From contenders to ... hey, where'd they go?
Both Minnesota and Purdue got off to great starts this season, and both were Big Ten contenders just a few weeks ago. But Minnesota lost a heartbreaker to Michigan, and Purdue lost one to Wisconsin. Neither team has been the same since then. Both teams hit their respective low points this week, losing to lower-tier Big Ten schools. Minnesota put forth another lame road performance in a loss to Indiana, while Purdue managed just 10 points against Northwestern. Both teams now have three losses ... both teams will probably be out of the new polls.
There was plenty of action today--Miami and FSU went down; Oklahoma and Michigan were pushed to the brink. I've got to send my condolences out to Michigan State fans--up 17 in the fourth quarter, they had to have been assuming they had the W. When Michigan came up with the onside kick after they had closed the gap to 13-27, MSU fans probably started to get that "oh no, please don't let this happen" feeling in their stomachs. I've been there. The Spartans ended up losing in three overtimes. Ouch.
Florida State has been horrid the last two weeks. The fell down 14-3 at Wake Forest before coming back to win that one, and today they managed to revive Maryland's pathetic offense. Aside from a late Rix TD pass, the only touchdown the Noles managed was scored by the defense. Maryland really shut them down. I hope they're still slumping when they get to Raleigh.
Baylor knocked off Texas A&M 35-34 in an overtime shocker. After aTm scored in their first possession of OT, the Bears answered. Instead of kicking the XP, they went for two and the win, and they got it. Celebrate while you can, Bears. That 6-63 record against Big XII foes suggests you won't have any more celebrations this season...
As an aside, can someone explain to me why Guy Morriss left Kentucky for Baylor? I realize that UK was about to be put on probation, but he had a good thing going. Perhaps he felt that he needed to distance himself from the wrongdoing at Kentucky, or maybe he orchestrated a lot of the misdeeds and left in order to save his career. But if his career didn't die thanks to cheating at Kentucky, his record at Baylor is going a long way to end it legitimately. Baylor hasn't shown much sign of life under Morriss... (the Wildcats have been pretty lifeless in his absense, as well).
Another week, another sad showing by the pseudo-top 25 Arizona State Sun Devils against a ranked opponent. After being violated multiple times last week by USC, the Sun Devils lost 27-0 to Cal this week. They got no business bein' ranked.
With Miami and FSU going down, Auburn slides into the BCS title game Odd Man Out slot. Wisconsin should move up to #4 in the polls. I can't say enough about Auburn--they've been damn impressive. Jason Campbell has been fantastic (go figure). Oklahoma has one more regular season hurdle--at Texas A&M--and USC is about ready to put it on cruise control. Chances are those two will end up in the Orange Bowl, leaving the Sugar for Auburn.
High five, more dead than alive.
You know, Jay Davis can be a pretty good quarterback when he's not throwing it to the other team. But you can say that about nearly everyone.
Jay showed a lot of improvement over the last few weeks, but today was another nadir in his season. Pretty much every one of his five interceptions against Clemson were completely his fault, although the pick at the end of the half probably could have been prevented had the WR not quit on his route. It was a pretty ugly day for Davis--along with the pick six he threw, he dazzled us with an improvisational pass-that-was-a-lateral as he was being sacked which ended up costing us about 10 yards.
Despite everything--despite six turnovers, despite having two TDs called back on illegal procedure, despite the penalties--we had a chance right at the end. I'm not sure what that says about Clemson, but it certainly doesn't say much. The Tigers were +5 in the turnover category and couldn't pull away ... but hey, Clemson fans should enjoy their false hope--it's better than no hope.
Quite frankly, I'm not sure what to make of the football program. After years of excellent ball security under Philip Rivers, we've become one of the most error-prone teams in the country. Ten turnovers in the last two weeks. You just can't do that and expect to beat anybody. Considering that our offense isn't that great to begin with, we can hardly afford to gift wrap a handful of turnovers every week. We'd been getting better, but the last two weeks have been a horrible regression on our part.
The coaches have GOT to find a way to make this team play more efficiently. The mistakes we make each week are numerous, and many are fundamental. If we could just play more intelligently, we could actually force the other team
to beat us.
The Georgia Tech game next week is huge--a loss means we'll have to beat FSU to have a shot at a bowl. We can definitely beat FSU, but I'd rather it not come to that. I can live with 6-5 ... let's just focus on getting there. It starts with the mediocre Yellow Jackets.
Let the transactioning begin.
