Posts Tagged 'ricky stanzi'

2010 College Football Big Ten Preview (#1-#5)

As the summer months approach, we get closer and closer to August, which, at least to the college football fanatic, means that two-a-days are just a couple of months away, and the CFB season will be underway.  Last week, we broke down each division of the ACC, and this week, we take a crack at the Big Ten.

Yesterday, College FootBlog released our Preseason Rankings for Teams 6-11 (see link) in the Big Ten.  In today’s edition, we break down our top five. 

Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will look to build off his MVP performance in last year's Rose Bowl (google images)

1.  Ohio State:  Look for quarterback Terrelle Pryor to build off his Rose Bowl performance last season.  Running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron will follow another strong and experienced offensive line.  Brian Rolle leads the defense along with All-Big Ten Second Team selection Thaddeus Gibson anchoring the defensive line.  The Buckeyes have a difficult trip to Iowa City, but an improved Pryor and the Buckeye running game could simply be too much for the Hawkeyes to handle, even in Iowa City.  Pryor’s athleticism coupled with head coach Jim Tressel’s dominant defenses should be too much for the rest of the Big Ten. 

2.  Wisconsin:  Look for running back John Clay to put together an even better season than a year ago, when he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns.  If he does as expected, he will make the trip to New York for the Heisman presentation at season’s end.  Bret Bielema put a 10-win season together, which was capped off by a dominant performance against the Miami Hurricanes in the Champs Sports Bowl.   This could be the season that puts Bielema over the hump, but in order to do so, he will have to out-slug Iowa at Iowa City on October 23rd.

3.  Iowa:  Running back Adam Robinson returns after a solid 2009 campaign, and quarterback Ricky Stanzi and favorite target Marvin McNutt return as well.  The losses on the offensive line, most notably, last year’s Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year Bryan Bulaga may have a negative effect on the ‘Hawks ground game.  Kirk Ferentz is one of the most talented coaches in the country and will have another great defense, but unless Stanzi is more consistent this year, Iowa will have a very difficult time winning out, although they do get Ohio State and Wisconsin at home this year.

4. Penn State:  Joe Pa’s squad should be solid again this year, but replacing quarterback Daryll Clark will be a tall order.  Running back Evan Royster and a seasoned offensive line that, coming out of spring ball looks to have four seniors and a junior should help the starter at QB, which appears to be sophomore Kevin Newsome going into summer workouts.  Defensively, the Nittany Lions lose Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Jared Odrick all three starting linebackers, but as usual, Paterno has more than adequate talent in the wings.  A strong running game another stout PSU defense should keep PSU in the hunt this season.

5:  Michigan State:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins returns for the Spartans and will try to build on his 2,600-yard, 19 touchdown performance from last season.  Defensively, MSU returns senior linebacker Greg Jones that adds CB Johnny Adams after missing last season.  Head Coach Mark Dantonio is now entering his fourth year in East Lansing but he is 0-3 in bowl games so far.  Dantonio has recruited some solid players and they are beginning to fill starting roles.  He must improve on last year’s 6-7 record, and that seems likely with Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue all at home this season.  The Spartans also have hated Notre Dame in their backyard this year as well and will look to take advantage of the new coaching regime for the Irish.

Check back next week for more articles and predictions for the upcoming CFB season, and let us know your feedback!

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College Football Preseason Top 25 (#8-#15)

College FootBlog continues our countdown of our Preseason Top 25.  In this edition, we break down teams #8-#15.  In case you missed teams #16-#25, check it out here (#16-#25).  Later in the week, we will unveil the top seven, but until then, check out our analysis and breakdown of the teams that are on the cusp of the Super 7.

8.  Arkansas:  The return of quarterback Ryan Mallett instead of entering the 2010 NFL Draft should pay huge dividends to Bobby Petrino, but it another year under Petrino’s tutelage should only improve Mallett’s draft position next spring.  At 6’7″ and 238 lbs., Mallett has the size that NFL scouts like, but he can also make all the throws.  Mallett has several experienced and proven wide receivers, and several versatile running backs, headlined by Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson.  Offense will not be an issue for the Razorbacks in 2010, but their 89th ranked defense will have to improve if they want to stay in the Top 10 and survive an SEC season.

