Can Riley be a Hannibal this year?


Hannibal, (247–183 BC) was a Carthaginian military commander and tactician.  He is generally considered to be one of the greatest military commanders of all time.  His father, Hamilcar Barca, was the leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War.  Hannibal lived during a period of tension in the Mediterranean, when the Roman Republic established its supremacy over other great powers such as Carthage, the Hellenistic kingdoms of Macedon, Syracuse, and the Seleucid empire.  One of his most famous achievements was at the outbreak of the Second Punic War, when he marched an army, which included war elephants, from Iberia over the Pyrenees, across the Rhone River, and then over the mighty Alps into northern Italy.  In his first few years in Italy, he won three dramatic victories — Trebia, Trasimene, and Cannae — and won over several allies of Rome.  Hannibal occupied much of Italy for 15 years, but a Roman counter-invasion of North Africa forced him to return to Carthage, where he was decisively defeated by Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama which ended the Second Punic War.  Hannibal is considered one of the great strategists in war because he found ways to overcome much larger Roman forces against the odds.

Mike Riley faces a similar situation this year in that in order to make the Sun Bowl or better he will have to overcome the odds and navigate a team through the many obstacles of the season and into a pretty good bowl.  With Ryan Katz now in his second year we should see that leap in performance we have witnessed in the past when QBs are in their second year.  We also have an impressive group of receivers and a new coach, Brent Brennan leading them.  The group includes Markus Wheaton, James Rodgers, Jordan Bishop, Joe Halahuni, Darrell Catchings, Kevin Cummings and Obum Gwacham.  Running Back will be more challenging as we replace Jacquizz Rodgers but look for Terron Ward, Storm Woods, Ryan McCants, Jordan Jenkins and Jovan Stevenson.  On defense Lance Mitchell, Michael Doctor and Cameron Collins seem to be likely leaders.

For Riley to have a better season than expected and do better than a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and a return to San Francisco, he will have to have win some key batttles.  He will need to have a couple outcomes similar to Hannibal’s victories at Trebia, Trasimene and Cannae and get some unexpected W’s.  At Arizona St., at Utah and Stanford at home would be comparable in their impact in my mind.  Wisconsin is too much too early so we really need to learn as much as we can from it and carry it over to a key early matchup in Tempe against Erickson’s Sun Devils.  We will get UCLA at home right before this as an additional tune-up.  At Utah will be a very tough game but we should have beat them our last trip there except for a poor pass interference call on 4th down at the back of the endzone in the final seconds and poor execution overall down the final stretch.  Riley and Brennan will need to come up with an ambuscade worthy of Lake Trasimene where Hannibal’s men caught the Romans in some early morning fog and surprised and pinned them to death along the shores of the lake.

Cannae was Hannibal’s biggest victory and Stanford at home, just one week after Utah, presents an

opportunity where a win seems quite unlikely but is still possible in front of a sold out Reser.  To upset Andrew Luck and the Cardinal after last year’s shellacking in Palo Alto, where we were defeated 38-0, would give the Beavers great momentum and national prestige.

It would be a huge moment whether we were coming off a win at Utah or not, but if we did beat Utah first the buzz would be incredible.  The Pac-12 would be taking alot of notice of the Beavers and even some Ducks would think the Civil War could get more dicey than they really want.  In the end, it would probably be the grand achievement for the season as fans say “Riley, you know how to gain a victory, but not how to use one.”

Still if we could get even 2 of these 3 key victories, the Beavers will have a great shot at a Sun or maybe even a Holiday Bowl.  All 3 and the Beavers would be looking at a Holiday with a chance at the Alamo Bowl.  In my personal opinion I don’t think the Beavers will win more than 1 of these games.  They could win 2 but at this point I don’t see it.  Thus, a Kraft Fight Hunger or hopefully a Las Vegas Bowl seem more likely.  That would be OK.  What would be bad for Riley is to not make any bowl.  Then the noise from the fans will grow and Riley may be forced to replace atleast one coordinator to buy himself another chance in 2012 when the team looks to be stronger and time would be running out for excuses.  If Riley could not get us to the Holiday Bowl in 2012, with great receivers and a 3rd year QB, then I would be interviewing Mike Leach if he somehow remains available and we can Swing Our Swords with him. (His new book just came out. *Some info from Wikipedia)