Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Join Us At Our New Site

It only seems fitting that on National Signing Day we are moving on to a new site and are taking our talents to the Bloguin Network. Finding the new site will be easy, just drop the blogspot from the title so we are now just simply The Bloguin team has also re-designed our site and has made us a cool new banner that looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself. Over the next few days there will be some tweaks to the new site but it is up and running and functional so head on over there and check it out and drop us some feedback. If you have a subscription to our rss feed you can update to the new one which is

I have really enjoyed the first year of this blog. Writing and reading what others have wrote and making connections with other bloggers out there that have helped us along the way and I look forward to more of the same as we approach our second year.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bama Recruiting Overload: Last Minute Thievery

Yesterday I took a look at the top uncommitted prospects left on Alabama's recruiting board. Today, I'll be giving you a couple of prospects that are currently committed elsewhere who the Crimson Tide has a legitimate shot at landing on Signing Day. Of course, turnabout is fair play, and while Bama is looking to pick someone else's pocket, others are looking to get their hand in Bama's. We'll start by taking a look at some current Tide verbals who may end up wearing something other than Crimson next season.

Tide Commits On The Move...?

Daryl Collins, Wide Receiver (Alabama)
Rivals: 3* Scout: 3*
Committed to Bama Since: 3/23/2010

The long-time commit currently finds himself on the wrong end of the Tide's numbers crunch. Bama is currently carrying way more verbal commitments than they actually have room to accept (around 10 more, to be precise) and looking to add a few more. In particular, they're a bit overstocked at the wide receiver position with 4 true WR commits and a few more guys who can play the spot but may go to defense. Of the 4 true WRs, Collins is by far the least heralded. It may sound harsh, but he's the sort of solid player with some upside that you take as insurance in case your bigger targets don't pan out. Unfortunately for Collins, Bama hit it big with nearly all of it's WR targets, namely Marvin Shinn and Danny Woodson, Jr. As of today, Bama is still willing to honor Collins' commitment but only with a greyshirt offer (meaning he won't be able to join the team on scholarship until next spring). Obviously that's not the most desirable situation for a recruit, so, with the blessing of Bama's coaching staff, Collins has recently been exploring his options with Kentucky, Louisville, and Southern Miss. Of the three, Kentucky seems to be his most likely destination, if he wants to play next season.

My Best Guess: Switching to Kentucky

LaMichael Fanning, Defensive End (Georgia)
Rivals: 4* Scout: 4*
Committed to Bama Since: 4/17/2010

Another long-time commit that's recently been taking a look around. Fanning is quite a physical specimen (6'6", 285 lbs.) with huge upside but is rumored to be a longshot to be academically eligible to enroll this fall (not surprising for a guy who's bounced around to four different high schools), and there's some scuttlebutt that the Tide wouldn't be disappointed if he committed elsewhere so they don't get a surprise in August if he were to somehow get eligible and have to conjure up a roster spot for him. Fanning spent this past weekend on an official visit to Auburn but hasn't talked to the media since, so it's unclear where he stands right now.

My Best Guess: Sticking with Bama

Isaac Luatua, Offensive Lineman (California)
Rivals: 3* Scout: 3*
Committed to Bama Since: 6/8/2010

This one is all hunch. Luatua has gone almost totally under ground since his commitment to the Tide in June. He has taken no official visits and hasn't talked to the recruiting media in months. But it sure is a long way from La Miranda, California, to Tuscaloosa. And just because it hasn't been documented in the press doesn't mean he hasn't been looking. I'm not going to call for it, but don't be surprised if he ends up signing somewhere closer to home tomorrow.

My Best Guess: Sticking with Bama

As of today, I think every other Tide commit is as solid as solid gets, and it would be a major surprise if anyone other than these 3 went elsewhere. Now we'll hit the flipside.

Rival Commits On The Market...?

Brent Calloway, Athlete (Alabama)
Rivals: 4* Scout: 4*
Currently Committed To: Auburn

I'm not going to rehash the sordid details of this one. If you need to, you can catch up here, just scroll down a bit. I think most Bama fans had written off Calloway following that whole fiasco. But apparently Nick Saban hadn't. He convinced Calloway to take an unexpected official visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend and made one last push to convince him to sign with the Tide. How successful was he? Calloway isn't talking. To anybody. And likely won't until he signs his LOI tomorrow. However, it's worth noting that at the same time Calloway was on his visit, his adoptive father was quoted in an incendiary article lambasting the way his son switched his commitment and not-so-subtly knocking the credibility of Auburn's coaches. While his father did say the ultimate decision would belong to Calloway, I think it's safe to say which choice the family supports. And you really can't underestimate that. So it would seem the late momentum is with the Tide. But the Auburn coaches are nothing if not dogged recruiters (to put it nicely) and they tend to not lose guys once they get their hooks into them.

