After hanging up the cleats, I spent a few years in DC where I learned energy markets. Currently I am working for a company that writes about oil and refined products markets, with my focus mostly on the West Coast. I do show up on TV every once in a while - the morning after homecoming I was on MSNBC discussing retail gasoline prices, and after that afternoon it was a little tough to get it going.
4-0, no matter how you slice it, its a beautiful thing. I dont care who we played so far - you play who is on your schedule and thats all you worry about. Coach Schiano has this team very focused, and that is obvious from our vantage point on the sidelines. For example, during the Ohio game, even with the game well in hand he was yelling and screaming. A teammate of mine (TJ Spizzo) even commented to me, man I love seeing that fire.
That focus obviously carried over to the Howard game. Although most fans would love to see the passing game reach the levels that were expected pre-season, I am fairly certain we have only seen a tiny morsel of the playbook. And I have always been a firm believer in that if they know you are going to run it and they do not stop you keep running until they do. Based on Ray Rice being #4 in rushing in the nation it seems to me they have not been able to stop it.
One thing I would like to see from our offensive line, is for their splits (the distance between the C-G and the G-T) to be a little bit wider. Coach Flood may have them playing with tighter splits. But if they widened out a bit, it creates natural running lanes. Next time you see Texas Tech play take a look at how wide their OL splits are. But with a lot of the zone plays we run, the C/G or G/T are doubling the DL until they get to the second level. And at that point, either one can pull off the double to pick up a linebacker. I love the OL and watching these big guys operate as one.
When I am not on the sidelines, my seats are in the end zone, so I can watch the OL. I would say at this point my favorite who happens to be Jeremy Zuttah. The kid is graceful and strong and most of all tough.
On the defensive side, I admit I do not know nearly enough of as some other guys who have given commentary in this space. One thing I love to see is that they are playing GREAT assignment football. Three of four opponents have run that spread/option offense, and because guys are sticking to those assignments we have been able to stop most of the running attacks of our opponents.
I know pretty much every fan is worried about Teel and whether he actually does he have the goods. I believe he does, hes had some drops, he has also recognized when he does not have a play. Against Ohio, I know he had three picks, but he also burned two balls into the ground on screens that Ohio read perfectly: thats smart football right there. The downfield game will come. One thing I've loved seeing so far is Clark Harris just running down the seams, and as the safeties and lbs creep up to stop the run, this will be open. But again if they are not stopping the running game, why go away from it. I believe Teel is real close on a lot of things, for example Shawn Tucker had about a step and a half on his defender and if Teel gets just a bit of air underneath that ball, its going for six. Hes going to get there, and a strong running game will only help accelerate that curve.
As for the rest of the season, I am as excited as the rest of you guys. This weekend will be a real test. But tell me how much are you going to love seeing that 23 next to RU on the scoring graphics on ESPN2? I see no reason why they cannot beat S. Florida, though I admittedly have not seen the Bulls play yet. But they are 3-1 and have had some tight games. From what I understand they are a one dimensional on offense, they have a very good, yet very young QB. I am sure Coach will be mixing things up to confuse him and force him into bad situations, and rookie mistakes.
Hope you guys enjoyed my observations from the Howard game and some generalizations about the season. Although the observations were not very intricate, next time I write a column for Big Dog I will take notice of some of the finer points.
Denton Cinquegrana (Class of 97)