Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rick Cleveland reviews opening weekend in college football.

What we learned from college football, Week One...

• Alabama is still Alabama. Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt.

• The upper decks at The Rock in Hattiesburg are still functional. They haven't been needed much in recent seasons. They still work. Bill McGillis, the USM A.D., would love to see those upper decks tested again and again.

• Mississippi State has more and stronger athletes than USM, but Todd Monken and his staff closed the gap over 365 days. One season after a 49-0 whitewashing at Starkville, the black and gold at least showed they belonged on the same field.

• That said, you had the idea Dak Prescott, had Dan Mullen green-lighted him, could have taken off just about any time he pleased. Seemed as if the Bulldogs used Prescott's legs only when it seemed entirely necessary. And his legs are what make him one of the most dynamic players on college football.

• That said, again, if Prescott is to become a successful professional quarterback, his accuracy must improve. He missed open receivers, usually with high throws. There's no question about his arm strength. The knock on Prescott is accuracy. That will continue to be the case until it improves.

• USM's Nick Mullens has no such accuracy problems. The kid is a gamer. If he was a threat as a runner, it would open up many more opportunities for the Eagles' running game. But Mullens is a tough nut and stood in against strong pressure from the Bulldogs defensive front, especially A.J. Jefferson.

• Speaking of Jefferson, formerly a tall, lanky defensive end at North Pike: He's the kind of player USM used to make a living on in the Jeff Bower years. Mullen doesn't miss guys like Jefferson, projecting what he will look like three years and 50 solid pounds down the road. USM could not block him.

• At Oxford, we learned that Chad Kelly's arm strength is as advertised and that Tennessee-Martin will not petition for Southeastern Conference membership any time soon. We learned that Robert Nkemdiche could easily play tight end or fullback at 300 pounds and that Laquon Treadwell has sufficiently recovered from the horrifying injury that ended his 2014 season and Ole Miss's 2014 championship hopes. Not sure what else we learned at Oxford other than that in the year 2015 A.D., at least 60,000 still would show up at the Colosseum to watch lions eat people.

• Never say never. Seventy-three years and 322 days had passed since the Temple Owls had beaten Penn State in football. It's not like they hadn't played one another often. They had played 39 times and Penn State had outscored Temple by 870 points in those 39 games. Saturday, Temple beat Penn State 27-10, which, come to think about it, is kind of like back at the Colosseum if the Christians turned the tables on the highly favored lions. Never. Say. Never.

• Week One traditionally gives us so many “sacrifice” games when many have-not smaller schools and football programs sacrifice their pride and a few bodies to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from the power conference schools (haves). Saturday, we learned once again that it does not always happen, witness the South Dakota State Jackrabbits' 41-38 victory over Big 12 Conference Kansas. Doesn't happen often, but the Jackrabbits got a big pay day and a victory as well.

• Most meaningful game of Week One? Take your pick: No. 3 Bama's demolishing of No. 21 Wisconsin or unranked Texas A&M's trouncing of No. 15 Arizona State. Both bode well for the Southeastern Conference, particularly the Western Division, when BCS rankings come out later in the season. We know the SEC West teams are going to beat up on one another, so out-of-conference victories over quality opposition become all the more important. Bama and A&M both clocked nationally ranked teams by 18 and 21 points respectively. That's a fantastic start for the SEC West.

Rick Cleveland ( is executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.


Anonymous said...

TAMU's performance was most impressive. Defensive coordinators are important. Chavis is making a difference. Not sure how his loss will hurt LSU, but they've got so much talent, I'm not sure he's needed. Anxious to see what they look like. Alabama did just what Alabama does against any team that wants to ground and pound.

So glad this addition was made to this site.

Anonymous said...

Surprised by Jake Coker's solid performance. He looked decent against solid competition. Curious to see whether Saban has figured out that 6 foot 3, 265 pound LBs do not match up well against the spread option. Supposedly he's got two or three redshirts who can cover in space that will see action against spread teams. The game coming up against the Mississippi Black Bears will be a good test.

Anonymous said...

Great read. Have Rick weekly if possible.

Kingfish said...

It is. JJ signed up for the syndication.

Anonymous said...

I like me some Rick Cleveland. In my opinion he is part of the First Family in Mississippi sports reporting.

Anonymous said...

No comment regarding the indefinite benching of Tunsil? Haha

Clanga Langa Lang (no relation to Alan) said...

LSU opens against my Dawgs in a few days. Lookin' to see a repeat of last September, just different venue.

Anonymous said...

Week 1 saw some unfortunate Season ending injuries occur unfortunately

Anonymous said...

If my memory serves me correctly, if it is found out that Tunsil was illegally recruited, by that I mean traceable money, I believe the SEC can invalidate all wins in games where he played. It is beginning to look more serious than we initially believed.

Anonymous said...

@2:02: I like the way you phrased it, "... if it is FOUND OUT that Tunsil was illegally recruited, ...." [Emphasis added]. Your phraseology is entirely accurate because no sane person seriously questions whether he was illegally recruited. The only unresolved question is whether the inept NCAA has the intestinal fortitude to complete an investigation and issue findings at a point in time when their decision makes any difference.

Anonymous said...

Love me some Rick, too. But there's no BCS anymore.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting these every week. Very enjoyable.

Weenie Roast In The Grove said...

Love it when a black bear fan comes to the rescue and tells us nobody with a sane mind would believe anything untoward could happen in the program.

Reckon this is why Freezus benched Tunsil....because he is of the same opinion? Freezus is concerned only about having to vacate a few wins. The term is FORFEIT.

Anonymous said...

Freeze isn't the one that is sitting Tunsil. Ole Miss office of compliance are the ones sitting Tunsil.

Bear Facts said...

Oh, then, say it ain't so. I distinctly heard Freeze in his little presser say "I made a decision, in the interest of R program, to suspend him from play. I have confidence that R people are on top of this".

Anonymous said...

The clang of your repulsive cowbells has more purpose than the chatter of your mouths. The original possessor of the cowbell is more attractive & more intelligent than the secondary possessor now at Moo U. You folks could set a world record with the highest number of humans rattling a senseless minuet brain in ones grossly inflated head.
That video "Any cow of mine" typifies your pasture barn of a school, only Mississippi would classify that as an institution of higher learning. Higher than a cow patty, that's questionable!

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS