When Will Philadelphia Eagles Start Mike Kafka at QB in a Game?

kafka

This week, Philadelphia Eagles superstar quarterback Michael Vick is mending from broken ribs. He stayed in the game, a season-deflating loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but he admitted to the media that his desire to play was a tad selfish and hurt the team. At 3-6, their season is over so there’s no reason to play Vick if he’s anything less than 100% this week. Vick is the franchise QB and needs to be protected. If not this week, then the final weeks of “garbage time” this NFL season is when we might see Vick rest.

The Eagles #QB2 Vince Young, has been inactive for much of the season. Meaning the emergency QB, the second year man from Northwestern Mike Kafka has slightly more playing time in 2011. His NFL debut came with a couple minutes left in the third quarter of the Eagles loss to the Atlanta Falcons in week two.
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Philadelphia Eagles Fans, Here’s the Dossier on QB Mike Kafka

Last night, a neck injury to Philadelphia Eagles superstar quarterback Michael Vick forced him to leave the nationally broadcast night game at the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles lost, and Vick’s injury was revealed to be a concussion. Who knows if he’ll be back for next week?

The Eagles #QB2 Vince Young, was not active. (Not sure when he’ll be back either) Meaning the emergency QB, the second year man from Northwestern Mike Kafka had to go in. His NFL debut came with a couple minutes left in the third quarter, and his performance drew favorable reviews.

Get ready for the most “Kafkaesque” post ever, this is what you need to know about the Chicagoan signal caller.

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College Football hope springs Eternal in April

northwestern football

By Paul M. Banks

EVANSTON, IL- In this city, the phrase “wait till next year” is a natural part of the local dialect. It specifically refers to the Chicago Cubs’ postseason ineptitude since 1908. (And if early returns are any indication, things will likely not change this October.

But the phrase also applies to another Chicago area team: the Northwestern Wildcats, who have the dubious distinction in the college football world of zero bowl wins since 1949. And they’ve plenty of chances: 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2009. The connection between the two teams grew even stronger yesterday, as it was formally announced that the Wildcats will play their in-state rivalry game with Illinois at the Cubs’ home of Wrigley Field this fall. The revelation created even more optimistic buzz within the program.

Today, the day of the NU spring scrimmage concluding spring football practice, is the first major step towards ending the 0-for-7 drought. And this same feeling of eternal optimism is present on campuses everywhere during this college football Saturday. Well, it’s sort of a college football Saturday.

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NU’s Mike Kafka, Sherrick McMannis get picked in NFL Draft

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sherrick mcmannis northwestern

By Paul M. Banks

Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka, the man whose production accounted for an overwhelming proportion of the team’s offense in 2009, heard his name called on NFL Draft day.

As did Sherrick McMannis, who was perhaps the best overall athlete in the Wildcats secondary last season.
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Northwestern will have presence in 2010 NFL Draft

northwestern wildcats

Tonight and tomorrow figure to be to the most intriguing portions of the NFL Draft for Northwestern fans. DE Corey Wootton has been projected as an early-mid second rounder in most NFL mock drafts, and  QB Mike Kafka projects as a 3rd-5th rounder.

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Juice Williams, All-Big Ten Selection!! Wait…Juice Williams, All-Big Ten Selection????

juice

By Paul Schmidt

Let me be the first to say, I love Juice Williams, and I want you to, too. 

I think he’s a great kid. 

I think he was the most deserving player of all that received mention as a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Nominee. The grace with which he handled his demotion, and the teaching capabilities he showed with Eddie McGee and Jacob Charest surprised even me, an ardent supporter.

But an Honorable Mention nomination at quarterback?  Really?

Let’s go through some numbers…

Your first team QB was Darryl Clark, the conference’s leader in passing efficiency. That’s a good choice.  Your second team QB was Mike Kafka. While Kafka was fifth in passing efficiency, he was second in per game averages of total offense.  Again, a very defensible selection.  I might have gone with Purdue’s Joey Elliott (the conference’s leader in total offense per game), but either way, Kafka is a fine choice.

Now…here’s the honorable mention QBs: Juice Williams, Ben Chappell, Ricky Stanzi, Kirk Cousins, Scott Tolzien, Terrelle Pryor, and the aforementioned Elliott.

Now, I know you’re looking at that and thinking, holy crap, that’s nine of the 11 starting QBs in the conference.  Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Given that list, it would be tough to leave Williams off, right? 

Wrong.

The only top ten list Williams’ name appears on on the conference statistical leaderboard is, surprisingly, in passing efficiency, where he ranks tenth.

He’s not on the total offense list, a place that a running QB like him should be a lock to make.

Not on the top ten list for the conference’s top passers in terms of yards, either.

Heck, he’s not even in the top ten of games started by quarterbacks in the conference, mustering only nine appearances and eight starts.  That’s right, an honorable mention Big Ten selection was benched halfway through the season.  That alone should result in automatic disqualification from the award…

The simple solution? Nine QB’s mentioned in the all-conference awards, one way or another, is just too many. Dropping the number of players named would not only raise the prestige of the award but lend some legitimacy, as well.

But, assuming that you’re locked into that number of players appearing on your final award sheet, one deserving player was not named.  Remarkable, considering the number that appeared, I know, but it’s true.

Where was Minnesota’s Adam Weber?

I know that the Minnesota writers here will slam this thought, but bear with me. 

First, when naming nine QBs in the awards, you have to consider that Weber, though awful at times and someone who took a major step backwards this season, still was statistically one of the top nine QBs in the conference this season. He finished 8th in passing per game and 10th in total offense. 

Plus, he was never benched this season.

Look, while I do applaud the Big Ten Conference for honoring as many players as possible, having nine QBs mentioned is simply too many.  There must be a way to pare this down some, lest you face looking foolish on a national stage.

Of even greater importance would be to eliminate players like Juice Willams from contention, perhaps not a step the conference wants to take. Even given that, instilling some sort of a minimum performance barrier, or giving the voters qualified names to vote for would be a good step for the conference to make; awarding 81.8% of your conference’s starting quarterbacks some type of All-Conference award is just patently ridiculous.

I would have gone with Clark as the first team selection, and Elliott at second team, followed by honorable mention selections for Stanzi and Cousins.  That’s it.  Four guys is still more than a third of the QBs in the conference, and more than enough nomination-wise.  Plus, naming just those four guys doesn’t make your conference look patently ridiculous.

Perhaps the most damning evidence against any awards for Juice comes from a web page listing his national ranks this season — 91st in the nation in passing efficiency and 93rd in total offense.

That page?

His biography page at www.fightingillini.com.  Ouch.

Northwestern Gives #8 Iowa First Loss 17-10

Northwestern

By Paul M. Banks

All year long, Iowa wasn’t just wining ugly, they were winning HIDEOUSLY. To their immense credit, the un-sexiest 9-0 team in college football history kept winning, despite a starting quarterback, Ricky Stanzi who is to throwing interceptions what cable news is to covering celebrity deaths. The Iowa Hawkeyes got off to the best start in school history with mediocre-to-bad statistical rankings in every major category and zero skill position players that anyone other than the geekiest of college football geeks has ever heard of. Yet, their solid running game, seasoned linebacking corps, and loads of NFL ready talent on both lines kept them perfect and grabbed them the cover of Sports Illustrated. Dreaded SI cover jinx anyone?

