The Opposing Quarterbacks Club
By John Kreinbihl
I can’t believe it’s the end of October already. We’re halfway through the football season and I still have “September To Do’s” on my to do list. It seems as if yesterday I was finishing spring-cleaning and now I have to find my rakes and shovels.
The doorman at the Club sent me an invitation to a party he was having and asked if I could help by bringing some booze to the festivities. I feigned a prior commitment, something about my aunt needing me take stuff to her attic, so I didn’t have to attend but I did tell him I’d help with the adult beverages. I whipped up a party-sized batch of my Pumpkin Spice Margarita mix and dropped it off to the doorman on the day of the meeting and in return he let me hide the microphones.
Here is the transcript from the meeting:
Moderator: Good afternoon gentlemen and welcome to this week’s meeting of the Opposing Quarterbacks Club. We’ve written seven chapters in this season’s story and to date we are on pace with our membership projections. We’ll formally induct Jake Rudock today and a bit later we’ll be joined by this week’s guest, but first I’ll call the roll so we can get started. From the University of Buffalo, Joe Licata?
Moderator: Adam Dingwell and Quinn Kaehler?
Kaehler: Check 1-2, Check 1-2…
Licata: Who do you think you are? A roadie for a rock band or a CB’er?
Moderator: Moving along…Jared Goff?
Moderator: From Florida A & M, Damien Fleming?
Fleming: I’m here too.
Moderator: Joel Stave?
Stave: I’m all in.
Moderator: From Northwestern, Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian?
Siemian: Both here.
Moderator: And finally, our newest member, Jake Rudock from the University of Iowa.
Rudock: I’m back as requested.
Licata: Required, not requested. This isn’t a big social gathering or some potluck event where we asked you to, “join us next time” because we really liked you and wanted to get together again, no the rules here are pretty simple, win and move on or lose and c’mon back. By the way, everyone here knew you’d be back.
Goff: The little Hawkeye returns to his nest.
Rudock: You obviously didn’t see the game. We rolled into the ‘Shoe, slapped the Bucks right in the face with our power formation on offense, took the crowd out of the game and as Coach Vrabel said, “kicked the @$^$ out of us”.
Dingwell: That’s the Cliff Notes version of the first half but what about the second thirty minutes?
Fleming: It’s the same story as the first half, but everywhere Iowa is mentioned, change that to Ohio State and the Bucks come out on top again. You held your own for about 40-45 minutes but to win, it’s sixty minutes.
Stave: Fleming, you guys played for about 60 seconds and were down two scores.
Moderator: Jake, was the three tight end formation a new wrinkle you guys put in just for Ohio State?
Rudock: Yeah, we took the extra time from the off week and put together a new game plan. We felt our tight ends could shift the line of scrimmage in our favor both in terms of short underneath passes to move the chains and blocking on the edge to run downhill and it was effective. We questioned the Buckeyes’ ability to cover receivers and we saw the opportunity to man up with their front seven so we could make steady progress down the field. We wanted to keep their offense off the field and take the crowd out of the game.
Moderator: I think it did catch them off guard.
Rudock: It was totally effective We ran 30-some plays in the first half, put up close to 250 yards in offense, scored 17 points and led by seven at the break.
Goff: And then in the second half you ran about 15 plays, gained in the neighborhood of 100 yards and gave up 24 points to lose by 10.
Colter: And most of those yards came on the one big pass play in the 3rd quarter.
Siemian: And when push came to shove, the Bucks pushed with Carlos Hyde and it was over. A carbon copy of our game with them earlier this month.
Goff: We didn’t have to play against Hyde but that TD he scored was just sick. It was old school video game moves or a surfer just ripping a monster wave at Waimea Bay—there he goes…he has an opening…he’s going down…no wait he breaks a tackle…loses his balance….tries to get it back while going the wrong way…turns and heads towards the end zone…dives…..TOUCHDOWN!!!!
