Monday, September 30, 2019

Browns bounce back in Baltimore!

Nick Chubb rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns with one of those an 88-yard score that broke Baltimore's back and Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards and one touchdown as the Cleveland Browns may have saved their season with a 40-25 clipping of the Baltimore Ravens wings in Baltimore.
Jarvis Landry grabbed eight passes for 167 yards, while tight end replacement Ricky Seals-Jones caught three for 82 yards including the only touchdown passing for Baker Mayfield.
The Browns improve to 2-2 with the win and join the Ravens at the top of the AFC North.
Cleveland will travel to San Francisco next Monday to meet the undefeated 49ers.

Brownie Bits

1) It's not an exaggeration to state that this win could have meant the season and here's why.
Had the Browns lost this game, they would have been a full two games behind Baltimore (3-1 to 1-3)
and with the schedule not getting any weaker over the next three games ( at San Francisco, Seattle at home and after an off week, at New England), it's not a stretch to say that by the time the schedule became a little more palatable, the Browns could have been unofficially out of contention depending on how the Ravens were playing.

2) And who would get the game ball for this victory? It has to be Nick Chubb, who when he ran for
the 88-yard score broke the back of the Ravens, who had just scored a touchdown and slammed in a two-point conversion to trim the Browns lead to six.
It was even more than that for Chubb, who ran over Baltimore all day and generally left them almost helpless against the Browns running attack

3) Baker Mayfield had plenty to say this week to various media and I think Baker is far too thin-skinned about some of this stuff.
After all, Rex Ryan is just one of a thousand guys on ESPN and who cares what Antonio Brown has to say while he does whatever at Eastern Michigan University?
However, these small things seem to motivate Mayfield and whatever helps him perform better is fine with me, even if I don't especially always see the point.

4) As for Baker on the field?
342 yards with one touchdown and interception was pretty strong numbers and I did like that Mayfield began to look similar to last year's Mayfield in getting the ball out quicker and allowing his receivers to do the work rather than holding the ball and waiting for the receiver to find their way, which often makes the offensive line have a much more difficult time in protection.
Mayfield's at his best when he adds a little movement (he's more quick than fast) and shoots the ball out quickly and against Baltimore, he did a much better job at releasing quickly.

5) Odell Beckham may not have had a great game on the stat sheet with only two catches for twenty yards, but as great players usually do- Beckham's presence opened the field for another player to have a huge game and against Baltimore, it was Beckham's buddy Jarvis Landry, who caught eight passes for over 165 yards and a 65 yard gain that would have been a touchdown had Landry been able to regain his stride after breaking a Baltimore tackle.
Landry finished with more yards against Baltimore than the combined previous three games before leaving the game with a concussion and showed that besides Odell Beckham, there will be players that thrive from week to week depending on how the opposition plans to cover Beckham.

6) Ricky Seals-Jones was a waiver claim from the final cut from training camp from the Cardinals and so many of those players turn out to be nothing special, but I have a strange feeling about Seals-Jones.
As in he might be one of those discoveries that break out and become a very helpful player.
Seals-Jones had a 59-yard reception and a short touchdown grab and showed the type of hands that might find him a job even after David Njoku would return.
At 6'5 and 245 pounds and with athletic ability as well, Seals-Jones might be a steal.

7) Freddie Kitchens must have heard the rumblings of media and fans about his predictable play calls against the Rams because he broke out of the chains and tried some different things.
Notably, the call was the reverse that led to Odell Beckham throwing an option pass far down that Damion Ratley should have hauled in despite pass interference that should have been called, but was not.
Those types of calls won't always work, but the threat of them always is positive by making defenses plan before the game and scramble on it.

8) As for Damion Ratley, he made a catch early in the game for ten yards, jumped up and shook his booty as if he had won the conference title.
Ratley would follow up his catch with a fifteen-yard penalty for an illegal block and then having the long toss from Odell Beckham go literally between his hands.
Ratley did have to leap into the air, but it went right between his hands!
Why does it always seem like a guy screws up for much of a game after an unnecessary celebration?
It will be interesting to see who may be out their way out this week with Antonio Callaway returning from his suspension and the possibility of Rashard Higgins returning as well.

9) Jermaine Whitehead has been a player that the Browns have been high on since claiming him off waivers last season from the Packers, but his production hasn't been anything noteworthy until yesterday in his second start in place of Morgan Burnett at safety.
Whitehead stripped Mark Ingram of the football in the third quarter, intercepted Lamar Jackson in the fourth quarter and then on the following drive, Whitehead's blitz hit Lamar Jackson's arm and sent the ball lazily floating to the arms of defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence.
Whitehead was directly involved in three turnovers in the second half.

10) Joe Schobert had a huge game with nine solo tackles, seven assisted tackles and a late-game sack of Lamar Jackson where he established his dominance with authority not by wrapping Jackson up, but by flinging him to the grass like a used rag.
I've sometimes been critical of Schobert and the injured Christian Kirksey for not making enough plays and accumulating tackles downfield, but his effort against Baltimore showed that he is capable of making those plays.

11) I thought the Ravens and the "new" Lamar Jackson were a little overrated after three games against three of the worst ten defenses in the league, but the Browns still did a nice job in keeping Jackson from doing much of what he does best- move around and make huge plays.
Jackson did throw for all three of the Baltimore touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice and forced to fumble once, although Baltimore recovered the fumble and Cleveland kept Jackson from making the big play as other than the 50-yard touchdown to Willie Snead in garbage time, the Ravens longest play was one Jackson scramble for 29 yards.

12) I mentioned Jermaine Whitehead earlier, but the Browns once again were missing starting cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, but both T.J. Carrie and Terrence Mitchell played very well in their starts and had the Willie Snead play not occurred, the Browns would have held Baltimore under 200 yards passing.

13) Big win, but the schedule as noted above doesn't get easier.
I like the Browns chances more than some in San Francisco on Monday night against the undefeated 49ers.
San Francisco is 3-0 (coming off a bye week), but two of those wins were against winless Cincinnati and Pittsburgh (The other against 2-2 Tampa Bay) and the following week against 3-1 Seattle is also winnable as all three of their wins were over winless Cincinnati, winless Pittsburgh (They play tonight, so one will be winless no more) and winless Arizona (0-3-1).
I'm not saying those teams are bad, but I'd like to see either beat someone with a pulse as the only team between those two with a winning record in 3-1 New Orleans beat the Seahawks in Seattle with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and scored 33 points on the Seahawks.
That would be a so what until you remember the same Bridgewater-led Saints scored just 12 the following week at home last night against Dallas.
Yes, New England in Foxboro is going to be very difficult to conclude October and only the most devout Browns homer would pick the Browns in that one unless Tom Brady gets injured before then, but I think a 2-1 October is a realistic hope.
Give me that and I'll take it.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Boxing Challenge: Spence unifies over Porter

I haven't watched the full PBC card from Los Angeles, but the main event will definitely be in the running for the fight of the year and when you read/hear from the PBC about this being a classic, unlike so many of their others- this one was just that.

Errol Spence was a lopsided favorite to unify his IBF championship with that of the WBC title with a victory over Shaun Porter and Spence came through with a victory to do so, but the unexpected difficulty and the resulting terrific battle was a surprise to almost everyone.
Spence's split decision victory was the proper one and give Spence plenty of credit for battling through what proved to be the sternest test of his career from Porter, but I do wonder if Spence couldn't have made this fight easier with just a few changes.
I suppose the question that perhaps eventually answered is this one- Was this a great fight because Shawn Porter forced Errol Spence to fight his fight or did Errol Spence make a tactical decision to do so, therefore allowing Porter to have his best chance to win, but gave fans a far more exciting fight than expected?
I had the fight dead even through ten rounds and the eleventh was even until Spence's counter left on the chin of the charging Porter scored a knockdown, which essentially gave Spence the fight on my card and I had Spence winning round twelve as well in a round that featured many furious exchanges between the two combatants.

It was a terrific fight and I was only disappointed by one point after the bout.
We might be farther away from Terence Crawford against Errol Spence than ever before.
Spence had stated entering the fight that he would fight Crawford, but his desired fight against WBA champion Manny Pacquiao would come first.
After the fight, Spence seemed to indicate that should Pacquiao choose another foe rather than Spence for his next fight, he would face Danny Garcia in a fight that I cannot imagine many being excited about.
When you consider that few of the PBC's top fighters fight more than twice a year, should Spence face Danny Garcia next, you would think that his other fight would be against Pacquiao should Manny take that fight or after the unexpectedly difficult fight against Porter, a rematch could be slotted as the other fight for Spence in 2020 and push Crawford to early 2021 at its earliest.
Only in boxing can fans eventually lose by watching a great fight.

