After Saturday’s unusual football game “against” Michigan, I find it best to heed the Psalmist’s advice against anger. Let us say, then, that the two teams put on a diverting demonstration of how not to play football. The game included many amusing moments, including a snap that bounced off the Michigan motion guy’s leg, a completely blown hand off, a muffed punt, a blocked field goal or two, and a third quarter clinic by the NU offensive line on how not to block for the quarterback. Masters of physical comedy seem to have served as Guest Offensive Coordinators of the week for the two teams, possibly John Cleese for Michigan and Max Sennett for NU. We did not, however, behold the week’s most comical performance by a CFB player, this chap at Utah who forgot where the goal line is.
NU will probably get the most heat on fan sites, though I will avoid the Michigan ones for a bit. Brady Hoke is widely regarded as a soon to be ex-coach, and may as well trade his maize-and-blue for Star Trek red. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald has always had his critics, of course, some quite raucous. Those critics are now reaching a pitch of frothing excitement unseen since, well, the darkest days of John Pont, Rick Venturi, and Dennis Green.
Not being a clinical football guy as such (my rule of thumb, “Good teams win more than they lose, and bad teams lose more than they win,” is servicable but not diagnostic), I can’t begin to guess what’s going on. Certainly, a malaise has settled over the team since in the last year. Given the recent performance of the Chicago Bears, the malaise may be a field effect that is related to Lake Michigan. The effect does not seem to reach as far as DeKalb. I hope that top research teams will begin investigating this possibility soon.
NU’s offensive line seems particularly affected; the young men are large, reasonably coordinated, and seem sufficiently athletic for the task. None are manifest cripples. Experts can speculate. I suspect that, in a mistaken effort to ensure that our opponents cannot penetrate the secrets of NU’s blocking schemes, they receive their instructions in Sanskrit, a language in which not even NU O-linemen are fluent.
The remainder of the year looks grim; if next week’s adventure with Notre Dame goes poorly, I may adopt a noir-ish persona in commenting. Massacre in South Bend comes to mind.