" That's just the sort of blinkered, Philistine Pig ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage!"

John Cleese

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Agree With All Of Mate's Thoughts...Plus More

Unlike Mate, I do NOT have stuff going on.

My lack of posts come from burying my head in the sand until the election is over. I'd just get myself worked up into a lather and that's not good for anybody.

But I thought it all year and the Wisconsin game really was the first one that pushed all the over-hyped buttons in my Iowa football world.

I say "over-hyped" in the sense of what some pundits have said. There has been entirely too much blind faith in the defensive line being one of the best in the nation and having that translate to the entire defense as "one of the best defenses in the nation".

Essentially, Iowa has a great defensive line (with caveats), two very good safeties, a fair to middling (at best) linebacking corps, a #1 cornerback that should be a #2 in a good defense and another that's going through every possible cornerback growing pain in a season that can't afford it.

And the bigger problem is that Iowa's base zone defense NEEDS an agile linebacking group that covers the soft middle and a group that can go sideline to sideline better than most in order to succeed. Toss in two smart, opportunistic safeties and that's what works in Iowa's scheme. It's too basic of a set NOT have this. A great defensive line is merely a luxury in their defense. It only needs to be good.

Iowa's defense was so Iowa-y last year because Edds was so freakin' incredible at taking away the underneath from the running backs and the wide receivers in the flat on the quick outs. And Angerer took away the quick go from from the tight end just long enough to force the quarterback to check off it. That brought safeties in play to make their jump early as they read what was initially covered and where help would be more prudent and all interception-y.

Heck, I don't even think cornerbacks need to be great in their defensive set. Just good. Great safeties make good cornerbacks. It allows them to be more aggressive if help is a given. But...if the cornerbacks have it in the back of their mind that the drag across the middle isn't going to be covered effectively, their zone becomes expanded. Happy feet is the result. And happy feet with a cornerback that's learning on the job and happy feet with a cornerback who seems to want the big hit over effective coverage leads to weird TV football confusion. Too many guys on the field simply can't do what they do best and end up having to worry about stuff that isn't relevant to their primary assignment.

But when your linebackers look like they took a time machine back to 1977 with floppy pads and trippy running after opposing players that seem like they're from the future, going after guys that seem to, once and for all, put to rest the argument that players 30 years ago could easily play in today's game, what does the coaching staff do? They went into the season hoping, praying that upfront pressure would minimize any deficiencies in the linebackers, at least until they got better as the season progressed. They didn't. I think Iowa fans in general got a little too into "Clayborn's back, baby!" to realize that they had two brand-spankin' new linebackers in a scheme that demands they be better than this.

And that upfront pressure has been, dare I say, spotty. Ballard and Binns disappear from long stretches at a time, something that can't happen when Clayborn's getting double-teamed every snap. They stop the run, expect when they don't, especially late in the game. It almost seems like they tire out, a shock to watch from an Iowa team. The pass rush is good enough but only 12 sacks on the year (72nd in FBS) sends the mind whirling in so many different directions. That doesn't have to mean everything but it also isnn't entirely devoid of meaning. Sacks are a result of good coverage but also are a result of beating your one-on-one match-up so thoroughly. Let's say sacks aren't a barometer. How 'bout tackles for loss? That's a good gauge of a great defensive line, right? 84th in FBS with 5.7 per game.

I believe that this is a talented Iowa team. I do. But if you were scheming against this Iowa defense as an opposing coach, would you be that frightened? Compare it to scheming against some of the Iowa defenses from 2002-2004 at various stages of the each season (i.e. - most of '02 and late '04). I don't think it's close. The cushy, pillow-like soft middle and the tendency for Iowa's CB's to overplay/happy feet it says a simple "mix it up" with copious amounts of play-action will do the trick. And during the game, track Iowa's individual player tendencies. It doesn't change enough. If the CB's are inching to defending the run early, he'll do it for long stretches until they're exploited and even then, it doesn't seem if they adjust enough. Linebackers backpedalling get exploited when the receiver/TE cut the route short because the linebackers don't recover well from their backpedal and no adjustment happens, like inching the safeties up to compensate against the Wisconsin receiving corps that doesn't possess blazing speed. Problem, though, comes in the cornerbacks not being good enough to give away their safety blankie. So...Iowa does one thing to compensate and two more options come open for Wisconsin to take advantage of. A lot of creaky moving parts here.

