Points Over Pints: No Heisman For Clowney
By Joe Jenkins
Welcome to “Points Over Pints,” my weekly college football edition of a Monday morning quarterback column. (It’s a working title. Feel free to contact me with better suggestions.)
It’s going to be a little different than most reaction/analysis columns you’ll find on the web. Every week, I’m going to select a beer to go along with my key takeaways from the weekend that was in college football. I hope you enjoy.
This Week’s Beer
Miller High Life. We’re going to cheat a little bit coming out of the blocks this week, because nobody in their right minds drinks High Life in pints. Everybody knows the subversive charm of drinking The Champagne of Beers comes from the old-timey, clear glass bottle.
Why High Life? Because here in the Northeast, Labor Day is the unofficial last gasp of summer and MHL is one of my favorite summer beers. There’s nothing fancy about it, it fits with a journalist’s budget and it always manages to go down easy on a hot day — which is what is supposed to happen in the so-called “guarantee games” that take place early in the season. Lesser-known schools are supposed to give the traditional powers an easy win, take their big paycheck, and move along.
It didn’t always happen that way this week did it?
On to some football.
The First Sips
Not because he isn’t the most dominant player in the country — he just might be.
The problem is that Clowney’s greatest impact on games will be by drawing holding calls, causing false starts, drawing double teams that will open up lanes for other pass rushers, and generally forcing opposing quarterbacks out of their comfort zone.
These aren’t indelible images that will stick out in the minds of Heisman voters. They’re all steak, little sizzle.
While Clowney’s hit on Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl was legendary, it still was only one play.
Clowney may rack up 20 sacks and more than likely will be the top pick in the NFL draft next year, but unless he can find a way to string together a series of awe-inspiring moments, not just an amazing play, he’ll never get enough votes to finish higher than second or third.
Come to think of it, the Gamecocks receivers looked a little undersized in that UNC game. How are Clowney’s hands? A play package with him at tight end might be exactly what he needs.
It’s never a safe bet to take a sample size of just four quarters and pass along final judgment on any team, but a few ranked teams vastly underperformed against seemingly inferior talent in week one.
1. No.2 Ohio State may have beaten Buffalo by 20, but don’t let that score fool you. The Bulls were able to sustain drives against the Buckeyes defense and exposed a young group of defensive backs when throwing outside the hash marks. To be clear, OSU never was in any real danger of losing the game, but Buffalo was an ill-timed personal foul and a bone head coaching decision (more on that later) away from potentially drawing within a field goal and making the game a real dog fight in the fourth quarter.
2. A 20-point win certainly is nice, but I expected the second-ranked team in the nation to walk all over a lower-tier MAC squad. No. 18 Nebraska got all it could handle from Wyoming on Saturday night and you can thank Brett Smith. Ken Pomponio and I have been saying Smith might be the best quarterback nobody is talking about since Memorial Day. I have a feeling his 383 passing yards, four touchdowns and 92 rushing yards will spark a conversation or two. Bo Pelini needs a lot more out of his Blackshirts if he hopes to contend in the Big 10 this year.
3. The winner of the underwhelming performance of the week, however, has to go to No. 25 Oregon State, who became just the third-ranked team to fall to an FCS squad. The legendary football powerhouse that is Eastern Washington showed no fear playing in Corvallis, scoring the first and last points of the game. The Beavers didn’t lose because of poor offensive execution, though. The offense had no turnovers, junior quarterback Sean Mannion completed 86 percent of his passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns, and they won time of possession by nearly three minutes.
Oregon State lost because of abhorrent defensive play. There’s no excuse for a Pac-12 team to surrender more than 600 yards of offense to an FCS school. Just imagine the kind of numbers Oregon will be able to post against this defense when they play in November.
The Final Gulp
With the bottom end of our High Life fast approaching, I’d like to have us all raise our glass and toast the questionable coaching decision of Buffalo’s Jeff Quinn.
An honorable mention should go to him for calling a timeout early in the first quarter before apparently attempting to go for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield — a somewhat questionable decision, but it's not impossible to defend his thought process.
Directing the team to execute the famous, ineffective “delay of game” play after the timeout made it all seem foolish. There’s no sense in wasting the timeout if you plan on taking the penalty for extra kicking room.
Quinn’s toast-worthy gaffe came on a fourth-down play much later in the game, however. With the Bulls threatening to pull within 10 points at the Ohio State 2-yard line and plenty of time left in the fourth quarter, Quinn elected to try for seven points instead of attempting a safer field goal.
Against a superior opponent on the road, Quinn’s gut was right in taking the gamble. He screwed up by calling a play that put quarterback Joe Licata under center for a direct snap. Licata had operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun all game and he promptly mishandled the exchange and fell on the ball for no gain.
In a big moment that could have had major implications on the outcome of the game, Quinn decided to take his team out of its comfort zone — a comfort zone that had marched them all the way down the field — and the result was just short of the worst-case scenario.
So cheers to you, Jeff Quinn, and rest assured that while you’re the first to get the last-sip toast, you won’t be the last.
Hey Bartender, Jobu Needs A Refill
There’s no need to be sad. Opening week isn’t quite over.