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July 31, 2009

Will’s ACC Preview–Teams as Bands

Filed under: Uncategorized — Will Askew @ 4:09 pm

COASTAL DIVISION

If you took the Eastern division of the SEC, strung it out on hookers and crack, and then put it in rehab, you’d have the Coastal division of the ACC. One really good team (Va. Tech), three former powers trying to recapture their glory (Miami, Ga Tech, and North Carolina), and two teams that won’t compete (Virginia and Duke).

6.  Duke:

On offense–Surprisingly, Duke may have the best QB in the ACC in fourth year starter Thaddeus Lewis.  Other than that though, there’s not much to like.  Their running back averaged 3 yards a carry last year, the best receiver in program history graduated, and their offensive line is being rebuilt.  Thaddeus Lewis is a good player, but without protection or anyone else to make plays, expect Cutcliffe’s boring ass offense to not be very good this year.

On defense–Almost all of Duke’s best players are on defense.  Vince Oghobasse, Vincent Rey, Wesley Oglesby, and Catron Gainey are all pretty solid players.  With all of that talent, and with departed senior Michael Tauiliili, how the hell did they finish 9th in the conference in defense last year?  They can’t stop the pass, they can’t stop the run, they suck.  Because they’re Duke.

Prediction: 3-9, 1-7 ACC

Key player:  Secondary.  Year after year, the secondary is the worst in the ACC.  They need to get some production.

Band comparison–Limp Bizkit.  They always sucked, but they put out an album that was slightly better than decent and you noticed.  But they still suck.

5.  Virginia:

On offense–Virginia was dead last in the league last year in scoring and total offense.  So what does it say about their team that two of their top 5 best players are quarterbacks?  It says Virginia is going to suck, that’s what it says.

On defense–Virginia has a pretty good secondary, led by Ras-I Dowling at corner.  Chris Cook, Rodney McLeod, and Corey Mosley help him out.  The defense, though, must replace all three of their top tacklers from last year, all linebackers, and they’re rebuilding their defensive line.

Al Groh is the Tommy West of the ACC…a pretty big name coach who has kept his job despite a pretty mediocre record.  Expect a change at the end of this year in Charlottesville, because Virginia is going to be awful.

Prediction: 3-9, 1-7 ACC

Key player: whoever plays LT–it’s supposed to be Landon Bradley.  They’re replacing first round draft pick Eugene Monroe, who was one of the only good players on last year’s Va team.

Band Comparison–Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Once pretty good, they have lost everything that made them so good, and now just tour around being mediocre.

4.  Miami:

On offense:  New OC Mark Whipple is installing a pro-style offense that will emphasize more balance.  Memphis product Craig Cooper is poised to have another really good year, and receiver Aldarius Johnson could be the latest bad-ass Miami wideout.  Jacory Harris, their second year QB, is key.  He has the potential to be really good.  There’s no depth there at all though, so Harris better stay healthy.

On defense:  The Canes couldn’t stop the run last year, giving up 310 yds against FSU, 472 yds against Ga Tech, and 219 yds against NC State.  Despite having great players at defensive tackle with Allen Bailey and Marcus Forston, they couldn’t stop the run.  Their secondary isn’t very good.

The problem for Miami is their schedule.  They start off the season with games @FSU, home against Ga. Tech, who ran all over them last year, @Va. Tech, and home against Oklahoma.  It doesn’t get too much easier, either, with trips to North Carolina and South Florida.

Prediction:  6-6, 4-4 ACC

Key player:  Jacory Harris.  If he can put it together, it will make it really difficult for defenses to stop them.

Band Comparison:  Whitney Houston.  Was the biggest star in the world at one point, but were undone by her own mistakes….now she’s back on the scene, but everyone is very reluctant to believe.

