Aug 29, 2008

LSU Opens the Season vs. Appalachian State


With Hurricane Gustav looming, LSU was forced to move up its season opener with Appalachian State to 10 a.m. Tiger Stadium will most certainly have a different feel that early in the morning, and it will likely be mostly empty with fans sitting this one out to make storm preparations.

LSU will likely play three QBs tomorrow (none which have started a NCAA game before), but should be able to take care of Appalachian State. LSU is too deep for the Mountaineers and by the 4th quarter, this should become apparent. A few years ago, they made it a game going into the 4th, but LSU is just a better team now.

Appalachain State 7 LSU 34

Saints Make First Cuts

The Saints have announced their first roster moves to get to the 53-man roster. Gone are S Lance Schulters, tight end Ronnie Ghent, defensive end Jeremy Geathers, defensive end Marcus Pittman, safety David Roach, guard Isaiah Ross and offensive tackle Brian Stamper. Rookie WR Adrian Arrington was played on IR.

Putting Arrington on IR was a good move. It guarantees he'll be back with the Saints next year, and he rests the 2008 season. The team still has some moves to make before tomorrow's deadline.

Saints Finish Preseason with 13-10 loss to Miami

The dress rehearsals are over and it's time to start looking toward Tampa Bay, the Saints Week 1 opponent. Last night, the Saints ended their preseason with a 13-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Saints were sloppy and only gained 99 total yards for the game, but considering that mostly 2nd and 3rd teamers and future free agents played, fans can't be too worried.

The main goal of the 4th preseason game is to solidify the roster and come away with no injuries. Here's a look at who helped themselves and who hurt their chances to make this team:

Made an impression:
Deuce McAllister - Deuce wasn't really in danger of being cut, but he finally showed flashes of his old self. He carried the ball 11 times for 30 yards and had trouble putting it in the end zone on his goal line carried, but overall, the coaching staff has to be pleased with his play.

Jason David - After the Texans game, David's time in New Orleans seemed to be drawing to an end, but last night he made plays all over the field. He showed that he can be a solid contribute on special teams (something that backup DBs need to be able to do) and he was even cheered by the SuperDome crowd after his interception of Chad Henne.

Martin Gramatica - I've been saying all along that Gramatica was the Saints most consistent kicker and he didn't disappoint last night. He remains perfect on his kicks since arriving in New Orleans last year.

Jo-Lonn Dunbar/William Kershaw - Both of the young linebackers saw plently of action and showed why they'll be tough to part with on Aug. 30. It will be hard for them to make the 53-man roster, but both have a shot at making the practice squad.

Hurt their chances:
Devery Henderson - Devery's still likely to make the team, but its still much of the same for him. His first half drop cost the Saints a first down and on his next catch, he bobbled the ball before securing it. Devery has all the speed you look for in a deep threat, but until he consistently holds onto the ball, he can't be counted on.

Tyler Palko - After almost two years in Coach Payton's system, Palko is not showing the improvement that you'd like to see from a young quarterback. He finished the game 4/14 for 36 yards and was under constant pressure. With young QBs like John Beck and Chris Simms likely to be available, the Saints may want to cut ties with Palko.

Backup Offensive Line - One of the reasons Palko struggled was the play of the offensive line. The Dolphins got constant pressure on the QB and the offense couldn't get into rhythm. The offensive line made former Saint Rob Ninkovich look like Jason Taylor.

Taylor Mehlhaff - Mehlhaff became the first Saints kicker to miss a field goal this preseason when he pushed a 40-yarder to the left. His kickoffs were a little better, but he still had one that only went to the 10-yard line. He does get good hang time on his kicks, allowing the coverage team to get downfield. If the Saints go with two QBs on the 53-man roster, then Mehlhaff still has a shot to make the team as the kickoff specialist.

Aug 28, 2008

Preseason Game 4: Saints vs. Dolphins

The Saints will end their preseason tonight against the Miami Dolphins. A few of the big name players will sit out, but there's still roster spots to secure, so we'll see a lot from the team's 2nd and 3rd stringers. Oh yeah, some guy named Shockey will debut and play about a quarter as well.

Here are some things to watch for:

1. How will Jeremy Shockey look in his one quarter of action?
There was a little bit of disappointment last week when Shockey was held out of the Bengals game, but he is scheduled to play tonight. He'll go about a quarter with Mark Brunell leading the offense. It would be nice to see him catch a few balls and play to the SuperDome crowd.

2. Will the real Saints defense please stand up?
The Saints defense was terrible against Houston and steller against Cincinnati. So which is the real Saints? They are probably somewhere in the middle, but there are a lot of guys fighting for roster spots (Jason David, Jason Craft, Aaron Glen, Orien Harris, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, etc.) who will give 110 percent tonight.

3. Can Tyler Palko secure his spot on the roster?
Palko bounced from the active roster to the practice squad and back last year. Will he show the team in his about 3 quarters of work tonight that he deserves to stay on the 53-man roster permanently or will he show that with every good throw he makes, a fumbled snap is around the corner?

4. Will one of these kickers outshine the other?
Coach Payton is going to have a tough decision to make this weekend if neither Martin Gramatica or Taylor Mehlhaff can outperform each other. Both have been consistent in the preseason, with a slight edge maybe going to Gramatica. Mehlhaff has been good too, but his kickoffs aren't as advertised.

