Noles News 07.25.11

ACC media days commence in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We'll have full coverage tomorrow.  

FSU

FSU quarterback EJ Manuel discusses the Seminoles’ hype, high expectations (Video) – Chopping Block – Seminoles Blog – Orlando Sentinel
I'm inspired.

Seminoles by position: A look at Florida State’s defensive line depth – Chopping Block – Seminoles Blog – Orlando Sentinel
This is well done by Coley Harvey.

Defining Games: FSU buzz gets another Sooner-sized September test - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
I think the Doc places too much emphasis on the Oklahoma game, but it is interesting to note that no ACC team has finished in the top five of the polls in a decade. FSU was the last team to do so, in 2000.

Two-Point Conversion Attempts Through The Years - Backing The Pack
A fascinating look at the two-point conversion and the narrowing of field goal posts, hash-marks, tees, etc.

Rivals

Randy Edsall: Maryland's New Football Unis Have No Names on the Back - Testudo Times
Terps going old-school. Nobody knows any Terps players and now this move will help ensure that won't change.

Debriefing: Demon Deacons duck and cover for another year on the bottom - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Even the best-case projection is missing a bowl.  

Debriefing: Let the Mike Glennon Era begin at N.C. State - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
N.C. State Preview: 7-5 (Music City Bowl). I disagree. I see 8-4 or 9-3, but do agree this is a definite bowl team.

Debriefing: Old ‘Canes take their last shot at turning over a new leaf - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Predicted: 8-4 (Champs Sports Bowl). I agree, and that won't help Miami or Al Golden.

Debriefing: Virginia Tech has 10 more wins in the bank. Is that still enough? - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Prediction: 10-2 (Coastal Champ & ACC runner up). What a beautiful schedule.  

Debriefing: Virginia inches ahead on glimmers of hope - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Virginia predicted to miss a bowl. I agree.

ACC Forecast: In which a divided nation confronts Virginia Tech’s non-conference schedule - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
9 bowl teams (of which I agree with all 9). And a unique prediction for each team, including:

• Florida State will win its first ACC title in six years, but with a much better record than the 8-5 campaign in 2005. Including the conference championship game and bowl game, the Seminoles should win at least 11 games for the first time since the 2000 FSU team that played for the BCS championship, setting up the still-young 'Noles as a chic frontrunner for the national title going into 2012.

• Virginia Tech will go into an early November bye week undefeated at 9-0, sparking a weeks-long debate about the Hokies' cushy non-conference schedule — until their BCS title hopes are dashed in one of two Thursday night dates against Georgia Tech (Nov. 10) and North Carolina (Nov. 17). With a September slate consisting of Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall and Florida State absent from the conference schedule, Tech likely won't face a ranked opponent until the conference championship game.

2011 Clemson Pre-Camp RB Analysis - Shakin The Southland
Clemson is loaded at running back.

2011 Clemson Pre-Camp WR Analysis - Shakin The Southland
FSU's secondary blanketed the Clemson wideouts last year. This year the Tigers should have much better options.

Chomping At Bits: Florida Could Go 0-For-October, ESPN Planning 'Car Wash' For SEC Coaches - Alligator Army
Florida's October schedule is brutal in 2011. But could the Gators really go winless in the month? I see 1-3 or 2-2.

General CFB

Beauty, Upside And The Colorado State Rams - Football Study Hall

Though the definitions may change depending on your level of competition, in the end winning football comes down to upside and depth. You need players who can make the big plays necessary to win, and you need enough decent players to avoid having giant holes your opponent can exploit. Well, Colorado State has the upside. Pete Thomas had what had to be considered a magnificent freshman season; he's the fact of the program, and he's got three more years. Lou Greenwood is an interesting overall talent, and the offensive line is solid and experienced. Mychal Sisson, meanwhile, is as exciting a defensive player as you're going to find at the mid-major level.

The problem is, of course, depth. There are giant holes at running back, in the secondary, and all over the defensive line. Looking at CSU's YPP Margin, one has to figure they'll get a bit more lucky in 2011, and that will result in more opportunities for wins. But here's the problem: again, the Rams only had even a slight chance in four games last year. Improvement means, what, a chance in six games?

