Sunday, October 30, 2011

Steelers Defense "Mans" up their coverage to hold Brady in check

The Steelers gave the Heinz Field faithful something to go home happy about after holding New England's offense in check during a 25-17 victory Sunday night.

Moving away from their usual tactics of zone coverage, the Steelers moved their secondary up close to the line, blanketing the Patriots weapons with strong coverage.  This allowed the Steeler pass rush to get some good pressure on Brady. 

On top of the strong defensive performance, the Steeler offense put up some huge numbers not only in yardage, but also in time of possession.  This enabled the Steelers to keep the ball out of Brady's hands.

This might be the first time in a long time I can say this, but the Steelers coaching staff definitely outcoached Bill Belichick's crew in this one.  Hats off to Bruce Arians for calling a strong ball control type offense instead of going for the homerun ball every other pass.  Hats off to Dick LeBeau for getting away from his comfort zone and allowing the Steeler secondary to force the issue in man coverage. 

This was an important game for the Steelers as it kept them ahead of the Ravens in the standings.  It gives the Steelers a tiebreaker over a potential AFC division winner, which could come into play for playoff seeding for bye weeks.

It also gives Pittsburgh a lot of momentum heading into next week's rematch against the Baltimore Ravens who embarrassed the Steelers in week 1.  That game is going to be a lot of fun.

Friday, October 28, 2011

World Series Jealousy

As I watched the final innings of Game 6 last night, I couldn't help but feel a lot of jealousy towards the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.  I wish it was the Pittsburgh Pirates finally competing in exciting baseball games like we saw last night.

Hometown hero David Freese hit a walkoff homerun to give the Cardinals a thrilling come from behind victory over the Rangers to force a deciding Game 7.

Imagine if local kid Neil Walker was able to propel the Battlin' Buccos in the same fashion.  Pittsburgh proved earlier in the year that they would fill up PNC Park if the baseball product was good.  Imagine the drama of October baseball added on top!

Alas, it's been 19 years since a baseball game had anywhere close to the implications of last night, and it left me feeling jealous of the other teams in the league who get to experience that kind of feeling.

Sure we have the Steelers and Penguins competing for titles, but baseball was always my very first love, and I'd love to see the Pirates win a title in my adult lifetime.  The last one was when I was a year old. 

Sometimes it's okay to be jealous.  

Pittsburgh To Host the 2012 NHL Draft

The NHL announced yesterday that the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the 2012 NHL Draft at the Consol Energy Center.

The city of Pittsburgh will serve as the epicenter of the NHL for a few days, which should provide a nice boost to the local economy. 

This is the kind of event that wasn't possible while the Penguins still resided in the Mellon Arena. 

Rumors are already swirling that the Penguins will also be pitching for a future All-Star game, which would also be nice to see. 

This is why an arena like the Consol Energy Center is a bigger boost for the region than say Heinz Field. Kudos to the Penguins for landing this event. 

Right now the Penguins are one of, if not the, premier franchises in the NHL, and the league's best player happens to play for them as well.  Any chance the league can get to showcase the city and the players is a win-win for both the NHL and the Penguins.

Pittsburgh has hosted the draft once before, and we'll need to hope they land better players than the ones that got picked in that one.  (Robert Dome and Josef Melichar anyone?)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life isn't always fair

There's an old saying, "Life is not fair." 

People work hard their entire lives chasing their dreams, and many fall short.  You can have all the talent in the world, and still never get that big break. 

Sometimes it's the other way around.  Pitt's star running back Ray Graham suffered a season-ending knee injury in Wednesday night's 35-20 victory over Connecticut.  You knew it was bad when he began reaching for his knee before the play was whistled dead.

The silence from the Heinz Field crowd was immediate.  This wasn't just any player lying on the ground, this was the nation's 2nd leading rusher.  The heart and soul of the Panthers.

Graham had to be helped off the field, and as he exited the playing area, tears streamed down his face.  It's a hard thing to be so close to your dreams of playing in the NFL only to see them become uncertain in a heartbeat.

He was putting up historical stats this year, and you had to wonder just how good he could be.  Then in an instant that all changed.

I felt for the guy.  You never want to see this happen in sports.  Sometimes we focus too much on the highlights, and moments like this are too easily forgotten.

