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November 2009

Falcons QB Matt Ryan Out for Eagles Game

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Falcons QB Matt Ryan Out for Eagles Game  | read this item

 

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan suffered a turf toe injury in a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, yesterday, and will not play this week.

The Falcons are three point underdogs for their home game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.  According to various reports, Ryan will not play because of the injury, which was suffered during the first series of the game vs. the Bucs.

Atlanta came away with a 20-17 victory over Tampa Bay but they failed to cover as 13-point faves.

Since 1984, the Falcons are 3-6 ATS in nine home games against the Eagles and in their last nine games when an underdog of four points or less, they have gone Over seven times.

The Total for the Eagles game currently sits at 45.5.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

Florida–Alabama Preview: Tim Tebow and 14 Other Reasons This Game Rocks

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Florida–Alabama Preview: Tim Tebow and 14 Other Reasons This Game Rocks  | read this item

We finally made it. The improbable rematch to the best game from last year is here.  Both teams are missing key pieces from last year. However, neither slipped up, and for the first time ever we have a battle of undefeateds in the SEC championship. 

To put it bluntly, this game will rock.

Not convinced? I’ve got 15 pieces of evidence backing me up.

15. No. 15

I don’t mean number 15, as in the 15th most important reason to watch this game. I mean jersey No. 15 for the Florida Gators, Tim Tebow. The Heisman winner—and probably two time Heisman, also—shows up in big games. And this is one of the biggest.

Take a look at his career stats in what I consider the big games (LSU, the traditional rivals, bowls, and championships):

212/333 2872 yds 34 TDs 5 INTs 166.8 Pass Eff
285 rush 1,068 yds 19 TDs

To give you an idea of how good he’s been, the career mark for pass efficiency is 168.9, set by a WAC quarterback. Tebow’s been doing nearly that against his toughest competition.

Don’t expect anything less than a huge game by No. 15 with a title and an outside shot at the Heisman on the line.

 

14. The coaches

Say what you want about the SEC, but the league is the fun. In fact, it’s the most fun, most successful league thanks to the guys calling the plays.

My theory on it? The SEC’s model for success is professional wrestling. We’ve got heels (Kiffin, Meyer, Saban, Spurrier), Wildcards (Miles, Nutt and his wacky daughter), Good guys (Johnson, Richt), inept refs who “never see nothin,’” even when somebody smacks a guy with a chair, and a jackass commish who plays favorites.

The championship gives us two of the heels, an all–star cast of crappy refs, and Vince McSlive in attendance. How could you not watch that?

 

13. Defense, defense, defense!

The Gators rank first in total defense, second in passing defense, first in scoring defense, and eighth in rush defense. They are also top 20 in sacks.

Alabama ranks third in total defense, first in pass defense, second in scoring defense, and second in rush defense. They are 25th in sacks.

Neither team gives up more than two scores a game—Florida at 9.8 points per game, and Alabama at 10.8. 

For those of you a little skeptical of how two dominant defenses can make for an exciting game, look back at last year’s 31–20 SEC championship. Both teams were top 20 in all of the above categories. The two stoppable forces were able to put up a combined 51 points on the immovable objects.  This year they just went and turned it up to All–Madden.

 

12. Mark Ingram

The other Heisman candidate took a big hit in both his candidacy and on the field. Right now he’s not practicing. But he says he’s playing, and I believe him.

Ingram’s second effort has killed teams this year, and it will be the ultimate test for the Gators’ stout defense.

At nearly 300 yards and 11 TDs behind Gerhart, Ingram has some work to get back into the Heisman race. A big game on the biggest stage will do just that.

 

11. NFL pre-draft workout

This game should be the first choice for every NFL scout in the nation. The Gators have Tebow, Spikes, Haden, Dunlap, Hernandez, James, Cunningham, and the Pounceys to show off. 

Alabama’s bringing Cody, Daederick, McClain, Arenas, and Woodall.

McClain and Spikes are the defensive leaders, likely the first and second best players at the linebacker position, respectively. Haden and Cody are possibly the best players on each team. 

Short of bringing the 2001 Miami squad back, you’re not going to get more talent in a college football game.

