Is Auburn sending the wrong message by playing Nick Marshall in opener?

Marijuana citation, no problem...Marshall wont start but he will play...Contrary to what Gus Malzahn said on SEC Media Day

By Rich Winter

   Breaking news from the college football world as Auburn coach Gus Malzahn announced today that sophomore Jeremy Johnson will be the starting QB when No. 6 Auburn opens the season against Arkansas on Saturday.

     Hey wait, I thought Jeremy Johnson was already the starter for that opener.

     What Malzahn did here was pretty clever. He made the official announcement that Jeremy Johnson will be the starter and he quietly, barely, mentioned the fact that Nick Marshall, the starting QB, the Heisman hopeful, the guy who received a marijuana citation this fall is going to play.

  I though at SEC Media Days that Malzahn incurred the wrath of God against his star player and told us that Marshall wouldn't play in the opener and that he was suspended for the game with Arkansas.


   Welcome to the SEC, where a crime isn't really a crime if you can just brush it aside long enough for people to forget it about it for a second.

     Frankly, I'm appalled by this decision and I think it clearly sends the wrong message to a host of young men that frankly could have learned a dose of truth, no, a dose of reality.

    If you're caught with pot and given a citation in college, you don't get to play in the opener...PERIOD!

    The problem here is this is SEC Country, which basically runs a lawless affair unless something really bad happens, like a double homicide - oh wait, Aaron Hernandez continued to play.

    Let's translate all of this into what is really going on here.

    Marshall is a talented young man. Last season he threw for 2000 yards and rushed for 1068. Auburn is ranked No. 6 in the pre-season. If Marshall doesn't play in the first game, against a lowly Arkansas team, his chances of being a Heisman contender and Auburn spring-boarding up the national polls, with the extra attention surrounding him will suffer a blow.

 Oh yes, it's a playoff year, so Auburn needs those extra, early look good points to make it into college football's final four.

    I thought Malzahn's statement at SEC Media Daze was pretty clear.

   Marshall won't play in the opener.

   I guess he's softened that a bit to, "I guess he won't start." which ultimately means he won't play the first series.

 What a joke.

  Kid gets a marijuana citation and he is forced to sit out all of one drive and not get the start on the opener of his senior year.

   Sending a real strong message to the program and the SEC and the rest of college football, AUBURN!

  It's ok to smoke pot and it's ok to get a citation for possessing's a little slap on the wrist..thank you for playing. 

  The quotes today from Auburn are almost a joke as they simply talk about Johnson as the starter and how everyone is in full support of him in his first game. 

     "We have a lot of confidence in [Jeremy] to run our entire offense, and like I said before, he's very talented," Malzahn said. "The two games he played last year, he was the freshman SEC offensive player of the week."

As a true freshman, Johnson started against Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic and threw for 422 yards and six touchdowns. This will be his first SEC start.

"I see Jeremy coming out there and practicing good every day," Marshall said. "He's leading the team just like he's going to be the starter, and I'm behind him 100 percent."

Marshall was still listed as the No. 1 quarterback on Auburn's depth chart, which was released Tuesday, and he has handled himself well since the incident, according to his head coach.

Kiowa Tribal member, Kendal Thompson hopes to get shot as Utah takes on Idaho State

Kiowa Tribal Member, Kendal Thompson should see time Thursday as the Utes take on Idaho State

By Rich Winter

     As the college football season gets underway this week, you can bet the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma will be watching as their favorite son, Kendal Thompson laces them up as the back-up QB when the University of Utah gets ready to host the Idaho State Bengals on Thursday, Aug. 28. 

  A little history in the Kiowa Tribe - The Kiowa /ˈk.ɵwə/ are a nation of American Indians of the Great Plains. They migrated from western Montana southward into the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in the 17th and 18th centuries,[2] and finally into the Southern Plains by the early 19th century.[3] In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma.

Today they are federally recognized as Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma with headquarters in Carnegie, Oklahoma.[1] The Kiowa language is still spoken today and is part of the Tanoan language family.[4] As of 2011, there are 12,000 members.[1]

     Now some history on Kendal Thompson who prepped at Southmoore high school in Oklahoma.

