Archive for November, 2009

Great Finishes

November 29, 2009

by Tommy Lawlor

Kentucky and Tennessee went to OT.  The Wildcats missed a FG.  Vols RB Montario Hardestry, who had a great game, ran up the middle for a TD to win the game.  Great effort by UK.  They might have won the game in regulation if not for a sensational tackle by Safety Dennis Rogan.  He shed a block and tackled a runner who had an open lane to the end zone.  Great game.

Stanford just beat Notre Dame 45-38.  RB Toby Gerhart was 29-205 for 3 TDs.  Great, great performance.  I love watching him run.  Great power, but also good vision and nimble feet for a big guy.  Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate did their best, but the lack of defense was too much to overcome.

Georgia upset Ga Tech.  Feels weird to write that.  The Dawgs ran the ball all game long.  They played pretty good defense and made just enough plays to win.  I thought LB Rennie Curran was very impressive.  Safety Reshad Jones broke up 2 downfield passes late in the game to help seal the win.

LSU beat Arkansas 30-27 in OT.  The Hogs missed a FG in the extra period.  They had a lead late in the game, but LSU was able to march down the field and kick a tying FG.  I have to tell you, though, that I’m really starting to question how good a coach Les Miles is.  His team made some dumb mistakes on that drive and got away with them.  Fair or not, Les is held to high standards.  I just haven’t been all that impressed by LSU in the last two seasons.

Great Night of Games

November 29, 2009

The final regular season Saturday was very disappointing early, but there are some great games going on tonight.

Kentucky and Tennessee just started OT.

ND and Stanford are in a shootout.

UGa And Ga Tech are back and forth.

LSU is trying to hold off Arkansas.

BYU beat Utah in OT.

I’ll add some thoughts a bit later on.  Fun stuff to watch.

Couple of Things

November 25, 2009

New college notes are posted on the front of the site:

http://www.scoutsnotebook.com/

 

MNF

I hope plenty of you were able to watch the HOU/TEN game on Monday night.  That was a lot of fun.  Vince Young played well and the Titans won.  Texans kicker Kris Brown had a chance to tie the game late, but missed on a long FG.  He just missed a long kick against Indy as well. 

I had mixed feelngs about who I wanted to win that game.  I’ve been a Jeff Fisher fan since he was an assistant coach with PHI, SF, and the Oilers.  I also like the Titans organization.  They’ve had some real high quality scouts and personnel guys over the years. 

At the same time, it is hard to root against the Texans.  They have a solid organization, good players, and a good fanbase.  I feel bad that they haven’t been able to break through and get to the postseason.  Losing on Monday doesn’t kill them, but they do have an uphill battle. 

Thanksgiving Games

There has been talk recently about whether the Cowboys and Lions should keep playing home games on Thanksgiving Day.  Do they have an unfair advantage?  Should the league mix it up? 

Leave the games in Detroit and Dallas.  We need some traditions to be left alone.  I don’t think the game of football should be trapped in 1969, but I do think that we need some ties to the old days.  And that doesn’t mean throwback uni’s.  We know the league does that to sell jerseys. 

Baseball is probably too tradition oriented, but football needs to be more in that direction.  Don’t get away from certain ties to the past.  Constant change isn’t a good thing.  NASCAR made a lot of changes in the last 15 years to appeal to new fans.  They ticked off some of the old school fans in doing so and now are finding out that the new fans are fickle. 

The NFL is a well-run sport and is still headed in the right direction.  I like an awful lot of what the league does.  I’m open to some of the changes.  I do think we need to leave certain things alone.  Thanksgiving games should stay as is.  I do like the night game on the NFL Network.  That’s a nice touch. 

There is a benefit to Dallas and Detroit keeping games.  I can teach my nephews how to hate Jerry Jones at least once a year when the whole family is together.  I can also get them to watch the Lions and see how football isn’t supposed to be played.  Unless of course Matt Stafford and Jim Schwartz do get that organization turned around.

