Posts of the Week
Each week, we will highlight a few entertaining and/or informative posts from the previous week. Please keep in mind that it is hard to keep track/prioritize all posts so we would welcome input from all Booties. You can make a "Bootie Selection" post as a response to any post that you deem worthy or you can email a link (to the nominated post) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are the posts that made this week's list:
Subject: Alumni Game Highlights
In a slugfest this afternoon, the 2002 Stanford team defeated
the alumni, 17-15. Here are a few highlights :
* Chris O'Riordan hit a solo homer in the first inning of current major leaguer Jeff Austin.
* Austin also gave up a triple to freshman Danny Putnam to deep centerfield that nearly carried out of the yard.
* Steve Gantenbein also clubbed a home run. Gantenbein's came in the 7th inning and was a three-run homer.
* Billy Paganetti led the offensive attack with a four hit performance. The varsity team finished the afternoon with 23 hits.
* John Hudgins got the start and pitched well (3 IP, 1 R). David O'Hagan (3 IP, 12 R) then came on and was hit around by the alumni. Drew Ehrlich threw a scoreless 7th inning and was credited with the win. J.D. Willcox closed it out as after giving up a two-run homer to Dave McCarty he settled down and recorded the final six outs without giving up a run.
* The starting lineup : Sam Fuld (CF), Chris O'Riordan (2B), Ryan Garko (C), Carlos Quentin (RF), Arik VanZandt (1B), Andy Topham (SS), Brian Hall (3B), Danny Putnam (LF), Billy Paganetti (DH).
* Alumni highlights included a two-homer game from McCarty, a 3-hit game from A.J. Hinch, and an impressive 2-for-3 from Mike Wodnicki.
Although much of this may have been discussed in various
threads below, I wanted to combine all of my thoughts after
yesterday's discouraging game.
1. We have an explosive passing game with potentially big problems. We have no one who seems to be able to get open on a designed play more than 10 yards downfield. After we exposed WSU's running defense late in the first quarter, they simply went to single coverage and stacked the middle of the field. Randy rarely throws more than quick passes on pattern and it is simply because receivers are not open. It seems like most of our big plays happen either when Randy scrambles or when he can simply sit in the pocket for a long time and wait for someone to break the pattern and get open.
2. Our pass rush, particularly after Leonard went out, was a real problem. Generally, the only pressure we got was when both of our LBs blitzed. WSU simply killed us by running short crossing routes over the middle. With no help, there is simply no way cornerbacks are going to stay with WRs on those routes. You have to have a LB or safety who can blindside or crunch the WR or at least disrupt the passing lanes. We had no one in the middle when we blitzed but if we didn't blitz, Gesser had all day and then some.
3. We are using the TE a lot more but it appears that we could increase the use, particularly given our problems at WR. We do not seem to have a hot received to go to when we are blitzed.
4. Give WSU credit, they dominated the 4Q. It was hot and the injuries exposed our lack of depth as we seemed out of gas on the defensive side of the ball. I question why we never seem to play some of the young players. If memory serves me correctly, Wilson, Torrence, Otogwe, Cobb Blackhurst and Svitek never got on the field (except Special Teams). Gordon only played on obvious passing downs. As a result, Hoover, Lee, and the CBs were on the field a lot on a 90 degree day with no breeze. We had the same problem late in the game on offense, our OL had played almost the entire game without substitution. Weinacht played some for Schindler and Kolich replaced Quaccia when he was hurt but I don't think Harris or Chambers ever came out. I don't blame the school for the time of the game, mid-October is rarely this hot and 2 is much better than 12:30.
5. The interception by Lewis was a killer. On the other hand, we were running the ball effectively, I question why you bring a guy off the bench to throw a touch pass-he simply tried to lob it in there and woefully underthrew it.
6. We ran one beautiful pass play over the middle to Carter (spread out with 4 WRs and run a circle route out of the backfield with a LB failing to keep up-I never saw us run it again to either RB. We used to throw passes over the middle to Darrin Nelson for huge gains, Walsh had it as a staple of his 49er offense, why can't we ever throw it. As with my comment on TEs, I do not understand why we don't throw the ball more over the middle. It is an easier throw and we just seem to ignore it except on scrambles and flanker screens.
