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Craig Penrose Jersey Retro

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the aftermath of Drew Lock’s first career start, his phone buzzed with a text from Archie Manning.

The father of former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning offered his congratulations to the rookie quarterback, who won his debut against the Chargers.

“’You can’t win them all if you don’t win your first,’” Lock remembered the text saying. “That gave me a good giggle and a good laugh. He’s so right.”

Lock, who became close with the family at the Manning Passing Academy in 2018 ahead of his senior season, also received a text from Peyton.

“Being able to hear from those guys meant a lot,” Lock said.

Since joining the Broncos, the relationship has only grown between Lock and the Manning family.

On Sunday against the Texans, Lock could earn another congratulatory text — and a place in Broncos history.

Lock became just the sixth Broncos quarterback to win his starting debut as a rookie with a win over Los Angeles, and he could join a more-exclusive club this weekend.

John Elway, Craig Penrose and Marlin Briscoe are the only Broncos quarterbacks to win their first two starts as rookies. The streak ends there, though. Elway lost his third game, and Penrose didn’t start another game until 1978. Briscoe’s starts, meanwhile, were not in consecutive weeks.

As he aims to tie Elway and Penrose, Lock will face a Texans defense that ranks 28th in passing defense and interceptions, 26th in sacks, 31st in red-zone percentage and 32nd in third-down percentage.

Those rankings suggest Lock could improve upon his debut in which he finished 18-of-28 for 134 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Head Coach Vic Fangio agreed.

“Just some better throws in some situations, a little bit more accuracy,” said Fangio of areas in which he wants to see Lock make progress. “Just general improvement all the way across the board. Obviously, the one thing that everybody noticed is the throws. I thought he missed a couple the other day, but that’s to be expected. Hopefully he misses less this game.”

Lock has already learned a lesson that could help him Sunday in his first road game.

“Going back to the pick, just learning not to force anything,” Lock said. “In college, I might have been able to get away with a couple decisions like that, but these guys are quicker, these guys are faster and these guys are smarter. I’m not going to be able to get away with things as much as I did in college. Where being able to take the things that they give me 24/7, that’ll just help us move down the field better. [It's a] you-can’t-go-broke-if-you’re-taking-a-profit-type deal, so take what they give you. Being able to realize the little decisions throughout the game can really affect the big picture of the game, that was one of the big takeaways.”

Lock noted the game slowed down for him even between his first and second drive. On that first drive, he missed a deep throw to Courtland Sutton and completed a pass short of the first-down marker as the team went three-and-out.

“People were buzzing around my head, I was pretty antsy and excited to go,” Lock said. “The heartbeat was pounding for sure, but once I went out there for my second drive, it was way more relaxed and I felt super confident about it.”

Lock responded on his second and third drives by twice finding Courtland Sutton in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

Neither Lock nor Fangio said the playbook was simplified for the rookie in his first start. Instead, the team aimed to put Lock in a position to succeed by choosing what to implement.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say last week was simple, but we definitely tried to keep a clear head for me — make some of our plays and what we’re checking to, this and that, a little easier,” Lock said. “I might get a little bit more this week, but regardless of what their plan is, I’m super excited. I looked over the plan last night and went over it this morning. I think it’s an awesome plan that we have going into this game.”

Fangio said any changes to the plays the Broncos run against the Texans will have more to do with the Broncos’ game plan rather than Lock.

Lock, though, said he feels more comfortable talking to the offensive coaching staff about the plays he likes and what he thinks he can execute.

“I feel like I can definitely talk a little bit more, but as far as what we talked about yesterday, it was, ‘Let’s prep the exact same way that we did last week,’” Lock said. “You put in just enough time, let’s maybe put in even a little bit more this week. Not change your schedule, not change when you go to bed, not change when you eat, just keep it the same and we’ll try to ride this thing out. I think as the weeks go on, I could probably put more input in, but as Week 2 as a starter, I’ll still probably defer to them.”
Craig Penrose Jersey Retro

If Lock can replicate the result, he’ll join Elway and Penrose in an exclusive club.

And as Archie Manning may say, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win your first two.”

Correction: Marlin Briscoe also won his first two starts as a rookie. Briscoe, however, appeared in five games between his two starts. The Broncos lost the next game in which Briscoe appeared.

Monty Montgomery Jersey Retro

Louisville football is looking to solidify what has been an extremely productive period of recruitment for its first class under Scott Satterfield. Here are the three biggest fish for the Cardinals with a week remaining.
National Signing Day early signing period is on December 18th, and Louisville football is rounding out a class that should consist of some marquee instant-impact type of players.

Still, Louisville has quite a few positions of need and they are looking to add 3-4 more players before things are said and done.

Though the “regular period” begins on February 5th, Louisville, like most other power five schools, is going to look to get the bulk of its class to sign early in order to begin planning out the season to come.

Let’s take a look at three players Louisville fans should want to land most.

Marcus Dumervil – OT
6’6,” 305 | St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, FL

We start with the biggest long shot for the Cards in stud offensive tackle Marcus Dumervil.

In college football, if you want to keep up with the Joneses you have to start by building up your play in the trenches. That’s seriously the only way to keep up.

