Friday, September 23, 2016

USC now 1-3.

Coach responds.

To be fair, he could finish the season 11 - 3 if he somehow wins the PAC-12 South en route to a win at the PAC-12 Championship and a bowl win.

Positives: Offensive line keeps getting better and the running game was really good with Justin Davis in, and Sam Darnold looked sharp, especially with receivers making catches.

Negatives: Everything else? Three turnovers, seven penalties, and some very questionable coaching choices seem to highlight the one step forward one step backward plan at work here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fixed it for ya, Gil.

I came across this while watching season 11 of Frasier. I'm sure Gil would approve of the fix.

47 Days Left.

Are you worried about the polls? Don't be. The fluctuations you see are not correlative with Hillary going down and Donald going up, and vice versa. Voters who have picked a side are not crossing over because of a bad week or two; they've already made up their minds. The fluctuations we've seen lately, are actually dynamics of people changing their minds about whether they're undecided or otherwise supporting a third party candidate.

Notice how the number of undecided voters -- Point A -- shoots up just as Hillary's numbers plummet? Notice how Donald's numbers -- Point B -- collapse just as Gary Johnson's numbers + undecided voters suddenly increase?

In essence, both Hillary and Donald's numbers fluctuate within the scope of skeptical voters who need to either be persuaded or dissuaded. When Donald goes to a Black church to read off a bunch of index cards, he's feeding White Americans what they want to hear to make it okay to vote for someone who is ostensibly a racist.

 As such, I give you today's theme:

Tell Me Lies

But I couldn't find a way
So I'll settle for one day
To believe in you
Tell me, tell me, tell me lies

Yes, voters want to be lied to, so that they can relieve their cognitive dissonance.

Thus, I give you today's related link: Who has been caught lying 70% of the time?

Good Times!

Worried about the election? Forget the polling roller-coaster, because the race has always been about the fast-changing demographics. Still worried? Take your mind off the election, then, and watch this. Because, it is Good Times!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Not Ironic!

A quote from Donald's campaign head, Kellyanne Conway:

"It is ironic that he [GHWB] would vote for the wife of the man who knocked him out of the race, Bill Clinton defeated George Herbert Walker Bush, Bush 41, Erin, in 1992, for his reelection."

No, Kellyanne, it isn't ironic.

If that were the case, then Donald's campaign would be full of 'irony' with all of those former primary candidates and staff, working directly and indirectly for Donald's campaign.

Remember: Irony is when the outcome of your action is the opposite of your intention.

This is irony:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Highlights of Donald's August FEC Filing

Today is FEC campaign finance report day -- the 20th of every month -- and after poring through it, here are five interesting tidbits:
  1. Meredith McIver: Last month she appeared on the payroll with a $356.01 payroll expenditure line item, and just as suddenly as she appeared, in the August payroll she has disappeared. It's no wonder, of course, because the campaign had to pay her otherwise it would be a violation of federal election finance laws.
  2. $till Behind: The campaign brought in $36.7M for August, but that's far behind the $52.3M Hillary's campaign brought in. This doesn't include the shared victory funds between the candidate and party, but even by that measure, Donald + GOP brought in just $90M while Hillary + Democrats brought in $143M. And that's really amusing when you consider the amount of time Donald spends on boasting about his personal wealth.
  3. Accounting Trick?: After poring through three months of filings, I couldn't help notice that the campaign pays out, weekly, exactly $2,574.43 to Donald, his bodyguard, and Trump Tower Commercial LLC, each. At the same time, the campaign also credits Donald for a $2,574.43 in-kind donation. On the surface, it just looks silly that Donald would pay himself then credit the same amount back, but that his campaign would do this, seems to me that there must be some odd accounting trick going on here, particularly since he's paying his bodyguard the same amount at the same frequency. To add onto the oddity, the rest of the payroll is done bi-weekly. So why do that? Sure, campaigns pay a salary to the candidate, but why go weekly payroll for just three entities / people?
  4. Expenses Jump: The campaign's expenditures jumped from $7.8M to $18.5M, half of which was spent on advertising. They're still spending a heck of a lot less than the Hillary campaign (she's spending roughly double that of Donald), and what it comes down to, is that Hillary's got a couple hundred workers involved in a massive ground game while Donald's got squat.
  5. $till Charging More Rent: Like last month, Donald's campaign is still paying out the nose for rent at Trump's properties, now that Donald's raking in the dough from donors not named Donald J. Trump. I mean really, the more he sucks out of his own campaign, the less cash they have to do any campaigning or GOTV efforts, and that's fine by me!


Related to Donald's finances, WaPo's David Fahrenthold has been covering  the Trump Foundation 'charity' and its history of making improper use of the foundation's monies to benefit Donald. I'm sure the IRS will be interested, now that someone else has found the evidence of illegal donations (26 USC § 4941 (d)(1)(E)) and laid out the trail to follow. You can read the IRS' guidelines, and count all the ways Donald has been illegally operating his Foundation for years, including that potential in-kind donation he made to Pam Bondi for underpricing (failing to meet the fair market value) the rental costs of using Mar-a-Lago for her fundraiser.

The man-boy is most definitely in trouble with the law.

