The NFL season began in earnest today with lots of storylines to follow: the return of Brett, the demise of Brady, the emegence of Burner Turner and the downfall of the house of Jaguars. But for me the greatest story is the huge win by my Chicago Bears. For the past, oh 20 years or so, the Bears have been plagued by a revolving array of terrible quarterbacks and rookie running back draft picks that are destined for failure. But tonight, for one night, both positions looked to have some promise. Rookie running back Matt Forte brought his Tulane Green Wave knowledge to Indianapolis and put on a show that Rashaan Salaam, Cedric Benson, Curtis Enis and others could never have imagined. His running helped propel a victory that was as large as it was surprising. But nothing quite matched the sight of Kyle Orton being not only sober, but effective on multiple drives. My fantasy team had the Colts as the starting defense, largely due to Orton….but Kyle systematically drove the Bears down the field on multiple occasions and looked like a solid, if not spectacular quarterback. The defense is so good that we just need the offense not to be pathetic. Maybe, just maybe, we now can make that happen.
To the news…..
(1): The story of the weekend continues to be the aftermath of Boogate 2008. Rich Brooks again expressed his displeasure at the occurrence and it has been hotly debated throughout the message board land. While the act still strikes me as ridiculous, its effect is clear….none. Both Randall Cobb and Mike Hartline will play next week against Middle Tennessee State (who looms much larger after its defeat of Maryland this week) and it will not be known until later in the week who will get the starting nod. Hartline’s confidence is issue #1 at this point, as the young man seeks to bounce back from what had to be a hard day for him. If the UK fans want to have a bit of redemption, they will give the young man a standing ovation when he takes the field next week.
(2): In other football news, the team left with few major injuries, which makes two consecutive games with that good fortune. Moncell Allen still is recovering from his foot injury on the last play and it will be known on Monday whether he will have to miss any time. It also looks as if Tony Dixon may be on a bit of a short leash this week as his disappointing play is starting to cause some worry. With Locke and Smith waiting in the wings, Dixon needs a good performance to keep his current status as the #1 back.
(3): With all the various pickup game reports (including mine below), there has been a great deal of analysis of how the various Cats look at this point. However for me, a side story to watch from the day may be the play of Elisha Justice (who I am predisposed to like as he shares his first name with my grandfather), a point guard who plays for Shelby Valley High School who at times dazzled on Saturday. The young man played with no fear and although he is short, he handles the ball well and made a couple of great plays during the games. He was one of only a couple of recruits there and his game made some turn their hands. The young man attended Florida’s Elite Camp this year and is being recruited by John Pelphrey at Arkansas. Keep this kid in mind and watch the Junior to be this year…..I think you will be hearing more from him very soon.
(4): After all the talk of moving Midnight Madness to help with recruiting visits, it looks as if John Wall may not visit UK after all. Wall told the Raleigh News and Observer that four of his visits were set and that he would take one more…..which could either be UK, Texas, Duke or other schools. This info contradicts some earlier reports that he was coming to UK the weekend of the 10th, when Midnight Madness is currently scheduled to be held. The only thing that has become clear about Wall for the last few months is that there is nothing about him that can be set in stone. He moves at his own pace and decisions can literally reverse themselves from one hour to the next. So the Cats may see Wall and they may not, and it is likely that even that decision will reverse a few more times over the next few weeks. Daniel Orton is however still scheduled to appear.
(5): Nice start to the announcing career of Tim Couch on Saturday as he provided the color commentary for the BBSN. I spoke with Couch before the game and he was very prepared and what I heard of him on Saturday suggested he could have a future in the business. While he was saddled with the human nap, Rob Bromley, Couch still provided good analysis and was able to make interesting reads on the game situations. Nice to see the Eastern Kentuckian doing well.
We will have more throughout the day, including some tidbits from on the field Saturday, an early look at all things MTSU and the newest UK “Fan of the Day”. Stay tuned….