Sunday, September 30, 2007

Gameday Recap

Week Five
September 29, 2007
Eugene, Oregon - California at Oregon

West Coast locations are tough for this show, normally, because the time zone makes the show so early. It's not that the games are undeserving or that the fans aren't rabid out west. Just in any college town, especially on a big game weekend, is it easier to gather a hungover crowd after a Friday night out at 10:00 AM or at 7:00 AM? Still it's not right for the show to use that as an excuse not to go out west and provide the natural added coverage that an on-site visit provides.

  • It's dark, but there is a very big crowd on hand. Good for them. Also, the stadium looks cool and futuristic.
  • LC: Because of the configuration of the stadium, Autzen is the loudest stadium, per person, he's ever been to in his life.
  • KH wants to move to Eugene.
  • Review of last year's Cal-Oregon game.
  • CF suggests that Cal has some trouble on the road, hadn't won in Eugene in 20 years.
  • KH says how he's been talking about the depth of the Pac 10 and how it's "closed the gap" on the SEC, says that Oregon and Cal are two reasons why that's the case. Hasn't Cal been pretty good for, like 6 years now? Oregon has gotten ranked at some point during the season just about every year. These teams have always been pretty good.
  • KH: QB/WR/RB units at Oregon and Cal are as good as any in the country.
  • CF hints about look ahead games.
  • The graphic reads "Looking Ahead?" and they mention Florida, Texas and Oklahoma. Combined record on the day: 0-3.
  • KH: Auburn is fast on defense, but Tim Tebow will be ready.
  • LC: Texas "is coming along" based upon all the points they scored the previous week against Rice.
  • Which team is most vulnerable? LC says Texas, now because they're not that good (citing Ark State and UCF). KH says none, because Florida's out for revenge against Auburn and at night and at home; Texas is at home; and Oklahoma is playing Colorado "so it doesn't really matter".
  • CF: Citing past Auburn wins in Gainesville, says there's a pattern there.
First Commercial Break
  • Darkness has lifted on the set.
  • Highlights of USF-WVU. Jim Leavitt press conference clip - this guy should not take off his visor. It's like Mike Bellotti without the 'stache. Just looks weird.
  • Now Leavitt joins via satellite for an interview. The satellite delay feedback is hard to listen to. Leavitt, I think, misses out on an opportunity here to really build up his team - he kind of downplays the importance of the WVU win and talks about one game at a time, etc. I think that's right for purposes of talking to the team and keeping the team focused, but for purposes of getting national media to pay attention, he could've/should've bragged a bit more or at least shown more excitement.
  • KH: The story of the year in college football is USF over WVU. Also, says that Leavitt is right to keep the win in perspective because he has bigger goals. My view is the opposite: if he has bigger goals than just beating WVU, Leavitt needed to play up the win and garner more attention, rather than downplay it.
  • KH also praises USF for the turnovers they've created in the Auburn and WVU games. In a way, turnovers are something to be praised but also should give a pundit some pause. Turnovers are the result of a number of things - the opposing team's error, luck, and then also forcing turnovers. USF may be forcing turnovers with a good defense and aggressive play, but it may also have had teams with unforced errors , and sometimes it's jut a tipped ball ending up in the right spot. Relying on turnovers to win games in the future might not be something you'd want to do.
  • KH: "I still think Rutgers is the team to beat in the Big East."
  • Some Rutgers/Maryland talk.
  • LC, who tells us that he once was a coach, tells us that it takes a few weeks for a team to get over a loss like Maryland had to Wake. Is this not a clear admittance that Corso wasn't a very good coach because he couldn't keep his team focused?
  • KH also likes Rutgers because they have 8 home games. Note how some teams are criticized for this by other pundits, some credit teams (or at least think teams will do well because of that).
  • They all like the Big East because a lot of teams are still in the conference race.
  • CF: in a tease, mentions Notre Dame, says "We'll hear from Charlie Weis, as we do EVERY week". Almost seems an admission that he's not sure they should cover the Irish as much as they do, but we'll see when we get to their piece.
Second Commercial Break
  • Some ACC talk. Every other BCS conference had 2 teams in the Top 10.
  • Clemson-GT talk. Fowler talks of Clemson motivation because they have a lot of Atlantans on the roster. KH focuses on "Clemson's mindset". Both Corso and Herbstreit pick Clemson.
  • Miss State-South Carolina talk. Both predict a close game, but USC to win because they're at home.
