Welcome to our weekly discussion amongst The Ralphie Report's staff. Same format as last week, so dig right in.
Feel free to throw your answers to the same questions into the comments below.
1) Plenty of teams have had some disastrous early season games (Oregon and Oregon State are great examples from last season) only to rebound and have some very solid seasons. Do you think the Buffs can rebound from the debacle at Cal?
Bob: Teams don't just get beat 52-7 and rebound over night. Usually a team that has this much experience doesn't allow itself to play like they did against California. The players are saying the right things how it will never happen again and the coaches are saying they are better than what they showed but if my memory serves me right, we heard the exact same thing last year and the year before. Time for actions to start speaking louder than words and until that happens, I am afraid some old story.
Ash: We Can rebound IF one of two things happens: Either the O-Line coalesces and plays to their ability, or we totally re-design our passing attack to compensate. Offenses have been built around having an incompetent O-Line, but ours isn't it. I doubt they'll overhaul things in the middle of the season which means it's up to the 5 guys up front.
David: I think the Buffs will rebound against Hawaii, but I don't think we will end up with a season like Oregon or Oregon State did last year. Those were good teams that had a slip up (though neither of those game even remotely resembled ours).
Jon: I guess it depends on what I meant by very solid seasons (and I don't). Do I think we will finish the year with more than the three wins we had last year? Yes. Do I think we will win more than seven? Sure don't. A bowl does not look good right now.
2) Cal's defense was good, but they aren't best defense we will see this year (Nebraska, Oklahoma, possibly Georgia). If you are offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau, what would you do to try and ramp up the offense?
Bob: It was fairly evident last week and even the week before, the offensive line has issues. Until they get those guys on the same page and working as a cohesive unit, this team will struggle.
But I also have to question the game plans. I can't remember the last time the Buffs seemed to have exploited a defensive weakness or even countered a defensive scheme with success. For example, everyone and their mother knew that Cal was going to blitz. That is what Pendergast does. How many plays did we see try and slow that down? Screens to the receivers, tight end seem routes, running underneath the rush ends to help players like Nate Solder out? To me, the offensive seems very unimaginative and very unadaptable.
Ash: Without an intimate knowledge of our offense (or offenses in general), I'd say do everything to get the ball into our skill players' hands and take the pressure off the offensive line and Hansen's ability to read post-snap. You have the hyper-quick routes plus organized receiver blocking with Leach's system; or how about throwing from running formations (have we run the play-action?), running from passing formations (Hansen 5-wide draw play?) Shotgun option running, Bootlegs, (how have we NOT run bootlegs yet?), Screens, Traps, or go old-fashioned and just make a deal with the devil. I would try anything.
David: This is something I'm going to address in the game preview, and something I talked about a little bit in my "Upon Second Viewing: California" piece. Simply put, I would roll out the pocket early in the game. That would nullify the pressure that our O-line can't seem to deal with, and it would help our mobile QB get into a rhythm early in games.
Jon: I'm in the same boat as Ash in that I'm not an expert on any of the "mechanics" of football. That being said, after what we saw last Saturday the offense needs to be dumbed down for the o-line (not the quaterback like you normally hear) as much as possible. Whatever freaking plays you can call that these guys can at least semi-block for, call those.
Bob: Just means we are going to have a lot less rotation in the defensive backfield and we are going to be playing pretty much exclusively a 4-3-4, instead of rotating between a 3-3-5. Personally, I am not too worried about it beyond Hawaii. Would be a lot more worried if two of our linebackers went down. No denying Orms and Sandersfield had playmaking ability but I think the defense will be fine.
That being said, with Hawaii coming to town, you would certainly like the ability to have the 3-3-5 in the back pocket.
Ash: I think it means we have to use our Linebackers and be much more physical with their receivers at the line to compensate. I doubt Vigo will be able to be 'on' for the entire game, and I expect that they'll pick on him when he is in.
David: I don't actually know what it does. It doesn't really decrease the amount of experience that the Secondary has, because both of the guys who got hurt were first time starters, just like Paul Vigo. I'm not sure it changes much in the Nickel packages. It will hurt against Hawaii, because they consistently run 4 and 5 receivers. If we wanted to bring out a 6th Defensive Back, it would have originally been Paul Vigo, but now we're bringing in guys who haven't been receiving as many reps and who aren't as good.
Jon: It means the other four guys are going to need to step up big time. We can account for the losses if everyone else is doing their jobs. But we cannot afford to have a second weak link in this secondary against the Rainbow Warriors or we will pay for it.
1) Using the AP poll, what currently unranked team (outside of the top 25) will finish the season ranked the highest and why?
Bob: Maybe North Carolina...the ACC is bad, really bad. They might be the best team.
