September 8, 2008

Where in the #$%&! is Vince Young?

Vince Young is in the news for all the wrong reasons today. Television cameras caught him having to be talked into the game in the fourth quarter by coach Jeff Fisher against Jacksonville Sunday. Young had just been booed by his own fans after throwing his second interception of the game.


Vince Young is in the news for all the wrong reasons today. Television cameras caught him having to be talked into the game in the fourth quarter by coach Jeff Fisher. Young had just been booed by his own fans after throwing his second interception of the game against Jacksonville.

Fisher said after the game Young was hesitant to go back in because of a tight hamstring, not because he was pouting.

Young went back in, then suffered a knee injury that could keep him out two to four weeks.

Tennessee won the game 17-10 because of an insane defense and because Kerry Collins hit tight end Bo Scaife on the play of the game, a 44-yard catch and run on third-and-15 from the Tennessee 30. Four plays later, LenDale White put down his jelly doughnuts and scored on a 1-yard run for the game-winning points.

It's clear the Titans have been trying to keep Young happy. They have been messaging his ego and accommodating him. Enough. It wasn't until Young was threatened with being benched at Texas after a two-interception game against Missouri in 2004 that he became VY.

Fisher is in a tough position. He coaches for Bud Adams, who is never going to spend a fortune to surround Young with talent. Fisher is one of the top three coaches in the NFL because he consistently coaches up his talent and puts defenses on the field that do what they did to Jacksonville yesterday - sacking David Garrard seven times and grabbing two interceptions.

If Tennessee's defense keeps playing like that, the Titans could go to the Super Bowl, especially with Tom Brady on ice in New England. But it's time for Fisher to get tough with Young. Bring in another quarterback. Throw the job open. Tell him to compete or get lost. If that doesn't get Young to turn into VY, then nothing will.

The knock on Young at Texas was that it took him a little too long to get into the film room. Once he did, he led the nation in pass efficiency. The problem with Young in the NFL is that he beat defenses as a rookie because he wasn't afraid to run if needed. He doesn't run anymore. This spring, he went to school at Texas instead of locking himself in a film room with new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.

At every step of the way, Fisher has had Vince's back. Probably because Fisher knows it can be frustrating working for a penny-pincher like Adams and because he knows Young has untapped intangibles. But the reality is Young seems to be living off his Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and a Pro Bowl berth that fell into his lap after others backed out.

It's time to get tough with Young and tell him, "If you're content for your legacy to be a rookie award and a half-baked Pro Bowl berth, then take your signing bonus and go sell barbecue in Austin." (He has a new barbecue endorsement deal.)

Otherwise, suck it up, tell the fans you're willing to do whatever it takes to help an incredibly talented team win a Super Bowl and then get to work. It's that simple. Mack Brown had the you-know-whats to tell Young he had to get better quickly … or else. Brown gave him tapes of Young making huge plays and having fun in high school. Young asked for the right to be himself. They both ended up happy.

An NFL source I trust told me last night that Young, whom I jokingly refer to on my radio show as "Black Jesus," is more like the "Black Trent Dilfer." It's time for Fisher to take the same approach Mack Brown did. Otherwise Vince, the pampered millionaire, may make sure the competitive assassin I've always known as VY won't have any legacy in the NFL.


1. OKLAHOMA (2-0)

Last week's ranking: No. 3

Bottom line: OU pounded Cincinnati 52-26. Sam Bradford is officially in the Heisman race after carving up a respectable Cincinnati secondary for 395 yards passing and five touchdowns (and two picks). … WR Ryan Broyles (seven catches for 141 yards and a TD) and TE Jermaine Gresham (seven catches for 93 yards and two TDs) did a lot of the damage. … OU's secondary is still suspect, and the Sooners turned Cincy WR Marshawn Gilyard into an awards candidate by allowing him 345 all-purpose yards, including 246 return yards.

By the numbers: OU has won a nation's best 20 straight home games and is 56-2 in Norman under Bob Stoops

This Saturday: at Washington (2-0). The Huskies are coming off a heartbreaker loss at home to BYU after QB Jake Locker was penalized for excessive celebration and UW had its extra point blocked in a 28-27 defeat.

