5 Things I Think
1. Look, we all know the Bears have gotten off to an amazing start in 2013. But we have to keep in mind the caliber of competition. Wofford and Buffalo are not going to be the games that define our season. They are a tremendous start, but hopefully, they will just be slight hills up the larger mountain that is in store for us in 2013. But saying all of that…wow. Just wow. I don't know if I could have drawn it up any better, other than Jordan Najvar's injury.
2. The Oklahoma /West Virginia game was a prime example of the importance of the quarterback position in football. Both of those teams have really good skill players and solid offensive lines. But neither quarterback (Trevor Knight or Paul Millard) were accurate enough to lead consistent drives. The two starters were a combined 31-61, 337 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 5.52 yards per pass attempt. Those are dreadful stats, especially in the Big 12. I had high expectations for the Sooners coming into 2013, because I think they fixed their defense and their offensive line is strong, but with very poor quarterback play so far, I am rather dubious of their upside.
3. I am not as concerned with the back-end of the Baylor defense as some are. Yes, they got burned a few times. But this is college football, where good defenses get burned sometimes. It happens. It doesn't help that we were completely sold out to stop the run, as Ahmad Dixon crept up on pretty much every play to put another guy in the box. Terrell Burt had the back-end all by himself, and he missed out on a few plays. It will be interesting to see what we do against a better passing attack in ULM.
4. Speaking of the back end, I think the switch of Sam Holl and Ahmad Dixon is working out even better than I thought. Holl is very fast, but has trouble turning and running with receivers. That was his biggest issue being a safety in my mind. But he is very instinctive and is great at things in front of him. Holl covering the flats and underneath routes plays into his strengths. With Dixon, he has even more room and freedom to operate. He can see the whole field better and I think can make a larger impact on the game that way.
5. The problems that Texas has on defense are a lot bigger than just Manny Diaz, or really whoever is at the controls of the defense. There just seems to be an attitude problem. Texas is not intimidating anymore. They have lost their edge fully, and are soft. BYU just simply pushed them around and bulled over them late. Funny to think that a team of 5-star players also struggles with depth, but it looked to me like they got tired and their backups were a big step back on defense.
Bringing back Greg Robinson is like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. What does it really do to help Texas this year? Mack Brown said that the problems were not scheme or players related that they just aren't doing what they are supposed to do and are inconsistent. I think Mack is in over his head on this one.
5 Things I Want
1. Jerry Palm just updated his Bowl Projections. Check out the matchup that he gives the Bears….Oregon. Can you imagine those two offenses squaring off against each other? Is the over/under set at 150? Is this the first time that both teams will have a pretty even time of possession because we know both will be going full throttle. I don't like that Mr. Palm has this happening in the Alamo Bowl, but wow. What a matchup.
2. I tend to get way ahead of myself, but this year is breaking very well for the Bears. Right now, the only two games that should truly concern the Bears are the road games against Oklahoma State and TCU. No one else has looked very good in the Big 12, as we discussed above. But saying all of that, and the Bears somehow win out…I hope their non-conference schedule and the weakness of the Big 12 doesn't hurt them too much. The Bears three non-conference games are Charmin soft, no doubt. But if the Bears run the table, do you think they get chosen to play in the National Title game over a 1-loss SEC or even Pac-12 team? I have my doubts, but I sure as heck want to find out.
3. We saw a little bit more of it against Buffalo than we did against Wofford, but what kind of weapon will Bryce Petty be on the zone/read plays? That is a big question to me. He is big and fast, and should be a good runner, but we haven't seen it yet. Even last year when we put in our version of the "Belldozer" plays for Petty in short yardage or goal-line situations, it didn't really work that well. I don't think that we have to have Bryce being a threat to run in those plays with the stable of running backs that we can throw out there, but it sure as heck wouldn't hurt.
