Tag:FSU
Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: The mess at UCLA

Here is this week's mailbag. If you have questions, send them to me on Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.



From @hogeandrew With the blowout loss to Arizona last night, is Rick Neuheisel finally done?

 
I realize UCLA Dan Guerrero tried to be supportive of his coach in the wake of that embarrassing 48-12 loss but the Arizona game was critical for Neuheisel. Not only could he not afford to lose that game, the last thing he needed was for his team to get blown out on national television by a team that was 1-5 and ranked 119th in rushing. Zona finished with 254 rushing yards and clearly looked like the team that wanted to be there. The Bruins, who were still in the thick of the Pac-12 South race, never showed up.



The Bruins fell to 3-4 and 2-2 in conference play. I supposed if they ran the table, which would include beating ASU and arch-rival USC that--and probably only that--would save his job. But realistically, the team that showed up Thursday night does not appear capable of running off five consecutive wins. Four of which would come against teams better than the one that mauled them on national TV.

Personally, I like Rick Neuheisel a lot. I think he's one of the brightest guys in coaching. He's personable, funny and I can attest to him being a truly decent man. On paper, he has recruited very well at UCLA with his first three signing class all in the top 15. But for a variety of reasons, it just isn't working out: They've never been able to find a QB; the O-line has been a disaster for much of his time and the defense, which on the hoof sure looks the part, has not gotten any better. It's only gotten older. And when Neuheisel hit the re-set button on his coaching staff after three seasons, it hasn't gotten results. And quite frankly, it is all about results. It's Year Four and they should be doing better, especially since with USC falling off and dealing with NCAA sanctions, the window of opportunity has only widened since he arrived.


From @kacpeters where would you rank texas a&m in the sec this year (obviously behind lsu/bama at 1&2)

At this point, with Marcus Lattimore out for the season, I'd rank Texas A&M fourth among SEC teams behind Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. The Aggies have an explosive offense and a suspect defense, but one that is good at getting pressure on the QB. In many ways they remind me of Arkansas, the team that rallied to beat them. Now if Lattimore was healthy, I'd say the Aggies would also be behind South Carolina.



From @Ole_Met now that Carolina has an AD, any idea who they're looking at for HC?



My hunch is that Bubba Cunningham will take a long look at Auburn OC Gus Malzahn. Both have Tulsa ties and Malzahn is a well-respected offensive mind. His offense has struggled quite a bit this year (the Tigers are 77th in scoring), but a big dropoff was expected with the program losing Cam Newton and almost all of their O-linemen. Even if they finish no better than 7-5, Malzahn still will be an attractive candidate and I'd think would be tempted given the ACC is a lot easier to win a conference title than the SEC would be.


From abellwillring do you think FSU has a chance to salvage the season? Would winning out make the year a success or still a huge disappointment?


No. It's too late for that. This was supposed to be the year the Noles came back on the national stage in a big way. And, it wasn't just the media talking them up. Jimbo Fisher played a big part in that in the off-season. They came into the year ranked No. 6, but they completely fizzled. Falling  to OU at home, especially after losing your starting QB is nothing to be ashamed about, but to drop three in a row, including against unranked Wake Forest isn't the stuff of elite programs. 


Look at the rest of the schedule. There are no ranked teams remaining. There is nothing that will get people's attention and show that this isn't the same overhyped team that it had been in the past few years, where all of those four and five-star recruits didn't translate into Top 10 teams.
 

From @SteveFeenEven with Penn State's revolving QB door, do you think they have a legit shot at the B10 title game behind Redd and their D?


I doubt it. They are too sluggish on offense. If they're going to win their division, one of these two QBs needs to really emerge fast. I'm skeptical because you'd have think if it was going to happen, it would've occurred by now. Thus far, they've been winning on defense and, quite frankly, shaky competition. The closest thing PSU has to a good win is beating unranked Iowa, who had already lost to Iowa State. After this Northwestern game, the schedule gets much tougher, the Nittany Lions are going to have to do much better. They've played a bunch of suspect defenses (aside from Alabama and Temple) and they're still only 96th in scoring and 102nd in passing efficiency.

From @adamdounn How do you think The U will do the rest of the season? I love Golden and very impressed with Jedd Fisch on improving J-12

After this week's game against No. 22 Georgia Tech, the Canes schedule eases up some, I'd expect them to be no worse than 8-4, which considering they started 2-3 and with a ton of turmoil amid the Nevin Shapiro scandal and all of those suspensions, that wouldn't be too bad for Golden's first season. Not great, but respectable all things considered.


Fisch has proven to be a terrific find as the OC. People were skeptical because he had only one season as a college offensive coordinator at Minnesota and the results were mediocre. Well, it's been quite the opposite for him at UM. The work he's done helping get Jacory Harris' confidence back has been head-turning, as I wrote in the Big Picture. The Canes are 48th in scoring and ninth in passing efficiency despite having already faced four defenses ranked in the top 25. Keep in mind last year UM was 67th in scoring and 97th in passing efficiency.


