Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

What are the chances that we see another happy splash like this at the end of this season?

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

How good is this team? No, really.
I imagine that you have some pretty fond memories of last season. The Gamecocks finished 11-2 and beat Nebraska in the Capital One Citrus Bowl, 30-13. First 11 win season in school history, (second double-digit win total overall, more on that later) best final poll ranking ever. Here are some other, um, accolades:
-Wins against Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Clemson in the same season
-Connor Shaw finished second in the SEC in passer rating
-Marcus Lattimore missed the final 6.5 games of the year, yet finished 7th in the SEC in rushing yards
-Went undefeated vs. division opponents
-Beat Clemson for the 3rd year in a row
-Went on a legitimate run *after* losing the returning passer and rusher from the previous season

So, all of these things were great. No, really, they were. Hell, the HBC even gave the team rings (I’m not so sure if that’s the finished product) for their accomplishments. But since I’m supposed to be about perspective, let’s have just a little:
-In the loss to Auburn, the Tigers ran about 238 plays, and the Gamecocks were peeing their pants instead of driving down the field to either tie or take the lead.
-The team got rings for winning, among other things, the Citrus Bowl—which was played in front of about 10,000 empty seats. The Citrus Bowl is still played on New Year’s Day, which is great. But, it’s probably a 3rd tier game at best.
(So maybe it’s hard to really nitpick here. That’s not so bad!)

Anyway, the heights reached last season were dizzying, to say the least. But you have to wonder “Now what?”, right? Is it time to take another step into the rare air of “top five national title contender”, or did South Carolina miss out on taking charge while teams like Florida and Tennessee struggled? Will 11 wins and another 3rd tier (or second tier) bowl game be enough? How quickly would the city burn to the ground if the Gamecocks won the SEC Championship? Will this be a letdown season? What actually qualifies as a “letdown”? Since things could go either way, I’ll yo-yo between signs of a promising season and signs of a letdown. Let’s face it, folks: The “what if” game is really fun!!

Letdown Sign: Breakthrough years are sometimes followed up with breakdown years.
While I may have still been in diapers, I’m sure some of you are quite familiar with the Black Magic season of 1984. At that time, it was the best season EVAR for the Gamecocks. Wins over Georgia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Florida State and Clemson led to a 10-2 record and a birth in the Gator Bowl against Oklahoma State. That next year? Not so awesome. And no, this isn’t just a South Carolina thing:
-Georgia Tech went 11-3 and to the Orange Bowl in 2008, only to go 6-7 in 2009.
-Kansas went 11-1 and won the Orange Bowl in 2007, but fell to 8-5 in 2008.
-Illinois made it to the Sugar Bowl with a 10-2 record in 2001, but fell to 5-7 in 2002.
-Maryland won 31 games (and the ACC once!) from 2001-03, only to go 5-6 in both 2004 and 2005.
-Ole Miss tripped (sorry, Eli) to 10-3 and the Cotton Bowl in 2003, only to go 4-7 in 2004.
(Of course, these are not elite programs in the slightest. Makes for great comparison to the Gamecocks, you guys.)
I understand that South Carolina went 9-5 in 2010, but if you recall how those last two games turned out, 2010 was definitely a breakthrough. Also, take a guess for how many 9 win seasons South Carolina has had in their history. Still guessing? The answer is 3. By comparison, Oklahoma has had 32 ten win seasons. So, yeah—last year was a breakthrough. Unfortunately, history isn’t very kind to that sort of thing.

Next Level Sign: Stability
For the first time in something like 309 years, Steve Spurrier has a quarterback that he’s pleased with. As I noted before, Connor Shaw was second in the conference in pass efficiency. The offense is no longer just a “See how far Marcus runs, pop five or six hemorrhoids, then throw it deep to Alshon Jeffrey” (my unbiased scout’s take). The offense has a foundation of the zone read, and there are capable receivers around to keep the defense from focusing on just one. Instead of going outside to get a defensive coordinator after Ellis Johnson left for Southern Miss, the team promoted Lorenzo Ward. Nothing “feels” different around here. That’s not really a bad thing at all.

