Thursday, September 13, 2007


Have any?  No, not really.


I’ve been thinking about the fickle nature of sports fandom and analysis a lot the past couple of days.


It’s a cliché to say that sports fans are a “what have you done for me lately” group.  A cliché that has a grain of truth at its core…and that’s part of what’s happening here, obviously.  Ron English was considered a Weis-esque genius for 11 games last year, and was even given a pass in the Ohio State and USC games – in the Ohio State game, a couple of busted long runs came off as a bit flukey, and that was a an offense with multiple future NFL players and a Heisman Trophy quarterback.  The USC game was (in my opinion) lost by the offense – no, we couldn’t stop them in the second half.  No, we didn’t adjust very well to their changed game plan after halftime.  But the conservatism seemed to be much more damaging on the offensive side of the ball – and postgame analysis mostly focused on that.  Why didn’t we open it up, like USC did?


Well, the bloom is clearly off the rose.  Giving up over 1000 yards and 70 points in two games will do that to you.  The worst part is that the schemes that have shredded us the last two (four) games have been vaguely similar – spread the field and throw it around, run in the gaps.  We can all see that in the stands – can’t he?  Why can’t we adjust our approach?


Which brings me to my second point.  The traits that are positives when you’re winning – in Lloyd’s case, steadiness and restraint and confidence – look like weaknesses when you’re losing.  Steadiness becomes stodginess.  Restraint becomes rigidity.  Confidence becomes arrogance.  Those supposed weaknesses seem


If we win two of the last four – Ohio State and Appalachian State, let’s say, for the two most winnable games – I doubt we’re even having this conversation.  One more stop in each game, and Lloyd isn’t reading about Les Miles, and Ron English is still considered an up-and-coming defensive star.  Two missed tackles.  A made block by Crable on a field goal and wrapped arms on Beanie Wells (or whichever borderline illiterate busted us up the middle).  So close.


Which isn’t to say that I think we should be undefeated, or that we should have been national champs, or…whatever.  Just that the sky isn’t falling.  We may win this week, we may not (holy hell, I hope we do, and I hope the ND bus rams into a bridge abutment on the way back to Indiana with the gigantic body of their head coach / gasbag cushioning everyone else from major injury).  But we’ll be back, and we’ll be okay.  There’s too much talent (and yes, good coaching) here for that not to happen.  I still think we’ll be pretty good.


Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24.  Good god, please make it so.

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