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Aug 31

Ralph Lee’s Top 25 Preview; #5-1

Posted by: Ralph Lee at 4:12 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Teams 5-1 are considered to be the “crème de la crème” of the crop this season but I would say each is not without its worries. While it is possible one or more of these teams could finish the season undefeated, it is not likely going to happen. The team that has the best shot is also the team that has to try and win over the voters if they want to appear in the National Championship game. However it goes, all of these teams are likely to remain in the Top 10 throughout the season borrowing a catastrophe; thereby giving themselves a shot at always being in the conversation of being worthy of a title chance. With that being said, here is a look at my team’s ranked #5-#1.

5. LSU Tigers – Up until about a week ago, I would have placed Les Miles’s Tigers as high as #2 but oh how quickly things can take a turn….for the worse. It now appears the Tigers will have to at least start the season with Jarrett Lee at QB as the University has suspended QB Jordan Jefferson for the time being following his arrest based on his participation in a fight out side of a club in Baton Rouge. While Jefferson was not the only LSU player involved, he was definitely the most notable and the most important. Even though Jefferson and Lee shared the QB duties last season (largely because neither has been able to break-out and be consistent) many people around the program felt Jefferson gave the Tigers their best chance to win this season. You add to this that LSU will be without leading receiver Russell Shepard for the first part of the season and now you wonder what the passing game will be like. On the defensive side the Tigers lost All-American Patrick Peterson to the NFL but the Tiger’s have plenty impact players on that side of the ball. DB Tyrann Mathieu will be counted on to be the impact player in the secondary that Peterson was last season. The schedule for LSU is brutal to say the least, especially considering they will open the season on 9/3 playing Oregon on neutral field. The Tigers will also play in Starkville against Miss. St. on 9/15 and then travel to Morgantown on 9/24 to face West Virginia. The Tigers get Florida (10/8) and Auburn (10/22) at home in Baton Rouge before heading to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama (11/5). To end the season, the Tigers will host Arkansas on 11/25 in what promises to be entertaining game. I say the turmoil and uncertainty have the Tigers looking at 9-3.

4. Boise St. Broncos – Those pesky Broncos are back again and this time they are set to give themselves their best chance yet to “crash the party” and make it to that all elusive National Championship game. The Broncos have jumped into the Mountain West Conference to try and improve their chances at improving their standing in the eyes of the voters and pollsters. Coach Chris Peterson has to like his team and its chances in making this season a very special one; the Broncos expect to start 18 seniors this season, 10 of those on defense. Back is QB Kellen Moore (38-2) as a starter and his primary target will be Tyler Shoemaker; RB Doug Martin (6.3 yds per carry last season) will get most of the carries out of the back field. They have three returning starters on the “O” line and they have a pair of terrific TEs in Kyle Efaw and Gabe Linehan. This should be one of the best offensive teams in the nation. On defense, the “D” line is absolutely solid and they have great depth there as well. It will not be easy for opponents to wear down the Broncos front line at all. MLB Bryan Hout is often over-looked outside of Boise but he is great against run and has improved his pass coverage; CB Jamar Taylor is one of the best in the nation. The Broncos will open against Georgia (at the Georgia Dome) on 9/3 (the last time they met, 2005 when the Bulldogs pounded the Broncos 48-13). The Broncos will also play 6 other road games, but two bear watching….10/7 at Fresno St. and 11/19 at San Diego St., both of those games will be closer than you think. But the one game the Bronco fans have circled outside of the 9/3 contest with Georgia is the 11/12 showdown with TCU up in Boise; that one should be a good one. If the Broncos can get by Georgia then I don’t see any reason why they can’t run all the way to shot at a National Title at 12-0.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide – Much like other SEC Top 5 team, the strength of the Nick Saban’s team will be a stingy defense, which is a good thing. That is because just like that other Top 5 team, the offense has some question marks, especially when you look at the passing game. Gone is your steady and proven winner at QB in Greg McElroy; also off to the NFL is your former Heisman Trophy toting RB in Mark Ingram and your biggest and most explosive WR, Julio Jones. Those are three huge holes to try and fill and only in one of those positions do you have someone ready to do that; that is at RB where Trent Richardson is ready to emerge from Ingram’s shadow and show the nation how good of a back he is. The QB battle has not been settled yet as it was thought that A.J. McCarron would be a shoe-in considering he was the back-up to McElroy. However, Phillip Sims has done enough to warrant a closer-look into whether or not he deserves to start. McCarron is the classic pro-style QB while Sims is a dual-threat QB who can use his legs when he needs to. The primary WR for either of them to throw to will be Marquis Maze but outside of him, there is not a whole lot of experience at that position. The offensive line is experienced, big, and physical so the blocking and pass protection should be great. On defense is where the Tide will excel with safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester patrolling the secondary and LBs Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw playing sideline-to-sideline, it will be hard to attack this unit. The schedule is manageable but does have a few rough spots. A trip to Happy Valley on 9/10 could be an interesting game if Penn St. can avoid turnovers; on 10/1 the Tide will travel to Gainesville to play the Florida Gators in what could be a game of field goals. On 11/5 the Tide will host LSU and then a week later hit the road to play Miss. St. in Starkville. They will finish the season on 11/25 on the road against in-state rival Auburn. I think the Tide can go 11-1 and earn a spot in the SEC Championship game.

