Category:NCAAF
Posted on: September 10, 2008 12:37 am
Edited on: September 11, 2008 12:06 pm
 

National notes

Following up on Sunday's blog: How hot is Skip Holtz? So hot that if polls were released today, the East Carolina coach's program could make a heck of an argument for being No. 1. What other schools at this point have defeated two top 20 teams that won their 
conferences last season?

So hot that agents are going to start lining up hoping to be hired.

Holtz is a unique kind of "free agent". Despite having just signed a six-year extension before the season, he does 
not have a traditional agent, choosing to work closely with his boss AD Terry Holland. His buyout, only $150,000 in 
his old deal, wouldn't scare away a school trying to hire him away.

"I'm pretty much old fashioned," Holtz told me last week. "The AD hired me, we can work on a handshake. When I need 
an agent to go in there and start negotiating I've got a problem."

It's a problem he might like to have. Holtz's next job could be a lifestyle changer. Coaches have cashed in on less 
than Holtz has accomplished just this season.

"His market value is definitely on the rise," said Matt Baldwin, a senior associate in client management with IMG 
Coaches in Minneapolis. "I think he'd be a fantastic client."

IMG is the worldwide conglomerate specializing in representation and marketing. Prior to the latest extension Holtz 
was making only $4.35 million over five seasons. His new deal guarantees $1.16 million per season. The old contract 
included modest bonuses for tickets sold and for more than five conference victories per season.

Holtz's name value alone should net him some offers after the season. The problem is there don't figure to be many 
high-profile openings. Michigan, West Virginia and UCLA all have new coaches. The only sure openings seem to be 
coming at Washington and Syracuse.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is said to be interested in Washington. With the Syracuse situation deteriorating 
rapidly, AD Daryl Gross might have difficultly landing a major-program head coach to replace Greg Robinson.

If you really want to speculate how about Louis J. (Skip) Holtz Jr. at Notre Dame some day? The former Irish walk-on 
 played for his father in 1986.

 Speaking of Leach, even he thought he was crazy Saturday against Nevada going for it twice inside his own 30. The Red Raiders failed to convert each time.

 

"I thought I gambled stupid and it was just dumb," Leach said. "Being in Reno, I guess I got the bug. I was stuck in a hotel where you don't have any clocks and they were pumping oxygen in there. I thought it was my lucky day."

 Beanie Wells is playing Saturday in The Cage Match In The Coliseum. What did you expect? You know my feelings.

 Washington's Ty Willingham seemingly changed his stance since Saturday when he supported the official who threw 
that horrid excessive celebration against his team:

"I think we all know that it was not the right call. There are rules written for them to use discretion, and in this 
case we didn't do that. Proper judgment was not used. That was not an act of a young man taunting, not an 
unsportsmanlike act at all, and therefore it should have been viewed in its totality and not just isolated as to the 
letter of the law."

Reaction around the country varied widely ...

Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt: "At the staff meeting this morning we talked about that. I'm going to show our team 
that clip and reiterate what the rules are. My initial reaction was shock. I had to see it again to see what the 
penalty was. But when you read the rule book...the official had the right to throw the flag. Did I think it was 
right? I didn't think there was any taunting going on. I know what the rule is. The official made the call that way 
but there's a gray area that needs to be talked about.

Connecticut's Randy Edsall: "I don't know why everybody got upset. It's a rule. It's simply stated in the rulebook. 
If you score, hand the ball to the nearest official. I don't know why everybody is getting upset with the officials. 
The official had no other option but to throw the flag. If he doesn't then he has a problem. The guy was doing his 
job. The kid was wrong, didn't mean it intentionally but that's part of the rule."

 Sebastian the Ibis wasn't the only one with ruffled feathers after Florida kicked that late field goal against 
Miami on Saturday night. The Gators led 23-3 with less than a minute left when Urban Meyer called for a 29-yard field goal to make the 
final score 26-3. It seemed inconsequential at the time. But it was clear after the game that the Canes were upset 
that Florida was trying to run up the score.

Coach Randy Shannon issued a terse "no comment" when asked about it. Offensive lineman Jason Fox said "If I did 
(comment), I'd probably get in trouble."

