Monday, September 29, 2008

Cleaning out the Fridge

Leftovers from the Weekend

I'm convinced now that Alabama should be the Number one team in the land. The Tide rolled through Georgia to get the win. Basing it on pure performance to this point, the Tide has to be top ranked. And they just might be the best team as well.

I'm also convinced that Lloyd Carr was indeed on campus in Syracuse last weekend. Now exactly what he was doing there is open for debate. But he was there. No doubt about it.

I'm also convinced it wasn't to be named the next football coach of the Syracuse Orangemen. If that were going to happen, it would be done by now. But I'm interested and maybe even a little bit excited that he was there and Totally wasn't. I mean could it be that someone else, Cantor or someone else is asking for someone else's opinion (Carr) on how to fix this thing. It means that maybe not everyone is as happy with Totally as they let on.

I'll take Boonah Brinkley as my starting running back anyday. I'd give him the ball more than 18 times a game too. Good running on Saturday and he deserves more than what he's getting. I expect he'll finish with somewhere around 1080 yards.

One of our favorite stories of the year, Rice, scored 77 points over the weekend. A big win over North Texas. The Owls are 3-2 now with losses to unbeatens Vanderbilt and Texas. Great stuff. Even more amazing than the 77 point outburst was that Rice went scoreless in the final quarter. Chase Clement and Jared Dillard connected for three more touchdowns, now with an NCAA record 41 in their career. Clement was 22-of-28 for 298 yards and 5 scores, Dillard had eight catches for 114 yards. Yes, North Texas is worse than Syracuse. But I wouldn't want to be forced to prove it.

The Syracuse field hockey team went 2-0 on a New England road trip. The Orange won a Big East tilt, 4-2, over Providence on Friday and downed UMASS 5-4 on Sunday, holding on for the victory. Because you care, we remind you that SU is 10-0 on the season.

I was really looking forward to a great night of college football on Saturday. But none of it materialized. The big Alabama win was the most surprising. Was also a little on the shocked side that TCU's defense didn't keep things close in Norman for a little bit longer.

Penn State got a realitively easy home win over Illinois. They continue to impress with their offense, but I wouldn't be shocked if their defense lets them down at some point this season.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Night Football: Games 28-30

I'm watching three games right now. Utilizing Tivo and two TV's. I'm about forty minutes behind as well. But I wanted to see these three games and this was the best way to do it. Not sure if I'll actually get them complete or not tonight. But if not, I'll watch the rest tomorrow.

Anyhow, I'm watching Oklahoma dismantle TCU, South Florida do about the same at NC State and the big game between the hedges with Alabama up early on Georgia.

So here are some things I'm thinking as I watch....

....Oklahoma is outmanning TCU. It isn't even close. Somebody told the Sooners to look good and they might get the #1 ranking on Monday morning. They were paying attention. But remember none of that matters.

....I've watched five Big East teams in the last 24 hours (less than that actually) and it is easy to see that South Florida is the fastest. Not sure they are the best, but definitely the fastest.

....Bama seems to have a little bit of control on the game in Athens, but I'm still counting on that being one of those great SEC games. Still the quarterbacking of John Parker Wilson is pretty impressive. He's not the most talented guy, but his experience makes a huge difference.

....Georgia doesn't really look sharp though, and the Tide does. You have to wonder if that cross-country trip is having any effect on them. Of course a pair of aggressive penalties, late hits on the quarterback have given Bama some big yardage as the Tide is knocking on the door again. Mark Ingram, son of NFL wide receiver Mark Ingram, is the secondary runner for 'Bama. If you go back far enough in this blog you'll find a post about famous sons, and it seems like everyone has one. Here is another. I think the Tide is going to be forced to kick a field goal here. Nick Saban doesn't look like he likes it, but he's ahead 10-0.

....Georgia needs to settle down and try to get something on this drive. The quarter clock is about to change. And the Dawgs just need to get their wits about them. With Stafford at quarterback they shouldn't panic. But Bama is once again looking like one of the top teams in the country. (if not the top)

....TCU is getting its wits about them a little bit. They got a break on a timeout being granted before a third down deep in its own territory and has moved it out to just about the 45 and picked up another first down. This is the first time that TCU has had any real momentum.

....With that TCU turns the ball over to Oklahoma. And the Sooners have the ball back. But even the field position gained was a positive for TCU. Still this game is just about over. You just don't expect anyone, let alone TCU, to come from behind 21-3 in Norman Oklahoma.

....TCU has nine penalties on the road against the #2 (1) team in the country. You just can't do that and expect to win. You can't do that in the course of a game, let alone in 22 minutes.

....Matt Grothe gets viewed as a big running threat (and he is) but he makes some sensational throws as well. Like the one right before haltime that allowed USF to get another field goal before halftime.

....Is it possible that Alabama is the best team in the country? Based on their performance early in the season it is tough to deny them that ranking. We'll have to wait and see how it all shakes out but wins over Clemson, Tulane, Western Kentucky, Arkansas and now Georgia - two of those games coming away from home - make them look like a true contender.

Northwestern/Iowa: Game 27

Taped this game and watched it following Syracuse/Pitt. Here are some thoughts I had during the game.....

....I'd really like to play Northwestern now. Not sure we'd win, but I guarantee we'd score more than 10 points.

....The turnover on the punt return before halftime was a huge gift. Northwestern was just about done. And it allowed Bacher to hit Ward down the middle of the field and set up the touchdown pass to Ward two plays later.

....Shonn Greene runs hard. But Iowa consistently has good running backs. You've got to figure it has something to do with good talent and the system that Iowa has in place.

....Jerimiha Hunter, another mid-stater, is the leading tackler for Iowa. No surprise he was a top notch high school player, despite all the drama that went along with him.

....Shaun King is no longer playing in the NFL? Wow that was quick. I do like the fact that there are live games on ESPN Classic - and the fact that they put the live banner on it. Of course, I am watching the game via TIVO, so I keep getting confused.

....Worst part about watching this game on tape. They keep showing the Syracuse/Pittsburgh score and the Orange has a lead. Knowing it doesn't hold up brings the hurt back, and it was just starting to wear off. That's how bad it has become, the hurt is gone an hour after the conclusion of a game I convinced myself all week we'd win. That used to take days.

....Oh my, Northwestern has tied this game up. Oh actually not, they missed the pat. So much for the tie. I don't think I'll be fast forwarding through this in the second half. Although, the Wildcats have to feel mighty fortunate just to be in this game. And now Iowa fumbled the kickoff. That is the fourth Hawkeye turnover. This is starting to not look so good.

....I'd take Tyrell Sutton in my backfield. Good strong runner and he has nice hands out of the backfield as well.

....Guess what? Another Iowa turnover. It's still 17-16 with 11:58 to play. But wait the fumble is being reviewed. This has been a real boring game. Iowa has the lead because Northwestern has missed an extra point and a short field goal, in spite of turning the ball over five times as the review is upheld.

....Northwestern is going to end up winning this 22-17 and move to 5-0. I'm pretty much surprised by this outcome. Especially considering the fact that Iowa had a 17-3 lead at home.

Let's play some football

I wish I was in the Carrier Dome. I still really think we're going to win. I'm ready to kick it off. We'll share our thoughts throughout the day. Stick around.

Go Orange!

12:01PM - John Congemi but no Dave Sims. What a shame. Mike Gleason on the play by play.

12:04PM - Syracuse defense came out daring the Pitt offense to throw. And they did fairly successfully, and moved the ball down the field. But the defense did stiffen and held the Panthers to a 40-yard field goal from Conor Lee. The Orange has to be happy to hold them to three, but Pitt has to be happy getting points on the board. Let's see what the offense can do.
Mike Holmes 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Nice cut for a touchdown.

12:19PM - I knew this was our Louisville game. The kickoff return further indicates that.

12:22PM - Good field position upcoming for the Orange - after a good stop by the defense. Some pressure on the quarterback led to two incompletions on the first two plays and Oderick Turner was held short after catching a screen on third down. Now we'll get our first look at the offense today. With good field position, a big opening drive would be huge for the Orange.

12:31PM - Cue the band. Touchdown pass (and a great throw) from Cam Dantley to Donte Davis. The TD came after Boonah Brinkley had run well on the drive and the Orange had moved the chains. It was a 27-yard strike. Da'Mon Merkerson played wide receiver on the drive and had a drop. 8 plays 55 yards for the TD. Nice drive.

12:36PM - Another three and out for the Panthers. Great job by the defense after a good first down run by Stephens-Howling. But the defense was bailed out by a third down false start. Fair catch (imagine that) by Ryan Howard. And now we have to listen to Randy Edsall. A good win for he and the Huskies last night. Great job by mid-stater Zach Frazer to help rally the UCONN squad after Lorenzen got hurt.

