Important Things Preseason Top 20

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

I get it. Preseason polls are worthless and meaningless. But I like making up a poll to look back on at the end of the season to see how well I analyzed teams before they play.

1. Oklahoma

The Sooners’ offense, led by quarterback Landry Jones will draw comparisons to OU’s 2008 offense. Tailback Roy Finch is finally living up to the hype coming out of high school, and be the key opening up their potent passing attack consisting of the best wide receiver tandem in the country – Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills. Depth and experience on defense will make the loss of linebacker Travis Lewis sting a lot less than you may think. There’s might be an undefeated BCS conference school this season, which could give OU room for a loss at Florida State, Oklahoma State, or at home against Texas A&M.

2. Alabama

Bama’s beatdown of a solid Michigan State squad in last year’s bowl game was a preview of the Tide in 2011.  The defense will be legendary thanks to 10 returning starters and at least five potential first round draft picks – linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Donte Hightower, safeties Robert Lester and Mark Barron, and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Their offense could easily be pedestrian after losing quarterback Greg McElroy, receiver and top 10 draft pick Julio Jones, first round pick and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, and first round draft pick offensive tackle James Carpenter. However, tailback Trent Richardson will look like Ricky Williams in a Crimson Jersey. Even if the offense is average, if they can score 14 points per game the defense will win games for them.

3. Oregon

The Ducks’ are in good shape to be the one-loss team that makes it to the BCS title game. Even if they do lose to highly-ranked LSU in the season opener, thye won’t fall far, and the past has shown us that losing a game early is far better than losing one late in the season. Even so, I predict them to win that game, but they have potential losses at Stanford and traps games at Washington at home against USC. The two keys on offense are back – quarterback Darron Thomas and Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James. They are the cogs that make Chip Kelly’s prolific offenses work, and will overcome the lack of depth at other skill positions. Thomas won’t have his safety net of a receiver in Jeff Maehl, but Oregon has talent at every position that just need some snaps.

4. Stanford

All the pieces are there for the Cardinal to continue their dominance post-Jim Harbaugh. Junior quarterback Andrew Luck is head and shoulders above any quarterback in the game, and would be a starter on half of the NFL’s sqauds. Their pro style offense will be dominant in the Pac-12, a conference that lacks elite defenses, aside from Stanford potentially. Jim Harbaugh quietly build up a great defense before he left, and most of the key members return. They’ll cruise through the first seven games before a potential road block at USC, where Monte Kiffin’s defense should never be counted out. They get Oregon at home in the middle of November, when the Ducks’ offense may be scouted by. Maybe.

5. Texas A&M

The only Big 12 team that could have a better offense than Oklahoma is undoubtedly A&M. They became a championship-caliber unit when Ryan Tannehill took the reins at quarterback, throwing to potentially the best three-man wide receiving squad in th nation – Jeff Fuller, Ryan Swope, and Uzoma Nuwachukwu. They’ll sport the best running back duo in the conference with Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. The wrecking crew defense will see a resurgence under second-year defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, a defensive genius who will be the head coach of a major program in the next five years. They get Oklahoma State at home, and shoud be able to handle Arkansas at home early in the season. A November trip to Oklahoma will be the games that costs the Aggies the Big 12 Championship.

6. Florida State

Jimbo Fisher’s squad has everything it takes to rip through the ACC like a wet napkin. However, Oklahoma comes to town September 17 and will give the Seminoles their one and only loss. Other than that, the schedule sets up nicely for them, likely without a single ranked opponent in conference play. They do travel to Florida in the final game of the season, when Will Muschamp’s Gators may be rolling by, but FSU is still the better team. The defense is only going to continue getting better under Mark Stoops, and the studs in the back seven are finally going to shine, especially corner Greg Reid. The offense, led by E.J. Manuel should start playing consistently at the level they showed flashes of last year. Seminole fans can start buying their Orange Bowl tickets as soon as they go on sale.

