Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A shot of Wild Turkey

The Dolphins have the Wildcat.

The Arkansas Razorbacks had the Wild Hog.

Allen Bailey probably had Wild Boar for dinner last night.

And now Virginia Tech has the Wild Turkey.

No, not the stuff that has given all of us a bad hangover at least once, the stuff I swore off after a few shots of it caused me to go on a Leprachaun hunt as a college freshman. We are talking about the Hokies wacky new offense. It involves 290-pound tight end Greg Boone lining up at quarterback and letting him take off. It debuted last week, and resulted in seven carries for 27 yards against Maryland. Boone also caught a TD.

And unlike my experience with Wild Turkey, the Hokies are actually going to try it again. Look to see it Thursday night against the Hurricanes. Yes, the secret is out. But what it does is make UM have to at least prepare for it. And if you've spoken to any UM coach, you know there is barely enough time during the week to prep for basic offenses.

The Hurricanes don't seem worried because they feel they know what to expect. They figure Boone will run each time he enters the game. But you really never know. You can bet the Hokies are scheming of ways to make this formation keep the Hurricanes on their toes.

Boone is more than capable of throwing the football. In high school, he was rated a top 20 quarterback. He threw for more than 1,200 yards and accounted for 35 touchdowns as a senior. He arrived at Virginia Tech with every intention of playing quarterback, but was switched to tight end as the pounds added up. The possibilities are endless with a player like that under center. It means the Hurricanes will likely to prepare for three quarterbacks
Remember Virginia Tech also uses Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon.

The good news is UM defensive coordinator Bill Young has shown before he can handle Virginia Tech. Last year he led a Kansas defense that slowed the Hokies in the Orange Bowl.

Inconsistent Hokies may have found an identity

Friday, Nov 07, 2008 - 12:07 AM Updated: 10:10 AM


BLACKSBURG - Astrophysics is one of the many challenging majors offered at Virginia Tech.

In astrophysics, some extremely smart faculty members instruct some very smart stu dents in such topics as the influence of massive black holes on structure functions in the universe and observational studies of quasars.

Football is not astrophysics. Coaches sometimes want you to believe that it is, but it's not.

Success in football depends on a few simple principles: blocking and tackling, not giving up big plays, running the ball effectively and having a quarterback who is smart enough -- although he does not need to be astrophysicist smart -- not to get you beat.

For most of the season, the Virginia Tech Hokies have been looking for their identity. In the process, they switched quarterbacks, pointed out how young they are -- especially at wide receiver -- and tried to hold on in the highly competitive and less-than-stellar Atlantic Coast Conference.

Last night, they held on. They beat Maryland 23-13.

They might even have found an identity.

"Might" is the operative word because the Hokies still made some major mistakes. The defense gave up a 63-yard touchdown play that made the game closer than it should have been.

The special teams, whose excellence long has been a Tech trademark, had a punt blocked and had a turnover when a Maryland punt bounced off defensive back Kam Chancellor, who was trying to avoid making contact with the ball.

The Hokies fit in well in the ACC this season. They're an inconsistent team in an inconsistent league.

The Hokies are inconsistent in large part because they use so many young players. But this was the ninth game of the season, and those young players should have a little age on them by now.

An old hand, quarterback Sean Glennon, helped bail the Hokies out of a difficult situation last night.

After a 30-20 loss Oct. 25 at Florida State, the Hokies had two quarterbacks, Glennon and Tyrod Taylor, with sprained ankles. It wasn't clear that either would be able to play against Maryland.

Glennon, a fifth-year senior, had the less severe sprain and recovered enough to start against Maryland.

Glennon was benched after an opening-game loss to East Carolina. He went to the bench last night only when the Hokies went to their quasi-single-wing offense, with tight end Greg Boone, 6-3 280, at quarterback.

Glennon wasn't perfect, but he moved the chains. When things broke down, he threw the ball away or scrambled for a yard or two or took one for the team. Actually, Glennon took three sacks for the team.

He made no major mistakes.

"I thought he toughed it out pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

Glennon deserves more credit than that. He gave his team a chance. That's significant when the running game is working and the defense is hanging on.

The Virginia Tech running game rarely has worked so well. Darren Evans, a redshirt freshman who has aged nicely this season, ran for 253 yards, a school record.

