Archive for August, 2011

Game Week Central – UWG vs Tusculum

I’m still undecided on whether I’ll make it to Greeneville, TN for the season opener. It’s a five hour drive from my home so I’ll have to leave at 8AM just to make the 1PM kickoff. Another five hour drive home makes for a long day. On the other hand Tusculum has no video webcast of the game. That combined with the facts that UWG is off the following week then the first home game is a Thursday night tv game means I might not see them for another three weeks.

Whether I make it or not here are my thoughts on the game.

Tusculum had the top passing attack in all of D-II last year and they have nine starters back on offense, including an All-American QB and three All-American receivers. They can and will score on most everyone they play, including FCS Georgia Southern. It will be a long day for the UWG secondary if we can’t apply pressure on the QB. I’d make a deal with the devil to have Jeremy Cook and Ken Hale back just for this game. No doubt someone will say Bo Cordell will throw all over us. The Wingate guys thought that last year about Cody Haffly and they were right….sorta. He had 343 yards passing, zero TD’s, two INTs and got sacked three times. I don’t care if Cordell throws for 500 yards between the 20’s as long as we keep him out of the end zone.

Tusculum had the top passing attack in all of D-II last year and they have nine starters back on offense, including an All-American QB and three All-American receivers. They can and will score on most everyone they play, including FCS Georgia Southern. It will be a long day for the UWG secondary if we can’t apply pressure on the QB. I’d make a deal with the devil to have Jeremy Cook back just for this game. No doubt someone will say Bo Cordell will throw all over us. The Wingate guys thought that last year about Cody Haffly and they were right….sorta. He had 343 yards passing, zero TD’s, two INTs and got sacked three times. I don’t care if Cordell throws for 500 yards between the 20’s; he’s not putting 35 on us and they’ll need that to win.

Tusculum averaged 40 points a game offensively. Fortunately for us their defense is every bit as poor as their offense is outstanding. The TC defense gave up 35 PPG last season while UWG held opponents to 27 per. They only have five defensive starters back and a new defensive scheme.

West Georgia have 8 offensive starters back on offense and two of the three new starters are CLEAR upgrades. Emmanuel Taylor transferred from FCS UAB and has the QB spot on lockdown. Malcolm Johnson, our top receiver from 2009 is back and pairs up with V.J. Hunt and Arkeem French, last season’s top target. Judging from scrimmages I can see 6-7 guys getting thrown to on the regular. Solid line play will make or break us this year. We could finish anywhere from 3-7 to 8-2 depending on how well they can protect the QB and open holes for our two All-GSC backs Yusuf Holloway and James Kennebrew. Seth Hinsley can just about block for himself.

Bottom line – If the game turns into a shootout that definitely bodes well for Tusculum. If we can keep them around 23-27 points we have a real shot here to pull an upset and beat our first ranked opponent since 2005.

Running with the Wolves

I went to Carrollton Saturday for Running with the Wolves, which is Picture Day for all the Univ. of West Georgia sports teams. This was the first time I had been and turnout was encouraging. A couple players recognized me from Facebook and came over to say hello (very cool).

The team scrimmaged at 2:3o but since the Picture Day ended at noon I couldn’t hang out another 3-4 hours. Hopefully there’s some video somewhere. Otherwise I will see them in Greeneville, TN for the Tusculum game. UWG has not won an away game since the 2007 win at Clark U.

Everyone sounds really excited about the season. I’m generally an optimist so I predict we’ll do well every year….well not so much the last decade or so but from 2010 forward I have been. This really looks like the year everything comes together. Once again UWG is picked to finish last in the conference. I hate to everyone’s bubble but that ain’t happening. I’d like to take this time to welcome West Alabama to the bottom of the heap. This is the year one of the Gulf South Conference “Big Three” goes down, preferably Valdosta State.

2011 UWG Wolfpack

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First scrimmage of 2011

Some observations from the scrimmage. It was offense on defense and a lot of guys weren’t wearing their usual numbers so it was hard to identify folks.

OFFENSE:
Emmanuel Taylor runs a lot; seems by design which is good because he throws into coverage downfield. He may run for half as many TDs as he throws. Total package-wise he is an upgrade from Behenna or Weatherford. QB wearing #2 (Holley?) looks good; great mobility and a decent arm. Also threw into coverage a couple times. QB #7 (tall so I’m guessing that was Walker) and #14 didn’t really stand out much, other than #7 dropping a shotgun snap right in his hands. Marcus Walker was “ok”. ET and Holley are ready to play. The others need work. We didn’t throw downfied as much as I thought we would. That could be just to hide from whoever may have been spying; as with the number thing (like Pickett wearing #18).

Way too high snaps in shotgun, especially from the backup center. ET brought down a really high one in time to make a nice corner end zone floater to Arkeem. Unfortunately Dawsey made an even better play to break up the catch. I have a decent shot of this on high speed burst (low end digital camera though).

Didn’t see a whole from Kennebrew or Holloway but we know what they can do. Seth Hinsley is an absolute monster and is not only sure to play but sure to find the end zone in short yardage. He moved several piles. Most exciting freshman I saw. We should be a run first team with the personnel we have. That will really open up the passing game. Delonte Amey is a nice back. Not real big nor fast but good hips, vision and doesn’t waste time running sideways; seems to always fall forward. Overall backs didn’t seem to have much room to run except for ET, who got off a bunch of 10 yards or more.

