Sunday, December 27, 2009

McGrady Couldn't Grasp The Secret

About two months ago I purchased sportswriter Bill Simmons's recent book The Book of Basketball. The book details every issue of NBA basketball that you can imagine. In short, the book is a terrific read.

One part of the book I enjoyed dealt with what Simmons described at "The Secret." Basically, The Secret is that in order for a team to be successful, individual players have to focus more on the team and not on the individual. When a player understands the team is more important than the individual, they understand the secret. The Secret is a vital part of all sports, but all too often it's ignored.

I bring this topic up because of the recent events dealing with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have been without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady for much of the season. Despite the team's lack of a real superstar, the unit still continues to play tremendous team basketball each night. Remarkably the team is the West's seventh seed.

Recently Tracy McGrady returned to the lineup. After being upset with his diminished role the Rockets cut him loose. Some people out there might be confused Houston let go of one of the league's best scorers but at the end of the day it comes down to one thing:

Tracy McGrady did not know The Secret.

Look at the Houston Rockets now. They play TEAM basketball. This is an extremely important concept to grasp. Yes, they are not the most talented group of guys out there, but they play as a unit. They have a plethora of guys (Aaron Brooks, Chuck Hayes, Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, and Shane Battier) who are willing to adjust their playing time to better the TEAM. When McGrady came back into the lineup that important chemistry is lost. Losing team chemistry is detrimental to a team's successes. The instant one man (McGrady) put himself above the team was the instant he lost his job with the Rockets. Houston reminds me in some ways of the Detroit Pistons from a couple teams ago. McGrady's lack of an ability to grasp this concept is what is wrong with the NBA. Far too often the man who puts up 30 points a night is glorified over the guy who sacrifices minutes and shots because he knows it will better the team.

I admire Coach Rick Adelman and how he got rid of McGrady before the problem progressed.

New Orleans Saints: Back to Normal

There are many things in a person's life that are purely fantasies. There are things out there each person holds as an absolute dream. It varies for each person, but the general guideline is the same - it's a fantasy, and despite the impossible nature of it, you still desire it.

Exhibit A: The New Orleans Saints

For much of the franchise's existence the team has been, well, lousy. For years the team has continuously disappointed the fanbase and has miraculously found ways to lose in the most incredible of scenarios. Sure the franchise had some good years, but they were short lived...and then 2009 came. The year we, the fans, someone started to put Saints with Super Bowl.

For thirteen straight games the New Orleans Saints dazzled fans across the country. In an unbelievable course of events the Saints were 13-0. When victory seemed impossible the Saints won. They found a way every week. It did not matter what the deficit was, the team would rally together and overcome the obstacle.

Last Saturday this fantasy world burst. In the Superdome the Saints lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-17. The team made a late rally, but at the end of the day the Saints had their first loss of the season. It stung, but we, the fans, convinced ourselves it was good. In fact it was great because now the undefeated talks could be sweep up under the rug. Is that not how the conversation went?

Then it happened. The fantasy world exploded. With a thud the Saints, in classic Saint manner, lost to the 2-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17 in overtime. In every imaginable way the Saints found a way to lose. First, they gave the fans the perception they were going to win easily when they built up a 17-0 lead in the first half. Next, the team installed a lousy style of defense that again let the opposition's running back run for 1.2 miles. Then, in the biggest moment of the game the Saints did not convert a 3rd and 7. Next, they gave up a punt return for a touchdown in a classic Saints manner. (Wait, we are not done yet!) After that the Saints' kicker Garrett Hartley shanked a potential game winning 37 yard field goal. (Thanks Garrett! You managed to lose all credibility with one swing of the leg!) And finally, but most importantly, the defense allowed Tampa Bay to drive right down the field and kick a field goal to win in overtime.

Wow. What a list! At moments like these you have to admire how this team managed to convince a fan base and a country that these Saints were different than past teams. We were lead to believe they would stop working so hard to lose a game. We were wrong.

I am a fool for falling under the spell of the 2009 New Orleans Saints. Please do not think I am rooting against them, rather I know what to expect for future games. I understand they are 13-2, but the thing is they showed their colors today. They showed that classic find-a-way-to-lose Saints attitude that fans have grown to hate over the years. And now it's back at the worst part of the season.

I wrote this article with one thing in mind - warning the masses. The ingredients seem to be coming together for a meltdown in the Big Easy. Again, I have watched this team my entire life. When they find ways to lose like they did today the season melts away.

I am not a negative person, I am a realist.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week 15 NFL Wrap Up

How's this for a change? College football, always synonymous with chaos (cough - BCS), was a bit more predictable this year. And even more ironic is the NFL and how recent events has turned everything upside down.

Bottom line - the NFL has been more chaotic this year than college football. (There's a first.)

Without further ado here's a look back at the biggest story lines to come out of Week 15.

Cowboys hand New Orleans their first loss of the season

Someone forgot to tell Dallas they do not win December games and that no one wins in the Superdome other than the Saints. Outside of a late fourth quarter rally, Dallas dominated the vast majority of their 24-17 victory. I was most impressed by Tony Romo's maturity. Romo, who has been subject to his fair share of criticism, did an awfully good job on shutting up the doubters. He went 22 of 34 for 312 yards and a touchdown. Outside of a great game Romo also had ZERO turnovers. In Dallas's first three losses this year, Romo averaged over two turnovers a game.

One week after being carted off the field, DeMarcus Ware made a Willis Reed-like appearance that included two tackles and two huge sacks on Drew Brees.

Honestly, if there any reason to think that Dallas can't beat anyone if that play at that level again? Simply put, no. The Cowboys showcased on Saturday night that when they play their best they can beat anyone.

On other side the New Orleans Saints looked out of sorts for most of the game. Suffering from some key injuries on defense was apparent throughout the game, but even with those injuries I am still shocked how inept the offense was most of the game. Dallas did their homework.

Oakland Beats a Playoff Team...Again

This is getting awfully strange. The Oakland Raiders were swept by the Kansas Chiefs this year, but they still have somehow beaten four playoff teams. Each victory, believe it or not, makes people start to think that maybe Tom Cable is building a team for the future. Oakland has taken down Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and as of yesterday, Denver. The thing that's worth noting is the last two (Pittsburgh, Denver) where away games. And how about some redemption for JaMarcus Russell? A couple weeks after having been benched, the former No. 1 quarterback came into the game to lead the Raiders to a game winning touchdown. Sure it was only a measly 58 yard drive against a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde Broncos team, but rest assured the 20-19 victory by the Raiders speaks volumes about Russell. Basically, do not throw the towel in on him yet. The game was on the line and he delivered. That means something no matter how you cut it.

Carolina's Defense Cripples Minnesota

Everything was falling into place for the Vikings. The Saints lost meaning they could grab a game in the race for home field advantage and the Packers lost meaning the team had won it's second straight division title. But for some reason for the second time in three weeks the Vikings came out flat, and worse they never recovered. Carolina came into the game 5-8 and officially eliminated from playoff contention, yet John Fox's crew still played their best football of the year. In only his third start, Matt Moore outplayed Brett Favre by throwing for 299 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Even with DeAngelo Williams leaving the game with an ankle injury in the first half, the offense was still able to muster points against a stiff Minnesota defense. After three quarters the score stood 7-6 Minnesota, and the end of the fourth it read 26-7.

A couple thing really stood out. First, when Minnesota's running game struggles (only 41 yards)the rest of the offense struggles. Brett Favre is not capable of carrying the team to victory with just his passing. Adrian Peterson feeds off Brett Favre, and Brett Favre feeds off Adrian Peterson. Second, I know it's too early, but Matt Moore is getting better each game. Here's a list of how he has done in his three starts.

Game 1: Tampa Bay (16-6 W) 14/20 161 yards 0 TD 1 INT

Game 2: @ New England (20-10 L) 15/30 197 yards 1 TD 0 INT

Game 3: Minnesota (26-7 W) 21/33 299 yards 3 TD 0 INT

Are we looking at Carolina's QB of the future?

Also worth noting, if Minnesota wants to get home field advantage they will have to go 2-0 (@ CHI, NYG) and New Orleans will have to go 0-2 (TB, @ CAR). It's not entirely out of the question, but it will be difficult.

Rejuvenated Cleveland Browns

It's very difficult to find anything positive about a franchise that is currently 3-11, but I think for the Browns we can make an exception. Since the team's bye week in Week 9 the squad has been playing a lot better to say the least. Sure they are only 2-4 since the bye week, but unlike their first eight games the Browns are in all the games. In their four losses they are only losing by an average score of 25-17. Even better the team has reeled off a two game winning streak after 41-34 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. I really do not care if they beat a lowly Chiefs team, all that matter is the team is still playing with heart.

Lackluster Pats Win

The Patriots' defense was Belichikian in yesterday's 17-10 victory over the Bills, it's the offense that worries me. Yes, I know Buffalo has a solid defense, but still only 17 points? Even crazier is how Buffalo would of gotten the onsides kick back with just over three minutes left had it not been for an atrocious penalty on Buffalo. New England got the victory and that's all that matters. Still, as the playoffs approach I wonder how this team will respond against the likes of the Bengals, Ravens or Broncos. With all that taken into consideration these are the New England Patriots and when they enter the playoffs they always seem to play better.

Last Second Steeler Heroics

It may have only moved their record to 7-7, but regardless it was a much needed 37-36 victory over the Packers. With three seconds left, Big Ben finalized an amazing drive by throwing a laser to Mike Wallace from 19 yards out. Wow. What a play. Even crazier is the fact that Pittsburgh can STILL make the playoffs! Right now in the AFC six teams have the record of 7-7. I understand a lot has to go right for Pitt to get into the playoffs, but crazier things have happened. All that matters is that they are still in the hunt.

A couple things that caught my attention. This is not the first time the Packers have lost because their defense could not make a play in the games final moments. It happened against the Buccaneers earlier in the year and it happened Sunday. My point? This is an area of concern. What's to say Green Bay does not find themselves winning in the playoffs only to lose because their defense is invisible in the game's waning moments? Second, what happened to this Pittsburgh defense?! Big Ben threw for 503 yards and they still only won by one point because of an incredible play. Remember that Steelers' defense? They would shutdown high octane offenses and Big Ben would take care of the rest. That's not the case this year. In the offseason things are going to change.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Evaluating the Saints Loss

Losing sucks. There's no way around it. And tonight's Saints game was no different, if anything it was more painful. Yet despite the outcome there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, I know I wanted it too. The New Orleans Saints for crying out loud where 13-0 and the thought of going 16-0, even 19-0 was still a possibility. After the miraculous win against Washington, people started to believe that it was, gasp, destiny. Then in one evening it all came crashing down.

