It has been quite a while since I last wrote on this blog. To be honest I have be spending the past three weeks doing missionary work in Santiago, Chile.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The more I watch him coach and the more I see the public react to his every move, the more I realize that Les Miles is more scrutinized than any coach in the country.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
When I was younger I use to be afraid of what sports would be like in the future. I use to think football would not be played, but instead men in business suits would walk to the center of the field with briefcases. They would sit down and negotiate and eventually come to a resolution. The parties would separate and the game would be over.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A show I enjoy watching is Seinfeld. One scene in Seinfeld best sums up how I felt as a fan after LSU's 32-10 lackluster win against McNeese State on Saturday.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
In regards to the extremely explicit language please do not tell my mother. If she finds out I am almost certain that I will not be getting any Christmas presents this year.
Someone give me an answer. Someone tell me what is going on in New Orleans. Right now through five weeks the Saints are a modest 3-2. After an embarrassing performance in a 30-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, I am officially in panic mode. I am officially sounding the alarms, ordering a Code Red and officially starting to question whether this team can even make the playoffs.
In Week 1 the Saints beat the Vikings in a defensive struggle 14-9. We, the fans, were satisfied because the Sean Payton Saints rarely win dragged out defensive games. In Week 2 the Saints managed to pull out a last second victory, 25-22, against an amped up 49ers team. Again, we were happy because despite playing lousy the Saints managed to pull off a victory against what we considered another NFC playoff team. Then in Week 3 the Saints lousy play caught up to them. Despite chances to win in the end, New Orleans lost 27-24 in overtime. The following week the Saints were to play the lowly Panthers. This was the game the Saints would finally wake up in 2010 and quick screwing around on offense. As it has been so characteristic in 2010 the Saints defense played well, but the offense was inept. Saints survived 16-14. And finally in Week 5 the Saints went against the struggling Cardinals who were starting for the first time at quarterback an undrafted rookie. New Orleans lost 30-20.
I know not having Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush on offense hurts and I realize how much more difficult winning is after winning the Super Bowl, but what the Saints are putting out on the field on Sunday is not average, sub par or mediocre. No, it stinks. There is no excuse for the type of football the Saints are currently playing.
Thomas and Bush’s absences are a big hit for New Orleans, but in no way should that be detrimental to the offense breaking, say, 25 points in a game. The defense has not been as turnover-savvy as last year, but still the unit has been effective. The problem lies with the offense and more importantly red zone efficiency. I would love to look up the stats, but I honestly am too lazy to go to NFL.com and search around (pathetic, I know). How many times this year have the Saints been in the opponent’s territory and a) turned it over, b) shanked a field goal or c) kicked a field goal when all the team had to do was convert a 3rd and short? These mishaps are hindering the offense tremendously.
One of my friends kept joking with me about the Madden Curse. I am honestly starting to believe him. Drew Brees numbers are not bad; it’s just more so than in the past he seems to be making foolish mistakes in crucial moments of the game.
As a complete unit, the offense really just looks bad. Here are some examples of things I am continuously seeing each Sunday.
-A Saints receiver drops the type of throw he rarely misses.
-When the team needs seven points and not three, on third down all too often the team fails to convert the first down. (This was seen in the Cardinals game when it was 13-13 and the Saints had to resort to kicking a field…one in which John Carney so eloquently shanked.)
-On the occasional big throw Drew Brees has been a little off. Most quarterbacks would have made that same throw, but Drew Brees normally makes that difficult throw. All too often this year Brees seems to be somewhat off on the occasional big throw.
The list goes on as there have been far too many foolish penalties and turnovers to name a few.
Nothing can ever tarnish the magic of the 2009 Super Bowl season. Still I, along with other fans, want to see the Saints SUSTAIN EXCELLENCE. Build off of last year. Grow. Develop.
Right now Sean Payton’s team is in real gut-check because with five games down the unit is only a modest 3-2, but with all things considered 3-2 could be much worse. There is no Super Bowl aura around this team; the nation has seen how the Saints are vulnerable. It’s up to them to respond, to get back up and go to work.
I am a Saints fan. I am hopeful things can turn around. Who Dat!
Monday, October 04, 2010
Have you ever seen the movie the Dark Knight? Batman is terrorized by the character known as the Joker. In short, all the Joker wants to do is cause chaos. He desires no money, fame or whatever. All he wants is to cause chaos. Despite some obvious differences in appearance among other things I believe Les Miles is an agent of chaos.
He wants the team to win, but how he goes about doing that makes me believe Les Miles wants chaos. I use to think time management was something Miles did not understand. Nope. I just think he does not care. In his mind Miles thinks the clock is just a number. Why should that stop him and his play calling?
Here's the thing we need to start evaluating - is Les Miles smarter than the rest of us, kind of like the Joker was in the Dark Knight? I know this is crazy, but LSU's coach is crazy so I am trying to find an answer to the craziness I constantly see.
