Saturday, November 29, 2008


Goddammit. Oregon State dropped the first Civil War game in Corvallis since 1996, and it happened to be when the Rose Bowl was on the line. My frustration knows no bounds right now. So many things went wrong.

Sean Canfield should have been starting. He's a better QB than Lyle Moevao, pure and simple. While Moevao had decent raw stats, he threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Niether of which were great plays by the defense, merely terrible throws by the QB. Moevao's throws were off all night. The recievers were trying their best to make adjustments, but less than a quarter of the passes were in the right spot. Moevao walked into a couple sacks, and constantly missed the open checkdowns.

Without Jacquizz Rodgers, the offense panicked, and went back to that detestable shotgun set. This took the run completely out of the picture, leading to the 60 passing plays, against the 13 runs by running backs. The play calling got worse in the red zone, two red zone opportunities were squandered in the first half when the offense got too cute, and did things like call no back formations and try the fly sweep twice in a row. This caused OSU to come away with 3 points when they should have had 14.

The fly sweep is a fine play. It's the foundation of OSU's offense, however, it is not a red zone play. The whole idea is to put the ball into the hands of Rodgers, Stroughter, or Johnson, have them beat the defense to the corner, and outrun people. OSU made several uncharacteristic mistakes using this play. They ran it with multiple players split wide, and they ran it in the Red Zone. Both these situations create the same flaw. It puts defenders closer to the sideline than the ball carrier. It's one thing to try a play against the grain to try and catch defenders off guard, it's another entirely to do it repeatedly.

Outside of the Red Zone, they didn't use the fly sweep motion enough. Because of the threat of the play, and the visible buildup of the motion, it warps defenses outside of the red zone. Even if the motion man doesn't get the ball, it opens up the pass downfield, and opens up runs up the middle. But OSU hardly ran the motion.

Ryan McCant's didn't get very many carries, and on his best run of the night, an 11 yard run in the 4th quarter, he fumbled. McCant's didn't see too many carries the whole season, because Jacquizz has been a beast. I believe in using a star back heavily, but I also think you need to work the backups into it, for familiarity's sake. It helps cut down on fumbles, and breeds confidence.

On defense, they gave up almost 700 yards. There's a lot of problems.

Problem number one. TACKLING. The ugly beast that rose it's head against Stanford and Penn State showed up again. Too many plays were created by missed tackles. The linebackers were just awful, constantly out of position, and arm tackling too often. The Corners missed several tackles too.

The defensive ends broke containment on almost every play. Especially in a misdirection offense like Oregon's, the key to playing DE against that offense is to never let a player involved in a handoff to get outside of you. especially if you think the play is going away from you. The QB hands off to the running back and runs at you, make sure he doesn't have the ball before you start chasing the running back.

Schematically, Oregon runs about 12 different plays, which is increased based on run pass options, and read options. Oregon's shotgun offense has the same limitations as the offense OSU ran. Based on the alignment of the running back, there are some gaps that the running back can't get to off the first cut. The weakside B, C, and D gaps are out. This brings us back to containment. There are two ways to vary pressure on an offense, blitzes and stunts. OSU ran a lot of stunts, which work well against a conventional offense, however, a read option offense is succeptable to blitzes, but renders stunts useless. All a DE stunt does is automatically blow containment, and open up those gaps that were out before. One player can prevent the whole weakside from being used, which allows you to focus on the strongside. OSU failed to do this, and the same play blew them up, time and again.

The referees were par for the course for the Pac 10, which is to say, God Awful. The review official for the fumble returned for the touchdown in the 3rd quarter should be fired. There is no excuse for that kind of incompetence when you have time to look, rewind, and look again at a call. None of the refs on the field have any clue what pass interferance is. Combined with some terrible spots for the ball, and I have a renewed hatred for the officials of the Pac 10.

All in all, it was a poorly played game. However, I would like to take a moment to thank the Beavers for playing as well as they have thus far this season. No one expected it outside of Corvallis. Good job.

It's also worth noting that the Rose Bowl dream is not over for OSU. Because of the Ducks loss to Cal, if USC loses to UCLA, Oregon State has the tiebreaker in a three way tie too. So, GO BRUINS!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Brad Edwards is an Apologist for All the Wrong Things.