5. What will Hurricane Gustav do?
This doesn't have much to do with the game, but it's weird that 3 years ago, the Saints were playing a preseason game at Oakland around the same time that Hurricane Katrina was coming in. With tomorrow being the 3 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana wants nothing to do with Gustav.

LSU "Beefs Up" 2009 Schedule

LSU announced that the 2009 schedule has been finalized with three state schools rounding out the home, non-conference schedule. LSU will play Tulane, ULL and LA Tech at home, in addition to opening the season at Washington in non-conference play. What a slate of powerhouse BCS opponents!

Richard Condon, a local sports radio host, focused much of his show yesterday to the 2008 and 2009 schedules and I agree with a lot he said. I am a season ticket holder and want to see LSU play top opponents in non-conference. The Tigers can't control their SEC schedule, but they decide who else they'll play and where.

I understand that its difficult to play top teams every year, and I'm not saying they need to schedule Oklahoma, Ohio State and USC as their three non-conference games. The Tigers have a 10 year contract with Tulane and also try to play the other in-state schools on a rotating basis. That's two games out of the way right there. For the thrid game, I don't mind playing a lower level team from Conference USA (Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss) or the Sunbelt (Arkansas State, North Texas) once in a while. Every team schedules cupcakes. But please give us one marquee non-conference game.

We don't have to play the top team in the Big East, but why can't we play Pittsburgh or UConn? Why don't we look to teams like NC State, North Carolina or Virginia from the ACC? We used to play Texas A&M every year, and Texas schools have been hesitant to play us, but what about Oklahoma State or Kansas State? These aren't the #1 programs in their conferences, but they are bowl teams from BCS conferences and having them on the schedule looks a lot better than Troy and North Texas.

To LSU's credit, they have tried to schedule big oppenents in the past. Since I've been a student and now season ticket holder, LSU has played Notre Dame, Arizona State, Arizona, Virginia Tech, Fresno State, Oregon State and Miami (OH).

One LSU has run into is that when they schedule a team they are good, but since schedules are made so far in advance, by the time the game's played, the team stinks (See Arizona and Fresno State). I have no problem with this. I'm not saying the oppenent has to be great, but at least people have heard of Fresno State.

The other big problem LSU has had is that team's either don't want to come here (Texas Tech), want home games in return or have us on the schedule and force us to move or drop the game (Colorado, Virginia Tech, Arizona State). LSU is the only two-time BCS Champion. Why do we take direction from these schools who haven't sniffed a BCS Championsip game in years?

With ticket prices going up every few year (through the Tradition Fund) and the overall costs to attend games with gas and food prices thrown in, LSU fans want to see good games in Tiger Stadium. When a game's 28-3 at halftime, fans don't feel like they've gotten their money's worth. ESPN isn't going to televise LSU vs. North Texas, but they might televise LSU vs. Iowa State.

But why should fans really complain? These cupcake schedules have produced two BCS National Championships. Disregard the previous statements. Keep bringing in Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee and Idaho!

Aug 27, 2008

Poll: LT Top Fantasy Pick

In our Fantasy Football poll, Ladainian Tomlinson gets the the nod over fellow RB Adrian Peterson as the #1 pick by the narrow margin of one vote. I can understand the excitement over Peterson after his great rookie year but I had the #1 pick in a fantasy football draft a few weeks ago and went with the consistency of LT. Peterson's injury history and only one year of pro football were the main factors of me going away from him. (But I did grab his backup Chester Taylor later in the draft). Brady put up great numbers last year, but you never pick a QB #1. Addai & Westbrook will have a nice years too, but not better than LT.

Here are the poll results:

Who should be the #1 pick in fantasy football drafts?

Joseph Addai
1 (9%)
Tom Brady
1 (9%)
Adrian Peterson
4 (36%)
Ladainian Tomlinson
5 (45%)
Brian Westbrook
0 (0%)
0 (0%)

Aug 25, 2008

Congrats to Team USA

From the "Redeem Team" to Michael Phelps and from women's basketball and gymnastics to soccer and volleyball, the 2008 Summer Olympics were a huge success for the United States. Sure there were some tough loses (Lolo Jones, softball, team gymnastics, Dara Torres), but overall the Olympics were great television. Beijing did a great job as host city, and NBC had some excellent events to broadcast.

Congratulations to all the athletes in this year's games and good luck in four years in London. We'll be watching.

Saints make first cuts

The Saints have announced their first roster cuts to trim the roster to 75 before the Aug. 26 deadline: FB Kevin Dudley, WR Todd Blythe, S Curome Cox, C Rob Hunt and P Waylon Prather. Dudley was the only player on the list who had seen extensive playing time in the preseason and he was on the Saints practice squad throughout last season.

The only surprise with these cuts is that Jason David's name isn't among them. Many Saints fans have been speculating that he'll be among the first cuts, but he lasts at least another week. With CBs Usama Young and Randall Gay still dinged up, the team needs all the players at corner and David gets at least one more shot to show that he can make this team. He'll have to show a lot to the home crowd against Miami or he'll hear the boo birds again.

After the next preseason game, the team will have to trim the roster down to 53 players and there will be some tough cuts to make, especially at receiver, offensive line and corner.

Saints Shut out Bengals. 13-0

The Saints defense stepped up to Coach Payton's challenge in the third preseason game and shut out the Bengals 13-0.

