From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
With college classes now commencing and high schools just a week away, let’s take a look at the mailbag and emails.
Question: Everybody knows the Bills organization made the right decision to let go punter Matt Araiza in light of the gang-rape allegations surrounding him, but how will it affect the team for the season?
Answer: It shouldn’t affect the team. It was a no-brainer that Araiza’s fate was determined once the allegations surfaced. The Bills really don’t need a punter. They have such a high-powered offense that they punted two times or fewer in seven games in 2021. In three of the final four games, they didn’t punt at all. Backup QB Matt Barkley drilled a 53-yard punt Friday night and strong-legged kicker Tyler Bass probably could be coaxed into punting.
Q: I think the Syracuse University football team will be better this season, but what are the keys for a successful season?
A: Heisman Trophy candidate and running back Sean Tucker must stay healthy, and it’s imperative that the Orange and seventh-year coach Dino Babers — who begins the critical stage of his SU tenure — start strong. A 5-1 beginning is needed because a brutal, four-game stretch that bridges October and November could erase a prosperous September. Most observers see SU going 6-6 overall, but it will likely repeat last season’s record at 5-7.
Q: The Yankees remain a mystery to me. For one game, they sock 20 hits and then 48 hours later, they tally one hit in 11 innings. Why isn’t the lineup more consistent?
A: It’s befuddling to see a team with a powerful lineup struggle — especially over the past seven weeks — unable to amass a steady attack. Clearly the team missed DH Giancarlo Stanton’s presence in the lineup. Foes are now more cognizant to pitch around MVP candidate Aaron Judge and the bottom third of the order is lacking on most nights.
Q: The Steelers’ three-way competition to be the starting QB has been fascinating this preseason. What you do think will ultimately happen?
A: Head coach Mike Tomlin still has not made an official announcement who will be the starter for the Sept. 11 season opener at the Bengals — already a key divisional game. Mitch Trubisky has the inside edge, based on his four years as the Bears’ starter, leading them to the playoffs twice. Veteran backup Mason Rudolph and rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett are also vying. I think eventually Pickett will be the guy. He played college ball at Pitt, is a fan favorite and can throw the ball downfield and that’s what the Steelers want to return to.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org