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Wisconsin Sport and Culture

Packers vs Vikings Preview

I have a real problem with all of the people selling their Packers tickets for Sunday’s game.  I didn’t even think about it for a second.  Why wouldn’t you want to be at Lambeau Sunday?  Even without the return of Brett Favre, this is a huge game in the NFC North.  I don’t care if you need the money for your booze habit, you go.  Need the money for health care?  Rub some dirt on it..and go to the game.  It’s going to be a classic.  The Packers don’t introduce anyone on the visiting team anymore, so Favre’s name will never be announced.  If he was, I would boo.  He’s on the Vikings.  I hate the Vikings. 

favrewranglerjeans

Good thing those commercials are 2-hand touch

Before we get to the keys to the game, how about the two attempted tackles by Favre last week after his fumble and pick in Pittsburgh.  A complete embarrassment to anyone who has ever played the game.  Wrangler should pull their endorsement deal with Favre, because chicks don’t wear Wranglers.  No one should ever rip on a kicker or punter ever again before mentioning Brett Favre. 

One more rant…the offensive playcalling for the Vikings is going to come back to haunt them.  There must be some deal in place with Favre and Childress.  Every time the Vikings are inside the 5, they throw the ball.  Unreal.  You have the best back in the game, and all they can think of is padding the old man’s stats.  Keep it up Chilly.

If you are thinking part two will be anything like part one, think again.  Also think about this if you’re a Vikings fan.  In the first game, your QB played out of his mind, your defense had 8 sacks, forced 2 turnovers, Green Bay had 7 penalties, and you won by 7.  That’s it.  Seven.  For all of the hype with Minnesota’s defense, it is the Packers defense that is currently 3rd in the NFL.  Don’t talk about Detroit and Cleveland.  The Vikings have already played both of them as well.  Be prepared for a defensive clinic…by the Packers.

Jim Biever/Packers.com

Lambeau Leap for Woodson?

Keys to the game

1) Packers defensive domination continues.  What a difference three weeks makes.  Capers has the D running on all cylinders.  I would take the Packers D-Line over the Vikings.  We have one of the top set of LB’s in the league and I’m predicting 2 sacks from our defensive backs.  The Packers defense will also be doing a Lambeau Leap.

2) Control Adrian Peterson without being conservative.  Let the aggressive scheme contain Peterson.  Granted, they did a hell of a job on AP the first time, but they sat back to cover the gaps, letting Favre have all the time in the world when they did throw the ball.

Jim Biever/Packers.com

More of the same in November for Rodgers

3) Rodgers stays hot.  Hey, he was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the month.  Enough said.

4) Control 1st down.  Five of the eight sacks in the first game were on 1st down.  Either by running the ball or utilizing the short passing game, the Packers need to pick up 4-7 yards on 1st down.  Amazingly, Green Bay was 7-13 on 3rd down the first time, but you can’t let Jared Allen pin his ears back on 3rd and long.    

5) The energy in Lambeau will be too much for the Vikings to overcome.  For those who believe in karma, this isn’t karma.  Favre having to come to Lambeau for the NFC Championship game in -15 degree weather is karma.  Would you sell those tickets too?

Prediction- Green Bay 27, Minnesota 13

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October 30, 2009 Posted by | Packers | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Packers-Browns Postgame

Trainwreck

Was Derek Anderson driving this train?

In my preview last week, I wrote that the Browns’ offense sucked.  I’d like to publically apologize to all things that suck, because the Browns’ offense is way past sucking.  They are a complete train wreck.  We need to invent a new word to describe the Browns’ offense.  On a related note, what did Brady Quinn do to Eric Mangini?  It must have been something perverse to not even get a chance over the last few weeks, but this isn’t a Browns’ blog, so let’s get on to the Packers.

Jim Biever/Packers.com

Packers fans have been waiting for this!

1) The Ahman Green signing has already paid dividends.   Ryan Grant looked like a different back Sunday.  Granted, it was against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, but he was explosive and running downhill.  Nothing like a little competition to get someone going.  The real test will be Sunday, but 41 team carries for 202 yards is a great boost!

rodgers2

155.4 rating and 23 yards on the ground

2) 155.4- Aaron Rodgers’ QB rating on Sunday.  It was perfect in the first half.  It doesn’t matter who it’s against.  Yikes!  Another great sign is 8 targets for Greg Jennings.  He still hasn’t had a break-out game, but I think he’s getting closer.  Thankfully, Jermichael Finley only has a knee sprain.