Letdown Sign: Injuries
Okay, so injuries happen. And college football teams carry something like 174 players, so if someone gets hurt then the backup comes in and you’re set, no problem. There’s only one problem: It never works out that way. There is a general consensus that Marcus Lattimore is one of the best running backs in the country. Of course, he missed half of last year with a serious knee injury. I say serious knee injury because the school never said what actually happened to his knee. While there’s plenty of reason to think that Lattimore will play great this year, production after a serious knee injury isn’t really an exact science. Also, do you remember that Connor Shaw suffered two concussions last season (against Arkansas and Nebraska)? The more we learn about head injuries, the worse that sounds…right? Don’t let the drafting of Stephon Gilmore fool you, the South Carolina secondary was not awesome last year. Of course, now the team is down one starter in that part of the defense already. Again, injuries happen. But when thy happen to a team expected to actually do well, um…

Next Level Sign: About those expectations…
Sure, South Carolina starts the season ranked in the Top 10. Football Outsiders says the most likely result for the Gamecocks is 8-4. The average projected wins (still through Football Outsiders—they may be nerds, but they’re usually not wrong) is 7.7, which is lowest among any of the other teams ranked in the top 10. The media members who attended SEC’s media days think that Georgia will win the division. (Of course, Andy Staples favors the Gamecocks) From what I’ve seen, Sports Illustrated is the only major publication that has Georgia ranked below South Carolina (I need to renew my subscription!). Of course, since I have “Great Hype Falls Hard” tattooed on my chest, I think this is great news! If South Carolina continues to win, they’ll surely climb the rankings by default (because at least 3 of the teams ahead in the rankings will lose at some point). This “lying in the weeds” status is just the thing to lead to something awesome. And yes, I used the word “awesome”.

Letdown Sign: IT’S SOUTH CAROLINA!
I was going to use the schedule as a letdown factor, but I “knew” that LSU would likely be on the schedule this season, and The Swamp is only intimidating if Florida is actually good (that remains to be seen). As I mentioned before, the Gamecocks had only had three NINE win seasons, ever. Remember the mostly likely scenario I mentioned before? That would be the 11th eight win season ever. I will agree with you if you were to say that this has been a healthy growth for the Gamecocks. But, of course, that’s not the most difficult thing to do when you’re 11 games over .500—-all time. Remember those “successful” basketball teams from the late nineties? Flamed out in the first round. Even the back-to-back champion baseball team went down in a cloud of Asian-American + gigantic strike zone dust to Arizona. This is just guessing, but I believe there are more people who believe in non football forces (karma, the “football gods”, luck, the moon) when rooting for their team(s). Well, that sort of stuff has never really been on the side of the Gamecocks. There’s a certain Cubs/Clippers/Mets/Maple Leafs aura to the Gamecocks that just hasn’t been shaken…ever. Everything is seemingly in place now. Will that matter, though?

Here’s hoping that I’ve worked you up into a nice enough lather in order to read my predictions for every game next season. To be continued.

Breaking news: I’m a little into football. OK, you’ve been warned. You’re welcome!

I thought about doing a blog with my “thoughts” on the past weekend in college football. But, since it’s

Yeah, yeah. Important college football game in September, blah blah blah.

already Wednesday, I’m sure that you’ve taken the time to actually get a recap from “professionals” who are “actually paid to provide opinions on college football.” So, anyway, no “extensive” college football talk this morning.

There’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20 years of watching football: You can’t really predict anything. Sure, there are trends, loads upon loads of statistical data, and that terrible thing called “a gut feeling.” When it comes to picking NFL games, (especially when the spread is involved) you’re likely going to over-think the entire process, which will result in you making ridiculous choices (like taking New Orleans at -6.5. Obviously, you could look at the fact that the home team in the Thursday night opener usually wins, and wins convincingly. But! Did you watch that NFC Championship game? Wait a minute. Here I am, over-thinking).

