Saturday, December 29, 2012

NFL '12 Dread News - Week 16

The numbers simply don't add up - points scored: 22.1 per game; points allowed: 25.6 per game; turnover margin: -17 (in 14 games). What does that look like to you? To me for sure that's a losing team. But oddly enough, those were the numbers of a team not only with a winning record, but a team that had already clinched a playoff spot with two weeks to spare. That team, of course, is the Indianapolis Colts, who seemingly have been touched by a magic wand throughout the 2012 season. In compiling their 9-5 record prior to last Sunday's trip to Kansas City, the Colts' victories have been by margins of 3, 3, 4, 6 (in overtime), 3, 17 (the Jaguars), 7, 2, and 4 points. And the magic continued against the Chiefs. Despite being dominated for much of the game, the Colts picked up win #10 by a score of 20-13.

It doesn't take magic to beat the Chiefs this season. But to their credit, despite winning only twice all year and having little to play for, they really showed up for this one. After being held to a pathetic 119 total yards by the Raiders one week earlier, the Chiefs inexplicably shredded the Colts' D for 507 total yards, including an incredible 352 yards on the ground. How do you rush for 350 yards and still lose? You beat yourselves, same as the Chiefs have done all season. Their -3 turnover margin in this game dropped them to -25 for the season - worst in the league. The Colts' defense, coming into the game with just 10 takeaways all season, got a pick 6 on the Chiefs' first possession of the day. The Chiefs' other two turnovers were both in the red zone and both on 1st down. The Chiefs ended with gaining 50+ yards on 6 different drives and yet got just 1 TD and 2 FG.

That one TD came on an 86-yard run by RB Jamaal Charles on the first play from scrimmage in the 2nd half. It was the 3rd time this season Charles (photo above) has had a run of 80 yards or longer.


While I was at work two weeks ago Friday, I kept waiting to hear any news regarding Richard Sherman's appeal to overturn the 4-game suspension assessed to him by the NFL. Having heard not a thing all day, I went to Google that night to get the details. But instead of finding out about the appeal (it had been postponed), all I found out was that Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks' 2nd year CB, was just mad. Mad at Tom Brady. Mad at anybody who dares to disrespect the Seahawks' defense. Mad at the NFL for trying to suspend him. Even mad at 49ers Coach Harbaugh (his coach while he played in college at Stanford) for accusing the Seahawks' DBs of using illegal tactics. But the thing Sherman is mad about the most? It's that he wasn't selected until the 5th round of the 2011 NFL draft. 
Sherman (who I'll admit is probably in the top 5 of my favorite pro athletes of all time) is a player who definitely lets his mouth do his talking for him as much as his play when he's on the field. But playing out in Seattle, he had managed to mostly stay out of the national spotlight during his rookie season and the first few weeks of this season. But that all changed when the Seahawks played the New England Patriots on Oct. 14 (Week 6).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Message from cousin Ty: Shape up or Ship out

After his 3rd consecutive disappointing season for Minnesota (the first two under Coach Brewster), Coach Kill was ready to give CB Michael Carter the boot in November 2011. But before he did, Kill thought, "If he won't listen to me, maybe he'll listen to someone in his own family." It turned out to be a stroke of genius for Kill. Not only was Carter still on the team for his senior season, he played well enough to earn honorable mention all-Big 10 honors.
Carter, you may remember, was the lead story in my Week 9 College Football report. And you may remember I mentioned that he was the younger cousin of Tyrone Carter, who starred for the Gophers in the late 1990's before being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and going on to have an NFL career that lasted longer than a decade (in 7 years of which he had dreads).

