Posts Tagged 'lsu'

College FootBlog Week 6 Recap

Mark Richt may have gotten himself off the hotseat last weekend (photo courtesy of blogs.ajc.com)

Week 6 of the college football season is in the books, and once again, College FootBlog brings you a complete recap of the week that was.  Check out our breakdown of five key bits of info you can’t do without as we continue through the 2011 college football season.

No Florida Schools in the Top 25: Florida State was supposed to be the bell cow of the ACC and the state of Florida in 2011, but after suffering their third straight loss to Wake Forest last weekend, the ‘Noles are out of the top 25.  Much hype was surrounding the Florida Gators, but back to back games against Alabama and LSU would be enough to drop anyone.  The Gators were hammered 41-11 by LSU, and the second-straight loss was too much to keep them in the rankings as well.  Miami, USF and UCF have all been mentioned in the top 25 at different points this season, but all have lost critical games this season, and all are on the outside of the polls looking in.

Red River Blowout:  Many (including myself) thought Texas was way overrated coming into this game–the Longhorns were ranked as the #11 team in the nation, but very few predicted the kind of beat down the Sooners would deliver last weekend.  The OU defense outscored Texas in this one, accounting for three touchdowns.  The fast-paced OU offense did their damage as well, on their way to a 55-17 blowout victory for Oklahoma.

Michigan off to the quietest 6-0 start in history: The dominance of Wisconsin and the implosion of Ohio State have been the main topics of discussion this season in the Big Ten.  That has overshadowed a fantastic start by first year head coach Brady Hoke’s perfect start in 2011.  Hoke has done a lot with very little, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but the Wolverines aren’t getting much love.  A win at rival Michigan State this weekend would not only make the Wolverines bowl eligible in mid-October, it would also serve as notice to the college football world that, while Michigan is still not a top 10 team, Hoke has cleaned up Rich Rod’s mess much faster than anyone could have imagined.

Mark Richt gets 100th win: After starting the 2011 season with a loss against Boise State and a heart-breaker at home to South Carolina in week 2, the Bulldogs won their third straight game last weekend at Tennessee.  The win was head coach Mark Richt’s 100th as a head coach in Athens.  Richt, who came into this season on the hot seat, has Georgia playing better than any team in the SEC East.  A win against rival Florida on October 29th could buy him an extra year and vault the Dawgs into an SEC Championship Game.

In a stunning revelation, Ohio State is the “poster child” of compliance:  I was under the impression that massive suspensions of key players, the untimely departure of a hall of fame coach amid controversy, inappropriate dealings with boosters and free tattoos and gifts from a known Columbus drug dealer were signs that an athletic program wasn’t keeping very good tabs on its student-athletes.  Fortunately, for people like me, who were completely misunderstanding the situation at OSU, their president Gordon Gee took the liberty of clearing up that slight misconception.  Gee informed the Ohio State faculty last week that OSU is the “poster child” of compliance.  In the wake of that announcement, Charlie Sheen is expected to announce that he is the poster child of child care, Lindsay Lohan is expected to announce that she is the poster child of sobriety, and Carrot Top is expected to claim he is the poster child of comedy.

College FootBlog Week 4 Recap

Week 4 of the College Football season is officially in the books, and the dominant players and teams are beginning to separate from the rest of the pack.  College FootBlog breaks down last weekends action in the Week 4 Recap.

Sooners fall out of #1 spot:  Once a Heisman front-runner, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has been very average the last two weeks, throwing for 4 TD’s and 4 picks.  The Sooners still won, but they didn’t exactly get the payback they were looking for against Mizzou, who upset OU last season in Columbia.  Wins against Florida State and Mizzou, who are both 2-2 with no big wins against major programs, along with LSU’s dominance against top-tier competition allowed the Tigers to jump ahead of the Sooners in the AP Poll.  Luckily for Sooner fans, LSU and Alabama square off in Tuscaloosa in a month, so one of those teams will drop a few spots.

