Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bucs Place Torrie Cox on IR, Sign Chas Gessner

As expected the Bucs placed Torrie Cox on IR with a torn ACL. The Bucs lost their fourth corner back and the guy who had filled in on kick returns with the loss of Mark Jones. Cox had moved into the third corner spot while Kelly has been hurt and if Kelly stays hurt the Bucs will have problems in the secondary trying to replace Cox.

The Bucs also cut wide out Chad Lucas, who was added from the practice squad last week with mark Jones going down. With two roster spots open the Bucs made one move and signed former Bucs practice squad player Chas Gessner. Gessner looked good in training camp the past two seasons and had 10 catches for 169 yards the past two preseasons. He will be asked to do the same thing that Lucas did, be an emergency wide out and contribute on special teams. Gessner may also be asked to return kicks and the reason Lucas may have been cut was because of some hesitation he had returning kicks after Cox went down. Gessner will contribute on special teams and always gives his all. While this is not a huge move for the Bucs it is a move. The Raiders have released wide out Mike Williams, who the Bucs looked at drafting 3 years ago, so they may bring him in for a look.

The Bucs still have one roster spot open at the moment so they will need to make another move. One would have to believe that this move will be to add a corner to the roster to make up for the loss of Cox and give the Bucs a fourth corner they can go to. They have to play Arizona this week, who has 3 good wide outs, and they will need the secondary to be solid.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

College Rankings Week 3

The BCS uses all sorts of formulas with computers and people rankings as well. Many people think the BCS is wrong and also believe that the voters do not get it right. With this in mind I have got together knowledgeable football fans from across the country with representation of each conference in the polls. The fans come from members of the Fantasy Football Cafe College Sports Forum. These fans watch more football than most of the voters and are extremely knowledgeable. They are allowed to vote however they want, just like if they were a Harris or AP voter. Some vote based on based performance, some on future, some on a combination of those, while others vote based on which team would win on a neutral field. They send me their top 35 and I calculate it to come up with the top 25 and we compare it to the BCS. Here is the BCS week 3 and our Week 3:

BCS

1. Ohio State
2. Boston College
3. LSU
4. Arizona State
5. Oregon
6. Oklahoma
7. West Virginia
8. Kansas
9. Missouri
10. Georgia
11. Virginia Tech
12. Michigan
13. Connecticut
14. Hawaii
15. Texas
16. Auburn
17. Alabama
18. South Florida
19. USC
20. Florida
21. Wisconsin
22. Boise State
23. Virginia
24. Wake Forest
25. Clemson

Cafe Rankings


1. LSU (7)
2. OSU (2)
3. Oregon
4. Oklahoma
5. ASU
6. WVU
7. Missouri
8. UGA
9. BC (1)
10. Kansas
11. USC
12. VT
13. Auburn
14. Michigan
15. UF
16. Alabama
17. Texas
18. Uconn
19. USF
20. Clemson
21. South Carolina
22. Wisconsin
23. Tennessee
24. Wake
25. Hawaii

Some of the differences you will notice is that just because you are undefeated does not mean that they were ranked above other teams. The voters also took the strength of the schedule in mind in their rankings in my opinion. One of the voters who is an Ohio State fan did not rank them number 1, but had LSU number 1 because in his mind OSU has not done enough thus far to warrant it. In my opinion, BC is much further down in the rankings and that has to do with the fact that BC has played no one all season and should have lost to Virginia Tech last week. I have some difference of opinion in the rankings, but I like them better than the BCS. Thoughts???

Brandon Antwine and Javier Estopinan Done for Season

The Gator defense has lost defensive tackle Brandon Antwine and Javier Estopinan for the rest of the year. Antwine had been struggling with a back injury and was hospitalized for 10 days with a back injury recently. He only had 7 tackles in 4 games on the year, but when in the game he brought experience and helped to clog up the middle. The Gators started out stopping the run very well, but have been run over recently, while he has been out or not played much. While the change in run defense is not all because of his loss, it has had an effect on a defense that has not been very good this year.

Estopinan tore his ACL in Saturdays loss against the Bulldogs. The loss of Estopinan may hurt worse than Antwine, because Estopinan had not missed a game this year, and has been a mainstay up the middle to help stop the run. Estopinan had 19 tackles and one sack so far this season, but his ability to help push the lineman back and clog the middle were even more important. The Gator defensive tackles have not been great this year, but to lose these two puts the Gators in a very bad spot.

With Estopinan and Antwine out and freshman John Brown still unable to play due to academic reasons, the Gators have only 3 healthy defensive tackles on the roster. These players will need to step up to take the place of the injured players and Urban may need to try and use some of his young freshman, like Carlos Dunlap to help make up for the loss. One of the problems in the SEC with defensive lineman is that it is very physical up front and hot, which leads to guys getting tired early and teams need other fresh bodies to come in to help stop the run. One option that has been thrown around is having a three man front this weekend against Vandy. The Gator defense has not been good this year and these injuries make them even worse. They still have tough games left on their schedule and some of these young players are going to need to grow up real fast.

Another Game, Another Player Lost for the Season

Pewter Report is reporting that Buccaneer corner back Torrie Cox will be placed on IR and is done for the year after tearing his ACL in Sundays game against the Jaguars. This is another blow to a team that has already been decimated by injuries. Cox was playing the third corner spot with Brian Kelly out due to a groin injury and was also returned kickoffs last week with Mark Jones being placed on IR with a torn patella tendon. The Bucs will now have to replace a corner and a kick returner on the roster. The Bucs will most likely have to add a corner to the roster with Kelly still questionable, which means the kick returner will have to be one of the guys that is already on the roster. The problem with this is that the returner position is a susceptible to injury and the Bucs can ill afford to lose any of the guys that they can put back there that already have experience. The Bucs may need to cut Chad Lucas, who was added this past week to replace Mark Jones, and sign a guy who can return kicks and be a fourth wide out.

The Bucs may have also lost a key piece of their front four for at least the Arizona game. Defensive End Greg Spires left the game on Sunday with a leg injury and it may hold him out at least one week, if not more. Spires injured his calf and was replaced by a combination of Greg White and Gaines Adams. Spires has been a steady influence on the line and not only gets after the quarterback, but also plays the run well. The Bucs will most likely rotate White and Adams during the game to replace Spires and hope Spires only misses one game. White looked good when he came in for Spires last week and Adams did have a couple of nice plays as well. It has come out that Adams is mad and frustrated that he has not gotten more playing time. Maybe he will use this frustration to fuel him to get physical and make some plays in the second half of the season. Losing Spires is not good for the Bucs defense, but it does give Adams at least a game to show what he can do.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Heisman Top 5 -- Week 10

My disclaimer as always: The Heisman trophy is given to the best player in the country and that is how I look at the award. The best player may not, and usually is not, on the best team in the country. Team does effect how a player is ranked, but just because that team is not in the top 5 does not mean they are not deserving. Here is my Top 5 starting this week:

Tim Tebow - Quarterback - Florida
Stats: 8 Games 176.5 Rating 65.8 % Passing 243.4 Y/G 18 TD 3 INT 125 Rush 563 Yards 12TD
Last Week: 14-22 236 Yards 1 TD 13 Rush -15 Yards 2 TD
The Gators lost to Georgia over the weekend and it was apparent that Tebow was not himself. Struggling with a bad shoulder, Tebow played as best he could, but was without his running ability most of the game. While the Gators lost because the defense was not good enough, they also lost in part because of no running game, which is usually made up of Tim Tebow. He is the most important player to his team in the country and has some of the most impressive stats.

Mike Hart - Running Back - Michigan
Stats: 8 Games 200 carries 1,078 yards 12 TD's
Last Week: Did not Play with injury.

Dennis Dixon - Quarterback - Oregon
Stats: 8 Games 160.3 Rating 68.8% Passing 235.6 Y/G 16 TD 3 INT 499 Rush Yards 8 TD
Last Week: 16-25 157 Yards 17 Rush 76 Yards 1 TD
Dixon did not have a spectacular game last weekend against USC, but he did what he needed to win the game. Dixon has led the Ducks to heights they have not seen and have them on the verge of being a national championship contender. This week is a huge showdown with ASU for control of the Pac-10. A good showing in that game may move him higher in the rankings. Dixon does not make mistakes and has the ability to make plays when there are none to be made.

