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Tag:Rice
Posted on: September 9, 2011 3:02 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 2

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Admittedly the menu this week is not as artery-clogging as last week's, but that's probably a good thing. After the five-day all-you-can-eat buffet that was the first week of the season, we should all eat a bit lighter this week. Of course, just because we won't be feasting on meals guaranteed to shorten our life spans, that doesn't mean there aren't some tasty entrees at our disposal.

Let's take a look at what we have to dine on this Saturday.

BREAKFAST

#8 Wisconsin vs. Oregon State - ESPN 12pm ET

It's hard to imagine two seasons starting in such opposite directions. Oregon State dropped an overtime thriller to Sacramento State, while Wisconsin breezed to victory over UNLV. If these teams play at the same level tomorrow, this could be a historic blowout. And we all like watching touchdowns by the bucket, don't we? - Adam Jacobi

#17 Michigan State vs. FAU - ESPN2 12pm ET

Howard Schnellenberger's five-game road trip to kick off his farewell season rolls into Detroit to face a Spartan team looking to rebound from a sluggish start. This was supposed to be a home game for FAU, but with the $70-million stadium in Boca Raton still under construction the contest was moved to Ford Field.  After coaching from the press box last week due to complications from hip surgery, Schnellenberger will return to the sideline and try to inspire more than 137 yards of offense for the Owls.  Michigan State fans will also want to see more cohesion out of the Spartans, who committed eight penalties and never really hit their stride against an inferior Youngstown State squad. - Chip Patterson

Auburn vs. #16 Mississippi State - SEC Network 12:21pm ET 

It won't have the divisional title implications of the Georgia-South Carolina matchup, but both the Tigers and Bulldogs will be fighting every bit as tooth-and-nail for a victory here as their Eastern counterparts will later in the day. Dan Mullen's State team wants to cement its status as a legitimate West division factor but simply can't without a win over the brutally inexperienced Tigers; Auburn, meanwhile, is in desperate danger of being branded a one-year wonder if they follow up their escape from Utah State with a loss in one of the most winnable games on their SEC slate. - Jerry Hinnen

LUNCH

#23 Penn State vs. #3 Alabama - ABC 3:30pm ET

If Penn State fans want some respect from the national media for this team, the Nittany Lions are going to have to earn it on the national stage, hosting No. 2 Alabama. The Tide is loaded again this year, but like PSU, there's some QB drama at Bama. Watch to see if McCarron or whoever else the Tide throws out there on Saturday can handle what promises to be a maniacally loud Beaver Stadium. - AJ

#13 Oregon vs. Nevada - FX 3:30pm ET

After getting embarrassed by LSU's defense in the opener, I expect Mark Helfrich to have the attack meter all the way turned up against the Wolf Pack. Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and Co. have not derailed from their 2010 form, it just seems these massive SEC defenses are the Ducks' kryptonite.  After a frustrating loss, coaches will want to take advantage of every single snap against their next opponent.  You will want to watch this game because Oregon will put the foot on the gas pedal (Cliff Harris!) and never let up for four quarters. - CP 

Air Force vs. #25 TCU - Versus 3:30pm ET

You can be sure that TCU didn't exactly enjoy having the entire country see Baylor tear its defense apart last Friday, and the unit is going to look to save some face against Air Force on Saturday afternoon. This game will also mark the beginning of the final year of Mountain West conference play for the Horned Frogs, and I'm sure they'd like to go out with quite a bang. - Tom Fornelli

Georgia vs. #12 South Carolina - ESPN 4:30pm ET

Well, this is it: the defining game of Mark Richt's Georgia tenure. Lose it, and any shred of momentum from the "Dream Team" offseason or hope of a divisional title (most likely) is gone. Win it, and the Dawgs suddenly sit in the East catbird seat with the SEC's easiest schedule on tap. It's either the miserable end for one of the sport's most visible coaches, or the giddy start to a stunning reclamation project, with no in-between ... and Stephen Garcia's involved, too. A must-watch. - JH

DINNER

#24 Texas vs. BYU - ESPN2 7pm ET

The Big 12 of the future! Does BYU win the game in hopes of gaining a Big 12 invite, or does it show its true Big 12 street cred by allowing Texas to walk all over it? Tune in to find out! Seriously, though, this will be a much better indication of how improved Texas is this year than last week's game against Rice. BYU is fresh off a nice road win against Ole Miss and should provide a much tougher test for the Longhorns. - TF

