Monday, October 20, 2008

Arrrgh. We still passionately loathe you, Seth Meyers

This is about Hofstra's football nightmare, not one endured by Fake Seth Meyers. Sigh.

If you’re like me (I’m sorry) then you spent your childhood wolfing down the Matt Christopher sports books and learning that hard work and humility triumphed over the bad guys every single time. The Christopher books eventually beget various good-guys-win books purchased via the East School book club which eventually beget a real-life appreciation of the underdog.

I didn’t see the U.S. Olympic ice hockey team shock the big, bad Russians in 1980—actually, nobody saw it live, imagine that—but I remember walking around school chanting “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” One of the great memories of my youth is begging and pleading my parents to let me stay up and watch the 1983 NCAA Tournament championship game between North Carolina State and Houston, won, of course, at the buzzer by N.C. State when Lorenzo Charles dunked Dereck Whittenburg’s air ball. Two years later, Villanova truly scored one for good over evil by shocking Georgetown with The Perfect Game.

Of course, as you get older, you realize that life isn’t as neat and tidy as it is in fiction and that the bad guys quite often win. And if you didn’t know this, dear Hofstra fan, you sure as hell learned it in 2006.

(Of course, if you’re a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, you’re thinking today that reality does match fiction. But you’re probably also a front-runner. Once baseball season is over, you can start watching the Tennessee Titans!)

The point of all this: We were reminded again this weekend, at Defiantly Dutch HQ, that the bad guys win most of the time as injury-wracked Flying Dutchmen football team lost to Maine 41-40 in double overtime (recap from the Bangor newspaper), Northwestern destroyed Purdue 48-26 and moved into the top 25 in the coaches poll and Big Fat Stupidhead Seth Meyers continued to raise his profile on a suddenly resurgent Saturday Night Live.

It’s not right, you know. Hofstra should have begun its inspiring, let’s-do-it-in-spite-of-Fake-Seth-Meyers run to the I-AA national championship by knocking off Maine, especially after the Flying Dutchmen fell behind 13-0 less than three minutes into the game and came back to take a 17-13 lead before a spate of injuries—including the worst-case yet almost unavoidable scenario involving Cory Christopher—forced Dave Cohen to rebuild the offense on the fly.

Christopher, who had taken every snap this season because his only backups were freshmen Steve Probst and Joe Sidaris, both of whom Dave Cohen hoped to redshirt, was hurt in the second quarter and replaced by Probst (who can probably now look forward to a redshirt season in 2009). Running backs Brock Jackolski, the freshman whiz kid, and Justine Buries, the grad student and former New Mexico State player, were also hurt.

Yet Probst (135 yards and three TDs passing, 63 yards rushing) directed a game-tying drive early in the fourth quarter and the Flying Dutchmen created a miracle turnover in the final minute—freshman Chris Edmond, who made a team-high 13 tackles, stripped Maine quarterback Mike Brusko of the ball at the six-yard-line following an 18-yard gain and Ray McDonough recovered it—to force overtime.

Probst threw two TDs in overtime, but Roger Williams missed the PAT following the second score and Maine scored on the first play of its second possession and nailed the subsequent PAT to win it for the Black Bears.

The loss was doubly disappointing for the Flying Dutchmen because a win would have catapulted them into a tie atop the CAA North with New Hampshire. Of course, there are no playoff berths for winning one half of the CAA. Nor do I have any misconceptions of Hofstra’s season lasting beyond Nov. 22, especially with three top 20 teams still awaiting the Flying Dutchmen in November. But still, to be in first place in the North more than halfway through the season—and with a winnable game against reeling Delaware coming up Saturday—would have been a pleasant surprise given the given the rebuilding nature of this season.

The rebuilding just got a little steeper, as well, if Christopher is out for an extended period of time. While it was encouraging to see (or, in this case, read) Probst acquit himself well off the bench, Dave Cohen and offensive coordinator David Patenaude have a pretty big challenge in figuring out what to do over the final five games.

The Flying Dutchmen haven’t really established an identity on offense. The only player to carry the ball more than 20 times in a game has been Christopher, and we all saw how that worked out. Yet the staff has been reluctant to overwork Jackolski (understandable, since he appeared headed for a redshirt year himself two months ago) and Everett Benjamin, who played well after moving to tailback from fullback Saturday and scored the go-ahead TD in the second OT, has exceeded 11 carries just three times in his first 19 collegiate games.

Cohen surely doesn’t want to burn another redshirt, so the goal should be to keep Probst upright (and, perhaps, to scour campus to see if someone wants to walk on and hand the ball off if something happens to Probst) and hope that he develops chemistry in a hurry with receivers Ottis Lewis and Anthony Nelson, who caught 11 of Probst’s 14 completions.

It probably won’t result in a return to the Gardi-era shootouts, or allow us to get the last laugh at Fake Seth Meyers. But at this point, the goal for the Flying Dutchmen should be to get into 2009 in one piece—or as close to it as possible.

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1 comment:

Cake Sitter said...

It frightens us how much we're like you (at least in the Matt Christopher regard). It's also amazing that Matt Christopher (upstate Syracuse and GE represent!) is still writing children's sports books, despite having departed this mortal coil 11 years ago. I'm very much alive and can only imagine ever thinking about approaching his prolific output.