7. Boise State

As long Chris Petersen is the coach and Kellen Moore is the quarterback, the Broncos are basically a lock for the top 10. Moore, a Heisman finalist, will surpass Colt McCoy as the all-time leader for games won as a starter. He may have lost his top two receiving targets Titus Young and Austin Pettis to the NFL, but the offensive line is tested. Tailback Doug Martin returns after rushing for over 1100 yards in 2010. Boise’s defensive line is deep, talented, and experienced, and should be able to shut down nearly all of their opponents. They have losable games starting week one when they travel to Georgia, where they Bulldogs have high expectations this year. They have their third game against TCU in the last four years, which looks to be a defensive showdown. Finally, they have a potential trap game late in the season against San Diego State, led by potential first round draft pick Ryan Lindley and sophomore sensation tailback Ronnie Hillman, who rushed for over 1500 yards as a true freshman in 2010.

8. Virginia Tech

The Hokies’ schedule is an absolute cakewalk. Florida State may not play a ranked opponent in conference play, but VT probably won’t play a ranked opponent all season. If first year quarterback Logan Thomas is half as good as experts like Ryan McGee and Bruce Feldman say he is, the Hokies have no excuse not to go 12-0 in the regualar season. Bud Foster’s perennial elite defense will be headlined by all-ACC corner and potential first round draft pick Jayron Hosely. The offense may have lost Tyrod Taylor and tailbacks Darren Evans and Ryan Williams, but the top four receivers all return. Unfortunately for VT, they will meet a deeper and more talented Florida State in the ACC Championship for their first loss.

9. LSU

LSU can’t keep having the ridiculous luck that they’ve had under Les Miles, right? I don’t think so. While the Tigers’ defense should be stout, the offense lost their leading rusher tailback Stevan Ridley to the NFL. The next leading rusher after him? Quarterback Jordan Jefferson, with 383 yards. As a quarterback, Jefferson is still pedestrian. He has weapons around him however, in receivers Reuben Randle and Russell Shepard. Jefferson may be sub-par as a passer, but his supporting cast will make him better, and the defense under John Chavis will be second only in the SEC to Alabama. If they weren’t in the SEC West with games at Mississipi State, West Virginia, and Alabama, and home games against Oregon, Florida, and Arkansas, they would be in my top five.

10. TCU

The Frogs’ defense will be stout as ever under Gary Patterson and defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas, which would usually merit a top five ranking. But former quarterback Andy Dalton, the reason TCU emerged as a perennial powerhouse in the last three years has moved on to the NFL.  The loss of receiver and ace kick returner Jeremy Kerley will show as well. Their top receiver Josh Boyce and leading rusher Ed Wesley will provide reliable target and safety for first year quarterback Casey Paschall. And yet again, like LSU, TCU’s defense will be good enough to win 11 games. An October game against San Diego State will be a tough but winnable game for the Frogs, and the only should come at the hands of Boise State in the 10th game of the season.

11. Oklahoma State

Brandon Weeden to Justing Blackmon would be good for nine wins at almost any school.  In the top heavy Big 12 it should be good enough for 10 wins. The Cowboy air attack will as potent as ever under Mike Gundy, but offensive coordinator Dana Holgerson is gone to West Virginia. And perhaps even more damaging is the loss of tailback Kendall Hunter, who rushed for over 4000 yards during his career in Stillwater. Without the rushing prowess that Hunter brought, I have a hard time believing freeing up the passing game as easily, OSU’s offensive line will be great yet again, anchored by all-Big 12 tackle Levy Adcock.  But with Mike Gundy running the offense again, they will find ways to use the weapons they have.

12. Wisconsin

Bringing in former NC State star quarterback Russell Wilson to replace now San Diego Charger Scott Tolzien certainly give the Badgers a boost, but the Badgers have too much to replace to make a national championship run. All-American tackle Gabe Carimi is gone to the NFL as well as guard John Moffit. They also lost tight end and leading receiver Lance Kendricks, tailback John Clay, and receiver David Gilreath. But Wilson still has targets outside and a solid running back tandem of James White and Montee Ball, as long as Bret Bielema is the coach the offensive line will be great. The defense also lost valuable members in J.J. Watt and safety Jay Valai, but Wisconsin’s defense has relied on good fundamentals, not just superstars. Wisconsin should win the Big Ten, but much of the season relies on how well Russell Wilson does with the little preparation time that he’s had.

