Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Are the Saints America's Team???

Hello all,

First, I wanna give big ups to my man Andy Roddick for as gutsy as a performance as I've ever seen in his match against Marin Cilic last night. I know he lost in 5, (6-7 (4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6), but I actually stayed up and watched it in its entirety last night; and can't believe how much toughness A-Rod showed battling through a painful shoulder injury that left most his right side numb. The man has guts, that's for sure- the trainer worked on him twice, once in the locker room where Roddick asked if he could suffer a career threatening injury if he kept playing- when the trainer said "probably not", Roddick's response was "game on" and ran back to the court (in contrast to Nadal- who I love but was getting smoked and withdrew). Now, I know the great Herm Edwards would not condone me giving props to someone in a losing effort- but A-Rod couldn't even feel 3 of the fingers on his hand! 3- and he almost won!! and Roddick clearly wasn't himself all night, his normally massive first serve was coming in in the 110s (about 20-25mph slower than normal), and his second serve was registering in the double digits; but boy did he fight and almost pull it out. The third and fourth sets were a showcase of his new conditioning regiment- he got to balls and glided accross the court like Federer, showed great touch at the net and was a point away from winning the 4th set 6-0. His shoulder clearly gave out in the 5th as his serve slowed down a bit more, and his ground strokes lost pace; but he never complained and kept fighting until the last point. I think he may actually benefit from this in the long run; because his shoulder kept him from hitting with lots of spin, he flattened out his groundstrokes considerably during the 3rd and 4th sets- and looked as good from the baseline as he's looked since his US Open win in '03. Too bad, it came on the night his best weapon (serve) was taken from him due to an injury. But, if he gets healthy, and can combine the form he showed from the baseline with his normally dominate serve, look for Andy to shed the "one and done major winner" lable later this summer....
I watched the amazingly sloppy but entertaining Saints-Vikings battle from a bar in Telluride, Colorado on Sunday; and was amazed at how many "Who Dat?" chants I heard from the locals at the packed Brown Dog Pizza and Pub. As far as the game is concerned, it's hard to believe the Vikings were even in the game considering the turnover difference (5-1). A couple quick thoughts from a Patriots fan with no dog in this fight- I agree with the New York Times and want to give no respect to the referee Pete Morelli and his entire crew for making a mockery of the NFL rulebook and doing the worst job of any NFL crew since Ed Hochuli famously blew the Broncos-Chargers game in '08 (but at least Ed aplogized). As I've said before, I'm sick of watching refs takeover games; and it certainly looked like Pete Morelli was trying to win the MVP trophy. In overtime alone, they blew all 3 instant replay calls- (which can be seen here), including 2 bad spots, refusing to overule a completed pass which was clearly on the ground (after watching it, how is this even possible to miss???) and called a Arkansas-Florida like phantom pass interference to put the Saints in FG range; but, to me, the worst call of the day was the non-roughing the passer after Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodele teamed to make one of the biggest high-low cheap shots you'll ever see on Favre- which should have negated an intereception. 3 plays prior, Morelli correctly called a roughing the passer when Anthony Hargrove picked Favre up and drove him into the ground and apparently the boos really got to him because he swallowed his whistle on a clear cheap shot which left Favre hobbling (by the way, even if you don't like Favre- is there anyone who tougher than that guy??). Now, I know nobody likes to get boo'd, and Morelli may have feared for his post-game safety since after all the game was in New Orleans; but, his job is exclusively to watch the quarterback, and while everyone may not agree with the "Brady rule", it's there to keep a vulnerable player from getting hurt on a cheapshot (remmember a "chop block" is a personal foul too...), and a NFL ref is paid over $250,000 a year to have enough courage to make an obvious call that happened right in front of his face. I'm not saying the Saints wouldn't have won without these calls; what I am saying is that horrific officiating once again played a big role and takes the focus away from the action on the field; and puts a black eye on one of the most entertaining playoff games in recent memory. Secondly, I know the game was in the state of Louisiana, but I wasn't aware Brad Childress let Les Miles be the guest head coach of the Vikings for the final couple of minutes of the game. I know Favre will be dogged for a long time for throwing the interception, but it would have never happened had Childress not sent 12 men to the hudle (out of a timeout!!!) taking the Viks out of FG range (Longwell told the coaches before the game his max was 53 yeards, the penalty made it 56). Good job Brad... So, I can assume by the "Who Dats?" being vorciferated by Colorado natives that the Saints have taken over the Cowboys spot as "America's Team", which considering what that city has gone through is great to see. Remmeber, it was less than 5 years ago, that the Superdome was being used as a relief shelter for storm victims and New Orleans was under water. Since then, the Saints have served as a source of pride and helped unite the city; which makes them so easy to root for (great piece by Wright Thompson here). New Orleans is a great city, one of my absolute most favourite places, and it's great to see how strong it's come back in such a short time after such a terrible natural disaster. Also, big ups to Sean Payton for an amaing coaching job during his four year tenure in the Big Easy. Although, I have to admit, even though I'm not a fan of the "Who Dat?" chant,  at least it's not as bad as hearing "S-E-C!". This year's superbowl should be an offensive explosion, matching up 2 of the best QBs in the game- check here if you're thinking about making the trek to Miami.

