SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/24/2006 01:58:00 PM
Five Things We Learned This Weekend
1) That Notre Dame is headed to the Sugar Bowl. As flawed as that team is, you can pretty much script the rest of its season. The Irish are going to beat their next seven opponents fairly easily. And they’re going to get crushed by USC. That puts them at 10-2; Sugar gets first choice of at-large teams this year. The only remaining mystery is how much they’ll lose the bowl game by.
2) That my colleague Austin Murphy’s Spinal Tap drummer analogy for USC’s fullbacks couldn’t have been more prophetic. The Trojans, having already lost seniors Brandon Hanock and Ryan Powdrell to season-ending injuries, pressed freshman Stanely Havili into action against Arizona. He promptly broke his leg. If you know of any wide-bodies who can move, Pete Carroll will be holding open tryouts this week.
3) That the Dirk Koetter/Arizona State quarterback situation is turning into a colossal disaster. Sophomore Rudy Carpenter threw four interceptions against Cal and now has eight in four games. “I'm obviously not as good as I thought I was,” Carpenter said after the game. I don’t know about that, Rudy: I think your coach thrust you into the most awkward situation imaginable.
4) That extra points are no longer a given. The Alabama-Arkansas game featured misses on both sides. Navy lost in overtime on a blocked extra point. Florida had two blocked. Notre Dame missed one on its second-to-last touchdown. At some point, you might as well just go for two.
5) That Florida fans need to get a clue. A contingent of idiots at The Swamp booed Chris Leak (the nation’s top-rated passer coming into the game) on two occasions during Saturday night’s win over Kentucky. Tim Tebow runs fast. He’s the future. I get it. But if you’re stupid enough to think the Gators would have won at Tennessee two weeks ago without Leak, I’ve got an autographed Bobby Sabelhaus jersey to sell you.
However you also can't ignore that the boos in the Swamp were quickly drowned out by cheers in support of Leak. While I disagree with what those idiots were doing, the majority of us appreciate Leak for everything that he has done. While Tebow is flashy and the new thing, Leak is the leader and one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Go Gators!
You mentioned how the SEC is the best conference in America because they're emphasizing speed in recruiting. I think if someone in the SEC tried to recruit a capable kicker, they could dominate conference play.
I was also at the Florida game and was disappointed by the booing. Leak may not be a runner, but he is far and away one of the best passers around. Their strengths are different, and using them both is one of our greatest assets--opposing teams have a nightmare preparing for both. Kentucky came prepared for Leak, but had no answer for Tebow. Tebow will get his time in the limelight, but for now we should be grateful to have both.
People weren't booing Leak. They watched Tebow march the team down the field and simply felt he had the right to finish out the drive since the game was already in hand. Everyone at UF supports Leak. Go to the chat rooms, listen to talk radio, hang out at the tailgates. I've done all of that. You won't find a single person saying Tebow should replace Leak - not one. This story only exists because the national media invented it and keeps repeating it. The Gator Nation is 100% behind Leak, and that's a fact, no matter how much the media wishes it weren't true.
How about the Sooner "D" playing to its potential. Even if they did play a Sun Belt team, they still needed that confidence boost to show the nation "We are good after all". Hopefully they can carry the momentum into the Texas game which is looming...
Stewart, did you EVER play football? How about D1 college football? I'm not a Notre Dame fan, but your synopsis of them as a team leads me to believe that you don't know squat about football or team sports! Heck, you probably don't even know if they blow up the ball or stuff it. It gets old (fast!) listening and reading to columnists such as yourself who continue to criticize teams in lieu of paying them a compliment after they scored 19 4th Qtr points in a driving rainstorm on the road! What more do they have to do --- part the Red Sea?
On booing of Leak: I wonder if you wrote anything about Ingle Martin being booed by fans who wanted Leak in the lineup? Martin was doomed to get no shot at Florida because Zook is a great recruiter who cannot coach and because fans wanted Leak. I didn't hear Leak or his family or friends demanding that Martin be given a fair shot by fans and the coaching staff.
Oh well, I totlly disagree with the comments about the Irish. I do agree. that they will have an easier balance of the season, after Purdue,butttttttttt crushed by SC????I am not so sure, the team will find it's pace and Brady will find his recievers. It is apparent that the team likes a fast and intense pace,so let's gikve it to the trojans .
oh, kinda like how USC "blew out" Notre Dame last year...when USC had a better team and ND a worse one?
get a clue. show me a team in the nation with better wins in the first four games then Ga. Tech, Penn St, and Michigan St. ND's open to the season was brutal and while the Michigan loss stung, you are vastly underrating the Irish and overreacting as much as those who overrated them to start the year. A national title contender? probably not...but a solid top ten/BSC team..definitely.
