Posts Tagged 'josh nesbitt'

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.

Orange Bowl Breakdown: Iowa vs. Georgia Tech

On Tuesday night, all eyes will be on the Orange Bowl, as the Iowa Hawkeyes will take on the Yellow Jackets from Georgia Tech.  Iowa, who saw their dreams of a Big Ten Championship and trip to the Rose Bowl end at the hands of Rose Bowl Champs, Ohio State, will try to cap off a great season in Miami. 

Standing in their way will be Paul Johnson’s triple option attack that has given college football all it can handle since he took over in 2008.  The Jackets will look to continue their new version of college football’s most traditional offensive attack en route to a twelve win season. 

College FootBlog will provide a breakdown of each team’s strengths and areas for concern, we will analyze some of the match ups in the upcoming game, and we will give our prediction of the outcome of this BCS contest. 

Jonathan Dwyer leads the Georgia Tech's relentless ground attack (google images)

Georgia Tech 

Strengths:  When head coach Paul Johnson announced that he planned on bringing his triple option offense from Navy to Georgia Tech, many (including College FootBlog) thought he would not last long before being run out of Atlanta. 

Instead, his Yellow Jackets have dominated the ground game, and this year, GT ranks second nationally in rushing yards per game with just over 307 ypg.  Jonathan Dwyer leads the Jackets with just under 1350 yards, and he is averaging just over six yards per carry.  

Quarterback Josh Nesbitt is equally dangerous running the football, rushing for 18 touchdowns this season, and he is only nine yards away from breaking the 1,000-yard mark this season. 

Key Concerns:  As great as GT runs the ball, their defense has been very inept at stopping, or even slowing down, opposing running backs.  The Yellow Jackets have given up over 150 yards rushing per game. 

They will have to do a much better job on Tuesday if they have any aspirations of beating an Iowa team that depends on their ground game as well.  

Iowa 

Strengths:  Make no mistake about it, Iowa has won their games because of a dominant defense.  The Hawkeyes have the nation’s 11th best total defense.  In fact, ‘Hawks’ dominant “D” held their opponents to 17 points or fewer in eight of their twelve games this season. 

Adrian Clayborn leads Iowa's dominant front four (google images)

 Like all great defenses, it has to start with the front four.  Led by junior DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa’s defensive front as equally good at defending the run and pass.  Just as disruptive is the linebacker corps, which is anchored by junior Jeremiha Hunter

Key Concerns:  The play of quarterback Ricky Stanzi has been great at times, but downright dismal at others.  This inconsistency could really hurt, and can, and has, at times this season, made Iowa offense very one-dimensional. 

After suffering a severe high ankle sprain against Northwestern, Stanzi had a minor surgery, and it appears that he will be 100%.  He will have to limit the turnovers if he wants to keep his team in the game–Stanzi has 15 TD’s, but 14 picks this season. 

Georgia Tech Offense vs. Iowa Defense 

As talented as Iowa’s defense is against the run, they have not seen an offense like Georgia Tech’s–not for several years.  The only team to slow down GT’s running game in the last two seasons was the Miami Hurricanes early in the season, when they held the Jackets to 95 yards on the ground. 

Paul Johnson added a few new wrinkles to his option attack and got his team right back on track.  Iowa’s hard-nosed defense should contain the Jackets better than most, but it is usually only a matter of time before Dwyer, Nesbitt or one of the many other dangerous weapons in the GT backfield breaks loose for a couple huge gains.  EDGE:  Georgia Tech 

Iowa Offense vs. Georgia Tech Defense 

Although Ricky Stanzi has been rather erratic this season, the Iowa running game has been very solid.  After losing Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Shonn Green to the NFL Draft last season, many wondered who would fill the void.  The tandem of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher has amassed over 1,300 yards this season. 

As we mentioned, the Yellow Jackets have had their issues with the running game this season.  Look for the Hawkeyes to get in a lot of third down and manageable situations, which should take some pressure off Stanzi and the passing game.  EDGE:  Iowa 

Special Teams 

Iowa kicker Daniel Murray and punter Ryan Donahue were both honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media.  Georgia Tech’s kicker, Scott Blair has put up solid numbers as well, but his five missed field goals this year show a little less consistency than Iowa’s Murray. 

Each team has utilized multiple players in the return game, but for both teams, the offenses are built for grinding it out and establishing field position by grinding it out and punting when necessary. 

Prediction 

As solid as Iowa’s defense is and has been all season, look for Tuesday’s game against Georgia Tech to be the fifth game this season that the Hawkeyes surrender more than 17 points.  The Yellow Jackets have scored 30 or more points in nine of their thirteen games this season.  Iowa will contain Dwyer and Nesbitt for a while, but look for one of those two great runners to open up a few big runs, at least by the end of the first half. 

