Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ultimate 2010 College Football Road Trip: Week 4

Trevor Replogle, Mid-Atlantic Sports

We've completed one-fifth of our Ultimate College Football Road Trip.

During our first three contests we've seen two outstanding games and the No. 1 team in the county in Alabama (see results below).

Last week we traveled to Athens, GA, where we saw a barnburner between Georgia and Arkansas. Ryan Mallett threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Greg Childs with just 15 seconds left in the game to give the Razorbacks a thrilling 31-24 win over their SEC rivals.

Mallett finished the game with 380 yards passing and three touchdowns and etched his name on the Heisman Trophy candidate list.

This week we stay in the SEC, where No. 12 South Carolina (3-0) visits No. 17 Auburn (3-0). Both teams have tons of talent, and both have struggled against lesser opponents. Last week South Carolina struggled against Furman (38-19) and didn't put the game away until late in the fourth quarter. Auburn edged Mississippi State by three points two weeks ago and had to wait till overtime to knock off Clemson 27-24.

South Carolina is led by freshman running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore has rushed for over 300 yards this season and is averaging nearly five yards per carry. Auburn will have to slow him down to stay in the game.

The Tigers are led by junior QB Cameron Newton. Newton leads the team in both rushing and passing yards (309, 525). Newton also has one reception on the year.

Last week's SEC matchup was outstanding, and this game has that same potential. Tune in to ESPN at 7:45 to see this week's game of the week.

Other key games this week:

No. 19 Miami at Pittsburgh: Thursday at 7:30, ESPN

Former Big East rivals will battle it out in the 'Burgh. There will be no love lost between these two teams.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas: 3:30 CBS

Ryan Mallett and the high-flying Razorbacks will host the top team in the land. This will be Alabama's toughest game of the season so far.

No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State: 8:00 ABC

Boise State will look to make another positive impression nationally when it hosts Oregon State on the smurf turf. This is a must win game for the Broncos if they have any hopes for a BCS title game.

No. 22 West Virginia at No. 15 LSU: 9:00 ESPN2

Two Top 25 teams will battle it out in the Bayou when the Big East visits the SEC. Two potent offenses should make this a great game.

Past results:

Week 1: Boise State 33, Virginia Tech 30

Week 2: Alabama 24, Penn State 3

Week 3: Arkansas 31, Georgia 24

Friday, September 17, 2010

Will Pitt Avoid A Pitfall?

By Garrett Dodson

The early portion of the 2010 season has presented many challenges to the Pitt football team. So far, they lost potential 1st round draft pick Greg Romeus, who is sidelined for the majority of the season with a back injury. The offensive line has struggled, replacing three starters. Dion Lewis is averaging 2.5 yards per rush. Conservative play calling has been an issue, knowing they had a chance to beat Utah in regulation. Instead, they settled for a tie, and eventually lost in overtime. The schedule over the next three weeks is not favorable with Miami and Notre Dame with Florida International sandwiched in between. With the current struggles, going into conference play at 2-3 is very likely. Going 3-2 is a slim possibility. But having a record of 4-1 entering into Big East conference play is very unlikely, unless there are drastic improvements. Here are my suggestions on the improvements.

1) Be aggressive and play to win. Pick you spots and take chances down field with Jon Baldwin. When Pitt fell behind at Utah, they began looking for Baldwin more often and converted successfully.

2) With the struggles on the offensive line, use the shot gun formation like the first couple of series against New Hampshire. Instead of running Dion up the middle, utilize the screen and short passing plays. Having Ray Graham healthy will help, having good speed to get around the corner. Dion is a tackle to tackle type running back, but the struggles with the interior line have hampered him.

3) Having a Greg Romeus go down with an injury is not always a bad thing. It gives guys like Brandon Lindsey and Shane Hayle an opportunity to shine. Lindsey had two sacks in lasts week’s game against New Hampshire.

Can Pitt avoid a pitfall, or go into conference play with losing record? Or will they rise up and face the challenges. Adversity, challenges, and resistance will either do two things. It will defeat you, or it can empower and motivate you to overcome. The outcome is a choice and not luck or chance.

