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Archive : August 2010

August 28, 2010

POTTS STILL HAS DOUBTERS

A new, unbiased coaching staff came to town. Two veteran QBs were given a chance to compete for the starting job. The better man was named the starter. And a large...what shall we call it...section? of the fan base is angry.

Despite throwing for more than 3,000 yards and leading the Red Raiders to a phenomenal season last year, Taylor Potts still has (and will continue to have) major critics within his own fan base.

Just wait...the first mistake he makes will be showered with a throng of boos and "we want Sheffield" chants.

Where am I getting this?

The Texas Tech message boards, which (believe it or not) are a very good indicator of a fan base's pulse. Potts has his defenders, but there are enough detractors that we'll hear them loud and clear at the very first Potts' mishap.

Just wanted to throw that out there so you could be listening for it.

It will make me cringe, but it will also make me that much happier when Potts does something that makes all those detractors put their dirty shoes in their mouths. 
  • mark rogers
  • August 28, 2010 4:02 PM

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON IN LESS THAN A WEEK

I can't believe it's here.

College football season is upon us. It's never been more popular. It's never had more stars. It's never been more fun to watch.

Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy are gone. Tech has a new regime. USC isn't ranked in the top 5. Ohio State is ranked 1 or 2 and will once again be a huge disappointment. Case Keenum is a legitimate Heisman contender. Several teams are playing their final years (or two years) with their current conferences. Lane Kiffin, Tommy Tuberville, Jimbo Fisher. No more Mike Leach or Bobby Bowden. College Gameday at 9 AM on Saturdays. Games in HD. Cold weather. Seven layer dip. Texas/OU. 'Bama/Florida. Tech/Houston (Potts vs. Keenum Part II).

First game is Thursday night, then we'll be treated to a slew of games on Saturday. Tech plays Sunday night on ESPN, then we have Boise State and Virginia Tech on Monday night...

..while I was writing that last sentence, a sliver of drool came gooping out of my mouth onto my lap...
  • mark rogers
  • August 28, 2010 3:51 PM

ABILENE HIGH PASSES FIRST TEST OF 2010

Will the Abilene High Eagles have to go 16-0 this year to win state? No.
They can go 12-4 with those four losses coming in the next four non-district games.

So, does last night's 36-27 win over Belton really mean anything? Officially, no. But it does do something for that little voice in the back of everyone's mind that says, "oh you were great when you could sneak up on people, but now that you're on top, the truth will be revealed."

Abilene showed what it is capable of as the #1 team in the nation (according to ESPN) against a top notch QB. They made the plays they needed to make when they needed to make them in order to win.

The last time Abilene High took the field as the defending state champs the year was 1957 and the Eagles had a bunch of first-time starters that no one thought would be able to do anything.

All that team did was go 10-0 in the regular season and knock of a #1 ranked Amarillo Sandies team (which was compared to the 1956 Eagles) in the second round of the playoffs. The 1957 squad lost in the state-semis to eventual champ Highland Park...the winning streak ending at 49.

The only thing similar between that team and this year's team is the fact that they were/are defending champs.

The 1957 team didn't have a #1 "national" ranking. They weren't preparing to play a game on national television. They didn't have to deal with MTV camera crews and being written about in national publications.

All those things only make winning each and every week that much harder.

And I'll give one reason why I think the Eagles have a great shot at repeating, despite everything that is stacked against them:

Their schedule.

Steve Warren is an animal. He could have gone out and scheduled some cream puffs...like how about any team from the district they played in the last two years...but he didn't.

He got two of the best teams in Florida, the second best team in Louisiana, and two of the best teams in Texas. Then they have to play Cooper, Odessa, Permian, Lee and Midland. To say that Coach Warren's team will be battle tested come November 12 is an understatement. Somebody prove me wrong, but I think this may be the toughest, most star-studded schedule in the history of Texas high school football.

I would not be surprised if AHS loses the next four games and STILL wins the championship simply because of the magnitude of the games they will play in the next month.

They have the tools. They have the talent. They have the experience.

If they can handle distractions (or keep handling distractions, I should say) and "take it one game at a time", the 2011 Eagles could find themselves with an even bigger target on their backs...

...as the TWO-time defending state champs.

I can't wait for the rest of the year.
  • mark rogers
  • August 28, 2010 3:30 PM

August 19, 2010

COWBOYS OL CAUSING A FURROWING OF THE EYEBROWS

Kyle Kosier is out with a knee. Marc Colombo is out with a knee. Alex Barron (a guy who has NEVER missed a start) is out. Granted, Barron he's not a starter, but he's supposed to compete for playing time.

Robert Brewster and Montrae Holland will pick up the slack on Saturday against San Diego.

The "furrowing" is due to the fact that the OL is old. Main contributors Colombo, Kosier, Leonard Davis, Andre Gurode, Holland, Barron, Doug Free, and Pat McQuistan (8 guys) have a combined 56 seasons under their belts. An average of seven years per lineman. That's a lot of seasons.

