A Game That Coaches Should Like

Ohio State spanked the Miami RedHawks today, winning 56-10.  It was the kind of game that probably is a coach’s dream — a comfortable win, but chock full of errors that will keep players and coaches focused on improvement.

The Buckeyes scored 35 points in a row to put the game away.  They got a special teams touchdown, a good thing for a team looking to significantly improve its special teams play.  Ohio State racked up 244 yards through the air and ran a lot of passing plays involving a lot of players.  Braxton Miller had some great runs, and Devin Smith made one of the most unbelievable catches I’ve ever seen from a Buckeye receiver.  The defense had two picks and held Miami — admittedly  a pure passing team — to -1 yard on the ground.  The back-up quarterback, Kenny Guiton, played significant minutes and looked comfortable running the offense.  And no one got hurt, aside from Miller’s cramps.

At the same time, the coaches will have a lot of negatives to point out.  The Buckeyes offense sputtered early — OSU trailed, 3-0, after the first quarter — and the offensive line looked shaky at times, giving up a number of sacks.  The defense allowed more than 300 yards through the air and had some breakdowns early that produced huge Miami gains.  Many Miami drives were stopped by its receivers dropping catchable balls , rather than rugged defensive plays by the Buckeyes.

Pulverizing an overmatched team doesn’t mean a whole lot, but I liked what I saw during the last three quarters of the game.  I liked the hurry-up, I liked the mix of plays, and I liked the athleticism and skills of the players being showcased by Meyer’s new system.  Today was an eminently acceptable start to the Urban Meyer era.

The Joys And Challenges Of Sprucing Things Up

Since retiring, my first order of business has been to spruce up things around the house.  Years of two boys and their friends and three dogs have resulted in lots of wear and tear.  Walls are marked and dented, kitchen cabinets are coming off their hinges, and sofa upholstery is paper thin and in some spots exposing cushions underneath.   So yes . . . we need to spruce things up!

I have one friend who finds decorating her home the ultimate in enjoyment. She sometimes uses commercial breaks on TV to do a quick room rearranging.  Alas, I find it nothing but angst-producing.  I know I don’t have OCD, but when it comes to making decisions such as these, I somehow feel I just might after all . . . .

Let’s start with paint colors.   I’m going with neutrals, nothing fancy.  But there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of shades of beige, white and grays (my “color theme”) at Benjamin Moore.  They all look ever-so-similar to me, yet I am advised by my decorator friend and the helpful Benjamin Moore gentleman that they differ greatly!  How did I miss that!?  Some have shades of blue, some a dollop of gray, others undertones of pink.  Pick the wrong one and I might have an unseemly battle of undertones/overtones going on in my very own living room.

So, I pull the color wheel out and break into a cold sweat.  I lean it against the wall, the carpeting, the sofa, the napping dogs.  It doesn’t matter:  the colors all look the same to me.

The only reasonable solution, of course,  is to rely on names.  What’s in a name?   For me, at the moment, everything.

But that brings on a whole new layer of angst.  I think I’ve found a good shade of gray, but the name is Bleecker Beige!  So, I leave Bleecker Beige in the dust to look for other color names.  Boothbay Gray — as you know, I love Maine, so that’s good, right?  Coastal Fog — I love what that evokes, but really not sure about the color itself.  Edgecomb Gray — what is Edgecomb?  I certainly need to know before I pick it.  Gunpowder Gray — I like it, but that’s way too NRA/political for me.  Creamy white — that sounds boring beyond belief, even for my neutral tastes.  Who comes up with these names?   I want to apply for that job.

And then, I’m told, there’s the “light.”  You have to look at the paint colors during different times of day to see what they’re doing.  I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and walking downstairs to see how Coastal Fog looks at 3 a.m.  (It looked beige.)

Argh!  These are decisions I will live with for years.  I know these problems aren’t so enormous that I should ask you to put me on your prayer chain or anything, but my head is about to explode right now.

After all is said and done, I know the outcome …. I will pick bland, boring choices.  I will love that heavily patterned sofa fabric but be terrified that once I see it on my own sofa, it will look like a bad ’70s nightmare.  Our house will look fine, perhaps lovely even, and my mind can move on to societal things that are far more important.  And, as even Martha Stewart might agree, “that’s a good thing.”

A former colleague once told me that home ownership, in all its variations, is the craft project that never ends.  That’s true, but I really am looking forward to this chapter, at least, drawing to a close.

Go Get ‘Em, Weber State!

This year I’ll be rooting for a new football team, the Weber State Wildcats.

I’ll be pulling for the Wildcats because Ted Stanley is an assistant coach there, and he deserves a break.  Ted is juggling his new job as a coach with an even newer job as a single father, of daughter Emmerson, while at the same time dealing with the recent loss of his wife Jocelyn.  Her death is still intensely painful for those of us who were fortunate to be her friends and colleagues.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for Ted — but, knowing Ted, I am sure that he is approaching the challenges with a positive attitude, because that’s just the way he is.  The Salt Lake Tribune recently carried an article about Ted, Emmerson, and Jocelyn that tells their story.

Many of us sports fans intuitively believe that the lucky bounce of the ball, the sudden gust of wind or the other random occurrences that can affect the outcome of games are the work of whimsical, capricious sports gods lurking somewhere above.  If that is the case, I’m hoping those gods know Ted and Emmerson’s story and let the ball bounce Weber State’s way this year.

Weber State, which plays in the Big Sky conference, starts its season tonight at 10 p.m. against Fresno State.  Go Wildcats!

Anticipation And Expectation In Buckeye Nation

At noon today, the Ohio State Buckeyes kick off their 2013 season in soggy Columbus.  The opponent is the Miami RedHawks, and Buckeye fans are looking for an old-fashioned butt-kicking to try to wash away the sooty taste of last year’s disasters.

In Buckeye Nation, expectation and anticipation is high.  Last year’s distractions and constant NCAA issues are over.  An interim head coach has been replaced by a fiery, demanding taskmaster who has already won two national championships.  Urban Meyer clearly has made some significant attitudinal and cultural changes in the Ohio State program — including a new, interactive pre-game routine between players and students that will debut today — and all signs indicate that the changes are for the better.  From watching Meyer and his staff, you get the impression that they will do whatever it takes (within the boundaries of propriety and NCAA regulations, of course) to win.

The team has some real talent, particularly on the defensive side.  Defensive linemen John Simon, a never-say-quit force of nature, and huge, quick Johnathan Hankins anchor what should be one of the best Buckeye front fours in years.  We’ll be needing them to disrupt opposing offenses, because the linebacking corps is a bit thin and unproven, although Ryan Shazier showed great promise and heart in his freshman year last year.  The defensive backfield features cornerback Bradley Roby and hard-hitting safety Orhian Johnson.  This is a defense that will focus on forcing turnovers, something the Buckeyes didn’t do much of last year, while avoiding the big plays that plagued last year’s unit.

On the offensive side of the ball, a lot rides on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller.  Miller showed real flashes of brilliance last year — but mostly with his feet, on some stunning runs where it looked like the opposing team was trying to tackle a ghost.  Miller also will have some good running backs in the backfield with him, with Carlos Hyde likely to get a lot of the carries.  The Buckeyes’ air attack, on the other hand, was dismal.  If Ohio State is to take significant steps forward this season, Miller needs to take a quantum leap forward in his passing mechanics and his receivers need to hold on to the ball.  We should start, at least, to get a sense of that today.

It’s officially September, and I’m ready for some football!