Evans' performance was a perfect example of why football is not astrophysics.

Sometimes, a simple philosophy -- less is more -- is what is needed.

Earlier in the season, Evans shared time at running back with Kenny Lewis Jr.

With Lewis out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, running backs coach Billy Hite has little choice but to keep Evans in the game.

Evans showed why he belongs on the field for every snap possible. He had runs of 50, 45, 29, 25, 20, 17 and 15 yards. On Virginia Tech's final possession, when Maryland knew Evans was coming, he ripped off the 29-yard gain and essentially clinched the game.

"He got in there and kind of got hot," Beamer said. "We kept giving it to him.

"I'm so proud of this offense. I'm so proud of way they hung in and picked up yards. Give Bryan Stinespring and the whole offensive staff credit."

Stinespring, the offensive coordinator, has absorbed an excessive amount of criticism for the way the attack has struggled this season.

So, yes, give him credit for the 400 yards in offense last night.

But the players, Glennon and Evans in particular, deserve an equal amount of credit for all those yards.

Walker's 5 TDs tie school record

TROPICAL FARMS — Willie Walker tied a school record with five touchdowns and two teammates hit season milestones as South Fork rolled over John I. Leonard 42-21 on Friday night at Joebud Staggs/Bulldog Stadium.

Walker had three of his five scores in the first half as the Bulldogs (6-3 overall, 4-1 District 14-5A), who already clinched a playoff spot, tried to shake off the Lancers (1-8, 0-5).

Walker's outburst tied the single-game TD mark, last achieved by Tim Lewis against Martin County in 2004 and set by Cleveland Gary in 1983 against Fort Pierce Central.

John I. Leonard, which runs out of a very compact version of the single wing, moved the ball up and down the field before halftime, holding leads of 7-0 and 14-13. But the Lancers had no answer for Walker, Zack Fisher or quarterback Ronnie Nelson in the second half.

Fisher rushed for 124 yards, running his season total to 1,012. He's the school's first 1,000-yard rusher since Corey McIntyre in 1995.

"My linemen really do a good job," Fisher said. "It's a good accomplishment, but all I want to do is win."

Nelson completed 11 of 14 passes for 137 yards to move to 1,009 yards passing on the season.

The South Fork defense asserted itself in the second half, limiting John I. Leonard to 75 yards.


Walker rushed for 112 yards on 18 carries and caught four passes for 71 yards. He caught a 21-yard touchdown pass and also scored on a 15-yard run and three 1-yarders.

"We were just executing and getting off the ball," Walker said. "It was just good blocking."


"It's all about effort," South Fork coach Dennis Lavelle said. "When the defensive guys start putting in the effort the offensive guys do, we'll be a good team. There's no excuse for the first half to be that bad and the second half that good defensively. We didn't do one thing different. All I did was yell at them. If I have to be a complete jerk to get them to play hard, I will."

"Offensively, what can you say? We're just the best we've ever been in 10 years."

Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
1939 SE Federal Hwy.
Stuart, FL 34994

Bangor gets revenge on Southern Lehigh,

by Express-Times staff
Saturday November 08, 2008, 12:22 AM

Bangor gave Southern Lehigh a different look and the outcome was much different as the Slaters avenged their first loss of the season by ousting the Spartans from the District 11 AAA football semifinals with a 28-14 win.

Sophomore quarterback Scott Lavalva rushed for 211 yards on 38 carries and accounted for three touchdowns for Bangor.

"Let me just say one thing first; that other (Oct. 3) game was a fluke," said linebacker Evan Brown, who had a large hand in the Slater win. "We put in (a variation of) the single-wing and once we stopped them on their first drive, we just knew. We knew Scotty would deliver, just like he always does."

‘Wildcat’ formation the new craze

The “Wildcat” is spreading like, yup, wildfire.

The offensive formation that lines up a running back in the shotgun with the quarterback split wide made its debut in Week 1. The Raiders, in their typically trendsetting ways, had rookie Darren McFadden taking the snap before deciding whether to run, hand off or pass the football.

While sort of new to the NFL (old-timers will recall the single wing; newbies would note that’s Vince Young’s game), it was a been-there, done-that moment for McFadden. He had successfully directed the Wild Hog formation, a predecessor to the “Wildcat,” at the University of Arkansas the previous year.

