This is not really a JP, but some college football stuff to shepherd you through the evening. Let’s call it everything that won’t fit in a Jumbo Package but that sure as hell beats UCLA-Colorado. The real world is, let’s say, a bit tense at the moment. So, here’s a diversion from reality with plenty of baked-in hot takes to discuss.
PFF has graded out the SEC’s offensive lines. Alabama is second on the list, behind only Georgia. And though Coach Saban has been disappointed in some outcomes, as a group, they’re performing quite well.
...Alex Leatherwood is the lowest-graded player on the line at 64.5, that still sees him in the middle of the pack in the SEC, ranking at the 16th-graded graded guard out of the 25 to play at least 200 snaps. As a group, they have been key to Alabama’s running game, and it’s no surprise that through every gap where they have run at least three times, they average over five yards per carry.
Auburn has never really been on my most-hated program list. I think not being born in Alabama and moving around a lot of my adult life has insulated me from the all-consuming in-state Iron Bowl-ness. But, while the ‘Barn may not be the most-hated team on my list, it is by far the most annoying. Exhibit A for that proposition is coming out flat and losing to UCF 34-27 in last year’s Peach Bowl. That unforgivable loss has spawned a cottage industry of people giving the Colley Matrix gravitas and Humid Boise demanding to be heard, when in reality, a legitimate playoff contender would do filthy things to the Knights.
And, now this. Now, we have Bill Hancock and the CFP Committee pretending to take their claims seriously.
“Yes, there is a path. UCF got full consideration from the committee last year. I believe the committee at the end of the season had ranked UCF higher than the sports writers and the coaches had. So they got every consideration and they had a wonderful season. ... For the path, play a good schedule, win your games, and you’re going to be in the hunt for the College Football Playoff.”
So, what’s Hancock saying here? “There’s a chance but you have to schedule a lot better than this?” “This schedule is acceptable?” It should be noted, UCF’s present strength of schedule is 124th out of 128 teams.
One very plausible scenario that is brewing is the spectre of Notre Dame haunting the Committee. This year lacks a deep field of elite teams. Alabama is plainly at the top. Georgia and to a lesser extent Clemson are playing catchup. Then who? An undefeated or one-loss B1G winner? An undefeated Stanford? Both make it easier for the Committee. But, should the Irish prevail tomorrow, its hardest games are out of the way — and barring a collapse, the Domers can practically pencil in 12-0.
Do we reward Notre Dame with a playoff spot? If it’s going to happen, this is a year for it. And, if an undefeated Notre Dame is left out, what possible rationale would satisfy anyone? The lack of a 13th game? Nope. The Committee gave Notre Dame a carve-out. So, it’s not a TCU/Baylor situation. Schedule? That won’t fly either. OSU’s SOS is 102nd; Penn State’s is 71st; Oklahoma is 95th; Alabama is 41st; Georgia is 51st; Stanford is 60th — Notre Dame’s is 32nd, and unlike those other teams, it won’t have a single FCS game on the ledger either.
If the Irish go undefeated, get ready to replay another question: Will Notre Dame finally break the four-team Playoff? This is the argument that could eventually trigger real expansion talk — which CFP executive director Bill Hancock has emphasized repeatedly isn’t a possibility right now. One-loss TCU and Baylor couldn’t change that in 2014. One-loss Ohio State couldn’t in 2015. Two-loss Big Ten champion Penn State couldn’t in 2016. Shoot, Alabama-Ohio State last year couldn’t do it.
But Notre Dame could, for several reasons. If the Irish make the Playoff, that means a Power 5 conference is out. Now imagine if, like last year, the SEC claimed two spots in the four-team field, leaving three Power 5 conferences to watch from home.
Matt Wyatt is back, this time to grade the Alabama-A&M game. Spoiler: Tagovailoa is still pretty decent.
What follows is a fascinating read. For whatever reason, I picked up Reddit this week. And, to my surprise, it’s not all 14-year old black pill incels and white hat hackers. There’s a surprising amount of decent original college football content there, including this analysis of the old Spurrier Fun n’ Gun Mills and Wheels routes that Alabama has adopted.
Absolutely a great read for X and O types.
Mills was made famous by Steve Spurrier, he used it to torture teams that liked to run quarters coverage or Cover 4, but you can use it against Cover 1, also. Mills is just a post-dig two-man concept, outside receiver runs a post route, inside receiver runs a dig route.
The idea is to bait the deep safety to bite on the dig route, leaving the outside receiver open on the post. If the safety drops to cover the post, the inside receiver is open for an easy completion on the dig route. The safety can’t be two places at once, so the object is to make him whatever decision he makes the wrong one. Easy, right?
It’s the 10th Anniversary of a watershed moment in Alabama football history :)
Wait for the punchline — in an era of ever-changing kits, Uniform Watch has roasted all major conferences. Alabama is on there, but Crimson and White is eternal.
Baton Rouge’s paper of record, The Advocate, is exceptionally fortunate to have Ross Dellenger. He’s one of the very best in the business. He has stepped out of his comfort zone covering the Tigers’ beat this week, and did an exceptional longform retrospective on triple option football.
It’s not dying, and in fact, aspects of the scheme may be gaining ground in this fast-paced era. The Wishbone: the original hurry-up offense. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
If I could put lipstick on any read this week and make sweet, sweet love to it, it’s this one. Enjoy.
The core value of the triple option is simple: out-number the defense, 11 players to 10, by reading a defensive player’s movement instead of blocking him and employing your quarterback as a runner. Free from his blocking responsibilities, maybe that extra offensive player can double-team an All-America defensive tackle, or reach block an all-conference linebacker, and open a hole no teammate is fast or strong enough to open by himself.
The zone-read, a kind of double option, has swallowed high school and college football for nearly two decades, but its bigger brother the triple has maintained a persistent presence at both levels of the sport, even as the number of teams that exclusively operate out of it dwindles.