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Tag:Nick Fairley
Posted on: April 19, 2011 12:49 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Mark Ingram wins EA NCAA Football 12 cover vote

Posted by Adam Jacobi

For college football enthusiasts, there's no more anticipated video game than EA's NCAA Football series, released during the interminable off-season and resurrecting fans' anticipation for the upcoming season. The changes in gameplay have become more incremental over the years, but what people are most interested in are the ever-expanding dynasty mode and EA's updated rosters and ratings.

Oh, and then there's the prestigious honor of the annual cover athlete.

Unlike EA NCAA Football's pro counterpart in the Madden series -- made famous for its "Madden Curse," which routinely afflicts its subjects with terrible, injury-addled seasons -- the NCAA Football cover is usually a harbinger of upcoming pro success. Sure, it started off slowly with Tommie Frazier and Danny Wuerffel, and EA would probably like to take those Joey Harrington and Chris Weinke covers back, but it has also honored such luminaries as Shaun Alexander, Ricky Williams, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, and Tim Tebow, among others. Not bad company, really.

This year, EA Sports put the NCAA Football 12 cover role up to a vote between four athletes: Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray, Alabama RB Mark Ingram, and Washington QB Jake Locker. Unsurprisingly, the voters chose the only athlete of the four who won a Heisman trophy: Ingram.

Astute observers probably noticed a conspicuously absent name from that list: Auburn QB Cam Newton. Newton, of course, won the 2010 Heisman Trophy and won the BCS Championship with Fairley this past January. EA Sports didn't divulge why Newton wasn't among the four finalists for the cover -- a lack of popularity doesn't exactly seem plausible, as he'd probably have beaten Ingram for the top spot -- but endorsements are always tricky business, to say nothing of the as-yet unresolved situation with Newton's recruitment and the NCAA's investigation thereof. Suffice it to say the arrangement didn't work for at least one of the two sides, so it'll be Ingram and that's that.

Of course, nothing about the cover athlete affects anything about the game itself past the opening screen; remember, these guys are all off to the NFL, so they're not actually in the game. But college football, more than any other sport on any level, prides itself on its awards and honors, and the EA cover is no exception.

Thoughts on the cover? Great? Terrible? The right call?

Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Auburn

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 Auburn , which started spring practice on Wednesday.

Spring Practice Question: Does Auburn have the playmakers to stay in contention?

In 2010, no team in America deserved the "big-play team" label more than Auburn. It's an easy argument, offensively speaking; the Tigers finished No. 1 among all BCS teams in yards per-play, first overall in yards per-pass attempt, and second overall per-rushing attempt. Cam Newton alone accounted for 46 plays of 20 yards or greater, or an average of more than three such players per game.

But it wasn't just the offense. The Tiger defense hemorrhaged yards and points at a rate far, far greater than any previous BCS championship-winning team, finishing a mediocre 60th in the FBS in total defense and 53rd in scoring defense. But led by Nick Fairley's constant presence in opposing backfields, the Tigers made up for it with an SEC- leading (and sixth nationally ) 99 tackles-for-loss. Combine that with a penchant for timely turnovers -- like Antoine Carter's famous strip-from-behind of Mark Ingram to keep Auburn alive during their first-half struggles against Alabama -- and the Auburn defense kept its head just enough above water (BCS title game excepted) for the offense to power its way to a crystal football.

Entering 2011, it's likely Auburn will need more of the same. The offense won't be built to grind out four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust drives, not with Newton's third-down magic gone and four offensive line starters representing nearly 200 career starts having departed. (Not that Gus Malzahn has ever designed his offenses to plug away Wisconsin- style, of course.) The defense may not be able to get a whole lot worse in terms of down-to-down success, but it may not get much better, either, with all three members of the late-season defensive tackle rotation graduated, six of their top seven tacklers gone, the top three safeties departed (following Mike McNeil's involvement in the recent four-player armed robbery embarrassment), two senior defensive ends, etc.

All of that means that to either move the ball or get stops, Auburn will have to stick to the same big-play formula that worked so well in 2010. But this begs the question that's going to hang over the Tigers throughout spring practice: who's going to make those big plays? No Newton, no Fairley, no Carter, no Darvin Adams, no Terrell Zachery (the underrated big-play threat at wideout who averaged better than 14 yards a reception), no Josh Bynes, no Zac Etheridge ... where are those difference-making plays going to come from?

