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Monday, November 30, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 14


There were some changes in the week 12 College Football Playoff Rankings. The top two slots remain Clemson and Alabama but #3 is now Oklahoma and Iowa is #4. Ohio State with a loss and Notre Dame with a poor showing fell out of the playoff spots. Florida fell from #8 to #12 after their ugly game against an unranked opponent. TCU is now at #19 a drop of only one slot after their one-point loss to now #3 Oklahoma. Four SEC teams are in the top 25.

This is the last full week of the regular season in the college ranks. There will still be a few regular season games plus all the conference championship games.


The Football week started off with a Thanksgiving night game between in-state and AAC rivals USF @ UCF. These schools are about 100 miles apart on Interstate 4. This is a down year for the winless (0-11) Knights while the 7-4 Bulls have won three straight and six of their last seven. The Knights scored first with a FG about five minutes into the game. USF looked a little sluggish but put together a long drive in the middle of the quarter for a 7-3 lead. It was all Bulls from there on out. UCF didn't score again and USF did often. Final score was 44-3. Bulls QB Quinton Flowers threw for three TDs and ran for two more. USF outgained the Knights by over 250 yards. The Bulls improve to 8-4, 6-2 and still have a shot at the AAC East title. They need a Temple loss. The East winner will play West winner Houston. If USF does not win the East, their next game will be a bowl game. Saturday update, Temple did win over Connecticut and won the AAC East. The Bulls now await a bowl bid.


There was a big rivalry game Friday night in Fort Worth. The hated 9-1, 6-1 #7 Baylor Bears came to town to play the 9-2, 6-2 #19 TCU Horned Frogs. It was a miserable night, cold and rainy. The game start was delayed 45 minutes due to lightning. Both teams scored TDs on their initial possessions. Baylor also put together a long drive on their second possession for a 14-7 lead. Then the elements started to play into the game. There were a couple of interceptions. TCU scored on a Bears fumble to tie the game at 14. There were five total turnovers in the first half. The weather and the field deteriorated in the second half and neither team was able to score. So these two high powered offenses were stopped by mother nature. Remember, last year's game score was 61-58. In the first OT, Baylor scored a TD on a short pass. TCU answered with a TD.  The Frogs passed for a TD in the second OT then held Baylor short on a fourth and one. TCU wins in double overtime 28-21. Statistics were unimpressive but pretty even. Baylor did better on the ground and TCU did more through the air. The Bears five turnovers led directly to one TCU TD and stopped several drives. The Frogs limited their turnovers to two in the wet conditions. TCU Heisman candidate QB was just back from an ankle injury and still somewhat limited in his mobility. He went 18/33 for 148 yards, two TDs and an INT. He also rushed for a TD in OT. The win moves the Frogs to 10-2, 7-2 and ends their regular season. Next game will be a bowl.


The big FSU-Florida game was in Gainesville this year. On paper it looked like a dead even matchup between the 9-2 #13 Seminoles and the 10-1 #12 Gators. Unfortunately, the Gators luck ran out this game and their lack of a QB and offense plus no kicking game caught up with them. It was not surprising. The defense and luck had gotten Florida to their 10-1 record. Once again, the defense was up to the task but they got absolutely zero help from the inept offense. They held FSU to 10 points in the first half and 13 through three quarters. They were finally worn down and allowed 14 fourth quarter points for a 27-2 FSU win. Amazingly, Florida had only about 40 fewer total yards and actually held the ball about five more minutes. The Gators had more total yards until the fourth quarter. There problem is that they cannot convert on third down and sustain drives. They also missed two FG attempts, an old story this season. Gators QB, Treon Harris, was 19/38 and no interceptions which doesn't look bad. On closer look you will see that those 19 completions only netted 139 yards, a pitiful 3.5 yard average. Neither team looked very strong on the offense side of the ball. There were 16 punts in the game. This was mostly due to strong defensive units, but neither offense is great, although FSU's is at least functional. Florida drops to 10-2 for the regular season. Much better than expected, although this loss nixes any dreams of making the playoffs. They now have the unenviable task of facing #2 Alabama in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Hide the children, that could be ugly.

There were several important rivalry games played. Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 and cement their spot in the top four. Alabama won the Iron Bowl over Auburn to win the SEC West and remain #2 in the nation. Stanford knocked Notre Dame out of the championship race. Clemson survived over an inferior South Carolina to remain #1. Ohio State climbed back into the national championship picture with a convincing win over Michigan. Iowa beat Nebraska to stay in the top four. There were other regional rivalries games that had no effect on the national picture. 

The Gators suffered in the polls for their last two poor performances. The Week 14 AP Poll has Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Iowa in the top four spots. Florida fell eight spots to #18. TCU moved up four spots to #11. There are still four SEC teams in the top 25 but only the Crimson Tide in the top 15. 


After a disappointing Saturday, there was no relief on Sunday. First up are the Jaguars. They got off to a good start with a 6-0 lead after one quarter and 9-7 halfway through the second. Then they gave up 14 Charger points in about two minutes, the second on a short drive set up by an interception, for a 21-9 halftime deficit. The Jags outscored SD 13-10 in the second half but it was not enough to overcome the deficit. Chargers win 31-25. Blake Bortles had a good day going 30/49 for 329 yards, two TDs and one INT. Unfortunately that INT led to a Chargers score which proved to be the difference. It was the only turnover of the game. Jacksonville falls to 4-7 but is still technically in the playoff run because of the weak AFC South. Next game is in Nashville against the even more inept Titans.