USC vs. Utah - Versus 7:30pm ET

The Pac-12 officially kicks off conference play and it should be a good one as former BCS busters Utah will try and prove they can play with the conference's most storied program from the get-go. USC's record-setting pair of quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods won't have much time to throw the ball around as the Utes have a very good front seven this year. Old friend Norm Chow also returns to the Coliseum, this time with a solid quarterback in Jordan Wynn, so it should be a fun league opener. - Bryan Fischer

Michigan vs. Notre Dame - ESPN 8pm ET

The first night game in the history of the Big House has plenty to offer everyone. How will Michigan's defense perform this week now that it might have to play an entire 60 minutes, and do so against a Notre Dame offense that features a lot more weapons than Western Michigan's did. Also, will Denard Robinson have an encore performance of his game against the Irish last year? That's the one that made him a household name last September when he accounted for 502 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns. - TF

LATE NIGHT SNACK

UCLA vs. San Jose State - 10pm ET

Rick Neuheisel cares. He might be the only one at UCLA who cares, but he really does care passionately about his alma matter. The Bruins hope to turn things around after their disappointing loss to Houston in which the defense looked like a mess. San Jose State isn't the most appealing opponent but it's the only late night game on Saturday and the Bruins should get the offense going no matter who's in the backfield. - BF
Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Baylor to the Big East?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Baylor has been one of the most vocal members of the Big 12 in recent days as the school does everything it can to keep the Big 12 together. It's a move that isn't difficult to understand because in all of the conference realignment talk, when it comes to the Big 12, Baylor is one of the few schools whom you don't hear mentioned as possibilities for other BCS conferences.

After all, in the Pac-16 scenario that keeps coming up, while Texas would want to bring Texas Tech west with them, you don't hear anything about the Longhorns being all that concerned about the Bears. As it turns out, however, Baylor may actually have a BCS contingency plan. According to a report by Yahoo's Jason King, Baylor is rather confident that if the Big 12 does dissolve, the school will find a home in the Big East.

“There haven’t been any guarantees,” a source with knowledge of the situation told King. “But [Baylor] feels strongly that that’s what would happen.” 

Which is rather interesting to hear if it's indeed true. Like I said, I understand why Baylor wants to keep the Big 12 together, but their method in trying to do so seemed like a bit much. Instead of just stating the obvious, Baylor has been using a lot of rhetoric about preserving the sanctity of college football and the integrity. It's also talked about the best interest of the fans, and worrying about the effects that realignment can have on the states of the schools involved.

Which seems a bit funny to me because I seem to remember Baylor being one of four Texas schools that left SMU, TCU, Houston and Rice behind when they left the now-defunct SWC for the Big 12 when it formed in 1996. I guess it was okay back then.

Now this report about Baylor and the Big East?

Again, I don't begrudge Baylor for finding a safety net. It's what any institution in the Big 12 should be doing right now just in case. But don't try to pretend you're worried about the sanctity of college football and preserving tradition when your actions show that just like everyone else, the thing you're really worried about is yourself.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:20 am
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Sep. 3)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. There's a reason the other conferences want the Oklahoma schools. Okay, so I knew that going into the weekend, but both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State showed why both schools began the year ranked in the top ten. Sure, the opponents weren't exactly the best college football has to offer, but the two Oklahoma offenses might be. Combined the Sooners and Cowboys outscored their opponents 108-48 and racked up 1,329 yards. That's getting it done when you have the ball.

2. Garrett Gilbert is improving. It's dangerous to rate a team or a player based on one game, but Texas fans had to be happier with the Garrett Gilbert they saw against Rice on Saturday night. In the season opener against Rice last season Gilbert completed 14 of 23 passes for 172 yards and no touchdowns. On Saturday he threw for 239 yards and a score, including a pretty little 56-yard bomb to Mike Davis with the Longhorns pressed against their own goal line. He didn't throw an inteception either, and while these might be baby steps, at least they're baby steps in the right direction.

3. Baylor is still one of the most entertaining teams in the country. Without a doubt, the biggest story of the weekend in the Big 12 so far is Baylor's 50-48 win over TCU on Friday night. Of course, while the Baylor offense showed the entire country why it's so fun to watch, the Baylor defense also showed the country why you can't turn a Baylor game off no matter what the score is. There are going to be plenty more shootouts to enjoy in Waco this season.

