Sunday, August 31, 2008

Heisman Performances- Week One



Joe McKnight, RB, USC
Opponent: Virginia

6 rushes, 60 yards, 0 TDs
4 receptions, 24 yards, 1 TD
3 returns, 28 yards, 0 TDs

Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Opponent: Virginia

26 of 35, 338 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Chris Wells, RB, OSU
Opponent: Youngstown State

13 rushes, 111 yards, 1 TD
3 receptions, 10 yards, 0 TDs

Matthew Stafford, QB, UGA
Opponent: Georgia Southern

13 of 21, 275 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Knowshon Moreno, RB, UGA
Opponent: Georgia Southern

8 rushes, 59 yards, 3 TDs
2 receptions, 53 yards, 0 TDs

Sam Bradford, QB, OU
Opponent: Tennessee-Chatanooga

17 of 22, 183 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

DeMarco Murray, RB, OU
Opponent: Tennessee-Chatanooga

15 rushes, 124 yards, 2 TDs

Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
Opponent: Hawaii

9 of 14, 137 yards, 1 TD
9 rushes, 37 yards, 0 TDs

Juice Williams, QB, Illinois
Opponent: Mizzou

26 of 42, 451 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs
19 rushes, 10 yards, 0 TDs

Chase Daniel, QB, Mizzou
Opponent: Illinois

26 of 45, 323 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
9 rushes, 46 yards, 0 TDs

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Mizzou
Opponent: Illinois

4 receptions, 31 yards, 0 TDs
3 rushes, 2 yards, 0 TDs
7 returns, 201 yards, 1 TD

Pat White, QB, WVU
Opponent: Villanova

25 of 33, 208 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT
9 rushes, 63 yards, 0 TDs

Noel Devine, RB, WVU
Opponent: Villanova

9 rushes, 47 yards, 0 TDs
6 receptions, 37 yards, 0 TDs

Cullen Harper, QB, Clemson
Opponent: Alabama

20 of 34, 188 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Opponent: Alabama

2 rushes, 7 yards, 0 TDs
2 receptions, 27 yards, 0 TDs
5 returns, 161 yards, 1 TD

James Davis, RB, Clemson
Opponent: Alabama

6 rushes, 13 yards, 0 TDs
1 reception, 11 yards, 0 TDs

Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Opponent: FAU

24 of 29, 222 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
12 rushes, 103 yards, 1 TD

Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
Opponent: Eastern Washington

43 or 58, 536 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Opponent: Eastern Washington

9 receptions, 73 yards, 1 TD

P.J. Hill, RB, Wisconsin
Opponent: Akron

26 rushes, 210 yards, 2 TDs

Todd Reesing, QB, Kansas
Opponent: FIU

37 of 52, 256 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Rudy Carpenter, QB, ASU
Opponent: N. Arizona

22 of 28, 388 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs

Max Hall, QB, BYU
Opponent: UNI

34 of 41, 486 yards, 2 TDs

LeSean McCoy, RB, Pitt
Opponent: Bowling Green

23 rushes, 71 yards, 1 TD
5 receptions, 45 yards, 0 TD

Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan
Opponent: E. Illinois

21 of 31, 217 yards, 3 TDs
11 rushes, 42 yards, 0 TDs

Rearview: Game Ball goes to Tommy Bowden


Tommy Bowden had no interest in talking to reporters after Clemson’s 34-10 loss to Alabama. Why would he? What is there to say that I can’t say for him? The No. 24 Crimson Tide were better coached, more prepared, and despite their youth, the better team on Saturday.

The Alabama game plan was obvious. Limit the strength of the opponent, which they did, but credit Tommy Bowden with an assist. Coming into 2008, I doubt there was a more publicized backfield tandem in college football than Clemson’s James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The dynamic duo was limited to a combined 20 yards in 4 quarters of football, with the team finishing with an overall zero on the rushing stat sheet. Credit an Alabama defense that aimed to force the Tigers to beat them with the arm of Cullen Harper, but Tide fans should also give thanks to Tommy Bowden for his unbalanced attack, rushing just 14 times as a team, with Spiller and Davis having just 8 carries between them. Give Bowden the “defensive game ball”, for doing more to stop the Clemson running game than anyone else in the stadium.

Clemson was billed as one of the most potent offenses in the country. It was to be their staple for the season. With 3 legitimate Heisman Candidates on offense (Harper, Spiller, Davis), the Tigers offensive unit failed to find the end zone once, with the team scoring their only touchdown on special teams. Nick Saban is very good at what he does, but Tommy Bowden made it a hell of a lot easier for him.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Both Mizzou and Illinois have conference championship dreams. And in the case of Missouri, maybe an even bigger prize. But after watching the teams wrack up over 1000 yards of offense against each other, I’ll say any championship run won’t go very far. Defense wins championships, and it’s the weakness of both programs. Defense was the difference between Missouri winning and losing the Big 12 in ‘07, with 2008 already appearing without change.

QUESTION

Now in his 4th year at Pitt, is there anyone in America that still believes Dave Wannstedt is the savior of the Panthers’ program?

Bowling Green 27, No. 25 Pitt 17

DIGITS

*3 high profile coaches opened their seasons with victories for their new employers. Bobby Petrino, Houston Nutt, Bo Pelini.

*3 coaches opened on sour notes. Rich Rodriguez, June Jones, Mike Sherman.

*0 is the number of points scored by NC State in their last game of 2007 (Maryland) and first game of 2008 (South Carolina).

*Kentucky defense 14, Louisville offense 0

*Navy’s Shun White ran for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns, on just 19 carries

*Virginia Tech’s upset loss to East Carolina ended a streak of 17 consecutive victories for the Hokies in games where the special teams blocked a punt or kick.

*4 penalties assisted Virginia on their only scoring drive against USC. The Trojans now have 2 weeks to prepare for Ohio State.

*Pat White passed for a career high 5 touchdowns. He also recorded a career high in pass attempts (33) and completions (25), while breaking Marc Bulger’s West Virginia’s career record for total offense.

*With his 33rd and 34th touchdown passes, Kellen Lewis became Indiana’s all time leader in the category, surpassing the numbers of Antwaan Randle El.

*BYU’s Max Hall threw for 486 yards.

*Arizona’s 70-0 victory over Idaho marked the most points scored by the Wildcats since 1921. The 49 first half points is a school record. Willie Tuitama’s 47th career touchdown pass broke the school record.

*373 career victories moves Joe Paterno into a tie with Bobby Bowden.


GALLOPING FINISH

ACC- puzzling
Michigan- as expected
East Carolina- Who’s next?
Mississippi State- What happened?
Wake Forest- under the radar, Shhh.
LSU-still here
WVU- See East Carolina above
Auburn- the media won’t even give you a peep
Texas Tech- Eastern Washington scored 24 points?
Oregon- now down to quarterback No. 3
Cal- still claiming opening day BCS victims at home
FAU- talked trash about the Horns before gameday?
Miami- giving us a better look next week.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Virginia Hoo? Trojans win in 52-7 rout


Shake off the worries about the health of Mark Sanchez. End your concerns about the bad hip of C.J. Gable and busted hand of Joe McKnight. Offensive line problems? Where? The Trojans flew to Virginia and made quick work of their opponent, drubbing the Wahoos by a score of 52-7.

From the first play of scrimmage, domination was evident. Virginia was losing the war in the trenches. The secondary was slower than the receivers they covered. Inexperience at quarterback suffered the punishment of experienced USC linebackers, and only one sideline saw anything “special” from the special teams unit. As coach Al Groh put it, “they came with everything we planned for”, but the Cavaliers were helpless to stop it.

Mark Sanchez showed no signs of being slowed by injury, airing it out for 338 yards, 3 tds, and 1 interception. The lone interception came on a passed tipped by Joe McKnight and into the waiting arms of a defender. The Trojan hurler stood tall and poised behind center, sometimes rolling in the pocket to dissect the secondary. The offense struck quick and often. And after 3 possessions, the scoreboard read 21-0, with the game's outcome becoming a mere formality.

