Friday, September 30, 2005

Yinka, Dinka, Doo.

I tried to post this article at the end of my last post but was unable. I care about you guys so much that I've taken the time and effort to go ahead and do a second posting today just so I could share the magic that is this

I should have just come into work with a stamp on my forehead today.

I an effort to discuss the NFL schedule before the games are actually played I will tackle a few of the more interesting (to me) matchups of the upcoming weekend, while also lightly discussing some of the more noteworthy collegiate games taking place tomorrow. Basically, I have finally come to grips with the fact that I’m waaay too lazy a dude to ever write any thing of significance on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s very similar to my workout schedule. I can pretend that I’m going to go to the gym on Saturday morning before the first game kicks off at 1 pm, but once I start ordering shots and trimming trees on Friday evening the chances of either of those activities actually happening decrease at an alarming rate. You would think I would know better by now. I haven’t even rolled out of bed in time to watch an entire episode of Gameday since I was 19, so why would I even pretend that I’ll get up in time to workout or write a semi-useless blog? Because I’m delusional and pathetic…that’s why.

One thing I forgot to mention about this weekend is that I’ll be thoroughly enjoying the Red Sox-Yankees series. Besides the inherent drama that a series like this supplies, it will be especially rewarding to watch my friends JJ, Matt, & Kurt squirm in their chairs for three days every time that David Ortiz comes to bat. Seriously, If you were a Yankees fan wouldn’t this guy have driven you straight down Xanax Lane by now? As for my rooting interest, I always love to see the Yankees lose, especially in heartbreaking fashion, but I don’t have much preference on which one of these teams takes the division this weekend. I’m just hoping that there isn’t any sort of repeat performance of the awkward man hug that Kurt and I were involved in immediately after the infamous Aaron Boone homer.

As for the weekend on the gridiron (winners in bold):


San Diego @ New England: I’m sticking with the Cris Collinsworth model of never, ever picking against the Patriots. I know that they’re really banged up and coming off a game that extended them to the brink, but I’m just not willing to go against them until it’s been proven that they’re not the best team in the league anymore. In a related note: Rodney Harrison’s replacement is none other than former Florida Gator (and one of my personal favorites of recent vintage) Guss Scott.

Philly @ KC: Yes. Two teams who boast a less than impressive roster of wideouts, yet still saw fit to send Freddie Mitchell’s bama ass packing. Gotta love that.

What are the odds that Dick Vermeil gets all teary eyed over dinner and a nice bottle of wine with Ron Jaworski tonight? Is there anything better than even money? If so, I’ll take it. I’ll also take the Chiefs playing in Arrowhead against a herniated Donovan F. McNabb. Semi-related fearless prediction: Philly won’t win the NFC this year. Too banged up, not enough run game, too many fans who are plumbers.

Denver @ Jacksonville: Jake Plummer looked good enough on Monday night to almost make you forget that he’s…Jake Plummer. That’s the deal with Jake, he’ll look good enough to suck you in and then turnaround and throw three picks (two of which are horribly inexcusable and possibly back breaking). Here’s where the three picks come in. Jacksonville’s defense is too good to let Jake consistently get out of the pocket like he did on Monday and their defensive tackles (Stroud, Henderson) should be too much for a depleted Denver O-Line to handle.

As an aside: I’m not sold on Byron Leftwich , not by a longshot. Dan Marino was praising him for the clutch throw he made to Jimmy Smith on Sunday while conveniently forgetting that he threw a pick one possession earlier on a badly underthown ball to Matt Jones that would have been a sure TD, had Leftwich not missed so badly. I am a big fan of Leftwich’s pocket presence and overall toughness but he lacks the necessary accuracy at this point in his career to be the kind of QB that you can build a consistent winner around.

Minnesota @ Atlanta (1st Annual Doug Williams Bowl): Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, blah, blah,Warren Moon, blah, blah, blah, blah. By the way, is there a worse “signature” pendant on a necklace today that Culpepper’s platinum chili pepper? I say no.

Jets @ Ravens: Ugh. Is anybody really going to watch Bruce Bollinger ( according to Ron Jaworski on Monday Night Countdown) and Anthony Wright attempt to direct these two anemic offenses. I mean other than the pipeheads in New York and the syphillitic residents of Baltimore?

Houston @ WKRP: Do you think that David Carr and Drew Henson have ever been introduced to one another? It’s about time we made that happen. I mean what’s the difference between the two of these guys. Ah yes, Drew played baseball for a few years so he actually has an excuse for sucking so bad.

Remember when I said that I wasn’t on the Bengals bandwagon? Well, yeah…I take it all back. I was watching the Gator Hotline last night ( Urban Meyer’s call-in show) and he confessed to being a HUGE Bengals fan. Hey!!! Me too.

Detroit @ Tampa Bay: The Bucs can’t possibly lose to Joey Harrington on the road, can they? I say no. This will be a low scoring affair and will be in doubt until a Derrick Brooks interception in the fourth finally seals it for the Bucs. At least that’s the way it went in my dreams last night.


Michigan @ Michigan State: Is there an in-state rivalry between two major Division 1 programs that has less intensity and overall pageantry than this? Even the polygamists in Utah muster up more venom for the annual BYU-Utah matchup than the folks in Ann Arbor or East Lansing do each year for this clash.

A couple of quick notes on this game: Everybody has been so busy giving schlow to Drew Stanton this week that nobody has mentioned what a great job John L. Smith has done for MSU. Remember, it was Smith not Bobby Petrino who resurrected the program at Louisville. He’s now doing the same thing at MSU. Ya know…this guy might be a decent coach. As for Michigan, when does Lloyd Carr give Matt Gutierrez a shot at QB. This guy was slated to be the starter last year before he was injured in fall practice and lost his job to Chad Henne. Now that Henne is the official poster boy for the sophomore jinx, shouldn’t you at least give it a go with Gutierrez? Hell, put Steve Breaston under center…at least then he’d actually touch the ball more than five times a game. For the record, I'm taking Michigan because I think MSU has to fall down at some point. Why not now?

USC @ Arizona State: USC was tested against Oregon but the Ducks didn’t have nearly the firepower to truly go after the banged up Trojan secondary. Arizona State does and will surely try, though I can’t see them keeping up with their counterparts from Los Angeles. I think Sam Keller and Derek Hagans (who I SWORE was white, until I actually watched him play against LSU) will have big days and put up a bunch of points. Unfortunately, I also think the Sun Devil offense will turn it over 2-3 times. That’s the difference in the game.

Notre Dame @ Purdue: Purdue’s defense is supposed to be great. I know it’s nothing more than my own personal bias here, but I have a lot of trouble thinking about a Joe Tiller coached team playing anything that resembles tough, lockdown defense. On the other hand, Charlie Weis is the greatest human being who ever lived. Not to mention the inventor of the forward pass. I think it’s pretty clear to see who has the upper hand in this matchup.

Texas @ Missouri: If nothing else this game will provide viewers with the chance to see two of the most electrifying players (with the ball in their hands) in the country in action. Texas is very a talented and balanced team and should (should) beat Missouri by a comfortable margin. Beware of the look ahead factor here as Texas plays Oklahoma next week. The Red River Rivalry defines Texas' season every year and you can bet that the Longhorn players and coaches are dying to get a little payback for all the heartache that Bob Stoops and Co. have dished out over the last six years or so. If Texas isn’t focused early then this game could be in doubt until the very end.

Florida @ Alabama: Forget what everyone else is saying, and listen to me…this is undoubtedly the game of the week. Not only is this the matchup featuring the two most highly rated opponents, but it is also the biggest (non-Iron Bowl) game in Bryant-Denny Stadium in almost ten years. You just know all those hillbillies in Tuscaloosa will be primed and ready come 3:30.

If Bama wins this game then they have a real claim to legitimacy (for the first time in about 5 years) and a jumpstart towards an SEC West Championship. I circled this game in the middle of the summer as a potential disaster for the Gators and that was before we knew that Alabama would be this good. Florida traditionally struggles on the road against SEC West opponents (regardless of how good they are) and only one person on this team or coaching staff (Charlie Strong) has ever been involved in a game at Alabama. Maybe it's just me, but I think that’s a bad combination.

These teams feature the two most highly rated defenses in the SEC. However, I think it’s the offenses that will make the difference in this game. If Florida can get a run game going then I think that will set up Chris Leak and his receivers for some big plays downfield. If not, Leak will be looking at a steady stream of Crimson Tide blitzes throughout the afternoon and will most likely be running for his life. Alabama, on the other hand, have a mature senior leader at QB in Brodie Croyle who should be the best QB that Florida faces all season. If the highly touted Gator secondary can confuse Croyle and Bama’s young receivers then they’ll make the Tide a one dimensional team on offense. If that happens, I like Florida’s chances to win going away. If not, then I’ll say that Florida wins in a squeaker. I’d sure be a lot more confident if this game was being played in the Swamp.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Let's get Happy!

Right now, the woman who is teaching the spinning class in my facility is playing the song from "Happy Gilmore". You know, the more technoish song that starts playing after Gilmore finds his happy place at the the putt-putt course (Happy Land, I believe). It wouldn't be so bad if the spinning room didn't back right up to my office. God...can this place ruin everything I love or what?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Exaclty when am I too old for this sort of thing?

Because there wasn't anything that I felt compelled to write about today and because I'm also a huge dork, I've decided that today's post is going to cover what was possibly the greatest, as well as most tumultuous season of video game football in my illustrious career.

Each year I eagerly anticipate the release of EA Sports' NCAA Football. I thoroughly enjoy the Madden series, but my unabashed love for all things related to the University of Florida make this the game which I choose to use for the colossal waste of time and brainpower that is the "Dynasty" mode (or Franchise if you play Madden). I've been doing this for years and have won a number of National titles, even as the Gators slipped from college football's upper echelon. Yes, I am an amazing coach, thanks for noticing. So you can imagine my excitement this summer as I anticipated a video version of a powerhouse Gator team that I would lead to Pasadena and a National Title. I normally start my season up the day I buy this game. However, last year I had my buddy John use his prodigous video game skills to download each and every player's name (in the entire game) to my Playstation. For example, instead of the computer screen showing "QB #12" on my screen it now came up "Chris Leak". After a year of gaming with this sort of technological advance I could hardly go back to the stone ages. As a result, I didn't get moving on my season until I was able to figure out how to do this on my own. Why didn't I just get John to do it again for me? Well, because John is a tree hugger and he lives in Montana now with his gay lover Joe McGrail. John offered to do it for me if I sent him my memory card but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay the $75 shipping charge just because one of my friends (I'm using this term liberally) decided to move to Siberia. Despite the challenges I got started on my season in mid-September.