While the defense was solid (4 sacks and 1 interception), it's hard to get too excited about the performance. The 13-0 score had just as much to do with Cincinnati's poor play as it did the Saints defense. The Bengals were without WRs Chad Johnson and T. J. Houshmandzadeh and their main weapon was dump-off passes to RB Chris Perry.

The Saints put more pressure on Carson Palmer and other Bengal QBs than they had in previous games. They blitzed more and even left Palmer blooded with a broken nose and busted lip.

Onto the Pros and Cons from Saturday's game:

Drew Brees - Brees has been awesome in the preseason. He led the team two scoring drives in the first half (42-yard Martin Gramatica FG and 1-yard TD pass to TE Ronnie Ghent). While he would have liked to have led the team to more points, he finished 14/22 for 199 yards and the TD pass. Not a bad night.

Blitz packages - The Saints blitzed safety Kevin Kaesviharn a few times and he finished with 1.5 sacks. Along with the sacks though, the Saints pressured the Bengals into bad throws or dump-off passes. A definite improvement over last week.

Mike McKenzie/Tracy Porter - McKenzie made his return to the Saints starting lineup and didn't disappoint. He nearly made a diving interception in the first half and showed why he's still the Saints best defensive back. Porter started on the other side and was solid and finished the game with 3 tackles. He also got a chance to return punts for the first time and did well in that area too with a long return of 7 yards.

Kicking game - The kicking battle continues to be a dead heat. Both kickers made their FG attempts (42 yards by Gramatica and a 45 yarder by Taylor Mehlhaff). Mehlhaff finally showed his big leg and booted a kickoff 5-yards deep in the endzone, but later in the game, he shanked one that only made it to the 10-yard line. He has yet to show consistency on his kicks, which is why I currently give the edge to Gramatica.

Scoring opportunities - The Saints should have won this game 23-0 or 27-0, but they failed to capitalize on their scoring chances. Devery Henderson dropped a TD pass that hit him in the chest (in his defense, two Bengals quickly hit him as the ball arrived, but it was a catch that he could have held onto). Pierre Thomas fumbled inside the 20-yard line after his longest run of the night. The Saints also went for it on 4th down instead of kicking a FG. Failing to get points on these opportunities could hurt in the regular season.

Minor Injuries - Marques Colston (bruised ribs). Reggie Bush (quad contusion). Josh Savage (hyper extended right elbow). Kevin Dudley (sprained ankle). Luckily none of these injuries are serious, but these little nicks will add up come the regular season. Colston and Bush will likely rest during the last preseason game, but Dudley and Savage are fighting for a roster spot, and these injuries may hurt their chances.

Skyler Green - Green needed a big night returning kicks to help his chances of making the Saints or another team's roster, but he had his worse outing of the preseason. He fielded a punt off a bounce and ended up losing yards. He officially had 2 punt returns for -4 yards. Not the type of numbers he needs to put up. He also fair caught a punt later in the game around the 5-yard line, when it looked like there was room to return the kick. He did have one kick return for 23 yards, but with Porter showing promise returning punts, Green could be among the first cuts on Tuesday.

Next preseason game: Aug. 28 vs. Miami

LSU Moves into the Top Tier

U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" rankings were released last week, and LSU has moved into the Top Tier for "Best National Universities." This is a huge milestone for the university and one that is well deserved. It took a lot of hard work by students, faculy, staff, alumni and donors to make the move possible. Congratulations to all who have ties to LSU.

Aug 22, 2008

Preseason Game 3: Saints at Bengals

This weekend the Saints will play their third and perhaps most important preseason game against the Bengals. The third preseason game is the one where team's regulars get the most action, usually playing into the 3rd quarter.

Here are some things to look for Saturday night:

1. How will Jeremy Shockey fit in the offense?
Shockey will be seeing his first game action in a Saints uniform and will got about a quarter. He's been in and out of practice throughout camp, so it will be interesting to see how his knee holds up in the game. It will also be fun to see how often Drew Brees looks his way when he's in the game.

2. Will new starter Tracy Porter look better than demoted Jason David?
David looked terrible last week, so Porter will have to play pretty poorly to not look any better. Porter has a lot of talent, but he's still raw on the NFL level. Last week was his first time to play in a game, since he missed the first preseason game with a hamstring injury. David will play with the second team, and I'll be looking to see what kind of impression he can make with that unit.

3. Will the defense overall look better than last week?
Mike McKenzie will play this week as well, so the defense will be closer to full-strength than they've been all of preseason. Randall Gay will be the nickel corner with the first team, and other than that, we should see the a similar defense that we saw last week. Let's just hope they play better.

4. Will the running game get going?
The running game has yet to really get going in the preseason. Seeing Deuce McAllister out there last week was encouraging and he should get a few more touches this week. Hopefully, he continues to look good with his recovery from knee surgeries. Reggie Bush provided a highlight TD on a short pass last week, but still struggled finding running room. Let's see if the o-line can establish the run against the Bengals.

5. Is Devery Henderson fighting for a starting job or a roster spot?
Most Saints fans figure that Henderson is fighting for a spot on the roster after years of inconsistent play, but this week Coach Payton had Henderson running with the first team and said that he's fighting for a spot on that unit more than a spot on the roster. Maybe the light bulb has finnally come on for the former LSU star. Saints fans hope so, but until he shows consistent hands, there are doubts.