That said, I expected more from the defense. Then again, that side of the ball got hit harder by the suspensions and has now been hammered by injury along the D-line.


Obviously, for Golden and this program, the biggest thing will be how much the NCAA can find -- and prove from the Shapiro allegations. And then how harsh the sanctions are.



From @gibsonjosh79 who has the tougher job ahead of them Will Muschamp or Derek Dooley?



Dooley probably does. He inherited a bigger mess, not just in terms of talent left in the program but the profile of the Gators program is still very high in many recruits' minds. The Vols have been struggling for a few years now, which is a long time for kids who weren't old enough to remember the Tee Martin BCS title team. Also, Florida has so many more elite recruits close by.



From @LandonP23 Is Tyler Wilson of <s class="hash">#</s>Arkansas hands down the best Qb in the Sec?


Yes, Wilson has been as good as advertised. Maybe even better. The toughness he showed when he got battered at Alabama was really something. The Razorbacks have had some significant injuries to some of their best offensive weapons, but this offense still piles up points. I give Wilson the edge over Aaron Murray, who has thrown seven INTs, more than double Wilson's total this year. 



From @ChrisSedenka  Is it time for Geno Smith to start getting more national attention?


Geno's gotten plenty of attention, and if WVU continues to roll up wins, his stats will surely keep people buzzing. Thing is, if he was going to really enter the Heisman race, he needed to lead WVU to an upset win over LSU on national TV. That was really his only shot this year at a cache win over an elite team. Smith was pretty good in that game, but despite the gaudy numbers, he wasn't at his best and LSU cruised. Smith just needs to keep growing in this system. Look for him to be a serious Heisman contender in 2012.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Tuesday Top 10: Biggest duds of first half

We've seen through the first half of the season that many things (Oklahoma, LSU, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson) have been as good as advertised while a few others have emerged as pleasant surprises (Clemson, K-State, CSU's Nordly Capi, Illinois), which we hit on last week here in the blog. But there is a flipside to that. This week's Top 10 list: biggest disappointments of the first half of the season:

1. FSU: After an off-season of hype about how "the Noles are back!!", the team that was preseason No. 6 team, has been a complete dud. FSU has lost three in a row and really hasn't beat anyone of note. FSU is one of those schools that the media (and I'm guilty of this too because I was practically serving drinks on that bandwagon since January) is all too eager to get fired up about. Then again, anyone who spent time around Tallahassee this off-season heard the way Jimbo Fisher talked about this team and its talent and its focus and maturity and well, we couldn't help but get more intrigued. Yes, there have been injuries to a few key guys (QB E.J. Manuel and WR Bert Reed) but lots of teams deal with injuries. The Noles have been mistake-ridden and are doing the kinds of things elite teams simply don't have issues with. They are 114th in turnover margin, 112th in rushing, 100th in sacks allowed and 120th in penalties.

2. Maryland's offense: Maybe this stems from The Curse of Ralph, but whatever it is, things are off to a dismal start for Randy Edsall in College Park. Danny O'Brien came into the season as one of the most promising young QBs in college football (22-8 TD-INT ratio as a freshman in 2010) but now looks completely lost. O'Brien has a 4-6 TD-INT mark and was benched after going 1-6 last week against Ga. Tech. O'Brien was sharp in last year's West-Coast style offense. In Edsall's new spread under Gary Crowton, the QB has been a mess. The Terps who were 9-4 last season and 29th in scoring and scored over 40 points five times last season, are 91st in scoring.

3. Mississippi State: No one thought Dan Mullen's team was going to win the loaded SEC West this year, but the way the Bulldogs have fizzled has been a head-shaker. They needed overtime to beat La. Tech and trailed a miserable UAB squad 3-0 at halftime before coming back to win 21-3. And those are actually some of the more positive things. MSU is 0-3 in SEC play and will likely need to knock off one of the SEC's better teams (South Carolina, Bama or Arkansas) just to finish above .500.

4. Memphis: It's only Year Two for coach Larry Porter running this dumpster fire of a football program and it's hard to think any coach could fix things in that short of a time frame, but should things look as bad as they do now? The C-USA Tigers actually might be the worst team in FBS. They are 1-5 with their lone win coming against FCS Austin Peay. The Tigers then lost to a Sun Belt team that was 4-8 last year (Arkansas State) 47-3. Then they lost to a Rice team that came in 1-3 and the Owls crushed Memphis 28-6. The Tigers are 116th in scoring and 115th in defense. And this is a program that Memphis AD R.C. Johnson "deserves to be in the SEC"?!?! Of all of the out-of-touch comments made by administrators and power brokers in the NCAA in the past year, Johnson's line is king.

