Category:NCAAF
Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: Most intriguing BCS matchup?


Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter @BFeldmanCBS.

From @PaulPabst
Which would get a better TV rating...Boise State in BCS title game vs Bama/LSU or Stanford vs. Bama/LSU?


Both would be huge ratings hits because there'd be a David vs. Goliath quality yet would still have the credibility factor and lots more intrigue than your typical huge underdog or "little guy" program.  People have seen Boise knock off brand name "powerhouse" programs in recent years. Even those who don't buy that the Broncos play a tough enough schedule to merit being in the BCS title game (and there are many), they still have some fear that, in a one-game setting, Chris Petersen is such a good coach and Moore is so effective that they might pull some big upset.

I'd be very intrigued to see either of these match-ups because you have elite college QBs trying to solve dominant defenses with better athletes. My hunch is the best TV rating would come with Stanford against the unbeaten SEC champ because there is so much buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as the best pro QB prospect in years that NFL fans who might not care about college at all will be curious.

As curious as I'd be to see Luck try and attack the SEC talent, watching Boise finally get a chance to play for everything would be fascinating. For years now this same debate keeps bubbling to the surface, to have an actual answer and see what would happen would be a lot of fun. Then again, I guess you could accomplish something similar if Boise ended up facing the loser of LSU-Bama, but even if the Broncos won that game, you'd still hear people lament that they didn't beat the SEC's best.


From @LoqueBSU
45-2, losses by total 4 points. Does Kellen Moore's legacy serve any purpose in Heisman or BCS consideration?


It may help get him to New York for the award ceremony because people are so familiar with him, but he is still fighting such an uphill battle because voters don't take Boise's schedule very seriously. They expect him to put up gaudy stats because he's playing, at best, two top 50 teams, much less top 20 caliber teams. The second-best team he'll face this season, is TCU, and to a large extent the Horned Frogs got exposed this season in Week 1 when they gave up 50 to a Baylor team that hasn't proven to be one worthy of a national ranking either. Then TCU lost to SMU a few weeks later. That hinders Moore--and Boise's--cause.

I don't think Moore can ever "win" the Heisman in a manner than Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson can if they have great performances because they'd come against teams people pay attention to. But if they really struggle or get injured, he and Case Keenum would become much more viable candidates. Still, I just don't see another QB overtaking Luck.

From @HoyaEagle
Will BC LB Luke Kuechly get overlooked for awards b/c he's on a sub-par team?

I don't think so but playing on such a bad team certainly won't help his cause. Kuechly, who has been a tackling machine from the moment he arrived at BC, is a pretty well-known talent and it's not like there are so many other high-profile linebackers thriving on top 10 teams. Yeah, you do have a Courtney Upshaw at Alabama piling up TFL numbers, same for Stanford's Chase Thomas but there will be a lot of support for Kuechly. The guy leads the nation in tackles and it's become almost routine to see him up around 20 tackles for a game. That is special.

The people who vote on the non-Heisman individual college awards is a much smaller group and is usually compromised of folks with more connections to covering the sport on a daily basis. Not all the other awards are set up like that, but many are. The upshot: great performances and eye-catching individual numbers usually don't get lost.


From @racefortheprize
Could you see UW's Keith Price becoming a Heisman contender by his Sr Year in 2 years, behind a likely improved Husky squad?

Yeah, Price is definitely someone to keep an eye on especially as Steve Sarkisian keeps upgrading the talent around the program. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a contender in 2012.

He has started to show some signs that he may be losing some focus or wearing down. He wasn't sharp at Stanford two weeks again and really struggled against Arizona last week (three INTs). Price can give his cause a real boost heading into next season if he can get back to playing how he did in the first half of the season.


From @jonajoyce
Is Matt Barkley not on the (Heisman) list becuz of the sanctions? His #'s say he should be. What's the deal- in your opinion?


He's been very good, but also has been shaky at times. He wasn't good in their loss at ASU and he wasn't that sharp in their Thursday night win at Cal. Obviously, the sanctions don't help, but it's more than that. There is still a gap between him and Andrew Luck, who is generating most of the buzz on the West Coast. USC has had a decent year and much of that vibe comes from the way they handled Notre Dame in South Bend. Barkley would've had to outplay Luck significantly and lead USC to a win over Stanford to even get strong consideration to get to NYC this year. I do think if Barkley stays for his senior year, he'd be a frontrunner for the Heisman given the fact that USC is allowed back in the bowl race in 2012 and he'll have an even better group of receivers considering that Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will only be one year more mature and that much more polished.


From @
diegoterpflyer
Any chance MD fires Edsall and the AD after the season? That would be fantastic!

No, I think there's essentially no shot of that happening. While this has been a nightmarish first season for Edsall at Maryland, you can't fire a guy after one year unless there is some off-field scandal attached. I could see Edsall making some big changes on his staff, but beyond that, he deserves more time to figure things out.

Obviously, no one expected the Terps to be this awful. The only FBS team they've beaten all season was a Miami one that was a shell of itself because it got decimated by NCAA player suspensions. The Terps have been crushed by Temple at home and lost by double-digits to BC, who hadn't beaten anyone at the FBS level before. It's been all bad. Expecting more than a 3-9 finish from a team that figured to win at least six or seven, at worst, seems bizarre. Now, if he follows up a 3-9 with another dismal year, then things could get sticky but this team will have a lot of experience coming back for 2012 and seemingly should be better for it.

From @abellwillring
Is there any D-Line unit playing better than FSU's in the past month?

I'll say that Penn State's is. This is a defense that actually did a solid job containing Trent Richardson earlier this season, where he had to work very hard just to get 100 yards. Devon Still is having an All-American season inside and PSU actually has a couple of guys playing at a very high level up front now. The guy next to Still, Jordan Hill may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. Hill is second on the team in tackles with 51 and also has eight TFLs. Just ask Northwestern about how well Hill is playing. Last week, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that got intercepted and returned for 63 yards to set up a TD. Not bad for just a "two-star" recruit.


Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: Most intriguing BCS match-up?


Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.





From @PaulPabst   Which would get a better TV rating...Boise State in BCS title game vs Bama/LSU or Stanford vs. Bama/LSU?
 
Both would be huge ratings hits because there'd be a David vs. Goliath quality yet would still have the credibility factor and lots more intrigue than your typical huge underdog or "little guy" program.  People have seen Boise knock off brand name "powerhouse" programs in recent years. Even those who don't buy that the Broncos play a tough enough schedule to merit being in the BCS title game (and there are many), they still have some fear that, in a one-game setting, Chris Petersen is such a good coach and Moore is so effective that they might pull some big upset.

I'd be very intrigued to see either of these match-ups because you have elite college QBs trying to solve dominant defenses with better athletes. My hunch is the best TV rating would come with Stanford against the unbeaten SEC champ because there is so much buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as the best pro QB prospect in years that NFL fans who might not care about college at all will be curious. 

As curious as I'd be to see Luck try and attack the SEC talent, watching Boise finally get a chance to play for everything would be fascinating. For years now this same debate keeps bubbling to the surface, to have an actual answer and see what would happen would be a lot of fun. Then again, I guess you could accomplish something similar if Boise ended up facing the loser of LSU-Bama, but even if the Broncos won that game, you'd still hear people lament that they didn't beat the SEC's best.

  From @LoqueBSU  45-2, losses by total 4 points. Does Kellen Moore's legacy serve any purpose in Heisman or BCS consideration? <s class="hash">



</s>
It may help get him to New York for the award ceremony because people are so familiar with him, but he is still fighting such an uphill battle because voters don't take Boise's schedule very seriously. They expect him to put up gaudy stats because he's playing, at best, two top 50 teams, much less top 20 caliber teams. The second-best team he'll face this season, is TCU, and to a large extent the Horned Frogs got exposed this season in Week 1 when they gave up 50 to a Baylor team that hasn't proven to be one worthy of a national ranking either. Then TCU lost to SMU a few weeks later. That hinders Moore--and Boise's--cause. I don't think Moore can ever "win" the Heisman in a manner than Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson can if they have great performances because they'd come against teams people pay attention to. But if they really struggle or get injured, he and Case Keenum would become much more viable candidates. Still, I just don't see another QB overtaking Luck. 


From @HoyaEagle   Will BC LB Luke Kuechly get overlooked for awards b/c he's on a sub-par team?
 


I don't think so but playing on such a bad team certainly won't help his cause. Kuechly, who has been a tackling machine from the moment he arrived at BC, is a pretty well-known talent and it's not like there are so many other high-profile linebackers thriving on top 10 teams. Yeah, you do have a Courtney Upshaw at Alabama piling up TFL numbers, same for Stanford's Chase Thomas but there will be a lot of support for Kuechly. The guy leads the nation in tackles and it's become almost routine to see him up around 20 tackles for a game. That is special. 

The people who vote on the non-Heisman individual college awards is a much smaller group and is usually compromised of folks with more connections to covering the sport on a daily basis. Not all the other awards are set up like that, but many are. The upshot: great performances and eye-catching individual numbers usually don't get lost.

From @racefortheprize  Could you see UW's Keith Price becoming a Heisman contender by his Sr Year in 2 years, behind a likely improved Husky squad? 

Yeah, Price is definitely someone to keep an eye on especially as Steve Sarkisian keeps upgrading the talent around the program. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a contender in 2012.

He has started to show some signs that he may be losing some focus or wearing down. He wasn't sharp at Stanford two weeks again and really struggled against Arizona last week (three INTs). Price can give his cause a real boost heading into next season if he can get back to playing how he did in the first half of the season.


From @jonajoyce   is Matt Barkley not on the (Heisman) list becuz of the sanctions? His #'s say he should be. What's the deal- in your opinion? 


He's been very good, but also has been shaky at times. He wasn't good in their loss at ASU and he wasn't that sharp in their Thursday night win at Cal. Obviously, the sanctions don't help, but it's more than that. There is still a gap between him and Andrew Luck, who is generating most of the buzz on the West Coast. USC has had a decent year and much of that vibe comes from the way they handled Notre Dame in South Bend. Barkley would've had to outplay Luck significantly and lead USC to a win over Stanford to even get strong consideration to get to NYC this year. I do think if Barkley stays for his senior year, he'd be a frontrunner for the Heisman given the fact that USC is allowed back in the bowl race in 2012 and he'll have an even better group of receivers considering that Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will only be one year more mature and that much more polished.



From @diegoterpflyer  Any chance MD fires Edsall and the AD after the season? That would be fantastic! 

 
No, I think there's essentially no shot of that happening. While this has been a nightmarish first season for Edsall at Maryland, you can't fire a guy after one year unless there is some off-field scandal attached. I could see Edsall making some big changes on his staff, but beyond that, he deserves more time to figure things out.  Obviously, no one expected the Terps to be this awful. The only FBS team they've beaten all season was a Miami one that was a shell of itself because it got decimated by NCAA player suspensions. The Terps have been crushed by Temple at home and lost by double-digits to BC, who hadn't beaten anyone at the FBS level before. It's been all bad. Expecting more than a 3-9 finish from a team that figured to win at least six or seven, at worst, seems bizarre. Now, if he follows up a 3-9 with another dismal year, then things could get sticky but this team will have a lot of experience coming back for 2012 and seemingly should be better for it.

From @abellwillring  Is there any D-Line unit playing better than FSU's in the past month?


I'll say that Penn State's is. This is a defense that actually did a solid job containing Trent Richardson earlier this season, where he had to work very hard just to get 100 yards.  Devon Still is having an All-American season inside and PSU actually has a couple of guys playing at a very high level up front now. The guy next to Still, Jordan Hill may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. Hill is second on the team in tackles with 51 and also has eight TFLs. Just ask Northwestern about how well Hill is playing. Last week, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that got intercepted and returned for 63 yards to set up a TD. Not bad for just a "two-star" recruit.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:59 am
 

Friday Mailbag: Most intriguing BCS match-up?


Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.





From @PaulPabst   Which would get a better TV rating...Boise State in BCS title game vs Bama/LSU or Stanford vs. Bama/LSU?
 
Both would be huge ratings hits because there'd be a David vs. Goliath quality yet would still have the credibility factor and lots more intrigue than your typical huge underdog or "little guy" program.  People have seen Boise knock off brand name "powerhouse" programs in recent years. Even those who don't buy that the Broncos play a tough enough schedule to merit being in the BCS title game (and there are many), they still have some fear that, in a one-game setting, Chris Petersen is such a good coach and Moore is so effective that they might pull some big upset.

I'd be very intrigued to see either of these match-ups because you have elite college QBs trying to solve dominant defenses with better athletes. My hunch is the best TV rating would come with Stanford against the unbeaten SEC champ because there is so much buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as the best pro QB prospect in years that NFL fans who might not care about college at all will be curious. 

As curious as I'd be to see Luck try and attack the SEC talent, watching Boise finally get a chance to play for everything would be fascinating. For years now this same debate keeps bubbling to the surface, to have an actual answer and see what would happen would be a lot of fun. Then again, I guess you could accomplish something similar if Boise ended up facing the loser of LSU-Bama, but even if the Broncos won that game, you'd still hear people lament that they didn't beat the SEC's best.

  From @LoqueBSU  45-2, losses by total 4 points. Does Kellen Moore's legacy serve any purpose in Heisman or BCS consideration? <s class="hash">

</s>
It may help get him to New York for the award ceremony because people are so familiar with him, but he is still fighting such an uphill battle because voters don't take Boise's schedule very seriously. They expect him to put up gaudy stats because he's playing, at best, two top 50 teams, much less top 20 caliber teams. The second-best team he'll face this season, is TCU, and to a large extent the Horned Frogs got exposed this season in Week 1 when they gave up 50 to a Baylor team that hasn't proven to be one worthy of a national ranking either. Then TCU lost to SMU a few weeks later. That hinders Moore--and Boise's--cause. I don't think Moore can ever "win" the Heisman in a manner than Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson can if they have great performances because they'd come against teams people pay attention to. But if they really struggle or get injured, he and Case Keenum would become much more viable candidates. Still, I just don't see another QB overtaking Luck. 


From @HoyaEagle   Will BC LB Luke Kuechly get overlooked for awards b/c he's on a sub-par team?
 


I don't think so but playing on such a bad team certainly won't help his cause. Kuechly, who has been a tackling machine from the moment he arrived at BC, is a pretty well-known talent and it's not like there are so many other high-profile linebackers thriving on top 10 teams. Yeah, you do have a Courtney Upshaw at Alabama piling up TFL numbers, same for Stanford's Chase Thomas but there will be a lot of support for Kuechly. The guy leads the nation in tackles and it's become almost routine to see him up around 20 tackles for a game. That is special. 

The people who vote on the non-Heisman individual college awards is a much smaller group and is usually compromised of folks with more connections to covering the sport on a daily basis. Not all the other awards are set up like that, but many are. The upshot: great performances and eye-catching individual numbers usually don't get lost.

From @racefortheprize  Could you see UW's Keith Price becoming a Heisman contender by his Sr Year in 2 years, behind a likely improved Husky squad? 

Yeah, Price is definitely someone to keep an eye on especially as Steve Sarkisian keeps upgrading the talent around the program. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a contender in 2012.

He has started to show some signs that he may be losing some focus or wearing down. He wasn't sharp at Stanford two weeks again and really struggled against Arizona last week (three INTs). Price can give his cause a real boost heading into next season if he can get back to playing how he did in the first half of the season.


From @jonajoyce   is Matt Barkley not on the (Heisman) list becuz of the sanctions? His #'s say he should be. What's the deal- in your opinion? 


He's been very good, but also has been shaky at times. He wasn't good in their loss at ASU and he wasn't that sharp in their Thursday night win at Cal. Obviously, the sanctions don't help, but it's more than that. There is still a gap between him and Andrew Luck, who is generating most of the buzz on the West Coast. USC has had a decent year and much of that vibe comes from the way they handled Notre Dame in South Bend. Barkley would've had to outplay Luck significantly and lead USC to a win over Stanford to even get strong consideration to get to NYC this year. I do think if Barkley stays for his senior year, he'd be a frontrunner for the Heisman given the fact that USC is allowed back in the bowl race in 2012 and he'll have an even better group of receivers considering that Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will only be one year more mature and that much more polished.



From @diegoterpflyer  Any chance MD fires Edsall and the AD after the season? That would be fantastic! 
 
No, I think there's essentially no shot of that happening. While this has been a nightmarish first season for Edsall at Maryland, you can't fire a guy after one year unless there is some off-field scandal attached. I could see Edsall making some big changes on his staff, but beyond that, he deserves more time to figure things out.  Obviously, no one expected the Terps to be this awful. The only FBS team they've beaten all season was a Miami one that was a shell of itself because it got decimated by NCAA player suspensions. The Terps have been crushed by Temple at home and lost by double-digits to BC, who hadn't beaten anyone at the FBS level before. It's been all bad. Expecting more than a 3-9 finish from a team that figured to win at least six or seven, at worst, seems bizarre. Now, if he follows up a 3-9 with another dismal year, then things could get sticky but this team will have a lot of experience coming back for 2012 and seemingly should be better for it.

From @abellwillring  Is there any D-Line unit playing better than FSU's in the past month?


I'll say that Penn State's is. This is a defense that actually did a solid job containing Trent Richardson earlier this season, where he had to work very hard just to get 100 yards.  Devon Still is having an All-American season inside and PSU actually has a couple of guys playing at a very high level up front now. The guy next to Still, Jordan Hill may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. Hill is second on the team in tackles with 51 and also has eight TFLs. Just ask Northwestern about how well Hill is playing. Last week, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that got intercepted and returned for 63 yards to set up a TD. Not bad for just a "two-star" recruit.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: WVU's transition to Big 12

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send me questions via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.


