Monday, September 24, 2007

The Tao of Joe

I have officially come to an impasse in my career as a PSU fan. It came to me during the 4th quarter of the game on Saturday. I was sitting there, in Michigan Stadium, wondering what actual plans had been changed/adapted/amended during the course of the game. I was looking at the score, the futility, the rage of the fans surrounding me. And for the first time, I seriously asked myself the question, "Does Joe have to go?". I curse myself for even typing those words.

The Art of War is a compilation of quotes from famous Chinese warriors, compiled by Sun Tzu over 2000 years ago. Many of the quotes are obvious, many are subtle. Some are just downright creepy when you apply them to the PSU offense and the game on Saturday.

Figure 1-1: Ancient Wisdom Ignored

"Without deception, you cannot carry out strategy. Without strategy, you cannot control the opponent."
-Mei Yaochen

Quite simply, if your enemy knows what is coming, you can't win. Maybe this is the reason we won our first few meetings with this team and haven't won since. They recognize what we are doing, and know what works to stop us. Thus, we cannot control Michigan.

A prime example of this: we run on first down, usually up the middle. We don't throw over the middle too often with this QB. Early on in a road game, we will not take a risk.

"Determining changes as appropriate, do not repeat former strategies to gain victory."
Li Quan

"Those skilled in military operations are able to change their formations in such a way as to ensure victory based on the actions of opponents"

"Don't let the enemy know where you will clash, for if they know they will mass their strength to resist you."
Wang Xi

See above. Our offense did not adapt, and relied on previous strategies.

"If they are alert on their eastern flank, strike on their western flank. Lure them on from the front, strike them from behind."
Du Mu

Hit them where they are weak. Play action on first down, go deep over the middle.

This is just some of the wisdom that has been available for over 2000 years that we choose to ignore.

I do not wish to denigrate the defense-to me, when the offense turns over the ball on your 10 yard line, it is extremely difficult to stop the other team from scoring. The defense also bailed us out near the end of the first with a great pick by Davis. I thought they played well enough to give our offense a shot at winning this game.

I do not wish to denigrate the special teams. Our defense is stout, yet we opted to punt instead of going for a 48 yard field goal. Punts and kickoff coverage was good enough to give our offense a chance to win the game.

I know Joe's philosophy is defense first, then special teams, then the offense. I question this now. What if your defense can stop their offense 9 out of 10 times, but the offense is ineffective? You lose.

I don't know what to think now. My heart truly goes out to those seniors who played their asses off on Saturday. Yes, we got screwed with some bad calls. So what? We were in their redzone 4 times and only got 9 points.

Does Joe go? I don't think I can clearly make this decision right now while being so conflicted.

Some other game notes:
-while driving in the third quarter, a wide open Williams only caught a pass for 12 yards. If hit in stride, he was gone, a la Chafie Fields against Miami.
-When we hit the red zone, i noticed that Quarless was being subbed out. This absolutely confounds me.
-From my vantage point in the endzone, Hart did not score, and Scott did not fumble. Still waiting to rewatch the game tonight.
-Running a fullback draw on 2nd and 10 is not a good idea. Ever.
-Michigan Stadium badly needs renovations. Especially when it comes to restrooms and concessions.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the polite Michigan fans. There were the token jerks in the stand, but many shook my hand in the stadium and wished us well. That is winning with class, and I thank them for showing us guests a good time.

Coming Tomorrow: Some tailgating hijinx.

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