Monday, September 08, 2008

The Works, dance marathon-style

Yeeeeeeaaaaahhhh, get your celebrate on, McFadden. Or maybe you're grimacing because you're about to collapse after playing nearly the entire length of a game that kicked off at 11:30 in Alabama in early September. In that case, uh ...

Good news, bad news. Bad first: as much time as they've spent staying in step with someone sweaty in exceedingly close proximity, by season's end the members of Auburn's secondary should just about be to ready to do the two-step for 17 straight hours to raise money for ... I'll be honest, I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but this picture is awesome and Auburn's secondary starters need a blow:
Auburn's four starting defensive backs played perhaps 90 percent of the reps Saturday, and head coach Tommy Tuberville said he hopes that doesn't have to happen again.

"They got tired," Tuberville said. "They can't play that many plays."
The solution offered is for those guys to play a handful fewer special teams snaps, which, OK, but it would be nicer if the young'uns were ready to contribute more than just here and there.

The good news: Paul Rhoads says they're getting there:
"(Thorpe) is doing nothing but making me feel more and more confident in him," Rhoads said. "All those backups are improving. They've just got to improve to the point where there's no fear to put them out there."
This is going to sound a little on the brash side, but if Thorpe (who's already well on his way towards being yet another piece of ammo in the Auburn fan's "recruiting guys don't know what they're talking about" argument) and the other newcomers are going to manage to not walk around with a great big flashing bullseye on their backs, this defense isn't going to have a hole. It'll be holeless. Chinkless. Achilles' heelless. Etc.

I stand by my assertion that the quarterback battle is going to be the No.1 story on this Auburn team for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't appreciate what this defense is going to do ... assuming the corners and safeties don't pass out halfway through the Arkansas game or something.

In other Auburn post-game press ... Tony Franklin said the reason he'd gotten Tommy Trott more involved was because he was "more un-stupid" than he'd been calling plays against ULM. I'll say this for Franklin: I don't think we're ever, ever going to lack for quotes while he's around.

Randy Kennedy believes the Khrisodi Burn-Stodd approach could not only not be an anchor around Auburn's neck, it might be a hot-air balloon lifting them to the heights reached by the Chrim Letebowk era at Florida '06 and the ... uh ... Rymattan Pflerrilouxn season at LSU last year. I feel like I'm supposed to scoff at such ridiculous comparisons (/lady of high society), but as I said earlier today: I wonder if he's got a point. Could we at least give it a shot, coahes?

One more quick FYI: Jay G. Tate sorta wondered aloud if it was the wisest thing for Auburn to pass on Texas recruit Ryan Mossakowski after signing Raymond Cotton, since Cotton is sorta kinda in the Burns mold ("more of a runner" is Tate's phrase) and Mossakowski could fill in the pocket-passer role. The commenters sort of gently disabuse Jay of the "just a runner" notion in the comments, though, based first on his legit arm strength and then his boffo first appearance for Meade High in Maryland.

Whoa. Jeremy's right that I do occasionally scan the blog comment threads, though not as a gauge of what Auburn fans are thinking in general so much as to what a few specific very, ah-ha, interesting Auburn and/or Alabama fans are thinking. As in:
Kodi - I have backed the evil forces that deny you your rightful place on the depth chart long enough. I now renounce doughy, redfaced Franklin and all he stands for.

Fly, fly like an eagle to some place where you are appreciated - where people see though whats on the surface to what is deep in your heart.

Only a moron in heat would have picked that idiot Todd, who was coveted only by the collegiate dynamo Troy State Teacher's College over you. You have arms, you have legs, you have brain power and you were a great quarterback in high school, come to lead Auburn University to the promised land.

Now we have mistreated you, scorned, and neglected. Transfer now while the transferring is good. AU will never fully appreciate you until you are gone. A hero is a terrible thing to waste.
Seriously: whoa. It's not quite the "Nick Saban destroyed my family" rant from the Fanhouse last year, but given that we're just talking about picking a quarterback in Week 3 ... yeah.

You are unworthy of reading the writings of the great Matt Zemek. Man, I remember when I first started reading Zemek at CFN five years or so ago and he actually seemed like a breath of fresh air: no one was taking college football as seriously or with such a consistent point-of-view, even if in retrospect writing "mental toughness" a dozen types a column isn't much of a point-of-view. Anyways,tThen I found the wonders of the bloggitysphere and 100 other guys who all took it just as seriously without being so pretentious Pynchon gave him a look-see and said "he's just putting on airs." (See, yours truly knows pretension when he sees it because he practices it so often himself.) So I first read him less, and now I don't read him at all, principally because the following quote, taken from CFN's weekly five thoughts piece, pretty well sums up the attitude of every piece of Zemek's towards his readers:
Very simply, ladies and gentlemen, if you think that Ohio State is in trouble against USC because of the way the Buckeyes played against Ohio, you know nothing about college football and have failed to pay attention to this sport during your lifetime.
Right. I'm sure you said the same when Villanova outgained WVU in Week 1.