12:41PM - That's interference. A good throw - and a near catch on third and one. But we should have gone for it on fourth down. And now we might. No they accepted the penalty. Good running by Brinkley on that drive, and then a near home run ball on third and one to Owen, who was clearly interfered with. A decent 30-yard punt by Long backs the Panthers up. The defense needs to keep things going and get the O the ball back in good field position.

12:46PM - The first quarter ends with Pitt on the move a bit. But the best quarter of the season for the Orange and they lead it 14-3 at the moment. Disappointing that the Orange didn't get anything out of the last drive. A clear pass interference on that third down play was not called. Even Congemi, the Pitt apologist, said it was interference or grumbled something like that. By the way, Mike Gleason makes you long for Dave Sims. Guess he's with the Mariners pennant drive this weekend.

12:51PM - I hate that soft zone on third down. We seem to get beat over the middle way too often. And don't get enough pressure to make any difference on those third and medium/long situations. That time they came with an all-out blitz on third down. We don't have a sack yet, but we've bothered Stull. Lee boots it through from 43-yards again to draw Pittsburgh within 8. We stiffened up a little bit, but it appears we're going to blitz less when they can burn us for a big play, and home to make a play later. AJ Brown has had a few big hits out of the secondary.

1:02PM - Is it any coincidence that the first three and out for this offense went with Hogue in as the running back? We really miss Delone Carter to provide an adequate backup for Boonah. But Long got off a good punt and Pitt starts way back at the 21-yard line. Defense needs to continue to play solidly. I've like the play of Mike Mele today and Nico Scott in the secondary has looked a bit better.

1:10PM - First time where I noticed some real missed tackles costing us on this drive. The afforementioned Nico Scott missed an open field tackle on a third down screen pass. That and a facemask penalty on Nick Santiago helped prolong Pitt's first touchdown drive. Give the Pitt coaching staff some credit for adjusting to those Orange blitzes and making a difference. A Stull to Dorian Dickerson touchdown pass on third and goal draws Pitt within 14-13. Syracuse has a chance here to do something before halftime and gets the ball first to start the second half to restore some momentum. Because it sure feels a lot like a Pitt football game right now.

1:19PM - Boonah's got to be close to 100 yards with that run. Big run for the Orange. 44-yard gain. Get him back in the game. I know he needed the break. But get him back in there. Hogue just pattycakes to the line all the time. Man would he be a good linebacker. After the big run from Brinkley, we never saw him again. And we got complacent and happy to take the field goal. Of course most of us would have taken a 17-13 lead at halftime. (Especially if you have the Orange +8 in the first half). Shadle was perfect on the 25-yard kick. The offense has been efficient in the first half. They need points on the first drive of the second half.

1:46PM - Keep kicking it to Holmes. Brinkley just runs very hard, and he is now over 100 today. Van Chew makes a great catch for a touchdown. The replay is upcoming. I'm not sure how they can take it away. He might not have caught it. But there is nothing to indicate otherwise. And it stands. So a great start to the second half. Nice pass, and Chew made a super catch. Over Aaron Berry. The lead is back to 11 and the defense needs to step it up. Its a 36-yard TD.

2:14PM - The defense bent some more and gave up the field goal. But again got a stop and kept Pitt out of the end zone. Then the offense moved the ball a little bit. Some first downs and stuff. Dantley had a couple of nice pass connections. But Pitt came up with a big sack on a third down at about the 35 and forced a punt. Syracuse downed the punt at the ten.

2:19PM - Pitt has extended this drive with a fourth down conversion deep in its own territory. And then McCoy finally breaks one and takes the ball into Orange territory. But he needs to finish the run. So as we head to the fourth quarter, the Orange still leads 24-16, but Pitt is trying to get closer.

2:25PM - Stephens Howling breaks a couple of tackles for a touchdown and the broken tackle on the screen to Baldwin allowed them to keep the drive alive. Both touchdown drives extended because of missed tackles. Stull gets the two point conversion pass to Baldwin as they isolated him on Merkerson. Merk had no idea where the ball was and it cost us. We are tied at 24.

2:34PM - Syracuse has lifted the redshirt on Antwon Bailey. He got two carries on that drive and then Dantley got dumped on third down for the sack. The defense needs to come up big, as Berry makes a nice return (remember it was his returns that won the game last year) and Pitt will start near midfield.

2:38PM - The Syracuse defense has just spent too much time on the field today. They are now missing tackles and Nico Scott just got called for pass interference. Merkerson came up with a big play to drop Stephens-Howling for a big loss. They need to hold Pitt to 3 points here.

2:41PM - Derrell Smith nearly had a pick as Santiago pressured Stull on second down. It was a tough catch. They stopped them on a third down screen. I would assume Pitt will take the field goal and the first lead since 3-0 early. Lee knocks it through from 25 and its 27-24. Let's see if the offense can come up with something. I would assume we'd see Brinkley.

2:49PM - That is going to leave a mark. Dantley fumbles on the sack and Pitt recovers in great field position. Is it asking too much to hold them to a field goal attempt?

2:54PM - That should just about do it. We did not contain on third and goal and Stephens-Howling bounced it to the corner for the touchdown. 3:22 to play, and Pitt leads 34-24. That is seven scoring drives for the Panthers. This one from short range after the fumble recovery.

3:00PM - A fourth down pass from Cam Dantley floats helplessly to the turf and its all over but the blow through the doors. And maybe since nobody showed up, they don't even have to do that.

A solid effort from the Orange. But they didn't do enough defensively to win the game. The unit was out there all day long, and made some key stops early, but eventually Pitt found the way to get the ball into the end zone.

I thought there were two plays that made a huge difference. The 3rd and 1 play to Mike Owen that should have been pass interference, and also the decision not to go for it on fourth down there. And then the sack on the third down play late in the third with the Orange driving and taking them out of field goal range and forcing a punt. With an 8-point lead at the time, getting points there would have kept confidence when Pitt came back with the touchdown.

Plus there were a few missed tackles that if they weren't missed Pitt wouldn't have scored the early touchdowns and who knows what would have happened. But credit the Panthers, they made plays and they are headed to South Florida at the top of the Big East standings.

Down goes USC: Game Twenty-Four

So the undefeated USC Trojans are no more. Oregon State defeated them 27-21 on Thursday night at Reser Field. So exactly, what impact does it have on the Trojans and their quest to win a national championship? Obviously, it's a big blow, but I don't think its a huge blow. Losing in September should give the Trojans a chance to work their way back up the rankings and into a BCS title shot slot, should they win the rest of their games. I expect they will fall to the 8-12 range this week, but over the course of the next several weeks as others lose, they will have the opportunity to move back up and losing early will help them.

Here is a current list of undefeateds and their possibilities....

ACC - Wake Forest. The Demon Deacs are the only team in the ACC that can run the table on the season. Realistically, I think a team like this is one of the biggest threats to USC getting one of the two BCS slots, because they have a realistic shot at going undefeated and not being ignored in the BCS process.

Big 12 - Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma - Still a lot of teams that haven't been beaten. But there is really only one possibility here, because of the scheduling and the conference championship game. Missouri and Oklahoma are viewed as the biggest threats and might have arguments to be ahead of USC if they lose once, but I think realistically if any of these teams go undefeated, and I think both Missouri and Oklahoma are threats to do that, that USC could not get above them in the rankings.

Big East - South Florida, Connecticut - Again because of the schedule both of these teams will not go undefeated. The Bulls play a tough game tonight at NC State, Trojans should root for the Pack. And this situation could become similar to Wake Forest's, but I could see the BCS ignoring an undefeated Connecticut if we got to that.

Big Ten - Northwestern, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin - I did not do the homework necessary to determine if its possible for two of these teams to go undefeated. I think two of them are likely to lose today. Penn State and Wisconsin seem to be the type of team that one loss will kill in this system. They both would end up below USC in that scenario, but if they go unbeaten, they'll play for the championship.

SEC - Vanderbilt, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, LSU - Very similar situation to the Big 12. Where there are two maybe three teams here that could be contenders to USC even with one loss. One of those teams will get it tonight. But if any of these squads ends up unbeaten, they're guaranteed to be ahead of USC. Incidentally, Vandy and Wake play near the end of the season.

The rest - Boise State, Utah, BYU, TCU, Tulsa, Ball State - I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if TCU runs the table they will play for the BCS championship. My rational is this. They play at Oklahoma tonight, and they play both Utah and BYU, which have started the season with solid resumes before the completion. Otherwise, I think these teams are extreme long shots to get the opportunity to play for the championship. Tulsa and Ball State have virtually no chance.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Call Me Crazy

Go ahead, fire away. I'm ready for it. But I'm picking Syracuse to beat Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. Not cover the spread, (but as a 16-point underdog they'll do that to), but win the game outright.