David Benavidez won the WBC super-middleweight title that he never lost in the ring over Anthony Dirrell when the fight was stopped from Dirrell's corner as Benavidez pounded Dirrell in the ninth round.
I had Benavidez well ahead (79-73) when the fight was stopped and Benavidez badly cut Dirrell in the sixth round which led to Benavidez stepping the pace in dominating the seventh and eighth rounds before the final ninth.
I have been critical of Team Dirrell in the past in various fights, but give credit in this one as Dirrell could have chucked it in several times and instead battled on.
Still, I would have stopped the fight after the eighth and saved Dirrell from the pounding that he took in the ninth.
David Benavidez fights like a heavyweight as his style is a physical, walk the opponent down and pound on them until they surrender style and he's the biggest guy in the division physically, so he's going to be a tough out for anyone, but while I like Benavidez a lot, he's going to have problems against guys that move and the biggest fight at his weight with PBC is with IBF champ Caleb Plant, who uses just the kind of movement that could give Benavidez concerns.
Still, Plant is not a big hitter and unless he can box all night against the pressure of Benavidez, Benavidez will have more than an even chance for wearing Plant down in that potential bout, although I'm not betting on that fight happening anytime soon as Plant hasn't seemed interested in fighting decent opponents other than his title-winning match against Jose Uzcategui.

I haven't been able to see the two opening bouts, but the reports on Mario Barrios unanimous decision win over Batyr Akhmedov are approaching Hamburglar level robbery.
Barrios scored two flash knockdowns, but I've read that his face was badly lumped and from one observer commented that Barrios took the type of punishment in "winning" that you never recover from and despite still being undefeated and now holding a minor junior welterweight title, Barrios could be damaged goods, while Akhmedov, despite being dropped twice, seems to have won quite a few fans in his loss.

Editors Note: While Akhmedov generally kicked the hell out of Barrios from round five through the end of the fight, I wouldn't say that the win for Barrios was a robbery as many have written.
Here's why- I gave Barrios the first four rounds with the fourth at 10-8 with a flash knockdown, Akhmedov won the next seven rounds easily and was winning the final round before another flash knockdown.
Because Barrios was losing the round before the knockdown, I scored Barrios as winning the final round, but only by 10-9.
In rounds, Akhmedov wins on my card 7-5 and loses the point for the fourth round knockdown.so that results in a 114-113 card for Akhmedov, who dealt out vast amounts of punishment to Barrios, yet the two flash knockdowns made the fight closer on the cards than the action in the ring actually was and therefore not a robbery, although, in my opinion, the wrong guy won.

In the opener, veteran Josesito Lopez stopped even older veteran John Molina in the eighth round in a welterweight fight that will hopefully see Molina step away from the stage.
Lopez knocked Molina down twice in the first round with Molina barely surviving the initial round before Lopez dropped Molina again in the seventh before finishing him off in the eighth.
Most scorecards had Lopez winning every round, so Lopez will likely fight on in the PBC ( I wouldn't be stunned to see a rematch with Keith Thurman when Thurman returns from his latest injury hiatus).
As for Molina, the time is right for him to collect his gold watch and step aside before he gets hurt.

Friday afternoon from London, talented heavyweight Daniel DuBois knocked Ebenezer Tetteh down twice in the first round and finished him off then and there.
Tetteh was hardly a test for DuBois, but I'm really looking forward to seeing the competition improve for DuBois, who only needs to prove a sturdy chin to be of title timber as I think his skills are of that level.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica outscored me seven to six to cut my lead to 231-202.
We both scored two points from David Benavidez and Daniel Dubois and one from Errol Spence, but Ramon scored two from Mario Barrios and I scored one from Josesito Lopez.


Ohio State defrosts Nebraska 48-7

Entering this season, it seemed like the game that many writers and observers of both the Ohio State scene, as well as the national one, thought that the Buckeyes visit to Lincoln would end in defeat to the Nebraska Cornhuskers with more than one of those stating that that game would be the first "signature win of the Scott Frost era".
Some of that had died down just a bit after the dominant start by the Buckeyes and Nebraska's loss to Colorado and escape from lowly Illinois last week.
That was about as close as Nebraska's hopes for victory would come as Ohio State scored the first 48 points of the game until Nebraska scored a touchdown in garbage time to avoid the shutout as the Buckeyes took a 48-7 win in Lincoln.
Justin Fields threw for three touchdowns, Master Teague ran for two scores and J.K, Dobbins ran for 177 yards to lead the Ohio State attack.
Ohio State (5-0 2-0 Big Ten) will play another night game next Saturday night in Columbus against 25th ranked Michigan State (4-1 2-0 Big Ten).

Olentangy Offerings

1) The most impressive item in the win has to be the offensive line.
I know Justin Fields was sacked three times, but in all three cases, Fields held the football too long as he tried to make a play and on the ground, Ohio State looked more like the famous road graders from Wisconsin or Nebraska in the Huskers glory days as they just pushed the Nebraska defense aside with little opposition.

2) Justin Fields still has his occasional moments where he should just flick the ball aside, which as explained above can result in sacks.
That's a minor thing in blowouts, but it could be a problem when the inevitable game arrives that the opponent battles back.

3) The offensive line may have made the holes, but the backs still need to find them and J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague certainly found them to the tune of 254 yards between them.
Dobbins definitely added strength in the offseason as he is breaking tackles as never before and Teague powers through smaller holes and keeps driving upfield.
These two backs might be the best help that Justin Fields could have wished for in his first season as a starter.

4) The play that essentially ended the game showed up on Nebraska's third drive as the Huskers drove down the field already down 14-0, but moving the football Taylor Martinez's pass was high and the receiver tipped it- directly to a prone Jeffrey Okudah, who intercepted it with virtually one hand before securing the ball.
Replays showed a wincing Martinez as he saw the interception and the deflating of the Cornhuskers and their sellout crowd was complete.
Nebraska wouldn't threaten to score again until their only touchdown against the Buckeyes second unit in the fourth quarter.

5) J.K Dobbins reached two milestones in his career in this walkover in Lincoln.
Dobbins moved over the three thousand rushing yard mark for his career and moved into the Buckeyes top ten rushers of all-time passing Pepe Pearson for the tenth spot.
Should Dobbins rush for over 100 yards against Michigan State, Dobbins would move into 8th place by passing Carlos Hyde and Keith Byars and should he run for 150 plus yards, he would move into 7th past J.T. Barrett.
Looking at the career numbers and games left to play (at least seven regular-season games, a bowl game and possible Big Ten title game), It is likely that Dobbins could finish the season second only to Archie Griffin in career rushing yards and should Dobbins decide to return to Columbus for a senior season, which I would think is unlikely, but one never knows, Griffin's reign at the top could be shaky.

6) Ohio State may have only outsacked Nebraska 4-3 in this game, but the defensive line was seemingly in on Taylor Martinez on every play and Martinez had little time to throw along with being punished like an overmatched boxer all night.
Martinez's stats look less than strong, but you have to give the young man a break as the Buckeye defense simply overwhelmed the Huskers and he had next to no chance to succeed.

7) Jeffrey Okudah is going to be a top ten draft pick.
Okudah hadn't intercepted a pass in his career until last week against Miami, Ohio, but added two more against Nebraska and his most impressive pick was not the one that he grabbed lying on his back.
Okudah's interception of Taylor Martinez on Nebraska's first drive was perfect coverage as he stepped in front of his man and made the diving grab.
At the college level, that's a tough play to make and usually winds up being called for pass interference, but Okudah's instincts and body control made a hard play look easy and he'll be the first cornerback taken in next year's draft.
If Okudah isn't? Someone made a huge mistake.

8) I might have taken Justin Fields out of this one earlier than Ryan Day did, mainly because Fields was still taking hits like one big one as he faked a keeper while giving the ball to J.K. Dobbins.
Fields wasn't hurt after being blasted (it was a legal hit because of the fake), but being up 48-7 at the time, I would have taken him out far earlier.
Nebraska's only touchdown late in the third quarter against the second-team defense seemed to make Day decide to keep Fields in the game longer.
Against a good Michigan State defense next week, Fields will likely face a stern test that may see him play the entire game.

9) Ohio State scored on every possession of the first half except the final one, where they allowed time to expire to head to the locker room and outgained Nebraska 378-76.
To put that number in perspective, no opponent has come close to gaining 378 yards against Ohio State this season for an entire game.
The Buckeyes would punt once in the second half.

10) Baron Browning and Malik Harrison seemed to be all over the field in this game, which in Browning's case was very encouraging.
Pete Werner has been the apple of the defensive coaches eye in early season play, but the senior Harrison and the redshirt sophomore Browning have been the standouts in my opinion at linebacker.
Browning, in particular, seemed to be a player that needed to be on the field more often and his seven tackles and half-sack will hopefully give him the additional playing time that he seems to deserve.