There's an easy answer for Auburn at running back, at least, where Mike Dyer and Onterio McCalebb form what should be one of the better inside-outside running combos in the SEC, if not the country. (Though both will need to stay healthy; Auburn's third option at tailback is likely to be true freshman Tre Mason.) But everywhere else, the "Help Wanted" sign will be in the window. A few candidates that will need to prove themselves up to the job this spring:

Corey Lemonier: The only returning starter on Auburn's defensive line is redshirt sophomore end Nosa Eguae, but it's the hotly recruited sophomore defensive end from south Florida who's most likely to emerge as a pass-rushing force in the vein of former Tiger greats like Quentin Groves. In any case, it's the ends that will have to fill Fairley's disruptive shoes; with nothing but new tackles on the inside, they'll have their hands full focusing on plugging up opposing running games.

Trovon Reed: Another member of the Tigers' well-regarded 2010 recruiting haul, Reed was on track to play a sizable role last fall as both receiver and Wildcat quarterback before an injury in fall camp forced him to redshirt. Emory Blake is a nice start, but there would seem to be room in the Tiger receiving corps for a poor man's Percy Harvin- type rushing/receiving threat; if healthy, Reed needs to show he can fill that role.

Neiko Thorpe: One of the few bright spots in Auburn's disastrous 5-7 2008 campaign, Thorpe was expected by many on the Plains to develop into a lockdown, All-SEC corner after a freshman season that saw him hold down a starting job from Day 1 and make freshman all-conference. It hasn't happened, as Thorpe has spent much of the past two seasons getting beaten deep and watching other players (Walt McFadden, Demond Washington) emerge as Auburn's best one-on-one cover guys. Now Ted Roof has moved Thorpe to safety, both to take advantage of Thorpe's size (6'2", 185) and provide cover at one of Auburn's thinnest positions. If the position switch doesn't generate some big plays out of the Auburn secondary, it's not easy to see what will.

Spring Practice Primers
Then, of course, there's Barrett Trotter, the likely heir to Newton's throne after serving as the Heisman winner's backup last season. Though Trotter still has to fend off challenges from Clint Moseley this spring and highly-regarded incoming freshman Kiehl Frazier this fall,his mobility and knowledge of the offense should see him safely through to the starter's job ... if he can make the downfield throws that have been Malzahn's stock-in-trade since the day he moved to the college ranks.

Thanks to three years of savvy recruiting by Chizik and Co., there's no shortage of candidates for the playmaking roles Auburn so desperately needs. But it's one thing to put those candidates on a roster; it's another to see them perform on the practice field, the spring game, under the lights. If players like those above aren't putting their best foot forward this spring, it's hard to see how Auburn doesn't fall out of contention in their follow-up season in the most cutthroat division in college football.


Posted on: March 8, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Oklahoma fans set eyes on Mark Ingram

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Yesterday on the blog, I wrote about a couple of attack ads that the guys at Land Thieves - an Oklahoma Sooners website - had created for Auburn's Nick Fairley and Washington's Jake Locker. You see, there's an ongoing campaign being run by EA Sports to help determine the cover athlete on this year's version of their NCAA Football game. The finalists are Fairley, Locker, Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray and Alabama's Mark Ingram. You can vote for your choice here.

I noted in the post that the site had failed to put together an ad about Mark Ingram, and that they might have a hard time doing so. Well, they didn't have nearly as hard a time as I thought, as they sent in their Ingram ad on Tuesday.



Mark Ingram fumbled once!

Honestly, and I'm not trying to sway your votes here, but if I were to vote mine would go to Ingram. Attack ad be damned. Ingram just has the better career resume than any of the other three candidates. Jake Locker spent most of his time on bad Washington teams, Nick Fairley won a national title and anchored Auburn's defense, but how many of you had heard of him before last season? As for DeMarco Murray, he had a solid career at Oklahoma, but he wasn't even the best running back during that time period.

