Friday, December 28, 2012

Mooney continues to be Giant Slayer in Holiday Classic

Antonio Blakeney hits jumper with 3 seconds left to lift Mooney over Ft. Myers 66-64 in Holiday Classic semis. Its the third time in three nights that Cougars beat a team that was ranked in the top 10 in their classification.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mooney and Braden River advance to Suncoast semifinals

Cardinal Mooney has proved to be a heart-throbbing Giant Killer after two games of the Suncoast Holiday tournament at Sarasota Riverview High School.

The Cougars notched their second straight victory over a highly touted foe when it came from behind to defeat Tampa Sickles 54-50 in second round action Thursday to advance to the semifinals.

Braden River also earned a ticket to the round of four, but did it in convincing fashion with a 50-28 rout over South Fort Myers.

Braden River's Trevon Young and Cardinal Mooney sophomore Antonio Blakeney continued to show they are among the top players in the area, perhaps the two best.

Jared Williams plans on playing next season after sitting on 2012 because of injury

Jared Williams expects to be back.

The former standout running back from Southeast and Bradenton Prep missed the entire 2012 campaign at SMU due to a leg injury he suffered at the conclusion of the 2011 season in the Mustangs bowl game.

Williams was granted a redshirt and is ready to compete for the starting running back job in 2013. The position should be wide open with the graduation of Zac Line, the Mustangs leading rusher the past three seasons when he gained more than 1,000 yards each year with 1,325 in 2012.

As a true fresman in 2011, Williams rushed for 180 yards with a single game high 80 yards on 11 carries against Rice. He will be a sophomore eligiblity wise next season.

The best part for Williams is that he will be able to play for his family and friends. SMU is slated to join the Big East Conference in '13 and is scheduled to play USF at Raymond James Stadium in a date to be determined.


Bucs Gerald McCoy Pro Bowl selection draws some criticism

Gerald McCoy became the first Tampa Bay Bucs defensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl since 2003 when he was selected on Wednesday.
Gerald McCoy a Pro Bowler
This is the first season the defensive tackle has been healthy and will participate in all 16 games barring the unforeseen Sunday at Atlanta. The third year pro was selected third in the 2010 NFL draft, but his first two years were marred by injuries.

 This year McCoy has recorded career highs with five sacks and nine tackles for losses for the 6-9 Bucs, who are in the midst of a five game losing streak.

McCoy was the only Bucs to be named to the team. Safety Ronde Barber, receiver Vincent Jackson and rookie running back Doug Martin were named alternatives. Jackson not making the team was a bit surprising with his 19.3 yards per reception average.

McCoy’s selection did not go without criticism. Former Buc and current WDAE radio co-host Ian Beckles of the Ron and Ian Show took the defensive tackle to task on his show today and said he did not have a Pro Bowl season.

 Beckles cited the Bucs beleaguered pass defense, which ranks last in the league, noting it influences opponents to throw a lot which allows for a lot more opportunities to get sacks and tackles for losses. With that in mind, McCoy’s stats are not that impressive, he noted.





Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pro Football Talk stands by story on Bucs player deriding coaching staff

A report in that a player with the Bucs asked mockingly if the Bucs head coaches could be sent back to college has grown a set of legs.

Some of the Bucs players, including 16 year veteran Ronde Barber questioned the quote and posed the question if it is the truth. Media types scrambled all over the find the source, but came up empty furthering speculation that maybe Barber was right.

But Mike Florio of PFT stands by the story.

Here is what Florio today on the PFT website:

“On Monday we reported in the aftermath of a 41-0 blowout loss to the Saints, punctuated by a sideline brouhaha involving assistant coach Bryan Cox and linebacker Adam Hayward, that one member of the Buccaneers privately remarked after the game, “Can we send these coaches back to college?

The story prompted a fairly quick response, with the team and multiple members of the Tampa media probing for more details, none of which were provided in the interests of honoring the promise of anonymity.

Now that the Tampa media has had a chance to ask the players about it, two days after the story broke, some players predictably have provided unrealistically sweeping denials.

That’s a [expletive] made-up quote,” cornerback Ronde Barber told the Tampa Tribune. “No one said that. I can promise you that.”

I promise you that someone did, Ronde.

Who’s in a position to be more sure? The guy to whom it was told, or the guy who has no idea what his teammates have said in the hours after a frustrating shutout loss to one of their biggest rivals? That’s why we opted not to go with the same-old “we stand by our report” when asked for a response by the Tribune, choosing instead something far more pragmatic: “If Ronde is aware of every private communication in which his 52 teammates engage, that’s even more impressive than his Hall of Fame playing career.”

Our guess is that Ronde opted to react strongly due to speculation in the local media that he was the source. As his career in Tampa likely winds to a conclusion, it wouldn’t be the ideal way to make his exit.

Regardless, we won’t say who said it. But I promise you that someone did.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Fired by USF less than a week ago, Holtz has new job

It didn't take Skip Holtz long to land on his feet and keep his money to the chagrin of the University of South Florida.

Fired by USF on December 2nd, Holtz was hired as the new head football coach at Louisiana Tech today. He replaces Sonny Dykes, who resigned to take head job at California.

Skip Holtz lands on feet quickly
Holtz inherits a program that went 9-3 and led Division I-A (FBS) in scoring averaging 52 points per game. The Bulldogs were second in the nation in total offense and fourth in passing offense averaging 350.7 yards per game through the air.