4. James Franklin needs some work. Missouri picked up a win against Miami (OH) to start the season, but James Franklin didn't do too much to erase the memory of Blaine Gabbert. Franklin averaged only 5.0 yards per attempt passing on Saturday as the Tigers offense struggled to get points. Most of the yards Franklin did complete came on screens, and even though the Mizzou defense still looks stout, Franklin is going to have to improve his downfield passing if the Tigers want to compete with the top-tier teams in the Big 12.

5. Kansas may not be the worst team in the conference. Remember last season when the Jayhawks started their season with an embarrassing 6-3 loss against North Dakota State? Yeah, well not this season. The Jayhawks handled McNeese State 42-24 on Saturday night while both Kansas State and Iowa State needed last-minute touchdown drives to escape their respective games against Eastern Kentucky and Northern Iowa.

6. Off-field distractions don't seem to be on-field distractions. There's a lot of talk surrounding the Big 12 these days about schools leaving and the conference ceasing to exist, but it didn't show on the field. Sure, teams like Kansas State and Iowa State struggled, but the Big 12 is 9-0 in its first nine games of the year. If Texas A&M can beat SMU on Sunday night, the conference moves to 10-0. 
Posted on: September 1, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 1



Posted by Tom Fornelli


For thousands of peaceful, happy years the world was ruled by men. But no longer. Between women and machines, men watch helplessly as our power is tragically wrested away. Surely it can't be true. A world men no longer are in complete control of? Insanity. But how best to prove it?

That, my friends, is where Man vs Woman vs Machine comes in.

I am standing up for men everywhere, yelling from the mountaintops, "You can't take our football from us!" That's right. Every week, I will compete against my girlfriend, Lynn, and a machine, my Playstation 3, as we go head to head to yet another head picking winners of 15 of the biggest college football games of the week.

I will prevail. The fate of our gender and our species depends on it. I shan't let you down.

Let the reclamation of our throne begin.

Wisconsin (-35 1/2) vs. UNLV - Thursday 8pm (All times Eastern)

Man - The excitement of a new season is going to end rather quickly when Wisconsin has this one wrapped up before the end of the second quarter. While I'm a bit leery of spreads this large, I'm also fully aware of the brand of American Football that Bret Bielema likes to play, and I don't doubt for a second that the Badgers will go for 100 points if the possibility is there. Pick: Wisconsin

Woman - "I hate a spread this big, especially when it's being set by some button man UNLV alum named Mo at Caeser's Palace." Pick: UNLV

Machine - The Machine doesn't seem to have a "Crush, Kill, Destroy" philosophy that is as strong as Bielema's. Though the machine really believes in the power of Russell Wilson, as he throws for 4 touchdowns and then runs for another to cap off the scoring in the third quarter. Wisconsin wins 35-7. Pick: UNLV

Baylor vs. TCU (-5 1/2) - Friday 8pm

Man -  This game was a lot tougher for me to call than you would normally think it would be. I'm not sure how TCU's offense will look this season without Andy Dalton around, but I do know that this will still be one of the top defenses in the country. I also know that Baylor's defense is rather porous, which should help TCU because no matter how good Robert Griffin III is, the Horned Frogs defense will make a stop when it needs to. Pick: TCU

Woman - "Home field advantage won't win the game, but it will help cover the spread." Pick: Baylor

Machine - The Machine likes the upset! Apparently there is no defense that Robert Griffin cannot solve, as he throws for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead Baylor to a 34-30 victory. Pick: Baylor

Ohio State (-33 1/2) vs Akron - Saturday 12pm

Man - What should we expect from an Ohio State team this season that doesn't have Terrelle Pryor or Jim Tressel? I don't know yet, and odds are this game won't give us much of a clue either. Ohio State should still win rather easily, but with two quarterbacks and the team's top running back and wide receiver sitting this one out, I don't think the offense will be running too smoothly. Pick: Akron

Woman - "Little known fact: A pair of Goodyear rubber zipper boots inspired Akron's nickname "The Zips."  Coincidentally, the same chance it has of beating the spread." Pick: Ohio State

Machine - Suspensions? What suspension? The Machine has Ohio State winning this one 49-14, and that was with Joe Bauserman taking all the snaps. Pick: Ohio State

Alabama (-36 1/2) vs. Kent State - Saturday 12:20pm

Man - Is Alabama replacing a lot of star power on offense this season? Yes. Is Kent State still Kent State? Yes. Trent Richardson may rack up close to 200 yards in the first half and then sit out the second half, and though I'm somewhat scared that the Tide will call off the dogs a bit late in the game, I still like them to cover this spread. Pick: Alabama