Shannon later said: "Sometimes when you do things and people see what kind of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off.

A person in the office had an interesting thought -- that it was done intentionally to cover the spread, which was 21 
1/2 points. I won't go that far. To me, it was more of a reminder that Florida is Miami's, er, witch and will stay 
that way for some time. Miami had beaten Florida six consecutive times dating back to 1985.

These things always get blown out of proportion when a rivalry is involved. It is ironic, though, that Florida coach 
Urban Meyer famously stated in his book that Georgia's bum rush of the field in Jacksonville was "a bad deal."

" ... It will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team ... We'll handle it."

 Parity? What parity? The three power conferences -- Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC -- went a combined 30-1 over the weekend. The only slacker was Ole Miss which lost to Wake Forest on a late field goal.

The Big 12 enjoyed it first 12-0 week with the WAC On Steroids continuing its offensive assault. Oklahoma State became the first team in conference history to have a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in one game (a 56-37 victory over Houston). That has been only four times in history.

The rusher was Kendall Hunter (210 yards), the receiver Dez Bryant (236 yards), the passer Zac Robinson (320 yards). The Cowboys seemingly haven't missed offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, now the head coach at South Miss. The Cowboys were eighth nationally last season in total offense averaging more than 200 yards each in rushing and passing. This year's group is 12th, once again averaging 200-200.

 In that 12-0 sweep, the Big 12 scored 71 touchdowns, 33 passing, 27 rushing and 11 on defense or special teams. The touchdown passes averaged 25 yards, the scoring runs averaged 11 yards.

 

Big 12 quarterbacks had a great "season" completing 250 of 365 for 3,475 yards and 39 touchdowns (only eight interceptions).

 The thinnest position at Utah is now thinner. Kyle Whittingham has lost starting defensive tackles at the same 
position -- with the same injury! -- in consecutive weeks. Kenape Eliapo broke his foot in the opener against 
Michigan (out six-to-eight weeks). Lei Talamaivao replaced Eliapo and broke HIS foot Saturday against UNLV.

 Nebraska linebacker Barry Turner's season is over after suffering a broken leg against San Jose State. That 
reminds us of his quote from the preseason on how much he loves playing at Nebraska.

"Once we lose a game shops close, people are sad, divorces go up. There's no other place I'd want to play."

 West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said there is a future after Saturday's loss to East Carolina: "Jesus, Mary and 
Joseph, yes. It's only the second game of the season."

 Through two games Texas Tech has seven rushing touchdowns and only two passing. In the prior two seasons, Tech has 
scored 90 passing touchdowns and 31 rushing.

 The most brutal loss last week? I can't even begin to describe it. Read on.


Posted on: September 7, 2008 4:31 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2008 4:44 pm
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

Six shopping days left until Ohio State-USC. A quick breakdown ...

USC offense: Mark Sanchez looks comfortable and with that rocket arm should have a big day in the Coliseum. The 
Trojans receivers won't have it as easy as they did against Virginia. The multi-headed running back combo might be 
the toughest group Ohio State will see all season.

USC defense:  This might be the unit that wins it for USC. This game is what Pete Carroll has been scheming for all offseason. Ohio State must win the line of scrimmage. It won't.

Ohio State defense: It played when it had to against Ohio. Disinterested most of the game, this group will be at its peak against USC. It must get a rush on Sanchez going against a still-suspect USC line. The veteran defensive 
backfield must create cover sacks.

Ohio State offense: I'm convinced Jim Tressel used about three plays against Ohio, trying to save everything for the Trojans. It's clear that Terrelle Pryor is going to have to have an impact. Todd Boeckman is a sitting duck for 
USC's ferocious front seven. Pryor is the X factor who creates space especially if Wells isn't 100 percent.

Call it 20-17 USC but that is subject to change.

 Two people have stopped West Virginia's Patrick White lately -- Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt and Mountaineers'  coach Bill Stewart. Wannstedt did it last December by stacking the box and daring White to throw. Stewart did it 
Saturday against East Carolina by continuing to try to make White a pocket passer. That played into the Pirates' 
hands. Instead of stacking the box, they were dropped seven and eight players into coverage.

