Thursday, March 25, 2004

Early Games 03

New Year's Day, 2003
10:04: gain consciousness, eyes closed, smiling thinking about watching games ALL DAY LONG.
- walked out into the living room where Judy (Mandy's mom) is flipping channels - first onscreen image she stops on is the opening title of a movie: "Flesh and Blood" - gotta like that omen.
- Options: can watch pregame on TV or go get coffee. Definitely Coffee. Listening to XM on the road, the comedy channel has George Carlin talking shit about football. "It's a ground acquisition game." I get that Carlin was important to develop early comedy but really - by 87, he wasn't funny. And now, it's just sad.
- On ESPN radio, Tony Kornhieser has Al Michaels. God sports talk sucks.
- My gas station has, as always, stellar coffee. Great creamers, and 52 cents to refill my 7-11 mug. My system is flawless. But since we're talking coffee, if you're making it at your house, it's basicly Folgers Classic (medium) and Coffee Mate creamer. Anything more high brow, you paid too much. Anything less, you've got bad coffee.
- Wrong kind of salsa. Damn. Resist the queso jar. RESIST!
- On XM, I've got BBC on the way home - 2 islands in the pacific got crushed by a tycoon, Brazil has a new President, it's 2003 and let's get it ON!

11:03 - You're looking LIIIVEEEE at Mandy's living room, cuz this is the one day of the year that I really regret not having cable. ESPN has Michigan and Florida. There's another game on, but we'll get to it.
Quick Index:

2-3: Florida coach Ron Zook vs. ranked teams (I think it says more that he's played 5 ranked teams in one year).
6.5: Inches of rain that fell on Tampa Bay last night, home of today's Outback bowl, but today's weather is perfect (the storm was a "frog strangler" as the good ol' boy announcer will eventually call it)
47: conference titles between these schools
5: Heisman winners between the schools
5: Heisman winners at USC - apropos of nothing...
0: times these teams have met.

11:05 - John Navarre on the sideline, warming up. Last seen at the end of an unimpressive effort in Columbus, Ohio, throwing an endzone INT against Ohio State which gave us the bowl line-up we have now.
11:06 - My parents just called. I'm on the phone with them as I type. FUCK. This is going to be serious juggling.
Key points from the parents conversation:
- my parents celebrated New Years last night at 10 pm then went home.
- The Air Force game apparently came down to a goal line stand at the buzzer. My dad wishes he'd stayed up for it.
- My sister is back in LA.
11:09 - Kickoff in Tampa Bay. Still on the phone.
11:10 - Rex Grossman is majoring in Travel and Tourism. Gonna have to keep track of cheesy majors today. Wait, it gets better - UF RB Graham is a Liesure Services Management major.
11:13 - Parents finally off the phone, after giving them Judy's email and assuring them Xmas presents were all passed out correctly to Mandy's sisters. KILLING ME.
11:18 - LSU FG, 3-0.
11:21 - Fox's idiot announcing team just told us that Simms sucking in the clutch "has toughened him up mentally."
11:25 - Mandy has me up and ironing jeans during the game (this will not stand), and Karen just called to talk to Judy cuz she thinks her boyfriend might dump her today. LOT of balls in the air here at the WarrenDome.
11:48 - Best talent so far today is LSU QB Marcus Russell. This guy is optioning, running and throwing all over Texas.
11:51 - ESPN shows Michigan's stats versus Ohio State, illustrating that Navarre and thems dominated the Buckeyes - which I've been saying since that afternoon. Let's not get started.
11:53 - LSU goes back up 10-7 on a Russell pass. Had to be watching the UF-UM game on ESPN to be told that the teams in the Fox game, LSU and Texas - flagship schools of adjoining, closely aligned states - last played 40 years ago today in the Cotton Bowl.
11:56 - Cedric Benson picks up 11 yards on a leftside run -1st play of the 2nd quarter and Hook'em's 4th offensive play of the game. LSU's Russell is running this game. Another one of these bad openings for UT that you can't quite put on Simms, but that reflect on him anyway.
11:58 - 3 more and out for UT.
11:59 - Flip back. Florida seems to have scored. Seems to have come off a 50ish yard play action down-the-middle streak to the RB. On the replay, about 15 Wolverines appear to have bounced off him before tripping him up at the 2.
