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MobTown Sports Blog

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MobTown Sports Blog

Posted on 05 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a quick look ahead at the agenda for Monday on the MobTown Sports Beat:

 

Ravens Reaction

 

The Ravens are always on the table, especially on MSB Mondays. We’ll look back on the Ravens impressive and needed win over divisional rival Cleveland and have plenty of reaction.

 

A Nickel and a Nail

 

Five penny for your thought type topics of conversation and a nail for someone who deserves it.

 

#1 – BC-Mess or Oklahoma Statement

 

Despite an impressive thumping of the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, the Cowboys of Oklahoma State will be home watching the BCS title game like the rest of us. There’s little doubt that Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country, but do we really want to relive 9-6 snoozer that was the “game of the century” from just over a month ago? And how now can LSU lose a national title to Alabama after beating them on their own field in November and playing a much tougher out of conference schedule and the SEC title game? How much of this is due to the media’s inability to let go of their stated notion that Alabama was the best team in the country in the first place? Would LSU be getting this same opportunity if they had lost at home to Bama?

 

 

#2 – Tarheels are Baby Soft

 

They’re talented, there’s no doubt about that. The Tarheels are inordinately talented for a team in this the “one and done” era, the problem is that they seem to know it too. The juggernaut that Carolina looked to bring to the table after returning Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zellar and John Henson to fuse with the typical insurgence of Tarheel freshman talent so far has been anything but. After stumbling out of the gates last year only to turn it up for the stretch, Barnes looks to be making that his habit. Their talent will be enough to get them by on most nights, but when the real heat turns up, look for these Tarheels to wilt under the pressure like they did against Kentucky on Saturday. They appear poorly coached and at times altogether indifferent. Don’t believe the hype surrounding this Carolina team, as it appears that they themselves have already bought in too much.

 

#3 – NBA Free Agency to Begin on Monday?

 

Sort of at least…beginning on Monday it looks like teams will be free to at least make known their intentions and overtures to prospective free agents ahead of Friday’s projected final resolution in the lockout. Big men abound in free agency and no NBA team ever has enough of those. Greg Oden could be headed to the Heat, making him and them even more hated then each is already individually. Additionally, as “Big 3’s” are seemingly becoming en vogue, teams will be looking to fish or cut bait with a few marquee names that could quickly become trade fodder. Derron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard could all begin or end this season with new teams. And let’s not forget about Danny Ainge’s latest attempt to sabotage the Celtics. Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of the Rajon Rondo trade rumors or their impact.

 

#4 – A.F.Seeding

 

The top end of the AFC all managed to hold serve on Sunday. Along with the Ravens win, the Steelers beat the Bengals 35-7, the Patriots beat the hapless Colts 31-24 and the Texans rallied behind TJ Yates for a 17-10 win over the fading Falcons, so the logjam continues at 9-3 atop the AFC.

 

Houston survived a tough opponent behind TJ Yates first start after losing Andre Johnson again mid-game in a scene eerily similar to the one that preceded his last hamstring injury and kept him out of action for several weeks, and Brian Cushing left early too. If it weren’t for bad luck, these Texans wouldn’t have any yet they still refuse to lose in this their ordained playoff season given the absence of Peyton Manning in the division.

 

The Raiders were blasted by the suddenly resurgent Dolphins 34-14 and coupled with another heroic Tim Tebow comeback effort, surrendered the top spot in the AFC West (by virtue of a tiebreaker) to Denver.

 

The Titans and Jets both picked up wins to pull even with Cincinnati in the race for the final wild card spot with the Bengalis still enjoying the benefit of the tiebreaker…for now.

 

#5 – Packers on a Roll

 

Green Bay survived its first real test of the season on Sunday when the Giants punched in a 2-point conversion to tie them with less than a minute remaining and one timeout for the Packers. We should have known on the kickoff that the Pack was about to do something special. Randall Cobb, who’s having a fine year, took a knee on the kickoff just a yard or so deep in the end zone, essentially conceding that taking time away from Aaron Rodgers and the offense, even a few seconds, would be unacceptable even for a return man adept at taking them to the house. Two plays later the Packers were in field goal range and the rest as they say was history.

 

If you’re giving me the Packers or the field today, I’ll still take the field but it’s getting tougher to do each week. You could argue that now isn’t the time to be playing your best football, but the Packers have been doing it since week 1 and still look to be improving. They’re much deeper than last year’s injury riddled bunch and now can count themselves battle tested too.

 

You’d almost like to get an L out of the way before the playoffs start, but if it’s going to happen for these Packers it looks like it’ll happen naturally, as they don’t seem to be slowing at all. Maybe the cursed Colts season has taught a lesson to anyone willing to take note, “embrace the 0, or the 0 will come get you”.

 

And the nail goes to the Ravens and Steve Bisciotti for their announcement to take their ball and go home, or more specifically to cancel indefinitely the Westminster training camp that had become engrained in the traditions of many a Ravens’ fan who can’t get to the stadium for actual games.

