Friday, December 28, 2007

Changing Directions, Again...

It turns out randomness is harder to maintain than I thought.

When I started this blog a few years ago, I figured I could just put my daily musings about music, sports, life, etc. on here and it'd be all good.

What I learned is that a point-of-view and general subject perameters help in coming up with things to write about.

Thus, since this blog has pretty much deteroriated (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) into a neanderthalic sports blog, I'm just giving into that...and since I've spent nearly 3 decades as a miserable Atlanta sports fan, I figured that was the best thing to right about.

So, I'm picking up stakes here, and moving...into that all too familiar locale for Atlanta sports fans: Losersville, USA Where I'll chronicle the sad, seemingly improbable gaffes that have left Atlanta with only 1 major sports championship in some 40 years of top level competition...and maybe find some time to praise those who are trying to help us improve our lot.

Won't you join me?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hawks Start Well, Despite Conspiracy

Seriously, does the NBA not want the Hawks in the playoffs or what? Here's the rundown of their first 6 games:

vs. Mavs (Won 101-94)
at Pistons (Lost 92-91)
at Nets (Lost 87-82)
vs. Suns (Won 105-96)

at Celtics (Nov. 9th)
vs. Wiz (Nov. 11th)

To be 2-2 after that slate of first 4 games in encouraging. Even more encouraging, though, is the fact that, if not for 2 uneven performances against their Eastern mates, they could easily be 3-1 or 4-0.

I guess this is what makes the NBA different than the NFL. With enough high draft picks, you can eventually put together a decent team, especially if you can snag one legitimate All-Star, like Joe Johnson.

This team is pretty much former coach Lenny Wilkens' wet dream, 4 starters who could post a double/double in some form on any given night, and one off the bench in Josh Childress. Marvin Williams, and Al Horford are all capable of being monsters on the glass from their respective positions, and Josh Smith and Joe Johnson could do it in any number of ways.

Safe to say Horford has been a great pick. He's solid on the glass, and plays physical underneath. It also looks like we may finally see the Marvin Williams that was worth passing on Chris Paul for. A shooting guard with a nice touch, rebounding savvy, and the ability to penetrate and draw a foul. Acie Law still needs some seasoning, but has shown a daring that Atlanta's been lacking from their 1.

Still - a very young team. The games against veteran half-court squads like New Jersey and Detroit show that. The Hawks, with a style more suited for the freewheeling West, struggle when the other team wants to slow it down and run set plays. Luckily, the Suns and Mavs didn't catch on until it was too late.

They've received lukewarm attention from the national media - the real chance to announce the beginning of a turnaround comes Friday night. The Celtics have raced out to a 3-0 start against 3 playoff teams from last year. Because of the orgasmic euphoria being experienced in Bean Town right now, it's expected they will knife through the rest of the East this year like the Celts of old.

The Hawks win there, and people will notice.

I think the most encouraging thing is that they've managed to do all this without the services of a veteran post (either the injured Zaza Pachulia or Lorenzen Wright), and without the oft injured Speedy Claxton...who will surely see some minutes, when 100%.

It's a long season, but I'm starting to believe the long National nightmare is over for Hawks Nation - even if it is the NBA equivalent of Luxembourg.

It gets a bit easier after the next 2 games, so if they can somehow knock out the Wizards as well, they'll be set up for a nice season. And by nice, I mean close to .500.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Know-Nothing Party, Week 7 - You Can't Spell Change Without "Chan"

First, some thoughts from last night's "Disaster at Dodd":

“When your running game is not working, you’ve got to go to the air,” Bennett said. “There’s only two ways to score on offense.”

That’s a quote from Taylor Bennett. Mind you, this is after stud freshman Jonathan Dwyer had 10 carries for 68 yards. Yet, any time Tech got on a roll running the ball with Dwyer (who should have started), they resorted next to some underneath route on 3 and 2, or a non-play action pass.

There are alot of things right with the Gailey regime. The recruiting is better than it’s ever been, and he has one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the country in Jon Tenuta.

But, when that D is getting no help from the offense…and the offense is making mistakes like under-running a sure TD or fumbling on a long gain, you have to ask what is wrong over there.

I get the feeling Gailey is still calling most of the shots, not John Bond. It’s time someone sits him down and tells him, in no uncertain terms, that he either gives up control of the O, or he’s gone. There is too much talent on that side of the ball for it flounder so mightily, even without Teshard Choice in the game!