In what might be a twist of fate, Louisiana Tech had problems stopping opponents ranking 120th in total defense giving up 520 yards per game and was 117th in scoring defense allowing 38.5 points per game.

A lack of defense was the biggest criticism of Holtz during his time at USF so he will get an opportunity to show he can be a defensive fixer-upper.

 Louisiana Tech is moving from the Western Athletic Conference to Conference USA, the league where Holtz coached (for East Carolina) before he was hired by USF three years ago.

Holtz was 16-21 in his three years at USF with 14 losses in his last 16 Big East Conference games finishing in the league cellar the last two years. The Bulls were 3-9 this past season, their worst record in the history of the 16 year old program.

"I am tremendously excited for the opportunity to build on what Coach Dykes started and to lead this great team forward," Holtz told "This is a football program with outstanding student athletes, a history of winning and optimism in the future. I'm honored to be part of the Bulldogs family and I'm ready to get to work."
Willie Taggart is the new head coach at USF. But according to reports, the school owes Holtz $2.5 million (spread out over 5 years at $500,000 annually). USF athletic director Doug Woulard extended Holtz's contract through 2017 after the 2011 season despite a losing season and finishing last in the Big East.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Natalie Novak to compete for USF

Lakewood Ranch senior Natalie Novak has committed to USF where she will participate in cross country and track.

Novak said her costs will be taken care of through a combination of academic and athletic scholarships. She also considered DePaul, North Florida and West Florida. Her main events in track are expected to be the 800 meter run and the mile.
“I went to an official visit to DePaul (Chicago) and it’s a great school, but USF is a perfect fit for me. It has a great coaching staff and competes in the Big East Conference,” Novak said.

Last spring she competed on Lakewood Ranch’s 4x800 meter relay team that won the Class 3A state title. This past fall she finished 26th in the Class 3A State Cross Country meet with a personal best time of 19 minutes and 15.11 seconds.

“I am excited for her and think she will do well,” Lakewood Ranch girls cross country coach Kristina Bratton said. “It’s a perfect fit because of the weather and it’s close to home. If she went out of state and ran in colder weather it would take her time to adjust. I think she will do best in the 800. She has great speed and is an aggressive runner. “





Willie Taggart no time to relax; USF moves Miami game

New USF head football coach Willie Taggart won't have much time to get accustomed to his new job, which is fine with him. He has already hit the ground running.
Willie Taggart; photo by J Meric
The school announced Wednesday that it has moved its game with Miami from November 30th to September 28th.

The Bulls are already scheduled to play at Michigan State on September 7th, which means they will be taking on some of the better teams from the ACC and the Big 10 early on.

USF will also play FAU on September. Now they didn't have a great season, but games between Florida schools usually come down to nail biters where a turnover here or there can decide it.

The Big East Conference asked USF to move its non-confernece games up towards the beginning of the season so it can get attention at the end with teams contending for the league title facing each other.

Another big challenge for Taggart and USF will be the return of UCF, which will join the Big East next season. The Bulls were 4-0 against UCF under former coach Jim Leavitt, but the two games at UCF were down to the wire and this one is in the road.

The Bulls other Big East road games are at Rutgers, Connecticutt and Houston. Their four conference home games are against Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis and SMU. USF will not play league newcomers Boise State and San Diego State.

The new Big East will have two six team divisions with the winners playing each other for the conference championship at the site of one of the teams.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Derrick Calloway to visit USF shortly after Taggart gets the job

The Willie Taggart effect is already in motion.

Less than four days after being named the University of South Florida's new head coach, Taggart is starting to attract some of the best high school recruits.

The latest is Manatee High defensive tackle Derrick Calloway, who announced several days after
Taggart's hire that he is going to take an official visit to USF.

Originally from Los Angeles, Calloway is one of the most sought after defensive linemen in the country. He is a four star rated player who has received offers from just about every major college program in the country, including Florida, USC, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri and Texas Tech.

Calloway is among other touted recruits that have showed interest in USF since Taggart took the job. Less than 24 hours after he took the USF job, Fort Lauderdale University School quarterback  Mike White (6-5, 195 lbs) verbally commited to the Bulls after leading his team to the 3A state championship.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

USF fires Skip Holtz; immediately begins search for new football coach

USF head football coach Skip Holtz was fired Sunday less than 24 hours after he had coached the Bulls to the worst season in the history of their 16 year program.

In announcing the decision, USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard said Holtz's whole body of work over the last two years was taken into consideration.

Holtz finished his third year at the helm Saturday night with a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh. The last two seasons the Bulls finished last in the Big East Conference with a 1-6 record each year. The 3-9 record turned in by this year's team is the program's worst.