4. With Jordan Najvar out for at least the Louisiana-Monroe game, it will be interesting to see what formations or substitution patterns evolve from him not being out there. He is our key tight end, our best blocker and a very good route runner. But all things considered, he is a phenomenal athlete that can stay out on the field for a ton of snaps, play a variety of role, and still thrive. Jerod Monk is a very good tight end, but his lack of reps in the sets that Najvar has dominated the past few years could mean some more 4 or 5 wide receiver sets for the Bears against the Warhawks. Personally, I don't think that is a terrible thing. That just means more time for Robbie Rhodes, Corey Coleman, Levi Norwood, Clay Fuller, and Jay Lee. Man, our backups are loaded at the receiver spots.
5. The big game from Week 2 was probably Michigan/Notre Dame. I find it funny that all of these ESPN commentators are talking about growing up with this rivalry on the schedule through their childhoods. These two teams didn't play from 1943 to 1977. Umm, unless you are over 75 years old or under 35, you probably don't have any fond childhood memories in front of the fire place watching them play on TV. But both Mark May and Skip Bayless testified to those exact things!
May said "Growing up in upstate New York, I used to watch it when I was growing up, when it was on television." Born in 1959, May was at the University of Pittsburg while the game was brought back in the late 70s. Bayless was even worse saying "This is not an historical... Are you kidding me? I mean, I grew up, I couldn't wait for Michigan-Notre Dame, going back to Bubba Smith." Well, this is awkward. Bubba Smith played for Michigan State, so that is strike one. Strike two is that Bayless was born in 1951, so he was 16 when these two historic rivals changed his childhood forever.
Both of these "commentators" of course work for ESPN, which just so happens to air this amazing game that has changed historical timelines like Back to the Future 2, or was it 3? I can never remember. But hey, at least I can actually say that I watched this "rivalry" in my childhood, as I was born in 1982. Please Fox Sports or NBC or CBS sports, knock this big ugly gorilla off of its perch so it can actually be great again.
5 Things I Know
1. The best team so far in the Big 12 is Oklahoma State. They dominated Mississippi State defensively, holding them to three points, and then their offense dominated UTSA scoring 56 points. Yes, they allowed 35 points, but four of those touchdowns came in the fourth quarter with all backups in. Their offense is not as good as the Bears, but I do think their defense is better and with that game in Stillwater, I have to give them the edge so far.
2. Outside of Stillwater and Waco though, I don't think any fan bases should be very happy right now. The Big 12 is off to a terrible start, and it could get worse. Oklahoma faces Notre Dame and Texas could lose another game as they play Ole Miss. Two more losses for the Big 12 in non-conference play will really hurt their overall profile. If any Big 12 team (including Baylor, as talked about above in Want #2) gets through the 2013 regular season undefeated, I don't know that they would get the choice over a 1-loss SEC or even Pac 12 team.
3. The Coaches Poll always seems to be a week behind the AP Poll in terms of letting new teams in, unless they pull off an upset. It was no surprise to me that the Coaches put us at 22nd this week, despite leaving us out of the Top 25 last week. Of course, the AP had us 23rd last week and moved us up to 22nd after our domination of Buffalo. The only team we passed was…Texas. Terrible that if they would have somehow won that game, even as ugly as they played, that they would have still been a top 15 team. I have no doubts that the Longhorns would trade their start to the 2013 season with the Bears, even if they were to have pulled of a win in Provo.
4. Bye weeks are terrible for fans. I mean, we have 1 game of football for the Bears over the month pretty much. We play once from September 8th through October 4th. I understand it from a football perspective, and it will be great to get a few players healthy. I know Glasco Martin, Jordan Najvar and even Troy Baker will really use the time well to get back on the field for West Virginia. But man, just 1 football game for almost a month!?!?
5. Big 12 Ranks after Week 2
1. Oklahoma State (2-0)
2. Baylor (2-0)
3. Oklahoma (2-0, 1-0)
4. TCU (1-1)
5. Texas Tech (2-0)
6. Texas (1-1)
7. West Virginia (1-1, 0-1)
8. Kansas State (1-1)
9. Kansas (1-0)
10. Iowa State (0-1)