Keeping (The) Score: Marshall not good for Bears' offense?

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Keeping (The) Score: Marshall not good for Bears' offense?

A lot of Brandon Marshall chat time during the regular Thursday 10 a.m. visit with The McNeil & Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670. And for good reason.
 
Mac and Spiegs shared my sense that Brandon Marshall and even Lovie Smith were talking as much to the team as to the media on Wednesday. Smiths repeated references to the Bears 8-5 record were perhaps reminders less to the assembled media corps than players who may not feel like winners after dropping four of five. Not a bad point for Smith to stress.

MORE: What's the Bears' record? Don't worry, Lovie's got you covered
 
Marshall flung down challenges to the Green Bay Packers defensive backs, which is fine, but also declared that this was the biggest game of his career.

That was refreshing. Not all games are created equal and this one isnt. Props to Marshall for putting his emotions out there, possibly in a way making it OK for other lesser lights to do the same. Emotion spikes on game days are not bad things.

MORE: Marshall on Green Bay -- 'This is personal'
 
The guys referenced our discussion earlier this season about a point Id made as to whether Brandon Marshall catching 100 passes in this offense would be a good thing. Marshall is indeed every inch a 100-catch receiver (101, actually) and it hasnt been a good thing for this offense.
 
The problem obviously isnt what Marshall is doing; its what others are not. And I suggested a possible reason why Marshalls very strengths as a receiver may play to a shortcoming in Jay Cutlers style as a quarterback.
 
Besides the question of whether Cutler has real trust in his receivers, Cutler is a see-it-throw-it quarterback. His default setting is to wait a tick longer for a receiver to come open rather than throw to a spot at a time with the solid trust that a Devin Hester, Earl Bennett or whomever will get there when the ball does.
 
Marshall is so good, however, that Cutler can legitimately think that if he keeps a play alive and waits another tick longer, Marshall will be open. Marshall will be. He works. He works the entire play. Given enough time, against most coverages, he will win.
 
So Cutler waits and sure enough, 15 is open. Or if hes not, all things being equal, even a well-covered Marshall may be a better choice than a slightly open Kellen Davis.

MORE: Marshall ready for second shot at Packers
 
Mac and Spiegs wondered how I was leaning for outcome this weekend. Hard to pick against the Packers. Mac assessed both teams as having a little bit of hanging on at work, given the injuries all around.
 
My take, however, is that whenever you have Aaron Rodgers under center, you are by definition never just hanging on.

Notre Dame adjusts to schedule disruption of Sunday opener

Notre Dame adjusts to schedule disruption of Sunday opener

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It’s been 20 years since Notre Dame last played a non-Saturday regular season game, which was a 14-7 win at Vanderbilt on Thursday, Sept. 5, 1996. A good chunk of Notre Dame’s current roster wasn’t born yet when that game took place. 

So Sunday night’s season opener against Texas presents some logistical challenges for Notre Dame not only for this week, but in having next week’s Nevada preparation shortened by a day. 

Coach Brian Kelly, though, does have some experience opening a season on a day that isn’t the usual Saturday. Kelly’s Cincinnati Bearcats beat Rutgers on Labor Day in 2009, then had to get ready for a game five days later (which fortunately was against FCS side Southest Missouri State, resulting in a 70-3 Cincinnati win). 

Notre Dame gave its players Monday off this week and won’t leave for Austin until late Friday. Saturday will then have the team’s usual Friday activities, with a bonus that players won’t have to get up early to go to class before traveling — they’ll already be there, so they can sleep in and get more rest before playing on Sunday. 

“I like it,” Kelly said. “I think the guys enjoy getting a little extra rest, extra treatments. And so I think it comes at a good time for our team.”

Where the challenge lies is next week, when the team won’t get back to South Bend until the early hours of the morning Monday. Classes are in session at Notre Dame on Labor Day, and then practice, film study, meetings, etc. for Nevada still has to fit in the usual Tuesday-Friday window, though that will probably have to be tweaked a bit. 

“Generally where it affects you more is on that next week is where you really have to be careful,” Kelly said. “Because we'll get back in at 4 a.m. Monday and then we play Nevada that Saturday. So my concern is usually around the flip side of it, because you adjust your schedule a little bit.”

The growing problem with high school football scheduling

The growing problem with high school football scheduling

Last Friday afternoon Joliet Catholic loaded its team and coaches into "yellow rockets" and headed to Franklin, Wis., on Opening Night. Both Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way Central headed to Indiana to play games.

Hinsdale Central hosted American Fork. American Fork, located just south of Salt Lake City, traveled to Hinsdale play the Red Devils.

Play in a conference such as the DuPage Valley, which needs to find non-conference games outside of the first two weeks of the season? Then much like Waubonsie Valley (Week 7 @ Fishers (Hamilton Southeastern), Neuqua Valley (Week 5 at Indianapolis Bishop Chartard) or Naperville Central (Week 6 at national power Lakewood Ohio St. Edward) you too will be on the road out-of-state.

Finding a few non-conference games to play is becoming an adventure.

Scheduling continues to be a growing problem for many IHSA football programs. Between the pressures of getting into the state playoffs along with a conference system that also seems to be imploding by the week state-wide, something needs to get sorted out sooner than later.

How about some possible solutions?

Some have suggested expanding the IHSA state playoff field, thus making the need to schedule "five wins to get in" less of a focus for teams across the state. Yet ask any high school coach and a large majority of them have a real issue with an "everyone-gets-in" system. Letting everyone into the IHSA state football playoffs would ease scheduling but also eliminates what many coaches feel makes the IHSA football playoffs special, which is making a regular season schedule actually count.

Conferences? These days more and more conferences, many of which have decades of history and tradition, are breaking apart. From the North and Western suburbs, which have already seen new realignments to the soon-to-be powder keg located in the South and Southwestern suburbs, expect even more scrambling for teams to find games.

How about letting the IHSA take over scheduling? Again some have suggested that the IHSA handle state-wide scheduling and make football much like other IHSA sports, such as football conferences becoming more like regionals. Yet this plan would eliminate well established conferences such as the Chicago Catholic League and others who would want to maintain its history.

Yet one thing seem to becoming much clearer these days as more and more schools head to all points to play games: something needs to change when it comes to scheduling.

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

The Cubs wrap up their three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from the North Side starts at 7 p.m., and be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (13-7, 3.21 ERA) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02 ERA)

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