From @JoeStier How well does WVU do in the Big12, when they're 4 Freshmen R/B's are going to be Juniors / Seniors?


The school announced it is joining the Big 12 in 2012, which means they should have a good transition since Geno Smith, unless he opts to bolt for the NFL, will be a four-year starter and have great grasp of this system. That'd be huge for them. This will be a dangerous team right away because of the firepower. Smith is one of the better QBs in the country and he'll have great skill guys around him. Tavon Austin, Steadman Bailey and Ivan McCarthy will all be back along with freshman RB Dustin Garrison. Most of the O-line returns as well, and keep in mind Josh Jenkins, a three-year starter on the line who has had to redshirt this season because of injury, also will return. With Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden moving on, WVU may come into the Big 12 with the best offense in the league.
 

The big concerns will be on D, where they'll have to replace CB Keith Tandy, LB Najee Goode and DE Bruce Irvin. The other challenge will be ramping up their depth. In terms of front-line talent, WVU will be more than adequate, but it's the depth where they'll need help. They've been able to get away with it in the Big East because it's not a strong conference, but upping the competition on a weekly basis, especially when facing more physically talented teams such as OU, Texas and Oklahoma State will take a toll.


Going forward, WVU is set up well to take advantage of the Big 12 connection since this staff has a lot of guys with Southwest roots. Not only did Dana Holgorsen spend a lot of time in Texas, but so did O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and WR coach Shannon Dawson. WR/ST coach Daron Roberts is a Texas native. RB coach Robert Gillespie coached at Oklahoma State and QB coach Jake Spavital is the son of a prominent Oklahoma high school coach. The school, though, must upgrade its commitment to football when it comes to its indoor practice facility, practice field and getting private planes for recruiting as well as the signage stuff of making the place look more like a big-time program. What they had was fine for the Big East, but it'll fall short by Big 12 standards.


WVU won't beat OU or UT for prime Texas kids, but they'll have a better shot against the Baylors, Kansas schools and teams from the Big Ten that go in there. This news also should help in the Eastern Seaboard against Va. Tech, Maryland and other locals schools since they're no longer in an inferior league to the ACC. They're in a better one. And getting off to a good start in 2012 will help preceptions that they can hang in that bigger league.


Beyond the 2012 season, much of this is going to depend on the development freshman QB Paul Millard and commit Ford Childress. Even more than most teams, Holgorsen's system is so dependent on the quarterback's play. I know the staff is really high on Millard and Childress, who'll arrive at mid-year, has a big rep in recruiting circles. McCartney and Bailey are just sophomores. They are redshirting three O-linemen and their best young CB Terrell Chestnut, a former four-star recruit. The biggest priority for WVU in recruiting is on both lines. Now it's only that much more crucial.


  From @mutigerfan5   How will MIZZOU do in recruiting in the SEC?

At first glance, the Tigers figure to only do better now that they're attached to the best conference in college football. They've always recruited well in Texas (Chase Daniel, James Franklin among other) and should continue to do so, especially since there's a Texas connection with the SEC via Texas A&M. The one thing where it could negatively affect the program is they're also stepping up in competition. They join a league where there's twice as many strong teams that have football factory sensibilities. If Gary Pinkel's staff can't ramp up, this long run of eight-to-10 win seasons (he's had three double-digit win seasons in the past four years) will end fast. And it's a lot easier to recruit when your team is a Top 20 team than a 6-6, just scrambling to get bowl eligible team.

It's a little different dynamic than what WVU faces even though both are going into tougher leagues, the Mountaineers are set up better to make a faster start.


From @flickster  What do you think are the chances Urban Meyer is coaching at Ohio State next year?


I'd put the percentage at 75 percent. I expect Meyer to come back to coaching. I'm sure it's been great for him to recharge his batteries and spend more time with his family, but for many guys who are wired the way he is, the temptation to coach and be competitive on the highest level is too great. Ohio State is one of the few elite jobs out there that figure to come open in the next 18 months, and I think he realizes that.


Penn State may be an option, but why be the guy replacing a legend there, especially if JoePa himself, much less the aura of him, still is around State College? Texas, potentially, could come open in a year or so if Mack Brown's team doesn't make bigger strides, but that's no sure thing.


At OSU, a school he once coached at, there is the change to be a savior and lead the Buckeyes back to the top and end the SEC's dominance. That last part figures to be intriguing for a guy as competitive and driven as the Ohio native after just having won two BCS titles in the SEC.

From @MikePesesky  Despite the easiest imaginable schedule, and potential 10-2 record, is Mark Richt off the hot seat at Georgia?



Not yet he's not. This weekend against UF is a Must-Win game as my colleague Tony Barnhart wrote earlier this week. Georgia fans will look at this Gator team that has been blown out by LSU and Bama and lost by double-digits to Auburn and say 'if not now, when?' Richt's record against UF is terrible: He is  0-1 against Steve Spurrier; 1-2 against Ron Zook and was 1-5 against Meyer. If he goes 0-1 against Will Muschamp he probably won't get a chance to even his record.


From @abellwillring 
Obvious one but do you think Keenum enters Heisman race with his huge night? Or is he still seen as too much of a system QB?


As I pointed out on Twitter earlier today, Keenum's nine TD passes in about three quarters in the rain and slop against Rice is actually more than 31 teams have throw all of this season. It doesn't hurt than he's leading a team that has a good shot of being undefeated and he's breaking all kinds of national records.



The downside for him is people will dismiss his exploits to a large extent because of the competition he faces more than him being a "system" guy. I don't see that holding Brandon Weeden back in people's eyes. When UCLA, 88th in pass defense, is one of the better defenses you face, it's going to drum up some skeptics.



The other big factor working against him is that Andrew Luck is seen by most as the best QB out there and his team is in the top 10 and that is taking away a lot of the thunder from Keenum and Kellen Moore especially.




From @Philly_Sak I know Wis, MSU, NEB, and OSU are mentioned a lot but what are PSUs chances of making the B1G title game in your opinion?