6. Does Skyler Green still have a chance to make this team?
Green has gotten a lot of touches returning kicks in the preseason, but he's yet to really stand out in that area. Pierre Thomas has pretty much locked down the kickoff return spot and the punt return job can be handled by a few players including Reggie Bush, Tracy Porter and Lance Moore. Green's days on the roster seem to be numbered, unless he breaks a big one or two in the next game.

Aug 20, 2008

Hornets unveil new logos and uniforms

The Hornets unveiled their new brand package today, which included three logos and redesigned uniforms. The new look is being touted as a rebirth for the franchise and the city and the logos/uniforms are supposed to reflect the city of New Orleans.

Pictured above are the revamped logos, including the fleur-de-bee logo that was worn as a patch last year. The primary logo has been updated, as I touched on a few weeks ago. They also introduced a new third logo, as they do away with the old "H" logo that had been a mainstay since the team relocated to New Orleans. This third logo is the most "New Orleans" as it uses the moniker NOLA with a trumpet underneath. This is a take on the logos that were used for the New Orleans All Star game.

As for the uniforms, at first I didn't really like them. But after checking them out some more, they've grown on me. Fans on message boards seem to like the home one, but not the blue away jersey. My only issue with the blue and gold jersey is that these are not New Orleans colors, as the Hornets are trying to say. Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold. Not creole blue, teal, gold and purple. But at least they are trying to connect the franchise with the city.

Being a relocated team, the Hornets can still feel like the Charlotte Hornets sometimes, especially with a nickname like Hornets not having anything to do with Louisiana or New Orleans. This brings up the other issue I've read about the jerseys: the pinstripes. Personally, I am a fan of pinstripes, especially on baseball jerseys, but Hornets fans see them going back to pinstripes like they wore in Charlotte. For a team trying to become New Orleans' own, going back to a similar look as they had in Charlotte could be a questionable move.

With that being said, I am a fan of the new look and both the home and away jerseys. I didn't love the jerseys they've worn since arriving in the Big Easy and would welcome any change from those plain-looking jerseys:

The new ones feature New Orleans on the front of both (only the NY Knicks have the city name on the front of their jerseys in the NBA besides the Hornets), the fleur-de-bee on the back above the players name and on the shorts, and the new NOLA logo on the back of the shorts. The pinstripes look nice and the road jerseys feature a lot more of the Hornets gold.

The new blue color is a good move away from teal, but reminds some of the Denver Nuggets powder blue road jerseys. Those are a shiny material, so I think the Hornets color will be distinctive to them. The team will also unveil their new court design on Friday.

All in all, a good move by the team to capitalize on their last year's success and keep the fans excited a few months away from the basketball season.

*Unveiling photos from poster say-what

Horn calls out to every team; Jason David demoted

The Miami Herald reports that new free agent WR Joe Horn's agent has contacted every NFL team (besides Atlanta) about bringing in the former Pro Bowler. Horn's short list of teams includes the Dolphins, the Cowboys, the Titans, the Jaguars and the Rams. Don't expect a return trip to the Big Easy for Horn though.

While his agent may have contacted the Saints, I imagine that was a short phone call. To say Horn and Coach Sean Payton didn't see eye to eye in New Orleans would be an understatement. Even though Horn was one of the best WRs the Saints have ever had, Payton will not bring him back.

While he was highly productive, he was also highly vocal. He was a team leader, but he also talked to the media...a lot. He presented a team first attitude, but that didn't always come across. His big "look at me" moment with his cell phone didn't help his reputation either.

I am a big Joe Horn fan. In my lifetime, he and Eric Martin are the best receivers the Saints have suited up (give Marques Colston a few more years and he'll be in that group). Horn was a fan favorite in New Orleans and always looked out for the life long Saints fans. But he doesn't fit on this team. The aging veteran WR role is filled by the currently more productive and less vocal David Patten. There's a log jam of young receivers waiting to emerge so WR isn't a need at all. Barring a major rash of injuries, the Saints will stay far away from Horn.

So where will he land? His agent expects him to sign with someone in the next few days. I could see him reunited with former coach Jim Haslett in St. Louis but could also see him somewhere like Cincinnati, Tennessee or Seattle.

In the obvious move of the week category, Jason David has been demoted to second team cornerback. Rookie Tracy Porter has been running with the first team defense, while David joins veteran Aaron Glenn with the second unit. David may still make this team, but if he's the starting CB, then the Saints defense is in a lot of trouble.

To help out the secondary, the Saints have signed veteran safety Lance Schulters. I'm not sure how much Schulters has left after being in the league for 10 years, but after only a handfull of practices, he's lining up alongside Josh Bullocks with the second team defense. That goes to show how weak and beat up the Saints secondary is right now, when a guy off the street walks in and becomes your top backup at safety. I have my doubts that he'll make this team though. Bullocks will likely make the team as the backup safety and Chris Reis will make the squad for his special teams ability. I doubt they keep five safeties, and Schulters probably won't play on special teams.

Aug 18, 2008

Saints lose to Texans 31-27, Jason David still stinks

The second preseason game will be one that the Saints defense will want to soon forget. The Texans offense racked up 405 yards and was 10-14 on 3rd downs in their 31-27 win over the Saints.

There were few bright spots for the Saints defense and leading the putrid play was Jason David, who still has not figured out how to play man-to-man defense. He still peaks in the backfield and still is out of position on 3rd and 12 passing downs. What is this guy's problem? I know playing DB in the NFL is not easy, but there's no way he should be 7 yards away from the receiver when the ball gets there. Houston continued to pick on him in the first half and the Superdome fans continued to boo his ineptitude.