Rudock: That was a bit of a back-breaker there but we can’t hang our heads. We went toe-to-toe with the Bucks in a classic Big Ten conference game.
Moderator: Indeed you did Jake and at this time I’ll ask you to come forward to receive your OQbC jacket as you become the ninth member inducted this year. Congratulations!!
Licata: Jake, we try to personalize each jacket for each member so I ran yours through a couple of cycles of the washer and dryer and it shrunk to about 75% of its original size.
Fleming: That way three quarters of a coat matches your performance in the game Saturday. Nice to have you back. I just sent you an e-minder to your e-calendar so you’re locked and loaded for these meeting the rest of the season.
Rudock: This was even worse than I expected.
Stave: Don’t worry that feeling won’t last long. As soon as the guy from the Nittany Lions gets here, you’ll be old news.
Moderator: And it is time to welcome this week’s guest. He is Christian Hackenberg from Pick Six—um, sorry, I mean, Penn State University. Christian, a 6’4” 240 lb Freshman will lead his Nittany Lions into Ohio Stadium for another Prime Time match-up. Christian, welcome and thanks for joining us today.
Hackenberg: Thanks for having me.
Moderator: Another week and another young quarterback facing the Buckeyes. The stadium will be a sea of scarlet and PSU will face the Big Ten’s top scoring team and a team that is out scoring their Big Ten opponents by a 2:1 margin in the second half. It’s a tough task for any quarterback but I think being so young makes it even more difficult. Christian, how old are you?
Hackenberg: I’m 18.
Licata: He’s like Goff but with a little meat on his bones.
Moderator: Christian you do have a lot in common with several of the guys in this room. First, you’re a young quarterback like Goff and Rudock; second, this is a prime time, nationally televised game like Goff, Stave, Colter and Siemian and third, like the guys from Northwestern and Rudock, you had an off week to prepare for the Bucks.
Dingwell: And fourth, like all of us, you’ll be back here next week.
Hackenberg: I have no plans to come back here next week. I know how this place works but I’ve watched film of all your games against Ohio State and we’re taking a page or two from everybody’s playbook—except for the guy from Florida A&M—making a couple adjustments and putting together a plan to win. Each of you had some success but not enough talent to carry through the whole game. We have the talent to play with these guys and we won’t be worn down or run over late in the game.
Moderator: What aspects of the previous games are you focusing one?
Hackenberg: The best way to describe it would be a “smorgasbord of success”. I liked the up-tempo, quick drop, quick throw approach Goff used mixed with the way Stave used his wide receivers and Rudock used his tight ends, a dash of spreading the field a la Colter and Siemian then adding something none of you have, a power running game. Each of you, to some extent exploited weaknesses in the Buckeye defense, we plan on going to the all you can eat buffet with our approach. Their DB’s are going to have cover our wideouts, especially one of the best in all of college football, Allen Robinson, and if they had trouble with Abbrederis from Wisconsin, Robinson is another level of talent. We’ll give their linebackers multiple reads on every play—do I rush, get the back out of the backfield or take the tight end? We’ve seen OSU have issues in a couple of those areas. We have a very solid offensive line and they’ll give me time to throw and guys like Bill Belton room to run.
Licata: That was pretty good. Did you rehearse that?
Hackenberg: No. I’m just confident in our abilities and I think we’ll win on Saturday. Someone has to break Ohio State’s winning streak, why not us?
Siemian: Why not you, here’s reason number one. History.
Colter: I think you demonstrated a pretty good grasp of the task at hand for you this week, but if you look at the history of this series you’ll find a common thread. The dreaded pick six.
Siemian: It’s become a tradition at Ohio State. Not in the Script Ohio, Buckeye Leaves, or Hang on Sloopy sense but most OSU fans think it’s cooler than the Illi-Buck Trophy. The pick six a big game changer, momentum shifter, a tide turner or whatever you want to call it and it’s now as commonplace in your games with the Bucks as the coin toss.