I give the Nittany Lions an outside shot. They have a terrific defense and Silas Redd has really come on to spark the offense. The QB play is holding them back and will have to get much better as the schedule heats up over the final month with Illinois, Nebraska and then at both OSU and Wisconsin. Expecting anything better than 2-2 seems too optimistic given what we've seen so far from both QBs.

Obviously it would also help PSU a lot of Ohio State can beat Wisconsin this weekend. I don't like the Nittany Lions shot of winning in Madison in the final week of the regular season.

Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: WVU's transition to Big 12

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send me questions via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.


From @JoeStier How well does WVU do in the Big12, when they're 4 Freshmen R/B's are going to be Juniors / Seniors?


The school announced it is joining the Big 12 in 2012, which means they should have a good transition since Geno Smith, unless he opts to bolt for the NFL, will be a four-year starter and have great grasp of this system. That'd be huge for them. This will be a dangerous team right away because of the firepower. Smith is one of the better QBs in the country and he'll have great skill guys around him. Tavon Austin, Steadman Bailey and Ivan McCarthy will all be back along with freshman RB Dustin Garrison. Most of the O-line returns as well, and keep in mind Josh Jenkins, a three-year starter on the line who has had to redshirt this season because of injury, also will return. With Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden moving on, WVU may come into the Big 12 with the best offense in the league.
 

The big concerns will be on D, where they'll have to replace CB Keith Tandy, LB Najee Goode and DE Bruce Irvin. The other challenge will be ramping up their depth. In terms of front-line talent, WVU will be more than adequate, but it's the depth where they'll need help. They've been able to get away with it in the Big East because it's not a strong conference, but upping the competition on a weekly basis, especially when facing more physically talented teams such as OU, Texas and Oklahoma State will take a toll.


Going forward, WVU is set up well to take advantage of the Big 12 connection since this staff has a lot of guys with Southwest roots. Not only did Dana Holgorsen spend a lot of time in Texas, but so did O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and WR coach Shannon Dawson. WR/ST coach Daron Roberts is a Texas native. RB coach Robert Gillespie coached at Oklahoma State and QB coach Jake Spavital is the son of a prominent Oklahoma high school coach. The school, though, must upgrade its commitment to football when it comes to its indoor practice facility, practice field and getting private planes for recruiting as well as the signage stuff of making the place look more like a big-time program. What they had was fine for the Big East, but it'll fall short by Big 12 standards.


WVU won't beat OU or UT for prime Texas kids, but they'll have a better shot against the Baylors, Kansas schools and teams from the Big Ten that go in there. This news also should help in the Eastern Seaboard against Va. Tech, Maryland and other locals schools since they're no longer in an inferior league to the ACC. They're in a better one. And getting off to a good start in 2012 will help preceptions that they can hang in that bigger league.


Beyond the 2012 season, much of this is going to depend on the development freshman QB Paul Millard and commit Ford Childress. Even more than most teams, Holgorsen's system is so dependent on the quarterback's play. I know the staff is really high on Millard and Childress, who'll arrive at mid-year, has a big rep in recruiting circles. McCartney and Bailey are just sophomores. They are redshirting three O-linemen and their best young CB Terrell Chestnut, a former four-star recruit. The biggest priority for WVU in recruiting is on both lines. Now it's only that much more crucial.


  From @mutigerfan5   How will MIZZOU do in recruiting in the SEC?

At first glance, the Tigers figure to only do better now that they're attached to the best conference in college football. They've always recruited well in Texas (Chase Daniel, James Franklin among other) and should continue to do so, especially since there's a Texas connection with the SEC via Texas A&M. The one thing where it could negatively affect the program is they're also stepping up in competition. They join a league where there's twice as many strong teams that have football factory sensibilities. If Gary Pinkel's staff can't ramp up, this long run of eight-to-10 win seasons (he's had three double-digit win seasons in the past four years) will end fast. And it's a lot easier to recruit when your team is a Top 20 team than a 6-6, just scrambling to get bowl eligible team.

It's a little different dynamic than what WVU faces even though both are going into tougher leagues, the Mountaineers are set up better to make a faster start. From @flickster  What do you think are the chances Urban Meyer is coaching at Ohio State next year?


I'd put the percentage at 75 percent. I expect Meyer to come back to coaching. I'm sure it's been great for him to recharge his batteries and spend more time with his family, but for many guys who are wired the way he is, the temptation to coach and be competitive on the highest level is too great. Ohio State is one of the few elite jobs out there that figure to come open in the next 18 months, and I think he realizes that.


Penn State may be an option, but why be the guy replacing a legend there, especially if JoePa himself, much less the aura of him, still is around State College? Texas, potentially, could come open in a year or so if Mack Brown's team doesn't make bigger strides, but that's no sure thing.


At OSU, a school he once coached at, there is the change to be a savior and lead the Buckeyes back to the top and end the SEC's dominance. That last part figures to be intriguing for a guy as competitive and driven as the Ohio native after just having won two BCS titles in the SEC.

From @MikePesesky  Despite the easiest imaginable schedule, and potential 10-2 record, is Mark Richt off the hot seat at Georgia?



Not yet he's not. This weekend against UF is a Must-Win game as my colleague Tony Barnhart wrote earlier this week. Georgia fans will look at this Gator team that has been blown out by LSU and Bama and lost by double-digits to Auburn and say 'if not now, when?' Richt's record against UF is terrible: He is  0-1 against Steve Spurrier; 1-2 against Ron Zook and was 1-5 against Meyer. If he goes 0-1 against Will Muschamp he probably won't get a chance to even his record.


From @abellwillring 
Obvious one but do you think Keenum enters Heisman race with his huge night? Or is he still seen as too much of a system QB?


As I pointed out on Twitter earlier today, Keenum's nine TD passes in about three quarters in the rain and slop against Rice is actually more than 31 teams have throw all of this season. It doesn't hurt than he's leading a team that has a good shot of being undefeated and he's breaking all kinds of national records.



