The Florida have done a lot of maturing since their season opening game against Bowling Green. Their quarterback situation still isn’t perfect, as Jeff Driskel is still being held back a bit, but the rest of their team has improved in spades. It started with their incredibly impressive comeback win against Texas A&M in College Station and continued yesterday when they took down the third ranked LSU Tigers in a defensive battle that looked a lot like LSU’s game against Alabama last season.
Both defenses were so good in this contest, particularly the defensive lines, that the key to this game ended up being communication by each team’s offensive lines. LSU and Florida did a good job of mixing up blitz packages and it seemed like any time an adjustment wasn’t made, a quarterback was on the ground. Zach Mettenberger was sacked four times while Driskel was brought down in the backfield five times. Driskel also fumbled at his own seven yardline on one of those sacks, which allowed the Tigers to pick up an extra field goal at the half to go up 6-0.
But in the second half the Gators were finally able to get some offense going. Even though a punt pinned them back at their own 15, which normally would have meant another punt was coming soon, Florida put together a nice package of plays, allowing running back Mike Gillislee as well H-back Omarius Hines to get open in space. A 15-yard facemask penalty at the end of a 14-yard run by Hines put the Gators all the way down to LSU’s 25-yardline and in prime position to score their first points of the game. They did just that a few plays later on a handoff to Gillislee. Florida loaded their line with a pair of extra blockers and pulled their lineman to the right, which opened up a hole and allowed Gillislee to walk into the endzone for a 12-yard touchdown.
Hit the jump for the rest of Mark’s piece…Columns | Tagged Florida Gators, LSU Tigers | Leave a comment
South Carolina’s dreams of being a national title contender nearly came to an end on the first night of the season. Such is the beauty of college football, a sport where every game matters and almost any team can pull of the incredible in a given week.
The ninth ranked Gamecocks’ got two separate scares last night as they took on the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville. First was the “season hanging in the balance” tension that comes with your starting quarterback heading to the lockerroom with an injury to his throwing shoulder like Connor Shaw did during the second quarter. And as South Carolina emerged from the lockerroom at halftime tied at 10 with Vandy on their field with Shaw still in the lockerroom, thus forcing a true sophomore that threw two passes last season into the game, the Gamecocks felt the “season hanging in the balance right now” kind of pressure.
Fate would be on the side of South Carolina last night, though, and Shaw would tough it out and return to the game in the third quarter, putting him in place just in time to lead South Carolina on a game-winning drive during the fourth quarter. Shaw didn’t play his best game and his throws were clearly effected by his injury, which turned out to be a bruise, but he made plays with his feet to make up for that and made a heck of a throw to Justice Cunningham that was crucial getting the Gamecocks into the endzone on their fourth quarter scoring drive.
Marcus Lattimore capped off that scoring drive with a one yard touchdown run, which was his second of the game. Lattimore had a few noticeable cobwebs at the beginning of the game, this being his first contest since he tore his ACL last year, and he fumbled on his first carry of the game. He bounced right back, however, and scored on a 29-yard run on his next carry. He finished off that scamper with a very nice cut back inside the five yard line that eluded two defenders and allowed him to score. It was a positive sign for someone coming off of an injury that negative long-term effects on a running back’s ability to swiftly change directions.
Lattimore finished with a pair of touchdowns as well as 110 yards on 23 carries, which brought South Carolina’s record in games that Lattimore rushes for at least 100 yards in to 9-0, a trend I’m sure we’ll see continue throughout the rest of the season. Shaw, who only had 67 yards through the air with an INT, rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries, executing the read option with Lattimore beautifully in the second half.
Steve Spurrier clearly wants Shaw to throw the ball this season and I think that having a balanced attack going to benefit them a lot this season, especially because of how unreliable a partner Stephen Garcia was for Lattimore when he was healthy last year. Shaw wasn’t able to get the passing attack going in this game but the arm was clearly sore (he fell on it in the second half and winced badly, so the pain wasn’t gone when he came out of the lockerroom) and Vandy had a pretty good gameplan on stopping him from getting into a rhythm, so credit them there. Assuming his shoulder bruise is not an issue from this point on, he’ll have much better showings than this throughout the year and should put together a very good campaign, maybe even a great one by SEC quarterback standards, because of his versatility as well as the versatility of his backfield partner.
The Gamecocks’ defense deserves a lot of praise for holding serve while Shaw struggled to get healthy and giving them a shot to win the game in the fourth quarter. As Freddie Coleman told me yesterday during our podcast, South Carolina has a top notch defense and it showed in this game. Their coverage was pretty good overall though their man-to-man looks on Vandy’s number one option Jordan Matthews wasn’t great – he burned them for 78 yard touchdown en route to an eight catch, 147-yard performance. That said, they completely shut down the Commodores’ run game, holding them to just three yards a carry on their 23 rush attempts. Led by true sophomore and stud NFL prospect Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina will be putting up similar numbers all season long.
