UTC where are the Mocs?
Tom Arth has a tough challenge.
The UTC football coach is two weeks and two days from his first Division I game. He also is the first UTC coach since cable to come to the Mocs with lofty expectations.
Russ Huesman crafted a program that became a routine playoff invitee and one of the best in the Southern Conference. Arth takes over that program after a messy split between Huesman and the Mocs last December.
By all measures from the folks we've talked to, the preseason has been impressive. And productive.
If you get the chance to speak with or get to know Arth, he's an impressive dude. We believe he has big things in front of him in the coaching world. Does that mean big success this year? We believe so, even if it would be a surprise to some.
We think the Mocs have a couple of difference-makers. Bagley out of the backfield. A collection of receivers that are quite qualified. Dale Warren is a dude. The secondary likely has has a couple of names we'll be hearing about on Sundays in the years to come. Still, the challenges are there. The first two games are vs. a very talented Jacksonville State team on a neutral site and at LSU.
A bagel-and-2 start is possible and some think likely. (We think the Mocs will topple JSU, but we've sipped and liked the Arth Kool-Aid.) We think the season and a chase for another playoff spot comes down to two simple things:
First, are they ready, considering all the changes and remodeling jobs that have been put in place and reworked. The offense is going to be more diverse. The defense is going to a 3-4. Those are massive changes, and will they hit the ground running. We believe the answer is yes. Yes it can. Yes they will, and it will be fun to watch.
Second, will the O-Line be stout? We'll see on that one, of course.
We're going to offer this with the clear and pertinent caveat of yes, it's a year away and a potential long shot at best.
Well, let's all hope that it's a long shot at best. Anyhoo, here's the story, and yes it's hard to imagine this coming together.
The story from Tim Kawakami, who worked a longtime in the Bay Area and knows his NBA, that the team who is planning to make a big run at Paul George when he hits free agency after this upcoming season is Golden State. Yes, Golden Flippin' State.
George confirmed that the Pacers offered the All-Star to the Warriors in a trade for Klay Thompson. The Warriors declined. But Kawakami attests that owner Joe Lacob is committed to adding George.
If they added George, then as Chet said in Aliens, Game over man. It also leads us to this question:
When George becomes a free agent next summer, if the Warriors are in position to sign him — which would mean him taking less money and the Warriors paying a huge sum in luxury tax — should the NBA kibosh the deal?
The competitive balance of a Warriors' starting five of Curry-Thompson-Durant-George-Green would be so one-sided it would draw comparisons to the 1960s Celtics or the 1920s Yankees.
You have to admit the overreaction of the NFL preseason is pretty entertaining, right?
Let a journeyman back rush for 88 yards and a TD and it may be a comeback year. Let some rookie wide out cook some eighth-string DB on three posts, and the Jerry Rice, fantasy-impact talk begins.
It's comical. And it's predictable.
Where those early impressions can be quite meaningful, though, is at quarterback.
Does the young have the poise? Does he look the part when the craziness is happening and the gladiator ballet is playing out in front of him? Does he have a skill set to make the throws needed and the decision-making to know when those throws are needed?
Sure, it's hard to know that in an instant, and that plays into the roll of the dice that is scouting potential NFL players.
But we saw that Dak Prescott had 'it' in August last year and 'it' played out over the entirety of the season as Dallas won 13 games. I saw 'it' last night in Deshaun Watson, the first-rounder who went 6-for-8 for 52 yards and had a 15-yard TD run for Houston.
A lot of us believed that Watson was the best QB on the board; and you can't help but wonder what Chicago Bears fans thought as Watson looked great — yes, yes, it was two series in a preseason game — and how that may or may not impact what the team does with Mitchell Trubisky, who Chicago took No. 2 overall last spring.
It also got us thinking about the first two QBs taken in each draft and how that played out over time. Let's explore:
2017 draft: Trubisky No. 2 to Chicago; Watson No. 10 to Houston. Edge: Unknown.
2016 draft: Jared Goff No. 1 to L.A. Rams; Carson Wentz No. 2 to Philadelphia. Edge: Wentz. Yes, Dak Prescott in round four proved to be a fine selection
2015 draft: Jameis Winston No. 1 to Tampa Bay; Marcus Mariota No. 2 to Tennessee. Edge: Push, with maybe a slight edge to Winston since he's been able to stay healthier.
2014 draft: Blake Bortles No. 3 to Jacksonville; Johnny Manziel No. 22 to Cleveland. Edge: Bortles, but the real winners here were the Oakland Raiders, who took Derek Carr No. 36 overall.
2013 draft: E.J. Manuel No. 16 to Buffalo; Geno Smith No. 39 to New York Jets. Edge: Smith has been better but neither has been good. Mike Glennon was picked No. 73 overall in that draft.
2012 draft: Andrew Luck No. 1 to Indianapolis; RG III No. 2 to Washington. Edge: Luck in a landslide.
2011 draft: Cam Newton No. 1 to Carolina; Jake Locker No. 8 to Tennessee. Edge: Newton in a landslide.
The last two are exceptions to the rule, which is simply this: In today's college football, it is really hard to gauge which quarterbacks have transferable skills until they get the chance to dance with the best.
Sure, the presence and poise — and experience of a familiar name such as Watson, who delivered for Clemson in the biggest moments and grandest stages — can occasionally come across.
But seeing is believing, and count us among the Deshaun Watson believers. Hey, maybe we finally found something preseason football is good for.
This and that
— Speaking of QBs who could have it, count us among the throng of folks in Tennessee cheering for Josh Dobbs to shine tomorrow night. Here's Weeds' fun look at Dobbs, the former UT star who will get the start for the Pittsburgh Steelers against New York on Friday.
— Another reason to watch: And while were counting off preseason players we want to succeed and exceed all expectations, in that same game Jacob Huesman will be trying to make his name known as a fullback for the Giants. Man, we may have to get the popcorn out for Steelers-Giants on Friday night. Here's a entertaining column on Huesman's adjustment to the new position with the Giants.
— We love it when this happens. Big-name acquisition comes to town. Big-name acquisition buys jersey number from smaller-named roster member. Good times. — We're in. The Last Jedi comes out in December. It will make Disney another billion bucks. Here are some details.
— Count Aaron Rodgers among the legion of Game of Thrones fans. Here's more. (Warning spoiler alerts abound.)
— And let's talk just a brief second about the impact names and talents coming to the SEC hoops slate this upcoming season. Jontay Porter — a five-star in the 2018 class — ha reclassified and will join his brother Michael — the No. 1-ranked player in the 2017 class — at Missouri. There eight five-stars coming to SEC schools this season, and that's not counting Jontay Porter. Sixteen of the top ESPN 50 players in the last class are going to eight SEC schools. (Yes, Kentucky has like six of them, but still.)
If you were a pro athlete would you buy your favorite number from someone else on the team?
On this day in 1846, the U.S. Congress passed an act to establish the Smithsonian. Hey, Congress has done a lot of stupid stuff. The Smithsonian is cool.
Riddick Bowe is 50 today. Antonio Banderas is 57. Gino Toretta is 47 today, and we believe he would make the Rushmore of worst modern-era Heisman winners. Kylie Jenner is 20 today.
One year ago today, ESPN star John Saunders died. Also of note, the kids are back in school in Hamilton County.
Good times. Sad times.
Our youngest hits first grade this year. Sigh.
Let's go here: Since school's back, let's do a Rushmore of schools in TV/movies.
Go. Be creative, and don't forget the mailbag.