Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opened this week and is already filling Disney’s coffers, banking a tick over $71 million on its Friday opening alone, the third-biggest opening day of 2016.
***We interrupt this column to bring you live coverage of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy at Disney headquarters.
Early reports on the film itself are mostly positive, a sunny development for fans of the franchise. Any Star Wars movie that Disney cranks out is going to be a money machine, but the critical success of the first standalone film eases up pressure on the upcoming spin-offs on Han Solo and the rumored flick surrounding Boba Fett, the infamous bounty hunter.
If Rogue One is looked upon favorably, it will encourage Disney and Lucasfilm to continue to take risks and step out of their comfort zone, something they were clearly reluctant to do in The Force Awakens. (Though after prequels flopped in the eyes of critics, it’s hard to blame Kennedy & Co.)
Now, let’s talk football and rank stuff!
1. Ohio State’s ability to disguise its QB-run game
SB Nation’s Ian Boyd wrote an engaging piece this week about how the Buckeyes cloak their intention to use J.T. Barrett to plow the ball down their opponent’s throats back into the Stone Age by creating various looks that appear like surefire pass-first formations.
As Boyd noted, the Buckeyes will line up in three wide receiver sets all the time, giving the appearance of a pass play to the untrained eye. In one instance against Oklahoma, the Sooners covered Dontre Wilson, the slot receiver, even though Wilson was ineligible to receive a pass because he was on the same side of the field with two other wideouts who were lined up on the line of scrimmage.
This constant mixing and matching of formations is often an elaborate veil to A) create a simple numbers advantage and B) conceal Urban Meyer and Ohio State’s desire to use Barrett as a 222-pound battering ram.
As long as the Buckeyes can get away with this near-sorcery, don’t expect them to suddenly whip the ball around the field in the air.
2. Dabo Dabo Do
Clemson’s first three full years under Dabo Swinney: 25-16.
Clemson under Swinney since: 58-9.
How’s Dabo done it? Upping the Tigers’ recruiting efforts, and getting the most out of that talent.
The average ranking (per 247Sports) of the last five recruiting classes put together by Tommy Bowden (Swinney’s predecessor) was 20.8. Somehow, Bowden brought in the 46th-ranked class in the country in 2004; the other four classes were ranked between 10th and 18th.
Swinney has kicked things up a notch (especially recently) as his last five full classes —which excludes his current 10th-ranked class — have averaged a ranking of 13.4. And not only is Swinney roping in higher-caliber talent, he’s getting the most out of it.
For the second year in a row, the Tigers are in the College Football Playoff despite ranking outside of the top five in 247Sports’ composite talent rankings. Clemson is 10th this year, and reached the national title game a year ago after coming in 13th in the composite talent rankings.
Clemson is a recruiting factory, but history shows it’s hasn’t been able to recruit at the level of an Alabama (duh), but also programs like Ohio State, LSU, Florida State, Southern Cal, Michigan, Notre Dame, and a handful of other SEC programs (depending on the year). But that’s hasn’t stopped Clemson from getting players drafted; in early August, 45 ex-Tigers were in NFL camps, up from the previous program record of 37 set in 2015.
Clemson was really good when they outlasted Ohio State 40-35 in the 2014 Orange Bowl; they’re better now.
3. Making Michigan sweat
Donovan Peoples-Jones was long thought to be a heavy Michigan lean, and the nation’s top-ranked wide receiver ended up choosing to continue his football career in Ann Arbor after he announced his decision on national television Thursday night.
But, there was some “smoke” (as the recruitniks say) over the past week or so that Peoples-Jones — who attends high school at Cass Tech in Detroit, the alma mater of three current Buckeyes, Mike Weber, Damon Webb, and Joshua Alabi — may be having a change of heart. Otherwise, why would Urban Meyer and Kerry Coombs messed with Mother Nature last weekend when they ventured to Detroit in a snowstorm to visit the five-star WR?
The smoke turned out to be exactly that. But it seems like Ohio State’s coaches didn’t exactly make life easy for Michigan.
4. Torrance Gibson’s forgettable tenure in Columbus
In the days leading up to the onset of Ohio State’s 2016 season, the quarterback-turned-receiver was suspended by the university for the fall semester for a violation of university’s student code of conduct. (Meyer disagreed with the university’s decision to suspend Gibson.)
Now, it appears Gibson’s career as a Buckeye will end before he ever appears in a game.
Earlier this week, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College tweeted a graphic declaring that Gibson had signed his letter of intent (as a QB) with the school; Gibson denied that he’s set on attending a JUCO. It’s within the rules for Gibson, a redshirt freshman, to sign with a JUCO and still try to re-enroll at Ohio State, but the writing appears on the wall.
Hopefully the former four-star recruit can find whatever path works for him in the near future, even if it isn’t in Columbus.
A recap of Saturday’s weather in Cincinnati:
- Single digits in the morning.
- Torrential downpour in the afternoon/evening.
- Single digits near midnight.
Go away, winter.