My Best Guess: Sticking with Auburn

Robenson Therezie, Safety (Florida)
Rivals: 4* Scout: 4*
Currently Committed To: Auburn

If the rumors are to be believed, Therezie actually contacted Tide coaches and said he would be committing to Bama at the Under Armor All-American game. But then the game came and he instead announced for Auburn. He's since remained committed to the Tigers but has also kept his ears open to other overtures, and Bama has stayed on him. In fact, it could be argued the Tide has more momentum with Therezie than Auburn, despite maintaining his commitment. But like I just said, for whatever reason (coughcough), this AU staff doesn't lose guys too often.

My Best Guess: Sticking with Auburn

So for those of you keeping track, I've predicted Bama to pick up one uncommitted prospect tomorrow, lose one current commitment, and strike out on their two main committed targets for a net of...0. Watch out for Nickolas Brassel, though. And there may be a little more smoke coming from Jeoffrey Pagan than I previously gave us credit for.

I'll check back in sometime tomorrow to evaluate where we're at.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bama Recruiting Overload: Uncommitted Hype

With less than 48 hours remaining until Signing Day, the year-long recruiting hype train is, really, just getting warmed up. The next 3 days are going to be filled with a non-stop barrage of rumors and innuendos, never letting up until every last teenager has done something silly with a baseball cap and every last LOI is faxed. And as has been the case every year since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is expected to be at the forefront of it all on February 2nd, for better or for worse (but mostly better). Will Bama fans be feeling triumphant when it's all said and done, as they were in 2008 and 2009 when the Tide reeled in #1 rated signing classes? Or will we be left feeling melancholic and strangely disappointed after missing out on several high-profile prospects late in the game like last year (though still finishing with a consensus Top 5 class, mind you)?

As regular readers may have picked up on by now, I'm a little bit jaded to the whole recruiting phenomenon. But don't get me wrong: I have no doubt that recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football team. It's a fact. The teams that do it the best consistently tend to be the best teams on the field in the fall. And I want Alabama to be one of those teams. I think I'm mainly just turned off to the industry of recruiting and the culture of general insanity that's grown up around it (and really exploded over the last 5 years or so). As Pat Forde said in regards to the Cam Newton situation, and I think generalizes to the broader state of the recruiting industry, we've all gotten a little too far into the sausage factory.

All that said, this here's a college football blog, and recruiting is going to be THE story in college football this week. So I'm gonna do my duty to add to the insanity by giving you the best coverage of Alabama's 2011 recruiting class that I'm capable of (which may not be much).

Much like last recruiting cycle (and likely every cycle from here on out as long as Saban is around), Bama hoarded commitments early in the process and will be spending most of the end of the cycle protecting their current commits from poachers and chasing after a select few elite prospects. This way of doing things led to somewhat of a sleepy Signing Day in 2010, but that doesn't look to be the case this year. The Tide is still a legit player for several big-time recruits capable of making an instant impact on campus. So today, I'm kicking things off with a look at the top uncommitted prospects that Alabama is still actively recruiting and has a realistic shot at signing.

Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End (South Carolina)
Rivals: 5* Scout: 5*
The Competition: South Carolina

This guy needs no introduction. He's #1 on everybody's board, but his recruitment has essentially been a two-horse race between Bama and his home state Gamecocks since this past summer. At one point, there was even a status update on his Facebook page saying that he had chosen the Tide, but that turned out to be a false alarm. Actually, I'm still not sure what that was about. If all things were equal, I think he'd be a lock to Alabama. He projects as a prototypical Jack linebacker (pass rush specialist) in Saban's scheme. However, distance from home is a big concern for his family, particularly his mother and she seems to be the identified "decision maker" in his recruitment. She recently accompanied her son on an official visit to Tuscaloosa (her first trip to T-town), and word is Mrs. Saban worked Mama Clowney hard. But was it too little too late? No one knows since Clowney has reportedly shut down all communication in the lead up to his announced signing date of February 14th. But the Gamecocks have developed an improbably strong pull amongst in-state recruits over the past few years, and I'd have to consider them the slight betting favorite.