Ash: Considering the teams just outside of the Top-25 constitute most of the ACC, the rest of the Big-12, Cal and Air Force, that's a helluva tough question. I'll go with Air Force, though; I think they'll beat Utah and finish with losses to top-ten OU and TCU. I think those other teams will trade too many wins and losses by the end of the season.
David: It would be selfish of me to vote for Cal (it might make our horrendous showing look slightly less horrendous), but I'm going to go with Air Force. I know OU looked a lot better last week, but I'm feeling an upset.
Jon: I'll go with Clemson. I think this is the year they will finally win the conference. If they can beat Auburn on the plains on Saturday it will make this pick look a lot better.
2) Like Tom4Buffs mentioned in my BlogPoll ballot this week, there are five ranked Pac-10 teams in this week's AP Poll (with Cal at 29) and only three Big 12 teams ranked. Is the Pac-10 that much better than the Big-12 this year or is this just a function of early season schedules?
Bob: Pac 10 is a little deeper. Big 12 has better teams. Would love to see an Oregon v Oklahoma game but after Oregon, I think Nebraska and Texas are better than any other Pac 10 team.
Ash: I think it's just the static nature of the early-season poll. Both sides have resumes that consist of
a) "We beat the crap out of a I-AA team" i.e. Stanford, Arizona, Nebraska
b) "We beat the crap out of a team that should be I-AA" i.e. Oregon, Texas, Nebraska,
c) "We beat a team that people thought were good but is really rebuilding" i.e. Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah
d) "We lost to a team whose credentials are a good preseason ranking and beating us" i.e. Oregon St.
Upcoming games will finally test some of these teams, but I think that right now the top 3 of the Big 12 are better than the top 3 of the Pac-10.
David: It is a bit of both. This is a down year in the Big 12, and I think the Pac10 teams have played fewer "cupcakes" (again, everyones definition of a cupcake differs).
Jon: Agree with Bob, the Big 12 is much stronger at the top, but the Pac-10 has way more depth. Even Arizona State is showing a pulse so far this year.
3) Give me the final scores:
- Air Force @ Oklahoma
- Nebraska @ Washington
- Texas @ Texas Tech
- Arkansas @ Georgia
- Clemson @ Auburn
- Air Force @ Oklahoma Closer than everyone thinks 35-24
- Nebraska @ Washington 24-10
- Texas @ Texas Tech 31-24
- Arkansas @ Georgia 17-14
- Clemson @ Auburn 7-17
- Air Force 20 @ Oklahoma 31 - I got tricked by Oklahoma's sorry effort against Utah St, Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... ...not gonna fool me again.
- Nebraska 44 @ Washington 24 - Nebraska's magical running quarterback will prance all over the field... again.
- Texas 37 @ Texas Tech 34 - I think Texas does what they did last year and plays keep-away enough to beat Tubberville's tortilla tossers.
- Arkansas 17 @ Georgia 20 - Mallett had had 2 INTs against UL Monroe, I expect Georgia to take advantage when those come around.
- Clemson 10 @ Auburn 21 - Are Clemson's wins against better nobodys than Auburn's? I don't know, but I'm guessing they aren't.
- Air Force @ Oklahoma 37-24 Air Force
- Nebraska @ Washington 41-17 Nebraska (I think Washington is INCREDIBLY overrated)
- Texas @ Texas Tech 44-10 Texas
- Arkansas @ Georgia 17-13 Geogia
- Clemson @ Auburn 35-17 Auburn
- Air Force @ Oklahoma 38-14 Upset? You guys are nuts.
- Nebraska @ Washington 21-24 I'm still not buying Nebraska. Sorry.
- Texas @ Texas Tech 31-21 I really have no idea how to pick this game. I'm still trying to figure out what the "silent scare" is.
- Arkansas @ Georgia 27-31 Mallet has to prove to me that he can win a good game on the road first.
- Clemson @ Auburn 27-24 Clemson has to win a big game some time right?
I also forgot to include the Arizona - Iowa game in here, but just so everyone knows, Arizona is going to win.
1) What's the best sports movie of all-time? Drama, comedy, action (Yea Sudden Death!), it doesn't matter.
Bob: Rudy...easy for me. I do love me some unnecessary roughness though.
Ash: That's gotta be Happy Gilmore. It combines the best of the genre; you have the unwilling hero with mythical abilities, total douchebag antagonists, a miraculous come-from-behind victory, and it makes fun of golf.
David: I'm having a tough time deciding between Slap Shot and the original Longest Yard. Though for pure capture of a sport on camera, I have to go with Bend It Like Beckham. I know I'm going to catch some flak for this one, but most sports movies don't do a great job of putting the actual play of that sport on screen. I think Bend It did a great job of that. Yes, I know it's a chick flick.
Jon: Caddyshack. It never ever gets old for me. I also love Friday Night Lights. Just a great movie (and tv show). My bad sports movie vice? Mystery, Alaska. I don't know why, but I love that flick.