Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Michigan State vs Michigan The Rivalry Continues

This weekend when Michigan State and Michigan kick off, a lot more will be at stake than bragging rights. MSU is looking for something to rebound its season. U of M is looking to legitimize its season after winning four games, all at home, with a weaker schedule. Both teams look forward to this game (don't let U of M tell you this game doesn't matter to them, because it does) and although its too early on the calendar for me (the weather wont let you believe that) this should be as big of a game as we have seen in a while.

What MSU needs to do to win: Play defense. Make tackles. MAKE PLAYS! That is probably what the game will come down to. U of M has a poor defense too, and I have confidence that MSU won't shuttle in Nichol at inappropriate moments after last weeks fiasco. Nichol can be used as a change of pace and a spark for the offense. Glenn Winston and Larry Capers needs to churn out yardage and open up the passing game for Kirk Cousins. The defense needs to make tackles, cover people, rush the passer better, basically everything. A spread is exactly what the defense doesn't need. Forcier is hurt (separated shoulder? may not play) and Denard Robinson could shred MSU. Special teams is obviously not going to be a problem for the Spartans.

MSU Can lose if: They turn the ball over, putting an already bad defense in bad situations. If they don't tackle or over pursue the spread they could get killed. They need to be patient on offense and put up a ton of points. Use the cold weather to get another edge at home, don't let it hurt you.

What Michigan needs to do to win: Rack up as many points and yards on the Spartans as you can. There defense is not going to stop you much and you should not lose because you didn't score enough points. On defense, load up on the run and make Cousins or Nichol beat you. The passing game has its own problems, like dropping passes or giving up sacks. You have to use Mesko to your advantage and get good field position to put them in bad situations. Its the first road game for a lot of your players (QB most importantly) and the cold weather could hurt the spread attack. Run the ball and take safe passes until your settled.

Michigan can lose if: They let the road environment get to them having them make mistakes and penalties. If Forcier doesn't play, play to Robinson's strength by throwing less. Him throwing will hurt them, period. The defense needs to make big plays, not be perfect.

I see this game as a shootout with the weather playing a factor. If this game was at Michigan and Forcier was totally healthy, I might go with the Wolverines. But since it is at MSU, and MSU has played a tougher schedule, the Spartans will pull this out. It will be a close, great game so get ready.

MSU 37 Michigan 31

Coloma Goes 2-0 In Conference Play, Win A Battle On The Road

Coloma had a rough start to the season but have really turned it on in conference play. Beating Brandywine 44-14 at home was a good start, but the Comets beat Berrien Springs on the road on Friday 20-13. The Shamrocks beat Coloma twice at home handily last season, the second meeting in the first round of the playoffs. Coloma now has a great shot to win the Conference title if they take care of business when they are expected to win and beat Cassopolis at home in late October. Coloma's offense is finally clicking and having a solid passing attack levels the playing field when Coloma has less or smaller players. Sam Swihart was efficient on Friday going 6-9 with 61 yards and one interception. The defense played well forcing three fumbles and holding Berrien Springs to only 59 yards rushing. As the offense has gelled, the defense has carried the way for the Comets as the weather gets colder and the games get more important. The Comets travel to Edwardsburg this week to take on the Eddies who have won two games in the conference already. The Eddies lost in a shootout to Cass before destroying Bridgman and Brandywine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thoughts From This Weekend

Michigan is better than we thought, but with Tate Forcier injured the Wolverines could be upset this weekend in East Lansing. I know Michigan is 4-0 but they have played two MAC teams (one who is awful, Eastern Michigan and one who is supposed to be good, Western Michigan) Indiana (basically another MAC team) and an overrated Notre Dame team at home. U of M barely pulled out those home victories. You may say, Weston, Notre Dame is very good and can not possibly be overrated. But they are Notre Dame, so therefore they are more highly regarded then they should be.

That being said, MSU looks awful this year. There defense fails to recognize when to leave the base 4-3 and the secondary is getting torched every down. DC Pat Narduzzi should not be on the hot seat just yet. He could be sticking to the 4-3 because he knows how awful the depth at secondary is. The Spartans have to pick a starter at QB, and it has to be Keith Nichol. It is obvious the Spartans won't win the Big Ten this year, or go to a better bowl game than last year for that matter. Nichol has far more upside and can make plays with his feet to offset how awful the defense is. He can get playing time now that will come in handy next year when the defense is better. Cousins has a good arm and is a good starter but is nowhere near the player Nichol can be. If not this week, then soon Nichol has to be announced as the starter until he is injured or so ineffective that Dantonio has no other option. Dantonio is a great coach and will get past this, but this season has given me somethings to question. Why is Glenn Winston on the team? Did anyone forget what he did? Why not redshirt him and let him come back next season a better man? Why can't Dantonio choose a starter? Name one time where a two QB system has worked. Maybe he is adjusting to having a less talented team and is growing into his job. I have full confidence in him, but not in this season.

