Posted on: November 9, 2010 2:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There has been one good piece of news to come out over the past 24 hours for Cam Newton : the Maxwell Football Club named him one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award , the organization's honor for the best player in college football. And though Newton has accumulated the stats and highlight reels of an All-American running back this season, it's perhaps for the best for him he doesn't actually play the position. That's the way it looks from the complete list of semifinalists:
WR Justin Blackmon , Oklahoma State, So.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, Jr.
QB Andy Dalton , TCU, Sr.
QB Robert Griffin III , Baylor, So.
RB Kendall Hunter , Oklahoma State, Sr.
RB LaMichael James , Oregon, So.
QB Colin Kaepernick , Nevada, Sr.
QB Andrew Luck , Stanford, So.
QB Ryan Mallett , Arkansas, Jr.
QB Taylor Martinez , Nebraska, Fr.
QB Kellen Moore , Boise State, Jr.
QB Cam Newton , Auburn, Jr.
QB Terrelle Pryor , Ohio State, Jr.
QB Denard Robinson , Michigan, So.
QB Ricky Stanzi , Iowa, Sr.
QB Tyrod Taylor , Virginia Tech, Sr.
All right, so it's also a little odd that none of the top 16 players in the nation by the Maxwell's estimation happen to play defense. But it's nothing unusual for defenders to get snubbed in the national Player of the Year talk, and since the Maxwell Club also hands out the Bednarik Award to the nation's best defensive player, the Maxwell itself appears to be a de facto offensive players-only honor; even the great Ndamokung Suh didn't crack the semifinalists list last season .
So the much bigger surprise is that among a list of the nation's top 16 offensive players, only two running backs, Hunter and James, make the cut next to two wide receivers and a whopping 12 quarterbacks. Since when has the the second-most high-profile position on the football field been this devoid of stars?
Since 2010, apparently. Last year's Maxwell semifinalist list included seven tailbacks, including a pair of Heisman finalists in Toby Gerhart and Mark Ingram and several who returned to college football for this 2010 season: Ingram, Noel Devine , Jacquizz Rodgers , Dion Lewis . Unfortunately for those four players, the season hasn't played out as expected for any of them; not one currently ranks among even the top 30 rushers in the nation at present, with Rodgers' 803 yards (good for 33rd) the best year to-date of the bunch.
Why the sudden downturn in the fortunes of the nation's top tailbacks? Some of it is probably a simple fluke. But some of it is the continuing rise of the spread offense, which revolves around the all-purpose quarterback at the expense of pounding along with the traditional bruising tailback. Auburn , Nevada , Michigan , TCU , Baylor -- these are all some of the most explosive offenses in the country, and all five begin with a mobile QB. It's no wonder all five placed their quarterbacks on the list above despite the presence of top rushers like Nevada's Vai Taua , Baylor's Jay Finley , and TCU's Ed Wesley . This year's top pro-style attacks, meanwhile, are all quarterback-dominated as well: Stanford and Luck, Arkansas and Mallett, Boise and Moore. Offenses like the 2009 Cardinal and Tide attacks that turned Gerhart and Ingram into superstars just aren't out there this year.
They'll probably be back next year. But that doesn't mean they'll be back in the same numbers we've seen in the past; as long as the spread remains as in vogue as it is today, the kind of bludgeoning workhorse tailback that makes award lists is going to stay an increasingly endangered species.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Bednarik Award, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Denard Robinson, Dion Lewis, Ed Wesley, Iowa, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jay Finley, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Mark Ingram, Maxwell Award, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Noel Devine, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. Ryan Broyles, Oregon, Ricky Stanzi, Robert Griffin, Ryan Mallett, Stanford, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, Tyrod Taylor, Vai Taua, Virginia Tech
Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:06 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 1:07 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez suffered an ankle injury during the Cornhuskers win over Missouri last week, and though the injury forced him to miss practice on Monday, Martinez practiced throughout the rest of the week. Which would lead you to believe that Martinez will be ready to play when Nebraska takes on Iowa State this weekend in a game that means a lot more than most of us would have thought when the year began.
That may not be the case, though. According to Bo Pelini, Martinez is getting better, but whether he plays or not will be a game time decision.
"He's getting better each day," Pelini told Husker Extra. "It will be probably a game-time decision, but he's getting better every day."
Which, in my opinion, means that Martinez will be starting for Nebraska on Saturday. This is a very big game for Nebraska, because a loss against Iowa State would completely render last week's victory against Mizzou meaningless, and give Missouri the inside track to the Big 12 title game. It would also drop the Cornhuskers to third in the division, as they'd have the same record as Iowa State, but would lose the tie-breaker.