They were finally done in by their deficiencies, some bad luck, and the bite from the injury bug swelling to crippling infection. They entered the game down to their third string tailback. Stanzi, their starting QB, went down with an ankle sprain in the first quarter and the Hawkeyes were forced to play backup James Vanderbeek. Whoops, I meant to say James Vandenberg. The freshman from Keokuk, not the actor best known as Dawson from “Dawson’s Creek,” who played a QB in two different films (“Angus” and “Varsity Blues”)

But Vandenberg was about as effective in running the Iowa offense as “Dawson’s Creek” writers were to having characters with realistic dialogue. The Northwestern secondary truly shut him down.

Coincidence that the team finally doing them in, the bowl-eligible 6-4 Northwestern Wildcats, have likewise experienced a season filled with injuries and insanely erratic play. Northwestern gave Iowa, the #8 team in the AP, #4 in the BCS, their first loss despite missing their MVP Mike Kafka for much of it.kafkadualthreat

The senior QB leads the team in rushing and leads the Big Ten in both passing and completions. He started, but a hamstring injury limited his passing effectiveness, and completely “hamstrung” his ability to run out of the pocket.

Therefore, the Wildcats were forced to go with backup QB Dan Persa much of the day, a former state of Pennsylvania high school player of the year, who like Kafka has a great ability to run, but has yet to have a Kafka like metamorphosis in the air attack.

Northwestern has had a perplexing season, losing to lowly Syracuse, but also holding a 4th quarter lead in every game but one this season, even when they were playing much more talented competition. They truly embody that cliché of “playing up (or down) to their competition.” Two of their non-conference wins were alarmingly close over two of the absolute worst squads of the 120 team FBS. (Miami of Ohio, Eastern Michigan). But this win, ugly as it was for both sides, was as sweet as it gets for Northwestern.

It’s the “signature win” that Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald was looking for. One of the youngest coaches in the FBS, he’s guided his Wildcats to three bowl-eligibility seasons during his four year tenure, but this is his first win over a top ten team. He’s known as one of the most emotionally intense coaches in all of college football, so he is no doubt grinning ear-to-ear today

And he truly has Iowa’s number: Northwestern has won 4 of their last 5 against the Hawkeyes, and three straight overall in Kinnick Stadium, where almost nobody wins.

And for the Hawkeyes, the nation’s second longest winning streak ends. Their most recent loss prior to today came at the hands of the Illinois Fighting Illini in November of 2008. With the loss to a team that calls Evanston, IL home this afternoon, I’m guessing Hawkeye Nation has a very bitter view of the Prairie State right now!

College Football Live Blog Week 3, Nighttime games!

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Welcome to our nighttime version of the college football live blog!  There’s a few great matchups tonight, starting with Northwestern at Syracuse, and to be followed by Texas Tech-Texas and Arkansas-Georgia.  Should be a fun night, and we’ll kick it off with some musings from my guy PB about one of his many alma maters, Northwestern!

Syracuse 3, Northwestern 0 (12:33 left 1Q)
Is it too late to call an upset here for Syracuse? They are up 3-0, and just recovered a fumble on NU’s 1st off play from scrimmage. They set up shop inside the Wildcats 15.

Thats not why I think Northwestern is going to lose though. When I found out all the “probables” to “questionables” were out with injury. They’re best and 3rd best RBs, along with the top two corners, I knew. I just knew. –Paul Banks

Syracuse 10, Northwestern 0 (9:00 left 1Q)
Syr qb and douchecock supreme greg paulus scores and its 10-0 cuse. -PB

Maybe my man PB won’t be ok, lol…-Paul Schmidt

Georgia at Arkansas (KICKOFF)
Dawgs and Hogs on ESPN tonight…should be a great game.

Of local interest, it’s the first major home game for a certain transfer QB named Ryan Mallett, who some readers may remember abandoned Michigan and condemned them to crappy QB play from freshman last season instead of from a 6 foot 8 sophomore…

On the plus side, it’s SEC football, and the atmosphere is INSANE right now, and they haven’t even started the game…-PS

Arkansas 7, Georgia 0 (12:23 left 1Q)
What a scattershot first drive for Mallett…he looked bad until the Razorbacks had to punt, and then they recovered a muff.  THEN he started throwing darts, and let me tell you, on the 25-yard TD pass he just threw, while rolling out…into coverage no less…well, it looked good.  It looked real good.

Maybe Michigan WILL miss this guy…-PS

Syracuse 17, Northwestern 7 (2:00 left 2Q)
Mike Kafka scores from inside the ten. 17-7 Syracuse, just inside the 2 qtr. NU threatening to make a game of this…after what the announcer called “the best total quarter in Syracuse football in about 5 years.”

Be proud Purple hearted, be proud.-PB

Georgia 7, Arkansas 7 (9:56 left 1Q)
I had a feeling this could be a barn-burner, and it’s looking like it.  Joe Cox just fired a bullet to the endzone for a TD.  So far this looks like defense will be missing, and Arkansas just did a nice reverse on the ensuing kickoff to get across midfield to start.-PS

Arkansas 14, Georgia 7 (9:37 left 1Q)
Remember what I said about that great starting field position?  Well, they used it well in one play, as Mallett just went long to Jerrious Wright and hit him in stride for the lead.

Terrible play by the safety, who froze up as Wright went by him, and that pretty much made the play.-PS

Syracuse 17, Northwestern 7 (12:00 left 2Q)
NU is actually moving the ball because Fitz has finally realized, Kafka should run, let him run. He is a runner. They kept him under wraps for the couple games. Yes, we all want him to pass, but dont get away from what works. The first couple games they did that.

Watching ESPN360 is quite a trip, they run the saem 3 ads the ENTIRE game. I’ve memorized all their spots and its just the 2nd quarter…-PB

Texas Tech 3, Texas 0 (7:31 left 1Q)
So far, the Red Raiders’ D has looked good, solid amount of pressure on Texas QB Colt McCoy, and they forced them to punt.

Now, granted, they’ll be starting from their own one-inch line, but still, they lead and Texas didn’t score.  That’s a plus, right? –PS

Northwestern 21, Syracuse 17 (8:00 left 2Q)
Two bits from Paul Banks, but I needed the second one to figure out why he was ejaculating with joy via email:

“What a difference a qtr makes! My last minute pregame prediction of syr 31 nu 21 may be inaccurate!”

OK….how about some actual info, then PB? Calm down and type, and breeeaaaaathe….

“Kafka complted his first 16 passes! And takes the lead!!! Kafka is on fire 21 pts in 11 min for the cats. His 1st 2 td passes all season. Nu 21 syr 17 8 min till half.”

I’ve been a big Mike Kafka critic, but he’s apparently picking apart the Syracuse secondary in a way that I didn’t see Darryle Clark of Penn State or Adam Weber of Minnesota — both better QBs — do.  That’s saying something.  Ok, Kafka…maybe I’m “Metamorphosizing” into a fan of yours….-PB and PS

Texas 7, Texas Tech 3 (7:02 left 1Q)
A nice stop by the Longhorns, and then Texas Tech punted to Jordan Shipley.  I mean, that’s fine and all, but they should have tackled him.