It is so simple when you look back on the Saints 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. For once the Saints got jumped on in the first quarter and for once Drew Brees was getting knocked around all night. Sure the Saints had close calls this year, but no one got pressure on Drew Brees the way Dallas did. After tonight I would put the Dallas Cowboy defensive line between Batman and Superman. It looked that good.

All night it was the same thing. Dallas played flawless, New Orleans looked flat. So many things went wrong for New Orleans. Where do you start? Is it the poor tackling or the lousy run defense that made Tony Romo look like Barry Saunders? Better yet was it the fact that Devery Henderson dropped a touchdown or how the team scored zero points after Courtney Roby took the kickoff back to the Dallas 30? Doesn't matter who you cut it up they lost and that little magical dream so many had is gone.

So what. Move on.

In all honesty this is the most important thing to take into consideration. After having played lousy for three quarters and going into the fourth quarter down 24-3 the Saints refused to fall over. They kept fighting.

For three quarters I watched the Saints defense (yet again) get embarrassed on third down. When the fourth quarter started hope was nearly gone. It seemed the Saints where going to go down easy and lose pathetically 31-6 on their own turf.

But they didn't. They fought. They regrouped and somehow got things rolling. Brees got back into the zone and helped get one touchdown. 24-10. And then for the first time all game the defense made a huge third down stop. Again Brees brought the team down and again he showed the resolve of the Saints. Lance Moore caught a screen and it was 24-17. And finally when all hope seemed lost, when it seemed the game was over Dallas kicker Nick Folk shanked a 24 yard chip shot. It was epic. The Saints were yet again bailed out by an NFL kicker missing an extra point-esque kick. There was still hope. Slowly, but surely the Saints marched down the field, only this time luck run out.

In a fitting manner the Dallas defensive line put the stamp on an embarrassing humiliation of the Saints' offensive line. The loss stings no doubt, but I take pride in knowing that down by 21 in the fourth quarter was still not enough of a reason for the Saints to throw the towel in.

Think of it this way - the Cowboys played a perfect game and the Saints made every mistake they could make, yet New Orleans still had a shot at winning in the end. Believe it or not, that says something.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Looking Back on My College Football Predictions

Making predictions has never been my best asset, but still it remains something I hope to get better at. With that said, I would like to look back at the predictions I made at the beginning of this 2009 college football season.

Then: Florida WILL go undefeated and they WILL win the National Championship.
(I keep looking and when I really evaluate this team I do not see them tripping up once.)

Now: It really is strange when you think about how the Tebow Show is over. I was confident the Gators would prevail over the Crimson Tide. All summer and year there was so much certainty that the Gators were going to win the title. I bought into it. Sure the offense was stagnant in some games, but the team kept winning. Tebow would not fall. And then it happened. Alabama hit Florida in the mouth like no one has ever done against Tebow. In 60 minutes of football it was all over.

Then: By the end of October the California Bears WILL no longer be in the dark horse National Championship talk.
(I have been hearing all summer how this Cal team is going to make some noise. I do not see this year being any different from the other years we, the fans, were lead to believe this.)

Now: I could not have been more right about this prediction. I saw this coming from 10 miles away. At 3-0 the Golden Bears traveled to Oregon only to lose 42-3. The next week the team lost their homecoming to USC 30-3. Poof! Two games, two losses, National Title talk dead. After all the hype California finished the season with 4 losses and an invite to the Poinsetta Bowl to play Utah. Ouch.

Then: Ohio State WILL beat USC on September 12th.
(Matt Barkley is 18 years old. He turns 19 on September 8th. He has never started a college game. I do not think in his second game of the year he will be able to pull out a victory in front of 100,000+ screaming fans. I do not care how good he was in high school and I'm sure he will have a fine college career. But at the end of the day I do not think with such little experience he will be able to beat the Buckeyes.)

Now: They had them! Ohio State had USC! The crowd was there, the team was there, but the Buckeyes could not stop freshman Matt Barkley from driving down the field and pulling out an 18-15 victory. Even worse, Terrelle Pryor, the proclaimed savior, turned the ball over on downs with a minute left. Wasn't Pryor brought in to win games like these?

Then: Baylor behind the nation's best kept secret, quarterback Robert Griffin, will pull off a big upset this year, but Baylor will not going bowling this year.

Now: Poor Baylor. Had Griffin not torn his ACL in week three against Northwestern State this team would of gone bowling. Griffin was already putting up some ridiculous numbers. Baylor was 2-1 when Griffin was playing, when he was not they were 1-7. Let's hope Griffin comes back strong in 2010.

Then: Miami Florida's head coach Randy Shannon will be fired at the end of the year as his team will again under perform. The Hurricanes will finish with 5 losses.

Now: What do I really know? Geez I never thought Miami would start the season the way they did. So what if the Hurricanes got screwed out of a quality bowl game, Shannon's crew still finished 9-3. More importantly The U is on the rise behind Jacory Harris.

Then: Michigan will not lose more than 4 games.

Now: Another "great" call by me. I thought I was on track when Michigan started 4-0, including a win over a "good" Notre Dame team. In the team's final 8 games the Wolverines went 1-7. RichRod has one more season to right the ship or he will be unemployed. It's still appalling to think that UM is 8-16 in the past two years! Despite that awful record, freshman QB Tate Forcier does look like the real deal.

Then: Once again Texas will just sneak by Oklahoma State. Much like the Fiesta Bowl, Colt McCoy will lead Texas for a late score at the end of the game to beat the Cowboys.

Now: How am I so bad at predicting? This game was never close. Texas destroyed the Cowboys 41-14. My only salvation is knowing it was only 3-0 Texas after the first quarter. That's not bad, right?

Then: Oklahoma beats Texas. Oklahoma loses two games. Texas goes to the Big 12 Championship and then the National Championship.

Now: This was about a half and half. I was right about Texas winning the Big 12 and heading to the National Championship, but on the other side I was completely wrong. Oklahoma lost five games (not two) and the Sooners did not beat Texas (it was close, but they lost 16-13). Keep in mind there's no telling how this Oklahoma team does if Sam Bradford doesn't get injured the first week.

Then: Notre Dame will be getting a BCS bowl after they finish the season with only 2 losses. And yes they will lose to USC again.

Now: You know when a bad car crash happens you tell yourself not to look, but you still do? That's EXACTLY what these predictions are like. They are so off, but at the same time I can not stop reading them. Short and sweet - I was right about ND falling to USC yet again, but the whole BCS talk is disturbing to think about it. After the USC loss the wheels really started coming off the wagon. The four game losing streak to end the season (Navy, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Stanford) was pathetic. But because of the team's lousy play they were "rewarded" with the hidden gem of the college football world - Brian Kelly.

Then: Alabama will lose at the most 2 games during the regular season. Ole Miss will lose only one when the Bengals come into town. Ole Miss will go to the SEC Championship Game.

Now: FAIL! Alabama never lost a game and the LSU did not beat Ole Miss. Even better Ole Miss never went to the SEC Championship Game. Wow these predictions only get worse. Also I am guilty, I did start to believe Ole Miss was legit.

Then: LSU will have their swagger back this year, but a very hard schedule will keep them out of the SEC Championship Game.

Now: Meh. A tough schedule was a big reason LSU did not qualify for the SEC Championship along with a number of other things such as erratic playcalling, an erroneous missed interception against Alabama, and the ultimate brain fart against Ole Miss. But with all that said LSU could of found itself in a BCS bowl had Les Miles not gone brain dead in the waning seconds against Ole Miss. Okay new subject that still gets me mad.

Then: Rutgers will not win the Big East. Pittsburgh will take the conference and the coveted BCS bowl bid.

Now: I was so close! Rutgers never lived up to expectations so that whole "BCS berth" talk was flushed down the toilet early on. As far as Pittsburgh goes they had a 21 point lead at home on an undefeated Cincinnati team. Even worse they had a six point lead with a minute half left. The one time the defense needed to step up they failed.

Then: West Virginia will have 5 losses this year. Speculation will begin about whether Bill Stewart is the right guy for the job.

Now: This one surprised me. Really thought WV would take a step back with Pat White gone. The team only has three losses going into a Gator Bowl match up with Florida State. If the Mountineers can pull out a victory a 10 win season will silence some critics...for now.

Then: Alabama will beat Virginia Tech 31-14. Tech has a defense, but the offense will not be able to do anything against Alabama's defense.

Now: This game was a lot closer than I expected. It was not until the 4th quarter that the Tide pulled away. Once again Alabama used the first game of the season to send a message.

Then: Texas A&M has another losing season and surprisingly gives Mike Sherman one more year.

Now: A&M finished with a 6-6 record meaning they barely missed out on having another losing season. The Aggies showed great potential against the Longhorns when they nearly pulled off the upset of the year. Having QB Jerrod Johnson back along with freshman running back Christine Michael will give some fans a reason to give A&M a sleeper label for 2010.

Then: Dan LeFevour. He's what some would call the "poor man's Tim Tebow." He will lead Central Michigan to the MAC Title and to go along with that Houston will win the Conference-USA.

Now: Just when I thought I had no hope I pull this one out! LeFevour continued to set records his entire senior year. To cement a great career LeFevour led CMU to a MAC Title over Ohio. On the other hand I was awfully close with Houston, but East Carolina beat them in the CUSA Title game 38-32. So close!

Then: Sorry Archie Griffin, but you no longer have the record by yourself. Tim Tebow will win the Heisman trophy.

Now: At the beginning of the year it seemed destined for the trophy to go to either Sam Bradford or Tim Tebow, instead Alabama's Mark Ingram stole the show. Ingram won the closest race ever by beating Stanford's Toby Gerhart by only 28 points.

Then: Oregon looked pretty impressive in their bowl victory against Oklahoma State so I will have to take the Ducks. Look for Oregon to end Boise State's 49-game regular-season home winning streak. It will be decided by one score.

Now: You know what would of been funny? Had I predicted a fight at the end of the game. Sadly I didn't. Even worse I was dead wrong about this prediction. Boise State dominated Oregon 19-8.

Enjoy the bowl season, and yes, I too am very excited for the San Diego County Credit Union Bowl. And by the way how far away are we from having a very awkward bowl name? For instance, the Viagara Bowl, the Good Housekeeping Magazine Bowl, the Playtex Bowl, or (drum roll)the Beggin' Strips Bowl.