The downside for him is people will dismiss his exploits to a large extent because of the competition he faces more than him being a "system" guy. I don't see that holding Brandon Weeden back in people's eyes. When UCLA, 88th in pass defense, is one of the better defenses you face, it's going to drum up some skeptics.



The other big factor working against him is that Andrew Luck is seen by most as the best QB out there and his team is in the top 10 and that is taking away a lot of the thunder from Keenum and Kellen Moore especially.




From @Philly_Sak I know Wis, MSU, NEB, and OSU are mentioned a lot but what are PSUs chances of making the B1G title game in your opinion?


I give the Nittany Lions an outside shot. They have a terrific defense and Silas Redd has really come on to spark the offense. The QB play is holding them back and will have to get much better as the schedule heats up over the final month with Illinois, Nebraska and then at both OSU and Wisconsin. Expecting anything better than 2-2 seems too optimistic given what we've seen so far from both QBs.

Obviously it would also help PSU a lot of Ohio State can beat Wisconsin this weekend. I don't like the Nittany Lions shot of winning in Madison in the final week of the regular season.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 2:17 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Hal Mumme's latest QB as talented as Couch?

Once again, Hal Mumme is leading the country in passing. No big surprise there that he's got a team piling up points, but it's the blossoming of his fell-through-the-cracks quarterback that is starting to get some attention for a tiny school in Texas.

Mumme, the former Kentucky coach, is now at tiny McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, a Division III program about to make the jump up to D2. The War Hawks (5-2) are in one those of those transitional years where they faced a few programs from bigger classifications, teams that can give scholarships. In their opener, the War Hawks were pounded 82-6 by FCS power Stephen F. Austin, but since then Mumme's team has been rolling. They came back the following week to beat another scholarship program from what used to be known as 1-AA, UTSA, 24-21. 

McMurry, running the prolific Air-Raid system, is averaging 380 yards per game. They've won their past four games by an average of 54-16.

Mumme's attack is led by an intriguing prospect named Jake Mullin, a 6-3, 225-pound junior quarterback already generating a little buzz from pro scouts. It's not often Division III players get that kind of attention, but Mullin's unique.

He was passed over by major college recruiters because he played in a run-heavy Wing-T system at Burleson High. The scouts who did notice him may have been scared off because Mullin's a standout baseball player and there was speculation he might get drafted and go that route. It also didn't help that he has a speech impediment and scouts are skeptical about QBs who struggle to bark out play calls in the huddle or communicate with teammates. He ended up on the baseball team at McMurry, a school of about 1300 students.

Mumme was hired in 2009 to take over a program that had gone 0-10 the previous year. He was grateful to find the big QB on the campus. Actually, when the coach arrived, he'd asked his players if there were any QBs on the team, thinking maybe there'd be a guy with some throwing ability that got switched to another position. Instead, Mumme was told by the players, the best QB at the school was playing intermural football and tearing it up. A few of Mullin's old high school teammates were football players at McMurry and informed Mumme that the QB could really throw it, but his coaches hadn't let him throw it. Mumme went to see Mullin play baseball and could see the kid's athleticism as the all-conference outfielder wowed the football coach.

Mullin had heard plenty from his buddies and was intrigued by the opportunity to play in Mumme's system. After some bad luck, Mullin, who has had to overcome a bout with the Swine Flu and a broken collarbone in his first two seasons of college football, has picked up the Air-Raid scheme quite well. 

"He's really, really good," Mumme told me Thursday morning of the QB with a 20-8 TD-INT ratio and a 66 percent completion mark this fall. "He's got one more year with us, but he's about as good as anybody I ever had."

When Mumme said that, it stunned me to hear the coach make such a statement about the DIII QB when he'd coached, among others, Tim Couch, a guy who was the first pick overall of the NFL draft.

"Jake is great with his feet," Mumme said. "He's probably 6-3, 225, runs about a 4.65 and has real live arm. He is a very accurate deep passer. He can throw the long out from the hash mark which we do a lot. He's a smart kid. He's just gotta learn to be more patient to dump it off because he's so good at spinning out of the pocket and making a play."

Yeah, but as good as Couch?

"I'd hesitate to say that," Mumme said. "With the competition level, it's hard to say that right now, but physically, he's definitely as good."

Word has gotten out. NFL scouts have already been to Abilene to take a look at Mullin, Mumme said. Last week, McMurry beat Texas Lutheran on the road 60-16 with Mullin going 43-57 for 614 yards and four TDs. 

Mullin and the War Hawks will face stiffer competition on 2012 when they move up to D2. They'll play McNeese State and Lamar and several other bigger programs.

Just how much of an issue Mullin's speech impediment may have in pro scouts' eyes remains to be seen. "His really isn't that bad," said Mumme. "When I first met him I actually didn't know he had one. It's more of a stammer than a stutter. He'll probably need some tutoring on that because in our system it's easy with the play calls because the plays are one or two words. In the NFL, it's like 18 words together."

For now, Mumme's just excited about how much better Mullin can get in his system. You can pretty much count on the QB to have a few more days with gaudy stat lines.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Enough with the missed tackles


Our Stats That Matter examines the man behind the most improved unit in college football this season, new Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Under the former Baltimore Ravens DC, the 6-1 Wolverines are eighth in the country in scoring defense, up from 108th last year. Yeah, you could say jumping 100 spots nationally is a remarkable turnaround. It's been a dramatic shift, not just in scheme but in execution for a group that is no longer giving up one big play after another and has been able to avoid surrendering those heart-breaking third-down conversions. Michigan ranked 95th in that in 2010 and is up to a respectable 54th.

Mattison traces that improvement to one of his points of emphasis: cutting down on missed tackles. His barometer: "We want eight or less per game," he said.

The Wolverines are averaging around six missed tackles per game, by the Michigan staff's tabulations. The Wolverines hit Mattison's target in five of their seven games. Not so surprisingly, the Wolverines needed some late-game heroics from quarterback Denard Robinson to overcome a game where they had 11 missed tackles in a 35-31 win over Notre Dame. In Michigan's last time out, a 28-14 loss at Michigan State, UM suffered its first loss after it ended up with three times the number of missed tackles it has averaged this fall.

