Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:41 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 5:08 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send questions to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @Feldyman15 Urban Meyer is a proven winner, however does his style of offense translate to the B1G? Will it be a smooth transition?
Nice to see a question from my favorite former FCS star football player. Meyer's had success everywhere he's been. He's proven he's willing--and capable--of tweaking his offense to suit the personnel he inherits. He's not rigid.
The key thing about him taking over in Columbus is the most important component to his system that he inherited (the dual-threat triggerman) happens to be an ideal fit for what Meyer loves to do. As I wrote a while back when Meyer got hired, he's been sky high on Braxton Miller since long before he took the job. That said, Miller's still a young QB and there are bound to be growing pains. A bigger challenge will be that OSU has to replace three very good O-linemen and there are no proven wideouts to rely on. There will be some rocky moments, but I expect this to be a top 25 team, in part because of Miller's talent, in part because of some playmakers on a seasoned defense and because Meyer's a great, not good, coach.
From @NYWolverine2 Do you think Urban Meyer's spread will work in the B1G since RR failed?
First off, RichRod's problems in the Big Ten weren't because of his offense. In his final season in Ann Arbor, when he finally had many of the pieces in place to run his system, the Wolverines were eighth in the nation in total offense (and first in the Big Ten). Rodriguez isn't still in Ann Arbor because he never got the right defensive coordinator.
If Meyer's system worked in the SEC, it can work anywhere. And if anyone's going to suggest that because of the challenges a program's defense faces on a daily basis at practice because you own offense, like Rodriguez hinders a D's development, keep in mind that Meyer's former defensive coordinator at Florida was Greg Mattison, the guy who has made the biggest difference in Brady Hoke's success at UM.
On top of that, Meyer is riding such a wave of good energy right now since he was hired. He is killing it in recruiting and finished the 2012 class with a flurry. And that heat is only intensifying. Earlier this week, OSU got a commitment from one of the top O-line prospects in the midwest, Evan Lisle, who picked the Buckeyes over, among others, Alabama and OU. Meyer already snagged a five-star guy in Cameron Burrows and Jalin Marshall was another Ohio kid who virtually everyone was after.
From @BrianTrageser What offense are you most excited to watch in 2012?
There are so many intriguing dynamics to look forward to this fall. The ones that most jump out at me as I went through a list of schools alphabetically via conference:
Clemson: Year Two for Tajh Boyd, Chad Morris and Sammy Watkins.
FSU: Can E.J. Manuel and an impressive group of young receivers live up to expectations.
Kansas: Curious how Dayne Crist and Charlie Weis will do reuniting in Lawrence after dismal 2011s.
Texas A&M: Kliff Kingsbury's system is very different from what Mike Sherman ran and the Aggies do have the luxury of an excellent O-line.
WVU: Similar to the Clemson team they destroyed in the Orange Bowl, this could be an even more explosive attack with an off-season of added reps and improved timing.
Ohio State: Urban Meyer loves Braxton Miller and probably has some wrinkles ready to break out on the rest of the Big Ten.
Penn State: Bill O'Brien had a lot of success with the Pats offense (then again, who doesn't?) and now gets a chance to fix the shaky Penn State QB situation.
Boise State: Life after Kellen Moore?
Arizona: RichRod inherits a QB (Matt Scott) who is a pretty good fit for his system.
Oregon: Because Chip Kelly's still there and he's got a gobs of speed.
Stanford: Life after Luck?
USC: Matt Barkley's back for his fourth year as a starter with most of the line in tact to go with two superb WRs and a 1.000-yard runner.
Washington State: Leach's offenses have always produced and there might be some Pistol flavor to spice up the Air-Raid. He inherits two capable QBs, one outstanding WR and a very suspect O-line.
Tennessee: They have a lot of thee-year starters and should throw for a bunch of yards.
FIU: Cristobal hired a Chip Kelly disciple from New Hampshire.
Hawaii: Norm Chow goes home to run his own show.
From @eric_hise Will Mack's reach into JUCO ranks pay off?...side note, look forward to seeing u n the ATX for SXSW!
From what I heard via coaches who tried to recruit those JC linemen, those guys should help boost what has been an underwhelming group over the past few years and provide depth on the D assuming they can grasp Bryan Harsin's system and Manny Diaz' scheme. That's one of the big mysteries with bringing in JC guys.
The Horns, though, have a couple of gifted, physical young backs, so I expect to see a big improvement in this running game. The thing most holding UT back from being a legit Top 10 team is a consistent passing game. My hunch is David Ash will be a lot better than he was in his first season, but this program is probably a year away.
I am also looking forward to getting to Austin for SXSW. (I tweeted earlier this week that I will be speaking there on a panel covering sports reporting and Twitter a week from Monday.)
From @Draft_Hub Top 5 exciting players for 2012
Three players immediately came to mind: Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, Michigan's Denard Robinson and LSU's Tyrann Mathieu. I was torn for the last two spots between Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Wisconsin's former walk-on phenom Jared Abbrederis and WVU's Tavon Austin.
From @JohnHanson20 Does WVU have a legit shot at a Big12 title next year?
In terms of firepower and offense? No question. They have a legit shot because their offense is going to be so explosive, but I have my doubts whether they'll be good enough on D to overtake an Oklahoma. The team lost three of its best players off of what was a very average defense that ranked No. 61 in scoring. Jeff Casteel was a well-regarded DC and he's gone, off to join Rich Rodriguez in Arizona. The new defensive staff is younger and there's more uncertainty.
From @SlickOne716 Is WVU canceling of their game at FSU really going to hurt FSU's chance at the National Championship?
No. With FSU, it's not going to be about having enough impressive opponents. If FSU won out last year, the Noles would've been playing for the title. The pollsters are just salivating at that chance to say the Noles are back, but the team, of late, has had the tendency to shoot itself in the foot a time or three.
There's no doubt the non-conference schedule took a hit with them having to replace WVU with Savannah State, but at least UF is still on there with a road game at USF. There are a lot of top 25 teams that have a lot worse than that. FSU does need a few ACC programs to get out to fast starts and look viable (Clemson? Va. Tech? Miami?). It'd also help their cause a lot if the Gators knocked off a few top 25 SEC teams before they visited Tallahassee.