Look at Louisville’s losses this year: Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Kentucky. Those are the five teams that the Cards faced with the most talent on the offensive and defensive line. And in each of those games, Louisville was exposed on both sides of the football.

You can coach technique, discipline, etc., but you can’t teach big, strong, and fast. When Louisville could hold its own upfront, they blew the doors off of some teams this year, but when they faced the big-name squads, things got ugly fast.

The Cards need a few big-time linemen and they would land perhaps their best player ever in the legacy recruit Dumervil.

His uncle, Elvis, was an absolute terror in the early 2000s at Louisville and ranks No. 2 among our All-time Louisville football player rankings. His older brother, Dejmi Dumervil-Jean redshirted this year in an effort to get into better playing shape for the 2020 season.

Dumervil would be a massive get, but the Cards have stiff competition for his services. Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Auburn are among the 60 + schools to offer him, and according to 247Sports experts, he is a lean towards LSU.

Still, you know offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford and recruiting mastermind Cort Dennison are going to be in on him until the end.

The opportunity to play with his brother and get immediate playing time are likely to be enticing.

Greedy Vance- CB
5′ 10,” 160 | Edna Karr, New Orleans, LA

While Dumervil feels like a longshot for the Cards, they are certainly the favorites to land the services of talented New Orleans cornerback Jamie Greedy Vance.

Vance has offers from the likes of Auburn, Arizona State, and Houston, but he has been trending towards the Cards for a while.

Here’s what 247Sports recruiting analyst Gabe Brooks had to say about Vance, who he projects as a soon-to-be power five starter with a high upside:

Athletic cover corner who compensates for lack of size with impressive on-field athleticism. Owns adequate height, but has a lean, thin frame and must add some bulk in college. Plays with awareness. Has played plenty of snaps in press coverage, off-man coverage, and zone. Looks most natural lining up on top of the receiver at the LOS. Shows a smooth, upright effortlessness about his gait. Willing to hand fight with receivers and mixes it up pretty well relative to size. Willingness to defend the run and screen game are encouraging, particularly relative to size. Competitive, fiery player. Plays for consistently talent-laden program and faces strong competition in practices and games. Play speed is good, but 40 time has not been verified in a combine testing environment. Could be targeted in the red zone against taller, go-get-it wideouts. Flashes some surprising pop behind his pads, but needs to clean up occasional glancing blows. Size concerns are there, but instincts, on-field athleticism, and motor suggest a quality Power Five starter at the next level.
Monty Montgomery Jersey Retro

A 5’10” corner with a slender frame, excellent instincts, and great motor? Sounds like another corner that panned out just fine at Louisville in second-year Packer Jaire Alexander.

Not that Vance would become a first-round pick by any means, but he is the kind of talent that could wind up having an extremely successful career as a Cardinal. His size and speed fit perfectly with what Louisville is trying to do on defense.

Mario Edwards Jersey Retro

Earlier this week Sheldon Rankins said he had the best sack celebration of any Saints player. But when Mario Edwards finally unleashed his, it would be “pure comedy.”

Edwards sacked 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo late in the third quarter and showed off the move Rankins was talking about. After wrapping up Garoppolo, Edwards made a dipping motion, before consuming an imaginary item. That item was supposed to be a chicken strip from Cane’s, Rankins said earlier this week.

The celebration came from training camp where Edwards developed a reputation for his affinity for the chicken strips.

“We used to call him Caniac,” Rankins said with a laugh. “He used to go to Cane’s and (got to town),”
Mario Edwards Jersey Retro

Edwards said earlier this week he intended to do the celebration when he got his first sack but didn’t.

“The first one didn’t go that way, so when I get the second one, I got one in store for ‘em,” He said.

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Ray Farmer Jersey Retro

South Carolina Department of Insurance Director Ray Farmer and Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier have been elected to the positions of president and president-elect, respectively, of the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners).

The two were voted in at the NAIC’s fall meeting this week in Austin, Texas. They will assume the roles Jan. 1, 2020.

Previously, Farmer served as president-elect at the NAIC while Altmaier served as vice president.

As part of the state-based system of insurance regulation in the United States, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides expertise, data, and analysis for insurance commissioners to effectively regulate the industry and protect consumers. The U.S. standard-setting organization is governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

South Carolina Director of Insurance Ray Farmer
Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer reviews, and coordinate regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally

Farmer was first appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as director for the South Carolina Department of Insurance in 2012. He has more than 40 years’ experience, having served as a deputy insurance commissioner for the Georgia Department of Insurance and as vice president for the American Insurance Association.

In 2018, Farmer oversaw the passing of the Insurance Data Security Act – a law that is the first in the nation to require insurance companies to have a comprehensive and secure plan to protect consumer data. In 2019, Farmer was asked to serve on Governor Henry McMaster’s Floodwater Commission, working to increase resiliency among South Carolina’s most at-risk citizens who face yearly challenges with hurricanes and floodwaters.

According to SCDOI, Farmer will tackle issues such as climate risk & resilience, long-term care & cybersecurity for NAIC. He has served as chair of the organization’s Cybersecurity Task Force.

“It is an honor to serve as president of the NAIC and I look forward to leading insurance regulators from around the country and continuing to ensure the South Carolina industry is well regulated and our consumers are well protected,” said Director Farmer.

