Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quick Hits

1) I'm not sure whether it's the system, the hype or the player, but Darrius Heyward-Bey has to change something, and quick.  The No. 7 overall draft pick has only 6 catches in 9 games and has yet to break 100 total yards for the season, much less have a 100-yard game.  I know everybody said he was drafted too high when the Raiders took him, but I hate seeing him disappoint like this.  I watched him play against my high school when he was a senior, and unfortunately, I saw what a lot of people saw: he was fast, sure, but for he got outjumped by a 5'11" kid (DHB is 6'2") and never showcased the homerun capability that he actually displayed for a little while at Maryland.  Maybe he's not being used the right way; Maryland got him the ball on a lot reverses and trick plays that let him use his speed in the open field, and I haven't really seen that in Oakland. Maybe he doesn't quite click with Jamarcus Russell, but you would think they would get along, a strong-armed passer with a fleet-footed receiver, both of whom are under a lot of pressure.  Whatever it is, he's not gonna have a j-o-b if he doesn't start putting up numbers soon.

2)  This whole business with protecting the quarterback is getting out of hand, especially considering the things quarterbacks are now doing to opposing players. Consider Brady Quinn's low block on Terrell Suggs on Monday Night Football. Yes, Quinn got flagged and fined, but only after consider commotion from Ravens players who were understandably irate when they found out that Suggs had partially torn his MCL and couldn't play this coming Sunday against the Colts.  If we're talking about protecting people, defenseless receivers should be the ones keeping coaches awake at night.  They're the ones skying for balls ten feet in the air without being able to see who's coming to hit them.  They're the ones whose eyes are always tracking a moving object, tracking, tracking, tracking.......til BOOM! They're on the ground courtesy of the opposing safety.  Ask a player whether he would rather run a pattern across the middle or drop back in the pocket, and I bet you he takes the pocket most of the time.

3) Watch out for Memphis basketball this season. And no, I'm not living in the past - at least not that past.  The "past" I'm thinking of is Josh Pastner, newly appointed savior/coach of the now Calipari-less program.  Coaching as the head man in only his second game ever, Pastner managed to walk away from #1 Kansas with a two-point loss, which is pretty good for a team that looks nothing like the ones of the previous two years that have made deep runs in the NCAA tournament.  Pastner is enthusiastic, experienced and effective.  He's been coaching since he was 16 (he coached an AAU team to a national championship as a teenager), he's already recruited a top three class of seven players for next season, and his optimism is so overflowing it borders on the ridiculous.  What's not to like?  If guys like Pierre Henderson-Niles and Roburt Sallie can contribute on a regular basis, the Tigers will dominate Conference USA as if nothing changed between last spring and now.

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