Brandon Weeden continues to lead the high-octane OSU offense (photo courtesy of OSU Marketing)

LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu may be the best DB in the country:  LSU and Alabama have the two best defenses in the country–and it’s not even close.  The Tigers have forced 12 turnovers against top-flight competition, all away from Death Valley.  Their defense is full of elite talent that will be playing on Sundays in the near future, but the guy that always seems to make the biggest plays on the biggest stages is cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.  In last weekend’s bigtime match up against West Virginia, the sophomore DB had a key interception and a forced fumble, in which he literally ripped the ball right out of the hands of WV wideout Brad Starks.  That makes twice that Mathieu has brought his A-game to a national television audience–in week one, he stripped the ball from Oregon punt returner Kenjon Barner and promptly took the fumble in for a touchdown, and the Ducks never recovered.

Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden continues to light it up:  We anticipated a shoot out, and that’s exactly what we got last weekend, when Oklahoma State traveled to Texas A&M.  Weeden threw for 438 yards (a new school record) and two TDs against the Aggies.  The senior quarterback completed a whopping 47 passes in 60 attempts and spread the ball around nicely–he had three different receivers with ten or more catches, led by dynamic wideout Justin Blackmon, who had 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.  Weeden currently leads the nation in passing yards per game with 398.0 per contest.

Florida could be back:  After a disappointing 2010 season, first year head coach Will Muschamp has the Gators off to a 4-0 start, 2-0 in SEC play.  Quarterback John Brantley looks much more comfortable in Charlie Weis’ pro-style attack versus Urban Meyer’s spread attack that made Tim Tebow a household name, although they didn’t need much passing last weekend against Kentucky, as both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey rushed for over 100 yards a piece.  More importantly, Muschamp has brought his attitude to the Gator defense, who created four turnovers last weekend.  We’ll see just how far Florida has come very soon–the Gators host Alabama this weekend and travel to LSU next weekend.

The ACC is not good at tackle football:  I’m not sure how the intramural flag football programs in the ACC are, but several programs proved their conference still isn’t ready for big boy football.  After giving then #1 Oklahoma all they could handle, Florida State’s defense was gashed by the Clemson QB-WR combo of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.  The ‘Noles gave up 455 yards to the Tigers, 366 coming through the air.  FSU was supposed to be the ACC’s hope for a title-contender in 2011, but that’s not going to happen.  Miami lost to Kansas State, NC State was destroyed by Cincinnati, and Maryland had the ugly knocked out of their uniforms by Temple 38-7.  Until the ACC can beat quality out of conference opponents, they will not be taken seriously in the BCS title talk.

College FootBlog Week 1 Recap

Robert Griffin III lit up the TCU defense in a huge opening week upset (photo courtesy of collegesportsmadness.com and google images)

The first week of the 2011 college football season is officially in the books, and while the January bowls are still months away, we did manage to learn quite a bit from opening week.  Here is College FootBlog’s Breakdown from Week 1.

Another year, another over-hyped Notre Dame team:  A lot of hype surrounded the hiring of former Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly.  Because of the dismal state that Charlie Weis left the program in, the expectations were not too high last season.  This season was a different story.  Most preseason polls had the Irish in the top 25, and last weekend’s loss to USF in South Bend was proof yet again that the Irish are not a dominant program.  Much credit needs to go to USF and Skip Holtz, but once again, Notre Dame folded in the face of pressure and played like a team that was afraid of losing, instead of a confident team that expected to win.

RG3 is good.  Very good: While most people who watched TCU fall to Baylor are discussing the fall of TCU from the nation’s elite, we prefer to look at the unbelievable play of Baylor QB Robert Griffin III.  The junior signal-caller did everything except park the cars and sell the popcorn in Baylor’s amazing 50-48 victory over the Horned Frogs.  Griffin III has somewhat flown under the radar because of other NFL prospects in the Big 12 like Blaine Gabbert, Josh Freeman and Landry Jones to name a few, but last weekend was not a fluke.  RG3 came into the season with 41 career touchdown passes, versus only 11 picks.  This will not be the first time you hear from Griffin or the Bears this season.