Right off the bat there was trouble for the Gator Nation. Before the season opener, DeShawn Wynn cheated on a test and the University recommended that I suspend him for 3 games. I listened to my administration and, with an eye towards Tennessee in Week 3, decided to suspend DeShawn for 2 games. I might be a discplinarian, but I'm not stupid. Predictably, the Gators blew through both Wyoming and La. Tech with no problems. Wynn's backup, Skyler Thornton, took advantage of his opportunity by rushing for over 200 yards in each game.

The Gators came in to Week 3 undefeated and I had DeShawn Wynn back in the lineup. The game was tight early on but eventually Florida pulled away behind a 3 interception effort from the defense as well as 253 yards rushing from Wynn. Wynn was so impressive that he even garnered NCAA Player of the Week honors for his efforts against the Vols.

Sadly, DeShawn's time in the spotlight would be short lived. He came out the very next week against Kentucky and fumbled the ball on two of his first four carries. The game was never in doubt but I preach ball security. After his second fumble I benched Wynn and brought Thronton back in. Skyler was having a great game as the Gators were cruising midway through the third stanza. Late in the third quarter, I sent my first team offense out for one final drive. The offense proceeded to steadily move down the field and ended up on the Kentucky 18 with just 8 seconds left in the third. In an attempt to get Chris Leak one more TD before yanking him and the rest of my starters for the fourth quarter, I called an inside wheel route for Chad Jackson. Mistake...Big Mistake. As Leak dropped back there was a heavy blitz coming but he still managed to buy enough time to get a pass off to the end zone. The pass fell incomplete. The camera then shifted back to the 23 (or so) yard line where my field general was writhing in pain. I immediately began to question my playcalling, same as I would've had something like this happened in real life. I just hoped his injury wasn't serious. My hopes quickly crashed when I learned that Chris Leak was out for the season with a broken leg. The Gators would go on to a lopsided victory against Kentucky but there would be no celebration afterwards, just alot of worry about my QB situation.

The next week brought a home game against Mississippi State. They came into the game undefeated and ready to welcome my new starter, Gavin Dickey, to the SEC. Surprisingly, it wasn't Dickey who MSU gave fits to on this day. It was my #1 ranked defense. This previously dominant unit gave up a ton of yards both on the ground and through the air, even allowing a last second TD as the Gators fell 49-46. A loss is never a good thing, especially in the SEC. However, I took encouragement from Dickey's performance as it was evidence that he could handle the pressures of leading a team in the most tense of moments.

As the year went on, the Gator offense continued to be a force of nature and the defense returned to it's previously dominant self. Even the special teams got into the act as Vernell Brown took back two punts for TDs in a win against #7 ranked LSU. Dickey was remarkably efficient, throwing for 24 TDs while only tossing 4 picks all year. His main target was none other than Chad Jackson who ended up with something along the lines of 50 catches, 1500 yards and 21 TDS. Needless to say, he was a top Heisman candidate. Skyler Thornton also managed to make the Gator faithful forget about their former #1 tailback as he rushed for over 1600 yards and 18 TDs while also garnering an invite to the Heisman ceremonies in New York.

The University of Florida would go undefeated the rest of the regular season. They then met the LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship and walked away with a comfortable victory and a spot in the National Championship game against (heavily) favored USC. USC was led by Matt Leinart (of course). Leinart's main competition for the Heisman was Chad Jackson, though most (meaning: me) thought that Jackson didn't have a chance. As it turns out, in some of the closest voting of all time, Jackson surprised everyone by walking away with the Heisman. A frustrated and surprised Leinart declared, "We'll see whose the best player in the country in Pasadena." (note: that quote is totally fictional)

That's exaclty where the season's final game found us. The Rose Bowl was rocking, filled with Maroon and Gold clad supporters awaiting the coronation of their beloved Trojans. They would soon find out that the Gators had different plans. Behind a stifling defense the Gators jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead. The second half was following a similar path midway through the third quarter when suddenly Gavin Dickey remembered he was a second string QB. After only throwing three ints all season, Dickey short circuited and threw picks on three of the next four possessions. After it was all said and done, USC was sitting on a 24-17 lead with just over four minutes to play. Florida's season had fallen apart before it's very eyes, or so it seemed. Dickey stepped back on the field and confidently led the Gators down the field while relying heavily on Heisman winner Chad Jackson. It was now 24-24 with a little over two minutes left. Southpaw QB Matt Leinart led his troops back out for what many figured would be the game winning drive. Yet, unlike the rest of the second half the Gator defense stood tall and forced the Trojans into a three and out. After a fair catch on the ensuing punt the Gators were left with just under a minute to go and 75 yards of turf between them and a second ever National Title. With none of the hesistation that plagued him for much of the second half Dickey found Jackson on two of his first four attempts. Finally with the ball just outside the 20, Dickey dropped back and found Jackson in the end zone with 15 seconds left. Gators 31- USC 24. That's exaclty how it would end. Chad Jackson further proved his case as the best player in the land with 11 catches for over 200 yards and 3 TDs. I could be wrong but I swear I saw him point at the video game version of Leinart and then give him the throat slash. Either way, the Gators won in what my Playstation told me was the #2 Greatest Game that I've ever been a part of.

Of course, their is no rest if you aspire to true greatness so I dove right into my offseason. I soon found out that Chris Leak would be ready to go for the upcoming season and that Skyler Thornton had decided to stay for his senior season. In light of losing Chad Jackson to the the NFL Draft, this was great news. Though it did raise a series of tough questions that would plague the University of Florida for the entire grueling off-season. Questions such as:

-Can you bench a QB who won you a National Title? What about if your former starter is clearly the better of the two QBs?

-Can the Gators find the right combination of players to replace a senior laden offensive line that was the best in the country?

- Can Skyler Thornton hold off a hungry and more talented DeShawn Wynn in what will be the final season for each of them?

-Will my girlfriend finally realize what a loser I am and break up with me after she reads this?

Only time will tell...only time will tell.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's about that time....

Ah, the fall. There’s nothing quite like it, even in Florida. There is just something that I’ve always loved about this time of year and it has absolutely zero to do with leaves changing colors or putting on sweaters or any of that other crap that you’d find in the pages of a J. Peterman catalog.

When I was young, I loved the fall because the thermometer finally found the time to dip below 90 degrees and the weather was perfect for any number of sports that weren’t completely feasible during the summer months. As an adult, I enjoy the fall for a number of reasons, most notably (a) all those rat bastard kids that mock me all summer as they wander aimlessly to and fro are locked back up in their cages and (b) it is the greatest time of the year for a full scale sports overdose.

We’re still a week away from the MLB playoffs but there is certainly enough intrigue left in this season to hold me over until the Cardinals get moving towards the pennant and (hopefully) a World Series title. Of course one thing that none of us has to wait on is weekends full of football. Don’t your weekends seem eminently more enjoyable these days? There’s no wondering what you’ll do all day on Saturday. No making up excuses for why you can’t go to the farmer’s market on Sunday with your girlfriend. You can pretty much sum up each of the next 12-15 weekends with one word: Football. Or even better, two words: Football, Drinking.

That’s the way my weekends have been playing out during September and I see no reason why the good times shouldn’t continue. As I said yesterday, I had a few things that I wanted to discuss regarding the weekend that was, so away we go:

- I wanted to write about this last Friday. Why is it that the Patriots don’t get a mulligan? Is it because they’ve been so good that nobody knows how to react when they actually lose one? Do people really expect them to go undefeated? I mean, they haven’t yet and they’ve still managed to win three of the last four Super Bowls. Sure, they looked awful but it was only Week 2. When the Eagles lost on Monday night every writer/talking head universally agreed that they were still the best team in the NFC. So, how are the Pats any different? I know that the AFC is much better than the NFC but have any of these supposed powerhouses in the AFC beat the Pats when it matters over the last four years? No. Until this happens, the Pats should be the favorite to win it all, period.

- I have a good friend who is a die-hard Bengals fan. He’s even gone up to Cincy each of the past few years to watch his team. As somebody who suffered through the lean years with the Bucs, I admire this sort of dedication. There’s something to be said for consistently rooting for a team that hasn’t EVER been successful during your time as a true football fan. This young man called me on Sunday as the Bengals were finishing up and excitedly exclaimed, “We’re for real!!”. Now I didn’t want to rain on his parade or anything, but I’m not quite sold just yet. The Bengals haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row of opponents thus far. Carson Palmer looks great right now and both Chad and Rudi Johnson are proven entities at this point in their careers. What isn’t proven in any way is that defense. Yeah, I know that they’ve had two consecutive 5 int. performances but those have come against the NEW Daunte Culpepper and, of course, everybody’s favorite rookie Kyle Orton. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t take this as a sign of a dominant defense. Even Marvin Lewis has come off as increasingly shaky over the last few years. I’m not disputing that he’s done a great job of changing the culture in Cincy, he absolutely has. I’m just not 100% sold that he is a good enough game coach to take this team to the next level. Tony Dungy changed the culture in Tampa Bay. You know what that got him? Fired. If the Bengals can keep this thing rolling and be looking at a 6-2 record at the season’s midway point, then I’ll hitch up to the Queen City bandwagon. Until then, it will just be me Takeo Spikes and Corey Dillon hanging out over by the pool cracking jokes about Cris Colinswrth’s shoulders.

- Have you heard that the Tampa Bay Bucs are 3-0? Of course you have, it was the blurb you heard before the media outlet you were watching/listening to went into a thirty minute dissertation about the Packers being 0-3 and what a shame it was to have to see Brett Favre go through something like this. As an aside, why do we always have to feel sorry for Brett Favre? It’s like the man is the world’s first autistic QB or something. Jesus, he’s a multi-millionaire with a hot wife who has never worked a day in his life, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m saving my tears for somebody else.

