Monday, September 19, 2011
Another weekend of action in college football and the NFL left us with a little bit more money in our pockets but few answers about the long-term success of any of the teams involved.
--PYB would be remiss if we didn't kick off the weekend recap by lauding Blaine Gabbert's debut in New York. The Jaguars' future did his best to re-create the creepy Moto-X wannabe look that David Carr unveiled on league sidelines a couple years back. Long hair. Flat-brimmed hat. Stoic look on the sidelines.
That was, of course, until Luke McCown threw four interceptions. Jack del Rio called Gabbert's name, and the former Missouri QB didn't disappoint by picking up right where he left of in college with a prodigious 5/6, 52-yard showing. Perhaps the NFL agrees with Gabbert, as his yards per attempt were near nine, as opposed to the six yards in Columbia. We can't wait for his first start, when the other team actually is playing its first string. But if the New York Post didn't mention Gabbert, did his debut really happen?
--ESPN started its Sunday OTL coverage by asking why Tim Tebow is such a 'polarizing' figure. Why do so many hate him, they asked? We venture to guess that it's because the Devils themselves at ESPN jammed him down our collective throats for four years while he was at Florida and continued to do so as he made his way to the NFL. And continue to do so now....even though he is his team's third-string QB and played some snaps at wide receiver yesterday.
--Joe Flacco still sucks. How many years do we have to hear about his "cannon arm" and that he can make "all the throws"? The Ravens were dominated for four quarters by Tennessee, and Flacco completed 15/32 for less than 200 yards and two INTs. Matt Hasselbeck was the best QB in Nashville yesterday by a landslide.
Great to give back the divisional lead they earned over Pittsburgh in Week One the very next week. Remember, once Baltimore blows its second game against the hated Steelers, it's hello Wild Card weekend. And we'll have to watch Flacco's stupid-looking, "I don't know what happened" face the whole time...
--Nice debut for Roy Helu in Washington's win over Arizona. Averaged 7.4 yards on 10 carries and gained more than 100 total yards. What could have been in Lincoln had they fed this talented back and had a real offensive line and offensive coordinator to highlight his attributes?
Unfortunately, fellow first-year Redskin Dejon Gomes went out with an injury after making one tackle. Niles Paul -- surprisingly absent from the box score.
As for Saturday:
--Andrew Luck annihilated Arizona late-night in Tucson. PYB is glad we've wasted three weeks wondering if Stanford had the same spread-covering magic they had last season. After two bottle blastings in two weeks, the clock on Mike Stoops has to be ticking louder than ever.
--Michigan State is still Michigan State. They got run off the field by a bad Notre Dame team, still had chances to win, and pissed those away too.
--Florida State was overrated to begin with.....and if they're without EJ Manuel for any length of time....cha-ching on our season unders bet of 9.5.
--Nebraska beat Washington 51-38, but proved little. It was nice to see some offensive firepower, but we saw how much putting 50+ up against a middle-of-the-pack Pac 12 team meant last season. Nothing, in the grand scheme. The offensive line showed at least a pulse...will it strengthen in upcoming weeks or fail to appear at crucial times like the last few seasons?
--Taylor Martinez went out of his way to protect the football. So much so that he now embarrassingly avoids contact by dropping to his knees faster than a 200-pound sorority chick at the Brass Rail does for a walk-on football player. Is this seriously the new plan? The last thing he needed was another way to make him look more awkward and timid. Shying away from a hit that badly is just shameful. It does, however, win him the Philip Bland Award for looking like he took a sniper bullet JFK-Style as he crumbles to the ground--dead before impact on the turf.
--The receiving corps looked good, even though Martinez was just 9/20 after the game's first play--an option pass completed deep to Kenny Bell. Brandon Kinnie didn't play much. Not sure how he gets benched for a couple bad games when Niles Paul got four years of free passes during his god-awful tenure? We'll see if the receivers can get open against better teams and if Martinez can find them.
--PYB is reserving any further analysis of the defense until Alfonzo Dennard plays. One good sign was that Sean Fisher and Justin Blatchford played relatively sparingly. Hopefully, this means the coaches realized neither can play and will give their reps to players with potential. Now, just need Austin Cassidy to weed himself out. He did a good job of that again Saturday, adding some icing to the cake by dropping an easy interception. If the Blackshirts aren't any better at stopping offenses when Dennard returns, pencil in another rocky finish for 2011.
Special teams contributed several game-changing plays: both good and bad ones. The fact that almost every player on the NU roster shows flashes of brilliance followed shortly by flashes of ineptitude points not only to the team's youth but also to some glaring coaching holes. These are holes one might look past for a coach making $775k or so. For one making more than $3 million, the continued costly gaffes are unacceptable. They're the difference between being a divisional conference champion or playing in a BCS bowl. For the rest of the Big 10, playing in the Capital One Bowl with a visit to the Rose every 10 years may be enough. At Nebraska, it's not.
Success is in the details.