Monday, November 17, 2014

Tale of Three Injuries

JACKET STINGS TIGER: Clemson QB Deshaun Watson goes down in the first quarter, and with him went the Tigers hopes for a victory over Tech and rival South Carolina – and a probable Orange Bowl invitation. The Tigers were gaining 4.1 yards per play with Watson, but only 3.2 yards the rest of the way.  After fifth year senior QB Cole Stoudt’s three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), Dabo put in walk-on Schlosser from Georgia’s Grayson high school. Look for Schlosser to start this week against Georgia State, despite the game being senior day. And look for Clemson to break out the purple uniforms Saturday.

Later in the first half Tech’s most productive tailback Snoddy broke his leg – a terrible sight. With one or two other Tech tailbacks already hurt, the numbers are growing thinner. As I predicted, on Saturday fullback Zack Laskey made the most of his three carries, and the over-rated Synjin Days wasn’t quite as productive. Only after Clemson’s defense tired did Days make an impact – but he still was unable to score a touchdown. When Days broke out into the open it only took one defender to bring him down. Speaking of over-rated, Clemson’s tenacious blockers effectively negated Tech’s great linebacker Q Neely all afternoon.  

As impressive as the 28-6 final score was, Tech left at least five points off the board: a botched PAT, missed field goal, and a failed two-point conversion. And the game ended with the Jackets in position to kick another field goal.

Weird halftime show by both bands. Clemson’s played songs from Spiderman and Ninja Turtles, but GT out-nerded them with the theme “Big Band Theory”, with selections devoted to science and astronomy. The Tiger Band may have only bussed so many bandmembers to Atlanta. Tech’s band seemed to outnumber Clemson’s. But all the halftime numbers bested the horrific piped-in rap music.

DOG BITES TIGER: Likewise the Bulldogs left at least two touchdowns off the scoreboard in their dominant 34-7 beatdown of Auburn. Todd Gurley’s 105 yard return of the opening kickoff that was called back for a totally unnecessary holding infraction. Speedy number 16 dropped a sure touchdown. Later the punter’s pass completion down to the one yard line was also called back on a borderline lineman downfield call. After watching the relatively penalty-free Alabama / Mississippi State game, the Auburn / Georgia game was plagued with penalty after penalty. Malcom Mitchell’s downfield holding penalty negated a 27 yard Chubb reception. Both teams both had calls go against them, though in the second half several penalties against Auburn came at the least opportune times.

The War Eagles could not stop Gurley or Chubb. Mark Richt uncharacteristically went for it on fourth and one, and eleven yards later Chubb glided in for six points. Last week Richt had said the fans would see Gurley (above) early. After the 105 yard TD was called back, Chubb actually started the game in the backfield. Gurley did play his way back into the lineup, practicing the 6 weeks while being suspended. He is also repaying the money, doing community service, and everything else required of him. He continued to encourage his teammates the whole time.

An early elbow injury hardly slowed Gurley, but in the fourth quarter Gurley tore his ACL without being hit – perhaps a cruel end to his meteoric career in Athens. The injury diminishes comparisons of Gurley to SEC greats Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson. Though doubtful, Gurley does have a year of eligibility remaining should the NFL consider the Tarboro NC native damaged goods. That would make a good 2015 team almost invincible. As predicted, Gurley played without the captain’s “C” on his jersey. Cruel joke: Gurley injured his elbow signing autographs.

When the teams changed sides for the fourth quarter, the Bulldog defense forgot how to tackle. Auburn drove deep, until Nick Marshall’s fourth down pass was unwisely intercepted inside the five yard line (of course, batting the ball to the ground was the preferred option). The INT did hurt Marshall’s QB rating. Backed up with the score 27-7, a Georgia turnover here would’ve made it a completely different ballgame. Instead the Dawgs’ 97 yard touchdown drive was the nail in Auburn’s coffin.      

TIGER BITES AGGIE: after falling behind Texas A&M (raising the hopes of Georgia fans everywhere) Missouri finally staged a comeback to stay on track for the SEC Championship game.

ELEPHANT BITES DOG: Bama’s win over undefeated Mississippi State was no surprise to me or my brother-in-law Rusty. Quarterback Blake Sims is finally coming of age. Heisman hopeful Dak Prescott picked a bad day to throw three interceptions. Looks like the Heisman race is leaning toward Marcus Mariota and that Wisconsin running back. Perhaps Nick Chubb will get a vote or two.

INDIAN WEATHERS HURRICANE, SPEARS IBIS: FSU fell behind 16-0 after the kickoff returner fumbled the ball away. Then on the next kickoff the returner dashed upfield with the ball under one arm. Was Winston shaving points again?

Miami had to play perfectly to win – but didn’t. Up 16-7 Miami’s touchdown pass was almost negated by number 44’s great (but unnecessary) block – which looked like targeting to me. Before the half Miami missed an easy field goal. Coupled with a blocked PAT, those four points were the difference in the game. The momentum slowly shifted to FSU. Miami fumbled twice. After losing their lead the Canes’ penultimate fourth down pass was again intercepted by FSU – further damaging Kaaya’s QB rating. At least the DB slid to the ground instead of risking a fumble. After making the catch he appeared to look to his sideline – where everyone must’ve been motioning him the hit the ground.

Duke may hold the tiebreaker over Tech, but the Jackets have the best chance to knock off the Noles, however slim that may be. Head coach Jimbo Fisher’s unshaven face looked shabby. What is this – no shave November?

FALCON CLAWS PANTHER: Good (Matt Ryan) beats Evil (Cam Newton). I figured it would be close. Four words: first place Atlanta Falcons.

STEELER ROBS TITAN: game set the NFL record for the longest names for both starting quarterbacks: Roethlisberger and Mettenberger.

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