Friday, December 17, 2010

More Overdue Delany/Big 10 Hate- Legends and Leaders Addition

Alright, so I realize that the news of the Big 10/11/12 division names is pretty old news by now, and I've been meaning to spit this out for a while, but I figured I'd let the hate brew inside of me for a few days before letting loose on this one. Jim Delany, who has recently become my new favorite whipping boy (yes, more so than Craig James, E. Gordon Gee, and of course, Rod "Abercrombie Conductor Hat" Gilmore), continues to think that the Big 10 is somehow superior to everyone else and that the words "East and West" or "North and South" were not good enough for The Greatest Conference in the World, so he went with Legends and Leaders. Legends and Leaders? Seriously??? That's not even clever. That's just incredibly generic. Pretty weak there, Jimbo. Another thing- I find it incredibly pompous to refer to schools and their players as Legends and Leaders? I'll break it down by division to prove why these divisions DO NOT deserve the names Legends and Leaders.

Legends (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern)

Legend.

The only thing legendary to come from the "Legends" division is this Michigan guy's facebook quiz. And I guess maybe Tom Osborne and Bo Schembechler. But, much like the Big 10, those guys' days have passed (I realize Osborne is the A.D., but he looks like a ghost at this point in his life, and his greatest days are numbered). Can you think of anything that says "legend" from the other schools in that division? I guess Magic Johnson was a legend at Michigan State, in fact, I'm HIV Positive Magic Johnson is a legend now. Another "legend"- Michigan's own Chris Webber...legendary cheater and choker. I was 7 when C Webb walked, then called timeout in the Final 4, and I remember noticing not only that he traveled, but also knowing that you can't call timeout if you don't have any left. Moral of the story- C Webb is dumber than a 7 year old, and there is nothing legendary about the Big 10 Legends.

Leaders (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin)

Leader.

Yeah, Woody Hayes was a great coach, but one of the biggest assholes to ever walk this earth. I bet people applauded his death. The guy tried to choke out an opponent on the sideline, subsequently leading to his firing. Oh, and pretty much everything I just said above applies (or will apply) to Bob Knight as well. Going Latrell Sprewell on people does not qualify you as a leader in my book. It makes you a rageaholic dick head. I'll give them Joe Paterno- he's a good dude- a good dude that has to run off the field before he wets or shits himself about once a half.

Leader.

Purdue- useless, Illinois- meh (they hired Shultz, a true leader, right Bucknasty?), Wisconsin- unless you count Barry Alvarez, no leaders there either. How about players? Maurice Clarett led a team to a national championship as a freshman, then led authorities on a chase that resulted in him spending a few years in the slammer. A true leader there. Indiana is filled with great college basketball players, but not much else. Larry Bird wouldn't even go to Indiana because Knight was such a dick. I don't know anyone of note from Illinois, or Purdue (except for Gene Keady and his flawless combover), and Penn State might lead the nation in NFL busts. So there's something that they are "leaders" in. Oh yeah, and Kirk Herbstreit went to Ohio State, and I hate that closet case too.

This makes Tony Kornheiser look like Fabio.

So there is my breakdown of Jim Delany's brainchild "Legends and Leaders" divisions. I'm pretty sure Big 10 people hate it too. Delany is about as popular as Kip Drordy from South Park right now, and not to mention he looks IDENTICAL to Dr. Doback in "Step Brothers". I hate you Jim Delany, but I love that everything you do makes the Big 10 look dumber and dumber. Keep supporting the BCS and thinking it works, and keep coming up with clever names for divisions that will get their shit packed in BCS games each year. I really do appreciate that.

Pop Quiz- Doback or Delany?

Rose Bowl Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends.

Why is Jeremy Kerley holding a pumpkin?
Because why the fuck not, that's why.

As your pre-weekend treat, we'll shut things down with a look at the wide receivers for both teams. And while you'd clearly think, "With all the talk about their ground game, there's no way Wisconsin has anything going through the air!"... well, you'd only be about half right. Here's a peek.