Vanderbilt competed extremely well in this game. Despite being one of the lower tier programs in the SEC, the Commodores’ properly showcased just how deep the conference really is by putting up a very good fight against a talented Gamecocks’ team. Jordan Rodgers, Aaron’s younger brother, had a pretty good game. The senior just kicked off his first full season as a starter with 214 yards as well as a touchdown and an interception against one of the toughest defenses in the country. Rodgers had great chemistry with Matthews, who accounted for nearly 70% of Rodgers’ passing yards. Rodgers doesn’t have anywhere near the physical tools that his brother does but he’s got the same delivery and decent athleticism. I don’t think he’s an NFL quarterback but perhaps he’d stick somewhere as a game manager.
South Carolina is the first SEC team on the board with a win this season and it surely won’t be their last. They have a couple of games against should-be cupcake opponents before a pair of SEC tune-up games, relatively speaking, against Missouri and Kentucky. After that will come the real test for the Gamecocks: A five week stretch during which they face off against Georgia, LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas. We didn’t get much out of this game that would allow me to speculate what their chances will be during that murder’s row of conference play but if Shaw and Lattimore are both perfectly healthy for those games, I think South Carolina will make their case for a national title berth.Posted in Columns, SEC | Tagged Connow Shaw, Jadeveon Clowney, Jordan Matthews, Jordan Rodgers, Marcus Lattimore, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Steve Spurrier, Vanderbilt Commodores | Leave a comment
ESPN’s Freddie Coleman, who does it all for the company’s radio division, was kind enough to join me for an informative interview about the upcoming college football season. Among the topics discussed:
- Whether or not Alabama is overrated as they enter this season as the defending national champs.
- Whether USC is the clear favorite to win the national title and if their offense this season matches up with their powerhouses of the past.
- How Urban Meyer and Bill O’Brien will change their respective programs over the next few seasons.
- If LSU can withstand the loss of the Honey Badger.
- The Oregon Ducks and their chances of competing with USC.
- The new look Big 12 and how the conference will look with RGIII, Brandon Weeden and two schools gone.
- And much more.Podcast | Tagged Alabama Crimson Tide, Florida Gators, LSU Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oregon Ducks, Penn State Nittany Lions, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, USC Trojans | Leave a comment
Here are some news and notes for week one of the college football season.
Keep coming back for updates throughout the entire week.Posted in News and Notes | Leave a comment
|1||USC Trojans (1)||10.00||1|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide (1)||20.00||2|
|8||Florida State Seminoles||80.00||8|
|9||South Carolina Gamecocks||90.00||9|
|11||West Virginia Mountaineers||110.00||11|
|14||Michigan State Spartans||140.00||14|
|15||Virginia Tech Hokies||150.00||15|
|16||Ohio State Buckies||160.00||16|
|17||TCU Horned Frogs||170.00||17|
|18||Oklahoma State Cowboys||180.00||18|
|19||Kansas State Wildcats||190.00||19|
|21||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||210.00||21|
|22||Boise State Broncos||220.00||22|
|Others Receiving Votes: Texas Longhorns|
|Updated: August 29th, 2012|
Voted on by Mark Travis and David Mullen.Posted in Columns, Top 25 | Leave a comment
As College Football’s first kickoff nears, here are my top five Heisman candidates:
Matt Barkley (QB, USC): The fourth year starter is our number one preseason Heisman Trophy candidate to start the 2012 college football season. Barkley has weathered the NCAA sanctions against the University of Southern California and his team will begin the season as the Associated Press’ number one team while being bowl-eligible for the first time in two seasons due to those sanctions. During the 2011 season Barkley threw for 39 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions which broke not only the USC single-season record but the Pac-12 single season record. He also completed 69% of his passes for 3,528 yards and was named to the third team AP All-American team. Barkley will surely be a first round pick whether he wins the Heisman or not but he is our favorite.
Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson): Sammy Watkins is a dark horse but not because of his talent or production. Watkins was arrested for marijuana possession and possession of a controlled substance. Due to his arrest, Watkins will miss the first two games of Clemson’s season the first of which is a very important non-conference game against Auburn and the second against Ball State. Watkins, as a true freshman in 2011, was a huge reason for Clemson’s first ACC championship in twenty years. The 6-foot-1 inch, 200 pound sophomore was named first-team AP All-American for his 82 catches, 1,219 yards, and 12 touchdowns while also rushing for 231 yards on 32 attempts (7.2 yards per carry). In his third collegiate game against Auburn on September 17th, 2011, Watkins recorded his best career game with 10 catches for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. He will surely be missed for the first two games of Clemson’s season but there is no doubt that he will have another great season.
