Monday, October 20, 2014

Passing Lane

With apologies to Peter Farrell, a Notre Dame grad and the only women's track and field coach Princeton has ever had, TigerBlog struggles to root for the Fighting Irish in football.

It's because of the current head coach, Brian Kelly, who is impossible to root for, or at least that's how he comes across. Actually, TB has rooted against Notre Dame way more than he has for Notre Dame through the years. He was never a Lou Holtz guy, for instance.

Still, there TB was Saturday night, rooting for Notre Dame against Florida State in what was probably the best college football game of the year to date. Either that or Ole Miss-Alabama.

In the end, Notre Dame lost 31-27 despite having the lead five different times during the game and almost a sixth with 13 seconds left, before an offensive pass interference call wiped out what would have been Everett Golson's fourth touchdown pass.

Was it a good call? It was close. What TigerBlog wants to know is if the same call would have been made in South Bend.

Here's something else TB wants to know: What does Jameis Winston have to do before Florida State wouldn't let its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback play?

Seriously, has there ever been a player who seemingly had done more than Winston and kept playing? TigerBlog won't go into all the details, because 1) there are too many of them and 2) they're everywhere on the internet.

Yes, Notre Dame's quarterback was suspended last year. He was suspended for an academic violation at Notre Dame, not even for something that was against NCAA rules. He was perfectly eligible to keep playing, and do you think he wouldn't have under the same circumstances at Florida State?

And speaking of Florida State, what was up with its coach, Jimbo Fisher, after the game, whispering in Winston's ear like, well, TB has no idea like what? It was weird. As was his ESPN postgame interview. Who was the guy interviewing him, his brother?

Anyway, Notre Dame lost, but TB came away with a new-found respect for the program there. At least it has some academic integrity.

And Winston, Fisher and FSU? TigerBlog would root for an all-star team of the Yankees and Duke before he'd root for them.

Earlier that day, TigerBlog saw Princeton's record-setting 27-16 win over Brown. Well, sort of record-setting.

Brown quarterback Marcus Fuller set the Ivy League record for pass attempts in a game with 71. As records go, it's not quite one you start out dreaming of setting, but it's a record nonetheless.

Fuller's line for the day was quite interesting: 29 for 71 for 454 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The 71 passes contrast with eight called running plays.

In other words, Fuller threw the ball nearly nine times more than he handed it off. And while he threw 42 incomplete passes, he also averaged nearly 16 yards per completion, which is outstanding.

Perhaps it shows that completion percentage is overrated? He could have completed a lot more passes if he threw short dump-offs but for far fewer yards.

Princeton's Connor Michelsen had a big day, going 33 for 45 for 367 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. In all, four receivers in the game had at least 100 yards, which has to be a rarity.

Added up, and there were 116 passes in the game, which made it go a tad long. TigerBlog couldn't find an Ivy League or NCAA record for most passes by two teams in one game, but that's a lot of passes.

Anyway, stats weren't ultimately what this game was about.

But talking stats, Brown outscored Princeton 32-3 in the beginning and end of the last two games between the teams but lost both, largely because of that little 63-0 run Princeton went on in the middle of the two, including getting out to at 24-0 lead Saturday.

No, what this game was about was getting the win and looking ahead.

The Ivy League football season is now halfway over, which means two things: 1) only Ivy vs. Ivy games remain and 2) if it was up to TigerBlog, then there would be a league-wide week off right now before play resumed.

Each Ivy team has played two league games, and three teams are currently 2-0: Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton.

That alone makes Saturday's game on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium between the Tigers and Crimson the second huge game of the year in terms of the eventual league champ, after Dartmouth's win over Yale.

Then there's what happened the last two years between Princeton and Harvard.

The 2012 game saw the Tigers win 39-34 after trailing 34-10 with 12 minutes left. That was a wild one.

Last year might have been wilder, as Princeton beat Harvard 51-48 in three OTs.

Both of those games were won on a Quinn Epperly-to-Roman Wilson touchdown pass. Wilson, of course, has graduated, so this game cannot end the same way.

Princeton's win over Brown was fun statistically, and in the end, it was the win that Princeton needed.

This coming week?

It's much different. Princeton-Harvard. It can't possibly live up to the last two years, can it?

Or maybe it can. Regardless, it's still going to go a long way to shape the Ivy race.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Princeton runs its own version of that wide receiver screen pass all the time, the play which Brian Kelly can't seem to understand even a full day after the FSU game. The rule could not be more simple: If a receiver blocks downfield but the ball is caught behind the line of scrimmage, that's a legal reception. If the ball is caught forward of the line of scrimmage, that's offensive pass interference.

I can remember on at least two occasions this year when Princeton has been penalized for doing the exact same thing only to have Coach Surace storm onto the field to explain the rule to the officiating crew. In both cases, the flag was waved off. That's because the Princeton receiver was careful to stay onsides. Notre Dame's receiver started off running laterally but by the time the ball had arrived, was a good three yards across the line of scrimmage. That's pass interference, not a judgment call, despite Kelly's protestations on Sunday.

I notice that Coach Surace was less successful in his oratorical efforts versus Brown on Saturday when on two different plays he tried to convince the refs that movement on the Bear defensive line had contributed to our offensive lineman moving prior to the snap. When the defensive lineman moves before the ball, our guy should flinch but not point at the d-lineman. The offensive player is allowed to move if he's reacting protectively to the guy across from him, but not if he's making a judicial case for an offsides penalty. Some other Tiger has to do the pointing. Seriously.