2. MISSOURI (2-0)

Last week's ranking
: No. 1

Bottom line: The Tigers raced past SE Missouri 52-3 as Chase Daniel was his usual self, setting the school record for completion percentage by going 16-of-17 passing (.941). … All-American receiver Jeremy Maclin played despite an ankle injury suffered last week against Illinois and caught two passes for 20 yards and a TD. … The unsung hero for the second straight week, however, was LB Sean Weatherspoon, who recorded his third interception of the season and second touchdown.

By the numbers: Weatherspoon already has 100 yards in interception returns this season.

This Saturday: Nevada (1-1). The Wolfpack outgained Texas Tech 488-421 last week in a 35-19 loss to the Red Raiders

3. TEXAS (2-0)

Last week's ranking
: No. 2

Bottom line: The Longhorns got to unleash new weapon Fozzy Whittaker. Colt McCoy had four touchdown passes (and one pick) while the defense shut out UTEP in the second half of a 42-13 victory. UT also blocked a punt for the second straight game and now has a nation-leading 50 blocked kicks since 2000. McCoy is 22-6 as a starter, tied with RB coach Major Applewhite (22-8) for seventh in career victories.

By the numbers: UT has won a school-record nine straight non-conference road games.

This Saturday: Arkansas (2-0). The Razorbacks trailed Louisiana-Monroe 24-6 in the third quarter before rallying for a 28-27 victory in Little Rock as ULM missed a field goal at the gun. Arkansas also went to the wire in a 28-24 victory over Western Illinois in Week 1.


Last week's ranking
: No. 4

Bottom line: OSU went on the road to beat Washington State last week and wiped out Houston 56-37 at Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday. … RB Kendall Hunter is emerging as a star. He has rushed 45 times for 317 yards (7 ypc) and four TDs (he had 210 yards rushing and two scores vs. UH). … WR Dez Bryant is going off as well. He had nine catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns against UH and has 16 catches for 326 yards through two games.

By the numbers: OSU outran Houston 379 yards to 96 and won despite losing the turnover battle (3-1).

This Saturday: Missouri State (0-1)

5. KANSAS (2-0)

Last week's ranking
: 7th

Bottom line: Kansas took a Louisiana Tech team that upset Mississippi State the week before and dealt a shutout 29-0. … QB Todd Reesing of Lake Travis threw for a career-best 412 yards (third-best in school history. … KU won its 11th straight home game, second-longest streak in school history.

By the numbers: WRs Dezmon Briscoe and Daymond Patterson combined for 15 catches for 276 yards and three TDs.

This Friday: at South Florida (2-0). USF has won six straight out-of-conference games, including last Saturday's OT win against Central Florida. QB Matt Grothe will be a major test for KU's defense, which posted its third shutout since 2000 against Louisiana Tech.

6. TEXAS TECH (2-0)

Last week's ranking
: 6th

Bottom line: After a record 18 penalties in a ragged victory over Eastern Washington, the Red Raiders weren't exactly convincing in a 35-19 win at Nevada. … Late in the third quarter, Tech was up by only two points. … QB Graham Harrell had career-lows for completions (19) and completion percentage in the Nevada game and also threw two interceptions.

By the numbers: Through two games, Michael Crabtree has 16 catches for 231 yards.

This Saturday: SMU (1-1). June Jones vs. Mike Leach. This game could last all night.

7. COLORADO (2-0)

Last week's ranking
: 5th

Bottom line: Some how, some way, Dan Hawkins got his team to rally from a 21-7 third quarter deficit against Division I-AA Eastern Washington for a 31-24 victory. … The victory wasn't secured until Buffs' CB Cha'pelle Brown picked off a pass and returned it 27 yards for the game-winning score with less than 2 minutes remaining. … Darrell Scott ran 13 times for a meager 39 yards.

By the numbers: Cody Hawkins was 28 of 38 passing for 261 yards and three TDs with one INT.

This Saturday: A bye before a game against free-falling West Virginia

8. NEBRASKA (2-0)

Last week's ranking
: 8th

Bottom line: Nebraska fought for its life against Dick Tomey's San Jose State team. The Huskers led 14-12 early in the fourth quarter before Niles Paul ran back a kickoff 85 yards to help jumpstart the Big Red in a 35-12 victory. … RB Marlon Lucky had only 23 yards on seven carries. … QB Joe Ganz has been erratic. So far he's 37 of 61 for 561 yards with four TDs and three INTs. … The defense allowed SJSU to outgain Nebraska 353-315.

