Thursday, September 17, 2009

dB's NCAA Predictions: Week 3

Last week provided some very good storylines to preview what should be a huge week for college football. Freshmen quarterbacks were the talk of the town last weekend. USC was propelled by Matt Barkley and Joe McKnight on a last-minute drive to top Ohio State 18-15. Michigan edged out Notre Dame in a classic as Tate Forcier showed glimpses of what Wolverine fans can expect for the next for the next few years. This week promises more great matchups and even the chance for an upset or two.
DB’s Game of the Week

*No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 20 Miami

The ACC has been in a bit of a funk so far this season, and this looks like this will be the perfect game to remedy that problem. Both teams last played in close games against conference rivals, and I see this game being no different.

Miami has something to prove against a triple-option attack from Georgia Tech that racked up 472 yards rushing, including 128 yards by 2009 ACC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer.

The Hurricanes have had extra time to prepare for the most unique offense they will face all year, and they will certainly need all the time they can get. The keys for Miami will be to stop the fullback -who is Dwyer- on dive plays and they have to force Georgia Tech into obvious passing situations.

Yellow Jackets quarterback Josh Nesbitt struggled mightily in their win over Clemson, passing for only 83 yards and only had one more completion (three) than interceptions (two).

Miami has the home-field advantage this time around, still has momentum from their season-opening win over Florida State, and a lot to prove. Truthfully, I originally thought Georgia Tech squeak out a thriller. After their last game however, I am giving the edge to Miami.

DB’s prediction: Miami 30 Georgia Tech 28

*No. 19 Nebraska at No. 13 Virginia Tech

The ACC is being tested this week, now with the Cornhuskers making a visit to Blacksburg. Both teams are coming off of big wins over relatively weak teams in week two.

Virginia Tech was able to show that they can have a running game, even with the loss of Darren Evans before the start of the season. Freshmen running backs David Wilson and Ryan Williams each ran for 160 yards, the first time in school history that has happened. Obviously they are going up against a much better defense, but it can also be said that Nebraska isn’t facing the chumps that they did in the first two weeks of the season.

This is a very tough game for me to pick, they seem even to me. Once again, I will have to take the home team because their backs should be more effective. You also can never count out “Beamer Ball”, I think it makes at least one appearance on Saturday. These wins by Miami and Virginia Tech would set up a huge early-season matchup that could determine who represents the ACC Coastal division in the championship game.

DB’s prediction: Virginia Tech 23 Nebraska 17

*Tennessee at No. 1 Florida

This game has been heavily anticipated since Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin in the winter. He has done nothing short of anger Florida Gator fans, players, boosters, and coaches. The coaches won’t display their anger very much right now, but you can believe that Urban Meyer would put up 70 points if he could.

The thing is, he won’t be able to do it this year. The things going against that for the Gators are big: no real game-breaking wide receivers have shown themselves yet. He will also be going against Monte Kiffin, who he has a good relationship with, but will also throw the most complex defense he will see all season. We also can’t forget, Tennessee has Eric Berry.

All being said, I still think Florida will win the game. It will be closer than the experts think, but further away than the Volunteers will like it to be. Florida’s defense is still too dominant on defense and they have Tim Tebow. Had Tennessee won last week against UCLA, I might have a different tune. They didn’t, so now I predict a fairly easy Florida victory.

DB’s prediction: Florida 42 Tennessee 14

*Florida State at No. 7 BYU

This is an interesting because it represents almost the opposite ends of the college football spectrum off the field. In Provo, you find the clean cut boys who all have to go on missions and seem not to ever break any rules. Meanwhile, the visitors from Tallahassee are, well, Florida State.

On the field, this should be an interesting matchup. Both teams won last week, but Florida State had a much harder time than they anticipated against Jacksonville State of the FCS in a 19-9 victory.

Honestly, it’s hard to pick against BYU right now because they are at home, Florida State isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, and the Cougars still have dreams of a BCS bowl. They still want to prove that they can play with the big boys. No better time than this week for the Mountain West to stand up again.

DB’s non-BCS prediction: BYU 31 Florida State 21

DB’s Upset Alerts (the pick for the game)

East Carolina at No. 24 North Carolina (UNC)
No.18 Utah at Oregon (Oregon)
No. 10 Boise State at Fresno State (Boise State)
No. 3 USC @ Washington (Washington)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2009 JU Football Preview