Weeks 1 and 2 of the Football Season

By Jori Houck
Student Writer

I'm pretty surprised at the first few weeks of football. Some games were predictable, some so-so and some downright painful to watch.

I'll start with HS football. I'm set up with my own seat in the NB press box, so I get to make my true sports reporting debut. I didn't get as many notes as I wanted because it was a big game for NB vs. Glendale and everyone from the local media was there in the box and it was quite crowded and only my first game of the season, so I tried taking some mental notes, but I had a hard time remembering them so I'll just give my opinions on the game. I promise I'll have some good notes for next week.

The game was highly anticipated and was a matchup of a couple of the top teams in the ICC. NB started out with a great drive and would've been stalled if not for a costly Glendale penalty. NB scored on the drive I believe. Glendale wasn't fazed though and quickly fired out a pass and outran the NB defenders to make the score 7-6 after missing the extra point.

The Panther running game was very strong, trampling Glendale. The passing game wasn't really on display except for a few plays here and there, but they also showed their stuff. At one point I remember NB picking off what might've been a touchdown in the endzone right before halftime I think. As the game wore on, Glendale wore down due to the dominant Panther defense. At the very end of the game, Glendale QB Tyler Jenny rifled a pass to the endzone. It was surprisingly caught and made the final score of the game 28-18 and made NB 2-0 heading in to a Week 3 game with Everett. The Warriors shouldn't be a problem.

College football was pretty fun to watch. In Week 1, Boise beat VT, most other high profile teams played cupcakes, but UConn and Pitt played respectable opponents in Michigan and Utah. UConn was favored to beat UM, but the defense couldn't stop UM QB Denard Robinson and they lost 38-10. Pitt also lost but by a smaller point total. Utah won on a field goal to win 24-21.

Week 2 was muuuuch more fun. VT played FCS team James Madison. HOKIES WIN 72-0!!! Nope. James Madison handed VT a shocking loss, 21-16. Florida State was throttled by Oklahoma after many thought was a winnable game for FSU after a poor showing by OU vs. Utah State in Week 1. Ohio State forced Miami QB Jacory Harris into throwing 4 picks en route to a 34-26 win by OSU. West Virginia almost fell victim to in-state rival Marshall. UConn wiped out Texas Southern 62-3 to bounce back from the Michigan loss, and Michigan edged Notre Dame 28-24.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why I Love (And Hate) Preseason Football

By Jori Houck
Student Writer

Preseason football: What comes to mind when you see that? The beginning of another great football season? Fall? Who cares? Well, all of these can pretty much describe my feelings towards preseason football.

Sure, we've been all dying for football season to start, and I'll be the first to admit I'll take preseason football over none at all, but something about it gives me a 'boring' vibe.

First, I'll explain why I love it... ROOKIES!!!! The preseason is a great time to see how your favorite college players are doing in the pros, or for that matter, just comparing them against other rookies. Most of the time, rookies aren't first-team offense or defense, so they won't play much during the season, barring an injury.

Second, it can be quite entertaining watching players compete for roster spots, even though starters are mostly decided already. Third, its great to see how the bottom-dwellers have improved (or gotten worse). You can see how the stars of the league react to new teams, players, coaches, etc. So you get my point.

Now, why I hate it. Injuries. Seems like someone always gets hurt in the preseason. This year's big injury was ElvisDumervil. The starters don't play much for safety reasons but it still should be a little more entertaining considering we've been starving for football all summer. When you do get a player that does play for more than a few series, they take them out right in the middle of a great drive or defensive possession. You think you'll get to see some action, then you get a stalled drive or a blown defensive stand.

Either way you view it, its still football!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Navy Outlasts Georgia Southern

Trevor Replogle
Mid-Atlantic Sports

Coming into Saturday afternoon’s contest with Georgia Southern, the Navy football team was ready to put last Monday’s 17-14 upset to Maryland behind them. What most people didn’t expect was that they would be in a dogfight against an FCS opponent like the Eagles.