 

10. Spread versus stuff

Last year, Urban’s offense got the best of Saban’s defense, but it wasn’t easy. Florida averaged just 3.4 yards per rush, never gaining more than 14 yards on a single rushing play.

Every hard yard was worth it in the end though. Every time Demps failed to get outside, every time Tebow got stuffed up the middle, every seemingly ineffective play increased the tension until finally, one got free for a 10 yard gain. It felt like an NFL playoff game.

 

9. Brandon James

I don’t know what happened during the beginning of the season, but James forgot how to run. Well, Florida’s return man has come on a bit in the last few weeks, gaining 182 punt return yards over the past five games.

Last year he averaged 24.2 yards per kickoff return and 8.3 yards per punt return. I doubt Urban will let him regress to his early 2009 form, so I’d expect similar numbers this year.

 

8. Javier Arenas

This year, the better return man clearly plays for the Tide. Last year, it was a wash—both were extremely explosive on every play. However, James has fallen far from his 2008 form, and Arenas remains the same. 

Something should be said about his confidence not leading to mouthiness, too. Greg Reid said he’d break one. Florida didn’t give him a chance, only punting once. Arenas has wisely stayed silent, allowing his impressive résumé to speak for itself. I doubt Henry will only be punting once, and Arenas will get his chance.

 

7. Power run versus 3–3–5 mega blitz

Florida has the deepest, most talented secondary in the nation. Charlie Strong realized this last year and put in the 3–3–5 package. It worked, so it became the base set.  This year, he’s taken blitzing from the nickel and turned it up to 11. This, coupled with the Gators’ all around athleticism, has led to a high-reward defense that managed to keep risk low.

Most of the risk management falls on No. 5. Haden can tackle anyone in the open field. He leads the team with 61 solo tackles, and is often left by himself while Florida sends the house. Strong trusts him to save the TD, and so far he has.

Enter the Alabama rushing attack and Mark Ingram.

Ingram leads the lead in “holy s*** he just rolled that guy!” (HSHJRTGs). He sheds defenders that hit him low or high, and if Haden doesn’t make him fall on one of his frequent left-on-the-island-alone plays, Ingram will be in the endzone before someone else catches him.

 

6. Revenge

Revenge for what, for losing one game? Nope. Revenge for a missed BCS title.

Dumb people will say, “Alabama lost to Utah. There’s no way they would have won the title last year.” I disagree with those dummies. Alabama’s hearts were broken in Atlanta. One month later, they had lost their edge and barely showed up against a hungry Utah team that felt like they deserved to be in Miami.

The result was an unexpected beat-down where Alabama never really got into the game. If the roles were reversed, the results might have remained the same. A defeated Florida squad could have done the same thing against Utah, and a perfect Alabama team might have stalled the mighty Sooners offense, outlasting them and hoisting a trophy in South Florida.

There’s no real way to know, but you should know this. Alabama believes that to be true. That’s all they need for this year.

 

5. Hits

These are the two most athletic defenses in the nation. If a quarterback sails a pass, the safeties will punish the receiver. If a running back or running quarterback goes for the extra yard, he’s getting his helmet knocked off. 

Even if the score is 3–3 after four overtimes, the game will be exciting because of all of the highlight reel hits.

 

4. Julio Jones

Even though he was more exciting last year, before teams knew that they could shut him down, he’s still a game–changer. Part of Bama’s game plan will be getting Jones involved more as a receiver than a decoy because he’s the only Tide WR who can make big plays on the Gators’ stingy defense.


3. Porous pass protection

This one’s for all of the Tebow haters. He might get rocked on Saturday. His line has allowed 28 sacks (81st in the nation). While the Gators have cleaned up a little bit since Xavier Nixon began starting at tackle, they haven’t faced a defense like Alabama.

Tebow’s going to get hit, and he might get hit hard. Those of you who like that stuff should probably hang around.

 

2. Alabama’s redemption

One game is one game. Two games is a series. If the Tide lose the big game twice to the Gators then it clears up two things. First, Urban is the better coach. There’s no other way to slice it. He’s the better big game coach, he’s better head to head, he’s just better. Sorry, Bama.