Woman - "Hey, Kent State, do you really want to take the chance? I didn't think so." Pick: Alabama

Machine - Well, Kent State, at least you're going to get some points out of it. The Tide rolls 56-3. Pick: Alabama

Notre Dame (-10.5) vs. South Florida - Saturday 3:30pm

Man - It's a new year and the expectations for Notre Dame are high, so there's nothing new to report. Which is why I'm incredibly leery of Notre Dame being a double-digit favorite because this is a team that hasn't lived up to those expectations for a while, and I'm not going to buy in until the Irish show it on the field. I think Notre Dame starts its season 1-0, but it's going to be close. Pick: South Florida

Woman - "If Skip Holtz has any unresolved daddy issues, now's the time for payback." Pick: South Florida

Machine - Much like the Woman and I, The Machine isn't buying the Notre Dame hype either, and Brian Kelly is going to start feeling some pressure after the Irish lose 23-10 to the Bulls. Pick: South Florida

Florida State (-29 1/2) vs. Louisiana-Monroe - Saturday 3:30pm

Man - I'm not entirely sold on Florida State being ranked as high as it is to start the season, but I don't foresee the Seminoles having any trouble with Louisiana-Monroe this weekend. There's a chance the 'Noles will get caught looking ahead to their date against Oklahoma, but it's a small one. Pick: Florida State

Woman - "F-L-O-R-I-D-A-S-T-A-T-E cupCAKE cupCAKE cupCAKE" Pick: Florida State

Machine - It's a clean sweep as The Machine believes Chief Osceola will send his spear right through the heart of the Warhawks, 42-6. Pick: Florida State

Ole Miss vs. BYU (-3) - Saturday 4:45pm

Man - I know Ole Miss started its 2010 season with a loss at home against Jacksonville State, but to be an underdog at home against a BYU team that wasn't exactly a world beater itself in 2010? Why I'll gladly take the points and put my faith in the Reverend Houston Nutt. Pick: Ole Miss

Woman - "Is it just me or does "Ole Miss" sound like somebody's pet dairy cow or an arthritic spinster? Whatever, Spinster squeaks by at home. (And serves up a delicious applesauce crumb cake.)" Pick: Ole Miss

Machine - The Machine is not religious, but even it succumbs to the powerful words of the Reverend Nutt. There will be no Jacksonville State repeat, Ole Miss wins 44-20. Pick: Ole Miss

Florida (-34 1/2) vs. Florida Atlantic - Saturday 7pm

Man - While I have no doubt that Will Muschamp will have the Florida defense looking as strong as ever before the year is done, I have plenty of doubts about John Brantley and the Gators offense. Because of these doubts I have a hard time believing the Gators will blow Howard Schnellenberger's boys out of The Swamp on Saturday. Florida wins comfortably, but not by a blowout. Pick: Florida Atlantic

Woman - "The Schnellenberger's Last Season Effect: FAU will just beat the spread, which Charlie Weis will promptly schmear on some bagels." Pick: Florida Atlantic

Machine - A new offense? The same questionable quarterback? The Machine fears not these things, and the Gators roll 59-10. Pick: Florida

Oklahoma State (-37 1/2) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette - Saturday 7pm

Man - I'm of the opinion that Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon could end up with 2,000 yards receiving this season, and he's going to get a large chunk of those yards on Saturday night in Stillwater. The Ragin' Cajuns will come after Mike Gundy, but he's a man, he's over 40 and he has an offense that will put up at least 40. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "The only Louisiana Lafayette I know hates vampires and wears false eyelashes." Pick: Oklahoma State

Machine - While The Machine believes in the prowess of Justin Blackmon (8 catches, 238 yards, 3 TDs) it is not nearly as confident in the Oklahoma State defense. Cowboys win 38-17. Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette

Texas (-23) vs. Rice - Saturday 8pm

Man - This game has me torn. On the one hand, I don't know that I want to count on Garrett Gilbert being able to limit turnovers enough to keep the Longhorns comfortably in the lead. On the other hand, Rice. After flipping a coin I've decided to believe that since this game is on the Longhorn Network and nobody will be watching it, Gilbert will feel much more relaxed and the Longhorns will win easily. Pick: Texas

Woman - "The Longhorns enjoy a rebound effect from last year's nightmare season and take out all their frustration on those wise old Owls." Pick: Texas