Trust me we are not that far away!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Aftermath of a Disgusting Display of LSU Football

It’s been two days since LSU fell to Ole Miss 25-23 in one of the most disgusting games I have seen in recent LSU history. I had to wait two days before I wrote anything about that game, after all no one wants to read a blog written entirely in CAPS lock.

But now I have to do the inevitable. I have to sort through the mess on the table that is called LSU football. The one thing that needs to be noted is my disgust in Saturday’s game does not entirely have to do with losing a game, or it being LSU’s third loss, or that it was against an arch rival, no it has to do with the manner in which LSU lost.

If LSU lost 25-23 in a hard fought game where the team lost on a 44 yard field goal to win the game I would be disappointed, but nowhere near what I, along with so many LSU fans, feel right now. In short, LSU’s team in, all facets, looked incompetent Saturday. The offense, defense, coaching and game plan where hideous to say the least. The funny thing is my dad pointed out an interesting thing during the game. This LSU team found a way to lose in the same manner the old Saints did. How many times can you remember in the past the Saints having a game wrapped up only to cough it up in the end? It was so painful to watch and by the looks of it is seems to be the new game plan LSU is now adopting.

First let’s evaluate the offense. For much of the game (especially the second half) the unit was about as efficient as Shaq at the free throw line. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson looked out of sorts. The delay of game penalties where nauseating as well as No. 9’s inability to understand that as a quarterback, eventually you have to throw the ball away. Jefferson will make three great plays in a row, followed by getting sacked after holding on the ball for three minutes, which will be proceeded by getting a delay of game penalty. I am getting used to seeing a 2nd and 5 explode into a 3rd and 14. Then again Jefferson is still a freshman quarterback and is still learning. Sure we expected him to be past these problems, but nonetheless his youth has to be taken into account. The same cannot be said for Brandon Lafell.

One of the most important aspects of a team is a quality, senior wide receiver that is, among other things, reliable. A senior wide receiver is supposed to fall into this sentence – “Geez that was a rough throw, but good thing (his name) was there or else it would have been incomplete. I’m glad he’s on our team that guy knows how to make a big play at a big moment.” In the past LSU has had numerous receivers fit this roll – Josh Reed, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and Early Doucet. Now I understand not all those guys where seniors but they understood the concept that they are the No. 1 wide receiver. It is there job to make the catch regardless of the circumstances or how it was thrown. Lafells missed this. His entire career he has shown great moments of concentration, yet at the same moment his entire career he has continuously dropped big passes in key moments. Saturday’s game against Ole Miss was the most troubling. There was a stat shown during the game that said Lafell had the ball thrown to him 8 times, but only had 3 catches. Granted you can say some where Jefferson’s fault, but I know of two that hit Lafell right in his hands, only to be dropped. A potential first round draft pick, I have to scratch my head and wonder why this senior, this No.1 wide receiver is still gagging on television during a big plays. Unacceptable.

With a stagnant offense, comes a lousy game plan. Despite having Jefferson back (only 70%) the LSU offense struggled for much of night. Blame can be put on Jefferson for only so much. At the end of the day the finger has to be pointed at Gary Crowton. Formally known as The Wizard I can only help but think that nickname has washed away. Even though the running game was doing a modest job, Crowton felt inclined to pass the ball every play. At the end of the game Jefferson threw the ball 37 times! Since when has Jefferson been a gunslinger to the point he will throw the ball 37 times in a game? The answer – he’s not. I have stood by Crowton for much of the year. After the Louisiana Tech game I gave him the benefit of the doubt that it was only because Jarrett Lee was quarterback. Yet after the collapse in Oxford I can only help but really question Crowton’s scheme. If LSU’s offense is doing as poorly as it is with the talent it has then in all honesty a new offensive coordinator needs to come in. Period.

Also why, oh why, Mr. Crowton would you think it would be appropriate to call the same two-point conversion play twice? Here is my problem a) Terrence Tolliver, despite his size, has never done one of those end zone leaps. It looks good on paper, but to try something like that at that moment was not a good decision. And b) so you did the play once, why the same one after the pass interference call? This is not backyard football. You cannot run the same play on a key moment in the game. LSU was two yards away from tying the score. It just baffles me.

And yes I do realize Crowton was not the only one calling plays. We will get to the head coach sooner or later.

As much as the offense as struggled this season, the defense has always remained solid for LSU. After some early games where the unit looked out of sorts, defensive coordinator John Chavis really got things under control as the team began giving up less than 20 points a game. For the majority of Ole Miss game the unit kept the Rebels in check. They did this until the biggest drive of the game.

Ole Miss got the ball at their own 35 yard line with 12:08 left in the game. Once the Rebels kicked a field goal to go up 25-17 the drive had lasted 15 plays and 60 yards and took over 8:26! On that drive Ole Miss completed a 3rd and 2, a 3rd and 1, and a 3rd and 7. The only consolation for the drive is that LSU did stop them on 3rd and Goal to give up only a field goal.

Even after the dreadful offensive play calling, the porous offense, and the inconsistent offense, LSU still had a chance to win the game at the end. They had the ball at the Ole Miss 32 with 1:04 left. Jefferson, again, got sacked, which followed by him throwing a silly screen pass to Stevan Ridley. The play ended with 26 seconds left in the game and counting. LSU would be facing a 4th and 26 and any person with a brain bigger than a peanut would realize, "Hmm why don't I call a timeout now? I mean I don't want to get a first down and have the clock run out on me." Well, apparently the Mad Hatter did not think this. In fact the Mad Hatter let 17 seconds run off the clock before a timeout was called with 9 seconds left. And of course the 4th and 26 was converted for 42 yards. LSU ran down the field to hike the ball once more, but with only 1 second remaining the Tigers were unable to hike the ball before the game ended. As long as I live I will never be able to remotely comprehend this. You are the head coach and you somehow, someway forget to call a timeout for 17 seconds? What is going on? In all honestly if the timeout was called with 12 seconds LSU would of had a chance, but the fact that it was called at 9 is absurd.

And this is why the Tiger Nation is in an uproar. In the biggest moment of the game Les Miles pulled one of the dumbest stunts in recent football history. He basically opted for a hail mary instead of getting into field goal position. A 10 year old kid would have enough sense to call timeout. This is inexcusable. Even more startling is the fact that after Jefferson completed that pass and one second remained, Jefferson was going to spike the ball. Jefferson you can not spike the ball under one second. This is not the NBA.

After you evaluate the game as a whole and after you see how the offense, defense, game plan, and coaching all underperformed you have to ask yourself, "What does this mean for LSU football?" Honestly, I do not know. I want to say Miles will get things back on track, but all too common LSU comes out on the field, plays like garbage for 3.5 quarters and then at the end makes a run to win the game. With the talent they have that is not acceptable. For the first time in his reign at LSU I have lost faith in Miles. I have lost this because I did not see a head coach leading his team, I saw a team who's head coach was confused in the game's biggest moment. Here is an article I wrote one year ago. I stated that Miles needed to turn things around our his seat would really start to get warm. One year later LSU is better, but not by much. Put it this way - if LSU falls to Arkansas and their bowl game they will finish with the exact same record as 2008. Trust me, that is not out of the question.

Things seem to be slipping for Miles to the point an inevitable landslide might soon be taking place. How will he and his team respond? It will be interesting. One thing is for sure - if Miles has another sloppy finish to his season in 2010 there is no reason to think he will not be let go.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Talks of Minnesota to LA Highlights the Biggest Issue in Sports

One of the biggest things I enjoy is when we justify another person's actions because they are older, or they have a lot of money, or better yet they have a prestigious position.

This is always apparent when discussing professional teams moving in sports. Always at the core of a certain team moving is an owner who's dubious actions are justified because he's a seasoned veteran who knows how things work. Or better yet we justify them because, 'hey he's just trying to make some money!"

See that's the problem. Leagues are made when we, the fans, admire our favorite teams. (Why do you think the MLS is struggling so much to make it in the US? The fan support is not there.) We cheer for them for countless years and we always stay true to them. Sure bad times come, but at the end of the day we still hang close.

Given the right circumstances all that devotion and dedication is forgotten in the eyes of an professional sports team owner. Take for instance the Minnesota Vikings and owner Zygi Wilf. The team wants a new stadium and because they are not getting what they want the franchise is starting to consider moving to Los Angeles. This sort of Vikings-to-LA talk has been going on for the last decade.

This situation has nothing to do with whether or not you are a Minnesota Vikings fan. This has to do with what's right and wrong. Why should some owner with lots of money be given the choice to move a franchise and years of history because he or she feels inclined to? How can one position have so much power? And better yet the thing that always intrigues me about these owners is the fact they tend to be people who never played football. There's of course the foreign owner (Wilf)- he's the prototypical man who steps in the NFL spotlight with tons of money, yet such little expertise or understanding about football. To put it bluntly, he's all about the Benjamins. Then there's the old relic whose rein as an owner has been pathetic, but he is bailed out of humiliation by some fortunate events. Tom Benson of the New Orleans Saints and Bill Bidwill of the Arizona Cardinals fall into this category.(Because of the recent success of head coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees, for once, Sith Benson does not have to hang his head. And as for Bidwill his son has taken over a lot of duties, which is a huge reason for the Cardinals' rise.)

There are many of them, but they are all the same. When times are good, things are fine, but at the end of the day nothing will stop an owner from making more money. Not even the loyalty of fans. Take for instance Art Modell. He lied to the city of Cleveland and stabbed them in the back. Always a classy move, yet wipe it under the rug because, well, it's business.

(Think owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots is the best one out there? He's been terrific lately, but in 1999 the Pats were awfully close to moving to Hartford, Connecticut. Can you imagine that? The Hartford Patriots - eek!)

I guess the reason I am so upset about this Minnesota-to-LA story is because I know how this feels. I remember in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans. The city was devastated to say the least. I remember my dad telling me that he thought the Saints would never play in New Orleans again. I remained hopeful as did so many fans. It was a nightmare, but it only grew thanks to the efforts of Tom Benson. While New Orleans was recovering and dealing with the aftermath of the worst hurricane to hit the US, talks began to emerge that Benson wanted to move the team to San Antonio. There were fridges on the side of the road in New Orleans that said "Tom Benson's head inside." Imagine if you are walking on the sidewalk, tripped and fell on your face. This is what Katrina did to New Orleans. Now imagine while laying down on the sidewalk a man kicks you in the face. That's what Tom Benson did to New Orleans.

It's crippling to say the least. Your team, the one you root for every chance you get, could be gone because of one man's motives. All the memories and good times would be sweep under a rug when your team donned a new logo, name, and city. I felt helpless when this all took place and most of all infuriated at Tom Benson. I see the same thing with the Vikings. The history with that franchise is a lot more vast than the Saints, but again that is irrelevant. It means nothing to an owner.