 There is no such official designation but we'll do it here. East Carolina's Skip Holtz is officially the hottest  coach in the country after his team's 24-3 victory. No team has accomplished more than the Pirates who have beaten 
two ranked BCS conference opponents.

Holtz doesn't have an agent but he might have to hire one. Based on his 2-0 start, he will be able to have his pick 
of any open job in the country after this season. The early line: Washington is too far West. Holtz would like to 
stay in the South or the East Coach. The Syracuse opening would get him into a BCS conference but does he really 
want to go to Syracuse? The job is a coach killer.

 Syracuse opening? Come on, get real. Greg Robinson is now 7-30 at the Cuse after losing to Akron.

 Paul Johnson might have found a quarterback and the ACC might have found a favorite. Georgia Tech's 19-16 victory  at Boston College was one of the more impressive of the day. Yellow Jackets Josh Nesbitt, while not the perfect 
option quarterback (123 yards total offense), looks like he is going to be at least serviceable. Nesbitt was clutch 
in the fourth quarter rallying Tech from a 16-10 deficit. 


 Feel good for Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson. The Commodores are 2-0 after beating South Carolina on Thursday night. 
More importantly, Vandy won its SEC opener and looks like it, maybe -- maybe -- has turned the corner.

Johnson has had bigger victories -- beating then-No. 6 South Carolina last season comes to mind -- but this was 
supposed to be a rebuilding year. Then again every year at Vanderbilt is a rebuilding year. Johnson lost 
All-American receiver Earl Bennett. His quarterback, Chris Nixson, is not Jay Cutler.

 Junior college transfer Chris Todd might have won the quarterback job at Auburn. Todd threw for 248 yards (21 of  31) against Southern Miss in his first start.

 

 The schedule lines up nicely for LSU now that Gustav has intervened.

Playing Troy on Nov. 15 instead of on Saturday now means that LSU plays five home games in five weeks from Oct. 25 
through Nov. 22. The most significant thing for the Tigers is the loss of a bye week between Alabama on Nov. 8 and 
Ole Miss on Nov. 22. LSU still has eight home games this season, only three of them before Oct. 25.

 Some talking head suggested Saturday that the recent problems at Penn State (2-0 after beating beating Oregon  State 45-14) should be blamed on the players. Huh? Dude, this is why these coaches are paid millions of dollars, to  make sure the players don't rob banks or blow hippie lettuce. It's ultimately up to the coach to recruit kids of 
character.

Boys will be boys, sure, but what's happening at Penn State would be a national scandal if it was anyone else but 
Joe Paterno as coach. It's funny that other programs have leadership from its veteran players. Paterno had to 
suspend three of his senior guys last week a couple of weeks after ESPN portrayed the dearth of the off-field 
problems. Is it possible that in his zeal to win, JoePa took some chances on kids of questionable character?

 One reason why the ACC is struggling. Prior to Florida State opening the season Saturday against Western Carolina, the 11 other ACC teams had averaged 14.6 players seeing action in their first college game. Thirteen FSU players  were expected to make their first career start against the Catamounts. Twenty-eight freshman played mostly because 
more than a dozen Seminoles were sitting out due to academic or disciplinary reasons.

 Southeast Missouri State coach Tony Samuel on playing body bag games (The school got $250,000 to play at  Missouri): "Anytime you put 85 scholarships against 63, or the No. 6 team in the nation against us, it's a tough 
call. But it is what it is, and for us if this was the NFL this would be a preseason game."

 Georgia coach Mark Richt on deciding to redshirt his stud running back Knowshon Moreno in 2006: "That wasn't real  smart on my part. I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was that good."

 Ohio State receiver Brain Hartline on the effort against Ohio: "That was pathetic. It was a pathetic performance. 
OU should've won the game. I don't know how we came out with it."

 Heisman Watch: 1, Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (five touchdowns and a career-best 395 yards vs. Cincinnati); 2, Knowshon  Moreno, Georgia (168 yards and career-best tying three touchdowns vs. Central Michigan); 3. Juice Williams, Illinois  (quarterback school-record 174 rushing yards vs. Eastern Illinois).

