Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Week 4 Total QBR

After finishing 2014 with one of the top four total quarterback ratings, two tough games have dropped Georgia Tech junior QB Justin Thomas down near the bottom. But he is not alone: around him in the standings are Jeremy Johnson and Vernon Adams Junior. Hopefully this will be the week Thomas reverses field and raises his rating – but Pitt is no slouch.

Georgia’s Greyson Lambert continues his climb up the ladder. This week he ranks third in the nation. The Dawgs go into Saturday with the QBR advantage over Alabama – as does Clemson over Notre Dame.  

1. 92.8 Travis Wilson, Utah
2. 91.5 Cody Kessler, Southern Cal
3. 89.4 Greyson Lambert, Georgia
8. 85.3 Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

12. 80.8 Connor Cook, Michigan State
14. 79.7 Deshaun Watson, Clemson
15. 79.4 Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
16. 79.2 Trevone Boykin, Texas Christian

18. 79.0 Brandon Allen, Arkansas
19. 78.8 Brandon Harris, LSU
20. 78.4 Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
24. 76.7 Kyle Allen, Texas A&M

25. 74.7 Jacoby Brissett, NC State
30. 71.8 DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
31. 70.7 Matt Johns, Virginia
37. 67.4 Brad Kaaya, Miami (Heisman hopeful?)

40. 67.0 Jerrod Heard, Texas
41. 66.8 Seth Russell, Baylor
42. 66.7 Cardale Jones, Ohio State
44. 65.7 Jake Coker, Alabama

51. 62.1 Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
53. 60.6 Will Grier, Florida
59. 58.4 Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
60. 58.4 Marquise Williams, North Carolina

61. 58.3 Lamar Jackson, Louisville
62. 58.3 John Wolford, Wake Forest
69. 54.9 Thomas Sirk, Duke
70. 53.1 Brenden Motley, Virginia Tech

76. 51.1 Maty Mauk, Missouri
85. 47.2 Everett Golson, Florida State
87. 45.9 Johnny McCrary, Vanderbilt
88. 45.5 Nick Arbuckle, Georgia State

91. 44.5 Joe Hubener, Kennesaw State
94. 43.4 Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
95. 43.4 Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
96. 43.3 Vernon Adams, Jr. Oregon

107. 36.0 Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (#1 pick?)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

David's Dead!

What I hate is when I’m telling a good long story and as soon as I’m done the person I told it to starts telling a similar but slightly different story. That’s what I’m gonna do right here.

We grew up at 669 Wimbush Road in Macon. I attended Rosa Taylor Elementary School, a half mile walk on two-lane neighborhood roads. I would make that walk to school every day. Not a terrible walk, even for a little first grader. After 5th grade my family moved out to Kathryn Drive. A modern new school air-conditioned school was being built a mile away from our new house. Until it opened in mid-year I would be able to stay in class with my longtime friends.

On the first school day after we moved I guess my mom drove me to Rosa Taylor. As a little 5th-grader I wasn’t clear about how I would get home. I didn’t like the idea of riding the bus and wanted my mom to pick me up. After school I waited for my mom as one by one all the buses drove away. Eventually I was the last one left at the school. Finally I started my solidary walk home, a distance of over 3-1/2 miles. As a kid a didn’t walk purposely, instead strolling along at a meandering pace. The distance seemed more like one hundred miles. The walk seemed to take forever. In my head I had been wronged and forgotten. When I finally got home I thought my parents would be happy to see me and apologize for the misunderstanding. Instead they were mad at me for not taking the bus. While I don’t carry a grudge about the long-ago incident, it is an event that I sometimes remember.

One other walking to school story. One afternoon in first grade I was walking home from school with my pal Doye Green. In those days before backpacks became de rigueure  we carried bulky booksatchels. On this day Doye and I were swinging our booksatchels at each other in sort of a mid-sixties elementary school version of a swordfight – Doye’s idea. I quickly tired of the violent game and decided to cross over to the other side of the narrow street. We were nearing the end of Crestline Drive, where Doye right and I went left on Woodridge Drive.

As a first-grader, I did the first-grade thing and step out into the street to my left without checking for oncoming traffic. The last thing I remember is the image of a burgundy station wagon to my left out of the corner of my eye. The driver who hit me happened to be the mother of a girl in my sister’s Girl Scout troop. She had scraped my unconscious body off the pavement, loaded me into her car, and carried me home. Doye ran home, bolted inside, and told his mother “David’s dead! David’s dead!”

The next thing I remember was waking up on my sofa at home. Out the big front window I could see the burgundy station wagon driving away. My mom took me to the hospital to get checked. No broken bones.

Monday, September 28, 2015

2016 HOF RB Nominees

Fourteen running backs were nominated for consideration to be enshrined in the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. A few candidates may be obvious choices, but many are not. As usual, those playing for Super Bowl champions or in the media spotlight will be granted more favor than some who did not. Some will lose favor for how they conducted themselves and others will win points for being media darlings.

Shaun Alexander scored 100 touchdowns, but did not crack the ten thousand yard barrier. These numbers are comparable to hall of famer John Riggins, whose Super Bowl win and oversized personality helped vault him into the hall.
Ottis Anderson lasted 15 seasons, but played for middling teams.

Tiki Barber played in New York and put up great numbers. The fact he wasn’t therefore a mega-star is interesting. Will it keep him out of the hall?

Roger Craig was a productive part of the 49er dynasty, giving him more consideration over players with better stats who toiled with losing teams.

Stephen Davis had more yards per game than only three of the nominees. A talent, but not a hall of famer.