3) 36.4- Derek Anderson’s QB rating.  Don’t forget this guy has went to a Pro Bowl.  The defense continues to get the big turnover and in successive weeks, has turned away teams inside the 10.  This may not seem like a big deal, but it builds confidence for moments when we will need a red zone stop to win a game.

4) Two teams the Packers should have blown out.  Two blowouts.  Outscored Detroit and Cleveland 57-3.  Outgained the two 895-388.  Do it again Sunday!

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Packers | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pale Ale Review

Little goes better with food or conversation than a Pale Ale.  ROTQ takes a look today at their favorites.

For the purpose of this post we will NOT draw distinctions between the various types of Pale Ales which include Amber Ale an India Pale Ale’s as they are both made with ale malt and have that lovely hoppy, fragant feel.

10.  US Pale Ale: Middleton, Wisconsin-Capital Brewing Company.  Like many of these beers, this ale uses dry hopping as a brewing technique.  This technique of not pre-cooking the hops adds a wonderful hoppiness to the product.  Capital Brewery claims that they are America’s #1 rated brewery…not sure that I would agree but the US Pale Ale is a wonderful aromatic beer that pairs really well with red meat.  I find it interesting that Capital Brewery doesn’t give this ale’s International Bitterness Unit scores–the true measure of an ale.  I’d imagine it is somewhere in the upper 30’s.

Brewed in the Madison area, this Pale Ale is a classic deep colored ale that is best drank on tap at State Street Brats after a Badger win.

Brewed in the Madison area, this Pale Ale is a classic deep colored ale that is best drank on tap at State Street Brats after a Badger win.

9.  Tyraenna Brewery: Lake Mills, Wisconsin.  Bitter Women IPA.  Registering a staggering 68 on the International Bittering Units scale this is the #2 ranked beer in that category.   The thing that sticks out about this ale is the deep color and hoppy aroma.  It is too bitter for the weak hearted, I have found that it pairs very nicely with hotter chicken wings.  If you don’t like hot chicken wings, this clearly isn’t for you.

This hoppy masterpiece is not for wimps.

This hoppy masterpiece is not for wimps.

8.  Wild Ride: Sand Creek Brewery Black River Falls, Wisconsin.  In this case, I have always doubted this beers 60 IBU scale.  I have done tastings where this beer has left me floored by its hoppiness brilliance.  Beautiful color and aroma, the finish is better than the start.

7.  Fat Tire Amber Ale: Fort Collins Colorado.  I first had this ale in 2006 in Sacramento.  I was immediately impressed, great color, beautiful aroma, very hoppy.  This is a great ale to gift to someone who may not know beer, has enough chops to satisfy eficianados and the layperson alike.  I have found this to be a very smooth entrant into this list.

Beginning its life as a homebrew for an aspiring engineer, this Amber Ale is our highest ranking Amber.  A wonderful beer that is sure to please even the picky and ignorant.

Beginning its life as a homebrew for an aspiring engineer, this Amber Ale is our highest ranking Amber. A wonderful beer that is sure to please even the picky and ignorant.

6.  New Glarus IPA: the smoothest, least bitter IPA you can find.  Maybe the most aromatic beer on this list.  Pairs beautifully with all food.  A very impressive product from this upstart brewery.  Local distributors have told me that its scarcity comes from its overwhelming popularity.

Hearty Hop lives up to its name, coming it at an impressive #6 on our poll.

Hearty Hop lives up to its name, coming it at an impressive #6 on our poll.

5.   Great Lakes Brewing Co. Burning River Pale Ale.  This is easily the most celebrated entrant on our list.  Probably would be higher if it wasn’t so hard to find.  Check out these credentials…From the official site:

  • Gold Medal, 2008 World Beer Championships
  • Gold Medal, 2007 World Beer Championships
  • Gold Medal, 2006 World Beer Championships
  • Gold Medal, 2005 World Beer Championships
  • Yeah it’s that good…
Best credentials in America.