Altmaier has served as Florida’s insurance commissioner since 2016. He was chosen by the Florida Cabinet, which consists of the state’s governor, chief financial officer, attorney general and agriculture commissioner. He previously served as OIR deputy commissioner and has worked for OIR since 2008.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier
He has served on various committees of the NAIC, including chairing the P/C Risk-Capital Working Group and the Capital Adequacy Task Force.

“As one of the largest, most complex insurance markets in the world, it is critical for Florida to have a seat at the table for state, national, and global regulatory discussions. I am glad that Commissioner Altmaier will play a leading role in these critical areas,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Ray Farmer Jersey Retro

“I am honored to have been chosen as President-Elect of the NAIC,” Altmaier said. “This year, we have made significant progress on many key issues. As president-elect, I will continue the open dialogue to strengthen the consumer-focused framework that guides our mission as state insurance regulators.”

Francis Peay Jersey Retro

When the Illinois Fighting Illini football and the Northwestern Wildcats get together, typically the better team wins. We really haven’t seen many upsets in this series lately, as the LOL HAT (Land of Lincoln Hat Trophy) rivalry often goes chalk. Illinois is seeking their first win in this series since 2014, the famous match-up of 5-6 teams that would see one team go on to the post-season, the other home for the holidays.

As it’s Thanksgiving and LOL HAT week, let’s break it all down.

Saturday, Nov. 30

Illinois vs. Northwestern (11 am CT//Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois//FS1, FS1 App)

illini football nate hobbs

The Illini are favored in this game for the first time in a long while, and it’s actually a double digit spread. If you’re making free expert college football picks, you can find the Illini priced most typically at -10 1/2 points. If you want tickets to this game, they are readily available through the box office for as low as $20. In the secondary market, they are dirt cheap. Regardless of the teams’ records, or venue, this game is always poorly attended. As it’s always held on Thanksgiving weekend, people typically have better things to do

TV Segment Preview, yours truly with Jarret Payton on CLTV Sports Feed:

Thanks @PaulMBanks for talking college football and Chicago Fire FC soccer with @paytonsun on Tuesday’s @CLTVSportsFeed: https://t.co/bezkBquMpe

— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) November 27, 2019

Illini Football Preview

Illinois is playing for their first winning conference season since 2007, and a chance to bring the four game slide against Northwestern to an end. They took a very unorthodox and circuitous route to six wins/bowl eligibility, with a chance at a seventh right there for the taking.

Losing to Eastern Michigan, beating Wisconsin, winning at Michigan State- who saw that as the path to six? Illini football coach Lovie Smith could be sweating on the fitness of cornerback Tony Adams and starting quarterback Brandon Peters. The latter has been as key as anybody to this season’s massive turnaround.

illini lovie smith podcast illini

Peters can be maddening sometimes with all the turnovers he tosses sometimes, but his gunslinger mentality is huge. Like any good outside shooter in basketball, he has a short memory on his mistakes and he just keeps making plays. Peters, plus the new added depth at the skill positions this season has gotten the offense to finally click in both facets.

What makes Illini football what it is in 2019 though is the turnover margin. No other defense in the nation can consistently get the ball back like this Illini football team can. It’s why Illinois revenue sports can finally have nice things again, with a bid to the Red Box or Pinstripe Bowl upcoming.

For the Illini football bowl summary and history, go to this link.

Northwestern Wildcats Preview

As the Illini are rising, NU is falling. The Wildcats are already set for their worst season since 2002, and a loss here gives them a bottom that you would have to go all the way back to the Francis Peay era, 1989, in order to be matched.

Northwestern has by some measures the worst offense in the nation, or at least among the worst. In the passing game, they are absolute bottom, and stuck in the basement by a very significant margin. It’s fair to say that this might be the final game for Quarterbacks Coach and Offensive Coordinator Mick McCall.

What a terrible message it would send to kids, if he stays: “you can be the worst in the entire nation, at what you are highly paid to,” and still keep your job. At this points it’s about principles and ideals https://t.co/T1jxmCL5sJ

— Paul M. Banks??? (@PaulMBanks) November 24, 2019

Or at least it should be. If McCall survives this season, then you can best be sure his job could survive a nuclear winter. NU has plenty of stellar defensive playmakers, like all-time sack leader Joe Gaziano and Baby Fitz middle linebacker Paddy Fisher.

Unfortunately, the offensive side of the ball has kept them from being all that they can be. Nevertheless, the Illini will have plenty of NU defensive playmakers to account for and game plan around.
Francis Peay Jersey Retro

Prediction: Illini Football 27, Northwestern 10

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.

Stan Olejniczak Jersey Retro

Two and three years ago, we took a journey back to the beginnings of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise. We provided a game-by-game breakdown of their 1933 and 1934 seasons based on press accounts from the time. I didn’t get around to continuing that series last year but I definitely wanted to bring it back for this offseason.

I get this isn’t a topic for everyone. Steelers’ history, the time before Chuck Noll arrived, is very niche. But I also know some of you guys enjoy it as much as I do; it’s one of my favorite topics to write about. Much of this history is forgotten but it certainly isn’t lost.

