Saturday 10 November 2007
Now back to football: UGA 45, Auburn 20. (Satisfying. Oh, so satisfying. It was the most points anyone had scored on Auburn since we hung 56 on them over a decade ago. And this is the first time that UGA has scored 40 or more points in a game in 3 consecutive games since the 1940s.)
This was the last UGA game of the season that I will be attending. I'll be missing next week's game so that I can travel to the Dolphins vs. Eagles contest in Philadelphia. Fitting, I suppose, that the fans all wore black to the game this week to mark my passing.
Thursday 8 November 2007
A friend of mine has been complaining that too many of my recent blog postings have had to do with football. So, to honor the wishes of my dear friend, this posting has nothing to do with football.
Saturday 3 November 2007
Dogs win for homecoming! Bulldogs 44, Troy 34. I think this game had just about everything that you could've asked for in a football game. An F-14 flyover, an enthusiastic crowd, and an alumni band and cheerleader squad. Not to mention that for the better part of 4 quarters, it was anybody's game.
But it shouldn't pass without controversy. Down 10 points and losing yards to penalties and a suddenly swarming Bulldog defense, Troy's coach, Larry Blakeney, seemed to give up late in the fourth quarter when his team chose not to attempt to convert a 3rd and 29 from their own 16 yard line, instead opting for a short yardage run up the middle to set up the punt. Invigorated by Troy's decision to give up the game, the Bulldogs returned the punt to Troy's 2 yard line, from which they easily scored their final touchdown to drive the victory margin up to 17 points.
Troy's next possession was a quick 4 and out. No attempt to punt, but it certainly appeared that since the coach had given up on the team, the team didn't care to play anymore. And why should they? What was the point if the coach had already thrown in the towel on the game? Taking advantage of the situation, the Bulldogs ate another about half the remaining time off the clock and gave the ball back to Troy with more than 2 minutes remaining. That's when things got weird.
For their final drive, Troy put in their second string. And drove the ball down the field. When they reached the UGA 35 yard line, they took a timeout with 34 seconds remaining. Two plays later, having reached the UGA 4 yard line, they took their second timeout with 18 seconds remaining. Failing to score, they took their final timeout with a mere 11 seconds remaining. That's right: eleven seconds in the game. Down 17 points. With the second team in the game. Troy called their third timeout. Sure, on the next play they scored. But with so little time remaining, the game was over.
The question becomes why Troy's coach called those last two timeouts on consecutive plays with less than 18 seconds in the game. The likely answer was to ensure that he scored another touchdown to keep the margin of victory at 10 points. He called those timeouts not to win the game, which with a mere 11 seconds remaining is essentially impossible, but to ensure the scoring of the touchdown. (Note that after the score, with 5 seconds on the clock, he chose not to onside kick, but rather to kick a regular kickoff 40 yards deep to kill the remaining clock.) In the Coach's own words to ESPN following the game:
"The crowd that stayed booed us for trying to execute, which was funny," Blakeney said. "I think we certainly had the potential to win, and I doubt we'll get any quick invites back here."
Sir, we didn't boo you for trying to execute, we booed you for wasting our time.
"The potential to win"? Down 17 points with only 18 seconds left, victory is all but impossible. Certainly, I am completely unaware of any time when such a large margin was overcome so late in a football game. In an earlier game today, Clemson scored 16 points in 39 seconds (two touchdowns separated by a safety), a rare and amazing scoring pace that is one fewer point than what Troy needed in more than twice the time. Clemson running back Cullin Harper said of Clemson's performance, "that's the fastest I've ever seen 16 points scored." By comparison, Clemson's all-time fastest back-to-back touchdowns were scored just 14 seconds apart. But two touchdowns is still fewer points than Troy needed at that point in the game. Seventeen points is at least three scores.
Since the coach had all but given up the game two possessions earlier, and he had replaced his starting players with second-stringers, there are only three possibilities. One is that he intended to give his second-string players some experience. This possibility is a necessary evil of football and would not require a lie to cover it up. Another possibility is that he wished to ensure that the record books didn't include such a lopsided score. Unpleasant and selfish, but understandable. But the worst of all is the possibility that the coach was gambling on his team. Or at least encouraging it.
After the game I checked and found that at most Las Vegas casinos, the spread on the game was between 14 or 15 points in the Bulldog's favor. By struggling to score that last touchdown, Coach Blakeney was ensuring that his team would beat the spread. This no doubt won money for gamblers backing Troy and the spread. However, beating the spread serves no purpose on the field of play and should never be the concern of a coach or a team of players. It's an embarrassing day when the head coach of a highly touted (reigning Sun-Belt Conference champion) Division-IA football team is more concerned about beating a gambling spread than winning his game. Embarrassing and disgraceful.