Maybe in some messed up way Les Miles's plan for the Tennessee game was to win on an untimed down. Maybe it was on his bucket list. I do not know, but there has to be some explanation for a team being in disarray in the final moments of a game, there has to be some reason a massive substitute was made in the game's final seconds.
To the public this is another one of Les Miles head-scratching games, but I think there is more to the madness.
Albert Einstein once said insanity is doing something over and over and over. Well, against Auburn in 2007 Miles mismanaged the clock. Tigers still won. Against Ole Miss in 2009 he mismanaged the clock again. Tigers lost. Against Tennessee on Saturday he mismanaged the clock yet again. This time Tigers won. So as far as times where Miles has mismanaged the clock LSU has won two of three games. Not bad.
Now comes the hard part - what is Miles next move? Nobody has any idea. Only in the depth's of Les Miles's brain does the answer lie. For the past 24 hours I have been trying to think of what it could be.
Here is my list so far...
On First and Goal at the opponent 3 Les Miles sends out the field goal unit, except the kicker is none other than All-American Patrick Peterson.
On Third and 2 on the opponent's 17 yard line Miles will elect to do a flea flicker...to an offensive line man.
On 3rd and 15 after one of the quarterbacks have driven the team down the field, Miles elects to put the other quarterback in and run a quarterback sneak.
With less than 30 seconds left and LSU having just run a quarterback sneak to the right side of the field and the clock ticking, Miles will elect to make a massive substitute to waste more time. Wait. This one already happened. My bad.
"Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."
-Alfred's quote from the Dark Knight describing the Joker (reminds me of Les Miles)
We can speculate later. We can scrutinize the Tigers 16-14 win over the Tennessee Volunteers later in the week. We can rip apart Les Miles time management issues later in the week. We can discuss the mistake-prone offense LSU runs later. That will be addressed, but for now let's bask in the fact LSU won yet another game.
And what an ending.
Having recently graduated LSU I knew getting tickets to LSU home games would be that much more challenging, and the price would be even more steep. My motivation for getting tickets to LSU games was being in the stadium and experiencing those wins when all odds pointed to an LSU loss.
Even if the clock showed zero.
There is something magical about being in a stadium when your team finds a way to win at the very last moment. That moment, that instance when your team pulls out a victory everyone is just happy. There are no mixed emotions. There is no breaking down of the game, highlighting who and what looked good. Nobody downgrades the victory. No, for a short while after your team finds a win there is just a feeling by all of your teams fans of joy. Joy because after the odds were stacked against your team and defeat seemed imminent, they somehow won. How they looked doing it is irrelevant at that moment you are going crazy with 92,000+ of your closest friends. I will go a step farther and see it's even more enjoyable when you are in the student section. You spend four quarters screaming your lungs out for your team hoping that somehow they just find a way to win. At the end of the day a victory is the most essential part of your day of tailgating and rooting for your team. If a loss results, all the trouble you went through was not worth it in the end.
After back up quarterback Jarrett Lee completed a 4th and 14 I thought LSU would score with a little less than a minute remaining. I figured Les Miles and his staff would finish the drive, more importantly prevent any chaos from ensuing. But moments later I saw myself watching LSU pull the same time management garbage they pulled against Ole Miss last year. With 32 seconds left the Tigers ran a short run to the right side with Jordan Jefferson.
The clock ticked. LSU decided it needed to substitute different players into the game. The clock continued to tick. Certain players where confused on what was going on. The clock continued to tick. And then with only a mere two seconds remaining the ball was snapped. Jefferson, unaware of the snap, had to chase down the ball and jump on it. The game was over. The 5:41 drive was for nothing, the tailgating was for nothing. Les Miles, in the most critical moments of the game, managed to gag once again.
Or did he.
As it has been so characteristic during his tenure at LSU, Miles pulled a trick out of his hat. During the substitution chaos Tennessee had too many players run on the field. After the Tennessee team celebrated and Coach Derek Dooley and his players screamed in celebration and Tiger Nation cursed, a flag was seen on the field.
LSU would be granted one more play after the Tennessee penalty. Only moments earlier Tiger Stadium let off a noise we can only hope will never be heard again. Les Miles, LSU's chaotic coach, mismanaged the clock and yet again embarrassed the team and university...or so we thought.
On the untimed last play of the game the stadium lay in dead silence as we all hoped to witness the impossible - watch LSU win a game with no time left. Stevan Ridley was given a toss to the left of the offensive line. He side stepped one defender and met the last one on the goal line. In one last burst of energy Ridley passed the goal line and Tiger Stadium let off a euphoric cry of happiness. Les Miles, the Mad Hatter, had somehow, someway managed to pull a victory out of his hat in one of the most unlikely ways.
When the chips where down and the clock struck zero, Les Miles and his insanity managed to get LSU a victory.