From @loubega1 how close is Notre Dame to fielding a dominant defense? Are there enough playmakers in the secondary?
It has been such a long time since the Irish have had a really good defense, much less a dominant one. I would say last season there were were only two truly dominant defenses, LSU and Alabama. Notre Dame is not close to what either of those teams had or did. Those teams were overflowing with playmakers, not just the starters by all over their two-deeps.
In 2011, the Irish made some strides, ranking 30th in total D and 24th in scoring defense. The downside was they were only 59th in sacks, 77th in tackles for loss, and worst of all, forced only 14 turnovers in 13 games. Only one team in all of the FBS that played in a bowl game forced less turnovers (Fresno State).
It has been years since ND has had the type of size and athleticism it has now in its front seven, but many of those guys are still pretty raw. Aaron Lynch, Prince Shembo, Ishaq Williams, Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix need to mature fast and become more consistent. What is more a concern, as you point out, is their secondary. They had a lot of experience back there in 2011, and those guys just struggled to make plays on the ball. And many of these guys came to ND as celebrated recruits. We'll see if they can get it sorted out. Until that happens and the younger D-line guys show they can be consistent, they're still a bit away.
From @NMStefan can Illinois ever really recruit consistently good due to their geography with Northwestern and Notre Dame so close?
They should be able to but so much of that is on the new staff and the relationships they develop with the local high school coaches. Ron Zook's staffs landed more than their share of blue-chippers but many tended to be from outside the state. It's not Notre Dame and Northwestern that are the biggest thorns in the Illini's side in terms of in-state recruiting. It's Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State. And in terms of the 2012 recruiting class, it was Auburn that snagged arguably the top in-state prospect in OT Jordan Diamond. Just in 2012, Iowa landed four of the top 10 players. That has to change with the new staff.
From @JDubs88 Would you agree that Spencer Hall and Jason Kirk need a little more sun?
I don't think so. I'm not sure tan works with corduroy. It's kinda like mixing ascots and mullets. I think I learned that in one of my classes in junior college.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2012 11:29 pm
Last year at this time, one of the more intriguing quarterback battles in college football was seeing which QB at Alabama would take over for the departing Greg McElroy. Turns out, the guy who won the job, A.J. McCarron, would help his team to the BCS title. It's probably a stretch to think that another first-year starting, scrapping to win some QB derby this spring will be able to lead his team to a national title, but you never know. This week's Top 10: the most significant QB battles of the spring in college football.
1-Oregon - Bryan Bennett vs. Marcus Mariota: Darron Thomas' surprising decision to jump to the NFL left a lot of folks scratching their heads. Some speculated that Thomas' move was prompted because he feared he might get overtaken in the spring by Bennett, who was impressive in his time playing while the Ducks starter was sidelined by injury. Thomas dismissed those rumors when I spoke to him a few days ago in Indy, saying there was no truth to them, and that he left because he was ready for competition at the next level. Thomas leaves behind an explosive offense with a dynamic group of backs and receivers, led by Kenjon Barner and budding star De'Anthony Thomas. Thomas praised both young QBs for their arms and their feet, saying both are good fits in Chip Kelly's system. Both are faster than Thomas and sources around the Duck program say both are more accurate than Thomas too. However, it's the experience and decision-making in this warp-speed attack that is hard to get a read on. Bennett, who completed 54 percent of his passes with a 6-0 TD-INT ratio and ran for 200 yards in a few games at midseason, is the favorite, but don't write off the 6-4 Mariota, a late-bloomer as a recruit, who has generated a lot of buzz among his teammates. He's seen as a guy who'll look to throw more than Bennett, we're told. This should be a legit BCS title contender if Bennett and/or Mariota are as advertised.
2-Boise State - Joe Southwick vs. Grant Hedrick vs. Nick Patti vs. Jimmy Laughrea: All Kellen Moore did was win more than any starting QB in college football history. But this program has proven to be bigger than one coach or one assistant or any player, but no doubt the four-year starter will be really missed. The guy was an all-time great. Southwick, a junior, who is about the same size as Moore, has been tabbed as the frontrunner by new OC Robert Prince. Hedrick is coming off knee surgery and also has been in the program for a while. The wildcard in this race is Patti, a shorter kid from Orlando with a very good arm and outstanding feet. Lots of coaches were impressed by his skills but just were turned off by his 5-11ish frame. He enrolled early and will be a factor here.
3-Notre Dame - Tommy Rees vs. Andrew Hendrix vs. Everett Golson vs. Gunner Kiel: The Irish should have their best front seven in years but how much more efficient can their offense be, especially without go-to receiver Mike Floyd? Rees has the most experience, but has struggled quite a bit and looks like he'll get overtaken this year. Hendrix saw some action last year as more of a change up because of his running ability. He also has a much stronger arm than Rees. As I've said a few times this off-season, Brian Kelly is sky high on Golson, a shorter QB from South Carolina, who redshirted in 2011. The 5-11 Golson, a dual-threat QB, could bring that much-needed spark to the ND offense. Kiel, an early enrollee, comes to South Bend with the biggest recruiting hype of the bunch, but several QB coaches who worked with the Indiana native last summer came away skeptical about how competitive he is and whether he has the moxie to be an elite QB.
4-Stanford - Brett Nottingham vs. Josh Nunes vs. Robbie Picazo vs. Kevin Hogan vs. Evan Crower:Andrew Luck arrived at Stanford while the program was among the worst in major college football. In his last two seasons, the Cardinal won 23 games. He was special. It'll be impossible to replace him. Stanford has a long list of guys vying for the job. Nottingham, a redshirt soph, is the frontrunner. I'm told he has the best arm of the bunch. He played in six games in 2011, although only threw eight passes. Nunes and Picazo are juniors while Hogan and Crower are freshmen. Coach David Shaw said at his pre-spring press conference he will try and divide reps in the first part of Stanford's spring session equally.