The questionable personnel decisions for one, are concerning. Bennett should have been out after his 3rd pick. You put freshman QB Josh Nesbitt and Dwyer in the backfield and run a read draw/option offense. Both guys were moving the ball on the ground. That kind of offense would have ground the Hokies out last night, but Chan has his boys. He wouldn’t start the true freshman, instead opting for a less than stellar Bennett and an underwhelming Jamaal Evans.

That is just as bad as sticking with Ball. It may even be worse. Bennett currently has a 1-3 TD/INT ratio and a 51% completion percentage. He should be riding the pine, he is not the answer.

Now that I've got that out of the way, we can review my semi-disaster of last week's Party. I was right that this was the year at Georgia would finally win the WLOCP they shouldn't have. It was quite the performance by Knowshon Moreno, as he showed his coach the value of a brutalizing feature back. Richt might learn to embrace the running game yet.

Still, Arizona State remains the biggest surprise succes, while Cal is quickly becoming the biggest surprise failure. Oregon covered, and now sets up a big showdown with Los Diablos Del Sol in Eugene. UConn, much to my chagrin, proves again to be a tough out regardless of who they are playing. Randy Edsall might be auditioning for a move back to Atlanta.

On to this weeks game. I was too lazy and late to pick the Tech-Tech game. Considering the Jackets were favored, my first instinct would have been to pick The Hokies and the points. Oh well.

Lonely Local Collective

We're giving an Auburn a pass this week with FCS Tennessee Tech on the schedule. No line there, thankfully, because Tuberville would find a way to win by one fewer point than whatever it would be. So...

Troy (+16) at Georgia: All the makings of a trap game. Dawgs coming off a big win, facing a tricky Air Raid-style offense, run by a mobile and resourceful veteran QB. If the Dawgs stick to the gameplan they had against Florida, this should be a walk, but I expect a bit of a letdown. Dawgs by 14.


My weekly parlay of death. Sure to make me sweat, but alternately could pay for my beer for the next month.

Cincinnati at USF (-5.5): Both these teams got off to ridiculously hot starts, only to come tumbling back to earth in the last few weeks. As far as talent and coaching experience goes, though, the Bulls are way ahead of the Bearcats. Despite 2 Big East losses, the Bulls still have a shot at the conference title with a strong finish. They get started here, and win by 20.

Arizona State at Oregion (-7): Dennis Dixon has gone from Heisman afterthought to vice-Favorite after a strong performance against USC. Another strong game here, on national TV, puts him in the lead over Matt Ryan. Does the Heisman have to wear the ugly white or ugly green, or mustard yellow unis?

LSU (-7) at Alabama: Saban Bowl I. Alabama looked pretty solid against the hapless Vols D a few weeks ago. This isn't the Vols defense, though. Add the bitterness LSU fans feel towards Saban, an inside track to the SEC West Crown. LSU doesn't lose this game with superior talent, and, you could argue, superior coaching. Bayou Bengals by 17.

More Chan-tastic picks next week!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Know-Nothing Party, Week 6 - I AM THE SMARTEST MAN ALIVE!!!

I'm still a little geeked by boing 3-0-1 last week. Off the blog, I even threw in a little Wake Forest -6 action over Navy, and got that one.

I'll enjoy this while it lasts.

Boston College did its part to chip away at my prediction that chaos would reign supreme by the end of next weekend. We'll see if Arizona State, Kansas, and Ohio State can do the same.

On to our weekly slate, featuring all of the undefeateds not named Hawaii.

Hangovers and Parties:

Georgia gets ready for what seems to be their annual capitulation to Florida, while Auburn should get a break from either pulling a win out of their ass, or having defeat shoved up said ass.

Georgia (+7.5) vs. Florida - This is my bold pick of the week. Tim Tebow is banged up, and the last 4 Gator games have all been slugfests, even their road game against Ole Miss. Georgia, meanwhile, has done almost everything wrong and still finds themselves in the midst of the SEC East race. There have been a few times in the Mark Richt era where an inferior Florida team the Dawgs. '02,'03', and '05, to be exact. Georgia turns the tables here because Mark Richt is forced to pick one running back, and go with him. A novel concept for he of the 3 Headed Back.
UGA pulls it out late and wins by 3.

Ole Miss at Auburn (-18) - A little breather for Auburn after 3 straight down to the wire games. Ole Miss has been pretty bad over all, but they're even worse on the road. 44-8 to Arkansas, and 45-17 to Georgia in their last 2 trips away from The Grove. Auburn covers easily by running, running, and running. Coach Tuberville is giddy, and benches all his QBs. Tigers by 24.