There's nothing anyone could have done differently on the play, Graham just went airborne and landed awkwardly.  A cruel twist of fate. 

Now the Panthers must forge ahead without their superstar.  Zach Brown, the Wisconsin transfer, and quarterback Tino Sunseri must reforge the offense into their own mold. 

What about Graham?  His NFL hopes have to go on hold for a while, and perhaps he will return for another season at Pitt.  There will be a lot of questions about his knee as he tries to move up to the next level.  This might even cost him millions of dollars in contract money, but right now I don't think that's the first thing on his mind.

Knowing Graham and the competitor he is, I would imagine he's already mapping out his rehab schedule so he gets back into top shape as soon as possible.

He has a drive most other college kids can only dream about.  It gives him almost an unfair edge.  Pitt fans should be honored he plays for their team.  

Even as a fan of another team, I still respected the talent Ray Graham had.  He was dynamic and exciting to watch, and it's a shame I won't get to see him play again this year. 

Like they say...Life isn't fair.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Superman" has landed!

I would have blogged about this on Friday but I was out of town the entire weekend.

Earlier this summer, Pittsburgh had some Batman sightings, as the new blockbuster movie filmed scenes here.

The Pittsburgh Power announcer a blockbuster addition of their own.  The reigning 2011 JLS Ironman of the Year, P.J. Berry has been assigned to the Pittsburgh Power. 

If you are looking for one of the most dynamic players in the AFL today, a kick returner and wide receiver who can change a game on a dime, you'll be able to cheer for one this upcoming season.

Berry, who is nicknamed "Superman", set a new AFL record last year with 3,708 all purpose yards.  He also factored in on 41 touchdowns, five in the return game.  He was named a first team All-Arena member at kick returner.

P.J. Berry reveals a "Superman" shirt after a touchdown.
He instantly upgrades the Power both in the receiving corps and the kick return game. 

It's going to be very difficult for opposing defenses to contain Berry, Mike "Joystick" Washington, and Lonnell DeWalt.  Not to mention if the Power bring in another big time receiver. 

If you watched the Power take on the New Orleans VooDoo last year, you would have seen Berry torch the Power secondary for 9 catches, 91 yards, and 2 TD's, plus 151 return yards and a return touchdown.

This is the kind of player, as is Mike Washington, that can create a buzz in the Steel City.  The fact that the Power got them both is huge. 

Expect some big things from this duo, especially with former Arena Bowl MVP Kyle Rowley in the fold at quarterback.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Raiders gave up WHAT for Carson Palmer?

Today was the NFL trading deadline, and the Carson Palmer era ended in Cincinnati as he was dealt to the Raiders for a 2012 first round pick and a conditional 2013 pick.  If the Raiders make it to the AFC Championship game, the 2013 pick upgrades from a 2nd round pick to a first round pick.

My first thought was that the Raiders are idiots for giving up two elite draft picks for a guy who has never even won a playoff game.  Upon second glance, I'm pretty convinced this is the right assessment.

My second thought was that it's a shame a division rival got such a great deal for a player who was never going to see the field for them again.  I'd be worried about them getting premium players with those draft picks but then I consoled myself with the fact the Bengals usually screw up their top picks. 

Palmer is a guy who has not been the same since suffering a knee injury against the Steelers the year they went on to win Super Bowl XL.  I don't know how much he can bring to the table considering he hasn't taken a significant snap in what, 7 or 8 months? 

The receivers he has in Oakland are nowhere near as good as what he had in his prime for the Bengals.  I just don't think he's going to help them out all that much. 

To each their own, and I guess we'll see what he's able to do.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Power add to their defense.

2011 midseason acquisition Terrance Taylor, a defensive lineman, will be staying in Pittsburgh for the 2012 season.  He'll be joined by defensive back Chris LeFlore, who played last year for the Dallas Vigilantes.

Terrance Taylor - DL
Taylor came to Pittsburgh in a trade deadline deal, and was a strong force up the middle for the Power.  He had several blocked kicks, an interception, and 2 1/2 sacks in shared duty between Spokane and Pittsburgh. 

He has good size for the position, at 6'1" 315 pounds, and he played college ball for the Michigan Wolverines. 

