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Deke Bellavia's Blog Page

Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke  Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM

Email:  bigchief@wwl.com
Posts from September 2013


Deke's Game Day preview: Dolphins vs. Saints
Who are the Miami Dolphins?

Miami is 3-0 because…well, the simple answer is that they won all their games.  But Miami has been playing good football.  To be 3-0 in the NFL is no easy task.  And Miami has an impressive road win to their credit with a 24-20 win over the Colts in week two.

The Dolphins are getting solid play from second year QB Ryan Tannehill.  Hill engineered a 13 play 75 yard drive that ended with him tossing an eight yard TD pass to Dion Sims.  Now the Dolphins are trying to start the season 4-0 for the first time since 1995.

Tannehill shined in the Dolphins wins over the Colts and Falcons as the young signal caller had a QB rating of 107.4 against Indianapolis followed up by a 94.5 passer rating in the 27-23 win over Atlanta.

Miami has two legit wide receivers in Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace.  Wallace has become one of the league’s top deep threats while Hartline is steadily movingup in the Dolphins record books.  Hartline leads Miami with 18 grabs for 238 yards with two Td’s this season.

Lamar Miller leads the Dolphins in rushing.  Miller has carried the ball 32 times for 134 yards with one score and a average of 4.2 yards per carry.  The Dolphins have struggled to move the ball on the ground in their first three games averaging just 70.3 yards per game which ranks 28th in the NFL.

Interesting Saints Numbers

Who would have thunk it?  The Saints defense is grabbing all the headlines right now.  Coach Rob Ryan has completely transformed the Saints defense in a hand of months.  New Orleans is holding their opponents to less than 13 points per game and foes are not getting to the 300 yard mark in total offense on average.  

The Saints defense is much better in the two major stats:  scoring defense and third down percentage.  And as expected with a Rob Ryan coached defense, the Saints are being very aggressive when it comes to getting after the QB.

The Saints D has sacked or put opponents under duress on 29.5 percent of drop backs this season, sixth in the NFL. Those numbers are a welcomed by the Who Dat Nation, as last season the Saints did not pressure the opposing QB on a consistent basis.  

And with the match-up this week facing a Dolphins QB (Ryan Tannehill) that has been sacked 14 times in three games, the Saints should be able to harass Tannehill early and often.  

Over on offense the Saints looked like they got their running game on track last week in the second half of their 31-7 win over the Cardinals.  New Orleans was embarrassed in the first half with negative 6 yards rushing.  But in the second half the Saints rushed for 110 yards, finishing with 104 yards on the ground in just one half of football.  

RB Khiry Robinson took full advantage of his chance last week.  Robinson averaged a Saints season high 9.5 yards per carry.  It’s obvious that the Saints need a spark in their backfield.  And Robinson could be the guy to give the Saints a lift.  It will be interesting to see moving forward how Robinson figures into the Saints running game.  

And is there a hotter non-QB offensive player in the league than Saints TE Jimmy Graham?  JG is rolling right now.  Jimmy has hauled in 23 receptions for 358 yards and four scores.  Jimmy is averaging 15.6 yards per reception and he has 19 grabs in the last two games.  

Simply put, there are not many players in this league that can cover a player the caliber of Jimmy Graham.  

What they are saying

Dolphins Coach Joe Philbin on Coach Rob Ryan and the Saints Defense
 

“Coach Ryan is doing an excellent job. They are very multiple as you mentioned, sometimes it looks like a 3-4, sometimes it looks like a 4-3.  He has bear defense in there. He is doing an excellent job. One thing you see on the tape is they pursue well to the football, their defensive backs are playing well, their pass rush is very, very good, their two ends are playing excellent, and they cover guys down field and they tackle. It is kind of good ole’ fashion defense.  I don’t know if there is anything elaborate, but they are playing really well.”

Miami WR Mike Wallace on facing former High School and Pittsburgh Steelers teammate and current Saints CB Kennan Lewis.

“It’s going to be a little different. This is the first time I’m going to play against Keenan since we were younger, about seven or eight years old. I’ve known him since we were so small, about five or six years old. I haven’t played against Keenan since we were young like that. I’ve always been on his team, so this is a little different. I’m excited. I’m up for the challenge (and) I know he’s up for the challenge, so it’s going to be a good time.”

Saints Coach Sean Payton on New Orleans and Miami and their rushing attacks
 

“I don’t know that that’s the case. I would say this: number one, these statistical rankings after week three are like your English grade after your first quiz. We have a lot ahead of us that I’m sure Miami just as well as New Orleans hopes to improve on in those areas. I think being plus (two) in the turnover/takeaway department has been important. The third down numbers have been important. It’s really been a handful of reasons that you’re able to win games, but it’s important to recognize, ‘Hey, this is our record. But, man, there’s a lot of things that we have to get better at.’ I think that is the most important mindset the player has to have. We are not by any means a finished product. We’ve got a lot we’ve got to work on. Certainly the rules have adjusted to benefit elements of the passing game, and yet you watch a game or you see the film of a game last night where San Francisco did a great job rushing the football, and when you’re able to do that you control the game. That’s important.”

The Big Chief’s Final Analysis

Folks, the Saints should win this game.  That is not in any way taking the Dolphins lightly or being disrespectful, but New Orleans has been dominant in prime time under Sean Payton.  The Saints could very well the lone undefeated team in the NFC when this game is played as I think the Bears and Seahawks will have a tough time winning on the road this week at Detroit and Houston.  

New Orleans looks like they are ready to take the next step forward in being a consistent rushing team on offense.  And the Saints Defense is playing lights out.  Folks when you’re playing defense like the Saints are, you can beat anyone!  Please believe it.  

New Orleans is 10-2 on MNF under Sean Payton and they have won their last eight MNF games by an average of 16 points.  Lay the 6 ½ points and watch the Black and Gold improve to 4-0.

The Big Chief says:   New Orleans 30 Miami 16

Miami Dolphins (3-0) vs New Orleans Saints (3-0)
Monday September 30, 7:30 Kickoff WWL Radio
Last week’s results:  New Orleans beat Arizona 31-7 and Miami beat Atlanta 27-23
Series History:  The Dolphins lead the series 6-4 in ten previous meetings

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Deke: What does LSU's Auburn victory mean vs. Georgia?
Once again, the LSU Tigers looked like a top ten team in the first stages of the game.  LSU raced out to what looked to be a commanding 21-0 lead over Auburn, scoring 14 points in 56 seconds in their 35-21 win over the visiting plainsmen.  Shaq was in the house, a remembrance of the classic earthquake game took place...I mean, the atmosphere was alright!
 
LSU has now outscored their opponents 62-3 in the first quarter of games this season.  And after allowing an average of 12 points to their opponents in the second quarter, the Tigers did not allow a single point in the second quarter of Sunday's game. 
 
Jeremy Hill rushed for 140 yards and two Td’s in the first two quarters of the game.  LSU looked good.  But then?  Well, you tell me.  Was it that LSU let up off the pedal?  Or did Auburn play until the final horn sounded?  Regardless of how you answer that question, this is what happened.  After running 37 plays for just 104 yards with no points in the first half of the game, the Auburn Tigers offense dominated in the second half.
 
Auburn could muster only 2.8 yards per play in the first half.  But then the Plainsmen, Tigers, War Eagles, whatever it is they want to be called, came to life and went to work.  Auburn ran 48 plays, gained 333 yards, and averaged a whopping 6.9 yards per play in the second half.  And the Tigers scored 21 points and made the LSU Tigers work every second in the second half.
 
Auburn exposed more weaknesses in the LSU defense.   And the LSU Tigers Secondary gave up several big passes against a QB that is not as nearly as good as the one they will see next Saturday between the hedges.  The LSU defense failed to get any type of consistent pass rush against Auburn’s Nick Marshall.  In fact, in 33 pass attempts, Tiger defenders only had two QB hurries and one sack.  Now I ask you, what do you think will happen if Aaron Murray has that much time?
 
Auburn RB Tre Mason gashed the Tigers for 132 yards and two scores, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, while WR Sammie Coates hauled in four receptions for 139 yards with an average of 34.8 yards per grab.  But as they say, in football a win is a win.  And LSU beat Auburn 35-21.
 
Now LSU's toughest game to date happens this Saturday as the Bayou Bengals head to Athens to battle another team that did not look so good.  Yes, the Bulldogs of UGA found themselves tied at 21 apiece in the third quarter against North Texas, a game in which UNT got two scores on Special Teams.  UGA went on to beat 45-21.  So, will the real Tigers and real Bulldogs come out to play this Saturday?  Will Zach outshine the SEC’s leading passer the last three seasons in a much-anticipated game that pits former teammates when Mettenberger leads his Tigers into battle against Murray and his Bulldogs?
 
I guess we will see in a few days.  But as far as Sunday's game against Auburn is concerned, LSU is a team that has a lot of things to get fixed.  And if they plan on being undefeated when they face Alabama in November, the LSU Tigers have about six days to fix their problems.
 
Who are the Georgia Bulldogs? 
 
