by Tom Weppel
After a nice home-opening 24-17 win over the Broncos to start the season, the 1-0 Jaguars now go cross-country to play the favored San Diego Chargers, a team held up 21-14 by the Chiefs Monday night.
The Jags’ play against Denver was solid but not all that dominant. On offense, they were able to move the ball on the ground with some conservative yards by RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Their passing attack was decent but not impressive, capped off by David Garrard’s three TD passes, two of which were caught by TE Mercedes Lewis.
On defense, we started to see signs of a more effective line that was able to put pressure on the QB. DE Aaron Kampman and rookie DT Tyson Alualu did a formidable job in the opening game. Still, the Broncos passed for 274 yards last week, and there are questions as to what the backfield is all about.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have been a ‘sexy’ pick to do well this season. Star QB Philip Rivers can make things happen, even without holdout WR Vincent Jackson and RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who signed with the Jets in the offseason. Rivers’ favorite targets last week were WR Legedu Naanee and veteran TE Antonio Gates, who caught five passes and a TD each.
We all know of HC Jack Del Rio’s California roots. His connection with San Diego HC Norv Turner is strong, considering Turner was on the USC coaching staff when Del Rio played there. I’m sure they are quite aware of figuring out what the other is thinking heading into this contest.
The Jaguars have not been successful at all on the West Coast, including last year, when they lost at Seattle and San Francisco by a combined total of 61-3. Add the fact that this is San Diego’s home-opener, and you now know why the Chargers are at least a touchdown favorite. Nonetheless, it is probable this game will be blacked out in SoCal.
For this Jaguar team, the season will have defining moments that will decide whether they are solid, legitimate playoff contenders, or simply marginal at best. Even though it is early in the schedule, this easily could be a defining game. We’ll see what the boys are all about.
On Saturday the Florida Gators make their first road trip of the season, heading to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers in an SEC scrap. So far, Florida has shown us only brief flashes of solid play, in their two home wins against Miami (Ohio) and South Florida. Otherwise, the Gators have not performed like a very good team.
Of course, the main subject of discussion currently is focusing on WR Chris Rainey, who will not be playing this weekend due to his arrest on charges of aggravated stalking. It is an unfortunate situation once again, as Rainey certainly was a main contributor to the Gator Offense. With Rainey out, Urban Meyer will have to adjust the playbook to do more with RB Jeff Demps and WR’s Deonte Thompson and Carl Moore.
Meanwhile, there are still questions as to how good QB John Brantley is playing. The whole deal with the bad snaps from C Mike Pouncey has been rough. But Brantley has been a decent passer, hitting his receivers and backs fairly effectively.
The Tennessee Volunteers are not that solid a team, as they showed us last week, when they were beaten soundly at home by the Oregon Ducks, 48-13. The Vols have not fared well against Florida, having lost their last five contests, and 18 of the last 24.
Florida is about a two TD favorite to beat Tennessee. Neyland Stadium will once again be packed to the gills with Volunteer fans wanting to savor a UT victory over Florida. If the Gators lose, the questions will already be flying in Gainesville and beyond. It will be interesting to see how both teams perform, considering their various inconsistencies so far this season…
When you listen to Bobby Bowden interviews in the past few weeks, you can tell he is neither happy nor content with his being ‘retired’. He has for all intents stated he’d rather be coaching his beloved Seminoles this one last season, almost in a ‘farewell tour’ scene.
Obviously, that did not work out for the man who built a college football dynasty at Florida State.
And so it makes me wonder how he was feeling, and what he was thinking, last Saturday when FSU got their ass kicked by the Oklahoma Sooners, 47-17. Was he laughing? Was he disappointed and distraught? Or was he simply nodding his head and smiling, as if to say, “Yeah…you should’ve kept me,”!
Now, with that embarrassing loss, the confidence Seminole fans had in new Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and starting QB Christian Ponder has slipped a little. The question now simply is how good is this FSU team? What are they all about? Can they possibly supply us with some hint of respectability?
Obviously, the 59-6 home-opening win against Samford is meaningless. This weekend the ‘Noles will be hosting BYU (1-1), a team coming off a tough loss to Air Force. The Seminoles need to regroup quickly and be ready to take on a team that has shown solid play in the past. This will be a good chance for Florida State to bounce back and pick up a much-needed win, without question…just ask Bobby Bowden.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Finally, a quick note…
Well, well, well…where was Mr. Tebow last week, Gator fans? Why didn’t he come out for the Denver Broncos and run for 100 yards and complete a bunch of passes? Where was your boy?
I’ll tell you exactly where he was…on the sideline!
And you know what…it seems that’s where he’s going to be quite a bit this season, according to Head Coach Josh McDaniels. There are a couple of ‘Wild Horse’ formations where Tebow may be featured. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem there will be a place for him on the field at the present. Starting QB Kyle Orton has got the QB job locked down and will probably do a solid job all season.
So, the bottom line here is, you Gator fans can wear your #15 jersey all year long, but don’t plan on getting or seeing a lot of action out of your rock-star, first-round draft pick. Mr. Tebow better get acclimated to manning the sidelines…something he is not accustomed to doing…EVER!
SPORTS w/The Jock 9-16
by Tom Weppel