Monday, October 26, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 9

I was out of pocket and out of sorts last weekend so there was no Week 8 post. Here is a very quick recap of week 8's results:

  • On Thursday Night Football, Atlanta lost to New Orleans 31-21 for their first defeat of the season.
  • Friday night lights saw Bishop Kenny lose 36-7 @ Ponte Vedra and L.D. Bell lost 52-3 in a district game @ Colleyville.
  • College matches had #3 TCU beating Iowa State 45-21, South Florida won a conference game @ UConn 28-20 and the #8 Gators lost 35-28 to #6 LSU in Baton Rouge.
  • The Bucs had a bye week. Jacksonville lost @ home to Houston 31-20.

For Week 9 we finally have some good news in the high school ranks. After a two game losing streak, Bishop Kenny squeaked out a victory over the Terry Parker Braves 17-14. The game was tied at seven at halftime. It was also tied at 14 in the fourth quarter before BK kicked the winning FG. The Crusaders had a poor passing game going only 6-19 for 79 yards and one interception. On the ground, Crusader running back Gushanas rushed for 179 yards on 27 carries and two TDs including one for 55 yards. The win moves Kenny to 4-4, 2-1 for the year. Next is a home district game against Wolfson.

Miracles do happen and Bell proved it with a district win over Haltom 32-29 in a game played at AT&T Stadium. This was Bell's first win of the season and comes after two straight games where the opponent scored over 50 points. The Raiders led 17-14 at the half but fell behind twice in the third quarter before sealing the victory in the fourth stanza. Statistically, it was a very close game between these two inept teams that now have a total of two wins. As mentioned, it was Bells first win, it will also be their last. They are now 1-8, 1-4 and must travel to Southlake to play the perennial power Carroll Dragons. 

It was a slow Saturday. #4 TCU and #13 Florida had the week off. The 7-0 Frogs next host West Virginia. The 6-1 Gators travel to Jacksonville for the annual outdoor cocktail party against Georgia.

South Florida is on a roll as they won their third straight with a 38-14 victory over SMU in
Tampa. The Bulls trailed 7-3 after one quarter but never again after that. Despite the lopsided score, the stats were amazingly close. SMU won the passing battle 233-97 and USF won on the ground 255-132. Quinton Flowers rushed for 201 of those yards and three TDs. The Mustangs even won the possession battle by almost 10 minutes. Care to guess what the difference was? Yup, it was turnovers, SMU had four and South Florida had only one. Same old story. This win moves USF to 4-3, 2-1 on the season. It's now on to Annapolis to play the Navy Midshipmen in another AAC game.

The big surprise in college was the last second win by unranked Georgia Tech over #9 FSU. The 22-16 Tech win was the result of a blocked field goal attempt with a 78 yard recovery return with no time left on the clock. 

LSU won the only non-conference SEC game. There were a couple of minor upsets but I figure whenever SEC schools play each other it is a tossup. 

The latest AP Top 25 poll has five SEC teams, two in the top 10. Ohio State remains #1. TCU falls one spot to #5 despite not playing. The Gators moved up two spots to #11, they didn't play either. The big loser was FSU which dropped from #9 to #17. 

Jacksonville got the pros off to an early start with their game against the Bills from London at 8:30 AM central time. For the first time ever, the game was streamed by Yahoo for free. I watched it on the Roku Yahoo channel but also checked out a couple of the other options on my PC and tablet. They all worked. There were a few pauses/buffering during the broadcast and picture quality did vary somewhat. I don't know if that was caused by Yahoo or my AT&T U-verse connection. Now about the game, It was a boring first quarter but the second quarter more than made up for it. In a little over five minutes, Jax scored four TDs, two by the defense and a third set up by the defense. That stretch left the Jags leading 27-3. The Bills got untangled and were able to score 10 more points before halftime. That made it 37 total second quarter points and a 27-13 Jacksonville lead. As exciting as the second quarter was, there were no scores in the third quarter. With a 14 point lead going into the fourth quarter it was looking good for the Jaguars. So of course they allowed Buffalo to score 18 fourth quarter points and trailed 31-27. Jacksonville's offense finally woke up and marched 84 yards on seven plays to retake the lead at 34-31. The Bills still had a little over two minutes left but failed to move the ball. This was not a pretty game. Buffalo slightly won most of the statistics but as often happens, four turnovers will almost always cause a loss. Jags QB Blake Bortles was 13/29 for 182 yards with two TDs and one INT. He showed stretches of good play. T.J. Weldon had almost all of Jacksonville's rushing yards with 115 yards on 20 carries and one TD. The Jaguars remain a work in progress, but we'll take any win. This game moves them to 2-5 and now enjoy a bye week.

