Posts Tagged 'butch davis'

Key Week 1 Match Up?…not any more

Well, I was all set to provide my first game day breakdown, and the game I had selected for week one was LSU vs North Carolina.  On paper, it looked like a great match up–the preseason AP ranks UNC #18 and LSU at #21, and our College FootBlog Preseason rankings had LSU ranked #18 with UNC slightly behind at #23.

On paper, this match up looked like a great opener for the 2010 college football season–at least it did a week ago.  That was before it was announced a couple of days ago that the NCAA has expanded its investigation into North Carolina’s program.  What started as an investigation into a couple of UNC players for attending a party in Miami that was allegedly funded by a sports agent has now expanded to a full-blown academic fraud investigation.

UNC coach Butch Davis could be missing eight starters on defense when the Tar Heels open against LSU next weekend (google images)

No one knows how long the investigation will last, but we will find out next weekend which players are involved.  That’s because all of those players will be noticeably absent from the playing field.  And the impact is massive.  Without what is basically North Carolina’s defense, which ranked sixth in total defense last season, the game on paper has gone from being a great opening day match up to a preseason scrimmage for LSU, so much so that Vegas pulled the game completely from the lines yesterday.

Even with what seems to be an imminent beat-down for the Tar Heels on Saturday, a week one loss only scratches the surface of what Coach Davis and UNC fans should be worried about.  If this scandal reaches as far as it appears and affects as many players as it is being reported, this scandal could set the North Carolina program back 3-4 years.

When the NCAA dropped the hammer on USC a few months ago, cutting several scholarships and banning the Trojans from post season play for two years, they established a much more stringent and unforgiving stance on major violations.  Because the NCAA unleashed these heavy sanctions on Southern Cal just months ago, they will have to be just as stern going forward, and they will have to be even more so, given the short time since the USC sanctions were announced.

In three short years, Coach Davis has taken his team from a middle of the pack ACC team to a preseason top 25 team.  Unfortunately for him and UNC, his program could easily drop back to (or beyond) obscurity in less time that it took him to build.  Only time will tell, but we know this much–this Saturday could mark the last time North Carolina will be ranking in the Top 25 in college football for a long, long time.

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2010 College Football ACC Preview (Coastal Division)

In case you missed it, earlier this week, we unveiled our initial power rankings for the ACC’s Atlantic Division (see link).  College FootBlog continues our breakdown, this time with the teams from the Coastal Division.  From all indications, the Coastal Division is much deeper than their friends from the Atlantic.  Let’s take a look at what we should expect this fall.

Va Tech's Ryan Williams finshed fifth in the country in rushing yards per game last season (google images)

1.  Virginia Tech:  Although the Hokies lost a lost a lot on defense from last season’s squad, they were able to retain defensive coordinator Bud Foster despite him being on several programs’ wish list during the off-season.  Even with the youth and inexperience, it would not be wise to count the Va Tech defense out as long as Foster is running the show.  Offensively, the Hokies may have a running back tandem that can rival any other tandem in the country, including Alabama.  We already know what to expect from Sophomore Ryan Williams, who rushed for over 1,600 yards last season, but the Hokies also return Darren Evans, who missed last season with an ACL tear. 

2.  Miami:  After a 9-4 season in ’09, the Hurricanes are looking for an ACC Championship this season.  Randy Shannon’s team benefited greatly from a coaching overhaul last spring, and the results spoke for themselves last fall, especially on offense.  Jacory Harris returns at quarterback and will try to pick up where he left off last season, when he completed nearly 60% of his passes for over 3,300 yards.  Linebacker Sean Spence leads the ‘Canes defense, which was young but talented last season and still ranked 29th nationally in total defense.  The November 20th match up at home against Va Tech will have major implications on who represents the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game.

3.  North Carolina:  Butch Davis has done wonders in Chapel Hill, especially on defense.  The Tar Heels ranked sixth overall in total defense last season.  Linebacker Quan Sturdivant is a legitimate potential first round draft pick in next spring’s NFL Draft.  As great as the UNC defense was last year, the offense was anemic.  The ‘Heels ranked a dismal 108th in total offense last year, and that must change if they want to challenge Miami and Va Tech for the Coastal Division crown.  That means quarterback TJ Yates must improve on his 14 TD/15 Int’s from a season ago.

GT coach Paul Johnson will rely heavily on QB Josh Nesbitt to keep the 'Jackets rushing offense among the nation's best (google images)

4.  Georgia Tech:  We will see how much the loss of running back work horse Jonathan Dwyer will affect the offense, but quarterback Josh Nesbitt returns for his third season as the engineer of Paul Johnson’s tricky, triple option offense.  Running back Anthony Allen appears to be up the challenge of filling Dwyer’s role, but defensively, the Jackets must replace first round draft pick DE Derrick Morgan and long-time starter at safety, Morgan Burnett, which could be a daunting task.

5.  Virginia:  First year head coach Mike London has his work cut out for him, but Cavaliers fans are hoping he can bring the same results that he has produced throughout his career, specifically when he was their defensive coordinator from ’06-’07.  In that short amount of time, London’s defenses were among the nation’s finest, and handed the Miami Hurricanes their worst ever loss at the Orange Bowl when they shut them out 48-0.  With his ties to the Hampton Roads area and his tenacity as a coach, Virginia should be better, but it will likely take a couple of years before we see the Cavs making serious waves in the ACC.