Hopefully you have as much fun reading it as I do writing it.

Two notes of clarification/detail. We are using the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and defunct Pittsburgh Press as our tour guides for the season. And the team was called the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1933 to 1940. We’ll call them as such throughout the article.

Game #1: September 13th, 1935 – at Philadelphia Eagles (17-7) W

Before we get into the details of the game, and the season, your starting lineups for the beginning of the year.

Armand Niccolai/Duquesne – End

Sandy Sandberg/Iowa Wesleyan – Tackle

George Rado/Duquesne – Guard

Ben Ciccone/Duquesne – Center

Bob Hoel/Pittsburgh – Guard

Stan Olejniczak/Pittsburgh – Tackle

Ben Smith/Alabama – End

Cy Casper/TCU – Quarterback

Johnny Gildea/St. Bonaventure – Halfback

Heinie Weisenbaugh/Pittsburgh – Halfback

Swede Ellstrom/Oklahoma – Fullback

From the 1933 team, no starters remained and there was high turnover from the 1934 roster. Typical for the times.

After spending three weeks of training camp at South Park, the season began with promise, beating the Eagles 17-7 at home. 20,000 fans watched, the most ever for an Eagles’ game. Philadelphia did score first, a 63 yard drive that ended with a TD pass on 4th and goal from the one.

To add injury to insult Ben Smith – the Pirates’ best receiver – suffered a nasty gash over his face in the early goings.

A fun excerpt, a sign of the era. Teams routinely punted before fourth down in order to try to gain a field position advantage. The PPG notes that in at least one instance, Gildea punted on second down.

The Steelers tied things up thanks to a couple of explosive plays. Niccolai took a lateral from Casper for a final gain of 39 yards and Gildea hit Weisenbaugh to the one yard line. Casper took it in on a QB sneak on third down to tie things up at 7, following the Niccolai kick. Niccolai took over full kicking duties after Mose Kelsch, the first true kicker in league history, died in the prior offseason.

Bull Snyder, the heaviest player on the team at 230 pounds, blocked a punt, and Olejniczak recovered it to take a 14-7 lead. Niccolai rounded things off with a 47 yard attempt. So far, so good.

Game #2: September 22nd, 1935 – vs New York Giants (42-7 Loss)

The opening win created a sense of optimism. Which the powerhouse Giants promptly squashed. The Steelers had record attendance, drawing 23, 298 fans, perhaps helped by the Giants’ march into town.

Pittsburgh came into the game dealing with hardship. Head coach Joe Bach was not on the sidelines, back home after his wife died earlier in the week. Assistant Cad Reese would take over for the day. On the field, the Steelers suffered several injuries. Art Strutt and Silvio “Sid” Zaninelli were injured in the first half. Ben Smith, who needed six stitches to fix his cut from last week, attempted to play. In a Ben Roethlisberger move, he ditched his “head gear” designed to protect himself almost immediately after the game started and wound up re-opening those stitches in the third quarter.

The Giants raced out to a 28-0 lead, mostly through the air, with star running back Ken Strong not participating w due to an injured ankle. Per the press reports, the Steelers defense played miserably, missing far too many tackles. One of the worst examples came for the Giants’ first touchdown. Kink Richards eluded three tacklers for a 14 yard scamper in the first quarter.

Pittsburgh went through the air for their biggest plays, which wound up being far and few between. Casper hit Bill Sortet for 42. On their scoring drive, Gildea found Smith for gains of 30 and 12 before hitting Weisenbaugh for 17 yards down to the Giants’ two. They hooked up again for the only home team score of the day.

In total, the Pirates netted only 37 total yards. They completed 9 of 23 passes for 116 yards and picked up just six first downs.

Game #3: September 29th, 1935 – vs Chicago Bears (23-7 Loss)

A crowd of nearly 12,000 on hand watched the Bears put up all their points in the second quarter. The team was evidently unprepared by George Halas’ vaunted “man-in-motion” defense that per the Press, made the Pirates’ defense to look “quite stupid.” Very Twitter-like analysis.

One stat tells the story of how outclassed Pittsburgh was. The Bears completed 13 of 28 passes for three touchdowns while the Steelers completed only 5/26 and five interceptions. Even Kent Graham thinks that is bad.

The Bears’ special teams were also strong with halfbacks George Grosvenor and Keith Molesworth having long punt returns. The latter caught a touchdown pass, too.

Even when things went right for Pittsburgh, they found a way to go wrong. Rookie John Turley picked off QB Bob Dunlap deep in Pirates’ territory. But inexplicably, he tried to lateral the ball to no one and Chicago recovered. They’d go on to kick a 23 yard field goal. On another play, Cy Casper returned a punt from his 33 to the Bears 40. He would’ve gotten farther had he not collided with a ref.

Some minor positive for the Pirates that day. Ciccone blocked a field goal, and for the team’s lone score, Gildea hit Sortet for a 21 yard gain, who lateraled to Casper for the score. The Press said linemen George Rado played “brilliantly.” Beyond that, there isn’t much to say, except for same old Pittsburgh.

If you’re curious, the starting lineups for the game.

