Friday, March 26, 2010

Any publicity is good publicity.

There has been an unprecedented increase in traffic to this blog because I wrote a half-thought article that involved "hot brahmin mamis" somewhere. Every time you google that up, Inside the Blue is in your face. Now I realize why tamil movies involve these mamis so much. I have learnt a new technique and I will start employing that from today.

Key words: hot, saree, brahmin, mami, aunty, heroine, loves.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My biased perspective

I am a very faithful fan of the Florida Gators.

However I still somehow like all their rivals. I would root for the Seminoles, the Vols, the Bulldogs and the Tigers on every other game. I love their uniforms and their traditions. The one rival I dislike is the Miami Hurricanes. Bad orange uniforms and too much cockiness in the name of swagger (the U? really?). All the other rivals have more swagger than you without mentioning it. I love FSU's uniforms. I love Neyland stadium. It is bigger than anything I have seen. I love game nights at Tiger stadium. I love Georgia for being the quintessential SEC team.

I "hate" most traditional powers. That means you Ohio state, OU, USC, Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama. You are the lot that has exploited the capitalist nature of college football over the years and will continue to do so. I do not think much of your traditions and I will always root against you even if you play each other. I hate your cocky fans. I somehow have still managed to like Texas because they have great uniforms. I like Texas' fight song and the hook'em horns sign. I hate you the most Notre Dame. For someone what has not won a bowl game in twenty years, you have way too much time, money and media focus invested on you just because you did well before the cold war started.

I hate most of the Big Ten because they marginalize a lot of money and still perform badly. You are arrogant because you have eleven members and still call yourself ten because you want to. I hate Ohio state's blinding scarlet uniforms (with grey!). I hate Michigan and its fans and hope they have another bowl-less year. Somehow despite all their acclaimed tradition some logic still does not sit with me. You are called the wolverines but have no mascot. Your slogan is not go Wolverines but go blue and thats not your mascot either! Is it because you cannot make up your mind on which yellow is yours - maize or chrome or whatever else your fans show up in? If I wanted to see all the different yellow hues in the world, I would go to Michigan stadium. Even your official site is! Awesome.

I however do like Wisconsin, Penn state and Michigan State because they are smart recruiters and do a good job with their colors. I love Wisconsin's jump around. I love the Penn state white out. Michigan state a lot less because its a traditional basketball power. I do not like it when a basketball school does well in football too. So I sometimes root against you Blue Devils, Tar Heels, Spartans, Wildcats, Bruins and a lot of the Big East. You have your seats in basketball, let football belong to some others. I like Illinois. I do not know why though. Probably because they had somebody called Juice Williams play for them.

I do not like the monopoly that is coming to the SEC. It is like the SEC is becoming the new big ten. But it still has become the peak performer in recent years and is relatively less polarized than the other big conferences (except for in 2009). I do not like the polarized Pac-10. It should have been renamed to 'USC and its minions'. I love Washington because they have the loudest stadium in football. I love Oregon state because they have the potential to beat anyone. I like the Sun Devils for some reason. I love the Bruins because of their rivalry with USC. If your home ground is the Rose Bowl, you are balling. I like Cal's logo and new uniforms. At some moments, I hate USC more than I hate religious fundamentalism. I hated you for O. J. Simpson, I hated you for your recruiting and I hated you for a thug called Rey Maualuga. Now I hate you even more for Lane Kiffin. I love your fight song though. Oregon. I don't know man. I liked Oregon in 2007 because you were an emergent power and had some nice new uniforms. And then you dropped an axe on your own toes. You have these awful new uniforms. Nobody knows what your colors are anymore. Even the day you actually wear green and yellow, it does not match what your fans show up in. You seem to have become Nike's guinea pig. They even messed with your mascot for a while. I don't know what to make of you. But a rivalry game called the Civil War is good. I root every year for the beavers though because their uniforms are relatively less gay.

I like the ACC despite Miami because of FSU and Virginia Tech. I love the blue-collar attitude of the Hokies. I love the Enter Sandman pump-up entrance. I like the seminole war chant. I would have loved Clemson if it was not for that god awful purple that they throw in with the orange. I have already shared my views on that with Divya.

