The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for September, 2006

Aston Villa vs Chelsea preview

Posted by disappointmentzone on 30 September 2006

Six matches into the season and there Villa sits in the upper half of the EPL standings, trailing Everton for the fifth spot only by goal differential. While many soccer fans might be surprised by this fact, there is one man willing to say that it’s absolutely insane to think Villa can keep up this pace: Villa’s manager, Martin O’Neill. This is the equivalent of the Browns winning the first three games of the season and then having Romeo Crennel say the team has no chance of making the playoffs. Say what you will about O’Neill, but at least he’s honest. The world would probably be a better place if more coaches/managers were as blunt as O’Neill. At least there would be better headlines. In the meantime, Villa looks to keep defying its coach this weekend against Chelsea, the team sitting atop the EPL and possibly all of European soccer. As always, Soccer Spot is here with a preview of Cleveland’s most successful football team. His words follow.

Against Levski Sofia on Wednesday, Mourinho, Chelsea’s manager, opted for a 4-4-2, but that hardly held its shape in midfield, with Mikel running willy-nilly behind Sheva trying to figure out where he should be  going. Expect a more typical lineup such as the one against Fulham last Saturday:

Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Terry, Carvalho, Ferreira, Essien, Lampard, Makelele, Drogba, Robben, Shevchenko

The truly observant of you will notice that Terry is in this lineup in place of Geremi. Kudos if you did notice it. That Terry is back is probably the biggest reason that Aston Villa are going to have serious problems finding the back of the net. This lineup I envision as a 4-1-2-2-1 (damn that’s complicated), massing in the middle of the park and letting Ferreira and Cole bomb down the sides. Boulharouz could step into the middle if he’s back from his eye-thingy which would mean Ferreira would take a seat and only Cole would saunter forward.

Aston Villa’s main chance to win this me is to attack the defense while Cole is forward. That  means counter attacking and doing so in numbers. That, to me, means sticking to the same starting eleven as last week:

Sorensen, Barry, Hughes, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Davis, McCann, Petrov, Agbonlahor, Angel,  Moore

I wouldn’t suggest putting in Baros because he hasn’t been playing with this squad throughout their season; they’ve been having a solid run (3 wins and 3 draws so far) and that’s not bad at all. With Chelsea currently on 4 wins in a row, there’s not much hope, but certainly putting out an attacking lineup will increase your chances of at least potentially winning the game. But I’m an attacking football kind of guy so a forward-minded 4-3-2-1 is the way to go against Chelsea.

Prediction: 2-0 Chelsea.

Despite what I just said, Chelsea is the better team. But I am definitely rooting for Villa to come away with a draw here. A victory would be rapturous. [In case you’re keeping track, Randy Lerner has now bought enough of Villa to require a compulsory sell by the rest of the  shareholders. That makes him sole owner. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but how can a
Clevelander be wrong?]

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League | 2 Comments »

OSU vs Iowa preview

Posted by disappointmentzone on 29 September 2006

Few OSU fans have forgotten what happened to the Buckeyes the last time the team visited Iowa City:

Iowa: 34 points, OSU: 7
Iowa: 24 first downs, OSU: 12
Iowa: 117 yards rushing, OSU: 27
Iowa: 331 yards passing, OSU: 150
Iowa: 154 yards punting, OSU: 354
Iowa: 24 points scored in first three quarters, OSU: 0

It was the worst lost since Jim Tressel became coach, knocking OSU out of the top 25. The kind of loss that’s the football equivalent of throwing up in your mouth after falling down a flight of stairs. But let’s turn to this season, shall we?

Back when I wrote my small preview of the upcoming season I said that the Iowa game would cause outright horror in the minds of OSU fans. I called the Iowa game the most-worrisome game of the season and said that it would also be one of the best games of the season. I’m confident that all three of these statements are true.