And as Mate said, Stanzi couldn't have had more time Saturday. That was a very good defensive line Iowa faced and the line, previously the biggest concern that was slowly wandering into Bears "Oh, my God, they're defining futile" territory, looked like what everyone says about Iowa - a team built on a beefy, technically solid guys up front. It's almost too bad Iowa fans can't focus on that with the defense in the shape it is. They deserve some love after that day.

But Stanzi, while a better version of Stanzi than last year and having all the time in the world, missed receivers multiple times and patently refused to give the middle of the field more time to develop. His check-downs seemed too quick Saturday, opting for the safe route too early on downs that necessitated a longer look down-field. I shouldn't be complaining about a 30-point effort against Wisconsin. That should have been enough to win. But having that much time in the pocket - a pocket that never even seemed to collapse even a little bit on so many occasions - and a Wisconsin secondary that didn't play well at all (second only to the Michigan State cornerback play on the week for crappy crappiness - how did Northwestern lose that game?), Iowa should have put up 40-45 Saturday. That was a once-in-a-season opportunity against a very good team (at home) missed.

Iowa is a good football team. It's when you get into the details of defining "good" where things get dicey. Last year was such a high that many Iowa fans put their hands over their ears when some talked about concerns. Too much talent was returning. But the lack of talent at key positions allowed things like stupid mental lapses on special teams and terrible clock management to mean so much and/or even become a factor.

Great teams overcome it. Great teams don't let it come into play.

I'm fine with Iowa being a "good" team. It's part of the ebb and flow of being a fan. But that's what they are. Good. Not great.

I believe they'll beat Michigan State, giving them a signature win and they have a great chance of beating a mediocre Ohio State team. But I don't think this is a team that does what Iowa does, get better quick and run the table. The Northwestern and Indiana games are entirely in play in my Iowa football world for frustrating football watching.

In fact, I don't really think Iowa's getting particularly better as the season progresses.

They might even be getting worse.

Cue Picard Frustratin Pic

Too much shit and too much stuff to devote some time to posting lately. But what could possibly be better to get me out of my funk than a classic Iowa Frustration Loss like the one Saturday?!
The whole game, even though Iowa could've thrown at fucking will against the unbelievably bad Wisconsin secondary, I had a bad feeling. Hayden era bad feeling.

First off, Iowa fans need to get over the whole "BCS Championship Game" bullshit anyway. The loss to a mediocre Arizona team pretty much threw that out the window. Second, yes, the last 15 seconds of clock management was laughably bad and Kirk Ferentz still after all these years, can't seem to grasp the intricacies of setting yourself up for a last second field goal with minimal time left.
You know, you have to keep track of time outs and the clock and all that. It's very confusing. ("It was a maaaaadhouse!")

So, here goes my little take:

The Good: Iowa's offense is fairly lethal. Stanzi's throws wobbled at times and he missed some wide open receivers but all in all, the passing game is formidable. Kirk and O'Keefe would be wise to open things up a bit more. There's too many good receivers on this team to not score at least 28 points a game.

The offensive line was stout against an overrated but decent Wisconsin d-line. Plenty of time to throw, which made some of Stanzi's "Ingrained in brain by coaching staff" check downs more frustrating. Seriously, Stanzi could've thrown every damn down for significant yards. Case in point, DJK (I hate writing that but his name is hard to spell) running down the middle of the field with two steps on his man with 30 seconds left. Someone.Open.Every. Down.

The Bad: Special Teams. Seriously, guys. Off sides on a kick off? That cost ya 30 yards. Bad snap on a chip shot FG. Blocked PAT. Horrible kick off coverage, at times. AGAIN! I won't blame the fake punt on the players as the coaching staff called for a return (stupid. 6 minutes left.The idea of a fake didn't cross your mind?! More on this later) and got burned. But this area has cost Iowa both it's losses. It's time to put some starters in KO coverage and start with the squib kicking, which worked once and was then abandoned. Again, coaching staff has had better days.

