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Stocked-up Saturday (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday September 13, 2006 11:36AM; Updated: Wednesday September 13, 2006 2:46PM
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After Thursday night's rout of Oregon State by Boise State, is it fair to say that Chris Petersen has had more to do with Boise State's recent success and not Dan Hawkins?
-- John, Austin, Texas

I was very impressed with Boise State's performance Thursday night -- in particular, tailback Ian Johnson, who is an absolute stud. But I wouldn't be so quick to throw Hawkins under the bus just because he's at another school and losing to Montana State. While Boise State had some success under Dirk Koetter, Hawkins took it to a whole other level, and it was his progressive philosophy and methods that have formed the cornerstone of that program.

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That said, it's no secret that Petersen was the brains behind the Broncos' powerful offense -- Hawkins admitted as much to me two summers ago, choosing to describe the system as "Pete's Poison" -- and it's no surprise to see them picking up right where they left off. They'll always be able to count on that offense to be productive. The key to remaining a stable, Top 25 program under Petersen will be whether Boise State continues to thrive at finding the type of blue-collar, overachiever recruits that largely comprise its roster.

I am going to give you a chance to retract your preseason statement that LSU will be this year's Tennessee. I think the defense is too good. I see LSU making a couple more plays than Auburn this weekend and winning by a touchdown.
-- Glen Liuzza, New Orleans

Well, I appreciate the gesture. I'm sure some of your brethren won't be so forgiving. I agree with you about the defense -- DT Glenn Dorsey looks like he's going to be a star, and the linebackers and secondary are playing extremely well. I'll be more curious to see how the Tigers' offense performs against Auburn. Can the rebuilt offensive line protect JaMarcus Russell and open holes for the running backs? If they do, LSU will be awfully tough to beat. If they don't, the Tigers might be in for more trouble when they face other elite SEC defenses.

If LSU does end up winning the SEC or something close to it, I'm sure I'll never hear the end of it from Tigers fans, but c'mon, cut me some slack -- you try predicting in June which preseason top 10 team will inexplicably go belly-up. It's two weeks into the season and I'm still not sure who that team will be.

Stewart: What can Florida State do to get its running game on track? It seems like everyone (fans, coaches, players) is making excuses, like Miami's defense, the weather, we played on Monday night, the axial tilt of the Earth, etc. Even after the Troy game, all I read about were excuses. To me, all the excuses are nonsense. I know the players are top-caliber, but the translation on the field is not happening. Someone needs to take the blame and find a solution. What can my 'Noles do?
-- Layla Page, Atlanta

First of all, I'd just like to note how refreshing it was to read a thoughtful, rational question from a Florida State fan instead of the 200 "YOU'RE ON CRACK, MANDEL, THAT MIAMI GAME WAS GOOD, DEFENSIVE FOOTBALL, YOU'RE AN IDIOT IF YOU CAN'T SEE THAT" e-mails from last week. Unfortunately, I see no quick fix for FSU's woes. In talking to and reading several sources after the Troy game, the problems seem to be threefold:

1. Offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden's predictable playcalling makes it easy for opponents to load up against the run.
2. The offensive linemen, while improved, still aren't exactly dominant. 
3. Tailbacks Lorenzo Booker and Antone Smith, who like to "dance" and break outside, aren't particularly suited for FSU's I-formation, pro-style offense, which favors more straight-ahead, power running.

Seeing as 1) the 'Noles aren't going to find new tailbacks in time for the Clemson game (and while Booker has had his chances, I certainly wouldn't want to give up on the ultra-talented Smith just yet); 2) neither Bowden is going anywhere anytime soon; and 3) the 'Noles aren't going to suddenly switch to a four-wide shotgun offense mid-season, I would imagine FSU is just going to lean even more heavily on Drew Weatherford and the passing game than it did last season. In the meantime, I'd be hitting the recruiting trail hard looking for some elite O-linemen and a couple of bruising tailbacks (though you have to wonder why FSU fared just fine with tailbacks like Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor, who weren't exactly bone-crushers either).

Don't you think it gets a little old that every time Ohio State wins a big game, its students feel obliged to set the town on fire? I am concerned that my future employees from Ohio State will turn to violence when I ask them to rewash the sinks at their minimum-wage job.
-- Stu, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

In the past, whenever Ohio State had one of its infamous postgame vandalism sprees, the university always blamed it on the infamous band of lawless hooligans who have no affiliation with the school but come to town for the parties. But both the 2002 post-Michigan mayhem (48 arrests) and Saturday night's shenanigans took place in a predominately student-occupied neighborhood, and the bozo who drove his car into three pedestrians was identified as an OSU student.

So, in the spirit of Stu's e-mail, let this be a message to the students not only at Ohio State but also at West Virginia, where setting couches on fire is considered a big night, and to all other student bodies at football-playing institutions when I say: LIGHTING THINGS ON FIRE STOPPED BEING COOL IN THE SEVENTH GRADE. All you're doing is reinforcing the negative stereotypes the rest of the country already has about your schools and your hometowns. So why do it? I can think of any number of fun, alternative ways to celebrate a big win that won't turn you into the butt of national jokes. Obviously, I would never encourage underage drinking, but there's nothing wrong with blaring the fight song out your window, going out for some pizza and soda or, of course, nudity.

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