published Monday, August 26th, 2013

5-at-10: Game week

It's here. No, not Miley Cyrus's next video testament that she is no longer involved with Disney. (Sweet buckets of shock and Oh My!, Cyrus went all strip-club-tastic at the MTV video music awards. Seriously. You may want to look it up on the interweb, but do not try it at work or you risk your boss or who'sherboots in accounting thinking you are checking out porn. Seriously.)

It's here. Football season is here.

We know it's here because the TFP college football preview section hit the streets over the weekend.

We know it's here because we spent Friday night dodging lightning bolts and waiting out rain delays at a good high school football game.

We know it's here because NFL teams are starting to cut players and make decisions after the third week of preseason games.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's get the picture and toe meets leather.

Quarterback drama

The SEC is filled with high-quality quarterbacks. That's a good thing. Well, unless you're one of the teams without a high-quality quarterback. Then, the riches of others magnify your shortcomings. So it goes.

  • photo
    Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley looks to pass against Vanderbilt in 2012.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Reports have UT naming Justin Worley as its starting QB sometime today when Butch Jones meets with media. This was expected, and the fact that it took this long screams that Worley's grip on the position is tentative at best. That means, which name is put No. 2 on the depth chart is every bit as important. The options — Nathan Peterman, Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson — are young and have promise.

What do we think? Glad you asked. We believe Riley Ferguson has showed the most progression and could very well be the guy — not just the No. 2, but the starter — sooner rather than later. We also think there's a very real chance that Butch and Co. could list all three of those guys as No. 2. If that's a case, it would be a move done more to prevent one of the freshmen from transferring as much as anything else.

As for the next level, former McCallie and UTC star B.J. Coleman is now part of a two-man race to be Aaron Rodgers back-up. The Green Bay Packers released Graham Harrell over the weekend, meaning Coleman is competing with former first-round pick Vince Young for the No. 2 spot. Young has assumed the lead with two strong preseason performances, but told reporters Sunday that it's still open.

“I really feel like the job is still up in the air right now,” Young said. “I feel like me and B.J. are still competing. Overall, it’s not about us, really, it’s about the team and pushing each other so we can bring the talent out of both of us as well as Aaron. Just pushing each other. That’s what it’s all about.”

If Young does secure the back-up job, B.J. still has the option of being on the Packers practice squad.

————

Tiger's back

See what we did there? Nice, huh? Everyone always asks, "Is Tiger back?" Well, the pertinent question now is "How's the back, Tiger?"

(Side note: It was more than a little bit curious that he grabbed his back and fell to a knee a full count after the worst shot he's hit in a decade. His pulled 3-wood on the par-5 13th missed the green left by a good 50 yards and went into the water. Was the back pain the cause of the awful shot or was the awful shot that cringe-worthy? Chicken-egg, egg-chicken? Discuss.)

(Side note II: Golfers are notoriously offended by the slightest noises. It's part of the game and the game's storied past. That's all well and good. But Woods poured in a 4-foot par putt with a Staten Island Ferry blaring its fog horn in the background Sunday. What? A nuclear noise-maker doesn't faze Tiger standing over a putt, but a camera click from 25 yards draws screams and glares and disgust? OK.)

Tiger's back — and the missed fairway metal — allowed Adam Scott's Sunday charge to be good enough to win the Barclays and take the first step in the Fed Ex Cup playoffs or points race or whatever it is. Tiger was in the group that finished a shot back. Scott won $1.44 million for his efforts this weekend.

Sunday was an entertaining round of golf if for no other reason than the struggles. Justin Rose three-jacked the 18th to fall one shot back. Kevin Chappell imploded. So did Mat Kuchar. Gary Woodland missed a slew of birdie putts inside 10 feet. It was a great golf course and a big-time field that at times looked more Brainerd Invitational than Barclays. Good times.

As for being back — Woods was the only player in the field to shoot in the 60s in each round — we have said all along that we are not going to ever believe Woods is back, simply because no modern golfer has reached a dominance that Tiger did in his heyday. Seriously.

And with each passing major-less season and as the injuries start to mount, Woods' 14 major championships keep getting further and further from Jack's 18.

————

Baseball's dichotomy

This has been arguably the best baseball season in recent memory in a lot of ways.

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla, left, hits a three-run home run as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz looks on during the third inning of their baseball game, Sunday, June 9, 2013, in Los Angeles.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Braves and the Dodgers have been world-class hot. There are intriguing races in at least half o baseball's divisions. Miggy Cabrera won the first triple crown in a generation last year and he's having a better season this year. Clayton Kershaw is an Orel Hershiser-1988-type of groove. Small-market, limited-budget clubs like the A's and the Pirates are right in the middle of playoff races.

Good times.

Now this — Cleveland Indians sluggers Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana delivered on promises to hit home runs for a sick kid on Saturday. Yes. Both of them in the same game.

