Posts Tagged 'cameron newton'

BCS Title Game Breakdown: Part 2

The college football bowl season is about to begin, and although there are several solid match ups, none are as intriguing as the title game, where arguably the two most explosive offenses in the nation square off, as Oregon and Auburn take the field in Glendale, AZ next month.

In the first of our three-part breakdown of the title game, College FootBlog took a brief look at the X-factors from each team.  In part 2 of our analysis, we look at the individuals who have led the way for each team–the head coaches.  

Gene Chizik When he was named head coach at Auburn, many experts questioned the hiring, mainly due to Chizik’s mediocre results as the head coach at Iowa State.  Chizik silenced most of those critics last season when he led the Tigers to an eight-win season and gave Alabama (the eventual national champion) everything they could handle in last year’s Iron Bowl.  Chizik slammed the door on the few, if any, critics that were left going into this season, as he has rolled through the nation’s deepest and strongest conference with a perfect 13-0 record.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has had a lot to celebrate this season. Will he be celebrating a BCS Championship next month? (google images)

Chizik

, who had been known for his defensive strategies, has relied on his offense since arriving at Auburn last season.  While Auburn has some play makers on defense, Chizik and his staff bet all their chips on Heisman Trophy winner Cameron Newton to be a virtual one-man show, and the bet has paid huge dividends. 

Perhaps even more impressive is how well Chizik has sheltered his team from the media frenzy that has surrounded the program since questions regarding Newton and his father handled his recruitment last season.  Through it all, Chizik has kept his cool, but more importantly, his team has continued to prosper, despite the negative attention.  Handling the media for a national title game should be a cake walk, compared to the last month.

Chip Kelly:  Oregon’s offensive explosion is actually a continuance of Kelly’s days as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator.  He took the OC job in 2007 and perfected the spread attack, and the Pac 10 hasn’t been the same since.  While the Ducks have athletes on defense as well, Kelly remains an offensive mastermind, and other than one game against Cal, no team has kept Oregon from putting up 37 or more points–the Ducks put up at least 50 points in and astounding six of their twelve games this season.

Like Chizik, Kelly is in just his second year as head coach of his program.  And like Chizik, Kelly has generated championship results, despite controversy surrounding his team.  Even the avid college football fans probably didn’t even know who Kelly was until the famous right cross of LaGarrette Blount connected on Boise State’s Byron Hout after the Ducks’ opening week loss to the Broncos.

Kelly suspended Blount, who had been his top running back, and publicly discussed the incident and his plan get his team refocused and to help Blount get back on track.  Oregon won the Pac 10 title last season, but in the wake of the Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State, his starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate, Jeremiah Masoli was dismissed from the team for burglary.  Even without his starting QB, Kelly’s squad has put up ridiculous numbers on offense, leading the nation with over 49 points per game.

Analysis:  Each program should be very excited about their respective head coaches, not only for this season, but for years to come.  There really appears to be no clear-cut advantage in the coaches.  Expect each coach to have his team ready to play, and the way they have led their players through previous media turmoil, don’t expect either team to be rattled because after all, each team has been in the national spotlight (for good reasons and bad) quite a bit the last several months, but each coach has persevered and each coach now has a shot at a championship ring in year two of taking the reigns.

Look for our third and final breakdown of the BCS Title Game later this week.

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Week 9 Heisman Update

With only six weeks remaining in the college football season, College FootBlog takes a look at who is making the strongest cases to make the trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.  Here are the four elite players we feel have the best shot at bringing home the hardware this December.

Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn):  When you’re leading your team in rushing as a quarterback and your team is ranked #1 in the country, you’re making a very strong case for the Hesiman.  Newton’s numbers have been sick this season, averaging over 305 yards per game with 27 total touchdowns.  He will get at least one more chance to shine on national television when he leads his Tigers into Tuscaloosa to face Alabama in the Iron Bowl.  A strong performance against Nick Saban’s defense would essentially lock up the Heisman and an SEC Championship game.

Sophomore LaMichael James leads the most explosive offense in the nation (google images)

LaMichael James (RB/Oregon):  After missing the opener due to a suspension, many writers had removed the talented running back from their Heisman watch lists.  But James has burst back onto the scene and currently leads the nation in rushing yards per game with 161.  If Oregon keeps winning and James keeps getting his touches, he could be the fourth straight sophomore to win the coveted award.

Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State):  Once again, BSU’s quarterback has quietly put together the most efficient passing attack in the NCAA.  The junior signal caller has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, with only one interception.  With six more games remaining, he could end up with video game statistics again this year, and his Broncos have their best chance ever at playing for the BCS Title.  If his stats hold up (and based on his career, they should) and if BSU can secure a BCS Title game, Moore will have as good of a shot as anyone at winning the Trophy.

Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State):  Dez Who?  Blackmon has ripped through secondaries all season long for the 6-1 Cowboys and leads the nation with 158.9 yards per game.  In last weekend’s shoot out with Nebraska, the sophomore wideout eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark to go along with 14 TD receptions.  If he keeps this pace, he would finish the season with 1906 yards and 24 touchdowns–numbers that should lock him up for a trip to New York.  OSU has a tough road to finish the season, with games against Texas and Oklahoma, so keeping that pace will not be an easy task.

Look for another breakdown in a few weeks that will provide our pick for the top three, along with who College FootBlog thinks will ultimately bring the award home.

Week 9 College FootBlog 3rd & 1

Week 8 in college football was saw another big upset and saw a Heisman contender move to a Heisman front-runner.  We cover these topics and more in this week’s edition of our 3rd & 1.

1st:  Oklahoma’s lack of a vertical passing game finally caught up with them.  Whether it is conservative play calling or zero confidence in quarterback Landry Jones, the Sooners’ lack of the intermediate and deep passing game was finally exposed by the Missouri Tigers this past weekend.  In match ups against Florida State, Texas and Mizzou, it was abundantly clear that the OU coaching staff does not want the sophomore QB to make reads down the field.  Until the Mizzou weekend, Jones’ weaknesses were somewhat masked by a barrage of bubble screens and the fast pace of the no-huddle offense.  Mizzou walked their safeties and corners up to the line of scrimmage and kept the bubble screens in check, and begged OU to challenge their pass defense.  Still, the OU play calling was bubble screens and quick slants, and it cost the Sooners one loss and could easily cost them another if the coaching staff doesn’t improve the passing game.

QB Cameron Newton has led Auburn to an 8-0 start this season (google images)

2nd:  The Heisman Trophy is Cameron Newton’s to lose.  Auburn’s  junior signal-caller eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in last weekend’s victory over previously undefeated LSU.  Although his passing numbers were far from explosive (10 for 16 for 86 yards), the elusive QB rushed for over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a LSU defense that had previously only allowed one player, Tennessee’s Tauren Poole, to break 100 yards.  Newton is 9th nationally in total yards per game with 305.1 and has already accounted for 27 touchdowns, despite going against the stout defenses of the SEC.  If he can put up similar numbers in the Iron Bowl, not only will he have a great shot at the Heisman, but he will have the Tigers in position for a BCS Championship.

 

3rd:  Oregon’s offense is scary-good.  The Ducks lead the nation with just under 570 yards per game.  Their lowest scoring output so far this season was against Arizona State, when the Sun Devils “held” them to a mere 42 points.  Last Thursday’s 60-point, 582-yard thrashing of UCLA gave the rest of the nation an opportunity to see just how explosive the 2010 Ducks are.  Quarterback Darron Thomas has made everyone forget about Jeremiah Masoli’s departure last spring.  The sophomore QB has accounted for over 1,500 yards passing and 17 TDs to go along with 269 yards and two TDs on the ground.  Sophomore running back LaMichael James has picked up right where he left off last season and currently leads the nation in rushing yards per game with just over 161 YPG.

….and 1:  Only Iowa stands in the way of a Big Ten Title for Michigan StateThe undefeated Spartans invade Iowa City this weekend and face the Hawkeyes, who lost a heart-breaker at home last weekend to Wisconsin (who Michigan State beat earlier this month).  MSU has the luxury of not having Ohio State on the schedule this year, and after this weekend’s trip to Iowa, they wrap up the rest of the regular season with home games against 1-7 Minnesota and 4-3 Purdue, before traveling to Penn State for the finale.  If the Spartans can knock off Iowa this weekend, they can still afford to lose one game and be guaranteed at least a share of the conference title.  Look for Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes to give MSU all they can handle in what should be a great game.

2010 College Football SEC West Preview

Over the last three weeks, College FootBlog has provided preseason power rankings for the ACC and Big Ten.  Earlier this week, College FootBlog broke down the SEC East (see link).  The SEC has been known for being the best conference in college football, and for good reason–the last two national champions have come from that conference.  We now take a look at what we expect from the much deeper SEC West Division.

1.  Alabama:  Even though the tide lose several key defenders including both starting corners and All-American linebacker Rolando McClain, head coach Nick Saban has more than enough talent to put another sound defense on the field in 2010.  People outside of Tuscaloosa will know the name Dre Kirkpatrick after this season.  The sophomore corner has the size (6’3″ and 190 lbs.) and skills to be the Tide’s next All-American defensive back.  On offense, Bama has the top running back tandem in the nation with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and sophomore Trent Richardson, who rushed for over 100 yards and two TDs in last year’s BCS National Championship.  Wide receiver Julio Jones will be an NFL first rounder next spring if he chooses to leave early, and quarterback Greg McElroy enters this season with big-game experience.  The running game and Saban’s ability to coach up the defense make the Tide the front-runner to not only win their division, but also challenge for another BCS National Championship.