Iowa hasn’t played particularly well this season. It took OT to beat Syracuse, Iowa was tied with Iowa State heading into the fourth quarter, Montana isn’t a D1 school, and I’m not sure Illinois is either. Nothing about Iowa this season has been impressive or dominating or noteworthy. Iowa has demonstrated an ability to be indifferent for long stretches, and then turn a switch and suddenly transform into a very good team. Iowa isn’t beating inferior teams in the way one would expect from a 13th-ranked team, but 1) there have been injuries to key players and 2) Iowa has had no reason to be particularly dominating and every reason to be pedestrian. Getting to OSU with a 4-0 record without having done much (i.e., without having showed much) is exactly the position Iowa wants to be in. OSU is the first real game of the season for Iowa. Having done so little so far probably means there is a lot Iowa can do now. Open up the offense. Multiple new blitzes and defensive schemes. Everything is on the table. What Iowa had done in the first four games is certainly a less-accurate picture of this Iowa team than the picture of OSU from the first four games of the season. Which is exactly why Iowa is scary.

That and Kirk Ferentz. He’s an awfully good coach.
Iowa has a solid running back in Albert Young, who as a sophomore last season finished fourth in the Big Ten in rushing, compiling over 1300 yards. He’s had a slow start to this season, however. He has yet to rush for 100 yards in any game and last week had only 57 yards on 14 carries. Drew Tate is the quarterback. I think he’s been in college for 16 years now. He’s the guy who passed for all those yards back when OSU last visited Iowa. Then again, OSU has a 16-year starter in Troy Smith. Smith actually threw the only touchdown pass for the Buckeyes in that game against Iowa. I suppose two seasons isn’t that long ago, but in the life of a college team two years can feel like a decade. Tate is not as good of a quarterback as Smith, but is is a more-than-capable passer. On the season he’s completed 62% of his attempts for just under 700 yards, with seven touchdowns against only two INTS. He’s not a particularly mobile quarterback, but he moves well in the pocket and is capable of running if needed. Tate is probably the most underrated QB in the Big Ten. I’m very high on him. Expect to see him make a number of passes to the tight ends. Controling this aspect of Iowa’s offense will be crucial for OSU’s defense since Iowa is not particularly loaded with WRs.

In order for Iowa to remain in the game Iowa must sustain its drives. Scoring points is most ideal, obviously, but driving the ball to midfield or into OSU territory is very important for Iowa since the punter, Andy Fenstermaker, does not have a strong leg. In fact, Fenstermaker has a very weak leg. Of his 19 punts this season his long is only 48 yards and he’s averaging only 35.3 yards per punt. With this in mind don’t be surprised if Tressel, at least early on, is conservative (with Tressel, does ‘conservative’ even mean anything?), opting to kick on fourth and short even when OSU has a decent chance of picking up the first down, possible even being conservative on long third downs (8 yards or more) if OSU is in good field position. With the way the defense is playing, forcing Iowa to make sustained drives is a wise move. With Ginn returning Fenstermaker’s short punts, OSU could easily pick up significant yards in field position just by playing a regular, boring offensive game. Good old Tressel ball.
The weather in Iowa City on Saturday is expected to be ideal. Troy Smith should rebound from the Penn State game and my guess is that he’ll figure prominently in the offense this week, which is to say that I think he’ll be more mobile. Not necessarily scrambling but moving in the pocket or even rolling out, putting pressure on the defense to respect the fact that he could take off. Smith didn’t do this very well against Penn State and I think it contributed to his poor outing. This is a roundabout way of saying that OSU will score on Saturday. Iowa’s defense is good, but OSU will return to form. With Iowa as a seven point underdog, the only way for Iowa to remain within this range is to score points. I don’t see this happening. I think OSU wins by more than seven.

