Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



DeShaun Watson Proving He Belongs in the NFL 0

Posted on September 30, 2017 by Dean Hybl
DeShaun Watson has already proven that he belongs on the field with the Houston Texans.

DeShaun Watson has already proven that he belongs on the field with the Houston Texans.

Sometimes the decisions made by teams in the NFL Draft can be very strange. Generally, the NFL is a performance-based league, however, when it comes to draft picks, and most especially quarterbacks, choices are often made based on projected ability, instead of how someone has actually performed on the football field.

That was certainly the case in the 2017 NFL Draft when two quarterbacks with relatively average college pedigrees were chosen ahead of one of the most successful quarterbacks in recent college football history. Something that can be confusing and frustrating for those who follow US Sportsbooks.

While DeShaun Watson was leading the Clemson Tigers to back-to-back National Championship Games following the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Mitch Trubisky at the University of North Carolina and Pat Mahaomes at Texas Tech were playing on mediocre teams.

Trubisky spent two seasons as a backup quarterback at UNC before he finally earned the starting spot for the 2016 season. Though he was a solid quarterback in his 13 stats, his performance on an 8-5 team hardly give the impression he was the next great NFL player.

While Trubisky tossed 30 touchdowns on the season with only six interceptions, in the five UNC losses, he threw only eight touchdowns while suffering all six of his interceptions. His worst performance of the season was against Virginia Tech when he completed only 39.4% of his passes for 58 yards and two interceptions.

Yet, the Chicago Bears thought enough of Trubisky to trade up to pick him with the second pick in the 2017 Draft.

The son of a former Major League Baseball pitcher, Mahomes had significantly more experience than Trubisky during his three college seasons.

Playing on a Texas Tech team that had only one winning year in his three seasons, Mahomes saw significant action as a freshman before starting the last two seasons.

The Red Raiders posted a 12-13 record during those two years while making one bowl appearance. Mahomes racked up huge numbers over the last two seasons tossing 77 touchdowns with 25 interception and compiling over 9,700 yards through the air. For his career, Mahomes completed 63.5% of his passes for 11,252 yards, 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Championship Preview: Can Alabama Stop DeShaun Watson? 1

Posted on January 07, 2016 by Jim Hurley
The Alabama Crimson Tide will have to stop Heisman finalist DeShaun Watson if they hope to win another national title.

The Alabama Crimson Tide will have to stop Heisman finalist DeShaun Watson if they hope to win another national title.

We’re down to one more game in the college football season. On Monday night in Glendale, Alabama plays Clemson for the national championship. The Crimson Tide are a six-point favorite. What way do you play it?

Let’s begin by saying that the fluctuations of the pointspread mean that shopping for the right price and timing will be important. Some books in Las Vegas have the line as high as (-7). If you’re a Clemson backer you’d clearly like to get a clean touchdown. Just as clearly, Alabama bettors only want to give 6 or 6.5.

Both teams rolled through their semifinal games on New Year’s Eve and both did it by pulling away in the second half. Clemson trailed Oklahoma 17-16 at the half before ripping off twenty unanswered points to win 37-17. Alabama led Michigan State 10-0 at intermission before four unanswered touchdowns led to a 38-0 rout. The Tigers & Tide are clearly the best two teams in the country and playing like it right now.

Let’s begin with the keys for Clemson. It all starts with quarterback DeShaun Watson, a dual-threat quarterback who used his running to great effect against Oklahoma, rushing for 145 yards. Watson also ran well in his team’s biggest games this year, going for 93 against Notre Dame, 107 against Florida State and 131 in the win over North Carolina.

The performance against Florida State is most relevant here because the Seminoles were a top five defense this season. With their speed on the edge, Florida State is the only team that comes even close to providing a test case for what might happen against Alabama. The fact Watson was able to make hay on the ground against FSU provides reasonable hope he might be able to do on Monday night.

Running back Wayne Gallman was vital in the win over Oklahoma, gaining 150 yards and that was no fluke. He also went over 100 yards against Florida State and North Carolina and got close to that against Notre Dame in monsoon-like conditions. Gallman and Watson together make for a diversified running attack where a defense can’t just focus on one player.

The key is going to be throwing the football. Michigan State had opportunities in the first half to make plays in the passing game, but drops killed one drive and an ill-advised pass that was intercepted on the goal line killed another. If Sparty doesn’t make those mistakes, they might have been tied at the half and who knows how the second half unfolds.

Watson’s season-long passing numbers are impressive, but he was erratic against Oklahoma, completing 16/31 for 187 yards and missing some receivers that were clearly open. There won’t be nearly as many opportunities against Alabama, and Watson can’t leave plays on the field, especially early in the game the way Michigan State did. If Clemson is going to win, we need to see the Watson that went 28/42 for 297 yards against Florida State.

