published Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

5-at-10: College football story lines, NFC preview, the first 'pro' football player, Rushmore of UGA running backs

Gang, no time for small talk.

From the "Talks too much" studios, be your future, Danny. May-make your future. Make it.

College football whiparound

It's Wednesday of game week. That means a lot of college football items to digest. Here's the 5-at-10's Wednesday Watch Big 5:

  • photo
    UTC fullback Taharin Tyson and the rest of the Mocs are fired up to start the season after just missing the FCS playoffs last year.
    Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— UTC wants support as ace columnist Mark Wiedmer details here. This is an interesting issue on several fronts. Of course UTC wants a home-field advantage and support and a big, loud crowd. UTC supporters want more wins and fewer close-but-competitive losses. And we know this, as well: When you challenge a fan base, you best be ready for the challenge, because let's say 15,000 show up Saturday — and that's a crowd this town could do if the weather's nice — and the Mocs lay an egg, well… Over/under on UTC crowd at 12,500 on Saturday. Whatcha got?

— After a great team showing in a 38-7 win over Utah State, the Vols dealt with areas that need improvement, including a better running game, as UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown shares here. Also in that peach from DPB is that fifth-year senior left tackle Jacob Gilliam is done for the year with a torn ACL.

— All-around SEC ace David Paschall tells us that the future is mighty bright for the Georgia running backs. Heck, the present is mighty bright too. We asked Paschall this on Press Row on Tuesday and want your thoughts: What's your Rushmore of Georgia running backs? Go.

— We love, Love, LOVE the knee-jerk reactions after week one. Hey, that's part of it right. Of the quick-flex reaction, here's our view on five quick ones (a top-five within a top-five from the 5-at-10... say it ain't so):

  • Ohio State will struggle. Humbug. They allowed 370 yards rushing to a Navy team that will likely win eight or nine games and rush for 300-plus on just about everyone.

  • Florida State will struggle. Maybe, but the ACC is so bad, it likely won't matter that much.

  • Alabama's going to struggle. PUH-lease. Take away a kickoff return for a TD and a perfectly thrown pass into near perfect coverage and the final is 33-9 and no one is batting an eye. Plus, Alabama did not have its best defensive player on the field. The Tide will be fine.

  • Georgia's going to win it all. Maybe. The Bulldogs have a ton of talent and what looks to be the best player in the country.

  • Tennessee's going to win seven games. It looks better today — after an impressive orange showing Sunday and debacles by Vandy and South Carolina — than it did this time last week. We'll stick with our 6-6 regular season prediction, however.

— Monster weekend on a national scale with Michigan State going to Oregon, USC going to Stanford and Michigan-Notre Dame for a final time. (Good thing, too, since the SEC slate this weekend is a STINK-er.)

————

NFL — NFC preview

  • photo
    Jacques Smith
    Photo: Alex Washburn / Chattanooga Times Free Press

Buried in the blur of the preseason was an interesting — but not enthralling — Hard Knocks that followed the Atlanta Falcons through the preseason. Among the story lines was the cameras following former Ooltewah High and UT standout Jacques Smith, who was cut but added to the Falcons practice squad.

Smith was a familiar face in the story of the Falcons camp, but the theme that came through about the team in general did not give us a positive vibe about the ceiling of this Atlanta bunch. Yes, Matt Ryan will throw for 4,500-plus yards if he can stay healthy — a big if with a lack of a solid running game and a questionable offensive line — but the defense looks spotty at best.

So it goes.

NFC East: The NFL's highest profile division has a slew of story lines, but here's one for you: Is every quarterback in this division overrated? That asked, we'll take the Eagles to win this division because of a) overall talent and b) the wrinkles coach Chip Kelly throws into his offense. Side note: As an Auburn graduate, Kelly's innovative offense and quick success means that some open-minded NFL owner is going to throw a ton of 0s and commas at Gus Malzahn sooner rather than later.

NFC South: This division will be a dogfight. And when NFL teams look evenly matched, more times than not you lean to the best quarterback-coach combo, and that clearly points you to New Orleans. The Saints have arguably the best QB-coach duo in the league, and certainly in the top three. As for the rest of the division, we like the Bucs more than most and think the Panthers fall back and the Falcons will be lucky to go 8-8.