Tampa Bay again let a lead get away from them. Maybe these pirates are enjoying too much rum during halftime. The Bucs got out to a 24-0 lead and led 24-7 at the half. Unfortunately for them they were only able to score two FGs in the second half while Washington cut the lead to three points by the end of the third quarter and again midway through the fourth. Still, TB led by six with 2:24 remaining in the game before allowing Washington to march 80 yards to score the winning TD with 0:24 to go. The Bucs excel at blowing leads. The Buccaneers had over 100 more total yards, held DC to 50 rushing yards and scored a defensive TD. Jameis Winston had a good day going 21/29 for 297 yards and two TDs. Still not enough as they lost 31-30. Tampa Bay falls to 2-4 and goes to Atlanta on Sunday.

Speaking of Atlanta, the Falcons continued their mostly winning ways with a tough 10-7 victory at Tennessee. Each QB threw for one TD and two INTs. There aren't many highlights here.The Titans TD came on a one play 19 yard drive after an interception. They converted only one of nine third down chances. The Falcons were a little better on offense but nothing to brag about. They had about a 10 minute possession advantage and 120 more total yards. Atlanta is now 6-1 for the season. They host Tampa Bay next in a division game.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 7

A little late this week. My good friends at AT&T U-verse decided I didn't need an internet connection from Saturday until late Monday. 

Let's get to it. The football week started on Thursday. It was the annual battle, and I use that word loosely, between Trinity and Bell. They are the two high schools in the HEB school district and share the same football stadium, Pennington Field. The game is played on Thursday to cut down on the postgame hijinks that used to take place on Friday nights. The hope is that some of the pranksters will go home earlier since it is a school night. The good news here is that proverbial loser Bell jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The bad news is that Trinity scored 49 points before the Raiders finally scored again in the fourth quarter. Final score was 56-17. The Trojans had 684 total yards, 632 on the ground. Bell had 282 total yards which were evenly distributed between passing and rushing. There was only one turnover in the game and that was a fumble by Trinity. As usual the Blue Raiders were just out manned and out coached. It has been years since they have won this game. Bell falls to a perfect 0-7, 0-3 record and now must play at Colleyville Heritage.

More bad news on the high school front. After three straight wins, Bishop Kenny lost a home game to Yulee 38-24. Kenny got off to a quick 7-0 lead in the first quarter but then the Hornets scored 22 in the second quarter and never trailed again. As has been the case all this season there have not been many game details for the Crusaders games. They move to 3-3, 1-0 on the season. Next up is a district game at Ponte Vedra. 

It was a good Saturday in the college ranks. We'll start with the USF vs Syracuse game. Somehow the offensively challenged Bulls score 45 points as they routed the Orange 45-24. The game was only 10-3 in favor of USF at the break. Must have been a good halftime adjustment or a very inspiring speech. The Bulls had 541 total yards, 259 air and 282 ground. QB Quinten Flowers was 15/22 with 2 TDs and no interceptions. Running back Marion Mack rushed for 184 yards. USF also recovered two Syracuse fumbles and intercepted a pass. The Bulls win stopped a three game losing streak and they move to 2-3, 0-1. Next up is an away conference game at Connecticut.