I like Cincinnati's emerging program. I like Baylor's jerseys. I like Texas Tech trying to hold its own in the big 12 south. I like Iowa doing the same up north. I do not like Arizona and Oklahoma state for some odd reason. Despite the recent bad record and the easy mockery, Gamecock fans are still loyal and make a great atmosphere and for that I love South Carolina.

I like spread offenses but I like traditional-arm quarterbacks like Colt McCoy. I like it if quarterbacks run more than they throw unless it is an zone-read option play. I like big running backs like John Clay. I like catching tight-ends like Jermaine Grisham. I like tall recievers like David Nelson. I like strong linebackers like Eric Norwood. I like unconventional defensive-backs like Joe Haden. I like one-man army linemen like Ndamukong Suh.

I wish every year that a new team win the national championship though I would not mind it at all if the gators won again. This year, my secret wish is for the Boise State Broncos to win it. With 21/22 returning from a brilliant season, no less can be expected. I like all the non-BCS schools whether the perform well or not. I have a special like for Utah, TCU, Fresno State and Buffalo. I love Buffalo's colors. I love the fact that they turned down a bowl game in protest of racist college football rules.

I do not like the high end capitalist nature of college football. I like the NFL for its relatively socialist policies. I do not have a particular team to follow so I generally root for someone that has not won a superbowl before. Of the ones that have, I like the Colts because of their old-school feel.

I like my views.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Some offensive theory

Well, you start with recruiting, and the interim coaches, with help from Urban, seem to have done their best to fill holes because you cannot coach talent. What you have to do however is run an offense and defense to suit them. What I love most about Urban Meyer is that he is smart and knows what he wants. He does not recruit a top-class player who does not fit his system but is just too good a playmaker not to have (google: Russell Sheppard, LSU). Meyer even knows how to recruit a complete nobody and turn him into a complete freak (google: Joe Haden - from passing quarterback to monster cornerback).

Meyer's coaching philosophy has a clear framework. 3-4 defense with tall, agile defensive ends and athletic, powerful defensive backs. Spread offense from the shotgun formation. Excellent special teams.

Charlie Strong's pro-style 3-4 defense changes little after his departure with NFL import Teryl Austin taking on his duties. The young defense will still be loaded with heavy talent and not much should look amiss despite the personnel lost. There is not much doubt about the defensive production from the current roster.

What needs to be more addressed is changes on offense. How do you account for the loss of Tim Tebow and the still missed Percy Harvin?

Contrary to popular belief, Urban Meyer's offense is not about pure spread option. In fact it is not about spread at all. It all starts with watching tape. Meyer's offense is about exploiting the defense's weaknesses and doing that with speed. So if you block the run, the passing game will be used to spread the field out and create running lanes (google: Purdue spread). If the secondary steps closer, the run is established to create space for the recievers (google: Northwestern spread). Throw in some zone-read option for short yardage and red-zone offense and you still have a very rudimentary understanding of Meyer's spread offense.

Meyer's true genius is not because he adapted spread elements to the shotgun formation but because he can run any style of offense from the shotgun. In the 2008 SEC championship game, the gators faced a run-stuffing, physical Bama squad that was ready to defend the speed option that Meyer's team used so often that year. Instead, Meyer used a completely out of character West-coast offense for three quarters (except for he ran it out of the shotgun) and had Tebow throw accurate and short passes to the most eligible reciever within a small-window, very close to the defender and he accomplished all of this without Percy Harvin. During the 2009 Sugar Bowl, he executed a high efficiency air-raid offense, something that most critics claimed that Tebow never fit.

The point is that spread is not the focus of Urban Meyer's offense. It is simply the use of talent to exploit the defense's weakness. He just seems to like using the spread out the shotgun more often. And that is why Meyer's offense is hard to defend. You do not know how to prepare if you don't know what you will be served.

So how does Meyer use this philosophy to account for these offensive changes besides just recruiting the best?