Last week Tampa Bay's rookie QB, Jamis Winston, was setting NFL records. This week he was another mediocre QB on a losing team. The Bucs traveled to Indianapolis  to play the Luck-less Colts. This was not a very exciting game. There were six FGs on seven attempts. Final score was 25-12. Neither team lit up the stats which were pretty close overall. TB was held to a dismal 27 rushing yards on only 26 attempts. The Colts only tried 21 rushes but did manage 132 yards including a 56 yard run. The Buccaneers are now 5-6 and will host the free-falling Falcons on Sunday in an NFL South clash. Which Jameis Winston will show up for that game?


Speaking of the Falcons, they continue to disappoint. They were very good hosts to the Vikings, putting up little resistance. The game ended at 20-10, but Atlanta didn't score their TD until there were less than two minutes remaining in the game. Falcon's one-time pro bowl QB, Matt Ryan, had another bad game, throwing two interceptions. Atlanta also lost a fumble. Minnesota didn't exactly light up the statistics, but they did enough and capitalized on Falcon mistakes. Remember, the Falcons started the season 5-0. They are now 6-5 and have lost four in a row. Their next game is in Tampa to play the Bucs. Which Matt Ryan and which Jameis Winston will be there that day. The QB that shows up should be on the winning side. 

It was a week that started good with USF and TCU and ended miserably with Florida and the NFL. Next week's college schedule will be limited to conference championships and a very few other games. The college playoff spots will be set by the end of Saturday.

wjh

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 13


In the latest College Football Playoff rankings, the top four spots remained the same. If the season ended today it would be Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame. There are still two undefeated teams, Iowa and Oklahoma State at #5 and #6. Florida moved up to #8 and TCU is at #18. There are four SEC teams in the top 25.


The football week started Thursday night with the 2-7 Titans @ the 3-6 Jaguars in an exciting battle for last place in the pitiful AFC South. This is one of the few times either team has the national NFL spotlight. I don't get to see many Jacksonville games and when I do, I never know if it is treat or torture. This one was a little bit of both. First let me say that the all gold uniforms were pretty ugly. I was not a fan of the shade of "gold" which looked more like mustard to me. Do you have any Grey Poupon? Then there was the game. These are two teams that have potentially good young quarterbacks and little else. They both have better defenses than offenses. That is not a prescription for an exciting high-scoring game. There were no first half TDs which ended tied at six. The Jags pulled ahead 9-6 midway through the third period and then Tennessee scored one of those touchdown things to take a 13-9 lead. The Jaguars absolutely dominated the fourth quarter with 10 points and the 19-13 victory. OK, they didn't score the go-ahead TD until there were less than four minutes remaining in the game. The add-on FG came with a little over two minutes to go. Both young QBs had fair nights. Mariota for the Titans was 22/35 for 231 yards with no TDs or INTs. The Jags Bortles went 21/30 for 242 yards with a TD and an INT. Overall statistics were very even. This was an important win for Jacksonville. They could find themselves tied for first place in the very weak AFC South by the end of the weekend. They improve to 4-6 and the next game is at home again against the Luck-less Colts in another AFC South match.


Even though my high schools are done for the season, there were still Friday night lights. The Cincinnati Bearcats were in Tampa for an AAC game. This game was as big a surprise as the next one I'll talk about. The Bulls scored 65 points. That is not a typo, the final score was 65-27 and USF had the 65. They have been mostly inept on offense this season although there have been signs recently that they are improving. South Florida had 34 points before Cincinnati got a FG and it was 51-3 at halftime. USF took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half. The stats were closer than you would think. Cincy was all passing with 333 yards and USF was all rushing with 361 ground yards. Of course the Bearcats won the turnover race, they had six. USF moves to 7-4, 5-2 and still have a chance to win the AAC East. Next up is the I-4 battle in Orlando against the 0-11, 0-7 Central Florida Knights.


On to Gainesville and what was thought to be a partial week off against the always mighty Florida Atlantic Owls. It turned out to almost be a nightmare. Florida Atlantic is a low rung member of C-USA and came into the game with a 2-8 record to play SEC East champ 9-1 #8 Florida. The Gators have been flirting with disaster all season and have pretty much played up or down to their competition. This should have been a blowout with the fourth string walk-ons playing the last quarter. Instead it was tied at 0 at the half. The Florida defense finally forced a fumble deep in the Owls territory for an easy TD more than midway through the third quarter. About four minutes later they had a 91 yard drive capped by a 53 yard pass play for a 14-0 lead. That seemed like an insurmountable lead based on the Gators staunch defense. Not quite, Florida Atlantic put together a drive late in the third quarter. In the fourth period the Owls recovered a fumble for another score. All tied up in regulation.The Gators had missed two FGs during the game. It looked good in overtime as Florida scored a TD on three plays. Of course they then missed the extra point, leaving the door wide open for FAU. They got to the nine yard line for first and goal. A loss of two on a run and three incomplete passes ended the game. Florida had their easy 20-14 victory. Besides the ugly score, it was statistically an ugly game. FAU actually outgained Florida. This is a game all Florida fans want to forget. The Gators are now 10-1 and host their big in-state rival the #14 FSU Seminoles. 

After a great start this year, #18 TCU is suffering the double whammy of devastating injuries and ranked opponents.They had to go to Norman to play #7 Oklahoma in a Big 12 game, always a tough task. The Frogs are playing without their Heisman candidate QB and their top receiver plus numerous other injuries. It turned out to be a close game. It was tied 7-7 after one quarter. The Sooners went on a run in the second quarter to take a 23-7 lead. The third quarter was mostly a push and OU led 30-13. The Frogs missed a two-point conversion try in that quarter. The fourth quarter was TCU comeback time. They scored two TDs and a FG. After the second TD with less than a minute remaining and the score 30-29, They again went for two and failed. If they had made either two-point try or had just kicked the extra points it would have been a Frogs win. One of TCU's backup QBs threw three interceptions. They also lost a fumble. Oklahoma won the statistical battle with 150 more yards and a 13 minute possession advantage. The Frogs fall to 9-2, 6-2 and are out of the running for the Big 12 title. Their final regular season game is at home against #10 Baylor. Frogs QB Trevone Boykin may be back for that game. Let's hope so.

