I was in Marco Island, Florida a few weeks ago. I still owned sandals then - the “athletic” kind that Nike or Columbia make. The sort that I’ve read a few times any self-respecting male shouldn’t wear. But I’m a dad, so I own them. Owned them, anyway.
Turns out that despite all the promises on the shoe box, you can only demand so much from sport sandals. They’re supposedly designed for a fair amount of rugged wear and tear, but they’re not designed for what I put them through in Marco Island. At one point, when the temperature was in the high 90s, I found myself walking 6 miles along the main road at about noon. Turns out the glue that binds the soles and the rest of the sandal wasn’t meant for side-of-the-road walking at noon in August in Marco Island, Florida. And after about 5 miles, the sole separates, and you spend the last mile looking like a truck trying to drive with a blown-out tire.
This leads me to Steve Spurrier.
During South Carolina’s opening game against Vanderbilt, I was reminded of the look of those sandals on their last mile. Vanderbilt looks surprisingly competent, and SC’s starting QB suffered a shoulder injury to his throwing arm. Spurrier and the Gamecocks won the game, but there was a look on Spurrier’s face that, on the surface, signaled irritation, but combined with his stance - hunched over, holding himself up with his hands on his knees - it really screamed exhaustion. And that was in week 1.
South Carolina currently averages exactly 400 yards per game. The gamecocks sit at 8th in the most recent AP poll, after that contest against Vanderbilt and another with ECU. They feature a middle-of-the-pack Heisman contender in running back Marcus Lattimore and Spurrier is one of the all-time great innovators in offensive football. And at their current pace of 400 yards per game, they’re more than a full game behind UCLA in offensive production. Yeah, UCLA.
UCLA has been 88th, 100th, and 72nd in total offensive production over the last 3 years. And tonight they’re 3rd behind Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Their red-shirt QB, Bret Hundley, is the talk of the town today, but what should really make hard core fans of football sit up and take notice is the Bruins’ rushing game - currently ranked 3rd in the country. They average 7.39 yards per rush.
The stats are incredible - oh what a difference a coach makes - but what’s really amazing is to actually watch the Bruins with your own eyes. The opposition hasn’t so much missed tackles of their lead running back, Johnathan Franklin as much as he’s dismissed those attempts. Wide receivers make names for themselves by showing up 40 yards down field to make key blocks on running plays. And everyone’s legs are moving faster than their opponents. There’s no hesitation with the Bruins offense and it’s damned fun to watch.
Less fun to watch has been Penn State. Never mind they’re now 0-2 with losses to Ohio and Virginia. The Nittany Lions have managed to average just 15 points per game. And to top that off, their kicking game left 13 points off the board by missing 4 field goals and an extra point against Virginia. I normally take great joy in the misery of others, but it’s not even fun to pick on the Nittany Lions any more. Thanks, Joe. You ruined everything.
Everything was somehow on the line for Notre Dame against Purdue this weekend. And when that happened, naturally Brian Kelly looked to Tommy Rees to finish a game in which starting QB Everett Golson had completed 68% of his passes at 9.3 yards per attempt. Rees gamely missed on 5 of his 8 throws and lulled the Purdue defense into over-confidence with 4.4 yards per attempt while driving the Irish down the field to set up a game-winning field goal in the final 2 minutes. Winning a game like this is incredibly improbable, but to call it “luck” is inaccurate. That was way too ugly for luck.
4.4 yards per attempt is bad, but 4.04 yards is even worse. That’s what New Mexico is currently averaging. The Bob Davie coached Lobos stand at 1-1 after destroying Southern University in week 1 and then going scoreless against Texas in week 2. Put another way, Bob Davie coached his team to a 66 point drop in production from the first week to the second. I didn’t watch that game, but I have to figure at half-time Texas’ AD offered New Mexico’s AD the invocation of a mercy rule and a replacement for Bob Davie from any of their graduate assistant staff.
Perhaps Arkansas would like that deal. The now-formerly #8 Razorbacks lost to Louisiana Monroe and have since dropped out of the top 25 entirely. Arkansas head coach John L Smith also filed for bankruptcy this week. That’s a bad week. Then again, Nick Saban and Alabama once lost to Louisiana Monroe too, and that’s all worked out well for the Crimson Tide. Maybe Arkansas should be patient. It’s doubtful that Nick Saban has ever filed for bankruptcy, however. There’s a reason the term “Saban-money” exists among fans who long for him. Since 2006 John L Smith has reminded me of blown-out sport sandals. He’s probably exhausted too. Bankruptcy must involve a lot of paper-work.