If there was a word to describe the 2009 Jacksonville University football team, what would it be?
Pressure would not be it, at least if you ask around the team.
The Dolphins are looking to build on their history-making 2008 season with a repeat Pioneer Football League championship and a possible playoff appearance. Expectations are high, but the team does not seem to be phased very much by them.
“The team has responded real well after the winning the championship,” sophomore quarterback Josh McGregor said when asked about the mindset of the team coming into this season. “We have our heads on our shoulders and we are ready to show people that we are not just a one-year wonder, we will be able to compete each and every year.”
McGregor will be at the helm of an offense that was second in the PFL in total offense and fourth in passing offense. It will only help him that he is going into his second year under Head Coach Kerwin Bell’s system.
“I feel real comfortable this year and I’m hoping to learn from last year’s mistakes and make it an even better season.” McGregor commented. He is coming off of a record-setting season which saw him rewrite the single-season school record book for passing yards (2,444), passing touchdowns (24), and completions (172). He is also within striking distance of the all-time school records for each of those categories.
There is certainly depth and experience at the quarterback position, with junior quarterback Erik Stepleton backing up McGregor. He proved capable of leading the team to victory last season as he stepped into the lineup and leading the team to a fourth quarter come back win over San Diego.
The running back position promises to be just as loaded as and maybe even more loaded than quarterback. There is a stable of backs, highlighted by Rudell Small. The all-PFL back rushed for 1,364 yards and 13 touchdowns. Backing up Small are sophomores J.J. Laster and Keith Dawson, and juniors Ron Harris and Maurice Manning.
“I feel that have the best core of running backs in the conference,” Small said. “I believe all of us are able to step up and make big plays when we’re called on.”
*Area on offense with the most question marks-offensive line: The line will have to overcome the loss of stalwarts Mike Aguilar and Chris Tessitore, who anchored the line for the last three years.
With junior tackle Leonard Payton and sophomore center Ian Osking as the returning starters from last year, questions still remain for the other three spots. Candidates to start are sophomore tackle Chad Cypher, junior guards Dustin Robinson and Levan Sims.
*Surprise player to step up on the offense-FB Jarvis Williams: The junior linebacker-turned-fullback has finally nailed down the starting spot to lead block for Small and the other talented tailbacks.
Williams looks like he will be a solid target out of the backfield for McGregor and could end up showing the same effectiveness that tight end Chris Kuck did last year, leading the team in touchdown receptions with five. He finally seems to have found his niche on the team and it should pay dividends as he could be the best pure fullback in the PFL this year.
*Wide receiver most likely to step up as the main target-Josh Philpart: The sophomore is primed to step into role of lead receiver on the team after tying for the team lead in receptions (36) ending up second on the team in receiving yards (444) and receiving touchdowns (four).
Philpart is a reliable target as a possession receiver that could be the next of the great receivers to come out of JU. He possesses great hands and good route running ability that makes him dangerous.
He is far from the only receiver returning for the Dolphins. Juniors Tommie Rogers, Rodney Sumter, and Elliot Finkley along with senior Sam Bell figure to play key roles in the passing game. As mentioned earlier, the tight ends could also be big parts of the offense in different ways. Kuck is smaller and known more for his pass-catching ability, while senior Tim Kraemer is big and a great run-blocker.
“We have a ton of good receivers and I am hoping to put up big numbers with these guys,” McGregor commented when asked about replacing Geavon Tribble in the passing game. “I feel like any receiver that we call on will go out there and make plays for us.”
‘An even more dangerous unit’
The defense returns a load of talent to a unit that finished in the top 20 nationally in both scoring and total defense.
The defensive line promises to be a strong point on the defensive side of the ball, with a wealth of experience and talent. They are led by junior defensive end Shaun Lewis, who came out of nowhere to tear through the PFL last season and finish second in the conference in sacks.
“I’m very confident, we have a lot of guys returning,” Lewis said when asked about his confidence in the defense this year. “We’re a veteran defense, and when you add the young talent we’re an even more dangerous unit.”
The other returning defensive ends include juniors Bradley Burns and Ray Gault along with senior Aaron Frye. On the interior part of the line, the returning defensive tackles are Haywood Range, Rolando Fines, and Cevonte Heagle. With so much depth on the line, there should plenty of opportunities with fresh legs on the field at all times.
“Everything starts up front on the defensive line,” Lewis commented. “We know we set the tone on game day and we’re going to always be ready to make plays.”
*Area on defense with the most question marks-the secondary: The back four on the defense has to replace two of the better defensive backs in school history in Tremaine Mack and Robson Noel.
Returning is senior safety Jason Wood, who is the clear leader of the secondary. After picking up all-american honors this offseason, Wood is poised to lead this defense to another top five national ranking in pass efficiency defense. He is also within striking distance of the career tackles record, needing 89 to break Brandon Torre’s mark.
“I won’t sit here and lie, the record matters to me,” Wood said when asked about being so close to the record. “At the same time, winning matters more. I’d rather go 11-0 and not even come close to the record rather than achieve it and lose games.”
There is youth in the secondary, but the talent is there to make it a formidable threat. If the secondary gels by the time conference play rolls around and hopefully sooner, this defense will be scary.
The leading candidate to replace Mack at the other safety position is senior Keenan Bowe. Both cornerback positions have good competition for the starters. The top candidates to play are Brian Valdez, Leonard Smith, JeMarr Anderson, and Roderick Clark. Anderson and Clark are new to the team this year, with Anderson transferring in from Temple. Clark is hoping to pick where he left off in his freshman year when he started for the Dolphins. This should be one of the more intriguing positions for Jacksonville this season.
“The core of defensive backs is very versatile and deep this year,” Wood said.
The linebacking core has experience returning, led by Layne McCombs, Joseph and Allen Fennell, and Will Perry. Sophomore Andy Sainvil has a chance to make an impact as a backup this season.
The Fennell brothers are the talk of the linebackers, because they are probably the two most talented in the unit. This is the year for both of them to step up, if they show the talent and utilize the experience they have, it will be dangerous for the rest of the PFL.
Perry stepped up as a vocal leader last season and there’s no reason to think he won’t back it up on the field just like he did in 2008.
The special teams should be solid once again this year, with senior Donovan Curry back to handle the kicking duties. Sophomore Logan Chipperfield has the punting duties.
There are plenty of predictions going around about your Jacksonville Dolphins, but when I look at the schedule I only see two potential roadblocks to an undefeated season: September 12 at Samford and October 24 at San Diego. If there is any season to make the playoffs, this would be the year. My prediction for this season is 11-0 with a huge upset over their Souther Conference opponent. Are the playoffs in the future? I think so.
The 2009 JU Dolphins will be the Florida Gators for everyone in the PFL, but do they feel the pressure? Not if you ask no. 47.
“No pressure at all, we feel like we have the most talent in the league. We’re confident and ready for any challenges we face this year.”