8 Trojan horses rumbled out of the backfield, combining for a total of 218 yards on 41 carries, and 4 touchdowns. C.J. Gable rushed for 73 yards and a score, with Joe McKnight chipping in 60 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10 yards per carry. McKnight also caught 4 passes for 24 yards and a touchdown. Damian Williams led all receivers with 7 receptions for 91 yards, but he never found the end zone.

Overall, the Trojans combined for 558 yards of offense to Virginia’s 187. The offensive names will make the ESPN highlight reel, but the defense in this game was beastly. Virginia was limited to just 32 yards rushing on 21 carries. Their only score was a gift, as penalties against USC marched them down field, where they scored on a 7 yard run by Mikell Simpson. The Hoos turned the ball over 4 times, with three coming on fumbles. In the end, sophomore quarterback Peter Lalich gave his assessment of the Trojans.

“Their speed was pretty unbelievable the whole game. It’s something they have across the board, at every position, and they really were able to use it to their advantage”.

The Trojans can celebrate on their flight back to the west coast, but then it's back to work, preparing for a much better Ohio State team in two weeks. That one won't come so easily.

Fight On!

O.J. Simpson becomes victim of violence


The name O.J. Simpson is far removed from football glory and modernly synonymous to violence and brutality. Though he was acquitted for the horrific murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, guilt was found in the court of public opinion, leaving Simpson a societal outcast. But even before the slayings, police records show several calls to the Simpson home with reports of domestic violence. Last Sunday, Florida police received another.

According to the New York Daily News, Simpson was the aggressor in an in-house spat, and Simpson was also the victim. What began as an altercation between two females in the home, ended with O.J receiving a minor head injury, blood flowing from his mouth, and a cut lip. To sum it up in one sentence, O.J. got his ass kicked by his daughter. Coming to the defense of his girlfriend, Christie Prody, the juice was leveled by an angry Arnelle, who followed up her assault with a call to the local authorities explaining what she had done.

At first I found it odd that any woman would consider dating O.J. Simpson, considering the history, but I also think back to women sending love letters to Scott Peterson and Richard Ramirez behind prison walls. I guess everyone has their fetish, but I personally see nothing remotely attractive about Aileen Wuornos and her “wild side”.

The argument was supposedly sparked by Arnelle’s words about Christie’s alcoholism, so at least I can still say no woman in her “right mind” would date the former Trojan great. With his daughter getting her licks in, I think it’s time we set up dates with the Goldmans and Browns, and allow them to bring weapons to this celebrity ultimate fighting match. I’m sure they wouldn’t decline the invitation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Football’s Future: Cushing’s Health will determine draft status


Depending on what you read, USC’s Brian Cushing is a projected first round selection for the 2009 NFL draft. But before the linebacker can make truth of those projections, he’ll have to play a season free of injuries. As we find ourselves just two days from Southern Cal’s season opener in Virginia, Cushing is already provided with a gameday cast to add support to a sprained wrist.

Recruited heavily out of Bergen Catholic School in Park Ridge New Jersey, Cushing made an immediate impact as a Trojan freshman. He went from substitute and special teams player to starting strong side linebacker. His appearance with the first team defense may have arrived sooner, but a separated shoulder forced him out of action for 4 games.

As a sophomore, Cushing proved his versatility, becoming a hybrid that played either as a stand up defensive end or dropping back into the more familiar linebacker role. His second year showed his first complete season, though he missed the majority of the spring rehabbing from shoulder surgery. It was capped with the defensive MVP award of the 2007 Rose Bowl game. But health issues appeared again, just one year later. After battling a hamstring injury in the spring, he followed it up with arthroscopic knee surgery in the fall. He opened the junior season with an ankle injury against Idaho, which kept him out of the starting lineup for a couple of early season games. He returned, only to re-aggravate the ankle and miss 3 more.

The rap on Brian Cushing is that he possesses a world of talent that is eye catching to NFL scouts. But at the same time, he’s tagged as injury prone, which serves as a negative and increases possibility of a slide in draft position. Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson wore the same tag when leaving school, which likely assisted in the best player in college football sliding to No. 7 overall in the 2007 draft. Peterson fell as a running back, and injuries become more concerning for defensive positions that draw high impact collisions on nearly every play from scrimmage.

Before he can reach that first round in next year’s draft, Cushing will have to prove his durability. Anything less than surviving the rigors of the 12 game 2008 slate, will reflect on a scouting table’s notes as just one injury-free season in a four year college career. Though his name appears on many college football defensive awards watch lists, it will be health, and not talent, that will determine his rise or fall in draft position.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mitch Mustain drops to third on QB depth chart


Every passing day seems to bring more reason for Trojan quarterback Mitch Mustain to regret his decision to transfer out of the Arkansas program. His parents had a real problem with him playing behind the Hogs’ Casey Dick, after Mustain went 8-0 as a starter in the SEC. Arkansas went as far as hiring Mustain’s former high school coach, giving him a position of offensive coordinator, and luring the top rated passer to the program. But it didn’t’ take long for the splinters of the bench to become irritating, as he watched his team of choice run McFadden and Jones over and over again.

It was time for a change of scenery. It was time to find a pro style passing offense more suitable for his talents. It was time to go somewhere that opportunity knocks, and that somewhere appeared to be USC. With John David Booty on his way out, leaving a battle with Mark Sanchez behind, Mustain had to love his chances. But just as quickly as spring becomes summer, and leads into fall, is how quickly Mitch Mustain went from starting probable to 3rd on the Trojans depth chart.

Pete Carroll still declares the battle for No. 2 “wide open” between Mustain and Aaron Corp, while also pointing out that Corp will be the "go to" guy if Sanchez is incapable of performing efficiently or for long periods against Virginia. It’s not a surprise to me, as I have always believed Corp brought more physical tools to the table. And coming out of Orange Lutheran High School in 2007, I personally had him ranked higher than Oak Christian’s Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame).

Going from High School superstar to third string slinger is a tremendous blow to an ego. But if you’re a fan of USC, it’s a delight to know you have two quarterbacks on the bench that can easily start for many division I programs, and another one on the way (Matt Barkley) in 2009. And to bring more of an unsettling feeling to the stomach of Mustain, Arkansas hired Bobby Petrino and his pro style offense to lead the program into the new season. His odds of starting in 2008 would have been greater with the old team than it is with the new.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DOH-mer Of The Week- Pin Cushion Performances


Once upon a time, I admired baseball’s Paul Lo Duca. He was the heart and soul of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the spark plug that brought energy to the team. He was our Major League All Star, and I was shocked and angered when he was traded to the Florida Marlins . He’s been well traveled since wearing that Dodger Blue, also spending time in New York and Washington. And even after his name appeared on the Mitchell Report, I respected the man for not denying the use of human growth hormones, and apologizing for breaking the rules.

But I've suddenly lost respect for him, as he resorted to giving one of the more popular responses used by players that have been caught. Lo Duca says it was hard work that made him an All Star, and that he was not assisted by the “performance” enhancing drugs. And you know, every time I hear this answer, I think to myself…”Then why use them?!

Did Bonds and Sheffield use the “magic lotion” to promote healthier looking skin that glistened in the sunlight? Clemens wasn't a doper. He was a cutter, sticker, poker or whatever you want to call him, using the needle as an emotional release. Maybe Marion Jones wasn't injecting to improve speed on the track, but told that the growth hormones would either reduce the size of her cuspids over time or increase the size of her other teeth, making her grill more uniformed. There are plenty of excuses that can be made for steroid use as a necessity outside of sports enhancement, but you really can't explain the severe decline in performance once an athlete is busted.

It’s understandable that some players resort to the use of banned substances to speed up the rehabilitation of injuries, though it’s still an outlawed act. But according to the Mitchell report, a healthy Paul Lo Duca purchased the supplements less than five weeks before the Dodgers traded him to the Florida Marlins. He made another purchase 8 days after he joined the Florida team. How is this fact and not allegation? The DOH’mer made the purchases using checks in his name, as did many other jackasses of Major League Baseball.

