Monday, September 25, 2023

Browns bully Titans 27-3

     The Cleveland Browns had to wonder how they would respond in a short week after a heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The response was more than sufficient as the Browns pummelled the Tennessee Titans 27-3 by Lake Erie to improve to 2-1 on the season.

DeShaun Watson finished with 289 yards passing with two touchdowns with Amari Cooper catching seven passes for one hundred sixteen yards and one of the Watson touchdown passes.

Cleveland finished with five sacks with three and a half of those sacks from Myles Garrett alone.

Cleveland will host 2-1 Baltimore next Sunday before their off-week.

Brownie Bits

1)  The game could have been even more lopsided after one of the worst calls that you will see made against the Browns in the first half.

DeShaun Watson hit Amari Cooper down the sideline for what would be a twenty-five-yard gain and Cooper avoided the tackle try of Kristian Fulton and raced to the end zone uncontested.

But the whistle had blown as Cooper was ruled out of bounds after the catch.

Replays showed Cooper not only didn't step out of bounds, he wasn't even close to stepping out of bounds.

2) While the terrible call didn't cost the Browns the game in a 27-3 win, Cleveland would not score a touchdown on the drive, settling for a Dustin Hopkins field goal but it did cost DeShaun Watson a third touchdown pass and a three hundred yard passing day.

Watson showed a few signs out of the pocket from his days in Houston and he avoided the mistakes that cost the Browns so badly in Pittsburgh.

3) Much of that was due to an improved performance from the offensive line, who did allow three sacks of Watson but was much better than in their defeat in Pittsburgh.

Dawand Jones virtually eliminated the Titans' best pass rusher, Harold Landry, from the game, not allowing Landry a sack and only one solo tackle.

They may not have been perfect but their effort allowed DeShaun Watson to relax and perhaps for the first time as a Brown, allow the game to come to him rather than act out of impatience.

4) Kareem Hunt did play after being signed earlier in the week, carrying five times for thirteen yards, and while Hunt's numbers were far from outstanding, simply having the faith of Kevin Stefanski to see the field after only a few days of practice is a good thing and shows that Hunt is entering the season in good shape despite missing training camp.

5) It didn't hurt the Browns but the reviews on the first game for a Nick Chubbless running back group were very mixed.

Jerome Ford did catch a touchdown pass and ran for another score but his rushing numbers were a tiny nineteen yards on ten carries, the most for any Brown.

Pierre Strong's twenty-seven yards on six carries led the Cleveland ground game.

6) And then there was the Cleveland defense, which notched its third dominant game in as many outings.

Cleveland held the Titans to 94 yards of total offense, sacked Ryan Tannehill five times, and Derrick Henry to only twenty rushing yards on eleven carries.

Dominance in the numbers and on the field.

7) The key play of the game was late in the first half, with the Browns leading 13-3 but Tennessee was in the Cleveland red zone without a timeout.

Ryan Tannehill has a shot at the end zone and knows he has to go to the end zone because anything in-bounds will end the half with Tennessee getting zero points for the drive.

Myles Garrett runs over his man, Tannehill doesn't have the slightest chance of getting rid of the ball and Mike Vrabel starts walking to the locker room, not even trying to get his field goal team on the field.

The game was only 13-3 but you could sense Tennessee had the life taken from them.

8) Tennessee's second-half possession is as follows; punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game.

Tennessee didn't gain more than nineteen yards on any possession in the second half and didn't run more than six plays on any of those possessions.

9) Myles Garrett must have heard the talk after the Steeler loss comparing him to T.J. Watt and not favorably so.

While Watt is a more consistent player, Garrett's peak games might be better than those of Watt but those don't appear every week.

Garrett had one of those games this week and he just wrecked every Titan in his wake.

At his best, Myles Garrett can be the best pass rusher in the league, he just needs to play that way more often.

10)  Now the Browns will host Baltimore, who were upset in overtime at home by the Colts, who were playing Gardner Minshew at quarterback.

That's a really ugly loss and Baltimore will come to town ready for redemption.
Cleveland needs the win going into their bye week as they will be hosting San Francisco, who looks as strong as any team in the league through the three weeks following the off week.