It's a minor concern on August 19, but it could definitely doom the season. If they can stay healthy, it will be one of the best units in football. A couple of injuries and Super Bowl in Dallas will be out of the question.

Everyone send your positive thoughts to the big, fat guys that eat whole cows for breakfast and protect the golden boy, Tony Romo.

TEXAS TECH UPDATES

The team has been hitting more in practices this fall. Something Leach never did. Leach believed in keeping guys injury free. Tuberville believes that you can't be a good defensive team if you don't hit during practice. There haven't been any season-ending injuries to major contributors, but there are a lot of guys banged up right now.

Lyle Leong is a daily appearance on offensive coordinator Neal Brown's tweets. He tweets every few days about guys who did well in practice that day. Leong gets the nod more often than not. He'll be one of the leading WRs this year.

LB Brian Duncan has been named a Butkus Award finalist.

After getting a late start and having the disadvantage of being a "new regime", the Tech coaches have put together an amazing 2011 recruiting class which includes 3 players in the Rivals Top 250. They've only had more than one Top 250 one other time - in 2006 - and only one of the commits actually made it to campus (Michael Crabtree). Tech has a total of 18 commits. To put it in perspective, Texas has 16 commits in the Top 250. OU has 8. Nebraska has 5. So Tech is still not competing with the top dogs, but it's pretty good for them. I mean that as a compliment.
  • mark rogers
  • August 19, 2010 8:23 PM

POTTS HAS THE EARLY LEAD

Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts has taken an early lead in the QB battle being waged on the West Texas plains of Lubbock.

Many reliable sources (including head coach Tommy Tuberville) made the claim that Potts performed better in the team's scrimmage last Saturday. Just about everyone that commented on the QB race said Potts was in the lead...everyone, that is, except for Potts.

He simply said he was out there to have fun and was going to let the coaches worry about how he did. Steven Sheffield, the other QB, was very hard on himself saying he didn't do many things right. He seems to be really pressing.

Potts is relaxed and enjoying himself. That's the way it should be. And that's why I think Potts will get the start on September 5 against SMU (a game that will be shown on ESPN). A starter should be named after the scrimmage this Saturday.

Potts has always had a great perspective of football...it's a game, not his life. When your mom battles cancer when you're in high school, you learn to see things in life as they really are.

You could see this attitude during the bowl game last year. Potts was playing good, thrown a couple of TD passes but was benched. Did he pout? Did he fight with the coach? Did he stop supporting his team? No.

You could see Potts waving towels and screaming encouragement, like he was a redshirt freshman just happy to be in a uniform.

Did he complain when that clown of a coach put "Nick" on the back of his jersey? Did he lash out at the asinine fans who chanted "No More Potts" last year? No.

Say what you will about the "killer instinct" and that Potts doesn't take football seriously enough, but I think that's hogwash at the collegiate level. Tony Romo isn't allowed to blow off losses or bad performances. He's a professional. Football should be all he thinks about.

But Potts, just like he's always done, has taken this early lead because of his great attitude, his work ethic, and his desire to be the best he can be...all with a small dose of perspective.
  • mark rogers
  • August 19, 2010 8:11 PM

August 12, 2010

2010 DALLAS COWBOYS: SUB .500 OR SUPER BOWL BOUND?

It's an interesting question because it could very easily be one or the other depending on one thing: Injuries.

If Dallas can stay healthy, they'll likely contend for a Super Bowl championship. If two or three "stars" get sidelined for a considerable amount of time...the wheels could fall off.

Just this week a writer for the Sporting News said that Dallas is a Super Bowl caliber team while another national writer stated he thought the Cowboys wouldn't win 8 games because of how top heavy the team is. In other words, there are too many stars to try and keep healthy in order for the team to function at its potential.

Considering everyone stays healthy, this is a veteran group which has been in the same system going into its fourth year. It's a team that has tasted playoff success and post-season humiliation. It is scattered with Pro Bowl players and even some potential future Hall of Famers (DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Jon Kitna...just kidding about Kitna).

The first team offense will get a few more snaps together tonight than it did on Sunday. John Phillips injury is a big time loss. He was REALLY coming on strong and primed for a great year.

So what's my prediction? How about this: less than 10 total games lost to injury by our Pro Bowlers = Super Bowl. More than 10 games = .500.

There's a fine line in the NFL between greatness and mediocrity.
  • mark rogers
  • August 12, 2010 7:32 PM

August 6, 2010

GO RANGERS!!

This is an unprecedented time in Texas Rangers baseball history.

It's August. We have a 10 game (TEN GAME) lead on the Angels.

We're 18 games over .500.

We have the best player in the league playing CF and batting third.

We acquired the best pitcher in the league earlier this summer.

