Saturday, November 29, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 12

For the most part it was an enjoyable Saturday (Nov. 15) of watching football for me ..... right up until there were about 5 minutes remaining in the Auburn-Georgia game, when Todd Gurley didn't get up after his 29th carry of the night. In his first game back in action after serving a 4-game suspension, Gurley - the star junior RB and arguably the best RB to ever wear a Georgia uniform - turned in his usual outstanding performance. But when he stayed down and grabbed his knee after gaining 6 yards to the Auburn 11-yard line on 2nd and 5, you knew something had gone wrong. And then when they showed the replay - Gurley wincing as he planted his left leg while making a cut then falling to the ground, unable to take his next stride on the leg - it looked exactly the way it does all too often in sports when a player tears the ACL in his knee. A day later the worst fears of a lot of people (including me) were realized with the official announcement that Gurley indeed had torn his ACL and was done for the season. And with the injury occurring so late in the season, you wonder and worry that he won't recover in time to have a rookie season in the NFL in 2015.
The injury put a bit of a damper on Georgia's 34-7 victory, as the Bulldogs finished SEC play at 6-2 and needing Missouri to lose at least one of their remaining 2 games in order to finish first in the SEC East and play in the conference championship game.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 9

There were less than 2 minutes to play in the game, and with Marshall's victory already in the bag, I kept waiting for QB Rakeem Cato to take the snap and kneel down to kill the remaining time. But instead he kept handing the ball off. Then I remembered ..... right, this is college football - not only is running up the score not frowned on, it's necessary. Marshall simply was thinking, "Why beat FAU 28-16 when you can beat them 35-16?" The BCS era may be over, but the truth is that college football remains a beauty contest. Winning isn't the only thing, winning as impressively as possible is. So it's no surprise that the Thundering Herd added a TD with 51 seconds to go, when just taking a knee would have been the sportsmanlike thing to do.
With the teams in the Little 5 conferences (CUSA, MAC, SBC, MWC, and AAC) being allotted just one of the 12 spots in the big 6 bowl games to be played on New Year's Eve and Day, Marshall, now 8-0 and seemingly breezing toward the Conference USA championship, needs their wins to come with as many style points as they can get, because their schedule hasn't been all that difficult.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 7

Hey, is the TCU-Baylor game over yet?

Forget the Iron Bowl, it's looking more and more like the big end-of-the-season showdown to decide the SEC West might be the Egg Bowl - in the state immediately to the west of Alabama. Halfway through the 2014 season Mississippi and Mississippi State are both 6-0. That's not a misprint - 6 wins, zero defeats. Who woulda thunk it? But before you decide to get rich by scalping your tickets to the Egg Bowl, Rebel and Bulldog fans, remember it's still early, And with teams as talented as Arkansas and LSU bringing up the rear, the West Division of the SEC is an absolute minefield this season. Every game is a difficult game. But really, wouldn't it be something if CBS was televising Hail State vs. Ole Miss on the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of Auburn-Alabama?
You kind of of expected Mississippi to get good because they had been signing some very highly-ranked recruits the last couple of years. But who saw Mississippi State coming?

Monday, October 6, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 5

The voting for the 2014 Heisman Trophy will take place, as usual, at the end of the regular season in December, with all players eligible for consideration. But let's pretend that the voting were done now, after only the first month of the season, and it wasn't vote as you please - you had to vote for either Georgia RB Todd Gurley or Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, a couple of juniors who hope to be playing in the NFL at this time next year and a couple of players I'm a very huge fan of. Remarkably, through the first 5 weeks (4 games for both) the two are separated by only 2 yards rushing - with Gordon having rushed for 612 yards and 8 TD to 610 yards and 6 TD for Gurley. But I believe the separation would be much greater at the voting booth ..... with Gurley winning in a landslide. It's not that Gordon hasn't been outstanding, only that Gurley has been more outstanding.



















His Heisman campaign already smeared by an ugly 38 yards on 17 carries game against FCS team Western Illinois, Gordon saw his hopes diminishing even further on Saturday, Sept. 27, during the 1st half of the Badgers' home game against South Florida, as he gained only 50 yards on 17 carries.