Cleveland is the only team in the league with four home games in their first five games and at minimum need to be 3-2, so in order to have no pressure against San Francisco, a win against the Ravens is a must.

Baltimore hasn't dazzled in their wins over Houston and Cincinnati and today's loss to Indianapolis is a bad one but they will be ready as they always are for the Browns.

It should be a good one.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Ohio State nudges past Notre Dame 17-14!

     Chip Trayanum burrowed his way into the end zone with one second to play to give the Ohio State Buckeyes a 17-14 win over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in South Bend in a game that will be remembered for a long time by both teams and their fans.

Kyle McCord finished with 240 yards and notched his name into Buckeye history with a final drive that saw him throw for third or fourth down conversions three times.

TreVeyon Henderson finished with 104 yards rushing with sixty-one on a third-quarter touchdown gallop with Emeke Egbuka leading the receivers with seven catches for ninety-six yards.

Ohio State improves to 4-0 and will have next Saturday off before playing currently undefeated Maryland in two weeks,

Olentangy Offerings

1) Jim Ross used to call particularly intense matches in pro wrestling as "one of the most physical battles etc...." and that phrase came to mind watching this game as both teams pounded away at each other with offenses that may not have been terrific but with power.

The hitting was hard and the grit was through the roof, so that's what one loves to see from high-level college football.

2) Ryan Day may have given Buckeye fans what they have been looking for with his post-game comments with NBC's Kathryn Tappen (more on that later) but his play calling again ranged from great to questionable.

His going for it in this first half rather than kicking a field goal made the game-winning drive more stressful than it had to be and I wondered about his play call on 4th and one with a jet sweep with Emeka Egbuka.

Day talked about toughness after the game which I liked but with the game possibly on the line, Day rolled the die with a finesse play.

3) The winning touchdown drive by Kyle McCord was one that no matter how McCord's career plays out will make him a player memorable to Ohio State fans.

McCord's cool demeanor allowed him to convert two third downs, including a third and nineteen to move the ball to the Notre Dame one and a fourth down on the final drive to give OSU the win.

I wouldn't say that McCord has taken away every worry about the offense but he did come through when Ohio State needed him most.

4) The forgotten play might be Kyle McCord hitting Julian Fleming for exactly seven yards on a fourth and seven.

McCord put the ball exactly where he needed to and give Julian Fleming credit for driving forward against the Notre Dame tackler because where Fleming caught the ball, he needed to push past the defender to be assured of reaching the first down line.

5) Some of the reasons that Notre Dame began to wear down the Buckeye defense was the amount of time that the defense was on the field in the second half.

Ohio State had only two possessions in the third quarter and one of those drives lasted only one play when TreVeyon Henderson ran sixty-one yards for a touchdown.

When a physical team like Notre Dame has the ball for that much time, any defense will wear down a bit.

6) Still, the Ohio State defense stood tall against Sam Hartman and looked very good for most of the game.

They didn't force turnovers but for the most part, they made the stops when they needed to (with the exception of the last Irish score) and it is easy to be generally happy for the defense.

7) And the final drive never happens if the defense doesn't step up and stop Notre Dame on five plays shortly after Ohio State was stopped on a fourth and one.

Sam Hartman hit Rico Flores for a twelve-yard gain on first down and Aurdic Estime ran for eleven on the next play, and it wasn't unrealistic to think one more first down could put Ohio State against the wall and two could mean never touching the ball again.

8) Instead, the Buckeyes dropped Sam Hartman for a loss of five, J.T.Tuimolau blew up a Hartman screen pass, almost intercepted the ball, and he would have walked into the end zone then and there for a score before stopping a run play for three yards to force a punt.

9) In the first half, Chip Trayanum was barreling over the Irish, and with a third and goal from the one, Trayanum came out and Miyan Williams came in and was stopped cold.

Ryan Day decided to go for it and Kyle McCord's pass was incomplete, leaving the Buckeyes with nothing to show for a strong drive.

10) My issue with Ryan Day's playcalling in clutch situations is this- all too often the play he calls on third down suits fourth down better and vice versa.

Take the example of number nine, the time to catch the defense off guard when they expect a run and have Kyle McCord throw is on third down and on fourth down, when the defense has to count for any possibility, that's when you slam the ball at them.