Since the important thing to remember here is that this is only a game, it’s important to make things fun. Well, what’s more fun than challenging your girlfriend to a pick ’em challenge? Before you go screaming, “That’s not FAIR!” let me give

See, if they had done NFL picks together, Al and Tipper wouldn't be divorcing each other!

you some background:
1. We’ve filled out March Madness brackets three times. I’ve lost all three.
2. On more than one occasion, I’ve lost to my girlfriend in H-O-R-S-E. Yes. Insert “you call yourself a man?” jokes here.
3. When I asked her if she wanted to do NFL picks against me, she laughed and said, “Why do you keep wanting to be emasculated by me?” (OK, she didn’t say that. But she could.)
So, obviously, this is a mismatch. As in, I probably have no shot. But that’s why they play the game! You never know! We’ll go all 17 weeks, with the tiebreaker being a fight in a UFC cage slapping contest (that’s legal in South Carolina, you know). Anyway, here’s a look at our Week One picks:

Background: We’re picking games against the spread. Which means…even if the Vikings lose tomorrow night, as long as the lose by less than 6.5, (which obviously, half points are not possible) I still made the correct call. You can go ahead and pull your hair out so I don’t have to; I’d appreciate it!

(Home teams in CAPS)
-Me: Minnesota, Miami, Detroit, TENNESSEE, NEW ENGLAND, Carolina, (I guess this is the upset special?) Atlanta, Cleveland, JACKSONVILLE, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Green Bay, ST. LOUIS, Dallas, NJ JETS, (yes, you may notice that they play in New Jersey) San Diego.
-The Lady: Minnesota, Miami, CHICAGO, Oakland, Cincinnati, Carolina, PITTSBURGH, Cleveland, JACKSONVILLE, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Green Bay, Arizona, Dallas, NJ JETS, San Diego

We have our picks up on ESPN’s Pick Em page if there is any doubt that we are being honest. I’ll post the picks on an entry before the games are played each week, as if that matter because this could turn out to be quite epic. If you want to see how you stack up against us, you can join by doing one of the following:

-Go to the ESPN Pigskin Pick ‘Em page, search for and join the group “Le Battle Royale!”
-Leave a comment here or e-mail me, (tbfilesblog[at]yahoo.com) and I’ll send you an invite
-Leave a comment each week stating that you got all your picks right. Who am I to try and argue?

So, be on the lookout throughout the season as I finally try to beat my girlfriend at something. Unfortunately, I really mean that.

Football is kind of back!! I’ll try to do a running diary of games here and there. As always, the opinions are only those of the author. Just in case you want to go ahead and disown me. And here we go!

Look at Johnson use the right joystick!

All times Eastern
7:58 pm: You are at the 66.67% ManZone EN VIVO!!! Can someone tell me why in the world we’re actively discussing Matt Leinart’s leadership in the preseason?

8:01 pm: Suzy Kolber was the host of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown. Does this mean…no more Boomer? (Dare to dream)

8:02 pm: John Gruden says that Vince Young has had his best offseason ever. Because, you can measure that, you know.

8:06 pm: Easy football joke: If the Cardinals can be abbreviated to Cards, what can the Titans be shortened to? (Answer below. No, really this time.)

I think Jeff Fisher is practicing his Daddy Stroke.

8:11 pm: Big makeover on the Titans defense. Lots of people you don’t care about old faces (Kearse, Van den Bosch, Bulluck) GONE. Taking their place? Some guys you can find on their depth chart.

8:19 pm: Hmmm, maybe Gruden was right. It looks like Vince Young had a GREAT offseason!

8:25 pm: Hey ESPN, even if you put it under “news,” Tiger and Elin getting a divorce is not news worthy for ESPN’s Bottom Line.

8:27 pm: Not a bad crowd here at Adelphia Coliseum LP Field tonight! The stadium itself actually sits near the river, which is kind of scenic. If…you’re into that stuff, of course.

8:30 pm: Oh snap! Vince Young with the quick throw, and a beauty a nice completion to Nate Washington! Now, the ball was behind him…but, you know. Baby steps.

8:31 pm: Chris Johnson using the stretch play to get into the end zone for a TOUCHDOWN, TITANS. 7-0!

8:32 pm: I think you need to know why Rob Bironas is the coolest kicker in the league.

8:39 pm: I don’t mean to ruin this for you, but if this were a soccer match, we would almost be done with the first half. Alas, it is not—3:52 left in the first quarter.

