Tag:UCLA
Posted on: October 3, 2009 7:57 pm
 

The luck of the Irish and other storylines...

Someone please tell me I didn't see Robert Hughes' knee touch on that Notre Dame two-point conversion.

Someone please tell me the replay officials didn't even think to review it.

Someone please tell me that wasn't the difference in the game aka, the luck of the Irish in South Bend.

If you haven't seen it, you will. Hughes is the Notre Dame running back who "scored" on a two-point conversion run to make it 30-27 Irish over Washington with 1:20 left. Washington then drove down and kicked what should have been the game-winning field goal with 11 seconds left. Because of the supposed officiating glitch, the field goal only tied it.

Notre Dame won in overtime 37-30 to keep its season alive.

Hughes scored on a straight run up the middle. It was one of those deals where he kept churning his feet and the mob moved toward the goal line. But the replays seem to show Hughes' knee touching before he crosses the goal line.

Washington can make as big a deal as it wants out of this. ND is either the luckiest team in the country or destined for greatness. It has no defense to speak of. Jake Locker was great most of the game, but had one dropped in overtime that would have given the Huskies a first down on third and 19 from the ND 34.

Notre Dame (4-1) is either a last-second loss at Michigan from being undefeated or a three plays from being 1-4. Remember Michigan State and Purdue?

In other action today the top of the Big Ten looks strange with both Wisconsin and Iowa undefeated. Yes, that suddenly is a huge game two weeks from now -- Hawkeyes at Badgers. But first, Iowa goes to Ohio State and Michigan goes to Iowa next week.

Wow, it's suddenly fun to follow the Big Ten again.

Stanford is the first 3-0 team in the Pac-10 (4-1 overall) after beating UCLA.

LSU set up its showdown with Florida by squeaking out a 20-13 win at Georgia. Dawg fans no doubt will be all over the coordinators again but I don't know if Georgia could have played any harder. Charles Scott came out of a season-long funk to score the game winner on a long run.

Nice Oct. 10 looming. Alabama at Ole Miss while LSU is at Florida in a, gulp, night game. The last time the teams played in Baton Rouge, there were 50,000 people outside Tiger Stadium without tickets whooping it up. I'm going to have to leave on Tuesday to get to B.R. on time.

Watch for me on CBS College Sports next Saturday from Tiger Town.

Now it's on to Oklahoma-Miami.

Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:14 am
Edited on: September 30, 2009 8:10 pm
 

National notes 1/4 of the way through the season

The best of September

Who would have thought by the end of the month …: USC would lose to Washington a week after a heart-stopping, game-winning drive at Ohio State? [Ok, maybe by now there are a few of you.] … Unranked the preseason, the Big East would have two marquee teams – Cincinnati and South Florida … Houston would have the best Big 12 record [2-0 after beating Oklahoma State and Texas Tech] … Two Heisman winners would be knocked out of games … NC State’s Russell Wilson would have a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 29-1 … Auburn’s Chris Todd would lead the SEC in touchdown passes [11] … Not that the SEC would have three teams in the top 10 in total defense but the Pac-10 would have two … The only three teams yet to allow a touchdown pass would be winless Eastern Michigan, undefeated South Florida and USC [3-1].

Coach of the month: Oregon’s Chip Kelly. On the night of September 3, his world was falling apart. LeGarrette Blount threw a punch and almost started a riot after Oregon looked punchless losing its season opener to Boise State.

Almost four weeks later, the Ducks might be the team to beat in the Pac-10. They have won three in a row, two over ranked teams and have a new lean-on tailback in redshirt freshman LaMichael James.

Team of the month: Miami. Playing September schedule in the country, the Hurricanes beat two ranked teams [Florida State, Georgia Tech] and showed signs of being its old self. Losing to Oklahoma this week wouldn’t be a disgrace. Coming out its death march 2-2 could be a jumping off point for an ACC title.

Also considered: Texas A&M, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Florida, Stanford, UCLA, Idaho.

Player of the month: [tie] You’re gagging on this by now but Florida would not not undefeated with Tim Tebow. His 24 rushes for 76 yards against Tennessee on Sept. 19 were the difference.

