Mailbag: How much patience should UF fans have? WVU's rise? Big East's rep?
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, send your questions to me via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS:
Here is this week’s mailbag. As always, send your questions to me via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS:
From @JoshTheLink: How long does Muschamp have to turn things around at Florida before he's given the Zook treatment?
He’s only coached one season and one game. It’s way too early for people in Florida to lose hope with Will Muschamp.
Remember: This is his first head-coaching job. There are always bound to be some growing pains especially when a guy breaks in on the highest stage, not at a mid-major, where the pressure and the competition level isn’t the same. First-time head coaches often struggle putting together their ideal staff. They have to learn on the job. In addition, Muschamp took over an unusual situation where he not only had a significant change in schemes from his predecessor, Urban Meyer, but he also inherited a challenging dynamic in the UF locker room. He had a program full of supposed “five-star” talent, but none of those guys really were a factor in winning the national titles. So when Meyer talks about “de-recruiting” that’s a lot of what has ended up falling on Muschamp. Beyond that, there are the growing pains of breaking in two new QBs dealing with their second quarterback coach and system in two seasons.
When I saw Muschamp a few weeks ago, he talked about how things changed for UF in 2011 once senior QB John Brantley was injured. That said, now UF has it hopes on Jeff Driskel and we’ll see how he develops. Obviously, Driskel would be helped greatly if one or two of these former blue-chip receivers blossoms and if Mike Gillislee runs like he did in Week 1. Gillislee’s start was encouraging. The continued lack of focus and discipline when it comes to piling up penalties, was not.
No question, there’s quite a bit of talent on D. Still, I was surprised that some media this summer were talking about UF as a top 15 in 2012. I just don’t think this team is close to ready on offense. I see them as a 7-5, maybe 8-4 team.
The good news: By all accounts, recruiting is going very well for Muschamp. And I do think Muschamp will get this program going by 2013. But there is no getting around it, the heat is rising in Gainesville. Expectations are always going to be sky high at UF after what Meyer did there. A road loss either this week at A&M or next week at rival Tennessee will only elevate the temperature even more. Losses to both would send a lot of folks down there into a panic. The Zook comparisons would then kick in. It certainly won’t also help Muschamp’s cause if FSU proves to be as good as some people have speculated either. But, as tough as this may be down there, people have to be more patient. It’s not even Year Three yet.
From @lemmer40: If WVU were still in Big East, would they still have jumped over two SEC teams in coaches poll?
Yes, I truly believe the Mountaineers would have jumped two SEC programs. WVU has the country’s attention. That blowout win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl resonated with a lot of people. Everyone knows this is an explosive team with arguably the best offense in the country. Is the defense a concern? No question, but this team definitely has a puncher’s chance to get to the BCS title game. Don’t forget, they rolled up 500 yards last year on LSU in the Mountaineers’ first season in Dana Holgorsen’s system and Geno Smith wasn’t even on that night.
Where being a Big 12 member will come into play for WVU is later in the season, when the pollsters’ criteria is less speculated on and they have more of a body of work to go on. WVU’s ceiling has now gotten significantly higher. If the Mountaineers can beat OU, UT, TCU and the rest of the teams on their schedule, they’d certainly trump where any undefeated Big East champ might be ranked. In fact, they might also be ahead of any Big Ten or ACC team too.
Would the Mountaineers be ahead of an undefeated Oregon or USC? I don’t see that, especially since that Pac-12 champ would’ve likely had to beat that other powerhouse team twice.
From @ChefBillyParisi: Keys for a Mizzou victory?
The Tigers have a big, athletic group of receivers and will challenge what figures to be a somewhat depleted Bulldog back seven. (Standouts Baccari Rambo, a safety, and Alec Ogletree, a linebacker, are expected to miss the game due to disciplinary reasons.)
James Franklin has some big-game experience now. He’s also a dangerous runner, and we saw Buffalo have a surprising amount of success with its QB on the move last week. But, the first big key will be, can the Tigers' O-line hold up against the Georgia pressure? Jarvis Jones and that big UGA front is very, very good. Jones brings a Von Miller-like big-play threat. The Tigers have to allow Franklin to get comfortable and get into a rhythm. If so, expect the Tigers to keep the chains moving and get the scoreboard rolling.