OSU 31, Iowa 20

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Eastern Conference preview (for the next five seasons): Chicago Bulls

Posted by disappointmentzone on 28 September 2006

Some people (Bill Simmons, for instance) look at the Bulls signing Ben Wallace to a four-year, $60 million contract and think all Chicago is getting is an aging big man who only plays defense and is an absolute liability on offense. $60 million is a lot for a guy who only contributes at one end of the floor. Rebounding is tough, sure, and Wallace rebounds well. But isn’t defense the area players excel at because they can’t play good offense? Shooting a ball through a small hoop from 20 feet away is skill. Passing a ball to a teammate through a small window while running at full speed is a skill. Everything on offense is a skill. Rebounding is mostly a function of height and position–the Bulls already have the height and players for the position–and blocking shots and whatever the hell else it is Wallace does (sport huge biceps to intimidate opposing players?), that too is mostly a function of size and position. Wallace isn’t so much skilled as he is fortunate to be born tall and huge. There aren’t many guys like Wallace in the world, but there are a number of guys like him in the NBA. You know, tall, big, other stuff. Granted, Wallace is good at defense. He’s better than most even. But he’s not that much better than the rest, so why pay Wallace $60 million when you can sign another player for a quarter of that who, sure, might not play as good of defense as Wallace but who’ll contribute on offense?

Or so the thinking goes.

How the casual fan approaches basketball, in particular players who excel at defense, is remarkably similar, I think, to show NFL executives approached offensive linemen in the 1960s and 1970s (read Michael Lewis in either last week’s SI or NYT Magazine for more on this). Players are interchangeable for the most part if all one considers is their defense, much as it was believed that linemen were interchangeable. The difference in production between a guy who scores 24.7 ppg and a guy who scores 7.9 ppg is easily quantified. All of the traditional NBA statistics lend themselves to this sort of quantitative comparison, and most of the statistics are either entirely offense-based (scoring, assists, shooting percentage, free throw shooting percentage) or ambiguous (rebounds) with the exception of blocks, an exclusively defense-based statistic. But blocks occur so infrequently (the Rockets scored 7387 points but only had 320 blocks) and can be so inconsequential (more or less just a missed shot–and there are a lot of those) that their magnitude is minuscule when compared to points or rebounds. We have no good, statistical measure of individual defensive play. What are we to do?

When the old saw is that defense wins championships and when, by virtue of the rules of the game, half of a game is played on defense, one would think that defense would get more consideration than it does despite the lack of statistical measures. Even if we have only a vague impression of what an elite defensive player does that makes him better than an average defensive player, certainly that should count for something. But for some people, it doesn’t. These people regard that vague impression as something that, by virtue of being vague, is easily transferable between players and as such is less an aspect of the player’s skill than it is an aspect of something more fleeting. If center X is really so much better than center Z, why can’t we see it in the data? How do we know center X is really so much better than center Z? Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You know the story.

Fortunately for Bulls fans (and unfortunately for Cavs fans) Ben Wallace does more than play really great defense. He also rebounds. Last season Wallace played only 14.5% of Detroit’s total minutes but was responsible for 27.8% of the total rebounds. This is no inconsequential feat. This is phenomenal. Drew Gooden led the Cavs in rebounds but was only responsible for 19.1% of the total, for the sake of comparison. However elite a defensive player Wallace is, he is equally elite on the boards. Wallace only scored .2 points per minute, but he grabbed 301 offensive rebounds. This is a staggering total. If each extra possession resulted in one additional shot then Wallace was responsible for roughly 250 points. Not bad. Wallace doesn’t score and he’s an offensive liability if scoring is taken as the extent to which one can contribute on offense, but having Wallace on offense isn’t the same as a having me on offense. I’m a true offensive liability.

That said, Wallace more than makes up for any offensive deficiencies (real or imagined) by being highly productive in other areas. Last season Wallace produced 20.1 wins, the most of any Piston (Billups was second, with 17.2 WP). 20.1 wins easily puts him in the upper tier of NBA players. The Bulls, meanwhile, had no player produce more than 10.9 wins, and only two players produce at least 10 wins (Deng and Chandler). With Chandler gone the Bulls are in serious need of help on the front line, which is where Wallace fits in. With Wallace under contract through 2010 the Bulls have a lock on a solid front court for four more seasons, and if Tyrus Thomas (4 years, $15.2 million) develops into an above-average PF/C, the Bulls could easily have the best front court in the Eastern Conference in a couple of seasons.

