Tag:Jaz Reynolds
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football



Posted by Tom Fornelli


With teams having already started or starting spring practice over the next few weeks. there are a lot of players across the country who will be charged with replacing someone who has come and gone before them. It's an annual rite of spring in college football, when the senior quarterback from last season is putting the finishing touches on his final semester as a college student, and the sophomore who isn't even sure what he's majoring in yet realizes he's going to be majoring in Playbook 101 for the next few weeks.

Of course, while roster turnover is a common occurence in college football, there are bigger shoes to fill than others, and in this post we take a look at the ten biggest pairs looking for a new owner this spring.

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Ryan Broyles began re-writing the Oklahoma record books the moment he stepped on the field in his first game as a Sooner. He caught 7 passes for 141 yards against Cincinnati, both of which were freshman records. Four years later he finished his career having caught more passes than any other receiver in FBS history, pulling in 349 passes for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns.

In other words, he's not the type of player that Oklahoma can just replace with anybody. This spring receivers like Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer will try to replicate Broyles' production in Norman. Whether it will be one of them doing it, or a group effort, Oklahoma will need it to happen if the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title.

9. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Understandably, USC fans were extremely excited by the news that Matt Barkley would be returning for his senior season, and many have pegged the Trojans as a title favorite because of it. What you don't want to do, however, is overlook the fact that the man who was in charge of protecting Barkley's blindside these last few years won't be back.

Though that's how life generally works for offensive lineman like Matt Kalil. As large as they are, they're often overlooked. Kevin Graf, Jeremy Galten, David Garness and Nathan Guertler will all be competing for the unenviable task of being the man in charge of making sure nothing happens to the most valuable piece of the USC offense.

8. Mark Barron, S, Alabama

One of the problems with having a defense as strong as the one we saw in Tuscaloosa last season is that you're bound to lose players to the next level, and the Crimson Tide have no shortage of beasts making their way to greener pastures. Still, the Tide have a knack for churning out defensive lineman and linebackers, but safeties like Mark Barron don't come along all that often.

Barron made 231 tackles for Nick Saban in his four seasons, including 13 for a loss, while picking off 12 passes. Barron was the type of player that could defend the pass and the run, and he won't be easily replaced. Can Robert Lester or freshman Vinnie Sunseri step up and be the next stud in the Alabama secondary?

7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Based purely on production, there may be no larger shoes to fill in the country than Luke Kuechly's. There may not have been more than 3 plays run by opposing offenses in which Kuechly wasn't in on the tackle. Kuechly finished 2011 with 191 tackles. The next highest total on the Boston College defense belonged to Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74.

As our own Chip Patterson put it, "for Boston College, replacing Kuechly is like any other team replacing 2 1/2 players." Though it's been proven that it can be done, as Kuechly himself once had to fill the shoes left behind by Mark Herzlich. Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto -- who has a name that would be hard to replace -- will be the two linebackers looking to repeat the feat.

6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Many casual college football fans never truly appreciated how amazing a player Morris Claiborne was for LSU in 2011 simply because opposing offenses weren't dumb enough to test him all that often. Throw in some Honey Badger exploits with a bit of Les Miles being Les Miles, and Claiborne gets a bit lost in the gumbo. Still, Claiborne truly was the definition of a shutdown corner for LSU, playing a pivotal role on one of the best defenses in the country.

While Tyrann Mathieu will be back in 2012, he's not the cover corner that Claiborne was, so it will be up to Tharold Simon to fill the role. One he seems capable of considering he led LSU with 10 passes broken up in 2011 playing mostly as a nickel back.

5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

I won't lie to you. Even when Mark Ingram will still in Tuscaloosa running through SEC defenses, I always felt that Trent Richardson was the best running back on the Alabama roster. Now both are gone, and Richardson will be harder to replace than Ingram was simply because Trent can't replace himself.

Can Eddie Lacy be the next Heisman finalist in the Alabama backfield? He showed some promise in 2011, and in an offense like Alabama's, the opportunities will be there. Still, even if Lacy is extremely talented, there are only so many shoes capable of doing this.

4. Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon, QB/WR, Oklahoma State

A bit of a cheat, I know, but the truth is that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon felt like extensions of one another for the past two seasons in Stillwater. Their success was as a duo. I mean, Blackmon caught 40 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which accounted for 53% of the 75 touchdown passes Weeden threw with the Cowboys.

Now we know that Oklahoma State is going to continue putting points on the board without them, but will the offense ever be as prolific when the combination is Clint Chelf or Wes Lunt to Tracy Moore? We'll get our first clues this spring.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Maybe you think that LaMichael James isn't all that hard to replace given the weapons Oregon has in the backfield. I can see your point, but I can also point out that James nearly doubled Kenjon Barner's rushing total (1,805 yards to 939) in 2011. I mean, this is a man who rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry in 2011, yet we didn't think it was so amazing based simply on the fact we'd already seen him do similar things in the previous two seasons.

We just got used to it.

Yes, Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are extremely talented backs, but the fact is there's no easy way to replace a back who accounted for 5,888 all-purpose yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons as a Duck, all at the speed of light.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Will it be harder to fill RG3's shoes, or his socks? Neither will be easy. While we all know how talented Griffin was as a quarterback for Baylor in 2011 and the two seasons before it, it's his impact on the program that will leave the biggest impression. Baylor went from a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12 to a team that can call itself the home of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Nick Florence will be the favorite to replace Griffin this spring, but he'll never be able to have the impact on the Baylor program that Griffin did. Instead he'd be much better served to focus on replacing the production on the field. Something that won't be easy, either, but given Art Briles' history with quarterbacks and the way Florence performed in place of Griffin against Texas Tech, it may not be that far-fetched, either.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Andrew Luck didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Robert Griffin did, but that doesn't diminish the impact he had on the Stanford program. In the three seasons before Luck showed up in Palo Alto, Stanford was 10-26, including a 1-11 season in 2006. In Luck's three seasons the Cardinal went 31-8, played in two BCS bowl games and became a national program.

Stanford is essentially the school Notre Dame used to be, and it's all thanks to Luck. Of course, the question now is whether or not Stanford can maintain the success they had under Luck with a new quarterback. Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo will all enter spring practice looking to replace the most important player in the history of Stanford football, and that's a list that includes John Elway.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:31 am
 

Sooners center to miss spring practice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that Oklahoma can't escape the injuries that dogged the team throughout 2011.

After missing a large portion of the 2011 season thanks to a broken arm, center Ben Habern had to undergo neck surgery last week. The injury is not considered career-threatening, but neck surgery is never something to be taken lightly, and Habern will miss spring practice because of it.

The good news for Oklahoma is that the team is prepared to deal with Habern's absence since it already dealt with it through most of the year. Gabe Ikard will once again slide over from guard to center while Adam Shead will get more playing time at guard during the spring.

Unfortunately for the Sooners, Habern won't be the only player missing spring practice.

Dominique Whaley, who missed the last half of the season after breaking his ankle in October, will not be back this spring. He continues to recover from the injury and the team does expect him back in time to practice in August.

Then there's receiver Jaz Reynolds who suffered a kidney injury late in the year. The team isn't sure whether or not he'll be ready to participate with them this spring.

Oklahoma's spring practice begins on March 5th.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:37 pm
 

Trey Metoyer finally cleared for Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Like every school in the country, Oklahoma will put the finishing touches on its 2012 recruiting class on Wednesday, but the Sooners got some good news on 2011's class on Thursday.

One of Oklahoma's top recruits in 2011, five-star receiver Trey Metoyer, has been cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse and will join the Sooners some time soon.

Metoyer signed with Oklahoma last year, but failed to qualify academically. As a result he spent the year Hargrave Military Academy.