Couple missed tackles and nice cutbacks by Shipley later, and the Longhorns lead. jordanshipley

Also, Shipley freaked Bevo out after the score…not the cuddly mascot, the actual bull…which really could have turned into something funny or awful, depending on your viewpoint…-PS

Arkansas 21, Georgia 10 (12:08 left 2Q)
Ryan Mallett, much to the shagrin of Sports Bank contributor Bosch, I’m sure, has simply looked fantastic. It looks like they are punting for the first time, but the story has been all Mallett.  With 18 minutes of football played, he’s 8 of 12 for 197 yards and 3 TDs, and is on pace for some kind of a record setting day if he keeps that up…-PS

Arkansas 21, Georgia 17 (10:56 left 2Q)
This is getting a little ridiculous…after Arkansas had to punt, Richard Samuel took a handoff up the middle and scampered largely unmolested 80 yards for the TD.  Just a great run, and it sort of looked like Arkansas’ defense didn’t see the handoff and half-followed QB Joe Cox as he rolled out to “pass”.

This one looks like it’s going to come down to whoever has the ball last, and that could be 60 points away…-PS

Florida State 37, BYU 14
Maybe we can finally end this BCS buster talk.  I’m almost as sick of that as I am of the BCS itself…-PS

Texas 10, Texas Tech 3 (14:52 left 2Q)
Interesting start to the game, as both defenses are really playing well.  That’s actually somewhat surprising, given what we know about the defenses in the Big 12.

McCoy has looked ok so far, but if Texas is going to get the revenge they so very much want, they are going to need to get the passing game going.-PS

Syracuse 24, Northwestern 21 (9:57 left 3Q)
The Orangemen took the lead with just a minute  to go in the first half, and has had a continuing success with the Wildcat formation.

The interesting thing about that is they had the same success a couple of weeks ago against Minnesota and arguably could have won the game had they used it more. The same appears to be somewhat true here tonight as they continue to pick up chunks of yardage with it.-PS

Georgia 24, Arkansas 21 (:50 left 2Q)
Great job by the Dawgs going for it on 4th down and 2 at the Hogs’ 31 yard line, and converted that chance.

Joe Cox then completed a beautiful 25 yard TD to AJ Green to give them their first lead of the game.

Georgia just extended that lead — MAYBE.  It was a pretty questionable fumble return for a TD, but it looked as though what was called a fumble was most likely an incomplete pass. –PS

Georgia 27, Arkansas 21 (HALF)
Really nice looking…uhhh…let’s call it a 35 second drill by Cox and the Georgia offense.  Two relaly big passes, the biggest being a 28-yarder on 3rd and 18, set up a field goal as time expired.

This one is far from over, however.  Neither defense has shown a ton of interest in stopping the opposition, so it would be surprising to see them suddenly start in the second half. –PS

Texas 10, Texas Tech 3 (HALF)
I’ll be the first in a long chorus of people to ask, “What the heck is wrong with Colt McCoy??”

He looks the opposite of sharp (un-sharp?) and the defenses of both teams, improbably, have taken control.  I can’t fathom that continuing as the game goes on…but…-PS

Northwestern 28, Syracuse 27 (:17 left 3Q)
Remember when Paul Banks earlier said that Mike Kafka was a runner, and to let him run?  He just put the ‘Cats ahead with his legs, scampering 28 yards for a huge score.

The thing is, the NU defense has really bent a lot tonight…they haven’t completely broken, but they really have had trouble with the multi-faceted Cuse offense. This game is most likely far from over…-PS

Arkansas 28, Georgia 27 (10:00 left 3Q)
The back and forth continues for the Dawgs and Hogs.

This time, Mallett AGAIN goes long, and strikes gold with his 4th TD pass of the game, hitting Greg Childs for the TD.

It was a great catch by Childs, though — he overcame GREAT coverage, and then threw a GREAT straight arm on the defender before being hurled into the end zone by Brandon Boykin.-PS

Northwestern 34, Syracuse 27 (9:04 left 4Q)
Mike Kafka is having an unreal football game right now, as he is currently 32 of 35 passing for 354 yards and 3 TDs, having just hit Demetrius Fields for a three-yard score.

Kafka is really showing off some skills tonight, and I’d love to say more about him, but it must be mentioned that Stefan Demos missed the extra point, and that keeps it just a seven point game.  Something, hopefully, that won’t bite the Cats in the butt later in the game.-PS

Georgia 34, Arkansas 28 (7:51 left 3Q)
This game won’t quit, as Joe Cox just went 50 yards deep to Taverras King to get the lead back for the Dawgs.

They even made the 2-point conversion before being called for holding and settling for the extra point.  This game is stressing me out…-PS

Syracuse 34, Northwestern 34 (6:03 left 4Q)
And this one is trying to keep up with the SEC.

Paulus the douche tied this one up with a 13-yard score to Mike Williams…presumably not the former USC standout…

It seems perfectly safe to assume that the ‘Cats will get a shot to win, right?-PS

Syracuse 34, Northwestern 34
Here’s some thoughts from Paul Banks, our NU guy, but due to technical difficulties these got missed:

“How’s this for a box score Mike Kafka 23-26 284, 2 TDs o INT. how’s that QB rating? the polar opposite of Rex Grossman. Then again, 9 carries for -5 yards for Kafka..yeesh. And Arby Fields (yeah, I’m thinking Arbys man) has a 25 yard run. everyone else is in single digits or negative…yeesssshhhhhhh”

“Syracuse Mike Williams WR (no, not the same WR Mike Williams at USC from a few years ago) has over 150 yards and a TD already. he’s pretty good. no doubt helped by a 3rd string CB covering him tonight.”  Haha — the same joke I made!!

“SU kicker Ryan Lichentenstein (isnt that a micro-state? my favortie microstate is montenegro, or san marino) kicks fg, cuse extends lead to 6.

nu’s feature back tonight is jacob schmidt. aren’t we missing a john and jingleheimer there in his name?”  Yes we are…and he’s also my long lost twin brother from another mother….

“trick play. kafka to wr andrew brewer, who throws a 25 yard td rec to kafka. its tricky tricky tricky tricky. all these former qbs on the roster are paying off. is there anything kafka cant do.

I like your metamorphosis allusion Paul S. I was going to make reference to “the misanthrope” “a man apart” but I can think fast enough to analogize the works of Czech intellectual Franz Kafka…yes yes harrumph.”  Yes, that’s right….the Misanthrope just got referenced on a sports website….-PB and PS

Georgia 42, Arkansas 35 (4:34 left 3Q)
OK, this is getting crazy. In trying to post what was going on in the Cats/Cuse game, I missed two touchdowns.  It took like 3 minutes.  I don’t even remember the Arkansas TD at this point.  They are all blending together…I do know it was a TD pass from Ryan Mallett, because he set Arkansas’ school record for TD passes in the game with over 20 minutes of game left.

Georgia managed to get teh 2-point conversion, this time, with a pretty little pass from Cox to A.J. Green in the corner.

