Monday, December 28, 2009

Urban Resigns Then Returns Then Takes Sabbatical

This Urban Meyer situation has become quite confusing and actually pretty shady. If you’ve been eating too much turkey and lost in the Holiday spirit, let me give you a quick rundown…

University of Florida head football coach, Urban Meyer, resigned the day after Christmas, citing “health reasons” as well as “wanting to spend more time with family.” Meyer was admitted to a hospital after the SEC Championship game, suffering from chest pains, but was released with the diagnosis of “dehydration,” which most people thought was fishy. Now, it comes out that Meyer has a faulty heart valve. It’s completely non-life threatening and is more of a scary annoyance than anything else. After some research and talking to a few health professionals, I’m under the assumption that the symptoms are almost exactly the same as anxiety attacks.

In a world surrounded by tabloid, trash media and rumors that spread like wildfire, why has this never come out before? Meyer says he has had this condition for a long time, yet this is the first any of us are hearing of it. Maybe Meyer had a massive panic attack after the SEC Title game and it terrified him. Perhaps he didn’t want the media to know that he suffers from anxiety, so he kindly asks the doctors to say it’s dehydration. I’m not trying to instigate garbage. I’d like to know the honest truth and we’re clearly not receiving that information.

So, Urban resigns after talking it over with his family. This is obviously something that takes weeks to consider and no one wants to come to a resolution without careful thought and peace of mind. There has to be plenty of soul-searching and discussion for Meyer to consider the conclusion he decided on, which, at the time, was to step down as the Florida head coach. What made him change his mind and why was it done so hastily?

Apparently, Meyer had an epiphany when he stepped out onto the practice field Sunday morning and weeks of consideration and chatting with his family, whom he wanted to spend more time with, is now vaporized. Urban has decided he needs a break from the coaching gig because it’s too “stressful” on his life, which furthers my speculation that he suffers from anxiety, but he will eventually return to head coaching duties on a later date. This leads me to my, “Why he changed his mind…again” theory: Recruiting.

This is the time of year where schools are running mad getting their commitments locked up and in order. According to my sources, multiple UF commitments, including the State of Florida’s top athlete, and arguably the top recruit in the nation, Matt Elam, opened their recruitment process back up after hearing the Urban Meyer news. This has to make UF athletic director, Jeremy Foley, unhappy, and I bet a conversation between the two went something like this:

Foley: Urban? Hey, is Jeremy. How’re you feeling?

Meyer: Pretty good. I’m really sorry to have to do this to the university, but I really do need to get my health in order.

Foley: Yeah, about that…it’s not life threatening, correct?

Meyer: Well, no, but…

Foley: See, I hear that some of our solid commitments are looking elsewhere because of this debacle, uh, announcement and we just can’t have top talent looking at rival schools. Understand?

Meyer: Jeremy…

Foley: Call me, “Mr. Foley.”

Meyer: Um, Mr. Foley, I’ve already discussed this with my family and I need time away to get my health in order.

Foley: Yeah, I’m going to need you to come in on Sunday…that’ll be great.

Hopefully some of you get the joke, but it is odd that Meyer seemed pretty content with his decision to resign, but had a quick change of heart, even after one of his daughters was quoted as, “Happy to have her father back.” Has to be pretty tough to turn your back on that. Now that Meyer has announced he’ll be back, the commitments appear to be firm again.

Whatever his situation and condition is, I truly hope it’s resolved and cared for. I wish Urban Meyer and his family the best. He and Pete Carroll are definitely this decade’s best coaches and have put out the most dominating teams, by far. There’s no doubt in my mind that Meyer will return to the game and pick up his Hall of Fame career where it left off, but I hope he does it on his terms and not someone else’s.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Mark Stoops The Right Hire?

The Florida State Seminoles had a lot of coaching holes to fill when Mickey Andrews decided to step down from his defensive coordinator duties after 26 seasons in Tallahassee. With Jimbo Fisher taking full reigns of the FSU staff, the future head coach hired former University of Arizona defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops.

Stoops certainly has the experience working with some great defensive minds over his college-coaching career. Stoops coached defensive backs under head coach, Jim Leavitt at South Florida in 1997 and served under Randy Shannon, while Shannon was the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami, from 2001 to 2003. Stoops developed greats such as Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph, and Ed Reed. He also has the pedigree being the brother of Oklahoma head coach, Bob Stoops, as well as Arizona head coach, Mike Stoops. But is Mark Stoops truly what the Seminoles need to revitalize a lagging defense?

The defensive side of the ball was a Florida State staple for many years. Teams took close notice of FSU’s fast-paced, all out blitz style defensive schemes that rendered opposing quarterbacks paralyzed with fear. Today’s offensive linemen are too athletic and wide receivers are too speedy for this strategy to work anymore. The spread offense, which is designed to confuse defenses and get the ball out as quickly as possible, annihilates this form of old-school “bump and run.” Stoops pilots a “bend don’t break” version of the zone system, similar to what Monte Kiffin runs in Tennessee. This ought to keep opposing offenses from throwing 50 yards down field past the safeties, something FSU defenders did on a weekly basis.

We have to look at Stoops body of work while he was at Arizona the past few seasons. I’ll give him credit that he’s coming from an offensive-minded conference in the Pac-10 and he fared very well, having a top 20 defense the past two seasons, although his scoring defense was ranked 46th in ‘09. How did he do against teams that run the Spread Option? I ask because folks in Tallahassee are tired of losing to the hated Gators and Stoops will be judged almost solely on what he does against the boys from Gainesville. I know it doesn’t sound fair, but FSU’s defense was atrocious last season. They compete in the ACC where they came very close to playing for a conference championship with zero cover. I have no doubt Stoops will make the ‘Noles defense better because it couldn’t get any worse, but against Florida is where he’s going to make his money.

Oregon plays nearly the exact same style of offense the Gators play. In 2009 against Oregon at home, Stoops’ defense allowed 31 points in regulation (Arizona lost in overtime) and 459 total yards of offense. It isn’t any better in ‘08, allowing 508 yards of total offense and 48 points (Oregon scored 55 points, but one of the Ducks’ touchdowns was a pick 6) while in Eugene. This shouldn’t strike FSU fans with confidence and I’m sure Gator fan is smiling knowing that seven in a row is almost a sure thing.

The old adage, “time will tell” fits perfectly in this situation whether Stoops is the right hire or not. Personally, I think he’ll be a guy that’s on Florida States staff for a couple of season then bolts for a head coaching gig and I certainly cannot fault him for it. For the sake of FSU fans, I hope Jimbo knows what he’s doing. He’s already going to be under a very condensed microscope this upcoming season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Leavitt Cleared

University of South Florida head coach, Jim Leavitt, has been cleared of allegations to choking and striking sophomore walk-on special teams player, Joel Miller. Per the St. Pete Times, Miller said, “I don't think anything should happen to him. Me and Coach Leavitt are fine. People can say different things, but he only grabbed my shoulder pads to motivate me because he's a passionate guy. He never apologized because he had nothing to apologize for.”

Who’s at fault here? A few days ago, the local media was ready to crucify Leavitt and now it comes out that he never assaulted Miller. Something seemed fishy from the get go. How in the world does something like this happen with no credible witnesses?

Miller also said that his interview with, who first broke the story, took his words out of context. Miller told USF investigators that Leavitt only grabbed him. Fanhouse has been involved in bogus stories in the past and I’m not surprised to see the same thing happening here.

Leavitt has said few words regarding the alleged altercation and wants to move on from it. I honestly feel bad for Miller who now has to answer questions about the conflicting stories floating around. I’d like to hear from his teammates. Do they have his back? Is this something they all just want to forget and move on with? What about Miller? Will he stay at USF? Is he being harassed or are people patting him on the back saying, “It’s okay?”

I’m glad the situation has been cleared up some and there are a few loose ends yet to tie, but I imagine those will be straightened within a day or so.

Top 1% Of 1%?

Recruiting season is in full swing and it looks like Florida, Florida State, Miami, and South Florida are all shaping up to once again have excellent classes. Every year there are student-athletes who become ineligible because of grades or other outside influences/circumstances. Will this season be any different?

I’m not sure if this will affect there chances of entering UF, but these pictures of highly touted defensive lineman, Leon Orr and Lynden Trail, have to make college football fans wonder, “What in the world is Urban Meyer doing?”

The Gators have been plagued with arrests since Meyer took over in ’05 and rival fans love to remind the Florida head coach about his, “Top 1% of 1%” comment, which was seriously a stupid, stupid remark. This season has not been without its lack of drama for the Gators with senior linebacker, Brandon Spikes, eye gouging a Georgia running back, as well as junior defensive end, Carlos Dunlap, getting himself suspended for the SEC Championship game for suspicion of DUI.

Before Gator fan jumps on me and says FSU and Miami were recruiting these kids too:

1. I’m impartial and could care less if they did because I’m just throwing out my opinion and…

2. Not according to my sources. Both schools eased up on their recruitment way before these pictures surfaced. I’m pretty sure it had little to do with character issues and more to do with them being pretty firm on UF.

For the sake of these kids, I honestly hope that the pictures are just a joke. I would never wish ill will on any child and I seriously expect nothing, but good things to come for these guys in the future. Still, it has to make you wonder where Meyer’s head is?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Did Leavitt Attack A Player?

I’m sure most of us have heard by now about University of South Florida Head Coach, Jim Leavitt, allegedly accosting one of his players during halftime of the Louisville game a few weeks back. According to sources, Leavitt grabbed and choked sophomore walk-on, Joel Miller, due to a couple of mistakes Miller made on special teams, one of which the sophomore was flagged for. Leavitt then struck the young man twice.

These are serious allegations considering the investigation that took place at Kansas that cost Mark Mangino his head coaching job. Ironically enough, Mangino and Leavitt were both assistants together at Kansas State.

I’m not exactly sure what to believe and I’m certainly not going to pass judgment until all of the facts are present, but there’s definitely a ton of smoke to waft through. Leavitt refuses to comment on the claims and says he’ll only talk about recruiting, not the alleged incident.

Miller proclaims five witnesses and an unnamed source has been interviewed on the situation, but there are still many facets that do not make sense. Like, why did Miller come forward about the incident nearly three weeks later? Miller says it’s because he was afraid that if he approached Leavitt about the episode, Leavitt would bench him, or worse, kick him off of the team. Also, this is a pretty unique circumstance and the story acknowledges that it happened in the locker room at halftime, so why are there only five witnesses and not eighty? This is a major event and you’d think an assistant coach or teammate would’ve tried and pull Leavitt off of Miller if this was true.

