Posted on: October 30, 2011 12:22 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: Oklahoma State's title chances
Coming into Saturday's action, Oklahoma State joined LSU, Alabama, Stanford, Clemson, Kansas State, Boise State and Houston as the only unbeaten teams remaining in the country. It was also ranked third in the BCS. Well, after a full day of action, you can scratch both Clemson and Kansas State off the list. With LSU and Alabama playing again next week, one more unbeaten will fall and should Oklahoma State beat Kansas State, it's going to move into the top two of the BCS rankings.
There's a long way to go in this season still, but things are lining up nicely for Mike Gundy's team, especially since Oklahoma State won't have to play in a conference title game (like Alabama, LSU or Stanford) and it'd certainly be ranked ahead of Boise State and Houston if all three of those schools finish unbeaten. So all Oklahoma State has to do is keep winning. That shouldn't be that hard, right?
LOSER: The Kansas State mystique
Did I ever really feel that Kansas State was a legitimate contender for the Big 12 title this season? No, not really, but I wanted to. It was just such a great story for the program and Bill Snyder in his second stint in Manhattan, and I wanted it to last as long as possible. If for nothing more than the story. Unfortunately Oklahoma closed the book on Kansas State in the second half on Saturday, taking what had been a close game in the first half and turning it into a laugher with 35 unanswered second half points. Considering that Kansas State has to travel to Stillwater next week, I don't think things will get much better.
WINNER: James Franklin
Admittedly, I've been a bit rough on the Missouri quarterback this season. Though, in my defense, he's been tough on himself too, pinning the blame for last week's loss against Oklahoma State on himself thanks to turnovers. Well, Franklin can still be a bit up and down at times for my taste, but he's only a sophomore and he showed us all how good things can be when he's on an upswing against Texas A&M. Franklin finished the day with 295 yards and 4 total touchdowns in Missouri's comeback overtime win against the Aggies. Most importantly, Franklin didn't turn the ball over a single time.
LOSER: Texas A&M's chances in the SEC
You know, following the loss against Missouri on Saturday and including the loss against Arkansas earlier this season, Texas A&M is 0-2 in the SEC this season. It's 3-1 in the Big 12. Might want to reconsider that move, Aggies.
WINNER: Freshman running backs in Austin
Texas didn't exactly have much trouble against Kansas on Saturday night, and a big reason why was the combination of two of Texas' freshman running backs. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron combined to carry the ball 41 times for 255 yards and 4 touchdowns. Yes, it was against Kansas, but that kind of performance has to make Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin feel pretty good about the future of the Longhorn backfield.
LOSER: Kansas football fans
It has not been a fun season to be a fan of Kansas football in 2011. In fact, it's been pretty horrific for the most part. Still, even though the Jayhawks defense has been terrible, the Kansas offense has played pretty well. The Jayhawks came into Saturday night's game averaging 30 points and 400 yards of offense per game. Those numbers are going to drop after Saturday night's game. The Kansas offense didn't record a single point against Texas, though in its defense, it's really hard to score points when you only manage 46 yards of total offense. No, I didn't miss a number there, it was 46 yards. In the entire game. Sorry, Kansas fans, but basketball season starts soon enough. Until then, I suggest whiskey.
WINNER: Jared Barnett
He took a vicious blow to the head in his first career start, and I didn't think he should return to the game, but it will still be hard for Jared Barnett to forget his first career start at Iowa State. He wasn't the most efficient quarterback throwing the ball, completing 14 of his 26 passes for 155 yards and a score, but he kept the chains moving plenty of times with his legs. Barnett rushed for 92 yards and another score, as Iowa State pulled off one of the biggest surprises I've seen in the Big 12 this season, knocking off Texas Tech 41-7 in Lubbock. I think it's safe to say that the QB job is Barnett's to keep.