11) Finally, this game was the media-hyped game during the offseason.
Nebraska looked to be improved, possessed a good young quarterback and with the Buckeyes laying eggs in road games in each of the previous two seasons against inferior opponents (2017 Iowa and 2018 Purdue), I could see how others may look at it that way.
I really didn't see it that way.
With so many unanswered questions entering the season with a new coach and quarterback, the games that I saw as possible trip-ups (other than the usual tough games) were Cincinnati (if the transition took a little bit to become smooth), Northwestern (Ryan Field on one of those cash grab Friday games) and maybe even Maryland (scored a ton of points on them last season and returned a lot on the offensive side), but I didn't think Nebraska because they would be the first road test and Ryan Day would make sure all the I's were dotted and T's were crossed on that trip to take care of business.

12) Now the schedule begins to get somewhat interesting.
Michigan State brings a very good defense to the Horseshoe but does struggle to score points when they have the ball.
Sparty does have a history of ruining great seasons for the Buckeyes, so they need to be taken seriously.
After an off week, it's Northwestern on the road on Cash Grab Friday and despite a slow start (Northwestern lost to Michigan State Saturday), Pat Fitzgerald will have the Wildcats prepped and ready for Ohio State's visit.
Ohio State will have an extra day of rest/preparation before the biggest home game of the season with Wisconsin and their tremendous running back Jonathan Taylor to conclude October's slate.
All three have their reasons to trouble a Buckeye team that hasn't face adversity to date, don't take any of them lightly as October should be far more competitive than September.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

PPM

The PPM returns with another week of football, but with several teams here on an off week, a little less than usual.

Last Week: 10-3
Overall: 41-10

College
Ohio State over Nebraska 45-24
Oklahoma over Texas Tech 50-21
North Texas over Houston 43-35
N.C. State over Florida State 38-35
Iowa over Middle Tennessee State 30-17
Washington over USC 24-21
Georgia Southern over UL-Lafayette 40-37

Game of the Week
Notre Dame over Virginia 31-14

NFL
Ravens over Browns 27-17
Cowboys over Saints 28-24

Game of the Week
Patriots over Bills 31-16


Friday, September 27, 2019

Boxing Challenge

The Boxing Challenge this weekend is basically all about the welterweight unification fight from the PBC and their undercard from Los Angeles that includes another championship on the line, but one other fight is on Friday as the best heavyweight prospect that you may not know enters the ring.

ESPN+ will be the host for Daniel Dubois as Dubois faces Ebenezer Tetteh from London.
Other heavyweight prospects such as Efe Ajagba, Joe Joyce, and Filip Hrgovic may be more visible in the United States, but from what I've seen thus far, Daniel Dubois would be my pick for the best bet of the heavyweight prospect pool as most likely to break away from the pack.
Ebenezer Tetteh is undefeated, but has never fought outside of his native Ghana, started his career as a light heavyweight and has fought what would charitably be described as awful competition, so we are unlikely to receive any answers on Dubois from this fight, but it's still worth the time to check his fight out on Friday afternoon.

The welterweight unification between Errol Spence (IBF) and Shawn Porter (WBC) is a rare fight that matches two champions that are well-known and talented, yet the almost-unanimous consensus is
that Spence will win and Porter has very little chance of pulling an upset.
In such unification fights, it's not often that there is such a lopsided favorite, but Spence has looked so impressive in his victories and Porter, who was very fortunate to escape with his title in his last defense (I scored it a draw) against Yordenis Ugas after inexplicably deciding to abandon his usual rough style to box a taller and longer opponent, seems to have one chance against Spence and that chance means walking into the harder puncher's space.
Still, Porter's not going to outbox Spence, so he's going to have to make the fight a physically taxing fight for Spence, rough him up, outwork Spence and hope that frustrates him.
I'm dubious that can succeed for Porter, but it's his only avenue for victory against the younger, better boxer and the harder punching Spence.

Second from the top will see Anthony Dirrell defending his WBC super middleweight belt against former champion David Benavidez, who held the same title, yet was never lost in the ring.
Benavidez was stripped of the championship last fall for failing a test of cocaine and Dirrell won a split decision in controversial manner over ten rounds over Avni Yildirim, when Dirrell used the WBC open scoring system that announces the scores after the fourth and eighth round to lift him to victory in a close victory when he was asked if he could see from a cut that didn't appear to be that bad with less than three full rounds.
The winner of this bout is mandated to defend against Yildirim due to that controversy.
An aside, I've never been a fan of either Dirrell brother (Anthony and former contender Andre), mainly because there always seems to be a way out other than finishing a fight.
I'm not saying that some of those times haven't been legitimate or even that they were planned ways out, but low blows, headbutts, disqualifications, late punches and in one case with Andre- a family member charging the ring to punch a Dirrell opponent!
It's often been "something" with the Dirrell's and no matter the winner, I'd like to see an absence of anything but a clean victor.

Two undefeated and talented junior welterweights face off for a minor title with Mario Barrios going against Batyr Akhmedov.
Barrios has looked very impressive in his first two fights of 2019, mowing through two opponents with a combined three losses in six rounds and has been highly thought of by observers.
Akhmedov is only 6-0 but has been compared to Vasyl Lomachenko in style and the ninth-round stoppage of his best foe, Israel Barroso was an excellent win.
The winner of this fight could be a real force in the 140-pound division.

The card opener is in the welterweight division with what should be an action battle between veterans John Molina and Josesito Lopez.
Lopez fought far better than expected in January in a challenge of then-WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman, badly hurting Thurman in the seventh round to the point of all three judges scoring the round 10-8 without a knockdown.
Molina has lost five of his last eight fights and is 36 years of age, but even now, if matched with an opponent that is on his level and willing to swap punches, Molina can deliver an exciting fight as he did two fights ago against Ivan Redkach in a fight that saw both fighters hit the mat before Molina won the bout with a fourth-round stoppage.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 225-195

Unification WBC-IBF Welterweight Titles. 12 Rds
Shawn Porter vs Errol Spence
R.L: Spence KO 9
TRS: Spence Unanimous Decision

WBC Super Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Anthony Dirrell vs David Benavidez
R.L: Benavidez KO 8
TRS: Benavidez KO 10

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Mario Barrios vs  Batyr Akhmedov
R.L: Barrios Unanimous Decision
TRS: Akhmedov Unanimous Decision

Welterweights. 10 Rds
John Molina vs Josesito Lopez
R.L: Molina KO 7
TRS: Lopez Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights 12 Rds
Daniel Dubois vs Ebenezer Tetteh
R.L: DuBois KO 6
TRS: DuBois KO 2

Thursday, September 26, 2019

I tell ya' Herbie

Things I think, our weekly column on college football has been proven to be popular thus far (OK, one person has mentioned it) and I'm enjoying it, so it stays for at least as long as I remember to write it. that is!

Why the new name?
Well, Ryan and I often break into full Brent Musberger mode and usually use the phrase most often associated with Brent and his former boothmate Kirk Herbstreit- "I tell ya, Herbie", so being that college football should be in full Musberger I thought the phrase was a perfect fit.
Even if Musberger never actually said it that way (Keith Jackson never actually uttered Whoa, Nellie, you know) it sounds like Brent and what better way to salute one of the announcers that make college football great as well as my son, with whom I've shared so much in sports.

I tell ya, Herbie:
                           Jim Harbaugh's gimmick has once again worn out its welcome at a coaching stop and even though it's not a firm conclusion, Michigan and its fans are at least thinking about life after Jimbo following the Wolverines dismal effort in a 35-14 loss to Wisconsin that was not as close as the final score indicates.
It's more than Harbaugh though, as his Alabama import for offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has had his bumpy spots this season and the once renowned defensive coordinator Don Brown has never recovered after Ohio State slapped 62 points on his defense last November.
Entering this season, most figured that this was Michigan's year to beat Ohio State with OSU using a new head coach, a freshman quarterback and getting the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor with the notion that if they couldn't do it under those conditions, when would they?
Suddenly, that looks less likely a month into the season than when it started and Harbaugh could need that game to keep his job, should this season continue to spiral downward.

I tell ya, Herbie,
                          I'm not sure where Michigan goes, should they decide to part ways with Mr. Harbaugh.
The last three hires have been an "Offensive Guru" (Rich Rodriguez), "Old School Michigan Man"  (Brady Hoke) and now the "Michigan Man Savior" in Harbaugh and even though Michigan hasn't become Minnesota under any of these coaches, none of them have brought the program to what it once was.
Put Harbaugh's hefty salary (7.5 million a year, second only to Nick Saban) aside and the cost of buying him out of his contract at the end of this season would be a heavy fifteen million more off the grid and ask-Just where do they go?
A big name coach might be leery after watching Harbaugh and a smaller level coach might cost the school donations, so I'm not sure what would make the fan base happy unless they try what they did in basketball (hiring Juwan Howard without head coaching experience) and throw the hail mary with a former big-name star off television like Charles Woodson and pray for the best.
I don't like saying this, but keeping Harbaugh around might be their only hope.
Who has it better than them, indeed?