Machine - Garrett Gilbert for Heisman! Gilbert throws for 278 yards, 5 touchdowns -- half his total from last year -- and only 1 interception as the Longhorns roll 38-7. Pick: Texas

Oklahoma (-24 1/2) vs. Tulsa - Saturday 8pm

Man - This spread is pretty big for an offense that was as potent as Tulsa's last season, but I'm not sure the Hurricanes can put up astounding numbers against the Oklahoma defense without Damaris Johnson and Todd Graham. Landry Jones gets his Heisman campaign off on the right foot. Pick: Oklahoma

Woman - "Seriously, can someone explain why a school located in the heart of Tornado Alley calls itself the Golden Hurricanes?  Tulsa loses but covers." Pick: Tulsa

Machine - The Machine believes in the Tulsa offense a lot more than I do right now, but the Golden Tornadoes fall just short in a 31-24 loss. Pick: Tulsa

Georgia vs. Boise State (-3 1/2) - Saturday 8pm in Atlanta

Man - There are many who believe that Mark Richt is coaching to save his job with Georgia this fall, and his hold on the position will be a bit more tenuous after this one. Kellen Moore and Boise State are going to claim another BCS scalp on Saturday night in front of a packed Georgia Dome, and I don't think it'll be interesting in the fourth quarter. Pick: Boise State

Woman - "Sorry, adorable l'il Uga the Fiftieth, it's not happening." Pick: Boise State

Machine - Wow, I think Boise State's going to win this one comfortably, but The Machine doesn't even think Georgia should bother showing up. Boise State wins 48-9. Pick: Boise State

LSU (-2 1/2) vs. Oregon - Saturday 8pm in Dallas

Man - Is this game going to be played in a parking lot or a football field? To be honest, I'm not sure if being without Jordan Jefferson hurts LSU or helps it, and I hate going against the magic of Les Miles, but I just have fewer questions about Oregon right now. LSU may pull off another insane last second victory, but I still see the Ducks covering that spread. Pick: Oregon

Woman - "Les Miles will be flossing with Cowboy Stadium's Matrix turf." Pick: LSU

Machine - The Machine feels that Jordan Jefferson is incredibly important, and it shows in the final score. Oregon racks up 598 yards of total offense against the LSU defense and wins rather easily, 42-23. Pick: Oregon

Texas A&M (-15 1/2) vs. SMU - Sunday 7:30pm

Man - The team that's leaving the Big 12 against the team that would like to take its place. If SMU wins do they get in? I'm not sure, and I don't think they'll find out on Saturday. While I expect the Mustangs offense to keep things interesting, I think the Aggies will have too much in the end. Still, SMU covers and then Craig James will claim he doesn't remember a thing that happened during the game. Pick: SMU

Woman - "Aggies starting off what could be a great season and a Big 12 swan song with a win, but they won't cover." Pick: SMU 

Machine - The Machine sees a barnburner in our future on Sunday night. The Aggies narrowly escape with a victory thanks to a field goal in the final minutes, but it's not good enough for a cover. A&M wins 34-31. Pick: SMU

Maryland vs. Miami (-5 1/2) - Monday 8pm

Man - Randy Edsall's dream becomes a reality in his first game at Maryland against whatever is left of the Miami Hurricanes by the time the ball is kicked off. All I know is that I wouldn't be shocked if Miami won this game, but there's just no way I'm going to pick the Canes after the amount of work I had to put in to remove all the ineligible and suspended players from the roster before simulating this game. I hope Nevin Shapiro's yacht stalls in the middle of the ocean while you're out there watching the game. Pick: Maryland

Woman: "Instant karma and home field gives the edge to Maryland." Pick: Maryland

Machine: The Dream Job turns into an early nightmare. Despite having to pull players from the stands to complete its roster, the Machine still sees Miami pulling this one off 28-20. Pick: Miami 
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Garrett Gilbert named Texas' starting QB

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In just another indicator of how close we are to actual football games being played, the biggest quarterback question in the Big 12 was finally answered on Monday morning. The Texas Longhorns announced that Garrett Gilbert will be the team's starting quarterback when they line up against Rice on Saturday in Austin.

Gilbert had been in a battle with Case McCoy, Connor Wood and David Ash since the spring, but Gilbert has won the fight. For now at least. McCoy is currently listed behind Gilbert on the depth chart.