It looks like its time to end the Jason David experiment. The Saints tried to convert a short, zone DB into their scheme and have failed. Its time to move on. At this point, I wouldn't be opposed to starting Aaron Glenn over him. Sure Glenn is in his late 30s but at least he's aggressive and won't continue to make the same mistakes.

Onto the Pros and Cons:

Deuce McAllister - Deuce ran hard and finished with 4 carries for 16 yards and 2 catches for 10 yards. He was smiling with each touch and looked to really have fun out there. Saints fans were glad to see #26 back in the dome.

Reggie Bush - Bush has been running hard this preseason, but the holes just haven't been there for him. Give him the ball in space though, and he can be spectacular. His leaping TD run on his 12 yard catch shows that the potential to be great is there.

Marques Colston/Drew Brees - Colston's TD grab was another spectacular play. That's what the Saints need to do in the red zone. If he can consitently go up and snatch the ball out of the air like that, the Saints red zone numbers will be through the roof. Brees laid the ball up perfectly for him to grab. Brees has had a great preseason so far and if the team gets the running game going, he can lead this team to great things.

Punters - Steve Weatherford had one punt for 50 yards and Waylon Prather punted twice for an average of 54.9 yards. Pretty good punts from both.

Besides David, the rest of the secondary didn't look good either - Matt Schaub finished 14 for 16 for 187 yards and 2 TDs. Sage Rosenfels was 6 for 8 for 94 yards. Enough said.

Pressure up front - Houston had 25 pass attempts, the Saints had zero sacks. Sedrick Ellis did break through the line early in the game, but the pressure wasn't consistent.

Injuries - Usama Young and Randall Gay both went out early with injuries forcing David and Tracy Porter to get more snaps, which would have been good if either stepped up, but both looked bad. Porter is a rookie, so he may take some time. Hopefully, Young and Gay's injuries aren't too serious because the Saints are in need of some quality corners.

Tyler Palko - Palko didn't get much playing time but announcer Solomon Wilcox was critical of his throwing mechanics during his brief stint. After almost two years in the Saints system, Palko isn't showing the kind of potential or development that you'd like from your 3rd sting QB. Some thought Palko would be challenging for the #2 QB job at this point, but he's battling to stay on the active roster again.

Next preseason game: Aug. 23 at Cincinnatti

Half-Blood Prince pushed to 2009

Here's something else to blame the writer's strike for, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince won't open in November. It is now scheduled for July 2009. Boo.

AP poll ranks LSU #7

In the age of the BCS, preseason polls hold more weight than they should. In the perfect world (aside from a playoff), the first polls of the season would come in around week 3 of the college football season. Look at what happened to Auburn a few years ago. With USC, Oklahoma and Auburn all finishing with the same record, USC and OU went to the BCS title game because they had been ranked higher all year. Auburn had no shot, simply because they couldn't make up ground since the preseason polls. What a system.

Anyway, here's the preseason AP poll, which was released this weekend.

AP Top 25
1. Georgia (22) 0-0 1,528
2. Ohio State (21) 0-0 1,506
3. USC (12) 0-0 1,490
4. Oklahoma (4) 0-0 1,444
5. Florida (6) 0-0 1,415
6. Missouri 0-0 1,266
7. LSU 0-0 1,135
8. West Virginia 0-0 1,116
9. Clemson 0-0 1,105
10. Auburn 0-0 968
11. Texas 0-0 966
12. Texas Tech 0-0 786
13. Wisconsin 0-0 771
14. Kansas 0-0 707
15. Arizona State 0-0 631
16. Brigham Young 0-0 590
17. Virginia Tech 0-0 578
18. Tennessee 0-0 509
19. South Florida 0-0 496
20. Illinois 0-0 483
21. Oregon 0-0 366
22. Penn State 0-0 293
23. Wake Forest 0-0 227
24. Alabama 0-0 89
25. Pittsburgh 0-0 85
Others Receiving Votes
South Carolina 84, Fresno State 83, California 59, Utah 53, Cincinnati 44, Florida State 41, Michigan 36, Boston College 32, Rutgers 32, Michigan State 21, Boise State 17, Arkansas 14, North Carolina 14, Connecticut 10, Tulsa 7, UCLA 6, Oregon State 5, Mississippi State 4, Virginia 4, Arizona 3, Nebraska 2, Notre Dame 2, Hawaii 1, Washington 1.

Aug 15, 2008

Preseason Game 2: Saints vs. Texans

After an exciting week of camp which saw the Saints wrap-up their training in Mississippi, the team will play their second preseason game Saturday night against the Houston Texans. The two teams have scrimmaged against one another the past couple of days, so by Saturday, they should be very familiar with each's personnel.

The Saints saw their first major injury of the offseason this week when DT Hollis Thomas tore his triceps. He had surgery and will be out for at least two months. The Saints will have to make a decision on whether or not to place him on the IR with this injury. If they don't put him on IR, he will count against the roster until he comes back. Its always bad news to sustain an injury, but DT is a position of depth right now, so the team should be able to overcome the loss of Thomas.

For the second year in a row Kenny Chesney practiced with the Saints. He ran routes and fielded punts, even earning the team a day off for successfully catching a punt (but it took him three tries to do so). The Saints players seem to enjoy have Kenny out there and anything that adds some fun at the end of training camp should be good for the team.