Defensively, the Tigers have playmakers, but the health of Shaq Lawson is going to be crucial. The talented defensive end left the Oklahoma game in the first half with a knee injury, but is expected to play. He needs to be able to pressure the quarterback for Clemson to win.

On the other side of the defense is another terrific playmaker in Kevin Dodd. At linebacker, Clemson is anchored by B.J. Goodson, who is both steady at making the sure tackle and capable of blowing up a play behind the line of scrimmage. The top corner, Cordea Tankersley, leads the team in interception with five picks and it’s likely Clemson will need to get some mistakes from Alabama quarterback Jake Coker if they’re going to win this game. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Bowl Preview Part 2: Sizing Up the Big 6 Bowls 3

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Jim Hurley
The health of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook could be a big factor in their Cotton Bowl game against Alabama.

The health of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook could be a big factor in their Cotton Bowl game against Alabama.

The biggest college football games of the season are here! The six major bowl games will run on December 31-January 1, with the two biggest—the Playoff semifinals situated within the New Year’s Eve schedule. Whether you wager or simply want to watch, our job is to have you ready.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled the “Tale of The Tape”, a concise snapshot of all six games. It’s not comprehensive—if you actually plan to bet, this is a starting point not a finishing point. But it will provide the framework for an enjoyable (and profitable, if you’re so inclined) run of watching games.

Our tale of the tape includes…

*The basics of W-L record and most importantly, strength of schedule. The latter has to be a significant factor in how you weigh every other piece of data. Some of us rely on complex computer models to do it, others just keep it in the back of their mind. Just make sure you keep it in mind.

*Each team’s national ranking on offense and defense, as measured by points allowed.

*The basic stats of each team’s quarterback—their completion percentage, yards-per-attempt and TD/INT ratio.

*A notable player on the team besides the quarterback—usually an elite running back or defensive playmaker, and occasionally a wide receiver.

Now let’s dive into the games, in sequential order…

December 31: Peach Bowl—Florida State (-7) Houston (Noon ET, ESPN)
Houston: 12-1 (Schedule ranks 99th)
Offense: 10th
Defense: 23rd
QB: Greg Ward Jr: 68% 8.5 YPA, 16/5 and also ran for over 1,000 yards)
Notable: Linebackers Elandon Roberts & Steven Taylor combined for 33 tackles for loss

Florida State: 10-2 (56th)
Offense: 41st
Defense: 5th
QB: Sean Maguire: 62%, 7.8 YPA, 11/3
Notable: Running back Dalvin Cook rushed for 1,658 yards (7.9 yards per carry)

Comment: It will be Maguire at quarterback for Florida State, with Everett Golson not making the trip to Atlanta. The balance of Houston both offensively and defensively gives them a shot at an upset, but the concern is that the offense is so heavily reliant on Ward that the excellent FSU defense may be position to dominate the football game.

December 31: Orange Bowl—Oklahoma (-3) Clemson (4 PM ET, ESPN)
Clemson: 13-0 (39th)
Offense: 15th
Defense: 19th
QB: DeShaun Watson: 70%, 8.5 YPA, 30/11
Notable: Defensive ends Shaq Lawson & Kevin Dodd have combined for 37 tackles for loss and 18 sacks

Oklahoma: 11-1 (27th)
Offense: 1st
Defense: 24th
QB: Baker Mayfield: 69%, 9.6 YPA, 35/5
Notable: Samaje Perine rushed for 1,291 yards at 6.1 per carry

Comment: Those talented Clemson defensive ends need to win their battles or it will be long day for the Tiger secondary given how hot Mayfield is. The bigger area of concern for betting Oklahoma is the question of how much those dazzling offensive numbers are a product of playing in the wide-open Big 12 and the tendency of high-stakes bowl games to be a bit more conservative.

December 31: Cotton Bowl–Alabama (-8.5) Michigan State (8 PM ET, ESPN)
Alabama: 12-1 (17th)
Offense: 31st
Defense: 3rd
QB: Jake Coker: 66%, 7.4 YPA, 17/8
Notable: Heisman Trophy winning RB Derrick Henry ran for 1,986 yards

Michigan State: 12-1 (5th)
Offense: 45th
Defense: 22nd
QB: Connor Cook: 57%, 7.9 YPA, 24/5
Notable: Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge caught 79 passes for over 1,200 yards

Comment: The health of Cook’s shoulder is the overriding factor in this game. When healthy, he is by far the superior quarterback. When banged up, as he has been at the end of this season, he’s statistically inferior to Coker. Note that if you wager this game make sure to shop prices. The line of 8.5 can also go as high as 10 depending on the sportsbook. Read the rest of this entry →

Will the North Carolina Tar Heels Spoil Clemson’s Championship Party? 1

Posted on December 03, 2015 by Jim Hurley
The only loss for Marquise Williams and the UNC Tar Heels this season was the season opener to South Carolina. Another Palmetto State team will look to recreate history in the ACC Championship Game.

