We May Have Missed Class, But We Never Missed A Game.

Latest

In Memorium: NCAA 2015, Oh How We Miss You

By Kurt Valvis
images

I don’t remember the last time I didn’t buy the latest NCAA Football video game. It’s been with me through high school, through college, and all my (quasi)adult life. It’s always been there… up until this year. Now, thanks to the NCAA’s greed and Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit, the NCAA Football franchise is dead. And boy do I sure miss it. Playing it today brought back so many memories from my LSU days, mostly revolving around my roommate and NCAA Dynasty-rival Keith Claverie (fellow Section 217 Krewe Member). While we didn’t know each other when he moved into my apartment Junior year, we became fast friends, and plenty of that bonding came over our passion for NCAA Football, both real and in video game form. We’d play dynasties that would go 10 seasons deep, all in the name of winning that coveted digital BCS Championship Trophy. Or in the name of getting the best recruiting class. Or maybe in the name of beating each other? But most definitely in the name of avoiding studying/doing homework/going to class in general. There were so many little things I enjoyed about that game:

  • Seeing what the LSU player ratings were, and adjusting them according to just how much of a man-crush I had on each player. Let’s just say Chad Jones was the best safety to ever play the game of football by the time I was done with his ratings.
  • The hunt for player names online. It used to be you’d have to input them yourself (screw that), so we would only have LSU and maybe a couple of more SEC teams entered in before we’d start the season. It was really a great way to learn the better players on each team, but it was a pain in the ass. Soon, you could order a memory card with the names pre-loaded, and eventually you could find the rosters on the Playstation network each season. While this was fun, I wish the names had come pre-loaded, but since the NCAA refused to share the profits from the game with the students whose images were in it, we had to jump through hoops to get them. And now we don’t even have a game altogether! Thanks, NCAA!
  • Choosing which team we would control in the dynasty. We had different rules each time: Couldn’t be in the same conference, had to be in the same conference, the school’s rating could only be so many or so few stars. Despite these rules, I somehow ended up controlling LSU on multiple occasions. Keith hated this, I did not.
  • Creating recruits. Now this is where we let our creative instincts run wild. You could give them any name you wanted. Who cares about their position/rating, if we had a funny name, you’ve won the recruiting process. My personal favorite creation: a 320 lbs defensive tackle named Lean Qua’sine. Dude was a beast on my d-line.
  • Playing Keith. Oh yes, we were both super competitive, so these games meant a lot. Probably too much. We would both get on streaks where we’d beat each other several seasons in a row. It was great if you were riding that wave, and devastating if you were at the wrong end. Controllers were thrown, curse words were screamed and games were quit early. The worst was when there was awkward silence, be it during an intense in-game moment or a crushing post-game defeat, the silence was always the weirdest. It was great.
Claverie Commentary: Since this is a topic so near-and-dear to my heart, Kurt asked me to chime in with a favorite moment from our three-year run as rivals. Between NCAA and Madden, there’s FAR too many good times to choose one shining moment, so I’d like to go another route and choose a moment I’m not totally proud of. Like Kurt mentioned, we choose conferences, schools and even created players. But one time, when we were SUPER bored, we ventured into the painstaking process of creating schools. We chose states, school names, school colors, mascots, uniforms, stadium design – it was awesome. My squad, however, was not. Whether it was recruiting strategy or a bad jersey/pant combination, my team blew. And Kurt’s kicked ass. This was hard to deal with. We started as independents with the goal of improving our profile and eventually being asked to join a conference (a totally ridiculous feature of the game at the time, but one that would become a real thing in real college football in just a few short years). Kurt got asked to join the SEC in like his second year. I would eventually get asked to join the Big 12, but to this day I feel like the game was just taking pity on me. Whenever we had a dynasty, we would schedule each other every season to keep it interesting. In like our fourth campaign, my team was especially bad (relying solely on the talents of my created 5-foot-5 QB with 97 speed) and Kurt’s was becoming a powerhouse. With defeat a certainty, I had zero interest in playing our annual contest, but Kurt insisted we keep it going. So, for four five-minute quarters of video-game football, I sat in a recliner with a laptop on my lap chatting on AIM and paying as little attention as possible to the game. I didn’t talk, didn’t comment, didn’t even really try. I essentially selected Hail Mary plays the entire contest because I knew the cause was lost before the coin toss. It got so bad, Kurt had to remind me to choose plays before the play clock ran out. He could be heard occasionally muttering things like, “Really?”, “Seriously??” and “This is how it’s gonna be!?!”. This was my sad, silent protest. And it is one of the most immature things I’ve ever done. We soon dropped the dynasty. Kurt was probably bummed out about it until we started the next dynasty…like an hour later. And I let him be LSU. Which he always wanted to be. ALWAYS.