Second, it clears up how far my road trip will be in January. It’s either a 2500 mile drive or a 700 mile drive. As soon as I know, I’ll be able to plan accordingly.

 

1. It’s 12–0 No. 1 vs 12–0 No. 2

This is a BCS championship in early December. Need I say more?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Firing Willie Martinez Only Solves One Problem for the Georgia Bulldogs

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Firing Willie Martinez Only Solves One Problem for the Georgia Bulldogs  | read this item

The regular season is over. The Georgia Bulldogs ended their year with a satisfying win over their in-state rivals—the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

However, as the lights went out on Grant Field, the simmering question that has lingered all year regarding defensive coordinator, Willie Martinez, became a full boil.

No announcements have yet to be made about the embattled coache’s future, or lack thereof, with the Georgia Bulldogs but the question remains nonetheless: “Is he headed for the firing line or what?”

In my opinion, the answer to that question is less important than the potential backlash that could arise should he actually be given his walking papers.

What follows is merely speculation, not fact, just a “what if” of what could happen should ol’ Willie get the heave ho.

Begin Slideshow

Wisconsin-Hawaii: Trouble in Paradise for the Badgers?

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Wisconsin-Hawaii: Trouble in Paradise for the Badgers?  | read this item

In case anyone forgot, the Wisconsin Badgers are playing football this weekend.

And, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few Badger fans did actually forget. Hockey? Yes. Basketball? Yes. Football in early December? Really?

Not only is the Wisconsin-Hawaii match-up overshadowed by the conference championships occurring that same afternoon, but the game will also start at 10:30 p.m. local time.

However, even though the amount of people watching the broadcast may be down from the normal amount, this game still has some serious bowl implications for Wisconsin.

Coming off their discouraging loss to Northwestern, the Badgers need this game if they hope to have any momentum going into a bowl game.

With Oklahoma State’s loss to Oklahoma, either Iowa or Penn State will surely be invited to a BCS bowl, and Wisconsin is all but guaranteed a bid to the Outback Bowl if they can defeat Hawaii.

Even though their surroundings may suggest otherwise, this game will be anything but a vacation for Wisconsin.

No, the WAC Warriors are no powerhouse, but let’s not kid ourselves, neither are the Badgers.

Hawaii is averaging 24 points and nearly 500 yards a game, certainly not a good sign for Wisconsin’s reeling defense.

Quarterback Bryant Moniz leads the Warrior offense with 2,199 yards passing and 13 touchdowns, with wide receiver Greg Salas hauling in 1,559 of those yards on 103 catches.

Hawaii is only 6-6 and their offense is certainly modest when compared to the Colt Brennan- or Tommy Chang-led versions of a few years ago, but they are dangerous nonetheless.

Wisconsin’s offense shouldn’t have any problem against Hawaii, but they didn’t against Northwestern, either, and we all know how that turned out.

Add in the fact that Hawaii has won their last four games, are playing for a bowl bid, and are playing at home and it’s obvious that a repeat of Northwestern isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin still has a chance to achieve a respectable 9-3 record with a victory, so let’s just hope they don’t sleep through the game like many of their fans probably will.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Living Legend: Bobby Bowden’s Departure Leaves Huge Shoes to Fill in Tallahassee

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Living Legend: Bobby Bowden's Departure Leaves Huge Shoes to Fill in Tallahassee  | read this item

According to ESPN, Florida State Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden, one of the all-time legends of the game, is expected to retire after 33 years of coaching in Tallahassee.

With the recent struggles of the Seminoles and the inability to sustain success in recent years, it seems the game had passed Bowden by. But if indeed he does decide to step down, he is doing so maybe a little too late.

The legend is second in the FBS in wins at 388, just behind Penn State legend Joe Paterno.

But even though Bowden has had issues with lack of success, one thing he deserves more credit for than anything else is putting the Florida State football program on the map.

Since he arrived at Tallahassee in 1976, Bowden and the Seminoles have missed the postseason only three times, including a 26-year stretch of consecutive bowls with hopefully a 27th straight appearance on the way this season.

But more than anything else, Bowden will be remembered for how he and the Seminoles ruled the college football world for most of the 1990s.

