Jimbo said a lot yesterday at ACC media days, but didn't really say much. I'll try to condense it into one paragraph for you. Still not a fan of a playoff without knowing the specifics, acknowledges OU is a big game, etc. He still loves EJ Manuel, who was the second-favorite for conference player of the year. He'll work with EJ to develop the game plan just as he did with Christian Ponder. Reporters still think EJ is inexperienced, and Fisher disagreed, listing many of his accomplishments. FSU was the only team not to bring a senior to media days. Fisher said the 'Noles are young, but experienced. The 'Noles were the overwhelming favorite to win the division and a solid favorite to win the conference. Not much new info came out of media days for those of you who regularly read TomahawkNation. Jimbo did stress the importance of edge play-- both at end and corner. He is clearly conscious of how the spread and the running QB creates an extra gap that must be accounted for. He said that Jenkins is up to 270 pounds, and factoring in JimboFlation, I'll take that to mean 265. Bottom line: he'll be better against the run. And yes, he still would be interested in moving the UF game to open the season, as playing a huge non-conference game before the championship game doesn't make a lot of sense if the focus is on the conference, as it should be.
Credit to Coley Harvey of the Sentinel for some excellent coverage, though Fisher and Co. didn't say anything new.
Credit to the ACC media for having the guts to vote Maryland 5th in the division. That''s a team that got very lucky last season and was more of a 7 win team than a 9 win team. Add in big personnel losses, a 15% practice time NCAA penalty, a new head coach and a tougher schedule... But Ben is correct that other teams are not without questions of their own.
Jarvis Byrd Out For Season
N.C. State loses its backup corner.
I’m not really sold on this coaching staff. It simply doesn’t have the cachet of recent Tulsa groups: it lacks the Gus Malzahn, Herb Hand or Chad Morris, which is not reason for overwhelming concern but reason, as of today, to wonder if Blankenship and his staff can keep the momentum going in 2011 and beyond. Well, perhaps not in 2011: while the defense raises some red flags, I do think this new-look staff will keep things rolling along just fine this fall. There’s just too much talent not to succeed, to be honest, particularly on offense but also on the defensive side of the ball. Kinne is one of Conference USA’s best quarterbacks; the offensive line is in fine shape; the receiver corps has talent, though some shoes must be filled; and there are some definite strong points defensively, like at end and linebacker. So you can forget about some of the issues, though the Golden Hurricane need to find answers at defensive tackle — here most of all — and improve in the secondary, though there is enough talent in the defensive backfield to expect at least a slight improvement in 2011. In all, Tulsa is ready to roll into another eight-win season. But it’s going to be tough to get there, and don’t be surprised if the Golden Hurricane end the year at 7-5. This is a team that’ll go 1-3 in non-conference play, losing to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State. This is a team that must get past S.M.U. and Houston — both at home, to be fair — and face U.C.F. on the road. To get to eight wins, Tulsa needs to either knock off a non-conference foe, which is a tall task, or go 7-1 in conference play. The latter is entirely possible, which would leave Tulsa right alongside Houston in the West division. Now, if Graham and his crew had returned in 2011 I would have placed the Golden Hurricane atop the conference altogether and right where they ended last year, hovering around a national ranking. But the changes will take their toll, at least somewhat, and I wonder if Tulsa can keep up its current pace given the transition. Until we know what Blankenship and this staff are made of, this is a fair landing spot for the Golden Hurricane.
Paul doesn't buy the coaching staff. I don't buy Tulsa being one of the best 40 teams in the country, though they should win quite a few games with that schedule.
I have a Big East favorite. I see two teams above the rest, one a bit more than the other. And I see three Big East teams that can sit back in July and have very real B.C.S. hopes: South Florida is one of those teams. There’s a lot to like, starting with a very good coaching staff entering its second season with the program. Holtz and his assistants did a fine job in 2010, starting slow but turning things on down the stretch, which lends credence to the thought that U.S.F. will continue to get better and better with this staff in place. There’s also talent in the offensive backfield, led by a crop of intriguing running backs headlined by a pair of top-notch transfers. The only real question mark on defense is along the interior of the line, which is cause for concern but not, in my mind, something that’s going to keep South Florida from reaching its full potential. So don’t be surprised if the Bulls end up taking home the Big East and reaching a B.C.S. bowl; be upset, as this team is not of that caliber without the conference tie-in, but don’t be surprised. So why do I have U.S.F. third in the Big East? Because the team is not as talented as either West Virginia or Pittsburgh, in my opinion, though the gap isn’t all that large. Because Daniels has talent but lacks consistency, and his play will again dictate this team’s fate offensively. Because while the team will be better in year two under Holtz, I still think the Bulls need to learn what it takes to win a Big East crown. But they’re learning, and have the right coach in place to eventually get there. For now, U.S.F. is running third in a pretty weak Big East, behind Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
I see USF being pretty good in 2012, but they could make a BCS bowl this year because of the Big East.