They say cats have nine lives. In that case how many lives does Les Miles have?
Monday, September 27, 2010
After a 20-14 win against West Virginia the LSU Tigers are 4-0, but even with an untarnished record there is still plenty to talk about.
In Week 1 LSU surrendered 24 points to the North Carolina Tar Heels. Since then the defense had been in lockdown mode. Against Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and West Virginia, LSU has given up a COMBINED 24 points. The offense needs work (we will get there), but for now let's focus on the excellent job Miles has done on getting this defensive unit together. After the nightmare 2008 campaign, Miles hired long time Tennessee Volunteer defensive coordinator John Chavis. In 2009, the unit looked okay. This season Chavis's crew has taken the next step. Against West Virginia, one of the Big East's premier offenses, LSU shut down the Mountaineers to a measly 177 yards of total offense. The one thing about this unit I am liking more and more each game is there tackling. There are no missed tackles. Guys make the tackle on attempt one. I am also starting to see a young Laron Landry in Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu is a guarantee for at least one big time play a game whether that's a sack, forced fumble or whatever, Mathieu, even as a freshman, has a knack for disturbing an offense's flow.
Equally as impressive as the defense was the special teams. In a game that featured little offense having LSU score off a punt return and block a field goal might of been the difference for the Tigers. As each week passes more and more people across the country are beginning to see the superhuman himself, Mr. Patrick Peterson. Peterson's punt return seemed so effortless; he moves at a different pace. I know it let West Virginia back in the game, but I have to admit Peterson's Heisman pose was worth it. The only thing holding No. 7 back from making even more plays is the cramps he frequently gets in the second half of games.
Now on to the bad news. The offense.
The word "suck" is thrown out a lot these days. Someone may say there team sucks, but truly not understand the meaning of the word. Well, in the case of the LSU offense, their offense did indeed suck. For the third straight week Jordan Jefferson threw for less than 100 yards. This week he threw for 76. On a team with a great secondary, a great defensive line, a solid offensive line, a good running back corps, a good wide receiver corps, the Tigers have an inefficient quarterback. I stood by Jefferson all last year. I believed he would mature from his mistakes in 2009. I believed Miles this summer and I believed Jefferson when he said things would change. But after four games I have say there needs to be some sort of change. There has to be some accountability. Jefferson looks worse than last year. His presence in the pocket has taken a nose dive and his inability to make simple downfield throws seems to have gotten worse. The booing does not help and if you participate in that I am certain you are an idiot. Les Miles needs to give Jarrett Lee a chance this year. Lee needs to be given more snaps.
(Call me crazy but Jarrett Lee in 2008 is better than Jordan Jefferson in 2010. Lee was good for lets say 24 points a game. And every other game he was good for a pick six. Lee had some games where he put up more than 24. With LSU's current defense a couple interceptions would not be the end of the world. I will take that over LSU's current situation. Wow I can't believe I said that, but that is how bad the quarterback situation has gotten.)
I really do hope Jefferson turns it around. I hope the light goes off in his head, but from what I am seeing he is hurting the team by being on the field. Miles needs to realize this and give more snaps to Lee. If Lee does not get on the field anymore, honestly what must happen for it to ever happen?
The quarterback of the 2010 LSU Tigers does not have to throw for 300 yards a game along with two touchdowns. Simply put, the quarterback just needs to be a game manager. Jefferson is not succeeding at this. The LSU defense and the special teams seem more and more like LSU's best chance to score. I am dead serious.
But all the blame can not be placed on Jefferson alone.
The play calling for the LSU offense is abyssal to say the least. Once again the game plan stunk and the creativity we all loved about Miles's offensive play calls was no where to be seen. What frustrates me the most is Miles and Crowton's insistence to continue to run plays that have NEVER worked. For instance, the short side of the field option. If I told you that every Saturday morning Gary Crowton shows up with six pieces of notebooks with six plays written on them in crayon you might believe me, right? That's how bad the offensive game plan is.
And this leads me to my final point. Does Les Miles adapt or is he arrogant? Right now the defense is leading LSU to victories, but with the meat of the schedule coming up the Tigers offense must get better. Will Miles, after weeks of the unit struggling, realize a change must be made, new plays must be put in, Lee needs to be given a chance or will he simply stick to his guns and insist upon the same, ineffective, wasteful offensive game plan?
I hope the offense turns it around. I hope the unit gels and gets the ball rolling, but I am skeptical to believe that Miles will adapt. He is who he is and Les Miles has rarely been one to change his approach.
Regardless of the outcome.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I remember it very well. It was 1996 and the Saints were about to start the season. To open that year New Orleans was playing the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers were only two years removed from winning the Super Bowl. I was nine and did not care. My team, the Saints, were going to be on TV and I was happy.
