Friday, September 3, 2010

Pitt & South Carolina

I made my predictions last night but I put them on the wrong blog. Here they are:

My thoughts about those predictions...Pitt sucks. I didn't watch the last quarter because it was such a disaster up to that point. Somehow Pitt managed to score two TD's to force OT. But seemingly in stride with the rest of the game, Pitt threw a pick of the first play of OT giving Utah a chance to win it with a field goal, and they did. My prediction was a push at +3. This highlights how absurd preseason rankings are. Pitt at #15. No way. They might not drop out of the top 25 this week but it could be close. Either way, they'll take an absolute pummeling by UM in week 3 and we likely won't hear a thing about Pitt the rest of the season unless their running back picks it up like most people think he will. He didn't have a chance to do much last night. Pitt's passing game was so bad that Utah had no problem stuffing the run. It's possible the Pitt O-Line is to blame.

South Carolina at S.Miss. I predicted over 46.5. The total was 54 points. The first drive of the game for SC looked pathetic. I said to myself that I couldn't believe after all this time that Spurrier couldn't get a decent offense together. The next drive (and the rest of the game really) made me eat my words. Stephen Garcia actually looked like a decent quarterback. He wasn't scared to tuck the ball and run which was a big departure from what I remember as a sack-laden season last year. Aside from Garcia, SC has three players that look really really good. Alshon Jeffrey had 106 receiving yards last night. Ace Sanders had one run on a reverse for 53 yards and another 47 yards receiving. He's a true freshman and he's wicked fast. Marcus Lattimore, another true freshman, only logged 54 rushing yards but scored 2 TDs and had 21 yards receiving. He's gonna be good, that's for sure.
South Carolina has a very unfriendly schedule. Right now 5 of their opponents are ranked in the top 25 (preseason rankings are dumb, I know). I don't know how good Georgia and Tennessee are going to be but I have to think SC will hold their own. If they do, they could end up in second place in the SEC behind Florida :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Draft a Big 12 Quarterback?

When Sage Rosenfels is the most successful NFL quarterback to come from the Big 12 Conference in the past 15 years, one may begin to wonder why teams would use a draft pick, and especially a high one, on a quarterback from the Big 12. Yet most draft "experts" have not one, but two, Big 12 quarterbacks in their top 4 at that position, with Sam Bradford projected by many to be the first quarterback taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. This is the same Sam Bradford that padded his stats against weak Big 12 defenses for the past couple of years; that is, when he doesn't have his arm in a sling.

Do any of these names sound familier? Michael Bishop. Majoy Applewhite. Chris Simms. Josh Heupel. Eric Crouch. Seneca Wallace. Jason White. Vince Young. Josh Freeman. Brad Smith. Chase Daniel. Graham Harrell. Todd Reesing. These are the guys that were the best Big 12 quarterbacks from the past 15 years. Only 4 of them are current NFL quarterbacks: Simms, Wallace, Freeman, and Young.

Simms wasn't even the best QB on his college team yet rode daddy's coattails to the NFL where he has done nothing but acquire a career 69.1 QB rating and rupture his spleen.

Wallace has been in the league for 7 years as a mostly unheard-from back-up QB, and he's not a guy that is ever going to be the starting QB going into training camp.

Freeman is one of two Big 12 QBs that are starting QBs in the NFL, yet his sub-60 QB rating doesn't exactly make one think that he'll be a starting QB for much longer.

Young will probably turn out to be the best of these four, yet we still haven't seen a consistent and impressive season out of him. And for where Young was drafted (3rd overall), he has surely been a disappointment up until this point.

The Big 12 Conference hasn't really proven itself to be the springboard for great NFL quarterbacks like the Big 10 (4 2009 starting NFL QBs), PAC 10 (4), ACC (4), and SEC (6). Tread lightly with those draft picks GMs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This Week's Games

UM has what could be a tough game against a fickle Clemson team who delivered a butt-whooping to Wake Forest last week. If UM's defense holds they'll probably survive but if not that game could be an absolute shootout.

FSU has a Thursday night game against Butch Davis. I really hope FSU can at least beat UNC.