Matt Ryan - Quarterback - Boston College
Stats: 8 Games 131.5 Rating 63.2% Passing 304.1 Y/G 19 TD 8 INT 1 Rush TD
Last Week: 25-52 285 2 TD 2 INT
Many people talked about Matt Ryan as the leading candidate after the game against Virginia Tech on Thursday night because he brought them back in the end. While Ryan did win the game in the end, he was owned by the VT defense all game and looked terrible for most of the game. His yards and numbers came when VT went into a prevent shell and were not trying to put pressure on him towards the end. While some thought it was a gutsy performance, I saw a guy that was dominated by a defense for almost a whole game and exploded when they gave him space.

Andre Woodson - Quarterback - Kentucky
Stats: 9 Games 147.7 Rating 63.8% Passing 270.1 Y/G 28 TD 7 INT 3 Rush TD
Last Week: 24-42 230 Yards 2 TD 3 INT
He is still the best quarterback in the nation talent wise in my opinion, but he has had some mental collapses that cost his team dearly last weekend against MSU. Woodson had more interceptions than touchdowns and the Wildcats are in a downward spiral. He will need to be the guy that gets them out of it, but last week he was unable to do so.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Georgia Takes Cocktail Party

The Gators were in control of their own destiny, but let it get away against an unlikely foe. Going into Saturday the Gators had only lost twice against the 'Dawgs since 1990. On top of the great winning percentage against Georgia, Urban Meyer had yet to lose against one of the Gators three main rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, Florida State).
Georgia had struggled during the year against its SEC opponents and it looked to be yet another Gator victory on their way to an east title, but there is a reason they play the games.

The Gator offense started and ended the game same way; unstoppable down the field, until a dumb turnover cost them the drive. The first drive ended on a fumble by running back Kestahn Moore, while the final drive ended on a fumbled snap on a bad play call, but the result was the same. The Gators had multiple opportunities to win the game, but the Bulldogs wanted it more.

You could tell that this game was more than a win or a loss for Georgia from the first touchdown. Mark Richt showed that he actually was a classless coach by letting his whole team storm the field after they scored their first touchdown. At first you wonder if the team did it on their own, but at halftime Richt told the media that he told his team if they did not get an excessive celebration penalty by then he would be disappointed; great role model coach. While the classless play seemed to fire up the Gators for a little while, they just seemed to be over matched the entire game. The Gators weaknesses were pretty apparent to most Gator fans and with the extra week to prepare, Mark Richt exploited them.

The Gators offense had done a great Job of making up for the defense, but when the other teams scores on almost every posses ion their is not much for the offense to do. Georgia ran at the Gator defensive tackles, which have been terrible all year, and tore apart the secondary, which has been even worse. The Gators missed Freshman Major Wright in the secondary and at times may have been better off playing with 10 players and leaving Kyle Jackson on the sideline (FreeBagel with the credit). Freshman running back Knowshon Moreno had a career day against the Gators and was definitely the difference maker in the game. He had 188 yards on the ground and whenever the 'Dawgs needed a big play he seemed to supply it for them. If you can't stop the pass, you better stop the run, but the Gators could do neither.

On offense the Gators shot themselves in the foot all day long. From the fumbles by Kestahn Moore to the dropped passes by Cornelius Ingram, it was a group loss on offense. The game plan had obviously been changed with Tebow's injury as he was not the main running threat in the game. Georgia seemed to know the change and pinned their ears back and attacked the quarterback. Tebow was sacked more times in this game than he had the entire year and the Georgia defense seemed to disrupt every trick play the Gators ran. Moore has run his course with this team and will be replaced by Moody next season, but in the meantime the Gators need to bench him and let him wallow in this game. Tebow also missed a wide open Ingram down the middle for what could have been a touchdown. The offense missed opportunities and the defense could not stop anyone. The one thing to take away from this game is that I hope that rivals enjoy the ride, because no one will beat us next year.

USF v. UConn -- Open Thread



Big Time Battle in the Big East. This has huge implications for USF in their quest for the Big East Title. They can not afford to lose two games in the Big East, especially to UConn who has not lost a game in the Big East yet. Special Teams and the Bulls offensive line will decide this game. Open for Comments during the game!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party -- Open Thread


Today is the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The Gators have owned the series against the Dawgs and have won 8 of the last 9. The Gators do have some injuries in the secondaries that may make it even easier for Stafford to pick them apart. This is a homecoming for Tebow who played at Neese High School in Jacksonville. or Gator fans they have to hope that Tebow's shoulder is healthy and he does not run it too much and hurt it anymore than it is. Comment here throughout the game!!

Preview of USF v. UConn

The Bulls have another battle this week with huge Big East ramifications. UConn is undefeated in Big East play thus far and their only loss on the season was a one point loss at Virginia. UConn is coming off of a rainy victory against Louisville, while USF is coming off of a devastating loss to Rutgers. The big thing for the Bulls will be if they forgot about the Rutgers game and were able to focus on UConn and the Big East Title. The Bulls have had trouble at UConn in the past and this game will be tough one for them to win.


The UConn defense has very good on the year thus far. They are only allowing 98 yards on the ground and 174 yards through the air during the game. They are also third in points allowed in the nation, giving up only 12.7 ppg. They have a stout run defense and a ball hawking secondary that has 16 interceptions on the year. They shut down Brian Brohm and the Louisville offense last week. They allowed Brohm to throw for only 228 yards in the game and picked him off 2 times. This defense looks to make things happen for their team because the offense has not been great. UConn reminds me a lot of this USF team, a great defense and an Offense that does just enough to win the game.

The UConn offense is based around the run and they will look to pound the rock against USF. The Bulls have been good against the run, when those backs are speed backs and trying to get to the outside, but have struggled against power backs running down hill, Ray Rice. Andre Dixon is the leader in the backfield for the Huskies and he is more of a power runner and in fact scored a touchdown last week dragging 4 Cardinals with him for 5 yards into the end zone. The Bulls are going to need to be very physical and hit him in the backfield or make him try to go to the outside so that they can use their speed to an advantage. George Selvie will need to show up this week, which he did not last week. His pressure in the backfield on passing and running plays is vital to disrupting the pass and run game. Pressure causes problems, which will lead to turnovers and good field position for the Bulls.

Expect UConn to follow the Rutgers model on how to defend this USF offense. Rutgers was torched in the first half of the game by Matt Groethe's legs. Groethe was able to break containment and picked up huge chunks of yardage and helped move the ball down field. During half time the Knights adjusted and played containment or had a spy on Groethe the rest of the game. For most of the second half Groethe was not able to move out of the pocket and was eother sacked or made bad throws. Groethe is a good quarterback, but when you make him sit in the pocket and pass he becomes very average and the secondary could take advantage of that.

Injuries on the offensive side of the ball will also effect the Bulls this week. They lost senior offensive tackle Walt Walker with a sprained MCL for 2-4 weeks. His loss is very devastating to the Bulls offensive line, which has had injuries since the beginning of the year. of the 7 sacks that the Knights got on Groethe last Thursday, 5 came after Walker was out of the game. Groethe will need to be able to feel that pressure and move around to avoid it. The Bulls also lost their top wide out Taurus Johnson for 2-3 weeks with an ankle sprain. Johnson led the Bulls in receptions and yards so far on the year. While this loss is a problem, the Bulls have spread the ball out a lot this year and Groethe has confidence in other guys. Amari Jackson will need to step up and make some plays in the receiving game and freshman Hester Jr. will also need to help out and give Groethe a good target to throw to.

The final aspect of this game that may be the most important will be special teams. UConn returner Larry Taylor is the best in the nation in returning kicks and punts. Last week the Bulls struggled in their special teams coverage and if they do that this week, Taylor will take the ball to the house. The Bulls will need to have great coverage on the kicks and perhaps kick away from Taylor if possible. Let's hope when they do kick it, the Refs remember what a fair catch symbol looks like though.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stovall's Time to Shine

With the Bucs injuries mounting and having only 3 healthy wide outs on the roster, Maurice Stovall finds himself in a position to shine. Stovall was the star of OTA's and training camp, but did not look good in preseason and has been relegated to special teams during the regular season so far. With Michael Clayton and Mark Jones going down the Bucs are going to need someone to step up and that should be Stovall.

Stovall had some good games towards the end of last season and Bucs fans were excited about him going into the off season. Stovall looked very good in training camp and OTA's and found himself as the number 2 wide out on the depth chart going into game one of the preseason, but had only 4 catches for 40 yards in the preseason. No one has come out and said why Stovall was not used more in the preseason, or during the regular season, but somehow he made his way into Jon Gruden's dog house. The Bucs are forced to let him play now and if he wants to be a starter in this league this is the time for him step up and play well.

