Right now, I’m sitting at the front of a classroom with 17 students silently sprawled before me. They are taking their midterm. One kid has his hand on his head, another young woman is looking at her test with her eyes scrunched together. If they weren’t all so serious right now, I’d crack up laughing. It’s a pretty funny sight. … And, shoot, the test is the same thing as their study sheet, just in a different order. It shouldn’t be too hard.
School has had me in academic overdrive of late. It is halfway through the first quarter and three gigantic research papers are due in five weeks. That boggles my mind a bit. I’m enjoying this whole deal — it’s definitely challenging, interesting and at times fun — but it is still quite an adjustment. But, tomorrow after class, two of my classmates and I are hitting the highway for a road trip to Washington D.C. I wish I could say it’ll be all about the monuments, museums, restaurants and bars, but in fact, it will be all about the research. We are going to the Library of Congress to find periodicals we couldn’t get at the OU library or get through the “OhioLink” system. It kind of stinks that we have to drive six hours, make arrangements to stay somewhere, etc., but it should be a good time, nonetheless. I’m excited to hit the LOC. I went there several times the summer between my junior and senior years in college, when I spent most of the summer in DC. It’s such a cool place. I always think of “All the President’s Men,” when Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman (playing Woodward and Bernstein) are in there… It kind of gives me goosebumps, but I’m a geek that way. 🙂
So, who watched the football games last weekend? I actually gave myself the day “off” to watch. God, what a heartbreaking game for the Washington Huskies!
A few things jumped out at me: 1.) The Huskies defense looked terrific with its back up against the wall, but looked horrible otherwise. That tells me something — the Huskies still lack speed in the secondary. The Huskies D could muscle up, break up passes and take care of business on the goal-line (or red zone), but couldn’t do it in open space. The Huskies’ safeties are clearly not burners, nor do they have that intuitive nose for the ball. They just don’t. Nate Williams is a hard worker and a really nice kid — one of the nicest — but he just is not that quick. It’s really too bad about Justin Glenn (breaking his leg against Notre Dame), because he was someone with that quickness. But this isn’t all on the secondary, either. The Huskies would’ve done better on those long Irish drives had E.J. Savannah been healthy. Savannah isn’t the fastest guy on the team, but he makes up a step or two with his instincts. He always has. His absence was definitely felt. The defensive line has played so much better this year (as compared to last year), but there is still a ways to go. I love the improvement of Cameron Elisara and I so wish I could see Talia Crichton play in person at a couple practices. This line is going to be fun to watch in the years to come, but there are still some growing pains. Even from Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. He’s so hard core and such a great leader, but he is getting so much attention he is sometimes neutralized. He has to learn to deal with that a little better and his linemates need to heed the bell when he is doubled.
Offensively, I’m so impressed with Chris Polk and James Johnson. Johnson is an eventual early-round NFL pick. He is the first Huskies receiver — since I’ve covered the team — to have natural receiver instincts. It’s so weird. Think of Sonny Shackleford, Anthony Russo, Marcel Reece, Cody Ellis, even D’Andre Goodwin. All were/are serviceable receivers. All have made some nasty catches, put up some numbers. But Johnson IS a receiver. He contorts his body to avoid defenders and get the ball. He goes to places you don’t think a player can to get the ball. His routes and angles are (usually) crisp. It’s pretty impressive. (Coincidentally, I think there is another natural receiver like this in the Seattle area — he is in high school on the Sammamish Plateau. Yup, Kasen Williams.)
Now, the goal-line futility for the Huskies’ offense… Yes, I thought overturning the Chris Polk touchdown was a crime. I thought Notre Dame’s 2-point conversion was questionable. But the Huskies left their opportunity to win the game at the 1-yard line over, and over, and over again. The officials didn’t lose that game for UW, contrary to what a young, brash Chris Polk has to say.
I think Steve Sarkisian needed to be taken to task for the fourth-and-1 play in third quarter. Seriously… the Huskies needed to kick it there. I felt that whiff of the goal line (the first one) changed the momentum. 1.) It told Notre Dame’s defense, “Yeah, you got this!” 2.) It put a shadow of doubt in the Huskies’ minds that they might not be able to do it. 3.) Plain and simply, the Huskies needed the points there! I love Sarkisian’s aggressive nature, but that was a rookie mistake on the coach’s part.
In the fourth quarter, I was truly blown away that the Huskies couldn’t get there! Notre Dame’s defense was good, but — it’s Notre Dame’s defense! It looked like someone missed a block and that Paul Homer’s angle was poor on the pass to the fullback. It looked like quarterback Jake Locker didn’t get his arms out. It looked like the play-calling got quite predictable. It was just one thing after another.
All that said… my God, was that a fun game to watch?! When was the last time a Washington Huskies game was that much fun? (OK, the USC game… but before even that?!) No, no one is happy with “almost,” or “coulda.” But the last five years, we have watched game, after game, after game where “close” simply equated to “lose it at the end.” The Huskies had opportunities to win, but they didn’t stand helplessly by while giving the opponent the win. (In my mind, I am seeing the Huskies ’07 losses to Arizona, Washington State, Hawaii. Ugh. That was such a rotten season of blown leads and hapless D.)
I love that Jake Locker was so mad he couldn’t even speak to reporters. He SHOULD be mad! But you know what? The players haven’t been that mad in ages. They’ve been upset, frustrated, mystified… but they haven’t been like that! Remember when Tim Tebow got mad after Florida’s lone loss last year? He was so mad he could hardly speak to reporters. “God bless.” I LIKE IT!!
I’m already so excited for Saturday night’s game. Bowl hopes, season goals and a real gut check are at stake. Trust me, there will be one Huskies fan at a sports bar in D.C, that I know for sure!
On to my next football rant… God, I love this: Ohio State Buckeyes fans are up in arms, folks. Why? Because the Cincinnati Bearcats are ranked higher than Ohio State! Haha!
The Buckeyes play no one in the early part of the season other than their recently-annual whipping by USC. They have beat up 20 percent of the hapless lower half of the Big Ten and really think they should be higher than a team that has actually played some stiff competition and won handily? Good lord… no way.
Buckeyes fans need to get a grip on reality. First, stop belly-aching and just watch your team go and win more games. Second, be thankful AP voters are voting on your conference’s long, outstanding history and not the fact that the Big Ten has become nearly irrelevant and dipped to mediocrity. In all honesty, I don’t think any Big Ten team deserves to be in the top 10 at this point. Be happy with that No. 9 ranking and stop ripping on a team that has actually accomplished something thus far into the season. (I’m not even a Bearcats fan, but face it, they deserve their ranking!)
I won’t go off on the Steelers’ win from Sunday because they have some fourth-quarter loose ends to tie up. I hope they can accomplish that over Detroit and Cleveland because I want a win on the 26th (I think that’s the date) against Minnesota! I’ll be there at PNC Park with my Terrible Towl and my best Minnesota Vikings’ fan friend, Jennell! Woo hoo! Down with Favre!
Until next time…