It has been documented that Leavitt called Miller into his office after Mangino resigned from Kansas stemming from the live television broadcast of the former Kansas head coach assaulting a player. No one knows what was said, but it’s pretty ironic Leavitt wanted to speak with his player after his old coaching mate was under heavy scrutiny for a similar situation. Problem is, the Mangino hit is a youtube sensation, while Leavitt’s alleged strike happened behind closed doors.

In the court of public opinion, Jim Leavitt is already seen as a “bad guy.” We’ve all seen his tantrum’s on the sidelines. Yelling at his players, grabbing their facemasks, scowling, and making his presence known through intimidation, but we can’t judge him on those exploits alone. There will obviously be an internal investigation and USF better do a perfect job because if the NCAA isn’t happy with South Florida’s findings they’ll inject themselves in the investigation and that is the last thing the University needs, especially now when it’s a crucial time in football recruiting. The school also doesn’t want to screw anything up, potentially costing an innocent man his career as well as even being considered for future jobs.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ESPN’s OTL Story On FSU A Joke

I’m trying to figure out when the four-letter network sailed away from compelling sports journalism to pit bull-like, shady gossip columns. We’ve seen the recent events with Tiger Woods and it’s become a witch-hunt and a soap opera lovers dream. Rich, handsome sports figure allegedly having an affair with multiple women while his super model wife slaves all day over a hot stove and tends to the children. All we’re missing now is for someone to say to Tiger, “I’m your long lost half-sister” and then a patron from Tiger’s past mysteriously returns to his life with a case of amnesia. It’s totally daytime television and only a person with a marginal IQ gets sucked into the drama.

I’m not here to talk about Woods or his thirty mistresses…allegedly. I’m here to talk about that appalling OTL piece on the state of affairs at Florida State University. What a serious load of garbage that bit of so-called “journalism” was. To say that there isn’t an obvious agenda against the University and it’s employees is laughable.

First off, I’d like to know whom the Mensa member was that actually thought former Florida State wide receiver, Fred Rouse, was a credible source? For those of you who aren’t sure who Rouse is, I’ll give you a quick 411: Fred Rouse was a highly recruited receiver coming out of Tallahassee Lincoln. He signed his letter of intent to play at Florida State and was kicked off the team towards the end of the ’05 season for supposedly failing drug tests as well as the ever so vague, “conduct detrimental to the team.” Maybe a few weeks after his departure from the university, Rouse, and another former teammate, broke into Lorenzo Booker’s apartment and stole multiple items, including electronic equipment. He later transferred to the University of Texas-El Paso where he left the team due to “personal” reasons and now plays at some college no one cares about. This guy? This is OTL’s reliable, credible source? Once again, people with a marginal IQ will buy it while snacking on bonbons.

And to make it even funnier, Rouse attacked former FSU cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, saying, and I paraphrase, He could barely read. According to Pro Football Talk, Cromartie’s agent isn’t too pleased with the segment and how his client is being portrayed and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a lawsuit filed against the four-letter network. Not like it would matter with their room full of lawyers. Gary Wichard, Cromartie’s agent, says he never commented for the OTL story, but the piece features a negative quote from the longtime agent. The “he said, she said” battle will ensue and this will get ugly.

Their “other” plausible source is a disgruntled ex-employee. What, Paula Jones wasn’t available for comment? She would’ve been just as dependable. When is a disgruntled, former hireling ever going to talk nice about their onetime employer, especially when they leave on bad terms? Brenda Monk and her comments, in my opinion, are off base and personally meant to be malicious with shady facts and a sketchy timeline. Yeah, I do my research. That’s good journalism? Finding someone who loathes their old boss and wants to take pot shots? But it gets better…

The one conducting the story is a University of Florida grad, and before you think that has nothing to do with anything you’re wrong. Throwing haymakers at your school’s rival, especially when they’re seen in a bad light like they are now with the Bowden situation as well as the academic scandal, is what a journalist hopes to one day accomplish. Is there a personal vendetta? No, but you think the reporter is going to turn down an opportunity like that? I don’t fault the guy. He did an excellent job. It was Star worthy and scummy, but brilliant.

To say these things don’t happen at every school is a joke. They do. I personally have friends, while receiving their Master’s Degrees at prominent universities, told me that they gave test answers to the football and basketball players. I have friends that have received test answers from student-athletes that were given the exams prior to finals that their tutors handed them. You can be blind and think up any silly story that comes to mind, but this is a blatant act to kick someone while they’re down.

I’m not one to believe blab.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Does Tim Deserve To Be Criticized?

Tim Tebow has taken much notice over his four-year career at the University of Florida. He was a celebrity even before he stepped on campus. Tim was one of the most sought after high school athletes of all-time and signed his letter of intent with a team that was on the rise. Florida fans were getting tired of the Chris Leak project and most knew that Tebow fit Urban Meyer’s spread offense to the T, making for a much anticipated debut for the then freshman quarterback. Although he wasn’t considered the starter during the ’06 National Championship season, Tim had an integral role that helped the Gators achieve number 1 status.

Tim gives and contributes his time and efforts to the community and is a devout Christian. He goes over seas and participates in missionary work as well as other charitable events. He has been part of multiple academic awards teams for his stellar work in the classroom. He has been extremely successful in the college football world, winning two National Titles and a Heisman trophy. Tim plays the game the right way…full tilt and hard-nosed.

So, why is Tim Tebow hated amongst rivals and even the casual football fan? Two reasons: everyone despises the winner/good guy and the four-letter network built him up as a deity and no one likes the same material rehashed and shoved down their throats. Then why did the “World Wide Leader” take a shot at his sideline show of emotion after the SEC Championship loss?

I’m not here to rip the kid. I honestly believe he is one of the greatest college athletes to play the game and that he’ll go down in history as a top 5 collegiate quarterback. I’m taking the Devil’s Advocate position. Now, ask yourself, are Tim Tebow’s tears genuine? I ask because we have seen him do it on multiple occasions and he does it every time after a loss. Are they for show? Has he bought into his own celebrity and is he trying to exploit himself in this ever organically growing heroic tale? When is it heart felt and bona fide and when is it just being a crybaby?

We’ve seen over the years, and even recently, famous players in all sports cry on national television. Allen Iverson did it in his return to the Philadelphia 76ers. Terrell Owens has done it after a playoff loss, while defending his quarterback. Why were their tears seen as authentic and received little, if any, criticism?

The four-letter network took their shots at Tebow because they’ve now taken he stance of the “hater.” They’re trying to stir up controversy so we all have something to chat about until the bowl season arrives. If Timmy loses to Cincinnati and cries again, they’ll go ahead and have a, “We told you so…we were right” segment and justify their malicious notion. If Tim goes out on a high note, which I expect he will, the pundits will quickly change positions and return to the mythological saga again.

Gator fans should rejoice in this spotlight. At least you’re being talked about. It could be worse. You could be Miami and then no one really cares.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Bama Dominates Florida

The Crimson Tide faithful stuck around the Georgia Dome and watched their players celebrate a dominating victory over the then #1 Florida Gators. Chants, mock chomps, and crimson flags flew high as the Tide won 32-13 in front of a packed arena.

No matter how Gator fan wants to spin it, it was a beat down. Urban Meyer was out-coached. Tim Tebow was out-played. And Florida’s legendary defense was out-matched. I keep hearing this obnoxious saying from the UF following, “The better team lost.” I’ve got news for you: the better team never loses.

Let’s start with the offense. I’m not sure what Addazio, Florida’s offensive coordinator, was thinking. Down 26-13 in the second half, Florida completely abandoned the run. That shows me Meyer and company coached scared and felt the need to play the “catch up” game even though they were down by two possessions. UF has three stud running backs, not including Tebow, and they were absolutely underutilized. Even if ‘Bama stops Rainey for a one yard gain on multiple chances, Florida has to continue to try and pound the ball to wear their defense out. The Tide’s D was fresh all game, while the Gator’s looked gassed.

Before the game even started, we all knew ‘Bama was going to try and make Tebow uncomfortable by blitzing him, et cetera, but he was never really pressured. Instead, Alabama’s defense kept him in the pocket and I saw a troubled QB unable to get the ball to the receivers he wanted to. Tim’s a much better quarterback out of the pocket and Saban’s defense was very well-disciplined by keeping Tebow from getting outside.

Florida’s receivers once again did not help Tim at all. I said it from the very 1st game of the season: If the wide outs didn’t correct their dropping problem, it was going to become an epidemic for the rest of the season. We all saw the results.

Now on to Florida’s defense. Ingram tore UF’s defense apart, both rushing and receiving. ‘Bama had the ball for 2/3rd’s of the game. Their offense was going to hold onto the ball, kill clock, and not allow UF’s offense to get on the field to get into any kind of rhythm. Greg McElroy surprised me with his poise and composure. He looked like a man on a mission, carving UF’s stout secondary for 239 passing yards. He doesn’t get those stats without the game’s MVP, Mark Ingram, who rushed for 113 yards and also had 76 receiving. I personally think that seals the Heisman for the kid, but that’s a topic for another day.

Like I said earlier, Florida’s defense looked tired. In the second half, they were uncharacteristically missing tackles and getting blown into the backfield by ‘Bama’s offensive linemen. I watched Tide’s center, Williams Vlachos, own Brandon Spikes on many occasions. Would a Carlos Dunlap have helped in this situation? No. Alabama was never in a spot where they had to throw the ball. The Tide just ran it down the Gator’s throats, and, although Dunlap is a phenomenal player, he isn’t as stout in the run game as he is the passing game. Was it a distraction? Maybe, but Charlie Strong, Florida’s defensive coordinator, needs to make sure his men are focused and prepared to play. They weren’t and we see what happens. I’m not placing the blame on Strong at all, but his second half adjustments were horrible. I think Strong talking to Virginia and Louisville was more of a distraction to UF’s defense than Dunlap was, but I digress…

Be proud, Gator fans. You had an incredible run and you’ll arguably be considered for the “Team of the Decade” award come season’s end. Hold your heads high because your team accomplished something few have. Quit with the baby excuses and get ready for Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. Good luck!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mark May And Lou Holtz Are Morons

The Bobby Bowden situation has escalated exponentially. Everyone has their opinions and in no way will I judge what someone has to say, even if it is the most brainless crap I have ever heard. *coughFSUhaterscough*

I've been listening to sports talk radio, the four letter network, as well as other sports media outlets and the consensus is Florida State dropped the ball big on Bowden. Not so much for him being "forced" out the door, but the way the situation was handled.