Potential Free Agents
Several players got a jump on free agency by filing their papers today, including Adrian Beltre, Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Beltran. Beltran will be big time for whoever manages to land him (Houston's still a possibility, but I'm thinkin' it won't happen), but Mags and Beltre have some question marks.
There's no doubting Ordonez's ability--he's established a pretty damn good track record--but his health is another thing entirely. He played just 52 games in 2004 thanks to a knee problem that has required multiple surgeries. Even if he is healthy by spring training, will he be the Magglio of old? If not, I feel sorry for his new club, as they'll be considerably overpaying him.
Beltre's 2004 stands as the outlier in his young career. If you're going after this guy, you had better be confident that he's got more .334/.388/.629 years in him (2004), and not .274/.332/.463 years (his career averages). The fact that Beltre had such a huge year at age 25 is promising, although it may simply be that he's one of those guys who peak early in their careers. I tend to think that he won't be worth his next contract, but he could easily prove me wrong. If he puts up great numbers again in 2005, his career outlook is much brighter.
I'll be interested to see if Cubs pitcher Matt Clement ends up elsewhere. Buried by the rest of the Cubs staff and burdened with an unluckly W-L record, Clement tends to be unappreciated by Cubs fans. If he goes unappreciated in the FA market, someone's gonna get a huge bargain.
Ron Zook, we hardly knew ye.
Zook and Florida coaching staff fired today.
Two-and-a-half years and 33 games after Zook's hiring, it looks like the coach's initial detractors among Gators fans were right. Hiring Zook was the wrong move.
To be fair to Zook, not only was the precedent set by his predecessor a ridiculous one, he also had to contend with the disaffected masses who were angry simply because his name wasn't Bob Stoops or Mike Shanahan. The fact that FireRonZook.com existed before he had coached a game is a sad commentary on the Florida fan base. Zook needed to get off to a fast start in order to win the Florida fans over, but he never managed to do so. Going 8-5 isn't satisfactory to the fans of the school, and Zook's Gators compounded matters by losing a headscratcher or two in each of his seasons (with the latest, and last, being to Mississippi State). About the only thing he did right was beat Georgia, but even that doesn't mean a whole lot--after all, Florida always beats Georgia.
He wasn't successful against Tennessee, FSU, or Miami, and he could hardly afford to pile up losses to Florida's rivals.
When the loss to Mississippi State sent the Gators to 4-3 and put them on track for another year similar to Zook's first two, Florida's administration had had enough. I don't think that Florida has acted hastily in firing Zook, but I would have preferred they do it after the season. Firing a guy in midseason puts everyone in a difficult position--the coaches are working with the knowledge that they are lame ducks, and the players know it as well. How will Florida play from here on out? It's anybody's guess. Without this distraction, the Gators are a bowl team; with it, they could tank completely.
I am going to laugh if Florida's coaching search ends up being similar to Nebraska's--i.e., all the big names say no. I don't think that Stoops or Shanahan are realistic candidates, nor do I think that Spurrier is going to come back to his old job. So what happens if Urban Meyer and Bobby Petrino turn down the Gators? Quite possibly another less-than-ideal hire, which, when compounded with Zook's work, could send the program into complete chaos. Of course, Florida will do everything it can to avoid hiring a guy without some pedigree. They didn't fire Zook just to hire some no-name NFL assistant to replace him.
No matter how similar to the Nebraska situation this ends up being, the Gators can be thankful for one thing: Bill Callahan is not their head coach.
Expansion didn't fix everying. It can't.
Update regarding Derek Lowe...
Peter Gammons just said on Baseball Tonight that the Red Sox didn't want Lowe to throw more than 50 pitches. That being the case, it is understandable that Francona took him out after six innings since Lowe had exceeded 50 pitches by quite a bit. Still, he shouldn't have turned to Pedro. If Francona was worried about overusing his bullpen, he should have turned to Wakefield or Arroyo. Both of those guys were excellent in relief in Boston. Wakefield pitched several innings in game five while Arroyo pitched one (Arroyo also pitched for one inning in game six). But you gotta figure that Arroyo (and Wakefield) was okay to go in game seven.