I tell ya, Herbie,
                           The transfer portal with its accompanying new rules isn't working either and needs to be tuned up or rehauled completely.
I'm not against players being allowed to play four games without it counting against a players eligibility and a resulting redshirt, but we have moved from a system that was totally controlled by the schools (forcing players to sit out a year and controlling what schools the player could transfer to) to one totally controlled by the players.
Let's take the case of D'Eriq King, the quarterback for Houston, who recently announced his intention to redshirt as a senior after the Cougars stumbled to a 1-3 start under new coach Dana Holgorsen.
King stated that he will return to the Cougars for next season, but there is nothing to hold him to that decision and should we continue to travel down the road of players cashing in seasons because the team is not playing well?
If Houston signs off on this and King does return, I suppose it wouldn't be totally bad, but still, I wonder how fair it is to the seniors that aren't the marquee players that have to trudge through a bad final season without that option?
When you add the issues of players in the transfer portal that get approved for transfer to avoid sitting a season that doesn't seem to be always viable reasons for immediate eligibility, you have a system broken differently than the previous one.
Ohio State profited from this as much as anyone in enabling Justin Fields to eligible for this season, but that still doesn't make it the right thing.
The NCAA really needs to do some corrections for next season or for 2021 at worst.

I tell ya, Herbie
                          Bowling Green for years has been one of the better teams in the MAC along with Northern Illinois and rival Toledo, but at the group of five level, if you make one poor decision in coaching as Billy Beane said in "Moneyball" you hit the floor with a thud and not a bounce.
After two successful seasons under Dino Babers throwing the football using his version of the Air Raid, the Falcons hired Mike Jinks, who was an assistant at Texas Tech but had never been either head coach or coordinator at the college level.
MAC schools often have to hire first-time head coaches, but the coaches are usually from the midwest where MAC schools have to thrive in recruiting, so relationships and connections with high school coaches, etc are perhaps more important than in any conference in the country.
Jinks lacked all of those with his entire coaching career being spent in Texas and it's going to be a tough sell for Texas high schoolers to play for any Ohio school that isn't named Ohio State.
Jinks was fired midway through last season with a record of 7-24 and the Falcons with new coach Scott Loeffler are still paying for the hiring and mistakes of the Jinks era.
BG whipped I-AA Morgan State in their opener, but since was shutout at Kansas State 52-0, came home to face Louisiana Tech for a 35-7 homecoming loss and a humiliating 62-20 loss to Kent State, who entered the game with one win- an overtime win at home over Kennesaw State.
And who waits next for Loeffler's Falcons- Notre Dame in South Bend on national television.
Bowling Green will cash the check and pray Irish coach Brian Kelly is merciful as after all if you give up 62 to Kent State what will you allow to Notre Dame?
It will take time for Loeffler to turn things around and if he can't, it could be quite a while before the Falcons return to MAC prominence- A thud, not with a bounce.

I tell ya, Herbie,
                          And then there's Arkansas.
A once-proud program that looked to have a good hire before 2018 with Chad Morris.
Well, the Morris era isn't looking too hefty right now as his Hogs lost to another Mountain West team in San Jose State at home.
Arkansas fell behind 24-7 before rallying to tie the game and then allowing the Spartans to march down the field for the winning score with less than two minutes to play.
Arkansas was a 21 point favorite and one final kicker?
Arkansas paid San Jose State 1.5 million to come to Fayetteville and beat them.
Arkansas always says they have nothing to gain in playing Arkansas State, they could have played them and kept that 1.5 million in-state.

I tell ya, Herbie,
                           I ripped the ACC last week for being weak and Pittsburgh did give the ACC a big win with their late one-point victory over Central Florida but ranked Virginia struggled with Old Dominion, Boston College didn't dominate Big 10 doormat Rutgers and once-powerful Miami wobbled to a 17-12 win at home over Central Michigan.
At least those teams won though, as Mack Brown's Tar Heels lost to Appalachian State 34-31 in Chapel Hill.
Appalachian State is the perennial bully of the Sun Belt and looks to be a school that will likely be a possible chip that moves to a higher conference (still group of five) when the next shuffle of realignment occurs, but still, Appalachian State shouldn't be defeating North Carolina at home.



                         

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

TRS Boxing Ratings: Part Two

The TRS boxing ratings finish up with the lightweights down to the lowest weights along with the pound for pound rankings that some of you love and others loathe.

The following fighters are ranked in their old divisions for this rating period, but with intentions to move up, will be ineligible for the next period.

Mikey Garcia: Announced intention to fight in the junior welterweight division.
Gervonta Davis: Vacated WBA junior lightweight title to move to lightweight
Oscar Valdez: Vacated WBO featherweight title to move to junior lightweight

Lightweights
1) Vasyl Lomachenko WBA/WBC/WBO Champion 15 Pts
2) Mikey Garcia  12 Pts
3) Richard Commey IBF Champion 8 Pts
4) Devin Haney 4 Pts (Unranked)
5) Teofimo Lopez 3 Pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes: Luke Campbell

Junior Lightweights
1) Gervonta Davis 14 Pts (Up One)
2) Miguel Berchelt WBC Champion 12 Pts (Down One)
3) Tevin Farmer IBF Champion 8 Pts
4) Andrew Cancio 6 Pts (Up One)
5) Jamel Herring WBO Champion 5 Pts (Unranked)

Featherweights
1) Leo Santa Cruz WBA Champion 15 Pts
2) Gary Russell WBC Champion 10 Pts
    Josh Warrington IBF Champion (Up Two)
4) Oscar Valdez 4 Pts (Down One)
5) Shakur Stevenson 2 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes; Kid Galahad

Junior Featherweights
1) Emmanuel Navarrete WBO Champion 13 Pts (Up One)
2) Guillermo Rigondeaux 12 Pts (Down One)
3) Daniel Roman WBA/IBF Champion 9 Pts
    Rey Vargas WBC Champion
5) Brandon Figueroa  2 Pts
Also Received Votes: Ryosuke Iwasa

Bantamweights
1) Naoya Inoue IBF Champion 15 Pts
2) Luis Nery 12 Pts
3) Nonito Donaire WBA Champion 9 Pts (Up One)
4) Nordine Oubaali WBC Champion 5 Pts (Unranked)
5) Zolani Tete WBO Champion 2 Pts
Also Received Votes; Jason Moloney

Junior Bantamweights
1) Juan Francisco Estrada WBC Champion  15 Pts
2) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai 11 Pts
3) Kal Yafai WBA Champion 10 Pts
4) Jerwin Ancajas IBF Champion 6 Pts
5) Roman Gonzalez 3 Pts

Flyweights
1) Kosei Tanaka WBO Champion 15 Pts
2) Artem Dalakian WBA Champion 12 Pts
3) Charlie Edwards WBC Champion 6 Pts
4) Julio Cesar Martinez 5 Pts (Unranked)
    Moruti Mthalane IBF Champion (Up One)
Also Received Votes: Vincent LeGrand, Crisofer Rosales

Junior Flyweights and Under
1) Ken Shiro 14 Pts
2) Hiroto Kyoguchi 11 Prs
3) Elwin Soto 6 Pts (Unranked)
4) C.P. Freshmart 5 Pts (Up One)
5) Felix Alvarado 3 Pts (Down One)
    Wangheng Menayothin (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Angel Acosta

Pound for Pound
1) Vasyl Lomachenko 30 Pts
2) Errol Spence 26 Pts (Up One)
3) Terence Crawford 25 Pts (Down One)
4) Naoya Inoue 21 Pts
5) Canelo Alvarez 13 Pts
6) Gennady Golovkin 12 Pts (Up One)
7) Oleksandr Usyk 10 Pts (Down Two)
8) Luis Nery 6 Pts (Up One)
9) Dmitry Bivol 5 Pts (Unranked)
10) Manny Pacquiao 4 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Juan Francisco Estrada, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Kosei Tanaka, Tyson Fury, Jose Ramirez.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

TRS Boxing Ratings: Part One

Time for the first half of the TRS boxing ratings.
As always part one will cover the heavyweights through the junior welterweights with the lighter divisions in the second post.

The following fighters are ranked in their old divisions for this rating period, but with intentions to move up, will be ineligible for the next period.