5. Ohio State: An offseason overstuffed with off-field drama has carried over to the fall, where the Buckeyes and first-year head coach Luke Fickell have dealt with more player suspensions, which has only created more problems for a team that was already depleted. There were signs early that this could be a long season for OSU when the Buckeyes almost got knocked off by a Toledo team that gave Fickell's team all it could handle despite committing a ton of penalties in Week 2. Then Miami and Lamar Miller lit them up while the OSU passing game was atrocious. It hasn't gotten much better since. OSU barely avoided getting shutout in Columbus by Michigan State. Then last week, the Buckeyes blew a 21-point lead in the second half at Nebraska and lost 34-27 thanks to more ineptitude in the passing game and the Huskers run game rolling over the OSU D. With a road trip to unbeaten Illinois, Wisconsin and games against Penn State and at Michigan remaining, it's no stretch to think Ohio State could miss a bowl game entirely. The good news? Word is Urban Meyer is going to be very tempted to take this coaching job.

6. Kentucky offense:
We know that the Wildcats lost some key offensive guys from last year's team when WR Randall Cobb, RB Derrick Locke and QB Mike Hartline moved on, but no SEC team should be this much of a mess on offense, especially when you consider most of the offensive line was back. UK managed only 14 points and just 190 yards of total offense in its opener against WKU, a 1-4 team that gave up 44 points to Indiana State.  
Last weekend against South Carolina, UK's level of ineptitude was staggering: matching its number of first downs (six) with turnovers (six). The Cats QB went 4-26 for 17 yards with four INTs, which was indicative of a team near the bottom of the NCAA ranks in rushing and passing and 119th in scoring. Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker broke down the futility even further. He noted that 174 of their 377 offensive plays (over 46 percent) have gained no yards, negative yards or ended up turning the ball over. It's been that bad.

7. Arizona:
 As I reported here in the blog Monday, despite leading the Cats to bowl games in three straight seasons (something which doesn't happen much with Wildcat football), a 1-5 start meant the end of Mike Stoops in Tucson. The Cats were dreadfully inexperienced on both lines and missing their best DB, safety Adam Hall for most of the season so far and standout WR Juron Criner also had been out didn't help. Nor did a front-loaded schedule, which featured back-to-back-to-back games against three top 10 teams. Last week's loss to previously winless Oregon State 37-27 proved to be the final straw. The Cats would be higher on this list, but realistically looking at the first half of their schedule and all of the inexperience on the lines and it was hard to figure they'd be more than 2-4 at this point.

8. Texas A&M defense:
This is the second year in Tim DeRuyter's system, but even without the great Von Miller, things have been a lot shakier for the Aggies than most would've expected. A&M suffered consecutive second-half collapses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, where the Aggies gave up almost 1000 yards or passing. A&M was able to stop the losing streak at Texas Tech last weekend, but still got shredded for 40 points. They are dead last in pass defense and close to that in turnover margin (104th).

9. Boston College:
The Eagles (1-5) have one of the best players in college football in LB Luke Kuechly but the rest of the team is simply not producing. Their lone win was over FCS UMass. BC has lost three home games to Northwestern, Duke and Wake Forest. And the schedule hasn't really started to get into the toughest part for them yet.

10. Minnesota:
It has been a trying year for the Gophers. First-year head coach Jerry Kill has battled health issues, but after a respectable close loss at USC in the opener, it's been one dreadful performance after another for this team. The Gophers lost at home to New Mexico State, a team that has a hard time beating anyone that isn't New Mexico. Then, Minnesota lost to North Dakota State and been outscored by Michigan and Purdue 103-17 the past two weeks. A 1-11 season looks likely.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:44 am
 

Tuesday Top 10: Biggest duds of first half

We've seen through the first half of the season that many things (Oklahoma, LSU, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson) have been as good as advertised while a few others have emerged as pleasant surprises (Clemson, K-State, CSU's Nordly Capi, Illinois), which we hit on last week here in the blog. But there is a flipside to that. This week's Top 10 list: biggest disappointments of the first half of the season:<br /> 

<br /><br />

<strong>1. FSU:</strong> After an off-season of hype about how "the Noles are back!!", the team that was preseason No. 6 team, has been a complete dud. FSU has lost three in a row and really hasn't beat anyone of note. FSU is one of those schools that the media (and I'm guilty of this too because I was practically serving drinks on that bandwagon since January) is all too eager to get fired up about. Then again, anyone who spent time around Tallahassee this off-season heard the way Jimbo Fisher talked about this team and its talent and its focus and maturity and well, we couldn't help but get more intrigued. Yes, there have been injuries to a few key guys (QB E.J. Manuel and WR Bert Reed) but lots of teams deal with injuries. The Noles have been mistake-ridden and are doing the kinds of things elite teams simply don't have issues with. They are 114th in turnover margin, 112th in rushing, 100th in sacks allowed and 120th in penalties.<br /> 

<span style="color: #333333; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br /></span>

<strong><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">2. </span>Maryland's offense:</strong> Maybe this stems from The Curse of Ralph, but whatever it is, things are off to a dismal start for Randy Edsall in College Park. Danny O'Brien came into the season as one of the most promising young QBs in college football (22-8 TD-INT ratio as a freshman in 2010) but now looks completely lost. O'Brien has a 4-6 TD-INT mark and was benched after going 1-6 last week against Ga. Tech. O'Brien was sharp in last year's West-Coast style offense. In Edsall's new spread under Gary Crowton, the QB has been a mess. The Terps who were 9-4 last season and 29th in scoring and scored over 40 points five times last season, are 91st in scoring.