Stovall has great size and is a very physical receiver. His attributes will help him make up for the loss of Clayton not only in the receiving game, but also in blocking down field. If you do not get good blocking down field, you will never be able to have runs that go to the house, or great runs after the catch by other receivers. Stovall has shown that he likes contact and likes to get physical, much like how Clayton plays. He is also a tall receiver with good hands, but is not overly fast. The Bucs do not need him to be the big play guy or the clutch third down guy, they have those with Galloway and Ike, but what they do need is another option that will catch the ball and help open the field.

Stovall made his presence known quickly last week when he caught a 4 yard touchdown pass to get the Bucs back in the game. Hopefully that was a preview of things to come for him in the Bucs uniform. There has to be a reason he was not playing earlier, but lets just hope it was because the Bucs are a bad judge of talent in practice. He is in his third year and it is his time to live up to his 3rd round pick.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Heisman Top 5 -- Week 9


The past week gave us some great performances from some of the top players, but also some disappointing games by others. My disclaimer as always: The Heisman trophy is given to the best player in the country and that is how I look at the award. The best player may not, and usually is not, on the best team in the country. This year their is no clear cut favorites to win the award and hopefully one of these guys will emerge later on in the year. Here is my Top 5 starting this week:

Mike Hart - Running Back - Michigan
Stats - 7 Games 200 carries 1,078 yards 12 TD's
Last Week: Did not Play with injury.
Hart did not play the past week against Illinois with an injury, but that does not move him from the top spot in my mind. Hart is still top 4 in rushing in the nation and is still the most important person to the Wolverines. He was seen on the sideline yelling and getting after his teammates during the Illinois game and looked like another coach out there. For him not to play it must have been serious because he is one of the toughest guys out there. Hart still at the top for now.

Andre Woodson - Quarterback - Kentucky
Stats - 8 Games 153.8 Rating 64.7% Passing 275.1 Y/G 26 TD 4 Int 3 Rush TD
Last Week: 35-50 415 Yards 5 TD

Kentucky was upset last week at home, but it was not for a lack of play by Andre Woodson. He dominated the Gator defense and led the Wildcats on long scoring drives the entire game. He is the best quarterback in the nation and is close to overtaking Hart as the number 1 candidate on my list. He has the leadership and skills necessary to be that guy. It will be interesting to see how he rebounds after the tough loss.
Tim Tebow - Quarterback - Florida
Stats - 7 Games 177.5 Rating 66.1 % Passing 244.4 Y/G 17 TD 3 INT 125 Rush 578 Yards 10TD
Last Week: 18-26 256 Yards 4 TD 20 Rush 78 Yards 1 TD
Tebow jumped into the rankings this week with his great performance against Kentucky. He was barely out of my top 5, but the dominating effort against Kentucky moved him into my top three. Many people say he is the leading candidate, but I still do not think he is as good as Woodson or Hart. He is very important to his team, which also helps his rankings. Tebow leads the team in passing and rushing. Tebow also leads starting quarterbacks in quarterback rating. If he keeps it up he has a chance, but he is a sophomore and that could hurt him.

Matt Ryan - Quarterback - Boston College
Stats - 7 Games 137 Rating 63.2% Passing 306.9 Y/G 17 TD 6 INT 1 Rush TD
Last Week: BYE

The man that people call "Matty Ice" has led the Eagles to an undefeated record and a top ranking in the BCS. He is a tough kid who is very accurate and a smart passer. His stats are not overly impressive and he has played some weak competition, which is why he is at 3 for me, but he does other things that make up for it. Ryan is a great leader on the field and keeps the team focused on driving down the field and scoring. If Ryan has success against the tougher opponents on the schedule he may move up.

Dennis Dixon - Quarterback - Oregon
Stats - 7 Games 165.8 Rating 69.3% Passing 246.9 Y/G 16 TD 3 INT 423 Rush Yards 7 TD
Last Week: 19-20 196 Yards 1 TD 1 INT 12 Rush 99 Yards 1 TD

Dixon did not have a great game against Washington last week, but he still managed to help Oregon get the win. His numbers were not bad, but against a weak Washington opponent his numbers could have been better and should have been better. Dixon was not helped with the way that some of the other Heisman quarterback candidates played this past week. Dixon is still in the running, but he needs to have better games against these types of opponents. Dixon can shoot up the rankings with a great game against USC this week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gators Wright and Cooper have Surgery, Medder in a Boot

Gator safety Major Wright and Wide out Riley Cooper both had surgery on their fingers Monday afternoon. Cooper had two screws inserted into two of his fingers that he broke in the Kentucky game. Wright had surgery on his broken thumb as well. Meanwhile, Offensive lineman Carlton Medder is in a boot right now with a heel injury.

The Gators have said that Cooper is expected to play, but Wright and Medder are both questionable. Even though he will be able to play in the game, those fingers are bound to bother Cooper and could lead to some drops in the game. If Major Wright is not available in the game the Gators have will turn to Senior Kyle Jackson, who was benched earlier this season for Wright, and has not lived up to his recruiting hype. Dorian Munroe will also see time in the game if Wright is unable to go. Wright has been good on run defense and lays some big hits, but he has looked lost in coverage at times. Kyle Jackson is still a downgrade though and this injury is going to hurt the Gators if he cannot go.

The injury to Medder may be the most concerning injury. The offensive line has already had injuries this year and they had to have a freshman come in and fill the guard position for Phil Truetwein. Earlier this season Urban Meyer said he did not trust his offensive line enough to run the ball, and that was before the injury to Medder. The Gators need the line to be sound so that they can run the ball with out using Tebow, who is nursing a shoulder injury. They are also going to need more protection than usual. Hopefully Medder will be able to go this week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Penalties and Miscues Help Lions Beat Bucs

The Bucs found a running game in Detroit and dominated the time of possession, but turnovers and penalties killed them and they lost the game to the Lions. Earnest Graham ran with a purpose all day and was able to help the Bucs sustain drives and control the clock. Unfortunately for the Bucs a fumble on the two yard line, a missed field goal, blocked punt, and penalties ended those drives without scoring points. It was a hard defeat for the Bucs to swallow because you just felt that they were outplaying the Lions and would come away with the win.

Graham had a career day running for 92 yards on 19 carries and catching 13 balls for 99 yards. He always seemed to be moving forward and was very physical when hitting the hole and finishing runs off. The Bucs look to have found the guy who can carry it for them 20-25 times a game and get them the good yardage. One thing that Cadillac Williams did not do effectively was catch the ball out of the backfield, which is very important in the west coast system. In his first two games as the starter Graham has looked very comfortable catching out of the backfield and being Jeff Garcia's safety valve. Although it was a great game, the expectations need to be tempered until they play another tough run defense, like Jacksonville next week. The Bucs were also able to get some of the other backs involved in the game and they each ran pretty well. Michael Bennett go the ball 2 times and was in on a couple other play action plays. Bennett had two good runs and you can see his explosion when he touches the ball. BJ Askew had a couple nice catches and runs and is also another physical back. It looks like the Bucs will get Michael Pittman back in two weeks and they should have a nice stable of backs they can go to at that time.

While the running game looked very good yesterday, the passing game lost two more weapons. Wide receivers Mark Jones and Michael Clayton both left the game with injuries. Jones, who has been a top returner this year, is done for the season with a torn patella tendon. Clayton has a high ankle sprain and is awaiting the MRI results right now, but looks like he will be out for a couple of weeks. With the two injuries to their wide outs the Bucs now have only 3 healthy wide outs on the roster with Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, and Maurice Stovall. They will need to go out and find another wide out off of someones practice squad or a free agent that has not signed on anywhere else. The injuries just keep on mounting for the Bucs.

Outside of the fumble on the 2 yard line, Jeff Garcia had another great game for the Buccaneers. He set a new Bucs record with 19 consecutive completions in one game and was efficient all game long. He was forced to move around a bit because the offensive line did not have it's best game, but he was able to move through his progressions very quickly and find the open receiver. He completed 37 passes to eight different receivers in the game. Garcia is great at recognizing when a guy is not open and checking down to the next option, even in a three step drop. This was his best statistical game as a Buc, but ask him and he will trade it in for a win.

Once again the theme on defense was no pressure up front. The front four of the Bucs amassed three sacks in the game against one of the worst lines in the NFL. The also got ran over by TJ Duckett when he was in the game and ran around when Kevin Jones came into the game. Once again Gaines Adams was invisible. He did show up on the defensive statistics at all and looked lost out there on the field. Whatever game he thinks he is playing, it is not football. The rest of the defensive lineman did not play much better either and although they were not on the field much, they gave up the plays they needed to make.