The Bulls failed to qualiy for a bowl the last two seasons after going to bowls the previous six years. Holtz was 16-21 during his three years and 8-16 the last two.
"While our program remains young, having just completed our 16th season of competition, our history is rich, and the expectations of coaches, players, students, administrators and fans are high. That is why the past few months have been hard for all of us," Woolard said. "It is not easy to part ways with such a good man. I am thankful for his friendship, and for what he has done for USF Athletics.
"However, my responsibility to our students, our fan base and the university as a whole is clear. We must strive to put a more successful football program on the field. Beginning today, we will move in a new direction toward that goal."
USF will have to pay Holtz $2.5 million dollars over five years as part of the buyout from his contract, Woolard said. He also said that would not hinder the school in searching for the best possible candidate and money was not an issue.
"We will immediately begin a search for a new head coach," Woolard said. "We will move as quickly as possible, but will be as thorough as necessary to find the best fit for our football program here at USF. We will enlist the expertise of university officials, community leaders, and leaders in the world of intercollegiate athletics."
In Holtz's final game, USF was held to a program record low 117 yards and in the final 15 quarters of the season the Bulls scored one touchdown. He lost 14 of his last 16 Big East games.  
USF's offense suffered a big blow when quarterback B.J. Daniels was lost for the season on November 3d against Connecticutt. But the Bulls defense has been its biggest problem the last two seasons.

USF to fire Skip Holtz; Willie Taggart among possible replacements popular with fans

USF to announce firing of Skip Holtz at 4 pm today. List of potential candidates to replace among fans includes Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky head coach and Manatee High quarterback legend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Believe It Or Not: Florida could face Kent State in Sugar Bowl

The University of Florida is obviously disappointed about not playing in the BCS National title game.

But that might pale to what the Gators will feel if they wind up playing Kent State in the Sugar Bowl.
Did we say Kent State and Sugar Bowl in the same breath?
Yes we did and it’s a possible scenario.

Florida is a virtual locked in to play in the Sugar Bowl. Two possible attractive opponents for the Gators are Oklahoma and Kansas State.
But if things fall a certain way the Kent State Flashes could be facing the Gators.

Now raise your hands. How many football players who signed to play with Florida consider Kent State a reward for a good season.
That’s what we thought. But be prepared. This could happen thanks the Mid-American Conference’s strength this season and the lowly Big East Conference, which is evaporating right before our eyes.

If no. 18 Kent State beats No. 19 Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game and moves into the top 16 of the BCS rankings and is ranked higher than the champion of at least one automatic qualifying conference they would have to receive an at-large BCS bid.
Well the Big East doesn’t even have a ranked team. Rutgers and Louisville play Friday for the conference title and don’t expect the winner to move ahead of Kent State if it wins the MAC.

If Kent State receives a BCS bid the Big 12 runner-up does not get a BCS Bowl bid. In that case scenario the Sugar Bowl would have to chose between Kent State and the Big East champion. Now 17th ranked UCLA or Texas most likely have to lose to make this happen, but that is entirely possible.
Florida is slated to play the Big 12 runner-up if that conference gets that bid and right now that appears to be Oklahoma or could be Kansas State. But if that conference loses its runner-up spot then the Gators will play Kent State or Rutgers or Louisville, none of whom are a very appetizing opponent.

Well there is one good thing. There are a lot of watering holes on Bourbon Street in New Orleans where Gator fans can drown their sorrows.









































Monday, November 19, 2012

Bottom line for Gators: They have to beat FSU

There are three good reasons Florida's game with Florida State this Saturday is one of the most impotant in Gators' history.

The reason can be explained in three letters: BCS

While everyone on the planet seems to be taking about a Notre Dame-Alabama matchup in the BCS National title game January 7th in Miami, the Gators (4th ranked in BCS) still have a chance to be there.

Granted it will be difficult and take some good fortune. But it's possible and can happen__Only if Florida beats FSU.

If Notre Dame loses to USC this Saturday the Gators could wind up playing in the BCS title game against the winner of the SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia, assuming both of those take care of business this Saturday in their rivalry games: Alabama-Auburn and Georgia-Georgia Tech.

You may smirk at USC beating Notre Dame espeically with Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley out, but this long standing rivalry has produced many upsets through the years. And playing against a quarterback you have no film on has caused more than a few defenses to struggle.

Another worry for Florida is Oregon. If the Ducks make it into the Pac 12 title game they could jump the Gators in the BCS rankings with a win there.

But that could be difficult. Oregon has to beat Oregon State this weekend and hope UCLA beats Stanford, which would then put the Ducks in a Pac 12 must win title game.

If this is getting too complex for Gators fans just remember this: If you beat FSU anything is possible. If you lose to FSU nothing is possible.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Schiano least favorite coach! Do you really think he cares!

The Tampa Bay Bucs Greg Schiano was voted the NFL head coach you’d least like to play for in a Sports Illustrated poll of players released today.

Schiano was atop the list ahead of his good friend, Bill Belichick of New England then the New York Jets Rex Ryan. Sports Illustrated said 103 players from 27 teams partook in the poll, which asked a variety of questions.
Here is what one player said: “The thing he did at the end of the game early on in the year, the game where the Giants were killing the clock off and downing the ball, there was no reason for that—no reason at all. Everyone’s worried about injuries and safety and that’s what they are doing?”

A question that wasn’t asked, but might be a good one is “Does Schiano really care?”
All those who believe he cares about being the least popular coach raise your hands: that’s what we thought. Schiano has proven in half an NFL season that he does what he wants and too bad if you don’t like it.

A lot of players on the Bucs seem to buying into what he is selling, which is respectability and accountability. It’s led to a 4-4 first half season after last year’s disaster.




