5 takeaways from Dolphins loss in preseason finale; plus FIU's big win, Brady beats NFL (poll, vote now!), Upset Bird Countdown (7 days), Jimmy Johnson reigns, LeBatard, UM hoops, Lawrence Phillips & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today bringing forth the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes greatest-coach poll, Upset Bird Countdown, weird Canes photos, Suh Top 5, Kim Davis, Gus Edwards, Fins' luck, 'Concussion' trailer & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Periscope.
LeBatard move official: ESPN will officially announce today at 10 a.m. that the Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio is moving to the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8. Readers of this blog knew about it first last month.
UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in
the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We have begun a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 7: Atlanta Falcons, born 1966. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67].
FINS 'N FIU: A FOOTBALL DOUBLEHEADER: Granted, a Dolphins' preseason finale and FIU's season opener did not constitute a great football doubleheader ... nevertheless!
DOLPHINS LOSE PRESEASON FINALE: OUR FIVE TAKEAWAYS: The 22-17 home loss to Tampa Bay last night, leaving Miami's final preseason record at a meaningless 1-3, wasn't quite as uneventful as we'd imagined. Miami dominated statistically but sabotaged itself with five turnovers, four of them picks, all by guys unlikely to make the final roster. Almost all of the starters sat out, but there were these five points of significance: 1) No. 1 draft pick DeVante Parker (pictured) saw his first action, albeit limited, catching one pass for 11 yards of three balls thrown his way. Good they got his feet wet before the opener. 2) RBs Jay Ajayi (103 combined yards on 11 touches) and Mike Gillislee (17-for-69 rushing) both stated their cases. Ajayi certainly makes the final roster. 3) CB Will Davis, on the trading block and thus an apparent longshot to make the team, had a pair of interceptions. 4) The kicker competition still seems a deadlock between Andrew Franks (30-yard field goal tonight) and incumbent Caleb Sturgis, though I'd give the slightest edge to Franks. And 5) Josh Freeman's late end-zone interception all but settled it. I'd be shocked at this point if Miami spent a roster spot to keep a third QB. ... Original post: Miami hosts Tampa Bay at 7 in fake-game No. 4, the final exhibition. It is significant because its conclusion will commence the countdown to the Sept. 13 NFL season opener at Washington. It also is significant for the roster's bottom third, the "bubble" players fighting to make the cut from 75 men to 53, a final paring by coach Joe Philbin that is due by Saturday. The game is otherwise insignificant. Starters will play very little if at all. The result won't matter; however, staying healthy will. [Note: A reminder our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls are back this year, starting with the regular season].
FIU PANTHERS UPSET WINNERS: FIU last night won at UCF, 15-14, a huge upset over a 13-point home favorite in season opener. Panthers hero Darrian Dyson blocked a 47-yard field goal try in the final half minute to seal the win. "Team Alex" led the way offensively. QB Alex McGough passed for 260 yards and a TD, and RB Alex Gardner combined for 149 run/catch yards and a score. Very encouraging opening win for third-year coach Ron Turner, who told me last week he thought he'd win with defense, and did tonight. ... Original post: FIU opens its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner -- and kicks off Week 1 of the entire college season -- at UCF in Orlando. Big test for Panthers, who improved to 4-8 last year and have dreams of a bowl season, versus a Central Florida Knights squad that went 9-4 last year and is a 13-point favorite here. [Note: Our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year rankings -- the SOPYs! -- will be back this season. Look for them Mondays in the blog].
BRADY WINS, NFL LOSES AS COURT OVERTURNS 4-GAME SUSPENSION: My latest column is on this "Deflategate" development. Click on Brady Wins Big, Goodell Loses Bigger to read. Meantime, have your say:
DOLPHINS SHUT OUT IN UNDER-25 RANKINGS: List-crazy ESPN.com comes out with a Top 25 NFL Players Under 25 list excluding rookies (click here), and what's most disappointing is when you consider some of Miami's legitimate candidates who failed to make it. They include 1,000-yard back Lamar Miller, young sack-man Olivier Vernon, productive 2014 rookie starters Jarvis Landry and Ja-Wuan James, as well as Kenny Stills, Dion Sims, Jelani Jenkins and Chris McCain. Fins need to have a couple of those names on that U-25 ranking next year.
Betting odds on Dolphins individual stats: Over/unders courtesy our friends at Bovada today. Ryan Tannehill is pegged at 4,000 passing yards, 25.5 TD throws and 14.5 picks. Lamar Miller is 1,000 rushing yards and seven TDs. Jarvis Landry is 900 receiving yards and five TDs. And sack o/u's are 10 for Cam Wake and eight for Ndamukong Suh.
And updated World Series odds, too: Also from Bovada, it's Blue Jays favorites at 7-2, then Royals and Cardinals both 11-2, Dodgers 15-2 and Mets 9-1. Marlins now one of seven teams off-the-board.
Poll result: Jimmy, Howard dominate UM greatest-coach vote: We listed the 10 Hurricanes football coaches who have worked at least 50 career games here, and nearly 80 percent of the vote went to either Jimmy Johnson (our clear champ with 47.0 percent) or Howard Schnellenberger (31.3%). Butch Davis was a distant third at 11.0%, then came Dennis Erickson at 4.8% and Larry Coker at 3.0%. At a negligible 1.0% or less: Andy Gustafson, Jack Harding, Charlie Tate, Al Golden and Randy Shannon.
HIGHLIGHTS, THOUGHTS ON HURRICANES MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE: Jim Larranaga's guys should be pretty good this season, maybe really good, in a schedule that opens at home Nov. 13 vs. Texas-Rio Grand Valley. UM will play at least seven games vs. teams that finished in last year's final Top 25. Our circled dates, in order, with the seven must-see home games in bold: Nov. 19-22--Canes could face Utah (#19 last season) or Butler (#24) in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament in San Juan. Dec. 8--Host Florida Gators. Jan. 2 & 9--Host Syracuse and then Florida State in first ACC games. Jan. 12--at Virginia (#6). Jan. 25--Duke (#4) here. Feb. 3--Notre Dame (#8) here. Feb. 20--at North Carolina (#15) on CBS, only network TV game. Feb. 22--Virginia (#6) here. Feb. 27--Louisville (#17) here. March 8-12--ACC Tournament.
THE TRAGIC TALE OF LAWRENCE PHILLIPS: When I think of athletes of wasted promise -- make that horribly wasted -- I might now think first of Phillips, the troubled former running back who played for three NFL teams in 1996-99, including two games for the Dolphins (pictured; 18 carries for 44 yards) in '97. He failed as a pro despite being a first-round draft pick, due largely to off-field issues. Now 40, he is serving a 31-year sentence in a California prison for choking his girlfriend and ramming his car into three teens. This week, he was charged with first-degree murder in the choking of his cellmate. What a waste.
BONUS FOOTBALL COVERAGE:
Dolphins, Hurricanes special sections: Our NFL/Dolphins and College/Canes football special sections are out (high schools, too), and here are my two contributions: NFL rank: I rate the teams, 1 through 32, and slot the Dolphins at a really high No. 6. Click on The Order to read in full. Al Golden: I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his future with the program. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.
Herald's 'Fins at 50': Our "Fins at 50" package commemorating Dolphins' 50th season remains available online; click FINS AT 50. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND (Shula column); 50 GREATEST (list of franchise's 50 top figures, not just players); ALL-TIME TEAM (my picks) and VIDEO INTERVIEWS (Shula, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas). Also have Shula-by-the-numbers column; click TOP 10 NUMBERS.
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