The Bucs dominated the time of possession in the game and seemed to control most of the game, but when you do not convert on drives you will lose the game and the Bucs did. The defense still does not have a pass rush to speak of and if they don't get one they won't make the playoffs. The running game looked promising, but they will face better defenses in the future. The Bucs made mental mistakes and they can be fixed, but for now they need to find another wide out and figure out a way to stop getting hurt.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Florida/Kentucky Open Thread


Tied 7-7 in first. Lets go Gators. Comment here on the game!!!

Preview of Bucs v. Lions

This week brings a battle of two surprise teams on the season. The Bucs and Lions have exceeded expectations already and both teams are competing for not only for a playoff spot, but to be their respective division winners. There is a lot on the line for both teams in this game and expect a close game.

The Lions resurrection is being led by former Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. He has instilled a sense of discipline and removed players that have been a cancer to the locker room, or do not fit his system. While Rod is known for his defense, it's the offense that is leading the way for the Lions. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has installed his high flying offense and Jon Kitna has been the perfect quarterback to run the system. Kitna has multiple weapons at his disposal, with the biggest one being wide out Roy Williams. Williams is having fun in the Martz system and has put up some great numbers in the past two seasons. If the Bucs are going to win the game, they will need to shut him down.

The Lions are getting a boost on offense this week with the return of Kevin Jones to the starting lineup. Jones, who led the Lions in rushing last season, has been out or limited for up until now and without him the Lions have been terrible running the ball. Last week the Redskins put only 4 men in the box and dropped the rest daring the Lions to run the ball and they couldn't. The Lions were unable to pass the ball with all the defenders in the secondary and were embarrassed by the 'Skins.

Buc defensive coordinator Monte Kiffen has done well stopping Mike Martz in the past. The rivalry between Martz and Kiffen goes back to the Bucs playoff loss at St. Louis. Kiffen has been able to slow down Martz's high flying offense in the past and will look to do so again this week. The Bucs have not gotten a good pass rush going this season, but if they are going to this should be the week. The Lions have been terrible protecting the passer this season and the Bucs front four are looking forward to reeking havoc in the backfield. If the Bucs can get pressure on the quarterback the defense will be able to stop the offense and lead the Bucs to a victory.

The Lions defense has been terrible on the year and the Bucs will need to take advantage of that in the passing and running game. The Bucs were able to run the ball very well in the early part of the season and controlled the clock. The Bucs need to get back to running the ball well and set up Jeff Garcia and the passing game. Ike Hilliard has been the man for Garcia this season when he needs a play made. Galloway is the deep threat for the Bucs, but Hilliard has been the consistent force for the Bucs wide outs and has been the most dependable receiver. Michael Clayton made a big catch last week and it is important for him to step up once again and keep the momentum going. The Bucs need another option like Clayton to step up and make plays to keep the offense moving.

The Bucs traded for running back Michael Bennett earlier this week and while I think it was a good move, don't expect him to make an impact this week. He has practiced, but Gruden's system is complex and he needs to understand a blocking scheme as well as the plays. He may get a couple of plays in the game, but fans should not be disappointed if he doesn't have a huge game running or receiving. The Bucs will also most likely be without starting tight end Alex Smith who has been a nice safety valve for Jeff Garcia. Jerremy Stevens and Anthony Becht will have to step up and make up for the loss of Alex Smith not only in the receiving game, but also blocking.

This should be a tough game for both teams and expect it to come down to the fourth quarter. The big things to watch will be if the Bucs can get pressure on Kitna on defense and if they can run the ball effectively on offense. If they can do those two things, the Bucs will win the game.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Heisman Top 5 -- Week 8

With the season entering the BCS portion I have decided to start my Heisman watch each week. Each week I will put out who I think are the top 5 Heisman candidates in the order I would vote for them. The Heisman trophy is given to the best player in the country and that is how I look at the award. The best player may not, and usually is not, on the best team in the country. This year their is no clear cut favorites to win the award and hopefully one of these guys will emerge later on in the year. Here is my Top 5 starting this week:
Mike Hart - Running Back - Michigan
Stats - 7 Games 200 carries 1,078 yards 12 TD's
Hart is the leading rusher in the NCAA and averages the second most yards per game. Michigan lost it's first two games, but that was not due to a poor performance by Mike Hart, who ran for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns in those two games. Mike Hart has been the most important player to his team this year. Michigan lost their first two games and also lost their senior quarterback in the second game. Mike Hart put the team on his back and has carried Michigan back into the top 25 and has them on track to compete with OSU for the Big 10 title. Without Hart the Wolverines would not be in contention for anything and Lloyd Carr would be out of a job.
Andre Woodson - Quarterback - Kentucky
Stats - 7 Games 149.9 Rating 63.7% Passing 255.1 Y/G 21 TD 4 Int 3 Rush TD
Woodson is the best quarterback in college football and has led the resurrection of the Kentucky program in the SEC. Woodson is a smart quarterback who throws a great ball. Last week he led the Wildcats to an upset victory over then number ranked LSU. Woodson has only had one bad game this season and that was at South Carolina when he was blitzed and knocked around all game. Woodson is another guy, like Hart, that can carry the team on his back and whatever way he goes the team goes. Woodson has Kentucky in the top 10 of the BCS for the first time in their history.
Matt Ryan - Quarterback - Boston College
Stats - 7 Games 137 Rating 63.2% Passing 306.9 Y/G 17 TD 6 INT 1 Rush TD
The man that people call "Matty Ice" has led the Eagles to an undefeated record and a top ranking in the BCS. He is a tough kid who is very accurate and a smart passer. His stats are not overly impressive and he has played some weak competition, which is why he is at 3 for me, but he does other things that make up for it. Ryan is a great leader on the field and keeps the team focused on driving down the field and scoring. If Ryan has success against the tougher opponents on the schedule he may move up.
Dennis Dixon - Quarterback - Oregon
Stats - 6 Games 173.6 Rating 70.2% Passing 254.2 Y/G 15 TD 2 INT 324 Rush Yards 6 TD
Dixon returned for his senior season at Oregon after playing baseball for the Braves in the off season and head coach Mike Bellotti was concerned at how he would respond to the lay off. Dixon has responded just fine and has thrown only 2 interceptions all year. Dixon is very fast and is a dual threat quarterback. He has a great arm, very accurate, smart, and a great athlete. He had one bad game where he threw the two interceptions against Cal, but Oregon still had a chance to win in it at the end of the game because of Dixon marching them down the field. Dixon is a great leader and makes the plays when he has to and has the ability to make those plays.
Sam Bradford - Quarterback - Oklahoma
Stats - 7 Games 181.1 Rating 70.7% Passing 241.3 Y/G 20 TD 4 INT
Oklahoma's problem last year was that Rhett Bohmar was thrown out of school just before the start of the season and they did not have a quarterback to fill in. Bradford has come in as a freshman and has led the Sooners to a great record and has done so in exciting fashion. As you can see by his numbers he is a very accurate passer who makes the right plays when they are there and does not force the ball into bad spots. He is not overly mobile, but he does not have to be. Bradford is surprisingly composed for a freshman and is a great field general. His problem is that he is a freshman and I do not expect him to compete for the award because of this, but he is one of the best players in the country.

Florida v. Kentucky Preview

The Gators open up the second half of their season on the road against Kentucky. Kentucky is coming off of a tough win against LSU at home, while the Gators had a much needed bye week to get healthy. This is a huge match up in the SEC East as both teams have a chance to not only win the East, but win the SEC. After Kentucky's win against LSU they find themselves in place they have never been before, the top 10 of the BCS rankings. The Gators know that they still control their own destiny and the first step towards Atlanta begins tomorrow.

The emphasis in this game for the Gators on defense will be to keep Andre Woodson off balance and make him uncomfortable. To do this they are going to need switch up their defense and do more blitzing than they have been doing. So far on the season the coaches have tried to protect their young secondary and in doing so have allowed quarterbacks to sit back and pick apart the secondary. Brandon Cox has been terrible on the year, but looked like Tom Brady against the Gator defense earlier this year because he was able to dink and dunk all the way down the field because he had no pressure on him. Woodson is the best quarterback in college and if he is given time to sit back in the pocket he will shred the defense apart and it will not be a good day for the Gators. The Gators did get great news in the secondary over the bye week with the return of Markihe Anderson. Anderson had played outstanding in the secondary before getting injured and he offers the Gators some experience in the secondary that the Gator coaches can trust.

