Aug 31, 2007

LSU Shuts Out Miss St 45-0

It wasn't the offensive showcase or defensive clinic that was expected, but LSU turned sloppy conditions and seven takeaways into a 45-0 rout of the Miss. St. Bulldogs.

LSU QB Matt Flynn was efficient in his first ever regular season start. The "running back by committee" approach was solid, and WR Early Doucet showed why he'll follow Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis as a first round pick next season. The LSU defense was, as expected, the strong point for the Tigers. They forced six interceptions, three from S Craig Steltz, and never let the Bulldogs get into a rhythm.

On the negative side, the offensive line struggled at times and the offense never seemed to find their own rhythm. The playbook and gameplan wasn't likely used at full force, but it still would have been nice to see more new wrinkles and more dominance from the #2 team in the country.

All in all, it was a solid performance and after a so-so first half, the Tigers laid the hammer down in the second half. It was also positive to see the backups such as QB Ryan Perriloux and RB Richard Murphy get some extended playing time in a round SEC game.

Next week, Virginia Tech will travel to Tiger Stadium in a match up of two Top 10 teams.

Aug 29, 2007

This blog needs more cowbell

Finally! It's game week for college football. The Fighting Tigers of LSU will travel to Starkvegas to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the nationally televised college football kickoff Thursday night on ESPN.

Questions will finally be answered. How will Matt Flynn look in new offensive Coordinator Gary Cowton's new scheme? Who will be the feature running back or will it be a committee approach? Who will step up to replace first round wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig "Buster" Davis? Can LSU's defense live up to the hype? Will Miss. St. show improvement in head coach Sylvestor Croom's 4th season? How will both teams react to opening the season on a Thursday night against a conference opponent?

It will be exciting to see a game that actually counts as the NFL preseason has been in full swing for a few weeks now. There are a few other interesting match-ups Thursday night and this weekend, but the main focus will be on the #2 team in the nation and how they handle opening the season on the road against a conference opponent. It should be interesting with Virgina Tech looming as next week's opponent. I doubt LSU will show a lot of their offense and will likely focus on the running game against the Bulldogs.

LSU holds an edge in the overall series against MSU with a record of 64-33-3. The Tigers last lost to MSU in 1999, bringing in an impressive seven game winning streak over the Bulldogs. This year's game should be no different with LSU tuning-up for next week's match-up against the top-10 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies.

LSU 31
MSU 16

Aug 27, 2007

Last Man Standing

For the past few months, the Saints #3 QB job was up in the air, but now it looks like the last man standing is rookie Tyler Palko. Youngsters Matt Baker and Jason Fife were in competition with Palko for a roster spot, but with Baker and Fife's recent cuts, it looks like the job is going to the southpaw QB from Pittsburgh. It also looks like Palko will get extensive playing time in the Saints final preseason game, along with #2 QB Jamie Martin. This will likely determine if the Saints go with two QBs on the active roster or three. For most of last season, they went with two with Fife on the practice squad, but they might not want to risk putting Palko on waivers. Unless someone else is cut by another team that the Saints have their eyes on, Tyler Palko will be groomed for the season and we'll see if he can move up to backup QB during next year's training camp.

In the Gulf Coast Offense poll, Palko received 82% of the votes, while Fife received 11% and Baker only got 5%. So it looks like Saints fans also wanted Palko on the roster.

Fantasy Football Draft Time!

The Gulf Coast Offense participated in its annual "Dome Patrol" League fantasy football draft over the weekend. I was given the 7th pick in a 10-team keeper league. We decided to start from scratch with keepers and added a few interesting wrinkles to the keeper system. Teams can't keep anyone from Rounds 1-3...this allows for the fantasy studs to be moved around and teams who are lucky with high picks aren't rewarded in following years. It also adds a bit of strategy to the draft, since keepers start in Round 4.

Here's how my team shapes up:

Jon Kitna (Lions) and Matt Leinart (Cardinals)

I waited a bit and took my QBs in the 7th Round (Kitna) and 8th Round (Leinart). Kitna should put up great numbers in Mike Martz' system, but interceptions are a concern with him. Leinart has great keeper potential and with him throwing the ball to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, he should have good stats himself.

Running Back: Joe Addai (Colts), Brian Westbrook (Eagles), Travis Henry (Broncos), Brandon Jackson (Packers), LaMont Jordan (Raiders), Leon Washington (Jets)

I decided to take RBs with my first three picks -- Addai (Rd. 1), Westbrook (Rd. 2) and Henry (Rd. 3). RB is the most valuable position in fantasy, so I decided to load up with the maximum allowed on the roster with 6 backs. Jackson (Rd. 9) was taken as a possible keeper for next year. He's the front-runner to be the starter in Green Bay and could have a bright future ahead of him. Jordan (Rd. 11) and Washington (Rd. 16) were taken late in the draft for their value in possible trades.