3.  North Carolina:

On offense:  If TJ Yates had stayed healthy last year, they may have won the ACC Coastal.  Instead, Mike Paulus came in and blew the Va. Tech game, and Cam Sexton came in last year with four NFL receivers and underwhelmed.  This year, Yates is back with Shaun Draughn at running back and an average offensive line.  Mike Paulus, who’s now the backup, hasn’t proven crap yet, so Yates must stay healthy.  they have no experience whatsoever at receiver, so they need former 5 star recruit Dwight Jones to step up.

On defense:  There are NFL players all over this defense…especially at defensive line.  Marvin Austin is a stud, Cam Thomas is massive, and young player Quinton Coples.  At linebacker, Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter are studs, but losing Mark Paschal is going to hurt.  At secondary, they return all their starters except one, Trimaine goddard, who was a stud.  With all of this talent, they need to be better statistically than they were last season, when they finished 11th in the ACC in defense.

Prediction: 8-4, 4-4 ACC

Key player: TJ Yates.  Needs to step up, stay healthy, and become a leader.

Band comparison:  The Kings of Leon.  A young band that has had some success, but you feel as though their best days are ahead.

2.  Georgia Tech

On offense:  They can clearly run the football.  Jonathan Dwyer may thrust himself into the Heisman race, They do need to have some sort of passing threat to keep defenses honest, but this will be a vintage Paul Johnson attack.  We’re running, try to stop us.

On defense–The defensive line was absolutely gutted by graduation…three players on first or second all ACC need to be replaced.  The interior of their defensive line could be a gaping hole.  They’ve got good linebackers and a pretty good secondary, led by junior Morgan Burnett.

Prediction: 9-3, 6-2 ACC

Key players:  the defensive tackles, Jason Peters and Ben Anderson.  this could be a massive hole for the Jackets if these two don’t step up.

Band comparison:  Bob Marley.  Every song sounds pretty much the same, but it’s oddly effective and sounds awesome.

1.  Virginia Tech

Clearly, the class of the Coastal.

On offense–Conservative.  Tyrod Taylor is a runner, the running backs are excellent, led by Darren Evans…their receivers aren’t that great, and neither is their offensive line, but the running backs and Tyrod Taylor are going to control the ball and let the defense dominate.

On defense–Really, really good.  Jason Worilds is a great pass rusher, Cody Grimm  and Jake Johnson are excellent at linebacker, and the secondary is always strong.  If VA Tech has a great season, it will largely be because of the defense.

Unlike Miami, VA Tech’s schedule really works in their favor.  After that opening game in Atlanta against Bama, They get most of their tough ACC games at home, the only tough road games coming at GA Tech.

Prediction:  11-1, 8-0 ACC

Key players:  VA Tech should be the class of the ACC again, but if they are to have Natl Title aspirations, Tyrod Taylor has to become two-dimensional.

Band comparison:  Justin Timberlake.  His talent wasn’t able to shine when he was with the d-bags in NSync, but now that he’s dominating better competition on his own, you see how good he is.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Makes you want to go, “Eeeeh.”.

6.  Maryland:

On offense–For an offensive genius, Ralph Friedgen sure doesn’t have good offenses.  Despite having Darrius Heyward-Bey and an All ACC performer in RB Da’Rel Scott, they finished 68th in the country in offense.  It all depends on Chris Turner, who hasn’t developed into a good player yet.  The offensive line isn’t particularly great either, so Turner is going to have to be good for this unit to perform.

Of defense–The defense returns just four starters from last year’s team, but hired an attacking coordinator in Don Brown.  The team will have to be more consistent this year, but LB Alex Wujciak should be really good again–he had 133 tackles last year.

Prediction–4-8, 2-6 ACC

Key player–Chris Turner…to be good on offense, Turner has to be better.

Band comparison–Traveling Wilburys…Assembled a ton of talent, but for some reason, never really did anything memorable.

5.  Wake Forest:

On offense–BOOORING.  Riley Skinner is back for his 37th year of eligibility.  Expect Wake Forest to be ultra-conservative again, with Skinner hitting low risk passes and Josh Adams trying to run the ball to provide balance.  With an offense like this, they should be in the big 10.