Wild Sunday

November 22, 2009

by Tommy Lawlor

DAL 7 , WAS 6 — Washington outplayed Dallas much of the game.  They led 6-0 late in the 4th Qtr and were on the move.  The drive stalled and they had to settle for a long field goal attempt.  It missed.  Dallas had run the ball most of the game, but their passing attack came alive on the ensuing drive.  Tony Romo ran around and hit Patrick Crayton for the winning TD.  Jason Campbell tried to lead WAS on a late drive, but had a pass deflected and picked off.  Great effort by the Skins.  They lost an OL in the game.  Portis didn’t play.  Ladell Betts hurt his knee and left the game early.  Big Al missed the game.  They came real close to winning, but the offense couldn’t get into the end zone and Shaun Suisham missed a pair of FGs. 

DET 38, CLE 37 — Who thought this would be one of the game of the day candidates?  The Browns got out to a huge lead, 27-3.  Detroit fought their way back into the game and took a 31-27 lead.  Brady Quinn led the Browns to a 37-31 lead late in the 4th Qtr.  Matt Stafford and the Lions got the ball back, but had no timeouts.  They also had a long way to go and not much time to get there (kudos to Jerry Reed).  Stafford worked the Lions down the field to about the CLE 30.  There were only 8 seconds left.  He took the snap and dropped back.  He got pressured and ran around for a couple of seconds trying to find somewhere to throw from.  Finally he had some space and hurled the ball into the end zone.  Stafford took a huge shot and fell to the ground.  The ball went into a crowd in the end zone.  The Lions didn’t make the catch, BUT WAIT…we have a couple of flags on the play.  Pass interference on the Browns.  That means one play from the 1-yard line will decide the game.  Backup QB Daunte Culpepper came out to take the snap, but there was a timeout.  Stafford went back onto the field.  He faked a handoff and then hit TE Brandon Pettigrew with a good pass for the tying score.  The kicker came out and nailed the PAT to win the game.  Great comeback win for Stafford and the Lions.  Painful loss for the Browns.  At least they scored points. 

* I didn’t watch much of the KC/PIT game.  I just assumed that the Steelers would put the Chiefs away.  I saw it tied late and PIT had the ball.  I flipped back to another game.  Next thing I know the game is in OT.  Big Ben took a hit and left the game.  QB Byron Leftwich came in.  The Steelers were near FG range, but a good tackle by LB Jovan Belcher drove them back a couple of yards and they punted.  Chris Chambers caught a pass over the middle and headed down the sideline for a gain of 60+ yards.  That set up the winning FG.  Huge win for the Chiefs and coach Todd Haley.  That team now has won consecutive games.  Those players needed to taste some success. 

* I did watch a lot of the NYG/ATL game, but turned away in the 4th when I thought the G-men had it wrapped up.  The Falcons tied it up and the game went to OT.  Eli Manning came up big in OT (had a good game overall) and led the Giants down the field to set up the winning kick.  WR Mario Manningham and TE Kevin Boss looked like they had big days. 

* BUF lost to JAX on a late TD.  Interim coach Perry Fewell did a pretty good job from what I could tell.  The Bills had a lot of energy.  They threw the ball well.  TO chipped in a 98-yard TD and had a big game. 

* IND beat BAL in a tight game.  The Ravens lost because they had to settle for 5 FGs (missed a 6th).  The Colts were just good enough to get the job done. 

 

Saturday Wrap

November 22, 2009

by Tommy Lawlor

Great day of games.  Days like this remind me why I love college football so much.  You don’t need to be a fan of a particular team to enjoy the games.  You get caught up in the drama on the field and the atmosphere of the stadium.  You see agony and ecstasy.  Mix in a few cheerleaders and that is CFB at its best. 

Oregon over Arizona — the Ducks won the game in OT to keep control of the race for the Rose Bowl.  They will play Oregon State for the Pac-10 title a week from Thanksgiving.  I can’t say enough about the toughness of QB Jeremiah Masoli and the play of RB LeMichael James.  Those guys didn’t panic when Arizona had the lead.  They didn’t panic on critical 3rd down plays.  They just got the job done.  I feel bad for the Wildcats.  They’ve never been to the Rose Bowl and that streak continues.  Still, it has been a terrific season for Arizona. 

Kentucky over Georgia — These teams played a great game last year, but UK came up just short.  This year the Wildcats made key plays and won the game in the 4th Qtr.  Georgia fans really disappointed me.  Late in the game they started to leave despite the fact that teh Dawgs weren’t out of it.  LB Sam Maxwell had a big game. 

