hedges since early September. How does a team that, over five games, gave up a total of 34 points, allow 51 to Tennessee in Athens? Even more bizarre, the same squad that scored 18, 14, and 14 against their three respective BCS conference opponents drop 33 (24 in the 1st half) against the Vols? There's trickery afoot, I tell you.
* U of A loses again, as UCLA gets a bit of revenge for last year's coma in Tucson. Woohoo! As bad as ASU has played over the last two weeks, their record is still better than that of the kitties; I keep telling myself that it really could be worse. Word on the internet is that Arizona wonderboy QB Willie Tuitama was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter due to yet another solid blow to the head. He's already suffered a concussion this year, and while I would never wish injury upon anyone (well, maybe them) the kittycat offense can't take too many steps backwards. They're averaging less than eight points a game vs. D-1 opponents, which I guess is ok. Oh wait, we're not talking about baseball! They're on pace to get their standard three wins per season under Stoops (at best), and let's just hope they get that last one before Thanksgiving. Here's the post-game quote from Mikey, and I think it was really nice of the AP writer (quote taken from uclabruins.com) to edit out all of the standard "ummms," "errrrs," and "duuuuhhhs."
Well, we're just not good. Right now, we're just not good enough to win a game, and that's where we're at. We did good things at times, but we're not consistent enough, and you need to be [consistent] to win. We got in holes, and we're not good enough to overcome them right now. It's frustrating, but I'm proud of these players. It may sound trivial, but the kids were prepared and did some good things. It was a bad choice to do the onside kick, but we wanted to try to gain momentum. It just didn't work. We put them in short-field situations, making it easy to score. Our defense wasn't good enough to stop them. Our defense could not get consistent pressure on the quarterback, and we couldn't cover a lot of their pass and misdirection plays. On offense, we threw the ball decently and had some nice plays. We did well with the pass, and our production was better. But, I'm still concerned with our run game. We're all disappointed, but I like how we came to play. We just got beat by the better team.
Ha! Can't wait to see how the red and blue faithful spin this one. Goodnight errybody!
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Ok, Now What?
Suppose, if you will, that this funk curently contaminating ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter isn't simply temporary and his 2005 performance in which he led the nation in passing efficiency was an abberition. Oh crap, that's really, really possible. What next for the ASU offense? Let's examine a few options.
* Start playing true frosh backup Danny Sullivan. Riiiight. In his few appearances he has a few turnovers. The kid handles the pigskin like a vegan with a side of beef. The ball won't give you cancer, Danny.
* Switch LB Mike Nixon over to QB. He hasn't really learned the defense, but what the hell? Koetter recruited him as a quarterback five years ago, and its not like you don't use your throwing arm in baseball. This quarterback was the Arizona player of the year out of Sunnyslope High School, and it's just like riding a bike, right? Speaking of baseball players...
* WR Mike Jones at QB. He's a centerfielder for the Sun Devil baseball team, and this morsel of information comes straight from his thesundevils.com player bio:
...versatile athlete who quarterbacked his team as a senior...threw for 1,997 yards and 17 touchdowns...also rushed for 684 yards and five more touchdowns...was the starting quarterback for the Texas High School All-Star game the summer after his senior year...Sounds like a winner to me!
* Rudy. Fucking. Burgess. He threw a touchdown pass in Pac-10 play last year, which is more than Rudy Carpenter can say for himself this year. Plus, he's amazing. I say line him up under center and run the option, because at this point anything is better than what ASU has going on offense. Imagine, if you will, Burgess coming around the end with Ryan Torain flanking him, awaiting a possible pitch. Who do you cover if you're an outside linebacker? The Devils are deep enough at running back right now that they can even run the wishbone triple option, with the fake handoff up the middle. Sweeeeet. The key downfield threat in this old school Big 8 offensive attack is the tight end... I'd say ASU has that covered with Zach Miller. What's to stop us? Oh yeah, a weak O-line, a porous defense, etc.
How this Guy Won A National Championship Is Beyond Me
This crazy old codger sure makes halftime fun.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
What the Deuce? A Voice of Reason At Devil's Digest?!
In fairness to Koetter... a little perspective
Arizona.... hires what many thought was the best assistant coach in the country, after 3 years he has been a complete and total failure.
Oregon State.... after an impressive BCS performance against Notre Dame, the team has gone straight downhill and that's even after bringing back their super coach Mike Riley.
Stanford.... hires hot shot Steve Spurrier assistant for head coach, he fails miserably. Then they hire extremely well regarded Walt Harris from Pitt with absolutely no signs of improvement. Like Stoops, only his honeymoon is saving him.
UCLA.... should be a BCS school every year, goes the affirmative action route and hires a completely unqualified head coach, the results have been pathetic for a program like theirs.