There was good news when #9 Michigan State upset #3 Ohio State in the Big Ten. #10 Baylor beat #6 Oklahoma State which muddied up the Big 12 standings. The only other real upset was unranked UCLA's win over #13 Utah. There was movement in the latest AP Top 25 poll. Their top four are now Clemson, Alabama, Iowa and Notre Dame. Oklahoma and Michigan State are in line to step in if any of the top four falter. The Gators dropped two spots to #10 after their poor performance. TCU falls to #15 after their loss. There are still four SEC teams in the top 25.

In the remaining pro games, it was a split. The winner was Tampa Bay with a 45-17 victory over the Eagles in Philly. The outstanding Jameis Winston showed up for the Bucs. He tied an NFL rookie record with five TD passes. The game was close for 15 minutes before TB pulled away. The Eagles were limited to one FG in the second half. Winston was 19/29 for 246 yards with the five TDs and no interceptions. Jameis continues to be a Jekyll & Hyde. This week he was the Doctor. The Buccaneers running back Doug Martin also rushed for 235 yards on 27 carries. TB dominated the stats plus Philadelphia had four turnovers. Amazingly, the Bucs are at 5-5, a .500 record is rarified air for them. Next game is against the also 5-5 Colts in Indianapolis.

What is the deal with the Falcons? Remember they started the season 5-0. This week they lost at home to the Colts who are playing without their starting QB, Andrew Luck. Atlanta held a 14 point lead twice but still managed to lose 24-21. The Colts winning FG was kicked with less than a minute remaining in the game. Falcons QB Matt Ryan used to be good but certainly not lately. He threw three interceptions. Atlanta also lost a fumble.The Colts weren't much better with three turnovers. Not a pretty game. The Falcons are now 6-4 and look clueless. Next up is another home game against the 7-3 Vikings.

wjh

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Adele 25


The new Adele album was released on Friday, November 20th. It is titled 25 which is in keeping with her two previous albums, 19 and 21. They are named after her approximate age when the albums are started. Adele is now 27 at the time of this release. Her full name is Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, although I've never heard anyone refer to her that way. 

Her first album was a breakout work which brought her to the world stage. Adele 19 went double platinum in the US and contained the hit single Chasing Pavement. It sold seven million copies worldwide. Pretty impressive for a first album by an unknown. Adele and the album were nominated for four Grammy's and won two. She was just getting started. Adele 21 far exceeded 19. It has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and produced three #1 songs in the US. She won six Grammy's in 2011 and one in 2012 based on the album, She also won a Grammy and Oscar in 2013 for the title song for the James Bond movie Skyfall.

Adele 25 contains a single released last month, Hello, that has already reached #1 and sold over a million copies in the first week. It is an excellent song. Now the rest of the album is out. There are 11 songs on the album. I saw or read that Target has an exclusive CD with three bonus tracks. 

So, does 25 live up to expectations? First impression is that it is a solid album. It runs a little over 48 minutes. Adele co-wrote all 11 tracks. The first thought that came to me was that this album has more production than the previous two. Kind of like Adele's new look has more production and effort. There is only one acoustical track with just a guitar and her voice. That's not necessarily a bad thing. After her success, she has access to better producers, equipment, studios and money. Second impression is that there aren't as many hits as were on 21 and overall it is not as strong of an album. It would be tough to duplicate or exceed the success of 21. As I mentioned, the first single release, Hello, is a solid hit already. It is also a very good song. 

I was a little surprised that most of the songs are still about love lost. I expected at least some happier songs since Adele has become a mother since her last album. Some of the song titles prove my point; 
"Send My Love (To Your New Lover)", "I Miss You", "Water Under the Bridge", "Million Years Ago".
Not exactly cheery subjects. 


There are also a couple of tracks that fit into the style of many of today's young female singers. They have a pop sound with a dance friendly beat. The difference is that Adele is a far better singer than 99.9% of those others. She also writes better lyrics. 

Track 1 - Hello is a solid Adele ballad and already a #1 single.
Track 2 - Send My Love (To Your New Lover) is a pop song in the vein of Katy Perry, et al.
Track 3 - I Miss You is almost dominated by the drums. It too has a contemporary pop sound.
Track 4 - When We Were Young gets back to a simple ballad with mainly just piano accompaniment. Soaring Adele vocals. This is a possible single candidate.
Track 5 - Remedy continues the piano ballad theme. 
Track 6 - Water Under The Bridge also has a strong drum and pop vibe. 
Track 7 - River Lea more drums but a much more somber song
Track 8 - Love In The Dark  is another piano ballad but with a more elaborate orchestral arrangement.
Track 9 - Million Years Ago is mostly an acoustical guitar and Adele. Very simple.
Track 10 - All I Ask goes back to the piano, this time with minimal backup.
Track 11 - Sweetest Devotion wraps up the album with a full orchestra and backup singers.

I like the album. It has a few different sounds and, of course, Adele is a fantastic singer. It will be interesting to see how many singles it produces and how successful it ultimately is. 

I recommend it. I pre-ordered it for $9.99, I think it is $10.99 now. It may be worth checking out Target if you are interested in the bonus tracks. One twist to this album is that it is not available on the various streaming services so you won't be able to hear it with a subscription, ie rent it. You'll have to either buy the CD or a digital copy, at least for now.

