Sports Fodder: Raiders are anything but boring | RecordCourier.com

Sports Fodder: Raiders are anything but boring

by Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

What other NFL organization other than the Oakland Raiders would acquire a quarterback in a trade on Tuesday — a quarterback that hasn’t played a game in 10 months, by the way — and have that quarterback start a game five days later? Say what you want about the Raiders. The organization has been a lot of things since winning its last Super Bowl three decades ago. But the one thing they haven’t been is boring. Is it crazy to start Carson Palmer on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs? Of course it is. The guy barely knows the way to the stadium let alone his way through the playbook. But that’s what the Raiders, from all reports, are going to do. Now, to be sure, it doesn’t matter if the Raiders start Palmer or backup Kyle Boller. The Raiders can pull a 63-year-old Jim Plunkett out of the radio booth and still get a win against the Chiefs. But you have to love the Raiders’ moxie, spirit, guts and boldness. Al Davis would be proud.

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Is Colin Kaepernick ever going to get the chance to be the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback? Right now it doesn’t look that way. Alex Smith seems to be leading the 49ers back to the playoffs. Smith is a former No. 1 pick. He’s still young. He’s building a rapport with head coach Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick just might have to bide his time on the 49ers bench and then go elsewhere for a chance to play. But, then again, any week now Smith can remember that he is, well, Alex Smith, and throw three interceptions in the first half and Kaepernick could be on the field. The beauty of the NFL is that things can change quickly. Look at Palmer. One minute he is getting fat on the couch and the next he is starting against the Chiefs.

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Much has been said and written about the Nevada Wolf Pack running back situation. One week the starter is Nick Hale, the next it’s Mike Ball and a couple weeks later it is Stefphon Jefferson. Lampford Mark doesn’t play for a month and then goes out and scores three touchdowns. Kendall Brock appears headed to a red-shirt season and now he’s in the mix as well. Here’s the deal with the Pack backs. It doesn’t matter who runs the ball. The pistol offense is set up to gain massive chunks of yardage on the ground no matter who is running the ball. The pistol, after all, made stars out of B.J. Mitchell, Robert Hubbard. Luke Lippincott and Vai Taua. Backups like Brandon Fragger, Courtney Randall and Mark have even had their moments in the spotlight. There are only four simple requirements for a Pack back in the pistol: Run hard, run to the right gap, don’t drop the ball and never, ever, under any circumstances, tell anyone that you are injured.

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Forget Andrew Luck and all of the money-grabbing schools worrying more about moving to another conference than winning the one they are in right now. The best story in college football is Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. Weeden, a former minor league pitcher in the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals organizations, is a 28-year-old senior and is having a wonderful season. The Cowboys are 6-0 and Weeden has passed for 2,098 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is older than 14 quarterbacks who started on opening day in the NFL this year. His teammates call him Grandpa and he has been compared to Rodney Dangerfield’s Thornton Melon character in the movie Back to School.

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It seems that last year’s 13-1 dream season has done little to change Wolf Pack football fans’ ticket-buying habits. Just 15,369 showed up last Saturday to see the Pack pound New Mexico 49-7. The day 20,000-plus show up on a consistent basis to see the Pack pound the likes of New Mexico, Idaho, New Mexico State, Utah State and Louisiana Tech, is the day the Pack can say they are finally on Boise State’s level.

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Why would Boise State even consider a move to the Big East? The Mountain West Conference — whether the Bowl Championship Series knows it or not — is already a better football conference than the Big East. And it certainly will be better next year once the Wolf Pack, Fresno State and Hawaii become members. The Big East will eventually lose its automatic BCS bid because, well, Big East football is a joke. Boise needs to just relax and stop jumping at every offer — real or imagined — that comes their way.

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This is a pivotal season for the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team. They have no excuses this year not to win 20 games and get back to a postseason tournament of some sort. The Pack has a veteran team, they play a soft schedule and this is David Carter’s third year in charge of the program. Attendance at Lawlor Events Center shrunk to under 5,000 a game last year. Pack fans obviously won’t tolerate a losing team. The time to win is now.