But it wasn’t until two weeks later the ’Cat showed it could run with the big dogs.

In a now oft-told tale, the 0-2 Dolphins were flying back to Miami after getting trounced by Arizona when coach Tony Sparano huddled for a chat with quarterbacks coach David Lee. Sparano was getting antsy after his offense had generated 24 points in the first two games so he brainstormed with Lee, who had called the offense at Arkansas last year.

The Dolphins’ next game was against the Patriots and, you might recall, they left New England with a 38-13 victory that appears to have salvaged their season. The hoopla afterward wasn’t so much about the stunning win, but the way in which Sparano outfoxed Obi-Wan Bill Kenobi Belichick.

The Dolphins direct snapped to running back Ronnie Brown on six occasions with quarterback Chad Pennington flanked outside. Those plays accounted for 119 yards and three touchdowns with Brown running for two scores and passing for another.

“We watched the game (tape) and they did a nice job with it,” coach Jim Haslett said when his Rams passed through town last month. “I think it just caught New England by surprise more than anything.”

The next day Belichick was asked if he thought the Patriots would see more of the formation that had immediately been dubbed the “Wildcat.” (Apparently Barracuda was taken.)

“I don’t know,” he answered. “I think we better be ready to defend it.”

The Patriots have only had to defend against it once since then. In their first game after Miami, the 49ers direct snapped to running back Frank Gore on a play that netted 7 yards and a first down. That San Francisco didn’t go that route again perhaps explains why Mike Nolan no longer coaches the team.

Meanwhile, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Houston are among those who have also dabbled with the “Wildcat.” That’s big news in a league that typically dismisses gimmicks and gadgets as collegiate chicanery.

The Patriots joined the craze last Sunday against the Colts, twice going shotgun with running back Kevin Faulk calling signals and quarterback Matt Cassel shifting to receiver. The results were mixed as Faulk rushed for 5 yards and saw a screen pass to Wes Welker lose 2 yards.

“Just a couple plays we had in there to try to throw them off balance,” said Faulk, who scored on a 2-yard run against the 49ers off a direct snap although Cassel was next to him in the backfield.

Belichick explained teams are always looking for ways to give the same plays a different look, particularly in the run game as the season moves along.

“After a few games, everybody has pretty much seen your running game and it’s hard to put in a lot of new running plays because there is so many moving parts with the linemen and the tight ends and the backs — you just don’t have a lot of time to work on them,” he said. “I am not saying you can’t do it but it’s hard to do a lot of it. So you find a way to change up those things.

“I think you see a lot of teams doing that in some form or fashion whether it is a motion or unbalanced line, direct snap to the running back, shifting — those kinds of things to give the defense a little something else to think about before the ball is snapped.”

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was predictably mum on whether the Patriots would go that route again. What he does expect is for the opposition to be ready for it to happen.

And that, in turn, benefits the Patriots.

“You run it and you make the other team worry about it during the course of the week and that’s part of coaching and preparation,” McDaniels said. “It’s a pain in the butt sometimes when people do things a very few number of times, but you still have to prepare and spend practice reps on them and that’s time that you’re not spending on something they may do a lot more of. There are two sides to the coin and if you can get it to work for you it’s great and if not at least the other team has to defend it.”

The Dolphins have regularly gone “Wildcat” on Sundays. They used it 10 times against the Chargers, Brown rushing for the winning touchdown, and eight times against the Texans, including one play in which Brown handed off to running back Ricky Williams, who handed off to Pennington, who threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to a third running back, Patrick Cobbs.

The Dolphins have run 41 plays out of the “Wildcat” with a return of 285 yards and six touchdowns. They’re averaging 7 yards a play out of the formation compared to 5.7 in their traditional offense.

The “Wildcat” has caught on, but defenses are apparently starting to catch up.

The Dolphins were handcuffed against both the Broncos and the Ravens, who presented their own quirky formation in the form of a four-lineman, four-linebacker setup designed to fill any running lane Brown might seek out. Miami finished with combined negative yardage out of the “Wildcat” in those two games.

Wildfires, after all, only burn so long before they’re snuffed out.

The Dolphins, Colts, Packers, Vikings, Saints and Broncos all entered Week 10 with 4-4 records. History tells us at least one and perhaps even all six teams will make the playoffs.

