Thursday, August 12, 2010

College Football Preview, Part 2

If you missed Part-1 of the College Football Preview, click here. Here is Part 2.

Before I finish the Top 10 preview, I have these quick BYU sports thoughts:

Is it better to have a good defense and new faces on offense or vice-versa in a rebuilding year?

Yesterday, my buddy Eric and I were talking shop about this and also about the BYU open practices for this Friday and Saturday. Obviously it is a rebuilding year for Brigham Young, having lost the teams three best players and the school’s all-time leaders at their respective positions (QB, RB and TE). Last year, those three created an electric, high-powered offense that was so fun to watch. Eric (who will now be referred to as “E” in homage to Entourage) posed the defense/offense question, and we agreed we would rather have better defense because in any game, with adrenaline, an offense can score, even the not-so-good ones. That’s what BYU will have this year. A pretty decent D and a learning, new look offense.

Also, after mulling it over, I think we will see Riley Nielson emerge as the starter and see Jake Heaps in situational packages; much like the way we saw Nielson last year with Hall. This year, instead of bringing in a Wildcat QB to shake things up at the 20, bring in Heaps. Give O’Neil Chambers a similar type route TE Dennis Pitta would run last year. Put Nielson in the HB, or in a trips package with Heaps under center. This will require the free safety to play closer to the line and free up Chambers to go one on one. Heaps accuracy combined with Chamber’s leaping ability could very easily equal some post pattern scores. They can call this play ‘The Annexation of Puerto Rico’. Heeeyyy, wait a second…

In an Oscar-worthy performance, Paul Walker’s character from Fast and Furious solemnly tells Vin Diesel, “A lot has changed.” It certainly has. Here is a fun and probably unrealized fact about the departed Max Hall, Harvey Unga and Dennis Pitta: they were responsible for 276 out of the 455 points scored by the Cougars last season. Take in to consideration that 89 of those 455 points came from special teams (kicking) so in reality, the big three accounted for 276 of the 366 scored. Seventy-five percent. The 11th best offense in college football last year. Gone. Yowza. Anyways, that wasn’t what we were talking about. We were discussing the Cougar’s opening day match up against Washington, and premier—future #1 NFL draft pick—Jake Locker. I was telling E that I’m scared for the September 4th home opener. Not scared of the Huskies, just Locker. You see, I had an opportunity to see him when he was in high school, state playoffs.

Locker was twice the size of anyone in the Tacoma Dome; field or stands. He was four times faster than any car in the parking lot and was billion times better than the kids he was playing against. 3A Ferndale (Locker’s school) was playing their game on the field before 4A Curtis’ (my school) match up. Locker played both ways, as most do in high school, but I didn’t notice him till they took their first series on offense. All I could think about was why one of their offensive linemen taking the snap. Two plays later Locker busts one for 60 yards, making everybody miss on the way to an easy touchdown. Ferndale went 14-0 and won the 3A Title. His senior season Locker passed for 1600 yards and 25 TD’s but also ran for 1300 yards and 24 scores. Now Locker is entering year two under Steve Sarkisian or as like to call him: The Quarterback Whisperer. Just Google him, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Looking what he did in just his first year there with Jake, makes me not even want to think about what Locker is going to this season.

Clearly the game plan on defense is to limit Locker’s run game, particularly on third downs. BYU’s secondary finally has some depth, so the linebackers will need to seal the corners quickly if Locker cannot find a viable passing option. E is hoping Locker tries to go the corner early in the game, and if so, SR Coleby Clawson meets him with a good pop, just to make him think twice about it. Problem is that Locker is a bruiser too and the exact same size as Clawson, 6-3 230. Locker runs a 4.3 40—Clawson doesn’t. Gulp. Now you see why I’m scared.

On to the preview.

USA Today Ranking: 3
My Ranking: 6

Plain and simple: too many pieces are gone. Tim Tebow WAS the Florida Gators. Be skeptical all you want about Tebow at the next level, in college, he did everything for the Florida. Yes, I know, the Gator defense was crazy. Not anymore. They’re still good, perhaps great, but take away Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes from the defense + Tebow = losses. It is what it is.

USA Today Ranking: 7
My Ranking: 7

TCU has been tough for five straight years, except for 2007; I don’t know what happened there. Since then however, they’ve been straight rough, raw, and balanced—playing with chips on both their shoulders. I think the mugging the BSC pulled on Boise State and the Frogs last year affected the men in purple more than the Broncos. But what can you do? I know, channel it. I feel bad for Oregon State. The beating they’re going to take isn’t deserving, but at least at the end of the year it’ll be good loss. TCU will be ranked Top 10 for sure. Jerry Hughes’ absence will be noticeable but most of last year’s pieces remain, including QB Andy Dalton.

USA Today Ranking: 11
My Ranking: 8

I don’t see how Iowa or Nebraska rank above the Ducks. Neither of those teams crack my Top 10. Iowa was good last year, jumping out to 9-0 but before that… their last credible season was in 2004. I don’t see them beating Penn State again and they’ll probably have Northwestern-esque loss again this year. Nebraska is even worse than Iowa. Oregon, on the flip side of the pillow, is legit. Legit as their uniforms and that says something. The Pac-10 is theirs to lose. Jeremiah Masoli baby, lookout. If LeMichael James can get through this domestic violence drama and play, Ouuhhwee!

USA Today Ranking: 13
My Ranking: 9

THE CANE ARE BACK! Maybe I watched the VH1 True Hollywood story on them and I’m a little too excited. Ok, probably. BUT… Jacory Harris is for realz. Realz with a “z”. How can you not when your nickname is Afro Butterfly? This is the same guy who said he was going to hoist the Heisman while wearing a pink suit and hold a pimp cup. With a swagger like that things can only go up for you. At least his numbers will in one particular area.

You see, last year Harris rushed for a negative -219 yards. That’s right, negative. It’s not like he’s slow either. In high school he ran a 4.6 40 and from what I’ve read, but can’t confidently confirm, it’s more like 4.5 now. The passing game was there and can only get brighter by my calculation. Harris threw for over 3300 yards and 24 TDs but also had 17 INTs. I blame at least 4 of those picks on the O-line and a collapsing pocket. They’re also responsible for the negative rush yards too. Needless to say the offense line has been seriously upgraded with the arrival of 6-foot-8, 350-pound Seantrel Henderson, the number one recruit in the country. Miami was able to snag him when USC had to release him due to sanctions earlier this year. Combine him, with the depth the Hurricanes have at wide receiver, to Harris and keep an eye out for fireworks.

USA Today Ranking: 8
My Ranking: 10

Had the Sooners not blanked #12 Oklahoma State in the final game the season, I doubt they would have even made a bowl game. They get a mulligan because nobody saw Bradford getting knocked out and BYU squeaking a 1-point win. That was season changer. Plus is cost Bradford, at minimum, $10 mill less in guaranteed money… poor guy. OU also lost a handful of players to the NFL draft, with four players going in the first round, and three of those four as Top 5 picks. The good thing about having a bunch of guys going in round one like that means your school recruits top tier talent year in year out. The Sooners have basically had a season to adjust to life without Bradford, so in essence they should only feel the losses of Gerald McCoy and Trent Williams. I’ll think they’ll get by just fine.

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