On the BHGP podcast last night (coming soon!), featuring an All Star lineup of Bama, Me, Hawkeye State, and OPS, we got especially animated when discussing Big Ten "disappointments" of 2009. What is it that makes us giggle like schoolgirls about the failings of others? It could be our overwhelming immaturity...or it could be the cognitive dissonance that goes with watching something happen that surprises you.
I THINK, and Phil Steele THOUGHT, Illinois was a 9-3 team, so when I see them falling apart., I get disoriented.
Connie - if you don't listen to me...and marry this man...you'll disappoint me
My #1 disappointing unit is the Illinois offense. This is like beating a dead horse, but my god. OC Mike Schultz ran the same Spread formation that was run in '07 (successful, run focused) and '08 (successful, deep throw focused), but drove his unit straight into the turf via unimaginative run plays and throwing formations ill-fitted for Juice Williams. The last thing you want to do is drop Juice Williams straight back, but that's the first thing that Schultz ordered when the run game was slowed. Here are the Big Ten stats for this unit:
- 9 games with +300 yards, but STILL 10th in scoring offense
- 10th in pass offense
- 7th in total offense
- 7 games of less than 20 points scored
Realizing this team was playing below its potential, Zook made QB changes to shake things up midseason and the Illini beat Michigan and Mini with a revitalized Juice and Jacob Charest sharing duties. This ability to make changes was something that my #1 disappointing coaching staff couldn't do. Ladies and gentlemen, your Minnesota Golden Gophers coaching staff. Was there a worse idea than throwing the ball 40 times against Iowa? Who decided to ingrain a pass-heavy philosophy into a team with good run blockers and a "power run" loving OC? Why were easy-to-complete sit down routes tossed aside in favor of low percentage sideline timing routes? I was laughed at on the podcast because I complained that with all its talent, Minnesota seemed to have no idea what to do with it. Come on they said, everyone knows Brewster is an ass clown who has naked pictures of the school president keeping his job secure.
At least Brewster kept his program at a nice simmering level of mediocrity, never getting the chance to fail in a nationally relevant game. This wasn't the case for my #1 disappointing big game player, Daryll Clark. PSU fans have heard enough shit-talk and felt enough pain to really care anymore, but his deer in the headlights performances against OSU and Iowa probably shouldn't be blamed on anyone else. The normally decisive Clark, who leveled every other Big Ten opponent with crisp short throws and well thrown wheel routes, got happy feet under the bright lights. His veteran status and "#1 QB in the Big Ten" label certainly didn't show when he was confusedly throwing into triple coverage.
If you feel the need to hate on anyone else, feel free. We could have talked about Terrelle Pryor, who was on the tail end of preseason Heisman lists. We could have talked about Michigan State's pass defense or the early season performance by Corey Wootton. And tongues could have been clicked derisively towards any player/unit residing in Ann Arbor. But that's enough negativity for now.