When FSU joined the ACC in 1992, the ‘Noles went through an eight-year stretch where they won the ACC title and never finished with more than two losses.

In that decade, Florida State won two national championships, and had two Heisman Trophy winners in Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke.

Also, not too many coaches have put out the caliber of star NFL prospects than Bowden and the ‘Noles. Among those who hailed from Tallahassee were Derrick Brooks, Deion Sanders, Corey Simon, Warrick Dunn, and Sebastian Janikowski.

But lately, Bowden’s legacy has been tarnished with mediocrity and an inability to adjust to the current game, something fellow legend Joe Paterno has been able to do in Happy Valley.

Since 2000, Florida State has mustered only one 10-win season and has not won a BCS bowl game in that stretch.

Florida State just hasn’t been able to get the type of players they used to have in the 1990s, mostly because of Florida and Miami becoming powerhouses in different parts of the last decade and leaving the ‘Noles in the dust.

And Bowden’s schematics seem outdated as he no longer has the speed advantages in the older days, which made his man-to-man schemes so effective.

Ultimately, the difficulties in keeping up with their in-state rivals and adjusting to the game caught up with Bowden.

It’s a shame, because Bobby Bowden is Florida State football and literally gave them legitimacy the same way Pete Carroll has done in USC this decade.

But he is still one of the greatest coaches of the modern era of college football, and possibly of all time.

As Jimbo Fisher now steps in, he has as big a set of shoes as any man in recent memory to fill in the coaching ranks.

It’s tough to tell if the Seminoles can return to past glory and launch another dynasty.

But with a legend stepping aside after 33 years, 12 conference titles and two national championships is quite a stat line for the Hall of Fame coach.

With those 33 years, Bobby Bowden has been one of those coaches such as Woody Hayes and Darrell Royal, who single-handedly put their programs on the map.

The difference is how far Bowden carried the Seminoles, from four wins in the three years before he took the helm, to one of the most dominant decades in the history of college football.

Bobby Bowden may be done in Tallahassee, but his legacy, and the building of the Seminoles’ football program, will live forever.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Charlie Weis and Notre Dame: The “What If” Era

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Charlie Weis and Notre Dame: The “What If” Era  | read this item

When a coaching change comes, it’s hard not to look back (in this case, over five years) and wonder what might have been. In the case of Charlie Weis, I think it is especially apropos.

While I am sure the list I compiled is by no means all-encompassing, it’s a start:

2004 – The Coaching Staff

It would be difficult to start in any other place. Weis took the job after a lengthy search by then AD Kevin White, and by all accounts wasn’t at or near the top of anyone’s wish list. Guiding the New England Patriot offense to a third Super Bowl title in four seasons, Weis was forced to assemble his staff hastily on top of his prior job commitments. Proclaimed as an “exceptional, talented and experienced group of assistant coaches ” one has to wonder about if Weis had more time to assemble his initial staff, where the team (and program) would be today.

A few notables:

David Cutcliffe, Assistant Head Coach (offense) and quarterbacks coach. Known as the guy who coached the Manning brothers, he resigned due to health issues in June 2005. He was replaced by Peter Vaas.

Rick Minter, defensive coordinator. Not much that needs to be said here other than the defense was the weak link during the 2005 Irish season, which would become a recurring theme during the Weis era.

Of the original nine assistant coaches hired by Weis in January 2005, only three would survive his five year tenure (Rob Ianello, Bernie Parmalee, and Brian Polian).

 

2005 Recruiting Class

In the wake of the Willingham dismissal, Weis was left to pick up the pieces of a nonexistent recruiting class. Signing only 15 players, the lack of depth would become evident during the 2007 season, as the team was missing key upper class leadership. What if Ty had put in a bit more effort in recruiting and left Weis with a bit more than six verbal commits at his departure?

 

2005 Regular Season

One has to wonder about the 2005 season, one that was probably the best overall during the Weis era. With only two regular season losses by a total of six points (one coming in overtime to Michigan State and the other on the “Bush Push” against USC), Weis looked to have the Irish headed for the pinnacle of the college football world.