12:02 - 2003 is 12 hours old, and UF has 159 yards to UM's 40. Still, 7-7.
12:03 - And if you liked that total yards stat, you'll love this one: LSU 268- Texas 17. Can that be right? This is Fox, afterall.
12:04 - Make that 280 or so. LSU guy just ran around, over and through all 11 UT defenders for a TD. 17-7, LSU.
Double commercial, and Tommy Lee Jones is telling me that SBC, the Cotton Bowl's title sponsor and a major Texas telecom company, is just a big ol' heapa "working people" who want to help you "get home for dinner." Next ad is for the NY Stock Exchange. I don't know anything about SBC, but I DO know that if you get Tommy Lee Jones to do your ads and you are the telecom company for a big chunk of Texas and the NY Stock Exchange advertises on your football game - you are not just a blissful utopian worker's paradise dedicated to no greater good than making sure "working people" get "home for dinner."
12:08 - Simms wakes up. From the 50, finds Roy Williams, against LSU's best corner Cory Webster, open over the middle. It's all Williams, who outsprints Webster for 40 yards, and it's 17-14. Simms celebrates on the sideline with a little geek-spas dance that looks like he's being electrocuted.
12:11 - "Now That's What I'm Talking About" - my favorite ad, the ESPN sports ad, where the guy in the hotel room closes the ad yelling "Now That's What I'm Talkin' About!" at the TV. Gonna report that everytime it comes on.
12:12 - It's the Outback bowl so we get a sideline interview of Outback pres. Paul Avery - He is "over-elated" to have Florida and Michigan. And then Paul is On Message like Air Fliesher: "At Outback we love football games but we also love the restraunt business. When we have people come out to Outback Steakhouse and enjoy their dining experience, its just like winning a bowl game for us." He wants to thank all the "Outbackers" for their loyalty, all around the country. It's such a hideous moment of corporate propoganda I want to go take a shower, but that's the nature of this beast, so let's not dwell.
12:14 - Florida's corners and special teams take over. On 2 straight plays, Florida corners step in front of Navarre passes like they knew it was coming. Each time they drop a sure-TD pick. And Michigan's punter is the most wanted man in Florida. For the third straight punt, he felt the breeze of a Florida corner go by his head as he kicked. This punt goes for 19 and Michigan is teetering on the edge of getting run out of here.
12:18 - Just found out from watching Florida-Michigan that Simms' TD pass was his first in the Cotton Bowln his career. Holy shit.
- That makes two times I got great info on the UT game from watching the UF-UM game. And there's a reason for that - the Fox show is unbearable. They have 3 guys in the booth, and sometimes its silent for 20 seconds. They never seem to be talking about the play at hand. And the picture looks and sounds like I'm watching a 3 year old tape on SLP - the crowd sounds like its over a phoneline.
12:22 - Michigan's 3rd first down of the day, now 1/6 on 3rd downs.
12:23 - Why not throw it up? Michigan gets its 4th first down with Navarre to Braylan Edwards for 34 yards on a streak. First play I've seen today where Michigan completed a pass without a Florida guy grabbing him as soon as the ball got there. Still, UM can't run.
12:25 - what the fuck? Michigan's Bellamy, a wide receiver, takes the snap on a trick play, then fakes a hand-off to the running back, and then casually turns toward the line and runs for about 10 up the middle. Overall, the play looks like 22 guys on the field, all trying to take orders from somebody not talking loud enough. So now UM is on the 2.
12:26 - Didn't get in on 3rd down. Florida's D-line, when not dealing with trick plays, is unbelievable. They showed an overhead shot of the Dline - not ONE Michigan player moved over the goal line -every lineman got stood up at the line, all the receivers got jammed at the line and the running back got hit by a linebacker at the 2. Not one blue jersey in the endzone.
12:30 - Michigan, from the 1, gets the TD on 4th down. Sort of like Ohio State only backwards, UM actually leads a game they are getting whipped in. In 6 possession, UM had 49 yards. They got 83 yards on that drive, but most of that was a deep bomb, a trick play and a 1-yard 4th down. So we'll see.
