Oktoberfest is in full swing and so is the 2011 college football season. After a sluggish first, the last two have been shit hot. This week has the look to continue that streak, if not surpass the previous fortnight. I want everyone to pause for a second. In the middle of all these games and conference realignment, take a breath and relax. Let's stop and enjoy the sights, the sounds before we look up and it's late October. We all go hard for these glorious 4 months. Take a second, bask in it, because before you know it, it's those long 8 months following 18-year-olds, Fulmer Cup updates and bogus forty times again.
There have been quite a few off the field stories this year. A coach nicknamed the senator caught in a lie. A litany of NCAA infractions, some even involving yachts and prostitutes. But the one story that has captured everyone's imagination has been expansion.
This narrative this year begins with Texas and Texas A&M. Texas A&M applied to join SEC in anger because Texas owns a bigger piece of the Big XII's revenue than anyone else, and because of the Longhorn Network. Texas A&M to the SEC is pretty much a done deal, and the Big XII is sure to die or suffer the fate of being a zombie conference like the Big East. This past weekend the ACC accepted Syracuse and Pittsburgh in what was a pro-active move to ensure survival. While some have lamented that we didn't add football powers it is my belief the move should be applauded.
Conference expansion, like most things in the world, is driven by money and affects a lot more than just what football/basketball teams a school plays. The biggest revenue driver in collegiate athletics is football. That's why it is the chief concern influencing all sports as well as academic association between schools. Right now there are 6 major BCS conferences that garner most of the money from the major bowls as well as have the biggest TV contracts. Both greed and fear are influencing these movements.
After a long drive back to the DC suburbs and a full day of discussing health information technology at the AHRQ Conference, my brain has had some difficulty digesting the game from Saturday. During the game, I found my focus wandering, as I had difficulty watching the offensive line as closely as I do when I watch the game on film. Hence, I am going to do a "post game thoughts" post, and I will follow it up when I have a chance to watch the video of the game.
I did not see that one coming. Nope, not even an inkling. And I challenge anyone who reads this to look me square in the eye and tell me that they thought the ACC was going to be the conference that started the super-conference dominos falling.
I, like most Hokies following the realignment discussions and rumors, was worried that Virginia Tech would get left behind in some bastardized version of the ACC and Big East. That once the Pac 12 went to 16, the SEC would feel compelled to do so, as well. If the SEC was going to go to 16, there's no way they get there without poaching a few ACC schools, and there's no way I want to be apart of an ACC sans Clemson and Florida State.
Marshall is located in Huntington, West Virginia and was founded in 1837. It is named after John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice of the United States, and they have never beaten rival West Virginia in football. They can brag about having some pretty famous alumni. Billy Crystal and Brad Dourif attended, as well as a great deal of athletes. In 2009 we rushed for 444 yards against the Thundering Herd; David Wilson accounted for 165 of those yards on just 12 carries. So what are we eating while looking forward to the possibility of DW4's first 200 yard rushing game? Well if you are headed to Huntington you could stop by Triple D classic HillBilly Hotdogs and order the Thundering Herd Dog. A hot dog covered with Habanero sauce, nacho cheese, chili sauce, jalapeños, onions and slaw. If you don't want to spend the game visiting the restroom, then I came up with another recipe for you. In honor of Marco the Bison we are making Kelly green chili bison burgers.
Solid showing on Saturday. I think there's a ton of positives to take away from it.
The Red Devils wanted to stop the run and they did a decent job doing so. Despite their dedication, we saw a few flashes of DW4's brilliance. Logan threw the ball well for the most part.
Hated to see Dyrell go down, but I'm glad we'll all get to enjoy him play in Lane again. Here's to a speedy and healthy recovery...
But let's talk about everyone who played on Saturday:
1. Antone Exum - I see the back of his jersey too much for comfort. But considering he's early in his second season, I think he's doing a fine job. He showed off some good tackling skills, that's for sure.
2. Josh Oglesby - Not a lot of running room for the senior on Saturday, but a couple of nice carries.
3. Logan Thomas - I believe he's going to be the guy we all think he can be. He made some really nice throws. The skill set is there and everything is going to fall into place the more he goes at it. But time is running out before it gets real serious.
4. David Wilson - Saturday proved that he is actually a human. But if that's human for David Wilson, we're in pretty good shape. I'm sure he'd call it a down day because he didn't hit 100 yards, but he was vital to the offense's success.
Editor's Note: Moved to the front, the other side of the coin. --Joe
Call me a traitor, I can take it.
USA, USA, USA via @zegolf
The Arkansas State offensive gameplan seemed very similar to the one we intended to execute against ECU. However, the coaches weren't forced to scrap the pass in favor of the run. We came out throwing Saturday, 33 times in all, 9 of 12 times to start a series. Logan had a good game. He completed 63% of his passes, only 8-yards shy of 300 with a couple of scores and picks. He made some great throws and bad decisions, but at the end of the day it was a big step forward.
I'm learning it's a lot easier to be critical of what we're trying to do on offense while it's happening. I see the big picture clearer after I watch the game a second time. I liked how O'Cain mixed in some screens, kept an almost 50-50 balance of run pass (33-40) and controlled the clock for more than 36 minutes. I thought the running game lacked an inside presence though. We still need to be able to run against a crowded box, because we won't be able to run to the sideline everytime against faster defenses like Clemson and Miami. I still believe Thomas is going to be the guy doing the majority of the dirty work between the tackles, and the option game is the best vehicle for that. There was less of that against Arkansas State than ECU, perhaps because the game was in hand for the majority of the sixty minutes.
Three games into the season and a young defense looks like a group of wily veterans. After the slow start last year, I was worried it would take this unit some time to mature. They've been pretty spectacular out of the gate. Defensively the game reminded me of the Orange Bowl against Cincinatti. We made a mistake, got behind, then held our ground for the rest of the afternoon. We didn't put on a clinic like against ECU, but considering Arkansas State has better skill players a shutout for 48 minutes is damn impressive.
Here are some specifics that caught my attention while rewatching the game.