LeFlore was involved in 80 tackles, had 18 passes blocked, and notched 5 interceptions.  He also shined in the return game, with 22 returns for 447 yards and 2 TD's.  He should provide stability to the Power return game, which saw their best return man, Jerome Mathis, struggle with injuries last year.

The Power roster is shaping out nicely.  I like how they have addressed their secondary so far, but as always, there are still strong players out there that can solidify this group.

The Power open their season on March 9th against the Orlando Predators.  Keep tuned into the blog for the latest news and analysis of your Pittsburgh Power.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Misery Continues For Pitt

The 2011 football season continues to spiral out of control for the Pitt Panthers, and there doesn't seem to be any sign of them slowing down their descent.

If the recap of losses is starting to sound like a broken record, I apologize.  The string of awful quarterback play continued for Pitt.  Starter Tino Sunseri completed 4 of 11 passes for 38 yards.  No TD's, no picks, no production whatsoever. 

He was benched in favor of Trey Anderson who completed 5 of 19 passes for 12 yards and two picks.  Let me just pause for a second and repeat that number.  12 yards and two picks.  With the yardage on his pick-six, he actually went backwards on the day. 

You would think the Panther coaching staff might have picked up on the fact that trying to throw the ball on a gusty fall day in Pittsburgh was an awful idea, especially with inaccurate quarterbacks.  I mean you only have the nation's leading runner on your team, yet you only give him the rock 12 times in the game.

People always are quick to yell at us armchair quarterbacks who don't play the game.  I mean what do we really know about football right?  It doesn't take much common sense to realize if your quarterbacks have sucked all season long in good passing conditions, they probably aren't going to magically improve in harder passing conditions.

Go with your strengths, go with Ray Graham.  Pitt didn't, because I guess Todd Graham wants to prove he's a genius or something.  He isn't.

I can't wait to hear him throw more of his players under the bus this week.  This has gone far beyond a talent issue.  We all know Pitt is weak at the crucial quarterback position.  The wide receivers aren't exactly noteworthy either.  Even more reason to ride your prized horse to victory, which Pitt didn't do.

This is now a coaching problem.  If Todd Graham had swallowed his pride and ran out the clock against Iowa, Pitt wouldn't have blown a 21 point lead.  Maybe the season takes on a whole different tone. 

The offense was supposed to carry this team.  If the offense was even "average" at this point Pitt would probably be 6-1.  It's a disgrace.

Pitt fans deserve better than this.  They've patiently waited through disappointing season after disappointing season.  Many of them, as well as outsiders like me, bought into the hype that this coach was something special, and would electrify the city.  We invested our hard earned time in fool's gold.

There will be people that still hold out hope that Pitt will somehow turn this around and win the Big East title.  Mark it down now, it's not happening.

Not only is this team a losing team, they are unwatchable.  If they at least lived up to the preseason hype and were losing some high scoring shootouts, then at least you'd be getting your money's worth.

I wondered at the beginning of the year why no local affiliates picked up the coverage of these games.  Maybe it's now all too obvious why Pitt is relegated to ESPN-3 and ESPN-U with women calling their games and mispronouncing their names.  No one is watching anyways.

It's sad to see how far this once proud football program has fallen.  Good programs don't lose homecoming games to the Utah Utes.  Worst of all, there's no end in sight. 

Anyone wishing Dave Wannstadt was back?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Power offensive lineman ready to boss opponents around.

It's time for the Power offensive line to get bossy with the opposition.

Joe "The Boss" Blanks, a 6'4" 330 guard from Erie is ready to shine this season for the Power.

The former Winston-Salem State and Cathedral Prep standout played for the Erie Explosion last season and was a major cog on an offensive line that helped protect SIFL MVP Adam DiMichele. 

Blanks spent five weeks on the roster of the Dallas Vigilantes before leaving to join Erie.  After Erie's season ended in the first round of the SIFL playoffs, Blanks was signed by the Cleveland Gladiators.

He played one game for the Gladiators before injury cut his promising season short.

He's a dominating, athletic big man who will play guard this season.  If the name Blanks sounds familiar, you may also have heard of his uncle Billy Blanks of "Tae-Bo" fame. 

I asked Joe if he had anything to say to the fans of Pittsburgh.  "I'm happy to have found a new home and I am ready to dominate this year," said Blanks.