My Best Guess: South Carolina

Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle (Maryland)
Rivals: 5* Scout: 5*
The Competition: Auburn, Iowa, New Mexico

If Clowney is the top guy on Bama's board, Cyrus isn't far behind. He's 6'7", 322 lbs, and has an incredibly well-developed physique for a high school OL. He looks chisled out of stone. More to the point, he looks like a 4-year starter at left tackle. His older brother, Arie, signed with the Tide last year and redshirted this past season. Needless to say, Nick Saban and his coaching staff have a long-standing relationship with the family and have to be considered the heavy favorites to land the big guy. But you shouldn't assume this is a "lay down" either. Cyrus is on the record regarding his reservations about competing against his brother for playing time (reportedly allayed by the coaching staff laying out their plans for Arie at RT or guard only) and has repeatedly declined to name a leader and has taken every one of his official visits, including back to back trips to Iowa and Auburn. Auburn is a late addition to Cyrus' Top 5 and mainly got there by virtue of Miami falling off his list after the sacking of Randy Shannon. There was some talk that Auburn would make a logical alternative to Bama if his concerns about competing with his brother won out (due to being an easier trip for his parents to visit both), but it's really difficult for me to believe Auburn could pull him from Bama after getting into the game so late. If that were to happen, I'm sorry, but something smells funny on the Plains, as usual.

My Best Guess: Alabama

Isaiah Crowell, Running Back (Georgia)
Rivals: 5* Scout: 5*
The Competition: Georgia

At one point, Crowell was the Tide's #1 running back target in this class. Maybe he still is (if so, it didn't stop Bama from taking the commitment of fellow 5* RB Dee Hart and get him enrolled this spring). Crowell's commitment has been a bit of a roller coaster. Early in the process, he was basically a lock for Bama. Georgia made some significant strides with him over the summer to make it a 50/50 race. But then the Dawgs went on that horrible losing streak early in the season and lost momentum. Since the season ended, Georgia has put an all-out blitz on Crowell, sending small armies of coaches to visit him at once and offering a scholarship to his previously no-scholarship-offer-having friend. So they worked it back to something close to 50/50 again, with maybe a slight edge to UGA. I think the tipping point for his decision was the commitment of Hart, though. You just DON'T get two backs of that caliber in the same class. Not enough carries to go around. Bama is still fighting for him, but ultimately I think this plays out like Auburn's pursuit of Marcus Lattimore after already taking Michael Dyer last year. It's one or the other, never both.

My Best Guess: Georgia

Nickolas Brassell, Wide Receiver (Mississippi)
Rivals: 4* Scout: 4*
The Competition: Ole Miss

The one-time Mississippi State commit now seems to no longer even be considering the Bulldogs. After his decommitment (what a word), it was widely assumed Brassell would quickly follow his good friend Tobias Singleton to Ole Miss, but that was not the case. Brassell kept his options open which left the door cracked for the Tide to get in as a serious player for his signature. In fact, Bama was able to score his last official visit this past weekend. And while Bama isn't exactly hurting for receivers in this class (already holding commitments from 4 pure wideouts), Saban is leaving no stone unturned as he attempts to find his next #1 receiver after the departure of Julio Jones. There is also some scuttlebutt that Saban may have talked to Brassell about making a move to defensive back (which IS a position the Tide could use a little help with in this class) on his visit. His openness to this possibility will probably go a long way towards influencing his decision. Right now, this one is too close to call.

My Best Guess: 50/50

Jeoffery Pagan, Defensive End (North Carolina)
Rivals: 4* Scout: 4*
The Competition: Georgia

Much like Brassell, Bama got serious about Pagan (one-time Florida commit turned Clemson commit turned uncommitted) late in the process. On the surface, it bodes well for Bama that Pagan decided to part ways with Clemson following his official visit in Tuscaloosa. The Tide had a tremendous amount of momentum at the time, but that was quickly derailed when Ray Drew committed to Georgia. Pagan has a good relationship with Drew, and the general consensus was that Pagan was going to end up wherever Drew did as long as it wasn't Auburn. Well, it wasn't Auburn. Bama is going to keep working on him, but it would be a major surprise if he inks anywhere other than Georgia.

My Best Guess: Georgia

So there you have it. Of the top uncommitted guys, I say we get Kouandjio, maybe Brassell, and that's it. Not a very inspiring projection for Signing Day, I know, but you have to keep in mind Alabama already has Rivals' #1 ranked recruiting class WITHOUT any of these guys. While they likely wouldn't hold onto that spot (who cares?) with strong finishes from the likes of FSU or Georgia, the fact is it's an incredibly strong class as it stands right now. It only gets better with the addition of any of these guys, not worse without them.

So that's that.

I plan to be back tomorow to look at which current Bama commitments might end up elsewhere come Signing Day and which other schools' commitments may end up in Crimson when it's all said and done.