Incidentally, both QBs have combined to make a total of 5 starts in their careers heading into tonight, and they’ve combined to throw 9 TDs and something like 5,000 yards in this game.  –PS

Northwestern 34, Syracuse 34 (1:38 left 4Q)
The Cats had to punt, then forced ‘Cuse three-and-out deep in his own end, and now, with 98 ticks left, have pretty good field position at their own 40 yard line.

How much more magic does Kafka have left?  Can he turn into a dung beetle? –PS

Northwestern 34, Syracuse 34 (:52 left 4Q)
And Mike Kafka’s first mistake looks like it is going to cost Northwestern the game.

He was darn near perfect…and maybe being so perfect in a game gives you the confidence to make any throw. Of course, maybe that means you make throws you shouldn’t.

Kafka just threw to an open receiver — at least he appeared to be, but Syracuse was sitting back in a soft zone waiting, and got just a HUGE interception, and returned it 35 yards back into Northwestern territory.  A couple of short passes later and it looks like they are in field goal range….-PS

Syracuse 37, Northwestern 34 (FINAL)
Roy Lichtenstein, or whatever his name was, just hit the game winner from 42 yards out.  Kafka’s an unfortunate loser in this one, but at the same time, when your D played like Northwestern’s did tonight, you have to be nearly perfect to win.  Tough loss for the Cats, and it will be interesting to see how they rebound. –PS

Texas 24, Texas Tech 10 (2:26 left 3Q)
The offenses woke up when I wasn’t looking, and Texas Tech is driving.

Texas’ ground game has picked things up a little, while McCoy has looked pedestrian at best tonight.

New Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts is doing Texas Tech type things, going 36 of 48 for 313 yards through essentially three quarters of play. In fact…

…Potts just capped off a nice scoring drive to get the Red Raiders back into things a little bit, and now the score is
Texas 24, Texas Tech 17 (1:35 left 3Q) –PS

hogGeorgia 42, Arkansas 38 (14:47 left 4Q)
ARKANSAS JUST PUNTED ARKANSAS JUST PUNTED!!!!  WOOHOOO!!!! WE FINALLY HAVE SOME DEFENSE!

Texas 24, Texas Tech 17 (12:40 left 4Q)
Not an inspiring start to the fourth quarter for either offense, with Texas Tech QB Potts throwing an awful pick (in front of a hold in the end zone that wasn’t called and should have been a safety), and then, with great field position at the Red Raider 20, all McCoy can do is continue to throw the ball too high to his wide receivers which led to a tipped-ball-interception.  Just kinda ugly. –PS

Texas 24, Texas Tech 17 (11:48 left 4Q)
WOW…Taylor Potts just got crushed by this Kindle kid from Texas.  He mauled him.  Texas recovered the fumble and should actually get some points here.

One reason I hate instant replay, though, is that huge hit was tainted now…because there’s no way that shouldn’t have been called helmet-to-helmet to the QB…At the very least Kindle led with his head…-PS

Georgia 49, Arkansas 38 (9:38 left 4Q)
These two teams have slowed down just a little bit, no doubt because they were tired from scoring so much (that’s what she said).

Cox just tied the Georgia school record for TD passes in a game with his fifth and A.J. Green scored — again — and the Dawgs are up 11. I’ll be back posting about this game soon, though, because Arkansas is already driving.  Of course they are…-PS

Georgia 49, Arkansas 41 (7:41 left 4Q)
…and there it is.  Mallett couldn’t get his 6th TD pass of the night, but the Hogs were down two scores and needed to get the field goal at some point, so they might as well have gotten it there.

Of course…now they need a defensive stop.  Umm…-PS

Texas 31, Texas Tech 17 ( left 4Q)coltmccoy
Well, McCoy finally made the Red Raiders pay for a mistake. He hit Dan Buckner in the back of the end zone for a three-yard score, and it was a REALLY great catch by Buckner.

I don’t know what it is about McCoy, but he hasn’t looked sharp at all tonight.  You have to think that he has better days in front of him, but he really, he is not the reason they are winning this prime-time, nationally televised game. –PS

Texas 31, Texas Tech 24 (6:51 left 4Q)
Blown coverage got Taylor Potts his third TD pass of the game, and his numbers are crazy gaudy right now — 43-58 387 yards. This Red Raider offense is just insane.

Also, I hate them, because I think they blew up my -18.5.  Not only that, with this kind of time left, with a stop they could tie the game. -PS

Georgia 52, Arkansas 41 (2:10 left 4Q)
That may have iced it.

Arkansas actually got the stop they needed, but were pinned deep in their own territory, and couldn’t manage anything other than a three-and-out. They then got an awful punt that gave Georgia first down inside the Arkansas 30…

They didn’t have to go very far to get in field goal range, but they used about 3 minutes of clock, gained about 20 yards, and with the chip-shot field goal, made it a two possession game.

Interesting fact — Arkansas only has 4 road games remaining this season, which is good.  They are ALL FOUR against top ten teams, unfortunately…BAD-PS

Texas 34 Texas Tech 24 (3:49 left 4Q)
And Texas just did the same thing.  Nice long drive, took over three minutes off the clock, and kicked a field goal to pretty much put the game out of reach barring a miracle.-PS

Georgia 52, Arkansas 41 (FINAL)
In the end, much like Northwestern’s Mike Kafka, Ryan Mallett used up all his magic early in the game.  Rarely are nearly 400 yards passing and 5 touchdown not enough to win a game, but then again, when your defense gives up 52 points, would 5 or 600 yards have been enough?  Hard to say…

Still, Mark Richt has made his bones in the SEC as being an unbelievable true-road-game coach, and he proved it again tonight.  I can’t imagine Georgia winning a ton of games in this fashion, bur Richt proved that he’ll go anywhere, play any kind of football you want, and more than likely beat you at it.

Plus, Bobby Petrino lost.  And that’s ALWAYS a good thing. -PS

Texas 34, Texas Tech 24 (1:18 left 4Q)
This one is just about wrapped up, with Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster’s son, a safety at Texas, making a great play in the secondary on 4th and long to seal the win. -PS

Texas 34, Texas Tech 24 (FINAL)
I missed this game in my picks, and I’m still surprised at the defensive nature of the first half, and the poor, inconsistent play of Colt McCoy.

You can’t say a stat like of 24 of 34 for 204 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions is Heisman material, and that’s all I can say about McCoy.  I’d been impressed by him in the past, and thought that of the triumverate of QBs in college football this season (McCoy, Bradford and Tebow), he was the most likely to make an impact in the NFL.  After tonight, I’m just not sure.

And say this about Taylor Potts: 46 of 63, 420 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT.  He played well enough to win.  And looked REALLY good. Texas Tech is going to be a tough out in the Big 12 this season, something I didn’t realize coming into this game.

That pretty much wraps things up today, THANKS FOR TUNING IN EVERYONE.  I might be getting a little punchy at this point, after 9 hours and somewhere around 6,000 words, but hey, it was fun.  See you all next week!

