For once I've decided to show everybody a little bit of my writing outside of the world of football, I know, sounds crazy doesn't it. Contrary to popular belief, I do have a world outside of football and sports. I had to write this report for my field experience, which is officiating Youth Soccer here in Athens, Ohio for a good amount of fall quarter. Anyways, check it out and look for more articles from me in the future.
Week 1: Youth Soccer
Wade H. Peery
Working with youth soccer in Athens has been a tremendous amount of fun for me. While it has its positives and minuses like any other job out there, officiating youth soccer has been a very pleasurable experience for me. The first day I was pretty nervous, but as time has gone along it has gotten more fun for me.
About two days into the experience, I really started to feel comfortable out there. I started telling the kids, “Guys are we ready to have some fun?!” They responded with a quiet…”Yeaaa!” Then I piped back up and was like, “Guys are we ready to have some fun?!” Then they all responded with a “Yeaaaah!” in unison. That put a smile on my face I tell you. I like throwing my hands up in the air when the kids score and it is pretty cool to see the smiles on their faces.
Another thing I enjoy is when the kids recognize me when they are leaving the soccer fields. One girl had gotten cleated in the back so I had to whistle the play dead. She was crying and was in pretty bad shape at the time, but after a few minutes she was feeling better. It was good to see her feeling better. She waved at me when she was driving away from the fields and that was a pretty cool feeling for me. I liked that a lot. I think that is the biggest part about being a ref that I take pretty seriously—making sure that none of the kids get hurt.
Sure I might make a bad call when a ball goes out of bounds and I can’t see it, but I definitely don’t want to see anybody get seriously injured and I make sure to whistle the play dead when it is needed. It is funny because sometimes the kid will act like they aren’t injured right after the play, but 30 seconds later they will be crying so you are forced to whistle it dead.
Officiating takes on more jobs than just officiating the game. I kind of have to play a parental role out there, because some kids need their shoes tied and they ask me to do it for them. I have no problem doing it for them and I’m happy to help in that regard. One of the more dangerous things to watch with these younger kids is they tend to fall on the ground a lot and I have to pick them up off the ground to ensure they don’t get cleated in the mouth.
Another parental thing I need to do is to try and make sure everybody gets to kick the ball in because a lot of times, just one kid might try to take all of the kicks. Sometimes they will all just stand there and look at me funny, which is pretty funny for me. On corner kicks they are pretty funny because they just stand there for a while and stare at the ball, until they finally decide to kick it. Some will look for my signal to go, which speeds up the process.
I haven’t had too many people question my calls, which I’m sure I have made some bad ones because sometimes I will be away from the play and I will just have to guess to the best of my ability. One of the coaches today was like, “That’s an extremely questionable call.” I was laughing about it, because he was joking with me and I’ve known him for a while. He dated one of my neighbors for a long time and he’s been in a few of my classes. I laughed it off and told him I was in a questionable mood.
Steve is probably one of the better coaches I have seen in terms of dealing with the kids and getting on their level. It’s pretty funny to see how all the coaches handle 10 different kids at once. They love having more of them on the field, because that means the officials have to deal with em. I don’t mind that, because it means more kids get to play, which means more of them will have fun. That is essentially the point of the entire league—for all these kids to have fun, learn some of the rules, and not get injured while doing it.
That is my least favorite part, to see a kid get injured because I have been there and know what it’s like to take a shot with a soccer ball in the face—not pleasant at all. One of the difficult things in the past few days has been determining which teams are on what field and who is going to officiate those games, but we have been able to get it straightened out eventually. I’ve always worked with Jon Kondrich—he works on the field right beside me and I’ve been keeping the time. He looks for my signal when the quarters and games are officially over. One kid was making me laugh because he said I smelled like one of his friends because I was sweating. Those kids will give you a workout running up and down the field let me tell ya.
I’m already starting to develop a bit of an attachment to these kids and I think I will miss it after I am done. Those kids have a ton of energy while there might be times where they can make you angry—they make me laugh and smile most of the time. I’m interested to see what the rest of the experience brings!
