Showing 1 - 10 of 298 posts found matching keyword: football

Today is Groundhog Day. By the time you read this, you will know whether or not we should expect more winter based on whether or not it was overcast when a particular groundhog woke up. (The most famous prognosticating groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, has seen his shadow in 104 of 131 years, and his chroniclers say he has been "right" only 39% of the time.)

The last time I mentioned Punxsutawney Phil on this blog was in 2008. That was also a Saturday, one day before the Super Bowl. The Patriots were playing in that game, too. The Patriots lost in 2008. Could the same happen tomorrow? I think that's the question we should be asking the groundhogs. Even if it always picked the Patriots, it would still be right more often than it is about spring.

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Should old acquaintance be forgot....

The Dolphins, by which I mean Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross, got a good look at Santa's leftover naughty list and fired head coach Adam Gase on New Year's Eve. Said ESPN.com:

Gase couldn't escape the mediocrity that has followed the Dolphins since 2000. He finished 23-25 [.479], with his lone playoff game being a wild-card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. Miami was 7-9 this season.

To be fair, Gase's record wasn't any worse than his two immediate predecessors (Philbin, 24-28 [.461], and Sparano, 29-33 [.468]), but he wasn't any better either, which was particularly damning for someone who was supposed to be such a great offensive genius.

The biggest indictment of Gase was that he often fielded an anemic offense despite being thought of as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer when he got the job. The Dolphins finished 24th or worse in total offense in all three seasons under Gase, including 31st in 2018.

There's anemic, and then there's Adam Gase' offense. In 2018, the Dolphins weren't just the worst AFC team in total yards, they were also the worst AFC team at yards per game, first downs, third-down conversion percentage, and field goals attempted. On the positive side, they were the best in the AFC in punts attempted and total punting yards!

As surprising as it might seem in hindsight, Ross hired Gase to turn around the under-performing Ryan Tannehill in 2016 after Gase had performed a similar "miracle" with Peyton Manning. You read that right. Gase was Manning's offensive coordinator in Denver in 2013, and somehow he got credit for Peyton's record-setting comeback there, never mind that Peyton was already one of the all-time greats before the neck injury that slowed him down for the 2011-2012 seasons. The way people talk about Gase, you'd think he performed Peyton's surgery himself.

Anyway, whether or not Gase had any ability to improve his players before he came to the Dolphins is a moot point. In Miami, inability to recognize and develop talent is an infectious disease.

Frankly, I feel sorry for whoever comes to town next.

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Silly dogs! Everyone knows the Cheeze-It® Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato® Bowl aren't played at the same time!

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I'd been saying for several years that I should just take a day trip over to Legion Field to attend the annual Birmingham Bowl. This year, I finally put my money where my mouth was and bought tickets near midfield. I'm glad I did.

Memphis 34, Wake Forest 37

Friend Randy drove. He's always extra fun at football games. He often sees things on the field that I would miss. However, neither one of us spotted the fireworks on the field prior to the National Anthem. We weren't the only ones in the stadium caught off guard when rockets quite literally went off with a red glare, interrupting the poor singer struggling to cope with a bad sound system.

That wasn't the only time fireworks would catch us unaware. There were explosions after every score, it wasn't until halfway through the second quarter (score 28 to 7, Memphis lead) that we finally learned to anticipate the bang.

Dreamland BBQ was one of many vendors brought in just for the event, and we were surrounded by a cloud of delicious meat smoke for most of the game. Considering the warm December sun and enthusiastic (if smallish) crowd, it was an ideal way to watch a game.

All of which was set dressing for the game itself, which was fantastic. Memphis managed both an interception and kickoff returned for touchdown on back-to-back drives, and Wake Forest fell into an early hole which would take them more than three quarters to reverse. Memphis responded, and the game came down to a missed field goal at the final gun. Very exciting.

If every Birmingham Bowl was this good, I'd go every year.

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I've had a lot of bad things to say about the Miami Dolphins as of late. Enough that after today's game, friend Keith sent me this text:

Dude. Stop complaining. Ya'll won for fucks sake.

Yes, we did! With the longest play from scrimmage (69-yards) to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter by any NFL team since the 1970 merger. (I know that's a long qualifier, but I'll take what I can get.)

Woot.

Watch it on YouTube.

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Georgia Tech came to Athens and lost for the first time since 2012. They lost badly, too. Through the first three quarters, Tech managed to score only on a punt return. After UGA pulled the starters, final score was Georgia Tech 21, UGA 45.