5-Wisconsin - Jon Budmayr vs. Joe Brennan vs. Curt Phillips vs. Joel Stave: Russell Wilson transferred in from NC State and had a terrific season for the Badgers. Whoever wins this job will have the luxury of a superb running game, led by Montee Ball. There will also be a new OC running the show with Matt Canada coming back to the Big Ten from NIU to replace Paul Chryst. Budmayr sat out last season with an elbow injury. If he's healthy, he'll have a good shot to win this job. Many figured he'd have been the starter had Wilson not transferred in and if Budmayr stayed healthy. Phillips, a former blue-chip recruit, has been plagued by knee injuries, offers good size and mobility despite two ACL injuries. There are two other names to remember for this vacancy come the fall: Bart Houston, a touted prospect from California who arrives in the summer and Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien, who is considering Wisconsin among several schools.
6-Oklahoma State - Clint Chelf vs. Wes Lunt vs. J.W. Walsh: Brandon Weeden leaves after the Cowboys had a fantastic season, just missing out on a shot to play for the national title. In two seasons, he went 23-3. Mike Gundy has said this thing is "wide open." The 6-1 Chelf is the only option that has played, throwing 69 passes in two seasons as Weeden's understudy. Walsh, a former blue-chip recruit, has been compared to ex-OSU standout Zac Robinson for his agility and dual-threat ability. But don't underestimate Walsh's arm. It's good too. Lunt, a lanky 6-5 early enrollee from Illinois, comes in with a strong rep as a passer. The staff wants him to bulk up, but he will get a shot to win this job.
7-Texas - David Ash vs. Case McCoy: The Horns should continue to improve after two disappointing seasons. They've had all sorts of problems trying to replace Colt McCoy since the UT great left Austin two years ago. It looks like it's Ash's job to lose. Last year, he was primarily a running threat. He was very raw as a passer, throwing four TDs and eight INTs. But he was pretty solid in UT's bowl win over Cal and that should give him some confidence to build on. Junior Case McCoy, Colt's younger brother, started five games in 2011 and will keep pushing Ash.
8-Florida - Jacoby Brissett vs. Jeff Driskel: The Gators have fallen fast since Tim Tebow left for the NFL. Charlie Weis spent one year in Gainesville trying to change UF from Urban Meyer's spread-option system. The results were not good as the Gator offense struggled mightily as an injury to upperclassman John Brantley forced the two true freshmen into action. Now new OC Brent Pease comes from Boise and inherits two big, athletic young QBs who have some game experience. Both have a lot of physical ability, but each needs quite a bit of polish and would be helped by improvement from what was a shaky O-line and inconsistent group of receivers.
9-Auburn - Clint Moseley vs. Kiehl Frazier vs. Zeke Pike: Guz Malzahn left for the Arkansas State job and Scot Loeffler is taking over an offense that was 100th in total O in 2011. There were some rumors a while back that Frazier, who has known Malzahn since the 7th grade might be thinking of returning to his home state, but the dual-threat QB has dismissed that speculation. The sophomore is very talented. Moseley has the edge in experience and having started games at LSU and the Iron Bowl can't be overstated. This one will be curious to see how things develop under Loeffler.
10-Texas A&M - Jameill Showers vs. Johnny Manziel vs. Matt Joeckel vs. Matt Davis: There is a lot of change going on in College Station as the Aggies make the jump into the SEC. With Kevin Sumlin bringing OC/QB coach Kliff Kingsbury, my hunch is that quarterback production is going to pick up over the next few years at A&M. What's really intriguing here is that three of these QBs are legit dual-threat talents with only Joeckel really more of a pocket guy. Showers, Ryan Tannehill's back-up, has a lot of talent. Keep an eye on Manziel though. He's only about 6-0 but something of a Texas prep legend. Manziel is a spectacular athlete who has a very live arm and is so athletic he can do 360 dunks.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:37 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:41 pm
INDIANAPOLIS--Just five minutes after Andrew Luck was surrounded by a few hundred reporters, Kellen Moore strolled into the media room at Lucas Oil Stadium at the NFL Combine almost completely unnoticed. There was no rush of media members to get a good spot in front of Moore's podium. No cameramen jockeying for position. No matter. The winningest QB in college football history was grinning and seemed delighted to be here. Maybe there were only a dozen reporters listening to the former Boise State great--a few less than there were huddled around Appalachian State wideout Brian Quick, but of all the draft hopefuls who were ushered into the media room Friday, none looked any more happy to be there than Moore.
Not surprisingly the first question thrown at Moore: So what did you measure in at?
"I got to 6-feet, so you can let everyone know about that," Moore said proudly. "Six-feet and a bunch of zeroes after that."
He would later explain that he stopped growing around the ninth grade. It still didn't stop him from leading the Broncos to a bunch of big wins and a jaw-dropping 142-28 TD-INT mark in his career. Over the past two seasons, he's completed some 73 percent of his passes.
Moore's size, of course, is one of the sources of skepticism in NFL circles, where many wonder if he'll even get drafted. Then again, his size--or lack thereof--was an issue throughout the recruiting process too, Moore pointed out.
"I'm comfortable with it," said Moore, who picked Boise over Eastern Washington. "I'm fine. It is what it is. You're gonna get that opportunity and once you get it, it's up to you."
Moore, who arrived at BSU at just 176 pounds and is now 197, did look thicker than he did in his college career.
At BSU, he was brilliant over the past four years. His arm strength won't dazzle scouts, but his ability to anticipate his throws and work downfield with pinpoint accuracy more than made up for it. He lacked elite footspeed, but still possesses excellent pocket presence. Finding passing lanes and moving in the pocket, just like one of his favorites, helped make Drew Brees an NFL superstar. And Moore reminded reporters that most QBs still have to maneuver to find passing lanes, whether they're 6-4, or 6-feet. Except for his buddy, former ASU QB Brock Osweiler since he's still a few inches taller than most O-linemen.
Moore was asked if it bothered him that Luck and Robert Griffin III were getting most of the spotlight. "Nah, I don't get concerned with that. What they did in college certainly warrants the attention. . . .We're all gonna get an opportunity, and that's all you can ask for."