Friday, September 26, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 3

It wasn't that long ago (was it?) that a star HS wide receiver who wanted to play in college for a team in Florida instead ended up wearing the green and white of the Marshall Thundering Herd. Two years and 55 TD later (including at least 1 TD in every game he played), Randy Moss left Marshall following his sophomore season and began a career in the NFL that certainly will result in him being elected to the Hall of Fame. Some of the Marshall fans in attendance as the Herd whipped Ohio U 44-14 on Sept. 13 this year might have been thinking about Moss and thinking that history was about to repeat itself after enjoying the breakout performance by another WR who wasn't originally slated to suit up for the Herd.
Let's get one thing straight: I'm not saying that freshman WR Angelo Jean-Louis is or will ever be anywhere near as good as Moss, who arguably was the most talented WR to ever play. But after the first three games of this season, it's not that much of a reach to say he has a chance to enjoy the same team success during his stay at Marshall as Moss did.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 2

As you may remember, the 2013 season ended with a TD catch by WR Kelvin Benjamin to give Florida State a BCS title game victory over Auburn. The same Kelvin Benjamin scored his 1st NFL TD last Sunday, helping the Carolina Panthers pick up a road victory over the offensively challenged Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the same field 24 hours earlier Tampa Bay's offensively challenged college team - the South Florida Bulls - put on their typical display of futility, costing them their chance to get off to a 2-0 start. While pretty much ignoring the marquee matchups involving Big 10 teams Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan, the game I spent the most time watching last Saturday had Big 10 newbie Maryland doing almost everything possible to give away the game to South Florida - and the Bulls absolutely refusing to accept the gift. Despite turning the ball over 6 times, the Terrapins escaped with a 24-17 victory that no doubt had fans of both teams cringing throughout the afternoon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

You really wanna go there?

..... That was the question I put to my crystal ball (CB) a couple of days ago immediately after finding out who it was predicting to win Super Bowl 49 at the conclusion of the 2014 NFL season. I continued: "You do know that the last 9 teams that won the Super Bowl failed to win it again the following year, don't you?" To which CB replied: "L.O.B." Well, I guess that settles it then. The Seattle Seahawks, who took 38 years to win their first championship in franchise history, will need only 12 months to win their second. If CB is correct , it'll be Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch (photo) and friends raising the Lombardi Trophy - and doing it on the home field of their NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals - when the season ends in February.

As for who the Seahawks will defeat in the Super Bowl, again - more emphatically this time - I asked CB, "You really want to go THERE!?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DG155

Until now my only coverage of the 2013 NFL season was of the final week of the regular season and the playoffs - and that brief post I did when Cardinals rookie Andre Ellington lost some of his dreads while he was tackled. So in dread gallery #155, let's take a look at some of what happened in the first 16 weeks of the season. Obviously one DG doesn't do justice to the NFL. I mean, I checked maybe 5% of all of the NFL photos available on the internet yet still saved enough to do several dread galleries. Picking the best of the best of that 5% for DG155, there were more than 150 photos I wanted to post; but I have cut that down to about 100.

This review of the 2013 season won't be as complete as last year's review of the 2012 season (in DG149) because I still haven't gone over the defensive stats in all the games (and I'm not going to either); so I don't have the whole list of the dread stars and head dreads from each week. Also, I'm going to try to wrap this up in record time, so I'm not going to check the game situations for most of the photos. Also, I have to apologize to all the O-linemen in the league with sick dreads, because there won't be any photos of you. Sorry about that. Anyway, let's begin DG155 with some of last season's interceptions.

PICKS

1. Falcons rookie CB Desmond Trufant intercepts a pass intended for WR Pierre Garcon at the Washington 39-yard line with 5:38 remaining in the game in Week 15, setting up a FG. It was the 2nd and last INT of the season for Trufant. A lot went wrong for the Falcons during their 4-12 season, but Trufant wasn't one of them. Drafted in the 1st round, he started all 16 games, finishing with 70 tackles, 2 INT, 15 PBU, 1 FF, and 1 FR.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Boom Mode

Bidding for its 3rd correct prediction of the Super Bowl winner in 6 tries, my crystal ball (CB, for short) advised you last September to put your money on the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl following the 2013 NFL season. And for the longest time last season it looked like CB was going to be right. But as we all know, it didn't happen, thanks to that team from the Northwest. After Super Bowl 48 was over, all the confetti was falling on the Seattle Seahawks, celebrating their no-doubt-about-it 43-8 drubbing of the Broncos.

