Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
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.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.
Get CBSSports.com College Football updates on Facebook
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Art Briles, Baylor, Big 12, Boston College, Brandon Weeden, Brett Nottingham, Cincinnati, Clint Chelf, David Garness, DeAnthony Thomas, Eddie Lacy, Jaz Reynolds, Jeremy Galten, John Elway, Josh Nunes, Justin Blackmon, Kenjon Barner, Kenny Stills, Kevin Graf, Kevin Pierre-Louis, LaMichael James, Les Miles, LSU, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, Mark Herzlich, Mark Ingram, Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Nathan Guertler, Nick Florence, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Robbie Picazo, Robert Griffin, Robert Lester, Ryan Broyles, SEC, Spring Practice, Stanford, Steele Divitto, Tharold Simon, Tom Fornelli, Tracy Moore, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, USC, Vinnie Sunseri, Wes Lunt
Posted on: September 12, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 3:00 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Expectations have shifted significantly for the 2011 Boston College football team. After winning their final five regular season games, and returning Preseason ACC Player of the Year Montel Harris, the Eagles were picked to finish third in the ACC Atlantic Division and were even suggested by some as a division title dark horse. But heading into the Eagles' conference opener against Duke, the story of the season has been much more about the injury report than the action on the field.
Which is unfortunate, because All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly has not slowed down one bit. His 158 tackles in 2009 set an NCAA record for a freshman and ranked second nationally. In 2010 he led the nation in tackles with 183 - Washington's Mason Foster was second with 162. Two weeks into the 2011 season Luke Kueckly - to no one's surprise - leads the nation in tackles (35).
Kuechly's statistics only compliment what anyone could recognize on tape. The junior has an incredible sense for where the ball is going, and his closing speed is among the best for a player of his size and position. He'll credit those skills to hard work in the film room, but there is an instinctive sense in Kuechly's game that makes him a truly special player.
Kuechly's game has rubbed off on sophomore linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who has recorded 23 tackles in the Eagles' two losing efforts. Pierre-Louis was tapped as a player poised to breakout in 2011, and so far he has shown many of the same playmaking tendencies as his All-American teammate.
But an impressive linebacking corps will not be enough to fix Boston College's issues. Head coach Frank Spaziani is not one for coachspeak, but the only way for the Eagles to bounce back from their rocky start is to embrace the "next man up" mentality. Running back Andre Williams has certainly put forth a strong effort in the absence of Montel Harris. With Harris slowly returning to the field after his second arthroscopic knee surgery in a year, Williams has rushed 34 times for 174 yards (5.1 ypc) and a pair of touchdowns in two games.
But Boston College needs one of their wide receivers to step up and replace Ifeanyi Momah, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Northwestern. The lack of a passing game was the most glaring weakness in Boston College's 30-3 loss to UCF on Saturday. Momah caught eight passes for 171 yards against the Wildcats before his injury, but still remains the season leader in both categories after two games. Rettig only completed 10 of 23 attempts against the Knights, and never was able to get in sync with his receivers downfield.
That Boston College defense did not allow a touchdown for three quarters, but the Knights were given plenty of opportunities with BC only converting 1-of-12 third downs. We are only two weeks into the season, and Eagles fans know as well as anyone that Boston College can bounce back from a rough start. But with the injury bug plaguing both sides of the ball, the Eagles need to look to their linebackers for some inspiration.
Kuechly wasn't even supposed to start as a freshman in 2009. But Mark Herzlich was forced to miss the season due to Ewing's sarcoma, the Cincinnati-native stepped in and thrived as the "next man up." Now the onus is on the current underclassmen to do the same, as Boston College tries to rebound from a dreadful start.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 6:13 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 6:19 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the ACC Atlantic Division.
BOSTON COLLEGE: One of the things that became increasingly evident this spring was how much the Eagles have riding on running back Montel Harris going into the 2011 season. Harris tore his lateral meniscus in Boston College's ACC finale against Virginia and missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery. Even missing the last game, Harris finished second in the ACC with 1,242 yards. After one carry in Boston College's spring game (which really is more of an offense-defense scrimmage), Harris was taken out for "precautionary measures."