11) The short yardage game needs some work, failing on two fourth and one opportunities, and making the Chip Trayanum game-winner much closer than it had to be, especially against what proved to be only ten Irish defenders.

You can bet your Buckeye that Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin are watching the Buckeye struggles in short yardage and taking notes.

12)  Marvin Harrison Jr. injured his ankle in the third quarter but did return to the game after checking out medically.

Harrison did move the chains with a diving catch for nineteen yards on the final drive but I'm glad that Buckeyes have an off week next Saturday to give Harrison some time to hopefully return his ankle to the lineup.

13) Finally, the Ryan Day promo to Kathryn Tappen.

Day was fired up by something former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz had said earlier in the week, picking Notre Dame because Ohio State was always soft in the clutch.

Day got pretty emotional about Holtz's comments and discussed his teams' toughness along with the doubts that some in the media have had on the topic.

Ryan Day hasn't always been easily accepted by the fanbase as someone from outside of Ohio as the head coach and his rant has to be embraced by Buckeye fans.

I understand why he is sensitive to the criticism of the program's perceived toughness and it has to feel good to win a game than came down to toughness to a degree.

14) I really liked the Notre Dame green jersey and like it better than their regular navy blue version.

Wish the Irish would consider using them more often.

15)  All things considered, this wasn't the smoothest game ever or the biggest win but it might rank near the top for Ryan Day, and it might be a win that helps a young team gain confidence in themselves for a road win against a top ten rated team.

How important it eventually becomes will play out over the season but it was a win that Ohio State needed for their state of mind and for the perception of the program.

Boxing Challenge: Zhang Poleaxes Joyce

     Joe Joyce made the case after his loss to Zhilei Zhang that Zhang never hurt him and it was only the swelling of his right eye that cost Joyce a victory as Joyce was wearing Zhang down and would have finished him late as Joyce did to Daniel DuBois and Joseph Parker.

Joyce will be unable to make a similar case after being knocked out by Zhang in the third round of their London rematch with a brutal right hook that sent Joyce to the floor and unable to beat the count.

Joyce looked like he tried some things in the first round to get around the southpaw stance of Zhang but he didn't solve anything and Zhang landed some thudding lefts and the right hook that would end the fight began to be a factor in the second.

Zhang controlled the third round and with seconds remaining, Zhang landed a straight left that led Joyce into a crunching right hook that sent Joyce to the floor to be counted out after the bell rang.

Joyce couldn't be saved by the bell and it didn't matter as he couldn't get up in time anyway, so Zhang is in line for a potential 2024 shot at Oleksandr Usyk, although he called out Tyson Fury after the fight and that is more intriguing to me on matchup alone.

While I could see Usyk outboxing the lumbering Zhang and taking an easy decision, Tyson Fury might be a different story.

It's true, that Fury has the boxing skills to easily outpoint Zhang but I don't think as highly of Fury's chin as many do. While Zhang isn't the puncher that Deontay Wilder is, Zhang has the size and body frame to bang with Fury in the trenches that other Fury opponents have lacked, which may render Fury's tactic of leaning and lying on the opponent to wear them down obsolete.

You would favor Fury, of course, but I must admit I'd give Zhang a chance of pulling the upset, and I would like to see how Fury fares against an opponent of similar height and weight.

As for Joe Joyce, I'd say his future isn't bright at 38, his second loss in a row, and for a fighter that has relied on his chin taking punches to wear the opponent out, being knocked out takes away some of his invulnerability.

I'm not willing to say Joyce is through, it could be that he just can't figure out Zhilei Zhang, and things like that in boxing have happened before but Joyce will need to be matched carefully to rebuild his confidence and there may be some money still with opponents inside the U.K. but one more loss would be the end of the line for Joyce as a plausible contender.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 148 Pts (2) 
Ramon Malpica: 135 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 103 Pts (2)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Boxing Challenge

     The boxing challenge will have only the main events of two cards as the sport waits for next weekend's Canelo Alvarez's title defense against Jermell Charlo.

ESPN+ is live in the afternoon from the UK with a heavyweight rematch that may see the winner gain an eventual championship chance as Zhilei Zhang of China attempts to keep his minor WBO title and more importantly his spot as the eventual WBO mandatory challenger against Joe Joyce, who formerly held that position.

