Friday, 30 November 2012

Game Of The Week - Coach Wake Interview

First up, it’s an interview with Carnegie's head coach Paul Wake:

What can you tell us about your opponent?
Hull university are a good solid team with some excellent players on both sides of the ball. I'm sure head coach Martin Gardham will have his guys well prepared for this game.

What will be the deciding factor in the game in your opinion?
We can only focus on our own performance. Not giving away so many penalties will be a big factor for us. Hull are too good a side to help them with easy yards from penalties.

Any players on your team to watch out for?
Rather not single out any particular squad members as we promote a strong team ethos. We have a very high percentage of first year students with a fair number starting for us. Although they're on a steep learning curve they've adjusted really well.

Any players on the other team to watch out for?
We'll see who performs on the day. I'm sure Hull university will have their fair share of key players.

Do you consider this a rivalry game?
Not really. They've edged us in the last couple of meetings since we beat them in our first encounter. We try not to buy too much into inter-collegiate rivalry as it can be a double-edged sword and can be as distracting as it is motivating. Our rivalry is with whoever we meet on gameday.

How has the team improved from last year’s game?
The foundations of the last couple of years are starting to bear fruit on recruitment. We've taken on some good raw talent to add to an experienced skeleton. There's a lot of enthusiasm in the squad that sometimes manifests itself in too many penalties, but I love to see the guys enjoying their football.

Any any other quote you'd like to give?
We’re looking forward to an enjoyable encounter with both sides giving a good account of themselves.

Game of the Week- QB Seb Gogerly

What can you tell us about your opponent?
They're a tough opposition who are well disciplined and play physical football. Its a close game everytime we play them and we'll be looking to keep their offense off the scoreboard for as much of the game as possible.

What will be the deciding factor in the game in your opinion?
Big plays on offense. We are two defensively stingy teams and it'll take a few big plays on offense or special teams to get points on the board I think.

Any players on your team to watch out for?
We have a variety of players in plenty of positions on the field that can heavily impact the outcome of a game. We will execute well as a unit and let the experiences players make plays.

Any players on the other team to watch out for?
As I've mentioned they have a stout defence so they're entire unit of LBs will need to be considered when we bring out our game plan offensively.

Do you consider this a rivalry game?
Not necessarily a rivalry game but this match will probably be our hardest of the season and could decide who will go on to win the division. We are treating it like a playoff game due to its importance and we'll be playing hard.

How has the team improved from last year’s game?
We lost alot of seniors but we held depth in key positions. Offensively we improved alot in working as a unit and as a team we are more committed this year. We'll be playing a physical game on defence and flowing to the ball like we have all year. It should be a great game

Game Of The Week - Hull Sharks vs. Leeds Carnegie

We’re barely out of the starting gates in the North East division (partly due to the rain), but it’s already looking like this is the sort of game that could decide who tops the table at season’s end.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

BAFA Uni Week Five Predictions

Edinburgh Napier Knights at Stirling Clansmen
Talk about your polar opposites. Whilst the Clansmen are squashing the rest of their division like a one armed gorilla reaching for a mushy banana, the Knights have barely troubled the Down marker let alone the score sheet.
Stirling come off a 71-7 over the posher Edinburgh team and must be relishing taking on Napier on their flashy turf at Gannochy in Stirling. Rumours reached DC towers that Stirling were disappointed in this result and felt they took their foot of the gas!
On the plus side for the Knights their Defense has been their one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing year. Harsh field position and turnover ball has really cost Napier dear and their Offense ranks #5 in the division.
Prediction: Clansmen by 40 (ED: should we open up the 2 division debate again?)
Edinburgh Predators at UWS Pyro’s
The Pyro’s lost last weekend to the Glasgow Tigers 27-7 but by all accounts put up a good fight. Two costly interceptions and a score chopped off mean that UWS are no longer a softer touch than a baby in a mitten factory. They will want to mix it up in this fixture set to be fought out in Scotland’s December mud.
The Pred’s come of their bye-week still fizzing over their OT loss to Glasgow two weeks ago. Their deep threat and quick run game should make them favourites for this one as they hope to catch Glasgow in 2nd place. Edinburgh has proven adept at coping with a huddle in the puddle and should be too sharp on the day.
Prediction: Predators by 20

College Football Week 14 Preview

#11 Oklahoma @ TCU – 17:00

Can the Horned Frogs beat another ranked team?

