IoT’s Power Rankings: Week 4

September 30, 2009
Running back Josh Oglesby and the Hokies pull ahead of Miami and into first place in the Instead of Texting Power Rankings this week. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Running back Josh Oglesby and the Hokies pull ahead of Miami and into first place in the Instead of Texting Power Rankings this week. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Let’s take a little trip in the Wayback Machine, shall we?

Set the dial to Sept. 23, 2009. Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were the toppermost of the poppermost. President Barack Obama was trying to figure out that Afghan War. People actually still thought/doubted that government-provided health insurance could work.

And ACC Commissioner John Swofford had the football conference he’d been dreaming of for more than five years. Leading the conference was a Floridian first tier, ready to storm the upper reaches of the AP and USA Today polls. A stalwart Virginia Tech team stood ready to challenge the Sunshine Staters. A few steps behind were some frisky-looking contenders (North Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech). Most of the remainders were looking ready for basketball.

Ah, those were the days. But things have changed. VT reclaimed the throne by undressing the Miami Hurricanes. Florida State continued to baffle by losing at home to a South Florida team led by a first-time starter at quarterback. Georgia Tech drilled UNC and Clemson lost at home to 15th-ranked Texas Christian.

Maybe some day Swoff-daddy will get the ACC he sought with the 2004 expansion. Not today.

On to the rankings.

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Useful yardage

September 29, 2009
Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott in happier times, running against Cal in a 2008 win. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott in happier times, running against Cal in a 2008 win. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Three feet is three feet. All yards are equal.

But in football, as in Animal Farm, some rushing yards are more equal than others.

No ACC running back illustrates that better than Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott.

Scott looks like one of the better running backs in the ACC. Through four games, he’s fourth in the conference in rushing, with 297 yards. He’s averaging more than 5.7 yards per carry, third among ACC backs with at least 45 carries. Scott has put up two 100-yard games in the season’s first four weeks.

Look a little deeper, though, and it’s clear Scott’s not as effective as his standard statistics suggest. Scott is a classic boom-and-bust back. Nearly 40% of his season yardage total came from just three carries.

Scott’s success rate better illustrates his true value this season.

My definition of “success” is a derivative of the one used at footballoutsiders.com: a carry is successful if it (a.) gains at least 40% of needed yards on first down, (b.) gains at least 60% of needed yards on second down, (c.) converts a first down on third or fourth down or (d.) yields a first down or touchdown, under any circumstances.

Scott’s success rate is 36.5%, the second-lowest among conference running backs averaging at least 10 carries per game:

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Week 4 Roundup: Hokies are still “the man”

September 27, 2009
Virginia Tech DB Dorian Porch sacked Jacory Harris and forced him to fumble early in the first quarter, marking the start of a long day for the Miami quarterback. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia Tech DB Dorian Porch sacked Jacory Harris and forced him to fumble early in the first quarter, marking the start of a long day for the Miami quarterback. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

One of the great philosophers of our time is fond of saying, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man!” After thoroughly dismantling upstart Miami 31-7, Virginia Tech has proven it’s still the man … er, team to beat … in the ACC.

The Hurricanes were the team everyone, including this guy, was talking about in the run up to Saturday’s showdown. A win over VT would have given the ‘Canes victories over the three best teams on their conference schedule and put them into position to run away with the Coastal Division. Instead, the Hokies reminded everyone why they’ve been kings of the ACC ever since they joined the conference.

The game was vintage Beamerball. DB Dorian Porch sacked Miami QB Jacory Harris on the ‘Canes first possession and forced him to fumble at his own 11, setting up the Hokies’ first touchdown. With the score 14-0 in the second quarter, Jacob Sykes blocked a punt that Matt Reidy recovered and walked into the end zone. The offense rushed for 272 yards, and the defense harassed Harris all day, something Florida State and Georgia Tech couldn’t do.

Between VT’s win and Georgia Tech’s 24-7 victory over North Carolina, the Coastal Division looks like it’s going to stay a four-team race for a while. But until someone knocks them off, the Hokies are still “the man.”

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Live Blogging: Miami at Virginia Tech

September 26, 2009

We’re back with our third live game blog of the season. Like the first two, this one involves Miami. Unlike the first two, this one is on a Saturday, and Jimmy isn’t on the other end of the Interweb to share his thoughts.

My partner in crime is in Greenville today watching a vastly inferior game (Central Florida at East Carolina) with vastly superior company (his girlfriend, Megan, who’s doing her part to promote football harmony between the sexes).

Jimmy will be checking in every once in a while via text message. And no, the irony of using texting as a mode of communication for a Web site called Instead of Texting has not been lost on me.

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Ranking Miami

September 26, 2009
AP voters still seem confused about where to rank Graig Cooper and Miami, even after their impressive win last week over Georgia Tech.

As a group, AP voters seemed confused about where to rank Graig Cooper and Miami after their impressive win last week over Georgia Tech. (Getty Images/Doug Benc)

Jimmy and I meant to do some more posting earlier in the week. Unfortunately, events conspired against us, but I thought it was important to put up this entry today — even if I am writing it a couple of hours before Miami and Virginia Tech kick off.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises has been drawing a lot of attention this week for the unique methodology he uses to fill out his AP ballot. Essentially, Lesmerises throws out any preconceived notions about how good a team should be and focuses on results.

Some, me included, would argue that Lesmerises is simply doing what an AP voter is supposed to do. However, many people are critical of the approach because he takes a lot of extreme positions. For example, his most recent ballot had Florida at No. 5 (the lowest ranking for the defending national champion), Houston at No. 3 (the Cougars were left off seven ballots this week) and Miami at No. 2.

That last one got me thinking about where the Hurricanes stand in the national rankings. Miami ended up ninth in this week’s AP poll, but there’s nothing close to a consensus among voters about just how good they are.

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Gameday Links

September 26, 2009

It should be an interesting Saturday in the ACC’s Coastal Division, where the top four teams are playing each other. Here are a few links to whet your appetite for North Carolina-Georgia Tech, Miami-Virginia Tech and the other games on the schedule:


Instead of Texting Pick’em: Week 4

September 25, 2009

As strange as it might seem this early in the season, the Coastal Division race faces a pivotal moment this weekend.

Virginia Tech, the preseason favorite to win the ACC, and Miami, the hottest team in the conference (and maybe the country), square off in Blacksburg on Saturday. After their first two wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes could run away with the division if they can knock off the Hokies this weekend. Both of us think VT won’t let that happen. That should probably make Miami fans happy since I’ve picked against the 2-0 ‘Canes in their other two games.

Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets are trying to avoid falling into a big hole in the division when they face undefeated North Carolina. The Ramblin’ Wreck has looked like a wreck in its last three halves of football, so Jimmy and I are each taking the Tar Heels.

As for the Instead of Texting picks race, Jimmy extended his lead to two games last week (thank you again, Miami). I’ve got a chance to break even with a couple of games this week — or fall even further behind.

Jimmy’s Picks
(23-7)
Jeremy’s Picks
(21-9)
North Carolina
at Georgia Tech
North Carolina North Carolina
South Florida
at Florida State
Florida State Florida State
Wake Forest
at Boston College
Boston College Wake Forest
Miami at Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
TCU at Clemson TCU Clemson
Rutgers at Maryland Rutgers Rutgers
Pittsburgh at N.C. State N.C. State N.C. State
N.C. Central at Duke Duke Duke
Virginia vs. Bye Bye Bye