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Football Thoughts the Week of October 28

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on November 6, 2019

I watched the Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers game. The 49ers are excellent this season, but surprisingly, Arizona gave them a good game, before losing 23-20. I say surprisingly, because the Cardinals are a truly terrible team, but they played hard and sometimes well, in this game.

Though there is controversy about it, which there shouldn’t be, the Cardinals have their quarterback in Kyler Murray, if they can keep him alive. But he won’t be for long if they don’t get a line to protect him. Murray had defenders in his face on almost every play almost before he could take the snap. The Cardinal offensive line is, how do I say this delicately? Porous? Nonexistent? Stinks on ice? That’s it.

The Cardinals play with no discipline whatsoever, which is a coaching problem. I had the sound turned down, so I can’t be positively sure of this, but I think they had two series where every play resulted in a penalty – holding or false start. It was like that movie Groundhog’s Day. Run a play, get a penalty, move back, start over.

On this night, the head coach coached the Cardinals out of a possible win with poor calls, including calling time out just as his defense stopped a 4th and goal attempt. This gave the 49ers another chance, which they cashed in for a touchdown. The Cardinals, sorry as they are, deserve better. Kingsbury is not an NFL caliber coach. Hell, he wasn’t even a good college level coach, and here he is coaching the Cardinals, who, until they get a new coach and an offensive line, among other things, isn’t going to be NFL caliber either.

Apropos of nothing, the worst NFL game I ever saw was between the Cardinals and the 49ers several years ago. It was unimaginably bad play by both teams.

The Cleveland Browns in their loss to the Denver Broncos, in a game they might have won, were almost a mirror image of the Cardinals, except that Baker Mayfield isn’t playing as well as Murray right now. He’s being even more poorly coached. The head coach and offensive coordinator for Cleveland are a worse combination than the Cardinals’ comparable duo. They both should go at the end of the season, but now would be better, before they ruin their quarterback. Kitchens was a disastrous decision, which speaks to the caliber of the of the entire organization. The offensive line could be replaced with cardboard cutouts and do as well. Mayfield has two outstanding receivers. He should pass to one of the other of them on every passing play. Forget the other receivers. Put the ball in the hands of your best players. Cleveland has good offensive players, but their head coach hasn’t a clue how to use them.

I am sick to death of my Dallas Cowboys. It’s hard to pull for such a bunch of underachievers. They have loads of talent, but sometimes play like bums. They let the woeful New York Giants hang around until the last quarter before pulling away, which is not only dangerous, but inexcusable for a team as good as Dallas, on paper. And their loss to the New York Jets earlier was even worse. How could this team play like that and somebody not get fired? Bill Belichick would have fired some of them at halftime.

I am beginning to think that those who consider Dak Prescott a middle of the pack NFL quarterback may be right, though I have rated him in the top third or even higher in the past. He had a lot of errant throws in the Giants game, and his three most successful passes in terms of yards and points were all thrown low and had to be scooped up near the ground by the receivers. (Dak did have one perfectly place ball to Amari Cooper that which went for a touchdown, which is what is likely to happen when you hit a good receiver in stride.)

This is all to do with coaching. The Cowboys don’t have any. And it goes deeper than just the head coach, though it starts there. Any competent head coach would clean out the cupboard. They’re all contaminated from working in that unprofessional environment. I wouldn’t keep a single one of them.

The deterioration of refereeing is even worse than I have been saying previously. Judging by the Cowboys game, the refs can’t even tell the difference between false starts and encroachment anymore. Worse, against Dallas, #71 started three fights and the refs flagged a Cowboy after each one.

One more rant and then I’m done. I think there should be a third passing category in addition to complete or incomplete, which is Drops, as when a quarterback gets the ball to a catchable place and the receiver doesn’t come up with it. I’m sure coaches consider drops when they evaluate receivers. We should too.

Football thoughts 101 – #1

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on October 31, 2019

The refereeing of NFL games has been terrible this season (as it has been for a while), so bad it threatens the integrity of the game and the possible loss of fan support. I know it, you know it, every football fan knows it.

There are just too many penalties, and it takes too long to adjudicate them. If you have so many penalties, it is a strong indication that there are too many rules, or the rules are too complicated.  Stoppages for review are far too numerous and can run longer than a full-length movie. They destroy the flow of the game.

Fortunately for the NFL, I know why this is happening and how to fix it, both of which I will explain below.