Anyway, the Bucs are undefeated and the #1 reason is none other than Carnell “Brian Griese better start calling me Cadillac” Williams. The kid is a beast. He has transformed the Bucs into an old style smash mouth football team within a matter of three weeks. Nobody would’ve guessed this could happen so quickly and definitely not with this level of success. Here’s my concern: John Gruden is going to wear this guy out before we reach week 10. Williams is 5’11” 205 and he is averaging over 27 carries a game. If the Bucs can’t find a way to get their offense going without running this guy 30-40 times a game then they are asking for him to fall apart (and their season with it) before we get to January. He was already banged up (sprained foot) heading into Sunday’s action, and he carried the ball 37 times, 37! I am not asking the Bucs to abandon the horse that they rode to a 3-0 start. Just pleading with the folks over at One Buc Place to consider the long term of future of the franchise and their new franchise player.

- I was going to bash Chad Pennington for his “water pistol” as Cris Carter referred to it on last week’s “Inside the NFL”. Yet, in light of the news that he has a torn rotator cuff and will miss the season I’ve decided to give the guy a break. He never had a great arm to begin with and had already spent most of this season looking like some rag armed hybrid of Shane Matthews and Danny Weurffel. Every throw he made had a pronounced loop to it and you just knew that the Jets’ Super Bowl hopes were going the way of the phonograph. Now, however, the Jets may as well go ahead and start playing for the #1 pick. They don’t have even an outside shot at the playoffs and Pennington’s career is in serious jeopardy. Frankly, I’d be surprised if he were ever a starting QB in the NFL again. It’s not often that I feel bad for a guy who makes millions of dollars but it’s quite sad to see a guy get cut down in what should’ve been the prime of his career.

- Does anybody think that Rick Pitino sat at dinner on Sunday night with a big bottle of vino and toasted Bobby Petrino and his boys’ monumental failure on Saturday night? Don’t you think all of this talk about Louisville being a football powerhouse just months after Pitino directed the Cards to their first Final Four in twenty years irked him a bit? With an ego like Pitino’s, you’d better believe it did. Now, I’m not saying that I think Rick was rooting against his own school on Saturday evening. However, I do think that he took some measure of satisfaction from the hot new coach who he shares office space with getting knocked down a few pegs.

I didn’t watch anything other than highlights of this game so I can’t really say anything other than the obvious:

(1) Louisville didn’t come ready to play. Teams that are used to success can often turn on the switch at some point in the game after they realize that they’re in a dogfight. Having never been in this position before (i.e. the hunted) the Cards began to panic once they realized that they were in for a full 60 minutes.
(2) USF was in no way intimidated by Louisville. Most of the guys at USF played with or against some of the top players in the country in high school (this IS Florida) so the thought of Louisville coming to town didn’t strike one ounce of fear in the hearts of the Bulls.
(3) USF is just as athletic as Louisville. Louisville is more athletic than most of the teams they face (especially in their old conference) but because of where they’re located, this doesn’t apply to USF. Louisville is definitely a more skilled outfit than the Bulls but they won’t run them off the field based on athleticism alone. When Louisville came in unprepared on Saturday night, they lost their one major edge over USF and, consequently, they lost the game.

- The Giants got their asses kicked on Sunday night. You can’t blame Eli Manning for that though. Manning looked like the real deal on Sunday. He made all the throws. He moved around in the pocket without abandoning the play (something Ben Roethlisberger could stand a little more of). He kept the Giants in the ballgame for a half even though their defense looked like the University of Kentucky out there for a good portion of the evening. I was surprised with how complete a QB the youngest Manning looked to be. Not that I didn’t think Manning would be a good to great NFL QB, I just didn’t think it would start happening so quickly. I figured he was at least another half season away from a performance like that against a legitimate playoff contender. It’s no secret that I don’t have any love for the Manning family but I can’t help but admire the tremendous strides that this guy’s made in a little over a year.

- The highlight of my weekend was surely the first half performance of the #5 ranked Florida Gators. At one point I called my old college roommate just so I had somebody else to soak it all in with. We sat on the phone as Chris Leak drove the Gators to their fifth touchdown of the half, marveling at how fluid the offense looked. Mind you, we were both keenly aware that this was Kentucky we were facing. It’s just that we hadn’t seen a Gator team take it to Kentucky (or anyone) like this in at least four years. This was a throwback performance. The kind of game that happened so often during the Steve Spurrier Era and has been so conspicuous by its absence since. These were the games that we would leave at halftime and head to The Swamp (Bar/Restaurant) for beers and to take in the second half (stress free) as we hit on every sorority girl in sight (to no avail). Of course, the second half showed that the Gators have a lot of issues with their depth and have no REAL backup QB of consequence. No matter, for the first time in years the Gator offense looked unstoppable through the air while the defense continued to look as dominant as any Gator unit on that side of the ball has looked in quite some time. Next up: Bama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

- As you can probably tell I’m limping to the finish like that British guy who tore his hamstring in the 200 of the ’92 Olympics. Like him, I’ll tough this thing out to it’s bitter conclusion (sans the help from my Dad). The final topic on the agenda is none other than last night’s classic SEC battle. It sure didn’t look like a classic when LSU took a 21-0 lead into halftime. Tennessee came out to start the second half with noodle-armed Rick Clausen taking over for Erik Ainge. Clausen may have a noodle for an arm, but at least that arm doesn’t try and throw softball pitches out of the back of his own endzone. The second half ended up coming down to a couple of factors. First and foremost among them being that UT finally slowed down LSU’s rushing attack, thereby forcing JaMarcus Russell to beat them. Good strategy. Russell is a physical marvel (did you see him throw the ball 75 yards…in the air?) but he is a long way from being a competent QB. That should be the blueprint for beating the Tigers until proven otherwise. Force Russell to beat you, then do it again, and again…then, and only then should you begin to stop putting 8 or 9 guys in the box on every play. Finally, and maybe more importantly, LSU wore down. Between all the emotion that they showed throughout the first half and the amount of conditioning that these guys missed out on in the last month or so, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Well, it happened among the 95 degree heat and humidity of Baton Rouge. It sure didn’t take Les Miles long to feel the hot seat at his new job. Get used to it Les, you ain’t in Stillwater anymore.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A case of the Mondays...

Another Monday has come and gone without me being able to tear myself away from my work long enough to write any sort of weekend wrap up. It's really too bad because I have alot of different things that I'd like to tackle from this weekend. In the interest of getting to that stuff, I'm going to hold off until tomorrow and try and get to a weekend wrapup of sorts (most likely in bullet form) tomorrow morning/early afternoon. Some of the items on the docket for tomorrow are:

-The exaggerated demise of the Patriots
- The Bengals bandwagon
- Yesterday's exciting finishes
-The usage (or over usage) of one Cadillac Williams
-Chad Pennington's Danny Wuerffel impression
- Louisville falling flat on their collective face
-Tonight's LSU-Tennessee game
-Eli Manning's coming out party (ngs)

...and of course the Florida Gators making me feel like I was 21 years old all over again (for a half at least).

Try not to keep yourself awake all night waiting for me. You'll probably end up severely disappointed

Friday, September 23, 2005

Is a Hawkeye a poisonous nut too?

So it's 6 PM on a Friday night, can you guess where I am? If you said "at work" then you are either clairvoyant or you spend WAY too much time reading this blog and really need to find some more productive ways to spend your life. I suggest recreational use of numerous drugs, but that's just one man's opinion.

I'd like to complain loud and long about why there is no way that I should be the person closing on a Friday (since I'm the department head and all) but since I have only worked two full days all week (tonight being one of them) and am also off for the weekend it's tough for me to muster up too much piss and vinegar of my current predicament.

Tommorrow's slate of games was weakened a bit when it was announced that the LSU-Tennessee game (the weekend's margquee matchup, in my humble opinion) was moved to Monday night. What does this mean? Not a whole lot other than I'll be able to break out the two TV football watching system for the second consecutive Monday night. Hopefully this Monday will give us a little more when it comes to consistent action. The Cowboys-Redskins finished up with alot of drama but prior to that we sports fans were stuck with two terribly boring games. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Really, I'm not. I would certainly rather watch two boring NFL games than "Lost" or whatever else these networks show during the week. As it stands now there are four (non-Gator)games which I'm most keenly interested in.

In case you don't know, the Gators will be traveling to Lexington where they haven't lost in like, 200 years to take on the sinking ship that is Rich Brooks' Wildcats. These schmoes are 1-2 and that one win was a narrow escape against Idaho State. This should be a game where the Gators can work on alot of the things that they need to improve on if they have any hope of going to Atlanta in December. Though you never quite know where the look ahead factor will rear it's ugly head in College Football. As further proof of this, Florida almost (read: should've) lost this game two years ago and Louisville damn near lost to this same Wildcat team to open the season. The way that Urban Meyer prepares his team for this game will tell you an awful lot about his ability to motivate his guys, no matter the circumstances.

Meechigan @ Wisconsin: Has any fan whose team wasn't involved in the game ever watched an entire Wisconsin game (the whole game) and not been genuinely bored for at least one significant stretch? I say no. There is just nothing exciting about watching this team plod up and down the field. Barry Alvarez has done a fine job of building a program and should be commended for it, but there is just no way of getting around the lack of aesthetic beauty associated with Wisconsin Football. Oh yeah, if you hadn't heard Chad Henne really blows this year. I'll go with Wisconsin to win as Brian Calhoun gets 65 carries and powers the Badgers to a victory over a still overrated bunch of Wolverines.

Ga. Tech @ Va. Tech: OOOH! The fabled Battle of the Institutes of Technology. What's the over under for the number of players (excluding kickers and punters) who actually major in some sort of engineering in this game? 6? 8? Just wondering. Georgia Tech looks much improved this year since Chan Gailey finally decided to inform Reggie Ball that they are keeping score in college football these days. I could be wrong here (doubt it) but I can't see the Ramblin' Wreck coming out of Blacksburg with a W. The Hokies are the superior or equal to Ga. Tech in every phase of the game and they have a tremendous homefield advantage as well.