This Currency To Be Taken Orally:

Again, giving you my bets for the week, so you know I've got a stake in this!

USF (-4) at UConn - UConn could just as easily be on a 2 game winning or losing streak over the last few games. A close loss to UVa, followed up by a comeback win over Louisville (aided by a sketchy phantom Fair Catch call), and they are suddenly the only undefeated team in The Big East. USF missed a great chance in Jersey, but The Bulls know the conference title is still in their sights, and have a much better defense than Louisville...who still only gave up 14 offensive points to the Huskies. This has the markings of a no touchdown game for the boys from Storrs. USF by 10.

USC at Oregon (-3) - If you, like me, have seen USC play a few times this year, you're in on the best kept secret in College Football. That is, that USC just isn't very good this year. Oregon, meanwhile, was a fumble away from being undefeated and likely leading the BCS standings. In Mark Sanchez's first significant road test, the Trojans venture to one of the toughest places to play in the Pac-10. The Ducks break out their lime green unis with burnt maize piping...eveyone vomits. Still, the Ducks win by 14.

Cal (+3) at Arizona State - This is a hunch game for me since I know exactly zero about the Sun Devils outside of Dennis Erickson, Rudy Carpenter, and absurdly hot women. What I do know is that Cal has beaten Tennessee convincingly, and outlasted Oregon in Eugene. Despite 2 straight losses, I find it hard to believe that they will let that slide go to 3. If they do, of course, I hope it's by 2.9 points! I'm taking Cal to win by 1, though.

Enjoy your viewing and return to marvel at my throbbing temporal lobe next week!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Falcons' Bye Week Thoughts

A few thoughts on the local NFL team, before the newly released Grady Jackson takes his vengeance by devouring his former team.

On Defense - considering how unprodcutive the Offense has been, the Defense isn't performing as poorly as you would think. 24th Rated overall, but holding up favorably in 3rd Down situations (collapses on 3rd were a staple of the Donatell regime), only allowing a 38% conversion rate. Also - it appears the Falcons may have a rising star in strongside linebacker Michael Boley, who is 3rd in the NFL in tackles, and has 2 interceptions to his name.

On Offense - The main reason I'm writing this. Most people regard Bob Petrino as an offensive mind in the mold of June Jones or Mike Martz.

However - In his time at Louisville, and his lone year as Auburn's Offensive Coordinator, Bobby P. enjoyed crushing other team's souls with equal parts run and pass. Coaching Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown on the Plains in '02, they combined for nearly 1900 yards rushing. His backs were also collectively exceeding the 2000 yard mark in his seasons at Louisville with regularity, including Michael Bush and Eric Shelton spearheading a 3,005 yard output in '04. Safe to say they would have exceeded that number last year had Bush not broken his leg against Kentucky.

My point is - where's the running game, Coach? Unfortunately, it's in the hands of Warrick Dunn most of the time.

This, of course, is maddening to any Falcons fan who has spent even one game watching Jerious Norwood get 6 or 7 carries, and still post at least 30-40 yards. Quite simply, he's a homerun hitter, as evidenced by the fact that all three of his career rushing touchdowns have gone for 67 or more yards (check out a few here). He also flashes a nasty streak when finishing his run - showing a bit of the powerback that Petrino would like to have back there.

A closer look at the stats makes it even more maddening:

Norwood: 47 car. 272 yards 5.8 att 1TD
Dunn: 95 car. 292 yards 3.1 att 1TD

You don't have to be a mathematician to see that Jerious has half as many carries, and almost as many yards. This also goes in the receiving category where Norwood has 17 Catches for 143yds., and Dunn has 18 for 78yds.

I will point out that I think Warrick Dunn is one of the finest men in the NFL, and has had a tremendous career. It's likely he'll pass the 10,000 yard plateau by the end of this year, and he will be one of the NFL's Top 20 all-time rushers in terms of yards. Not bad for a guy most thought too small to be an every down back in the NFL. That being said, he'll be 33 shortly after this season ends. I shudder to think that that he's only 3.5 years older than me...but I'm also not an elite athlete.

It's quite simple - The Falcons need to get their running game going. The offensive line is in shambles, and the quarterback holds the ball too long. Without the run, defenses are loading up on the pass. A 23 carries a game average - 13 of which go to a guy averaging 3 yards a tote - is not going to cut it.