Auburn could be in for a long season:  The 2010 BCS National Champs had to recover an onside kick and score with less than a minute in their nail-biter against visiting Utah State last weekend.  Much has been made of the Tigers’ holes vacated by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and 13th overall NFL selection Nick Fairley, and the cynics got it right this time.  Auburn could not slow down the Utah State, who racked up 227 yards rushing and 448 total net yards.  With a healthy dose of SEC West opponents, it is only going to get more difficult, and the Tigers will have to fight to be bowl eligible this season.

The SEC is still King.  Just ask the Oregon Ducks:  After Nick Fairley dominated the Oregon offensive line, this year was the Ducks’ opportunity to get respect for themselves and the newly expanded Pac 12, but LSU stood in the way of that, dominating Oregon in the first bigtime match up of the young season.  Despite only getting 98 yards passing from Jarrett Lee, the Tigers stuffed last year’s leading rusher in all of college football, holing LaMichael James to an anemic 54 yards.  Until Oregon can score against the SEC, they can rack up as many yards and points as they want–it just won’t get them back to a title game.

Maryland trumps Oregon in most hideous uniform challenge:  If you watched the Miami vs. Maryland game on Monday night, you may have thown up your hot wings.  The Terps’ uniforms rivaled the uni’s from “Any Given Sunday”–if you’ve seen that horrible movie, you understand the comparison.  Previously, Oregon’s all-fluorescent yellow uniforms took the cake, but Maryland trumped those on Monday.  If nothing else, new head coach Randy Edsall has people (including us) talking and writing about Maryland football, which hadn’t been on the radar since Al Davis, in his infinite wisdom, took former Terp wideout Darirus Heyward-Bey with the Oakland Raiders’ first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Fail! To the Victors!

In 2007, Michigan decided that the Lloyd Carr era was over.  The only problem was that the storied program didn’t have anyone locked in to take the vacant position.  Speculation was that LSU’s head coach Les Miles would return to Ann Arbor, where he played and coached, but Miles made an announcement before he led his LSU Tigers into that year’s SEC Championship game.

The Rich Rodriguez experiment did not go well for Rodriguez or Michigan (google images)

Michigan then turned to Rich Rodriguez, despite not being the program’s top choice to fill the vacancy, and despite the fact that Rodriguez’ coaching style was in stark contrast to the Wolverine’s 4-3 defense and pro style offense.  It was not a pleasant three years for Rodriguez or Michigan football.  In his brief tenure at Michigan, Rodriguez was 15-22 with just six wins against Big Ten opponents.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon showed that the program didn’t necessarily learn their lesson, firing Rodriguez in favor of what he thought would be Jim Harbaugh, who led the Stanford Cardinal to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory.  Harbaugh instead opted to take the head coaching job for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.  Brandon quickly turned his focus once again to Miles.  But, once again, Miles said thanks, but no thanks.

Brandon is hoping the third time is a charm, and Michigan announced today the hiring of San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke.  Brandon insists that Hoke was Michigan’s first option, but the timing of his hiring suggests otherwise.  Hoke’s season with SDSU wrapped up on December 23rd, when he coached his Aztecs to a bowl victory over Navy.  And yet the decision to hire him did not take place until after Harbaugh and Miles were not only finished with their bowl games, but the decision also came after each coach publicly announced their decisions to coach somewhere other than Ann Arbor.

On paper, Hoke actually looks like a better fit for the traditional Michigan program–he did, after all, coach as an assistant at Michigan from 1995-2002.  Hoke actually has an overall losing record (47-50), but he has shown an ability to revamp programs.  He led Ball State to a 12-1 record in 2008, and after a losing season in his first year at SDSU, Hoke led the Aztecs to a 9-4 mark.

He will have his work cut out for him as the head man in Ann Arbor though.  Not only will all eyes be on him to see if he can right the ship, the new head coach will also have to revamp, recruit and reconstruct Michigan’s defense, which ranked 110th in the FBS.  He will also have to give the Wolverine offense its second complete overhaul in four years if he goes with a more traditional offense that the Wolverines have been known for in the last few decades, instead of Rodriguez’ spread attack.