The good news continued as #3 TCU beat Kansas State in Manhatten 52-47 in a battle of the purple teams. A little closer than I would like, but a win is a win. The Frogs decided to make the game exciting so they fell behind 35-17 at the half. They held KS scoreless in the third to pull within 35-31. They fell behind 42-31 early in the fourth quarter before finally getting it together. They didn't clinch the deal until just over a minute remained in the game. Coach Patterson will surely have a heart attack if TCU continues to play these kinds of games. The Wildcats held the ball almost 20 minutes longer than the Horned Frogs, amazing. TCU led in all the offensive statistics which shows that they move the ball and score quickly. Frog QB Trevone Boykin had his usual game, brilliance mixed with mistakes. He was 20/30 for 300 yards passing with two TDs and of course, two interceptions. He also added 124 yards rushing and two more TDs. TCU goes to 6-0, 3-0. They go to Iowa State next for another Big 12 (10 teams) game.

It got even better when #11 Florida had an easy day at Missouri. I was a little nervous about this game, still not convinced the Gators were for real. It was a 21-3 victory which proved again that Florida has an outstanding defense. They will need it in coming weeks, especially with their recent QB news. The Gators got out to a 14-3 first quarter lead and then shut out the Tigers for three quarters. Florida had an over 15 minute advantage in time of possession. Neither team had outstanding statistics. The Gators defense did manage two interceptions. Amazingly Florida is 6-0, 4-0 for the year. Don't get used to that undefeated season. It's time to go to Baton Rouge to play the #6 LSU Tigers. In Monday's news, we found out that Gator QB Will Grier has been suspended for the rest of the season for testing positive for PEDs. Great timing in what had looked like a much better than expected year.

In another game of interest to a guy who grew up in Florida, #12 FSU beat Miami 29-24. There was a time when the winner of this game had an inside track to the national championship. FSU has come back in the last couple of years but the Hurricanes still have work to do. I remember when Florida, FSU and Miami were in the top ten at the same time, often in the top five. The latest AP poll has Florida moving up to #8. The SEC has four top ten teams. TCU and Baylor switched the #2 and #3 positions but that doesn't matter. They play each other later in the year so that will resolve itself. 

In the pro ranks, I only had to follow two games since Jacksonville was at Tampa Bay in the battle of the inept. Somebody had to win. This time it was the Bucs with a 38-31 victory. I'm amazed these two teams were able to score 69 points. The lead even changed hands a couple of times. Total stats were pretty even except that Jax had two turnovers and the Buccaneers held the ball almost 10 minutes longer. The Jags were also only 2-8 on third down conversions. This game will probably be a tiebreaker in the draft position in 2016. TB moves to 2-3 while the Jags fall to 1-4. Tampa Bay goes to Washington, DC and Jacksonville plays Houston in a Thursday night game. One of the few Jags games that I can see here in Texas. Both teams actually have a chance to win.

The Falcons continue to roll, kind of. They managed to beat not so great Washington 25-19 in overtime. It was a close game the whole way. It was also pretty exciting. Atlanta took a three point lead with 24 seconds remaining, then Washington came back and kicked a FG with no time left to force overtime. The Falcons had a pick six in the OT for the win. Atlanta had the best of the statistical battle. It was not a crisp game, Atlanta had three turnovers and Washington has two. The Falcons are a perfect 5-0, they will now go to New Orleans.

So to recap, the good guys went 0-2 at the high school level, 3-0 in the college ranks and 2-1 in the NFL. Overall 5-3 which is OK for my teams. This coming weeks schedule has some challenges. 


Monday, October 5, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 6

Bishop Kenny had a bye week. They remain at 3-2 for the season. Next game is at home against Yulee.

Bell continued their perfect season with a 34-27 loss to Richland. The good news is that the Blue Raiders actually led 27-20 in the fourth quarter before the Rebels tied it in regulation then won it in OT. Bell was helped by six Rebel turnovers, three fumbles and three interceptions. Even with that they couldn't pull out a victory. Raiders QB, Dominique Lawson accounted for 226 total yards, 110 passing and 116 rushing, with a passing and a rushing TD. Bell falls to 0-6, 0-2. It doesn't get any easier. Next game is the HEB rivalry with the 6-0, 2-0 Trinity Trojans. Bell is technically the home team this year, but Pennington Field is shared by both schools. Trinity is ranked #5 in the state in one poll. I predict a very ugly game.