Ronde Barber switch might be Schiano's best move

Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Greg Schiano is looking like a genius these days for many reasons; try Doug Martin, a 4-4 record, Lavonte David and Mark Barron.
Ronde Barber found new life at safety 
But the most astute move the first year coach might have made is switching Ronde Barber from cornerback to safety. It has given the 16 year veteran a new life. You might argue he is beating Father Time, which is undefeated against all of us.

After eight games, Barber has 10 defensive stops on third down, which is the most of any player in the NFL at any position.  Last week in the Bucs 42-32 victory at Oakland Barber was targeted four times on passes. He broke up two and allowed just 19 yards.

Barber is tied for third in the league among safeties with three interceptions and with four passes defended.  He is fourth on the Bucs and second among defensive backs (to  Barron) in tackles with 38.




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bucs ship Talib out of town; now a Belichick headache

Troubled Tampa Bay Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib will no longer be Greg Schiano’s headache. Instead that chore now belongs to Schiano’s good friend New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

The Bucs announced today that Talib and a seventh round draft pick were traded to New England for a fourth round pick in next year's draft.

Talib was serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy for taking Adderall, a banned substance the league cites as a performing enhancing drug. His suspension was scheduled to end after the Bucs game at Oakland Sunday.

Talib is in the final year of a five year rookie contract and is expected to help a Patriots secondary that has been shaky and is ranked 28th in the NFL allowing 281.1 yards per game passing.

Tampa Bay ranks 31st in pass defense giving up 309 yards per game.

In four games this season Talib has one interception, seven passes defended and 21 tackles. He has been inconsistent in pass coverage and was burned early this year when he covered the New York Giants Hakeem Nicks in a game Eli Manning threw for 500 plus yards.

Talib was suspended in 2009 for allegedly assaulting a cab driver. He was accused of assault with a deadly weapon in Texas, but the charges were ultimately dropped.

The Bucs could also lose another cornerback, Eric Wright, to a suspension. He reportedly failed a drug test that involved the use of Adderall. It is unclear whether he will appeal that charge or if the league takes action on him next week.

Shipping out Talib falls into line with the philosophy of Bucs rookie head coach Schiano, who said he wanted to men of character and would not tolerate anything less.





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Devastating news for Bucs: Carl Nicks out for season

The Tampa Bay Bucs, who were just starting to be talked about in serious conversation about a possible playoff run, released some devistating news today when they announced All-Pro Guard Carl Nicks would be lost for the season.

Bucs All Pro Carl Nicks out for season
The free agent acquistion from New Orleans will require surgery to repair a torn plantar plate in his left toe. He started all seven games with the Buccaneers since joning the team and had recorded 68 consecutive starts.

It's a particularly tough blow for Tampa because the Bucs had already lost , their other highly touted guard, before the season to an injury.
With Nicks anchoring the offensive line, the Bucs have allowed the fifth fewest sacks in the NFL and were ranked ninth in the league in points per game. Their run game with rookie Doug Martin has been particularly effective when running from the left side behind Nicks and Donald Penn.
In the last three weeks, the Bucs led the NFL in points, total yards, passing yard and yards per play and ranked third in rushing yards.
The Bucs also placed TE Danny Noble on Injured Reserve and announced it has elevated guard Roger Allen to the active roster from its practice squad.
 Noble (hamstring), a rookie from Toledo, has played in four games and been inactive for three others this season.
Allen (6-3, 325) is in his third season from Missouri Western State after entering the league with St. Louis in 2009. After earning a 53-man roster spot out of training camp, he went on to play in two games that season, including one start.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bucs look like an offensive juggernaut behind Doug Martin

The Tampa Bay Bucs 36-17 victory over Minnesota brought head coach Greg Schiano a lot of equity with his players that could jettison the team beyond pre-season expectations.

Doug Martin has career game vs Vikings
It also added credibility to the coach for wanting to move up in this year’s draft and select Doug Martinin the first round. There were a lot questions surrounding that decision and the Boise State product had not done a lot to quell the critics.

But he answered with a resounding thud Thursday night with his performance, gaining 214 yards from scrimmage (135 rushing/79 receiving), which is the fifth highest single game mark in Bucs history. It came on the heels of Vincent Jackson getting 216 total yards against New Orleans.

The fact that Martin and Jackson did this in consecutive games has to make Schiano and maligned GM Mark Domink feel good for bringing in these guys during the off season.

Could this be an offensive juggernaut in the making?

 Martin now ranks sixth all time among Bucs rookie running backs with 543 for the season and figures to move up the list. One of his targets is the man he replaced, LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 1,007 yards in 2010 as a rookie. At the top of the list is “Cadillac” Williams who ran for 1,178 yards in his 2005 rookie year.

Offensive records might be falling quick for the Bucs, who have found a new life in recent weeks. Josh Freeman is now fifth all time in team history with 10,698 yards passing and is sure to pass Brad Johnson soon.

How about this: in the last three games, the Bucs have 416 yards total offense against Minnesota, 463 vs Kansas City and 513 against New Orleans.  