Georgia is 2-1 and 1-0 in SEC play.  Georgia has wins against South Carolina and North Texas, and the Dogs' lone loss came in the first week of the season when they suffered a 38-35 setback to #3 Clemson.  The Bulldogs are 7th in the nation in total offense, with an average of 574 yards per game.  The Bulldogs have the #1 passer in the SEC when it comes to efficiency.
 
QB Aaron Murray is one of the best QB's in the nation.  Murray currently averages 346.7 yards passing per game.  Murray has completed 59 of 82 pass attempts for 1,040 yards with seven touchdowns.  The Bulldogs also have the SEC's leading rusher in RB Todd Gurley.
 
Gurley has rushed for 377 yards for an average of 125.7 yards per game.  Gurley has scored four TD's this season and he averages six yards per carry.  LSU and Georgia have met 29 times, with the first meeting taking place way back in 1928.  LSU leads the series 16-12-1.  LSU and Georgia have met three times in the SEC Title Game.  Georgia Coach Mark Richt is 3-4 versus LSU.  The Tigers are currently ranked #6 while UGA's highest ranked is #9.  Kickoff is set for 2:30PM and the game will air on CBS. 
 
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Big Chief's NFL Top 10 Week #4
Ok folks we are now moving into separation territory.  What that means is we are starting to see which teams are revealing themselves as Super Bowl Contenders and what teams are still in “find out” mode… meaning we are yet to find out about so-called playoff-caliber teams.

Down South, an undefeated showdown takes place in the Big Easy, the Monsters of the Midway are for real, the Sea Birds are still the best and the Steelers and Giants are a combined 0-6.  Who would have thought that?  Let’s take a look at my top ten for the fourth week of the 2013 NFL Season.

1.  Seattle Seahawks (3-0) – Right now it looks like the Seahawks are the class of the NFL.  The biggest thing with this team is that they need home field to get to the Super Bowl.  It might be up to the Saints and Bears to keep that from happening.  And the first loss of the season is more likely than not this week in the H-Town.  Last week beat Jacksonville 45-17 / this week @ Houston.

2Denver Broncos (3-0) – The Horses look like the class of the AFC right now.  But folks the ghost of NFL past post seasons have always haunted Mr. Manning.  Mr. Peyton Manning, that is.  We shall see.  Last week beat Oakland 37-21 / this week vs Philadelphia.

3New Orleans Saints (3-0) – Amazing!  How can the Saints defense be one of the best in the league after being the worst in league history a year ago?  Does coaching make that much of a difference?  Rob Ryan has!  Don’t let these Who Dats get home field.  If they do it’s off to the Big Apple they shall go.  You better ask somebody!  Last week beat Arizona 31-7 / this week vs Miami.

4Chicago Bears (3-0) – If only Lovie Smith could have had this offense he would still be employed in Chicago.  Folks, the Bears are for real.  Watch out this week as a pretty good Lions Team in Motown is ready and waiting.  Last week beat Pittsburgh 40-23 / this week @ Detroit.

5New England Patriots (3-0) – The Patriots scored 17 second quarter points in a 23-3 win over Tampa Bay.  Now the Patriots look as if they have some competition in the AFC East in the fast swimming Dolphins.  But this week the Patriots as well as the Who Dat Nation is pulling hard for Tom and the hoody!  Last week beat Tampa Bay 23-3 / this week @ Atlanta.

6Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) – Say what you want, but the Chiefs might be the best match-up to derail the red hot Broncos.  KC can get after the QB, they have shut down CB’s, and there coach ain’t scared of nutin’!  I’m happy for the KC Fans.  After all, the man that coined the words “Super Bowl” once owned the Chiefs.  Hell, least they deserve is a winning team.  Right?  Last week beat Philadelphia 26-16 / this week vs NY Giants.

7Miami Dolphins (3-0) – The Fins are as good as they’ve been in a long time.  QB Ryan Tannehill is maturing at a fast rate and the Dolphins have a very good defense.  A road win this week over New Orleans would serve notice to the rest of the NFL that Miami is the real deal.  Last week beat Atlanta 27-23 / this week @ New Orleans.

8Indianapolis Colts (2-1) – I’m telling you, this team is good.  I saw the Colts defense shut down the 49ers for four quarters.  And now with the addition of Trent Richardson, the Colts look like they are a more complete team.  Look out AFC another Super Contender has arrived and it took them less than two seasons post Manning to do so.  Last week beat San Francisco 27-7 / this week @ Jacksonville.

9Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – The Purple Birds bounced the Texans 30-9.  Baltimore looks as if they have one legit threat in their own division.  And for the first time in a long time it’s not the Steelers.  I think the Ravens will once again have a say in which AFC Team makes it to the Super Bowl.  Last week beat Houston 30-9 / this week @ Buffalo.

10.   Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) – The Bengals came up big with a come from behind win over a very good Green Bay Team.  The Bengals got after QB Aaron Rodgers and the Cats defense did a number all day long on the Cheese Heads.  Could this be the year the Bengals make a deep run?  Maybe, possibly, probably?  Last week beat Green Bay 34-30 / this week @ Cleveland.
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Big Chief's Game Day Saints vs. Cardinals preview
Arizona Cardinals (1-1) vs New Orleans Saints (2-0)
Sunday September 22, Noon Kickoff Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Last week’s results:  New Orleans beat Tampa Bay 16-14 and Arizona beat Detroit 25-21.  The Cardinals used a seven play, 61 yard drive in 2:29 to take a 25-21 lead over the visiting Lions.  Arizona scored the go-ahead points with just two minutes left in their game last week against the Lions.  One could argue that the Cardinals could be and should be 2-0 on the season.

Arizona took a 24-13 led over the Rams in the first week of the season only to see the Rams close out the game on a 14-0 run.  Arizona started the 2012 season 4-0 only to lose their 11 of last 12 games of the regular season to finish with a 5-11 record.

Series History:  The Saints have played the Cardinals 26 times with the Cardinals owning a 14-13 advantage against the Black and Gold.  The last time the teams met was back in 2010 when Arizona beat New Orleans 30-20 in Arizona.  The two have met 26 times in the regular season and once in the playoffs.  After the 2009 regular season the Saints opened the post season with a 45-14 blowout win over Arizona in the NFC Divisional playoffs. 

Arizona tidbits

New “Arians” out there:  He led the Colts to a surprising 11 win regular season in 2012 and an AFC playoff berth and then became the Head Coach of the Cardinals.  Bruce Arians was named the NFL Coach of the Year last season as well.  Did you know that Coach Arians was the Saints TE Coach under then Saints Head Coach Jim Mora?  Me neither.  I read it in the Cardinals' game notes. 

Turnover in the desert:  Over the course of the last few seasons there has been a lot of turnover in Arizona in the form of players.  There will be 17 new starting players on the Cardinals Roster since the last time the Saints played Arizona.  And only 11 current members on the Arizona Roster where on the team when the teams last played during the 2010 season. 

Down from the Bayou

The Honey Badger, LB Kevin Minter and the multi-talented Patrick Peterson are all former LSU players who are on the Cardinals Roster.  Minter is injured and may not play, Peterson is coming off a game in which he more than had his hands full in covering Lions WR Calvin Johnson and Mathieu made the game saving tackle in the Cards 25-21 win over Detroit last weekend in the desert. 

Other Louisiana connections from the Cardinals include former Cards great and former Southern University Coach Stump Mitchell.  Mitchell was fired after just two games in 2012 at Southern and now he is the RB’s coach for Arizona.
Cardinals assistant OL Coach Larry Zierlein coached at both LSU and Tulane in the 1990’s, Arizona Special Teams Coordinator Amos Jones once coached at Tulane, QB’s Coach Freddie Kitchens was at LSU in 2000, Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowels was at Grambling State in the late 90’s.

Master P!  No other player in the NFL has been on the field more than Arizona’s Patrick Peterson.  The former LSU Tiger has been on the field for 125 plays, the most in the league.  Double P has 118 of the Cardinals 119 defensive snaps to his credit and Peterson has also been a part of seven offensive snaps.  Look for this talented young star to play all over the field again Sunday in the dome.
 
Saints notes

Maintain Defense, maintain!   The Saints Defense has been outstanding the first two weeks this season.  Teams are not converting on third down, the Saints are allowing only 15 points per game and the defense has made game saving and game changing plays in two weeks as well.

“We just want to get better each time we step on the field,” said Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan.  If the Saints Defense can maintain their current play, the Saints stand to win a lot of games this season.  And I mean a lot!

On the run!  The Saints have shown commitment to running the football.  But their efforts have yet to yield anything significant.  “I thought there was improvement.  They graded out well,” said Coach Sean Payton when asked how his O-Line did in the team’s 16-14 win over Tampa Bay.

However the Saints have averaged just 76.5 rushing yards in their first two games. And the guy that is supposed to play the role of main RB, Mark Ingram is averaging less than two yards per carry.

Folks you don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford to know that something is not working.  The Saints, I do believe will continue to try and pound the football.  But if better numbers are not achieved, looking elsewhere for production coming out of the backfield will be necessary. 