Best credentials in America.

4.  Sierra Nevada Torpedo: the deepest color, highest AC%, highest IBU.  Took the industry by storm when it emerged in the early part of 09.  In talking to their brewmaster/owner–he believes this beauty will be the flagship of America’s 6th largest brewery in time.  Beautiful with steak.

So bitter it will leave you speechless.

So bitter it will leave you speechless.

3.  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: the standard bearer.  The first that was widely produced.  The smoothest, most popular, and reasonable in cost.  IBU 0f 37 is very reasonable.

2.  Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: biased?  Yes.  But to be fair, this brewery specializes in this and has pioneered the product.  In a visit to their brewery you can see why.  They grow their own hops, use mountain water, and have pioneered the cascade/dry hopping procedures.  This beautiful ale is one of the highlights of winter…it is the highlight from a beer perspective.  The only problem is that it is a limited product and goes really fast.  Bitter, aromatic, and bold.  Also has the best label on our list.

The worlds premier IPA, a great christmas gift.

The worlds premier IPA, a great Christmas gift. I want a car that color.

1.  Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale: Four in a row?!?  Yeah, well…I tend to stick with the best.  The top ale on our list is a premier seasonal that went so fast it was difficult to secure even 6.  This 46 IBU item is the best combination of hoppiness, smoothness, aroma, and despite its seasonal status can be shared at a Christmas party or a mid summer barbecue.  It goes with all food and is invincible to criticism.  If I could take one 6 pack to a desert island…this is it.

Dude, make some more next year.

Dude, make some more next year.

I first had this in California and tasted it after a long day at Yosemite.  You can imagine what that was like.  America’s most beautiful site with this?  Unfair…yeah, sorry.  I was told by their staff on a visit to Chico that it would be unavailable to us East of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  I guess they listened to my suggestion–expect to see it in greater quanity next year.  Imagine having this on tap with an angus tenderloin from hop fed cattle.  I don’t have to…if the taste is a picture–here it is.

Amongst the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Amongst the Sierra Nevada Mountains

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Wisconsin Beer | , | 1 Comment

Packers @ Browns Preview

Watch the Browns at your own risk!!

Watch the Browns at your own risk!!

In my bye week thoughts, I mentioned the Packers will be 4-2 going into their game against the Vikings.  I personally see no way this doesn’t happen.  Not only are the Cleveland Browns still playing like an expansion team, they had over 15 players held out of practice this week with flu-like symptoms.  On a related note, 83% of Browns fans have been out of work with flu-like symptoms.  They all become nauseous on Sunday afternoons.  Watching the Browns play is now considered hazardous to your health.  The CDC is investigating.

Lynn Dickey or Matt Flynn?

Lynn Dickey or Matt Flynn?

The Packers’ locker room is starting to look like a wing of the Packers Hall of Fame.  Mark Tauscher is back, Ahman Green is back.  Word is Lynn Dickey and Frank Winters were in for workouts this week.  Also word in that the government inspected the players’ entrance at Lambeau to make sure it had wheelchair access.   Just shows how little is out there on the free agent wire.

 

Keys to the Game:

1) Use the short passing game to open up the deep passing game.  It looks like the Packers are not going to force the issue in terms of running the football.  That’s fine.  In fact, there was an article this week by Pete Dougherty in the Green Bay Press-Gazette that covers this topic.  A six-yard quick out is better then our yards per carry rushing the ball.

Cribbs is option #1...and 2, and 3

Cribbs is option #1...and 2, and 3

2)  Contain Josh Cribbs.  With the exit of Braylon Edwards, he is Cleveland’s ONLY playmaker.  He already has two returns for touchdowns, which in fact, is 33% of the Browns’ scores.  They will also look to get him touches in the offense.

3) Another shutout for the defense.  Let’s be honest.  The Browns suck.  They are 30th in scoring, 31st in total yards, and 31st in passing yards.  They couldn’t score with a fistful of pardons in a female prison.  The Packers D doubled their sack total last week and could double it again this week.