Denis Lebedev: Announced intention to retire.
Jarrett Hurd: Announced intention to move from Junior Middleweight to Middleweight
Maurice Hooker: Announced intention to move from Junior Welterweight to Welterweight

Heavyweight
1) Tyson Fury 14 Pts (Up Two)
2) Deontay Wilder WBC Champion 13 Pts
3) Andy Ruiz WBA/IBF/WBO Champion 9 Pts (Unranked)
4) Anthony Joshua 6 Pts (Down Three)
5) Luis Ortiz 3 Pts (Down One)

Cruiserweights
1) Mairis Bredis WBO Champion 15 Pts (Up Two)
2) Yunier Dorticos IBF Champion 12 Pts (Up Two)
3) Ilunga Makabu 6 Pts (Unranked)
4) Krzysztof Glowacki 3 Pts (Down Two)
    Noel Mikaelin
    Andrew Tabiti
Also Received Votes: Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, Denis Lebedev,

Light Heavyweights
1) Oleksandr Gvozdyk WBC Champion 14 Pts
2) Dmitry Bivol WBA Champion 13 Pts
3) Sergey Kovalev WBO Champion 8 Pts
4) Artur Beterbiev IBF Champion 7 Pts
5) Gilberto Ramirez 2 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Jean Pascal

Super Middleweights
1) Callum Smith WBA Champion 15 Pts
2) Caleb Plant IBF Champion 11 Pts (Up One)
3) David Benavidez  9 Pts (Down One)
4) Anthony Dirrell WBC Champion 7 Pts (Up One)
5) Chris Eubank Jr 2 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Billy Joe Saunders WBO Champion

Middleweights
1) Canelo Alvarez WBA Champion 15 Pts
2) Gennady Golovkin 12 Pts
3) Demetrius Andrade WBO Champion 8 Pts (Up Two)
4) Jermall Charlo WBC Champion 4 Pts (Down One)
5) Daniel Jacobs 2 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes; Sergey Dereyvanchenko

Junior Middleweights
1) Julian Williams WBA/IBF Champion 14 Pts
2) Jarrett Hurd 11 Pts
3) Jaime Munguia WBO Champion 9 Pts
4) Erislandy Lara 6 Pts (Unranked)
5) Tony Harrison WBC Champion 3 Pts
Also Received Votes; Jermell Charlo

Welterweights
1) Errol Spence IBF Champion 14 Pts
2) Terence Crawford WBO Champion 13 Pts
3) Manny Pacquiao WBA Champion 9 Pts (Up One)
4) Keith Thurman 5 Pts (Down One)
5) Shawn Porter WBC Champion 4 Pts

Junior Welterweights
1) Jose Ramirez WBC/WBO Champion 15 Pts (Up One)
2) Regis Prograis WBA Champion 12 Pts (Down One)
3) Josh Taylor IBF Champion 9 Pts (Up One)
4) Maurice Hooker 3 Pts (Down One)
    Subriel Matias (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Ivan Baranchyk, Jack Catterall

Monday, September 23, 2019

Wasted: Browns miss upset opportunity in Rams loss

All Pictures: Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Browns were given a phenomenal effort by an injury savaged defense against the powerful offense of the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams and could have pulled a franchise defining upset on Sunday Night Football.

Instead, play-calling that was so awful that it's almost beyond description and when you add a quarterback that is inaccurate more than he is on the money and a severe lack of time for said quarterback to get rid of the football led to a 20-13 defeat that has many members of the media and many non-media observers wondering if Jimmy Haslam has made yet another mistake among the hundreds that he has made as owner of the franchise.

Baker Mayfield threw for the Browns only touchdown to Demetrius Harris, Nick Chubb ran for 96 yards on the ground and Austin Siebert was two for two on field goals in connecting from 23 and 35 yards.
The now 1-2 Browns travel to Baltimore next week in what could make or break the AFC division race against the 2-1 Ravens.

Brownie Bits

1) The playcalling in this game was so terrible that there are some chants that Freddie Kitchens is over his head in this job and some are already beginning to question his future employment as head coach.
I'm not there yet or even close to that.
I remember the early struggles of Joe Gibbs in Washington as a first-time head coach trying to call plays and it can be a process.
Still, you can't excuse awful and last night was just that.

2) The call that has so many Browns watchers howling was a 4th and nine on the Rams 40 with nine minutes remaining and the Browns down 17-13 still makes me just sadly tap my fingers in puzzlement.
The draw play to Nick Chubb gained nowhere near that and the Rams took over with excellent field position and the resulting drive ended in a Greg Zuerlein field goal to boost the Rams lead to seven.
Other than the "element of surprise", I just cannot imagine any other reason for that call.

3) But almost as bad on a scale that meant the game, Four shots from inside the Rams five yards line and holding all three timeouts, the Browns didn't attempt one time to run Nick Chubb and see what happened with the Rams perhaps expecting a run.
I know that sounds a lot like what I criticized above, but there is a difference.
Four plays to try something unexpected and the ability to stop the clock, if it is not effective and yet
the Browns threw four passes with a quarterback that has been less than dependable with his accuracy this season.

4) Let's talk about young Mr.Mayfield.
Some of the offensive issues are not his fault, but some do belong to him and he has managed to avoid many criticisms better than he has avoided opposing pass rushers.
The biggest has been when Mayfield faces the rush and in the first three games, the problems have been different ones.
At times, Mayfield tries to do too much and holds the ball too long and yet at others he seems cognizant of avoiding the rush and in the process, rushes through his reads too quickly and throws the ball inaccurately.
At the same time, Mayfield still shows why he was so highly regarded by some before the 2018 draft with some throws that shows what he can do.
His 3rd and 15 throw on the game's final drive to Jarvis Landry for 27 yards was as good as you'll see from a young quarterback.
You have to hope that these are the struggles that young passers face and that Baker Mayfield will work his way through them, but after three games that haven't been anything special, you would have to be very happy wearing crimson and cream glasses to see that he'll need to improve for the Browns to live up to expectations.

5) There are things to be critical of Baker Mayfield for as far as poise in the pocket, but one can easily understand why he cannot feel comfortable- the offensive line isn't giving him enough time.
The Browns tackle situation wasn't great entering the season, but the injury to the generally mediocre Chris Hubbard forces a natural guard in Justin McCray to play tackle and even though McCray has been better than expected, the line still has been subpar.
When you can't protect a young quarterback, they can take a beating and Baker Mayfield isn't the biggest passer to start with and what can often follow is developing a lot of bad habits.

6) Joel Bitonio is the best and most reliable member of the Browns offensive line, but he was badly bullied by Aaron Donald last night.
Now, there is a reason that Donald is the best defensive lineman in football and arguably the best defender in the game period, so Bitonio won't be the first or last interior lineman that will be savaged by Aaron Donald, but the Browns can only hope and I think it's very likely that Myles Garrett can have a similar effect on the game, but wow, what a disruptive player Aaron Donald is.
Just so you can groan- The Browns had two shots at selecting Aaron Donald in 2014, passing at 4 (traded the pick to Buffalo) and then at 8 with the disastrous pick of Justin Gilbert.

7) The news wasn't all negative as Nick Chubb had his best game of the season with 96 yards against the Rams.
Chubb can run inside or around the corner and simply never takes a carry off.
Love Nick Chubb and this team needs to see more of Chubb in the offense, which hopefully would relieve some pressure on Baker Mayfield.

8) Give the defense so much credit and they deserved to earn the win.
The Los Angeles Rams have one of the better offenses in the game and they were held to twenty points and only two touchdowns.
That's a phenomenal effort and if you would have asked me before the game, would you take your chances with the Rams scoring only twenty points, I'd take it.

9) Remember earlier when we mentioned that we hoped that Myles Garrett could develop into the type of force that Aaron Donald currently is?
Garrett showed on one play just what havoc he can bring to an opposing passer when he reached around a block and just with his hand knocked the ball from the grasp of Jared Goff.
The play would result in an eventual Austin Seibert field goal and Garrett can be such a special pass rusher that can impact a game even when double-teamed.

10) The Browns have to be very pleased with a secondary that played an entire game missing their entire starting secondary.
Denzell Ward and Greedy Williams both were injured in practice on Thursday, Damarious Randall missed his second game in a row and Morgan Burnett injured a quad muscle against the Jets.
T.J. Carrie and Juston Burris each intercepted Jared Goff and other than a problem knowing where Cooper Kupp was on a few occasions (Kupp caught both Rams touchdowns and caught eleven passes for 102 yards), it's tough to be too critical against an excellent passing game with all backups (The Browns usually play five DB's so technically all the starters were not out of the lineup).

11) Wrapping up, the Ravens game is big, but could have been bigger had Baltimore not lost close to Kansas City to fall to 2-1.
Win this game in Baltimore and the Browns finish a rough first month 2-2, which I think I would have taken before the season and move into a tie for the first spot in the division.
Lose it and the division is Baltimore's to lose after just one month as the Ravens would be 3-1, the Browns would be 1-3 tied with the winner of next Monday's battle between the 0-3 Steelers and 0-3 Bengals.
As big as it could be in the divisional race, the Browns knew that a 1-3 start wasn't out of the question.
What they didn't expect was how bad the offense was going to play in the first three games and I'm betting that Freddie Kitchens knows this has to be largely on him.
I think the Browns are going to be a much different team offensively in Baltimore and time will see how effective those differences will be.



Sunday, September 22, 2019

Boxing Challenge:Angulo nips Qullin in bruising battle

The boxing challenge was lighter this weekend, but the challenge did see two very good fights of the three and I have not seen the third fight as of this writing.

On Showtime Friday night, undefeated lightweight Michael Dutchover was upset in a good battle by Thomas Mattice in Midland, Texas.
I had Dutchover ahead by one point entering the eighth round of his first ten rounder and against his first true test, but Mattice landed a right hand that severely cut Dutchover and forced the fight to be stopped.
Mattice looked as good as I had ever seen him in previous bouts, but Dutchover had won the last three rounds on my card to take the slim lead and appeared that he was taking the fight over.
Hopefully, the arrangements can be made to put these two together for a rematch.