High School
Under Armour All-American ... four-star recruit by Tom Lemming's MaxPreps ... three-star recruit by, and ... played in just three games as a senior due to an injury in the season's second game ... completed 25-of-34 passes for 295 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in those three games while logging 42 rushing attempts for 237 yards and one TD ... completed 166 of 259 passes in 2009 for 2,793 yards and 29 touchdowns while rushing for 466 yards and 10 TDs ... as a sophomore in 2008, threw for 1,025 yards and 13 TDs with 76 completions on 148 attempts while rushing for 136 yards and one TD.

Son of Charles and Kori Thompson ... father played quarterback at OU in 1987 and 1988 ... cousin of former OU defensive back Antonio Perkins and current West Virginia wide receiver Jordan Thompson ... majoring in communication.

  Now, here is where things get really interesting!

  Thompson transferred to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City this summer after graduating from college. He enters Utah as a junior according to his status, even though he graduated already.

     Thompson came to Utah and promptly found himself in a battle for the No. 1 QB spot with last year's starter, junior, Travis Wilson. Wilson had some injury problems last season and was only medically cleared to play this summer.

    And what a camp battle it was.

   Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham finally made his decision to start Wilson, but said the competition was extremely close.

  From the Salt Lake Tribune: 

"It was about as tight as it could be," he said.

Quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick sat down with the two quarterbacks Saturday night, after a scrimmage in which both performed well, and broke down the coaches' evaluations: Wilson would be the starter, they were told. Thompson, however, had earned the right to play.

Whittingham elaborated Monday:

"It's not a two-quarterback system," he said. "It's not first quarter, second quarter. It's when we get the opportunity to put Kendal in and get him some work, he's earned that right, and you will see him play, as well. But Travis is our starter."

    So, Travis Wilson gets the start but Thompson should see some playing time as the Utes are heavily favored against the Bengals of Idaho State.

    Yours truly, Rich Winter, will be at the game, and I will have comments from Thompson following that contest.

Draft Stock Rising - Why the White Mamba says Keenan Allen will be a top five Fantasy WR

Keenan Allen was terrific as a rookie. The White Mamba says hes a top-5 Fantasy WR!

Tuff Talk - Guest authored by John Neely, AKA - The White Mamba

    As a long suffering San Diego Charger fan, I gotta say, I enter this season with cautious optimism. I love that the national media, the so-called cookie-cutter experts, don't have much to say about the Chargers and I love what this Charger team has done offensively.

   With that, I'm here to tell you fantasy-loving wanna-be's that if you haven't drafted yet and you're not thinking about Keenan Allen as a top-five wide receiver, then maybe it's time you join the developmental squad because national pub or not, this cat is the real deal.

     As a Charger fan, one thing I love about Keenan Allen is this guy plays wide receiver like a linebacker. Add to that, he's got a chip on his shoulder because he feels like he was overlooked in the 2013 NFL draft as team after team passed on him because of a knee injury his last season at California.

   He was the 76th overall pick in the 2013 draft and seven other receivers passed on him before the Chargers said, welcome aboard young man, we would be glad to have you as our No. 1 wide receiver for the next ten years. 

   Seven other receivers over this guy - C'mon scouts, really?

    A bunch of teams looked at his 4.71 time in the 40-yard dash and said, no thanks. Thank you other teams for basing your wide receiver projections solely on the strength of what shows up on your little clipboard.

     Although he doesn't have Calvin Johnson size, he's 6-foot-2 and a rock solid, 211 pounds, he's as tough as they come, kinda like Hines Ward but a better athlete.  Although people look at him as not being fast, he's football quick. That means he runs good routes and he's tough enough to break tackles and, oh yeah, he's got that chip on his shoulder.

What he did last season:

15 games - (and he didn't play much the first couple) - 71 catches 1046 yards and 8 td's

Where the so-called experts have him.

CBS - Jeremy Eisenberg - 16th

CBS - Dave Richard - 15th

Yahoo - 10th

ESPN - 14th

White Mamba - 5th (That's right, I said fifth)

  The thing everyone forgets about Allen is he's only going to get better. Philip Rivers knows exactly what he's got down in sunny San Diego.

   He's got an athletic, sure-handed receiver with deceptive speed that plays with a chip on his shoulder because everyone overlooked him in the draft.

