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Studs & Duds: McDonald, Mickelson, College Kickers And More

I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve never been so happy to watch a Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors football game in my entire life. I knew a standout from this game would be the lead for Studs & Duds on this week’s column and oh boy, did we have a live one.

Hawai’i sprinted out to a 37-7 lead with 3:35 left in the third quarter on the right arm of our Stud of the Week: QB Cole McDonald. But more on him later.

The Rams would not go softly into the night, logging 27 of the next 30 points scored (all in 15 minutes of game clock to make it 40-34 with 4:42 remaining in the game). But a comeback of epic proportions was not meant to be, as Hawai’i hogged the ball and ran out the clock before kicking a 35-yard field goal to seal the deal.

I have some thoughts on this game. I want to applaud Hawai’i for their aggressive mentality early. As 17.5 point road underdogs, Hawai’i took the ball the length of the field before stalling inside the ten. The team, much to my delight, passed on the easy field goal and went for it, landing a touchdown and a 7-0 lead on their opening possession.

I’ve long been a proponent of passing on field goals in many situations at the college level. Playing on the road as a major underdog and having some positive momentum is one of those instances. You can miss me with the three points. If you miss, make the other team go 96-yards and earn their own points.

On the other hand, Colorado State played this game scared at a key point in the game. Down by 23 points and with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Colorado State faced a 4th and 8 from the Hawai’i 30-yard line. The team’s kicker was 0-1 on the night, missing a 45-yard kick right before the half.

Quick! You’re down four scores at the opposing team’s 30 with 20 minutes left in the game. Your kicker missed a shorter field goal than the one you’d have to kick now. What would you do? 

Naturally, Colorado State kicked. And naturally, they missed. #CollegeKickers

Rant over. Welcome back to Studs & Duds. 

Stud – Hawai’i QB Cole McDonald

Where do we start with Cole McDonald? It took me all of three possessions to ask “Who the hell is this McDonald kid?” 

He was masterful on Saturday night, running the Warriors’ revamped Run-And-Shoot offense to perfection. His stat line is straight out of a video game:

26/37 passing for 418 yards and 3 touchdowns. 13 carries for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns.

That’ll do. Coming into the game, I was expecting to eye the quarterback on the other side. K.J. Carta-Samuels was a coveted graduate transfer out of Washington and was damn close to enrolling at UCLA. Instead, KJCS spurned Chip Kelly and signed on with the Rams.

And while Carta-Samuels put up eye popping numbers, I thought his receivers came on late and did a lot of the the work for him.

This was McDonald’s night. And even if for just one evening, the football gods were just in who brought home the win.

I’m not going to go crazy talking about Cole’s pro prospects, at least not yet. I really don’t know anything about him. But what I do know is this kid has a live arm and is crafty working the pocket. He’s athletic and can move. Congratulations, Cole. You’ve got our attention.

Now, show us what you can do again next week.

Dud – Atlanta Falcons DB Damontae Kazee

Kazee was the defender in question to come in low on Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee during Week 3 of the NFL preseason. The low contact buckled Lee’s left knee and it twisted in a clearly abnormal angle as Lee fell to the ground.

Kazee’s listing as a Dud in this week’s column isn’t meant to suggest that I feel Kazee is directly to blame for Lee’s injury. Defenders have been put in a very difficult position as it relates to head up tackling.

I really don’t know what Kazee is supposed to do in that situation other than stop, allow Lee to gain an angle to the sideline and then try to catch him from behind. Tackling rules have been very clear in stating you can’t hit high with your helmet, so Kazee does the opposite.

The problem? Lee tries to come to a stop just prior to contact and Kazee does drop his head a bit, resulting in Kazee’s helmet crashing directly into the outside of Lee’s left knee.

Brutal. No one should believe Kazee did this with intent, however. This was an accident and several conditions were all present to net this painful result.

I’d like to send best wishes to Marqise, may we see you on the field again in the future. I’d also like to send best wishes to Damontae, who reached out to Lee via social media.

I have a feeling the NFL may be sending to Damontae in the coming days as well, although I don’t think best wishes is what they will have in mind. They’ll be sending a fine.

Stud – Phil Mickelson

I’m not a huge golf guy, primarily because I prefer to spend my time and energy on things I don’t suck at. But I have a great appreciation for those who can play golf at a high level.

I also have a great appreciation for some good smack talk. Phil Mickelson checked both those boxes over the weekend with this savage call with the ball in the air:

Fan: “Totally better than Tiger’s!”

Phil: “…Oh, it is.”

Ball: Maybe two feet from the pin. 

I. AM. SWOONING. I haven’t been this smitten with a moment on the Tour since Happy Gilmore and Bob Barker had it out on the links at the Pepsi Pro-Am in 1996.

The media picked up on this pretty quickly and it’s the latest in a series of playful jabs the two legends have shared with one another in advance of their head to head match-up for $9 million in a winner take all showdown in November.

This is what good marketing looks like, people. Generate the conversation. Golf is a gentleman’s game, until you schedule a television special with the two biggest draws of the sport competing head to head. I, for one, applaud both Mickelson and Woods for their ability to embrace this unique opportunity to maximize their platform.

Just like Mickelson’s shot, they’ve stuck this right where they want it.

Dud – Carolina Panthers’ Week 3 uniforms

Expect to see ample uniform takes on Studs & Duds in the coming months, now that football is back in an official capacity. For the first time ever in a real game (although counting Madden contests this is probably the ten millionth…), the Panthers wore blue uniforms with black pants against the Patriots over the weekend.

You can miss me with this look, sorry. There’s a whole lot going on when you mix a silver helmet with a blue uniform and black pants. Yes, these are the colors of the Carolina Panthers. But no, that doesn’t mean we should use them all in such prominent ways at the same time.

Carolina has some of the best uniform combinations in the league. Call me crazy but the color rush light blues are sexy. Black on black is always a killer look. The team’s traditional blue top, silver pant combo looks so great because the helmet matches the pants.

I spoke with Joe Marino about this on the phone over the weekend and the conclusion we came to was that darker pants than jerseys only looks good when it matches the helmet color.

So, NFL, the ball is in your court to start letting teams wear multiple shells and get some color variation in the helmet. College teams have free reign to do so with twice as many on a roster. Let’s not be scared to be great.

Stud – Chicago Bears WR Javon Wims

Studs and Duds is always a good time to give your good takes some love. Folks, let’s talk about Chicago WR Javon Wims. Our very own Trevor Sikkema did over the weekend. His takeaway? Tape > Test.

I’d like to whole heartedly agree with him. The testing process around the NFL Draft process does hold value. But it shouldn’t blur a player’s value if his tape can compensate for his physical limitations. I had a fourth round value on Wims coming out of Georgia this past April, yet he wasn’t drafted until the 224th pick.

Wims logged 114 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs in Week 3 of the preseason. Very good, indeed.

Behind Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, fellow rookie Anthony Miller and Kevin White, Wims has been the best Chicago has this summer. So it won’t be too much of a shock to see him make the football team.

Wims won with ball skills and contested catch ability, things that will make him a valuable back-up if Robinson or White goes down.