For brevity, I'm including the top 5 receivers by yardage for each team... except I'm breaking that rule for the Frogs because Skye Dawson missed the cut by 1 yard. That betrayal of form is probably a bad precursor to the "analysis" that follows.

NAMERECYDSAVGLONGTD
Lance Kendricks3962716.1345
Nick Toon3341312.5303
David Gilreath2134716.5451
Jared Abbrederis1927314.474 (TD)3
Isaac Anderson232239.7300

NAMERECYDSAVGLONGTD
Josh Boyce3360218.293 (TD)6
Jeremy Kerley5051710.350 (TD)10
Jimmy Young2742915.945 (TD)4
Bart Johnson3039613.2373
Antoine Hicks1217114.3412
Skye Dawson1217014.2520

Underinformed Analysis:

So yeah, about as expected there. For starters, neither team is going to kill you through the air. This we know because the ground games for both teams don't make it necessary. TCU is ranked 53rd overall in the country, averaging 230 yards per game through the air; Wisconsin is 79th with 202. But, if you look closer, you'll notice that, despite having similar numbers, these two passing attacks aren't similar at all. Case in point: Wisconsin's leading receiver, Lance Kendricks, is a Tight End. TCU doesn't feature a tight end on the list. I think we've all had a bit of frustration over the years at our coordinator's averse nature towards looking at the tight end to keep the defenses honest in protection, but then again, who am I to complain about the results?

What this should tell you about the Wisconsin passing game is that it is very opportunistic - when the defense cheats up towards the line because of the run game, they dump it out to a tight end for a quick first. I mean, look at the numbers - we have 3 guys who have caught a TD pass over 45 yards, they have one. You're going to see very few 3 receiver sets from the Badgers; with TCU, you see them several times each series. This doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, though. For instance, #1 Receiver Nick Toon may only have 413 yards this year, but he had more than double that last year. He's definitely a victim of success of the ground game, but we shouldn't be foolish enough to fall asleep on any of these guys just because we have so much respect for their rushing attack. On the bright side, the Badgers do not appear to have anyone like Vincent Brown of San Diego State because, holy crap that would not be good for my blood pressure right now.

But of course, TCU has home run threats all over the field, starting with Jeremy Kerley and Josh Boyce. Clearly Kerley's health is going to play a major role in our success in this game - the coaches say he'll be ready, but that January 1 kick is creeping up terrifyingly fast. I think he'll be fine - I didn't realize he actually played a few snaps in the New Mexico game - but without Jeremy Kerley functioning at 100%, some other guys are going to have to step up, big time. Fortunately Josh Boyce might very well be the best receiver on our team. His speed is going to stick out to you, but I love his agility as well - rewatch his long TD against Utah and note the way he broke that tackle. Pretty solid stuff from a second year guy.

Jimmy Young and Bart Johnson are as reliable as always and we know we can count on them to help us keep possession in third down situations and I think we really take them for granted. Bart Johnson, especially, is one of the more under appreciated receivers in the country considering how big of an impact he's had on our success over his career. We will miss both of those guys severely when they're gone, but the recent commitment of LaDarius Brown certainly helps ease that pain. Seriously, if you haven't checked some of his highlights, it's worth the price of admission to Purple Menace. They will make your nips tingly.

Antoine Hicks is clearly the wild card here, though. We're all extremely confused on what's happened to his production this year - the drops have hurt his looks, as has the emergence of Boyce - but if there's any time to bust out of a slump, it's the Rose Bowl. Hopefully Wisconsin will take the UNM method and just flat refuse to cover him.

Although I'll go into more detail on it later, the biggest edge we have in this category is actually not any one receiver, but our "top ranked by more than 20 YPG" passing defense despite playing in the pass happy Mountain West. Giving up 126 yards per game is just silly, no matter how you try and spin it. The Badgers will have not seen anything like it.

So how do you pick this one? Realistically, the numbers are fairly close, although I'd go out on a limb and say our top 3 receivers by yardage are more dangerous than theirs. Having a Jeremy Kerley on your team is a bonus that cannot be discounted, either. But, I just think that, if push comes to shove, if you're playing it receivers vs. defense, we have to have the edge, right?

Edge - Frogs.