I was also at the UF game and while I didn't boo, it was my impression that people were booing Tebow being yanked after playing so well and leading the team within scoring range. They definitely weren't booing Leak. This was apparent by the cheers when he came into and left the game. I also agree that I haven't heard one single UF fan say that Tebow should start. We are very grateful to have Leak who is one of the top 5 QB's in our history. The only thing that keeps this supposed controversy going are comments from media types who keep writing it...see above for example.
Please don't use such a broad brush when criticizing the small group of idiots who booed Leak last night in the Swamp. The vast majority of Gator fans support Leak 100%, and these are the fans who quickly drowned out the vocal minority with applause, and continued to give Leak standing ovations the next two times he came into the game.
It should also be pointed out that the boos probably weren't so much at Leak as they were disappointment in seeing Tebow leave the game after driving 65 yards down the field. It's still idiotic, but at least in a slightly different way.
Although I wasn't there (unfortunately) and had to watch the Kentucky/Florida game on TV, I'd bet the vast majority of the boos were directed at the coaching decision to pull Tebow and not at Leak. Give Gator fans some credit!
I have to agree with the previous remarks that the boos at the Swamp last night weren't so much at Leak as they were at Tebow not being able to finish off the drive. The reason that fans love Tebow is because he's fast and exciting, but he's definitely not experienced enough to play now, especially in front of Leak. Leak doesn't always look spectacular in games, but somehow or another at the end, you look at his stats and he's got 250 yards and three touchdowns. Leak is the unquestioned starter.
I agree with most of the comments written concerning the nd game. While nd had some help fro msu, they still came through when they needed to both put points on the board and stop msu's offense. What bothers me is that no one criticizes georgia in their comeback loss, which came to another unranked team who clearly was not as good as msu. I think people just need to be more unbiased and say that nd played a great second half to come back, and that msu helped their cause too....
It's you and the rest of the media that continue to create this fictitious quarterback controversy at the University of Florida who need to get a clue, not Gator fans. NO ONE was booing Chris Leak last night. I was there. It was clear that SOME fans were booing the decision to pull Tebow from a drive where he just marched 60 yards down the field on 3 carries. Quit trying to create something that isn't there. Gator fans are behind Chris Leak 100%!
ND might've just barely beat a middle of the road Big Ten team on the road but, they lost to another one, 47-21 AT HOME!!! No amount of excuses can make up for the fact that they were destroyed (AT HOME) by a team that has a so-so offense and could easily still lose 3 or 4 games. It's pretty lame that they could take the place of a Louisville, TCU, or even a Rutgers in any bowl game let alone a BCS bowl.
Stu is dead on about the Chris Leak incident. I was in the Swamp and looked around in disbelief when the "fans" laid into Leak. And I leaned over to my buddy and mentioned how bad our collective memory must be. How easily we forget how Leak calmly took us down the field and won the game in Knoxville. Chris Leak is NOT the reason the Gators have not won the Nat'l or even SEC crown the last 3 years. To diss him like that was reprehensible. What if Meyer decided to start Tebow going into this nasty stretch of games? WeTebow is the future and would be begging for the experience and talent Mr Leak brings to the table. Just wanted to say this is not indicative of all Gator fans, but we've all shook our heads at the stadium and thought why are some fans so flippin retarded.I'm glad to have him, but don't shoot the horse that brung ya
Agree with the comments below about UF fans boo-ing Leak. It was pretty obvious to me (especially considering the later applause) that the fans were upset Tebow didn't get a chance to finish off 'his' drive. Controversies sell, so the media will always err on the side of creating one.
No question, they were idiots, but I think they wanted Tebow to finish the drive - I don't think they were booing Chris. Out of any group of 90,000 people, you will always have a "contingent of idiots." But when Chris left the field after finishing some interviews, several thousand Gator fans gave him a standing ovation (as noted in the Gainesville paper, Chris responded by pumping his helmet in the air). Chris is widely loved by Gator fans for the way he has persevered and led our program through some difficult years. It's wrong to represent this small group as speaking for the Gator Nation. Go Chris and Go Gators!
to the guy above who was angered by people not criticizing the georgia comback loss (win, btw). you should realize that by now everything that ND does is amplified by 10 times. So when you guys went 9-3 last year you guys were hailed as kings of college football for no reason. Florida went 9-3 also and recieved no such praise. So live with it! You didnt complain when the media was glorifying your 9-3 sub-par run, so stop complaining now...
