The Way It Is
The Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4) can win their third consecutive game of the season with a victory Sunday over the Buffalo Bills (3-6). The last time the Jaguars won three straight games was at the end of the 2007 season with wins over the Panthers, Steelers and Raiders.
Cornerback Rashean Mathis, with a groin injury, will miss the Bills game. If safety Reggie Nelson is slated to start, expect little erasing.
Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud returns to Jacksonville for the first time since 2007. The 31-year-old is on pace to break his record for total tackles in a season. Stroud currently has 30; his best was 47 in 2003.
Bills interim head coach Perry Fewell, who was the Jaguars’ defensive backs coach from 1998-2002, made his first big decision by giving the starting quarterback nod to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jacksonville is familiar with the Harvard graduate. The 26-year-old Fitzpatrick started for the Cincinnati Bengals in a 21-19 win last year over the Jaguars.
After an impressive win over the New York Jets, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium needs more than 50,000 fans in attendance. The Bills game needs to be the best home showing this season. The season-high for tickets distributed is for the Titans’ game – 49,014.
The Florida International Golden Panthers (FIU) face the undefeated Florida Gators on Saturday at Florida Field. The FIU football team has only 14 out-of-state players on its roster. FIU has only one Jacksonville resident – redshirt sophomore Devon Dickerson. The offensive lineman attended Robert E. Lee High School.
On Wednesday, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was announced as one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best senior quarterback. The other four finalists are Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour, Duke’s Thaddeus Lewis, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson. It’s a toss-up between Tebow and McCoy. They could be vying for the Heisman Trophy by December.
The Florida-Florida State game will be aired on CBS at 3:30 p.m. The November 28th matchup will be Florida’s sixth appearance this year on CBS. I don’t know how much more I can take of the Verne Lundquist-Gary Danielson duo.
After leading Florida State to a 41-28 victory over Wake Forest, redshirt freshman quarterback E.J. Manuel was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Week. In his first career start, Manuel, replacing the injured Christian Ponder, threw for 220 yards and one touchdown.
FSU sophomore running back Jermaine Thomas has been a workhorse the past three weeks. Thomas, who attended First Coast High School, has averaged nearly 24 touches and 151.3 rushing yards in those three games.
With a win Saturday over the Maryland Terrapins, FSU can extend its streak of bowl appearances to 28, which is the best in the nation.
In an interview with USA Today, Ann Bowden, the wife of the legendary FSU head coach, stated, “They’ll have to fire him (Bobby Bowden) for him not to go another year … If they’ve got guts enough to do it, let them do it.” Saturday’s game could be Bobby’s last on the field that bears his name. It feels like this saga will never end.
The Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football 1 begin its inaugural season in April. The Sharks will play home games at the Veterans Memorial Arena. For a nine-game home package, season tickets will range in price from $45 to $675. The Sharks’ colors are black and red.
If the Sharks last more than three seasons – which is how long the Jacksonville Tomcats made it – the Sharks will be termed a success.
Former Jaguar receiver Jimmy Smith pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine on Wednesday. The judge sentenced the Jaguars’ all-time leading receiver to 18 months of probation. During his probation, Smith cannot drive a vehicle and will be subject to drug tests. Best wishes to Jimmy and his family during his recovery.
Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio. Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show.
Richard contributes to Inside the Game with Robin Valetutto every Saturday from 12-2 p.m.
Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.
You can e-mail Richard at Richard.Miller@jaxobserver.com