#MambaOut: My thoughts on Kobe’s final game.

I sat on an airplane from Houston to Tampa, when I tried to collect my thoughts after I watched FSU beat Auburn in thrilling fashion, for the National Championship. (Here’s a shameless plug, but you can read about it here.) Now I sit in the same situation, although this time traveling from Los Angeles to Austin. I’m still sort of in a state of shock, but I’ll try to be concise and not bore you to death, since you did me the honor of reading this rambling mess in the first place.

Oh, where to begin? I guess we can go back 4 and a half months to November 29th, 2015. This comes as a shock to very few of you, but I happened to be sitting on my couch, on Twitter, when Kobe announced his retirement. I quickly read his letter (“Dear Basketball”) and thought to myself, “I’ve got to see him play one more time.” The Lakers had already taken their annual trips to Miami and Orlando (the games that would be the most convienent for me to attend.) The next best thing would have been to see him play in Atlanta, but the game was that weekend, and I had a prior engagement that I couldn’t miss. I guess at that point, I just kind of thought, “Go Big or Go Home.” So, I did. I immediately purchased 2 tickets for the last Lakers game of the season. Game 82, in Staples, Kobe’s finale.

Fortunately, I was able to get my tickets before they spiked astronomically. I still paid decent money for them, but I’ll tell you they were going for 4 times as much on the day of the game. I was pretty fortunate to get them when I did.

Stubhub got some flak recently for  not fulfilling a buyer’s request for a couple of tickets to last night’s game. The seller didn’t upload the tickets and the buyer was left ticketless. I had a similar situation. My seller didn’t upload my tickets either, however, Stubhub gave me comparable tickets as part of their Buyer Protection Guarantee. I’m really not sure why my situation and the other one that I shared the link to were handled so differently. But, I am thankful for it.

So, fast forward to 4/13/16. It’s #MambaDay. My wife, Cara, and I get on a plane in Tampa and head to Kansas City. We have some BBQ and then leave for Los Angeles. Once we get to the City of Angels, we do what all tourists do there, head to In-N-Out Burger. Let me just tell you something, as a sidebar. In-N-Out is possibly the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. It’s undoubtably the best fast food burger that I’ve ever had. If you go to a city with it, get it. If you don’t like it, message me. I’ll pay for it. Unreal.


After scarfing down our burgers, we headed down to Staples Center. It was about 4:30 pm. The Lakers held Fan Fest and the area around the arena was flooded with people, many of whom weren’t even attending the game. There were games for kids, bouncy houses, opportunities to take pictures with the Laker Girls or the 5 Larry O’Brien trophies that the team had won with Kobe on the roster, and just about anything else you could think of that would be fun for a Lakers fan. We opted to stand in line to take a picture with the 5 Finals Trophies. It was a neat experience and something that I likely won’t have the chance to do anytime soon.

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Game time was approaching and it was time to go inside. We stood in a line for what may have been near 45 minutes just to get in. Another fan passed by and told us there was no line on the other side. We sprinted over and got in much faster than we would have in the first line. (In all reality, I don’t think we would have seen the pregame ceremonies if we didn’t go to the other entrance.)

There was a buzz in the arena. It was my 4th time seeing an NBA game at Staples Center. I was fortunate enough to even see Boston play LA there a few years ago. But, this was so different. I won’t bore you with details of the pregame ceremonies. You can watch the videos online. But, they were spectacular, and yes, I did tear up several times.


The game was great. Again, you can go watch the highlights better than I can describe what happened. A play-by-play of the game, isn’t the reason I’m writing this. Kobe started slow, but then picked it up quickly. Every single time he touched the ball, fans cheered. Even when he made free throws, fans stood up and applauded him.

We’ll move along to the 4th quarter; late in the 4th quarter , to be exact. The crowd went nuts when he hit 40 points. The Lakers looked to be out of the game, but that didn’t seem to phase fans much. Then he hit 50. What a night. LA was still down big with time dwindling, but who could be upset? The Mamba was going for 50 points in his last game ever.

Then something happened. Something that was incredible happened. Kobe reverted back to Vintage Mamba. He went into take over mode. He nailed shot after shot until the Lakers were back in the game. Staples was electric. The crowd was as insane as I’ve ever seen. Of course, in true Hollywood fashion, Kobe hit a 3 to bring the Lakers to within 1 and then hit the game winner with just over 30 seconds left. A couple of free throws would give him 60 points for the night. Mamba exited stage right to a roar and a standing ovation.

after game

After the game, he spoke to the crowd. He was drained. He had given it all. But, he found a few words that brought cheers and roars from the LA faithful. After he spoke, confetti, streamers, and balloons fell from the ceiling. The Lakers wrapped up the worst season in the franchise’s history with an epic party, in true LA fashion. It was incredible.