The primary responsibility lies with the Competition Committee, for creating too many rules that require judgement and then putting their interpretation into the hands of referees whose judgement has been frayed by instant replay, because the refs know they don’t have to be right because they are being monitored, and they don’t care as much as they used to, because they resent being monitored. The monitors don’t like it much either, which is one reason why they rarely overturn calls. The other is that the refs usually get it right.

Here are some solutions:

First, eliminate instant replay. Refs get most calls right anyway. Add up the refs’ calls that are unchallenged, those challenges that are confirmed or let “stand,” and you will see that replays take up an enormous amount of time for a very tiny number of plays. Besides, if refs know there is no instant replay official watching over their shoulder, they will be even more diligent in their calls.

I know instant replay reviews are popular with some, and I’m going to be called a Luddite for suggesting they be dropped, but the technology needn’t be applied just because it exists. These replays slow the game and are unnecessary. Some sports, like baseball, may be a game of inches, but football is a game of yards. Obsessing too much over an inch is a waste of time.

That said, and to show I’m not completely dismissive of instant replay technology, there should be one official watching who has the authority to stop the game for an egregiously bad call. To qualify as egregious, a call would have to be like the one that screwed the Saints out of the Super Bowl last year. That one should have been overturned if the Commissioner had to call down to the field himself. The fact that it wasn’t shows just how bad the current protocol is.

Second, the NFL is obsessed with protecting players from concussion. (Actually, that’s BS. With the exception of some quarterbacks, the NFL doesn’t give a damn about players’ concussions; it cares about its image, or it would have addressed this issue long ago.) So, every time there is a hit to the head, the game is stopped, and time comes to a numbing halt while refs consider the factual, philosophical, political and religious implications of the penalty. And the worst of it is that despite all this, the rule is irregularly applied, creating the impression, and the fact of injustice.

I care about concussions, but also about keeping the game flowing. Therefore, the NFL should change the game to be played below the neck. No interpretation; above the neck or below. Any hit above the neck is a penalty, and the offending player is ejected. No reviews, no wasted time.

Third, eliminate kick-off and punt returns. By this I mean, any kick-off that is not into the end zone must be fair caught and the ball placed on the 25-yard line or where it is caught, whichever is closer to midfield. Punts must be fair caught if not kicked or allowed to roll into the end zone and placed where they are caught, or on the 25-yard line if they go into the end zone.

I know, I know. This will eliminate some exciting run backs, but let’s face it, there is a block in the back penalty on almost every kick. It’s more likely the ball will be moved back nearer your own goal line than returned for a touchdown, and these ubiquitous penalties hinder the game. Statistically, teams are a lot better off if they just take the fair catch, and the game will be speeded up. The NFL has been trying to discourage runbacks with middling rule changes. Let’s go all the way.

Frankly, I’m surprised coaches haven’t obviated this problem themselves. If I were a coach, I would tell every player on every punt to stand still and let the receiver fair catch the ball. And, I would tell receivers never to run a ball out of the end zone, and for every blocker not to do so. The odds favor it.

Next game you watch, use a stopwatch and estimate how much time would be saved if these rules were enacted. You will be amazed.

College Football First Week – 2019

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 2, 2019

The first week of college football, and the following two weeks to a lesser degree, are characterized by contests resembling those between lions and Christians. That is, major college programs book smaller schools for low risk, non-conference warmups. The small schools get ravaged, but they also get a large paycheck. That said, there are usually some unexpectedly close calls and the occasional upset.

This week was typical, but a little more exciting. There were more close calls, notably among mid-tier Big XII and SEC schools, and a couple more upsets than usual, such as Georgia State’s “stunning upset” of Tennessee.

Through Saturday, I only watched two games from start to finish. One was Oregon (11) v. Auburn (16), and it was exciting. Auburn won the game 27-21 in the last nine seconds, which was the only nine seconds it had the lead the entire game. But Auburn didn’t cover the spread, and the total points were under.

Auburn was quarterbacked by a true freshman, and Oregon by a veteran, talented and popular one. I like the Oregon kid; he’s exceptional in many ways, not just football. But since the replay officials at Eugene cheated OU out of a win there a few years ago, I was pulling for Auburn, with which I have no connection whatsoever.

If you think I hold a football grudge too long, consider that I still despise Notre Dame for ending OU’s NCAA record winning streak, and that was in 1957, before I even went to OU, or even lived there. If Notre Dame never wins another football game, it will be too soon for me. Besides, ND is chronically overrated by the sports media. So there.

