So Florida State came back and pulled off the last minute win against Auburn last night, ending the SEC stranglehold on the National Championship trophy. It was an exciting game, with Auburn jumping out to a lead, but FSU coming back and then the teams trading the lead back and forth in the last 5 minutes.
It seems to me, that we’ve seen a lot more of these types of endings over the last couple of years, which leads me to a question, why do defenses seem so unable to stop anyone with the game on the line?
I think part of it is that defenses, in general, are down. Watching BCS games this season, we can see the “elite” teams who make these games and most of them are horrible at tackling. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Auburn, Florida State, Baylor and UCF all showed us some pretty horrible examples of poor tackling. Michigan State and Stanford weren’t as bad, but then again no one is really talking about how exciting the Rose Bowl was. It wasn’t Sportscenter friendly, but it was a good game.
Is that because of limited practice time, concerns over injury leading to less tackling in practice, or some other cause? I don’t know. I leave that to the experts who played football at that level to tell me.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that defenses, generally, are gassed by the end of the game. It’s one thing to face a tempo offense like both Auburn and Florida State for 30 even 45 minutes, but for the full 60 minutes, and the cracks in your defense start to show. We’ve seen a lot of big plays at the end of games, and watching you can just see that many of the defenses are gassed, unable to keep up with the offense, and making mental mistakes of the sort that you make when you’re tired.
Eventually, the defense will figure out a way to keep players from getting gassed, or enough teams will lose these types of games and start to adjust accordingly, trying to keep the ball instead of playing hurry up all the time. Looking back, would Auburn have won if they had slowed down in the third quarter and tried to pound out some long drives instead of having a handful of very quick three and outs and having Florida State constantly taking shots at their defense? Maybe, but then again, it was the Florida State defense being gassed that helped them score to go ahead 31-27. If they don’t do what they did, maybe they don’t drive for that score?
In the mean time though, it does make for some pretty exciting games, even if it really comes down to the team with the ball last, who doesn’t turn it over, wins.