7. I have no stats, only a sense that the 4 WR offense is not very effective for us. I would much prefer the 2 RB and 1 TE than putting our 3rd and 4th WR on the field.
8. Why do we run a short pass to the flat to Teyo with Powell blocking for him. Wouldn't it be a lot more effective to throw the pass to Powell with Teyo blocking.
9. When you see a formation with McCullum and Bowman as the only two WRs, does everyone else in the stands know that it is either a running play or a bomb to Bowman.
10. I don't think we ran one draw play all game.
I still think we can win 8 or 9 this year but teams with decent CBs and a spread offense are going to give us fits. Our run defense continues to be very impressive and our running game and Fasani's improvisations will keep us scoring 30 or more.
Subject: Random Thoughts
1) After 4 games, we are 3-1. We have a very good team. The team made a bunch of mistakes and still had a chance to win the game. Don't panic.
2) Our offensive line is outstanding. Yes, there were seven sacks, but most of them were coverage related. Fasani has got to throw or run after 3 seconds in the pocket. If the line gives him a full three seconds in the pocket, they've done their job and he's got to either throw it away or start running out of the pocket right now. I counted exactly one time in the game when he threw the ball away on purpose, and the refs threw a flag for grounding, only to later pick it up. He needs to realize that throwing the ball away to avoid a sack is okay. You don't have to throw a touchdown on every play. Still we dominated in the running game and that's a good defense. Our linemen are huge, I got to meet them all on Friday and the first six are all 300 lbs plus at a minimum. Quaccia weighs 315 and he's a rock, an extremely thick guy. Kwame looks like a lean 320. Quaccia and Heitmann are absolute maulers in the middle, they just crush people. Kolich did okay when he got in there, but he's a big dropoff from Zack.
3) Special teams has now cost us a game. Let's hope this is the only one.
4) The mistakes we made can be largely attributed to the bye week. Not entirely, but largely, mind you.... The team simply had a hard time executing and was not in game shape. They were rusty and as a result we give away a bunch of points on mistakes. I can tell you from experience that players get their bodies on a rhythmic clock during the season and our clock has been starting and stopping up until now. We won't have that problem the rest of the season. This loss also taught our team how important it is to really be on top of their execution all the time because it will cost you big time.
5) The Pac-10 race is far from over. I still think we can win out or finish 6-1 the rest of the regular season. We can beat Oregon and Washington if we come to play, stay healthy and execute. They are both excellent teams, but they are not a whole lot better than us. UCLA has a better team than we do, but we match up well with their strengths. Their whole ballgame on offense is DeShaun Foster, and we stop the run very well. If we can contain him and force Paus to beat us, we've got a shot. I still think WSU will lose at least two Pac-10 games, as will Oregon. Washington finishes 5-3 in the Pac-10, you heard it here first. UCLA could run the table, they could lose one, or they could lose two. The bottom line is that if we win out in the Pac-10 we guarantee ourselves a share of the title.
I think that's still very realistic because our team hasn't even come close to playing its best football yet.
6) I think it's time to simplify the offense a bit. Until someone proves they can stop our rushing attack, let's be a rushing team first, similar to the 91 or 95 team. When we do throw, I'd like to see much less 5 and 7 step dropback game. I think Randy should be throwing more playaction slants and post to Luke. I'd also like to see some more screens to Luke and to Sebes. Three step drops with quick outs to the tight ends are also something I'd like to see more. Teams are going to continue to blitz us until Randy burns them on some hot reads, and that just hasn't happened. To counter the blitz, let's run more 3 step quick passes, more screens, and more playaction. Those are the types of 1st down plays I'd like to see say, 40% of the time, and then let's run it down peoples' throats. If it's 3rd and 15, sure, let's go back 5 steps and throw it around, but I just don't think the dropback game is Randy's strength right now, especially against the blitz. Also, Teyo, Natcho and Casey all need to be catching more balls where they are the primary reads. Bottom line, play smash-mouth, dink and dunk and screen in the passing game with some screens and more balls thrown to the TEs and FBs to combat the blitz and then go downtown via playaction to Teyo, Nacho, Sebes and most of all, Cool Hand Luke.