How did Mattison arrive at the eight missed-tackle benchmark? Of course, he would love to see his team not miss a single tackle over the course of a game, but Mattison says you have to be realistic. The athletes you're trying to defend are so talented, so quick, so strong and so determined that you're almost bound to have at least a few missed tackles in 60 minutes.

For Wolverines fans, watching their defense in recent years had to be excruciating as the team surrendered soul-crushing third-and-long conversions, often due to missed tackles. The Wolverines allowed opponents to convert on a lofty 24 percent on situations of third-and-10 or longer in 2010. Worse still, that number jumped to a staggering 35.4 percent in the second half of the season. This year in the same situations, the number is down to just 8 percent.

When I asked Mattison about the psychological effect of a guy missing a tackle, enabling the defense not to be able to get off the field on a third-and-long, he pointed out even the verbiage of such a question gets to the core of what he's looking to remedy.

"It shouldn't be 'a' guy," Mattison said. "For us, when we came in here, our whole thing was, the players are the players we have. That's it. It's not like the NFL where you can draft somebody or trade somebody. Our whole goal was to get the players that we have on defense to play 'Michigan Defense.' And when we say 'Michigan Defense,' that means it was first, an honor to play for Michigan. And once it was honor to play at Michigan, it became an obligation to play at that standard. That level was established a long time ago. You just had to play up to that level, and that level, in its simplest form, came down to pursuing to the football. You had to play hard on every play. A loaf, or taking a play off or not going hard, was just unacceptable. I think that's something we've really worked hard to try to get back to.

"Along with that, there's a difference between running to the football and burning up calories, and running to the football with an intent of hitting a guy as hard as you can hit him and tackling him.

"If you watch college football, you'll see some teams where guys run real hard and burn up a lot of energy, but they're not going at the right pursuit angles or more importantly, what might've been the case is your secondary doesn't keep the ball inside and in front of them, so what happens is the other seven guys that are running to the football, sooner or later, quit running. But if they know that the ball is corralled, and they know that the secondary is going to keep it in a cup there, then 'I'm going to get a good shot at him if I run to the ball.' And that is something we've tried very hard to establish. You have to keep the ball inside and in front. The biggest reason for giving up big plays is not always missed tackles, it's because there's only one guy trying to make the tackle. But if the corner and the safeties and the other corner all keep it cupped and corralled, then the rest of the team can get there and you have those gang tackles, which keep you from giving up big plays."

Mattison, who replaced Greg Robinson as the Wolverines defensive coordinator in the offseason, tried to steer clear of talking about what may be different scheme-wise or even technique-wise in how the team prepares for gamedays:

"I don't want to talk about anything that was done before. I know what we believe in defensively. You have to keep it inside and in front. There is never, ever an option of not going hard to the football. And the key words are 'to the football' and where the football is going to be. If you see the ball breaks outside and a big lineman is chasing, he's never gonna catch it: 'Don't chase it, cut it off! Go where it's gonna be!' We practice that every single day all the time. Every single practice play if that lineman is not running at an angle where he can go make the play, he is going to hear about it. And if he does it too much, he won't be in there. Our guys have bought into that. They truly understand now that that's how you're supposed to play when you wear the winged helmet on defense."

Toward that end, Mattison has the team tackle live one day of the week in practice. "A lot of teams don't do that," he said. "Every individual drill by position there is a period of tackling that is done one day a week."

Having to cope with someone as elusive and explosive as Robinson and his backup, Devin Gardner, another fleet-footed quarterback, also help condition the Wolverines defense, Mattison says, adding that, "I go home every night and I drop down on my knees and say a little prayer: 'Thank you for not making me play against Denard in a game.'"

It wouldn't seem like a stretch to think all of the preaching about taking proper pursuit angles, running to the football and gang tackling is the reason why Michigan is tied for tops in the country with 14 fumbles recovered. That also comes out of just 16 loose fumbles. Other teams around the Wolverines in that category high in the NCAA rankings actually have a much lower percentage of fumbles recovered. (Last year, the Wolverines were 87th in fumble recoveries with just seven, which came from 12 free footballs.)

Mattison certainly buys the cause-and-effect theory. "Somebody asked me one time, 'Have you guys been really lucky?' Well, I don't ever comment on luck or not lucky, but I think preparation and effort gives you that luck. Over the years, you've seen so many games where somebody decided not to run to the football and the offense fumbles it and that ball is just laying out there. You look at them and say, 'If you'd just would've went harder, you would've gotten that ball.'"

While the true worth of how good this Michigan defense will be revealed over the next month with games remaining against five teams with all winning records, including archrival Ohio State, Mattison is optimistic about the young base of talent he has in Ann Arbor.

"Jake Ryan is a redshirt freshman, who is gonna be a heckuva player and he plays with great effort. Freshman Desmond Morgan is coming on, so is Blake Countess, another freshman. Brandin Hawthorne is also really improving."

The player who seems to have made the biggest impression on him is a former walk-on safety, junior Jordan Kovacs. "When I think of a Michigan football, I think of Jordan Kovacs," Mattison said. "But you have to re-earn it every game to get labeled a Michigan Defensive Player."

There are other defenders on the team who have made some big plays for the Wolverines this year, who Mattison says think they're playing hard, think they playing well, but the 61-year-old coach points out to them that they're playing hard, compared to what? It comes back to the kid not really knowing what he doesn't really know.

Before coaching in the NFL, Mattison had spent five years in Ann Arbor in the mid-'90s, helping lead the Wolverines to a Rose Bowl. He's seen Michigan when it was a Big Ten powerhouse. He's also coached at Notre Dame and worked against the Wolverines when they won a national title. He remembers what made the program special and is convinced it's on the right path to get back to that now under first-year head coach Brady Hoke, a former Wolverines assistant.