Notre Dame almost lost to Purdue on the road. Lou Holtz (I know!) actually put them on upset alert. Notre Dame may not be a BCS team this season (or next, or ever).

Houston and Texas Tech played a great game Saturday night. Lots of offense and passing as the Cougars won by one point. I really liked Houston coming into this season and have a great shot at being a BCS buster.

WMU played an awful game against Hofstra. They only beat a D-1AA by 14 points and played not to lose the whole game. It was not reassuring to see an underachieving team play poorly against a less talented opponent. Now the Broncos go to Northern Illinois to take on a surging Husky team. Its almost hockey season.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Capture The Moment: Lions Win!

In the first time in too long, the Lions have won a football game. It seems like forever since we beat Kansas City in a December match up in 2007. To sum today up in one word, incredible. I have never felt this way after a win. We are closing the door on one era and beginning a new one. We have tied for the second longest losing streak in NFL history. We will not break that record. We can focus week to week and never hear about this again. Now we have to commit to being the best team every week and grow and turn our culture into a winning one. Matt Stafford played very well. He made some rookie throws but made more veteran ones. He had a long scramble and avoided the rush and threw a beautiful touchdown to Bryant Johnson. Kevin Smith rushed for over 100 yards before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. The defense played well enough to win. I can not explain how happy/relieved/thrilled/excited I am right now. This makes all those close losses worth it. This is what makes football great.

NFL Picks For Week 3

Lions over Redskins
Packers over Rams
Vikings over 49ers
Falcons over Patriots
Titans over Jets
Giants over Buccaneers
Ravens over Browns
Texans over Jaguars
Saints over Bills
Bears over Seahawks
Steelers over Bengals
Broncos over Raiders
Chargers over Dolphins

*Upset Special* Chiefs over Eagles

Sunday Night Game: Colts over Cardinals

Monday Night Game Cowboys over Panthers

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Bengals Are The New Raiders, Except They Win Much Less (Like The Raiders Now)

The NFL goes through cycles. The single wing offense (wildcat) is making a comeback. Smaller faster players are more common (Darren Sproles) and defenses are reverting to the base 3-4 or 4-3 system, abandoning the flashy but outdated Cover 2.

Which leads to the title of this article, the quagmire that are the Cincinnati Bengals. But do they have hope that they can win like the Raiders of the 1970s? Maybe, but a lot must come together.

The Bungles have had a tough history to say the least. First, most people pronounce their name wrong. The BANgles were a band, the BENgals an NFL franchise. They had to endure two Super Bowl losses to the legendary 49ers teams of the Eighties. The Ickey shuffle, draft busts and countless arrests. Not horrible, but not as illustrious as Bengal faithful would hope.

The Bengals have much in common with the 1970s Raiders. They have a ton of players with legal trouble (I'm surprised they have not worked out Charles Rogers yet) and even take some players back like Chris Henry, who was run out of the league only to be asked back out of a desperate need. The Raiders used to pick up players of the scrap heap and win with them. Jim Plunkett was an early round bust before coming back and winning a Super Bowl over the Eagles. Rich Gannon was a career backup before having an MVP season with the Raiders leading them to a Super Bowl appearance. Cinncy has since added RB Cedric Benson (1st round draft bust, arrested twice on drunk boating and driving charges, unsigned middle of the season) who looks to be their workhorse back this season. With little depth behind him, the Bengal are putting a lot of stock into him. Chris Henry had been arrested multiple times and suspended by the team only to be welcomed back after changing his stripes. The Bengals even got the Hard Knocks this season leading to "child please" becoming a catch phrase and America getting a look into the Osbournes of the NFL. A family that is dysfunctional and sometimes funny but you know they do not have much of a chance to build on past success.

But now we see the Bengals of today with a lot of hope. They have a rocket arm QB in Carson Palmer, who has a world of potential. They have a Wide Receiver that is a loudmouth and wants to tweet during games and oh, by the way, he changed his last name to OchoCinco. I am sure more arrests and suspension will follow if this team does not look more at character than talent. 1st round pick Andre Smith fell from the top pick to 6th overall amidst rumors of his lack of maturity. Marv Lewis might lose his job after this season if the Bengals do not start winning in a tough AFC North. This is a team on the brink of something big, but it could be something awful.