   You see him point to his jersey after he made the Denver Bronco receiver look silly in the video that's posted with this blog? That's him saying..."Hey man, I'm Keenan Allen baby, don't ever forget about me."

    For everyone out there than thinks San Diego is an 8-8 squad, I've got news for you, we're better than that. At some point, the opposition is going to have to choose who they want to contain. Do we limit Antonio Gates and Ladarius green or do we limit this Allen guy?

White mamba predictions:

Keenan Allen - 95 catches, 1280 yards and 12 td's

    That people puts him high on the list of fantasy WR's, and you've been warned, this is someone you want on your roster.

Fantasy strategy - While I've got this guy penciled in as a solid No.1, most "experts" think of him as a No. 12 - No. 18, 2nd tier kind of guy.

   You get a Calvin Johnson and a Keenan Allen on your roster and you are half-way to a fantasy title.

   My buddy Rich, @panicgalore and I are getting ready to launch a series of articles and shows with the theme behind all publications of TUFF TALK.

  What that means is we're both sick and tired of the cookie-cutters over at ESPN reporting on the same old tired, boring, do it by the book news.

    Let's ask some tough questions and dump fodder on the issues that need to be talked about.

Follow Rich @panicgalore

you can follow the White Mamba @johnnyneely

 White Mamba out!

Do the Cleveland Browns have a Jerry Jones 'situation" going on?

Have the Cleveland Browns ruined Brian Hoyer

By Rich Winter

    I can't help but be fascinated by the soap-opera regarding the QB drama over in Cleveland.

    You draft a lightning rod like Johnny Manziel, and you're asking for a lot of attention, good an bad and frankly I don't believe the Cleveland coaching staff and ownership was ready for the onslaught of attention this QB battle between Brian Hoyer and Manziel has brought.

   I for one went on record about three weeks ago and suggested that Browns coach Mike Pettine was handling the situation wrong and should have been more clear, cut and decisive with his decision to make Hoyer the starter.

    White Mamba and I were chatting the other day after the Browns named Hoyer the starter.

   "Thank God," Mamba said. "Now we can move on and not talk about Manziel every two seconds."

  Ok, they made the decision - Neat, I can live with that.

  Then, it wasn't two days later, the Browns came out and said, "Well, Hoyer is our starter, but we'll probably run a little two QB system and platoon the guys."

  Are you freaking kidding me?


   Ok, lets go through the history of football and I ask this question, "How many times in the history of college football or the NFL has the two QB system worked out well?"

    Maybe a few, but I just want to scream from the rooftops, "Who the heck is calling these shots in Cleveland?"

   I'm seriously wondering if we have a Jerry Jones situation going on in Cleveland because frankly, I don't understand the thinking and I haven't understood it since the day the Browns drafted Johnny football.

 Alright, the owner of the Browns is Jimmy Haslam and the President is Alec Scheiner. 

   Is someone within that group calling the shots and telling Browns coach Mike Pettine what to do?


  The other day when Pettine came out and made the decision to start Hoyer, and then two days later he comes out and says, "Ummmm, er, Ummmm, it looks like we'll be doing a little two QB platooning." and then trying to defend that decision as if the scores of other teams that have tried it unsuccessfully don't count or don't matter in the pantheon of things.

    Now, I fear the Browns find themselves in a big fat mess as neither Manziel nor Hoyer is really playing worth a damn. 

Preseason stats:

Game one - 

Hoyer - 6-14-92 yards

Manziel - 7-11 for 63 yards with 6 carries for 27 yards.

Game two - 

Hoyer - 2-6 for 16 yards

Manziel - 7-16 for 65 yards and 1 td

Game three - 

Hoyer - 10-16 for 84 yards and 1 td

Manziel - 10-15 for 85 yards

Preseason totals

Hoyer - 18 - 36 for 192 yards and 1 td

Manziel - 24 - 42 for 213 and 1 td

   Neat, both of them have been pretty un-inspiring.

  I've listened to several of the interviews with Brian Hoyer after the decision was made and he seemed like a cautious little kid. He said all the right things, but it sounded like he didn't believe them.

  Yes, he was handed the keys to the volkswagon mini-bus but it felt like he was riding side-saddle to Mr. energy, Johnny Manziel.