It has always been thought that a dual-threat quarterback like Tebow forms the centrepiece of Meyer's offense. Most spread offenses could use that and certainly Meyer's was no exception. However, he still won a national championship with a pure passer in Chris Leak. What has been most consistent with Meyer's offensive schemes through the years is the feature catching tight-end. Though this has been well under the radar until recently, Cornelius Ingram and Aaron Hernandez have had a lion's share in establishing the potency of their offenses. A catching tight-end creates such size mismatches that even a short pass guarantees an additional seven yards. Meyer exploits this heavily with the spread creating one-on-one match-ups. Very little can be done to defend these size mismatches and look for Meyer to continue using a punishing tight-end in Gerald Christian.

Meyer's teams have never had a feature reciever or running back with great yardage over the season. Even the spectacular Percy Harvin never made more than 900 yards recieving or rushing in any season. This is often blamed on the fact that Tebow carries the ball so much and that, in part, is true. However the real reason is the fact that Meyer does not really look to have such a featured back or reciever. In fact, Meyer tries to spread the ball around to different players so much, everytime the ball is snapped, you have a different offense coming at you. That is why a stable of speedy athletes have been recruited every year.

So how do you run an offense with a more pure passer in Johnny Brantley? Do you become more of a passing offense? Actually you don't. You first move Chris Rainey to the slot position and use his speed and deception for big plays. Use Andre DeBose, Chris Dunkley, Deonte Thompson and Frankie Hammond Jr. with a host of others at the two other reciever positions. Use Emmanuel Moody and Mack Brown t0 establish a power running game and use Jeff Demps to turn corners and for bubble screens. Make Mike Gillislee the feature punt and kick returner. Keep using the catching tight-end on important downs. Do not lose the zone-read option. Use Demps and Rainey out of the T-formation (in the shotgun!) for a zone-read/direct snap option with Johnny Brantley running a blocking route to the slot. And finally use Brantley's feet much like how Texas uses Colt McCoy when the play breaks down, the guy can run. Do this and there will be forty points a game again.

Build an offense around the talents of the players Coach Meyer. As always.

Some thoughts about the coming year

So, one of the greatest college football players - Tim Tebow is gone. With a host of other defensive and offensive playmakers that formed the winningest class in the SEC. The Gators start a new year with a new roster and a tough schedule with LSU, FSU, Bama, Georgia, Tennessee, an improved South Carolina and USF involved. Coach Meyer's health is drawing a lot of critics to dismiss Florida's chances this year. What record would you predict for this team? 9 wins? Maybe less?

It probably does not matter. Obviously no team contends for a national championship annually. Even if a team could be a potential contender (google: Boise State), the fiscal gods have to will your presence at the championship meeting. For all other bowl teams, the week between the regular season and the bowl allotment day seems to be good enough to forget the failure to make the podium and prepare to hate a future opponent. The flawed, yet unchanging BCS system will ensure that at the end of the year, a profitably matching opponent is drawn for the gators. Win the bowl game and one is happy. The fan mindset can change much quicker than most people think. Fans of the Michigan Wolverines - the winningest team in the history of the game - may possibly get a chance to celebrate bowl eigibility and I guarantee you, they will celebrate it like they have never made a bowl game. So what would determine a general satisfaction quotient with any current team?

Answer - respect. You get that with a 6-6 season, you are thrilled. However, since sport allows for show of undiluted, primitive hate and love, getting respect can be tricky business. The 2008 7-6 Vanderbilt team definitely got more respect than a more talented 2009 13-1 Florida team that went through its regular season unbeaten. Wins in big games can earn some love but what fans like most is drama, charisma and good, old-fashioned razzle-dazzle to keep them happy. That is probably why, despite just a single loss to the eventual national champion, the Gators look so ordinary all season.

So does Urban Meyer need to win a national championship again this year to bring it all back? Actually no, that would increase the hate for the Gators. What Urban would have to do is win against the biggies - Alabama and LSU and let slip a couple of losses to a good team like Georgia or South Carolina. And win the bowl game. Somehow, that does wonders for the off-season and builds up for an exciting and media-loved following year. Losing to a good team is easy but how do you beat the defending champions on their home-field? How do you account for the loss of so many stars and the one and only Tim Tebow? Next post.