2. Oregon Ducks – The runner-up in last season’s National title game is back and looking to be back in title hunt again. The Ducks didn’t lose a whole lot for an offense that was not slowed down until they played Auburn in the Championship game. The up-tempo pace makes it hard for opponents to switch personnel or get your starters a breather. Back are QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James but they will be working behind an inexperienced offensive line. Add to that a group of new wide-outs for Thomas to throw to and you would think Oregon may be ranked a little too high. But given the nature of the “spread” offense and how it works, having a solid QB and RB are really the key ingredients to making this offense really work. The other side of the ball will also have changes as the Ducks lost 5 of their front 7 from last season. The good news here is because they played a lot of players last year, the guys that are expected to start are not new to playing. However, the Ducks must get more physical on defense because they were pushed around by Auburn’s offensive line in last season’s title game. As for the schedule, nothing like “baptism by fire” as the Ducks will kick-off the season in Dallas against LSU. That one has all-the makings of a classic although the Tigers are having some player personnel issues at the moment. A 9/24 trip to Tucson to play Arizona could prove to be an interesting affair as well. Back-to-back road games in Nov. against Washington (11/5) and Stanford (11/12) could prove to be a daunting task as well. They will close out the season by hosting USC and Oregon St., both games that will be intense. The Ducks were untouched until the Championship game last season but I am not sure if they can stay unscathed this year, I say they are looking like a 10-2 team.

1. Oklahoma Sooners – This may be the best club Coach Stoops has had over the past 5 years but he is taking nothing for granted. He has his players practicing as if they are #100 in the country instead of #1. The season will be long and the grind will be hard but he has one of the best pitch & catch combinations in the country in QB Landry Jones and wide-out Ryan Broyles; also you can’t forget about WR Kenny Sills who had over 700 receiving yards last season as well. The offensive line is very physical and has a ton of experience so Jones should have plenty of time to find his targets. Oklahoma is still trying to sort out some issues on defense due to a death (LB Austin Box), and injury (Travis Lewis) and pending suspension (Ronnell Lewis) so who lines up in certain positions for the Sooners has not been decided yet. But there is no shortage of talent and skill on the defense, the question is how they will perform once the “lights come on”. LB Tom Wort is much improved and he was pretty good last year. The schedule makers definitely did not do Stoops and his team any favors as it will be tough. They open the season against a Tulsa team that finished 10-3 last season and at one point won 7 in a row. On 9/17, the Sooners will head down to Tallahassee to play Florida State. Now last season the Noles were taken “behind the woodshed” in Norman so they would love to exact some revenge. They get Missouri at home on 9/24 but play at Texas on 10/9. They will host Texas A&M on 11/5 but will travel to Waco to face the Baylor Bears on 11/19. They will finish the regular season by visiting Stillwater to face Oklahoma St. on 12/3. They may start the year ranked #1 but it will be hard to maintain it, I say 10-2.

Aug 31

CF15 On Why THE Cats Will Win THE SEC East

Posted by: Ryan at 2:32 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFkTRkKrjsQ

Aug 31

More On What Rise Means

Posted by: Ryan at 10:34 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football




Aug 31

The Fun of the Lock Out

Posted by: Ryan at 8:24 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Basketball

Aug 30

Work Out With Rock Oliver

Posted by: Ryan at 2:20 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Aug 29

Joker’s First Press Conference Of The Year

Posted by: Ryan at 10:50 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Aug 29

Morgan Newton Ready Go In Season Opener vs. WKU

Posted by: Ryan at 5:45 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

(video courtesy of NationOfBlue)
Aug 29

Joker Discusses the Meaning Of “RISE”

Posted by: Ryan at 2:36 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Aug 29

TGR Presents To You Future Cats Austin Sheehan & Pat Towles

Posted by: Ryan Richardson at 2:29 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

This e-mail was sent to us here at TGR from some Northern Kentucky Big Blue Fans and I thought it was a must share.  Hopefully they’ll keep us well informed on future Cats Pat Towles and Austin Sheehan.