Time to let your playmaker make some plays. Just give me one game where he gets 20 carries. If he isn't over 100 yards by game's end, I'll stop complaining.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Know-Nothing Party, Week 5 - Fubar'd Again

The picture to the right is of former New Orleans Saints Coach, Jim Haslett.

Not really related to the college game, but it occurred to me during last night's USF-Rutgers slugfest that Jim Leavitt bears a striking resemblance to the deposed ammonia-sniffer.

That's when I knew it was over for them.

Thus, week 8 of the season commences in the only way it could, another unbeaten falling in agonizing fashion. That fashion? Their mobile quarterback showing a complete inability to avoid the rush and/or throw the ball away.

Kudos to Rutgers for not thinking too hard and just giving Ray Rice the ball 39 times. Offensive Coordinators trying to prove they can win without heavy doses of their best player has been the downfall of many good teams. As my Auburn-fan friend, Jimbo (from The Ocho), informs me, this is one of the big reasons Auburn fell flat in '03...Hugh Nall apparently thought it'd be unfair to give the ball too much to Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Brandon Jacobs - 3 guys who all start in the NFL, when healthy.

I could go on, but it just seems that coaches nowadays thing being creative offensively equals passing alot. I think West Virginia and Arkansas (well, at least in '06) have proved that doesn't have to be the case.

Anyway - To review, the 5 remaining unbeatens:

-Ohio State
-Boston College
-Arizona State

By the end of next weekend, it's quite possible only 2 of those will remain unbeaten - one of those being Hawaii. That would bring all of the 1-loss teams back into play for what could be one of the most exciting Novembers in College Football history.

I hate to say it...but if stuff like this happened every year, I might jump off the playoff bandwagon altogether!

On to the picks. 2-3 last week, thanks in large part to Steve Spurrier doing his best Tommy Tuberville impression by packing up the offense with a decent halftime lead. Otherwise, I would have called it a success, and stomped all over Vanderbilt's midfield logo.

The Obligatories

Georgia is off this week, in preperation for their annual sacrifice to the Gator Gods, so we're left with only Auburn and Tech...two teams with very different games on the schedule.

Army (+24) at Georgia Tech: Homecoming on The Flats, and Bobby Ross returns with his Black Knights. Army has no offense to speak of, but have managed to cover a few games against superior opposition, like Boston College. Chan Gailey is never known for beating up on teams not named Samford, so I think the Jackets put it in cruise control early and win by 21 or so heading into their bye week.

Auburn (+10.5) at LSU: The Tigers put some serious voodoo on former Tigers kicker John Vaughn a few years back in Baton Rouge, even while he was on his way to a stellar career in Orange and Blue. Wes Byrum is already a bit of a local hero, twice lifting the Tigers to victory in close SEC Battles. Somehow, some way, he's going to have a bad game. Visiting kickers just seem to in Death Valley.

This game is rarely a blowout, and Auburn is still in the hunt for the SEC West crown. Winning this would put them in the driver's seat, but LSU just has too much at stake. The Bayou Bengals over their fellow Tigers by a late touchdown.

Games I actually put money on.

Putting my money where my are? Anyway - 2 picks from my personal stash, maaaannnnn.

Arkansas (-5) at Ole Miss: Quite simple here, Ole Miss has the 98th ranked run defense, Arkansas has Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. As long as David Lee and Houston Nutt don't befall the same disease that we mentioned above, they should roll up about 300 yards rushing on the Rebs tomorrow. Razorbacks by 10.

Michigan (-1) at Illinois: The Wolverines appear to have turned the corner after last week's throttling of Purdue and their moustachioed leader. Meanwhile, Illinois zooked the game away in Iowa City. UM might not have Mike Hart in this one, but I think this team is now squarely focused on winning the Big 10, and getting revenge on Ohio State. Michigan, in a low scoring affair, by 6.

Come back and laugh at me around midnight on Saturday - I should be on my way back from yet another home victory for The Appalachian State Mountaineers!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ooooh...White Lightnin'!!

In honor of Ohio State being ranked #1 in the initial BCS Poll, and the recent renaissance of caucasian ball-carriers, I introduce you to Sam McGuffie.

Appropriately, he will be playing in the Big 10, the only BCS conference where it's possible for a white kid to be faster than most of his black counterparts. Sam will be a freshman next year at Michigan.

Nonetheless, the kid's got some freakish skills:

Now, if they could only find someone fast enough to chase down Appalachian State's Wide Receivers, regardless of pigmentation.