   It would be one thing for Johnny Manziel to have come in and had a QB battle with Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, they would have competed for the job, but at the end of the day, Romo, Manziel, every Cowboy on the team, and you and I would have known that Manziel was going to be second string.

   The problem with what Cleveland did is they took a young QB in Hoyer, who has never been a starter and they ruined his confidence. They told him he would be the starter and then they pulled that away from him.

   Like it or not, Cleveland ruined Brian Hoyer.

   Whether he says all the right things or not, every time he makes a mistake he's going to be looking for the hook, and we all know that is no way to win football games.

  I said this weeks ago that I thought Pettine was handling the quarterback battle like a rookie coach.

  Maybe his hands are tied from above.

  He made the decision to start Hoyer and then it sounds like someone from above, a non-football playing dope, said, "Not so fast, let's not hurt Johnny football's feelings and let's not commit to just one guy yet."

    This is the worst possible scenario for the Cleveland Browns and I expect the team to fracture and suffer around this one, simple decision.

  Had they come in from the get-go and said Hoyer is the man, Johnny, work hard and be patient, then none of this would have happened.

    We all know Manziel is going to get his shot and probably sooner than later based on the mere fact that Brian Hoyer will not and does not have a big enough of a personality to hold off Mr. Football himself.

   You asked for this Cleveland now sit there and take it!

South Dakota AA cross country preview - Is it Will Lauer's time to shine?

Sioux Falls Lincoln senior Will Lauer and his Patriot teammates will be looking to repeat at the South Dakota state meet in October.

By Rich Winter

 Ding-dong the witch is dead, or in the case of the AA ranks of South Dakota cross country, Brookings standout, Addison DeHaven has moved on to college.

  That friends, means the AA individual champion is up for grabs this season.

 DeHaven blistered the course last fall to the tune of a time of 15:34.

  Second place finisher, Will Lauer, of Sioux Falls Lincoln, finished second a year ago and should be poised for a big senior season.

  Let's take a look at some of the top returners:

2nd - Will Lauer - SFL - 16:00.10

4th - Nathan Schroder - SFL - 16:18

7th - Jesus Urtusuastegui - SFR - 16:46

8th - Logan Swenson - SFW - 16:48

9th - Mark Poston - RCS - 16:49

11th - Tyler Slaba - SFR - 16:52

12th - Druex Selzer - SFL - 16:57

16th - Jacob Simmons - Sturgis - 17:09

Track work last spring

Schroeder and Conner Haaland of Rapid City Stevens finished 2nd and 3rd at the South Dakota state track meet, although the times were pretty pedestrian, both at 9:44.

      Gotta say that Lauer looks like the class of the field in this one. 

     I'm anxious to see what Sturgis senior, finally a freaking senior, Jacob Simmons does with the longer distances his senior year. Simmons was electric on the track last spring, easily winning and dominating the 800 and 1600 meters. Let's see if those state titles, along with a summer of hard work moves him into the top five at the state meet. One thing we know, if it comes down to a kick, no one is out-kicking Simmons, which is surprising because his father isn't exactly lightning quick - JK Jeff!

The Team race:

1. 32 Sioux Falls Lincoln ( 16:29.35 1:22:26.75 1:00.65)
1 2 Will Lauer 11 16:00.10 5 12 Gabe Peters 9 17:00.75
( 14) Tyler Dobson 11 17:07.50
3 4 Nathan Schroeder 11 16:18.95 7 ( 19) Anders Rasmussen 11 17:13.05
4 11 Dreux Selzler 11 16:57.75

    I would be shocked if anyone catches up to the Patriots. Lincoln lost it's No. 2 runner, but everyone else is back. Sophomore Gabe Peters had a good state track meet and could move into that No. 2 or No. 3 spot. Lincoln wins it going away.


Sioux Falls Roosevelt:

2. 95 Sioux Falls Roosevelt ( 17:11.23 1:25:56.15 1:01.40)
1 6 Jesus Urtusuastegui 11 16:46.60 5 41 Daniel Armstrong 10 17:48.00
2 9 Isaac Iverson 12 16:52.75 6 ( 53) Seth Iverson 9 18:08.25
3 10 Tyler Slaba 11 16:53.25 7 ( 63) Thane Hein 9 18:21.85
4 29 Lukas Nelson 11 17:35.55

    Like Lincoln, Roosevelt lost it's No. 2 runner in Isaac Iverson, so they'll need to fill that void. Look for 10th graders Seth Iverson and Thane Hein to be more competitive this season. 