With the second preseason game coming up, here are some things to look for:

1. Will the Deuce be loose?
Deuce McAllister is set for his first game action since injuring his knee last season. Reggie Bush will sit out the game to rest his knee, so this leaves more playing time for McAllister, Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker. It will be fun to see #26 on the field again.

2. How will the Saints offensive line do against the talented Texans defensive line?
The Saints offensive line has its work cut out this week. The line blocked well in the passing game against the Cardinals, but run blocking left something to be desired. If they can run block better agains Mario Williams and company, then they'll have really accomplished something.

3. How will the returning players look?
A few Saints will make their preseason debut on Saturday: Mike McKenzie, Jonathan Vilma, Josh Bullocks, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Tracy Porter. Fans will want to keep an eye on Vilma and rookie Porter especially to see if the defense is improved with them on the field.

4. Is there any separation at kicker?
From everything I've read and seen, Martin Gramatica is doing a better job kicking than rookie Taylor Mehlhaff. Mehlhaff did make a FG last week, but his kickoffs weren't good. Gramatica has been solid on kickoffs and FGs in practice. Was the rookie just nervous? We'll see how he looks in front of the rabid hometown fans this weekend.

5. Will someone earn a roster spot as a kick returner?
Pierre Thomas has pretty much locked up the main kick returner job, and Reggie Bush will see his fair share of duty returning punts. But Lance Moore and Skyler Green still have a shot to show what they can do on special teams. With a few outstanding returns, they could assure themselves of a roster spot. Since they are both competing at the crowded wide receiver position, they need to really stand out on special teams. Rookie Tracy Porter will also get a look returning kicks and punts.

Poll: Best Summer Movie

The run-away winner of our best summer movie poll is The Dark Knight. No surprise there, as The Dark Knight is well on its way to becoming one of the highest grossing movies of all time.

Here's the poll results:

1 (5%)
Iron Man
1 (5%)
Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
0 (0%)
Kung Fu Panda
0 (0%)
Prince Caspian
0 (0%)
Sex and the City
1 (5%)
The Dark Knight
15 (83%)
The Incredible Hulk
0 (0%)
0 (0%)

Votes so far: 18
Poll closed

Next poll: Who should be the #1 pick in fantasy football drafts?

Aug 12, 2008

Don't Forget about Lost

Lost season 4 ended about 2 1/2 months ago and season 5 isn't set to start up for another 5 months, but don't go forgetting about our 815 survivors during this downtime. A couple of my favorite Lost bloggers ended their offseason drought and posted Lost updates today.'s Jeff Jenson posted a little about Comic Con and teased the title for the first episode of season 5, before finally revealing it at the end of the article. I won't post it here for those who hate spoilers, but I can't wait for the new season. The cast will be back in Hawaii soon as filming is getting ready to begin next week.

Erika Olson at "Long Live Locke" has posted her awesome theories on the Lost video shown at Comic Con. She threw out some ideas that I hadn't previously thought about getting me more excited to find out what's going on next season.

Lastly, don't forget about this years alternative reality game, Dharama Wants You (Octagon Global Recruiting). The game was launched before Comic Con with a commercial during the season 4 finale. Then at Comic Con, there was a Dharma booth and Octagon Global was part of the Lost panel (that's where Pierre Chang video came from).

This year's ARG involves the reviving of the Dharma Initiative and their recruitment of new workers. Lost's ARGs have been popular in the past, starting with The Lost Experience and then last season's Find 815.

Aug 8, 2008

Saints Win Preseason Opener, Meachem Shines

The Saints defeated the Cardinals 24-10 in the opening preseason game for both teams. While the score looks like the Saints dominated, it was more like the Saints 2nd/3rd stringers dominated the Cardinals bench.

The biggest bright spot was second year WR Robert Meachem, who had 4 catches for 129 yards and a TD. Meachem also had a great catch in the first half from a Mark Brunell throw that looked to be going over his head. If this kid keeps this up, he'll have the #3 WR spot secured in no time.

Both team's starting units were solid and veteran QB Kurt Warner, while suited up, didn't get into the game so the Saints 2nd string was really going against a 3rd string QB in Brian St. Pierre. Arizona was leading 10-7 at halftime, but that score was deceiving as well with the Saints forgoing a game tying field goal attempt on a 4th and one from the one-yard line ... instead Pierre Thomas was stuffed and the Saints came away with no points.

All-in-all it was what you'd expect from the first preseason game. Starters played a series or two and the backups got lots of action. There was no real game planning and no elaborate blitz packages and the offensive playbook was pretty vanilla.

Here are the Pros and Cons from what I saw in the game:

Meachem and the other Wide Receivers - the WR corps as a whole showed good hands and consitently go open against the Cardinals. David Patton caught a few passes on the first series, including a TD. Rookie Adrian Arrington also had two grabs before leaving with turf toe.

Return game - Skyler Green and Peirre Thomas had a good night returning punts and kickoffs. Green never broke a big one, but he gained postive yards on all his returns. Thomas had a big return and showed why he'll get lots of chances in the regular season.

Drew Brees and QB play - Drew Brees played one series and was 6/7 with a TD. Brunell also showed why the Saints needed an upgrade at backup QB.

No major injuries - The Saints came out of the game with no major injuries. Arrington's turf toe and Bobby McCray's bruised calf were the only noted injuries.