I wanna give big ups to one of my all-time favourite bands (and the band of the decade in my opinion) Radiohead for performing an amazing show at the Henry Ford Theatre in LA Sunday night to raise money for Haiti. All revenue from the concert goes directly to the Haiti relief fund and they were able to raise about $600,000 in a 2-hour show at a very small venue on short notice. Tickets sold for around $4,000 per pair, and the band rewarded the crowd with an amazing set-list and even took song requests. Great performance for a great cause and check out this monumental set-list:
“Faust Arp”
“Fake Plastic Trees”
“Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”
“The National Anthem”
“Karma Police”
“Kid A”
“Morning Bell”
“How To Disappear Completely”
“A Wolf at the Door”
“The Bends”
“Dollars & Cents”
“Exit Music”
“Everything In Its Right Place”
“You And Whose Army?”
“Pyramid Song”
“All I Need”
“Lotus Flower”
“Paranoid Android”
“Street Spirit (Fade Out)”
Wow! I definately think they should raise some more money by selling live copies of this show- I would definately buy one...

Jay-Z's tour has been getting amazing reviews and he's still going. Upcoming dates and tickets can be found here...

As always, please post any good upcoming shows or events coming up and be sure to check the "near you" tab on our homepage, www.roosterfly.com, for a list of events in your area...

Till next week,

Friday, 8 January 2010

Bama knocks out McCoy early and hangs on late to win 13th title!!

Hello All,

Before getting into the game, I want to give big ups to Colt McCoy for having one of the classiest post-game interviews I have ever heard. Especially when you factor in the dissapointment he must have been going through. It takes a lot congratulate the other team and not complain or show any bitterness after having to sit out the game he had been preparing for his whole life; and I really gained a lot of respect for him last night. I, along with hopefully every other college football fan watching the game, was sad to see Colt go down. Like the Patriots without Brady, or the Bengals without Palmer; watching a team play without its best player in their biggest game, especially when you're talking about college football's all-time winningest QB, is not the way it's supposed to be.

I thought last night was a great game (with the exception of the McCoy injury) and featured a little bit of everything: great coaching moves, horrible coaching moves, great defense, great (or horrible dpending on your allegiance) special teams play and some explosive offensive plays. I don't think anyone could have precicted the way last night's game turned out; except for who won (as nearly 76% of ESPN.com voters picked Alabama to win). After Marcell Daries knocked Colt McCoy out of the game on Texas' 5th offensive play, they obviously lost a lot of fire power on offense. However, I do wanna say I thought Garret Gilbert stepped in and did a much better job then his 15-40, 4INT stats reflect. The Texas receivers did NOT help Gilbert out at all. Malcolm Williams had 2 huge drops- the 2nd quarter one in the endzone which was particularly crucial because Gilbert's next pass was intercepted by Javier Arenas and led to a Bama TD. Even the reliable Jordan Shipley had several drops, including one right through his hands on a wide open skinny post in the 3rd quarter. Gilbert definately had a miserable 1st half (1-10 and 2INTs); but I thought he looked pretty good in the 2nd half and made some great throws to get his team back in the game. It's not like he is a walk-on, he was the Gatorade High School Player of the Year last season; and by his second half, I think Texas is in pretty damn good shape at QB for the next couple of years.

