Doug Flutie Talks About His Latest Performance With Capital One

I’ve worked in sports broadcasting for a long time and have come across many different types of people, but Doug Flutie is in a category of his own.  The awards and honors are too many to name and the term “hail mary” cannot be mentioned without thoughts of Doug Flutie coming to mind.  Watching football with him on the set of ABC’s College Football Studio Show is how I really learned how to watch football.  In fact, I still have the diagrams he sketched out for me breaking down Cover 2 vs Cover 3.  And on top of being a football genius (and a musician), Doug Flutie is also a great person.  He consistently associates himself with high quality organizations such as the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and his latest venture is no exception.  The Capital One Cup supports athletic programs by encouraging camaraderie and giving away $400,000 every year. I also should mention that Capital One gives me a free vacation to Europe every year (I love my miles. Seriously, love them).

The CFB Girl: What exactly is the Capital One Cup?

Flutie: It’s an award for the top program in division I [FBS].  There’s one for the 19 women’s sports and one for the 20 men’s sports and it’s awarded for across the board success in their athletic program.

[The way it works], you get a lot more points for national championships.  And the higher profile sports pull a little more weight.  But all the sports count. It goes all the way through the spring and finishes up with the College World Series.  And then the award is given at the ESPY’s each year.  Besides the Capital One Cup itself, you also win a $200,000 scholarship for the men’s program and a $200,000 scholarship for the woman’s program.

The CFB Girl:  How does this affect different sports teams within a school in terms of bringing them together?

Flutie:  I really think it does bring programs together.  You get into the spring and all of the sudden the football and basketball programs are rooting for the baseball team because it can put them in the top ten or push them over the top to win it. And that goes for field hockey, lacrosse, cross-country, or whatever it might be.  The non-revenue generating sports are all of the sudden important to you because it gains extra points and creates a little camaraderie around campus.

The CFB Girl:  Speaking of campus, you are the face of Boston College—and you are working for NBC, the face of Notre Dame.  Is that a conflict of interest?

Flutie:  (laughing) No conflict of interest there, but it’s going very well and the BC people seem to have no issue with it. In fact, the guy who does the play-by-play for the Notre Dame games, Mike Mayock, is also a Boston College graduate.  He graduated just before I got to school. It’s been a good gig—it’s been a lot of fun.  The people I’ve worked with are very enjoyable to be around and upbeat.  We had really high expectations for Notre Dame this year and when they started off 0-2 it was kind of frustrating.

The CFB Girl:  Notre Dame certainly was frustrating to watch when they started 0-2 and also with the amount of turnovers they lost—what is the reason/blame behind that?

Flutie:  I think part of that is Tommy Rees being a young quarterback. Early on he was forcing the issue.  But the thing that’s given [Notre Dame] problems has been athletic teams.  I think they’ll match up well with Stanford. They’ll have trouble shutting Stanford down, but they match up well with them.  They’re very similar types of teams, whereas USC, South Florida and Michigan had speed. And with the South Florida and Michigan games, they just got away.  They should have won those ballgames.  With USC maybe they were outmatched a little bit and got beat.  But it was just a matter of teams that had speed, forcing them to quicken-up the decision making process and all of the sudden guys catching the ball are getting hit faster and quarterbacks are making quicker decisions because the ball’s got to be out of his hands.  Then you make mistakes and that’s what happened–they turned the ball over.  I went out to their training camp and they’re impressive.  They’re as talented as they’ve ever been.  They’re heading in the right direction.

The CFB Girl:  With that game against Michigan, Denard Robinson exploited ND’s secondary.  Is there something from a quarterback’s point of view they could have done to counter that attack?

Flutie:  I think you play a little more zone.  Denard is most dangerous when he’s moving around, buying time.  And that’s what he did in that last drive especially, was to move around, holding the ball a little bit and all of the sudden guys are wide open. You have to contain him. You have to rush a fifth rusher all the time—and don’t go past the quarterback trying to get the big sack.  Just a controlled rush—stay in your lane.  Make him throw directly out of the pocket and don’t let him start moving around.  That’s very doable.  It’s not a tough task.  No matter how athletic a quarterback is, if you teach the defensive ends not to go past the quarterback on your pass rush, you can contain him.  And I think that’s what happened…Denard is an exceptional athlete who started moving around and making plays and that’s the thing that gave Notre Dame issues—the speed both at the quarterback position and the receiver position.

