Sunday, September 11, 2011

the bloomington report

Alright!  That was fun, wasn't it?  Well, first it was fun, then it was not fun at all, then it was fun again.  Now we have to try and make some sense of it, which is what I'm paid (nothing) to do.

Actually, the fun factor was off the charts.  If you've never been to IU you probably expect a pretty docile tailgate scene and not a whole of people in the stadium.  I hadn't, so I did.  Especially for an objectively crappy nonconference opponent.  Maybe it was because it was the first home game of the year for the Hoosiers, but the attendance was perfectly good (even if the stadium wasn't quite full) and Indiana has a really nice tailgating zone in the trees and grass very near the stadium.  Hell, the Hoosiers even came out in special new white helmets.  I'm always kind of excited when the other team thinks we're a good enough occasion to break out a crowd-pleaser like that.  (I, as well as my IU-alum cousin and some of those around me, liked the white helmets, and all for the same reason: it makes them not look like Oklahoma.)  Other than the passive-aggressive note left on my windshield that said (among other things) "go Hookees" the IU crowd is a friendly and enjoyable bunch.  (I bet if you dissed their basketball you'd find their nasty side, though.)  So I highly recommend a Bloomington road trip for those with spare time.

I wasn't having very much fun, though, when the ball popped out of Perry Jones's hands near midfield.  I saw the scoop; I didn't see the score, because I didn't especially feel like making the effort to stand up in the sea of Hoosier crimson around me.  Neither did the elderly-ish Hoos in front of me.  It was party time in Bloomington and that was affirmed when Mike Rocco threw a pick and set up the Hoosiers for yet another touchdown drive.  I spent that drive meditating upon field goals that should have been touchdowns and other Things That Come Back To Haunt You.

It was very rude of me, if perhaps understandable at that point, to sort of expect Rocco to throw his third pick of the night in the attempt to lead the game-tying drive.  As the history books show, he didn't, and my stupor gradually gave way, completion by completion, to renewed interest.  I reassured my cousin that a minute and a half was more than plenty of time for our defense to screw things up - you know how things are with our defense - and that statement probably fell on deaf ears because it was drowned out by the sound of Cam Johnson going RAAAWWWRRR.  I'm sure that's the actual noise he made when he ate Wright-Baker's head and gathered the ball from his very surprised hands.  Such is the theater that brings us back to college football week after week.

Some football observations:

-- You have to give Jim Reid a ton of credit for the play call that resulted in Johnson's grab.  Johnson lined up wide, outside of Laroy Reynolds who was almost a defensive end by positioning.  Reynolds occupied the left tackle, who ignored Johnson entirely.  Technically it was a blitz since the linebacker was rushing, but it looked nothing like one.  Very well-disguised and a terrific play to call with an empty backfield; Reid won that round of rock-paper-scissors in a very big way.

-- Was it Justin Renfrow that blocked the field goal on IU's first possession?  I think so.  We have much defensive tackles.

-- If Robert Randolph isn't making a few Groza Award people look his direction, then there's no such thing as the Groza Award.

-- Seriously, good for Mike Rocco.  That was an awesome drive with the chips down.  For a true sophomore in his first year starting - or even for a senior but especially for a sophomore - it was a helluva thing to do.  I'm glad I don't have to worry about how the team will respond to adversity.  They screwed up a few big things but because they won it means I don't go into them in detail.  They did screw up some things, though, and it warms my heart that in the end it didn't matter because resilience > mistakes.  Yeah, OK.  IU isn't actually good.  You have to build your confidence somehow, though.  Everything is harder to do when you've never done it before, and coming back after blowing a big lead is no exception.

-- That guy Wright-Baker is damn slippery, but he could not throw a downfield ball to save his life.  IU will have a very good quarterback if he learns to throw more consistently like he did on IU's final touchdown, in which Demetrious Nicholson's coverage was not bad at all.

Prediction summary and the rest of the weekend review tomorrow.  It does not look good for the good guys in the prediction department.

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