The Broncos obviously took the first step in that direction by rallying to defeat the Browns on Thursday.

Twenty teams have reached the playoffs since 2000 after hitting the season’s midpoint at .500. There’s been at lest one every year and six pulled it off in 2002. Last year, the Chargers, Seahawks and Buccaneers went a combined 18-6 in the second half to garner postseason invites.

The Patriots made the list twice. They finished 11-5 in 2001 and went on to win their first Super Bowl. Four years later, they went 10-6 before getting eliminated by the Broncos.

In a related matter, the Patriots have the best record in football this decade in regular-season games played from November on. They’re 53-17 for a winning percentage of .757. The rest of the top five: Philadelphia, 49-22 (.690); Pittsburgh, 48-23-1 (.674); Green Bay, 48-24 (.667); and Indianapolis, 46-27 (.630).

Joey Porter was OK last season, his first with the Dolphins, accumulating 65 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 2 interceptions for a 1-15 team. But he wasn’t the marauding linebacker who made a name for himself during the eight previous seasons in Pittsburgh.

Overpaid and underperforming were the words most used to describe Porter. No more.

Porter leads the NFL with 11.5 sacks through eight games, including a four-pack against the Patriots. He’s already eclipsed the career-high 10.5 he had in 2000 and ’05 and is on pace to break Michael Strahan’s league record of 22.5 set in 2001 (think Brett Favre falling down).

And to think all it took was shifting Porter from the strong side back to the weak side, where he had spent most of his career, as the Dolphins went to a 3-4 defense.

“One of the things I think with Joey, and we went back to his Pittsburgh days, is just he’s just much more natural I think first of all, being to the open-end side, kind of away from the tight end a little bit,” said Sparano, the Dolphins’ first-year coach. “It’s really more natural for him. It gives him a little bit more room in his pass rush. I think really what sets him aside and makes a difference for him in this defense is him in space.”

Only six players have had 20 sacks in a season, although it should be noted the NFL didn’t recognize sacks as an official statistic until 1982. In addition to Porter, Marcus Ware of the Cowboys, John Abraham of the Falcons and James Harrison of the Steelers each have 10 this year, putting them in position to join the exclusive club.

It’s midseason projection time: Randy Moss (1,072 yards) and Wes Welker (1,006) are on pace to become the first duo in Patriots history to record consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. …. Welker, with 56 catches, is halfway to matching his franchise record of 112 set last season. … Linebacker Jerod Mayo is attempting to become the first rookie to lead the Patriots in tackles since the 16-game season was unveiled in 1978. He’s got 65 at the moment. … Stephen Gostkowski, with 19 field goals, is well on his way to obliterating Tony Franklin’s team record of 32, set in 1986. … Cincinnati’s T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Denver’s Brandon Marshall and Welker are on pace to finish with more than 100 catches for the second straight season, something only seven other NFL players have done. … Philip Rivers is on track to become the first Charger since Dan Fouts in 1981 to throw for 4,000 yards. … Titans RB Len Dale White is projected to finish with 20 rushing TDs, which would eclipse the franchise record 19 by Earl Campbell in 1979. … The Cardinals lead the NFL with 234 points and are on pace to eclipse the team record of 468 set in 1984. … The Giants are on track to win 14 games and score 452 points. That would tie the club record for wins set in 1986 and top the mark for points established in ’63.

The Patriots entered the season with a schedule deemed the easiest in the NFL, their opponents having gone 99-157 for a winning percentage of .387 the previous year.

Things can change once the games get under way, the Falcons and Browns being excellent examples. The Falcons are 5-3 after going 4-12 last season. The Browns have gone from 10-6 to 3-6.

The Patriots’ first eight opponents are currently a collective 26-39 (.400), so that’s right around the way things were supposed to go. But their next eight games are against teams that currently stand at 34-30 (.531), so things are going to get much tougher.

Throw out the Seahawks and Raiders, who are both 2-6, and you have six teams that are a sturdy 30-18 (.625).

According to USA Today, the New York Giants (.612), Dallas Cowboys (.603) and the Detroit Lions (.591) have the toughest remaining schedules over the second half. That doesn’t bode well for the Lions, who have been competitive as of late — losing their last four games by 2, 7, 8 and 4 points — but remain winless at 0-8.