All spring, the Eagles' foremost concern has been the health of their prized running back, as it should be. Boston College's muddled quarterback situation does not provide a whole lot of confidence in the passing game. Chase Rettig has likely emerged spring as the starter, taking significantly more reps near the end of the practice than Dave Shinskie, and Mike Marscovetra. Rettig emerged as a freshman in 2010 and finished the season as the starter. But his 6 touchdowns to 9 interceptions on the season hardly secured him the gig for 2011. But after completing 20-of-29 passes for 182 yards in the spring game, popular belief is that Rettig will be the starter in the fall. Boston College's greatest asset still is their defense, which will be highlighted once again by Kevin Pierre Louis and Luke Kuechly, who was recently got named to the Lott Trophy Watch list.
CLEMSON: With Kyle Parker off with the Colorado Rockies for good, this spring was the time for former backup Tajh Boyd to take command of this team. The obstacle he faced heading into practice was doing it with a brand new offensive coordinator. Since taking over under Todd Morris' new system Boyd has been consistent in his effort and leadership, just inconsistent on performance. In the Tigers' spring game Boyd looked out of rhythm with his receivers, completing only 8 of 24 passes for 114 yards. Head coach Dabo Swinney hopes that Boyd will be pushed by backup quarterback Cole Stoudt, but Boyd has been the man in charge of Morris' new offense - which is reportedly only about 60% installed.
The new up-tempo offense could benefit the Tigers in the ACC, particularly with the athletes they have at the skill positions. If the spring game was any measure, Clemson should see a significant increase in their play count per game. The scheme has proven to put up big numbers, but it relies about as evenly on the run game as the passing game. Luckily the Tigers are well equipped at running back. Andre Ellington returns after collecting 686 yards and 10 touchdowns in just eight games of action before suffering a season-ending toe injury. Sitting out of spring drills, Clemson fans got a good look at his backups and - what should be - a very deep running back position. Demont Buice (18 carries, 102 yards), Roderick McDowell (12 carries, 100 yards), and D.J. Howard (11 carries, 97 yards) all had strong showings in the spring game and should make for an interesting competition once camp opens in the fall. Defensively one big surprise was the emergence of Corey Crawford. The 6-5, 275-pound early enrollee has raised eyebrows all spring, and figures to already be a part of the defensive end rotation in the fall. Wearing Da'Quan Bowers' No. 93, Crawford appears to be taking the responsibility of upholding the legacy of Bowers and the late Gaines Adams.
FLORIDA STATE: Without a doubt, the Seminoles exit the spring as a favorite to repeat as Atlantic Division Champions in 2011. With the talent returning from last year's squad and the rise of junior quarterback E.J. Manuel, head coach Jimbo Fisher has Tallahassee buzzing once again about brining the ACC title home to where it started. Florida State won in the inaugural ACC title game in 2005, and the closest they have come since then was last year's 44-33 defeat to Virginia Tech.
The hype set the bar high, but spring practice posed a different set of challenges for Fisher and his staff. The Seminoles had seven starters miss practice due to injury, so the coaches used much of the spring to sort out depth issues. The offensive line is a bit of a concern for Fisher, as they have had to do some shuffling in order to fill out the line and establish some depth. The coaches were pleased with Manuel's spring as a whole, but the junior quarterback struggled in Florida State's well-attended spring game. Fisher has said that he is mostly concerned with Manuel's development as a leader at this point, and did not seem to think much of his spring game outing.
"He was frustrated but I got more out of him today because we struggled and he didn't have a good day," Fisher said following the game. "At the end of the day we had a chance to make plays and we made a few plays."