NFL Picks Week 2

Last week I went 13-3 and 0-1 on my upset special. Looks like Romo and Williams could be a lethal combo this season, if Romo can stay healthy. Here is the picks for Week 2:

Sunday Games:

Falcons over Panthers
Packers over Bengals
Texans over Titans
Raiders over Chiefs
Patriots over Jets
Saints over Eagles
Redskins over Rams
Cardinals over Jaguars
Bills over Buccaneers
Seahawks over 49ers
Steelers over Bears
Broncos over Browns
Ravens over Chargers

*Upset Special* Lions over Vikings

Sunday Night Game: Giants over Cowboys
Monday Night Game: Colts over Dolphins

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lakeland Conference Present and Future

While attending the South Haven scrimmage, my best friend Brandon and I were talking about Lakeland Conference football/politics. For as long as I can remember, the Conference consisted of eight teams. Powerhouses Berrien Springs, Coloma, Buchanan and Cassossapolis middle of the pack teams Bridgman, Edwardsburg and Brandywine and whipping boy River Valley. River Valley has moved to the greener pastures of the rebuilding Red Arrow Conference. The Red Arrow conference, made up of much smaller schools, has been reeling since Watervliet and Hartford left for the SAC. With 7 teams left teams are scrambling to fill their 9 game schedules, Coloma has to play a much tougher Hamilton squad and Notre Dame Secondary out of Canada. We are the lucky ones, having the Watervliet rivalry to guarantee one game to start the season. Last year Coloma had to play a team near Traverse City. That is ridiculous. Either the Lakeland must add more teams, or combine with another league. Bridgman, only fielding 16 players this year, is “taking a year off” from the Lakeland to play an independent schedule, consisting of mostly Red Arrow Conference teams. They will probably leave the conference to win more than one game a season.
What other conferences could Coloma join then? The logical choice is the Wolverine Conference, which schools like South Haven, Allegan and other schools north of Coloma play. Coloma would have to make their case, and would be one of the smaller schools in the conference. Coloma will probably have to upgrade or replace their facilities (they need to anyway) and try to attract more kids to the program, both inside CHS and transfers. Anything to get more talented players on the field for the Comets. Of course, the Comets will probably struggle the first few years in the new conference to find their footing, and the playoffs will not be a near certainty as in past years.
Coloma would not be able to join the Red Arrow, they have too many teams and they are all too small. A bigger conference would not do the Comets any good to keep losing year in and year out. The Lakeland is probably going to have to combine with another Conference to sustain itself, or start playing select home and home games to fill out the schedule. Unless Coloma’s student body starts to drop, then it would make sense for Coloma to join another conference, such as the Red Arrow.
The politics of High School Athletics are tough and complicated to say the least, and new AD for Coloma Ken Schmaltz he has to work a deal that works best for Coloma, not the Lakeland Conference. I would love to see the Comets grow into a “mid-major” power that contends for the Conference crown every season, make the playoffs and sometimes win a postseason contest. But if the Lakeland continues to lose teams and Coloma has to keep scheduling no win non conference games, Coloma could struggle to keep building on the momentum they have built.

Lions Fans, Calm Down

I have been reading a lot of blogs and articles saying that Culpepper should get the start against the Vikings this week. That would be a terrible idea for the organization and the progress of our rookie QB. Stafford needs playing experience. I went into this season looking at an opportunity to try and win a few games, get young players playing time and change the way the Lions play football. Change the style, change the exercises program change everything.

So why would it be better for a veteran to play a few games until ineffectiveness or injury puts Stafford right back into the action? I know people think (including me) that Stafford should sit the first few games to learn and to protect him from injury because our offensive line is so awful. I know how a beating can ruin a QB (David Carr) or getting early playing time can hurt the QB by never getting settled (Tim Couch) but sometimes its effective (Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe) proving that no matter what the system you do, the QB is the key to his own success. What good would it do to have Stafford stand on the sidelines and watch Culpepper play?

Culpepper had a solid preseason and worked very hard to lose weight and learn the offense to start for Detroit. But that does not guarantee a starting job in the NFL. If the Lions have a better shot to win on Sundays with Matt Stafford they should take it. Until we win, every game is a must win to avoid the awful record of 27 straight losses, which would put the icing on an embarrassing cake. Culpepper's success in the preseason was mostly by dumping the ball out to a back or tight end, not taking chances, chances that must be taken to win in the NFL. Stafford will take those chances and learn from the mistakes he makes to become a better player and hopefully lead the Lions to victories in the future.

Matt Stafford appears to be very hard working and smart and can overcome these rookie setbacks. Of course their has been "can't miss" rookies before who have not panned out so we have to watch him closely. For now all we can hope is to see him progress and put up solid numbers and win football games. He is not going to get any better on the bench, and he certainly won't get any better backing up a player who will be out of the league in a year or two.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Sunday In The NFL Shows A lot We Already Knew

Detroit vs. New Orleans: Drew Brees showed he still runs one of the best offenses in the NFL and that the Lions’ defense has a lot of work to do this season. Matt Stafford looked good at sometimes an awful at others, making him a typical rookie QB. New Orleans’ defense looks much more improved, fast and physical as they gave the Lions fits all day. Overall, the Lions looked like a team much improved but still lacking in key areas. To be competitive, Detroit needs to be better on third downs, run the ball better and find a pass rush. Aaron Brown and Dennis Northcutt had nice returns and may have solved the return problems we have had since Eddie Drummond left town. To look at some players more closely:

Matt Stafford: By the second half it was apparent the Lions were not going to run the ball and were playing from behind all day. He showed patience in dumping the ball off but was not afraid to go long or try to fit the ball in tight coverage. Overall, he had a bad day against a rebuilding defense with some pieces missing (Pettigrew, Williams) and the Saints dropping 7 or 8 people in coverage. I would give him a C- rating, as he made some nice throws but some stupid ones too. He looked like a guy making his first start.

