It’s a terrifying time of the year. No news is good news in my book when it comes to NFL training camp season. I grit my teeth as headlines pop up on sports pages and hope continually for the best. It’s literally “Please don’t get hurt” season in the NFL.
So instead of worrying about things we can’t control, let’s take a look around and see what these dog days have to offer the local sports fan.
NFL’s latest mess
Raise you hand if you understand the new NFL helmet rule? I don’t understand it. Players and coaches don’t understand it. I’m assuming referees don’t understand it either.
I do understand that the NFL is trying to protect players from concussions, which I’m all for, but the NFL is three weeks away from real football and there is too much confusion on what is an allowable tackle. The rule states “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that most tackles involve some part of the head colliding into an opponent. The sport is fast. That’s just the way it is.
Check out what was once known as picture-perfect tackling form but is now a penalty in the NFL to see how bad it’s going to get this year. This is going to be a mess unless the NFL saves itself from…itself.
Another controversy that will make fans lose their lids is the new emphasis on protecting the quarterbacks during a slide. Now, quarterbacks are considered as “giving themselves up” (and can’t legally be hit) when diving head first, when previously they had to slide feet first to get that protection.
So, the way I read it is always give your quarterback the ball when you only need a yard. Joking, but only sort of. But honestly, what is a defensive player supposed to do when he has to stop the quarterback from gaining a yard or scoring at the goal line?
But hey, why should we expect the NFL to make sense? This is the league that suspends players longer for smoking a joint than it does for domestic violence. This is also the league that can’t get out of its own way concerning the anthem and has denied the league’s concussion crisis for years. It’s all par for the course, I guess.
Tulane’s New Faces
I’ve always been a fan of coaches who seemingly will turn over every rock in the football world to try to improve their team. Tulane’s head coach Willie Fritz seems to be one of those guys.
Fritz, in his third year, has assembled the best collection of talent that Uptown has seen in quite awhile. Fritz has groomed the talent he was given and signed some strong classes at Tulane. His staff has also scoured the countryside and picked up some talented players via transfers.
Tulane’s latest hit was signing quarterback Keon Howard out of the University of Southern Mississippi. Howard will sit out this year and compete for the starting spot next year that will open up after Tulane’s star quarterback Jonathan Banks graduates. Howard split time at quarterback last year, starting seven contests for the Golden Eagles and threw for 1,199 yards with eight touchdowns against only five interceptions.
The Green Wave have a few transfers that will see significant playing time this season. Offensive tackle Noah Fisher will bolster an offensive unit that returns nine starters. Fisher transferred in from South Alabama where he was named second team All-Sun Belt and had started 25 straight games. Fisher will line up beside Hunter Knighton, who is a graduate transfer from the University of Miami and played in 10 games last year for the Green Wave.
The two linemen will hopefully be creating big holes for running back Corey Dauphine, a transfer from Texas Tech. Dauphine has looked impressive in camp and, after sitting out last season, could make a major impact. In a year that should feature an increased air attack it will be interesting to see if the Green Wave feature one back. If they do, Dauphine could be their number one option.
Remember how I told you that I hate looking at headlines during camp? Football giveth, and football taketh away.
Graduate transfer Freddy Canteen won’t play this season as he has re-injured the shoulder that kept him out of all but three games last year for the Irish. Canteen was getting reps with the first team in camp and the Green Wave had high hopes for the kid. Unfortunately, those hopes are now in the past. However, fortunately for the Green Wave, Tulane returns their top two receivers in Terren Encalade and Darnell Mooney.
It takes a lot to get me excited about preseason football. Make no mistake, outside of the one-and-a-half quarters that the starters will play in the third pseudo-game, preseason is pretty much a snooze fest.
That’s why it’s fun to have Taysom Hill or, since he went to BYU, I like to call him “Wholesome” Taysom.
Hill, possibly the most famous backup quarterback-slash-special teamer in the NFL, is putting pressure on veteran Tom Savage for right to backup Drew Brees and Hill impressed in last week’s game against Jacksonville. Sure, it’s preseason and it was in the second half but when you hit eight out of nine passes and lead the team to a fourth quarter victory it means something. Hill also added 50 yards on the ground in about as exciting of a performance that you’ll see during August football.
Oh yeah, he came this close to blocking a punt, as well. It was just an all-around old-timey performance. Sure, come September he’ll be back on special teams and Brees definitely isn’t looking over his shoulder but I bet Savage is.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Cajun Brewing’s “Cajun” Wit
*Get this beer while you can as the brewery has officially closed.
Playlist Recommendation: Foo Fighters – “This Is A Call”