We're 3-0, haters.
I'm told that UCF was a trap game, which is current Mack Brown speak for any game on our schedule that is not Oklahoma or Texas A&M, features something as exotic as a road trip, and assumes that we were looking past UCF in anticipation of our grudge match with Jess Neely's Rice Owls. If an overrated team falls in the polls and there's no one there to listen, does it even make a sound? The enlightened answer to that Zen koan is a solemn Mack Brown clap.
Throw it deep, Grasshopper.
Ah, but are we shittier than Wisconsin?
Year 2 PVY (Post Vince Young) is looking a hell of a lot like the post-Apocalyptic landscape of a Mad Max movie; Rashad Bobino forming a tandem with Derek Lokey that looks eerily like Master Blaster. I've long held that we should mount Ryan Palmer on Bobino so that he can jockey him to the proper gap with a riding crop, but my pleas to Bill Little's worldwide intraweb box have gone unheeded.
The Hunt N Peck offense is in full death rattle and after three games against an aggregate of thoroughly mediocre pass defense, our aerial game has demonstrated the explosiveness of a Rice Krispy. The move from the zone read (absent a rushing threat at QB) has been tragic for our rushing offense - though the sublime Jamaal Charles has been like a well-tailored suit disguising a classless fat fuck; no, what has been shocking is the degree to which it has stymied our passing game. We have no credible threat for play action and, as such, we have no deep passing game since play action is the only way the Greg Davis passing game creates downfield progression. Against UCF, Colt was 32 of 47 for 259 yards - demonstrating that Woody Hayes' revolutionary creative philosophies can be adapted to the passing game.
Our passing statistics read like an indictment for the capital offense of the derivative and staid. We currently average around 9 yards per completion. If you'll recall, a junior Vince Young averaged over 9 yards per attempt in '05. Greg Davis continues to demonstrate minimal understanding of opportunity cost - we have a "conservative" passing offense, yet we've yielded 5 interceptions in 118 attempts - a horrendous percentage. That opposing DB's and LB's have dropped another 5 balls that have hit them in the hands offers little solace. Our two yard routes are getting jumped like a black giggolo in Vidor who just screamed,"Where da white women at?" Our top pass catchers (Jones, Cosby, Finley) average less than 10 yards per reception; Quan Cosby averaging a comical 7 yards per catch. In short, we're running Texas Tech's offense but without the execution, creativity, and counters naturally built into Mike Leach's passing game. Every team we've played has run an identical pass defense against us, save for the first quarter of Arkansas St. Coincidence, I think.
UCF played us in a loose nickel, two safeties back, and conceded meager gains, knowing that our inability to deliver the ball to a WR on the run with his shoulder's square in the short passing game makes their open field tackle fait accompli. A true screen game is non-existent and our tunnel screen is easily scouted. Crossing routes are as absent from our O as dreidel's at a Klan rally. If you don't recognize this offense, throw in some game tape from 1999 against any opponent with a real defense. You'll get it. What's most disappointing about the UCF game was in how we continued to throw zero yard horizontal routes even as UCF's DBs began to jump the route at the snap of the ball. Colt isn't throwing these passes off of an audible where the opposing DB is giving a ten yard cushion. Rather, he is making a pre-determined throw irrespective of the coverage he sees - a call that comes from the booth, not Colt's head. This is idiocy. Calling a play that's "conservative" (that isn't) hoping that the athlete "can make something happen" (when Percy Harvin couldn't).
It's offensive coordination by Magic Eight Ball.
All signs point to a yard gain.
Colt is already being criticized for a sophomore slump. Really? Is that why almost every meaningful pass play we've had this year was a result of some improvisation or pocket breakdown and a WR turning up their route? Look deeper, friends. A play called with a probable upside of 2 yards doesn't set you up for a sophomore explosion.
Against UCF, our running game was explosive feast or grating famine. Still bizarre schematically at times, we had a couple of tweaks here that pleased me: particularly the little delay counter that cuts against the grain. Though famine predominated, feast made appearances of 46, 28 & 27 yards. JC's remaining famine carries went 19 for 52. He's a special runner. At times, we run some pretty "special" schemes. I'll leave it at that.