The only loss for Marquise Williams and the UNC Tar Heels this season was the season opener to South Carolina. Another Palmetto State team will look to recreate history in the ACC Championship Game.

If you’re hoping for some drama in the unveiling of the four-team College Football Playoff this coming Sunday, then your best hope is for North Carolina to upset top-ranked Clemson as (+5) underdog in the ACC Championship Game. If you’re a handicapper, it’s just as important to be aware of how strongly the Tar Heels are coming, both on the football field and at the betting window.

North Carolina lost its season-opener to South Carolina 17-13. It’s a mark of how long ago that was, that the Tar Heels were actually a (+1.5) dog to the Gamecocks, who have gone on to a disastrous season. North Carolina hasn’t lost since.

The turnaround wasn’t apparent immediately. While UNC won their next six games, it was a soft part of the schedule. The most impressive wins were against disappointing Georgia Tech, Illinois and Virginia—all of whom finished with losing records.

Then came a Thursday Night visit to Pittsburgh on October 29 to start the meat of the schedule, the games that would determine the winner of the ACC’s Coastal Division. North Carolina stepped it up in a big way—not only did they win their final five games, but they covered the number four times. The finishing surge made UNC 8-4 ATS (against the spread).

This five-game stretch started with the prime-time win at Pitt, and included home victories over Duke and Miami. North Carolina then survived Virginia Tech in overtime—the one non-cover in this schedule sequence, and closed out the season with a win over N.C. State.

All of these games were against bowl-bound teams and all except Virginia Tech finished with at least seven wins—and even at Virginia Tech, North Carolina had to deal with an exceptionally pumped-up Hokie team for head coach Frank Beamer’s final home game. Read the rest of this entry →

Saturday Will Tell If Clemson and Georgia Are Contenders Or Pretenders 1

Posted on October 01, 2015 by Jim Hurley
Saturday's game against Notre DDame wiill tell if Dabo Swinney and Clemson have a chance at reaching the College Football Playoffs.

Saturday’s game against Notre Dame will tell if Dabo Swinney and Clemson have a chance at reaching the College Football Playoffs.

Georgia and Clemson are long-time rivals on the field, but they have one thing in common off the field and at the betting window—they have a tendency to play below expectations. Whether it’s aggravating their own fan bases with a crushing loss just when a corner seems to have been turned, or playing just well enough to win, but not cover the number, the Bulldogs and Tigers have a knack for pulling the rug out from under you.

Now, both programs in the national spotlight on Saturday, each undefeated and each with showcase home games. Georgia hosts Alabama (3:30 PM ET, CBS) and Clemson will get a visit from Notre Dame (8 PM ET, ABC) in the day’s two best games that you can watch back-to-back. Will the home teams finally meet their moment?

Let’s begin by giving some context of the last two seasons, because I want to make clear I’m not implying these programs can’t play good football. They can. Clemson is 19-5 over the last two regular seasons and has bowl victories over Ohio State and Oklahoma. Georgia is 17-7 in that same timeframe, and if we go back one year earlier to 2012, the Bulldogs were one play away from winning the SEC title and likely converting that into a national championship.

But each team has been consistently been overrated by the oddsmakers. In the same two-year period where Clemson was winning 19 regular season games on the field, their bettors in Las Vegas only cashed 11 pointspread winners—against 13 losers. With Georgia, that 17-7 straight-up record becomes 10-13-1 when we measure it against Vegas expectations. That’s the roundabout way of saying that Clemson and Georgia have spent two years being bad bets.

Now each team steps onto a big national stage for this first Saturday of October. Over the first month of the season, there’s reason for cautious optimism with Georgia, but guarded skepticism with Clemson.

Clemson is 1-2 against the spread thus far. On a recent Thursday night appearance against Louisville, the Tigers barely survived a very young Cardinal team 20-17, failing to cover as a five-point favorite. Sophomore quarterback DeShaun Watson is talented, but has his inconsistencies. He threw two interceptions against the Cards and failed to generate much in the way of a downfield passing attack.

The rush defense was exposed in an earlier game against Appalachian State, giving up over 200 yards on the ground and allowing 4.5 yards per carry. With Notre Dame and its physical offensive line leading the way for C.J. Prosise, that’s a problem. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

    8mm film to digital
  • Current Poll

    Who Do You Want to Win? Roger Goodell or Jerry Jones?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top