After a long weekend it is time to get caught up on the happenings of college football.
2. Florida State: The Noles had to replace two starters, including Kendall Smith, the team’s second-leading tackler, last season, and Mister Alexander, but the upcoming talent could be even better. Nigel Bradham led the team with 98 tackles and five pass breakups last season, and Christian Jones, Jeff Luc, Telvin Smith and Vince Williams will also be competing for playing time.
If FSU has the second best linebacker unit in the conference... this is a down year for linebackers in the conference.
Alabama may be close to the perfect defense. But about that pass rush… - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
I don't think Hinton knows what he is talking about here. Bama is a team that looks to force the QB to get rid of the ball very quickly. Usually the QB does, and it is an incompletion or interception. He also says that Saban employed smaller edge rushers at LSU, but in fact they were 282, 290, and 311 (listed guys). Which is what FSU is going for.
2. Florida State: The Seminoles return both starters in Nick Moody and Terrance Parks. Moody had 79 tackles last season and Parks had 44 and six deflections. The group was strengthened with the addition of Lamarcus Joyner, who moved from cornerback and proved this spring he’s capable of being a safety.
I would definitely not have FSU with the second-best group of safeties. 4th sounds better.
Virginia Tech's Risky Staff Shake-Up Already Paying Dividends - Gobbler Country
Frank Beamer risked staff continuity to help improve Virginia Tech's recruiting efforts. So far, so good. They'll need it to compete with FSU in the future.
TE Michael McFarland to transfer from the Florida Gators - Alligator Army
...or did Muschamp run him off to clear room for a bigger class? Come Fall Muschamp is likely to have rid the Gators of 10 kids. UF might say it doesn't oversign, but is it any more moral to kick out kids even earlier?
Miami's Impending Offensive Conservatism: How Much is Too Much? - The 7th Floor
Clearly, Miami threw too many interceptions last year, but with an offense that's still capable of scoring 30 points a game, we have to ask: how much is too much?
NCAA Penalizes Maryland Football for Secondary Violations, Docks Practice Time - Testudo Times
That's a 15% penalty. Ouch! Oh, and Maryland booted its starting right guard.
If someone mentions Maryland as one of FSU's 5 toughest games, I immediately stop listening to what they say about FSU's opponents as it is obvious that they have not done their research.
Oregon’s overpriced ‘scout’ hangs Chip Kelly out to dry - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Good breakdown from the Doc.
11 for '11: The Intoxicating Potential Of Manny Diaz - Burnt Orange Nation
In the first of this series examining 2011 Texas football, a look at what makes Manny Diaz such an intriguing, potentially great defensive coordinator.
Mike Stoops has turned Arizona into a consistent Top 35 program. He returns a star quarterback, all sorts of weapons at receiver, linebacker and cornerback ... and a combined one starter on either line. And he faces the most front-loaded schedule in college football. Good luck, Coach.
It's pretty obvious, isn't it? It all, all, depends on what happens in the trenches. Arizona has a good quarterback, a great No. 1 receiver (and a deep receiving corps), three strong, experienced linebackers, three athletic cornerbacks, and 11 of a possible 13 returning starters beyond the lines ... and they have one combined returning starter on either line. It is hard to know how to project Arizona's 2011 season because this is so rare.
(Then again, projecting Arizona could be pretty easy if you subscribe to the "Never bet against a streak" line of thinking. Not another team in the country has played at such an oddly consistent level over the past four years, and though the win total has changed here and there, the pure caliber of play has not.)
If Arizona had a cupcake-soft early schedule, I could talk myself into the Wildcats as a serious sleeper in a division where a sleeper could go a long way. Give the line some time to develop, and things could come together nicely. Instead, they play three potential Top 10-15 teams right out of the gates. They visit Stillwater on Thursday evening, September 8, then they play host to Stanford and Oregon in back-to-back weeks, then they have to travel to USC and Oregon State. Good lord! They could be playing at their typical level -- low- to mid-30s in terms of F/+ rankings -- and stand at 1-5 heading into the back half of their schedule.
Because of the schedule and the strange turnover, this will be a very unique coaching experience for Mike Stoops. With a friendlier schedule and time for development, Arizona could thrive. Instead, it's all about survival. Making a bowl game should be considered a success. If fans are grumbling about Arizona plateauing 12 months from now, instead of the fact that they regressed in 2011, then that's a win for Stoops.