Saints pass defense - The Saints pass defense didn't look great, especially when Matt Leinart was in the game. There was a missed coverage on a 3rd and long, which the Cardinals converted, and then a rub route by the Cardinals allowed for another big gain. The pass rush looked better, so hopefully, when Mike McKenzie and Tracy Porter come back the secondary will be improved.

Taylor Mehlhaff's kickoffs - Martin Gramatica looked better on kickoffs than rookie Taylor Mehlhaff. Maybe the Saints told him to kick a few short to help the coverage teams, but Gramatica's kickoffs went to the goal line every time. Mehlhaff did make the Saints only FG attempt, but the announcers noted that he was the most inconsitent kicker in warm ups.

Run Blocking - The running game never got established and a few nice runs by Reggie Bush were called back for holds. Pass blocking was solid, but the holes never were opened for the RBs, especially near the goal line.

Sedrick Ellis wasn't a force - All camp we've heard about Ellis eating up the offensive linemen, but he didn't really show much in his limited playing time. Other d-linemen like Orien Harris, James Reed and Antwan Lake made their presence known with sacks, tackles and pressure up the middle. It is only the first preseason game and I'm being nitpicky, but when your the #7 pick in the draft, I'd like to see you do something in your first game.

ESPN MNF Announcers - They are perhaps worse than last year, and that's saying a lot. Mike Tirico calls a football game like he's calling golf. No emotion or elaboration. Tony Kornheiser is more annoying than ever. The only one that keeps it to football is Ron Jaworski.

Next preseason game: Aug. 16 vs. Houston

Aug 7, 2008

Saints Open Preseason at Arizona on ESPN

If there was ever a game to take WWL's advice and turn down your TV and turn up 870 AM, tonight's the game to do it. With ESPN broadcasting the Saints preseason opener at the Arizona Cardinals on the same day that Brett Favre is traded to the Jets, the football game will soon become secondary to all the Favre updates. Oh well, what can you do? Football season is here!

With this being the first preseason game, the Saints are being cautious with a number of starters, but there will still be a lot to look for tonight. Here are some of the things I'll be checking out:

Which newcomers will have an impact?
Some of the Saints newcomers (Jeremy Shockey, Tracy Porter and Jonathan Vilma) will sit out the first preseason game so we won't get a look at them tonight, but there are plenty of others to watch for. Many Saints fans will want to check out 1st round pick Sedrick Ellis. Others that I'm interested to see include Randall "Blue" Gay, Adrian Arrington, Skyler Green, Aaron Glenn, Mark Brunell and Bobby McCray.

2. How will the running backs look?

Deuce McAllister is going to be one of the veterans sitting out tonight's game, so this will give other running backs more opportunities to showcase their skills. Reggie Bush will paly with the first team, and I don't look for him to get too much work. They won't want to run him too much and risk him tweaking something. Pierre Thomas should get lots of work along with Aaron Stecker and Lynell Hamilton. If Thomas continues what he showed last preseason and in the Bears game, he'll get his share of carries in the regular season.

3. Who's going to emerge at wide receiver?

Marques Colston and David Patton are the Saints starters but after them, it is wide open. Adrian Arrington, Skyler Green, Robert Meachem, Terrance Copper, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are the WRs realistically competing for roster spots. Any of them could be the #3 WR and any of them could be cut (except for Meachem). The competition is that close. Arrington has been the star of camp, so it will be fun to see what he does in a game situation. Henderson and Colston will be out with injuries, so everyone else will get plenty of work, but they'll have Tyler Palko throwing to them in the second half, so we'll see how that goes. They may have to work even harder to get open for Palko to find them.

4. Who's going to earn a roster spot on special teams?

With the above WRs all so closely rated, the way to earn a roster spot is to stand out on special teams. Skyler Green made a name for himself in this past week's scrimmage with his kickoff return TD. Lance Moore is also competing for a spot as a returner and Terrance Copper has been one of the top special teams players since he came to New Orleans. Robert Meachem and Adrian Arrington are learning special teams to help their chances of being on the active roster. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are also working as returners, but their roster spots are more than safe.

5. Can the secondary stop anyone?

The biggest question mark for the Saints the past few years has been the secondary. The team brought in Aaron Glenn and Randall Gay and drafted Tracy Porter this offseason to bolster this struggling unit. With Mike McKenzie and Porter not playing tonight, Glenn, Gay, Usama Young, Jason David and Jason Craft will get plenty of opportunities to show that the secondary is improved. At safety, Kevin Kaesviharn and Roman Harper look to be the starting safeties.

6. Can we buy into training camp hype?

Every year there are players who excell during training camp. This year the buzz has been around guys like WR Adrian Arrington, DE Bobby McCray, OG/T Carl Nicks and OT Jermone Bushrod. Its great to hear that these players are stepping up, especially guys like Nicks and Bushrod who will be the top backups on the offensive line, but you never know if you should believe the hype. A few years ago Onome Ojo lit up training camp, but never panned out. Then Marques Colston burst on the scene and the Saints had found their #1 wide receiver. Last year, Lance Moore had the best camp of any Saint, but he had an up-and-down year. Will these guys translate training camp success into regular season success? Only time will tell if they'll be the next Colston or the next Ojo.

