Sunday, November 11, 2007

Deja Vu All Over Again

I had my Idiot of the Week post conceptualized on Saturday evening. Operative word being "had".

Let me explain.

This time last year, I remember watching a superior OSU football team almost lose to the Illinios Fighting Illini, a miserable team that was the laughingstock of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes raced to a 17-0 lead at halftime, then proceeded to lose. Well, almost. The final score was 17-10. OSU survived a scare, beat That Team Up North, then got pounded in the BCS Championship Game.

At the start of the third quarter of yesterday's OSU-Illinios game, I got the feeling I had seen this act before. The Illini were energetic, prepared and eager to win. The Buckeyes were, well, business-like; no emotion, no spirit. Oh, and they looked slow compared to the Illini, too. It looked just like last year's game.

Then, it hit me: this looks like the BCS Championship Game all over again. The Illini defensive linemen were too fast for OSU's offensive line. Their special teams were popping harder. The kicker, though, was that the vaunted OSU defense could not defend against a multi-faceted quarterback who could pass, run, and orchestrate an offense based on misdirection.

Much like in the BCS game. Against Florida.

Earlier this morning, I read that the Illinois head coach, Ron Zook, was fired as head coach of - get this - Florida. Most of his Florida recruits were playing last year in the - yep - the BCS Championship Game against OSU. Maybe the guy knew what he was doing after all. Or, maybe he wasn't good enough to compete in the SEC, but is good enough to be a top tier coach in the Big Ten. Makes you wonder.

Looks like the rest of the "big" Ten will need to learn how to recruit to defend against the kind of team Illinois has. Maybe then the "big" Ten Conference will become strong again.

Deja vu

So, that was the post I mentally structured last night. Enough to identify some Idiots of the Week, right? I thought so, too. Then, Marie and I joined the Evil Genius and BrikWarrior at a local watering hole to watch the Browns-Steelers game. BTW, BrikWarrior would likely say it was the Steelers-Browns game. No big deal, just saying. :-)

We enjoyed the food and the company, and 3/4s of our party was enjoying the first half of the game. But, wait, I've read this script before. Browns have a double-digit lead, in Pittsburgh. Steelers make adjustments at halftime; Browns don't. Browns show they are learning to win instead of knowing how to win. Steelers, especially QB Ben Roth----burger, show they know how to win. Joshua Cribbs, Browns return specialist extraordinaire, makes matters worse by returning a kickoff for a touchdown, giving the Steelers the ball back, with our defense already on its heels. It's the second time in three years Cribbs has done this. Whodathunk returning a kickoff for a touchdown would hurt?

It did. Steelers scored again, and the Browns game-tying field goal attempt landed just short. On the mark, but short. Steelers won by three.

All over again

So, here it is, 6:00pm on Sunday evening in Cleveland. Two consecutive days of Groundhog Day, but with different scripts. Maybe Yogi Berra wasn't making a malapropism when he said, "It's like deja vu all over again."

That being said, it's time for the Idiot of the Week awards.

Win - Romeo Crennel, Browns head coach. Late in the game, he calls a timeout to determine whether to protest a touchdown pass caught by a Steelers receiver. He loses the reversal - it wasn't even close - thereby losing a second time out. Two time outs blown in no time at all. Give the Browns the time outs for their last drive, and they come back with at least a tie and OT.

Place - Darnell Dinkens, 3rd (or 4th) string tight end for the Browns. He made a dumb penalty on Pittsuburgh's final kickoff to us. Instead of starting with the ball at the Steeler's 38-yard line, they got it at their own 33-yard line. A 29 yard difference; not good. Without the penalty, the Browns at least would have the ball at mid-field, a 17-yard improvement from where they started. Take 17 yards of Phil Dawson's missed field goal attempt, and it's no longer a missed field goal.

Show - The Buckeyes, especially Jim Tressel. Looks like his folks are too slow to go against the strong and swift defenses. And his game plans do not have an answer for any team that has a quarterback that can run and pass successfully. Times are a-changing, and Tressel needs to show that he can change, too.

Honorable Mention - Willie McGinest, linebacker for the Browns. He had Roth---burger in his sights a couple times, and tried to tackle him high each time. If he tackles at the waist, he stops at least one Steelers drive, if not two.

The Browns' lessons learned should be too obvious to state: draft defensive linemen; get younger and faster in the linebacking crew; learn how to play offense against the Steelers (maybe let Cribbs get in for a few plays to loosen things up a bit); don't waste two time outs when the game is on the line; don't run the "prevent offense" in Pittsburgh; and assign someone to follow Roth---burger wherever he is.

The Buckeyes' lessons learned aren't so easy. How do you change what you've done for decades when it's always worked, and recently been the gold standard for the Big Ten? Now, that gold standard looks more like fools gold, especially since a coach who couldn't continue coaching in the SEC made the Big Ten's best look average.


Polly said...

Brad and I were at the OSU game. We thought they going to rally, but . . you know what happened. It was sort of a death knell when my man Maurice Wells went out. IL was so quick and peppy. It was a quiet walk out of the stadium.

Barb the Evil Genius said...

Well, we had fun, anyway. It was better than being at home.

Gino said...

I had a blast. But, I still wish that, ahem, player would have turned-around.

For those who weren't there to hear me go on, and on, and on about it. During the aforementioned 100-yard kick return, a Steelers player was running two strides directly in front of the ball carrier. I can only assume he couldn't find the ball. That's why he didn't turn around and stop Cribbs.

Rick said...

Polly - sorry about the disappointment.

Barb - we had a great time.

Gino - when I saw another replay of Cribbs's return, I knew exactly what you meant. :-)