Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another Disappointing Rutgers Opener

"Let's analyze what's been working for us... NOT A GOD DAMN THING HAS BEEN WORKING FOR US!" - Coach Wally Rig, "Necessary Roughness"

Last year Rutgers was supposed to have one of the best offenses in the Big East. With a senior QB, and two NFL caliber WRs it was all lined up. After years of futility, they could finally win the conference and go to a BCS Bowl. Then they lost the season opener to Fresno State, and those hopes were dashed. Then it got worse as they went to 1-5 before finally rattling off 7 wins.

So they learned from that experience, right? This year they would be ready. After spending more than $100 million renovating the stadium, adding over 10,000 additional seats, they would be ready. Facing the defending Big East champions, they have to be ready.

The fans showed up. The lots were already filling up at noon for a 4 o'clock game. The stadium filled in early. By game time, it was packed. The crowd was loud and ready.

Then Cincinnati drove down the field without resistance and put up 7. Rutgers struggled, but gradually made their way down the field. It required going for it twice on 4th down, but eventually we tied it up. Then Cincy scored again, and again, and again. By the time the final cannon sounded, it was a 47-15 loss. So what the hell went wrong?

First of all, the Rutgers defense was non-existent. They sacked Tony Pike once, and I don't think they pressured him much more than that. Cincinnati's receivers had plenty of space. We missed tackles regularly. We let them run and throw at will. They were forced to punt once, ONCE, throughout the entire game. Defense was supposed to be one of our strengths this year, but it didn't look like it on Monday.

Special teams didn't have a chance to do too much. Kick returns were OK. Kickoffs were not. Our kickoffs didn't seem to go any deeper than the 10 yard line, We didn't force a touchback. Not good.

Offense was a complete disaster. We have 5 returning starters on the O-line. They are supposed to be the best in the league. It looked like they thought they could get by on hype alone. They provided no protection for Natale, and just as little for Savage, resulting in a 4th quarter safety. They also handicapped our running backs by failing to open any holes.

Our wide receivers have been working through dropped pass issues since the spring. They're going to have to continue working on it, because balls can't bounce off people's hands or numbers for incompletions and interceptions. I know, it's tough to replace Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt, but Tim Brown put up decent numbers, and Mohammed Sanu may have already established himself as our number 1 option.

But the majority of this loss falls on coaching. Instead of naming a starting QB, Schiano wanted to play media guessing games. When he did finally choose a starter, he chose the wrong one. The buzz out of practice every day was basically "Natale intercepted x times. Savage did x, y, and z impressively." If Natale was getting picked off regulary in practice, what did you think was going to happen in a game?! I'm sorry that he's a 5th year senior and his shot consisted of one half, but it should have been readily apparent that Savage is the QB of the future and even if he has some growing pains now, he's the best option. He showed that with poise under pressure in the second half.

Then we have Jabu Lovelace. When Schiano said he would rotate all 3 QBs, everyone who has watched a Rutgers game over the past 3 years knew that Lovelace would be used in a Wildcat. That includes the opposing defense. They know he can't throw if his life depended on it- his 2 attempts were nowhere near completions. Then they stuffed him on the runs. Which is the same thing that's happened every time Jabu Lovelace has entered a game for the past two and a half years. Every fan expected that, yet Schiano stubbornly continues to run it. He nearly killed the first scoring drive with it 3 times. It destoyrs all momentum, and puts the offense in to 2nd or 3rd and long situations. Again, Lovelace is a senior and I'm sorry, but he should not see significant playing time.

As a whole, this team was not prepared in any of the aspects of the game. The offense was ineffective. You can't turn the ball over three times in one half and expect to win. The defense didn't have a clue. Schiano said they were a step behind. It was worse than that. They were pourous. They applied no pressure to the QB, running backs, or receivers. They allowed Cincinnati to move the ball at will. Schiano was outprepared, and badly outcoached by Brian Kelly.

Once again, Rutgers is in a hole to start the season. Schinao finally relented today and named Savage the starting QB for the Howard game. With a very weak nonconference schedule coming up, hopefully we can work through these issues, get on track and salvage this season.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Rare Update

Hmmm... 1 blog over the past 2 months. I thought I would have stuck with it longer than that. So what have I been up to?

Well, since I have football on right now, I'll mention that my fantasy football season is pretty much done. My preseason prediction of mediocrity was fairly accurate, and I'll finish up under .500. Injuries and inconsistent play were a problem all year. Brian Westbrook was a waste of a first round pick. Anquan Boldin was a great 2nd rounder, but his injuries have been an issue. Big Ben was one of my keepers, and was injured/unreliable all year. Jamal Lewis was my other keeper and also had a horrible season.

I also played in my first World Series of Poker event. It was actually a low buy-in WSOP Circuit event at Harrah's in AC. It didn't go well, but I'll try again next month. Borgata has a deep-stack tourney next month that sounds decent, or I may try another Limit tourney there next month.