Hit the jump for the rest of David’s piece…Columns | Tagged Clemson Tigers, Denard Robinson, Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Michigan Wolverines, Monte Ball, Sammy Watkins, USC Trojans, West Virginia Mountaineers, Wisconsin Badgers | Leave a comment
On Tuesday, August 14th the Big East hired former CBS executive vice president of programming Mike Aresco to become its fourth full time commissioner. The move came after the resignation of John Marinatto was announced on May 7. Aresco is taking over the Big East in a time of instability where the conference is continually shuffling around member schools.
Aresco has been with CBS Sports since 1996 and has been responsible for all of the network’s college programming. He was the point man in negotiating the much talked about 15-year Southeastern Conference deal with CBS. The SEC deal is worth more than $3 billion assuming the league does not renegotiate. Aresco also worked on maintaining CBS’ rights for broadcasting the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament through the year 2024. Aresco will lead the Big East into negotiations for a new television contract after the league turned down a deal from ESPN that would have been worth approximately $11 million per school each year. Recently, three leagues signed long term deals with networks. The ACC signed with ESPN for a 15-year, $3.6 billion contract; the Pac-12 signed with ESPN and Fox for a 15-year, $3 billion contract; in addition to its ESPN deal (which expires in 2016), the Big 12 and Fox signed a 13-year deal in April 2011 worth approximately $1.17 billion.
Mike Aresco will attempt to stabilize a conference that will lose Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh after this season. TCU, a school that backed out of their original deal to join the Big East, will join the Big 12. Temple will rejoin the Big East for the 2012 season and beyond. In 2013 the Big East will gain Houston, SMU, University of Central Florida, and Memphis as full members. Boise State and San Diego State will also join the league in 2013 but as football only members. In 2015, Navy will also join as a football only member. The 2012 football season will consist of eight teams; Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, and USF.Posted in Big East | Tagged Big East, Mike Aresco | Leave a comment
In a shocking turn of events, LSU head coach Les Miles has said that Tyrann Mathieu (popularly known as the Honey Badger) is no longer on their football team. It’s not necessarily shocking that the Honey Badger violated team policies, which is what Miles said led to his dismissal: He tested positive for synthetic marijuana last year and was suspended for a game. What is surprising is that what Mathieu did was bad enough for Miles to dismiss one of the best safeties college football has seen in the past decade.
Mathieu, who was a Heisman trophy finalist and the best defensive player in the country last year, is a little undersized for a safety but he’s an incredible playmaker with ball skills and great hands that induced a ton of fumbles last season. He packs a big hit in his little frame was also a game changing special teams player. Miles said he expects the Honey Badger to transfer to another school, making Mathieu the biggest free agent in college football since Cam Newton.
Update (8-13-12): Mathieu is said to be “working on his maturity and character” and wants to be reinstated at LSU for the 2012 school year. He intends to sit out this season but hopes to return to the team to finish out his college career in 2013. It’s definitely an interesting route. I’m not entirely sure this means his draft stock will be higher in the 2014 Draft than it would have been in the 2013 Draft with him coming out of McNeese State (where he was rumored to be going). It has to be considered a positive sign that Mathieu is willing to take a year off from the sport, which is rarely a great idea, to fix his personal issues but then again, if he hadn’t have failed that third drug test then he probably would have continued living the way he had.
Update #2 (8-16-12): The Honey Badger’s adopted father, whose name is Tyrone Mathieu, told the media today that his son is currently at the Right Step recovery center in Houston, Texas, as he battles his addiction to synthetic marijuana. Former NBA player and self-admitted drug addict John Lucas is said to be mentoring Mathieu at the facility. It is clear now that Mathieu will not be playing college football this upcoming season but his father did not rule out the Honey Badger’s return to LSU to continue his academic career this year.
Update #3 (9-4-12): According to his adopted father, the Honey Badger will re-enroll at LSU today. He will still miss the football season but re-establishing his presence at the school and (hopefully) improving his off-the-field reputation there should help him get back onto the team for next year.Posted in SEC | Tagged Les Miles, LSU Tigers, Tyrann Mathieu | Leave a comment
Today, Penn State was given NCAA President Mark Emmert’s version of the “death penalty.” All wins vacated since 1998. A four year bowl ban. Ten scholarships taken away for each of the next four years. Five years probation. 60 million dollar fine. Players can transfer without penalty.
College football has effectively been murdered in Happy Valley.
First and foremost, let me say that what happened at Penn State was reprehensible. Jerry Sandusky was a monster who ruined the lives of dozens and dozens of children while Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Graham Spanier, and Gary Schultz did their best to keep it under the rug. All of them should be punished to the full extent of the law and Paterno should have his legacy greatly tarnished. But what happened today did not address any of that. It did nothing but punish a group of people who had no idea what had been happening behind closed doors.