Game #4: October 6, 1935 – at Green Bay Packers (27-0 Loss)

The road didn’t get easier for Pittsburgh. And for the papers, their game reports got shorter with the game being far away on the road. It only made a tiny excerpt on the 4th page of the PPG’s sports section.

Apparently the team added a “half-dozen new players” and made one key lineup change, benching their QB – Cy Casper – for Turley.

Similar story to Chicago. The Packers scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. Don Hutson caught a pair of them, including one from 50 yards out.

Casper would look to redeem himself, busting off a long run in one of the only highlights included. Through four games, the Pirates had allowed a league-high 99 points.

Game #5: October 9th, 1935 – vs Philadelphia Eagles (17-6 Loss)

And you thought Thursday Night games were bad. It was the shortest of weeks for Pittsburgh, playing Green Bay on Sunday and Philadelphia on Wednesday. Only 6271 fans showed up on a foggy workweek night. The Steelers wore their 1934 “throwbacks,” now known as the Bumblees.

Making his Steelers’ debut was Jim Leavey, a major leaguer and Pittsburgh’er who played four seasons with the St. Louis Browns. He would turn out to be on of their best weapons.

The Eagles scored within the first five minutes and held the lead for the rest of the night, rarely being threatened. They raced out to a 17-0 advantage thanks to a two yard run, a 40 yard field goal, and 56 yard pass. Warren Heller, a carry over from the previous year, threw an interception that set up Philly’s field goal.

Pittsburgh’s lone score came via a John Doehring 10 yard TD pass to Weisenbaugh. That drive included Doehring hitting Vic Vidoni for 18 yards and Ben Smith making a spectacular catch, wrestling the ball away from a pair of Eagles.

Other odds and ends. Gildea was hurt very early in this one. Leavey is described a making a couple of “nice runs,” praised by both publications. And Stan Olejniczak was ejected after clocking Eggs Manske in the face. Per the rules of the time, the penalty was half the distance to the goal, 41 yards in total.

Team stats from the game.

Game #6: October 20th, 1935 – vs Chicago Cardinals (17-13 Win)

11 days off did the Steelers plenty of good. It was arguably the best game the team played in their short three year history.

“There hasn’t been anything like it in Pittsburgh in years and certainly not in the last three years since Pittsburgh put a team in the National Professional League,” wrote the PPGs’ Volney Walsh to headline his game recap. It was their best game. Also a violent one. By the end, three players were ejected, one knocked out cold, and a lot of controversy. We’ll get to that.

Pittsburgh got on the board first with Doehring, nicknamed “Lefty,” finding Casper on a 14 yard touchdown pass. The Cards’ Phil Sarboe tied things up with an 80 yard pick six in the second quarter. Pittsburgh caught a break late in the half. Armand Niccolai missed a field goal but Chicago was ruled offsides. He made the re-try, going up 10-7 into the third quarter.

Chicago went up 13-10 but this time, it was the Pirates turn for a long defensive touchdown. Art Strutt raced 74 yards the other way, retaking the lead, 17-13. Late in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh clung to their four point advantage. Last play of the game, Chicago with the ball 19 yards away from the end zone.

Sarboe dropped back and looked to pass but there wasn’t anything available to him. He tucked the ball and ran, dodging defenders but in Super Bowl Mike Jones style, was dragged down at the one yard line as time expired. Chicago argued there was a second left, trying to get off a timeout, but the refs weren’t having it. A scrum ensued, and somehow in the mess, Cy Casper was sucker punched and knocked unconscious. It’s not known who socked him.

But it was worth it, Pittsburgh getting a much-needed victory. Sortet was said to have one of the “best games he has ever played” while the offensive line was credited for doing the dirty work.

Game #7: October 27th, 1935 – vs Boston Redskins (6-0 W)

Welcome to the first winning streak in franchise history. It was a special teams dominated game, one that would make Danny Smith swoon. The games only points came from Niccolai’s toe, going 2/3 on the day, connecting from 41 and 43 yards out. The headline reflected that accurately.

And it was the leg of punter Sid Zaninelli that flipped field position.

Jack Sell of the PPG wrote the following of his play.

“[He] kept the sailing leather far over the head of the safety man or out of reach to his right or left…”

That “safety man” was Hall of Famer Cliff Battles, shut down that day by Pittsburgh. Vidoni and Sortet got the bulk of the credit.

According to dual reports by the local papers, there’s also some history to fill in the blanks of. Zaninelli recorded an 80 yard punt. Booting from his own 19, the ball sailed over Battles’ head, touched down at the 13, and then rolled two feet shy of the goal line. Assuming that’s accurate, and there’s no reason to doubt it, it’s the second longest punt in franchise history, beating out Jordan Berry and Drew Butler, tied for “second’ place with 79 yarders. It’s only two yards behind the record holder Joe Geri.

Officially, such a punt isn’t listed because most data from then in scarce. But it should be in the record books. The Press also commended Zaninelli for a “bang-up defensive game.”

Victory came on a day where the offense recorded just one first down, a 37 yard completion to Casper. That drive ended in an interception. Good field position came from special teams and defense; Levey had a long punt return and Rado recovered a Battles’ fumble on Boston’s 40. That set up each field goal.

There was one penalty the entire game, offsides on Boston.