They did it, and in fine fashion, too. Not only did the Red Sox jump on the angst-ridden Kevin Brown early, Derek Lowe pitched like it was 2002. Six innings, one hit, one run, 44 strikes in 69 pitches. Lowe had averaged 11.5 pitches per inning and was cruising when he was inexplicably removed from the game at the start of the seventh inning by Terry Francona. Either the move was a) determined before the game; or b) Francona wanted to limit Lowe because he had pitched two days before. I think Francona should have rolled the dice in the seventh and kept Lowe in there for at least another inning--if 'b' wasn't the issue, then Lowe's pitch count was hardly a problem. Sixty-nine pitches is nothin' for a starter. Why not see if he can at least go seven innings and save your over-used bullpen? Francona followed up that mistake by making another--he inserted Pedro Martinez. Not only did the crowd at the Bronx quickly get back into the game, the Yankees pounded out two quick doubles. They scored two runs in the inning before Martinez eventually ended it.
To the relief of everyone, the comeback was never meant to be. Pedro was replaced by Mike Timlin in the eighth (good move by Francona there) and Timlin didn't have too much trouble. Bellhorn cranked a solo shot in the top of the eighth to quiet the crowd once more. In the ninth, up seven runs, Timlin and Alan Embree finished the job. And the Red Sox won the pennant, completing the most amazing comback in playoff sports history. Absolutely amazing.
Johnny Damon certainly picked a good day to wake up at the plate ... good god. When he hit the grand slam, the game was still painfully young. Once you got the sense that Lowe was going to be solid, though, I think a lot of fears were eased. The Yankees shouldn't have been able to make up a 6-0 deficit, and they didn't.
David Ortiz won the ALCS MVP honors in a slam dunk of a decision. Ortiz has been a monster in the playoffs, especially in the ALCS. His reputation as a god in Boston is secured forever--he crushed Yankees pitching to the tune of three homeruns and two walk-off hits. His first inning homerun in game seven was easily the biggest of the game considering that it came immediately after Johnny Damon had been thrown out at the plate.
The issue in the NL remains undecided, and the Red Sox really can have no preference. The Astros are playing great baseball, while the Cards have that murderous lineup. Question is: did Pedro's mini-relief effort spoil his chances for starting game one on Saturday? If so, Francona's error looks worse. Schilling is going to have to find a way to pitch effectively a couple more times if the Sox are going to bring the championship home.
Here's hoping that they do manage to win it all. I am really tired of having to endure all the self-pity emanating from New England.
"Woe is us! We go to the playoffs every year! Who would curse us with such a plight?"
Please, please stop. Just freaking stop. Color me unsympathetic, but I don't want to hear it.
The bad news is that regardless of the outcome of the World Series, the Red Sox bandwagon just got bigger. If they lose, the cries will only get louder.
Off with you, monkey.
Finally got that Maryland monkey off our backs, and not a moment too soon--that thing was heavy.
The Terps appear to have serious issues offensively. Georgia Tech held them to less than 100 total yards last week, and I thought that was a fluke, but we did it to 'em again this week. This game was basically like each of the last four in this series (which we've lost)--we were up a tenuous amount of points in the fourth quarter, didn't score in the fourth quarter, and even turned it over in order to give them a chance to get back in it. The difference this time around was defense--they couldn't move the ball, so they couldn't make the comeback like they have in the past. We missed 3 FGs, didn't score TDs in the red zone, nearly allowed a safety and a fumble return for a score, and still won. This never woulda happened in the past. We've made far fewer errors in this matchup and still lost double-digit leads in the fourth quarter.
Thank you, defense. And thank you
, Mr. Crappy Maryland QB (Statham or Steffy).
But what do I know? I didn't actually watch the game (on purpose, mind you). This not watching the game technique is now 2-0 (I also employed it when the basketball team traveled to College Park last season). Not quite enough to offset my road game attendance curse, which stands at 0-5.
Generally when you talk about good defenses, you are talking about units that force plenty of turnovers. The Wolfpack defense presents an interesting case--ranked number one in the nation in total defense after six games (diggin' it), the Pack defense has forced just five
turnovers on the season (not so much diggin' it). Three of those turnovers were forced against Richmond in the season opener, and the other two came against Ohio State and Virginia Tech, respectively. What this means is that the Wolfpack has not forced a turnover in its last three games. What the hell is going on here? Is it bad luck? Or is the defense so good that it doesn't let the opposing offense stay on the field long enough to make a mistake?
The latter is not the case. Both Wake Forest and North Carolina had some lengthy scoring drives and moved the ball fairly well. Yet no mistakes. Both did a good job, and they deserve credit, but when you look at the season as a whole, it seems odd that there wasn't a turnover in there somewhere. To say the least, we are extremely fortunate to be 2-1 over the last three games. We've lost the turnover battle in five of six games this season, yet we've won three of them (of the five). A credit to the defense mostly, but also to an offense that has done a good job minimizing mistakes as the season has progressed. Jay Davis has gotten much more secure with the ball, that's for sure. TA McLendon hasn't been putting it on the carpet.