Right from the get-go it was San Francisco's game. There was no question the Saints did not belong on the field. By halftime I was so upset I turned the game off as the Saints were already down 24-0. New Orleans would eventually lose 27-11. My whole childhood the 49ers always outclassed the Saints. If the Saints looked like they had the game, San Francisco just found a way to win. For years San Francisco was New Orleans's biggest roadblock. From 1993 to 1999 the two franchises squared off 12 times and only once did the Saints ever win.
Now look back at that Monday night victory. It was a very frustrating game to watch and as the game progressed it really seemed like it was not the Saints day. With a chance to go up 26-14, the Saints had to settle on a field goal. The 49ers then drove down and tied the score. In the past, the Saints would of withered. They would of folded and lost in overtime. But for some reason, and this is why the Saints are unique group of guys, they prevailed.
Much like the 49ers of the 1990s, the Saints found a way to win. It was not pretty, but Drew Brees found a way to get the team a victory, Marques Colston found a way to come up with a huge catch, Garrett Hartley found a way to hit the game-winner.
And this is the biggest aspect of this Saints team I enjoy the most. The 48-27 wins are terrific and more enjoyable, but it's games like these that make me realize how special this crew really is. It's one thing to win a game, it's another to fight an entire game and when the chips are down still find a way to win.
The Saints have no doubt a lot they need to work, but with that said it can not be overlooked how this team, just like the Steelers and the Colts of the NFL, displayed the resiliency to gut out a victory when a loss seemed imminent.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
LSU beats Mississippi State 29-7
For the 2010 season the LSU Tigers have been a box of chocolate team. Each half of football you do not know what you are going to get. After an impressive 29-7 win against the Bulldogs of Starksville I had 4 main points I wanted to address about the Tigers.
1. LSU has a defense
The one thing fans came away from the LSU win smiling about was the LSU defense. For the first time in a few years the LSU defense really looked like it could be a force. On paper a 29-7 victory does not seem like that big of a margin, but if one were to have watched the game it would be realized just how much the LSU defense had the game in control. Outside of only giving up 7 points, the LSU defense also picked off Mississippi State 5 different times. The biggest thing that stands out about this unit is their ability to disguise blitzs and cause havoc for the quarterback. Even with a struggling offense, having a good defense will keep LSU in big games. On paper right now I think LSU has a chance to beat Florida because of their defense. Same goes for Alabama. If you have a good defense you can stay in games.
2. Drake Nevis is a beast
My former Communication and Gender classmate is ripping through offensive lines. In 2009 LSU struggled immensely with the pass rush. This year because of the maturity of players like Drake Nevis the Tigers defense is able to get a consistent pass rush and in turn allow for defensive coordinator John Chavis to send in more blitzs. Last game Nevis had an interception and nine tackles. Defensive tackles do not get nine tackles a game, that just shows you how special of a player Nevis is. He is as important to LSU's defense as Patrick Peterson.
3. Gary Crowton has the creativity of, well, someone not creative.
I will continue to hope he turns things around. I will continue to hope the offense starts, well, being more productive. But I am also a realist. The offensive game plan for LSU is all too simple week in and week out. Crowton, the so-called Wizard, continues to run the same predictable plays. I joke with my friends that Crowton has six pieces of notebook paper. On each paper, written in crayon, he has six plays. Honestly when you watch a game that seems like what's going on. All too often there will be a situation where LSU will line up on a crucial third down and as fan you realize what the play is. So if you the fan know the play, what do you think the opposing defensive coordinator knows? THE PLAY! One moment in Saturday's game sticks out the most. It was 3rd and Goal at the three. LSU had run the ball the previous two plays with Ridley. On this third down, the Tigers come out in a I-Form with ZERO WIDE RECEIVERS. Mississippi State packs everyone in and, gasp, LSU surprisingly decides to run with Ridley to the left. And surprisingly LSU is stopped for a one yard loss. Everyone in the stadium, including Mike the Tiger, knew the play. THAT'S A BIG PROBLEM. I have found no reason to think Gary Crowton will address these issues.
4. Offense progressed as game went on
The offense sputtered in the first half. Despite numerous times where the Tigers had good field position, LSU continued to get field goals. With that said, LSU did show progress in the second half. It was 12-0 when Mississippi State, with their back up quarterback now in the game, just scored. At 12-7 the next drive was crucial for Jordan Jefferson and the offense. Jefferson drove the team down for seven big points. Later on in the third he scored another touchdown to put LSU up 26-7. It might not have been much, but one half removed from 4 field goals I do take it as a positive sign when the offense puts up two touchdowns. Hopefully against West Virginia the team can build on that.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
NCAA Top 25
I will give my thoughts on the games that are worth thinking about. I do not feel like typing about how West Virginia is going to destroy Marshall. Boring.
So without further ado...
