On September 1, 2007, I was en route to Memphis with my wife to celebrate our first anniversary with a weekend away. Michigan's football season started that day, but, as they were ranked #5 in the country and were playing D-1AA Appalachian State, I wasn't too concerned with the game. Around 2 p.m., however, my phone started blowing up with text messages. Perhaps the one from Tim said it best: "App State? I fear for Lloyd Carr's life."
As you know, App State shocked the world, beating Michigan 34-32. If there was a silver lining to this, however, it was that the loss made it crystal clear that Lloyd Carr would not be back in 2008. And, for that, I was thrilled.
Though I desperately wanted Michigan to hire Les Miles, I was on board with the Rich Rodriguez hiring. I even defended his terrible 2008 campaign, arguing that it made more sense to blow up one season and install the entire system rather than piecemeal the system over a few years. When 2009 began with four consecutive wins and a climb to #22 in the polls, I assumed that all was right with the world and that RichRod would be my anti-Carr and my savior. (Yes, I take Michigan football a little too personally. I am aware of this.) The Michigan State loss in Week 5 could be chalked up to a freshman QB playing in the rain. I still had faith.
Then came the Iowa game.
To this day, I refuse to believe the revisionist lie that Tate Forcier suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter. Watching the game live, it was clear that Rodriguez pulled Forcier because he didn't like what Tate was doing leading the offense in the second half. The two even had brief argument on the sideline as the change was made to Denard Robinson. Denard led Michigan on a scoring drive via his legs, but Iowa adjusted and dared Robinson to pass on the next possession. Rather than put Forcier, who had been very good through his first five games and had already led two game-winning drives, back into the game, Rodriguez let his ego control things, leaving Robinson in the game. Interception. Ball game.
That night, I realized that, no matter how good the team might look, Rodriguez's ego was going to cost them one or two games every year. There was no way around it. I'd defended Rich through the terrible 2008 season, but the Iowa game was the end of my RichRodian Apologist phase.
Most of the remainder of the Rodriguez tenure is a blur, which is what happens when your team fields one of the very worst defenses in college football and needs triple overtime just to beat Illinois. Fast-forward to the end of the 2010 season. Michigan had been selected to play in the Gator Bowl, where they promptly got stomped to death by Mississippi State in a sort of requiem for the dream that Rich Rodriguez was going to take Michigan to BCS glory. Soon after that game, he was gone. Again I wanted Les Miles. Instead, I got Brady Hoke.
But something strange happened after Hoke was hired. He came in saying and doing all the right things. He was a Michigan Man, and he was going to fix what was broken. He brought in Greg Mattison, defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, to repair the abysmal defense. Hoke was also smart enough to not fix what was not broken; originally, offensive coordinator Al Borges wanted to turn Denard Robinson into a pro-style pocket passer. While Denard's passing definitely improved, Hoke quickly realized that it made no sense to limit his playmaker, and the offense was changed to include more spread and zone-read packages.
The turnaround was remarkable. A defense that had given up 33.8 points and 447.9 yards per game in 2010 gave up only 17.2 and 317.6 in 2011. They beat Ohio State for the first time in roughly 389 years, and Michigan finished with a 10-2 record (and were a blown PI call against Iowa away from having a shot at 11-1). The final BCS rankings had them at #13, and the Wolverines were selected as an at-large team to play in the Sugar Bowl.
As remarkable and wonderful as Michigan's turnaround was this year, even I have to admit that it pales in comparison to what Wade Phillips, Vance Joseph and the rest have done with your Houston Texans' defense in one year. Michigan was bad in 2010, but the Texans were near-historically bad. Yet despite injuries to Mario Williams, Danieal Manning, and others, the Texans' 2011 defense is fantastic. They are an absolute joy to watch, and that's not something I ever thought I'd say about a Texans D.
Because of the Texans' turnaround, Houston is primed to make its first playoff appearance ever. How huge is that? So huge that, despite my love for New Orleans and my happiness at Michigan's making a BCS game, I'm not going to NOLA for the Sugar Bowl and, instead, am planning a trip to Houston for that first playoff game. It doesn't even matter if I have a ticket; I have to be in the Space City for that game. Win or lose, it's going to be awesome, and I think we'll win, largely because of our defense.