 Top five non-BCS schools: 1, East Carolina; 2, BYU; 3, Utah; 4, Fresno State; 5, Tulsa.

 Think it isn't a rivalry now? After having 62 hung on it by South Florida last season, Central Florida lost to the Bulls 31-24 in overtime. The game marked the end of the current series for the schools approximately 100 miles apart. There are those already clamoring for a new series.

 

 A former high-ranking White House official in the Florida press box on Saturday had this advice for the Democratic party: Ignore Sarah Palin's rising superstar status with the Republicans and concentrate on your own superstar,  Obama.

 Radio recommendation: Indie 103.1 this weekend in L.A. if you're going to the Ohio State game ... Restaurant  recommendation: Ballyhoo Grill in Gainesville. Try the grouper fish tacos.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 6, 2008 5:52 pm
 

First look at USC-Ohio State

It's looking more and more like the most important player for Ohio State headed into USC isn't Beanie Wells. It's Terrelle Pryor.

Either Jim Tressel was trying sneak Pryor through Ohio without giving the Trojans a good look or the kid was somehow hurt. And trust me, he wasn't hurt. In two quiet series, Pryor rushed five times for 37 yards (zero for two passing).

It's not like the Buckeyes couldn't have used him. Todd Boeckman struggled mightily at times either finding his recievers or getting his feet set behind a sometimes shaky offensive line. Boeckman also had several passes dropped. In the end, he did not look like a quarterback ready to go into the Coliseum and beat the Trojans.

Tailbacks Brandon Saine, Maurice Wells and Dan Herron are nice guys and OK runners, but they're not ready to punk the Trojans either. That brings us back to Pryor. He is the X factor next week. There's no doubt Tressel needs Wells to be healthy and play well, but conventional weapons might be useless against this USC defense. Boeckman is a stationary target.

 Paul Johnson might have found a quarterback and the ACC might have found a favorite. Georgia Tech's 19-16 victory at Boston College was one of the more impressive of the day. Yellow Jackets Josh Nesbitt, while not the perfect option quarterback (123 yards total offense), looks like he is going to be at least serviceable. Nesbitt was clutch in the fourth quarter rallying Tech from a 16-10 deficit. 

 

 

Posted on: September 3, 2008 2:27 pm
 

National notes

It's early but the NCAA rules committee has seemingly gotten it right with the new timing rules.

Through the first weekend, teams are averaging 68.6 plays per game, down only 3.3375 plays per team from last season (6.6675 total per game). That's tolerable because the loss of plays is minimal and, despite that, scoring is up. 
Again, it's early but teams are averaging 30.84 points per game. If it holds up that would break last season's record of 
28.38 points per team.

The big difference is in length of game. So far games have lasted only 3 hours, 8 minutes on average. That's down 
from 3:22 last season. I've taken my shots at the rules committee in the past as being too meddling. So far its 
"fixes" have worked.  After covering two games I haven't noticed the quality or the pace of the game being disturbed.

 Everyone seems to be bashing the ACC, but what about the Big East? It went 4-4 in the opening weekend, including 
embarrassing losses by Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Louisville and Syracuse. Yes, Louisville and Syracuse. The Cardinals 
losing to Kentucky is no surprise but being run out of its own building is disgraceful. A lot of us thought the 
Orange would show better against Northwestern but Syracuse lost by 20.

 

Quoting comedian Jay Mohr: "Is that a football conference or France?"

Six of the seven teams in action this week are favored (Tennessee Tech-Louisville is off the board but we're still 
assuming the Cardinals as a favorite):

Upset alerts: Watch for West Virginia (-8) going to East Carolina and Pittsburgh (-13) at home against Buffalo. 

Also watch for Cincinnati (+21 1/2) traveling to Oklahoma. Bearcats coach Brian Kelly says this game is a measuring stick for the Big East 
season. Don't be surprised if the Bearcats play this one a lot closer than anticipated.

 This might be the mantra for the season: "The little guys are tired of being the little guys and the big guys are 
getting a little fat." That's Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater to The Sporting News after beating Rutgers. 
Not sure if Rutgers qualifies yet was one of the big guys getting fat but the quote works for me.