The schedule keeps CSU's ceiling rather low. The Rams have imminently winnable home games against Northern Colorado, San Jose State and Wyoming, but they must leave Fort Collins to take on the other beatable opponents (New Mexico, Utah State, UTEP, UNLV). Obviously none of these poor teams have devastating home-field advantages, and if Thomas, Greenwood and company are able to perform at a consistently high level, then they may be able to sneak out six wins. But the ceiling for 2011 seems to be around six wins. The ceiling for the program as a whole? Your guess is as good as mine.

Pre-Snap Read: #41- Michigan State

Will lightning strike again for Michigan State? Can the Spartans win in South Bend without pulling a special teams rabbit out of their hat? Top the Badgers despite committing three turnovers? Go 5-0 in games decided by 10 points or less? Sweep all comers at home? Survive one of the toughest road schedules in the country? What about win another 11 games despite issues along the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary — and with a defense that should start only one senior? You can’t predict the unpredictable, the overtime touchdowns, narrow wins, what have you: what you can predict, based on what Michigan State brings to the table, is at least a two-win decline, if not more, based on a handful of lingering concerns. The offense took off once the running game caught up with the passing attack; you can’t say with any certainty that the Spartans will again rush for nearly 2,000 yards as a team with question marks dotting the offensive line. Nor can you say that the Spartans will be as consistent against the pass, not with Rucker gone and two untested sophomores in the starting lineup. You just can’t say with any confidence that last season wasn’t anything more than one-year aberration — and I don’t mean to say that the Spartans aren’t built for eight wins and a bowl berth every year, just that 11 wins seems more extraordinary than ordinary. But there are many pieces to like, like Cousins under center and a potentially great defensive line. And you like the program as a whole, and give Dantonio and his staff credit for making hay while Michigan suffered a three-year lull. The key will be maintaining the national title-level success with Nebraska in the fold, Michigan back in the mix, Wisconsin battling for a national title and Ohio State and Iowa on the road. If Dantonio and the Spartans can go 9-3, let alone 11-1 with this schedule and this team, it’ll be one whale of an achievement. I just don’t see lightning striking twice.

The New Mexico Lobos And How To Disappear Completely - Football Study Hall

So how has New Mexico disappeared completely? How have they gone from a program with solid athleticism and a confounding 3-3-5 defense to a team praying that some transfers can lead the way to multiple wins in a single season for the first time since 2008? I always find myself looking for optimism with the teams I write about in this series, and I'm really struggling to do so. This is Washington State-esque, careening-off-a-cliff territory here, and I'm sure how you pull out of such a tailspin.

If there's any sort of encouragement to be found here, it's that Washington State improved at least a bit in 2010 after bottoming out in 2008-09. And really, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the offense might at least stay the same while the defense improves a bit.

Actually, there's another piece of encouragement: the schedule. Four of the most beatable teams on the slate come to Albuquerque: Sam Houston State, New Mexico State, Colorado State and UNLV. Win those four games, and you've doubled your two-year win total. Though that might not be enough to make Lobo fans believe the program is back on track, it would certainly represent tangible improvement.

What if?

So it could be said that an Oregon or Stanford, should push come to shove, would suffer from a Pac-12 South that fails to put forth a nationally-ranked, well-regarded opponent. Consider this scenario: Oregon, Florida State and Alabama are undefeated heading into conference championship weekend. Florida State beats 11-1 Virginia Tech, Alabama beats 10-2 South Carolina and Oregon tops 8-4 Utah. If all teams are equal in the polls — each team is right around the same level in the B.C.S. standings — which pair do you think gets a late push into the B.C.S. National Championship Game?

It’s Alabama and Florida State, of course, and Oregon is left out in the cold. That’s a nightmare scenario for the Pac-12 in 2011. Does it always have to be this way? No, and it won’t be this way for long. U.S.C. will be back. Arizona State has a nice crop of young talent. Arizona has turned a corner. U.C.L.A. just needs a coach. And Utah, in my opinion, could make a Virginia Tech-like splash in their new digs.

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