Eddie George was an NFL favorite who put up great numbers. This should help his candidacy.

Priest Holmes toiled in Kansas City and Baltimore, away from the media spotlight.

Edgerrin James put up big numbers in Indianapolis.

Daryl Johnston was nominated solely for his role in the Dallas dynasty, though his stats pale in comparison with the other nominees. He does not belong.

Jamal Lewis quietly gained 10,000 yards. The hall likes winners and bigger than life characters. Not sure Jamal makes the cut.

Clinton Portis outgained only Daryl Johnston. Not sure how he got nominated.

Herschel Walker gained more NFL combined yards than any other nominee, retiring with the third most NFL combined yards in NFL history as well as the most NFL return yards of any running back in history. His NFL yards were more than the combined yards of nominees Shaun Alexander, Clinton Portis, and Daryl Johnston, as well as the combined yards of nominees Stephen and Terrell Davis. His rushing stats are comparable to any the other nominees, his receiving stats top the list, and his return yards are off the charts. At a position with an average career of two years, Walker’s longevity is just one more plus.

Ricky Watters turned off the press with his big mouth, though he was a very productive back.

Brian Westbrook was known for his versatility, and is well known for playing mostly in Philadelphia. Had fewer rushing yards, receiving yards, and return yards than Walker.

Combined yards, average yards per season, years played:
18168.1398.13.Hershel Walker
17357.1735.10.Tiki Barber
14891.1489.10.Ricky Watters
15610.1419.11.Edgerrin James
13335.0889.15.Ottis Anderson
13243.1203.11.Roger Craig
12668.1407.09.Eddie George
12486.1387.09.Jamal Lewis
11260.1251.09.Brian Westbrook
11185.1118.10.Priest Holmes
10973.1219.09.Shaun Alexander
09608.0960.10.Stephen Davis
04248.0472.09.Clinton Portis
02980.0270.11.Daryl Johnston

Terrell Davis deserves special consideration, having put up monster numbers in an injury-shortened career. Forty years ago a Kansas Comet with a similarly short career was enshrined into the Hall. Does Terrell compare favorably to Gale Sayers? The Bear great gained almost one hundred more yards per game, thanks mostly to his dangerous return yards. While Terrell rushed for more yards, I’m not sure the selection committee will let him in.  

08887.1269.07.Terrell Davis
09435.1347.07.Gale Sayers


With USFL alumni Steve Young, Reggie White, and Jim Kelly already members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s time to add the well-deserving Walker. Though his NFL numbers speak for themselves, adding in his USFL numbers make Walker the all-time leading combined yards leader in pro football history. And besides, it’s not called the NFL Hall of Fame.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Who Gets the Worm?

There are two kinds of people in the world: early birds and those who run late. Neither group can understand the other. Is one worse than the other? You tell me.

When I go someplace I am usually not doing anything important before I leave. That means there’s no reason to be late. There’s plenty of time to get ready and leave early. All I would be missing would be sleep or TV. Being ready to leave 30 minutes early means I don’t have to rush. Gives me more time to remember things I may have forgotten. Leaving early allows for unexpected traffic. When I’m going somewhere I don’t go every day I’m not sure about traffic, where I will be parking, how long it takes to get from the parking lot to where I’m going, and how long the wait will be once I get there. Leaving and arriving early allows me time to figure out all these things.

On Sundays I like to get to church in time to figure out where I’m going to sit before the service starts. The seats start to fill up at least ten minutes before the service starts. I want to be there before that. Finding parking places and making the walk inside can sometimes take time. I often run into people I know that want to chat. If I’m late I miss that opportunity. If I have to walk into an unfamiliar church (or class or doctor’s office, etc.) five minutes after a service begins, it is hard for me to get into a spirit of worship.

Being late tells people that you think your time is more important than their time. Coming into a church service late (or leaving the service early) distracts everyone who can see you – which is usually most of the people in attendance. I don’t want people to take their thoughts off God to look at me. I should be doing the opposite.    

When I arrive early I can be the first person to buy a ticket or get waited on or checked in. Being at the front of the line has more advantages. Less waiting. You usually get served first. Remember if I’m early and have to wait, all I’m missing is a little sleep or sitting around the house. Arriving on time for an appointment puts me behind all the people who arrived early. The office may be behind schedule.  

As a kid I loved getting to a Braves or Falcons game early. There’s already so much going on of interest. Kickers kicking. Snappers snapping. Passers passing. Punters punting. Coaches chatting. Music playing. Uniforms and shoes and socks. Announcements and videos on the Jumbotron. It’s even fun to watch the other fans arriving. Ceil’s brother is the same way. Fans who don’t make it to their seats until kickoff or first pitch have already missed so much. Same with leaving the game early – even if one team has a huge lead. It may be “garbage time” but even then you get to see players who usually don’t get to play. Same deal with a concert or vacation or amusement park. Think about all that money you paid to attend the event, and all the trouble you took to get there. Why wouldn’t you want to make it last as long as possible?

People who arrive habitually late usually aren’t bothered by their lateness. This infuriates the early-birds. In my experience the late person just fails to take into account how long it takes to get ready and go somewhere. They may count backwards the time required but fail to include extra time to arrive early or avoid unexpected delays. No matter how many times this mistake is made the late person never seems to change their ways. It’s not our job to change people. We are called to love people the way God made them. We can pray for change, but that’s up to God. We are called to put others ahead of ourselves. Doesn’t this mean we shouldn’t keep them waiting?     

