Jim Sez Sunday NFL Preview and College Independents

THE JIM SEZ NFL PRESEASON WEEKEND UPDATE: SUNDAY'S ACTION PLUS MUCH MORE!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE REPORT - WE TAKE A QUICK-HITTER LOOK AT THE NATION'S INDEPENDENTS

Here's a little memo that goes out to each/every one of the 32 teams in the National Football League: It may be the "preseason" but you can still get a quarterback hurt out there ... just ask the Washington Redskins who watched QB Robert Griffin III get sacked three times and suffer a concussion in Thursday's 21-17 win/cover against the 3-point underdog Detroit Lions.

Folks, this ain't touch football being played out there and there are plenty of squads with leaky offensive lines that are putting their respective quarterbacks in harm's way this summertime - in yesterday's Jim Sez column we reminded you that New England backup and potential Week 1 starter Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked seven times in the Patriots' preseason-opening 22-11 loss to Green Bay.

And in just a week's plus time of these exhibition games we've witnessed more than a few quarterbacks forced to run for their lives - we know NFL head coaches and their staffs want to digest as much as possible when it comes to their offensive units in these preseason tilts but you just might see some teams pull their starters and/or key backups prematurely so as to avoid the summertime injury bug.

Yup, we're keeping that very much in mind while studying/handicapping the remainder of this NFL Preseason Week 2 card!

The 2015 NFL Preseason rock-n-rolls on with more Week 2 action continuing with Eight (8) games Saturday and another Three (3) more games on Sunday with St. Louis at Tennessee aired on Fox (8 p.m. ET) and then it all wraps up for the week on Monday Night as the Cincinnati Bengals are at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.

Note that the College Football campaign swings into high gear on Thursday, September 3rd with 41 games in all scheduled for that entire Labor Day weekend (that's Thursday-thru-Monday with games each day) and it all begins with South Carolina versus North Carolina (from Charlotte) on ESPN at 6 p.m. ET on Sept. 3 plus the weekend card is really terrific with such marquee matchups as Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (from Houston), Texas at Notre Dame and Wisconsin vs. Alabama (from Arlington).

You definitely want to be in the winner's circle for all the big opening-week College Football tilts and again remember there's action for five days in a row beginning Sept. 3rd and taking you right through that Labor Day evening bash between defending national champion Ohio State at Virginia Tech.

Hey, take note that Jim Hurley -- America's #1 Handicapper -- continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do for all the Football/Baseball winners is either sign up today for the discount full-season package or else check in right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners and get all the Football & Baseball winners ... can't beat that, right?

The NFL Preseason, the start of the College Football campaign and then exciting Baseball action too - it's always a major money-making time of the year for the Jim Hurley Network so why not get in on all the fun-and-profits right now!

Now, here's what is on Sunday's NFL Preseason Week 2 menu ...

GREEN BAY (1-0) at PITTSBURGH (0-2) - 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Don't let anyone fool you - NFL teams detest the thought of going winless throughout the preseason and that's especially the case when there's the chance they could go 0-5 SU (straight-up).
So, welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers who've already fallen to Minnesota and Jacksonville this summer - no, Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin is not quaking in his boots just yet but did he really expect any other results while playing QB Landry Jones (46 passing attempts in last Friday's 23-21 loss at 1.5-point underdog Jacksonville) for such extensive minutes in both games? Expect QB Ben Roethlisberger to get in more than merely a single series here after he delivered a 44-yard scoring strike last weekend. You might want to watch for Roethlisberger trying to get his team's younger receivers involved here as note rookie WR Sammie Coates was targeted 11 times a week ago.

On the flip side, the Packers - like all NFL teams - just want to escape major injuries here but note Green Bay will be without starting LT David Bakhtiari (knee) who did play in all 33 snaps the Green Bay first-team offense participated in last week in Foxboro. So, here's a case where utility lineman Don Barclay will get Bakhtiari's playing time - and maybe that means fewer snaps for QB Aaron Rodgers?