Linebackers: Iowa's defense is predicated on having linebackers that can cover receivers. If you don't have that, it doesn't mean two shits whether or not you have a good defensive line. And losing AJ Edds an Pat Angerer has hurt more than I thought. The guys in there now can't cover. Michigan and Wisconsin both exploited this and the staff better change something soon or we''re gonna see alot of slow bleeding drives. Getting Tarpinian back helps a bit but Hunter is hurt now (not sure how bad) and Tyler Nielsen might have a hard time covering Christo or me.

The Godawful: Coaching: Not playing safe on the punt was unforgivable but the part where I got hot was when Iowa is up 27-24 with 8 minutes left and Brett Greenwood makes a super INT at the Wisconsin 30 yard line. Go for the throat! Dive left. Check down for 2 yards. Incomplete pass. Field goal. Browns lead. As much as I love the coaching staff at Iowa, this was ridiculous in it's Michael Savage-like conservatism. As I said earlier, the Wisconsin secondary is BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD. You're working clock?! The defense is having a hard time against their offense. You know what helps with that? A TEN POINT LEAD! So what if they run it down your throats? They take 5 minutes off the clock and you still have the lead. Unreal. You're telling me three shots at the end zone in that situation you couldn't get a TD against that fucking brutal secondary?
It's a cliche but if you don't have the balls to do that then you don't deserve to win.

The fans: Jesus. Get a grip. I made a decision a few years ago to give myself an hour to be pissed off after a loss. Now, it gets a bit gray in a BIG game like the Rose Bowl or the World Series or playoffs but a regular season game? It's a bunch of 19 year old kids beating a bunch of other 19 year old kids. It's frustrating. But come on! Do I need to call the Suicide Hotline?!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're Still Alive

The BRE has been in shutdown mode for most of the last month but we get back on track with this:

I don't know what's more pathetic, the kid acting like a whining crybaby horse's ass over a motherfucking NFL football game or the fact that the Raiders are so shitastic that people feel the need to cry when their team loses to them.
Either way? Hysterical.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Help! I'm About To Join An NBA Fantasy League!

Browns are 0-3 and the Angels are one more stupid acquisition from being a bloated, smelly carcass of a baseball team for years to come.

Iowa basketball (kicks off with the shirts-skins game this weekend) evokes the same mouth agape, dirty, sad feeling I get when watching the third consecutive episode of Hoarders.

Iowa football is nice but I'm starting to feel a tad squirmy about the next three games, bringing on more sports angst than sports enjoyment.

So maybe I'll start following the Darth Vader and Evil Empire NBA storyline that is LeBron James and the Miami Heat ("Goin' down, LBJ! Chosen One, my ass! You suck!"). Not really.

I think I'm bored. So submit your hobby suggestions for Christo. Deadline is next Friday at 5pm. We'll pick one out of a hat. Anything goes. And I mean anything.

But speaking of Darth Vader (BRE TOA Numero Seis Winner, BTW), I will need you to sit down for this news. A few days ago, George Lucas revealed some of the funniest fourth-order sad-funny news this 2010.

Starting in 2012, all six Star Wars films will be re-re-released in 3D, beginning with The Phantom Menace.

No response?


Nothing? Not even a raise of the eyebrow?


Me, either. Nothing. Nothing. Not a guffaw. Not a "crap!" Not even a "hmm."

You found it, George. You found the very depths of my apathy for your formerly-loved, childhood-defining little celluloid creations. 3D, huh? You go, George. You go out your way.

On dark depths of emptiness, I caved and rented Avatar this week. I believe there were only four of us left on the planet that hadn't seen it. I don't like to be last in anything. It's unseemly. And the only movies left on the shelves that I hadn't seen were buddy cop movies, which is like following the NBA in my world. Or it's...like me buying skinny jeans. So many levels of absolute wrong with that.

Movie Review: This. This caused all that? This?

It's pretty.

Darth Vader Saying, "NOOOOOOO!" (BRE TOA Winner, BTW. Did I mention that?) is probably the worst, franchise-defining in a bad way, movie line in the history of history. Yes.

But "Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo," is a close second.

And Avatar is LOADED with lines cozying right up on the couch with that one.


It's Dances With Wolves with blue people.

Game-changing special effects (doesn't "special effects" sound like a term old people use now?) and I guarantee it's the movie that made Lucas wet his pants and get all envious, prompting a 3D re-re-release of his little movies, but really? This made people run to get prescribed anti-depressants? This?

Iowa, 18-13.