by Tom Weppel
On Sunday, the Jaguars will be out West to take on the San Francisco 49ers. For Jack Del Rio, it certainly is a homecoming, for all intents, as he grew up in the East Bay area of Oakland. Del Rio says he was a total Raiders fan growing up, and also having not spent much time in Candlestick Park, where the Niners still play. Nonetheless, Del Rio will get to hang with his father, brothers, and old school buddies!
The Jaguars have won their last three games, carrying a 6-4 record into this contest. There are many perceptions circulating now, both inside the lockerroom and around town, as to what is going on with this team. This winning streak has people feeling they are developing a style and attitude that can and will cause the opposition to struggle. On offense, they have Maurice Jones-Drew leading and effective running game, while David Garrard is starting to feel more and more comfortable with his receiving corps. On defense, they are bending, but not totally breaking. All this has led to victories, causing many in town and around the league to show interest.
With the ‘youth movement’ now in full stride, it seems the guys the Jags brought in at the beginning of the season are now starting to play well, helping the team gradually improve on a number of levels. While the Chiefs, Jets, and Bills are not top-shelf NFL teams, the Jags were able to notch victories against them and are now in the hunt for a possible playoff wild card bid.
The Niners (4-6) started out the season winning three of their first four games. Since then, they have turned around and lost five of their last six, including last week’s game against the Packers. In their games, it seems they have done their best to stay competitive throughout a game, only to lose out at the end. Head coach Mike Singletary is trying his best to get thing together out on the Bay area. While he has a standout RB to work with in Frank Gore, he also is having problems with his QB play, as Alex Smith has not played to the best of his abilities.
The last time the Jags were out on the West Coast, they were humbled by the Seattle Seahawks. Their hope is to have things work out on a more positive note. They are working with a renewed confidence, without question. If they can keep their attitude, and limit their mistakes, it is entirely possible for the Jags to win this one. We shall see how they play against the Niners…
On Saturday, the 11-0 Florida Gators will be playing their final regular season game, at home, hosting the 6-5 Florida State Seminoles. It will be the last home game for Tim Tebow, since he is a Senior. I am sure there will be all sorts of discussion, pageantry, and reminiscence throughout the entire day by Gator fans all over the place. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if, in the near future, the University doesn’t retire Tebow’s #15 jersey. For this game, the Gators are about a 25-point favorite. The feeling is they will simply dominate the mediocre Seminoles in all ways. Florida’s defense will most likely give raw QB EJ Manuel al kinds of problems, forcing turnovers and shutting down any degree of productivity. That will leave the door open for Tebow and the offense to come in and score at will. For all intents, it could, and most likely will, be a blowout…
In the meantime, there are about 12 other traditional state rivalry games that are being played this weekend. Alabama goes to Auburn, Georgia plays Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Clemson goes to South Carolina, and, in the battle of L.A., USC hosts UCLA. For the Georgia Bulldogs, this could be one ugly scrap. They come off an awful loss at home to the Kentucky Wildcats! Its quite obvious head coach Mark Richt and his staff have not had their players clicking, especially QB Joe Cox. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, are heading to the ACC Championship game to play Clemson, and their play has been strong. My feeling is it could get ugly, with Georgia Tech laying the wood to Georgia…
Also, consider the following…if Oklahoma State (9-2), beat Oklahoma, the Sooners will finish their season at 6-6, which is quite unbelievable! And is UCLA is able to pull off an upset over the Trojans, USC will have a 7-4 record, going into their finale’ with Arizona! Needless to say, this season has given us some traditional powerhouse teams finishing off their seasons with some very lackluster records, generating that much more discussion around the country, and heated requests among college and school boosters to make changes to programs!