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October 2009

Northwestern Football Hangs with Penn State for Three Quarters but Falls 34-13

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Northwestern Football Hangs with Penn State for Three Quarters but Falls 34-13  | read this item

Northwestern (5-4, 2-3) fought hard for three quarters and even held a 13-10 halftime lead, but Penn State (8-1, 4-1) was just too much for the Wildcats as PSU scored 21 points in the final period to secure a 34-13 win in Evanston.

Despite losing a fumble on their second play from scrimmage, Northwestern’s defense held the Nittany Lions in check on that drive by holding Penn State to a field goal.  The Wildcats responded by putting together a 17-play, 65-yard drive to tie the game with a field goal of their own.

NU continued its offensive momentum in the second quarter as QB Mike Kafka punched it in on a seven-yard touchdown run to give the ‘Cats a 10-3 lead, which marked just the second first-half TD that Penn State has given up this season.

Although PSU would answer with a TD of their own to tie the game, the Wildcats would take the lead just before halftime on a Stefan Demos 45-yard field goal that was set up by a 44-yard Stephen Simmons kickoff return.

Unfortunately, Kafka sustained a leg injury in the first half that forced him to sit out the rest of the game, although he remained in full pads on the sideline.  Sophomore Dan Persa took over QB duties, and the flow of NU’s offense completely changed (stopped).

The first half saw NU rack up 231 yards of total offense, with Kafka accounting for 170 of that (128 yards passing and 42 yards rushing).  After the half, NU gained just 146 yards, with the vast majority of that (120 yards) coming late in the fourth after PSU had taken a three-touchdown lead.

For Penn State, all it took was one three consecutive offensive plays from scrimmage to take a big lead in the fourth quarter. 

First, it was a two-yard scoring run after a long sustained drive.  Then, after an NU three-and-out, PSU QB Daryll Clark found dangerous WR Derek Moye open deep and hit him for a 53 yard touchdown.

After another fruitless Northwestern drive and punt, Clark faked a quick pass to the flat (which had worked multiple times on the evening) then handed off to RB Evan Royster who found a big hole and took the ball 69 yards for a score to give Penn State an insurmountable 21-point lead.

Although Kafka couldn’t have corrected the defensive gaffes that led to the game-sealing PSU scores, his absence definitely disrupted the Northwestern offensive flow. 

Despite facing a stout defense, the ‘Cats were moving the ball very well with Kafka at the helm, and it’s tough to think about the could-have-been situation if he was at full health.

Despite the Kafka injury and a couple glaring defensive errors, Northwestern put together 45 solid minutes of football against one of the nation’s best teams, and has the tools to put together an upset bid next week in Iowa City.

Player of the Game:

PSU QB Daryll Clark (22-of-31 for 274 yards and 1 TD passing, 6 rushes for 16 yards and 1 TD)   Clark had a rather pedestrian game until he helped blow the game wide open with a 53-yard bomb to Moye in the fourth quarter. 

His accurate throws and avoidance of any major errors helped Penn State earn a big road win despite a rough first half.

Northwestern Honorable Mentions:

QB Mike Kafka (14-of-18 for 128 yards passing, 8 rushes for 42 yards and 1 TD)   Kafka had the offense clicking and proved to be a threat both with his arm and his feet until he went down with a leg injury.  The offense definitely looked deflated after he came out of the game.

WR Zeke Markshausen (9 catches for 60 yards)   He’s not flashy, but all this guy does is catch the football, padding his already large number of receptions on the year.

 

What to Work on:

Preventing Explosion Plays:   Northwestern was very much in the football game even after allowing PSU to take a 20-13 fourth quarter lead.  But on the next two plays from scrimmage, the ‘Cats allowed Penn State to essentially end the game with a pass and a run that totaled 122 yards.

Utilizing Persa:   When Dan Persa came in to relieve Kafka, he utilized his speed (he had 14 runs for 42 net yards, although that includes the four times he was sacked), but rarely provided a deep throwing threat (his longest pass was 20 yards).  PSU basically teed off on him in terms of the pass rush, forcing him to run for his life on most downs.

Complete Game:   NU got close to its first “complete game” of the year, taking a tied ballgame into the final quarter of play, but couldn’t finish the job. 

This game showed that if the ‘Cats can play well in all three phases the whole way, they can compete with anyone.  Hopefully, NU can play well in all 60 minutes in its biggest test of the year next week at Iowa.

