Eagles Slop Their Way Past Rams

Eagles Slop Their Way Past Rams

When Steven Jackson scampered 47 yards to paydirt on the Rams' first play from scrimmage, you could hear the Delaware Valley muttering expletives less than four minutes into the season. As it turned out, that was basically the only moment where the result was in question.

The Eagles defense was gashed in the running game, Michael Vick took his share of hits, and the team battled penalties and clock management issues. In the end, they were simply more talented than their counterparts, and cruised to a rather easy 31-13 victory to open the 2011 season.

The addition of Nnamdi Asomugha has already paid dividends. Despite their running backs accounting for 169 yards on the ground, St. Louis lacked the ability to throw the ball down the field. QB Sam Bradford was 17-for-30 for 189 yards, with wide receivers catching nine balls for 100 yards. Most of those were on underneath routes to Danny Amendola, who had five receptions for 45.

Bradford's mates didn't exactly do him any favors either. The Rams dropped several catchable passes, some of which were drive killers.

The changes along the defensive line were also visible. While backs had little trouble finding holes most of the afternoon, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, the front four brought down the quarterback five times, including two from Jason Babin in his first game back in an Eagles uniform.

Darryl Tapp was among the four linemen with a sack, and also was credited with a forced fumble that swung the momentum permanently. Tied 7-7 in the first quarter, Tapp got immediate pressure from the right defensive end position, disrupting a handoff in the backfield. Bradford put the ball on the carpet, and Juqua Parker picked up and returned 56 yards for the score.

Overall, it was mixed results for Juan Castillo's defense. Steven Jackson injured his quad on his long TD run and managed only two carries, but the Rams were still able to pound the rock. Cadillac Williams was particularly effective, rushing for 91 yards on 19 carries. The Eagles also obliged with a litany of drive-extending penalties.

The effort was more than enough for Vick's potent offense to close. St. Louis had some success, especially blitzing to his blindside, but in typical Vick fashion, he made enough big plays to make them pay. The phenom carried for 98 yards, and threw for another 187 and two touchdowns.

Vick connected with DeSean Jackson on a beautiful loft to the back of the end zone to extend their lead early in the third quarter. Up by seven coming out of the locker room, Vick rolled to his left with the pass rush in his face. He managed to elude the would-be sackers, lobbing a touch pass off of his back foot into a crossing DeSean's hands. [Watch video]

Jackson was the leading receiver on the day, catching six passes for 102 yards.

LeSean McCoy put the game on ice in the fourth quarter. Nothing was coming easy in the running game earlier, but he had his way on the Eagles' final scoring drive, capping it by blasting through the line of scrimmage and racing to the end zone for a 49-yard score. He finished with 15 carries for 122 yards, and added a touchdown reception in the first quarter.

The offense was not super-efficient, with Vick completing less than 50% of his passes against a blitz-happy defense, and the defense has to find a way to limit the ground game. However, some of the sloppy play can be attributed to the lack of off-season programs and the short amount of time they had to integrate new signings and all the changes along the offensive line.

It was a solid start though, proving they have one of more talented rosters in the league, if there was ever any doubt. Plenty of time to work out the kinks.

Baylor introduces Matt Rhule as head coach with campus celebration

Baylor introduces Matt Rhule as head coach with campus celebration

WACO, Texas -- Matt Rhule views his new job at Baylor as a calling, and with the passion of a pastor delivered a message of moving forward with the Bears.

The son of a minister and football coach, Rhule was formally introduced Wednesday as coach at the world's largest private Baptist university, and a Big 12 Conference program that has dealt with the fallout of a scandal.

"When the call came to come here, we came," Rhule said, talking for more than 15 minutes after being introduced to a crowd about 2,000 Baylor supporters. "And we came because we have one purpose ... to develop and work with these young people. I'm here to coach football, and I'm here to be the best partner that I can for Baylor."

The 41-year-old Rhule got a seven-year contract from Baylor after back-to-back 10-win seasons at Temple, where he spent 10 of the past 11 seasons. On the same day he was introduced in Waco, Rhule ran full-page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer thanking Temple University, Owls fans and the city of Philadelphia.

His immediate task at Baylor is to start recruiting since the Bears, already with a depleted roster, have only one player verbally committed for signing day in February. There are only days before a quiet period in recruiting starts Monday.

"Kids are reaching out left and right, they want to come to Baylor," Rhule said after the formal introduction. "They just needed some answers first."

After a search with many rumored candidates, athletic director Mack Rhoades said Rhule, who the AD knew from his days at Houston and in the same conference with Temple, was the "only person we offered the job to."

Rhoades, who became Baylor's AD in August, said he texted Rhule after Temple beat Navy last weekend to congratulate him on winning the American Athletic Conference title. They later met, and Rhoades said it took only about 30 minutes before he knew in his gut, his heart and his mind that he had found the Bears new coach.