<br /><br /><br /><strong>3. Mississippi State:</strong> No one thought Dan Mullen's team was going to win the loaded SEC West this year, but the way the Bulldogs have fizzled has been a head-shaker. They needed overtime to beat La. Tech and trailed a miserable UAB squad 3-0 at halftime before coming back to win 21-3. And those are actually some of the more positive things. MSU is 0-3 in SEC play and will likely need to knock off one of the SEC's better teams (South Carolina, Bama or Arkansas) just to finish above .500.<br /> 

<br /><br /><strong>4. Memphis:</strong> It's only Year Two for coach Larry Porter running this dumpster fire of a football program and it's hard to think any coach could fix things in that short of a time frame, but should things look as bad as they do now? The C-USA Tigers actually might be the worst team in FBS. They are 1-5 with their lone win coming against FCS Austin Peay. The Tigers then lost to a Sun Belt team that was 4-8 last year (Arkansas State) 47-3. Then they lost to a Rice team that came in 1-3 and the Owls crushed Memphis 28-6. The Tigers are 116th in scoring and 115th in defense. And this is a program that Memphis AD R.C. Johnson "deserves to be in the SEC"?!?! Of all of the out-of-touch comments made my administrators and power brokers in the NCAA in the past year, Johnson's line is king.

<br /><br /><strong>5. Ohio State:</strong> An offseason overstuffed with off-field drama has carried over to the fall, where the Buckeyes and first-year head coach Luke Fickell have dealt with more player suspensions, which has only created more problems for a team that was already depleted. There were signs early that this could be a long season for OSU when the Buckeyes almost got knocked off by a Toledo team that gave Fickell's team all it could handle despite committing a ton of penalties in Week 2. Then Miami and Lamar Miller lit them up while the OSU passing game was atrocious. It hasn't gotten much better since. OSU barely avoided getting shutout in Columbus by Michigan State. Then last week, the Buckeyes blew a 21-point lead in the second half at Nebraska and lost 34-27 thanks to more ineptitude in the passing game and the Huskers run game rolling over the OSU D. With a road trip to unbeaten Illinois, Wisconsin and games against Penn State and at Michigan remaining, it's no stretch to think Ohio State could miss a bowl game entirely. The good news? Word is Urban Meyer is going to be very tempted to take this coaching job.

<span style="color: #333333; font-family: verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;"><span style="color: #000000; font-family: Helvetica;"><br /><br /></span></span>

<strong>6. Kentucky offense:</strong> We know that the Wildcats lost some key offensive guys from last year's team when WR Randall Cobb, RB Derrick Locke and QB Mike Hartline moved on, but no SEC team should be this much of a mess on offense, especially when you consider most of the offensive line was back. UK managed only 14 points and just 190 yards of total offense in its opener against WKU, a 1-4 team that gave up 44 points to Indiana State.  <br />Last weekend against South Carolina, UK's level of ineptitude was staggering: matching its number of first downs (six) with turnovers (six). The Cats QB went 4-26 for 17 yards with four INTs, which was indicative of a team near the bottom of the NCAA ranks in rushing and passing and 119th in scoring. Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker broke down the futility</a> even further. He noted that 174 of their 377 offensive plays (over 46 percent) have gained no yards, negative yards or ended up turning the ball over. It's been <em>that</em> bad.

<br /><br /><strong>7. Arizona:</strong> As I reported here in the blog Monday, despite leading the Cats to bowl games in three straight seasons (something which doesn't happen much with Wildcat football), a 1-5 start meant the end of Mike Stoops in Tucson. The Cats were dreadfully inexperienced on both lines and missing their best DB, safety Adam Hall for most of the season so far and standout WR Juron Criner also had been out didn't help. Nor did a front-loaded schedule, which featured back-to-back-to-back games against three top 10 teams. Last week's loss to previously winless Oregon State 37-27 proved to be the final straw. The Cats would be higher on this list, but realistically looking at the first half of their schedule and all of the inexperience on the lines and it was hard to figure they'd be more than 2-4 at this point.

