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

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

September 3rd, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

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:

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.

UTC fullback Taharin Tyson and the rest of...

Photo by Doug Strickland /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

Jacques Smith

Jacques Smith

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.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

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.



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;

Football tile

Football tile

Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Times Free Press.

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.

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.

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (38) works...

Photo by Associated Press /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.

Commissioner Roger Goodell

Commissioner Roger Goodell

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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.