LOSER: Sam Bradford
I don't think the former Oklahoma quarterback will be all that upset about it, but Sam Bradford saw his name erased from the Oklahoma record books on Saturday afternoon. Landry Jones shattered Bradford's record for most passing yards in a single game by an Oklahoma quarterback. Bradford's mark of 468 yards fell to Bradford's 505-yard performance, and it wasn't the only record Jones broke on the day. His five touchdown passes on Saturday gave Jones 90 career touchdown passes, more than any Oklahoma quarterback in history.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Big 12, Bill Snyder, Boise State, Bryan Harsin, Clemson, Houston, Iowa State, Jared Barnett, Joe Bergeron, Kansas, Kansas State, Landry Jones, LSU, Mack Brown, Malcolm Brown, Mike Gundy, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Sam Bradford, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Winners And Losers
Posted on: October 23, 2011 6:57 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: The fans at Spartan Stadium
The scene in East Lansing Saturday night was Big Ten football at its best: a packed house under the lights, a national audience, and two highly-ranked programs duking it out for all 60 minutes. The end of the Wisconsin-Michigan State game was phenomenal beyond comparison, of course, but even without the miracle touchdown from Kirk Cousins to Keith Nichol to finish the game off it was still probably the best of the year in the Big Ten. This time, there was no collapse, no widespread ineptitude, nothing but a mighty good football game.
So being that the fans at Spartan stadium were nice and loud (and probably, ahem, well-lubricated by the time of the late kickoff) and they got to see such a stellar effort by both sides, the myriad big plays by MSU -- including the blocked punt for a touchdown being celebrated above -- and the astonishing game-winning play, yes, they are all the winners here. I've personally been part of a home crowd who saw a game anywhere close to that once: Purdue at Iowa, 2002. That was an incredible, euphoric experience, and Saturday's MSU win hit those notes of amazement even better than the 2002 game did. Sparty fans, you don't need to be told this, but you just witnessed a game for the ages. Treasure it.
LOSER: Russell Wilson's Heisman campaign
For the first half of the season, Russell Wilson looked like a great quarterback making fools of bad defenses (Nebraska included). His yards per throw not only led the NCAA, it was a full yard ahead of the pace to set a new FBS record, at 12.16. Wilson was a legitimate Heisman contender, and hey, with what Wisconsin was doing to everybody on its schedule, why not?
Unfortunately, on Saturday, Wilson looked like a quarterback who hadn't played a good defense all year, playing a good defense. The end result was several ill-advised throws, two picks, an intentional grounding call for a safety, and easily the worst start of his brief Badger career: 14-21, 223 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs (Yes, that is his worst start. Like we said, bad defenses). Now, Wilson did engineer four touchdown drives, so it's not as if he was beaten into submission all night, but the offense completely fell apart when Montee Bell was on the sidelines, leading one to wonder if the key to keeping the Badger offense rolling has never actually been Wilson to begin with.
WINNER: Keith Nichol
Keith Nichol, seen at right with a very good reason to smile, hasn't had very many opportunities to be a hero in his college career, though it seemed at the start that he'd have chances at every turn; he was originally recruited by Bob Stoops to be a quarterback for Oklahoma, and he only went to MSU because of the emergence of one Sam Bradford down there. Once Nichol transferred to Michigan State, he split time in a QB platoon with Kirk Cousins at the beginning of 2009 before Cousins was named the full-time starter.
Now, there are plenty of quarterbacks who would have simply transferred to an FCS school in search of immediate playing time at that point, and nobody would have begrudged Nichol if that was the path he had chosen. Instead, a spate of WR suspensions going into the 2009 Alamo Bowl against Texas Tech prompted Nichol to switch to wideout, and while he hasn't set the world on fire there, he has at least remained a productive 4th option for Cousins -- and a loyal teammate to the rest of the program. It takes a lot of maturity to catch passes from the guy who beat you out for a starting role at QB, and if that doesn't sound true, try beign forced into a different job at work and taking orders from the person who took the job you wanted. Right. Not fun.
So, seeing Nichol go through the first 59 minutes and 59 seconds of the game without a catch, only to become the hero on the last play like that? That's not only a joy, it's a testament to program stability. Does a hypothetical freshman backup wideout in Nichol's stead know to be in that position to look for a deflection? Does that hypothetical WR also have the will to push the ball across the plane against multiple tacklers? Neither is a given, but we do know the answer is yes for Nichol. The phrase "couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy" is trite to the point that it's usually used sarcastically, but it absolutely applies here.