Louis Delmas: Had a nice fumble recovery returned for a TD and some hard tackles but a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty hurt a good day overall for “the missile.”

Kevin Smith: Never really got started with the running game, made some nice receptions out of the backfield and picked up blitzes better than last year. Did not see Maurice Morris relieve him in the game.

Calvin Johnson: Made some great plays and should have scored a TD. Very well covered all day and made tough catches that he usually does. Best weapon still on offense, and best player on the team.

The Defense looked pretty bad and gave up a ton of yardage and points and had a bunch of stupid penalties. Gunther Cunningham never brought the blitzing pressure we have all heard about since he was hired, and that was probably because Brees would have shredded us for more. The run defense got good penetration at times but got shredded repeatedly. At least they did not miss tackles like last year. The Lions are not there yet, but they played a good team on the road and had some flashes of potential.

Minnesota vs. Cleveland: Brett Favre looked more like a game manager and Adrian Peterson looked amazing again. Cleveland has the potential to be really bad this season.

Dallas vs. Tampa Bay: Tony Romo looked great passing for a career high, but may have injured his ankle. Roy Williams and company look poised to take over for TO.

New York vs. Houston: Houston came out and put up an awful performance and Mark Sanchez got his first win. I know the Jet’s defense is better, but the number 3 offense in the league has to do better especially at home in perfect conditions.

San Francisco vs. Arizona: The Cardinals’ offensive troubles that took place in the preseason carried over into the real games too. Frank Gore was stuffed but Shaun Hill looked good and the Niners Defense did a good job with the Cards. Good upset for SanFran.

Philadelphia vs. Carolina: Carolina and Jake Delhomme looked very bad and the Eagles looked much better, but Donovan McNabb has broken a rib and could miss weeks. Kevin Kolb will start for now, and Michael Vick comes back in two weeks. I cannot wait to see where this QB situation goes.

Chicago vs. Green Bay: In what was maybe the game of the weekend, the Bears and Packers added a new chapter to their rivalry. The first half was a defensive battle with Cutler throwing three interceptions. The second half was highlighted by the Packers’ offense turning it on and the defense looking very much improved. Green Bay takes the game and early lead in the NFC North. Brian Urlacher may miss time with a wrist that needs surgery. That could be a tough loss for the Bears early in the season.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Well, I Cannot Stand Matt Millen Already

As you may already know, Matt Millen is employed again working for ABC as a studio analyst for college football and ESPN for Monday Night Countdown and Sunday night coverage. Why he was employed by anybody for any amount of money is beyond me. True, I did not give him a chance as a return analyst, but that is because I already gave him a chance as an NFL General Manager. Then a second chance. Then a third. But he kept proving me and everybody else wrong by being the worse GM in the history of sports. Of course, the Detroit Lions are stupid enough to keep him employed to distance himself from anyone else taking his record of futility.
Football Analyst are hired for a ton of reasons. Some are former players or coaches that were well liked or good enough to get a cushy job. Some are players with a huge personality that just attract viewers. Others are serious journalist who knows a great deal about the sport, and some people just have awesome voices. Cub’s Play by Play man Pat Hughes could read the phonebook and it would sound amazing. Matt Millen got hired because he was, at one point, believe it or not, a well respected football man. But just because you were good at something in the past does not guarantee anything. Lots of coaches are good with one team and then their careers go downhill and they do not get a second shot.
So what I am getting at is how terrible Matt Millen is at his job and he still gets money to talk about something he does not know anything about. How can anybody take him seriously? How can anybody respect his opinions? How can he sleep at night?
When analyzing football, you have to find things the normal fan will not notice and point them out in a way where it’s like he is sitting in the room with you talking about the game. The little things Millen is talking about obviously cannot be right most of the time. Most of his draft choices were super busts, and he did not find anybody worthwhile after the second round. Most of the players are not even in the league anymore. He was a good player. He won 4 Super Bowls and was a leader on the field. But you cannot convince me that ABC and ESPN had no one better to hire than him to cover games. Luckily, he will not call any Detroit Lions games this season.
We all remember the Fire Millen chants and the signs and the protests. It took an awful start by an awful team to finally get rid of him. Now TV Networks expect us to value his opinion and watch his broadcasts? I can guarantee you, if he is on a game I want to watch, I will mute it. Giving this man another chance to call games and make a living at something he does not know much about is stupid. The people who hired him are just as stupid to make that call. His style of pointing out the obvious, talking about nothing, and repeating himself is already enough to turn off the volume. He avoided the issue of him being awful in Detroit when he was employed, after he was fired and the time since then. A lot of people who call games are people I do not prefer to listen to, but when it comes to knowing his history and how he treats it, listening and hearing his opinions is something I cannot stand.