12:33 - Back on Fox, where the whole world seems asleep - Cedric Benson takes it in from the 2. These announcers, in a stock-price voice, say, "He's in. Cedric Benson with a 2 yard touchdown" and then shut up for 30 seconds while we fail to hear anything except this murmur that might be the band. This Fox outfit is HORRIBLE. Apparently Roy Williams set this up with some crazy catch and run, which is what the color guy just said in 14 seconds he woke up this quarter. Not that Fox is going to show it.
12:36 - And get this - for halftime, Fox is showing BOTH BANDS. WHO shows bands during halftime? People stuck in the fucking stadium don't watch the bands. Ever heard of a studio show? How about 15 minutes of The Simpsons? Maybe Fox didn't know they were covering this game until, like, 3 days ago. If I was SBC, I'd pull the power to the Cotton Bowl
12:39 - Just re-showed Roy Williams' last catch - 60+ yards. He caught it on a quick slant, wrestled his way out of two LSU guys' grip to stay on his feet, and then outran everybody to inside the 5. Williams has 2 catches for 126 yards.
12:41 - and the Fox guy just gave Simms the credit for "bringing back Texas."
12:42 - Simms beats a blitz to find his TE over the middle for about 20 yards. Nice play.
12:43 - That's it, I'm staying with Michigan-Florida. While I was gone, UF got a field goal and leads 16-14. Now, first play back, Navarre over the middle to the TE for 43 yards, the crowd totally roars, the announcer is fired up, the color guy has the telestrator, this is the varsity.
12:44 - Navarre TD pass. Michigan has solved Florida and is ahead a legit 21-16. That was also about the 87th play decided by a slip - in this case, a Florida corner - on this rain-logged field.
12:47 - Here's what happened - I turned the TV and saw Roy Williams walk off the field after apparently some big play, and Simms hurries the team to the line and here's the snap - at least 15 seconds - and not a word from the Fox crew. And it turns out there is plenty to say since there's about 12 seconds left in the half and Simms' pass is caught too far inbounds, so Texas' field goal unit gets onto the field, lines up and kicks in about 7 seconds on a running clock. NICE work. Too bad he missed. 21-17 halftime, and LSU and Texas are ALMOST overcoming Fox's absolutely
12:48 - Back on ESPN, Grossman fumbles on a scramble - helped in no small part by a helmet-to-numbers shot from a linebacker. Hail Mary falls incomplete, and its 21-16 in Tampa.
2 Great first halfs. 4 big teams playing like big teams. Not only are the scores almost identical, but Michigan and Texas stayed close early only because of big turnovers from the D, and then went up on 2 late, length of the field drives.
1:01 - Halftime highlights - Boise State wins. Told ya so. Washington loses. Told ya so. Fresno State wins. Didn't tell ya so, but would have. And Maryland, who gave up 90 points in its last 2 bowls, beat Tennessee 30-3. Coach Fulmer, shaky for years, will never recover.
And just saw the last play of the Air Force game - how about that? Virginia Tech holds them off at the goal line, which included a heads up play by the AF QB, unable to get into the endzone, intentionally fumbling after the buzzer to try to keep the game alive.
"You are now operating on reserve battery power. Save your work now or-" click.
1:19 - You're looking LIIIVVEEEE at mandy's living room, and we're now plugged into the wall, off battery power, and Michigan opens with a 20 yard swing pass, right after ESPN notes that Florida leads 180 to 30 in rushing yards. We'll see if Navarre's arm remains up to the task.
1:20 - Florida is 106-2 in games holding their opponent under 21.
1:21 - LSU time of possession in the first half: 20:14.
1:23 - Florida can pass, too. Sandwiched between two Michigan guys, UF's Jacobs pulls in a lob pass that looks like a hook shot in reverse - he jumps, one hand goes up over the defense and the ball falls into it. Catch of the Day candidate .
1:25 - Two straight 15-or-so yard runs and Florida is on the move. That makes a crazy circus catch and two runs. Great plays by everybody except Grossman. Not really seeing a lot of Will-Grossman-Go-Pro drama.
1:26 - As Dre might say, 'soon as I said it, seems I got sweated" - Michigan just collapsed the pocket, forcing Grossman to scramble, and he promptly launched a 35 yard rope to Ratliff, coming across the endzone, wearing a defender. Gutsy, improvised, pinpoint touchdown throw, all Grossman. Florida 23-20.