He certainly wasn't better than Mark Ingram, who not only won a national title with Alabama, but has one of those Heisman Trophy things. You need to be halfway decent to pick up one of those.
Posted on: March 7, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 7:05 pm
 

POLL: Who's the most deserving CFB HOF candidate?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

This year's Hall of Fame ballot is out, and like always, it's huge; there are 79 players and nine coaches up for voting, and only a small fraction of those 88 men will be voted in this year. The first-balloters include Tommie Frazier and Derrick Thomas, and both have strong credentials for immediate induction.

And yet, upon even a cursory glance at the list of candidates (PDF), it's readily apparent that there are a lot of guys on this list who not only deserve to be voted in, but probably deserved (and did not receive) first-ballot induction themselves. We found six very worthy players, and we'd like you all to vote on which one is most deserving of joining the greats. And yes, it's worth noting that this is a college football-only Hall of Fame, and there are some guys with long, fantastic NFL careers ... but they were all amazing in college football too! Choose wisely at our Facebook page, and if you need a refresher on any of the six men involved, a quick recap is below.

Brian Bosworth (LB, Oklahoma, '84-'86): Bosworth was the face of college football in the mid-'80s -- a brash, loud, cocky self-promoter who played like a laser-guided tornado. Oklahoma gave up fewer than 10 points per game during the three years Bosworth played in Norman, including an absurd 6.75 ppg in 1986 and a comparatively pedestrian 8.6 ppg in the Sooners' national championship 1985 season. His NFL career quickly flamed out with the Seahawks, as did a fledgling acting career, but for three magical years at OU, Bosworth was on top of the world.

Eric Dickerson (RB, Southern Methodist, '79-'82): 30 years ago, the "Pony Express" was the hottest show in a conference full of them: the SWC. Backfield mates Dickerson and Craig James lit up opposing defenses in their junior and senior seasons, but Dickerson was clearly the better rusher of the two. He would finish with over 1,400 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns his junior year, and he topped 1,600 yards and finished third in Heisman voting as a senior in 1982. Again, all this while splitting carries. Of course, SMU was fraught with illegal behavior that would eventually bring a death sentence down on the program, but the accomplishments of Dickerson and his teammates stay undisturbed in the record books, as they ought to be.

Eddie George (RB, Ohio State, '92-'95): It would be a shame if Eddie George were being punished for relatively light workloads during his first two seasons (including a nightmarish two-fumble 18-16 loss to Illinois as a freshman), because by his senior year, George was one of the most unstoppable tailbacks in the post-Barry Sanders era of college football. George beat out the aforementioned Tommie Frazier for the 1995 Heisman Trophy after a 1,927-yard, 24-touchdown senior season in which George topped 100 rushing yards in every contest.

Russell Maryland (DT, Miami, '86-'90): If something about Nick Fairley's 2010 season with Auburn seemed a bit familiar, it's probably thanks to Russell Maryland's career with the 'Canes; like Fairley, Maryland was a 6'1" DT with freakish disruption and pursuit skills. They've also both got rings as anchors of their respective defensive lines: Fairley last year, and Maryland in '89 (he also won a championship as a reserve in '87). As for Maryland's senior year, he racked up 96 tackles and 10.5 sacks en route to the Outland Trophy and the top spot in the NFL draft.

Jonathan Ogden (OT, UCLA, '92-'95): Ogden was one of the best NFL tackles of his generation, but he was also utterly outstanding at UCLA too, picking up the Outland Award and unanimous first-team All-American decorations his senior year. He gave up just two sacks in his last two years with the Bruins, and more importantly set a new standard for franchise left tackles. Ogden played at a legitimate 6'8", and anywhere from 310 to 365 pounds (though really in the reverse order; he showed up to campus over 350 pounds, but was down to a svelte 318 by the time the NFL combine rolled around). With that unbelievable size came even more freakish athleticism, as Ogden had faster feet than players 50 pounds lighter than him. Think of the high-profile left tackles that have come out of college football since Ogden was drafted: aside from maybe Orlando Pace, the common quality of such players as Robert Gallery, Jake Long, or Joe Thomas is that they may have been good, but they're no Jonathan Ogden.

