I never thought I would say it, but thank God I'm back at work. After suffering through a rough weekend full of sports, I'm actually happy to be looking at financial statements and tax returns, instead of watching one of my favorite teams take it on the chin. Read here for my thoughts on all that went wrong.
UCLA 35, Illinois 17
I think Ron Turner must have watched a lot of the recent Republican National Convention, because his offensive game plan went conservative. I liked the two big play-action passes, but there were too many handoffs up the middle that were going nowhere.
Speaking of handoffs up the middle, when you need an inch or two, utilize the quarterback sneak. I don't care if your quarterback is mobile or immobile, just get right behind the center and fall forward.
If or when Jon Buetjer is healthy again, I like the idea of him splitting time with Brad Bower at quarterback. Buetjer shows flashes of brilliance at times, but he also under and over throws his receivers occasionally. Bower's athleticism gave the Illini a little bit of a spark that will be needed if they are to hang with teams in the Big Ten. I'm not saying that you rotate quarterback every series, but give Bower around ten snaps per game. This makes the defense prepare for two quarterbacks and maybe you can catch them off guard.
Coach Turner mentioned after Saturday's game that he had limited the offensive playbook while Brad Bower was in the game. Why? Bower is a redshirt freshman and had all last year to study the offensive playbook. Show some faith in the kid and let him run the whole package.
The first time that poor tackling really set off a red flag in my mind was during the Sugar Bowl against LSU. Ever since then, and possibly before, Illinois defenders have tried to tackle with one arm and failed to wrap up their opponent. If they do wrap their arms around a ball carrier, it's usually around their head and the player breaks free. I think Coach Mallory needs to break out the one-man tackling sled today and work on fundamentals for the majority of practice.
I understand that things can get heated between players on a football field, but Alan Ball stepping on an opponent should not be tolerated. It would have been bad enough if he did it and got away with it, but to do that directly in front of an official is ridiculous. Coach Turner made a good decision by pulling him out of the game right then and getting on his case, but I think he should have sat for the rest of the contest.
Detroit 20, Chicago 16
Yesterday was the last time that I watch a Bears game on FOX and listen to the commentary of Brian Baldinger. As much as I don't like Bears radio commentator Hub Arkush, he's light years ahead of Baldinger. I hope that Kent Mercker was watching the game at Wrigley Stadium (Baldinger's name for the park) and had some broadcasting advice for the former Duke football player.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I tuned in expecting to see Lovie Smith's new-look Bears, but I saw Dick Jauron's same-old Bears. I thought that the firing of Dick Jauron and his staff would be worth at least 2 wins for the Bears. Even Jauron's teams could beat the Lions at home.
The Good: David Terrell's 5 catches for 126 yards
The Bad: Terrell's constant celebrating and taunting after every catch
The Ugly: 95 yards in penalties, 2 interceptions, 2 lost fumbles and that stupid blocked field goal
Did you know that the Lions hadn't won a road game since the 2000 season? I hadn't heard that. They should really talk about that more.
Miami (FL) 16, Florida State 10
If I'm Bobby Bowden, I call QB Chris Rix into my office today and shake his hand and send him on his way. I find it hard to believe that there isn't a better quarterback on the Seminoles roster than Rix. Between throwing interceptions off his back foot and mishandling a shotgun snap in overtime, Rix once again collapsed in a big game.
Around the Big Ten
Somebody needs to inform Lloyd Carr that you play four quarters, not three, in college football. Michigan once again loses a road opener that they should win. Tyrone Willingham can now come out from under that bus Notre Dame fans threw him under after their loss to BYU.
The Purdue football machine put up over fifty points once again. When the Boilermakers come to Champaign on September 25th, the scoreboard is likely to get a workout.
Ohio State hangs on to win a close one against a MAC team, much like they did in their 2002 National Championship season. Before he left for Chicago, former OSU QB Craig Krenzel must have given current QB Justin Zwick a lesson in winning the nail biters.
Minnesota follows up a thrashing of a good Toledo team by letting Division 1-AA Illinois State hang around. Indiana wins on the road at Oregon. It was just another wacky Saturday in college football.
Around the NFL
This just in, the Colts just turned the ball over in the red zone again.
Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens had some fun on Sunday against the Giants, but let's see how buddy-buddy they are when they play a team that has a chance of winning more than three games this season. Things could turn sour in Philly the instant that McNabb doesn't get the ball to T.O. for three touchdowns a game.
Option 1: Jay Fiedler. Option 2: A.J. Feely. No wonder the Dolphins are so upset about losing Ricky Williams.
It's good to see that for all the hype made about Deion Sanders return to the NFL, he was able to help his team so much.
Jerome Bettis: Five carries, one yard and three touchdowns. The wheels on the bus might be flat, but you can drive one yard on the rims.
Around College Volleyball
Not all went wrong this weekend for fans of the Illini. Don Hardin's Illini defeated two-time defending national champion and top-ranked USC. The Illini ended USC's 52 match winning streak.
Hey, what did we learn this weekend?
I'm a dope, because my Big Ten and NFL football picks were way of the mark.
I'm a dope, because I thought the Illini could go 6-5 and the Bears could go 9-7.