Dallas Griffin is a great kid with some strength issues. Any UCF DT shaded on him had a 20% chance of a TFL or a QB pressure. None of our OL get a great deal of push at the point of attack save Dockery, but this is as much a scheme issue as Mad Dog's doing. I think it's both, actually. Most of our really strong players in the line came here strong. See Casey Hampton, Derek Lokey, Justin Blalock.
Duane Akina is Bull Reese with a cool moustache. To put it succinctly: he overblitzes. We're easier to screen than a nine foot mosquito. To the casual fan, blitzing is just about the bestest thing a defense can do since they associate it with aggressiveness and trying to "do something." This is dogshit. I'm not opposed to blitzing conceptually, but we continue to disguise our blitzes as effectively as Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies and the personnel we have running them are a step late and a dollar short. Actually, just short in general.
The DT's were outstanding, which is odd to contend when you give up 32 points, but the TFLs, hits on QB, and UCF's complete lack of production when any DT playside was single blocked is testament to their effort. As well as Lokey and Okam played, I'll give a game ball to Roy Miller. He made several crucial plays for us. The DE's were solid - particularly Aaron Lewis - but have you noticed that they're now playing run almost exclusively to protect the LB corps? That means they don't take a hard rush on anything outside of 3rd and 14. That means we don't pressure the QB on 2nd and long and that we're continuing to rob Peter to play Paul - or is it robbing Lewis to pay Killebrew? I forget.
Our staff forgot too. After turning the tide in the TCU game, our young LB's were placed into a witness protection program. Try to get a good scouting report on us now, Rice. When they were inserted, Muckelroy drew a senseless 15 yard personal foul having learned this demonstrates "senior leadership" and Jared Norton was benched after one second half series in which he made three consecutive tackles and injured a UCF player. Norton's audacity in showing up his elders was promptly punished and I hope we don't see his disrespectful ass on the field again for the rest of the year. During the game, Scott Derry scratched several calculus formulas into the grass with his cleats which Dallas Griffin then solved on the ensuing possession. They both slapped their heads and exchanged knowing glances when Mack went for two on our last touchdown. When you have a coordinator that don't understand opportunity cost, it stands to reason the head coach doesn't get probability theory. Blaise Pascal does not live in an orange house.
You don't roll the dice for eight when seven will do
The DB's were better in the sense that UCF had minimal productivity in the passing game and Brandon Foster scored a defensive touchdown. They were not better in the sense that the UCF QB threw like Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot after taking some hard hits late in the first quarter. Foster was suspect in run support on several occasions; Palmer was not. Some guys look to be blocked in the run game or make a dramatic dive at someone's legs so they don't have to take on a physical ball carrier - sometimes Foster is that guy.
As an overall defense, I'll place our odds at being manhandled against OU somewhere between the probability of Enrique Iglesias being able to get laid at a Uruguayan orgy and Doperbo's dog licking his balls sometime in the next 72 hours.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Ryan Bailey. The former walk-on kicked 5 field goals - 2 from 40+ - and his five field goals tied a school record held by Jeff Ward and Kris Stockton. Nicely done, Ryan.
So where are we? 3-0. I guess we'll go 5-3 or 6-2 in the Big 12; 4-4 if we experience some horrid luck.
Where are we as a program? 1999ish. Check that: 2000ish.
When will we become truly relevant again? When our latest cycle of DB's and OL from the last two classes mature, paired with a game changer at QB, preferably one with wheels and a proclivity to zone read.
What should we do in the meanwhile? Enjoy San Diego.
We have a staff of yes-men. Their staff meetings probably have all of the creative tension of a Sue Grafton novel. C is for Complacency. Whether in finally taking off Akina's training wheels as DC with the babysitter of an elderly MacDuff comfort hire or the complicit silence of Mac MacWhorter running the OL schemes that Greg Davis hands him (show me another college offense that will attempt to reach block a 2 technique with the backside OT) this is a staff that proves that Mack is a CEO coach and they're the perpetually nodding middle managers who can't wait to dial in ten wins and hit the golf course.