We, yes WE, have a legitimate shot at winning the division and possibly playing in the ALCS.

This is exciting. I'll tell you what else is kind of weird - the fact that Cowboys training camp has started and I still care about the Rangers.

That hasn't happened since 1999...11 years ago.

Usually it's Rangers Time in the summer when nothing else is on, then in early August the Cowboys start practicing, college and high school games start, and the Rangers aren't given much more than a box score glance every morning.

Not this year. I'm actually staying up late to watch the West Coast games.

And I know this is a football blog, but the MLB playoffs are designed to favor a 3-man rotation, not a 5-man rotation.

I like Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson, and Tommy Hunter better than a lot of 3-man rotations in the AL right now.

Our set up men are on a ridiculous run (Darren O'Day has the longest active scoreless streak in the league at 23 1/3 innings), and we have the best closer in baseball.

Did I mention the double digit lead over the Angels (who are two games UNDER .500)??

Anyway, there is exactly 1/3 of the season left to play. A lot can still happen, but this sure is fun.

And might I say happy anniversary (on August 4th) to the Nolan Ryan/Robin Ventura beat down...what a great moment in sports.

  • mark rogers
  • August 6, 2010 9:16 AM

18,355 NOT JUST A NUMBER

Emmitt Smith's first yard from scrimmage gained in the NFL was in 1990. It came against the San Diego Chargers at Texas Stadium in a Cowboys win that snapped a 14-game home losing streak.

12 years later, against the Seattle Seahawks, Emmitt would lunge up the middle on a carry very symbolic of his style of grit and determination, clawing and scratching his way to the all-time NFL rushing title.

And two years after that, I watched and wept as Emmitt signed a one-day contract with the Cowboys and retired from the NFL as the greatest running back in the history of the universe.

18,355 total yards. 164 touchdowns (second all-time). 15 seasons. Rookie of the Year. NFL MVP in 1993. Super Bowl 28 MVP, and maybe most importantly...Dancing with the Stars champion, 2006. He carried the ball 4,409 times. He lost 25 fumbles. That's a lost fumble for every 176 carries.

Smith was the final piece of a three-player combination that will forever be known as the Triplets. Michael Irvin was drafted by the Cowboys in 1988. Troy Aikman followed in 1989. Smith came in 1990. And that's the order they will have gone into the NFL Hall of Fame.

The triplets. Three players. Three Super Bowl championships.

He was also the last of a dying breed in an NFL era that was dominated by team loyalty and commitment to one organization. Even though he spent his final two season in an Arizona Cardinals uniform, he never considered himself an Arizona Cardinal. 

Irvin doesn't have any major all-time NFL records. Aikman doesn't either. Smith is the only one with one of the "big records" which I consider touchdowns and yards (rushing, receiving, passing), and wins. In baseball the "big ones" are homeruns, hits, RBIs, and for pitchers, wins, strikeouts, and ERA.

Most people know Jerry Rice scored the most TDs and Brett Favre has thrown for the most yards (and touchdowns, and about fifty other categories), but you may not know (or care) that Morten Anderson has scored the most points in the NFL.

You know that Barry Bonds is the home run king. Nolan Ryan is the strikeout king. Pete Rose is the hits king. But you may not know (or care) that Sam Crawford has the most triples ever.

That's what I mean by the "big records".

And Emmitt is the only of the triplets that has one. All-time rushing leader. And isn't it fitting that the number in the middle of Emmitt's record, the number that holds it all together, is a '3'.

18,355

Emmitt was the cornerstone of the Cowboys 1990s dynasty. He was the one who held it all together. Without Emmitt there would be no Triplets or three Super Bowl wins.

The first Super Bowl win in the 90s (1992) came when I was in the 6th grade. I was just starting to care about professional sports. So those Cowboys teams were my "first love" of what has turned into quite a passion and strong relationship I now have with organized sports.

I started playing football the following season...the one which ended with another Cowboys Super Bowl win. There is a deep and powerful connection between the 1990s Cowboys and me.

Some of my best memories are watching those games with my dad, attending some of those games, talking about those games, wearing Cowboys apparel, and learning what it's like to be obsessed with a sports team.

So when I see replays of Emmitt running through or over guys, or of Aikman running in slow motion with his hand in the air holding up the number 1, or Irvin slamming the ball on the turf and motioning "first down", I have to admit, I get a little choked up.

That was my team. Those were my players.

Just like I watched Aikman and Irving get inducted in Canton, I'll watch Emmitt, too. And as much as I hate to admit it, I'll probably shed a tear or two.

Tears symoblizing some of the best times in Cowboys history, celebrating some of the best memories of my childhood, representing all that is great and signifcant about beating the odds, and accomplishing something great when everyone tells you that you can't.

And you know what? Now that I think about it. I won't shed just a tear or two. I know exactly how many tears I'll shed...

3

  • mark rogers
  • August 6, 2010 8:23 AM