DALLAS (0-1) at SAN FRANCISCO (0-1) - 8 p.m. ET
Maybe no unit needs an NFL Preseason more than this San Francisco 49ers defense - what with retirements, suspensions and the rest this Niners' stop unit has a distinctly different look these days but had to love that goal-line stand at Houston last week when nobody gave an inch on eight consecutive Texans' plays from scrimmage. Keep an eye here on first-round draftee DE Arik Armstead (Oregon) - a 6-foot-7, 295-pound specimen who suddenly became so much more important in the scheme of things this year once bad boy Aldon Smith was cut.

Meanwhile, the talk in Dallas camp remains all about the #1 running back job - the insiders tell us here at the Jim Hurley Network that the Cowboys really want jitterbug back Joseph Randle to win the job outright -- but right now he's got injury woes with an oblique strain suffered last week got worse in Thursday's practice. If veteran RB Darren McFadden gets 15-or-so rushes here then he could turn some heads - hey, who wouldn't want to be running behind this star-studded offensive line some 20-to-25 times a games this season?

ST. LOUIS (0-1) at TENNESSEE (0-1) - 8 p.m. ET, Fox
It's national TV action from Music City and so that means everyone gets an up-close-and-personal look at Titans' rookie QB Marcus Mariota who completed 7-of-8 passes for 94 yards in last week's 31-24 loss in Atlanta - but you saw the one interception and the time Mariota looked lost when he was sacked pancake-style and so the learning curve continues here against a Rams team that sports one of the NFL's best defensive lines ... will St. Loo turn up the heat here and put a little scare into Mariota or will it hold back some blitz packages for regular-season play? In any event, odds are Mariota will get more than a quarter's worth of action here.

A quickie note on the visiting Rams: They will continue to sit out first-round draftee RB Todd Gurley (Georgia) to save him following his knee injuries last year and former Titans' head coach Jeff Fisher wants to see his team clean up its act after getting flagged for 10 penalties worth 75 yards in last weekend's 18-3 loss at Oakland.

 

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE

The College Football Season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 3rd and every day between now and then we'll bring you our Conference-by-Conference Previews in quick-hitter form. Today we get you the Independents:

The list of Independent squads in major-college football is dwindling: Navy has joined ranks with the still-fledgling American Athletic Conference and so we're left with Notre Dame, BYU and Army.
No doubt the ND Fighting Irish - 45-20 SU in the Brian Kelly Era - is entering a new era with lefty Malik Zaire fully confident that he can be a star following his showing in last year's Music City win against LSU. Zaire stunned lots of folks by looking so cool/calm in that 31-28 victory while then-starter Everett Golson (now at Florida State) floundered with the turnover bugaboo. In all, Golson committed 14 INTs and lost 8 fumbles a year ago - if Zaire keeps a handle on things than the Irish could be winning a couple of those tough road games at Clemson, at Pittsburgh and at Stanford.

BYU signal-caller Taysom Hill is popping up on some folks' Heisman Trophy lists - sorry, not ours! - but he must prove he can stay healthy after last year suffering a fractured leg and ligament damage some five games into that 8-5 season (the third consecutive 8-5 campaign for the Cougars). Hill is your prototypical dual-threat college quarterback but isn't it time he stayed in the pocket more and was exposed less as a runner?

Finally, Army is softening its schedule these days - note the games against Fordham and Bucknell - but when you've sported just one winning season the past decade (see 7-6 in 2010) you tend to make some not-so-subtle changes. The Black Knights on the Hudson lost four games last year by 20-plus points and don't look for any major strides here unless quarterback A.J. Schurr (7.1 yards per carry as a backup last year) can simply make defenders miss when he's running out of the flexbone triple-option offense.

NOTE: We've got the whole NFL Preseason covered for you right here in Jim Sez, so don't miss out our Monday roundup.

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