I'm still trying to figure out what Jim Smith said that most FSU fans weren't already thinking. He actually had the guts to say it because he loves the university. He's supposed to keep quiet and allow Bowden to destroy the program? Are we, as fans and college football lovers, supposed to wait for the administration to make a move when Bobby goes 2-10, or worse? The situation was handled fine. It's hacks like Mark May and Lou Holtz that can't shut up about it.

On their college pregame show last night, Holtz and May both said that the FSU athletic department treated Bowden horribly and the administration and fans should be disgusted with themselves because without Bobby there would be no Florida State football.

No one is denying that and I know first hand that the majority of Florida State fans are extremely grateful and are saddened by the retirement of their legendary coach, but it was time.

What about Bowden prolonging the retirement and holding a university hostage? That's a noble concept. How exactly is that fair to the administration and fans? Why should a man who built a program be allowed to destroy it? Bowden was given multiple chances and he screwed up by being loyal to those who were contributing to bringing the program down.

Hiring Jeff Bowden, rehiring Amato, allowing Andrews to stay way past his time with an archaic defense, letting good coaches like Kevin Steele walk out the door. This is all under Bobby's watch. He was disloyal and now a couple of desk jockeys want to call out the admin and fans because they refuse to see it from all sides?

When you two nitwits actually get about 90% of your picks correct, I might listen to you. In the meantime, your credibility is shot.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

SEC Championship Game Analysis

Florida's Secondary v Alabama's Wide Receivers

Edge: UF

Florida's secondary struggled once this year and that was against an Arkansas team that thrives on passing the ball. Julio Jones will be blanketed by potential All-American candidate and Jim Thorpe finalist (Nations best defensive back), Joe Haden. Jones hasn't lived up to his freshman campaign, but that may have something to do with 'Bama's QB situation and the offense running the ball like crazy. Look for the Tide's Marquis Maze to see a ton of balls thrown his way.

Florida's Linebackers v Alabama's Running Game

Edge: UA

Teams have stuck 8 and 9 in the box on the Doak Walker finalist and Maxwell finalist (Nation's best running back and all-around player) and Mark Ingram still finds holes to burst through. Florida's linebacking core is arguably the best in the nation, returning all 3 starters from a year ago, including Bednarik finalist (Nation's best defensive player), Brandon Spikes, who is the heart and soul of this UF defense. The one-two combination of Ingram and freshman power-load, Trent Richardson, is a lot to handle, even for the great Florida defense. The Gators have struggled a few times against the power running game this season, especially to Tennessee and Arkansas. Ingram was bottled up against Auburn recently and sustained a minor injury.

Florida's Defensive Line v Alabama's Offensive Line

Edge: Even

I would've given the edge to Florida, but Carlos Dunlop got himself suspended for the title game due to suspicion of drunk driving. Justin Trattou is a load and a very aggressive player, but he has big shoes to fill replacing Dunlop. 'Bama's offensive line isn't the biggest bunch, but they're extremely athletic and do an amazing job working their way to the second level allowing for massive lanes. Their pass protection could be better, but that may be because Alabama quarterback, Greg McElroy, holds on to the ball much longer than he should. Florida's front 4 is very active with their stunts and carry a ton of depth. This match-up will determine who wins or loses this ball game.

Alabama's Secondary v Florida's Receivers

Edge: UA

Other than Aaron Hernandez, Florida's receivers haven't exactly been dependable at times, dropping the ball on multiple occasions. Alabama's secondary, led by corner back, Javier Arenas, is a very aggressive group. Each defensive back covers well and will flat knock a player out. Riley Cooper, the Gator's top pass catcher, will need to play huge if Florida is to succeed. Don't count on the deep ball being effective, so sit Deonte Thompson if he's on your fantasy team. Look for David Nelson to have another big SEC Championship Game day.

Alabama's Linebackers v Florida's Running Backs

Edge: Even

Alabama has some great linebackers on this squad, including Rolando McClain who'll cover, blitz, shadow, and do whatever you ask him to. The Tide's 4 linebackers can all get to the ball carrier and don't miss tackles. With that said, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps make a living on making tacklers miss and, if they do miss, it's touchdown. Tebow's lumped into this group too. His running abilities this season have evolved due to his lack of a pass catcher at wide out. Look for the stretch play to work against an over-aggressive 'Bama 'backer group.

Alabama's Defensive Line v Florida's Offensive Line

Edge: UF

Alabama's front 3 is nasty, led by Bednarik finalist, nose tackle, Terrance Cody. All 3 guys are big space eaters, including their defensive ends, and are extremely disciplined. The problem is Florida's offensive line has seen them before and handled them very well in last years contest. Florida's depth is an issue with a few guys out and a couple of others nicked up. Expect the Pouncey twins to double "Mount" Cody. Watch for Gator left tackle, Marcus Gilbert, to receive help, whether that is a running back or tight end, with whichever defensive player lines up against him. It's basically a, "pick your poison" for the freshman tackle.


Edge: UF

McElroy has struggled getting the ball to his receivers down field this season. He's had time, but his decision-making is too slow. You can see the frustration on Julio Jones' face a few times during the games this year. Tebow is a game-changer and will put a team on his back and will them to victory. We've all heard it a million times, but it's true. Check out both QB's stats. Very comparable.

Special Teams

Edge: UA

Arenas is in the top 10 in both kick returning and punt returning yards. The kid's a touchdown waiting to happen, if teams kick to him. Alabama's Leigh Tiffin is the best kicker in the NCAA. Brandon James isn't the same young man from his freshman and sophomore years. He's still dangerous, but I think teams have got him figured out. Caleb Sturgis has struggled.


Edge: UF

Urban Meyer is money in these big games. He knows how to get his teams well prepared, especially when the odds are against him (even though they're favored by 6). Nick Saban is also a great big-game coach and he'll want redemption for last year.

Final Prediction

Florida: 23, Alabama: 24

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bowden Retires

He graced the sidelines of Doak Campbell Stadium since 1976. The field inside Doak is aptly named after him and well-deserved. He charmed the media with his, "Aw, shucks..." soft, country accent, sharp wit, and kind demeanor. He was a father and grandfather-like figure to thousands of players throughout his coaching career. He developed boys for the rigors of life.

He molded men.

Bobby Bowden built Florida State football from a lowly Independent team that was on the verge of being disbanded to a national power. Early in his career, he made it known that the Seminoles were willing to play anyone at anytime and opponents took full advantage of his credo. As unfair as it was, no one wanted to play a home-and-home series with FSU when they were on the rise. It was, "Come to our house or we don't play." Bowden knew in order to accelerate the development of his athletes and be a key player in recruiting, he had to oblige to the "superior" football powers of the time. Teams regretted their decision as one after another fell to the then unknown 'Noles.

FSU dominated the college football world toward the end of the 1980's and all through the 90's winning 2 National Championships and garnering the title, "Team of the Decade." All-American after All-American, conference title and conference title, the domination was unheard of for that time in college football history. Bowden was either loved or hated, which is typical for a team of that stature, even to today's standard. People love or loathe the winner, but Bobby took it in stride.

I'm not positive who said it and, off of the top of my head I want to say it was Mack Brown while he was the head coach of North Carolina, but the quote has reverberated throughout Seminole Nation's ears. "How do you stop FSU football? Break up that coaching staff." And that's the start of Bobby's downfall.

Multiple coaches went on to make names for themselves elsewhere, including long time offensive coordinator, Mark Richt, who left for Georgia, and Chuck Amato, who, at the time, was an amazing recruiter in the talent-laden south Florida region, left for his Alma Mater at NC State. What resulted was the most controversial hire in Florida State football history.

Bobby Bowden promoted his wide receivers coach and son, Jeff Bowden, as offensive coordinator. A move that many Seminole fans questioned, many media outlets poked fun at, and it's the move that would bring the mighty Seminoles to their knees. There were other highly regarded candidates available, but Bowden ignored his detractors and went with his unproven son. The 'Noles slipped every year under Jeff, hitting the 10 win mark only once, after previously accomplishing the feat 14 years in a row. Jeff Bowden was criticized over and again, but Bobby continued to back his son, stating he would never fire him. Jeff did the deed for Bobby, resigning after a beat down by a mediocre Wake Forest team at home in '06.

Bobby's leadership skills diminished also, always having to rely on one of his other coaches to take up for his slack. Bobby was no longer the Head Coach, but a figurehead roaming the sidelines aimlessly. He gave his assistants "head coaching" titles, such as Associate Head Coach and Executive Head Coach. There should only be one person with the name "head coach" in their title. It's no wonder why these athletes have looked lost. Zero leadership. They have to listen to six head coaches instead of one. How does the saying go? "Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians?" Horrible trope, but it fits perfectly in this situation. These players need a General and Bobby was no longer the coach to look up to.

Earlier this season, Mickey Andrews retired after his defenses were slipping, especially this season. It was the right move on Andrews part. Bobby and Mickey said that they would gracefully bow out together when the time came.

Today, the legendary coach of the Florida State Seminoles, a truly wonderful man and coach, steps down. Time will tell if this is the right move or just another debacle for the Seminoles, but we'll leave that for another day. Today is Bobby's day. He has been laughed at, blamed, condemned, faulted, and bad-mouthed and the man keeps his head high and walks passed it with dignity and class.

There'll be jerks who want to try and throw in a few last words and that's their prerogative because that's just what jerks do (see my Message Board blog), but no one can take away what Bowden has done for Florida State. No one can steal what he earned. No one can limit his influence on the college football world.

Bobby is college football. Bobby is Florida State. Bobby is legend.

Thank you, Coach Bowden.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Did Meyer Call Off The Dogs? Final Regular Season Review

The crisp, chilly weather in Gainesville helped supply Florida fans with infinite energy Saturday morning and afternoon. Gator Nation is always excited on game days, but there was a different sort of contagious emotion circulating throughout the streets and lingering into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Timmy's last game.

