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Sunday Morning Quarterback

While thanking God that at least there's Kenny Mayne...

SMQ WATCHED:

Minor Raiders 20, Minor Packers 0
Deploying its patented "chaos" offense, characterized by quarterback No. 20 missing a handoff, running around the end, breaking three tackles and scampering up the sideline, the nine-and-ten-year-old Raiders stuffed the Packers, led by undersized but aggressive cousin of SMQ, who mounted a solid pass rush in the face of a surprise double team on one fourth down attempt by the Raiders and one near-textbook stalk block in addition to yeoman's work on special teams. To be fair, it should be noted the Packers were hamstrung by the loss of one high draft pick, sidelined with chicken pox; he's listed as day-to-day.

Florida 28, Alabama 13
Watching the game, with the kid's solid effort at Arkansas last week in mind, SMQ thought John Parker Wilson was pretty good, but he actually completed barely 50 percent with three interceptions. A case of the eyeballs being very wrong? Depends on whether Keith Brown's confused route on the final pick led to the interception, or it just sailed on Wilson. SMQ couldn't tell, but thought it was a good read if the two were on the same page.

Anyway, JPW didn't lead his team into the end zone and had two other picks, so SMQ obviously has no clue. Neither, though, did Alabama's defense once Tim Tebow came into the picture, even though the guy's run the exact same off-tackle play on like 95 percent of his snaps this season. This, effectively a version of the inevitable Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw anytime a wide receiver takes a shotgun snap anywhere, somehow remains a mystery. So stunned was the Tide defense, it forgot entirely that Chris Leak too can run (SMQ has always believed, after watching him take off early in his career, Leak is an underrated scrambler) and allowed an improbable 45-yarder.

SMQ knows not if what Florida's doing exactly qualifies as a "two quarterback system," but it's working (mainly because of the Gator defense, it should be noted).


Leak is on the loose!

More this week on Florida and its upcoming gauntlet from hell.

Ohio State 38, Iowa 17
SMQ has expressed doubt and given OSU some grief because of its mediocrity stopping the run, and Iowa was successful again Saturday with Albert Young and Damian Sims (combined 86 yards on 16 carries, 5.7 per), but it's about time he start giving more attention to the indefensibility of the offense, which is successfully combining the old USC's big play, pick-your-poison approach and Notre Dame's current efforts at death by paper cuts.

Friday, SMQ wrote:

Iowa Wants: Northern Illinois, Texas and, to a little bit lesser extent, Penn State, have all run the ball successfully and consistently on the rebuilt OSU front seven, and Iowa is definitely equipped with Albert Young to exploit this. If the Hawkeyes can run, Tate can be a terror in a variety of fashions, the best of which Saturday would probably resemble the controlled, tight end-oriented passing game (Scott Chandler and Young are the team's leading receivers) designed to keep Smith and Co. off the field as long as possible.

Well, Iowa ran well (see above), the primary target was Chandler (six catches, 87 yards), and the wide receivers actually chipped in with 11 receptions their own selves. All that sounds very good, even ideal.

But not when a) Tate throws three picks (which is becoming a real penchant of the OSU defense, doing the "bend-don't-break" thing) or b) the Buckeyes hold the ball for more than 40 minutes, i.e., the Iowa approach - despite averaging 5.5 per snap, to OSU's 5.3 - didn't keep the "explosive" Bucks off the field at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

There's a reason the successful run game only got 16 legit attempts, and OSU's near-identical (in terms of per carry average) efforts got fifty. Beginning midway through the second quarter, when it got the ball back up 14-10 following an exchange of three and outs, Ohio State's subsequent three real possessions looked like this:

Start    Quarter    Poss.    Yard Line    Plays    Yards    Result
07:36    2    05:09    OSU11    11    89    Passing TD
15:00    3    05:25    OSU20    11    80    Passing TD
07:42    3    07:43    OSU13    14    68    Field Goal Good

Altogether, that's 36 plays, 237 yards, more than 18 minutes and 17 points. Iowa in that span: 12 plays, 63 yards, just over three minutes and two punts. AKA, close game is over. When they can also burn you for 60 yards at pretty much any point (the long gain Saturday was 30, to Tony Gonzalez), that's not comforting for any defense.

GLIMPSES
Southern Cal is missing much from its running game compared to past seasons. This was inevitable, but official now after Steve Smith made up for Dwayne Jarrett's absence at Washington State, yet the Trojans still had to knock down a feasibly successful Hail Mary to beat a team Auburn crushed a month ago...The expected Virginia Tech-Georgia punt bog Tech didn't go quite as planned, did it? The Hokie offense opened up, but this was due pretty much entirely to its defense sudden collapse and inability to get to Reggie Ball until way, way too late, which is not a catalytic trend it wants to continue...Should Georgia's offense consider itself exposed? Based on the extenuating performances of its last two opponents, over whom the `Dawgs have barely emerged, SMQ continues to believe UGA is in for a long SEC season.