USC @ Oregon: Alot of people are picking this as the upset special of the weekend. I am NOT one of those people. This is the same Oregon team that gave up 21 points to Houston (Cougars not Texans) in the season's first 8 minutes right? Ok, I was just making sure I hadn't slipped into a coma or something and missed an entire year of football. Even if USC were to take this game extremely lightly, I still can't see them winning by less than three touchdowns. I know this really chaps alot of people's asses but the PAC-10 just isn't that good folks. I know, I know...Autzen Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in America. Right. These guys from USC who played at Jordan-Hare two years ago and in D.C. versus Va. Tech last year are going to be all kinds of rattled playing in a stadium that barley holds 50,000 stoned, Birkenstock wearing, tree huggers. If Oregon is still in this game midway through the third quarter, I will celebrate by doing a bong hit (consecutively) for every point away from a tie score we are. What does this mean? If Oregon is down 3 then I'll be thoroughly enjoying Keith Jackson's ramblings. If Oregon is down 9, then I'll be asleep by 6:30. Stay tuned.

Iowa @ Ohio State (Game of the Day): Iowa got caught looking ahead to this matchup two weeks ago when they went into Ames to take on the Fighting Eustachys and ended up getting their hats handed to them. Of course losing QB Drew Tate in the second quarter didn't help much. Anybody who watches this game is going to see 4 to 5 NFL first rounders at the linebacker position alone. We know all about the Ohio State LBs but Iowa's Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge may be better pro prospects than any of the LBs that Tressell and Co. will be suiting up tomorrow. In a related note, of all the possible first round 'backers in this game (Greenway, Hodge, AJ Hawk, Anthony Schlegel, & Bobby Carpenter) only one isn't white. I'll give you two guesses who it is?

I'll be honest with you. After Tate, Hodge,& Greenway I don't know much about Iowa other than their coaches name and that his son is one of the O-Lineman. This reason coupled with the fact that I think the Buckeyes have more playmakers on offense leads me to say that the Buckeyes win. By how much? I don't know. How about you try doing some work for once, huh?

As for the NFL games on tap this weekend. I'll try and give some similarly lazy analysis of these games at some point tomorrow afternoon/evening. The games that I'll be touching on will be as follows: Steelers/Patriots
Jaguars/Jets...and of course The Bay of Pigs clash between the Bucs and Packers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Oh yeah...well watch this JERK!

Do you want to know what I'm going to be watching tonight? Of course you don't, but you're going to get it anyway. It's an easy decision this evening: Boise State-Bowling Green. Even though both of these teams aren't as good as they were predicted to be by all the "experts" that seem to fill up every hour of afternoon TV these days. I'm still eagerly anticipating watching this game for two reasons. (1) It's a football game on a Wednesday night. I would even watch Army-Navy if it were on a wednesday night, and I've steadfastly refused to watch that game ever since I was old enough to have the guts to steal the remote from my father's hands. (2) These two team should combine to score more points than 75% of the of the college basketball games that will air on ESPN this year. This game should do as much for fans of prolific and inventive college offenses as the old Nebraska-Oklahoma matchups did for fans of the wishbone. I can't wait. If I have to pick a winner I'd go with Bowling Green. Why? Because they won't be blown off the ball by Boise like they were against Wisconsin, I love Omar Jacobs and I know a couple of kids who went to Bowling Green. Who the hell has ever met anybody who ever went to Boise State?


When I said "remote" earlier, I meant chopstick. Let me explain. My family was not what you would call affluent in my younger years and we had an old Zenith TV with buttons (1-13) that you pushed to select your channel. As time wore on these buttons fell backwards into the TV. I know it sounds ridiculous but its true. Our solution was to use a chopstick to reach into the hole where the buttons once resided and push the button with said chopstick. Sadly, that wasn't even the most ghetto item that was in our living room at the time. I'll spare you the details but you should be able to guess that is was quite embarrassing. Of course not as embarrassing as the Xmas when I asked for Chuck Taylors and got a pair of Pro Wings. I opended them in horror to hear my father utter the immortal words, "Those are just as good, probably better."

And I actually miss my childhood.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Does Joe Gibbs make hookers call him "Coach" too?

In case you hadn't heard, that's what Joe's grandkids call him. So good to finally ahve that question answered for me last night. I can't tell you how long that's been bothering me.

I'm glad that's over. I'm not just speaking of my unquenchable thirst for the answer to thahe afformentioned question, or even about the Florida-Tennessee matchup that I so long windedly (not a word, I know) covered in this space, but my entire weekend. Don't get me wrong, I had an unbelievable time but my body damn near shut down towards the end of the trip. By the time yesterday morning rolled around I had a full fledged sore throat. I also felt like the alcohol quantity in my body had finally surpassed the combined totals of all my other bodily fuids. If I had to spend one more day in the Bahamas I would've ended up being the guy who sleeps for an entire day while he's on vacation. Not good times. As it is, I spent all of yesterday resting and ingesting ungoldy amounts of Vitamnin C in an attempt to stave off the cold that threatened to make the rest of my week a living, breathing hell. Do you have any idea how mind numbingly annoying it is to listen to a soccer mom bitch about how horrible and tough her life is? Of course you do. Now just imagine doing this all day long, while dealing with a borderline case of strep (is that how you spell it?) throat. Thankfully for me I had the foresight to take today off of work as well. I slept until 1:30 this afternoon while continuing my all vitamin C, all the time diet. I think I may just be able to keep this under control. Then again, probably not.

As for the weekend in sports, I have to admit that I missed a great deal of it. Surprisingly, the people of the West Indies aren't all that into football. I know, I was shocked too. I was able to catch all of the Tennesse-Florida game at a Senor Frogs (ugh) in Nassau.

The game was certainly not a thing of beauty from an offensive football standpoint but it was a win so you can't complain too loudly. The biggest thing that anybody should take out of this game is that Florida is now extremely thin at a couple of very key positions. Losing Andre Caldwell for the season is huge but it may not have near the impact as the loss of Ray McDonald for 2 months or more. Florida's starting D-Line was one of the team strengths but there was lack of depth at those spots that could be described as frightening. There is a lot of talent behind McDonald but nobody has proven much to this point.

As for Caldwell, he brought another dimension to the Florida offense with his sprinter's speed, as evidenced by his 18 yard TD run on Saturday. Jemalle Cornelius is going to try and fill Caldwell's role in the offense and he certainly has as good of a chance as anybody on this team. The real problem that occurs here is the question of who will step in as the fourth (and fifth, for that matter) wideouts now that Cornelius' role has changed. The two most likely contenders are tight end Tate Casey and backup QB Gavin Dickey, though young the freshmen (David Nelson & Nyan Boateng among others) will certainly get their shots.

As for my thoughts on the actual game, I will try and keep it somewhat short. First, the offensive line needs alot of work. They are going to face three dominating fronts in the month of October (Bama (away), LSU (away), and Georgia (cocktail party)) and there is absolutely NO WAY that Florida can come through that month unscathed if the line doesn't get it's act together, and quick.

Secondly, Chris Leak does have to get better at running the option, that much is obvious. He's still not comfortable running it. That should come as no surprise since he's played in a spread passing attack since middle school. What I took away from this game regarding Leak is that he ran the offense while under an enormous amount of pressure and came up with a number of big plays at the most crucial of times (especially on the 8 minute drive in the fourth quarter). More importantly, he seemed to be willing his team to withstand the fourth quarter collpases that have haunted this program over the last three years. A HUGE game for his confidence and (hopefully, one day) his legacy as a Florida QB.

Any win agaisnt UT is a good win in my book. The thought I liked most about this game came from a poster on . The main point of his post was that we "Out Tennesseed Tennessee", meaning that we controlled the clock, played sound defense and won on special teams. Anybody who has watched even a few UF-UT matchups knows that this was a rare occurrence (at best) in this series. Meyer said he would make this a tough football team. Thus far, he's been proven right.

Here a few of my other thoughts regarding the weekend:

- If you ever get a chance to stay at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. I would highly reccommend it. I didn't stay there (I'm waaaay too poor for that) but I did hang out on the beach and in the bar there all day on Saturday. What a place.

- I only saw the highlight on NFL Primetime but, WOW was Cadillac impressive on Sunday. Some of those runs were jaw dropping, just blowing through tacklers. He runs so much harder than I ever noticed before. I watched him alot but maybe I didn't notice because I thought he should be doing that to college defenders. The way he ran agaisnt a VERY good Bills defense has me more xcited for the Bucs' future since the early years of Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp.

- Joey Harrington looks awful. He has to get out of Detroit. It will never, ever happpen for him there, if ever. By the way, how does Matt Millen still have his job?

- Speaking of never happening...the Saints will absolutely never be a consistent team with Aaron Brooks as their QB. He has got to be the most scattered brained QB I've seen consistenly start in the NFL in a decade. It's not so much his overall play as it is his mental errors. They are inexcuseable and most often crippling blows to his team's drives (and chances to win).

- The moment when I realized that I am a horrible dude: When the bill for my on-board expenses came and I saw that I'd spent $50 on internet access. Screw you Bill Simmons.

- What did I say about Daunte Culpepper? What did I say? My favorite part of this whole Vikings meltdown is that the media (for the most part) is still refusing to take back what they said about the Vikings being better without Randy Moss and his divisive personality. I can't ,or don't want, to count how may times I've heard, "You know the guy they really miss is center Matt Birk?" Or, "They're just not the same team without Scott Linehan calling the plays, he meant soo much to Daunte." I'm sure that Daunte has been affected by all of of these changes but how can these guys not see how unbelievably stupid they sound. Sure, Moss may be a reclusive, brooding dick but he's also the most dominant offensive player (from a game planning standpoint) in football. Can't you just admit you were wrong?

- If your gilrfriend ever tells you that two of her friends are going on the same cruise as you, immediately freak out (not in a roid rage way, more of a scared rabbit way) and inform her that you can't go. Hell, won't go unless you can successfully recruit one of your single guy friends to join you. Just trust me on this one.

-What Notre Dame Michigan State...(Nelson voice ) Ha Ha! Can we slow down the hype machine now? Just for a few weeks I swear.

- I hate anyone and/or thing that has ever been associated with Bobby Bowden. Yet, in the words of Wes Mantooth, "AJ Nicholson, I hate you. From the bottom of my soul I hate you...but damnit, do I respect you." Did you see his stat line for Saturday's game against BC? 19 tackles (17 solo) 2 int, TD.