Early leader board:  The Saints would like to get off to a fast start against the Cardinals.  Yes we hear that every week.  But this time around the Saints would like to get 7 instead of three on their first possession.

New Orleans had a nice opening drive last week but failed to cash in with a TD instead calling on K Garrett Hartley for a Field Goal.  And yes, the Black and Gold could really be looking pretty after just three weeks into the season.
If Tampa loses at NE, the NY Giants beat Carolina and Miami beats Atlanta the Saints could be 3-0 with a solid distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC South.

Get into the Zone.  The End Zone:  New Orleans is most dangerous when their offense puts pressure on opposing teams to keep up.  In order for this to happen the Saints have to score in the Red Zone.

Last week New Orleans was 0-4 in the Red Zone.  That’s not good.  The Saints are 1-7 in the Red Zone this season.  I’d say it’s time to score some TD’s.  Wouldn’t you?
 
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis

The oddsmakers have the Saints as a 7 ½ point favorite with the over/under at 48 ½.  New Orleans has to get out of their offensive funk eventually, right?  Why not this week?  Well, I think it will be harder to get out of the rushing funk this week than the previous two.

The Cards have some good defensive play makers and they have been salty against the run allowing only 58 yards per game.  I see the Saints struggling some again to get production on the ground and if that is the case the Red Zone trips will be very key in this game.

The Saints can’t keep kicking field goals.  They need Td’s.  I like the Saints at home but Arizona is not a bad team.  In fact the Cardinals should be 2-0.  In a tight one I say New Orleans 27 Arizona 21

 What they are saying

Arizona Cardinals CB #21 Patrick Peterson on the Saints Offense 

“We see that these guys are very explosive there in the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome. As a defense, we have to seize the moment because they come out so fiery in the first quarter and they like to move the ball and get a lot of plays in and take their shots. As a defense, we have to seize those moments. We know those guys are going to move the ball; we want to do our best job to try and contain that. We want to slow down their big play ability guys. We know that they’re going to take those shots. We can’t give up those big plays, but the whole key to their offense, which everyone knows, is Drew Brees. I believe that if you can get to him and harass him a little bit, although he’s a great quarterback, a lot of quarterbacks don’t like to get hit. If we can get a couple of hits on him, rattle him up a little bit, we don’t necessarily have to get sacks but if we get some clean hits and let him know that we’re there, I think we’ll have a productive day, especially in the back end, not giving him the opportunity to set his feet and scan the field and pick us apart.”
 
Saints Coach Sean Payton on Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu making the transition from CFB to the NFL.

 “He’s done very well his first year. On tape, he has very good instincts. I know that is something that served him well when he played at LSU, and it’s also evident now on pro tape. You never know how quickly a player is going to be inserted into a lineup, but he’s fit in their nickel scheme very well. He’s very confident, he has good ball skills, he’s very smart on the field, and you can see that on tape.”
 
Saints QB #9 Drew Brees on how the play of the Saints Defense helps the Saints Offense
 
 “Yeah, it is.  What it does, in the game the other day, the defense played phenomenal.  The only two touchdowns they scored were from two turnovers and that’s when we give them the ball deep in our territory on one and they run one back from a touch down.  At the end of the day, you say our defense didn’t give up any points.  Those were all points that I gave up for that matter.  I feel terrible about that.  But yeah, when the defense is playing like that, you feed off that, especially when they got us two turnovers around midfield.  You feel like you are going to take those and get points immediately.  That is complimentary football at its best, where you are feeding off their emotion, their success, their ability to take the ball away and those kind of things.  You are capitalizing on those and in turn I think that feeds them.  When we are moving the ball on offense and sustaining drives and giving them rest and scoring points at the end of it, I know they get charged up too.”
 
 Saints Coach Sean Payton on Arizona DB Patrick Peterson
 
“He’s explosive so we need to have a game plan in special teams devoted just to punt coverage.  Fortunately, Thomas (Morstead) is one of the better punters in this league and he understands distance, hang time, and location are critical.  It is always easy to say, hey, let’s kick the ball to the sideline, but having to come off your foot where you want to go with it directionally is a skillset.  I think that is something he is very good at and it’s going to be important in this game.”
 
 
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Big Chief's CFB Top 10 #5
Two big games take place this week in the mighty SEC.  Are the Rebels legit?  How can Mr. Mettenberger handle the pressure on the road between the hedges in Athens.  And will the Ducks continue to quack at such a loud volume all season long?  As usual the SEC highlights this week’s top ten!

1.       Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) – Ok the Tide’s schedule is not nearly as tough as some other teams in the SEC.  With that said, this week Alabama has a legit opponent in the upstart Rebels from Ole Miss.  Right?  I guess we shall see!   Last week beat Colorado State 31-6 / this week vs Ole Miss.   

2.       Oregon Ducks (3-0) – Get yo quack on!  The Ducks are well rested and check this out.  Oregon rushes for 355 yards per game, they pass for 316 every game as well. And Oregon averages 61.3 scoring points per game.  Yes these Ducks average margin of victory is 52 points.  Could this be the year of the Ducks?  Possibly!  Pac 12 play opens this week.  Last week off / this week vs Cal.

3.       Clemson Tigers (3-0) – The Tigers shrugged off a slow start to beat the Wolf Pack 26-14.  QB Tajh Boyd threw three Td passes including two of those to Martavis Bryant.  Bryant has become one of the best WR’s in the country.  The 6-5 speedster is a tough match-up for anyone.  Last week beat NC State 26-14 / this week vs Wake Forest.

4.       Stanford Cardinal (3-0) – Stanford was supposed to be tested by the Sun Devils.  Notice I said supposed to be.  The
Cardinal had a 29-0 lead at halftime and they made it look rather easy.  Folks call me and ask why do I talk about Stanford.  I don’t get upset.  I just tell them google it and see for yourself.  Right now there are only two legit football programs in the Pac-12.  Stanford is one of them for sure!  Last week beat Arizona State 42-28 / this week @ Washington State.

5.       Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) – QB Kenny Guiton was 24-of-34 for 215 yards and 6 TD’s.  And RB Ezekiel Elliot gashed the Rattlers with an average 11.6 yards per rush.  Now what looks like a decent test comes to town as the Badgers of Madison are next on the schedule.  Last week beat Florida A&M 76-0 / this week vs Wisconsin.

6.       LSU Tigers (4-0) – LSU blasted their way to a 21-0 early lead over the other Tigers from the West.  LSU scored on three of their first four drives in the game.  RB Jeremy Hill had 140 yards rushing.  With over 12 minutes left in the first half.  But then the Tigers from BR fell asleep or either the Tigers from the Plains kept on playing.  You decide.  LSU better shore up their defensive woes or it could be trouble this week.  Can a Tiger scar a slobbering mouthed Bulldog?  We gonna find out this week!  Last week beat Auburn 35-21 / this week @ Georgia.

7.       Louisville Cardinals (4-0) – The Teddy B show rolls on as last week Mr. Bridgewater threw for 4 Td’s in a blowout win over FI.  The Cardinals will have a lot of wins and Teddy will have monster numbers but is it going to be enough to matter?  Most think not!  Last week beat Florida International 72-0 / this week @ Temple.

8.       Texas A&M Aggies (3-1) – Johnny Football and the Aggies next big game is in two weeks against Ole Miss.  Last week beat SMU 42-13 / this week @ Arkansas.

9.       Florida State (3-0) – The Noles beat down Bethune Cookman and now take on a not so good BC Team in ACC play.  But after a date with the Eagles two of the ACC’s best teams are on the schedule in Maryland and Clemson.   Last week beat Bethune Cookman 54-6 / this week vs Boston College.

10.   South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1) – The Gamecocks are either a team that is going to go on a good run.  Or SC will continue to look somewhat dysfunctional.  This team has the skill and talent to run the table.  And if that happens they could be in better shape to play for the BCS Title than the SEC title!  Think about it.  Last week off / this week @ Central Florida.
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Deke's week #3 prep preview
We are already in the third week of the regular season.  Some of the match-ups that we see from now until November will be the only gauge we have on who truly are the best teams in the state.

For example, four Class 5A playoff teams square off this week.  But there is not possibility that these teams can play each other this post-season due to the new select/non-select playoffs we will have this post season.

Our game of the week takes place at Hunter Stadium as the St. Paul’s Wolves entertain the McDonough #35 Roneagles.  Both teams are currently 1-1 on the season.  The Wolves are still adapting to their new spread style offense and they are coming off a close win over the Jesuit Blue Jays last week.

The Roneagles got blown out in week one in a 47-12 loss to rival St. Augustine, while last week McDonough #35 did the blowing out in their 36-0 shutout win over Lutcher.  This looks like a really good match-up on paper.  Now we shall see if that plays out on the field.

Rummel @ Acadiana – The Rams of Acadiana and the Raiders of Rummel have two of the best programs in the state.  Unfortunately for the prep fans, we can’t see these two meet again.  Rummel is coming off a very close 7-5 win over Hahnville last week while the Rams suffered a 35-28 setback to 2nd ranked 4A Neville Tigers.  Once the regular season comes to an end both teams are expected to make deep playoff runs this post season.