The other game I watched throughout was Cincinnati v. UCLA, because OU plays UCLA in LA this season (I hope to attend this game), and I wanted to see how they looked. I am happy to report that they looked dreadful. Cincinnati won the game 24-14 and dominated more thoroughly than the score indicates.

I was pleased with my beloved Oklahoma Sooners’ opening game win against Houston, 49-31. Here are my takeaways, in order of priority.

  1. The defense was visibly, and statistically, much better than it has been in recent years, but as the commentators correctly observed, it still has a way to go. In fact, from the last five minutes of the third quarter to the end of the game, they resembled those dreadful defenses of the last few years. Nevertheless, it is clear they are improved, and have a much better defensive mindset. I am encouraged.
  2. My worries about the offensive line are somewhat assuaged. It was totally revamped from last year; only one starter returns. It has lots of talent, but one always worries about the lack of experience in such situations. I think they can get there. They blew some big holes in Houston’s defense.
  3. Jalen Hurts is as advertised, and he insinuated himself into the Heisman conversation. As improbable as it seems, it is conceivable that OU could have a third consecutive winner of the trophy, though I can’t imagine voters doing that.
  4. As good a coach as Houston’s Dana Holgorsen is, Lincoln Riley is that much better. Riley has beaten Holgorsen eight straight times now.  

My favorite sports show other than actual football games, is Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.  The two principles are Skip Bayless, renowned sports journalist and author, and Shannon Sharpe, Hall of Fame tight end.

Bayless, like me, attended Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City, lived and worked in Dallas for years, and is a diehard fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Oklahoma. I followed his writing in the Dallas papers for years. The show puts a lot of emphasis on those two teams and I love it.

Sharpe’s aphorisms, colloquialisms and homespun humor are very entertaining. He obviously knows football and brings some true insight and personal experiences to the discussions. He’s flat funny.

But perhaps my favorite thing about the show is that in many of their “debates,” both are right. Both make valid, substantiated points, and I get to decide. As Lil Wayne’s show introduction song “No Mercy” says, “No, I embrace debate. I don’t make mistakes; I just make my case.”

BTW, Bayless predicts the Zeke Elliott holdout will get resolved with a new, big contract for Zeke today or Tuesday. We’ll see.

Football Thoughts – The Playoffs

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on February 2, 2019

The Dallas Cowboys lost their playoff game to the Los Angeles Rams ignominiously. They were beaten badly by a better team, and certainly by a much better coach. The Rams covered the spread by only one point, but anyone who saw this game knows that the Cowboys were never going to win it, which was apparent from the first snap.

The Cowboys were a fraud all season. Jerry Jones stood pat in the off-season, and when the same old team took the field, their record for the first half of the season was a dismal 3-5. Their vaunted offensive line suffered serious injury and illness damage, which didn’t help.

Then, the Cowboys fell into two pieces of good luck, which obscured their true level of capability. First, Jones, after having done nothing to improve the team in the offseason, was shamed into trading for receiver Amari Cooper. There was some risk in this trade, but the Cowboys hit a jackpot with Cooper; he turned out to be well worth the trade.

Next, the Cowboys played a string of teams who were having a very down year, and/or were devastated by injuries, which goosed their record. (The win over the Seahawks in the first playoff game, like the inexplicable win over New Orleans in the regular season, remain outlier mysteries.) So, the Cowboy’s season is over in its typical failing fashion.

Of course, my season ended in disappointment when the Cowboys won its two games previous to being stomped by the Rams, because it meant that Jerry Jones would not have to fire his mediocre coaching staff. So, he kept the head coach, fired one guy and elevated a current staff member to offensive coordinator, perpetuating mediocrity via incest.

The Cowboys have no hope of rising above mediocrity until they get a new head coach, if they can find one willing to work for Jerry. Jones seems content with all this, so everybody wins, except the fans.

The Kansas City Chiefs wiped up the floor with the Indianapolis Colts, and looked good on both sides of the ball doing it. The game was a rout. I have rarely seen a team as unprepared for a playoff game as were the Colts for theirs.

New England can be beaten and will be beaten someday. But until that happens, I will always favor them in any game. The Patriots dispatched the San Diego Chargers with ease. There is something about the Chargers that is just off somehow. They have good players and show flashes, but just don’t seem to be able to win when it counts.