13. South Carolina

This year’s squad is in line to be Steve Spurrier’s best team he’s fielded as head coach at South Carolina, and they will be SEC East Champions again. An early test against an improved Georgia team should give a good impression of where they stand, but it only gets tougher with games at Mississippi State and Arkansas, and home games against Florida, Auburn, and Clemson. The offense should be the best in a long time with inconsistent but tested quarterback Stephen Garcia, All-Everything receiver Alshon Jefferey, and tailback Marcus Lattimore. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson strong unit will be headlined potential first round pick Stephon Gilmore. If they play to their ability, the Gamecocks could go undefeated in the regular season, but until Spurrier’s team shows consistency they could be between 8-4 to 11-1 in the tough SEC.

14. Nebraska

Not surprisingly, defense looks to be the Huskers’ cornerstone in Bo Pelini’s fourth year as head coach. With an All-American at all three levels of the defense – defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker Lavonte David, and corner Alfonzo Dennard – Carl Pelini will have his deepest unit yet. The offense is what has kept Nebraska from reaching elite status under Pelini, but new offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s aggressive mindset has Husker fans hopeful. If early 2010 sensation quarterback Taylor Martinez has improved in the passing game in the off season, the weapons and speed are there for the offense to be in the top half of the Big Ten. The Huskers will win the new Legends division, but key games at Wisconsin and Penn State and home games against Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa will show if they’re good enough to win the Big Ten in their first season there.

15. Arkansas

The entire off season at Arkansas seemed to center on the transition from former quarterback Ryan Mallett to Tyler Wilson, some saying that he could be even better than Mallett. Personally, I don’t buy that, but from what the experts have been writing after seeing him in action, it sounds like the Hogs could have the best offense in the SEC. However, starting tailback  Knile Davis, who most heralded as the top back in the conference, tore a tendon and is lost for the season. The bulk of the carries will now go to Ronnie Wingo JR., a once a highly touted back in his own right. As if that wasn’t enough the worry about, they have a brutal schedule with home games against Texas A&M and South Carolina, and Mississippi State, and road visits to Alabama and LSU. They will be a very good team, but won’t walk away from those five games without at least two losses or more.

16. Michigan State

The Spartans got exposed as possibly overrated last year after being spanked by Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. However, they have talent and experience coming back across the board as should be improved from last year. The offense should be potent with the impressive backfield of quarterback Kirk Cousins and tailback Edwin Baker, despite the loss of offensive coordinator Don Treadwell. The defense, anchored by star defensive tackle Jerel Worthy should be stout as MSU continues its recent tradition of producing great linebackers. If not for a difficult schedule with games at an improving Notre Dame, Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern, and home games against Wisconsin and Michigan. If they can pull off some upsets in conference play, especially one at Nebraska, they could win the Legends division.

17. Florida

The country should be frightened at how good Florida is going to be in the coming years with the dream team of a coaching staff that they have. For the time being, it is still Muchamp and Weis’ first year as coaches there. The talent is all there across the board, but much of the defensive back seven is raw and unexperienced, with safety Will Hill being the biggest exception. The offense could be very good under Weis with quarterback John Brantley, tailback Jeff Demps, and receivers Deonte Cooper and Andre Dubose. The strongest point of the defense is speed, not size, which can make the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense difficult. They should be playing at a high level by the second half of the season, unfortunately for them, games against Georgia, Alabama, and at LSU are in the first eight games. After that they play at South Carolina and home against in-state rival Florida State.

18. USC

Hate on Lane Kiffin all you want, but he’s a fine offensive mind and quarterback coach, and he’s got an virtuoso at the helm of his offense in Matt Barkley. The reason Barkley doesn’t receive the credit he deserves is overshadowing of Andrew Luck. Kiffin will have the stacked Trojans firing on all cylinders this year on offense, and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will field the best defense in the Pac 12. USC has a veteran offensive line anchored by first round lock Matt Kalil, and tailback Dillon Baxter will be a household name by the middle of October. They should be 7-0 when Stanford rolls into town and hands them their first loss if they avoid potential trap losses to Stanford, Utah, and Arizona State. Their trip to Oregon will be the second loss of the season. They may not be able to compete in the post season, but they will be top dog in the Pac 12 South