Missouri Tigers: 2010 Exit Survey

2010 CFBZ Prediction: 2nd Place in Big 12 North 
2010 Actual Finish: Tied for 1st place in the Big 12 North (10-3, 6-2)

Missouri started out the season sky high by winning their first seven games including a huge victory over then Oklahoma. After knocking off the Sooners, the Tigers took the #6 spot in the Nation into Lincoln Nebraska but fell 31 to 17 after falling behind by 24 points in the very first quarter. The loss to Nebraska hurt but it was the lost the very next week against Texas Tech that would keep them out of the Big 12 Championship game. Missouri closed the season by winning 3 straight against Big 12 North foes before falling to an underachieving Iowa team at the Insight Bowl to finish the year 10-3. From 2009 to 2010 the Missouri defense decreased their points allowed from 25.4 all the way down to just 16.1 per game which ranked them 6th in the Nation in scoring defense. Missouri also had a turnover margin of +11. When you think of Missouri you think of offense but it was an improved defense that helped them to their 10-3 mark this year. We caught up with the SB Nation Missouri Blog Rock M Nation to get their take on the 2010 Tigers and get a sneak peak into 2011. 

1. Missouri finished 10-3 and 6-2 in the Big 12. It was pretty much where you had predicted them to finish in our Pre-Season Preview. What were your favorite memories from the 2010 season?

I don't think there's any doubt that one game/weekend will stand out above all else when Tiger fans look back at 2010. The date 10/23/10 is now forever etched in Mizzou lore as perhaps the best homecoming weekend ever for the school that is recognized as the birthplace of homecoming. The win against Oklahoma, and everything that surrounded it, wasn't just the win of the year, it's been called by many a "once in a generation" type of weekend. College GameDay made its first appearance in Columbia and Mizzou fans promptly rewrote the GameDay attendance record by packing 18,000 people onto the quad. They packed Faurot Field that night and helped every step of the way as Gary Pinkel got the "Oklahoma monkey" off of his back. From the moment Gahn McGaffie – an up-man, no less – ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, Mizzou knew something special could happen that night. And it did.

2. If you could have a "re-do" for one game which would it be?

We'll ignore the Iowa loss and take it for what it is: a tough bowl loss against a solid team. That leaves Mizzou's only other two losses up for deliberation. The Nebraska loss was crippling not just because of its ramifications, but primarily because of how it happened. Mizzou could not have looked more helpless in the first quarter, as the Huskers rolled up and down the field with no resistance and Blaine Gabbert was already under siege and taking fire. Mizzou did fight back to make the score semi-respectable for those that didn't watch the game, but for those who did, it was an ugly loss by nearly any qualifier you choose. That leaves the other loss, a road loss to Texas Tech, which I think would be my personal "re-do" game simply because it was one Missouri should have won. Two 70-yard touchdown runs in the first quarter made it look like Missouri was going to waltz through with a win, but the Mizzou offense disappeared and Taylor Potts replaced Steven Sheffield and re-energized Tech. The Nebraska loss was the one that could have meant a Big 12 North title for Missouri, but it was the Tech loss that really sticks in the sides of Mizzou fans because it was one that the Tigers really should have been able to close out.

3. Blaine Gabbert has thrown for over 3,000 yards in each of the last two years but has declared for the NFL draft. Who is waiting in the wings to replace him?

The presumptive starter at this point will be sophomore James Franklin, who saw minimal time in 2010 as the No. 2 behind Gabbert. Franklin is going to be a bit of a different look from Gabbert, as he lacks the cannon Gabbert had but also possesses a few other skills Gabbert didn't. He is considered a "mobile" or "dual-threat" quarterback, but those labels can often unintentionally degrade a quarterback's ability as a passer. Franklin throws with good touch and throws an extremely catchable ball, much like Chase Daniel did, though we're still unsure about his ability as a downfield passer simply because he was never given the chance to air it out. Additionally, if Franklin gets the nod, it should mean a bit of an overhaul for the Missouri running game, as his inclusion in the offense means Missouri can insert the zone read as a staple in the running game. He'll have a bit of a battle for the job in camp, as Tyler Gabbert (Blaine's younger brother) came on strong during bowl practices, but at the moment, it's Franklin's job to lose.

4. Who were the most surprising players this season?

Offensively, you could pick from any one of the trio of tailback Henry Josey, receiver T.J. Moe or tight end Michael Egnew. All were outstanding in 2010 despite having contributed almost nothing in prior years (Josey was a true freshman, and Moe and Egnew entered the season with nine combined career receptions). All three played instrumental roles in Mizzou's offensive success, as Moe wrote himself into Mizzou lore with the "Moe Miracle" late in Mizzou's improbable comeback against San Diego State and Egnew became next in line as another All-American tight end at Missouri. But I think the two most surprising players on Missouri's team this season were on defense. Safety Jarrell Harrison was considered by some to be the team's most unheralded player and perhaps the defensive MVP. He was third on the team in tackles with 69 and picked up two interceptions, and while his numbers aren't mind-boggling, he was a steadying presence in the Missouri defensive backfield, especially once he was asked to lead even more upon the suspension of safety Jasper Simmons. Harrison even played at linebacker against Iowa State – the first time he had done so since grade school – to help defensive coordinator Dave Steckel deal with attrition at the position. The other surprise defensively was end Brad Madison, who led Mizzou with 7.5 sacks, including 3.0 against Texas A&M while filling in for an injured Aldon Smith. His play in 2010 is why fans aren't jumping off ledges with Smith's declaration for the NFL.