Metoyer's presence on the Sooners offense in 2012 could be quite a boost. Oklahoma is already considered the early favorite in the Big 12 next season thanks to the return of Landry Jones, and Metoyer should fit in nicely with Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds at the wide receiver position. Those three have pretty large shoes to fill as the Sooners try and replace Ryan Broyles

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:26 am
 

Keys to the Game: Baylor vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: Baylor will have to win this game the same way it does in every game it emerges victorious: by outscoring Oklahoma. This is a team that's ranked 108th in the country in scoring defense, after all, allowing 36 points per game. The good news for Baylor is that it has an offense more than capable of putting up points in a hurry. Of course, taking care of the ball while it has it would help a lot too. In the blowout loss to Oklahoma State the Bears turned the ball over 5 times, and last week against Kansas the Bears turned it over 4 times, forcing Robert Griffin to lead a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter. The best way to limit turnovers will be to protect Griffin from an Oklahoma defensive line that can get to the quarterback, as it's second in the Big 12 with 34 sacks this season. If Griffin gets time, he can pick apart any secondary.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: It can overcome the injuries on offense. Normally I'd put Oklahoma's offense on par with Baylor's, but is that still the case now that the Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles in the last two weeks? We can't know for sure because we haven't seen it play without those two yet. Which means that Landry Jones will have to adjust to life without his favorite target and security blanket. Remember, Landry Jones has never played a game as a Sooner in which he didn't have Broyles around to throw to. In the backfield, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will have to step up to fill in for Whaley and give the Sooners balance on offense. On defense, the Oklahoma defense needs to pressure Griffin and understand that it's likely going to give up points. It just needs to make a few stops each half too. Something it has proven more than capable of doing all season.

X-FACTOR: Jaz Reynolds. Landry Jones is going to miss having Ryan Broyles around, and is going to need one of his receivers to step up and make some big plays. That player should be Jaz Reynolds, who has stepped up in a big way in Oklahoma's last three games. In that span Reynolds has caught 4 touchdowns, though he only has 215 yards. Against this Baylor secondary, with Jones forced to look his way more often, he could approach that yardage total in just one game.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 7:05 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma 58 Kansas State 17

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA WON. Kansas State's dream of an undefeated season came to an end on Saturday in Manhattan as an Oklahoma team that was looking to make a statement following a loss to Texas Tech made its statement. This game was close for the first 30 minutes, as Kansas State had a 17-14 lead in the 2nd quarter and trailed only 23-17 at halftime, but then the Sooners blew the Wildcats out of the water in the second half.

The Oklahoma defense figured out how to stop Collin Klein and the Wildcats on defense, and then the offense kept adding to its lead. The further the Wildcats got behind the easier it was for Oklahoma to stop them as this Kansas State offense just isn't built for comebacks.

WHY OKLAHOMA WON. Aside from the defensive performance in the second half, the thing that Oklahoma really had going for it on Saturday was the return of Landry Jones. Jones hadn't been sharp in recent weeks, and he threw 2 interceptions in the first half, but he finished his day with 505 yards passing and 5 touchdowns.

WHEN OKLAHOMA WON. When Jaz Reynolds needed only his right hand to pull in his second touchdown grab of the day in the third quarter, making the score 37-17 Sooners, the air came out of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. It seems even Kansas State fans knew their team couldn't make up a 20-point deficit against Oklahoma.

WHAT OKLAHOMA WON. The Sooners got some of their swagger back following last week's loss, but more importantly, Oklahoma is still alive for the Big 12 title. If it can beat Oklahoma State to end the season, even if Kansas State wins out, the Sooners would hold the tiebreaker over both Oklahoma State and Kansas State. So there's still plenty to play for in Norman.