This one gets a solid A grade. 
wjh

Monday, November 16, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 12


The week 10 College Football Playoff Rankings had Clemson remaining in the top spot, Alabama moving up to #2, Ohio State remaining at #3 and Notre Dame breaking into the playoff picture at #4. The Gators dropped a spot to #11 despite a win and TCU fell all the way to #15 with their loss. There were two one loss teams in the top four yet there were still three undefeated teams between #5 and #8. Some of this will shake out since Baylor and Oklahoma State meet in two weeks. It also looks like Iowa will have to play Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Stay tuned.

Only Bishop Kenny was still playing in my high school world. They had to travel about 85 miles west on I-10 to Live Oak to play the Suwannee Bulldogs in a playoff game. It was not a successful trip. The Crusaders fell 34-7. The Bulldogs led 20-0 by halftime. Kenny's only score came in the third quarter. There were no details of the game in either the Times-Union or at MaxPreps. BK finishes the season with a 6-5 record and now moves on to 2016. That ends the 2015 high school portion of this blog. 


I'll start the college coverage with #11 Florida @ South Carolina. This will be the first UF-USC game in ten years and only the fourth since 1990 that Coach Steve Spurrier hasn't been on one sideline or the other. He will be missed. The Gamecocks come into the game with a disappointing 3-6, 1-6 record. That is the main reason Spurrier wasn't coaching. This was a no lose game for South Carolina and except for national rankings didn't mean much for Florida either. Still, it was an SEC East game. It was not overly exciting. The Gators defense mostly shut down the Gamecocks until the fourth quarter. Florida scored TD's on two long first half drives and then added a third quarter FG for what looked like a solid 17-0 lead. Then the Fighting Chickens scored two fourth quarter TD's to pull within three points. Leave it to the Gators to make it exciting and/or exasperating. Florida cemented the game with a TD with about two minutes to go for the 24-14 victory. Despite what ended up a rather close score, the Gators dominated the game. They had over 200 more total yards, 20 more minutes of possession and held SC to a mere 21 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Turnovers were even with two interceptions for each team. It wasn't exactly pretty, but it moves the Gators to 9-1,7-1. Their SEC regular season is over with a trip to Atlanta for the title game assured. It looks like Alabama will be the opponent. Next up is an easy game against 2-8 Florida Atlantic.


Speaking of easy games, that is what TCU should have had in a home Big 12 (only 10 teams) game against the 0-9, 0-6 Kansas Jayhawks. Not so fast football fans. TCU got off to a quick 10-0 lead, the TD on a 49 yard punt return. The already wounded Frogs lost their Heisman Trophy QB, Trevone Boykin, who was injured early in the game. That is in addition to an already gimpy top receiver, Josh Doctson. Kansas managed to tie the game at 10 by halftime. The Horned Frogs led 13-10 after three quarters and 23-10 midway into the fourth before the Jayhawks got close again with a TD to make it  a one score game at 23-17. TCU held on to improve to 9-1, 6-1. It doesn't get easy for the Frogs. They now have to go to #12 Oklahoma for another Big 12 game followed by a home game against #6 Baylor.


I was pleasantly surprised by the USF Bulls who hosted #22 Temple. The Owls came in at 8-1, 5-0 and a virtual lock on the AAC East title. As they say, on any given Saturday... Somebody lit a fire under South Florida. After a boring 14 minutes of the first quarter, both teams scored a TD in the last 30 seconds. Then the Bulls reeled off three TD's and a FG in the second quarter for a 31-10 lead. This scoring blitz was aided by an Owl turnover and a staunch Bulls defense. Temple made some second half effort but USF held them off and the scoring wound up a stalemate at 13 each. That resulted in a 44-23 victory for South Florida. easily their best game of the season. Besides the score, the Bulls won the statistical battle too. Hopefully, this is the beginning of an upswing in the USF football program. They improve to 6-4, 4-2 and are now bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. Next game is at home against AAC opponent Cincinnati.

In other big college games, unranked Oregon beat #7 Stanford 38-36. Arizona beat #10 Utah. #12 Oklahoma went to Waco and beat #6 undefeated Baylor. That throws the Big 12 race wide open. There are now three one loss teams behind the undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys. Several of those teams still have to play each other. The big SEC upset was unranked Arkansas over #5 LSU 31-14. That pretty much assures Alabama the SEC West title. Besides leading in the won-loss column, the Tide owns the tie-breaker over the teams behind them. It looks like a Florida-Alabama SEC championship game in Atlanta on December 5th.

The latest AP Top 25 has some changes at the top. Their top four are now Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama and Oklahoma State. That's two OSU's in the top four. The Gators move up to #8 and TCU is now #11. There are only four SEC teams in the AP 25. Not nearly as good as recent past years.

It was another perfect week for me in the NFL. No, not the usual kind of winless record, but the opposite. Atlanta had the week off so they didn't lose. Their next game is at home against the Luck-less Colts.


The local Dallas Cowboys were in Tampa. This was a battle of the 2-6 Cowboys against the 3-6 Bucs, very exciting. The game lived up to its low expectations until the last couple of minutes. It was 6-3 Dallas after three quarters, quite an offensive battle. Finally, TB put together a drive and scored with less than a minute remaining. It looked like Tampa blew it again when Winston fumbled at the goal line while trying to vault for a TD. Fortunately, the Cowboys committed a holding penalty on the play. Jameis made good on the next play with a bootleg for the score. That made it 10-6 which wound up as the final score. The Bucs had better offensive numbers than Dallas but as usual had trouble in the red zone plus Jameis Winston threw two interceptions.Ugly game by both teams.The Bucs are now 4-5. Next game is in the city of brotherly love to play the also 4-5 Eagles. One team will be at .500 after the game. 