  • Alabama-FSU talk. Timeline showing ties between the Alabama staff and the FSU staff with the other school. Bobby Bowden likes Alabama. Corso picks FSU by a TD (nailed). KH picks Bama, but questions whether they can get up for 3 straight games and Fowler agrees. Fowler says "let him play, get him back in there" regarding the FSU starter who was arrested and tasered and will be benched for the start of the game. Here's hoping Fowler won't bring out sanctimonious handwringing for other teams that use lenient punishments against players.
  • Tease on best players in the nation, Howard interviews DeSean Jackson, and says that we'll see if the grasshopper can steal the pebble from the master.
Third Commercial Break
  • Extended interview with DeSean Jackson and Desmond Howard. Breaking down film of returns.
  • Best Player in the Country is the topic.
  • KH says Mike Hart at Michigan is the most valuable, and Dennis Dixon and Andre Woodson could also be the most valuable, but the best player is Darren McFadden (but also look out for Sedrick Ellis).
  • LC jabs Herbstreit by asking if KH would like to name any more players. LC says Mike Hart is the best player in the country, because Lloyd Carr vouches for him.
  • CF says Tim Tebow is playing the best in the country.
  • LC again talks about Hart because not just ability but leadership.
Fourth Commercial Break
  • Clip of the Oregon mascot fighting the Houston Cougar.
  • Tale of the Tape between the animals that are the mascots for Cal and Oregon.
  • Buy/Sell time. Fowler recaps briefly the previous week.
  • Miami: LC is selling because of tough schedule coming up. KH is buying because A&M win.
  • Louisville: LC is selling because defense is not correctable. KH is also selling because off the field problems.
  • The Duck behind them is making the hosts crack up. Good for the Duck.
  • Kentucky: LC is buying because they're a "cinderella team". KH is also buying Kentucky because something's going on there.
  • Nebraska (after a recap the Ball State game): LC is buying because they have good fans. KH is selling because Missouri is better.
Fifth Commercial Break
  • Piece on Trick Plays. Chris Connelly reporting. Again, considering Connelly's body of work in previous years, his work this year has been unbelievably great. This piece was fantastic. In the past, Connelly's pieces were always beyond dumbed-down and usually only tangetially football-related. This one had plays broken down, interesting interviews. GREAT piece.
  • Shockingly, Corso likes FSU's trick plays the best - says it's because they were the ballsiest. KH adds how rarely trick plays work in practice.
Sixth Commercial Break
  • Desmond Howard on the set now.
  • Big Ten talk - the crowd boos.
  • OSU-Minnesota. Corso likes OSU big.
  • Penn State-Illinois. Howard calls the Illini win. KH praises Penn State's receivers but questions whether Paterno is using them well enough. KH also picks Penn State because of redemption.
  • Michigan State-Wisconsin. Howard picks Wisconsin because of turnovers. Corso gives Howard the NSFMF, picks MSU. KH thinks MSU is different this year because of the coaching staff, and that Wisconsin hasn't lived up to the expectations - and because of that Wisconsin steps up and wins. See if you can follow Herbstreit's logic: because people in the media (like Kirk Herbstreit) have placed expectations on Wisconsin, and because people like Herbstreit think Wisconsin (though unbeaten) hasn't lived up to what people like Kirk Herbstreit think they should be doing, Wisconsin will want to prove people like Kirk Herbstreit wrong by playing well, thereby living up to the expectations of people like Kirk Herbstreit and proving them right.
Seventh Commercial Break
  • Have I missed the Brady Quinn Gillette Game Face Commercials before.
  • Game Face features face paint. Not much of a surprise.
  • Some discussion of Mike Gundy and the Jenni Carlson controversy. Jenni Carlson gets a chance to respond - admits that she used hearsay.
  • CF thinks the column was out of bounds but Gundy's response was too.
  • KH also says Gundy handled it wrong, but takes specific note of those in the media who instantly attacked Gundy in Carlson's defense - and doesn't like that.
  • Corso, who again tells us that he was a coach, says he would've done things differently, ignored the article in public, would've had a meal with the columnist and let it go.
  • Fowler also seems to want to defend Carlson by suggesting that Reid is old enough to handle criticism. Fowler then says that because kids younger than Reid are in Iraq getting killed, Reid should be able to handle it.
  • KH makes a point about how the Oklahoma State players and recruits know that Gundy has their back - and Corso agrees with that, but then says that Gundy will mature and won't let these things bother him.
Eighth Commercial Break
  • Recap of Oregon-Stanford.
  • Dennis Dixon extended piece. Shelley Smith reporting. More football content than human interest story.
