Starting 11: Like Les Miles, Brown's Strategy Deserves Second Guessing
By the grace of God, Texas' offensive line was unable to stop Ndamukong Suh from putting heat on Colt McCoy and the Texas quarterback casually tossed the ball out of bounds with one second left. Of course Texas went on to make the field goal to win the game, but that's beside the point, stupidity deserves ridicule. And in this case, Mack Brown's decision-making was every bit as bad as Les Miles'. Especially when you consider that Texas would have been left with a timeout if the clock ran out.
Let's begin with a clear thesis: Running a play with a running clock as the game nears the end is a recipe for disaster. No team worth it's salt should ever do this when they've got a timeout left. At the end of this game, Texas could have called a timeout with 29 seconds left and set up a final offensive play. Get a first down, and you spike the football. Fail to get a first down and you still have plenty of time to run your field goal team onto the field after gathering them near you during the preceding timeout. There would have been plenty of time to make this happen.
It's what an intelligent coach who manages his team well would have done.
Instead Texas, who had allowed McCoy to be sacked eight times, ran a pass play. That decision alone is inexplicable. Why, oh why, would you risk giving up a sack, potentially having the clock run out in the process, and knocking yourself out of field goal range, with no probability for success? But on top of this idiocy, the Longhorns ran such a slow developing play that even if they'd completed a pass, they would have lost the game. In other words, Mack Brown and Texas so bungled the next-to-last play call of the game, that the only way they could have succeeded was by throwing an incomplete pass out of bounds.
Think about this if you're a Texas fan. You won that game despite your head coach putting the team in a completely untenable position. The only reason you didn't lose on that play, in other words, is because Nebraska did such a good job of defending the pass and putting pressure onto Colt McCoy. Effectively, once Texas took the snap with seven seconds remaining, the best thing that could happen to them did.
And yet Brown has dodged all significant criticism.
That's crap. And I can't believe I'm writing this, but what Brown did at the end of that game was even dumber than what Les Miles did at the end of the Ole Miss game. If you're a Texas fan, the fact that you won the game shouldn't wash away the profound stupidity of Brown's decision. Once Texas ran the pass play, they effectively took the ball out of their team's hands and relied on complete luck to survive.
In the process, Mack Brown did what I heretofore believed was impossible, looked like more of an idiot than Les Miles. Yet, I haven't heard or read a peep of criticism of Brown since that kick sailed through the uprights.
Going up against Nick Saban, Mack Brown is going to get exposed. Really utterly and completely exposed for the sideline coach that he is.
In the meantime let's dive into the Starting 11 with a nice batch of Heisman commentary now that we know the five finalists.
1. How improbable was Cincinnati's comeback from 31-10 down on the road in Pittsburgh?
The victory relied on a missed extra point. Perhaps, to be fair, the most expensive missed extra point in BCS history. How difficult is it as a Pittsburgh fan to deal with that missed extra point?
A missed extra point is like a football hangnail, a piece of food caught in your teeth that you can't quite dislodge. So congrats to the Bearcats for taking advantage of that hangnail. Cincinnati's defense, however, is not ready for primetime. In three of their past four games, the Bearcats have given up 45, 36, and 44 points. Even with Florida's limited offensive firepower when it comes to stretching the field, the Gators are going to roll up huge offensive numbers in the Sugar Bowl.
Assuming, that is, the Gators are actually interested in playing a game in the Sugar Bowl.
2. I know he's not involved in college football, but does everyone else die laughing each time they hear Tiger Woods say, "Huge," at the end of that voicemail message asking his mistress to remove her name from her voicemail?
If not, you should.
In fact, like me, you have to incorporate the one word sentence huge into your conversations now.
"Can you get me a beer? Huge."
"Can you change the channel? Huge."
It really doesn't get old, trust me.
3. Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis carried 47 times for 194 yards.
That's unbelievable, an average of just 4.1 brutal yards a carry. But what's even more amazing, about this? Pittsburgh only completed 13 passes. Five of them were to Lewis. So he accounted for 52 rushes and pass catches out of Pittsburgh's 68 completed passes or rushes.
Has one player ever been that utilized in a game?
That means that 76 percent of Pittsburgh's offensive plays (excluding incompletions) ended with the ball in Lewis' hands.