Ga Tech 21, UGA 45

The game was essentially over when Georgia scored their first touchdown on their opening possession. I didn't see that, however. I hadn't yet reached my seat because my companion, Friend Ken, was 30 minutes late to the carpool. But he did buy me a pretzel in the third quarter, so I'm not inclined to hold too much of a grudge. (Unless I catch his cold. If I catch his cold, yeah, grudge back on.)

By the way, I would be remiss to mention that at halftime, the Georgia Tech band came out on the field and played a tribute to Aretha Franklin. Then the Georgia band followed with... a tribute to Aretha Franklin. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. indeed.

UGA finishes the regular season 11-1 (7-0 at home). I saw 5 of the 7 home games, and none of them were very competitive. Was that worth the increased ticket price? Maybe. Will I renew my tickets again next year? Maybe. It probably depends on how much they jack up the prices this off-season. We'll see what we see after the SEC Championship game.

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Something to think about when you're done with your turkey and watching the Saints beat up on the Falcons tonight:

Kickoffs are simultaneously the most dangerous and most boring plays in football. To make the game safer for the players and more exciting for the fans, some propose replacing the kickoff with a punt. The solution, they say, isn't a big change. Just give the kicking team the ball at the 35 yard line as is currently done, and run a regular punt play. This solves the problem of two teams running at each other from opposite ends of the field, XFL-style. The obvious problem with this solution is that it eliminates the opportunity for an onside kick to allow the kicking team to retain possession. (Punting rules prohibit the kicking team from possessing the ball unless the receiving team has touched and dropped it.)

Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, who is a proponent of replacing the kickoff with a punt, suggested an onside kick replacement in 2011. Line up the teams at the 35 just as you would for a punt, he says, and give them the option of throwing a pass instead. If the pass is complete for more than 15 yards downfield, they get to keep going as though they had recovered an onside kick. (Otherwise, the "receiving" team gets the ball at the spot of the catch or the line of scrimmage if incomplete.) The obvious problem with Schiano's suggestion is that teams with high-powered offenses may never have to relinquish the ball at all. That's not an improvement to the current formula, as it only makes games more lopsided.

I like what Schiano's thinking, but I think it could work better with one small change: make the punter be the one to have to throw the ball. This makes a post-score "kick-off" just another play from the line of scrimmage but with dedicated personnel. The game gets safer without overbalancing to offense while still allowing occasional trick plays in late-game cases where maintaining possession is necessary. Win-win!

There, now. Wasn't that a more fun Thanksgiving table discussion topic than politics? You're welcome.

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What else is there to say about a game that UGA won, 66-27?

UMass 27, UGA 66

For one thing, it looked like the team was enjoying themselves. It sure felt like *everybody* got a touchdown.

And UMass scored on a 1 second drive to end the third quarter. That was impressive.

And in honor of Veterans Day, the band played songs for all branches of the armed forces at halftime (pictured above).

And Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were in the house. Each received a standing ovation when introduced.

And, boy, did I enjoy my Coca-Cola and pretzel. Delicious!

Also of note: This was Friend Mike's second UGA game. He has now attended more UGA games than Alabama games. That's a good thing.

Now bring on Georgia Tech.

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A 7:08 PM kickoff on Saturday meant that I didn't get back home until just before 2 AM Sunday, but it was worth it to see UGA beat down Auburn 27-10.

Auburn 10, UGA 27

What I will remember most about this game, aside from the drunk girl to my left who couldn't quite grasp the concept of "personal space," is the cold. It may not be the coldest Georgia game I've ever attended (that would be a Tech game almost a decade ago), but it was pretty darn close. According to the television in the student center, it was 38° at the final whistle.

My usual Auburn-game companion, Friend Randy, didn't think he was going to need anything more than a light jacket. He never did get the hang of the knit cap I let him borrow, but I note he never took it off, either. (You're welcome, Randy.)

As for the football itself, it seems that every year in the annual UGA/Auburn contest, one team out thinks itself. This year, that team was Georgia. UGA tried its best to pretend that it isn't a run-first, second, and third offense in an attempt to beat trick play-happy Auburn head coach Gus Malzhan at his own game. (Blankenship's failed fake field goal springs to mind.) Fortunately, great defense won out. Next year, let's keep it simple, okay, Dawgs?

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I think maybe I've had it with the Miami Dolphins for the season. Sure, they won today, but not really through any act of their own. The Jets were just worse. Each team managed a mere two field goals, and the Dolphins prevailed when their less-than-stellar defense returned one of the Jets' four interceptions for a touchdown. Ugh.

For reference, the Phins managed only 7 total first downs and 168 total yards. It was bad. Really bad and not remotely entertaining. I could have spent those four hours... well, doing almost anything else.

Next week, maybe I will.

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To be continued...

 

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