Georgia Southern’s football team is led by new head coach Jeff Monken, a disciple of Paul Johnson and his option offense. Monken and his Eagles used that knowledge against Navy and took the game to the wire before falling 13-7 in front of 33,391 fans and a CBS College Sports television audience.

Georgia Southern won the coin toss, but in Navy fashion, deferred to the second half. Alexander Teich took the kickoff, found a seam, and returned the ball 55 yards to the Georgia Southern 36 yard line. Over the next 6:44, Navy proceeded to run 10 plays and gained only 35 yards and settled for an 18-yard FG by Joe Buckley on a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line.

Niumatalolo was asked whether he considered going for the TD after getting stuffed in a similar situation against Maryland that ended Navy’s chances at getting the win.

“I did consider it, but I wanted to have something positive come out of that opening drive,” said Niumatalolo.

Buckley connected on a 42 yarder to give Navy the 6-0 lead with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter.

With the Eagles gaining more confidence as the game went on, Georgia Southern attempted a fake punt on a fourth and five from their own 39. They direct snapped the ball to upman Tobi Akinniranye, but the play was busted up by John Howell after just a one yard gain.

Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs completed a twelve yard pass to Aaron Santiago and carried the ball 5 times and 18 yards including a one yard TD plunge to give the Mids a 13-0 lead.

Buddy Green’s defense held Georgia Southern’s option offense to just 2 first downs and 23 total yards in the first half.

Niumatalolo was also pleased with the defense’s performance.

“It was a great job by our defense. It wasn’t just the guys getting tackles, it was all who forced the ball to someone else.”

Similarly to Navy’s opening drive of the first half, Georgia Southern found success in the second. Laron Scott took the kickoff 49 yards into Navy territory and set up the offense to cut into Navy’s lead. Robert Brown and Jaybo Shaw were the workhorses of the drive. Brown carried five times for 24 yards and Shaw tossed a 17 yard touchdown drive to J.J. Wilcox to cut Navy’s lead to 6.

Neither team was able score and the game ended in Navy’s favor 13-7. Both teams records are even at 1-1.

Navy travels to Louisiana Tech next week and Georgia Southern travels to Coastal Carolina.

Navy 13 - Georgia Southern 7

Georgia Southern took the opening kickoff of the second half 49 yards to the Navy 49 yard line. In a very Navy-like manner, they held the ball for 5:52 and methodically moved the ball 49 yards on 10 plays capping off the drive with a 17 yard touchdown pass from Jaybo Shaw to J.J. Wilcox. Navy now leads 13-7 with 9:08 remaining in the third quarter.

Navy 13 - Georgia Southern 0

Navy capped off an 8-play, 40-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run by Ricky Dobbs to give Navy a 13-0 lead with 1:07 remaining in the first half.

With the TD, Dobbs has scored at least one rushing TD in each of his 15 starts for the Midshipmen. For his career Dobbs now has 37 rushing touchdowns, tieing former Texas QB Vince Young for 19th in the all-time NCAA rushing TDs for a QB.

Navy 6 - Georgia Southern 0

Billy Yarborough recovered a Georgia Southern fumble on the Eagle 25 yard line. The GS defense held Navy to 1 yard on 4 plays and Joe Buckley kicked a 42 yard field goal to give Navy a 6-0 lead with 2:07 remaining the first quarter.

Navy 3 - Georgia Southern 0

Navy's Alexander Teich took the opening kickoff to the Georgia Southern 36 yard line. Navy then ran 10 plays, gained 35 yards and took 6:44 off the clock before Joe Buckley kicked an eighteen yard field goal to give Navy the 3-0 lead.

Navy Gameday vs. Georgia Southern

It's a beautiful sunny day in Annapolis and a great day for football. That it's the ninth anniversary of the attacks on 9/11 makes it even more special to be seeing this game. The Mids have just arrived at the stadium and are prepared to take on the Eagles from Georgia Southern at 3:30.