Northwestern 09 Season off to Fantastic Start

 

smithrobiskie1

By Paul M. Banks

Chicago’s hometown Big Ten team, the Northwestern Wildcats, began the season in a manner that most predicted they would. Granted it was against Towson, an FCS (formerly I-AA) opponent, but a 47-14 win is still a 47-14 win.Quarterback Mike Kafka made a lot of plays, starting 7-8 passing and finishing 15-20 for 192 yards. The strength of the team, the secondary had a good day picking off Towson QB Peter Athens twice and holding him to just 140 passing yards. Senior safeties Brad Phillips and Brendan Smith led the way, as their experience helped them make the proper reads and coverage adjustments into what the opposing offense was doing.

The NU air attack was led by senior Andrew Brewer, who caught a 72 yard TD pass from backup QB Dan Persa, and finished with 6 catches for 145 yards. Since NU lost all their starting receivers from last season, the faithful dressed in purple were glad to see somebody step up. “Everyone talks about our no-name receiving corps, but now you guys know Andrew Brewer, so that’s one,” Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

But it wasn’t just Brewer, as many receivers got in on the act. “It’s always exciting to spread the ball around on offense, I heard 8 different guys caught the ball,” Brewer said.
The spreading the wealth around philosophy also translated to the running back corp, where three of the tailbacks rushed for 30 yards or more, and three of the backs saw at least six carries.

Expect most of the trends from this game to carry over to the rest of the season.

Note: today marks the first installment of The Sports Bank’s new Saturday Live College Football Chat. Check it out here.

Each and every week, we’ll have numerous writers blogging from the press box, at home on the couch, the sidelines, sports bars etc. all around the Big Ten and Midwest. Our comment boards are lighting up with over 60 comments so far, so please join in on the discussion by clicking here.

The Sports Bank’s Live College Football Blog!

catsfans1

Today, the writers of The Sports Bank will be bringing all their thoughts to you in live, real time fashion!  Ahh, the wonders of the internets!

Join us today as we give you the inside scoop on who, what, why and how YOUR favorite team is doing!

Just some of the games we will be spotlighting today (all start times central):

Towson St. at Northwestern (11 AM)
Minnesota at Syracuse (11 AM)
Navy at Ohio St (11 AM)
Western Michigan at Michigan (2:30 PM)
Missouri at Illinois (2:40 PM)
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin (6 PM)

Simply look for the bolded portions of the post for your favorite teams’ names and look for what’s going on at the stadium and/or in the minds of the people covering the games!

Minnesota 7, Syracuse 0 (13:48 left in the 1Q)
You can tell this is going to be a wild game, with two great kick returns, a turnover, a touchdown, and Syracuse already knocking on the door…I hope if you made a wager on this game you bet the over.  Defense and the defensive side of special teams already seem to be lacking in this one.
Paul Schmidt

Northwestern 7, Towson 0 7:55 1st qtr
Ohhhh, it’s good to be back, god I love football season especially collegiate level. Wish there was more of a crowd here though

–Paul M. Banks

traffic here near the stadium SUCKED!! I can’t believe Ryan Field isn’t more full when you consider how much traffic was backed up

–PMB

Freshman tailback Arby Fields catches a pass. how about 5 for $5.95? When Kafka knows he’s going to throw to him, do you think he says in the huddle to his teammates “I’m thinking Arby’s man”?

–PMB

NU 14, Towson 0, 3:37 1st qtr.

NU freshman TB Arby Fields score his 1st TD. Curly fries, beef n cheddars, and Dr. Pepper all around.

–PMB

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 3

Tweets from @PeterChristian….he’s on fire today:

“Greg Paulus is not accustomed to going this long in a collegiate game without fist pumping wildly (and annoyingly).”
“Thanks to ESPN for sending their 32nd best booth crew to the Gophers-Orange game.”

A couple of thoughts – Minnesota’s defense looks a little bit better than I thought it would, and their offense looks primed like it’s the middle of the season.  Decker is on fire and Adam Weber is firing bullets.
Oh, and I think Pete might be giving these ESPN2 goofballs in the booth too much credit by saying they are #32…
-PS

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 3 (9:59 left in the 1Q)

Minnesota starting this drive for the first time inside their own territory…and now they are lining up a WR named Stoudamire up at QB….good times.

@PeterChristian was wondering if seeing highlights of Minnesotas Eric Decker catching a thousand balls against Illinois last year was fun…why, yes, Pete, it was.  Thanks for asking.
Heading over to the main ESPN to see the Middies and Buckeyes knotted up at 7….
-PS

Northwestern 21, Towson 0 :37 left 1st

I have to admit everyone on NU who’s caught a pass or done something significant on offense today has a GREAT NAME: Arby Fields, Scott Concannon, Drake Dunsmore, Zeke Markhausen. Fictional names are nowhere near as good as these!
–PMB

Love how Towson’s main receiver and return specialist is named Banks. btw, Arby Fields scored again this time from much further out. Is Towson thinking Arby’s man? Ok, that’s it. I’m retiring the roast beef fast food chain jokes

–PB

arbys

NU 28, TU 0 12:44 left in 2nd

Dan Persa, Wildcats’ 2nd string comes in for a drive. 72 yard bomb to Brewer. He’s elusive like Kafka.

–PB

Kafka had a great 1st qtr 7 of 8 for 92 yards.

–PB

NU Athletic Director Jim Phillips is a very friendly and talkative guy. Just chatted with him. He makes sure to chat with all the journos here

–PMB

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 10 (:32 left in the 1Q)
Nice little ball fake by Paulus and he hit his receiver in stride for a 30 yard TD.
We also got the debut of Greg Paulus jumping up and down hands in the air, as well as several little fist-pumps…not good times.
From @PeterChristian

“Dick Vitale just peed himself with that Paulus TD pass.”

“So much for thinking the defensive backs aren’t going to be the Achilles’ Heel of the Gophers. I just threw up.”
Agreed on the DBs…either Paulus is far better than we all anticipated he would be after not playing QB for 4 seasons, or the Gopher DBs are not very good.
Also, I think it is time for my first beer.  Look out world!
-PS

Ohio State 17  Navy 7

After forcing a fumble, Pryor play-fakes and runs in for a short TD. Pryor is not very accurate, but he CANNOT be sacked, and he’s scrambling and then looking downfield, not just tucking and running.

-JF

Minnesota 14, Syracuse 10 (11:48 2Q)
From @PeterChristian:

“Note to Adam Weber: those kind of INT’s are not acceptable when you’ve been starting for two years.”
Agreed.  I didn’t really know what to say about that pass, because after Weber did a really nice job avoiding the pressure, he looked like a second-string high school QB throwing the ball to a receiver that, under no circumstances, could have been considered open.
The Gopher defense held, and even got their first sack on Paulus (a good sandwich…), but those types of passes have to be worrisome if you are a Gopher fan.
-PS

Ohio State 17  Navy 7 (2:51 2Q)

Interesting development here. After Pryor starts out sizzling… he is replaced by the back-up QB for this drive. What!?  The announcers like the move but I’m not so sure. Pryor doesn’t look thrilled either. Fittingly, on his first pass he is sacked.

-JF

Minnesota 14, Syrcause 13

With more tackling issues for the Minnesota DBs, it bears the question, asked via twitter to @PeterChristian, just what their deal is, when they can’t tackle anyone?? @PeterChristian says:

“Because tackling isn’t cool. It’s like crossing the street at a crosswalk. Not doing it is frowned upon, but sometimes it works.”