4) Play a cleaner game.  They won’t have to be perfect Sunday, but the mental and repeated physical mistakes need to end.  McCarthy pulled Brandon Jackson after he fumbled in the 2nd half last week; he needs to do the same with everyone else.  How cool would it be to see an offensive lineman get pulled in the middle of a drive.  That’s making a statement!

Prediction- Green Bay 27, Cleveland 0

October 23, 2009 Posted by | Packers | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ahman Green back in Green Bay?

Anything left in the tank, Ahman?

Anything left in the tank, Ahman?

I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.  Most people with minimal intelligence would be able to figure out why these two are available.  Surprised Dorsey Levens didn’t get a call.  JS-Online story below.

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/64863942.html

October 20, 2009 Posted by | General | 1 Comment

UW-Iowa…random thoughts.

Here are some things you may have thought about or noticed from Saturday’s game:

  • On Scott Tolzein: “I take it all on myself,” Tolzien said. “Protection was good. Just bonehead decisions.”  Here is a quandary.  We’ve all been fascinated by this story–cool kid (check out story about his relationship with an Appleton Youth in the JSOnline).  However, he beat out Curt Phillips who is obviously more gifted physically because of his cerebral decision making.  Count me as one person amongst many who now believe that Phillips should be given a chance to start.  Ala Bollinger relieving Scott Kavanagh in 2001 against Michigan.  It is time.

    Like Curt Phillips, Brooks Bollinger was known primarily as a running QB early in his career.

    Like Curt Phillips, Brooks Bollinger was known primarily as a running QB early in his career.

  • On Bret Bielema: the decision to assert Phillips in the midst of momentum–boneheaded.  His assertion that it was planned?  Great call.  So if you are planning not to meet a beautiful women and lo and behold the opportunity presents itself…do you turn your back on said women because it wasn’t part of the plan?  No.
  • On Bielema: he has now been running UW’s special teams for about a year.  His performance in that regard has been putrid.  UW’s kick return unit is the worst specialist unit in the conference.  Their motto?  “Thank god for our kick coverage unit”.  Not sure if you noticed how many core players are on that kick coverage unit…try O’Brien Schofield, Chris Borland, Chris Maragos, Jay Valai, and Antonio Fenelus.  This isn’t a unit consisting of reserves, these are defensive regulars, and the result: hideous.  Considering his poor run as a recruiter, I am of the opinion that after 2009 it is time to move on.  I also had a dream that Alvarez pulled the plug and stepped in…that was a good dream.

 

Bret Bielema's latest special teams initiative.

Bret Bielema's latest special teams initiative.

  • On Schofield: wow.  That’s about all I can say.  I forgot about Tom Burke in praising him the other day.  Next time I’m in Poplar, I’ll drop in to apologize for that omission.  Schofield is putting himself in position to play on Sundays.
  • On Chris Borland and assignments: Borland is in, doing what he does…which is make plays.  He is removed in favor of the more assignment sure Blake Sorenson–next play Sorenson vacates his gap Adam Robinson scores the key touchdown.  Sometimes you ignore your instincts and follow realism.  The kid just makes plays, case closed.  It may not make any sense to see him doing it given his height and age, but he does…so go with it.  He may have to kick, as we’ve read he was quite the jack of all trades.  Since Phillip Welch’s struggles, he may have to give it a go.
Given Phillip Welch's recent struggle Bret Bielema may end up doing some of the teams shorter field goals.  Given his special teams prowess...what might we expect?

Given Phillip Welch's recent struggle Bret Bielema may end up doing some of the teams shorter field goals. Given his special teams prowess...what might we expect?

  • On UW receivers: time to look at frosh Kraig Appleton.  Maurice Moore proved that he can do a great David Gilreath impression–be a non factor and drop passes.  Let’s go with the young kid see what he can do.  Big, fast, and highly touted…better than small, slow, and drops.
  • John Clay: was he walking to holes in the second half?
  • Antonio Feneuls: the ball is that oblong shaped object with the half stripes on it…look for it.
  • My thoughts on Kirk Ferentz and Norm Parker…right on.
  • Remember UW football when they would pound you physically with Wisconsin kids in the trenches, beat you with superb special teams, and refuse to yield defensively?  Now our special teams are the worst in the conference, they affect the outcome adversely each week, and we can’t get off the field on third downs.  Pretty easy to see why we fail in games against superior opposition.
  • On Wisconsin.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Badgers | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Badgers practice, first shot 41 minutes in

In honor of the 1941 Badger National Champions, Bo Ryan announced that he was turning to them for inspiration.  He was not going to allow a shot for the first 41 minutes of his practice today.  The team passed and closed out per this report on UWBadgers.com.