19. Missouri

They may have lost quarterback Blaine Gabbert to the first round of the NFL draft, but Missouri should be an even better all-around team in 2011. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel has quietly brought a resurgence to the Tiger defense in the last two years, leading them to a 6th-ranked scoring defense in 2010. The coaching is there, and they have the most talented defensive line in the Big 12.  If first year quarterback James Franklin plays like the flashes he showed in 2010, Missouri’s stacked receiving corps will make him look even better. They return their top four receivers, including All-American tight end Michael Egnew and 800+ yard receiver T.J. Moe. The bad news for Missouri is the schedule, with away games at Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Even the home game against Oklahoma State could be a loss. They should pull off one of those upsets, but if not a 9-3 record probably won’t even score them a Cotton Bowl bid behind OU, OSU and A&M.

20. Ohio State

Amidst the tattoo gate scandal, many people think the punishments were going to affect the football team more than it actually will. It cost them Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel, but most parts of the football team are actually still there. I would rank them higher if not for the seniors lost to the draft, no the loss of Pryor and Tressel. They lost five players to the draft, not including free agent signing of receiver Dane Sanzenbacher. The remaining players players on defense are still great players, including linebackers Andrew Sweat and Tyler Moeller. The offense will have a first year quarterback after the quarterback battle ends. On offense they return tailback Boom Herron and tight end Jake Stoneburner at skill positions, and J.B. Shugarts and All-Big Ten tackle Mike Adams on the offensive line. They get Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Penn State at home, but have to travel to Nebraska as the Huskers’ first Big Ten opponent.

 

Categories: Random Links

2011 NCAA Football Preview Pt. 1: Early Heisman race

It’s been a while. I’m going to try out the Bruce Feldman format this time.

The world hasn’t seen a Heisman winner like Cam Newton ever in my lifetime. Though this year’s winner likely won’t be another first year starter or transfer, there aren’t many standouts early.

The likely top candidate is Stanford QB Andrew Luck. The junior has been heralded as the top QB prospects coming out of college since Peyton Manning in the late 90’s. Structurally, you couldn’t ask for a better QB – 6’5″ and just shy of 240 lbs. He possesses all the tools a pro QB needs and has showcased it at Stanford for the last two years. He’s as tough as they come too, showcase in this Ed Reed-esque hit against USC. With a veteran O-Line and solid receiving corps including Chris Owusu, Luck will be the best player in College Football. He may not put up the video game stats needed to win the award, however.

My actual favorite to win the award (and sits in most peoples’ top three) is Bama junior running back Trent Richardson. Now that poster boy Mark Ingram is gone to the Saints, Richardson will be the Tide’s feature back – in every sense of the word. With a new QB at the helm (whom hasn’t even been chosen yet) Richardson will definitely get the number of carries needed to put up 1500+ yards on the ground. Physically, you won’t find a better looking back that Richardson. He’s a poor man’s Ricky Williams at 5’11”, 220 lbs. He runs in the low-to-middle 4.4’s, and even returns punts – the factor that likely tipped the Heisman scale for 1999 winner Charles Woodson.

The last serious contender at this point who no one seems to be giving any credit to is Oregon’s LaMichael James. James led that nation last year totaling over 1700 yards rushing. The Texas native is absolutely taylor-made for Chip Kelly faced-paced offense, and should realistically be able to equal his performance last season. The biggest issue for James is his size – can he stay as durable as he has at just 5’9″ 185 lbs? The Pac-12 hasn’t play much defense in the last two years, so who knows.

Two players too good to be labeled “darkhorses” are Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery.  Both will be among the top-10 most talented players next season, but the Heisman hasn’t given much love to receivers in recent years. Blackmon, who is  an amazing-catch machine, will be labeled as a “product of the system” playing in Oklahoma State’s spread offense. Jeffery, who is a nightmare of a matchup at 6’4″ 235 lbs, may be a better receiver than Blackmon, but won’t put up the stats that Blackmon will.