After their off week, USF was anxious to get back to losing so they played a Friday game. They hosted the Memphis Tigers in their first AAC game of the season. South Florida led 10-0 in the second quarter but then stalled offensively. The Bulls got to within seven in the fourth quarter but threw an interception on their last possession. Final score was 24-17. USF managed 377 total yards fairly evenly divided between air and ground. The only turnover of the game was the interception in the last minute of the game. Same old story for the Bulls, OK defense, crappy offense. They are now 1-3, 0-1 this year. Next up is a home game against Syracuse. That will be an AAC vs ACC game.

It was a good day in Fort Worth. The once mighty Texas Longhorns were in town to play the once not so mighty #4 TCU Horned Frogs. Texas should have just stayed home in Austin. A no-show would have been less embarrassing. TCU dominated with a 50-7 win. It was 50-0 before Texas scored late in the game. The Frogs had over 600 total yards and have scored 50 or more points in the last four games. Boykin accounted for 384 yards and threw for five TDs. TCU's record moves to 5-0, 2-0. They now travel to Manhattan to play Kansas State in another Big 12 (only 10 teams) game with a lot of purple.

Now on to The Swamp. I must admit I didn't feel good about the #3 Ole Miss at #25 Florida matchup. The Rebels had beaten Alabama in Tuscaloosa just a couple of weeks ago. The Gators had been erratic and lucky in their previous games. Well, not to worry. Thanks to some mistakes and turnovers by Ole Miss and a strong Gators defense, Florida jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and increased it to 25-0 by halftime. The third quarter was quiet with only a Rebels FG. The Gators scored two FGs and a TD in the fourth quarter to go up 38-3 before Mississippi finally scored a TD with about four minutes left in the game which ended 38-10. The statistics were very close for such a lopsided score. Total yards were only separated by 27, time of possession was within about 3½ minutes. Two statistics stand out. Florida converted 8 of 16 third downs chances, the Rebels only 5 of 14. The big difference though was Mississippi committed four turnovers. The Gators defense and the crowd in The Swamp deserve some credit for that. Now Florida has to travel to 4-1,1-1 Missouri for another SEC game.

The SEC was 4-0 in non-conference games although none of the opponents were top contenders. Other than the Gators over Rebels, #13 Alabama over #8 Georgia in Athens can be considered an upset, it too was 38-10. In the new AP Top 25 poll, the SEC has three teams in the top 10 and six total ranked teams. Florida moved up to #11.

It was a normal Sunday in the pro ranks. We'll start with Carolina at Tampa Bay game. Looks like #1 draft pick Jameis Winston is going to have one of those up and down rookie years. He has a bad game then a good game then an OK game. This was a bad outing. The good news is he threw two TDs, the bad news is he also threw four interceptions. One was returned for a Carolina TD. The Panthers also scored a TD on a fumble recovery. The Bucs outgained Carolina 411 to 244 yards but that wasn't enough to overcome five turnovers. Final score was 37-23 for the Panthers win. The Buccaneers fall to 1-3 and now get to host the equally inept Jaguars in an intrastate game. 

Jacksonville traveled to Indianapolis with a good chance to win a game. The Colts haven't been good this year plus their star QB, Andrew Luck, was out for the first time in his career. It looked good for much of the game but as usual the Jags were able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It was mostly a defensive battle that Jax led 13-10 at halftime. The third quarter was scoreless. Indy kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter to tie the game. The Jaguars missed a FG with six seconds remaining in regulation that could have won the game. Instead Adam Vinatieri, who must be about 85 years old, kicked a FG in OT for the 16-13 Colts win. Jacksonville won the statistical battle including turnovers. They had none, and Indy had two. Still the Jags lost. They simply can not score. Jacksonville is now 1-3 and next go to Tampa Bay to play the challenged 1-3 Bucs. Somebody has to win that game, right?