Rapid City Stevens:

3. 111 Rapid City Stevens ( 17:20.18 1:26:40.90 0:55.75)
1 8 Mark Poston 11 16:49.20 5 36 Jake Schlepp 11 17:44.95
2 16 Connor Haaland 11 17:10.50 6 ( 48) Tristan Christoffer 9 18:03.55
3 20 Tom Pfeifle 11 17:16.90 7 ( 58) Bryce Blank 11 18:16.95
4 31 Andrew Jones 11 17:39.35

    The Raiders return all seven of the state runners from a year ago, including the top five scorers. Poston, Haaland, Pfeifle, Jones and Schlepp will all be seniors this year. Me has a sneaking feeling the Raiders with that Coy guy at the helm will make a push for the state title as those juniors from a year ago will be trying to bring the team title back to west river.

Happy cross country season all.

Follow me @panicgalore and don't be afraid to share cross country stories, times and pictures with me...

South Dakota AA cross country preview - Can Pierre wrestle the title away from RC. Stevens

Will Yanktons Savannah Woods bring home the individual title in AA cross country?

By Rich Winter

     With the top two runners in last year's AA cross country race, Annie Kruse and Tamara Gorman departing for college, a new champion will be crowned when the AA runners convene at the Broadland golf course in Huron on October 25, 2014.

     Yankton's Savannah Woods is the top returner, having finished 3rd a year ago, but she should get a big push from Rapid City Stevens senior Emily Person.

   Both of them might get a push from Rapid City Central junior Shacey Burgess

South Dakota state meet returners:

3rd - Savannah Woods - Yankton - 14:55

4th - Emily Person - Rapid City Stevens - 14:55.26

5th - Shacey Burgess - RCC - 14:59

7th - Kelsi KIearney - SFW - 15:07 (highest freshman finisher a year ago)

8th  - Allison Green - Sturgis - 15:08 (highest finishing 8th grader a year ago)

9th - Jamie Schweiss - RCS - 15:12

10th - Rachel Propst - Pierre - 15:13

Let's check out the work of some of these young ladies on the track last spring

3200 meters:

3rd - Person - 11:27

4th - Woods - 11:32

5th - Green - 11:33

     Those times in the two-mile suggest to me that Sturgis runner, Allison Green made some improvements in the off-season and she could be a handful this fall. 

 With the departures of the lead runners for Yankton and Rapid City Stevens, the team race could be wide open this season.

Let's take a look at who is back for the leading contenders.

Rapid City Stevens - That Coy guy seems to know what he's doing (I'll give that to him begrudgingly)

2 4 Emily Person 11 14:55.26 6 
3 9 Jamie Schweiss 10 15:12.46 7 ( 50) Felicia Roskam 10 16:30.46
4 20 Kendra Dykstra 10 15:48.16

    The Raiders have four runners back from a year ago, three of them very solid, but the team will need to develop some younger runners.

Rapid City Central - I always think the Raiders and Cobblers hate each other because they see each other so often, but these girls have a solid relationship and seem to be friends off the course.

2. 99 Rapid City Central ( 15:33.96 1:17:49.80 1:44.40)
1 5 Shacey Burgess 10 14:59.36 5 59 Rachel Mayforth 11 16:43.76
 ( 79) Raeanna Mayforth 9 17:07.06
3 11 Ava Parris 8 15:20.76 7 

    The Cobblers lost two scoring runners from a year ago, including their No. 2. Like Stevens they will have to develop some younger runners.