LOSER: Ron Zook, again
Forget the 21-14 final score of the Illinois-Purdue game, please, because it paints a very inaccurate picture of how close the contest really was. The Boilermakers ran out to a 21-0 lead in the first half, and Illinois never touched the ball again after bringing the game to 21-14. Despite the large lead Purdue rang up in the win, we'll refrain from saying the game "didn't feel like an upset," because it absolutely did; Illinois had scoring chances but blew them, while Caleb TerBush and the rest of the Purdue offense just flailed ineffectually in the second half and got a win to show for it anyway.
Illinois should not have been so mentally flat coming into the game, though, especially coming right off a loss to Ohio State (who, like Michigan, was off this week) where the Illini handed the anemic OSU offense scoring chances in the second half time and time again. The mental errors need to be corrected coming off a game like that, not magnified. That is on Ron Zook and his coaching staff, 100%. And so even with Illinois at 6-2, it's that "2" that looms larger at this point in the season, and that threatens to balloon in a hurry if Zook doesn't get the team back on track. Otherwise, there's really no telling how much more patience the Illinois brass will have for him.
WINNER: Marvin McNutt
Coming into this week's action against Indiana, Iowa WR Marvin McNutt just needed one TD to break the all-time Hawkeye receiving touchdown record of 21 that he shared with Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes. McNutt got that touchdown on Saturday. Then he got two more. In the first half. In related news, the Hawkeyes-Hoosiers game was not very close.
McNutt now has 41 catches for 757 yards and eight TDs in seven games thus far, all of which lead the team by substantial margins. If he keeps that pace up for the rest of the year, he would shatter Iowa single-season receiving records in both yardage and scoring -- and he would also set Iowa career marks in receptions and receiving yardage to go with his touchdown mark. So keep your eyes on No. 7, Iowa fans; he's probably the best wide receiver in school history.
It would be inappropriate to lay the struggles of Northwestern at the feet of Dan Persa, since he's hardly the worst performer on the Wildcats; for one, Persa isn't responsible for the defense, which currently gives up about 250 yards of passing per game and can't crack the top 100 in FBS in pass efficiency defense.
That said, though, Persa is at least the most visible of the Wildcats, and is so by the direct actions of an athletic department that hyped him as "PersaStrong," even as he (understandably) struggled to recover from a severe Achilles injury. And the fact is, Persa's just not at the level he played at last season. His mobility is hampered to the point that he doesn't run designed rushes, and he doesn't have the same timing down with his receivers that he did last year. He also doesn't seem entirely recovered from that injury, though he's at least at the point in the process where it's going to take play on the field to get back to the "100%" of 2010 and not more time with team doctors.
All in all, though, Persa's barely even beating out Kain Colter for the starting QB role, and while we expect Persa to at least continue that mastery of the starting lineup, the fact that Colter's still getting snaps there every week demonstrates that even the Northwestern coaches don't fully trust Dan Persa's leg yet. And given that, it seems more than a little silly that he was the focus of a Heisman campaign coming into the season, doesn't it?
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Caleb TerBush, Dan Persa, Danan Hughes, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kain Colter, Keith Nichol, Kirk Cousins, Marvin McNutt, Michigan State, Montee Ball, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford, Texas Tech, Tim Dwight, Week 8, What I Learned, Winners and Losers, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:29 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:43 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Florida State starting quarterback EJ Manuel sat out of Monday's practice, resting what head coach Jimbo Fisher is calling a "sore shoulder."
In a news conference that same day, Fisher revealed Manuel's issue to be an AC joint separation in the left, non-throwing shoulder. The head coach said the MRI found "no abnormalities," and the quarterback would be evaluated on a "day-to-day" basis.
Manuel scrambled on a six-yard run in the third quarter of Florida State's 23-13 loss to Oklahoma before being hit by Sooners' linebacker Travis Lewis. Manuel landed awkwardly on that left shoulder, and reportedly could not lift that non-throwing arm parallel to the ground when he left the came.
Fisher claims pain tolerance is the only thing keeping Manuel from the field, but if the injury is an AC joint separation the injury could be much more serious. A "Type I" or "Type II" separation does not require surgery, and recovery time can be between 2-6 weeks. If the injury is a Type III separation, Manuel might be faced with some tough decisions regarding his return to the field.