Kudos to you for remembering Bobby Sablehaus, which is more than could be said for the majority of those booing Chris Leak. While I may have been all of about 12 years old during the Sabelhaus 'era', I've been going to Gator games since I was about 6 and can recall even the Rodney Brewer debacle. The Spurrier years spoiled all of us and got us used to instant gratification via 70 yard pass plays versus opponents I wouldn't have even allowed on my electronic vibrating football field. While it would be nice to see Chris Leak take a hit or two rather than sliding to the turf short of a first down whenever an opposing playing looks at him crooked, the man is, indeed, in the process of breaking most of the passing records at an institution long known as a passing school while also leading his team to a 4-0 record. For those that don't remember a time when Kerwin Bell was the gold standard for Florida quarterbacks, rest assured, we're in a good place with Chris Leak at the helm and it would serve us all better to appreciate what he has done for the University of Florida.
You're dead on point about my alma mater, Arizona State: Koetter has taken the dream situation with 2 outstanding quarterbacks and turned it into a catastrophe of epic proportions. The only hope we have at ASU is that the AD realizes that we'll never get into the upper echelons of college football under Koetter. I can already hear the chants rising from the desert ... "Fire Dirk", "Fire Dirk", "Fire Dirk" ....
The Sixth Thing We Learned...Tom O'Brien and Frank Spaziani can't coach. How is the NC State Receiver (a) Left in Single or 2 Deep Coverage on an Obvious Hail Mary Pass Play; and (b) Why didn't Tribble know to just tackle the receiver and take the penalty? O'Brien's team legacy of playing up or down to the level of competition continues.
I agree that most of the fans were booing that Tebow didn't get to finish his drive. I still think it is idiotic to boo your 4-0 team at all. It also shows no respect to Leak, who by the way is in virtually every Heisman conversation. I have been a Gator fan all 23 years of my life, and I'm under the impression that the people booing, and not giving Leak his well deserved respect, can't say as much. It angered me so much to see how fickle our fans can be. However, there are some fellow students that know better, as demonstrated by the groups that have been organized on Facebook.com defending Leak. And by the thousands that belong to these groups. ex. "If You Boo Chris Leak, I Will Punch You In the Face Group!"
Hey, you guys get it right!!! The Florida fans were booing the entry of Chris Leak into the game because they wanted Tim Tebow to finish a productive drive. The boos were directed at the coaches, not Chris! In a later drive, they cheered the entry of Chris back into the game. The Florida fans know what they have got in both quaterbacks. Write about something else. Ray-bob
Amen to that! Thank you Stewart! I was at the game, and there were ALOT of IDIOTS booing. I went balistic yelling at the fools in my section, and my guess is that alot of other people reacted like me, because after that, every time Chris came onto the field, the whole stadium cheered for him. I just hope that the "smart" Gator fans will drown out the idiots from now on. Go Gators! Leak 4 Heisman 2006! Tebow for Heisman 2008!
To whoever posted the challenge to name a team with better wins so far than Notre Dame, let me respond. First of all, although the Michigan St. comeback was impressive, the Spartans gave the game to the Irish as much as they took it. Couple lucky plays too - 3rd and forever pass bounces straight up in the air to fall into a receiver's hands 30 yards downfield and last game saving interception just happens to sit on the guys back for the picking. Anyway, to your "challenge" - I'll name TWO. Ohio state beat the same PSU team and demolished #2 Texas in Austin! That handily surpasses ND's accomplishments. The other - Auburn beat a top 10 LSU and throttled 3-1 Washington State, a much better team than either GT or Michigan State.
Hey anonymous - Want me to name a team with more impressive wins than the Irish? How 'bout TWO? Have you completely forgotten that OSU beat the same PSU team and demolished #2 Texas in Austin? Also, Auburn beat top 10 LSU, and also throttled a 3-1 WSU team that is definitely better than Michigan State or GT (GT has beaten Troy, Samford, and UVA - wow). You might even throw some SEC teams into the mix, who at least have a victory over a top 10 (UT, Florida). GT and PSU wins overrated, and although the MSU comeback was impressive, the Spartans gave that game away as much as ND took it.
Kudos to SI for recognizing the stunning performance of DB Eric Weddle of the University of Utah (the first, and real "U") in the Utes 38-7 win over San Diego State Saturday night: three interceptions (he knocked down what would have been a fourth), two of which he returned for TDs, and he scored a third time on offense.