Unfortunately for the Cavs (yet again) the Bulls also have a nice pair of back court players in Chris Duhon and Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich’s rookie contract (4 years, $10.2 million) expires after this season and Duhon’s contract (3 years, $9 million) after 2008, so the Bulls are going to have to spend money in the next couple of off-seasons if they wish to keep these players. The likely scenario is that one will be traded (probably Duhon but if the Bulls were smart they’d trade Hinrich) and the other will get a lucrative deal, which the Bulls will be able to afford to pay since there are no contracts other than Wallace’s that put any significant financial burden on the team.

The summer of 2007 could be a defining time for the Bulls. Not only does Hinrich’s contract expire but so do the contracts of Nocioni, Brown, and Sweetney (and Eisley, but he doesn’t matter). Nocioni is a solid player, Brown is OK and Sweetney is below average. If the Bulls sign both Hinrich and Nocioni then they’ll have had a very successful summer. If they sign Sweetney for more than, say, a very small amount, it’ll likely be a (small) detriment to the team.

The good news for Cavs fans is that Ben Gordon will be around for the next couple of seasons. If the start of his career is any indication–and as a Cavs fan I hope it is–then plan on Gordon shooting the Bulls in the foot on a nightly basis with his highly inefficient shooting. Gordon will almost certainly sign an extended contract when his rookie contract expires. The bigger the contract, the better (for Cavs fans).

Gordon is the only glaring weakness on the Bulls roster. Of all the teams in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls are probably in the best shape going forward as things stand right now–a number of talented players, only one big contract, no bad contracts (yet). If the Cavs plan on winning a championship, the next few seasons would be a good time to do it.

Posted in flotsam and Jetsam, statistics | 10 Comments »

#106 or #108. Who cares? Good question.

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 September 2006

From Stewart Mandel’s college football mailbag this afternoon:

Stewart, I am ashamed of you! Once again you fail to move Colorado ahead of North Texas in your 26-119 rankings! I understand that CU is 0-4; however, name a school besides Notre Dame that has played a more intense nonconference schedule. Perhaps after CU swats Mizzou and Georgia dominates Ole Miss, you will give the Buffs a break and move them far up your charts.
— Randy Garcia, San Antonio

OK. First of all, Randy, you need to calm down for a second and maybe consider whether you need to make some serious lifestyle changes if you’re allowing yourself to get stressed out about whether your team is ranked 90th or 101st. Secondly, to anyone else who has sent similar e-mails, I’d just like to state for the record that I do not compile those 26-119 rankings. The only way they relate to my Top 25 is that the teams don’t overlap. We actually have a specially trained team of monkeys in the basement, each of which is responsible for watching a specific conference’s games each Saturday and reporting back to the group, which then compiles the ratings. If there’s a error in regard to North Texas, it may be because the monkey assigned to watch the Sun Belt keeps mysteriously escaping from his cage.

First of all: No. Randy from San Antonio has every right to be upset about the relative ranking of Colorado versus North Texas. Why? Because is publishing these idiotic rankings. If the rankings matter–which is the implicit conceit makes ever time it publishes them–then people will treat them as though they matter, which means being upset when they don’t make sense. Second, saying that a group of monkeys churns out the weekly 26-119 rankings undermines the entire operation of producing and publishing the rankings. The first point is important (the second point is tengential). The issue is not whether Randy from San Antonio is overreacting by actively questioning the ranking of Colorado; it’s whether thinks the ranking of Colorado (and the other 93 teams) matters.

