Dodd: First-half report | Notebook
Check baseball's All-Star break, Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon or those swimmers in the English Channel. Getting halfway there means little.
|Adrian Peterson has made quite a splash with Oklahoma.(AP)|
So what is the significance of this season's midpoint? A lot, if you believe the shuffling has just begun. Oklahoma is now a running team. Nebraska is a passing team. The Big East is the Big Easy. Navy is undefeated. Army isn't winless.
Yeah, the typical weirdness. There's more to come. To set the stage, we take a look back at the first 46 days of the season and ahead to the next 45. It started Aug. 28 in steamy Landover. The regular season will end (for the most part) Nov. 27.
Will the national picture be any clearer? Maybe. That's why we can't wait.
You probably don't know Kevin Robinson. The 19-year old from Utah State is leading the country this week in punt returns. The same goes for Jamario Thomas. North Texas' teenage tailback took over for the nation's leading rusher in 2003 (Patrick Cobbs) and is currently sixth nationally. That's two spots behind Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson.
You probably shouldn't be surprised, either. Freshmen are taking over the earth. At least infiltrating major college football at an unprecedented rate. If there is a theme to the first half of the season, it's freshman impact.
By design or out of panic, coaches are using freshmen more and more. Scholarship limitations have something to do with it. So does the NFL. If a player is talented enough to play right away, why waste a year by redshirting him? He's only going to be gone in three years anyway.
Peterson is the No. 4 rusher in the country and being mentioned prominently for the Heisman. Thomas took over for the injured Cobbs and is averaging 147.8 yards a game. Michigan's Lloyd Carr has his first all-freshman backfield with quarterback Chad Henne and tailback Michael Hart. Tennessee is alternating true freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer at quarterback.
Because of the young, the old rules don't apply. At least one freshman is listed in the top 30 of 11 key statistical categories this week by the NCAA -- the same number as in 2003.
There are many reasons why. Nutrition and supplements are more of a factor than even 10 years ago. Kids are maturing at a younger age. Weight-training techniques have improved. High school football more closely resembles college and the NFL.
Remember when freshman were hazed? Now they're cornerstones to entire programs.