What if the Irish pulled out the victory over the Spartans after rallying from 14 back in the fourth quarter? What if Matt Leinart didn’t complete the 4th-and-9 pass? How would that team have matched-up with Texas?

 

2006 Regular Season

After transforming an average offense to record setting, the 2006 season started with sky-high expectations. After an early season blowout loss at home to Michigan, expectations were tempered somewhat. With holes appearing in the defense, along with a lack in overall team speed, Irish fans were forced to sit through more close wins (Georgia Tech, Michigan State, and UCLA) then was comfortable. What if this team had a few more difference makers? What if the proverbial cupboard wasn’t so bare?

 

2007 Regular Season

I would prefer to believe that the 2007 season never happened. Fielding a roster with only 24 scholarship seniors and juniors (the aforementioned 2005 recruiting class), too many underclassmen were forced into service before they were ready.

Preseason predictions placed the Irish somewhere around .500, with anything less beyond the worst nightmares of Irish fans everywhere. The offense couldn’t move the ball (starting three different QBs), and the defense was struggling with a change in identity (the new 3-4 defense brought in by Corwin Brown).

What if this team had additional junior/senior support (especially on the OL)? What if Weis brought in a different DC? What if Darius Walker hadn’t left a year early for the NFL draft (and consequently went undrafted)? What if Demetrius Jones didn’t fumble on the first possession in the opener vs. Georgia Tech?

 

2008 Regular Season

The 2008 season is where a lot of the big questions about the Weis era began to emerge. For the most part, following back-to-back BCS berths fans were willing to concede the 2007 season as a rebuilding year.

After an all-too-close opening win over San Diego State, the Irish seemed to be heading in the right direction with a 4-2 start (including a come-from-ahead loss at North Carolina). Finishing the regular season at 6-6, rumors started to circulate about Weis being fired.

You have to wonder about what would have happened had the Irish held on to double digit leads over NC, Pitt and Syracuse? What if CW brought in new line coaches a year earlier and had an actual running game? What if Jimmy Clausen took better care of the football, especially against Boston College and USC, instead of throwing 17 INTs?

 

2009 Regular Season

Simply put, there are a lot of scenarios that could have played out during this season. In each of the six losses (and four wins), you can go back to a few plays and wonder about them going a different way.

What if the kickoff team hadn’t allowed two kickoff returns for TDs (vs. Michigan and Connecticut)? What if the defense stepped up and made a play or two (vs. Navy and Stanford)? What if the offense made one more play or avoided key penalties (vs. Michigan, USC, and Pitt)? In the wins, they were one play away from losing to Washington, BC, Michigan State, and Purdue. What if one of those plays went the other way?

 

Overall

The biggest question one has to ask themselves about the Weis era is pretty simple—what if he had a defense to go with the record setting offenses? Ultimately, we will never know how that would have played out.

It’s never a good thing when someone loses their job. There should be no joy taken in that, regardless of how you feel the program was run over the past five seasons. The guys at BlueGraySky said it better than I possibly could in their Thank You to Coach Weis . I echo their comments and know that he will have no shortage in job offers in the coming weeks (including possibly being reunited with Brady Quinn in Cleveland, or elsewhere).

Thank you Coach Weis for your tireless work and leaving the program in a better place than you found it. Your true contribution may never fully be realized, but this Irish fan will try not to forget that you brought the program from life support to a place with a brighter future than five years ago. It’s just hard not to wonder what if…

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Monday Thoughts: Virginia Tech-Virginia

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Monday Thoughts: Virginia Tech-Virginia  | read this item

 

Another battle for the Commonwealth Cup, another victory for the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Tech used its dominating rushing attack to subdue arch-rival Virginia and ultimately ran away with the contest posting a 42-13 victory over the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, VA.

The game was, as many had speculated, the last of the Al Groh era at Virginia.

Groh’s last immortal act came at his final press conference.  When asked about his job status he responded by reading a poem often given to recovering substance abusers and people with low self-esteem.

Groh’s 1-8 record against the Hokies certainly didn’t help his case to keep his job, and next year when the two schools meet, Tech will have had continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup for over 2,000 straight days.