Random Observations:

Attendance:   Not to harp on it too much, but attendance for the biggest game of the year at Ryan Field was 30,546 (65 percent of capacity), not as good as it could be for a late afternoon start against a highly ranked opponent.

Made or Blocked:   P/K Stefan Demos is now 13-of-15 on FG attempts for the year, with both of his misses coming on blocked kicks.

Kafka:   The NU starting QB has accounted for 70% of the ‘Cats’ offensive yards this season (2,443) and 15 TDs.

Big Ten Bowl Positioning:   Northwestern still needs another win to reach bowl eligibility (and two to secure a berth), but they’re in the mix with two other teams at five wins (the top four teams in the conference have already achieved at least six wins for bowl eligibility).

Special Teams Drops:   There were four drops on special teams: three on kickoff returns and one by NU’s punter.  Two actually turned into great plays for the ‘Cats, with Demos picking up a dropped snap that he flicked ahead to Mark Woodsum, who gained a first down and Simmons returning a dropped kickoff that he picked back up for 44 yards.

Final Thought:

The Wildcats put together a solid three quarters but just couldn’t hold up in the end, especially after losing its top offensive weapon, Mike Kafka, to an injury in the second quarter.

Now Northwestern will pick up the pieces and try to put together an upset bid next week as they travel to Iowa City to face another highly ranked opponent and try to earn bowl eligibility.

Go ‘Cats!!!

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USC Trojan Report Card: Oregon 47 USC 20

Published on: 31st October, 2009

USC Trojan Report Card: Oregon 47 USC 20  | read this item

The one thing Trojan fans can take consolation in is that the best team won.

Nothing cheap, no luck involved, simply the best team won.

I am sure that many Trojan diehards will take offense at this notion, and will complain that I am giving too much credit to the Ducks but the facts speak for themselves.

I wrote an article this week suggesting that it would take a complete effort on the part of the Trojans to escape Autzen with a victory and sadly, for the Trojans, this was not to be.

In the last eight years, I have not personally witnessed a more abysmal effort than the Trojans displayed against Oregon and it was this lack of defensive prowess that doomed the Trojans to defeat.

So lets get to it, this Trojan report card, one that will be sent home to the BCS condemning USC to the Holiday bowl, if they are lucky:

 

Defense:

 

Coaching:

Pete Carroll will have you believe that it was all Jeremiah Masoli’s ability to be creative on broken plays that made the difference in this game.

Uh, bullcrap Pete.

The defensive game plan was horrible and it was compounded by Carroll’s defensive corps inability to tackle anyone.

Grade: F

 

Defensive Line:

Whether it was Masoli, James or any other Duck, the Trojans simply could not tackle anyone. Rarely has a Pete Carroll defense acquitted itself so miserably.

Grade: F

 

Linebackers:

Perhaps the only redeeming feature to a loss like this is the ability for this writer to economize my words. So, here it is:

See the comments for the defensive line.

Grade: F

 

Defensive Secondary:

See the comments for the defensive line.

Grade: F

 

Offense:

 

Coaching:

I can’t really fault Jeremy Bates for the Trojans lack of offensive prowess, especially in the second half. Because of the hole the defense put the offense in, there wasn’t much Bates could do. Bates play calling in the first half was adequate although some might say that the lack of a running attack put too much pressure on Barkley who threw over twenty times in the first half. It should be noted that the Trojan offense played without Anthony McCoy, Kristofer O’Dowd, David Ausberry, and Stanley Havili among others.

Grade: C+

 

Quarterback:

Matt Barkley did the best he could under the circumstances. Stuck in a continual cycle of playing catch up, Barkley, especially in the second half, had little opportunity to do anything other than hope that at least once the defense would hold and give him a chance to work some magic on the offensive side of the ball.

Barkley’s hopes were dashed all game long.

Grade: C+

 

Running backs:

Joe McKnight did some nice things when it was still a competitive game. Allen Bradford continued his maddening habit of playing well in one game and disappearing in the next.

Grade: C

 

Offensive Line:

At least six penalties were called on the line for false starts and illegal procedure. Yes, Autzen is loud but this was a lack of discipline. The offensive line opened up some decent holes for McKnight and protected Barkley fairly well, but the penalties were killers.

Grade: D+

 

Receivers:

Both Damien Williams and Ronald Johnson had some nice catches. Brandon Carswell got some playing time and made the most of it. Where was Brice Butler though? Given the fact that McCoy, Ausberry and others were not available, this unit may have been the best the Trojans had to offer.