Khaseem the dream

He gets his name from his mother. He gets his athletic ability from his father. Put them together and you get Khaseem Greene, who has been a big star for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights the last two seasons, after a position switch from S to LB. I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Greene, who will be playing his final game in a Rutgers uniform when the 9-3 Scarlet Knights take on Virginia Tech (6-6) less than 48 hours from now in the Russell Athletic Bowl at Orlando (Friday, Dec. 28 at 5:30 PM ET on  ESPN). You won't have any trouble finding him. He'll likely be the only player on the field with dreads, and he'll likely be the player making most of the tackles for Rutgers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Edison sees the light

Back in March of 2009 I did a dread gallery (DG45) featuring National Signing Day, and I remember one of the photos was of DB Josh Johnson accompanied by a comment that Purdue's '09 recruiting class had several players with dreads. Well, for Johnson and the other members of that class who haven't redshirted, their time at Purdue is almost up. That includes a player I've become a big fan of over the years - I'm talking about WR Antavian Edison. I thought I'd give a quick shout out to Edison before he plays his final game in a Purdue uniform in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Oklahoma State (Jan. 1 at 11 AM CT on ESPNU).
Antavian has been a pretty decent playmaker in the Big 10 during his career, which might come as a surprise to anyone who saw him in HS.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

NFL '12 Dread News - Week 15

Way back in early September, you might recall, I forecast that the 2012 season would end with the Ravens defeating the 49ers in the Super Bowl. That prediction actually was looking pretty good about a month ago, but not so much now. I also had the Arizona Cardinals finishing with the worst record in the league. But about a month later the Cardinals had started 4-0 and had already exceeded the 3 victories I predicted them to finish with. I'll tell you, I was feeling about as dumb as could be back then; but given my crystal ball's stellar performance (NOT!) forecasting the NFC West in the last few years, I wasn't surprised.

But now as we approach the finish line, I'm not feeling like an idiot anymore. The Cardinals turned out to be exactly who we thought they were - a team in desperate need of a QB and a team that can't score to save their life. The Cardinals entered Week 15 dead last in points scored (trailing even the pitiful Chiefs) with 186. So what on Earth happened last Sunday, when they put 38 points on the board in a 38-10 drubbing of the Detroit Lions that ended their 9-game losing streak? An offensive explosion? Uh, not quite.
The Cardinals' offense was as lousy as ever, finishing with 196 total yards. WRs Larry Fitzgerald (photo above) and Andre Roberts between them had just 7 receptions for 44 yards. Instead it was the 4 turnovers by the Lions that was the biggest factor in the outcome.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 15

There were just a handful of games last weekend, so we have a special feature this week - my first ever bowl preview. But first, we have my annual playoff rant.
If you have been following this blog from the beginning, you already know that I'm a big fan of having a 16-team playoff tournament at the end of the college football regular season to determine the champion (a real champion, not the beauty contest we have now). You also know that I'm a big fan of keeping all of the bowl games intact, almost exactly the way they are now. Both of my wishes (and if I was the commissioner of college football, these would be commands, not wishes) can be accomplished simply - by playing the first two rounds of the championship on the campuses of the higher seeded teams on the next two weekends following the Thanksgiving weekend, then taking a short break, and then using the current BCS bowls to host the semifinals (on or near Jan. 1) and the championship game (about a week later). At the conclusion of the 2nd round, the 12 teams that were eliminated would then be selected for bowl games, along with all the bowl-eligible teams that didn't make the tournament. It's so easy a caveman could do it; but apparently not easy enough for the people in power to figure out.

Starting in 2014, the FBS will replace the beauty contest with a 4-team playoff. It's a step in the right direction, but I'll tell you right now - four ain't gonna cut it. All a 4-team playoff will do is increase all the chaos and aggravation and anger we have now. It really needs to be 16 teams - and the sooner we get there the better.