I know it makes little sense. This Syracuse team is awful. I agree, I've got them #118 based on performance up until now. (Idaho and North Texas if you were wondering). Still, I really think Saturday will be a good performance, and I think it will be this year's big win.

The reasons:

1) First off, Pitt is not that good. Dave Wannstedt told me as much this spring. He told me Syracuse was good, I told them we stunk, and he told me that Pitt can't take anybody for granted right now. About that, I think he is right. And I think they just might. After a big home win against Iowa, and a Thursday night road trip to Tampa on their minds, the focus might not be enough on the Orange.

2) The Pitt offense is the type of offense that Syracuse usually does a fairly good job in containing. Even last year, when Lesean McCoy was racking up big offensive numbers, the Syracuse defense held him in check. He got his yards, but it took lots of carries. I think we might see much of the same in a more pro-style offense this weekend.

3) Therefore, it might be forced upon the Pitt Quarterback and receivers to make some plays. I think our defensive backs, which seem to be getting healthier, have the ability to match up with this unit. Stull is a decent quarterback, but he's not the type that you fear is going to beat you. I think Syracuse will try to put him that position, by blitzing and trying to take away the run.

4) Our offense has been getting better and better. The offensive line looks like a cohesive unit for the first time since P was fired and all of that should make a difference. I think we'll be able to garner enough yards on the ground and be efficient enough in the air to score some points.

5) All this stuff in the media this week hasn't really been about how bad this team is. It's been about the AD and the coach, and the team has gotten a little bit of a slide. I think that helps them.

So go ahead, tell me I'm crazy, tell me we have no chance. I disagree. And I think we win the football game. 21-16 Orange.

Go enjoy it. And Go Orange!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Breaking Down the Schedule

We've known the schedule for awhile now. It was officially announced more recently. Well let's take a closer look at the early season schedule and how this shakes out for the most anticipated Mount season in recent memory.

One quick synopsis before I get to the detail. I think this is a good schedule, a little light on home games, but as a small mid-major you'll have that, and I'd have loved to see participation in one of the exempt tourneys. How bout the Legends Classic (that the NEC sponsors) or the CBE Classic to celebrate Phelan's induction, or maybe even the Philly Hoops Classic over the Thanksgiving Holiday? Things for the future, I suspect.

But truly this schedule doesn't send the Mount too far from home, it gives plenty of travelable road games, and I think it gives the team an opportunity to do what I think should be their number one goal this season. Avoid the #16 seed in the NCAA tournament. And let's avoid that 16 seed by being a 13-15 and not by playing in the NIT or CBI.

Ok, here we predictions, but a good look nonetheless...

NOV 14th @ Loyola - Season Opener for both squads on a Friday night in Baltimore. Count me in. Those who can't make the trip, I'm told it was moved from Saturday to Friday in order to accomodate MASN.

NOV 17th @ Virginia Tech - Another TV game, as Comcast has picked this one up. This is the type of the game that this Mount team can win. Not saying they will, but it's the type of game, that that could happen. Tech was an NIT team last year, and thought they should have been in the Big Dance.

NOV 25th @ George Mason - I think it's important for the Mount to continue to play teams from the Colonial. Mason is a natural fit. The unfortunate thing here is I don't think this is a home-and-home series, as the games with Madison and Delaware in recent years have been. That means the Mount is probably getting paid handsomely for the trip. Hope that means I get good seats, although I wouldn't be shocked to see this appear on MASN's schedule when it's finalized. Another game that if the Mount takes its A game on the road, it could win.

NOV 29th vs Boston University - The Terriers really should be the class of the America East (another conference I like having a game against). But they haven't been of late, and have been more in mid-pack range of that conference. I'm hearing that might change this year. Anyhow, the banner goes up this night, and the rumblings are that there might be some throwback unis to celebrate the '62 national championship team. Do we really want to see some of these guys in short shorts?

DEC 1st at American University - Glad that this game stayed on the schedule. Unlike many deals, it seems that this isn't a two-year contract, and hopefully it sticks around for awhile longer. The Mount hasn't had the kind of success against American that they should, and last year's game was a major disappointment. Hopefully, they are more prepared this season.

Dec 4th at Sacred Heart - Not sure if the NEC does this every year. But I sort of like the idea of the championship game from last year being the opener in the conference this year. I also think early in the year, might not be a bad time to have to face the Pioneers, who lost a lot from last year's squad.

Dec 6th at Central Connecticut - On the road early in the season, I think this will be a fairly tough game. CCSU was getting better as last year wore on, and I think they'll continue to improve this season.

Dec 9th vs Navy - This is a game that makes sense for both schools to play and for it to be another annual game. Teams played a gritty gutty game in Annapolis last year. I would think if the Mount uses its athleticism it wouldn't have to be as exciting this year.

Dec 13th at Penn State - Late Saturday afternoon game at the Bryce Jordan Center, 4pm, is calling out my name. Trust me I was counting on one of my teams to beat the Nits this year. I would expect that the Mounties can at least stay within 42. Mark that one down, and consider this another game that could be a big win if the chips fall right.

Dec 20th at Georgetown - This one is probably one of those where you just take the check, play the game, and get ready for Conference play. But it's a great experience to play in the Verizon Center. I just hope I have better seats then I did for the Hannah Montana concert.

Dec 23rd at Lasalle - Speaking of winnable non-conference road games....this one certainly fits the bill. In reality, I'd probably be satisfied with anything more than 5 wins at this point. But wouldn't it be something if this team was 7-4 or 8-3 at this point. If all goes right, it could happen.

Dec 29th vs. Bryant - I'm thinking about introducing a new Mount fan to the ARCC ont this night. I think that would be the best game for it. Bryant is the NEC newcomer, and this is a non-conference game, you go figure it out.

Jan 2nd at Lafayette - What is a Friday afternoon game doing in January? Do people not work on this day? Or is this on ESPNU or something worthwhile? Seriously, all the Mount needs to do is start from where they left off against the Leopards last year, and they should be fine here.

So that would complete the non-conference portion of the schedule. By this time, I expect at least 8 wins. 8-5 would really be grand headed into the bulk of the conference schedule. I'd settle for 9-4, but I'm pushing for 8 wins.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Memo to Daryl

To: The Athletic Director
Fr: The Fan (Speaking for himself and presumably others everywhere)
Re: Recent media comments

As a proud alumnus of Syracuse University, I ask you in the most simple way I know, to simply SHUT UP.

As an alum and a fan of the football program, I am already disheartened enough by the state of the program. We are at a level that we never before sunk to. But under your watch, we have continued to sink deeper and deeper into the abyss. Frankly, it's embarrassing.

But what is worse? I'll tell you what's worse. The emails I get from friends and family members pointing out that you can't keep your mouth shut. The phone calls I receive mocking me because I went to a school with the #3 field hockey program (#2 in the latest rankings) in the country. As if those 8 field hockey wins this fall are supposed to make me forget, we've only won 8 games on the gridiron in the nearly four years that you've been Athletic Director.

As a student I went to Coyne Field, I watched the field hockey team. I've supported the non-revenue programs. I know the volleyball team plays in the Women's Building. I cared about those teams and those sports. I went to their games. But the fact remained that I was usually in the minority.

In fact, I heard our new field hockey coach on the football broadcast on Saturday. There she was asking for a big crowd at Coyne Field on Sunday when they hosted New Hampshire. They wanted to set an attendance record. Wanted to get 450 people there to set an attendance record. Are you serious? 450 and I'm supposed to be excited. Unfortunately, only 207 showed up. Now truly, that's a shame. And I'm glad to see the field hockey team having success.

But the numbers prove that people don't care about the field hockey program. At least, not to the levels that they care about the football or basketball programs. So don't compare the two. If possible, it makes you look like more of a fool than you are.

There it was yesterday on the front of the, a link to a story, where you were taking credit for last year's lacrosse championship, but throwing your handpicked savior of the football program under the bus. Get serious. I mean really do you think you saved the lacrosse program.

And once again, I recall another lacrosse championship we won. I watched it with a good friend and classmate. It was about the third or fourth lacrosse championship we had won since we enrolled at the school in the fall of 1991. His reaction was simply, "I'd trade all those lacrosse championships for one football or basketball title."

Again, I'm glad the soccer team is prospering. I'm glad the Orangewomen made the tourney last year. All of that is good. But it needs to be the icing on the cake. If you don't feed the "800-pound gorilla" (your words) nobody cares. And then when you go spouting your mouth off, calling reporters to plead your case, you not only make a fool of yourself, but you make one of our University.