The good news is that Atlanta continues their winning ways. They had a rather easy time with Houston in a 48-21 win. The game wasn't actually even that close. The Falcons led 42-0 after three quarters. Overall statistics weren't that much different except for two telling items. Atlanta led time of possession by almost 12 minutes and the Texans had four turnovers. The Falcons are one of six still undefeated teams. Their undefeated season should continue for at least one more week as they host Washington. 

Overall a pretty good week. I expect USF, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay to lose most weeks. TCU, I expect to win. The pleasant surprises have been the undefeated Gators and Falcons. 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Very Random Thoughts - September 2015

  • It seems to me that there are more commercial breaks but far fewer unique commercials or advertisers. I get real tired after the 200th airing of a spot.
  • Between the doomsday news media and the doomsday presidential candidates, it is very hard to be optimistic.
  • For all you paranoid, majority, white, heterosexual Christians, take a breath. Think how hard life would be if you were minority Black or brown, LBGT, Muslim or atheist. Then the white, heterosexual Christians would be fighting you at every turn.
  • Does it make you angry when you think about how long you kept and paid for your telephone land line after we had reliable cell service?
  • Remember these things? I guess store and credit card reward programs have taken their place. At least we don't have to lick our credit cards to get the benefits.
  • I really like when I get an email informing me I have a new bill and it opens with "Dear Valued Customer". So personal.
  • Would Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy or his new squeeze be able to get a marriage license in Rowan County, Kentucky?
  • Pal, it's a good moniker for a close friend. Unfortunately, it has fallen out of our current vocabulary. 
  • When people say "God's law first" in protest to some civil law or court ruling, they, of course, mean their god. There are many places where god's law is first, only and last. How is that working out?
  • In today's gotcha society, I don't blame anyone for exercising their 5th amendment rights when testifying before our incompetent, grandstanding, self-righteous Congress. 
  • If you are going to be mathematically incorrect, why would you stop with 110% effort? Why not go for 1,000% or a gazillion %, all equally incorrect and impossible.
  • It seems that none of our elected officials are willing to compromise to get legislation passed. Have none of those people ever been married or do they always get their way in the marriage?
  • Many of us, myself included, eat pretty much the same thing every day for breakfast. We wouldn't think of doing that for other meals.
  • What is sacred to you may be meaningless, possibly repulsive or sacrilegious, to others. 
  • Are beauty pageants finally completely irrelevant? 
  • All news is biased, but it only looks that way if the bias is different than yours.
  • Most so-called political scandals are much ado about nothing.
  • In the same vein, it is hardly every the actual dirty deed that causes the problem, but the cover up.
  • When you start a comment with "It's none of my business", stop before the "but...". Whatever you say after but will make the situation worse.
  • How much content would be left on Facebook or YouTube if they eliminated the dog and cat videos?
  • When did the word "fewer" disappear from our language? I was taught by the nuns that if you could count the thing named by the noun being modified you used "fewer". If you couldn't count it you used "less". You have fewer coins than me. I have less money than you. Now "less" is used in both sentences. Sister Mary Grammatica is rolling in her grave.
  • You can be smart and ignorant at the same time although it is much easier to be ignorant if you are a dumbass. 
  • One of the anomalies of growing older is that as you have more time to contemplate things, you often can't remember what you wanted to contemplate.
  • "Absolutely" seems to be the new word for "yes" even though it often doesn't fit.
  • Unless you check the facts and statistics, it is impossible to tell the difference between a real trend or epidemic versus just a change in how the story is being reported and portrayed by our crack news media and the internet.
  • How recent does news have to be in order to be hyped as "Breaking News" on TV newscasts? Seems most outlets have a very loose and liberal interpretation. 