3. Yankton - 

3. 110 Yankton ( 15:27.93 1:17:19.65 2:24.85)

2 3 Savannah Woods 10 14:55.01 6 ( 53) Tessa Folkers 8 16:36.16
3 25 Madison McClure 8 15:50.51 7 
4 34 Lauren Graves 11 16:02.66

     Yankton lost it's top runner, but they have No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 back along with an improving 9th grader, Tessa Folkers

4. 4. 131 Pierre T.F. Riggs ( 15:52.66 1:19:23.30 1:04.35)

1 10 Rachel Propst 11 15:13.21 5 38 Aspen Iverson 10 16:17.56
2 26 Cortney Dowling 10 15:54.71 6 ( 74) Eryn Schlotte 9 17:03.26
3 28 Emily Mikkelsen 7 15:57.76 7 ( 85) Mariah Fuchs 10 17:14.36
4 29 Hannah Shaffer 9 16:00.06
     Pierre has all seven runners back from a season ago and that spells trouble for the rest of the field. If Rachel Propst can climb into the top-five at the state meet and we see improvement from 8th grader, Emily Mikkelsen and 10th grader Hannah Shaffer, this could be the year for the lady Govs.
Handicapping the field: I like Yankton to come out on top, but you will have four teams that should be right there. A lot of depth in the team race this year.
   Individual: I like Sturgis runner and 9th grader Allison Green to emerge from the pack as the 2014, South Dakota AA state champion.
      Follow me @panicgalore and if you have cross country stories and or times and results don't be afraid to share. I don't bite...HARD!


Draft Stock Rising - Why Ravens WR Steve Smith is still a valuable commodity

Does Steve Smith have anything left in the tank? 6-80 for 1 td in last preseason game...HMMM?

By Rich Winter

     Baltimore, to me, seems to be one of those teams flying under the radar this season.

     I think myself, the media, and fantasy football prognosticators have spent so much time wondering and worrying about Steve Smith that we've all forgotten to take an in-depth look at just what this team has and how they'll be using the weaponry around Joe Flacco. 

      Even the acquisition of former Panther WR, Steve Smith, didn't really do much to get the pulse revved up over in Baltimore, until week three of the preseason.

    In week 3 of this pre-season, Steve Smith absolutely lit up the Washington Redskins.

    6-80 and 1 td (TD was 30-yards long)

    While Torrey Smith had a solid season a year ago (1100 yards), he's never been a touchdown machine. Smith had just four scores a year ago, eight a year before that, and 7 his rookie season.

    Steve Smith had a bit of a down year last season, 745 yards and 4 td's. Let's not forget the man had 1174 yards a season ago and 1394 with seven td's a year before that.

  Hmmmm, intriguing.

  So, what are the experts suggesting we do with Torrey Smith, Steve Smith and Dennis Pitta?

  You know, the weaponry.

  CBS - Jeremy Eisenberg

Torrey Smith - 25th

Steve Smith - Unranked

Dennis Pitta - 4th

   CBS - Dave Richard

Torrey Smith - 25th

Steve Smith - 58th

Dennis Pitta - 7th

  Rich Winter

Torrey Smith - 30th

Steve Smith 31st

Dennis Pita - 8th

        Here is the thing with Steve Smith. I think he's been the No. 1 option down in Carolina for the past 800 years that I'm not sure if he's going to have a bit of a resurgence this season?

      I've never been really fond of Torrey Smith or the way the Ravens use him, but I'm guessing with so many people paying attention to Torrey Smith that Steve Smith will likely find more room than he's used to.

        Never been real fond of Joe Flacco either, but I hafta admit the guy has a big arm.

      Hmmm, big arm to deep threat = fantasy points galore for me.

Rich Winter stat predictions:

Torrey Smith - 1000 yards 5 td's

Steve Smith - 950 yards 8 td's

Dennis Pitta - 700 and 6 td's

   I also see the Baltimore Ravens offense taking a step forward. Yes, Kubiak is going to run the ball, but he specializes in hold the ball, play-action and I see the Ravens getting deep a few times when people don't expect them too.

   Steve Smith had 12,197 yards and 80 td's for his career coming into this season. Nice to pump up those numbers a big to give the NFL, HOF committee something to salivate over. 

  Oh, and Smith, either of you, have fun. 

Draft Stock falling - Why Newton and Kaepernick are not No. 1 options

Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick have both seen their fantasy stock slide in recent days

By Rich Winter

   I swear to God I looked at the QB rankings on CBS sports last night and Cam Newton was No. 4 and Colin Kaepernick was No. 5.

   Now, I haven't been on either of these guys' band-a-wagons this season, so all I can say to CBS is "What took you so long?"

    Neither one of these guys have been very good this pre-season and now with the news that Newton has hairline fractures on his RIBS, and could miss the opener, well, he certainly is no longer a No. 1 QB option in my esteemed fantasy estimation.