Hokies everywhere are sorry to see Al Groh leave, and that about sums up how bad he’s been.

Tech has dominated recruiting in the Commonwealth during the Groh era, and that has led to the very different directions of the two programs.

As for the game itself, the Hokies are starting to play like a broken record.

Incomparable redshirt freshman Ryan Williams impressed yet again, carrying 24 times for 185 yards and four touchdowns.

It was the second consecutive week with four rushing touchdowns for Williams who earned ACC Rookie of the week for the seventh time this season.

With 1,538 yards, Williams needs just 110 yards in the Hokies’ bowl game to surpass the school record for rushing yards in a season set by Kevin Jones’ 1,647 in 2003.

The Hokie defense forced two Virginia fumbles and allowed no points and just 76 yards in the second half.

Sophomore wide receiver Danny Coale had the best game of his young career, hauling in six catches for 135 yards.

Coale made several acrobatic adjustments on the ball in the air and made the catch of the day on the sideline just dragging a toe while falling out of bounds.

This group of receivers has really stepped up this season, averaging 17.2 yards per catch, their highest average since 1999.

The Hokies will now wait to find out what bowl they will end up in with the most likely option at this point being the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta against an SEC opponent.

That would have the ACC champion going to the BCS, and the loser of Clemson-Georgia Tech headed to the Gator Bowl.

Interestingly enough, with the Georgia Tech’s loss to Georgia last weekend, the Hokies are once again the ACC’s highest ranked team at No. 11.

 

 

 

 

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Tennessee Vols Football: An ’09 Retrospective of Ups vs. Downs

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Tennessee Vols Football: An '09 Retrospective of Ups vs. Downs  | read this item

I personally cannot remember a season that featured more ups and downs than the one that the Tennessee Vols and coach Lane Kiffin just completed.

Some might say ’01 compared slightly. That’s partially true. From the heartbreak of the last minute loss to Georgia to the ecstasy of defeating Florida in the swamp back down to the depths of despair in losing to LSU in the SEC title game.

As rough a ride as that season was, I have to say that this one has been even more-so. I think having a rookie head coach take over for a living legend has as much to do with that as anything.

The ’09 season brought with it anticipation like Vols fans had not seen in nearly a decade. There were other seasons that Tennessee was ranked highly and hyped even higher, but even those pale in comparison to the “Lane Train’s” inaugural ride around the SEC.

Many of us knew coming in to this season that the coaching change was not about this season. ’09 was to be just the first step in a hopeful championship odyssey.

With eight games at home, I felt that the Vols would finish 8-4. Seven wins would be acceptible and should be considered a step in the right direction.

The Vols finished with seven wins and looked better through much of that process.

And a process it was.

Vols fans were giddy with the season opening win over Western Kentucky. Forget that Western Kentucky is in it’s first official season in the FBS. Forget that many of their players would not make it on most FBS rosters.

Scoring 63 points in their first game after last season’s miserable offensive showing was something to be proud of.

That was true until UCLA came to Knoxville. “It’s time for revenge” I wrote. UCLA never should have won the Labor Day matchup in ’08—this time the Lane Train was going to get them. Wrong. The Vols lost 19-15 and Jonathan Crompton looked every bit like the Jonathan Crompton of ’08.

Score one for the Up’s and one for the Down’s.

The next week was the annual grudge match with Florida. This time it was supposed to be a complete and utter dismantling of all that Lane Kiffin and the Vols had worked for. Wrong.

Tennessee kept it close for much of the game and brought it to within 10 in the final minutes. Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer didn’t get their wish of putting up 60. I was pleased with the moral victory when compared to the loss to UCLA the week before.

I consider this one a half-point each for team Up and team Down. That’s 1.5 to 1.5.

Ohio payed a visit to Neyland stadium the following week and the Vols looked pretty much atrocious throughout the game. There were issues on special teams and the offense struggled to get going all night long. But a win is a win.

Another half-point each for Up and Down.

Auburn came next. The game started quite positively for Tennessee when Nu’Keese Richardson took off on the first play of the game for a 40-yard run out of the Nu’Gun package (A package that wouldn’t rear it’s ugly head until a few weeks later at a Knoxville gas station).