I don't believe that our football program can return to its recent heights with you in charge of the athletic department. Nothing in your past history indicates to me you are capable of this. But I realize that your time as the AD isn't likely to end soon, as the University has somehow seen fit to sign you to a contract extension. So I'll endure the time that you spend here. I'll continue to live in this land, where I have no hope for a fall football season, for a bowl game, where all my optimism is torn away.

All that I ask is that during that time you keep your mouth shut, and stop embarrassing our University.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Games Nineteen thru Twenty-Three

Recapping the weekend with five games that I watched:

Colorado defeated West Virginia 17-14 in overtime

Connecticut knocked off Baylor 31-28

Syracuse got its first win 30-21 over powerful Northeastern

Wake Forest continued its ACC mastery with a thrilling 12-3 win over Florida State

Utah and Air Force played a great Mountain West game that Utah won 30-23

So here are my thoughts and observations from the weekend.....

.....Syracuse got its first win of the season with a punishing 30-21 win over Northeastern. It never seemed that close and it was a solid offensive performance by the Orange. I'm more convinced after Doug Hogue's rushing performance on Saturday that he is a I-AA running back and nothing more. Actually it was the first time ever that I was ever slightly impressed with him.

.....Just one question? How long is that contract extension they signed Bill Stewart to at West Virginia?

.....I'll still take Wake Forest and Jim Grobe's staff as the best in the country.

.....Are Mark Jones and Bob Davie the plague as far as offense goes. That's the second week in a row where their game failed to produce a touchdown. Tough to figure that. Can't imagine two games in a row without a touchdown, but at least in this one, somebody got to double figures.

.....Could Wake run the table? They've still got a road game at Miami to contend with, and a non-conference game with Vanderbilt, but it's a real possibility.

.....Colorado didn't score after its two first possessions of the game (except for overtime) and still won the game.

.....I'm not a big fan of highly recruited kickers. I'm thinking they might agree with me in Morgantown. Pat McAfee was the highly recruited kicker that they brought to Morgantown and sent hometowner Pat Shadle looking for a scholarship elsewhere. McAfee has never really done anything special, and Shadle is one bright spot on the Orange.

.....I'll bet most folks wouldn't have expected Baylor to be in the game at the end at UCONN. But the freshman quarterback is a real keeper.

.....Utah's win at Air Force is the first loss at home during Troy Calhoun's tenure. Utah was clearly the better team on Saturday but Air Force stayed in the game with a couple of breaks. With road wins at Michigan and Air Force, and a home win over an improving UNLV, it's hard to find too many teams that have done more than the Utes this early in the season.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Game Eighteen: Kansas State @ Louisville

Some thoughts and opinions while watching Louisville defeat Kansas State 38-29 in Big East country last night.....

.....Louisville may become the team I thought they were going to be this year, yet. They had a much better running game last night than I saw the opening week against Kentucky. Victor Anderson ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns for the Cards. He's just a freshman and has true big play ability.

.....You won't see many more better punt returns than the one Deon Murphy had for Kansas State. He seemed to have very little room to run, but somehow got through the Cardinal punt coverage and ended up going 86 yards for the touchdown.

.....Josh Freeman had a good night yardage wise for Kansas State, but the Louisville defense put enough pressure on him at the start of the second half, that it bothered him. He went cold for awhile there, and Louisville seized control.

.....Hunter Cantwell was much more relaxed as the Cardinal QB last night than I recall from the opener. Having the running game, had to be a bonus to him. But the first-year starter showed the accuracy that we've seen in the past, when he's had to replace the starter. He is the type of the guy who could have a very productive season.

.....If Louisville has the type of success it has had defensively this year for the remainder of the year, I would think they are a true contender for the Big East crown. Many have questioned how strong the Big East really is, and maybe that leaves some opening for the Cardinals.

Raven Barber Video

It's not much but it is the Dunk of the Day


Mount gets final '09 Committment

Raven Barber out of Paul VI High School, the same high school that has produced Jean Cajou, has verbally committed to play for Mt. St. Mary's starting in 2009-10. The 6' 7" forward has played with the Triple Threat AAU team out of Washington DC, one of the premier AAU teams in the country, along with fellow commit Dave Golladay.

The Mount will lose just 2 players from this year's team Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell, so the '09 recruiting class for Milan Brown's Mountaineers is now complete. With both of those guys being interior players, it seemed as if the Mount needed to add at least one post player in this class and Barber fits the bill. He has a good build and plays athletically inside. He also has a very nice touch around the rim.

He spoke with the fine folks at about his committment.

He chose the Mount over scholarship offers from fellow NEC schools Robert Morris, Quinnipiac and St. Francis (PA). Meanwhile, St. Peters, North Carolina A&T, Niagara, Akron, Central Connecticut State, George Mason and Army had all been showing interest in the rising senior.

With the 2009 recruiting class now complete, you can count on the hardworking Mountaineer coaching staff to push towards the 2010 class.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Games Sixteen & Seventeen: Auburn/Mississippi State & SMU/Texas Tech

First off, I didn't get to watch as much football as I wanted on Saturday. I was at an MLS game. Sometime I might write about that, because it was pretty exciting. Thankfully, that saved me from having to watch the massacre that was Syracuse/Penn State. I tried to Tivo it, but my good friends along on the trip, wouldn't let me not know the score, they also told me USC was pounding Ohio State. So the only games I got to watch without knowing the score were these two. They were pretty boring....Auburn beat Mississippi State 3-2 and Texas Tech trounced SMU 43-7.

Here are some thoughts and observations from the games....

....After watching the USF and Kansas game on Friday night, the Auburn/Mississippi State game was like watching paint dry.

....Auburn has gone to the spread offense and they are committed to it. But they don't look ready to employ it seriously. Or at least it doesn't look like it will hold up against SEC defenses. Truly what they were doing looked a lot more like West Coast offense then spread to me. But I think that has a lot to do with the fact that spread is much more diverse than people lead you to believe.

....The difference between the SMU/Texas Tech game and the SMU/Rice game from week one was that Texas Tech had more players to make plays on defense. That doesn't mean that Tech is ready to contend in the Big 12. They are getting closer but I can't see them ready to knock off an Oklahoma type team.

....Love the Cowbells in Mississippi State. We need more cowbell in college football.

....3-2 could have easily been like 12-5 or something. So it wasn't quite as boring as it sounds. Which means it really could have been like 28-7. But at some point you've got to convert somethings offensively.

....Paul Rhoades (I think its Paul) is a good fit with Auburn. He's a great defensive mind. I think they are missing him at Pittsburgh. But he and his defensive unit need some credit for this win.

....Joel Meyers and Gary Reasons do a nice job calling games for FSN. Meyers has a great voice and Reasons is decent with the analysis.

....The thing about the Texas Tech offense is that they play it with the riverboat gambling philosophy. They go on fourth downs, they do crazy stuff. It works against SMU, but not sure about the rest of the world.

....June Jones appeared better dressed. But his quarterback still struggled. Bo Levi Mitchell threw five interceptions in just 24 attempts. And most of the picks were just awful decisions. Not only throwing into coverage. But double and triple coverage in most cases. He is just a freshman, and a true at that, but he needs to be better.

....Michael Crabtree somehow managed to get himself incredibly wide open for two touchdowns. The SMU defense was so bad, it was somewhat difficult to make a true evaluation of Crabtree. But he did manage close to 170 yards of catches. He's very good.

Kickoff the Hoops Season

Come meet the Mount at Beef o' Brady's in Frederick this Friday night for a season BBQ kickoff.

Coach Milan Brown and his staff, along with all the players will be on hand for the festivities which runs from from 5-8 pm. The cost is $20 per person for the all-you-can eat bbq - with all proceeds benefiting the Mount Basketball program.

Come meet seniors Markus Mitchell and Sam Atupem. Or chat with point guard Jeremy Goode or NEC tourney hero Jean Cajou as they continue to prepare for the 2008-09 campaign and the defense of their NEC Championship crown.

It should be a great evening and if you're a Mountie you should be there.

The first game is only 8 short weeks away, so what better way to get pumped up for the beginning than by meeting the players and eating some good food.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Game Fifteen:Kansas at USF

A pair of top 20 teams going at it in Tampa tonight. And in the first half it was really all Kansas.

The Bulls didn't have anyone who could stay with Wilson for KU and Todd Reesing had a very nice first half.

Matt Grothe got the Bulls back in the game with a big touchdown run right before the end of the half. So USF has a chance to try to rally at home.

This is the type of loss that is really going to further hurt the Big East if Kansas holds on. I was discussing with someone earlier tonight how the woes of the ACC have kinda taken some of the heat off the Big East thus far this year. But the Big East is going to have to pick it up soon or the heat will be coming.