BCS - It's short for Bowl Championship Series. But as we all know, all it really is is a series of bowls that mean nothing.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 14

Jarvis Jones must have been confused. It had been so long since Georgia played Alabama (they last met in 2008) that maybe he just didn't understand. So that there will be no further confusion in the future let's get this clear right now: just because Alabama's players have to have their dreads reduced on game days, it doesn't mean Alabama's opponents have to do it too. Jones, the star junior LB for the Bulldogs, had his dreads reduced so much for last Saturday's SEC championship game that you couldn't see them at all (photo below). I mean, I was almost in a panic at first because, until I got a closer look later on, it looked like he had cut them off. Please Jarvis, don't ever do that again.
Having already guaranteed that Alabama would not make it 2 wins in a row in the BCS title game, and having had a lifelong disdain for Notre Dame, I was desperately cheering for Jones (even with reduced dreads) and the Bulldogs to knock off the Crimson Tide. And for a moment they were looking good, leading 21-10 in the 3rd quarter after scoring on a return of a blocked Alabama FG attempt.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 13

That didn't take long, did it? I'm talking about the demise of the Auburn Tigers. On Thanksgiving weekend two years ago, on their last visit to Tuscaloosa, the Tigers celebrated one of their most satisfying victories ever in the Iron Bowl rivalry, coming back from a 24-0 deficit to stun the Crimson Tide 28-27 and cap an undefeated (12-0) regular season. A few weeks after that Auburn was on top of the college football world after their victory over Oregon in the BCS title game. But we all knew Auburn wasn't that good. We all knew that 2010 team was just a Cam Newton-led aberration. We knew that as soon as he was gone, there would be a drop-off. But did any of you think Auburn would fall this far so fast? To last Saturday's embarrassing 42-0 deficit at halftime? To this season's 0-8 record in the SEC, the worst in school history?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 12

In the big money grab game known as conference musical chairs, the biggest loser has been the WAC. All the realignment that went into effect this season left the WAC with only 7 teams, and they had to add 2 new teams just to have that many. Next season there will be only 2 teams left, as five schools will be heading for greener pastures. So instead of having Idaho and New Mexico State play every week in a best of 7 for the conference championship, WAC football will cease to exist beginning in 2013. So who will be the conference's last-ever champion? The 2012 title was all but wrapped up last Saturday in a wild game at Ruston, LA.

Defending WAC champ Louisiana Tech has gotten all the hype - and the top 25 ranking - this season thanks to their 9-1 record, with the only loss coming to Texas A&M. Meanwhile, the team I suspected might be better - Utah State - has been under the radar all season. The Aggies, 8-2, very easily could have been undefeated coming into this week, having barely lost on the road to Wisconsin and BYU. But they knew they wouldn't be able to steal any of LA Tech's thunder because they wouldn't be meeting the Bulldogs until Week 12. Finally getting their shot, USU jumped to a 17-3 halftime lead.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Short but not small - TJ2K12

"I was 5-8 and wasn't growing."

Dealing with that bit of reality during his sophomore year in high school, Tim Jennings decided to quit basketball and give football a try. It turned out to be a decision that has served him quite well, you think? He may be short, but Jennings has been absolutely huge for the Chicago Bears during the first half of the 2012 NFL season, making big plays on a regular basis. When he had 2 INT and 2 PBU in a victory over the Colts in the season opener, I just thought it was an excellent game against a rookie QB playing his first game. Nothing special. But no, Jennings was just getting warmed up. After picks in Weeks 2 and 3, he was named NFC defensive player of the month for September. And in October, in Week 8, he made one of the Bears' biggest plays of the season - a pick six with the Bears trailing the Panthers in the 4th quarter.
I never thought I'd be doing a piece on Jennings, a cornerback now playing his 7th NFL season. Of course, I never thought he'd ever be leading the league in interceptions either.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 11