Cal 34, Stanford 28 — This was a back and forth game.  Stanford had the early lead before Cal took control of the game.  Stanford had the ball inside the Red Zone in the final 2 minutes and you just knew they were going to pull off the comeback.  Then QB Andrew Luck threw a pass over the middle to his TE.  Unfortunately he didn’t notice the Cal LB also in the area.  The ball was picked and that ended the game.  Toby Gerhart had 4 TD runs. 

Hawaii 17, San Jose St 10 — This game went to OT and I just caught that part of it.  SJSU coach Dick Tomey announced his retirement this week.  It would have been nice to see him go out with a win.  Tomey isn’t a star coach like Paterno or Bowden, but he’s one of those guys that anyone associated with the game of football really respects.  He’s a coach’s coach.  He won at San Jose, Hawaii, and Arizona.  The Warriors kept their bowl hopes alive with the win. 

Nebraska 17, Kansas St 3 — I used to love watching KSU.  It was a guilty pleasure.  The Wildcats had a weird mixture of Jucos, farmboys, renedgades, and castoffs.  Some of that fun went away when Bill Snyder left.  He’s back this year.  KSU is playing better than expected.  The Wildcats  gave the Huskers everything they could handle, but KSU had serious Red Zone problems and lost.  Still, it was fun seeing them show some of that old magic.  I hope Bill Snyder is able to get the team really going. 

Ole Miss over LSU — Classic finish.  Unless you’re an LSU fan.  They were down 8 points late in the game.  The Tigers scored a TD.  They went for 2 to tie up the game, but the play failed.  The went with an onside kick and recovered it.  The offense stalled, but hit on a big play with just seconds left.  That put them into FG range.  LSU had no timeouts.  The clock showed :01.  Instead of hustling the FG unit on the field the offense stayed out there.  WHAT!!!???  The QB acted like he was going to down the ball.  Again.  WHAT!!!???  Before the ball was snapped the clock ran out.  LSU coach Les Miles had some bizarre explanation as he left the field, but it really seemed like the LSU coaches screwed up big time.  Did they think they had a timeout?  Was there confusion between the offensive assistants and the special teams?  I don’t know.  LSU fans have to be sick that they were in position to win the game and didn’t even get a play off. 

Fla State uniforms — The Seminoles came from behind to beat Maryland.  That wasn’t anything special.  The game did stand out because of what FSU wore.  They had all red uniforms.  The numbers were gold.  The helmets were black.  They looked…awful.  Or worse.  Please FSU, don’t ever wear those again.  The win did keep their bowl eligibility alive.  They’re now 6-5 with a game left at Florida.

Some Saturday Stuff

November 21, 2009

by Tommy Lawlor, http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

Irish go down in OT — UConn went to South Bend and beat ND 33-30 in OT.  No shame in losing to a tough UConn team.  The only thing that Irish fans should be ticked off about is how easily the Huskies ran the ball late in the game and in overtime.  They have a one-dimensional offense and you should be able to shut them down or at least really make them work for every yard.  That didn’t happen. 

Craig James is an Idiot — He starts talking and has no idea what will come out of his mouth.  Craig told us that ND lost to Pitt last week and is now losing recruiting battles.  He muttered something about the Irish losing to players who should have gone to ND.  Huh?  Did those recruits sign with Pitt 3 weeks ago?  Recruiting takes a year or two to really have an affect.  ND’s struggles will hurt them on the upcoming signing day.  That will affect them in 2010 and 2011. 

Clemson Isn’t Choking — The Tigers were infamous for coming up small in big games under Tommy Bowden.  They came into today’s gave with Virginia with a chance to seal a spot in the ACC title game.  BC’s loss to UNC earlier in the day already took care of that, but Clemson still went out and took care of business.  They aren’t going to back into the title game.  They earned their way in.  Good for the Tigers.  A loss in the title game or bowl game won’t fall under the “Choke” category. 

SEC Barnburner — Ole Miss just took the lead over LSU, 22-17.  The game is early in the 4th.  Entertaining game.  Dexter McCluster is one fun kid to watch.

Pete Carroll is Smart

November 21, 2009

Remember all the hub-bub last year when Pete Carroll tried to keep QB Mark Sanchez from going pro?  People got all over Pete.  They thought he should have been more supportive of his guy going pro. 