PBC's card from Bakersfield, California looked pretty weak on paper but was a pleasant surprise with highlight-reel level KO's from prospects Jesus Ramos and Chris Colbert and a mild upset with veteran Thomas Dulorme winning a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Terrel Williams in a fight that should have been in the challenge, but I missed it.

The main event was expected to be former WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin's chance to earn a shot at either of PBC's champions in the super middleweight division (WBC champion Anthony Dirrell or David Benavidez as they fight next Saturday and IBF titleholder Caleb Plant) with a win over late replacement Alfredo Angulo, who has seen his best days long ago and at the junior middleweight class as well.
Quillin drove to the early lead and seemed to be on his way to either stopping the ponderous Angulo or clearly dominating him to an easy decision.
Then after the third round, Quillin seemed to be crumbling before my eyes as Angulo's punches that you would think almost anyone could avoid began to land and Quillin wasn't taking them very well.
The fight had several exchanges that saw both men land and the Angulo charge severely battered Quillin in each of the final three rounds (all won by Angulo on my card) to make the fight very close.
Quillin landed far more punches, but most lacked steam while Angulo's punches were the harder punches with many fewer finding their target.
I scored it 95-95, but it had the "feel" of an Angulo win as I've written about draws in the past.
In the end, Angulo won the surprising upset split decision and the fight was very entertaining.
Still, I'd hate to see either of these two in a title fight because both are so shopworn that against world class fighters there is a good chance that they could be injured.
Quillin can't avoid Angulo, who's one of the slower punchers in the game, how would he fare against a faster fighter and Angulo's just going to be beaten up as he trudges forward into sharper punches.
I would hope both would consider retirement, but it's doubtful either will take my advice.
Still, if they have to continue their career, they need to be managed carefully and stay against fighters of their level, which is why I wouldn't have an issue with a rematch that would likely be entertaining and not see either fighter severely damaged.

Joseph Diaz won a majority decision on Facebook Live over Jesus Cuadro that I have not watched yet.
Perhaps Diaz will now receive his title challenge to IBF junior lightweight champion Tevin Farmer that could prove to be more entertaining in the media conferences and weigh-in than in the actual fight.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica outscored me two to one with the difference being the Thomas Mattice win over Michael Dutchover.
The Challenge now stands at 225-195

Buckeyes score 76 in a row!

For ten minutes, the Miami Red Hawks controlled the Ohio State Buckeyes and led after a field goal and safety, 5-0.
For the next five minutes, the Red Hawks played it close and the score was just 7-5 Ohio State after one quarter.
Then it was over- one minute into the second quarter, it was 21-5 and the rout was on.
Rout might be kindly put as Ohio State scored 76 unanswered points in winning 76-5 in Columbus.

Justin Fields threw for four scores and ran for two others to lead too many Buckeyes to the win.
Ohio State finishes their non-conference schedule at 4-0 with a 1-0 record in the Big Ten.
Ohio State travels to 3-1 Nebraska next Saturday night in Lincoln.

Olentangy Offerings

1) About the only bad thing that I could say about this loss was the fumble in the end zone by Justin Fields that gave the first two points to Miami.
That fumble led to the punt back and Miami kicked a field goal off that possession.
That about wraps up the Red Hawks day.

2) The Buckeye offense wasn't only about Justin Fields and his six scores, Chris Chugunov threw two more and Gunnar Hoak tossed another in the second half.
Six quarterbacks, nine touchdowns with two of those rushing.

3) Of the seven touchdown receptions, six of those were caught by different receivers as only Chris Olave caught two.

4) The standout play was another terrific catch by freshman receiver Garrett Wilson, who leaped over a defender, tipped the ball to himself, and then secured it on his back.
Write it down- Barring injury, Garrett Wilson is going to be one of the best receivers in the history of the program.


5) But as they used to say in advertising- BUT that's not all!
Freshman Jameson Williams, who comes with comparisons to Buckeye great Ted Ginn, made me think of, well, Ted Ginn when he grabbed a ten-yard pass from Gunnar Hoak and ran one of those straight-line Ted Ginn dashes without cuts or moves straight to the end zone for a 61 yard score.
Williams is the fastest player on the squad and the next two years with Williams and Garrett Wilson just might be special.


6) Chase Young added two sacks to his career total and both hits caused a Miami fumble and turnover.
I was asked while watching the game, how Young, who might be the first pick in the 2020 draft, compares to the Bosa brothers.
Very well, I'd say and I might put Young as a nick more disruptive as a pass rusher, so imagine that in someone's NFL defense.
Young would likely be the top choice if the team picks first doesn't have a quarterback need and would be very unlikely to slide out of the top five.

7) Jeffrey Okudah, who could be another first-rounder in next year's draft, intercepted his first pass as a Buckeye in the victory.
Okudah might have a chance to be the top-rated corner in the draft and a few interceptions is a good thing in the eyes of draft evaluators as it shows the ability to make a play in coverage and perhaps if a team needs it, the ability to move to safety as a ballhawk.

8) The Buckeyes 42 point second quarter was the most in one quarter since an Ohio State win in 1960.

9) I really hate the recaps of these blowouts, just not enough to write about.
I'm sure playing 3-1 Nebraska in Lincoln should be a test with their talented QB Taylor Martinez, who Ohio State recruited hard coming out of high school.
Martinez threw three touchdowns and over 300 yards without an interception in Nebraska's Big Ten opening win at Illinois, but a caveat-that game went down to the wire in Champaign with the Huskers winning only 42-38.
If you allow 38 points to the Illini, the Buckeyes should do well.

Back later with either boxing or the Browns recap against the Rams.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Road Trip: Hickory

The final day of the road trip saw a return to L.P. Frans Stadium for the first time in 12 years.

I don't often get melancholy a lot when I go to ballparks, but I did for a bit going into the home of the Hickory Crawdads.

A lot had changed since that day in 2007, my travel partners had changed, Ryan had moved out of our home as a young man to a married adult and I don't see Battlin' Bob nearly as much as I used to, although it's a rare day that we aren't in touch and Bob, if you are reading this, I hope you'll consider making a trip with us in 2020!
The blog was a mere three months old in 2007 and now it's going to be turning into a teenager before the next baseball season starts.
Only three players from this game are still in the major leagues with Hickory's Jared Hughes (Phillies) and Tony Watson (Giants) along with Columbus pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (Nationals).
Columbus, Georgia no longer has a minor league team and the affiliate of the then-Catfish (Tampa Bay) is no longer in the South Atlantic League.
The technology is different too as the pictures shown in that recap were taken with this funny box looking item then known as a digital camera, where we now take photos with cameras and tablets.
It just made me think and reflect a little as I walked around and that is usually a good thing.

We didn't have nearly as much to do on our final day and decided to start with lunch in Asheville before we would leave for Hickory.
Being that we had only stopped at Rocky's Hot Chicken, we needed to figure out what would be a good stop for lunch.
Needing local advice, that meant another stop in the morning to ask Skylar for her advice and we sifted through the three options that she graciously offered to decide.
Skylar's help was invaluable throughout this trip and hopefully, she'll be at the hotel for our 2020 trip.
She'll likely be running a hotel someday, so she could already be at another job by then!

Our first choice was extremely busy as in a wait of near an hour as told to us by the hostess, so we moved to our second.
Universal Joint had an excellent scouting report from Skylar, but we were warned about it being difficult to find parking, which with me driving again was something to keep tabs on.
It was as difficult as advertised and I parked in the bank parking lot across the street before running into Universal Joint to ask about parking there.
The person I asked said the vehicle would likely be OK but keep an eye on it, so I made sure to sit in a spot that the vehicle was in my sight range.

Universal Joint is located inside what appears to be a very old house from the '30s that has fitted a restaurant into two rooms for an inside eating area and an outdoor patio arrangement for the fresh air lover as well.
I don't mind eating outside, but it's not anything that I have to do, so I was happy to go along with Fred's hatred of alfresco dining!
I ordered their "Firecracker" burger with some tater tots with hot sauce and scallions.
It was very good, but the parking was a concern, I kept worrying about the car and couldn't quite enjoy the meal as much.
I suppose that's part of being a worrier!

The drive to Hickory is pretty uneventful, 75 miles across I-40 and after we found the stadium, we still had time to kill and no one felt like sitting in a hot car, so we drove to a Jack in the Box to sit in the AC.
I had only ever visited Jack in the Box on my other visit to Hickory and if you go back to that trip, all three of us were dealing with what was likely mild food poisoning, so it was not only hard to enjoy then, but hard to even remember!
After a small burger to try and avoid eating at the park (and the rest of the night), we returned to L.P. Frans Stadium to work on the Crawdads (Rangers) and the Charleston River Dogs (Yankees).