-Whenever I'm in a different country (especially, shall we say, underdeveloped ones) I always feel like no matter how nice people are to me that on the inside they hate me and would love to punch me right in the face. I guess that's why I find it so funny when you see some redneck from Kentucky making smart ass comments and generally being a total asshole to everyone around him. Don't these people know that everybody hates Americans?

- Speaking of hate, I can't stand either the Cowboys or the Redskins. I don't hate either of these teams for any particular reason. I just do. That's why I usually pay little attention to their (almost always) annual Monday Night Matchup. Last night was suppossed to be no exception, but with the Giants blowing out the Saints I had little choice. For a game that was downright boring to watch for the first 55 minutes it sure made up for it in the final 5. So much so that I'm giving it it's own section.

- What a gutsy finish by Mark Brunell, that run especially. Nice to see that he still has some juice left in those legs.

- I think that Santana Moss proved you can't overthow him on the second TD.

-I also think that Roy Willimas, once again, proved how inept he is in pass coverage. Though nobody in the media will ever mention this. How does he get a free pass on being awful as a pass defender? He does still play safety, right?

- Can we stop crying for Patrick Ramsey now?

- Who said naps aren't good. I mean, does anybody really believe that Coach Joe Gibbs would've still been awake last night had he not tucked hmself in for a little "quiet time" yesterday afternoon

Friday, September 16, 2005

At least he didn't have to hear "Rocky Top" 436 times that night.

ESPN Clasic is currently airing the 1998 Florida-Tennessee game. Ugh. Florida lost in OT after Collins Cooper missed a field goal in OT. This was after 5 Florida turnovers, including a fumble on the goal line by Terry Jackson. A truly miserable game that ended up fueling Tennessee's National Title run. I would never want to remember this night if it wasn't for one thing.

One of my roomates paid another of one my roomates (there were 4 of us) his share of the phone bill in Xanax...ahh college. Anyway, the recipient of said pharmaceuticals ended taking 4 of them at once. As anyone who is familiar with Xanax will tell you, this invariably leads to passing out. He was out so cold that we shaved his head and another one of our friends punched him in the face after Copper's missed field goal (Hard, I mean really, really hard). He didn't wake up until the next morning at 8(ish), at which point he knocked on my door. I struggled out of bed and saw him standing in my doorway with a confused look on his face. I blankly looked at him and asked what he wanted. To which he replied, "Why isn't the game on TV?"

"Because it's eight in the morning." I said.

"No way. Did we win?" he replied.

"No." (closing bedroom door).

That former roomate of mine is now a pharmacist. I swear to you.

Corso Beats his Wife...

That is the exact phrase that I once saw on a sign behind the Gameday guys when they were broadcasting live from Gainesville one morning during my college years. Greatest sign ever.

As I've said before, I won't be in Gainesville tommorow. Do you know who else won't be there? The Gameday crew. That's right, the biggest conference matchup of the young season isn't getting top billing from the folks at ESPN. Instead they've decided to go to Boston for the FSU-BC showdown. Great job guys. I'm glad that we're going to get in depth coverae of this long and storied ACC rivalry instead of the annual tussle between the Vols and Gators. I guess If you've covered one Florida-Tennessee game then you've pretty mcuh seen all there is to see. I guarantee you that schmuck pencil salesman Lee Corso was behind this. Seriously, that's his other job. He's a pencil salesman for Dixon-Ticonderoga. Could I even make something that ridiculous up? Of course I could, but I'm not.

I'm out of here for a few days. I'll try and get something up on Monday night , but it's alot more likely that I'll post again on Tuesday. Unless of course I'm locked up in some Bahamian prison.

Go Gators.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

You make me want to puke Pt. 3

So I've finally reached the conclusion of my own personal football trilogy and much like "The Godfather", the third part is going to be far less impressive than the first two installments of the series (impressive being a relative term, of course). There aren't alot of other bases to cover just the special teams and the coaching of these two talented ballclubs. That's the funny thing about both of these categories, they traditionally receive far less attention than their respective counterparts. That is until something goes terribly wrong, at which point the media begins to blather incessantly about the importance of solid special teams play and sound coaching.

Special Teams: It's tough to accurately judge a special teams unit at this point in the season. As an example, during the 2001 season the Gators had the worst overall Special Teams unit that I had ever personally witnessed, as evidenced by Ingle Martin's stint as the starting punter as well as a 300 yard return day by none other than Derek Abney versus Florida at the Swamp that nearly resulted in a Gator loss to Kentucky of all schools. As bad as this unit was (believe me...they were AWFUL) the signs of this debacle didn't begin to rear it's ugly head until after the Tennessee game. Sadly, this year's version of the Gator Special teams has looked similarly unimpressive thus far. All told, Florida has kicked three kickoffs out of bounds, missed three extra points and had one semi-impressive retrun of any kind. Not good times. In games like this it is often special teams that make the difference between winning and losing. Tennessee on the other hand traditionally has fantastic special teams and I expect this year to be no different. I can't say that I know anything about this year's unit other than the Vols have yet another Colquitt kid as their starting punter. He's the younger brother of former All-American Dustin Colquitt and is said to have the same type of ability as his brother. By the way, this whole Colquitt as a punter at UT has gotten downright ridiculous. This is the fifth Colquitt (counting uncles and such) to punt at UT. It's like Fulmer is genetically engineering clones and giving them each a different first name. Have I mentioned that I hate Tennessee?

Advantage: Tennessee

Coaches: This is a bit tricky as well. We all assume that Urban Meyer is a good coach, but have any of us really watched enough of him in action to know what kind of gameday instincts he possesses? I know I haven't. That's the thing with coaching. You can be a hell of a recruiter and prepare your kids as well as anybody in the country, but if you don't have the ability to change and adapt on the fly you will end up losing the really tight games against your best opponents. For further proof see: Ron Zook, John Cooper, etc. On the other side of the coin, I have never really viewed Fat Phil as a great coach. Sure he wins alot of games but that has as much to do with the talent that he brings to Knoxville as anything else. His game plans are rarely inventive and he has never been accussed of being a great tactician on either side of the ball. If I had more personal experience watching Urban Meyer on a gameday in the big moments then I'd be much more confident in his ability to outcoach the Great Pumpkin. As it stands now, I will nervously give the nod to Mr. Meyer.

Advantage: Florida

Pick: I am going with the Gators by a touchdown in this one. I'm sure some people would look at my breakdown and wonder how I can choose the Gators even though I've given the edge to Tennessee in the categories of Offensive Line, Defensive Line, and Special teams as these are the areas where the tight games often turn.

My reasoning is this: I believe that Florida is very close to the Vols in the matchup of the lines, though Tennessee is still superior. I also believe that Florida has a decided in advantage in the secondary and wide receiver categories. The matchups in these areas as well as the increased maturation of Chris Leak will be the deciding factors in Saturday evening's much ballyhooed showdown. Unfortunately, this will be the first Florida-Tennessee game at the Swamp that I won't be attending in eight years. I won't get to feel the excitement in the air when the Gators come flying onto the field. Nor will I get to tackle a complete stranger after Chris Leak connects on a 40+ yard strike. Worst of all, I won't be able to use my full arsenal of cousin banging and dental hygene jokes on the pack of inbreds who will most assuredly make the trek from Knoxville to support their beloved Vols. Normally I would be heartbroken by such circumstances, and I am still a bit sad to know that I'll miss the first big game of the Urban Meyer era. I'll get over it I assure you. I'll get over it because I'll be watching the game from a bar in the Bahamas. As much as I love Gainesville (I went back for my Master's in order to get two more years of student tickets) it doesn't quite compare to the Carribean. God help me if there's a Tennessee fan anywhere near me come Saturday night. I'm not the kind of guy who was meant to do time in a foreign prison.

Florida 27
Tennessee 20

You make me want to puke Pt. 2

I’m ready to get right back in to the analysis of what will undoubtedly be the game of the weekend when the toothless legions from Rocky Top coming calling on Urban for his first ever SEC contest. Think about that for a second…how many high profile new head coaches have kicked off their conference coaching careers with a top ten foe who also happens to be your new school’s most hated rival? I don’t have the numbers in front of me but I’m going to say not very many, certainly not in recent times. That’s the way of the world at the University of Florida. Now onto the matchups:

UF O-Line vs. UT D-Line: The Florida Offensive line has been a weakness for the last three years, dating back to the final year of the Steve Spurrier regime. Unlike many of the problems in Gainesville these last three years, this actually wasn’t all Ron Zook’s fault. Could he and his offensive line coach have done a better job with what they were left? Certainly. Was the cupboard left somewhat bare for him in the trenches? Absolutely. The Gators finally have an O-Line that could be described as something more than competent. They return four starters and new right guard Tavares Washington has loads of (yet unrealized) potential. This is a veteran group with a couple of future pros in Center Mike Degory and Tackle Randy Hand. The biggest challenge for this group has been mastering the new blocking schemes of the Urban Meyer spread offense. They looked a little shaky in the season debut but really turned it on to the tune of 251 yards rushing last week. I know it was against La. Tech but any improvement is a positive sign going into this weekend. As for the Vols, they boast a dominating presence at D-Tackle in Senior Jesse Mahelona. The former JUCO All-American was an All-SEC pick last year and should see a steady stream of double teams come Saturday evening. The rest of Tennessee’s D-Line is experienced and extremely capable of being all conference type players as well (especially Parlys Harelson). This may be the most even matchup of the evening and could go a very long way in determining the winner on Saturday night. I think the much improved UF Line will do a good job against Tennessee’s dominating front four but will still struggle at times with the newly implemented blocking schemes.

