September 15, 2008

Bowden: Tressel made right decision on Wells

MORE: Monday with Mike: SEC gets nasty | Dienhart's Weekly Awards | Chat with Bowden

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel may have a lot of questions to answer about just what happened to his Buckeyes in their humbling 35-3 loss to USC, but deciding to keep Chris Wells out of the game is not one of them.

That might be hard to understand if you are Wells or a die-hard fan or even a little old expert analyst like me who picked the Buckeyes to win. But as a former coach who has had to make that same decision, it was the only one Tressel could have made for Wells and for the team.

It goes without saying that any decision you make regarding an injury must take into account primarily the health, safety and welfare of the athlete. But against a team as talented as USC, even if Wells could have played, a less-than-100 percent running back would have little chance of being effective. More important, it would have jeopardized his chance of coming back 100 percent later in the season.

A healthy Wells would have made no difference in the outcome of the game. A healthy Wells, though, may make a difference in the rest of Ohio State's season.


In Virginia Tech's 20-17 ACC victory over Georgia Tech, senior quarterback Sean Glennon never got off the bench as sophomore Tyrod Taylor handled every snap for the Hokies, including a gutsy 2-yard touchdown run right before the half.

This is the same Taylor that coach Frank Beamer decided to hold out of the opening game against East Carolina in order to redshirt him. Virginia Tech was upset 27-22 by East Carolina. I know hindsight is 20/20, but you have to wonder what might have been if Taylor had played in that game.

WHO'S NO. 2?

I spent my Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., watching an old-fashioned defensive struggle. This border rivalry played true to history as Georgia caught up, then hung on to win 14-7 over South Carolina, making it the fifth time in a row in the series that the winner has scored 20 points or fewer.

Georgia did what they had to do to win the game against a stubborn South Carolina defense. The question is did they do enough to prove they were deserving of their No. 2 national ranking. The pollsters don't think so, dropping the Bulldogs to No. 3 in both polls.

To be honest with you, with all the upsets we are seeing these days, just finding a way to win each week and being 3-0 is sufficient in my mind to merit holding on to that No. 2 spot. But having watched that juggernaut USC immediately after broadcasting the Georgia game does give you a little perspective.


Over the years I have seen South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier play musical quarterbacks in a lot of ways, but I can't help but be a bit baffled by his decision to insert redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia at two critical points in the fourth quarter against Georgia. Garcia had never taken so much as a spring game snap at South Carolina before Saturday.

Although he was inserted for one play in the first quarter when starter Chris Smelley was injured, Garcia did not get off the bench again until the most critical part of the game. In the fourth quarter, with South Carolina trailing 14-7, he saw action on two plays; he threw an incomplete pass on a second down and was sacked on a first down. Each time, Smelley was brought back in on the next play and completed passes to keep the drives going.

Why would you bring in a freshman who never had played in a college game before and who you said after the game was probably not ready for that situation and ask him to throw the ball against one of the top teams in the country? Especially when your starting quarterback had been playing well and clearly gave you the best chance to win.

I guess you have to ask the old ball coach about that one.


The biggest disappointment so far in the SEC has to be Auburn's spread offense, especially when you consider how much hype the new scheme received in the preseason. Through three games, Auburn ranks eighth in the SEC in scoring offense (21.3 ppg) and 11th in passing offense (162.3 ypg).

Saturday night, Auburn tried to hand the game to Mississippi State on a silver platter with a safety and two fumbles in the fourth quarter, but the defense wouldn't let it happen as the Tigers held on to win 3-2.

The book on Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville always has been that he wins with great defense, a great kicking game, great field position and a strong running attack. Right now, only the defensive part remains.


If I had either quarterback at South Florida or Kansas, I think I could build me a winner. These guys are "gamers."

Kansas' Todd Reesing, who is listed at 5 feet 11, looks like a small-college quarterback, but when you watch him play, Doug Flutie comes to mind. His biggest asset is that he moves around and never gives up on a play.

USF's Matt Grothe is a bigger version he's listed at 6-0 of the same guy. I've watched them all, and I would put Reesing on par with any of them. Grothe is more of a Tim Tebow -kind of player and is nearly as dangerous.


After two weeks, all I know about Florida State is that if the Seminoles played in a lower level of college football they'd probably make the playoffs.

MORE: Monday with Mike: SEC gets nasty | Dienhart's Weekly Awards | Chat with Bowden

Terry Bowden is college football analyst. For more information about Terry, visit his official web site. Click here to view previous articles. You can also send Terry a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

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