While this good game is going on, Baylor and Washington State are also playing. Truly, they maybe fighting it out for the worst team in college football title. And it would be deserved. Both of those teams have some problems.

USF had a nice drive there at the start of the second half, but went down the field and didn't score the touchdown. Now Maikon Bonani slammed one through, and its back to a touchdown game. So the Bulls have a chance.

What an absolute great finish to this game. South Florida seized control by scoring 31 straight points to take a 34-20. But Kansas wasn't done and roared back to tie it at 34. Then after the Jayhawks stopped USF, it seemed as if they would get the last opportunity to win it in regulation, but an interception set up freshman Maikon Bonani's game-winning field goal at the horn to give USF a 37-34 win.

It was the second straight week that USF led a 14-point fourth quarter lead slip away only to rally for the victory.

Both Matt Grothe and KU qb Todd Reesing were phenomenal. They combined for 711 yards passing and five scores. But it was Reesing's interception late, that may have proved to be the difference between the two.

Reesing also had the receiving exploits on Jonathan Wilson working for him. Wilson caught 10 balls for 171 and 2 touchdowns and never seemed to have a dark jersey around him. That was a tremendous effort by him.

So of the fifteen games, I've watched this year, I guess I've got to replace the Ole Miss/Wake Forest game with this one at the top.

One last thing, does this make South Florida the favorite in the Big East? Certainly, I think it leaves them as the only Big East team worthy of any possible national title talk at the end of the season. But certainly nine wins are needed before that is really heavy in the discussion. They travel to Florida International and NC State before starting conference play in October.

I've waited all these years.....

What is it they say about timing?

The fact is it probably wasn't from the day I set foot on campus. But probably from the first time I went to a football game in the Carrier Dome, that I've wanted to tomorrow to happen. From the time I saw Tim Sandqvist and Bob Grosvenor patrolling the Syracuse secondary on that old Dome carpet during the fall of '91, my freshman year on the hill, I've wanted to play the school I rooted for growing up. We beat Vanderbilt 37-10 on that Saturday afternoon, and I was convinced at the moment of kickoff, that I was an Orange fan for life.

Gone were my roots. Gone were my allegiances. Gone was rooting for Joe Paterno and the mighty Nittany Lions.

As a kid, I grew up rooting for Penn State. I remember fondly Pete Giftopolous in Tempe, Gregg Garritty on Bourbon Street, and Craig Fayak underneath Touchdown Jesus.

But it all changed that Saturday afternoon, and Kirby Dar Dar's kickoff return for a touchdown on a reverse against Steve Spurrier and the Gators cemented it two weeks later. There was no more Penn State rooting for me, I was a Syracuse Orangeman.

That was better than 17 years ago, (yes, I am that old) and not much has changed. The friendships that I made at Syracuse that have endured the time and the distances have only made my allegiances to the Orange and Blue all the stronger.

And all the while, I've wanted to play Penn State.

Because no matter what, no matter how many of the great football programs that Syracuse beat during those 17 years. And we've beaten our share. Michigan, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Texas, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Miami all among the cherished victories. But that was all just ice cream. For me, Penn State would always be the cherry on the top.

There were times during this period, when I was sure we had the better football program. The national polls, the records, the Lambert Trophy, they all indicated it as well. But without a clash on the gridiron it was all a matter of conjecture. And no matter how many reasons there were for believing that Syracuse had the better program, my Penn State friends (and there are many for which I am fortunate) would simply respond, "Prove it".

To that my only reply was to counter that Penn State wouldn't play the Orange. And they wouldn't. Economically I understand why. Penn State has a huge football stadium that it fills whether they play Coastal Carolina or the defending Super Bowl champions. Those numbers were and maybe still are the one thing that makes me a little bit jealous of the whole Penn State football situation.

So about five years ago it was announced that Syracuse and Penn State would renew their rivalry. Two games, one in the Dome, one in Happy Valley. Fall Saturdays in 2008 and 2009. September 13th 2008 and September 12th 2009 to be exact. I circled the calendars right then and there.

I could not have been happier.

At the time, Syracuse was still a proud program. Struggling a little bit. But still highly competitive and still a match to take down any opponent on any given Saturday. This was going to be fun.

But a lot has happened in the time since. A lot I don't even want to think about. And when Syracuse and Penn State trot onto the Carrier Dome floor tomorrow afternoon, I'll be hoping for the upset. I'll be rooting for the upset. But we're 25 point underdogs at last check. In our own building. This might not be so fun.

Even this summer, when I thought about the upcoming season, I thought if one thing happened, if we beat Penn State, it would all be good. I think at that point, I actually believed it would happen. But now, I'm not so sure.

The Nittany Lion season has started out remarkably well. Their offense has not been stopped, and their defense has not been penetrated (or maybe even tested).

Meanwhile, Syracuse is a shadow of the program it was when I dreamed of this matchup. A program that draws laughs instead of raves from sportscasters around the country. Two losses to meager Midwestern schools to start the season have done nothing to stop the onslaught from fans about the need for change.

So now, something that I desperately wanted. Something that I hoped for years and years upon end would happen, will happen. And I have little or no hope. It's not happening for the reasons I wanted. I wanted validation. I wanted that proof. We're unlikely to get it. Unlikely to come close.

The University is building the weekend up, proud as it should be for the story of Syracuse's lone heisman trophy winner Ernie Davis and his story being told in a movie opening soon, with a premiere tonight in Syracuse, called "The Express".

This is still a big weekend for Syracuse football.

I just expected it to be big for different reasons.

Go Orange! Beat Penn State!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Starting the Weekend: Game Fourteen: UNC @ Rutgers

This is our second look at Rutgers, but just our first look at North Carolina. We're expecting a pretty good matchup in New Jersey tonight.

Fairly charged up crowd as they get started in the shadows of the former Trade Centers, seven years after the attack on America. A nice pregame ceremony from the folks at Rutgers to remember those we lost seven years ago today. We certainly remember them tonight and it puts everything here in perspective.

Other games I'm hoping to watch this weekend. South Florida and Kansas tommorrow night, and then five games on Saturday. The five I'm looking to see...

Penn State at Syracuse - I've waited a long, long time for this and now we stink

Wisconsin at Fresno State - There aren't too many Big 10 teams that go to the Valley, so this could be interesting.

Ohio State at USC - It's the big one in everyone else's living room

Auburn at Mississippi State - I haven't really had the chance to watch Auburn yet, and I think they are flying under the radar a bit.

SMU at Texas Tech - Big battle in Texas, that they might need to get a new scoreboard for.

I'd like to actually watch Rice and Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech/Virginia Tech but they aren't on in this area.

Rutgers looked good on its first drive. They did fail to get in the endzone again, but they did look good moving the football and they capped it with the field goal.

The first quarter has now come to an end and Rutgers has to feel a lot like they did last time out. From a feel standpoint, they seem to be in control of this football game. But then you look up at the scoreboard and they are only ahead 3-0. Although, the numbers do indicate that that Carolina has run more plays.

The more I see Mike Teel, the more I'm convinced he isn't the type of quarterback who can take you to another level. He just makes too many bad decisions and when things in front of him aren't ideal, his bad decisions lead to mistakes. That one there was an interception and now Carolina has the ball in Rutgers territory. But faces a key third down.

Jay Wooten boots a field goal through from 43 yards and we're tied at three.

The game is very physical. A good job there by the Rutgers defense to stymie the UNC offense and hold them to 3 points after the turnover. So often we hear about turnovers leading to points, and that one definitely did. But we don't compliment the defense enough for preventing points from a turnover, and that time the Knights defense kept UNC from tacking on anything more than the field goal.

How bad have things gotten for the Syracuse program? I'm guessing they are the answer to the AFLAC trivia question tonight. The question of course was UNC has lost 20 straight games outside of North Carolina, when was their last win? My guess is in the Carrier Dome about five years ago. But they might have had one since that season opening win.

The Rutgers defense has spent a lot of time of the field. It caught up with them on that drive. Carolina pounded out a good touchdown drive to take a 10-3 drive. The Quarterback Yates had a wide open tight end for the score on a third down play from about 15 yards out. Looks like they confused the Rutgers secondary with the formation.

The UNC secondary has been hitting hard all night. And on that catch Tiquan Underwood was waiting to get hit after the 17 yard reception instead of looking to run.

That was the first drive that Rutgers has had any time of success offensively since the first drive. But they've again got to settle for the field goal and they've drawn within 10-6. It's a good football game as we get towards the intermission.