The teams from Florida were on a roll (Miami also won). The mighty Jaguars went to Baltimore to play another 2-6 team. The Ravens have always been a defensive team and the last few years the Jags have been too so I expected a low scoring game. It was 14-10 Ravens at the half, 14-13 after three. Baltimore pulled ahead 20-19 midway through the 4th and failed on the two point conversion attempt. That would prove costly. With no time on the clock, Jacksonville's Jason Myers kicked a 54 yard FG for a 22-20 win. The NFL is now saying that the penalty against Baltimore that allowed the FG was an incorrect call and the Ravens should have won the game. I'll still take it. The game was pretty even statistically except the Ravens had 150 more passing yards. They also had four turnovers to only one for Jax. Bortles had a less than stellar day at 22/45 for 188 yards with two TDs and an INT. Still, a win is a win where the Jaguars are involved. They now stand at an outstanding 3-6 record. They head back home now for an AFC South game against the 2-7 Titans. Somebody has to win that game. 

Pretty nice week for the good guys. Except for Bishop Kenny, everybody won. I better savor this because it doesn't happen very often.

wjh

Friday, November 13, 2015

Late Night TV Checkpoint


It has been a few months since the new late night TV hosts had an almost 100% turnover. As a long time connoisseur of the genre, I feel qualified to weigh in on how the new guys are doing. I also realize that I am nowhere near the target demographics for these shows. 

Jimmy Kimmel is now the dean of network late night TV. He has been doing his Jimmy Kimmel Live! show on ABC since 2003. He does a pretty good show but can not be considered one of the new guys at this point.

So let's begin with a recap of who took over which show in the last year or so. Jimmy Fallon took over from Jay Leno, Seth Meyers took over for Jimmy Fallon, James Corden replaced Craig Ferguson and Stephen Colbert took David Letterman's slot. I'll tackle these new hosts in chronological order. There was also a shakeup at Comedy Central late night which I'll also address.


For the second time, NBC pushed Jay Leno out of the chair at the Tonight Show. The first time was in 2009 when he was replaced by Conan O'Brien. That change failed and Jay got his gig back in 2010. Leno kept that job until Jimmy Fallon took over in 2014. That means Fallon is just into his second season as host. I watched the first few shows last season and couldn't stand it. The only bright spot was The Roots, the new house band. Fallon was absolutely terrible doing the opening monologue. He was uneasy doing interviews, overly fawning of the guests and the show was mostly a mess. After the first week of shows, I quite watching. I only tune in now if there is someone on that I am interested in or all the other late night shows are reruns. Fallon is still awkward doing the monologue and he still is overly enthusiastic with his guests. Everybody who comes on is his favorite, best in the business, most accomplished actor/singer/performer/author in the world and whatever project they are promoting is the best movie/play/musical/album/TV show ever. I will give Jimmy credit for coming up with some good skits. He has musical and impersonation talent, but he is not my cup of tea. 

Since Jimmy Fallon was hosting the Late Night show before moving to the Tonight Show,
NBC needed a new Late Night host. They picked another Saturday Night Live (SNL) Weekend Update anchor for the job. That would be Seth Meyers. Remember I mentioned that Fallon was awkward doing the opening? Well, Meyers was way worse. In his first few shows he was lucky to get a small chuckle from the studio audience. He was stiff, awkward, unfunny and it was uncomfortable to watch. The set for his show looked like they got the furniture at Goodwill and the band is very mediocre. Like the Tonight Show, I stopped watching after a couple of shows. Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought the set was ridiculous because they changed it after a few weeks. I recently saw an episode or two and Seth has abandoned the stand-up monologue, good move. He now opens at the desk with a fake newscast type bit. Seth comes up with some good jokes, but I don't find him very likable. He also is not a great interviewer. I would say he is the least talented of the new late night guys.

One other point about the NBC late night lineup, Lorne Michaels, the force behind SNL, is the executive producer of both shows which have SNL alums as hosts. Amazingly, the shows are full of current and former SNL cast members as guests. Seems a little like nepotism to me.


Over on CBS, Craig Ferguson cashed it in on the Late Late Show after 10 years. During the summer James Corden took over. He entered the job as a mostly unknown British actor. He also had a rough start sprinkled with some very good bits. James was weak on the opening monologue. He had a tough time with the cue cards or teleprompter. He was and is overly enthusiastic about his guests and their projects although not nearly as bad a Fallon. On the plus side, he has come up with some very good bits and obviously puts a lot of work into those. One difference of his show is that he has the two or three guests come out at the same time and sit on a couch for a group interview. This is a hit or miss tactic. The interviews are always disjointed as Corden jumps from guest to guest. Sometimes there is chemistry among the guests and the sum is better than the parts. Other nights it is just a disjointed interview or worse yet there is awkwardness among the guests. Overall the show is mostly watchable. I was a huge Craig Ferguson fan so anyone following him would have a tough time in my view. Given that Craig is not coming back, Corden is OK.

Finally this fall, Stephen Colbert took over the Late Show after over 20 years of David
Letterman. Those are big shoes to fill. Besides Letterman's run on Late Show, he also hosted Late Night on NBC for over a decade. Overall he hosted a late night network show for 33 years. Full disclosure, I probably watched most of those 33 years of programs by Letterman and was a fan. I watched Letterman and Ferguson most nights for the last decade. I also watched Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report on Comedy Central most nights, so I was very familiar with him when he took over the Late Show. I thought Colbert's first few shows were a little hyper and crowded. Probably understandable. He does a shorter monologue than Dave or Jay or Johnny did and not with the same skill but it is OK. Most nights he does a faux newscast in the mold of his Comedy Central show but without the fake idiot persona. He is mostly a better interviewer than his peers. Colbert also has more unusual guests. In addition to the usual celebrities, he has had politicians, authors, scientists, CEO's and other offbeat guests that match his interests. It is refreshing. You can tell that Stephen is whip smart, curious and informed. He has calmed down a little but I think he still tries to pack too many different segments into each show. Overall though, I think Stephen is a worthy successor to Letterman.