I think for once everyone can agree (even Viking fans) that the best way to have a team is how the Green Bay Packers do it. No one person owns the Packers. In short stockholders own the Packers - 111,921 of them. Never will a hot-shot foreigner step in and make the statement the Packers should think about moving.

There needs to be a better way of handling this sort of issue. There needs to be a better solution.

Monday, November 16, 2009

College Football Analysis After Week 11

With the season coming to a close the season is really taking shape as to who is really legit and who was nothing more than overhype.

24 LSU 16 Louisiana Tech

I have seen a lot of games at Tiger Stadium, but this one takes the cake as the worst game I have ever seen in person. One week after a devastating loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU came out of the gates flat. The team overlooked a pumped up Louisiana Tech team and in turn LSU was fighting for four quarters to win. Two main things stuck out about this game - Jarrett Lee and LSU's game plan.

Jarrett Lee: Last year Lee threw 16 interceptions as a freshman at quarterback. Of those 16 interceptions, 7 were returned for touchdowns. It was a horrific experience for Lee, the team, and the LSU fan base. But we were told that was water under the bridge. We were told that Lee had matured and that last year was no reason to cast him in the fire. He was a 19 year old freshman for crying out loud. If anything this Louisiana Tech game was the biggest game of his career. When the clock struck zero Lee's stats was appalling. He finished 7 of 22 for 105 yards against a 3-7 Louisiana Tech team! I never expected Lee to play lights out (he is the backup after all), but I did expect to see improvement from last year and I did expect him to show LSU that he indeed does have lots of potential for the future.

I saw neither. I saw a deer in the headlights quarterback who, outside the first couple of drives, really struggled. I really must say I was blown away on the lack of progress Lee showed on the field Saturday. He has no confidence in himself and when a play breaks down he panics. Before you know it the ball is sailing out of bounds again. Sure that's better than a pick six but there comes a certain point when you have to say, 'What are you doing?' And worse his teammates do not have confidence in him. After what seemed like the 100th overthrown ball to Brandon Lafell, Lafell ripped off his chin strap in frustration. When he does get a throw off Lee's pass seems to hang in the air for an unbelievable amount of time.

I hope Jarrett Lee has a great life and turns out to be a great father with a successful career, but I do not think (or want) him to be LSU's quarterback. He does not have it. If he truly wants to continue pursuing a career as a quarterback he needs to transfer because I honestly do not see any reason to think things will change for the better.

The second thing I wanted to talk about deals LSU's offensive game plan. In short the game plan sucked. Period. I am still baffled as to why offensive coordinator Gary Crowton called some of the plays he called. At quarterback is Jarrett Lee, a man who has no confidence in himself. After a nightmarish freshman year Lee is now terrified to throw the ball. With all that taken into account why would Crowton think the best way to beat Louisiana Tech was to throw the ball? LSU was running the ball on Tech. Senior running back Keiland Williams was having his way with the Tech defense, yet for some reason Crowton would always resort back to throwing the ball. Why? Why? Why? At the end of the day what helped LSU avoid an upset? RUNNING THE BALL. I can only hope Crowton gets things together for Ole Miss, otherwise confidence will be lost in him as well.

With all that considered I do have to give credit to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Head coach Derek Dooley (former LSU special teams coach) made his players believe they could beat LSU in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. For much of the game that dream seemed like it could really become a reality. Using a wildcat offense and a series of trick plays, Tech was able to keep the game close. I know this has been a difficult year for the Bulldogs as they are now 3-7, but rest assured Dooley is a special coach who continue to improve Tech each and every year.

55 Stanford 21 USC

Two weeks ago the USC Trojans got destroyed in Autzen Stadium to the Oregon Ducks 47-20. The game was the biggest blowout in Pete Carroll's career at USC. No way a loss could get any worse than what USC experienced that Saturday, right? Wrong. Someone forgot to tell the Stanford Cardinals they are not supposed to be fighting for the Pac-10 title. Someone forgot to tell Jim Harbaugh's crew this is a game they are supposed to lose.

Two years Stanford beat USC 24-23 in the Coliseum in arguably the biggest upset in college football history. (Stanford was a 41 point underdog.) For their homecoming game and only two weeks removed from the Oregon embarrassment it was expected that USC would rebound in a big way. Going into the fourth quarter Stanford held a narrow 28-21 lead.

But then it all collapsed. By the time the clocked ticked zero Stanford had cruised to an unheard of 55-21 victory over USC. There are several things that stick out about this game. First, where is USC's defense? Consistently, year in and year out Carroll has a team with defense, but this year the unit has looked atrocious at times. The second thing that stuck out ties in with the first. I was blown away by the success Toby Gerhart. All season Gerhart has been torturing opponents, yet in the back of my mind I felt USC would still neutralize him come Saturday.

At day's end Gerhart had 29 carries for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns. I think it's fair to say that Gerhart did whatever, whenever, against the Trojans.

Now the big question is, is this a sign for things to come for a Harbaugh-led Stanford squad or are they just this year's Ole Miss? It will be interesting to see.

45 Wisconsin 24 Michigan

Four weeks into the season and the Wolverines were 4-0. Now Rich Rod's crew stands at 5-6 with the final game in the Big House against Ohio State. So yes you read that right, in order to avoid a second consecutive losing season UM has to beat the 10th ranked team in the country. The minor defensive holes for the Wolverines have blown up as the season has progressed and in turn the Wolverine fan base has begun to show frustration with Rich Rod's job so far. Keep in mind this is only his second year, he is installing a completely new system, the defense is weak, and lastly, but most importantly there's a true freshman playing quarterback. Also keep in mind that three of the Wolverines' losses have been by an average of 3 points. This is a team that will improve in the future. Give it time.

On the other side the Wisconsin Badgers have slowly gone through this season under the radar with an impressive 8-2 record. Coming into the season Coach Bret Bielema was definitely starting to get on the hot seat, but I doubt that's the case anymore. The Badgers only two losses have been to Ohio State and Iowa. The best news they have is their top quarterback (Scott Tolzien), running back (John Clay), and wide receiver (Nick Toon) will all be back next year. Look for Wisconsin to be a dark horse sleeper for next year's Big 10 title.

24 Cincinnati 21 West Virginia

Cincy has had a pretty easy time with it's opponents this year, but things this week things changed. With 2 minutes left Cincy kicked a field goal to go up 24-14 so the final was closer than the actual outcome, but rest assured WV put up a fight. With all that said, unless Cincinnati falls flat on it's face against Illinois on November 27th, you can assume that Cincinnati will be playing at Pittsburgh December 5th in easily one of the biggest games of the year. Winner of that game will get a BCS bowl.

Currently West Virginia is 7-3, but the team still has a home match up with Pittsburgh (a team who's season they would love to ruin after what happened in 2007)and a road game against Rutgers. If the Mountaineers dropped those final two the team will finish 7-5 and things will start to get a little uneasy in Morgantown with how Bill Stewart's tenure has gone. Yes, going 9-4 last year and 7-5 this year is not bad, but keep in mind this program was flying high when Rich Rod was in town. Fans expect more.

27 Pittsburgh 22 Notre Dame

Charlie Weis you are going to be fired. With 12:44 left in the game ND was down 27-9. The team was able to rally, but again Weis's team fell to a ranked squad. And to top it off ND (already with 4 losses) still has to play Connecticut and Stanford. On paper and from what we have seen I can not see Notre Dame beating Stanford so you are looking at another 7-5 season. That's not Notre Dame. Maybe at Temple or Baylor, but not Notre Dame. Weis has been given enough time and still his teams are, well, average.

Also, I have to say I'm awfully impressed with how well Pittsburgh is doing. In particular Coach Dave Wannstedt who has this Panther team two wins away from a BCS bowl. During his first season Wannstedt went 5-6, the following year he went 6-6, and then the next year in 2007 his team went 5-7. Looking at his first 3 years at Pitt (16-19) it makes you think why Wannstedt was not let go. I honestly think the thing that really factored into him coming back last year was the monumental upset Pittsburgh pulled over West Virginia in 2007. The Mountaineers were one win away from going to the BCS National Championship. All they had to do was beat a 4-7 Pitt team that was a 24 point underdog. Pitt won 13-9 and since that game both programs have been going in opposite directions. That win has catapulted Pitt into believing that they can compete with the nation's best.

24 Florida 14 South Carolina

Florida continued its winning streak to 20 games, but at the same time the team was not over the top impressive. A lot of that has to do with great South Carolina defense. A couple things stood out to me. First, with this loss Spurrier is 34-27 at South Carolina. The Ole Ball Coach really is not much of a coach anymore as his teams rarely finish the season strong. The Gamecocks do consistently play tough, but in the end they lose. Their biggest win in Spurrier's tenure was a six point win over a then top 5 ranked Ole Miss team. Would South Carolina ever think about firing Spurrier? Each year it's the same story. Start strong, finish awful.

Florida has the regular season wrapped up. They play Florida International followed by Florida State, so you can pretty much start talking about the SEC Championship Game. That is a tough game to say the least on who I think will prevail. On one hand I say, 'This is Florida and Tim Tebow. The quarterback advantage for Florida is the clear reason the Gators will win again.' But on the other side I have to think, 'Alabama lost last year and has spent an entire year anxiously awaiting a rematch. Rarely do teams beat Nick Saban twice with the same game plan. If Florida wants any shot of beating Alabama they have to change their game plan.' Because of the events that happened late in the fourth quarter in the LSU/Alabama game I will not be watching the SEC Championship Game, but I can pretty much guarantee it will be a defensive struggle. I will take Florida 24-16.

42 Ole Miss 17 Tennessee

Just when you thought Ole Miss's season was going to completely unravel the team came out and beat up a good Tennessee defense. Dexter McCluster ran for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns! REREAD THAT THREE MORE TIMES! This is not Madden, this is real life! Wow! Despite a season that has had some major disappointments, the Rebels still have a very good chance of finishing the season strong. Their ability to score points against a good defense shows that this team can take down LSU this Saturday. Put it this way - if Ole Miss beats LSU and Mississippi State, and wins their bowl game then you have yourself a 10-3 season. Not bad at all.