<br /><br /><br />

<strong>8. Texas A&M defense:</strong> This is the second year in Tim DeRuyter's system, but even without the great Von Miller, things have been a lot shakier for the Aggies than most would've expected. A&M suffered consecutive second-half collapses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, where the Aggies gave up almost 1000 yards or passing. A&M was able to stop the losing streak at Texas Tech last weekend, but still got shredded for 40 points. They are dead last in pass defense and close to that in turnover margin (104th).

<br /><br />

<strong>9. Boston College:</strong> The Eagles (1-5) have one of the best players in college football in LB Luke Kuechly but the rest of the team is simply not producing. Their lone win was over FCS UMass. BC has lost three home games to Northwestern, Duke and Wake Forest. And the schedule hasn't really started to get into the toughest part for them yet.

<br /><br />

<strong>10. Minnesota:</strong> It has been a trying year for the Gophers. First-year head coach Jerry Kill has battled health issues, but after a respectable close loss at USC in the opener, it's been one dreadful performance after another for this team. The Gophers lost at home to New Mexico State, a team that has a hard time beating anyone that isn't New Mexico. Then, Minnesota lost to North Dakota State and been outscored by Michigan and Purdue 103-17 the past two weeks. A 1-11 season looks likely.

Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Daily Surf Report: FSU's disappointing start

The Oklahoma loss was painful, but FSU's loss at Clemson is potentially and excruciatingly devastating, writes Mike Bianchi.

This heart-wrenching, nail-biting 35-30 defeat to Clemson hurts so badly because it puts a Florida State season of such promise and potential on life support. The national title is gone. The conference title is in jeopardy. "We were our own worst enemy," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said after his team committed 11 game-changing penalties for 124 momentum-sapping yards.

It's now official: Florida State is not back. Not even close. Can we agree upon that now?

I got loads of hate mail from FSU fans last week when I had the audacity to chastise the ridiculous concept that the Seminoles should be satisfied by keeping it close and "only" losing by 10 points to No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. I said it then and I'll say it again: Moral victories are for directional schools, not big-time college football programs.

I was on the Noles bandwagon coming into this season. I didn't think they'd win the BCS title, but I thought they'd be a top-five team. They still might be able to get there this year, but it does not look good right now. They're just 113th in rushing, 105th in sacks allowed and 87th in turnover margin despite opening against two woeful opponents. The biggest issues for them emerged in Death Valley on defense, where they really lost focus and committed back-breaking penalties and some assignment busts. They just couldn't get off the field on third downs as Tajh Boyd, a guy who had only a handful of starts, playing in a new system, carved them up.  On top of that, Greg Reid, their top CB, has had the kind of off-field problems you wouldn't expect from a junior trying to show he's a leader.

I know the Noles are killing it recruiting. Of course, they always seem to be killing it in recruiting. It's the focus on the field, which Jimbo Fisher said all off-season he was confident was getting there, that has been lacking. Up next for them is five straight games against teams they should pound before they host a Miami team that looks pretty shaky too. I'm not sure they can prove to anyone outside of FSU diehards that they are even close to back until the final week of the regular season when they visit the Swamp.

*One of Miami's top commits, Miami Norland High School LB Keith Brown visited Clemson over the weekend and "loved" it and told CaneSport that while he would still consider himself a very soft Hurricane commitment, he also says "most likely I won't be going to Miami."

Because Brown wants to know what NCAA sanctions UM faces before he graduates in December. He doesn't want to wind up on campus in January and find out about any punishment afterward. What would it take from the NCAA to keep him on board with Miami? "Probably no bowl games and no TV time and taking scholarships away," Brown said. "One year is no problem. Probably two or three (would cause him to go elsewhere)."

Thing is, Miami almost certainly will NOT know its fate with the NCAA by Signing Day, much less in December when mid-year signees would need to know.
*Mike Locksley was fired over the weekend. The move comes as no surprise. His time at New Mexico was a complete debacle. In fact, it was a tour de force for coaching ineptitude. He was 2-26 and, it wasn't like they were close. The Lobos were getting drilled by teams, not close to turning the corner. Worse still, he himself had all sorts of embarrassing issues off the field on top of that. I was stunned he got a third season. 

*The Randy Edsall Era at Maryland has begun with a thud and John Feinstein isn't buying that the former UCONN coach was brought in to rebuild a wreck of a program.

“This is a process we are in,” Edsall said after the Terrapins’ humiliating 38-7 loss to Temple on Saturday. “It was not going to get changed overnight no matter how much I want it to.”

Saturday was not a good day for Edsall on any level and, while he was candid in admitting that his team wasn’t ready to play (no kidding) it was a cop-out for him to fall back on the “this is a process” cliche. Al Golden, who took over at Temple in 2006 when the Owls had been kicked out of the Big East and had gone 38-151 under three coaches in 17 seasons, had a real process to go through.

Edsall needs to spend less time making announcements about uniforms and more time getting them ready to play in those uniforms.