On defense–They have to replace possibly the best player in the NFL Draft, Aaron Curry, and a second rounder in Alphonso Smith.  Boo Robinson will be great in the middle of the d-line, but their pass rush is lacking.  In addition to losing Curry, they also lost two other starters at LB as well.

Prediction:  4-8, 3-5 ACC

Key player: The O-Line.  Last year’s line was terrible…it must be better this year.

Band comparison: Snow Patrol.  Pretty good, but really boring.  They were reasonably popular for a short period of time, and then faded away.

4.  Boston College

On offense–Gaping hole at QB.  Codi Boek is a coverted fullback and he is holding the position warm for Justin Tuggle, the son of Jessie Tuggle.  Montel Harris is a stud in the backfield, and he’ll have to be…they Eagles do have a very good O-Line though.

On defense–Lost a ton.  DT BJ Raji (NFL) and Ron Brace, ACC Def. player of the year Mark Herzlich (cancer).  Secondary is excellent though.

Prediction: 6-6, 3-5 ACC

Key Player: Whoever the QB is.

Band comparison: Allman Bros.  Through no fault of their own, they have been thrust into a position where they are not nearly as good as they were.

3.  NC State

On offense–Soph QB Russell Wilson is the best QB they’ve had since Phillip Rivers.  Mike Glennon is right behind him, and he could be a superstar.  The big question here is the offensive line, who really struggled run blocking last year.  The offense has to be able to play action, and if they can’t run block, could struggle a bit.

On defense–The front seven is pretty good, led by Sr. DE Willie young, DT Alan Michael Cash, and linebackers Nate Irving and Ray Michel.  The secondary is the key.  They must play better pass defense this year if they hope to be the surprising team everyone thinks they could be.

Prediction:  7-5, 4-4 ACC

Key player:  Offensive line.  Must provide balance.

Band comparison:  MGMT.  You expect huge things from them, but you don’t really know.  Yet.

2.  Florida State

On offense–Need more consistency in passing game.  Christian Ponder is the starter and he can run, but he didn’t throw the ball as well last year.  Skill position players aren’t that great, but the OL is, led by Rodney Hudson, who’s one of the best O-linemen ever to play at FSU.

On defense–Linebackers are strong, led by Dekoda Watson and Kendall Smith.  The problem, though, is that FSU doesn’t know where the pass rush is going to come from.  Everette Brown and Neefy Moffette are gone, and the team will have to replace their ability to get pressure.

Prediction:  9-3, 6-2 ACC

Key Player:  Christian Ponder.  He has to throw the ball.

Band comparison:  Bob Dylan.  A long period as one of the great teams in history, but as Bowden’s aged, he’s clearly not what he used to be.  Although he is prone to brilliance every once in a while.

1.  Clemson

On offense–With CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford, they have two of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers.  Kyle Parker and Willy Korn have a lot of potential at QB, and they have a great RB and Ford to get the ball to.  Who will be the #2 receiver?  And will the O-line protect the young QBs?

On defense–Really good defense.  Da’Quan Bowers is going to be a great DE, the tackles ar egood.  Secondary is strong.  If there is a question, it’s at linebacker, but this defense should be good.

Prediction:  10-2, 6-2 ACC

Key Player:  O-line.  Must be able to block for Spiller and give the QBs time.

Band comparison:  Genesis.  Only after getting rid of someone (Bowden/Peter Gabriel) are they able to realize their full potential.

July 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 2:51 pm

As many of you may know, I broke a bone in my elbow last week playing kickball. Yes, that’s right I hurt myself playing kickball, go ahead and laugh. Anyway, with my right arm in a big brace it’s not easy to type, but I had to post a few things.

First, if you haven’t seen this commercial yet, you have to check it out. Very creative and funny. I always see it during Cardinal games on Fox Sports Midwest.

I can’t believe this story from Gary Parrish at cbssports.com. I have always had a great deal of respect for LeBron and I think he handles most things extremely well, but this incident makes him look extremely childish and if the people at Nike don’t turn over the video, this will be a PR nightmare for LeBron and Nike.