  • ASU-Stanford. KH says this is a huge game, but that Stanford's in trouble.
  • USC-Washington. Biggest key for Washington is to keep the crowd in the game and avoid turnovers and get a running game going. LC says someone is going to beat USC on the road (but not Washington).
  • Howard on the bus says people chatting are giving more credence to Cal's win over Tennessee than Oregon's win over Michigan.
Ninth Commercial Break
  • UGA-Ole Miss reference (not really talk).
  • Florida-Auburn talk.
  • Oregon fans were chanting "Tebow Sucks" for a bit there, so it's not just Georgia fans.
  • Tim Tebow mechanics extended piece. Wendi Nix reporting. Useful, informative and interesting. This one wasn't as much about hyping Tebow it could've been.
  • Fowler says little chance of a look-ahead for Florida because Auburn beat them last year.
  • Graphic Reads "How Good is Tim Tebow". KH calls him Roy Hobbs, the Natural. Now here's the hype for Tebow. KH says the threat of Tebow running makes it almost impossible to stop Florida. KH picks the Gators BIG.
  • LC focuses on Florida's defense and how Ole Miss gave them a lot of trouble. Gives good info on Florida's D. Corso also says Auburn doesn't have a chance against Florida.
Tenth Commercial Break
  • Notre Dame-Purdue talk. Purdue apparently does something right on kickoff returns, but they don't tell us exactly how they do it.
  • Fowler tells us how AWESOME Notre Dame is doing at recruiting and how the future is still bright. This is fluffery.
  • Clip of Charlie Weis's press conference.
  • Corso says Purdue hasn't played anyone, won't cover. Herbstreit isn't sure Notre Dame will beat even Air Force, Navy, Duke and Stanford.
  • Herbstreit, I believe repeating something he said last week, says Purdue is best when people aren't paying attention.
  • Oregon fans are booing Jimmy Clausen.
Eleventh Commercial Break
  • Clip of Animal House, shot at Oregon.
  • Extended piece on Jonathan Stewart and his running mechanics (similar to Tebow story). Shelley Smith reporting. The extended pieces were very good this week. Again, they avoided the gauze lens tearjerkers, and the show was much better for it.
  • Fowler tells us that Cal's defense is banged up. I always appreciate injury reports.
  • Corso breaks down some Oregon offensive plays. Corso also thinks it'll be a shootout.
  • Howard comes back on the set to tell us that special teams will be key.
  • Howard said something here that confuses me. He says that because of the threat of a good return guy, sometimes teams force punters to do something they're not comfortable with - directional punting. OK so far. But then he says "sometimes those punts end up beating the coverage down the field and go directly to the returner". Directional punting isn't supposed to do that at all. It's supposed to angle the punt as far away from the returner as possible, by putting the ball out of bounds. The risk is that you're giving up more yards by not punting as far. If a directional punt beats the coverage and ends up in the returner's hands, it was simply a really bad punt - not a directional punt. Howard suggests that bad punting leads him to pick Cal.
  • Herbstreit breaks down Cal's WRs and how coverage of Jackson opens things for other offensive threats.
  • Fowler says Autzen is no louder than it used to be, but it is bigger. I have trouble believing that.
Twelfth Commercial Break
  • On-site report with Rob Simmelkjaer at LSU-Tulane. Pelican Patch.
  • On-site report with Erin Andrews at ND-Purdue. Says Notre Dame was going to throw more.
  • Fowler offers $100 if anyone knows the nation's leading rusher.
  • Pontiac Game Changer. LC - Chris Painter, QB for Purdue. KH - Cullen Harper, QB for Clemson. CF - Justin Forsett, RB at Cal. Painter and Forsett both had good, if not great games.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections. LC - Oregon State, USC "big", Rutgers, Clemson, Michigan State, Florida "big", Oregon. KH - Rutgers, Clemson, Alabama, Florida "nobody can beat them at home". Bad week picking for Corso.
Another solid show. Good crowd. Good extended pieces. If they keep this up, I won't really have to do these recaps. There's still some unnecessary promotion and some intangible-focused analysis, but the last 2 weeks are almost a completely different show from the first three weeks.

The results this week really must've messed with their probable plans for next week's show. I have to think they were 80% going to LSU-Florida, 20% going to Oklahoma-Texas. Now, with three of those teams losing, might Ohio State-Purdue or Illinois-Wisconsin come into the mix? I'd still bet LSU-Florida, but OSU-Purdue is the only matchup of unbeatens. Either way, next weekend is the best lineup of games so far all year. You've got the games listed above, but also Georgia-Tennessee, Cincinnati-Rutgers, Clemson-VT, Nebraska-Missouri and (on Thursday) Kentucky-South Carolina.