I say Gilbert is the starter for now because from most of the reports I read and heard about the position this spring and fall, Gilbert wasn't exactly blowing anybody away in camp. Throw in the fact that Gilbert threw only 10 touchdown passes compared to 17 interceptions last season as the Longhorns finished 5-7 and missed out on a bowl game, and I'm not sure he can be counted on to keep the job.

I'm of the opinion that Gilbert will improve in his second season as a starter, but if he's still not playing well enough or turning the ball over, I don't think Mack Brown will wait very long to pull the trigger on a switch. Texas doesn't want to endure another season like 2010. 
Posted on: August 25, 2011 12:04 pm
 

The Longhorn Network has a home

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Two weeks ago we told you that the controversial Longhorn Network was yet to find a carrier even though it was set to launch on August 26th. It was a situation that wasn't all that odd for a new network as it negotiated with cable providers to find a home, and I said in the post that I would be shocked if the network hadn't worked out a deal somewhere before it launched.

Well, there's no need for me to be shocked. It was announced on Thursday that the Longhorn Network had struck a deal with Verizon FIOS.

“We know Texas Longhorn fans are among the most loyal and enthusiastic in college sports, so we’re pleased to add the Longhorn Network to our already robust sports lineup on FiOS TV,” said Terry Denson, vice president of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon in a release.

Now this doesn't mean that everybody in the state of Texas will now be able to see the network, as FIOS is only available in northern Texas at the moment. Still, its market in the state does include Dallas and Fort Worth, which is a pretty nice start. The problem is that even though the network officially launched on Friday August 26th, FIOS will not begin carrying it until September 1st, two days before Texas' season opener against Rice is to be shown on the station.

As for other cable providers and homes throughout the rest of Texas, odds are that new deals will be agreed upon in the coming days. Television negoatiations work a bit like a domino effect, and now that one provider has agreed to a deal and groundwork has been laid, others should follow suit in the coming days. 
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LaMichael James headlines Doak Walker watch list

Posted by Chip Patterson

Keeping the watch lists coming here at the Eye on College Football, with the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announcing the initial list for the prestigious Doak Walker Award. The award, which was first given to Washington's Greg Lewis in 1990, celebrates the nation's top running back.

Oregon running back LaMichael James won the award last season, and he is back on the watch list for 2011. In the award's history, only two players have won in back-to-back years: Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Darren McFadden (2006-2007).

Here is the rest of the watch list, which will continue accepting nominations through October



Posted on: July 11, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 5:27 pm
 

2011 Ray Guy watch list announced

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here are the five members of this year's 2011 Ray Guy Award watch list, as determined by the Augusta Sports Council:

Bryan Anger (Sr.), California
Drew Butler (Sr.), Georgia
Kyle Martens (Sr.), Rice
Quinn Sharp (Jr.), Oklahoma State
Dawson Zimmerman (Sr.), Clemson

Obviously, Drew Butler (yes, the son of former Dawg kicker Kevin Butler) is the big name here, as he won the award as a sophomore in 2009 (see right) and was a finalist again last season. But compared to some of the other names on the list, Butler was a little -- just a little -- disappointing in 2010.

His 44.5 yards per punt were only good for 17th in the nation. Fortunately, Butler so rarely committed a touchback or outkicked his coverage that the Bulldogs still averaged more than 40 yards net per punt, which ranked fourth in the NCAA. Butler also uncorked a 50-yard punt in every game but two last year: the last two games of the regular season against Auburn and Georgia Tech, both of whose defenses were so cruelly porous that they only generated two opportunities for Butler to punt each game. Give Butler three opportunities, and he's going 50 at least once.

Past that, Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp has a cannon of a leg, and he was second in the nation in punting average last year (the Cowboys were third in net punting average). With Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon both coming back in 2011, the Cowboys may not have a great deal of opportunities to punt this season, but as long as we're keeping track of punts by average yardage instead of total, Sharp should be fine.

One quibble, though, and I know this is just a watch list, but where the heck is UCLA punter Jeff Locke?

The senior is recovering from a hip injury that has kept him out of spring drills, so perhaps that's why he was left off the list. But a) UCLA expects him to be healthy for fall camp, and b) the man bombs. He has registered 34 touchbacks on kickoffs over the last two years; UCLA led the nation in net punting average last year; and Locke plays on a team with such a, shall we say, punt-intensive offense that he'll have loads of opportunities to show off his leg in 2011.

If his hip's working the way UCLA expects it to, he'll be a finalist for this award, when the list really matters.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com