We left the arena, went back to the hotel, and crashed. Then, we got up early this morning, hopped on a plane at LAX, and now I’m writing this to you, now. So, we’re caught up. That’s the end of the story, right? Nope. I’ll ask for your attention for just a couple more moments.

A question was posed to me on Twitter, asking how this compared to the last sporting event that I attended in LA. (Well, Pasadena, but let’s not do the whole “Well, actually…” thing.) My good friend, Toby, asked this:

Phenomenal question. Two similar games. Two similar finishes. Both games involved my favorite two athletes leading incredible comebacks in the final game of the season. Both games went down to the wire. Both games featured incredible atmospheres.

As far as the actual play, I’ll take Kobe’s shot all day. Winston to Kelvin was a sure thing. FSU had 1st and Goal from the 2 yard line. There were 17 seconds left and the Seminoles had a timeout. We weren’t not scoring in that situation. Kobe’s was shooting under 50% for the game. He had a very realistic chance to miss it. Except for the fact that he’s Kobe Bryant, and making clutch shots is what he does. Still, though, give me Kobe’s shot.

I do want to spend just a moment comparing the actual games, though. The biggest difference, obviously, was that one game was for a Championship and one game was meaningless. Or was it? Was last night’s game truly meaningless? Ask the city of Los Angeles if it was. Ask the NBA if it was. Ask the Lakers Franchise if it was. Ask the Mamba himself if it was. The answer is simply: no. It wasn’t a meaningless game. Did the game have playoff significance or impact? Nope, not at all. But, don’t confuse that with being meaningless. This game meant more to the Lakers, Kobe Bryant, and fans than any game that’s taken place since LA defeated Boston in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. We watch sports for the entertainment value. If the game was meaningless, Kobe wouldn’t still be trending the way he is. If the game was meaningless, the price to get in the arena on the day of the game wouldn’t have topped $1,000 like it did. If the game was meaningless, you wouldn’t be reading this post right now.

Surely, the result of the National Championship by FSU mattered more. Championships are why you play. But, don’t think for even just a moment that this game not having playoff implications has any impact on it’s historical significance.

When looking at FSU’s National Championship game and Kobe’s final game, it’s really tough to pick one or the other. I appreciate both games so much. I think that when looking at the games, with context, FSU’s win getting a trophy, I’d have to put that game (and finish) slightly ahead of Kobe’s last game. But, all things being equal, and just looking at the game (not the implications), give me Kobe’s final virtuoso performance all day. Maybe I’m just caught up in the moment. Maybe, I’ll change my mind as time goes on. But, I’ve watched Kobe for 20 years. I’ve waited to see a game like this for about 3 years. He finally did it. He finished in classic Black Mamba fashion. He was as clutch as he’s ever been. But, lastly, he let me see the greatest game that I’ve ever seen in my life. For that, I’m forever thankful.

Well, there you have it. My thoughts (rambling and boring at times I’m sure) on my trip, the game, and where I rank it on my personal list of games that I’ve attended. I really appreciate the calls, texts, tweets, and posts of support. I know some of you are diehard Lakers/Kobe haters, but still were happy for me that I got to attend such a phenomenal event. That’s the mark of true friendship, and I’m thankful for each of you. I’m not sure what crazy thing I’ll see next (hopefully it’s a Super Bowl with Mr. Winston at the helm), but I’m sure I’ll write some crazy long blog post and ask you all to read that also. But, as for now, I’ll just be happy with this.

Forever a Kobe Stan,

TJ Pittinger

in front of staples


A Letter To The Greatest


Here’s an open letter to Kobe Bryant from my best friend, Cameron Bolton.


This is for the greatest competitor of all time, the Black Mamba, the cold-blooded killer, the 5 time NBA champion, the league MVP, the finals MVP, and the third leading scorer in NBA history. This is for the 81 points, and for driving your body into the ground night after night trying to give your fans what you believed they deserved, for this I want to say “Thank You!” Thank you for converting one of your biggest haters into one of your biggest fans (although TJ Pittinger would probably try to take some credit). Thank you for turning me back on to basketball, and for being the shining example of what it takes to be the greatest. You, Kobe Bryant, are the G.O.A.T.!


For years I watched you, hated you, claimed that you would never be the one who took basketball into the post Jordan years. You were the one we were supposed to hate, not because of your fierce competitive nature, or your abilities, but because you were brought into the league being compared to the man everyone idolized.