Girls with their, "Marry Me, Tebow" signs flooded the sidewalks. Grown men wearing black eye-patches with biblical scripture written on them brought a tear to my eye. It was laughter, but a tear nonetheless. Profanity, followed by loud chants of, "Gator bait" echoed while Florida State fans bravely walked by the hordes of UF students. Pabst Blue Ribbon overflowed garbage cans, spilling out into the streets.

Ah, Gainesville...

So, did Urban Meyer call the dogs off against the 'Noles? Does Meyer know something we don't?

After rewatching the game, I'd honestly have to say yes on both counts.

I'm not sure if Meyer was trying to show the absent-minded Bobby Bowden compassion, but it certainly looked that way. The Gators could have easily won that game by 40, but the play-calling, on offense and defense, became very vanilla and conservative. Meyer has always been an advocate of breaking necks when your foot's on your opponent's throat, so why stop now? Why not annihilate and humiliate your in-state rival and send them away broken and disgraced?

I'm thinking Urban knows this is it for Bobby. You embarrass your enemies. Not legends.

Rumors have been circulating for some time about Bowden's departure and even recently a Florida State recruit spilled some beans by mentioning on a trip to Tallahassee that FSU will be switching to a 3-4 defense next season. To me, that means Jimbo Fisher has the reigns, but where does that leave Bobby? It's been mentioned that the aging coach will stay on as a consultant, but he has dismissed the idea. We'll actually know more by the end of today since Bowden is meeting with FSU's president, athletic director, and boosters.

Key notes from the game on both squads: Florida State sophomore linebacker, Nigel Bradham, has improved dramatically throughout the season. He'll be someone to watch out for next year. Bradham was the only 'Nole on defense to actually show signs of life.

Riley Cooper loves to catch the tough passes and drop the easy ones. Not exactly what you want out of an outfielder, but I wish that young man much luck in his future with baseball. He's from 20 minutes down the street from me and I like to cheer on the local guy.

Aaron Hernandez is a punk. He reminds me of a certain UM punk that acted the same way in college, and is now playing for the Bucs. Hell of a talent, but has a ton of growing up to do.

EJ Manuel will get it together. Some FSU fans are nervous about the young signal caller, but Manuel is a very bright, athletic kid. Fisher did wonders for Ponder and he wasn't nearly recruited the way EJ was.

I did not catch the USF v UM game, but I heard Miami just out-manned and beat down the boys from Tampa. Still think you're part of a "Big 4?"

With all of that said, I'm actually going to go out on a limb here and pick against the Gators in the SEC Championship game. It feels like a season of destiny for Florida and they've certainly got the wins to prove it. This will be an absolute brawl 'til the clock hits zero. 'Bama beats UF in a close game.

And because the ACC Championship game is in Tampa, I'll make a little prediction too. Clemson upsets Georgia Tech.

Should be a great weekend of college football. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Warning: Message Boards

Let me preface this with college message boards. Pretty much all message board users are nerds, but guys in professional sports are fair game. College athletes, in my opinion, are not, as long as they don't commit serious adult crimes.

I'm not going to lie, I used to be a message board knob. You have a few minutes to kill, hop onto a message board to read other fans opinion's on 'such and such' college team, and maybe once out of every 50 threads you get a riveting conversation where you actually get up from your sweaty seat feeling like less of a delinquent than a Star Wars loser.

Well, I had to stop and for an excellent reason: message boards are for honks to trash children, and yes, these are children. 18 to 22, sometimes 23 year old children and it's pretty pathetic to witness full-grown men anonymously and courageously dismiss and trash these student-athletes.

I'm not saying every message board contributor is a jerk. Maybe one out of every hundred is actually a swell guy. And I'm not saying one can't judge either. If you want to put an athlete down because he or she was busted smoking pot then be my guest. Weird, college kids smoking pot. I bet no one reading this has ever partaken in such heathenism.

I can't believe a student-athlete would talk his team up before a game or against a rival too. The nerve...

Reporter: "How do you feel about playing State this weekend?"

Athlete: "I think if we come out and play our game, we'll win."

Message Board Geek: "Oh man, did you read that? He's trashing my team! That kid sucks and I hope he breaks his leg! The team needs to use this as bulletin board material."

And then they end it with something cool like, "OMG" or "LOL," whatever that crap means.

And it's perfectly fine to discredit the kid because we all know he's wrong and the young man or woman doesn't deserve an opinion. Why're they talking 'smack' to the media anyway? Pffft, dumb kids...

I wonder if there's a Message Board-Aholics meeting somewhere. Like, they show up and try to keep their identities concealed by dressing as a Storm Trooper and only refer to themselves by their online handle.

"That's got to be PhearMySpear over there."

"How can you tell?"

"He's holding a giant spear."

One of my favorite message board tools is "Recruitnik Guy." You know, the guy that knows everything about anything in college recruiting and thinks he's a total bad ass when, in actuality, he's a tool that thinks he's genuine, but all he does for a living is follow kids around like some Dateline stalker. Following recruiting is fine and all, but get a life, dude. This guy's predictions come true 10% of the time. And don't rag on a kid because he chose a different school than your own. These kids are put in a position to make grown-up decisions and if choosing school A over B even though A is clearly the better choice, in your opinion, doesn't mean school B is crap. You should actually be happy that a child is getting a chance at an education. But no, you're miserable.

Then, of course, you have to rush online to let all of your buddies know that he made the wrong choice.

"I hope he likes losing for 3 years. What a loser! Okay, I'll talk to you guys later. I'm off to see Harry Potter."

"Internet Tough Guy" is awesome too. The guy that tells you he's sitting in section 204, row R, seat 11 and he'll be waiting to pummel you because he's actually 6'6", 270 pounds, ripped, and is an MMA fighter. This guy's a colossal imbecile and doesn't allow others to state their opinions without slamming his fists on the keyboard, poised to fight. He later hides his Frodo doll when his girlfriend decides to come over.

"You can't say that about my quarterback! Meet me out front of gate D after the game. I'll be wearing an Affliction shirt, 6 sizes too small, and I'm humongous. Come see me if you have the guts."

There are about twenty other glossed "Guys," like "Thesaurus Guy" who has to use massive words of the English vernacular to get his point across, but comes out looking like a super tool. "Has To Be Right Guy" that'll argue his point even though he's been proven wrong and again, but for some reason feels compelled to continue to debate. And "Just Wants To Be Annoying Guy" who, well, just wants to annoy everyone with incoherent banter.

Most of these posters make the internet message board experience a lame one and in some way or another each one of these dipsticks enjoys putting down college kids and the only explanation I see fitting is because they're such deplorable simpletons that it makes them feel better to crack on a rival team's student-athletes incognito.

Dog the coaches and staff. Leave the kids alone.

This rant has gone long enough and I'm pretty sure I've got my point across. Now, if you'll excuse me, I just rented "Star Trek."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is This Really 'Rivalry' Week? Week 12 Review

It sounds cool and everything, but when I think of rivals, I think of two teams that absolutely despise one another. I think of contests that end in last second, game-winning field goals. I think of blood, guts, and mayhem.

I really don't think of that final aforementioned item. I thought it sounded cool.

Florida v Florida State is no longer a "rivalry." It's too one-sided. And it's not one-sided like Florida's been winning by 6 points or less. Florida has won the last five and has outscored the Seminoles 111-41 the past three games with the closest game being in Tallahassee back in '06, which ended 21-14. The 'Noles have embarrassed themselves the past two attempts by scoring one touchdown in 8 quarters.

This is a rivalry? This is an ass beating of epic proportions and it's not something I see switching anytime soon.

Regardless, the game will go on and I don't think FSU's just going to hand Florida anything. The Swamp will be electric and the Gators will want to win Timmy's last home game, but you have to wonder if Florida's looking forward to next weekend's SEC Championship game against 'Bama or if they decide to play to their level of competition like they have most of the season.

I know I just ranted on about how Florida's going to trash the 'Noles, but I honestly didn't watch much of the FIU v Florida game. Unless you're a major Gator honk, that game was boring. I understand why it's scheduled and I think it's the smart thing to do having a warm-up before the SEC Title game, but watching Tebow and Spikes spank the hapless just isn't fun to me.

Now the 'Noles game, on the other hand, was brilliant. Only Florida State can squeak by a 2 win Maryland team.

Defensively, FSU did their jobs. Maryland isn't exactly an offensive juggernaut, but they do have player-makers on the offensive side of the ball. Florida State didn't have much luck keeping Scott, Maryland's ace running back, in check, but they did enough to make sure he didn't break their spirits. After all, this was Mickey's last home game and his defense was not going to embarrass.

EJ Manuel had what appeared to be an awful game, but after further review, the young signal caller got hosed by his own players. Jarmon Fortson had a sure fire touchdown that he dropped. Two plays later, EJ throws a pick that almost went for six. Manuel's two other interceptions came on receivers either falling down or running the wrong route. You can clearly see Jimbo on the sidelines going nuts, not on Manuel, but on Bert Reed. The more these young guys play together, the deadlier they become.

Still, having to win at the last minute against the worst team in the ACC doesn't strike confidence in 'Nole fans.

Sweet fan base too, 'Noles. I couldn't tell if that was Doak or the Orange Bowl. Speaking of that dump...

Miami beat Duke. Barely.

Moving on...

The Bulls showed a ton of heart with their win over Louisville. The Cardinals have an explosive offense and it showed when they racked up 16 quick unanswered points in the second quarter. USF didn't do their lay down and die trick that they've been acting on this season. Instead, the defense rose to the occasion holding the Cardinals to 6 points in the second half and 144 yards of total offense.

I'll give credit to BJ Daniels, but it's seriously tough for me considering Louisville is horrible defensively. BJ had a monster game rushing for 141 yards and crossing the goal line twice as well as passing for 304 yards with 1 passing TD. This is a major confidence boost going into the game with the Hurricanes. Who knows, maybe we'll have another "rivalry" on our hands.

I truly believe the South Florida v Miami game will be a close one and either team can pull it out, but I think Miami's offensive line will be the difference as the 'Canes win a close one in Ray Jay.