Before I start this game preview I’m going to detail the Big 12 championship implications that come along with it; Oklahoma win and Kansas State loses to Texas, then Oklahoma are outright Big 12 champs and get an automatic BCS bid which would most likely see them go to the Sugar Bowl. If both the Sooners and Wildcats win then they each share the Big 12 title but K-State would get the bowl bid (Fiesta) as they own the tiebreaker over Bob Stoops’ team. If Oklahoma lose, then K-State are guaranteed a share of the title and the bowl bid, but will need to win outright to take the Big 12 championship for themselves. Everything clear? Good, game preview time.

With TCU beating the Longhorns last week on Thanksgiving and Oklahoma coming off a OT win against Bedlam Bowl rivals, Oklahoma State, this game really intrigues me and as detailed above is a big matchup for the Sooners on the road.

They key matchup in this game is going to be Landry Jones and the Sooner passing game against Gary Patterson’s defense and their scheme. Although Jones hasn’t lived up to much of the hype placed upon him, he has managed to do what all seniors hope to do, have their best season, at least statistically anyway. He’s been at his best away from home having only thrown three interceptions to his 14 TDs, but when you look at the competition he’s faced on the road, UTEP, Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia, it’s nothing to be particularly impressed by.

This TCU team is young, but Patterson’s defensive system still has his guys playing to a high level despite having a sub-par year according to TCU defensive standards. They key for the Horned Frogs defense is to continue being the ball hawks that they have been this year, ranking third in the nation in interceptions with 20, a couple of which went back for touchdowns. Jones and the Sooner offense will most likely look to be airing it out as the TCU rushing defense ranks 7th in the nation with a 97.27 yard average and the Sooners only rank 61st in the nation on the ground, and this is where those interceptions become key, if the TCU defenders can get their mitts on some Landry Jones passes, it’s their best chance of coming out with a win.

Prediction: Thinking the Sooners take this one, but maybe a little too close for comfort against a TCU side that might just have another surprise. Oklahoma 31-24.

#2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia – 21:00 @ The Georgia Dome, Atlanta.

The unofficial national semi-final.

Can anyone say national semi-final? That’s pretty much what this game amounts to, win, and you get to go play for all the marbles in Miami against Notre Dame, lose, and you’ve had an average SEC year and you get to go to a decent bowl game.

For many, Georgia kind of became irrelevant after they rolled over against South Carolina, and apart from a close win over Florida, none of their wins have been overly impressive, but don’t be misguided into thinking that this team doesn’t deserve to be in the SEC Championship game because of that. 

Georgia are very dynamic offensively, despite not setting the world alight either running or passing the ball, they are a threat to any defense no matter who gets the rock. In Aaron Murray they have a junior gunslinger who’s put up over 3000 yards and 30 TDs through the air and has reliable targets in both Tavarres King (704 yds, 8 TDs) and Malcolm Mitchell (532 yds, 5 TDs). The Bulldog backfields sees the potent combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall who have combined for nearly 2000 yards and 22 TDs. 

With these offensive weapons, it’s going to be tough for Alabama to key towards stopping one, and they will have to play a more balanced defense to cover all eventualities, which could open up some holes for one of Georgia’s weapons to exploit. In the end I believe that Aaron Murray is the one who has to go out and win this game for Georgia, as long as he’s getting good support on the ground,  he's going to have the chance to make big plays against the Alabama secondary.

The Crimson tide are almost a mirror of the Bulldog offense, a junior trigger man in AJ McCarron that has performed to an All-American standard this year, and is also backed up by a running back combo that can move the ball on anyone in Eddie Lacy and  TJ Yeldon. For me, ‘Bama are going to have to grind it out with the run game because this is where they outclass Georgia's defence who rank 69th in the nation in yards given up per game on the ground with 163, whilst the Crimson Tide rank 22nd in rushing yards per game with 214.

Either way, this game is going to be an SEC slugfest with both teams having a great shot at winning it, get your popcorn ready.

Prediction: This one is a coin flip for me, I don’t really have much confidence in picking the winner correct, but I think I’ll go with the Alabama run-game just being too much for the Bulldogs to handle. Alabama 31 – 21.

#18 Texas @ #6 Kansas State – 01:00

Are the Wildcats ready to take the Big 12 for their own?