With that loss the Vols slip to 5-5. Their two remaining games are against Vandy and Kentucky. If Kiffin's crew finishes strong they will get a bowl. Kiffin has this program going in the right direction. Think of it like this - the Vols do not have the top notch athletes they use too, yet they hung with Florida and almost beat Alabama. Once they get the athletes things will really change. The future is bright.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tim Tebow's Latest Jaw-Dropping Act of Greatness

With his senior season coming to close more and more great things continue to pop up about Tim Tebow. The latest report is one that will surely leave the public amazed. In a sit down interview on November 5, 2009 Gainesville resident Gus T. Henneshaw gives a real time account of what took place between Tim Tebow and him. As Henneshaw explains he was waiting in a long line to get a sip of water at a public drinking fountain. “I was hot outside. Too hot if you ask me,” Henneshaw exclaimed.

That’s when the magic of Tim Tebow happened.

“I was waiting behind eight or nine people and man I was thirsty. Then I could see at the front of the line that Tim Tebow was next in line and then he did it. He looked right at me and said, ‘Mr. Henneshaw would you like to cut in line and quench your thirst prior to mine?’ It was surreal.”

Multiple reports indicate that indeed Tebow did give out this offer and that indeed Henneshaw took it.

“It was remarkable. Absolutely remarkable,” Gainesville resident Heidi Thames explained. “Tim Tebow had yet again raised the bar of greatness to new heights!”
According to the bylaws of Heisman Trophy protocol the NCAA declares that “a great act of kindness outside of football can be implemented into a person’s Heisman standing only if the person’s last name rhymes in some crazy way with the word ‘elbow’.”

With this hidden clause it is clearly evident that indeed the front runner for the Heisman Trophy is yet again Tim Tebow.

“He plays with more heart than any human being that has ever touched the earth,” University of Florida Beta Iota Phi President James Douglas stated. “Stand back Genghis Khan, there’s a new king in town!”

Since the announcement of Tebow’s latest great act of bravery numerous cities have been said to have had ceremonies to honor No. 15.

“Today we spill ‘happiness’ T-E-B-O-W!” Detroit Mayor John Ritzberg yelled in front of a crowd of 30,000 residents.

Indeed we do Ritzberg, indeed we do…

(This article was done in good fun. Do not take it too seriously.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

College Football Analysis After Week 9

Not sure anyone can do a more lousy job than me on getting my thoughts up. It is already Friday afternoon for crying out loud!

41 Florida 17 Georgia

Honestly, I really thought UGA was going to come out pumped to play. After all UF hasn't looked that great the last two games. I expected UGA to come out motivated to punish UF for last year's 49-10 slaughter, but that never happened. UF looked like it's old self and Joe Cox was self-destructing all afternoon. His turnovers are about as appalling as Terrelle Pryor's. First play of the second half is an interception? Just like that it was 31-10. It was funny to see Tebow plowing through the line. I guess that whole concussion safety thing was thrown out the window. Right now UF looks bound for the Rose Bowl. I do not see any potential trip ups whatsoever. One of the more interesting things to note is the growing angst towards Georgia coach Mark Richt. It's amazing how quickly someones successes can be thrown under the table the instant someone says, "Hey he doesn't have a National Championship yet!" Now granted he doesn't have a title and I'm sure he wants one, but for crying out loud keep in mind he has been very successful. Give it time UGA fans.

47 Oregon 20 USC

Wow. The USC Trojans do lose games, but no one beats them by 4 touchdowns. That was until Saturday. The Ducks flat out embarrassed USC in a way no one has done since Carroll took control of the program. Oregon clearly showed they are a team worthy of playing in the BCS National Championship. The offense is explosive and the defense is suffocating. Now granted I realize they are far back in the BCS, but there is still a lot of season left. Biggest thing is that Duck offense. It is so unique and dangerous that the defenses are constantly having to gamble on whether or not it's a pass or rush. I have to give Coach Chip Kelly a lot of credit for turning things around after getting pounded 19-8 at Boise State.

42 LSU 0 Tulane

In the last two weeks LSU's offense has looked the way the fans have desired all season. The biggest thing I noticed was LSU's ability to get seven points and not the mere three they were getting earlier in the year. Another thing was the LSU defense. In the game Kelvin Sheppard had 13 tackles. That is 39 tackles in three games! LSU's defense has slowly snuck up in the stats. Not only is the secondary shut down quality but the linebackers are everywhere. Yes, the defensive line is a work in progress, but Chavis combats that with blitzes from all-hitman Harry Coleman.

33 Auburn 20 Ole Miss

I do not know what to think of Ole Miss and I do not know what to think of Auburn. Auburn was on a three game losing streak that would surely extend to four. Well for some reason the War Eagles weren't having that. QB Chris Todd looked like his old self and the Auburn running game got moving as well. On the other side Jevan Snead again disappointed the nation. It amazes how much this big time pro prospect has struggled this year. Ole Miss already has three losses and the season is not over. They still have the Egg Bowl versus Mississippi State who by all means has not been a pushover. Is opposition against Coach Houston Nutt forming in Oxford? Hmm.

I am well aware this post stinks, but keep in mind I did this in twenty minutes. I will do a better job in the future with a) making my posts longer and b) getting them out in a reasonable amount of time. Lots of big games this weekend. Seasons will be made or lost come Saturday...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

College Football Analysis After Week 8

Sorry for taking so long to get another post out. I was actually kidnapped by a wild pack of bandits who desperately wanted me to turn over my 2001 Camry to them.

I would not give in to their threats...

12 Alabama 10 Tennessee

For much of year the Crimson Tide were looked at by all as the most complete team. The defense was one of the best and the offense had a running game close to unstoppable. The best luck anyone had was South Carolina who fell 20-6. No one had ever hung with Alabama. No one had ever really made the Tide fight to the end.

That was until Tennessee.

Prior to this game not much of a chance was given to the Vols, but after the 12-10 score stood Kiffin and crew got respect. Yet I'm positive his team is still very unhappy with the outcome. It always seems the importance of special teams is pushed behind offense and defense, yet as the UT/Bama game shows you the special teams is just as important as any of those three. 3 missed field goals, including a potentially game winning 44 yarder with 4 seconds left. Unfortunately for the Vols Terrence "Train" Cody broke through the line and destroyed the Orange Crew's dreams of ruining Bama's season. It was interesting to note that once in field goal range Kiffin thought it was a gimme. Gary Anderson is the NFL's all-time leading scorer. If he was kicking a 44 yarder in his prime I would still be nervous. This was a college kicker! Point is UT needed to get closer. The fact that Kiffin did not have the urge to move further ahead only highlights even more the little confidence he has in QB Jonathan Crompton.

In two big games this year (Florida and Alabama) Kiffin has managed to put together a very impressive game plan. His teams were very heavy underdogs yet they still had a chance to win in the end. Once Kiffin starts really getting some athletes Tennessee will be a force.

So what did we learn about Alabama? First, they are vulnerable. They, like every other team this year, do have flaws. Biggest thing is QB Greg McElroy still has some maturing to do. Tennessee knew Mark Ingram was Bama's biggest weapon and they neutralized him much of the game. McElroy has to be able to pick up the slack. Second, despite not playing the best game Alabama found a way to win. That is something that needs to be noted. Sooner or later there will be a game that Alabama finds themselves in where they are not playing there best, yet they have to fight to the end. This was that. Even when the odds where against them the team hung in there and blocked a field goal to, as Cody says, "save the season."

15 Iowa 13 Michigan State

I love when the claims come out that a one loss USC team would go over an undefeated Iowa team. Wow. Can someone please give the Hawkeyes some love? I can only help but think the only reason USC would go over Iowa is because I don't know maybe the fact that USC is in Los Angeles and Iowa is, well, in the middle of Iowa. Anyway onto the game.

In yet another Big 10 slug fest the Hawkeyes found themselves behind (13-9) late in the fourth quarter at Spartan Stadium. With a mere two seconds the Iowa Hawkeyes managed to convert a 4th and Goal that yet again resulted in a heart attacks across Iowa. Iowa is not the most glamorous team, but in all honesty few teams have a better knack at finding a way to win than the Hawkeyes. Look at there schedule right now. In week 1 they blocked two field goals by Northern Iowa in the final seconds to preserve a 17-16 victory. Okay so it was only Northern Iowa. September 26 Iowa triumphs over Penn State Happy Valley. And there's the home win over Michigan 30-28 and the road victory at Wisconsin where the team came from behind to win 20-10. And finally there's this victory at Michigan State on the last play. How is that not an impressive resume?! The Big 10 is a lot stronger than it was two years ago. I can only hope the voters see this.

There are four games remaining for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Sure they could trip up against Indiana, Northwestern, or a solid Minnesota but let's me honest the biggest remaining test is a November 17th showdown in Columbus against Ohio State. It will be tough, but again hasn't the season been like that the whole time?

31 LSU 10 Auburn

LSU fans have waited an awful long time to finally see some offense. After a dreadful showing in a 13-3 loss to Florida, LSU came out firing on all cylinders against the War Eagles. Unlike every other game this year, LSU punched the ball in for touchdowns (not field goals) right from the get-go. Had it not been for Jefferson's fumble in the first quarter it would of 21-0 after one quarter. And finally Russell Shepard got to see pay dirt. On a 69 yard scamper Shepard burst through the War Eagle defense and put the score at 31-3. Also worth noting is the LSU defense. Each game Defensive Coordinator John Chavis's crew looks better and better. LSU fans can only hope the Tigers can keep this complete game effort as LSU gets ready for a November 7th showdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Jordan Jefferson played the best game of his career Saturday. His ability to get better every week is what makes this LSU team so potentially dangerous. If he can really get a handle on this LSU offense like he did against Auburn then watch out.

On the other side are the Auburn "Tigers". Through five games the War Eagles were 5-0 and hype began to form that maybe Auburn is better than we thought they were. After all there offense was running through everyone. Now fast forward to the present. First the War Eagles got dominated by Arkansas, then they lost at home to Kentucky who just lost their starting quarterback and finally they got dominated much worse than the score at Tiger Stadium against LSU. Auburn is currently 5-3 and you can not help but think that it might get worse. Auburn still has to play Ole Miss (this weekend), Georgia, and Alabama. Gene Chizik needs to get things under control before things really get chaotic.

