Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gates Out of Senior Bowl

Edmond Gates will miss the rest of the week of practice and Saturday's Under Armour Senior Bowl game in Mobile, Ala., because of a hamstring injury. He told me Tuesday night how disappointed he was but that he didn't want to aggravate it further. Gates has been invited to participate in the NFL Combine, which is scheduled for Feb. 23-March 1 in Indianapolis.

Edmond Gates: Senior Bowl Update

This week, former ACU All-America wide receiver Edmond Gates becomes just the second Wildcat to participate in the most prestigious of the college football all-star games, the Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

He told me last night that after only one full day, he thinks he's met at least one representative of each NFL team. The South team, for which he will play Saturday, is being coached by the Buffalo Bills staff, led by head coach Chan Gailey. The North team is coached by Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals staff, for whom Edmond's first cousin Bernard Scott has played the last two years.

Edmond said he had a good day of practice Monday and believes his performance in practice was as good, if not better, than any other receivers. He is one of only three Division II players invited to participate. Here's a story from the Senior Bowl website.

(He also said he has already signed a lot of autographs for the thousands of fans who descend upon Mobile each year for this spectacle.)

The game is scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 29, at 3 p.m. NFL Network will televise the game, as well as each team's daily practices.

Too Much to Bear

Shout out to Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning for leading the Chicago Bears to within one game of the Super Bowl. The Bears fell in the NFC Championship, 21-14, to Green Bay.

Knox had 2 catches for 56 yards and what should have been a touchdown. He was ruled out at the 1, even though replays showed he clearly crossed the goal line in bounds. The Bears scored one play later, which was all Knox cared about as an ultimate team player. (ACU fans, namely me, didn't take it so well.)

Knox also got clobbered by a defensive back on Sam Shields' game-ending interception inside the Packers' 15 with under a minute to play.

Manning had 6 tackles, 5 of them solo and 1 for a loss as the Bears' defense stiffened in the second half and gave the team a chance to win with third string quarterback Caleb Hanie.

Knox's second NFL season saw him become a starting wide receiver and finish 5th in the NFL in yards per catch at 18.8. Knox led the Bears with 960 receiving yards (21st in the NFL). He was tied for the team lead with 51 receptions and 5 touchdowns caught and also averaged 22.8 yards on the 8 kicks he returned.

These next few months will be interesting for Manning, who becomes a free agent in the midst of unrest between NFL players and owners. In his fifth season in the league, Manning finished as the Bears' fourth leading tackler with 72 and had an interception. He also led the team with 33 kickoff returns, the longest of which was 62 yards, for a 24.7 yard average per return (14th in the NFL). Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Come Back to Texas

Jerry was still smiling when a group of us from ACU, including President Schubert (far right), attended the Bears-Cowboys game at his place on Sept. 19. We were there to see former ACU stars Danieal Manning and Johnny Knox.

At the time, the Cowboys owner - and a lot of NFL prognosticators - thought hosting the Super Bowl Feb. 6 meant he'd have at least one extra home game this season. Instead, his team finished under both the .500 mark and a new head coach while the other guys are now a game away from a return date to Jerry World.

Chicago hosts its NFC North arch rival Green Bay this weekend at Soldier Field. A Bears victory would send Manning to his second Super Bowl in his first five years in the NFL and Knox to his first in this just his second season in the league.

In Sunday's 35-24 divisional playoff victory over Seattle, Knox had four catches (two for first downs) for 48 yards and, even more important, recovered two on-side kick attempts in the 4th quarter to preserve Chicago's win. Manning had two tackles, one of which - punishing but perfectly clean - sent Seahawks' tight end John Carlson to the hospital with a concussion, plus an 18-yard kickoff return.

There have been two previous Super Bowls played in Texas, VIII and XXXVIII, both of which were in Houston. If the Bears beat the Packers, the road to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington will have started on Interstate XLV for the pair of former Wildcats. Manning is from Corsicana and Knox is from Houston.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Basketball Ready for Conference Play

With the start of Lone Star Conference Division play less than a week away the ACU men’s and women’s hoops squads look to answer a lot of questions. The men enter the final week of crossover play winners of their last three and five of their last six, while the women have rebounded from a slow start to post three wins in their last five.

For the men who are 7-3 on the season enters the grueling portion of their schedule which happens to start LSC South Division play. The LSC South has two teams ranked in the top 25 while another two are receiving votes.

Incarnate Word is undefeated at 11-0 and No. 9 while Midwestern State is No. 21 and has won 11 after a season opening loss to Fort Hays State. West Texas A&M and Tarleton State are both receiving votes after falling out of the top 25 while each team ranks near the top in the nation in several team categories.

For the women the top two spots in the South Division look secure with Tarleton State and three-time defending champ West Texas A&M holding strong. The TexAnns are 9-1 and will come to Abilene on Tuesday as they currently riding a five game win streak. The Lady Buffs have put together one of the toughest schedules in the country dropping their last three games to top 10 teams including a road loss at No. 1 Delta State. ACU will hook up with WT in two weeks in their first matchup of the season in Canyon.

ACU is 3-7 have shown improvement after a 0-5 start to the season. A trio of young exciting players fills the Wildcats lineup which might be foreign to fans who have watched ACU’s low posts dominate the past couple of years. Transfer Kelsey Smith is averaging 13.1 points from her spot on the blocks, but freshman guard Mack Lankford has led the Wildcats in scoring with 17.8 points per game. Lankford has turned into an exciting player to watch and has scored 20 plus points in her last three games including a team high 35 in an overtime loss to Southeastern Oklahoma the Wildcats’ last time out.

The Wildcats return to the hardwood at Moody Coliseum Tuesday, Jan. 11, when they host Tarleton State in a men’s and women’s doubleheader starting at 5:30 p.m.