WHAT WE LEARNED
Calvin Johnson is good...Chris Leak will (rarely) run!...Tim Tebow will (rarely) throw!...Arizona State's defense is certifiably terrible, and Oregon's offense certifiably ferocious...Miami is just really very average...Boise State, even on the road, ain't no joke.

CONCEIT...
SMQ was right about...
Tabbing the prodigious output of Brady Quinn and Curtis Painter on their respective defenses was not difficult, but who else also played meteorologist on the Purdue-ND affair:

There's, uh, gonna be a lot of passing yards here. Even if it comes a-stormin' like it did in East Lansing last week

And so it was. Quinn and Painter combined for an absurd 711 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and the bottom fell out during the third quarter.

In the "variables" item of the OSU-Iowa preview, SMQ wrote:

There's good Tate and bad Tate, both of whom were present against Iowa State...Gonzalez and Ginn will probably need to have more than four catches for 31 yards.

Good Tate (249 yards, one touchdown) and gave way much more often Saturday to bad Tate (three fairly terrible interceptions), where Ginn and Gonzalez went 12 for 146 and two touchdowns (both by AG), the combination of which left the 38-17 final not too far off SMQ's 33-21 projection.

While we're on final scores, SMQ declares victory in guessing Florida 27, Alabama 16 (actual: 28-13), and is satisfied with taking Texas Tech 38, Texas A&M 24 (actual: 31-27).

...AND CONTRITION
SMQ was wrong about...

At home, the Broncos are a different team, but at improving (relative to the opening loss at UCLA) Utah, it's the Utes' multi-faceted run game by a nose.

Eh, not so much. The Utes' "multifaceted run game" was OK (4.4 per carry), but its passing game cut off the nose...and then doused the rest of the metaphorical body in kerosene and lit the match: 8-27, 52 yards, four interceptions. That's 1.9 yards per attempt, math majors, all in the service of making SMQ look like a bitter fool.

Completing the WAC-Mountain West Festival of Error, Fresno State did not "bounce back" against Colorado State, but rather thudded under three interceptions and a 35-23 loss.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
All hail the strengthening power of Calvin Johnson (6 catches, 115 yards, 2 touchdowns), an overwhelming force of nature even the methodical, almost monastic persistence of Reggie Ball and Chan Gailey has become powerless to contain. Patrick Nix is unwittingly subverting Gailey's much-honed, time-tested equilibrium, his life's work dedicated to stoic mediocrity, and wrath and unrest are certain to ensue; Maryland and Clemson, surely, will be battlegrounds for control of the Tech sideline.

Also, Garrett Wolfe (31 carries, 353 yards, 3 touchdowns), OMG WTF?!?!!! SMQ knows it's Ball State, but get real. That's three times as much as Purdue's entire team gained against the Cardinals. For paving similar paths for Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson (combined 229 yards on just 17 carries, a 13.5 average, one score), Oregon's offensive line is credited with the total demolition of Arizona State.

To Erik Ainge (24-28, 331 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 insane interceptions), you too, sir, are ridiculous.

DAS GOAT
On Thursday night, South Carolina's furious bid for momentous upset was doomed by one of the most shocking, throw-out-every-book onside kicks ever attempted, yet the `Cocks rode one of the most well-coached quarters in recent memory to the throes of overtime, dinking, dunking, scrambling, and exploiting holes in Auburn's two-deep to the greatest possible effect - until redshirt freshman tight end Jared Cook, earlier recipient of a 25-yard touchdown down the middle, bobbled away the wide open, game-tying score in the same spot. Chances to knock out the major polls' second-ranked team don't come twice.

WHAT? WHAT?!
Upsetting
Michigan State's season was obviously fried after the whole Notre Dame thing, but please, don't pretend you actually thought it was SNAFUed enough to lose at home to Illinois and its oddly-named true freshman quarterback. MSU's 12-headed running game netted 82 yards. Against Illinois!


But Drew! You have no idea how much what you just did means to me.

JUST WHEN YA THOUGHT YA KNEW A FELLA...
Time to Re-think...:
SMQ would not be the first to ask, but how wise was the lightning campaign to chase deposed leader Sam Keller in the wilderness in favor of el Presidente de la Revolucion Rudy Carpenter? In light of Carpenter's ongoing "Great Leap Forward," gloriously culminating in the spectacular 6-19, 33-yard, zero touchdown performance at home in Saturday's 48-13 loss to Oregon, ASU fans must contemplate whether judgment art fled to brutish beasts.

A FINE WHINE
SMQ Complaint of the Week
Remaining on Arizona State: the next time Rece Davis condescendingly refers to any team as the "Fighting [Insert Coach's Name]s," as he did to the "Fighting Dirk Koetters" Saturday, SMQ is going to flip. Violently. For the sake of humanity, Rece, recognize that this nonsensical barb was cute perhaps once, at most, and probably not even then, and is beyond contemptible repeated ad nauseum. Do not do it again. You have been warned, and SMQ is hereby resolved of responsibility for his actions the next time he hears "The Fighting Jeff Bowers."