Florida Gators at Tennessee Volunteers Saturday, September 20th 3:30 p.m.(CBS) Knoxville, Tennessee(Neyland Stadium)
Quarterback Tim Tebow and the fourth-ranked Florida Gators travel this Saturday to Knoxville, Tenn. to square off against Arian Foster and the Tennessee Volunteers in a heated SEC showdown.
The Gators are coming off a bye week and it couldn’t have come at a better time, because it gave them an extra week to allow game-breaker Percy Harvin to rest his heel. Sure, he played against Miami on September 6th, but he only touched the ball six times. It’s going to be interesting in this match up to see if Harvin will finally be 100 percent after it’s taken him longer than expected to recover from off-season heel surgery on his right heel.
The Virginia native spoke to the media earlier this week and sounds like he’s licking his chops: “Coach just came to me and said he’s ready to cut me loose.” That’s bad news for the Volunteer defense. Urban Meyer is excellent at getting his do-it-all playmaker the football in a variety of formations and plays. Look for Harvin to receive the ball on a variety of end-arounds, jet sweeps, and zone read handoffs . These type of plays allow the speedster to cut on the burners and turn the corner against opposing defenses. Perhaps no other receiver in college football besides Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin is a greater all-purpose threat on the football field than Harvin. Last season he racked up over 1,600 all-purpose yards for the Gators and 10 touchdowns on the bad heel. Imagine what kind of numbers he can put up if he’s 100 percent for a change, which he claims he hasn’t been since his heel bothered him in high school. Look for him to get more than 15-20 touches on Saturday in a variety of ways.
While the Gators are excited to have Percy Harvin back to full health, that’s not to say they don’t have a variety of offensive weapons at their disposal. Senior receiver Louis Murphy is an emerging big play threat who has posted dizzying numbers this year for the Gators’ offense. He’s already hauled in 6 passes for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging over 21 yards per catch. Those are video game numbers, folks!
Then there’s yet another all-purpose threat, receiver/punt returner/kick returner Brandon James, who also happens to be one of the most dangerous return men in all of college football. So far this season, James has 7 punt returns for 144 yards, averaging over 20 yards per return. He already has a 74 yard punt return for a touchdown. As dangerous he is as a punt returner, he’s arguably even more dangerous on kick returns— he has 3 returns for 82 yards—a blistering 27.3 average per return. Make no mistake about it, James is definitely a man the Vols want to keep an eye on. Urban Meyer is excellent about getting his playmakers touches and James also has 5 catches on the season and is the Gators’ second-leading receiver thus far. He will be all over the place so the Volunteer defense might get sick of seeing him on the field, but if they want a chance at winning this one, they must limit James’ big plays.
Running back Jeff Demps is yet another burner the Volunteer defense must worry about. He ran the 100-meter dash at an eye-gouging 10.01 seconds in high school and like many of other Florida’s players, he can hurt opponents with his lethal dose of speed. Running back Chris Rainey is yet another weapon to watch out for on the offensive side of the ball for the Gators. Rainey is in the mold of a Reggie Bush, in that he’s blessed with scintillating speed and jaw dropping jukes in the open field that allow him to leave defenders in his wake with ease. He’s averaging over 7 yards per rushing attempt this season and has one touchdown. Look for a breakout year this season from Rainey. As long as he gets the touches, the sky is the limit.
Last, but not least on the Florida offense is junior quarterback Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner that ESPN just won’t stop talking about. Tebow is one of the finest players in all of college football, because of his ability to bruise through defenders and run between the tackles with such tenacity and force, it is almost unbelievable. The man is a living legend on the gridiron, because his superhuman strength allows him to play through almost any injury, break any tackle, and carry a variety of defenders on any given play. He’s already thrown for nearly 400 yards through the air this season, while completing over 60 percent of his passes and 3 touchdowns, with no interceptions. He’s also currently the Gators’ leading rusher, gaining 92 yards on the ground so far on 22 attempts. Tebow’s body was smashed and jostled around more than you could believe last season and head coach Urban Meyer has said that he will limit Tebow’s running opportunities this season to keep his star fresh. If there is one man you will be seeing a lot of, and by that I mean a ridiculous amount of on Saturday, it’s number 15, Tim Tebow. As he goes, so does the entire Florida Gators’ offense. He is the engine, he is the catalyst. Without him, the entire operation wouldn’t be nearly as successful.