On to the Hangover . . .
Days between Arian Foster's 111-yard performance and the previous time that the Falcons' defense allowed a 100-yard rusher (December 12, 2010, when Jonathan Stewart rushed for 133), a span of 14 regular-season games.
Rushing yards needed by Arian Foster to pass Domanick Williams (nee Davis) for first all-time in Texans history. At his current pace of 98.1 yards per game since coming back from the early season injury (i.e., not counting his performance in the Miami game), he would come up about 15 yards short. Of course, only one of the remaining opponents ranks in the top 10 in run defense (Cincinnati), and the other three are pretty bad (Tennessee -- 21st, Carolina -- 27th, and Indy -- 30th).
Make Like A Tree And Get Outta Here!
Between the "Terminator" observations that I made in last season's Two-Day Hangover and random references to "Back To The Future" in mailbags and elsewhere, I think it's safe to say that I've spent more time thinking about the plot holes in popular time-travel movies than pretty much anyone who has a job, kids, and other real-life responsibilities.
Generally, this has served me well (when it's served me at all). Just two weeks ago, I wound up in a hipster bar, where some Rivers Cuomo looking dongsack asked my brother, ironically, "Have you ever seen 'Back To The Future'?" I, not being a fan of pointless irony, jumped at the chance to ramble semi-coherently about the trilogy. I spent a good thirty minutes discussing the fact that the Libyans would have just slaughtered Marty and Doc shortly after Marty returned, how the McFlys hired the one person who tried to rape Lorraine in high school, how Marvin Berry didn't call Chuck until the song had already started and therefore could not have exactly relayed the initial lyrics, and how Lorraine had a kid who looked EXACTLY like their short-lived high school friend. The hipster and his friends left --- ironically, I'm sure --- shortly thereafter.
Anyway, I mention that to say that, just today, I had a thought about "Back To The Future 2" that I'd never noticed before. Specifically, the entire plot makes no sense. Doc Brown comes back at the end of BTTF1 and tells Marty and Jennifer that they need to go to the future to fix a problem with their kids, right? Except, even if they did that, when they returned to 1985, nothing would have been fixed; the would still have to re-solve that same problem with Marty Jr. in the future.
Look at it this way: if I had a time machine and, two days after a lottery drawing, I told you that you needed to buy five specific numbers two days earlier, you'd have no way to do that. Changing the future does not change the past. At best, Marty and Jennifer would now know what they needed to do (again) years down the road. At worst, the fact that Marty Jr. was such a screw-up would lead to Marty Sr. and Jennifer's not even having kids.
Thing is, Doc Brown knew this. The only reason he was able to survive the attack by the Libyans was because Marty warned him in 1955, to which Brown first replied, "Marty, we've already agreed that having information about the future can have disastrous consequences. Even if your intentions are good, it can backfire drastically!" All Doc Brown needed to travel to just before Marty Jr. turned into an unlikable human enema and tell Marty Sr. and Jennifer what they needed to do. Going to 1985 to bring Marty Sr. and Jennifer back to 2015 was not only pointless, but it was also likely to alter the entire course of history with "disastrous consequences." Yet Doc does this, then spends roughly 80% of his dialog in 2015 warning Marty Sr. about the dangers of being there.
Consecutive games in which Arian Foster has scored a rushing touchdown, tying Domanick Williams (Weeks 11 through 16, 2004) for the longest such streak in team history. During his six game streak, Foster has 7 rushing TDs, 2 receiving TDs, 611 rushing yards, and 324 receiving yards.
Players from the University of North Carolina who have started a game at quarterback in the NFL.
Players from the University of North Carolina who have never lost a game as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
T.J. Yates' rank among Texans QBs in total passing yards. With 624 yards over his last four games --- 156 per game --- he would tie Tony Banks for fourth in team history. The Texans' remaining opponents have allowed 231.8 passing yards per game.
Number of times that T.J. Yates actually fumbled on Sunday. Let's go to the videotape!
Yates released the ball just outside the left hashmark and just shy of the 21-yard line.
The ball hit the turf between the 13- and 12-yard lines. Now we can draw some lines and plug in some numbers. (Note: because of the camera angle, the distances from the top to the bottom of the picture appear shorter than they are.)