Moderator: They’re right Christian. As was the case in 2002, 2004, twice in 2006, 2007, twice again in 2010 and finally in 2012, the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray and thanks to a hurried throw, an over-throw or an under-throw, the Buckeyes race the other way.
Licata: For six!!!
Hackenberg: I’m sure it won’t happen this week.
Stave: Oh, it’ll happen. In fact, the lottery is so sure it will happen, tomorrow they are going to announce a new “Pick Six” instant win game in which contestants scratch-off six football images on the game card to reveal their numbers. If their number matches the yardage of your Pick Six, they win $6,000 a week for life.
Colter: Remember, lottery proceeds go to youth education and programs for senior citizens, so no pressure.
Goff: It’s a good cause. Do it for the kids.
Fleming: It will also keep another streak alive. Since 2002, Penn State QB’s are 7 for 7 with 7 TD’s when throwing to OSU players.
Dingwell: If he does it, can we change his name to Pickenberg?
Licata: Not if, when.
Dingwell: Or perhaps his line won’t give him the protection he needs and he’ll become Sackenberg. Or if he’s tossed and kicked around by the Buckeyes defense like a young group of guys in a park, he’ll be Hackeysackenberg.
Licata: Either way, Mr. Moderator, don’t monogram his jacket until after the game.
Moderator: Christian, what are your thoughts about the prime time, bright lights, on-the-road-in-a-hostel-environment situation you’re encountering Saturday evening?
Hackenberg: It’s the kind of challenge we relish. I think our victory over Michigan gives us a lot of confidence.
Stave: And your road loss at Indiana should give you a lot of anxiety.
Colter: Goff, Stave, Trevor and me all faced the same opportunity—the chance to beat Ohio State in a game of the week setting.
Siemian: A couple of us even had home field advantage.
Goff: And yet, we’re all here.
Hackenberg: But as I said, I’m going to take the successful parts of all your efforts and improve them.
Dingwell: Sounds like we may have another jacket idea. For Hackenberg’s, we’ll cut pieces of each of our jackets and the boys down in finishing can sew them together. Like a quilt.
Rudock: To signify the whole isn’t any greater than the sum of its parts.
Licata: Exactly Jake, see how easy this can be? After hearing Hackenberg extol his virtues and expectations, we’ve already forgotten how bad your second half was.
Kaehler: Rudock’s second half is one component of our games you don’t want to implement.
Hackenberg: We’ll play 60 minutes. Coach O’Brien won’t accept anything less than our best in this game. Additionally, our NASCAR offense will cause OSU problems.
Fleming: NASCAR offense? What’s that mean? You go fast but only to the left?
Moderator: Let’s turn the table and talk about the OSU offense. As these guys pointed out, there are aspects of the Bucks offense—specifically Carlos Hyde—they did not have an answer for—especially late in the game—so what sets the Nittany Lions apart in terms of stopping the Buckeyes?
Hackenberg: To me, it’s the experience of our front seven. We have a lot of senior leadership on the D-Line and at linebacker, plus we have depth and that depth is experienced. We need to get pressure on Miller so he can’t go through his reads and we have to tackle at the point of attack. We can’t let them break contain because they excel in the open field. We’ll keep the game physical, keep them from spreading the field and I think we win a tight game. In my mind, one of the biggest challenges is on them. They have the winning streak. We can pull out all the stops, we can throw caution to the wind and play loosey-goosey, the pressure to win, is on them.
Stave: I don’t care if you’re loosey-goosey or foxy loxy or Magilla Gorilla, this is football not a petting zoo. And I don’t care how many times you throw caution to the wind, at some point Ohio State will pick it off and take it to the house for six.
Colter: Hackenberg, Joel’s right. Hey Trevor, what’s the one thing we know for sure about Penn State?
Siemain: You can’t spell Nittany without I-N-T!!!!
Moderator: That’s is all the time we have for today. Thanks to each of you for attending. Good luck in your games this weekend and we’ll see you back here at the same time next week. We are officially adjourned.