On defense, if the Volunteers wish to slow the Florida Gators’ offensive arsenal of weapons, then they must look to the defensive line and linebackers to create a push in the backfield and disrupt the offense. If they allow playmakers like Harvin to turn the corner uncontested, it won’t be a pretty sight for Volunteer fans.
Linebacker Ellix Wilson currently leads the Vols’ defense in tackles and they are going to need a huge day from him on Saturday if they wish to have a chance against UF. He’s been all over the place for the Volunteer defense this season, racking up 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 interception. Another playmaker for Tennessee is sophomore sensation of a cornerback Eric Berry. The kid was one of the most highly rated high school recruits in the country last season and he hasn’t disappointed a bit. He is currently tied for the team lead in interceptions(2) and is second on the team in tackles(10). Trust me, Eric Berry is a man that Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators’ must be aware of at all times on Saturday or he will make them pay and pay dearly. He’ll be helped by senior defensive back DeAngelo Willingham who also has two picks for the season. Another man who is super talented as long as he keeps his head on straight is safety Demetrice Morley. He posted a phenomenal sophomore season for the Volunteers but left school after the 2006 season due to academic issues. He could definitely be a factor on Saturday.
Linebacker Rico McCoy is another man to watch on the Volunteers’ defense, he’s fourth on the defense in tackles(8) and was a second-team All-SEC selection last year. If the Tennessee defense wants any chance of stopping Tim Tebow, they must not allow him to have a day like UCLA’s Kevin Craft did. The Volunteer secondary allowed the Bruins’ clearly rattled third string quarterback to throw for over 250 yards against them. Those numbers won’t be acceptable on Saturday.
On offense, the Tennessee Volunteers offense is centered around running backs Arian Foster, Montario Hardesty, and Lennon Creer. Foster has 25 attempts for 196 yards on the ground this year, while Hardesty and Creer have combined for over 180 yards and 5 touchdowns between them. The Vols’ senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton is dripping with jaw-dropping potential, but he’s unfortunately never had the work ethic to realize it. The kid is oozing with talent, but it remains to be seen if he can post the kind of numbers that he’s capable of. This season he’s completed over 52 percent of his passes for 429 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Those numbers are less than impressive for a kid who was touted as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks out of the state of North Carolina in high school.
Crompton’s favorite target is senior receiver Lucas Taylor, who leads the team in catches(12) and receiving yards(169). Another man he’ll be looking for is sophomore Gerald Jones, who has hauled in seven passes for 79 yards this season and two touchdowns. Jones is a dynamic playmaker in the open field and the Volunteers will also utilize his speed on kickoff and punt returns. He’s averaging 38 yards per return on kickoffs and 19.5 on punt returns. The Gators’ will definitely be keeping an eye on the Vols’ version of Brandon James.
On defense for the Florida Gators, their undisputed leader is junior linebacker Brandon Spikes. He is currently tied for the team lead in tackles(11) and has 1.5 tackles for loss. He’s one of the best linebackers college football has to offer and it will be a treat to watch him on Saturday. Lookout for number 51. Junior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has come on strong as of late for the Gator defense, he is tied for the team lead in tackles(11), has racked up 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1 forced fumble already!
Defensive back Joe Haden will look to cause problems for Crompton once he attacks the air, he already has 8 tackles and 1 fumble recovery on the season. Ahmad Black is a sophomore safety who has stepped up big for the Gator defense early, picking off two passes this season. Defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap was one of the most highly touted members of Florida’s recruiting class and I’d look for him to have a big season as the year progresses. This Florida defense has looked extremely sharp in their first two games, only allowing 13 points total in two games.