 

The move has money written all over it, in this immediate aftermath of the NFL lockout where we as a public were forced to endure the tug of war over an unfathomably fat cache of cash that we were all made too well aware of, that seems to be bad form.  The team will surely try to make it up to the fans somehow, but attempts will be feeble at best compared to the rite of passage that was Ravens training camp.

 

(While not a regular attendee at Ravens training camp myself, I certainly understand the loss that some are feeling. As a 38-year old Baltimore native, my only “real” memories of the Baltimore Colts began and ended with training camps at Goucher college)

 

It’s not lost on us, Mr. Bisciotti, that you’re the same guy who encouraged us to offset the season ticket price increase of a few years ago by selling our Patriots, Steelers and/or Colts tickets as they were doing very well on the secondary market. Clearly the real plight and point of view of the average fan is lost on the occupants of the owner’s box.

 

What’s not lost on Mr. Bisciotti is the ability to pass the buck, or more aptly to allow crap to roll downhill, as he did by calling it a football decision. By stating that the Ravens were a better football team when they practice at their Owings Mills facility the owner laid blame right at the coach’s feet even without saying quite that much.

 

The truth is, it’s hard to say whether the Ravens are better or worse when they don’t have a camp, as this is the first year without one and also a year anomalous in the annals of NFL history due to the lockout. Using this season, as a barometer to measure anything is pointless at best and more likely irresponsible.

 

I’ll agree that life is easier for the Ravens when they don’t have to pack up and move operations from Owings Mills to Westminster and back, but easy isn’t the road to NFL glory. Eight times per season the Ravens will have to pack up and prepare, at least in part, away from the castle, usually in makeshift conditions not ideally suited or built for the purpose of readying a team for a football game. That the Ravens have struggled in doing it this season may speak to the “preparation” they’d have gotten in camp, under similar conditions.

 

 The road to a Super Bowl is a tough one, and one that the Ravens took once already while holding camp in Westminster, and the team enjoys lots of cushy handouts and civic backrubs from fans who’ll never have the chance to set foot in the stadium for a game, to lock them out using the fortress that they in part financed is just wrong.

 

 

@ Me Back

 

3 random questions. Hit me with your answers on Twitter @Thyrl or @WNST, by email thyrl@wnst.net, or at 410-481-1570. Whatever you do, get back @ me.

 

@-1: Who are the top 5 on your #NFL rookie of the year ballot?

 

I’ll go Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, AJ Green, Torrey Smith & DeMarco Murray

 

@-2: Who would you seed 1-8 in a college football playoff?

 

Give me- #1 LSU, #2 Bama, #3 OK St., #4 Boise, #5 Stanford, #6 Arkansas, #7 Wisconsin, #8 Clemson/WVU play-in or Oregon if I have to pick 1.

 

@-3: Who looks the like the best college hoops team so far?

 

For me – Kentucky, Ohio State, UConn, Syracuse, Missouri…but there’s a lot of teams I haven’t seen yet and a bunch more I can’t wait to see again.

 

 

 

 

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The Ledge: Boise State, Redskins, Broncos, City of Dallas & the Commish

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The Ledge: Boise State, Redskins, Broncos, City of Dallas & the Commish

Posted on 31 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

 

Boise State: It was supposed to somehow be their year. What’s more, this should have been a good weekend for the Boise Sate Broncos, instead it was just another in a series of tough late season blows for the “Little Engine That Could” of college football as the Stanford Cardinal not only survived a triple OT scare against USC, but catapulted the Broncos for the fourth spot in the BCS this week as a result.

 

The losses by Kansas State and Clemson had to be encouraging for the Broncos, and if the probability of USC upending Stanford as it was happening appeared too good to be true, it ultimately was. After starting the season with little #’s 5 & 7 in the two major polls next to their name, the Broncos appeared to be in line for their first legitimate shot at getting into the BCS title game if a few things broke their way. Lately it became apparent that they were the contingency plan for Oklahoma State at best. Now looking up at Stanford too, it seems that QB Kellen Moore and company will need lots of help in earning their “lifetime achievement award”.

 

Last but not least, it seems that in the era of conference landscape shake-up the Broncos, apparently Big East bound will still be looking at a future where the strength of schedule still serves to indict their record no matter how impressive.

 

Outlook: Stay positive, the weekend wasn’t a total loss. Clemson lost, K-State lost, and Stanford at least proved that they could be beaten. The Cardinal still have a showdown with Oregon and the PAC-12 title game to get through and Oklahoma State’s road may be even tougher than that. Boise’s BCS outlook may still be more realistic and closer than ever.

 

 

Washington Redskins: You started 3-1 and Rex Grossman’s misplaced confidence in declaring the Redskins contenders seemed to be both founded and contagious. Three straight losses and two quarterbacks later the Skins are fresh off of a 23-0 oak-sticking at the hands of the Bills and the once vulnerable looking NFC East is beginning to round more into the form that most expected to begin the season. The Eagles look to be clicking right now, the Giants and Cowboys both look talented but inconsistent and the Redskins look to be pulling up the rear.

 

Outlook: You knew it would eventually come to this, didn’t you? Even at 3-1 the Redskins were tough to buy into, now we’re being reminded of why. 