5. What does Missouri need to do to improve this off-season so it can challenge for the Big 12 (or whatever they will be calling it) Title?

Mizzou's chances at the Bevo Ten Championship (see what I did there?) aren't necessarily going to be based on what they can improve but rather what they can replace. Mizzou only lost four senior starters total on both sides of the ball and then lost its two NFL-bound players. The quarterback situation will receive the multitude of the spotlight, and for obvious reasons. Missouri should feel largely confident in its ability to replace Aldon Smith at defensive end, but the really pressing need Missouri will find itself with is the defensive backfield. After being the team's weak link in 2008 and 2009, the defensive backfield was outstanding in 2010, but it now loses two seniors at cornerback with six combined years of starting experience in Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, as well as Harrison, mentioned above. Mizzou coaches and reporters say they've been recruiting much better athletes at defensive back, and now it's time to prove it. Cornerbacks Kip Edwards and E.J. Gaines both looked very solid during their appearances in 2010, and Missouri's shot at the conference may rest on their ability to assume starting roles with minimal trouble.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This Week In College Football: Iowa, Recruiting, Paul Johnson, Muschamp and Herschel

Iowa Hawkeyes Hospitalized

Thirteen Iowa football players were hospitalized this week with rhabdomyolysis as a result of winter workouts. Rhabdomyolysis is defined as a rare, but serious, medical condition in which skeletal muscle fibers rapidly breakdown and release proteins into the bloodstream. It's characterized by profound muscle weakness and tenderness, and brown-colored urine.The condition could lead to kidney failure, arrthymias, and death if not treated quickly. So needless to say, this was a pretty big deal. Thirteen kids in the hospital on one team, with no real commonalities in class or position. The Head Coach is out on the road recruiting and you have a lot of pissed off parents demanding answers. Not a pretty site and a mess for the Hawkeyes program which has been dealing with a lot of adversity lately. There were a lot of questions and there still remains many. Tox screens have reportedly came back negative. As of Friday, five of the players were out of the hospital. Most teams go through very strenuous work outs in the off-season and that will continue but hopefully teams will learn about the dangers of having too strenuous of work-outs after extended lay-offs. This is a story we will continue to watch and hopefully everything will work out for those afflicted in the Iowa program. 

Recruiting Update

NSD (National Signing Day) is February 2nd. For those of you that are calendar challenged that's this coming Wednesday! You can simply flip on the 4-letter network on that day at any time and I'm sure you will get your fill of recruiting. One team that is really coming on strong, much to my delight, is the Georgia Bulldogs. They were the big winner last week when they landed TE Jay Rome (ESPNU #18) and WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell (ESPNU #45). It was more good news this week when DE Ray Drew (ESPNU #13) made his verbal commitment to Georgia on Friday. Drew is a 6'5, 253 lb 5-star prospect that looks like he can make an immediate impact (not that he's going to be a starter Day 1 but he should get some burn). He will be wearing #47, which was worn by Georgia legend David Pollock. Drew looks to play OLB like Justin Houston did and could also play some DE in the 3-4. Earlier in the week Georgia had also gotten a commitment from the top OL in the state, Xzavier Ward. He's ranked as a 4-star guy from ESPN (and 3-stars from Rivals and Scout) and is listed as #9 on the AJC Fab 50 (basically a list of the top 50 recruits in the state of Georgia). Georgia currently has 7 of the top 12 players in the Fab 50 and could get an 8th on NSD. Georgia has also come out of nowhere to be in the running for DE Jeffrey Pagan, ESPNU #53, who recently de-committed from Clemson (he also previously de-committed from Florida so you might not want to get too excited about him until he signs his name on the line) and ESPNU #150 OL Antonio Richardson. Between those guys and NT John Jenkins and RB Isaiah Crowell it will be a very interested Wed for Georgia fans. The MVP of this recruiting run for Georgia has been Mike Bobo. He is winning South Georgia against some very good recruiters.

ESPNU#28 RB Savon Huggins made his decision on Friday and he picked Rutgers over North Carolina. Huggins becomes the first top-rated New Jersey recruit landed by Rutgers in the Greg Schiano era. After a very disappointing 2010 for Rutgers this could be a spark that they need. Rutgers is currently listed as #30 on the rivals list of top teams but they are second behind only Charlie Strong and Louisville in the Big East.

