Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Players Voice Their Opinions Following Monday Night's Seattle, Green Bay Controversy

By: Lily Zhao

This story is just too good to ignore. In the few weeks that the replacement referees in the NFL have been at work, stories upon stories have piled up to make a case against replacing these replacement refs with the original ones. I'm sure Roger Goodell's mailbox is filling up with comments from angry NFL fans.

From John Fox and Jack Del Rio getting fined, to Bill Belichick grabbing a referee, what transpired Monday night in the Seattle v. Green Bay game is the epitome of bad play calling, which unfortunately ultimately determined the outcome of the game.

There were certainly some dubious officiating calls, such as a defensive pass interference call against Green Bay's Sam Shields. That would give Seattle another chance to win the game, only down 12-7 at that point.

But of course, the most talked about play is this one:

A controversial call on a Hail Mary pass from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson to receiver Golden Tate. Footage from the video shows M.D. Jennings gaining possession of the pass, which would make it an interception and seal the victory for the Packers. Then how was it ruled a touchdown by Tate then?

This picture is telling:

Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr, Getty Images

Even they can't get it right... one ref signals a touchdown... the other one does not.

Following the loss, Green Bay Packers players hit Twitter to voice their opinions:

What did you think of this call?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Baylor's Ahmad Dixon on the Bear's upcoming season

By: Lily Zhao

Nickelback Ahmad Dixon was a key player on Baylor's team last season with 89 total tackles. Now that Heisman winner Robert Griffin III has left the Bears, how's the team look this season? I spoke with Dixon to find out.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oklahoma State DE Speaks Out About Impending College Football Playoffs

By: Lily Zhao

After last season's BCS Title Game repeat between Alabama and LSU, Oklahoma State was the lone college football team left on the outside looking in. Hear what Oklahoma State's Cooper Bassett says about a potential college football playoff.

New Traditions for the Kansas Jayhawks

By: Lily Zhao

What Notre Dame tradition is new Kansas football coach Charlie Weis bringing over to the Jayhawks? I caught up with the coach at Big 12 Media Day to find out.

After a summer vacation hiatus, Inside the Playbook returns with coverage of this year's Big 12 Media Day... stay tuned!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quick Analysis: Boston Celtics v. Philadelphia 76ers Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 1

By: Lily Zhao

After defeating Chicago 4-2, the Philadelphia 76ers head to Boston to face the Celtics who also took care of business against Atlanta 4-2 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Here are three quick aspects to focus on tonight during game one of the semifinals series between the Celtics and Sixers:

1. The Tempo

As evidenced in its first round match-up between Chicago, Philadelphia sure can run. This team is one of the better teams in the league scoring in transition, and they like to up the tempo of the game. With a speedy point guard like Jrue Holiday and wings like Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, the Sixers are seventh in the league in fast-break points per game. They scored 25 fast-break points in the series-shifting game 2 against Chicago, and then scored another 21 points in the series ending game 6.

Now on the other end of the court, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has emphasized the value of the ball and not turning it over. The Sixers average 17.8 points off turnovers in the playoffs, good enough to be rankd fifth in the league. With that said, the Celtics are more prone to turnovers when they are playing at a very high pace, which gives the Sixers the advantage. The Celtics will look to slow down the Sixers into playing ball in the half court because while the C's are a top two team in the league in seven different defensive categories, transition defense is not one of them.

2. Health

Heading into tonight's game, the Sixers have been relatively healthy. The Celtics on the other hand, have been pretty banged up. Paul Pierce has a sprained MCL in his left knee, while Mickael Pietrus is also nursing an ailing knee. Ray Allen's ankle has regressed since he first returned to the court in game 3 of the first round. Avery Bradley's shoulder pains and Kevin Garnett's nagging hip flexor could all present issues for a Boston offense that has struggled to generate consistent points this season.

Because of the C's ailing state, if the Sixers can put the game on full-throttle, get Iguodala and Holiday out on the break, Philadelphia could put Boston in some compromising positions. For the Celtics, someone on the bench will need to be the player scoring the bulk of the points. However, since the bench is more defensive minded, it might need an offensive spark elsewhere.

3. Defense

Defenses win championships, and that's why both Boston and Philadelphia have shutdown defenses. During the regular season, the two teams ranked second and third respectively in the league in points per game allowed. The Celtics are only allowing a little over 82 points per game, while the Sixers are allowing a little over 84 points per game. Whichever team can find a way to consistently manufacture points will likely advance to the Conference Finals.