The autographing access isn't quite as good as twelve years ago, but it's pretty close and you can try to get players from both teams.
You can stand near the left-field clubhouse by a fence and there is plenty of space for anyone trying to autograph.
I needed very few from the Crawdads after two visits to Hagerstown, so even though I bought the team's update set, I decided to toss that in the bag and save it for next year's Down East (Rangers High A) visit to Frederick in order to concentrate on Charleston, who did not visit Hagerstown this season.
I did make an exception to add the Rangers first-round pick Josh Jung of Texas Tech on a USA card to add to the "Corey White" pile to send to Tennessee, but other than Jung- it was all Riverdogs.
I had the most for Josh Stowers and Josh Breaux, as they all had mainstream cards and I was carrying stuff for others too.
Both players had been named to the SAL all-star game, but due to injuries, neither player traveled to Charleston.
Both Stowers and Breaux signed a few and said they would finish the remainder after the game and both did indeed finish my cards postgame.
It's not always the case when you ask postgame, but I was pleased that both lived up to their word.

Roansey Contreras was the top pitching prospect for the Riverdogs (in record anyway) was a player I had plenty for in Charleston and SAL prospect cards, well I had only one of each and the others were for others.
Contreras signed one and handed the rest back, I asked if he could hit one more (so I had the SAL and Charleston wiped out), he did but seemed less than pleased.
I don't like to do that and rarely do, but the Yankees High A team is in Florida and by the time I'll see them again in AA Trenton, the signing habits are even worse, so I occasionally make an exception.
I added Brandon Lockridge on a few cards and talked to him about the Home Run Derby in Charleston WV that he finished second place to Hickory's Curtis Terry.
Lockridge discussed that the event took so long, yet was cut shorter than expected and still took a physical toll on him after participating.
I still had plenty of team set cards to work on (as well as Stowers and Breaux) as did Lefty, so postgame graphing was an easy sell to make.
Fred was invaluable to Lefty and I post-game as he asked players for their name and we did very well in getting players- except one.
Luis Medina had a Topps Heritage card among others and was the only RiverDog that walked by during pregame without stopping, so he was the main player that I really needed.
Fred asked Medina for his name (It was very dark and hard to see faces) and Medina walked by, said Medina as Fred then asked him to stop.
Medina then pointed somewhere and kept moving- I won't be looking forward to seeing Medina in Trenton.
Oh, well this happens at times.
The drive home was quick and after checking back at the hotel, it didn't take long to hit the bed after packing all my things for the drive home.

The final day was leisurely paced with stops in Bristol Tennessee for lunch at the Mad Greek, where they would redeem themselves with Fred for their problems last year and dessert at Cootie Brown's for their vaunted Key Lime Pie, which was beyond words as always!
We would return to Pulaski on the way home, where with a home game for the Yankees that evening, we were able to buy the team sets that eluded us on the first day.
We didn't stick around for the game because we would be getting home late and with the new setup at Calfee Field, working on the team set would mean staying after the game and that was just too much time to drive after a long day.

What a great trip!
Great company and lots of fun equaled a very successful trip.
Thanks to Fred Landucci and Lefty Koch for going along and helping to make it such a terrific week.
I take these things one year at a time for financial reasons and every year I'm able to do it, I'm grateful for the chances to see different things and do them with my friends.

Only one more road trip left to write about and I'll try to do that soon on a slow day!
Back later with the Buckeyes against Miami Ohio from the Big Horseshoe!





Friday, September 20, 2019

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge is a bit light with top fights this weekend, but there are cards on Showtime, FS1, and Facebook to choose from, so even though the challenge doesn't have what it usually does, there is still boxing to peruse around the college football weekend.

Friday night on Showtime will bring the return of the ShoBox series and their prospects meeting prospects composition for the series.
The main event from Midland, Texas will be a challenge match with promising California lightweight Michael Dutchover facing Cleveland's Thomas Mattice in a ten rounder that will be the first scheduled at that distance for both prospects.
I've very impressed with Dutchover's appearances on the Facebook cards by Thompson boxing and on ShoBox and I think he is definitely a prospect to keep tabs on.
Mattice was thought to have high-level potential as well, but his split decision "win" on ShoBox last year over Zhora Hamazaryan was perhaps the worst decision of the year and even though I thought he might have edged Hamazaryan in their rematch, it was scored a draw and the bout that followed, Mattice lost a close decision to Will Madera.

Saturday's main event on Fox Sports One might have been a big deal five or six years ago and a division ago, but none the less, it'll be former WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin against former junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo in a twelve rounder.
Quillin has fought only twenty rounds in the almost four years since his first-round knockout loss to Daniel Jacobs, but still has a name, while the badly faded Angulo is a late replacement for Caleb Truax, who was injured while training for a rematch with Quillin after their first fight was ruled a no-contest in the second round after cuts stopped the fight following a clash of heads.
A Quillin win would likely earn him a title shot against IBF champion Caleb Plant and while Quillin wouldn't exactly be deserving of such a fight under normal conditions, a cursory scan of the weak 168-pound division shows few fighters that would be more deserving of a title challenge.

Saturday on Facebook, Golden Boy's slate will see match former featherweight title challenger and current junior lightweight contender Joseph Diaz against Jesus Cuadro.
Diaz, who lost to Gary Russell in a featherweight title try in his only loss, holds several quality wins, including one over minor junior lightweight beltholder Andrew Cancio by knockout.
A Diaz win over Cuadro, a journeyman that has lost each time the opposition improved, could position him for a chance at IBF champion Tevin Farmer, who has had several confrontations with Diaz both in person and on social media.

Lightweights. 10 Rds
Michael Dutchover vs Thomas Mattice
R.L: Mattice Unanimous Decision
TRS: Dutchover KO 6

Super Middleweights. 12 Rds
Peter Quillin vs Alfredo Angulo
R.L: Quillin KO 7
TRS: Quillin KO 5

Junior Lightweights. 10 Rds
Joseph Diaz vs Jesus Cuadro
Both: Diaz Unanimous Decision


PPM

A huge week in college football and with several games with top teams against each other, I am adding extra contests to the game of the week.

Last Week:10-4
Overall: 31-7

College
Ohio State over Miami Ohio 53-3
Houston over Tulane 34-24
Boise State over Air Force 30-20
N.C State over Ball State 40-14
LSU over Vanderbilt 42-14
Washington over BYU 27-20
Bowling Green over Kent State 28-25

Games of the Week
Wisconsin over Michigan 24-19
Georgia over Notre Dame 30-17
Auburn over Texas A&M 28-20

Pro
Rams over Browns 28-17
Seahawks over Saints 31-21

Game of the Week
Chiefs over Ravens 35-21

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Things I think: College Football

Time for the weekly thoughts on college football and even though it seems like even when I try to get away from Fred Landucci's beloved Tennessee Vols, I just can't after this excellent ESPN article looking back at Lane Kiffin's one year in Knoxville.

1) The ESPN article on the crazy one season spent by Lane Kiffin was not only excellent, but it also made me think about what could have happened had Kiffin remained as the coach of the Volunteers.
Looking at the various messes since with Derek Dooley, Butch Jones and currently Jeremy Pruitt, I'm not sure that things could have been worse for Big Orange. but I'm not sure that they would have been much better either.
Kiffin was only 34/35 years of age as head coach of the Vols and I'm not sure he was mature enough to be a top-notch head coach.
Tennessee would have likely recruited well under Kiffin and that would have helped give them a chance at success, but could they continue to recruit well if the drop off in record occurred?
My guess as to the most likely result? Tennessee wins some games that they likely would have been the underdog in, lost others to teams of lesser talent and would have had lots of entertaining media events and clashes with other teams.
I would think that Lane Kiffin would have a shorter shelf life even with success and he would be unlikely to still reside in Knoxville.

2) The Arizona State-Michigan State game from East Lansing (10-7 ASU ) was a snoozer until the last three minutes or so, but two notes on the contest.
Mark Dantonio might need to either accept that offensive schemes for Sparty need to be updated because what the Spartans have been doing over the last three seasons just isn't getting the job done.
Dantonio might be so stuck in his Jim Tressel-like ways that he may not be able to make the changes that need to be completed, but Michigan State needs to at least talk to him about those potential moves.
The officials botched the final field goal attempt after Michigan State seemed to have tied the game at 10, a review saw Sparty called for 12 men on the field and another field goal try to tie the game.
On that kick, the kick drifted wide, but Arizona State had a player that should have been called for leaping, which would have given Michigan State another chance to force overtime.
The visiting team's conference provides the officials, so the mistake was by Pac 12 officials and an apology issued, which as always is too late.

3) The big run by Maryland sputtered to a stop after a 20-17 loss in Philadelphia to Temple.
It's not only the loss to a group of five school, but it is also that after showing a great deal of offense against Syracuse, the Terrapins had multiple chances to win this game.
Temple slammed the door twice on Maryland back Anthony McFarland from the one-yard line with three and a half minutes to go and again stopped Maryland at the ten with seconds remaining.
Now the conference schedule starts for Maryland against Penn State this Saturday and even though Maryland's four games that follow Penn State are all possible victories (at Rutgers, Indiana, at Purdue and Minnesota), the end of the season is brutal as they finish up with Michigan, at Ohio State, Nebraska, and at Michigan State.
The season's not lost, but it feels like a missed opportunity for Mike Locksley's first Terrapin team.

