The University of Florida looked putrid in a victory over Miami of Ohio on Saturday (college football is the only sport where a 22-point victory can be called putrid with a straight face). Their offense could not get into a rhythm, in part because newly converted center Mike Pouncey kept snapping the ball down around quarterback John Brantley’s feet. Since Brantley, like most Division I-A quarterbacks, throws with his arm, this was one of the big storylines on Sunday.
On Monday, ESPN Radio’s Scott Van Pelt reported something unusual: Pouncey was available for media interviews. According to Van Pelt, Sports Information Directors tend to shield student athletes who have had rough games from press interviews. But Pouncey calmly answered questions and took the blame for the team’s disappointing performance. And he didn’t give ESPN the exclusive, also sharing his mea culpa with Florida papers like the Miami (of Florida) Herald:
Showing the maturity of a valued team leader, Florida center Mike Pouncey took the blame for his offense’s unflattering start to the 2010 season… After the game, Pouncey said he planned to arrive at UF’s football facility “early in the morning” Sunday to begin correcting his shotgun snaps. When asked whether his hands were injured, Pouncey said they were not; rather, he said the ball was slipping off his fingertips.
So what will the announcers talk about next week? Probably the fact that Pouncey is a stand-up guy. Sure, there will be questions about Pouncey’s technique, but none about his intelligence, commitment, or fortitude. If he keeps snapping worm burners, the assumption will be that he should return to his original position at guard and that he simply doesn’t have the physical ability to snap the ball, despite trying his hardest. There would not be loud whispers that he’s psyched out by the pressure of performing.
(And it’s worth noting that Pouncey will probably get the lion’s share of attention this week – taking some of the heat off the rest of the underperforming offense and endearing himself to his teammates even more.)
It helps that Pouncey has a track record of success to point to. More than that, though, the way he handled his failures honestly and proactively will win him the benefit of the doubt heading into next week’s game – and the best chance to turn those failures into successes.