Kentucky will once again be without their starting running back Rafel Little due to a thigh bruise and their backup is also not 100%, so the pressure will once again fall to Woodson. The Gators have been pretty good about stopping the run all season against good backs, so expect Kentucky to become one dimensional in the game fairly early. South Carolina was very successful against Woodson using blitzing schemes and making him uncomfortable in the pocket in their meeting two weeks ago. Hopefully the Gators will be able to blitz him and get him to make some mistakes that they can take advantage of.

The Gators offense should get a big boost this week with the return of Andre Caldwell to the starting lineup. He played a few plays against LSU, but was nowhere near being healthy. Caldwell has said that he is almost 100% and is ready to go this week. The Gators have had a difficult time replacing Caldwell in the passing game, which has led the offense to revolve around Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin almost exclusively. Without another viable wide out teams have been able to focus in on Harvin and stop the Gators passing game from getting the big plays.

While the passing game will get a jump start with Caldwell coming back, it is more important that the Gators get their running game going early and often. The Gators finally committed to the run against LSU and were able to gash the Tigers for big yards. The Gators easily ran for more yards than any other team against LSU and they did so running the ball right at them. Kestahn Moore had a good game and it looks like he is ready to step up and be a dependable back for the Gators. The offensive line is getting better as the year goes on because the younger guys have been playing more and getting more comfortable together. The Gators have had a week off to rest and get ready for this game. Kentucky is coming off of a draining physical game against LSU last week and the Gators need to take advantage of this. They need to run the ball and move the Wildcats off the line and beat them physically. If the Gators can run the ball it will also open the passing game and allow them to move the ball well every drive.

The Gators had a disappointing first half of the season, but they still can control their own destiny going forward. They have a lot to play for and they seem to be getting better as the weeks go on and the younger players get more and more experience. The first half is over and the Gators need to forget about because their is no going back. The second half starts tomorrow and beating Kentucky will get them back on track.

Prediction: Florida 31 Kentucky 21

Rice Runs Over Bulls in Rutgers Win

The Bulls had not given up 100 yards to a running back in the past 14 games, but the last running back to do it was Ray Rice, and he did it again. Rutgers road Rice all game and he amassed 181 yards on 39 carries. He was not only able to run up the middle, like many thought he could, but somehow he was also able to get to the outside against the Bulls speedy defense. Rice has a history of running over the Bulls and I expected him to get his hundred, but 181 is a surprising number from a defense that was playing so well. The Bulls seem to struggle with the backs that run downhill with power and are not trying to get to the outside like WVU does. Rice showed why he is still a Heisman candidate on a team that does not have a very good record and once again ran on a great defense because he is that good.


Even with Rice running for that many yards is was not an easy victory for the Knights, who needed to use all of their trick plays to pull the upset. You knew that Rutgers was going to pull out all the stops when the used a fake punt on the first drive of the game. They later scored on a fake field goal, which USF actually looked to be ready for, but there was a great pass and catch on the play. Rutgers knew that they needed to win this game and they went all out to do so.

Special teams was not so special in this game. Rutgers muffed two punts that USF was able to capitalize on and score points. It looked at times like Rutgers was trying to give the game to USF with the dumb plays and bad play calls. USF's kickoff coverage played terribly and allowed Rutgers to get good field position with great runs and because of stupid penalties at bad times. USF's special teams was not very good in any aspect of the game. They had a field goal blocked and also missed a field goal in the game to go with the poor coverage on kickoffs. They were able to overcome these problems in the Auburn game, but not last night against Rutgers.

The obvious problem in my mind is that the offense is Matt Groethe. His wide outs dropped passes that he put right into their hands. The running backs were not able to get anything going and once again Matt Groethe was the leading rusher for the Bulls. The big gains for Groethe came in the first half when Rutgers was running man and did not have a spy on him. After half time the Knights adjusted and made sure they were running containment or had a linebacker spy on Groethe to make sure he could not run. Once they were able to keep Groethe in the pocket they were able to stop the Bulls offense. The Bulls wide outs were unable to get open and when they did they dropped the ball. Groethe was able to get a couple runs, but for the most part he was lying on his back due to the 7 sacks in the second half. Rutgers adjusted at halftime and the Bulls were unable to deal with the adjustment.

Much will be made by Bulls fans about the officiating. I have already heard and read enough to know that the refs are being blamed for the loss. It is easy to use the refs as an excuse, but the fact is that if you play well enough it does not matter what the refs do. They did get a touchdown called back, but they had the ball and could have marched down he field and scored a touchdown, but they did not. You have to deal with adversity and just get back on the field and do your job. The push off in the end of the game was a blatant push off and had to be called, but the fact is they should never have put themselves in that spot. The were only 20 yards away from FG range and allowed Groethe to be sacked. He then spiked the ball for some unknown reason and put the offense in a very bad spot. It is useless to complain about penalties because they could have been overcome if the Bulls had played their game.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ben Moffitt Semi-Finalist for Butkus Award and George Selvie Semi-Finalist for Lombardi Award

Ben Moffitt has made it to the semi-finals for the
Butkus award given to the nations best linebacker. Past award winners have been NFL players like Patrick Willis, Paul Pozluszny, and Derrick Johnson. Moffitt has been great this year and has helped the Bull defense dominate good offensive teams and get wins at Auburn and against West Virginia.

On the season Moffitt has 52 Tackles, 27 of which have been solo. He also has 3 interceptions, which he got at key times in the games, and one even returned one for a touchdown against WVU. Moffitt is also the leader on the defense and makes sure that the plays are called and that everyone is in their correct position for the play. He provides much more than athleticism, but also provides the senior leadership the defense needs to be successful.

Moffitt has some tough competition for the award this year though. The other 9 semi-finalists include: Ali Highsmith (LSU), Dan Conner (PSU), Shawn Crable (Michigan), Jordan Dizzo (Colorado), Erin Henderson (Maryland), James Luarinaitis (OSU), J Lemman (Illinois), Keithm Rivers (USC), and Wesley Woodyard (Kentucky). Conner is another great linebacker out of PSU and James Laurinaitis is also up for the Lombardi award. Moffitt will need to continue his great play for the rest of the season, and he will also need his team to keep winning and stay in the national spotlight. Moffitt has been great all year, but I don't expect him to take this award in the end.


George Selvie was not even on the Lombardi watch list until about a week ago and now he is a semi-finalist for the award. The Lombardi is given to the best lineman, offensive or defensive, in the country. Selvie is a great talent and has been dominant all year long. Selvie leads the nation in sacks with 11.5 and has 17 sacks in 19 career games. Not only does he get sacks, but he also causes havoc in the backfield.

Selvie has shown not only the speed needed to play defensive end, but all the physicality that is needed to be a great DE. One thing that Selvie has that you see Gaines Adams lacks is the nasty streak and physicals needed to go up against the biggest LT in the game. Selvie is only a Sophomore, so that may hurt his chances of getting the award.

Just like Moffiit, Selvie has some tough completion for his award. The other 11 semi-finalists are: Glenn Dorsey (LSU), James Laurinaitis (OSU), Sam Baker (USC), Duke Robinson (OK), Xavier Adibi (VT), Calais Campbell (Miami), Dan Conner (PSU), J Lemmen (Illinois), Chris Long (UVA), Jack Long (Michigan), and Alex Mack (CAL). Dorsey maybe the best defensive player in the nation and once again Conner and Laurinaitis are up for their second award. Selvie does lead the nation in sacks and if he keeps it up he stands a good chance of winning the award, but it will hurt that he is only a sophomore.

USF Faces Rutgers In Big Time Thursday Night Game

The Bulls have their first test tonight since the BCS rankings came out. They have to go up to New Jersey to play Rutgers in a big Big East match up on Thursday night. Rutgers is having a disappointing season thus far, but a win over USF would put them back into the Big East picture and may turn their season around.

If previous stats mean anything, Rutgers should feel pretty good because home teams have a record of 14-7 on Thursday nights this season, and home teams have had similar success in past seasons. Rutgers needs to only look to last season to gain confidence and see what a game like this can do for the rest of their season. Last year Louisville came into Rutgers ranked number 3 in the country and were upset on a field goal at the end of the game. This is a different team and different year for Rutgers, but these players have done it before and are ready to do it again. Rutgers also has not lost three consecutive games at home since 2003, when the team was horrible. Both teams are coming off of big wins last week, Rutgers over Syracuse and USF over UCF.

