And that includes me.
Bill Connelly's very in depth SBNation breakdown of OSU, featured on CRFF, gave us a great look at some mind-numbing #'s and what they mean for 2013. He also blends in some opinion on his outlook for the Cowboys this season. Excellent read.
Don't misinterpret that as agreement.
Stats are dangerous things. Stats can lull you into thinking you really have a good team, even though the eye test and record say something different. Stats don't score points, cause injuries, or throw flags. Stats don't influence the weather. Stats can't tell the future. Stats happened in the past. Stats don't call plays or make decisions. The stats that truly matter are points and records. As we say in golf, there are no pictures on the scorecard.
There is SO much going on that has little or nothing to do with the stats that effects the outcome of the season, and Connelly alluded to that.
However, I'm going to take issue with several of his comments...
- "Gundy has not won many friends and has not shown the desire to care about such a thing."
This is where the first eyebrow raised.
I've had issues with some of the things Gundy has done and said, but one thing I don't question, at least from my perspective, is his integrity with the players. If a kid comes to school and buys in to the program, Coach will go to the mat for him. Great leaders are required to sometimes do things that aren't nicey-nice, but you don't become a great leader by kissing ass and conforming. Bill mentioned this, but that doesn't necessarily translate to winning friends, nor caring about it. I care about winning the RIGHT friends. I think Gundy does to. To do that, you can't be afraid of offending folks. I'm good with that.
- What the hell is "Adj W-L?"
OSU was 8-5 last year. Adjust all you want, but that don't mean shit. This stat just sounds like "Well, we should have won this game and that game, so really we should have been (insert better record)." You can say it means something for this season, with so many key players returning, but I'll speak to that in a bit.
Not so much disagreement as opinion. Not going to beat a dead horse, but I think Yurcich likes Walsh.
And, BTW, we will DEFINITELY know who the starter is going to be BEFORE August 31.
- "We basically know what we're getting from the OSU running game."
"But while the quarterback position was in flux last season, the receiving corps never totally gelled either."
"Josh Stewart was a perfectly strong possession receiver, with a 75 percent catch rate at only 12.0 yards per catch..."
First off, with RB's, would someone remind me when it was that Jeremy Smith stayed healthy for an entire season? I know he mentioned that, but then Connelly just passes on by what is arguably the biggest question mark for the team on offense.
A #1 RB who has had significant issues staying healthy, despite the fact that he was not the every down back. Behind him, an unproven, but promising backup. Behind the backup....nobody of note. That sounds like an area of concern for me.
As for the receivers, how the hell can you expect that unit to gel and be consistent with injuries, youth, and a revolving door at QB? And I'm sorry, but last time I checked it only takes 10 yards to get a first down. Averaging 12 yards per catch as a "possession' receiver is pretty damn significant, especially since your best "statistical" QB averaged less than 10yds/comp. Josh Stewart was definitely a "star" for this team, and is already one of the best in the league.
Then Connelly started talking about defense...
- "The Cowboys were strong at preventing big plays, shut drives down beautifully on passing downs, and played rather stiff defense in the red zone."
"But this was still a pretty successful defense overall, and giving up on good in the quest for great can backfire."
"(...You can't really blitz more on standard downs without risking getting gashed by the run, so it's not entirely clear to me what increased aggression will do to solve OSU's problems, as they were, from 2012.)"
This will be a long one, so stay with me.
Strong at preventing big plays? I'll give them "ok" at preventing big plays, but UT and Baylor are enough to take them out of the "strong" category.
A pretty successful defense overall? I'm not sure how 8-5 translates into a pretty successful defense with all the adulation being heaped on the offensive system's production, especially in a year when the conference as a whole was down.
What increased aggression will do to solve OSU's problems? Bill, I think you need to read this. Spencer is not talking about going all out. He has mentioned several times that OSU will try to be intelligently aggressive. Tighter coverage is a huge part of that, and most Cowboy fans will be glad to explain that too you.
Then came the comments that raised both eyebrows...
"...despite being a little leaky on standard downs, OSU got mostly strong coverage..."
"The secondary has been an OSU strength for a while, and it should more than suffice in 2013..."
Somebody didn't watch a lot of Cowboy football in 2012.
All told, the three main issues facing OSU as we prepare for their coronation as undefeated national champions on 8/30 are...
- Defensive secondary
This team has the ability to roll through their schedule. They also have the ability to throw out another 8-5 season.
And all the S&P+ and FEI adjusted stats won't have a damn thing to do with it. But they will be fun to talk about when it's done.