LSU safety Chad Jones is this season’s Charles Woodson. Against Mississippi State on Saturday, he single-handedly stopped Tyson Lee on back-to-back plays inches from the goal line. He also provided the eventual game-winning 93-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Worst conference: Based on previous accomplishments, it’s the MAC. The nation’s largest conference [13 teams] has only one team with a winning record coming out of September. [Central Michigan, 3-1]. The league is 13-29 in the non-conference, 7-27 against I-A competition and 3-19 against BCS conferences.

Best conference: SEC by a hair. The Big 12 has six ranked teams vs. the SEC’s four. But the SEC is 23-2 in the non-conference, a national best 6-2 against BCS conferences.

If you think the SEC has padded its schedule with I-AA teams, actually only the Sun Belt and Pac-10 have played fewer games against “inferior” competition. The SEC is 5-0 against I-AAs. The Big 12 is 9-0. Almost a third of its non-cons have come against I-AAs.

Best trend: Smaller offensive linemen. Boise has been doing it for a while but the Broncos are soaring toward a BCS berth with a line that averages 285 pounds. Remember those hog mollies at Michigan? They weigh in at a svelte average of 295 under Rich Rod who likes ‘em lighter and lively.

Worst trend: This month it had to be the coaches’ poll. It went into the season not exactly on the same page with the BCS commissioners. As long as the coaches are going to go completely  underground [hiding all their ballots] beginning in 2010, the possibility exists that the poll will be jettisoned from the BCS process next year.

As for now …

Steve Spurrier gave us a glimpse of his voting habits in July when he admitted that his football ops guy had filled out his preason all-SEC ballot. That caused a huge stir when Spurrier/ops guy didn’t make Tebow a unanimous choice. Spurrier/ops guy picked Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead but was allowed to change to Tebow after it became an issue.

Following convincing wins by No. 3 Alabama and No. 2 Texas on Sept. 19, Florida got all the first-place votes [55] for the first time this season after struggling to beat unranked Tennessee.

Then, there was this week. What a mess. 

No. 12 Oklahoma State is ranked three spots ahead of Houston, which beat the Cowboys by 10.

Cal, which just lost to Oregon by 39, is ranked seven spots ahead of the Ducks.

Penn State had beaten doggies Syracuse, Akron and Temple. After losing at home to Iowa it is No. 13, four spots ahead of the unbeaten Hawkeyes.

Keep it coming, fellas, can’t wait to see how this effects the BCS standings.

Team schizo: Florida State. Do you have to have it explained?

Say goodbye to:  BYU [in the BCS], Al Groh, Ralph Friedgen, Steve Kragthorpe.

Posted on: September 16, 2009 12:28 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2009 8:09 pm
 

National notes leading with Russell Shepard

Is  Russell Shepard being hidden?

LSU’s freshman has Tigers fans’ mouths watering, but didn’t play in the opener at Washington. He played handful of snaps last week against Vanderbilt showing how good he can be and how young he is.

Operating in the Wildcat on LSU’s eighth offensive play, Shepard ran around left end for 13 yards. On the next play he caught an eight-yard pass from Jordan Jefferson, then immediately fumbled. Later, Shepard ran for eight yards on the option keeper.

“We’ve have to get him some more touches and some more experience,” Les Miles said. “The second time with the ball in his hands, he coughs it up. He didn’t understand how important it is to get the yards and go down. Going down is OK as long as you have the ball.”

Shepard has been compared to everyone from Tim Tebow to Percy Harvin. Miles still hasn’t been clear on how his prize  eventually will be used. There is still time to tinker against Louisiana-Lafayette this week before the SEC schedule starts against Mississippi State.

So is Shepard being hidden? More like getting used to hot water. LSU ran only 48 plays against Washington so there were few opportunities for him to get in. Against Vandy, he had three touches for 29 yards which was a tease for those who can't wait for more.
 
“According to people I’ve talked to, his (off-field) abilities are Tebow-esque … On the field what he can do is similar to Percy Harvin,” said CBS network analyst Tim Brando.

CBS game day analyst Gary Danielson said it would be a mistake to throw Shepard in at quarterback for any legnth of time: “If Russell Shepard is the leader of this team, they are not going to be a good football team. If Florida would have hung it on Tebow, Florida would not have been good the first year either.”

CBS’ Spencer Tillman added this: “His talent is literally off the charts. This kid is more gifted than Vince Young was at this point in time.”

