SPORTS w/The Jock 9-9-11

by Tom Weppel
On Saturday, Steve Spurrier takes his South Carolina Gamecocks into Athens to take on Georgia to open their SEC schedule.
Last week, the Bulldogs opened their season by losing in Atlanta to Boise St., 35-21. While Boise is certainly no slouch, there was still some degree of disappointment to see Georgia losing as they did.
Which makes things that much more interesting going into Saturday. As we sit, the Gamecocks are three-point faves, playing in Athens! I can tell you right now Georgia fans do NOT want to see their boys start out their season 0-2! In addition, Spurrier of course has is knowledge and history in working (and playing) against the ‘Dogs.
Bottom line is this should be an interesting, nasty, competitive contest, and I’ll be very curious to watch and see what happens
Meanwhile, after their losing at home last weekend to South Florida, 23-20, a lot of people are wondering once again what we’re gonna get this season out of Notre Dame! Every year, there are always high expectations for the Irish to produce a strong, solid outfit that can punish and win.
And it seems every year those expectations slide, along with a fair amount of subpar play! Now, Notre Dame will travel to Michigan to play the Wolverines at night for the first time in the history of the stadium!
For this game, Head Coach Brian Kelly, obviously upset with the way things went last week, has chosen to start Tommy Rees at QB on Saturday. Here is yet another situation where a high-profile school does NOT want to open their season 0-2! Should be very interesting to see if Michigan can and will handle the Irish, on both sides of the ball! An upset would cause a fair amount of joy in Ann Arbor, for sure!
In other games, Alabama goes to Penn State as a ten-point favorite, both Florida (Ala-Birm.) and FSU (Charleston Southern) have no-name patsies to pound, and, in the wild line of the week, Mississippi State is a 6.5-point favorite AT AUBURN!
Go figure…

The season hasn’t even started, and yet here we are dealing with some pretty wild happenings, not only here, but all around the NFL…
There are two ways to look at the way the Jaguars handled David Garrard. You can say they gave him plenty of chances to take the team and the offense and succeed, yet he didn’t put it all together.
Or, you can say the Jaguars had some rather hideous timing in their decision to cut Garrard from the roster. Its fair to say, in a more professional situation, the Jags could’ve given Garrard his release earlier, to give him a chance to catch on with another team. He will most likely find a team for a backup job for now, with no chance of starting.
The bottom line here is I’m not gonna feel sorry for a guy who had a contract that paid him $20 million guaranteed, to play QB in the NFL.
Would the Jaguars be a better team…a better offense…with Garrard starting? As of right now, I would have to say yes. Perhaps by the end of the season, maybe I can consider that debatable, simply depending on who will be playing, and what the teams’ record is.
And so, with the whole Garrard fiasco over with, we now move on to….OH YEAH! THE NFL CRANKS UP THIS WEEKEND! After an abbreviated off-season, and quite a short training camp, we sit here with all 32 teams all uni’d up and ready to go…at least that’s what we think.
The Jaguars open up the season at home this year, hosting the Tennessee Titans, a team they have created a slight rivalry with over the years. The Titans have a new Head Coach and Quarterback, with Mike Munchak and Matt Hassellbeck in the saddle, respectively. But their main star is at RB, with Pro-Bowler Chris Johnson signed and ready to roll.
Around the League, the Jaguars are a small-town also-ran. They are looked upon as a team that has done one or two things of note, but overall have not produced and been successful like maybe a few others have expected. Out West, many football fans are hoping they end up making the trip to L.A. one day.
That said, this season, it is the Texans who are favored to win the Division overall. No one talks much about the Jaguars. In many ways, they have a great opportunity to be the ultimate underdog, come out strong, and surprise a lot of people. They can start if they put together a solid performance against the Titans. Right now, the Jags are three-point favorites. We’ll see what they do to open up the 2011 season, even without David Garrard…
Meanwhile, there are plenty of other QB ‘situations’ ongoing, throughout the League.
In Charlotte, the rookie Cam Newton will start for the Panthers as they travel to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Cardinals and THEIR new QB, Kevin Kolb. We’ll see how they both perform. On the other side, the Bengals will play the Browns in Cleveland WITHOUT Carson Palmer, whom I assume is hanging out in Southern California, wondering what will happen.
Donovan McNabb begins his tenure now in Minnesota, as he leads the Vikings into San Diego to play the Chargers. And, with Peyton Manning out with neck issues, we will see Kerry Collins start at QB for the Colts, as they go to Houston to face the Texans. Should be interesting, at the least.
And, while he won’t start or play much, we still are all curious to see what role Tim Tebow will play for the Broncos when they open at home against Oakland on Monday night. Could end up with a lot of Bronco fans with tebow jerseys on, but not seeing their boy on the field much…