Upsets to watch out for… Michigan State over Iowa and Auburn over LSU.

UF will win by 4 touchdowns and everyone’s faith will be restored. Alabama is gonna struggle mightily against Tennessee in a low scoring game that has Alabama escape with a home victory by less than a touchdown.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Miami - GaTech Game and Beyond

By KeithM

I attended the GT vs. UM game last night and was treated to the most dominant performance from UM since the 2007 TX A&M vs. UM game (another Thursday night game). The result of last night's game made UM's Thursday night stats 14 -2 in Thursday Night games and 10 - 0 at UM on Thursday Nights.

A few points worth addressing:

*UM stopped the run…COLD – GT racked up 472 yds last year...UM’s defense held them to 95 yds on the ground last night. DOMINANT

*The issue of how good Jacory Harris and UM’s offense is, is difficult to address. I understand the argument that UM has not proven itself recently the way the Longhorns, Trojans, Sooners or Gators have and therefore there is inherent doubt & question as to whether or not they’re the real deal. However, Miami has played 2 teams that were ranked in the top 20 of the country at the time of the game. Miami has put up some pretty gaudy stats in these 2 games. Obviously, if the defense is blowing through the O-line & getting after the QB(for any team), he is not going to look real good, but that then becomes the fault of the O-line and not the QB. A QB that sits in the pocket, unmolested for 2 games picking apart the secondary with open receivers is not necessarily a questionable QB, but rather, 1 component of an effective offense (read: good team). I say that a QB dealing with constant pressure and unable to find open receivers is a QB playing for a bad team. Sure: plays will need to be made when Jacory inevitably ends up dealing with a top ranked Defense but we may not see this until the end of the season.

*As would be expected, GT picked on Sam Shields, who has (frustratingly) been misused and underutilized his whole college career. Sam Shields is a senior who is now playing his 1st season at Corner for the Canes. He’s actually a backup who’s been thrust into the starting role due to an injury to UM’s starting corner, Demarcus Van Dyke. Sam is still learning the position and this has been evident in UM’s first 2 games. This is & was Miami’s weak link over the first 2 games but should no longer be a discussion as DVD is expected back next week at Va. Tech.

*Matt Bosher/special teams: WOW…this needs major work. Just ask FSU how important it is to hit your field goals: especially chip shots like the ones Bosher missed last night. I have no idea what happened but I’m confident that this Lou Groza award candidate will pull it together and get his shit straight.

*I actually went with a buddy of mine to a pre-season Gator Club rally in Ft. Lauderdale last season (free food & beer) and Urban Meyer said something that has stuck in my head since that night and is now applicable to UM. He said, “…we’re not a good team yet, but we’re working on it and at the end of the year, I think we can be a real good team.” As we now know, that was incredibly prophetic as the Gators went on to win their 2nd NC that year. I see UM in a very similar boat this year: last year was another tough year, but you could see some good things happening and the pieces were becoming more in place. This year, we’ve still got a very young team (approx 53 of 90 kids are freshmen or sophomores) but things are starting to click and I also feel that at the end of last year and through the summer, UM was not a very good team but these first 2 games are showing me that we are and can likely be a very good team.

*I'm not saying Miami will go undefeated as this is still a very young team, but going into the season, I thought an 8-4 season was likely: I'm now thinking 10-2 is likely while an undefeated season isn't completely unrealistic. A huge factor in this will be whether or not Sam Bradford plays on 10/3 (I think he will).

*UM vs. VT: UM has nearly scored at will so I like our chances in any game from here on out. The Defense took a big step forward last night and showed a ton of maturity from last year. The kicking game still needs significant work. Significant mention needs to be made about UM’s offensive line. This is a unit that’s only 6 deep and is starting a senior in Matt Pipho who is now starting for the first time in his career aside from filling in for injuries last year against Va. Tech. UM beat Va Tech last year 16 – 14 and Va Tech had Darren Evans at that time: they won’t have him this year. Tyrod Taylor is mistake prone. UM has 10 days to prepare for VT and should really be clicking at that time. It’s always tough to play in Blacksburg, but I expect a solid game again and a final score of 38-21.

