Posts Tagged 'will muschamp'

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.

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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?

College Football Preseason Top 25 (#1-#7)

The countdown is over.  For the past week, College FootBlog has broken down college football’s 2010 Preseason Top 25.  In case you missed them, take a look at teams #8-#15 and teams #16-#25.  We now unveil our Preseason Super 7, along with some things to look for this fall.  

1.  Alabama:  The Crimson Tide will likely be everyone’s #1 going into this fall, and why shouldn’t they be?  They lost All-Americans at all three levels of their defense; DT Terrence Cody, linebacker Rolando McClain and cornerback Javier Arenas, but ‘Bama will reload at each position, none more that Dre Kirkpatrick at corner.  The strength of the Tide, however, will be the offense.  The running game will once again feature the tandem of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and ultra-talented Trent Richardson.  Wide Receiver Julio Jones could be next year’s top receiver taken in the NFL Draft, and under center will be Greg McElroy, who, as opposed to last fall, has not only played on the biggest stages (see SEC Championship and BCS National Championship), but he has come through with flying colors.  Put it all together, and Nick Saban appears to be in position to win it all again in 2010.

Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will look to pick up where he left off last season in the Rose Bowl (google images)

2.  Ohio State:   If Terrelle Pryor picks up where he left off in the Rose Bowl, look for Ohio State to challenge for a BCS National Championship this season.  Pryor was inconsistent at the beginning of the season, but as the 2009 season progressed, he seemed to be more relaxed and confident, and he helped lead the Buckeyes to six straight wins to close out the season.   Tailbacks Brandon Saine and Boom Herron will compliment Pryor in the backfield behind a very physical and very experienced offensive line.   As is typically the case in Columbus,  Jim Tressel will have a stacked defense.  Although changes in the depth chart could happen after two-a-days in August, the spring depth chart for the Bucks has ten seniors starting on defense, highlighted by linebacker Brian Rolle.

3.  Boise State:  This fall the Broncos will not have to fight the preseason rankings like they have in year’s past.  The BCS formula and bowl selection failed miserably by putting BSU against TCU in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.  The Broncos return 23 of 24 starters from last year’s undefeated squad, including quarterback Kellen Moore.  Chris Petersen’s team will also have a national audience for their opener at Virginia Tech.  If they can win that game and take care of business for the rest of the season, pollsters will find it difficult to continue to keep them out of the BCS National Championship, especially if Ohio State or Alabama suffers a loss.

4.  Virginia Tech:  The Hokies will try to break the recent trend of ACC teams that are hyped up all preseason, only to fail miserably early in the season (see Clemson).  The defense will break in several new starters, including the DE position vacated by E Jason Worilds, who left early for the NFL.  While the youth and inexperience on defense may be an issue, this is certainly not defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s first rodeo.  Look for the Va Tech defense to be solid, and they will be aided by the running game on offense.  Ryan Williams blew up last season for over 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns, and he will be joined by Darren Evans, who sat out last season with an ACL tear.  Tyrod Taylor is still more dangerous with his feet than his arm, but last season, he proved he could win games by throwing the ball, too.

Sophomore QB Garrett Gilbert will take the keys to the offense in Austin this fall (google images)

5.  Texas:  With the losses of Heisman runner-up Colt McCoy and soon-to-be first round pick Sergio Kindle, one might think the Longhorns would be in a bit of a rebuilding year, but Mack Brown is one of the best recruiters in the business, consistently replacing All-Americans with newer All-Americans.  The early departure of McCoy due to injury in the BCS National Championship was a major blow to the ‘Horns chances of beating Alabama, but it provided great experience for then-freshman Garrett Gilbert.  It did not take long for Gilbert to settle in, and when he did, he gave the Crimson Tide defense (which was arguably the best in the country) a run for their money.  Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp once again has a talent-rich defense led by linebackers Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho.

6.  Oregon:  Had it not been for Jeremiah Masoli’s suspension for the entire 2010 season, the Ducks would be ranked as high as #3, but when you lose a Heisman candidate, it is going to drop you at least a few spots.  Head coach Chip Kelly proved last year that he can not only keep his team focused despite a suspension to a key player (i.e. LeGarrette Blount), but he can also replace talent with more talent.  LaMichael James replaced Blount with seemingly no issue, as the freshman tallied just under 1,500 yards on his way to earning the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year.  An off the field incident in February, however, will result in a suspension of at least one game this fall.  If the Ducks can finish with one loss or less, they will have made a very strong case for a shot at the BCS title.  That is because their schedule is one of the toughest in the country, and includes road games at Tennessee, Cal, USC and they cap off the season in Corvallis for the Civil War against Oregon State.