The last game of the night on ESPN America will be the second half of the Big 12 title decider and it should be a good one … if Texas decide to show up.

The Longhorns have been one of college footballs biggest enigmas this year and I for one do not know what to make of them; are they the team that showed up last week against TCU (I watched them and they were very lacklustre) or are they the team that bludgeoned Ole Miss, beat a good OK State team and then handled a dangerous Texas Tech team on the road? I just don’t know which Texas will show up this weekend, but I’ll break down some things for you to look out for.

Running back is a position of strength for Texas, but so far they haven’t really found the sweet spot, long story short they have 4 guys who are dangerous with the ball in hand, but they all seem to limit each others carries and effectiveness. The starter is freshman Johnathan Gray who is the holder of the all-time high school TD record with 205 and is a pretty complete back, even at this point, but has only 3 touchdowns on the year. Their touchdown machine has been their short yardage back, Joe Bergeron, who has 16 scores on the year, and then there’s sophomore Malcolm Brown, who was a standout last season for the Longhorns but has been injured this year, and finally Daje Johnson, who only has 189 yards on the year, but is a freshman that is a home run threat. You will see them all get touches on Saturday, but Texas really needs one of them to stand out and make a difference against this tough Wildcat defense.

Texas will be starting Case McCoy at QB in place of David Ash who struggled last week and is banged up, but in my opinion I can’t see the difference it will make, I personally feel that neither QB has show the consistency or intangibles to be a top level starter as I’ve watched them both be outstanding as well as absolutely terrible in the same game. The only fun thing about Case starting is that we’ll once again see the McCoy to Shipley connection with Jaxon being one of the Longhorns best pass catching threats. 

Since being one and done at #1, the Wildcats have had two weeks to stew and plan for the Longhorns at home and I think this will have lit a fire under them and given them a huge hunger to go out and destroy Texas. The bye week has not only given them extra game-planning time but has also provided Collin Klein with another week off to recover from his concussion problem, which many Wildcat fans believe has been the reason his play hasn’t been up to snuff lately.

Everyone knows what they’re going to get with this team, a tough, physical and well disciplined unit that generates turnovers and puts Klein in a position to make plays when it matters. Some believe that Optimus Klein isn’t out of the Heisman race yet (not me), so we could see a big game from him as the Wildcats really make a statement to the Big 12 by putting the Longhorns to the sword.

Prediction: If Texas play well then it could be closer than many expect, but I feel they won’t perform on the road and the Wildcats will be far too good for them. Kansas State 34 – 18.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 13

1.       San Francisco 49ers 8-2-1 (U1)
The Niners are, for me, playing the best football in the league right now. Whether it’s Kaep slinging it downfield against the Bears or their defense taking it to the house twice against the Saints, there are few teams that can match their level of play. Nobody has been perfect this year, but in my opinion they are the Super Bowl favourites right now. Let’s hope they don’t shoot themselves in the foot by over thinking their QB dilemma. The Niners face off with the Rams next, in what is unlikely to be another draw.

2.       Houston Texans 10-1 (D1)
Tough to drop Houston after winning yet another game, but the manner of their last two victories has raised some questions. No doubt they will be a strong force in the playoffs, but I can’t help feeling their luck will run out at just the wrong time. Of course, these rankings aren’t who I think is most likely to win it all, but who would be most dangerous to play in week 13. Next the Texans travel to music city. 

3.       Denver Broncos 8-3 (U1)
The Broncos keep getting it done, and whilst their schedule has been pretty relaxed of late they have a tougher test next in the visiting Buccs. There is no denying Manning is as good as he ever was, and they will fancy their chances of going all the way this year.

4.       New England Patriots 8-3 (U1)
The Patriots just tore the Jets limb from limb, and overlooking (if possible) the hilarious NY miscues it was another confident performance. The fact NE continue to look strong should surprise nobody, and with a trip to Miami next I don’t see any big cracks appearing.

5.       Atlanta Falcons 10-1 (D2)
The Falcons drop, and perhaps unjustly after another win. Not so long ago I was singing their praises as the best team in the league, but there have been some worrying signs lately. They’ve gone from being the recipient of multiple turnovers to the benefactor of them in recent games, but they still have an extremely talented roster. A tough repeat match-up of their only loss this year looms.