Welcome to Pittsburgh Joe, you'll find a great home here in the Steel City.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a new home

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a new home, and no, nothing has happened to PNC Park.

The Pirates announced today that the new flagship of their Radio network will be KDKA-FM a.k.a 93.7 The Fan.

After spending several years with Clear Channel's News Talk 104.7, it is only fitting that the Pirates are back at KDKA.  This time around it will be on a stronger FM signal compared to 1020 AM.

I like the move from the Pirates standpoint.  I don't think 104.7 was a natural fit considering the rest of their day is spent ranting about political topics.   93.7 The Fan is much better suited to this task considering their tagline is "All Sports, All The Time."

I may not be the biggest "Fan" of some of the sports talk hosts on the station but this should at least ensure the team is getting plenty of discussion.  Of course I thought the same thing when they became the official station of the Pittsburgh Power, and yet the hosts never want to talk about the arena team.  Many would go out of their way to mock the Power.

In all fairness, I do think the station does a good job as the official station of Pitt Sports.  A mixed bag you could say in terms of their overall coverage.

Given his background in baseball coverage, particularly serving as host of several Seattle Mariners shows, I would expect Vinnie Richichi to be given a prominent role in covering the Pirates.  I'm not a fan of Richichi at all, but it is what it is.

In the end this is what is best for the Pirates so kudos to them for making the right move.

Three more players assigned to the Power roster.

The Power were assigned three more players today as they build their 2012 roster. 

Wide receiver/defensive back Ahmaad Smith comes to the Power after having a cup of coffee with the Iowa Barnstormers last season.  He has spent time on the roster for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. 

Smith was a finalist on the reality show “4th and Long” which aired on Spike TV.  Hosted by Michael Irvin, it pitted six wide receivers and six defensive backs and they competed for a training camp roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys.  He finished as the runner-up to the eventual winner, Jesse Holley.

Offensive lineman and fullback Mike Lucian will return for a second season with the Pittsburgh Power.

Lucian joined the team midway through the season last year and served as the team's fullback when Josh Rue was cut late in the season.  He also saw time on the offensive line when it was hit hard by injuries late in the year. 

He played his college ball at Penn State.  That's more than good enough for this fan of the Blue and White.  Lucian is listed as 6'3" 305 pounds and brings good size to the Power offensive line.

The Power also picked up wide receiver Carlos Suggs.  He is listed as 6'5", 200 pounds.  Played college ball at Mississippi.  According to, he had 2 catches for 19 yards in 9 games played.  The only thing google searching brought up was a few YouTube links.  Here's one for your enjoyment.

Stay tuned to the blog for the latest news and analysis about your Pittsburgh Power as well as other Pittsburgh sports!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Steelers/Titans wrapup

Great showing by the Steeler offensive line today.  Max Starks looked strong in his return to the team, and that has to be sweet relief for Steeler fans.  I'm tired of seeing Ben run for his life, so it was nice to see him get some time out there today.

Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer had a strong day as a dual threat running attack.  Dwyer's 76 yard run was the longest run by a Steeler since Willie Parker took it to the house in Super Bowl XL.

Big Ben threw for five touchdowns and really the only mistake I saw out of him was the missed communication interception he threw at the end of the first half.  Other than that outstanding work by the Steeler signal caller.

We finally saw Hines Ward get reacquainted with the offense, and it was huge.  Not only did he have several big catches and two touchdowns, but you saw him making key blocks downfield to spring the rest of the receivers.  Good to see him focused and productive.

Defensively, the Steelers didn't seem to miss James Harrison, Aaron Smith or Casey Hampton. Chris Hoke had a strong day at the nose tackle position, blowing up multiple Chris Johnson scampers and allowing the linebackers to make plays again. 

It's no coincidence that LaMarr Woodley had his finest day this year because of the strong play in front of him.

Even the coaching staff had one of their best games of the year.  The fake punt call was a huge momentum boost for the offense and really seemed to carry the day.  Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians finally woke up and started calling some short passing routes which in turn opened up the running game and gave Roethlisberger more time to make decisions. 

It was a strong game all around for the Steelers and a nice change of pace from last week's disaster by the O-Line. 

It also adds to my frustration with how stubborn this coaching staff has been.  It took three awful games by the offensive line to finally force the team to re-sign Max Starks.  It took those same three awful outputs to prove to coach Arians he needed to alter his offensive scheme.