The Seminoles will come out hard with a ton of energy in the first quarter, but will quickly breakdown due to zero depth on the defensive side of the ball. Florida will most likely have back-ups in to start the fourth quarter as the Gators easily makes it six in a row and conquer the 'Noles.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy "rivalry" week!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The "U" Is Back? Week 11 Review

Don't you love the media hype machine? Whenever the four letter network jumps on the "so and so team is back" bandwagon, they pray that it's true just so they can brag to everyone that they got it correct. "Oh, we called that during week 1 of the college football season." Notre Dame doesn't count because they get hyped up even during losing seasons.

The team I'd like to dog as a hyped up bust is Miami and that stupid "U" thing. Seriously, what is that? Aren't most schools the "U?" Like, University of Michigan or Auburn University?

Take it for what it's worth, but the 'Canes are not a good team. Jacory Harris, who was a Heisman candidate for some time, leads the nation in interceptions. Not exactly what I'd like to call "elite." Harris holds onto the ball too long and isn't quick enough in his decision making. The Tar Heels robbed him four times in their win against Miami.

Miami had two major staples when they were dominating teams back in the day: solid quarterback play and a ferocious defense. Neither is present. Perhaps next year, but we'll worry about that when the time comes.

Instead, we're left with the, "We're young" excuse for not winning the, what were they calling it when the 'Canes first changed conferences? The "All 'Canes Conference?" Yeah, that has worked out well, going a whopping 25-23 in conference play and never once playing in the title game since their ACC inception in 2004.

Is Shannon on the hot seat after losing to North Carolina? I'd have to say yes considering there is no consistency with this team. Miami wants to get back to the glory days and in a hurry. I'm not so sure Shannon is their guy.

Florida State came out with some fire under their tails Saturday afternoon against Wake. EJ Manuel, filling in for the injured Christian Ponder, did what he was supposed to do and that was distribute the ball to his play-makers and not turn the ball over. He did an excellent job of both.

Jimbo Fisher had a brilliant plan for his young QB. Simple out patterns, screens, play-actions passes out in the flats, and zone reads took all of the pressure off of EJ. The one interception Manuel did throw was a bad pass, but it's something to learn from. If he floats the pass over the defender's head, it's an easy score.

Jermaine Thomas was once again the day's hero, racking up over a hundred yards rushing for the third straight game. Wake's defense was so focused on Thomas that Manuel easily play-faked on multiple occasions and threw simple 5 yard passes that turned into 10 yard gains and on one instance a 50 yarder.

So, what about the defense? They must've been horrible, right? Yeah, but it was their best game of the year by far. They harrassed Wake's QB, Riley Skinner, all afternoon and picked him off twice, once in the endzone.

They could've done a better job considering FSU was up 31-7 at one point and the final score was 41-28, but we'll give Mickey and his D a pat on the back, just this once.

I want to like Florida. I really do, but when I see them struggle the way they did against an average team like South Carolina, it makes me wonder.

We all know the defense is amazing and defense most definitely wins championships, but this trying offense will hold the team back when it comes to the National Title game, and yes I believe they still make the big show. Now win it...?

UF's SEC opponents in conference play are an embarrassing 19-33. Only Georgia and LSU have winning records in the SEC on the Gators schedule. Those wins include a ten point win against 2-4 Tennessee, three point win over 2-4 Arkansas, and ten point win over 3-5 South Carolina. Are the Gators playing to their level of competition? If so, that's a recipe for major disaster. Or maybe Florida isn't as good as advertised.

The defense will hold the team together because it's too late in the season for the offense to figure things out. The dropped balls (I'll go ahead and smile for calling out that debacle) is killing this potentially ready to explode Florida offense.

Timmy will probably win the Heisman based on the dominating performances he'll have against FIU and a horrible Florida State defense and I'm sure the Gators will fix a couple of their offensive woes before the match-up against Alabama. If they don't and we continue to see dropped balls and missed assignments on offense, Florida's not going to Pasadena. Count on it.

Starters will be sitting down by halftime as Florida rolls FIU, Miami rebounds against Duke, USF crushes Louisville, and Florida State beats Maryland. Enjoy an astonishing college football weekend!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Are The Bucs Ready To Turn It Around?

I've been asked, "How come you haven't done a Bucs blog spot yet?" and my answer is simple: because they are an extremely bad team with little unity, no direction, zero leadership, and I'm seriously confused as to what this organization is trying to orchestrate and build upon.

Oh, and they're just not that interesting. Until a couple of weeks ago...

Look, I'm not here to bash Tampa. I've been an avid Buccaneer supporter since early high school (I was too much of a skater punk to worry about sports in middle school). I can go on and on about how Raheem Morris wasn't the right head coaching candidate, how Morris should have hired a Tampa 2 guru to be his defensive coordinator, and how it was a dumb move to dump Derrick Brooks. But why do any of that? That's all we read about and hear on talk radio. Are the critics wrong? No, because it was stupid to move away from the Tampa 2 and this team is begging for leadership, yet the Buccaneer's organization is too scared to admit they were wrong and won't bring Brooks back.

This team looked completely down for the count and Bucs fans should be embarrassed. A head coach who allows his players to walk all over him is pathetic. A team who plays competitively for about 15 minutes then lays down is garbage. Owners that want to focus more on a lavish soccer team in Europe than their local product is ridiculous. That's like some hoity toity, London Lord buying the Yankees and ignoring his English Premier team. I wish the Glazers would just sell the Bucs to the Outback guys. I digress...

My attitude has changed a bit. No, I'm not jumping on the, "Josh Freeman is our savior" bandwagon; although, I think the kid has great potential, as long as this distant organization builds around him and brings in solid athletes. My attitude changed when I witnessed this meager ball club clawing their way to a win over Green Bay and nearly beating Miami. I know moral victories count for squat, but the grit of the Bucs in the 4th quarter against the 'Phins, in Landshark Stadium, was impressive.

We can cry all we want about the horrible call at the end of the 1st half (and it was an awful call), but that game was in Tampa's grasp and they let go.

Not to get all nostalgic, but when Lynch, Brooks, Sapp, and Ronde were in their prime balling, it was lights out for opposing offenses, especially in those key situations where they needed to stop the opposition's game-winning drive. I'm in no way comparing this ragtag group to our legends, but legends are made. Brooks and Sapp did things to make their name's stand out above the rest. They didn't throw their cleats on, step out onto the field, and all of the sudden scare the jock's out of teams. They buckled down and got the job done by making memorable plays and heart-pounding stops.

Presently, this Tampa defense is trash, but they're on the brink of becoming a solid foundation. Forget being young. They're fast, hungry, learning quickly on the fly, and have evolved from their 1st game of the season. Miami's final drive was their opportunity, their chance to show the rest of the NFL that they are on their way and make a name for themselves.

They came up short though and, as atrocious a call the Bucs received at the end of the 1st half, the team overcame it and the defense should have stepped up and buried that game. I'm not blaming the D, but we had it.

I truly believe these kids are on their way. I think it's a matter of time before it all clicks for them and we start seeing a winning product again.

I'll go ahead and give Coach Morris the benefit of the doubt for the time being. The team seems to finally buy into what he's preaching. There hasn't been any incidents as of late and the players aren't talking smack. I think this team has a shock or two up their sleeves. Only time will tell.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Is FSU An Afterthought? Week 10 Review

In memory of a brilliant writer and great friend. I know she'll be critiquing this and laughing at me from heaven. Thank you for helping me become a better writer. Rest in peace, Mallory. Say, "Hi" to my pops for me.

I'm just going to skip over Miami this week. I'm sorry, but I don't find anything they do really compelling. They beat up on a horrid Virginia team in the second half. In the first half, the Cavaliers were keeping pace with Miami and that should definitely worry Hurricane fans. Harris wasn't spectacular and the run game is still missing. Why would I want to talk about them?

I'll give it to their young defense though. Way to keep the Cav's 119th ranked offense at bay.

I'm going to shoot straight from the hip and just say it: Florida did not impress me one bit this past Saturday. This, "play to your level of competition" thing is getting old.

Here's my question to you: hypothetically speaking, if Florida wins out in the regular season, but loses to 'Bama in the SEC Championship Game, do they deserve to go to a BCS bowl game over an undefeated TCU?

TCU has a harder schedule than the Gators and have been playing much better football than them too. As we all know, the BCS looks for style points, which, in my opinion, Florida is not racking up, struggling against teams like Vandy.

It's just a question. Don't get all huffy...

And can someone point me out to another receiver on this Florida team other than Aaron Hernandez? If defenses were capable of covering this kid, Tim would have no one to throw to.

Is there a more embarrassing spectacle than Florida State football right now? Mickey Andrews announces his retirement and you'd think something of that magnitude would motivate this lethargic ball club, but it had the direct opposite effect.

Christian Ponder, who was FSU's only beacon of light, is out for the season with a bum shoulder after having his worst game in a Seminole uniform. Part of the loss to Clemson falls on his shoulders. No pun intended. Yes, the defense was atrocious, but they've been awful all season.

Ponder's four picks, at least three of them with no pressure, and two of them directly to the opposition, are not Maxwell numbers. I've been hyping this kid up from day one and everyone is entitled to a bad game, but this was a devastating blow for the program. Win at Clemson and ACC Title hopes are alive. Now, we here in Tampa get to enjoy yet another empty stadium at Ray Jay. Absolutely embarrassing.

The highly recruited and talented, redshirt freshman, EJ Manuel steps in for the injured Ponder. I fully expect Jimbo to run the ball and throw a ton of short screens to help the young signal caller out. Good thing Jermaine Thomas has broken back-to-back 100 yard games. The 'Noles will need to rely on Thomas as well as the offensive line for help.

Bulls fans, after watching last night's game, I have come to the conclusion that, not only are you not part of any "Big 4," but you're not even a good football team.

Is Leavitt to blame? Yes. He's been out-coached and throttled by Schiano and Rutgers for two straight seasons. When will the athletic department at South Florida realize this guy will not get you over the hump?

If USF fans are satisfied with going 7-5, 8-4 and going to 2nd and 3rd tier bowl games every season then Leavitt is your man.

If I'm the AD, I try my tail off to hire Charlie Strong to get this Bulls team in the championship direction. Strong already recruits the hell out of Florida, especially the Bay area. With FSU down this season and possibly next, he'll get the kids that are wavering between the two schools.

You want to piss off Florida? Do everything possible and hire Charlie Strong.

Miami hasn't won in North Carolina and it doesn't start now, Florida State gets rocked by a bad Wake Forest team, and Florida cruises past Spurrier and the Cocks. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Spikes A Leader?