Quick hit candidates (In no particular order):

Kellen Moore – QB, BSU: Can he produce without the two best receiving threats he’s ever had in Austin Pettis and Titus young?

Dennard Robinson – QB, MU: Will he run wild or distribute the ball more in Al Borges’ new pro-style offense?

Matt Barkley – QB, USC: Likely won’t have the talent around him to showcase his own.

Brandon Weeden – QB, OKST: Like Blackmon, will receive the “system QB” label.

Taylor Martinez – QB, NU: Is he durable enough to be at full speed for a whole season?

Dan Persa – QB, NW: If he’s 100% coming back from an ACL tear, could be an elite QB.

Ryan Lindley – QB, SDSU: A great pro prosepct, can he get the hype and stats in the Mountain West?

Knile Davis – RB, ARK: With a new QB, Davis should get a big number of carries, topping 1300 yards again.

Ronnie Hillman – RB, SDSU: If he builds on a sensational freshman year, he’ll be in the top-5 fast.

Landry Jones – QB, OU: He’s got experience, talent, weapons around him, and possibly the best team in college football.

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Categories: Random Links

What we learned in College Football: Week 5

October 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Not having a Husker game to watch or attend gave me a solid twelve hour day to watch football.  It was glorious.  Also, do yourself a favor and go see “The Social Network”

1.  Oregon adjusts better than any team in the country

They showed it last night, not only scoring 28 second quarter points, but holding Stanford to zero second half points.  They didn’t just do it against on of the nation’s top quarterbacks, they held a respectable Arizona State team to just seven second half points after 24 in the first.  Their best adjustments came against Tennessee, when the Ducks pitched a second half shutout while scoring 35 on the Vols.  If anyone is going to beat Oregon, they’re going to have to convince the officials to call it at halftime.

2.  There’s no question who the best team out there is, again

Florida is not the team they once were with Tim Tebow, but they were still absolutely outclassed by the Alabama.  Despite actually having a lower yardage total, Alabama had control of this game from the beginning and never looked back.  They’ve got hands down the best running back tandem in the country, and a seasoned game-manager of a quarterback.  They even showed against Arkansas that they can play from behind-and win.  Something catastrophic would need to happen to keep the Tide out of the championship game again this year.

3.  Contrary to popular belief, Denard Robinson is not in fact human

What can you say about this guy?  What he’s done so far has been absolutely unreal.  He’s leading the nation in rushing yards with 905, nearly 200 more than the next competitor.  He’s third national with a passer rating of 180, and broke the 1000 yard passing mark this week.  He’s on pace to rush for over 2000 yards, and pass for nearly 2500, which would be an absolute earth-shattering record.  To put his numbers into perspective, consider Georgia Tech’s Joshua Nesbitt of last year.  Robinson is about 125 rushing yards from matching Nesbitt’s total rushing yards from last year, and through 5 games, is halfway to the point of matching Nesbitt’s passing numbers-which he compiled in 14 games.  Granted, Michigan has not really played any very goods teams yet, and nothing close to some of the defenses they will face, but you can’t argue with the numbers.

4.  It’s going to take all season to sort out the Big 12

The SEC has Alabama, it looks like the Pac 10 and Big 10 have Oregon and Ohio State respectively, and the Big East has West Virginia.  But the Big 12 is doing a good job of hiding its best team.  Despite the win, Oklahoma looked unimpressive against hapless rebuilding Texas, Nebraska looked less than stellar last week against an FCS opponent, and Oklahoma State looks like they could play a spoiler (or sleeper?) role this year.  The division favorites look like Oklahoma and Nebraska at this point, but they won’t play in the regular season.  After the last two weeks, it certainly doesn’t look like any member will be running the table.

5.  It’s early, but it looks like Boise State will be getting left in the dust again

The pollsters jumped at the chance to put Oregon ahead of Boise State in the AP poll after their impressive win over top 10 Stanford.  It doesn’t look like any of the three teams at the top (Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon) will be going anywhere soon, which doesn’t bode well for Boise State and their woefully weak schedule, even if they do play Nevada.  As if that’s not enough to worry about, they will most certainly be passed up by an undefeated winner of the Utah-TCU match up.

