Archive for May, 2009

Get Your Vegas Fix

May 31, 2009

I have a new post up on Tilting at Windmills about the Vegas preseason odds for college football. Check it out if you have a chance.

Sound the Alarm?

May 28, 2009

By now, most seasoned Sooner fans can sniff out when Bob Stoops is using his motivational Jedi mind tricks.

He may call out a player in the media. He’ll reward an overachieving walk-on with a move up the depth chart as a way to challenge a slow starter. Hell, last year, he publicly dogged OU’s fans in an effort to hype up the crowd for a primetime game with Texas Tech.
Is it just me, though, or do his recent critiques of the OU offensive line seem different?
Prior to spring practice, Stoops lit into the unit, which must replace four starters this season. No big deal, Homerism thought. Sounded like a good way to let the newbies know what time it is.
The OU head coach’s comments in today’s column from Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World are more troubling, however. Echoing his earlier concerns, Stoops harped on the new group’s work ethic and attitude. This coming a week after he unceremoniously kicked guard Alex Williams off the team for “not doing what he needs to do.”
If Stoops was talking about any unit other than the offensive line, it wouldn’t have me particularly spooked. That even includes quarterback. But strong offensive line play is key to a national championship season, and OU’s new crop is pretty green.
Stoops himself noted that the blockers have time to put it all together. There’s no denying the individual talent among the group. Hopefully, Stoops’ barking is just another ploy to keep the linemen on their toes.
But it sure doesn’t feel like it.

2005 Called…

May 27, 2009

It wants its rap and college football stars back.

Stoops Opens Up About BCS Blowups

May 25, 2009

Today’s column from Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World includes head coach Bob Stoops’ first real comments on OU’s loss in this year’s BCS championship since his postgame press conference. Sittler talks up an angle on the game that didn’t seem to get much play in the aftermath–running back DeMarco Murray’s absence.

Throughout OU’s BCS losing streak, injuries, bad behavior and bad luck have plagued the Sooners. Murray and starting defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger missed the BCS championship game, just like both were absent from the OU’s loss to West Virginia in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. Receiver Malcolm Kelly and defensive backs Lendy Holmes and Reggie Smith also missed the surprising loss to the Mountaineers. Kelly sat out the prior season’s thriller versus Boise State. And don’t forget Heisman winner Jason White gutting out the 2004 Sugar Bowl with a broken foot, an injury that occurred early in the Sooners’ shellacking at the hands of Kansas State in that season Big 12 championship.
Of course, few of Stoops’ critics bring that up when hating on “Medium Game” Bob. And when was the last time you heard Stoops mention it?
Having watched Murray power into the end zone in short-yardage situations time and again throughout last season, it’s tough not to wonder what could have been when OU had the ball inside Florida’s five-yard line twice and came away with zero points. Similarly, would Jason White have missed a wide-open Kejuan Jones in the end zone in the Sugar Bowl if he had been throwing off of a good foot? It’s tough to say.
Thankfully, Stoops appears loathe to make such excuses for his teams’ postseason travails. After all, you go to war with the army you have. Great teams develop depth and don’t let the loss of one player completely throw them off track. Last year, for instance, Florida went out and beat an undefeated Alabama team while missing All-American Percy Harvin. Stoops himself has more than made due in such cases before.
Yet, it’s convenient to omit important details if they don’t support your point. It should surprise no one that the people who have latched on to the notion that Stoops and the Sooners are chokers aren’t interested in discussing the personnel issues facing OU in its big game defeats. In a sport with such little margin for error is that really fair?

On the Spot: Jonathan Crompton

May 24, 2009

Ever seen a girl flip out and start trash-talking some huge dude, threatening that her boo is going to beat the guy’s ass?

Well, new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin spent the entire offseason letting his mouth write checks that his butt can’t–and won’t have to–cash. The problem for his players is that they’re going to be left holding the bag when foes come to collect. Kiffin has created plenty of buzz and looks ready to right Tennessee’s ship. But it’s not happening this season, and his squad will take some lumps in his stead.
For incumbent UT quarterback Jonathan Crompton, this is a terrible set of a circumstances. Crompton’s disappointing play in 2008 had a big hand in former coach Phil Fulmer’s eventual departure from the Rocky Top sidelines. Crompton finished the year with a 91.8 passer rating and a 4-5 ratios of interceptions to touchdowns. Yet, despite the regime change, he appears to be the de facto starter heading into the fall.
Now, as if Crompton didn’t suffer enough last year, he’s about to face the fury of a legion of pissed-off SEC defenses. Bring a flak jacket, buddy.

Bustin’ Out: Golden Tate

May 23, 2009

Speculation this offseason about Notre Dame’s possible return to glory has centered around the maturation of quarterback Jimmy Clausen as he approaches a make-or-break 2009 season, and rightfully so. Especially when considering the lack of gamebreakers in the Irish backfield, a potent passing game will have to be the team’s bread and butter this year. If Clausen trends more Joe Montana, the Irish are looking at a potential title shot. If Clausen goes the way of his quarterback coach Ron Powlus, Charlie Weis will be looking at a pink slip prior to his team’s trip to Shrevport for the Independence Bowl.