Thoughts From My Desk September 13 Edition

This is a strange time for me and College Football. A lot of the games are boring blowouts over cupcake teams, with an occasional upset every few years. The Broncos usually are playing Big Ten teams or better (Missouri with Chase Daniels, West Virginia with Pat White and Steve Slaton) and it is hard for me to get into the games. I watch to see new players and hope for an upset, but I know we are just collecting a paycheck. A few marquee matchups take place (BYU vs. Oklahoma and USC vs. OSU) but more often than not the season is boring. Rich Rodriguez wants to have preseason games, when the NFL is doing the right thing and getting rid of meaningless games. Honestly, I circle the conference openers for the Broncos every year as the “start” of College Football.

WMU vs. Indiana: The Broncos looked better, and Tim Hiller looked more like Tim Hiller. He must have worked out the kinks and gotten better receiving gloves because the Bronco offense looked much better. Brandon West displayed his great returning skills, and it was great to see Jordan White back on the field after two years off due to injuries. TE Matt Stevens had a few plays displaying the talent everyone has been talking about, and the entire receiving core looked much better. Robert Arnheim made a nice 40 yard TD catch and showed great hands all day. He is a solid possession receiver, although him having great hands and not fumbling means he does not have to return punts. Drew Burdi scored a TD run out of the Wildcat formation (something I would like to see more off) and Aaron Winchester had some nice runs before coughing it up near the goal line to miss out on the game winning TD. Our defense looked better but still had trouble tackling and closing on people. Special teams looked good once again overall. To recap, I think the Broncos should have won this game, but Indiana made plenty of mistakes in penalties to give us a chance at the end. Our defense needs to generate pass rush and cause turnovers to give our offense more of a chance. The Broncos have their home opener next Saturday night against MAC foe Miami Oh.

MSU vs. CMU: This was shocking but CMU is a very good MAC team. They will probably win the Conference and make it to a decent bowl game. They lost to Arizona is tough road trip, but the Spartans still should have won that game. MSU showed how vulnerable playing in the two QB system can be. It hurts the flow of the game and rhythm of the offense. Cousins looks like a better fit for the offense with his quick release and strong arm. The Spartans cannot do this next week against Notre Dame and expect to win. MSU’s defense still is not where it should be, and usually reliable Blair White missed the onside recovery that would have won the game. CMU stuck with the Spartans all game and Dan Lefevour looked great all game, making plays when the Chips needed them the most. MSU’s secondary looked awful at times and not even a great front seven could turn the tide in favor of the Spartans. MSU looks to regroup before a game with rivals Notre Dame, but before then they need to settle the QB issue and find a solution on defense.

Notre Dame vs. Michigan: This classic rivalry taking place in Ann Arbor will pit the Wolverines and Irish both trying to win respect and become a player on the national stage. The Wolverines smashed WMU last week, and Notre Dame destroyed Nevada at home. This was a classic back and forth battle between rivals. There were a ton of penalties in the game, and the play calling by Notre Dame was questionable at best. This was most obvious on the last drive when Notre Dame had a chance to run the ball twice and use up some time and Michigan’s timeouts and opted to throw the ball and display bad strategy by HC Charlie Weiss. Tate Forcier looked great in his second game, passing well and displaying good instincts avoiding the rush and running up field. Denard Robinson is further distancing himself as a backup QB and a run only option. Michigan’s young defense had trouble with Notre Dame’s offense, which is great in its own right. Michigan could be on its way up if it continues to mature and avoid injuries.

USC vs. OSU: The Buckeyes led the game for much of the fourth quarter after a USC safety on a bad snap. Terrell Pryor looked much better than he has at past times, and only a long USC drive to win the game kept the Buckeyes from taking this contest. Freshman QB Matt Barkley looked great as he led his team down the field with the precision and leadership of a senior. RB Joe McKnight looks like a great dual threat runner and got chunks of yardage for the Trojans during the game. This was an instant classic, and it shows the Big Ten is finally catching up to other elite programs.

Danny Heatley and a 5th round pick have been traded from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a 2nd round pick. Ottawa is going into rebuilding mode, with is never good news for a small market team. Heatley had requested a traded earlier in the summer and finally got his wish. Cheechoo had a great season for the Sharks when they first traded for Joe Thornton, but has faded in past seasons. Injuries have been partly to blame. The Sharks lost in the first round last year in the playoffs to Anaheim Ducks, despite being the number 1 seed. Goaltending broke down and led to the upset. The Sharks look to be even better this season with another scoring threat on a deep team. Training camps open across the NHL this weekend and preseason games start later this week. It’s already almost hockey season!

Oklahoma State lost a perfect opportunity to put its mark on this season. With Oklahoma hurting, OSU lost to high powered Houston 45-35. The gap is definitely closing in college football.

Wisconsin almost lost to Fresno State at home in double overtime. Fresno State is a good team, but this is a sign on how bad the Badgers are hurting.

Toledo picked on a struggling Colorado team. The Rockets put up big points on the Buffaloes in Colorado.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Notre Dame Defeats Coloma In International Contest

In the third game of the season and the final in Coloma's non conference schedule Notre Dame Secondary defeated the Comets 41-14. Notre Dame made the 6 hour trip from Ontario to play Coloma and were treated to a win and dinner after the game. Coloma struggled to get started in the game, as Notre Dame ran the spread to perfection as QB Billy McPhee showed off quick feet and a rocket arm. The Irish pass rush was relentless, giving the Comets fits in the passing game. The rushing attack did not fair any better until the second half, when Coloma was down 21-0. There we penalties all night as the Canadian players adjusted to the American style of play. In the third quarter, things started going Coloma's way. A great punt by Colin Saltzman (who punted excellent all night) pinned the Irish deep. The Comets stuffed Notre Dame in the end zone for the safety, then after the free kick, Coloma drove down the field with their passing game finally in rhythm and punched the ball in for the score. The defense held the Irish with the next possession and that led to a blocked punt by Donovan Browning, setting up great field position for the Comet attack. Coloma carried momentum from the safety and scored again, making the score 34-14. Notre Dame added another touchdown to make the score 41-14 and that was it for the Comets. Coloma's offense lacked consistency and Notre Dame ad more players and were just too fast. Coloma's defense was strong besides giving up big plays, and the offense came into its own during the second half, despite missing physical target TJ Scott all game. The Comets open up Lakeland Conference play against Brandywine next Friday night at home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

NFC North Preview

This year, the NFC North looks to have gone through a major transformation from last season. You could make a point that the NFC was one of the most disappointing in pro football. Detroit did not win a game, the Favre-less Packers plummeted to 6-10, the Bears just missed the playoffs and Minnesota won the division only to have all of their weaknesses (Tavaris Jackson) exposed by the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs. The Vikings had trouble selling out their playoff game by the way. Ouch. This year, this could be the Division with the best QBs and RBs top to bottom, including the best player in football Adrian Peterson.

NFC North Order of Finish

1. Green Bay Packers- Green Bay was a good team with a bad record last season, and I see them turning around their defensive problems and winning the division crown. QB Aaron Rodgers came in for Brett Favre and showed why the Packers had so much faith in him. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 28 TDs. He battled through injuries and displayed toughness and was mobile all season. He was 0-8 in 4th quarter comebacks last season, but that will change. His weapons led by WR Greg Jennings, ageless WR Donald Driver and soon to be star Jermichael Finley return but the offensive line could give HC Mike McCarthy fits all season. The tackles are both uncertain, but the interior of the line is young and promising. The revamped defense under Dom Capers should be vastly improved. Rookies BJ Raji and Clay Mathews lead the defense into the new 3-4 system. The secondary is very solid (Charles Woodson and Al Harris are a little old) with newcomer Atari Bigby taking the role of hard hitter with Nick Collins being the ball hawk. The LB core is very very good. AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett are great up the middle and Clay Matthews and (converted DE) Aaron Kampman bringing pass rush. A very good, improved and younger team will compete in the NFC North as well as the Super Bowl this year.

2. Minnesota Vikings- Yes, they have the biggest carnival in the NFL this side of Philadelphia, but the Vikings are a solid unit. The DL is the best in the NFL with the Williams Wall and "Crazy Uncle" Jared Allen, but the Williams wall may face a suspension. The LB crew is solid with Madieu Williams, EJ Henderson and Chad Greenway and Ben Leber. Henderson looks to rebound after missing most of last season with injury. The secondary is overrated and played last season against a lot of bad aerial attacks. The OL is solid but has rookie Phil Loadholt starting at RT but huge LT McKinnie will anchor the line. Brett Favre looks to manage the games more and use the talents of emerging TE Visanthe Shiancoe, speedy WR Bernard Berrian and electrifying rookie Percy Harvin. This team is very talented, and has a good special teams and all the pieces to win the Super Bowl. But something is up with the Vikings. They always choke, and HC Brad Childress is an awful coach, mismanaging game plans, not taking enough chances and list goes on and on. A real NFL coach could have won a playoff game by now and make it to a NFC Championship with this team. With adding Favre, Childress is going all in and his job is on the line. The Vikings are going to make the playoffs but probably not far past that.