7.  TCU:  In ten years at the helm, head coach Gary Patterson has quietly led the Horned Frogs to an 85-28 record.  Like Boise State, they return the majority of their starters from last season.  Led by quarterback Andy Dalton, the offense returns nine of their eleven starters.  Last season,
Dalton accounted for over 2,700 yards passing and over 500 yards rushing.  On defense, TCU loses linebacker Daryl Washington and dominant defensive end Jerry Hughs.  Linebacker Tank Carder should fill the void at LB, but the Horned Frogs will need to find someone off the edge to provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks for Patterson’s defensive scheme to be effective.  Patterson’s troops open up at home against Oregon State.  A win against the Beavers on national television combined with their high preseason ranking could likely send them to their second-straight BCS bowl at season’s end.

Bradford or Clausen? An Inside Look at the Draft’s Top 2 QBs

As the NFL Combine continues through this weekend, much of the buzz the last few days has centered around the debate of which quarterback will be the first to go in April’s draft.  College FootBlog will break down the top two candidates, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford by analyzing five key categories to see which one is most likely to hear his name selected first by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

1.  Size

Bradford is hoping that his added body weight will help ease NFL scouts' concerns of his durability (google images)

At 6’4″, Bradford is an inch taller than Clausen, but the biggest difference is weight.  Bradford tipped the scales at 238 lbs last week, which should make NFL scouts feel much more comfortable about his durability (which came into question last season after separating his shoulder).  While Clausen showed durability at Notre Dame, he is about twenty pounds lighter than Bradford.  EDGE:  Bradford

2.  Accuracy

Clausen has proven he can make every single throw, but Bradford may be the most accurate quarterback to enter the draft since Drew Brees.  Not only did Bradford consistently deliver accurate passes that hit his receivers in stride, he did it consistently with a multiple receivers like Ryan Broyles, Jermaine Gresham, Juaquin Iglesias, etc.  While Clausen is very accurate as well, the vast majority of his passes were to his go-to receiver, Golden Tate EDGE:  Bradford

3.  Offensive System

While OU head coach Bob Stoops brought Bradford more under center and had more of a pro-style offense his sophomore season, there is no question that Clausen has the edge here.  Although Charlie Weis did not perform as a head coach, Notre Dame’s offense is as close to an NFL offense as any college program in the country.  Clausen, and more importantly, his future NFL team will benefit greatly from Weis’ tuteledge.  EDGE:  Clausen

4.  Competition

Oklahoma not only competes in one of the major BCS conferences, but they also play at least one competitive non-conference game a year.  Bradford also faced much better defenses in his bowl games, as he led the Sooners to back to back BCS games.  Even though the Big 12 is known more for its explosive offenses, Bradford did have to go against Will Muschamp in the Red River Rivalry three times in his career.

Notre Dame on the other hand, had a schedule that was absolutely laughable during Clausen’s career.  The Irish didn’t exactly load up with competition last year, scheduling Nevada, Washington, Washington State and UConn.  EDGE:  Bradford

5.  Intangibles

Bradford ran a no huddle offense that was one of the most explosive attacks in college football history.  Although his back up, Landry Jones, did an admirable job replacing him last season, Bradford was clearly what made OU’s offense click on all cylinders.  He had a solid grasp of the scheme, and he showed the ability to read defenses. 

Clausen not only had a strong grasp of Weis’ offense, in nearly every game last season, he showed a lot of poise and moxy.  He was at his best when the game was on the line and always seemed to make big plays when it counted the most.  EDGE:  Clausen

Final Analysis:  An argument can be made for either Bradford or Clausen to the be first QB taken in the upcoming draft, and both have put up big numbers in their college careers.  However, Bradford had two exceptional seasons at Oklahoma, while Clausen really only shined in his third year at Notre Dame against a weak schedule.  Despite Bradford’s injury last season, he has the more impressive and more complete body of work that Clausen. 

Let us know your thoughts!  College FootBlog wants to know who you think should go first in the NFL Draft?