St. Augustine @ Covington – Another match-up that features 5A playoff teams that will go their separate ways this post season.  The Purple Knights are coming off a tough loss to Edna Karr while the Lions got a big win over Franklinton last week.

John Curtis @ East St. John – Simply put...In his long, great and successful career, there have not been too many times when Coach J.T. Curtis is coming off a loss.  The Patriots took one on the chin last week in a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas of Florida.  The Patriots lost 27-13.  The Wildcats of ESJ are off to an 0-2 start with losses to Rummel and Scottlandville the first two weeks of the season.

Landry/Walker @ Hahnville – If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts we would all have a Merry Christmas.  What am I saying?  Hahnville blew a great chance to be 2-0 with wins over Salmen and a almost win over Rummel last week.  Landry/Walker comes into the game with a 2-0 mark with wins over South Lafourche and Miller McCoy.

 
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Brees: ''We've not played our best football.''
Saints quarterback Drew Brees dropped by for our weekly "QB to QB" chat, and said he knows the Black and Gold have a lot of work to do if they want to stay unbeaten after this weekend.
 
"I think there’s a ton of room for improvement," Drew told us.  "We're obviously very happy that we're 2-0, and we've beaten very good football teams that are divisional opponents.  So that gives us a significant leg up in the division right now.  But, the fact of the matter is, we've not played our best football, by any stretch."
 
Brees said there are areas that are getting attention on both sides of the ball.
 
"Now, we've won some close games, we've made the plays when we've needed to...which is great...but, throughout the course of the game, there's plenty of room for improvement in areas in all three phases that we know we need to clean out.  The competition is only going to get tougher, just like we're looking to make improvements, other teams are as well.  Everyone around you is only going to get better, so you better keep pace, or outpace, your opponents if you want to continue to win and continue to have success."
 
Drew also spoke the ability of the Arizona defense to pressure with their front guys.
 
"Any time you can get pressure with your front four, you create opportunities for the guys in the back, because they just don't have to cover as long.  And, you've got extra guys back there, and all of a sudden the ball comes out early, or you've got to anticipate a throw...you're kind of guessing where you're throwing it, as opposed to be really sure, because you're turning loose earlier than you thought.  All of a sudden, that creates opportunities in the defensive backfield and creates turnovers and such.  At some point, every receiver is going to get open, so the longer you can protect, the more you have opportunities down the field.  The more pressure you can get on the quarterback, the more you're creating opportunities defensively."
 
Click HERE to listen to our full "QB to QB" conversation with Drew Brees...
 
 
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Deke: Early look at LSU-Auburn
Aw, it's on now!  All of the other games don't matter anymore.  Now it's all about conference play.  This weekend Tiger Stadium will be popping as the #6 ranked LSU Tigers host Auburn in the SEC opener for LSU.
 
Auburn is currently 1-0 in league play after a 24-20 come-from-behind win over Mississippi State.  Now the last two weeks the Tigers have played, well let's tell the truth, not-so-good of opponents.
 
But anytime you step into the SEC you better not half step, if you know what I mean.  Already we have heard Coach Les Miles praise the play of this week’s opponents.
 
Coach Miles says that the play of Auburn QB Nick Marshall has been solid in the Tigers first three games of the season.  "He can run it and he can throw it.  He has the ability to extend plays and he is a very good player," Miles said.
 
Auburn QB Nick Marshall has completed 43 of 70 pass attempts for 585 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.  Marshall looked as if he began to get more comfortable in the Tigers offense last week as he led his team down the field for the game winning score.
 
Auburn is sporting a 3-0 overall record, which includes a 1-0 mark in SEC play.  The Tigers also have wins over Washington State (31-24) and Auburn beat Arkansas State 38-9 in their second game of the season.
 
Auburn is 9th in the SEC in scoring offense with an average of 31 points per game.  The Tigers defense is 4th in the league allowing only 17.7 points per contest.  They are eighth in total offense with an average of 440.3 yards per game, the Tigers are fifth in the league in rushing averaging 238.7 yards per game and the Tigers are 12th in the SEC with an average of 201.7 passing yards per game.
 
The Tigers defense has struggled at times through the first three games of the season.  Auburn is currently 12th in the SEC in total defense with an average allowed of 433.7 yards per game.  They are ninth in rushing defense allowing 157.3 yards per outing and the Tigers are dead last in pass defense giving up on average 276.3 yards per game.
 
The Auburn pass defense will certainly have their hands full this week going up against the conferences’ fifth-best passing attack in the LSU Tigers.  And Auburn's pass defense will be looking at a QB in LSU Zach Mettenberger, who leads the conference in pass efficiency with a 205.3 mark.
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Deke: Early look at LSU-Auburn
Aw, it's on now!  All of the other games don't matter anymore.  Now it's all about conference play.  This weekend Tiger Stadium will be popping as the #6 ranked LSU Tigers host Auburn in the SEC opener for LSU.
 
Auburn is currently 1-0 in league play after a 24-20 come-from-behind win over Mississippi State.  Now the last two weeks the Tigers have played, well let's tell the truth, not-so-good of opponents.
 
But anytime you step into the SEC you better not half step, if you know what I mean.  Already we have heard Coach Les Miles praise the play of this week’s opponents.
 
Coach Miles says that the play of Auburn QB Nick Marshall has been solid in the Tigers first three games of the season.  "He can run it and he can throw it.  He has the ability to extend plays and he is a very good player," Miles said.
 
Auburn QB Nick Marshall has completed 43 of 70 pass attempts for 585 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.  Marshall looked as if he began to get more comfortable in the Tigers offense last week as he led his team down the field for the game winning score.
 
Auburn is sporting a 3-0 overall record, which includes a 1-0 mark in SEC play.  The Tigers also have wins over Washington State (31-24) and Auburn beat Arkansas State 38-9 in their second game of the season.
 
Auburn is 9th in the SEC in scoring offense with an average of 31 points per game.  The Tigers defense is 4th in the league allowing only 17.7 points per contest.  They are eighth in total offense with an average of 440.3 yards per game, the Tigers are fifth in the league in rushing averaging 238.7 yards per game and the Tigers are 12th in the SEC with an average of 201.7 passing yards per game.
 
The Tigers Defense has struggled at times through the first three games of the season.  Auburn is currently 12th in the SEC in total defense with an average allowed of 433.7 yards per game.  They are ninth in rushing defense allowing 157.3 yards per outing and the Tigers are dead last in pass defense giving up on average 276.3 yards per game.
 
The Auburn pass defense will certainly have their hands full this week going up against the conferences’ fifth-best passing attack in the LSU Tigers.  And Auburn's pass defense will be looking at a QB in LSU Zach Mettenberger, who leads the conference in pass efficiency with a 205.3 mark.
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Deke's SEC rankings, week #4
Man ole, man the games just get bigger and bigger in the nation’s best football conference.  The Tide rolled just enough over Johnny and the Aggies, the Tigers are rising in the West, and the end of the season could have two major match-ups.  Let’s take a look at my SEC Rankings as we move into the fourth week of the season.

1.       Alabama (2-0) – QB A.J. McCarron showed poised and he got some help from his defense in a shootout win over the Aggies.  Now it’s smooth sailing for the Tide, right?  Probably!  Last week beat Texas A&M 49-42 / this week vs Colorado State.

2.       LSU (3-0) – The Tigers Offense has been the story for LSU so far.  LSU is churning out 488 yards and nearly 50 points on average in their first three games.  Now, like the rest of the Tigers Fans, five straight SEC Games will give a better indication of how much improved the LSU Offense is.  Last week beat Kent State 45-13 / this week vs Auburn.

3.       Georgia (1-1) – The Bulldogs got some much deserved rest and now face North Texas before a huge one takes place between the hedges against LSU.  Could UGA run the table and get back to the ATL for a third straight season?  I would say that’s a pretty good bet.  Last week off / this week vs North Texas.

4.       Texas A&M (2-1) – Ok I don’t think anyone (except LSU Fans) would mind of the Aggies ran the table and got another shot at the Tide.  It very well could happen.  Like him or not, Johnny Football is all that.  And much more!  Man, he has some signature moves, don’t he.  Did you get one of those?  Last week lost to Alabama 49-42 / this week vs SMU.

5.       South Carolina (2-1) – Have any of us really seen the Gamecocks Team that ended the season with a big win over Michigan?  It seems like to me that the Gamecocks are just kind of wandering around.

6.       Ole Miss (3-0) – Hugh Freeze and the Rebels are rolling right now.  Is Ole Miss a legit threat in the SEC this season?  That question will most certainly be answered in the next few weeks with dates with Alabama, Auburn, A&M and LSU.  Win two of those and I would say that the Rebels have arrived.  Last week beat Texas 44-23/ this week off.

7.       Auburn Tigers (3-0) – Auburn got a game wining drive behind the play of QB Nick Marshall.  Now a real test takes place with a trip down to Baton Rouge to face the real Tigers of the SEC.  Last week beat Mississippi State 24-20 / this week @ LSU.

