Saturday, November 1, 2008

Please, Texas, make me your Game Management Director

ON FOOTBALL

In Lubbock's postgame bedlam, surrounded by delirious fans and admirers, Graham Harrell hit it on the head.

"They left us too much time," Texas Tech's quarterback said.

Harrell was referring to the Red Raiders' game-winning drive, completed by his 28-yard touchdown pass to absolute stud Michael Crabtree, that gave Texas Tech a thrilling 39-33 upset of No. 1 Texas.

Harrell took the snap with 8 seconds showing on the clock. Crabtree caught the pass with 5 seconds remaining. He danced into the end zone with 1 tick left.

If Texas had managed the clock correctly, none of the mentioned acts could have been made by the pair of Heisman Trophy candidates. The Longhorns might just be 9-0, still No. 1 in the country and four victories from the national title game.

This might be overlooked, but it shouldn't be. Here's what happened:

With just over a minute and a half remaining, the Longhorns ran a great play. From the Texas Tech 4-yard line, the amazing Colt McCoy handed the pigskin to Vondrell McGee on a draw play, and McGee burst up the middle, through a gigantic opening and into the end zone.

The touchdown, plus the extra point, gave the Longhorns their first lead of the night 33-32.

But on the touchdown play, McCoy, a seasoned junior, made a grave mistake. Or maybe his coaches committed the error by not relaying the message to him. That's for them to know and me to ponder.

McCoy took the snap with about 22 seconds left on the play clock. It was the ultimate sin that could have simply been avoided by ... waiting! I mean, c'mon 'Horns. I know you were eager to finally snatch the lead. But you couldn't wait 20 more seconds?

The situation, at the moment, was dire for the Red Raiders. They had led 19-0 and 29-13, only to lose every ounce of momentum they had built up. Not only that, but they featured zero proven field-goal kickers. AND they had just a single timeout remaining.

They needed help, and McCoy and Company obliged. By snapping the ball so early, McCoy saved the Red Raiders about 20 seconds that they certainly appreciated on their game-winning drive.

(Did I mention that the winning score occurred with 1 second remaining?)

I really am tired of writing these columns, but every season a team makes such a bone-headed move that my blood starts boiling. But, at the same time, I don't want to "diss" Texas, because I think it should hire me. Seriously, I would ditch my current employment situation to become the Longhorns' Game Management Director.

I've got friends in Austin, I heard the weather's nice and the girls are pretty.

And I'd probably save the boys in Orange a game here, a game there.

Hook 'em Horns!

As it was, as Harrell said, the Longhorns left just too much time for the Red Raiders' deadly efficient offense. There was a big kickoff return. There were four consecutive completions that pushed the ball from the Texas Tech 38 to the Texas 28.

And then there were the two plays that ultimately decided the game, although — imagine this — it's possible neither would have existed in a game missing 20 seconds.

Before Texas Tech could bring down Big Bad No. 1, Texas had to give the Men in Black a lifeline. Harrell rolled out to his left and threw a ball that hit Edward Britton's hands and deflected softly up in the air...

The ball bounced, almost in slow motion, to waiting Texas safety Blake Gideon. All he had to do was secure the slowly falling ball and the game would be over, Lubbock would be silenced, and it'd make for one happy trip back east to Austin.

As my cousin J-bo opined, our grandma, who's pretty old and doesn't move too well, could have made the interception. No joke.

But the ball slipped right through Gideon's hands and somehow, someway found the field turf. Considering the circumstances, it was the most unbelievable drop I've ever seen. Now, I feel bad for the freshman, who will have a very difficult time living down The Drop. It'll likely be in his nightmares for years to come.

And we all know what happened next. Harrell dropped back and gunned a perfect spiral to the right sideline, where Crabtree reeled the ball in, threw off a hapless defender and tight-roped the sideline into pay dirt.

The play sent the rabid fans into such a tizzy, they charged the field not once but twice ... prematurely. Their lack of patience cost the Red Raiders 22 and a half yards in penalties, pushing the ensuing kickoff back to the 7-and-a-half-yard line.

However, this lack of patience wasn't the least bit costly (just humorous, really). The game was over a play later, and the fans worked on their running form one more time, swarming the field and covering it in black in all of 3 seconds.

Texas was outplayed for most of the game, but it could have prevented Tech's one comeback of the night by looking ahead a bit. Instead, the Longhorns got caught up in the moment of taking the lead and did their defense no favors.

In the process, they probably cost themselves a berth in the national-title game. Although you just never know these days.

If only they had a Game Management Director.

Again, I'm available for employment and I could help prevent such occasions from occurring in the future.

Please e-mail me at jakeblloyd@gmail.com.

4 comments:

Jonathan said...

Obviously I agree with your timing strategy, but something I've always wondered: how easy is it for the players to see the play clock? I mean, for those of us watching on a TV screen with all of the information flashing in our face, it's pretty obvious, but is the quarterback able to see how much time is left on the clock and play clock from the huddle?

Sportsattitude said...

Totally agree. In the aftermath of the fans swarming the field, the one thing that stood out was Harrell's comment about Texas leaving them too much time. I don't know if it was a direct reference to the Longhorns not paying attention to detail with the play clock when they had possession or not, but nonetheless the Red Raiders should have had less time to exploit the Texas secondary one more time. You watch enough sports, you see this kind of stuff...drives ya nuts, doesn't it?

Jake Lloyd said...

There's no excuse for the quarterback. There are mini scoreboards in every stadium that display the play clock. I'm sure McCoy had one in his vision as he snapped the ball so early.

Mack said...

check out this hilarious BCS satire!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6catQoYIeI