I see no reason to use the drugs, if they don’t improve athletic performance. And what I also see is a DOH’mer named Paul Lo Duca, barely called up from the “MINOR LEAGUES”, trying to tell the public that his All Star status was a product of raw ability alone. The Mitchell report surfaces, and the one time All Star suddenly descends to the lower levels of the game. It’s pretty much the same as the quick decline of former league MVP Jason Giambi, after allegations of steroid usage began to swirl. What happened to some of the others on the Mitchell Report that were getting by on “raw talent”? Eric Gagne is another example. Now he's just a closer. But as a user, he was God. The before and after pictures show difference, and several studies have been conducted to solidify this fact. But I don’t need charts and figures to evaluate Paul Lo Duca. All I need are my eyes to see him sitting in a minor league dugout, while making claims that he didn’t need any physical aid.

The worst part of this is all the speculation that swarmed before the report was made public. Who was lying? Who was telling the truth? In the end, it appears only one man was truthful, though we all tagged him as a clown, and that man was Jose Canseco. And knowing this now, it has to make you wonder. Because though there is currently no direct link or paper trail that has surfaced, one name Canseco continues to throw out there is “Alex Rodriguez”.

... Is Jose still a liar?

Bruins have a message for Los Angeles…and actually paid for it


The Trojans have some upcoming business to handle in Virginia, but apparently the rivals across town are already focused on a game in December. Yes, above is an ad run in today's Los Angeles Times, which seems to be Rick Neuheisel and his gutty little Bruins sounding their arrival, as if they've retaken the City.

First of all, congratulations for admitting that USC has dominated this town, and you’ve spent years playing the role of the ugly step-sister. Secondly, Norm Chow won’t make a single pass, Dwayne Walker won’t make a tackle, and Rick Neuheisel won’t use his foot to boot any game winning field goals. Great coaching staff, but same players from last year, so I’d say the ad is premature. And finally, be bigger and stronger before you decide to stand up to the bully. Until then, just continue to hand over your lunch money. You know the routine.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Final count, 21 medals, Goodbye Beijing

The 2008 summer Olympic Games are over, and the final tally is in. Of 41 athletes representing the University of Southern California, collectively they gathered 21 medals. Only the games of 1984 had a higher output (24). The order of medals goes as follows:

Gold-9 Silver-10 Bronze-2

The 21 medals would rank the Trojans 13th in the world, if they were a country. It gives the men and woman of Troy more medals than the larger Spain (18), Canada (18), Brazil (15), and Netherlands (16). The Lone medal performance for the country of Tunisia was achieved by Trojan Ouis Mellouli. The 9 overall gold medals would place USC in a tie for 8th best in the world. The Trojans also topped all colleges, with Texas and Florida picking up 14 medals each, and Michigan earning 12. Of Michigan’s total of 12, Michael Phelps swam for 8.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

From The Horse’s Mouth: Week 1 Spotlight games


The long grueling wait is finally over, and instead of asking questions, debating futures, and embarking on conference war discussions, we can finally receive some answers on the field. Typical of the opening week, there’s a plethora of wood-shed whackings scheduled. But if you sift through those games played for a program’s monetary gains, you’ll find a couple of intriguing matches that can quickly rattle the preseason rankings and affect the title chase.


(24) Alabama at (9) Clemson

The Horse’s must see rating: 10

Quickie: Nick Saban has won his share of big games, and finds himself opening as an underdog on the road. Tommy Bowden’s Tigers now have a top 10 ranking, but can he strip his title of “choke” artist?

Tigers: Cullen Harper returns to build on his national notoriety. The Clemson QB led the team to a 9-4 record in 2007, completing 65% of his passes, while throwing for 2,991, 27 TDs, and only 10 picks. He’s joined by his thunder and lightning backfield of C.J. Spiller and James Davis, which combined for 1,832 yards and 13 scores. Davis nearly entered April’s draft, but his decision brings his 5 yard per carry average back to school. Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham will be the receiving targets of Harper, with the speedster Jacoby Ford rejoining the group after suffering a broken ankle last November. If there’s an offensive weakness, it would be a line that only returns Thomas Austin at center.

Seven Starters return on the Clemson defense, but the unit lost all 3 starting linebackers, which are the key pieces to any defense. Another blow is on the defensive line, in losing the senior leadership of Rashaad Jackson for at least half the season.

Tide: Alabama’s bowl victory over Colorado pushed the program over .500 (7-6) in 2007. Now ready to begin his second year, Nick Saban brings back John Parker Wilson, the Tide’s single season passing leader in yards (2,707) and touchdowns (17). But despite the 2007 achievement, Wilson still ranked 92nd in the nation in passing efficiency. If the tide is looking to build on Saban’s first year, the first step will be reducing the number of mistakes made by Wilson. Legging it out will be returning starter Terry Grant, who ran for 891 and 8 TDs last year. They’ve lost some depth at receiver, including D.J. Hall, but Bama welcomes highly touted freshman Julio Jones. The Tide shows strength up front, with top NFL draft prospect Andre Smith, and the return of Antoine Caldwell, who decided against early entry into the 2008 draft.

On the defensive side, Rashard Johnson led the team with 6 interceptions a year ago, but the secondary remains questionable. Javier Arenas will try to establish himself as a true cornerback and strip the label of being a primary special teams player. At 5’9, expect him to be picked on in matchups against Clemson’s bigger receivers.

Xtra Points: Tommy Bowden is in a position to prove his worth. On the other hand, Saban can improve on his football genius by pulling a victory, despite using an “average at best defense” against one of the nation’s top offenses. The Tide should look to control the tempo early, which could leave them positioned for a fantastic finish.

All Time Series: Bama leads 11-2
Streak: Bama has won 11 straight


(20) Illinois at (6) Missouri

The Horse’s must see rating: 10

Quickie: If you’re Mizzou, you’re proud of your past year’s achievements, but also angry. Finishing 12-2, and beating Kansas and Illinois, the Tigers were BCS bowl snubs, with the defeated Jayhawks and Illini receiving the BCS prizes. If you’re Illinois, you’re probably not feeling like you claimed any reward, after being rocked by USC in the Rose Bowl. Both teams enter 2008 with more to prove.

Tigers: Heisman finalist Chase Daniel leads his squad into 2008, after appearing out of nowhere in ’07. Daniel threw for over 300 yards in 8 games last season, and recorded a season total of 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His favorite target, WR Jeremy Maclin is the Tigers’ do-it-all version of Florida’s Percy Harvin, with 2,800 all purpose yards and 16 TDs in 2007. The only question for the offense would be the replacement of running back Tony Temple, but Temple was often injured and didn’t get much significant play last season. Carrying the load will be Jimmy Jackson and Derrick Washington, who should get good looks with the Tigers spreading defenses.

Mizzou's defense isn't spectacular, but manage to get the job done. Defensive stars would include LB Sean Witherspoon and CB William Moore, but this is a unit that failed to put the clamps on the Sooners twice last year, amounting to the Tigers’ only two losses, and costing them the Big 12 title and a BCS bowl bid.

Illini: Juice Williams became a household name, and he’ll have to play bigger than ever in 2008. Lost from the Illini production is running back Rashard Mendenhall and his nearly 1700 rushing yards and 17 TDs. He’s being replaced (if there is such a thing) by Daniel Dufrane (6.7 yard average on 43 carries in ’07), but there isn’t much optimism. In the Spring game, Illini runners rushed for -11 yards, and they remain a work in progress. Illinois led the Big 10 in rushing last year, with QB Juice Williams chipping in 755 yards of that total. If they plan on making any noise, they’ll have to improve on his 1,743 passing yards, which is easier said than done, if you have no running attack.

The Defensive line is the strength of the Illini, returning 3 starters and 8 players rotated into those positions last year. The ends alone accounted for 21.5 sacks, with Will Davis providing 12.5 tackles for loss. A capable secondary adds support, featuring Thorpe award semifinalist Vontae Davis. Combined with Dere Hicks and Miami Thomas, the trio collected 7 interceptions in 2007.