Heading into Week 11 there were 6 remaining undefeated teams in Division 1-FBS. The big five - Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State occupied the top five spots in the weekly AP rankings. And then there was Louisville - the ugly duckling of the bunch - way down at #11, behind five teams who were not undefeated. That's the kind of respect the Big East has been getting lately, and deservedly so. In fact, if you examine the first 9 games on Louisville's 2012 schedule, you could make a convincing argument that the Cardinals didn't even deserve to be as high as #11. Among their 6 home wins were close calls against North Carolina, South Florida, and Cincinnati. And their 'best' road win was against 4-5 Pittsburgh.
So I suppose it wasn't surprising that when the Cardinals traveled to Syracuse last Saturday for their toughest road game of the season so far, they fell flat on their faces, losing for the first time this season, 45-26. It was the Cardinals' misfortune to be the opponent on Senior Day for Syracuse.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 10

Thanks to the 50,000-watt blowtorch that is WWL, my affinity for LSU football began at a young age. So I'm accustomed to the pain of seeing the Tigers lose at home to Alabama. But that loss last Saturday night? Man, hands down that had to be the most painful one of them all. Just when it looked like LSU had things under control, just when it looked like they might win, Alabama suddenly drove 72 yards in a 5-play drive that took just 43 seconds, scoring a TD with :51 remaining on the clock to steal the game 21-17 and end LSU's hopes for a 2nd straight SEC championship as well as a return trip to the BCS title game. No, I was not quite as disappointed as freshman CB Jalen Mills (photo below) and the rest of the LSU players; but no doubt this one is going to sting for a very long time. 
With the win the Crimson Tide remain ranked #1 and improved to 9-0. They also improved to a ridiculous 17-4-1 against LSU in their last 22 visits to Baton Rouge.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

129 yards to the house!

With a title like that, you probably already know what this post will be about ...... the CFL, of course, where the field of play is 110 yards long and the end zones 20 yards deep. I haven't done anything on the CFL since 2009 and wasn't planning on doing anything this year. But when I found out what happened with Trent Guy back on Sunday, Sept. 23, I knew I was going to have to do something.
After wrapping up his college career at Louisville in 2009, Guy, a Charlotte native, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers and spent 2010 on their practice squad. He was released at the end of training camp in 2011 and this year found his way to the CFL, where having a good kick returner is more a necessity than the luxury it is for NFL teams. In the photo above Guy, a 5-8, 171 WR, is celebrating his 1st TD in a Montreal Alouettes uniform - on a 9-yard catch and run with 4:54 remaining in the 2nd quarter. But a little later, it was his 2nd career TD that caught everybody's attention.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 9

If at first you do not succeed, try, try again - until the other team scores a touchdown, that is .....

I had the Purdue-Minnesota game on the list of games I wanted to watch for Week 9. But there were several other games I needed to see, so I ended up skipping the Boilermakers and Gophers. Now, after reading what happened at Minneapolis last Saturday, I'm kicking myself because of all the interesting stuff that I missed. Not the least of which was a sequence at the beginning of the 2nd half.
After converting a 3rd and 10 on the first series after halftime, Purdue QB Caleb TerBush tried to hit WR Gary Bush on 1st down, but the pass was broken up by senior CB Michael Carter. 2nd and 10: Carter again breaks up a pass to Bush. So what does Purdue do on 3rd and 10? Right, throw the ball to Bush. And yet again Carter made them pay, this time intercepting the pass and taking it 43 yards to the house (photo above) for his 1st career TD.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 8

Here in Big 10 country .....
While Wisconsin and Minnesota play each year for the Paul Bunyan Axe (the Badgers kept the Axe for the 9th straight year, defeating the Gophers 38-13 last Saturday), Michigan and Michigan State play for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Now if I understand it correctly, while Michigan fans are more preoccupied with beating Ohio State than Michigan State, Michigan State fans want nothing more than to beat Michigan. If that is true, then the most recent games between the two teams have brought a great deal of joy and satisfaction to MSU fans. For 4 years in a row starting in 2008 the wooden statue of Paul Bunyan perched on a pedestal has resided in the MSU trophy case. Prior to those 4 years, the Spartans hadn't been able to take even 2 in a row from the Wolverines since the mid-1960's. If the Spartans were to make it 5 in a row, it would mean that Denard Robinson, Vincent Smith, and the rest of the Michigan seniors would become part of a very small group of people still living to have played their entire career at Michigan without ever beating Michigan State.