"The Juggernaut" Joyce had looked indestructible in his wins over Daniel DuBois and former WBO champion Joseph Parker as Joyce took the best shots from both fighters and wore them down in late-round knockout victories before losing to Zhang as the heavy favorite.

Zhang hit Joyce with every jab that he threw, closing Joyce's right eye, and forcing a stoppage in round six.

Joyce activated his rematch clause and should he win, he would be back into the slot that was in before the first fight- holding a minor WBO title and back in line as a future mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk.

Should Joyce lose, however, Joyce might never receive a title shot at his age (38), and even with only two losses, Joyce could be headed to heavyweight purgatory.

Zhang had no choice but to take the contractually obligated rematch but Zhang is even older than Joyce at forty, and a defeat would cost him all that his victory had given him.

I had Zhang ahead by one point at the time of the stoppage, so it's not unreasonable to think Joyce could reverse the result but Joyce will have to change tactics to reduce the jab that closed his eye in the first fight.

Joyce has the better chin, as Zhang was hurt badly in his draw with Jerry Forrest, and Joyce is at least the equal if not better puncher, so I can see Joyce winning- if he can make Zhang miss even a little with the jab

It may come down to that one factor- can Joyce avoid the right jab of Zhang?

Over on DAZN on a Matchroom card from Orlando, Florida, the main event will be a junior welterweight ten-rounder with durable former world title challenger Jose Zepeda battling unbeaten prospect Richardson Hitchins, who is taking his leap into contention against world-class opponents.

Zepeda has lost three times with all three defeats against former world champions (Terry Flanagan, Jose Ramirez, and Regis Prograis)  and took a pounding from Prograis, who stopped Zepeda for the first time in his career, in the eleventh to win the vacant WBC title.

Zepeda won an easy decision over journeyman Neeraj Goyat in his only fight since the Prograis loss.

Hitchins has an excellent jab and will base his gameplan around smacking Zepeda from the outside with the jab but Hitchins has fought no one near Zepeda's quality.

Hitchins isn't a big puncher but it will be interesting to see how Zepeda takes punishment after losing in brutal fashion to Regis Prograis.

I lean toward Hitchins here based on style and some concerns about Zepeda possibly being past his best days but Hitchens has never been tested and if Zepeda is in form, this could be an excellent fight.

Boxing Challenge

Heavyweights.12 Rds 
Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce
Ramon Malpica: Zhang KO 5
TRS: Zhang KO 9
Vince Samano: Zhang KO 6

Junior Welterweights  10 Rds
Jose Zepeda vs Richardson Hitchins
All: Hitchins Unanimous Decision

Friday, September 22, 2023


   The PPM is back after a strong week in college but a lesser week on the NFL side.

Last Week: 10-6 
Overall: 31-11

Ohio State over Notre Dame 30-24
Texas Tech over West Virginia 34-24
Boise State over San Diego State 30-21
N.C. State over Virginia 26-17
Oregon State over Washington State 36-32
Georgia Southern over Ball State 29-14
Ohio U. over Bowling Green 17-13
Tennessee over UTSA 32-17
LSU over Arkansas 34-20
Colorado State over Middle Tennessee State 31-26

Games of the Week
Oregon over Colorado 45-17
Utah over UCLA 27-17

Browns over Titans 17-10
Vikings over Chargers 34-31

Games of the Week
Eagles over Buccaneers 31-14
Packers over Saints 24-21


Thursday, September 21, 2023

I Tell Ya Herbie

    We are back for another edition of I Tell Ya Herbie, our weekly bootful of thoughts and notes from the world of college football.

Also, I have gotten one note about the gentleman to the right- Super Toe and I plan on a future post on the long (or short) range kicking toy of the 1970s!

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                           I wouldn't go as far as to say that I am all-in as a believer in the Deion Sanders experience in Boulder with the Colorado Buffaloes but I will say this, no matter if you are rooting for or against the Buffs, they are a fun team to watch.

Colorado's wild double-overtime comeback win over rival Colorado State may have been aided by a meltdown by the Rams but Colorado has been fun to watch win or lose and even though I believe that the wheels are about to come off as Colorado plays Oregon this week and without Travis Hunter, the Buffaloes are still worth watching.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            I'm not sure who Michigan State hires to replace Mel Tucker but that job isn't nearly as attractive as it could have been in the past.