Grade: B-

 

Special Teams:

The Trojans first kickoff was returned some seventy plus yards setting the tone for the crowd who was into the game from that point forward. Made field goals give this unit a passing grade.

Barely.

Grade: C+

 

Summary:

Trojan fans have been spoiled for the last few years and when a game like this occurs, Trojan faithful may be tempted to jump off the ledge.

Don’t.

While this game was NOT an aberration, in that the Ducks are just a better team right now, there is plenty of hope for the future. As long as one doesn’t consider the future to be this year. This defense is just plain bad right now.

The last two games against Notre Dame and Oregon State obviously were not flukes and Pete Carroll has his work cut out for him both in getting back to fundamentally sound defensive football and restoring the confidence to a unit who must be shaken very badly.

Good luck Pete.

 

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Duke Controls Own Destiny in ACC and Beyond on Devil’s Night

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Duke Controls Own Destiny in ACC and Beyond on Devil's Night  | read this item

The strangest things just seem to happen on Halloween.

For Duke Football this Halloween proved to be extra sweet as the Blue Devils extended their ACC winning streak to three games after beating Virginia 28-17.

The win moves Duke (5-3, 3-1) into second place out right in the Coastal Division behind Georgia Tech.

After a field goal duel for most of the game, Duke looked dead in the water and was trailing 17-12 late in the fourth quarter.

But as the Devils have done for much of the year, they rode the arm of quarterback Thad Lewis to victory.

Duke now is only two games away from bowl eligibility with four games remaining. Of those four, two, North Carolina and Wake Forest, are generally considered by many winnable.

What may be the bigger story is that the Blue Devils actually have a chance to win the Coastal Division.

Granted there is still a long way to go, and Duke is not likely to be favored in any of their remaining games.

However, this team under second year coach David Cutcliffe, is doing something most, including Duke football fans, thought was impossible. They are competing and winning in the ACC.

The fact that Duke can say at this point in the season that they control their own destiny is mind boggling.

If you were to tell anyone that after their opening season loss to the FCS’s Richmond Spiders they would have laughed in your face.

This team may be lucky, they may even be a fluke, but they are winning. And for the players and fans who have struggled through not just years but decades of failure, they will take wins anyway they come.

The Blue Devils are starting to show they can win close games, ugly games, road games, and games where they are favored and expected to win.

Cutcliffe has said that November is a key month for any college football team and this November Duke will have a chance to prove their worth.

Next up is arch rival UNC who is coming off a huge upset of Virginia Tech. Duke hasn’t defeated the Tar Heels since 2004.

Seeing though as the Blue Devils are making making a habit of breaking losing streaks,  nothing would be better for them than to march into Chapel Hill and take back the Victory Bell.

But like everything else for this team, it won’t come easy and they will have to fight for it.

If they somehow can pull off a fourth-straight win, as improbable as it sounds, it would set up a showdown with Georgia Tech with the Coastal Division Title on the line.

A lot has to happen for that to occur, but the fact that the Blue Devils have some control over the ACC and their bowl status may be nothing short of miraculous.

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Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt Post-Game Thoughts

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt Post-Game Thoughts  | read this item

(Jonathan Dwyer had himself a night, as they say, in Nashville.)

As promised. I’ll be back with a full post-game column soon.

We’ll start with the positives.

  • 56 points, 597 yards, 40:20 time of possession, 407 rushing yards. It does not get much more positive than that.
  • Jonathan Dwyer was in what last year was late-season form again Saturday. If he’s hitting his stride again, watch out.
  • Anyone who says Josh Nesbitt still isn’t a threat to pass is lying. He might not be blowing anyone away, but Georgia Tech is now just as capable of big plays through the air as on the ground. In fact, their two longest plays Saturday night came through the air.
  • The defense adjusted in a big way. After a horrendous first half and an 81-yard drive to start the second, Vanderbilt never sniffed an offensive rhythm again. MacKenzi Adams was pressured, and strong team tackling forced two fumbles (a third came on special teams).
  • The Jackets took advantage of all three fumbles (their only turnovers) with touchdowns. That’s opportunistic, and it’s something Tech has been good at all year.
  • The backups got some meaningful field time, which is good if say, Josh Nesbitt went down, and Jaybo Shaw needed to step in.

Now the negatives, of which there were a few.

