Tag Archives: football

PSU Blue-White Game: 2010

Today I attended my third consecutive PSU Blue-White spring scrimmage (see entries from 2008 and 2009). This year ESPN2 was here in Happy Valley to broadcast the game. Last year approximately 76,500 people attended the scrimmage on a beautiful spring day. Today the weather was much cooler, with a few raindrops falling, so only 55,000 people were in attendance (based upon the past three years a solid indicator of the attendance is: A =  T * 1000 (where A = attendance and T = temperature in degrees Fahrenheit).

I biked to the Tyson Building at noon. I had to look at some Fraser fir seedlings that had just arrived and make sure they were hydrated and put in the cooler for the weekend. Once my work was done I followed the crowd trekking toward Beaver Stadium. Upon arriving I did some scouting, eventually choosing a seat on the three yard line, one section removed from the field (I envisioned excellent photos of goal line rushing plays).

Before the game the usual on-field autograph session took place.

2010 Blue-White Game pregame panorama.

Before the game I saw Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard walking around on the field talking to people. Numerous ESPN camera men were visible in addition to the PSU camera crew.

An ESPN camera guy.

There were also many Nittany Lion football alumni on the sidelines. One notable player was Jared Odrick, picked in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Jared Odrick (with pink name tag) stands on the sideline.

Jared Odrick (with pink name tag) stands on the sideline.

In this scrimmage there were no kickoffs, so the game began very abruptly. Early on Stephfon Green had a few carries and caught a screen pass. He is so quick in traffic, it is fun to watch him run the ball.

Stephfon Green picks up yardage.

The game was not particularly exciting. There were many dropped passes and missed opportunities.

Curtis Dukes runs the ball.

In the second half the Blue team attempted to convert a fourth and 1. A swing pass was thrown to back Andre Dupree, he happened to be double teamed. The defense was ready.

This is what happens when a swing pass meets a double team.

On a later drive, Kevin Kowalishen executed a perfect stiff arm while turning the corner. The defender was propelled right into the turf.

Kevin Kowalishen prepares to stiff arm a defender.

This game was an opportunity for either of PSU’s two top sophmore quarterback candidates (Kevin Newsome or Matthew McGloin) to emerge as a favorite. Neither of them performed particularly well. Instead it was freshman quarterback Paul Jones that stole the show. He went 5 for 8 with 67 yards and two TDs, the only two touchdowns of the day.

Paul Jones throws his second touchdown pass of the day.

The second one was a sweet precision throw over a defender that dropped in for freshman wide receiver Shawney Kersey (Kersey caught both of Jones’ touchdown throws, each one was 18 yards long). A flag was thrown, and the crowd waited to see if the penalty was on the cornerback or the receiver.

Touchdown!

On ESPN2 Brent Musburger lobbied for Jones as the next PSU starting quarterback. I’m sure many fans will share this opinion. It must be noted that Jones faced second and third string defenders. But I don’t think there is any argument that he is the most talented of the quarterbacks on the roster, he’s just very young (he should still be in high school, he graduated early to join the PSU football team for spring practices). It was fun to see him do so well in his first appearance in Beaver Stadium. May there be many more.

The final score of the scrimmage was Blue 17, White 3. PSU lost many important players this year, so it will be interesting to see how the 2010 season unfolds. I’m not expecting them to contend for the Big Ten title, but who knows, maybe they will be better than I anticipate. I think the showdown with Temple in September should be interesting.

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Autograph Collection: Scripture References

This is part of an ongoing series of posts documenting autographs I have collected over the years. The theme for this post is Scripture references. Without further ado here are six cards from my collection.