Xtra Points: This year’s venue changes in Missouri’s favor, and unfavorable changes appear on the Illinois roster. The entire outlook appears as “different year, same result”, with a more experienced and fine tuned Tigers team again staring at victory.

All Time Series: Mizzou leads 14-7
Streak: Mizzou has won 3 straight

NOTABLES

Applachian State at (7) LSU: Can lightning strike twice? Division I-aa champions meet Division I champions in Baton Rouge. After the shocker in Ann Arbor last year, the Mountaineers will enter with confidence. Appy State QB Armanti Edwards begins his campaign for the Heisman Trophy.

(18) Tennessee at UCLA: For the Vols, a return to California is a return to the scene of the crime, after the opening debacle against Cal last year. UCLA may have a coaching dream team, but don’t have a roster to do much with them. They’ll start a QB with little preparation, and this one can get ugly in a hurry. Many early projections show UCLA as a 5-7 team at best, and if Fulmer manages to somehow lose to these unprepared early season Bruins, he should be forced to walk back to Knoxville.

Washington at (21) Oregon: Psst! For all of you outside of the Western time zone, this is a rivalry game. The two programs hate each other.

Kentucky at Louisville: Speaking of hate…state bragging rights are on the line. Need I say more?

Utah at Michigan: Your first glance at the Rodriguez Wolverines. Don’t sleep on the Utes. They have a nice squad. I wonder who the people in West Virginia will be rooting for?

(3) USC at Virginia: The Trojans have played in 34 states, and also played in Japan. This will be their first game ever in the State of Virginia. Preview Here

UC Davis at San Jose State: Yes, I’m kidding!

I wish you all a happy and Safe Labor Day weekend. Enjoy the games.

Preview: USC at Virginia


Quickie: This was a scheduling masterpiece. Then it quickly took on the appearance of a lopsided game, before injuries at USC morphed it back to an “anything can happen” affair.

Hoos: Al Groh was named the 2007 ACC coach of the year, winning ugly and recording a 9-4 season record. The secret to success was found in the trenches, an area that has now suffered losses. The pass rushing presence of Chris Long is gone, and suspensions, transfers, and academic failures have thinned a roster already in desperate need of replacements. Virginia’s defense allowed them to win 5 games by 2 points or less in 2007, and will desperately need to step up to have a chance in this one.

The offensive unit averaged 24.4 last season, but lacked any true playmakers. Academics have driven QB Jameel Sewell out of football for 2008, leaving behind a battle, with only Peter Lalich having any game time experience. Scott Deke and Mark Verika spent the fall competing for the starting job, and at the time of this publication, Groh has yet to declare a winner. The expectation will be for Lalich to open behind center, but he will have few weapons surrounding him. In terms of yardage, Virginia’s top receiver in 2007 was Tom Santi (418), who is no longer in the program. The leader in receptions was running back Mikell Simpson (43). Those numbers indicate that either the receivers weren't very good or the passing game was strictly conservative to a point of nonexistence.

Trojans: The third ranked Trojans make their first east coast swing since 2004, where they then defeated Virginia Tech 24-13 in the season opener. Pete Carroll appears confident that Mark Sanchez will be their starting quarterback, despite suffering the dislocation of his knee cap less than a month ago. Stafon Johnson is healthy and should receive the bulk of the backfield carries, with a banged up Joe McKnight limited. The receiving corps failed to shine in 2007, with USC also having an exited tight end, Fred Davis, leading the team in receptions. The Achilles heal of this reloaded squad will be along the offense line, where they have just one returning starter. The team made local headlines last week, when the first-team offense managed to score just once in eleven series of scrimmage, but it should be noted that this wasn’t the result of the inexperienced Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain filling in for Sanchez, but caused by the offensive line simply moving in the “wrong direction” on several plays.

Defense will again anchor the Trojans, as it did in 2007. After losing 3 players from the front seven in the first round of the NFL draft, Carroll claims this defensive unit is even better. LB Rey Maualuga leads the charge, but injuries have thinned the position behind him. Fili Moala now receives the opportunity to build on the legacy of Trojan defensive tackles, filling the duties of the departed Sedrick Ellis. Also look for Averell Spicer, Christian Tupou, and Everson Griffen to have an impact. The Trojans are also boasting what many consider to be the best secondary in the nation, highlighted by Junior Safety Taylor Mays.

Xtra Points: Pete Carroll hasn’t lost to an out of conference regular season opponent in nearly 6 years (Kansas State, Sep. ’02). Even with a new starting quarterback and the sudden brush with injury, the defense alone can earn this victory. But as mentioned before, the inexperience along the offensive front could make it interesting. Just think back to the patchwork offensive line that played against Stanford in 2007.

All Time Series: No prior meetings
Streak: N/A

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Leslie wins fourth gold, Felix gets first


It was never in doubt, as it never has been. The U.S. Women’s basketball team again lived up to the expectations, and Lisa Leslie wins her fourth gold medal. Leslie teamed with another Lady Trojan, Tina Thompson, who won her third Olympic gold.

No team in the world has displayed more dominance than the American lady’s of hoops. If international players are slowly creeping up on our men, the Women’s Olympic dynasty shows the gap remains wide between themselves and the world. Australia again became the victim, losing the gold medal round by a score of 92-65. The Aussie’s are now the 3 time runner-ups to the stars and stripes, as the U. S. Olympic win streak is extended to 33 games.

Allyson Felix finally grabs gold. Felix ran the second leg of the women’s 4x1600 meter relay, sprinting past the Jamaica leader, and passing the baton to teammates that completed the golden performance. The American time of 3:18.54 is the fastest in the world since 1993. Felix now owns 3 Olympic medals, adding new gold beside 2 silvers earned in the 200-meter events of Athens and Beijing.

Nicole Davis earned a silver medal in Women’s volleyball, after the Americans were defeated by the Brazilians in the final round. At USC, Davis was the libero for the Trojans’ back-to-back NCAA volleyball champions of 2002-2003.

According to the math ‘3 Ducks=1 Dennis Dixon’


In one week the Oregon Ducks will host the Washington Huskies in the 2008 season opener. That leaves the next few days to prepare for your opponent, and Washington’s Ty Willingham would love to know which Ducks quarterback his troops should plan for. Well, according to the Oregon Staff, you better prepare for all three.

Dennis Dixon piloted the Ducks for 9 games and one quarter in 2007. He won 8 of the 9 games he completed, including victories over Michigan, USC, and Arizona State. Immediately following a torn ACL, the Ducks finished the season 1-3 in the final four games without him, and the 16-0 loss to UCLA marked the first time the Ducks were shutout in 22 years. Dixon is now a Pittsburgh Steeler, and if we reflect back on Oregon of last year, it would appear he took the offense with him.

People may forget, but Dixon didn’t begin his Oregon career as the lone quarterback. He slowly developed in the system as part of a QB duo that featured Brady Leaf. Mike Bellotti and offensive coordinator Chip Kelly either plan to revert back to those days of quarterback development, this time using three QBs, or they’re simply blowing smoke.

Nate Costa, Justin Roper and Chris Harper have battled for the starting job, and just 7 days from kickoff, no one has it. At least, the Ducks don’t want others to believe anyone has solidified their claim of the position. Costa also suffered an ACL tear in 2007, and Roper is most recognized for quarterbacking the Ducks to their only victory after the injury to Dixon, which was a 56-21 blowout of South Florida in the Sun Bowl. The freshman Harper is more likely in consideration for his mobility, as the Ducks have also lined him up as running back and wide receiver.

Would Bellotti use three quarterbacks? I wouldn’t put it past him. But despite the QB concerns, there’s another big question. Can Jeremiah Johnson equal the production of former Duck and current Carolina Panther Jonathan Stewart?