The Vols would eventually miss a field goal on that drive, the first of many future problems with the kicking game, and Auburn took off.

Crompton again looked terrible in that first half. However, once he was utilized in the hurry up offense late in the third quarter, Crompton actually started to look like a quarterback.

Auburn won 26-22 in a score that was actually closer than the game really was.

Score one for the Down’s and a half-point for the Up’s based on the Vols fourth quarter performance. Down’s lead 3-2.5.  

The hated Georgia Bulldogs came to town the following week. The game featured a couple of the up’s and down’s in the first half as Tennessee allowed a kickoff return. That was all erased, however, when Jonathan Crompton playaction passed his way to Lane Kiffin’s first SEC win. Tennessee won 45-19 and Vols fans were giddy again.

Score 1.5 for the Up’s. Up’s lead 4-3 after five games.

 

Then came the annual Alabama rivalry. The Tide was ranked No. 1 at the time and Tennessee was a 17-point underdog.

Tennessee held the Tide out of the endzone all day. The Vols would force a late fumble, the first in Mark Ingram’s career, and would drive for a last minute touchdown to make the score 12-10.

Then the Vols got the onside kick. Jonathan Crompton would put the Vols into position for the gamewinning field goal with three seconds remaining. A 44-yard attempt was all the seperated the Vols and instant respect for their new coach and the program. Unfortunately Terrance Cody had other plans.

The blocked field goal took this from a definite Up to a resounding Down.

5-4 Down’s take the lead.  

Sitting at 3-4 after losing to the No. 1 team in the country on a blocked field goal the Vols could have packed it in. With No. 24 South Carolina coming, however, they found more resolve than we fans could have imagined.

Tennessee forced three first half turnovers en route to a 31-13 blowout. The worst beating a Steve Spurrier-coached team had received at the hands of the Vols.

Score two for the Up’s. 6-5 Up’s lead.

The next week was homecoming versus Memphis. The game was over by halftime. Tennessee won 56-28. Score another for the Up’s, 7-5.

At this exact point many, including myself, declared the Vols the hottest team in the SEC. Florida and Alabama were scraping by their opponents. Tennessee had just beaten two respected SEC opponents by a combined 44 points and played No. 1 ‘Bama to within it’s final breath.

Next came the biggest down of the season. Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards decided to create their own “Nu’gun” experience by holding up three men in a gas station parking lot in Knoxville with a pellet gun.

Janzen Jackson was there, but was apparently oblivious to the attempted armed robbery as he was inside the store at the time.

All three were charged and booked for a night in jail. The charges against Jackson were later dropped, but the other two were kicked off the team.

Score a two-spot for the Down’s. 7-7.

Of course that incident happened roughly 50 hours prior to a visit to Ole Miss. The Vols got McClustered to death in Oxford. The team wasn’t even close to ready and the issue just days before clearly had it’s effect in the 42-17 beatdown.

Two more point for the Down’s.

Thankfully time heals most wounds—even the incredibly stupid one’s. Vanderbilt came to town and did their annual job of padding the Vols stats and win column.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the season came as the game was winding down. Senior DE Wes Brown intercepted a Vanderbilt pass and rumbled into the endzone on his two weak and hobbled knees for his first and only collegiate touchdown.

Score two for the Up’s not only because of the win, but the added bonus that the win brought bowl eligibility. 8-8 tie.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving weekend.

Kentucky, fresh off it’s first win over the ‘Dawgs in Athens in over 30 years, was primed and ready to stop the Vols 24-year win streak over the Big Blue. The rabid fans and the team was hyped and ready to go.

The Vols survived the first half and dominated the second half. Still as the Vols were trying to salt away the clock, TE Luke Stocker fumbled in Kentucky territory to set up the gametying, overtime forcing field goal.

Tennessee’s defense would not be denied and forced a missed field goal on Kentucky’s first OT possession. Tennessee would score a touchdown six plays later to continue the streak and improve the Vols final record to 7-5.

Score two big one’s for the Up’s.

The Up’s have it 10-8 for ’09.