Finestein makes a good point. Edsall inherited a team with the best QB in the ACC. Danny O'Brien is the kind of building block few others have. The Terps also have some pretty good talent on defense. There are some holes, but going into this season, this looked like an eight-win team. Now, after a dismal 1-2 start with a hefty ACC stretch coming in early October, you wonder if this team will even make it to a bowl game.
*After getting blown out in the fourth quarter at ASU, the USC offense merits a D+ grade, writes Michael Lev.
QB Matt Barkley missed Woods for a touchdown, threw two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and lost a fumble on a sack. … The offense converted only 1 of 9 third-down attempts and scored touchdowns on just 2 of 6 trips into the red zone.
Heading into the weekend, I'd received some Tweets from some Trojan fans grousing about why Barkley wasn't being included in more Heisman talk. My feeling was that despite some impressive stats, the jury was still out on whether Barkley should be in the discussion with other Heisman contenders. He has struggled late in games and in crunch time. He and this USC team also haven't shined in many big spots against tough competition. Those are the kinds of things you must do to be seriously in the Heisman mix in the end.

The way they fell apart Saturday night has become shockingly common with this USC program in the past few years now. They also seemingly have too much talent at their skill positions to be only 79th in offense. We'll see if they can get it sorted out. The Trojans have a very interesting October coming up with games at Cal, at Notre Dame and then against Stanford. Those are games that people will keep an eye on. Not against Syracuse and Minnesota.





 



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 14, 2011 1:05 am
 

Tuesday Top 10: Most exciting players in college

For those of you who had read my old blog, you probably remember some of the staples. One of them was the weekly Top 10 list. This week's version: The 10 most exciting players in college football.


1-Denard Robinson, Michigan, QB: He was spectacular last year, shouldering a staggering amount of the Wolverines offense in 2010. The offense has been revamped with the coaching change in Ann Arbor, but Robinson he proved, once again, how spectacular he is when he sparked Michigan's dramatic comeback against Notre Dame last week. In that frenetic rally, Robinson accounted for a mind-boggling 226 of his team's 229 yards in the fourth quarter. As amazing as that was, we have come to expect the spectacular from him. And this is why he is 'Must-See' TV no matter who the Wolverines play.


2-T.Y. Hilton, FIU, WR-KR: No longer the best-kept secret in college football, Hilton, who almost signed with WVU, promised that he'd 'take one to the house' the first time he touched a ball in a college game (he did) and he's been making big plays for the Panthers ever since. Just ask Louisville or anyone watching their Friday night game about this guy's burst. Hilton made a team from a much bigger conference look like they were high schoolers as he blew past them.


3-De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon, RB: Chip Kelly's big get out of Southern California has been a big name in L.A. football for years on the prep scene. Thomas had a rocky debut against LSU, but bounced back in remarkable fashion, burning Nevada for two plays of 60-plus yards in Week 2. I know that LaMichael James and Cliff Harris have done more, but it's Thomas and his blazing speed and dizzying moves who is generating some buzz as we just begin to get a sense of what he is capable of and how he'll be used there. He is going to be a scary weapon in Kelly's offense for the next few seasons.


4-David Wilson, Va. Tech, RB-KR: An NCAA All-American in track as a triple jumper, Wilson isn't just a little speed back. He's a 205-pound headache for rival defenses, having broken, by VT coaches account, 29 tackles in two games while rolling up 300 rushing yards. (I'll have much more on Wilson and Tech in the blog on Wednesday.)


5-Vontaze Burfict, ASU, LB: Arguably the hardest-hitter in college football, Burfict's battle to straddle the edge has been fascinating the past few years. He and his teammates have been prone to being self-destructive, but there have been some signs of maturation. Thus far this season, he already has four sacks in two games.


6-Justin Blackmon, OK State, WR: Not the fastest receiver, the 6-1, 215-pound Blackmon plays even bigger than his frame would indicate. A former high school basketball star, he is in the mold of Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant and just makes plays and big catches and looks unstoppable, toying with smaller DBs. His numbers in 2010 were fantastic: 111 catches, 1,782 yards and 20 TDs.


7-Lamar Miller, Miami, RB-KR: A decorated prep sprinter, Miller doesn't look like he's slowed down since muscling up to 216 pounds this offseason. He was a blur when he bolted through the Maryland defense for a 41-yard touchdown run in UM's opener. In the past year, Miller has learned to be more than just a speed back, becoming more patient as a runner since he now knows he'll get plenty of carries and doesn't feel like he has to hit a home run every time he touches the ball. He's also a dangerous kick returner and is #3 in the nation in all-purpose yards per game at 222.


8-Greg Reid, FSU, CB: A little guy who packs a wallop, as South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore learned in the bowl game last year when the 5-8, 186-pound DB blasted the 235-pound back. Reid picked off three passes last season and was one of the ACC's best return guys too.