This game will be a match up of two great running games as well as two good run defenses. Rutgers, led by Ray Rice, averages 182 yards on the ground per game while USF, averaging 180 yards a game, get their yards from 3 different sources. The Bulls have been getting equal contributions from running backs Ben Williams and Mike Ford, as well as quarterback Matt Groethe. Both teams will need to the run the ball well in this game if they want a chance to win the game.

These two defense are middle of the pack in the Big East in rush defense, but have looked good stopping the run this season. The Bulls shut down WVU early this season, who have the number 2 run offense, and also shut down the nations leading rusher, Kevin Smith, last week. Rutgers shut down Navy and their number 1 rush offense earlier this year, but struggled against Maryland to stop the run. Both of these teams depend on running the ball to score points and to help open up the passing game. The team that runs for more yards in this game will win the game.

The two quarterbacks in this game could not be more different. Teel is a pocket passer, whose job is to be efficient and get just enough to win the game. Meanwhile, Groethe will use his legs and arm to try and win the game and much more is asked of Groethe in the offense. Teel is a very efficient passer and normally does not make many mistakes, which will cause his team to lose the game. When Teel makes mistakes, Rutgers gets into bad positions and tend to lose the game. Teel had bad games in both the Cincinnati and Maryland loses earlier this season. Rutgers was up in the Cincy game going into the half, but Tell made mistakes in the second half to cost them the game.

Groethe has not had a good year passing the ball, until last week against UCF. The Knights do not have a good secondary and Groethe did exploit that all game. He struggled earlier this year against teams that did have good secondaries like FAU and UNC. If Groethe tries to force balls in against Rutgers, they will get picked off and end badly for USF. While he only has 3 interceptions on the season, they have been in the red zone or during bad spots in games. Groethe will need to take what the defense gives him and not try to force anything.

The biggest stat in this game will be turnovers. Whoever wins this turnover battle will win this game because these two teams thrive off of getting turnovers and taking advantage of them. If the Bulls make mistakes tonight, Rutgers will capitalize and win this game. It is going to be very loud at Rutgers tonight and they are ready to end USF's magical run. The Bulls are coming off of a short week and have not played in a big Thursday game like this ever. This should be a great game that will come down to the fourth quarter and whoever makes the least amount of mistakes. Rutgers will be ready for this game and I think it may be too much for USF.
Prediction: Rutgers 27 USF 24

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

JUCO DT Epps Commits to Florida

The Gators got another commitment on defense yesterday. Troy Epps, who has played for the Coffeyville Red Raiders for the past two season, has verbally committed to the Gators. Epps is a defensive tackle, but can play anywhere on the defensive line and be effective. In six games this season he has 47 tackles, 14.5 of them for a loss, 2 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles.

Epps played high school football in Union, South Carolina, where he not ponly played offense and defense for the football team, but also lettered in soccer, and was the number 1 heavyweight wrestler in the region for four straight years. His senior season he played full back and defensive tackle. He had 65 tackles, 6 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Epps running back coach said that he had great hands and was very powerful. He was named offensive and defensive player of the week during the season.

Epps obviously has the power and speed to play defensive tackle and as a JUCO transfer will be ready to step right in next year. The defensive line has been a problem for the Gators this season, who lost 3 starters from last season's defensive line. The Gators have addressed the line in recruiting, but this will be an immediate help next year. Last years number 1 defensive lineman, Carlos Dunlap, will most likely join Epps on the inside and help to create a dominant front four once again.

Bucs Make Trade for Michael Bennett


Reports are that the Bucs have made a deal for running back Michael Bennett. Bennett has been backing up Larry Johnson in Kansas City for the past two seasons, but with Priest Holmes apparently ready to play, Bennett became expendable. The Chiefs will get a conditional draft pick for Bennett, but those details have not been released yet.
Bennett went to Wisconsin and was a sprinter along with being the starting running back. He was stuck behind Ron Dayne his first two seasons, but broke out his junior year for 1,592 yards, despite missing two games with injury. Bennett ran a 4.13 40 yard dash at pro day and is rumored to be one of the fastest men in the NFL. He was a first round draft pick by Vikings in 2001 and had a pro bowl sophomore campaign in 2002.
The problem for Bennett has been injuries. After his 2002 year he went down with a foot injury and has not been fully healthy since that year. He is an effective back when he is on the field, but that has been only a few games a season. The Bucs have had bad luck with injuries to their running backs, so it is worrisome that they signed another guy who has been injury prone. If Bennett can stay healthy he will be a nice addition to the backfield, but other than his sophmore year he has yet to stay healthy for an entire year.
If the Bucs were going to make a move, this was probably the best move they could make without mortgaging future drafts to get a guy in here that may not contribute. Bennett does have great hands and should be a great third down back for the Bucs. He is not a power back and with his injury history he is not a guy you want to feature, but he will be a nice change up from Earnest Graham. Bennett also gives the Bucs another guy they can put back to return kicks that may be effective. He has the speed and shiftiness needed to be a good return man and could help give the Bucs good field position on kick offs.
We will have to wait and see what Bennett does for the Bucs and what the condition of the pick was, but this is not a bad move. Teams knew that the Bucs were in need of a back and had outrageous demands for third string running backs. This is not the sexy move that fans wanted, but it may be enough to hold on until Michael Pittman can come back from his injury.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Where is the Pass Rush

Much has been made of the resurgence of the Buc defense this season. They have been flying to the ball and the younger guys seem to have brought back the athleticism and attitude this team used to be known for. While the defense has looked like it has had a resurgence, their is one huge thing missing this season that used to be a big part of the Buc defense, a pass rush.



The Bucs have 11 sacks in the first 6 games of this season with 3 coming against the Panthers, 2 on Kerry Collins in back to back plays, and 1 that was the result of Vince Young tripping on his running back. The sacks that the Bucs are getting come from either coverage sacks, or the offense running the wrong play. The Buc front four has been over matched by every offensive line that they have played so far. The Bucs have tried blitzing with corners, safeties, and linebackers, but that hasn't helped. Without a pass rush the Bucs will find themselves on the field longer than they should and giving up points that they should not be.


The Tampa 2 defense relies on the front four to get pressure. It is a zone coverage and if a passer gets enough time back in the pocket he will be able to read the zone and find the holes in it. The Bucs have had some coverage sacks so far this season, which has been nice, but it is supposed to be the other way around. Jovan Haye has been the best defensive lineman as far as sacks go and he only has 3 sacks in 6 games, meanwhile Giants' defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora doubled that in one game. The Bucs knew this was going to be a problem, which is why the drafted Gaines Adams with the fourth overall pick, but he has done nothing so far. Adams did have his first "sack" yesterday, but that came when he touched Vince Young down after he tripped over his own back. Adams has been dominated at the line this year and at times has looked lost trying to get to the quarterback. Spires and Carter have looked much better at defensive end this year and as much as they need Adams to get on the field, they need to have a pass rush more.


Patrick Chuckwurah was brought in to replace Dewayne White, and has looked good after coming back from injury, but he went down with a shoulder injury against the Titans. The Bucs will need Greg White to get over his injury and try to rotate in and get a pass rush going. The Bucs don't necessarily need sacks, but they do need to disrupt the quarterback in the pocket. If the Bucs do not get the pass rush going, they are going to picked apart this week by Jon Kitna.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

USF 2 and UF 15 in First BCS Rankings

The first BCS standings of the year are out and USF is number 2 in the nation, while the Gators are number 15. USF had never been ranked in the top 25 since the inception of the football team, but that did not stop it from making a huge mark in its first BCS rank. While the Bulls are enjoying great success this season, the Gators are 15th in the first rankings and still have tough tests to go.

The best thing for the Bulls is that they are number 1 in the computer polls and are closer to number 1 OSU than number 3 BC. If someone would have said that USF would be 2 and BC would be 3 in the first BCS rankings this year, everyone would have laughed at them. This season nothing seems impossible and USF has probably the easiest schedule of any of the undefeated teams left. Next week will probably be their toughest road test at Rutgers, but that game does not seem as tough as it did in the beginning of the year with how bad Rutgers has been this season. Meanwhile they get Cincy and Louisville at home where they seem to be unbeatable.

OSU's schedule has been ridiculously easy thus far and they will finally get tested down the stretch. Their really are only two games that should test OSU: at PSU, and at Michigan. Michigan can still win the Big 10 and that game maybe for the Big Ten title. PSU has been on and off this season, but they have always been great at home, especially at night. BC has had an easy schedule and it doesn't really get much harder, but they do have to go to Virginia Tech, which has gotten better every week.