Sports Illustrated, whether it likes it or not, carries a lot of weight. When publishes things is signaling that they matter. Such is the burden of being an important journalistic publication. The contradiction of publishing items that (admittedly) don’t matter is a serious crack in the substructure upon which SI is based. Either the 26-119 power rankings matter–and if they matter then people will be bothered when their team is unfairly rankedor the 26-119 power rankings don’t matter–in which case, why publish them at all?

Most egregious, of course, is writers belittling their readers for taking its published content seriously.

Shame on you, I’m sure Stephen Colbert won’t be wagging his finger at you, but he ought to.

Posted in flotsam and Jetsam | 2 Comments »

Quick look to 2007

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 September 2006

Sports Illustrated (I think) once published a great photograph of a kid holding up a sign on opening day in Wrigley Field that read “Wait Till Next Year.” Such is the unbridled optimism of Cubs fans. Cleveland fans don’t have it much better, of course, and I certainly don’t need to remind you of that. And so with the 2006 Indians season winding down after more or less ending about four months ago, now is as good of time as any to begin looking ahead to 2007.

Yesterday the Indians released their (tentative) 2007 schedule.

A few thoughts:

The Indians open once again in Chicago. It’ll be the battle of the disappointing teams, a far cry from the 2006 opener and all the promise it held.

Eric Wedge has yet to guide the Indians to within anything approximating a successful April and that trend could continue in 2007 (assuming Wedge is still the manager). First there is Chicago. Then the Angels (with a palate-cleansing Seattle series in between). Then Chicago. Then New York. Add in Minnesota and Texas and that’s a formidable schedule. Only Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore are crummy. That’s six series against non-crummy teams against three series against crummy teams. Yikes.

Things don’t get easier in May, as the Indians play 19 road games and only 10 home games.

June and July are the most attractive months in the schedule, which is nice since by then any momentum the team can generate during the daunting start of the season should be amplified. Of course, should the team stumble through April and May by June no one will care. During June and July the Indians play 34 of 53 games at home. The Braves will be in Cleveland and the Indians will be in Washington in June.

August is another brutal month. 10 road games against Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit, plus a quick home series against the Tigers and a home series against the Twins. If the AL Central isn’t decided in August then…I’m not sure. That’s a lot of game among the teams that should be contending for the AL Central crown. The Indians also play KC in August, but I doubt KC will be contending.

If the Indians can stay close through the first months of the season September could very well be the time when the team pulls away. The beginning of the month is tough, with series against Chicago, Minnesota, LA, and Chicago, but the back half is much easier. 6 of the final 15 games are against KC, with three games against Seattle tossed in for good measure.

Thus concludes my quick breakdown of the 2007 schedule. I’m sure there are interesting quirks and pleanty of other compelling storylines, and there is pleanty of time in the upcoming months for, you know, actual analysis. But I’ll say this month: Ryan Garko looks like a starting 1B to me.

Posted in Cleveland Indians | Leave a Comment »

Roger Brown for Cleveland Sports GM

Posted by disappointmentzone on 26 September 2006

His knowledge and insight are (seemingly) limitless. He is preternaturally able to (seemingly) predict the future with clairvoyant accuracy. He pleads and moans for various Cleveland sports teams to follow his dictates–in drafts, in free agency, in the regular season, in the playoffs, in handling coaching staffs, in handling players. With years spent three steps ahead of every general manager in Cleveland, and with years of (relatively) incompetent general managers stewarding their teams to less-than-stellar performances, isn’t it about time that someone, somewhere, appoint Roger Brown, Cleveland’s own (seemingly) never-wrong crystal-gazer, as the general manager of all Cleveland sports teams?

With his unrivaled powers of cunning and persuasion, with his business savvy and universal acceptance among Clevelanders, Roger Brown is certainly capable of convincing the various owners of Cleveland sports teams to consolidate operations to one umbrella front office, headed by Mr. Brown himself, his sage-like wisdom coming down from on high in the form of short bursts of genius in, perhaps, a quad-weekly column. Who would be against such a scenario? No one sane-of-mind, that’s for sure.