Boston had one final chance, throwing a Hail Mary on the Pirates’ 48 on the final play. It fell incomplete and with the victory, Pittsburgh moved into second place in the Eastern Division, trailing only the Giants.

Game #8: November 3rd, 1935 – Brooklyn Dodgers (13-7 Loss)

Over 13,000 fans showed up, per the Post Gazette. Two potential firsts in this one. The first “what is a catch” and the first “Johnny Cueto” moment. Here’s what happened.
Stan Olejniczak Jersey Retro

Dodgers’ receiver Wayland Becker (love these names) caught a pass in the right corner of the end zone. But press reports say his right foot was clearly out of bounds, on the white chalk line, meaning it should’ve been incomplete. The ref ruled it a touchdown, leading to an argument from Pittsburgh. The call, of course, stood (Mike Carey said it was incomplete).

But the fans heckling and the yelling from the players apparently got in the refs head and he spotted the ball incorrectly on the following drives, off by a good five yards. The “stands roared,” according to the paper.

Awesome picture, one photographer capturing the controversial play.

Bill Brundige Jersey Retro

One of the greatest players in CU football history, All-American defensive end Bill Brundige passed away at his home in Knoxville, Tenn. on Dec. 29 after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

The 6-foot-5 Brundige, who was known as one of the most respected pass rushers in the Big Eight, was born on the eastern plains of Colorado in Holyoke. He came to the University of Colorado as a standout at Haxtun High School and was a Football Writers Association of America first team All-American in 1969. Brundige racked up a total of 13 sacks and 24 tackles for loss to earn All-Big Eight honors during his senior year.

A true student-athlete as a physics major, Brundige was named to the academic all-conference first team as a junior with a 3.8 GPA. He also participated in track and field during his time in Boulder and was inducted into the CU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

“Big Bill” along with College Football Hall of Famer Herb Orvis were key contributors for the Buffs’ defense in the 1969 Liberty Bowl win over Alabama. The duo caused nightmares for Tide quarterback Scott Hunter, who recalled that December afternoon in Memphis, Tenn. “Colorado was bigger and stronger than we were. Orvis was working over our offensive tackle and every time I went back to throw, I couldn’t get the ball off.” Brundige had a total of five sacks in the game which remains a CU record to this day.

The “genius” field general was drafted in the second round of the 1970 NFL Draft (43rd overall) by the coach Vince Lombardi and the Washington Redskins. Lombardi was quoted as saying the Redskins were “Very, very fortunate” to get Brundige in the second round without having a first round pick, and that he ranked him as the third-best defender coming out of college that year, but would have “picked him first if we had the chance.” Brundige was one of the last draft selections for the legendary NFL coach, who died from cancer eight month later at the age of 57.
Bill Brundige Jersey Retro

Brundige played eight seasons for Washington including in Super Bowl VII. In 2002, he was named to the Redskins’ 70 greatest team.

Keith Taylor Jersey Retro

Keith Taylor, the local chef who honed his craft under legendary chef Dieter Krug at the highly credentialed former l’Auberge restaurant in Kettering and went on to launch Savona Restaurant and Wine Bar in Centerville, will serve as executive chef for a new Italian eatery coming to the north Miami Valley.

Tavolo Modern Italian is under construction at 101 S. Ohio Ave. in downtown Sidney and is projected to open next spring.

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The new restaurant is the brainchild of Rocco Catanzarite, who also owns Murphy’s Craftbar + Kitchen in downtown Sidney.

“Keith and I are good friends,” Catanzarite told this news outlet Monday night. “We worked together on the menu for Murphy’s. I believe he is the best chef in this part of Ohio.”

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Taylor, a Dayton native and Northridge High School graduate, worked at l’Auberge under Krug until the former co-owner retired in 1999, then served under Krug’s successor as l’Auberge executive chef, Dominique Fortin, who would go on to found C’est Tout (later Dominique’s) in Oakwood.

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Taylor would go on to serve as executive chef at what was then Pacchia in the Oregon District, and at Country Club of the North in Beavercreek.

In 2007, he founded Savona Restaurant and Wine Bar in Centerville, which later morphed into Twisted Root and Root 48 before shutting down in 2014.

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The new venture, Tavolo Modern Italian, will seat about 150, including 32 on a patio, and will employ about 40, Catanzarite said.
Keith Taylor Jersey Retro

The new restaurant’s menu will include pasta dishes prepared from “all-fresh pasta that we will make in-house,” Tavolo’s founder said. Craft cocktails, a large wine menu and a selection of craft beers also will be available.

To keep up with the new restaurant’s progress toward opening, check out the Tavolo Modern Italian Facebook page.

Gar Leaf Jersey Retro

Since joining the team in 2011, Jake Gardiner has been the most polarizing player on the Toronto Maple Leafs. His skill and swashbuckling style of play left fans amazed at some times and frustrated at others. It was not uncommon to see the smooth-skating defenceman make a costly giveaway in his own end, only to follow it up with an elusive move to create a scoring chance on the very next shift.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
And now that the Leafs’ season has come to an end, so has Gardiner’s tenure with the team. The 28-year old defenceman will become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) on July 1, and given the Leafs’ tight salary cap, there is virtually no chance of re-signing him. As a mobile, puck-moving defenceman, Gardiner will have no shortage of suitors. Coming off a five-year deal that paid him just $4.05 million per season, he will be looking for a hefty raise, and rightfully so.