8.       Florida Gators (1-1) – Who is Florida?  Does anyone really know how good these Gators are?  We may not find out the answer to that question until the Gators visit Baton Rouge in October.  As bad as the Gators have played they should be 4-1 when they go to Death Valley. Last week off / this week vs Tennessee.

9.       Tennessee (2-1) – The up and coming Vols got a strong dose of reality last week with a beat down in Eugene.  Rocky Top fans, it’s OK, the Vols are not that bad.  This is a bowl-caliber team.  Not a great team.  But Butch Jones is the right man for the job.  Give this program a few years.  They will rise again!  Last week lost to Oregon 59-14 / this week @ Florida.

10.   Arkansas (3-0) – I told you before the season began that Arkansas would start the season 3-0 before they head to New Jersey.  If the Hogs beat Rutgers this week it would set up an interesting match-up in two weeks against A&M.  Last week beat USM 24-3 / this week @ Rutgers.

11.   Missouri Tigers (2-0) – The Tigers now start the real tough part of their schedule.  A high scoring Hoosiers Team in Indiana poses a real challenge for the Tigers.  Missouri could really see their season start to unravel if they fall to Indiana this weekend.  Last week off / this week @ Indiana.

12.   Vanderbilt Commodores (1-2) – The Doors really got it handed to them in South Carolina last week.  Now I think Vanderbilt can win their next three games and be 4-2 when Georgia comes to town in mid Halloween month.  Last week lost to South Carolina 35-25 / this week at UMASS.

13.   Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-2) & Kentucky Wildcats (1-2) – The Bulldogs outplayed Auburn and still lost and the Wildcats hung tough against rival Louisville.  These teams might combine for 11 wins this season.  And one of those elven wins comes in a month when the Cats and Dogs scrap it out to see who avoids the basement in the SEC.  Last week Auburn beat Mississippi State 24-20 and Louisville beat Kentucky 27-13 / this week Kentucky is off and Mississippi State host Troy.
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Deke's Saints-Tampa Game Notes
New Orleans Saints (1-0) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)  
Sunday September 15 3:05PM Kickoff WWL Radio 
Last week’s results:  New Orleans beat Atlanta 23-17 and NY Jets beat Tampa Bay 18-17
This week’s NFC South Games:  Carolina (0-1) visits Buffalo (0-1) while Atlanta (0-1) host St. Louis (1-0)
Series History:  The Saints lead the series 25-17.  New Orleans swept the Bucs in 2012
Saints Bits N Pieces
Whose Defense was that?  Yup that’s what the Falcons players and coaches were saying last week after the Saints new look Defense plucked dem dirty birds.  The Black and Gold Defense was outstanding last week allowing just 17 points and the Saints third down defense was solid allowing the Falcons to go 3-of-11. 
The Bucs will look to get RB Doug Martin on track so limiting his yards will be key.  The Saints did a good job of getting pressure on Matt Ryan last week and I fully expected Coach Rob Ryan to go after Mr. Freeman as well. 
I’ll go in on halves with that!  The Saints end of a half defense was salty last week.  The Falcons had possession in the final two minutes of each half but failed to score either time. New Orleans rattled Falcons QB Matt Ryan as Ice Ice maybe was only 4-of-9 with an interception in those situations a week ago.  Let’s do it again this week. 
Better in the Red Zone.  The Saints were 1-3 in their trips inside the Falcons Red Zone last week.  Now the bottom line is winning which the Saints did.  But had the Black and Gold got seven instead of three late in that game, the Falcons would have been put to sleep much earlier. 
When the Saints get into the Red Zone this week, let’s hope for 7’s and not 3’s.  You feel me? 
Tampa Bay Bucs notes of interest
No his first name ain’t baby.  It’s Vincent, Mr. Jackson if you’re nasty! Bucs WR Vincent Jackson went off against the Saints last year when the two teams met in Tampa Bay.  Jackson hauled in seven receptions for a franchise record 216 yards in the Bucs 35-28 loss to New Orleans.  The speedster averaged 30.9 yards per grab in that meeting.  New Orleans did cool Jackson off in the second meeting but he still had 81 yards receiving in the Saints 41-0 win in round two last season.  Let’s hope a pattern is not forming here.  Jackson will be Josh Freeman’s primary target as he seven catches for 154 yards last week in the Bucs 18-17 loss to the Jets.  Jackson will get his.  But just don’t give up the big play.  Please!
He’s a Free-Man!  Bucs QB Josh Freeman can extend plays and that makes him very dangerous.  Freeman had a career high 420 passing yards the last time the Saints were in Tampa.  Freeman is all about confidence.  What I’m saying is if he gets off to a slow start then he will more than likely struggle.  Last week Freeman completed less than 50 percent of his passes and finished with a QB rating of less than 68.  Freeman may do better this week after facing a defense last week that likes to be as aggressive as the Saints
Teach me how to Dougie:  Bucs RB Doug Martin became one of the best young players last season in the NFL.  Martin had 122 total yards when he faced the Saints in Tampa last fall.  Doug Martin only had 65 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown versus the Jets.  If Martin does well then QB Josh Freeman will have less pressure on him and that is a good thing for the Bucs but a bad thing for the Saints. 
Questions about this game
Who’s going to be on the run!  You can best believe that the one thing that both the Saints and Bucs currently have in common is their running game.  Or should I say lack thereof.  Tampa only rushed for 65 yards last week in their loss to the Jets while the Saints weren’t much better with 78 rushing yards versus the Falcons. 
The Saints had 29 rushing attempts last week which was the team’s most attempts in a game since the Black and Gold rushed the ball 35 times versus the Lions in 2009.  Coach Sean Payton is committed to running the football but if there is not much production from a yards gained stand point how long can the Saints afford to stick with the run without good results?  2.7 yards per rush is not enough.  The goal is four yards per rush on average. 
Stopping running
The Saints Rush Defense was solid last week.  Although the numbers say a little different, the outcome was just what the Saints needed.  Atlanta gained 88 yards on 14 carries last week.  1 of those carries was for 50 yards.  The other 13 carries only totaled 38 yards. 
The Saints can’t allow another big run like they did against Atlanta when RB Stephen Jackson reeled off a 50 yard scamper.  Outside of that run the Saints Defense allowed just 2.9 yards per attempt.  That my friend is outstanding! 
No Cannons please Cajun!
Each time the Bucs score that big ole loud cannon inside the Pirate Ship inside of Raymond James Stadium goes off.  The less we here of that Cannon, the better we are.  Our Cannon, Cajun that is, going off loud is ok.  Sometimes!  Who Dat.
What they are saying
Tampa Bay Coach Greg Schiano on his running game struggles in week one against the NY Jets.  Tampa rushed for only 65 yards in their 18-17 loss to the Jets last weekend.
 “Well, we need to block better, number one, then we need to run the ball a little bit better, but I think until we block better, I can’t really judge the running.  We need to be able to throw the ball better when we are faced with an uphill running situation.  When I say that, they out number us and it’s a little bit like slamming your head into a wall at some times, but if you can’t make them pay, they are going to keep doing it.  If you make them pay in the pass game, then you can run them out of it sometimes.  That’s probably our biggest challenge, but to do all of those things we need to take care of the little things.  We aren’t missing on the big, big things, we are missing on the little things, little details and that is my responsibility as a head coach.  I’m not getting that communicated or done correctly and we have to find a way to do that.  That’s the plan and we are going to go out there and try and do the best we can at it, but the clock is ticking and we know that.”
Tampa QB Josh Freeman when asked about the Bucs rush attack struggles against the Jets
“The running game is going to fine. The Jets have a pretty good front seven. They stayed base a lot of the time. They made some things happen up front with twists and different stunts. Sometimes that can happen in the first game of the year playing a team, you face so many multiple stunts, different pressures and different coverages, it’s not that crazy. We would have liked to have run the ball better and thrown the ball better. We were trying to get the offensive line in a rhythm. I think those guys will do just fine.”
 Saints Coach Sean Payton on opening the season with two NFC South foes.
 “Last night at the end of that game, they interviewed Vince Wilfork from New England.  Three or four different times during that interview he brought up the importance of playing division games and how they matter.  It (New England) was an example of a team that went on the road and then came back home and won a game.  I just finished talking to the players about that same topic and understanding that when you are playing in the division, they are all tough games.  When the season ends and you look back on even Atlanta’s team a year ago with as many wins as they had, they split with New Orleans, they split with Tampa Bay, and they split with Carolina.  It’s hard to win in the division.  Certainly, it is hard to win on the road in the division.”
 
Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan on the challenges of facing the Bucs Offense.
“They are physical. They want to be physical. I think their back (Doug Martin) is a hit and roller. He’s tough; he’s a genuine guy. We have to get after him and wrap him up. He’s a hard tackle in this league. Obviously, (there are) big play threats that they have in their wide receivers (Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams) and that quarterback (Josh Freeman). We got our work cut out for us. We are going into a hostile environment, and we’re looking forward to the challenge. We’ve been working hard and we know it’s going to be a great challenge.”
 
