A weekend in sick bay was no fun … but there WAS a television set. And there IS a lot to review:
Let's get this out of the way right from the start. I know the guy has won a national championship and played for two more, I know he has been beating on his biggest rival like a rented mule, and I know his program is the class of its conference, but isn't it time for Jim Tressel to hire a real offensive coordinator?
He buttoned it up at the end and turned it over to the Ohio State defense with some 7:00 to play and, truthfully, Buckeye fans, deep down inside, you knew what was about to happen, right? As Southern Cal's freshman quarterback, Matt Barkley, said after the 86-yard drive that produced an 18-15 victory, "We're Trojans, that's what we do."
And what do Buckeyes do in the national spotlight against ranked, nonleague opponents? "Our defense was toe-to-toe with them and you feel for [the defense] because we need to put more points on the board," Tressel said. Well, yeah. Conservative play-calling is part of the problem. The quarterback's total skill set may be a part of it. Maybe the latter has something to do with the former. So you either change one or both or you accept the status quo.
After being critical of Tressel for conservative play calling, it would be hypocritical to rip Charlie Weis for throwing the ball and, by virtue of incomplete passes, playing into Michigan's hands by stopping the clock. Notre Dame's coach has Jimmy Clausen doing the throwing and Michael Floyd and Golden Tate running routes, so I understand his optimism. But Weis will get grief for UM being forced to use only one of three timeouts and still getting the ball back with 2:19 to play. It's lonely at the top.
What Weis might not have anticipated was that Michigan freshman Tate Forcier was about to become a Big House legend. I'm not sure there was one time last season that Rich Rodriguez's spread option offense was evident. You can see it now. And Forcier answered any questions about who should be in control of it.
Was UM's 38-34 thriller a huge step back for Notre Dame? Yes and no. On one hand, this is Weis' fifth season and, after two difficult rebuilding years, it would figure his program would be farther along than
Rodriguez's at UM, which came in one offseason and one game removed from 3-9. On the other hand, with its passing game, ND's schedule still adds up to nine wins, maybe even 10. Only that silly Lou Holtz thought the Irish were a national title contender, and I'm not sure he was serious.
Oh, yeah, that reminds me. How was Matt Millen allowed back into Michigan to do color commentary for ESPN on the UM-Notre Dame game? Didn't the state get a temporary injunction, or was it just the city of Detroit? Anyway, one night earlier, the Colorado at Toledo game featured the ESPN crew of Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham, and Bob Davie, and the analysis was head-and-shoulders better. That's not merely another shot at Millen. Cunningham knew his stuff on both teams and was really good.
Toledo's offense is the real deal. Aaron Opelt, who threw for 319 yards on just 15 completions, is finally the real deal as a senior. There are receivers all over the field, and the running game is solid. Congrats to coach Tim Beckman on his first win. It was a big one on national TV. That said - Colorado is awful. How can a Big 12 team be slower and less physical than a MAC team?
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