A couple receivers I couldn’t ID looked good. They had to be new guys. Arkeem is his old self. I couldn’t pick out Johnson. He caught one in the end zone on a busted play by the defense; no one within 10 yards of him. There were a couple nice catches in the end zone that refs called off.

New PK #81 (Joel Smith from Carrollton?) has a nice leg; I think he’ll be the regular for field goals. Not super long but accurate; can’t recall any attempts over 45. No other kicker impressed at all; no kickoffs.

DEFENSE:

Both 1st and 2nd team lines spent a lot of time in the backfield. McEachern fought thru some double teams; looked good. Overall either the DL is much better (and deeper) than I expected or the OL isn’t as good as I thought. Defense always has an edge early on because offense is more about timing. I don’t think we have an Achilles heel on defense.

Two DB’s are real ball hawks; some great INTs from Tre Hudson and Kimble maybe? Dawsey was pretty solid.

Ramirez and Safety #4 were great with the blitz; didn’t alway get the QB but disrupted the backfield.

BOTTOM LINE:

If we get solid play from the O-line this group will rival 2005 as the best UWG team in a decade.

Fall camp is here!

All players reported yesterday and today they step on the field for the first official practice of the 2011 season. I am excited as always about the coming year. I’m generally an optimist but I really think good things are going to happen this year. We finally have a solid group of seniors to lead the team and I think they will do just that.

Here is my outlook for the offensive side.

The skill positions look to be in good shape. Arkeem French and Malcolm Johnson should both catch a lot of balls this year. I won’t be surprised if they get 40+ each. They are both slender deep threats while Bobby Burum and V.J. Hunt can go across the middle; that is an impressive lineup. I was really looking forward to seeing Sherman Page play after his redshirt season but it doesn’t appear he’ll be with us this year. We have 13 receivers on the roster while typically pass happy VSwho? only has 6. As the Russians were fond of saying about their tanks – quantity has a quality all its own. Let’s hope theres some truth to that and some of the youngsters are able to contribute.

I like our running back group as much as any team in the conference. James Kennebrew and Yusuf Holloway are coming into their senior year and both have been All-GSC in the past. With any luck both of them will join the 2,000 career yards club by season’s end. Kennebrew needs 600 yards and Holloway needs 800 to make it. They both deserve to hit the 1,000 yard season mark for all their past efforts. Quatavius Jones will be a good change of pace back. Seth Hinsley and Lane Thompson are two freshmen backs I can’t wait to see get on the field. That might not happen this year with the depth we have but I’d like to see them get some experience before next year. Seth is a monster who will give us an inside presence we haven’t had since J.R. Ragan. With a few more pounds Lane Thompson could be the next Danny Woodhead. He has a very impressive Youtube reel if you haven’t seen it.

The QB spot could be a little shakey but no more so than last year. In 2010 both Brandon Behenna and Joe Weatherford played well at times but neither really took control. They were swapped so often it was probably hard for either to build much rhythm. This year Emmanuel Taylor is “The Man”. ET is a mobile QB a la Michael Vick which always scares me (and most defenses). In the event he gets hurt the backup will be a true freshman who has never taken a college snap. It would be nice to still have Joe Weatherford for those times. In any case I am looking forward to seeing what Justin Walker can do. Hopefully we can get up on somebody early to get one of those guys in the game for some much needed experience. Another concern just on paper is his TD/INT ratio. At East Central Mississippi JC he threw for 15 touchdowns versus a scary 9 interceptions. I hope he just tucks and runs instead of throwing into coverage, especially against UNA with Janoris Jenkins back there.

We’ll have four starters back on the offensive line. Injuries on the front have been a major concern throughout the Dickey era, an issue he seems to be addressing with 20 current players playing O-line. Some freshmen and sophomores will have to step up as backups so Glen Elarbee will have 6-7 guys that form a regular rotation. Our ability to stay healthy on the offensive (and defensive) line will make or break the season, in my opinion. With two All-Gulf South Conference backs and one of the best receiving corps we’ve had since Wilson Kimble/James Crowley we could be a very high powered offense.

Next entry I’ll go over the defensive side.

Columbus Lions DB Damian Daniels named SIFL Defensive MVP

Columbus Lions Defensive back Damian Daniels (5’10, 175, West Georgia) won his fourth consecutive league MVP award when the Southern Indoor Football League announced its players and coach of the year.

Damian has had a nice career playing pro ball in several indoor leagues. I can’t recall what years he played at UWG but he was born in 1984 so you can do the math.

Click the image to view the full article  via Columbus Ledger-Inquirer

 

Odell Willis still representin!

Former UWG defensive standout Odell Willis has been named CFL defensive player of the month. Odell anchored one of the best defenses in UWG history along with Kelvin Morris, John Perkins and Brandon Jamison. We could really use a couple 3-4 year stars like him on both sides of the ball.

I have watched him play a few times on NFL network and ESPN3. He’s a much bigger part of the defense than he was last year. He is currently dubbed “The Mayor of Swaggerville”, since the Bombers are 6-2 so far this year.

The CFL game is odd but it’s still good football. 110 x 55 yard field; 20 yard deep end zone (they look cavernous); 3 downs and you only have to touch a loose ball before it goes out of bounds to gain possession. Since there are only 8 teams it appears they play each team four times per year, twice home and twice away. I would like to see some American teams back in the CFL rather new outdoor leagues forming like the UFL.

Click the photo (or the link underneath) to view the story online via the Winnipeg Free Press. Go Blue Bombers! Go UWG!

 

 

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