If NFL Running Backs Were Girlfriends

The warm reception to our little QB Girlfriends article got us thinking... 

Arizona – LeRod Stephens-Howling: You’ve cast off a number of options already this year before settling on your latest thing. She’s petite and exciting but your friends are worried she won’t last.

Atlanta – Michael Turner: You used to think she was wife material but things are getting a bit stale lately, plus there’s a new girl catching your eye.

Baltimore – Ray Rice: She’s smoking hot and you’re into her, but she gets really needy when you don’t pay her enough attention.

Buffalo – C.J. Spiller: You’ve been seeing this hot new thing behind your wife’s back for a while now, but you’re finally ready to own up and commit to your affair.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

BAFA Uni Football Week Four Powerless Rankings

Oh boy, this may actually be the easiest Powerless Rankings of all time. That’s not because all of the teams on the list lost at the weekend; in fact, it’s quite the opposite as only four of the six teams on this list played due to the numerous postponements throughout the league, coupled with the fact that a lot of this week’s list seem to have had byes this weekend. Anyway, as per, we begin with the dishonourable mentions list!

BAFA Uni Week Four Power Rankings

The weather may be wreaking havoc across the majority of the UK and postponing a ton of games around the league, but there’s one thing the weather will never postpone, and that’s our Power Rankings!

The MAC and Saltire conferences get our well done cookies for not having a single game postponed the last weekend. 

NFL Predictions: Week 13

A solid week 12 sees my record continue to quietly grow more respectable. We’re nearing the point in the season now where all eyes are firmly fixed on those wildcard spots, and this week’s games could go a long way towards deciding who is destined for a shot at post-season glory and who will fade into mediocrity.

Week 12 = 11-5
Overall = 113-64

Thursday Night:

Saints @ Falcons
Very tasty Thursday night NFC South match-up. The Saints just got beat by the 49ers whereas the Falcons just managed to squeeze past the Buccs by the narrowest of margins. New Orleans have already beaten Atlanta once this season and it genuinely is a must-win for them to keep their playoff dreams alive. They will want it more.

Dbl Coverage Prediction: Saints by 3

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Game Of The Week: BNU vs. Southampton Stags Game Report.

As any avid follower of the TVC knows, this match up last season was an extraordinary encounter. For those unaware, the Stags narrowly beat the Bucs 52-48 with BNU's defence incapable of stopping Southampton's air attack and BNU's double wing offence running riot over the Stags D. Any neutral would again be hoping for a similar result.

BNU received the ball first and it was evident straight away that Southampton feared a defensive display similar to last year, lining up in a completely new front. Six down linemen, and middle linebacker, two outside linebackers and two deep safeties. For all this tactical prudence, it didn't seem to make a difference as on the first play BNU's captain #8 Danny Wallace took the ball thirty yards and into Southampton territory. BNU kept driving, getting into the redzone. BNU went backwards from there before switching to spread and dropping a pass in the endzone. They turned the ball over on downs after a 9 play drive.

As the Stag's offence took the field, it was equally evident BNU feared being passed all over again as they lined up in a deep cover 3, with their corners playing 10-15 yards off their man. It worked on the Southampton's first drive as they went three-and-out.

The first quarter went extremely quick and without event as both sides failed to put any points on the board. BNU had another drive led by full back #21 Martin Friedrichs running but again stalled in Stags territory. The scoring started early in the second quarter, with a drive of solid running from Stag's RB's #24 Henry Schlaefli and #80 Tristan Demuth, before QB Dana Neale found wide out #33 Henry Everett for a 24 yard score on a third and long situation. PAT good.

College Football Week 13 Review

Notre Dame 22 – USC 13

At first glance: ND got themselves to the National Title game by slowly squeezing the air out of USC with a pummelling ground game and solid defense. Once again the game wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win nonetheless and a very important one at that.

Turning point: Lane Kiffin has a lot to answer for, calling a timeout pre-snap to nullify a scoring play for the Trojans (how was he to know they would get in the endzone), but more crucially he turned down a three point opportunity to make it a one score game in favour of going for it on 4th down and had his offence stuffed!

Key Stat: 7.3 – Theo Riddicks average/run, he really tore up the Trojans defence.