I haven't started Christmas shopping yet. I always leave it for the last minute. No reason this year should be any different.

Not going to Rutgers bowl game this year... too far to drive, too expensive to fly. Plus it's a shitty bowl. Hopefully we can get in gear before losing 5 games next year, though I don't know without Teel and Britt.

Theoretically I'll write up some more music and TV blogs. Saw Scott Weiland at Borgata. Chuck has been brilliant. Heroes has been a massive disappointment. Or I just won't post anything for another 2 months. Who knows?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why I Love Vegas

I realized today just how much I've been slacking here.  I hadn't sent a Tweet in 6 days (follow me) and I haven't posted a blog here since before I went away on vacation.  I went out to Vegas for a week.  I had a lot of fun even though it wasn't particularly profitable.  I played one really good tournament, finishing 12 out of 137 at the Venetian's noon tournament one day.  BTW, the Venetian runs the best daily poker tournaments I've ever played.  They also have one of the nicest poker rooms I've ever been in.  Anyway, the rest of my poker results were pretty horrific.

This was my third time out to Vegas.  (Technically it's the fourth, but the first time was twice in a week, so I just count it as one.)  I've done a lot of the sightseeing stuff in earlier trips, so I didn't do too much this time.  Still, I always have to see the Bellagio fountains at least once.  I also rode the New York, New York rooftop roller coaster again.  

I saw Cirque du Soleil's "O" at the Bellagio.  The Cirque shows are fantastic.  "O" is the water themed show, and it was very cool.  Still I think "Love," the Beatles Cirque show was better, and I'd really like to see it again at some point.

Anytime I go on vacation to someplace new I have this stupid habit... I like to eat at the fast food chains that we don't have here in NJ.  In Toronto, it was Tim Horton's.  In Houston it was Whattaburger.  I've been to all of them before, but in Vegas I got Jack In The Box, Del Taco, and In 'N' Out Burger.  (Side note, Jack In The Box really needs to expand out here.)  Also Dunkin Donuts has finally started adding some locations in Vegas, so I finally got a decent coffee.

There is one really silly thing about Vegas that I just love, and that's the music you hear in the casinos and the parking garages.  A couple of years ago, it was "Glory of Love" the Peter Cetera song from the Karate Kid Part 2 soundtrack.  This time, I took notes on the bizzare stuff.  It took me about two minutes to realize I was singing along out loud to Cheap Trick "Surrender" in the MGM Grand parking deck.  There was Fleetwood Mac "Little Lies" in the halls of the Bellagio as I looked for the "O" Theater.  (If I remember correctly that was followed by a Roxette song, but I didn't make a note of that.)  I heard Richard Marx in the Venetian poker room.  I found that to be particularly odd after they played O.A.R.'s "Shattered."  Mr. Mister's "Kyrie" in the halls of the MGM Grand was another fun one.  The absolute strangest song though had to be in Paris in the walkway back to the parking deck at about 3 in the morning.  They were playing Letters to Cleo "Here & Now."  I seriously doubt most people have any clue who Letters to Cleo are.  I can't, for the life of me, figure out why they'd be playing such an obscure band in Paris, of all casinos.

Anyway, I've been back for a couple weeks now.  I'll start getting caught up with new posts.  I'll probably skip writing directly about the TV stuff from the past few weeks and just pick up with the new episodes.  I also have a few new CDs I've been listening to (but haven't ripped to iTunes yet) so there'll be more reviews coming there too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TV- Monday Night Recap 10/13

The Sarah Connor Chronicles was pre-empted by baseball, which is good since the Giants were on Monday Night Football.  Of course, the Giants got whupped by the Browns which was significantly less good.  Anyway, on to scripted TV...

How I Met Your Mother

Much better episode than last week.  Not outrageously funny, but at least they weren't ragging on Jersey again.  I'm starting to think Stella's not the mother...


Well, at least something Giants related was good.  Michael Strahan as a bully from the sporting goods store tormenting Morgan and Lester was pretty funny.  Anna beating him with a tripod was also funny.  And Casey calling for a background because he has a candidate for a field agent was perfect. Captain Awesome running interference between Bryce and Sarah was also good.

What's  weird is that I usually don't like the side stories as much as the main one, but I could have done without another Chuck "I'm not as good as Bryce" episode.  It wasn't horrible, but I liked the bully story better.


I'm really starting to like how Sylar is developing.  Seeing him play Claire and HRG off each other was pretty good.  I still haven't seen a reason why Peter needed Sylar's power.  And I'm just not buying Mohinder's actions.  Or Hiro's for that matter, but I suspect that stabbing Ando was a trick.  HRG also took a step backwards, lying to Claire and trying to use the vortex guy to kill Sylar.  Again decent action this episode, but stupid characterization, except Sylar.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Music Reviews- Low Vs Diamond, Oasis, Buckcherry

Low Vs. Diamond - "Low Vs. Diamond"
iPod: 11/11
iPhone: Don't Forget Sister
This Is Your Life
Cinema Tonight
Heart Attack
Save Yourself
I'll Be

These things tend to come in pairs for me.  Last week I wrote about Kings of Leon "Only By the Night."  This disc is just as solid.  Start to finish, there isn't a single bad song.  None of the songs needed a "grow on me" bump to get ripped to the iPod, but a couple are edging their way onto the iPhone.  I also mentioned my disappointment with the new Killers' song.  This band is very reminiscent of early (i.e. "good") Killers, so if you like them, you'll love Low vs. Diamond.

