Posts Tagged 'mark ingram'

Will Alabama Do It Again?

When you look at the 24-20 close call in Fayetteville, you have to wonder if Arkansas is better than we thought or if Alabama has some serious holes.  College FootBlog takes a look at a couple of areas of concern for the Tide and a couple of reasons they could represent the SEC in another BCS National Championship, and we’ll wrap up by breaking down our thoughts of just how far they should go in 2010.

1.  Youth in the Secondary:  Any time you lose three of four starters in the secondary, it takes time to reestablish that continuity.  We saw this inexperience last weekend, as Ryan Mallett threw for over 350 yards.  The Tide did manage to pick him off three times, but they showed that they can be vulnerable, particularly to the intermediate pass.  This weekend, they face more speed and explosiveness at wide receiver.  If they are relying on the interceptions and big plays (something Bama has had a knack for since Nick Saban’s arrival), the Gators could pull off the upset.  If, however, they play more consistent and force Brantley to check down to the short routes, the Tide should win and win big.  With Saban’s scheme and his ability to coach up DBs, this unit will continue to improve and could be lights out by season’s end.  In the meantime, however, they still have some work to do.

2.  Greg McElroy struggled against his first SEC Defense:  After blowing up in the first three games against vastly inferior opponents (including Penn State, who struggled last weekend with Temple), McElroy looked like a different QB than the one we saw last season.  Against the Razorbacks, McElroy struggled, going 18-26 for under 200 yards and two picks.  He will face much more speed and athleticism against Florida and LSU.  McElroy must step up in these games if he wants to lead a balanced attack.

While those two factors have been weaknesses in this early season, here are a couple of key factors that could continue to off-set the Crimson Tide’s few deficiencies.

Despite missing the first two games, Mark Ingram has put his hat back in the ring for this year's Hesiman race (google images)

1.  The Running Game:  Most running backs have a difficult time getting back after even the smallest knee surgeries.  But Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram seems to have even more explosion after a late-August knee procedure.  In his two games since being activated, Ingram has blown up for 308 yards and four touchdowns and is averaging nearly ten yards per carry.  Add sophomore Trent Richardson and his 356 yards and 7.6 yards per carry, and Bama boasts the most explosive backfield tandem in the nation.  Teams that run the ball effectively win games, and nobody does it better than the Tide, now that Ingram is back and healthy.

2.  Remaining SEC Schedule:  We discussed Bama’s need for improvement in the pass, but they just faced the best passing team they will face in conference play this year.  Florida’s John Brantley has fallen short of expectations, and the rest of the teams on Bama’s schedule depend on the run to move the ball.  The secondary will continue to improve under Saban’s tutelage, and the rush defense for the Tide is already solid, holding opponents to 106 yards per game.  If they can continue to limit the ground game, there will be another SEC Championship Game in their future.

Overall Analysis

After losing three starters in the secondary, All-World linebacker Rolando McClain, Terrence Cody and several others on defense, there had to be at least a slight drop off on defense.  Since his arrival, Saban has recruited well, and he has the talent to field one of the best defenses in the SEC, but it will take some games for the younger players to get acclimated.  McElroy wasn’t nearly as sharp last week, but as the running game continues to hit its stride, that will only help the passing game.  Records and rankings go out the window in rivalry games, and Bama has two big ones (one this weekend against Florida, and the Iron Bowl against Auburn).  Florida has not found their rhythm yet, and Auburn is still probably a year away, and most importantly, both of those games are in Tuscaloosa this season, which is a huge advantage for Bama.  It would be a huge shock if Saban doesn’t lead his team onto the field at this year’s SEC Championship once again.  If they take care of business, there is every reason to believe they will be playing for a second straight BCS Title in early January.

2010 Heisman Race: Entering Week 3

In the preseason, College FootBlog put a list together of Heisman candidates and five Heisman Dark Horses.  Just two weeks into the 2010 season, a couple of those players have lost a lot of momentum, and as is the case every season, there are others who have played their way onto the Watch List. 

In this edition of College FootBlog, we take a look at five players who have increased their stock and five more who could be on the outside looking in, based on where things stand after week 2.

Who’s Hot?

Terrelle Pryor (QB/Ohio State):  Pryor had a big week against Miami last weekend, and that may have him as the candidate to beat.  He will still have a couple of big tests against Iowa and Wisconsin.  Solid performances in those two games could easily seal the deal for the junior QB.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson leads the nation in total yards (google images)

Denard Robinson (QB/Michigan):  Many were surprised to see Robinson take the starting job away from Tate Forcier, but after his second huge game last weekend against rival Notre Dame, the sophomore quarterback leads the nation in total offense with a staggering 442 yards per game.  If he can continue to rack up wins for Michigan, and if he can generate big yardage against Ohio State to end the season, he could be the next sophomore to bring home the prestigious award.

