So, I was typing this in a response on the game thread, and it is just too long. So, here it is--and I really hate to do this--but it has to come out. What is going on internally with our staff/players?? The commentary of Erin Andrews as to what was going on on the sidelines was not good stuff. Surely we must take those sort of comments with a grain of salt coming from the media, but when they match up with what appears to be going on on the field, and things I am already concerned may be going on behind the scenes, questions are appropriate from the folks who pay the bills (that would be we the season ticket holders).
So . . . in case you didn't hear, amongst other things, Jevan Snead "shrugged his shoulders" at Houston Nutt, "had words" with Dexter McCluster, "slammed his helmet on the bench," and "said a prayer." If I have not gotten that totally correct, please amend me, but I'm pretty sure that was the gist. Also, from my own viewing of the Memphis game, after we finally got the game in hand, there was a moment when Nutt came and said something to Snead, and he basically rolled his eyes as Nutt was walking off, and looked at the guy next to him and shook his head. So what's up with all of this? Have any of you picked up on this? Here's what I think, after the jump, as they say.
When you micromanage an elite athlete the results can be catastrophic. When a coach's ego/personal rap is more important to him than his players, the results are always bad. When a coach delegates in all phases of the game except the one he is "known for," and then intermittently micromanages that phase, the results can be bad. So what am I really saying?
I think Houston Nutt has decreed that we play vanilla through the non-conference schedule. This is not abnormal, though I find it to be fundamentally flawed, but lots of coaches do it--so on to bigger problems. More problematic, I think he decreed that we play as vanilla as possible for as long as we could in this game--so as to A) give ourselves an advantage against Alabama, or B) give ourselves an advantage against SC in the second half if need be. Kind of "keep it close and win at the end" bull crap. If I'm right, clearly this didn't work. If I'm wrong--what happened out there?
So, on to more problems. I think quarterbacks, especially big good ones, scare the shit out of Nutt. You know, guys like Eli Manning that throw interceptions a lot sometimes--you can't win with them. So, I think Nutt really worries Jevan a lot about "game management" -- an idea I despise. If you don't get this, or disagree, let me put it this way:
What does it do to a guy like Jevan Snead when you clip his wings so to speak--and say, "Hey buddy . . . just don't lose it for us ok?" Obviously, not good, but the worst would be if you said that and then, in the fourth quarter, after a lot of successful running, ran out of running room, and changed it to, "alright--this is your time--it's now or never--come on buddy" . . . "oh, and by the way, first we're gonna try a trick play where that really fast 5'9" guy who can't really throw does your job (because you're bad at it) and throws . . . but first, he's gonna take the hand off on a reverse, because--you know--that's the best way to read a defense, and he's gonna get sacked trying to do your job and then we're really gonna need you cuz it's gonna be 3rd and long, but don't worry that you're not in rhythm because you'll probably get sacked anyway trying to do one of your fancy moves. . . and oh yeah, Jevan--buddy--I hate to tell you, but once we use our last time out, we're gonna send too many guys out there and really fuck you over this time--so get ready for fourth and long--really long."
"Oh . . . and try not to think about the fact that you could've got the first down last series on that QB sneak you wanted to run. We had to punt so that it'll be even more hog wild, er wild rebel awesome when you finally complete a pass--and I'll look brilliant, by helping you pull out of this slump you've been havin, and you'll be happy cuz it's better to give than to receive son! Now, come on -- just one completion -- do it for the team --do it for your country!! And quit asking if Kent is really calling these plays--I'm the Sheriff around here."
This has been quite a rambling. I know it is a cop out for fans to point the finger at the coach, so let me just say that typically I'm not like that. I backed Cutcliffe, and even Orgeron until it got really crazy. But make no mistake about it, our coaching staff lost that game tonight. Sure, if you're into throwing 20 year old kids under the bus for "execution," you can say our players just didn't perform. But what the hell? In addition to the obvious ones I stated above, here are some good questions: Dex doesn't touch the ball for the first half? A fake field goal against a team you're supposed to beat? Only running out two receivers on pass plays and still not getting protection, forcing your 2nd year starter who already has quite a heavy psychological load on his shoulders to either force throws or take sacks? Giving the ball to an untested freshman (Scott) on 3rd and short? Getting Tim Simon hurt for punt coverage duty when you think he ought to be redshirted? Oh, punting on 4th and 1 or 2 because you arrogantly assume that somehow you are now going to be able to get the ball back with 4 minutes and just drive down and dominate a defense (who just got a complimentary breather) that you have not for 50 minutes--when in reality you could've just sneaked it w/ your 220lb. former heisman candidate for an easy first down?
Answer these questions!! HOUSTON!! What's your problem?