Saturday, September 05, 2009

Very Disappointing Opener 2k9 ...

Forget the fact that we were the only BIG-10 team to lose on Saturday (conference went 10-1). I know, we were the only team in conference to play anybody (Mizzou isn't shabby). But still yet, not the way I was hoping we would start the 2009 campaign; much like we ended 2008. It was our worst home opening loss since 1993. Ugh! Not much went right for the Chief in St. Louis today against those dreaded Tigers from Mizzou. In retrospect, it's probably a good thing we end this series next year. We haven't beaten Missouri in St. Louis since 1896 when the republicans last won a great election over the democrats (McKinley over Jennings Bryan). Ugh!

We continue to get in our own way. So much for all the hype around having a great fall camp. We have to figure it out and figure it out fast. The only thing that went right for Illinois today was that the buses started up and left town on time. We lost Benn to an ankle injury. Juice didn't even look that sharp and had some questionable decisions with the rock. Our defense had more holes in it than the finest aged Swiss. In truth, I see more of the same from the Zookers who continue to underachieve in Ronnie's 5th season. Honestly, I don't see how we beat the Redbirds next weekend much less get to 8 wins.

On the bright side was the offensive line and the play of LeShoure. He knows how to handle the rock. The receivers made some good plays, and Juice made some good throws. And Benn just has a low ankle sprain (not broken). But that's about it for the Fighting Zookers. Not much fight today. We have a lot to work on between now and next week. I hope there's enough time. I can't remember a team with so much potential not living up to any of it.

Let's hoop the Zooker succeeds in his red-button reset because that's needed after a loss like that. I don't think you rack your brain with a bunch of bad game film on this one; just get the memory out of your head as fast as you can and move on. Show me the potential coach. Show me that this team is still a good football team like you thought 4 weeks ago. Show me that the Mizzouri game was an aberration. Convince me that by the end of the year I'll be scratching my head asking how did we lose by 28 points to Mizzou?

It's been said that teams improve the most between weeks 1 and 2. God, I hope that's true. We need to send a message against Illinois State this weekend by dominating in all three phases of the game. Leave no doubt. Run it up. Because in WEEK 3 we travel to Columbus where we'll need more improvement between weeks 3 and 2 than 1 and 2 if we have any business showing up at all. Ugh!

Now to my top ten. I've said it before that pre-season polls make as much sense as a public option. And how about those Cougars from BYU? Probably the most impressive win of the day on a neutral field. So, without further delay, ponder these:
  1. Florida - until they are beaten.

  2. Texas - looking to close the gap with #1.

  3. USC - a good start against San Jose. Ohio State next.

  4. Alabama - may be the best win of the weekend over VT.

  5. Penn State - the zips? Come on, step up!

  6. Ole Miss - assuming they win on Sunday.

  7. LSU - a 2000 mile victory does the trick.

  8. Ohio State - a win is a win. Navy is a legit DIV 1A test.

  9. CAL - Maryland isn't a good barometer.

  10. Boise State - thank you LeGarette Blount. 10b. BYU.

And Kudos to BYU and the entire Mt. West Conference this weekend. League went 6-2 overall including the wins over Oklahoma and Colorado. But give most of the credit to BYU this week who took a major step forward in claiming its reservation not only in the BCS, but quite possibly in the title game. And wouldn't that be intriguing? What to do wtih an undefeated Cougar Club assuming they get by FSU, TCU, and Utah? I know there's a lot of football to be played this year, but ponder this even if just for a moment: BYU at 12-0. It's shaping up to be a special season in Provolone this year. That's a nice problem to have for the good of the game.

Finally, you know we lost last weekend when I talk about dead things. But today, we raised Red Grange from the dead and positioned him nicely in front of Memorial Stadium. Some things in life are really that good. Red was one of those players, a legend, and a true hero on and off the field. For his career, he totalled some pretty staggering numbers: over 4000 carries, 34000 yards, 8.4 ypc, and 2400 points in only 245 games in high-school, college, and the pros.

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