There is at least one thing that I agree with Coach Blakeney about. I also certainly doubt that UGA will extend any more invites to have Troy back, either.
Friday 2 November 2007
While doing some work in front of the television, I watched Match Game 75 on the Game Show Network. A little old lady played for two rounds wherein she gave some of the worst answers ever. Originally, I had planned to just list them here. Instead, I've embedded them in the following game simulation. The contestant got zero correct in the episode. See if you can't do better. (My apologies to Joyce Bulifant. I gave her the answers that the idiot contestant gave to make the game more playable. In this episode, for a change, Joyce gave reasonable answers.)
Saturday 27 October 2007
If you've been paying attention this week, you've gotten the message: the Dolphins suck. The lingering question is "why?" Dolphins' owner Wayne Huizenga has been on the offensive this week, meeting with the Miami Herald and making a few interesting statements:
''Is Cam [Cameron, Dolphins Head Coach] a mistake? I don't think so, but it's too soon to tell. I don't think you can blame everything that's happening now on Cam.''
''It's tough because Randy's been here two years and when Randy [Mueller, Dolphins General Manager] was here, Nick [Saban, previous Dolphins Head Coach] made all the decisions.''
Looks like we're going to blame Nick Saban for our current mess. Sure, Saban was a piece-of-shit who lied about a few things and broke his undeserved megabucks-contract to flee the NFL for the comfy confines of a megabucks-contract Alabama. Sure, Saban's personnel decisions were questionable. (And that's a generous evaluation.) And worst of all, Saban was a lousy coach, unable to motivate or game-plan on an NFL level.
But should we be crucifying Saban, who has had nothing to do with the team since January for our winless record this year? Is it Saban's fault that we drafted a wide-out with a history of injury when that was far from our weakest position? Is it Saban's fault that returning Defensive Coordinator Dom Caper's defense (YPG) has fallen from 4th last year to 27th this year? Is it Saban's fault that the Dolphins have started going through coaches (Johnson, Wannastadt, Bates, Saban, Cameron) like some teams go through tear-away jerseys?
Don't get me wrong. I don't like Saban. That guy started to piss me off during his first month on the job. But the Dolphins have been on the wrong road for awhile now. Hmmm. Since about 1993, when the Dolphins loaded up on expensive free agent talent in a season that was bound to prove only that you can't win by loading up only on expensive free agent talent. The team also renamed Joe Robbie Stadium (named for the late Dolphins owner) Pro Player Park in an effort to generate more cash. Really, nothing much but downhill from there. What else happened that year? Oh, that's right: Wayne Huizenga took full ownership of the team. Coincidence? Or was that Nick Saban's fault as well?
Friday 26 October 2007
Dolphins' outside linebacker Channing Crowder made news today by admitting that he couldn't find London on a world map. While many suspect that the affable Crowder was likely kidding, many others have taken the opportunity to ridicule him. Crowder is an Atlanta native who played college ball for >shudder< Florida where he majored in "Social and Behavioral Sciences" before abandoning education for the NFL as a Junior. So long as Crowder can find the ball on Sunday, I'm prefectly willing to ignore his checkered past and dubious education. (Especially if the Bulldogs can pull out an upset win against his Gators in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party this Saturday. Go Dawgs!)
Thursday 25 October 2007
Two days ago, I mentioned that there were 6 Miami Dolphins players highlighted on the NFLLondon.com website. I mentioned the first 5, including the fact that 3 of them would not be playing in London. Now it seems that number six won't be making the trip, either.
Player number 6 is Zach Thomas. Earlier this season, Zach missed 2 games due to lingering effects from a concussion. But it's not any on-the-field injury or team intrigue that will keep Thomas from playing this Sunday. No, he was hit by a car following the game last week. More accurately, his car was hit by another car. (That's right: after suffering an embarrassing beating, losing 49-28 to the rival New England Patriots, Zach Thomas' truck was rear-ended. That's a great conclusion to a great day, eh?) It is the whiplash from that accident that has kept Thomas out of practice this week and off the plane when the Dolphins fly to London today.
I suppose that when it rains, it pours.
Wednesday 24 October 2007
Just in time for a trip to London, defensive end Quentin Moses signed with the Miami Dolphins. Moses, a native of Athens, Georgia, played college ball for the University of Georgia (where he majored in -- I'm not kidding -- "Recreation and Leisure Studies") and was oft-bestowed lauded All-American honors. The highly-decorated collegian was the 65th pick overall and the highest draft pick of 2007 who did not make the cut for his drafting team, the Oakland Raiders, aka the 2006 Worst Team in the NFL. He has since been signed and released by the Arizona Cardinals, the All-Time Worst Team in the NFL. Now that he is on the roster for the team tied for the title of 2007 Worst Team in the NFL, I'm sure his fortunes will not improve.