After Jordan retired, professional basketball was almost dead to me. From the last Bulls-Jazz game, I didn’t watch another game until LA’s Finals against the 76ers, In that series my allegiances fell with Iverson and his overmatched group. The next time I watched the NBA, it was the newly formed big three of the Celtics who stood in your way. That hard-fought series is where you began to win me over. I watched you play with the effort and intensity that many of us dream we could conjure up. You took that defeat to heart, and for the next four years turned into the player that so many of us thought would only exist once. The difference, you took it one step further. Your legend was born and continues to live on in your work ethic.


As fans, we saw the fruits, not the labor. These legends were hearsay. We saw the wins, the championships, and the run that took your body to the brink of failure. For years you have been greatness incarnate. Never accepting defeat, only allowing it to fuel your fire, and be the venom in your strike. Night after night you gave us things to cheer for, reasons to scream M-V-P, M-V-P! When tragedy struck, in Kobe fashion, you showed the world what it meant to be the greatest competitor to ever live. Two free throws on a torn Achilles just proved that physically you could be injured, but mentally you could never be defeated. Your resiliency has shown us that whatever life throws at us; it can never defeat our will.


There is no other player to compare you to, because you have out worked and out willed them all. Few can say they were more naturally talented basketball players, but none can say they worked harder. For Kobe Bean Bryant, your will to be the greatest is what makes you just that. For the game of basketball, you are THE ONE! I believe I can speak on behalf of all of us who know on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, the greatest basketball player to ever live is hanging it up, and we want to say THANK YOU! Kobe Bryant, YOU WILL BE MISSED!


kobe 81 1500x1500

Follow Cameron on Twitter – @TheCoachCam

This week’s rooting guide and NY6 Breakdown.

I’ll try to be more brief in this post. If you’re looking for something to fill time this Game Day Eve (or if you need to get caught up) you can go read my first and second posts. Based on the National Landscape, it seems that things have become even more simple for FSU to make a New Year’s Six Bowl: Win the next two games. That’s about it. Beat Chattanooga. Beat Florida. We’re in. I wouldn’t say this is an absolute solid. We still need Clemson and Notre Dame to win out, in my estimation. A couple other things happening wouldn’t hurt, either. But, I’ll just basically leave you with this cheering guide for this weekend. So, here we go.

Wake Forest at #1 Clemson 3:30 PM ESPN 2
Charleston Southern at #2 Alabama 4:00 PM SEC Net
#9 Michigan State at #3 Ohio State 3:30 PM ABC
Boston College at #4 Notre Dame 7:30 PM NBCSN
Purdue at #5 Iowa 12:00 PM ESPN 2
#10 Baylor at #6 Oklahoma St. 7:30 PM FOX
#18 TCU at #7 Oklahoma 8:00 PM ABC
Florida Atlantic at #8 Florida 12:00 PM SEC Net
California at #11 Stanford 10:30 PM ESPN
#12 Michigan at Penn St. 12:00 PM ABC
UCLA at #13 Utah 3:30 PM FOX
Chattanooga at #14 Florida St. 3:00 PM ESPN 3
#15 LSU at #22 Ole Miss 3:30 PM CBS
#16 Navy at Tulsa 7:00 PM CBSSN
#17 North Carolina at Virginia Tech 12:00 PM ESPN
#19 Houston at Connecticut 3:30 PM ESPN U
#20 Northwestern at #25 Wisconsin 3:30 PM BTN
#21 Memphis at Temple 12:00 PM ESPN U
#24 Southern Cal at #23 Oregon 3:30 PM ESPN

The only game I didn’t pick was the LSU vs Ole Miss game. I think for the NY6, FSU likely needs Ole Miss to win that game. But, because Noles don’t really want to see Les Miles get fired (for obvious reasons), it might be better long term for LSU to win that game. So, that’s an interesting one. I do think if both LSU and FSU win out, the Noles will finish ahead of them, because the Noles are currently ranked ahead of the Tigers and FSU has a Top 10 game coming up next week.

The other thing I wanted to talk about was the Big 12. I think we’re in pretty good shape here, no matter what. I honestly think that only 2 Big 12 teams are going to go to either the Playoff/NY6 Bowls. It’d be great if only one did, but I don’t think enough carnage can happen for this. But, we’ll see. I think best case scenario is for there to be no undefeated Big 12 teams, though. I think that Baylor needs to knock off OKST this weekend so that there isn’t an undefeated Big 12 team that could potentially jump ND and knock the Irish out of the playoff (moving them into the NY6 instead of FSU.)

Also, I’m staying with the fact that I think FSU needs Ohio State to run the table, which would knock Michigan and Michigan State down (presumably behind FSU after the Noles play UF.)  Clemson winning out is still big. As is Alabama, in my estimation. UNC losing a game before the ACCCG wouldn’t hurt anything either. They may be FSU’s biggest competition to getting to a New Year’s Six Bowl. If they win out and play Clemson really close, they could jump FSU. But, we’ll see.