  • Tech’s defense can do its little Jekyll-and-Hyde routine against Vanderbilt or Mississippi State, but one of these days, it’s going to hurt them. I said it at halftime: That kind of defensive performance (the first half) would be a deathblow against a BCS opponent. Just something to ponder.
  • Jacket defenders are still quite poor at tackling in the open field. They compensate by swarming well, but either the former needs to improve or the latter needs to become more common. Or both, I guess.
  • The half-time adjustments seem to work well, but why can’t they come on the sideline? One of the benefits of having an offense that holds the ball for almost two-thirds of every game is that it gives the defense time not only to rest but to think things over and adjust. In-game adjustment needs to get better.
  • I’ll mention the fumble near the goal line, mostly because honestly, I can’t find many real negatives in the way the offense played. They were what they’ve been for the last month-plus: a well-oiled machine.

I’ll flush this out in more detail in my column, but while some might see the above lists as a bit homerrific, if you look at this game, it’s a textbook upset-gone-bad.

We’re accustomed to seeing those sorts of games bogged down in defense in the first half, as the better team’s offense tries to find a rhythm, then pulls away in the second half. This night, it was just the opposite.

But at the end of the day, Tech clamped down, asserted itself, and left no doubt as to which team was clearly better than the other.

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Top Five Most Disappointing Spartan Losses I’ve Ever Witnessed

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Top Five Most Disappointing Spartan Losses I've Ever Witnessed  | read this item

My mood has changed.  Actually, I suppose I should I say my mood is just back to normal as opposed to changed.

Ricky Stanzi, two seconds, and a simple slant play at the goal line have brought me back to Earth. 

Read this should you need any further explanation: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/277220-coach-dantonio-or-saint-mark-dantonio

So given that I’ve been kicked off College Football’s Cloud Nine, I’ve decided to take a different route in order to not end up red in the face due to the Green and White.

Here it is all you Spartan enthusiasts:

The Top Five Most Embarrassing Spartan Losses:

To specify, these are only losses I’ve seen firsthand or on TV since attending Michigan State University.  So no worries, there’s only ONE Michigan debacle on the list.

5.  September 12th, 2009. Central Michigan

Yes, Central Michigan.  The name of the opponent speaks for the level of humiliation.  Not to mention the manner in which the game was lost. 

Cousins to B.J. Cunningham for a 27-20 lead with 7:33 remaining.  Just about ball game right? Wrong.

Dan LeFevour continues to burn the Spartans secondary, and throws a TD to make it a one-point game with 32 seconds left.  They go for two … hold your breath … no good.

Disaster averted right? Wrong.

The best onside kick in the history of football falls in the arms of Receiver Bryan Anderson.

But even that’s okay because a subsequent 47-yard field goal sails wide.  Game over right? Wrong.

Offsides on the play, and the second try is nothing but down-the-middle-upset-pandemonium-ensuing-kinda good.

4. Sept 19th, 2009. Notre Dame

What a way to follow up a ridiculous upset loss to a MAC team.

Chris L. Rucker (don’t get me started on that guy) misses a game-ending interception.

Larry Caper, who’s wide open, can’t quite reach a clinching touchdown in the face of Touchdown Jesus.

But perhaps most unfairly, the rest can be written off on quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Not shortly after missing Caper, Cousins throws an interception on 2nd-and-goal that ensures a 33-30 Notre Dame victory.

The guy goes for the game of his life- minus one.  302 yards passing yards in South Bend, and then blows it on SECOND down near the goalline. 

Hell, even if he just falls down for another play, Sparty still forces overtime with a chip-shot field goal.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh

3. November 3rd, 2007. Michigan

Spartan Stadium was rocking with complimentary towels waving frantically.

A 11-point halftime deficit turned into a 24-14 MSU lead with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter.

Add in a crucial fluke first down after Mike Hart scoops up a Ryan Mallet fumble.

Add in Chad Henne.  Instead of the Braylon Edwards making a leaping grab over Ross Weaver, just add in Mario Manningham over Weaver this time.

And you have another heartbreaking Michigan comeback, 28-24.

2. October 24th, 2009.  Iowa

4th-and-goal, two seconds remaining.

A magical hook and ladder goes for not.  An attempt at ending Iowa’s undefeated season fails.

I was sitting in the corner where the ball was caught.  I’d rather not elaborate any farther.

1. September, 24th 2006. Notre Dame

The King of Michigan State Implosions.

A 17-0 first quarter became a 31-14 halftime lead.