"It's like you went back 15 years," says Mattison. "He has done such a fabulous job of instilling all of the pride and all of the tradition that made Michigan great. This guy is perfect for Michigan because of the love and the belief that he has in this program. There is a misconception that I think everybody thought 'They have great players.' Well, there were a lot of really good players, but it's that they played really, really hard and they all played for the team. And Brady has done an unbelievable job of bringing that back."
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Michigan
 
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 11:19 am
 

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

As the BCS races becomes even more frenetic, a handful of other programs are just trying to salvage their seasons for respectability and establish some momentum for the future. Anything they can do in hopes of avoiding a coaching change to get more one season. It's not even Halloween yet and we've already had three head coaches losing their jobs. More turnover is coming. You can count on it. This week's Tuesday Top 10: The 10 coaches on the hottest seats in the FBS:

1. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: The former Bruin standout QB has just not been able to get anything going in four seasons at his alma mater. He has tried virtually everything, from going all-in on the Pistol to turning over his coaching staff last off-season. But it's just not working out. On paper, he has recruited very well with three top-15 ranked classes in his first three seasons, however all he has to show for it is a record of 18-26 overall and 10-20 in league play. The most frustrating part for Bruin fans is that there has been opportunity to benefit from instability across town with USC coping with massive NCAA sanctions.

As I wrote in the Friday mailbag after the Bruins' dreadful performance on national television in their blowout loss to a reeling Arizona squad, UCLA still has a chance to win the Pac-12 South if it runs the table. But that seems like such a long shot after seeing its most recent showing that leads you to believe they are incapable of running off five consecutive wins. (Four of which would come against teams better than Arizona.) In fact, you wonder if they're even capable of winning three of those games to finish .500.

2. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss:
The pressure is clearly wearing on Nutt. Over the weekend, he lit into a reporter at a post-game press conference because the guy had predicted the Rebels were going to get blown out by Arkansas. The Rebels squandered a 17-0 lead, but "only" lost 29-24, stretching the program's losing streak in SEC play to 10 games, an Ole Miss record for futility. It was the first time in four tries that Nutt's team hadn't lost a conference game by at least two touchdowns. Then again, a few weeks earlier, that same reporter, Neil McCready, a writer for the local Rivals Ole Miss site, had predicted the Rebels would get thumped by Alabama. They did. Nutt never said anything about that. Earlier this season, Ole Miss got crushed by Vandy in a way the Commodores never beat another SEC program.

Nutt got off to a terrific start in Oxford with the Rebels winning nine games in each of his first two seasons, but recruiting has not gone so well and that has caught up with the former Arkansas coach. The talent level has fallen off. He's 1-12 in his past 13 SEC games and he may not even match last season's total of four wins. The Rebels are 116th in the total offense and 110th in total defense. It would cost the school at least $6 million to dump Nutt, but don't be surprised if both he and his AD Pete Boone both get the boot this year. It's gotten that ugly in Oxford.

3. Neil Callaway, UAB: Thanks to a big upset win over UCF last week, Callaway's team has finally gotten its first win of 2011, and with Memphis and FAU remaining, a 3-9 season is within reach. However in Year Five for him at the school, it'd seem like a mighty long shot that would be good enough. The Blazers are 118th in scoring and 95th in defense. Callaway is 16-43 all-time at UAB.

4. Paul Wulff, Washington State: The Cougars jumped out to a 3-1 start albeit those three wins did come against teams that are a combined 4-18, they have lost a lot of steam. They've been blown out the past two weeks, first by Stanford and then by an Oregon State team that came in 1-5. Wulff may need to win three of his next five to keep his job, and two of those are against ranked teams. The finale at Washington figures to be crucial for a guy who has seen his program getting a lot better over the past two years. Still, he is only 8-37.

5. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State:  He got off to a nice start, going to and winning a bowl game in his rookie season. Since then, its been really shaky. Fairchild's just 3-15 in the past three years of league play and 3-4 overall this year, and on a three-game losing streak. Worse still, one of those losses came against arch-rival CU, which is the Buffs (1-7) lone win this year. With five games remaining, but only one is against a team with a losing record (1-5 UNLV), Fairchild probably needs an upset or two to feel some security. Keep in mind this is a program that only had four losing seasons in 16 years under Sonny Lubick.

6. Tom O'Brien, N.C. State: The Pack just got a big road win at Virginia, which has to help O'Brien's prospects. With dismal Maryland and his former school BC still remaining on the schedule, he has a very good shot to get this team to a bowl game, but even that might not be enough. He is just 15-20 in ACC play and generating only one winning season out of five may be a tough sell for the NCSU brass to buy that he's the right guy to lead the program to bigger things.

7. Larry Porter, Memphis: It's hard to dump a guy after just two seasons, but Porter is dangling after a brutal first year and some stunning blowout losses, including a 47-3 loss to Arkansas State and 28-6 loss to a Rice team that is 2-5. Porter, though, got a much-needed W last week when the Tigers beat a Tulane team that just got rid of its head man Bob Toledo. The Tigers still have a home game with UAB remaining, so even though 3-9 sounds horrible, it may show enough growth for him to get a third season.

8. Frank Spaziani, Boston College:
The Eagles have been solid for decades and haven't won less than seven games since 1998, but they have really dropped off since Spaziani took over in 2009. BC had won 30 games the previous three seasons before he was elevated to head coach. Since then, it's been eight wins, seven wins and now they'll be fortunate to win three this season. Spaziani's career record is over .500 (17-16) but can he survive a horrible 2011, where BC is 1-7 and hasn't beaten an FBS program yet?

9. Turner Gill, Kansas: After doing a nice job at Buffalo, where he won a MAC championship, Gill is off to a disastrous start at KU. He's 1-11 in his first 12 Big 12 games and just 5-14 overall. Jayhawk fans left a lot of seats in last week's big rivalry game for K-State fans who watched the Wildcats smash KU, 59-21. They've been outscored in conference play by an average of 32 ppg. They're on a five-game losing streak, which could double by season's end with a trip to Iowa State being their best bet to end the skid.

10. Robb Akey, Idaho:
After leading the Vandals to a Humanitarian Bowl win in 2009, the program has backslide again, going 7-13 the past two years and winning just three league games.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com