Another day and another great batch of news on Florida State sports, FSU's opponents, and the world of college sports in general. We're really trying to be your one-stop shop, and if you enjoy this feature please do let us know.
"I was always kind of a big kid," he said. "But when I started going to college games and looking at players at my position and seeing how big they were and what they weighed, I was like, 'I need to get in the weight room.' Last year around this time, I was 218. Now I'm 240." Caldwell said the difference is evident on the field, as a bulkier Casher is stronger against the run. After recording 10½ sacks and 19 tackles for loss in his first year as a full-time defensive end last year, he's also got a better understanding of the position, which has allowed him to be more aggressive. "Probably about midway through the season last year, you could see the light bulb go on as far as learning how to play the position," Caldwell said. "Now he's a lot more aggressive. He understands the position now, and I really look for a big year from him this year." While he's been committed to Florida State since January, Casher said Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and other schools have continued to recruit him. Other than possibly attending a few games this fall, however, he said he doesn't plan to take visits this summer. He'll be busy taking online classes. As the work in the weight room and on the field has paid dividends, the work in the classroom is starting to do the same. "As of right now, he's on track to qualify, which is a huge step from where he was a couple years ago," said Caldwell, adding that the early commitment to Florida State may have helped. "He needed to get (recruiting) out of his head. By him committing, it's really made him focus."
Notes on FSU's Opponents
Pre-Snap Read: #94- Louisiana Monroe
NOTE: FSU plays this team, so read this!
In this corner, we find a program eyeing its finest season in a generation; we find a program long accustomed to being overlooked on a national scale, with no success in the F.B.S. upon which to hang its hat, with zero winning experience to call upon as it heads into 2011. So why the raised expectations? Try the 20 returning starters – the entire offense – and the sense that last year was only a warm-up, whether justified or not. Please remember: U.L.M. won five games last fall, one by a single point over Southeastern Louisiana, two more by a combined eight points over Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky, one by 12 points at home against North Texas – so let’s not start thinking this team is poised to take the leap, in my mind. I’m not ready to get that far behind the Warhawks, though in the hedging-my-bets category, it should be said that U.L.M. does have enough returning talent to move to the top of the line and take home the Sun Belt title. I don’t see it, however. I don’t even see U.L.M. topping last season’s win total, in fact, thanks to issues along the offensive line and a defense that remains a question mark despite the return of eight starters. My worry with the offense is that the running game never takes off, leaving the attack too one-dimensional; even in the Sun Belt, it’s very possible to become too unbalanced offensively. The concerns on defense revolve around a light line, one prone to being gashed on the ground, and a group of cornerbacks without optimal experience. Overall, however, this is a fine team, one firmly ahead of the bottom tier in the conference. But I have my concerns. Is U.L.M. ready to take the next step, or are the Warhawks still a year away?
Both FSU and Louisiana Monroe are on the rise.
Is this the year the loaded Sooners finally get back over the hump? They've been elite for a decade now, but are still chasing that second title under Bob Stoops. Check out the 2011 CFN Oklahoma Preview.
~Much like all of these teams on this countdown, the real truth in how good (or bad) Maryland will be during this year of transition lies in how well it will play when the season opens. We did all see, after all, a dramatic Year 1 turnaround for Jimbo Fisher at FSU. Can Edsall pull off a similarly pleasant surprise for his fans? We have nearly three months to find out.
More great stories inside!
Other Excellent College Football Reads
Pay For Play? Yes Way! - Along The Olentangy
This is just a great article on why players need to be paid a stipend of some sort.
Most importantly, the starting lineup was decimated to an unprecedented degree. With the early exits of Newton, Fairley and wide receiver Darvin Adams and the untimely arrest and dismissal of safety Mike McNeill, Auburn returns a grand total of six starters from the championship win over Oregon, fewer than any other defending BCS champion and fewer by far than any other FBS team in the nation this fall. Altogether, the Tigers will defend their championship minus their leading passer (who was also the leading rusher), two of their top four receivers, four starting offensive linemen, their top two pass rushers and six of their top seven tacklers. There's one returning starter on each line — guard Brandon Mosley on offense and tackle Nosa Eguae on defense — and with McNeil's arrest and cornerback Neiko Thorpe's subsequent move to safety, zero returning starters in the secondary at the same position they played last year. You don't need Steele's detailed "Experience Ratings" to guess the Tigers rank 120th out of 120 FBS teams by a wide margin.