So, in other words, Nebraska has to win this game or its chances of winning the Big 12 are done. Considering what Iowa State did to Texas in Austin a few weeks ago, it's apparent that this is not a Cyclones team to take for granted, so unless Martinez is incapable of walking on Saturday morning, he'll be playing.
Posted on: October 31, 2010 3:45 am
Edited on: October 31, 2010 1:28 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Michigan State isn't exactly BCS Championship material after all: Not even in our Insane Predictions did we ever see a 31-point Iowa throttling of Michigan State coming; the Hawkeyes dominated from the get-go and harassed Kirk Cousins into irrelevance, forcing three interceptions and keeping the Spartans off the scoreboard until the game was well out of hand. The vaunted Michigan State rushing was even more forcefully debilitated; the Spartans managed only 31 yards on 20 carries, and even that might overstate the Spartans' effectiveness rushing the football, as only one of their 13 first downs came on the ground: an 11-yard end-around by WR Bennie Fowler. The MSU tailbacks? No-shows. That, plus a harried performance by the quarterback, equals disaster, and that's what rained down on the Spartans in Iowa City on Saturday.
This makes four one-loss teams in the Big Ten, and with tiebreaker rules being what they are, there are essentially no teams left in the Big Ten that can win the conference crown "without help"; each of the four teams' Rose Bowl hopes depends directly on another team winning or losing. Might we see some eyes casting furtive glances at scoreboards from here on out? Don't be surprised.
Quietly, Ohio State marches on. Don't look now, but Ohio State is back to 8-1 (4-1) on the season, tied for first with Michigan State in the standings. The Buckeyes' latest act of aggression against the rest of the conference was a 52-10 spanking of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, OSU's sixth victory of 28 points or more on the season. Terrelle Pryor's still really good, and the defense is tightening up after that 31-18 horror show in Madison two weeks ago. A 12-1 mark to finish the year isn't exactly out of the question for the Buckeyes, whose only real tests are a visit to Iowa and whatever high-level bowl game they're awarded.
Now, even if the Buckeyes win out and even if they're ranked ahead of Michigan State in the BCS ratings (which they would be), they're not guaranteed a Rose Bowl bid; like everyone else crowded at the top, OSU needs one little bit of help. Again, more on that later. But rest assured that at the very least, an 11-1 Ohio State gets an at-large BCS bowl bid.
Sorry, but Michigan's not legitimate. The Michigan defense's ability to breathe life into a moribund opposing offense is truly a sight to behold, and its 41-point performance against Penn State and former walk-on QB Matt McGloin (making his first start ever) might have been its magnum opus. Evan Royster, who basically hasn't found rushing lanes all season long, gashed the Wolverines for 150 yards and two scores. McGloin threw for 250 yards and another touchdown, and the Nittany Lions converted on 10 of 16 third downs (and went 2-2 on fourth downs, so really, 12 of those 16 third downs ended up getting converted). Again, this is the same Nittany Lion offense that scored three points against Iowa and Alabama, scored 13 against Illinois, and "racked up" 24 on Kent State. Throw in the backup quarterback, and Michigan still gives up 41 points -- and that's not even counting PSU kneeling at Michigan's 2-yard line to end the game. It could have been worse.
What this means is that even for Denard Robinson's heroic 380 yards of total offense in the loss, Michigan's overall ineptitude makes him more the next Antwaan Randle-El than a potential conference-winning quarterback at this point. And don't get it twisted, Randle-El was truly great, but there's no doubt that he'd have traded his first-team All-American designation for so much as a bowl bid in his four years of play. Didn't happen. Now, Michigan's not there yet, but the Wolverines are at least on their way; under Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines are now an astonishing 4-16 in Big Ten play with Saturday's loss. They're not exactly "program-defining" wins, either (or they could be, perhaps, but certainly not in any positive sense): at Indiana this year, vs. Indiana in 2009, vs. Wisconsin in 2008, and vs. Minnesota in 2008. That's all. No teams with over seven wins on the season, one win by over seven points. At Michigan. In fact, only Indiana has fared worse in Big Ten play since RichRod showed up; for those keeping track at home, that's the second unflattering comparison to Indiana in this paragraph alone.
Stanzi for Heisman? Let's start with Stanzi for New York: Ricky Stanzi had his third straight game of three passing touchdowns and no turnovers, pushing his season totals to 19 TDs and two picks in eight games. That's usually not a Heisman-winning pace, and especially not this season, but the efficiency (second in the nation and gaining on Boise State's Kellen Moore) is awfully reminiscent of another QB in Iowa City just eight years ago: Brad Banks, who threw 26 TDs and four interceptions en route to a runner-up spot for the Heisman to Carson Palmer in 2002. If Stanzi keeps this up and if Iowa upends Ohio State in Iowa City (big ifs), might we see Stanzi at the Downtown Athletic Club? With Denard Robinson's (or more accurately Michigan's) season fading and Taylor Martinez dinged up, don't rule it out quite yet.