Mack Brown will, (very deservingly so), be criticized for a long time for calling a shovel pass from his own 37 with 13 seconds to go in the 1st half which was bobbled, interecepted and returned for a TD by Marcell Dareus. Before piling on ole Mack, was anyone else amazingly impressed with Dareus' return which included a Reggie Bush like spin move from a 296 pound dude?? But the real question, is was Les Miles on the other end of Mack Brown's headset and calling the plays???? With 13 seconds left, the most you can realistically hope for is 2 plays and with a true freshman QB who is 1-9 for -4 yards and the ball on your own 37, what are you really going to accomplish there?? Nothing good, that's for sure and that play gave Bama a 24-6 halftime lead and many people thought the game was over at that point. It's not playstation Mack, it's real football- and you may have just one-upped my man Les. But, this seems to be an ongoing trend by Mack; if you remmember, Mack's awful Miles-against-Ole-Miss-like clock management against Nebraska in the big-12 title game almost cost his team a shot to even be in the game. Maybe the two have become friends; if so and this continues, ole Will Muschamp is gonna get the big raise a whole lot sooner than expected....

God, did anyone else think Alabama's second half performance looked more like Jean van de Veld's 18th hole at Carnoustie in 1999- (with the exception, of course, that Bama made a double bogie instead of the triple bogie van de Veld did and WON the game) then the team that dominated Florida in the SEC championship last month?? I thought 'Bama's play calling was very Shula-like in the second half- and it's clear they were OK to punt every possession. Gregg McElroy was terrible last night, constantly looking confused, unable to get rid of the ball (5 sacks) and unable to find Julio "the Beast" Jones or Collin Peek all night. However, as Jay Barked proved by going a miserable 4-13 for 18 yards and 2INTs in 1992, if you can rush the ball, you can win. And did Bama do that last night. Against a defense that came in as the #1 ranked rushing defense in the country, Bama was the first team in BCS bowl history to have two 100 yard rushers (Richardson 19 carries for 109 and Ingram who had 22 carries for 116; both had 2 TDs). Texas' D definately didn't look like the best rush defense in the country, but I guess it's easier to get that statistic when you play a horrible schedule (including dropping Arkansas and adding Wyoming). And, the time-honoured Alabama blueprint is: run the ball and play defense- which they did and brought home their 13th title.

Game Changing Plays: Other than the most obvious (Dareus' pick-6 before halftime), several stand out to me. With Texas up 3-0 in the first quarter and having 1st and goal at the 1, they were flagged for illegal procedure for having 5 guys in the backfield. This (combined with a Bama late hit) brought the ball out to the 4 and Alabama's D made a great stand and kept it a 1-score game, only to take a 7-6 lead at the beginning of the second quarter. Eryk Anders got a clean run at Gilbert with 3 minutes to go and a 3-point lead, forcing a sack, fumble and setting up the game icing TD.

Quote of the night: "I could have moonwalked backwards and scored through that hole"- JS after Mark Ingram scored his first TD running through a hole reminiscent of the parting of the red sea; were the Horns defenders that scared of getting hit by Cody??

Biggest Suprise of the Night: How bad the Bama special teams were (or how good the Horns special teams were, depending on your point of view). Bama had 3 huge Gaffes; the fake punt call (which Texas actually lost 15 yards of field position by interecepting instead of dropping), Smelly getting drilled by a kickoff (does anyone know if that was intentional by the kicker??) and the pooch kick that Julio let bounce in front of him. To overcome the McCoy injury, Texas needed some crazy things to happen- and they got their chances.

Player of the Game: I'm gotta go with 3: Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus. It's good to see someone other than Matt Leinart escape the Heisman jinx in a BCS game. Richardson and Ingram were great all night; and it's pretty scary for a defense when the Heisman's backup may be better then he is... You definately can't take any plays off.

Biggest Dissapointment of the Night: Hearing the fans chanting "S-E-C, S-E-C!" after the Tide won. As I've stated before, I hate the SEC chant. But it is a new year and maybe this is the year I'll start seeing Duke fans cheering for Carolina or after they make their annual 2nd round exit or MJ holding an ACC sign from his courtside seat at the Dean Dome...

My favourite moment of the night: How pissed Nick Saban looked after being hit in the face with the cooler and showered in Gatorade. I loved Brent's description as "too physical". The two dudes that got him were Eryk Anders and Chris Rogers. Fortunately for Anders- he had just forced the game clinching fumble several minutes before; but, what are the cances of Rogers seeing any pt next year??

One final note: I just wanna give big ups to what an amazing job Nick Saban has done at Alabama. The year before he arrived they were 6-7 and had not one a game in which they were trailing in the 4th quarter in 6 years. In his second year, he took a 12-0 team into the SEC championship and now this in only his 3rd year. He is clearly the best coach in the country; he recruits well, his gameplanning is generally flawless (except the special teams tonight), his players are disciplined and improve during their time with him. I can see why LSU fans are still so bitter they lost him...