The ball was throw from just outside the 21 and hit just inside the 13, so we'll round up and call it 9 yards of distance downfield. We know that the hashmarks are just under 24 yards from the sideline (849 inches, to be exact), and we can see that Yates' throw looks to have gone well beyond halfway to the sideline. Still, for the sake of making the math easy, we'll call it 12 yards laterally.
Because we have a right triangle, old man Pythagoras tells us that we can square the two known distances to find the square of the unknown in this case. (9*9) + (12*12) = 225. The square root of 225 is, of course, 15. So the ball traveled (roughly) 15 yards between when it left Yates' hand and when it struck the terrible Reliant turf. Watching the video, we see that the flight was right around 1 second in duration.
45 feet in 1 second equals 2,700 feet in a minute, which equals 30.68 miles per hour. Cool! Let's extrapolate a bit:
Chris Johnson's 4.24 40-yard dash works out to 28.29 feet per second. If he were running flat out at that speed, holding the ball, and he was hit so hard that he stopped and the ball dislodged with minimal friction slowing it, the ball still would not be going as fast as Yates' throw was. If Usain Bolt was running at his world-record 100-meter pace of 9.85 seconds (33.3 feet per second) and got hit so that all only the ball continued at that pace, the ball still would not be going as fast as Yates' throw.
Now, add in that Yates was actually moving slightly backward (the line of scrimmage was just outside the 15, and Yates ran up almost to the 20 before sliding sideways and slightly backward and delivering the throw), and the DT who hit Yates' arm, Vance Walker, was headed even more away from the ball's ultimate direction, angling from the 17 to the 21 to hit Yates. Meaning that there was, generally speaking, ZERO forward momentum behind the ball at the moment that Walker's hand met Yates' arm. Yet the ball went FORTY-FIVE feet in the air.
It it literally impossible for the ball to have do that without Yates' imparting all of the forward motion. Considering the ball was in his hand, that foward motion HAD to involve forward movement by his hand. Of all the amazingly stupid calls in this game --- and there were plenty --- this one was easily the worst.
Of course, the crew on Sunday was headed by Bill Leavy, who you might recall from such officiating debacles as Super Bowl XL and the Colts @ Ravens divisional game in 2006. Completely butchering the calling (and non-calling) of penalties is nothing new for that crew.
Length, in yards, of Andre Johnson's longest catch of the season, which was thrown to him by T.J. Yates on Sunday.
Welcome Back To Houston, Dunta.
September 30, 2007.
The last time the Texans played the Atlanta Falcons. That day, Matt Schaub returned to face his former team, Mike Vick watched from prison, and Joey Harrington helmed the Dirty Birds. That was also the game in which I saw the worst single play for a defensive player that I've ever witnessed.
On first-and-ten from the Atlanta 43, with Houston leading 7-3, Petey Faggins was lined up on Roddy White. On the snap, White gave a quick move, causing Faggins to almost fall down. In response, Faggins grabbed White's jersey, drawing a defensive holding flag. Roddy escaped as Faggins caught his balance and continued up the right sideline. While the ball was in the air, Faggins --- steal beaten on the play --- mugged White, drawing a pass interference flag. Yet White STILL caught the ball, and Petey was beaten so badly that Von Hutchins was credited with "coverage" on the play in the official play-by-play.
To this day, no single play by a defensive player has come close to this tricrapta of fail.
0. Minutes in which the Houston Texans trailed the Atlanta Falcons, continuing Houston's rather bizarre trend of having not trailed for even a second in any of their wins in 2011. Speaking of which . . .
Edit: Never mind on that one.
Points allowed by the Houston defense against Atlanta, the lowest single-game total for Atlanta since Week 1 of 2010 (9 points in an OT loss to Pittsburgh).
Points scored against Houston by opposing teams in Houston's nine wins this season.
Consecutive games in which the Texans' defense has snagged at least one interception. Dating back to last season, the defense has picked off a pass in 13 of the past 14 games, with the season opener against the Colts being the lone exception.
Gary Kubiak's overall winning percentage as head coach of the Houston Texans (46-46).
Number of wins for the Houston Texans (so far) in 2011, guaranteeing a winning season for the second time ever and, with the Colts still on the horizon, making it very, very likely that this team will set a new franchise record for wins this season.