Moses is a defensive end, one of the few positions that the Dolphins don't really need much help with. The team has now picked-up 5 defensive linemen in the past week. This is just another sign that the Dolphins are looking for young, inexpensive talent to replace their few remaining stars. In this case, Jason Taylor. Moses is made in the same mold as Taylor, and many around the League think he could mature into a great player with proper training and patience, two things he won't likely be getting in Miami, if recent history is any guide.
As for Taylor, despite being talented and popular enough to be the model for a giant robot stalking the streets of London, he's not good enough to remain a Dolphin. Rumors circulate that Taylor will be traded in the off-season to open up more room for young talent. It's good to know that's how the Dolphins these days reward their most talented and fan-favorite players: ship them off to the highest bidder. Taylor was publicly mulling over retirement after last season. I don't image that he'll have much incentive to stay in the League now. So no matter how it plays out, the Dolphins lose: either we trade Jason Taylor and lose a still-productive star, or Taylor, insulted by the Dolphins' trade-talks retires (a la Jake Plummer) and we lose the trade value. After the way the team mishandled the Daunte Culpepper situation last year, why should we expect any better treatment for Taylor?
Tuesday 23 October 2007
As I mentioned 2 days ago, the Miami Dolphins will be playing the New York Giants in London this weekend. I just took a look at NFLLondon2007.com, the official website of the game. The first three of six players highlighted to introduce the Dolphins to an unfamiliar British crowd are, in order, Trent Green, Ronnie Brown, and Chris Chambers, none of whom will be playing for the Dolphins come Sunday. (Green and Brown are out for the season with injuries and Chambers was traded last week.) Number four on the list is Ted Ginn, Jr, who has only 6 catches (and zero touchdowns) through the first seven weeks of the season. Wait'll they get a load of us!
On the upside, the 5th name on the list is Jason Taylor, the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and NFL's all-time leader in touchdowns scored by a defensive lineman. To promote the game in London, the NFL has constructed a 26-feet tall animatronic Jason Taylor -- "the worlds largest ever animatronic human" -- dubbed "Big JT." It looks TOTALLY BADASS. No doubt it will be shown on TV this weekend. You can see a brief video of Big JT in action on NFLUK.com. (Note that in the video, when asked to predict the game's winning team, Christian Slater, star of Kuffs, says, "Well, I grew up in New York so, uh, I've always been, uh, uh, a huge Giants and Jets fan, so, uh, I'm just excited to be here." Eloquent. And pointless, just like Slater's career.) The NFL's official pics are available in a slideshow at MiamiDolphins.com. If you'd prefer a longer, more boring video of the robot in action (but without Christian Slater), check out YouTube. Or, if you're into this sort of thing (as I am), check out the website of the SFX company that made the titan, Artem, LTD.
Monday 22 October 2007
Yesterday, backup QB Sage Rosenfels replaced the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans followng an injury. Should Rosenfels start for the team next week, he will be the 6th ex-Dolphin quarterback to start for a team other than the Dolphins this season. (Daunte Culpepper for the Raiders; Gus Frerotte, Rams; Brian Griese, Bears; Joey Harrington, Falcons; Damon Huard, Chiefs; and Rosenfels.) Since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season, the Dolphins have had 11 different starting quarterbacks in 8 seasons. Of those eleven, 2 remain on the Dolphins' roster (Trent Green on Injured Reserve and Cleo Lemon, our starter) and 2 have retired (Jay Fiedler and Ray Lucas). That leaves only 1 ex-starting Dolphin in a position to start for another team this season: A.J. Feeley, benchwarmer for Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles. (Before Feeley was a starting quarterback for the Dolphins, he was the back-up to Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles.) With Feeley riding pine behind an injury-prone McNabb, could I dare to dream that every active ex-starting Dolphin quarterback could start a game during the 2007 season?
The Miami Dolphins: spreading bad quarterbacking throughout the National Football League since 2000.
On a side note, Jason Garrett, one of the backup quarterbacks that appeared on a Dolphins roster in 2004 but who never took a snap for the team in a game, is now the Offensive Coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, which has one of the best offenses in the League right now. So our starting quarterbacks weren't good enough to start for us, but they are good enough to start for everyone else, and our backup quarterbacks weren't good enough to take a snap for us but are good enough to engineer winning teams for other organizations. So the question becomes: why does everyone suck when they are a Dolphin? I'm not really sure I'm ready for the answer to that question.