Love & Mercy

I rented Love & Mercy the other night. It is about two periods of Brian Wilson's life. Brian was the musical force behind the Beach Boys. He wrote or cowrote almost all their songs, arranged and produced their albums and sang lead on many of their hits. This biopic depicts Brian during the beginning of the Beach Boys in the 1960's and in the 1980's when he was under 24/7 care of a quack psychotherapist. The movie switches back and forth between the two periods. Rather than doing makeup tricks for the young and middle-aged Wilson, two different actors play the part. Paul Dano is the young 1960's version and John Cusack plays the 1980's Brian. This was a little offputting to me. I thought Dano did a good job and actually resembled the young Wilson. I had some problems with Cusack's depiction. Part of it was physical and part was that he didn't seem quite as helpless, bumbling and vulnerable as the real Brian Wilson must have been to put up with his treatment. 

There are two, maybe three villains in this story. Brian's father Murry Wilson is the bad guy in the 1960's. He was an abusive father to all three Wilson brothers, Brian, Dennis and Carl, but Brian was the oldest and most talented so he took the brunt of the abuse. He was also the most sensitive so the abuse affected him the most and it stuck with him the longest. Murry was the Beach Boys first manager and tried to control every aspect of the group. He was eventually fired but retained part ownership of their publishing company. After being fired, he sold the Beach Boys song catalog and pocketed the money. Even after that Brian was always seeking Murry's approval, which he never got.

The 1980's bad guy is Dr. Eugene Landy, an unconventional psychotherapist, who completely controlled Brian's life fo a few years. He imposed a 24/7 treatment program for Brian's addictions and mental illness. It included numerous staff members, unorthodox methods and mass quantities of drugs. He charged exorbitant fees for his services and used his influence to horn into Brian's music ventures. Landy also had a book written about Brian that Wilson has since said is mostly BS. In it Landry comes off as the great savior. He was eventually barred from practicing in California. There were also restraining orders barring Landy from having any contact with Wilson. 

Mike Love, Beach Boy and cousin of the Wilsons, also comes off as an ass. In fact, he is an ass in real life. He was against any growth in the group's music and just wanted to repeat the formula from their early hits about cars and surfing.  

There has to be a hero in this tale and it is Melinda Ledbetter who became Brian's girlfriend and eventually his wife. In the movie, she almost single-handedly saved Wilson from Dr. Landy. Amazingly, Melinda was deeply involved in the film's production. I have read much about Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. While Ledbetter played a part in Wilson breaking away from Landy, she was not the main driver. That was mostly the work of brother Carl Wilson.

Other than Mike Love, the rest of the Beach Boys were barely in the movie. Several other key players during the 1960's are also ignored. That is probably alright since this picture is about how Brian got so screwed up and how he eventually recovered enough to function once again. It is by no means a comprehensive biography of Brian's life. 

I thought Paul Dano was good as the young Brian. Paul Giamatti was OK as evil Dr. Landry but there were no shades of gray in his performance. Landry was portrayed as a 100% dick, not 99%, 100%. Giamatti also had a bad wig. John Cusack was fair as the older Brian but wasn't convincing to me. That is probably more due to my familiarity of the subject. The star of the show was Elizabeth Banks as Melinda Ledbetter. She was absolutely radiant on the screen. The character as written was a little too good to be true and the facts were twisted somewhat, but that didn't matter. Other than these four actors, hardly anyone else had significant screen time.

There were times when the switching from the 60's to the 80's was somewhat jarring and maybe not appropriate. I wanted to see a few more minutes of certain scenes, but then the switch occurred.

As mentioned, I have read fairly extensively about the Beach Boys in general and Brian Wilson in particular. Because of that, I came into this movie with many preconceived notions. That being said, I still enjoyed it. Of course, there is always the great Brian Wilson music for the soundtrack. I think it may be even more enjoyable for those less familiar with the real story.

I give Love & Mercy a solid "B" rating and would recommend it, especially to those who grew up with the music. The good news is that although Brian is still a very damaged person, he does now perform in public and continues to write and record music.