1:31 - Who needs Roy Williams - or a running game - when you have Berlain Edwards? Navarre dumps it to him over the middle for maybe 5 yards, and he just outquicks Florida's entire secondary for 48 yards and damn near a TD. I might be done with Hook'em and Fox.
1:34 - UM: Two runs for first downs, they're inside the 10 and now it is Michigan on the move.
1:35 - RB Perry busts it over the middle, relatively unchallenged for his 3rd TD. 28-23 Michigan. First commercial of the half, let's get back to Dallas.
1:36 - where did Fox get these announcers, the Braves? They don't speak, and when they do, its like they're on the phone just off-mic and throwing in a few comments on the game when they get a break. LSU's dynamite QB Randall is hurt and not running well, and just got pissed off enough to pick up a flag and throw it at the official. Talk about your sure way to make sure you're about to be ankle-deep in more flags...
1:38 - Hook'em, when will you learn? With the unsportsmanlike penalty, LSU has a 3rd and 22 from inside the 10, Randall runs a draw play and the running back goes for almost 50 yards.
1:41 - "Now That's What I'm Talking About"
1:44 - Hook'em forces a fumble and recovers and the Fox guys suppress a yawn. I'm done with this game. Sorry Rabbi. ESPN's ingame highlights are more educational than the Fox guys, and LSU appears out of gas anyway, if UT can close.
And we all know how UT closes in the Cotton Bowl. Probably nothing to worry about.
1:45 - And just like that, Auburn-Penn State is underway, on no less than ABC! Goodbye Fox!
1:48 - Penn State blocks Auburn's early FG attempt and its 0-0.
1:49 - OK, I went back for one more glance at UT-LSU and on the one play I watched, Roy Williams didn't do anything but take a reverse and weave through half of LSU and carry the other half the last 5 yards into the endzone. 28-17 UT and say goodnight to Huey Long's Tigers.
1:51 - Here's the difference between ABC and Fox. ABC's XXX says, "its clear the QBs are going to have to start making some plays" - snap, Penn State QB Zack Mills keeps, comes down the line, turns up and runs for about 30. The Fox guys would have been too busy plugging Police Chases.
1:54 - We're back at Tampa, and Michigan is up 35-23. Damn. How did I miss that?
1:57 - On third down, Florida receiver Jacobs drops a perfect 45 yard Grossman pass in the endzone. Plays like that, made and unmade, make games. Florida punts and Michigan can now seriously clamp down if they score.
2:02 - I am ON FIRE with the remote. Checked in on UT for the first time in...13 minutes and as soon as I click over, UT pins LSU at the ONE on a punt. Stellar special teams and that's a closer-move. That play tells me UT is gonna ride this out.
2:03 - Mandy's BACK!!! She brought Movies including Inventing the Abbott's and here's how good I am at movies - I saw that probably 6 years ago and probably nobody remembers it and yet it took me 2 seconds to tell Mandy: "you see Jennifer Connally's boobs."
2:08 - Michigan is driving, eating clock, and ESPN tells us that NC State is up on Notre Dame, 21-3. Actually, that game started about an hour ago, but you won't be reading about it here. Not on NBC. No way. And Mike Gollic, the ESPN booth color guy, IS the guy from Swingers, John Lambraeu or whatever. No difference.
2:14 - Grossman takes over 88 yards away. BIG series.
1st play, Michigan drives him back and hits him in the endzone. Grossman almost sacked for a safety but gets rid of it.
2nd down - Grossman on a swing pass pass to the 33.
1st down - Grossman over the middle, under pressure for 14 yards.
1st down at the 50 - Florida tries a reverse which develops slow, but the UM linebacker misses the tackle for a loss and it goes for about 7.
2nd down - Grossman scrambles for the first down and if he'd done this all year, he'd be The Man.
2:17 - Just pointed out, The Big 10 is 3-0 in bowls so far. Quick update on UT - they're finishing off LSU 35-17.
2:18 - Uh oh. Grossman, being hit, dumps to TE Ben Troupe on the left flat who runs for the 1st then VAULTS the Michigan safety for 8 more yards. Florida, behind Grossman and a Playstation vault, are at the 3 yard line and the game is ON!