Consecutive wins by the Houston Texans, tying the longest streak in team history (Week 14 of 2009 through Week 2 of 2010). It's already the longest single-season streak in team history, of course.
This Is How Close We Came To Having The Streak End At 5 Wins.
Possible scenarios remaining under which the Titans could finish with the same record as the Texans and win the AFC South via tiebreakers. And, as TDC noted, a Texans win over the Bengals and a Saints win over the BESFs would clinch the division for the Texans. The Houston Texans. In Week 14.
I'm Not Saying The System Is Inherently Corrupt, But . . .
Per this very good article about why Oklahoma State should have been in the title game against LSU:
One side note – if you’re wondering why nearly every voice at ESPN is united in proposing the single argument that there IS no argument on who should be playing LSU … If you’re wondering how a network that usually encourages us to debate every possible nuance of CFB has now for two weeks been unified in selling us a single message, I remind you of this little ditty:
The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network recently paid $2.25 billion, that’s with a B, for broadcasting rights to the SEC for 15 years … AND ESPN now owns the broadcasting rights for our sports’ BCS Championship game as well.
Yes, ESPN has its fingers in nearly every conference, but nothing to the scale it has invested with the SEC.
Also From That Article.
Up until Saturday Houston had zero losses and no one was talking about them as a viable challenger. Why? Because they had no viable wins. So, who are mighty Alabama’s big wins? A Penn State squad currently ranked fifth in its own conference with the 110th scoring offense, or an Arkansas team whose best win itself is either Texas A&M (the seventh place team in OSU's Big 12) or an Auburn squad that’s surrendered 208 points in its five losses. That’s it, Grandma. So, where is Bama’s great win? Just point me to one.
Meanwhile, OSU has beaten seven teams with winning records to Bama’s three. OSU has beaten five ranked teams to Bama’s two. It’s not even close, folks; in a world where we only play a dozen or so games, that spread is massive.
OSU just absolutely annihilated the #10 Oklahoma Sooners 44-10, and it could have been much worse – to his credit, OSU head coach Mike Gundy pulled off the gas in the fourth quarter; all 44 points came in the first three. Raise your hand if you can remember the last time an Oklahoma team lost that decisively, and I’ll tell you you’re a Trojan fan. The Sooners lose games like that three or four times a decade.
I'm (Still) Not Saying The System Is Inherently Corrupt, But . . .
Keeping in mind that 1/3 of the BCS ranking comes from the Coaches' Poll (a ridiculous farce of a poll about which I've already made my feelings known), and then take a gander at this breakdown of how each coach voted in the final USA Today Coaches' Poll. It seems that Nick Saban (Alabama), Gary Pinkel (Missouri), David Cutcliffe (Duke), Doug Marrone (Syracuse), and David Shaw (Stanford) all put Oklahoma State at #4, despite OSU going back-of-a-Volkswagen on OU on Saturday. In Saban's case, this makes sense --- he wanted his team to stay #2 --- and no one would expect him to vote any different. But Pinkel? Just because Mizzou is leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, was Gary trying to flip his old conference the bird on the way out the door? And Shaw? Did he really think, after watching OSU defenestrate OU, that Stanford deserved to be ranked ahead of the Cowboys (an opinion shared by all of the coaches in this list, by the way)?
Then you've got the added absurdity of former Texans coordinator Troy Calhoun (Air Force) putting Stanford #3 . . . and Oklahoma State #5, behind Arkansas! Arkansas, who lost to the only two quality opponents they played this year and who needed all sorts of luck to get past Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.
Or how about 14 coaches putting Michigan at 15th or lower (i.e., too low to get an at-large bid)? In every case, those coaches also ranked either TCU, Virginia Tech, or Clemson appreciably higher than other coaches did. (On the flip side, my man Les Miles voted Michigan #8. Love him.)
Point being, the fact that the poll is so subject to personal biases, vendettas, and self-serving makes having it also comprise 1/3 of the BCS rankings patently absurd.
And I'm Not The Only One With Thoughts About The BCS.
