Posted: Sunday November 13, 2005 9:02PM; Updated: Monday November 14, 2005 1:30PM
Eight in the Box
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1. Each morning I can jump-start my engine with either three cups of coffee or with Loud, Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits. Today I'm doing both, so expect an "EitB" with all the manic energy of Vanderbilt waking up in the third quarter and realizing, "Hey, we're down 31 points to Kentucky at home!"
2. Let's start by taking this week's advice from SI columnist Steve Rushin and "goodmouthing" someone. I'd like to goodmouth the ESPN camera crew who worked last Thursday night's Boise State-Fresno State game in Fresno. They worked in a steady rain that was not forecast, and managed to create not one but two "How'd they do that?" moments.
First, in the second quarter Bulldogs QB Paul Pinegar connected on a 98-yard TD pass to wideout Paul Williams. On the initial camera angle, it was impossible to see that near the end of Williams' gallop, he blatantly facemasked the without-hap (i.e., hapless) Broncos defender. But, a ground-level camera angle from the Fresno sideline that was actually in front of the play caught the facemask perfectly. So here's my question: If the play began at the Fresno State 2 yard-line, what was a ground-level camera doing on the far end of the field? Was it sideline reporter Erin Andrews' camera man?
Second, in the third quarter Fresno State called a gadget play in which tailback Wendell Mathis broke the huddle by himself and appeared to be running to his own sideline, leaving the game. About five yards from the sideline Mathis stopped and remained facing the sideline, as if he were listening to a coach. No Boise State player followed him. On the snap, a Bulldogs coach signaled Mathis so that he knew the play had begun, and Pinegar hit him -- Mathis was wide open -- for a 12-yard gain.
Again, on the replay an ESPN camera behind the Fresno sideline caught the entire ruse, focusing on Mathis. It was as if ESPN was in on the play. Great work, guys (we now return you to your regularly scheduled impossible-to-please college football columnist).
3. You know who I especially don't want to be these next two weeks? I especially don't want to be Syracuse head coach/defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. The Orange, whose lone win this season came against Buffalo (who themselves were winless before Saturday's victory at Kent State), finish up at Notre Dame and at Louisville. The Irish are averaging slightly less than 41 points per game at home while the Cardinals, the most devastating home team in the country, are outscoring foes 58-15 in Papa John's Cardinals Stadium. Talk about extra toppings.
4. I am entirely hopped up on caffeine and punk right now! I must be hallucinating, I thought I just saw Suzy Kolber doing a car commercial.
5. You probably didn't see it (and to be honest, neither did I), but Washington broke its 14-game Pac-10 losing streak with a 38-14 win in Tucson on Saturday night. Strange turn of events at the end of the first half, and you can interpret it how you wish. With the Huskies trailing Arizona 14-7, U-Dub quarterback Isaiah Stanback was sacked at his own 31. The Huskies coaches signaled for Stanback to take a knee, but instead he called timeout and begged them to allow him to attempt a Hail Mary pass. On the ensuing play, as time ran out, Stanback hit wideout Craig Chambers in stride for a 69-yard TD. The ball traveled 70 yards in the air. The points were the first of 31 unanswered for UW, who now head into the Apple Cup game versus Washington State 2-8 in coach Ty Willingham's first season.
6. "Psycho therapy! Psycho therapy! Psycho therapy! That's what they wanna give--". Sorry, where were we? Oh yeah, Chris Bostic tosses a 25-yard pass through a 20-inch hole between quarters of the Florida State-Clemson game and earns $1 million. I can't be the first wiseacre to add, "And afterward the Seminoles offered him a scholarship." Honestly, did you see the line that Florida State's two QB's had against Clemson's defense? Starter Drew Weatherford was 12-of-27 with two interceptions (66.0 rating). Xavier Lee was worse (22.7 rating), completing 1-of-7 passes for seven yards and taking a 24-yard sack.
7. Sometimes, when the writing is going really well, I stand at my keyboard the way that Tori Amos does when she's performing live. This is not one of those moments. NBC did a feature on undersized Notre Dame linebacker Brandon Hoyte during halftime of the Navy-ND game. Back in the studio, host Jimmy Roberts said, "You don't see that many linebackers playing for nationally ranked teams that are listed at 5-foot-11 ... emphasis on the word 'listed'." Someone please back up the "Now-I've-Seen-Everything" truck, I'd like to load another item. Roberts calling out someone on being vertically challenged? He ain't exactly Craig Kilborn, tape-measure wise.
8. Sweet play by LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell in overtime in Tuscaloosa, and I'm not talking about his game-winning 11-yard TD pass to Dwayne Bowe. One play earlier the Tigers faced second-and-10 from the Alabama 15 and called a reverse right to speedster Xavier Carter. Two Tide defenders sniffed it out, and one of them (I believe it was defensive end Wallace Gilberry) was about to cut down Carter for what would have been a 10-yard loss (setting up third-and-20 from the 25) when Russell, who at 6-6, 252 pounds, is a monster of a QB, took him out with a block. Carter gained four yards on the play, setting up third-and-6 but, more importantly, avoiding third-and-20 from the 25. The Tigers, 1-for-4 on field goal attempts Saturday, were not eager to have Chris Jackson (the second-best Chris Jackson, 3-point percentage-wise, in LSU annals) try a 40-plus-yard field goal at Bryant-Denny Stadium in overtime.