Tuesday, November 28, 2006

shotgun bang, what's up with that thang

I have a little thing I do, run weekly football picks pool with a few friends. This week, in making my report, I stumbled on to something which I think might make sense. It's about the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants. Vince Young and Jeff Fisher. Shotgun formation.

What contributed to the Titans incredible comeback, down 21 points in the 4th quarter? Here is what I wrote.

Sandy won, and he could give credit to Mathias Kiwanuka, the rookie defensive end from Boston College (1st round 32 overall) on the New York football Giants, who (for some reason I'm pretty sure even he doesn't understand) let up half way through a sack on Vince Young. This was on a 4th and 10 play in the 4th quarter with the Titans on their own 24 yard line, down by a touchdown and just over 2 minutes to play. Basically a play which could have ended the game but instead Young ended up gaining 19 yards on it and ended up leading the Titans on a game-tying touchdown drive. Some of you (especially Pat) might know of this play, but what might be lost is that on the play before, on 3rd down, Kiwanuka dropped into coverage and made a great stop by knocking down a pass setting up the 4th and long.

Watching that drive, and looking up some facts (you didn't actually think I knew what Kiwanuka's draft history was off the top of my head did you?) it got me thinking. What changed, what happened to allow the Titans to mount such a comeback in the 4th quarter? The answer, might be in the offensive formations used by the Titans. Here is something I guarantee you won't find anywhere else (at least not presented to you on a platter like this, maybe someone else is on to it, but they're probably in Tennessee).

Last year on the Longhorns, Vince Young, in the championship game against USC, he engineered a game winning touchdown drive with plays that were mainly from the shotgun formation. Those (and traditionally all) shotgun formation plays allowed Young to be more mobile. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he primarily worked out of the shotgun formation in his college career. One way for me to verify this is to examine the Longhorns playbook in NCAA football, but I don't know if I need to because some facts here speak for themselves. Below is a table of the Titans yards gained by formation in their game agains the Giants. The first column is with Young under centre, the second is with him out of shotgun. It is further broken down by half, because there is a big difference in what happened in the two halves of that game.

1st Half Under Centre Shotgun
Plays 17 8
Yards 68 54
Avg. 4 6.75
2nd Half

plays 7 27
Yards 24 185
Avg. 3.43 6.85

plays 24 35
Yards 92 239
Avg. 3.83 6.83

Included in that table is the drive in the 4th quarter which led to the first Titans touchdown, a drive that consisted solely of plays out of the shotgun formation.

Yeah, so lots of things came into play for that remarkable comeback, but consistent difference in average yards gained between the formations is striking.

I'm thinking that we might see Jeff Fisher employ the shotgun formation more frequently in Titan games in the future.

Putative: adj 1 : commonly accepted or supposed
2 : assumed to exist or to have existed

Thursday, November 16, 2006

a note on the san antonio spurs

They are the best team in the NBA. Barring injury, they will win the NBA western conference and possibly the NBA title, if not for the Toronto Raptors (blind faith baby, blind faith). The only team that can beat the Spurs is....... the Spurs.

Seriously, they're that good.

Anyone who thinks Houston is better, did not see the (capital I) Incredible comeback that the Spurs made in Houston to beat them. That was a healthy Rockets team which showed its weakness (depth) as opposed to San Antonio's strength (depth). Unless that weakness is addressed a.s.a.p., this current Rockets team can not beat the Spurs in a seven game series, even with (boo) Tracy McGrady (boo) firing on all cylinders. The Spurs were down by 19 at one point in the third quarter of that game and out scored the Rockets 21-9 in the 4th quarter to win by 8. Yes it was one game but I'm willing to make my stand based on one game. Am I jumping to conclusions? Fo' shoggy my doggy, but I ain't gonna stand down on it.

Of course, it's only November, and there will be trades and injuries and etc. And yes, I know that there are other teams in the West, and yes, I know that the Spurs lost at home to the Bobcats last night, but they shot 3-12 in overtime compared to Charlotte's 5-7 and ended up loosing by 3. The fact the game went to overtime was a statement, because the Spurs were down by 8 with just over 2 minutes to play. This team just does not die.

ameliorate v Etymology: alteration of meliorate
transitive verb : to make better or more tolerable
intransitive verb : to grow better

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

a point on points

Disclaimer - I know this is not an original argument, but I had to vent. It’s only November, but this argument will be raised as the NHL season goes on (especially close to the end) and I just want to be a part of the collective voice supporting it.

I’ve been trying to get my head around this, and for the life of me, I can’t figure the logic behind why some games in the NHL are ending with 3 points being allocated to the participants, and some others are ending only having 2 points allocated to one team? Is it because some games are worth more than others? If so, why don’t they tell the viewers before hand, so I can plan to watch the more valuable 3 point games?

In the NHL, regular season standings are determined by how many points a team has gained throughout the season. Points are allocated thusly:

2 points for a win
1 point for a loss in overtime or in shootout.
0 points for a loss in regulation.

Based on those standings the top 8 teams from each conference (all teams being divided into two conferences) make the playoffs and chase the Stanley Cup. So even though the regular season is quite long, it does have some importance to it. My beloved Maple Leafs, missed out on the playoffs last year, despite gaining 90 points in 82 games.

The answer to my own questions lies in the fact that the NHL wanted to stop having games being ended in a tie, and therefore started to allocate a ‘bonus point’ to a winning side in overtime or shootout, and at the same time, didn’t want to penalize a team for loosing in overtime or a shootout and so it let them gain one point. But this has created a situation where teams (especially those playing games against teams outside their conference) perhaps are playing with the goal to get to overtime and the safe point; making the objective of the participating squads to tie, not to win. Once you lower the standards of competition to a tie, the level of play deteriorates. You have teams sitting back and waiting for other teams to make mistakes. Offensive chances go down at the ending of games with teams sitting back waiting for mistakes. I don’t need stats to tell me that the last 10 minutes of regulation time in games that are tied see a noticeable decline in offensive chances being taken by either squad.

