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Right number of preseason games is . . .

Aug 28, 2015 -- 10:31am

Lamm column 8-28-15

Theres no correct answer when it comes to how many preseason games NFL teams should play.It literally comes down to the year and the team as far as how many preseason games teams need. Better, older teams did fewer games than younger, developing teams.

The NFL, of course, cant have teams playing a different number of games. NFL owners have determined four is the right number, probably based more on their wallets than team development.Time is needed in evaluating players, particularly on the back end of the roster, and preseason games are far better for that than practices.

Other kinks that cant be worked out as well in practice are continuity and timing.Then, obviously, theres the injury factor. Less exposure equals fewer injuries.

Old-timers might argue todays players need more of everything because they have far less rigorous training camps and they do but the truth is todays players probably work harder year-round than their predecessors.I think two preseason games is the right number.

The Jaguars, who play their third exhibition tonight by hosting Detroit, are one of those teams that need as much preseason game work as possible. Few teams are younger and even fewer are depending on so many players showing progress.

Coach Gus Bradley likely will play his starters well into the third quarter, which is a common practice for most teams in the third preseason game.

Im all for that, already being on record as saying the Jaguars starters need as many preseason-game snaps as they can get.Quarterback Blake Bortles needs all the work he can get with his young receivers and rookie runner T.J. Yeldon, who is scheduled to see his first action.

The offensive line remains a work in progress. And with at least five newcomers expected to see major roles, so is the defense.For that matter, Bradley needs all of the game-like practice he can get as well.

Sark: Much to do about nothing

Aug 26, 2015 -- 11:46am

Ah, thoughts about the wonderful world of college football:Southern Cal Coach Steve Sarkisian had too much to drink at a party.

He slurred his speech. He tossed out some naughty words. He ripped his teams rivals.Get over it. This entire story has gotten way too much play and analysis.

Sark made a mistake. He apologized. Life goes on.I dont know whether or not if Sark has a problem with alcohol. He says hell look into that. Good for him.

But this one episode doesnt make him a drunk. Keep in mind this happened at a big kickoff party for the Trojans season. The audience was made up of Southern Cal diehards boosters, current and past players and coaches and school officials. It wasnt a Sunday school class or TV show.

Talk of him losing his job over this is ridiculous. The do-gooders who are whining should look in a mirror and see if theyre perfect. They should get a life.

I'm waiting to hear how FSU officials should be ashamed of themselves if Dalvin Cook ever wears a Seminole football uniform again.Cooks indefinite suspension was lifted this week after he was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery of a woman in a court of law.

But absolutely the sophomore runner should be allowed to play based on this incident.Still, there will be cries that Cook isnt the type of young man who should be showcased to represent a major university.

A lot of bad things were revealed about Cooks past during the investigation.I agree with that. He shouldnt have been signed to play college football in the first place.

But remember this before any of you hypocrites throw spears at the Seminoles: Hes at FSU because he said no to recruiters from Florida, Alabama and a ton of other major schools.

Not total Love for Victory

Aug 24, 2015 -- 12:18pm

8-24-15

Davis Love III winning the PGA Tour tournament in Greensboro was a great story. I can’t imagine a true golf fan not thrilled with Love’s performance.

For nearly three decades he’s been one of the Tour’s most popular and successful golfers. The 51-year-old Love is a major champion and a 21-time winner.

His popularity extends to the locker room. He’s the current Ryder Cup captain and he’s been voted to the Tour’s policy board by his peers.

Now he’s the third oldest golfer in Tour history to win a tournament and the oldest in 40 years. But is Love’s victory good for golf as a spectator sport? I say no.

One of the biggest perceptions golfers fight is are they athletes. Many non-golf fans scoff at the notion golfers should be included in the same conversation with athletes who compete in the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc.

So how athletic are golfers if a 51-year-old can win a Tour event, even one with a modest field?

I am a true golf fan and I do think they’re athletes, but I understand the dilemma the sport faces in trying to attract fans who’ve never played the sport. For the record, I was pulling hard for Love – particularly after Tiger Woods imploded with a triple-bogey 7 on the 11th hole.

But I could imagine the rolling eyes of fans who dismiss golf as a leisurely activity as it became more and more likely Love might win.

In their eyes if golfers are athletes Love should be competing on the Champions Tour, whipping other “old geezers” instead of playing against – and winning – a PGA Tour tournament. In my eyes Love accomplished an amazing feat and inspired a lot of baby boomers.

SEC QBs Better than Pundits Think

Aug 21, 2015 -- 9:25am

To hear the pundits tell it, the SEC is suffering from a shortage of quality quarterbacks.

