Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Associated Press story:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)—Tom Brady’s(notes) throwing shoulder seems just fine.

The New England Patriots quarterback threw passes of up to 25 yards at practice Tuesday four days after suffering a sore shoulder when he was tackled in a game against the Washington Redskins. He threw hard passes from a shorter distance.

Coach Bill Belichick didn’t say if Brady would play against the New York Giants on Thursday night in the final exhibition game for both teams.

At first, Brady and backups Andrew Walter(notes) and Brian Hoyer took turns throwing to a Patriots staffer. Walter and Hoyer then went to the other end of the field, leaving Brady with the staffer and quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien.

Then Brady threw 16 passes from different angles and speeds before lining up for an 11-on-11 drill.

So it doesn't seem like the shoulder injury will affect Brady's status for the season opener on the 14th.

AP via Yahoo! Sports


I think the Pac-10 is one of the most overrated football conferences, with one of the most overrated programs (USC), which also has the most overrated coach in all of sports (Pete Carroll). But it also has the best looking females, so it's not all bad.

If Cal is going to make some noise, this will be the year to do it. USC is slightly weaker than usual, and Cal returns a lot of talent at key positions. RB Jahvid Best rushed for 1,580 yards last year on 194 carries. Yes, that's 8.1 yards per carry. They have an experienced group of receivers, and their defense has some nice pass rushing ability on the outside. Their non-conference schedule provides decent tune up games against Maryland and Minnesota. They also host USC in one of the biggest games of the season.

Key Games:
9/26 @ #14 Oregon
10/3 vs. #4 USC
11/7 vs. #25 Oregon State

10-3, Pac-10 Champs, Rose Bowl losers

After they beat Penn State in last year's Rose Bowl, some morons argued that they had just as much of a BCS beef as Texas did. Fuck that shit. USC has a habit of losing random games to teams they should beat. In '08, it was Oregon State. In '07, it was Stanford. In '09, it will be Notre Dame.

The Trojans have a lot of holes to fill, but they always reload. Recruiting kids to play at USC is like beating a deaf guy in a hearing competition. They also have to play 5 games against ranked opponents, with 4 of those on the road. That could be their undoing.

Big Games:
9/12 @ #6 Ohio State
10/3 @ #12 California
10/17 @ #23 Notre Dame
10/24 vs. #25 Oregon State
10/31 @ #14 Oregon

Prediction: 10-3, Holiday Bowl winner.

The Ducks only lost 3 games last year. QB Jeremiah Masoli threw for 1,744 yards, and ran for 718 more. Inside the conference, they have a big advantage because they host both USC and Cal. But their non-conference schedule might chew them up a bit. They had the balls to schedule Boise State (on the road, no less) AND Utah. Utah, by the way, hasn't lost a game since November of '07. Unfortunately, Oregon's bravery will be punished and not rewarded. They'll make some noise in the conference, but they're too thin to stay with the likes of the big boys from Cali.

Key Games:
9/3 @ #16 Boise State
9/19 vs. #18 Utah
9/26 vs. #12 California
10/31 vs. #4 USC
12/3 vs. #25 Oregon State

Prediction: 10-3, Sun Bowl win

The rest in alphabetical order...

No clear choice at QB, big gaps in the offensive line, a bland defense, and they have to play USC in Pasadena, and Cal in Berkeley. It will be hard for Zona to improve on their 7-5 record from last season.

ASU had the 113th best rushing offense in the country last year. That doesn't look to improve, and neither does the O-line, or the QB situation. They have a decent defense that might give some teams a headache, and potentially lead to an upset. But it's hard to believe they'll do anything except compete with rival Arizona in the chewy center of the Pac-10. But they have the hottest girls in college football.

OSU find themselves ranked 25th by default. The bottom third of the Top 25 is a revolving door of teams coming and going, winning and losing. The beavers have Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year Jacquizz Rodgers, who rushed for 1,253 yards, 11 TDs, and 0 fumbles. But they have an awful defense with an abysmal secondary. They'll finish a very distant 4th in the Pac-10, and could perhaps be in that Arizona/Arizona State mess around the 5th spot.