Wisconsin's biggest fans are the Spartans, and its biggest enemies are its victims. How badly does Michigan State need Wisconsin to win out? If the Badgers lose while either Iowa or OSU finish at 7-1, the Spartans' grasp on the conference title evaporates; Iowa has beaten MSU head-to-head, while it's extremely unlikely that MSU can overtake the Buckeyes in the BCS standings after its jarring defeat in Iowa City on Saturday. Meanwhile, the fact that Ohio State and Michigan State don't play each other has suddenly swung heavily in OSU's favor; more on that later this week. As for Wisconsin itself, its Rose Bowl chances hinge entirely on either Michigan State or the Iowa-OSU winner losing another game. But again, more later; trust us, that stuff gets complicated, especially now that "Just win, baby" isn't automatically enough for anybody in the conference anymore.
Tags: Alabama, Antwaan Randle-El, Bennie Fowler, Big Ten, Big Ten Rose Bowl, Boise State, Brad Banks, Carson Palmer, Denard Robinson, Evan Royster, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kellen Moore, Kent State, Kirk Cousins, Matt McGloin, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rich Rodriguez, Ricky Stanzi, Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl Big Ten, Rose Bowl Predictions, Rose Bowl Projections, Rose Bowl Tiebreakers, Taylor Martinez, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:57 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the nation's top quarterback, announced its 16 semifinalists for the award today. The list is as follows, in alphabetical order:
All in all, this is a pretty thorough list of the quarterbacks who might end up being the top quarterback in the nation once December rolls around, but it certainly does seem as if there was one glaring omission: Northwestern sophomore Dan Persa . Persa currently leads the nation in completion percentage, is eighth in passing efficiency and is fifth in total offense . Oh, and Persa also leads his team in rushing yards (341) and rushing touchdowns (six) -- each by pretty substantial margins over the nearest teammate.
Of course, it certainly merits mention that Northwestern is currently on a two-game losing streak, and that the Wildcats hadn't really beaten anyone of merit before the streak either. But in the Wildcats' losses to Michigan State and Purdue -- neither of whom have lost a Big Ten game yet, for what it's worth -- Persa was hardly "at fault" for the losses; he averaged 281 yards of total offense in the two games and scored four touchdowns to just one turnover.
It's hard to say who should be bumped for Persa's sake, though; every one of the top 16 semifinalists has a legitimate claim to deserving some sort of accolade. It's also worth pointing out, however, that until Missouri and Oklahoma faced each other this past weekend, Dalton, Gabbert, and Jones were all quarterbacking undefeated teams, and that's probably the only reason they're on the list; Jones and Gabbert, in particular, aren't even close to the top 16 of passing efficiency in the nation (34th and 39th, respectively). None of the three are terribly gifted runners, either, while Persa's been forced to anchor the woeful Northwestern ground game.
Of course, the O'Brien Award probably wants to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to even nominate a title contender's quarterback as a finalist, and with two conference losses, it's extremely unlikely that Northwestern will represent the Big Ten in Pasadena, much less make a run at a spot in the Top 10. Persa and his Wildcats aren't high-profile, and that's enough to leave him off this list. Inclusion's academic either way, since this is clearly Cam Newton's to lose, but it'd be nice to see a quarterback like Persa rewarded for putting together one hell of a season so far even when he doesn't have the supporting cast to win 11 games in a season.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Boise State, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Dan Persa, Darron, Davey O'Brien Semifinalists, Denard Robinson, Iowa, Kellen Moore, Kirk Cousins, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Mountain West, Nebraska, Nevada, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-10, Purdue, Ricky Stanzi, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Mallett, SEC, Stanford, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, USC, WAC
Posted on: October 23, 2010 5:52 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 5:53 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Nebraska's defense has given Cornhusker fans flashes of the "Blackshirts" of old at times this season. Saturday's matchup with Oklahoma State is not looking like it is going to be one of those times. Nebraska's defense had not allowed more than 20 points in a game coming into the weekend, but the Cowboys have shredded the Cornhuskers defense and only trail 31-27 at halftime.