Marshawn Lynch, as usual, was in Beast Mode for the Seahawks' offense in 2013; and the Seattle defense was definitely in Boom Mode - as in the Legion of Boom, the nickname given to group of players in the team's all-star secondary. Richard Sherman repeated as a 1st team all-Pro. Earl Thomas three-peated as a 1st team all-Pro. Kam Chancellor, a 232-pound safety no receiver wants to get hit by (just ask the Broncos) earned a 2nd team nod on the all-Pro team. And when the 4th member of the legion, Brandon Browner, was suspended (controversially) late in the season, Byron Maxwell took his place and played just as effectively (if not as physically). It was a secondary that allowed the fewest yards passing and had the most interceptions in the league. 

CB actually got it right that the Seahawks would finish the regular season with the best record in the NFC, but it got little else right in yet another year mostly clueless predicting.

Friday, August 29, 2014

DG45 - Revisited

Back in the early days of the house of dread - back when it took me 2 hours to do a dread gallery instead of 2 weeks, and back when Yardbarker was a popular way for pro athletes to interact with fans (before Twitter came along and became a far more popular way) - I ventured into the world of college football recruiting (which is practically a sport all by itself) when I posted DG45 a month or so after National Signing Day (Feb. 4) in 2009. I quickly checked the websites of a few newspapers along with internet coverage of the Under Armour All-America game trying to find as many photos as I could of high school players with dreads that had just chosen the college teams they were going to be playing for. I had no idea how much (if any) interest there would be. It was the first DG I did that didn't feature action photos. As it turned out - and much to my amazement - DG45 became the most popular DG I did.

Five years have passed since then, and the 51 players I featured have now finished their college careers. So I thought it would be a good time to see how they - and their dreads - are doing after all this time. While I knew back then that several of the players were expected to be stars, most of them I had never heard of before and had no clue how they would perform. As it turned out, 11 of them have already made it to the NFL (one of those has already been cut), and another 5 are rookies currently in NFL training camps. Several had very good college careers, while several others didn't finish at the same schools they started. Some are ex-dreads (of course). One was shot after finishing his career.

So, with all the details and updates - and without any further delay - here once again is dread gallery #45 - five years later.

1. Wearing a hat like that, there's only one school that Trent Richardson could be signing with - and it ain't Auburn!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

DG154

Concluding our look at action from College Basketball '14, dread gallery #154 focuses mostly on the teams with more than one player with dreads - specifically, Nebraska, Lamar, VCU, and Louisiana Tech - and on a player who had no choice but to excel in basketball from the day his parents named him ...... Jordair.

1. Jordair Jett, 6-1, 215-pound senior G for Saint Louis U, has his eyes on the rim while driving between F Ryan Rhoomes (#30) and G Mandell Thomas of Fordham during 1st half on Jan. 18. Jett had a better game than his season averages, finishing with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists as Saint Louis improved to 17-2 with a 70-48 home victory.

Monday, August 18, 2014

DG153

Dreads on teams in the Pac-12, SEC, and MAC, as well as four of the starters on my dread all-America team are the feature attractions in dread gallery #153, the second of three DGs covering the 2013-14 season in college basketball.
We'll begin with the MAC. There were 4 players with dreads on teams in the MAC this season, and two of them earned all-conference honors .....

1. One of the two, 6-9 Ohio junior F Maurice N'dour puts up a shot against G Jaryd Eustace of Miami (Ohio) during a game on Feb. 8. N'dour, a native of Senegal, had 14 points and 8 rebounds as Ohio picked up an 82-75 home victory.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DG152

Football season is knocking at the door; but in the house of dread it's still basketball season - and it will continue to be for as long as it takes me to finish these next three dread galleries. That won't be long, though, because in an attempt to save time I'm trying something different: I'm only going to post the photos; it'll be up to you to figure out who everybody is!

Seriously though, as we take a look at the recently (?) concluded 2013-14 College Basketball season in DG152, DG153, and DG154, for most of the photos I just didn't take the time to research the exact points of the game when the photos were taken; so I guess you'll have to use your imagination. Although I'm doing only half as many dread galleries as last season, I will have at least one photo of every player with dreads in Division 1 that I know of; and I'll be including this season's stats for most of them. (If I don't list a player's stats, it means they were already listed in the dread news report I did three weeks ago.)

Let's begin dread gallery #152 in the Big 12.