Next week will be a more fun week and we’ll know exactly what we need heading into the last week of the regular season (for most teams). The Noles likely can’t be eliminated from a NY6 bowl this Saturday, but they also can’t clinch it. They can take care of their business, though. They need to not only beat Chattanooga, they need to have a statement game, and win by 35+. Total domination. No struggle.

Go Noles.



Some things went well, but we’ll wait on the committee.

Florida State couldn’t clinch a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl yesterday. But, they certainly could have been eliminated from one. Even after winning their game against NCST, their were some close calls that would have likely eliminated them from contention. I’m not going to waste time dealing with what didn’t or could have happened, though. I’ll just try and get to the point. So, here we go.

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I posted the above chart in my first post. Good things happened for the Noles. There were 14 games which featured teams who were ranked ahead of FSU. 8 of the 14 went the way that (in my opinion) the Noles needed them to go. Of the 6 games that didn’t go the Noles way, 4 of them featured ranked teams struggling mightily with unranked teams. So, this weekend wasn’t terrible. Let’s look at the 8 things I said FSU needed and see how each went.

  1. FSU needs to win out. The Noles took care of the only thing that they can control. After going down 17-7, FSU scored 27 unanswered points to finish off ACC play and win 34-17.
  2. Clemson needs to win out. The Tigers beat Syracuse 37-27.
  3. Alabama needs to win out. The Crimson Tide won 31-6 at Mississippi State.
  4. Notre Dam needs to win out. The Fighting Irish beat Wake Forest 28-7.
  5. Ohio State needs to win out. The Buckeyes beat Illinois 28-3.
  6. An upset or two along the way would not hurt. Well, FSU got some help in this department on Saturday. #9 LSU was defeated by Arkansas in Death Valley. Arizona knocked off #10 Utah in double OT. Lastly, #7 Stanford could not come al the way back against Oregon. I think that FSU has a chance to jump all three of these teams in the standings. They all lost to unranked teams, and that’s something that the College Football Playoff Committee usually comes down pretty hard on. FSU will almost certainly be ahead of Utah. LSU might be very near FSU (in front or behind.) Stanford may stay ahead of FSU, but they have a date with Notre Dame looming. If FSU beats UF, they’ll jump LSU (if the Tigers manage to stay ahead of FSU in this week’s rankings.) Final point is this: FSU needed a couple of upsets in the last few weeks. They got 3 in the first weekend. Certainly can’t complain about that.
  7. The Big 12 needs one true champion. There is still a possibility of this. But, things got a little more hairy. In my estimation, FSU needed Baylor or Oklahoma State to win out and win the Big 12. The main reasoning for wanting this was so that those two teams would give every other Big 12 team two losses and they would be the only ones to make it into either the playoff or the New Year’s Six Bowls. If 3 Big 12 teams finish with 1 loss, I’m afraid that all 3 of them may finish in the top 10, (which might mean 3 finish in contention for the Playoff or a New Year’s Six Bowl.) Oklahoma State won, so they can still run the table and give us this scenario (by beating Baylor and Oklahoma) but, I figured Baylor had the best shot at this. So, we’ll see what happens. Of course, when the rankings come out, I’ll update you as to who I think is best to cheer for in these remaining Big 12 games.
  8. FSU needs some luck. All of the above listed points can sound as good as they want, but we really won’t know anything until the committee releases their new rankings on Tuesday night. I would hope that FSU has at least jumped to #14. There is a possibility, in my mind, that UNC may jump FSU after how they whipped Miami on Saturday. FSU could potentially jump Michigan and TCU who played very poorly but came away with close wins against very bad teams. We’ll see, though. I think we should have a good idea of FSU’s chances to make a NY6 Bowl after the committee releases their rankings on Tuesday night.

I’ll do another post on Tuesday night after the rankings are released (or on Wednesday morning) with an update as to who to cheer for and what exactly needs to happen for FSU next weekend. But, good win for FSU this weekend. Also, several things happened in front of FSU that were good also. Can’t wait for Tuesday night to see where FSU is ranked!

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(Photo via seminoles.com)

Go Noles!

So you’re saying there’s a chance: A look at FSU’s chances to make a New Year’s Six Bowl Game

I’ll start this post just saying that I think there is very little actual chance that Florida State makes one of the “New Year’s Six Bowls.” But, a little chance is still a chance. If things were to happen perfectly, and FSU could get a little lucky, we could see the Noles in one of these 3 bowls, which seem to be what teams who don’t make the playoff want so dearly.