Ok, so their last win wasn't in Syracuse, it was on a night of big plays in the dessert in Arizona when they beat the Sun Devils. But its starting to looking like it might be tonight, the next time the question is asked. Yates to Brandon Tate for 67 yards on the first play after the kick and the Heels are on top 17-6 that quickly.

The first half is over, it's 17-6 UNC and the Knights leave the field to a cascade of boos. Guess the folks in Jersey don't know what's it's like to play someone other than Norfolk State.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

From the Captain

A quote from Syracuse's senior wide receiver, turned safety, turned back to wide receiver Bruce Williams from the website after the loss to Akron.

I've bolded the important parts.

On the upcoming game against Penn State: “It’s going to be a tough game. Their offense is going to walk all over us. We’re going to go back and get our heads right and prepare for Penn State.”


I can't wait.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Game Thirteen: UNLV @ Utah

After seeing much of Utah's win at Michigan to start the season, and hearing them mentioned as a possible BCS spoiler, I wanted to get an opportunity to watch them this weekend. I didn't really think UNLV would provide much opposition. However, the Rebels did tag them with a 27-0 loss last year, and maybe the Utes were still a little high after that win in Ann Arbor. Here are my thoughts and observations from the game....

....Todd Christensen was on the call for the Mountain Network. Couldn't help but think of the glory days of the Charlie Jones/Todd Christensen tandem from the late game on NBC in the NFL. I also remember Christensen was on the call in the Carrier Dome when the Orange and Donovan McNabb beat Virginia Tech on the last play of the game on a tight end throwback.

....Utah was very sluggish early. UNLV scored an early touchdown, on its first possession, and seemed to be slowed as Utah tied the game at 7. But then UNLV promptly went through the defense and retook a touchdown lead. It seemed as if UNLV was in the game for the long haul. But Utah tied the score before the halftime, and rolled in the second half.

....The Utes were good enough to score five straight touchdowns. But they just never really seemed to be sharp. Although, they did get the Rice-Eccles crowd into the game with their third quarter flurry. The Utes didn't have one player stand out, and maybe that is some of what makes them so dangerous. Eight different Utes caught passes, while seven different Utah players ran the ball. 5 of those players ran for 15 yards or more and the Utes totalled 225 on the ground.

....The thing about Utah is they could go 12-0. They really don't play anyone out of a comfort zone the rest of the way. Certainly, there are teams that could beat them with the Mountain West conference, including BYU and TCU. But there isn't one game that you look at think, wow if they find a way to get by that, they'll go undefeated. So it will be interesting to watch.

....UNLV head coach is Mike Sanford. He's 7-30 through three years and two games. He's officially battling Greg Robinson for the worst record in that timeframe. I love when I compare Syracuse football to UNLV.

Game Twelve: Minnesota @ Bowling Green

The dream of the perfect season is over in FalconLand. A decent game for awhile, but eventually the Big Ten team won out, 42-17, because of way too many turnovers by Bowling Green. Some thoughts and observations from my viewing....

....Minnesota did what Pittsburgh could not, and took down the Bowling Green Falcons. I saw two differences in the game. One it was Bowling Green turning the ball over, instead of their opponent. And two the quarterback play of the opposition. Last week, they were able to bother Bill Stull. This week, Adam Weber was very accurate, completing 21 of 25 passes for 3 touchdowns. He also was effective running the Spread Coast offense that Minnesota utilizes.

....The five turnovers were too much for Bowling Green to overcome. They had fallen behind early, just as they did in the Pittsburgh game, but rallied to trail only 21-17 with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter. But Minnesota scored three unanswered touchdowns to account for the final margin.

....No doubt about it, Minnesota could contend for the MAC crown. But the Big Ten maybe another story. They are definitely improved over last year's 1-11 team. It's refreshing to see a team improve from season to season with a new coach. But with Montana State on the horizon, they should easily be 3-0, and with Florida Atlantic to follow, they could be undefeated headed to the Big Ten schedule.

....So getting to a bowl, could be possible. They miss Penn State and Michigan State on the Big Ten schedule, so they still get the teams they could be able to handle. Wins over Northwestern or Indiana aren't a stretch. And they certainly should be able to compete with the likes of Purdue, Iowa and maybe even Michigan.

....It appears that Gregg Brandon will not be the hot name this week for all the programs looking for a new coach. But by the end of the season, he could be back up there. This Bowling Green team should be a contender in the MAC. But they have to protect the football. You can't beat teams with five turnovers.

Baniewicz has his say

The former Orangemen offensive tackle is feeling the way many of us feel on this Sunday morning.

He sent an email to Donnie Webb after yesterday's game. Here are his thoughts

The link should be fine now

Game Eleven: Mississippi at Wake Forest

Of all the games, I've watched this year, I think this might have been the best. It was close from start to finish. Played well by both teams and coached well by both staffs.

So here are some thoughts on what I saw....

....If you read the Fan Blog regularly, you know that I am a fan of Jim Grobe. You know that I think Wake Forest can be pretty good. But there were times yesterday when Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt outcoached Grobe. Still in the end, the Deacons had enough to knock off Ole Miss, on a last second field goal from Sam Swank 30-28.

....I think the matchup shows the difference in the ACC and the SEC. In my opinion, Wake has every chance to win the ACC. Ole Miss is not going to be any better than the sixth or seventh best team in the SEC this year. Yet, they played yesterday and seemed to be extremely evenly matched. There wasn't a lot of fluke in this game. It was just a good football game.

....Jevan Snead is going to be a real good college football quarterback. You may remember Snead as the guy who battled Colt McCoy for the Texas job two years ago. Now he's, throwing darts for Ole Miss. He threw for four scores yesterday and looked very good doing it. He's a classic drop back passer and he throws the ball very well. He has enough mobility to escape a pass rush. He's got three years to play with Ole Miss and I think they'll be extremely happy when he leaves.

....I hope Houston Nutt gets treated a little bit better at Ole Miss than he did at his alma mater. He actually steps into a pretty good situation. Ed Orgeron the former coach was a good recruiter, so Ole Miss might not have as bare a cupboard as many programs. And Nutt is a good enough coach to make that difference. He brought his Razorback set from Arkansas, it's the Rebel now, and will balance the run and pass out of it.

....Wake had a lot of trouble getting the offense established yesterday, but once they got the running game going, particularly with Pendergrass in the second half, it really made their spread go. Riley Skinner is a solid quarterback, but he needs a running game to help him.

....The week off should help Wake, and then they goto Florida State in two weeks. The 'Noles will be sort of an unknown at that point, as they play no one of consequence before than. But that game will do a lot to determine how things work out in the ACC this year.

Will Syracuse win a game?

I'm waking up this morning, realizing that the state of the Syracuse football program is so bad that we might not win a game this season. After a 42-28 loss to Akron yesterday, I think it's a legitimate question.

Some thoughts and observations from the game....

....Cam Dantley, even though he's extremely limited, is more equipped to run the offense that Mitch Browning is employing. Still, I don't think it matters too much. Because how likely is Browning to be around next year?

....Why did Doug Hogue start at running back? If he was your starter, why did he only play two series? And if you determined that you needed that big powerful back from the tailback slot, and that he looked the best in practice, why didn't you at least use him in short yardage situations the rest of the game, when his bulk would be an asset?

....Not that I'm really suggesting that Hogue should get carries from the tailback slot. Boonah Brinkley looks fantastic, and Delone Carter looks good, but still a bit rusty. I'm confident with them the rest of the season. With that said, some of the credit has to goto the offensive line, which did a nice job. True freshman Nick Lepak was a part of that group.

....Mike Sanford was also 7-29 in his first three years and a game entering last night's game at Utah. So I guess we're on par with UNLV.

....Back to Hogue and the running backs. How long can you afford to keep Hogue on offense? With Brinkley and Carter seeming to be 1-2 at the moment, and the four true freshman running backs, three of which are either highly touted or have drawn rave reviews, it just seems that the present situation for Hogue at RB, and the future opportunity as well, seem clouded. I thought he ran tentatively yesterday, a trait we saw a lot of last year.

....So is the argument that Greg Robinson needed his players really a valid argument on defense? I mean aren't they his players? And I don't think there has been anything real good about the Robinson era, but the play of the defense in his first year, was certainly pretty strong most of the time. It really hasn't been very good since then, and it was awful yesterday.

....I thought when Randy McKinnon got hurt that it would really be a blow to Syracuse. But Paul Chiarra stepped in and really did a nice job. At least in run support. He actually looked like the best tackler out there. Now maybe the Orange was concerned about how he would stand up in pass coverage if they blitzed, but I was impressed with what I could see from Chiarra. The senior led the team with 9 tackles, Jake Flaherty also had nine.