Note: Trojan transfer Jamere Holland has been participating in Oregon practices, after sitting out most of the offseason rehabbing from surgery that repaired torn cartilage in his knee. Holland has sprinter’s speed and will most likely see the field as a return man and wide receiver. Holland transferred out of the USC program because he was too low on the receiving depth chart.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Felix sprints to silver; Rodriguez kicks for gold

Allyson Felix, the 2007 world champion in the 200-meter event, ran to a silver medal on Thursday in a time of 21.93. Felix’s time was sandwiched between two Jamaicans, Veronica Campbell-Brown who won gold, and Kerron Stewart who won silver. The Jamaicans continue to display their track and field dominance, now combining with Jamaican men to win all 4 sprint events in Beijing.

Amy Rodriguez goes from NCAA champion to Olympic champion in women’s soccer. The U.S. women’s soccer team defeated Brazil 1-0 in an overtime period to win the gold medal for the third time in four Olympics. With women’s water polo and softball being upset in gold medal rounds on Thursday, the soccer team denied the triplet.

Rodriguez and her Lady Trojans are the defending NCAA soccer champions.

De Bruijn leads Netherlands to golden upset

The U.S. Women’s water polo team had to settle for silver, after being upset 9-8 by the Dutch. Danielle De Bruijn had a dominating performance for her Netherlands team, scoring 7 of their 9 goals, including the game winner with 26 seconds remaining. The Dutch were ranked just No. 9 in the world, and lost two preliminary games in their Olympic run for Gold.

The American silver medalists consists of 5 Lady Trojans, Kami Craig, Patty Cardenas, Brittany Hayes, Moriah Van Norman, and Lauren Wenger, as well as Bernice Orwig, an assistant coach for Team USA. Playing for Hungary, Aniko Pelle, fell short of a medal, with her team falling to Australia in the bronze round and finishing fourth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tasha Danvers leaps to bronze for the Union Jack


Tasha Danvers won bronze in the women’s 400-meter intermediate hurdles event. The Lady Trojan, running for Great Britain, posted a personal best time of 53.84. Danvers, who turns 31 years old next month, received her first Olympic medal, after failing to capture any in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. American Sheena Tosta (UCLA) took the silver, with Jamaica’s Melaine Walker winning gold. Trojans now have 8 individual medals in Beijing, with Allyson Felix set to run in a medal race tomorrow.

Tasha Danvers is a former Pac 10 champion, and national champion in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 2000. She still owns two standing records at USC.

Virginia showing no signs of anything

No one really knows what to expect when the Trojans travel east to play the Virginia cavaliers. But there’s one thing that’s certain, you won’t be seeing any of those clever homemade signs made on poster board that bear disgust for the opponent, praise for the home team, or a message asking mom and dad to send money. The University of Virginia has banned all signs from sporting events.

The school always had rules in place regarding the display and content of those homemade originals, but the decision appears to be based on an incident last year, and a sign that read “Fire Groh”. It fell under the rule of “offensive” and was confiscated from a student. You can say all you want about the opponent, but in the eyes of Virginia, it’s despicable to trample your program's coach. Some feel the ruling tramples on constitutional rights of free speech, but as any student of the law can tell you, as told by the Supreme Court, “freedom of speech is not absolute”.

In other news out of the Old Dominion State, UVa’s defensive coordinator, Bob Pruett, has been linked to Violations at Marshall. It’s funny how I can know what fans aren’t allowed to do during a game and what a coach did 7 years ago, but I still have no idea who Virginia’s quarterback will be tomorrow.

DOH-mer Of The Week- Uneven Bars


To be uneven is to be unbalanced. It is a show of difference between one item and another. It is lopsided, inexact, irregular and unaligned. It is unequal, erratic, and weighted to one side. Uneven is a stanchion of gymnastics, along with the judging of Olympic games. Support for the home banner of stars and stripes may sometimes cast a false illusion of unfairness. But even through the dense fog of patriotism, it is evident when fleecing occurs.

In 2004, a Russian gymnast by the name of Svetlana Khorkina criticized the Olympic judging in Athens, claiming a show of favoritism towards the U.S. She followed up her statement by falling from the uneven bars and landing on her ass. And on a scale of comedic value, I would have given the bitch a “10”. Now I find myself in her position, and prepared to play the whiney bitch role, as 4 years later we move across the world.

Beijing is revisited, and this focus is on women’s (little girls) gymnastics. Here we’ll see athletes that have been training from the youngest of ages, sacrificing youth in search of perfection. We’ll then see them compete in an event where the score of “10” is nonexistent, letting each know they are less than perfect. Olympic Games are supposed to be free of politics, yet too often it’s politics deciding the order on a medal stand. And though champions are determined by a subjective judging system, the IOC should do a better job of masking favoritism and having it not appear so blatant.

The puberty of America finished with 8 medals, edging the Chinese toddlers by 2. But I believe it was “home cooking” that even made it close, unfairly awarding greater points for lesser Chinese routines. Drawing this conclusion was easy, as I watched judges hesitate to post scores. The wait should never be lengthy, when determining the individual score for one performance. The long pause between end of performance and the posting of an actual score can only occur if you take the time to compare other scores to determine just how much needs to be given to boost one girl above another or allow another girl to fall. It moved to a new level of embarrassment, as the crowd grew restless, and an IOC official had to approach the judges to inquire about the delay in posting a score for America’s Nastia Lukin. The fix was on, and Lukin was robbed. And the thievery wouldn’t end, as Lukin drew a tie for first on uneven bars, but receives a silver medal, based on a rare tie-breaking rule used by the IOC, despite the better performance. Yes, that’s my subjective take. Her performance was “better”.

There is no true measure to determine the greatness of a performance, when the system is based on opinions. It isn’t opinion that Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. It’s factual, based on head to head competition on a track. But gymnasts don’t race to the end of a beam, launch themselves higher on a vault or swing faster on bars. It’s all based on who likes you and who does not. But as subjective as it may be, the IOC has allowed unfairness to be more obvious, unlike the subjective voting of college football’s BCS or beauty pageants, that will at least cloud the favoritism behind a screen of smoke. Women’s gymnastics in the Summer and women’s figure skating in the winter. Two popular Olympic events, and two events swirling with more controversy than any other. Let’s go back to the days of just holding up a scorecard, when it all "appeared" to be fair. Scores were immediate, and leader boards changed just as quickly. The more you allow judges to prolong their decisions, the more focus will appear on that eventual score, sending ripples of scam throughout the world. This is something that hasn’t been fixed, and has been improperly addressed with new scoring methods. And for this, my DOH-mer belongs to the IOC. They can now go ahead and thank all the little people (judges) that made this possible. Just don't thank God or mention Jesus Christ, unless you want to be deported from the country before the games are complete.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sanchez may be ready, but should he play?


Quarterback Mark Sanchez is showing signs of progression, following the dislocation of his knee cap, an injury suffered two weeks ago. USC’s No. 1 is dropping back in drills and throwing the ball, which is a great sign. Both he and his coaches remain optimistic that he'll be able to open on August 30th against Virginia.

But even with optimism, a “just-in-case” quarterback battle rolls on. Mitch Mustain still appears to have the bigger arm than his challenger, but Aaron Corp is more mobile. If I had to give a slight edge, which would be by the thinnest of margins, I would put Mustain in the lead. One big advantage Mitch has over sophomore Corp is familiarity with Trojans receiver Damien Williams, another transfer from Arkansas. Williams has emerged as a sure handed playmaker in the Trojan offense, and would be a favorite target of his former Hogs hurler.

But a question still lingers about opening day, and an eventual choice of quarterback. Even if Sanchez is ready to go, should Pete Carroll play him? Not that I’m looking to diminish the power of the Virginia Cavaliers, but Mark Sanchez playing with his health less than 100% is likely to play in a downscaled conservative offense. Be it Corp or Mustain, still familiarizing themselves with the first unit, a conservative approach is again likely. Maybe it would be best to continue to rest Sanchez than to throw him in on opening day, putting him in a position to take a shot in that sore knee.