Washington State... has had nothing to cheer about since Mike Price left.
Washington... one of the best programs in the entire country for decades is now, finally, after several years as a doormat and many coaching changes, has a decent team but still no where near ready to win the conference.
Maryland.... surges to the nation's elite with a BCS performance, everyone loves Ralph Friedgen... that is until he's had back to back below .500 seasons, now he's on the hot seat.
Miami... Larry Coker wins a national championship, the coach who couldn't lose. The super genius. Now everyone wants him fired.
NC State.... Wolfpack fans are worried that Chuck Amato will leave for another program after two great years... now they all want him fired.
Michigan State... hires John L. Smith, the hotshot coach from Louisville that everyone wanted to hire... now John L Smith is on the hotseat because he can't win the big game, the team has quit on him, he can't compete with the big boys in the conference, etc.
Texas A+M.... hires away supercoach Dennis Franchione from Alabama (and formerly of TCU). The dream coach. What a steal for the Auggies!! Even ASU was after this guy. Now they all want him fired because of his mediocre performance.
Purdue's Joe Tiller is on the verge of greatness after leading his team to the Rose Bowl.... now is on the verge of unemployment.
Colorado hires away supercoach Gary Barnett from Northwestern... underachieves completely at CU, now hires Dan Hawkins who can't even beat a Div-IAA school.
Kansas State... Bill Snyder builds a consistent top ten program which is now a consistently sub-average program. KState fans screaming for new blood, demanding a coaching change.
Arkansas.... Nebraska offered super hot coach Houston Nutt $2M/year to coach the Huskers have they fired Frank Solich, to the relief of all Razorback fans, he declined... that is unless you ask them today, where they are all screaming for him to be fired.
The list goes on and on: Boston College, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia, Sryacuse, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma State, BYU, Alabama, Mississippi State... even Notre Dame is now, finally, coming out of their funk.
This doesn't excuse or justify anything Koetter has done.
However, just realize there are only a handful of programs who consistently win and dozens upon dozens of others trying to scratch and claw their way up to the top of the mountain. Turning around a program into a national championship caliber team is an extraordinally diffiucult task for any coach.
Right or wrong, good or bad, Koetter will be our head coach for this year and probably next year too.
The team needs our support.
The peanut gallery picks Malph's brilliance apart here.
Blogging is easy if you just republish what others have writen. Yay, plagerism!
Matthew McConaughey Is A Traitor
Horns fans should be ashamed of this guy, especially since he's their most famous alum in between Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams. Take that Texas, with your Oklahoma Suks beer and all. Yeah, it's a real product, concocted by the folks at Independence Brewery in the center of all that is unholy: Austin, Texas. Is there anything good about Texas, you ask? All I can think of is that no matter what food you order in any restaurant in Texas, it comes topped with bacon, jalapenos, and chili, and all that results in is a case of the JoePa's. That's it. The best they have to offer ends in diarrhea, pure and simple. I hate Texas. They've wanted independence from the Union for centuries, and I say they should have gotten it decades ago. Back to McConaughey, is it just me or is he looking more and more like the cavemen from those obnoxious Geico commercials? You be the judge.
This bye week just might kill me.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Depression Sets In
Ok, these last couple of weeks have been bad. Last weeks jeers of "fire Koetter!" have been replaced with detailed analyses of fundraisers making said firing possible. It sounds like a joke, but it really is happening. The excrement has really hit the fan on this one, and that can only come from huge expectations. Those taking this two-week skid the hardest are the ones who predicted a record ending with "and 0" for a team that had a cellar dweller defense last year, lost one of the best (statistically, at least) wide receivers in Pac-10 history, lost the Pac-10 defensive player of the year, and has a sophomore starting at quarterback. That's a lot of things to fall into place, no matter how much you believe in the year of the 6. It's really frustrating for me because, once again, I fell for the Dirk Koetter line about this being "the best team he's ever had at ASU." Somehow I thought the best team in the last six years would have at least kept the score respectable against what will probably be two of the top three teams in the league. Am I one to keep expectations low? Hell no! Who the hell am to keep you from dreaming? All I'm saying is to not put too much stock in your own amateur opinion. Coach had a great quote about perception, saying "everybody just took us from being the best team in the country to the worst team in the country, and we're neither of those." Well said, and I think this is his way of telling all of the naysayers that they should wait until the final record comes in before they call for his head.
All of that being said, let's look at the positives!
* Rudy Carpenter only threw one interception against the Ducks. Now see, there's something good, especially since he threw four against the Bears the previous week. At that rate, one can extrapolate touchdown passes for the upcoming game against USC.
