Thursday, November 12, 2009

Two Dudes, One Post...11/12/09

Time for your weekly dose of Two Dudes, One Post. If you've got questions to submit email them to

1. LaGarrette Blount was reinstated by Oregon on Monday. How do you think the entire situation was handled start to finish?

Mattare: When Blount was almost immediately suspended for the year I applauded Chip Kelly and Oregon for taking decisive action. Those that said "it's too harsh a punishment" were absolutely out of their mind. It wasn't the punch that got him his lengthy suspension—it was the fact that he acted like a complete lunatic and charged into the stands after a Boise State fan. Did Ron Artest get too harsh a sentence for his role in the brawl at the Palace? Blount was handed a punishment he absolutely deserved.

That being said, I do believe the University did a great job with this entire process. By dropping the hammer right away they diffused external pressure from the fans, media, and the NCAA governing body. Behind the scenes they opened the door to the possibility of a reinstatement and provided strict guidelines for Blount to follow. The reasoning behind this was the thought that the incident could be used as an opportunity to teach a lesson and allow him the opportunity to redeem himself. Chip Kelly made it clear he would not become eligible before the Ducks' showdown with USC which reinforced the plan's genuineness. Everyone associated with the school should be very proud of how the program's leadership handled such a unique and unfortunate situation, couldn't have been handled any better.

Bill: Well, the US loves to forgive athletes. He threw one punch and absolutely deserved to get suspended the 8 games that he did. But let's not forget he was provoked at midfield by a Boise State player before he clocked the dude. Not an excuse, but he didn't seek this guy out. I think if he doesn't try to go after a fan the suspension is only 4 games.

2. It was upset galore in the Top 25 this past weekend. Most were surprising—which one was the LEAST surprising?

Mattare: I'm not surprised by Stanford upsetting Oregon, but to me the least surprising was Iowa tripping up against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes had been walking a tight rope all year (everyone has seen that stat showing how they were trailing in almost every game) and eventually they were bound to fall. After watching their performance at home against Indiana--where Ricky Stanzi had six turnovers and the combination of refs and fantastic luck turned the tide in what was becoming a Hoosier blowout--I told Dip (an Iowa law student) that this team was losing two games in the regular season.

The only team I can remember that went an entire season living on the edge without slipping up was Ohio State in 2002. Now comes the tough part for Iowa: they must regroup and find a way to stop a promising season from collapsing. Going into last week they were in perfect position for a Rose Bowl berth. Now the trip to the Horseshoe this week becomes a must win. Something tells me the momentum will start heading the wrong direction fast on the Hawkeyes.

Bill: I'm tempted to say Penn State despite my confidence in us before the game. When I look back it really makes sense that we lost: we're not good. But anyway, to answer the question: Iowa losing to Northwestern. The Wildcats are solid, they have the Hawkeyes number and Iowa was just due. The whole country knew it, their luck ran out.

3. The top three teams in the country are pretty clear cut: Florida, Alabama, and Texas. Break them down and pick your horse for the home stretch.

Mattare: I agree with the statement that they're the three best teams in the country but they all have flaws. Florida's offense reverts back to the 2007 version of "snap Tebow the ball, see Tebow run, go Tebow go" sometimes. The Alabama offense has been pretty anemic even with Heisman candidate Mark Ingram thanks in large part to a big dip in production from quarterback Greg McElroy (9:1 TD to INT ratio for first five games, 2:3 for the last four). Texas suddenly woke up after the Red River Rivalry and plowed through Missouri and Okie State, but how good are they? One could argue they really haven't played a high quality opponent all year and their offense becomes rather pedestrian when you can bottle up Jordan Shipley (twice as many receptions and three times as many yards as their #2 receiver).

If I have to hitch my wagon to one team though I'm going with the Crimson Tide. First of all, while Greg McElroy's been shaky as of late, he has shown he's capable of stepping up in the clutch (see: Virginia Tech game). Next, they have Mark Ingram to lean on--he's a stud capable of carrying a team and breaking a defense late in games. Lastly--and the biggest reason--is the combination of Rolando McClain and Terrance Cody. The duo has led a devastating defense that has given up 20 points only once since the opening game (Kentucky scored 20). I think when it comes down to it they'll be able to bottle up Tebow in the SEC Championship and roll over whoever their open ends up being in Pasadena.

Florida. Let's not make things too complicated, their defense is the best in the country and they have Tebow. Colt McCoy may fill up the stat sheet better but Boy Wonder can convert in short yardage situations and won't ever let his team take a play off. Tough to argue with that. The one advantage of Florida dialing back the offensive gameplan is that they don't show much. That's not their intention of course—they are missing Percy Harvin—but they are in a position to throw some new looks at Bama and whoever they play in the title game should they get there.

4. From reader Bob Kessler: "It seems as if it's almost a foregone conclusion that the national title will be a matchup between Texas and the SEC champion. Suppose something crazy happens and Texas doesn't make it to Pasadena, who would be the most deserving team and who would you most want to see?"