12 Thoughts on the Current State of USC Football

  1. Schedule: Say what you want, but the schedule is brutal up front. If you're just a mediocre team -- and on the surface this appears to be the case -- then you're going to look bad. Almost any other team in the FBS would probably have the same record as USC. Nonetheless, losing isn't the real issue here, because...
  2. How You Lose Matters: Most people figured that USC would lose three out of those four games -- Alabama, Stanford, and Utah -- so no one should be upset. But people are upset, and it's because of the way USC lost two games. There was no response to Alabama, after the Tide figuratively punched the Trojans in the mouth, resulting in a historically bad loss for the Trojans. Against Stanford, you could see the mental toughness melt away on both sides of the ball as time wore on. In the first quarter, the Trojans defense pre-snap adjustments looked as if they knew what play was coming, making several plays in the backfield. By the second quarter, they looked as though they stopped communicating. Speaking of communication problems...
  3. Offensive Line Woes: I just don't know how an offensive line that has played together for two straight years can be this bad. The Seattle Seahawks have an excuse: They keep changing out veteran players for the cheaper, low-draft and undrafted picks. What excuse do the Trojans have? 5 false starts in a game is a joke; Stanford isn't even close to being the loudest stadium in the PAC-12.
  4. What Physicality?: The emphasis this season, we were told, would be on physicality; I see none. Against Utah State, they netted just 178 yards on the ground, averaging 4.0 yards per rush. Against Stanford, they were averaging 4.5 yards per rush but only ran the ball 26 times for a net of  117 yards. The dumbest move, by far, has been the elimination of the blocking fullback. We've already seen that the tight ends can't block for shit. Losing Soma Vainuku to graduation meant losing the real physical force behind the run game. I would rather have a blocking fullback than a non-blocking tight end. USC looks like a pretender out there without a blocking fullback. Which highlights the core complaint...
  5. Identity Issues: Many people are wondering why this team doesn't have an 'identity', but in fact, they do. That reverse flea flicker showed that this team's identity is "The Grab Bag Offense". There is no way you would run that against a disciplined team like Stanford's. That stuff works against USC, not against Stanford. On the first series following halftime, USC ran four out of the five first plays, eventually scoring on the drive. In the very next series, they threw three times on their way to a 3-and-out. Why screw up the pattern that was successful? Then there's the start of the 4th quarter when Sam Darnold is sent in to hand the ball off on 4th down, instead of a run-option. It makes no sense whatsoever unless you're just grabbing plays out of the bag. That explains why...
  6. Offense Much Worse Than Last Year: This year the offense is averaging 114 fewer yards per game than last year, ranked 114th in the FBS in total offense. If you took away the Utah State game, the scoring offense would be ranked dead last in the FBS. Even with Utah State taken into consideration, the Trojans offense is ranked 108th out of 128 teams in scoring. The defense hasn't changed from last year, still ranked 65th in total defense, but it is averaging 27 fewer yards this year. Obviously, the big problem here is on offense, even if the defense has its own woes, which can be summed up by...
  7. Lack of Discipline: This isn't the first time we saw USC players fail to cover Christian McCaffrey. You just know that there was an emphasis during the week: Do not let McCaffrey run past you. Yet, once again we saw two defenders jump the short route while McCaffrey flew past them for an easy reception and score. That end-around to Michael Rector was successful because, as I complained about in the Alabama game, someone didn't hold the edge, and instead, flowed with the direction of the offensive line. So naturally, instead of fixing the problems we have...
  8. Changing of the QBs: I can understand the need to change things up, but the quarterback hardly seems to be the problem here. The offensive line, first and foremost, is a big problem. The play-calling is the second, big problem that is stunting the offense. The play of the quarterback? I'd file that concern below the lack of blocking by the tight ends, the lack of receivers securing the ball with both hands, and the absence of a blocking fullback in the scheme. But here's where it gets really tricky for the head coach: If USC loses miserably against Utah, the coach will have invited a full-blown QB controversy and fed into the narrative that the coach doesn't know what he's doing, regardless of the reasons for the loss. It's similar to the bet placed by the administration when it hired the head coach right after the blowout win against UCLA, only to lose an ugly game to Stanford and lose in ridiculous fashion to Wisconsin. If you let Max sit in the pocket for a normal amount of time, he'll find the open receiver; if you can't slow a blitz or hit your blocks, not even Sam Darnold will escape an unblocked defensive end or tackle. Cam Newton is a very fast quarterback and he runs all the time, yet even he can't outrun an unblocked lineman. Speaking of waste of personnel...
  9. Wasting Decoys Away: It is kind of stupid to waste Adoree Jackson's snap counts as a decoy as an X receiver on offense, you know? What would you do on defense, to counter his presence at the X receiver spot? Cover-two, of course! Line him up in the slot next to Juju and you've got a solid decoy that forces the defense to make bad decisions because the cover-2 pushes a slower linebacker to track the slot receiver. This is just one more reason why I have low confidence in the offensive play calling. All you need to look at to understand how this is affecting the personnnel is...
  10. Juju Smith-Schuster: His stock is rapidly declining. Last year he was Cody Kessler's favorite target by far. This year, Darreus Rogers leads all with 153 yards in receptions and Smith-Schuster is second with 99 yards. Against Utah State, he gained just 56 yards. It's not that they're using him as decoy (as they do with Adoree Jackson on offense), but that they're just not throwing the ball his way and letting him go after the ball. But hey, there's a bright side in all this...
  11. Adoree Jackson: He remains the highlight of the season, locking down the opponent's best receiver. Against Michael Rector, Jackson broke up one pass, intercepted another, and held Rector to 3 yards in receptions. Against Alabama, he held Calvin Ridley to just 9 yards. With his speed and athletic ability, he's not just a lockdown corner but a kick return threat, and is definitely headed towards the 1st round in the NFL draft -- the only question is whether he'll make top-5. So with alll this talent...
  12. Best Available Fix: No, firing or forcing the head coach to resign won't make things better; in fact, it'll probably make them worse. The best available fix at the moment is for the team to hire a bunch of consultants to review game film and offer advice about changes that could be implemented right away. Often, coaches hate it when fans and the media offer unsolicited advice, and end up doubling-down on poor decisions. I think we're seeing that right now. Having consultants come in, eases the criticism by sourcing it from people with a lot of knowledge about the game.