Posted on: February 7, 2012 1:02 pm
As we try and size up the best and worst head coaching hires of the the past few months, I thought it was worth delving into some of the top in-the-trenches guys and staffers who made news but on a much smaller scale during "the silly season" that is the coaching carousel. This week's Top 10: best assistant moves:
1. Oklahoma hiring back Mike Stoops as defensive coordinator: Some Sooner fans have been lamenting the Mike Stoops Jinx for years now noting that OU football hasn't been as tough or as effective, especially in big games since Bob Stoops' fiery brother left for Arizona. On paper, the younger Stoops brother certainly left a mark, coaching OU to the top or near the top in almost every significant defensive statistic. He also sparked OU to a school-best 48 wins over a four-year stretch from 2000-03 that included a BCS national title. During that four-year stretch OU had three top-five finishes and produced 10 All-Americans on defense. In the eight years since he's been out of Norman, the Sooners have only had two top-five finishes and six All-Americans on D.
2. Washington hires Tosh Lupoi as D-line coach: The Huskies had been atrocious on defense prompting Steve Sarkisian to make some tough changes. One of them meant breaking the bank for the 30-year old former Cal assistant, who helped mentor some really good defensive linemen for the Golden Bears with Cameron Jordan and Tyson Alualu both becoming first-rounders in recent years. However, Lupoi's biggest impact comes off the field, where his departure shook up the recruiting world in the past few months. Five-star DB Shaq Thompson took a late visit up to U-Dub and ended up signing with the Huskies. Lupoi also got long-time USC DE commit Pio Vatuvei to flip to Washington on Signing Day. If Lupoi doesn't bolt for Seattle, Cal probably reels in a Top 10 recruiting class despite the fact that it has a sub .500 record in league play the past three years. But the coach's exit torpedoed that, and yes, it was messy. Expect many more fireworks in the coming year and for U-Dub to be a player nationally on the recruiting scene as long as Lupoi is with the Huskies.
3. Michigan State retains DC Pat Narduzzi: Arguably the most underrated defensive coordinator in college football, Narduzzi was courted by Kevin Sumlin after the new Texas A&M coach arrived at the SEC program, but MSU was able to hang onto the Youngstown product. That's quite a coup for the Spartans. In 2010, Narduzzi led MSU to one of its better defensive seasons in years. But going into last season he had to replace four of the top five tacklers, including star LB Greg Jones. The result: the Spartans played even better. MSU was No. 6 in the country in total defense; No. 10 in scoring; No. 7 in sacks and No. 9 against the run. They won 11 games and finished in the Top 10 for the first time since the Nick Saban days in the late '90s.
4. UNC lands Vic Koenning as its defensive coordinator: One of the best moves Ron Zook made at Illinois was flipping the keys to Koenning to run his defense. Koenning transformed the Illini D from 91st nationally to No. 7 in one year. He also sparked a dramatic improvement in K-State's defense at his previous stop. In his last stint in the ACC, at Clemson, Koenning (pronounced "CONE-ing") did something no other Tiger DC ever could do: Each of his four defenses from 2005-2008 finished in the top 25 in scoring, total, and pass efficiency defense each season.
5. Urban Meyer reunites with Mickey Marotti as Ohio State gets a new strength coach: A huge key for Meyer in his run at UF was surrounding himself with a great staff. With the possible exception of Charlie Strong, no other assistant was more vital to UF's success in that time than Marotti, who goes back with Meyer to their days in Columbus in the late 80s when both were just beginning their coaching careers. When Meyer talked about his new staff at OSU, Marotti was the one he called his "most important hire." The one-time OSU grad assistant developed 22 All-Americans and eight first-rounders during his seven years in Gainesville.
6. Jim Mora recruits his ace recruiters: The new UCLA head coach had never really worked in college and there was a lot of skepticism about how the NFL lifer would acclimate to things like recruiting. Well, Mora wasted little time getting up to speed by landing a couple of assistants with deep California connections in O-line coach Adrian Klemm and Demetrice Martin, a pair of aggressive young assistants who grew up in the L.A. area. Martin helped snag Ellis McCarthy, perhaps the top defensive lineman on the West Coast, along with touted DE Jeremy Castro, while Klemm nabbed a bunch of other blue-chippers that included CB Ishmael Adams, WR Jordan Payton and OT Lacy Westbrook.
7. Paul Chryst brings O-line coach Bob Bostad to Pitt: The Panthers were beyond brutal up front. They ranked dead last in the NCAA in sacks allowed with an eye-popping 64-- 17 more than the next worst team. You almost never see such wide gaps in the pits of the NCAA ineptitude stats. That figures to get a whole lot better under Chryst and Bostad. The former Badger O-line coach developed four all-Americans in the past two seasons alone (Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz) as Wisconsin rushed for over 3,000 yards the past two seasons en route to consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. Bostad's O-line actually allowed two few sacks in the past three seasons combined in 40 games than Pitt surrendered in 2011.
8. Rich Rodriguez finally gets Jeff Casteel back to run his defense: Rodriguez' biggest shortcoming from his time at Michigan was not being able to have his former WVU DC with him to run the Wolverines defense. Casteel has coached defenses that have finished in the top 15 in scoring D in four of the previous seven seasons. In 2010, the Mountaineers were third in the nation in scoring defense. Better still, Casteel is bringing a couple of WVU defensive assistants with him to Tucson who knew exactly what he wants and does. They will have plenty of work ahead of them in the most diverse offensive league as they inherit a team that was 107th in scoring defense and 116th in sacks.
9. Florida goes to Boise for its new OC: Charlie Weis had a very shaky season in Gainesville as the Gators stumbled in their transition season out of the Urban Meyer offense, finishing 105th in the country in total offense. Pease moves south after working with one of the most productive QBs in college history (Kellen Moore). The 47-year-old Pease also had a lot of success in his days at Montana in the 90s and had some good moments leading an undermanned Kentucky offense in the SEC before moving to Boise.
10. Mike Locksley is back at Maryland: No doubt Locksley had a disastrous run as New Mexico's head coach, going 2-26 and being at the center of a few off-field scandals. He signs on with second-year coach Randy Edsall, who had a disastrous beginning with the Terps going 2-10 with only one win over an FBS opponent. But never underestimate the recruiting juice Locksley has, especially in that part of the country. He will get kids who would never get within sniffing distance of Edsall's program to give the Terps a long, hard look now. And the school made sure to sweeter Locksley's deal on that front. According to the Washington Post, if Maryland is ranked in the top 40 by either Rivals.com or Scout.com's recruiting rankings on National Signing Day, Locksley will earn $25,000. He'll also get an additional $20,000 if the Terrapins place in the top four of ACC teams in the Rivals.com or Scout.com's rankings on National Signing Day.
Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:37 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 7:55 pm
Time for the Friday mailbag. As always, send your questions to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.
From @PatrickSmith45 I keep hearing how good Zach Mettenberger of LSU is. If he was that good wouldn't he have pushed for playing time this past year?
The vibe around LSU right now is really, really intriguing. The Tigers were so close to punctuating one of the great seasons by a team, but then get dominated by Alabama in their own backyard. LSU's offense was atrocious. Before the game, whenever someone asked me where LSU would rank with the all-time great teams, I tempered my answer because for as outstanding as they were on defense and special teams, their QB play was nowhere near that level, and on Monday night, it really showed.
That said, almost everyone I talked to last week sounded convinced the Tigers were in the midst of a great run considering that they have so many key guys in the program who are freshmen and sophomores. They had 16 players on the two-deep, including seven starters who were sophs or younger. People knew they'd likely lose Mo Claiborne, their superb CB, early to the NFL. Both QBs were playing their last game Monday as well, but you have to wonder if that's such a bad thing given how the showing in the BCS title game. Jordan Jefferson looked completely lost and his back-up Jarrett Lee didn't even inspire enough confidence in his coaches to bail them out when things looked so bleak.
No one has ever questioned one-time Georgia QB Zach Mettenberger's arm, and after a season at Butler County CC in Kansas, where he had a 32-4 TD-INT ratio, the expectations around the 6-6, 230-pounder only grew. Many of the people inside the program are sold.
I spoke to Mettenberger and his teammates a lot a few days ago about how LSU goes forward after the BCS game. Mettenberger said he'd hoped he could've getting a shot at the starting QB job in 2011, but "Coach Miles didn't see it that way," he said. "It was tough at first but I couldn't get upset as long you're winning."
Mettenberger said he could hardly wait for Tuesday (the day after the BCS title game) because "that's when it's my team.
It's gonna be like getting a Maserati when you turn 16. I really think our offense can be special."
Obviously, the Tigers offense looked anything but special against Alabama the other night. Give a lot of credit to the Tide for that, but also there has been plenty of finger-pointing going on in the state of Louisiana. And, if you follow (former?) LSU WR Russell Shepard on Twitter, you see it's not just fans and media (and parents of Tiger players) doing it. Maybe Mettenberger will instill enough faith in his coaches to change that.
Listening to WR Odell Beckham Jr., one of those gifted young players in the program, that is the hope. "Me and Zach always talk about next year," Beckham said last Friday. "Zach wants to break a lot of records.
"One of the things I really about him is he's not afraid to take a risk. He also really does have a cannon for an arm."
Mettenberger said he's learned to become more of a passer than just a thrower. "I used to 'juice' everything." He also said he's realized he has to be quicker with his decisions thanks to his time on the Tigers practice field this year. "If you're a split-second too late on a timing route, (Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu) are gonna jump it."
As for the off-field issues Mettenberger had at Georgia, he said he's "changed my ways of life. You gotta learn to grow up."
We'll see if he is the answer for LSU in 2012. If not, there's dual-threat redshirt freshman Jerrard Randall, who Beckham says has an even stronger arm than Mettenberger, and blue-chip recruit Gunnar Kiel, arguably the No. 1 QB prospect in the country.
From @BruCam87 What can we expect out of Mora and UCLA next year? The talent level seems to be higher than any PAC 12 South team except SC.
That's been the problem with the Bruins over the past two, three, 10 years or so. The talent "seems" pretty high. They have loaded up on guys who look the part, but they've gotten bogged down by landing too many guys who simply don't love football and aren't as competitive as you need to have an elite program.
When I visited with Jim Mora a few weeks back he told me he was determined to make this a tougher team. If that's Mission No. 1, that will help right away, but a lot of that also will come back to recruiting and bringing in tougher, hungrier kids.
What you had in 2011 was a team that was really mediocre on both sides of the ball. I suspect new OC Noel Mazzone will improve the offense because his scheme will be a better fit to the talent than the pistol has been. It'll also help getting back stud LT Xavier Su'a-Filo from the LDS mission after two years away. This program has been so thin on quality O-linemen and Big X is the best that has been on that campus in a decade. And I do agree with you that, given all of the transition in the Pac-12 South, you won't have to be a top 25 team to finish second in that division.
From @hanleyf6 Sal Sunseri has accepted DC job at TN. Why leave Bama? Lots of uncertainty with Dooley's status and major rebuilding job.
Sunseri's already won BCS titles as an assistant at Bama, and while he's well-regarded as a recruiter, if he can help spark the Vols' resurgence after a dreadful 2011 at a time when that program seems in disarray, his stock will sky-rocket. Even though, there is increasing speculation that if Derek Dooley has another season like he did in 2011 or even close to as bad, he won't be the coach at UT in 2013, keep in mind that Sunseri is getting a reported three-year deal that'll be worth almost $2.5 million. There is stability in that.
On the back side of Sunseri's decision is this: if he stays at Bama, Nick Saban gets most of the credit and Tide DC Kirby Smart gets basically what's left over. By leaving, Sunseri is positioning himself for a much larger spotlight.
From Irishsox05 Is college football ever going to move in the hash marks to match the NFL?
Interesting question. Never really thought about it. The differing hash marks affect so much of the game in terms of scheming and the kinds of plays people run (wide-side versus boundary). It's also a big consideration for defensive "landmarks" for things such as plotting out coverage areas with the Cover-2, etc.
My hunch is the NCAA sticks with what they have because they'd like to keep things as unique for college and traditional as they can, rather than make another stop just to be more like the pros.
From @PaulPabst If we moved to a plus-one or playoff, best case scenario ... which season would it start?
It would start in the 2014 season with the Plus-One (playoff) games taking place in January of 2015.