....Was Nico Scott hurt? He started at the one corner, but we never seemed to see him after the early stages. I also saw a lot more of Ryan Howard yesterday than I ever have before. I'd like to see less of Ryan Howard. Dorian Graham, Matt Reid, anyone else as the nickel back, but less of Ryan Howard. (Robinson said afterwards that Scott was hurt in the first quarter)

....I'm starting to be a fan of Anthony Perkins. I think he probably needs to be more consistent, but he does make some plays every now and again. I see the promise of him developing into something to compliment Art Jones.

....Obviously, you had to like the usage of the tight end. Mike Owen had a breakout day and Nick Provo caught the one touchdown pass. Again, I'd like to see more use of the wide receivers, and someone other than Donte Davis as a true receiving threat. Davis is solid and will be our top receiver this year, but Lobdell, Sales or somebody needs to be a threat on the other side. I don't even remember Dantley trying to get the ball to anybody other than a tight end or Davis.

....Ten more games of Greg Robinson, can you stand it? And can somebody get him to take Darryl Gross with him on the way out of town.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Game Nine: Ball State/Navy

Another exciting game on Friday Night ESPN coverage. Ball State downed Navy 35-23. Some thoughts and observations from that game....

....It's always fun to watch the Navy offense go. That offense is so different from what we normally see on Saturday afternoons. It's always amazing that the Academy team which is certainly not as big as most of its counterparts fares as well as it does.

....Nate Davis is the real deal. The Ball State quarterback has a strong, accurate arm and does a great job making decisions. As a third-year starter he has the experience necessary. He in himself makes the Cardinals a true contender in the MAC.

....Ball State opens MAC play next weekend versus Akron. I would think they would be a big favorite in that game. But I'll be able to tell you more after Akron plays at the Orange later today. I would think that Ball State would have a great shot to beat Big 10 team Indiana when they play them in two weeks.

....Navy has a tough stretch in the schedule. But certainly is a threat to beat anyone at any time.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Game Eight: South Carolina @ Vanderbilt

Notes from the game as I watch this Thursday night game....

....Chris Smelley gets the start for the Gamecocks tonight. Proof that the quarterback can be changed after one week.

....Is Scott Kazmir going to throw a no-hitter against the Yankees tonight? I think he might.

....I also think that the Commodores are going to keep this close for a long while. Let's not forget that I think this USC is one of the more overrated bunches in the country.

....With that said, Vandy turned it over to give South Carolina great field position. They face a third and goal now.

....Jesse Palmer did a better job with the tie this week. But he still needs some help.

....Great throw and catch from Smelley to McKinley to get a touchdown on third and goal from the 19. McKinley makes a good catch. Ryan Succup who somehow still has eligibity, seems like he's been there forever, boots the extra point.

....More trouble at Penn State. Paterno suspends three players for this weekend's game versus Oregon State, after marijuana found in their campus apartment. The investigation is continuing and Paterno says they definitely won't play this week. We'll see how that develops.

....South Carolina has had some problems with false starts in the past. Spurrier promised that he'd bench the first offensive line who jumped. He didn't do it when the left tackle just jumped. Vandy just picked off a Smelley pass (no pun intended) and they've thwarted this threat and have good field position near midfield.

....Five quarters now and the South Carolina defense hasn't given up a point. Good job by them.

....Vanderbilt has gotten to within 7-3 as an interception leads to three points and the Gamecocks still haven't given up a touchdown this year. We're getting close to halftime now.

....Does anybody think that East Carolina has a chance against West Virginia this weekend? I really think that the Mountaineers are going to capitalize on the lesser game last week and ECU will be a little too high after the win last week. The one factor that you can't know how it will affect things is the weather as the Hurricane looms.

....Both of these teams started with two tough games on Thursday nights. Of course it gets no easier for South Carolina next weekend as they host Georgia. That could be a good matchup for South Carolina as they get an extra few days off, are the more battle tested team and Georgia maybe looking forward to the big game the following week at Arizona State. Vanderbilt meanwhile, will host an improving Rice squad. Chase Clement threw six touchdown passes for the Owls last weekend. Rice travels to Memphis this weekend before returning to Tennessee again next weekend.

....The Gamecocks got a field goal right before halftime and they lead 10-3. Ryan Succup who seems like a Groza nominee, booted it through. But it was the fake punt that kept the drive alive.

....I know the NFL kicked off tonight. But I just like the intensity of the college game a little more. Oh yeah, and the Erin Andrews factor.

....We've got a ballgame now. Vanderbilt got a break when a punt hit a South Carolina player in the knee and the Commodores recovered. Vandy went right to the air and got a game-tying touchdown. The fans are excited in Nashville and I think its going to be an exciting 25 minutes to the completion.

....Vanderbilt just blocked a South Carolina field goal and we're still tied. I think that Vandy is going to lose this late. But its been an exciting game. I will post my thoughts on the final 20 minutes later.

....Vandy ended up winning this 24-17. They made some great adjustments and ended up scoring 3 second half touchdowns against the Gamecock defense that hadn't allowed any in its first six quarters.

....Might end up being a tough year at South Carolina. They face Georgia next weekend, and even though I think they'll play the Dawgs tough, I can't see them winning that game.

....This was a good start to the college football weekend. So is Vanderbilt going to a bowl this year? At 2-0 with Rice on the horizon, the chances have to be pretty good.

Rumors Swirling

The people I talk to about Syracuse football seem to think that there will be a change at the starting quarterback position for the Orange on Saturday. Those folks have told me that Cameron Dantley will be under center when the Orange kicks off with Akron on Saturday at 3:30 in the Carrier Dome.

Obviously, there has been no official announcement from Syracuse. I don't think you'll get one until kickoff if this happens. And I still say if, because I can't believe that it really will.

But there are several reasons to believe that it will, here they are:

1) The hot seat pressure on Greg Robinson is immense. He needs to get this thing turned around immediately. From what I'm hearing, it's a bowl or he's out. Syracuse didn't look anything like a bowl team on Saturday versus Northwestern.

2) Andrew Robinson made some key mistakes at the quarterback position. His accuracy was one of the big problems. He also threw the interception (when he had a different receiver open down the field) that essentially ended the game.

3) Akron having watched the film had to know that flooding the line of scrimmage was the way to go. Syracuse doesn't have a real deep threat receiver, but ARob's biggest weekend has always been the deep ball. One of Dantley's biggest positives has always been his arm strength. So I think, if, this decision is made its made to stretch the field, take away some of Akron's (and others) defensive options and in a way help the running game as well.

The reasons why I don't think it will happen:

1) Saturday's loss can't solely be blamed on Andrew Robinson. He has been asked to throw the ball away, when pressured. For the most part he did that. But he has to be more accurate.

2) Syracuse wants to run a short passing attack. A west coast offense (that I'm calling the Syracuse spread). From what I've seen over the course of the last three years, Andrew Robinson is most equipped to make those short passes.

3) It's so out of character for Greg Robinson. He has spoken extremely highly of Andrew Robinson, who really has taken a lot for this program. Also, Robinson has always been very loyal to all his players. This move would seem out of character.

Truly, I don't know if it's going to happen. However, I think it's a distinct possibility. One that even makes some sense. In fact, I think the three reasons above for the move, are better than the three reasons against the move. Consequently, if I were making the decision (and obviously I haven't seen Dantley throw a pass since sometime last fall) I'd make the move.

Now let's see what Robinson does.

Either way, it has added a bit of suspense to Saturday's game. And truly, I'm a little bit more excited about it on Thursday of the game week, then I was about last week's game. But if Dantley isn't under center, I think I might end up a little disappointed.

Either way, I'll be rooting for the Orange come Saturday afternoon to try to get this turned around.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mount updates

Haven't talked a lot about Mount basketball lately. I guess there isn't too much going on. A couple of things though.....

.....The opener with Loyola will not be played on November 15th, but on November 14th, a time still to be determined, so that it can be aired on MASN. It's the opener for both teams, and I think that favors the Mount. I had heard the Hounds will compete in the Preseason NIT and was afraid that might have been ahead of the opener. But Loyola will still open with the Mount before heading to Boston to take on BC.

.....The Mount has landed the first of two recruits for 2009 signing and enrollment. David Golladay, who apparently was very impressive on the AAU circuit this summer will come to the Mount. I thought maybe some of you would enjoy this interview on the fine site caainsider. caainsider

.....There have been lots of searches about Dita Krumberga and FHM lately. I don't know anything about it. But I do know, that there is a FHM Latvia, so it's possible, and we're investigating. We'll keep you posted.