But a No.10, Brady Quinn-led, Notre Dame squad mounted an incomprehensible rally that culminated in a 40-37 win.

The game was enough to handle. The elation to deflation in 30 minutes of football was enough to handle.

But don’t forget the torrential downpour that added insult to injury in a baffling loss. 

Goodbye John L. Smith, hello continued Spartan Football jokes.

Through and through, however, I maintain my love for Sparty.  Through trials and tribulations, through sickness and health, my marriage to the Green and White remains.

So as I sit and watch Michigan State struggle with the hapless Golden Gophers in the first half, it is with complete trepidation that I say: Go Spartans, don’t blow it.

 

 

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Inconsistent? Definitely. But Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi Defines Clutch

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Inconsistent? Definitely. But Iowa's Ricky Stanzi Defines Clutch  | read this item

It was exactly the way Iowa drew it up. Well, maybe not exactly.

“I hope I don’t ever [do that] again… We’ll take the win, but there has to be an easier way,” Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi said.

I’m sure Kirk Ferentz would agree with his quarterback and settled for an earlier blowout of the Indiana Hoosiers. But, once again, the Hawkeyes didn’t care how they got it done. Simply put, they just won.

And while most of Iowa’s victories have come due to improbable comebacks, this one was the most magical.

Despite throwing five interceptions, four of them in the third quarter, digging his team into a 24-14 hole, Stanzi perhaps deserved to be named the player of the game.

His poise is outstanding. 99 percent of quarterbacks would give up after throwing four interceptions, in one quarter nevertheless, but not Ricky Stanzi.

In dramatic fashion, he rallied his Hawkeyes back with consecutive touchdown passes of 92 and 66 yards to take a 28-24 lead. He never looked back, leading his team to a 42-24 win, accumulating 28 unanswered points.

While Stanzi certainly isn’t a Heisman caliber quarterback, he has rallied his team back in eight of nine games this season, something that possibly even Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy wouldn’t be able to do.

Excluding today, Stanzi has orchestrated seven comebacks this season, including a fourth quarter comeback against number five Penn State, a second-half domination of Wisconsin, and a touchdown pass as time expired to beat Michigan State. More impressively, those three wins came on the road.

After those games, I thought about writing this article, but needed proof one more time. And after the first three quarters in Iowa City, I doubted that this article would ever be written. Boy, did he prove me wrong.

In the three road games, Stanzi didn’t struggle nearly as much as he did today, hence the five picks. And though I rarely doubt coach Kirk Ferentz, I began to wonder if Stanzi should be benched.

But benching his starting quarterback “never entered his mind.”

“I’m not alone in this one,” Ferentz said. “We all believe in Rick Stanzi. The guy has done a hell of a job.”

And Ferentz’s brilliant decision proved me, and most of the country, wrong.

Stanzi has been inconsistent this year, to say the least. He started out the season with slow starts in each game, but rallied his team back in every one.

He seemed to finally have turned the corner against Wisconsin, but turned in an awful game the next week against Michigan State. That is, until the final drive.

I know SEC fans will go crazy on me for this, claiming Stanzi is lucky and isn’t close to Tebow caliber.

I know Stanzi isn’t close to Tim Tebow caliber. And luck may be a big part of his success. But nobody orchestrates that many game-winning drives based on luck alone.

Stanzi may not be pretty, and he may catch a few breaks now and then, but his 17-3 record speaks for itself. As does the fact that, come tomorrow, the Iowa Hawkeyes will have gone an entire year without a loss.

While Stanzi isn’t the only reason Iowa stands at 9-0, in fact more credit may be due to the Hawkeyes’ opportunistic defense, he certainly has paid his dues.

It may not always be pretty, but Ricky Stanzi knows how to win games. The junior quarterback from Mentor, Ohio continues to define clutch with each Iowa win.

“No matter what happens, he keeps on playing,” Ferentz said. “If there’s one thing I can say about Rick, it’s resiliency. He’s done a great job of leading our football team.”

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Halloween Scare For the Nittany Lions

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Halloween Scare For the Nittany Lions  | read this item

While some people spend their Halloween scared of ghosts, ghouls and monster, Penn State fans and players had somewhat of a scare of their own on this Halloween day. 

Heavily favored going into their game with Northwestern, they found themselves tied 13-13 going into the fourth quarter. However, the fourth quarter would provide Penn State with many “treats” on this day.

Penn State scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth to defeat Northwestern 34-13, in a huge road victory for the Nittany Lions.

