Monday, 7 January 2013

IFAF World Team: Coaches Diary

It may have flown under the radar a little, but a couple of weeks ago it was announced that Ryan Baker and Tony Athersmith were following in the footsteps of fellow Birmingham Lion and GB Uni Coach Wayne Hill and joining the IFAF World team coaching staff. 

Coach Baker agreed to write a short diary and take some pictures to share the experience and this is his first entry!


I just wanted to ramble about some of the experiences so far from my trip to coach the World Development Team. But first I'd like to thank IFAF and BAFA for my selection. I was extremely excited and proud to represent British football.

Coach Baker (left) with fellow IFAF World Coach Tony Athersmith
Not really much to report for day one, pretty much straight to bed ready for day 2 after a 10 hour flight and nearly 45 minute road connection to the villa complex the team is staying at. Although a limo from the airport was pretty cool. Starting to think this could be a good trip! lol

BUAFL Big Board Rankings Part Three

Part three of our big board takes a look at the teams ranked 41-50.

If this were a person’s age, they’d be called ‘the golden forties’ (don’t understand why, no one actually gives you any gold), but in football terms, it know as the period when a team is in limbo and settled with being a completely average team.

Enjoy the list!

41. Staffordshire Stallions (1-2)
It’s been an up and down season for the Stallions in their new conference. Looking at their recent history, the Stallions will most likely be happy with the fact they’re 1-2 at the Winter break. What the team should be worried about is their combined total for their two losses. 12 points scored to 62 conceded isn’t going to convince anyone that the Stallions will be improving any time soon.

Mid-season grade – D – New conference, same results. If their D can shore up in 2013, the Stallions could end up playing the spoiler role in many teams play-off hopes. If their D can’t shore up, it will be off to the ‘powerless rankings’ for the Stallions!

BUAFL Academic Rankings

Below the two rankings side by side can be seen. The top 25 football rankings as decided by a panel of 12 coaches, players and journalists on the left and the top 25 if we ranked by academic prowess (stats from the complete university guide)

1.       Birmingham Lions (5-0)
2.       Hertfordshire Hurricanes (5-0)
3.       Loughborough (4-0)
4.       Southampton Stags (5-0)
5.       Stirling Clansmen (4-0)
6.       Derby Braves (5-0)
7.       Hull Sharks (4-0)
8.       Sheffield Sabres (4-0)
9.       Bath Killer Bees (4-0)
10.   UWE Bullets (4-1)
11.   UEA Pirates (4-0)
12.   Portsmouth Destroyers (3-0)
13.   Kent Falcons (4-0)
14.   Plymouth Blitz (3-1)
15.   Kingston Cougars (4-1)
16.   NTU Renegades (3-1)
17.   Leeds Carnegie (3-1)
18.   Solent Redhawks (3-2)
19.   Brighton Tsunami (3-0)
20.   Glasgow Tigers (3-1)
21.   UCLan Rams  (2-0)
22.   Warwick Wolves (2-1)
23.   Bradford Bears (3-2)
24.   Hallam Warriors (1-1)
25.   Northampton Nemesis (2-2)

87 - 14
1.       Cambridge (2-1)
2.       Oxford (0-3)
3.       Imperial College London (2-2)
4.       Durham (1-1)
5.       St. Andrews (N/A)
6.       #22 - Warwick (2-1)
7.       Lancaster (0-4)
8.       #9 - Bath (4-0)
9.       Bristol (2-1)
10.   York (1-2)
11.   Exeter (1-2)
12.   #3 - Loughborough (4-0)
13.   #4 – Southampton (5-0)
14.   Edinburgh (1-3)
15.   #20 - Glasgow (3-1)
16.   King's College London (1-3)
17.   Nottingham (1-3)
18.   Leicester (1-4)
19.   Surrey (0-4)
20.   #1 - Birmingham (5-0)
21.   Newcastle (1-3)
22.   Royal Holloway (0-4)
23.   #11 - UEA (4-0)
24.   #8 - Sheffield (4-0)
25.   Manchester (3-2)

48 – 44

NFL End of Season Grades: NFC

Following on from my AFC gradings, let's take a look at how the NFC fared during a tumultuous 2012 campaign...

National Championship Game Preview

National Championship Preview
#1 Notre Dame vs #2 Alabama – 7th January, 01:00 on ESPN

After weeks of talk and preparation it’s come down to this, the Crimson Tide of Alabama take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Miami for the Coach’s Trophy. Here’s my favourite, and last preview of the season, enjoy!

Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 12-0

Key Facts
  1.       Have claimed the National Championship 13 times. 
  2.       Last won the title in 1988.                               
  3.       Has a 4-0-1 record when ranked as #1 and is facing #2.

Best Player
Manti Te’o, LB #5. The undoubted leader of his team and this year’s Heisman runner up, he is a tackling machine in the middle and will be the one entrusted with making those critical on field adjustments.

A site that's imposing for any college QB
Best Team Performance
27th October @ #8 Oklahoma – won 30-13
Easily the most complete that the Irish looked all season, both running backs had 74 yards and a touchdown whilst the defence held the nations 9th ranked scoring offence to just 13 points.

Worst Team Performance
3rd November vs Pittsburgh – won 29-26 (3OT)
Despite securing the win, they were pushed all the way by a Pitt team that finished the regular season at 6-6 and were trailing 20-6 in the fourth quarter. Now the sign of a championship calibre team is that they win these games, but which #1 gets themselves in a 20-6 hole to a .500 team?