By the numbers: NU was penalized 12 times for 103 yards.

This Saturday: New Mexico State (0-0). The Aggies will be opening their season against Nebraska because their opener against Nicholls State was postponed due to Hurricane Gustav. The Nebraska pass defense will get a major test as NMSU QB Chase Holbrook threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 26 TDs last season.


Last week's ranking
: 9th

Bottom line: The Wildcats throttled Montana State 69-10. The competition has been a joke so far (North Texas and Montana State), but QB Josh Freeman has been solid. In two games, he's 34 of 45 passing for 520 yards and five TDs with 0 INTs and is the nation's fifth-rated passer (tops in the Big 12). … Freeman has also run 10 times for 58 yards and four scores.

By the numbers: The K-State defense held Montana State to less than a 50 percent completion rate.

This Saturday: Bye. Then K-State goes to Louisville, which bounced back from its dreadful opening loss at home to Kentucky with a 51-10 win against Tennessee Tech.

10. IOWA STATE (2-0)

Last week's ranking
: 10th

Bottom line: Gene Chizik continued to get solid play from his QB rotation of Austin Arnaud and Phillip Bates in a 48-28 win against Kent State (avenging a 23-14 loss to Kent State last season). … Arnaud was 12-of-15 passing for 166 yards and a TD, while Bates had 83 yards rushing on eight carries, including a long run of 56 yards. Both QBs threw a TD pass.

By the numbers: The Iowa State defense continues give up some gaudy yardage (Kent State RB Eugene Jarvis had 199 yards and two Tds on 28 touches), but it already has 10 takeaways this season and is +6 in turnover margin through two games.

This Saturday: at Iowa (2-0). The Cyclones have won seven of their last 10 meetings with Hawkeyes but will be looking to snap an 11-game losing streak on the road. ISU is just 5-25 on the road since 2002.

11. TEXAS A&M (1-1)

Last week's ranking
: 11th

Bottom line: New Mexico turned the ball over four times, allowing the Aggies enough chances on offense to hang on for a 28-22 victory on the road. … QB Stephen McGee went down, and backup QB/TE Jerrod Johnson came in and threw three touchdown passes while completing 10 of 19 passes for 124 yards. … Freshman Jeff Fuller had three receptions for 36 yards and two TDs.
By the numbers: Texas A&M was outgained 370-236 by the Lobos.

This Saturday: A bye before facing a Miami team that played Florida close into the fourth quarter and showed off some serious defense.

12. BAYLOR (1-1)

Last week's ranking
: 12th

Bottom line: Freshman QB Robert Griffin continues to look like a future stud. He was 15-of-19 passing for 294 yards and three TDs. He also ran 10 times for 42 yards and another score. All of this in just two and a half quarters of play. … The Bears led 30-0 before Northwestern State got a first down.

By the numbers: Baylor broke a nine-game losing streak.

This Saturday: Washington State (0-2). The Cougars lost their first two games at home to Oklahoma State and Cal by a combined score of 105-16.


No. 5 Ohio State at No. 1 USC
- The Buckeyes will win this game because everyone is counting them out. Beanie Wells in the backfield would help, however. (USC sees the second coming of Vince Young in Terrelle Pryor.)

No. 2 Georgia at South Carolina - The Ol' Ball Coach has lost eight straight to ranked teams. He needs to do something soon to prove he's not just interested in simply cashing checks, especially coming off a loss to Vanderbilt.

No. 3 Oklahoma at Washington - Not even a Pac-10 crew and review official can keep the Sooners from winning this one.

No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 21 Fresno State - Pat Hill's Bulldogs, who typically go on the road looking for a fight, get one at home. I like the Bulldogs to win outright.

No. 13 Kansas at No. 19 South Florida (Friday) - I predicted a South Florida victory before the season, so I guess I better stick with that. But this could be the second best game of the weekend.


The trusted NFL source I talked to last night also said Sergio Kindle's name is making its way into scouting departments across the league. "If he keeps progressing like he has been, by the end of next season, a lot of teams will project him to be a player like Shawne Merriman or DeMarcus Ware and he'll go in the first round."

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