The Gators are 15th in BCS rankings, but they have a lot of tough tests to go. They have to play 2 teams that are in the top 7 of the BCS and another that is in the top 20. If the Gators can win out in the regular season they would have to most likely play LSU again in the SEC Championship game. If all of this were to happen for the Gators and the undefeated teams were to lose at least one game, they would have a huge chance of getting into the top two. The probability of it happening or pretty close to none, but it goes to show the parity in the NCAA this season.

The Bulls control their own destiny for the National Championship and the Gators control it for the SEC championship. While the Gators are familiar with this territory, it is new to the Bulls. Many would be worried about what a top ranking like this means to a team that has never been here before, but with Coach Jim Leavitt at the helm there really is nothing to worry about. Leavitt has kept his guys focused all year long and no one should expect it to change. Congrats to the Bulls on being number 2, lets see if they can hold on for the rest of the ride.

Garcia Leads Bucs Past Titans

Vince Young has led his team back on fourth quarter drives his whole career, but this time Young sat on the sideline and watched Jeff Garcia lead the Bucs down for the winning score. In a game where the defenses seemed to dominate the game, Garcia stepped up and led the Bucs to a victory.

On third down with a minute left in the game and Tennessee having two timeouts, Garcia bought himself time and hit Ike Hilliard down field to move the ball. After completing the pass, he got back under center and kept moving the Bucs down field and got them into field goal range for Matt Bryant win the Bucs the game. It was just another one of Garcia's great plays in the game. Garcia was under pressure a lot during the game, but he moved around and made the plays that were there, including a bomb to Galloway when he had Titans all over him.

Fans were excited when the Bucs signed Garcia in the off season, but no one could have known he would have the effect he has this season. He single handily won the Bucs the game on offense today. Garcia has made the plays that are there, and created ones that aren't. His fire and leadership are contagious and without him the Bucs would not be in the position they are right now. He has yet to throw an interception on the season, which shows just how smart the guy is. He may be one of the only quarterbacks in this league that can run Gruden's offense the way it needs to be run. Gruden will be thanking Garcia for a long time, because with out him, Gruden would have lost his job this year.

At the Half

The Bucs are locked in a tough defensive battle at home against the Titans. This is exactly the type of game that most thought it would be. Both teams ahve struggled to run the ball effectively and are finding much more room passing the ball.

Earnest Graham has found it tough sledding up the middle of the Titan defense, but the Bucs have found room on the outside with tosses and screen passes. Graham has done a great job catching the ball out of the backfield, and has only had one drop so far. Michael Clayton finally showed up and had a huge catch for he Bucs, which set up the Bucs field goal.

The disappointing thing so far as been the inability of the Bucs to move the ball more effectively and out the ball in the end zone. They have forced two turnovers, but have only 3 points to show for it.

The Titans start with the ball in the second half. Lets hope the Bucs can get a stop and move the ball and get another score.



Bulls Dominate Knights in "Rivalry" Game

The Bulls dominated the game against UCF from kickoff. The Bulls scored their first bunch of points off of Knight turnovers in their own 20. The Knights got back in it for a second, but USF got a safety after pinning the Knights down and after that went on to outscore UCF 52-5 for the rest of the game.

The Bull defense dominated the UCF offense and held one of the nations best backs to 55 yards on 18 carries. Most of Smith's yards came in the first quarter and he was just down after that. Neither one of the UCF quarterbacks could get anything done against the Bulls stout defense.

The Bulls offense was led by Matt Groethe who stepped up and threw for over 200 yards and ran for over 100. The papers in Tampa had been calling for offense and Matt Groethe stepped up and gave everyone what they were looking for. His yardage through the air could have been even better had the wide outs not dropped some great passes thrown by Groethe. The Bulls responded to everyone, including myself, that thought they may struggle with UCF who came in fired up to try and knock USF off of their magical year thus far.

This game once again proved that this is not a rivalry game and after next season it needs to be put to an end. The Bulls have owned the series thus far, winning the first three games and dominating UCF at home. It doesn't make sense for them to keep playing UCF until the Knights get better and make a move out of conference USA. The win against UCF essentially does nothing for the Bulls because they were supposed to win. The Bulls have a lot to lose playing these games and nothing to gain. If they lose to a team like UCF they look real bad to the rest of the nation, meanwhile when they win it really does not help them because they were supposed to win.

The series made sense back when both teams were in Conference USA and both were getting better, but know it is obvious that USF is a step above UCF. USF needs to finish out the contract and find another team to play and maybe make another rivalry game. UCF is no match for USF and the Bulls proved that yesterday. The Bulls own their own destiny now and just need to go about their business the same way they have all year.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Preview of Bucs v. Titans

The Bucs take on Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans this weekend at Raymond James. Tennessee comes into the game with a record of 3-1 after beating the Falcons at home last week. The Titans maybe 3-1, but could very well be undefeated, as they had a chance to beat Indy, in Indy, on a fourth quarter drive. The Titans have a great defense, a good run game, and quarterback that just knows how to win.

The Bucs come into the game with a record of 3-2, but are coming off of a beat down in Indianapolis. The Bucs were dominated in all facets of the game last week and are looking to get back on track this week. The Bucs have been very good at home this year and have dominated the opponents that have come into Raymond James. The Bucs are 2-0 and home and have won the games by a combined 38 points. The Bucs have ran the ball very well at home and have enjoyed the home field advantage for once. They are going to need the crowd to help them in this one as well.

Titans Offense v. Bucs Defense

The Titans like to run the ball and they run the ball well. They average 153 yards a game and get contributions from a lot of different sources. They have two backs that they feel comfortable going to in any situation and their quarterback is also very good at running the ball. The Bucs have had a hard time with mobile quarterbacks in the past. The big problem for the Bucs is that their speed actually works against them. They are so fast to get to the ball that they are in a bad spot when the quarterback looks to run. The Buc defense as actually been pretty good against the run this year. The numbers for the Buc run defense are a bit misleading because of the St. Louis and Indy games. Although they gave up over 100 in each of those games, they did so on a lot carries to teams dedicated to running the ball. They will have the same type of team this week and will need to rotate the defensive lineman in and out all game to keep them fresh to stop the run.

The Titans have not passed the ball well this year at all. Vince Young is averaging only 145 yards a game through the air. He also has 5 interceptions to only 3 touchdowns. The Bucs have been great against the pass outside of the game against Indy. They have 6 interceptions on the year to go with 5 forced fumbles as well. They have not gotten to the passer as much as they have wanted, but it has gotten better as the year has gone on. Rookie Tanard Jackson has gotten better each week and made some great plays on Peyton Manning last week. The Bucs will most likely be without Brian Kelly again and will need Phillip Buchanon to step up one more time. They got Torrie Cox back from his suspension and that will help when they go into there 4 defensive back sets. Jermaine Phillips has been great in pass defense and run defense all year and will need a big game this week again.

Bucs Offense v. Titans Defense

The Bucs offense has lost key players in the run game the last two weeks. It started when they lost Cadillac Williams and Luke Petigout against Carolina for the season, and then lost Michael Pittman for 6-8 weeks last week against the Colts. The Bucs have turned the run game over to former Gator Earnest Graham and hope that he can carry the load with a couple of spells from BJ Askew and Ken Darby. They recently signed former Raider Zack Crockett to help with short yardage and blocking situations. This has been a big loss to the Bucs who have used the run to pound teams early and often to set up pass plays and wear the defense down. The Bucs have averaged 124 yards a game and have scored 7 touchdowns on the ground. The new unit will face it's most difficult test yet in the Titans. They give up only 72 yards on the ground per game and are one of the best run defense in the league. The Bucs thought they may catch a break with DT Albert Haynesworth being injured, but he practiced on Friday and will play on Sunday. This match up will go a long way in deciding who wins this game. If the Bucs can run the ball successfully against this defense, they should be able to win the game.

The Bucs passing game has been hit or miss, but that is not the fault of quarterback Jeff Garcia. Garcia has done everything he can to keep the Bucs in the game from not throwing interceptions at all, to running for first downs when a play breaks down. Garcia is a great leader out there and reads the defense perfectly so that Gruden can finally run his offense. While the Bucs are only averaging 182 yards per game in the air, it has been enough to win the games. The problem for the Bucs has been the lack of another wide out to step up and help. Joey Galloway as been Garcia's only big play target all season. Ike Hilliard has caught a lot of balls to keep the chains moving, but he does not have that big play ability. Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall have done nothing this season and they are going to need to step up for this team to win. The passing game won't win it for the Bucs, but it will need to be good enough to move the ball. Garcia has been the difference on offense so far, but the Bucs are going to need a wide out to step up and help Jeff out.