Many of the injuries were on the defensive end, but with all of those players getting back to 100% before training camp it should not play a major factor in the Seminoles' readiness for the season. If there is any "red-flag" from spring practice it would be a fear of complacency. There were several early practices that led Fisher to criticize his team's speed and toughness. Florida State cannot afford to be slow-starting in 2011 if they truly plan on competing for a National Championship. With Oklahoma visiting Tallahassee on Sept. 13, the Seminoles need to be competing in midseason form from the first day of camp. If Florida State is "going through the motions" at the beginning of the season, the Sooners will be a rude wake-up call after Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern.
MARYLAND: There will be no surprises this year with sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien. After being named the 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year, O'Brien's development has not been slowed due to the coaching changes at Maryland. In fact, the new system installed by former LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has the players feeling like there could be even more passing in 2011. O'Brien took advantage of the vanilla scrimmage coverages in the spring game, completing 16 of 23 passes for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns. New head coach Randy Edsall is very excited about the rotation of wide receivers taking shape, with Ronnie Tyler, Kevin Dorsey, and Quintin McCree all having strong springs.
With defensive coordinator Don Brown leaving to take the position at Connecticut, Maryland's defense has spent most of the spring trying to learn a new system. Edsall promoted assistant coach Todd Bradford to the position in mid-February, and the newness of the change seems to still be setting in for the players. Brown's system carried lots of blitzing packages and multiple looks, the players say Bradford's relies more on coverage responsibility. Maryland's defense is experienced, but they are still a little slow getting on the same page at this point.
NC STATE: What I learned this spring is that head coach Tom O'Brien's word at N.C. State is firm and unwavering. O'Brien told Russell Wilson that if he wanted to be the starting quarterback in 2011 he needed to stay with the team instead of playing minor league baseball in the offseason. Even when Wilson, an All-ACC quarterback and 2010 Champs Sports Bowl MVP, asked O'Brien if he could return in August - O'Brien said no. So now the reigns are officially in the hands of Mike Glennon, the highly-recruited younger brother of former Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon. Glennon, a redshirt junior, checks out on paper as a strong candidate for the Wolfpack starting job. The only thing that he lacks is actual game experience. The problem is that with Wilson's departure to continue football elsewhere (as opposed to sticking with professional baseball) will have an effect on the fan base's expectations from Glennon. Glennon did not have a great outing in N.C. State's shortened spring game (inclement weather), and it will be important for his confidence to get some early wins in the fall.
N.C. State lost leading rusher Mustafa Greene to injury during spring practice, but he is expected to be back in time for fall practice. Greene emerged as the answer to one of the big question marks in 2010, and he will be leaned on to help Glennon get comfortable in the starting position. This year it has been the wide receiver position that was not addressed this spring, as T.J. Graham leads a crop of wideouts that lack experience in game situations. Wolfpack fans are hoping for another Greene-type situation out of the position next fall. The linebacking corps will be strong point once again for N.C. State, led by Terrell Manning and Audi Cole. Cole moves over to Nate Irving's position of middle linebacker, and while the transition has not been easy the coaching staff seems pleased with his progress and potential heading into the new season.
WAKE FOREST: We knew that Wake Forest had a long way to go to improve on last year's frustrating 3-9 season. With spring practice in the books, the Demon Deacons still are a ways away from the squad that was competing among the ACC elite a half-decade ago. Head coach Jim Grobe often mentioned how inexperience played a factor in 2010's struggles, with the Deacons having to start several freshman (especially on the defensive end) throughout the season.
"I think last year we were a soft group of freshmen, and now we're just a crusty group of sophomores,"Grobe told the Winston-Salem Journal. "I know coaches are worried about playing too many sophomores but for me, we're light years ahead of where we were last year with these guys."
Offensively, the Deacons will hope to get running back Josh Harris going behind a more experienced offensive line. The talented sophomore broke out against Virginia Tech (20 carries, 241 yards, two touchdowns) and in the season finale against Vanderbilt (18 carries, 138 yards, one touchdown). But inconsistent production during the regular season have left Wake Forest fans looking for more out of the running back from Duncanville, TX. Harris led all rushers in the spring game with 85 yards, but missed many of the workouts due to injury. If Harris can't get the ground game going there will be a lot of pressure on quarterback Tanner Price to make plays with his wide receivers, which doesn't appear very threatening at this point.
