Thoughts on the game

I think this is the post I’ve dreaded for a while.  I’m so sad that the college football season is over and we will not have nearly as much to talk about.  That said, here are my final thoughts on the BCS title game:

—It’s pretty clear now that the Gators are in the middle of the same kind of run that we saw USC and Miami make earlier in the decade.  Winning two titles in three years is no easy feat.  Urban Meyer has done that and, when you take into account his undefeated season at Utah in 2004, you have to consider him to be the unquestioned top coach in college football.  It seems almost quaint now what people were saying in 2005 when he was hired.  Stuff about the spread not working in the SEC and so on.  Of course, here at HP, we predicted that Meyer would not only dominate the league, but that his presence would cause the rest of the conference to change for the better.  And so, here the SEC sits, with much improved coaching to go along with the best talent in the country.  I see no reason why Meyer can’t keep it up, although we have seen in the past that such dynasties are not taken down from without, but from within, and usually due to things like ego and hubris.

—I thought it was a very entertaining game.  Obviously, we did not have the scoring fest that everyone predicted.  I thought the two teams were fairly equal in terms of talent.  Florida just has a couple more playmakers and that was the difference.

—Curses to Fox for yet again putting on a horrible telecast.  The first Florida touchdown did not feature a proper camera angle, but that did not stop the color commentator from declaring that is was ‘clearly’ a touchdown.  Uh, no, it was NOT clear.  We also learned that the Fox guys were newly exposed to Tim Tebow, as we were subjected to phrases like “Spending 20 minutes with Tebow will make you a better human being.”   And did we really need to see that shot of New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft?  Who gives a flip?  Certainly not the millions of college football fans viewing the game.

—The best player on the field was Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.  I don’t know if he is going pro or not, but that guy has to be the first pick in the draft when he does come out.  The second-best player on the field might’ve been Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap.  Oh, Percy Harvin, Tebow and Jermaine Gresham were pretty good, too…

Sam Bradford played a solid game for the most part, but his flaw is that he doesn’t always find ways to make things happen when the play breaks down.  The Sooners missed two huge opportunities inside the 10-yard line and if those go differently, OU probably wins.

—Watching the two teams made me think about future offensive trends.  We are seeing the rise of the Spread Defense now in college football, as coaches retool their rosters to deal with the tough-to-stop Spread.  As a result, we are seeing an emphasis on smaller linebackers who can run and safeties who can cover.  For much of the season, Oklahoma exploited that size issue by retaining a powerful downhill running game.  And its no-huddle, fast-break tempo meant that defenses had trouble substituting.  Meanwhile, you have Florida, which often utilizes smaller smurf-types to press its offensive attack.  I think the next trend to counter the defensive moves is to utilize a no-huddle, fast break spread that uses smurf running backs and receivers and still maintains an element of downhill I-formation running behind a massive offensive front.  Basically, put Jeff Demps, Jacquizz Rodgers, Trindon Holiday and Derrick Williams on Oklahoma and you’d have the ideal offense for 2009.  I predict that the next few seasons will see tons more college football stars who are 5-9 and below.

—The next deadline we are waiting for is January 15.  That’s when the NFL declaration deadline hits and that’s when we can unveil our first real Heisman list for 2009.  I am surprised that Tebow is returning, though with his recent surgery, it makes sense.  The people who think he should be an H-back in the NFL are nuts and are typical of the arrogant mentality that surrounds that league.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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14 Responses to Thoughts on the game

  1. Vince Gagliano January 12, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    Some side thoughts, to complement what you are saying:

    *Tebow’s new position, Scot Loeffler, has worked with quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Henson, and, yes, even the starting quarterbacks on the 0-16 Detroit Lions.

    With that in mind, you just know that he’s going to teach Tim how to do three-step drops, five-step drops, and seven-step drops. He’s going to learn more about the fine art of throwing a ball 30 yards to gain 5 or 6. And he’s going to be better prepared for it when he does leave for the NFL.

    But, just as importantly, Loeffler is an ideal coach for John Brantley, who will likely be the guy who takes over when Tebow leaves. Brantley is the type of QB who can benefit most from Loeffler’s services, and while he might never duplicate Tebow’s success, he’s going to do a lot better than people might give him credit for.