23 Georgia @ South Carolina
Aaron Murray looked impressive in his first start for the Bulldogs, but even more impressive in Week 1 was the South Carolina offense. Since 2001 these teams have squared off nine times. Of those nine games, seven have been decided by an average of 5 points. Bottom line: look for another close one in Columbia this weekend. I will take Georgia in a close one. Stephen Garcia and the Gamecocks should pull out the upset, but I like Aaron Murray and I think he helps the Bulldogs avoid another early season slip. Also, South Carolina struggles at pulling out victories in close games.
20 Florida State @ 7 Oklahoma
This is the first time these two schools have squared off since the 2001 Orange Bowl when Oklahoma defeated Florida State 13-2 to win the title. Oklahoma's defense as well as quarterback Landry Jones looked shaky in the Sooners' opening week 31-24 win against Utah State. I like Florida State in this game because I think for the first time in several years Florida State has a veteran quarterback who can put up points on the board regardless of the opponent.
Florida State 30-24
9 Iowa vs. Iowa State
This game always is tricky. Seems one year when you are settled on Iowa winning, Iowa State pulls out an upset. It's a rivalry so that happens. I like the Hawkeyes because the game is at home, plus Iowa brings back a defense that was suffocating to say the least.
13 Miami-Florida @ 2 Ohio State
Game of the Week! This is the first meeting between the two teams since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl where the Buckeyes prevailed over the Hurricanes in two overtimes. The game is remembered for the controversial pass interference call. Miami keeps yapping that this is the game they will not only payback Ohio State, but put themselves back on the college football map. I am sure it sounds cute Miami-Florida that you guys are upset and are going to travel to Columbus and win a big game and yadda yadda Miami football is back. Sorry ain't buying it. In the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend!" Ohio State is a national championship contender and there is a reason for that. Terrelle Pryor made the next big step when Ohio State beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl last year. On the big stage expect Pryor to one up Jacory Harris on the ground and air. Miami does not have the horses to win in a hostile environment.
Ohio State 34-24
19 Penn State @ 1 Alabama
I am getting sick and tired of every media source out there hyping up this game. Two years ago the media hyped up the Alabama/Clemson game. Clemson got embarrassed. Last year the media did the same thing with Virginia Tech. VTech fell in the end. This year the media is trying to build up this game. All that matters is this: Penn State has a true freshman quarterback. Period. The Crimson Tide will roll on Saturday. Alabama has too many weapons and their defense will cause nightmares for Penn State all afternoon.
11 Oregon @ Tennessee
Oregon ran for what seemed like 1,000 yards last week in their 72-0 win over New Mexico. Even with that impressive win and a Tennessee football team that will struggle this year, I still look for the Vols to cause some problems for the Ducks. Tennessee will keep it close for the first half, but ultimately Oregon will push the game away with, gasp, it's running game.
21 LSU @ Vanderbilt
LSU plays Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde football. You really do not know what you are going to get. One game the Tigers play 3 lousy quarters and 1 good quarter, the next week they play 3 great quarters and a lousy fourth. It's a coin flip. I will hope LSU gets everything together, but the Tigers are who they are. The defense will be solid and the offense will get it's points. No style points will be present.
Michigan @ Notre Dame
So what if it isn't Top 25. This is a rivalry game. Sometimes I think it must be hard to be a Notre Dame fan. The instant your team wins ONE GAME the media circus explodes. The Irish looked good in the opening season 23-12 win over Purdue, but again it was Purdue. Michigan on the other hand beat Connecticut, a BCS sleeper. I think Denard Robinson's ability to both pass and run the ball on opposing defenses will be just enough for the Wolverines to sneak out a win in South Bend. RichRod finally has a QB.
Raiders at Titans
Raiders have a new look at quarterback as JaWalrus has been replaced with Jason Campbell. I expect Oakland to be better than in recent years, but I can't see there defense having anyone who can stop Chris Johnson. Campbell and Co. will keep it close but Jeff Fisher and the Titans are set on getting back to the playoffs and beyond.
Panthers at Giants
The Panthers finished strong last season. The Giants finished awful. I think the good feeling Carolina had at the end of last season will carry over to week one. I am unsure of what to think about this 2010 Giants team. I still see them sneaking in the playoffs, but in week one Matt Moore and Co. get the last laugh.
Colts at Texans
The Texans are 1-15 against the Colts. Reread that if you must. Colts will blow open the gates by going up 14-0. Texans will get a couple scores to make it respectable (14-10), but ultimately Indy will bring the hammer down once again on Houston because Peyton Manning is a machine.
Broncos at Jaguars
This is an interesting game because, well, I do not think either team is particularly good. Both teams have QB issues (Tebow isn't ready) and both have suspect defenses at times. David Garrard has not progressed like the Jacksonville organization has hoped. The Jaguar team is Jones-Drew and that's it. Denver will gut out a win in a game that will surprisingly be one of the weekend's most exciting.