Point of Interest: There’s a lot to take away from this game, so here’s a few to think about. This Irish team is the first to get to the title game since 1988, three years before Theo Riddick was born. The Irish were unranked in the AP poll to start the season and finish number 1 after beating the team that was ranked number 1 in the AP poll before the season. And here’s my biggest question, can this team stop whichever SEC giant they meet in the title game?

Player of the Game: No contest, Theo Riddick. Completely dominanted the USC defence in every facet of the game. He made big runs, big catches as well as some key blitz pickups and really lead the Irish offence.

My prediction: Almost got it spot on, ND ran out winners, both teams were just a few points shy of how many I predicted them to score.


Notre Dame
What this win means: National Championship berth and a memorable undefeated regular season.

Up next: Almost definitely the winner of the SEC Championship game, either Georgia or Alabama.

What this loss means: Tough to gauge, they fall to 7-5 in a season in which they started as the number 1 ranked team in the nation. Disappointing to say the least.

Up next: Sorry to say guys, but I don’t know, a very average bowl game that doesn’t befit the Trojans of USC.

Birmingham Lions vs. NTU Renegades Game Report

In the cold windy weather battering the majority of the UK, the NTU Renegades led by Marcus Boswell, Danny Miller and co, headed to the University of Birmingham to take on the Birmingham Lions in a battle between two of the top three teams in the MAC.

Starting at their own 22, the Renegades came out firing as QB Danny Miller found Wide Receiver George Charlesworth for a long gain after a juggling catch. The Renegades drive came to a sudden end when on the third play of the series, a QB-RB exchange between Miller and Glasgow was fumbled. Maxwell Petitjean dived on the fumble to give the ball back to the Lions.

The Lions offence, as per, opened with a mix of powerful running from Dan Conroy and short passes from Tristan Varney. After being forced into a fourth down play, the Lions went for it and were stopped by the Renegades D. However, an offside penalty on the Renegades defence gave the Lions a new set of downs. NTU were forced to regret this penalty as Varney hit Will Hussey on a WR screen and Hussey followed his blockers all the way to the endzone. After a successful PAT, the Lions were up 7-0.

Stirling Clansmen vs. Edinburgh Predators Game Report

Stirling (4-0) overwhelmed Edinburgh (1-3) on Sunday to extend their lead at the top of the Saltire Conference. Stirling made the most of their new campus all-weather facility, as the inclement weather forced for a number of cancelled games throughout the UK but the game was still played in cold and wet wintry conditions.

And while the weather played a part in slowing both teams passing attacks, the Clansmen were still able to effectively run the ball to rack up no less than seven rushing touchdowns. The first of which came on Stirling’s opening drive, when fullback Zake Muluzi broke free behind some excellent blocks from his offensive line to peel off a 71 yard score. Craig Black added the extra point to make the score 7-0.

Stirling’s defence held firm all game and set the tempo by forcing the Edinburgh defence off the field on their first two drive attempts, the latter of which resulted in a 51 yard punt return for a touchdown from Grant Isdale. In cold and wet conditions though, the Clansmen were eventually forced to punt on their next drive but the Stirling defence quickly put that right with defensive tackle Carl Lay recovering a fumble on the very next play. From the resulting drive, Muluzi got on the scoreboard again, with another rushing touchdown straight down the gut of Edinburgh’s defence, who seemed to be unable to cope with the big fullbacks aggressive downhill running style.

Pushed to the Wire

by Chris Stupack

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, Leeds Carnegie faced off at home to the 1-1 Northumbria Mustangs and had the opportunity to go 2-0 and send a message out to the rest of their division.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Tyrants part with Head Coach Hugh English

Manchester Tyrants have announced that they have decided to ‘part ways’ with their Head Coach Hugh English after a year in charge.

The club have now released the following statement:
"Coach English has done a huge amount for the team since it’s inception. After years at the heart of the defence, Coach English stepped in to fill the void in Tyrant coaching. He has played a significant part in the Tyrants evolution since becoming head coach in 2011.

“However, to continue the Tyrant's development, the Committee and Captains feel that the team needs to move in a different direction.

“The team would like to thank Hugh for all that he has done; we wish him the best of luck for the future."

The Tyrants were on a bye week this week, but Dbl Coverage understands the team trained today without Coach English, in preparation for next week’s fixture against Liverpool Fury.

The club are in talks with a few other coaches about joining them, both as Head and positional coaches.
In the meantime, the team will not have an interim head coach, but will be directed by a collective effort of the other coaches, supported by the teams committee and captains.