Ok, then.  There ya go.

Also, Greg Paulus does NOT look like he hasn’t played in a college football game in his career.  They’re using all these little short passes, their version of the Wildcat, the Orange Stallion, and playfakes to completely keep the Gopher D on their toes. The DB’s not bringing receivers down on first contact makes those short passes VERY effective.

Delone Carter just scampered 20+ yards on a straight draw for the Orange, and just punched it in from one yard out, now making it:

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 14 (1:39 2Q)
PS

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 14 (halftime)

Say what you want to about Greg Paulus, he has completely energized the Syracuse fan base, and their entire team.  They’re fired up to be playing, and excited at their prospects — and the reason that is important is the Carrier Dome gets really, really loud when the student section is rocking.  I’ll call it right now — don’t be surprised if the Cuse manage to find their way to a bowl game this season.  I really like what I’m seeing from them so far.

As for the Gophers, Adam Weber looks really lost so far, and many of his passes are far off the mark.  Just first game jitters/rust?  Or something more?  Keep an eye on this as the game progresses.
PS

Northwestern 37, TU 7 10:30 3rd qtr
I’m surprised Towson even came out for the 2nd half. I would have just stayed inside. And we just had our 1st Wildcat roar of the day… rar rar rar!!

–PMB

I know this is a FCS (formerly I-AA) team, so it’s not that impressive, but still it’s impressive 37-7 total domination

–PB

danny_green_dunking_on_greg_paulus

maybe Eastern Michigan will be a bigger challenge next week. The MAC sometimes gives the Big Ten problems

–pmb

NU 37, TU 14 8:30 in the 3rd

Anybody watch that Big Ten Network Friday night Tailgate show?

No? Yeah, I didnt think so, but anyway, they had this gorgeous new co-host on their who’s an absolute train-wreck on air. Melanie..something. Total babe, but just zero broadcasting skills for the 1o minutes or so I saw towards the end of the show.

This game was pretty much settled since the 1st qtr…it’s 40-14 now. It doesn’t look like they have any other games on the tvs in the press box here. So I’m going to use the 4th here to write my NBC story for the game and get ready to fly out of here to meet Paul S. and co. at joe’s to watch Illinois. I want to get to see a qtr or two of that game before I have to jet again and drive out to Naperville, to get to Lisa’s place for street fest tonight.

OSU only up 6 on Navy- shocking! PSU is crushing Akron 31-7. And Minnesota is still losing. go Cuse!

Ohio State 23  Navy 14

Wake up call for the Buckeyes! Navy just went on a 15 play, 99-yard drive capped off by a 16-yard laser of a TD pass by Ricky Dobbs that took up almost 9 minutes. The defense has some kinks to work out before USC comes to town next week, but the triple option is difficult to defend/prepare for. This is a good early test for Pryor and the inexperienced offense. Just as i typed this, OSU came back and answered with a field goal.
-JF

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State 29  Navy 14
And just like that the suspense is over. Senior safety Kurt Coleman forces a fumble and the offense cashes in with a score. It’s hard what to make of the defense. Without the forced turnovers, pretty mediocre. Pryor looks like he has improved a lot from last year. He is constantly making plays. Hard to tell against Navy, but the running game looks pretty solid too. Nice response.

-JF

 

 

 

Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 13
Coming at you live from Joe’s Bar on Weed Street here in Chicago….yes I’m live blogging from a bar.  This should be entertaining.

Nice, NICE ball from Ricky Stanzi to Tony Moeaki at TE for the Hawkeyes, but it wasn’t entirely clear that he came down with the ball in the end zone without bobbling it.  Too tough to tell, really.  Now Northern Iowa faced with a tough 3rd and 5 to stay somewhere in the game…and not making it.  I’m not saying that the game is over…but it’s not looking good for the Panthers.
-PS

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 17 (14:10 4Q)
From @PeterChristian – “Nobody on this Gopher offense is on the same page. They’re reading different books. The only ones reading the Gopher playbook is the ‘Cuse D.”

I am telling you, this is a solid job of working with what you have by a not-very-talented Orangmen unit.  They aren’t trying to win it all on one play, like the Gophers seem to be every time they touch the ball.

Of course, Weber just went 40 yards through the air and hit Decker in stride.  So what do I know.

Ohio State 29  Navy 21 

Every time i say something about this game, something crazy happens. Navy just threw an 87 yard TD pass after OSU went for it on 4th and 2 when they were well within field goal range and got stuffed. OSU secondary has serious issues. This game is wacky! I suggest turning it on if you can. -JF

Ohio State 31  Navy 27

NAVY TOUCHDOWN!  QB Ricky Dobbs on a 20+ yard run up the middle. Chris Spielmann is having a heart attack in the booth. It all comes down to the two point conversion…..Navy goes to a spread look and….Pass INTERCEPTED and returned all the way the other way for 2 points! Very odd play call, Navy hadn’t been in the spread all day. Onside kick is unsuccessful. 2:23 remaining -JF

Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 16
I don’t think that I can really ezplain what the hell just happened…I had no sound.  But I’ll try….

UNI had a great drive all the way down the field with no timeouts, and did a fantastic job getting themselves into field goal range.  UNI kicker lines up, looks confident….GREATPUSH ON THE IOWA LINE IT’S BLOCKED GAME OVER!!!!

Wait….no it isn’t.

See, you can’t, if you’re the defense, touch the ball on a blocked kick if it crosses the line of scrimmage.  Acts as a fumble.  UNI knew this and recovered the ball for first down, with one second left, and another 42 yard attempt to win the game.

The UNI kicker lines up.  He looks confident.  The ball is snapped and HOLY SHIT IT’S BLOCKED AGAIN?????????

Unequivocably the most wild finish to a game this season so far.  Yeah, I read it…..
PS

Syracuse 20, Minnesota 20 (OT)
The first college football OT of the year is butting up against the start of the Illinois game.  I’m not happy.

Crap….I’m abandoning the Gophers.  I’m sorry.  Pete is frothing at the mouth though, know this. 
-PS

Illinois-Mizzou, just prior to kickoff
Just know, I’m predicting Illinois to get their first Arch Rivalry win since the inception of this awful nickname…

They just showed the announcers and I don’t know who they are….Ed Cunningham??? WTF, ESPN??
PSIllinois-Mizzou KICKOFF!!!!!
The 2009 season begins with Rejus returning a kickoff 25 yards.  I-L-L!!!

Mizzou 3, Illinois 0 (7:23 1Q)

As far as both teams’ first drives go, this was about as bad as it could have gone.  Illinois didn’t go three-and-out, but had a nice drive stopped by poor Juice Williams decisions, culminating in him NEARLY throwing an interception.

Then Mizzou drove down with relative ease, throwing, running and running an option that I just didn’t see coming.

And in the middle of that drive, Rejus Benn went off the field to the locker room. 

This may be the quickest the Illini have ever made me want to kill myself….

PS      Mizzou 10, Illinois 0
Maybe this live blog was a bad idea….

