Monthly Archives: September 2013

College football 2013 – week 5

Stanford and A&M won, while the Badgers fell in Columbus to favored Ohio State. Overlapping game times meant that I didn’t watch all of any game. In fact, I confess that I missed parts of the Ags opening drive to stick with the end of Georgia’s win over LSU.

LSU at Georgia was clearly the game of the day, with the outcome in doubt all the way to the end. Between them, the two teams had 3 turnovers and 4 punts over the whole game. By the second half, it seemed that neither defense could stop the other offense. When LSU scored to take a 41-37 lead with 4:14 to do, it was clear that they’d left too much time on the clock. That score came when Georgia mysteriously decided to rush only 3 on a 3rd and 22, allowing LSU to keep the drive alive with a 25 yard completions. When Georgia scored to go back on top 44-41, I thought perhaps they’d left too much time for LSU to answer.

LSU had the most effective defense against A&M last year, and it will be interesting to see how the teams stack up when the Ags go into Death Valley on Nov 23. The inability of the LSU D to sack Aaron Murray should bolster the hopes of A&M fans that Johnny Manziel’s second game against the Bayou Bengals will be more effective than last year’s performance in Kyle Field. It also might have been not so close without the SEC refs decision to ignore some pretty clear pass interference calls against both defenses.  In my view, LSU benefited from these more than Georgia. The Dawgs also played most of the game without Todd Gurley, who got hurt in the first half.

The Ags took the opening kickoff in Fayetteville while the Tigers and Bulldogs were finishing up in Athens.  A&M prevailed 45-33, but Arkansas stayed close enough to force Manziel to play the whole game and to cause Aggie fans to continue to bemoan the state of our defense, which gave up big plays on the ground and through the air to the Razorbacks.  The Ags did get a pick 6 early in the second half and another INT at the end.  Arkansas was not able to wrest the lead from the Ags despite having the ball down 4 to start the second half, and on several other possessions.  But Arkansas put up 483 yards on the Ags and were 5/12 on 3rd down.  On offense, the Ags were almost perfectly balanced, gaining 261 and 262 passing and rushing, respectively.  This statistical balance came on a mix of very unbalanced possessions, however, as A&M took what the defense was giving them.

The closeness of the TAMU game meant that I only watched bits of the first half of Wisconsin at  Ohio State.  By the time the Ags had sealed the win, Stanford vs. Washington State had started. I watched the end of the Badgers vs. the Buckeyes.  The loss had the feeling of a game where Ohio State was hanging on for dear life but the Badgers ran out of time.  Wisconsin’s offensive limitations let down a Badger D that played pretty well at times.  For example, after the Buckeyes were stuffed on 4th and 1 from the 38 in the middle of the 3rd quarter, it seemed like an opportunity to get back in the game. But the Badgers followed that defensive stand with : sack, INT.  By this time the Buckeyes had shown that the vaunted Wisconsin run game was not going to work. Ohio State took the ball from the Badger 32 to the end zone for their final score.

The Badgers Jarred Abbrederis had a remarkable 10 catches for 207 yards and a TD in the loss. This might have been even more remarkable than Mike Evans performance against Alabama, because Evans has a better QB and A&M has better receivers to spread the coverage.  By contrast, Wisconsin’s other receivers are not that good, and there were several key drops that killed comeback drives.

Stanford handled Mike Leach’s rebuilding Washington State Cougars pretty easily. Final score 55-17.

Other notable results

  • Oklahoma State fell in the first upset of the day to West Virginia.
  • OU beat Notre Dame in South Bend. Tommy Rees threw 3 picks.
  • Bama shut out Ole Miss
  • Arizona State tied Oregon for scoring the most points (62) vs USC ever.  Sun Devils win 62-41


Spent Thursday and Friday at an iPlant workshop I helped set up at Prairie View as part of a genomics education project I’m doing with Gloria Regisford in the PVAMU Biology Dept.  iPlant just got renewed by NSF and will be expanding their scope beyond plants.  The focus of the workshop was the DNA subway set of workflows that are used for teaching, and we did a mix of computer exercises and wet lab work where we amplified some DNA from plant samples to send for barcode sequencing.  I had heard about some of the barcode projects, including Sushigate, but I hadn’t looked at the urbanbarcoding site from CSHL that aggregates these kinds of projects.  I’ve been advocating incorporating more things like this into our undergraduate curriculum.