Wisconsin RB John Clay rushed for 1,500+ yards and 18 TD's last season (google images)

9. Wisconsin: Big Ten foes will get a healthy dose of John Clay in 2010.  The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year checks in at 6’1″ and tips the scales at just under 250 lbs.   Clay will run behind an experienced offensive line, which will likely consist of three seniors, two of which were All-Big Ten selections in 2009.  Quarterback Scott Tolzien will be a senior and stepped up big in the Champs Sports Bowl.  The Badgers will have to replace quite a few upperclassmen from last year’s dominant defense, but they still have playmakers like defensive back Jay Valai who should be solid enough to slow down the many not-so-creative offenses in the Big Ten.

10.  Oklahoma:  The Sooners have a tough test early when Florida State comes to town on September 11th.  If they can survive that game, they have the Red River Rivalry minus Colt McCoy, and the rest of the Big 12 schedule could be smooth sailing.  Rival Oklahoma State will be without QB Zack Robinson and WR Dez Bryant (although Bryant was suspended for virtually all of last year).  The Sooners will have to fill the void of likely top-five pick DT Gerald McCoy, but the defense should hold their own in 2010.  Sam Bradford’s injury hurt the Sooners, but it gave Landry Jones some great experience.  As a freshman, Jones was a bit inconsistent, but he showed flashes of brilliance last year.  If he can continue to improve, he could be the next great quarterback produced by QB coach Josh Heupel.

11.  Florida:  Although Orlando Sentinel reporter Jeremy Fowler was berated by Urban Meyer, his interview with wide receiver Deonte Thompson was spot on.  As great as Tim Tebow was, John Brantley will prove to be a much better quarterback, in the traditional sense of the position.  While Brantley will not bring the running ability of Tebow, he is a much more polished passer and should stretch the field vertically much better than his predecessor.  The losses of key contributors on defense, including linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Joe Haden will hurt, but what could hurt the Gators the most in 2010 is the goal line opportunities.  With the departure of Tebow, there is no significant threat for short-yardage threats in the Florida backfield.

12.  Pitt:  Fresh off a contract extension, Dave Wannstedt is really settling in as the Panthers’ head coach.  The loss of Bill Stull hurts a bit, but Pitt has a couple of capable back ups at QB, in sophomore Tino Sunseri and junior Pat Bostick.  Whoever wins the starting QB job has the luxury of having Dion Lewis in the backfield.  Lewis was one of the best running backs in the nation last year, and he was only a freshman.  As good as the offense should be for the Panthers, however, the strength of the 2010 team will likely be the defense.  Going into the spring, the defense looks to have seven juniors and two seniors in the starting line up.

FSU's Christian Ponder will try to throw his hat in the ring of this year's Heisman race (google images)

13. Florida State: The Seminoles were an average defense from being a 10-win team last season.  Unfortunately for Bobby Bowden and legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, the FSU defense was shredded all season in ’09, ranking 108th nationally overall.  Three of the ‘Noles’ six losses were by touchdown or less.  The bright side for FSU was the offense, led by quarterback Christian Ponder, who will likely be in the Heisman discussion this season.  Ponder has all five starters on the offensive line returning this fall, led by All-American guard Rodney Hudson.  If the newly revamped defensive coaching staff can improve last season’s dismal defensive unit, first year coach Jimbo Fisher could easily have his team playing for the ACC Championship in December.

14.  USC:  The dominance of the Trojans was bound to come to an end at some point, and 2009 proved that regardless of depth and top-tier recruiting, when you ship eleven players to the NFL in one season, it is going to have an impact.  Despite the off-the-field distractions and the departure of Pete Carroll, Lane and Monte Kiffin should have Southern Cal back in a familiar place next season–challenging for a Pac 10 Championship.  Linebacker Chris Galippo should reap the benefits of playing under one of the best defensive minds in the NFL or college, Monte Kiffin.  The Trojan offense should see much improvement from last season as well, now that Matt Barkley has a year of experience under his belt.