The Fan Blog Top 25 + Syracuse

Let me explain, this isn't your typical Top 25. It is not a collection of who I think is better than who. Instead, it is a rational look at several variables, that I think to be important in determing if a team is good. For example, wins against BCS schools. Or performance on the road. Or performance as an underdog. So then we mix them all together, and sprinkle in some other variables as well, and come up with a top 25. Obviously, the sample size is quite small, so we some strange folks early in the season. But by the end, I think it gets things pretty accurate. Try not to judge to much early.

1 Alabama - I can't think of a team that was more impressive early on. The Tide are going to be a factor in the SEC this year and for years to come.
2 Missouri - They are my pick to win it all, and they certainly got off to an incredibly good start with a quality win.
3 Bowling Green - The Falcons aren't likely to stay here very long. A tough home contest with Minnesota awaits. But a great ROAD win rallying from down two touchdowns to get there.
4 Utah - Utes held on for a good win at the Big House. Impressive enough to gain peoples attention. Head to Vegas for a showdown on the Mountain network this weekend.
5 Southern Cal - It's hard to keep the Trojans out of the top slot after what they did coming across the country this weekend. But not too many people, expected too much out of the Cavs. But I think USC is one team that is here to stay for awhile.
6 Wake Forest - The Deacs might also stick around for quite sometime. I'm hoping I get the chance to see them again this weekend. The ABC regional game with Ole Miss hasn't shown up yet on my DIRECTV guide. I'm still hopeful it won't be blacked out on ESPN2 - as last week's USC/Virginia game was.
7 Oklahoma State - The Cowboys looked good in Seattle last weekend. But I sort of sense that Washington State is just flat out bad at the moment. However, it did make me think that maybe OSU could be ready to be a ranked team out of the Big 12.
8 Kentucky - I really expected to see more from Louisville. But Kentucky handled a BCS school on the road, so they move up. But a win over Norfolk State won't score them many points this week.
9 Fresno State - Cross country trip for a road win against a bowl team from a BCS conference. I'd say worthy of some recognition.
10 East Carolina - A season opening win against a BCS opponent that was ranked. That gets them inclusion in the poll for now.
11 UCLA - Instant classic, gets the Bruins on the board. Neuheisel is all about big splashes and then petering out. Let's see how this develops.
12 Oregon - Maybe they are the team to challenge USC. A very good win against a Pac-10 team to start the season.
13 South Carolina - If Steve Spurrier has a defense, he's got to be good. I'll be watching this and we get a look on the road versus Vanderbilt tomorrow night. A W will likely move them up.
14 Arkansas State - We talked about all these BCS teams losing to non-BCS teams. But was any bigger than this win in College Station.
15 Tulsa - Let's not forget this team beat Bowling Green 62-7 or something incredible in the bowl season last year.
16 Boston College - Eagles were solid in a road game to start the season. Another challenge playing in the ACC this weekend.
17 TCU - Horned Frogs were impressive at New Mexico. They will play good defense, we can count on that.
18 Temple - They are here because we wanted to mention Al Golden's name. Anybody guess why?
19 Vanderbilt - Commodores won on the road at Miami Ohio. That is an impressive feat. Ask Greg how difficult it is. Plus this gives us two ranked teams tomorrow night.
20 California - Bears beat a good Big Ten team, and scored some points doing so. Opens Pac-10 play at Washington State this weekend.
21 Troy - We're really not sure how there are two teams from the Sun Belt here. Maybe we need to tweak the formula.
22 Northwestern - You beat the Orange, you get ranked. You listening Akron?
23 Stanford - Jim Harbaugh has done a miraculous job. And who said an NFL guy couldn't win in college?
24 Arizona - Coach on the hot seat breaks out the offense. Imagine that?
25 Florida - Tim Tebow and the Gators might just be back.
107 Syracuse - Keep in mind, there are 120 teams in Division I. So it could be worse. I promise.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Game Seven: Fresno State at Rutgers

Finished up the weekend with this game. Going into it, I really thought that the Bulldogs had a chance to beat Rutgers. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game....

....A classic case of my theory that if you control a half, you darn well better get your points. Rutgers controlled the first half, and it was 0-0 at halftime. They missed two field goals and were stopped on a fourth down play inside the ten. They could have had a two-score lead at halftime and had no lead at all.

....That said, Fresno made a ton of adjustments at the intermission and was clearly the better team in the second half. Rutgers had one punt return called back, and that might have been a bad call. But no doubt the Bulldogs were the better team, at least after the break.

....Was a fairly tough weekend for the Big East. With Pitt, Rutgers and Louisville all losing at home (Pitt and Rutgers to non-BCS teams) and Syracuse losing on the road, the conference was just 4-4.

....Ryan Matthews is really an impressive runner. He runs extremely hard. He has enough speed to get to the outside, but he is especially good between the tackles. When I see a kid like Matthews performing early in his career, he's just a sophomore, had a fine freshman campaign, I always wonder how a guy like that could end up where they did. Matthews was not necessarily an under the radar type. Maybe his size (6-0, 195) was an issue but I doubt it. Or maybe it was his speed (4.55). I don't know. Sometimes you've just got to look at, whether or not the guy can play. And it's hard to imagine that anyone determined Matthews couldn't.

....If Rutgers wants to take the step to the next level of competition - a BCS bowl contender - this is the type of game it can't lose. They have a little bit of time to regroup, but they'll have to be ready for an improved North Carolina team on Thursday the 11th or run the risk of falling to 0-2.

....I was really surprised that a team with as much talent at the wideout slots and an experienced QB couldn't produce more offensively. Kenny Britt has always been one of the more impressive wide receivers in the game to me and Tiquan Underwood is about as quick as they get. So do we put all the blame on Mike Teel? You tell me.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Game Six: Kentucky @ Louisville

Of all the games I watched this weekend, this one held my attention the least. But here are some observations....

....Maybe I was disappointed, just because I was expecting more offense and got nothing. Maybe it was because I was expecting Louisville to be vastly improved under Steve Kragthorpe in his seocond year, but there wasn't much exciting about this one.

....And even with it seeming like a very defensive game, I don't really think both defenses were that good. I think it was more about both offenses being that bad.

....Louisville's problem to me was they didn't have enough of a running game to make things any easier for Hunter Cantwell at quarterback. I thought Cantwell would step in a be a top notch QB, despite the lack of much experience. But he was not nearly as accurate as I anticipated.

....Kentucky QB Hartline gave Louisville 2 points with an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone. But he was starting his first game, so I'd give him a little bit of an excuse. That doesn't work when you're a junior, making your second season opening start.

....Randall Cobb is one of the most athletic true freshman that I saw this weekend. As a result of him having to take some reps as the backup QB, I'm not sure the Wildcats are getting as much out of him right now as they might later in the year.

....And don't think you can count Rich Brooks as an NFL coach who had success in the college game. Brooks was a sucessful collegiate coach, who went to the NFL - struggled and returned to his comfort zone.

....With this win, I think Kentucky might quickly become a Bowl type team. They are likely to win the rest of their four non-conference games. So they should be 4-0 entering conference play. The other three non-conference games are Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and Norfolk State. In the conference, they do have winnable home games with South Carolina, Arkansas and Vanderbilt. Win two of those three and they would be Bowl Eligible. If they need win, they might be able to squeeze one out of a road trip to Mississippi State.

Taking in a Game in Frederick

Made the trip down to Frederick last night to watch the Keys and maybe catch a future Oriole. Not sure about that, but did see both Brandon Snyder and Billy Rowell on the diamond. Snyder has had a great season for the Keys and will look to build on it next year at Bowie, I would assume. Meanwhile, I've heard that Rowell looks lazy on the field. I can understand where that is coming from. However, having only seen him for a game, I'd say it's more like he is very uncomfortable at third base. As a result, I think it might be seen as laziness. Rowell also seems to be struggling at the plate. The good thing I like about Rowell in the batter's box, is his approach. He is very patient and if he gets it together, I think he'll be a better offensive threat than just his average and power present, because I think he'll be a high OBP type guy. Brandon Tripp showed great power his three-run homer to win the game in the eighth. But obviously, he has some holes in his swing as his low average indicate. From following along this year, it seems like he is a guy who is very hot and cold.

The highlight of the night for me was Winston-Salem catcher Adam Ricks. The U of Miami product only caught one inning, and instead played all nine positions. It was fun for our family to follow him around the diamond. He didn't get much action, recording an assist at first and a putout in left. But he did record the final out in the eighth, throwing a fastball that Paul Winterling flew to right field.

Apparently, the playing nine positions has become a sort of Warthog tradition. Manager Tim Blackwell had a player, Robbie Hudson, also turn the trick. All in all, it was good stuff.

Ronnie Gaines was the offensive star of the night. He had four hits for the Warthogs, coming a homer short of the cycle.

It's always good to be at the ballpark, especially Grove Stadium in Frederick, and Sunday was no exception.