Let's check out how these two have done in the preseason.

Game 1 - 

Kaepernick 1-1 for 17 yards

Newton - DNP - coming off ankle surgery

Game 2

Kaepernick 5-9 for 39 yards

Newton 4-9 for 65 yards

Game 3

Kaepernick - 6-12 for 59 yards and two rushes for 13 yards

Newton - 8-12 for 88 yards rushing 3 for 12 yards

  Neither of these guys has thrown for a preseason TD.

Kaepernick preseason - 12 - 22 for 115 yards and two rushes for 13 yards - NEAT

Newton - 12 - 21 for 153 yards and three rushes for 12 yards.

Where are they ranked now that the experts have decided to get real.

CBS - Jeremy Eisenberg

Kaepernick 9th

Newton - 17th

CBS - Dave Richard

Kaepernick 10th

Newton 16th


Kaepernick 13th

Newton 8th


Kaepernick 10th

Newton 6th (I can see I'll have to pester ESPN a bit to get them to come to their senses)

Rich Winter

Kaepernick 15th

Newton 20th (which is where I had him two weeks ago.


Kaepernick - I am thoroughly shocked and amazed the Niners haven't give Kaepernick more playing time this preseason. Seems like they are more interested in getting a look at Blaine Gabbert (Terrible). I haven't been sold yet on Kaepernick being a great pocket passer and they aren't giving him looks to get into any kind of rhythm as the season doth approach.

  The Niners have all of these weapons and it's like all of these weapons are stuck in the garage with the governor on. 

   I think  Kaepernick will likely come on towards to end of the season, but in such a tough division, if you get out of the gates poorly, the season could be doomed. Kaepernick lacks the consistency of being able to be a pocket passer and I don't know if he's progresses a lick in his 1.5 years as a starter.

Cam Newton - I think this sorry tale has already been written. The Panthers gave away all of their receivers and all of the guys they have brought in, sans Kelvin Benjamin, just don't look like they'll be of much help.

   I swear I will be targeting Cam Newton next season but with a bum ankle and lingering issues from broken ribs and a sad cast of talent around him, I just don't see anything good coming from this.

Kaepernick predictions - 3300 yards 22 td's, 450 yards rushing 5 td's

Newton predictions - 3500 yards 20 td's, 200 yards rushing 2 td's

  Niners better not mess around or they are not going to the playoffs.

  Panthers 6-10 at best.


Can Vermillion's Maddie Lavin repeat as South Dakota Class A x-country champ?

Is Vermillions Maddie Lavin the class of the South Dakota Class A cross country field?

By Rich Winter

    Mark your calendar, Saturday, October 25th is the day of the South Dakota state cross country meet, and I can promise you fireworks when one of the most talented fields ever assembled at the Class A level toes the line for the 2.49 mile race.

   Not a lot of graduates from the top tier of runners from a year ago, so I'll list them briefly. 

7th -  McKayla Wieczorek West Central 15:18.23 

15th - Leah Deering Hot Springs 15:42.83 

    The rest of the field my cross country friends will be churned out by a bunch of young ladies intent on stamping their dominance on the rest of the field. 

      So, Maddie Lavin of Vermillion finished 2nd in the South Dakota state meet in 2012 as a 7th grader. She put her stamp on last year's race, winning the state title with a 14:45 as an 8th grader.

     But, the Class A field is loaded with a bunch of hungry runners, and one thing is certain, Lavin will have company throughout the state meet race.

     Mattie Fairburn of Lead/Deadwood finished second a season ago, 14:47 and Fairburn followed up her cross season with a healthy dose of medal haulage at the state track meet.

     Nicole Schmidt of Redfield/Doland finished 3rd at last year's state meet, 14:49, finishing just short of the top two.

     You cannot have this conversation without tossing in Madison's Hailey Steff. The Bulldog 10th grader had a horrible state cross country meet, but she came back and dominated the state track meet with impressive wins in the 1600 and 3200 meters.