Over on cable, Comedy Central also had turnover to their late night lineup. First to go was Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report. Larry Wilmore was chosen for that timeslot with the new Nightly Show. Larry is a longtime veteran of TV comedy as a writer, producer and performer. Prior to this new show, he was the "Senior Black Correspondent" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His new show is somewhat similar to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report that proceeded it. The emphasis is satire on the news of the day with a liberal bias. Larry's show has a black/minority slant too. I think the show got off to a rocky start. Wilmore seemed uncomfortable and the format was less than ideal. There was a short commentary on the day's headlines and then a roundtable discussion with Larry and four guests. The roundtable was too long and the guests weren't always great. It seemed forced. Over time, the top of the show commentary has increased, there are more skits and the group discussion has decreased and is now usually limited to three guests. Another change is that at least one and sometimes two of the roundtable panel are Nightly Show staff members. They also now do some one-on-one interviews. The show is better now than the first few weeks. I mostly like it although it has not risen to the level of the show it replaced, The Colbert Report

The other Comedy Central change was at The Daily Show. After around 15 years as host, Jon Stewart stepped down. He has been replaced by Trevor Noah, a South African comedian. The show's format has remained the same. It is based on a fake newscast with Trevor as the anchor and pieces by field correspondents. There is usually a guest interviewed by Trevor. It is almost impossible to replace Jon Stewart. He built the Daily Show brand. I somewhat question the choice of Noah as the replacement. This is a mostly political satire show dealing with the often ridiculousness of US politics and its players. Noah is a rather recent immigrant to our country and can not possibly know the history as well as someone like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. A foreign perspective is valuable, but maybe more suited to one of the field correspondents than the anchor/host. I still enjoy the show but I am having a hard time warming up to Trevor and his style.

It has been a tumultuous year or so in late night TV, almost 100% turnover. The jury is still out. Is it better, the same or worse? Time will tell. For the most part, I think it is mostly worse. Some of that may just be getting familiar with the new guys. Letterman was around for 33 years, Leno for over 20, Stewart for over 15 and Ferguson and Colbert, in his old gig, for ten years. They were all comfortable old shoes. The new shoes are taking some time to be broken in. Check back with me in a couple of years.

wjh

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 11


This is the last regular season week for most high school football teams. Mercifully there will be no more football for L.D.Bell until Fall of 2016. As expected they were thrashed by playoff bound Southlake Carroll. The Dragons actually had an off year, losing two regular season games and finishing 8-2, 5-1. The Blue Raiders also had an off year finishing 1-9, 1-5. Their only win was against the equally inept 1-9, 0-6 Haltom Buffalos. Southlake scored 21 points in the first quarter, 21 points in the second quarter and 14 points in the third quarter for a slim 56-0 lead. Bell finally scored their lone TD in the third quarter to make it a 56-7 final. There was no score in the final period as I'm sure both sides emptied their benches. As you can guess, the statistics were very lopsided. The Dragons were just short of 600 total yards at 598. Bell had 180 yards. Amazingly the Raiders had only one turnover. Both teams were sloppy as there were 17 penalties for over 200 yards. As usual Bell is now in their normal "wait 'til next year" mode. Hopefully basketball and baseball seasons will be more successful.

There was a little bit better news in Florida as Bishop Kenny beat Ridgeview 17-13. Kenny led 14-3 at halftime but Ridgeview came back to make it 14-13 after three periods. The Crusaders added a FG in the fourth to seal the win. Gushanus had another 100 yard game, rushing 27 times for 101 yards. This game was closer than it should have been. The Panthers are a 1-9 team. This final week victory gives BK a 6-4, 3-1 season record. They finish second in District 4-5A. That is good enough for a spot in the playoffs. Their Regional quarterfinal game will be in Live Oak against the Suwannee Bulldogs. 

Before I get to the college games of the week, let me mention that the first College Football Playoff Rankings (CFPR) came out on November 3rd. These rankings rather than the AP Top 25 Poll will be used for the rest of the season. Unfortunately the CFPR is not published until Tuesdays which is after I usually publish this blog. I will still refer to the AP poll sometimes. In the CFPR initial release, Clemson took the top spot. LSU was #2 and Alabama #4. The top four teams in the final rankings go to the playoffs.TCU is at #8 and Florida at #10. Six SEC teams made the list of 25. 

It was a big day on the college front. Several top teams meeting in games that had real meaning in the playoff picture and conference standings.

#10 Florida had the early game against Vanderbilt. It was the Gators Homecoming and a win would clinch the SEC East title. Vandy came into the game 3-5, 1-3. Easy game, right. Talk about ugly, this game was. Two inept offenses doing everything possible to lose a game. Florida scored a TD about nine minutes into the game then promptly missed the extra point. Kicking is not the Gators strong suit. It stayed at 6-0 until almost the last play of the half when Vandy uncorked a 74 yard rush for a TD and made the kick for a 7-6 lead. It stayed that way until less than three minutes remained in the game. At that point, the Gators backup to their first time FG kicker got the call. Amazingly he nailed a 43 yard FG for the 9-7 win. It was almost all defense. The Commodores had 175 total yards, only 30 through the air on three completions. The Gators weren't much better with 258 total yards. They also had four turnovers, three fumbles and one interception. In spite of the winning FG, Florida's kicking game is a mess. Their original kicker is injured, their walk on/open tryout guy missed the extra point try so their kickoff guy is now the man. The lack of confidence in their kicker altered the Gators playcalling. It may also bite them in future games. This very ugly win clinched the SEC East title and assures their spot in the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Florida improves to 8-1, 6-1. Next up is a game at the now Spurrier-less South Carolina.