Oasis - "Dig Out Your Soul"
iPod: 6/11
iPhone: Bag It Up
The Shock Of The Lightning

For me, this album is a bit front loaded.  The early songs rock.  The later songs have more of a Beatle-esque wanna be feel, but they aren't quite strong enough compared to the early tracks.  With more listens, one or two of them may grow on me a little bit, but overall this is an average album.

Buckcherry- "Black Butterfly"
iPod: 0/12

Oh, this is a tough one.  Maybe I like "15" more than it deserved, and I want to like this follow up.  The songs on "Black Butterfly" aren't that bad.  The problem is that there's nothing new.  Every track has a very similar song on the previous album, but in every case, the old version is the better one.  There's also nothing that's quite as fun or catchy as "Crazy Bitch."  I'll probably come around a rip a couple songs later, but when I do, it will be because of how much I liked their last album.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TV- Monday Night Recap 10/6

Warning: Spoilers Ahead- Particularly Heroes and Terminator

How I Met Your Mother

Not my favorite episode of all time.  Ragging on my home state of New Jersey is never cool.  The running joke about no one responding to Barney's fist pump was kind of amusing, but the set up was that no one would respond to his lame jokes.  Usually his one-liners are some of the best laughs, so that hurt this episode.  Marshall's rant about being too big for New York was pretty funny, though.


Decent episode.  It looks like they've gotten the formula to balance the action and comedy just about right, and they're not going to veer away from that too much.  John Laroquette and Melinda Clarke were both fine in guest roles, but I don't think either was stronger than Michael Clarke Duncan last week.  My one problem with the episode was that it would have been nice if they didn't spoil the surprise at the end by putting the actor's name in the guest credits at the start of the episode. 


Good episode.  Time travel episodes have always been solid, and it's good to see them using it quite a bit within episodes this season.  I'm still not 100% sold on Sylar being Peter's brother (it feels like a "jump the shark" move) but it was interesting to see how different he is in the future.  I'm not quite clear on why it was necessary for Peter to take Sylar's power- they essentially already have the same power, except Peter doesn't need to tear someone's head open to gain their ability.  Unless maybe Peter can only do this for people with natural abilities, and Sylar is capable of getting them from people who got abilities by injection.  I also don't understand why Hiro would dig up Adam... one, it doesn't make sense for him to do it based on their history together, and  two, he can teleport.  The pacing and action have definitely been better this season than they were last year, but they still need to tighten up the characters.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

This is quickly becoming my favorite show on TV.  Last week's episode was a little strange.  Being so heavily focused on Cameron didn't quite fit with the rest of the season so far, and seeing her malfunctioning again was not great.  This week was back to form, and was another excellent episode.  Seeing John begin to mature while at the same time rebel has been the highlight of this season.  Thematically, his frustration with accepting fate and the predetermination of events makes this show much closer in tone to the first two movies. (Thankfully the show ignores the crapfest that was Terminator 3.  T2 ends on "No fate but what we make for ourselves.  T3 ends with Skynet launching it's attack because the future is predetermined.  Did the people responsible for T3 even watch James Cameron's movies?)  

Back to this episode, it was a perfect example of what this show does so right.  Introducing a character like Bidell, mirroring John's frustration as another person who's "destined" to become a great man.  It maturely looks at the question of destiny, as John and Derek talk about Bidell's desire to run away. "He has a choice.  We just have to help him make the right one."  Through his actions, we again see John becoming a man who could lead a resistance against the machines, and he inspires Bidell to become someone who would die to protect John in the future.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen that this episode didn't have, is more information about Weaver's daughter.  Is she human and just doesn't know that her mother has been replaced, or is it a child terminator?

Monday, October 6, 2008

TV- Entourage 10/5

Why can't the Emmy's ever get it right?  Yes, everybody likes Jeremy Piven, but he was nominated a year too late, and started winning well after he stopped being the funniest part of this show.  Kevin Dillon's Johnny Drama has been the highlight for years.  At least he was finally nominated this year.  Hopefully he wins for this season.

There hasn't been a character with this many hysterical, bizarre quirks since Jerry Seinfeld.  And the random outbursts just can't be topped.  I literally sprayed water over half the room when, tripping on mushrooms he blurted out "I thought I pulled my cock off... OK, it's still there."  

What started out as an inside joke, the lesser known brother of a famous actor playing the washed up brother of a famous actor, has become the best character on the show and one of the funniest on TV.