Posts Tagged 'stanford'

College FootBlog Week 3 Recap

Landry Jones stepped up big when he need to against #5 Florida State (photo courtesy of National Scouting Report, http://blog.nsr-inc.com)

Another week in the books for the 2011 college football season, and as we continue to learn more about the contenders and pretenders, College FootBlog breaks down some of the action from Week 3.

Oklahoma passes major test:   One of our contributors, Christian Hon, and I actually covered this game and the pregame festivities (check out the on location podcast and tailgate and game footage),  and what a fantastic football game!  In the end, though, the Sooners showed why they’re the #1 team in the land.  Although OU quarterback Landry Jones was held under 200 yards passing and picked off twice by Florida State, he completed a clutch touchdown pass in the fourth quarter when the game was tied.  Oklahoma is known for their explosive offense, but it was their defense, led by linebackers Travis Lewis and Tom Wort that stepped up and passed what may have been the most difficult test of the regular season.

Notre Dame finally gets a win:  The Irish still have a tough road ahead of them if they want to finish above .500, but they managed to knock off the favored Michigan State Spartans in South Bend last weekend.  Similar to Oklahoma, it was the defense that stole the show for Notre Dame, holding Michigan State to just 29 yards rushing.  The defense was non-existent against Michigan in week 2, so Irish fans have to feel good about the 31-13 victory over their hated rivals from East Lansing.  The next three weeks see the Irish traveling to very mediocre Pitt and Purdue, followed by a home game against Air Force.  If they can win two of those games, Brian Kelly’s face may turn back to red, as opposed to the bright purple shade he sported in the South Florida game.

Oklahoma State continues to win shoot outs:  The Cowboys have given up an average of 27 points per game so far this season, which ranks 76th nationally.  The good thing for Mike Gundy is that the OSU offense is averaging over 52 points per game, which ranks #3 nationally.  The main reason for this offensive output is senior quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has thrown for 1154 yards in the first three games of the season.  OSU will get their first real test of the season this weekend, when open up conference play at Texas A&M this weekend.  With Oklahoma State’s non-existent defense, there won’t be a shortage of points this weekend at College Station.

Kellen Moore keeping his name on the Heisman list:  While Toledo may not garner a ton of national attention, they are a legitimate football team, one that gave Ohio State all they could handle in week 2.  For Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, it was just another day at the office.  The senior QB threw for 455 yards and 5 TDs.  On the season, he is completing 78.9% of his passes with 8 TDs and only 2 Ints, and that’s only in two games.  Look for Moore to put up 4,000 yards and 35+ touchdowns and represent the Broncos in New York as a finalist for college football’s most prestigious award.

Heart of Stanford’s defense, Shane Skov done for the season:  While most of the hype of the Stanford Cardinal surrounds Heisman front-runner Andrew Luck (and rightfully so), the heart of the Cardinal defense is (and has been) Shane Skov.  This is a huge loss to a team that many expect to challenge Oregon for the inaugural Pac 12 title.  The junior linebacker was highly touted coming out of high school and has lived up to his billing, leading Stanford defensively in last year’s Orange Bowl with three sacks and leading the Cardinal in tackles so far this season.  Luckily for Stanford, October 22nd is the first test against a decent offense, when they play host to the Washington Huskies.  Three football games should give the defense a chance to gel as a unit before they get into the meat of their schedule.

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What Should We Expect From Brian Kelly in 2010?

After a 9-3 season, which was capped off by a BCS bowl game against Ohio State, the Charlie Weis era at Notre Dame took a drastic turn for the worse.  In his last three seasons at the helm, Weis led the Irish to a combined record of 16-21.  Last season’s 6-6 record marked the end of Weis’ five-year run in South Bend.

Brian Kelly enters the spring season with an empty cupboard on offense (google images)

Enter former Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly.  As we head into spring football, College FootBlog takes a look at the program that Kelly inherits and the current state of what is perhaps college football’s most storied program.

 

The strength of Notre Dame last season was the offense, led by future first rounders, quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate.  As good as the offense was last year, Kelly will have a lot to replace.  As mentioned, Clausen and Tate chose to leave after their junior seasons, and four of the five starters on the offensive line are now gone.  

The Irish will return starting tailback Armando Allen, but the rushing attack was not exactly explosive a year ago.  Allen, who led the team in rushing, managed 697 yards rushing, but he only managed to break 100 yards once all season (against Purdue).  Allen also only managed to find the end zone three times on the ground all year.

Wide receiver Michael Floyd has shown some great promise and could very easily be a first round draft pick in the next two seasons.  The problem Kelly and his staff have now is finding someone to throw him the football.  Junior Dayne Crist was the second-ranked quarterback in the nation coming out of high school, but since his arrival from the 2008 class, he has yet to see any significant playing time, and although he is ahead of schedule, the junior QB from California is recovering from a torn ACL, which he suffered last fall against Washington State.