After all, Mr. Brown has already unofficially embraced the role of Cleveland Sports GM–those pearls of wisdom that come so naturally to him (Draft a cornerback, Savage, you idiot! It’s the obvious move.) are already published for all to see by that emanator of sports knowledge, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, complete with supporting commentary by the two-headed savant of LivingShaw, the Auxiliary Directors of Prescience.

Though prone to (seemingly) occasional contradictions, Mr. Brown is always resolutely right. He just operates at a level above the rest of us, the nuance of his thinking so incredible, so devoid of generalities, that he makes the wisest legal scholars and philosophers appear at once to be utter boneheads. The (seemingly) contradictory statements only appear as such because he has to dumb them down to a level accessible to laypeople. His vast knowledge–so ahead of its time, so stupefyingly brilliant–renders anything he records in (to him) plain prose immediately illegible and incomprehensible to us unexceptional folk, kind of like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons, only with a more genius-like aura.

So why not begin the campaign for Roger Brown for Cleveland Sports GM posthaste? In trembling fear that such an act be deemed presumptuous, I hereby toss Mr. Brown’s hat into the ring, as it were, for this eminent appointment. May all Cleveland sports team achieve unparalleled success under the auspices of Mr. Roger Brown, your Cleveland Sports GM.

Who’s with me?

Posted in Cleveland Sports, flotsam and Jetsam | 2 Comments »

Last piece of satisfaction

Posted by disappointmentzone on 25 September 2006

So long, Chicago.

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Charlie Frye: QB Score: Week 3

Posted by disappointmentzone on 25 September 2006

Before getting to Charlie Frye’s QB Score for Sunday’s game against the Ravens, I want to comment on The Interception.

Chris McAlister was playing Braylon Edwards to the inside. It was obvious from how he was lined up: McAlister’s outside shoulder was aligned with Edwards’s inside shoulder. Then there was the safety and linebacker, both of who are covering the middle of the field. Everything Baltimore was doing in their coverage was to take away the middle of the field. What’s more, this was obvious.

So why, then, did Frye not check out of a route that ran Edwards right into the teeth of the defense for the more favorable out pattern (or any of its friends)?

Edwards is taller and bigger than McAlister. Simply throwing the ball high and to the corner of the end zone would have been a better option. The Browns didn’t need a touchdown. That play call was about as poor of a play call in that situation as I could imagine, which is a reflection on Maurice Carthon (who had a much-improved game, to be fair) and Frye, who needs to recognize the coverage and situation (up by two with around three minutes to play and second down).

Edwards was quoted in an AP recap as saying that “it was a great play call” and that if Frye hadn’t been hit by Bart Scot the result would have been a touchdown. For the life of my I can’t figure out how this statement makes sense. The entire day Frye was under immense pressure from the Ravens’ defense, often because the line was incapable of holding blocks for more than two seconds. By my count Frye was knocked down three times on plays in which the team ran a max-protection scheme. The line wasn’t blocking well, the Ravens were getting pressure on Frye without blitzing, it’s late in the game and the Ravens need for something magical to happen–was anyone surprised that Baltimore blitzed on that play?

With that knowledge in hand (presumably) running a play that requires Edwards to clear a cornerback (again: McAlister was taking away the inside) is idiotic. I would say there was a 7% chance of that play scoring a touchdown, a 63% chance of an incomplete pass or interception, a 5% chance of pass interference, and a 25% chance of a sack or fumble. With the slight chance of that play working, a sack would have been the next-best option because the clock would have continued to run. An incomplete pass would have been terrible because the clock would have stopped, and an interception the worst outcome. The risk–stopped clock, turnover–far out weighed the reward–an unnecessary touchdown.

