Posted on: May 20, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 3:42 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.
THE FOUR LINKS ...
1. Most of the spring buzz out of Ole Miss regarding the quarterback position hds centered on the dramatic improvement of former JUCO transfer Randall Mackey, but West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti came on late in camp and according to many observers outplayed Mackey in the Rebels' spring game. Result? Houston Nutt saying this week that "if we had to play tonight," Brunetti would be the starter.
Nonetheless, expect this to be a battle that lasts well into fall practice.
2. Yes, there's still more updates out there on the mad, mad, mad mad world of Harvey Updyke, even following this week's fresh indictments. For one, if you remember the alleged assault on Updyke that took place after his initial court appearance, it's looking more "alleged" than ever. Local police told The War Eagle Reader that there is "absolutely nothing for us to pursue" in terms of evidence and that the case would be closed soon.
If the country district attorney has his way, Updyke will be unable to reiterate his claims with another Paul Finebaum appearance; the DA has also requested a gag order on the case.
3. Unless you're a particularly devoted fan of Phil Steele's preseason college football magazine, the release of the magazine's nine regional covers isn't something you'd, I don't know, plan your lunch break around. But we wanted to mention it all the same, just to note our love for the annual Armed Forces cover:
If you'll excuse me, I need to go find some redcoats or Communists to punch out.
4. Andrew Luck will enter 2011 as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy (and the overwhelming one to nab the top spot in the 2012 NFL Draft), but as this study from TeamSpeedKills shows, it's a little early to start engraving his name on anything just yet; quarterbacks with QB ratings as stratospherically high as Luck's typically regress to a merely outstanding mean in their final seasons. Luck's hardly a typical quarterback, but especially without Jim Harbaugh at the offensive reins, it's something to consider.
AND THE CLOUD ...
As it had suggested previously, the SEC is officially not interested in moving any games to Sundays ... BYU is reportedly in high demand as an opponent thanks to their independence-created flexibility, but we're waiting to actually see a couple of scheduling announcements before giving them too much credit ... Purdue will be joining the throng of teams with new Nike duds to debut this season, but we don't have any images to show you yet ... An Auburn auction to sell off Cam Newton's game-worn BCS championship pants has been won by the Internet ... Nine-game Big Ten schedules are still a long, long ways off ... Two professional recruitniks are sniping at each other over the rankings of Alabama players ... and though you may have seen this already, former Kentucky quarterback/SEC folk hero Jared Lorenzen has resurfaced at quarterback for an indoor football team named the Cincinnati River Monsters. You'll be happy to know the Lefty remains as Hefty as ever.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 2:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
He's not exactly Curt Flood, but all the same Russell Wilson may wind up serving as a college football landmark: the sport's first legitimate free agent. Cut loose from N.C. State, eligible to play virtually anywhere thanks to his early graduation, "95 percent" likely to take advantage of that eligiblity, and -- most importantly -- a bona fide all-conference candidate with three years of starting experience and a 76-26 career touchdown-to-interception ratio.
So Wilson represents uncharted waters for college football; while other players have been eligible to transfer without penalty, none have offered such tantalizing immediate benefits. But which school is going to be the lucky one to sail into those waters?
We don't know. No one does, Wilson included; he's still got months of baseball ahead of him. But we can say which programs would be the best fit should Wilson decide to take a look. Here's our guesses for the comfiest landing spot for Wilson in each BCS conference, judging by both which team would benefit most by Wilson's arrival and which team Wilson would benefit most by joining. Enjoy:
SEC: TENNESSEE. Yep, we're saying the Vols, despite most of the early Wilson speculation centering on South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Auburn. But multiple reporters covering the Tigers have said they won't be interested; it makes sense considering that 2012 shapes up as a much more likely championship campaign for Auburn than 2011, and Gene Chizik won't want to spoil that with a first-year starter under center. Steve Spurrier will certainly give Wilson a ring if Stephen Garcia is finally dismissed, but if Garcia sticks around, neither he nor Wilson will want the controversy his arrival would bring. And though we have little doubt Houston Nutt would welcome Wilson with open arms rather than ride with the untested Randall Mackey or Barry Brunetti, Wilson can probably find a team with higher expectations.
Enter Tennessee. Yes, the Vols have a starter already, promising sophomore Tyler Bray. But Bray's boom-or-bust results late last season and ugly 5-for-30 spring game performance suggest that he might need more seasoning before taking the reins for a full SEC season. Bringing in Wilson lets the Vols redshirt and groom Bray for three solid seasons to follow, without taking a step back at the position; going to Tennessee lets Wilson play for a high-profile team in the nation's toughest conference, one with plenty of playmakers at his disposal. It's a win-win.
BIG TEN: WISCONSIN. An easy call: the perpetually consistent Badgers have the defensive playmakers, the ball-carriers and the receivers to put together another fine Big Ten team if they can hold the line on the offensive line ... and if they can find a quarterback. The results at the Badgers' spring game suggest they don't have the latter yet. The stodgy Badger attack won't make much use of Wilson's mobility, but no other team in the conference offers Wilson the chance to waltz in as the unquestioned starter for a top-25 program.