The first score came when sophomore running back Brandon Beachum scored on a 2-yard run.  The next two were big plays, as quarterback Darryl Clark connected with sophomore wide receiver Derek Moye for a 53-yard touchdown.  Junior Evan Royster provided a 69-yard run to the end zone to clinch the win.

So if this fourth quarter could be described as a treat for Penn State fans, it’s safe to say that what happened in Iowa was definitely a trick.  Iowa was trailing Indiana 24-14 to start the fourth quarter of its game.  However, like Penn State, Iowa exploded for 28 points in the final 12 minutes. As Penn State is sitting one game behind the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten standings, a loss by Iowa would’ve been huge for the Lions.

“It was nice to get the win today. It might not have been pretty the whole time, however a win is a win,” said Junior Andy K.  He also added, “It would have been very nice to see Iowa get beat today, but there’s nothing we can do about it. All we can do is keep winning.”

With three games left, the Big Ten race is very close.  At this point, it is hard to imagine Iowa losing two of its final three games to allow Penn State to become Big Ten champions. However, if PSU can win out, it still has a chance to play in a high caliber bowl game.  Happy Valley will be buzzing next week, as rival school Ohio State comes into town.  It’s going to be a good one!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida Gators Slime Men In Black on Halloween

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Florida Gators Slime Men In Black on Halloween  | read this item

The game was over as soon as the Georgia Bulldogs needed the helmet gimmick to get motivated.

Richt, once so intelligent, diligent, creative, and driven, seems to have run out of ideas.

Actually, the silly uniforms had nothing to do with this game. Turnovers and penalties characterized Georgia’s self-destruction.

“It’s not the helmet,” safety Reshad Jones said. “It’s what inside the helmet.”

However, I hope that we never see the black helmets ever again. What is so obvious is the stupidity and immaturity in putting emphasis on the uniforms instead of coaching and performance.

Even after a long bye week.

Georgia appeared to be mourning for their own funeral Saturday in Jacksonville. No tricks and no treats, at least for Bulldog Nation.

Similar to the demolition by Alabama in the 2008 season when the Bulldogs wore black jerseys, the silly gimmick of wearing black helmets and black pants, with white jerseys, did not overshadow the lack of self-discipline that produced several penalties and critical turnovers. 

The black pants were okay, but the black helmets needed more red. If it wasn’t for the wide white stripe in the middle, the helmets would have looked liked bowling balls and similar to the helmets worn by the Atlanta Falcons.

Georgia would be better off wearing the Oregon Ducks uniforms for Halloween.  To paraphrase Daffy Duck, UGA was “despicable!”  Quack! Quack!

Being the last day of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Bulldogs could have decked out in pink.

Practicing self-control and self-discipline, executing plays, and emphasizing fundamentals rather than wearing black uniforms would have served the Bulldogs well today.

The mediocre Georgia Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3) lost for the third time in four games.

Breaking a record held by Herschel Walker, Tim Tebow accounted for four touchdowns.  The obvious difference is that it took Tebow four years with an extra regular season game per season and a couple of SEC title games to break a record in which Walker accomplished in three seasons.

A.J. Jones had two huge interceptions and top-ranked Florida spooked and spanked Georgia 41-17 Saturday for its 17th win in the past 20 meetings between the SEC rivals.

Florida (8-0, 6-0) continued the nation’s longest winning streak to 18 games and clinched at least a share of the SEC East title.

The Gators can secure a spot in the conference title game if Tennessee (in black jerseys) beats South Carolina Saturday night in Knoxville in the Halloween Bowl (just kidding, fans of Volunteers and Gamecocks).  

Whatever Joe Cox had at Independence High in Charlotte, he’s lost at Georgia. Bench him for the season and start building for the 2010 season.

Please fire defensive coordinator Martinez.  With an extra week to prepare, Willie Martinez seemed even more incompetent than usual.

Florida’s offensive production in SEC play was matched only by a 41-7 win against Kentucky in Lexington.

Georgia has underachieved three times in the past four seasons.

 

 

Quote of the Day:
Nothing is too high for a man to reach, but he must climb with care and confidence.
–Hans Christian Andersen

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Brought to you by BibleGateway.com . Copyright (C) . All Rights Reserved.

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Why Justin Fargas Could Take Control Of Raiders-Chargers Game

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Why Justin Fargas Could Take Control Of Raiders-Chargers Game  | read this item

Justin Fargas has been stirring the pot lately, making a case that he is the best running back in Oakland.