 

 

City of Dallas: The year began so well. The Cowboys played host to the Super Bowl and even though they expected to be in it and weren’t and even though the weather was an ongoing storyline throughout Super Bowl week, it’s tough to count that experience as a negative. In fact on the heels of the Super Bowl and tons of giant events at the new “Jerry-World” the Mavericks won the NBA Finals and the Rangers dominated most of the summer.

 

Now however, the Rangers arguably choked away their first world title twice in game 6 of the World Series then lost it in game 7, the reeling Cowboys are 3-4 and fresh off of an embarrassing Sunday Night performance on national television, and the Mavericks chance to defend their NBA title is on hold indefinitely as the NBA lockout drags on.

 

Outlook: Everything is bigger in Big D, I suppose panic is no different.

 

 

Denver Broncos: Okay, Tim Tebow stinks. It’s easy to tolerate when he’s winning and inspiring people along the way, but a win over a bad Dolphins team was just that no matter how exciting, and the reeling Detroit Lions exacted 2 weeks of frustrations on the Broncos on Sunday with ease. Tebow was a winner in college, but so were lots of NFL players, and even more who never made it or simply stunk in the NFL. Winning at this level is different, and Tebow has a long way to go before he can think about doing it consistently, and the current coaching staff may have no legitimate designs on waiting for him to be ready.

 

The Broncos are paying 3 quarterbacks good money, yet still have no real answer at quarterback. Additionally their win against the Dolphins while inspirational has them looking “up” at 4 teams in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and on even ground (in the loss column) with 4 more.

 

Outlook: A team with 2 quarterbacks really has none; a team with 3 might have no idea what they’re looking for. Be afraid Bronco’s fans yours is a tough road ahead.

 

 

Roger Goodell: Mr. Ndamukong Suh would like to see you sir.

 

Outlook: Be afraid be very afraid.

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.

 

All lines taken from sportsbook.com.

 

Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 7: 2-3 (-130 pts)    season: 13-12 (-20 pts) 

 

Saints -14 @ Rams 

 

Lions -3 @ Broncos

 

Steelers +3 vs. Patriots

 

Browns +9 @ 49ers

 

Chiefs +4 vs. Chargers

 

 

Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 7: 2-2-1 (-10 pts)    season: 10-12-1 (-160 pts)

 

Panthers -3.5 vs. Vikings

 

Dolphins +9.5 @ Giants

 

Bills -6 vs. Redskins

 

Bengals -3 @ Seahawks

 

Cowboys +3.5  @ Eagles

 

 

Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 7: 1-2(-24 pts)    season 9-10-2 (-40 pts)

 

Titans -9 vs. Colts

 

Jaguars +9.5 @ Texans

 

Ravens -12.5 vs. Cardinals

  

Last week Total: 5-7-1  (-164 pts)     Season Total: 32-34-3 (-220 pts)

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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

Posted on 24 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

 

The Detroit Lions – Losers now of two straight, the Lions could surely use some good publicity to take some of the spotlight away from coach Jim Schwartz’ loss of decorum during his post game exchange with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh immediately following the Lions first loss of the season. Getting into a pre-game dust up with the Falcons probably isn’t going to do it, nor is Ndamukong Suh going to do much for his quickly devolving reputation for antics by standing over Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan while heaping on celebratory trash talk and reveling in Ryan’s apparent injury.

 

Beating the reeling Falcons away from the safety of the Georgia Dome would have been a nice feather in the Lions’ cap, but yesterday’s loss to those Falcons 23-16 may instead serve as a real stumbling block to the Lions potential playoff fortunes. Having seen the Packers run their record to 7-0 with a win on Sunday, the Lions can now look to the NFC wildcard as their most likely passage into the playoffs. As the also-rans of the AFC South look to be fighting for the very same, the Lions may have lost an important tiebreaker on Sunday.

 

Either way their running game is in apparent shambles, the failed Ronnie Brown trade looks to hurt a lot and the oft injured Matthew Stafford may have gone down to injury on the last play of Sunday’s game to boot.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight Lions fans. Next up: @ Denver, Bye, @ Chicago & vs. Carolina before a Thanksgiving Day showdown with Green Bay. There’s plenty of time to right the ship.

 

 

Tony Sparano – Sunday’s game at Miami against the Broncos might have felt like the whole world (or at least the whole stadium) vs. Tony Sparano. And for a while it looked as though Sparano might have won.

 

The coach surely began the season on the hot seat, and if Jim Harbaugh had been compelled to take his talents to South Beach there may have been no seat at all for Sparano. There clearly has been no quarterback for Sparano and the Dolphins since making due with Chad Pennington to moderate success in 2008.

 

Sunday though was strange. Tim Tebow, making his debut for the Broncos this season, enjoyed a great deal of crowd favor from those who showed up to celebrate Tebow’s 2008 Florida Gators National Championship team, and most Dolphins fans it seems have succumbed to the “suck for Luck” philosophy that wins at this point will only inhibit their chances at the top pick in next year’s draft.

 

As Tebow was crossing the goal with the game tying 2-point conversion, fans of both teams (plentiful in Miami on Sunday) seemed united in their hopes that Sparano and his Dolphins would find a way to lose…and they did. Everyone but Sparano left happy (or at least appeased).