Falcons at Steelers
Pittsburgh does not have Big Ben for four weeks. Atlanta is being talked about as the team on the rise. This is a recipe for Atlanta to make a statement. Pitt has a defense, but Dennis Dixon is going to struggle against an improving Atlanta defense. Matt Ryan will make viewers forget about his sophomore slump.
Dolphins at Bills
I feel bad for Buffalo fans. For the past ten years the Bills have stunk. Despite move after move the team does not seem to be getting any better. Even with new head coach Chan Gailey I do not see things changing at all. The opposite can be said about Miami. Chad Henne is maturing fast and Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are ready to cause opposing defensive coordinators head aches with the Wildcat offense.
Lions at Bears
The Lions made a lot of adjustments this offseason on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears made adjustments on the offensive side by bringing in offensive guru Mike Martz. I like the Lions in an upset because I think Detroit is optimistic about the future while the Bears are sort of waiting for the house to collapse. Jay Cutler is a coin-flip quarterback. You never know what you are going to get with him. If he starts to play bad it always seems to snowball.
Bengals at Patriots
How good is this new Bengals offense going to be? They drafted well, but they did pick up Team Obliterator aka Terrell Owens. Tom Brady just signed a monster contract, but unfortunately this offseason the Pats have been hit hard by the injury bug. I should pick Cincy to upset the Pats. It makes sense, but at the end of the day I have a very difficult time picking against Belichek in Week 1.
Browns at Buccaneers
Both of these teams struggled immensely last year, but Cleveland more so than any other team with a losing record really finished strong in 2009. I know Tampa Bay beat the Saints in Week 16, but for some reason I like Cleveland in this game. I think we see the old Jake Delhomme for most of the game. He will get enough scores for the Browns to move to 1-0.
49ers at Seahawks
I have no idea what to expect from the Seahawks. Pete Carroll has always been an average NFL coach, but maybe this time is different. San Fran on the other hand is talking about Alex Smith finally being ready to take the next step and be an efficient, effective QB week in and week out. This game is a crap shoot because no one knows which Matt Hasselback will show up: the recent Matt or the Super Bowl Matt.
Packers at Eagles
Both teams have high expectations. First, Green Bay is the popular Super Bowl pick for the 2010 season and Mr. Aaron Rodgers is every one's MVP. On the other end Kevin Kolb is the face of the Philadelphia Eagles. With McNabb gone it is officially his team. Kolb was good in his two games last year, but Rodgers is better. Green Bay is going to have a New Orleans-like offense this year. Philly is not capable of hanging with that.
Cardinals at Rams
Hmmm. One part of me says, "Arizona is in disarray at the QB position, plus St. Louis looked alright in the preseason. Pick St. Louis in the upset." The other part of me says, "The St. Louis Rams stink. That was preseason. Sam Bradford is a rookie. Be realistic." What the hell. Arizona runs Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower to a victory.
Cowboys at Redskins
Cowboys have the weight on the world on their shoulders. Super Bowl or death. The Redskins on the other hand are just looking forward to being a good team again. With McNabb, keep an eye on the 'Skins. If Dallas has a better offensive line they should win this game before the fourth, but Albert Haynesworth is $100 million man so I expect him to make an impact and keep Washington in the game. Ultimately, Dallas prevails behind Romo's arm.
Ravens at Jets
Game of the Week! This was a good game until Ray Lewis and Darrell Revis started talking. Now it's a great game! How much more pumped are you for this game after all the trash talking!? Maybe I have something wrong with me (I'm sure I do), but trash talking makes me anticipate the game that much more. Ray Lewis loves running his mouth, but the thing about him is he backs it up. This game will come down to quarterback play. I feel Joe Flacco will do much better against the Jets' defense than Marc Sanchez will do against the Ravens' defense. This will be a game till the end.
Chargers at Chiefs
Year Two in the Matt Cassel experiment kicks off on Monday. Unfortunately, the Chiefs go against the Chargers. Kansas City has some good young talent in Jamaal Charles, but Phillip Rivers is one of the league's best quarterbacks. Kansas City will surprise people by keeping it close for a half with defense, but Rivers will push the game away in the late third with some backbreaking drives.
Monday, August 09, 2010
College football will be upon us in less than a month and like any other year predictions are abundant. We all think we know how our team is going to do because of x, y and z. We feel our opinion is worth listening to because of our involvement in alumni relations, high school football or just because we have been watching football for most our lives. The story is always the same. So without further ado I thought I would give my breakdown on the 2010 LSU Tigers football team. After all why would you not want to listen to my insightful predictions for the upcoming season?
For the first three years at LSU Les Miles was on cloud nine. He won a national championship and compiled an impressive 34-6 record that included going 19-5 in the SEC. But in the past two seasons that record has dipped to a disappointing 17-9, including 8-8 in the SEC. How did it get so bad so fast in Baton Rouge for Les Miles? And why should there be hope for the Tigers this coming year?