BIG 12: MISSOURI. After years of Chase Daniel and then Blaine Gabbert spearheading the Tigers' aerial attack, Gary Pinkel has to feel a little spoiled when it comes to quarterbacks. But that may be changing, as Mizzou comes out of spring without a clearcut starter and with neither candidate (Tyler Gabbert, younger brother of Blaine, or James Franklin) having looked quite in the Daniel/Gabbert class. Wilson would short-circuit any potential quarterback-platoon talk immediately upon arrival and give the Tigers one of the best trigger-men their spread could ask for. Wilson, meanwhile, would have the benefit of having the ball in his hands 40 to 50 times a game, for a team whose underrated defense should make them top-25 contenders.
PAC-12: UCLA. Let's face it: the 3-9 Bruins maybe don't have a heck of a lot to offer in terms of football glory. But after their seemingly endless quarterback carousel of the past few seasons, no program would be more appreciative -- no coach more thankful -- than UCLA and Rick Neuheisel. If Wilson can salvage a winning season out of 2011 and potentially turn around the flagging tenure of Neuheisel, the gratitude aimed his way from the Westwood faithful would likely dwarf anything he'd receive anywhere else. (Besides, most of the other Pac-12 contenders -- Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, Cal, even ineligible pseudo-contender USC -- have fairly established quarterbacks.)
ACC: FLORIDA STATE NO ONE
[This section originally discussed the "far-fetched" possibility that Wilson could transfer to the Wolfpack's intra-division rivals in Tallahassee, but it's more than far-fetched; it's impossible, since Wilson's release -- originally, erroneously reported as "unconditional" -- specifies that he may not transfer to an ACC school or any school on NCSU's schedule. In retrospect, this is a common sense precaution. Apologies.]
BIG EAST: WEST VIRGINIA. We're kidding, mostly; Geno Smith enjoyed an excellent spring game and will be the Mountaineers' 2011 starter. And given Wilson's unwillingness to give up on a "football dream" that likely includes the NFL, he would likely pass on Dana Holgorsen's Mike Leach- inspired "Air Raid" offense anyway, which has struggled putting its passers in the pros. But an offense like Holgorsen's, as helmed by a talent like Wilson? We can dream of those kinds of pinball games, can't we?
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Barry Brunetti, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Cal, Chase Daneil, Christian Ponder, Curt Flood, Dana Holgorsen, E.J. Manuel, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Gene Chizik, Geno Smith, Houston Nutt, James Franklin, James Franklin the Missouri quarterback not the Vanderbilt coach just so we're clear, Jimbo Fisher, Mike Leach, Missouri, N.C. State, Ole Miss, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Randall Mackey, Rick Neuheisel, Russell Wilson, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tyler Bray, Tyler Gabbert, UCLA, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: April 14, 2011 2:21 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Just one year ago, Ole Miss sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanley had springboarded from a relief appearance in the Cotton Bowl into the Rebels' starting signal-calling job. With potentially three years' worth of every-down snaps ahead of him, all surrounded by Houston Nutt's usual array of skill position talent, Stanley's future in Oxford couldn't have looked much brighter.
Fast forward a year, and Stanley won't even finish spring camp on the Rebels' roster, having told Nutt he intends to transfer after slipping all the way to (per the Clarion-Ledger) No. 4 on the Ole Miss depth chart. Nutt's public statement:
“After meeting tonight, Nathan has decided to leave the program. We wish him the best and are going to help him find a new school. I appreciate all he has done for Ole Miss and the type of student-athlete he has been.”How did Stanley go from heir apparent to afterthought so quickly? It started with the ballyohooed arrival last summer of Jeremiah Masoli --a move on the Rebel staff's part few could argue with given Masoli's talent, but no doubt one that also told Stanley the staff wasn't entirely comfortable with him as the unquestioned starter. Sure enough, Stanley received only one start -- the season-opening disaster against Jacksonville State which Masoli finished -- before watching the final 11 games from the sidelines. The Rebels then welcomed two more transfers (JUCO Zack Stoudt and West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti) this spring and watched 2010 JUCO redshirt Randall Mackey take spring camp by storm.
Though Stanley publicly welcomed Masoli and the benefits of last fall's competition, at this stage it's worth wondering if his confidence (or motivation under the staff who'd worked to replace him) ever recovered; by all accounts Stanley made no impact whatsoever this spring and had seen his repetitions reduced significantly over the course of the past few weeks. A transfer at this stage was all but inevitable, and seems from this perspective like the best thing for Stanley.
As for Ole Miss, the program and Stanley going their separate ways is probably best on the Rebels' end too. But Brunetti will need an NCAA waiver to avoid sitting out his transfer year this coming season; if that waiver is denied, Mackey and Stoudt become the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
Without Brunetti, it's dangerous living for Nutt. But of course, that's also the only way Nutt knows how to live.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Ole Miss , which starts spring practice today.