So will the trend continue for the Wolfpack and eventually catch up to them, or do they break through and force 4-5 turnovers in an upcoming game? If we do have a breakthrough game, I sure hope it comes against Miami this Saturday. Regardless of the turnover situation, the defense will keep us in the game.
At this point, the Pack can't afford much of anything in the way of errors. A large number of turnovers (like the number suffered against OSU) would likely be too much to overcome.
For today's angry football fan, message boards just aren't enough--they have to go and create a website. Let's go around the country and see who's on the hot seat (whether real or imagined by disgruntled fans).FireDavidCutcliffe.com
(Ole Miss): I've posted this one a few times. Interesting how it hasn't been updated since the Rebels beat South Carolina in Columbia...FireJoePaterno.com
(PSU): A case of "what have you done for me lately?" Probably started by some twenty-somethings who will never understand Paterno's impact on Penn State.FireBowden.com
(FSU/Clemson): I'm not sure what's more embarrassing--the fact that this website exists, or the site's "design." At least they're covering all bases with this general URL. No Bowden has too minor a coaching position for this site...FireLouHoltz.com
(South Carolina): A practical joke created by Clemson fans. Had me fooled...FireJohnBunting.com
(UNC-CH): A worthy cause if ever there was one.FireMackBrown.com
(Texas): This is a pretty good site if only for the pictures with the little thought clouds on the left side of the front page. A picture of Jim Mora is captioned: "Holiday Bowl?! You want to talk about the Holiday Bowl?!" Brilliant.FireRonZook.com
(Florida): This site was created before Zook had coached a single game because, well, we're Florida and we should have hired someone famous, dammit!!!FireKeithGilbertson.com
(Washington): There's not much here, but cut them some slack, they're only a few games into Gilbertson's career.FireWaltHarris.com
(Pitt): According to the site's owners, "Pitt should be a college football team in the top 20 every season at least with a chance for a conference title or BCS bowl bid every year." Just a pinch
of delusion there. Hate to break it to you, fellas, but the 1970s are long gone.FireGaryCrowton.com
(BYU): Go figure ... these Cougars fans apparently think their success under LaVell Edwards wasn't a fluke. It's gonna be a rough century...
Baseball Prospectus published its RBI Opportunities by Batter Report
for 2004. Some notes: R1, R2, and R3 indicate how many total runners were on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base respectively. PA is plate appearances, BI indicates how many runners the batter knocked in, and the final number gives a percentage of opportunities converted into RBIs (BI divided by TOT). Note that the BI number doesn't match up with each player's final RBI total--that's because it only counts the runners on base who were knocked in, and not the batter (simply adding the player's HRs on the season to the BI number will give you his actual RBI total).
Here's a shock--ML RBI leader Miguel Tejada had the most opportunities with runners on base in the majors. Tejada easily saw the most runners on 3rd (120) in the majors, which no doubt helped him considerably. Still, Tejada had one of the better conversion percentages (.212) in baseball, so he was doing plenty to help himself.
Compare the Opportunities by Batter Report to the list of RBI leaders and you'll see a pretty obvious correlation. You'll also see that the guys at the top of the report are the 3-4 spot hitters (not that this is any revelation). The report helps to illustrate why RBIs have more to do with one's place in the order than they do with an extra level of skill. If you compare the percentages, you'll see that the guys at the top of the list aren't really doing anything better than the guys in the middle of the pack--the guys at the top just have more chances.
Late night lamentations...
Setting aside whether or not TA McLendon actually scored--it's irrelevant, really--the fact of the matter is this: the referee closest to the play, with the best angle and
the jurisdiction to make the call, was convinced that McLendon scored. He signaled touchdown
. How another member of the officiating crew, with a more difficult angle on the play, could even attempt to think that what he saw was conclusive enough to overrule the TD call is incomprehensible. Utterly incomprehensible. That crew chief Jim Knight sided with the official who said McLendon was down even though the official with the best angle was adamant that TA got in the endzone ... wow. That's all I got. I think I've seen everything now. It's always refreshing when we discover a new way to lose to Carolina. Eureka!
Some quick notes before I completely erase this one from memory:
-- Horrid red zone playcalling. QB draw?! Huh? Yeah, they never saw it comin'...