Wide Receiver: Lee Evans (Bills), Javon Walker (Broncos), Deion Branch (Seahawks), Joey Galloway (Bucs), Ronald Curry (Raiders)

There's value at WR throughout a fantasy football draft. Aft
er taking RBs with my first three picks, I then turned to WR and selected Evans (Rd. 4), Walker (Rd. 5) and Branch (Rd. 6). They are all keeper options for next year. For depth and possible trade bait, I selected Galloway (Rd. 12) and Curry (Rd. 14) to finish out the position.

Tight End: Kellen Winslow II (Browns)

For the TE position, I went with Kellen Winslow II (Rd. 10). There was a mini run on TEs in our draft and I decided to take one a little earlier than I usually do, but Winslow provided good value for the spot I selected him. His bye week is during week 7, so I'll have to pick up someone else to fill his spot that week. I typically like to only select one kicker, defense and TE at the draft and play with those backup spots during their bye weeks. This provides an opportunity to have more RBs and WRs to trade and/or pick up on waivers.

Kicker: Olindo Mare (Siants)

Mare (Rd. 13) comes to the league's #1 offense. He should have plenty of opportunities to kick FGs and PATs off the friendly Superdome turf. A good fantasy rule is to select kickers with one of your last draft picks, but I ended up with a kicker 4 rounds from the end of our draft, mainly because I thought our draft would have 14 rounds instead of the 16 we actually had. Not a big deal, and I like Mare a lot this year.

Defense/Special Teams:
Oakland Raiders

The one bright spot on the Raiders was their defense (Rd. 15). While this is not a top fantasy defense, they should be able to hold me over for a while. Either they'll put up decent numbers or another defense will be available on the waiver wire.

Aug 23, 2007

Saints vs. Chiefs

The Saints travel to historic Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs tonight. This should be one of the more exciting games of the preseason with the starters playing into the 3rd quarter. That could be bad news for some of the players on the bubble with the first round of cuts looming next week. Playing time for 3rd and 4th stringers will be limited and as we've seen already this week with the cut of QB Matt Baker and OL Jake Kuresa and Nik Sobic, you better impress the coaches when given the opportunity, or you won't be on this team.

It will be interesting to see how some of the wide receivers play tonight. It will be the second game without starters Marques Colston and Devery Henderson, so guys like David Patten, Lance Moore, Terrance Copper, Robert Meachem, etc. will have plenty of opportunities to show their stuff. Fans are hoping to see something out of Meachem, so hopefully, tonight he can showcase his skills.

Other players on the bubble for the roster or practice squad to watch for tonight include RB Pierre Thomas, WR Tramian Hall, CBs David Jones and Joe Porter, and LB Desmond Sims...all have shown signs of good things in training camp and will be among the hardest cuts.

Aug 20, 2007

Drew Brees, please stay healthy this year

The Saints first stringers looked good in last Saturday's 27-19 win over the Bengals, but one big question remains from the Jamie Martin the best the Saints can do for a backup QB?

Sure his stats weren't terrible, but he struggles to avoid rushers and had trouble holding onto the football. He did lead the team to a couple of scores and played into the 4th quarter by completing 14 of 19 passes for 139 yards.

With youngsters like Tyler Palko and Matt Baker being brought in this offseason, its becoming obvious that the Saints want to groom someone younger to be the #2 QB. Martin's contract is up after this season, and he likely won't be brought back. He appears safe to make the team this year because Coach Payton seems to have confidence in him and he holds on field goals.

However, if something unfortunate happens to Drew Brees, then I would be more comfortable having rookie Tyler Palko running the show than Martin. But are there other options that would be better? Maybe asking Drew Bledsoe to consider a comeback, trading for someone like Mark Brunell or Andrew Walter or scanning the waver wire to see if someone like Tim Hasselbeck, Tim Rattay or Tim Couch (they can only consider QBs named Tim, I guess) would be a better option.

But honestly, bringing a veteran QB in now to learn the playbook won't be a better option than Martin. For all his shortcomings, Martin has been in the system for two years, and Coach Payton sees something in practice that gives him the confidence that he's a #2 QB in this league. And as all Saints fans have learned, we have to trust Coach Payton's judgement because he hasn't made too many decisions that have backfired since he arrived in the Big Easy.

Aug 16, 2007

Saints vs. Bengals

The New Orleans Saints will take on the Cinicinnati Bengals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. This will be the Saints 3rd preseason game and will give fans a look mostly at first and second-teamers. Coach Payton said that the starters will play through the first half, with QB Drew Brees playing about a quarter. Backup QB Jamie Martin will see his most extensive playing time of the preseason and will lead the team into the 3rd quarter. Newly acquired QB Matt Baker will play with the 2nd and 3rd teamers and finish the game.