1. D.J. Johnson, a 6-9, 250-pound sophomore F for Kansas State, grabs a rebound against G Jeff Mullahey of Troy during 2nd half on Dec. 15. Johnson had 7 rebounds and 3 points in 18 minutes as the Wildcats rolled to a 72-43 home win over Troy, part of their 7-0 December.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

DG151 - Part 1

From the moment he first put on a South Carolina uniform in September 2011 and started living up to the huge amount of hype he received in high school, it quickly became obvious that Jadeveon Clowney was going to be the 1st pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. And so it indeed came to pass, finally becoming official on the evening of May 8, 2014. Even after his overanalyzed, overcriticized, disappointing, injury-plagued junior season with the Gamecocks, the Houston Texans decided he was worth taking with their 1st overall selection in the draft. And with good reason. In today's pass-happy NFL, having a good defense begins with having a great pass rusher. And that's Clowney's specialty. He has the potential to be one of the best pass rushers the league has ever seen. The Texans are counting on it, while all the rest of the teams in the AFC are hoping he never reaches that potential.

Clowney's selection at #1 marks the first time a player with dreads has been the first player selected in the NFL Draft (it was bound to happen sooner or later). Previously the highest anybody with dreads had been selected was 3rd overall, which happened three times - Larry Fitzgerald in 2004, Tyson Jackson in 2009, and Trent Richardson in 2012. In addition to Clowney there were 27 other players with dreads drafted, including six selected in the 1st round (photo below) - five of whom were on hand in person to take that walk across the stage and be greeted by Commissioner Goodell. In dread gallery #151 we'll look at all the rookies with dreads currently in training camp hoping to be on their teams' rosters on opening day.

DG151 - Part 2

And now, the second half of dread gallery #151, featuring rookies on teams in the two South divisions as well as the AFC West.

We finished part 1 with a look at Brandon Dixon, so we'll begin part 2 with his twin brother, Brian Dixon.

1. He was not drafted, as was his brother, but CB Brian Dixon faces the same difficult task of trying to win a roster spot - although not with the same team as his brother - after signing with the New Orleans Saints, here participating in his first practice on May 16.

Monday, July 21, 2014

College BB '14 Dread News

Well, they weren't exactly the kind of dreads I had in mind; but technically, yes, they were dreads. And so, the drought is finally over. It seems like every year when I do this report I end up lamenting that there has never been a player with dreads in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament; but there has been one now. Of course, if you were one of the thousands of fans at AT&T Stadium with seats so far away from the court that all the players looked like ants, or even if you were watching at home and don't have a HD television, then it was very difficult to notice the beginner dreads on the head of Kentucky freshman F James Young. In case you never did notice, you are looking at the proof - one of the dozens of photos taken of Young during the championship game on Apr. 7.

With teams like Colorado, Saint Louis, VCU, Memphis, and Nebraska - teams with players whose dreads are much easier to notice - all not making it past the first weekend of the tournament, I figured the drought would continue for yet another year. But then I saw Young during Kentucky's 3rd round game against Wichita State.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

College FB '13 House Calls

There were 9 teams in Division 1 that had 20 or more of their touchdowns scored by players with dreads during the 2013 season; but only two of them had 30 or more. And those two just happened to be on opposing sidelines in the final game of the season. Florida State was victorious over Auburn 34-31 in the BCS title game back in January; but it was the Tigers edging the Seminoles in the competition for the most TD by players with dreads - and almost by the exact same score as the game, with Auburn's 33 TD finishing two better than FSU's final total.

Thanks mostly to Tre Mason (scoring the last of the 33 TD on a 37-yard run with 1:19 remaining in the title game in photo above), the crown for the team with the most TD scored by players with dreads remains in the state of Alabama for the 3rd consecutive season, with Auburn following 1st place finishes by Alabama State (34 TD) in 2012 and Alabama (35 TD) in 2011.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

College FB '13 Dread News - Bowl Review (Part 1)

The season began with the matchup of the teams I thought might finish first and second in the total number of touchdowns scored by players with dreads (Georgia-Clemson) and it ended with a game between the two teams that actually were first and second. I haven't added up the exact team totals yet; but when I do, it likely will confirm that Florida State and Auburn were the only teams with more than 30 TD by players with dreads this season. Both the Seminoles and Tigers added two more TD to their totals in a barn burner of a BCS title game won by FSU 34-31 on Jan. 6 at Pasadena, CA.
An SEC team had won the BCS title game 7 straight years, and for a long time it looked like Auburn was going to make it 8. But after being held to one touchdown on their first 10 possessions of the game, the Seminoles found the end zone on their last two and added a special teams TD as they scored 21 points in the 4th quarter to pull out the victory that capped an undedeated, 14-0 season. Auburn, which had won 9 games in a row, finished at 12-2.