Final analysis: Quarterback Jonathan Crompton has all the potential in the world. If he ever played up to his potential, it would be a thing of beauty. He’s struggled early on this season and I can’t see him performing any better against a stiff Gator defense that’s only allowed 13 points so far this season. The Vols’ strength lies in their running game, which is ranked in the top 20th in the country, racking up over 221 yards per game. The Gators’ defense has only allowed a stifling 60.5 yards per game on the ground. The match up of this game will likely be won and lost in that area. Tennessee’s offensive line must be able to move the pile and help the Vols running backs find space against the Gators. I can’t see the Tennessee defense stopping Tim Tebow and the Gators high-powered attack, although Miami did an excellent job for three quarters last week. Percy Harvin will be a difference maker that will cause problems all day long for the Vols. If he says he is ready to be unleashed, I’d be very afraid if I was a Volunteer fan. Percy Harvin at full speed is flat out unstoppable and the Vols will find out on Saturday. Their only chance to stay in this one is to force some interceptions with their ball-hawking secondary, which has 7 interceptions already. I think Tennessee stays in this one for a half until Florida pulls away in the second half. Speed, speed, and more speed. Florida has it all over the place and on Saturday it will be in full display. A healthy Percy Harvin is simply lethal for opposing teams.
Week 4 Thursday Night Spotlight Thursday September 18th, 8:30 p.m. EST (ESPN) (21) West Virginia Mountaineers at Colorado Buffaloes
Last week, the Mountaineers and Pat White simply got it handed to them by Patrick Pinkney and the ECU Pirates, 24-3. It was a display that has come all too familiar for West Virginia football fans—their team failing to live up to their lofty preseason expectations. Their running back of a quarterback Pat White is surely one of the most overhyped players in college football. Don’t get me wrong he’s fun to watch run in the open field and he’s ultra-elusive, but the guy simply cannot attack the football field through the air. He’s a playmaker, but he will never be as good of a passer as he is a runner. West Virginia has to put passes in the playbook to try and keep defenses honest, but any good defensive coordinator with the right personnel will be able to shut White down(he only had 72 passing yards against ECU).
This Thursday night matchup should figure to be one of this weekend’s most entertaining games. The biggest match-up to watch in this game will be whether or not West Virginia can run the ball against a stiff Colorado defense that has only allowed 59 yards per game over their first two contests. The Buffaloes’ front seven features one of the most talented defensive linemen in college football, defensive tackle George Hypolite. He led the Buffaloes’ defense last season with six sacks and I’d look for him to cause problems for Pat White and company. Look for him to get after the quarterback early and often. Another Colorado player you should watch for is linebacker Jeff Smart, who leads the team with 20 tackles this season. Defensive backs Ryan Walters and Cha’pelle Brown will roam the secondary for the Buffs. Brown led the Buffs defense in pass breakups last season.
On offense, the centerpiece of the Buffaloes offense is without question their gifted signal-caller, Cody Hawkins, who is the son of head coach Dan Hawkins. When Cody was first named the starting quarterback at CU, I was suspicious and figured he was just getting the job because he was the coaches’ son. He turned out to prove me wrong in a big way last season, tossing for over 2,600 yards through the air while completing over 56 percent of his passes during the 2007-2008 season. He’s posted stellar numbers early in the 2008 campaign, completing 71.6 percent of his passes for 475 yards, four TDs, and two INTs.
His favorite target is receiver Scotty McKnight, who leads the team with 11 catches for 157 yards and 1 touchdown. Another dangerous receiver for the Buffaloes is Mr. All-Purpose himself, Josh Smith. The sophomore is a big-play threat for Colorado on special teams. He’s averaged 50 yards per return on kickoffs this season and has already taken one the distance. The California native also has averaged 19 yards per punt return, extremely impressive numbers to say the least.
The Buffaloes' backfield features one of the most hyped recruits of the 2008 college football season, freshman running back Darrell Scott from Ventura, California. The stud tailback chewed up over 3,000 yards during his junior season and was a nightmare for opposing defenses to tackle throughout his entire high school career. The freshman phenom already has 24 attempts on the ground for 93 yards and a touchdown. He has also hauled in three passes for 33 yards, averaging 11 yards per catch. The Buffs’ ground game has struggled this season and their offensive line must open up holes if the Buffaloes wish to have balance in their offense. Rodney Stewart and Demetrius Sumler will also be toting the mail for the Buffaloes. Sumler rushed for over 300 yards last season.
The Buffaloes ground attack has struggled this year, only averaging 3.5 yards per carry so it will be interesting to see if the offensive line can start clearing some holes for their talented running backs.
If the Mountaineers want to stop the Buffaloes’ offense, they will look to their top three tacklers, safety Quinton Andrews, linebacker J.T. Thomas, and linebacker Mortty Ivy. Ivy is the Mountaineers’ do-it-all playmaker on defense, and moved to strong side linebacker in the spring.