3. Chicago Bears- The Bears went out and traded for a franchise QB with a super cannon arm but questionable maturity. They sound him with marginal WR talent, a superstar young RB and an emerging talent at TE. The Defense is getting real old real quick, so the window of opportunity is closing on this version of Da Bears. Devin Hester is more committed to being a wide out this year and will not even return kickoffs. He will still handle punts and try to use his speed to be the deep threat for Cutler. The Bears need the defense to find the fountain of youth on defense and have the Wide outs make a huge leap. I do not think they are good enough to win the division, or make the Wild card this year. And with the lack of draft picks, this could get ugly for Chicago.

4. Detroit Lions- The biggest rebuilding project in the history of the NFL starts playing games this Sunday. After a huge off season signing decent FAs and have good draft, the Lions look to rebound and actually win a game. Detroit is in a rebuilding mode, even with 31 new players and an upgrade in talent. I can not see the Lions winning more than 5 or 6 games, but that would be a vast improvement. There should be more noticeable game days for the Lions, as HC Jim Schwartz will bring his cerebral approach to football and adjustments. Of course I have hope that the Lions can win games and surprise like Miami and Atlanta did last season, but this scenario is not realistic. The OL and DL are pretty awful and need to be addressed next off season. Stafford is going to struggle at times but make big plays and get valuable experience, and remember Peyton Manning had 3 TDs and 11 INTs his first three games. I look for the Lions to win some games and learn how to win games. They need to bring momentum into next off season to continue our rebuilding plan.

NFC Playoff Teams: Packers, Giants, Saints, Cardinals Wild Card: Vikings, Falcons

AFC Playoff Teams: Steelers, Patriots, Colts, Chargers Wild Card: Ravens, Texans

NFC Championship Packers over Falcons

AFC Championship Chargers over Patriots

Super Bowl: Packers over Chargers

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NFL Picks Week 1

Every week I will pick every NFL game, including one upset special. I am just picking the winner, not trying to beat the spread on any games. Should be fun! I encourage everybody to leave comments on their picks as well. I will keep track on how we all do.

Week 1

Thursday Night: Steelers over Titans

Falcons over Dolphins
Ravens over Chiefs
Eagles over Panthers
Bengals over Broncos
Vikings over Browns
Texans over Jets
Colts over Jaguars
Saints over Lions
*Upset Special* Buccaneers over Cowboys
49ers over Cardinals
Giants over Redskins
Seahawks over Rams

Sunday Night Game: Bears over Packers

Monday Night Football Doubleheader: Patriots over Bills, Chargers over Raiders

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thoughts From My Desk September 9th Edition

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I have been all over the state watching the best football every level of play has to offer. Following the NFL Preseason, Coloma Comets football and traveling to (the evil empire) Ann Arbor to watch my beloved Broncos get smashed by the "resurgent" Michigan Wolverines. On top of all of that, I moved back to college and started classes today so I have been lacking time to blog. Anyways, here we go.

WMU vs U of M:
My recap of the game could be very short or very long, depending on how you look at the way this went down. Wolverine faithful will of course say that the offense is finally in place and the defense looks swarming. I see it more as this. Michigan did play very well. Tate Forcier looked impressive making plays but lacked the mobility and elusiveness I expected to see from him. Denard Robinson can not throw at all, but looked like an unstoppable running threat at times, and he is only a Freshman.

On the WMU side of things, QB Tim Hiller was not his normal self, leading me to believe his knee may not be fully healed. Hiller and the Bronco receivers (all fairly young) did not click until the second half, when it was far too late. Brandon West was solid but did not make any big gains, but his returning skills were great as usual. I can not understand why WMU put Robert Arnheim back to return punts. He is not fast at all, and is only a marginal possession receiver. The only thing I can think of is Cubit wants him to get some reps and Arnheim won't ever fumble a ball, ever. Aaron Winchester is a far better option in my opinion. Highly touted TE Matt Stevens did not show up, and hopefully the Broncos can beat the less talented Indiana Hoosiers on the road.

Michigan State University vs Montana State University

This game should have been called "Over glorified scrimmage to settle the Quarterback dispute in East Lansing, featuring D-1AA whipping boy Montana State" Cousins and Nichol looked to be about even, but the opposition was not good enough to make a good judgment. This week against Central Michigan will be better for Dantonio to make a decision by the Notre Dame contest. Central Michigan lost out to Arizona 19-6, displaying a worse offense and defense than expected. The "top team in the MAC" looked almost as awful as the Broncos. CMU is a very talented team and will look to turn it around against a tougher opponent in the Spartans. Nichol will start the game for MSU, trying to establish himself as the permanent starter. Cousins may have started game 1, but that may have been because of his seniority. Look for MSU to dominate the Chips, and Nichol to distance himself from Cousins.

