2006 Nebraska Edition – 9/18/06

Now today, and what would have been my late father’s 58th birthday, I delve into the subject of yesterday’s college football action, remembering the man whom I first watched college football with (1979 Heisman season of Charlie White as a fascinated Kindergartener …)
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– I think I may have more mixed feelings about the Trojan victory over Nebraska than some of my Trojan brethren.  There were a few moments that the offense looked quite anemic.  Lane Kiffin, the best young offensive coordinator in the country, and Coach Carroll (no further description needed), seem to agree.  Each possession in the 3rd quarter that began after a punt or kickoff was horrific.  The issue to me is the establishment of a running game, which is a work in progress, to be sure.  Frankly, I am likely just spoiled from several years of offensive firepower not likely to ever be repeated.
– The loss of our second fullback (Hancock first, and now Powdrell), is devastating, and I am sure was a major factor.  It will be very interesting to see what Coach does about the hole at fullback.  I do not believe a walk-on can play the position for the year.  Most programs would be looking at a 5-7 season if they had incurred the season-ending injuries that we have incurred in just a few weeks.
– With those caveats out of the way, I will return to my more positive self.  Our defense is beyond superb.  I have never seen linebackers move to the ball quicker than Maluagua, Sartz, and Rivers are doing.  This is, mind you, WITHOUT our team captain and starting linebacker of last year, Oscar Lua.  Ridiculous.  Admirable performance by the true freshmen at safety.  Lawrence Jackson is having a better year than last year.  Brian Cushing is the MVP of the defense thus far (with Ray right behind him).  McKay said it first, but while “offense sells tickets, defense wins championships” …  While last year’s offense would have scored 49 points, this year’s defense keeping them to 10 probably represented a 17 point improvement over what would have happened last year.  I expect to have more 35-10 wins this year, as opposed to 56-24 wins from last year (etc.) ….
– Pac-10 action: Oregon takes out Oklahoma thanks to a wild 69 seconds and a nasty call by an idiot ref.  Washington St. beats Baylor by 2 points (I did not know they had a football team).  Washington beats Fresno St. by 1 point (I actually really am impressed, and surprised).  Arizona takes our a powerhouse Stephen Austin by a score of 28-10 (you would think they could beat just one guy in an 11-on-1 match-up by more than points).  Cal beat the 1-AA Portland St.  Navy beat Stanford by a ton.  ASU beat the worst Colorado team of all time by 18.  UCLA and Oregon St. had the week off.  So, in a week that the Pac-10 basically won all its games, I am more convinced than ever that the Pac-10 is on track for its worst year in over a decade.  My early prediction is that only USC will finish top-10, and I frankly suspect that the season may end with only two Pac-10 teams even in the top 25 !!
– I can not take credit for “predicting” that Notre Dame would be shown to be a fraud, as I didn’t really do so.  I simply “stated” that I am completely unimpressed with the pedigree of Charlie Weis thus far.  I will now repeat, for everyone interested, what we have seen so far:  He beat AWFUL, and I mean AWFUL, teams last year in Pittsburgh and Michigan.  He came within a heartbeat of losing to Stanford.  He lost to a terrible Michigan State team.  They had their asses handed to them by Ohio State in a bowl game.  Oh yes – they did play USC to the wire in a thriller like I have never seen, but a loss is a loss.  Now, this year, they beat a Penn St. team that even Stevie Austin could beat, they should have lost to an unranked Georgia Tech.  And now, Michigan comes into South Bend and rips the Heisman out of Brady Quinn’s hands like me taking my remote control out of my baby son’s hands …  Incredible.  Notre Dame could turn things around, but I see 8-4 as more realistic than 11-1.  I could be wrong.  If they were anything like the UCLA teams of the mid-90’s they would simply throw in the towel on the season, lose 4 or 5 ridiculous games, and put all their hopes and dreams into defeating the Trojans on November 25.  I very much doubt they will do that.  I still predict a classic in late November, but Charlie Weis should thank God for “guaranteed contracts” (something the “glory” of the NFL never did offer him). 
– LSU and Auburn and all the SEC lovers can brag about SEC defenses all they want.  I would rather watch the Devil Rays play baseball then ever have to watch a 7-3 snorer like that again.
– And as for the Florida schools, uh never mind …  As the Membership Director at my country club in the desert is a die-hard Seminole fan, I will respectfully withhold comment on the 1-2 Miami Hurricanes and the 2-1 FSU Noles ….  All I can say is, I feel their pain (96′-01′ are not far out of my mind).  The Gators are the team to beat there this year.  Of course, with that said, I fully expect a 3-8 Florida State team to still go to a BCS bowl, and I fully suspect that Spurrier’s Gamecocks of South Carolina will beat the Gators. 
That’s it for now …  What a sport, what a season, and what a program (for you beloved Trojan Family members out there).
Fight on,