Sorenson's 10 Questions: Week Two

Sept. 13, 2005

By Eric Sorenson
Special to

Some great intersectional games dotted the college football landscape last weekend. Hope you had as much fun watching as I did. So, while wondering whether there will ever be another announcer as classy and smooth as the late, legendary Chris Schenkel, here's the 10 questions for this week.
Question No. 1
What were the feel-good stories of the weekend?

A: Three things.
First, LSU winning at Arizona State. I know, don't try to argue this with an ASU fan at this moment, but with so much tragedy taking place in south Louisiana recently, the Tigers big 35-31 win was cathartic. The only thing that lives longer than alligators down on the bayou are legends. And this comeback win will be the stuff of legend for many years to come.
Secondly, the Arizona State officials and administrators. Being able to pull this game off with short notice and giving a large amount of the proceeds to the hurricane relief funds was a first class production. To handle the entire situation the way they did gave us proof to what was painted in the end zone, "We stand together."
And finally, Frank Solich winning his home opener at Ohio. The most non-rock star personality in the world has taken on a rock star persona in Athens of late, and proved his worth in leading his Bobcats to a dramatic 16-10 OT win over Pitt. Could this be the third winning season for OU in the last 25 years? That would be huge.
Question No. 2
Speaking of LSU, what is it that happens to Pac-10 opponents and their special teams when they play the Tigers?

A: Must be some kind of Cajun Mojo.
Remember last year's Oregon State game and the Beavers foibles in the extra point department? I'd venture to say that like OSU, the Devils also out-played the Tigers (Sam Keller was freaking surgeon-like out there!), but the blocked kicks were painful. Take away those gimmies and I'm willing to bet ASU gets the W by double digits. One other note to the Tigers, with so much talent on defense, giving up 560 yards is hard to explain. Bo Pelini's letter grade for game one? C-... no D+.
Question No. 3
What was worse for Ohio State, having to settle for three field goals after Texas turnovers, the dropped touchdown in the end zone or the interchanging quarterbacks?

A: None of the above.
Actually, the worst was the venom that Vince Young demonstrated when it counted in the clutch. What a performance! Forget the knock about his freelance play, his check-off improvising or his side-arm delivery. If not for a few bad decisions, this was a Heisman-like performance. Oh, one more thing OSU fans will bemoan for a long while, where was the Ted Ginn threat? Three offensive touches? If you've got a player like that, you've got to use him, people.
Question No. 4
Why have so many teams gone to the "Shield" punt formation where you have extra wide splits in the O-line and three protectors in the backfield?

A: Because they WANT their punts blocked.
You saw a good example of why this seems to be a bad fad in college football when Arizona State got one blocked by LSU that gave the Tigers their first lead of the game. Another problem I could see with it is, since the linemen have such wide splits, you're pretty much giving the defense a running start toward the three upbacks and, if you send in a guy with a 40-inch vertical leap, a blocked punt seems quite possible. How many special teams coaches will have to lose their jobs before this awful habit goes away?
Question No. 5
What are the teams that were exposed this weekend?
A: See below
- The top of the Big 10
Iowa was dominated by Iowa State, Michigan lost to Notre Dame and Ohio State dropped a spotlight game vs. Texas. So what are we left with? How about Purdue for the Big 10's best chance for the Rose Bowl? Remember, the Boilers don't play Ohio State or Michigan.
- Missouri
Losing to a decent Mountain West team (New Mexico) won't help keep Gary Pinkel's seat from getting any hotter.
- Arkansas
Not that we expected the Hogs to challenge for the SEC title or anything, but losing at home to Vandy? Ouch. Come back Matt Jones, come back.
It's difficult to keep the intensity after a big upset. So maybe losing 21-10 to cross-metroplex rival SMU shouldn't be so surprising... I take it back, it is. C'mon Frogs!
Question No. 6
Who had the best pre-game analysis this week?