Now, obviously major chaos and upsets would help the Noles get into one of these bowl games. But, aside from just cheering for the craziest of crazy to happen, I’ve put together a realistic (although unlikely) situation in which the Noles could potentially get into one of these bowls. I’ll try and give a general guideline for the last 4 weeks in this post, along with the teams that you should probably root for this weekend. I’ll do an update each week with who to root for until we reach a point where I believe there is no chance for FSU to make a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

So, here’s the general idea:

  1. FSU needs to win out. Losing to NCST, Chattanooga, or UF will eliminate FSU from contention.
  2. Clemson needs to win out. Clemson winning out is good for FSU because FSU currently has one of the best losses in College Football; evidenced by the fact that the CFB Playoff Committee did not drop FSU in the rankings after their loss to Clemson. Also, Clemson winning out eliminates UNC from discussion, in my opinion.
  3. Alabama needs to win out. There needs to be a clear cut SEC champion. Alabama has the best chance (of any SEC West team) to beat UF. UF losing to FSU in the last week of the season and Bama in the SEC Championship will eliminate UF (or at least move their priority behind FSU’s) for a New Year’s Six Bowl.
  4. Notre Dame needs to win out. Notre Dame finishing with just their one loss does two things. It keeps them in the playoff and out of a New Year’s Six Bowl, and it solidifies Clemson as a true #1 (assuming the Tigers win out.) Also, Notre Dame plays Stanford in the last game of the year. Notre Dame beating Stanford would eliminate Stanford from the New Year’s Six. However, I think that if Stanford wins, Notre Dame could still sneak in to one of these 3 Bowl Games over FSU, because their 2 losses are better than FSU’s.
  5. Ohio State needs to win out. Cheering for Urban Meyer won’t be the most fun thing, but he can really help the Noles’ chances at a New Year’s Six Bowl. Ohio State winning out would mean a 2nd loss for Michigan State and a 3rd loss for Michigan. That, coupled with FSU’s win over (what will be) a Top 10 UF team, should move FSU ahead of those two teams. Ohio State also needs to beat Iowa. This would be (assuming Iowa wins the rest of their regular season games; which we’ll get to in a minute) Iowa’s first loss of the year. FSU, having two losses, may not be able to jump them. But, I think they’d have a chance because FSU is a much more attractive pick for a bowl, than Iowa. I also, don’t think Iowa’s resume is any better, but that’s just me. If Ohio State and Iowa met in the Big 10 Championship and Iowa won, I think that Iowa would go to the playoff and Ohio State would go to a New Year’s Six Bowl, for sure. Iowa going to a New Year’s Six Bowl with one loss might be a sure thing, but not as sure as the Buckeye’s going with one loss.
  6. An upset or two along the way would not hurt. Aside from the teams mentioned above, an upset or two needs to happen. Games that are potential upsets that wouldn’t hurt FSU’s chances are UCLA over Utah in week 12, Iowa losing any of their upcoming games, and/or LSU losing any of their remaining games. Utah, LSU, and Iowa might be locks for the New Year’s Six Bowl, if they win the rest of their regular season games. Those teams losing a game to an inferior opponent would certainly help FSU’s chances.
  7. The Big 12 needs one true champion. Outside of complete and utter chaos where all of the Big 12 teams just beat up on each other and everyone finishes with two losses, this is the most realistic scenario that will benefit FSU. There are 4 Big 12 teams ahead of FSU right now. The only two who are undefeated are Baylor and Oklahoma State. The best thing that could happen for FSU would be for Baylor to win out. They would hand a second loss to TCU and Oklahoma. This would help FSU potentially move ahead of them. It would also give Oklahoma State their first loss of the year, with a rivalry game against Oklahoma upcoming. If Baylor could finish with no losses, and Oklahoma State could also lose to Oklahoma, FSU may jump all of these teams, because they’ll have an impressive road win against UF in week 13. Now, if Oklahoma State wins out, that’s not the worst thing for FSU. It would give Baylor their one loss, but they’d (Baylor) probably still make a New Year’s Six Bowl. Based on how the schedules lay themselves out, I think 2 Big 12 teams make a New Year’s Six Bowl. (Or one makes the playoff and one makes one of these three bowls.) Either way, this isn’t the best for FSU. 2 Big 12 teams there, means only 4 spots left. The most perfect scenario would be for Baylor to win out and Oklahoma State to lose to Oklahoma. (Since Baylor is ranked farther ahead of OKST, it’s less of a jump for FSU, so it’s better if they stay there.) However, I doubt this perfect Big 12 scenario happens. So, expect two Big 12 teams in the top 10 at the end of the year.
  8. FSU needs some luck. Let’s face it. Until this week, the CFB Playoff committee hasn’t really done us any favor or shown us too much love. We’ll need to get some more love from them during the last rankings of the year. We’re going to have to bank on the fact that the “FSU” name is sexier and more appealing in some of these bowl games. The idea of FSU vs LSU in the Peach Bowl has been tossed around. I think this is such an attractive matchup. Dalvin Cook vs Leonard Fournette. ACC vs SEC. Jimbo Fisher against his old team. I’d imagine if it were FSU and Iowa (or Utah) on the edge, the Committee might go with us because we’re the more attractive matchup, by far. College Football is about money. There are some games that would make more money with FSU in them. That’s a fact. However, we’ll need some luck to fall into one of these bowls.