6:  Duke:  The Blue Devils round out our power rankings for the Coastal Division.  After a couple of season’s head coach David Cutliffe has made strides and last season coached them to a 5-7 record, which is quite an accomplishment, considering that is the best record in Durham since 1994.  The departure of quarterback Thaddeus Lewis will hurt Duke quite a bit, and there appears to be no one who can fill that void.  Look for Cutliffe to be under .500, but he will likely be rewarded with another head coaching opportunity after this season.

Next week, College FootBlog will take a look at the Big Ten in another two-part breakdown.  Let us know your thoughts on our ACC breakdown and our power rankings that will be published in the next couple of weeks.

College Football Preseason Top 25 (#16-#25)

As the end of Spring Football draws near, some major college football programs have answered some questions, while others have more questions than they had in February.  In this three-part series, College FootBlog will release our Preseason 2010 Top 25 with some insight on each team and the season that will be here in five months.  In this first edition, we will break down #16-#25.

Oregon State RB Quizz Rodgers is one of the most electric players in college football (google images)

16.  Oregon State:  The Beavers surprised many outside of their conference last season, but to the Pac 10, their rise in ’09 was a continuance of what they have been doing for the last four years, the Beavers are 36-17 and have finished second in the Pac 10 in each of the last two years.  The Rodgers brothers (Quizz and James) return to lead the offense.  There is a battle between Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich to replace Sean Canfield at quarterback, but if the last four years are any indication, Oregon State is for real and they are here to stay.

17.  Miami:  Many doubted the Hurricane offense going into last season, but then sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris proceeded to light up defensive secondaries en route to a 3,000-yard passing season.  Harris and his receiving corps faltered against Wisconsin in their bowl game, but with only one wideout leaving for graduation (Leonard Hankerson), look for Miami to put up good numbers on offense again in 2010.  Couple that with a very athletic defense led by linebacker Sean Spence, and the ‘Canes will be tough this fall.

18.  LSU:  The Tigers were a decent offense away from ending Tim Tebow’s BCS Championship long before Alabama knocked the Gators off in the SEC Championship Game.  Les Miles had a solid defense last season, and senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard returns to anchor this season’s unit.   Do-everything offensive game-breaker, Russell Shepard should make a name for himself in his sophomore season.

19.  Nebraska:  Bo Pelini brought respect back to the storied program that had been in a major drought since the days of Eric Crouch.  Pelini has brought back the “black shirt” defense as opposed to what had looked more like the “mesh shirt” defense in the earlier part of the last decade.  The loss of Ndamukong Suh is significant, but luckily for Husker fans, the rest of the Big 12 is not good at tackle football.

20.  Georgia:  After a disappointing 8-5 season, look for the Bulldogs to bounce back this fall.  The offense should take a step forward, with one of the top receivers in the country in AJ Green and running back Washaun Ealey.  The defense was a major reason the ‘Dawgs underachieved in 2009, so head coach Mark Richt has revamped his coaching staff on that side of the ball, and the buzz coming out of Athens so far this spring sounds like those changes are already having a favorable impact.

21.  Penn State:  Look for JoPa to make one last run in 2010, although we believe the Nittany Lions don’t quite have enough to dethrone Ohio State for a run at the Big Ten title.  The thing that Penn State has going for them is their conference.  While there are four teams that should be very good in 2010, the rest of the conference takes a significant nosedive, and PSU should benefit from that.

Senior quarterback Josh Nesbitt is the key to GT's triple option attack (google images)

22.  Georgia Tech:  After scoffing at Paul Johnson bringing the triple option to a major college offense a couple years ago, we have all learned one thing–he is a great football coach.  And we have learned to not count him out.  The loss of stud running back Jonathan Dwyer will hurt the Yellow Jackets, but if quarterback Josh Nesbitt can stay healthy, GT will make another run at an ACC Championship Game.

23.  North Carolina:  Butch Davis has the Tarheels playing great football…well, at least on defense.  UNC boasted the nation’s 6th ranked total defense, allowing opposing offenses just under 270 yards per game.  Unfortunately, for the ‘Heels, the offense was as bad as the defense was good.  UNC was ranked a pathetic 108th in total offense.   If the offense can improve at all (which isn’t exactly a tall order), look for Butch Davis’ squad to give teams fits in 2010.

24.  West Virginia:  The Mountaineers will have to overcome the loss of quarterback Jarrett Brown, but Geno Smith will look to show why he was such a highly-touted QB out of Florida.  Noel Devine has been one of the most explosive players in the country since his freshman season, and the fact that he returned for his senior means that the Mountaineers can always one play away from breaking one.

25.  Auburn:  The heavily criticized hiring of Gene Chizik worked out well, as he led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and a bowl victory over Northwestern in his inaugural season.  Look for even more improvement from the offense and a stout defense.  Look for freshman running back Michael Dyer and freshman DE Corey Lemonier to make immediate impact this fall.