Facts of the week

Through 5 weeks, Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas of Hawaii have the 2 highest receiving yardages in all of college football, both with over 600 yards receiving.  I’d be willing to bet that that’s happened less than 5 times

-Michigan’s Denard Robinson became the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush for 200 yards and pass for 200 yards in twice in one season.  Five games in, mind you.

-Washington has beaten USC in back to back years for the first time since 1996 and 1997

-Oregon State has not turned the ball over yet this season

-Seven Big 10 quarterbacks are ranked in the top 20 of passer ratings.  The Pac 10 has 2

-Monte Kiffin’s USC defense ranks 99th nationally

-The Big East and ACC no longer have any undefeated teams

-Joe Paterno is 3 wins shy of 400 all time wins

-Virginia Tech lost to to FCS James Madison and beat 23rd ranked NC State in a span of less than four weeks

Weekly Heisman Watch: Week 3

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

1.  Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

Until his fire turns off (which you have to think it eventually will, right?) he’s got to be the hands-down favorite.

2.  Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas

Torched Georgia for 380 yards with 3 TDs and no INTS, including a near perfect 4th quarter touchdown drive to get the win.  If he keeps lighting up SEC secondaries, he’ll be the top QB on the ballot.

3.  Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State

He’s averaging just shy of 185 yards per game, but the Wildcats are going to have to pull off a healthy handful of upsets for him to be here at the end of the year.

4.  Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State

He’s been steadily putting up great (but not eye-popping) numbers so far, and he’s played a good team in Miami.  If he continues to roll like he is through Big 10 play, he’ll likely be in New York.

5.  Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

He hasn’t put up awe-inspiring yardage, but he’s also thrown 10 TDs to no INTs.

Nebraska Week 3 Wrap Up: Starting to Take Shape

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Now that Nebraska has faced a legitimate(?) opponent, some of the unknowns surrounding this team are starting to get cleared up.  Obviously questions remain, but I think we’re starting to get a pretty good idea of the kind of team Nebraska is.

It wasn’t always pretty, and it hasn’t exactly looked pretty over the course of the 3 game season, but one thing is for sure- Nebraska is starting to look the part.

Washington is definitely not a good measuring stick compared to 2009 Virginia Tech (Nebraska’s first road test that year), but Nebraska certainly left a good impression in the first interview for top-10 position.

They did exactly what they needed to do first and foremost- make an early statement and keep the foot on the throat.  The early statement came when Eric Hagg picked off Jake Locker’s first pass attempt and returned it for 11 yards.  Two plays, 48 yards, and 36 seconds later, Mike McNeil hauled in a Taylor Martinez touchdown pass.  The offense never let up or folded, despite coughing up the ball inside their own 10 yard line and allowing an easy Washington touchdown that brought the Dawgs within a score.  They responded by marching to ball down the field in 8 plays into the endzone to take a 28-14 halftime lead.  They equaled the 28 first half points in the second half, 21 of which came in an explosive third quarter highlighted by Alfonzo Dennard’s 31 yard interception return for a score.

The defense looked equally impressive, holding (once presumed) Heisman hopeful and potential top draft pick Jake Locker to an ugly 4 of 20 for 71 yards passing, with one touchdown to two interceptions.  The lone touchdown allowed (and majority of yards) through the air came on a rare miscue by the Nebraska  secondary.  Although Washington did amass 175 yards rushing, it was eclipsed by their utter inability to get the passing game going.

-The ground game was unstoppable for Nebraska.  For only the fifth time in school history, Nebraska had three players rush for over 100 yards; Roy Helu, Taylor Martinez, and Rex Burkhead.  Brandon Kinnie also gained over 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career, add in his impressive 39 yard kickoff return, and he had bar none his best game in a Husker uniform to date.  I’m starting to read/hear more and more that he’s overtaken Niles Paul as the top receiver for Nebraska

-The rush defense still worries me.  The linebackers are undersized to begin with, and missing assignments are making Eric Martin and Lavonte David’s inexperience more known.  The secondary is simply shutting receivers down, but that’s going to matter when Kansas State runs Daniel Thomas up the middle 40 times in Manhattan, same with Kendall Hunter in Stillwater against Oklahoma State.  They have made some pretty good improvements up to this point, but they still need to improve for Nebraska to consider themselves and elite defense

-Don’t be surprised if South Dakota State scores some points on Nebraska next Saturday.  The reason?  Well, at the going rate, I might be playing strong safety in the fourth quarter after the coaching staff pulls the 1st stringers, 3rd stringers, water boys, and chain gang in the fourth quarter.