Ryan Mallett (QB/Arkansas):  Mallett has thrown for a little 701 yards and six TDs in the first two games of the season, but his true test(s) will come when he is in the thick of SEC play.  His fourth game of the season against Alabama will likely determine whether or not Mallett stays on this list.

Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State):  The Broncos took a week off after the win against Virginia Tech.  Despite leading his team to a fourth quarter comeback victory, Moore’s Heisman hopes and BSU’s hopes for a BCS National Championship took a huge blow when Va Tech lost to James Madison last weekend.  Oregon State’s opening week loss to TCU also hurt Moore’s chance to play in front of a national audience.

John Clay (RB/Wisconsin):  The bruising running back has been solid so far this season, rushing for 260 yards and four TDs.  As we mentioned in our Heisman Dark Horse article, his true test will come in back-to-back weeks, when the Badgers host Ohio State (Oct. 16) and Iowa (Oct. 23). 

Who’s Not?

Mark Ingram (RB/Alabama):  The reigning Heisman winner already had the odds against him before the season started because he shares the backfield with teammate Trent Richardson.  A knee injury later, and Ingram is effectively out of the race because he has been held out of the first two games.

Christian Ponder (QB/Florida State):  We had him listed as a dark horse candidate, but Ponder received a lot of media attention after he was named the ACC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Last weekend was catastrophic to his chances of making the trip to New York, Oklahoma entered the game with something to prove after struggling against Utah State.  Ponder was held to 113 yards passing and two interceptions against the Sooners.

Quizz Rodgers (RB/Oregon State):  Week 1’s loss to TCU hurt the electric running back’s chances, as he only managed 75 yards rushing.  A couple big games could get him back in the hunt because he did not play poorly and managed to find the end zone. 

Dion Lewis (RB/Pitt):  Like Rodgers, Lewis had a rough week one, losing to Utah.  And like Rodgers, Pitt’s explosive back only managed 75 yards and a touchdown in week one.  He will get a couple more shots to throw his hat back in the ring, when Pitt takes on Miami and Notre Dame in the next few weeks, but after the Utah game, he has some catching up to do.

Jake Locker (QB/Washington):  Although his stats have been great (555 yards passing and five TDs through the air and another touchdown on the ground), Locker’s team will have to finish with at least a .500 record for him to get any support from the voters.  The Huskies lost their opener against BYU and must take on Nebraska next, where they are 4 point underdogs.

Heisman Dark Horse Part 5

In the fifth and final breakdown of our Heisman Dark Horse Candidates, College FootBlog takes a look at our last impact player who is not getting the Heisman hype of the usual suspects–Mark Ingram, Terrelle Pryor, Jacquizz Rodgers, etc.  In case you missed it, we covered Florida State’s Christian Ponder, West Virginia’s Noel Devine, Miami’s Jacory Harris and Wisconsin’s John Clay in our previous four dark horse articles.

Here’s a question for all of you college football buffs–Which Heisman finalist from last season finished third in the nation in total yards with the following stats:  3,579 yards passing with 30 TDs and only eight INTs, with another 506 yards rushing with eight more TDs rushing…..no, it wasn’t Colt McCoy….not Tim Tebow, either.

Most people outside the Big 12 didn't notice that Jerrod Johnson put up over 4,000 yards of offense last season (google images)

In our final edition of 2010’s Heisman Dark Horses, we take a look at why Johnson is still not getting the hype this season, and more importantly, what needs to happen for him to get some love from Heisman voters this fall.

Johnson Needs at Least Two Signature Wins in 2010:  Despite shredding one of the most dominant defenses in the nation (Texas), last season, the Longhorns ultimately prevailed in a 49-39 shootout at College Station last season.  Two weeks before that, Johnson was stifled by a dominant Oklahoma defense that held him to 115 total yards, as the Sooners thrashed the Aggies 65-10.  Johnson will get his shot at redemption against both OU and Texas, and he will also get a shot at yet another top-tier defense when Nebraska comes to town on November 20th.  If he wants to be taken seriously, he must perform in all three games, and really needs to lead his team to victory in two of them.

Will it happen?  Unless the Aggies’ defense improves tremendously, it won’t happen.  Despite getting the Sooners and Huskers at home this season, there are no real signs of significant improvement in a defense that gave up 33.5 points per game last season.  A&M finished 105th in the nation in total defense, so there is really nowhere to go but up, but in an offensive conference like the Big 12, first-year defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter will have his hands full.

Unless the Aggies can produce an average defense, they will be a .500 team again this fall, and by all indications, that’s what they will be.  Unfortunately for Johnson, quarterbacking a .500 team will leave him at home again in 2010, instead of making the trip to New York.   On the flip side, if DeRuyter can work his magic and keep A&M in the game against OU, Texas and Nebraska, it will not only give the Aggies a chance to win, but it will give Johnson an opportunity to lead his team to huge, upset victories, which will only bolster his chance at a Heisman Trophy.