    *The ideal running back to counter the spread defense should not only have speed, but a healthy dose of strength as well.

    If a Jeff Demps or Jahvid Best has enough lower body strength to complement their speed, their downhill running style could stymie some smaller linebackers. Also, they naturally have a low center of gravity, which helps in making cuts and sustaining momentum.

    *Florida won the national championship game in the first quarter. After that, it was a done deal.

    It became evident later in the game that the frustration at not getting close to 60 points was a thorn in the Sooners’ side. If the game was 14-14 or 21-14 OU on the first decisive red-zone drive, Bob Stoops, in all likelihood, kicks the field goal to get 3 safe points.

    Also, if you noticed the Sooner players in one of the pregame videos, they talked about how any drive that didn’t score a touchdown was a failure. You don’t reach 60 in five straight games without a sense of greed as far as your drives are concerned.

    Both of those factors, combined with the Gators’ outstanding special teams, stopped no fewer than 6 OU points.

    *Personally, I think Tebow, not McCoy, became the front-runner for the 2009 Heisman Trophy. Barring injury or a flat-out awful statistical year, if UF makes the BCS Championship Game, he wins.

    Under the logic that the Heisman winner personifies the season, the season could very well end up as Florida’s Quest for Dynastic Immortality. That, combined with Sam Bradford potentially leaving for the NFL, and Colt McCoy unlikely to duplicate his stats from last year (particularly completion percentage), makes Tebow a solid candidate.

    But consider: Even Archie Griffin wasn’t immune to the Heisman curse, losing in the Rose Bowl in the game after he won his second trophy.

    The BCS Championship Game will be held in the Rose Bowl next year.

  2. Old Ducker January 12, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    HP, when are you goint to provide the promised beat-down on Sarkisian?

  3. Vince Gagliano January 12, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    He’s one of the guys who destroyed a Norm Chow creation.

    Actually, that’s the bulk of it.

  4. slippy January 12, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    As far as the Bradford comments, was everyone else surprised to see all the runs on the goal line? Between Bradford and Gresham and that O-Line it seems like a play action pass would have worked wonders.

    The man-love over Tebow is ridiculous. I have nothing against the guy and think he’s a great player (this coming from a Buckeye) but the media’s perception of him is just nauseating. I knew he’s had his games, but there were very few (if any) plays in that game that other QBs couldn’t make. Without Percy Harvin in that game I think Florida struggles mightily.

  5. Dawgy January 13, 2009 at 5:49 am #

    It’s my opinion that Percy Harvin was the best player on the field and Florida doesn’t win that game without him.

  6. philnotfil January 13, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    “there were very few (if any) plays in that game that other QBs couldn’t make”

    Because there are so many other QBs who can run the play-action from a 5-wide set? Or Qbs who can run for the first down, getting hit five yeards short and carrying the defender the next five yards? Or Qbs whose running scares defenses enough that they sell out on the option to the outside setting up 3 shovel passes for the TE up the middle?

    Granted, much of what makes him special is his running, but his passing was still good enough to end up as the 4th highest rater passer in the country, down from 2nd last year.

  7. slippy January 13, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    I don’t remember him carrying defenders in that game. I think you could have inserted Pat White, Terrelle Pryor, Jeremiah Masoli, Jevan Snead, Coly McCoy, Robert Griffin, David Johnson, etc. and the outcome is the same with some very similar plays (and for some of them maybe without the 2 INTs). I’m not saying he’s not a great player and that works every game, I’m just saying for this specific game.

    The TE shovel pass isn’t a matter of scared defenses, it’s some combination of poor coaching, missed assignments and over-aggressiveness. When Jonathan Dwyer from Ga Tech runs for 200+ yards with two 70+ yard runs in there it’s not because he’s opened up because the defense is “scared” of the FB or QB running, it’s the right playcall against the right defense, and it’s made to take advantage of the three factors previously mentioned.

  8. philnotfil January 13, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Tebow had some great first down runs in the third quarter.