The other big challenge for the Tigers in on their front seven on D. Sheldon Richardson, Mizzou’s gifted defensive tackle, got Georgia’s attention with his comments earlier in the week. He needs to back it up now. He’s got big-time talent. Is he ready to show he’s a difference-maker? Beyond their big man in the middle, the Tigers have some underrated athletes in their front seven. Those guys need to match up to Georgia physicality and not get pushed around. It’ll be a bad sign if football fans all over the country are gushing over Bulldog freshman running back Todd Gurley come late Saturday night.
From @SaturdaysGame: How does Pitt's performance so far this year reflect the Big East's image?
For better or worse, the Panthers are still a Big East team in 2012. And, clearly when you get handled by FCS Youngstown State losing by two touchdowns in Week 1 and then get blown out by an unranked Cincinnati team on the Thursday night stage, it’s for the worse. It also didn't help that Syracuse lost at home to a middling Big Ten team (Northwestern) last week.
The Big East’s rep nationally is brutal, and it’s sunk even further with WVU bailing to the Big 12. The only way to begin to boost that rep is with non-conference wins against “good” teams. Losses to non-FBS programs really sting, especially when it’s one of the conference’s bigger programs with the most tradition getting beat. The Big East, and to a lesser degree, the ACC, don’t get the benefit of the doubt.
Louisville’s a fringe Top 25 team right now, but the Cards’ ceiling is considerably lower than Notre Dame’s, BYU’s and every program in the Big Five conferences. The Cards could really use a big win over UNC and then for the Tar Heels to run through the ACC. For the Big East’s sake, the league also needs USF to have a big season and knock off the glamour schools in its own state; for Cincy to beat Virginia Tech; and for Rutgers to upset Arkansas and Syracuse to stun USC.
From Fake Kliff Kingsbury (@KliffKingsbury): Over-under on years until I am TTU's head coach???
Six years. My hunch is the next Red Raiders football coach will be a different Tech grad/Mike Leach protégé, Sonny Dykes. As I wrote last week, Dykes has done a nice job at Louisiana Tech and is primed for a big season there. Unless Tommy Tuberville wins at least seven games this fall, I suspect Dykes gets that job this winter.
As for Kingsbury, he is one of the brightest young minds in the college game. The guys I know who have coached with Kingsbury really think he’s sharp. His knack for making subtle adjustments to the offense depending on an opponent’s weakness is something that has impressed.
One of the great subplots of the 2012 season is seeing how he uses redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, a dynamic running threat in the Air-Raid scheme. We could get some intriguing twists on what has been such a prolific offense. They also have two gifted RBs (Christine Michael and excited freshman Trey Williams) and a talented O-line. But this is still a program in transition.
I suspect A&M will be a six- or seven-win team while they break in the rookie QB and adapt to a new regime and the SEC. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Aggies weren’t a top 10 team and SEC West title contender by 2014. At that point, I figure Kingsbury would be one of the hottest commodities in coaching and poised for his first coaching spot.
Who knows maybe Tuberville goes 7-5, saves his job for another year, Dykes ends up with a different coaching job in a BCS conference and then if Tech stumbles again, Kingsbury might be the answer in, say, 2014.
From @HogeAndrew: Why do you only talk SEC when you go on Finebaum?
Paul’s the host and he drives the discussion, and for the record, we often talk about programs outside the SEC. Keep in mind: The show is based in Alabama and the SEC has only won the past six BCS titles in a row. SEC football, even outside the Deep South, is a pretty big deal. But if you’re looking for something from more of a West Coast view, I’m excited to announce I’ll have a new podcast coming soon, called The West Coast Bias. Myself and a couple of my friends based in the Los Angeles area will examine the college football world from a different perspective. Of course, we’ll still talk about things beyond just the Pac-12, but it should be a fun, spirited show.
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