Every time I’ve played since college, I got back a little piece of those moments. Sure, I’m older, I don’t have as much time to play, but when I did it was like a little time machine back to the old college glory days. That was the appeal that NCAA Football had: you could take your alma mater and bring them to the promised land. I always preferred it to it’s Madden brethren; I thought the game play was more wide-open and loose, and I loved the recruiting process in NCAA. The worst part is this year WOULD OF HAD THE PLAYOFF FORMAT TO END THE SEASON!!!! I’d always wanted that option in the game; in a year it would finally be available, they can no longer make the game. I understand why this happened, I just hate that it could have been avoided. The NCAA made millions of dollars off this venture with EA Sports; why couldn’t they figure out how to share some of the profits with athletes? It’s just another reason to hate the crumbling old system. Maybe when it’s gone, we will get our game back. Until then, I’ll have to pop in NCAA Football 2014. It just won’t have the same feel to it.

At least I have one timeless football game to keep me happy.

At least I have one timeless football game to keep me happy.

Reel It In About Jimmy Graham, Please

By Kurt Valvis
 
nfl_week3_09

No, Jimmy Graham is not a “petulant child”.

I’ve seen an article from a popular sports site floating around the internet the past couple of days which, in summation, claims exactly that. It “tsk-tsks” Graham for his TD celebration, the one where he dunks the football over the goal post. The writer takes Graham to task on this because the NFL made it an illegal celebration (even though they posted the highlights of it on NFL.com), and he did it not once, but twice (GASP!), drawing two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the first regular season game the Saint’s had this year. OH WAIT JUST KIDDING IT’S STILL THE PRESEASON. And no one cares about the preseason, except coaches, “team super fans”, guys who are fighting for the last couple of roster spots and apparently “SUPER HOT TAKE” national media types. Starting quarterbacks sit out games (because getting hurt in preseason is dumb), teams don’t roll out full game plans, and fans leave before halftime because the quality of football is equal to what you might see on a Friday night at your local high school. Hell, the NFL is even experimenting with longer extra points during the preseason because who gives a shit, none of this counts.

The writer, whose article makes it seem like he’s gunning to take Skip Bayless’s spot on “First Take” once Skip runs out of hot air to blow out of his mouth-hole, went on to say that this was a carry-over from his altercation with some members of the Seahawks defense before last year’s playoff game. According to Dr. Hot-Take, two hours before the game, Jimmy Graham “walked onto the Seattle half, started talking and gyrating to get their attention, and wouldn’t leave once he had it. Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin told Graham to leave. Graham wouldn’t, then pulled the knit cap off Irvin’s head.”

Wow, that sounds pretty bad. Except it didn’t exactly happen like that. You see, Captain Hot-Take only portrayed the incident in the light to back his hypothesis. For one, Jimmy Graham was practicing with the Saints’ coaches, not just wandering around the field casually. And, according to Bruce Irvin himself, the one whose cap was pulled off, he took the ball Jimmy Graham was practicing with and punted it across the field; Graham’s cap snatching was in retaliation to that. Kind of changes what you think of the situation when you get some context, right? But who would have thought that the Seahawks defense would ever talk trash or try to provoke another player? Not the mild mannered Legion of Boom.

Jimmy Graham

Not pictured: Seahawks defenders acting like jackasses.

So those two incidents led Professor Hot-Take to write that Graham “is a threat to Sean Payton and to the NFL at large.” He also implied that Graham could influence other teammates to act selfishly and put themselves before the team, just like he did when dunking those two meaningless touchdown passes Friday because “He’s Jimmy, fool. He’s Jimmy. And this is all about Jimmy.”

Just stop.

It happened. Coach Payton squashed it the next day, as did Graham, who said he knows he has “just gotta stop” his signature dunk celebration. The NFL made a rule to stop that very thing, something that Graham had done 41 times for each touchdown in his NFL career. They made the rule because one time, against a heated rival in Atlanta, he tilted the goal, causing a 20 minute delay. Instead of a warning, they overreacted and made it a penalty. So he did it two more times in front of his home crowd before the season started.  Was it dumb? Yes. Was it an act of rebellion and self-infatuation that could derail a very promising Saints season? No, it won’t. Graham is guilty of being a moron and nothing else to this point. The article’s author took one idiotic episode from a preseason game, along with a slanted view of another incident, and wrote a story he was sure would get some page views.