Shepard has some of those Tebow qualities, agreeing to a magazine cover shoot in high school but not without teammates. After committing to LSU in June 2008, he then began recruiting other players for the Tigers. One was five-star safety Craig Loston, a cousin.

This is probably not the week to be raising Terrelle Pryor’s name but Shepard has been compared favorably to Ohio State’s quarterback.

“I admire the way Tim Tebow handles himself off the field,” Shepard told the New Orleans Times Picayune . “I took a liking to that. He says, ‘God bless you,’ after every interview. He’s amazing … I want to be known like that.”

You can read more about Shepard here .

 USC might have the best quarterback situation in the country if Matt Barkley doesn’t go on Saturday. It still has its most experienced quarterback on the bench. If Aaron Corp starts for USC against Washington, that puts the forgotten Mitch Mustain a tweaked ankle away from being under center. Mustain might the most talented No. 3 quarterback in the country. He was 8-0 as a freshman starter at Arkansas in 2006. Don't forget that Corp won the job coming out of spring.

 Loved this anecdote from the Michigan press box. Announcing Central Michigan’s upset win over Michigan State, the press box announcer at Michigan Stadium said, “No cheering in the press box, but we will make an exception right now.”

  Joe Paterno his team being ranked fifth in both polls: “Are we No. 5? I take the paper and go to the bathroom. I scan it. First, I see who died.”

 After two weeks, the Pac-10 has the best record (4-2) against the Big Six major conferences and Notre Dame. Not surprisingly, the Sun Belt has the worst mark (1-8). The MAC has played the most games against the major conferences, 14, and gone 2-12.

 If SMU beats Washington State this week it will be 3-0 for the first time since pre-death penalty days in 1984.

 Tulsa has allowed one defensive touchdown in its first two games. Get ready for that to change. The Golden Hurricane travel to Oklahoma.
 
 Just warning all those BCS lovers out there: Florida is 11th in the Sagarin Ratings. That’s not the worst of it. The Colley Matrix  has Florida No. 35 and USC No. 13. Wes Colley’s top five – 1. Pittsburgh, 2. LSU, 3. Wisconsin, 4. Texas, 5. UCLA.

You shouldn’t have to be reminded that those are two of the six computer indexes used in the BCS standings.

 


Posted on: August 28, 2009 12:17 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2009 8:17 am
 

Seven more "things" to consider this season

You've read "25 Things". Here are seven more also getting votes ...


Terry Bowden

Eleven years out of the game and unable to find a suitable job in I-A, Bobby’s boy settled in at Division II North Alabama.

It seems that the celebrated former Auburn coach (.675 winning percentage) isn’t planning on retiring in Florence. He has brought in 24 I-A transfers, seven from his dad’s program alone. Not that the Lions were about to fall off the edge of the earth. They reached the I-AA semifinals last season and have won at least 10 in the last four years.

The idea is to win fast, win a lot and maybe grab a I-A job. Among the notable transfers are former North Carolina State and Nebraska quarterback Harrison Beck and FSU receiver Preston Parker.

Parker was kicked off Florida State in February after his third arrest since 2006. But he can play. Parker caught 104 passes in three seasons with the Noles. 



Mike Gundy is a man, he’s 42 but he’s no less paranoid

It hasn’t made much national news, but Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is up to his old media-baiting self.

Gundy recently cut off the team from media (practice, interviews, everything) saying the team needs to focus for its Sept. 5 opener against Georgia. That’s bad enough, but he hasn’t restricted all media. A couple of Cowboy-friendly types have been allowed in. Not surprisingly they are a guy who works on the Cowboys recruiting site and the radio color man.

So maybe “media” is too definitive a word in that case.

What grinds the legit media is that Gundy is a 27-23 coach bankrolled by a billionaire booster at a state institution. Where's the accountability? We don’t know if Gundy is beating players, denying them water breaks, hell, holding illegal tryouts.

Not saying it’s happening but with the doors closed, can’t say it’s not happening. It’s not just me talking. Read this excellent piece by the Tulsa World’s Bill Haisten. Pay particular attention to the lead.

I remember catching up to Gundy 3 ½ years ago the day it was announced that Pickens had donated $165 million to Oklahoma State.  Coaches were kidding him at the American Football Coaches Association annual convention about getting a loan. Gundy was almost oblivious. Pressure? What pressure?