 

Prognosis: Prepare to be pushed Tony Sparano. Your boy Bill Parcells bailed on you already, and the only purpose you’re serving at present is to be the means to a 0-16 season that will deliver Andrew Luck and likely the next head coach as well. No need for the Dolphins to rush that move though, they can save money now and keep the new guy from being associated with this ongoing mess.

 

 

NBA Fans – The NBA lockout got shock value attention courtesy of Bryant Gumbel last week, they got impartial mediation courtesy of the federal government and they got the best wishes of seemingly every fan still clinging to hopes of an NBA season at all this year. The end result, talks broke off at an apparent impasse with not only no apparent resolution in sight, but it seems there aren’t even any official plans to continue the talks as yet. The players are into the “making plans” phase of taking their talents to wherever paychecks are imminent and many owners seem contented to let the whole season go un-played, and David Stern will probably cancel Christmas this week.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight; college basketball is just around the corner. Accept the fact that there probably won’t be an NBA season and get over it. That way if there is one you’ll be imminently happy but you won’t waste any time, energy or emotion sweating it out in the meanwhile.

 

 

Clemson, Stanford & Boise State – It’s that time of year again too. The national championship picture is down to 7 teams after undefeated Oklahoma and Wisconsin fell last weekend. For those 7 teams, their chance at a national title just became a lot more real, and suddenly a lot more important too.

 

In fairness, it’s probably only 5 of the 7 legitimate title contenders that are seeing the championship picture with more clarity this week, as it’s been all but ordained that the winner of the SEC’s loaded western division would roll though the conference title game and into the BCS National Championship game as a result. For weeks we’ve been touting the LSU and Alabama winner as one half of the title picture at least, that part hasn’t changed.

 

What has changed is the likelihood that the Big-12 winner would get the other side of that bracket as that may be suddenly not be so likely. The Big-12 still has 2 undefeated teams in Oklahoma State (3rd in the BCS) and Kansas State (8th in the BCS) but both still have to play each other and a still strong Oklahoma team now relegated to the role of spoiler. Oklahoma State also still has Baylor with Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III and the Texas Tech team that just beat Oklahoma on their schedule and Kansas State has Texas and Texas A&M still remaining too.

 

Mathematically there could still be 5 undefeated powers left at season’s end (but likely won’t be). Where the ones who don’t reside in the SEC shake out should be quite interesting and is still very much up in the air right now.

 

Prognosis: If you’re a fan of any one of the three listed in the title, you might as well jump as no matter which team you side with, the odds are stacked against you. Beware though that if you do, you’ll surely miss out on an exciting and controversial finish to the college football season.

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.

 

All lines taken from sportsbook.com.

 

Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 4: 4-1 (290 pts)    season: 11-9 (110 pts) 

 

Chargers -2 @ Jets 

 

Texans +3 @ Titans

 

Steelers -3.5 @ Cardinals

 

Packers -9 @. Vikings

 

Ravens -7.5 @ Jaguars

 

 

Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 4: 3-2 (40 pts)    season: 8-10 (-150 pts)

 

Redskins +2.5 @ Panthers

 

Browns -3 vs. Seahawks

 

Broncos +1.5 @ Dolphins

 

Raiders -4.5 vs. Chiefs

 

Saints -14 vs. Colts

 

 

Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 4: 1-1-1 (-2 pts)    season 8-8-2 (-16 pts)

 

Buccaneers +1 vs. Bears (in London)

 

Lions -3.5 vs. Falcons

 

Cowboys -12.5 vs. Rams

  

Last week Total: 8-4-1 (328 pts)     Season Total: 27-27-2 (-56 pts)

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The Reality Check Presents “The Five Plays That Have Defined Ravens History”

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The Reality Check Presents “The Five Plays That Have Defined Ravens History”

Posted on 11 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

With no game to offer analysis for this weekend, Ryan Chell and I decided to go a different way with our Tuesday “Five Plays” segment. Instead of “The Five Plays That Determined The Game”, we went with “The Five Plays That Have Defined Baltimore Ravens History.”

Interesting, huh?

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Tony Siragusa pancakes Oakland Raiders QB Rich Gannon in the AFC Championship Game (January 2001)

gannon

4. Le’Ron McClain 82 yard TD run against the Dallas Cowboys to close Cowboys Stadium (December 2008)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzGRUNJorz8&feature=related[/youtube]

3. Steve McNair intercepted by Indianapolis Colts DB  Nick Harper in AFC Divisional Round playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium (January 2007)

harper

2. Kyle Boller drops ball, Denver Broncos DL Demetrin Veal recovers fumble (December 2005)

boller

1. Ray Lewis breaks up pass intended for Eddie George, returns INT for touchdown against Tennessee Titans in AFC Divisional Round (January 2001)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRlIEMhv-ZE[/youtube]

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A mistake on a pop quiz nearly ended former MD QB Josh Portis’ football career-now with a fresh start wants to finish this NFL test the right way

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A mistake on a pop quiz nearly ended former MD QB Josh Portis’ football career-now with a fresh start wants to finish this NFL test the right way

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Josh Portis

Josh Portis has traveled far and wide in his football playing days.