But General Hot-Take’s opinion isn’t what upset me. I was appalled that so many fans shared his point of view. On Facebook, I had more than a few friends share the article with captions like “Graham is going to be a problem in the locker room this year”, and the comments would have even more vitriol towards the Pro Bowl tight end. And this was coming from Saints fans. Why are people getting so uptight about the whole Graham dunking situation? How did Graham go from break-out star in 2011 and a fan favorite to someone Who Dats have called “greedy” and “a locker-room cancer”?

It seems to have all stemmed from Graham’s contract situation this off season. For whatever reason, Saint’s fans were really angry that Jimmy Graham was trying to maximize his earning potential. Think about that. In a league where, according to the NFL Players Association, the average career lasts 6 years if you make the opening day roster as a rookie (3.3 if you don’t) and the team you work for can cut you at any time for any reason they see fit, Saints fans were pissed that Graham wanted to get paid as much as he could. This was a season after his base salary was only $1.3 million, making him the 28th highest paid tight end in football last year. The guy who led the league in receiving touchdowns last year made over $1 million less than frigging Fred Davis.

Folks also took offense to Graham’s camp attempting to change his franchise tag price from that of a tight end to that of a wide receiver. Without getting into too much detail, the reason they tried to do this was so that he could get paid about $5 million more being designated as a wide receiver. He eventually was ruled a tight end by the arbitrator, which not only hurt his franchise tag earnings, but also killed some negotiating power for the eventual long-term contract he signed. Again, this was just another attempt to maximize Graham’s earning potential, but  to some fans it was another sign of his greediness. Why? Because Graham was challenging a arbitrary positional name that could literally cost him millions of dollars? Position names shouldn’t matter anymore, especially in an offense as diverse and different as the Saints. Darren Sproles was listed as a running back last year. He only had 53 rushing attempts to go along with 71 receptions! Graham basically functioned as a wide receiver in the Saint’s system, why shouldn’t he get paid like one? Where you line up on the field is arbitrary, but due to the constraints of positional names, Graham is making way less than his actual value.

What fans have to remember is that to us, it’s a game. To NFL players, coaches and GMs, it’s a business. When you say that Graham shouldn’t be looking for more money, you are defending the employer. You’re cheering for Walmart and McDonalds. Graham is entitled to try and get as much money as he can. But I’d play football for way less than that. Well, yeah, but no one wants to watch you play football. Don’t confuse the amount of money with the potential of what can be earned. I’d never balk at $40 million dollars (what Graham eventually signed for), but I’m also not in a position to make that kind of money. I’m not going to hold it against Graham because he can make eight figures and I cannot.

If you want to say Graham was a dummy, that’s fine. His actions Friday night were downright stupid. But stuff like “greedy” and “problem child” shouldn’t be associated with Graham; what he did is no different than what any other NFL player in his position would have done. Hell, look at Drew Brees’ contract negotiations not too long ago. So everyone, pump the brakes on the Graham bashing. Besides, you’ll forget all about this the moment he catches that first big touchdown pass against the Falcons. Then all will be forgiven.

As long as he doesn’t dunk the ball after.

Jimmy-Graham-could-be-smiling-all-the-way-to-the-bank-this-off-season-Image-from-NFL

Just laugh it off and catch a ton of balls, Jimmy. They’ll love you again.

 

Replacement Wide Receivers

By Rhett O’Keefe

LSU and Les Miles have been blessed the last few years with NFL talent at wide receiver, most recently in the best receiving tandem LSU has ever had with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr. Yeah I said it, the best wide receiver tandem in LSU history! We can debate this another time if you disagree, because I don’t have the time to explain to you why you are wrong. The ‘Dynamic Duo’ became the first teammates in LSU history to catch over 1,000 yards in a single season. Unfortunately the downside to having two players dominate your offense is that they will likely leave early to play on Sundays. LSU was left with a lot of young new faces coming into this year.

Then the question was asked at the Section217.com prep meeting, “Who will lead the Tigers in receptions this year?” There was silence and then the response came that we all wanted to say:

“Who the hell is left?”