In the afternoon game, #8 TCU traveled to Stillwater to play #14 Oklahoma State in a Big 12 (only 10 teams) battle of unbeaten's. Both teams feature high-powered offenses. I figured there would be close to 100 total points scored. Not quite, but OSU did their part. Final score was Cowboys 49 Frogs 29. With the lose, TCU is out of the national playoff picture, probably out of a Big 12 title chance and Trevone Boykin may be out of the Heisman race. It was a very costly loss. TCU never led in the game. It was 14-9 after one, 29-9 at half, 42-16 after three and 49-29 final. The Frogs had several chances to get close, but Boykin threw four interceptions and only one TD. Even at that he had 445 yards passing and another 73 rushing with two TDs. In fact, TCU outgained the Cowboys by over 200 yards 663 to 456. With this loss, the Horned Frogs fall to 8-1, 5-1 and out of a tie for the Big 12 lead. Next game is at home against 0-9, 0-6 Kansas.  

In the night game, USF went to East Carolina for an AAC game. Unlike the other games, this one had no real importance. Considering neither team is offensively gifted, it turned out to be an exciting game. USF led 2-0 (yes, 2) after one quarter, 12-7 at halftime, trailed 14-12 after three, led 15-14, trailed 17-15 and won 22-17 in the fourth. The Bulls had over 200 more total yards and more than 10 minutes longer possession time. It's the same story for USF, they have a hard time sustaining drives and closing the deal. They were an anemic 6-19 on third down conversions. With the win, the Bulls are now 5-4, 3-2. They are now back home for another AAC game against the 8-1 #21 Temple Owls. When was the last time Temple's football team was ranked?

In a couple of other big games, #1 Clemson defeated #16 FSU to clinch the ACC Atlantic division crown and keep their College Playoff hopes alive. The Seminoles hung in there for three quarters when the game was tied at 13 but the Tigers scored 10 unanswered points in the final period for the 23-13 win.

The other big game was #2 LSU at #4 Alabama. The Crimson Tide rolled over the Tigers in this one. After a scoreless first quarter, LSU kept it close, trailing 13-10 at halftime. The second half was all 'Bama. Final score was 30-16 but it wasn't even that close. The Tide had 250 more total yards and controlled the ball 19 more minutes. LSU's Heisman candidate running back, Leonard Fournette, was held to only  31 yards on 19 carries. The team had only 54 rushing yards. Alabama now has control of the SEC West and will improve in the rankings. 

The latest AP Top 25 has Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama and Baylor in the top four positions. TCU fell to #13, Florida stayed at #11. There are four SEC teams in top 25, three in the top 11. 

I had a perfect Sunday in the pro ranks, perfectly winless that is. 


Let's start with the Jaguars. They were in New Jersey to play the Jets. After a FG for a 3-0 lead, Jax fell behind 14-3 after one quarter but closed it to 14-10 at the half. They got close a couple of times in the second half but ultimately fell 28-23 to NY. The Jags actually had almost 150 more yards than the Jets. They held New York to only 29 rushing yards. Should be enough to win, but they also had four turnovers. Blake Bortles was 24/40 for 381 yards and two TDs and two INTs. The Jags also had two fumbles. The more you look at the numbers in the NFL, the more you realize that turnovers really matter. This lose moves Jacksonville to 2-6 (the same record as the Cowboys for all my local friends). Now they travel to Baltimore to play the also 2-6 Ravens.


The other New York team invaded Tampa Bay and took the pirates booty or is that kicked the Bucs booty. Tampa Bay let 3-0 and 6-3 in the first quarter but never again. They got within two points in the fourth quarter but then the Giants reeled off 14 points for a 32-18 win. TBs up and down season continues. Jameis Winston had a fair day going 19/36 for 249 yards but no TDs. He did run for the Buccaneers only TD. The statistics were fairly close but Tampa Bay continues to have trouble scoring or playing well in the second half. They also had three lost fumbles. The Bucs fall to 3-5 and now host the free-falling 2-6 Cowboys.


Finally, Atlanta had to travel cross country to play the 49ers. This was not a pretty game. There were only three points scored in the second half. That was a FG by the Falcons but unfortunately was not quite enough as they fell 17-16 to SF. Neither team was stellar on offense but Atlanta had only 17 rushing yards on only 14 attempts, pathetic. The Falcons started the season 5-0 but since then have been 1-3 for a 6-3 overall record. They have a bye week to figure it out before hosting the Colts.

Not the best week for me, but Florida and South Florida won. Bishop Kenny made the post-season. 

wjh

Monday, November 2, 2015

Football 2015 - Week 10


The #5 TCU Horned Frogs got the week off to a start with a Thursday night game against West Virginia. It was a home conference game and a 40-10 rather easy win. TCU got off to a fast start and led 17-0 after one quarter. They then kind of fell asleep and were outscored 10-6 in the second period for a 23-10 halftime lead. Apparently Coach Patterson had a chat with the boys because the Mountaineers were shut out in the second half. The Frogs had 616 total yards, almost 300 more than West Virginia and almost 13 more minutes of possession. Horned Frogs Heisman candidate QB Trevone Boykin was 32/47 for 388 passing yards and three TDs. Just for good measure he also rushed for 84 yards and another TD. TCU remains undefeated at 8-0, 5-0, but the rest of their schedule is brutal. Next up is a trip to Stillwater to play the also undefeated #12 Oklahoma State Cowboys. There could be 150 total points scored in that game.


In the high school ranks on Friday, Bishop Kenny defeated Southside rival Wolfson 28-6. The schools are only about five miles apart. Wolfson didn't score until the fourth quarter when the score was already 28-0. Of course the Crusaders won the statistical battle, doing most of their damage on the ground. This was the last district game and improves BK's record to 5-4, 3-1. That puts them in second place in district 4-5A. Kenny's final regular season game is at Ridgeview in Orange Park.

