All apologies to loyal Birddog readers today. Monday is when I’m supposed to post my OMG awesome game breakdown, but it’s going to be a little late this week. I usually prepare it on Sunday, but a small bit of family drama kept that from happening yesterday. No worries, though; after a diligent neighborhood sign-posting campaign, we did in fact find the owner of the big black German Shepherd that wandered into our backyard on Saturday afternoon. With this being a quasi-bye week, there shouldn’t be a problem with the weekly routine if I slide a day or two.
Maybe it’s for the best, anyway. It isn’t like any of you are interested in breaking down the game right now. No, the topic on everyone’s mind is quarterbacks, and it’d probably be a waste of time to address anything else. You guys wouldn’t pay any attention to it. So let’s look at some things that have been said so far:
“I would have to say its now time to give the kid the start. He not only brought the crowd to its feet but also gave the D some newfound spirit and life and led what may have been the most impressive comeback in many years.”
“I don’t have as much fear of mistakes when he is in… I know ones gut is not always correct, but I have to say that I now have a ‘Good, Dobbs is in.’ reaction when I see him play.”
“In college ball, where each player has a four year window and lineups change year to year, how much time do you spend trying to coach out potential before you go in another direction? Jarod is not a long term investment. 1 more year and he is done, gone. How fair is it to the rest of the program. He should be dominating by now. It’s not as if he is surounded by untalented players. He should be making better decisions. Fakes and Playaction should be more sharp. And under no circumstances should a defensive player crawl on hands and knees right in front of his eyes for five feet and record a sack without the option quarterback on the number 1 rushing offense in the country take one step to avoid the sack. It would not hurt at this point to give Ricky the ball and show us what he can do in a real game as the Navy QB.”
“Who looks more confident?
Who looks and runs stronger?
Whos pitches looked better?
Who looked in control?”
“I still don’t understand why Ricky can’t start and show us what he can do. …It comes down to who you think is the better QB. To me, it seems that Ricky has better instincts and is more “crisp.” Even though Jarod has been doing well, I would not second guess a Dobbs start if only to assess what we have. If he doesn’t do well against a defense with fresh legs and Jarod comes in in the second quarter and tears it up, I would consider the issue resolved and Jarod should get all the starts. It just seems that you are totally sold that Jarod is the better QB and 100% against giving Dobbs a start.”
Don’t bother sifting through the haiku thread. You won’t find those comments. Those things were said last year; swap out Jarod and Ricky with Kaipo and Jarod:
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
It sure does. And that’s just what was written here back in the infancy of this blog. It was the same elsewhere, and it had been that way since Kaipo took over for Brian Hampton the year before. “He gives the team a spark! He comes from a good high school program! He just knows how to win! He’s a better passer than Kaipo! What more do we need to see? If only Jarod would just get his chance.” Etcetera, etcetera. All the same platitudes you see now. People saw what happened when Jarod came in late in games, ran a package of plays specifically designed for him, and led the team on improbable comebacks. What happened in practice didn’t matter; Jarod was making it happen at game time. If you didn’t see it, then you were just being too loyal!
My point here is not that Jarod Bryant should be starting at quarterback instead of Ricky Dobbs. Indeed, the offense under Bryant this year has struggled far more than it ever did under Kaipo in ’06 and ’07, although people apparently thought that the offense was a real bucket of suck at the time. Hell, I was Jarod Bryant’s biggest critic then, just as I was earlier this year. Jarod struggled against Notre Dame too, especially in the counter option (which I’m sure the A-backs will tell you). There’s no doubt that Ricky has tools we’re all excited to see (don’t quote that out of context please), and if he starts, then great. I don’t have a problem with that, and frankly I had to bite my tongue to keep from calling for it after the Air Force game.
My problem isn’t with the idea that Ricky is a better option right now. My problem is with the arguments that people are using to support this conclusion. Maybe Ricky is the better choice than Jarod, maybe not. But some people are seeing what they want to see, which only serves to pile unreasonable expectations on Ricky.
It’s hard, but try to separate yourself from the emotion of such a crazy game and look at what actually happened. Saying “if Ricky starts, we win the game” is, frankly, crap. Dobbs came in at the end of the third quarter against Notre Dame’s first-teamers and promptly started going three & out just like Jarod did. Once Notre Dame put in their backups, then Ricky was able to put a drive together. But even that wasn’t really a drive; it was a 4-yard run, a pass to Tyree, a 15 yard penalty, and a pitch to Shun. That’s it. And all against a second string defense playing prevent. That, plus the pass to Tyree on the next posession, does not erase what happened when Dobbs was facing the same conditions Jarod did. Just like we aren’t able to go an entire game against a competent defense running the special packages called for Jarod last year, the Mids aren’t going to win by throwing for 300 yards and running nothing but quarterback keepers with Ricky in there. You may not want to hear it, but practice matters.
This isn’t meant to take anything away from Ricky. Actually, this is more of a preemptive defense. I say this in the hopes that there are some of you who aren’t already too far gone to be objective, and who might be able to reevaluate a few things. People are treating Ricky like he’s the savior of the offense, which is only going to set him up for failure. Putting Ricky in won’t make the tackles more experienced. It won’t make the perimeter blocking any better. And he won’t magically understand the offense better than he does in practice. When the “change the quarterback” panacea falls through, then what? Fire the coaches? You might think that’s ridiculous, but grumbling about the coaching staff has already begun. Bad game plans! Change the play calling! Yeah, OK.
I expect Ricky to start next Tuesday. Hopefully he’s awesome. If not, then brace for the meltdown.