Are you 'Ready'?

Underneath the hype and madness of being a famous music artist you should realize that Tremaine Neverson, better known to his fans as Trey Songz, is simply a man that wants to be successful but is working at attaining that success. That’s right, there is more to him than what you see on the television and hear on his albums. Behind it all is a man who is working hard so his fans can get the best of what he has to offer.

“What is a normal day?” Songz replied when asked what a normal day consists of for him. “I don’t have normal days. There is a different type of day for me when I go on tour, do promos, record albums, and shoot videos. It all consists of a lot of work.”

With so much time devoted to being an artist, what does he do in the little free time he does have?

“When I get time off I kick it at home with my family. I got a couple brothers, and I’m a mommas boy. When I get a chance to kick it, I watch TV, play basketball, bowl. I just like to lay back and be regular.”

The hard work will pay off with his highly-anticipated third album Ready, which dropped on Monday. The singles on Ready include “Brand New”, “I Need a Girl”, “Successful” and “LOL :-)”.

“I’m feeling great,” he said when asked about his feelings with the album being released. “There’s a lot of buzz about me right now. I have four records out there that are doing well that are on the album and all of my music is being received well.”

The guest artists on the album include Drake, Gucci Mane, and Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em. Production on the album is led by Troy Taylor along with Sean Garrett, Patrick Hayes, Stargate, Los Da Mystro, and Brian Michael Cox among others.

“I think there is definitely a great show of growth on this album from the last two albums,” Songz commented when asked to compare this album to his first two, I Gotta Make It and Trey Day. “I feel like my first album was of course an introduction piece and my second album was a little more contemporary and hip-hop. This album is bringing the two worlds together as well as bringing other aspects of my music into it.”

Along with talking about the album, The Navigator wanted to take a look at other things that you wouldn’t often hear from an artist at his caliber. No matter what happens, he is still a young artist putting in work to be even better every day.

When asked about what he would be doing if he wasn’t an artist, the answer was simple: there is nothing else he’d be doing.

“I never had a plan B.” Songz confessed. The closest thing he had to a backup plan was being a barber, but he still admits that he would be trying to get into the music industry even as he cut hair. Fortunately for him, the music industry called first and cutting hair is a luxury he can choose to do.

You read about the collaborations he has on the new album, but who would Songz team up with if he could with any artist, living or otherwise?

“I’d say Marvin Gaye, because I feel like his music was really an outlet for his feelings.”

That answer is not surprising considering the music influences he listed off, an impressive mixture of artists that show his love and respect for music history.

“My homie Troy Taylor put me onto a lot of things that I knew nothing about. He put me onto the Isley Brothers and Michael Jackson,” Songz said when asked about some of who he listened to. “Anybody from Steely Dan to Aretha Franklin to Marvin Gaye to Donnie Hathaway to R. Kelly. Even rappers influence my style.” That is not a surprise when you hear his music because you hear the singing but you also hear him rapping as well. Such a diverse talent seems bound to succeed.

For any of his fans on Twitter, they know that it is not very hard to keep up with him now if they follow him (@SongzYuuup). How does he feel about the ease of interacting with the fans with social networking websites such as Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook?

“It’s a great marketing tool,” he says, noting that two or three years ago he would have had to send his songs to tons of DJs in order to get them played and now he can put it on his Twitter and his fans can hear it instantly. “There’s not so much in between me and my fans now.”

With all that said, the only thing left to do now is go out and to your nearest music store, or go on iTunes to make sure you get Ready. This album is for his fans.

“It lets them see how much I really care about what I do and how much I care for my fans.”