Pickens is now 81 and is perhaps wondering what happened to all that money. Where has Gundy’s three-year old rant and this stunt gotten him? Nothing tangible. He is a YouTube celebrity. Recruiting hasn’t been hurt. It’s like an old hat in the closet. You pull it out years later and remark, “Man, did that look silly.”

Now the Cowboys are no longer a curiosity. Oklahoma State has a top 10 ranking. It’s about time Gundy started winning big. Unfortunately, that ranking and a quarter will get you a bag of chips.

The problem for Okie State, as it always has been, is Oklahoma and Texas. Those powers form a cement ceiling above Stillwater every season. That hasn’t changed. Neither has Coach Clandestine. Maybe he is feeling the pressure of having to deliver on Boone Pickens’ investment.
 


Chill pill

In the middle of one of the hottest Southwest summers in recent history, Oklahoma and Texas can agree on one thing:

Taking a pill to monitor players’ core temperature is a good idea. The CorTemp capsule is about the size of a vitamin and ingested about five hours before practice. Players thought to be at high risk of heat-related maladies are selected each day.

Trainers pass a monitoring device over a player’s stomach (the pill  is somewhere in the intestines) to check body temperature. Texas trainer Kenny Boyd calls it an “ingestible thermometer.”

The $35 pill is too pricey for some programs but with heat-related illnesses killing players at a record pace this decade, no price is too high. Sickle cell trait (usually brought on my physical exertion) became the leading killer of Division I players this decade.

The Eagles, Vikings and Jags in the NFL use the pill as well as Nebraska and North Carolina on the college level.

If you’ve read this far you’re still wondering how the players get rid of a pill filled with electronics. It is, um, passed. No word on how, or why the pills are recycled.



… Or they could just forget the whole thing and let those state troopers fight it out

A proposal from the American Football Coaches Association calls for both coaches and ADs to accompany their teams on the field for a pregame handshake before each game. The initiative starts with next week’s opening games.

A thoughtful gesture, but college football isn’t exactly the Stanley Cup playoffs where teams form a handshake line at the end of playoff series. These guys are minutes away from tearing each other’s heads off. It’s hard to imagine Alabama and Auburn exchanging handshakes. More like haymakers.

Forced to confront Lane Kiffin on Sept. 19 in Gainesville, will Urban Meyer shake hands or whip out a taser?

AFCA executive director Grant Teaff says the association’s code of conduct calls for coaches to shake hands before the game. Is that the same code of conduct that Rick Neuheisel adhered to when he committed 50-plus secondary violations?

 

Possible bowl rematches

The bowls are loathe to stage regular-season matches in their games, but with the rash of TV-arranged non-conference games, rematches could become more frequent. The reason these games are being arranged in the first place is because the teams are TV draws.

And what are bowls looking for? These big regular-season games could be the first of a doubleheader to be completed in the postseason.

Sept. 5: Georgia at Oklahoma State, also in the Cotton Bowl.
Sept. 5: BYU vs. Oklahoma in Irving, Texas, also in the Fiesta Bowl
Sept. 19: Kansas at UCLA, also in the Insight Bowl
Oct. 17: Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas, also in the BCS title game (don’t laugh, it could happen)
Oct. 24: Boston College at Notre Dame, also in the Gator Bowl



Technology meet the economy

It's possible now to go an entire season in the Sun Belt, Ohio Valley and Big Sky conferences without ever meeting another human coach.

Those conferences cancelled their in-person preseason media days as a way to save money. In the case of the Sun Belt, it went to video streaming its media days. You already know that several schools no longer print media guys, the assumption being that everyone has a large hard drive, a speedy processor and time to stop in the middle of a story, slip in a CD and look up something.

Now that human contact has been removed from the equation, can alien probes of various orifices be far behind?

Point being, the cost-saving excuse in some ways is a sham. Michigan is saving one-half of one percent on its budget. There are ways to save money, but once the boulder gets rolling down the hill there are a lot of copy cats.

These schools wouldn't be in this economic crunch if they weren't all operating under the same model. Remember, teams have been staying overnight in a hotel for years the night before home games.


Smelly, cussing guy in overalls? Text CNHSKRHELP

By allowing fans to text for help, isn't Nebraska admitting it has a problem?

Campus police say they will accept "citizen crime reports" in the form of texts from fans at games. Nice move. But when are they going to do something about that freakish mascot?