At least we're finally seeing glimpses of what the Steelers showed us in the preseason.  Maybe the team is finally getting on track.

Better late than never. 

The Steelers wrap up their tour of the AFC South next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Gametime will be 1:00 PM at Heinz Field. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

One of the most boring 5-1 teams in the country....

Most college football fans are accustomed to epic shootouts, where defense is an afterthought.  The offensive talent in the NCAA usually dwarfs their defensive counterparts.

Penn State is the antithesis of this notion. 

The offense is awful this year, mostly as a result of the coaching staff's unwillingness to install one quarterback as the leader of the team.  This indecision manifests itself on the scoreboard every week.

Even the broadcasters are calling out Penn State for this.  They are equally praising the Nittany Lion defense which is the SOLE reason that Penn State finds themselves with a 5-1 record point in this season.

Tom Bradley continues to prove why he is one of the finer coaching minds in the country, and it continues to astound me why he is never getting the call to take over as a head coach of a program.  

It's scary to think how good this team could be if the offense could just get untracked.  They held Alabama to 27 points, which is below average by the Crimson Tide's standards. 

This week they held the nation's 28th ranked passing attack to 169 yards and two interceptions.  This was the same Iowa team that shredded Pitt for 399 yards passing and a 21 point comeback.  PSU made that same offense look like a bunch of high schoolers.

It's not pretty, but it's effective.  There's no telling just how far PSU can go behind this defense.  Things will get trickier as the opponent's talent level builds up, but again, this was a solid passing team that PSU held in check today.

They'll face another solid test in the form of the 19th ranked rushing attack of the Purdue Boilermakers.  This might test the linebackers who are without Michael Mauti for the remainder of the season. 

Sure it might be boring to some of you, but in the words of the recently departed Al Davis, "Just Win Baby".  That's all that matters in the end.

Back To Reality Pitt Fans

Back to reality Pitt fans...

As usual, it's very hard to gauge this Pitt football team.  One week you win 44-17, then you get blown out against Rutgers.  It's not like Rutgers did much offensively in this game either, that's the sad part.

Rutgers and Pitt were a combined 5 for 29 on third down.  The game seemed to stretch on forever.  I thought the Notre Dame game was awful, but this one seemed worse.

Tino Sunseri had another awful day, finishing 14 of 28 (50%) for 127 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions.  

Ray Graham came to play as always, the only bright spot for Pitt on the day.  His final stat line was 165 rushing yards and a touchdown, plus he had two catches for 19 yards. 

The defining drive for me was the one where Pitt converted third and long three straight times only to see each conversion wiped out by penalty.  Two straight offensive pass interference calls against Drew Carswell followed by an illegal forward pass against Tino Sunseri. 

Pitt got flagged for having two players with the same number on the field at one point.  That one made me laugh.  I'll never understand why there isn't a rule forcing teams to only have one player per number.  Of course this is the same league that wiped out a touchdown by LSU because of "taunting" (What a joke...).

Kevin Harper missed another field goal and had a kickoff go out of bounds following the numbers penalty,  Field position was a major issue for Pitt in this one.

I guess it's back to the drawing board for Pitt.  Still way too inconsistent on both sides of the ball.  It's possible that last week was about as good as it gets for Tino Sunseri. 

Pitt is back at home next week to try and avenge last year's loss to Utah.  Game time is at 12:00 PM EST.

PS:  ESPNU really needs to teach their announcers to learn how to pronounce names.  Pam Ward was awful on play by play, and it was compounded by the fact she didn't even bother to learn how to pronounce Sunseri.  That's the cardinal rule of announcing.  LEARN THE ROSTER!!!

F-Yeah Nyjer Morgan!

The deciding game five of the NLDS between the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks came down to the ninth inning when former Pittsburgh Pirate Nyjer Morgan drove in the winning run to become a playoff hero.

His on field heroics were quickly overshadowed by his post game antics.  As the TBS field reporter was interviewing Ryan Bruan, an exhuberant and ecstatic Morgan was whooping it up on the field screaming "F-Yeah!" to anyone who would listen.  The reporter put the microphone directly in front of Morgan and his vulgarity was amplified to all of the TBS viewing audience.