The situation with Brandon Spikes has now turned into a full on circus. If you don't know what has happened, let me recap...

Senior linebacker Brandon Spikes was going to be suspended for a half against Vandy for attempting to eye gouge, and potentially fish-hook, Georgia running back Washaun Ealey. Now, Spikes, not wanting to be a distraction to his team, has imposed a self, full-game suspension against the mighty Commodores. Yeah, totally done discreetly and without distraction.

A few things here:

Spikes has been hampered by a groin injury for the past few weeks and it showed in his play against Georgia. Although the defense was beyond dominating, it was obvious Spikes was somewhat slowed. Are we even positive that this "self" suspension isn't a way to kill two birds with one stone. The lies and secrecy within college football runs deep and for all we know Spikes is trying to make himself look good and heal up for the championship stretch. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but it is rather coincidental.

I'm not going to give Spikes any props or recognition because he's doing what he's supposed to do. The young man probably should've gotten two games, but Meyer felt it necessary to discipline him for a half and the SEC agreed. I'm cool with that. But to say that he's a leader for applying a whole game suspension on himself is laughable. I'm supposed to do my taxes. I'm supposed to go to work. I'm supposed to obey the law. Why aren't I a leader? Why am I not celebrated for doing the things I'm supposed to do? Way to go Brandon for accepting your role as a true "leader." Men that don't cheat on their wives think you're a real inspiration.

Brandon Spikes is a tremendous athlete with limitless potential. He'll go in the 1st round of this spring's NFL draft and this will all blow over. No one will care. I think people miss the point. These student-athletes are held to a higher standard for multiple reasons. One of which is because children look up to them as a way to escape their current lives. They strive to be like a Brandon Spikes to get away from the broken down homes and bad neighborhoods that may otherwise discourage them from even wanting to go to school or college. Urban Meyer and the SEC missed a golden opportunity to prove that no one is higher than the other in college football. By suspending him for a half, Meyer shows that eye gouging is no worse than missing class or showing up late for practice.

There's no taking it back now. This distraction has gone from bad to ridiculous very quickly and it all could've easily been avoided.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Will Andrews Be Remembered? Week 9 Review

It's official. Mickey Andrews will step down as defensive coordinator for the Seminoles and retire.

Many rivals will look at Andrews and see a man that coached dirty football. The old, "Play until you hear the echo of the whistle" phrase keeps popping up into my head, but is that really dirty coaching or just bad kids? Neither.

Mickey Andrews style of defense was meant to be aggressive and violent. If you didn't sell out on every play, you didn't deserve to be on this defense.

He was the architect to many of the finest defenses the college world ever witnessed. He had multiple consensus All-Americans and many of his players went into the first round of the NFL draft.

He's the man responsible for NFL greats like LeRoy Butler, Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley, Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, and Peter Bouleware.

His legacy should not be seen as the poor product he's fielding now. I blame it on an old man being stubborn to adjust his defense to today's offenses. You have to evolve and Andrews refuses.

Hopefully this FSU struggling defense will wake up and play for something more than themselves. Something more than the university, the fans, the conference. Many of these kids see Mickey Andrews as their father. Honor him, play and fight for family. I'm not trying to pull a, "Win one for the Gipper" sentiment. I just hope these kids realize what good Mickey's doing for the team.


I guess I'll go ahead and start my rantings with Florida State's shoot out against lowly NC State. It's not like the Wolfpack are a bad team, but they haven't scored that many points all season. Struggling offenses must be salivating when they see FSU on their schedule.

Okay, okay, I'll stop considering I just had a fabulous moment writing about Mickey Andrews.

Offensively, the 'Noles had to play the "score for score" game and did so well. Ponder played hurt, but still had a good game. He wasn't the hero though. Jermaine Thomas, who has been quiet all season, racked up 186 rushing yards on 20 carries. The young man from Jacksonville had his best outing since last season and this should be the spark the FSU running game needs.

Luck was on the Seminoles side too. North Carolina State's defensive ends played back during FSU's swing passes to the wide recivers resulting in multiple batted balls. On one particular play in the 4th quarter, one of Ponder's throws was tipped and intercepted by a Wolfpack defensive tackle. I'm not positive who it was, but an FSU offensive player stripped the ball from the Wolfpack defender giving the ball back to the 'Noles. It was a heads-up, lucky play that most likely won the game for Florida State. If the Wolfpack defender just falls instead of trying to run with it, NC State wins.

How does a team score 45 points and almost lose? Oh, that's right. He's retiring...

Sorry, 'Canes, but I didn't care to watch your game over the Gators game. You won. That's good, right?

The Gators absolutely decimated UGA during the annual "Cocktail, Outdoor" thingy. Florida's defense is going to go down as one of the greatest of all time, without a doubt. It's basically a, "Pick your Poison" and it's not even fair for the opposition's offense.

Now, with that being said, Brandon Spikes, you're as dirty as they get. Like, Rodney Harrison dirty. That's not necessarily bad. Harrison is one of the greatest.

No one can defend what Spikes did. He didn't accidentally shove his mitts into Ealey's helmet. If he did, we clearly would've seen Brandon retract his paws from inside the Bulldog's face mask. Instead, he dug harder.

The excuses are laughable, to say the least. "He was retaliating for getting his helmet knocked off and being poked in the eye." Both of which were definitely accidental. I watched it over and over to help justify the excuse and there's no way.

"They spit in Brandon's eyes." I'm sure he felt it through his visor.

"That stuff happens in pile ons all the time." Pile ons, yes. Too bad Spikes jumped in late. Ealey was already down and that type of cheap play happens at the bottom of a pile on where the refs can't see. Not out in the open.

There is no justifying it. It was a cowardice move by a great player. There's no need for that type of garbage in this sport. I don't care if it is a rivalry, get your head on straight and play the game the right way.

I'm not trying to pile on the kid. He's a solid player that apologized for his actions and he has a bright future ahead of him. I'm just disgusted by the fans actually trying to justify the actions.

And Urban Meyer talking to the fans saying, and I paraphrase, Well, you've never played the game, so you don't know what goes on. Great, Urb. I'll remember to never have a logical opinion when hanging around you. I wouldn't want to offend Lord Meyer. Your half game suspension is a joke. The only reason I'm somewhat okay with it is because you're playing Vandy and the game will be over at halftime meaning Spikes probably won't play at all.

I was happy to see Tim look like Tim again. He was incredible with his passes and runs. He looked like the leader of old. And Riley Cooper, alligator arms, with that amazing grab in the endzone, truly broke the dropping curse for the receiving corp which played extremely well for the first time this season.

UF had it's first complete game against good competition this season and there's no way to slow this juggernaut down.

I was proud to see South Florida bounce back against getting drubbed by Pitt to take down a very good West Virginia team this past Friday night at Ray Jay. USF played a very sound, physical style of football. The defense contained the conference rushing leader, Noel Devine, and frustrated QB Jarrett Brown all night.

Offensively, they mixed it up with runs and passes keeping the Mountaineer defense off balance.

BJ Daniels development continues and the young Bulls QB looks like he's back on the proper football track.

Not much to say on the game. I thought USF played their best football of the season.

It'll be a cold one in New Jersey and I see USF losing to Rutgers, Florida running through ease at Vandy, Miami winning at home against Virginia, and Mickey's farewell tour starts in shame as Clemson annihilates Florida State in Death Valley. Have a great rest of the week and awesome weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 8 continued...

Hate to do that to y'all, but I'm a busy man. Not really...

Florida State's win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill was a bit of a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, you have a defense that is beyond awful and there's no way it'll be repaired by the end of the season. I've asked this question before and I'm going to stick with my original it coaching or talent?

To me, it's absolutely coaching. Missed tackles and assignments are basic fundamentals that should've been remedied after the first couple of weeks, and especially during FSU's bye week. I keep hearing how dumb the defensive ends were for crashing inside on every play. It's not the ends doing it on their own. You think Marcus White likes being flattened on his belly? The scheme called for the ends to crash in making monster lanes on the outside for the Tar Heel backs to run through. What exactly did Andrews see to continually allow his defensive ends to get killed still boggles my mind.

On the other hand is Christian Ponder. Yes, you're sick of me talking about him, but the kid put on a passing clinic against one of the best defensive teams in the country. And before you go crying, "Oh, but who has UNC played to make them one of the best D's in college ball?" remember, that's not FSU's problem that statistically the Tar Heels are good at defense. Just like it's not Florida State's problem that they have an excellent quarterback that isn't being recognized for anything when he clearly needs to be, but I digress... Ponder tore through them with ease in the second half.

UNC gave that game away though. They ran the ball willingly and decided to try and throw the ball late in the game giving FSU a chance to win. If you give a team with their back's against the wall with a chance to win, they'll capitalize.

I'm too disgusted to give my take on USF's "play dead" style of football against Pitt. The Panther's punched the Bull's in the mouth and USF never got up.

Great coaching, Leavitt.

Will the real Miami please raise your hand?

Unbelievable how inconsistent this talented ball club is. Even more unbelievable how inconsistent Jacory Harris is. The kid hits receivers in stride one play and directly to the opposition in another. It's almost as if he's constantly looking for the deep ball. The highlight reel, if you will. He misses his underneath routes and check downs, and by the time he notices that they're open, he's either sacked or a defender steps in front of his pass.

And with three or four highly talented running backs on that squad and a massive offensive line, why aren't they running it more?

Clemson used everything at their disposal on offense to win that game and their offense just out-skilled Miami's speedy defense. Reverses and screens worked to the tee against the Hurricane defense and there were little to no adjustments. They also struggled to slow down Harper, Clemson's athletic, but young, signal caller. On the game winning touchdown in OT, Harper threw a strike across the middle to his wide receiver, Ford, for the game winner. Ford blew by two or three defenders to victory.

Miami's defense is bad. Not FSU bad, but still bad. If the "All 'Canes Conference" wants to be taken seriously, play better defense.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is UF's Addazio In Over His Head? Week 8 Review

It's no secret that the University of Florida Gators have looked sluggish, to say the least, these past few weeks. The once revered offense looks mediocre and predictable with little energy and Tim Tebow has been less than "super."

In Tim's five SEC contests this season, he's an okay 63%, 734 yards passing with only three touchdowns to four interceptions. His rushing yards are incredible though, racking up 97 yards rushing per SEC game with four scores.

I'm not placing the blame on Tim at all. If anything, he's the reason Florida's winning. If Hernandez is covered, Tim runs and picks up the 1st down. If Tim sees a wide open Thompson, Tim double clutches and runs for a 1st down.

The offense is stale and on the brink of exploding any game now, but why the set backs? What's different?

Steve Addazio, UF's offense line coach and new offensive coordinator, might've bit off more than he can swallow taking the coordinating position. This talent laden team has regressed offensively since he's taken the reigns and the players, most notably Tebow, have taken notice. It's tough having to adjust your o-line and game plan during the game. Why do you think UF's offensive line, which returns nearly everyone from a season ago, has been getting beat by lesser talent? Addazio's struggling coaching up his line as well as making the proper adjustments on offense. In SEC play, the Gator offense averages 382 yards and nearly 26 points per game, but against competition with a 51% winning percentage. Not exactly domination.

Going back to Tim for a moment: young man, if you want to make it in the NFL, you can't have these sulking sessions on the sideline and you cannot leave the stadium while not addressing the media. That'll lighten your pocket and piss off your teammates. You're young with incredible talent and leadership, but it's time to get serious before this team gets itself into trouble and who do you think they're all looking to?

Don't get me wrong, UF fan. You'll win the National Title on talent and will alone. I wouldn't doubt if it was a frustrating road though. Heck, just use the ancient Chinese proverb during times like these: scoreboard.

This was an extremely busy week for me, so I have to jump straight to this weekend's predictions and I'll finish the rest of the review tomorrow. Why not just do the whole thing tomorrow? Because some Big East team plays tonight.

Miami upends and dominates at Wake, South Florida loses tonight at home against West Virginia, Florida State loses their homecoming game against North Carolina State, and Florida........wins the "Adult Beverage Fiesta" by a close margin over rival Georgia.

Week 8 Review, to be continued...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Were The Bulls Out-Coached? Week 7 Review

I'm going to go ahead and apologize to Miami fan for the second week in a row. I didn't watch nor keep up with the Miami v UCF game because, well, it's UCF and it isn't exactly the most compelling match up. Congrats on your win though.

Now that that's out of the way...

Bulls fans...I told you so. Please stop with the National Championship nonsense. Please stop with the whole "Big 4" hoopla. You're not there. Yet.

I really think this USF football program is on the right track defensively, but it has been the offense that's holding this program back. Daniels looked like a superstar against two abysmal defenses. He did his Michael Vick impressions. He threw the football better from the FSU game to the 'Cuse game. He looked like a leader heading to stardom. Now, there's film on him and Cincinnati knew what to do against the young signal caller.

South Florida has some studs at running back, particularly Ford and Plancher. Neither saw the ball very much. Cincinnati is known for their explosive offense. In order to keep their offense off of the field and help protect a young quarterback in Daniels, USF needs to run the football and run it to the ground. I know, running the ball 50 times a game won't put butts in the stands, but it will win you football games. It is crucial to run the football in order to accelerate Daniels progress. BJ threw the ball way too many times and got caught in the backfield playing "high school quarterback" as well.

But the offense isn't all to blame. USF's defense did it's job by knocking out Cincinnati QB Tony Pike. It should've been a breeze after that, right? Wrong. Brian Kelly had his back-up well prepared and USF had no idea what to do. Yes, Bulls fans, Leavitt was out-coached in yet another big game.

Oh, and penalties were a slight factor too. Just sayin'.

South Florida is eventually going to get there, but not with Leavitt at the helm.

You're not going to like what I have to say, Gator fan, but it's not like I really care either...

You. Got. Lucky. Missed field goals and missed wide open touchdowns by the opposition. Nah, they weren't forced. Just overthrown. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

I'm still baffled over the difference between Arkansas' defensive tackle celebrating and Tim's celebrations. The 15 yard unsportsmanlike wouldn't have mattered as much if it was called both ways. I digress...

The refs helped the home team out and that's expected. They got suspended for multiple bad calls in this game and the LSU v UGA game as well. Se La Vie.

Enough of that. Let us get to the meat of this thing. The Gators came out lethargic and unprepared in the first half. Arkansas' front four was dominating at the point of attack with quick penetration and sure tackling. That recipe has worked in slowing the Gator offense in the past. Arkansas forced 4 fumbles, and no, Gator fan, your players didn't just accidentally drop the ball or fumble the ball away. They were forced meaning the Razorbacks caused those "mishaps" to happen. Give credit where credit's due.

I continue to believe Tebow has little faith in his receivers, other than Hernandez. Thompson was open many times and Tim clutched on tossing him the football. You can say he had little time to throw because he was under so much pressure, but there were times Deonte was wide open and he didn't throw to him. Although, that deep pass for the touchdown in the second half was textbook.

I'm beginning to like Cooper more and more too. He's a solid receiver, but his physical presence is what makes the difference. He'll take your head off.

I can't say the defense was the hero this time around. Spikes went out with a groin injury and never returned. Bobby Petrino is an excellent big game coach and exploited the middle of the defense by running up the gut on multiple occasions with tremendous gains. When Mallett had time, he hit his receivers deep. I will give the Gator D credit for manning up late in the game. I'm not exactly sure which player got the defense fired up, but they were a completely different 4th quarter team and championships are won in the 4th quarter.

The Gators stomp Mullen and Mississippi State, Clemson keeps it close, but Miami prevails, USF loses to a very physical Pitt team, and Florida State upsets UNC tonight in Chapel Hill (is it really an upset though?). Have a beautiful weekend, college football fans!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is Mickey Andrews The Root Of FSU's Troubles? Week 6 Review

The Seminole's were absolutely man-handled by a team with lesser athletes and better coaching. Sound familiar? It has been FSU's tale all season. I know they lost by 5, but the defense gave up 49 points. How in the world does a team score 44 points and lose?

Florida State led in every statistical categories, except rushing, which Georgia Tech should have had the advantage in considering they're an old school, wing-T, triple option team.

Tech's style of offense is strictly a run-oriented offense. If you want an explanation on the wing-T, triple option Google it. Now, I said "run-oriented." The Yellow Jackets were slinging the ball, deep, with incredible results. That's embarrassing.

The 'Noles held onto the ball for most of the game. I'm sure everyone is getting tired of reading this because I'm getting tired of writing it, but Christian Ponder was beyond phenomenal and is a top 5 quarterback in the NCAA. Statistically, he's even better than Saint Tebow. We won't hear Ponder's name on Heisman ballots due to a lousy 2-4 record.

Even the run game held it's own. The offensive line was crushing Georgia Tech defender's off of the line and supplying gaping holes for Jermaine Thomas and Lonnie Pryor to run through. Clock management was not an issue, especially when FSU's defense was allowing for 2 play scoring drives.

The Yellow Jackets had multiple scoring drives that consisted of 3 or less plays. Defensively, the 'Noles were beyond horrible and looked like a lost high school team. To me, the blame is on Mickey Andrews and his staff for not preparing his kids better. Andrews had some ridiculous excuse about how his players are too young to make the necessary in-game adjustments in the second half. He also alluded (and I've heard fans say this too) that his team isn't as "talented" as past defenses. Let us pretend for a moment that's true. How does one explain missed tackles and assignments on Tech's basic plays? There were times when a Yellow Jacket runner wasn't even touched. We know the Seminoles recruit talent. Almost every kid on that defense was recruited by Florida, Texas, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, and so on. Are you trying to tell me that they got it all wrong too?

I will agree that tackling is the players an extent. When you see it every week that means it isn't being corrected. That's coaching.

Weekly missed tackles, bad adjustments, missed assignment, discipline, and a lack of passion is all coaching. Fire and energy may not be coachable, but it's something that's mimicked by players via the coordinator. This defense looks lethargic and bored. Much like Mickey who resembles someone who can't wait for this season to end so he can retire.

Tim Tebow was the story coming into the Florida v LSU game, but he wasn't the story. The story was these two monster defenses and the way they handled each other. Both teams struggled to move the ball consistently and the game was decided by one great pass from Timmy to Cooper.

I must admit I held my breath during some of the blows Tebow took throughout the game, and there were a bunch of solid hits. Tim came out like a champ though. Florida's game plan wasn't as stellar as past game plans. Usually Meyer has something special drawn up for these types of games, but UF was very vanilla. The stretch option play was useless because the LSU defenders knew Tim wasn't going to keep the ball himself due to his concussion, but they continued to run it.

The casual spectator sees unsuccessful, short yardage runs as a waste of time, but the Gators were wearing LSU out. The Tigers had to respect the run and that's why Cooper was able to run past LSU cornerback, Jai Eugene, for the touchdown because the safety was looking inside for the run. Eugene had zero help behind him.

The real MVP of this contest was Florida's defense, which continues to amaze. They held the Tigers to 3 points and terrorized LSU quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, all night.

No one touches UF the rest of the season, not even Alabama, if they play them in the SEC Championship Game, and they should cruise past everyone for back-to-back National Titles.

I can't give any opinion on the Miami game as I just didn't care to watch it or get info. Sorry, 'Cane fans. I knew it'd be a blow out and your team would handle itself accordingly, unlike another in-state school.

Miami demolishes UCF, Florida, whose defense will be tested by a potent Arkansas offense, wins in a shoot-out, Florida State gets crushed by -bye week-, and South Florida loses at home to Cincinnati. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Should Timmy Play? Week 5 Review

The LSU v Florida game has been watered down due to the uncertainty of Tim Tebow's status for the Saturday night showdown. Personally, I say sit the young man. It's now Thursday and the doctors have yet to clear him. Tell him to throw on the sweats, cheer on and coach up his teammates, and make sure Brantley gets all of the reps and up to par for the game.

It's not worth risking a young man's health and potentially life. Tebow leads with his head when he initiates contact on his scrambles, and if he plays he will scramble. It's just what he does. It has nothing to do with LSU's pass rush.

Hopefully, Urban Meyer and the University will do the right thing. If Florida's as good as they say they are, they should win with Brantley. The kid has the tools and the talent surrounding him. Let Tim rest. Let us see what John can do.

South Florida played a sloppy 1st half of football against the 'Cuse. I watched the game thinking, "They're going to have the 'Big Game' hangover," but the Bulls came out firing in the 2nd half, absolutely dominating the Orange.