When changing coaches and forging a new identity for a program having more up’s than down’s, or more wins than losses, is never a bad thing. If you don’t believe me just talk to a Michigan fan for about five minutes. Your opinion will change.

’09 was supposed to be the first step, the foundation, of a building process. After 12 games I’d say mission accomplished.

Still, a 13th game remains. Where it will be played and against whom is anyone’s guess at this point. The Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin or Northwestern; the Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma State; and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl vs. Virginia Tech are all very real possibilities.

No matter who the final opponent or where the final venue of ’09 is the first step will still be complete and it will still be considered a success.

 

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Darrelle Revis Offers Reason To Watch Jets

Published on: 30th November, 2009

Darrelle Revis Offers Reason To Watch Jets  | read this item

Jake Delhomme knew he was in for a long day yesterday afternoon with Darrelle Revis waiting to receive an interception from Delhomme.

Delhomme throws interceptions to cornerbacks going back to a horrible performance against the Cardinals in the playoffs last year at home. To this day, he can’t cure his interception woes.

Yesterday, Delhomme continued his frustrating season by throwing four interceptions with two to Jets’ beleaguered safety Kerry Rhodes, and two to Revis. With Rhodes, it’s news since he has been terrible all year, yet with Revis, it’s expected.

This shows the type of year Revis is having when everyone looks at his work as ho-hum.

When one looks at the Jets’ roster, when it comes to having a Pro Bowl player, Revis should stand out. It’s a good bet he will be playing in Miami this year.

Revis not only has four interceptions, but he shut down the other team’s best receivers by forcing incompletions, or missed passes.

Randy Moss can attest to that, even he publicly denies it.

Even if the wide receiver catches the ball, he rarely breaks out with the Jets cornerback shadowing him.

Revis proved he can be a playmaker too by running for touchdown, as he demonstrated yesterday.

He is simply exciting to watch, and he is a player that the team can build around.

What’s amazing about him is that he keeps his mouth shut, and lets his play do the talking. That’s how a player gets it done.

Rhodes and Bart Scott should take notice to Revis’ approach.

Scott likes to talk about how being a trash-talker raises a player’s intensity. That’s a bunch of hogwash even if it suits Scott well in his career.

If a player needs to talk to create attention and be a good player, one wonders how good he is.

Revis shows he can get it done by being a meticulous in his preparation and pushing himself well in practice everyday. He is a football player.

He has a great knack of knowing where to read the ball, and that’s something no one can teach.

His teams stinks, but since he plays in a major market, this should help his chances of not just being a Pro Bowl player but being a Defensive Player of the Year.

We all look to like at some bright spots of a lost cause of a season, and it’s hard to do most of the time.

In this case, Revis proves it’s easy to find something to be excited about.

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How Long Before Al Groh Reports To Marshall Campus?

Published on: 30th November, 2009

How Long Before Al Groh Reports To Marshall Campus?  | read this item

With a great deal of class, Marshall University head football coach, Mark Snyder, has resigned. 

When will the school announce the hiring of Al Groh?

Though Groh was not as successful as he would have liked to have been, or the University of Virginia would have liked him to have been, he is not a bad coach.

Groh has nearly 40 years of coaching experience including 13 years in the NFL—head coach of the New York Jets, 2000—and 27 years among the college ranks.

During this time Groh also served as offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, as well as linebacker coach for various teams in the NFL and college.

Groh has a Super Bowl ring from his days with the New York Giants and was named ACC coach of the year in ’00 and ’07.

The Thundering Herd of Marshall will look for a new head coach with all hopes of snagging one that can not only win ballgames, but recruit and promote academic excellence as well.

Bob Pruett was the Herd’s head coach from ’96-’00.

In 2008 Pruett came out of retirement to become defensive coordinator for the Virginia Cavaliers, under head coach Al Groh.

Pruett and Groh are close friends. 

Pruett is also still involved with the Marshall football program.

In my estimate, Pruett has already been hounding both the athletic department at Marshall and Al Groh, in hopes of seeing the former Wahoo’s head guy continue his success with the Herd.

Just wait and see if Groh’s name is not the topic of conversation in Huntington.

If not, I’m sure the Herd fans would be satisfied with Bobby Pruett making a comeback.

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