The Opposing Quarterbacks Club
By John Kreinbihl
Whisky a No Go
With my dreams of early retirement and financial security dashed by barely missing the $400 Million Dollar Powerball drawing—I was only seven numbers off—it was business as usual for this reporter and this week’s business was all about the start of B10 Conference Play for the Buckeyes. I knew the quarterback from Wisconsin was scheduled to visit the Club but I’d received conflicting information on when he would arrive. Once my friend the doorman was able to confirm the date and time, he asked me what he might do for this week’s guest to make a positive first impression and I gave him the perfect solution-- a huge tray of cheese brats, pretzels and a twelve-pack of Leinenkugel beer.
The doorman was skeptical at first, and said his initial thought was a nice scarf, a Whitman sampler and a copy of Dr Phil’s latest book, but when I told him to search the internet for images of Wisconsin residents, he knew I’d hit the nail on the head. That’s all I needed to gain access to the facility and hide the microphones.
Here is the transcript from the meeting:
Moderator: Gentlemen, welcome to this week’s session of The Opposing Quarterbacks Club. Can it be that this is week five of the football season? It seems like just yesterday we were prepping for out first Quarterback and now we’re headed into conference play and the games become even more important. We’re on schedule for membership to date and today we have the opportunity to review Damien Fleming’s efforts and provide insight for this week’s guest QB. To get the meeting started, I’ll call the roll. Joe Licata?
Licata: I’m here.
Moderator: Dingwell and Kaehler?
Dingwell: Both Aztecs present and accounted for sir.
Licata: Don’t you mean “pain in the Aztecs”?
Moderator: Jared Goff?
Goff: Yo dude, here and chillin’.
Moderator: And your newest member, Damien Fleming
Fleming: FAMU is representing.
Moderator: Well, Damien, I’m not sure exactly where to begin other than to say, your performance was one for the books. I’ve seen a lot of games and a lot of quarterbacks but I’m at a loss for the appropriate description of I what I witnessed on Saturday.
Licata: No kidding. 76-0, really? How in the world do you lose 76-0? It was a mismatch of monumental proportions. It was as if you guys were trying to light matches while riding a water slide on a windy day. You had a week to prepare for the game and you couldn’t get your first play off without a delay of game penalty?
Kaehler: Did you guys only practice 1st and 15 plays?
Licata: Then you put up a defensive effort akin to trying to keep birds off your new lawn by marking it off with caution tape, and in less than thirty minutes of football, you’re down 55-0. Who knows when the last time something like that happened?
Goff: Two weeks ago. And it happened to you. Baylor 56 Buffalo 0. Are you taking ginkgo biloba for that short-term memory?
Kaehler: I knew the game was over when you guys tried to bring a pick out of the end zone and then fumbled it right back inside the 10 yard line. What do you call that an inter-umble?
Fleming: Coach Holmes said the game did kinda turn there.
Licata: The game had turned before the National Anthem was played.
Moderator: Damien, were you surprised by the talent difference between you and the Buckeyes?
Fleming: I don’t think there was much of a difference. We just didn’t play well. If we had played A&M football we would have made a better showing.
Licata: You needed a lot more than A&M football, you could have used the N,O,P and Q too.
Kaehler: They could have gone to Z and it wasn’t enough. What about Guiton going for 6 TD’s in a half? I guess that was an Ohio State record. How do you account for that?
Goff: Ohio State probably hadn’t played a high school team before.
Dingwell: And the Buckeyes didn’t even try to pass in the second half. Third and fourth stringers in action the last thirty minutes and you had no answer for them. When third string tackles are tossing your d-lineman around, you are officially out of your league.
Goff: This was more than being out of your league, it was like out of your sport. The Rattlers had two first downs. Two!! The Buckeyes had 34. Fleming, you led your team to 80 total yards. That’s like going from here to the buffet and taking 60 minutes to do it.
Licata: Ohio State scored 76 points and gave up 80 total yards. Almost a 1:1 ratio. If they had done that against you Goff, they would have scored 500 points.
Fleming: We’ll learn from this game and more forward.
Dingwell: What I hope you learned is that there are easier ways to get $900,000 than being embarrassed on national TV.
Goff: For sure dude. You should send one of those e-mails to people that starts with “Hello my bestest, long lost, love friend” and try to convince them you’re a diplomat from Wesuckastan or some other decrepit third world country and you’ve been authorized to ask folks help you share in a multi-million dollar windfall left to you by the King’s Royal Goat and I’m sure you find enough suckers to bite.
Moderator: Damien, Coach Holmes talked about how the Rattlers needed the offense and defense to complement each other but the defense was on the field for 80 plays and offensively you only ran 39 plays so why was moving the ball so difficult?
Fleming: Ohio State’s defense moved around a lot and they gave us some looks we hadn’t seen on film. On top of that it was incredibly loud, OSU was really quick and just made a ton of plays. To say we didn’t get much done on offense is an understatement, but you tip your hat to the Buckeyes and move on. We have an off-week this week and then hit the road again to play Morgan State.
Kaehler: Beyond tipping your cap to the Bucks, you should remove it and take a nice big bow to say thanks for not killing you so you can play again in a couple of weeks.