Advantage: Tennessee

UF Running Backs vs. UT Linebackers: The Vols have a good history of stellar linebacker play. A number of them have moved onto to the NFL as early round picks over the years and this year’s crop should prove to be no different. They lost their big play guy from last year, 2nd Rd. pick Kevin Burnett, who now plays for Bill Parcells in Dallas. Ironically, he wouldn’t have even been the best Tennessee LB if Kevin Simon hadn’t gone down with a torn ACL during last year’s game against Florida. Simon is back and has played to rave reviews throughout the spring and fall. The key to Florida’s rushing attack will be to identify Simon when he lines up and get a body on him. He is their playmaker among the LBs and must be accounted for. The status of Florida’s running game is far less certain as the Gators have used a combination of four different backs through the season’s first two games. The guy who must step up on Saturday is DeShawn Wynn. He clearly has the most overall ability of the group and is a redshirt junior, so he’s experienced some big time games already in his career. After being suspended for the season opener, he responded with 121 yards rushing last week and looked to be running more aggressively between the tackles than many observers have seen since his freshman season. He’s been in and out of Meyer’s doghouse throughout the spring, summer, and fall due to a combination of poor work ethic, injuries, and questionable off the field decisions. He’s made his way back into the starting lineup and it’s his year to finally make good on the expectations that have followed him since his breakout game against Miami as a freshman. If you’re looking for one guy who’s the key for Florida’s offensive success, you’d be hard pressed to find some one more integral to that success than Mr. Wynn. Also, keep your eyes out for freshman (RS) Markus Manson who has the best breakaway speed of any of Florida’s backs and has been making a very strong push for playing time over the last three weeks.

Advantage: Push

UF Wide Receivers vs. UT Secondary: The Tennessee seconday could best be described as a work in progress. Second Team All-American Safety Jason Allen has been moved back to corner this year where he played as a freshman two years ago. Allen is a big corner at 6’2” but it remains to be seen if he can consistently keep up with Florida’s speedy wideouts on the outside. Just yesterday, the Vols moved their other corner, sophomore Jonathan Hefney, to free safety in order to sure up the back end of their defensive backfield which has struggled with recognition in practice throughout the fall. Furthermore, freshman (and former Florida commit) Dee Morley saw extensive action at strong safety against UAB and though he has still not been inserted into the starting lineup, he figures to see as much (or more) playing time on Saturday night as Meyer and the Gators will routinely throw out four and five wide receiver sets. While the Vols have some holes in their secondary, the Gators strength on offense is undoubtedly the wide receivers. Chad Jackson is a future first round pick in the making who has improved by leaps and bounds over last year. Look for him to be matched up against Allen on a regular basis come Saturday. The talent doesn’t stop there, not by a longshot. Andre Caldwell has struggled with expectations in his first two years but came on extremely strong in the fall and has the look of a receiver who is ready to become a big time playmaker. There is a precedent here, Andre’s brother Reche (San Diego Chargers) was a bit of an enigma in his first two years before the light came on during his junior year. Finally, the Gators third and fourth receivers (Dallas Baker, Jemalle Cornelius) are as talented as many teams’ starters. Cornelius is the fastest player on UF’s offense and does a great job of creating yards after the catch. Of course, we all remember that last year’s goat was Dallas Baker after he was penalized for slapping a UT defender late in the fourth quarter. Baker has made maybe the most dramatic improvement of any player since Meyer’s arrival and is going to be looked upon to use his large frame (6’4”, 220) to make some big plays in the red zone this year. After a third straight starring role in the spring game for Baker, the time has come for him to do it on the big stage. There’s certainly no bigger stage than the one he’ll be playing on Saturday evening.

Advantage: Florida

I’ll return later in the day to discuss the Special Teams units and to give my pick for Saturday night’s winner.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

You make me want to puke Pt. 1

This is simultaneously my favorite and most hated week of each Gator Football season. It's Tennessee week. There is no team that I despise with the verocity of the University of Tennessee. Sure, I can't stand Florida State and there senile old coach and Georgia annoys me on a fairly regualr basis, even Miami's fans routinely piss me off. Yet, no school combines all of these factors the way the Volunteers do. Between their crooked, morbidly obese coach, their obnoxious inbred fans and of course "good ole' Rocky Top", I can't think of one group of people that I can't stand more than those donkeys who parade around clad in that ridiculous creamsicle orange. I hope that I've made it clear how much disdain I have for all things related to the University of Tennessee (Go straight to hell Chamique Holdsclaw!!). If I haven't, feel free to give me a call and I'll give you the unabridged version of "All the things I despise about the Tennessee Volunteers." With all of that being said, there still isn't a team on Florida's schedule that can strike fear in my heart the way Fat Phil and his troops do. They've been responsible for some of the more heartbreaking losses in recent Gator history (OT 1998, December 2001 and last year's debacle). Some would even say that they've had the Gators' number recently as they've taken three of the last four games including the last two games played at the Swamp, which is exaclty where Saturday night's matchup is taking place. These two teams couldn't be more equally matched in the eyes of the AP voters so I'll take a deeper look into the battles which will determine Saturday evening's victor. This is a two parter so today I'll look at the QBs on both sides as well as the matchups between the rest of Tennessee's offense and the revamped Gator D.

QBs: Florida has an edge here as Tennessee still isn't quite sure who will be their starter for the 2005 season. Sophomore Erik Ainge was named starter after Fall practices and celebrated that by going out and shitting the bed against UAB. Shortly thereafter, Rick Clausen took over and led Tennesee to a victory in the season opener. Since Tennessee had a bye last week, we're still not certain who'll get the majority of the snaps on Saturday. I'll go with Clausen as the guy who plays in the second half due to his experience and overall heady (when compared to Ainge) play. Whoever it is, they aren't as competent a QB as Chris Leak. Now in his 3rd year as the starter in Gainesville, Leak has emerged as a leader for Urban Meyer's offense. We all know that Leak can throw the ball with the best of them. What we don't know is how effective he'll be running Meyer's spread option offense against the best D-Line in the SEC. I think that Leak will be forced to make some plays with his legs to keep Tennessee's defense honest in the early going. If he can do this, it should open up some holes for DeShawn Wynn and the rest of Florida's backs to make a big difference. Leak will be judged on one question: Can he beat the Vols (something he's never done)? He's certainly good enough this year. We'll see if he gets any help from his mates.

Advantage: Florida

UT O-Line vs. UF D-Line: Phil Fulmer says that this could be the best offensive line that he's ever had at Tennessee. That is pretty scary when you think about some of the lines that have played in Knoxville over the years. Of course, I've heard this discourse from Fat Phil before with mixed results. This year though I am inclined to believe him, as the Vols are returning four of five starters from a line that was pretty stout at the end of last year. On the other side of the ball, the Gators are returning all the starters from last year's defensive line though D-End Joe Cohen has been demoted. Another change is that former tackle Ray McDonald has been moved to the end this year. Ray was an undersized tackle to begin with and it looks as if the move to end is the perfect change for a quick guy who always seemed to wear down late in games. Replacing him on the inside is Steven Harris, a former end who continued to bulk up throughout his time in Gainesville and has now grown into a legitimate SEC D-Tackle. In my opinion, this is the best defensive line that Florida has had in the last five years, far more capable of putting pressure on the passer adn stopping the run than any of it's recent predecessors. Even with it's improvements I still have to give the edge to the Vols.

Advantage: Tennessee

UT Running Backs vs. UF Linebackers:

Tennessee has one running back who will see the bulk of the playing time, Gerald Riggs, Jr. The former Redskin's son is a big back with breakaway speed whom many are hyping as a darkhorse for the Heisman. While he has all the physical tools and put up over 1,000 yards rushing last year, I have never been completely sold on his ability to be a game changer. I believe that he's not as good as Florida's back from last year (Ciatrick Fason) and there is no debating that he's done little to distinguish himself on the biggest of stages. Could this be his breakout game? Many are targeting the thin LB corps of Florida as his victims, but I am not one of them. In sophomore Brandon Siler, the Gators have the best MLB in the SEC. An absolute terror who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Even if All-SEC LB Channing Crowder had stayed in school, Siler would be manning the middle this year due to his natural instincts and speed. In addition to Siler, the Gators have a player of their own who is due for his breakout game...OLB Earl Everett. Urban Meyer has repeatedly called him his "best football player" throughout the spring and fall practices and there is no doubting that he has all the tools neccessary to be just that. Recruited as a safety, Everett has bulked up to legit LB size without losing any of his speed. Look for Everett to be used in a number of different ways throughout Saturday's game as Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison looks to take advantage of the mismatches that Everett creates.

Advantage: Push

UT Wide Receivers vs. UF Secondary: Many Vol fans are claiming to have the best WR corps in the SEC. I do not subscribe to that opinion, though I will say that they boast the deepest group of wideouts. The Vols have 5 receivers who caught more than 20 balls last year, though none of them amassed more than 400 yards or four TDs throughout the season. I couldn't name but one of them off of the top of my head. Considering the amount of SEC football I watch in a given year, that should tell you about all you need to know about this group of receivers. If this were last year then the Florida secondary would be at a decided disadvantage in this matchup due to the strenght in numbers that Tennessee has. Thankfully, this is not last year. Gone is the worst safety in Florida history, Corey "at least he has nice hair" Bailey. Replacing him is sophomore Kyle Jackson who actually took over for Bailey during the stretch run (beginning against South Carolina) of 2004. More importantly, the Gators boast more legitimate cover guys than they have in nearly a decade. Dee Weeb is the best cover corner in the SEC. Vernell Brown is a midget (5'7" ish) but quick, strong, and extremely tough. Perhaps even more important than any of these guys is the emergence of one time super recruit Reggie Nelson. Rated by many as the best player in the state of Florida his senior year of high school, Nelson originally signed with the Gators in 2001 only to be unable to qualify. After spending two years in JUCO (the first of which he redshirted in order to maintain as much eligibility as possible) Nelson has stepped in as the Gator's nickel back this year. This is a guy who was a first team JUCO All-American at Safety last year and also happens to run a 4.3 40. Did I mention 5 star recruit Avery Atkins? Oh yeah, he's already seeing extensive action as well. To sum up, what once was an achilles heel has become the strength of the Gator defense in a little over 9 months.

Advantage : Florida.

I'll be back tommorrow with analysis of the matchup between Florida's Offense and Tennessee's Defense.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Oh, we're in the Danger Zone alright!

WOW. That was quite a weekend of football. Unfortunately I was just too busy to write anything about it. My girlfriend had her wisdom teeth pulled and was layed up in my bed for most of the weekend. I felt bad enough for her that I actually moved my second TV back into my bedroom so that she could watch something other than football in her drugged up state. I think the football gods must've been proud to see my gentlemanly side because they blessed me with two fantastic games on Saturday night.