2:21 - TOUCHDOWN Florida, Grossman rifles - and I mean SMOKES - one to TE Aaron Walker in the endzone, who catches it standing up, all alone. 88 yards and it could have been 800. Grossman could have marched that drive to Orlando. Awesome, pressure effort. Let's see if Navarre can answer!
2:25 - Here comes Navarre.
- run for 2
- Swing pass, incomplete
- 3rd and 8 - Navarre pass batted down by Florida line.
- Punt
2:29 - On key 3rd down, Grossman sacked. Florida punts for 30 yards. This is a day of ATROCIOUS special teams.
2:30 - UM's Chris Perry takes a screen about 30 yards. Big play from Michigan.
2:38 - Mandy wants to be an Officer in the Alaska guard. This is WAY too big of news to be handed while Michigan is driving with under 5 minutes.
2:39 - Michigan FG, 38-30, 2:30 to go, Florida has 2 timeouts. Don't need to tell you what's shaping up.
- KO - return to the 27. 73 yards away.
- Michigan gets a sack with 1:23 remaining, timeout Florida.
STAT: Gators have not come back to win from a halftime deficit in a bowl since 1969.
2:44 - Wow. Grossman scrambles with nobody opens, heads to the sideline, runs out of bounds and gets HIT LATE for the 1st down. Tough call to make - he ran for it, the defense is playing hard, and that's just a case of too much hustle on UM.
- 1st down, Grossman, complete to the Mich 27, 1st down.
- Reverse, the receiver gets caught in the backfield and heaves it up to avoid the loss - INTERCEPTED, MICHIGAN WINS.
Kind of a shitty ending, but HELACIOUS football game, Judy social turmoil, Mandy's career and parental phone calls notwithstanding.
Michigan running back John Parry has 4 rushing TDs, though 3 of those were dives set up by Navarre, who passed for 319 yards.
Michigan safety Lavar Hobsen, who hit Grossman late on the last drive, makes the winning pick.
ANALYSIS: Where was this team against Ohio State? Well... maybe, just maybe, they were there, and Ohio State was just that good. But no. There's no way Ohio State has a better pass defense - 30 points better - than Florida.
2:51 - back in Dallas, first image I flip to is Bevo, UT's mascot, passed out on the sideline. He must be listening to these announcers. In the first minute of me watching, here is what they do: insult Simms for calling a time out ("you've got to be kidding.")
2:53 - Bevo is back on his feet.
2:54 - Simms picked off, and these Fox guys have achieved room temperature. I'm genuinely concerned that maybe 2 of them have stopped breathing. What if they're box is sealed and they ran out of air - or there's a Co2 leak - and we're really watching 3 guys DIE live and nobody knows? Here is ALL they said in about a minute of airtime: "Simms throws, that is... intercepted (exactly the same inflection as a traffic report)" "after all that they throw an interception."
2:56 - silence. Imagine somebody was watching this game on ABC and you were listening top their TV over a phone - or on Real Audio on a 14.4 modem - then you have an idea about the crowd noise Fox is managing to broadcast.
2:57 - "Over the middle it won't be enough, texas will take over at the 35 and the DPS is reporting slowing on I-35 through downtown Dallas."
2:59 - UT wins - Mack brown silently dunked in gatorade, the band silently ecstatic, players noiselessly yelling into cameras - just as Auburn comes out to kick off for the second half with Penn State in a 6-0 slug out. So we've got one game from here on out (not counting NC State and Notre Dame). Rose Bowl starts at 4:30, following this game.

(quick break for a nooner)
"Now That's What I'm Talkin' About!"thankee
3:19 - On 3rd and goal, Penn State stops Auburn on the 1, but Auburn converts on 4th down - just like Michigan did to get their first TD against Florida. Auburn gets its first points of the game late in the 3rd and 7-6.
By the way, we'll be adjorning to Jeremy's for the Georgia-FSU Sugar Bowl.
3:25 - ABC reminds the Big 10 is now 4-0, with Penn State trailing by one, and Iowa and Ohio State to come. Auburn LB Ratliff just sacked Mills, and Ratliff is from Valdosta, GA. Let's go Big V!
3:31 - ESPN is playing The Season with Florida State.
- it took about 32 seconds to see a lineman, at his apartment, with a white Escalade outside and a pet snake. Awesome.