Paul Johnson's Double Standard

While we are on recruiting let's talk a little Georgia Tech and Paul Johnson. Before I get into this let me say that I think Paul Johnson is a great offensive coach but I just don't understand him on this point. On Thursday Paul Johnson rescinded his scholarship offer from DT Tre Jackson. He did this because Jackson, who committed to Tech in October, has started to heat up and has gotten some calls from schools such as FSU and was going to take a visit to see what they offered (no not in the Cecil Newton sense). Well, Paul did not like this as he has a rule that once you verbally commit to Tech that you are not allowed to visit other schools or your scholarship offer will be rescinded. I have a couple of issues with this. The biggest issue I have is that Paul has no problem talking to kids that are verbally committed to other schools and having them take visits to Tech because if they are willing to come on a visit then he doesn't consider them committed to that school. So he has no problem taking a kid who breaks his commitment from one school to accept his but he doesn't want to be rejected by someone who might be thinking of changing his commitment. I was able to listen to 790theZone a bit on Friday and all of the Tech fans that called in did not like way Johnson was handling this. In my eyes, Johnson needs to realize that he coaches at Georgia Tech- not Alabama or USC or Florida or Texas (a school that basically recruits itself). Johnson needs all the players he can get, especially on defense where Tech has not been good at all in the last two years, and in this era of college football and recruiting coaches have to re-recruit guys that have already committed. Paul Johnson needs to wake up and spend some time re-recruiting instead of giving up due to fear of rejection. You coach at Georgia Tech, the last time I checked it's not exactly recruiting itself and while some players go to the NFL it's not a pipeline to the NFL. Re-recruiting is part of the game now and if you aren't willing to do it then you aren't a good recruiter and will suffer on the field.

Will Muschamp's First Tough Call

Florida CB Janoris Jenkins was recently charged with possession of marijuana. This was his second brush with the law in the last two years as he also was arrested in May of 2009 when he resisted arrest. During Urban Meyer's reign at Florida there were a lot of off-the-field issues. When Will Muschamp took over here's what he had to say about "The Florida Way":

“There's a certain thing that I'm going to refer to as the Florida Way, and that's the way they need to act and that's the way they need to represent our university...I'm going to demand that and I think that you'll understand in time that that's something that's very important to me...When you walk into a home and you talk about being a student-athlete at the University of Florida, I talk in terms of I want all of our student-athletes to come into our program to be a better person for having been at Florida. And I'm not just talking from a football standpoint. I'm talking about the off-the-field things.”

Sounds good, there is a new sheriff in town and Muschamp is not gonna take any ish. But wait...your best defensive player just got busted for pot and it's not the first time he's been in trouble with the law! So what do you do in your first "player issue" decision? What do you do that will make a statement to your players about the new direction of your team and "The Florida Way"? Muschamp says he will handle the situation "internally at this time." Of course, you will because that's the real Florida way. It's easy to talk the talk, but Muschamp is yet to walk the walk. You can't change a culture by ignoring it and hoping it goes away. I'm sure Florida would have really missed him for the Florida Atlantic and UAB games but I guess Muschamp really thinks they need him to win those games. Just wait until that second string LB screws up though, he's gonna pay.

Herschel Walker

So it's not technically College Football....on Saturday night Herschel Walker made his second entrance into the Octagon and just overwhelmed his opponent, Scott Carson. Herschel jumped on Carson early and took him down with a right hand and then stayed on top of him and controlled him with punches. Carson tried to get back to his feet and Walker continued his barrage until the referee stopped the fight. Let's not kid ourselves, Carson is not a "name" in MMA and is still a hand-picked opponent for Herschel but it was impressive seeing Herschel's progression since his last fight as he looked a lot more comfortable and was a lot more aggressive. It will be interesting to see what happens as Herschel continues to fight tougher guys.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Boise State Broncos: 2010 Exit Survey