The most competitive playoff game, between Philadelphia and New Orleans, saw the Saints rise to the occasion and justify their first seed status after a couple of lackluster games late in the season.

Early in the season, I picked the Rams and Chiefs to meet in the Super Bowl. (Making a pick before the season even starts is fruitless. You have to see the teams play a game or two before you can get a sense of their potential.) So, by the division championship games, both my picks were still in the hunt.

Given the match-ups, I had picked the Chiefs, but I expected the Patriots to win, and they did. Likewise, I had picked the Rams, but I expected New Orleans to win, and they would have if not for the most egregious screw-up in NFL playoff history. It seems the NFL couldn’t imagine such an egregious screw-up, so they had made no provision for it. The result of the theft of the game from New Orleans tainted the championships and therefore the Super Bowl.  I’ll be watching the commercials, but the game has no legitimacy to me.

I agree with Commissioner Goodell that he can’t stop the presses now and schedule a make-up game. But what he should have done, and could have done, is get on the phone, stopped the game immediately after the screw-up and overturn the terrible, game changing, true winner ruining non-call.

So, I like New England. fff

Football Thoughts – Bowl Season and Playoffs

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 3, 2019

I’ve watched a lot of football recently, but I was most interested in the two semi-final games of the BCS Championship, of course. Both went about as Vegas predicted. Clemson wiped up the floor with Notre Dame and Alabama beat Oklahoma, though the Tide couldn’t cover the spread against OU.

It was only a matter of time, having the worst defense in football, that it would cost us a game. Until Alabama, we had been able to outscore other teams however many points they managed to run up on our wretched defense. OU had scored 28 or more points in every game this season, and they scored 34 against Alabama, but that wasn’t enough to beat the Tide. They were too good.

In my view, OU squandered two likely national championships, given its amazing offenses, due to its inconceivably bad defenses.  My fear now is that bad defenses will plague us for a while longer, even when we get a new, better defensive coordinator, because it takes years to overcome a reputation for terrible defense like we’ve created, for what good defensive player recruit will want to come to a school where they may worry they won’t be developed? A pox on OU for not firing Mike Stoops three years ago. I know why we didn’t, but still.

The Cowboys won a meaningless game against the woeful New York Giants with a last minute, improbable touchdown. Dallas sat Zeke Elliott and rested two banged up starting linemen. (Dak Prescott played the entire game, however, as did Eli Manning for the Giants.) So, on the surface it was a credible win for the Cowboys in those circumstances…except that: 1) the Giants are a terrible team this year, and 2) also sitting out for New York was Odell Beckham. If he had played, the Giants likely would have won the game.

That’s the thing with Dallas. The NFC East is way down this year, so Dallas won a lot of games against woeful teams, and/or teams that suffered season devastating injuries (the Washington Redskins lost their starting quarterback, perhaps forever, with a badly broken leg), and just barely managed to win them. (The one notable, and to me still inexplicable, exception is Dallas’ win over the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees. Can’t deny that one.)

The Cowboys next game will be against a better team – the Seattle Seahawks (Seattle beat the Chiefs, for crying out loud, and already beat the Cowboys in the regular season). Dallas has enough good players now, especially if their banged up offensive linemen are healthier from rest, to compete with Seattle, but I have no confidence they have the coaching staff to do it.

I expect Dallas to have another one and done playoffs, and I hope I’m right, because if I am wrong, Jerry Jones might keep Jason Garrett as head coach. But if Jerry keeps interfering with his coaches, even changing coaches won’t help, because, like President Trump, Jones will have difficulty finding a good coach willing to work for him.

I thought the best bowl game was between Washington State and Iowa State, a Big XII team, which Wazzu won 28-26. The Cyclones gave a good accounting of themselves, and I expect them to continue improving.

I was glad to see Texas beat Georgia. Texas played well, though it was obvious that Georgia, expecting to be in the playoffs, didn’t really want to be there and were lackluster. The game reminded me of the one OU won against Alabama, when Alabama, for the same reason, clearly didn’t have its head in the game. But a win is a win, and Texas is coming back.

Florida pounded Michigan in the Rose Bowl, showing how weak is the Big Ten these days, and how overrated the Wolverines turned out to be.

Oklahoma State beat Missouri, and a good Kentucky team, coached by Mark Stoops, the youngest of the Stoops brothers, I think, beat Penn State, a chronically overrated Big Ten school.