Whatever improvements LSU made in 2009 from 2008 (an improved defense), there was equally as many setbacks (lack of an offense). The question is does LSU have the mindset and skills to improve and avoid another season of disappointment? The answer is yes and here are the main reasons.
1. UNDERDOG ROLE
For the past however many months the national media has taken turns either a) ragging on Les Miles b) criticizing Jordan Jefferson's potential or c) highlighting why LSU can not sniff Alabama's jock strap. (Do not get me wrong last year I spent a lot of time yelling at Miles and Jefferson.) These criticisms on the football program have in turn lit a fire under Les Miles and the LSU football team. When your program is nationally dissed (4th in the SEC West at the SEC Media Day) a team comes together. It has happened to LSU teams in the past. Add in the fact that Les Miles has his back against the wall and I have to believe things will turn around. There's a reason he won 34 games in his first three seasons. Sure he had "Saban's players," but he still won 34 games. Look at Miami Florida. Randy Shannon has a heck of a lot of talent, but his teams have really never done much. Bottom line: Miles was a winner in the beginning. That was not a fluke. He needs to find that magic he use to show on the sidelines.
2. QUARTERBACK GROWTH
Since Ryan Perrilloux's debacle LSU has not had a strong quarterback behind center. Far too often inexperience has gotten the best of the LSU quarterback. Despite Jordan Jefferson's shortcomings in 2009 (held on to the ball too long and accuracy issues) he still showed moments of promise. Say what you want about the guy he still finished with a respectable 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Add in the fact that he was the 5th most efficient passer in the SEC you can see why I truly believe he will drastically improve this year. Jefferson was one of the youngest quarterbacks to be starting in SEC history. When Russell and Flynn came to LSU they were not thrown onto the field. They had time to slowly understand the offense and better yet go on the field when they were ready. Jefferson did not have this and I feel like this is all too commonly overlooked. With a year under his belt I feel LSU's offense will be much more in sync because of Jefferson's maturity and the emergence of a much better offensive line.
3. REVAMPED OFFENSIVE LINE
In 2009 the LSU offensive line was surprisingly one of the worst in the SEC. Better yet, it cemented an LSU offense that ranked 107th nationally. This is the biggest question mark and the biggest thing I am most concerned with. Last year's offensive line for the majority of the season stunk. It never got into a groove so two things suffered immensely: first, with no offensive line there is no run game. Meaning LSU fans got very familiar with 2nd and 9s instead of 2nd and 4s. That's crucial when you really break that down. With a young quarterback, whether or not it will be a scoring drive starts with progress on first down. And more times than not on first down for LSU in 2009 they ran the ball. And more times than not LSU did a poor job moving the ball. Secondly, with a poor offensive line and an inexperienced quarterback you are probably going to have a) a quarterback on the run a lot and b) an inept offense that struggled the majority of the season. Both of these were true. This aspect can not be overlooked. Even a slightly improved Jefferson and a more in sync offensive line will greatly benefit the LSU offense. I am confident in both.
4. BILLY GONZALES'S IMPACT
Former Florida wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales is one of brightest spots this past offseason for the Tigers. Gonzales is widely known for the successes he had with utilizing Percy Harvin. I think what excites me the most is how LSU has a player of equal mold to Harvin - Russell Shepard. Shepard is a serious threat every time he steps on the field. The spring game for the Tigers was not the greatest showcase of LSU's potential, but the one bright spot for Shepard's ability to consistently get open. Add in the fact LSU has Reuben Randle and Terrence Toliver and you can see why I expect to see great improvement from the wide receivers group. Gonzales is one of the best in the business at getting his players to maximize their potential meaning the three-headed monster of Shepard, Randle and Tolliver should cause havoc for any team in the SEC.
5. PETERSON ISLAND AND MO
Patrick Peterson is not a human. He is not a normal person like you or me. Patrick Peterson is a freak. He origins are as mysterious as Captain America or Superman. Peterson is 6'1" 222 pounds. Take that in for second. LSU has a cornerback that is 222 pounds and he has not lost any speed. Like I said he is a freak. (Just to give you an idea Darrelle Revis is 5'11" 198 pounds.) Some people have suggested moving him to safety. My question - why? With Peterson being the shutdown corner he is that's one less side of the field LSU has to worry about, better yet if gives them options. The other corner is Morris "Mo" Claiborne. Claiborne has been having an impressive camp. With two shutdown corners LSU will be able to blitz that much more and that makes all the difference. One of the issues with LSU's defense last year was the struggles LSU's cornerbacks (other than Peterson) had throughout the season. One of the glaring problems was how LSU gave up big 3rd downs. Having one superb cornerback and another up and coming cornerback gives Chavis options on third downs.