College Football Week 7 Prediction: Red River Shootout

In this week’s edition, College FootBlog will break down the match up of one of the most intense rivalries in all of college football–the Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas.  Oklahoma’s quest for a national title was extinguished in their week 5 loss at Miami, but a Big 12 Title and a BCS Bowl game are still a possibility if they can avenge last year’s loss to the Longhorns this weekend.

For Texas, a win this weekend could bump them back to number 2 in the polls, after losing that ranking to Alabama after the Crimson Tide dominated Ole Miss last weekend.  A strong performance from Colt McCoy could also go a long way for his hopes of a Heisman Trophy and put the ‘Horns in a strong position for a run at a national championship.  Needless to say, there is a lot riding on this weekend’s match up.

College FootBlog will analyze each team’s strengths and key concerns this weekend and will make a prediction for of the winner and final score.

A win this weekend over OU could put McCoy and the 'Horns in the driver's seat for a national title (google images)

A win this weekend over OU could put McCoy and the 'Horns in the driver's seat for a national title (google images)

Texas

Strengths:  Heisman hopeful, Colt McCoy leads a Texas offense that averages 311 yard a game passing and 175 yards a game rushing.  The four-year starter’s interceptions are up from his past years and his rushing yards are not where they were last year, but they have put up a whopping 34 touchdowns in their five games this season.

If the ‘Horns are going to win this weekend, McCoy is going to have to play a solid game and distribute the ball to Jordan Shipley and company.

Key Concerns:  The Texas defense has been solid all season, but against pass-happy Texas Tech, they gave up 420 yards passing and three touchdowns.  It should also be noted that the ‘Horns held the Red Raiders to four total yards rushing in that contest. 

OU will present the only other solid passing attack that the Longhorns have faced so far this season.  The secondary will have to step up to keep the Sooners’ passing attack in check.

Oklahoma

DT Gerald McCoy leads a potent OU defensive front four (google images)

DT Gerald McCoy leads a potent OU defensive front four (google images)

Strengths: 

OU’s defense has been outstanding all season.  The Sooners have NFL talent at each level, starting with DT Gerald McCoy, who many project as a first rounder in next spring’s NFL Draft. 

Senior linebacker Ryan Reynolds  and fellow senior Keenan Clayton adds leadership in the middle and OU’s two senior cornerbacks, Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson are about as good as you can get in the country at that position.

Key Concerns:  While Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford is back and had a very solid outing last weekend against Baylor, he will see a much different defense this weekend. 

Bradford is as accurate of a quarterback as there is in all of college football, but he has not seen the speed and athleticism this year like he will see on Saturday. 

His throws last weekend looked great, but make no mistake about it–Bradford will get hit this weekend.  How he responds to that will determine how well the Sooners move the football.

Texas Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

OU’s defense will be by far the best defense that Colt McCoy has had to go against this season.  It is probably the best defense he faces until a bowl game.  Despite the Sooners’ outstanding defense and their ability to create turnovers, the explosive Texas offense will make a few big plays.  Oklahoma will slow McCoy’s offense down, but the ‘Horns will not light things up like they have in their previous five games this season.  Slight EDGE:  Texas

Oklahoma Offense vs. Texas Defense

Bradford’s warm up last weekend against Baylor knocked off some rust and allowed the OU offense a week to get in rhythm with their start QB.  His poise and accuracy will be challenged by the swarming Texas defense.  Look for Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp to mix in some new blitz packages designed to put some shots on Bradford.  Knocking Bradford down could do the trick, but it could also prove costly if the OU quarterback can take advantage of 1 on 1 coverage on the outside.  As with Texas’ offense vs. OU, the Longhorns should be able to slow OU’s offense down, but Bradford is too good to be shut down.  Slight EDGE:  Oklahoma

Special Teams

While Oklahoma has a couple of weapons in the return game in Dominique Franks and DeMarco Murray, Texas has the top kick returner in the country in DJ Monroe, who has brought back two kicks for touchdowns so far this season.  Senior Jordan Shipley had also added two touchdowns off punt returns.  The place kickers for each team have converted nine field goals on the season.  EDGE:  Texas

Prediction

As with the past match ups in this rivalry, this weekend’s game should be a great one and will likely take all four quarters to decide a winner.  In the end, Bradford’s injury could very well have an effect on the game’s outcome–not his ability to throw the ball, but his ability to withstand some hits could likely be a factor.  Also, in games like this, special teams often mean the difference, and the Longhorns have more firepower in that department.  Final Prediction:  Texas wins 31-28