Noles News 06.15.11

Should have some interesting articles for you tomorrow.  Today's news is sparse.

FSU

ACC's must-win nonconference games - ACC Blog - ESPN  Hmm, FSU prominently featured in two of these games, and yet the ACC deems it ok to send FSU on the road to Clemson after the 'Noles stick their neck out for the conference to play OU?  I'll say it again: if FSU did not have Oklahoma on the schedule it would be the #2 favorite to make it to the national championship game where it could then play Oklahoma.  

Rivals

Florida Recruiting: Brian Poole Commits to Florida - Alligator Army-- Of all the commitments FSU's rivals have gained in the last two weeks, this is the only kid FSU actually wanted.  FSU is only going to take 1-2 more DBs, however, which says something about how loaded the 'Noles are at the position.  I said all along that I expect Muschamp to recruit well.  As long as Miami continues to be good but not great in the recruiting, game, there will be plenty of talent for FSU and UF to field elite classes.

General CFB

2011 Season Preview: Service Breaks And The Illinois Fighting Illini - SBNation.com

Ron Zook and his new-and-improved coaching staff surprised everybody in 2010 by not only surviving, but improving significantly. Can they maintain their upward mobility now that a few stars have walked out the door?

Is there any killing Zombie Ron Zook at this point? It really does feel like he's been on a hot seat of some sort for decades (then again, he knows how to cool off), but he keeps winning just enough to survive. And with a rather ridiculous eight home games this year (the non-conference slate: Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Western Michigan, Arizona State) the odds of their reaching bowl eligibility again in 2011 are solid. We can debate what Zook's long-term prognosis is in Champaign-Urbana, but this is Ron Zook. There is no long-term.

Though the schedule gets much more difficult in conference play, it should still at least slightly offset what is likely to be regression on the field. The Illini had solid fumble and YPP luck last season, and combined with the loss of a few stars, it will be difficult to avoid a drop-off. But a strong staff and quite a few young players who got their feet wet next year, the regression shouldn't be severe. This should be a decent-not-great squad, but for a program that was expecting the worst this time last year, the improvement in prognosis has been noticeable and somewhat significant.

Pre-Snap Read: #78 Virginia

The arrow is pointed up, though not at a 90-degree angle. Virginia isn’t just going to skyrocket to the top of the A.C.C.: the ascent will be laborious, often painful, but fans can take some solace in the fact that a good slice of the dirty work has already been done. I don’t Mike London-led Virginia will be quite as bad as it was in 2010 again, and that progression begins in earnest in 2011. I’m really a fan of what he’s already achieved: London’s got after it on the recruiting trail, bringing one of the conference’s best classes during his first full cycle; he’s already had an impact on offense; and the defense, though still a work in progress, will undoubtedly improve in its second season in the 4-3. The arrow is clearly pointed up. But keep the expectations in perspective. The Cavaliers have young, talented options at quarterback but no experience, which is a worry. The receiver corps is unproven and Payne will be sorely missed in the running game, where he carried the load a year ago. As for the defense, I can’t shake the feeling that this group is one year away: the pieces really aren’t there outside of Minnifield, though help is on the way. So what’s the overall state of Virginia football in 2011? A bright future awaits, though how far Virginia goes – and I’m unsure if the Cavaliers can ever catch up with Hokies – depends on London and his continued success in recruiting. As for this season, I feel safe projecting the Cavaliers to win five games, with anything above that a pleasant surprise.

Alabama By the Numbers: Turnover Margin - Roll 'Bama Roll

A team can control how often it fumbles, but it has virtually no control over the recovery.  That is random.

Fumble Recovery Percentage
Tostats11006_medium

Alabama's opponents recovered the ball almost 80 percent of the times they fumbled last season. EIGHTY FRICKIN PERCENT! That's just not right. Meanwhile, you see that Alabama's recovery percentage is just about where you expect it to be, along the 50 percent line. If the football gods do indeed exist, this is exhibit one that they hated the 2010 Crimson Tide with a vengeance.

So what does all this mean?

The fumble situation should be starkly different. According to the folks over at Football Outsiders fumble recovery is a random event: "There is no correlation whatsoever between the percentage of fumbles recovered by a team in one year and the percentage they recover in the next year." While that means it's not possible to predict how "lucky" Alabama's opponents will or will not be in 2011, it is likely it will return to the mean. Or, more simply, it's not likely that crazy luck is going to happen again.

Certainly, fewer bounces going to the opposition would be something of an advantage of the Tide. That is, if the team's efforts to control turnovers remains as strong as we've seen in recent seasons. That would be up to Coach Saban and his staff to emphasize the need for keeping control of the ball and limiting interceptions. Given what we've seen in the past, there doesn't seem to be anything random about that.

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