A Type III AC joint sprain was the injury that ended Sam Bradford's career at Oklahoma in 2009. Bradford was originally scheduled to miss three-to-six weeks following the injury in the first game of the season against BYU. Bradford returned briefly after a three week absence before re-injuring his shoulder against Texas in the Red River Rivalry. The re-injury resulted in Bradford needing surgery, ending his career as a Sooner.
If Manuel's separation only requires rest and rehabilitation, it will be important that he does not put himself in a position of re-injury by coming back prematurely. The junior quarterback has shown incredible growth since his first action as Christian Ponder's backup in 2009, and there are high expectations of where he can lead this team before his career as a Seminole is over.
For more information on AC joint sprains, check out Coley Harvey's crash-course over at the Orlando Sentinel.
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Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
We don't expect defensive coordinators to like the current trend of up-tempo, no-huddle offenses like those favored by Oregon, Oklahoma, and Auburn. But we also don't expect them to be, well, bitter about them, either, or suggest that the NCAA step in with rules changes to stop what's still a small minority of college offenses.
So, yes, consider us surprised by the vehemence with which South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson attacked the trend in a recent radio interview:
“One thing that has gotten into it that I’ve been pretty outspoken, that I really think is starting to deteriorate some of college football is the hurry up offenses ...Please don't take this the wrong way, Mr. Johnson ... but yes, right now, it sounds like sour grapes.
Because while a good "signal system or verbiage system" paired with an up-tempo offense can make things very difficult on a defense when run correctly, it's hardly some kind of college football cure-all. For starters, there's the trade-off of a greater strain on the no-huddle team's own defense; the defenses opposite Gus Malzahn's attacks at both Auburn and Tulsa took huge statistical hits as soon as he arrived. There's the subtantial increase in conditioning work that must be done for those offenses to maintain their stamina late into games. There's the risk of multiple high-tempo three-and-outs putting the no-huddle team at a huge time-of-possession disadvantage.
And then -- despite Johnson's implication that a collection of players who weren't any good at "blocking, tackling, running," etc. could thrive as long as they had the right "verbiage system" -- you've still got to have the right personnel. While the tempo has no doubt helped, the overwhelming talents of players like Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and LaMichael James have all played a far greater role in the success of their respective offenses.
As for what the no-huddle looks like without those kinds of players, Vanderbilt installed the no-huddle before the 2009 season, and even brought in Malzahn's Tulsa colleague Herb Hand for 2010; the results were still 109th- and 110th-place finishes in total offense, even worse than the Commodores' usual efforts.
So we humbly suggest that if Johnon wants the no-huddle offensess on the Gamecocks' schedule stopped, he prepare his team to do so -- not an impossible task even against the best of them, as Mississippi State (17 points allowed to Auburn) and Cal (13 points allowed to Oregon) proved last year -- rather than hoping the NCAA descends from on high to do his work for him.
HT: Get the Picture, which quotes a 2004 story to show that it wasn't so long ago the rulebook agreed with Johnson.
Posted on: April 11, 2011 2:16 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It's a tough time to be an Ohio State Buckeyes fan right now. Not only do you have to deal with the latest fiasco involving head coach Jim Tressel and the Buckeye Five, but there's also the fact that once the season starts, neither Tressel or the Buckeye Five will be available for the first five games of the season. That means no Terrelle Pryor, no Dan Herron, no DeVier Posey and no head coach. Of course, while all this is going on, there's also the age-old tradition of kicking someone while they're down, and that seems to be the case with Ohio State these days.
The latest incident comes from the National Football Post's Dave Miller, who is reporting that, according to a source, Terrelle Pryor is considering leaving Ohio State to enter the NFL's supplemental draft rather than serve his suspension.
The dual-threat signal caller has not dismissed the idea of going the NFL Supplemental Draft route. According to a source, the odds of Pryor staying for his senior season are about 60-40, but Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd coming out and declaring for the supplemental draft would have a direct effect on his decision. Of course, Floyd dodged suspension by the school’s Residence Life committee after being arrested for DUI. However, head coach Brian Kelly suspended his star receiver for the foreseeable future.