In conclusion, there are 15 teams ahead of FSU. The Noles need to jump 6 of them to get into the top 10. If FSU finishes in the top 10, I think they’re in a New Year’s Six Bowl. I think these 8 things, listed above, could provide what FSU needs to finish in the Top 10. At least two Big 10 teams would be eliminated. FSU would jump UF. 2 Big 12 teams would be eliminated. A two loss PAC 12 team will be eliminated (due to the PAC 12 Championship game.) That puts FSU at #10. Also, upsets and luck could certainly play into FSU’s favor. It’s a long shot. But, it’s doable. FSU just needs to win out, and see what happens. But, for you fans, here’s something we can use to help us root for the possibility of a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Week 11 Rooting Guide:

(Based on the scenario above, here’s a rooting guide for you to follow this weekend.)

#1 Clemson at Syracuse 3:30 PM ABC
#2 Alabama at #17 Miss St. 3:30 PM CBS
#3 Ohio St. at Illinois 12:00 PM ABC
Wake Forest at #4 Notre Dame 3:30 PM ABC
Minnesota at #5 Iowa 8:00 PM BTN
#12 Oklahoma at #6 Baylor 8:00 PM ABC
Oregon at #7 Stanford 7:30 PM FOX
#8 Oklahoma St. at Iowa St. 3:30 PM ESPN
Arkansas at #9 LSU 7:15 PM ESPN
#10 Utah at Arizona 10:00 PM FSI
#11 Florida at South Carolina 12:00 PM ESPN
Maryland at #13 Michigan St. 12:00 PM ESPN 2
#14 Michigan at Indiana 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN 2
Kansas at #15 TCU 12:00 PM FS1
NCST at #16 FSU 12:30 PM ESPN3
Purdue at #18 Northwestern 12:00 PM BTN
Washington St. at #19 UCLA 10:45 PM ESPN
SMU at #20 Navy 3:30 PM CBSSN
#21 Memphis at #24 Houston 7:00 PM ESPN 2
#22 Temple at USF 7:00 PM CBSSN
Miami (of FL) at #23 UNC 3:30 PM ESPNU

You should root for the teams that are in bold. Sorry, I know I have Miami and UF highlighted. But, I think this ultimately helps FSU get to a New Year’s Six Bowl. I also know it’s hard to cheer for Bama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. But, do with this what you will. I’ll try and keep you updated.

As always, Go Noles.


Responding: By FSU’s 2014 Offense

We’re getting close to football. We’re finally in the single digits. 9 days until the Noles take the field at Doak Campbell Stadium. It’s so near. We’re all so ready.

But, before the season hits, I want to take a look back at an interesting stat, I came across this morning. I went through each of FSU’s 13 wins from 2014 and wanted to know how well the offense responded following a drive where the opponent had scored on the possession before, while the Noles were trailing.  This is when I felt there was the most pressure on FSU’s offense. Not only because the other team had just scored, but because FSU was trailing. I didn’t really care about how FSU’s offense did when they had the lead. I wanted to know how we did when the most pressure was on us.

In 2014 FSU’s offense scored on 17 of 30 possessions when the other team had scored on the previous possession and the Noles were trailing. Looking at that number on the surface, is impressive enough. FSU was able to “answer” scores on more than half of these occurrences. That does so much for a team, on the whole. It silences the crowd on the road, or it gets the home crowd back into the game. It gives the defense a chance to rest and another opportunity to stop the offense that just scored on them.

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(Photo: ChopChat)

But, and here’s where I had to do a lot of research, when you break down these numbers even farther, they get tons more impressive. We’ll start by just comparing the first half and the second half. In the first half, FSU’s offense scored on 10 out of 22 times when the opponent had just scored and the Seminoles were trailing. In the second half, the Noles were an incredible 7 out of 9 answering in this same situation.

Not only is the half by half comparison impressive, but the way that FSU scored to answer was, as well. Of the 17 times that the Noles were able to answer back in a situation when they were trailing, 10 times it was touchdown for touchdown. But, 4 times (3 in 2nd halves) they were able to answer an opponent’s field goal with an FSU touchdown. To not only answer, but outscore an opponent is huge. Only one time did FSU answer an opponent’s touchdown with a field goal (1st half against Miami.) 2 times, FSU answered field goals with field goals.

