Louis Villaume

Louis Villaume, a lifelong Minnesotan, has been a Vikings fan since the late 1960s. He's also the seventh grade football coach in Rockford and works with the school's varsity team.

Villaume: Cassel is learning

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: August 12, 2013 - 1:05 PM

 The first preseason game is usually a yawn. After the first series or two it is hard to recognize names, and players come and go so quickly you cannot tell if your team's 2nd string is beating your opponents' 3rd string or worse. The Vikings opened this week with the Houston Texans, and marquis names like Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and Jared Allen were expectedly absent.

Usually on the agenda is a first glimpse of new additions to the team. Draft choices will make an appearance, provided they are not banged up, and off-season acquisitions will get their first chance to don the home colors. In the case of the game vs. Houston, two of the Vikings' three first-round picks made extended appearances. Cordarrelle Patterson made an instant impact, returning a kick-off 50 yards, stumbling only as he tried to go by the final tackler. He finished with four catches for 54 yards, 104 total yards as Minnesota gave the flashy rookie every chance to win over the crowd. Sharrif Floyd, a defensive tackle, made a couple of nice plays before getting dinged and leaving the field. Xavier Rhodes did not play.

But most eyes (and hearts) were trained on Matt Cassel. The majority of Vikings' fans are highly concerned with Christian Ponder's lack of progress, and moreover, frightened of who backs him up. Joe Webb struck a nerve in his under whelming effort in Green Bay last season in the Wild-Card loss. The addition of Cassel gave Ponder critics hope that Minnesota will 'see the light' and give up on the young quarterback. Fans who are still behind Ponder see the addition of the veteran quarterback as insurance that we will not see another game like the last vs. the Packers. 

Ponder would play only the first series. He made a nice pass to Jerome Simpson for 15 yards on his first attempt. Then, on the Houston 40-yard line, Ponder's pass intended for Simpson deflected off of his fingertips and was intercepted. Catchable, but slightly overthrown in the middle of the field. The anti-Ponder fans were reminded of why they feel they way they do.

Enter Cassel.

Cassel played the rest of the half. He completed 12 of 19 passes for over 200 yards, though the field was littered with backups and players hoping to make an NFL roster. Minnesota did keep Patterson on the field, and Cassel targeted him six times, completing four. Cassel's biggest play was a 61-yard touchdown pass to Zach Line, an unknown from SMU. Noteworthy on that play was the impressive efforts of Stephen Burton, who made a crucial down field block that allowed Line to score. Cassel hit Burton earlier with a 56-yard pass, where Burton's agility sprung him for a much bigger gain after the catch. 

All in all a decent game. 

There were some passes that should not have been thrown. Cassel was intercepted on a pass intended for John Carlson that never had a chance. A few others missed their mark. But I doubt if the anti-Ponder fans read too much into that. They were too busy celebrating 200 passing yards in a half. Cassel completed his first three passes, missed on five of the next six, and then completed eight of his last ten.

Matt Cassel is an interesting player. He never started a single game in college. Playing for USC, he threw only 33 passes in his four years. He had 11 rush attempts, and caught a pass. He never was involved in a touchdown directly. He was drafted by the New England Patriots with the 230th overall pick in the seventh round. His first three years at New England were as a back-up only. However, in his fourth season he took over for an injured Tom Brady and went 10-5, throwing for over 3,600 yards, 21 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. His passer rating was 89.4.

Cassel was a sudden commodity.

He ended up in Kansas City, after signing a 63-million dollar contract through 2014. Cassel would go 4-11 as a starter in 2009, throwing only 16 TDs in 15 games. But the following year things changed for the better. Cassel threw for 27 TDs with only seven picks, over 3,100 yards, and the Chiefs were 10-5 in his starts. Cassel played in the Pro Bowl that year, his only appearance to date. 

Cassel had become a star.

But then the injury bug struck, Cassel started only 17 games the next two year, and the Chiefs were 5-12 in those games. Cassel threw 21 interceptions compared to 16 TDs in that stretch. Cassel's passer rating, 93.0 in his Pro Bowl year of 2010, dropped to 76.6 in 2011, and 66.7 in 2012. It got so bad that Arrowhead faithful actually cheered when he was injured last season.

Rick Spielman took Cassel away from all that, and now he works for us.

Matt Cassel will continue to see plenty of time during this preseason. While Christian Ponder will begin to take more and more snaps as he prepares to be the 2013 starter, Cassel will still get a quick education of Bill Musgrave's offense and players. Matt will start the season as Ponder's back-up.

A role he has parlayed into something bigger throughout his career.

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Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
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Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
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Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
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Cal State Fullerton 72
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Idaho 86
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Oregon State 90
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Pacific 69
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San Francisco 77
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Utah State 57
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(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
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Memphis
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Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
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Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
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Lipscomb 72
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Tulsa 78
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Northern Ariz 71
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Oregon 92
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New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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