-- Not enough plays made on defense. Poorest effort of the year--bad tackling, blown coverages, letting a slow-ass white boy fullback roll up 7 yards-per-carry. No freakin' turnovers forced again.
-- Solid outing for Jay Davis. He finished 22-28 for 273 and an INT that wasn't really his fault (it was tipped). Still, Davis doesn't see the field well, and he can hold the ball for too long (and he is very much not a playmaker). Needs to look off the coverage better, as well as find his outlets. He should be throwing a lot more swing passes to the RBs, especially with Bobby Washington and Darrell Blackman out there. If nothing's doing down field, look to those guys for a short completion and yards after the catch.
-- Kenan Stadium: nice locale, but has seats that are way too close to field level. We were in the fifth row and still were obstructed by players standing on the sideline. That ain't right ... in fact, it sucks. Tailgating = pathetic.
-- Can't say enough about TA. He's a monster when he's healthy. I only wish he could have gotten 30+ carries like last week...
-- Good bounce back performance by Deraney after going 0-2 on chipshot FGs last week.
-- Carolina still sucks. Bunting for lifetime extension!
Tony Haynes: Too Bizarre to Believe
. I'll say.
Texas Tech 70, Nebraska 10. I laugh in your general direction, Huskers. Fire Solich!!!111 These 9-win seasons simply won't do!!!111 If the Huskers ever win 9 games under Bill Callahan, I'll eat my hat. Up 42-10 after three quarters, the Red Raiders rolled up four meaningless-yet-hilarious TDs in the 4th quarter. Man that's funny.
Boomer Sooner 12, Texas 0. This one wasn't so much embarrassing or heartbreaking as it was disappointing for Longhorns fans. This is the most vulnerable defense that Oklahoma has fielded in years, and yet the Longhorns couldn't muster anything. Stoops has got yer number, Mack, and he ain't losing it any time soon.
LSU 24, Florida 21. Seems like the Gators have lost more than their share of heartbreakers under Ron Zook; I really feel sorry for those guys. Big win for LSU. Big big BIG.
ECU 27, Tulane 25. The twelve people in attendance tried to tear down a goalpost, but they just didn't have the manpower.
Georgia Tech 20, Maryland 7. The strangeness that is Georgia Tech continues. I've never seen a more erratic team from week to week. Holding Maryland to 81 total yards is amazing, especially since it happened in College Park. The Fridge has got issues at QB, that's for sure.
Wisconsin 24, tOSU 13. Holy crap--two L's in a row? Indeed, it is apparent that tOSU was a pseudo-top ten team all along. They're lacking at QB and RB, and we all know that's the heart of their offense. They can't be successful throwing the ball extensively. The Badgers exposed the Buckeyes for what they are--non-factors in the Big Ten.
Ole Miss 31, South Carolina 28. Okay, so for some reason I find Ole Miss' season to be high comedy. Can't wait to see what the FireDavidCutcliffe.com guys have to say after this one, but I'm sure it'll be along the lines of "yeah, we won, but not because of anything Coach Cutcliffe did." In a strange and downright stupid move, Cutcliffe decided to rotate three
quarterbacks against the Gamecocks. The gimmick worked--this time. Hard to imagine any of those QBs being able to develop a rhythm when they're being taken in and out on every play; we'll see how this goes in the Rebels' subsequent games. Says a lot, I might add, that Ole Miss had to resort to something like this.
UVA 30, Clemson 10. Tigers are 1-4. Rock on, Tammy B!
UCLA 37, Arizona 17. In the words of the Sea Captain, "yarr, she blows."
Hello? Up-and-coming MAC? Where'd you guys go?
The big matchups in the SEC (Auburn/Tennessee, LSU/Georgia) ended up being yawners, but we learned a lot about all parties involved. Auburn and Georgia both looked fantastic in cruising to victory. Jason Campbell was very good for Auburn (I'm beginning to really regret the disparaging remarks I made previously...); he let the UT quarterbacks make all of the mistakes, and they made plenty. UT's inexperience at QB was going to hurt them at some point ... while Ainge and Shaeffer both look like good ones, they obviously weren't quite prepared for a game of this magnitude (or a defense like Auburn's). Auburn is clearly the best team in the SEC West, and with LSU going down for a second time in conference play, they should have no trouble cruising to the SEC title game.
With regards to the other game--Georgia not only asserted itself in the conference, but on the national scene as well. The Bulldogs are definitely national title contenders; I guess they were just waiting for the big stage before they worried about impressing anyone. LSU has too many issues at quarterback to be BCS contenders...