 

Posted on: June 19, 2009 12:43 pm
 

Picking the Pac-10

It's never been like this in the Pac-10.

The conference that gave us Elway, Leinart, Plunkett, Aikman and Fouts, also has given us Best, Blount, Rodgers, Gerhart, and Grigsby. The first set of five names you recognize as some of the best quarterbacks in Pac-10 history. The next five represent another bit of history. According to the conference, there have never been five returning 1,000-yard rushers in the Pac-10.

They are:

Jahvid Best, Jr., Cal -- Despite missing a game, Best rushed for 1,580 yards last season and will be on everyone's Heisman list. Or should be.

LeGarrette Blount, Sr., Oregon -- Chip Kelly has made Oregon into an offensive powerhouse, particularly on the ground. The Ducks have finished in the top six in rushing each of the last two seasons. Kelly lost one 1,000 yard rusher (Jeremiah Johnson) and gets another. The punishing Blount ran for 1,002 yards.
 
Jacquizz Rodgers, Soph., Oregon State -- The Pac-10's offensive player of the year ran for 1,253 yards as a freshman despite missing two games. How could we forget that Thursday night against USC?

Toby Gerhart, Sr., Stanford
-- Set the school rushing record with 1,136 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in '08.

Nic Grigsby, Jr., Arizona -- The Cats' first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001.

Picking the Pac-10 ...

1. USC -- Expect at least a share of an eighth consecutive Pac-10 title. Expect an eighth consecutive BCS bowl (probably Rose). Don't expect me to tell you the starting quarterback. Aaron Corp started the spring game, but true freshman Matt Barkley has made tremendous strides. Corp may start the season but Barkley might be the guy by the end. The defense and offensive line (Pete Carroll's best ever at USC) can hold the Trojans in the national championship race if the qbs struggle.

2. Oregon -- Kelly has gone from New Hampshire offensive coordinator to Oregon head coach in less than three years. He will take over officially on July 1. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli started as a fifth-stringer, then accounted for 23 touchdowns under Kelly in 2008. Normally, a head-coaching change would signal a drop in the standings. But Kelly has had enough time in the program to get familiar. Don't forget the Ducks were a top 10 team last season. Welcome to the big time, Chip .The season kicks off at Boise.

3. Cal -- Jeff Tedford has brought stability to Berkeley, but no Rose Bowls. It's been 50 years and counting for the Bears since their last trip to Pasadena -- for a bowl game. Tedford, the quarterback wizard, has been pumping out running backs in recent years while quarterback play has slipped. Aaron Rodgers was the last serviceable signal caller. That was five years ago. Inconsistent Kevin Riley gets the job this season. Best will have to relieve the pressure.

4. Oregon State -- Twenty-eight victories the past three seasons. Two wins over USC. Never, ever doubt Mike Riley. Even though his defense has to rebuilt, the Beavers are going to be a pain again this season. Four of the five starters on the offensive line are back. Rodgers' shoulder is healed. Lyle Moevao is a veteran quarterback. Expect at least eight wins.

5. UCLA -- The Bruins could be the most improved team in the Pac-10. Interception machine Kevin Craft is gone. In his place is redshirt freshman Kevin Prince. Sixteen starters return and defense is not the problem. The Bruins had the second-best total defense in Pac-10 play. Until Neuheisel actually performs in Westwood, though, I will relegate them to this spot.

6. Arizona State -- The Sun Devils (5-7) were one of the most disappointing teams in the country last season. Don't be surprised if Arizona State repeats that record. The strength lies with the defense where end Dexter Davis has 10-plus sacks each of the past two seasons. Chris McGaha is a fine pass catcher who led the Devils two years ago (830 yards).  Dennis Erickson must first get some consistency out of an offensive line that has surrendered a staggering 89 sacks the past two seasons.

7. Arizona
-- The Wildcats have the worst Pac-10 record this decade (24-51) but seem to be on the rebound. Despite losing firestarter Willie Tuitama, coach Mike Stoops could make it to a second consecutive bowl. He will have to deal with a non-conference trip to Iowa, plus having only four conference home games (five away). Either Matt Scott or Nick Foles, both sophomores, will replace Tuitama. They have 11 career pass attempts between them.