 

Mizzou again was moving the ball with no problem, and AGAIN, they score.  This time on a long touchdown pass from Gabbart to….someone.  I don’t know who.  I think I blacked out.

Benn is still in the locker room.  This is, officially, the worst I’ve felt about an Illinois game ever…

PS     Mizzou 10, Illinois 3 (13:30 2Q)

 

Well, we’re on the board…I don’t know if it’s a good thing when you see that Baline Gabbart is 8-9 for 100+ yards and a TD.  Mizzou is still moving the ball like it’s going out of style.

STILL no Benn update.  I have to believe, given the way he was walking, it was something above the hips, because there was no limp at all.  Maybe the shoulder again?  He’s got a bad one.  A concussion? He did look….wobbily?  Unsure of his steps?  I don’t know. 

It’s all speculation, and it would be great if SOMEONE would say what happened so we could stop speculating…

-PS     Missouri 13, Illinois 3 (8:36 2Q)

An awful pass by Juice Williams to a wide open AJ Jenkins — Who probably should have caught the ball — led to an interception…two GREAT plays by Martez Wilson stop the drive in it’s tracks though.  Still an FG…

 

But Martez asserting himself with a huge hit is great, and a big tackle for a loss is even better.

Still, much like the crowd in St. Louis, the crowd here at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street is losing interest quickly.  It’s like we knew this was coming.  We’re cut!  The Russian is cut!!

PS  Mizzou 16, Illinois 3


See, this is why you come to the bar with your pregnant wife:  1) she orders fried things with cheese (mmmmmm mac and cheese bites and fried spicy ravioli!!!), 2) she can drive you home when things go inexplicably wrong. 

 

At some point, you have to say Mike Locksley was the heart of the Illinois offense, and that the other Mike, Mike Schultz, isn’t getting the job done. 

Also at some point, if the Illini lose enough games, you have to say Ron Zook (pronounced, according to random old guy announcer that isn’t Ed, Zooooook) is in trouble job-wise.  This team has so much talent….they should go 9-3 or 10-2 no question.  None at all!  Losing to a Missouri team that lost every possible skill player you could imagine in the first game of the year before they really knew what was going on is absolutely inexcusable.  IN-EX-CUSABLE.

I’m going back to my mac and cheese bites.  They’re just more satisfying than the Illinois offense.

Somehow, improbably, still no word on Rejus Benn.  And with music blaring, if it comes at halftime, I won’t know unless one of the people I’ve asked to emails me.  Here’s hoping.

On a side note, I’ve been tweeting all week with @Red_Grange…I haven’t heard from him during the entire game.  I think the Illini killed him again.

Michigan alot, Western Michigan not alot (halftime)
Don’t have a current score on this one but the last time I saw it was 30-0 Wolverines.  Looks like I might have been wrong about the Broncos. 

From resident Wolverine fan Bosch:

“You see Robinson’s speed on that play??  Fuck Pryor!”

I don’t know who Robinson is, but…well, apparently he and Terrelle Pryor are in a romantic relationship….

“It may be the beer talkin, but the big ten better watch out!  I think the Wolverines will be a force!”

Well, what with the Terrelle Pryor fucking and all…..

-PS   Mizzou 23, Illinois 3
Yeah, the worst case scenario just happened.  Huge plays on a Mizzou opening drive to start the second half lead to a 3 yard TD pass from Gabbart to….another nameless Mizzou WR.

 

I mean, he probably wasn’t nameless, but I’m pretty drunk at this point and I don’t remember anything that’s happened and I’m too angry to look.

Benn’s injury is of the ankle variety, despite not limping as he walked off.  No word whether he returns or not. which is awesome.

Incidentally, the Illinois defense is not very good.
-PS

Missouri 30, Illinois 3 (5:14 3Q)

I just didn’t see it coming.  I just didn’t see it coming.

I don’t even know what to say about this game, other than my decision not to drive down to St. Louis on my own dime to cover the game was a really good idea. Really, really good.

I think I’m going to have to divide my Illinois-win-prediction by three to be right this season.  This is just abysmal, and it looks like there is no hope in sight.

Hoohoo just got his first catch.  With 1:30 left in the first Q.  Not like he is one of the best TE’s in the country or anything.

Finally, a tweet from our resident Wolverine fan Bosch:

“This is HJB…what is wrong with your team, man??”

Yup.  That about sums it up.

-PS  Missouri 30, Illinois 9
I wondered what we were missing….a blocked extra point!!! That was it!

 

Apparently Jason Ford is also injured if you’re wondering why we’re getting such a steady diet of suck…I mean Mikel Leshoure. 

I’m running out of bad adjectives for this game.  At this rate, my snark level will be very low for the evening games…

-PS   Missouri 37, Illinois 9
I have a hard time believing I even just typed that score into the posting area.  It’s downright shocking.

 

It’s the worst Illinois loss of the last three years, for one. 

I think, from a rationality there was no way to expect this.

From a fan standpoint, there’s nothing to say other than I feel betrayed and that I feel as though I was sold a bill of goods. 

I find it almost impossible to believe that somehow this is the way we have started a season that could have ended in a very special way. 

Either Missouri is going to be way better than people thought, or Illinois is going to be train wreck bad.

-PS Illinois-Missouri post-mortem
I just got a text from my mother, and Illinois grad. She said, and I’m quoting:
“What ga?”
Quite honestly, that may sum up my feelings…..
PS

 

Wisconsin 14, Northern Illinois 3 14:52 in second quarter

Tweet at 11:30 mark in first quarter:

“To quote Matt LePay: Welcome to the Big 10 Scott Tolzien.”
Mike Lucas shares my thinking that the play almost mirrored the Matt Schaebert/Lee Evans connection in 2004 against Ohio State. Sitting on cloud nine at this point, then reality sets in with the 47 yard run by Me’co Brown down to the Wisconsin 15 on the first play of their second drive. On the bright side, The Badger defense has two sacks already, which is roughly half of what the team had for a total all of last year. If they’re going to give up so many points, at least play with some sense of urgency. I don’t completely understand that saying, but that was my high school football coach’s favorite buzz word. Good thing we didn’t win a game.

Nick Toon is a beast by the way. And I have to admit I didn’t foresee Isaac Anderson’s dual-threat capablities. They have a pretty good crop of underrated receivers. Tolzien just needs to play like Craig Krenzel to give the offense a chance to score. Here comes Curt Phillips…

Halftime: Wisconsin 14, NIU 6

6:54 p.m. tweet- “And so begins Wisconsin’s Chris Leak/Tim Tebow combo, except for the cheerleader pass that Tebow throws. Ride T/P to victory!”

4:10 in second quarter

Welcome to the Big 10 Mike Taylor, and watch that rib contusion you just suffered. His housewarming gift of a fumble inside NIU territory was ruined by Tolzien’s Wakefield knuckler to that cornerback. I love that I can hear the “eat shit” and “fuck you” chants over the television. Totally classy. The Big Ten Network doesn’t have the money to pay for the censors ESPN uses to bleep the chants to “eat_______you.”

1:51 mark-

Make that 0-5 on third downs for NIU. The Badgers aren’t looking too bad on either side of the ball. A bend but don’t break mentality on defense will keep me happy as long as the run-run-pass, more boring than watching paint dry offensive scheme to some level of consistency. 