Despite Michael Bush’s fan favoritism, and the fact that Darren McFadden did enough in college to make himself a top five draft choice in 2008, Justin Fargas recently took the lead in rushing yards for Oakland despite missing the first four games of the year, matching Michael Bush’s 204 yards on the year.

Fargas has rushed for 204 yards on 54 carries, with his last 31 carries going for 154 of it. That is an average of 4.96 yards per carry in his last 31 with a long run of 35 yards, the Raiders long for the year.

Perhaps Oakland should run Fargas 31 times per game until he can’t take it anymore rather than letting that young passing game throw it an average of 28 times per game.

Not only would it keep the defense fresh, but it would allow the offensive line to work at what their strength has been for the last two years, when they ranked sixth and 10th in the league at the end of the year.

Lets just hope Fargas get an opportunity to make a good first impression in San Diego tomorrow. Maybe he could recreate his image towards the fan base.

Tom Cable said that he wanted the Raiders to develop Fargas into their closer. I’ve said before and firmly believe that Fargas is more of a tone setter then a first down getter, but the way he has been running the ball lately, he looks like an entire gamer than an opener or a closer.

Just give him the ball.

I would like to see three straight Fargas handoffs to open against the Chargers in part II. It will be interesting to see if the coaches pick up on, or take advantage of the success Fargas has had recently.

I like the O-line and have a feeling once Robert Gallery gets back, it could be a strong group for years to come, with Chris Morris moving back to center, and perhaps Satelle going to right guard once Cooper Carlisle can’t go anymore.

It is time for Cornell Green to take the bench, as Khalif Barnes develops into a solid right tackle for Oakland.

Go Raiders, Go Fargas! 

JaMarcus isn’t a bust yet: http://fanhuddle.com/oaklandraiders/2009/10/31/jamarcus-russell-not-a-bust-yet/

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Panthers-Cardinals: Making a Statement

Published on: 31st October, 2009

Panthers-Cardinals: Making a Statement  | read this item
The Cardinals have had two straight ‘statement’ games, and came through with increasing volume with each.
Their slapping around of former perennial division champ Seattle said in no uncertain terms, that the Cardinals WILL defend their division title.
They did so in a 27-3 shellacking up in the great Northwest, where the 12th man was used to going home happy as the Big Dread suffered another painfully long plane-ride home, drove the message home clearly.
Last Sunday night in the Meadowlands, they screamed it in the ears of all that yes, they DO plan on being around in the fight for the conference crown, too!
Their drubbing of the Giants, at home and when their 5-1 team was supposed to be ‘focused’ and (presumably) pissed after suffering their first loss the week before, put the Cards back in almost everyone’s ‘weekly top 10, and made even the most cynical take notice.
But as fellow blogger Chris Farmer points out, this has always been a ‘trap game’ for the Cards. They play and beat someone who gets the fans all in a tizzy, only to get rolled at home like a rich, drunken tourist (My words, not Chris’s) the following weekend. 
But I believe this is a different Cardinals team than we’ve seen in the past. This isn’t a pretender. This is actually a team worthy of going to last year’s Super Bowl, and talent-wise, matches up with anyone in the NFL. 
I know.. I know. Fan bias and all that.
But I don’t think so. Those that know me, know my work and know my history regarding my Cardinals prognostication, know that I’m more cynical, if anything.
In fact, since their playoff win in Dallas following the 1998 season, I’ve picked the Cardinals to have a winning record only twice. In 1999, and this year. 
That said, this is every bit a “statement” game as the last one. This is another hurdle the Cardinals need to get over to continue they assent-ion upward among the NFL elite. 
And I believe that they’ll do it. Trap game, to be sure. But this…THIS Cardinals team is just a good, quality football team. And I firmly believe they’ll come in and do what needs to be done. I don’t think it’ll even be very close.
 