8. Stanford -- Jim Harbaugh might be the most coveted 9-15 coach in the country. His name continues to come up when other jobs open up. The Cardinal have improved, coming within a season-finale loss to Cal of being bowl eligible. Gerhart and Andrew Luck give Stanford a chance this season. Luck, a sophomore, threw five touchdowns in the spring game. They're here because the Cardinal open with back-to-back road games (Washington State and Wake) and have to play seven teams that won bowl games.

9. Washington -- Steve Sarkisian can't lose. Well, he can but certainly at the level of last season's worst Husky team ever. Sark starts his head coaching career with Washington on a 14-game losing streak. Three wins would make him the mayor of Montlake. The Huskies have the talent to go 5-7. A healthy Jake Locker will make a difference under Sark. Everyone is looking forward to redshirt freshman tailback Chris Polk. Part of Sarkisian's job is getting the Huskies to believe they can win. The streak breaker should come in Week 2 against Idaho.

10. Washington State -- The Cougars won twice last season (one of them against Washington) but are in worse shape than their rivals. This could be one of the nation's worst programs again this season. Second-year coach Paul Wulff loses five starters from one of the worst defenses in Pac-10 history. That might be a good thing. The offense turned it over a staggering 25 times and gave up 43 sacks.

 

Posted on: June 11, 2009 12:11 pm
 

Chris Forcier, W-T-F?

It wasn't enough for former UCLA quarterback/receiver/honor roll student Chris Forcier to transfer. Dude had to take a flamethrower to UCLA, the media and every capitalization rule that you know from grammar school.

Good luck Furman.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: UCLA
 
Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:36 pm
 

Predicting the bling ...

We're all Heisman candidates in June. Mom, dad, the plumber, the cat. Well, maybe not the cat.

This is the time of year to salute every swinging hick who dares to dream of a trip to New York. With that in mind, here are my Heisman rankings.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas -- It's his time. Among the Three Amigos, it's his turn.
2. Tim Tebow, Florida -- Voters will be wary of making Superman a two-time winner. There has only been one.
3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- Back-to-back ain't happenin' either.
4. Jevan Snead. Ole Miss -- This year's Matt Stafford.
5. Jahvid Best, Cal -- No. 3 rusher last season, should be the nation's leading rusher in 2009.
6. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech -- The hoss in Paul Johson's option offense.
7. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 1
8. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 2
9. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State --  Cowboy No. 3
10. Case Keenum, Houston -- 5,000-yard passer.

The others -- Arrelious Benn, Illinois; Eric Berry, Tennessee; Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas; Daryll Clark, Penn State; Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame; Aaron Corp, USC; Noel Devine, West Virginia; A.J. Green, Georgia; Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma; Max Hall, BYU; Greg Hardy, Ole Miss; Tim Hiller, Western Michigan; Jerry Hughes, TCU; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada; Julio Jones, Alabama; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan; MiQuale Lewis, Ball State; Jake Locker, Washington; Taylor Mays, USC; Kellen Moore, Boise State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State; Todd Reesing, Kansas; Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State;  Charles Scott, LSU; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; The Kobe and LeBron puppets; Zach Galifianakis; Conan O'Brien; Lassie; David Letterman; Iron Man; Alex Trebek, Tina Fey, shall I go on?

 

Bednarik/Nagurski Award (best defensive player): Jerry Hughes, TCU

Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State

Broyles Award (best assistant coach):  John Chavis, LSU defensive coordinator

Groza Award (best kicker): Kai Forbath, UCLA

Ray Guy Award (best punter): Derek Epperson, Baylor

Lombardi Award (best lineman): Greg Hardy, Ole Miss

Mackey Award (best tight end): Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback): Colt McCoy, Texas.

Butkus Award (best linebacker):  Brandon Spikes, Florida

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman):  Ciron Black, LSU

Rimington Trophy (best center): Kristofer O'Dowd, USC

Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year):  Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Eric Berry, Tennessee

Doak Walker Award (best running back):  Jahvid Best, Cal

 

 

Posted on: June 1, 2009 12:42 pm
 

Picking the WAC

The biggest offseason news for the WAC has not Boise State's 12-1 season, it was Boise State's athletic director.
Gene Bleymaier is the Broncos' athletic director. He is also a lawyer who made the most sense last month at the BCS hearings in Washington.

"How many more years do we need to go undefeated," Bleymaier told a congressional committee, "before we get a chance?"

Good point.