Here is a great picture someone put together.

lebron

A lot of people have asked me what I think about the Grizzlies trade for Zach Randolph. I’ll say this, I would have rather had one of the other free agent power forwards, but Randolph is not a terrible alternative. Of all the power forwards that were available he is the best scorer and this team desperately needed someone to score on the block. He can be a little bit of a knucklehead, but if he has his head screwed on straight, I know that’s asking a lot, he could be a nice addition. He doesn’t play any defense, but they just drafted a bunch of defenders. At some point you have to be able to score the ball, and Randolph definitely adds another option on the offensive end. Let’s give him a chance and see how this works out.

July 6, 2009

This & That

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg Gaston @ 6:17 pm

YOU CAN JUDGE SLAIN FORMER NFL STAR STEVE MCNAIR ANY WAY YOU WANT TO, BUT I’LL JUDGE HIM IN THIS VEIN……HE WAS ONE OF THE FIERCEST COMPETITORS TO EVER PUT ON A FOOTBALL HELMET.
MCNAIR PLAYED INJURED. MCNAIR PLAYED WITH PAIN. AND MCNAIR PLAYED WITH A WILL TO WIN THAT RIVALED THE ALL TIME BEST.
HE UNFORTUNATELY WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING HIS MURDER, AND COMING UP A YARD SHORT IN ATTEMPTING TO LEAD HIS TITANS TO A SUPER BOWL VICTORY. BUT TO ME, “AIR” MCNAIR WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED AS A PLAYER WHO LEFT IT ALL OUT ON THE FIELD. HE WAS ONE OF THOSE SPECIAL QUARTERBACKS WHO COULD STAND IN THE POCKET, TAKE A HIT, AND DELIVER A 40 YARD PASS WITH VELOCITY AND ACCURACY. HE COULD ALSO TUCK THE BALL AND RUN FOR 50 YARDS AND A TOUCHDOWN.
MCNAIR WAS A PROVEN LEADER ON THE GRIDIRON. AND THAT’S HOW I’LL REMEMBER HIM.
ALBERT PUJOLS RECEIVED THE MOST VOTES IN FAN BALLOTTING FOR NEXT WEEK’S ALL-STAR GAME IN ST. LOUIS. AND RIGHTLY SO.
WHILE SOME PEOPLE INSIST THE CARDINALS SLUGGER HAS TO BE ON THE JUICE, DESPITE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FINALLY TESTING IT’S PLAYERS FOR DRUGS, THE PUJOLS NAME HAS NEVER SURFACED IN ANY BOOK, ARTICLE, DOCUMENT OR LIST.
PUJOLS IS THE MOST FEARED HITTER IN BASEBALL. AND IF HE CONTINUES AT THIS TORRID PACE, PUJOLS WILL END HIS CAREER RIGHT UP THERE WITH AARON, MAYS, WILLIAMS AND RUTH.
THE GRIZZLIES WILL OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE THE ACQUISITION OF ZACH RANDOLPH ON WEDNESDAY.
THE POWER FORWARD FROM MICHIGAN STATE HAS THE CHANCE TO PUT UP SOME BIG NUMBERS WITH THE GRIZZLIES, AND PRODUCE THE LOW POST SCORING THE TEAM HAS LACKED THE LAST FEW YEARS SINCE PAU GASOL’S TRADE.
IN ADDITION, RANDOLPH HAS A CHANCE TO CLEAN UP HIS TARNISHED IMAGE BY HELPING TUTOR THE GRIZZLIES YOUNG PLAYERS AND BECOMING A LEADER BOTH ON AND OFF THE COURT.
THE QUESTION IS….WILL ZACH BE ABLE TO ENDURE ANOTHER LOSING SEASON AFTER PLAYING MOST RECENTLY WITH THE KNICKS AND CLIPPERS? IF HE’S ABLE TO OVERCOME THAT AND UNDERSTAND WHAT’S HE’S GETTING INTO, RANDOLPH MAY TURN OUT TO BE A VERY SOLID MOVE FOR THE ORGANIZATION.
IF NOT, WELL AS BETTY DAVIS ONCE SAID, STRAP IN, BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO BE A BUMPY RIDE.