Ah, yes, "a source" who says there's a "60-40" chance he could leave. Which leads to a whole lot of room for error should Pryor not leave Ohio State. After all, there's a 40% chance he won't! So if I were an Ohio State fan, I wouldn't get too worried about this story, especially in light of this tweet from Adam Jardy of the Buckeye Sports Bulletin.
Also, if that's not enough to squash any fears you may be having about Pryor's Ohio State career, there's more. While the National Football Post is an NFL website that has a good handle on NFL matters, it's track record with college stories isn't as strong. As Matt Hinton of Dr. Saturday points out, the last time the site ran a story about a college player entering the draft, it was this story about Oklahoma's Sam Bradford.
According to that report, Bradford was going to declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft following Oklahoma's bout with Florida in the 2009 BCS Championship. A week later Bradford announced he was returning to Oklahoma.
So don't lose any sleep, Buckeye fans.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 4:17 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier today the news broke that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was going to return to Stanford next season instead of entering the NFL Draft. It was a surprise to most, seeing that Luck has been projected as the top pick in the draft, and it seems Jim Harbaugh is on his way out of Palo Alto to cash in on the NFL riches his quarterback is passing up.
In his post on the subject, the honorable Adam Jacobi said that it may not be the wrong decision for Luck to stay in school. He brought up some good points too, pointing out how college quarterbacks without a lot of starts under their belt have a history of struggling in the NFL. He even brought up the example of David Carr. Still, in spite of all that, I'm of the firm opinion that Luck is making a costly mistake to stay in Palo Alto.
There are a lot of things out of Luck's control with this decision that nobody can predict. Should he have gone on to the NFL, there's no guarantee he'd have succeeded. Staying in school, there's no guarantee that he'll get through another season or two healthy, or be rated as highly of an NFL prospect ever again.
Here's the one thing we do know about Luck: had he gone to the NFL, he'd have gotten paid. Not paid like you or I get paid, but "I can't choose between these yachts, so I think I'll buy both of them. Oh, and the Bentley too," paid.
We don't know what the future of the NFL holds. There may be a lockout next season, there may not be. What we do know is that as the top pick in the draft, and a quarterback at that, Luck would have landed a huge deal from the Carolina Panthers. Look at what Sam Bradford got from the St. Louis Rams with last season, signing a deal with $50 million guaranteed.
All indications are, whether there is an NFL lockout or not, one of the changes the NFL will be making is to put a cap on all rookie contracts. Which means that the difference between entering the 2011 draft and the 2012 draft could mean around $45 million for Luck. That's a lot of money to just give away.
Luck is a good quarterback. Will he be a great quarterback, I don't know. None of us do for sure. Still, I really don't think going back to school for another year will really help his chances. If Luck is destined to be an NFL great, he will put the work in to get better and become one. If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be.
Whatever the case is, I'd rather be a failed NFL quarterback with $50 million in my bank account than one with $5 million. If Luck does become a great player, he'll end up being paid either way. It's just, in this decision, the risk is not worth the reward for Luck. Yes, that degree from Stanford will be nice, but football isn't a sport anybody can play until they're 70 years old. He'll have plenty of time to go back and finish his degree if it means that much to him.
But the opportunity to break the bank, and set yourself and your family up to live comfortably for a few generations doesn't come around very often. I fear Luck may have just blown his.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 4:49 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Last week there was a report that Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson had interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at Indiana. It was a report that Bob Stoops made sure to say was wrong. Though, before he was done denying the report, Stoops did say that he hoped Wilson would get the chance to interview for the position.
Well, according to a report in the Tulsa World, that's what is about to happen. A source at Indiana told the paper that Wilson was will interview for the position on Monday night.
If Wilson does end up getting the Indiana job, it would be nice hire for the school. Wilson has been at Oklahoma working for Stoops since 2002 and became the offensive coordinator in 2006 after Chuck Long left for his ill-fated job at San Diego State. Wilson had been the co-offensive coordinator before that.
Obviously, he's been pretty successful in the postion and he won the Broyles Award in 2008 as the top assistant coach in the country when he ran a very prolific Oklahoma offense that got Sam Bradford a Heisman Trophy in 2008. This season's offense was fourth in the nation in passing yards with 336.8 yards a game, and ranked 17th with 36.4 points per game. Of course, there's a slight difference between the talent at Oklahoma and the talent at Indiana.