15.  Iowa:  The Hawkeyes surprised a lot of people last season when they made a serious run at the Big Ten title, and they dominated Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl with great defense and a solid performance from quarterback Ricky Stanzi.  Stanzi will have to be much more consistent in 2010 if the ‘Hawks are going to challenge Ohio State for the title this fall.  Stanzi loses three All-Big Ten offensive lineman, which was anchored by future first-round selection Bryan Bulaga, but they return their top two running backs and stud DE Adrian Clayborn, who surprised many when he announced that despite dominating the Orange Bowl, he would return for his senior season at Iowa City.

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 2

In Part 2 of our three-part coverage, College FootBlog continues our breakdown of the top six BCS conferences from the 2009 season.  In case you missed it, we ranked the fifth and sixth conferences earlier this week (see link).  We continue our analysis by providing a recap of last season and an outlook for next year for conferences #3 and #4 in our Power Rankings.

4.  Big 12

 

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh was one of very few bright spots for the Big 12 in '09 (google images)

2009 Recap:

If not for Texas making it to the BCS National Championship Game, the Big 12 would have ranked fifth or sixth in the ’09 Power Rankings.  Nebraska came out of nowhere, but their offense was anemic.  Oklahoma lost Sam Bradford and never really got on track all year.  Add in Mizzou and Texas Tech not living up to high expectations coming off successful 2008 campaigns, and the Big 12 didn’t have much to talk about beyond Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and Ndamukong Suh.

2010 outlook:  Next season will likely be more of the same for the Big 12.  Although the loss of Colt McCoy in the first quarter of the BCS National Championship was a huge blow, it provided valuable experience to Freshman Garrett Gilbert.  Oklahoma’s offense should be improved with Landry Jones having a year of experience under his belt, but their dominant defense will likely take a step back.  The Sooners lose six defensive starters, including both corners and projected first-round DT Gerald McCoy.

Texas Tech will likely take a year or two before they truly integrate to Tommy Tuberville’s system, Oklahoma State will have to replace starting quarterback Zac Robinson and will lose WR Dez Bryant to the NFL.  Mizzou loses playmakers on each side of the ball in WR Denario Alexander and projected first round linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon.  Add to that, Nebraska’s departure of Suh (who many project as the number one overall pick in April’s draft), and the Big 12 North will have trouble keeping points off the scoreboard.

3.  Big Ten

2009 Recap:  The major reason the Big Ten did not claim the #2 spot in the ’09 Power Rankings was depth.  Iowa surprised many experts by effectively shutting Georgia Tech’s offense down, thanks in large part to All-Big Ten DE Adrian Clayborn, who is planning on returning for his senior year.  Terrelle Pryor saved his best performance for last, as he dominated in Ohio State’s Rose Bowl win over Oregon.

The Big Ten finished with a bowl record of 4-3, with a surprising win from Wisconsin over Miami and a Penn State victory over an offensively inept LSU team.  A more in depth look at the top two teams from the conference, however, shows a couple of teams that were far from juggernauts.

Iowa had one of the best defenses in the nation, but their offense was nothing to write home about.  The Hawkeyes struggled to beat Arkansas State at home and had to depend on two blocked field goals at the end of the game to defeat another FCS opponent, Northern Iowa 17-16 in Iowa City.

The Buckeyes nearly lost their opener to Navy at home and fell to a struggling USC team, and they later fell to 5-7 Purdue.

 

Look for Terrelle Pryor to have a huge year in 2010 (google images)

2010 Outlook:

Look for the Big Ten to make a serious run at the #2 conference in the country next season.  Jim Tressel continues to put great defenses on the field for the Bucks and the offense should take a huge step forward with the return of running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron.  And if Terrelle Pryor’s Rose Bowl performance was a sign of things to come, the Bucks will be the real deal come fall.

Iowa is also very young on offense–the ‘Hawks will return both freshman running backs, quarterback Ricky Stanzi and wideout Marvin McNutt, who exploded onto the scene in 2009.  Couple that with Adrian Clayborn and several returners on an already dominant defense, and the ‘Hawks could make a serious run in 2010.