8:41 pm: Chris Johnson played in 86 percent of the Titans’s plays last year. Yes, that was most in the league. And no, that is not good.

Ladies and gentleman, your #1 fantasy football pick! Yeah, he's a little scary looking.

8:43 pm: I want to say things about the Cardinals, but I think they’ve had the ball for about 45 seconds so far.

8:45 pm: Jeff Fisher throws the challenge flag. Drink!

8:48 pm: OK, so the challenge turned out to be worth the time. Looks like the receiver did make the catch. And no, I don’t remember his name.

8:51 pm: Vince Young has some zip on these passes. Also, hasn’t Bo Scaife been in the league for about 38 years?

8:53 pm: Answer to “question” above: The Titans would be the Tits! Why can’t some announcer make my day and use that name?

8:55 pm: Speaking of…um, tits…I wonder what VY’s pregnant girlfriend feels about him showing out at the strip club?

8:58 pm: Really folks, I’d like to say good things about the Cardinals. Did you know Emmitt Smith used to be a Card?

9:02 pm: Jaws on Derek Anderson: “He can make all the throws. But he needs to develop those touch throws.” Um, what?

9:03 pm: Anderson with the quick throw, and a beauty(!) for 37 yards to, uh, some guy. Take that, Jaws!

9:05 pm: OK, that was way damn behind a little behind the receiver. And yes, Jaws, we know where the ball should have gone. Cards got a field goal out of it, though!

9:10 pm: Jon Gruden says that Kerry Collins can “still throw the football.” Thanks for being a part of the telecast, Chucky!

9:14 pm: Matt Leinart kind of reminds me of watching Stephen Garcia. As in, every throw looks like he’s going number two. (How bout them Gamecocks?!!!??)

9:18 pm: The running theme for this preseason in the NFL: Your team’s offensive line will actually start blocking sometime after Week 3 of the regular season. Don’t hold your breath!

9:21 pm: I would add “anytime an athlete says ‘you know’ in an interview” to the Football Drinking Game…but you may need to have a keg on hand to make it through a game.

9:25 pm: Kurt Warner? The Cardinals would probably take Jeff Blake back at this point.

9:28 pm: Random, yet relevant tweet: NFL: After watching Leinart & Anderson, the Cardinals best chance at offense this season might be to punt on 1st down. (via @EricStangel)

9:30 pm: Kenny Britt of the Tits Titans says that he did not come to camp “ready.” Because, you know, a six figure (at least) salary is not worth being ready for.

9:35 pm: OK, here’s another random, yet relevant tweet to take us home. Before people get all freaked out, remember that Arizona was 0-4, outscored 100-53 in last year’s preseason. Won division anyway. (via @FO_ASchatz)

9:41 pm: And, that does it for the first half of tonight’s game! The score: Tits 10, Cards 3. Not very sure if you’ll be getting a second half, folks. The preseason is rough. Nonetheless, thanks for reading!

As always, the opinions in this blog are only those of the owner. But, let’s just say that this is something you should know by now.

Forget the fact that there was nothing wrong with the stadium in the rear. IT'S AMERICA!! EVERYTHING MUST BE NEW!

What’s better than a preseason Monday Night Football blog en vivo?? That same blog while rolling on pain meds!!! (Kids, don’t try this at home.) I had four wisdom teeth removed earlier today, and I’ve been popping taking medicine to ward off the pain. But I couldn’t possibly resist the first NFL game at the new Nazi Jets/Giants Stadium, now could I? Anyway, we join this game with 6:15 to go in the first quarter.

8:24 pm: Mark “Don’t Call Him Dirty!” Sanchez’s first pass was intercepted by Antrell Rolle (new guy!) and returned a very long way. Hold your “the Jets are going to the Super Bowl!” horses, folks!

8:25 pm: False start penalty on Damien Woody! Drink!

8:27 pm: Ron Jaworski just used the phrase “eye manipulation.” Isn’t that what the vampires do to hypnotize people in True Blood?

8:29 pm: Oh yeah, Brad Smith just scored a touchdown on a quick pass from Dirty. Eff that, I’m calling him Dirty Sanchez. ALL SEASON. 7-7 is the score. In other words, they’re both losing!