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(Photo: B/R)

What about the times FSU wasn’t able to “answer” an opponent’s score? Well, there were 13 of these scenarios. 4 times is was a field goal and 10 times it was a touchdown that FSU could not immediately answer. But, let’s look at those. Three of those field goals were in the first half of the UF game. FSU did not immediately answer any of those, but did rely on their defense and a 94 yard interception return for a touchdown, so it didn’t come back to bite them too badly.

Now, let’s look at the touchdowns that FSU couldn’t answer immediately. The first time this happened, was against Clemson. FSU couldn’t answer either touchdown that Clemson scored on the Noles’ next drive. However, in the 2nd half, FSU scored on their second drive after Clemson’s final touchdown, to tie up the score. Against NCST, Florida State couldn’t answer a first half touchdown due to a fumble on the first play of the next drive. This pattern would continue. In the second half against Louisville and the first half against Virginia, FSU’s opponent scored and the Noles answered on the second offensive possession afterwards. Of the 9 occurrences that FSU’s offense couldn’t immediately answer an opponent’s touchdown, four of them resulted in FSU touchdowns on the next FSU possession, after a defensive hold.

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(Photo: ChopChat)

There was one other time that FSU’s offense couldn’t answer immediately following an opponent’s score. Against Miami, FSU fumbled a kick return after a Canes touchdown. Since the offense never took the field, I didn’t hold that one against them. (Spoiler Alert: The good guys still won that game.)

So, when breaking it all down, FSU’s offense in 2014 was able to respond very well. I think a couple of key things led to this. First, Jimbo Fisher’s leadership. He was able manage the emotions of his players. His play calling was great. He put players in the position to succeed. Next, you have to look at Jameis Winston. His ability to compartmentalize and just play one play at a time was huge. He moved on very quickly from mistakes and did not let them compound. He represented every aspect of the word “clutch.” Guys like Greene and O’Leary were huge, as well. Everyone knew these two were Jameis’ favorite targets. However, they found ways to continue to get open and make plays.

So, hope you enjoyed this. FSU’s offense last year was much maligned, and probably for good reason. However, when they had to, they did what was needed and answered the call.

Breakdown of Jameis Winston’s 2nd Preseason Game.

Here we are again. Another Jameis game in the books. Another time he’s impressed me. You guys seemed to enjoy this last week, so if you guys keep reading and sharing it, I’l keep doing it.

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(Above Picture from ESPN.)

Here is the play by play break down of Jameis’ 2nd start. I’ve got some thoughts at the bottom of the post.