Mattare: Out of the pack of remaining undefeated teams, the most deserving one would probably be Cincinnati. If they run the table they'll have beaten Rutgers, Oregon State, South Florida, and Pitt...and all on the road. The team I'd most like to see though is TCU. I feel most people that don't have a vested interest in a specific team in contention would love to see a David vs Goliath matchup and this David packs a potent punch. I don't think they'd match up well with either of the SEC teams, but I'd love to see what their swarming defense could do against the Longhorns.

Bill: In the spirit of completely giving up on this season, TCU vs Georgia Tech. I don't hate either of these teams, and it would be interesting to see a non Big Six school go.

5. Rough Saturday for both of you. What went wrong with your teams this weekend and what does it mean going forward?

Mattare: Where do you want me to start? There were two main things. First and foremost, we were totally inept in the red zone. In six trips we registered the worst kind of cycle: a fumble, an interception, a missed field goal, and a turnover on downs. That is a complete and utter failure that's even worse when you remember it was against Navy. When you move up and down the field at will like we did (512 yards of total offense, 0 punts) and walk away with just 21 points you deserve to lose. The second problem was the fact that we allowed their fullbacks to shred us for 210 yards on 19 carries (11.1 ypc), most of it right down the heart of our defense. Lou Holtz used to say that when the fullback is effective in the triple option there's no stopping it. That proved pretty true Saturday. We looked totally unprepared to deal with it and judging by the post-game comments by the Navy head coach and our own players that was exactly the case.

What does it mean going forward? This loss was a mortal wound to this season and this coaching staff. The fragile confidence that Charlie had built up among the fan base has been shattered and all the momentum on the field and the recruiting trail has come to a screeching halt. Notre Dame fans are through arguing over whether Charlie should stay or go now--they're debating who his replacement will be. Losing to Navy twice in three years is totally indefensible and even a huge Weis supporter like myself finds it impossible to come up with an excuse at this juncture. This was absolutely the worst thing that could have happened to our program.

Bill: What happened with Penn State is that we're not that good. I wish Iowa would've beaten us like Ohio State did, then I wouldn't have had to wait 9 weeks to see if we were any good. After the Iowa game you could point to certain plays and say "This is where things went wrong." When Ohio State whooped us, there was no turning point. We just got exposed. Our line is bad and our QB missed throws you cannot miss. I'm already thinking about next year.

It. Is. So. Far. Away.

I say this realizing that we might still snag a BCS at large bid. But we don't deserve it. I think we're heading in the right direction actually. I really haven't had a huge problem with the play calling this year; it’s frustrating at times but compared to past seasons we're definitely throwing more and finding a passing identity. We lack the talent of a top 5 team. Our safeties are a serious problem and our disjointed offensive line is filled with mid-level talent, I mentioned earlier this year that the two biggest offensive line recruits of the past 4 years never ended up playing a down, you can't help but wonder what kind of impact that really had on us.

Interesting situation at quarterback next season. Kevin Newsome is the "incumbent" but he only has one year on the two studs coming in - Paul Jones and Robert Boldin. It's easy to point out that Joe prefers not to start a freshman QB, but why not if he's the second most experienced QB on the roster and he beats the guy ahead of him? This is just a situation where I could see it happening.


Mattare: Bobby Bowden admitted he lost track of the score during the FSU-Clemson game...twice. Which is more likely at this point: him putting together a gameplan or him making it through an episode of Price is Right without dozing off?

Bill: Him putting together a gameplan, because the price is right is titillating and no one should fall asleep during it.

Bill: Who do you think has been the program of the decade?

Mattare: As much as it pains me to say it's USC. 7 Pac 10 titles, 3 Heismans (until Bush’s is vacated), 1.5 national championships…God I hate them.

Mattare: No love for the Nittanys in Joe Lunardi's first edition of bracketology, DEFEND YA BOYS.

Bill: Mr. Lunardi doesn't mean to be so blind; he doesn't see the havoc PSU's backcourt of Battle/Frazier/Babb is about to wreak on the nation.

Bill: I have let LaDanian deteriorate my fantasy team for 4 years now. Wanna trade for him? (Please)

Mattare: Dip offered you a package that included DeAngelo awhile back. He who hesitates is lost. Enjoy rotting in our division's basement.

Mattare: Super Bowl announced that The Who's two surviving members will be the halftime show this year. How incredibly unexcited are you?

Bill: Very unexcited, but other people feel differently. This is a good sign for me in 20 years however, maybe the super bowl will bring a 60 year old Snoop Dogg out.

Bill: Each of us are finishing this post from work, which means we're not at college. Words of wisdom for the students that only have 2 games in the student section left in their lifetime?

Mattare: Share it with your classmates—no girlfriends/hometown friends. Get up to tailgate extra early. Stay thru the alma mater. Drown your sorrow postgame.

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