Coming off of a 14-0 record the previous year, 2010 set-up as Boise State's best chance yet to make a run at the National Championship. Boise State started off with an impressive victory in the opening week against Virginia Tech. In week three Boise State beat it's other BCS non-conference opponent as it took out talented but jekyl & hyde Oregon State. Boise State then went on a run of terror against non-BCS Conference foes where their closest margin of victory was 29 points against Louisiana Tech. After destroying Fresno State by the tune of 51-0, the Broncos fell to a ranked Nevada team 34-31 in OT by a missed FG. Did Boise's run of easy targets set them up for the loss? It's tough to be in a position like Boise is in. You play in a conference where their isn't anybody else on your level so you basically play 8 easy "gimme" games a year. You try to schedule up but a lot of the bigger name teams don't have anything to gain by playing Boise (and have much more to lose) so Boise ends up only getting big match-ups here and there and it's almost always at their opponents stadium or near their opponents lair. While it's much easier for Boise to run the table than say LSU or Alabama there is also the argument that maybe they aren't as battle tested as they could be if they played in a better conference. Led by 2011 Heisman Candidate Kellen Moore and talented WRs Austin Pettis and Titus Young, Boise State had another great season in 2010 and I think that Boise can play with any team in the country on any given day. The question that we will never know (at least not right now) is how Boise would do if they played big-time talent week in and week out and had to face the grind of a conference schedule that teams in the SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten face instead of having borderline scrimmages every week instead of conference games. Would the attrition of playing against tougher teams and better coaches wear on the team mentally and physically or would it keep them sharper because they know they have to be on their A game every week? That's one of the questions that keeps Boise on the outside looking in when a lot of pollsters make their ballots and I can't say that I blame them. I would love to see Boise get a chance to step up into a bigger pond and play a tougher schedule and see how they could do. Next year Boise again looks like it has a two-team schedule as they open up against a talented Georgia team that severely under-achieved in 2010 and they end it against a tough TCU team that will be starting a new QB this year. In 2010, even if Boise had gone undefeated they would not have played for the National Championship because of a combination of their schedule and the fact that two teams from BCS Conferences went undefeated. In 2011, Boise State's National Championship hopes again rest on them winning out and having other teams fall by the way-side. We caught up with Kevan Lee of the SB Nation Boise State Blog One Bronco Nation Under God (OBNUG) to get his take on the 2010 Broncos and get a quick peak into 2011.

1. Expectations ran high for the Broncos this year. Do you feel that this team met expectations this year?

Boise State fans had some pretty high expectations - like winning a national championship. So no, Boise State did not meet expectations. Now, whether or not those expectations were reasonable or fair is an entirely different question and one that I'm glad you didn't ask. I don't have the answer to that one.

Thing is, this was perhaps the greatest football team in Boise State history. Obviously, there's room for debate about that since the "greatest team" couldn't do what so many previous ones had - go undefeated. Football's a weird game like that, where anything can happen and on-paper greatness can be undone by a series of bounces or a pair of short uprights. What? Was that out loud? My apologies. I do not mean to hijack this Q&A into a discussion about WAC officiating, which is terrible. Just saying.

2. Which player were the biggest surprise of the season?

DE Shea McClellin had the outstanding season that many expected DE Ryan Winterswyk to have. It helped that Winterswyk was double teamed all the time in order to avoid said outstanding season. But still, McClellin made at least one play per game where you thought, "Wow, this kid is really good at football," or "Wow, toeheads can excel in organized sports." (As a toehead myself, I can understand the poignancy of the latter.)

A lot of other players could fall into the "surprise" category, too, but I'd like to point out one really obvious one: Titus Young. He surprised me with the way he became Boise State's clear-cut No. 1 receiving threat despite the presence of Austin Pettis. That, my friend, is not easy to do.

3. Which player are you most excited about for next season?

The combination of Kellen Moore / Doug Martin is going to keep Bronco hearts warmed all offseason long. BSU has college football's best quarterback (blah blah Andrew Luck, yeah I get it) and one of its most dynamic running backs. The returning starters aren't nearly as many as last year, but that fact seems a little easier to swallow with Moore and Martin returning to the backfield.

4. Boise State had a great duo of senior receivers (Austin Pettis and TItus Young). Who steps up to replace them next year?

The players who are most likely to fill in for Pettis and Young will probably come from this group: Tyler Shoemaker, Mitch Burroughs, Chris Potter, Geraldo Hiwat, Aaron Burks, and Kirby Moore.

My money is on Shoemaker to play the Pettis role next year. His style of play is similar to Pettis in that he is a big body with strong hands who can make plays on key downs and distances. Whether he has the route-running and separation skills needed to survive as Boise State's WR1 remains to be seen.

Opposite Shoemaker, I think Hiwat gets the call. If the Broncos are serious about filling in for Pettis and Young as closely as possible, they'll need a burner and a deep threat outside. Hiwat would be the obvious choice in that role based on his cameos in-season.

Moore is my pick for the starting slot receiver, although I wouldn't be surprised if he pushes either Shoemaker or Hiwat for playing time at the X or Y spots.

5. How big is the Georgia game to start off the year? Boise will be coming in as the higher ranked team and the favorite but Georgia will have a chip on it's shoulder after having two consecutive disappointing seasons.