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis
The Bucs, like the Saints will try to and need to run the football.  New Orleans has shown a strong commitment to the run.  But 29 times only yielded 78 yards for a meager 2.7 yards per carry.
Tampa is a desperate team.  It’s only the second week of the season but if the Bucs fall to the Saints they would drop to 0-2 facing a road trip to take on the New England Patriots next week.  I think it’s key for the Saints to get off to a hot start in this game.
The sooner the Saints get ahead of the Bucs and put more pressure on Bucs Coach Greg Schiano to abort his game plan and call on his struggling QB Josh Freeman to pass the football.  Freeman looks like a QB that is on the verge of really losing his grip on the QB job in Tampa.
Freeman completed less than fifty percent of his passes last week in a 18-17 loss to the NY Jets.  RB Doug Martin will look to get on track early in the game after the Bucs only gained 65 yards on the ground last week.
I like the Saints to win this one.  The Saints and Bucs have played some close battles over the years.  But I think the Black and Gold win have less trouble this week than they did a week ago against Atlanta.
Remember Who Dats, in the Sean Payton era, the first four games are a telling sign of the rest of the season.  In 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the Saints were solid in their first four games.  During those playoff seasons the Saints were either 3-1 or 4-0.  A win against Tampa gives the Saints a 2-0 mark with two straight home games to follow.
Take the Black and Gold, lay the three points and take home the money!
Big Chief Says:  New Orleans 27 Tampa Bay 17
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Big Chief's SEC Rankings
1.  Alabama (1-0) – The Tide are rolling right into a hornets nest this weekend.  Can Alabama remain undefeated?  Is this the Tides first and only loss of the season forthcoming against Johnny and the Aggies?  Can little nick slow down a fast paced offense?  All of those questions could be answered this weekend in College Station.  RTR

2. LSU (2-0) – The Tigers are 2-0 and they did beat a decent TCU Team two weeks ago.  LSU is passing for more yards than they have in a long time, QB Zach Mettenberger has six TD passes and no picks and the Tigers actually look good on offense.

3.  Texas A&M  (2-0) – Can a national title be won with just offense?  Hell, Oregon almost did it a few years ago…Why not!  A win this week over the Crimson Machine from T-Town would make the Aggies a legit national title team and those alleged Johnny Football Autographs might be worth something… Allegedly!

4.  Georgia (1-1) – The Bulldogs bounced back in a big way with a win over South Carolina last week.  Now a week off, then another week off in a game against North Texas before LSU comes calling.  QB Aaron Murray is the best in the country right now!

5. South Carolina (1-1) – Clowney has looked more like a clown that a Clowney in the Cocks’ first two games.  The SC Coaches almost started brawling on the sidelines last week and the visor-wearing one knows that there are no more slip-ups allowed.  Gosh dangit!
   
6.  Ole Miss (2-0) – Hugh Freeze and the Rebels go to Austin this week to take on a team that hung more than 60 on them last year in Oxford.  Will the Rebels get revenge against those Hook’em Horns in Austin?  Ole Miss can take Mack Brown out of his misery by piling up the points and yards this weekend!
   
7.  Florida (1-1) – The Gators have the same problems this season as they did a year ago.  If UF does not fix their offense it could be a long season in Gator land this year!

8.  Auburn (2-0) – I mean, if you look at the caliber of recruits that the Tigers have signed over the course of the last few years one would have to figure that Auburn is not that bad.  Now a win this week puts the Tigers at 3-0 with a trip to Baton Rouge up next.  It should happen!

9.  Tennessee (2-0) – Coach Butch Jones has been piling up the points and yards on the new-look Vols Offense.  Now can the boys from Rocky Top match scores with the Quack Attack from Eugene?  I don’t think so!
   
10.  Arkansas (2-0) – The Hogs entertain the team with the nation’s longest losing streak this week.  Like Tennessee and Auburn, the Hogs have some good players.  But wait until SEC play begins before you grade these Hogs!

12. Missouri (2-0) – If you back and look, I told y’all back in July that these Tigers could get off to a fast start.  If QB James Franklin continues to play well the Tigers could go bowling this season.
   
13. Vanderbilt (1-1) – Coach James Franklin is still wondering what the hell happened two weeks ago when his defense gave up a 70 yard run in a heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss.  But a win over the Gamecocks could certainly erase that bad memory.

14.  Mississippi State (1-1) – Ok let’s see…A 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State followed by a 51-7 win over Alcorn State.  What does that tell me about the Bulldogs from Starkvegas?  Absolutely nothing.  Don’t look now but a loss to Auburn might but Danny Boy on the warm seat!  Hail State!
   
15.  Kentucky (1-1) – I wonder if the Wildcats Football Fans even care that they are playing rival Louisville this week.  I’m sure most of them do.  I’d be willing to bet that no other game in the country this week will have the pretty looking ladies like this Bluegrass game will!

This week’s games in the SEC:

Louisville @ Kentucky
Mississippi State @ Auburn
Tennessee @ Oregon
Southern Miss @ Arkansas
Kent State @ LSU
Alabama @ Texas A&M
Vanderbilt @ South Carolina
Ole Miss @ Texas
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Deke - LSU vs Kent State: two days until kickoff
The eighth-ranked LSU Tigers are two days away until they play their third game of the season.  The Tigers are looking to up their record to 3-0.  Kent State enters the game with a 1-1 mark on the season.

The Flashes won their first game of the season against Liberty but fell last week to the Bowling Green Falcons.  A lot has been made about the Tigers new look offense under first year Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.

LSU offensive lineman Elliot Porter was asked if he was surprised about the start of his QB Zach Mettenberger.  “No, I’m not surprised at all. He’s (Zach) got a strong arm, he’s a big boy back there.  All we (O-Line) have to do is give him a little bit of protection, I think the sky is the limit for that guy.”

Defensive lineman Ego Ferguson agrees that it’s a fresh start for Mettenberger.

“It’s like night and day, he’s making a lot of moves in the pocket now that surprised me.  He got down there, got us a first down with his feet.  Looking great out there.”

Tigers Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. says that the Tigers offense, which is averaging over 440 yards per game through two games, wants to be productive each time they step on the field of play.

“Honestly, it’s what we want,” Beckham said.   “If not the #1 team, we want to be up there.  Our plans on offense this year, we had huge expectations and bit goals, and we’re just trying to achieve it.”

The Tigers players have said this week that they are most certainly not looking past this week’s match-up with Kent State, even though a possible undefeated early season SEC opener looms next week against Auburn.

If both LSU and Auburn take care of business against Kent State and Mississippi State, next week’s battle in Death Valley could be an interesting one to say the least.
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Sean Payton: Preparing for a hot game in Tampa
Following the dramatic win over the Falcons, Head Coach Sean Payton talked with me and Bobby Hebert for our weekly Coaches Show on the New Orleans Saints Radio Network.

The Coach told us the upcoming matchup against Tampa is another extremely important early-season game.

"Well, it's a division game," Payton said.  "When you look at the head-to-head matchups...a good example would be a year ago.  Atlanta won 13 games in the regular season, and three of their losses came to Carolina, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay.  So, any time you're playing someone in the division, especially on the road, it's going to be a challenge.  

Payton told us the mid-September matchup in humid, hot Tampa requires some special preparations.

"When we looked at this game early in the schedule, you knew that it was also going to be a game where we're going to have to deal with some hot temperatures, and I'm sure we'll be in the black jerseys. So, we'll have to make sure we're ready to rotate guys in there, handle the heat, make sure we're hydrated and prepared...but certainly this is a challenge for us.

And while he was pleased with the win over Atlanta, he said there is still lots to improve upon this week.

"When you have the chance to come in on Mondays and watch the tape,  you see a lot of things, especially in week one.  I mentioned this in the team meeting - The corrections we have to make here from week one, heading into next week...we're all kind of in a race to improve now, and quickly get things a lot of things cleaned up, in all three phases."

Click HERE to listen to our full interview with Coach Sean Payton…

Coach said this weekend, some players will be seeing a lot more time than normal.  

I also think in Week One, you're playing a lot of players maybe twice the amount of snaps they're used to playing.  Fortunately for us,  we had a good rotation going with some of the guys in the defensive line.  A handful of DB's and corners played, same way offensively at the receiver position, the running back position...keeping guys fresh this early part of the year, it's going to be the case again this week in Tampa, on the road in some warm weather.

One of those key players on offense will again be Marques Colston, who set a team record for receptions in the win over Atlanta.  Payton agreed with us that Colston, a member of the Class of 2006, has been the model of consistency for the Black and Gold.  

"I think consistency is a great word to start with," Payton said.  "It's hard to believe that he's on his eight season.  That draft class was very important for us, and looking back on it now, it's a lot easier to evaluate three years, four years later...and now, here we are, the eight season removed from it.  But, he's someone that's got exception hands, they're strong, inside and outside, both as a slot receiver....he's also very smart.  He's one of those guys who knows all the positions, and he's been very durable and reliable.  I think that consistency, when it pertains to the relationship he and Drew has, goes a long way."
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Big Chief's Saints-Falcons preview
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Sunday September 8 Noon Kickoff WWL Radio

Series History:  The Atlanta Falcons lead the all-time series 46-41 in the regular season.  The Falcons beat the Saints in the playoffs making the overall series lead to 47-41.  New Orleans has pulled close to the Falcons in the series as the Black and Gold have been impressive against their rivals as of late.  Since the 2006 season the Saints have posted an 11-3 record vs. Atlanta.  And since the 2003 season the Saints have lost only once to the Falcons when games are played in the Superdome.