Perhaps Martha was an early bird and Mary was always late. Is lateness tied to personality type? Are late arrivers the outgoing type A people-persons and early birds the compliant type B people-pleasers? This does not seem to be the case. When I leave someone in the car while running into a store for a couple of items, invariably I forget they are waiting and lose my urgency. Should the person waiting in the car not learn this is most always the case? Are we both not at fault?  

People can’t always be early. Sometimes more than one important event occurs at almost the same time. Too often I choose to cram in both events, so usually I can’t have the full experience at neither. Sometimes it’s better to say no and not try to do everything. Likewise when telling someone what time you’ll arrive don’t try to please them by answering with a time you’re highly unlikely to make. Better to say 4 pm and arrive at three than to be 30 minutes late.  
While it stresses me out to be late, it actually stresses Ceil out when I hurry her along. Her funeral will start five minutes after the hour. Mine should start five minutes early.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

GT & UGA: Week 4 Game Notes

Wet weather in Durham and Athens. A good day to watch from home. Dawgs kick off first. Coverage team looks like they don’t want to fall down. Southern holds on first play.

Duke fumbles. If you’re gonna wear black uniforms your might as well not mess with all the white facemasks and stripes and trim. You play six or seven home games and only 12 or 13 in total. How many different unis does a team need? But it’s for the kids.

“A very good Duke defense” says the announcer. We shall see. They hold. The announcers say the punt team comes out, but instead Harrison Butker nails a 52 yard field goal. Less pressure in Durham than South Bend. 3-0 Jackets.

Lambert overthrows Reggie Davis to end his consecutive pass streak. Marshall Morgan splits the uprights from 47. Dawgs up 3-0.

Duke drives. GT defense looks far from formable. Dawgs partially block a Southern punt, and Chubb takes a screen pass to the house. Dawgs 10-0.

On the next play Duke runs it in from the three on third down. Twelve plays 72 yards. Devils 7-3.

In their first 16 games Herschel outrushed Chubb by almost 500 yards. LSU’s Fournette is behind Chubb. For now.

No visor for Justin Thomas today. Duke’s award stickers mar an otherwise decent-looking helmet. Glad Tech doesn’t have them. Terrible third down call – a slow developing play that’s thrown for a loss. Then a snap far over the punter’s head. Then the punter flings a wild pass that could’ve been easily intercepted for a touchdown. Then a long pass completion by Duke. Then several runs. Bad play after bad play for Tech – including the TD pass. Duke leads 13-3.

No score in Syracuse. Two Lambert to Mitchell completions, but against a tougher team Lambert might’ve been sacked. Justin Thomas is sacked. Sony Michel scores at the same time Duke returns a punt to the one yard line. As the first quarter ends it’s Duke 19-3. Dawgs 17-0. LSU 7-0.

Syracuse sacks the QB. Sorry, but the woman announcer can only state the obvious. Golden can only dance back to the 16, but JT dashes for 25. Fumble. The train wreck continues. Completion for 17.

Nice colors, but Southern’s unis are typical Russell Athletics issue.  Unimaginative helmet logo. Stripes stop too early in the back. Nice Heineken / James Bond commercial. Justin for no gain. Southern drives. AT&T needs to come out with a new Heisman house commercial. Thomas should’ve pitched, but Snoddy was too close. If LB Jeremy Cash is so good why does he play for Duke? Good school choice. Devils lost at home to Northwestern last week – no wonder they’re fired up. Why isn’t Tech? Skov fumbles on fourth down.

Unlike Tech, Southern converts on fourth down on the 13th play of the drive, then scores on a 16 yard run. Both GT and UGA defenses playing like there’s a Super Moon Lunar Eclipse. Dawgs knock down the fake extra point pass, and lead 17-6.

Michigan leads BYU 14-0. Jackets matriculate but fumbles. “There’s some hitting going on in this game right now.” Incompletion. Sack. Punt. “Nice use of rear area.” Cutcliff is no fool – he takes a page from the UGA playbook with the short, safe passing game. But GT holds and forces a punt.

Chubb rumbles to the 15. Commercials on three networks. UCF leads SC 14-5. JT completion. GT needs to score before the half. A 4th down conversion. Clock ticks. A Marshall Morgan field goal makes it 20-6 Dawgs at the half.

Close game in upstate New York: 7-3 LSU. Hard to get up for the mediocre Orangemen after last week’s big win over Auburn. First & goal. JT incompletion. Skov stuffed. Holding. JT to Ricky Jeune for the touch. GT trails 19-10 at the half.

Tech and Duke exchange punts. Paul Johnson is irate. Chubb up the middle to make it 27-6.

Skov finally breaks free. Why are all Tech pass plays designed for the QB to throw across his body? An almost interception by Thomas. Lambert goes deep twice. Butker hits from 47. 19-13 in Durham. 34-6 in Athens.

Terrible kick coverage. Duke goes 100 yards. Marshall finally gets a chance. Tech is being outplayed and Johnson outcoached. Does this team lack the magic of last year? 26-13 Duke.

Every time Marcus Allen carries the ball he comes up lame. As usual, the reverse is a complete disaster. Loss of ten. On 3rd & 18 JT passes for 19 – first down. Fullback would’ve been stopped for no gain so JT keeps it. He would’ve been stopped for a 3 yard loss, so he pitches. Tailback stopped for a 5 yard loss. Then JT throws into coverage for an interception. The third quarter ends.

Chubb breaks free for a long TD run. He’s over 100 yards to tie Herschel’s consecutive games record. Announcer declares Chubb will definetly be a Heisman finalist. Uh, there’s a lot of season left: Bama, Mizzou, Florida, and Auburn. 41-6 Dawgs.