Dbl Coverage will of course keep you updated on any future developments.

by Peter Spencer

Initial Reactions to Week 13 of College Football

Still number 1

- ND stops all the madness at the number 1 spot and takes care of business against USC to book their spot in Miami.

- If anyone every wonders why their is so much SEC love around the place compared to other conferences just look at some of the rivalry games last night: Florida beat FSU, South Carolina beat Clemson, Vandy beat Wake Forest and Georgia crushed Georgia Tech. Not a good day for the ACC.

- Does anyone else think there's something seriously wrong with a 7-5 Wisconsin team going to the Big 10 Championship game??

- Stanfords win against UCLA sets the two teams up to play again on Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship game, meaning no Oregon, which is the first time in the Chip Kelly era that the Ducks won't be champions.

- Lane Kiffin really had a bad night calling the Notre Dame game, not going for another FG to bring them within a score late and also nullifying a TD with a timeout, not sure if he's cut out for the top spot.

- Who would have thought that after having 5 straight wins to open the season that West Virginia would only become bowl eligible this week against Iowa State?

- Two games that I watched that everyone should go back and see if you didn't: Ohio State v Michigan and Florida State v Florida. Both games were real classics within their rivalries and both had some HUGE hits in them, really good football games.

- Massive congratulations to Montee Ball who set the NCAA TD record with his 79th career score.

- After the Heisman debate this week, the plot gets a little murkier. Manti Te'o has now lead his team to an undefeated season and snagged another big interception on his resume whilst Jonny Football had 5 total TDs and broke the SEC single season yardage record against Mizzou. Tough to call.

- In football related news I asked my girlfriend to pick the winners of some of the games, she went 6-7, basing her picks purely off of names she went for Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Stanford and Notre Dame, with her only blip being Oregon State who she was torn about choosing. Maybe there's something in the names...

Tweet(s) of the Night

Top Plays

Friday, 23 November 2012

Willy Tee's Week Four Predictions

The nights are closing in, and for the editorial elves up at DC towers this means working their way through my weekly multitude of errors, by candlelight. 

Apparently, due to my wafflage being so… well, waffly, this is apparently leading to some of the elder elves going rather blind! 

Only a few weeks prior to their secondment to the north pole? This is obviously rather something of a problem! 

As such, I’ve been asked to keep things short, sharp and to the point this week… let’s see if I can manage it! 

BAFA Uni Football Week Four Predictions

Saltire Conference  

Edinburgh Predators at Stirling Clansmen 
Let’s start with easy one shall we. The Clans impressive march to the Saltire title should continue unabated this weekend with a rematch of BUAFL’s opening fixture. This time on the faster green rug of Gannochy in Stirling, the Preds will be looking to build on last week’s 24-6 win over UWS. Whilst that score line may have got Edinburgh their first win it will be the 68-12 loss in week 1 that is a closer indicator of how this game will go. 

With Stirling coming of a bye-week and signs of Coach Orr rotating and resting his squad this one can only go one way. Renowned for their Jet Sweep offense, the Clan have added an impressive passing game behind QB Dutch Stevenson meaning they will stretch the field both vertically & horizontally. 
Clansmen by 30 (at least)  

GOTW big game preview

Honestly, I know it was only week 1 of 2011/12, but this sounds like this matchup last year could well have been the game of the season! 

Generally when you get a Uni Ball game with 100 points scored It’s ‘cos one of the big guns just lit up a conference whipping boy 100 to zip or similar. So a match up THIS high scoring, and decided on a knife edge? 

That’s some awesome football. 

In some ways, I’m actually a little disappointed that this wasn’t a week one match up again this year, as having seen these two squads perform thus far this season it’s difficult to conscientiously predict this games going to be as nail-bitingly exciting as it was 13 months ago. 

The Stags seem to have finally begun to return to championship contending form. They performed admirably in the postseason last year, pushing the Lions hard in the first half of their match up, and so far this season they’ve racked up impressive numbers on offence, while picking up their first shutout of the season for their defence last week. It took the Stags until week 9 before they were able to get their first shutout last season, so it bodes well for them that their D is beginning to click so soon. 

Game of the Week: Southampton Stags @ BNU Buccaneers

Some that were close but didn’t quite make it...