 

 That was Fresno's 13th victory since 2001 over a BCS conference school.

 

 Iowa State used 11 true freshmen in its season-opening win against South Dakota State. Not a big deal until you 
consider that the 11 accounted for 26 of the Cyclones' 44 points.

 


Posted on: September 2, 2008 7:25 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2008 2:18 pm
 

The pollsters get a conscience

In the old days -- OK, 2006 -- the major pollsters fell in line like those lemming Obama supporters.

If USC was No. 1 -- as it was in AP for 32 consecutive weeks from the end of 2003 to the last regular-season poll of 2005 -- then, well, by God that's where it stayed no matter what. What I'm trying to say here is that there isn't much original thought in the human polls. Check the Harris polls. Instead of voting in the moment, the BCS pollsters who debut in October usually fall in line with what the AP and coaches are spewing at the moment.

That's why Tuesday was somewhat of a big day in the polling business. USC jumped Georgia for the No. 1 in both major polls after one week of play for no apparent reason. The Trojans punched a punchless Virginia. Georgia ripped Georgia Southern. Ohio State, which fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in AP, pimp slapped Youngstown State.

Really, I didn't see much difference in quality in the opponent except that the Trojans traveled across the country to play a real, live BCS team. Call it the frequent flyer advantage. USC picked up nine more first-place votes and 49 points overall in going from third to first in AP. It also picked nine first-place votes in the coaches' poll outpointing Georgia 32-4.

That last time something like this happened, No. 2 LSU lept over No. 1 USC in the AP poll of Sept. 30, 2007. That week the Trojans won at Washington 27-24. Meanwhile, LSU beat Tulane in New Orleans, 34-9.

Maybe the pollsters couldn't stand Georgia getting another injury. Maybe USC looked that good. The latest shift seemed to be a reaction to some of these powers playing body bag games. Suddenly, the pollsters have a concscience. What a concept! This is what poll critics wanted, now they've got it.

Here's the preseason AP top 5 fared

1. Georgia beat I-AA Georgia Southern and fell to second losing two first-place votes and 22 points overall.

2. Ohio State beat I-AA Youngstown State and fell to third losing six first-place votes and nine points overall.

3. USC beat Virginia and went to No. 1 picking up nine first-place votes and 49 points overall.

4. Oklahoma beat I-AA Chattanooga and stayed in fourth losing two first-place votes and 12 points overall.

5. Florida beat Hawaii and stayed in fifth losing one first-place vote. Its point total stayed the same.

--If you were dialing into the George O'Leary's weekly teleconference with reporters at Central Florida on Monday, you got a phone sex hotline.

"Hi sexy you've reached the one-on-one fantasy line."

Insert your punch line containing the words "spread option", "deep coverage" here.

 

Oh, by the way, it was a mistake. An SID entered the wrong phone number for reporters to dial in on.

 

--Glad to see Frank Beamer see the light. Dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor will play this week against Furman. Taylor was a candidate for a redshirt until Sean Glennon showed against East Carolina that he wasn't ready to fully lead the Hokies.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: August 31, 2008 5:39 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2008 8:53 pm
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

As long as I'm piling on the ACC couldn't resist this one ...

Well, it's not an ACC error per se but why not kick a mediocre league while it's down. It seems that Duke officials 
were shocked when parachutists descended into Wallace Wade Stadium with the game ball about an hour before Saturday's 
James Madison game. One problem. Duke hadn't ordered a game ball. However, North Carolina, eight miles away, did.

 Will we look back on this as the football equivalent of The Beatles playing the Cavern Club? In other words, the 
modest beginning for a monster talent? Terrelle Pryor looked more than capable in his career debut against 
Youngstown State, 35 yards passing, 52 yards rushing and a touchdown.

 

For up-to-the-minute updates go to Pryor's 24-hour webcam. You've got to see the archived stuff of him having the 
Caesar salad for lunch on Friday. Classic.

 Appalachian State won! The third quarter, 7-3 over LSU.

