Sunday, October 6, 2013


I got kind of sick this weekend.  I had a fever on Friday and woke up Saturday feeling like I'd gone ten rounds with Joe Louis.  Fever, chills, achiness all over, there was a swollen gland thingy in my neck the size of a strawberry, and general malaise and complete lack of motivation.  The weird thing is, as of yet, I never had a cough, sore throat, runny nose, or the usual unpleasantries that come from being sick.  Just no desire whatsoever to move around.  I could function if I made myself want to, but I couldn't muster up the want-to.

This sounds like a terrible way to spend a weekend, you think.  Rotten luck that you didn't get sick on a Wednesday or something.  Actually it's better than it sounds - since I didn't have any very special plans anyway, I had all the reason I needed to droop around in pajamas and never leave my big comfy recliner, occasionally napping, and taking in all the college football I could handle, not to mention October baseball (GO TIGERS).  And since I had nothing better to do, that turned out to be plenty.  If I'd had to deal with this on a weekday, I'd've been expected to look like I cared about stuff.

There isn't some neat and trim narrative that ties all this in to the Ball State game, by the way.  Just telling you a story about something I liked better than watching our defense make a fool of me.

I don't know what I'm supposed to think about giving up 48 points like that.  Even if there were a few short-field situations, there were enough long-field drives to lose the game without ever being dropped into lousy field position by the offense.  And that's surprising.  After dominating the line of scrimmage last week, the D-line couldn't shed any blocks this week.  They were just as undisciplined as the offense, which displayed no interest in hanging on to the ball.  I don't care if you are supposed to be blitzing, jumping the line of scrimmage is never excusable.

When you think about it, though, maybe I shouldn't be surprised.  I've been harping about the lack of accountability on things like Dominique Terrell's continued boneheaded decisions.  Thankfully we were spared having him back there on punt returns, but it's not really about Terrell in the end.  It's that London, in being too much of a players' coach, has succeeded in creating an atmosphere where guys know it'll be OK if they make mistakes.  As much as he bloviates in press conferences about "getting that fixed" I do not see anything different than the same ol' shit.  Three and a half seasons into London's tenure and there's no discipline.  Maybe Tom O'Brien, Marine stalwart that he is, and Jon Tenuta, a notorious stickler, can right that ship.  They have about 19 more games to do so.  London, though, is not a disciplinarian, and at this stage, probably never will be.

Stuff in briefer:

-- Kevin Parks's "fumble" I don't totally blame him for.  I mean, hang on to the ball so you don't give the refs the chance to screw up.  But that wasn't a fumble.  The way the rules are written, refs won't blow the whistle because they know if they rule the player down, it's not reviewable.  But if they call a fumble, it can always be overturned in replay.  It seems to me that there shouldn't be a case in which one call is reviewable and its opposite is not - it tilts the balance unfairly.  If you started with a clean slate, without a call one way or the other to revert to when you decide you don't care enough to look for evidence, you wouldn't have called that a fumble.

-- I hope all the people bitching about Steve Fairchild's "vanilla" offense are happy.  There is nothing vanilla about the offense, which often runs from a pistol and at a couple points featured stacked receivers on both sides of the formation, and frankly it ought to have been far less interesting than it was.  The running backs were just this side of dominant, and Fairchild declined to take advantage.  You just scored a touchdown by run-hammering your way down the field, so yeah, the logical thing to do next is go pass-happy.  One positive of this game is that the run-blocking was highly improved.  But the next one of you that says the word "vanilla" I'm gonna strangle.

-- Oh by the way, if it weren't totally obvious by now, don't make plans for the postseason.

-- Yes, I'm starting to get tired of the London era.  Watching this same undisciplined crap, never being able to put together a good, concrete, firing-on-all-cylinders performance - London's teams are not fun to watch.  I'm a realist, though, and London isn't going anywhere this season.  That's the cold hard fact of it.  After 2014, well, we'll see how that season goes.  If it starts off the way this one has, I'll get busy evaluating replacements.

Let's go over those predictions:

-- Kevin Parks runs for over 100 yards.  He nosed over at 104.

-- The offense as a whole runs for over 125 yards.  They actually almost doubled this with 236.  Having set the bar too low here is one of the pleasant surprises of the game.  The offensive line changes are a tentative success.

-- No new favorite receivers. The receptions leader among non-RBs will be Jennings, McGee, Smith, or Terrell; nobody with fewer than nine catches.  If I'd been smart I would've said "targets leader" and not "receptions leader."  Jake McGee was targeted quite a bit, but he had a crappy game and didn't haul in everything he should've.  I'm going to give myself this one, though, as he did still tie for the receptions lead among non-RBs.

-- However, one receiver with two catches or fewer will gather in at least four.  Close but no cigar; Keeon Johnson had three, including one really nice sideline one.  Johnson, I think I like; unlike certain other receivers I've noticed, Johnson showed a willingness to help keep a play alive when his quarterback is scrambling.  He had a touchdown catch negated by a (chintzy) holding call, but good on him for helping out Watford when Watford was in trouble.

-- Ball State's top RBs, Banks and Edwards, reach neither one-half their seasonal ypc nor two-thirds their average ypg.  Uh, no.

-- Keith Wenning throws for fewer than 250 yards.  Not only no but hell no.  Wenning had 346.
In going 3-for-6 I move to 11-of-26 on the season, which is over 42%.  Better than I've done in the past.  I might be getting the hang of this.  But you lost money if you followed my overall prediction, and I'm now 2-3 both straight-up and ATS.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the offense is "vanilla", but I do think Fairchild isn't managing the offense that well. As you note, they had a dominant run game and he didn't take advantage of it.

Also, it seems like they are calling plays for Watford expecting him to be, for a lack of a better word, a play-making QB. I'm not convinced he will ever develop into one, but what is clear is that, at this juncture, he isn't there yet. He's basically an athletic game manager at this stage, and an athletic game manager with a tendency to stare down receivers, and a QB who has some receivers with inconsistent hands. What I'd love to see is some sort of power running offense that works off the play-action a bit more, or a Lazor type offense from last year that limited QB read responsibilities.

As a side note, I doubt London is fired this year either ... but ... I'm not sure who we'd be favored to beat the rest of the way. I think we'll sneak out a win, or two, but if we close out the season losing the final 9 ... I think all bets would be off on London's job security for 2014.

Anonymous said...

What's our hiring ceiling? What kind of talent can was lure to C'ville?

Anonymous said...

WTF Happened to the defense? How did they lose that much poise and discipline in a week? Did everyone telling them they were great shit get to their heads?

pezhoo said...

Holy cow, Jordan Ellis is going to love being in Charlottesville. He ran for 102 yards on 20 carries and scored 3 TDs. Nice showing. But his team was able to squander a 4th quarter lead, partially by snapping the ball over the QB's head. Peachtree also committed 12 penalties for 120 yards as they got passed silly. So Ellis will be well prepared for our program.