Smart Notes 10/28/2009

Totally unnecessary, but nevertheless, I approve. High school quarterback throws a behind the back pass to convert a two-point try. Of course, he could have just turned and thrown it to them, but where’s the fun in that? (H/t Totalsports.)

Of course, former Redskins great Sonny Jurgensen could throw behind the back passes better than most NFL quarterbacks could throw normal passes (I once saw an NFL films clip with Jurgensen taking a five-step drop and throwing fifteen yard out cuts with timing and on the money — all behind the back). Indeed, Jurgensen even completed one of those in an all-star game and once in college.

– Buckeye analysis. There’s a new, promising site dedicated to Ohio State football, modeled after the great Trojan Football Analysis, which is dedicated to Southern Cal football. One of the earliest posts is about pass protection, and it has a very good video showing the basics of how “slide” or “gap protection” works — i.e. each lineman or blocker steps to their “gap” (though shouldn’t step so fast that they let someone shoot through the space they are vacating) and block whomever tries to come through. It is a true “zone” pass protection, and its advantage is that the defense can throw whatever stunt or inside blitz it wants and the line should be able to bottle it up. Its disadvantages are that a defense can overload one side or another, the offense usually has to preassign a few potential receivers to stay in and block, and sometimes those gap assignments can result in mismatches — i.e. a runningback on a defensive lineman. Nevertheless, it is a useful protection scheme to have.

– Does replay in the SEC work? The Clarion-Ledger asked four SEC coaches what they thought. (H/t TheWiz.)

– More on the NFL and brain injuries. The questioning didn’t go so well for the NFL, though it remains unclear whether anything will come of it. The NFL especially was criticized for basically making up its own study to try and discredit the outside studies that have shown a strong link between football and brain injuries, particularly injuries taking affect in later life.

Missing from the two panels of witnesses was Dr. Ira Casson, the co-chairman of the N.F.L.’s committee, who has been criticized for discrediting outside research and for his role in the league’s study of brain injuries in retired players. Independent experts have said the study is flawed by conflicts of interest, statistical and sampling problems.

None of the three primary authors of the committee’s research — Dr. Casson and the co-chairman David Viano of Wayne State University, and Dr. Elliot Pellman, the Jets’ team physician — were present.

When asked why Dr. Casson was not present to testify, Mr. Goodell said the committee did not request him. Mr. Conyers disputed that, and an aide for Mr. Goodell handed him a note that led Mr. Goodell to say he would get back to the committee to clarify his answer.

Ms. Sánchez and Representative Anthony D. Weiner, Democrat of New York, criticized the N.F.L. committee’s continuing brain study of retired players. Independent experts have warned that the study could have negative effects on youth sports if conclusions of few risks are improperly derived.

Mr. Weiner said, “Wouldn’t it be perhaps most wise to put the brakes” on the study, and “start from scratch to try to get this right?”

“This is a worker safety thing — no different than if someone was coming off the assembly line at a production plant and 20 years later, they all had arthritis in their right knee,” he added. “We’d look at it the exact same way.”

Mr. Goodell responded: “We want you to have confidence in the study. That’s one of the reasons for 15 years we’ve been involved in this issue. We have published every piece of data in the N.F.L. We have published it publicly, we have given it to medical journals, it has been part of peer review. We don’t control those doctors. They are medical professionals. They’re scientists. They do this for a living.”

Whether or not Congress ought to do something is a deep and thorny question. But I will mention that it clearly could, and, if it did have affirmative evidence of a problem (I don’t think we’re there yet), probably should. This isn’t the BCS or some aspect central to the sport but irrelevant outside of it; assuming it was proved to be dangerous, it would be a health issue to be regulated just like other workplace safety or even dueling. That said there is an active choice aspect to this: people who wash windows of skyscrapers choose to do so and get compensated for the extra risk of death and serious injury, as do police officers who put themselves in harms way. But I do have serious doubts that the NFL is as serious as it claims about even finding out whether football is as damaging to the brain as it appears to be.

– How classy are your chants? Boiled Sports has an interesting discussion of a Purdue chant of recent vintage: “One! Two! Three! Four! First down!…. Bitch!” Unsurprisingly it has been led by the student section, but has grown to where some Boilermaker alums have said they will boycott future Purdue games. Boiled Sports chimes in with discussion on both sides here and here.

  • Neil

    I was the Head Coach of the opposing team for the behind the back pass. I was the OC at the other school last year. They were having a little fun with me because we attempted the pass in practice but never called it during a game.
    ESPN Sportsnation was asking if it was unsportsmanlike because they beat us 58-0. The play was run in the first 5 minutes of the contest.
    The QB is a great kid with a bright future. It was a designed play not spur of the moment by the QB.

  • Mr.Murder

    Not unlike the EP attempt Cesar’s teams run, where the QB flips it behind him, over his head, while facing the backfield, for a score.

  • Mich-Placed Gator

    …why isn’t that behind the back pass an illegal forward pass? I always thought forward passes has to be “over handed”

  • endersgame

    Maybe I’m not seeing something, but why would you design a behind-the-back pass? Or was it a fun thing that just happened in practice and you told the team you were gonna put it in?

  • Neil

    I actually did it myself in a college intramural game. One of my teammates then is now the OC at Central HS.
    I guess they figured it would be funny to pull that play against me.
    In years past we always tried to come up with bizarre extra point plays. We ran one with the ball being flipped over the head with the QB’s back to the LOS. The QB told me he could throw it like he did in the video.
    We didn’t run it last year. I am now at a rival team and they pulled it out on us.

  • Infinite5k

    In high school we had a chant where one person would lead the entire crowd and drown out venues with this….

    Student: Is that the score board? (points to the scoreboard)
    Crowd: Yes that’s the scoreboard (points to the scoreboard)
    Student: Is that the winning side? (points to home fans)
    Crowd: Yes thats the winning side! (points to home fans)
    Student: Is that the Losing side? (pointing to away fans)
    Crowd: Yes thats the losing side! (pointing to away fans)
    Student: Is that the exit door? (points to exit)
    Crowd: Yes that’s the exit door (points to exit)
    Student: Scoreboard (pointing continues…)
    Crowd: Scoreboard
    Student: Winning Side
    Crowd: Winning Side
    Student: Losing Side
    Crowd: Losing Side
    Student: Exit Door
    Crowd: Exit Door
    we then finished with “na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye”

    As far as I know it got banned a few years later because parents gave complaints to athletic directors but it was incredibly popular for about 8 years.