* Terry Richardson returned a kickoff for 100 yards. That has't been done in Sun Devil Stadium since 1986, and it's a shame it was wasted in last week's effort. Keep up the hard work, Terry.
* ASU had a 100-yard rusher. Again! When did Bruce Snyder get back?! Ryan Torain has shown flashes of power and brilliance not seen around these parts since pre-neck injury Michael Martin.
* Rudy Carpenter did a good job of spreading the ball around. This sounds as tongue-in-cheek as the first positive(not even I can polish that turd of a performance), but it's factual. Seven Sun Devil receivers caught at least one pass. The problem is, they all caught only one pass. And they were all short.
* Jesse Ainsworth was two for two on field goal attempts. When you delve in to the kickers' sucess, you're really reaching.
* Hey, at least U of A lost. Fuckin' A right they did! The highlight of my saturday. I didn't even win a game of flip-cup on Shabbas.
We'll win another game, won't we?
Monday, October 02, 2006
Our Fearless Leader?
The above photo depicts the leader THE TEAM chose to carry them into the 2006 season, and it shows why coaches are paid well to make difficult decisions. He has appeared confused, frightened, inefficient, and just plain ol' sucktacular over the course of the season (sans week 2 vs. Nevada), and I'm curious to know what happened. Does the lack of a serious threat off the bench provide too much complacency, therefore removing his competitive spirit? After being named the backup on the last day of fall camp, Carpenter threw 6 TD passes in the final scrimmage, although it was against ASU's 2nd string secondary. (Does that make it the secondary secondary? Aw fuck it.) ASU two-time graduate and law professor Eric Menkhus (my fraternity brother) wrote the following piece on leadership last Sunday, and I couldn't agree more.
Leadership: The Problem And The Solution
I think that it is pretty obvious that leadership is one of, if not the main issue affecting this team -- both from the coaches and from within the team.
There have been many signs:
1. A senior member of the leadership council is suspended for spring practices for chronic tardiness and overall lack of focus; however, he doesn't lose his seat on the leadership council and is still upheld as a leader of the team.
2. Instead of addressing growing issues head on at the time they arose, players waited for a major decision to be made before coming to the coaches with important information the coaches would have needed to make the proper decision in the first place. With the new information, the coaches do an abrupt "about face" and the program takes a major PR hit, even though the decision was the proper one at the time. Players probably still don't realize that they exibited poor leadership instead of good leadership in this situation.
3. Both offensive "leaders" threaten to transfer. One actually does.
4. Instead of coming clean and addressing how the decision was reached and the detailed timeline of what happened, the coaches are loyal to a former player in order to allow him to move on. Consequently, rampant speculation ensues that damages the program further instead of vindicating the head coach for making the right decision.
5. Another senior member of the leadership council is out on a Wednesday night at 2am during the season doing 100+ mph on the highway, possibly impaired. I'm not sure if he still occupies his spot on the leadership council.
The good news is that all is not lost. Somewhere on this team there are leaders that were not appointed, they just earned the respect of their teammates and can right the ship. They might be senior starters. They might be walkons that never see the field. They might be freshmen that have only been in the program for a month or two. They might even be the guys that committed the transgressions I described above.
We, the fans, don't know who they are. But the team knows and those specific leaders know. It is time for them to step forward and hold the team accountable. All is not lost. The team needs the leaders to ensure that there is a great week of practice this week and that the team stays focused on a goal that is still very attainable -- a successful season.
And the coaches need to provide this leadership, too. This is not a week to just go about business as usual. This is a week to separate those that want to compete, improve, and succeed from those that do not. In short, this is a week to demand the most from the players while also sharing in the blame for yesterday's results.
Will it happen? I don't know. I have to admit I'm skeptical. I'm not sure I see a Juan Roque, Kyle Murphy, Pat Tillman, Derek Smith, Kirk Robertson, Shawn Swayda, or other similarly-minded player on this year's team. I see guys with that potential, but nobody I've seen embrace their roles as leaders like these guys did.
Hopefully those guys are out there and ready to come to the forefront. If not and the team just relies on the appointed leaders, the rest of the season could be a long one.
The talent is there to compete with the best teams in the conference and win many more games than we lose. The challenge is to have the mental focus to make that happen and to respond when "Uncle Mo" goes to the other side of the field (like the 6 minute stretch in yesterday's game).
The team's performance on Saturday should tell us a lot. As always, I'll be there to cheer them on to victory!
Way to hit the nail on the head, Menk. Here are some quotes from the captain of the offense.
I guess I'm not as good as I thought I was.
Yeah, no shit.
Throwing the ball has been the weakest part of our offense this year. We have to play to our strengths, and right now our strength is running the ball. If that's what we have to do, that's what we have to do.