Boise has finished the regular season undefeated three times since 2004. This season could be No. 4. if the Broncos can get past a tough season opener against Oregon. (It didn't bother them last year when the Broncos won 37-32 at Oregon).

Boise should roll to another WAC title but how high can it get in the BCS standings? While the Mountain West has its gripes, the WAC has had teams in back-to-back BCS bowls in 2006-07.

The problem, if you can call it that, is that Oregon will likely be the only ranked team that Boise State faces this season. A similar predicament didn't bother the Broncos against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl so what are we supposed to conclude?

Bleymaier is right. The Broncos belong not only in a BCS bowl but deserve a chance at the national championship.

If it wins all its games.

Picking the WAC ...

1. Boise State -- Start with accurate lefthander Kellen Moore at quarterback. Throw in starting experience at every position. Add a rising superstar coach who has two undefeated years in his first three seasons.  Watch for Chris Petersen and the Broncos to make another top 10 run. They are quick and athletic. Think a mountain version of Miami in the 1980s. Watch Titus Young who might be the league's fastest receiver.

2. Nevada -- Colin Kaepernick is the WAC's best quarterback. The Pistol offense is quirky and might be the WAC's best unit. It was held under 31 only twice, none came after September. In his third go-round with the Pack, Chris Ault is one of the more underrated coaches in the country. Ault needs just a hint of defense to milk the season down to late November when his team visits Boise State with the conference title possibly on the line. 

3. Louisiana Tech -- If it wasn't for Boise State, Louisiana Tech would be the WAC's Next Big Thing. The Bulldogs went 6-2 down the stretch appearing in only the program's third bowl in 20 years. Coach Derek Dooley has a returning quarterback (Ross Jenkins) as well as 16 other starters. Just think what a healthy receiver/returner Phillip Livas can do this season. Playing with a torn meniscus, the 5-foot-8 Livas piled up more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.

4. Fresno State -- The baseball team shamed the football team last year going from Bulldogs to Underdogs to Wonderdogs in winning the school's first national championship in a men's sport. Fresno would settle for a conference title from football. Coach Pat Hill has no WAC titles this decade and no outright titles ever (1998 and 1999 were ties). Fresno State's version of American Chopper's Paul Teutul  might have lost something off his fastball but the Bulldogs are still going to be a factor. Something will have to change, though, even with 15 returning starters. The Dogs were minus-11 in turnovers last season and have been outgained in the last three seasons.

5. San Jose State -- Coach Dick Tomey has done wonders in his retirement job, milking 23 victories out of this program in his four seasons. The Spartans faltered down the stretch last season losing their final three and missing out on a bowl. Tomey's team will contend for the WAC this season if Cal transfer quarterback Kyle Reed can improve, 6-4 receiver Marquis Avery can take pressure off of teammate Kevin Jurovich and the front seven on defense can dominate.

6. Hawaii -- June Jones knew what he was doing by getting out while the getting was good. While replacement Greg McMackin went 7-7 and got the Warriors to a bowl in his first season, the program will continue to slide. Hawaii will entertain offensively, it always does. But only two starters return on defense where 11 of the top 13 tacklers have departed.

7. Utah State -- New coach Gary Andersen (Utah's former defensive coordinator) has a monumental task ahead. As the No. 3 program in a sparsely populated state Utah State is constantly reminded how it can't get it done. It has been 12 seasons since the Aggies had a winning season. Former coach Brent Guy won nine games in four seasons.

8. Idaho -- Robb Akey is 3-21 in his two seasons but there are signs of hope considering the Vandals haven't had a winning season this decade. The top three rushers return not including Washington State transfer (nine miles away) DeMaundray Wooldridge. Quarterback Nathan Enderle somehow threw more touchdowns (20) than interceptions (17) during a 2-10 season.

9. New Mexico State --The Aggies went from wild-eyed offensive philosophy (Hal Mumme) to one of the best defensive coaches in the game (UCLA d-coordinator DeWayne Walker). Unfortunately the new coach picked one of the worst programs in I-A to launch his full-time head-coaching career. The defense will play hard and get better. The offense lost the leader of the nation's No. 10 pass offense (quarterback Chase Holbrook). Too bad new o-coordinator Timm Rosenbach doesn't have any eligibility left. The former Washington State quarterback was the Cougars' quarterback coach from 2003-07.

 

 
 
 
 
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