This is the kind of game that takes five years off a running back's life. If this happened in little league, the coach would get fired.
Presumably, Lewis had to come out for a few plays, right? I want someone to run the numbers and find out the percentage of the time that Lewis was on the field that he ended up with the football in his hands. It's got to be a record for a non-quarterback, right?
4. Would Ndamukong Suh have won the Heisman outright if he went by the name Kong Suh?
In fact, what percentage of Ndamukong Suh's vote tally will be undercut because sportswriters can't spell his first name and chose to ignore him for this season?
Think about this, Kong Suh would be one of the most menacing names for a defensive tackle ever.
In fact, I'll go this far, Suh would have won the Heisman if he went by Kong as a first name.
By the way, last year Suh had two interceptions.
He returned both for touchdowns.
5. Has a quarterback ever had to sit next to the defensive player that is responsible for making him so sore?
Colt McCoy was sacked 4.5 times by Suh. He was drilled more than 10 times on pass attempts. Meaning, he's got to be hurting, right?
Mack Brown should slip Suh a $20 for beating the Texas interior line so bad on that final play and forcing McCoy to throw the ball out of bounds.
Thereby sending Texas into the BCS title game.
What a system.
6. If I'd told you in 2007 that we'd swear-in a black president in 2009 and that a white running back would win the Heisman that same year, would you have believed me?
Even better, if you had to pick the most likely of the two, wouldn't you have gone with black president?
Enter Toby Gerhart.
It's why, of the five finalists, I'm rooting for him.
7. Screw all of you who ignored Kellen Moore.
The guy leads a 13-0 team, threw for 39 touchdowns against just three interceptions, leads the nation in passer efficiency, and he doesn't even merit an invite to New York?
Please explain to me why the media grabs onto the story of the small schools being ignored by the BCS, but never mentions the small players being ignored in the Heisman race? Especially considering that's the one place where the media can really influence the outcome.
Moore got screwed.
8. Was the Charlie Weis blindside hit on Pete Carroll the most effective defensive play of the Weis era?
I think so.
For those of you who have been sleeping through a post-holiday funk, Weis accused Carroll of living with a grad student in Malibu.
Carroll should have opened up his press conference by saying, "Congratulations to Charlie Weis, for the most unexpected move of his coaching career since he ordered a Cobb salad at a Chicago-area Denny's."
9. Tim Tebow gets to take another trip to New York City.
Last year, I thought Tebow was robbed when Sam Bradford won the Heisman over him.
This year, I don't think Tebow's a legitimate contender. He is, however, the first player since Herschel Walker to be invited to New York in three consecutive seasons.
Anyone else think Tebow should go Bible verse eye black for the ceremony? Why not? I mean, Randy Moss wore sunglasses inside.
10. I deserve this for going to Smoothie King by myself.
So the teenager behind the counter says to me, "Do you have a son?"
"Yes," I respond.
I've already noticed that people are more likely to remember my son than they are me. I've taken the daddy route, where I've gone from an individual person to merely someone's parent. Anyway, I think maybe the two of us have been in there at some point.
"How old is he?" he asks.
"Two," I say.
"Nah," says the guy. "The guy I know is older."
"How old? I ask.
"19 or 20."
Either the teenager at Smoothie King thinks I procreated at the age of 10, or he thinks I'm at least 45.
Shoot me now.
11. I'll say it again, Mark Ingram is not the best back in the SEC West, Anthony Dixon is.
And now that the votes are in, hopefully the extremely august Heisman voters -- more on what clown shows many of these guys are soon -- took note of the fact that Anthony Dixon has outperformed Mark Ingram when the two backs have gone up against five similar opponents.
Here's what I wrote in last week's Starting 11:
"Dixon and Ingram happen to share five common SEC opponents -- Ole Miss, Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, and Auburn. In those five games Dixon has rushed for 759 yards to Ingram's 537 and outgained him on a per carry basis 5.71 to 5.11."
So Ingram isn't even the best back in the SEC West. And, oh by the way, Ingram is also averaging fewer yards per game than 11 other backs, and five of those 11 backs average more yards per carry than Ingram does.
But Ingram plays for Alabama and most Heisman voters are lazy tools.
That's how they ignored Moore.
Get me a Heisman ballot now.