6. BACK TO BASICS DEFENSIVE LINE
The offensive line stunk last year and the defensive line stunk. I would go as far as to say the defensive line was worse. It's like dominoes when you really put together LSU's 2009 problems. Without an effective pass rush the run defense was lousy therefore the rest of the defense had to play that much better. (Now keep in mind LSU's defense was not terrible last year, but they were not spectacular. Still improvements need to be made. These are the hopeful solutions.) Of all the young players getting on the field this season, I am most excited about the defensive line. There's Sam Montgomery, Chris Davenport and Josh Downs to name a few. Add in senior Drake Nevis and there's reason to believe this unit can rebound.
Playing the underdog role, Jefferson's quarterback growth, a revamped offensive line, Billy Gonzales's impact, Peterson Island and Mo and a back to basics defensive line are the six reasons I am optimistic about LSU's 2010 season. Now believe me I'm well aware of the past struggles and I am well aware of the uneasiness about LSU football this season. I know things could get worse for LSU in a hurry, but I look at Miles and I look at Jefferson and I think had LSU won that game against Ole Miss or Penn State, just one more game, all the talk would of been how Miles got his 4th season of at least 10 wins. Now granted things did get bad last season, but it's interesting to note how drastically things switch. If there is one thing that has the biggest impact on the LSU's season I think, no question, it would have to be Jordan Jefferson's maturity. How that guy changed his game this offseason will be directly correlated with LSU's final record. (By the way I read Jefferson watched highlights of every single play he was involved in last year. He took notes on what he did wrong. And at SEC Media Day one of the most impressive things spectators commented on was the maturity of Jordan Jefferson. Whether or not a good interview translates into a good quarterback remains to be seen.)
I think after seeing Les Miles's most recent press conference where the Mad Hatter was displaying a childish grin I have to agree with my dad. Les Miles is seating on a loaded pistol and no one knows it.
Here is my call. I am sick of thinking I will jinx the team. The Saints won the Super Bowl so the word jinx is dead...I think.
This is the first game of the season meaning the team will be rusty. I am willing to bet that 95% of my age group is going to be cursing the TV if LSU does not score within 38 seconds into the game. This will be mostly a defensive game. North Carolina has a good defense, so does LSU. The biggest factor in this game will be LSU's ability to neutralize UNC's amazing defensive line. Look for the Tigers to pull out a close one.
The Tigers will travel to Vanderbilt to take on a Commodore team that just lost their head coach about a month ago. Vandy will be down this year despite returning quarterback Larry Smith. The LSU run game will be pivotal in this game. I think Michael Ford and Richard Murphy propel LSU to blow up this game.
Last year the Bulldogs really thought they had LSU. Unfortunately they could not get six inches. What a shame. 2010's game will not be a blowout. I do not expect LSU to struggle in their home opener. It will be a close game at the half, but the second half the Tigers put on the after burners. Jefferson and Shepard cause havoc while The Freak bulldozes a quarterback.
It's been a while since some Tiger Stadium magic has taken place. WV comes ready to play and jumps on LSU. Jefferson plays a terrific game. LSU's defense struggles against Noel Devine. WV has a fourth quarter lead, but Jefferson leads the Tigers back for a thrilling victory.
A week after a dramatic win against the Mountaineers, LSU gets jumped on by a struggling Vols team. Tigers defense makes some key second half stops that swings the momentum. Shepard is again a huge factor and a nightmare for defenses.
The Swamp has not been kind to LSU in recent years, unfortunately I do not see that changing. For the third week in a row LSU finds itself in a hole, but the Tigers are unable to shake a 14-0 deficit. The offensive line struggles in the trenches against the Gators. Also, the run game does not get going and Jefferson has to lead the team to victory on his own. Not the Tigers day.
LSU demolishes yet another Louisiana team.
LSU travels to Hell to play the Auburn Tigers. Game comes down to the four quarter where Auburn scores a late touchdown to crush LSU's dreams. Tigers play very well in defeat.
The entire state of Louisiana eagerly awaits for the Game of the Year. Les Miles and his crew do push ups in broken glass to get pumped for the game. Unlike 2008, Bama's last time in Tiger Stadium, LSU does not have a pick-six quarterback leading the team. Jefferson gets LSU out to a fast start. Russell Shepard and Reuben Randle cause trouble for Alabama all afternoon. Alabama makes a fourth quarter rally only to be denied by Chavis's defense. Score one for the good guys!
Like I said, another Louisiana blowout. Yawn.
LSU redeems themselves after back-to-back years of falling to the Rebels. The running game allows LSU's play action to get a couple scores. Even Masoli can not rally the Rebels after an impressive third quarter showing by the Tigers.
The Razorbacks get redemption after last year's dramatic overtime loss. LSU defense fails to make a key stop towards the end of the game. Jefferson has a solid performance, Peterson has a great game, but is not enough to rally the Tigers.
Final call: 9-3
Even with only a one game improvement from 2009 I still think LSU makes great strides in 2010.