In Columbia SC comes back to take the lead. Bryce Ramsey comes in an throws a completion. Then Michel breaks a tackle and goes the distance. “Chubb is one and Michel 1A.” Mr. Announcer does that mean Michel will also be a Heisman finalist? Dawgs lead 48-6.

GT passing game is a mess. No blocking. Running game not much better. Why don’t they block Cash? Zero pass blocking. This is worse than last week. Fournette goes the distance. LSU up 24-10.

A Southern sophomore lowers his head and suffers a severe injury and the UGA medical staff quickly comes to his aid. Skov is hurting. His shoulder pads are tiny. The Jackets move the ball. A quick deep pass works when the dropback doesn’t. False start makes it 2nd & ten. Incomplete. Bad play call? Doesn’t matter: JT scrambles into the end zone to make it 26-20 with 8:02 left.

Ramsey to Keith Marshall for a first down, then Keith rushes for another. Four more Ramsey completions.

In Durham a second GT interception gives Tech the ball on the Duke 35. But after a seven yard Skov dive on first down Tech fails three times to make a first down with 4:54 left. Duke was in the neutral zone on 4th down but the line judge’s view was blocked by the GT wideout. The GT D holds and Duke is called for an obvious targeting penalty. With three minutes remaining JT drops back, which means another incompletion an a second and long. That call may have cost the game. Then the ensuing fumble with two minutes left definitely costs Tech the game.

Fournette is still at it in Syracuse. Tigers only lead 24-17. Bauta in at QB for Georgia. First time I’ve seen Douglass in at running back. They run clock. On 4th & one Duke breaks off a TD run, then converts the 2 point conversion to put the game out of reach. 34-20 Duke.

Four JT dropbacks, Four JT incompletions. Game over in Durham. And Athens.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yogi, Romo, and Jaokim

I enjoyed watching all the Yogi tributes, and sought them out to watch. When someone like him dies I’d like to think youngsters not previously aware of Berra would finally learn what a great player he was, and all he achieved. One time Yogi bought a harmonica and was practicing in the back of the team bus after a loss. The Yankees were in a losing streak. The manager wasn’t happy. He got on the bus and hollered “whoever’s playing the harmonica better shut up!” Yogi didn’t hear and asked what was said. Mickey called “Play louder!”
My favorite quote: When asked about a switch-hitter Yogi replied “He hits from both sides. He’s amphibious.” Don’t know if I told you that I bought an autographed Berra book “Five Rings.”
Around 5:20 Monday afternoon my hard-working coworker Jonathan packed up and left. The FSU GM was packing up to leave as well. I looked around and I was the last one on the second floor. I had to leave at 5:35 to make it to the post office before six. Barely made it. Then I headed south on Spaulding to Holcomb Bridge. I called to check in with Ceil, and she asked if Matthew had texted what time he needed to be picked up in Cumming. He hadn’t.
I was in a place where all northbound traffic was backed up. I didn’t have to be in a hurry, so I took Barnwell to Jones Bridge to McGinnis Ferry to McFarland. Ga 400 was still backed up so I took Highway 9 to a shortcut I knew. Stopped by Taco Bell for M and didn’t make it home until 8 pm. Ceil had cooked black beans and rice. She wanted to watch The Voice so I messed around on my laptop.
Tuesday I worked until six and drove straight home. Was able to get caught up on some work. C had to take Barney to the vet because his eye is still puffy after his surgery last week. Hopefully he won’t lose the eye. He’s always bumping into things with his cone. He seems to be feeling a little better. Ceil grilled chicken to add to rice and tomatoes. Also the black beans from Monday night. Ceil ran to the mall. I worked on the computer and watched the Braves and The Middle.
Came in Wednesday and it was crazy all morning. Calmed down and a vendor took me to Ruby Tuesday for the salad bar.
A lot of chicken and pasta lately. Last week it was spaghetti noodles in olive oil and tomatoes. Thursday was ravioli and chicken in a cheese sauce. Ceil baked some ribs on Wednesday since M likes them so much. I only tasted one, since I’m not crazy about them. But it looks like I’ll be eating the leftovers this weekend. Ceil had a rough week. Took M to the doctor. She watched Project Runway. After several weeks you get to know the characters. I worked on the computer and later watched one of the first Seinfeld episodes.
Thursday night I was up with an upset stomach, and I’m not 100% today. But I’m here. Good thing. Two team members are off today. A third just called in sick. That leaves yours truly. The absentees are missing some great breakfast items. I hate it when I have to help eat their share.
M goes to Blue Ridge tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch Tech and Georgia tomorrow. Both play at noon. Clemson is off this week. Next week they host Notre Dame. Ceil’s 84 year old mother has been walking and exercising so she’ll be ready to attend.  
The wild card one game play in: Everything riding on one game instead of a series. Disliked by most baseball traditionalists, including me. But traditionally baseball didn’t have all these rounds of playoffs.
With his beard and long hair pulled back in a bun, Matthew is starting to look like Joakim Noah. I was surprised that M knew who he was, but he did hang out with the Hawks fans at PCC.
Just found out I get to go to the GT@Clemson game on Oct 10. Might go tailgate for the Notre Dame game hoping a ticket comes available. But I’d rather be home for GA/AL. That black GT football chaplain is speaking at SPdL this Sunday. There are videos of him making pregame speeches. Gets them all fired up. Football is such a game of emotion, especially on defense. Helps you give everything you’ve got. You can always tell which teams come to play and which ones don’t. Unlike baseball or golf where if you swing too hard you can’t perform as well.
Sunday the Eagles RB went out of bounds on the Dallas sideline and stopped in front of the punter – who pushed the opposing RB. The ref flagged the punter for unnecessary roughness. Funny. Turned out they were rivals in college: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