The CFB Girl:  Can you explain what “not going past the quarterback” means to my readers?

Flutie:  If you’re a defensive end, you’re rushing the quarterback.  A lot of defensive ends try to go with speed and go around the offensive tackle and then come in the back door and get to the quarterback.  Well when you do, when you go around, the quarterback can step up under that now and there’s a lane that’s created where he can take off and scramble.  So instead, when a quarterback drops say seven yards deep directly behind the center, as a defensive end you don’t go any deeper than that.  You go seven yards up the field at most, keep your hands on that offensive tackle and just eye the quarterback and mirror him.  And don’t allow him that area to step up through.  But instead what happens is that guys who are especially good pass rushers  and have good speed try to outrun that offensive tackle and go around him and all of the sudden you’re coming in behind the quarterback.  If he’s an athletic guy, he’ll just step up and take off on you.

The CFB Girl: So let’s talk about some other quarterbacks.  What about A.J. McCarron, especially because the way things look we’ll probably see LSU vs Alabama again in the BCS Championship game?

Flutie:  He’s made strides throughout the year.  He’s gotten better, no doubt and he’s getting more and more comfortable.  In that LSU game specifically, Alabama moved the ball much better on the ground than LSU was moving the football and obviously should’ve won it, if they would’ve just put a couple of field goals through.  But McCarron’s not being asked to win the game—he’s being asked to manage the game.  Just hand it off and we’ll throw when we have to.  We’ve got a great defense. Let’s not turn it over.  It keeps a quarterback from growing—it keeps him from fulfilling his potential.  Because you need to turn it loose and not be afraid of making a mistake.  Right now I think he’s afraid of making mistakes so he’s not being a dynamic quarterback.  But I think he’s definitely improved as the year has gone along.  And he has the ability to become a very good quarterback.  If they have to turn it lose at some point, I think he’s definitely improved.

The CFB Girl:  And that’s a tough LSU defense.  How do you think a much more experienced quarterback like Brandon Weeden would have handled them, even though it’s not likely we’re going to see that match-up now that Oklahoma State lost a game?

Flutie: I would have loved to see that.  I think the biggest question mark there would have been: would Brandon Weeden have had time to throw the football with the pass rush? I think West Virginia had a really good model of how to move the ball against LSU.  They passed for over 400 yards.  Spread them out—get the ball out of your hand quickly.  And Brandon knowing the offense the way he does and distributing the ball the way he does, I think he would have been able to get the ball out of his hands quickly.  And he’s got the talent at the receiver position to match up with those defensive backs.  I really would have loved to seen that, other than the fact that LSU probably would have made it a track meet and scored easily because Oklahoma State’s defense is not really strong.

The CFB Girl:  Putting BCS rankings completely aside, who do you think are the top teams in college football right now?

Flutie: It’s LSU and Alabama– no doubt that they are the best two teams right now.  And Arkansas against LSU this week is almost like the Oklahoma-State style of offense—spread it out and turn it lose.  It’s going to be interesting to see if they have time to throw the football and can somebody actually rack up points against LSU? But I get very frustrated with the SEC turning into the championship game and a team won’t even win their division and they’ll be in a championship game.  That’s very frustrating to me.

The CFB Girl:  I’ve always talked about the unique experience of watching football with you and how you not only knew what type of play they’re running, but you can actually call out the name of the play before it happens?  What do people learn from watching a game with Doug Flutie?

Flutie:  That’s there’s a lot more going on than just watching the guy with the ball.  Everybody looks at the ball and follows it—who made the tackle or who threw the ball to which guy.  But I like the “why” something happens. The coverage was rolled that way, so he threw to the opposite side or he threw that into coverage because of this.  I have a habit, and you’ve seen it first hand, I talk a little too much when I’m watching a game.  If I’m sitting with someone who’s just watching the ball, I try to just enlighten them to some of the other things that are going on around the game, whether It’s pass coverage, whether it’s a blitz, whether it’s the design of a run, whatever it might be.

The CFB Girl:  Well you sure did that for me and like I’ve always said, if I ever get more power, the show I’m going to put on air is called “Watching football with Doug Flutie” and we’ll simply put a camera on you watching football.

Flutie:  Let’s go for it Steph.

If you’re curious about the Capital One Cup standings, you can find them here:  Guess who is in first place?  (Hints:  the men’s current first place school plays “Jump Around” between the 3rd/4th quarters of their home football games; the women’s current first place school is better known for basketball than football.)

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