College FB '13 Dread News - Bowl Review (Part 2)

With 5 of the 9 wide receivers who made this season's all-America with dreads team either being seniors or underclassmen who entered the NFL draft, it figured to be a wide open race for spots on the 2014 team. And now that race will be even more up for grabs after the disheartening discovery that two players who very likely would have filled a couple of those spots are no longer eligible to be considered for the team. Much to my disappointment, shortly after playing in their teams' bowl games, seniors-to-be Jameon Lewis of Mississippi State and Rannell Hall of UCF cut off their long dreads that we've enjoyed seeing so much during the last three seasons. So instead of writing about both of their fantastic bowl performances with a lot of excitement, it'll feel more like a eulogy.
Lewis put in a serious bid for head dread honors, setting both new Mississippi State and Liberty Bowl records for most yards receiving in a game.

College FB '13 Dread News - Bowl Review (Part 3)


Continuing now with the rest of the dread gallery section of the final dread news report for 2013 .....

46. Sophomore RB Todd Gurley of Georgia throws out a stiff-arm while trying to shake senior DE Jason Ankrah of Nebraska on 3rd and 6 on the 2nd play of 2nd quarter in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1 at Jacksonville. Ankrah stopped Gurley 1 yard short of the first down at the NU 31-yard line, but the Bulldogs converted on 4th and 1 and went on to kick a FG 6 plays later to take a 3-0 lead. Ankrah finished with 5 tackles (3-2), including 2 sacks, and had a FF in his final game before hopefully moving on to the NFL.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Know Your Muck

They didn't teach it at any of the schools I went to, so the first I ever heard of the muck - the rich, dark soil abundant in the area around Lake Okeechobee in Florida - was in a Sports Illustrated article many years ago.Years later (but still several years ago) there was an article in USA Today mentioning how unusual it was that so many NFL players would come from the same high school in such a small town - that town being Belle Glade - located at the southeast end of the lake - and the school being Glades Central HS. Although those articles certainly caught my eye, neither prompted me to do any further research. But when I started this blog back in August 2008 and discovered that at least half of all football players with dreads come from Florida, that's when I began to take notice.

According to Wikipedia, Muck City is the nickname for both Belle Glade and the surrounding area; and as you may already know, it's an area known for being equally rich in football as it is in soil. The high schools in Belle Glade (population 17,467) and Pahokee (13 miles to the north, population 5,649) have sent close to two dozen players to the NFL and dozens of others to college football teams across the country - an extraordinary feat for an area with so few people. Indeed, the annual football game between Glades Central and Pahokee HS has become such a big event that it is dubbed "The Muck Bowl" and was featured in a series the NFL Network did a couple of years ago on great HS rivalries.

You may recall I very briefly referred to Muck City in my preview of the 2013 NFL draft. Well, before we get started with this year's preview, you are hereby challenged to take the following quiz to find out just how well you ..... know your muck.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

DG150 - Part 1

I hope you weren't too disappointed, but last summer was the first summer since I began this blog that I did not do a dread news report on baseball. I spent too much time on basketball and by the time I was finished, it was already time to start getting ready for football. Honestly though, you didn't miss anything. If I had done a report, it would have been a lot of moaning and groaning about what a lousy season it was. With one exception - the brilliantly bright exception by the name of Andrew McCutchen - there was a lot of darkness in the house of dread when it came to MLB's players with dreads in 2013.

After both performed poorly in 2012, I thought things couldn't get any worse for the Weeks brothers. They did. Johnny Cueto spent most of the season on the disabled list before finishing it with a humiliating defeat. Eric Young and Carlos Santana had dreads when the season began but not when it was over. Ervin Santana actually pitched well but still somehow managed to end up with a losing record. Prince Fielder did well too, but he certainly has done better. And the woe didn't end when the season did, as three more players joined Young and Carlos Santana on the ex-dread list during the offseason.

DG150 - Part 2

Part 1 of my annual baseball DG featured three players who sadly are now on the ex-dread list - Eric Young, Carlos Santana, and Prince Fielder - as well as the four MLB pitchers with dreads in 2013. Now let's begin part 2 with the Weeks brothers.