From @RedKirby What's your prediction for Tx Tech next year?
My guess is the Red Raiders will make a bowl game in 2012 after missing out this past season. Seth Doege is back at QB. He had an inconsistent year as a first-time starter, but he figures to be better with another year of seasoning. Getting RB Eric Stephens back after missing half the season with a knee injury also will help a bunch. It'll also be interesting to see what they can get from a crew of WRs who didn't play in 2011: Derek Edwards, Tyson Williams and UF transfer Javares McRoy. The O-line did lose some solid players and will see how new coach Sam Pitman can bring them together.
The biggest question is on defense, where the Red Raiders have been among the nation's worst on D for the past two years. They don't lose much to graduation and Tommy Tuberville reshuffled his staff with some more experienced coaches. I expect things to be better on that side of the ball.
Big picture, this team should get at least seven wins since they have one of the better QBs in the conference and more experience in their top 44.
From @rbode17 Which of Florida's big 3 will have the best 2012 season?
I'll go with FSU. They finished 2011 with the most momentum, have the QB who is furthest along (E.J. Manuel) and have the best defense. They also have the most stability of the staffs among the Big Three.
From @Kentuckyclem how come the national media does not cover or do an exposé on over signing in the SEC? Seems to be the common denominator...
The national media has covered that topic. A lot. You can Google it and all the times we've talked about it in print. Not to mention all of the times many of us have been asked about it on the radio or on national TV shows.
From @DavidAnderson89 how come u didn't choose the CBS hat off the table when u made "the decision"?
That hat stuff is so 2008. Tweeting it made more sense. ... Better question, how come a man of your stature, didn't do something creative with your decision, like picking a Colorado State ski hat over a Boise State ski hat and a Stanford beret?
Posted on: December 2, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 5:21 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, send your questions via Twitter to BFeldmanCBS.
From @Jdangelo4404 what do you think of the pac12 hiring all of these offensive minded coaches and how does it affect the perception of the conf?
The perception of a conference's merits change when it wins big games against other top teams from other leagues. Best thing that happened for the Pac-10 was when Pete Carroll's USC teams went to Auburn and Arkansas and hammered them and when the Trojans drilled Oklahoma in the BCS title game. Don't forget Carroll was fortunate to have some really sharp offensive minds with him (Norm Chow, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian). Jim Harbaugh was a home run hire for Stanford but you'd have to peg him as more of an offensive guy. Mike Stoops was a defensive guy but never could get Arizona to be a consistent winner. Point is, it's way too easy to generalize about "offensive" and "defensive" head coaches.
Urban Meyer was thought of as an offensive guy and that worked out quite well for the SEC. Same for Steve Spurrier. Bobby Petrino's an offensive guy and his hire at Arkansas is looking very good. There isn't only one way to build a powerhouse.
Obviously, hiring the right guys to run your defense if you are an "offensive" guy is vital though. Meyer had Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong. Rich Rodriguez who is a superb offensive mind didn't have those types of guys as his DC at Michigan. It'll be interesting to see who Rodriguez and Mike Leach land to run their defenses this time around and what UCLA and ASU end up doing. I do think what's interesting here is you're seeing these programs hire guys who both have very unique schemes and a lot of head-coaching experience in big conferences, not guys who are learning to be head coaches on the fly.
It is a very intriguing time for the Pac-12 right now. USC is hot again, but after 2012, they may feel at least some of the effects of the scholarship sanctions. Oregon is likely headed to its third BCS bowl in a row, but still has a sizeable NCAA cloud hanging over its head. Stanford has to replace a true franchise QB in Andrew Luck. Cal and Oregon State, which had been stronger in recent years, appear to be tailing off. The two new additions, Colorado and Utah showed they're still a ways from being able to compete for a league title. Then you have four programs going through coaching transitions.
From @jeremyarc7 Do you feel a&m fired Sherman too soon?
Nope. They'd given him enough time. Texas A&M is a big job and 25-25 and just 15-18 in Big 12 won't cut it, especially as the Aggies go into the SEC. This is Texas A&M, not an Iowa State, Baylor or Kansas, where they haven't traditionally had a lot of top 25 seasons. This team lost too many games in the second half, and it got to the point where if they'd finished 8-4, not 6-6, it still would've felt like a clunker of a season. Truth is, it looked like the Aggies took a backwards step this season. Sherman couldn't afford it in Year Four. He hadn't shown enough to warrant the confidence that he could get this program back into the top 10.
If the A&M brass feel like there are coaches out there that are better to get things cranked up (such as a Kevin Sumlin), they were smart to cut ties now and make that move.
From @RobGiffin how bad has the TN situation under Dooley gotten?
Much worse than I think anyone around the program would've anticipated if you'd asked them honestly three months ago. It's true they are young and they were stung by injuries, but I doubt anyone there truly believed they wouldn't even get to a bowl game. Remember, former UT AD Mike Hamilton backed out of a game against North Carolina and the Vols ended up with Buffalo instead. Even if the Vols beat Kentucky to go 6-6, I still think the year would've been a dud, but to lose to such a bad UK team playing a WR at QB was embarrassing for many Vols fans. It not only cost a young team more bonus bowl practices they won't get, but it leaves the program in a bad light on the recruiting trail.
I get that there is reason for some optimism because they have some gifted sophomores and freshmen, but can anyone really point to a reason for optimism about Derek Dooley running this team? Given his track record, I don't see how at this point.
Having said that, short of more NCAA trouble, I don't believe they could pull the plug on Dooley after just two seasons given all of the turnover from the end of Fulmer -- through Kiffin -- to now. He has to get least get a third season. They hired him and he does have a hefty buyout. But it is looking very obvious that Dooley is in fact in over his head here.
This is a guy who didn't even have a .500 record in the WAC, so for him to take over an elite SEC program looked really curious. I suspect there will be more turnover on the Vols staff this offseason than just WR coach Charlie Baggett. Dooley's 0-17 against ranked teams all-time. If he doesn't beat one or even two ranked teams next year, I have a feeling it won't matter if he gets UT bowl eligible. It's Tennessee. The Vols have a proud tradition, a huge stadium and a staff getting paid a lot of money. They're also in the much easier side of the conference right now. They shouldn't be content with bowl eligible.