7) Bowman shouldn't play in the rotation anymore, we have to send a message. If you can't make plays, you can't play, because we've got guys to replace you. Sebes should get his snaps now. McCullum should also play more, and perhaps Camarillo. Nacho should also see a few reps at split end with Wells taking some snaps at flanker once and a while.
8) I love the formation we ran the two point option play on with Pierce and Smith at the tight ends, Nacho and Teyo at the wideouts, and Brian Allen as the single setback. I think we should use that more in the middle of the field. You can run the zone play with two tights, throw the fades or slants to Teyo and Nacho, throw to Pierce or Smith inside on quick outs or seam routes or run the option. It really puts the defense in a tough position. You could also put Powell in as the halfback and either pitch it to him on the option or send him out on a flare route matched up against a linebacker... Oh the possibilities.
9) Not to look ahead, but Brian Poli-Dixon is out for 3 weeks, and presumably against us. That will really help us out against the Bruins. We've had trouble with big receivers and now we just have to focus on Foster and make Paus beat us with - Tabb on the outside... We should put eight in the box at all times, play Tank as an extra linebacker, Simba deep over the top and man to man on the corners.
I think that game will be closer than people expect, not because UCLA isn't good, but because we match up extremely well with their strengths. Their defense is fast but I don't know if they're going to be prepared for how physical our line and backs will play. In many ways our offense will negate their speed by going right at them.
10) Fasani is going to be jacked for the Oregon game. He really wants to outplay Harrington. If Randy can play within himself and make the right reads I think he stands to really impress a big audience. Nothing will help his quest more than a Cardinal victory. Prediction: We smoke these guys 49-31!!!!!!!
Subject: Regency effects
It's easy to see a weekend's game in light of the previous
weekend's game, but rarely a good idea. It's like predicting
Tiger's back nine based on his front, which seems safe in
theory--but which would have led to a first round 80 in his first
Masters, instead of the 70 (40-30) he shot.
I've been through a career of bizarre losses, right there in the stands when Rod Garcia set some kind of record for futility, and humiliating and shocking losses to Air Force, Duke, S Jose State, and heaven knows who else.
But if one week proves anything, Ohio State beats Wisconsin by at least 21 last weekend, and Indiana sweeps the rest of its schedule. And in our Rose Bowl year, we go 1-10, 2-9 tops, following that Texas whatever-it-was.
And it's easy to let one play change your entire perception. If Johnson gets off the punt or Bowman makes the catch, we're probably giving our team A's and a few B's and expecting, if life is fair, that we will win in Autzen. Instead, we're viewing them as a strong favorite--or at least, many of us are.
But our problems aren't deep; we can run the ball and stop the run. We can pass the ball and stop the pass. We outreturn our opponents on kicks and punts, create more turnovers than we surrender, and get penalized less often than our opponents.
We've lost one game because we badly lost one quarter, largely because of turnovers that can be avoided. Despite that near-comedy of errors, we scored 39 points against a top 20 defense that has proven tougher than the defense we face this weekend--and absent an uncharacteristic mistake (we rarely throw interceptions), we might've hit for 46.
Just like Wisconsin last weekend, we'll be focused, especially on avoiding the blunders that cost us our first loss. I've seen Oregon twice this year, and they aren't terrifying. The running game has taken a step back, which helps us focus more on Harrington. Their defense took some huge hits in their front seven, and now is without its leading tackler.
I think Oregon is about two points better than Washington State on a neutral field. Despite the loss, I still think we're 8 points better than Washington State on every given day. So I like our chances Saturday a lot, assuming we are near full strength; I agree we slip badly if Leonard and Freeman both are out, and it we are without three linebackers. And on a damp field (when I left Monday, they were forecasting mostly sunny with a strong chance of showers), I'd love to have Carter in the backfield. But I'll still take our chances. If Washington State can go up 35-21 at halftime against Stanford at Stanford, Stanford certainly can beat Oregon in Autzen.