 

 Nothing like patience. This from a Detroit columnist: "(Michigan quarterback) Steven Threet needs to start based on his performance 
(against Utah)." After watching that mess in The Big House does it matter?

 

 Hawaii AD Jim Donovan is a smart, smart man. There are no more SEC teams on the Warriors schedule for the 
foreseeable future. The last two outings against the SEC have resulted in combined losses of 97-20 to Georgia and 
Florida.

 

 If you want to put a new name atop the hot seat list, feel free to add San Diego State's Chuck Long. We did get 
our designated I-AA upset late Saturday although it wasn't the earth shaker you might think. Cal Poly beat the Aztecs 
for the second time in three seasons. This time it was 29-27. A San Diego columnist the program "reached the bottom of its existence."

 

 Big 12 starting quarterbacks threw a combined 20 touchdown passes on Saturday. That's an average of 2.2 per man without two of the  nine starters throwing for a score. The breakdown:  Kansas' Todd Reesing (three), Missouri's Chase Daniel (three), Nebraska's Joe Ganz (four), Kansas State's Josh Freeman  (three), Texas' Colt McCoy (three), Texas' A&M Stephen McGee (none), Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (two), Oklahoma State's Zac  Robinson (none) and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (two).

 


 Five years ago to the day Dennis Franchione started his Texas A&M career with a 26-11 victory over Arkansas State. 
Franchione's replacement, Mike Sherman,wasn't so fortunate losing to the Red Wolves 18-14 in his first game as 
Aggies' coach. The usually staid Associated Press called it "one of the most embarrassing losses in A&M history."  


 Nebraska recovered a fumble against Western Michigan. That brings the Huskers to one-third of their total for all 
of 2007.


 Pittsburgh is now 5-13 since starting 6-1 in 2006. 

 How important are those Virginia Tech special teams? Huge. The Hokies had won 17 consecutive games when blocking a 
kick. Ironically, East Carolina's T.J. Lee blocked a punt and scored the game-winning touchdown in a 27-22 Pirates' 
victory. East Carolina became the only team below the BCS level that beat a top 20 team. The other teams 
with a win over top 20 wins on Saturday were Missouri and Alabama.

 

The Pirates became the first Conference USA team to beat back-to-back ranked teams. They had defeated Boise State in 
last year's Hawaii Bowl. That says more about Conference USA than it does East Carolina. Conference USA is 13 years 
old.

 Injury watch: Georgia's monster defensive tackle Jeff Owens is out for the season with a knee. How many more injuries can UGA stand?...There are varying reports about the severity of Jeremy Maclin's injury late Saturday. Missouri's all-purpose 
king apparently twisted an ankle (X-rays were negative).

 

 Novenas are being said in Columbus for tailback Beanie Wells. Ohio State's tailback has some sort of right foot 
problem. Again, X-rays were negative. Even if he is 100 percent look for Jim Tressel to seriously limiting Wells' 
playing time this week against Ohio. The Bucks need him healthy for USC in two weeks. We should know something on Monday.

 

 Most impressive on opening weekend? It had to be USC which slapped around Virginia. Pete Carroll looked like he 
was sandbagging us during the preseason. Three weeks after dislocating his knee, quarterback Mark Sanchez looks 
ready and able to become the new Leinart after throwing for a career-high 338 yards.

 

"Everything happened just right," Carroll said. "Too bad we let them score."


 If you're looking ahead to Tennessee-UCLA on Monday night consider UCLA's Kevin Craft. The juco transfer 
quarterback faces some uphill odds. The last juco transfer qb to lead a team to a Pac-10 title was USC's Tim Green in 
1984.

 Hurricane Gustav's impact is being felt all the way to Alabama. Tulane has already gone threat ahead of the storm 
in preparations for this week's game at Alabama. Troy goes over to LSU in a game that could be a prime candidate for 
cancellation. The Category 3 storm is expected to hit Louisiana on Monday.

 

 OK, so there is no Terrelle Pryor 24-hour webcam but if you got down this far believing it, gotcha!