*Offensive Coordinator, Mark Whipple: He will be gone after this year, or next year (at best). It’s beautiful watching what an experienced, sharp mind can do with talent. It goes to show how much of a waste, Patrick Nix was. Granted, Patrick Nix didn’t have the players that Whipple is working with, but my feeling (and untold others) is that he doesn’t hold a candle to Mark Whipple. Look for Whipple to be the Head Coach of a major D1 team or OC for an NFL team within 2 years.

*Unforced errors are UM's biggest opponent

*UNC toughest game after OK and possibly the only real test the rest of the year.

*Jacory for Heisman - why not? 70% completion. Right now - should be considered...we’ll see if UM’s O-Line can keep up their great performance. If so, and if Jacory continues this trend, tell why not…

*I assure you, the game wasn't as close as the final score - UM mostly ran on 2 drives inside the 10 (working on developing the run - could have scored on passing) - shoulda, coulda, woulda doesn't count

*Although I'd have liked to have seen UM hang 50 on GT, it was good to see that UM ran the ball the last 2 times inside the 10 and took a knee to finish out the game when we were deep inside GT Territory with over a minute to play.

*There is a lot of talk about UM as the media hype machine LOVES talking Canes whether it’s when they’re down or up. I’ve heard some people seriously mentioning the possibility of a shot at the NC (against UF???)… These folks have drank the entire pitcher of kool aid and are starting on the person’s next to them. Yes, the if the Canes were to go 3-1 or 4-0 and win the ACC, the BCS would love their strength of schedule and stats. However, there’s still a lot of football to play but I like the way it’s started off…

Miami and the ACC

Well KeithM nailed the score within 2 points. Pretty impressive. What wasn't impressive was Georgia Tech. I believe they are now 11-5 under Paul Johnson and based on their last two games I think that loss column is going to swell up a bit more this year. Sure they'll probably still beat the bottom half of the ACC but that'll probably put them barely over 500 and certainly WAY out of bowl contention.

Miami on the other hand... well they look good. I hate to say it because I'm certainly not a fan but I guess it makes it that much more relevant. Last week people were quick to praise Jacory Harris for his effort against FSU but you can't grab my praises after one game against a stumbling team. GaTech is no super defense and I still don't think Harris had to work that hard last night but nonetheless he has shown a very accurate arm and a pretty cool head. He should be thanking his offensive line and his receivers though because he's had all the time in the world to pass and his receivers have been WIDE open 90% of the time. Don't get me wrong, I do think he's good and I think he has the potential to be really really good; I'm just waiting to see how he reacts under pressure. If his O-Line and receivers keep playing like they have the past two games then I may not get to see him under pressure which Miami would be more than happy about.

Miami's next two games are at VTech and home against Oklahoma. Virginia Tech is the only other real competition in the ACC Coastal Division and possibly in the entire ACC (we'll see how Boston College looks against Clemson this week). So next week's matchup will likely determine the ACC Coastal winner. Even if Miami loses to VTech and Oklahoma the rest of their schedule is a cake walk and they'll end the season at 10-2.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GT vs. UM - Predictions

SteveB: It’s gonna be all about UM's defense. If they can stop GT’s offense, keep them under 21 points, I think they’ll win. Maybe pull out a 24-21 victory.

KeithM: Yup – I’m not worried about UM’s offense: we can score. But if the D allows GT to grind it out all night, then the offense might not have enough time to do their thing. They key is shutting down Dwyer and getting ahead early which will force them to throw. They can’t throw and both UM & GT know it. I really don’t see a repeat of last year if only because it was so bad last year. UM has had 10 days to prepare, so there are no excuses if they get run over. I think UM wins it going away, but you won’t really see it until the 3rd or 4th Q. 31 – 17 UM.

Stats of the week: UM is 13-2 in Thursday night games, 9-0 at home, and GT has won the last 4 games.

JakeB: This game is hard to predict. I agree that's it all about Miami's D. If they let the option run wild, they don't have a chance. They couldn't stop it last year and the defense certainly didn't look good against FSU. Also, I don't understand GaTech yet. They've blown huge leads in both of their games. It seems like a running team should only get stronger in the second half. I think GaTech has an advantage w/ the option and all they need to do is force one or two turnovers and run the shit out of ball.