I know offensive language is called "offensive" for a reason, but I honestly think people need to chill out.  It has to be very exciting for these players to bring home Milwaukee's first postseason series win since 1982.  Considering I've only been alive since the late 70's, let's just say it has been a long time coming for the Brew Crew.

These aren't automatons playing the game for our enjoyment, they are flesh and blood emotional humans just like us.  We're all guilty of using the lord's name in vain when someone cuts us off in traffic.  We all give the single finger salute to people who piss us off.

Nobody is perfect, and isn't that what makes us unique?

People riding Morgan today about what he did need to lighten up.  People take themselves way too seriously anymore, and everything we do in life is so freaking politically correct it makes me sick. 

I'll stop that tangent right now before this becomes a political rant.

I wish more people remembered the fact that baseball at its heart is a game.  These players are supposed to play for the enjoyment of the game.  I find it refreshing to see someone actually act human after a big win.  It's a change of pace.

Pittsburgh fans will remember Greg Lloyd's reaction after the Steelers survived a hail mary pass from the Colts to advance to Super Bowl XXX.  They'll also remember Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko, who is a relatively calm guy, losing it a bit and dropping an F bomb after a huge win over Notre Dame. 

As I said, nobody's perfect.  If you want to blame anyone for this whole mess, blame TBS for not having a way to dump the feed.  Blame the reporter for shoving a mic directly in the way of a guy screaming expletives.  If not for her, none of us would have even heard Morgan swearing.

It all comes back to emotions, and I for one am glad to see some players still have them.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pittsburgh Power News - (10/7/11)

The Pittsburgh Power are changing up their kicking game.  Paul Edinger is out, Taylor Rowan is in.  Somewhere in Penn Hills, Becky is jumping for joy.

Rowan is a two year veteran who played his 2010 and 2011 seasons for the Spokane Shock.  He converted six of nine field goals last year, and had an Extra Point percentage of 85.5% ranked 6th amongst regular kickers in the AFL last year.  His 136 points was good for fourth best amongst AFL kickers.

On the defensive line, the Power will be bringing back Neil Purvis, who had an injury marred 2011 season.  If he is fully healthy, he will boost the Power pass rush considerably.   The Power have also signed defensive end Dominie Pittman, a 6'3" 239 pound defensive end who played for the B.C. Lions of the CFL in 2010.   Hey with a name like Dom, he HAS to be good!

There is also a change to the coaching staff as defensive coordinator Maurice Blanding has been replaced by former New Orleans Voodoo head coach Derek Stingley. 

“Adding someone of Derek’s experience, both as a player and coach will be a great help to me and our players,” remarked coach Chris Siegfried. “Stingley was drawing interest from many teams and we are excited he chose to be a part of what we are building in Pittsburgh,” added owner and general manager Matt Shaner.

The Pittsburgh Power continue to build their roster as they prepare for the 2012 season opener against the Orlando Predators on Friday March 9th, 2012.    Several players are expected to sign contracts following open tryouts this past weekend.

Also rumors continue to swirl as to what other big time players might sign on with the Power for 2012.  As they become facts, I will report the news to you here. 

In Dance team news, the Pittsburgh Sparks have posted info on several dance team workouts for women interested in dancing for the Sparks this season.    These preliminary workouts are intended to give dancers a "leg up" on the audition process.  

Follow the link for all the exact details on how you can be part of a great gameday atmosphere at the Consol Energy Center as well as promotional appearances around town.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2012 AFL Schedule released

The AFL released the 2012 schedule Friday night.  Your Pittsburgh Power will be the NFL Network Game of the Week four times. 

The Power will be involved in the AFL opening game for the second year in the row, this time on the road against the Orlando Predators, a playoff team from last year. 

The Power will also be featured in a week three home game against the division rival Philadelphia Soul.  Week 14 will also see the Power travel to Cleveland to take on another division rival.

The fourth featured game will be the final game of the regular season when the defending Arena Bowl champion Jacksonville Sharks come north to Pittsburgh.

Other games of note include June 3rd on the road against Arena Bowl runner up Arizona, along with home and home division series against Milwaukee, Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Overall, the Power will play 8 of their 18 games against playoff teams from last year (Cleveland twice , Orlando twice, Georgia twice, Jacksonville & Arizona), which should provide lots of exciting entertainment for Power fans this year. 