Spring Practice Question: Can the Ole Miss defense be rebuilt?
As the local Clarion-Ledger pointed out today , the headline story regarding Houston Nutt's fourth spring camp at the Rebel helm will undoubtedly be the quarterback derby. Following Jeremiah Masoli's single-season cameo, four different quarterbacks are battling it out under new Rebel offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Lee: pocket passers Nathan Stanley (Masoli's backup in 2010 and the narrow favorite) and JUCO transfer Zack Stoudt, and dual-threat QBs Randall Mackey and Barry Brunetti. (Brunetti, a transfer from West Virginia, will need a hardship waiver from the NCAA in order to avoid sitting out his transfer year this fall.) Lee swears any of the four could be named the Rebel starter this fall, and given how little experience any of the four enters the competition with, he's likely not exaggerating.
But as intriguing as the quarterback battle promises to be, what's most important for the Rebels' chances this fall is what will happen on the other side of the ball. While the occasionally-rocky transition to Masoli drew plenty of attention, in the end the Rebels finished a respectable 43rd in total offense. But despite the presence of eight senior starters to begin the season, Ole Miss finished a disastrous 105th in the country in yards per-play allowed, worst in the SEC. It's fair to say the Rebels weren't paying defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix one of the nation's highest assistant salaries to watch the team lose games in which they scored 24, 31, 36 or -- in the case of their infamous season-opening embarrassment against FCS Jacksonville State -- 48 points.
Nix has survived to try and clean up his own mess, but it's not clear if he has the tools with which to do it. As you might expect from that "eight senior starters" detail, the Rebels' defensive losses are major; gone are All-SEC tackle Jerrell Powe, explosive defensive end Kentrell Lockett, leading tackler and tackler-for-loss linebacker Jonathan Cornell, a pair of senior safeties, assorted other contributors at tackle, corner, and linebacker ... Nix won't be starting from scratch, but scratch and the point he'll start from won't be more than a stone's throw apart.
There is good news for the Ole Miss defense, though, and it's two-fold:
1. Obviously, all of those seniors didn't do a whole lot for the Rebels in 2010. While there's no good way to spin the losses of players like Powe and Cornell, as a unit Ole Miss really can't get a whole lot worse than they were last season. In many cases, the new blood may prove to be a better option than the old blood was anyway.
2. Thanks to some impressive recruiting hauls (particularly by Ole Miss standards) by Nutt and his staff, the talent cupboard is far from bare. Nix won't have a lot in the way of experience to work with, but the raw material with which a good defense could be constructed should be there.
That's especially true in the front seven, where Nix will call on junior linebacker D.T. Shackelford to spearhead the rush defense after Shackelford recorded 9 tackles-for-loss a year ago and continued to flash the kind of big-hitting potential that made him one of Nutt's most prized recruits in the class of 2009. Junior weakside linebacker Joel Kight should also be ready for a big season after winning a starting job in last year's fall camp, making the LBs a strength. If Nix can find any tackles following the loss of the entire rotation from a year ago -- expect 310-pound JUCO arrival Gilbert Pena to get a long look -- the line shouldn't be too shabby, either, given the presence of high-ceiling ends like senior Wayne Dorsey, junior Gerald Rivers and sophomore Cameron Whigham. (If Lockett receives a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, things will look even better this fall.)
The biggest question mark is in the secondary, which a year ago was roasted to the tune of 8.4 yards per passing attempt and a 6-to-24 interception-to-touchdown ratio, both easily the worst marks in the SEC. Up to nine players will compete for the four starting spots (though returning starting corner Marcus Temple is out with a sports hernia), but are any of them SEC caliber? Nix will have to hope so, with the most likely candidates senior safety Damien Jackson and sophomore safety Brishen Matthews.
No one would argue the quarterback battle isn't critical. But with what should be one of the SEC's best offensive lines (one with all five starters returning), rugged running back Branden Bolden, several big-play receivers, and Nutt and Lee's combined offensive acumen, the Rebels should have a functional attack no matter who winds up taking snaps.
The same simply can't be said of the Rebel defense--meaning that even if the QB competition grabs the headlines, it's a sure bet it's the battles on the other side of the ball that will have a huge, huge share of the coaches' attention. If Nix can't find the players this spring that will push his unit forward this fall, the Rebels are going to almost certainly spend a second season in the cellar of the SEC West.
Tags: Barry Brunetti, Branden Bolden, Brishen Matthews, Cameron Whigham, D.T. Shackelford, David Lee, Gerald Rivers, Gilbert Pena, Houston Nutt, Jacksonville State, Jerrell Powe, Joel Kight, Jonathan Cornell, Kentrell Lockett, Marcus Temple, Nathan Stanley, Ole Miss, Randall Mackey, Randall Mackey, SEC, spring practice, Spring Practice Primer, Tyrone Nix, Wayne Dorsey, West Virginia, Zack Stoudt