NAIA Ramblings of Jason Dannelly from 9/1/2006: Rivals, Upsets and Losses

I will say I was disappointed in the way two teams performed last night. I expected more of a fight from Webber and NWOSU. Both of their opponents were rated in D2Football.com’s Top 25 and I expected the games to be a little closer. I not sure if it is my blind love for NAIA schools, but I thought these games would great games with the NAIA team having a shot at a “W” in the fourth. Both games couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Josh Vice (Dac Columnist) and I talked last night during the games. He was much like I as the opening night for his conference ended in severe disappointment with the DAC teams being outscored 111-13.

Tonight’s schedule for NAIA games doesn’t get much better as Azusa Pacific plays at San Diego. The Torenos used to be one of those IAA teams that APU could go in and get a win over year after year. Not so true now as they Torenos are beating up on a lot of the IAA non-scholarship teams across the country.

This Week in the NAIA
But let’s move toward the positive now as the first full Saturday of college football is here. The game I am looking forward to the most is probably in Spearfish, SD as Carroll College takes on Black Hills State. This is the year everyone in the NAIA has been talking about, the year “without Emmert”.
All reports out of Helena are very positive about junior quarterback John Barnett. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s a vet on this team. That’s one thing people forget about Mike Van Diest coached teams. A backup QB does not ride the pine with a clipboard in hand; they find ways to get them in the game as running backs, wide receivers, personal protectors, or whatever. Now when Barnett steps in, it’ll be like he’s done it all before.  At least at other positions.

I am anxious to see how the Yellow Jackets come out this season because the last couple years they have been a bit of an enigma. Take last year for example: loss to Dickey by 14 early before beating them by 17 later in the season only to lose to Jamestown by 17 two weeks later. They are a tough bunch to figure out. However a strong performance or win could propel them to heights which this program has never seen.

On the Road Again
I’ll be heading to Chicago for Saint Xavier and Lambuth. Of course my flight gets in at 8AM so I’ll have all day to enjoy some real Chicago style pizza. The game should be just as enjoyable as SXU and Lambuth is a nice match up of teams from two very good conferences. The best thing about it is the fact it will be the first and possibly only night game to be played at SXU. The athletic department is trucking in portable lights for this game as they unveil their new look stadium with a completely renovated surface.

SXU will break in new QB while Lambuth will be without their first stringer due to a one game suspension. Needless to say the upper hand should go to SXU but never count out a Vic Wallace team especially with Kevin Haynes back as a running back. Haynes had a very severe injury last season to his ankle/foot and missed the entire season making it a tough go for the Eagles in ‘05.

How ‘bout someone other than a rival
I cannot believe the number of rivalries that are on schedule to start the ‘06 season. Benedictine and Baker, Mid America Nazarene and William Jewell, Union KY and U-Cumberlands, Eastern Oregon and Southern Oregon, Taylor and Anderson, St. Ambrose and Loras, plus Howard Payne plays at Southern Nazarene. Now HPU and SNU is not a true rivalry in the sense that most schools recognize them but former co-workers Mike Cochran and Mike Redwine will lock up after coaching together for years at MidAmerica Nazarene.

These games are the toughest to gauge all season because they are season openers and they are rivalries. So any and all research can be thrown out the window. SAU and Loras are huge rivals despite taking over twenty years off from playing one another. EOU and SOU have new coaches and new systems in place for their season openers while MNU’s Jed Stugart will coach his first game as a head coach against the veteran Fran Schwenk.

I wish I could make it to all of them, but unfortunately I cannot. Hopefully by Wednesday I can be breaking down film on all of them.

What to watch for
The biggest thing to watch for this week will be the upsets. Right now we all think we know who the good teams are, but we will have no idea who is actually good until the end of the month.
Also keep any eye out for one of those “bad” teams to have a good season.  It happens about every year.  Someone goes from 0-10 or 2-8 to 5-5 or 7-3.  They might not be winning the conference but they are accomplishing something their programs and schools have really missed:  Winnings.

 

Sit back, relax and enjoy some college football!

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