Well, it wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty; but the Michigan seniors avoided that ignominious group last Saturday.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 7

TCU was deemed undesirable when the Big 8 and SWC merged 16 years ago to form the Big 12. But thanks to their recent run of tremendous success in football, and with the Big 12 desperate to add teams following the defections by Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M, the Horned Frogs were welcomed into the conference beginning this fall. Likely the most enjoyable part of that success for TCU fans was that dream-come-true 13-0 season in 2010, culminating with an unlikely appearance in the Rose Bowl. Included in that season was a 45-10 blowout of Baylor in Week 3 - a whipping that apparently was not forgotten by the Baylor players. And when TCU opened the 2011 season at Baylor, well, revenge was served, to say the least.
The TCU defense, which allowed 229 yards per game in 2010, was shredded for 564 yards that night by the Bears. After allowing 10 TD passes all season in 2010, the TCU D gave up 6 in one game that night.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

College FB '12 Dread News - Week 6

One of the benefits of having Texas A&M and Missouri join the SEC this season was that it allowed the schedule maker to move the South Carolina-Georgia game from its usual spot in Week 2 to later in the season. Not that South Carolina Coach Spurrier considered it a benefit. In the days before the game Spurrier quipped that he "sort of always liked playing them that 2nd game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended." Ha ha. Sorry Coach, but your program has gotten so good lately that Week 2 is too early in the season for an important game like this.
The Bulldogs and Gamecocks (both 5-0) met last Saturday night at Columbia, and it was no contest. South Carolina jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the 1st quarter was over and cruised to a 35-7 victory to remain undefeated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Welcome to the House

Before I get started, let me say this. If you don't like dreadlocks, there's no need to read any further. This ain't for you. Whatever it was that brought you to this page made a mistake. You'd be better off spending your time somewhere else.
Now, for those of you who are not haters .....

A little more than four years ago, while doing a Google search for Rashean Mathis, I stumbled upon a blog titled "Shake Dem Dreads." That quickly led me to "Shakedemdreads" corresponding page on the website known as Yardbarker. Through Yardbarker's "bark it up" system in effect at the time, you could tell there was a fair amount of interest in the items posted by Shakedemdreads. And so, being a lifelong huge sports fan as well as a big fan of many athletes who have dreads, I decided to start my own dreadlock-themed sports blog. Although I've never done it professionally, I've always enjoyed writing stuff about sports. So, just for fun, I opened an account on Yardbarker and called it "HouseofDread."

Well, it certainly wasn't a smashing success (I didn't expect it to be), but I was more than satisfied with the amount of interest in what I was writing. As time passed, however, Yardbarker underwent several significant changes. And with every each change they pushed me closer and closer to the door. Their latest change - deleting all the photos from everything that everybody had posted - was the last straw. It was time for the House of Dread to find a new home. So here we are now right here - and hopefully no longer subject to so many unexpected changes.
For those of you (if there is anybody) who regularly viewed my stuff on Yardbarker, this is a continuation of that blog. I'll be picking up right where I left off. To those of you who are new and/or have stumbled upon this blog, and if you like sports and dreads, you can check out my stuff from Yardbarker (what's left of it, that is) by clicking on the link below, and then clicking on "Forum Posts."

For now at least, I'm going to allow comments. But be warned: I don't like negative comments. Listen. I get it - there's many more people out there that don't like dreadlocks than do. I'm fine with that. But I don't need you to tell me that you don't like dreadlocks or tell me that you don't care. Certainly I welcome constructive criticism or any agreement or disagreement with something I've written. But if all you're going to write is "Who cares" or something like that, please don't waste your time. Please.
For those who are fans of dreadlocks in sports, welcome to my house. Hopefully you'll find some of my stuff interesting.