"This is a strong leader," Rhoades said. "This is somebody with great vision who's going to demand excellence, demand accountability. I love the toughness. So it was all of those things wrapped up."

Acting head coach Jim Grobe got a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Grobe and his staff, assistants retained from former coach Art Briles' staff, will coach the Bears (6-6) when they take on Boise State in the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27, the same day Temple plays Wake Forest in the Military Bowl.

Rhule becomes the full-time replacement for two-time Big 12 champion coach Briles, who was dismissed after a scathing report over the university's handling of sexual assault complaints, including some against football players.

An investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm determined that the school mishandled assault claims for years. The firm's report in May led to the immediate suspension of Briles, who had eight years left on his contract and reached an undisclosed settlement with the school a month later.

A former Penn State linebacker (1994-97) under Joe Paterno, Rhule said the possibility of NCAA sanctions for Baylor weren't even an issue for him.

"Just having lived through that at my alma mater, you never know what has to happen, what's going to happen," Rhule said. "I think I just trust our leadership and say, whatever happens, these kids need a good coach. I think I can be that coach for them."

Rhule, a professed Christian, was wearing a newly purchased green tie for the introduction that Baylor called a campus celebration.

The football team sat in section near the raised podium where Rhule spoke.

As for putting together a coaching staff, Rhule said he had about 480 text messages within two hours after his hiring had been announced. He said he hadn't had a chance to meet yet with the current Baylor assistants, and didn't rule out the possibility of some being retained.

NCAA president Mark Emmert 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

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Associated Press

NCAA president Mark Emmert 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

NEW YORK -- NCAA President Mark Emmert says he is pleased to see how well Penn State's football team has bounced back from the sanctions the program received in 2012 after the Sandusky scandal.

No. 5 Penn State (11-2) is having its best season since Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant of late Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, was arrested in 2011 for sexually abusing boys. The Nittany Lions won their last nine games and the Big Ten title.

"I think it's terrific," said Emmert, who spoke at an intercollegiate athletics forum sponsored by Learfield Communications on Wednesday in Manhattan.

"I think what Penn State went through is an awful situation and it's still playing out sadly. But the football program is still Penn State and they showed it and they did really well. The university has done an amazing job to put in place all of the things their board wanted and our board wanted."

The NCAA went outside its usual process to sanction Penn State in 2012. The school was hit with massive scholarship limitations and a four-year bowl ban, along with fines. The school also agreed to enact dozens of reforms recommended in a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the scandal.

The original scholarship and postseason penalties were eventually rolled back. Emmert said he was pleased the roll back helped Penn State recover more quickly, and that NCAA sanctions are not meant to cripple an athletic program.

"I've always said and always believed that Penn State first and foremost is a great university ... and secondly it's got wonderful sports traditions. How could you not be pleased that they're playing good football again? That's very good stuff," he said.

Emmert covered numerous topics in a 30-minute question-and-answer session, and after he spoke with group of reporters for 15 more minutes.

-- He declined to weigh in on whether the College Football Playoff selection committee made the right decision with the four teams it chose to compete for the national championship, but he did say he would prefer an eight-team playoff that would include automatic bids for the Power Five conference champions.

"I think a conference championship ought to count for something. I think how you determine your champion is up to somebody else," Emmert said. "I'd like to see all five of the conference champions get in the playoff."

The NCAA has no authority over the College Football Playoff.

"That's why we live in America. Everybody can have an opinion," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany joked, when asked about Emmert's comments. "He doesn't have a vote, though."

-- Emmert said he would like to see the new NCAA football oversight committee better define the purpose of bowl games. There are 40 and some spots are given to teams with sub.-500 records. The NCAA does not run bowl games. It does have a sanctioning process, but mostly it lets conferences decide whether they want to put on games.

"What do we, the membership of intercollegiate athletics, want bowl games to be?" Emmert said. "Are they a 13th game that's an exhibition game? Are they a reward for having won something? We have teams in now that can get into a bowl game having won two or three of their conferences games."

-- The NCAA pulled its championship events out of North Carolina in September because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The decision was later criticized by Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins in an Wall Street Journal op-ed. Jenkins said the NCAA should not be a moral arbiter.

"He and I have chatted a lot about that issue, and obviously I disagree and obviously, more importantly the board of governors disagreed," Emmert said.
The NCAA will choose sites for future championship events in April and part of that is a "fairly complex process," Emmert said, of looking at the local and state laws of potential host locations.

"One of the considerations we have now as we make those decisions, as the sport committees make decisions about where they go, is going to be LGBT rights," he said. "I think and hope and believe, maybe wishfully, that North Carolina will modify their position because citizens want that."

-- Emmert said the Big 12 deciding not to expand was a "good thing for college sports."

"I think the last round was very disruptive. It had a negative impact on so many schools, even personal relationships. It was hard and I'm glad we didn't have to go through that again. Even on a smaller scale," Emmert said.