I am waiting… do you know? Probably not, but I will try to introduce you to the next group of wide outs that will dominate the SEC. Yes dominate the SEC; it is not like LSU stopped recruiting top talented pass catchers. The past few recruits are not busts; they just didn’t get a chance to show their talent because of Landry and Beckham. Due to their lack of playing time, I will try to correlate each new wide out’s game to a past LSU wide receiver’s game. Let’s breakdown each player with all the information I was able to obtain starting with my favorite new addition:

Trey Quinn 6-0 192 Fr. – is short, fast, shifty, and catches everything thrown his way. His style of play will most likely be related to Josh Reed and LSU will likely use him in a similar style as Reed- a.k.a. everywhere! Last year Quinn set the national receiving yards record, and he is my new favorite player!

Quantavious Leslie 6-4 175 Sr. – is the tallest and oldest player at this position. He also wins the award for best name on offense (Tre’Davious White wins on defense). Leslie was a Junior College transfer with big expectations to impact the team right away, but he received limited his playing time thanks to the Landry/Beckham blockade. He is the slated starter, and his play will be closely associated with Dwayne Bowe.

Leslie is ready to shine.

Leslie is ready to shine.

Travin Dural 6-2 182 So. – is the only returning player with some big time SEC experience and the only player with a highlight, game winning catch from last year. He is a speedster and will look and play similar to Devery Henderson or as I like to call him, ‘Go Long Henderson’. Dural will be one of the two starters at the beginning of the season along with Leslie, but time will tell if he keeps that spot once SEC play starts.

Avery Peterson 6-2 189 RsFr.- is Patrick Peterson’s brother, so he should be good. He is strong and fast. Heck, he trained against his older brother in the off-season, so every other cornerback he faces should seem like a walk in the park. He was highly recruited out of high school, and thanks to his brother, LSU got an insider track to his commitment, and now he gets his time to shine. Look for him to come in on 3 or 4 wide receiver sets, and his play will resemble Early Doucet.

Malachi Dupre’ 6-3 188 Fr. – was the number one wide receiver coming out of high school last year. Although he was in a run heavy offense, when his number was called, he responded with spectacular plays that would wow even the most casual of fans. Not only can he can jump out of the screen, Super Tecmo Bowl style, but he also has the size and speed to make him a deep threat every down. He is the next Ruben Randall/Odell Beckham Jr./Michael Clayton combined (I hope).

FEAR THE BIFOCALS!

FEAR THE BIFOCALS!

John Diarse 6-1 207 RsFr. – was redshirted last year and likely will take the mold of Jarvis Landry in slot situations. He shows spurts of greatness during spring ball, but injuries have slowed him down from becoming a top contender for a starting spot.

Kevin Spears 6-3 189 RsFr. – was a late addition to the recruiting class two years ago and redshirted last year. He is new to football, only playing one year in high school. His redshirt year of developing should pay off. He will not be in the regular rotation at the beginning of the year, but fully expect him to be in the rotation towards the end. His play looks similar to Brandon LaFell.

Tony Upchurch 6-2 228 Fr. – is by far the biggest receiver at LSU. He lacks some speed compared to the other receivers on the team, but he will provide some quality run blocking and special teams play. His play is similar to Kadron Boone.

DJ Clark 6-1 176 Fr. – is the fastest man on the team according to Les Miles. He has impressed many within his first few practices with his speed. Fully expect him to get some playing time due to that speed. He is similar to Skylar Green, and expect him to be used just like Green in special teams along with designed plays to get him the ball in space.

That's my DJ.

That’s my DJ.

LSU is not short of talent, and based on the information coming from spring and fall practices, the competition level for playing time is high. Although talent is deep, impact on the field will be determined by either the play calling or the quarterback who wins the starting position. If Les takes control of the offense or LSU focuses on the running game, the wide outs will not be the main focus of the offense, causing multiple two or three deep coverage resulting in minimal explosive plays. BUT if Cam runs the offense and Brandon Harris wins the starting job, expect this group of pass receivers to be the X-factors in LSU’s season. They will be the difference between a fight for the SEC West and fighting for the National Championship.

If You Have Two Quarterbacks, You Have None


By Chris Gordy

As the college football season draws nearer, the one question LSU fans will continue to ask when broaching the topic of LSU football will be “Who’s our quarterback?” Well there are two…. or one… or none.