The Sporting News thinks the Cowboys should trade for RGIII. I don’t. The current backup looks good. Will be interesting to see if the Falcons can catch Dallas without their QB and WR and go to 3-0. On the play when Romo was injured the Eagles' Fletcher Cox recovered the fumble. His brand new facemask (above) looks like the one Chuck Bednarik used to wear.
Trick play (below): I’ve seen that play before in pee wee league games. In pee wee its shame on the coaches. If I was a pee wee coach and someone pulled off that play on me, I would call the same play on the team that tried it on mine – to get the coaches back. In high school its shame on the opposing players. There was no whistle stopping the clock or calling the play dead. Similar to the Richard Appleby play Vince Dooley pulled off back in the 70’s.

Sometimes they have boat shoes up at the outlets. Sperry’s are so popular that you’d think they’d have them “out of season.” Sometimes sporting goods stores like Dick’s or Academy will have them. Columbia makes some cool looking waterproof shoes, but they don’t have as much support as the Sperry’s. The Crocs store at Lenox also has a bunch of styles, in addition to the traditional Crocs. I sold a pair of trail running shoes for over twelve times what I paid for them.
Finished The Prince of Tides. I liked it a lot. Started a Steve Berry book: The Lincoln Myth. Berry lives in Camden SC and does a great job weaving special ops, high government, and ancient religion. The Lincoln Myth involves past and present day Mormons – including a potential Presidential candidate.
EBay: just mailed off some English placemats, a Matt Ryan jersey, and some Merrell camp shoes. Then I sold a Polo pullover, Converse basketball shoes, and my third and last Matt Ryan jersey.
Last weekend both Jonathan and FSU took their families to Bocca di Bacco, a family style Italian restaurant across from PF Chang on Mansell.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Shell Game

Rough Wednesday. Ceil broke the news to Anna that we couldn’t afford to pay for her to be in a sorority. I could make excuses. Life is about choices. What could I do to afford the dues? Should I blame myself? Is this fair to Anna? I sure feel bad about this.
As parents we made it tough on Anna by not counting the cost beforehand. At orientation we both missed the meeting on Greek life. Now Anna has the tough task of breaking the news to everyone, including her roommate. On the phone she was upbeat, stressing the positives. But I knew that inside she was hurting, which made it worse for me.
God is at work teaching me these days. I am not the best student. Learning comes slowly. For years I have drawn inward, keeping my own counsel while the rest of the world draws off other people to live, learn, and grow. I pout and remain inactive, which only hurts me physically, mentally, and spiritually. At least I’m getting plenty of sleep.
It’s one thing to hide behind a computer screen and spout platitudes about how life should be lived. But it’s quite different to get off the bench and get in the game. Actually having relationships and living life with real people is much harder. People are selfish and have their reasons why they do things. They don’t always do what you want. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback after the fact, providing simple solutions without knowing all the particulars. It’s much rougher to make the hard decisions in the heat of the battle.
Changes at work and at home have helped wake me up to what’s going on around me. Sitting in the back of the office without much supervision allowed me to get a lot of work done – and let me retreat even more into my own little world. Now I’m on the front lines, in constant contact with my hard-working, communicative superiors. Work is a challenge, which is needed and good.
In Sunday School at Johnson Ferry I am surrounded by husbands in a similar stage of life. For over fifteen years we’ve been away from such an environment. There are many things I dislike, but no church is perfect. It’s what we need as a couple.
I enjoy being a dreamer and creating scenarios in my mind. Some I post here. Research projects, I often call them. It’s easy to see when another person is out of touch with the world around them by the unwise things they say. It’s easy to spot and not pretty. Hopefully people don’t stumble across my posts and say the same about me. It’s quite possible. As hard as it is to deal with people, but is something I must do to own up to my responsibilities as a husband, father, and employee.  
People around me quietly endure hardship without complaint. Every day they put one foot in front of the other. For so long I’ve made excuses to myself. For so long I have remained stagnant. Getting going again ain’t easy. But if I don’t the next thirty years will be all the more miserable.
I have so much to be thankful for. There are so many people less fortunate than me, who are working harder and making less progress. Most make better use of the gifts God has blessed them with. Makes me ashamed - I want to put up even more walls. God help me tear down these walls and live. Really live. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 3 Total QB Rating