Player Opponent-Date Total Yards from Scrimmage

1. RB James Wilder at MIN-11/6/83 239

2. RB Warrick Dunn vs. DAL-12/3/00 221

3. WR Vincent Jackson vs. NO-10/21/12 216

3. RB James Wilder vs. GB-9/30/84 216

5. RB Doug Martin at MIN-10/25/12 214

6. WR Mark Carrier at NO-12/6/87 212

7. RB James Wilder vs. DET-11/23/86 201

8. WR Antonio Bryant at CAR-12/8/08 200


Rank Player Year Yards

1. RB Carnell Williams 2005 1,178*

2. RB Errict Rhett 1994 1,011*

3. RB LeGarrette Blount 2010 1,007*

4. RB Warrick Dunn 1997 978*

5. RB Jerry Eckwood 1979 690

6. RB Doug Martin 2012 543*

7. RB Reggie Cobb 1990 480

8. RB Lars Tate 1988 467*

9. FB William Howard 1988 452

10. RB Ricky Bell 1977 436*

*-Led the team


Rank Player TDs

1. Vinny Testaverde, 1987-92 77

2. Doug Williams, 1978-82 73

3. Trent Dilfer, 1994-99 70

4. Josh Freeman, 2009-12 65

5. Brad Johnson, 2001-04 64


(Team History)

Rank Player Yards

1. Vinny Testaverde, 1987-92 14,820

2. Trent Dilfer, 1994-99 12,969

3. Doug Williams, 1978-82 12,648

4. Brad Johnson, 2001-04 10,940

5. Josh Freeman, 2009-12 10,698

6. Steve DeBerg, 1984-93 9,439

7. Craig Erickson, 1992-94 6,094

8. Jeff Garcia, 2007-08 5,152

9. Brian Griese, 2004-08 4,841

10. Shaun King, 1999-2003 4,064  











Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bucs-Saints game will be televised locally; should we thank Brees

Did Drew Brees make it happen?
The Tampa Bay Bucs might get riveted Sunday when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints come to town, but don’t blame local fans for breaking out the welcome mat for the man who recently broke John Unitas record for throwing a  touchdown  pass in 48 consecutive regular season games.

Brees (and it is him, let’s not tip-toe around that) creates so much excitement that enthusiasm to see him in person enabled the Bucs, more than anything else, to sell enough tickets that it won’t have to blackout the game.

This is the first time since last December 17 when they faced the Dallas Cowboys that the Bucs sold enough tickets to avoid a blackout. The only other home game televised last year was against the Indianapolis Colts.

 The Bucs sold the needed 85 percent of general admission tickets that allowed the NFL to lift its mandated blackout. The game will be televised on Fox TV at 1 p.m. Former Bucs great John Lynch and Dick Stockton will do the commentary.

 The Bucs have failed to sell enough tickets to avoid blackouts in 16 of their last 18 games. But fans in Bradenton and Sarasota who know where to go have been able to watch the games, which are televised in certain bars, taverns and eateries in Manatee and Sarasota County.




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fans be flexible for Florida-South Carolina game

If you are planning on attending the Florida-South Carolina game at the Swamp on October 20th be flexible and ready to move quickly.

It looks as if CBS, which has first rights to the game, is going to use its six-day option and wait until Monday to announce the start time.

The network has the rights to an SEC game at 3:30 pm and is considering UF-USC along with Alabama at Tennessee or LSU at Texas A&M.

Local interest is ratcheting up with the possibility some former Manatee County standouts might be going against each other; perhaps South Carolina punt return guru Ace Sanders from Manatee High and Southeast grad Brian Poole, who as a true freshman has seen time on special teams for Florida.

If CBS chooses the UF-USC game it will kickoff at 3:30. If it picks another one, ESPN has the next two SEC games that it can televise at noon or in its 7 pm – 7:45 pm slot

The guess is CBS will chose UF-USC if they both win. If one looses and they pick another game, ESPN will likely put UF-USC in its nighttime slot.

The game could have national championship implications, particularly if both undefeated teams win this Saturday; that task would seem a lot easier for Florida, which is at Vanderbilt. South Carolina has to travel to LSU and face a Tigers squad that is fuming over its loss to the Gators last week.




Monday, October 8, 2012

Ace Sanders electrifies a nation with dazzling punt return

Ace Sanders had arguably the best highlight reel in last Saturday's full college football slate in providing a key spark that helped ignite South Carolina to its biggest victory of the season.

Check out Sanders electrifying punt return
For his scintillating 70-yard punt return for a touchdown that played a huge role in South Carolina’s 35-7 triumph over previously undefeated Georgia, Sanders was named the co-SEC Special Teams Player of The week.
It was the second career touchdown for the 5-8. 175 pound Manatee High product, who is ranked first in the SEC and 15th nationally averaging 15.47 yards per return. The junior is third in the nation in total punt return yardage with 263 yards (min 1.2 returns per game).

“I didn’t field it cleanly and dropped it and had to scramble to pick it up. I saw the lane open up and tried to hit it as fast as I could,” Sanders said in his post game press conference. “I think I probably provide a pretty big spark (on punt returns) because I can see when I am about to go out there (to field a punt) the whole team is behind me and just tell me to put it in the endzone ‘we know you can do it.’
“I do my best and when I actually do it I see how the stadium erupts and the players respond and they just come out and start playing and that’s when I know special teams is pretty big part of the team.”

It was the second punt return for a touchdown in Sander’s career and his fourth TD this season with his three others coming on pass receptions. Last season he returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown against East Carolina and has nine career TDs.

The victory propelled South Carolina to third in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls marking its highest ranking since 1984 when the Gamecocks were second with a 9-0 record.