In 2012 Milwaukee Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks and his younger brother, Oakland Athletics 2B Jemile Weeks, seemed to be playing their own version of "How low can you go?" - as in how low can your batting average go? Jemile ended up 'winning' the competition, finishing at .221 to .230 for Rickie. Of course, Jemile might complain it was an unfair competition since he didn't get to play the whole season after being demoted to the minors in late August. When spring training 2013 began, they both hoped to put 2012 far behind in the rear view mirror, as is mentioned in this article from MLB.com: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130217&content_id=41732402&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb ..... Well, at least that was the plan.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2013 College Football Dread All-America

Not only in the house of dread do we honor the players with dreads who are great players, we also honor those who have great dreads. My last post was a list of (mostly) star players with dreads. This one is all about the dreads. My 6th annual Dread All-America team recognizes the sickest dreads on Saturdays in Division 1 for the 2013 season, no matter if the players actually contributed very much on the field or not. There will be a lot of familiar heads of dreads, as 37 of the 59 returning players from the 2012 team are repeat selections on this season's team.

You know, growing dreadlocks long enough to extend far outside your helmet takes a very long time. And I truly respect and appreciate those who patiently put in the time, waiting years to let their dreads grow on their own. But we do not discriminate against those who can't wait to look great. So as always, this year's dread all-Americans include many players who added extensions to make their own dreads longer.

2013 College Football Dread All-America (Part 2)


For the most part players on teams in the FCS section of Division 1 just aren't as good as those on FBS teams; but that's not true when it comes to dreads. The dreads in the FCS this season, as usual, did not take a back seat to those in the FBS. Here now are the 2013 FCS Dread All-Americans.

FCS

1st TEAM OFFENSE
  • OL Norman Booker - Hampton - SOPH
  • OL Vincent Harper - Hampton - SR
  • OL Randall Harris (1) - Towson - SR
  • OL Quevalas Murray - Western Carolina - SR
  • OL Billy Turner - North Dakota State - SR
  • TE Wesley Samuels - Tennessee State - SR
  • WR Tikeem Platt (1) - Hampton - SOPH
  • WR Frank Thomas - Bethune-Cookman - SOPH
  • RB Jacobi Green (2) - Richmond - SOPH
  • RB Darion Hall - Tennessee State - JR
  • QB Nico Flores - Norfolk State - SR
  • KR Tay Willis - Southern Illinois - JR
The top (and only?) NFL prospect on the 1st team is Billy Turner (photo above), a 4-year starter at left OT for North Dakota State, which won the FCS championship during his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2013 College Football All-America with dreads

"It's not at all out of the question that at least a dozen FBS running backs with dreads will top the 1,000-yard mark by the end of the season."

Well, as it turned out, all of the running backs with dreads on FBS teams couldn't quite live up to that lofty prediction I made in my Week 2 report back in September. Nevertheless it was an outstanding season for many of them, as there were 8 who rushed for more than 1,000 yards; and it would've been 9 if Todd Gurley hadn't lost his helmet against South Carolina in Week 2 (photo on right), forcing the play to be blown dead while he still had a chance to gain some more yards.

Of the 10 conferences in the FBS, three had a RB with dreads earn 1st team all-conference honors, and three others had RBs with dreads on their 2nd team all-conference list. In the FCS there were 5 running backs with dreads who made 1st team all-conference. In all of Division 1, there was at least one RB with dreads who earned all-league honors in 14 of the 22 conferences.

Of course, on my 6th annual All-America with dreads team, we recognize all of the outstanding players with dreads, not just the RBs. It's a list of who I thought were college football's best players with dreads during the recently completed 2013 season.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 22

We've all heard it hundreds of times before; but let's all say it again. Everybody ....

DEFENSE .... WINS .... CHAMPIONSHIPS.

Just ask the Denver Broncos. From the moment they took the field on opening night and routed the defending champ Baltimore Ravens 49-27, it seemed like the Broncos were destined to end the 2013 season raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Nobody could stop their prolific offense. Led by QB Peyton Manning's 55 TD passes (a new NFL record), the Broncos scored more points in the regular season this season than any team ever before - 606. (By comparison, the Chicago Bears were 2nd in scoring with 445 points.) Not once were they held under 20 points. Even in their 3 losses they scored 33, 31, and 20 points. Dominating the league's best defense in Super Bowl 48 was to be the crowning achievement for the Broncos' offense, leaving no doubt that they were the greatest offense of all time.