Not that you should necessarily expect to see the Tigers sitting in the cellar in anyone else's predictions this summer, as long as Ole Miss around to keep the less bold members of the prognostoscenti from taking committing to such a steep plunge. But the prospect is one Auburn fans will have to face: For a team that had to stage four second-half comebacks and win three games on walk-off field goals by Wes Byrum (also graduated), the gap that typically follows a championship is a chasm. Based on what we know about the 2011 going in, it's going to take some crazy momentum to avoid a crash.
Crystal ball says… Precedent notwithstanding, any team breaking in a brand new quarterback comes with a caveat emptor disclaimer as a matter of course, especially when the old one was accompanied on his way out by four first-round picks. But the quarterback is the only potential liability in otherwise proven lineup; even the kicker and punter are back. If there's any team in America that can go all the way with a risk-averse, "within-the-offense" type who does just enough to keep the defense and running game out of trouble, it's obviously Alabama. The Tide probably will find themselves in a few harrowing moments at the end of low-scoring slugfests, where the defense has to deliver a crucial stop or turnover, a la the 2009 team. But that goes for any serious contender, and none of the Crimson Tide's peers are as likely to face as few of those situations — or to be as equipped to come out of them unscathed — as the most complete top-to-bottom roster in the nation.
Denying USC's appeal paints the NCAA into a corner for UNC, Ohio State cases. Judges in real courts weigh precedent; shouldn't NCAA provide similar justice? We'll know if USC's penalties are too harsh when we learn fates for UNC, OSU
Over his final three years, embattled coach Karl Dorrell put together teams that went to bowl games and played almost precisely at the level of the average Pac-10 team. For that, he was pilloried and run out of town, replaced by Neuheisel ... who has yet to produce a Pac-10 average team and has produced just one winning record in three years. He is the 1984 Rose Bowl champion, and that has surely given him a bit of leeway (it gave him leeway when he was hired, anyway), as has the fact that he inherited the perceived 'mess' that Dorrell left behind. After three years and multiple solid recruiting classes, however, it's pretty clear that Neuheisel needs to start producing, and fast.
This is bad timing, as the offense appears to still be potentially a year away from clicking, and the early schedule is absolutely brutal. But October 2, UCLA will have faced Houston, Oregon State and Stanford on the road, and Texas at home. Even if the passing game takes some steps forward, it might not be enough to prevent a slow start. If the wheels haven't come off after five games, however, a rally is possible. The Bruins could win each of their final four home games -- Washington State, California, Arizona State and Colorado -- and at the very least, bowl eligibility could be in the works.
Because of the potential momentum involved, anything between a 3-9 (if the wheels completely fall off) and 9-3 record is theoretically possible. The experience level is much higher than it was a year ago, recruiting has certainly been decent, and the Bruins' YPP margin suggests potential improvement, but the turnover margin is not guaranteed to improve, and ... there's just been so much turnover and uncertainty, especially on offense. It's hard to be too confident in Neuheisel going forward, and if I were a betting man, I'd say the Bruins are looking at five or six wins and a new coaching search this December.
My parents are bound to wind up on Hoarders, so of course they've kept every trinket I ever owned or book report I ever wrote. The result, as I found out when I went to help them move recently, was that there was a bunch of stuff laying around that I didn't want to be aired on A&E when their cameras finally got around to filming them digging themselves out of their piles of rubble.
While I was shoveling massive amounts of stuff into trash bags and secretly throwing them away when they weren't looking, I noticed that nearly everything I ever owned had something to do with sports, usually football. I figured I'd share some of the really worthless (and some of the not-so-worthless) stuff I found. Hope you find it as interesting as I did, even though you probably won't.
20 years. That's a long time.