That's not to say the Bulls were without negatives. Their secondary got burned by Mike Williams for a ton of receiving yards. Williams just out-athleted USF's secondary. Cincinnati has 2 or 3 guys just like Williams. Leavitt ought to have that corrected by next Thursday.

BJ Daniels looked excellent. We knew he could scramble, but his arm is incredible. He was extremely poised in the pocket and when the pocket did collapse, he was able to evade defenders while still looking down field for the open receiver. That young man will be a superstar before his time's done at USF.

And Bulls fan, I'm sorry, but you're not part of any "Big 4." Yes, you beat Florida State on their home field. This may be the worst FSU team in 30 years. Not something to brag about. Beat Miami later this season, win your conference, beat Florida next season, compete for a National Title and maybe, just maybe, you can include yourself in a Big 4 conversation. In the meantime, you're still nobodies.

The 'Canes shocked me with their want-to. Oklahoma was more physical and aggressive in the 1st half, but the 2nd half was all Miami. They never quit or faltered. The 'Canes kept grinding it out for a way to win.

Jacory Harris went from looking awful against Va Tech to regaining his All-Conference form versus the Sooners. Yes, I said All-Conference. He's not that good yet people. I'll eat major crow if he's invited to New York, but I seriously doubt that happens.

The running game and defense were the real winners during UM's victory. They had Oklahoma off balance and tired by the end of the game.

Florida State has lost it's heart. When teams lose close games like that it's not because of lack of talent or coaching. It's all about leadership, which is something that hasn't been displayed at FSU for 8 or 9 years.

Ponder was once again excellent, but he can't do it by himself. The 'Noles are seriously struggling running the ball and that was supposed to be their strength this season. In the one game this season they dominated, they ran the ball very effectively. They've been shut down every other game.

Florida State is awful defensively and I place the blame on Mickey Andrews and his staff. It looks like the kids are unprepared and lost. That's coaching.

If this team wants to stop itself from going 3-9, a leader must emerge. I personally don't see one in sight.

I'll comment on the Bowden fiasco on my next blog and I think some of you may be surprised.

Miami cruises past FAMU, Florida State, with multiple distractions, gets hammered and ran all over for 400 plus yards versus Georgia Tech, and Florida, with Brantley at the helm, wins a squeaker up in Baton Rouge. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Is USF For Real? Week 4 Review

Florida State walks into Provo with slim hopes of upsetting then #7 BYU and comes out victorious. Not only did the 'Noles win, they absolutely trounced a ranked team on their turf.

South Florida should be a walk in the park, right? The Seminoles were honoring the '99 National Champion team before the game. The "White Out" was well received and represented. USF was breaking in a freshman quarterback making his very first start, on the road, nonetheless. Easy, right?

FSU may have lost by 10, but it felt like 100.

That might be one of the most embarrassing losses in FSU history. Wake came into Doak a few years ago and skunked the 'Noles and even that wasn't as horrible as this. At least Jeff Bowden called it quits after the Deacon's stomped Florida State. Who's to blame for this loss?

I'm not even sure where to begin or what to comment on. Florida State's offensive line got man-handled by USF's front four. Ponder had little time to throw, but when he did have time he connected.

Ponder fought hard through this game. That young man has the heart of a fighter and refuses to quit. That's why it has to be disheartening for Seminole fans to see his receivers fumble the ball 4 times, twice while in scoring position, and watch his offensive line play turnstile. The 'Noles were at USF's 1 yard line and couldn't punch it in on 4 attempts.

Greg Reid was another person playing hard. He single handily brought the 'Noles back to life.

And if the rumors about Jimbo and Amato fighting in front of the players are true, this season will be a dark one, Seminoles.

Don't get me wrong. South Florida played a great game. BJ Daniels is a heck of a runner. Yes, I said runner. His passing skills need to develop immensely. He got a couple of balls picked that went right to the corners and he should have had a couple of more. The deep ball he hit for a touchdown isn't something for USF fans to hang their hats on. Every team this season has burned that FSU secondary.

Defensively, USF is for real. Their corners made every tackle. Leavitt obviously has tons of faith in his cornerbacks because they were giving the Seminole receivers 10 yard cushions on every down. If they miss a tackle on one of those simple curl routes, it's a 40, 50 yard gain every time. They were solid tacklers and did a fantastic job.

Something I didn't like in this game was Leavitt and his chop/cut blocking. It happened several times during the game and was only flagged once. Florida State defensive tackle, Jaccobi McDaniel, stormed off of the field fuming at a non chop block call. On the replays, you clearly see BJ Daniels 30 yards down field from where McDaniel was and Hermann, USF's guard, chops McDaniels at the knees while he's not looking. Cheap and dangerous, but I'm not surprised coming from a Leavitt coached kid.

All and all, Florida State got their butts handed to them by an inferior team. I don't foresee this 'Nole team winning another game this season if they play like that.

Miami had all of the momentum in the world. The team looked like they were coming back. Harris was a Heisman candidate, correct? The "U" was back, right?

They choked...

I said it earlier this season that if Miami didn't fix that soft defense, well-coached teams like Va Tech were going to crush them. Don't I look dumb.

Virginia Tech applied pressure onto Harris all afternoon. He had zero time and when he did have time he overthrew the football. The running game was stagnant because Maimi was playing from behind and that all-world offensive line (I'll be the first to admit I thought they were honestly one of the best in the nation) got beat by a faster, more physical Hokie d line.

It doesn't get easier for the 'Canes with Oklahoma coming to Miami.

I don't have much to comment on the Florida game other than I was praying for Tim Tebow. Let me preface this with saying that the hit Tebow took was legal. I keep hearing from Gator fans that it was a cheap shot and it would've been a fine in the NFL. I disagree on both counts, but I don't see how any of your incessant whining will heal Tim any faster.

That young man is a warrior and I'm sure will bounce back and be 100%. I hope the coaching staff monitors him closely because concussions can be a very tricky thing. They might go away in a day or linger for the rest of your life. I pray for a speedy and healthy recovery.

The only comment I have to say on the Kentucky game is UF's defense may be one of the best I've seen ever. I know it's Kentucky, but the Gator defense was flying and hitting. They are well-disciplined and don't allow big plays.

As for Brantley, he's very talented, but he's not Tebow.

That's all I've got, kiddos. Miami wins a close one versus Oklahoma, South Florida loses to the fighting Paulus' errrr Syracuse, and Florida State loses at Boston College. Enjoy a great a football festive weekend!

Friday, September 25, 2009

College Football: Week3

Was it all it was hyped up to be? Florida-Tennessee? The anticipation was excruciating for Gator fans in the Tampa area. Sweat slinked down their brows. Anger and much smack vomiting from their mouths. Eyes wide. Knuckles white. Kick-off...!

What a boring, awful, snooze-fest.

Tennessee reminded me much of Monte Kiffin's former employer. Fast, well-coached defense. Boring, predictable offense. The Gators could've been in trouble during the game. Tennessee was able to run the ball and you could definitely see it taking a toll on the Florida defense, but because of a lack of threat with Tennessee's passing game UF was able to easily adjust to Kiffin's boring, Big 10-like game plan.

Florida's defense was the true winner in that game. Yeah, I know, UF won and it's a team game, but have you ever seen anything so lethargic like UF's offense? I said it in my two previous blog's: do you know why Timmy tucked it and ran so much? It has nothing to do with protection, which UF's line did a good job on that excellent UT front. It has nothing to do with coverage sacks. Tebow has no faith in an injury depleted and drop happy wide receiving core. He also struggled reading an NFL-type defensive scheme.

I'm not one to hang my hat on anything, but I said if it wasn't fixed by Tennessee it's going to linger for the season. Seeing Tim run that much is a recipe for disaster. No, I don't think he'll get hurt. He has proved over and again he can carry the load. But last year he shared the load resulting in a National Championship. The year he thought he could do it all himself he won a Heisman, but fell to a 9-4 season. UF's young wide outs have to step up. Kentucky's secondary is terrible and I expect major strides, swine flu or not, to take place.

And this pissing match between Urban and Lane is dumb. Lane was idiotic in his comments that UF cheated and so on (I actually thought it was okay for him to announce a win during his inaugural press conference. What's he supposed to say? "We're gonna lose to UF and sing 'Rocky Top' all night long.") Meyer stating after the game that his team had the swine flu and that's why they played so poorly, to me, is a slap at Kiffin's kids. Essentially, Meyer's saying, "We won, but we could've won bigger if we were healthy." Why wasn't the swine flu disclosed before the game like other teams have done? If Tennessee would've won, would that have been Meyer's excuse for losing? I applaud Lane for sticking up for his players.

This is football people. This isn't war or politics. Quit getting so upset over trivial matters. I digress...

Florida State shocked me and the rest of the nation by drubbing then #7 BYU on their turf. Ponder is polished and is a good quarterback. No one can deny that. The running game finally showed up and was the hero of that route allowing the offense to stay on the field and keep gunslinger, Max Hall, on the sidelines. Question is, how good is BYU?

The 'Noles are still awful on defense giving up 28 points and nearly 500 yard of offense. That'll never get it done for an ACC Title contention. I have to give them credit though. It seems for every big play they lay down on, FSU's D bounces back with a huge play.

Greg Reid looks like a seasoned vet with that move he put on BYU's tight end. The young freshman corner grabbed Andrew George's shoulder, slowing him down, and cut him off for a pick 6. The refs couldn't see it due to the angle Reid was positioned. I'm not surprised by this NFL move considering Reid is coached by none other than Florida State great Terrell Buckley.

If FSU can get even slightly better on defense, they'll contend for the ACC.

USF took a mighty blow losing senior leader, Matt Grothe to an ACL injury ending his collegiate career. I, along with many other college football fans, enjoyed watching this young man play his guts out for the Bulls. I want to say thank you and good luck in the next level.

South Florida trounced another cupcake in their final scrimmage before heading to Tallahassee. The Bulls running defense is still shaky and Selvie, who's been going up against lesser talent, has been mediocre at best.

Freshman QB and Tally native BJ Daniels grew up an FSU fan and now gets a chance for the potential upset in Tallahassee. He has major shoes to fill because Grothe used to shine in games like these. Maybe some of his magic will rub off on the young signal caller.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Florida crushes Kentucky in Lexington, Florida State wins a close one against South Florida, and Virginia Tech upsets #9 Miami in a brutal slug fest.