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon continues to build on his breakout season, and has already picked up 129 yards receiving, including an 80 yard touchdown reception from Brandon Weeden. But the Cowboys have been led by running back Kendall Hunter, who has rushed 17 times for 146 yards and a touchdown of his own. Unlike the defense, the Cornhuskers offense is chugging along as usual on the back of Taylor Martinez, who has picked up 68 yards on the ground and 128 through the air. Nebraska has also gotten some help from the special teams unit, with Niles Paul taking a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
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Posted on: October 16, 2010 11:02 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. T-Magic has a lot of tricks left to learn. Seems somebody left their top hat and magic wand back in the dorm room this morning, because Taylor Martinez had no answer for the Texas defense in Lincoln on Saturday. Martinez only had 21 yards on 13 carries and had completed 4-of-12 passes for 63 yards before getting yanked by Bo Pelini in favor of Zac Lee. The good news for Martinez is that Lee didn't exactly do anything to take away his starting job.
2. Texas' defense is still pretty good, the offense, however, is not. Hey, listen, the way things have gone for the Longhorns this season, they have no reason not to be thrilled after picking up a big win on the road against Nebraska. That being said, unless they start picking things up on offense, whatever slim hopes they have of winning the Big 12 are nothing more than a pipe dream. The good news is that the 'Horns finally found some semblance of a running game, as they did gash a stout Nebraska defense for 209 yards on the ground. The biggest surprise being Garrett Gilbert 's 71 yards and two touchdowns. Still, that 4-of-16 passes for 62 yards needs a lot of work.
3. I still don't know what to make of Missouri. I made a comment about this on Twitter on Saturday afternoon, and caught a lot of flak from Missouri fans over it. Listen, I don't think Missouri is a bad football team, it's just I don't know how good they are. I'm sorry, but beating Texas A&M just doesn't impress me all that much because the Aggies are horrible. So far the Tigers most impressive win is against an Illinois team that is 3-3. Other than that it's wins against teams like McNeese State, San Diego State and Miami (OH). Next week's date with Oklahoma will give us all a better idea of how good this Missouri team actually is.
4. Jerrod Johnson just isn't working. It's time for a quarterback change in College Station. I don't care what Johnson has done in the past, or what everybody thought he'd do this season, the fact is the kid has played horribly. Maybe Mike Sherman is just worried about losing his job and doesn't want to give the ball to another quarterback at this point in the season, but trust me, staying with Johnson at this point is only going to help ensure he's out of work at the end of the season.
5. More people need to learn about Justin Blackmon. The Oklahoma State wide receiver has been a monster this season, and his name should be thrown out there when it comes to Heisman talk. He has 48 catches for 748 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, including a 10-reception 207-yard performance against Texas Tech on Saturday. His worst game of the season (yardage wise) came in the Cowboys' opener. Blackmon only had 8 catches for 125 yards and 3 touchdowns that day.
Posted on: October 16, 2010 7:45 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Texas has fallen out of polls and off of many lists for Big 12 contenders, but as history has shown us, the Longhorns will always have a chance against Nebraska. The cross-divisional rivalry held the final chapter on Saturday, and Texas gets the last laugh. Again.
Around Lincoln, this was expected to be a revenge game. Getting Texas back for a Big 12 Championship the Huskers believe was taken from them. Students wore shirts that read "REDemption" and had an image of ":01" to represent the one second placed back on the clock for Texas to kick the game winning field goal. But the fifth-ranked Nebraska offense had not seen a defense of Texas' caliber yet this season.
After carving up defenses for an average of 337 rushing yards per game, Nebraska was held to just 125 yards rushing by the swarming Texas defense. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has impressed everyone with his ability to burn defenses on the ground, but the true freshman looked overwhelmed and out of place against the Longhorns. After two and a half quarters that only produced 63 yards through the air and a season-low 21 yards on the ground, Martinez was sent to the pine in favor of backup Zac Lee. Lee helped orchestrate a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to pull Nebraska within a touchdown, but Garrett Gilbert and the Longhorns were able to hold on for the win.
One thing we did learn is that Nebraska is not as good as we believed. The big numbers and highlights were so impressive, we mistakenly ignored the identity of their opponents. One game does not mean that Nebraska's Big 12 title hopes are trashed, but it did reveal weaknesses that need to fixed before they are exploited again.
Posted on: October 13, 2010 11:43 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has come a long way this year. During the summer the redshirt freshman was third on Nebraska's depth chart, but worked his way to the starting job during practice. Now Martinez has helped lead the Cornhuskers to a 5-0 start that has them ranked in the top five, racked up 1,397 total yards and 15 touchdowns, picked up a cool nickname, and has received comparisons to Nebraska demi-god Eric Crouch.
Accomplishments which are nice, and definitely look good on the resume, but you haven't truly made it until somebody creates a parody song with you in mind. That's when you know your star is shining the brightest, and that the future is nothing but Magic.
Eric Crouch never got one of those.
Hat tip to Doc Saturday