The Bills took quarterback Trent Edwards out of Stanford in the third round with the 92nd pick. The Patriots had Edwards on their radar and were, according to Belichick, “a little surprised that he lasted as long as he did.” The Patriots didn’t have second- or third-round picks that year and ended up taking Miami defensive lineman Kareem Brown in the fourth round (127th overall). Suffice to say that’s a pick that didn’t pan out. Had Edwards lasted, Belichick said, “I’d like to think we wouldn’t have passed him up.” … The Redskins’ 23-6 loss to the Steelers on Monday was the first time they were involved in a double-digit decision this season. And six of their first eight games were decided by seven points or less. Then you have the Saints, who are 4-4 with three of the losses by a combined 10 points, and the Jaguars, who 3-5 with every game decided by seven points or less. … The Patriots placed rookie linebacker Sean Crable on season-ending injured reserve with a shin injury. But Crable looked pretty healthy striding around the locker room last week. This appears to be nothing more than a way to free up a roster spot by pushing aside a player who has long-term value to the team but clearly wasn’t going to help this season.

Deltha O’Neal voted with his heart and not his wallet.

O’Neal cast his presidential ballot for Barack Obama despite the Democrat’s stated intention to increase the tax burden on those in the upper-income brackets. O’Neal is pulling down $1 million from the Patriots to play cornerback this season, which means he’s likely to be out money now that Obama is in.

“To me, he just seemed like the right fit for that job,” O’Neal said.

As for what difference Obama can make, O’Neal believes some things have already changed.

“I always hear (black) kids say I want to be president and I’m like, ‘Yeah right,’ ” O’Neal said. “But the sky is the limit and I can tell my kids now it’s a possibility. Don’t ever let anyone put limits on you.”

Ellis Hobbs, another Barack backer, provided secondary support a few lockers over.

“There is pretty much nothing that is impossible in America (now),” Hobbs said. “Where there used to be comedians talking about all the time (how) you’d never see a black president, this or that or whatever it is. It’s just setting up for new frontiers where you’re seeing women more in office and all these things. I’d just say it all represents change and it’s great.”

Some quick hits and useful numbers with regard to this week’s games: The Saints have won four straight against the Falcons, by 20, 18, 6 and 20 points. The Falcons are 3-0 at home while the Saints are 0-3 on the road. … In the last three games — all wins — Baltimore QB Joe Flacco is 46 of 76 (60.5 percent) for 620 yards and 4 TDs with no interceptions. … Seattle, which travels to Miami, has lost at Buffalo, at New York and at Tampa by a combined score of 98-26. … The Packers have won four straight against the Vikings, by 4, 6, 2 and 34 points. Ten of the last 12 games in the series have been decided by seven points or less. … The Jets’ Thomas Jones has five TDs in the last four games. Fellow RB Leon Washington has three TDs in the last three games. … The Steelers, playing the Colts for the first time since upsetting them in the playoffs three years ago, are 5-0 vs. the AFC this season. … The Chiefs and Chargers have split their last 10 meetings. … The Giants have won 5 of the last 7 vs. the Eagles. … The Cardinals are 3-0 at home, where they have won 7 of 8 dating to last season. The loss was to the 49ers in OT.

Random thoughts
Some random thoughts in no particular order: It seems funny not reading about Mr. Bundchen anymore. … Wonder if Josh McDaniels regrets not interviewing with the Falcons or the Ravens. … Losing to the Colts is going to come back to haunt the Pats. … Who would have guessed you can sell cold alcoholic beverages or cold carbonated beverages — but not both — at convenience stories on Saturdays in Indiana. … Can’t they just save everyone the trouble and have the Raiders call it a season.

Material used in this report was collected from personal interviews, wire services, Web sites, and league and team sources. Rich Garven can be reached by e-mail at rich.garven@verizon.net or rgarven@telegram.com.

Blackhawks offer run-first challenge

By Jim Henry


Greenfield’s defense faces a different challenge in Monday night’s Class 1 sectional football game at Adrian.

“We’ll definitely play the run a little more than we have in the past,” Wildcats head coach Jamie LaSalle said. “We went about three weeks in a row against spread teams.

