No news really is good news at this time of year if you're a fan of FSU football. But lots is going on elsewhere.
Two pretty cool links from Bill to start the day
Arizona State's top three receiving targets in 2010 -- Kerry Taylor, Mike Wilie and T.J. Simpson -- were targeted only a combined 40.5% of the time, third lowest in the country.
Yesterday, we looked at an Arizona State team that had one of the smallest combined target rates for their top three targets, so today we'll use Kentucky as a reason to look at receiving duos. In losing receivers Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews, Kentucky has to replace a duo that accounted for 51% of the team's targets in 2010, 18th-most in the country.
FSU spread the ball out a ton, and were one of the few elite offenses to do so. That's Ponder. I wonder if EJ will have a favorite target or two?
Inside the Clemson Offense: Notes and Formations - Shakin The Southland
A few notes on the HUNH offensive philosophy that don't quite fit with the run game or passing game, but are integral to understanding the system. We can contrast these with what we are more accustomed to within the usual "pro-style" system as well. Great piece here.
Grobe announced Wednesday that cornerback Kevin Johnson and defensive end Kevin Smith will not be with the team in 2011. Both players played in 11 games and started five in 2010, and were projected as starters heading into this offseason.
Wake Forest is going to be really bad again, and despite being a very good coach, I just don't see how a tiny program like Wake can justify a $2.9M salary.
Some excellent stuff here today from some of the internet's best scribes.
In one purposefully weak internal investigation, they managed to put the proud Ohio State football program directly in the NCAA crosshairs, debased decades of honor from former players, coaches and fans and all but begged for sanctions even more crippling than the Trojans received.
Hope that win over Arkansas was worth it, guys.
Excellent article. Please do read it. Bryan just kills it.
The NCAA’s genesis from a true amateur entity to a multi-billion dollar industry is an under-reported and under-discussed topic, and that probably has to do with the NCAA’s own desire to have itself be viewed as an organization "integrating intercollegiate athletics into higher education."
Just an excellent article as well. A history of the NCAA as an ever-evolving organization.
Ohio State and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's versions of how and when major violations were discovered earlier this year differ significantly, CBSSports.com has discovered.
That could possibly lead to more NCAA scrutiny in an already deepening scandal at the school. Experts say the discrepancy could cause the NCAA Committee on Infractions to determine that investigators were misled in the case that involved emails sent to former coach Jim Tressel.
In comments to the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, Delany said he learned that the now-former coach withheld emails from the school and the NCAA in mid-January. The commissioner -- "surprised and disappointed" -- added that he learned of the information at the same time as the school and the NCAA due to an open records request.
Oh, that's not exactly a good recipe for avoiding big penalties. Read the story for the whole thing.
Is this the year Utah State cracks the bowl-free drought? Hold that thought. Instead, ask this: Is this the year Utah State breaks the four-win barrier? I’m confident of the latter, contingent on a few developments. The first is that U.S.U. finds an answer at quarterback. I think Kennedy will be the guy, and his arm and experience, relative to his competition, is a definite plus. The Aggies must also get improved play from both the offensive and defensive lines, with the latter group a huge question mark heading into 2011. The defense at large is a concern, in fact, and while the Aggies will be better offensively it won’t mean much if the defense can’t get stops more consistently. Nevertheless, I think the Aggies do get to five wins. That would entail finishing 4-2 at home, which is certainly possible, and beating one of the two road teams — Idaho and New Mexico State — that come in November. What would it take to get to six wins? Probably a 5-1 home mark with one of those two road wins; or a 4-2 mark with a road sweep over the Vandals and Aggies, which is possible but not a certainty. So back to the original question: Is this a bowl team? If I had to guess today, I’d say no. But it will be close. I see five wins, and getting a sixth would require merely one win as an underdog — certainly doable. Year by year, Utah State is getting better. Even if that sixth win doesn’t come the Aggies are improving under Andersen, and I don’t think a bowl trip is all that far away.
Wyoming shouldn’t forget about poor, miserable Arizona State: last fall, the 6-6 Sun Devils stayed home from bowl play last fall thanks to a pair of wins over F.C.S. competition – fair or no, those are our bowl rules. If Wyoming does get to six wins, in my mind, it will be with the help of wins over Texas State – soon to be F.B.S.-bound – and Weber State. If Wyoming does get to six wins, to take it further, it probably won’t be with the most impressive six-win slate you’ve ever seen: that pair, U.N.L.V., New Mexico, Bowling Green and Colorado State, for example. Why can Wyoming get to six wins? Because of the schedule, more than anything. But the team will definitely be better, starting with what looks like a better defense. Yeah, the losses in the secondary are troubling: Gipson is very good, but he’ll be surrounded by some new faces. Yet the linebacker corps is strong, the defensive line talented and far deeper, especially along the interior. Questions still remain on offense, however. Every year will find Christensen’s attack more potent, 2011 included. The lack of play-makers and explosiveness, minus Alexander, still looms large; as does the inexperienced quarterback corps, though it will be great for this offense to find a multiple-year starter. So while I see Wyoming getting at least five wins, can see six with some ease, I don’t think this is a team that will be able to hang with the strong teams on the schedule. The Cowboys are good, not great, but getting better. Christensen is a very, very nice coach, and he’ll have Wyoming in bowl range for each year that he’s around, beginning in 2011. There’s still work to be done.