Tags: ACC, ACC Atlantic Division, ACC Spring Practice, Andre Ellington, Audi Cole, Boston College, Chase Rettig, Clemson, Cole Stoudt, Corey Crawford, D.J. Howard, Da'Quan Bowers, Dabo Swinney, Danny O'Brien, Dave Shinskie, Demont Buice, Don Brown, E.J. Manuel, Florida State, Gary Crowton, Jim Grobe, Jimbo Fisher, Josh Harris, Kevin Dorsey, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Luke Kuechly, Maryland, Mike Glennon, Mike Marscovetra, Montel Harris, Mustafa Greene, Quintin McCree, Randy Edsall, Roderick McDowell, Ronnie Tyler, Spring Practice, T.J. Graham, Tajh Boyd, Tanner Price, Terrell Manning, Todd Bradford, Todd Morris, Tom O'Brien, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, What I Learned, What I Learned This Spring
Posted on: January 8, 2011 12:35 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Basics: Nevada (12-1) vs. Boston College (7-5), Jan. 9, 9 ET
Why You Should Watch: What? Do you want kids to starve or something? We're trying to fight hunger here, people. With football. Didn't you know that when you're starving, by watching football and diverting your body's attention, you keep it from eating itself. It's real science, look it up, I swear. Okay, so maybe the science is a little off, but there's still some other reasons to watch this game. First, it features a Nevada team that beat Boise State earlier this year and won the WAC. The Wolfpack aren't a bad team, and quite frankly, they're a fun team to watch. Finally, there's the fact that after this game, there's only one game left on the schedule. Get in one more college football game while you can, before the long, dark summer creeps in.
Keys to Victory for Nevada: The key to victory for Nevada is very tall and skinny, and when he runs, he reminds me of an ostrich. His name is Colin Kaepernick, and he's one of the more exciting quarterbacks in college football that a lot of people have never really had a chance to see. Just like in every game Nevada plays, how The Ostrich goes, so goes the team. And he could be facing one of his biggest tests of the season.
Kaepernick and the Wolfpack have one of the best rushing attacks in college football. In fact, they're ranked third nationally with 305.9 yards per game. Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua lead the attack. Well, in this game, they'll be going against the top rush defense in the country, as Boston College has only allowed 80 yards a game on the ground. Finding a way to be successful on the ground will be pivotal for the Wolfpack, because even though Kaepernick has improved as a passer, I'm not sure you want him being forced to drop back and throw too many times. Particularly when he's most effective throwing off of play action.
Keys to Victory for Boston College: The Eagles offense has been unreliable all season, scoring a meager 18.9 points a game. So, obviously, if Boston College is going to win this game, it can't afford to get into a shootout. Which means that the defense is going to have to stifle the Nevada ground game to have any shot.
Which means that the linebacking trio of Luke Kueckly, Mark Herzlich and Kevin Pierre-Louis will have to once again step up and keep the Eagles in this game. Of course, you can't win if you don't score points, so Boston College's offense will have to do something when it has the ball. The good news for BC is that running back Montel Harris is expected to play in this game after missing the last few weeks of the regular season with an injury. He's only 126 yards shy of becoming Boston College's all-time leading rusher. If Boston College wants to win this game, they're going to need Harris to set that mark.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is like: that potato chip you dropped on the ground without even noticing. You've spent the last few hours watching television with that bag of chips in your lap. Now the bag is empty, but you're still hungry. That's when you notice the chip sitting on the floor. It's got some lint on it, but still, you wonder. "Do I have another bag of chips in the cupboard?" No, and you don't plan on going shopping for more food right now either. So are you going to eat that chip? You're not sure how long it's been sitting there, and you haven't vacuumed in a while, so who knows what's gotten on to that thing since it's been down there. But you're hungry. What do you do? Are you going to eat it?