   Let's take a look at some of these girls' track times.\

3200 meters:

Hailey Streff - 11:32

Mattie Fairburn - 11:42

Maddie Lavin - 11:49

1600 meters:

Streff - 5:08

Marion Hohn - Hill City - 5:11

Maddie Lavin - 5:11

Klaire Kirsch - STM - 5:25

Fairburn - 5:25

  While the state meet always features some new and surprising up and comers, I gotta think the race comes down to Vermillion's Lavin vs. Madison's Streff.

   I'm guessing Streff wants to redeem herself for last year's poor showing at the state meet, and I'm also guessing that Lavin wasn't too happy about playing third fiddle at the state track meet last season.

Other individuals to watch:

Custer's Tori Glazer - She's more comfy at 800 meters but if she had a good off-season and can stay with the leaders, she certainly has the best kick in the field.

And now the team contenders:

Garretson - The Blue Dragons return everyone from last year's state championship team 

1 3 Carmen Bohl 8 15:15.03 5 ( 58) Jaden Bly 10 17:35.08

2 4 Haley Sage 10 15:15.18 6 ( 71) Macey Bohl 9 17:59.28
3 21 Peyton Sage 8 16:23.93
4 25 Teisha Carnicle 11 16:35.88

Custer - The Lady Wildcats also return everyone from last year's runner-up team

Custer ( 16:07.68 1:04:30.72 1:02.00)
1 8 Tori Glazier 8 15:41.38 5 ( 45) Tayler Carlson 8 17:17.98
2 12 Mattisen Kelley 11 15:51.93 6 ( 76) Julianne Thomson 9 18:06.68
3 18 Jazmin Hitshew 10 16:14.03
4 28 Clara Sedlacek 7 16:43.38

Madison - The Lady Bulldog return everyone but their 5th runner from last year's 3rd place team:

3. 75 Madison ( 16:09.73 1:04:38.92 2:02.10)
1 2 Cami Streff 7 15:00.38 5 ( 63) Brooklynn Hodges 12 17:40.58
2 14 Emily Hawkes 11 16:02.73 6 ( 77) Ashley Stromberg 9 18:11.63
3 22 Maddie Nipe 11 16:33.33
4 37 Hailey Streff 9 17:02.48

Darkhorse - Todd County

    The cross country world is about to get introduced to Todd County 7th grader Kelsey Herman. Herman had a monster track season last spring and she'll likely be right there with Todd County's other top runners.

    Haylee Quick Bear ran for St. Francis last season and finished 14th. She will be on the Falcons roster this fall.

     Amory Prue, 10th grader, was on the podium in 2012 and could help a very solid Todd County team get in the mix.

     Hope you enjoyed...have a great fall season.

Follow me @panicgalore for more great cross country tidbits.

Is Timpanogos runner Mary Christensen the class of the Utah 4A cross country realm?

Timpanogos senior Mary Christensen could be the runner to beat in Utahs 4A division

By Rich Winter

  There was no doubt as to whom the dominant runner in the girl's 4A division of Utah cross country was last season. Ogden's Sarah Feeny, now at the University of Utah, crushed the field at the state meet with a 17:25 over 5000 meters.

   So dominant was Feeny, her nearest competitor, Hannah Malone of Box Elder was some 48 second behind.

    Feeney and Malone have both graduated so the 4A race could be something of a surprise this season.

  Let's take a look at the contenders and their place at the state meet a year ago.

3rd - Mary Christensen - Timpanogos - 18:17

4th - Milika Holbrook - Woods Cross - 18:18

5th - Britney Lund - Maple Mountain - 18:22 (junior)

6th - Megan Gutke - Maple Mountain - 18:30 (junior)

9th - Eleanor Wettstein - East - 18:43

10th - Maranda Garrett - 18:52

14th - Kate Hunter - Provo - 19:00 (sophomore this year)

    With Feeny out of the way, this year's class of non champions should be getting after it all year long.

   Christensen, on paper, should be the favorite as the Timberwolves have a very solid program.

   I like Britney Lund of Maple Mountain to have a good showing this year because there is nothing better than training with a talented teammate and she has that in Gutke. 

The team race: 

  While Ogden lost a ton at the top, the girls from Ogden know what they're doing and I expect a pretty strong showing by the time the team reaches the state meet.

  Timpanogos will be strong, as will Skyline and Maple Mountain.

 Pretty big meet in Salt Lake City on Wednesday at the Cottonwood Complex starting at 3:00 p.m.