    Passing efficiency rankings(with rating):
    Pat White 27 (142.41)
    Terrelle Pryor 20 (145.60)
    Jeremiah Masoli 46 (131.96)
    Jevan Snead 21 (145.50)
    Robert Griffin 28 (142.00)
    David Johnson 2 (178.69)
    Colt McCoy 3 (173.36)

    You could make an argument that Johnson and McCoy could do what Tebow did, but I would only believe you about McCoy, not many teams respect Johnson running the ball. Oh, and none of those quarterback had the TD/Int ratio Tebow did.

  9. slippy January 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    Dude I’m not basing on the year nor am I comparing him to those QBs. I’m basing it on what I saw in one single game, and what I’ve seen from those other QBs. It was very pedestrian compared to what he’s capable of and ESPECIALLY compared the praise he gets from everyone in the media.

    In that game, he had a TD/INT ratio of 1:1.

    The plays that won that game were 1. The goal line stand by the defense. 2. The goal line interception by the defense. A very distant 3,4,5, etc. = Harvin’s long runs, the TE shovel passes, and one long third down pass Tebow made.

    The defense won that game, followed by Harvin, followed by great preparation and playcalling, followed by Tebow. I’m not discounting what he did, I’m not saying he’s not a great player. Just don’t declare him the greatest CFB player of all time. He’s won one NC as a starter and one Heisman. He’s not the only one to do that.

    The only great statistic he had this year was throwing only 4 INTs. The 06 Florida team proved that you don’t have to be linebacker sized or a great athlete to play QB on an extremely well coached team that is loaded with insane athletes.

  10. bucknut January 14, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    I agree with you for the most part slippy. From one Buckeye to another though. Consider this. Tebow and Leak beat us in the 06 NC game. Tebow didn’t start but he contributed greatly as a freshman. Now while he might not be the greatest CFB player of all time, if he puts up ungodly numbers next year as a senior, wins the heisman, and the NC game, he will create an argument for one of the best to ever play. Harvin was the best player of the game no doubt, but it’s Tebow’s ability to make plays with his feet that make him a big threat. I do believe that if one or the other hadn’t played then the outcome would have been different in this game.

  11. A-Train January 15, 2009 at 6:09 pm #

    great game overall (except ou lost …man) but the thing that stood out to me was Stoops decision calling he did it backwards went for it on fourth early in the game and kicked on fourth later in the game (which for some odd reason i knew was going to be blocked the second the kick team walked on) also they strayed away from running in the third quarter. chris brown was cutting that defense up early which should have set up the play action for an easy TD to Gresham but stoops kept running right at them. also i didn’t see them use the three tide end bunch formation that i love to see them run. Also the tempo of the no huddle seem oddly slow compared to most of they year they went fast one possession and ran it down the field like the gator defense wasn’t there and the absences of Demarco Murray hurt but Mike Balogun isnt worth a chunk of dirt at middle linebacker i recall at least 10 plays where he blew coverage or wasn’t in the right gap but alas thier always next year and if you think OU had motivation from last years bowl loss…get ready for an undefeated season because the defense will be healthy and our underclassmen secondary will be primed and ready

  12. Mack Attack January 16, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    In response to Slippy (not your last but the comment before), one of the offensive plays of the game was a 3rd and 12 situation on the drive that resulted in the FG that put Florida ahead 17-14. This particular play saw Tebow roll of the RT and look downfield at covered receivers. He tucked it and took off to be met by two OU defenders three yards short of the first down. Instead of being stopped, he lowers the shoulder, delivers the hit, rolls off and picks up the first down.

    Is that not the play that provides evidence to what you have not seen previously? Is that not Tebow taking over a game and delivering a victory. It provided the momentum, set the tone, and wrapped it up. I never thought that the game was in doubt after that single play. That was a Tebow moment.

  13. slippy January 16, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    That’s a lot of negatives. I was trying to say I HAVE seen it previously, I just didn’t see God playing QB in the National Championship game. And no, one play can no where close to be considered ‘taking over a game and delivering a victory.’ If I remember correctly I think he actually made 2 of the defenders miss. I stand by my previous comment – nearly any of those QBs could have made that play.

    I’m not taking away from the play. A long 3rd down conversion on that drive was huge, and like you said basically won the game at that point.

    I’m not trying to take away from what the kid has accomplished. It just makes me cringe when the announcers say things like spending 20 minutes with him will make you a better person.

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