Iowa’s ground game will keep them in this football game, as it should have some significant success against Tech’s struggling rush defense.  However, even though the Hawkeyes are more than capable of playing from behind, if Georgia Tech can get to 28 points, Iowa will have to turn to its erratic passing game, and that could prove to be the difference.  Score Prediction:  Georgia Tech wins 31-27 

College Football Week 9 Prediction: NC State at Florida State

This weekend, Russell Wilson and the NC State Wolfpack travel to Tallahassee to take on the very unpredictable and inconsistent Florida State Seminoles.  A lot is at stake in this ACC match up as FSU will look to stay alive in the hunt for the ACC Championship Game, and NC State will look to snap their current three game skid.  As always, College FootBlog will break down each team, analyze the upcoming game and make a score prediction.

Christian Ponder has quietly put together the best passing stats in the ACC (google images)

Christian Ponder has quietly put together the best passing stats in the ACC (google images)

Florida State

Strengths:  The 2009 season has not been good to the ‘Noles, but the play of quarterback, Christian Ponder, has been the only constant they have had.  Ponder currently leads the ACC in total offense and is fourth nationally.  Ponder’s passing yards per game is tops in the ACC and currently ranks fifth nationally.

In addition to the yardage, Ponder has also managed to throw 12 touchdowns, compared to just one interception.

The only time Ponder has had trouble finding the end zone was against the South Florida Bulls, but even in that match up, he threw for 269 yards and did not throw a pick.

Despite an inconsistent running game and an atrocious Seminole defense, Ponder has kept his team in each game until the final whistle.  He will have to continue his great play if FSU has a shot this Thursday.

Key Concerns:  FSU’s defense has been downright horrible this season.  Whether it has been against the run or the pass, there have been too many holes to count in Mickey Andrews’ defense.

How bad is it?  The ‘Noles’ defense currently ranks 99th in the FBS in total defense, giving up just over 413 yards per game.  That breaks down to 98th in the country in rush defense (182.43 yards/game) and 79th in the nation in pass defense (231.14 yards/game).

russell wilson

Russell Wilson has quietly put up great numbers for the Wolfpack for the second straight season (google images)

NC State

Strengths:  As with FSU, the Wolfpack also has a great quarterback who has been overlooked nationally, due to the team record.  Russell Wilson was the first team All-ACC quarterback last year as a freshman.

This season, Wilson has avoided the sophomore slump.  With very few dynamic players to distribute the ball to this season, he has thrown for 1659 yards, but more importantly, he has thrown for 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions.  Wilson has also added 249 yards and another three touchdowns on the ground this season, while averaging over four yards per carry.

Key Concerns:  Although statistically, the NC State defense does not appear that bad, stats can sometimes be deceiving.  The Wolfpack currently rank 59 nationally in passing defense, but they haven’t exactly faced the best passing attacks in the country.

The Wolfpack have gone up against two FCS opponents this season and have yet to face, and they also took on Steve Spurrier’s anti-Fun & Gun offense in South Carolina, which ranks 47th in the FBS.  The ‘Pack will have their hands full this weekend.

NC State Offense vs. Florida State Defense

Unless FSU’s defense pulls a 180, this weekend will be much of the same for the ‘Noles.  As much as the Seminoles have struggled on defense this season, mobility and athleticism at the quarterback position has given them even more fits–see Jacory Harris and Josh Nesbitt, who were both able to rack up huge days against FSU in Doak Campbell Stadium

Russell Wilson provides a nice blend of those two athletic QBs.  Wilson may be an even better passer than Harris–he just does not have the stable of WRs that Harris has at his disposal.  And Wilson has the ability to make plays with his feet as well.  Look for him to have a very big day.  EDGE:  NC State

Florida State Offense vs. NC State Defense

As previously mentioned, NC State’s defense, especially against the pass is not as good as the stats may indicate.  Look for Christian Ponder to continue to add to his great season and distribute the ball to all of his weapons on offense.  This Seminole offense will present the biggest challenge the Wolfpack has faced so far this season.  Ponder should also have a very big day.  EDGE:  FSU

Special Teams

NC State’s TJ Graham is a solid returner and has already brought one kickoff back for a touchdown this season, and kicker Josh Czajkowski has converted on 7 of 9 field goal attempts. 

Florida State counters with a couple of solid return men, including freshmen phenom Greg Reid.  Reid has not brought a kick back for a touchdown this season, but many teams have stayed away from him on kick offs.  Freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins has been inconsistent on extra points and field goals, but he rebounded nicely last week against North Carolina.  Hopkins has done a solid job, however, of kicking the ball into the endzone on kickoffs, which has helped with field position.  Slight EDGE:  FSU

Prediction

Predicting games in the ACC this season has been a crap shoot, and the outcome of this game could easily go either way.  Russell Wilson is an outstanding athlete, and he will keep the Wolfpack in the game.  FSU showed last week that they can actually win a game down the stretch, and Christian Ponder has proven that with a little bit of protection, he can keep his team in the ‘Noles in any game.  Look for Ponder to have another solid outing this weekend, and that should prove to be the difference in this one, but it will likely go down to the wire. 