This game is just as big as the VT one was last year. If Boise State wins, it has a good road to a BCS berth. If it loses, season over. #collegefootballsigh

The difference will be that not as many people will talk about this one since Georgia may not be a preseason Top 25 team. Psychologically, the remnants of the 2005 disaster still remain for Bronco fans, but as far as the players are concerned, none of them played back then and it won't matter. The more important factors will be how quickly Boise State's new starters gel in the starting lineup. This Bronco team could be very good by November but still a little shaky in September.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ohio State Buckeyes: 2010 Exit Survey

2010 CFBZ Prediction: 1st place in the Big Ten
2010 Actual Finish: Tied for 1st place in the Big Ten (12-1, 7-1)

Ohio State had another very good year in 2010 as Jim Tressel led the Buckeyes to their 6th straight double digit win total. It was also the 6th straight year that Ohio State lost no more than one conference game. Now that is an impressive stat. Ohio State's lone slip up this year was at Wisconsin where they fell by 13 when they were ranked as the #1 team in the country in the AP Poll. 2011 will be a very interesting year for the Buckeyes as they will start off their first five games without four offensive starters QB (Terrelle Pryor), RB (Dan Herren), OL Mike Adams, WR DeVier Posey. For my money the most interesting games for the Buckeyes next year will be the Sept 17th game at Miami (Fl) where Al Golden and gang will look for a signature win and the first game that the suspended players are back- which is at new Big Ten school Nebraska. Will the suspended players be ready to compete at mid-season form or will they be rusty? To talk Ohio State football we summoned HD Handshoe of BlockONation to get the answers to some of our questions about the 2010 season and get a quick peak at 2011.

1. Ohio State had a very strong year going 12-1 and beating Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. What were your favorite memories from the 2010/2011 season?

I have a couple. Beating Michigan is always great so that stands out. Tressel is now 9-1 and OSU has not lost to UM in 7 years, and then of course the Sugar Bowl win and finally ending the 0-for-forever (0-9) steak vs. SEC opponents in the postseason is a huge weight lifted off of the fans, Tressel, and the program as a whole.

2. Which players surprised you the most with their play?

Well, we always have high expectations of all of our players, especially our starters, so I was not overly surprised during the season by anyone's play, although I will say that Dane Sanzenbacher certainly exceeded all expectations, leading the Buckeyes in both receptions (55), receiving yards (948), and touchdown catches (11).

3. Which players are you most looking forward to watching play next year?

With the looming suspensions, it's going to be very interesting to see what happens this Spring as the Buckeyes prepare to replace QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron, and WR DeVier Posey for the first 4-5 games.

Coach Tressel will do what's best for the team but I am hoping to see either Kenny Guiton or Taylor Graham at QB, but 5th year senior Joe Bauserman could get the call, or top recruit and early-enrollee Braxton Miller could burn what we all believed would be a redshirt season if he outshines the others.

At running back, it's hard to say who will emerge. The Bucks are loaded with young talented guys all looking for their shot. Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Carlos Hyde, or Roderick Smith will get that chance. We may also see more than one of them get a lot of touches in the first 4-5 games, and perhaps beyond that if they are tearing it up. Herron may end up wishing he had declared for the NFL...

With Posey suspended, and Sanzenbacher graduating, the big shoes to fill are obviously at WR. It's too early to call but my gut says Corey Brown, James Jackson, TY Williams, James Louis, and Chris Fields could all potentially see significant time. All these guys were 4 or 5 star recruits, but Brown is the only one who has any real experience this far, so it is a concern due to that lack of experience.

4. Five Buckeyes are suspended for the first five games of next season. The two games to watch during this stretch are Miami (Fl) and Michigan State. Who do you think is going to step up in their absence and how difficult will it be filling the void these guys leave for 5 games?

I kind of touched on this already but I will also say Miami and Michigan State are good teams so there are no guarantees in those games, but if Tressel limits the risks for our young QBs and inexperienced WRs and leans on the slew of talented RBs and what should again be one of the best defensive units in the country, I'm pretty confident both games are winnable and 5-0 is still a very real and attainable possibility for OSU even without Pryor and company.

5. Heading into the 2011/2012 season, what are the major things that the Buckeyes need to improve in order to get back to the Rose Bowl or a BCS Championship Game?

They have to replace studs Chmidi Chekwa and Cam Heyward on defense, and the WR position is obviously the biggest concern based on the lack of game experience, but they are Ohio State - they have players and they always reload.

I can't help but think of the big kick/punt returns by Miami and Wisconsin against the Buckeyes last season, so Special Teams, specifically the kick and punt coverage units must be better. If Wisconsin didn't get the huge touchdown return they did against Ohio State, the Buckeyes just might have won that game and they would have likely played for the BCS title last year.

Resistance Bands, Free Blogger Templates