Deion Sanders (CB, FSU, 1985-1988): If Bosworth owned the mid-'80s in college football, Neon Deion was the immediate successor to the Boz's throne, electrifying college football with his other-worldly speed, coverage, and kick return ability. Everything Sanders did was larger than life: his play on the field, his cocky personality, his short-lived rap career, everything (except the tackling, of course). At the end of the day, though, it's hard to argue with his results: two-time consensus first-team All-American and third-team All-American as a senior at cornerback, the FSU career punt return yardage record, and a retired jersey number (at a powerhouse program, no less) seven years later. 

So who's it going to be? VOTE NOW at our Facebook page!

Posted on: March 7, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Oklahoma fans fight for NCAA 12 cover

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The college football season doesn't begin until September, but for millions of college football fans across the country, the season technically begins in July. That's when EA Sports releases the newest version of its NCAA Football video game every year. Well, this year EA Sports is running an election of sorts. An election being held to see who the cover athlete will be on this year's game.

The finalists are Alabama's Mark Ingram, Auburn's Nick Fairley, Washington's Jake Locker and Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray. You can vote here if you want to feel like a part of the democratic method. Of course, you should probably do some research before you chose whom to vote for, as this is an important election after all.

And no election would be complete without some attack ads. Luckily for us, some Oklahoma fans came through with a couple of ads campaigning for Murray and against Locker and Fairley.





Of course, you'll notice there is no attack ad against Mark Ingram. Mistake or intentional? I'd lean intentional as a shrewd political move. Seriously, what are they going to do?  Compare Ingam and Murray's history? All Mark Ingram has done the last few years is win a Heisman Trophy and a national championship. DeMarco Murray has done neither.

So the Murray campaigners best shot is to just pretend Mark Ingram doesn't even exist.

UPDATE: The guys at Land Thieves, who produced the videos, have contacted me to let me know that a Mark Ingram ad is currently in production. It's going to be hard to make him look bad, so I wish them luck.
Posted on: February 22, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Heisman talk should talk about defense

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Pop quiz, hotshot: who had the higher (public )* vote total in the 2010 Heisman Trophy balloting, Stanford fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic or DaQuan Bowers, Nick Fairley and Patrick Peterson ... combined?

Since we're asking the question in the first place, you can probably guess that the answer is Marecic, who collected three first-place votes and 16 points, while arguably the three best defenders in the country totaled just one confirmed second-place nod and a smattering of third-place votes. This post isn't about Marecic (though we would like to take a moment to condemn his attention-seeking supporters like David Whitley , who decided that thanks to Cam Newton, they were justified turning the voting for "most outstanding" into a holier-than-thou morality play), since the question that needs answering isn't Why did Marecic get so much support? but Why do even the best defenders in college football get so little Heisman love?

It appeared things might be changing in 2009, when Ndamukong Suh finished fourth , coming as close as any defensive player since Charles Woodson to claiming the award. But after a year in which even a Lombardi Award- winner playing for the national champions couldn't get more than a few token mentions, it appears that defenders aren't actually any closer to full Heisman citizenship.

That point was driven home by the 2011 Heisman watch list released today by popular Heisman-tracking site Heisman Pundit. No one will argue that superstars like Andrew Luck or LaMichael James don't deserve their status as front-runners, or that superb skill-position talents like Alabama tailback Trent Richardson and Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon haven't earned their spots on the list. But of the 22 players mentioned by Heisman Pundit, every one is a running back, quarterback, or wide receiver. Given the Heisman's track record, yes, those are probably the 22 most likely candidates for the coming season, but shouldn't the conversation surrounding the game's "most outstanding" player at least consider those guys on the other side of the ball?

So in that spirit, we offer five defensive players that deserve to enter 2011 as part of the Heisman talk, our own defense-only "Watch List":

Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska: The senior ably filled Suh's shoes as the central anchor for one of the nation's best defenses in 2010, and will likely begin this fall bearing "the country's best defensive tackle" billing.

Mark Barron, S, Alabama: Barron's already been dotting All-American teams for two seasons, and as the highest-profile player on a loaded Tide defense that should keep Nick Saban and Co. in national title contention throughout the season, he'll have plenty of opportunity to put his name in the Heisman hat.

Tank Carder, LB, TCU: Like Barron, Carder (pictured) should benefit from being the best, most-recognized player on a defense itself widely recognized as one of the nation's best; his MVP performance in the Rose Bowl defeat of Wisconsin won't hurt him, either.

Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon: The only defender to ever win the Heisman did so not only blanketing receivers at corner, but returning punts and kickoffs for highlight reel-touchdowns; if Harris can continue doing the same for Oregon as the Ducks win a third straight Pac-12 title, he'll draw his fair share of attention.

Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: A wildcard, but if the Fighting Irish (and specifically, the Fighting Irish defense) take the quantum leap forward many expect, the former five-star recruit and budding star could find himself the media-friendly face of the Irish's latest "Return to Glory."

Honorable mention: Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State; Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma; Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall; Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College.

*The Heisman only makes official the ballot totals for the top 10 vote-getters, but the site StiffArmTrophy.com compiles all available public votes, including (in this case) those few cast for Peterson, Bowers, or Fairley.
Posted on: February 16, 2011 4:15 pm
 

Auburn DL coach Tracy Rocker jumps to NFL

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The problem with trying to create a dynasty in college football is the sheer impermanence of it all. Not only are the players gone after four (or sometimes fewer) seasons of eligibility, but college football isn't the highest level of the sport; that, of course, is the NFL, and the NFL is a much more attractive destination for coaches than the NCAA.

To that end, Auburn had been surprisingly lucky to keep its entire staff intact* after winning the national championship this season. Oh, you see that asterisk? That usually means bad news, and it does here, as Auburn DL coach Tracy Rocker has accepted an offer to coach defensive line with the Tennessee Titans.

Now, the loss of DT Nick Fairley is probably more consequential to the defensive line in the short term than is the loss of Rocker; Fairley was dominant all season long in 2010, especially in the National Championship against Oregon, and he has well earned his inevitable Top 3 Pick status in the upcoming NFL Draft. At the same time, Fairley is especially cognizant of how much Rocker meant to his success, and for good reason; Fairley wasn't even on the radar for top defensive tackles coming into the season, to the point that prognosticator nonpareil Phil Steele didn't have Fairley in his top four preseason All-SEC teams.

The good news for Auburn is that unlike 2009, when Gene Chizik first came abord fresh off a 5-19 stint at Iowa State, the school is now a bona fide destination again, rather than a mere stepping stone. Chizik should probably be able to pluck a fine coach from any number of schools. Perhaps from Indiana? That seems to be en vogue these days, anyway.

 

*Up until now, anyway.

Posted on: February 7, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: February 7, 2011 11:04 am
 

Report: Clowney closing in on Gamecocks, Tigers

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the college football world continues to drool over the highlights of Jadeveon Clowney, three schools continue to sit on the egde of their seat with a scholarship extended.  South Carolina, Clemson, and Alabama all await with a scholarship extended for the highly-touted defensive end to announce his collegiate plans on February 14, his birthday.  Everyone has speculated where Clowney will end up, but his high school coach told local media this weekend that he believes things are looking bleek for Alabama, and very good for the in-state Gamecocks.

South Pointe High School head coach Bobby Carroll told the Charleston Post and Courier on Saturday night that Alabama is not as strong with Clowney, citing distance as a determining factor.  He also believes that his recruitment is South Carolina's to lose at this point.

"That's what my gut feeling is," Carroll said regarding the Gamecocks' chances. "He's not saying a whole lot. I think he pretty much knows where he wants to go, though."

If Alabama is fading out of the picture, it is good news not only for the Gamecocks but also for Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers.  Clemson made a huge splash on National Signing Day, pulling a couple of last minute prospects to finish off one of the best classes in the program's recent history.  If distance is a determining factor for the Rock Hill native, Clemson is still very much in the picture.

Dennis Dodd believes that Clowney belongs in the SEC, to follow in the footsteps of Glenn Dorsey, Terrence Cody, Nick Fairley, and the endless list of playmaking defensive lineman from the conference.  The Post and Courier also reports a source close to the situation who said that Clowney may know where he is going, but "wants it to be a shock."

Amongst all the speculation is the reminder that this is a decision being made (or so we believe) by a high school senior.  A radically unpredictable specimen, the high school senior is capable of changing ideals, beliefs, and decisions in real-time.  Regardless of any source or tips, the fact remains that we will need to see that LOI before any team is comfortable celebrating Clowney's arrival.

Click here for the latest updates on Jadeveon Clowney's recruitment
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com