Three other teams from the Big Ten to keep an eye on next year are Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald is one of the most underrated coaches in the country.  Wisconsin’s John Clay took full advantage of being the work horse last year, and expect more of the same in 2010, and watch out for the Wolverines.  This will be Rich Rodriguez’ third full season in Ann Arbor, and Tate Forcier will have a spring to put some much needed weight on.  If UM can assemble an average defense, the Big Blue will be bowling again at year’s end.

Look for the breakdown of the top two conferences in College FootBlog’s countdown in the next few days…

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 6 Preview: Michigan at Iowa

This college football weekend is headlined with several bigtime match ups, and while most eyes will be on the Florida vs. LSU game, football fans may not realize that there is another great game in the Big Ten–yes, I said it.  The Big Ten has had some exciting games this season, too, and with a combined record of 9-1, the MichiganIowa game this weekend should be a good one.

College FootBlog will break down each team’s strengths, weaknesses and we will show what each team will need to do to come out of the weekend with a very important win in Big Ten play.

Iowa 

DE Adrian Clayborn will try to shut down Forcier and the Michigan offense (google images)

DE Adrian Clayborn will try to shut down Forcier and the Michigan offense (google images)

Strengths:  The Hawkeye defense has been very good this season, holding a veteran Penn State offense to just ten points in Happy Valley a couple weeks ago.

Adrian Clayborn and company will have to continue to play sound defense as they square off against one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country this weekend in Tate Forcier.

Key Concerns:  Although quarterback Ricky Stanzi has shown significant improvement this season, his stats are still far from stellar this season. 

With the departure of Shonn Greene, the Hawkeyes have had to rekindle the offense.  Stanzi has thrown the football with much more confidence this year, but his 58% completion percentage and 8/7 touchdown to interception ratio is not going to get him All-Big Ten recognition.  If Iowa is going to win this game, Stanzi is going to have to put up better numbers than he has so far this season.

 

Tate Forcier has stepped up like a seasoned veteran this season (google images)

Tate Forcier has stepped up like a seasoned veteran this season (google images)

Michigan

Strengths:  Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier has given head coach Rich Rodriguezhis trigger-man for his spread offense.  Forcier has kept the Wolverines in each game, and very nearly brought his team back against rival Michigan State last weekend.

Forcier has accounted for over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and eleven touchdowns with his feet and his arm.  More importantly, the young signal-caller thrives in big games.  Expect him to bring his A-game this weekend.

Key Concerns:  The Wolverine defense has been sliced and diced this season when playing formidable opponents.  If you take away the games against Eastern and Western Michigan, Michigan has given up 93 points in three games.

While Iowa is not an offensive juggernaut, neither is Indiana.  Even the Hoosiers racked up 467 yards and 33 points against the Big Blue.  The defense will have to play much better if they expect to come out of Iowa City with a win.

Iowa Offense vs. Michigan Defense

While Ricky Stanzi has been a little up and down this year, look for him to have a solid game in front of the home crowd at Kinnick Stadium this weekend.  Michigan’s defense is a little behind Rodriguez’ offense, and it has shown.  The lack of a shutdown defense ended up catching up with the Wolverines last weekend and nearly cost them against Indiana and Notre Dame.  Stanzi’s passing and the two talented freshmen running backs, Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher should have a solid day.  EDGE:  Iowa

Michigan Offense vs. Iowa Defense

Kirk Ferentz once again has a solid defensive unit.  They have played extremely well all season, but they have not faced a dual-threat quarterback like Forcier.  The ‘Hawks should slow down the Michigan attack, but stopping Forcier all together is a tall order.  Michigan will represent the best offensive attack that Iowa has faced so far this year.  Look for Forcier to lead his team to some scores this weekend.  EDGE:  Michigan

Special Teams

Iowa’s junior kicker Daniel Murray will get to kick in the friendly confines of Kinnick, and the kick returners, Brandon Wegher and  5’9″ speedster Paul Chaney are very solid.  Michigan will counter with senior place-kicker Jason Olesnavage and two very talented return men in Greg Matthews and Martavious Odoms.   EGDE:  Push

Prediction

Lately, College FootBlog’s predictions have been the kiss of death for the predicted winner.  This game is very evenly matched, but I think Iowa’s defense and the game being in Iowa City could give the Hawkeyes the very slight edge in this one.  Score Prediction:  Iowa wins 27-24