[MDC's note: My buddy Paul is a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan. Because Michigan beat Nebraska this year, Paul is no longer allowed to claim half of the 1998 National Championship in college football discussions per terms of a bet that we made when Nebraska announced they were going to the B1G. All the same, he's still the most knowledgeable CFB fan that I know, so I asked him to offer some thoughts on the LSU-'Bama rematch. What follows is his reply.]
My first reaction to the selection of Alabama and LSU was, "I'm sure glad the BCS didn't exist in 1993." Random? Not entirely. As a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan, 1993 was a pivotal season. With a series of close wins --- and a few impressive ones --- Nebraska moved through the season undefeated, but it earned little respect. After all, Dr. Tom had lost several bowl games in a row, including "humiliating" losses in the Orange Bowl to noticeably faster teams from Miami and Florida State. The triple option was "outdated," and the Big 8 was less than premier at the time.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame and Florida State, which featured eventual Heisman winner Charlie Ward, were the media darlings. Notre Dame had the same large fanbase, and Bobby Bowden's Seminoles had been riding a nearly unprecedented string of top 5 finishes. His "fastbreak offense" with freshman Warrick Dunn, Tamarick Vanover, and other NFL players was exciting for an era still quite familiar with the Basic I formation (not to mention recent memories of wishbone dominance). NBC, which was to host the Orange Bowl, had a bonanza with this #1 versus #2 matchup.
Obviously someone had to lose (well, actually, they could have tied). The home team turned away the Seminoles, and the teams swapped places in the polls. Nebraska and unbeaten West Virginia were destined to sit on the outside. The game wasn't nearly as fantastic as the pundits would have made it, but that's what happens when teams who are (theoretically) head and shoulders above the rest play. Here is the problem: Notre Dame screwed up the script and lost to Boston College. Now the pollsters had to figure out what to do with the unbeaten teams --- should Nebraska play Florida State, should Nebraska play West Virginia, or should the voters vote their conscience and put the two best teams at the top, presumably filling NBC's coffers with a rematch?
You might know what happened --- Nebraska was selected over West Virginia and Notre Dame. Notre Dame beat the #1 team in the country, but had an inexcusable loss. West Virginia was relegated to playing the Florida Gators, hoping for a close loss by Nebraska. Notre Dame, the team that had beaten Florida State, needed Florida State to win a close game and to beat its opponent, Texas A&M, handily.
The voters and the media had made up their mind. Nebraska was a fraud, a 17 1/2 point underdog, and the money was on the 'Noles. Then something happened: the teams actually played. Notre Dame, a supposedly special team, struggled mightily with the Aggies as the Orange Bowl progressed. Moreover, Florida State had its hands full. A team that had lead the nation in scoring and scoring defense came away with a mere two field goals in the first half and trailed 7-6. Even after taking a 15-7 lead, the Cornhuskers came back and took a 16-15 lead with less than a minute left. That night, a 4th down conversion and a subsequent personal foul for a late hit saved Florida State, who earned an 18-16 escape.
What became of those 'Huskers? They didn't lose another game until early in the 1996 season. The Florida State loss was the only game that prevented the one and only 39-0, three-peat national championship run. And it could have been stopped by voters. This is where we are today. Oklahoma State, in the estimation of the voters, is inferior to Alabama. ESPN owns the rights to the SEC broadcasts. ESPN owns the rights to the BCS broadcasts. And they want LSU-Bama as much as NBC wanted a Notre Dame-FSU rematch. Maybe Alabama is the second-best team, but Oklahoma State has been deprived of its chance to prove these pundits, as they quite often are, wrong. This system has nipped the development of a program in the bud.
I think back to 1993, and I remember an instance where, grudgingly, Nebraska was given a chance to prove itself. I'll forever side with the team that, all things basically equal, hasn't had its chance and hasn't blown it, national perception be damned; this year is no exception. In a sort of gifts from writers, it says here that giving the SEC another title is more egregious than giving Oklahoma State a chance to prove everyone wrong.
Why Not T.J. Yates?
Ben Tate Tweets What We Were All Thinking.
With all the tebow talk how bout this--gimme tj yates over tebow all day!! good team win for us today!
Glover Quin Tweets What We Were All Thinking (pt. 2).
I’ve never heard Reliant rocking like ... That’s means y’all #believed when everyone else doubted ... Great team effort today including the fans.