And then the game started ..... Wow. You know, I wasn't a bit surprised that the Seahawks won; but my goodness, you could have won a lot of money if you had bet me that they would hold the Broncos to one touchdown. That's right, with the championship on the line, the league's best offense ever scored one measly TD. The final score of 43-8 in favor of the Seahawks likely had viewers turning the game off well before it ended; everywhere except in Seattle, that is, where the Lombardi Trophy now resides and where the fans are celebrating the team's first ever championship.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

College BB '14 - First Look

College basketball does not have a comeback player of the year award; but if there was such an award, you'd find one of this year's leading contenders for it playing his senior season in the MAC - more specifically, in northeast Ohio. Through nobody's fault but his own, Quincy Diggs was suspended last season - not just from the team, but from school altogether - at Akron, a devastating blow to a player who is planning on playing pro basketball after finishing college. After sulking for a couple of weeks when his suspension went into effect in September 2012, Diggs, who had already transferred once (from New Orleans to Akron), decided his best course of action was to not transfer again and instead stay and try to get himself un-suspended.

But the road back would not be easy. No longer on scholarship, Diggs had to get a job; and on top of that he needed to take a bunch of classes online so that he would have enough credits to be eligible once his suspension ended. As a result, according to the story on Diggs from 6 weeks ago in the Akron Beacon Journal (link below) he ended up putting in some 22-hour days. But when you want to play as badly as he did, you have no other choice.

http://www.ohio.com/sports/zips/marla-ridenour-ua-s-quincy-diggs-rebounds-from-suspension-year-in-basketball-exile-1.455104


Sunday, February 2, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 21

Just to make one thing clear - I don't have anything against New York. It may have sounded that way in last week's report, but really I don't. The only reason I'm against the Super Bowl being played there is that I strongly believe the outcome of the NFL's championship game shouldn't be given the chance to be affected or determined by adverse weather. If MetLife Stadium had been built with a dome or retractable roof over it, the decision to have the Super Bowl in the NYC metro area would have been a no-brainer. But it wasn't; so the NFL has been holding its breath, hoping the game can be played on schedule and without any disruption by the weather.
It's no secret - bad weather changes the way football is played. While other outdoor sports run for cover when it gets too wet or too cold for play to continue, football plays on, having no problem whatsoever with the fact that bad weather changes everything, from game planning to the type of cleats you wear and everything in between.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 20

On January 30, 1994, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 at the Georgia Dome in Super Bowl 28. "And just what does this have to do with dreads?" .... you ask. Nothing, of course. But I'm mentioning this because it was the last time a team played in the Super Bowl after having lost in the previous season's Super Bowl, as the Bills had also lost in Super Bowl 27, to Dallas 52-17. Ever since then, the team losing the Super Bowl seems to always be under some sort of jinx the following season. Coming into the 2013 season, of the last 19 teams to lose the Super Bowl, only one had so much as gotten to the conference championship game the next year. That was last year, when New England - losers to the N.Y. Giants in Super Bowl 46 - was denied a return trip to the Super Bowl by Baltimore. Before that, nine Super Bowl losers didn't even make the playoffs the following year, and the other nine lost in either the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs.

Enter the 2013 San Francisco 49ers, losers of last year's Super Bowl to the Ravens in that 34-31 thriller. Having already won on the road at Green Bay and Carolina the last two weeks, the 49ers were poised to snap the streak of futility by Super Bowl losers as they took on the Seahawks last Sunday. But instead, they found out just how powerful this jinx is.
Beset by injuries to key players, several bad calls by the game officials, and ultimately too many mistakes of their own doing, the 49ers became the 20th straight Super Bowl loser to fail to get back the next year. Much to their dismay, it was Richard Sherman and the Seahawks raising the George Halas Trophy (photo above), claiming the NFC championship after dealing the 49ers a crushing and heartbreaking 23-17 defeat at Seattle.
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 19

The NFL world is back to normal, once again spinning on its proper axis - at least for this season, anyway. The cream rose to the top last weekend as 3 of the 4 teams that earned byes for the 1st round of the playoffs won their 2nd round games at home to advance to the conference championship round. And the one team still alive that didn't have a 1st round bye - the 49ers - certainly would have gotten one if they weren't in the same division as the Seahawks. The four winners in the 2nd round are arguably (and it would be a pretty strong argument) the two best teams in each conference, so CBS and Fox no doubt are very happy, because New England at Denver for the AFC title and San Francisco at Seattle for the NFC crown figure to be highly competitive games that draw huge TV ratings.