 


Posted on: August 29, 2008 9:31 am
 

Opening night thoughts

A lot of mediocre-to-bad football Thursday night. Some observations:

 It's going to be a long season for North Carolina State, 34-0 losers to South Carolina. Even with quarterback Russell Wilson, who was carted off the field with a concussion, the Wolfpack struggled to score points. You can see why 2007 incumbent Daniel Evans couldn't keep the job. When he replaced Wilson, the offense went from unproductive to putrid.

 


 The most impressive NC State player to me was Nate Irving, a redshirt sophomore linebacker who seemed to be in on every tackle. The Wolfpack did intercept four Tommy Beecher passes which might say more about South Carolina's offense than NC State's defense.


 Kirby Freeman went from Miami to Baylor to bench. After the quarterback's celebrated transfer from Coral Gables, 
he couldn't even make it through the first half against Wake Forest. Coach Art Briles kept his starter a secret up 
until kickoff. Why? Baylor just might have itself a quarterback of the future in true freshman Robert Griffin. The 
big-time recruit replaced the stiff, laconic Freeman and led the Bears to their only two scores. Not bad for a 
native of Japan. (His dad was military)

Briles is evaluating his options for next week against Northwestern State. Again, why? Let Griffin take this sunken ship over and try to raise it.

 Alphonso Smith is the truth. Wake Forest's preseason All-American corner is all that. He had an interception and 
tipped away a pass in the end zone in the first half. The Human Turnover Machine (12 by himself last season) has 15 
career interceptions.

 

 Wow, what was the deal with the Stanford crowd? I know it was a Thursday night in Palo Alto -- usually Pinochle night in P.A. -- but this was the season opener (against Oregon State). The announced crowd was 30,223 in 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium. That seemed very charitable.

 

 This is a sign of inexperience: Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao "threw" a safety. That's hard to do. Moevao 
dropped back from deep in his own territory to throw a swing pass. It was actually a backward pass that passed through the end zone and went out of bounds. The Beavers turned it over three times (five fumbles, one lost) in a 36-28 loss to the Cardinal.

 

 By the way what is Oregon State doing opening the season on the road against two BCS conference opponents? It goes 
to Penn State next week.

 

 My opening-night hero is Stanford's Toby Gerhart. Returning from a torn PCL he ran for 147 yards against the Beavs (No. 1 against the rush D in 2007). Not a huge deal, I just can't remember the last time a tailback of any substance was named Toby.

 


 Good luck to Ryan Perrilloux. His numbers were nice -- 203 yards in total offense -- but Georgia Tech was never 
threatened in a 41-14 victory over Jacksonville State. The opponent was only I-AA but Paul Johnson's triple option 
produced 349 rushing yards.


Posted on: August 27, 2008 3:56 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2008 9:42 am
 

Who's No. 26?

Utah didn't make the cut, not in my preseason top 25 which debuted on Wednesday.

Being No. 26, though, is no disgrace. To explain Utah's absence I have to both disparage and praise the Utes. In one sense they are -- next to BYU -- the non-BCS team most likely to play in the Orange Bowl. That's part of the problem, though -- their proximity to BYU, both physically and in the polls.

My No. 12 Cougars are darn good, put in the vernacular you'd likely hear on the Provo campus. BYU is quickly getting back to the days of Lavell Edwards under fourth-year coach Bronco Mendenhall. It has the roster and the schedule to go undefeated.

One thing to remember, though. BYU finishes the season on Nov. 22 at Utah. That might mean a little something, certainly something more than the Mountain West title.

This comes down to the Cougars having a slightly better roster. BYU has Arizona State transfer Max Hall at quarterback. Utah has senior Brian Johnson who has been around so long, I can remember him as a freshman in 2004 under Urban Meyer. Johnson is athletic, running an offense similar to the spread option Alex Smith ran under Meyer.

We'll find out if Utah is any good right off the bat. It plays at Michigan on Saturday. I'm shocked to see that the Wolverines are a 3 1/2-point favorite. Utah has a better team, more experienced. Michigan has the home field, such as it is.

Utah's season hinges on that trip to Ann Arbor. It can lose but I see nothing on the schedule before the BYU game that will cause pollsters and/or computers to take notice.

Why No. 26? Before the Utes get to November, they have to take care of August.


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