9/7 Miller Time: I'm Baaaaack! Let's Talk Some Football...

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Greg Miller

After popular demand, I have returned to the world of blogging.

I feature after the first big weekend of college football and as we get ready to embark on a new NFL season and of course as we get deeper into the high school season, there is no better time to start sharing my thoughts.

Let's start with a little NFL...

Things officially kick off on Local 6 Thursday with the Titans and defending world champion Steelers (shameless plug.) A big congrats goes out to a handful of locals who will be on NFL rosters opening weekend.

Murray High and Murray State grad Shane Andrus, after years of falling just short, finally earns a regular season roster spot with the Colts. Way to go Shane! I've had the chance to meet him a few times and he is a class act and I couldn't be happier he's finally going to get to kick in an NFL regular season game. He's being kept in Indy as an insurance policy for the injured Adam Vinatieri. Here's hoping Andrus puts one through the uprights on Sunday.

Another standing ovation for former Murray State standout Rod Harper. Against all odds, Harper has gone from Arena Football 2 star to NFL wide receiver in less than a year. He was awesome in the pre-season taking two punts back for touchdowns. Those efforts were enough to earn him a roster spot with the Saints. Nice work.

Here's hoping Justin Harrell (Martin Westview) has a healthy recovery from that bad back that has plagued him since he got to the NFL. The Packers decided not to cut Harrell and instead put him on injured reserve. He might not play at all this season, but let's hope he can go in 2010.

George Wilson (Paducah Tilghman) is again on the Bills roster. He should see a good deal of playing time on special teams as well as at safety this year. Buffalo traded safety Ko Simpson to Detroit, so Wilson is now one of just five safeties on the roster.

Another former Tilghman standout, Hunter Cantwell, did not earn an active roster spot but the undrafted free agent impressed the Panthers enough to earn a spot on their practice squad. He was actually offered a spot on the Patriots practice squad as well, but opted to stay with Carolina. Cantwell looks to have a bright NFL future.

And SEMO's Edgar Jones should see a good deal of playing time this year in Baltimore. Jones is one of just three tight ends on the Ravens roster.

On to college football...

It was good to see the local schools all put up impressive showings in their opening week games.

Murray State looked good (especially in the second half) in dismantling Kentucky Wesleyan 66-10. Marcus Harris looks to be a big-time weapon on offense and special teams. The Racers will get a serious test Saturday when they travel to NC State.

UT Martin rolled over Iowa Wesleyan 56-0. Pre-season OVC Offensive Player of the Year Cade Thompson got off to a slow start but managed to finish with a solid opening game. Miguel Barnes was also solid running the ball, going for over 100 yards and three touchdowns. The Skyhawks will get a much stiffer test at Missouri State Saturday. A win could go a long way in helping their playoff chances this season.

SEMO put up 72 points in a 72-3 demolition of Quincy. It will get much tougher for the Redhawks Saturday at Cincinnati.

SIU is the only local team to lose this weekend. The Salukis fell just short of an upset losing at Marshall 31-28. Marshall isn't a powerhouse FBS school, but if SIU can play toe-to-toe with the Herd, they should stack up just fine with teams on their own level. This should be a special year in Carbondale.

On the regional level, the Lane Kiffin era debuted with a big win over WKU 63-7. I think the Vols will be competitive this year and will most likely return to a bowl game. They won't challenge for a SEC title, but I don't think it will be too long before Kiffin has them to that level. They looked pretty good on Saturday. We'll see how good they are next weekend when UCLA rolls into town.

Kentucky looked impressive in their 42-0 win over Miami-Ohio. Hard to believe it was the 'Cats first shutout since 1996. Randall Cobb should be a lot of fun to watch this year no matter where they line him up.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend came from Illinois. Wow! What a letdown in their big rivalry game with Mizzou. Either Illinois is just not good or Mizzou is a lot better than I gave them credit for. The Gabbert kid at quarterback looked very sharp while Juice looked anything but. The Illini could struggle this year if they don't get this thing turned around....and quick.

I'll say it now. I'll be surprised if Steve Kragthorpe is still the head coach at Louisville next season. They looked very shaky in their opener with lowly Indiana State (losers of 28 in-a-row.) This was a game the UofL should have won 70-0...not 30-10. It could be another very long season in Louisville.

Ok....on to Gridiron Glory

We are technically three weeks into the high school football season. Here are some observations I've made in the early going of 2009.

Mayfield is FOR REAL!
The Cards look like the Big Red Machine we're used to seeing out of Mayfield. This is a team that will very much challenge for a state title. I'm really excited about that October 24th match-up at Crittenden County that will decide the district title (and could be the game of the year in west Kentucky.) Luke Guhy, Xavier Shelton and Tyrese Murrell make up the best three-headed monster in the area on offense and on defense freshman Jonathan Jackson has been a tackling machine. Scary to think he has three more years left. He will be a star.

Murray has a great shot to go 10-0
There I said it. And I believe it. They are a 2A school with two 300+ pound tackles and about a half-dozen talented running backs and two very talented quarterbacks. That's a lot! Not to mention a suffocating defense that has allowed just 12 points in their first three games. They probably won't be tested until two of the final three weeks of the season when they play Caldwell County (which should decide the district title) and the season finale with Crittenden County.

Is Lone Oak for real?
We seem to ask this question every year. I know they are good and we will find out just how good this Friday when they face #2 Lexington Catholic, the same school that beat them handily in the state title game two years ago. I love the fact the Flash tried to beef up their schedule this year with Marshall, Graves, Lex Cath, Green County, etc. It's just a shame that Marshall is having a very down season and we're not completely sure just how good Graves really is. Either way, the Flash are playing a much better schedule and I commend them for that. It should have them much better prepared for the playoffs than in years past. Friday is very intriguing with Lex Cath coming to the Graveyard.

Will the real Calloway County please stand up?
I'm not sure what to make of the Lakers. I saw them get pasted by Murray a couple weeks ago and they struggled in a loss at Caldwell in their opener. I know neither of those games were with all-world running back Tyrell Willis. There's no question Willis makes them a better team. But the Lakers cannot rely 100% on Willis to save them. They're going to need some other players to help carry the load. We'll see how the Lakers continue to gel now that Willis is back.

In Illinois...
I'm very surprised at what Harrisburg did to DuQuoin on Friday night winning 41-12. Harrisburg was a team that barely missed the playoffs last year, but this year they look like a team that can do some damage in the postseason. The went to The Pit at Mt. Carmel opening night and nearly won where very few teams ever win. Their game with 2-0 Marion this week should be very entertaining.

Anna-Jonesboro appears to be on a collision course with another 9-0 season.

I'm stunned Carterville lost to Sesser on opening night. The Lions have owned the Black Diamond for a long time and now, in their final year in the BDC, it looks like they'll have to fight for control of it. A nice 35-0 bounceback win over Carmi-White last Friday is a good sign.

Herrin is off to a surprising 0-2 start. We'll see if the Tigers can rebound to earn another playoff berth.

Carbondale is 2-0. I'm intrigued by the Terriers. They've always had athletes, but it looks like Dan Koester has molded them into a football team. They should be fun to watch as the year goes on.

And congrats to Vienna for winning their first varsity in 78 years a couple weeks ago. I don't care what the Eagles do the rest of the year, 2009 is already a huge success for Mike Rude and his kids. Way to go!

In Tennessee...
Union City appears to be one of the best, not just in the west, but maybe the entire state. The Golden Tornadoes lost Mr. Football candidate Colton Speed at quarterback, but return a lot of firepower. They're ranked #2 and look like they could make a deep run in the state playoffs.

I promise to keep the blogs coming and at a much more consistent basis.

And as always, I encourage you to share you thoughts with me...good or bad.

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