Bird season openers!  This is the seventh time the Saints and Falcons have opened the season playing each other.  Who Dat Nation, you might want to close your eyes now.  The Saints have never beaten the Falcons on opening day! 
New Orleans is 0-6 versus those Dirty Birds in season opening games including a dismal 0-5 mark in the Big Easy.  The last time the Saints opened the season at home versus Atlanta was in 1986 when Coach Jim Mora made his debut.  It was not pretty, as the Birds won 31-10. 

What they are saying

Atlanta QB #2 Matt Ryan on how loud the Superdome is

 “It’s definitely one of the most intense and one of the loudest venues in the NFL and we know that.  I’ve been down there five times now and played down there five times and I know every time it’s loud and it’s hostile.  With the veteran guys that we have, we understand what it takes to go down there and execute at a high level and we need to be at our best.”

Atlanta Coach Mike Smith on the Falcons acquiring RB Stephen Jackson

 “Steven has a very good skill set, not only as a running back but as a receiving back. It gives you options on the offensive side where you don’t necessarily have to have a change of pace back. You can run the same personnel groupings and the same plays with Steven in the game. He’s been very effective as a runner. He’s had nine consecutive 1000-yard seasons and he had one season in which he caught 90+ balls. We like his skill set, not only running the ball, but as a receiving back as well.”

Saints QB #9 Drew Brees on what makes the Saints/Falcons Rivalry so intense

 “Just the fact that they’re a very good team and we’re a really good team. Anytime you’ve got two prideful teams, organizations that are used to winning and used to playing well and that kind of thing going at it, that’s a recipe for a very highly competitive, highly intense atmosphere. So I find, you always get that with this game. I’d say that the fan bases are probably more at odds than the teams are. That makes it fun too.”
 
 Saints Coach Sean Payton on New Orleans LB Curtis Lofton

 “He is now the signal caller.  He is now the guy who is playing Mike.  He played it a year ago, but I would say yes.  He is physical. He is a smart player.  He brings that leadership to the room.  A guy with experience and a guy that is a very good tackler.  He is well built, so in that 3-4 front, you are playing someone over the guard that is uncovered, often times he is taking on a bigger lineman than maybe in a 4-3 scheme.  He has handled that transition very well.”

 
The game

OK, breaking down first games of the season are kind of difficult.  All the stats the teams have compiled come from the majority of players that will not be that involved in this game.  The preseason basically tells us nothing other than which players make the roster.

Teams don’t game plan and the certainly don’t show anything new that they plan on doing.  So instead of predicting what I think will happen in this game I’ll tell you what I do know.

The Falcons

The Falcons were the top team in the NFC last season.  Atlanta won 13 games and secured the #1 seed in the conference landing home field in the post season.  However, it seems to me that not many folks take the Falcons as a team that can win it all.

Can they?  Of course they can!  But I get the feeling that no one believes it.  Truth be told, Atlanta was lucky to win their first playoff game under Mike Smith and QB Matt Ryan, as the Seahawks spotted Atlanta a big lead and then gave it away.  Then, the Falcons true to form blew another big lead the following week in their loss to the 49ers in the NFC Title Game.  Some point out last season’s “almost got to the Super Bowl year” as motivation for Atlanta.

On the other, I hand think the Falcons are still a very good team, but until you win it all, in the words of Little Stevie Wonder, “you haven’t done nothing.”  When talking to national analysts this summer, many feel that this is the Falcons time.

Atlanta is solid on offense, they have upgraded their RB position with the addition of Stephen Jackson and Atlanta was able to fill some holes on the defensive side of the football this off season.   With that said, like all teams the Falcons have issues.

How can you replace the leader of you team and captain on your O-Line in one off season?  Simply put you can’t.  No one can.  The absence of center Todd McClure will be something that will be felt all season long.

For 13 seasons the former LSU Tiger was the most stable, dependable and reliable player in the Falcons organization.  Atlanta will find that getting a new ride after 13 years takes some getting used to.  And other than QB can you name the most important position on an NFL Team?  That would be the Center position.

So the biggest question mark I have about ATL is their newer looking O-Line.  Now, acquiring the services of the dangerous and physical RB Stephen Jackson is a big plus for ATL.  Jackson has been the model of consistency in the NFL rushing for 1000 yards or more in nine consecutive seasons.

Atlanta was once a team that used to pound the rock early and often, but now Atlanta is a legit passing team and calling on Jackson less in a Falcons uniform could mean much more in the long run for Atlanta.  Jackson will not have to be the sole offensive provider in Atlanta as he was called on to be in St. Louis with the Rams. 

The Falcons are solid when it comes to pass catchers.  WR’s Roddy White and Julio Jones along with future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales are as good of a core as any in the NFL. 

Over on the defensive side of the football the Falcons will have to be much better against the run than they were in 2012.  Atlanta was 29th in the NFL, allowing 123.2 yards rushing per game.  Overall the Falcons defense ranked 24th in the NFL surrendering 365.6 yards per contest.

Atlanta brought in veteran DL Osi Umenyiora to help aid their D-Line and the Falcons upgraded their Defensive Backfield with early round picks taking Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.

Now, if the Falcons don’t get any heat on Drew Brees, then look for Brees to go after those youngsters when they are in the game.  DE Kroy Bierman is back with the Birds after having four sacks last season.  Bierman and Umenyiora will look to get some pressure on the edge.

The Final Analysis

Both teams have upgraded their defensive units and both have added some veteran pieces to their offenses as well.  The Saints have a new-look defense that was very aggressive during camp and in the preseason.

If New Orleans is going to get after the QB this season it all starts this week.  The Saints look like an improved defense but no one thinks this team can allow a QB like Matt Ryan time in the pocket.  Simply put no pressure on Matt Ryan equals a long day for the Saints DB’s.

New Orleans must get back to rushing the football.  History tells us when the Saints have balance on offense, they are a very good team.  When they don’t have balance, they are not a very good team.  I expect Coach Payton to be patient with his rushing attack this season beginning this weekend against Atlanta.

I could sit here all day and throw out numbers at you.  But all of that information and stats were from last season.  This is a new season.  Both of these teams are called the cream of the NFC South and both now how vital it is to get off to a good start.

Emotions will be at a fever pitch as Coach Sean Payton is back on the sidelines in the regular season after being suspended all of 2012.  With the Dome-field advantage, I have to go with the Saints in this one. 

Expect another close battle.  Seven of the last nine meetings have been decided by 8 points or less, including five games that were decided by 3 points or less.  Lay the three and roll with the Black and Gold. 

Big Chief Says:  New Orleans 28 Atlanta 23
 
 
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Deke's prep preview - Week 1
The first week of the 2013 prep football season is here.  The long summer workout sessions, the seven on seven competitions and all of those weights that were lifted will now be tested.  This season we down here in Louisiana embark on a new format as all the teams that face each other in the regular season may not see each other in the post season.

Yes, for the first time ever, there will be a split after the regular season among member schools in the LHSAA.  So let's enjoy the regular season with some nice match-ups in week one of the season. 
 
Holy Cross @ Covington – Coach Barry Wilson’s Tigers have rebounded in a very big way.  Just a few seasons ago the Tigers were battling to make the playoffs.  Now Coach Wilson has his Tigers ranked #9 in Class 5A.

Holy Cross has a big season in 2012 advancing all the way to the 4A semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Karr.  The Covington Lions have a new familiar name on the sidelines this season.  Legendary Coach Jack Salter will see his grandson coach the Lions this season.

Gregory Salter takes over as head coach of the Lions as he opens the season with a huge test against a very good Holy Cross Team.  Salter will have the luxury of playing his first game at home at the historic Cow Palace. 

Hahnville @ Salmen:  The Tigers are taking on one of the best teams in the state in the #3 ranked Class 4A Salmen Spartans.  Led by RB Chris Thomas, the Spartans will be in the hunt for the 4A title this season.

Thomas has been a great player for the Spartans since his freshman season.  But the talented RB is coming off foot surgery and he did not partake in spring drills.  He has rushed for 3,081 yards combined the last two seasons, and is one of the nation’s top RB recruits this season as well.

Coach Lou Valdin is once again at the helm leading the Hahnville Tigers.  The Tigers look to be a solid team this season with hopes of contending for the District 7-5A title in 2013.  A win over Salmen would be a great start for Hahnville.  The Tigers have a tough non district slate that also features defending 5A champion Rummel and Landry/Walker in week three of the season. 

Parkview Baptist vs Catholic High, BR – This is a huge battle in the Capitol City.  Coach Kenny Gulliot and his Eagles of Parkview are as solid of a program in the state as you can find.
The Eagles dominated Class 3A last season en-route to the 3A title with a blowout win over Notre Dame in last year’s state finals.  Parkview figures to be a power in Class 3A this season along with John Curtis and Evangel.  Parkview has won four state titles since 2001.
The Catholic High School Bears once again figure to be one the best teams from the Baton Rouge Area.  Coach Dale Weiner has two of his best players back this season in QB Nick Croomes and RB Derrius Guice. 
 
Expect both of these teams to do well this season.  Parkview enters the season as the #3 ranked team in 3A while the Catholic Bears are at #5 in Class 5A.
 
Edna Karr @ St. Paul's – As far as week one high profile games are concerned, it doesn’t get much better than this.  The defending Class 4A state champion Karr Cougars battle 5A power St. Paul’s.
 
Karr has at least a dozen Division I-A Prospects this season including the dazzling Devante “Speedy” Noil.  Noil has become one of the country’s most sought after players as his playmaking skills are second to none.
 
St. Paul’s has been the most dominant program on the Northshore under Coach Ken Sears the last decade. 
 
Although Karr is a 4A Team, the Wove know if they can beat the Cougars they can beat anyone in the state!
 
Evangel @ Riverside – A battle of powers in smaller classification football takes place in Reserve as the Rebels host the Evangel Eagles.  Evangel is in Class 3A this season while many, including myself think that the Rebels will challenge for the state title in the select division playoffs.  Riverside opens the season ranked #5 in Class 2A while Evangel is at #2 in Class 3A.
 
 
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Deke - LSU VS UAB: It’s almost game day!
The 9th ranked LSU Tigers will play their second game of the season tomorrow against the 0-1 UAB Blazers.  LSU is coming off an impressive 37-27 win over then 20th ranked TCU.  LSU moved up three spots in this week’s AP top 25.

Coach Les Miles said earlier this week that his club is focused on the rest of the season beginning with UAB.  “I think our guys have come off of that, recognizing that they need to play better…that they really have accomplished a lot, and are looking to make some strides through the season.”

UAB shocked the Tigers in 2000 with a 13-10 upset win over LSU.  Coach Miles said that his team is focused on UAB and his players know that they are facing a good squad, and also said his Tigers are not concerned with the rankings.  

Miles has also made his team very aware of the fact that the Blazers upset LSU in the first ever meeting between the two schools back in 2000.

UAB Coach Garrick McGee is in his second season as head coach of the Blazers as he has compiled a 3-10 record.  The Blazers are coming off a 34-31 overtime loss to the Troy Trojans a week ago.  Coach McGee complimented Coach Miles, saying that LSU has a solid program that is one of the most consistent programs in the nation.

“They’re going to be the same year in and year out, very aggressive on defense, and they’re going to look to control the ball on offense.  That’s the philosophy Coach Miles has, we know that’s not going to go away. “

McGee this week talked about preparing for the LSU D.  

 “You have to neutralize the defensive front first, that’s the first step,” McGee said.  “And then, once you neutralize them, you go after the back seven.  That’s our philosophy on offense.”

Coach McGee says that he thinks his program is heading in the right direction as he starts the second year as head coach at UAB.

 LSU is currently a 35 point favorite over UAB.  Next week the Tigers remain at home as they play host to Kent State while the Blazers go back to Birmingham to face Northwestern State.

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Deke: LSU looks to iron out mistakes vs. UAB
OK, we hear it all the time or at least this time of year from all head coaches.  After the first game, coaches always say that the biggest improvement during a season takes place from the first game to the second game.

LSU did some real good things in their 37-27 win over the TCU Horned Frogs last weekend in Dallas.  Now, LSU will look to correct some of the mistakes they made in that game.  LSU plays host to the UAB Blazers this Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

Looking back at the Tigers’ game film, Coach Miles pointed out a few things, including the play of WR’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

“They’re just getting started, I think the chemistry there is improved.  And that’s the kind of contribution they’ll make night after night and increase their productivity.”

Landry had eight receptions for 109 yards and a TD, while Beckam had five grabs for 118 yards in the Tigers’ victory over TCU.

Coach Miles said he was also impressed with the play of RB Terrance Magee, who had a breakout game.

“Terrance Magee is a talented guy, he’s a guy that people inside this program root for, because he’s just a great kid and works hard and has talent and ability,” Miles said.  “Given the opportunity, he’ll make that kind of contribution throughout the year.”  

Magee, a junior from Franklinton, ran the ball 13 times for 95 yards and hit paydirt twice in the Tigers’ season-opening win.
As for RB Alfred Blue, who missed just about the entire 2012 season, Miles also had good things to say on Blue’s 19 carries for 89 yards of production.

“I thought he was great.  I thought both he and Magee were just what we needed, playing hard, rugged, and tough.”

Overall, the Coach saw an improved squad under his new Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.  

“A couple of balls dropped that we’d like to have back, and certainly a fumble here or there….but we were much better on offense,” Miles said.

While the LSU offense piled up more than 400 yards vs. TCU, quarterback Zach Mettenberger says he knows there’s room for improvement.

“You know there’s a lot of things to build on, a lot of positive things we can look at in film, but at the same time, there are areas we need to improve on…and we’re definitely going to start get better in all three phases.

The Tigers open a three-game home stand this weekend against UAB.  LSU then faces Kent State the following week before opening SEC play on September 21 against the Auburn Tigers.  


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Big Chief's CFB Top 10
Ok, is there really a must win situation for team's already?  Come on man, it's only week two of the college football season.  Well, if you're a team that wants to remain in the BCS Title hunt, it is most certainly a must win game.  That means the Bulldogs from UGA face a must win this week against the Gamecocks from South Carolina.
As we move into the second week of the season, we have three biggies.  Michigan plays host to the church, UGA is between the hedges versus South Carolina and Florida travels to Coral Gables to take on the U. 

Let's take a look at my top ten for week two of the 2013 CFB season! 

1.     Alabama Crimson Tide(1-0) – The Tide offense only gained 208 yards of offense last week.  So what!?!  Alabama got two special teams TD's, and their defense only gave up 10 points.  The more people hate on Alabama, the more Coach Nick Saban loves it.  RTR.  Last week beat Virginia Tech 35-10 / this week off.

2.    Oregon Ducks (1-0) – Quack, quack, quack.  Give it up for Oregon for establishing a school record 772 yards of total offense against Nicholls State.  Boy, Oregon ought to be mighty proud of that!  Last week beat Nicholls State 66-3, this week @ Virginia.

3.    South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0) – The Gamecocks took care of business by disposing of North Carolina 27-10.  The Cocks season could be smoother or bumpier after this week.  It all depends on what goes down in Athens between the hedges.  Last week beat UNC 27-10 / this week @ Georgia.

4.    Clemson Tigers (1-0) – The Tigers showed up big in a big game.  Don't blink because these Tigers have been building a damn good BCS resume.  Clemson's last two wins have come against two top 10 teams from the mighty SEC.  Coach Dabo Sweeny and the Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris are two of the hottest names in the game today.  Slipper Sammy Watkins went off on UGA with 127 yards receiving.  Clemson is for real.  Now they have to prove it every week the rest of this season.  Last week beat Georgia 38-35 / this week vs South Carolina State.

5.    Stanford Cardinal (0-0) – Stanford will open their season this week against San Jose State.  This is a solid program from top to bottom, and a program that truly embraces the term “student athletes.” 

6.    Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0) – After a lackluster effort against Buffalo, the Buckeyes will set their sights on the Aztecs from SDSU.  Like I said earlier, if this team does not start the season 11-0, then  they should be ashamed.  Last week beat Buffalo 40-20 / this week vs San Diego State.

7.    Louisville Cardinals (1-0) – QB Teddy Bridgwater threw five TD passes as the Cards offense racked up 615 yards in a 49-7 win over Ohio.  These Cards have a great shot to win all their games.  If Louisville does that, they should be in the right place at the right time to sneak into the BCS Title Game.  Last week beat Ohio 49-7 / this week vs Eastern Kentucky.

8.    Texas A&M Aggies (1-0) – Johnny Manziel was back in full swing in the second half of the Aggies big win over Rice.  I can smell a good ole fashion ass whipping coming in two weeks.  Alabama has two weeks to get ready for Mr. Football, and the cockier he acts, the more the Tide will feed off of his immature ways.  Did I mention the A&M Defense gave up over 500 yards to Rice?  Last week beat Rice 52-31 / this week vs Sam Houston State

9.    Florida Gators (1-0) – Florida did not look too impressive in a 24-6 win over Toledo.  Now a big trip to South Florida to face the upstart Hurricanes looms large in an early season showdown.  If Florida falls to UM it could be a difficult season for the Gators.  Last week beat Toldeo 24-6 / this week at Miami.

10.    LSU Tigers (1-0) – LSU was the only top 12 team that beat a top 20 team in the first week of the season.  LSU, like all teams, has some things to work on.  But right now LSU, considering who they were playing, was as impressive as any team in CFB in week one of the season.  Last week beat TCU 37-27 / this week vs UAB.
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