SteveB: You make a good point. I didn't see their first game but I saw the game against Clemson. Technically they blew a big lead but their touchdowns were all hokie. It's not like they built up a legitimate lead and then crumbled. They got lucky a few times and then Clemson woke up and started stopping the run. If Clemson didn't have their heads in their butts to start the game they would have won that game easily. And by that token I give the edge to UM.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Non-Conference Scheduling

Whoa Nelly! Football season is a month off, give or take a day, so I am naturally getting Tiger Woods fist pump-pumped about 1) Getting to watch a whole lot of college football, and 2) Being able to completely ignore baseball, its cheaters, and its 160-whatever games a year. So, expect some more posts from me over the next fews weeks as we lead up to the start of the best regular season in all of sports.

Today's post will talk about something that people seem to bring up a lot during this time of the year: non-conference scheduling. Different posters like to point out that their team schedules difficult non-conference games, while making fun of other schools that schedule cupcakes (with much of the cupcake talk being directed at SEC schools). Other than the fact that it would be great for college football fans to see more BCS-major conference teams go up against each other, there really isn't a good reason for many schools to schedule a tough non-conference schedule. Here is why:

Your Strength of Schedule may suffer (for BCS-standing purposes), but it probably won't.
If you are in the SEC or the Big XII (thought by most to be the two best conferences from top to bottom) your strength of schedule usually isn't hurt by a weak non-conference schedule since you will end up playing 4 or 5 top-25 teams during the course of the year, and especially if you make it to your conference's championship game. Historically, the risk of scheduling tough games outside of your league has not proven to be necessary.

Previous BCS Champions have had less than stellar non-conference schedules and still claimed the ultimate prize
Four of the past six BCS championships have gone to the SEC (UF in '06 and '08; LSU in '07 and '03) and each time these teams were able to make it into the BCS Championship Game with a loss on their schedule and a mediocre non-conference schedule. LSU even had TWO losses in '07 and snuck into the NCG. So, why make it even tougher on your team than you have to?

Doesn't every team begin the year with the hopes of bringing home a National Championship? It just blows my mind that so many PAC-10 and Big-10 fans cry and moan over this issue when the bottom line is that SEC schools are just smart for working the system. Until something changes that would require teams like LSU and Florida to schedule tougher teams in order to make it to the NCG, why would they?

And just for reference, here are the non-conference schedules of the past 6 BCS winners with their most difficult non-conference(s) games in bold:

2003 - LSU
Louisiana Monroe (finished 1-11)
@ Arizona (finished 2-10)
Western Illinois (finished 9-4)
La Tech (finished 5-7)
*Look how sorry this non-conference schedule was, and yet they still got chosen over USC to play in the NCG.

2004 - Southern Cal
@ Virginia Tech (finished 10-3)
Colorado State (finished 4-7)
@ BYU (finished 5-6)
Notre Dame (finished 6-6)
*While some of these games may have looked good going into the season, their records show that even the mighty Trojans only had one legitimately tough non-conference game (They just waxed the floor with everyone they faced this year).

2005 - Texas
Louisiana Lafayette (finished 6-5)
@ Ohio State (finished 10-2)
Rice (finished 1-10)

2006 - Florida
Southern Mississippi (finished 9-5)
Central Florida (finished 4-8)
Western Carolina (finished 2-9)
@ Florida State (finished 7-6)
*A road-win against their biggest rival and a decent season by Southern Miss were barely enough to help UF's SOS in over-taking Michigan for 2nd in the final BCS standings in 2006, sending them to the NCG where they showed Ohio State how football is supposed to be played.

2007 - LSU
Virginia Tech (finished 11-3)
Middle Tennessee State (finished 5-7)
@ Tulane (finished 4-8)
La Tech (finished 5-7)
*That early season blow-out of a very good Hokies team was enough to get LSU back into the NCG even after two losses.

2008 - Florida
Hawaii (finished 7-7)
Miami FL (finished 7-6)
Citadel (finished 4-8)
@ Florida State (finished 9-4)