But South Carolina has two big back to back challenges coming up. The Gamecocks face AP No. 9 LSU Saturday and then travel to Florida to play the fourth ranked Gators.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Ready to go

#bhfootball manatee will receive Canes side of stands packed lot of southeast fans also

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Taggart defends Dowling, questions rule. Williams says hit unavoidable

Western Kentucky head football coach Willie Taggart said safety Jon Dowling did not intend to hurt anyone on the helmet to helmet hit he made in last week's game against Southern Mississippi receiver Tyre Bracken.
Taggart questions rule
Dowling was ejected after the play and according to Sun Belt Conference rules, an injected player must sit out the next game. The league rejected an appeal WKU made on behalf of the former Southeast High standout.

“It is a new rule the league is implementing and Jon fell victim to it. He did not try to do anything maliciously,” said Taggart, the former Manatee High quarterback great. “Jon did not try to go helmet to helmet and there is no way to stop guys who are trying to do their best and playing hard. The league needs to look at this rule because there are a lot of kids who play hard and are not trying to hurt anyone. You can’t expect them to change overnight.

“Unfortunately the ruling is in. I didn’t expect it to be overturned on the appeal. We’ve just got to learn from it and move on.”
It means the Hilltoppers will face Sun Belt Conference defending champion Arkansas State without their best defensive back.  Dowling is tied for the national lead in FBS with two others for the most interceptions.

It also means he will be back with the scout team this week after playing all of last season with the scout when he was forced to sit out after transferring from Florida.

Tyrone Williams, a former Green Bay Packer defensive back who played for Manatee, said the head to head collision was basically unavoidable because Bracken is 5-8 and Dowling is 6-3.
“Dowling is tall and the receiver is short and the defender goes down to make a hit and this is going to happen. You could tell he did not mean to do it,” Williams said

Taggart said he was not surprised that former Manatee High standout Leon Allen turned his best game last week. The true freshman running back ran for a career high 132 yards in the Hilltoppers 42-17 victory over Southern Mississippi.

“Leon showed in training camp what he could do and last week against Kentucky we didn’t play him enough,” Taggart said. “He is a very strong, powerful runner and keeps his feet moving. He has been everything we thought he would be and is very fundamentally sound.”

Ben Axon, another former Manatee High standout, had his best collegiate game at the Division I level with 31 yards on six carries.

Axon did not play football last year and joined the WKU football team late this summer. Taggart said he is still working out the kinks and trying to get back into football shape.

“Ben has been helping us quite a bit on special teams and was able to get some carries. The more he plays, the better he will become,” Taggart said. “He understands we are not giving anybody anything. We have guys who have been here long before Ben was here. He is working work and has been on the kickoff and punt return teams.”



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Parcells takes Schiano side on kneel-down hit

Former Giants coach take Schiano's side
Kneel-Gate, Schiano-Gate; whatever you want to call it seems to have eternal life and just won’t go away.
The decision by Tampa Bay Bucs coach Greg Schiano to go for the ball when Giants quarterback Eli Manning took a knee with his team leading 41-34 and five seconds left last Sunday has created a sea of controversy.

Schiano probably wants it to die, but then again he is picking up some nice support. 
The latest to take his side his legendary coach Bill Parcells, one of the most respected people in the business, who led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles.

Parcells took Schiano’s side on Sirius radios saying Giants head coach Tom Coughlin should’ve called the Bucs head coach during the week and talked about the play instead of berating him in front of a stadium full of fans and a large television audience.
Also giving the Bucs coach a boost is Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who face the Bucs Sunday. The outspoken Jones says the kneel-down ought to be outlawed and a penalty thrown at the team that tries to do it.

“Lamar Hunt tried several times to introduce a rule to have it voted on that you couldn’t knee down, you had to run a play,” Jones told the Dallas Morning News. “Unless you were going to try to advance the ball, then you got a penalty and the time didn’t run off the clock. It’s not a good play.”

Taggart says have patience with Ben Axon and Leon Allen

Ben Axon working his way back
Manatee County football fans are happy Western Kentucky under Canes legend Willie Taggart pulled off the upset over Kentucky last week. But they surely want to know what’s going on with former Manatee High running backs Leon Allen and Ben Axon.

The horse for the Hilltoppers in the Kentucky game was Antonio Andrews. He got most of the running load against Kentucky with 34 carries for 128 yards while Allen had six carries for 20 yards.

Taggart says to be patient, particularly in the case of Axon, who joined the team during the summer and did not play last season.

“Ben has to work his way up, but he is doing a great job on special teams,” Taggart said. “I think it’s a little bit everything with him. He hasn’t played for a while, he has to get in football shape and he has to learn a new system. He has also never played at this level before.

“That was too many carries for Andrews, but it was one of those games where he was feeling it and we kept giving it to him. He was in a zone. Allen probably should’ve had more carries.”  