Don Slaught – 1993 Score Select

I sent this card to Don and he provided a very nice signature. The dark signature is placed below the chest protector and nicely aligned. I like the aesthetics of this card and signature. Don played in the Majors for sixteen seasons, and was a very productive platoon catcher for the Pirates in the early ’90s where he combined with Mike ‘Spanky’ Lavalliere to give the Pirates the greatest mustachioed catcher platoon in MLB during the 1990s. Don inscribed the reference Romans 5:3-6 under his signature:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:3-6 (NIV)

Greg Gagne – 1994 Donruss

I obtained this signature through the mail during the 1996 season while Greg was wrapping up his career with the Dodgers. That year he posted the highest OBP of his career, maybe he should have signed cards for me more often. I’ll always think of him as a Minnesota Twin. In hindsight I wish I had sent him a card that portrayed him as a Twin. Greg added John 3:16 beside his signature:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

Kevin Seitzer – 1995 Fleer Ultra

I obtained this signature through the mail in 1997 as Kevin played his final season in MLB in Cleveland. After emerging to great fanfare and success in Kansas City in the late ’80s he spent the ’90s in transit, posting respectable but not great career numbers. Kevin added the reference John 3:3 under his signature:

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3 (NIV)

Aeneas Williams – 1991 Pro Set Platinum

I obtained this autograph through the mail. It is one of my favorites from an aesthetic perspective. The small football drawing with the #35 as the laces tops it off. The card is a nice full bleed picture (1991 Pro Set Platinum is a very under-appreciated design, it is very sweet) that is perfect for signing. When the Cardinals were in the NFC East Aeneas used to wreak havoc against the Eagles. Like Darrell Green of the Redskins, he is a defensive back from a rival that I respect even though he caused me anguish as a fan. Aeneas added Romans 10:9 under his name:

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NIV)

Trent Dilfer – 1996 Fleer SykBox Premium

I obtained this signature through the mail while Trent was playing in Tampa Bay, just before he went to Baltimore and won a Super Bowl with the Ravens. The card captures the glory of the orange and white uniforms the Buccaneers wore at that time and is a nice full bleed design. The signature is a bit spotty, though it is not smeared at all, so I think it adds to the character of it. Trent added a reference for Colossians 3:17:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

Guy McIntyre – 1990 Score

I sent this card to Guy in 1996 as he played the final year of his NFL career in Philadelphia. He was a five time Pro Bowler and an excellent guard. In 1988 he caught a 17 yard touchdown pass, which is the stuff offensive linemen dream about. Guy’s signature is very legible. He added the reference I Corinthians 13 above his signature:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13 (NIV)

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Reflecting on the Eagles’ Season

Since the Eagles were eliminated from the play-offs a couple weeks ago I’ve heard strong criticism of the organization from Philly fans and media. A few national media members have joined in too. Most of their comments are aimed at the Eagles being cheap and lacking desire to be the best.

This afternoon I read an article by Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez that was bad enough to legitimately make me angry (Gonzo: Eagles fans can’t kick the habit). Gonzalez compares Eagles fans to drug addicts. He’s advocating a boycott of the team. You see the Eagles are losers and we enable them by buying tickets and merchandise. This is Gonzalez explaining that the fault doesn’t lie solely on the team, but us as fans. “. . . It’s that we’ve become enablers to the very thing that drives us mad – the way the franchise is run and the team’s continued failure to supply a Lombardi Trophy to Philly.”

What?

The Eagles have a 103-56-1 regular season record in the past decade. During that time they won the NFC East 5 times and appeared in the play-offs eight times. They have 10 playoff wins. They appeared in a Super Bowl and in 5 NFC Championship games.

While the management and front office have been under fire, they have kept the team in the upper echelon for the past decade and have not mortgaged the future to do so. Right now the Eagles have numerous young stars and are financially able to sign free agents and renew current players.