29 Florida 19 Mississippi State

Something is not right in Gainesville. Prior to the season the Gators were touted as potentially the greatest team ever. Now granted most likely the team will go undefeated and win the national championship, but still it has to be noted how much the team is, well, struggling. It was a one score game going into the fourth quarter. Sure you can say that Bulldog coach Dan Mullen use to be Florida's offensive coordinator, but again this is supposed to be the greatest college football team ever. Tebow does not look like Tebow. He threw two pick sixes! Florida was fortunate to not have their interception in the fourth quarter overturned (the referees once again went brain dead), otherwise it would of be a one score game deep in the fourth quarter. Now I have to ask how does LSU's struggles against the Bulldogs look now? Maybe not so bad. If the Bulldogs took Florida to the brink you can not help but think that maybe, like Kiffin, once Mullen gets the athletes the wins will start happening.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Historic Photos of LSU Football: Best Holiday Gift

One of my greatest passions is LSU football. My admiration for LSU football is the combination of the culture, the atmosphere, the sport, and lastly, but most importantly, the history.

Even though I love watching LSU football in the present time I still very much enjoy seeing how LSU football has progressed over the years. How Tiger Stadium has grown, how the uniforms have changed, and also how the passion for LSU football has always remained the same. The best way to visually capture an era of LSU football is through historic photos from that time period. If you are looking to add another book to your collection of LSU memorabilia than I have the perfect LSU book.

Historic Photos of LSU Football by Mark E. Martin and Barry Cowan is the culmination of over 100 years of never-before-seen LSU football photos. To top off an array of priceless photographs the book also highlights significant moments in LSU's football history since it started in 1893.

Here are some of the photos you can expect to see in this 150+ page book.

This is a picture of one of LSU's teams in the early 1900s. I am sure these guys did not have to worry about being scrutinized on message boards 24/7.

ROTC use to be a requirement for students at LSU. It was later stopped in the 1960s. Here is a picture of some of the cadets in 1923 boarding a train for an away game at Vanderbilt. Here is an interesting little tidbit. During this time Louisiana Governor Huey Long wanted the train company to charge less for each train ride so LSU's fans could afford to go to the game. When the train company refused to lower prices Long jacked up a Louisiana tax he could inflict on the train company. Not wanting to pay this new fee the train company eventually lowered their prices as Long initially insisted.

Also in the picture you can see a paper mache tiger. Before LSU got their first live tiger in 1936 this paper mache tiger was brought to every game, home or away.

You have to love the leather helmet. Players use to pack newspaper in them to make them fit tighter. I admire photos like these because in each shot you see guys just playing football. No whining, no complaining, just hard nosed American football.

This is another great photo. If you had not already noticed on the far left of the screen is the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon. You have to like the fact that the coach has a hat and a whistle - that's it. No headset or enormous playbook. Just a whistle and a hat.

And outside of these pictures there are some very interesting stories. In 1908 over 33 college football players were killed playing football. The reason was because the sport was over-the-top physical. President Roosevelt even talked about stopping the sport forever if rule changes were not made! Well rule changes were made and the sport only continued to grow.

Or how about the story behind Tiger Stadium? The state of Louisiana was not going to directly fund a stadium that was just for football. No need to worry as former Louisiana Governor Huey Long found another way. Long was going to put dormitories in Tiger Stadium. Because dormitories were seen as educational, Long got the funding he desired.

There are a lot more interesting facts and historic photos that I would like to talk about, but I could go all day. Overall, if you really want to experience LSU football from it's start to present buy this book. You might even learn about how Mike III was let out of his cage by Tulane students...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gators Triumph Tigers in Defensive Slugfest

It was a little past 10 o'clock Saturday night when the dream was officially dead. The No. 1 Florida Gators defeated the No. 4 ranked LSU Tigers 13-3 in what will easily go down as the most anti-climatic game of my life.

Myself, along with countless other LSU fans spent months anxiously awaiting Saturday's game. Even fans outside of Florida and LSU waited for this game. It was supposed to be the game of the year, but at the end of the day the game was nothing to write home about.

Let me clarify that I am not calling this an ugly game simply because LSU lost. It's more complex. I was well aware that LSU might lose to Florida, it's just the manner that it happened in.

The thing that is troubling to me is that LSU's defense did it's part to give the Tigers a shot to take down Florida, but as everyone saw the offense for LSU did nothing. The Gators showed why they have the No. 1 defense, but at the same time let's be frank - the Florida Gators have a great defense but not a 3 points per game defense. My point? LSU hurt themselves a lot. And as good as the Gators' defense was the offense was nothing too thrilling.

On one end I think to myself about how well the LSU defense did. They shut down a powerful Florida attack to a mere 13 points. The defense went above and beyond what, we, the fans, thought they could do. But on the other end is the cold reality of the situation. LSU's offense was beyond inept. It looked disturbing like something out of the 1940s. HB dive, two yard pass, HB dive, and a lousy punt. I do not know where to point the finger.

Yes, it was apparent that Jefferson was having lots of trouble as he once again got sacked numerous. And there were the numerous missed throws. But still it has to be acknowledged how much the offensive line is still struggling. Okay so Jefferson struggled and the offensive line really struggled. That is not even the worst part.

The worst part about LSU's 13-3 loss was the absolute abysmal play calling by LSU. I will give LSU's defense a solid B. As for the offense and in particular play calling there's no question Crowton and Miles earned an F. For the life of me I will never understand why Miles and Crowton stuck to the same bleak, bland offense that has been haunting this team the entire year. The one thing that shocks me is there were no changes to the offense against a much better defense. It was a stubborn approach. There were no trick plays. And by all means the running back up the middle on first down 95% of the time is getting old. There was no attempt by the coaching staff to add a spark to the offense. Case and point can be seen in Russell Shepard. In the biggest game of the year the highly touted recruit played ZERO snaps. Not one. And this my friends is the most confusing part of LSU's 13-3 loss.

Through the grapevine I heard the two biggest things the Florida defensive line was worried about where Charles Scott and Russell Shepard. Miles gift wrapped the defensive line's job by not putting Shepard in the game.

Have you ever heard of the story where the amateur chess player plays the professional chess player? The amateur takes whatever move he can get, while the professional keeps looking for a move that he thinks the amateur is playing. So the game continues and the professional keeps looking for a strategy that the amateur is playing to, and the amateur is taking whatever opportunities are given to him. In the end the amateur wins. This is what is going on with the LSU offense. Miles and Crowton are looking for something bigger. They are thinking too much. They are not taking the opportunity which is you have a true freshman who is getting 6 yards every time he touches the ball. That is all that matters. Put him in the game!

And that's the answer to your trivia question! How do you kill a crowd of 93,000 fans? You run a dreadful offense, and as Saturday showed us it worked like a charm.

As painful as it was to see the LSU game I anxiously awaited I must say there are positives. Keep in mind Jefferson is young and that the defense did play great. Also, through six games LSU has only one loss.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Florida Comes to Death Valley

This is it. The one game that has kept me up at night. The one game that motivates me when on the treadmill. It was about 83 days ago when I sent my dad the text, "84 days until Judgment Day!" It was the one game I could not stop dreaming of because of that smidgen of hope that the impossible could happen.

For months I proclaimed Saturday as Judgment Day. The day Superman fell. Superman is invincible? Nope. Turns out the Man of Steel loses to a fellow by the name of Doomsday. I have hoped for months that LSU would someone find a "Doomsday" by October 10th. Possibly, Chad "Dreadlocks of Doom" Jones? I could only ponder.

Tomorrow night Judgment Day will take place. The No. 1 ranked Florida Gators will come into Tiger Stadium to take on the LSU Tigers. The Gators are riding a 14 game winning streak and they are the over-the-top favorite to win the BCS National Championship.

Leading the way for the Gators is senior Tim Tebow. Behind Tebow there's an amazing defense, a stellar running game, and plethora of talent all over the field. Even with Tebow's current state the Gators are seen as an anonymous favorite to beat LSU.

No Tebow? Psh. Who cares! John Brantley will be an excellent quarterback. He will do fine against an average LSU defense!

A lot of those arguments do make sense. LSU does have a suspect offense and defense. How are they going to muster enough points to beat Florida? And really is Brantley that big of a downgrade from Tebow? For a whole week I have read them all, but in the end regardless of what I hear or read or how much I hear about how "upset" Florida is about their last trip to Tiger Stadium I still see an opportunity for LSU.

There's a reason it's called Death Valley. There's reason the stadium has a reputation as daunting as the Roman Coliseum. There's a reason it registered an earthquake back in 1988. There's a reason Bear Bryant referred to the stadium as "being inside a drum." The reason is because that place is the most over-the-top, intimidating place for a football team to play. There is something about. It is something you can not describe or define, but when that football team comes out onto the field and they see 93,000 screaming fans it is an instant shot of adrenaline. They feed off the crowd.

I look at that stadium I say LSU has a chance against Florida because of it. I honestly do not know what will happen Saturday. Most likely Florida will win because there's that notion that Florida's defense is far too good to let LSU beat them. Regardless of who is at quarterback the biggest battle is the LSU offense versus the Florida defense. You also look at the fact there's a young quarterback in Jordan Jefferson who is going against an experienced defense.

All that does not bode well for LSU...or so they say.

But then there's the other side. The X-factor. This game is in Tiger Stadium and like I described earlier the stadium is one of a kind. Take into account that last year LSU got embarrassed at The Swamp 51-21 and you have yourself the possibility of a fired up LSU coming out of the gate Saturday night.

If LSU wants to even think about beating Florida they have to punch the Gators in the mouth right out of the box. They have to make Florida fear. Florid has no fears. During this 14 game winning streak most teams have been blown out by the Gators. Sure there was the close game against Alabama in the SEC Championship, but that was in Atlanta.

And the intense National Championship game? That was in a neutral site as well.

My point is LSU has got to take advantage of the what should be the largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history. Les Miles's team has to grasp this advantage. I understand Brantley's great potential, but this is his first start. Take advantage of that LSU. Make them question Brantley early on. Make them panic. Make the Florida defense second guess each other. Plant in their minds LSU is outplaying them. Make them think they are not invincible.

In the words of King Leonidas in 300 during his talk with the tyrant Xerxes, "The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a god-king can bleed."

Show the world LSU that Florida can bleed. Show the world that Florida can fall.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

College Football Week 5 Analysis

With the college football season a third of the way done things were only expected to get more intense in the coming weeks. This past weekend was only the tip of the ice berg.

21 Miami 20 Oklahoma

There a couple things I noticed in this game. First, Miami has a defense. Yes, I understand Sam Bradford is out, but regardless Landry Jones was doing a solid job...up until he played Miami. Jacory Harris threw two costly interceptions in the first half which cost Miami big points. It was 10-0 Oklahoma and the game was one score away from getting out of hand. Because of an underrated Miami defense the Hurricanes were able to get back in the game. Good teams do this: they find themselves in ugly games, down early, and are able to pull themselves together and pull out a win.