I do see this team struggling to post another eight-win regular season. Now, about this offense: Carr seems like a keeper, and he has a number of weapons to work with in the running game and through the air. Yeah, the offensive line is a concern, but perhaps Carr’s mobility will see this team fare better in pass protection. Sadly, the defense is again a substantial question mark. Can the pass defense continue to rank among the WAC’s best without such a strong pass rush? It’s the biggest question Fresno must address come September, and the answer might go a long way towards determining this team’s success. Above all, however, I look at this schedule and see an uphill climb towards eight or nine wins. Still, the Bulldogs could still take home the WAC even with a 7-6 regular season – say, go 5-2 in the WAC but 2-4 in non-conference play. Fresno needs to make that its goal: ignore the overall record, win the WAC. That the Bulldogs play Nevada and Hawaii on the road has me thinking Fresno will not take home the conference crown, but this team is right there with the pair as the best teams in the WAC.
If anyone other than Snyder was running this team, I wouldn’t think the Wildcats capable of getting back to bowl play. Then it’s good thing he’s back in Manhattan, no? You can write off Kansas State for a multitude of reasons – and I’ll get there in a second – but you must absolutely respect the fact that Snyder will have this team gutting it out every Saturday, which makes this team extremely dangerous to its more talented Big 12 opposition. Now, the issues: the interior of the offensive line needs real work; we’re still not sure if Klein can be the passer this offense needs him to be; we’re also not sure if Brown can step into some large shoes at running back; and the front seven on defense needs to make a drastic improvement overnight. So there are more questions than answers nearly everywhere but along the sidelines – but it’s the team’s strength in the latter category that has me convinced that K-State will at least get back to bowl play, if not again finish the regular season with another seven wins. Don’t underestimate the importance of another year under Snyder, which means to me that the Wildcats will be a better team, if not extremely talented as individuals. No, the talent level isn’t great; it’s actually not very good, to be fair, though there is certainly talent in spots – running back, receiver, linebacker, safety. But listen: K-State isn’t going to get worse under Snyder. I don’t think the Wildcats are anywhere close to taking home the Big 12, but even with a pretty tough schedule I’m pretty certain that K-State can duplicate last season’s seven-win finish.
And this is a team that will give Miami a ton of trouble next year when Miami opens in Manhattan.
So who’s going to win the Pac-12 South? Without giving anything away, I’m not convinced that it will be the Sun Devils. I’m far less convinced that it’s going to be the Wildcats, however. Criner’s potentially season-ending issue is merely another massive roadblock thrown in the front of this team since the end of last season. Add him to the list: the five lost starters along the offensive line, the rash of knee injuries, the lost play-makers at end and so on and on. I’m not sure if another Pac-12 team has dropped so far, so fast since the end of last season — and I’m sure no conference opponent has taken such a slide since the start of last November. Can the Wildcats gather together and keep this train rolling along towards a fourth straight bowl trip? It’s going to take a large degree of mental fortitude to do so. That’s an intangible I really can’t quantify, and I definitely can’t do that until Arizona takes the field in September. What I can say is this: in terms of talent, I do think the Wildcats can get back into bowl play. Part of this faith stems from a schedule that’s not all that intimidating. Yeah, it starts with a bang, but Arizona could go on a major run from mid-October on — now that would be a change, wouldn’t it? It also stands to reason that this team will get better each week, as the offensive line rounds into form and a young defense, especially in the secondary, gets more and more game experience. Following that logic, I think Arizona will struggle early but do enough late in the year to get into bowl play. But even in a wide-open South division, I don’t think the Wildcats have what it takes to reach the Pac-12’s inaugural title game.
Where does Northern Illinois go from here? How do you follow up the finest season in school history without the leading figure behind the climb, not to mention without nine of last year’s starters on defense? You really don’t; these Huskies aren’t winning another 11 games, aren’t going undefeated in MAC play and aren’t even repeating as the West division champs, in my mind. You could say it’s because the Huskies get Toledo on the road and be partly correct: the Rockets seem better on paper, for starters, but that the Huskies head there for that season-defining game doesn’t help their chances. But there are two more significant reasons why I expect N.I.U. to take a step back: one is the coaching change, the other the losses to graduation. To be more specific about the latter, it’s about the losses on defense. It helps to have a new coach with a strong defensive background, but I’m not sure if Doeren and his new staff will be able to cobble together a defense good enough to win the MAC. There are huge holes along each level of the defense, gaps that loom particularly large in the front seven. At least the offense is good enough to guarantee another bowl berth, if not lead this team to eight wins in the regular season. I think that’s a pretty safe bet. But that’s only if Doeren and his new staff can hit the ground running. Only a really ill-prepared, really ill-suited, really inept coach couldn’t lead these Huskies to six or seven wins; we don’t know much about Doeren, but we do know enough to say N.I.U. isn’t going to drop off the map. He’ll be able to keep things rolling along; can he maintain this pace, let alone build upon it? That remains to be seen. For now, these Huskies are definite MAC contenders, definitely a bowl team, but not quite the class of the conference, as they were in 2010.
I strongly disagree with NIU's ranking here. This is a MAC team and is absolutely not better than BC, Maryland, etc.