Voelkel: In Wisconsin sports, Packers are sun that refuses to shine

first_imgIn the solar system that is the Wisconsin sports landscape, the Green Bay Packers are the sun. The Milwaukee Brewers, relevant once a lifetime, are Halley’s Comet. Despite their rare appearances, they still manage a small cult following. University of Wisconsin football is a shooting star — it looks pretty cool at first and people wish on it, but it eventually flames out and the expectations go unfulfilled. The Milwaukee Bucks are a dead satellite floating aimlessly through space.In other words, everything revolves around the Packers.That being the case, it must be one heck of an occasion for the Brewers to knock the Packers off the state’s largest radio station, as was the case last Sunday when Brewers’ game number 162 usurped Packers’ game four.So, sure, the Brewers are front and center now that they are in the playoffs. But in two weeks (or at this rate, mere days) the Packers will once again be the center of attention. And when that time comes, a Green Bay offense that has sputtered since the first half of its Week 2 win over Detroit, a defense that is in shambles with injury issues and a questionable punting game will be in focus.Injuries are unavoidable at times, and it seems the Packers have hit a rough patch on that front. Six defensive starters either missed all or most of practice time this week. As healthy as the Packers were for most of the season last year, they are just as banged up now.But while injuries are unavoidable, several questionable offseason moves have left the Packers in a tough spot at quarterback and punter.Green Bay management had its reasons for not bringing Favre back. The Packers had moved on with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback and tweaked the offense to better fit his skill set. To bring back Favre, the offense would have had to be readjusted. Given the quick turnaround before the start of the regular season, it just wouldn’t have worked.For proof, just look at all the struggles Favre has had picking up the Jets offense. Having to learn a completely new playbook and offensive language, assimilate himself into the locker room and develop a rapport with a new set of receivers. He’s doing a terrible job!Oh, wait. Never mind.The old fart only leads the whole league in passer rating and touchdowns and is completing more than 70 percent of his passes. Not like that’s all that great.But, in all seriousness, the Favre situation is really beside the point. The biggest mistake the Green Bay front office made when it came to the quarterback position is going into the season with exactly zero professional starts from its three signal callers. That’s right, dear reader, before Week 1, you and two friends started as many NFL games at quarterback as the entire Packers’ roster.Now, Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm were very good collegiate quarterbacks in their day. Eventually, one or both could still end up a serviceable professional. But to roll into an NFL season with two completely green reserves behind an injury-prone starter at the most important position on the field seems at the worst, dumb — at the best, ballsy.Now Rodgers could be out for this weekend’s game against Atlanta, meaning Flynn would get the start. In his first meaningful action a week ago against Tampa Bay, Flynn looked, well, like the seventh-round pick he was.When Rodgers or Flynn and the Green Bay offense is forced to punt, another questionable offseason move will be on display.After a solid season a year ago and a decent preseason camp, the Packers made the surprising decision to release punter Jon Ryan during the final round of cuts. In his place, the team picked up Derrick Frost. Frost, cut by Washington at the end of its training camp, averaged more than three total yards and one net yard less than Ryan during 2007. Through four games, Frost has had just one punt downed inside the 20-yard line. Not all that great for someone who management expected to excel as a directional punter.Aside from one outlier 65-yard punt against Dallas two weeks ago, Frost hasn’t had all that great a distance or hang time on his punts, either. Against Tampa Bay, Frost averaged just more than 30 net yards per punt, an abysmal number indicative of a punter not giving his coverage unit enough time to cover the kick adequately.Rodgers will eventually regain full health, and the punting situation should eventually work itself out. Given the division they play in, the Packers will likely make the playoffs. But when you’re the sun and every move is filtered through a magnifying glass, the tiniest slip-ups end up being fires to some.Ben is a former sports editor of The Badger Herald. Have a different view on the Wisconsin solar system of sports? He can be reached at [email protected]last_img read more

SHOCKER: Syracuse cruises past undefeated Louisville for 1st win over top-10 BCS opponent in decade

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Ryan Nassib and Alec Lemon embraced at the 44 yard line as their teammates streamed onto the field. Nassib had just taken the final knee, running out the clock to preserve a stunning Syracuse victory over an unbeaten Louisville team.The seniors suffered through a 4-8 season in 2009. They took the program to a bowl victory in 2010. And they saw much of their final two seasons defined by disappointment.“We’ve been through a lot, a lot of ups and downs and just that moment, taking that knee, knowing that you seal that victory,” Lemon said. “Ryan and I are great friends and it’s just something special to share that moment with him.”In that moment, Syracuse (5-5, 4-2 Big East) moved one win away from bowl eligibility, shocking Louisville (9-1, 4-1) 45-26 in front of 40,312 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The touted Cardinals offense led by Teddy Bridgewater never clicked against a swarming SU defense. And the Orange offense never slowed, beating the UofL defense with an even balance of 278 yards rushing largely from Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, and a big day through the air for Nassib and Lemon.It was Syracuse’s biggest victory since it defeated No. 11 West Virginia 49-23 in the Dome last October, and the program’s first victory over a team ranked in the Top 10 in the Bowl Championship Series since it earned a 50-42 win over No. 8 Virginia Tech in 2002.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We’re proud of how they played in three phases,” SU head coach Doug Marrone said. “It just shows that when you have the capability of executing this way, we’re a very good football team.”The dominant performance by the Orange prompted Louisville head coach Charlie Strong to say he was “very embarrassed” for his program, which suffered its first loss of the season after cruising to nine wins and climbing to No. 9 in the BCS rankings.“We didn’t play well as a football team — offense, defense or special teams,” Strong said. “When that happens to you and you have those types of issues, it’s what happens — you come into an environment like this and lose a game.”Louisville struggled from the start.Bridgewater and the Cardinals offense had to burn two timeouts during their first drive, failing to stay composed in front of a raucous Carrier Dome crowd. Louisville settled for a field goal to tie the game 3-3.The score was even at 10-10 going into the second quarter when the Orange started to separate itself.Nassib connected with a wide-open Lemon for a 13-yard touchdown on a fade route into the left corner of the end zone to cap a 92-yard drive and move ahead 17-10. The frustration started to build for the Cardinals as cornerback Andrew Johnson chased after the wide receiver in vain.The two hooked up for another touchdown to expand the lead to 14 after Lemon burned Louisville safety Hakeem Smith, causing his teammate Calvin Pryor to clap in frustration as he watched SU celebrate another touchdown.“We thrive off of momentum,” SU center Macky MacPherson said. “We thrive off of getting that first down. We thrive on tempo, out-tempoing defenses, getting them tired and eventually hitting that big play.”Syracuse continued to build on its momentum and took a 31-13 lead into halftime. And the Orange picked off right where it left off after the break.The defense only allowed the Cardinals four plays before a punt capped their first drive of the half, and the offense answered with a nine-play, 74-yard drive that ended in a touchdown.Smith’s score opened up a 25-point lead for Syracuse, setting off the first of many celebrations along the sideline throughout the half while draining all emotion from the stunned Cardinals team — ranked No. 11 in the nation and undefeated — across the field.“Seeing the other team kind of hanging their head, kind of start giving up a little bit, we just feed off of that,” SU linebacker Siriki Diabate said. “And we just keep on going and just getting better each play.“And the fans, the whole sideline, feeds into that and we just keep on going.”The celebration continued throughout the game, during Nassib and Lemon’s final embrace and into the locker room.And though Marrone admitted he tends to look to the next game — forgetting victories the moment they happen — he said he wanted his players to enjoy their biggest win of the season.“I want to be able to celebrate this,” Marrone said. “Our kids did a nice job today.” Comments Related Stories Gallery: Syracuse pulls off shocking upset of No. 11 Louisville in Carrier Domecenter_img Published on November 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected]last_img read more

Transfer:Yaya Toure winks at PSG

first_imgYaya Toure has added further fuelled reports that he is ready to quit Manchester City this summer after admitting it would be an ‘honour’ to play for Paris Saint-Germain.  The Ivorian last week put City fans on the edge after confirming reports from his advisor that he was unhappy with how the club chose to celebrate his birthday and revealed that he would speak about his future after this summer’s World Cup. Desire – Given the objectives of Paris, how could I not to be interested in a club like that? he wondered while seaking to France Football. PSG has become one of the powerhouses in Europe. It would be an honour to be a part of such a club one day, if I can be of service, he added. Colossal The French champions last week agreed a colossal fee for Chelsea’s David Luiz, thought to be in the region of £45m, which would make the Brazilian the most expensive defender of all time. The Parisians could continue their pursuit of a squad to challenge for the Champions League title with the acquisition of Toure, who has three years left to run on his Manchester City contract.last_img read more