Luke Plastow’s hat

There’s no doubt that the BNU side-line has been personified by the presence of HC Luke Plastow’s hat. Will it make an appearance this year?

Home field (dis)advantage

BNU have struggled to find a field this year, having to play at an alien venue might play into the hands of the Stags (Ed: Why? Are their starting receivers Mulder and Skully?).

Coaches Interviews

In our build up of our game of the week, we were able to grab a quick interview with both of the Head Coaches from Southampton and BNU. First up is Gareth Thomas, Head Coach of the Southampton Stags.

DC: What can you tell us about your opponent?
GT: “Well, everyone knows that you have to change everything about your defensive philosophy to deal with the double wing. After last year’s extravaganza we've been doing a lot of work to ensure the same doesn't happen. Last year both defenses failed to perform, I imagine that BNU have been working hard to rectify this as well so we shall see on Sunday who's got it right.”

DC: What will be the deciding factor in the game in your opinion?
GT: “As mentioned previously, defense will be the key to this game. We're confident we can score points but you can only do this when your offense is on the field. This means that efficient clock management will be important as well.”

DC: Any players on your team to watch out for? Stats, video?
GT: “The key to our team this year is that we don't focus around any key players. We have good depth in all positions and try to adapt to what works well on the day. Based on the stats so far this season we've had several players over 100 yards on the ground each game. We've also got a core of well coached receivers and a couple of qb's that are capable of getting the ball to them. Defensively we have players that can adapt to multiple positions, each game the tackling is spread out fairly evenly reinforcing our philosophy of 'Team D'.”

DC: Any players on the other team to watch out for?
GT: “When it comes to playing other teams, we tend not to focus on 'key' players. We play against the scheme and have confidence in whoever we come up against that we can deal with them. This might sound big-headed but you have to believe in yourselves and not be afraid of what you're going against. Last year the running backs for BNU were very good, I'm not sure how many of them graduated but any that are left I'm sure we will need to keep an eye on.”

DC: Do you consider this a rivalry game?
GT: “If we considered this a rivalry game then every game we play would also be considered that. Our big games are always going to be the local ones with Solent and Portsmouth. Yes this game has a bit more to it after last year and I'm sure it will be a tough game but as I said before, we take each game as it comes.”

DC: How has the team improved from last year’s game?
GT: “We could make all kinds of excuses relating to last year but when you look back at the history of the Stags in recent years there is always a trend. Every game of the season we get better. Having got a couple of games under our belts this year I think we're in a better position with our rookie players and our returners are starting to find their rhythm. This will also be true for BNU but I know how hard we work our team and how tough the coaches can be on ironing out little mistakes so we shall see how the season progresses”

Coach Plastow's responses

DC: What can you tell us about your opponent?
“We've scouted Southampton as throughly as we can.  We've adapted our 3-5 defence to attempt to shut down some of their main plays and playmakers. Obviously Dana Neale provides a decent threat with his passing attack.  last year we underestimate it and were passed on for 5TDs.  We've worked hard this preseason on the pass defence in preperation for the Stags.  It has gone well with opposition QBs going 7/39 for 77 yards and a single TD. 

DC: What will be the deciding factor in the game in your opinion?
“The pass game for Southampton will obviously be a massive deciding factor along with the Wing.  If we can fix the problems we suffered last week against OBU it could be quite dangerous.  If we suffer the same again it will be a long day at the office.  I don't think its something Southampton can cause, its more mental errors from our guys.  Our rookies are learning quickly.  I doubt anyone would expect us to be 2-1 starting 11 rookies but I put it down to the great positional coaching they are recieveing especially on the defence.  They are improving everytime I see them.
DC: Do you consider this a rivalry game?
“I wouldn't consider this a rivalry game to be honest with you.  Our 2 main rivals are OBU and Reading.  Southampton obviously have Solent and Portsmouth.  I see this more as the top 2 offences in the conference slogging it out.”

Heisman Discussion

With the Heisman trophy winner being decided on December 8th and Collin Klein being all but eliminated last week with the loss against Baylor, the door was left open for a discussion about the credentials of Jonny Manziel and Manti Te’o for the award. The case for Manti Te’o is put forward by Ross Watson, and Thomas Piachaud gives the evidence for Manziel. Please join the discussion by leaving your comments underneath the article.