Stanford is a bit of a throwback team. In the pass-happy Pac-10, the Cardinal are very good at running the ball, and adept at stopping the run. But actually passing the ball (a must when you're behind), and stopping the pass (a must when you're ahead) are Stanford's biggest roadblocks to bowl eligibility. But considering they have academic standards (high ones at that), it's safe to say that Jim Harbaugh's done a good job there. Except at scheduling. They play Wake Forest (on the road) and Notre Dame instead of going after more cupcake wins to help them reach that bowl game.

17.7. That's how many points the Bruins averaged in 2008. And that's predominately against middling Pac-10 defenses. 5 times last year, they were held to 10 points or fewer. And it doesn't look like much will change for Norm Chow's offensive unit. But they do have a good defense, which might provide an upset win, but will generally go to waste.

The good news is, you can't get much worse if you're Washington. 0-12 last year, they carry a 14 game losing streak which will surely reach 15 as they open their season against LSU. There's nowhere to go but up, but it will be a slow, nearly sideways move up. They're relying on QB Jake Locker, who can run, but who's only completed 48.7% of his career passes.

The state of Washington might just have the worst college football in the country. The Huskies were 0-12, while the Cougars were 2-11. Wazzou was outscored by over 400 points last season, and half their wins came against lowly Washington. Their other win came against Portland State, who went 4-7 in D-IAA.

So think about it. Last year, the state of Washington produced 1 victory against a I-A opponent, and that was one Washington team beating another Washington team 16-13. Pathetic.


We continue our position-by-position preview of the Patriots with the runningbacks. The Patriots haven't had a true #1 RB since the departure of Corey Dillon. And they still don't. However, the Pats have plenty of options in the backfield.

Sammy Morris rushed for 727 yards last year, with a nice 4.7 average. But he only had more than 16 carries in 1 game, and that was the Week 17 Wind Bowl in Buffalo. Morris had 24 carries in that game, Lamont Jordan had 20, and Cassel only threw 8 passes.

Morris runs better when he runs less frequently. If he's kept between 12 to 15 carries, he's most efficient. Last year, with Maroney out, the Patriots leaned on him a great deal. He was an unsung hero of the offense. His carries will go down, but his production will remain just as pivotal.

Laurence Maroney is another Patriots RB that needs to keep his carries down. When paired with the afore mentioned Corey Dillon, he looked extremely good. And people forget that in 2007, he rushed for 835 yards, and a 4.5 yard average.

The problem with Maroney is consistency, both in his health and in his running game. In 2007, he'd have a few 100 yard games, averaging 5.0+ yards per carry. Then he'd have a 44 yard performance, struggling to get 3.0 YPC. In the '07 playoffs, he followed a pair of 122 yard outings with a 36 yard Super Bowl effort, and that was on 14 carries.

He's not reliable, even when healthy. Until he proves to be persistently consistent, he's not much more than a 1st down back to be used to spell Morris, Taylor, and Faulk.

Fred Taylor is one of the more interesting stories to watch in the early season. He's 33 years old, coming off injury, and his 2008 season was statistically one of his worst. But the Jaguars had a crappy offensive line, and against the Patriots, opponents will be forced to defend against the pass more.

I think Fred Taylor is going to be a sturdy, dependable back, so long as his carries are kept to a minimum. That's sort of a trend in the Patriots backfield, that everyone has to be kept under 12 carries per game.

But don't forget, Fred Taylor rushed for 1,202 yards in 2007.

And then there's Kevin Faulk, who should one day be enshrined in The Hall at Patriot Place. Faulk is the 3rd down back, and it's not just because he has great hands and is excellent at picking up blitzes. He does run the ball on occasion, and can be devastating. He rushed for 507 yards on 83 attempts last year, with a staggering 6.1 yard average.

With Maroney as an accesory-back, Taylor and Morris splitting a bulk of the carries, and Faulk on 3rd downs, the Patriots RB situation should be entertaining to watch.

The Patriots rushed for 2,278 yards last season, which was good for 6th in the NFL. And they were 4th in rushing TDs with 21. The addition of Fred Taylor only enhances the Patriots rushing game. Give Brady and the offense 2,000+ yards on the ground, and things get very difficult for opposing defenses.



The San Francisco Giants signed Brad Penny, and plan to start him Wednesday night. The Giants are tied with the Rockies for the NL Wild Card lead. And if John Smoltz's rebirth in the NL is any indication, Penny should do well in the Senior/Lesser Circuit.

Fox Sports