8:32 pm: Fireman Ed can afford seats at this new place?

8:34 pm: The word “physical” was just used. Drink! By the way folks, football is physical by nature. Can someone tell the commentators and analysts that?

8:35 pm: Also uttered? “Ball skills.” Drink again! I hope you have a high tolerance if you’re playing this drinking game.

8:37 pm: Punt block! And…the Giants just allowed a TD run by LDT (Although there was a penalty). The G-MEN picking up right where they left off!

8:38 pm: Jaws just used the phrase “explode through the hole.” Drink!

With all the ridiculous jargon uttered by these guys, prepare for many nights of alcohol poisoning.

8:39 pm: Here’s why I nominate Univision for a network to do NFL games: Even when they show commercials for their crappy shows, you wouldn’t know what they were talking about.

8:43 pm: Oh, there was a field goal? 10-7, Jets. Are you counting on me to provide the score?!!?

8:47 pm: Next “toy” that won’t sweep the nation? Paper Jamz.

8:49 pm: Random, yet relevant tweet: “‘Fireman Ed’ is probably the only fireman girls don’t want to see naked.” Courtesy of @ChicagoScott.

8:52 pm: Rex Ryan had lap band surgery, and also gets fined each time he has snacks at training camp. But, he’s still sporting the Ultra Belly. Michelle Obama, could you add Rex Ryan to you “no fat kids” initiative?

8:54 pm: A DirecTV commercial about watching every game, wherever you live! Drink!

8:55 pm: Well, not only did Eli Manning step out of a certain sack to shovel a pass to Ahmad Bradshaw, he rumbled down the field for 51 yards. Once again, hold your “the Jets are going to win the World Cup!” horses!

8:57 pm: Eli Manning with some blood on the head. Quick! Hide the vampires!

8:59 pm: So, @SI_RossTucker tweeted that NFL preseason football is better than World Cup soccer. Hey Ross, SHUT UP. NFL commentators use so much hyperbole. It’s a bit ridiculous.

9:02 pm: Jaws throwing out the world “physical” once again. Drink! Honestly, you may want to keep the bottle nearby.

9:03 pm: Random, yet relevant tweet: “Who wants to bet me that #AntonioCromartie will have more drops than illegitimate kids by the end of this game?” (Courtesy of @jpq1999)

9:05 pm: Jason Pierre Paul may be “raw” in terms of football experience, but damn, the dude can backflip in cleats! Standing still!

9:06 pm: Dirty Sanchez looked…rather clean while rolling out for that completion to Crotchery. By the way, if you’re not watching the game…could you guess the leading receiver for the Jets over the past three years? (Answer coming up)

9:08 pm: Hey guess what, guys? Kinda hard to beat a block from a tight end WHEN YOU’RE BEING HELD. Pierre Paul would like for you to lay off his nuts, please.

9:09 pm: Nick Folk blew some field goals that seemed rather easy to make. But hey, everybody’s has-been trash is treasure to the Jets!

9:13 pm: So you can sue the makers of Accutane if you had to have your colon removed. Can you also sue them if people still call you Crater Face?

9:16 pm: So, Rex Ryan created the Max Zone Overload Blitz? Well, that’s what John Gruden would like for you to think. Or, for me to think. Whatever.

9:17 pm: Tony Dungy says that he wouldn’t hire Rex Ryan since he curses too much. Oh wait, is Tony Dungy affiliated with any team in a decision making capacity?!!?

9:21 pm: Mike Tirico mentioned that teams usually don’t keep their first team offense on the field throughout the first half. Oh yeah, preseason football is TOTALLY better than the World Cup.

9:23 pm: I commend Braylon Edwards for his ability to fit a helmet on, despite his ridiculously awesome beard.

9:27 pm: Frank Gifford looks good for eighty. I could get away with saying that by blaming it on the drugs, right?

9:31 pm: Jason Taylor. Not only an old face in a new place, but a race mixer! Full disclosure: So am I.

9:35 pm: Well, Stuart Scott is on the television. Which is my cue to wrap this up!! I’m not going to last through a second half all hopped up on meds. It’s been fun though! Thanks for reading!