Posted on: November 16, 2010 5:01 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Linemen, defenders, running backs, and quarterbacks have all had their day in the "award announces smaller list of potential winners from larger list" sun, so now it's time for the guys that catch the ball. First, the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award , given to the nation's outstanding wide receiver:
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Randall Cobb, Kentucky
Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M
A.J. Green, Georgia
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
Julio Jones, Alabama
Aldrick Robinson, SMU
Greg Salas, Hawaii
Jordan White, Western Michigan
And the eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award , due the nation's top tight end:
George Bryan (Jr., North Carolina State)
Michael Egnew (Jr., Missouri)
Ladarius Green (Jr., Louisiana)
Daniel Hardy (Sr., Idaho)
Lance Kendricks (Sr., Wisconsin)
Allen Reisner (Sr., Iowa)
Luke Stocker (Sr., Tennessee)
D.J. Williams (Sr., Arkansas)
What's interesting about contrasting the two lists in how many names pop off the firts list and don't pop off the second one. Of course, of course, the first is wide receivers and the second is tight ends. But whereas Green, Jefferey, and Jones are all universally considered first-round talents and players like Blackmon, Broyles, Salas, and White are all putting together flatly ridiculous statistical seasons (oh, and Cobb is only leading the nation in all-purpose yardage, and incredible talents like Michael Floyd and Jeff Maehl didn't make it), the tight ends are ... well, they're around. The No. 1 TE in receiving yardage is Egnew, followed by Green, and neither is exactly a household name. The early draft projections don't feature any of the tight ends listed above ... or any at all.
It's probably a one-year fluke. But as with the lack of workhorse running backs among the nation's top offensive skill players , it also speaks to how dominant the spread offense has become in college football. There just aren't as many traditional tight ends playing college football ... and it appears to be having an impact on the quality of the position overall.
Tags: A.J. Green, Alabama, Aldrick Robinson, Allen Reisner, Alshon Jeffery, Arkansas, Biletnikoff Award, D.J. Williams, Daniel Hardy, George Bryan, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Jeff Fuller, Jordan White, Julio Jones, Justin Blackmon, Kentucky, Ladarius Green, Lance Kendricks, Louisiana, Luke Stocker, Mackey Award, Michael Egnew, Missouri, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Randall Cobb, Ryan Broyles, SMU. Greg Salas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 27, 2010 1:44 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you missed Georgia defeating Kentucky 44-31 last Saturday night, you missed a dominating special teams performance by the visiting Bulldogs. Brandon Boykin broke loose for a 100-yard kick return touchdown, a surprise Wildcat onsides kick was recovered by Georgia, and dangerous Kentucky punt returner Randall Cobb was held without a return yard on three Georgia punts.
The performance was all the more impressive considering that behind Cobb and players like excellent punter Ryan Tydlacka , Kentucky ranked -- and still ranks -- No. 1 in statistical guru Phil Steel 's cumulative special teams ratings . And after Saturday, the Bulldogs themselves have movd all the way up to sixth.
What's the secret of Georgia's success? According to interviews with players before the Kentucky game, it's as simple as the dog-bone pride stickers on the back of Georgia's helmets:
Seems a little over-simplified, right? Award helmet stickers, get better players for the special teams, have better special teams? If it was that easy, wouldn't every program in the country would be awarding pride stickers?
Maybe. But maybe not. According to a (100 percent accurate and comprehensive) list of sticker-employing programs on Wikipedia , 24 teams offer pride stickers for good play, or exactly 20 percent of the FBS. Of those 24, however, eight rank in Steele's special teams top 25, or 32 percent. If we take Steele's ratings at face value, it's true: teams with helmet stickers represent a greater share of teams excelling on special teams than we would expect from a random, equal distribution.
Admittedly, the correlation isn't that strong; it's likely the phenomenon examined here is simply coincidence. But unless keeping the team's helmet unspoiled is a top priority, isn't it evidence enough (along with Georgia's testimony) for programs to at least consider offering pride stickers? If one minor uniform tweak might be all it takes to get one minor upgrade at one special teams position, couldn't the benefit over the course of the season be worth the attempt?
HT: GTP .
Posted on: October 22, 2010 3:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's easy to pick out this weekend's biggest games: LSU and Auburn , Iowa and Wisconsin , Oklahoma and Missouri . But every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's four of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern):
Penn State (3-3, 0-2) at Minnesota (1-6, 0-3), 12 p.m. This one won't feature a ton of points (the Gophers and Nittany Lions rank 76th and 108th in scoring offense, respectively), and obviously it's not going to have much impact on the Big Ten race, either. But this is the game that could legitimately be the beginning of the end of the Joe Paterno era; the Lions might be able to stomach one humiliating loss (last week's 20-point home shellacking at the hands of Illinois ), but a second at the hands of the reeling, coach-less Gophers -- not to mention the accompanying 0-3 conference record and dwindling hopes of bowl eligibility -- could start the succession planning in earnest. The long-term implications alone make this contest critical.
Rutgers (4-2, 1-0) at Pitt (3-3, 1-0), 12 p.m. Both the Scarlet Knights and Panthers have suffered some serious nonconference pratfalls --- Rutgers' unthinkable loss to Tulane , Pitt's home bludgeoning at the hands of Miami -- but both got off to 1-0 starts in Big East play with big wins over UConn and Syracuse , respectively. This is the Big East, after all: once you get to 2-0, it's impossible not to call you a serious contender in the conference. The key matchup will be Pitt's fast-rising Ray Graham (118 rushing yards per game) against Greg Schiano 's 15th-ranked defense.