Did the Luckeyes' contract with Satan expire on Saturday? I can't think of any other reason for the loss to Northwestern. I mean, Nugent missing a crucial short FG in OT? Seems a little unusual, doesn't it? They'll be back, I'm sure, though this unscheduled L probably puts an end to any conference title hopes they had. Their matchup with Wisconsin next week should be intriguing, if not all that exciting to watch.
The Big Ten race should prove to be awesome. Minnesota, Purdue, and Wisconsin have looked good, while Michigan and Ohio State have already faltered. I really like the way Purdue is playing; Kyle Orton is fantabulous.
Oregon busted out the laser lemon against Arizona State on Saturday, but it was no use. Not only were the Sun Devils not permanently blinded, they weren't intimidated, either. ASU's looking like the team everyone thought they'd be last year.
So San Jose State gave up over 500 yards rushing to Rice over the weekend and still managed to win. They're probably running gassers right now...
The hits keep comin' for Louisiana Tech thanks to its tough schedule, but they finally managed to pull an upset. Ryan Moats, who is a whole lot of fun to watch, ran for 200+ on Fresno State. Check out Moats if you can.
How 'bout those Middies! Took it to Air Force in Colorado Springs, and they're 5-0. Big time win for those guys.
Another week, another embarrassing loss for ECU. Good call on getting rid of Logan because of perceived stagnancy; I guess that whole going to bowls thing was becoming tiresome for Pirates fans.
You know what gets funnier every week? FireDavidCutcliffe.com
, that's what. Eli's departure has exposed an overall lack of talent at Ole Miss ... I would suggest bookmarking this one so that you can follow what is sure to be a hilarious ride through October and November.
Well, okay then.
As I was sitting in the stands as the third quarter started, I joked that I hoped someone taught Jay Davis to play quarterback during halftime. Apparently, some one did.
What happened in the third quarter was one of the fastest shifts in momentum I've ever witnessed. We come out, run a few plays, everybody's ho-hum (still down 14-0, after all), and them Jay Davis hits Sterling Hicks for an unbelievable 57-yard touchdown pass. He faked the handoff to TA, rolled to his right, stepped up in the pocket and fired a pass that barely eluded the hands of the WFU defensive back responsible for Hicks. Sterling used some nice moves and a good block to make it into the endzone. On Wake's ensuing offensive possession, they went backwards, and Carter-Finley went nuts. We got the ball back at Wake's 40, then proceeded to go backwards ourselves. On 3rd-and-31 (that's right), Davis spotted Tramain Hall over the middle and hit him for another miraculous 50+ yard pass play. TA capped that one off shortly thereafter.
Wake got the ball back and went backwards again. Our offense took advantage again, this time with a more methodical drive down the field. Twenty one points in the 3rd. Considering how the Pack's offense looked in the first half, this outburst was nearly unimaginable. Jay Davis looked like a brand new quarterback ... it's inexplicable, really.
So, long story short we blew some chances to end it in regulation but took it in OT after WFU's kicker donked a FG attempt off one of the uprights. Good guys win. Good guys 3-1 (2-0). There was much rejoicing.
Jay Davis' line: 16-21, 228 yds, 1 TD
we got to see our athletes at WR make some plays down the field. Davis finally relaxed (or something) and realized that his team has a bunch of talented guys who can catch the ball and are usually open. Likely the coaches showed him some photos at halftime, because Davis attacked the middle of the field with a purpose in the second half. When Wake blitzed, Davis usually found his man. The long conversion to Hall was a beauty over the middle.
Here's a microcosm for Jay's day: in the first quarter, he's throwing in a two WR set. The slot guy (T. Hall) runs a five yard out and is wide open; the other reciever (B. Clark, IIRC) runs about a ten yard buttonhook and is blanketed by the zone defense. Jay forces it to Clark, narrowly avoiding a pick. In the second half, in that same formation, Jay checks off of Clark and hits Hall near the sideline for an important first down.
Hopefully it is apparent to everyone now that Davis is going to be the guy this year. Stone just ain't ready (and you don't need to see his INT to realize that...). All we need from Jay is the solid performance he gave in the second half today ... he doesn't need to be Rivers; just mistake-free. And he was. While I am disheartened by the low number of takeaways we've had this season, at least we are lowering our giveaways from one game to the next. I hope the defense can use its aggressiveness to cause a few more mistakes by the opposing offense. But even if it doesn't, the defense is plenty good without the takeaways, thank you very much.
On to UNC-CH...