July 2, 2009

Grizz Use Band-Aid to Cover Gaping Wound

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Will Askew @ 9:42 am

Yesterday afternoon, the Grizzlies were rumored to be mulling an offer to Knicks restricted free agent forward David Lee for a financial commitment of 5 years and $60 million dollars.  David Lee is one of the best rebounders in the league.  He led the league in double-doubles last year and averaged 16 points a game.  What isn’t clear is if his 16 ppg average from last year is a testament to his improving offensive ability or to Mike D’Antoni’s uptempo system.  Yeah, the Grizz would slightly be overpaying for him, but they have to do that in order to get a prize free agent.

Guess that’s not happening now.

Almost out of nowhere last night, the Grizz traded for Zach Randolph, a 20 ppg, 9 rpg guy last year with the Clippers who, on paper or on a fantasy basketball team, solves their need for a go-to power forward.  That leaves the Grizzlies a few more million dollars to go out and sign some shooting and point guard help off the bench.

Here’s the problem–the NBA isn’t a fantasy basketball team.  You have to consider things like “team chemistry” or “the fact that you’re bringing one of the most selfish, combustible players in the NBA into a team who has all young players.”  First, the good–the Grizzlies didn’t give up anything to get him.  Q-Rich wasn’t figuring to do too much this season for the Grizzlies, and then he would have been gone.  Secondly, Randolph will provide an offensive threat at the 4, something they haven’t had since Pau Gasol.  That’s it.  Those are the only two positives I see.

Here are the negatives–Zach Randolph has been either the leading scorer or the second leading scorer and the leading rebounder on every team he’s been on since 2004-05.  On the surface, that’s a good thing; that’s not taking into account, however, that his teams since 04-05 are a combined 166 games under .500.  That’s an average of over 32 games a year.  Secondly, he has fought with a teammate on the bench during a game before.  Telling fact–the player he fought with, Nate Robinson, is still on the Knicks.  Third, he plays zero defense.  Pau is a better defensive player than he is.  Fourth, he’s a black hole on offense.  Those who think he’s going to draw the double-team and kick it back out, be prepared for him to draw a double-team and shoot it anyway.  Fifth, the man is a half-court player.  He’s not into running up and down the floor.

I have never thought that Michael Heisley has chosen to shed costs just to shed costs.  He has proven in the past that he is willing to spend if he thinks he can win.  That being said, proponents of this trade will say that the fact that they got Randolph proves that he’s willing to go out and spend money if he thinks the player can help him win.  To the point that he will help them win…umm, did you see the stat above?  Secondly, with a little quick math, I can tell you that a commitment of 2 years and $33 million is quite a bit less than a commitment of 5 years and $60 million.  If Randolph fails to pan out, what then?  Do they  trade his expiring contract next season for another crappy collection of veterans, like Randolph has been traded for three times in the last three years?  Back to square one I suppose.

Why has this double-double machine been traded so many times?  And why does he never get traded for anything of value?  The Knicks were so desperate to get rid of him they traded him for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas.  The Clippers were so desperate to get rid of him they traded him for a 3 point specialist who’s not that great at shooting 3 pointers.  Zach Randolph is like a ridiculously hot woman who doesn’t have a boyfriend–you can’t believe she’s single and keeps getting dumped for someone much less hot, but behind the scenes, she’s a total psycho.

Zach Randolph will come in here and average about 18 points and 10 rebounds.  You’ll never officially hear anything from anyone, but you’ll hear stories about how he’s a bad influence on the young players and how he’s immature off the court.  At the end of next year, the Grizzlies will be right back where they were this year–in the lottery.  I hope they get a high enough pick to take Ed Davis or Derrick Favors.  Then maybe the Grizzlies will have a long-term solution instead of a Band-Aid.

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