September 21, 2009
• Gosh, I can't figure out why he didn't just let his quarterback take over the game. Besides the standard "Those guys are pretty good on defense," Urban Mayer had two explanations Sunday for Florida's uncharacteristically sluggish offense Saturday against Tennessee: a) Key starters Jeff Demps and Aaron Hernandez were struggling through the flu, and b) Why go all-out when the Vols are just playing not to be humiliated?
"When I saw them start handing the ball off, you didn't feel like they were going after the win,'' Meyer said. "... [T]hey want to shorten the game and that's kind of I think the plan, and I remember looking out there and there's 10 minutes left in the game and there's no no-huddle (offense being run by UT), they are down by, I think it was 23-6 and the urgency ... the way we lose a game there is to throw an interception.
"... [W]e're not trying to impress the pollsters, we're trying to win the game. I think a lot of it had to do with the way they were playing. That made our life a little easier.''
Under most circumstances, that would be the obvious analysis. Where it concerns an offense quarterbacked by Jonathan Crompton, however, the connection between putting the ball in the air and winning becomes more tenuous: Crompton had already thrown one interception that led to a Gator field goal, and when the Vols did finally get aggressive -- running a deep stop-and-go on 4th-and-1 to keep a last-gasp drive alive -- it was picked off again. I wonder if Meyer considered that, sometimes, handing off is trying to win.
• Oklahoma moves back in front of BYU, by nine spots in the AP poll and 11 according to the coaches, despite the Cougars' head-to-head win.
• The coaches (unlike the AP) rank BYU (No. 20) five spots ahead of Florida State (No. 25) despite the Seminoles' lopsided win in Provo.
• Both polls continue to rank Oklahoma State ahead of Houston, by one spot in the AP and seven by the coaches, despite the Cougars' 10-point win in Stillwater.
• And, of course, both polls keep USC in the top 12 with only a cursory nod to Washington after the Huskies' crowning upset: The writers introduce U-Dub at No, 24, 14 positions below the Trojans; the coaches leave the Huskies out in the cold at the equivalent of No. 31 in the 'Also Receiving Votes' ghetto. (Washington is also a nine-point underdog this week at Stanford. Respect!)
At least they both kept USC ahead of Ohio State, albeit by one spot apiece. Those discrepancies seem minor now, and probably will prove to be just that in the long run. But assuming that pollsters will be forced to consider head-to-head as part of a resumé instead of preseason assumptions eventually, I have one question: If Oklahoma State and Houston and/or USC and Washington keep winning, at what point do the Cougars and Huskies suddenly become "better"?
• Corp? Really? Well, I thought everything went fine ... USC's quarterback situation must be clearer now, right? After Aaron Corp's first start resulted in one of the worst passing performances in one of the worst losses of Pete Carroll's tenure, Buckeye-felling freshman Matt Barkley has to be the choice, doesn't he? And after holding out hope right up until kickoff that Barkley could throw through his bad shoulder, he has to be OK for this Saturday with two full week to recuperate, right? Not so fast, my friend:
Pete Carroll said tonight [Sunday] he does not know if Matt Barkley will be able to start this week. If Barkley cannot start, Aaron Corp will start against Washington State.
"Aaron will be the guy," Carroll said. "We'll have to see how much Matt can throw. We'll see. We don't know. We need to see how Matt feels.''
If he feels like his arm will remain attached to his body after a 15-yard out, you gotta start him for the gimme, coach, or face another week of turmoil going into the critical game at Cal.
• Get well, Gronk. I mentioned the season-ending injuries to Matt Grothe and Michael Floyd on Sunday, but the '09 campaign also ended for another high profile-ish player this weekend: Arizona's All-Pac-10 tight end, Rob Gronkowski, will undergo back surgery that should keep him out the rest of the year. Through three games without their best offensive player, the Wildcats are averaging 13 fewer points (23.3) than in last year's breakthrough bowl season, although graduating the school's all-time passing and receiving leaders might have something to do with that.
The good news for Gronkowski, such as it were, is that he didn't redshirt as a true freshman and hasn't set foot on the field this year (he hadn't even practiced until last Monday, and didn't last long then), so he cam remain on the usual five-year trajectory. If he returns at full speed next year, that may not matter, because he's likely gone to the NFL in 2011, anyway.
Quickly ... Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes is expected to play against Kentucky on the sore Achilles that limited him against Tennessee. ...Lane Kiffin enjoyed the crowd at the Swamp, or at least its topical humor. ... Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen shouldn't miss any time with an ailing foot. ... Chip Kelly says he's sticking with Jeremiah Masoli as Oregon's quarterback despite a miserable start to the season as a passer. ... ESPN's GameDay set will be in State College this week for Iowa's trip to Penn State. ... Boston College fans are not happy with the offensive coaching after Saturday's debacle at Clemson. (Really, really not happy.) ... And Nick Saban deploys "Hillbilly Psychology 1" on Alabama's secondary. Maybe he should try it on the the Tide's special teams.