From @Robherbst are you surprised that leach didn't hold out for a seemingly better job and are you surprised washington state coughed up the money to pay him?
Not really. I think realistically aside from Washington State, the other school that seemed to be genuinely interested in Leach was Kansas. He has been close to their AD for a long time. But Washington State made a lot of sense to him because it's in a stable conference (Pac-12) which now is reaping the benefits of a robust TV deal; he's at a program where they've had a lot of success not that long ago (having been to a few Rose Bowls in the past 15 years); have a rich history of prolific offenses and he inherits a nice group of young players. However, the biggest thing that Wazzu's program had going for it was the AD Bill Moos, who is a straight shooter (when asked about the search committee on Tuesday, Moos said 'you're looking at the Search Committee") -- stuff like that is huge to Leach. The politics and number of people involved makes the job that much more appealing. And they were stepping up making a big financial commitment to him and to his staff.
From @spry23 NCAA basketball tourney makes $ why can't college football find a way wouldn't it make more sense
Because when it comes to college football, it is really about power and control more than money, and the power brokers of the sport aren't ready to relinquish that.
From @Jus10Sarabia Who seems to be a logical replacement for Houston if Kevin Sumlin leaves? Co-offensive coordinator Jason Phillips?
I could see UH keeping things in house to try and minimize the transition. Tony Levine, who is the special teams coordinator and assistant head coach, may get a long look. As I wrote a few weeks back, Levine's a guy who has worked under some excellent coaches in college and the NFL. Phillips, given his ties to the program as a player, will get consideration too. Keep in mind, the guy who really runs the offense is Kliff Kingsbury, who in a few years figures to be ready to run his own program. My hunch is Kingsbury goes with Sumlin wherever he goes. UH also may consider Clemson OC Chad Morris as well given the former Texas HS coach's background.
From @melchrestmanjr after spending time with Coach Orgeron, what makes the Ole Miss job so tough?
The biggest hurdle has been the politics of the place and the leadership around you. The outgoing AD Pete Boone was a big headache/stumbling block. He treated football more like a C-USA program than an SEC program. The other big challenge is you have to bust your butt to find promising recruits and get on them before everyone else does because in all likelihood if that same kid gets offered by LSU, Alabama or Florida, you'll miss out or if you're not hustling, you'll never get in the front door. Orgeron was very good at connecting with recruits early in the process. Some times it was rewarded (Dexter McCluster for example); sometimes it still wasn't good enough (Drake Nevis). Houston Nutt, from what I've been told by people who were around the Ole Miss program, never really went as hard, treating it more like Arkansas than Ole Miss, and you can't get away with that in Oxford.
Ole Miss' facilities are pretty good, but by SEC standards, they're still below average, especially when you compare stadiums.
They do have a solid recruiting pool around them, especially in terms of JUCO talent and there is the flexibility to get some of those good, borderline academics recruits admitted. But many others still can't get into major four-year colleges. There's also a delicate racial history that in some cases, makes it very tough to recruit players to Ole Miss. I know from talking to assistants who have coached at Ole Miss they've run into several situations where the kid's parents or some grandparent or relative won't allow them to go to Ole Miss because of the perception they have of it, which is something the football staff has to work hard to combat.
From@Drofdarb23 What kind of an impact does the coaching rumor mill have on recruiting?
It certainly doesn't help, but unless you're talking about later in the process, like in late January, the coaching staff should be able to overcome it.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:54 pm
The question was aimed at the notion that Houston's prolific Case Keenum's staggering stats should not vault him over other top players in Heisman consideration. I have Keenum fourth, but things have bunched up considerably in the top six in the past two weeks with Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck both not producing grand performances on their big stages of the season. Meanwhile, the Cougars QB keeps producing jaw-dropping statlines, as does fast-rising Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden.
So I decided to do a little number-crunching in hopes of better sorting things out by seeing who is playing the weakest competition and who isn't. As expected, the Cougars' slate is quite tasty. They're averaging a nation's-best 55 ppg, but what is holding Keenum's Heisman candidacy back some is this: UH has played 10 games. The toughest defense they've faced was La. Tech, which is ranked 57th in scoring D. Seven of the 10 defenses were ranked 90th or worse. Yikes.
However, when you look at the other elite QBs it doesn't get much better. Boise State's Kellen Moore, whose Heisman hopes took a hit when BSU lost at home last weekend to TCU, has faced one defense in the top 40. That would be Georgia, which is 12th in the country. Six of the nine defenses Moore has faced are 70th or worse. Again, that sounds bad, but just how bad is it really?
Going up to the bigger school QBs, it actually doesn't get that much better. In fact, Weeden's competition, at least defensively, appears softer than what Moore has dealt with. Oklahoma State has only faced one defense in the top 40 (No. 28 Texas). Seven of the 10 defenses Weeden has faced are 70th or worse. Of course, you could argue, as I'm sure fans of from the bigger programs would, that since the teams in the Big 12 are facing better talent on a regular basis, their numbers would and do suffer since it's relative.
Andrew Luck also has only been up against one top-40 defense, and that just came last Saturday when his team got beat by Oregon (No. 33 in scoring defense). Eight of Stanford's 10 opponents are 83rd or worse statistically.
Despite the fact that he plays in the same conference, and has been lost a little in the shadow of Luck and NCAA sanctions, USC's Matt Barkley, whose numbers rival the Cardinal star, actually stacks up pretty well statswise: he's played four top-40 defenses (No. 17 Utah; No. 39 Cal; No. 27 Notre Dame and No. 25 Stanford). Barkley, though, has also had the luxury of facing four defenses ranked 102nd or worse.
Similarly, another QB of a two-loss team who seems to have drifted off the radar some is Wisconsin's Russell Wilson. Two recent losses by his team are the reason for that. Still, Wilson is on pace to shatter the NCAA record for passing efficiency at 201.6. (The record is by Hawaii's Colt Brennan at 186.0.) Wilson has faced three top 40 defenses, including two in the top 20. He's faced four defenses ranked 100th or worse, although let's say it's really five since he also beat South Dakota, a 6-4 FCS team.