OSU-Texas was absolutely entertaining for the duration of the game, though I'll stop short of calling it a classic due to some of the sloppiness of the respective offenses. Vince Young pulled out the victory against a hell of a Buckeye defense but he's got a long way to go before he gets my Heisman vote (theoretically). LSU-ASU was most definitely a classic. It slipped under alot of people's radars because of the media's obsession with the days two other marquee matchups (I'm not even going to speak about Chad Henne's hatchet job on the Wolverine offense. I assure you that the Notre Dame defense isn't nearly that good.) but it was as good a late Saturday night football game as you'll ever see. If you missed it you probably won't get a chance to see it again and that's too bad. If it had been either of the other games it would've gained "Instant Classic" status within hours.

Speaking of Instant Classics, tonight's matchup has that kind of potential. Even if the game isn't superb, the chance to watch Vick, T.O., McNabb, and others on this kind of stage is always enticing. I would love a Monday Night for the ages but I'll take a couple of 60+ yard plays tonight.

As I was writing this Jeremiah Trotter flipped out and decided he wasn't quite ready to start the season. As a result, he along with Atlanta's Kevin Mathis have been ejected. Sadly this has lead to a solid 15 minutes of ESPN showing and reviewing the tape of the incident like it's the goddamned Zapruder film. Which, consequently, has lead Stuart Scott to use words such as bananas, donneybrook, insane, and never before seen. Hey Patches! It's a damn pregame fight, I can remember one just last year between William Green and Joey Porter so shut your mouth and use it to lick Jordan and Tiger's balls some more.

The only thing that will come from this is that these two teams now hate each other far more than they ever did before, which should make tonight a little more fun.

Two random notes:

-ABC just used Kenny loggin's "Danger Zone" as part of their pregame montage. When I worked for a minor league baseball team last year and a player gave us an exceptionally crappy song for his intro music, our staff would always replace it with "Danger Zone". That was always good for a laugh, at least it was for me and the four/five other guys who were in on the joke.

- Has anyone else noticed how ESPN has basically admitted that Stuart "Patches" Scott's eye creeps out all of it's viewers. I'm completely serious here. Who else would be allowed to wear dark sunglasses while on the air. Can you imagine Dan Patrick trying to get this sort of thing OK'd. Of course not. Aren't we about a year or two away from Scott just wearing Ray Charles style shades while hosting another one of his horrible self-promoting gameshows? Can you tell that I hate this man more than Farrakhan hates bacon? Really? I didn't think I wa sbeing that obvious.

- The new Burger King commercial is even better than the first one. I especially like the end where Kelly Campbell hugs the King. I'm about ready to start eating Whoppers again.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fearless Predictions Pt. 2

I didn't roll out of bed until almost 11:30 this morning due to the combination of staying up for last night's game and the fact that I didn't have to be at work until 1 in the afternoon. Unfortunately for me, I WILL have to be at work until 9 this evening. Which, in case you were wondering, is exaclty the way that I like to kickoff the weekend. Whatever, at least I'm not working during tommorrow's fantastic slate of college football games or for the real beginning of the NFL season on Sunday. Can't you just feel the electricity in the air? I know that I can. As an aside, what's the over/under on that phrase being delivered by an announcer this weekend 150? 175? Yeah, I'm probably shooting a little low with that number. I'll try and write a few quick thoughts on tommorrow's mathcups at some point during the Notre Dame- Michigan matchup (or as I like to call it, "The Battle of the two most annoying fan bases in Collegiate athletics) early in the afternoon. As for the second half of my NFL predictions, this will have just have to do because, well...I have work to do.

- Kevin Jones will rush for enough yards (1300ish) that he'll get his own Eastern Motors commercial this coming off-season.

- Ciatrick Fason will be the stating tailback for the Vikings by season's end.

- Corey Simon will have a HUGE year inside for the Colts defense, which will free up Dwight Freeney to once again lead the NFL in sacks. Sadly, the Colts defense will still be soft and crappy.

- Koren Robinson will move into the starting lineup for the Vikings by mid-season (He only has to unseat Travis Taylor for Christ's sake.) Koren will celebrate this by getting so drunk that he passes out on Mike Tice's lawn one Tuesday morning shortly thereafter.

- Jason Witten will singlehandedly save unsuspecting fantasy owners all over the country as he becomes the modern day white version of Ben "Technicolor Dream" Coates. I'll admit, half the reason I added that was so I could use Berman's nickname (1 of 2) for Ben Coates. Berman's schtick gets old (for sure) but a classic is a classic.

- Monty Beisel will lose his starting linebacker job with the Pats because...he's Monty effin Beisel. How is it that nobody has talked about the Pats repalcingTedy Bruschi with an also ran linebacker who couldn't even standout on the Chiefs? The Chiefs? I know the Pats have made some great personnel moves of late but you can't just give them a free pass on everything, can you?

- Willis McGahee will have at least three 200 yard rushing games, even with the J.P. Losman Band playing behind center all year. How does he not get more pub? What a beast. He's faster than Clinton Portis and about twice his size. I'm telling you, if he had a halfway adequate QB (we're talking early Bengals Jeff Blake level here) he'd rush for 2,000+ this year.

- Tiki Barber singlehandedly kills fantasy teams all over the country by rushing for less than 4 TDs all year. He even said as much when he was on PTI a couple of weeks ago. It's probably not a good idea to draft a back who's going to get less than 10 carries inside the five all year. Of course, all of this means that Brandon Jacobs will be this year's version of the 2004 Jerome Bettis. Nor real production, good to great fantasy numbers.

- Drew Bennett will become the most prolific white receiver since...Steve Largent. I didn't want to be so hyperbolic there but can you think of any other white receiver who could seriously be described as "prolific"? I'm open to suggestions on this one.

- Charlie Frye will start at least two games for the Cleveland Browns this year, after William Green's girlfriend stabs Trent Dilfer in the bald spot. Okay, I added in that last part just to make sure you were paying attention. Plus, who doesn't love a good stabbing joke? Anyone, anyone? Bueller?

- Ashley Lelie will make the Pro Bowl. Somebody's gonna have to make all those catches in Denver. Who else is there? Ed McCaffrey is dead, Rod Smith has Alzheimer's and Darius Watts is still way too raw to be anything other than a third receiver.

Alright, I'm spent. We'll take a look at these predictions midway thru the season to see if I'm even batting above the Mendoza Line (doubtful) at that point. Until then remember to tip your waitresses, those hoes gotta eat too.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fearless Predictions Part 1

I wish I could adequately explain how effin miserable it has been around here since Monday. Hurricane Ophelia is acting exactly as you would expect from somebody with a name like that. Just hanging out and ruining everybody's time. In absolutley no hurry to leave. It's not that it has been very tough weather, just grey (dark grey) and constant rain. Sweet.

Anyway, the NFL kicks off tonight after a 3 hour pregame concert featuring 10 acts, none of which could name four players a piece off of tonight's rosters. Can't we just play football already? No? Ok, thats for clearing that up. There is one thing we can do, and that is move on to my thoughts on the upcoming NFL season as well as a few other useful pieces of my sanity that fell off at some point during this past week. Remember to always keep you legs and arms inside the blog while it's moving.

- The Vikings are not going to be as good as everybody says. They'll still win their division because every other team is below average but I'm pegging them for 10-11 wins as their offense struggles to keep pace due to a shaky receiving corps and an extremely unproven ground game. I think we'll get a real look at Culpepper this year as well. If he can continue to put up monster numbers (I don't think so) like he did with Moss then he deserves to be mentioned among the elite QBs in the league...but not until then.

- Joey Harrington will lose his starting job to Jeff Garcia, who will end up giving his job back Harrington. Leading Detroit fans to break into an impromptu chant of "Charlie Batch (ch-ch-chchch!)". Alright, maybe that last part won't happen.

- The Redskins defense will be worse than last year and even though it won't be completely his fault, this will result in finally lending credence to my assertion that Lavar Arrington is the most overrated linebacker in football. He's the Champ Bailey of linebackers...all sizzle, no steak. Yet, somehow universally regarded as one of the elite guys at their respective positions.

- Kerry Collins will make the Pro Bowl and be called a punk (or some variation on that theme) by Randy Moss. Not very far out on the limb on that one, I know.

- Bananas are kind of a ripoff, and this is coming from a guy who eats 2 or 3 a week. The problem is they come in bunches of 5-6. We all know that Bananas don't stay good for a week and I don't know anybody who regulary eats 6 within the course of a week.

- Dom Capers will be fired before season's end.

- Kyle Orton is linked to some former playboy floozie in the tabloids.

- Rudi Johnson will lead the league in rushing.

- The Steelers will go 9-7. They just seem like a team who had everything go right for them last year. Between Big Ben pissing off vets in the lockeroom and the passing game inevitably falling off due to Burress' absence (Ward is better but Burress stretched the field and was great bail out heave for Roethlisberger). I can't see this team scoring enough points to win double digit games. Their defense is stellar but it's got enough holes that they'll struggle some in that division.

- I ordered two pairs of shoes tonight (skate/casual) off of the Nothing remarkable there. What is remarkable is the city in which this company is located. None other than San Dimas, CA. If you don't understand the significance of this than I'd like to ask you to go ahead and end your life. Seriously.

- Cadillac Williams will be the Offensive Rookie of the Year...though I have to admit that I may be a little biased on this one. Do you realize it's been 25 years since the Bucs have had a runnng back who could be described as dominant? The year was 1979 (duh) and Ricky Bell was the running back. More people know of him for dying from some weird disease two years later than anything else. Is it really too much to ask for Carnell to be a beast?

I was expecting to go a little longer with this first edition but the siren song of Jagermeister, Beer, and pope election has gotten the best of me. I'll waste some company time and write some more tommorrow.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

It's 8:15 PM and I'm STILL multi tasking...

That's right...Not only am I providing witty and insightful prose for all the world to read, but I'm also doing laundry. Alright, maybe I embellished the first one a bit, but I'm definitely doing laundry.