When the Cardinals Have the Ball
Who can forget last years ‘turning point’ Divisional Playoff game in Carolina? The 10-point underdog Cardinals rode into Bank of America Stadium, and rolled out with a shot at a Conference Title by pasting 33 points in a 20 point win on the previously unbeaten-at-home Panthers. 
WR Larry Fitzgerald was a human highlight film, and became a household name when he put up 166 yards and a ridiculous acrobatic touchdown while hauling in eight Kurt Warner passes. 
The Panthers haven’t played very well this year, but they have been quite successful in pass defense. They will bring the leagues top rated pass D into UoP Stadium on Sunday, giving up a stingy 149 YPG, almost 20 less than Fitz alone snagged that fateful day. 
But (yes, there’s always a ‘but’) they have played a very soft schedule, at least from an offensive standpoint. They beat Washington and Tampa Bay, and have lost and/or gotten drilled by Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, and most recently Buffalo. 
The Eagles’ Donovan McNabb needed only 79 yards passing for Philly to put up 38 points. So pure numbers, as you know, can be deceiving. 
The Cardinals have an opportunity to beat a good team and do so by utilizing what could be a major team strength at some point.
Get a ground game going against Carolina’s 20th ranked rushing defense to set up play action against that lofty No. 1 rated passing defense. 
Panthers coach John Fox said Wednesday that starting FS Charles Godfrey wouldn’t play, which can only help provide opportunities over the middle for the likes of Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.
Cards DE Mike Gandy gets no breaks this week either. After lining up opposite the likes of Dwight Freeney, Mario Williams, and Osi Umenyiora in recent weeks, he gets a rejuvenated Julius Peppers Sunday. Peppers has been on a bit of a tear, and keeping him off Warner’s back is key.
If last Sunday was any indication, expect to see RB Beanie Wells even more often. Cards head coach Ken Whisenhunt said that the depth chart hasn’t changed, and Tim Hightower will start. 
But I have to think that, had Beanie not fumbled following a Hightower fumble that launched Wells onto the field in the first place, he may have been the starter this week.
However, its hard to make a point to a player in that way when the backup commits the same maddening, frustrating infraction. 
These fumbles are an Achilles heel that the Cards have (luckily) been able to get away with more often than not. That can’t continue. As the season goes along and the games get tougher, those can and will mean the difference between a win and a loss.
When the Panthers Have the Ball
Speaking of Achilles heel’s, the ‘2‘ in Carolina’s solid 1-2 RB punch that includes DeAngelo Williams as the ‘1‘, Jonathan Stewart missed practice this week with a painful Achilles injury, and is listed as questionable for the game. 
Fox also announced on Wednesday that the $43 million man, QB Jake Delhomme will start for the Panthers. He says that Delhomme gives Carolina its best chance to win. He’s right.
I know that doesn’t say a lot for backups AJ Feeley and Matt Moore the way Delhomme has played this year.
It seems as though the Cards ruined him when they picked off five of his passes last January. He hasn’t been the same since. But he is a former Pro-bowler, and can be dangerous if he gets on a roll.
Steve Smith, who almost annually abuses Cards defenders, was basically shut down in that game too. The Panthers will need Smith to find a way to get open if they’re to have even a chance of keeping up with the Cards offense. 
Coach Fox also said that WR Mushin Muhammad missed practice this week because of a sprained knee, and won’t play. He will likely be replaced by Dwayne Jarret. That won’t make life any easier for Smith. Or Delhomme.
But Jake Delhomme’s troubles aside, the Panthers still have a good running game, averaging 128+ yards per game. DeAngelo Williams is averaging over 4 yards per carry, and if Stewart (and his 4.8 YPC average) can find his way into the field, it would be a pretty solid test for the NFL’s top rated run defense. The loss of Stewart won’t make Williams job any easier as well. 
The Panthers are -14 in turnover ratio, and the Cardinals ball-hawk defense is just the kind of thing that can make this game get ugly in a hurry. If Carolina wants to even stay in the game, Delhomme needs to avoid picks (14 already, to 4 TDs).
 
Special Teams and Coaching
The Cardinals have been playing well on special teams. Nothing special every game (although there have been several game changers), but solid play and avoidance of allowing the big play.
 
Coach Whiz has been doing quite well, TYVM, in his play calling in general. Although it seems he has had one or two head scratchers.
But they have been ready from the opening kickoff, well prepared for each opponent, and we’ve seen some fun, creative play calling too. Not much more you can ask from a coaching staff, eh?
On the other hand, Fox is officially on the proverbial hot seat. That the Panthers have lost their bite isn’t really the fault of Fox, it’s the coach that gets the pink slip, not the $43 million recently re-signed quarterback. 
Fox will use last year’s playoff spanking as motivation. And he should. That’s about all he has from a coaching standpoint. I mean, Carolina is already 3.5 games behind the Saints in the NFC South. And the future depends on Delhomme’s arm. 
Maybe getting fired isn’t such a bad thing after all. 
The BRADY HUNCH
Cardinals 31 – Panthers 15

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