7. How will the kickers fair on the big stage?

Martin Gramatica and Taylor Mehlhaff are competing for the Saints kicker position. Speculation is that both can make the team, one as kickoff specialist and one as the field goal kicker, but Coach Payton would prefer if one of them won both jobs outright. In practice, its hard to simulate the pressure of a game situation, so tonight will be the first real test for them. The race has been tight throughout camp with both making almost all of their kicks and booting kickoffs into the end zone. The competition seems to have revived Gramatica's career. The Saints spent a draft pick on Mehlhaff, so you would think they'd rather him win the job, but Coach Payton has shown that he'll go with the best player no matter how they were acquired.

Is it over now?

I don't know if you've heard but there's been something going on with Brett Favre and the Packers for the past few weeks ... something about him wanting to come out of retirement to not be a distraction. I may be sketchy on the details, if only the national media (mainly ESPN) had focused any attention on this story. Yeah, I wish.

With the minute-by-minute Brett Favre coverage that ESPN has been providing, it would be hard to find a sports fan anywhere who hasn't heard about Favre's desire to come out of retirement and play for the Packers or someone else in their division (ie, Vikings or Bears). The entire situation has come to an end with Favre being traded to the Jets for a conditional 4th round pick this morning.

He didn't exactly get his wish, but with only Tampa Bay and the Jets being actively involved in trade discussion and the Packers desire to keep him out of the NFC North, it may be the best situation for Favre. While Tampa may be a better team in an easier conference, they already have five quarterbacks on the roster. The Jets had Kellen Clemons and a soon-to-be-released Chad Pennington competing for the job. Favre is an immediate upgrade and the Jets become a major player behind New England in their division.

I am so glad that this has finished, but then I realized that Favre's press conference will be covered, his first practice will be covered, 1st preseason game, 1st regular season game, 1st game with the Patriots, etc. It's only just begun. ESPN will continue the minute-by-minute Favre coverage and the other 31 teams in the league will get ignored.

At least the Packers can move on with Aaron Rodger now, but wait until that first bad game from him or his first injury. ESPN will be all over that. Oh yeah, ESPN will also televise the Packers first game, so look for many a Brett Favre reference because Green Bay was supposed to be retiring #4 at half time that day. So while one chapter is closed, many more are still waiting to be written. I guess I'll just have to keep fast forwarding through NFL Live to catch the 5 minutes of non-Brett Favre stories. At least we have the new Madden game to look forward to where we don't have to constantly see Brett Favre's image ... oh nevermind.

Hornets Schedule Released

The Hornets 2008-09 schedule was released yesterday, and New Orleans is officially one of the elite clubs in the league with 13 national television games. Included in the national TV games are games on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.

With the team's success last year and Chris Paul finishing 2nd in MVP voting, getting these national games is expected now. Just a few years ago, the Hornets were featured on ESPN or TNT just once or twice in a season. I remember a couple years ago where the Hornets were to play Charlotte on ESPN, but since both teams were terrible, ESPN pulled the game off their schedule. That won't happen with this team. Not as long as the nucleus of CP3, Tyson Chandler and David West stay together. The future is bright for basketball in the Big Easy.

Here's the Hornets official site's Top 20 Games to Watch and the complete schedule.

Aug 6, 2008

Saints to Sit the Ailing vs. Arizona

Many of the Saints regulars will sit out or not travel at all the the Saints preseason opener against the Cardinals, including wide receivers Marques Colston and Devery Henderson, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, safety Josh Bullocks, defensive tackle Brian Young, running back Deuce McAllister, tight end Jeremy Shockey, cornerbacks Mike McKenzie and Tracy Porter.

Most of these are just precautionary and if it were the regular season, they'd suit up.

This will give young players like Robert Meachem, Adrian Arrington, Skyler Green, Usama Young, Pierre Thomas and Sedrick Ellis more attention and playing time. This will also help a veterans like Kevin Kaesviharn, who is battle Josh Bullocks for a starting spot at safety.

Just one more day and the Saints will be playing football on national TV!

Aug 1, 2008

Preseason Coaches Poll Ranks LSU 6th

The USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll has been released and LSU sits at #6 overall with three first place votes. Ahead of the Tigers are 1. Georgia, 2. USC, 3. Ohio State, 4. Oklahoma and 5. Florida. Other SEC teams ranked include 11. Auburn and 18. Tennessee.

Below is the Coaches Poll:

Preseason poll
TeaRm (first-place votes)
Final 2007 rankings
Georgia (22)
Southern California (14)

Ohio State (14)

Oklahoma (3)
Florida (5)
LSU (3)


West Virginia
Texas Tech
Virginia Tech
Arizona State
Brigham Young
South Florida

Penn State


Wake Forest




Others receiving votes
Others Receiving Votes:
Alabama (7-6) 83; South Carolina (6-6) 64; Utah (9-4) 60; Florida State (7-6) 53; Rutgers (8-5) 53; Boston College (11-3) 47; California (7-6) 41; Pittsburgh (5-7) 34; Boise State (10-3) 25; Oregon State (9-4) 23; Nebraska (5-7) 17; Cincinnati (10-3) 13; Virginia (9-4) 12; Connecticut (9-4) 9; Michigan State (7-6) 9; Mississippi State (8-5) 6; Kentucky (8-5) 5; Notre Dame (3-9) 5; TCU (8-5) 5; Maryland (6-7) 4; North Carolina (4-8) 3; Texas A&M (7-6) 3; UCLA (6-7) 3; Central Florida (10-4) 2; Georgia Tech (7-6) 2; Louisville (6-6) 2; Arizona (5-7) 1; Colorado (6-7) 1; Oklahoma State (7-6) 1; Tulsa (10-4) 1.