Looking Back

Yes, that’ right kids, it’s time to play everyone’s favorite game “Who’s our quarterback?” and it’s a game Les Miles hasn’t had to play all too often in his time at LSU. Here’s a look at LSU quarterbacks each year while under Les Miles:

  • 2005: JaMarcus Russell – 12 starts; Matt Flynn – 1 start
  • 2006: JaMarcus Russell – 13 starts; Matt Flynn & Ryan Perrilloux – mop-up duty
  • 2007: Matt Flynn – 12 starts; Ryan Perrilloux – 2 starts
  • 2008: Andrew Hatch – 3 starts; Jarrett Lee – 8 starts; Jordan Jefferson – 2 starts
  • 2009: Jordan Jefferson – 12 starts; Jarrett Lee – 1 start
  • 2010: Jordan Jefferson – 13 starts; Jarrett Lee – mop-up duty/”Bail us out” guy
  • 2011: Jarrett Lee – 9 starts; Jordan Jefferson – 5 starts; Zach Mettenberger – mop-up duty
  • 2012: Zach Mettenberger – 13 starts; Stephen Rivers – mop-up duty
  • 2013: Zach Mettenberger – 12 starts; Anthony Jennings – 1 start
Some good... some not so good

Some good… some not so good

Outside of the 2008 debacle (when 5-star QB & incumbent Ryan Perrilloux was booted from the team), Les Miles has typically “groomed” a quarterback each year, getting him ready to be the eventual starter. He did it with Flynn. He did it with Jefferson. He did it with Mettenberger.

So if we’re going off of history, one could assume Anthony Jennings would be the starter this season, because he got playing time on the back end of last season and was “groomed” throughout the year. But early camp reports say that true freshman Brandon Harris is performing extremely well, and grasping Cam Cameron’s offense very quickly. Could Harris buck the trend and become the first true freshman under Miles to walk into LSU and begin the season as the starter?

Dual QB System

Don’t do it, Les. Don’t do it. Please. The dreaded dual-quarterback system has rarely worked in recent history in college football. The few exceptions are scenarios where the starting quarterback is the passer, and the relief quarterback is the runner. That HAS indeed worked before. Think 2006 Florida with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. Or 2012 Oklahoma with Landry Jones and Blake Bell. Or even back to 1997 Ohio State with Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine. Those all worked.

However, both Jennings and Harris are considered pretty good passers, and while both have the ability to run, it’s hard to envision a scenario where one would be used off the bench as simply a runner. So ultimately, Miles needs to decide on one before the season opener, and roll with him. The minute we see Oprah Winfrey running down LSU’s sideline yelling, “You get a series! And you get a series! Now you get a series!” will be when LSU’s season goes down in flames.

qbs

Hey, Remember 2004?

You remember that season, right? LSU had just won the BCS National Championship game. Nick Saban had cemented himself at LSU (he’ll never leave Baton Rouge, he loves it here). And LSU was unsettled at quarterback after Matt Mauck ran off to chase his NFL dream (and his eventual ‘cleaning teeth for a living’ dream).

Enter into the picture senior quarterback Marcus Randall and redshirt freshman quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Saban literally could not decide between the two. So what did he decide? “Hell, we’ll roll with both of them.”

The somewhat disappointing 9-3 season was a rollercoaster ride, which had LSU radio play-by-play man Jim Hawthorne stumbling over himself as he swapped back and forth between “JaMarcus Randall” and “Marcus Russell”. But both quarterbacks were up and down in their performances. Randall complained he could never get into a rhythm because he was constantly looking over his shoulder. Russell complained he couldn’t get the freshman jitters out because the leash was so short on him.

Both guys had their high points that year. Randall led LSU to a come-from-behind win on the road at Florida. Russell helped handle up on Alabama (remember when Alabama sucked?), taking over for an ailing Randall. And who can forget Randall’s heroics in the final minutes to avoid a near-devastating home loss to Troy?

The point in all this is the biggest takeaway from that season was that the dual-quarterback thing doesn’t work. Also note that since that year, Saban has never run the dual quarterback system ever again.

You Decide!

So in closing, whether you think Jennings showed enough in his come-from-behind win against Arkansas, or if you think he was completely handcuffed in the bowl game and unable to show his true abilities, you might be a Jennings fan. Or you could be of the mindset that Harris is the quarterback that Cam Cameron has been looking for ever since he coached Randle El at Indiana – a true dual-threat quarterback, who possesses a dangerous enough arm to keep defenses on their heels – making you a Harris guy. Whoever you’re more of a fan of, I at least hope you agree that Miles should decide on one of them and stick with them for the season. Unless of course one of them sucks.

 

2014 Season Trailer


By Keith Claverie

Everyone loves trailers nowadays. Even the crap Michael Bay ones get people buzzing. Well, for me, the best trailers are the ones LesMiles.net drops every August. The latest installment hit the Interwebs today and, well, it got me pretty damn giddy.

Enjoy the show: 2014 Season Trailer!