Friday, September 1, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: College Kickoff Comes at Last!

Army football kicks off tonight alongside the rest of the college football season.  I am super-psyched!
Go Army!  Beat Fordham!!!

In 1936, sportswriter Grantland “Granny” Rice referred to Fordham’s front line as the Fordham Wall, which shortly thereafter evolved into the Seven Blocks of Granite with the legendary Vince Lombardi, FCRH ’37, anchoring the famous offensive line…
Lombardi worked as a high school teacher and football coach in New Jersey before returning to Rose Hill as the team’s assistant coach in 1947. West Point scooped him up the following year, thus setting the stage for a contentious Fordham-Army matchup…
Got this from a guy in my office who’s currently pursuing his MBA at Fordham Business School.  He’s done a lot more than I have to take advantage of the college’s various alumni services and networking events.  I keep telling myself I should plug-in more, but it’s 2017, and I graduated in 2006.  
I think maybe I missed my window.
It took three straight losses — including, most painfully, to Army — for Navy’s football coaches to start talking about their players’ shoes.
Their team had fallen to its archrival in December for the first time in 15 years. A litany of players missed the game because of foot injuries, most notably quarterback Will Worth, slotback Toneo Gulley, linebacker Daniel Gonzales and wide receiver Tyler Carmona. Slotback Josh Brown sat out with a sprained ankle.
Several weeks later, after a 9-2 start to the season dissolved into a 9-5 finish, Coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff began the unpleasant task of evaluating what had gone wrong.
Their conclusion: a potential injury risk that almost no other team in major college football has to consider.
In all sincerity, though, both the headline and the meat of the article miss the basic point.  Mids are not damaging their feet wearing dress shoes.  They’re damaging their feet wearing unserviceable dress shoes, presumably from over-worn heels.  The article notes this in passing in a middle paragraph that discusses the fact that Coach N. had to mandate his players get their shoes tapped and/or repaired to ensure proper fit.  But that’s basic military discipline, as my father, the career Marine infantry officer, would tell anyone at very great length whenever this particular topic came up.  
Dad’s words: “Take care of your fucking feet!  They’ve got to carry you a long way.”
Coach N. also ordered some basic orthotics for those with high arches, but how is that newsworthy enough to merit coverage in a major national newspaper?
For what it’s worth, Navy also tried to play eight or nine games without a bye while intentionally de-emphasizing the Army-Navy Game in favor of the AAC Championship.  Really, Navy folks should be a lot more pissed off than they are, and making excuses almost a year after the fact isn’t a good look at the start of a new season.

3. The 10 Most Meaningful Games of Week 1 (Sports Illustrated)
From the list, my personal picks are below:
4. Temple at Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
6. Appalachian State at Georgia (Saturday, 6:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
9. Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee (Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
I want to see how Temple looks without QB P.J. Walker, and I want to see what Coach Geoff Collins, former D-Coordinator for the All-World Florida Gator defense, does with the Owls’ already outstanding defensive unit.  I’m also more than a little curious to see how Lane Kiffin's FAU team will do against Navy.  I am by no means a Kiffen fan--multiple generations of my family went to Tennessee--but I won’t be surprised if his team outperforms expectations early.  That’s doubly true before teams have enough film to study what he’s trying to do on offense.  On top of which, Navy’s defense hasn’t been particularly stout of late.
Unfortunately, FAU’s rushing defense is supposed to be God-awful, and I very much doubt Kiffin is the man to fix it.
"I said, 'It's great to be a Tennessee Vol!'"
The last game is more a family thing.  My grandfather, father, and mother were all die-hard UT fans, and both Pa Pa Dan and Dad were once Volunteer season ticket holders.  Dad even had a box for awhile.  But I think Butch Jones is a better recruiter than coach, unfortunately, and I don’t have a lot of faith in his offense without my man Josh Dobbs.
After last week’s brief walkthrough, it’s time for the actual start of the 2017 college football season. Thanks to the pervasiveness of early-season tune-ups against FCS opponents, there are a whopping 86 games on the FBS schedule.
Sharing this list because of its comprehensiveness.  Not surprisingly, SB*Nation’s S&P+ model tracks the lines from Vegas so closely that it’s virtually indistinguishable.  This is useful mostly if you’re trying to report on odds for an FBS/FCS matchup.
Army 33, Fordham 23 (Friday, 6:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
Oddshark has Army winning by 14, but Vegas doesn’t typically publish official betting lines on FBS/FCS games.  A few other notable predictions:
No. 25 Tennessee 31, Georgia Tech (+3) 29 (Monday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)
Navy 36, Florida Atlantic (+9.5) 33 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPNU).
Vanderbilt (-3) 36, Middle Tennessee 29 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
I’m not sure I’d take Vandy over MTSU in a first-game matchup, especially laying three points on the road.  Beyond that, there aren’t a lot of surprises here.
5.  Will Army pass more this season?  (Army Football Insider)
Army beat writer Sal Interdonato1 asks the immortal question.
“I think it depends on the framework on the game,” [Offensive coordinator Brent] Davis said. “What we would like to do is throw is more effectively because when we do we should lead the nation in passing efficiency and yards per completion. That’s enough if we do to offset people taking chances against us running the football. That may be able to break open some of the tight games we are in or help us win some of the games that we weren’t able to get over the hump in.
“But, we got to execute it. It’s not necessarily a matter of coming up with new passes to throw. We got the ones that we need. We have to do a better job of executing them all the way around from the protection to the running of the route to the delivery of the ball.”
For those scoring at home, that’s a fancy way of saying, “No.”
* * *
If you missed it, don’t miss the rest of this blog’s coverage of tonight’s game:
That’s all I’ve got folks.  See you tonight!

1. I so want to call him “Uncle Sal,” but I’ve never actually met Mr. Interdonato, and I don’t want to be insulting to a guy who’s done a thankless job pretty well for a good while now.  
Do beat writers get time to come down to tailgates?  I feel like this is an issue that a few beers might solve.

No comments:

Post a Comment