LSU beat UCF in a pretty good game 40-32. I was cheering for UCF, coached by former OU quarterback Josh Heupel, who won our last National Championship in 2000. Like his mentor Mike Leach, now head coach at Washington State, for Heupel, it’s all about offense. They, like Oklahoma, both need to find a better defensive coach somewhere. (Note: Heupel’s predecessor, Scott Frost, left UCF to be head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. He must be an idiot.

In the Redbox (sounds like a venereal disease doesn’t it?) Bowl, Oregon beat Michigan State (another Big Ten loser) 7-6, the lowest bowl game score since near the beginning of the last century. They should call it the Impotence Bowl instead and be done with it.

So far, there are already eight coaching vacancies in the NFL (a euphemism for firings), not counting Jason Garrett, for whom I have high hopes of being fired. The toughest of these vacancies to fill, and the worst team to inherit, is the Arizona Cardinals. Not only do they have a chronically incompetent organization, but said organization fired a competent coach after one year without giving him a chance. Who would want to coach there?

The most desirable vacancy is the Cleveland Browns. They have an improving organization, an improving team and good young quarterback in Baker Mayfield. How much is Cleveland going to be willing to offer Lincoln Riley? It may turn out to be an offer Riley can’t refuse, but he would be crazy to take it.

Football Thoughts – weekend of 12-1-18

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on December 2, 2018

Let’s start with the pro games for a change, since Dallas played Thursday night. I was as wrong as can be about the Dallas v. New Orleans game. I never dreamed the Cowboys would beat the Saints.  

Dallas’ defense played really well. The offense played really ordinary. The Saints played really awful. But, hey, the Cowboys won. Does this mean they will be 9-7…or better? We’ll see.

But I was right about my beloved Sooners. They beat Texas in the Big XII Championship game, as I expected. The defense played a little better than previously, with an interception and a safety. I particularly enjoyed the safety. But OU was always going to score if and when they needed to. Texas can enjoy the Sugar Bowl or someplace, and I hope they win.

I was also right that if OU won and the other favorites did also, that OU would make the playoffs. I heard a bunch of silly talk last night after all the games were completed about Georgia or Ohio State getting in instead of OU, but I knew that was nonsense. There was no way OSU was going to leap over OU, and the Georgia scenario was ludicrous on its face. I’ll tell you why.

Georgia played probably the best they have played all year against Alabama, and scored 28 points to Alabama’s 35. If those two teams were to play again, do you think Georgia would score more than 28 points? No way in hell. But do you think OU could score more than 35 points against Alabama? Possibly. I think the committee wanted to see if OU could succeed where others have not. We shall see.

Football Thoughts – Thanksgiving Weekend

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on November 27, 2018

I wrote a terrific recap of relevant football thoughts about last weekend’s games, but my computer lost it and I was too lazy to reproduce it, so I published nothing.

But one of the points I would have made had I been able to publish is that I thought the needle pointed to an 8-8 season for the Dallas Cowboys, up from 7-9, since Washington had lost its quarterback for the season, just before the Redskins play Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

Any team who plays Dallas on Thanksgiving is already at a disadvantage, thanks to Tex Schramm’s genius. The opponent has a short week before having to travel to Dallas, leaving less time to prepare and practice for the game. Add in having to bring a back-up quarterback to starting status, and the cards were stacked badly against Washington in Dallas, a game I think Washington otherwise would have won.

So, the Cowboys won the game, though no one who saw it can rationally doubt that the Redskins would have won if Alex Smith had been able to start at quarterback.

So, I now see the Cowboys posting another mediocre 8-8 season and missing the playoffs, again. I can see them beating Tampa Bay and New York Giants, but that’s it for this season.

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners beat West Virginia on the road rather more handily in my view than the score suggested. This sets up a rematch with Texas in the Big XII Championship game. If OU wins that one, far from a foregone conclusion, since Texas has gotten better and our defense has gotten worse, we may or may not get into the playoffs.

The West Virginia game proved two things: OU’s defense is a flailing, failing disaster. I have never seen a worse one on a Sooner team, and they seem to be regressing each week. However, it must be said that, to their credit, they actually scored two defensive touchdowns off West Virginia fumbles, and made an important interception near the end of the game. But, they still stink on ice.

The second thing proven is that it doesn’t matter how bad the defense is; OU can outscore anybody. I hope the selection committee can figure that out.

