Lots of news to get to today on the Florida State Seminoles and college football.
Last season might be remembered as the year of the quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference with stars like Christian Ponder (Florida State), Russell Wilson (N.C. State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), T.J. Yates (North Carolina) and Joshua Nesbitt (Georgia Tech) supplying the conference with significant scoring power. Ponder was selected 12th overall by Minnesota in the NFL draft. Wilson transferred to Wisconsin. Nesbitt graduated along with Yates and Taylor, last season's ACC player of the year. It's a considerable loss of firepower as the conference seeks new faces to lead programs.
Inside the Clemson Offense: Quick Passing II - Shakin The Southland
Another excellent installment. Need to read them in order.
Despite my growing cynicism surrounding Spaz, I actually believe the offensive line will play better this year. Rogers' Olines at Syracuse and Notre Dame were always decent. I think Spinney, Richman and Cleary make a solid foundation...all with a chance to be very good or even great. White was decent last year in spot duty. That leaves Wetzel, Goodman, Betancourt, Williams or Kramer to step up and fill the void. All have potential. They just need to be put in position to blossom and excel. That is about hard work, coaching and scheme.
BC has managed to compete despite terrible line play the past two years. That trend cannot continue as the schedule is more demanding. If Devine doesn't get the guys clicking this year, than our days as Oline U may be on hiatus.
Also, I read somewhere that BC will use more zone running. FSU has plenty of practice against that.
So I’m pretty bearish on Cal in 2011, it seems. Most are looking at the following and penciling the Golden Bears in for a tough season: last year’s poor play, the new starter at quarterback, the unproven quantities at running back, the losses in the front seven and a thin secondary. Those are very valid concerns, to be fair. But I have faith in this defense’s ability to win games on its own and Tedford’s ability to coordinate this offense as the play-caller, slight concerns or no. I have a little more faith in the defense than the offense, at least as of today. The Bears are strong up front; this front seven is paced by a terrific duo of inside linebackers, but there are potential difference-makers at outside linebacker and along the line. The lack of proven depth in the secondary is a worry, but don’t confuse that with a lack of talent: there’s plenty of that, even if some comes in true and redshirt freshmen. On its own, I think this defense can win five games. Can the offense do enough to get Cal back into the eight-win range? Maybe, but I feel safer predicting a 7-5 finish. Much depends on how Maynard fares against big-time competition. If Tedford can reclaim his reputation as a quarterback guru, we could see a night-and-day improvement offensively. Of course, I can’t say that’s going to happen — even if Maynard is an intriguing starter. The Bears have to find a running game, but I still think the offense will be better. Cal’s not going to compete for the North division title, but the Bears will be better, back in bowl play.
Year zero, as Derek Dooley calls last season, found Tennessee scrambling to fill holes along both lines, at quarterback and elsewhere, and the team’s lack of depth and experience manifested itself during U.T.’s 2-6 start. No, the light didn’t automatically turn on in November: the competition took a step back, which is why the Volunteers were able to finish the regular season 4-0 and earn a bowl berth. The light’s still not on, in my mind. I still think Tennessee has a tough road ahead before being mentioned in the same sentence with the SEC’s best. But is this team better? There’s not even a question. Is this program better today than it was on Jan. 12, 2010? No doubt about it. The Vols are better where it counts: at quarterback, the offensive line, the defensive line — though still a work in the progress — and in the secondary, and the roster continues to get stronger with each recruiting cycle. In short, U.T. is going to add one win to last year’s regular season total. Is that enough to satisfy the fan base? I hope so, as 8-4 seems like a bit of a long shot with this schedule. For the Vols to make that sort of jump, Bray will need to really live up to his potential, the pass rush must improve, the holes at linebacker be filled and the kicking game remain efficient as Michael Palardy takes over full-time for Daniel Lincoln. Listen: Tennessee could have those things happen and win eight games; I just don’t think that’s going to happen. There are seven seniors on this roster, folks. Roughly 70 percent of the roster are freshmen and sophomores. This is not a team built for success in 2011, but one built for success in 2012 and 2013. Dooley must simply keep the boat on course in year two — or year one, as he’d call it.
You know why Hawaii is the WAC favorite despite getting Fresno State and Nevada on the road? Because as we enter 2011, the offense has bigger questions to address than the defense. And the offense, as we all know, is going to be strong regardless of the question marks up front and the unsettled depth chart at receiver. That, above all else, is why U.H. must be considered the favorite to take home the WAC in the program’s final season in the conference before heading to the Mountain West in 2012. Not that this team is going to match last year’s 10-4 finish, however. While the offense will be fine, the personnel changes will force the Warriors to undergo a pretty steep learning curve in the early going — so it won’t be all that easy to get wins against Washington and Colorado, even if neither team will be great. U.H. will need to rely on its defense in September, it seems, as the offensive line gels and Moniz develops a rapport with his new receiver corps. But those issues should be cleared up by the heart of WAC play; that’s when Hawaii will make it move, and going 6-1 in conference play seems like a safe bet. But those B.C.S. conference games, and a game with B.Y.U., will knock Hawaii’s won-loss mark down a peg. Still, landing a WAC title — even a Boise State-free WAC — would be a nice way for the Warriors to leave the building.
Utah was a bit lucky when it comes to Yards Per Point last season, and they were quite unlucky when it comes to recovering fumbles. Their five-year performance averages are higher than those of anybody else eligible for the Pac-12 South title, but their recruiting has admittedly lagged a bit. Great run defense, bad run offense. Great pass offense, potentially bad pass defense. In 2011, Utah brings as much to the table as it takes off, and with USC out of the picture, the Utes probably have as much of a chance as anybody to represent the South in the first Pac-12 title game.
In looking at Utah's schedule, the key becomes obvious: survive September. Mid-September trips to USC and BYU will not clinch or doom the Utes' South title bid, but it will establish the narrative they will take into the meat of conference play. Meanwhile, two home games will actually probably determine Utah's fate in the South. Washington and Arizona State come to town on October 1 and October 8; U-Dub is absolutely a team the Utes should take down at home, and Arizona State is almost certainly Utah's biggest threat in the South race. If they win these two games, then they are officially the favorite in the South. In all, the schedule is meaty (few major conference teams have a road slate tougher than USC-BYU-Pittsburgh-Cal-Arizona-Wazzu) but semi-manageable as long as Jordan Wynn stays healthy. Which is, of course, a huge 'if.' With an injured Wynn, the expectations plummet.