But the things that will probably affect my own teaching and research were:

  • Atmosphere, the soon to be openstack-based cloud system being done in collaboration with TACC and
  • Plans to integrate the iPlant middleware with Galaxy.

No surprises, but some drama, on this weekend in college football

Yesterday was generally viewed as a less than exciting weekend for college football matchups. A few teams flirted with upsets, but the only top 25 team to lose was Arizona State, who played #5 Stanford. The Ags, Cardinal, and Badgers all won convincingly. A&M and Stanford were on at the same time, so I mostly watched the Aggies and Johnny Football while switching to the Stanford game during commercial breaks. It turned out to be well-timed. There were at least two Stanford TDs that happened moments after clicking over.

Earlier, the Badgers looked strong in demolishing Purdue. Wisconsin shook off their perplexing loss last week to Arizona State and showed off yet another set of exceptional running backs, now that Monte Ball is gone. James White and Melvin Gordon each had 16 carries for 145 and 147 yards respectively.  Gordon scored 3 TDs to White’s one.  Despite the dominating performance on Saturday, Wisconsin’s passing game may not be strong enough to prevent better opponents from packing the box and daring the Badgers to beat them through the air. Next week in Columbus will be a test for new coach Gary Anderson.

Johnny Manziel was pulled from the game after only a half+1 series of the Aggies win over SMU.  That was long enough to get 244 yards passing and 102 yards rushing, with 1 passing TD and 2 running TDs.  Manziel also threw another pick that went off a receiver’s hands. Several of Johnny Football’s runs were of the “how did he do that?” variety.  More than once he just changed directions in ways that made SMU defenders look foolish.  Causes of concern: Center Mike Matthews had several penalties and one bizarre bad snap. Kicker Taylor Bertolet was replaced by walk-on Josh Lambo after a return of Bertolet’s extra point woes from last season. The Ags wound up missing 3 XPs in a row, as Lambo’s first attempt was spoiled by a bad hold.

The struggling defense had a much better game. SMU is no Alabama, but the Aggie D also looked better than it had against Rice and SHSU.  A combination of personnel moves (e.g. a new Middle Linebacker and DeShazor Everett moving from CB to S) and experience seems to be helping. The Ags batted down several Garrett Gilbert passes, and forced 2 fumbles and an INT. One fumble was returned for a score.  Still, the Ags gave up a lot of yards and as DC Snyder said in the post-game presser

We get the quarterback and bounced off… was watching the end of the LSU game. When they hit a quarterback, they don’t go anywhere; they go down.

It will be interesting to see if progress continues as the Ags hit the road for the first time this season at Arkansas.

Former Badgers coach Bret Bielema can’t be happy with what happened in the Pigs game at Rutgers.  The Razorbacks were up 24-7 in the third quarter… and ended up losing 28-24. After going up 24-7, Arkansas possessions reconstructed from the play by play record:

  • 3 plays 9 yards, punt
  • 3 plays 8 yards, punt returned for a TD (24-14)
  • 5 plays, 22 yards, punt from their own 47

4th quarter

  • 3 plays 8 yards, punt (Rutgers scores on their possession 24-21)
  • 5 plays 14 yards, punt (Rutgers scores on their possession 24-28)
  • Now trailing, Arkansas starts at their own 18. They get to their own 45. Sack, loss, incomplete, punt on 4th and 24 (Rutgers runs out the final 2:48)

Coach Bielema may need to get his wife off of Twitter.