I watched the Michigan at Ohio State game. I figured it was the only game where we were likely to get some help getting into the playoffs. I expected OSU to beat Michigan, again, and they did, taking #4 Michigan out of the picture.

I never expected USC to beat Notre Dame, and of course they didn’t. They gave ND a strong tussle for a while, but lost the game due to their almost unimaginable ineptitude, which has been on display all season. But at least USC, by giving Notre Dame a close game, pointed out how overrated Notre Dame is, since USC is truly terrible this year. Still, Notre Dame will get into the playoffs. They’re always overrated and it doesn’t seem to matter to anybody.

So, this leaves only one team standing between OU and the playoffs, other than the aforementioned Texas Longhorns, and that’s Georgia. If OU wins out and Alabama beats Georgia, we should be in. Interestingly, however, if Georgia upsets Alabama, the top four teams might remain the same, with Alabama dropping only to #4, with the result the four current playoff teams will remain unchanged. We shall have to wait and see.

Football Thoughts – Week of 11/10

Posted in Sports - football, mostly, Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 13, 2018

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners won a shootout – 48 to 47 – against a mediocre Oklahoma Aggies team that ranks eighth out of the 10 teams in the Big XII. Don’t ask.

We were damned lucky to win that game. The Aggies cut through our defense like a hot knife through butter. The game ended with the Aggies going for a two-point conversion that would have won the game for them. It took a good defensive stop, but also a poor offensive pass or the play might have succeeded.

That said, we almost always we always do find a way to beat the Oklahoma Aggies, even when they have had much, much better teams than this one. The Aggies used to win one about once a generation. They’ve improved. Now it’s about once in a little more than a decade. It must drive them crazy.

Oklahoma’s defense is absolutely terrible, statistically one of the very worst in the NCAA. I have never seen such a disparity between the excellence of an offense and the impotence of a defense on the same team.

Our defense is so bad that it is impossible to see how OU can move up in the rankings, let alone reach the playoff bracket, even if we win out, which is no foregone conclusion, as we still have to play West Virginia, a very good team, perhaps twice.

By not firing Stoops and upgrading our defensive staff years ago, as was obviously needed, we are squandering a truly excellent offensive year. (Come back, Brent Venables. All is forgiven.)

Well, son of a bitch. How ‘bout them Cowboys! They beat the Philadelphia Iggles on the road Sunday night. They played with spirit. It must have dawned on the coaches and players that everyone was playing for their job that night. Jerry Jones is obviously feeling the sting of his competence being criticized universally.

That said, this still looks like a 7 and 9 team to me. I can see them winning over the Buccaneers and the Falcons, the teams at the bottom of the NFC North. Anything more than that would be gravy. And if they do eek out another game somewhere, the Cowboys will only be adding another link to their chain of mediocre 8-8 seasons, which I don’t think Dallas’ management can stand any more.

Please note that Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three touchdowns and won a third game for Cleveland. Mayfield, as every OU fan knows well, is the goods. He will win games for Cleveland on his own, and inspire his mediocre team to play better. Now all Cleveland has to do is get some decent players around him, which is not the case at present, to say the least.

I will be watching with interest when undefeated University of Central Florida (UCF) plays Cincinnati (9-1) this weekend. The game will be easy to find. It will be featured on College Game Day and televised nationally. UCF coach Josh Heupel is already being interviewed on national sports shows.

Football thoughts – 10-23-18

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on October 23, 2018

I felt pretty good about my beloved Oklahoma Sooners’ play this weekend. They stomped TCU 52 to 27, and for three and a half quarters, looked good doing it. They had an inexplicable brain freeze for a little while, during which they couldn’t hit the floor with their hat and let TCU back in the game a little. But, they recovered and pulled away nicely. I think this team might be able to “hang a half a hundred” on anybody, which they may need to, given their still suspect defense.

Speaking of which, the defense showed some spark after what had to be done was done. They played with spirit and some effect. Playoff voters will want to see better defense from OU, and the Sooners may be able to provide it if they continue to improve from here.

The secondary got beat on some deep throws, but at least the players were in position to defend. You are going to lose some of those match ups in this conference. Every team has tall, capable receivers.

Unfortunately, OU isn’t going to have an easy time climbing back into playoff contention, setting aside that they will have to win out, because their opponents aren’t highly ranked. West Virginia, at #13, is the only other ranked team in the top 25, besides Texas, who sits above OU at #6, improbably. That doesn’t mean OU isn’t looking at some more tough games, and they will have to win them all.