WHAT KANSAS STATE LOST. Kansas State had its doubters coming into this game, and after this performance those doubts aren't going away. Yes, what has taken place in Manhattan so far this season has been a fantastic story, but it was rather evident on Saturday that this team isn't quite ready to compete for a Big 12 title.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:35 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma 62 Ball State 6

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA WON. And boy did it. This was exactly the kind of game you'd expect out of a national title contender against a MAC school. The Sooners racked up 655 yards of total offense in this game, even though it removed most of its starters in the fourth quarter. Landry Jones had a Heisman-padding performance, throwing for 425 yards, 5 touchdowns and an interception. Dominique Whaley also rushed for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns while Jaz Reynolds caught 5 passes for 141 yards with a score and Ryan Broyles caught 4 passes for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On defense, safety Tony Jefferson went about earning himself the Big 12 Defensive Player Of the Week Award by picking off 3 Keith Wenning passes. Oklahoma's defense forced 4 turnovers overall, and held Ball State to only 214 yards of offense.

HOW OKLAHOMA WON. By completely overwhelming Ball State on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma has a pretty big game against Texas next week, and they made this game look like a scrimmage in preparation for it.

WHEN OKLAHOMA WON. Ball State hung around with Oklahoma for the first 17 minutes, trailing only 10-6 early in the second quarter, but once Dominique Whaley scored a 25-yard touchdown to make it 17-6, this one was over.

WHAT OKLAHOMA WON. A game on the schedule and nothing more. It wasn't a conference game, and drilling a MAC school isn't going to do much to impress voters and help the Sooners overtake LSU in the AP poll.

WHAT BALL STATE LOST. I don't think it would be fair to say that Ball State lost anything in this game. It was a huge underdog coming into Norman, and no one was expecting all that much. Sure, losing this badly hurts any player's pride, but Ball State is still undefeated in the MAC and has wins over Indiana, Buffalo and Army that it can be proud of. The Cardinals will be fine and could still make some noise in the MAC this year.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Oklahoma suspends Trey Franks

Posted by Tom Fornelli

You know, there were other things that Oklahoma did on Tuesday that didn't just involve wanting Dan Beebe to be fired, or saying that it knew the Pac-12 didn't want the school to join even though it had just held a meeting on Monday in which it gave David Boren the power to seek a new conference. I guess that was just a practice run.

Anyway, somehow, amidst all of this, Oklahoma was still able to find the time to suspend wide receiver Trey Franks. Oklahoma announced the suspension on Tuesday afternoon, saying it was for a violating unspecified team rules.

Franks had 7 receptions for 74 yards in Oklahoma's opener against Tulsa, but didn't play a role in the team's win over Florida State last weekend. As a freshman in 2010, Franks had 29 catches for 263 yards and a touchdown. 

Dejuan Miller, who started for Kenny Stills when Stills was suspended for the Tulsa game, is likely to get most of Franks' snaps while he's suspended, though Jaz Reynolds and Kameel Jackson could see some time as well.
Posted on: March 22, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Bob Stoops cracking down on Twitter

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As a blogger, I absolutely love Twitter. It's a great way for me to keep track of stories to write about, and also discuss those stories with others. It's also a great way to waste some time talking about stupid things with friends. If I were a head coach, though, I could see why Twitter could be a huge headache. Yes, at most college football programs, players are trained on how to deal with the media, and taught to measure their words before they say them. On Twitter, however, there is no filter between a player's mind and his fingertips, which could lead to trouble.

Which a few Oklahoma players have run in to the last year or so. There was Jaz Reynolds joking about a shooting at Texas last season, and in general, it's a great way for other teams to get some nice bulletin board material. Many head coaches around the country have banned players from using it, and while he hasn't gone that far yet, Bob Stoops plans on implementing a Twitter policy with his team.

“Guys that don't know what they're doing need to have it taken away,” Stoops told The Oklahoman.

“It's hard to believe they don't get it. They still think they're at East Handkerchief High School, where no one cares. And that's not the case.”

Of course, while he hasn't completely banned his players from using Twitter yet, it seems that it would be right around the corner. While he implements this policy with his players, it's not hard to imagine that the second somebody slips up on Twitter and says something they shouldn't, Stoops is going to just take it away from them.

And when he does, I'll likely tweet a smart-assed comment about it.
 
 
 
 
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