Week 3 ESPN Total QB Ratings. Still early enough in the season for a great game to skyrocket you to the top, or a bad game against a superior opponent to vastly lower your ranking. One constant: Christian Hackenberg remains near the bottom.
1. 92.3 Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
2. 90.7 Brandon Harris, LSU
3. 90.6 Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
4. 90.3 Jared Goff, Cal
5. 89.6 Greyson Lambert, Georgia
7. 87.0 Connor Cook, Michigan State
9. 86.4 Trevone Boykin, Texas Christian (above)
11. 85.7 Jarrod Heard, Texas
18. 80.4 Matt Johns, Virginia
20. 79.8 Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
21. 78.5 Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
24. 77.9 Brandon Allen, Arkansas
25. 77.4 Deshaun Watson, Clemson
28. 76.4 Jake Coker, Alabama
32. 75.5 Eric Dungey, Syracuse
35. 74.1 Jacoby Brissett, NC State
41. 69.2 Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
45. 66.4 Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
47. 63.2 Seth Russell, Baylor
48. 63.0 Brad Kaaya, Miami
53. 61.1 Nathan Perryman, Pitt
54. 61.1 Marquise Williams, North Carolina
57. 59.1 Thomas Sirk, Duke
62. 55.6 John Wofford, Wake Forest
63. 55.2 Kyle Bolin, Louisville
64. 54.3 Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
66. 53.9 Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
69. 53.6 Vernon Adams, Jr, Oregon
73. 52.7 Will Grier, Florida
75. 52.3 Brenden Motley, Virginia Tech
79. 51.4 Patrick Towles, UK
83. 46.7 Everett Golson, Florida State
87. 45.6 Joe Hubener, Kennesaw State
90. 44.7 Maty Mauk, Missouri
93. 43.7 Kendall Hinton, Wake Forest
96. 42.6 Nick Arbuckle, Georgia State
97. 42.6 Darius Wade, Boston College
98. 42.3 Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
108. 37.8 Lamar Jackson, Louisville
111. 36.7 Johnny McCrary, Vanderbilt
125. 20.7 Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
126. 10.0 Colin Reardon, Kent
Former Tech QB Vad Lee threw 36 times and had five intercepted last week against 1-2 Albany. At James Madison he’s thrown 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Old Friend John

In seventh grade at Springdale Elementary School one of my good friends was Johnny Gibson. Fastest white boy in the school (I could be wrong, but I don’t recall any black classmates at Springdale).  Son of a preacherman. His baldheaded daddy was the pastor around the corner at the Wesleyan Drive Baptist Church.

In those days, as twelve year old boys friends would consist of school classmates during the day, Sunday School classmates, kids from the neighborhood, siblings, and Little League teammates. Some were the same. Not many play dates back in the day. So I didn’t hang out with Johnny all that much. I can’t remember if he attended Rusty Spaulding’s legendary spend the night birthday party. But at recess we’d compete on the basketball court and football field. Johnny was a great athlete. Bill Yancey had us all trying to make half court shots. He was the king of those long-rangers, even in the ankle high zip up black boots he favored. I made my share.

Like me, Johnny favored sneakers. I remember him attired in short sleeve button front dress style shirts. His hair was cropped short on the sides and back but straight on top with a little wave on the end. Our beloved teacher Mrs. Grenga would head us down to the music room several days a week. We’d sing show tunes as she played the piano. To this day I owe my knowledge of some of the great old songs to her. But I don’t remember Johnny from all the singing. I remember Johnny from the football field.

My memory has faded on some of the details of our daily gridiron battles at recess. I think we played tackle. I was just average, but I held my own. I don’t remember catching many passes or scoring many touchdowns, because I probably didn’t. But Johnny was a star. No one could catch him. A blur.

But even in 7th grade my after-school driveway kicking sessions were beginning to pay off. At recess I handled the kickoffs. My classmates loved my onsides kicks, where like my NFL heroes I would lay the ball flat on the ground and scrib the kick downfield. The ball would sail low in the air, wobbling all the way. Hard to catch.

So one fall day as recess was winding down my team scored to take the lead. As we lined up for the ensuing kickoff the bell rang signally the end of recess. As boys do, we quickly decided to run one more play. The kickoff.

The game was on the line. Tackle the ballcarrier and we win. If they score the game would be tied. I drilled a decent wobbler – but Johnny scooped it up. He dashed this way and that, avoiding my teammates. He broke into the clear and was running down the field at full speed. Soon there was only one boy standing between Johnny and the goal line. Me.  
Johnny’s straight line path was taking him past me, just a step away to my right. I had to stop him to win the game. A slow reactor, at the last second I was able to take one step over to block his path. He smashed right into me – a literal face-to-face, nose-to-nose collision (but not targeting). I fell straight back onto the ground. But I had hit Johnny so hard that he spun around several times as he fell to the ground, like a cartoon. Amazing.

Both our noses were bloody. My formerly wimpy-looking straight nose now permanently had a character-building bump. For that I am forever grateful to Johnny Gibson. As boys so often do, we both shook off our injuries, brushed off our Tuff-Skins, and limped inside for class. There would be more football tomorrow.

That was the last year Johnny and I were classmates. Eighth grade meant Junior High. For both of us it meant an entirely new set of classmates. I was off to Northside/Appling and then Central/Miller. Johnny enrolled at First Presbyterian. I’m not sure I ever saw Johnny again after our days together at Springdale. We never reconnected on Facebook. But to this day my dad would occasionally run into his dad at the coffee shop, so from time to time I’d get an update on my old friend.

Johnny was now Dr. John Gibson Jr. A Baptist pastor and beloved professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I never thought to ask any of my friends who attended the seminary (like Bruce Ambrose) if they knew John.

Life is so busy. There’s more to do that there is time to do it. With the internet and social media these days there is more to read than possibly be read. Much easier to keep up with people from your past, if you so choose. I don’t take enough time to spend with my immediate family to take time to rekindle relationships with faraway acquaintances I might barely remember or have little in common with.

So many supposed news articles are posted on places like Facebook that one doesn’t have to go looking for news – it comes to you. Even when I quickly scan down my feed I’m barely cognizant of the headlines to news stories. There’s no enough time to read about the few things I’m actually interested in to bother with all the other clutter. Like DeflateGate. So many articles I never read, but the headlines were more than enough information for me to keep up.