Bell had the week off so they can prepare to be demolished at Southlake Carroll in the final regular season game. 



It was a good Saturday in the college ranks. Yes, South Florida lost but it was to Navy in Annapolis. Since my oldest son is a career Naval officer and I grew up in a Navy town, I had mixed allegiances here so whoever won, or lost, it would be OK. It was a close game for three quarters until Navy sealed it in the fourth. The score was 13-10 Navy at halftime and 17-16 Bulls after three. Then the Midshipmen scored 13 in the final stanza for the 29-17 win. It was a typical Navy game. They had 444 total yards and 428 of them were on the ground. Three Midshipmen rushed for over 100 yards. They had 69 rushes and only nine passing attempts. South Florida was the opposite with 208 passing yards and 62 rushing. Both teams only had one turnover. With that rushing attack, Navy held the ball for 39 minutes vs 20 for USF. This is Navy's first year competing in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and so far they are undefeated at 4-0 in conference play and 6-1 overall. Their only loss was to #15 Notre Dame. Meanwhile the Bulls fall to 4-4, 2-2 and now travel to East Carolina for another AAC game. 


Of course, the main event was the big Florida-Georgia rivalry game in Jacksonville. It was the 94th or 93rd meeting between the teams depending on which school's records you believe. The Dawgs lead the series 49-42-2. The game is held in Jacksonville and has been almost every year since 1933 although the first Jacksonville game was in 1915, 100 years ago. On to the 2015 contest. This year the #11 Gators came into the game as a very slight favorite. They easily covered the spread as they embarrassed the Dawgs 27-3. It was an ugly scoreless defensive game in the first quarter until Georgia muffed a punt deep in their own territory that Florida recovered in the endzone for a TD. The Gators pretty much sealed the victory in the second quarter with 14 more points. Besides the additional points they figured out that the Bulldogs could not move the ball or score. Georgia finally kicked a FG in the third quarter for their lone score. The last 30 minutes of the game were not very exciting. Statwise the Gators had almost 200 more total yards, almost 14 more possession minutes and four fewer turnovers. Georgia had five turnovers, four interceptions and one fumble. Not the finest hour for the red and black. Florida moves to 7-1, 5-1 and has a comfotable two game plus tiebreaker lead in the SEC East. Next up is a home game in Gainesville against Vanderbilt.

In the latest AP poll, there were no changes at the top. TCU remains at #5, Florida at #11. There are still several undefeated teams. The SEC has six teams in the top 25 and three in the top eleven. 

Light week for me in the NFL. The Jaguars had a bye week since they had to swim home from their victory in London last game. They go back to work in New York against the Jets.


My two other teams, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, played one another in an overtime division battle in the Georgia capital city. You never know in the NFL. Atlanta had only lost one game this season and TB was their usual mess. So of course the Bucs win 23-20 in OT. Tampa Bay should have won in regulation, but you know how they love to blow leads. The Buccaneers led by 17 with six minutes to go in the third quarter then let the Falcons score 17 straight points to tie it. The overtime was half way through when TB kicked the winning FG. In his up and down rookie year, QB Jameis Winston had a fair game going 16/29 for 177 yards and one TD. He also ran for a TD. Falcons QB, Matt Ryan, had a better day with a 37/49 for 397 yards with two TDs and one INT. Atlanta won everything but the game. They dominated the statistics except for one. Wait for it, the Falcons had four turnovers, the Bucs none. Atlanta falls to 6-2 and next go to the west coast to play the 49ers. Tampa Bay improves to 3-4 now host the NY Giants.

wjh

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Very Random Thoughts - October 2015


  • Information vs misinformation. Which do you think is more prevalent on the internet?
  • Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is in the future. That should give you a clue that today is what to concentrate on and enjoy.
  • I don't want green apple or strawberry flavored fake beer. I want beer flavored soda and Kool-Aid
  • A few days after I wrote the above item I tried "Not Your Father's Root Beer" which is actually beer that tastes exactly like root beer. It was tasty but I can't imagine drinking more than one at a time. 
  • If you have an adult child, you are probably being paid back for all those times you didn't call your mom.
  • If you just met your first girl/boyfriend, lover or spouse now how would it work out? Better/longer, worse/shorter or never get started?
  • Do you ever notice the screen of your phone or tablet in a certain light and wonder how can I see through that gunk? Worse yet, do you ever wonder what might be growing on that surface?
  • I wonder how all these "devout" Christians, a supposed  religion of forgiveness and kindness, can be so negative and hateful of those they disagree with.
  • Why is it so important to open government meetings with a prayer? In all my business career, no one ever started a meeting with an invocation. Somehow we were able to survive and conduct business.
  • How come baseball doesn't have cheerleaders?
  • If you want to "prove" a point or belief, you will have no trouble finding something to support it. A few of those items may even be true and accurate.
  • By this point, I have thought of at least three or four very interesting items that I forgot before I wrote them down. Maybe they will come back to me in a future post. 
  • I wish Google and others would stop running TV ads that include tones that sound like notifications on my phone. 
  • Same thing with radio ads that include a car horn.
  • Watching stuff on DVR sure can screw up your perception of what day &/or time it is.
  • Everybody has prejudices. If you are very lucky, you are able to recognize them. Only then you can work on eliminating them.
  • What's going to happen when tattoos go out of style?
  • Hypocrisy is a way of life for politicians.
  • Since abortions are legal and have been upheld by the Supreme Court, how is it OK for states to defund Planned Parenthood. Shouldn't they be denying state and Medicaid funds to those health providers who refuse to perform abortions? Two sides to every argument.
  • Is it really an honor to have a prison or jail named for you?
  • When did scattered rain showers become headline news?
  • Regardless of what the styles are, clothes, hair, makeup, etc., it always looks funny 10 years later. 
wjh