1st Possession (Started on own 20 yard line)
1st and 10 Completion Jameis makes two reads. Doesn’t see anyone open. Checks the ball down to Doug Martin in space. Martin makes a nice play. Gain of 9.
2nd and 1 Handoff
1st and 10 Completion Play action. Jameis with another short pass to Lane out of the backfield. Good solid completion. Gain of 7.
2nd and 3 Handoff
1st and 10 Completion Jameis drops back here, sees his target, and delivers a strike to ASJ for 11 yards. Jameis had great anticipation here. He hit ASJ as he broke back to the ball on a curl route.
1st and 10 Handoff Jameis was phenomenal, pre-snap, here. Looked like he might change the play. Decided not to. Big run by Martin.
1st and Goal Handoff
2nd and Goal QB Scramble Not sure if this was a designed QB run or just Jameis making a play. Did look like he stubled a little bit. Recovered quickly. But, he rolls out to the right, recognizes that he could get to the end zone, and does. Touchdown.
2nd Possession (Started on own 10 yard line.)
1st and 10 Handoff
2nd and 5 Completion Play action fake. Waits for Jackson across the middle. He’s got a step. Single coverage. Jameis fires a pass on the money for a 1st down. Does a good job of throwing it where it forces Jackson to go down and not take a hit from another defender. Gain of 16.
1st and 10 Incompletion Jameis with a play action fake. Throws a deep ball to Mike Evans. Overthrows him by a yard. Evans had the CB beat. Didn’t get a great replay of this, but at the stadium, it looked like Evans could get to this. Not sure if the hammy is what kept him from it. Good shot down the field by Winston, though.
2nd and 10 Penalty Jameis escapes pressure. Rolls out to his left. Fires the ball down field and hits Jackson on the sideline for 16 yards. Perfect pass. Jackson is called for OPI, negating the completion.
2nd and 20. Pentlty (Holding on a run play.)
2nd and 30 Completion Jameis shows patience and completes a screen pass to Sims. Sims gains 14 yards.
3rd and 16 Incompletion This may have been Jameis’ best pass of the game. He throws the ball on a rope to Tim Wright. Would have been a 1st down if Wright didn’t drop it. Jameis put the ball between two defenders and even Gruden said the pass was, “As good of a throw as you can make in that situation” & “Wright has to catch that ball.”
3rd Possession. (Started on own 29 yard line.)
1st and 10 Penalty (Holding on a run play.)
1st and 20 Completion Jameis throws a quick out pass to Murphy. Nice touch on this ball. Murphy gets 8 yards.
2nd and 12 Incompletion Jameis takes a shot down the field for Mike Evans. CB was with him step for step and knocked the ball away at the last second. Like the chance Jameis took here. If he leads Evans just a bit more, it may have been out of the defender’s reach.
3rd and 12 Incompletion Jameis throws his first bad pass of the night. He tries to anticipate Murphy running an out-route, about 15 yards down the field. Throws the ball too tall and out of bounds. Decent coverage on this. Jameis would have needed to be perfect on this pass for the completion, which I have every confidence that he could have been. However, the pass was off and incomplete.
4th Possession. (Started on own 42 yard line.)
1st and 10 Handoff
1st and 10 Handoff
2nd and 8 Penalty Right Tackle lets his man blow past him. Jameis gets sacked. However, a face mask by the Bengals wipes out the sack and gives the Bucs a 1st down.
1st and 10 Penalty Jameis steps up into the pocket and makes a nice pass to Myers for 8 yards. However, an illegal hands to the face penalty by the OL erases it.
1st and 20 Completion Jameis makes a phenomenal pass through multiple defenders to Shepard for 22 yards. This pass was thrown on a rope and was in a perfect place where only the WR could get to it. Seam pass was perfect, and in the area of 3 defenders. Jameis’ arm strength/accuracy made this very diffuclt pass look easy.
1st and 10 Penalty False Start
1st and 15 Sack The center steps on Jameis’ foot here, tripping him. As soon as he regained his balance, there were two defenders on him. OL was blown up here and Jameis never had a chance. Loss of 10.
2nd and 25 Completion Short pass by Jameis to Murphy for 3 yards.
3rd and 22 Penalty Pressure in Jameis’ face quickly. The Bengals brought a blitz. Jameis throws the ball away and is called for intentional grounding.

Jameis was incredibly sharp to start this game. I really liked Tampa Bay’s play calling in this game. They started out letting him throw the ball. This got Jameis in a rhythm and really seemed to get the offense going. The running game was strong, as well. This took some of the pressure off of Jameis. Winston’s final numbers were good. He was 8-13 for 90 yards. He didn’t have a passing touchdown or an interception. He did have one rushing TD, for the 2nd week in a row.

I want to take a real quick look at Jameis’ incompletions.

  1. Pass to the deep left to Mike Evans. Slight overthrow here. I don’t ever mind Jameis taking this shot. Single coverage and the WR had a step on the defender. Just couldn’t connect.
  2. Jameis’ 2nd incompletion was his best pass of the night. Drop by Tim Wright.
  3. Jameis takes another shot down the field. Defender was with Evans step for step. Once again, I’m always okay with Jameis taking this shot. If he had put a tad more on this, it may have been out of the defender’s reach. But, good defense.
  4. Pressure was in Jameis’ face. He threw this ball too high, and may have been rushing it because of the pressure. Fortunately, his only bad pass of the night, was out of bounds and didn’t hurt too badly.
  5. Jameis had pressure in his face right away. Throws the ball away. Gets called for an intentional grounding. Has to know to just take this sack. But, the intentional grounding resulted in the same outcome as a sack would have in this situation.

Another thing that I’d like to point out is that Jameis was CONSTANTLY working from behind the sticks. On his second possession he faced a 2nd and 30. (Impressively, he worked the Bucs out of this by completing a 14 yard pass on 2nd down and throwing what would have been a first down if not for a drop by Tim Wright. On his 3rd possession, he faced a 1st and 20. On his 4th possession, he faced a 1st and 20 (which he overcame with a 22 yard pass.) He also faced a 1st and 15 later in that possession. Penalties happen and Jameis will have to overcome them. But, this was a ridiculous amount. Tampa Bay has to clean this up. Side note: Jameis also had a 16 yard pass and an 8 yard pass wiped out due to penalties.

Overall, Jameis played very well. He was sharp. He made very few mistakes, and even the mistakes he made were very minor. He led the team to a touchdown on its first drive. He took care of the ball. He made beautiful throws. Though I thought he played well last week, he was leaps and bounds better this week. You could tell that the film study after last week’s game really helped Jameis. I expect him to continue to get better.

Jameis TD Cin - 1

Go Bucs. Go Jameis.