This schedule will really offer the Power a lot of exposure in the AFL this year, which could be key to attracting big time talent to play in the Steel City.  I like the fact they will be taking on two tough teams right off the bat.  Win early and set the tone for the season.  

It's going to be a fun season Power fans, so make sure to get your season tickets if you haven't already.  We need to get the Consol Energy Center rocking again this year!

For the latest Power information, visit the Power Homepage.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pittsburgh Power sign Kyle Rowley for 2012

Just yesterday I blogged about the Power needing to get more voltage out of free agency.  The need to bring in some talent to compete with Philadelphia was becoming greater and greater with every big signing by the Soul.
Less than 24 hours later, the Power have signed former ArenaBowl MVP quarterback Kyle Rowley for the 2012 season.

The AFL is a quarterback driven league, and while the Power already had Bill Stull signed, he is still somewhat inexperienced when it comes to arena football.  You absolutely need someone who knows how to get the job done.

Rowley is coming off a 2011 season that saw him throw for 3322 yards (12th in AFL), 78 TD's (10th), and 15 interceptions.  He had a completion percentage of 64.8% (7th).  he would have ranked higher in those categories but he missed four games while on injured reserve.

In 2010 he led the Spokane Shock to the ArenaBowl title and finished with 4475 yards, 102 TD's, only 11 interceptions, and hit on 65.5% of his passes.  If he can post numbers like that again, it will make Pittsburgh a formidable opponent to defend. 

The Power have their quarterbacks, now it's time to fill out the rest of the offense.  This was a great day for fans of the black and gold.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pittsburgh Power need to amp up their signings.

The Pittsburgh Power have made a few signings from last year's roster, including standout receiver Mike "Joystick" Washington, and Ironman player Lonnell DeWalt.  If you look at the offseason our cross-state division rivals have had though, it's not nearly enough.

The Philadelphia Soul have brought in two quarterbacks with a strong background in playing the indoor game.

Dan Raudabaugh (4741 yards, 90 TD's, 17 Int's in 2011) finished in the top five in many categories for the AFL in passing.  He led Dallas to the playoffs, and Power fans surely remember his huge performance in the Power's 76-75 shootout win in Dallas. 

The Soul have also signed Adam DiMichele, the reigning SIFL MVP.  DiMichele finished his season for the Erie Explosion with 3247 yards, 91 TD's and only 7 interceptions, all of this through only 12 games.  His biggest game was against the Trenton Steel when he set an SIFL record with 12 passing touchdowns and 400 yards passing in a single game.

I was personally holding out hope that DiMichele, who played ball locally at Sto-Rox, would sign with the Power.  I would still love to see DiMichele's favorite target last season, Kevin Concepcion, don the black and gold in 2012.

Either Raudabaugh or DiMichele would have been a huge upgrade over the only quarterback currently listed on the Power's roster, former Pitt quarterback Bill Stull.

The Soul have also brought back Wide Receiver Donovan Morgan (137 receptions, 1957 yards, and 37 TD's) and have signed the AFL's top fullback in Derrick Ross (167 rushes, 622 yards, 39 TD's). 

Rumors are swirling that WR Tiger Jones (170 receptions, 2225 yards, 39 TD's) could also follow former head coach Clint Dolezel to Philly. 

The Power secondary really struggled last year after Carlos Campbell and Royce Adams left the lineup, and it doesn't bode well if they have to face a team this talented twice with the division on the line.  This isn't even taking into consideration the defending division champion Cleveland Gladiators.  They have also been kind of quiet on the transaction front.

Philly is going to be out for blood after falling on their faces last year as a preseason favorite to win it all. 

One of the biggest names I've heard floating around the Power so far is quarterback Darryl Clark, who attended open tryouts this past weekend.  While I think he'd be a solid signing, I'm not sure he's strong enough to lead an AFL team to a championship.  Philly has two guys that fit that mold.

I'm still waiting to see the Power go above and beyond signing players from last year's 9-9 squad.   It wasn't good enough last year, and it doesn't look like it'll be enough this year.

I know it's early in the process, but I think Power fans need to start seeing some big names sign on to give us some hope for a successful season in the Steel City.