NFC Central: We think this season will belong to Aaron Rodgers in similar ways that last year belonged to Peyton Manning. With his weapons and his skills, dude is going to churn up numbers like a warrior ninja accountant. (Not exactly sure if we've ever seen a ninja accountant, but it sounds pretty fierce.)

NFC West: Yes, it's the best division in football, but we've heard more in the preseason about a defensive end that didn't make the worst team in the league than we've heard about the defending Super Bowl champs. That's OK, but come Thursday night, when the lights come on, there's no reason to believe the Seahawks are not the class of football again. They are built for the postseason grind and with the best home-field advantage in the game, they are all but assured of a playoff spot. Add in the game's best roster 1-through-53, and there you go. Easy piecey lemon squeeze.

Thoughts?

———

Special Day

We do a bunch of looking at specific dates as we review potential questions for conversation and this date was quite interesting. On Sept. 3:

The Flag of the United States was flown (it was in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Cooch's Bridge in 1777);

It is the birthday day of the 5-at-10's Pop (39, yet again, or 73) as well as Charlie Sheen (49), Shaun White (28), Jennie Finch (34) and Ferdinand Porsche, who had some success with a brand of car, but we're not sure which one;

It also is the anniversary of the first known professional football player since on this day in 1895 John Brallier was paid $10 to play for the Latrobe Athletic Association in the LAA's 12-0 win over Jeanette Athletic Association. Brallier also was give some "cakes" in the deal and kicked two field goals in the win.

In truth, that last one changed all of sports forever. Thanks John Brallier. There needs to be a Brallier Trophy. Maybe to the guy that is of the most value to the league. Side note on this side note: Brallier was paid $10 and some cakes for each of his two games played, and then went on to play at Washington & Jefferson University, which went 6-0-1 with Brallier as the quarterback in his freshman season.

So yes, in addition to being the first openly paid American football player, Brallier could very well have been the first NCAA violation if there had been an NCAA back then. We however can't confirm whether Washington & Jefferson was simply known as 'The U.' back in the late 1890s.

———

This and that

— Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan completed the U.S. Ryder Cup team as captain Tom Watson's picks. The Americans have not been this big an underdog against the Euros since 1776. Hey, that turned out pretty good.

  • photo
    Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (38) works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Braves lost 4-0 to the Phillies as the offensive implosion continued. To make matters worse, Justin Upton left the game after getting hit by a pitch. Down and out indeed.

— Clayton Kershaw won again. Dude is the definition of lights out. He went eight innings, fanned eight and allowed three hits and one earned run — a two-out solo shot by Bryce Harper in the seventh. Kershaw is 17-3 with a 1.70 ERA, and dude has been even better than that. He had a four-start stretch in late May when he was working some things out that he allowed 13 earned runs in 21.2 innings. If you subtract that hiccup, Kershaw has allowed 19 earned runs in 147.2 innings, which means he has an ERA of 1.16 other than that four-start mirage.

— Wes Welker tested positive for amphetamines. Insert 'possession' receiver joke here.

— Serious question about the state of the NFL: What does it tell us that Welker got a four-game suspension for popping some pill and having a ball at the Kentucky Derby, but he was going to get to ignore his third-concussion in 10 months and stroll on to the field for the opener? It means the league is more worried about appearances than safety. The only part of safety the league is concerned with is the appearance of safety and the legal deniability when it comes to nine- and 10-figure lawsuits in the future.

———

Today's question

Feel free to offer your view on any of the above — and we are curious about your Rushmore of UGA running backs.

If you need a meatier issue, try this one.

The NFL is dealing with a swirling mess of issues and incidents.

We all know of the rage that festered after the Ray Rice decision — a decision that Roger Goodell has since said he messed up and has addressed with harsher rules and punishments.

We all know the various views of the drug issues that have plagued the league and rightly or wrongly, those punishments have been collectively bargained and are set with guidelines and structure.

Jim Irsay's punishment from the NFL, fair or unfair all things considered?

