Sunday, September 25, 2005

Saturday Night College Footbal Thoughts

It was a good day. Michigan and Purdue lost. Notre Dame and Michigan State won. I can't really ask for a better day. Two players I have been very impressed with are State's Javon Ringer and ND's Darius Walker. Ringer is a freshman who is averaging almost 7 yards a carry (6.9 to be specific). Granted, of his 52 carries, he only had 4 during the ND game, which is the only team State's played with a decent defense. If he builds off of the talent he has, he could be good.

Walker, on the other hand, is averaging about 4.5 yards per carry. Seems less impressive when compared to Ringer's 6.9, but Walker's got a much tougher job. He's the main RB for ND with Powers-Neal as a backup. Ringer's the second of a very strong 3-man rushing squad for State. State's offensive line has also seemed a lot more consistently solid to me. The Irish line can give Brady Quinn 10 seconds of coverage or half a second on any given play. They've just seemed to provide a lot less consistent protection.

So, with all those disclaimers, I do really like Walker. He's tough and he's smart. He knows when to stutter-step to by some time and he knows when to power ahead. He's opened the season with 4 consecutive 100+ yard games. And he can catch the ball when he's needed. His versatility reminds me of Edgerrin James in many ways. This guy will be good.

QB Brady Quinn, on the other hand, has been less than spectacular. To his credit, he's tough, quick, smart, and evasive. What I don't like about him is his passing. He throws a lot of balls either behind his receiver or at their knees. He just happens to have receivers with very good hands. Stovall and Fasano are both solid, and Samardzija is damn good. Take away any of those guys and Quinn's numbers would be hurting.

After all that criticism of the Irish QB, I would still argue that ND is a better squad than State. I watched ND-State game. There were two things that lost the game for the Irish. First, they went to half-time 2 minutes early. The game was tied 17-17 when the Spartans got the ball back with about under 2 minutes left. The Irish defense looked like they checked out for the half and completely collapsed, leading to a State touchdown and a 24-17 lead at halftime. Second, 18 seconds into the second half, Sir Darean Adams picked off Quinn and ran it back for 7. 31-17 State lead. The Irish battled back from a 21 point deficit to tie the game before losing in OT. They did this by playing good, solid defense. The Spartans have a good offense, but ND shut them down. State switched to a soft, prevent defense and the Irish exploited it masterfully. A lot of that difference, I believe, comes from the coaching style. John L. Smith is a lot more of a conservative, college style approach. Use the offense behind Drew Stanton to score a lot of points, then play it safe. Charlie Weis just came from the New England Patriots. He takes risks (went for it several times on 4th down). And he knows how to keep a team focused on getting the work done. That was how they came back. The OT put the nail in the coffin, but the combination of the TD before the half and the interception-turned-TD made the difference. Take those 14 points away and this would have been an Irish victory.


At 11:50 AM, Blogger the fiddlin' fool said...

Since when were you into sports?

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Christina said...

Wow, look at you, the Irish fan! After living in the Bend for 20+ years, I've learned to love to hate them most days....

How about them Hoosiers this year? :)

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I've been a football fan since the mid-80s. We would watch the Colts' games, then go outside and pretend we were Chris Chandler getting sacked. Hehe... The Colts really sucked back then. I became a Notre Dame football fan shortly thereafter. Loved watching the Rocket back in the Lou Holtz days. I'm glad to see them good again.

Christina, are you serious? 3-0 is good, but it's been against Central Michigan, Nicholls State, and Kentucky. If they manage to avoid getting blown out by Wisconsin, I'll be impressed...

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Christina said...

I know, I know...but a girl can dream, right? Stranger things have happened.

ND was the best with Holtz and the Rocket. They were so fun to watch back then.


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