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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

September 6, 2011
Lou Pickney,

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The first week of college football is in the books, and there is a chance today for football fans to catch their breath, relax for a moment, and then look forward to the opening weekend of NFL football and the second weekend of NCAA action. Some thoughts:

-I've been confident up until now that Peyton Manning would find a way to play on Sunday against Houston. But Manning is doubtful with his neck injury and, more importantly, he hasn't been able to practice with his team. The urgency of the situation showed when the Colts pried Kerry Collins out of retirement with what is a $4,000,000 one-year deal dressed up as a two-year contract for the purpose of spreading his signing bonus hit over two years. What finally sold me that Manning really might miss the opening was seeing sports books move the line from pick 'em to Texans -9 for this Sunday's game.

-Maryland's win over Miami had to sting for Hurricanes fans who might wonder what would have happened had they not missed some key players on defense like DT Marcus Forston and SS Ray-Ray Armstrong. Playing a conference game or a major conference powerhouse in week one is a dangerous thing, as players have from the end of the previous season up until gametime for the first game to potentially receive a one-game suspension.

In Miami's case, Armstrong (and others) face multiple game suspensions, but if Miami had played Bethune-Cookman in week one and then faced Maryland later in the season, perhaps the outcome would have been different. We'll never know for sure if Miami would have won if they had been able to use their suspended players, but as a general rule college teams that book big games in week one are taking a major risk. Both LSU and Oregon had key players suspended from their Saturday night showdown in Dallas, and in particular the absence of Cliff Harris on Oregon's punt return team was quite telling.

-My Twitter feed went crazy around 7 p.m. CDT last night, with people speaking out in disgust about the horrible-looking uniforms that Maryland wore. It's as if Under Armour wanted to show the world that they could create an uglier uniform than Nike. My girlfriend compared their helmets to Two Face from the Batman series, and not in a complimentary way. The glittery shoes the players were forced to wear didn't help things any.

Robert Griffin, III
Danny O'Brien threw for 348 yards against Miami. (Icon SMI)
What annoyed me even more was that the jerseys lacked names, with the ridiculous reasoning that not having player names on the back of their jerseys emphasizes the team over individuals. In reality it just diminishes the ability of a player to be properly identified, and I suspect that no one would accuse any of the guys wearing that ridiculous get-up last night of not being a team player in those horrid outfits.

The sad thing is that I thought I had seen the low point for team uniforms on Saturday night when Georgia took to the field with uniforms that parted from the rich tradition of the school's football program with a mish-mash of red and silver that proved more distracting than inspiring. What's worse, on the nameplates it said GEORGIA instead of the player's name.

I realize that I'm a uniform snob and that some of my complaining would be better served on a site like the great, but I can't help it. It makes me respect schools that refuse to bow to pressure from uniform makers to wear ridiculous-looking outfits. Look professional, play professional... though maybe "professional" isn't the best word to use in this case, if you know what I mean.

-Many people missed it because the game happened late and was a regional broadcast and buried in the bowels of the 600 sports channel section on DirecTV, but Arizona WR Juron Criner had an outstanding game on Saturday night against Northern Arizona. I realize that NAU isn't the stiffest competition that Criner will face, not in the deceptively strong Pac-12 South division, but considering that there were cryptic rumors surrounding Criner questioning if he would even play this year, the fact that he had a good game has to be reassuring for Wildcat fans.

Criner made six catches for 151 yards and a touchdown, and perhaps just as importantly, the 6'4" Criner showed that he's ready to build on his strong 2010 junior season where he had 1,233 yards of receiving for 11 TDs.

If Criner keeps it up, he has every opportunity to elevate himself into the top of the second tier of wide receivers below South Carolina junior Alshon Jeffery and Oklahoma State redshirt junior Justin Blackmon. It's also possible that Criner could elevate his game to be in the running with those two to be one of the top wide receivers selected in the 2012 NFL Draft in April.

-On the flip side, Georgia looked to redshirt junior Tavarres King to fill the wide receiving hole created when A.J. Green left for the NFL after last season. Unfortunately for both Georgia and King, the Boise State Broncos held King to just one reception for three yards. The 6'1" 195 pound King will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself later this season, but particularly for a Georgia Bulldogs team that is very thin at running back, they will need King to be a playmaker for them this fall.


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