Taggart also lauded the play of linebacker Terran Williams (Southeast High) and Braden River High product Willie McNeal, who caught a touchdown pass.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

USF tries to end Thursday night horrors tonight against Rutgers

USF has never won a Thursday night game since its program was launched in 1997.
The Thursday night winless streak began in 2007 against tonight's opponent Rutgers so it seems it would be only fitting if the Bulls could end it agianst the Scarlet Knights.
USF is 0-8 on Thursday nights.
That '07 loss was the most devistating. USF was undefeated and ranked second in the country when they went up to New Jersey that night and lost 30-27 in an ESPN nationally televised game.
So there would be a lot of reasons to celebreate a victory by the Bulls in tonight's Big East Confrence opener for both teams.
Oct. 18h Rutgers 27-30
Oct. 2nd Pittsburgh 21-26
Oct 30th Cincinnati 10-24
Oct 15th Cincinnati 17-34
Nov. 12th Rutgers 0-31
Oct. 14th W. Va. 6-20
Sept. 29th Pittsburgh 17-44
Dec. 1st W. Va. 27-30



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie shows his style

For Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie maybe it’s all in the attire.

The Philadelphia Eagles defensive back had a great game Sunday, but it’s hard to determine if he made a bigger splash before the game.
As shown in a photo captured by the EaglesInsider the Lakewood Ranch product came to the game dressed in a pink suit with pink eyeglass rims.


Maybe that’s all he needed.
The cornerback got two picks off Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, had four pass deflections and recorded a tackle. He has already doubled his interception total from last year, which was (you guessed it) zero.

DRC also had a career low 28 tackles for Philadelphia last year perhaps because the Eagles had him covering the slot. Now he is on the outside where he can use his size and speed.  In his three seasons at Arizona before joining the Eagles last year, DRC had 13 interceptions and 136 tackles with eight sacks.

DRC had quite a pre-season. First he was fined for an illegal hit that had many raving about his new toughness and then he injured his shoulder against New England.

On both picks, DRC used his 6-2 size, speed and jumping ability to snag the passes. But you gotta believe that pre-game attire got him going.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taggart deserves a pass: What would Joe have said??

Our beloved Willie Taggart has found himself in a little hot water, but does he really deserve it?
His Western Kentucky football team is playing Kentucky Saturday and Taggart got upset because he saw so many students on his campus wearing Kentucky apparel.

Taggart tweeted, “They probably couldn’t get into UK.”

The former Manatee High great later apologized and said he was just miffed because WKU students who wear UK apparel are not showing allegiance to his school.

Feeling here is Taggart deserves a pass. He runs a clean program and has given a lot of kids who were headed for trouble a chance.

But here is a better question:

What would Joe Kinnan say if he saw a bunch of students wearing Southeast apparel during game week against the Seminoles?

Could we safely assume whatever he said would make Taggart’s comments seem rather mundane?


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mistral Raymond's status as starter for Vikings might still undecided

With the season opener less than three days away, it’s still unclear whether Mistral Raymond will be the starting safety for the Minnesota Vikings.

The USF/Palmetto product seemed to have the job locked up, but unexpectedly experienced back problems that forced him to miss the Vikings last two pre-season games.

Mistral Raymond breaks up pass against Packers
Raymond had been battling Jamarca Stanford for the position. Stanford started 15 games of last year, but Raymond reportedly out-performed him during the off season. The other safety position figures to go to rookie first round draft choice Harrison Smith from Notre Dame.

“I didn’t know what was going on. It’s a weird deal. It just came out of nowhere. It came and then went back to normal like I never experienced before,” Raymond said about his injury.

It’s been reported that the Vikings coaching staff wants Raymond in the starting lineup this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But back injuries (mostly spasms in his case) have a way of lingering and resurfacing without notice and the staff is being very careful.

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has taken a diplomatic view of the situation saying there is a chance Raymond will start but not clarifying things beyond that.

Raymond returned to practice this week but says he hasn’t been told anything about who the starter will be Sunday. He stressed it won’t change his work habits.

“We want to see Mistral go through some things, with all the time that he missed toward the end,” Frazier told the media on Wednesday. “Let us take a look at some things the next couple of days and we’ll make a decision as the week goes on. But we have confidence in the both of them, and we’ll make the right decision.”






Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Taggart says Ben Axon ready to go against top ranked 'Bama

Coach Taggart says Axon ready to go
Nothing has ever come easy for Ben Axon
The talented running back from Manatee High missed Western Kentucky's season opener because of a concussion, said Hilltoppers head coach Willie Taggart.

Taggart, another Manatee great, said Axon has been cleared to play this Saturday. That would normally be good news, but WKU is at Alabama, the defending national champions and current number one rated team in the country.

It's not that Axon is afraid of any competition. But it would've been nice if he had a tune-up game. Last week the Hilltoppers steamed rolled Austin Peay in their 2012 opener.

By the way, Albama has been listed as a 40-point favorite by most entities that delve in the business of college football prognosticating.

Axon will likely share he running load with another Manatee graduate, freshman Leon Allen, who made his college debut against Austin Peay with a team leading 93 yards rushing on 13 carries. It was a great game for a true freshman, but everyone knows running against Austin Peay is not the same as toting the ball against 'Bama.

WKU is Axon's fourth college since he walked through the gradution line at Manatee in 2009. He has overcome a lot of obstacles and says he is ready to go.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Muschamp makes it official: Jeff Driskel Florida's starter at QB

Will Muschamp made official what most of us already knew.

The Florida head football coach said Jeff Driskel would be the Gators starting quarterback at his Monday press conference.

It wasn’t a surprise to anyone who watched Florida’s 27-14 Victory over Bowling Green last Saturday.

After Driskel and Jacoby Brissett split most of the first half, Driskel played the entire second half.