For those of you who don't know, Brad Edwards is a columnist for He recently wrote an article on trying to justify allowing a team that did not win their conference to compete for the BCS title. He's essentially apologizing in advance for what would happen if Missouri wins the Big XII championship game. He claims that the third ranked team in the conference would be the best team in the nation. He attempts to back up his claim by painting a doomsday scenario where the top ranked teams lose out, and don't win their conferences.

Here's my stance on this. If the best teams lose out, then clearly, they weren't the best teams. This is a problem that will have been manufactured by the money grab known as the conference championship games. I am deeply opposed to conference championship games. They undermine the importance of conference play, and they screw up the national title picture. However, it is the bed the Big XII has made, and now they must lie in it.

The fact that he's arguing for the Big XII makes his case even shakier. The Big XII has already screwed up the BCS picture in this exact same manner twice. In 2001, the Big XII champion was Colorado, however, the Big XII sent Nebraska to the national title game. The result? 37-14 Miami. They didn't learn their lesson. In 2003, Kansas State was the Big XII champion, but the Big XII sent Oklahoma to the National Title Game. This time it was 21-14 LSU.

I believe the voters might have learned their lesson. Last season, Georgia was ranked second with only the conference championship games to go. Georgia was not playing, so they figured that their spot in the title game against Ohio State was assured. Far from it. Eventual SEC Champion LSU jumped from 7th to 2nd, and locked the #3 team in the SEC from attempting to play in the title game. The results were quite pleasing to the SEC. 38-24 LSU.

So to answer your question Brad, in case your doomsday scenario does play out, yes, Penn State-Florida would be just fine.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Drink of the Moment: The Vesper

"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"

If there's an author this side of Earnest Hemingway who really knew his liquor, it was Ian Flemming, the creator of secret agent James Bond. In honor of the release of Quantum of Solace, I bring you the drink Flemming created through 007, The Vesper.

The Vesper was introduced in Flemming's 1953 novel, Casino Royal. During a high stakes game of Baccarat. Bond invents the drink when asked if he'd like a drink from the bar. When Felix Lighter, one of the other players comments on the drink, Bond says this.
"I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."

He ends up naming it in honor of Vesper Lynd, the double agent for the Soviets that he's bedding at this time.

As you can read above, the drink involves Gin, Vodka, and Kina Lillet. However, if you want to make an accurate Vesper, you must keep in mind that this recipe was devised in 1953, when men were men, and alcohol was strong. Gordon's Gin has been cut down in proof, and most vodkas currently sold are 80 proof. Kina Lillet isn't made anymore. They replaced it with Lillet Blanc, which has no quinine in it, so it lacks any real bite to it.

To get around these issues, there are several quick fixes. Many modern gins maintain the 94 proof of 50's Gordon's. 100 proof vodka is easy to find. A dash of quinine powder turns a Lillet Blanc back into Kina Lillet. The quinine powder might be difficult to find, so if you can't get your hands on it, substitute in 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters.

You wind up with 3 oz 94 proof gin, 1 oz 100 proof vodka, 1/2 oz of Lillet Blanc, and a dash of Quinine Powder (or two dashed bitters). Shake until cold, then strain into a Cocktail glass, or a deep champagne goblet if you want to be true to Bond. Garnish with a long thin lemon peel. Take a sip, and picture yourself heads up with Le Chiffre.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Quantum - [kwon-tuhm] -(physics) the smallest discrete quantity of some
physical property that a system can possess.

Quantum of Solace is the latest James Bond film, and once you watch it, the title becomes quite apt.

Daniel Craig stars for the second time as the man with a license to kill. Craig's portrayal of Bond is more in line with the model put forward by previous actors Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Craig's Bond is a killer for his country. Gone are the quips and one liners of the campier Bonds. Personally, I like it this way.

Judi Dench comes back as M, Bond's supervisor. As always, she does a sharp job at this.

Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton play Bond Girls Camille Montes and Strawberry Fields, respectively. Montes is a beautiful Russian Bolivian woman who's on a vendetta against the man who killed her family. Fields is a lovely British redhead working for the British Consulate. Fields exudes the almost prudish form of sex appeal that only the British have mastered.

Mathieu Amalric plays Dominic Greene. The main villain of the film. Eco friendly CEO of a major corporation, and member of the secretive criminal syndicate Quantum. Unlike previous villains, Greene lacks an outstanding deformity. He's probably the most normal villain to grace Her Majesty's Silver Screen. He still comes off as a little creepy though.