I just arrived home from work/working out and I'm about to settle in for a night chock full of tennis. No really, there's not even a joke here. Tonight's James Blake vs. Andre Agassi match should be very entertaining as it features not only the only two remaining American men but also the (easily) most supportable players in the tournament.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend to be a tennis aficionado because I'm about as far from that as anybody who ever actually watches tennis could be. I am, however, a fan of high level athletic competitions as well as a sucker for the underdog or sentimental story. In one way or another, both of these guys fill each of the afforementioned roles. It's not often that I'll make a point to sit down and watch a tennis match that isn't a Grand Slam Final but tonight is the definitely the exception to the rule. I've got my Bud Collins bowtie on and, damnit...I'm ready for some Tennis.

In a completely unrelated note, I love playing the game of comparing some new young can't miss athlete to a former highly touted prospect. More often than not, the comparisions that I draw are extremely unflattering for the present day prospect. At the same time I am often much closer to the truth than the many scribes and talking heads who make every young guy with the ability to run without tripping over his own feet the next coming of Jeezy Chreezy himself. (sorry about the Mr. Show reference...I couldn't help myself) So without further ado, I present the first edition of Random Athlete Version 2.0:

Marvin Williams: Anybody who has read this space with any regularity knows that I am not a believer in young Mr. Williams. As I was sitting on my couch a couple days back it suddenly hit me that I knew exaclty who Marvin reminded me of. None other than former 3rd pick Billy Owens. Think about it for a second, they both came from loaded college teams where they didn't have to carry the load in any way. Yet, they were both regarded as the best prospect on the team despite the presence of numerous other first rounders (Seikaly, Douglas, & Coleman or Felton, McCants, & May). Both were players with great athletic skills who didn't really have a postion nailed down as the entered the NBA. Both were lauded as can't miss prospects despite some glaring holes in their respective games. Finally, both went to traditionally awful teams that were going to throw them into action from the word go. Is it really that impossible to imagine Marvin Williams in about nine years being traded to his seventh team for a first round pick and cash considerations? Don't say you weren't warned Hawks fans.

Ronnie Brown: Let me preface this by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Brown. I personally witnessed his breakout game at Auburn. Brown came off the bench as a sophomore against Florida after Cadillac Williams had broken his leg and almost single handedly beat a superior UF team while combining for over 200 yards rushing and receiving. He was so amazinng that I just started calling him Walter Payton towards the end of the night.

Okay, now that I've go that out of the way...I was sitting with a couple of my friends who are Dolphins fans the other day when I immediately realized the perfect way to torture them. I declared that Ronie Brown was the 2004 version of Terry Kirby. Originally, it was just a joke but there are some eery similarities in play here. Both are huge tailbacks that have (or had) tremendous speed. Both are extremly versatile, able to run, block, and catch out of the backfield with equal amounts of aplomb. Both were drafted by the Dolphins as they were searching for that elusive franchise tailback. While Kirby never achieved the monumental success that many had him pegged for, he did have a very solid career, even doing an admirable job as a kick returner late in his career with the Raiders. Who here doesn't think that Ronnie Brown could end up returning kicks and being a third down back for somebody other than the 'Phins late in his career? The proverbial kiss of death for Kirby was that he didn't have pure running skills to be true NFL tailback. Can anyone say without a shadow of a doubt that Brown does? Not honestly they can't, if only because he didn't get enough carries as the #1 tailback these last two years. In all honestly, I think that Brown will be better than Kirby, much better but you have to admit that there are some striking similiarities between these two.

Finally, I haven't been paying a great deal of attention to the match but Lindsay Davenport is already down a set to Russian Girl Dementieva...whatever. Don't even act like you know her name off the top of your head. .

He was a Manatee, or a Sea Cow if you will?

As I was watching Baseball Tonight just now, I discovered that the Nationals starting pitcher this evening was Darrel Rasner. This probably doesn't mean much to anybody and frankly, it shouldn't. The only reason it means anything to me is that he was the #2 starter for the Single A Team that I used to work for last year. The fact that he started for the Nationals while they are still in the Wild Card race (somewhat) speaks volumes for how depleted the Nationals' farm system is. Rasner isn't a bad pitcher, he may even be a fourth starter in a few years. The problem is that he was pitching in the Florida State League last July. Frank Robinson doesn't get half the credit he deserves for what he's done with that team over the last few years.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

187 on a muthafuckin, um...sideline reporter?

As I was perusing the message boards of last week when I came across a post about an article on former ESPn College Football reporter Adrian Karsten. He had been with the network for quite awhile and almost always did the Saturday night broadcasts. Not that this is any sort of news. Anybody who watches college football on a semi-regular baisi would remember the guy. The basic point of the article was that Karsten had been found guilty of tax evasion and was about to go to prison for nearly a year. My immediate reaction was, "Damn that sucks."

My reaction to this article was a little more severe. I only have one question...Why couldn't it have been Lee Corso.

Broken Prmoises 1.0

I know that I only gave a half of a wrapup on the weekends events on Sunday, and promised to recap the rest of the weekend's action in a later post. Well, this is said later post and I've decided that I just don't have the time to give a blow-by-blow of all the events that occurred from Saturday evening on. In place of a comprehensive rundown of my ever more pathetic existence, I will provide some brief comments and/or observation from the weekend that was...enjoy:

- The America Express commercial featuring Andy Roddick's "Mojo" was just about the most obvious example of utter panic that I've ever seen from a company whose star endorser shit the bed in an oh-so public way. I give the guys and gals over at AmEx some credit for trying to spin something, anything positive out of Roddick's rusty coat hanger performance in the first round of the U.S. Open, but the commercail comes off as exaclty what it is...Desperation. I mean, can't you just see a group of young execs sitting around a table for an emergency brainstorming session last Wednesday that ultimately birthed this pile of crap?

-On the other side of the commercial coin, the Burger King commercial where the King picks off Drew Bledsoe (Why not? Everyone else has.) and runs it back for a touchdown had me doubled over in hysterics earlier this week. It also made me awfully hungry for some Chicken Fries (?), but that has alot more to do with my own personal habits than any sort of marketing genius at work.

- In all the coverage of the Notre Dame-Pitt game this past week the media missed out on the one key element of this matchup...Wanny. C'mon now, is anybody really surprised that a Wannstedt led squad came out sloppy and uninspired? Have these people watched the NFL at any point in the past ten years? As my buddy Vitas stated when the ABC crew was showing all of Wannstedt's career stops, "They should just put huge flames around both Chicago and Miami." Mind you, I'm not saying that Dave and his crooked mustache are going to do the same thing to Pitt that he did to the Bears and 'Phins, but it's a hell of alot more likely than him turning the Panthers into USC East.

- Does Chuck Amato play poker in the lockerroom before and after N.C. State games? Is there any other rational explanation for him wearing his sunglasses at all times. For Christ's sake, he even took them off just as the game was decided on Sunday night.

- Boise State couldn't have looked more outclassed against Georgia. Two factors really conspired against the Broncos here. (1) SEC speed. I realize that these same players at Boise State went up against a quality Louisville team just last season and more than held their own, but let's be clear on one thing. Louisville is a nice team with a great offensive system who can't hold a candle to the average amount of speed on your typical upper echelon SEC team. It was painfully obvious from the kickoff that Boise (most notably Jared Zabransky) hadn't ever seen a defense with the ability to swarm to the ball like Georgia. Georgia may have lost more defensive playmakers than any team in the country this past year (Pollack, Davis and the terribly underrated Odell Thuramn), but their is a reason that all of their backups were High School All-Americans. The reason of course being, they're really good. (2) Reverse Upset Factor: Georgia's players had to sit in Athens all summer hearing guys like Jay Mariotti and others of his ilk predict a Boise State victory, to the point where nobody would've admitted to being even the least bit surprised by a Boise State victory. One of the keys to a mid-major upset of a good major conference team is the surprise factor. This didn't apply to Georgia because, well they had to hear about how great Boise State was all summer. Georgia players had been looking forward to this game since June and certainly weren't going to look past the Broncos towards a less talented South Carolina team. Was Boise State as bad as they showed? Almost certainly not. Were they as good as so many talking heads had predicted? Obviously not.

- I must admit to not watching the Georgia game as closely as most after about the first ten minutes, but I had a very good reason...Urban Meyer. I'll be back later in the week with a more in-depth analysis of this year's Gator strengths and weaknesses From what I can gleen thus far). Until then, I'll just say that the offense still has a long way to go and the defense (for the first time in at least 5 years) has a real shot at being a dominant unit, provided that everybody can stay healthy. Luckily, Urban and the boys have another week to get ready for Fat Phil and the Vols' bi-annual trip to the Swamp.

-Was anybody else surprised to learn that Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, MI? I'm not trying to accuse Richard Williams of anything unethical in this space but I think that we all know a story about two young black girls who grew up in Compton playing tennis is a hell of lot more intriguing to the media than the same story about two girls who grew up in some shitty city in Michigan that nobody has ever been to.

- Miami-FSU was an intriguing game simply because of the rivalry, and the intensity on the field. No matter how badly Brent Musberger and Gary Danielson tried to spin it, it was what it was...a bad football game. At one point, Musberger remarked, "This is your Grandaddy's football". Umm, no actually it's not. Games were 10-7 during my Grandfather's day because all anybody ever did was run the ball and play field position, not because an inept freshman QB went 6-21 with 4 of those completions being screen passes. Both of those defenses were very solid, I will grant you this, but a better, more experienced QB would've taken full advantage of FSU's young secondary. This alone should've resulted in at least one more touchdown for the 'Canes. For FSU, young Jeff Bowden further cemented himself as the least imaginative (if not worst) Offensive Coordinator in all of College Football with his playcalling after FSU blocked a Miami punt and recoverd on the one. Two straight handoffs to your fullback? Really? I know it worked the first time you were down there but don't you think that maybe Miami might be ready for it the second (or third) time around? Jeez, there were drunk Cubans in little Havana last night who would've had the Miami defense prepared for that.

When you factor in the absurb number of drops on both sides of the ball, you get exactly what this game turned out ot be...a sloppily played football game. Here's my prediction for both of these teams:

FSU: Two conference losses and a second tier bowl game.

Miami: They'll run the table until they meet Va. Tech later this fall where they'll lose in embarrasing fashion.

Moral of the story: It's next to impossible to win in major college football with a freshman QB running your team. Just ask Auburn.

Alright, I've got work to pretend to do so I'll leave it at that and get back to more half-asses punditry later on in the week (hopefuly tommorrow).