You don't want to lose before the season starts.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Penn State Needs To Stop Playing Quarterback Roulette

The Penn State Nittany Lions have been walking a tightrope act so far this year by refusing to name one quarterback as the outright number one.   In my opinion, the only thing keeping them on the rope is a stifling defense that ranks tenth in the NCAA.

Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin have both taken significant snaps for the blue and white with mixed results.  If I am being honest here, I really don't think either is strong enough to lead Penn State to a Big Ten Championship, but playing the revolving door isn't helping the situation.

I'm struggling to understand why Matt McGloin hasn't been named the starter by now.  His 63% completion percentage destroys the disgusting 46.5% Bolden has posted.   No brainer, right?

McGloin has three touchdowns versus zero interceptions.  Bolden on the other hand has one touchdown against three interceptions.  Another no brainer.

McGloin also outproduced Rob Bolden in 2010, so I'm really not sure what he has to do further to prove he's the right guy for the job.   The only knock against McGloin was his awful five interception performance in the Outback bowl game against Florida. 

Penn State did not record a passing touchdown until their FOURTH Game this year.   I know the offense is built around Silas Redd, Brandon Beachum, and Curtis Dukes in the rushing attack, but you can't be a good football team by being completely one dimensional.  Eventually the competition level increases.  We saw what happened against Alabama. 

The reason for the inconsistency on offense is because the receivers can't get used to one style or the other and build off of that.  When your starting quarterback has gone four games, has a completion percentage under fifty percent, and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, it's time to go with McGloin. 

It's time for the coaching staff to do what's right for Penn State, and end the disaster that is the Rob Bolden era at starting quarterback.   He's had more chances than anyone deserves and has blown all of them.

Pirates Show Improvement, But it Sure Doesn't Feel Like It.

If you simply compared the win-loss records between the 2010 and 2011 versions of the Pittsburgh Pirates, you would see a noticeable improvement in wins.

For the first half of the 2011 season, the Pirates came out of nowhere and plundered and pillaged the attention of many die hard sports fans in the Steel City.  People who hadn't cared about baseball for over 20 years began finding their way to PNC Park.

I've always been a baseball fan.  In fact it was my first love as a kid.  My grandfather would put the games on the radio and we'd listen to them together.  I never imagined in a million years that watching Sid Bream slide across home plate would be the last time I would see my Pittsburgh Pirates compete in a playoff game.

All the memories and feelings of my childhood/early teenage years came flooding back this year when the Pirates were still in contention at the All-Star Break.  While I was still unsure of how competitive they were going to stay down the stretch, I at least began to truly believe the streak of losing seasons could end.

Then came the night of infamy known on Twitter as #JerryMealsSaysItsSafe. 

I stayed up late watching an epic baseball game take place once again between the Pirates and the Atlanta Braves.  19 innings of riveting baseball wiped clean by one of, if not THE worst, baseball calls in MLB history.

It was a sucker punch to gut just like Sid Bream's slide decades ago.  At the time it was just a loss, but you couldn't help but feel a sense of dread that this would turn out to be much more than one loss.  The Pirates plummeted to a 19-43 record after that call. 

I'm not naive enough to think a correction in wins and losses wasn't coming, because just about everyone knew the pitching staff was way above their heads early on this year.   The offense never did come around, and what we are left to deal with was an epic freefall from a first place team.

Fourth place would have been just fine for most Pirates fans before the season, but the tease of competitive baseball and the second half regression left me frustrated yet again.  This time it seems worse to me because they stuck around long enough to actually make you believe this was the year the streak ended. 

It was stunning to see so many sellouts at the ball field, so many people chatting on Twitter and Facebook about the Pirates.  It may have been unfortunate timing for the Pittsburgh Power, who often had key games up against a key Pirates series.

Pirates fans have now proven they will support a winner, so it is up to Bob Nutting and Frank Coonelly to make that happen.  There's no more excuses this time.  Anything less than a strong effort to improve the major league product simply will not do.

I will look ahead to 2012 with some optimism, and as always, I will believe with eternal optimism that the Pirates will once again find their way above mediocrity in a season.  I will dare to dream that someday the black and gold buccaneers will sail into the playoffs and chase after a World Series crown.

But for now, I'll simply retain the usual empty feeling this team leaves in my heart for another winter.   It's a good thing the Steelers and Penguins provide plenty of firewood to keep us warm.