Score Prediction:  FSU wins 34-31

ACC College Football Breakdown Part I: Coastal Division

After week four in this college football season, if there is one thing the ACC has shown, it is that they are consistently inconsistent (if that makes sense).  In this two-part segment, College FootBlog will take a look at each team in the ACC and provide what we know and what we should expect for the rest of the season.  Part I of the segment will focus on the ACC Coastal Division.  We put the teams in the order of College FootBlog’s power ranking from top to bottom:

1.  Virginia Tech

Ryan Williams leads a dominant Va Tech running attack (google images)

Ryan Williams leads a dominant Va Tech running attack (google images)

Key Strengths:  Ryan Williams has been the key to the offensive success for the Hokies.  The freshman running back has amassed 492 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns in Va Tech’s first four games this season.

Bud Foster’s Defense has been the other strength of this Virginia Tech squad as well.  Since the opening day loss to the Crimson Tide of Alabama, Foster’s crew have dominated, giving up just two touchdowns in the last three games, which included the previously red hot Miami Hurricanes last weekend.

Key Concerns:  The Passing Offense has not been solid for the Hokies.  Although Tyrod Taylor has made clutch plays this year, overall he has averaged just over 130 yards passing per game and is completing less than 50% of his passes.  If Taylor does not step up, the Hokies’ one-dimensional offense could lose them an important game sooner rather than later.

2.  Miami

Key Strengths:  Even though Jacory Harris had an afternoon he would like to forget last weekend, he has simply made plays this season.  It should be noted that Harris’ struggles against Virginia Tech last weekend may have had something to do with the monsoon they played in as well.

The other strength for the ‘Canes is their deep and incredibly diverse corps of receivers.  Miami has one of the nicest blends of speed, size and possession receivers in the country, giving Harris plenty of options downfield.

Key Concern:  The Hurricane Defense shut down Georgia Tech’s ground game, but they still gave up 17 points in that contest.  In their other two games this season, the ‘Canes have given up 34 and 31 points.  As good as the offense has looked, that kind of defensive effort will cost Miami some games down the road.

3.  Georgia Tech

GT relies heavily on Jonathan Dwyer's punishing running style (google images)

GT relies heavily on Jonathan Dwyer's punishing running style (google images)

Strengths:  Jonathan Dwyer is one of the most dangerous running backs in the country.  After getting knocked out of the Miami game after only five carries, Dwyer bounced back last week against North Carolina and racked up 158 of the 313 rushing yards for the Jackets.  If he can stay healthy, he will make another run at the ACC Offensive Player of the Year this season.

Key Concerns: Depth at quarterback and fullback are a major concern for the Jackets.  When Dwyer was knocked out of the Miami game, the Georgia Tech ground game came to a screeching halt, as they failed to break 100 yards in that game.  Even though quarterback Josh Nesbitt is inconsistent throwing the football, his ability to make the correct reads and run the ball make the offense go.  Look no further than last year’s game against Florida State, and you realize how important Nesbitt is to the offense.  The Jackets were dominating the Seminoles, but when Nesbitt left the game with an ankle injury, the ‘Noles were able to force a key turnover and neutralize the option attack. 

If Dwyer and Nesbitt can stay healthy, the Yellow Jackets will have a great shot at making a second straight trip to the ACC Championship, especially since Miami lost last weekend.

4.  North Carolina

Strengths:  Despite his rough outing against Georgia Tech last weekend, junior quarterback TJ Yates has taken a step forward, despite losing a couple of key receivers, including first round draft pick Hakeem Nicks.  We will see if Yates can bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing game, but he adds athleticism that the ‘Heels lacked when he was injured last season.

Key Concerns: UNC has absolutely no running game.  Even though Yates has stepped up his game this season, his productivity will continue to be hindered if the ‘Heels continue their dismal display on the ground.  If you take out the cupcake game against The Citadel, UNC has managed just 200 yards rushing in three games, with the worst effort coming last weekend against Georgia Tech, when the Tar Heels managed just 17 yards on the ground.

5.  Duke

Strengths:  Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is a real talent.  Despite not having the weapons that his ACC peers have, Lewis can make plays.  Duke will still have a tough time this season, but Lewis will make the rest of the ACC work on defense.

Key Concerns:  The Blue Devils simply do not have the speed and athleticism on defense, especially against the pass.  The Kansas Jayhawks are the only legitimate team they have played so far this season, and Todd Reesing and company shredded the Duke secondary for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

6.  Virginia

Strengths:  N/A  Unfortunately, the 0-3 Cavaliers do not have any strengths to cover.  They have been horrible in nearly every facet of every game they have played.  They give up a ton of points and they have trouble scoring.  Enough said.

Key Concerns:  You name it, you’ve got it.  As mentioned above, the Cavs are stagnant on offense, and they have been absolutely gashed on defense, most recently giving up 100 yards rushing to two different Southern Miss players.  It is going to be a long season for UVa.


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