Monday, April 30, 2012

AFC East Draft Analysis

By: Lily Zhao

Now that the NFL Draft is over and players are reporting to their respective teams, which AFC East teams did the best job in addressing their needs and came out the winner of the 2012 NFL Draft? Well, the Jets, Bills and Dolphins have been making moves all off-season, especially during the free agency and now the draft to close the gap between themselves and the perennial top-seed, the Patriots.

Here's a look at how each team stands after the draft:


Could the Dolphins have a new Dan Marino in their grasp? They certainly hope so. Former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the first quarterback taken in the first round by Miami since Marino in 1983. With the Dolphins drafting Tannehill at number 8, they must believe he'll be the franchise quarterback they're looking for. Coming into the season, the reality of having the rookie quarterback jump incumbent starter Matt Moore and the free-agent signing of David Garrard is not likely. However, Tannehill has all the skills to be that starter two or three years down the road. He's already somewhat familiar with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who coached him while he was with the Aggies.

But, to make Tannehill that franchise quarterback, he will need the right pieces around him to succeed. With that said, Tannehill will need weapons in the open field to throw to. After trading veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall, it's boggling why the Dolphins signed another receiver, B.J. Cunningham from Michigan State, in the sixth round. Cunningham had a mediocre career with the Spartans and has had some off-the-field issues. Furthermore, head coach Joe Philbin made sure to get Tannehill lots of protection up front, drafting OT Jonathan Martin, who could play alongside Pro Bowler Jake Long.

Grade: C

Media analysts believe the Miami Dolphins fared the best out of all the other AFC East teams following the first round of the NFL Draft, where the Dolphins drafted Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.


GM Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan decided to draft wide receiver Stephen Hill who impressed during the NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.38 seconds. A standout at Georgia Tech, Hill mastered the triple-option, but now has to translate those skills to the Jets offense. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver also adds a big body to the Jets offense. With great hands and speed,  Hill will be among fellow veteran receivers Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller. However, New York failed to address two big weaknesses on its offensive line, left guard and right tackle.

Rex Ryan also decided to take a big gamble drafting North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. Following an average senior season, Coples failed to deliver on his immense potential. However, the team is hoping he can be the big-time pass rusher they need. But, drafting safeties Antonio Allen and Josh Bush helps the Jets bring in some play-making ability to the team's secondary. At South Carolina, Allen played a safety/linebacker hybrid position and is a sure tackler, especially on the line of scrimmage. What he'll need to work on is learning how to read NFL defenses. Bush recorded six interceptions last season with Notre Dame and has the ability to help the Jets with their weakness at corner, due to his ability to cover tight ends and receivers in the slot, especially in open field.

Grade: B-


The Patriots did something no one expected them to do... trade up twice in the first round. Bill Belichick has only done that twice in the past 12 drafts, which should mean he believes Syracuse DE Chandler Jones and Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower will be able to shore up the Patriots defense immediately. Outside of the first round, the Patriots' second-round pick of Illinois defensive back Tavon Wilson was a bit surprising. Wilson recorded 74 tackles and 1 INT last season playing with the Illini.

New England also drafted Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard who slipped all the way to the seventh round due to an April 21 arrest. Dennard, aside from his off-the-field problems, is a physical cornerback who can play strong at the line and plug up holes. He has good closing speed and good instincts, and the talent to compete for a starting position if he cleans up his act. Last season, he recorded 31 tackles.

Belichick did a solid job in restocking his defense with players who fit the team's profile. If the first-rounders can live up their expectations and if Dennard pans out, this will have been a successful draft for the Patriots.

Grade: B-


The Bills could provide the most competition moving forward this season. Although the team didn't make any flashy picks, the Bills did address their immediate concerns in the secondary and on the offensive line. Following a free agency period where the Bills brought in pass rushers Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the team also drafted talented cornerback Stephon Gilmore and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn. Gilmore and Glenn have the play-making ability and potential to both be starters this coming season.

Another need Buffalo addressed was on offense. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will hopefully have a new wide receiver to throw to in order to take the pressure off receiver Steve Johnson, and that player could be receiver T.J. Graham. The 6'0'', 188-pound receiver out of NC State caught 46 passes for 757 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He has the speed to compete in the NFL, and was NC State's top return man as well.

                                                                Grade: B+