The Return of Tsuj’s Ten
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • September 05, 2011 @ 12:59pm
Ah, the gloriously random sports column has returned from its six month hibernation. Why? BECAUSE I NOW HAVE CABLE TV. I’ll chime in on national sports happenings here and there, but for the most part, these points will each have some type of Buffalo connection.
1) UB outperforms expectations: I thought the Bulls would get mowed down by Pitt. In a lot of ways, Jeff Quinn brought his coaching “A” game—take the offensive line shuffling to swing fifth year senior Matt Ostrowski to left tackle instead of true freshman Gabriel Barbe. The makeshift front only allowed two sacks. The game was closer than the score (35-16) indicated, and while Ed Young’s drops have been bemoaned by everyone who follows local college football, it was an admirable team effort.
2) Watching Chazz Anderson play quarterback is soothing. He’s very smooth, never seems rushed and (generally) makes the right decision with the football. Some of those high-arcing screen passes made my stomach lurch, but his consistency has to be refreshing for Alex Neutz and Marcus Rivers. Both Jerry Davis and Alex Zordich were very erratic from play to play, much less series to series, and the fact that the Bulls’ beastly wideouts can expect the ball to arrive where they want it is a boon for the offense. When I see the word “boon,” I think of baboons.
3) One really obnoxious thing about the UB-Pitt game: when Anderson lines up under center in the no huddle offense and looks like he’s about to demand the snap, he’d relax, take a few steps away from Whinery and peer over to the sideline for directions from Quinn. This happened the entire game against Pitt, and I’m sure it’s a great way to keep the opponent off-balance. Still, it drove Ben K. and I batty. Snap the %^&% ball!
4) One praise and one critique of Quinn: He did an excellent job of rotating his players; he substituted liberally on the defensive side of the ball in particular. Kristjan Sokoli, Wyatt Cahill and Colby Way all saw significant snaps spelling starters Gordon DuBois, Richie Smith and Steven Means. The critique? Split some of Branden Oliver’s carries among other deserving backs: James Potts, Jeffvon Gill, Brandon Murie and even camp hero Anthone Taylor. Even though Oliver looked more explosive than he did last year, the stat-line of 35 carries for 114 yards (3.26 yards per carry) wasn’t pretty.
5) Chad Kelly Rundown: As you can see, we’re covering the St. Joe’s Marauders this year. My introduction to Kelly as a player was a little choppy, as Aquinas, the defending Class A state champs, made life miserable for the Clemson-bound QB. During one Joe’s drive in the second quarter, Kelly had his helmet knocked off on three plays, twice on rather vicious late-hits. The Little Irish pass rush was relentless, even though prized defensive tackle Jarron Jones spent most of his time complaining. I wasn’t impressed with the 6’7, 310 pound Fightin’ Irish signing.
6) Kelly continued: I spoke with Kelly immediately post-game to see how he handled resounding defeat. He stared bullets through me, answered my questions tersely and was really aggravated with his team’s effort. He’s competitive, to say the least. The most telling part for me? On their way to the locker room, at least three teammates offered to take Kelly’s rather heavy bag as I interviewed him. He shrugged them all off, unwilling to be treated differently than his teammates because of his national exposure. I applaud him.
7) Are NFL roster spots really that valuable? Apparently they’re valuable enough where Naaman Roosevelt has to be cut after suffering an ankle injury late in camp. Aside from Stevie, the former Bull was Buffalo’s best receiver through camp and the preseason (at least judging from Chris Brown and Buffalo Rumblings’ reports). Apparently six year veteran Ruvell Martin impressed Gailey enough with his versatility to earn a roster spot. Naaman hasn’t found a home 36 hours after cuts, and with relatively bigger names like Donnie Avery, Brandon Tate and Mardy Gilyard on the market, it’s not too surprising.
8) Haley’s dumb: Kansas City’s head coach Todd Haley made some bone-headed personnel decisions that will probably cost his team against Buffalo in Week 1. In the Chiefs’ meaningless fourth preseason game, K.C. lost emerging tight end Tony Moeaki for the season and starting quarterback Matt Cassel for possibly Week 1. Why were Haley’s regulars even on the field? As mediocre as Cassel is, Chan Gailey has to be pumped about game-planning against Tyler Palko, or is it “Calabaloo?” (Edit: Cassel made it through a bit of practice today, so it’s plausible that he’ll be ready for Sunday.)
9) In my lifetime, I’d like to see two things happen: the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl and the United States men’s national soccer team win a World Cup. That’s all! I’m not asking for too much here. At roughly the 1/3rd point of my life, neither looks very likely to happen soon. Watching Jurgen Klinsmann on the sidelines of the U.S.’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, it was evident that he was trying to keep a smile on his face—he emphasized the positives post-game, understanding that his molding of the Yanks is a process. Still, the match was painful to watch.
10) Two areas that deserve Klinsmann’s attention in the coming months: addressing the forwards and the left back position. His “target striker” approach is great for build-up but costly in the final third, particularly when the Americans lack a striker with a nose for goal. The left back spot is a mess, and I think the Edgar Castillo experiment needs to end right now.
Here’s how I would align the Americans in Brazil 2014, at least if the WC started today:
Chandler—— Omar Gonzalez——- Bocanegra/Ream——- Lichaj
I realize there’s no defensive “masher” in the center of the midfield, and I’m really hoping Agudelo separates himself from Altidore in the years ahead.