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

mike kafka
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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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!

The Sports Bank’s Live College Football Blog!

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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

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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

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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.