Mike Fasano: Winning When it Counts

Oct 4, 2011 | By: Random Blogger

 

RU beat Syracuse 19-16 in double overtime.

It was a crucial win.
No, not because Syracuse is good - they're not. In fact, Syracuse has a lot of room for improvement. The Orange had to go into double overtime to beat Rhode Island.
They're among the low third of the Big East.
It was a crucial win since the Knights need the win.
Needed the win?
Yes, they needed that win.
This is a re-building year for Rutgers. This is year one of re-building the offensive line. Next year will be better. The year after we'll be in full recovery mode.
And Rutgers has a task set out for it. Keep the image of Rutgers as a "bowl team" intact while we are re-building that line. That means going to bowls while offensive line rebuilding is still underway. Once the line is re-built, the program will take off like a rocket. The defense can play and the offensive skill level is so high it is absurd.
Which brings me to the F word.
The F Word
My mom used to always tell me not to use he F word. She'd say, "Now, Michael don't use Larry Fitzgerald's name in vain, he is the greatest wide receiver in college football history."
Being a good boy I never compared any college football receiver to Larry Fitzgerald.
But I can't take it anymore.
Mohammed Sanu is beginning to remind me of Larry Fitzgerald.
There I said it. 
And I am not ashamed of what I said.
It takes great talent to catch a football in traffic with one hand. It takes great concentration to grab a reception in traffic and put down a foot inbounds while heading towards the sideline at 4.4 velocity.
Against Syracuse, Sanu caught a bullet pass with one hand in traffic, tapped a foot in bounds just a split second before blazing across the sideline.
Wow!
And I bet that after that catch he yawned. And why not? Sanu does that stuff all the time. Just another work-a-day catch for Mo.
But therein lies the problem.
Mohammed Sanu is so good that Chas Dodd is locking on him. 
That is not good.
Rutgers has passing options in abundance.
Martinek on the swing pass is awesome after the catch.
Pratt and Wright are glue-handed-clutch- receivers.
Harrison would merit double coverage - if he played for any team other than Rutgers.
Coleman is a few easy touches away from stardom and Carrezola is the "Comstock Lode" waiting to be mined.
But there is a problem. Dodd is locking onto Sanu.
Even when other receivers were wide open he tries force the pass into Sanu.
When I was watching the game with Big Dog I said, "You know if Syracuse dropped eleven men into coverage on Sanu, Chas would try to thread the needle to get him the ball."    
This is not good.
It is probably one of the reasons that Chas got benched in favor of Nova.
 
TWO OPTIONS FOR DEALING WITH THE PROBLEM
There are two options for dealing with this problem.
First, when Sanu goes out of a route, have him bring a series of posters. If he finds himself triple covered, he would hold up the appropriate poster, such as:

 

THROW THE BALL TO MARK
 
The second option is to design "reads" or plays that take advantage of the double team to get a receiver wide open. On those occasions Sanu is the secondary target, someone else is the primary.
Once during the Syracuse game I saw Sanu go in motion only to have two defenders follow him to the other side of the field.
That tells you something about the defense.
Take advantage of it.
 
CALLING IT RIGHT ON BOSTON COLLEGE
When Boston College went to the ACC I posted on a bulletin board that the Eagles program had just committed suicide. BC - with no natural recruiting ground - now had to convince kids from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio to move to New England so that they could play football in the ACC!?!?
Or ...
They had to convince kids in North Carolina and Virginia to move to New England so they could play football in the ACC!?!?
That recruiting situation was ridiculous. It was a recipe for disaster for Boston College.
Well, the day of reckoning has now arrived for the Eagles. Boston College is now 1-4, their only win being over Massachusetts. They have lost at home to both Wake Forest and Duke.
Now they are heading into the rough part of their schedule!
There's a good chance that they could go 1-11.
And there is a good reason for their record.
They don't have any talent.
BC has only two players of note, running back Montel Harris and linebacker, Luke Kuechly. After those two, they have nothing and Harris graduates this year.
The addition of Pittsburgh to the ACC will actually help BC by re-opening the Western Pennsylvania recruiting grounds. But without a full complement of natural rivals, BC will never get back to full tilt.
And maybe this is by design.
What?
Let me explain.
There is a real mystery at the core of all this re-alignment stuff. Why weren't Rutgers and UConn added to the ACC?
It just made sense. It made sense in terms of rivalries, recruiting grounds, media markets. It just made sense.
On the other hand, the idea of adding either Notre Dame or Texas to the ACC made no sense. In fact, it was just patently absurd. The politics of it just don't work. Notre Dame's alum - who have a veto power over this type of thing - would never have allowed it.
The geographics of it don't work either. And, finally, both Texas and Notre Dame knew that the ACC would always be the little brother to the SEC. Those teams would simply never, ever join the ACC. It was just never going to happen.
So why didn't the ACC do the logical thing solidify the northeast?
Well, maybe the ACC never wanted to solidify the Northeast. In fact, maybe that is just what they feared. Maybe they feared a Northern Division of the ACC which would eventually come to dominate a Southern Division of the ACC.
Consider this. In the year before the first ACC raid of the Big East, Big East attendance - which had been regularly climbing - for the first time exceeded ACC attendance. The Big East Football Conference at that time was strong and getting stronger. The first ACC raid may have been "defensive" as much as it had been "offensive."
And if that is true, why would the ACC want to put "claws" back into the very area of the country that they had just de-clawed?
By adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse the ACC added the Pittsburgh media market, added the rich Western Pennsylvania recruiting ground, weakened the incredibly strong Big East Basketball Conference and weakened the BCS standing of the Big East Football Conference.
And just maybe that is all that they wanted to do.
You don't believe that!
Then tell me. Just what does Syracuse bring to the ACC?
They bring no media market. The ACC offices were certainly privy to media market reports. The idea that Syracuse brings the New York market - or even a significant part of it - is simply absurd. The ACC had to have known that.
Moreover, Syracuse brings little in the way of recruiting grounds. Upper New York state produces some players but not very many.
Finally, they do not bring a great football program. They don't even bring a good football program. Syracuse football is awful. The football program has been in a state of constant decline ever since Dick MacPherson left.    
So why add Syracuse to the ACC?
Well, it helps the flagging fortunes of ACC basketball. Also, with the added defection of Pitt, it undermines the dominance of Big East Basketball.
But what does it do for football which is what re-alignment is all about.
The answer is that Syracuse adds nothing. The acquisition of Syracuse football simply neuters the attractiveness of Northeastern football by destroying and dividing natural rivalries.
And maybe that is what the ACC wanted to do. Extend their media market / recruiting grounds somewhat into the Northeast but not enough that some day the acquisition of a Northern Division of the ACC might come back to haunt them.
Maybe in the final analysis, the ACC's power move was nothing more than an admission of weakness.

 

 

 

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