Posted by Frazier
Well, it's time to look back at those preseason prognostications, and see how we at the323 did this year. There are some calls that we are real proud of, and others we couldn't possibly have been more wrong about. Of course, no one ever gets it totally right, and we're going to work to improve next year. So, we're starting our review by looking back on the teams we chose to underachieve this year. Let's see how clear, or cloudy, the crystall ball was:
Frazier's Five Down
Analysis: Well, let's see. The Tigers went 8-5, and handed Kentucky their first bowl win in 22 years. They started the year ranked #18, and ended voteless. I predicted the BC, Virginia Tech and South Carolina losses. Also, my prediction of a struggling quarterback was dead-on. Proctor's 16 td's and 11 int's was a big part of the problem. Unlike his predecessor, he made zero plays with his feet. This pick gets a special bonus because it was a Tommy Bowden classic. A huge start, with people all over them, a close loss (to BC) in a game they should have won, followed by a collapse down the stretch. Textbook stuff, really.
Hit or miss: Hit, I sunk their battleship. Oh, and they're still a bunch of classless rednecks.
Analysis: This one is definitely a little trickier. The Bulldogs started the season ranked #14 in the AP and #15 by the coaches. They ended ranked #23 by the AP, and unranked by the coaches. Their 9-4 season actually ended on a real high note, with nice wins over Georgia Tech, Auburn and Virginia Tech burnishing the resume a little. However, this was still an underachieving bunch. Playing the immortal Joe T. turned out to be exactly the problem we expected, as he was less than useless. This also delayed the development of Matt Stafford, who would eventually get this team headed in the right direction. Definitely get some bonus points for predicting a strong start going 5-0, and a warning to discount the September record. If not for a season-saving win over Auburn, this could have gotten real ugly, real fast. As it was, Georgia certainly underachieved.
Hit or miss: Hit. They finished strong, but losing four of five in league play is pretty poor.
Analysis: Ugh. Yeah, I was wrong about this one. It looked for awhile like this prediction might hold up, as Florida won ugly, and seemed to struggling. Also, Chris Leak had Tebow absolutely breathing down his neck for awhile. And yet, they lost a single game, and won the national championship. I also said that they had lost some swagger in the Swamp. Well, they found it. They were swaggering all over the place as they blew out the Buckeyes.
Hit or miss: Miss. Pretty much the worst miss possible. Eating crow as we speak.
2) West Virginia
Analysis: Ok, this pick had some stipulations. My feeling was that WVU really had no excuses to lose more than one game. They did not do that. I said they would probably be favored in every game they played, and it was pretty close. I picked them to lose at least one game that they should not have, and they delivered (the South Florida game). Their defense was let them down (as predicted) in the Louisville game. And they made just enough mistakes to remove themselves from national title consideration. Yeah, they may have had a great season. But they did start the season ranked #5 in the AP and #7 in the coaches, and ranked #10 in both. So despite all the successes, it could have been a whole lot more.
Hit or miss: Nailed it. Not that it wasn't one of the best years in WVU history, but it had a chance to be historic on a national scale. They failed to live up to that potential.
1) Notre Dame
Analysis: An absolute gimme. Of course they were overrated. They started #2 in the AP and #3 in the coaches, and finished #17 and #19 respectively. Yeah, that's a plummet. I said they were fucked having to go to USC late in the year. I said Quinn, Samardzija and Zbikowski would have a lot to live up to. None of them really did. The Shark came closest, but the others pretty much shit the bed. Oh, and their defense that I completely maligned? Yeah, they may have been worse than advertised. An absolute Titanic job this season. The only thing I was wrong about was saying their schedule wouldn't be "soft". Now, it wasn't cupcake city every week, but it sure was a lot of weeks. They played three legit teams, and didn't belong on the field with any of them. If anything, I gave their offense too much credit, and I certainly didn't give Walker enough.
Hit or miss: Hit the motherfuckers between the eyes. The Irish suck. I'm tempted to just pick them for the overrated pile for next year too, since there's no hype machine like the Irish hype machine.
Overall analysis: Couldn't really be happier with these picks. I feel like I absolutely nailed 4 of the 5, so that's a very succesful rate. My only frustration is that the team I missed, I really, really missed. I vastly underrated Meyer as a coach, and the way Leak could handle all the pressure. He was never great, but he gave his team a chance. Still, this was an absolute victory. It didn't hurt that I happen to really dislike the Irish, Tigers and Bulldogs.
My grade: B+. Tempted to give myself an A, since I was really very accurate, but the Florida thing is simply too egregious. Still, no complaints.