Overall, I'm not sure any of this should torpedo Keenum's chances. As I said the other day, I think he at the very least deserves to be in New York for the Heisman ceremony. He and Moore have always seemed like default candidates: great college players, who will put up the big numbers but get pushed aside when the more high-profile players get their chances on the bigger stages. Usually, those big stars shine and make the decision easier for Heisman voters but in the past two weeks that hasn't happened.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 12:31 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter @BFeldmanCBS.
Which would get a better TV rating...Boise State in BCS title game vs Bama/LSU or Stanford vs. Bama/LSU?
Both would be huge ratings hits because there'd be a David vs. Goliath quality yet would still have the credibility factor and lots more intrigue than your typical huge underdog or "little guy" program. People have seen Boise knock off brand name "powerhouse" programs in recent years. Even those who don't buy that the Broncos play a tough enough schedule to merit being in the BCS title game (and there are many), they still have some fear that, in a one-game setting, Chris Petersen is such a good coach and Moore is so effective that they might pull some big upset.
I'd be very intrigued to see either of these match-ups because you have elite college QBs trying to solve dominant defenses with better athletes. My hunch is the best TV rating would come with Stanford against the unbeaten SEC champ because there is so much buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as the best pro QB prospect in years that NFL fans who might not care about college at all will be curious.
As curious as I'd be to see Luck try and attack the SEC talent, watching Boise finally get a chance to play for everything would be fascinating. For years now this same debate keeps bubbling to the surface, to have an actual answer and see what would happen would be a lot of fun. Then again, I guess you could accomplish something similar if Boise ended up facing the loser of LSU-Bama, but even if the Broncos won that game, you'd still hear people lament that they didn't beat the SEC's best.
45-2, losses by total 4 points. Does Kellen Moore's legacy serve any purpose in Heisman or BCS consideration?
It may help get him to New York for the award ceremony because people are so familiar with him, but he is still fighting such an uphill battle because voters don't take Boise's schedule very seriously. They expect him to put up gaudy stats because he's playing, at best, two top 50 teams, much less top 20 caliber teams. The second-best team he'll face this season, is TCU, and to a large extent the Horned Frogs got exposed this season in Week 1 when they gave up 50 to a Baylor team that hasn't proven to be one worthy of a national ranking either. Then TCU lost to SMU a few weeks later. That hinders Moore--and Boise's--cause.
I don't think Moore can ever "win" the Heisman in a manner than Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson can if they have great performances because they'd come against teams people pay attention to. But if they really struggle or get injured, he and Case Keenum would become much more viable candidates. Still, I just don't see another QB overtaking Luck.
Will BC LB Luke Kuechly get overlooked for awards b/c he's on a sub-par team?
I don't think so but playing on such a bad team certainly won't help his cause. Kuechly, who has been a tackling machine from the moment he arrived at BC, is a pretty well-known talent and it's not like there are so many other high-profile linebackers thriving on top 10 teams. Yeah, you do have a Courtney Upshaw at Alabama piling up TFL numbers, same for Stanford's Chase Thomas but there will be a lot of support for Kuechly. The guy leads the nation in tackles and it's become almost routine to see him up around 20 tackles for a game. That is special.
The people who vote on the non-Heisman individual college awards is a much smaller group and is usually compromised of folks with more connections to covering the sport on a daily basis. Not all the other awards are set up like that, but many are. The upshot: great performances and eye-catching individual numbers usually don't get lost.
Could you see UW's Keith Price becoming a Heisman contender by his Sr Year in 2 years, behind a likely improved Husky squad?
Yeah, Price is definitely someone to keep an eye on especially as Steve Sarkisian keeps upgrading the talent around the program. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a contender in 2012.
He has started to show some signs that he may be losing some focus or wearing down. He wasn't sharp at Stanford two weeks again and really struggled against Arizona last week (three INTs). Price can give his cause a real boost heading into next season if he can get back to playing how he did in the first half of the season.
Is Matt Barkley not on the (Heisman) list becuz of the sanctions? His #'s say he should be. What's the deal- in your opinion?
He's been very good, but also has been shaky at times. He wasn't good in their loss at ASU and he wasn't that sharp in their Thursday night win at Cal. Obviously, the sanctions don't help, but it's more than that. There is still a gap between him and Andrew Luck, who is generating most of the buzz on the West Coast. USC has had a decent year and much of that vibe comes from the way they handled Notre Dame in South Bend. Barkley would've had to outplay Luck significantly and lead USC to a win over Stanford to even get strong consideration to get to NYC this year. I do think if Barkley stays for his senior year, he'd be a frontrunner for the Heisman given the fact that USC is allowed back in the bowl race in 2012 and he'll have an even better group of receivers considering that Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will only be one year more mature and that much more polished.
Any chance MD fires Edsall and the AD after the season? That would be fantastic!
No, I think there's essentially no shot of that happening. While this has been a nightmarish first season for Edsall at Maryland, you can't fire a guy after one year unless there is some off-field scandal attached. I could see Edsall making some big changes on his staff, but beyond that, he deserves more time to figure things out.
Obviously, no one expected the Terps to be this awful. The only FBS team they've beaten all season was a Miami one that was a shell of itself because it got decimated by NCAA player suspensions. The Terps have been crushed by Temple at home and lost by double-digits to BC, who hadn't beaten anyone at the FBS level before. It's been all bad. Expecting more than a 3-9 finish from a team that figured to win at least six or seven, at worst, seems bizarre. Now, if he follows up a 3-9 with another dismal year, then things could get sticky but this team will have a lot of experience coming back for 2012 and seemingly should be better for it.
Is there any D-Line unit playing better than FSU's in the past month?
I'll say that Penn State's is. This is a defense that actually did a solid job containing Trent Richardson earlier this season, where he had to work very hard just to get 100 yards. Devon Still is having an All-American season inside and PSU actually has a couple of guys playing at a very high level up front now. The guy next to Still, Jordan Hill may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. Hill is second on the team in tackles with 51 and also has eight TFLs. Just ask Northwestern about how well Hill is playing. Last week, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that got intercepted and returned for 63 yards to set up a TD. Not bad for just a "two-star" recruit.