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett enters the 2010 season as the SEC's top quarterback (google images)

2.  Arkansas:  As quarterback Ryan Mallett goes, so will the Razorbacks.  Mallett, who goes 6’7″ and 238 lbs., should only improve his draft stock by sticking around another season in Bobby Petrino’s offense.  The Heisman hopeful will look to build on last years numbers of over 3,600 yards passing with 30 TDs compared to only seven picks.   Defensively, the Hogs must improve and a couple of new coaches on that side  of the ball and the return of cornerback Isaac Madison, who missed last season due to injury, should help a secondary that finished 99th in the nation against the pass, giving up just under 250 yards per game through the air. 

3.  LSU:  Les Miles will have a pretty young team, but he has recruited extremely well.  The Tigers must replace a couple of key weapons on offense, including WR Brandon Lafell, but they have a stable of big, physical receivers like 6’5″ Terrence Tolliver and and 6’3″ Rueben Randle.  Quarterback Jordan Jefferson must be more consistent this season, but with a full season under his belt and the talent he has at WR, he should take a step forward this fall.  Stevan Ridley looks like he will take over the starting running back spot with the departure of Charles Scott, but the Tigers will split carries among a few running backs.  Defensively, LSU lost two-sport star Chad Jones, but they have some decent depth and athleticism in the secondary, including freshman safety Craig Loston.  The schedule is not in LSU’s favor, though, as they go on the road to face Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and North Carolina.

4.  Auburn:  Head coach Gene Chizik silenced all who criticized his hiring from lowly Iowa State in last year’s off-season.   The new head coach led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and gave Alabama all they could handle in the Iron Bowl before losing to the Tide 26-21.  On offense, the Tigers return running backs Ben Tate and Onterrio McCalebb and four of their five starters on the offensive line that combined for the nation’s 13th best running game in the country in 2009.  Add to the mix, junior college transfer quarterback Cameron Newton and a deep and talented receiving corps, and Auburn could easily move up the power rankings in a hurry this fall.  Defensively, the Tigers gave up 30 or more points in seven games last season.  That must change if they want to challenge Bama for the SEC West, but Chizik is known for his defenses, and with a year under his belt and another solid recruiting class should provide much better results this fall.

5.  Ole Miss:  Although quarterback Jevan Sneed did not perform well last season, throwing 20 picks, he was still a leader on a Rebels’ squad and replacing him will be easier said than done.  Whoever assumes the starting job at QB will be inexperienced and unproven.  By far the biggest hit on Houston Nutt’s offense, however, is the graduation of do-everything RB/WR Dexter McCluster.  The Rebels’ defense, along with the electric play of McCluster, was what kept them in games last season, and the good news for the fans in Oxford is that several key defenders, including mammoth NT Jerrell Powe who weighs in at 340 lbs.  Powe will attempt to lead another top 25 defense, like the Rebs’ fielded last season.  Even with a stout defense, the key losses on offense will prove very difficult to overcome, and staying afloat in what is probably the toughest division in all of college football (SEC West) will probably make a .500 season a difficult task.

6.  Mississippi State:  Second-year coach Dan Mullen will have his work cut out for him again competing in this division.  The Bulldogs lose their running back from last season, Anthony Dixon, and that loss will hurt.  Robert Elliott is the front-runner for the starting RB spot, but replacing 1,300 yards will be difficult to pull off.  A major reason for the Bulldogs’ 3-5 SEC record from last year was their pass defense, which was 11th in the conference.  It doesn’t help the Bulldogs that instead of Vanderbilt this season, they pick up Georgia.  Coach Mullen should have an improved product on the field this season, but that will not necessarily translate into a better SEC record in 2010.

College Football National Signing Day Recap

College Football’s National Signing Day for 2010 is now officially in the books.  In this edition, College FootBlog will take a look at a few teams that were big winners and a couple teams who finished stronger than some experts initially expected.

Even with his future in limbo, Urban Meyer hauled in the nation's top recruiting class (google images)

The Texas Longhorns ranked second in most major recruiting polls, and again, it was not a surprise.  Signing Day is typically uneventful for Mack Brown, as he usually has his class locked up by August.  Although most of the Texas class was in tact before the holidays, the Longhorns added Jackson Jeffcoat to the class last week.  They also lured stud-linebacker Jordan Hicks away from the state of Ohio.

Auburn made a huge push this season, keeping the momentum for Gene Chizik.  The Tigers landed OL Shon Coleman, RB Michael Dyer, QB Cameron Newton and they were able to beat out Florida State for the services of the top-rated DE in the state of Florida, Corey Lemonier.

A couple of teams that finished strong, despite mediocre seasons and head coaching changes were Tennessee and Florida State.  Tennessee benefitted from eight prospects who were early enrollees, which included DE Corey Miller.  But the Vols managed to take one of the top players in the country out of Georgia by landing WR Da’Rick Rogers.

Florida State had big, big problems on defense last year, and they helped themselves a lot with this year’s class.  The Seminoles landed the #2 ranked outside linebacker in the country, Christian Jones, and the #1 cornerback, Lamarcus Joyner, and the #1 inside linebacker, Jeff Luc.

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