I was planning to take a few days off from posting, maybe bank a few things for the coming week, and that's been going well enough. There's enough news for one of these even with holding on several other items for later, so here you go, some RU-themed weekend reading.
Doesn't it seem like everything that's come out of Cincinnati regarding Brian Leonard's supernatural ability to always convert third downs is awfully familiar? Best of all, there's no need to blather on about intangibles and such, as he's that good, and the numbers bear it out. Football Outsiders says Leonard has an 88% catch rate this season, best in the league among qualified backs. He doesn't drop the ball, and is remarkably skilled at knowing where the markers are. He has nineteen third down receptions, which rank 11th in the AFC, and second among tailbacks in the conference. Oh, and then there's this.
Nineteen of Leonard's 30 receptions this year have come on third down.
Among running backs, that is second to Baltimore's Ray Rice (22).
Visualize a child clapping his or her hands together.
It's no wonder that some teammates are calling Leonard the team MVP. He's finally found his niche, with an offense that emphasizes his strengths with an open mind. Hopefully someone will get the same memo for Tim Brown next year. It's almost impossible to fathom how the Rams, the worst team in the league, gave him away for absolutely nothing. That's why they're the Rams. Anyway, the impetus for all of this was a 98-yard drive to finish off the Chiefs last week, wherein Brian Leonard was a crucial catalyst. Who knows how much we'll see Brian tomorrow against the Jets, with Cincy likely to rest many players. No news is good news with Clark Harris at long snapper, but he could always get a look catching passes. At least there'll be ample time to point and laugh at Vernon Gholston glued to the bench.
Speaking of Cincinnati, there is a basketball game today. Lance Stephenson broke out against UConn and led the Bearcats to a big win. They're in need of some good press following their football team getting pounded by Florida-sans Brian Kelly. Meanwhile Rutgers wants to fill the RAC, and show that their respectable showing against UNC was not yet another fluke. Show of hands: who's ready for hack-a-Hamady? Not that any of them will hit their FTs though.... If there was ever a time to build some positive momentum, it'd be now, especially considering that Northwestern of all programs is on the twinges of respectability.
Yes, if you clicked on that story, you'd find out that Rutgers basketball hasn't been ranked in over thirty, count them, thirty freakin' years. The longest streak of ANY BCS conference program, they have over a decade on anyone else. Now NW is ranked, and Oregon State is moving in the right direction under Craig Robinson, even pulling recruits out of the New York City region. The program has arguably never been in more dire straights. As for the women, I wrote up something on them for Monday.
And to think, I was thumbing through the latest issue of the Sporting News a couple days ago, and their Big East survey thingee didn't even have any respondants with ties to the Rutgers program, and we couldn't even finish as the most spectacular failure, as they rated St. John's at the most disappointing program. Some interesting Cuse-related material in that piece too if any of their readers are catching this. It's not online, or I'd link. Will Leitch did say he was going to watch the Rutgers/Louisville game at Freedom Hall in a couple months though.
If your favorite NFL franchise isn't one of the twelve left standing in the playoffs, this isn't really the best time of year. Football's over, and your team is left picking up the pieces, bruised egos, and torn ACLs. Zeus may miss week 17 with a toe injury. Underwood could be active with both of Jaz's starting WRs out. One player's injury though is another's time to shine. Late in the season, teams generally will throw a players on injured reserve if only to have the opportunity to sign street free agents. That les them secure players before the postseason rush, giving them a valuable opportunity for evaluation, and maybe give the more promising a head start with regards to the playbook and such. Anyway, last week two such former Scarlet Knights signed such deals, with the Browns signing Joey Porter, and the Colts Brandon Renkart to each's respective practice squad.
There were some good quotes from Kenny Britt in USA Today this week. I'm planning to do a post on the rookie class of receivers this year as soon as the week 17 stats are compiled.
Loyal readers know that I'll never pass up an opportunity to bag on USF DE George Selvie, the most overrated player in recent college football history. Naturally, his recently announced bid to the Senior Bowl was fairly undeserved on the merits, but what really caught my eye was that their corner Jerome Murphy got one too. Murphy? Dude was an ok safety a couple years back, but he's not merely pedestrian; Murphy has been mind-bendingly terrible in coverage whenever I've had a chance to see the Bulls play. It's remarkable how badly he compares to the likes of Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams, who were actually, you know, good.
Apparently one of the NFL scouting services like National or BLESTO gave him a good preseason rating (off of measurables or workouts or whatever), and all the media types that lazily parrot off that instead of watching the tape don't know any better. Now, here's where it really gets interesting. As of a week ago, Devin McCourty was listed on the East-West Shrine Game roster along with Kevin Haslam, but DMC is no longer listed. If it's such a bad year for corners that a complete dog like Murphy gets to go to Mobile, they pretty much HAVE to give an invite to the far superior player and prospect in McCourty, right?
Further developments regarding the Rutgers men's soccer opening have been fairly quiet to begin with, and the holiday season no doubt further slowed everything down. So this was a bit of a surprise to read.
Just spoke with an insider regarding the Rutgers' mens' soccer position...the perceived No.1 is not really the top choice
Odd. St. John's coach and Rutgers alum Dave Masur seemingly makes all the sense in the world, and there were a lot of whispers that he was at the top of the list. Is McCourt the guy then? A mystery candidate? I want answers, but I also want the athletic department to make a good hire, and that may require plugging any leaks for the time being.
Rutgers baseball was predicted to finish 8th out of 12 in the Big East's preseason poll.
Apparently Rutgers didn't show too much interest in Boise State's Kyle Wilson when he was a senior at Piscataway HS. The "problem" with the class of '05 was that it was a big year for in-state talent, and RU put all of its eggs in those baskets, which all came crashing down after week two. So Rutgers ended up ignoring players like Wilson and Wisconsin's Jonathan Casillas from right in its back yard until it was too late (everyone knew who Donald Brown was, but he had academic concerns). Irony is, that unheralded '05 class ended up being pretty good and with the McCourtys they weren't exactly hurting for help at CB.