The Case for Manti Te’o to win the Heisman

First off I’d just like to say that for a defensive player to even be considered to win the Heisman is an achievement in itself, and since the only primarily defensive player to ever win the award is Charles Woodson in 1997, Te’o walking away with the prize in this day and age of college offenses would be massive.

I am not going to compare the stats of both players due to the fact that Woodson was a shutdown corner, as well as operating on both offence and special teams, meaning that his stats are not comparable to that of a middle linebacker. However, what I am going to compare is each players impacts on their respective teams, arguably more important than stats. Michigan’s allowed 9.5 points/game and 222.8 yards/game whilst Te’o’s ND team allows 10.1 points/game and 287.4 yards/game in an age where over - inflated offensive stats is king. Comparable? Woodson led his team to an undefeated season; Te’o has one more to go before the votes go in.

Te’o is the leader of the nations best defence and Woodson was the leader of his and whilst neither Te'o or Woodson were the soul reasons for such feats, they were the ones that led the teams. In fact Te'o is the one responsible for getting the entire defense in position to make their plays, would Notre Dame be undefeated without him?

At this time you may be saying, “The Heisman is for the most OUTSTANDING player, where are his stats??”

At the time of writing (he still has a game to improve upon these stats), he has 98 tackles (49 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 6 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. He may be ranked 46th in the nation for tackles, but bearing in mind that Notre Dame rank 12th in the nation in time of possession, he’s not on the field enough to have more tackles seeing as he’s 42 more tackles ahead of the next man at ND. His 6 interceptions are good enough to be tied 2nd (!!!) in the nation in the INT category among ALL defensive players. His interceptions have also been very timely in game situations; remember the Oklahoma game, the two against Michigan? Te’o has been the guy to step up and make the plays.

Bottom line, he makes outstanding plays at the most important times.

If his Notre Dame team finishes the regular season undefeated, there is no other candidate for the award in my opinion, he is the most outstanding player on the only undefeated team in college football, and no way would they be undefeated without Manti Te’o in the middle.

The Case for Jonny Manziel  to win the Heisman

Being an A&M fan I am obviously biased to who I think should win the Heisman, however I will try to remain as objective as possible. Last year I was lucky enough to see the Aggies live against the Mizzou, a tense game that the Aggies lost in overtime. The general feeling around College Station was excitement about heading into the SEC the following year (merchandise was already rife), with a sprinkling of trepidation about the step up in level. 

Couple this with the graduation of Ryan Tannehill who, while many don’t think he was a first round QB or even NFL ready, still gave A&M options, and Cyrus Gray who when coupled with Christine (yes, a girl’s name) Michael gave the Aggies a great ground game, and the Aggies were looking like having a dismal couple of seasons in the SEC. Not only were these key players gone, but also the Aggies were fed up with Head Coach Mike Sherman, and he was fired.

Fast forward to September 8th 2012, and the world was exposed to Jonny Manziel. First, let’s talk about the case against his Heisman claim. Yes, he’s a redshirted freshman. Yes, he’s ugly as hell. Yes, he had some off-field issues, having a drunken brawl with a 47 year old. However, if we want to look at what the Heisman is supposed to be, an award for 'the most outstanding player in collegiate football’ you can’t doubt what he has done is outstanding.

I saw an interesting graphic this past week before K-State got a hiding from Baylor, comparing Klein with Manziel (it’s incredibly hard to compare positions for other candidates such as Manti Te’o)

There’s no doubting this graphic was made by an A&M fan, as the interception column was left out, before the Baylor game Klein had 3 and Manziel 6.

Manziel's unique ability to seemingly escape a collapsing pocket, roll out, make a pass or a run, or reverse the field and make a pass or run the other way, can be considered perhaps a pro and con. A pro as it has given us some of the best moments in college football this year as can be seen by his YouTube highlights:

A con, in that it doesn’t appeal to a pro system, where he would undoubtedly end up injured (see Michael Vick, Cam Newton for case studies).

‘Jonny Football’ should win the Heisman as he’s helped a team who lost their starting QB, RB, HC and half the staff, a team who put in place a new HC, a whole new system, and moved to a new conference with match ups against some of the biggest teams in the nation. He lost twice, in close games, where the Aggies were leading at some point during the game, and barring some mistakes could have quite comfortably won and been at #1 in the Nation right now.

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