Say what you will about the state of a legal system in which as many as four felony charges were dismissed because Irsay had a prescription for the hundreds of pills in his possession and the almost $30,000 in the back seat was there at 2 a.m. because, well, whatever.

The league fined Irsay $500,000, which is the most the league can fine an owner according to its by-laws. It's also way out-dated and laughable considering it is roughly 1/3,400 of Irsay's reported $1.7 billion net worth and likely will be made up with one weekend of work during the Colts season.

So, multiple offender Josh Gordon losses a years pay. Multiple offender Jim Irsay losses six weeks and likely less than a Sunday check.

Thoughts?

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.
MocTastic said...

I am guessing if the NFL tried to stop Wes Welker from playing the players union would fight it. It has to be in the CBA. The bigger question is why isn't the player's union fighting to get this put into the CBA? The two mandates of a union are usually safety and to better the working environment/wages. The union should be out on the front with respect to the concussion issue.

Everybody get off the couch and go root for your hometown team, the Mocs! See you Saturday at Finley!

September 3, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Saturday will tell us if the CITY of Chattanooga is a good sports town or not. As you guys saw with your promotion of the Best of Preps opening game with McCallie and Cleveland, lots of promotion and the crowd was disappointing. Maybe Chattanooga is not as big a sports town as we think or want it to be. . . .

September 3, 2014 at 10:28 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

There are NO EXCUSES for fewer than 17,000 at Finley Saturday NONE WHATSOEVER!!!

The drama in the NFL is rather intense I would say, Mark Cuban is quoted as saying the NFL will implode within a decade...I remember growing up you had NFL on Sunday and then Monday night..now you have NETWORK (CBS) taking Thursday...Cuban goes on to say there is too much television, not to mention adding a team in London ANGLAND (veiled Ernest T. Bass reference)...

Ironic that todays 5 at 10 is talking NFC, but there is a photo of Peyton Poo, NOT the Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson...Seahawks take the Lombardi again...best team in the league and second isn't even close..

September 3, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: Rushmore of Georgia Running Backs:

Sinkwich, Trippi, Herschel and Gurley.

September 3, 2014 at 10:46 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Definitely over 12,500 on Saturday at Finley. Home opener, white-out promotion, good weather, two ranked teams, and a visiting fan base that travels well. This should have the look and feel of the 2010 App game. Except I hope we don't blow a 3-TD lead like we did that day en route to a close loss.

If the NFL wants to get serious about safety, then they should simply shut down the league. Otherwise, let the players put a concussion policy in the CBA if they want to. There's already an added in-game policy that got implemented the last time.

It's one thing to say or do something in the heat of the moment and then admit your wrongness later. But Goodell did a thorough investigation on the Ray Rice incident and only a couple weeks later said he got his decision wrong. I think it looks bad on him because he appears to lack confidence in his ability to make good decisions. And/or he is letting the public opinion sway his attempt to be fair. Neither of those is a good thing for a leader.

And comparing Josh Gordon's suspension with Jim Irsay's is apples to oranges.

September 3, 2014 at 10:47 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay, where to begin.

Mocs: Spoke my peace directly on Wiedmer's column. I can't help but not understand that it is perfectly "okay" to root for your favorite SEC team AND the team your kids actually go to school (and pay tuition) at. Some of the excuses as to why they refuse to go floor me and of course trying to explain this to the "new" citizens in town it fruitless because they come from countries where sports is either soccer or polo involving a stuffed sheep carcus. The yankee transplants get a pass. As long as the art galleries are still humming, they're happy. I predicted the perfect storm on this very column forum and Weeds concured it. No, we're not playing Auburn or SMU at Finley, but Jax State is no tush hog either.

My fantasy over/under is 15,000. Reality I predict close to 13,000. Depending on how much "push" the local media (not counting Jeff's show) does regarding a citywide call to action.

I only pray Jacob can quit it with the Romo crap.

NFC East: Noticed a slight omission but not surprised. Given the 0-4 start of the preseason, the local sports writers down here in the 214 have been having a field day. You can read all about it Thursday or Friday...literally.