Up 21-10 Oklahoma punted and the Hurricanes looked in control of the game. Then it happened. I see it all the time. The silly defensive player runs into the punter. In this case that call was probably justified, but in so many other cases it AMAZES me how easily referees throw the flag on that play. You are one inch away from blocking a punt and poof! it's a 15 yard penalty? Do they really think players can move their bodies in that moment? With all that said Oklahoma got that first down off that penalty and scored a touchdown. Despite all this Miami was still able to hold on and pull out their GUTSIEST victory of the season.

Miami's Drive of the Season: Oklahoma opts for a field goal to cut the score to 21-20. Miami got the ball back with 4:18 and the Sooners still had two timeouts. The Hurricanes milked the clock and then the offense pulled off the biggest conversion of the season. It was 3rd and 6 with 2:35 at the Sooner 36. Miami had two options they could run it up the middle and kill tons of time off the clock. The team would then either kick a field goal or punt. Long story short - Oklahoma would get the ball back with around 1:50 still left. Then there's option b) get the first down and end the game.

Miami did just that with an eight yard pass to Dedrick Epps. That takes a lot of guts to do that. If Harris does not make the place Oklahoma gets the ball back with 2:20 left in the game and down by only one point.

37 Notre Dame 30 Washington

Similar to LSU, Notre Dame finds ways to win. It might not always be pretty, but the team WINS. Against Washington the Irish were on the ropes. It was 24-19 and the Huskies (8 point losers to LSU and defeaters of USC) were looking to go up 31-19 and put the game out of hand. But Weis's team hung tough and gave up zero points on that drive. It says a lot about a team that gives up only 3 points when there opponent gets inside their 10 twice. For once I have to agree with Lou Holtz - Jimmy Clausen is looking like a Heisman trophy candidate. 23 of 31 422 yards and 2 touchdowns! You can not overlook stats like that.

Here's the thing I know there is a lot of ND hate out there, but you have to look at what this team has accomplished. They have one loss (Michigan) where the team lost right at the end. They beat Purdue at Purdue on a fourth conversion, and they also beat an always tough Michigan State that is notorious for playing spoiler. Am I saying they are top 5 material? No. But they are sure as heck a top 15 team Mr. Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated!

This is there best chance in years to beat USC.

26 Michigan State 20 Michigan

You never know what to think about the Spartans. One week they look like a 5 loss team, the next they are playing to their potential and taking down undefeated teams like the Michigan Wolverines. It will be interesting to see if this win will catapult Michigan State into playing to their potential the rest of the season. The Spartans are still not a top tier Big 10 team.

On the other side I want to point out how impressed I am with Tate Forcier so far. I understand he threw a critical interception in overtime, but rest assured overtime never happens if Forcier does not drive Michigan down the field late in the game. It is amazing to think how good Forcier can be in a year. I mean at this young of an age he is already making veteran-like plays. There was 2:53 left in the game. Michigan was down by 7 and they had the ball on their 8 yard line. And to top it off they were on the road in an underrated hostile crowd, yet Forcier still manages to bring his team down for the tying touchdown. That speaks volumes. team down for the tying touchdown. Biggest concern is the Wolverine defense. If Michigan can get a defense in the coming years no reason to think they can not be in the national championship talks again.

20 LSU 13 Georgia

There's a number of things I want to talk about as far as LSU's game goes. First, LSU was ticked off. A week of hearing how "overrated" they were got the team motivated...and it showed in the first half. Despite the all around amazing defensive performance in the first half LSU's offense failed in punching the ball in the end zone. With only a 6-0 lead at the half I was afraid LSU was going to suffer from what I call the Kiss of Death. The Kiss of Death is when a team goes up only 6-0 after having dominated the game. It was a given that the third quarter would start with UGA fired up. To go up 7-6 after being dominated in the first half was nothing short of a huge confidence boost for Georgia. Still making your opponent use 18 plays to go 60 yards to get a touchdown is nothing to be ashamed of LSU. Later in the game Joe Cox threw what I thought was a blatant intentional grounding in his own end zone. LSU would get the ball back and in time Jordan Jefferson would put together the drive of the season.

There was 6:47 left in the game and LSU trailed 7-6. The Tigers had the ball on their 12 yard line. Jefferson showed his potential and beyond. The drive was nothing short of heart stopping. Twice Brandon LaFell, our big time first round pick, dropped big passes. And then Richard Dickson, the old reliable tight end, dropped a pass as well. But where others fail, someone new steps up. Big time recruit Reuben Randle caught only two catches for 28 yards...and they could not have come at a bigger time in the game. The sky is the limit for a true freshman who catches a huge third down on good coverage, in a hostile environment.

After LSU's touchdown to go up 12-7 I thought LSU could hold on. I felt the final score would be 12-7. The Bulldogs faced a 3rd and 6 deep in their territory and in one play a simple screen turned in a nauseating 46 yard gain. One play later AJ Green made an incredible play and the Bulldogs were up 13-12.

There's a lot to say about a team that takes the lead after a long drive, loses it, and has the drive to again go down the field and score once more. For 57 minutes LSU could not score a touchdown, yet for some reason when the fourth quarter was coming to a close LSU's urgency kicked in. They executed. After an incredible 40 yard kickoff by Trindon Holliday LSU was back in UGA territory. A couple plays later and the Charles Scott of last year showed up. 33 yards later LSU grabbed the lead for the final time. The defense closed the deal and LSU won again 20-13.

Let me clarify that excessive celebration penalty was an AWFUL call, but if you honestly think that's why LSU won I have to question whether you watched the game. (Cough! College Football News staff!) After LSU scored to go up 20-13 Scott was flagged for excessive celebration as well. Yet on that kickoff LSU stopped UGA at their 33. What am I saying? UGA needs to be pointing the finger at their special teams. And keep in mind if Scott does not make that touchdown run LSU is looking at a 45 yard field goal to win the game. By no means is that a gimme.

I guess that's all I have to say this week....

Wait, what's that? LSU plays who this weekend? Fla-or-da? Is that how you say it?

Do not worry I will breakdown that game...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

College Football Week 4 Analysis

For once I am going to get my analysis out before Friday! All year I have started my college football analysis on Monday to only have it posted Friday. What can I say I have the joy of being smothered by school.

On to Week 4...

16 South Carolina 10 Ole Miss

All summer long message boards were flaring up about Ole Miss being overrated. Personally, I thought No. 4 was high for the Rebels, but we would not see that for a couple weeks. I mean really lose their first big game? Please! I never imagined the Rebels to play so lousy against South Carolina. But as lousy as the Rebels played you have to get a lot of that credit to the Gamecock defense. South Carolina missed countless opportunities to put the game away, but still managed to halt a late Ole Miss charge. Jevan Snead has looked nothing more than average this year. It's one thing to lose on the road 33-30 in a tough game, but to lose 16-10 when your offense played so lousy is just sickening for the people of Oxford. Greg Hardy and Co. showed that the defense will not be able to get Ole Miss out of all their offensive woes.

30 LSU 26 Mississippi State

I really do not know what to think about LSU's game. There's a part of me that is aggravated because for much of the game LSU failed to close the door on the Bulldogs. They failed to capitalize. They missed PATs, field goals, mishandled punts, and blew assignments in the defensive secondary. It was a lackluster performance that had me on the verge of a heart attack.

But then there's another part of me. A part of me that says finally the offense let Jefferson air it out. And heck it might not have been pretty but the Tigers did win. It's far too common of a thing where moronic people go on the Internet and undermine a huge defensive stand for LSU. I, for one, will not. LSU was up 30-24 and failed to move the ball on offense. The Tigers punted it back to Mississippi State with plenty of time. Then it happened a couple passes and more bruising runs right up the middle and poof! the Bulldogs were on the 2 yard line with a 1:29 left and a 1st and Goal. This was it. It was over. I was seeing everything. Bulldogs score and make the PAT and it's 31-30. LSU gets the ball back and Jefferson throws an interception. Starkville newspapers explode at the fact that the Bulldogs beat the Tigers for the first time since 1999. I, foolishly, thought it was over. On 1st and Goal from the 2 Anthony Dixon plowed to the 1 yard line. It was insane how close he was. Must of been the width of a cockroach's antenna. No more. Then, LSU called a timeout in anticipation of the touchdown. On 2nd and Goal Mississippi State again gave it to Dixon, but this time he got nothing. Zero. Zip. Nadda. 3rd and Goal and my pulse is up to 240. The Bulldogs try a trick play, they fake the hand off and go for a pass to a wide open tight end. It went flawless and then Chad Jones swatted the ball down. Pulse is now at 260. Here it was 4th and Goal at the 4 inch line. Quarterback Tyson Lee took the snap and went right up the middle. Nothing. Not a yard.

LSU would get the ball back and purposely get a safety and win 30-26, but it was all so odd. We, the fans, thought it was over. This is what amazed me. Mississippi State cut through LSU's defense all afternoon. The running game was going down our throats, yet at the end of the day the defense thought to themselves, "hey we haven't lost it yet." I do not know how this LSU team will do this year. Each week is a different team, but what I do know this: I will not forget the day LSU stopped Mississippi State from getting 4 inches. The day the defense did not quit. The day LSU thought to themselves it is not over yet.

31 Virginia Tech 7 Miami-Florida

At the end of the day when you add all the numbers up, Lane Stadium is one of the most underrated hostile environments out there. LSU went there in 2002 and got demolished 26-8. It happens countless times a team walks into that stadium thinking not much of it only to get jumped on. In the rain the Hokies jumped on the Hurricanes and beat up on Randy Shannon's crew like no one has done all year. At halftime it was 21-0. After two stellar games, Jacory Harris had an uncharacteristic nightmare of an afternoon against the Hokie D. It is not so much that VTech won it's how they did it. Right out of the gates they jump on visiting opponents and before you can blink an eye it's 14-0. Sure Jacory Harris rallied his troops at Doak Walker Stadium, but this was different. This was Lane Stadium, home of public humiliations and embarrassments since 1965.

42 Oregon 3 California

When I posted my predictions for the 2009 season I said, "By the end of October the California Bears WILL no longer be in the dark horse National Championship talk." It is not the end of October but a tremendous blow was taken to the Cal National Championship talk. The Bears were manhandled by the Ducks in every facet of the game. The funny thing is Cal actually went up 3-0, but at the end of the day they got out gained 524 yards to 207 yards. Certain teams in this country have class. On any given Saturday they are going to come to play. Sure they might not win, but they will fight till the end. California does not have that yet. You are the 6th ranked team and you lose by 39 on the road to an unranked Oregon Squad? And let's not forget USC plays at Oregon later in the year. Talk about a game to look forward to! Heck, if Oregon plays like that the rest of the season we might be seeing the Ducks in the Rose Bowl.