Ranked teams that had moments of dread:

  • Georgia was tied with N. Texas after the Mean Green blocked a punt for a TD in the third quarter.  The Dawgs put their fans at ease by scoring 24 unanswered points.
  • Michigan trailed winless UConn going into the final quarter before rallying to win by a FG.  This was the second week in a row where Michigan dropped in the polls after a win.  The Wolverines were #17 in the preseason AP, rose to #11 by virtue of beating Notre Dame, fell to #15 last week, and are now down to #18.

Virginia Tech is unranked, but played well enough against Alabama to be thought of as a pretty good team.  Marshall had several chances to pull the upset in Blacksburg but couldn’t close the deal.  Marshall led most of the game after taking the lead in the second quarter. On VT’s 4th quarter drive to tie the score, the Hokies had to convert two 4th downs. The touchdown came on a 4th down pass that was deflected by a Marshall defender.  On the next drive, Marshall got to the VT 34 but lost 5 yards before taking a shot at the end zone that was intercepted.  On that play a) they only needed to get in FG range and b) the receiver was open but the pass was late.  Having failed to pull off the upset in regulation, the two teams played 3 OTs, with VT ultimately benefiting from a very dubious non-call of pass interference where the defender seemed to commit two fouls on the same play from the replay.  Even then, Marshall had a chance to win on a FG in the first OT. The kick was blocked.


Not all wins and losses are the same

It can be argued that a win is a win and a loss is a loss, and from the point of view of calculating standings it doesn’t matter how you win or lose.  But the aesthetics are not the same, and the loss at the Alamo or at Thermopylae are remembered very differently than the losses at Little Big Horn or Salamis.  Saturday’s College Football had a mix of good and bad wins and losses. The teams I root for went 1-2 this week, with Stanford beating Army early, the Aggies falling to Alabama, and Wisconsin getting burnt in the desert by Arizona State.

Army was a 30-pt underdog to the Cardinal, but their option gave Stanford some trouble in the first half. Stanford pulled away in the second half. This was a neutral win: expected and solid.

The game of the day was #1 Alabama coming here to College Station to face #6 Texas A&M.  I had no idea what would happen going into today; I could imagine blowouts in either direction or a close game. There were too many unknowns about whether Alabama’s defensive experts had solved Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel’s version of the Air Raid, and whether the Tide’s offense and Ags defense were as bad as they seemed in the first games.  The good news for the Ags: the A&M offense is better than last year’s. This was expected, despite losing several key players from last year and replacing offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who left to become the head coach at Texas Tech. The Ags were deep last year, and despite his overhyped off-field issues, Johnny Manziel was expected to have a better grasp of reading defenses and mastering the options in the Sumlin offense. Johnny Football and the offense scored 42 points on the Crimson Tide on 628 total yards.  It could have been more, but two interceptions and a questionable offensive pass interference call on Mike Evans stopped three drives.  Manziel had 464 yards from 28/39 passing  with 5 tds and 2 ints and 98 yards rushing.  Mike Evans had 7 catches for 279 yards, including a late 95 yard catch and run that set a record for Kyle field.  All of this would have been impressive against anyone, but against Alabama it’s truly remarkable.

Unfortunately, the bad news was that the A&M D has not found its stride. The past couple of years we’ve had an outstanding pass rusher, first in Von Miller and last year in DaMontre Moore. As noted last week, there were many other important seniors on Mark Snyder’s defensive squad. Their replacements haven’t stepped up yet, and despite getting back several suspended starters, the A&M defense had trouble stopping Alabama after their third possession.

That said, this was a good loss in the sense that it was close, entertaining and was a valiant effort by A&M that left the impression that the teams on balance were near equals. If Manziel and/or Evans are up for postseason awards, this game provided plenty for the highlight reels.