Again, no shit, but why don't you worry about putting the ball on the receivers' hands and let coach Koetter screw up the play calling. He's obviously brilliant at doing so.
I just turned the ball over too many times. That's been the story of my year so far.
I don't know what I'm doing.
Oh, its too easy to beat this dead horse. You do see the pattern, don't you? Really stirs the soul. This is guy I want to follow into battle. This whole thing needs a completely different mindset, and nobody short of the Ol' Ball Coach has the required attitude. Before you say I've been reading EDSBS too much (which I have), read the following snippet from Coach Spurrier. I just want to give a big 'I told you so' to anyone who was listening when I said ASU should have dumped Koetter at all costs to get this guy after he was let go by the Redskins. I wanted to go with the whole 'fishing at Lake Apache and world-class golf 365 days a year' sales pitch. Oh, what could have been. I'm throwing my visor over here, not that it matters. Enough ranting, here's the quote, straight from SignOnSanDiego.com:
September 30, 2006He would have looked good in maroon and gold. Oh, what could have been.
Steve Spurrier has a request for South Carolina football fans:
“Please don't clap when we come close.”
After watching video of his team's 24-17 loss Thursday to No. 2 Auburn, Spurrier said he was bothered by the positive reaction he heard from many of the 74,374 fans in the Gamecocks' Williams-Brice Stadium.
Spurrier said he wants fans to keep being as loud as they were during the game, but “I don't know if any coach has told our fans, 'Please don't clap if we get beat,'” he said yesterday.
South Carolina lost to Auburn 48-7 last year.
Spurrier said he first noticed the cheering for a close loss last year, when his team fell to Clemson 13-9.
“They thought we were going to get clobbered. We didn't get clobbered, so that's OK,” Spurrier said. “That's not OK.”
Well said, coach. Too bad I'm stuck with the [NAME ALSO REDACTED] of the west.
Yup. Thirty-three freakin' yards. Of passing offense. For an entire game. An ASU game. Apologies for not posting last week, but I was in the middle of an angry gauntlet of music, climaxing with two consecutive nights of Widespread Panic in Charlottesville. Woooo! Sorry about that. Since my last post not involving big shits ASU has, well, taken two big shits versus Cal and Oregon, respectively. The latter was hard enough to watch, but reading the box score was even more difficult. Thirty-three passing yards for the Devils over sixty minutes of football is obviously unacceptable, but at least it produced a 100-yard rusher in Ryan Torain(again). He has been a calming source of consistency in an otherwise tumultous season marred by an ocean of inconsistency, even by ASU standards. The question I keep asking myself is, "how does one person reverse the fortunes of the entire program without doing anything illegal?"
Onlookers have testified that Carpenter has lost all confidence in himself, so much that he often appears afraid to throw the ball. I was watching the game at a bar in Richmond while there was a Virginia Tech game being broadcast concurrently, so there was no sound available thanks to those turkey-lovin' motherfuckers (ramblin wreck, bitches). I was under the impression that there was excellent pass coverage by the Ducks and that was why Rudy held on to the ball for so long but apparently I was wrong. According to a testimonial by someone we'll call Pat...
During the interception in the end zone, Mike Jones did 100 jumping jacks, took a few pictures with the cheerleaders, called his mom, fucked a hot chick, went to Circle K and got a gatorade, drank it, had a hot dog on the way back into the stadium, and was STILL wide open in the far corner when Carp (under)threw into double coverage and was picked off. Jones then looked at the student section and lifted his arms in frustration, as if to say "what the fuck?!"
The defense HAD been the toast of Tempe, going into the Oregon slaughter tied with the national lead in sacks, even though they recorded a whopping none against Cal the previous week. Keno Walter-White couldn't cover Charlie Weis in the open field(Weis you may remember is the love child of Rosie O'Donnell & Jabba the Hutt), the linebackers seem to be UN-learning with each passing week, and the d-line, while drastically improved, has managed to be a bust so far. Loren Howard still has yet to see the field as a Devil, and Tranell Morant has been there but you'd have to pay very close attention to know. The safeties are leading the team in tackles again, which of course is only so because the nine guys in front of them can't make plays.
So is this a case of ASU being really bad or both Cal and Oregon being really good? A little of both, methinks. Carpenter set an ASU record for fewest passing yards in a game, outsucking such legends as Griffin Goodman, Jeff Krohn, Andy Goodenough (how ironic), Chad Christensen, post-op and post 8-ball Ryan Kealy, Steve Campbell, and the incomparable (or so I thought) John Leonard. Yeah, I went there. John Leonard. Cal AND Oregon can't both be that good. We suck. Maybe we'll make a bowl game. Hmmm, I'm not even sure about that enymore.
God I hate football.
The guy on the left says it all, and the empty bleachers echo his sentiments.