Tebow injury: Unlike anything we have ever seen in his four years at Florida, quarterback Tim Tebow got his lights absolutely knocked out. There's a lot of talk on whether Tebow will play LSU in two weeks October 10 (aka Judgment Day). Let me answer that question right now. TEBOW WILL BE PLAYING. I would be very, very surprised if he did not start. Tebow wants to play this game bad and LSU wants to play him just as much. Two years ago we beat UF in Tiger Stadium 28-24, but last year the Gators took it to LSU in the Swamp 51-21. Everyone is anticipation of this match up. It is Judgment Day after all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

College Football Week 3 Analysis

College football will always amaze. No matter the circumstances, no matter how certain I am a team will do, in some way or another college football will amaze me. This week was no different by a long shot.

23 Florida 13 Tennessee:

This game has more people scratching there heads despite the favored team still winning. Florida was supposed to win 60-10. Florida was going to mop up the Vols on Saturday because after all new UT coach Lane Kiffin talked trash about Urban Meyer. This game was about as big a lock as there was. FLORIDA WAS GOING TO DESTROY TENNESSEE. But at the end of the game the mighty Gators had only beaten the Volunteers by a mere ten points. Confusion has sent into the minds of nearly half the college football fan base. I, for one, am still scratching my head.

I have heard the statement, "if Tebow didn't fumble it would of been 30-6." Well I can shoot one back at you, "if Crompton would of scored at the end of the game when UT had the ball at midfield it would of been 23-20." With all excuses aside this is what we learned...

One of three things happened: a) Florida is not as good as we thought they were [doubtful] b) Tennessee is a lot better than we expected or c) Lane Kiffin knows how to put together a game plan.

Honestly, I think the answer is C. Kiffin, from what I have heard, put together a game plan that took away Tebow's options. I do not think anyone expected it to work as well as it did. Here's the thing: Tim Tebow will not be the QB he was last year if he forced to carry the ball 25 times a game. That is too much. Even Superman will get worn down. Remember 2007 when Tebow was really fighting through some pain? You better believe Florida wants to avoid that again.

So if you limit Tebow's options are you saying a team has a chance against Florida? Yes, but again let's keep in mind that you can always say, "well Florida was off Saturday." Maybe that same game plan does not work in the future.

And finally, most likely the Gators will go undefeated and they will win the BCS Championship, but that easy path to the top looks more jagged than we imagined.

16 Washington 13 USC

Each year, despite the loads of talent at Southern Cal, the Trojans trip up against at least one team. One week after beating Ohio State in Columbus the Trojans fell to the Washington Huskies in Husky Stadium 16-13. Couple things: Jake Locker is legit. Against LSU he tore us up and caused hell all night. When he did the same thing to the Trojans, LSU's defensive struggles did not look as disappointing. We learned a lot about Aaron Corp as well. From the looks of the game Saturday he is nothing spectacular. One of the more interesting things about this game is the fact USC scored only 13 points. Sure the Trojans trip up, but it always manages to be a 20+ score. The fact that UW shut down USC to a mere 13 points raises my eyebrows. Okay, so Corp does not have a lot of experience, but you still have Joe McKnight. Maybe Coach Sark has this team farther along than we imagined.

31 LSU 3 Louisiana-Lafayette

After Saturday's victory LSU is 23-0 against ULL. 16 of those games have been shutouts. The Ragin' Cajuns really thought they had a chance tonight and for a great majority of the game they did indeed hang with the Tigers. LSU still displayed an inability to make things happen on offense. The defense, for the second straight game, was stellar, but how good is one's defense if your offense is not doing much? Jordan Jefferson is still very much a work in progress, but I have to ask why oh why do they not at least open up the playbook? Another tailback dive on first down? It's far too predictable and frankly boring. I have confidence LSU will get things going on offense in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

College Football: Concerns, Issues After Week 2

Two weeks into the season and we already have back to back weeks were a top 5 team have fallen. I can only imagine what the rest of the season holds. Here's what I learned from week 2.

Florida 56 Troy 6: The Gators' D has given up a total of 9 points in two games, but we have yet to see them go against a quality opponent. Florida's second warm up game gave us nothing new about the Gators. UF will take on Tennessee who is not what I would call "a quality opponent" yet.

Houston 45 Oklahoma State 35: One week after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs, Oklahoma State gets beaten at home by the Houston Cougars. This upset is not all that incredible. Houston likes to throw the ball a lot with quarterback Casey Keenum, the 2008 Conference USA offensive player of the year. I am sure Oklahoma State has a better defense than last year, but at the end of the day this game shows us that their pass defense is still lacking. What happens when Oklahoma State goes up against other Big 12 gunslingers like Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Taylor Potts? The remarkable thing is Oklahoma State went down 24-7 rallied to take the lead 28-24 then again at 35-31.

Michigan 38 Notre Dame 34: This was a game that has been marked for months. The losing team was sure to have a head coach who's job security would be damaged. Coming into this game I did not look at Michigan with the same underdog status as most of the country labeled them as. (Mainly because RichRod's offense came into being against Western Michigan in week 1.) Did I honestly think UM would win? No. Overall, very good game and even though ND lost they still have no reason to think this season is over. In the fourth quarter UM held a 31-20 lead that was quickly turned into a 34-31 ND lead with 5:13 left. NOW HERE IS WHERE THINGS GOT INTERESTING. Michigan can not get the ball moving and punts the ball to Notre Dame. The ball is downed with 3:25 left in the game. On first down ND runs for 13 yards for a first down. Now it's first down and ND runs a another play up the middle and is stopped for one yard. UM then uses it's first time out. There are 2:29 left in the game and it is 2nd and 9. On the next two plays ND throws the ball and both are incomplete. UM gets the ball back on a punt on there 43 yard line with 2:19 left and 2 timeouts. And it is right here where you have to ask Coach Weis what was he thinking. If you are going to make that gamble where you throw it instead of opting to run the ball and burn there timeouts you better execute the play otherwise you are going to get ripped apart. Here's the thing, let's say Weis runs the ball on 2nd and 3rd down and both times UM calls a timeout. Well at least when they would get the ball back Michigan would have no timeouts. Weis gambled and lost and now he must pay.

And by the way I was very impressed with Tate Forcier. In his first start he threw for 240 and ran for 70. 310 total yards in one start? Not bad at all.

USC 18 Ohio State 15:
This was the game of the week. USC was supposed to run over OSU, but for much of the game OSU was in control. Even after Terrelle Pryor's first play interception, OSU was still able to take control of the game. OSU had the largest crowd in The Shoe's history, they neutralized Joe McKnight, they made Matt Barkley look average, and they had a 5 point lead, 15-10, with 7 minutes to go in the fourth. Yet in the end Ohio State lost a heartbreaker. Behind Matt Barkley, USC had a 6:10 minute drive that was oh so similar to Juice Williams of Illinois's 8 minute drive back in 2007. Even though USC broke OSU's back with that 6:10 drive, the Bucks still had a shot with 1:05 left. After a return to the OSU 36 yard line the offense sputtered and OSU fell again. I can only help but think when is Pryor going to have his moment? Sure it was a difficult situation, down by 3 with 1 minute left, but these are things Pryor is supposed to do. He was brought in as the next Vince Young. This was a situation in which he was supposed to excel. A guy like Pryor is supposed to fall in this sort of sentence. "The game was lost and any normal quarterback would of lost, but we had Pryor so we won." Bottom line when is Pryor going to have his moment?

LSU 23 Vanderbilt 9: There's a lot to be said about the LSU game. There's good and bad news. First the bad, or I should say UNSATISFYING news. LSU's offense is not at the place we all thought they would be. Many times on Saturday LSU went three and out. This was frustrating by all means because our playcalling seemed to be so bland. All summer there was talk about how Gary Crowton was going to really pump up the LSU offense. I, as well as all LSU fans, was excited to see The Wizard (Crowton) do his magic, but we have not seen that yet. I understand QB Jordan Jefferson is young, what I do not understand is why we ran the same old running back dive up the middle on three or four consecutive possessions. Each time LSU was getting no yardage whatsoever. What needed to take place for it to be realized that a running back dive on first down was not working? Also, LSU had 5 wide receivers many times, but very rarely threw the ball deep.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are one of the people upset by LSU leading Vandy by the mere score of 16-9 in the fourth quarter. Imagine if one of LSU's three field goals resulted in a touchdown. Instead of 16-9, we are looking at 20-9 and a final score of 27-9. The main thing is the offense is still a work in progress but at the same time if they could just punch it in the endzone a little more than LSU would not be in the situation they were Saturday - up by only 7 in the fourth.

Now for the good news. In week 1 LSU's defense gave up an appalling 471 yards of offense to the Washington Huskies. A lot of skepticism came out as to whether or not new defensive coordinator John Chavis was the man for the job. The performance against UW was nothing to be proud of, but I was convinced Chavis would get it under control. After all he is not a first year coach, he has been doing this for years, and he's been good at it.

That all changed this past Saturday against Vanderbilt. The LSU defense gave up a mere 210 yards. Period. Vandy had one scoring drive that would of ended had LB Kelvin Sheppard not dropped an interception that would of surely been six points. Chad Jones, as well as the rest of the team, was tackling a lot better. Also, the defensive line started to really get into it. How about the play by Drake Nevis and Al Woods? And what about cornerback Patrick Peterson? He literally shuts down his side of the field. I am excited to see this unit continue to grow throughout the season.

As of now LSU can compete with Alabama, Ole Miss, and Georgia mainly because of our defense's play Saturday. Again I might be jumping the gun on that at this moment.

Florida? Lots of improvement needs to be shown on offense if we want the sky to fall October 10th, but never say never.

Things I was WRONG about...

Unless UCLA has one heck of a defense, UT's offense is not that good. I guess in the end it was just the fact they were playing Western Kentucky. In there home stadium the Vols lost 19-15 to a young, inexperienced UCLA team. Vol QB Jonathon Crompton's performance was dreadful to say the least. He was 13 of 26 for 93 yards and 3 interceptions. Touchdowns? Zero. And oh yeah he lost a fumble as well.

Auburn. I was kept thinking dark times where upon the War Eagles. They did a lousy job of hiring a coach and the SEC West was far too loaded for them to make any noise. I know it's only been 2 games, but rest assured a 49-24 over Mississippi State is something to raise your eyebrow on. Look I know it's early on, but I am ust saying do not be surprised if Auburn starts making some noise.