Baker is competing with Tyler Palko, who had a pretty good outing last week, and Jason Fife, who led the Saints to their only TD drive in the Hall of Fame Game. I think it's Palko's job to lose, and Baker is a good candidate for the practice squad. It will be interesting to see how much of Payton's offense he has picked up in the less than 2 weeks that he's been in camp. Baker got a try out with the Saints after Payton received phone call recommendations from Drew Bledsoe and Tony Romo. But I just can't see him beating out a guy who's been in the system for months like Palko or more than a year like Fife.

A couple of other things to watch for on Saturday:

-The only real camp battle for a starting job is between punters Steve Weatherford and Chris Hanson. I think Weatherford will keep his spot, but Hanson has punted well in his limited opportunities.

-The backup running backs have been playing well, and it will be interesting to see who gets cut from the talented group. Antonio Pittman is a lock to make the team, since the Saints traded up in the 4th round to get him. Aaron Stecker is solid and adds veteran leadership to a young special teams unit. Rookie Pierre Thomas has shown his talent both as a runner and a return man, but his likely spot will be practice squad. Lastly, Jamaal Branch showed last year what he's capable of, but so far he hasn't had much of a chance to run this preseason.

-Injured players...a few of the "cyclist team" from training camp are finally getting over their injuries. Guys like WR Jamal Jones, WR David Patten and LB Scott Fujita may play this weekend. Also, with LT Jammal Brown's injuried knee, more playing time will be given to backups Zach Scrief and Jermon Bushrod.

Aug 14, 2007

G.C.O. Top 25

The first college football coaches' poll was recently released and the AP poll will be unveiled this week. It's time for the "Gulf Coast Offense" to weigh in with our own NCAA Top 25.

Here's my preseason rankings:
  1. LSU
  2. USC
  3. Michigan
  4. West Virginia
  5. Florida
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Texas
  8. Virgina Tech
  9. Ohio State
  10. Louisville
  11. Oklahoma
  12. California
  13. Tennessee
  14. Nebraska
  15. Rutgers
  16. Georgia
  17. Auburn
  18. Penn State
  19. Hawaii
  20. Arkansas
  21. UCLA
  22. Georgia Tech
  23. Florida State
  24. South Carolina
  25. Miami (FL)

Madden Day

It's an unofficial holiday on the sports calendar....the day the new Madden video game is released. Thanks to my friend, Dup, I have my copy. I'll let you know what I think of this year's game, but so far it looks to be getting the usual positive reviews.

Aug 13, 2007

NFL Preseason: Bills vs. Saints

The Saints played their second preseason game on Friday against the Buffalo Bills. While they didn't win or score a lot of points (only 10), the first team offense looked a whole lot better than they did in the Hall of Fame Game. Drew Brees was sharp and Devery Henderson made Saints and LSU fans feel that he may finally live up to his 2nd round draft status. Reggie Bush also looks even better than last year and is poised for a big year in the NFL's #1 offense.

The defense looked OK, but there's still room for improvement. While they will be able to pressure the QB all year, the run defense is still a concern. This is even more evident when the backups come into the game. The secondary played better, and I think that has a lot to do with Roman Harper's return to the lineup. Harper is a field general out there and reduces the possibilities for blown coverage.

A few bubble players who helped themselves in this game:

-QB Tyler Palko -- he played for nearly 3 quarters and showed
that he can run the offense. He needs to reduce his mistakes and not turn the ball over.

-WR/KR Lance Moore -- despite a bone-headed play by fielding the ball at the 6-yard line and losing 4 yards, Moore has locked up the returners job.

-LBs Troy Evans/Marvin Mitchell -- both played well when given the opportunity and both can and will contribute on special teams.

-DE Josh Cooper -- while not really on the bubble, Cooper showed that there is depth behind starters Will Smith and Charles Grant. Cooper continues to play well.

-WR Robert Meachem -- also not a player on the bubble, since a team will never cut a first round draft pick, Meachem is a player who fans had soured on quickly. His nice touchdown catch should be a confidence booster for both him and the Gulf Coast Offense.

Players who likely hurt themselves:

-CB Anwar Phillips -- blown coverages and penalties are hurting the former Nitney Lion. I see no way that he makes this team.

-WR Jamal Jones -- he surprised many by making the team last year, but he won't make the team this year if he can't play. An injury has allowed others to pass him in camp.

-OT Rob Petitti -- considerable downgrade when he enters the game. Tyler Palko had pressure on him in the second half.

*photos by AP


Welcome to the "Gulf Coast Offense," a site for fans of Southern Louisiana sports teams, especially the New Orleans Saints, Fighting Tigers of LSU and New Orleans Hornets. With no professional baseball team in Louisiana, the Atlanta Braves have become my team, so I'll focus on them as well.

While these are my favorite teams and the ones I follow the most, other sports topics will be discussed, and I may venture outside of the sports world to discuss other things as well, especially television shows and movies. Look out when Lost returns next spring, this may turn into a Dharma zone.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, I hope you enjoy my ramblings.