Till next week,

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Can Texas Upset Alabama in Tomorrow's BCS Title Game???

Well college football fans the big game is finally here, the grandaddy of them all (God, does anyone else wish Keith Jackson would come out of retirememnt once a year for this game???)! SEC champ Alabama will take on Big-12 Champ Texas tomorrow night in the Rose Bowl to decide this year's title. Both these teams were close to making this stage last year; as you remmember, Alabama went into the SEC championship game ranked #1, but lost a 4th quarter lead to a Gator team they rebounded to pound this year in the SEC title game (badly enough to make Florida's leader weep). Alabama has been a very consistant team all year, and with the exceptions of the near debacle against Tennessee and a poor first half in Auburn, has looked like the hands down #1 team in the land.

As for the University of Texas, they started the season ranked high, played what has to be one of the weakest schedules in the country, and needed either luck or help (depending on which angle you take) to beat a 3 loss Nebraska team in the Big-12 final. Before the rest of the BCS games, some would say TCU or Cincinnati should have snuck into the #2 spot because of how weak Texas' schedule was, which is a valid point. Their only legitimate games were against a Bradford-less Oklahoma team, a Bryant-less (and mediocre even with him) Oklahoma State team, and of course the Nebraska game when they won 13-12. But, after watching the other bowl games, who else could have been put #2?? TCU proved to be a dud, and Boise's equally bad schedule (except Oregon) which included near losses to Tulsa and La-Tech knocked them out of the mix. While the Longhorns haven't faced anyone like the Crimson Tide, DO NOT underrate them. They have NFL talent all over the field, and might have mauled anyone in the country (but hey, with Mack making the schedule, we'll never know...- I mean he decided to cancel their border rivalry game against Arkansas and replace them with Wyoming for God's sake...).

This game will feature two of the best offensive players: Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram from Alabama and QB Colt McCoy who was 3rd in the voting; as well as two of the best defensive players in the country: Lambert and Dick Butkus award winner Rolando McClain of Alabama and all-american Earl Thomas of Texas. The player with the most to prove is definately Colt McCoy- can he do anything on a big stage after his 3INT egg he laid on the national stage against Nebraska?? And can Texas protect him?? This is certainly a question mark after Nebraska DL Ndamukong Suh erupted for 3.5 sacks in the Big-12 title game. Suh is an unbelievable player and probably a top 3 draft pick- but remmember he only had 6.5 sacks in the other 12 games! Alabama DL "Mount" Cody is also considered a future NFL player, so it will be interesting to see if the Texas OL can do a better job of giving Colt some time... The player who may make the biggest difference: Alabama freshman RB Trent Richardson- who looks as if he may be BETTER than the Heisman trophy winner Ingram (yes, I said it!), and the Tide certainly don't lose anything when he gives Ingram a rest. Other questions- Will Texas double the explosive Bama WR Julio Jones. If Dez Bryant had not been ineligable for their game against Oklahoma State earlier, we may have gotten to preview their gameplan (but hey, I guess he didn't know it was illegal to sign with an agent....). Doubling Jones will certainly take Texas SS Earl Thomas, who is one of the best and biggest hitting safeties in the country,  out of run support- where he excels and could open more holes for Ingram and Richardson... Also, how will McElroy play for the Tide, will he be the same dominate QB he was vs Florida??

As far as the coaching, it's hard not to give the edge to Nick Saban on this one. As a Carolina guy, I still hate Mack Brown. But objectively, since arriving in Tuscaloosa 3 years ago, Saban has worked wonders.

Another interesting tidbit. The SEC and Big 12-both have 16 National Championships. Whoever wins this game will ultimately be known as the best conference in the history of college football- at least until next year.....

Key players

QB- Colt McCoy (3,512 Yards, 27 Touchdowns, 147.46 QB Rating)
WR- Jordan Shipley (106 Receptions,1,363 Yards,11Touchdowns)
SS- Earl Thomas (128 Tackles, 5 Forced Fumbles,10 Interceptions)

RB- Mark Ingram (249 Attempts, 1,542 Yards,15 Touchdowns)
LB- Rolando McClain (101 Tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4 sacks)
WR- Julio Jones (42 Receptions, 573 Yards, 4 Touchdowns)
DT- Terrence Cody (20 Tackles, 5 TFL, 1 Pass Breakup)

My predicition:
Texas 10, Alabama 23. Bama's explosive rushing attach and great defense force Texas into a predictable, one-demensional come from behind offense early, which if you ask Tim Tebow is no way to beat the Tide....