6 of the 8 teams in action last weekend have at least one running back with dreads. The only two that don't met at Denver, where the Broncos held off the San Diego Chargers 24-17. There were plenty of chances for the Chargers to win this game, but they didn't take advantage of enough of them to pull off the upset. For example, after the Chargers punted on their opening drive, they had a chance to stop the Broncos' first drive. But on 1st down from the San Diego 29-yard line, CB Shareece Wright dropped what should have been an easy interception, keeping the drive alive. 6 plays later Denver led 7-0. The Chargers' D did get the turnover on the Broncos' second drive, recovering a fumble after S Jahleel Addae stripped the ball from TE Julius Thomas just before he hit the ground (photo below) at the SD 45-yard line. But again the Chargers failed to take advantage, missing a FG attempt on their ensuing possession. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 18


In only one of the four 1st round playoff games did the team playing at home have a better record than their opponent, so I guess it's not very surprising that only one home team won last weekend. Ever since New England won back-to-back Super Bowls after going 14-2 in both 2003 and 2004, 6 of the last 8 Super Bowl winners have been teams that did not get a 1st round bye. If that trend continues this season, that means either the Colts, Saints, Chargers, or 49ers will be raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy three weeks from now. Which one will it be? 

The Indianapolis Colts were the only home team to advance to round 2, and they had to come back from the dead  before barely defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44. Despite finishing 11-5, the Chiefs didn't really beat any teams that were any good during the regular season. Only one of their 11 victories came against a team that finished with a winning record, and even that victory wasn't all that impressive because the Eagles weren't very good back in Week 3 when the Chiefs beat them. Whenever they played a good team, they lost, and that includes a 23-7 home loss to the Colts in Week 16. I thought the Chiefs were certainly very capable of beating a good team; but until they actually did it, it was hard to get very excited about all their success.
Well, the Chiefs are still looking for that victory over a quality team after incredibly blowing a four-touchdown lead in the 1-point loss at Indianapolis last Saturday. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 17

I believe I have reached a new low. In each of the first four years of this blog I was able to do at least a couple of weekly reports on the NFL during the season. But this year? Nothing - until now, that is, with the whole regular season already finished. Yes, I'm very disappointed that I haven't done anything yet. Yes, I still very much enjoy doing this blog. But there are only 24 hours in every day; and as long as that remains true I'm not going to have enough time to do all the things I want to do in this blog. Since I have chosen to emphasize college football, the NFL has to take a back seat.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention. By now you probably know that I love watching the Falcons, Chiefs, Bears, and Jaguars every week. But there are so many commercial breaks during NFL telecasts that I'm able to switch channels often enough to usually catch at least a little action from every game. Coming into Week 17 the Kansas City Chiefs were the only team that knew its playoff fate. At 11-4, they had clinched 2nd place in the AFC West as well as the #1 AFC wild card spot. The four AFC division champions had already been crowned, but their records were so close that none of them knew how they would be seeded for the playoffs. The #2 AFC wild card spot was a free-for-all. Over in the NFC, only 3 of the 6 playoff spots had been clinched, and none of the four division champions had been determined.

It must have been exasperating being a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals as those two teams tried to earn a spot in the playoffs. Ultimately they both failed to make it, and how they failed to make it was nothing short of fascinating. The Cardinals, 9-5 after Week 15, needed to win their final 2 games AND have at least one of these three things to happen: either the Panthers lose to the Saints, the 49ers lose to the Falcons, or the Saints lose to the Buccaneers. Despite 2 interceptions by Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, the Cardinals kept hope alive with a 17-10 win at Seattle in Week 16, the Seahawks' 1st loss at home this season. But the help they needed elsewhere didn't materialize. It looked like the Panthers were going to lose to the Saints; but instead they scored a TD with 23 seconds to go to defeat the Saints. Then it looked like the 49ers, a 14-point favorite, were going to lose at home to the Falcons; but instead with the Falcons down by 3, QB Matt Ryan threw an interception (returned for a TD) on 2nd and 1 from the 49ers' 10-yard line with 1:10 remaining in the game.