A major factor in the sad ending to the 2009 season was the accumulation of injuries. Andy Reid and the Eagles have never used the injuries as an excuse, but their impact on the team cannot be denied. The year got off to a dubious start when Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson passed away shortly before the season began. Early in the year the team lost their starting middle linebacker (Stewart Bradley), who is a major part of the Eagles’ defensive scheme. In mid-season the team lost starting cornerback and kick returner Ellis Hobbs, which caused a chain reaction in the secondary that made the nickel package susceptible. The Eagles also lost linebacker Omar Gaither in the latter part of the season, which was a much bigger loss than most people people realize.

On the other side of the ball the offensive line that the Eagles set up in training camp did not appear together for a single snap during the regular season. During training camp the line was expected to be a major strength. Then Sean Andrews, arguably the best lineman on the team, was lost for the year before the first game of the season. Suddenly the right tackle position had to be filled, which caused shuffling on the line. During the majority of the season the line did an excellent job. Then at the end of the year center Jamaal Jackson was injured. This forced another shuffling of the line, which proved disastrous in two games in Dallas.

And I only mentioned a few injuries, there were many more injuries that occurred during the year (including McNaaab, Curtis, Westbrook, Samuel, Jackson, and others). It was a rough year.

Sure, the end of the season was frustrating. And Andy likes to throw the ball excessively at times. But the management of this team have proven by track record that they are not only competent, they are excellent.

Boycotting the Eagles is asinine.

This was a very entertaining and enjoyable year. The ending was agonizing, but the reasons why it turned out that way do not demand change in management. I’ll take our management over any other in the NFC East and over the vast majority of the teams in the NFL.

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Collecting Autographs: HOFers

Last week I stumbled upon a section of a blog that is dedicated to sports autographs. Seeing the pictures of signed cards and reading descriptions of cards being returned through the mail brought back many memories. You see, I’ve collected quite a few autographs.

My first autographs were obtained in person at Reading Municipal Stadium. I would get programs signed by Reading Phillies players. Eventually I began acquiring signatures at Veterans Stadium too, carrying a binder with carefully selected baseball cards and several sharpies. My autograph hunting led me to send out letters to players containing a baseball card and a self-addressed-stamped-envelope. It was great knowing I could receive cards in the mail on any given day. I would check the mailbox every day for the envelopes with my own handwriting.

I’ve decided to write posts from time to time dedicated to a few of the autographs in my collection. I’ll start with the cards I have signed by current Hall of Famers. While I have many more signed baseball cards than football cards, I happen to have more NFL HOFers.

Paul Molitor 1996 Upper Deck Young at Heart

I sent this card to Molitor during the 1996 season. In my brief letter I mentioned he caused me much pain in 1993 (he was the World Series MVP when the Blue Jays defeated the Phillies). While I like the card, in hindsight I wish I had sent a classic Brewers card. In my teens when I was collecting signatures I had a bias towards shiny new cards.

Tony Gwynn – 1995 Pinnacle Swingmen

I sent this card to Tony as a long shot. As a kid I only saw Tony play when he played against the Phillies or in the All Star Game. I saw Tony play in person once at the Vet, on television a few times, and I heard Harry Kalas call many of his at bats on the radio.

Andre Dawson – 1993 Topps

The newest Hall of Famer signed a card for me through the mail during his tenure with the Marlins. His signature is so bold and dark. As a guitarist I appreciate that he wrote the d in his first name below the rest of the letters, making it a drop d autograph (which I see as a reference to drop d tuning on a guitar, though I doubt that is his intention).

Reggie White – 1990 Topps

The Minister of Defense signed this card in pen with the Scripture reference John 3:3-16 added below his name. The card is a bit beat up and the signature is faded, but I still treasure it. It was my first autograph. My friend Matt got this card signed for me. Reggie was making an appearance at a business establishment in the area and I was planning to go meet him.  For some reason that I now cannot recall I was unable to go at the last minute, so I sent the card with some friends. They told me at the signing someone collapsed while waiting in  line for an autograph and Reggie came over and prayed for him before an ambulance took the person away.