“Adrian runs the football most of the time and will play-action pass some. They are a pretty good all-around football team. Some of the teams we’ve been playing lately, they’ll have some superstars. This team (Adrian) has more really good football players all the way across the board. They are pretty solid at every position.

“They have 45 kids, so they are probably a little deeper than most Class 1 teams we’ve been playing. It seems like they switch out more guys on defense and offense than the others.”

Greenfield (10-1), which has a roster of 30, defeated Appleton City 25-6 in its playoff opener Wednesday night. The Wildcat defense limited Appleton City to minus-5 yards rushing.

Jordan Riehm rushed for 97 yards on 27 carries and scored a touchdown, and quarterback Jordan Bryant completed 6 of 9 passes for 96 yards, including an 18-yard TD toss to Jamie Gray to break a 6-6 tie in the second period. The Wildcats added fourth-quarter scores on short runs by Montana Hembree and Bryant.

“I didn’t think we played well at all on offense,” LaSalle said. “We fumbled the ball a ton. Being a single-wing team, our snaps were a little off, but our defense really played well.”

Adrian (10-1) needed two nights — and a late touchdown and 2-point conversion — to nip Rich Hill 15-14 in its first-round game. The Blackhawks and Tigers ended their game on Thursday night after Wednesday’s action was halted by lightning.

“I don’t know if it will matter a whole lot,” LaSalle said. “They only played a half on Thursday night.”

The Blackhawks have won nine straight games since a 51-14 loss at Galena, a 3A playoff participant in Kansas, on Sept. 5. Veteran head coach George Bruto, a Missouri Southern graduate, notched victory No. 200 on Oct. 3 with a 35-15 victory over Cass-Midway.

“They have two good backs, a really good quarterback,” LaSalle said. “The defense doesn’t give up the big play.

“We’re definitely going to have to be able to run the football. If they shut our run down, we’re in trouble because we’re not a passing team. We have to get movement on the line of scrimmage.”

The Wildcats have won eight straight since a 43-27 loss at Miller. Greenfield beat Rich Hill 13-6 in the final game of the regular season.

The Joplin Globe Publishing Company
117 East Fourth Street, Joplin, MO 64801

Dolphins Withstood Seahawks' Frantic Rally

By Scott M. Johnson
For the Kitsap Sun
Sunday, November 9, 2008


The Seattle Seahawks aren't in the business of moral victories.

Apparently, they're not in the business of any kind of victory.

For the seventh time this season, and the fourth time in five road games, the Seahawks found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard Sunday afternoon.

At least this game, a 21-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins, held some drama at the end.

"You can say that we fought tough and lost, but nobody cares about that," linebacker Julian Peterson said afterward. "All they see is W's and L's. Right now, we're on the L side. And that's not the side you want to be on."

The Seahawks' latest loss, which might go down as the knockout punch to the chin of an already beaten fighter, came with its share of excitement but an all-too-familiar finish.

Four plays in particular seemed to cement the outcome and serve as trademarks for what might go down as Mike Holmgren's worst season as a head coach — ever.

After the Seahawks (2-7) rallied back from a 14-0 deficit and getting to within two points on a Koren Robinson touchdown with 2:57 remaining, a penalty on guard Mike Wahle wiped out what could have been the tying score on a two-point conversion.

On the next possession, during which the Dolphins were trying to run out the clock, Miami quarterback Chad Pennington fumbled the ball away to Seattle at the Dolphins' 25-yard line. But officials overturned the call after looking at a replay, leading to a Miami punt.

Less than two minutes later, after the Seahawks had moved across midfield, Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace underthrew a pass to an open Bobby Engram downfield. Had the pass been on target, Engram may have scored the winning touchdown.

One play later, a fourth-down pass went off the hands of tight end John Carlson.

Instead — due in large part to four key plays but not exclusive to them — the Seahawks found themselves explaining another loss.

"Right now, our margin for error is very slim — to none," said Engram, who had five receptions for 53 yards. "We've just got to look at the film and take it like men."

As close as the Seahawks were at the end, the early moments of Sunday's game felt all too familiar.

The Dolphins jumped out of the gates, basically scoring twice on their first possession. Miami's Ted Ginn Jr. caught the opening kickoff, juked Seattle's Jordan Babineaux at the 15-yard line, and went the distance for what appeared to be a 100-yard touchdown.