Bo Ryan inspired by the 1941 NCAA tournament victory, turned back the clock at today's practice.  Here's footage from the workout.

Bo Ryan inspired by the 1941 NCAA tournament championship, turned back the clock at today's practice. Here's footage from the workout.

Kidding aside, the team looks poised for a strong year.  The team has the veteran leadership, size, experience, and skill to be dangerous in the Big Ten.

“Take care of the ball and it will take care of you”.  Bo Ryan

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Badgers | , | Leave a comment

Blue saga leaves many seeing red

Vander follows in the footsteps of Wes Matthews and becomes the latest Madison Memorial star to head downstate.

Vander follows in the footsteps of Wes Matthews and becomes the latest Madison Memorial star to head downstate.

Vander Blue has committed to play basketball at Marquette.  For many UW enthusiasts, this is similar to Brett Favre playing for the Vikings.  A decision that makes sense but one you still can’t stand.  Blue, initially committed to the Badgers after his sophomore year at Madison Memorial.  A local kid with a great rapport with the UW coaches, his recruitment looked like that of Michael Flowers.  One difference, Vander “Blue” up…sorry, he exploded onto the national scene after a historic state tournament run in which he looked like an NBA talent.  He opened up his recruitment and saw the Madison papers print a vicious review of his academic standing, clearly leaked by the UW staff.  Despite that article it was widely believed that Vander was headed back to Madison, where he and his mother developed a very strong relationship with asst. coach Howard Moore.  Even as he heads to Milwaukee, he still talks about his rapport with the “duck”, but he talks more about his rapport with MU’s head coach–Buzz Williams.  Vander also cited the Big East, style of play,his relationship with Buzz Williams and MU players (Jeronne Maymon) as key reasons for his exodus.

This commitment raises a few key questions about UW’s direction.

  • Blue clearly was wooed over by Marquette…with a budget ranking dead last in the big ten for recruiting, why do the Badgers continuously get out recruited and lose out on players?  They have relaxed in their recruiting and seem to fall back on kids who just want to be here…which can be a good strategy.  But kids who live 1/2 mile from your court and are top 20 talents, need to be there.  This is on Bo Ryan.
  • With Cam Wright committing to Pitt, UW is now short one guard.  After this year they will have some significant guard issues.  They will likely look to go the JUCO route and find a “stop-gap” to balance their classes.
  • UW has not had a “star” in several years, Vander would have been their next “go to” player.
  • The real issue could be with incoming HS Sophomore JP Tokoto.  A player so gifted he is potentially the top player in the country.  He holds offers from Duke and North Carolina, in addition to the regioinal schools you’d expect.  Vander would be forgotten if Tokoto is landed as he is a better talent.  But if he is not, expect the same backlash against UW’s recruiting style.  My bet is that Tokoto who also has a good relationship with UW, will be the subject of UW’s renewed recruiting strategy.  I’d venture a guess that Ryan will now get more involved and that we’ll see a full court focus on JP.  If not, UW’s program is in deep trouble.
  • One side note: reading this article on the first day of UW’s practice, it is clear that not everyone can be Badgers under Bo Ryan.  Not saying that Vander couldn’t, wish like heck he was…but rather he chose to go to a program where the coach “started crying and screaming” when told of his commitment.  Pretty sure Bo Ryan wouldn’t cry and scream.
Buzz yelling, not crying...

Buzz yelling, not crying...

Now to conclude…I’m not one to wish anyone ill will.  I hope Vander finds what he’s looking for.  It is time to move on from this and focus on badger basketball.  I wonder what Vander will think when Marquette polishes off their Big East season in winless fashion–which looks entirely likely.  Remember when Bo won the Big Ten with Charlie Wills and Travon Davis?  What does Buzz Williams do with that team and Bo Ryan with his?  We’ll never know.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Badgers | , | 1 Comment