NFL: Yeah, image is everything. Concussion Lawsuits? Please. Given what they charge for tickets, PSLs, Concessions, etc. "Nine- and 10-figure lawsuits" is a nickel to them. As long as the super rich will pay any price to see and be seen at an NFL game, the league will respond with a loud "Heh" like they're James Brown (my opinion mind you).

September 3, 2014 at 10:50 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Also, you cant have a BCS mentality, the Jax St. game is NOT a "must" win in terms of the playoffs. Unlike the BCS where 1 loss and the season is over,The Mocs could still lose to Jax St ( a higher ranked team and would be considered an upset ) , go on to win the SoCon and get the automatic bid to the playoffs. Sure a bad loss might be important for future attendence, but the Samford game in 3 weeks is actually more important

September 3, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.
chas9 said...

Happy birthday to all-timer Jennie Finch. Do you pronounce Porsche "porch"or "por-shuh"?

Great point about jerky knees following game one. If the Tennessee over-under is six, give me the under. Losing the OL starter will hurt.

But the Vols will win more than the Cats, whose fans are also guilty of overly optimistic extrapolation just now. We'll be much better, but the SEC is a tough row to hoe.

Still, if we can sneak up on Florida...

September 3, 2014 at 11:43 a.m.
Buschleague said...

5- NFC West preview: The last 8 SB winners either didn't make the playoffs or lost in the first round. Seattle will follow this trend. Too hard to repeat in sports. Motivation, lack of focus, injuries all play a huge part. Not to mention the 'ohsoclose' factor that is the NFL. In their case a tipped pass gets Intercepted.Everything has to go right. They should get 9-10 wins but SF should as well. St L is way overrated (7-9) Cards (6-10). Last point: Seattle became a tough place to play when the team became good. They had 10plus wins 3 times in the last 8 seasons 2 of which were 2012 and 2013. Home field matters a great deal more in college not so much in the pros. We've seen 3 wild card SB winners in the last 8 years win 3 road games to do it.

Mailbag: Is there something in the CBA that prevented Goodell from taking a first round pick or two from the Colts? That would seem more equitable and send a much stronger msg.

September 3, 2014 at 1:56 p.m.
Stewwie said...

BL,

Agreed that the loss of draft picks would be a better/more appropriate punishment for Irsay and the Colts instead of a fine and/or suspension.

Repeating as champ is harder in today's NFL than the other sports because of the combination of a hard cap and free agency. The parity levels the field each year. As a result, dynasties are long gone from the league. And generally speaking, football teams have it harder to repeat in that it's do or die in the playoffs (unlike the other sports that have playoff series).

Brady: "When I suck, I'll retire." Then why are you still playing, bro? Lol. (Just kiddin', Spy.)

September 3, 2014 at 2:15 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

747 offered up a Rushmore of Georgia running backs that included Herschel Walker, Frank Sinkwich, Charley Trippi, and Todd Gurley. I can't argue with that solid list. I was going to attempt to shoehorn Jimmy Poulos into the conversation as the "Greek Streak" was my favorite player back when I was just a pup, but I have decided against it.

September 3, 2014 at 2:27 p.m.
Buschleague said...

Stew-

That may be the answer: Caught with weed/PED - lose 3rd rounder Caught in DUI - lose 2nd rounder Beat up your girl- lose first rounder Succumb to gayness- only team you can ever sign with-Cowboys.

September 3, 2014 at 2:48 p.m.
Stewwie said...

BL, Lol. JMC, get ready for some over-hyped Sam coverage in your paper.

September 3, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Man you guys are killing it.

We are the radio as we speak — and love the spunk.

Quickly:

Love the idea of the loss of draft picks.

Jomo, UTC gets a mulligan in SoCon play; this is the lone chance to make an at-large statement. And it's the lone chance to make a season-opening impressive in a big year for Russ. In fact, we can make an argument that this is as big a game as UTC has had in a while.

And yes, JMC, there is going to be a ton of Sam I Am coverage in the DMN tomorrow.

As for specific questions, well, hello mailbag.

War 5-at-10 readers.

September 3, 2014 at 4:01 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Lone chance to make an at-large statement? Don't forget they will rock the house in Knoxville!

September 3, 2014 at 4:16 p.m.
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