9-Kendall Wright, Baylor, WR: Robert Griffin is Baylor's Heisman contender, but Wright is his go-to guy and quite a spark. The 5-10, 190-pounder who has the frame of a tailback and sports a 42-inch vertical, ate up Gary Patterson's TCU D in the opener for 12 catches and 189 yards and two TDs. The former Bears basketball player, a high school QB, also connected on 2-2 for 55 yards as a passer with one TD throw.


10-Chris Rainey, Florida, RB: I was tempted to go with Tennessee's freakish young 6-5 wideout Justin Hunter here, but I'll go with Charlie Weis' new toy. Rainey and his buddy Jeff Demps give the new Gator OC more speed than he's ever had to work with. In two weeks against a pair of overmatched opponents, Rainey is averaging over 7.3 ypc and 99 rush yards per game.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Morning Surf Report: Brian Kelly's turnover

It has been a very rough first two weeks of the season for Brian Kelly. The Irish, a team many figured would be a BCS bowl team, are 0-2 and have been plagued by some self-destructive moves. The ND head coach didn't do himself any favors in the wake of the team's meltdown against Michigan when he  said a challenging early season schedule has only made the mistakes more difficult to overcome.

“We’ve made so many mistakes against two pretty tough teams coming out,” Kelly told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Again, as you see the schedule, Ohio State is playing Toledo. I mean, teams are playing easy games early on in the schedule. We don’t get that luxury. We have to go play in front of 115,000 [at Michigan Stadium]. Those mistakes are more glaring against opponents that are physically pretty good, as well.

“I believe that we’re going to be a good football team. We won’t be until we clean up the little things that keep popping up on Saturdays.”

I agree with colleague Tom Fornelli who said: "Why Kelly felt the need to take a shot at Ohio State's early season schedule, I'm not sure. What's further confusing about it is that Kelly is also taking a veiled shot at Toledo, a school that gave Ohio State just about all it could handle on Saturday, and one of the best members of the MAC conference which is exactly where Kelly helped make a name for himself coaching at Central Michigan. It was hardly an "easy game" for the Buckeyes."

Bringing up a specific school doesn't seem like a move Kelly should've made. He ends up taking a shot at two programs when he didn't needed to take any. You're at Notre Dame. You're not supposed to lament these kinds of things. Certainly not publicly. When he was coaching at Cincy, his teams played the Eastern Kentuckys and Southeast Missouri States. He took the ND job knowing all of this. The Irish also do benefit from a pretty sweet BCS bowl relationship that affords them a different status than most other programs. Besides, Toledo, which has 17 starters back, is a solid FBS program. They have several players, including standout WR Eric Page, could start any most AQ conference programs.


*Legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden revealed to the USA Today that he was treated for prostate cancer in the spring of 2007.  He initially guarded his medical history for fear opponents would try to use the knowledge against FSU in recruiting. Just when you think the world of recruiting sounds about as crazy as it can get, you hear something like that.
"I did not understand the significance of prostate cancer back then," Bowden said in an interview with USA TODAY . "What I knew was when something like that happens to a coach and your opponents find out about it, the first thing they say is 'Don't go to Florida State, Coach Bowden is about to die.'

"If I knew then what I know now, I would have considered it my moral duty to bring it out in the open. I thought it was the right thing to do then, but that's not the message now."



*Rick Neuheisel says he will no longer doing those post-game victory/loss speeches at the microphone following games at the Rose Bowl. I remember being at the Rose Bowl the night an undermanned Bruin team upset a ranked Tennessee squad. Neuheisel grabbed the mic and turned the place into a de facto pep rally. It seemed like the Bruin program was destined for greatness that night and yet it just hasn't materialized. It's certainly not for the coach's ability to work a crowd. According to Jon Gold, Neuheisel said he thought they had become a ''distraction'' and all about him and not about the team. He said he went to administrators, talked about it and they came to the same conclusion. Who is this guy and what has he done with Rick Neuheisel?
*North Carolina schools are having a very hard time keeping many of the state's best players at home, reports Tim Stevens.

*Florida linebacker Dee Finley was arrested on Monday afternoon after being pulled over on campus.

He is charged with resisting an officer with violence, a third-degree felony, and a second offense of driving with a suspended license.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Finley is the sixth different UF player to be arrested since January and it is the seventh arrest Muschamp has dealt with in his short tenure.  
*Touching story about how Vandy coach James Franklin provided Andrew Kittrell, an 11-year-old born without a leg with an unforgettable experience.
 


Last week, Franklin called, Andrew's father, Michael, and invited Andrew to spend a gameday with the team when the Commodores played UConn. While some coaches may shy away from what could be viewed as a distraction to the team, Franklin embraced the opportunity to reach out to others just as he has so many times before during his short tenure at Vanderbilt. 

"It is one of those things, again, where you reach out to the community and although we are football coaches and we are brought here to educate our guys and to win," Franklin said, "I also talk to the players that not only are we going to handle our business on the field, but also when we are going to have opportunities to make an impact in other people's lives, we should be able to do both." 