Sanchez admits the knee still hurts. Virginia appears in a little less than two weeks, followed by a bye, and then the meeting with Ohio State. If the Trojans take the field against Virginia without Sanchez, and find themselves marching to victory, it gives Mark nearly a month of healing without absorbing hits. If the offense is struggling under another starting QB, only then would I play him in the opener. The best long term decision would be to sideline your No. 1 and see how your No. 2 can perform. That was a mistake made in last year’s loss to Stanford, when the coaching staff chose to stay with an injured Booty (broken finger) instead of playing the healthy Sanchez.

Poll Sitting: My annual rip at the AP


The first sports article I ever wrote came after the Michigan meltdown to Appalachian State. I ripped the AP for insinuating the general public was stupid. I ripped them for telling us that Michigan was such a bad team that they fell from the top 5 in the country and completely off the chart, while also telling us Appy State was good enough to receive votes. It was contradiction. Either one was really good or the other really bad. The Wolverines plummet did not justify both. And of course, 21 days later, the Mountaineers lost to Wofford, and made complete asses of those giving them votes.

Now here I am again, ready to start a new season. And following up last year, why not start off with taking another stab at the Associated Press? How can I not, when they continue (along with others) to release power polls before a single game is played? In the 58 years of the AP’s presentation of preseason polls, only twice has their top choice gone wire to wire and claimed a national championship (FSU ’99, Southern Cal ’04). If you aren’t doing the math, that’s 56 years of being wrong. Now they deliver another one hot off the presses, and again I shake my head.

Unless the votes were in months ago and ready for publication, I don’t see how anyone today, at this time, and at this second, could rank Georgia (1), USC (3), and Florida (6) so high. These three programs have been hit hard in the Fall, but somehow despite the injuries and suspensions they’ve managed to maintain full power. The more likely scenario is those teams dropping and creeping back up as players either return or youth is proven in gameday performances. Would it not? Does the poll predict a beginning or ending position? The beginning shows weakened programs, and how can you guess an ending, with so much uncertainty of the opening rosters?

I’m a fan of the Pac 10, but come on! As a whole, 80% of the conference received votes. How the hell did the Washington Huskies receive any votes? Can someone point out an offseason acquisition that suddenly boosted Washington among the nation’s elite? Washington State and Stanford are the only two Pac programs that didn’t receive votes. Is Jake Locker such a difference maker that the gap between his program and the others is that great? Wazzu and Stanford won 3 games each in the Pac 10 last season. Washington won 2.

With the Omission of Washington State and Stanford, coupled with the Pac 10 round robin format, 10 of Southern Cal’s 12 upcoming opponents received votes from the AP. Virginia and Notre Dame also received votes. I’m sure if you compared that to another hated item (preseason strength of schedule rankings) there would be no match. It wouldn’t be a matter of guessing which is right or wrong, because neither has a true formula to determine anything, because no games have been played. As far as I’m concerned, both are incorrect, unless they’re falling under the category of “discussion generating material”.

I’m obviously not a fan of fortune tellers and psychics, but I’d like to see a time where others would follow along with the Harris voters and submit their “guesses” later in the season rather than before it begins. But if they did that, how the hell would they sell magazines, fill holes in broadcasts, and lay text in empty white areas of college football sectionals? After all, I just used the poll as a filler, didn’t I?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Matt Cassel to the Cowboys?


After spending his college career backing up Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, and then thrust into a position to back up New England’s Tom Brady, Matt Cassel may possibly be on the move again. The situation in New England has changed. Matt Guitterez is impressive, a third-round pick was invested in rookie Kevin O’Connell, and Cassel is in the final year of his contract, which would allow him to walk in 2009.

According to Adam Shefter of the NFL Network, likely destinations for Cassel may be the Cowboys or Giants. New England may dangle the trade bait, looking to be compensated with a late round pick. Quarterbacks that may soon be on the market for back up roles may be Tampa’s Chris Simms and Miami’s John Beck, which would generate more interest than the seldom played Cassel. Schefter reports that the Dallas Cowboys have already offered a second-round pick for Beck, which is considerably high. They could probably pick up Cassel for a 6th or 7th rounder.

Cassel started no games as a Trojans quarterback, and spent some time playing tight end. He was developed under quarterback guru Norm Chow, and was believed to be the heir to Carson Palmer, until Matt Leinart made a push and won the job in 2003. Despite never starting under center, the New England Patriots drafted Cassel in the 7th round of the 2005 draft. He immediately secured the No. 2 spot, and held the role for 3 seasons.

Another injury for Joe McKnight

Well, it isn’t the swarm of locusts as foreseen, but nonetheless, another key player is knocked out of import practice sessions. How bad has the offseason been for sophomore running back Joe McKnight? Academic issues knocked him out in the Spring, he struggled with an ankle, he was a victim of jock itch irritation, and had 2 fingers slammed in a dorm door. It’s not over. Let’s open the first aid kit again, and put Joe’s arm in a sling, after suffering a hyperextended elbow in Saturday’s scrimmage.

The McKnight news isn’t as bad as many may believe. If it’s one thing the Trojans have it’s plenty of legs to run the ball. A bright spot is offensive lineman Alex Parsons returning to practice. The sooner those bodies return up front and begin to mesh, the better for the offense.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Is it the equipment or the athlete?


Michael Phelps is the star of the 2008 Summer Olympics, as should be. Picking up 8 gold medals, and doing it seven times at a world record pace, he has more than reached celebrity status, and elevated to “sports explosion”. But honestly, how much of his recent achievement can be credited to the athlete, and how much should we credit his equipment? Not that I’m trying to burst anyone’s Phelps swimming bubble, but it’s definitely food for thought.

Phelps today reflected back on the events in Beijing. The 200-meter butterfly was the only collected medal that didn’t come in world record time, and he feels a wardrobe malfunction kept him from being a perfect 8 for 8. But if we’re talking about equipment, and goggles collecting water slowing his pace, then what of the new no-drag swimsuits provided by Speedo? Without a doubt, I believe if the suits didn’t exist, Phelps would still out-swim the world’s best. But if not for the suits, could it be done in record time, and 7 times? In many of the events, though Phelps set new world records, the second and third place finishers were also above the old marks. Either the world’s athletes dramatically increased their water speed or we can give Speedo an assist.

Technology has come a long way since Mark Spitz swam to 7 gold medals in Munich. Strength and conditioning has become a science. There’s more focus on diet, as well as modern machinery used to pinpoint and exercise the necessary muscles to build an Olympic swimming champion. The use of performance enhancing drugs is forbidden. The use of performance enhancing equipment is welcomed. I can see the difference in the two, and understand that one poses a health risk. But when it comes to fairness, why isn’t there more emphasis on the equipment available to athletes today in comparison to athletes of the past? Sentences will begin with “Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time…”, and I find myself waiting for the “but”. “BUT he’s not breaking these records on skill and athleticism alone", is how the sentence should be completed. In the sport of swimming, 1/100th of a second means so much. In the fashion of swimming, the new no-drag Speedo suit is designed to trim hundredths of a second from swimming times.

If Major League baseball approved the use of aluminum bats for the 2009 season, and sluggers blasted 80+ homeruns, there would be no hesitation to mention the difference in the equipment being used by the modern slugger and a Babe Ruth or Henry Aaron. They would probably call it 80 homeruns in the “aluminum era”. Why is it different for swimming? In the first Greek Olympics, the athletes performed naked. As years went by, they added clothing, some bulky, not wind resistant on tracks, and probably absorbed so much water in a pool that it’s a miracle no one sank to the bottom. Then technology arrives and clothing becomes lighter and specifically designed to add speed to each sport. I don’t believe you can mention the amount of world records broken in the pool of the Beijing "water cube" without giving a mention to the changes in equipment. To me, it lessens the efforts and achievements of past swimmers that performed at a championship level, while possessing less technology to alter speeds.

This isn't a shot at Phelps, as he is very deserving. This is a shout to past record holders, that are no less.

Singing Gold to a different tune


Ouis Mellouli finally has his moment in the sun. Already holding four USC swimming records, Mellouli now adds Olympic gold. Representing his native Tunisia, he brings home the nation’s first ever gold medal in swimming, winning the 1500-meter freestyle. He also became the first to defeat Australia’s Grant Hackett, who owned the event for the past 11 years.

