Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sugar Bowl wrapup: One quarterback makes some money, another one loses it

Idle thoughts on the best bowl game so far:

1. The Super Dome, though a bit of a dump, is a great place for a big game. Part of what makes the SEC Championship an annual must-see is all that noise and energy trapped in an oversized crock pot. The second half of the Sugar Bowl offered the same ingredients: the Arkansas fans finding their voices; the always great Ohio State crowd hanging in, and amazing mood swings up and down the field. Great fun.

2. The more I watch Ryan Mallett, the more he reminds me of the yellow-toothed bully in "A Christmas Story." He's bigger than everybody else, he's obviously gifted. But hit him in the mouth and he starts to whine. Then he starts to jitterbug -- badly. Against Alabama this year, Mallett made Herculean throws . . . until he got bopped. He went on to throw three ghastly interceptions, similar to one that ended the game Tuesday night. (Oh yeah, his receivers also dropped the ball at key times against the Tide.) If Mallett doesn't like being hit now, do we expect his demeanor to improve in the NFL? Don't think the scouts haven't noticed.

3. Good calls by Todd Blackledge foreshadowing Mallett's killer pick. The former Penn State QB pointed out early on that Mallett was making bad decisions as his pocket closed. With the game on the line, Mallett made another one. And because of Blackledge's good work, it was almost predictable.

4. Terrelle Pryor plays great football in big games. He took apart Oregon in last year's Rose Bowl and was his team's best offensive weapon against Arkansas. Though still not a picture-perfect passer, his throwing motion has clearly improved while at Columbus. Some NFL team will give him a shot -- as well as an excuse to skip out on his promised return to OSU. He and some of his teammates face fve-game suspensions in 2011 for taking illegal benefits.

5. "The clanking sound you hear . . . " We've already talked about the dropped passes (give me two of them back and Arkansas likely wins the game). But how in the world doesn't Arkansas recover Pryor's fumble at the goal line? How doesn't it intercept Pryor's end-over-end pass in the second half? And why in the world do the Hogs fall on the blocked punt instead of scoring a touchdown? Strange game, football.

6. When was the last time you saw a defensive line, without the help of blitzes, put that much pressure on a quarterback? Sure, Mallett has the mobility of a paper weight, but the Buckeye lineman, particularly Cameron Heyward, knocked Arkansas back on its heels all night. (And, yes, Dawg fans, how in the world did Mark Richt let Heyward get out of Atlanta?)

7. Speaking of Heyward . . . He had to leave the game after a Hog lineman dove at his knees after Heyward had leaped to contest a pass and was completely vulnerable. Legal perhaps, but incredibly cheap. The same kind of shot injured Marcel Dareus for several games. Last night's blow would draw an NFL review and a probable fine. The NCAA needs to clean those up.

8. Congrats to Ohio State. You're 1 and 9 against the SEC in bowl games. Another win and you crack the Mendoza Line.



Anonymous said...

Let's not forget The Mullet's exit from the Auburn game, on a hit that doesn't even make the top 40 of 2010 QB hits. He's soft as a marshmellow, just like his coach.

The final score, a blemish on this great conference's record, is reason # 147,278 to hate Bobby Petrino.

Chris said...

I've noticed all year the horrible decisions by Ryan Mallet. Arkansas fans have on Ryan Mallet shades and can only see the dropped balls and no-calls in the first half. They think he does no wrong. He's the leader of the team and when you're in the other teams redzone in the biggest game in the school's modern history, you don't throw a pick. You get a score to win the game. It's why Auburn is in the Championship Game and Arkansas was passed the Sugar Bowl scraps. Ryan Mallet has an NFL arm, no doubt, but he also has a middle school head. Ask Ryan Leaf how that turns out.

Bama Brother said...

I'll bet you and J have paid closer attention to Arkansas and other SEC teams than I have, but based on what I've seen about Mallett, I have to agree with you. In an earlier post I said he reminded me of Brett Favre - prone to throw some great passes, also prone to make some bad decisions and make off-balance throws that lead to picks. I can't say this for sure either, since TV tends to turn its eye the other way when punk behavior breaks out on the field, but Arkansas seems to be prone to a lot of nodding, pointing and yacking. They were doing that against Alabama, and that made me doubly glad they lost. They seemed to be doing that against OSU, and that made me glad the Buckeyes escaped with a win.

Anonymous said...

#8: You're missing the qualifier "in bowl games."

Michael said...

Anon: Thought that was understood, but will make it apparent.

Thanks for reading.