That leaves true freshman Tommy Rees, who just enrolled at Notre Dame in January to run the offense in the spring.  After Rees, the only other option at quarterback is wide receiver John Goodman.

Now, for the bad news–Notre Dame’s defense was 86th nationally in total defense, averaging just under 400 yards allowed per game.  The good news for Irish fans is that last year’s defense was very young, with three of the four leading tacklers coming back for next season, including linebacker Manti Te’o, who started last season as a true freshman.

Despite the departures of several key starters on offense and a struggling defense last season, Kelly and his staff should have an improved defense in 2010, and overall, Kelly has already proven to be a more successful head coach at the college level than the last three head coaches brought into the program.

The offense will likely struggle at times for the Irish in 2010, but look for Kelly and his staff to do a much better job of coaching the entire team than Weis did.  Unlike his predecessor, Kelly has shown that he can win with great offense, as he did last season in Cincinnati, but he has also shown that he can win with a solid defense, as he did in 2008.

A relatively soft schedule in 2010, which includes Western Michigan, Army, a struggling Michigan program and a Stanford team (minus Toby Gerhart) should set Kelly up with a great opportunity to at least match Weis’ six win total from 2009.  But don’t expect much more than that from Notre Dame this fall.  The losses on offense and the state in which Weis left the defense will likely be too much to sustain.

Look out for Notre Dame in 2011, though, especially if Floyd stays for his senior season and Crist is as good as advertised.  That will also be the season that the Irish defense that was smacked around last season will be comprised of juniors and seniors with bigtime game experience.

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 1

With the 2009 football season now officially in the books, College FootBlog will tackle the ongoing debate of which conference is the best in the FBS.  In this three-part breakdown, we will rank the six major conferences from the BCS in 2009, and we will also provide an outlook for each conference for the 2010 season. 

In our first of three articles, we will take a look at teams five and six in the power rankings of the major BCS conferences, although it should be noted that Boise State and TCU could make us rank eight conferences at the conclusion of next season. 

Oregon State's Quizz Rodgers has his sights set on a Pac 10 Title (google images)

6.  Pac 10 

2009 Recap:  For the last several years, USC has brought respect to the conference, but last year’s fall from grace left put the pressure on the other teams in the conference to step up.  No one else did–at least not consistently.  The Pac 10 was a dismal 2-5 in bowls last season and one of those wins was USC’s victory over a very mediocre Boston College team in the Emerald Bowl.  Losing three linebackers and quarterback Mark Sanchez in the first day of the NFL Draft last season proved to be too much for Pete Carroll to overcome. 

After a promising start, Cal fell far below expectations, and Oregon started and finished with huge losses on national television.  Toby Gerhart led the Stanford Cardinal on the college football map, but overall, the Pac 10’s 2-5 bowl record was very underwhelming. 

2010 Outlook:  All signs point to the Pac 10 having a big turnaround next season.   Conference Champ Oregon returns quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running back LaMichael James.   Oregon State will have the Rodgers brothers returning key running backs coming back next year, Arizona is emerging after an 8-5 record, and Jim Harbaugh and Steve Sarkisian have Stanford and Washington out of the cellar of college football. 

5.  ACC

 2009 Recap:  The ACC barely made the cut for the fifth worst conference in college football last season.  For the

VT's Ryan Williams exploded on the scene in '09, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 19 TD's (google images)

second year in a row, the Atlantic Coast Conference was consistently inconsistent.  Paul Johnson once again proved to critics that the triple option can (and does) work in major college football, but they could not get things going against Iowa’s defense in the Orange Bowl. 

Virginia Tech racked up ten wins, but once again, Frank Beamer was unable to get his team over the hump as one of college football’s elite teams.  For what seems like the fifth straight year, Clemson failed to live up to all of the hype as well, losing five games, including one against a very average South Carolina team.  Overall, ACC teams finished with a 3-4 bowl record in ’09. 

2010 Outlook:  Like the Pac 10, the ACC should make significant strides in 2010.  Georgia Tech may take a step back with Jonathan Dwyer departing to the NFL, but several teams should be much improved.  Virginia Tech returns running back Ryan Williams and QB Tyrod Taylor, and we may actually see Miami and Florida State get back on the map.  Each of the traditional power houses from Florida showed signs that they may be on the cusp of regaining greatness, but they were up and down for much of the season.  Look for Miami and FSU to make a serious run at Va Tech next season. 

Note:  Look for Parts 2 & 3 of College FootBlog’s 2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings later this week.