Reason to Root for the Irish
Two reasons, tradition and to break the dominance that the SEC has had on the National crown. Not only are the Irish the best representation of the pageantry and tradition of college football to most, but their players are the true embodiment of the student-athlete in the high academics that they ask their players to achieve as well as the high standards on the field.
Do we really want to see an SEC team pick up the 7th title in a row? Granted, they have the best teams, athletes, facilities and some of the better traditions, but for parities sake it would be refreshing to see a team end this dominant streak.

Why I would like them to win
For me, I saw the Irish open the season in Dublin by putting 50 on Navy, if they managed to pull off the upset it would be extremely gratifying for to have seen a team that went undefeated.

Alabama Crimson Tide, 12-1

Key Facts
  1.           14 time National Champions.
  2.       A win would make them champions in 3 of the past 4 years.  
  3.       Current squad has 5 first team All-Americans.

Best Player
Chance Warmack, OL #65. He’s going to be a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft and if there’s ever a time for him to prove it, it’s against the Irish’s D-line where he’ll have to go up against Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III. If there’s going to be any running game, Warmack will need to be at his best to shift those two.

Pretty sure they don't make them this size in BUAFL

Best Team Performance
1st December vs. #3 Georgia – won 32-28.
Tough to pick one game out, and despite giving up 28 points, when I weigh up everything I think it’s fair to say that Alabama put together a very complete performance. Here’s how I see it, McCarron played a solid game, both Lacy and Yeldon had over 150+ yards and the defence played just well enough to stifle a very good Georgia offence. Alabama had wins where they blew teams out, but a win against Georgia in the conference championship game goes down as their best.

Worst Team Performance
10th November vs. #15 Texas A&M – lost 29-24.
In comparison this one was a no-brainer, the teams only loss on the year so far came at home where they were ambushed early on and then never recovered. McCarron threw 2 picks and their RBs didn’t break 100 yards whilst the defence was almost at a loss as to how to handle Manziel, but lets be fair, no ones quite figured that out yet, right Oklahoma?

Reason to Root for the Crimson Tide
To see that third championship in four years and complete that mythical journey to become know as a modern day dynasty. You also have to respect the way the Saban gets the job done, time after time bringing in less heralded players and turning them into stars each year so that his teams can achieve consistency, if you don’t like that, you don’t like football.

Why I would like them to win
Since watching college football, Alabama have always held a certain kind of intrigue for me, whether it was the fanaticism of southern football fans or the fact that they play old school football behind a running game and defense, I just love to watch the Crimson Tide play – and win.

Key Matchups
A.J McCarron vs. Manti Te’o – The junior McCarron now has a lot of trust from his coaching staff and conducts a fair old amount of on field adjustment and he’ll be in a direct chess match with an inside linebacker that will diagnose a lot of what he’s seeing from the offence and adjust. This may not be a Peyton Manning vs. Ray Lewis calibre of matchup but it will certaintly be one of the most important aspects of the game.

Notre Dame’s Run Game vs. Alabama’s Front 7 – Alabama have the number one ranked rushing defence in the country and only allow 79 yards/game on the ground and whilst Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick are very good backs, they lack the size to really push the pile up front. Notre Dame have a varied run game with some fly sweeps and reverses in there to keep defences honest, but you don’t want to be going east and west against the Crimson Tide and the ability for ND’s two backs to get those tough inside yards could decide how the Irish perform on offence.

The 'Bama defenders won't be this soft!

Saban vs. Kelly – What I am most intrigued about here is whether Kelly has the ability to call his best game when it really matters. There’s no doubt that he’s good, but will he make the right decisions under the scrutiny of the Championship game? Saban has been here before and called games against the best through honing his skills in the SEC pressure cooker and has earned the right not to be second guessed, so is Kelly up to the task?

Safe Bet: This is rather bold of me to be even making a call and labelling it a safe bet, but I think that there will be at least one defensive score between these two teams.

Long Shot: Slightly easier to be bold on this one but I think that Tyler Eifert will end up with 2 touchdown grabs tonight against the Alabama secondary.

Irish fans will be hoping to see a lot of this tonight.

Key Stat: At the end of the night I think the telling factor will be how each team has performed in the run game. All stats are relative to how the game is played, but if you see either team crack the 175 yard and over mark then I think you could be looking at the winner.

Pick: Alabama - it's one of those situations where my head says Alabama but my heart says Notre Dame, if I get this pick correct then I win the Pick'em league so I'm backing the favourites!

Confidence: 14.

Mid-Season Review: TVC

Southampton Stags
The perfect 5-0 start shows that Southampton are heading for a 2nd straight conference title.  They have 2 tough games left in the form of their main rivals Portsmouth and Solent and an unknown factor in the 3-0 Brighton but we cannot help but think Brighton may be the worst 3-0 team in the league. We spoke to Souhampton QB Dana Neale and he had this to say:

"'I'm happy with how we've performed in our games before Christmas. Our defense have performed to a very high level so far this season. I've been extremely impressed with them.We know our next three games will define our season and if we keep up our commitment to winning, I'm sure we can go 8-0.'

OBU Panthers
Worries that  OBU's 7-1 season was a flash in the pan have been realised.  They are not a bad team, far from it however they have come off the loser in 2 very tight games against BNU and Portsmouth. Their #1 defence from last year has only leaked more than once this year against the conference powerhouse Southampton. With a softer 2nd half of the year we expect OBU to bounce back to 4-4 and a respectable record in a very tough conference.

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