Whether in the form of Twitter comments, boos from the home crowd, or animated arguments at the bar, Gardiner was the whipping boy for the media and fanbase over the past few seasons.

But what most hockey fans in Toronto don’t realize is just how good Gardiner has been for the Leafs, and how much his absence will be felt next season.

A Top-Pairing Defenceman
Whether you’re a Gardiner supporter or not, it’s impossible to deny how crucial the Minnesota native has been for the Leafs since becoming a full-time NHLer in the 2011-12 season.

Gardiner is currently the second-longest serving Leaf behind only Nazem Kadri. Over the past eight seasons, Gardiner has played in 551 regular season games, plus 26 playoff games. He is the 11th-most tenured Leafs defenceman of all-time.

Jake Gardiner (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Over the last three seasons, Gardiner has averaged 21:48 of ice time per game, 53rd amongst NHL defencemen over that span. Even more impressively, he ranks 23rd in points amongst defencemen with 125, and 25th in points-per-60 minutes (1.52) over that same time frame. This rate of production tops stars around the league such as Alex Pietrangelo, Zach Werenski, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, and many others.

Comparing Gardiner to his teammates only further highlights his importance. Since 2016-17, his production from the blue line is bested only by Morgan Rielly’s 152 points. Third-ranked Nikita Zaitsev is all the way down at 63, illustrating just how much of the load Rielly and Gardiner have carried.

The usually durable defender missed over a month of action when he was taken out of the lineup with a back injury on Feb. 27. The Leafs felt his absence immediately, sputtering along at 8-7-3 until his return on April 4.

Despite all of the complaints about Gardiner’s play – that he’s too soft, too nonchalant, or too inconsistent – the numbers speak for themselves. On top of that, general manager Kyle Dubas has spoken publicly about his importance and clearly understands Gardiner’s value in the modern game.

Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
“The one thing I would reiterate is how important he’s been to turning the organization around,” Dubas said of Gardiner in a January press conference. “Jake is a player that has the puck a lot. When you play hockey and you have the puck a lot, and you try to be creative and you make skilled plays, from time to time, they’re not going to go your way.

“With Jake, the positive far, far outweighs the times when it doesn’t go right. That’s why we like him and that’s why he’s been so important for us over the last number of years or since we’ve been here,” said Dubas.

An Analytics Darling
Gardiner is a bona fide top-pairing defenceman by almost any measure, and that’s especially clear once you dive into stats beyond the box scores. He’s been known as a bit of an analytics darling during his entire career by those who are statistically inclined, and his 2018-19 season was no exception.

Goals Above Replacement (GAR) of NHL defencemen, 2018-19. Chart from evolving-hockey.com
According to goals above replacement (GAR), an all-encompassing stat to evaluate skaters, Gardiner ranked 17th among defencemen in 2018-19. If we look at only even-strength impact, Gardiner ranked fifth.

Yes, with all the turnovers, blunders, bobbles, and miscues, Gardiner was still the fifth-best defenceman at even-strength last season. He does so many subtle yet effective things that tilt the ice in his team’s favour, which is why he’s a legitimate top-30 defender in the league. Like the Leafs’ general manager said: with high-skill players like Gardiner, you take the bad with the good, because the good heavily outweighs the bad.

Jake Gardiner vs. Morgan Rielly, 2016-2019. RAPM Chart from evolving-hockey.com
This RAPM chart compares Gardiner and Rielly at even-strength over the past three seasons (2016-2019). There is a clear difference between the two players: Rielly is elite offensively but weak defensively, while Gardiner has positive impacts on both sides of the ice – especially on offence. For how good Rielly is in the offensive zone, he gives quite a bit back in his own end in both shots (Def_CF) and expected goals against (Def_xG). Meanwhile, Gardiner is a fantastic two-way defender who does everything well.

Microstats comparing Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly, 2016-2019. Data from Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine), chart by CJ Turtoro (@CJDevil)
This chart uses “microstats” which involve manual tracking. It’s particularly valuable for player evaluation because it quantifies the subtle plays that viewers often miss. It breaks down contributions into four distinct categories: shot contributions, zone entries (at the offensive blue line), zone exits (at the defensive blue line), and entry defence (defending own blue line).

Once again, Rielly excels at offensive contributions and transitional play, but he’s poor when it comes to stifling the opposition at his own blue line. Gardiner is well above average at everything including defending his own blue line, which he normally often doesn’t get enough credit for.

All of this is not to take anything away from Rielly, who is an absolute stud. The point is to make you rethink how you evaluate players and in turn, reconsider who has really been the Leafs’ best defenceman over the past several seasons. It’s easy to focus on a costly turnover, but what a lot of viewers overlook are the dozens of subtle plays Gardiner makes – with and without the puck – to help his team win on any given night.

The Leafs’ Defence and Potential Replacements
With Gardiner’s imminent exit, the Leafs’ already questionable defence looks even worse. Igor Ozhiganov is going back to the KHL and unrestricted free agent Ron Hainsey won’t be re-signed if Dubas has his way. That leaves head coach Mike Babcock with Rielly, Zaitsev, Jake Muzzin, and Travis Dermott as his likely top-four.