Johnson Must Put Up the Same Stats as Last Year, If Not Better:  If Johnson can match or break his 4,000 total yards he put up in 2009, that will force Heisman voters to keep him on their radar.  If those numbers drop, it will effectively kill his Heisman hopes because winning the Big 12 South will be next to impossible for the Aggies to pull off in 2010.  Even though OU and Texas must replace key contributors from the 2010 roster, each program has loaded up in recruiting for the last several years, and each team will make a case for a Big 12 Championship, which will likely leave A&M on the outside looking in when the dust settles in December.  If Johnson can maintain the pace he had last season, facing three of the top defenses in the nation, he deserves to be a Heisman finalist.

Will it happen?  His overall numbers should be very close to the 2009 stats.  How much better or worse they will be depends on how he performs against the big three Big 12 opponents mentioned above.  Despite the difficulty of facing Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, the rest of the 2010 opponents aren’t exactly defensive juggernauts–the Aggies open with FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin and the out of the other remaining opponents, six of them finished 60th or worse in total defense last season, including 119th ranked FIU on September 18th.

Look for the A&M coaching staff to leave Johnson in for the long-haul against the inferior defenses to help pad his stats this year for two reasons:  1)  Having a Heisman hype around Johnson will bring some much-needed attention to a program that consistently loses recruiting battles against intra-division foes OU and Texas and 2)  The coaching staff is well-aware that touchdowns could be hard to come by in the NU, OU and Texas games, so Johnson will need to rack up as much as he can against the weaker defenses.

Given the weak out of conference schedule and the likelihood that Johnson should put up arcade numbers against those defenses, A&M just needs to get upset victories against Nebraska (which would not be a shock at all) and either Texas or OU, which could happen, but not with last year’s defense.

College FootBlog wants your feedback.  Who else deserves to be on our list and why?

Heisman Dark Horse Part 4: John Clay

In Part 4 of our Heisman Dark Horse candidates, College FootBlog takes a look at Wisconsin running back John Clay.  In case you missed it, we have highlighted three other dark horse candidates, Florida State QB Christian Ponder (see link), West Virginia RB Noel Devine (see link) and Miami QB Jacory Harris (see link).

Each of these candidates has two things in common–they have put up big numbers last season, they appear to be poised for an even bigger season in 2010, and finally, the major media outlets are not giving any of them the attention that the bigger names like Mark Ingram or Terrelle Pryor are receiving.

John Clay and his massive offensive line will look to improve on last season's impressive statistics (google images)

Wisconsin’s punishing running back John Clay certainly qualifies for this criteria.  Despite entering the 2010 season as the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and rushing for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2009.  Two other factors point to even bigger numbers in 2010, with the emphasis on “BIG.”  Clay enters two-a-days a few pounds heavier, as he is reportedly tipping the scales at 255 lbs., versus the high 240’s that he played at last season. 

The other key factor that will only help Clay’s quest to become the third Heisman Trophy winner in Wisconsin history is the stacked offensive line.  Senior LT Gabe Carimi anchors an O-line that returns all five starters from a season ago that averages 6’5″ and 325 lbs.

In order to be in a position to get the invite to New York a couple of key factors must work in Clay’s favor.  College FootBlog uncovers these factors and breaks down the likelihood that Clay will be in the running for the coveted award at season’s end.

Clay Must Get His Carries Against the Weak Teams:  The Badgers again have somewhat of a laughable non-conference schedule, with only Arizona State as a decent opponent.  The other games are against UNLV, San Jose State and Austin Peay.  In last year’s soft schedule, Clay only carried the ball 15 times against Northern Illinois and just 12 carries against lowly Wofford.  In the Wofford game, Clay rushed for 70 yards on those limited carries, but could have gone for much, much more, and he left the game without scoring a touchdown when the Badgers took full control over the game.

Will It Happen?  Yes, but head coach Bret Bielema will have the difficult task of balancing stats vs. risk of injury this season, but even though Clay is not as much on the national scene as he should be, he is recognized in the Big Ten as a legitimate threat for the Heisman.  Bielema knows that more carries (particularly against weaker opponents) will get Clay closer to 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, which would force the Heisman voters’ hands when they turn in their ballots.  Look for Clay to get a minimum of 20 touches against each opponent this season, regardless of the score.