The best way to describe my feelings at halftime? “Good.” So descriptive, I know. My expectations were pretty low to start, so I’m very happy with both sides of the ball. Tolzien can throw a spiral and the defense is actually creating turnovers and pressure. Now let’s open it up in the second half.

On a separate note, I’m openly campaigning for the Packers to sign Jeff Garcia now that Brohm is out the door. I’ll discuss that later this week.

9:15 in the third quarter-Wisconsin 21, NIU 6

Typical Wisconsin touchdown: A single digit run after some good pass plays. John Clay is bringing back shaving designs into your head to showcase your lifestyle choice. I have a feeling “Tolzien to Toon” will be heard more than a few times this year. Props to Scottie for not emptying his colon before connecting with Al’s son.

Final score: Wisconsin 28, NIU 20

Nothing can ever come easy, but considering all the question marks surrounding the Badgers, all sides of the ball showed a spark that was rarely seen last year. The key word for the rest of the season will be consistency, but the defense was tough, Tolzien’s jock is only stained with sweat, and the rest of the passing game showcased three or four different threats. I’ll have more on this game and the answers to most of those pregame questions next Tuesday. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the fact that the defense wasn’t a game-altering enema like it was so many times last year.

Big Ten QB Power Rankings

dclark21

By Paul M. Banks

The Big Ten has a historical reputation for being a “black and blue” type conference like the old NFC Central in the NFL. Woody Hayes and his “3 yards and a cloud of dust” comes to mind. But today, it’s all about the spread-option, and having a quarterback who can run the ball almost as well, or better than he can throw it. The Big Ten’s best are the guys who can beat with you with their legs in addition to beating you with their arm.

1. Ohio State- Terrelle Pryor.
He’s the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and will only get better. The only question remaining is, why wasn’t he one of the three players selected by THEEEEEE Ohio State University to attend Media Day in Chicago? Instead OSU brought one mediocre player, one guy that might not start, and another who’s scout team level in talent.

2. Illinois- Juice Williams and Penn State- Darryl Clark
It really is a toss-up between these two mobile QBs. Both have led their team to the Rose Bowl, both got smoked in that Rose Bowl, and both have developed towards the back-end of their collegiate career. Juice is a better runner and will put up bigger numbers this fall, but Clark is a better decision maker and commits less mistakes.

4. Minnesota- Adam Weber
Like the first three, he’s mobile and he’s got a gun. But does WR supreme Eric Decker make him look better than he really is? Guess we will find out next year when Decks is gone.

5. Northwestern Mike Kafkajuice-williams-arrelious-benn-440
He’s known as “the guy who broke that QB rushing record” to most, as he really hasn’t done much else outside of… the record shattering 217 yards he scrambled for in a season-defining win at Minnesota last fall. But he has potential, and now with C.J. Bacher’s departure, he has a chance to be the man and carry this team.

6. Iowa- Ricky Stanzi
Has high potential to rise above this spot; playing with the luxury of his stellar defense and the great blocking in front of him will help him get there.

7. Michigan State- Kirk Cousins/Keith Nichol
Cousins looked ok when he got some playing time in the Citrus Bowl last year (if the credit card company that bought the rights to that game wants publicity, they can give me a cut, until then it’s the Citrus Bowl to me!). Nichol is yet another qb transfer who bails on his program when he finds himself lower on the depth chart. But when you realize that he had to contend with Sam Bradford at Oklahoma, can you blame him? They’ll name their starter in a couple days.

8. Indiana- Ben Chappell
He’s got a good arm, but he’s no Antwaan Randle El. He’s not even in the same class as Kellen Lewis.

9. Purdue- Joey Elliot
He’s the like the Chester Frazier of Big Ten football- already focused on coaching once his college career ends. Last year, the Joe Tiller era ended. This year ends the era of Purdue QBs putting up good passing numbers and having draft potential.

10. Michigan ???
Familiar with the term “hot mess”? I don’t really know where to begin, expect by asking them to start over with whoever is the highest rated youngster at the position in their program.

11. Wisconsin ???
The Badgers deserve this spot simply because of what happened today with Bret Bielema’s “depth chart” release, an extreme let-down that said nothing. Junior Scott Tolzien and redshirt freshman Curt Phillips were listed as co-starters ahead of senior Dustin Sherer, who started the final seven games in 2008. They won’t bother telling us who’s winning the position battle. But we can figure out that Sherer is JUST AWFUL.

Mike Kafka: Northwestern’s Record Setting QB

kafka

By Paul M. Banks

This fall Northwestern breaks in a new starting quarterback, one with a few starting games under his belt. One of those games was extraordinary.

“All Mike Kafka did last year with his opportunity was run for a Big Ten single-game record (for a quarterback) 217 yards. You’ll see if you come out to practice that he’s throwing the ball as well as he has in his career and we’re excited to have a Chicagoan, a St. Rita graduate leading our program,” Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald said at Northwestern Media Day.

Because of his performance in that single game, a 24-17 win at nationally ranked Minnesota, Kafka was named an AT&T All-America Player of the Week candidate, Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week and earned an ESPN College Gameday “Helmet Sticker.”

Because of that publicity, and the fact that it’s the only major national ink Kafka has acquired to date, he’s earned a reputation as a Randall Cunningham type, run-first style quarterback. I asked him what he thinks of that designation. “It’s a nice little label, but…everyone’s going to have opinions on you, and I can throw the ball too,” he responded.

Coach Fitz vouched for Kafka’s passing ability, as a complement to the scrambling that he’s known for. “We’re going to ask Mike to run our offense and if that involves running then that’s what we’re going to do. But as I’ve said, he completed more passes than anyone wants to give him credit for last year, right around 70 percent. Mike can throw it well, we’ll spread it out and I think he’s a true definition of a dual-threat quarterback.”kafkadualthreat

But that credit is slowly trickling in for Kafka, as he’s just one of 20 quarterbacks nationally, three from the Big Ten, named to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list. And his passing accuracy is reflected by the fact that he’s completed 62 percent of his career pass attempts. Kafka’s QB role model is a player who was certainly not known for scrambling.

“One of the guys I look up to is Brett Favre, I love the way he plays the game and I try to model my game around his.” This fall, Kafka will have a chance to disprove (or re-affirm) the idea that he’s strictly a “running quarterback.” So I asked him if there was anything else he had read or heard about himself in the mainstream media which he found grossly inaccurate.

“I leave that up to my parents, a lot of parents like reading that kind of stuff, but I really don’t read into it. I’m pretty confident in my abilities, I know I what I need to do. I know my teammates got my back, and I got their back, so that’s all that matters to me,” he responded.

Of course, in this age and day of web 2.0 and social media; opinions, facts, rumors, hints, allegations and things left unsaid, but implied get around more rapidly than ever. I asked the NU QB if he gets involved with things like Facebook, Twitter and the like.

“In the past I’ve had one. I still have a Facebook page, but I don’t check it that often, I’m thinking about just erasing it because it’s kind of a waste of time…I don’t care about it that much and it would kind of be a distraction throughout the season,” he replied.