Kansas State (5-1, 2-1) at Baylor (5-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. There's honest-to-God Big 12 implications here; if Mizzou loses to Oklahoma late Saturday, the Wildcats could forge a three-way tie atop the Big 12 North with their own date against the Tigers still to come. But the stakes are probably higher for the Bears anyway; a win would push Baylor to six wins and a postseason berth for the first time since they played the 1994 Alamo Bowl. There's surprising talent on display here, too: Wildcat back Daniel Thomas is the conference's second-leading rusher at 130 yards a game, and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin (14 TDs, 3 INT) has a Denard Robinson -esque blend of rushing speed and throwing accuracy.
Georgia (3-4, 2-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3), 7:30 p.m. The storyline for this one is simple: the winner stays in the dead thick of the muddled SEC East race. Beyond that, last November the Wildcats used a bevy of Georgia turnovers to upset the Dawgs in Athens and have generally given Mark Richt 's team fits the past few seasons. If Richt wants to permanently silence the bleating for his head that began after Georgia's 1-4 start, he can't afford a second straight defeat at the hands of a team that's been Georgia's traditional inferior. Too bad for him the Wildcats have been feisty at home thus far this season, pulling one major upset against South Carolina last week and coming within one stop of doing the same to Auburn the week before. As long as Randall Cobb is around (even if Derrick Locke isn't), expect more feistiness to come, and for this one to come down to the wire.
Posted on: October 20, 2010 2:40 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier announced today that he's starting Kenny Miles at tailback for his Gamecocks' game this weekend against Vanderbilt. Miles is quite conspicuously not Marcus Lattimore, who sprained an ankle in last week's contest with Kentucky.
Gamecocks fans have every reason to be nervous about this development; Miles led South Carolina in rushing last season with 626 yards, so he's not untested. At the same time, though, the Gamecocks' rushing offense was 91st in the nation last season; with Lattimore in the fold, they've been up at 69th and rushing for 25 more yards per game. More importantly, before the Kentucky game, South Carolina was 4-1 and on pace to significantly better its 2009 record of 7-6.
But Lattimore's absence is even more immediately problematic for the Gamecocks. When he hurt his ankle last weekend, South Carolina was leading 28-10. When Miles replaced Lattimore, South Carolina was outscored 21-0 and lost by three points. That's not to put the loss all on Miles -- he wasn't exactly tasked with guarding Randall Cobb, after all -- but Lattimore's effect on a game can't be underestimated. Until the freshman's ankle heals, South Carolina's offense will more closely resemble its 2009 iteration, and that's not a good thing.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 3:44 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Following an upset win over South Carolina on Saturday, Kentucky wideout Randall Cobb went to his Twitter account and went off on Kentucky fans for what he deemed a lack of support. Cobb said that he enjoyed hearing the crowd tell the Wildcats they sucked and that they couldn't even fill the stands with a top-ten team in town, before letting them know that basketball season was just around the corner.
Except he said it with worse grammar.
Well, now that he's had a few days to think about it -- also known as getting yelled at by his coach and talked to by the school's pr department -- Randall has seen the error of his ways and issued an apology on Tuesday afternoon.
“First off," Cobb told reporters . "I just want to start off by saying I made a mistake. I did. I messed up. I take blame for everything I said. I know I was wrong. I was wrong for the fact that I took a small percentage of our fan base and lumped them all as one and made it all whole. That’s not how our fans are. 99 percent of our fans are great fans. And they know that. They’ve been there supporting us throughout the years. I took a small chunk and made it something big, and I can’t do that. I made a mistake, I’m a man, I admit my mistake and I just want to let everybody know that I’m sorry and I hope they can forgive me.”
While saying he's sorry is a great first step, I think if Cobb really wants to win the fans back he should take them out to Red Lobster for some cheesy biscuits.
As for whether or not Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips plans on instituting a no-Twitter policy, the coach said he has no plans to do so. According to Phillips, it's fine if the players tweet, but that they have to "be smart about it."
Hat tip: CFT
Posted on: October 17, 2010 6:05 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
So far a number of schools have decided to keep players off of Twitter. Places like Boise State, Miami and North Carolina have all banned the social media site, and if you were wondering which school might be next, I have a pretty good idea.
Randall Cobb played a pretty big role in Kentucky 's win over South Carolina on Saturday night, and while he no doubt enjoyed every minute of the Wildcats' victory, he also noticed what was going on in the stands in Lexington. He then took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to air out his frustrations with Kentucky fans.
Cobb sent out one long message to Kentucky football fans in three tweets. I'll just get one large (SIC) out of the way now.
"To all the fans: Loved seein Yall come late, love hearin Yall tell us we suck during the game, love that we have to play against our own fans too! Love that we can't pack the house against the #10 team in the nation. It means that much more to me. I love my team! Brotherhood they got my back n I got they back. The rest of Yall can get ready for bball season!"
To which Kentucky fans probably replied, "We have a football team?
The three seperate tweets have since been removed, though there are screenshots of each over at College Football Talk . Oh, and Kentucky basketball season starts on November 1 against Pikeville. It's only an exhibition game, but I'll bet Rupp Arena is packed.