A: Notre Dame's Charlie Weis
What? You thought I'd say some network talking head? Yeah right. But wily ole Charlie, in his mid-week press conference last week said, "I think too much emphasis is put on rushing yardage, rushing defense, passing yardage, passing defense... I think red zone efficiency and turnovers are the two most critical factors." Congrats Coach, against Michigan, the Irish D held the Wolverines to an 0-for-3 mark in the red zone, including an interception and a video-reviewed fumble recovery.
Oh, in that same press conference from last Tuesday, Weis also claimed that another telling stat was whether a team scored touchdowns or settled for field goals once they got in the red zone. Now, let's ask the OSU Bucks how they feel about their five field goals.
Question No. 7
I know what you all are thinking now, do USC and Texas have any chance of losing before they meet in the Rose Bowl?

A: Of course, yes.
But both will be heavily favored in all of their remaining games, no doubt about it. Let's see how they learn to live with wearing that huge bull's-eye. Just know that any letdown will be ruinous for sure.
Here are USC's potential traps:
- at Oregon:
Kellen Clements and the Ducks offense can keep them in it. Crowd will help too.
- at Arizona State:
As we saw on Saturday, ASU offense is legit. But like UO, the defense must step up.
- at Notre Dame:
This game has suddenly gone from "gimme" to "gimme some aspirin" for SC.
- at California:
The Bears' QB play will improve by the time the Trojans return to the site of their last loss.
- vs. Fresno State:
Coach Pat Hill loves these kinds of games. It's a program-maker if they pull it off.
- vs. UCLA:
We'll find out all we need to know about the Bruins Saturday vs. Oklahoma.
The Longhorns' road is a bit easier, but has some hazards:
- at Missouri:
If UT is so focused on getting Oklahoma, Brad Smith could run them ragged.
- vs. Oklahoma:
Regardless of recent results this is still a rivalry game and OU still owns them.
- vs. Colorado:
If UT was so focused on getting Oklahoma, Joel Klatt could pick them apart.
- vs. Texas Tech:
Other than throwing for 500 yards a game, Tech is still an unknown quantity.
- at Texas A&M:
Again, rivalry game in front of rabid legion of Aggie fans. You never know.
- Big 12 title game:
You all know the history this game has of ruining a team's national title hopes.
Question No. 8
If we could change one thing about this past weekend, what would it be?

A: Take the three big non-conference games (Notre Dame at Michigan, Texas at Ohio State and LSU at Arizona State) and spread them out over Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Because those were three great games that deserved their own prime time stage. Still, let's hope this isn't the last time we get three high-quality, high-drama pre-conference games like this in one day.
Question No. 9
Who gets the bonehead award for the week?

A: Marshall coach Mark Snyder
Trailing 21-19, the Herd had moved the ball to the Kansas State 21-yard line with nine seconds left in the game. Marshall still had one time out left in its hip pocket as well. So what play is called? A run to the middle of the field to set up the game-winning field goal? No, Marshall decides to try an out pattern toward the right sideline instead. Ball intercepted. Game over. Marshall loses. Fans boo. I'm still scratching my head.
Question No. 10
What is the most overused - and misleading - stat that football talking heads love to use?
A: "Team A's offensive line outweighs Team B's defensive line by an average of 50 pounds."
Look geniuses, ALL offensive lines outweigh defensive lines in college football. As an example, the University of Buffalo's O-line averages 304 pounds. Compare that to the defending national champion USC Trojan defensive line that averages 271. See? That's the case no matter what two teams you compare. Now let us never hear that phrase again. I'm talking to you Mr. Corso and Mr. Danielson (who are both guilty of using that phrase this weekend.).
And if there was a Question No. 11
What is the worst commercial I saw during games this weekend?

A: The new Red Roof Inn campaign.
They look like they were shot on home video with a shoestring budget and horrible writing. Worst moment? The shot of the guy sitting on the bed holding the TV remote control saying, "My chances of getting any work done? Remote." What kind of brainless clods do they think we are?



Read Eric's last column: Top 10 Questions: Week One


Eric Sorenson is a regular football and baseball contributor to Email your thoughts to Eric.



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