By contrast, Wisconsin’s loss to the Sun Devils was one of the many varieties of bad losses.  The two teams traded errors and scores until the middle of the third quarter, when Wisconsin’s defense started to wilt in the heat and ASU’s receivers stopped dropping catchable balls. Arizona State took the lead for good with 11:40 left in the game and made it an 8 point lead at 8:50 to go. Nevertheless, a fake punt led to a Wisconsin TD that cut the lead to 2 after a failed 2-pt conversion, and a 51 yard pass play set up the Badgers for what should have been the winning FG.  But after getting down to the ASU 13, Wisconsin inexplicably tried to position the ball for the FG try with only 18 seconds left and no timeouts.  The clock ran out without the Wisconsin FG unit even seeing the field.  Wow.

Texas and Nebraska exemplified a different kind of bad loss.  Both were blown out at home after leading at halftime, 23-17 and 21-10 respectively. Ole Miss beat Texas 44-23, while UCLA beat Nebraska 41-21.  These were the kinds of losses that put coaches on the hot seat.

For an example of a bad win, see Michigan holding on against 37-pt underdog Akron.  Akron took the lead several times in this game, the last time being at 4:20 to go. Michigan scored with 2:49 left, but as one Michigan fan posted at MgoBlog

Saddest question ever, “did they leave too much time for Akron?”

In fact, Akron drove down the field but could not convert on 4th and 3 from the Michigan 4.

Firefox 23 mixed content blocking and Galaxy

The Galaxy genomics workbench has problems with mixed content blocking in Firefox 23 when it’s running under https, which it should be based on sending logins and passwords. When you click on any of the public data sources (e.g. UCSC Tables) under Get Data, Firefox blocks it.  The solution is to turn off mixed content blocking, as described here.

Unfortunately, this is a global configuration rather than per domain.



Almost perfect day of college football yesterday

Mitigating factors:

  • it’s early, and wins were against weaker opponents.
  • couldn’t watch the Badgers, didn’t ppv for the Ags
  • Cardinal and Aggies wins still leave concerns about future success.

For the Ags, the future is next Saturday, when Alabama comes to town with vengeance on their minds for last year’s upset at their place.  TAMU was already replacing several stalwarts from last year’s defense: NFL pick DaMontre Moore, and less well-known players like Spencer Nealy (who dominated Bama’s All-America center last year) and Dustin Harris (who made a critical stop in the late goal line stand), Sean Porter, Jonathan Mathis, Jonathan Stewart and Steven Terrell. See Good Bull Hunting’s archives for more on these former students. This meant DC Mark Snyder’s squad would be young and thin even without injuries and early suspensions.  Several players will be back for Bama, but will not have any game time going in. Starting safety Floyd Raven came back from a suspension only to break his clavicle yesterday. The Tide are not who you would normally want to use to get the rust out of your game, but there’s no choice now.  Concern about the D has been high after giving up points, yards, and big plays to both Rice and Sam Houston State.

The high-flying offense led by Johnny Manziel also lost some key performers, but was expected to be less of a problem than the D. The O has put up lots of points in the two warmups, but  can the Ags do it to Bama again?  We shall see.  It’s going to be the most-hyped game at Kyle field in my time here.

The schadenfreude is especially strong in reading the fan reactions from Austin, after the ‘sips were trounced in Provo by a BYU team that had lost the week before to mighty Virginia.  I saw a little of that game while waiting for Stanford to come on in the late game.  It was actually kind of shocking to see how bad the Texas Defense looked in that game.

The best game of the day was probably South Carolina at Georgia. The momentum in that game seemed to go back and forth until Georgia opened a two-score 11-pt lead in the final quarter on an 85-yard pass play.  S. Carolina looked to cut it to less than a TD by driving deep into the red zone on the next possession.  But they were thwarted on a goal line stand with 8:28 to go where they couldn’t punch it in on 4th and goal from the 1. The Dawgs then took over and ran out the rest of the clock.

Weird, given Marissa Mayer’s rep from Google

I first heard of Marissa Mayer from a podcast of this talk from the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series.  As I recall, one of the intereresting things was the way Google tested UI options and gathered data about what did or did not work for users. Given that, I am kind of surprised how hideous the Yahoo Sports Blog pages have become.

John Gruber links to criticism of the new logo; this goes way beyond logo fonts.