A few more predictions:

1.  Taylor Martinez might begin to hear faint Heisman whispers if they leave him in long enough on Saturday to account for over 300 yards.

2.  Nebraska will be tied for (if not leading) most interceptions in the nation after Saturday.  They are currently tied for second (8 INTs) to Florida (10 INTs).

3.  There will be a special teams touchdown by Nebraska in one of the next 2 games

4.  The race for the starting MIKE linebacker spot is going to heat up leading up to the Kansas State game, in Manhattan Kansas.

5.  Taylor Martinez will be named homecoming king on a write-in basis, despite being neither a candidate or eligible.

Weekly Heisman Watch: Week 2

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s obviously still way too early to predict even the Heisman candidates, but it’s still fun.  Here’s my take:

1.  Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

I’m not big into the phrase “carrying” when talking about a single football player.  But if there ever was an instance of one man carrying a football team on his back, it’s been Denard Robinson of Michigan.  He’s currently leading the country in rushing yards with 455 and three touchdowns, with 430 passing yards.  Last Saturday against Notre Dame he accounted for a staggering 94% of his team’s offense, a feat that has never before been accomplished.  For a frame of reference, consider Vince Young against USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl.  That was 84% of Texas’ offense.  The week before, Robinson accounted for 81% of Michigan’s offense in a 30-10 pounding of Connecticut.

Prospectus:  Robinson will still top this list after hammering UMass next week (although FCS teams are having quite the season, and no one knows that more than Michigan…)  However, before long Michigan is going to start playing some good defenses and teams will begin to break down Robinson.  I don’t believe one man can carry a team for an entire season at the rate he’s going.

2.  Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

Hunter has come back onto the scene with a bang after a disappointing injury plagued 2009.  He’s nearly on pace to be the first player to break 2000 yards rushing since Connecticut’s Donald Brown did it in 2008.  He’s had over 150 yards rushing in each of Oklahoma State’s first two outings, including an impressive 259 yard showing with 4 touchdowns in the Cowboys’ home opener against Washington State.

Prospectus:  Hunter will start getting talked up or torn down very soon; the next four games on the schedule include Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Nebraska.  If Hunter can produce similar numbers against some very good Big 12 defenses, he’ll be in the race until the end if Oklahoma State can win a few that they’re not supposed to.

3.  Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

At this point, Mallett looks to be this year’s inflated stats quarterback of the year.  He’s in the top 10 of rated quarterbacks, and is one of only four quarterbacks to have surpassed the 700 yard passing park so far.  He’s got 6 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions, and is currently the top passer in the SEC.  He’s definitely passed up FSU’s Christian Ponder at this point, but barely has the edge over OU’s Landry Jones merely based on yards.

Prospectus:  Mallett hasn’t played a real defense yet either.  However, last year he showed that he was the top quarterback in the SEC and we currently have no reason to believe he won’t be this year.  If he continues the trend of big number, lots of touchdowns, and few interceptions all while picking apart SEC defenses, he’ll be on this list for a while.

4.  Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Like I said, Jones is barely behind Mallett on my list strictly because of total passing yards.  He too has six touchdowns to only two interceptions and has passed for for just under 600 yards.  Jones has the leg up on Mallett in that he’s played a legitimate team in Florida State, but their defense is far from proven.

Prospectus:  Jones is going to be tested this Saturday by Air Force’s nasty pass defense, which intercepted Houston’s Case Keenum five times last year in the Armed Forces Bowl.  Although I’ve got a feeling that Jones and the Sooners are going to be doing a lot of putting teams in their place this year.  If he has good showings across the board against the pass defenses of Air Force, Texas, and Nebraska, he’ll be one of (if not THE) top quarterbacks in the country at the end of the year.