Preseason Report: Some Good Individual Performances, Some Terrible, and Undisciplined Mistakes

Preseason Report: Some Good Individual Performances, Some Terrible, and Undisciplined Mistakes

We
already discussed the quarterback situation following the game, which
you can read here. Let's jump right into the good and the bad from
Monday night's 27-17 preseason victory over the Patriots.

The Good

King
Dunlap appeared to solidify himself as the left tackle going forward.
He seemed calm and solid, and I only counted one pressure coming from
his assignment. The Eagles ran to the right side more, but the few times
they went left, he looked okay. And while it's true the Patriots
weren't using many of their starters, Dunlap had a decent test going
against first-round pick Chandler Jones most of the night. Meanwhile,
Demetress Bell looked adequate at best when he entered the game in the
second half.

As we mentioned in the past, Dunlap could very well
be the solution there
. He's generally played very well in seven starts
over the past two seasons, and so far, so good this summer.

Mychal KendricksFor
the second week in a row, the rookie linebacker gets a mention in the
good column. While Mychal Kendricks was beat for a touchdown pass, it
was close to the only notable flaw you could find in his performance on Monday
night. Kendricks was disruptive in the backfield, causing several plays
to go for a loss, and he's been excellent at diagnosing screens this
preseason.

With his speed and instincts, Kendricks may already be
the best linebacker on this team. DeMeco Ryans hasn't looked bad, but
he looks like he's running in mud compared to the second-round pick, who
finished the game with six total tackles.

Running Backs

We
all know LeSean McCoy can play, and he eased some concerns that the
running game might not be nearly as effective without Jason Peters anchoring
the left side, rushing for 30 yards on seven carries and a score. Nice
night, now keep him on the shelf until the real deal begins, please.

But
the backs who really caught my eye are a pair who were thought to be potentially fighting for roster spots -- and may have ended any debate
with strong outings. Bryce Brown and Stanley Havili impressed in several
phases of the game. At 6-0, 223, and sporting 4.48 speed, Brown is really something to
behold when carrying the football. He's got good burst, is able to gain the corner, then
finish runs with power. Brown finished with 51 yards on nine
carries, including a 27 yarder, plus caught two passes and made a tackle
in the return game. Havili's action was limited, but the fullback had a nice series,
taking a trap play 14 yards to the goal line, followed by a nice
block on the next play to help McCoy punch it into the end zone. Havili
had a tackle on special teams as well, and if these guys can play on the
third unit, there will most definitely be space for them.

Nate Allen

While
he didn't do anything that overwhelmed, I thought Nate Allen
played a very strong game. The third-year safety led the team in tackles
with seven, was aggressive in run support, and batted away a deep pass
in coverage. His effort against the run was the biggest thing that stood out though. On several occasions, Allen came flying into
the picture, but under control, limiting runs to just a handful of
yards. Good night for Nate Allen, as he and Kurt Coleman have both
looked fine so far.

The Bad

Penalties

This is going
to be a short list, because penalties were primarily what the negatives
on defense boiled down to. The Patriots managed to put 14 points on the
board with a pair of backup quarterbacks in the game and all their star
players on the bench, but it didn't have to be that way.

On New
England's touchdown drive, the Eagles had them pinned twice. First,
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted a Ryan Mallett pass deep inside
Patriots territory, but the pick was erased by a Fletcher Cox late hit
on the quarterback. It wasn't malicious, but under the rules, it is a
penalty. No need to kill the rookie for it, you just chalk it up as a
less of the preseason, hope he learns from his mistake. Three plays
later, it's third down again, only this time Mallett is sacked and they
will be forced to punt -- except a Nnamdi Asomugha holding penalty
results in an automatic first down. I did not see this shown during the
broadcast, so we'll take the officials at their word.

The Pats
converted three more third downs on the series, including the score, and
there is something to be said for the defense's inability to get off
the field in some of these situations. The blog McNabb or Kolb takes a
detailed look at all 13 third downs
, of which New England converted
eight total. That's far too many, especially with the B-team out there,
and considering it's been a recurring theme.

However,
the Eagles most likely don't face anywhere near 13 third downs if it weren't for the
fact they shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions. All three
Patriot scoring drives were aided by a 15-yard personal foul (as an
aside, the words personal foul are telling -- when a player hits
somebody late, I fail to see how that's on coaching), and if only DRC's INT
holds up, that's likely a 10-to-14 point swing in Philly's favor. This
alone would've made the outcome, and the way the defense was viewed,
quite a bit more favorable.

All of which is not to make excuses.
They committed the penalties, and plays that ensued then ultimately led
to points falls on the defense. It made for a miserable viewing
experience, and plenty of reasonable second-guessing. The question now
is whether they can clean it up, because in the NFL, you can't give
anybody -- not even the backups -- second and third chances.

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

BOX SCORE

The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn was ready to try anything to get a win for his Auburn Tigers.

Malzahn relinquished offensive play-calling duties. Following his daughters' advice, he traded his usual game-day visor for a cap. And then, when the clock expired and LSU players were celebrating an apparent last-second win, the Auburn coach put all his faith in a ruling he couldn't control.

Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals and Auburn beat No. 18 LSU 18-13 on Saturday night after officials ruled Danny Etling's apparent last-gasp scoring pass came after time expired.

Malzahn said he knew there were only zeroes on the clock before the snap to Etling.

"I was pretty confident time had expired," Malzahn said. "It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it."

Etling rolled to his right and found D.J. Shark in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, setting off a short-lived celebration by LSU players (see full recap).

Hornibrook proves he's ready in Badgers' win over Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- By the time Alex Hornibrook's first start was over, there wasn't much question about whether he could handle one of the toughest road tests in the Big Ten.

Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and 11th-ranked Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.

"You've got to have respect for a guy whose first start is against a Michigan State defense," Wisconsin running back Corey Clement said.

"He's going to come out the next game and do even better. I think he's just getting his feet wet."

The freshman quarterback outplayed fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter (see full recap).

No. 23 Rebels find their rhythm, beat No. 12 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.

It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn't give away.

No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.

Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996 (see full recap).

Dobbs rallies No. 14 Vols to 38-28 win over No. 19 Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback.

And in the process, the Volunteers took out 11 years' worth of frustration on Florida.

Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.

"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."

This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by one point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games (see full recap).