Recently there was a story in the news about a website named Ashley Madison being hacked, with the miscreants threatening to expose its users – people registering on line to conduct extramarital affairs. A juicy story about something I didn’t know even existed. Something else I didn’t take time to read the articles about. There was tiny buzz in the Christian community about possible leaders being exposed. Like everything else a headline would cross my feed, and that was it. Last week I remembered one headline crossing my feed about a pastor who’d been exposed by the hack who had committed suicide. I scrolled on past without clicking.

On a recent calls my dad had mentioned that John Gibson Sr. had heart surgery. On a later conversation my said reported that Dr. Gibson had passed away. Wait, not the 89 year old father, but my former classmate. Later my parents reported it had been a suicide. Still later my parents reported more details. It was only then that I started to make the connection. John was on the Ashley Madison list, and he couldn’t handle being exposed. So he killed himself.

His wife wanted to help others in the same situation, so she told her story to the press. The Gibson’s had been fighting the battle together for the past twenty years. The press, eager for fresh copy on an aging story, ran with it. I was amazed at how many outlets published stories on John. The Washington Post. CNN. People Magazine. The Huffington Post. The Blaze. Washington Times. New York Daily News. The Business Insider. Christian Today. Buzzfeed. The Baptist Press. Cosmopolitan. Christian Post. The London Daily Mail. MSN. Sac Fly. Eulogized by a Pulitzer Prize winner. I was amazed but probably shouldn’t have been. We’re all so close to being the next big story. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Caught on the Kiss Cam

Thursday the Braves tickets from work were available but I passed. Early on AJC beat writer Dave O’Brien tweeted that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were seated in the box next to the dugout. I missed not only another loss but also the kiss cam – featuring the former president. The next day I asked my young coworker who had taken the tickets if she had seen President Carter on the kiss cam. "You mean that cute old couple?" was her reply.

Ceil baked a ground beef and noodle dish similar to lasagna. Also salad. Very good. I worked until 7 pm and drove straight home to watch the Clemson game.

Can’t blame Dabo for putting a positive spin on the victory, or for celebrating with his team. A win is a win. But in his heart he has to know his team is far from dominant. Win one game at a time is all he can do.  I don’t think Vince Lombardi could train today’s athlete to play selflessly. Sure the Clemson player motioned for the interceptor to down the ball, but just by catching the batted ball and running five or ten yards gave Louisville an extra chance to force a fumble that might be returned for the game-winning touchdown. Perhaps a one in a million chance, but that’s exactly what happened to UGA against Auburn in 2013. Kids these days are always out for glory and rarely learn from history – because they’re so caught up in their own little world that they rarely notice and learn from what’s happening in the larger world around them.

Was I too hard on Clemson? How many teams have it all together after three games? Opponents can be tough, even 0-2 opponents playing at home. Tech has played two cupcakes and faces a tough Notre Dame team at their place. I’d better watch what I say lest I jinx them.

Friday morning M had a test. Ceil took Barney to the vet to have three lesions removed, one near his eye. They shaved around his eye area and will have to wear the cone of shame for a while. I worked until six. M was spending the night with his band, so Ceil and I finally celebrated our anniversary at Moxie Burger. Big Friday night crowd. Next year a third East Cobb Moxie opens. Hope they don’t over-saturate the market. Afterwards we cruised through Merchants Walk to check out the movies. The shopping center has really been upgraded lately, and it almost rivals The Avenue. War Room didn’t start for over an hour, so we returned home. Ceil played on the computer.

Watched FSU / Boston College. Both teams may have strong defenses. Both offenses were stymied, particularly BC’s. Like UNC and Vandy and so many other schools with supposedly great “athletic” quarterbacks, BC’s QB was flashy but ineffective. He would scramble into the clear. The crowd would rise – then an even more athletic FSU defender would stop him for no gain. In the second half he sprained an ankle and limped off. The even more athletic backup only knew a few plays and proved to be worse. He was pulled after only a few plays. BC inserted Doug Flutie’s nephew, who actually was able to run the offense, complete passes, scramble for first downs, and move the team.    

It took a BC fumble and FSU return to effectively put the game out of reach with a two touchdown lead. After the game Jimbo praised the defense and special teams but admitted he needed to do a better job coaching up the offense. Will the Seminoles improve before they play Tech? I hope not.

This weekend was physical inventory at work. Saturday there were at least twelve of us at work keying in and checking tags. We were able to get a little bit of other work done as well. Chickfila biscuits for breakfast and Jimmy Johns sandwiches for lunch. Helped me get to know some of my new younger co-workers. Worked 7 am – 2:30 pm. Some stayed later.

Made it home for the GT game. Several factors contributed to the loss. Being a favorite in South Bend. The Irish were fired up after almost losing to Virginia. Those huge linemen. A team loaded up with 5 star recruits usually beats a team of 3 stars. ND defended the option well. Even though Justin Thomas is the best passer Paul Johnson has ever had, GT still passed too much. Number 8 is supposed to beat number 17. Had GT made fewer mistakes they could’ve won.

After missing two field goals Johnson didn’t try a third, instead going for it on 4th and 17. Make those field goals and Tech wins. Drew Kelly said I was blaming the kicker. Who else was to blame for the misses? Perhaps Butker was playing hurt. Butker’s family may be friends of Drew’s.

UGA looked good. Perhaps they can give Bama a game. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly also looked good. But the Rebels are playing with fire. Kelly has left a trail of uncontrollable temper and bad decisions back home in Buffalo, at Clemson, and at his community college. I can’t blame Clemson for kicking him off the team.