The Spartans will be playing in an even tougher Big Ten next season with the new teams arriving and adding in what seems to be some sort of scandal every few years, Michigan State, while still a very desirable job, may not be what it once was.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            Mel Tucker may not be very smart or at least did a very dumb thing on his phone sex charges but one thing cannot be denied- Michigan State jumped on an opportunity to prove their commitment to the treatment of women in the workplace after their past issues with Larry Nassar in the athletic department but even more important (to them) was having the chance to shed themselves of the ridiculous contract that they signed Tucker to of their own making.

Michigan State signed Tucker to a ridiculous ten-year, ninety-five million dollar contract in 2021 when Tucker won his first eight games in East Lansing that most people thought was a premature extension for much more than a relatively unproven head coach should have been signed for.

Tucker's teams are 10-9 since the extension and it's no secret that Michigan State would have loved a reason to get out from under that contract.

Tucker's behavior may have answered Michigan State's prayers.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                            Has the year finally arrived for the mighty SEC to not be the best conference in college football?

While Georgia is ranked first, Alabama appears to be in the midst of a down year, LSU has lost to Florida State in a game that wasn't close, Tennessee was pounded by Florida, the same Florida that was punished by Utah, and other than Missouri's surprising win over Kansas State with a sixty-one-yard field goal at the gun, the league lacks a big non-conference win.

It is possible at this point that both the Pac 12 and Big Ten could be better than the SEC by the end of the year.

I Tell Ya Herbie:

                           The Mountain West looks to be the best league in the Group of Five and this past week proved it in losses along with wins as Colorado State almost stunned Colorado in a double overtime loss and Wyoming gave Texas all they wanted in Austin two weeks after the Cowboys upset Texas Tech.

Fresno State shut out Arizona State 29-0 in Tempe, two weeks after beating Purdue on the road, UNLV knocked off SEC member Vanderbilt on the last play of the game, and that is before counting the two usual powers of the league in Boise State and San Diego State.

The Mountain may not grab the G-5 bid to a New Years Bowl but they look to be the best of the group at this stage of the season. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Browns sign Kareem Hunt

  The Cleveland Browns had been rumored to be considering trades for running backs to try to replace Nick Chubb after his catastrophic injury on Monday night.

And while no matter who would be added to the roster, very few could be expected to approach the production that Nick Chubb provided other than maybe holdout Indianapolis runner Jonathan Taylor, and Taylor could be far too expensive for a team that has spent three years on first-round draft picks on DeShaun Watson.

The Los Angeles Rams have reportedly shopped Cam Akers around the league but Akers's injury history and spotty production would have been a risk for more than a late-round pick.

Akers would be traded with a 2025 seventh-rounder to Minnesota for a 2025 sixth-round later in the day.

But the back that made the most sense was living in the area, knew the offensive system, and would cost the Browns money instead of draft picks, so Cleveland signed veteran Kareem Hunt to a contract for the remainder of the season for what could be up to four million.

Hunt rushed for 468 yards and caught thirty-five passes last season as the primary support for Nick Chubb and he'll be backing up Jerome Ford and possibly Pierre Strong on the backfield depth chart.

Hunt was never the back for the Browns that he had been in Kansas City but he was a solid performer and on a team with Nick Chubb, Hunt was never going to be given the carries that he did as a Chief to match those statistics.

I would say this about the signing, if the Browns and their fans are realistic about their expectations for Kareem Hunt, this could help the team in their time of need.

At 28, Hunt still runs with power and breaks tackles well with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, so Hunt isn't washed up by any means but he doesn't have the speed that he once did and he has never been a runner that has been known for his speed.

Kareem Hunt is a signing that builds the depth behind Jerome Ford and may be able to allow Ford to take the occasional breather on the sidelines.

However, should Hunt be placed in the lineup for an extended period of time in the event of a Ford injury, I'm not sure how long Hunt would hold up or how effective he might be as a full-time back.

Hunt may not be a high-reward signing but under the circumstances, he is at least low-risk and a popular choice with the fan base.

Hopefully, the Browns will have the luxury of parceling out his snaps and will not have to hope that Hunt can carry the load as an every-down player.