Dingwell: You did stop them on a two-point conversion so you can show the video of that play to recruits and let them know you can go against the big boys.
Fleming: We made other plays than just that one. We had a punt for 78 yards so it’s nice to know if needed, we can change the field position quickly in a game.
Licata: Of course after the punt, the Buckeyes took over at their own 2 and fourteen or fifteen running plays later they had taken 10 minutes off the clock, gone 98 yards and scored again. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team do that—run right up the middle every time--and drive the length of the field.
Moderator: It was impressive Joe. It was the best touchdown in a blow out since the Bucks returned a punt for a score with only eight guys on the field against Pitt back in 1996.
Fleming: I get it, we got manhandled but can we move on or is there some other minor stat or flaw in our game that you want to beat to death?
Moderator: You make a good point Damien. We could go on for days dissecting your game, but the bottom line, your performance and the performance of the entire FAMU team was very club-worthy so at this time I’d like to present you with your jacket and officially welcome you as our newest OQbC member. Congratulations.
Fleming: I have to admit I like the gold jacket and the Rattler Green and Orange trim is a nice touch. I need to buy a pair of purple pants to wear with this and I’ll be good to go.
Kaehler: If you add a fedora with a big feather and a pair of white shoes you’ll be good to go all Huggy Bear on us.
Moderator: I’ll leave the finer points of fashion to the two of you and we’ll turn our attention to this week’s guest, Joel Stave, the 6’5” 225 lb. redshirt Sophomore quarterback from the University of Wisconsin. Joel will lead his Badgers into Ohio Stadium on Saturday in a primetime showdown of two ranked teams. Thank you for joining us Joel, won’t you please take a knee, er, I mean, a seat.
Stave: That was on purpose wasn’t it? If I had a nickel for every joke I’ve heard about taking a knee that past two weeks I’d have enough money...
Licata: To give Fleming nine-hundred G’s so he doesn’t have to embarrass himself on national TV again?
Kaehler: Maybe you should really embrace the take a knee thing.
Stave: Embrace the knee? There it is again.
Kaehler: I didn’t mean it like that, I wish I had, but I didn’t. Anyway, maybe you talk the student section into scrapping the whole “jump around” thing and changing to “kneel around” at the end of the third quarter a Camp Randall. It could be your Badger legacy.
Goff: That’s a good idea because your playing ability won’t leave any lasting impression.
Moderator: Joel, what make this game important to you?
Stave: It’s a very big game for us. It’s our first Big Ten road game against a very good opponent plus it’s a huge divisional game. It’s an early season match-up to see who will emerge as the leader in the Leaders Divisions.
Dingwell: It could be a legendary game in the Leaders Division. Do they have leaderary games in the Legends Division?
Moderator: If you look at the statistics, these two teams are very evenly matched. Wisconsin comes into the game averaging 547 yards per game and OSU averages 529; the Badgers have scored 21 TD’s and the Buckeyes have 29 touchdowns; both teams are averaging 33:00 in time of possession and when you look at the defensive numbers, lots of similarities there too. Joel, what do see as keys to the game?
Stave: I think controlling the game and the pace of the game will be very important. We’re a “run right at ‘em” offense. We don’t turn the ball over and we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties. All you other guys tried to spread the field and go up-tempo and the Buckeyes could handle that. They have good athletes and they are comfortable in nickel and dime situations. We’re gonna see how tough they are. Smashmouth football. Physical, run-oriented Big Ten football. Go right at you and knock you down.
Licata: So you think the Buckeyes might be soft?
Stave: We’ll find that out Saturday night.
Licata: Bucks D-line is very tough. We ran three step drop stuff and they got pressure. If you stay in the pocket, they’ll find you.
Stave: I’ve got a very experienced line and they’ll give me time. Plus we typically jump to an early lead. I think we’ve scored like 40 points in the first quarter so far this year.
Moderator: Joel, Ohio State is averaging 40 points in the first quarter. Each of the other quarterbacks here were down by at least 20 points in the first quarter. I understand your approach coming into this game, but one question I have is how will the Badgers stop the Bucks?
Stave: Our defense will respond to that challenge, but from my vantage point, this game is all about them stopping us. Jared Abberderis has had some big games against the Buckeyes the past couple years and we’re very deep and very talented at the running back position. Both Melvin Gordon and James White are averaging over 100 yards per game and whoever wins the run game wins this game and that plays right into our strength. Plus, I’ve completed over sixty percent of my throws so we’ll be, by far and away, the most balanced team they played this year. You know, we were a fumble and just a few key plays away from beating them last year.
Goff: And Mariah Carey is just a few pans of brownies away from being Aretha Franklin.
Stave: I think when you look at both the stats, offensively and defensively as well as the intangibles like experience, athleticism, speed and power the scale tips in our favor. I’m sure we have what it takes to win this week.
Goff: And I’m sure you’ll be back here trying on a jacket next week.
Licata: If I was you, I’d hope the game doesn’t come down to you having to make a play, or even take a knee, because if that’s the case, it’ll be bye-bye Bucky Badger.
Moderator: Gentlemen, that is all the time we have for today. Thank you for attending, I wish each of you good luck in your games on Saturday and we’ll see you back here next week at the same time. We are officially adjourned.