Driskel took 20 snaps in the first half and Brissett was under center for 11 snaps.

In playing Driskel the entire second half, Muschamp said he needed a more mobile quarterback in the lineup .

Well if he feels that way against Bowling Green you can imagine what he fears when the Gators start their SEC schedule, which happens to be this weekend at Texas A&M.

Driskel didn’t overwhelm anyone against Bowling Green and the two quarterbacks threw only 21 combined passes.

 “I just feel that Jeff with his legs gives us some different variables in our offense that can help us as we move forward,” Muschamp said. “It’ll be Jeff’s game to play. I told Jeff, I don’t want you looking over your shoulder, but you need to play well.

 "I have confidence in both guys. (We) can win with both guys. I just felt like at this time it's good to move forward with naming one guy and go with it."

As expected, Brissett was not happy with the decision and Muschamp said he respected those feelings.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again, we can win with both guys,” Muschamp said. “He (Brissett) is one snap away. Jacoby needs to continue what he is doing.”



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Leon Allen and Jon Dowling make sparkling debut for WKU

Willie Taggart likes what he sees
Playing in his first collegiate game, former Manatee High standout  Leon Allen ran for a team high 93 yards on 13 carries to spark Western Kentucky to a 49-10 victory over Austin Peay on Saturday.

Allen was one of a multitude of Manatee County players who stood out for the Hilltoppers and their head coach Willie Taggart, another former Manatee High star.

Southeast product Jon Dowling lived up to his hype which had Taggart calling him an All-American talent with an interception. The safety was second on the team with seven tackles (4 unassisted) and had one kickoff return for 20 yards.

Another Southeast grad,  Boe Brand, caught three passes for 55 yards, including a 13 yard touchdown reception. Braden River grad Willie McNeal caught a 21 yard scoring strike and had two catches for 23 yards.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Schiano: Davin Joseph out for season

Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Greg Schiano has confirmed that guard Davin Joseph will have surgery for a torn patella tendon and miss the entire season.

Joseph was injured in the second quarter of the Bucs game against New England on a play when Donald Penn drove Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones into the back of Joseph’s knee.

"It's [a] big [loss], but that's part of what we do, right?" said Schiano. "You mourn, and you move on. That’s what you do. That's what we have to do, and Davin wants us to do that. He's going to be in surgery and then on his road to recovery, and we've got to fix our sights on how we're going to move forward."

This is a tremondous blow to the Bucs, particularly their desire to establish a solid run game. They signed free agent Carl Nicks during the off season in the hopes he and Joseph would give them the best guard tandem in the league.

"We're going to try to work a couple things," said Schiano. "Obviously, Larsen has worked there, and we have other options that we can look at, which we will. We're trying to get the best five on the field. I think we have the answer internally, and that's why we've been trying to build depth at all positions. But we always look outside; that's a constant. If there's somebody we think fits our mold, then we'll try to do what we can to get him."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Are Mike Jenkins and Dallas owner Jerry Jones at odds over his injury?

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has sent out mixed messages about whether Mike Jenkins would play in the team’s season opener against the Giants.
Mike Jenkins says he will play when healhy
Jenkins has made it clear he won’t play unless he is one-hundred percent healthy; And by his calendar that doesn’t figure to have him ready for the Giants game.

The controversial owner told KRLD-FM in Dallas that he didn’t expect Jenkins to play and then contradicted himself by saying it would be an interesting scenario if the cornerback out of USF/Southeast High is cleared by his surgeon.

Jenkins played a good part of last season with the damaged shoulder and still performed admirably though he was in and out of games because of the injury. He was lauded by Dallas head coach Jason Garrett for his courage.
“He’s going to have his shoulder evaluated by his surgeon and it may be a little late in the pre-season for him,” Jones said. “I don’t think so (he will play). But that would be real interesting if we had an evaluation on him by this weekend. I’d like to have that problem to mull over.”

Jenkins doesn’t expect that to happen. He cannot practice until he is cleared by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. He is scheduled to meet him on September 2nd two days before the Cowboys-Giants game.

Jenkins told Wednesday that he is not going to rush things and will not play unless he is 100 percent healthy.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Jenkins said. “When I saw the doctor, he said four weeks (from the August 5th surgery). So I’ve got to go back to the doctor and see what he says. But I’ll be 100 percent when I get back.”
There were reports that Jenkins is unhappy anyway because he figured to lose this starting job after the Cowboys acquired cornerback Brandon Carr and drafted LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with their first pick in this year’s NFL draft. He denies that.

“Like I’ve said, no quotes ever came out of my mouth about being unhappy. There’s no frustration. That’s just people talking and assumptions,” Jenkins said. “I’m hurt and trying to get healthy. My time will come. I know I’m good enough to be on anyone’s team. The only thing I’m frustrated with is getting my shoulder right and going through this rehab.”
Garrett seemed to side with Jenkins on this one, particularly about him being ready.

“He needs to be able to practice football before he plays in Game One,” Garrett said Thursday. “We don’t have these hard and fast rules, if he doesn’t practice by this minute of this day, he can’t play in the game. That is not the way we do it. (But) we value practice. We value getting our guys ready to play. So, we understand the challenge he has coming back, having missed all the offseason and all of training camp, and we will treat his circumstance very individual and very specifically. But we believe in practice.”