Random '90s Rap Video.
Number of times prior to 2011 that the Texans have held opponents to fewer than 50 combined points over a four-game stretch. They've come close (i.e., fewer than 60 combined points allowed) four times:
- 50 points allowed (2-2 record over that span) from Weeks 14 through 17, 2004.
- 52 points allowed (2-2) from Weeks 12 through 15, 2002.
- 56 points allowed (4-0) from Weeks 12 through 15, 2008.
- 59 points allowed (2-2) from Weeks 7 though 10, 2006.
Number of times this season that the Texans have held opponents to fewer to than 50 combined points over a four-game stretch.
- 42 points allowed (4-0) from Weeks 7 through 10.
- 48 points allowed (4-0) from Weeks 8 through 12 (bye on Week 11).
- 44 points allowed (4-0) from Weeks 9 through 13 (bye on Week 11).
Wins by the Cincinnati Bengals over teams with a winning record in 2011 (24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 9). Overall, they are 1-5 in such games, losing to Denver (Denver's only pre-Tebow win this year), San Francisco, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh (x2).
Combined winning percentage of teams that Cincinnati has defeated in 2011: Cleveland (4-8), Buffalo (5-7), Jacksonville (3-8), Indianapolis (0-12), Seattle (5-7), Tennessee (7-5), and Cleveland (again).
Why I Hate The Cincinnati Bengals.
On January 13, 1991, I was a 12-year-old future degenerate watching the NFL playoffs in my bedroom on a 14-inch television. I was also the world's biggest Bo Jackson fan. I have never, and likely will never, love another athlete the way that I loved Vincent Edward Jackson. Bo was so important to me as a young sports fan that I rooted for the Raiders as my NFL team (which is yet another reason that I continue to hate the Chiefs to this day).
This game against the Fightin' Boomer Esiasons would be Bo's first and only playoff game. He had 77 yards on 6 carries, before a tackle by Kevin Walker would force him to leave the game with an injury. I still remember, after the game was over, a reporter asked Bo how serious the injury was, and Bo said that he thought he'd be back next week in the game against the Bills. Instead, he would never play football again. The official diagnosis was avascular necrosis --- the blood supply to the femoral head was cut off, causing part of the bone to die and necessitating a hip replacement --- but what happened, in layman's terms was this: Walker made a last-ditch effort to tackle Jackson, diving at his right leg and bringing Jackson down. In the process, Bo's right hip slightly dislocated. Bo, being the mutant that he was, basically popped it back into socket on his own, which crushed one of the important blood vessels.
Sure, I realize that this is not Kevin Walker's fault; I bear him no ill will, despite the fact that he ended the career of the greatest video game athlete ever born.
That said, I cannot see the Bengals without Bo Jackson being my first thought, and that makes me hate the Bengals. Like, a lot.
392 - 4 - 1.
Matt Schaub's passing yards, TDs, and interceptions throw the last time the Houston Texans faced the Cincinnati Bengals.
The only current member of your Houston Texans to have a sack the last time the Texans played the Bengals.
Sacks needed by Connor Barwin to tie the single-season franchise record (14) set by Mario Williams in 2007.
Sacks needed by the Houston Texans over the final four games to surpass the franchise single-season record (37) set in 2005.
Unncessary Archer Quote.
Didja, wanna shut your negative . . . bad word . . .sy mouth!?
Years of age turned by Patrick (a/k/a Uprooted Texan) on Sunday. This is the cake that his lovely wife bought for him:
That woman is a keeper.
Your Houston Texans' seed if the playoffs started today. Baltimore would be eliminated on conference record and New England would beat Houston on the fifth tiebreaker, strength of victory, as the teams that the Patriots have defeated have a collective 46 wins, while the Texans' defeated opponents have 41.
TXT MSGS Of The Week.
I am this close to writing fan fiction about Kareem Jackson's death.
Diehard Chris, moments after Andre Johnson went down:
The best Texans season ever is the worst Texans season ever. F&^K.
You're fortunate that Mike Smith's sense of time makes Andy Reid look like a young Einstein.
My son shit all over himself yesterday. His poop then rubbed off on me when I picked him up. My son is Matt Ryan and I am Mike Smith.