Just the Irish’s luck: the 2009 schedule is loaded with creampuffs, which should allow ND to put up the kind of gaudy offensive numbers witnessed in Weis’ first two seasons in South Bend.

Wideout Golden Tate should benefit from Pear Bryant’s passing proclivity as well. The athletic Tennessean turned into ND’s top receiver during his sophomore year. Besides catching 10 touchdowns, Tate also eclipsed the 1,000 yards receiving mark, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. He capped off a stellar 2008 with three touchdowns and 180 yards receiving on just six grabs in the Hawaii Bowl.

Tate probably lacks some the overall athleticism of his sophomore-to-be cohort Michael Floyd. However, he still poses a strong downfield threat with good speed and quickness. Having Floyd lining up on the opposite side of him should help open up some holes for the dynamic Tate as defenses try to account for the growing number of weapons at Clausen’s disposal.

Bottom line is that if Charlie Weis wants to revive his passing attack, Clausen is going to be looking for Tate early and often. Once the ND hype machine kicks in gear, expect Tate to begin to garner All-America talk.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

May 22, 2009

Today’s news that Notre Dame is exploring the possibility of scheduling a game at the plush new Yankee Stadium got Homerism to thinking.

Media reports had the Fightin’ Irish targeting Army as its opponent for the first-ever football game at the House That Jeter Built in 2013. But OU is currently scheduled to play ND in South Bend that same year. Why not move the game to the Big Apple?
Homerism would go for that in a New York minute.

You’re Irreplaceable

May 20, 2009

Preseason prognosticating requires us to make our predictions under the ceteris paribus assumption. So, there’s nothing like a little–or really big–wrench in the works to throw things out of kilter. You know what I mean: injuries, suspensions, scandals, etc. 

For almost any contender, the loss of just one cog in the machine can dash national championship hope, even if it’s just for one quarter of one game. Since we can’t foresee a star quarterback being thrown off the team or a playmaking linebacker blowing out his ACL, how about a little risk management? Below are the most indispensable players in college football for 2009.

Just ask the Sooners how jarring the loss of one key player can be. When MLB Ryan Reynolds went down with a season-ending knee injury early in the second half of the 2008 Red River Shootout, the Texas offense took control of the game. OU spent the rest of the season trying to plug that hole, with varying degrees of success.
It seems obvious that a Heisman-winning quarterback would be a major loss for a title contender. Losing Bradford poses a particularly scary scenario for OU coach Bob Stoops, though. OU’s backup signal callers consist of redshirt freshman Landry Jones and early enrollee Drew Allen. Both may turn out to be players, but neither is ready to take the Sooners to the promised land. Without Bradford, OU is the third-best team in the Big 12 South.
Arkansas transfer Williams brought a flair for the big play to USC’s offense in 2008, emerging as the Trojans’ top receiver early in the season. He averaged 15 yards per catch and scored 9 touchdowns on the season, including a stellar Rose Bowl against Penn State’s highly regarded defense: 10 catches, 162 yards and a TD.
Aside from Williams, USC’s receiving corp is long on talent but much shorter on proven producers. Junior wideout Ronald Johnson came on strong last season, but he doesn’t appear to be the kind of go-to guy Williams is. Not to mention, a trusted security blanket like the rangy Williams should help bring along a green quarterback.
On a roster with loads of talent, Williams is as close to irreplaceable as you’ll find in Troy.
A pass rusher may seem like an odd choice for Texas’ most irreplaceable piece, seeing as QB Colt McCoy executes the Longhorn offense so well. McCoy has super stud … backing him up, though.
Kindle, meanwhile, is expected to replace the departed Brian Orakpo as UT’s terror off the edge. In a pass-heavy conference like the Big 12, the ability to pressure the quarterback is paramount to a defense’s success. Without Kindle, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp would be counting on a gaggle of unproven youngsters to bring the heat.
Thought I’d say Tim Tebow for Florida, right? He’s an outstanding football player. But what would happen if Tebow went down with an injury before the season? Well, there’s talented backup John Brantley waiting in the wings. There would be a drop-off.
But would it be the same as if Spikes went down. He’s like a quarterback for the Gator D, and he’s a tackling machine. Could Florida’s second-stringers fill in for Spikes with the same aplomb as Tebow’s understudy? I’m skeptical.

Doc S on OU’s Title Chances

May 19, 2009

Always astute blogger Dr. Saturday offers his take on the Sooners’ title hopes in 2009. Homerism has some quibbles with his assessment of OU’s offensive line, but I’ll discuss that in greater depth later this summer.

Grave Dancing

May 16, 2009

I’m very surprised this was printed today. Hopefully, the Lawrence Journal-World makes sure to run a similar anecdote about this dude when he meets his maker.