Thursday, September 01, 2005

George O'Leary: Master Strategist

South Carolina 24, UCF 15

-- Down 24-10 with 6:00 left in the game, you've got the ball on your opponent's 10 yard line, but it's 4th down. It's manageable, though--only about 5 yards. Kicking a field goal does you no good...unless of course you can see the future. George O'Leary looked into his crystal ball, saw that South Carolina was going to fumble the ensuing kickoff, and decided to get the easy three points.

Okay, even if that were true, O'Leary's move doesn't make much sense. You see, when you're down 14 points, it's a two possession game. And when you kick a field goal to bring the deficit to 11, it's still a two possession game.

-- South Carolina came out rolling against Central Florida's accomodating secondary; they couldn't muster any sort of a running game, however, and that's going to be a serious issue for them in conference play. When they're not facing an opponent that shoots itself in the foot every three minutes.

-- Blake Mitchell's numbers are ridiculous: 18-23, 330 yards, 3 TDs.

-- Have to give credit to UCF for hangin' in there. They more than held their own in most statistical categories. Total yards (USC: 362, UCF: 341), first downs (USC: 17, UCF: 22), time of possession (USC: 24:30, UCF: 35:30), turnovers (USC: 3, UCF: 1), penalties (both had 5).

-- Overall, I didn't find the OBC's debut very inspiring. Spurrier's not working any miracles this season.

Vandy 24, Wake 20

-- Wake secondary: Yikes. Three guys were playing in their first college game ever, and it showed. Jay Cutler completed nearly 70% of his passes.

-- Wake's defensive line wasn't much better than its secondary. Jay Cutler typically had a lot of time to throw the ball, which didn't help those rookie DBs very much. When Wake blitzed, it was ineffectual to the point where it was doing Vandy a favor.

-- A pretty impressive performance by Cutler, who also ran for 89 yards. In fairness, though, the dude could have written a term paper with all the time he had in the pocket. "Hello? Um, isn't the other team supposed to try to get me or something?"

-- Ben Mauk wasn't bad either, but had a costly fumble inside the Vanderbilt five. He made some nice throws on the run.

-- Lots of missed opportunities for Wake. They took their first two possessions of the game inside the Vandy 20 but only came away with three points. In the second quarter, they had to kick another field goal after reaching the red zone, and, as mentioned, there was the Mauk fumble in the second half.

-- Despite all of that, the Deacs had a great chance to win the game with a last minute drive. But with about :38 left, on a 2nd-and-10 play from the Vandy 31 yard line, Mauk was sacked. The play resulted in a loss of (I think) 18 yards. Backbreaker. It's a shame, too, because Wake had called a screen on that play--and it was going to work. Vandy had been blitzing often on that last drive. They nearly got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

-- Micah Andrews: holy []. Who needs Chris Barclay? Vandy was utterly helpless against Andrews all night. Averaging 7.5 yards-per-carry on 34 carries is extremely impressive. Andrews was quick, made sharp cuts, and showed some good field vision. Really a lot of fun to watch.

-- From what I saw tonight, nothing has changed in Winston-Salem. I'm sure they'll play in a lot of close games again this season, but as long as their defense is that poor, they are not close to a winning football team. Still going to hand it to Nowledge next week, though. Of this there is no doubt.

-- Plenty of good seats still available for the rest of the season. Call the Wake Forest ticket office today!

Oregon 38, Houston 24

-- I didn't catch too much of this one. It seemed to take Oregon a while to get acclimated to its new-look offense. Once they got comfortable, and as Houston's defense got tired, they really started to roll.

-- Kellen Clemens looked good running the Oregon offense. I was surprised by his speed on a couple of plays.