Clay Must Show Up in Conference Showdowns:  Clay’s numbers would have been even more impressive, and perhaps the national media would be much more on board with his Heisman run this fall, if he had produced against conference foes Ohio State and Iowa.  In 2009, the bruising running back only managed 134 yards and zero TDs combined against the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes, while averaging under 3.3 yards per carry.  Once again in 2010, Clay will go against OSU and Iowa in back-to-back weeks, and each game has a great shot at being nationally televised.  If he can eclipse the century mark in yards in each of those teams, who will each have dominant defenses again this fall, he will be on everyone’s radar.  If he is neutralized in either (or both games like last year), he can probably kiss the Heisman goodbye.

Will It Happen?  The numbers should improve, and he will likely go for 100+ yards in at least one of those games.  We also believe that behind that massive offensive line, he will get into the end zone at least once in each game.  If he does rush for 100+ yards in one game and if he can get to 75-80 yards in the other game plus a couple of TDs, he will be right in the thick of the Heisman talk.  Getting 100+ yards against two of the best run defenses in the country two weeks in a row is a tall order for any running back and O-line combination, and the odds will be against Clay again this season.

If Clay can get more carries, especially against the weak opponents on his schedule, and if he can go for 100 yards against Iowa and/or Ohio State, don’t be surprised if the Big Ten finally endorses him–he wasn’t even voted as the preseason offensive player of the year, despite winning the award last season–and the voters will take notice as well.

Look for College FootBlog’s fifth and final Heisman Dark Horse Candidate later this week.

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.

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.

2010 Preseason Heisman Watch List

As Spring Football concludes and summer workouts begin, the Heisman buzz is soon to follow.   College FootBlog takes a look at some of the early candidates that are on the watch list, along with a few things to look for this fall.

Splitting carries with teammate Trent Richardson will make winning a second Heisman Trophy difficult for Mark Ingram (google images)

1.  Mark Ingram (Running Back/Alabama):  Only one player in college football history has won two Heisman Trophies, but that is not the only thing Ingram has going against him.  Expect Ingram to be even better in 2010 than he was last season, but his teammate Trent Richardson will also be bigger, stronger and faster as well.  Although the tandem will likely be the best in all of college football and should put ‘Bama in the driver’s seat for a second straight BCS title, it will have a negative impact on the numbers for each talented back.  An increased role for quarterback Greg McElroy and future first round wideout Julio Jones will also take precious yards away from last season’s Heisman winner.

2.  Kellen Moore (Quarterback/Boise State):  Moore has started since his freshman year, and he is poised to lead his Broncos to a serious run at a BCS Championship this season.  He is one of the most accurate passers in college football, and unlike prior seasons in Boise, if they continue to win, the Broncos will be on the national radar all season in 2010, which will allow the average college football fan to take notice of his stats.  In 2009, Moore threw for 39 touchdowns and only three interceptions.  If he can put up similar numbers in the national spotlight this season, expect to see the junior QB in New York in December.

3.  Dion Lewis (Running Back/Pittsburgh):  Lewis burst onto the scene as a freshman last season, racking up just under 1,800 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.  The talented back will have the benefit of running behind an offensive line which sports two fifth-year seniors and three juniors this fall, but the front five should expect opposing defenses to stack the box and make the new quarterback (sophomore Tino Sunseri or junior Pat Bostick) beat them through the air.  Wideouts John Baldwin and Mike Shanahan are both 6’5″ and could help the passing game, which could, in turn, help open some running lanes for Lewis.

4.  Terrelle Pryor (Quarterback/Ohio State):  Ever since his highly publicized recruitment out of Jeannette High School in Pennsylvania, the athletic quarterback has generated huge expectations.  After a slow start last season, Pryor finished strong and capped his season off as the Rose Bowl MVP.  If he can continue to build from that and keep his Buckeyes in the National Title hunt, Pryor will get plenty of looks from Heisman voters this fall.

5.  Jacquizz Rodgers (Running Back/Oregon State):  Rodgers blew up last year, accounting for 1,440 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns, and he added another 522 yards receiving.  It also helps that Oregon State has consistently been in the thick of the Pac 10 title the past couple of years.  2010 should be no different, and Rodgers will be a key reason why.  Expect another huge year from the versatile running back, and he will have several opportunities to shine on national television, with games against TCU, Boise State, USC and the Civil War game against rival Oregon to finish the season.

6.  John Clay (Running Back/Wisconsin):  Unless you follow the Big Ten, there is a good chance you have overlooked the big back for the Badgers.  Last season, Clay rushed for over 1,500 yards and an astounding 18 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.  Quarterback Scott Tolzien showed a much better command of the offense at season’s end, which will only help Clay in 2010.   If Clay can stay healthy and produce in big games against Ohio State and Iowa this season, he could be the first Badger since Ron Dayne to make the trip to New York.

Others to keep an eye on include: Ryan Mallett (QB/Arkansas);  Christian Ponder (QB/Florida State); Noel Devine (RB/West Virginia); Jacory Harris (QB/Miami); Jake Locker (QB/Washington)


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