Also: Paul Westerdawg delivers the ultimate insult to Steve Spurrier's tenure as the helm of the Gamecocks--he's the second coming of Ray Goff ... Coupla interesting tidbits in the ESPN SEC men's hoops preseason piece, and by interesting I mean "depressing," as Fran Fraschilla ranks Auburn 12th (out of 12, in case you forgot) and Chris Low calls Auburn "the toughest head coaching job in the SEC." Hooray.


Will Collier said...

Boy, are you right about Zemek. That guy makes the average Senator look concise and unpretentious.

Matt Zemek said...

Maybe West Virginia didn't take East Carolina seriously... certainly not at the level that Ohio State will treat USC.

The whole point about the Ohio State-Ohio game is that it was a classic look-ahead game for the Buckeyes, and therefore not an accurate reflection of their quality.

Yet, I heard and read a lot of angst from Buckeye fans on Saturday and Sunday about how the Ohio game meant they were doomed against USC. That's what I was speaking to (or rather, against) in my 5 Thoughts comment.

One other note on West Virginia: If the Villanova game was a true indicator of WVU's impending doom against ECU, one would have chosen a stat which would have pointed to offensive weakness, not defensive weakness, for it was WVU's offense, not its defense, which really stumbled against the Pirates.

Just a few things to consider.

And Will Collier, keep ripping me for trying to build better relationships between readers and fans, and for engaging in what you view to be off-putting navel-gazing.

All you need to do is read the short-form section of the Weekly Affirmation. You can skip the long-form section. I value my readers enough to give them the option of reading concise writing or expansive writing. There's a need for both in sportswriting and any other type of literary journalism.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Goodness, we managed to slip a bee into someone's bonnet here, didn't we?

As for Ohio-OSU, I guess we'll see this Saturday. But there's a difference between your standard "looking ahead" game where Juggernaut X wakes up at halftime and cruises from there, and needing two huge and hella fortunate special teams plays to beat a MAC also-ran who held you to just as few total yards as you held them to.

As for WVU-'Nova, call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure total yards--the stat I pointed to--points to both offensive and defensive weaknesses. What with it being "total" yards. Besides--maybe the WVU offense was worse, but it's not like the 'Eer defense and its willingness to let ECU rip off repeated six-minute touchdown drives was blameless.

Aaaaaand lastly, telling your readers they "know nothing about college football" if they disagree with you on one highly debatable seems a very peculiar way of "valuing" them.

Will Collier said...

"keep ripping me for trying to build better relationships between readers and fans"

That doesn't even make sense. Please try again.

(I know I'll probably get a dissertation for say that, but...)

Anonymous said...

Zemek is quite possibly the worst writer out there; prone to circumlocution and with the aforementioned attitude. Matt, it's a game of violent collisions, not bionuclear nanotechnology whatever. Usually, the more violent team wins.

Anyway, I read a Zemek piece regarding the Michigan-Utah game. Michigan blocks a punt, bad play Utah. Michigan forces a turnover, bad play Utah. Michigan QB misses a wide open receiver, great play Utah. It was quite the hack job by the "impartial" observer. I got the impression he didn't really watch the game. Wow, is that possible?

Matt Zemek said...

Will -

You said in your blog a season or two ago that I should stop my endless navel-gazing in the attempt to build better relationships between fans and readers...


To think that a game such as Ohio-Ohio State is/should be in any way reflective of the actual quality of Ohio State is, flatly, a very strong indication of a lack of knowledge about the way sports works in general (not just college football in particular).

That's a very cerebral statement I made, and any agile mind should be able to grasp it.

People who don't understand the terms "hangover game" or "look-ahead game" evidently have no appreciation of the dynamics of college football. Again, a very cerebral and sober statement that shouldn't be the least bit controversial.

As an aside, though, when I think of "my readers," I think of the readers of my columns. The 5 Thoughts is a communal CFN project where I'm asked to make a sound-byte contribution. As all of you know, sound bytes are not my style, and I think they have a corrosive effect on society. The sacrifices we writers make to please our bosses...


One of the fundamental debates in sports is, "Was that touchdown play more the result of good running or bad tackling?"

Watching the game is the only way to make a determination, and I laid out the evidence for Utah making bad plays more than Michigan made good plays.

Disagree with me--no problem. Just don't insult my effort or intelligence.

If the game played out differently, I would have written a story with a different tone and tenor.