More inventory on Sunday morning. There were just four of us in the office: Steve, Alex, Sue, and me. With fewer people I couldn’t work on other stuff, but we were able to chat. Worked 7 – 11:30. On the way home I picked up a Columbia shirt and sweater. Didn’t do much the rest of the day: watched a little Falcons and Braves and napped. Picked up M at church.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Damn Good Dawg

When our first dog Speedle got old he uncharacteristically ran away one day. He was gone for almost the entire day. It had rained and he finally came home, wet but with a smile on his face. He knew the end was near – the vet had said as much. It was like Speedle had gone out on one last adventure. Ceil gave him a bath, and the next day it was my job to take him to the vet to be put to sleep. Something I’ll never forget. I don’t cry that much but I did that day. Just typing this brings tears to my eyes.  
Our dog Barney probably sleeps when we’re away. When Ceil is gone he mopes. He likes to perch on the end of the downstairs bed, where he can look out the window for dogs and squirrels to bark at and to know when Ceil comes home. Other times he lays on the cool floor in the family room, head pointed toward the foyer so he can look out the windows for dogs/squirrels/Ceil. When he spies a dog being walked Barney will run to the window and bark.  
If he knows Ceil is not with me sometimes Barney won’t even leave the bed to greet me. Usually when I come in the door from work he will walk across the room to greet me, but if Ceil is cooking in the kitchen he’s usually there checking the floor for scraps. Usually we’re pretty good about not feeding him from the table, though sometimes Ceil and Anna give in. Barn-o has gotten in the habit of taking long drinks from his water bowl, Lapping and lapping for what seems like an eternity, drinking up all the water in the bowl at one time.
When he eats Barney will take a bite and walk around the room, crunching all the way. Sometimes a kibble or bit will drop out of his mouth, making his territory. Later I’ll point out a piece of food to him. He’ll sniff around and sometimes lap it up, but just as often he’ll walk away.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve never seen a dog watch TV as much as Barney. He knows certain commercials just by the introductory music. He’s always on the lookout for dogs to protect us from. He also doesn’t like any kind of violence. He’ll growl and leap at the TV if we don’t restrain him. Good thing our new TV sits slightly further back. I’ve watched the movie “You’ve Got Mail” so much he knows to look for Joe Fox’s dog Brinkley.
Barney loves it when I go into the foyer pantry and emerge with my beloved hot air popcorn popper. He perks up and follows me to the kitchen, especially when I turn it on and the corn starts to pop. He positions himself in the best places to be able to catch the pieces of popcorn in his mouth in the air. When his hair is shaggy and blocking his view he has a harder time. Then he stands close and snaps at the popcorn as it passes his face, before it hits the ground. I also leave a handful of unsalted popped corn for the counter to toss to Barney. When I hit the couch to eat my share he keeps his eyes on me, lest I drop a piece for him to gobble up.    
For control Ceil takes Barney outside using the gentle leader leash that wraps around his nose, which he detests. Once back inside with the leader removed Barney will rub his nose on the sofa, and roll around on the floor rubbing his nose with his front paws. When I’m home he only comes to me with his most forlorn look, the telltale sign he needs to go outside. He knows I don’t bother with the gentle leader, instead using a regular leash.
When I stand to walk to the door Barney obediently heels, following alongside and just behind me. I open the door and he’s out in a dash, with me in tow. Once outside he’s more calm. Usually I give him time to poke around to make sure he’s finished with his business. If we’re at the top of the driveway near the street I’ll run him down the driveway. As he makes his turn into the garage I’ll drop the leash and let him run to the back door. Then I’ll remove the leash before opening slowly opening the door. When it’s wide enough for his snout to peek in he’ll bolt in, opening the door the rest of the way with his body. He’s excited because he knows it’s time for a treat. Again he will heel as I walk to the kitchen. As I reach into the cupboard for his treats he’ll slowly approach. Usually he’ll sit without having to be asked, ready to shake hands to earn his treat. When he gets it he heads over to his bed and crunches it up there.
Barney dislikes the wood floor in our dining room. He’ll stand in the living room without crossing the threshold like Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams. He sees us walk into the kitchen but instead of following takes the long way back through the foyer, where the wood floors have area rugs. He takes the steps upstairs three at a time, bounding up the stairs past any unfortunate soul in his path. He scrambles downstairs just as fast.
Sometimes at night after a long day Barney will decide it’s time for bed – and head upstairs by himself and jump into bed while we’re still downstairs. He will lay down facing the door, waiting for Ceil or me to join him. His favorite spot on the bed is at the foot of the bed on my side, directly under the cool ceiling fan. When we first got Barney I would come to bed and try to move him out of my spot. Every time I’d tug on my collar he would growl. We quickly corrected him of his behavior.
When the bed is unmade Barney will leap onto the high bed and roll around in the pillows and sheets, growling and barking to himself in joy. If I approach to rub his belly he’ll playfully snap at my hands – always gently. While we try to sleep Barney will lay at the end of the bed, on watch should any enemies attack. His heavy panting shakes the entire bed. Not sure he sleeps while we’re in bed. He wakes us up when he scratches, which also shakes the bed.   
Sometimes at night Barney will quietly hop off the bed and sleep downstairs on the couch, mostly during the winter months. Maybe my snoring is too loud. Often he sleeps on his back with his feet in the air. When I come downstairs and he’s all snug on the couch, he often won’t move even when I turn on the light. Only after I rub his tummy and start poking around the kitchen will he quietly hop off the couch and stroll into the foyer, to bolt upstairs to take my place in bed next to Ceil. There he will grind his head into my pillow and make himself comfortable.