I don’t feel that the NCAA had the right to punish Penn State in the first place. The reason Ohio State and USC and Miami were punished (and punished pathetically at that, partly because of those program’s money making abilities, but I digress…) was because they were given a competitive advantage on the football field. How did covering up a scandal that involved the sexual assault of young boys at all help out the Nittany Lion football team? It didn’t. This was a legal issue. Clear and simple. The government and law enforcement should be the only agency punishing the university. The NCAA has no jurisdiction in this matter and shouldn’t have the right to kill Penn State football. And neither does the Big Ten, which will hand down their punishment at 11 am.
Tell me, what player, alumni, and equipment manager had anything to do with this scandal? Not one. Mark Emmert did what has become typical in our society and found a scapegoat. No one remaining in Penn State football had anything to do with this scandal and all who were responsible will be punished to the fullest extent of the law by the proper authorities. Note those italics. The proper people, i.e. law enforcement and the government, will punish all those names noted above. But what the NCAA did overstepped everything they are supposed to be. It’s the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The only thing athletic about this entire scandal is that it included a head coach (a head coach who was essentially the dictator of the university) and defensive coordinator of a football team. That’s as far as it goes.
As much as Mark Emmert wanted to “change the culture” of big time college football, this will do nothing. He wanted to note that college football isn’t bigger than any person or crime. Is it? Is that why college football has held out for years on a playoff system that made a whole lot of sense and didn’t come to a resolution until there was another lucrative solution that still includes bowls like the Fiesta Bowl, which, well, isn’t exactly morally upstanding. College football is what signs the $1.6 million dollar check Mark Emmert cashes on a yearly basis. As much as he may enjoy a men’s golf tournament out at Rice University, I’m not buying it. He lied through his teeth at the press conference. Absolutely nothing will change in the sport and it will continue to be a cash cow that drives university athletics.
I agree with him that transparency needs to expand in college football. This all would have been solved if Paterno could have bit the bullet and banned Sandusky from campus. He could have went to the public, took the publicity hit, and moved on. But like Richard Nixon when he lied about Watergate, Paterno hurt himself by not letting the truth spill out. He was too concerned with his program and not enough concerned with the welfare of children.
I know football means nothing compared to what happened to those kids, but those who were responsible will be punished. All that happened today is that a football program (a religion for many and a revenue booster for the university) has been essentially eliminated for the next ten years. Phone calls will be flowing into the cellular devices of every player that plays for Penn State and the program will be poached unlike any other. Head coach Bill O’Brien accepted the responsibility to bring this program back to national prominence and respectability. But I question if that could ever happen in his lifetime, or even mine.Posted in Big 10, Columns | Leave a comment
After next week we could finally have a college football playoff. The eleven Bowl Championship Series Commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick have agreed on a four team college football playoff and will send their proposed plan to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee. The committee, composed of 12 members, will meet on Tuesday, June 26th to most likely approve this plan. On the Presidential Oversight Committee are the following Presidents and Chancellor: Chancellor Harvey Perlman, University of Nebraska; Reverend John Jenkins, University of Notre Dame; President Scott Cowen, Tulane University; President Bernie Machen, University of Florida; President John Welty, Fresno State; President Gary Ransdell, University of Western Kentucky; President Bill Powers, University of Texas; President James Ramsey, University of Louisville; President John G. Peters, Northern Illinois University; President Max Nikias, University of South Carolina; President Duane Nellis, University of Idaho; Chairman of the Committee and President Charles W. Steger, Virginia Tech. These twelve men will decided whether there will be a BCS playoff starting with the 2014 football season.
The four team playoff will consist of two semifinal games that will rotate between the four Bowl Championship Series bowl games; Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. The championship game site will be decided by the highest bidding city, similar to how the National Football League decides its Super Bowl sites.
Why was Jack Swarbrick included in these discussions? Even though Notre Dame is an independent football team and they have been struggling for the past few years, they still carry weight in any NCAA sport. Swarbrick was promised, according to multiple reports, that Notre Dame, despite staying independent, would still be considered for the national playoff.
One element of the proposal has the commissioners creating a selection committee, similar to the committee used by NCAA Basketball to decide which teams enter March Madness. The selection committee will most likely be made up of current athletic directors, like the basketball selection committee. The teams will be selected based off of strength of schedule and whether they won their conference championship, according to multiple reports. However, not winning or not making the conference championship will not end all teams chances because the committee’s main goal will be to have the best four teams in the country compete against each other. Currently, the BCS, which was introduced in 1998, uses a system that consists of computer rankings, polls and a complex equation to determine the best teams in the country.Posted in Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Bowl Season, College Football, Pac-12, SEC | Tagged David Mullen | Leave a comment