Add the fact that Hoke is taking over a programs with only three weeks before National Signing Day, and it could be at least two years before fans of the Big Blue can expect any reason to celebrate.  Brandon will go down as a genious or a moron when the dust settles, and nothing in between.  If he can’t dig the program out, Brandon will be looking for a new job long before Hoke will.

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.

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.

Heisman Dark Horse Part 2: Noel Devine

It’s only July, but major universities and college football programs are already launching Heisman campaigns to generate the much-needed media exposure for select candidates.  Anyone who follows college football knows about Washington’s Jake Locker, Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor and last year’s Heisman-winner, Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

WVU running back Noel Devine has his sights set on a Big East Title and a trip to New York in 2010 (google images)

If you just take a look at his numbers, it’s amazing that the explosive running back is not on everyone’s watch list, but surprisingly, many of the so-called experts do not have Devine listed as a threat to take home the coveted trophy. 

Devine burst on the scene as a true freshman, when he took carries away from All-American running back Steve Slaton.  After Slaton was injured in the Fiesta Bowl, which meant Devine would have to carry the load for the Mountaineers, and he delivered, rushing for 105 on just 12 carries with two touchdowns.

His numbers increased his sophomore season, as he rushed for 1,289, and despite being hampered by minor injuries for much of last season, the talented back still managed to rush for 1,465 yards and 13 TDs.  If this trend continues, and more importantly, if Devine can avoid injury this season, there is every reason to believe that he could break 1,800 yards this season.  That sounds like a high number, but it is more attainable than you may think.

Since his arrival in Morgantown, the electric running back from Fort Myers, FL has averaged 6.5 yards per carry.  If he can stay healthy, there is every reason in the world to believe that he will get more carries than last season.  If he gets just 44 more carries than last season, that would put him at 285, putting him over 1,800 yards, given his career yards/carry average.

College FootBlog takes a look at the two things must happen for Devine to get serious consideration from the media and ultimately, the voters. 

West Virginia must win the Big East:  Six out of the last seven Heisman Trophy winners played on conference champion teams.  This could be a tall order for Devine and the Mountaineers, and given the emergence of the Big East as a formidable BCS conference in the last couple of years, it is.  But despite the success of WVU, Cincinnati, Pitt and others from the conference, the Big East is still unfairly viewed as a little brother to the other conferences by most writers.

In order for the national media to take notice of a Heisman candidate from this conference, they will have to win, and they’ll have to hope that others in the conference like Pitt and Cincy win as well.  This would set the stage for a national TV audience for the “Backyard Brawl” rivalry game on Nov. 26, when WVU travels to Pitt to take on the Panthers.

Will it happen?  They should be in the hunt, but the Pitt game will likely determine who wins the Big East.  West Virginia hosts Cincinnati, South Florida and Syracuse before the Pitt game, and they travel to UConn and Louisville.  Unless something unforeseen happens, the Mountaineers will be favored in all of these games.  If they take down Pitt, the conference title will be theirs, and they will lock up a BCS game, and the media will notice.

Devine must avoid injury:  At 5’8″ and just 176 lbs., Devine is far from a bruising back.  The only thing preventing him from eclipsing 1,500 yards last season was the fact that he played much of the season banged up.  He still managed to put up some very impressive numbers last fall, but his relatively small frame showed signs of fatigue last year, particularly in the middle of the season.

Devine needs at least 300 touches (rushing, receiving and returning) if he is going to put up the kind of numbers that will trump the other candidates.  If he gets that many touches, that means he made it through the year without a significant injury, and with his explosiveness and elusiveness, that means bigtime production.

Will it happen?  It should.  Despite traveling to Death Valley to take on LSU in September, the non-conference schedule is not that tough for the Mountaineers.  And despite his small frame, Devine has proven to be an extremely durable back.  In addition, new quarterback Geno Smith is more of a passer than a runner, which means that unlike in past years, Devine will not be splitting carries with his QB.  His strength and durability will be tested, but he has carried 447 times in his two years as the featured running back at WVU.  Look for that durability to continue in 2010 because it will be his last season, and Devine will have his chance to ease the concerns of NFL scouts that his body can handle the punishment of a 280-plus carry season.