Yes, the Browns score a touchdown and the game is over. But if Charlie Frye takes a knee for the first three downs and then the Browns kick a 23-yard field goal, a good 1:40 will run off the clock and Baltimore will have to go roughly 80 yards in roughly two minutes to score a touchdown in order to win. I like our chances to win in that scenario. Moreso, at least, then the chances of winning by running the play they did.

Anyway…Stupid play call. Stupid read. Stupid pass. Stupid loss.

At least Charlie Fry had an otherwise good game. His QB Score per play was an above-average 2.89 1.904 and that includes his underwhelming second half.

[UPDATE: I mistakenly forgot to add the seven sacks to Frye’s QB Score. He was worse than originally stated, but still fairly good (12th best in week 3).]

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 5 Comments »

OSU vs Penn State quick hits

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 September 2006

Antonio Pittman is still running into people far too often. On short yardage situations running into a linebacker or defensive lineman is expected, as is when running along the sideline. In the flats, up the middle of the field, occasionally even on the sideline—these are the places to avoid being tackled. Pittman needs to enroll in the Forrest Gump School of Running Away. Blindly running into defensive players is not aggressive. It’s stupid.

When Troy Smith stands flatfooted his passes sail. This happens to nearly every quarterback, but it never plagued Smith until yesterday. He has a rocket for an arm and can get away with throwing off of his back foot from time to time, but his accuracy suffers. When he steps into his passes he’s a much better quarterback.

For the first time in a long time Smith looked ordinary. Outside of the scrambling, 50-yard touchdown pass to Robiskie and the third-and-long scramble in the first half, Smith played more like a sophomore than a fifth-year senior. Fundamentally he was off (the flatfooted passing) but so were his reads.

Malcolm Jenkins spiked the ball before crossing the goal line. Penn State should have been rewarded the ball on the 20. Not that it wold have made a difference in the outcome, but nonetheless: it was a missed call on the replay.

AJ Trepasso was a difference-maker against PSU. He didn’t win the game for OSU—the defense did that. But OSU could very well have a lost had it not been for Trepasso.

The OSU secondary is quietly turning into a beast, although after two INTs returned for touchdowns in the final 2:50 “quietly” may no longer be the right adjective. It’ll be interesting to see how the secondary plays Iowa, a team that relies heavily on tight ends in the passing game.

The revolving door of place kickers would be frustrating were it not for the fact that OSU doesn’t have a reliable kicker, which is the most frustrating aspect of this team. The turf at the Horseshoe is poor-high-school bad and kicking off of soft, uneven, wet grass is exceedingly difficult. Replacing the field will help the kickers more than any other group of players. But I still miss Houston and Nugent. We have been spoiled over the last few seasons.

Alex Boone has improved since the Texas game. He’s moving his feet and has stopped helplessly grabbing jerseys as an attempt to block somebody. Meanwhile, the right side of the line has taken a step back. Fast defensive ends are still causing OSU problems.

OSU will not fall in the AP or USA Today polls, but they will lose first place votes to USC and this weekend they were not the best team in the country. If I did weekly power rankings I’d put OSU around #6.

Troy Smith needs to run more, or at least move laterally out of the pocket. Right now he’s waiting a beat too long after he steps up into the pocket before passing the ball or running. Rolling the pocket or even just rolling Smith outside of the tackles would put a lot of pressure on defenses. Maybe the coaches are saving this for Michigan.

Posted in Ohio State Buckeyes | Leave a Comment »

Two Indians quickies

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 September 2006

After Thursday’s loss to the Mighty Oakland Athletics, the Indians must win out in order to finish the season at .500. If .500 has been your hope as an Indians fan, then I’m sorry. So that’s the bad news.

The good news is that the Florida Marlins are dumb enough to fire manager Joe Girardi, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Girardi has guided the $15 million Marlins into playoff contention. Those looking for Eric Wedge’s replacement should begin pulling for Girardi, a Chicago native whom Cubs fans are hoping will manager their team.

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