Gentlemen:

UK and Fort Thomas Highlands fans here. Was having some wings and beverages with other fans last night when your website was mentioned.

Wanted to send you a highlight video of Pat Towles and Austin Sheehan, both who have committed to play for your Wildcats next year. I don’t care if you post it on your website, just wanted to provide you with some good plays from probable UK players next season.

I hope you follow these guys this year. They both bleed blue and us fans in Ft. Thomas are doing everything to keep them on the Big Blue Nation path until signing day the 1st Wednesday of February next year!

Both were recently voted as www.tristatefootball.com all tristate athletes (Towles 1st team and Sheehan 2nd team), both listed in the top 20 players in the state by Jody Demling, and both listed in the top 50 best players in this weeks high school coaches poll. Towles was HHS underclassman MVP and Sheehan was HHS Mr. Highlands football this past season. Towles recently attended elite 11 QB camp in CA. Sheehan is the fastest football player in Northern Kentucky and per the recent state championship 100 meter results on the KY track website is one of the fastest of all football players in the entire state. Towles is ranked 40th and Sheehan 180th in their respective positions by Fox Sports/Scout, only to improve this season. Both Towles (scholarship) and Sheehan (preferred walk on) have committed to UK, but as I hear remain heavily recruited by other colleges (that they both blow off) and I expect more so as the high school football season progresses this year. Thanks! A representative of the Highlands and Big Blue Nation.

Aug 29

Ralph Lee’s Top 25 Preview; #10-6

Posted by: Ralph Lee at 9:13 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Football

Teams 10-6 could be in the Top 5 after the first two weeks of the season because all five  teams that will be ranked ahead of them either have tough games against other opponents or they will directly play a team ranked 6 -10. On paper, some would say those in the Top 5 have a distinct advantage over the teams ranked in the five slots behind them, but if you look closer I think the gap is much closer when you look at the teams, and size them up on the field. With that being said, here is a look at my team’s ranked #10-#6.

10. Wisconsin Badgers – The Badgers are not a flashy team and in fact they are somewhat of a “throw-back” compared to other teams ranked in the Top 25. No spread formations or hurry-up offenses in Madison; just big physical lines on both sides of the ball, and the theory being we are going to play “smash-mouth” football on both sides. However, the Badgers offense may get a little jolt of juice in it because the dual-threat QB, Russell Wilson, former starting QB at N.C. State is on campus and eligible to play this season. All indications are that Wilson will be the starting QB on 9/3 and that is welcome news for Badger fans who thought they may open the season with an inexperienced QB at the helm. Wilson will have the 1-2 punch of James White and Montee Ball in the backfield behind him as well as three returning O-linemen in front of them. The Badgers will be solid on defense and it will be hard to put up points against them. The Badger’s schedule is very manageable, especially early on. They will get a visit from the Cornhuskers on 10/1 and that could be an absolute brawl more than a football game. Back-to-back road games against Michigan St., 10/22 and Ohio St., 10/29will be a challenge for Wisconsin. Aside from that, a late season visit to Champagne to play Illinois is all that the Badgers have left. They finished 11- 2 last season (11-1 regular season) and it is not out of the realm for them to go 11-1 again.

9. Stanford Cardinal – The Cardinal became one of the stories last season football as they came close to making an appearance for the National Title (only loss to Oregon). Of course some things have changed since last season including the departure of Coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL. But back is my pre-season favorite for the Heisman, QB Andrew Luck and he gives the Cardinal faithful something to smile about. Luck turned down the NFL to comeback and take one more shot at a National Title but he will have to hope for some younger players to step up quickly. The Cardinal will have to break in three new offensive linemen and no one more than Luck and RB Stefan Taylor hopes the line comes together rather quickly. Gone are both starting receivers from last season’s team but there are a bunch of young talented receivers waiting to step in to fill that void. The defense will be led by LBs Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas and they will get big time help from SS Delano Howell. The success of the Cardinal will ride squarely on how clean Luck’s uniform can stay…..the line must keep him vertical and keep the passing lanes clear for him to work his magic. The schedule is not bad but an early season trip to Tucson on 9/17 to play Arizona will be a test; on 10/29, they will travel to Southern California to play USC in a game that could be a shoot-out. The Cardinal will finish the year with three straight home games but the opponents are not cupcakes: Oregon on 11/12, California on 11/19 and Notre Dame on 11/26. If Luck remains healthy, a 10-2 mark would be fair guess on how this season will be for the Cardinal fans.