4) And there is the ACC, who deservedly pats itself on the back for the number one rated team in the nation in Clemson, but collectively appears to be about as competitive as the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters.
Other than 25th ranked Virginia (3-0) the conference doesn't have another ranked team and other than Wake Forest, doesn't have another undefeated team, which is pretty sad only three weeks into the season.
Last Saturday saw N.C. State lose at West Virginia by 17, which isn't a terrible loss, but also saw Virginia Tech need a rally in the fourth quarter to defeat 1-AA Furman, Pitt throw away a chance to upset Penn State and the two worst losses of the day with I-AA Citadel defeating Georgia Tech at home and Kansas, who hadn't won a road game against a power five team in eleven seasons, crunching Boston College by 24 in Boston!
I would say it is very likely to that the Clemson opponent in the ACC title game will have three losses and possibly four.
Not a great matchup to attract fans to your title game.

5) The hottest coaching seat has to be occupied by USC's Clay Helton after the Trojans road loss to BYU in overtime.
It's not just the loss to the Cougars, it's the next three games, all against ranked teams (Utah, Washington, and Notre Dame) that they will be underdogs against and two on the road.
A 2-4 start isn't out of the question for Helton and with a new AD to be hired soon after the resignation of Lynn Swann, Helton is more likely to be shown the door than stay around for 2020.

6) I found it interesting that former Northern Illinois and Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill has been brought on staff at Virginia Tech as a special assistant to Justin Fuente.
Kill was forced from the Gophers head job after 2015 by doctors that recommended he leave coaching to avoid neurological damage from epileptic attacks.
Fuente's Hokies finished 6-7 last season and their 2-1 record is less than impressive with a near loss to Furman and a road loss at Boston College, who as mentioned earlier was blasted by hapless Kansas at the same stadium.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Cleaning out the inbox

The inbox cleaning begins with a great article from the Athletic on the original 2000 coaching staff with the always interesting Mike Leach at Texas Tech.
That squad between the players and the coaching staff includes eight coaches that would be head coaches, eight more that would be coordinators at the D-I level and seven besides that would become coaches at various smaller levels.
It is really a fascinating look into the world of Leach at Tech and how his influence on those coaches affects the college football world 19 years later.

ESPN writes of the story of the network's first live event and why their broadcast library had no such record of the broadcast.
The slow-pitch softball game between the Kentucky Bourbons and the Milwaukee Schlitz was the first game telecast from ESPN in September of 1979 and the tape from that game had been missing for years.
The article has a companion piece from the E 60 program, which I'm sure you can find with a short Google search.

Back to the Athletic with the story of the first game between Boise State and Marshall from 1994.
That game was the 1-AA national semi-final with the winner playing for the national championship and Marshall was the more established of the two, making trips to the previous three title games, winning one of the three games, all against Youngstown State.
Youngstown was waiting for the winner of this one as well and while being more of a Boise State story, there is plenty of 1-AA history and Marshall as well.
Hard to believe twenty-five years later that Boise State is the national brand and the football power of the Mountain West, while Marshall is probably the choice for the traditional kingpin of Conference USA, which didn't even exist in 1994!

Politico writes of the "culture of fear and self-dealing" at Liberty University in Lynchburg Va.
Liberty is the university that seems to run and own the area and is now led by Jerry Falwell, Jr, who you may have heard his name in the news of late.
The article covers many problems with the school and the Falwell family and what I was surprised about was the sources that were spoken to that seemed to have a real love for the university and even the family, but feel that something needed to be done in order to 'save' it.
I found that quite interesting and having been to Lynchburg, the power that the Falwell's possess, I can completely understand the sources reluctance to go against the family.

Finally, Ramon Malpica invited me to guest on his new venture and I was happy to do so.
Ramon asked me questions about myself, favorite things, opinions on gun laws, the USFL and at the end of course-Boxing.
Please give it a listen and rate and subscribe on the podcast platform of your choice.





Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Garrett Grounds Jets-Browns win first 23-3

Myles Garrett sacked New York Jets quarterbacks three times and Odell Beckham grabbed a Baker Mayfield pass and ran 89 yards for a score as the Cleveland Browns improved to 1-1 with a 23-3 win in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Baker Mayfield threw for over 300 yards, Nick Chubb ran for 62 yards including a 19-yard touchdown and Odell Beckham finished the night with six catches for 161 yards to pace the Browns offense.
Cleveland will host the St.Louis Rams on Sunday night on national television.

Brownie Bits

1) Myles Garrett just destroyed the New Jets quarterbacks with three sacks and two other hits to clearly be the most dominant player on the field.
Garrett's physical ability may be unmatched by any defensive lineman in football and few are in his class as a pass rusher.
Any offense that has the Browns on their schedule had better scheme to figure out how to at least try to keep their quarterback away from Myles Garrett.

2) However, Garrett knocked Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian from the game with one of two roughing the passer penalties and two other offsides calls (one was declined), so it's not like Garrett doesn't have some things to work on.
The question isn't that Garrett needs to work avoiding late hits- he does.
The question is with the constantly evolving standard on what roughing is and isn't, how can any player know what is and isn't and how does it affect their play?
Garrett doesn't seem to be a dirty player, he isn't a Suh-type player, but eventually, he's going to slow a step to avoid a penalty possibility and that will come at a cost of effectiveness.
Look at the difference in the career slope of Clay Matthews Jr, who became a different player after these rule changes, moving from a player that could have potentially received Hall of Fame consideration to one that is now a completely different level of player.

3) Odell Beckham showed just what he can bring to an offense.
Beckham's one-handed catch in the first quarter was the type of catch that just amazes me and his ability to take a ten-yard pass and go 89 yards with the acceleration shown usually by track stars in shorter distance races.
Odell Beckham will always bring difficulties (off the field issues and constantly worries about his health), but what talent and what he brings to an offense when he is on the field.

4) I know the NFL has their rules on uniforms, helmets, visors etc, but removing a player from the field on a third and goal play because his visor was the wrong color is ridiculous.
In those situations, the proper move should be to tell the player that it needs to be changed during the next change of possession and the player would not be allowed to play after that until the equipment was changed.
Forcing Odell Beckham to leave at that point in the possession was ridiculous and needs to be addressed with the league's policy.

5) It was nice to see Austin Seibert connect on all three of his field goal attempts with two of them over forty yards.
The rookie missed an extra point in the loss to Tennessee and the Browns kicking situation has had its share of questions over the last few seasons.
Seibert took a small step forward with his performance in New York.

6) Baker Mayfield was OK in the win.
Mayfield is still learning and dealing with the adjustments that defenses make for a young quarterback and did make some nice throws.
However, he's beginning to show a disturbing tendency to hang some of his throws high and leaving his receivers very vulnerable.
David Njoku took a hit that resulted in a concussion that finished his evening on a high Mayfield throw and both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham took unneeded shots as they leaped to catch Mayfield passes that were less than accurate.
I'm not saying that it is a problem yet, but it is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

7) Some of the inaccurate tosses weren't Mayfield's fault as he was often forced out of the pocket and was sacked three times by the Jets front, which won't make you recall any great pass rushes of the past.
The offensive line is a major concern other than Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter and I wonder if the Browns would be willing to send a 1 to Washington for Trent Williams, who would instantly upgrade the line, but would mean the Browns would have sent two first-rounders in a row away.
If I could get Washington down to a 2 and maybe another pick, I would think John Dorsey would almost have to do it.

8) Morgan Burnett left the game early with an injury and no word on its seriousness.
With Demetrius Randall missing this game and uncertain for the Rams game, the loss of Burnett would leave the Browns very vulnerable against the Rams passing game down the middle.

9) The Browns could have had some of their offensive struggles against Gregg Williams' defense because he knows most of the Cleveland personnel so well.
The Browns certainly had their successes, but Williams managed to keep an overmatched team in a game that with average quarterbacking could have been won.
Give Williams his share of credit for keeping it this close.

10) The enigmatic David Njoku hasn't been proven to be able to be counted on, but if his concussion causes him to miss time, the Browns will lose an element of their offense that the backups cannot provide- the pass-catching threat.
None of the current three backups are more than blocking tight end and the only player that could have filled the role as a receiving tight end was released in the final cutdown in Seth DeValve.
I'm not sure how this can be plugged if Njoku misses serious time.

11)  A win is a win and even though it was the hapless Jets using their third-string. quarterback for most of the game, they do all count the same.
Was this a great performance? No, and the Browns will have to improve with the tougher stretch coming next over the next month (Rams, Ravens, 49ers, and Seahawks).
However, they did what they needed to do against a bad team- a small step forward.