Background: Eight-year-old Niko Lanzarotta has cerebral palsy. He's a big Indians fan and Santana is his favorite player. Niko was on the field for batting practice before Saturday's game and asked Kipniss and Santana to hit home runs for him.

How could you say no to that? So they agreed. And they delivered.

Here's what Niko's dad told the AP: "It was an awesome experience," Mike Lanzarotta said. "It was the best day of his life. To meet Carlos, to be that close, and for him to hit a home run. ... To see your kid that happy is a great thing."

That's great stuff. Simply great.

Now if Niko could make A-Rod go away, he'd have our support to be baseball's commissioner.

————

This and that

— We will start our regular game week features on Press Row today. We'll talk with Downtown Patrick Brown in the Tennessee Vols segment in the first hour. We'll talk with Paschall and his recap of Nick Saban's season opening press conference in the Alabama segment in Hour 2. This will be our Mondays for the season. Tuesdays will include a UGA segment. Wednesdays will have an SEC segment. We're looking at a potential UTC segment on Thursdays — and we'll make some picks. Give us a call at 648-1051 between 1-3 p.m. today if you want to chat.

— Former Titans linebacker and team leader Keith Bulluck was arrested early Sunday morning after getting into an altercation with a cab driver and allegedly taking $100 from the fellow. Head-scratching, no? A few hours earlier, we listened to Bulluck on the announcing team that was doing the Titans-Falcons game.

— Speaking of the Falcons... Hey, they have a lot of talent, and, yes, the preseason means squadoosh in the grand scheme of things. But the Falcons' struggles to stop teams and to finish drives and to keep heat off Matt Ryan are troubling trends to say the least.

— Your Atlanta Braves salvaged the final game of a four-game set against St. Louis behind Mike Minor, who has played the part of staff ace for most of the season. Minor defused "ace" talk, but he does have 19 quality starts and if the playoffs started tomorrow, who else would the Braves hand the ball to for Game 1? Side questions: Who are the best Aces of the world? There was Ace Frehley, Ace in "Stand By Me" played by Keifer Sutherland. Jennie Finch's kid is named Ace. Stroker Ace?

— You see the headline "Parent tossed before game" and you think what has happened on Signal Mountain, right? Nope. Mark Parent, a White Sox coach, was tossed for bending an ump's ear during the lineup-card exchange Sunday. Who says listen no one listens to a Parent anymore?

————

Today's question

We're open for anything on a crazy and exciting time in sports.

Feel free to share your sports view from the weekend. Feel free to look forward, too. We're going to try to engage the college football talk this week, both here and on Press Row on ESPN 105.1 FM from 1-3 p.m.

Today, let's go here: Who is going to be this year's Johnny Football? Who is going to be the star of the season that no one is really talking about right now?

Here's one to start — Stefon Diggs, the electric Maryland wide receiver.

Discuss. It's here; it's all happening.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

Every time B. J. completes an impressive pass to Randall Cobb Tenessee fans will scratch their heads and wonder why those guys couldn't play for Knoxville.

News flash: John Calipari won't get the best point guard in the class of 2014. SMU got him. Yep, SMfrigginU. Could The Wildcat recruiting juggernaut be cracking? No truth to the rumor that the UK staff will beg Ryan Harrow to come back next year.

The Wall Street Journal listed the "one-trick pony" colleges that had the widest discrepancy in winning percentage for their football and basketball teams. In other words, the best examples of so-called "football schools" that maintain basketball programs and "basketball schools" that field football teams.

No surprise that Kentucky had the biggest difference in basketball versus football success: a .263 better all-time winning percentage in basketball. The school with the third biggest difference in football success versus basketball is Georgia (.129).

I mused a while back that we could end the baseball season with no team winning above .600. It's trending that way, with ATL leading everybody else at .600. Exactly half of MLB's teams are over .500, but it should be more since Houston wins only .333 of its games.

August 26, 2013 at 10:24 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Noticed Houston's awful numbers this morning. That's bad beyond belief.

SMU, huh? Is it Pony Express, part II.

And the only way Ryan Harrow's getting back to Rupp is with a ticket. And a body guard.

—————

Also, special shoutout to BlueOval for swinging by the Barnes and Noble on Saturday. Hope you enjoy the book.

August 26, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Talking SMU and basketball recruiting...don't forget they have a coach by the name of Larry Brown. He is not exactly chopped liver.

August 26, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Ten-Ring,

As I emailed you Sunday, kudos on the cover art for this year's College Blitz Edition. For those of you wondering, a scanned-print edition is located on the website. Classy.

If BJ does not lock the #2 spot he needs to go to free agency. He trained with Rodgers for two years which has done nothing but boost his stats off the record. Obviously he's not going to the dark side of the Force over in I-30 but there are 28 other teams in the NFL (okay, 27 [Brady an't getting dropped anytime soon]) that could benefit with him on the roster.

Nice write-up by Frierson regarding the option to purchase airtime. I assumed the game was only going to be broadcasted to Comcast subscribers within the 423 viewing area. I didn't know it was going to be carried on all 12 state provider affiliates(meaning if I lived in Houston which is a Comcast provider, I could watch the game as any other game). Well played Mr. Blackburn.

The real trick though is convincing the out-of-market sports fans to tune in.

August 26, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

MT- "Word" in regarding to Pony Nation's BB Coach. Ol' Rick doesn't quite get as much ink in the DMN as he did in the TFP but he is helping push for a healthier product.

SMU still prides themselves as a football school but their B-ball programs in both genders are nothing to overlook either.

However, UT-Arlington is on the rise in the "small and deadly" catagory.

August 26, 2013 at 11:16 a.m.
chas9 said...

Larry Brown's not chopped liver, but how many hip-hop artists does he have on speed dial? Maybe our Texas correspondent has the inside dope.

An intriguing new book (also available at Barnes & Noble) called The Sports Gene posits that what separates M. J., A. J. and B. J. from mere mortals like Jay is not as much God-given speed or strength as it is the ability to improve with training faster than others.

A great section of the book describes Ace Finch's mother not just striking out Albert Pujols and his ilk, but downright embarrassing them. They can't hit the larger ball, even though they have the same amount of time to react to Jennie's underhand pitch as they have to react to an MLB pitcher's 95-mph fastball. Seems that Pujols' reaction time is no better than Spy's or Blue Oval's. He has learned to recognize subtle differences in hip or shoulder movement that tell him where the pitch is coming. By the time it's released, it's too late. And Jennie's hip and shoulder movement are things he hasn't trained with.

But eyesight does matter. Great hitters really can see better than you and me. That's why I'm hopeful Struggla's surgery will be the answer.

August 26, 2013 at 11:16 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

The Spy predicts that in 5-10 years, the Pink Pony will have a double feature weekend of Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus.

Keith Olbermann returns to TV. On ESPN, no less (hey, whaddya know. Burned bridges can be rebuilt). The larger question is .., why?

5, great call on Ace Frehley. Makes me wanna listen to "King of the Nighttime World" now.

The final round of the Barclays was ... interesting. And Lefty throwing up a huge round on the board only to make bogey on the last hole and deny him any shot at tying for the lead.

As much as I like your Stefon Diggs call, you know I will go all Vad Lee. And maybe some DeAndre Smelter. Could also be a big year for Miami's Duke Johnson.

And frankly, the Spy just can't seem to get fired up for the upcoming GSU season. I'm overwhelmed with indifference, and this could be a very good Eagles team. That plays for nothing but pride all year long. And next year, too.

August 26, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.
volscot said...

Do we know who the booth announcers will be on the Mocs game? Hopefully not Randy Smith. He's proven on the Vols pay-per-view broadcasts that he's a better radio studio host than TV play-by-play man.

August 26, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Chase-

Unfortunately, I don't follow SMU athletics that close. In fact, I have some internal issues down here I have to resolve by Wednesday (more paperwork-protocol then personal if that makes sense).

If I learn anything, you'll read it here.

Spy- I can imagine. It's basically as if the whole team is going to be playing exhibition for a while. Still looking forward to one final match-up at the Marsh.

August 26, 2013 at 11:57 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

One of the great things about Georgia Southern football is that every year, except for a couple of occasions, you went into the season wondering how many extra games and how many extra home games there would be.

And 5, for as a big a sideshow as the Jets are, their linebackers coach can underperform there anonymously. One Brian VanGordstache.

August 26, 2013 at 12:11 p.m.
chas9 said...

Scot--Thanks for your frankness. I've always wondered why UT couldn't do better than Randy's monotones.

August 26, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Larry Brown has some chops. Has he changed jobs today?

JMC —

Thanks again for the kind words. It was a team effort for sure.

9er —

Is that theory much different than Gladwell's Outliers postulates? The Sports Gene is about adapting to training; Outliers is more about the amount of training, per se.

Each alleges talent is overrated.

Spy —

We know you're in Vad's corner. We alkso know you'd be in the corner for the Miley-Lindsay double-feature.

We almost put Duke Johnson down.

V-scot —

We think it's JR and Quake with Keith Cawley doing the sideline stuff, but we're not entirely sure.

We'll investigate.

August 26, 2013 at 12:16 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay-

No need to reseach. Already got the answer. It is JR and Quake (I remember reading it almost three weeks ago).

"The broadcast will include interviews with coaches from a variety of Mocs athletics programs, as well as comments from new Chancellor Dr. Steven Angle and other campus administrators. Jim Reynolds, the Voice of the Mocs, will move over to the TV booth to handle the play-by-play, while Scott McMahen will provide the color commentary and Keith Cawley will handle sideline and in-game interviews."

<p>Nooga.com (08/07/13 Michael Murphy)

August 26, 2013 at 1:21 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Lindsay's just misunderstood. Miley needs to be put on restriction.

August 26, 2013 at 5:46 p.m.
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