Pete knew two things: 

1 – USC needed Mark Sanchez to return

2 – Sanchez wasn’t ready for the NFL

The Trojans have been blown out in some recent games.  The defense has caught most of the flak, but the offense hasn’t helped matters.  The offense only put up 20 points at Oregon.  One way to slow down the Ducks offense would have been to keep the ball away from them.  The next week USC only scored 14 points in a win over Arizona State.  Last week USC lost to Stanford 55-21.  The 55 points allowed is the number that sticks out, but QB Matt Barkely had 4 turnovers.  He hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards in any of the last 3 games.  You can bet Sanchez would have made a substantial difference for the Trojans.  No way they lose 3 games if he comes back. 

Sanchez hasn’t played any worse than most NFL  rookies.  The Jets are 4-5 and competitive.  However, they got off to a fast start.  Since then they have lost 5 of 6.  Sanchez has 12 INTs.  He’s fumbled 8 times, but only lost a couple of them.  Mark has completed 53 percent of his passes and has a rating of 66.5.   Mark has had some good moments, but I think anyone would agree that another year at USC would have helped him.  He’s benefited from playing behind a good OL and having the NFL’s #1 rushing attack.  Think about how much success Matt Ryan had last year with a similar set up.  He was able to lead that team to the postseason.  He was a mature, experienced QB.  Sanchez is still learning how to play QB.  He had 14 starts under his belt coming out of USC.  With preseason games included, Sanchez has 13 starts this year. 

While everyone picked on Sam Bradford for staying in school, Sanchez might have really benefited.  If he had a good year at USC there is a real chance he’d have been the #1 QB taken in the 2010 Draft, possibly #1 overall.

A Different Look at the Heisman Race

November 13, 2009

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tommy-lawlor/heisman-minus-the-hype_b_354923.html

Take away the hype and judge things solely on 2009…you get a completely different outlook on things.

Thursday Night Thoughts

November 13, 2009

I started watching the USF/Rutgers game.  South Florida was awful tonight and that game was painful to watch.  Neither team is all that good.  Both teams seemed to bring out the worst in each other.  Rutgers won going away.  Final was 31-0 I think.  I stopped watching shortly after halftime.  Remember when Big East primetime matchups were fun to watch and incredibly compelling?  Didn’t matter whether it was WV, Pitt, USF, Rutgers, or Louisville.  Any combination of those teams were going to give you a good game.  There was a streak of great games at one point.  I long for those days. 

I turned my attention to the NFL game.  The Bears were out in Frisco to take on the Niners.  It was a defensive battle, but fun to watch.  For some reaon I really enjoy SF’s defense.  The only great player is ILB Patrick Willis, but the other guys play real tough defense.  I love effort guys. 

I also love watching Frank Gore.  It would be great to see SF develop a good O-line so that Gore would consistently have holes to run through. 

Jay Cutler had a bad game, partially due to bad luck.  He threw 5 picks, but a couple weren’t his fault.  Still, his team put up 6 points and he had 2 Red Zone INTs.  No way to spin that other than saying he struggled. 

OL Chris Williams was called for a late hit late in the game.  Obvious call.  Unbelievably dumb mistake.  He went to Vandy.  Smart kid.  Yet, late in the game he takes out a LB standing near a pile?  Huh???  Lovie Smith probably wants to kill him. 

Dre Bly was called for illegal contact on 4th/10 with about 2 minutes left.  He hit the receiver 10 yards downfield, even if it wasn’t much.  Dumb on his part.  That kept the drive alive and the Bears marched right down to the 15 yard line.  They stalled out there and Cutler was picked by Mike Lewis to end the game. 

SF ended a losing streak and showed a lot of heart in doing so.  We’ll see if they can build on this.  Chicago is mired in a slump, having lost 4 of 5.  The Bears played better defense, but tonight their offense let them down.  I’m sure Bears fans are sitting there asking “Why’d we trade for Cutler if he’s going to throw 5 picks”?  Cutler is very talented, but he’s always been a bit erratic.  Jay threw 32 INTs in his last two years in Denver.  He simply forces the ball at times.

Notes Posted

November 12, 2009

College and NFL notes are up on the site. 

http://www.scoutsnotebook.com

 

Don’t forget that Thursday night is the debut of Thursday games on the NFL Network.  I’m looking forward to SF/CHI.  The Niners are fun to watch because of how tough they are.  The question is whether they can score enough points to win the game.