After his phone conversation with Coach Franklin, Michael relayed the exciting news to his son, who couldn't believe the chance he had been afforded. "Coach called my dad and my dad surprised me," Andrew said. "I had no clue and I about fainted when my dad told me what happened." 


On Saturday, Andrew walked side-by-side with Franklin through Dore Alley Walk, spent time talking with the head coach in his office before the game and ran out of the tunnel with the team. After the team wrapped up a 24-21 win, Andrew joined Franklin one last time for his postgame interviews. The entire experience left an indelible mark on Andrew.   


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 12:04 pm
 

Morning Surf Report: Pressure on FSU D

The biggest game of the week in at FSU where the Noles look for revenge after getting drilled last year at Oklahoma. Coley Harvey lists five reasons why the Seminoles could pull the upset. The biggest in my eyes was his No. 2:

Improved defense. After two games against comparable cupcakes, it is tough to tell just how much better the Seminoles appear to be defensively. But if their 10-point effort in two games is any indication – the lone touchdown the defense gave up came on a drive started at its own 3 – it looks like they have improved and put last year's 47-point effort at Oklahoma behind them. With added depth after back-to-back strong recruiting classes, the Seminoles have been able to build rotations all across the unit. By the fourth quarter of what should be a close game, the unit should be relatively fresh. 

When I visited FSU in the spring, Nole CB Greg Reid admitted to me he and his teammates thought they knew what they were getting themselves into, but they really didn't know what they didn't know. "That no-huddle offense killed us," Reid said. "I've never went through anything like that before in my life. It was a real learning experience. Coach [Mark] Stoops [FSU's defensive coordinator] kept saying, 'Y'all better tighten up. Y'all don't know what you're getting yourselves into.' And we were like, 'Aw, man, we got this. It's just a football game.' I had no idea. I'm looking over to the sidelines for a play and they're already hiking the ball. I can't imagine how hard it was for the D-line. That was real tough."
  As much as the final score looked like a rout, the game wasn't even that close. Through three quarters, the Sooners led 44-7. Landry Jones, the Sooner QB, torched the Noles' defense, going 30-for-40 for 380 yards and four TDs.

"I believe we really didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but this year, they have to come to the big brick place, they gotta come to Tallahassee," Reid said. "Everybody's excited. This place will be jam-packed. We got something on our shoulders where we have to prove a point, especially if they're preseason No. 1. From a defensive standpoint, we just have to stay focused, have fun and communicate. Not let the quick hurry-up offense get to us."

* Even though Stanford thumped Duke 44-14 in Durham, Jon Wilner notes there were some areas of concern for the Cardinal.

The Blue Devils aren’t any good, and yet they gave Stanford problems for a half, especially with their use of delayed blitzes to pressure Luck. I haven’t seen him get hit that much … ever. If he weren’t bigger than many of the players hitting him, he might have gotten banged up. Watch for upcoming Cardinal opponents to use the same defensive tactics — and with better players.


I spoke to a Duke staffer Monday who noted that the Blue Devils did have some success with delayed blitzes and they'd hit Luck when they brought six and seven defenders. They also had some success using line twists. But as Wilner says, this is a mediocre Duke defense. It is really young right now. Luck and the Cardinal O-line will face much tougher very soon.


* More bad news for Mark Richt and Georgia: The team's top tackler, LB Christian Robinson will miss at least a couple of games with a foot injury sustained in Saturday's loss to South Carolina, the AJC reports


The injury, coming one week after Alec Ogletree suffered a broken foot in the season opener, leaves Georgia (0-2, 0-1 SEC) without both of its starting inside linebackers. Compounding the problem, inside linebacker was probably the thinnest position area on Georgia's defense and the one in which the team was least equipped to withstand injuries.
 

"We've definitely got a challenge at the linebacker position right now," Richt said.


Ogletree, who underwent surgery last week, is expected to be sidelined up to six weeks. Richt did not have medical details on Robinson's injury -- he suggested it might involve a hairline fracture -- but said it was not as severe as Ogletree's.

Over the weekend, Va. Tech's budding star David Wilson ran for 138 yards on 26 carries against ECU. In two games, he's now run for 300 yards. He's also broken 29 tackles, per the VT staff with him breaking 14 tackles on Saturday.

* Rob Lohr was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. The junior DT, who came to Vandy as a tight end/DE, became the first Commodore defender in more than a decade to post four tackles for loss. Lohr's four tackles for loss were the most by a 'Dore defender since linebacker Jamie Winborn contributed five such tackles against No. 6 Florida on Nov. 4, 2000.

  * Tweet of the Day: From Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis, who has has been sidelined with a broken foot. @TravisLewis28 For everyone that's that's asking. . . Ill let y'all know by the end of the day if ill going to play this week  
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:26 am
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