Please join me in celebrating Hispanic heritage month. This week, it’s all about el futbol.
A long weekend for el futbol. There was a game of some interest to me Thursday. However, given the math, which seemed to require that I pull for Missouri to beat Nebraska, I stuck with Must See TV and didn’t watch any of the Deluge in Columbia.
Friday, that weather moved into our area. Fortuitously, that just happened to be the night I was assigned to cover my first Friday night futbol game of the year. I had a good assignment, though: traveling to a big school with a very nice, completely enclosed press box. So I stayed warm and dry all night. Until I had to cross the field after the game. I sunk past my ankles into the mud as I chased down the coach. Not sure how those kids kept their footing all night. Midway through the second quarter, I couldn’t read the numbers on the jerseys of any of the backs or receivers on the team wearing white. So I just listened to the PA and radio announcers next to me, and figured whoever they said had the ball would get the carry/catch in the official stats. Oh, and my team lost 34-0, so another ass-whoppin’ when I’m on the job.
Saturday, thanks the glorious Vs. HD, I was able to witness the shootout in Lawrence. As a KU alum and lifetime fan, I will never apologize for or take being 5-0 lightly. More often than not, the Jayhawks would consider 3-2 a great record at this point in the schedule. But one thing was obvious during and after the narrow win over Iowa State: the distance to travel for the Big 12 North title is even farther than most of us had hoped. Unless the defense makes some major changes, there’s no way we’re going to get the sweep of Tech, Nebraska, and Mizzou we need to win the North. As good as the offense is, you can’t ask them to score 40+ every week just to eek out a win. From his post-game comments, Mangino is aware of the issues and may be making some changes this week. It seemed like everyone was kind of standing around on Saturday, rather than being aggressive. Hopefully it is just a matter of making some small tweaks, inserting a couple guys who are highly skilled but have struggled grasping the schemes, and so on that will allow them to keep opponents under 500 yards/game.
The final Iowa State play of the game was nearly a miracle/disaster finish. If Arnaud can throw a better pass (and that was an exceptionally difficult pass, I’m not knocking him at all), it is reminiscent of a certain game-winning pass thrown by a certain quarterback on a certain team that a certain blogger follows closely. Not nearly as cool, of course, but close.
I exchanged e-mails with my friend Sean the Clone throughout the game. I commented that it would really suck to be a defensive player these days. All the rules are against you and for the offense. You have to play these ridiculous schemes that spread the offense across the entire field. Unless you have NFL-caliber speed, it’s very difficult to get to the quarterback. And once you’re spread out and each defender is on an island, any halfway decent quarterback can pick you apart all afternoon. I didn’t keep exact stats, but it felt like only 2-3 incomplete passes in the KU-ISU game were because of the defense. The rest were drops or bad throws. Even with the 4-2-5 scheme becoming more popular, those back five don’t have much of a chance.
As soon as the game was over, I hopped into the car and jetted south to cover a sectional soccer final. It was an entertaining game, ending in a 3-1 win for the favorites. Both teams fall under our coverage umbrella, so it was win-win from a writing perspective. Should the winners win again on Wednesday, I would not be surprised if I cover their regional final next weekend.
More soccer. The US national team played a World Cup qualifier in Honduras late Saturday. Because of some strange rights issues, the game was only available on closed circuit.* Sports Illustrated writer (and KC native) Grant Wahl was in Honduras for the match, though, and offered live updates via his Twitter feed. It was another example of how small the world is, as I got immediate updates on a soccer match via my iPhone. 30 years ago, I might have to wait until Monday morning to see the score in the paper. The US came from behind and got a 3-2 win, securing their trip to next year’s World Cup in South Africa.
(Closed circuit? What is this, 1982? Remember when big boxing matches were on closed circuit and you could go to theaters to watch them?)
Most of Sunday was spent finishing up my soccer story and then keeping the girls occupied. I saw bits of futbol here-and-there, mostly the Denver – New England game. I take back what I said about Seattle’s uniforms two weeks ago: Denver’s AFL throwbacks might be the worst futbol uniforms ever. Then again, they were so bad they were almost good, so perhaps Seattle still holds the title. They did remind me of a uniform I wore in my Taco Bell days. If only we had to wear the vertical-striped socks, too!
Maybe we all over-estimated New England. They certainly don’t play with the same swagger they did two years ago.
A big night for the Colts. I’m not sure how much you can take away from their hot start, given who they’ve played. But, amazingly, the offense looks about as good as it’s ever looked. Big props to everyone for getting Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon integrated into the offense so well and so quickly. The defense is doing some nice things, with a banged up secondary and Bob Sanders yet to play a down. It’s early to be getting excited, but they’re close to wrapping up the division title, and can start worrying about home field in the playoffs soon. I’m not ready to say they’re strong enough on both sides of the ball to make the Super Bowl, but given the topsy-turvy nature of the AFC, anything is possible. If, by some miracle, Pittsburgh and/or San Diego miss the playoffs, I like their chances against any of the other AFC contenders.
As I wrap this up on Monday, I must say I enjoy the Miami alternate orange jerseys. That’s a quality way to incorporate a third color without getting too crazy or altering the overall look of the uniforms.