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Can you handle the pressure?
One of the coolest things about writing is that every so often an advance copy of a book lands on your desk for review. Now, I love me some free stuff but, to be honest, most are met with a shrug of my shoulders and thrown onto a growing pile of the unread. On the other hand, sometimes my interest is immediately piqued, like when I received the advance copy of “In The Name of the Father,” by Mark Ribowsky.
The book tells the story of the Manning family and is a perfect way to slide into football season. I knocked out a few of the early chapters and as far as I can tell, at least early on, the book isn’t going to hold back any punches. The introduction and prologue both jab at Peyton and Eli Manning’s respective careers and takes a few swipes at Archie Manning as well. Of course, I’m going to assume, there will be a lot of praise along the way but the pressure of being a Manning seems to be a theme that will be expounded upon.
What is football without the accompanying pressure? Pro golf, I guess.
The theme of pressure, as in how to handle it, will be at the forefront of the story that will be told about this year’s incarnations of the New Orleans Saints, Tulane Green Wave and, yes, even the Nicholls State Colonels. But before we get into what each of those clubs has to contend with I would like to give a shout out to Eli Manning, who offered me a beer as he was leaving the parades earlier this year. Best friends forever!
New Orleans Saints
Pressure comes in many forms. On a player level, the Saints have quite a few sophomore slumps to dodge this year. Alvin Kamara, who in one year went from an underutilized second option at the University of Tennessee to shredding the NFL for 6.1 yards a carry, 14 touchdowns, 826 yards receiving and 728 yards rushing will be the focal point of the Saints rushing attack as Mark Ingram sits out his four-game suspension. On the other side of the ball, fellow Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore has to follow one of the best rookie seasons posted by a defensive back in, I don’t know, ever?
It’s a helluva lot to live up to. In addition to those two, second year starter Ryan Ramczyk will have to keep up his solid play and Drew Brees upright for the Saints to have another title run and don’t forget about safety Marcus Williams, who after a stellar rookie campaign will somehow, some way, due to the last play of last season, be on a “comeback” trail, even though his play absolutely shined last year.
I could make a reference to Drew Brees having the pressure of dealing with Father Time but Brees is still Brees and maybe always will be.
As a team, the burden will be the same. Just keep collecting those wins and hopefully when we all look up in December the Saints will be headed to the playoffs again. As always, it’s going to be a nail biter in the NFC South. These teams are always close and the definition of parity (well, okay, maybe not Tampa Bay) which is best exemplified by the team records over the last 15 years. New Orleans stands at 131-109, the Carolina Panthers are 130-109-1 and the Atlanta Falcons check in at 130-110. That’s tight.
*Marshon Lattimore, Associated Press
Tulane Green Wave
You might not know it from walking around town or the lack of crowds that show up to Yulman Stadium but there is pressure on the Green Wave this year. This pressure is of the “Don’t Regress” kind of pressure.
Coach Willie Fritz is in his third year with the Green Wave and the team has steadily improved each season (4-8 in his first year, 5-7 last year). The team could have gone bowling last year if not for being robbed by the referees in a loss at SMU (#BanksWasIn). Be that as it may, the buzz is that this team could go bowling this year and Uptown will hopefully be there to support the team on their quest.
It won’t be easy, but the American Athletic Conference schedule isn’t that bad. The Green Wave doesn’t have to play the UCF Knights this year and play Memphis and Navy at home. Their toughest road tests will be at Houston and South Florida.
Yes it is a team sport and Tulane has more talent than it has had in ages but none of this talk is possible if not for senior quarterback Jonathan Banks. If you didn’t check him out last year get on the bandwagon right now. Banks is absolutely going to rip up the American Athletic Conference this year.
Nicholls State Colonels
That’s no misprint. I am talking about our friends from Thibodaux, the Nicholls State Colonels. This team got a taste of the FCS playoffs last year, the first time they’ve gone to the postseason since 2005, and now has the pressure to continue their winning ways without the luxury of sneaking up on anyone.
The coaches noticed and voted Nicholls State to finish second in the Southland Conference behind Sam Houston State. Junior quarterback Chase Fourcade (preseason First Team all-conference selection) and the Colonels will have a lot of company as they are packed in with Central Arkansas and a McNeese State squad that will be playing with a Thibodaux-sized chip on its shoulder after a year in which Nicholls took the Cowboys’ spot in the FCS playoffs. Don’t sleep on this race in the Southland, as plenty will be determined early on in the season, as Nicholls travels to Lake Charles to play the Cowboys on Sept. 15 and then turns around and hosts Sam Houston State the following week.
We’re about forty days away from real football, New Orleans. Can you feel it?
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Wayward Owl Brewing’s “Dat Radler” German Style Ale
Playlist Recommendation: Queen, Annie Lennox & David Bowie – “Under Pressure”
Editor’s Note: Full Sport Press is the proud recipient of the Press Club of New Orleans Excellence in Journalism Award for Best Sports Blog in New Orleans! This is the second time since the blog’s inception that it has won the award. Thank you to the PCNO and, as always, to all of our readers.