But a holding call brought the return back, so Miami did it the hard way. The Dolphins methodically marched 90 yards in 11 plays, the last of which was a 39-yard touchdown pass from Chad Pennington to Ginn Jr. on a flea flicker.

The Dolphins went 76 yards on their next drive, scoring on another long play when running back Ricky Williams took a handoff from Ronnie Brown out of single-wing formation and went 49 yards untouched. It marked the third time this season that the Seahawks have fallen behind 14-0.

But unlike some recent losses, this time the Seahawks actually showed some fight.

Babineaux intercepted a Pennington pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, marking Seattle's second defensive touchdown in as many road games.

After that, the Seahawks had a rare second half that saw them stay competitive. They kicked a field goal on their opening drive of the third quarter, then got the ball back with a chance to take only their third second-half lead all season. That drive also ended up with a field goal, putting Seattle within 14-13.

Then the Seahawks' defense fell apart after nearly three quarters of solid play. After Seattle had allowed just 101 yards on Miami's previous six possessions, the Dolphins marched 79 yards on a key drive in the fourth quarter. Miami (5-4) used 16 plays to give itself an eight-point lead, going ahead 21-13 on Brown's 16-yard keeper from the single-wing look.

The Seahawks' offense followed that with what might have been its most impressive drive of the season. Wallace completed a 15-yard pass to Engram, Julius Jones broke off a 33-yard run, and Robinson caught a 3-yard touchdown to cap off a 55-yard drive. That put Seattle within 21-19 with 2:57 remaining.

The two-point conversion was aborted because of a false-start penalty on Wahle, but the play was carried out because few players heard the whistle. Engram caught Wallace's pass in the end zone, only to find out that it didn't count.

"I didn't know" about the whistle, Engram said. "I was going to get (the ball). It was loud, and I thought it was a tie ball game."

Lining up from the 7-yard line, the Seahawks took another shot at the two-point conversion but came up empty when Wallace's pass to Carlson was broken up at the goal line.

While it looked like that might be the final shot, Seattle had several other chances in the final two minutes.

Pennington's near-fumble, which came at the two-minute warning, was recovered by Seattle's Darryl Tapp at the Miami 25. When that call was overturned, the Dolphins punted and Seattle took over at its own 23-yard line with 1:50 remaining.

"If that (fumble) is ours," Peterson said, "Olindo (Mare) hits the game-winner, and we go home — end of a perfect story. But for us, instead it was a tragedy."

The final scene looked promising, with Wallace completing three consecutive passes to put Seattle at Miami's 49-yard line. But his last four throws fell incomplete to finish off another Sunday of heartache for the Seahawks.

"It's a little bit like Ground Hog day," said Holmgren, whose only other 2-7 start came in 2000. "I think the team showed great heart after getting behind 14-0 (on Sunday). It was looking pretty bad, but they hung in there.

" We made it close at the end, but too little, too late."



Miami 21, Seattle 19

Next Sunday

Arizona (5-3 ) at Seattle (2-7)

Time: 1:05 p.m. TV: Ch. 13

Kitsap Sun
P.O. Box 259, Bremerton, Wash. 98337

Windber back in title game with Single-Wing

By Scott M. Johnson
For the Kitsap Sun
Sunday, November 9, 2008

For The Tribune-Democrat

LOYSBURG — The Windber Ramblers rolled over the Northern Bedford Black Panthers on Saturday, 35-15 in a District 5 Class A semifinal.

Windber's near perfect execution of the single-wing, direct-snap, misdirection offense had the Panthers guessing all night long, and most of their guesses were wrong, as the Black Panthers defense never did get a handle on how to stop the third seeded Ramblers.

Windber’s victory sets up a rematch of a Week 2 game with Conemaugh Township. The Indians, seeded fourth in the district playoffs, beat the Ramblers 14-0 during the regular season.

Crisscrossing counters by running backs Jarod Spinelli, Kevin Erickson, Brandon Ulasky and Mike Clark moved the ball methodically down the field early in the first. The Ramblers scored when Ulasky crossed the goal line from 13 yards out with 6:24 to go. His kick was also good to put Windber up 7-0 early on.

When the No. 2 Panthers failed to move the ball, Windber was in good field position and the onslaught continued. A 12-yard run by Erick Strapple moved the ball to the 4. Two plays later, Spinelli scored on a counter from the 1.

