Monday, October 23, 2006

Safety first

More to come Monday night and Tuesday, but I quickly wanted to tackle the safety issues, which is still being debated on the message boards.

When it happened, I was torn. I knew it was a gutsy call, but I had a pit in my stomach about giving Florida State a chance to win outright. In fact when they went to review of the final play, I was sure we were going to lose the call and the game.

Now, under calmer circumstances, I will say it is one of the gutsiest calls of the TOB era and the right one. We’ve lost on fluke, low percentage plays in the past. We’ve also been lucky to escape two overtimes. Although they are all independent events, would you want to bet that we would win another OT game or lose again on a late, deep ball? Winning OTs and losing on flukes just can't keep happening. So as Coach TOB should reduce the chance of both.

TOB also said that his team was gassed.

So the safety:
1. Eats time via the non-kick and then the free kick from the 20
2. Takes the blocked punt out of play
3. Improves field position
4. Gives FSU two shots at the endzone instead of the four they might have had with the extra time

If this had backfired TOB would have been vilified. So he deserves credit for making the right call. If we win out, it will certainly be called a turning point in the season and maybe even in his career.


LAEagle said...

It was certainly an interesting call and I did not expect it. (I was however gearing myself up for the blocked punt). I thought Ayers could have taken more time as FSU wasn't all that aggressive on the rush. Still, giving FSU a realistic chance at winning the game was scary. We had 5 guys around the only receiver in the area and he still almost made the catch. At least Anan was in a lot better position than he was against NCST.

Thought we got a little to conservative with the lead. Having a hobbled QB certainly didn't help. The bootleg with the Tight End drag would have been a nice play to run on that last 3rd down.

Still - hard to complain about a win at FSU. Still a long way to go (Wake Forest and MD could be a repeat of NCST - too close for too long and then anything can happen). But I'm booking a hotel room in Jacksonville just in case!

NYC Eagle said...

Was also torn and horrified at the prospect of losing outright. The season would have been over if it didn't work: gotta figure that Ryan would've opted for surgery this week if we lost.

BC controls its BCS destiny. Pretty amazing, especially considering the malaise after the NC State loss.

Bottom line is that TOB deserves a TON of credit. Beating FSU and V-Tech in back-to-back weeks is something I thought was far beyond his abilities a few weeks ago.

Its been a fun season. The team has been exciting and entertaining group to watch. One of the more enjoyable aspects has been watching these guys grow as a team, and that includes a historically conservative coach who made a gutsy call down in Doak. It was an informed decision that weighed the risks and he deserves credit for making it.

Go Eagles. And please sit Ryan for Buff. The kid needs to heal a bit.

DC Eagle said...

I was pretty shocked by the call, but was immediately reminded of the historical account of Frank Leahy's 1940 team at the end of the Georgetown game. "With just seconds remaining, BC had the ball on their own nine, fourth down and 18 to go. Georgetown set up to return the Eagles’ punt. Instead of punting, Chalrie O’Rourke scrambled in his own end zone for 45 seconds then took a safety." Grantland Rice called the "Greatest Game Ever Played". Anyway, that brings me to my question.

I think the call was gutsy and the right one, and I am not criticizing the coach, the call, or Ayers -- especially Ayers as I would guess he has never done that before.

But I wondered whether his dance in the endzone should have lasted more than 8 seconds. It seemed like he ran right out, and maybe could have reversed direction and made it last longer. Now, I doubt that Charlie O'Rourke's 45 second dance could have been replicated, but given that a safety occures when a player:

- is tackled in his own end zone;
- runs out of bounds in or behind the end line of his own end zone;
- fumbles the ball out of bounds in the end zone or across the end line;
- downs (kneels or falls on) the ball in the end zone (an intentional safety);
- commits certain penalties, such as holding or intentional grounding, in the end zone;

why step out, why not just keep running until you get tacked, and burn as much time as possible?

Any thoughts?

Deacon Drake said...

I believe the punter's instructions on that play are to retreat from pressure as quickly as possible, and at all costs avoid being hit where he could possibly fumble (he's a punter, remember, not a RB). If FSU had brought less pressure, I'm sure Ayers would have run off an extra few seconds.

The Georgetown scenario worked so well because back then teams set up to return kicks more often than trying to block them. I don't think Ayers is running aways from any FSU athletes.

It was absolutely the correct call. Had TOB punted from the end zone and FSU returned it inside the 30, the defense would have been forced to play straight (see: NC St) instead of dropping to protect the end zone. Impressive aggressive decision from a guy that would usually play that situation straight up.

ATL_eagle said...

Ayers danced right until someone got near him. It is the right call. You don't want him fumbling or getting killed for two extra seconds.