Swimming for the Trojans, Mellouli was an 11 time All-American and 5 time Pac 10 champion. His gold medal time of 14:40.84 is an African record, and second fastest ever in the event.

Rebecca Soni took another shot at gold in the Women’s 4x100 medley relay, but the American’s came up short, and she adds another silver medal to her Beijing collection.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Just waiting for the locust to arrive


Fall practice isn’t what it was expected to be. Instead of fine tuning all units for regular season play, the Trojans have faced one plague after another. What began with offensive lineman Jeff Byers missing the entire fall practice with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, became quarterback Mark Sanchez and a collapsing leg that made him resemble a transformer. Now it’s moved on to running back Joe McKnight, who had two fingers mangled in a dorm room door accident. And let’s not forget 25% of the USC football roster suffering from tinea cruris, better known as “jock itch” or “balls afire”. This irritation is a likely result of new compression shorts being worn by Trojans this fall, but the series of events leave me wondering when the locust will arrive, and how many plagues still remain.

Joe McKnight taped his fingers and continued to practice, and the word from camp is that Mark Sanchez may possibly return as early as next week. Sanchez is walking without a limp and wearing a smaller brace on his knee. Jeff Byers is finally practicing for the first time this Fall.

It was big news when Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain battled for the starting QB gig, and during scrimmage the Trojans offense managed to score just once. But don’t be so quick to fault the young hurlers for it. The problem was along the offensive front, where the line surrendered 4 sacks in the 11 offensive series, and on many plays simply went the wrong way. Carroll continues to stress the Trojans offensive line as the biggest concern going into the 2008 season.

Defensive End Everson Griffen is disgruntled. The Trojans coaching staff challenged him to overcome his injury and return to practice. Everson had been sitting out with a bad hamstring, and accepting the challenge, it was reaggrevated. The USC coaching staff and Trojan teammates say Griffen, one of the top defensive line prospects of the 2007 class, displays cockiness, but his play is inconsistent. Griffen is currently splitting time with converted linebacker Clay Matthews who now plays defensive end.

Can’t Hook’em Here

Tuesday scrimmage was a rare occurrence, where it was closed to the general public and only open to family members. Spotted in the coliseum was Texas coach, and college baseball legend, Augie Garrido. Garrido, who also coached at nearby Cal State Fullerton, didn’t think it would be a problem to sit in. But just as quickly as Augie was spotted, is as quickly as he was thrown out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Soni wins Gold in world record time!


The most unlikely person to medal for the U.S. swim team now adds a gold medal to sit beside her silver. USC's Rebecca Soni is a replacement swimmer that has made the most of her opportunities in Beijing. After narrowly missing out on a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke, she claimed the silver by the smallest of margins. For someone who wasn't supposed to be here, that medal alone could have made the trip successful and worthwhile. But not for Soni, who last night, in the spirit of Troy, continued to "fight on", swimming to a gold medal in the 200-meter breatstroke in a world record time of 2:20:.22, and upsetting the Australian favorite, and now former world record holder, Leisel Jones.

Both women shot out quickly, swimming above the world record pace. Jones secured the early lead, seeming to pull away from Soni, but never more than half a body length. Going into the final turn, Soni surged forward, catching the Aussie in the last 25 meters and completing the upset. A women that could have easily found herself watching the Olympics from home, suddenly found herself on the medal podium for the second time. But in this instance, she stood atop, as her national anthem played.

Where Michael Phelps is the biggest story of Olympic swimming, Rebecca Soni represents the biggest underdog story, and this dog had some bite.

Fight On!

Bush and Leinart sidelined


All indications out of New Orleans are that Reggie Bush will not participate in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Houston Texans. Bush missed two practices this week with swelling in his surgically repaired knee. An MRI revealed no damage, but as a precaution, the Saints will likely continue to give the knee rest rather than take chances. It’s the same knee that sidelined Bush in 2007, but up until this point had given him no problems running full speed in all practice sessions. The Saints’ other knee, Deuce McCallister, will make his preseason debut.

Sedrick Ellis is questionable for Saturday’s game, nursing a sore ankle. Coach Payton, along with Saints players have been singing praises about the rookie from USC. "He has a non-stop motor, looks like the kind of guy who'll be a good friend of the linebackers, just by making their job easier by keeping the offensive linemen occupied", said Linebacker Scott Fujita. New Orleans guard Jamar Nesbit gave his own take. "Sedrick reminds me of someone who could play the game like a Warren Sapp or a Booger McFarland, who played at LSU. Sure, the quickness is there, but I also like the way he uses his hands and the way his hips and feet work in unison. I think it helped having someone who coached in the NFL (Pete Carroll) as his college coach. He's still got plenty to learn, but the way he seems to be soaking up the mental part makes me believe that won't be a problem. I'll be surprised if he doesn't turn out to be a problem for the offense."

The Arizona Cardinals announced that Kurt Warner is the likely starter against the Chiefs on Saturday. Warner, who obviously looked upset about holding a clipboard in the first preaseason game, will have an opportunity to shine against a poor Kansas City secondary, and a team that traded their sack leader to Minnesota. Matt Leinart should have plenty of opportunities in the second half, but let's just give Warner an "A" now.

Drew Radovich suffered a separated shoulder in the Vikings preseason opener last week, and shouldn't make a return until sometime next week. Drew said he's regaining his range of motion and no longer wearing a sling.

James: ‘I’d shoot my athletic director if he did that’


Legendary Washington coach Don James didn’t hold back on any thoughts about the state of the Huskies program and their out of conference scheduling. Washington has never been known to shy away from big name opponents, and James believes their current circumstance should change that. In reference to the scheduling, "I don't like it at all," he said. James is reflecting on Washington's current out of conference schedule that features Notre Dame, BYU, and Oklahoma, with each being on the road. He went on to say, "I'd shoot my athletic director if I had that."

James coached Washington to the National Championship in 1991 and isn’t in fear of strong opponents, but doesn’t feel it’s right for a young rebuilding program to play and embarrass themselves against college football’s heavyweights. It doesn't help that the crippled Huskies are scheduled to play defending National Champs LSU in 2009.

The old coach sees promise for the future, with talent improving, but the team is still young. These youthful Huskies finished at the bottom of the Pac last year and will now play 5 opponents ranked in the top 25 of the USA Today’s coaches poll. This comes after finishing the 2007 season having played 6 programs from the final poll, 3 conference champions, and 3 BCS bowl teams. The Huskies last played a bowl game in 2002. Since then, Washington is a dismal 18-41. Since 2002 and into the 2008 season, their out of conference opponents will have included:

Michigan
Ohio State (twice)
Notre Dame (three times)
Fresno State (twice)
Oklahoma (twice)
Syracuse
Boise State
Hawaii
BYU

In the Pac 10 round robin format, they also cannot dodge the powers in conference, in any given year. It takes 6 victories to become bowl eligible, but with few bowl tie-ins, a more realistic number for conference teams would be 7. To start your season with 5 ranked opponents on the schedule, and your team is a young conference doormat, to receive a bowl bid you would need to go undefeated against the remaining 7, which is highly improbable for this Washington team.

James has a point, when it comes to the scheduling for a team rebuilding. There are power programs out there that have scheduled less out of conference. But what James also needs to understand is that the high profile games are the ones that attract recruits. Recruiting is the force behind rebuilding, and recent years have shown improvement in the Washington recruiting class. Don’t credit that to the little guys they’ve played. Credit the exposure gained in meetings against the more traditional powers.

The strength of the 90s programs came from the inability of California school’s to keep their recruits at home and out of the Pacific Northwest. Those times have changed, with Carroll, Tedford, and now Neuheisel securing that in-state talent. It’s not coincidence that the most traveled SEC program to the west coast is Tennessee. It’s not that the Vols love California and the west coast, it’s that they want a piece of it. No program spends more money on recruiting than the Volunteers, and their west coast trips paid off over the years, with 2 Clausens (Rick and Casey) and Erik Ainge all hailing from the region. It’s the same reason USC will schedule any team in any region of the country, receiving payoffs with commitments from Dwayne Jarrett and Brian Cushing (NJ), Keith Rivers (Fla), Joe McKnight and John David Booty (LA), Lendale White (CO), Patrick Turner (Tenn), and Fred Davis (OH).