Travis Dermott
Dermott seems like Toronto’s best bet to fill the void left by Gardiner’s absence. The 22-year old finished his first full NHL season with 17 points in 64 games played, mostly utilized in a sheltered third-pairing role. The Newmarket, Ontario native was generally impressive, with some occasional youthful mistakes. The important thing is that he’s demonstrated the tools – skating, passing, physicality, and hockey IQ – to be at least a top-four NHL defenceman. Whether he can take that next step sooner rather than later has yet to be seen, but he will probably be given more responsibility as soon as next season, once he returns from shoulder surgery.

James Coley Jersey Retro

The Georgia Football fans are still licking their wounds from the Dawgs devastating SEC Title game loss to the LSU Tigers. Part of the fans’ healing process is looking for people to place the blame for the defeat. However, James Coley is not the person the disgruntled fans should turn towards.

The Georgia Bulldogs were not at their best in any phase of the game Saturday while falling in defeat to LSU. Rodrigo Blankenship uncharacteristically missed two field goals. Defensively the Dawgs surrendered a season-high 37 points. Yet, it is the team’s anemic offense that is catching the majority of the heat.

In similar situations in which an offense fails to deliver, the offensive coordinator typically takes the brunt of the criticism. However, Georgia Football fans should look in another direction for why the team was unable to score big against the Tigers.

Georgia Bulldogs offensive coordinator James Coley called a good game Saturday. He came out aggressively, dialing up a play that opened up wide receiver Tyler Simmons for what would have been a huge gain to start the game. Unfortunately, Simmons was unable to come up with the catch.

Later on that same drive, Jake Fromm and Matt Landers barely missed on a deep sideline pass that would have placed UGA at the LSU 20. Then, Demetris Robertson was unable to scoop a low throw from Fromm off the turf near the LSU 25 yard line.

That’s three times on the first drive alone that Coley’s play call schemed the Dawgs open for potential momentum-shifting plays. He can not be faulted for the team being unable to execute those plays.

More than just dialing up big plays, James Coley did a good job of calling man beating plays against LSU. He designed several plays that were slant routes or crossing routes towards the inside, paired with a flat rout to the outside. Things that Georgia fans have been screaming for all season.

LSU often covered up the inside route and gave up the short flat route, opting to rally to the ball and using the boundary as an extra defender. Coley used this strategy to get running back D’Andre Swift two catches, allowing him to get the ball outside in space rather than inside in traffic where his injured shoulder would be in harm’s way.

James Coley also called double-crossing route concepts – or a mesh concept – multiple times against the man coverage heavy Tigers. One noticeable instance was on a red zone possession in the second half. Unfortunately, Jake Fromm was impatient and forced an incompletion to the right side. The CBS television broadcast immediately pointed out that George Pickens had broken free to the left after the two crossing routes intersected and it would have created an easy pitch and catch for the Dawgs. Again Coley dialed-up open receivers, but the play still must be executed properly.

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D’Andre Swift
The one single play call that I understand the backfire he’s receiving was a Brian Herrien draw play on 3rd & 9 late in the first quarter. The play gained only two yards and led to a missed 52-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship.

Other than that I would have like to have seen Coley better establish a one-two punch on the ground with Zamir White or Herrien as Thunder and James Cook as lightening. However had the big plays Coley dialed up early been executed properly, establishing the run next would have been much easier.

Ultimately James Coley should be commended for the game he called against LSU. He was working without Lawrence Cager for the game and George Pickens for the first half, all while offensive centerpiece D’Andre Swift was a shell of himself. Add in the fact that explosive Dominick Blaylock suffered a first-half knee injury, and Coley just did not have many tools in the chest.

Yet time and time again Georgia Bulldogs pass-catchers broke open in Atlanta. Unfortunately over and over again a throw was off target, a read was missed, or a makeable play was not made.

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WR, Matt Landers
James Coley certainly has room for improvement. He needs to incorporate more bunch sets and stack formations to combat opponents playing press-man coverage with a loaded box against the Bulldogs. Making the tight end a bigger threat in the gameplan will also make the Dawgs more difficult to defend. He needs to continue to incorporate more creative and innovative plays and sets into the UGA playbook, and most importantly Kirby Smart needs to allow Coley to balance the offense by throwing the football more.

The Georgia Bulldogs definitely did not get the results they were looking for from their offense this season. However, James Coley showing the ability to adjust as the season wore on should not be overlooked. He should be given the opportunity to watch the film and the freedom to adjust accordingly.

Most importantly Coley is one of the nation’s best recruiters, particularly in South Florida which is one of the country’s hotbeds for producing collegiate football players. That alone will soon make him a candidate for coaching positions with other teams.
James Coley Jersey Retro

Georgia Football fans should not want to run him off after one year in a new role. Just like players can study film, develop and improve so can coaches. I have every reason to believe that Coley will do just that. Aside from that, the Bulldogs must get more playmakers in the passing game to help him execute his schemes.

James Coley can lead Dawgs to water, but he can’t make them drink.