Stories, themes, trivia and other minutiae from the weekend that was
WAKE FOREST: SCOURGE OF THE BOWDEN FAMILY
Let's survey the damage wrought upon Bobby Bowden's clan by the Demon Deacons over the last several years: they ignited Tommy's perpetual hot seat five years ago following a 45-17 seal-clubbing of the Tigers, they caused Jeff to "resign" following the 30-0 shellacking in 2006, they've now beaten Bobby three straight times (and by a combined score of 42-3 in the last two games in Tallahassee), and they came full circle last week by getting Tommy canned once and for all. God help Terry if some ACC school rolls the dice on him in the near future.
A BIT OF A DROP-OFF, NO?
With third string QB Calvin Booker (all 6-4, 235lbs of him) stepping in for injured Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw, the Paul Johnson Project: Year One nearly fell apart in the most humiliating fashion...to 1-AA/FCS mediocrity Gardner-Webb. Booker was certainly terrible (19 rushes, 35 yards from your QB in any sort of option attack is certain defeat to just about any 1-A program and many 1-AA teams as well), but the offensive line was shockingly overwhelmed by the G-W rush defense. And nobody seems to have a clear idea why...Booker simply isn't an option QB by any stretch, timing between the QB/OL/RBs was way off, but there's more to it than that. As embarrassing as this near-miss was, it's not often that a team gets a chilling wake-up call and comes away with a win at the same time.
FROM THE MISLEADING SCORE DEPARTMENT
Miami 20, UCF 14. About the only accurate part of that score is Miami's 20...they clunked around on offense for much of the game, mainly because Robert Marve was either throwing incompletions (8 of 19 passing) or interceptions (three). But those 14 Knight points came on a pick-six and a kickoff return. The Hurricane defense held UCF to 78 total yards for the game on 64 offensive plays. That's 1.2 yards per play for those doing the calculations. Yes, games can get away from a team when they turn the ball over too much and/or flub special teams play, no matter how dominating they may be on defense. Nonetheless, the Knights never really threatened to drive the ball at any point that afternoon. Miami still has a long way to go, but making that judgment based on Saturday's score would be lazy.
NO TATE...NO YATES...NO PROBLEM
Stud starting QB gone by the middle of game 3. Stud wide receiver and kick-return deity gone by the middle of game 6. Stud running back mysteriously underwhelming all season. A defense that bends into a pretzel most of the year - but never quite breaks. With Butch Davis leading the charge, that gets you a 5-1 record against one of the better schedules in the country this year. The North Carolina Tar Heels certainly have the excuses to pack it in or to justify a defeat here or there, but they're not biting. Despite the personnel losses, they've blown apart 25% of the Big East (Rutgers and UConn) and they've had to dig deep and come back to beat Miami and Notre Dame. That so many unheralded players have stepped up when called upon is either a testament to substances in the drinking water in Chapel Hill, or in all seriousness the result of superb coaching, development and preparation by Davis and staff. How would Florida look without just Tim Tebow? Texas without just Colt McCoy? Mizzou without just Jeremy Maclin? We'll probably never know, but we do know that Butch rolls with the punches and hits back with whatever he's got left...and hits hard.
AL GROH'S ROCK-BOTTOM REJUVENATION ELIXIR
Somebody bottle, package, and patent whatever Al Groh and his coaching staff cooked up during the week following the 31-3 defeat at Duke. Anything and everything has vastly improved since the Blue Devil Beatdown - average score (9-32 through Duke, 33-10 post-Duke); QB play (0 TDs/9 INTs before, 3 TDs/2 INTs after), rushing (66yds per game before, 204yds per game after), turnovers (-7 before, +2 after), defense (379yds allowed before, 293yds allowed after), and special teams (no stats, but take my word for it). And there's no rational or logical explanation for the reversal of fortune post-Duke. An attitude adjustment, sure. But it's way more than that. And whatever "it" is, Groh can make a killing by selling it in his retirement years.