Sunday, November 4
It's not as easy as it was
or as difficult as it could be . . .
I'd probably be more cheesed off about how the game went if I hadn't seen it coming -- start off slow, hand Troy a few gift points via a completely inexplicable mental error or two, eventually get things moving on offense but still have to sweat through part of the fourth quarter. So I guess there was a fourth kind of sandwich I neglected to include in my breakdown of the game a few days ago. This wasn't quite a turd sandwich, but it certainly wasn't steak either -- so I guess I'll call it plain old bologna, no more, no less.
And there's still that nasty little matter of interest, focus, motivation, energy level, whatever you want to call it. OK, a team that fumbles on its opening drive isn't necessarily distracted or unfocused, but a team that fumbles on its first two drives? That makes me think somebody hit the snooze button a few too many times this morning. We're just thankful they didn't get turned into anything worse than they did; when you gift-wrap two fumbles for your opponent inside your own 40 and they only manage to spin that into three points, pat your friendly neighborhood defensive player on the back and hand him a cold beer for his troubles.
And, as always, buy Knowshon Moreno something pretty.
Those stops are part of the reason why I'm not nearly as worked up about the defense's, uh, less-than-optimal performance as I might be. Yes, we gave up more than 300 passing yards to Omar Haugabook, but we also picked him off twice and took a fumble away from him, so in the end it was kind of a feast-or-famine day, which was more likely to happen without Kelin Johnson in the lineup. We had the momentum going into halftime, stopped Troy at the goal line on their first drive of the second half, and were just about to score a TD that would've put us up 31-13 and probably made a lot of people think "OK, we're about to end this thing" when Stafford threw a weird end-zone pick, Troy rode the momentum to a TD on their next drive, and all of a sudden a game that should've been over wasn't. It happens.
And I think we'd all be a lot less surprised at how ably Haugabook shredded us if we hadn't fallen for what I now believe was a brilliant job of sandbagging by Troy's head coach. Oh, so your QB has a hamstring injury, does he? Interesting. I guess 45 passes and 12 rushes was your way of taking it easy on him, then. (Not that I'm complaining about this; I'm only pointing it out in a "Well played, sir" kind of way, and if anybody from Auburn is reading, Matt Stafford fractured his pelvis and is doubtful for next Saturday. Oh, and so did Knowshon Moreno. And I think Asher Allen is going in for rotator-cuff surgery on Monday.)
So let's don't go setting the message boards on fire or calling up GoDaddy.com to see if "Fire Willie Martinez" is still available as a domain name. We beat a very good team; the offense was on fire; Knowshon Moreno went over 1,000 yards rushing despite this only being his third official start of the season, putting him in a very select club that includes himself and . . . yup, Herschel Walker. And now it's time to get the ol' game face on, 'cause it's nothing but games of life-or-death importance from here on out. No, bologna's not my first choice, but, eh . . . it could've been so much worse.
Should be paired with a fine American cheese and a boxed red.
And now for some people who know that firsthand:
· A few weeks back, Slate ran a column that unequivocally called Charlie Weis "the worst football coach in the universe." At the time, I wrote it off as just your typical online hyperbole, but now I have to concede that he might be right. The brain fart heard 'round the world came with less than a minute left in regulation of Notre Dame's attempt to win a 44th straight against Navy, with the Irish facing fourth-and-8 from the Navy 24. "Kick a field goal," you might advise, and you would probably be right -- but Uncle Charlie, in his infinite wisdom, decided to go for it. The Irish proceeded to lose seven yards courtesy of a sack that almost didn't happen because Navy's Ram Vela nearly flew completely over Evan Sharpley's head, over on downs, and three overtimes later, they sang the Navy alma mater before Notre Dame's for the first time since Roger Staubach was still a cadet.
Is Notre Dame's kicker a paraplegic, you ask? No, he is not; Brandon Walker was only 5-of-9 the season up to that point, but had managed a 48-yarder against UCLA a few weeks ago. He was only 1-of-3 on the season from longer than 40 yards, but consider that a 33.3333% chance of making the field goal is still significantly greater than the chance of an offense as inept as Notre Dame's managing to get eight yards in only one try. And if you miss the field goal, you're in no worse field position than you were before.
C'mon, Sharpley! Tom Brady would've been able to get that first.
So congrats, Notre Dame. Your Sooper Genius coach is now 20-14, a record no better than the 21-15 that you decided was a firing offense for Ty Willingham. He's 1-8 and setting new records not only for failure by a Fighting Irish team but also for offensive ineptitude in the college-football universe writ large. And yeah, he just managed to lose to a team that hadn't beaten you since 1963. Is this the part where Charlie says "I'm going to Disneyworld"?
· By the way, that was the first time all season I'd really bothered to watch a Notre Dame game broadcast on NBC, but it seemed like the two gentlemen in the booth really had no concept of the gravitas of the game whatsoever. Here's a Notre Dame team suffering through its worst record in decades and fighting to hold onto the last shred of superiority it still has, here's a Navy team that's sniffing a victory over the Irish for the first time since before Kennedy got shot, and that's the best you can do? I thought of what it would've sounded like if Ron Franklin or Keith Jackson had been up there calling the game, and it made me a little sad. Then again, if I'd had to sit through that much shitty football over the course of the season, I might be phoning it in too.
· Thursday night was the Battle of the Techs, Georgia vs. Virginia, and at some point before the game somebody was kind enough to boost the jerseys of both Hokie quarterbacks and a couple of other VT players. Georgia Tech gave Sean Glennon an old #7 Yellow Jackets road jersey, Glennon wrote his last name on the back in Magic Marker, and he proceeded to have a career day against GT (22-32, 296 yards, 2 TDs, no picks). It's one thing to say "I beat them in their own stadium," but how many people get to say "I beat them wearing their own jersey"?
Sean Glennon: He can wear his'n and beat your'n, and then he can wear your'n and beat . . . well, your'n.
· Three years ago, Bill Callahan's Nebraska Cornhuskers set a new record for most points allowed in a 70-10 loss to Texas Tech; this weekend he set a new personal best. Now, I don't like to go trading in rumors or gossip or anything, but . . . I think Callahan might get fired at the end of the season.
· As I'm typing this, the Bama-LSU game has been over for about 30 minutes, and ironically on a day when LSU won maybe the biggest game of its season (and there have been plenty of big ones), I had the first real twinges of doubt that LSU is really the best overall team in the country. They eclipsed Alabama pretty handsomely in the statistics, but they also committed an assload of ridiculous penalties and tried on a number of occasions to hand the game to Alabama in a lovely blue Tiffany's box; they were simply lucky that Alabama didn't seem interested in accepting it. It was the kind of sloppiness that I rarely see from, say, a Jim Tressel-coached team -- and yet the last time I saw that kind of sloppiness from a Jim Tressel-coached team, it came in a huge game against an SEC squad that has a lot of similarities to LSU. I don't know, I may end up flipping a coin this week. That OK with everybody?
· Cheerleader Curse update: Washington State, where Jesica Calkins (above) calls home, nearly put together a big fourth-quarter comeback against California in Strawberry Canyon but still fell to the Bears 20-17. The Cheerleader of the Week schools are now 1-3 this season and 3-9 going back to 2006.
· Wofford update: The Terriers lost to Georgia Southern, 38-35, on a fourth-quarter field goal; the Southern Conference now looks a lot like the SEC East, with three teams sitting on top of the league with 4-2 conference records, but Wofford has managed to lose to both of the other two.
· Before I go, does anybody know where I could score a cheap Auburn ticket? A real one, if possible?