I’m not buying that for a Roll Tide second. My gut, common sense and history tell me quarterback play in the SEC is going to be just fine.

Five schools are touting their QBs in the preseason for all-star honors, the group led by Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, so how bad can they be? Kentucky’s Patrick Towes may be the best NFL QB prospect in the league.

Alabama and Texas A&M have blue-chip recruits poised to take over. Florida and Ole Miss have former blue chip recruits ready to fulfill their potential.

Does Georgia even need a stud QB with all of its running backs?

LSU does have a QB problem, but what’s unusual about that? South Carolina may be lacking at the position but the Gamecocks have the QB Guru in Coach Steve Spurrier. As for Vanderbilt . . . well, it’s Vanderbilt.

Auburn views Jeremy Johnson as a star waiting in the wings. Arkansas appears poised to make a big leap with Brandon Allen, the SEC’s most experienced QB with 25 starts, taking pressure off the Razorbacks’ strong running game.

While Maty Mauk has been up and down, he has led Missouri to back-to-back SEC East titles. Many expect Tennessee to get back to contender status because of how Joshua Dobbs played after taking over at QB at midseason last year.

Coach Nick Saban is whining because Alabama hasn’t found its starting quarterback – or so he says. Is he using the open competition as a way of keeping everyone motivated? Saban’s options range from 5th-year senior Jake Coker to hotshot recruit Blake Barnett.

A&M thinks Kyler Murray can be another Johnny Manziel.

Will Grier now looks strong enough to give Florida a lift. Transfer Chad Kelly, son of NFL Hall of Famer Jim, could solve Ole Miss’ QB problem if he can finally avoid off-the-field problems.

The SEC’s quarterback picture will look a lot different come October than it does now. Count on it.

PGA Tour has Never Been Better

Aug 19, 2015 -- 9:37am

Would you like to follow a sport where you don’t have to check the police report every day?

Would you like to follow a sport where the players don’t beat their chests every time they do anything positive and trash talk nonstop? A fist pump is about as wild as it gets.

Would you like to follow a sport where true sportsmanship still exists?

Would you like to follow a sport where the athletes are good role models?

Try pro golf.

Players on the PGA Tour aren’t perfect. They occasionally scream naughty words and toss clubs. A few players have dealt with drug and alcohol issues.

But compared to other pro sports the golfers are choir boys is spikes (soft spikes, of course).

And there’s never been a better time to become a PGA Tour fan. The top players are young, athletic and incredibly talented and there are lots of them. We don’t know yet if there’s a player who’ll become as dominate as Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods, but we know the Tour is deep, maybe deeper than ever in talent and class.

The top three players in the world: No. 1, Jordan Spieth, 22, of the USA; No. 2 Rory McIlroy, 25, of Northern Ireland; and Jason Day, 27, of Australia. Never have the top three players been so young.

And we shouldn’t overlook Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. They’re all barely in their 30s or younger and they represent countries around the globe.

Indeed, pro golf has never been better.    

Not Hearing Complaints of College Coaches

Aug 17, 2015 -- 1:25pm

Now that preseason football practice is under way on every college campus it’s time for coaches to start dragging out excuses for why this season may not turn out so well.

The No. 1 excuse for as long as I can remember is a lack of depth.

It goes something like this: “We’ve got a chance to be pretty good as long as our No. 1s can play but we’re awfully thin after that,” whines Coach Jock. “We just don’t have the depth to replace our starters.”

In many places that’s true but who’s to blame? Don’t ask me to feel sorry for the coaches.

With 85 scholarships if a team lacks depth it’s because the coach recruited poorly and/or did a lousy job of developing his players.

Think about it: 85 scholarships means being 3-deep at every position and 4-deep at some spots. Discount freshmen, which would be dumb, still leave a lot of available players.

I understand injuries play a major role in football and can reduce depth, but I still contend whining about depth has more to do with coaching and recruiting.

If coaches had fewer players and were more accountable for those they do have they’d have to be more selective in recruiting. For one thing, players who are major academic risks would have to be avoided for the most part.

I’ll defend the coaches on one point: the limited amount of time they have to work with the players. There’s little time allowed during the offseason except for spring practice and in-season they are limited to 20 hours a week. Of course the coaches have only themselves to blame for such restrictions. Before the limits were put in some coaches worked players a ridiculous amount of time. But, if the coaches recruited the right type of player, they should be motivated to improve.

Bottom line is I shed no tears when I hear coaches whine about a lack of depth. 

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