Walter's Five Down
Analysis: Oregon started the year in the top 25 and on everyone's radar as a team that could potentially challenge USC for the Pac-10 throne.......eh not so much. In the preseason I identified two basic problem areas for the Ducks, schedule and quarterback play. The Ducks played 6 road games this season: Fresno St., Arizona St., California, Wazzou, USC, and Oregon St. Originally I predicted an 0-6 road record for the Ducks, but to my credit that was before I realized Fresno and Arizona St. would completely shit the bed this season. Still, the Ducks went 2-4 on the road and were a special teams meltdown by Fresno away from 1-5. And how about the QB situation. Well they lost Kellen Clemens who really was the rock for this team. Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf may be talented, but they did not come close to replicating Clemens' consistency or leadership. The two combined for 18 TD and 18 INT which isn't nearly good enough in the Pac-10. Bottom line, I said this team lost way too many good players to be a factor in 2006 and I was dead on.
Hit or miss: Not going to get a bigger hit than this. Even when they started out 4-0 and rose all the way to #8 in the polls I knew the Ducks were frauds. Their final 7-6 record and 38-8 thrashing at the hands of BYU during the bowl season bring one word to mind: vindication.
Analysis: Well they started the season at #23 and ended at #25, so based on numbers alone they didn't underachieve all that much. But we here at the323 like to dig deeper. Many national pundits had the Vols as a sleeper in the SEC and on the national level, and frankly, they never came close to living up to that type of hype. In the preseason analysis I said that their schedule wasn't a killer (it wasn't) and this accounts somewhat for their 9-4 record. But the bottom line is that Tennessee played three elite teams all season (Florida, LSU, Arkansas) and was outclassed in every single game. Erik Ainge was decent this year, and Robert Meachem was nothing short of spectacular, but Tennesse never struck me as a team that worried the nation's elite.
Hit or miss: Hit. The Vols never developed into any type of sleeper team for the SEC title, let alone the national title. Plus they got beat up pretty good by a mediocre Penn State team in the Outback Bowl. That loss may have saved this from being a miss. Thanks Joe Pa.
Analysis: Georgia started the year ranked #14 and ended at #23. Not a huge fall but they were an easy pick as overrated to start the season. I actually thought Georgia would have a better record than they did, but I also knew that they'd start the season on a roll and inflate their ranking before falling back to earth. The bottom line was that Georgia was way too young to be any sort of factor in 2006. In my preseason picks I slated them as a team that could stake an early claim to 2007 preseason #1. While this won't happen, the Bulldogs should be a major sleeper next year thanks to the development of Matt Stafford and an always stingy defense. Georgia looked to be in free fall for a portion of the season, but they ended the year with three wins as impressive as anyone's in the nation over Auburn, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. You can't express just how important ending the season on a positive note like that can be.
Hit or miss: Hit. Didn't go exactly as I planned, but #14 was WAY too high for the Bulldogs to open the season at.
this season. He still gets a thumbs up from the323.
Analysis: Like my esteemed co-blogger I am eating crowe for this one. In the preseason I had Florida pegged as an 8-4 team who was years away from national prominence. My exact words were: "This 2006 team looks like an 8-4 squad to me, and I would not be surprised to see Tebow take over for Leak at some point." Well, let's all once again give Urban Meyer a round of applause for the way he handled the Leak/Tebow situation. We all know Leak wasn't an ideal fit for the Meyer offense. We also know that Tebow wasn't ready to run the show himself. To be perfectly honest, without Meyer's deft control of the two, the Gators probably would have been an 8-4 team. But I, along with most, underestimated just how great a coach Urban Meyer is. He was the difference maker for this team, and I trule believe that the Gators were a 4 loss team with anyone else running the show.
Hit or miss: Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta and Sam Jackson are talking about things that are or are not in the same ballpark as giving someone a foot rub. Well not only was this miss not in the ballpark, but in Sam Jackson's words it "ain't [in] the same league, it ain't even [in] the same fucking sport."
1) Notre Dame
Analysis: Look we all know Notre Dame was overrated this year so I don't need to pat myself on the back too hard. What I will pat myself on the back for is (1) identifying their biggest deficiency in the preseason, and (2) being the first person to seriously consider Brian Brohm and Jamarcus Russell as better pro prospects than Brady Quinn. Since we'll have to wait and see on the latter (trust me, I will be proven right), lets focus on the first. In the preseason I commented that the biggest deficiency on Notre Dame would be their abolute inability to cover anybody's passing game. Furthermore, I noted that with the slate of star WR on their schedule, an undefeated season looked nearly impossible. Well check and check. Notre Dame couldn't cover anybody this year, and the three best passing games they faced (Michigan, USC and LSU) looked as if they were playing against air. Just an absolutely atrocious secondary.
Hit or miss: Do you even need to ask. Hit, big time hit.
Maybe you should think about bringing him to South
Bend to fix that atrocity you called a defense this season.
Grade: B+ as well. Same thing as my esteemed co-blogger. Enough hits to get an A (especially with Oregon leading the way), but that Florida call was way to egregious.