Quantum of Solace picks up right where Casino Royal left off. Right off, as in Mr. White, the operative for Quantum that Bond captured at the end of the previous film, is still in the trunk of Bond's Aston Martin. The film jumps right into a pitched gunfight on the narrow European highways, and the action never slows up.

After making his escape from the gunmen of Quantum, Bond brings Mr. White to an MI6 safehouse, where M herself prepares to interrogate him, using unscrupulous means if need be. Mr. White laughs her ominous threats off, claiming that Quantum has people everywhere. Usually when someone says that, it's a setup for someone to be a double agent down the road. Apparently, it wasn't very far down the road, because one of the MI6 agents in the room opens fire, killing the guards. Bond gives chase, leaving Mr. White unattended.

In Bond's furious pursuit of the traitor, we begin to get a peak at the reason why the film was given it's name. The betrayal and death of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royal has made him into an inconsolable font of wrath. He has buried himself in his duties with MI6, and walks a perilous line between his duty, and pure vengeance.

As he chases leads regarding the shadow syndicate of Quantum, he is led to Dominic Greene, the CEO of Greene Planet. Mr. Greene has some shady dealings going on that will bring about the downfall of the Bolivian government, and give Greene control of the worlds most valuable resource.

This is an EON Bond film, so it's rather stunning visually. The stunts are jaw dropping. Picture Parkour on roid rage. The score suits the film well. It utilizes the Bond Theme leitmotif, without becoming dependent upon it. The theme song is well done, but a little unremarkable. I liked "You Know My Name" from Casino Royal better. However, Alicia Keys does a good job singing.

The writing has gone far away from the gadget filled camp of the series prior. For the most part, everything they use is plausible. There are not so subtle homages to Goldfinger and Moonraker. Think black gold. The characters are much more filled out in the Craig films than in any previous incarnations.

The film is 106 minutes long, and garnered a 58 on Metacritic. Most critics complained that it didn't seem like Bond was having fun in this one. I agree, but I believe that that was the point of this film. 007 is no longer the quip producing charmer in control of everything. He's human now. He bleeds, he hurts, and he has doubts. I think this is a great move. I give the film an 8/10.

New Watchmen Trailer!

This is going to be fucking fantastic!

Friday, November 14, 2008

In Bruges

Earlier this week, I rented a few movies. Amonst them was Martin McDonagh's In Bruges.

Colin Farrell plays Ray, a young aspiring hitman who accidently kills a young boy on his first assignment.

Brendan Gleeson plays Ken, an experienced hitman who acts as a mentor to Ray.

Ralph Fiennes plays Harry, their scrupulous employer who decides to send them both into hiding in the Belgian city of Bruges to lay low until the heat subsides. Ray hates it in Bruges. It's a little too... Belgian for his tastes. Things start to turn around when Ray meets a girl, Chloe, and a midget she's working with on a film. Things go south again when Chloe's tries to rob him, and midget turns out to be a jackass, and things just continue to go down. Until Ray decides to kill himself, and Ken is instructed to kill Ray over the boy Ray killed. At that point, decisions have to be made.

While In Bruges is indeed a comedy, it is a very dark comedy. So dark, that light cannot escape it's surface. It's pretty much an hour and a half of watching life kick Colin Farrell in the nuts. The atmosphere captures the feel of a small european tourist town pretty well. The score is fairly minimal, which is good because it doesn't get in the way. The characters of Ray and Ken are pretty well rounded, however the rest of the cast is a little flat. It's also casually profane in a manner that only Guy Ritchie movies have managed.

In Bruges is 107 minutes long, and earned a 67 on metacritic. It's worth watching. I give it a 7/10.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fixing College Football: The Big XII

It's been a while, but as Bender once said... "I'M BACK, BABY!" Let's take a look at how we would realign the Big XII conference.

The University of Texas
Texas A&M
The University of Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University
The University of Kansas
Kansas State University
Texas Tech
The University of Colorado
The University of Missouri
The University of Nebraska

The first six were all classic rivals. Texas Tech, I'm hoping begins to form a rivalry with Missouri, and Colorado and Nebraska are both traditional Big XII powers that I would feel bad for excluding. Iowa State is more in Big Ten territory, so they're out. Baylor could be a rival with Texas Tech, but the idea of Missouri and TT shooting it out was just too appealing.