8. Texas A&M Aggies – The Aggies are probably the most underrated and unheralded of the Top 10 teams but they return 16 starters off of team that was very impressive at the end of last season. QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Cyrus Gray and WR Jeff Fuller are all back and that should be the basis for the Aggies having one of the more potent offenses in the Big 12 this season (last season the offense avg. 441 yds per and 31.2 pts. per). The issue for the Aggies will be on the defensive side where they will have to replace All-American Von Miller who has moved on to the NFL; also gone from last season’s team is last season’s top tackler, Michael Hodges. CB Coryell Judie is a star in the making and so that should limit at least one side of the field opposing QBs can attack. The main thing for the Texas A&M is it must get off to a better start than it has over the last couple of seasons where they have started relatively slow and endured some tough losses. Their schedule is not bad at all as they get Oklahoma St. (9/24), Arkansas (10/1), Missouri (10/29) and Texas (11/24) all at home in College Station. The bad……one tough road challenge in Norman against Oklahoma. Mike Sherman has the Aggies headed in the right direction and they have a great shot at going 10-2.

7. Florida St. Seminoles – Coach Jimbo Fisher has brought some much needed energy and enthusiasm into Tallahassee and the fans and alumni could not be happier. With state rivals Miami (NCAA troubles) and Florida (new coach) looking at some uncertainty for this season, the Noles look to be the class of the state. Even more than that, the ACC is severely weakened this season and the one team that may be able to really challenge the Noles is a team (Va. Tech) they wouldn’t meet until possibly the ACC Championship Game. With Christian Ponder moving on to the NFL, QB E.J. Manual is ready to show the nation what he can do on a full-time basis. We know he can run but his passing is actually pretty good as well so the Noles will be able to air out when they need to. The Noles will be fast on both sides of the ball and their skilled position players have improved immensely. DE Brandon Jenkins is a monster coming off of the corner and at times is nearly un-blockable (13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss last season). The one early problem for Fisher is they have had several players already nicked up in spring and summer practices / drills but most if not all are expected to be healthy for the season opener. The schedule is not loaded but all of Tallahassee has one date circled for sure, 10/17 when they will host Oklahoma (the Sooners absolutely took the Noles out behind the wood-shed last season in Norman); this will certainly be a pay-back game in the minds of the returning player for FSU. A week later, they will travel to Death Valley to play Clemson and that is never a “gimme” game. The Noles will get N.C. State and Miami at home and they will close the season with a trip to Gainesville to play Florida. Fisher’s club is solid and that game against OU will tell a lot; I think the Noles are looking like a 1 loss team if they beat OU but that is if……….I say 10-2 is their record.

6. Oklahoma St. Cowboys – Mike Gundy possibly has his best team since he took over in Stillwater and the fans believe this season could be real special. The Cowboys have a high powered spread offense propelled by the throwing of QB Brandon Weeden and the playmaking ability of WR Justin Blackmon, both turned down the NFL for a shot at a possible National Championship. The Cowboys have dept at all of the offensive skilled positions and the offensive line is experienced; RBs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith will handle most of the duties in the backfield but look for freshman Herschel Sims to see action as well. The defense is solid and led the Big 12 in takeaways last season while ranking 11th nationally with 19 INTs. They will be just as dangerous this season but must find away to avoid those plays in which the tackling is poor or there is a blown coverage in the secondary. They also have quite a dual weapon in P/PK Quinn Sharp who allows the Cowboys an advantage that some teams will not have, punts deep and accurate and has a strong leg if a FG of distance is needed. The schedule will have some tests for Gundy’s squad though, starting with a trip to College Station to play Texas A&M on 9/24. Then there are back-to-back games on the road against Texas (10/15) and Missouri (10/22) that will be intriguing to say the least. But they will end the year at home against their hated rival, the Oklahoma Sooners in what promises to be a game for the ages. This year could be special but the schedule is not easy, so another 10-2 season may not be bad.