Ulasky's second kick made put the Ramblers up 14-0 early in the second.

The Panthers did sustain a drive late in the second and capped it off with a 10-yard run by fullback Bronson Bowser and Northern Bedford converted for two more points.

The Ramblers squeezed in another score when Ulasky scored on another misdirection play from 26 yards out. His third successful kick gave the Ramblers a 21-8 lead headed to the half.

“We knew they would try to spread us out on defense,” Windber coach Phil DeMarco said. “We were fortunate to pretty much shut down their deep threat, Marshall Clapper and some of their other playmakers.“

Erickson scored on a 10-yard run at the 3:53 mark of the third quarter and Ulasky’s kick gave Windber a 28-8 lead.

Erickson followed up his effort with another score, from 2 yards, with 9:26 left in the game.

Ulasky’s fifth kick put the Ramblers up 35-8 with 9:26 showing in the game.

The Panthers managed a late score when Logan Zimmerman ran a sweep from the 8.

The Tribune-Democrat
425 Locust St
PO Box 340
Johnstown PA 15907-0340

Can Wildcat be tamed?

Seattle's defense has to contend with the Dolphins' version of the single-wing offense.

By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer

MIAMI -- The NFL's most successful brainstorm of the 2008 season came not from the mind of Belichick, Shanahan or Holmgren but from someone named David Lee.

The Miami Dolphins' quarterbacks coach certainly didn't create the single-wing offense, but he's nearly perfected it. Using an old-school formation that features running back Ronnie Brown lining up at quarterback, the Dolphins have baffled some of the game's best defenses -- even Bill Belichick's New England Patriots -- running the Wildcat formation.

"I think you have to prepare for it," Dolphins first-year head coach Tony Sparano said. "It's like anything else in our league: when all of a sudden you see something, you have to spend time on it.

"From our standpoint, it's a small part of what we do. It's not a large part of what we do, but it is something that we do."

Lee was on a University of Arkansas staff that used the system to feature star running back Darren McFadden last season. The Dolphins tinkered with it in summer minicamps, but only after getting off to an 0-2 start did they implement it in the game plan.

The result was a shocking, 38-13 win over the defending AFC champion Patriots.

"We thought we needed to maybe do something a little bit different, something our offense could just kind of put their arms around and get excited about, and that's what we did," Sparano said.

The Seahawks have spent the good part of the last week getting up to speed on the formation, which is used about as often as the drop kick throughout the rest of the NFL.

"If you're not expecting it, and you're not prepared for it, it can get you," Seahawks defensive coordinator John Marshall said. "It can get you out of whack, and it can get you back on your heels. And when you're back on your heels, you're not playing aggressively.

"And they run it very well. But I think if you're prepared for it, it's a matter of making your normal adjustments."

The defense that fared the best against Miami's single wing was the Ravens.

Baltimore's speedy defense held the Dolphins to four rushing yards and a procedure penalty on six plays run out of the formation on Oct. 19. The Ravens ended up winning that game 27-13.

Seattle middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu said that it was last week's game against Denver, not the Baltimore game, that gives the Seahawks hope. Running a system similar to that of Seattle, the undersized Broncos held Miami to 75 rushing yards in a 26-17 Dolphins win.

"It looked like Denver did the best," said Tatupu, who is part of an undersized Seattle defense that also relies on speed. "We run a similar defense, so we could probably attack it the same way they did."

Tatupu added that the key to stopping the single wing is to be aggressive, which is what the Ravens did.

"You've got to disrupt it," Tatupu said. "You can't sit back. ... But key guys have to be patient and stay home so they don't get trick plays on you."

Miami's version of the single-wing has helped resurrect a season that looked headed for the morgue once again. The Dolphins finished 1-15 last season yet have already won four of their first eight games in 2008.

"We expected to be better with all the hard work we had put in toward workouts," said linebacker Joey Porter, who last faced the Seahawks when he was playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. "We put in a lot of hard work since March. Guys have been here putting in a lot of hard work, and it is starting to pay off.

"We had high hopes from the beginning but our record was so bad last year nobody believed we could do what we have done."

The Daily Herald Company - PO Box 930 - Everett, Washington 98206