Quite frankly, that’s fine by me. Strategy is strategy. You can’t plan excitement. What you can plan is an even schedule slowly building to a crescendo as playoffs arise. Late in the season, games take on a little extra intensity as teams in the playoff hunt are playing for a shot to go for the cup.

But if you make wins in regulation time worth 2 points, and still give some teams one point in overtime loses, you create an unequal playing field. It becomes incredibly hard for any playoff races to actually develop. If you’re crediting a losing squad in overtime or shootout, you’re devaluating the winning squad, but by giving the winning squads the same amount of points (in overtime, shootout or regulation) you’re also devaluating the team that wins in regulation. How can some games be worth more than others?

Why doesn’t the NHL see this inconsistency? A simple solution would be to allocate 3 points to a team winning in regulation, therefore equalizing the point distribution. The concept of a ‘bonus point’ has gotten out of hand.

Mercurial n 1 : of, relating to, or born under the planet Mercury
2 : having qualities of eloquence, ingenuity, or thievishness attributed to the god Mercury or to the influence of the planet Mercury
3 : characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood [a mercurial temper]
4 : of, relating to, containing, or caused by mercury
synonym see INCONSTANT

Saturday, November 11, 2006

to get to the other side

Is it a joke, or a incredibly philosophical debate? Why did the chicken cross the road? It was at a cross road in life, and it had to make a decision. Only to someone who is incredibly afraid, say a chicken, would crossing the road be considered a big decision. And yet, we all have our roads to cross, be we chickens, hamsters, raccoons, or humans. But we are what we are, and we will cross our roads each, individually (asides from those of us helping old ladies cross), in order to get to the other side. Just like it was a big decision for the chicken, and i admire him for making it, it is a big decision for each of us as we approach the road that we have to cross.

But you, apperantly, have had your arrival coincide with an awakening of the senses, or something to that ilk. You are either amazed by the enormity of the road ahead, or decidedly happy that it seems nothing more than a short juant. Perhaps you are blinded by the commotion on said road and are wondering where in the heck there is an opening for you to cross. You look up, there's no traffic signals to help forge an opening for you. To your front you see people and things moving so quickly and you wonder how you can enter such a fray without damaging yourself by being hit. Hard now doubly so because of your vision imperment due to the commotion.

To your left and right are other people who have yet to cross the road. Everyone has something different on the other side, but like you, they cannot see it through the fray of traffic. Some are just arriving, some have been here for a while. One gentleman in particular you notice, he seems to have a crowd around him, and he is speaking loudly, mostly to be heard over the noise from the road traffic. "Oh yeah, I'm going today." He shouts. "No need to worry about the traffic, I've scouted it out and I'm making my move today." He's been saying that for days, but others like you, who have just arrived, believe him upon hearing him this first time.

Others you see walk up to the road and upon rationalizing turn and walk back, deciding to cross the road at another time. And yet others, walk up and don't even pause before they decide to cross and enter the traffic.

The final group of people are those who are exiting the street onto your side. You walk up to one and ask them how it was. "No big deal," they reply. "Just a matter of getting your feet moving." And they walk away. Knowing that there will be another road for them to cross, but crossing the first is the hardest, or so it would seem.

And so you look down at your feet. Move your glance up to the road. Look down once again at your feet, and get them going.

happy trails.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

damaged goods

So I'm flipping channels late last night and I catch The Score, to find out some hockey scores. For some reason Centre Ice and NBA pass weren't working last night, so I didn't get to see most of the games. Anyways, The Score had WWE Raw on, and they were doing something, I don't know, I was reading their ticker at the bottom of the screen. Then I hear Jim Ross or Jerry the King Lawler start yelling about somebody coming down the ramp to interfere with a match, I think one of them said "What's K-Fed doing here?" My ears perked up, I looked at the screen and low and behold, Kevin Federline was attacking John Cena. "Weird", I thought.

And then just now I read this. Coincidence?

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A court spokeswoman says Britney Spears has filed for divorce from rapper-dancer Kevin Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.

eponym n 1 : one for whom or which something is or is believed to be named
2 : a name (as of a drug or a disease) based on or derived from an eponym

Friday, November 03, 2006

how do i get started?

…said the brochure. Was it speaking as me or was it speaking to me?

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I mean, go up to a guy who’s standing on a soapbox and ask him “what would you do if you had nothing to say?”

Maybe he’d answer, “I’d talk about how I have nothing to say.”

This is pretty much what I’m doing right about now.

Just finished reading the curious incident of the dog in the night time by Mark Haddon, again.

Didn’t remember most of it, probably because it was an easy read and then after a while I thought maybe it was because I had a train of thought similar to what Haddon was describing at times and then I realized that I don’t remember most of my thoughts and I thought perhaps that my thoughts thought that what Haddon wrote were my thoughts and that’s why I forgot most of what happened in the book.

I really do what to read more, and I really want to say that less.

Here’s something I haven’t done in a while. Get back to basics.

Pith (noun) 1 a : a usually continuous central strand of spongy tissue in the stems of most vascular plants that probably functions chiefly in storage b : any of various loose spongy plant tissues that resemble true pith c : the soft or spongy interior of a part of the body
2 a : the essential part : core b : substantial quality (as of meaning)
3 : importance