Other Games this weekend:

Oklahoma lost to a very good BYU team in Jerry Jones Stadium. Sam Bradford lost any chance to repeat as Heisman winner and probably win the National Title. BYU looked great and played hard and it was not all because Bradford was hurt. Now OK lost TE Jermaine Gresham for the year, meaning even winning the Big 12 will be very difficult. Things went from great to bad to dismal in a matter of a week.

Notre Dame demolished one of my Mid Major favorites Nevada this weekend 35-0. The 35 is not very impressive. The 0 is outstanding, as the Wolfpack have a prolific offense. Notre Dame gets to take on the Wolverines this weekend in Ann Arbor, and I fully expect the Irish to walk out with an impressive win.

Miami and Florida State played an instant classic Monday night with a back and forth offensive slug fest. Both QBs Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder were outstanding and FSU just barely lost on a goal line stand. It could be the best game this season, as any other game will be tough to match the fireworks of this Labor Day Classic.

In Other News:

Allen Iverson signed a deal worth between 3-5 million dollars for one year with Memphis. This move means Memphis is slightly more relevant and may win 5-10 more games this season, as AI is not as good as he once was. Iverson announced the deal on Twitter, making the website 1,000% more popular than the Grizzlies. Maybe they should have stayed in Vancouver.

Pro Football Season begins Thursday. Yes!

Coloma vs Hamilton: Hamilton Wins Tough Non Conference Matchup

Coloma lost a tough battle to the Hamilton Hawkeyes in the home opener for the Comets. With the 21-0 score, Coloma drops to 1-1 on the season with next week's home match up against Notre Dame Secondary (Canada). Hamilton used a tough spread offense to take the best of Coloma on the opening drive. After that, the Comets defense held the Hawkeyes to only 14 more points, and came up with stop over stop in crucial situations. The offense was a different story as the new passing attack sputtered. Sam Swihart went 16 out of 30 with two interceptions. Coloma's offense does not work well throwing 30 times a game and despite Allred running for 74 yards, the Comets were shut out. A few big plays and a couple of trips to the red zone left Coloma without a point.

Despite playing a team that has 52 players on the team and a size advantage, Coloma was tough and the defense played very well, showing improvement over the last game. Facing all these spreads will help the Comets improve and adapt well, and help the offense by giving it time to gel.

The Comets play at MacDaniels Field at 7 on September 11 against Notre Dame Secondary, a high school in Canada, making a 6 hour drive to round out Coloma's non conference schedule.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Opinions On Sports Headlines

Erin Andrews- I am a big fan of Ms. Andrews, and I feel awful for her. She did nothing wrong and hopefully she can move on with her career and withstand attacks of immature college students. I hope the Oprah interview helps her deal with this and I wish for her nothing but the best.

Ricky Rubio- I do not like it when people bolt from crappy franchises. Eli Manning ditched the Chargers and they have turned it around. Now Rubio, who has All-World talent, goes back to Spain, not to return to the NBA till 2011. Taking Flynn with the pick before looks a little smarter now. The T-Wolves may need a few years to be contenders for anything again.

Michigan Football- Michigan fans, trust me, I am doing my best to be unbiased. This could be the end of RichRod, or the beginning for him in a way. When you are losing players on your own team (see Bobby Williams) you can quickly lose the team and your job. Michigan has spent so much on RichRod that it would not make sense to fire him two years in. He has been recruiting spread players and to deviate from that would only hurt Michigan in the years coming. The spread does not work in the Big Ten though (MSU under John L. Smith, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue) even Joe Paterno said the Spread HD has more in common with the Wing T than the spread. If Michigan has a slow start to the season more players could turn on him and this thing could turn ugly fast.

On the other hand, players could rally around their coach, knowing if he leaves, things will not turn around at their time in college. They could play hard and tough and be competitive this year. Although I think UofM will struggle to make a bowl this season, if they do make one it could help recruiting and maybe the spread can make it in the cold weather Big Ten. The game against WMU is big now, but not program defining. If the Wolverines beat the Broncos Saturday what does that prove? That the players have not committed full mutiny and the Wolverines have won a game they should have won. The game against Utah last year was deceiving. Utah outplayed the Wolverines the whole game by a long shot, and a few lucky breaks for the Wolverines made the score look closer than the game ever was. Time will tell where this situation will go, although I assure you, the punishment will not be that bad and almost any BCS conference team could recover from it.

Lions QB situation- Matt Stafford is the only healthy QB in Detroit right now. As cuts are beginning to take place, the Lions signed QB Brooks Bollinger to help take snaps and maybe play in the fourth preseason game. Culpepper is out after cutting his toe, and Stanton has swelling in his knee. Both are not thought to be serious, but this may settle the whole "will Stafford start" debate early. Last season, Troy Smith got terribly ill and opened the door for Joe Flacco, and we all saw how that turned out.