Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Three Things Can Happen, Two Are Bad, Passing, part 1

Did you see Baylor-Washington in the Alamo Bowl?  Baylor wins 67-56!  Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III completed 24 of 33 passes for 295 yards.  Washington's QB Price went 23 of 37 for 438 yards.  

In the Fiesta Bowl Stanford's superstar QB Andrew Luck went 27 of 31 for 347 yards while Oklahoma State's Weeden hit 29 of 42 for for 399 yards.   Oklahoma won 38-41 thanks to two missed field goal attempts late in the game.  In the Rose Bowl Oregon completed 18 of 24 for 276 yards while Wisconsin got 19 of 26 for 296 yards, losing the heart breaker 38-45. 

If  you're a Dallas Cowboys fan, you watched in despair as Eli Manning picked apart the Dallas defense and eliminated the Cowboys from the post season.  Have you seen Brees of New Orleans, Rodgers of Green Bay, or Kramer of New England?  Of course you have.  What they do is almost supernatural.  Eerie.  How can anyone throw a football so far with such pin-point accuracy? 

Passing has not always been such a major part of football.  The first pass in a professional football game was in October of 1906.  There were funny rules as football officials tried to decide whether throwing the ball was a good thing or bad. 

Three things can happen, two are bad.  One of the
bad things is the interception - the other team
catches the ball instead of your receiver.
Ohio State's Woody Hayes - the older folks among us remember Woody and the intense rivalry between OSU and Michigan's Bo Schembechler - Woody said "Only three things can happen when you pass and two of them are bad."   I'm not going to relate the history of passing here.  Google "football history passing" and you can read the history for hours.  Rather this post and a few to follow will just be about passing in Women's Professional Football. 

Passing is difficult.  Try it. 

Go to a football field and see how far you can heave the ball.  Try putting a spiral on it so it carries farther.  Then have a friend, someone who can run really fast, race down the field and try to lead your receiver - throwing not to where she is but where she's going to be - so the ball drops into her hands and she can catch it without breaking her stride.  It helps if you were born with a great throwing arm.  And it helps if you grew up playing football with friends and family throwing hundreds of passes until you acquired the skill. 

Now just to make it more interesting, put some really big people between you and your receiver.  Check out the following photos as QB Marisa Rivas attempts a pass.

Marisa Rivas takes the ball from center and fades back to
pass.  And is in trouble immediately as a Dallas defender
is coming un-blocked from her left.

It gets worse as three other defenders shake off their blockers
and take aim on the Austin QB.

Almost got her.   The key word - "almost".  Marisa
escapes the grasp of the would-be tackler.

One tackler down, three to go. 

Protect the ball. Push the blocker away.  Now what was I going to do? 
Reminds you of the old comment, when you're up to your ... in alligators
you my forget you're here to drain the swamp.

In spite of the pressure Rivas manages to throw the ball.  Good thing she is a lefty; one of the
defenders is tying up her right arm.

The ball is gone.  Thrown in the run, off balance, with hostiles in hot pursuit - where
did it go?

You'll have to trust me.  It was a completion.  Honest! 
I didn't get the whole reception.  I'm proud I got as much
as I did.  It is difficult to get both ends of a pass play because
they take place at different parts of the field.

Passing isn't a big part of women's pro football. Because, in my opinion, girls don't grow up throwing the ball over and over and over until they acquire the skill to hit a moving target thirty yards away with a lot of big people in the way. But I do have a fair number of photos of the passing game. In the next few posts, I'll share them with you. 

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