This year he has been at it again, posting eye-popping numbers through the first two games, 14 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 interception that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown. Andrews is currently tied for the team lead in tackles with 16 with J.T. Thomas. Thomas has also blocked a kick and has racked up 2.5 sacks on the season.
Speaking of talented running backs, by far the most talented running back in this game is senior quarterback Patrick White of West Virginia. Sure, he’s not a conventional running back because he is listed as a quarterback, but make no mistake about it folks, White is a burner in the open field and can take it the distance on any given occasion. His speed in the open field makes him very difficult to defend and he is a master of the “zone-read” option. While his speed is his greatest asset, it’s also arguably his only asset. He has struggled mightily when teams force him to throw the football down the field, because he simply lacks accuracy and touch on his throws. As big of a playmaker he is, White has also had the tendency to fumble the ball in big games—he had two fumbles against ECU. One of those was one of the more bizarre fumbles ever—White dove out of bounds, placed the ball in bounds before he landed, and the ball just stopped completely. Of course, ECU recovered and it was a crucial turning point in that football game. If West Virginia wants to win this game, Pat White must take care of his “ball security” issues, in the words of Jay Bilas.
White’s running mate is arguably more dangerous in the open field, because of his uncanny acceleration. His name is Noel Devine, a sophomore who was a YouTube sensation well before he set foot on the West Virginia campus because of his electrifying runs in high school. Devine already has rattled off 141 yards on the ground, averaging a dizzying 6.7 yards per carry this season. Devine is what makes the zone-read at West Virginia a nearly unstoppable staple in the Mountaineers offense. He will help to keep defenses honest and from just keying in on Pat White.
Devine is also a threat on the Mountaineers’ kick return unit, which Colorado will have to be aware of. Also, look for Pat White to get the ball in the hands of running back Jock Sanders, who is WVU’s leading receiver with 11 catches and two touchdowns.
Before the season there were talks of opening up the offense for Pat White to throw more passes down the field and I think that would be a huge mistake. The Mountaineers need to keep their playbook to the simple passes that Pat White is comfortable with, like the bubble screen. Asking him to throw more passes down the field is to ask him to flirt with the weakest part of his game and that could mean interceptions for the Mountaineers. If West Virginia wants to win, it should stick to the option and the zone-read, because the combination of defending Pat White and Noel Devine in the same backfield as running threats is near unstoppable. West Virginia just needs to ask itself: Why would we change something that has been so successful for us over the years? If West Virginia does just that, they have as good of a chance as having two 1,000 yard rushers at season’s end as anybody in the country.
Final analysis: This is a huge game for both teams, I think it’s bigger for West Virginia because they have already been embarrassed once on a national stage this season. The ECU loss was a crushing blow to a program with unrealistically high hopes this season. Colorado is announcing this game as a “blackout” game in which fans are encouraged to wear black, so this atmosphere will be rowdy and hostile. Under the lights on ESPN, it is a great opportunity for both teams to capture college football fans’ attention.
I think Pat White and Noel Devine will definitely put up some points on Colorado, which allowed 24 points to quarterback Matt Nichols and Eastern Washington. Although, it must be noted that Eastern Washington could also sling the rock through the air(Nichols threw for over 3,700 yards in 2007-2008); it’s been well documented in this article that White has struggled with that.
On the other hand, Colorado allowed running back Gartrell Johnson of Colorado State to rush for 95 yards against them. Sure he's not as good as Pat White or Noel Devine, but he's pretty darn good. It will be tough for the Buffaloes to stop two of the best running backs college football has to offer. I think Pat White and Noel Devine rush for over 100 yards a piece, but it won’t be enough because Colorado will continue to ride the hot hand of quarterback Cody Hawkins to victory. This will be the game in which the nation is introduced to Darrell Scott, a running back phenom who is sure to terrorize opposing defenses in the Big 12 as soon as his offensive line blocks for him. Colorado wins this one in a classic.
I'm a die-hard college football fan who loves to write about a variety of topics, but I definitely love scouting reports the most and following college football recruiting. Anyways feel free to drop me an e-mail at email@example.com or hit me up on Facebook--Wade Hampton Peery.