It's literally a no win situation for the Huskies. Losses will accumulate with that kind of scheduling, but patience may eventually pay off. The losses on the field don't translate to losses in finances. And as poor as the football program has performed, Forbe's still ranked the University of Washington the 16th wealthiest program in the country, and their profits of $19.9 million exceed the $13 million generated by 14th ranked USC.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic streak remains golden

Millions of viewers tuned in and watched Michael Phelps continue his historic Olympic run in the 4x200 freestyle, as the Americans claimed another swimming gold, and shattered the world record in doing so. But some may not have seen or forgot the qualifying round of the event. In the 4x200 qualifying round, the team consisted of Trojans Erik Vendt and Klete Keller, where they established then an Olympic record time and the U.S. team advanced to the finals. Neither man swam in the finals, but both also received gold medals for their team participation.

Their efforts kept a Trojan Olympic streak alive, as USC athletes have now captured gold in every Olympiad (where the U.S participated) since 1912. The Trojans made their first Olympic appearance in 1904, and since then, 385 athletes with USC affiliation have competed, which is more than any other University. The current count is 114 golds, 67 silvers, and 57 bronzes.

It’s early, and the streak was never in doubt, unless the world could possibly find a way to upend and upset Lady Trojan Lisa Leslie and the U.S Women’s hoops squad. Potential gold medals can also be achieved in track and field and water polo. Rebecca Soni, already a bronze winner in Beijing, has an opportunity to claim a gold medal tonight, after setting a new Olympic record in the qualifying heat of the 200-meter breaststroke.

DOH-mer Of The Week- Proud as a P’Cock


I’d like to begin this by saying, due to the blatant censorship by the Chinese government, as much as I’d like to give a DOH-mer to Chinese rower Zhiang Liang for showing up at the wrong location and at the wrong time, which cost the Chinese two medals, I can’t. Apparently we aren’t allowed to dishonor their countrymen or their nation. Well, at least not until the Olympics are over…I don't understand why we can't show China for what it is or why Chris Collinsworth is an Olympic analyst. I'm irked by both.

Despite the censorship, NBC is cashing in on Beijing. Ratings are soaring, as they play the role of puppet. Events are aired worldwide, and they continue to focus on the beauty and hospitality of China. It doesn’t matter that an American tourist was killed over the weekend, because by Tuesday it was all hushed. On with the beautification, despite the tragedy of an obvious targeted killing. On any other day, let's criticize China for their lack of freedoms, history of cover ups, and bad politics. But when there’s money to be made, and for two weeks of the summer, let us then become China.

China is noted for the manufacturing and display of fireworks. Knowing this, they give us fake pyrotechnics during the opening ceremonies, which NBC airs as a real occurrence. For purposes of dramatics, along with keeping the American public watching and waiting, Did NBC also alter the order of countries in the opening parade, pushing the United States back, and bringing others forward? Since the countries enter in alphabetical order, it would be an obvious alteration. Wouldn’t it? Take a look at the photograph of the two adorable little girls below:



The girl on the left was told she was too ugly to sing at the opening ceremonies. But because of her great voice, the girl on the right (who couldn’t hold a damn note if she wanted to) lip-synched to the words of the first girl, all captured by NBC. Apply a little make-up to each girl, and suddenly they are transformed from 7 year olds and into 16 year old Chinese gymnasts. If the Chinese government says they are 16, and they have official government documents saying they are 16, then you know damn well they are 16. Would the Chinese government ever lie to you?

Moving along, George Bush and Vladimir Putin are suddenly fans of Olympic sports? Are you buying that? NBC is selling it. They’ve captured George Bush everywhere, not once mentioning his true purpose in China. It’s not about Olympiads. It’s about capitalism, and looking to profit from the booming Chinese economy. Say it for what it is, and stop trying to tell me our president traveled half way around the world because he’s a f**king fan of women’s beach volleyball. General Motors sells twice as many automobiles in China than they do in America. The vehicles aren’t even imported. They are manufactured in the country, from their own GM plants. The presence of Bush, Putin, and any other world leaders in Beijing isn’t about sport. It’s about cashing in on a crop that has been growing wild for the past 12 years…and somehow Chris Collinsworth is an Olympic analyst.

And aside from the politics, what about the programming? Don’t put the word “live” in the corner of my screen, when it’s not. I’m not stupid enough to fall for it, seeing that people are blogging about the results before you even air the damn event. And as for my local NBC news, you must think we are all f**king idiots or you’re extremely arrogant, to continue with the annoying announcement that states, “If you don’t want to see the results, then turn your heads from the screen now”. Unless you live in a cave, it’s impossible to not know Olympic results. And to think that you are the only one carrying those results and a simple head turn will keep from spoiling the ending is a joke. This isn’t Government run television. People have other sources of news. You 'cocks control the video feeds, but you don't have results under lock and key. Do you think Michael phelps ignores the scoreboard, and looks over at an NBC employee for the official results? Or better yet, maybe he turns his head, to not spoil the ending.

50 million viewers on the West coast miss out on early events that were purposely scheduled in China to give us something “live”. The east coast can watch the Mens basketball team play live. On the west coast, the games air one hour after the event is complete. More basketball aired today, with the same routine. Why? Who is the DOH-mer that figured people out west wouldn’t get up at 7 in the morning to watch, but somehow they can watch at 10 a.m….from WORK! Wouldn’t it be more logical to air it live, and people can watch as they prepare for work, than to air it tape delayed, at a time of day when the working man can’t watch? Why am I watching synchro diving, while the east coast is watching Phelps go for another gold? Why don’t we get the English translation for anything Bella Karoli has to say? Why is Chris Collinsworth a f**king Olympic analyst?

And finally, on a serious note, the cameras had no problem showing protest against the United States’ occupation of Iraq during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Not only will NBC comply with the Chinese government, by not showing any protests against the nation, but they also avoid any conversations about it. Free press? Not a chance. The media is controlled by ratings, and what can be generated by them. Everyone looks to profit somehow and in someway, but when you willfully strip yourself of one of America’s longstanding freedoms to give “Americans” coverage of “American” athletes, you’re not truly acting as an “American”, are you? NBC has shown that corporate greed is greater than the freedoms Americans have fought and died for. Instead of telling the Chinese to go f**k themselves, the ‘cocks got on their knees and kissed their asses. The pen is mightier than the sword, but even a child knows paper covers rock. Someone is getting their paper...and a DOH-mer to go with it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who needs practice? Not Rivers


It’s supposed to be a slow transition for rookies entering the NFL. The game is faster, athletes better, and playbooks thicker. A quick adjustment is seldom. Adjustment without practice is never. So why was Keith Rivers able to trot across an NFL playing field, line up against an opponent, and excel at his position?

Rivers is fresh off a newly signed contract with the Bengals, meaning his hold out caused him to miss the majority of camp and preparation drills. But still, he played in his first NFL game on Monday night against the Green Bay Packers, leading the team with 7 unassisted tackles.

Work ethic is what separated Rivers from many linebacker prospects across the country. He follows in the footsteps of Lofa Tatupu and Troy Polamalu, who also adjusted quickly to NFL offenses, slowing the game down in nearly an instant. Early on, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis referred to Rivers as a junkie, constantly watching and studying film. Ken Norton Jr. created those film junkies, as the linebackers coach at USC. Rivers benefited by his decision to remain in school for his senior year, and continue to work under Norton’s guidance. His draft stock rose, his skills sharpened, and like a sponge, his brain absorbed the knowledge of he position.

The decision to stay in school, along with the noticeable improvement in Rivers’ game, prompted senior linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing to do the same. The physical tools are there, but they’ll look to better themselves mentally, raising their 2009 draft stock and lengthening the legacy of Trojan linebackers and the NFL.



Fight On!