The Woodland Hills, California native was once one of the most highly touted, dual-threat prep quarterbacks in the nation, and appeared to be well on his way toward building up a decent pro resume in the NFL playing for the University of Florida and the Maryland Terrapins.

That was until his Division-I college career was derailed by coaching changes, transfers, and some bad decisions on his part.

Ultimately starting over though for Portis, while it may have appeared  to end his chances at making the NFL, it turned out to be a good decision on his part.

Portis joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” this week to share his enthusiasm for being invited to next week’s NFL Rookie Combine in Indianapolis on July 24th.

“It’s great to work out with the best competition, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Portis told Forrester. “I’m excited, anxious, and I’m looking forward to playing in the NFL on Sunday.”

Portis-whose cousin, Clinton, is an All-Pro running back in the NFL having played for the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins- saw his career as a Gator fall apart due to the presence of one Tim Tebow in Gainesville, forcing a transfer to College Park as he became a Maryland Terp for three seasons.

But Portis saw the same problem occur at Maryland as he did at Florida, where he could not break the depth chart in 2008 due to Chris Turner stepping up as the starter for the Terps.

This was after missing all of 2006 sitting out because of the transfer to Maryland. And in 2007, things seemed to get even worse for Portis, as a small but dumb decision on his part at the time may have cost him at chances at playing football for good.

Portis was caught cheating on a pop quiz while enrolled at College Park, and ultimately suspended for the year for violating the school’s Honor Code policy.

“Everyone knows about it. At Maryland, when I was there, it was a ten-point pop quiz. I made a mistake, and happened to copy someone else’s answer. Everybody moves on, but the school decided to suspend me for the whole year, but not the NCAA.”

With a ten point quiz, everyone makes a mistake. Something major happened to me on my part, and I moved on from it.”

And he expects the NFL scouts at the Combine will also ask him about his mistakes at Maryland the same way Forrester asked him about it on “The Morning Reaction.”

And Portis knows that he has to face it head-on the same way he would face an opposing defensive lineman barreling down on him.

“I feel like if you’re just open and honest about off the field things, it will take care of itself,” Portis said.

And so far, since his departure from Maryland, he has been forthright about what happened. But in order to make the NFL, you have to prove that you can play football too.

But most schools wouldn’t take a flier on a guy jettisoned from two Division-I programs, let alone one that barely played. So instead, Portis had to eat “humble pie” and and try and make an impression on NFL scouts at the Division-II level.

Which is what he did.

Portis was ultimately  invited to the NFL Combine mostly because of his play for the two seasons at the University of California in Pennsylvania, a Division-II program.

In those two years as a Vulcan, he had 69 passing touchdowns, a Cal U record. His 6,072 career passing yards were good for fourth best in school history.

He becomes the first ever player from the school to be invited to the biggest step in the process of becoming an NFL player.

Portis was actually eligible to come out for the NFL Draft after his first season as a Vulcan, but stayed on for a second year to boost his draft status.

Doing so helped become  ranked as the second-best Division-II quarterback prospect trying to make an NFL squad.

“It’s been a journey,” Portis said. I went to Florida, Maryland, now I’m at Cal U. It’s been a difficult road, but I’m finally here. God has given me perseverance, and I continue to work hard and continue to live my dream.”

In reality, Portis said the competition was challenging at that “subdivision” of college football, and while it definitely wasn’t like playing in the ACC or the SEC, it still tested his skills.

“The competition obviously at the D-II level is a little bit lower,” Portis said.  ” The atmosphere may not be as big, but D-II is still some pretty good competition.”

And even before his invitation to next week’s NFL combine, he has already had his NFL-cousin, Clinton Portis, giving him advice on how best to direct his preparation toward making an NFL squad.

“I mean you guys have been around him when he was with Washington, you know he’s a straight forward guy,” Josh said of Clinton Portis. “You know, he definitely doesn’t play around with giving me advice. He’s just been telling me to stick it out and keep working, that my time will come. He’s been a great addition and help to me as I develop my career.”

Josh Portis said he hopes to have as long an NFL career as his cousin.

“Obviously he’s given me some confidence because he’s been at that level of play in the NFL for a long time..that level for a long time with the Redskins and the Broncos. He’s been there for nine years as a running back which is pretty good. He knows how to take care of his body how to be mentally prepared, and how to go out and get the job done on Sunday.”

Portis recently participated in the former NFL PA game, now known as the “Texas versus the Nation” game on February 5th showing off some of the NFL’s eventual rookie class prospects.

Portis was 7-of-17 for 80 yards, helping the Texas team beat the Nation, 13-7.

In the game, he got a lot of comparisons based on his play and physical attributes.

“Players were telling me, “Oh, you’re like another Mike Vick. Big, fast, strong arm, move out of the pocket, pocket awareness…but I want to be a quarterback who sits in the pocket for a little awhile and run when I need to. So I kind of see myself as a Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick late in his career.

“I’m like a Tom Brady and a Vince Young. The kind of QB who moves around and throws the ball first…Aaron Rodgers is another late in his career and he has won a Super Bowl. He’s not really an actual athletic quarterback, but he has some mobility around the pocket so he can make some throws.”

But maybe Portis’ biggest asset so far other than his physical skills?

His perseverance to keep going and rebounding after making some dumb decisions in his life.

“I mean, just not giving up on your dreams, keep working hard…God has a role for you at the end of the day. You just have to believe in him and you have to work and strive for your success.”

Glenn Clark will check Josh Portis out next week at the NFL Combine! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

And continue to follow all of Josh’s exploits at his website!


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Terps who used Ralph Friedgen’s guidance toward NFL career weigh in on former coach

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Terps who used Ralph Friedgen’s guidance toward NFL career weigh in on former coach

Posted on 31 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

Ralph Friedgen

Ralph Friedgen spent 10 years as coach of the Maryland Terrapins and saw numerous student-athletes, football players, and young men pass through his program and move on to become better, more driven individuals-and some who went on to make a career of playing football in the NFL.

He touched countless lives in College Park, returning to his alma mater in 2001 and starting his coaching career rebuilding a struggling program with an outright ACC Title, a 10-2 record, and an Orange Bowl appearance.

He earned ACC Coach of the Year his first year at Maryland.

His last season came this year in 2010 and despite an 8-4 record and his second ACC Coach of the Year award, Friedgen was shown the door by the new athletic department staff headed by AD Kevin Anderson, with his last game Wednesday in the Terps 51-20 victory over ECU in the Military Bowl.

Friedgen left Maryland on top in the fashion many of Terps nation wanted to see him leave, and several of his former players who used his teachings to move on to the NFL joined WNST Thursday and Friday as a send-off to Coach Friedgen and to wish him the best.

Nolan Carroll

“I am glad for the win,” Dolphins CB and KR Nolan Carroll said, who spent 2005-2009 in College Park. “What I heard was that ECU had a very good offense. You know, they had a very good team. For them to come out the way they did, and put up so many points, was phenomenal. It’s the best way for him to leave on such a good note.”

Moise Fokou

Another former Terp, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Moise Fokou-who joined Rex Thursday on “The Afternoon Drive”-said that the win against the Pirates definitely caps off a great resume by Coach Friedgen at Maryland.

“I feel like before he got there, they definitely had talent but I felt with Friedgen coming in there and turning that program around…he showcased the talent that he had at that school and he did a great job recruiting and showing us off.”

“We’re just glad to be Terps and represent him in that fashion.”

Fokou was definitely confused as to why the new administration would relieve not only a former alumni who went 75-50 during his time in College Park, but a guy that brought stability to a program that had only one winning season and no bowl appearances in the ten years before he took the sidelines.

“Honestly, I don’t know really know what’s going on with their program. Why they are forcing him out…I just hope that they know what they’re doing because I’m telling you right now that they’re losing a great head coach,” Fokou said.

Several other players echoed Fokou’s thoughts, including former Terp running back Lance Ball, who currently is a Denver Bronco after spending 2003-2007 in a Terps uniform.

Lance Ball

Ball was coached by the “Fridge”  before  finding his way into the NFL bouncing around with the St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts squads.

Ball believes it was Friedgen’s vast knowledge of the offensive side of the ball that garnered him attention at the NFL level-as well as guys like former first-round picks in Darius Heyward-Bey and tight end Vernon Davis.

“I think Coach Friedgen coming from a pro-style offense…he was able to give us insight on what teams look for and if we’re ready or not to leave.”

Fokou was also certain that while Friedgen may have been rudely shown the door, his former coach will not be a guy to hold a grudge and will not hold it against his former players and friends at the university.

“I’m so happy he went out with a bang,” Fokou said. “but I guarantee he will be back especially with the alumni coming out of the school.”

“I was one of the guys who he scouted and he gave me a full scholarship the following year. He’s done a tremendous job up there as soon as he stepped foot on campus. He turned that program around and it’s hard to see a guy like that go, but he will be missed.”

Friedgen said after the Military Bowl victory at RFK Stadium Wednesday that he will always have “three daughters and 120 sons.”

And his family is definitely bigger than those 123 people he touched this year having been coaching the Terps  for a decade.

“Ralph is a good guy,” Ball told Thyrl Nelson. “I know when we were I was there, we won a lot of games. We were quite successful; it’s just unfortunate that they went in another direction and he’s not the coach no more.”

“I haven’t contacted him yet cause there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on now, but within the next couple days I’ll give him a shout and see how’s he doing.”

All the former Terps WNST talked to said that their biggest and most fond memories of Friedgen is when he spent one-on-one time with them recruiting them, and those moments and time spent together made all the difference in the world.

“For me, it’s when he came to my house when he recruited me,” Carroll told Snider. “He looked my parents dead in the eye and he told them, ‘Hey look, your son’s education is going to come first’. That’s the first thing he preached about. He really didn’t go into athletics that much. He was strictly academics, and that’s what my folks liked a lot about him.”

“And he held true to his word. I got my education last fall and I ended up graduating in the Spring. And everything he said that he was gonna do for me, he ended up doing.”

Friedgen’s final press conference-which lasted twenty minutes Wednesday night-had the overall mood of a funeral at times as opposed to a glorious send-off.

But make no mistake. Just like former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer told Friedgen recently, there is life after football and Ball in particular sees leaving the sport and the opportunity to mentor kids as too big an opportunity to pass up on.

“He may take a little break,” Ball said. “But I don’t see it. Ralph has grown up around football and been around football. So I’m sure at one point he will get back to it.”

Fokou agreed.

“I definitely think he has a couple more years of coaching left,” Fokou said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he went back in the NFL. He kind of has that coaching mentality…kind of get it done at any cost.”

‘But I do see him coaching again in the future whether it’s in the NFL or in the colleges leagues.”

Ball is sad to see his coach go the wayside, but he does hope the program finds a guy that can pick up right where Friedgen left off.

“I just hope the guy that comes in is very serious about Maryland and the tradition that it brings. I think being a head coach at Maryland, you have to take on a lot of responsibility cause it’s such a great school and it holds so much tradition.”

Ralph Friedgen

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Terps and Ralph Friedgen even though he leaves College Park behind!

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The “Controversial Sports Personalities” of 2010 …..

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The “Controversial Sports Personalities” of 2010 …..

Posted on 16 December 2010 by Rex Snider

As we make our way into mid-December and the final weeks of the year, excitement starts to build with many people, young and old. From the anticipation (or stresses) of the holidays, to the culmination of another NFL season, many of us look forward to this part of our annual calendar.

In my own way, I look forward to this time of year, because I’m a “list” kinda guy …..

Be it BEST OF, WORST OF, MOST INTRIGUING, MOST OVERRATED, MOST POPULAR, MOST HATED and just about any related combination, I like compiling lists of my personal rankings regarding people and events of any given year.

Of course, my lists revolve around sports, in one context or another. From the famous to the infamous, and the champions to the chokers, I’ll give you the spin on how 2010 shakes out in my conflicted mind.

Today, we’ll begin with the “TEN MOST CONTROVERSIAL SPORTS PERSONALITIES OF THE YEAR” …..
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10) Lane Kiffin – The ultimate coaching mercenary, huh? Many of us were snookered into believing Kiffin was the sympathetic figure depicted in his dysfunctional ride with Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. Little did we know his loyalties would tend to run as deep, or shallow, as his former boss …..

Oct 16, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin gestures during the game against the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 48-14. Photo via Newscom

Earlier this year, Lane Kiffin deserted the University of Tennessee – the institution that gave him a second chance – on a whim to return to his coaching roots, at the University of Southern California. Kiffin garnered a lot of rightful criticism for switching jobs, midstream, while so many people, in Tennessee, depended on him.
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9) Cam Newton – Well, we all know this name, huh? Yet, a year ago at this time, only the hardcore college football fans really knew anything about Newton. Only in America …. can a sports personality rise from anonymity to celebrity, in the span of a few months.

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: 2010 Heisman Trophy candidate Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers speaks at a press conference at The New York Marriott Marquis on December 11, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

I suppose we should really be recognizing Cam’s father, Cecil, for being the “straw that stirred this combustible cocktail.” He obviously lobbied for money in exchange for his son’s services, and regardless of what the NCAA might be saying, most of us don’t really believe young Cam is blameless.

Hmmm …. how long will it take for him to surrender that trophy?

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Chris Pika

The 2010 NFL season has reached the three-quarter mark, and like any good game on Sundays, it’s usually the fourth quarter that decides success or failure.

It’s a chance to take stock of each conference after 13 weeks and 12 games with one-liners on each of the teams. Below are some stats, observations and conjecture as we look ahead to the final four weeks.

First, here is a look at the AFC by divisions. Records are through Week 13:

AFC East

New England Patriots (10-2): Patriots have won last four, including huge win over the Jets to solidfy their claim as AFC’s best team behind conference-best (+110) scoring differential; road to AFC title will go through Gillette Stadium and coach Bill Belichick.

New York Jets (9-3): Despite 3-1 stretch, Jets went from potentially being in line to host AFC title game to very vulnerable after shredding of New York’s vaunted D by the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins (6-6): Dolphins continue to confound with 5-1 road mark, but 1-5 home record — that will be main reason they will not make playoffs as well as offensive woes (-23 point differential).

Buffalo Bills (2-10): Bills finally saw results after 0-8 start with two straight victories, but close loss to Steelers and blowout defeat to Vikings has slowed Buffalo’s progress.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3): Steelers have grabbed choke-hold of AFC North after winning the war in Baltimore last week behind QB Ben Roethlisberger and stout defense; now Pittsburgh could host AFC Divisional Playoff at always-tough Heinz Field.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4): Only home loss of season so far to Steelers was costly as Ravens may have three straight playoff games on the road instead of one or two home games; predicted high-production offense has gone cold at bad times.

Cleveland Browns (5-7): Cleveland continues to be a “tough out” thanks to solid running game behind RB Peyton Hillis; if they get QB (and maybe head coach) situation settled in offseason, could be 2011 team to watch in AFC.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10): The wheels have completely come off the cart for one of the preseason favorites to win the division — nine-game losing streak may spell the end of the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5): Jaguars, after 3-1 stretch, find themselves on top in the division, despite worst point differential among all division leaders (-43) — only question is can they hold off slumping Colts?

Indianapolis Colts (6-6): Colts’ injuries have finally taken a toll; forget Peyton Manning for a moment, being in position of having to pass so much has allowed opponents to tee off in crucial situations — but Indy can still catch Jaguars for division title.

Houston Texans (5-7): Lack of strong starts have doomed Texans, 1-5 in their last six games — last chance for Houston (and maybe coach Gary Kubiak’s job) comes with Monday night visit by Ravens in Week 14.

Tennessee Titans (5-7): When you didn’t think anybody else could surpass Minnesota as NFL’s best soap opera, here comes the Titans; normally unflappable coach Jeff Fisher has had to deal with Vince Young, Randy Moss and owner Bud Adams in recent weeks.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): Chiefs seem to have control of the division after a three-game win streak and perfect 6-0 home mark; can they hold off the Raiders and Chargers over the final four weeks?

Oakland Raiders (6-6): Progress has been slowed by 3-2 mark in last five games, but 4-0 division record could be factor if they get help before Week 17 showdown at traditional rival Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers (6-6): Amazing how one loss changes things after blowout defeat by Raiders last week that stopped four-game win streak; season on the line vs. Chiefs this week.

Denver Broncos (3-9): A three-game losing streak coupled with Spygate-like scandal in London finally cost Josh McDaniels his coaching job; Eric Studesville gets his audition but the supporting cast is not there.

And now for the NFC by divisions:

NFC East

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4): The Eagles are tied for the division lead, but arguably have the NFC East’s toughest schedule left with two games vs. Dallas and one each against the Giants and Vikings — for what was originally expected to be a transition year, a lot is still on the table.

New York Giants (8-4): Giants are playing as well as any team in NFC right now, but head coach Tom Coughlin’s team must navigate Minnesota, Philadelphia and Green Bay the next three weeks to stay in the division and Wild Card mix.

Washington Redskins (5-7): The Redskins season has become a trainwreck as head coach Mike Shanahan has had to deal with several distractions, including DT Albert Haynesworth’s suspension for conduct detrimental; the Skins defense should be suspended as well, allowing the fifth-most points in the NFC.

Dallas Cowboys (4-8): The Cowboys have gotten off the deck to become a team no one wants to face down the stretch; Dallas could play spoiler in the NFC East and help Jason Garrett remove the interim coaching tag.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (9-3): The Bears have won five straight to hold the division lead by one game thanks to resurgent play by QB Jay Cutler and LB Brian Urlacher; Chicago has murderous final four weeks capped by Week 17 visit to Packers.

Green Bay Packers (8-4): Despite injuries, Packers are firmly in the playoff mix, but key Week 12 loss at Atlanta looms large as well as final three games against New England, Giants and Chicago — win those and Green Bay will have earned its postseason ticket.

Minnesota Vikings (5-7): A change in head coach to well-respected assistant Leslie Frazier has helped the mood in Minnesota, but the final four weeks will be all about Brett Favre’s literal limp to the finish of his career (I think).

Detroit Lions (2-10): Some of the strides made early in the season by the Lions have been erased by the current five-game losing streak; coach Jim Schwartz is still looking for consistent winning formula.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (10-2): The hottest team in the NFC with six straight wins, the Falcons may do something no Atlanta NFL team ever has — host the NFC Championship Game in January; but they have to get through Week 16 Monday Night game vs. Saints.

New Orleans Saints (9-3): The defending Super Bowl champions are playing like it for first time all season with a current five-game win streak as the Saints try to go stride-for-stride with the Falcons; back-to-back road contests at Baltimore and Atlanta in Weeks 15-16 are New Orleans’ key games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): The air has finally come out of the Buccaneers’ balloon with two straight losses, but Tampa Bay is just one game out of a Wild Card spot with favorable matchups in the next three weeks before Week 17 at Saints.

Carolina Panthers (1-11): The Panthers just want the season to be over, and the housecleaning will begin soon after starting with head coach John Fox; Panthers are a NFC-worst minus-153 in point differential.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (6-6): The Rams have quietly put themselves in position to make the playoffs out of a weak NFC West, but don’t mistake St. Louis as a weak team — QB Sam Bradford is one of the league’s feel-good stories of 2010, and division could come down to Week 17 tilt at Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks (6-6): The Seahawks are in position to capture the NFC West, but head coach Pete Carroll’s squad still has worst point differential among NFC teams with a winning record (-49); Week 17 vs. St. Louis could be the decider.

San Francisco 49ers (4-8): San Francisco not officially dead in NFC West race, but last gasp could come this Sunday vs. Seattle; if they win, they still have games vs. St. Louis and Arizona — teams they have already beaten in 2010.

Arizona Cardinals (3-9): Cardinals have gone south for the winter as they have lost seven straight and hold NFC’s second-worst point difference (-138), but have three winnable games in final four weeks.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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