For a program that has struggled to string together winning seasons, Dan Mullen is building a solid foundation. Can Mississippi State overcome the losses of both a star assistant coach and their entire linebacking corps to keep moving forward?
On the surface, there is quite a bit working against Mississippi State in 2011. They benefited from extremely good fumbles luck last year, and their minus-4.1 YPP Margin suggests they were a little unsustainably good from a points-to-yards standpoint. Plus, they must replace the outstanding coordinator of a defense that carried the Bulldogs at times. There are things to like, of course: Chris Relf is well-tested, Vick Ballard is an underrated back, the defensive line is deep, and the overall level of experience is strong. But in the SEC West, you need more than "things to like." Dan Mullen is a good coach, and he will absolutely lead a competitive team this fall, but initial signs point to a step backwards.
Mississippi State's 2011 schedule will afford us an early glimpse of what they have going for them. After a gimme against Memphis, the Bulldogs take on Auburn (at home) and LSU (in Baton Rouge) back to back. If they are 2-1 after three games, this season could be headed toward something special. If they are 1-2, however, the goal likely becomes simply maintaining bowl eligibility for another season and attempting another nice step forward in 2012.
Click the link to see the reasoning!
In terms of schadenfreude, it's been a good offseason for Michigan fans as they have watched Jim Tressel's tenure at Ohio State fall apart. Will this fall be as enjoyable on the field? Will Denard Robinson take to Al Borges' offense? And what in the world can Greg Mattison do with this defense in just one year?
Strong recruiting averages ... tons of returning starters ... an encouraging-for-2011 YPP margin ... the fact that our numbers don't like Nebraska nearly as much as everybody else ... you should just go ahead and get used to the idea now: when our Football Outsiders Almanac 2011 projections are officially finalized and released, there is a decent chance that Michigan will be projected at or near the top of the Legends Division. I'm not saying it's what I personally think will happen, but it's easy to see what the numbers might be seeing here. The Big Ten has a bit of a power void with Ohio State's issues and Wisconsin's losses, and with Michigan finishing the year with home games against Nebraska and Ohio State, there's a decent chance they could hold their title destiny in their hands.
Or, you know, not. Denard Robinson could take to a more "pro style" offense as well as Brad Smith did (he's already a better passer than Smith, though, so he's got that going for him), the offense could freeze up when Robinson attempts to go against his instincts, and Mattison might throw up his hands (and his lunch) in realizing that there's nothing he can do with this defense. But again, one can see what the numbers might like here. Great offense plus can't-be-any-worse defense plus power void? Count Michigan as a Big Ten sleeper, though you can feel free to ignore I said this if they go 5-7. The whole "Michigan as sleeper" thing is a bit off-putting, though; this is not a program that is supposed to be anything but a favorite. Good luck, Coach Hoke.
Click to read abut 2000 other words on this topic.
Arizona State is a popular team with the pundits this offseason. Can they overcome injuries, volatility, and a chronic inability to win close games, to live up to the hype?
With USC banned from the postseason, it does look like we're facing an interesting battle for the inaugural Pac-12 South title between three interesting-but-flawed teams: Arizona, Arizona State and Utah. The Sun Devils have the most experience, the most upside and the most volatility of the three. Their peripherals above are not particularly encouraging -- their recruiting rank is not what one (specifically, Andy Staples) would expect it to be, they kept a lot of games close with fumble luck, and their YPP margin suggests they were possibly more competitive than they should have been.
By the end of September, we'll have found out whether ASU has begun to fix the issues that held them back last year, namely rushing offense and pass defense. Missouri comes to town the evening of September 9 -- they will severely test ASU's vulnerability to standard downs passing. Then, the Sun Devils head to Champaign to face an Illinois defense that ranked ninth in Rushing S&P+ last year (granted, they've lost some key personnel in their front seven). Finally, they return home to take on a USC offense that was quite efficient, both on the ground and in the air, on standard downs. If they enter October at 4-0, they are the real deal. But they are just as likely to be looking at 2-2 and an identity crisis. Predicting what such a volatile team is capable of doing (and sustaining) from week to week is damn near impossible, but whatever happens to Arizona State in 2011 should be entertaining.