Overall

This is going to be a tough test for the Bucs at home. The Titans are a good team with a great defense. Vince Young seems to find a way to win every game, even if he is having a terrible game. The Bucs offense will need to get going and help keep the defense off the field so that they do not give up the long drives like they have at times this season. If the game is close in the fourth quarter, the Titans will have the advantage with Young at the helm.

Prediction: Bucs 17 Titans 14

No More Free Parking for Rays Games

The Devil Rays announced today that free parking will only extend to people that have four or more people in a car. Stu Sternberg decided to give fans another season of free parking last year, but ended it this season. The price to park will be $10 per car, as it was before the free parking, unless you have 4 or more people in the car, and than it will be free.

The Rays also cut the price of outfield tickets by a dollar, but raised the price of upper deck tickets, but upper deck tickets were raised by a dollar. These are minor changes for the Rays and it is good to see that the Rays have not increased the prices of tickets after another disappointing season.

The one difference in the Rays pricing that is a bit odd is a new $2 service fee charged to fans if they buy their tickets 5 hours or less before the first pitch of the game. I think this will have a bigger effect than raising prices and that's what the organization was thinking. Most people that go to baseball games go a little bit before the game and buy tickets. Many fans decide a couple hours before the game that they want to go to the game. Unlike football, baseball has 81 home games and most fans do not have season tickets, nor do they plan ahead if they want to go to games, unless they want to see a visiting team. While most will just pay it and not even know the difference, it will give the organization money that they had not had before. I think this will give them more money than had they raised every ticket price a dollar.

I do hope that since the parking is not free anymore, they will lower the concession prices back down. The beer prices were raised by a dollar after the free parking, and the cup size also went down. $10 per car is a lot of money, so hopefully they can take some of the concession prices down a bit.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Preview of USF v. UCF

The annual match up between UCF and USF is almost here and fans are getting excited. The columnists at the Orlando Sentinel are tried, successfully, to drum up some emotion from the USF fans by going to USF wearing UCF gear and flags on his head. UCF fans are getting excited with the thought of trying to upset USF and put an early end to their dream season. The Bulls are ranked number 5 in the country and have sold out Raymond James for the second game in a row.

USF is coming off of a tough win against FAU down in Boca Raton. It was a very close game in which FAU had chances to come away with the upset win, but USF's defense stepped up and made the stops when they needed them most. The offense was led by running back Ben Williams, who ran for over 180 yards and had 4 touchdowns. Matt Groethe had a career day running the ball, but once again struggled in the passing game.

While USF is undefeated and coming off of a win, UCF is coming off of a disappointing big loss to ECU. Many USF fans have made a lot out of that ECU game, but they also need to remember that UCF almost beat a good Texas team. For UCF it will depend on which team shows up this week: the one that played Texas, or the one that played ECU. In a rivalry game everything gets thrown out the window, so neither side should be surprised by any outcome.

UCF Offense v. USF Defense

Talk about a big time match up. UCF has one of the best running backs in college football in Kevin Smith, who is averaging 180 yards a game. Smith has been great all year long and put up 150 yards against Texas, who gives up less yards per game than the USF defense. The Bulls defense has been great all year long and shut down one of the best running teams in WVU two weeks ago. Ben Moffitt and the other linebackers have been flying to the ball and have not allowed teams to get much going offensively. WVU is one of the best run offenses that anyone will play, but UCF runs the ball differently. WVU relies on misdirection and using speed to get to the outside and gain big chunks. The Bulls have the speed to get to the outside, which is why they always give them fits. UCF on the other hand is more of a power running team and will run the ball right at the Bulls. It is a much different animal to have to deal with and the Bulls will be in for a much more physical game.

The UCF pass game has not been too effective this year. Some of this is a product of running the ball so often, but a lot of it is because they are not good in the passing game period. USF corner Mike Jenkins, a possible first round draft choice, will shut down whoever he covers and make it very difficult on the Knights to throw the ball. Once they shut the passing game down, it will make it easier to stop Smith and the run game.

USF Offense v. UCF Defense

USF has been balanced on offense this year going for 183 in the air and 181 on the ground. While its good to be balanced, 183 in the air is not a number to be happy about. It seems that Groethe has taken a step back this season in the passing department and is not reading the defenses correctly. He has had only 3 interceptions so far on the year, but has also only thrown 5 touchdowns. The Knights defense are not the ball hawking defense that FAU was and have only intercepted 3 passes on the season. While they have only had 3 picks, they were at bad times and they have had some other bad fumbles that have cost them. So far the turnovers have not led to losses, but if they keep playing with fire, they will get burned by good teams.

With Mike Ford out last week, Ben Williams stepped up and went over 180 yards. The better the bulls can run, the better they will be able to set up the pass. The Knights have not been great at stopping the run this year and the Bulls may be able to take advantage of it. Hopefully Mike Ford will be back for this game and the Bulls can rotate in their backs along with Groethe running the ball.

Overall

This game will be tougher than most USF fans want to believe. While they struggled against ECU last week, UCF has been good for most of the season and Geroge O'Leary is a good big game coach. Jim Leavitt has been keeping his team focused in on UCF and they will come out fired up. USF will take the game in the end, but closer than many believe.

Final: USF 24 UCF 20

Dave Martinez Named Rays Bench Coach

The Rays have just announced that former major leaguer Dave Martinez is the new bench coach. Martinez was played outfield for 17 seasons and was one of the original Devil Rays.

Martinez served as an instructor for the Rays during Spring Training the last two seasons. He was also a base coach for the Rays during the past season while George Hendrick was out for 3 weeks. Martinez has a lot to offer the young team and has a good rapport with the players, but the move is a bit surprising.

Martinez had been rumored as a candidate to join the coaching staff, but many, myself included, thought that he would take over a base coaching job and either Foley or Hendrick would move to bench coach. Other than the three week period he filled in for Hendrick last season, he has never been a coach at the major league level. The bench coaching position usually goes to a guy who has been around longer and has had some experience, so this move is a bit odd.

Joe Maddon stated that the reason Bill Evers was let go was because he wanted someone who he got along with better and could bounce ideas off of more. He knew Evers for a long time and got along with him before he was the bench coach, but now he has hired a guy that he has known a lot less than Evers. Hendrick seemed to make more sense because they knew each other when they both coached with the Angels. The big question is whether he did this because he wanted a new guy in there that could offer something different, or did he want someone who he did not feel threatened by?

Evers had been with this club for a long time and many people wanted him to take the managers job before Maddon got it. Foley was also rumored to take the managers job before Maddon and he is very popular as well. While Martinez is popular with players and fans, he lacks the experience that would be needed for him to be a threat to Maddon at the manager position. Right now the benefit of the doubt goes to Maddon and I hope this is a good decision for the Rays. Martinez is a younger guy who can relate to the players a little better than some of the older coaches on the staff now. He will be a great influence and help to this team.

Now if they would only let Hickey go and bring in Xavier Hernandez.

Goaltending Much Improved

The Lightning have given up the same number of goals, four, through 3 games as they did last year. While they have given up the same number of goals, Holmqvist's save percentage is .945 and Denis' was .925. The number of goal may be the same, but the goal tending has been much better so far.

Holmqvist has made better and more saves than he or Denis did at anytime last season. He has stopped shots that were goals last year and cost the lightning games. Even the lightning opponents are noticing the difference. The Panthers remarked that shots they made last night would have gone in last season, and that Holmqvist is playing the best he has since being in the league. With the way that Holmqvist is playing, don't expect Denis to get much time between the pipes.

Denis was signed to a big deal last year and was supposed to be the savior at goalie for the offensive power house lightning, but struggled all year long. Holmqvist looked much better than Denis during the whole, year and eventually overtook him and started every playoff game for the lightning. This is not new territory for Holmqvist, who was the Swedish national goalie and has won many international games for the Swedish team.

The team has noticed a difference in the way they play with Holmqvist back in the net. Many have commented that they can play a different game knowing that they don't have to do as much on defense because Holmqvist will be there to make the stop. The more games he gets under his belt the better he seems to play. The Lightning seem to have found their savior at goalie, its just not the one they paid all the money to last season.