Darrell Green – 1991 Pro Set

Darrell Green played for the rival Washington Redskins, but he was a class act on and off the field so I decided to send him a letter requesting his autograph. The letter G in his last name is pretty cool.

John Elway – 1993 Pinnacle

Elway was very good about responding to signature requests during his playing days. Unfortunately this card was put into the envelope immediately after being signed and part of the signature was stolen by the envelope. I was hoping the card would be signed a bit lower and to the left, but it’s still a nice signature. I like the dark border of the ’93 Pinnacle design, they used it for football and baseball.

Thurman Thomas – 1996 Topps 1000 Yard Club

In the mid-to-late nineties I rooted for the Buffalo Bills in the postseason. I loved their no huddle offense and some of their postseason games were very exciting. I sent this card to Thurman because I thought it would look good signed, I really did not expect to get it back. The S at the end of the signature is huge, with the tail end forming the 3 for the 34. It makes for a pretty amazing signature. I’ve looked at pictures of other autographs from Thurman and I have not seen this variation. I’m confident that it is really his though, because the T in Thurman and the 4 in 34 in this signature is very consistent to those in all the pictures I’ve seen.

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The 2009 EagleBank Bowl

I just watched the Owls lose to the Bruins in the 2009 EagleBank Bowl. It was a tough loss. Temple dominated the first half, and things looked good. Then Bernard Pierce re-injured his bad left shoulder and things took a turn for the worse in the second half. Here are some of my observations from the game:

Temple was not overmatched. Before the game I was curious if the Bruins would dominate the line of scrimmage and be much faster on the corners. When a Pac10 team faces a MAC team questions like this need to be answered. I was happy with the way the Owls competed. They held their own on the line and matched speed with speed. The Owls had the three longest drives of the game, had more time of possession, and more first downs than the Bruins. They also held the lead longer than the Bruins, of course that is little consolation if you don’t hold the lead when the clock reads 00:00.

What made the difference? As I see it, the  costly blows to Temple were the two interceptions thrown by Charlton (one was returned for a TD and the other came in Bruin territory), whatever Jeff Wathne did during the week to get sent home (leaving the Owls without a punter, costing them field position numerous times), and the worst spot I have ever seen on a critical play in the 3rd quarter that cost points (and it was upheld with replay, a true Donaghy moment). Even the announcers marveled at the bad spot for a few minutes. The spot turned an epic 3rd down run by Matt Brown into a near miss (a near miss that was actually not a miss at all, but was declared a miss). I’m more bitter about that spot than any call I have ever witnessed at a sporting event. It was a Joe-Mauer-foul-fair-ball type of call.

Catch the ball! Temple punt returner Delano Green let several catchable punts hit the ground, resulting in substantial loss of yardage. Two of them were almost touched by Temple blockers, which would have been disastrous. Green had a good season returning punts, so I wonder if the wind was a factor in this?

The Bernie & The Bug Show is fun to watch. When Bernard Pierce is healthy the Owl running attack is referred to as the Bernie & The Bug Show. Sadly Bernie got hurt. The show must go on. Matt ‘The Bug’ Brown carried the entire load. The Bug looks tiny on the field. He is lightning fast and elusive. He is not a power back like Pierce. Pierce is the fastball and The Bug is a curve. Defenses look silly trying to tackle him. When every pitch is a curve it isn’t long until fans in the outfield bleachers start getting souvenirs. Bernie and The Bug make each other better. Next year should be fun.

Temple tuff. At the half Coach Golden was briefly interviewed as he walked off the field. He did not wear a coat during the game, and Rob Stone asked about it. Coach Golden smiled and said he was Temple Tuff. I’m not sure what that means but I did find it remarkable that Coach Golden did not look cold during the game. Sometimes coaches wear no jacket or a light jacket and look cold, he looked like it was a late summer scrimmage.

Conclusion. I’m happy the Owls went to a bowl game. I’m happy they held their own. Hopefully it is a step forward to bigger and better things next year.

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