Friday, January 06, 2006

Rose by any other name

Okay, so the game did live up to the hype. Three plays stood out to me in the game. Reggie Bush's ill conceived lateral that resulted in a fumble recovered by Texas and the two fourth downs that Pete Carroll went for instead of sending in the special teams. This first time he did that was in the 1st quarter at the Texas 17 when Matt Leinhart tried a quarterback sneak. A questionable decision with USC already up by 7 points and the momentum squarely in their favor. Carroll's kicker was 11-12 on the season and was perfect from inside 40 yards. The decision to go for it on fourth down from midfield with 2 minutes left in the game will be debated for a long time but it was the wrong call. By punting USC could have pinned Texas back inside their own 20. Instead Vince Young got the ball at midfield and, with two timeouts, could scramble or throw the ball. Carroll admitted he wasn't confident his defense could stop Young if they punted and he wanted to end the game right there. It wasn't fourth down and two feet, however, and LenDale White was stopped just a few feet short. I understand the logic but if you feel shaky about your defense why take the chance of putting them on their heels and giving Texas a short field? Now a fake punt would have been a stroke of genius and I doubt that Texas would have been expecting it.

All this confirms what I've believed for a while now. You don't need to be a great strategist to be a highly successful college coach, heck you don't even need to be anything other than a highly mediocre coach to win in college. You just need to get great players. In the NFL Carroll was never successful anywhere he coached, but in college, where you can get any players you want depending on what you're willing to do, good X and O preparation isn't a prerequisite for winning. Steve Spurrier is another example of this phenomenon as are Dennis Erickson and Rich Brooks.

Now back to Maryland

The kids had a nice tune up for ACC play. The game wasn't on the tube and I didn't have tickets so there isn't much point in analyzing the game. Nik Caner-Medley had his best game of the season and I expect him to kick it into gear as ACC play starts tomorrow. Ekene Ibekwe didn't have the kind of game that will get your attention but for a kid who is the star of the frontcourt he is playing very unselfishly. He only took 5 shots, only Will Bowers took fewer among the big men, against a team he would have been jacking shots every time he touched the ball last season. DJ Strawberry and Chris McCray continued their solid play with 14 and 16 points respectively.

I like where Maryland is as a team right now. They should roll over Miami and then get Duke next week. It'll be a tough stretch with Wake Forest and Virginia Tech coming to Comcast Center after that. We'll have a good sense of what to expect out of this squad after that point.

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