- Post-game locker room tape after the Notre Dame loss - awesome. The black guys go NUTS over Chris Rix. The white guys stick up for him. Uh oh.
- Interview with Rix - Is this the Real World? Has anyone seen him and Steven from the Vegas show in the same room? He has the look-in-the-camera-and-don't -move-your-head technique nailed. He has totally mastered the I'm-totally-baring-my-soul look when he says, "and maybe that caused some issues with the team."
- This show just reminded me that Wake was up 24-3 on Florida State before they rallied back. Not an excuse for Oregon, but something to consider.
3:42 - McPhearson tanks against NC State, and then the bad check-thing emerges.
3:43 - 4th Q getting started between Aub and Penn State, still 7-6. Mills is out, some guy named Robinson is in at QB and as soon as I said that - boom - he turns a roll-out into a 20-yard sprint up the middle. He made 3 guys miss.
3:45 - Fallout from the McPherson deal - in an interview, Florida State's Anquon Bolder has the most ghetto-fab all-orange sweater-knit cap combo of the new year. This guy can get loose in the secondary against Florida AND direct traffic at an accident site. Unbelievable. Rix does his interview shirtless.
3:49 - Penn state field goal is good, but FLAG ON THE PLAY!
3:50 - kick is good, and comparing the coaches on The Season to the ones in this game, when is Joe Pa gonna get with the times and get some Thermo-orange-tineted Oakley death shades? Or is that just Southern Coaches? So far, Bowden, the NC state guy and a Georgia Tech guy all have them.
3:51: Back on ESPN, Chris Rix is DQed from the Sugar Bowl for oversleeping a test (whew - if those are the rules, fair to say my playing time in college would have been "limited"), so Bowden basicly has Trachelle AND Brynn thrown out of the house for the bowl game. Still, Rix's post banishment interview is Reality TV homerun. He fires up a nice-boy sweater, tips are frosted, hair gelled straight up, eyes moist but firm. It's a reality TV performance worthy of Trent Lott on BET.
4:00 - Quick 4-play microcosm of the Penn State-Auburn game. Penn State knocks auburn backwards for 3 plays, and Auburn punts them to the 1 yard line. There's 16 points on the scoreboard and I think they already cleared the Over.
4:02 - After being pinned at the 1, State fumbles at the 5, but gets it back. That would have been it for sure. Auburn takes the punt at the Penn State 40, 5 minutes to go, here comes nut cuttin' time.
4:07 - "Now That's What I'm Talking About"
4:08 - Auburn's kicker. HERE'S a storyline worth watching. Apparently, ol' Boy was All-SEC one year as a punter, then was All-AMERICAN last year as a field goal kicker - and this year is 8 for 15, and has been blocked once today. Talk about wheels comin' off. But it looks like he'll get his chance as Auburn is slowly grinding down inside the red zone.
4:10 - Never mind. Auburn RB vaults into the endzone on a 17 yard run with 2:09 remaining. AU goes for 2.
4:13 - Auburn's kicker, Duvall, kicks the KO out of bounds, giving PS an extra 15 yards. Jeeezzz.
4:14 - Larry Johnson, 72 yards on the ground. Auburn's main guy - 172. And NC State crushes ND, 28-7.
4:15 - WHAT IS THAT? So Mills throws to the TE, who gets the ball knocked loose, then the Auburn picks it up and rumbles 10 yards, no whistle. Once HE'S down, they say it was an incomplete pass for PS, which basicly let guys hit each other for an extra 5 seconds in a loose situation. Terrible refing.
4:16 - No doubt about that one - interception Auburn, and that should do it.
4:23 - WHAT? Auburn just DIDN'T punt on 4th and 14 at midfield, missed by forever on the attempt and now Penn State is driving at the 50. They would have stuck Penn State on their own 20. Now, after a 1st down pass, the Lions are at the AU 40. I've heard the AU coach is on the hot seat and couldn't see why, based on record, but based on that call, if they lose, I would say fire that coach.
4:27 - Here we go, Penn State faces 3rd and 10, from the 40ish, 9 seconds to go.
4:28 - Auburn wins, but close. Mills, about to be sacked, shovels the ball forward and two laterals later time expires.

No comments: