Cutler Has to Play Given Situation

January 25, 2011

In Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, the story was not the Packers going to Super Bowl XLV, it was Jay Cutler.

Cutler did not play most of the second half with a knee injury.  It was revealed Monday that it was a sprain/tear of the MCL, depending on who you talk to.

Caleb Hanie, the third-string quarterback, led the Bears to a comeback that came short, not Cutler in the biggest game in his career.

It just adds to the general opinion of Cutler: a guy that is a ‘me’ player, not a ‘team’ player.

Most guys would not think twice about re-entering the game.  Slap a knee brace on it and let’s see if he could go.

Bears’ coach Lovie Smith came back to say that it was a team decision, not Cutler sitting out.  The team was afraid that Cutler could not protect himself on the field.

What angers fans is that there was no push of Cutler to return to the game.  There was not any taking away of the helmet, when he was told he wouldn’t return, he just sat on the end of the bench.

It just reminds you of his arch-nemisis, San Diego Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers, who played in a playoff game with a torn ACL.  I think Rivers has bragging rights again.

Cutler only has himself to blame for the negativity he receives in the press and fans.  A better attitude and a better mindset towards football would go a long way in people not calling Cutler a ‘wimp’ for his performance in this game.

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Early 2011 Gamecocks Schedule Preview

January 19, 2011

Those who know me best know that I can’t stand talking about college football after the National Championship game.  However, with the release of the South Carolina Gamecocks’ 2011 football schedule, it seems warranted.

On paper, some might say that the Gamecocks have one of the easier schedules that they have had in recent memory.  Look at it a little closer, and it is clear the road to return to the SEC Championship Game is not as easy.

The 2011 schedule for the Gamecocks is broken down into different segments.  The Gamecocks have stretches of travelling or playing at Williams-Brice Stadium.

South Carolina starts the season on the road its first two weeks.  A non-conference game in Charlotte against East Carolina will not be an easy season-opener, compared to previous seasons.  While the Pirates do not have the best defense, a win over the Gamecocks would be their equivalent of winning a national title.

The second week has the Gamecocks playing in their first conference game, travelling to Athens, Georgia to take on the Bulldogs.  Last season was an easy win, this season it will be a little tougher.  Georgia QB Aaron Murray has much more confidence after a rough game last year against South Carolina.

The Gamecocks will then start a stretch of four consecutive home games.  The first is a tough non-conference game against Navy.  Gamecocks fans do not have to be reminded of the close wins against teams who run the option, like the Midshipmen.

This is followed up by three conference games.  Vanderbilt is under another new head coach, and should be an easy game for South Carolina.

Next up is Auburn.  Auburn is losing a lot of key players from its 2011 National Championship team.  It will be interesting to see what Auburn will look like, and if Gene Chizik will bring a competitive team to the table.

The fourth home game in this stretch will be against Kentucky.  Last season, Kentucky came back in the 4th quarter to defeat a then 10th-ranked Gamecock team.  The Gamecocks will try to avenge last season’s loss, but the Wildcats always bring a tough fight.

The next three games will be the tests for the Gamecocks, which will see them travel to Starkville, Knoxville, and Fayetteville in a four-week stretch.  All three of these teams are going to be early season favorites in their respected divisions, and could be the difference between a great season and a good season for South Carolina.

Finally, the Gamecocks will end with three home games.  Florida will come in with a new coach, Will Muschamp, and an adjustment period for the Gators will be expected.

The schedule once again lobs South Carolina a curveball when The Citadel goes to Williams-Brice Stadium.  The last time South Carolina played The Citadel, they lost.

The season wraps up the same way it has for many years, with its annual game against Clemson.  Clemson will be trying to play for Dabo Swinney’s job, if he is still there.

On paper, it looks easy.  However, travel will prove the difference for South Carolina this season.  Inability to win on the road could prove detrimental to the Gamecocks attempt to return to Atlanta.

We will go much more in-depth as the 2011 season approaches as to who will win, and if the Gamecocks can return to Atlanta.

GAMECOCKS 2011 SCHEDULE

September 3rd – vs. East Carolina (game played in Charlotte)

September 10th – at Georgia

September 17th – vs. Navy

September 24th – vs. Vanderbilt

October 1st – vs. Auburn

October 8th – vs. Kentucky

October 15th – at Mississippi State

October 29th – at Tennessee

November 5th – at Arkansas

November 12th – vs. Florida

November 19th – vs. The Citadel

November 26th – vs. Clemson


Luck’s Return to School Sets Panthers Back

January 7, 2011

After a disappointing season for the Carolina Panthers, many fans were hoping the face of the franchise would come with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The Panthers have now fallen to 2-15 on the season.

Stanford QB Andrew Luck, considered the unanimous first pick, announced Thursday that he would return to Stanford for his senior season.  This news came as a shock, considering Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh has not announced his future plans.

After a season that Owner Jerry Richardson and the franchise was hoping to erase, the Luck decision adds insult to injury.  Luck’s future with the Panthers was suppose to be the kick-start of a new era of football in Charlotte, similar to the Falcons drafting Matt Ryan.

This is a surprise that Luck would announce his decision before Harbaugh’s announcement.  If Harbaugh was to leave for another job, it makes no sense for Luck to return one season, and potentially have to learn an entire new offense.  If Harbaugh returns, it sets Stanford as early picks to make the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.

As for what Carolina should do with the first pick, trading down to gain more picks seems like a logical action.  However, with Luck out, the pick is devalued.  There is always a team that over-pays to move up in the draft to get a great college player, who turns into a so-so NFL player.

If Carolina opts to keep its pick, look for the team to stay on the defensive side of the ball, much like their direction in the coaching search.  Look for the Panthers to closely examine Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers and Auburn DT Nick Fairley.  The team might also look at Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert and Georgia WR A.J. Green.

Unfortunately for Panthers’ fans, this means the Jimmy Clausen era will continue, at least one more year.