But, If OU wins out, and meets Texas in the Conference Championship game and wins, which I would expect in a rematch, they may still have a shot at the playoffs.

I enjoyed two other college games this weekend. #25 Washington State upset #12 Oregon. Somewhere, Mike Leach stumbled onto a defensive coordinator and let him have some practice time with the team. It was the best defense I’ve seen from Wazzu since, well, ever.

And if you haven’t been paying attention, another Bob Stoops/Mike Leach product – Josh Heupel – is head coach of the University of Central Florida, which went undefeated last year, is undefeated this year, and ranked #10 in the big boy polls. I still don’t think they can get into the playoffs, due to their strength of schedule. Heupel is going to get some offers soon.

Don’t let the close score – 20 to 17 – or the exciting ending of Dallas’ loss to Washington fool you. The Cowboys were never really in the game and the offense stank on ice. As Tom Landry said, hold the opponent to 17 points and he will win the game.

The Cowboys’ plan this season was, or should have been, to run the ball with its excellent line and running back, and then throw over a defense sucked in to stop the run. Dallas lost one important player from its “vaunted” offensive line and the whole thing has fallen apart.

Dallas couldn’t run the ball against Washington, who did indeed sell out to stop the run with eight men on the line, and when they did, Dallas couldn’t throw over a potentially vulnerable defensive backfield. Mediocrity is Jason Garrett’s middle name, and I think we are looking at another 8-8 season.

When Jerry Jones stood almost pat in the off season, he all but guaranteed the same result as last year, and I think he’s going to get it.

Dallas acquired Amari Cooper in a desperate attempt to improve the passing game, but it may be too little too late, and besides, it is an expensive gamble…a first round draft choice. Dallas fans are getting impatient, and I think Jerry finally senses it.

If the Cowboys turn it around with Cooper, it will be a great deal, but if Dallas has another no playoff season, which seems more likely, it will have been a very bad one indeed.

Jones could have done better with his money and draft picks in the off season, but he chose to hold on to both, and here we are.

Football thoughts the weekend of October 6

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on October 9, 2018

Boy, what a lousy weekend for my favorite college and professional football teams. Both were exposed for what they are: each has a terrible coach.

Texas was lucky. They had the good fortune to play a lot better than Oklahoma, with an improved but hardly exceptional team. Although the game was exciting to watch and ended up seemingly close, Oklahoma was never going to win that game, and if they had, they wouldn’t have deserved to.

Oklahoma’s defense was unconscionably terrible. What happened to Mike Stoops should have happened at least two years ago. As it is, Oklahoma has squandered two years of outstanding offensive football talent with one of the worst defenses in college football.

OU gave up more than 500 yards against Texas, which averages out to about 6.8 yards per snap. Texas didn’t punt until the 3rd quarter, but hey, if you’re making 6.8 yards a play, why would you need to? Remember when OU coach Barry Switzer used to say OU would “hang a half a hundred on ‘em?” Well, Texas hung almost half a hundred (48 points) on the Sooners. 

To be clear, OU’s offense, the late, desperate rally notwithstanding, did not distinguish itself either. Of all the people I would not have expected to cave under the pressure of the Cotton Bowl crowd, Tyler Murray came down to earth, and was another reason OU lost.

OU had three turnovers, and Texas had none. Ordinarily, that would doom a team right there. But there are turnovers and critical turnovers, and Murray had two of the latter. He threw a pass to an open receiver that would have been a touchdown had he not thrown it short and into the hands of a Texas defensive back. Later, he fumbled close to the Texas goal line. You simply can’t win like that.

I don’t know exactly what is going to happen to these two teams the rest of the season, but I don’t think either one of them is finished losing.

The Houston Texans are a better football team than Dallas, which obscured the Cowboy’s fatal flaw in a close game. Dallas’ defense has improved, but it was painfully obvious that Houston’s defensive line is better. Clowney and Watts are both beasts. And, Houston has a primo pass receiver, which Dallas does not possess.

Dallas played gamely, but without a coherent offensive strategy, and when it came time for head coach Jason Garrett to walk on water in overtime, Garrett passed water instead. Dallas is on its way to yet another 8-8 range season, and it will be thus until Dallas gets a coach other than Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett.