Destiny vs Dynasty. The establishment comes face-to-face with the upstarts. The Sith battling the Jedi rebel coalition. The clocks tick towards Super Bowl LIII, with one team fulfilling their preseason goal of winning the Lombardi Trophy tonight. On one side of the field, you have the New England Patriots, making their seventh Super Bowl appearance in the last 14 years. It will be 17 years to the day that a young QB named Tom Brady snatched the reigns from QB Drew Bledsoe to lead the Pats to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win. That Super Bowl XXXVI victory came at the expense of the then-St. Louis Rams, who today now represent the City of Angels.
The headlines entering Super Bowl Sunday have focused on the legacy of Brady & Belichick as they continue to establish themselves among the best all-time at their respective positions. Buzz words such as legacy, dynasty and dominance are all too familiar when describing New England’s success in this today’s football.
On the other side of the ball is the new guard led by fresh-faced coach, Sean McVay. The 33-year-old entered his second year as head coach of the Rams and helped develop one of the more potent offenses in the NFL currently. Formulating a scheme that highlights the strengths of his personnel, McVay has put QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley in positions to thrive on a weekly basis.
Today, the offensive prodigy of McVay will face his stiffest competition against the hooded nemesis known as Darth Belichick. New England has a tendency to negate the impact of the opposition’s best player by bating their competition in a particularly unconventional method in order to win. With that in mind, you wonder who the Pats will decide to take away from the Rams offensive arsenal. Despite 125 rushing yards, 6.5 average yards-per-carry and two touchdowns, Todd Gurley has not made a dramatic impact since the playoffs got underway. However, when combined with CJ Anderson’s 167 rushing yards and two TDs, the Rams’ rushing offense has found its legs in the postseason. Our guess is that New England crowds the line of scrimmage leaving one-on-one matchups for Goff against the Patriots’ secondary.
While those stories are great, we wear our green and orange shades proudly here at State of the U. So it’s time to dive into the ProCane content in tonight’s big game.
New England Patriots LB Ufomba Kamalu
New England Patriots WR Braxton Berrios
New England Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett
Los Angeles Rams CB Sam Shields
New England Patriots DE Trent Harris
With five UM graduates between the two teams, only the University of Georgia has as many player representatives on football’s biggest stage. This means that for the first time since DT Vince Wilfork and the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, an active ProCane will walk away from Atlanta with a championship ring. While there are five players that will play in the game, there’s only two players that will get extensive screen time this evening.
It’s the second consecutive Super Bowl appearance for Phillip Dorsett. The speedster out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has evolved into one of Tom Brady’s most trusted options not named WR Julian Edelman or TE Rob Gronkowski. With five receptions for 70 receiving yards and two touchdowns, Dorsett has surpassed the 50 yards receiving from last year’s postseason run. In his days at The U, Dorsett was better known for beating defenses purely with speed. That still remains true today, the former first-round pick has carved out a neat role for himself in his fourth year in the league.
For Rams’ CB Sam Shields, finding a spot on the NFL roster was no guarantee after he was released from the Green Bay Packers in 2017 because he was suffering from lingering symptoms from four reported concussions during his tenure there. In a Los Angeles Times article, Shields describe his symptoms. “Mentally, at times I wasn’t there,” he said. “I couldn’t do nothing. I’d sit in the dark and go to sleep.” Miraculously, the fog that inhibited Shields dissipated, allowing the cornerback to get back to his daily life and resume working out to return to the field.
After missing the entire 2017 season, the Booker High School graduate is a win away from completing a Disney-esque comeback tale. Although he’s listed as a cornerback, it was Shields’ hands that helped resuscitate the Rams’ offense, with a 12-yard reception from LA P Johnny Hekker to pick up a first down. It’s difficult to rule out any scenario in a contest with the magnitude of the Super Bowl, yet the likelihood that the Sarasota, Florida, native gets significant snaps on defense is low without an injury to LA’s top three cornerbacks.
The Patriots will be celebrating their sixth Super Bowl win if they can steamroll an aggressive Rams’ front. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rams’ DT Aaron Donald has not been stopped all season. Running away from Donald may be the obvious solution for success, but it’ll be a tall task to negate the impact of the best defender in football. Yet on the legs of running backs Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead, the Pats have worn defenses down, surpassing more than 150 rushing yards in each of their wins to get to the big game, so they’re more than up to the task.
This should be an entertaining final NFL game of the season. Only one team can walk out of the Peach State as Super Bowl Champs. Regardless of who wins, you know that you’ll find a ProCane connection to cheer when the confetti rains down after the clock hits zero.
News and Notes
Ed Reed is Golden
The legacy of S Ed Reed stands the test of time. After being named a member of the 2019 class set to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Reed can now add a golden jacket to his wardrobe.
With his induction set to take place on August 3rd, Reed becomes the eighth Miami Hurricane to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I was a 2 star recruit... now HOF. Beyond thankful pic.twitter.com/fOb8MWkuMX— Ed Reed (@TwentyER) February 2, 2019
Another Year in Duval
Jacksonville Jaguars DE Calais Campbell was in good spirits last weekend, taking part in his fourth Pro Bowl appearance. The honor must have left the 2017 All-Pro in a good mood, because Campbell has agreed to take a paycut for the 2019 season. The move will allow the Jaguars to go after some needs in free agency, and guarantees that Campbell returns to Duval County for his 12th professional season.
The positive news continues for Campbell, as he accepted the Bart Starr Award this week in Atlanta, Georgia.
Graham Keeping it Green
The relationship between TE Jimmy Graham and Green Bay Packers got off to a rocky start in 2018. On paper, Graham was supposed to be another weapon in Green Bay’s passing attack. While Graham’s 55 receptions for 636 receiving yards was productive, his two TDs last season left some wondering if his days as premium scoring target are numbered. Apparently the two sides want to give it another go, as Ian Rappport of the NFL Network indicates that the Packers will pick up the $5 million roster bonus due to Graham next month. The 32-year-old TE will count $3.45 million of Green Bay’s salary cap.
Ken Dorsey Returns... to the NFL
The former Canes QB has made a name for himself as a quarterbacks coach among the professional ranks. The 2001 National Champion winning QB was recently hired by Appalachian State head coach Eliah Drinkwitz to be a member of his coaching staff. However, less than two months later Dorsey will return to the NFL as the QB coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Given both Dorsey and Bills’ head coach Sean McDermott’s familiarity during their time with the Carolina Panthers, the hire should mesh well for all parties. Buffalo QB Josh Allen will enter his second-season in the NFL, after passing for 2,074 yards, 10 TDs, 12 INTS and rushing for an astounding 631 yards and eight TDs.
Positive Feedback for Redwine
As Miami’s 2019 NFL Draft Class continue to prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of the month, S Sheldrick Redwine received some positive comments from Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy.
Great having @_23NeverLeft and @AuthenticMade_Q represent @CanesFootball in Mobile last week. Enjoyed meeting your family at the fan event on Friday. Scouts liked seeing you move around a play a bunch of different spots. Your versatility will really help you at the next level. https://t.co/YwMrhlcH4N— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 1, 2019
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!