This absolutely cracked me up! Enjoy!
As we enter Saturday and Sunday of the 2011 NFL combine we finally start to see position drills, athletic tests, and the ever “important” 40 yard dash. Savvy NFL scouts and analysts will be quick to point out that the combine tests are only a very small portion of the equation when evaluating NFL prospects but that doesn’t stop us from freaking out about a ridiculous 40 time or incredible combine showing does it?
So who are the most intriguing prospects to watch in the combine over the weekend? I’m not necessarily going with who I think will have the best performances, but I’m looking at overall aura of a player, what they have to gain and lose, and some lesser known prospects who can catapult into the early rounds with a good showing.
10. Robert Sands, Safety:
Sands is a junior safety for West Virginia who possesses rare size and athleticism for the safety position. He is 6′ 5″, 221 pounds (according to the official combine measurements) and can run. His size reminds many scouts of Taylor Mays and Sean Taylor and if he’s able to test well over the weekend he could climb draft boards very quickly. This draft lacks depth at safety that we saw in last year’s draft with Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Taylor Mays, T.J. Ward and others and NFL scouts will absolutely drool over this kid if he’s able to run anything in the 4.5 range or better.
I don’t think he can move into the 1st round, but there is a real chance that he could be considered the best safety prospect with a great showing.
9. Von Miller, LB:
The stud LB from Texas A&M measured in at 6’3″ 243 pounds in Indianapolis and his play on the field has established him as one of the premier players in the entire draft. Now, nearly regardless of what he does this weekend, he will be a top 5 pick as his production on the field speaks for itself. But from what I’ve seen in limited spots, he has the ability to be the best NFL player in the draft.
I’m curious to see just how good this kid is and I want to see how he tests out this weekend. If he can demonstrate athletic ability and speed anywhere near Patrick Willis (who many say Miller reminds them of), he will assuredly be a top 5 pick or better and he will become one of the most coveted players in the draft. With the right defensive system in the NFL, this guy could be a perennial All-Pro. I can’t wait to see him run this weekend.
8. Jimmy Smith, CB:
Smith measured in at 6’2″, 205 pounds at the combine which is enormous for a CB. He is projected as having the ability to run a sub 4.4 40 which would put him in rare company with players like Antonio Cromartie. For a CB in the NFL to have the incredible size at 6’2″ and to be able to run step for step with the fastest WRs in the NFL, it places them in high demand.
Smith isn’t just a freakish athlete, he was a standout at Colorado and with a great showing this weekend at the combine he could jump into the first round. While there is likely nothing he can do to jump Patrick Peterson or Prince Amukamara, he can position himself to be the 3rd CB selected and you never know, there’s a chance that someone like the Raiders could be so enamored with his rare size and speed that they reach for him early in the 1st round. If he runs a 4.5, he’s a JAG (just another guy), but if he can run a 4.35 as many believe he can, he becomes one of the incredible freaks and most intriguing prospects in the draft.
7. J.J. Watt, DE:
The monster DE from Wisconsin measured in at 6’5″, 290 pounds at the combine. He was an absolute beast on the field for the Badgers and while he isn’t getting the hype that the other DE’s and defenders are, he has tremendous potential in the NFL. He is eerily reminiscent of Jared Allen in terms of size and ability and while it would be foolish to say that he will be the same player that Allen is at this point, he has great potential.
If Watt is able to perform favorably to the other top DE prospects in Quinn and Bowers, he could jump into the top 10. Some already project him in the top 10 but a great weekend will move him up draft boards all across the NFL.
6. Patrick Peterson, CB:
Peterson is considered by all to be among the top 5 to 10 prospects in the draft and is projected to be at worst, a top 10 pick. There have been questions by some NFL scouts, however, that while Peterson is an elite talent, that he is best suited at safety in the NFL. Peterson is listed at 6’1″, 211 pounds according to the combine results which reminds many of Pro Bowl CB, Nnamdi Asomugha.
The issue for Peterson, though, is if NFL teams select him with intent to play safety, there is a significant difference in contracts as opposed to cornerback. Who knows how the new CBA and potential rookie wage scale will affect this, but all things being equal, Peterson wants to demonstrate that he can be an elite CB in the NFL.
To do this, he will need to perform well over the weekend and run well in the 40. Recent history shows us that the 40 doesn’t necessarily make or break the draft for CBs. Look to Joe Haden’s sub-par 40 time in the combine last year which was thought to scare off some teams. He was selected at #7 overall by the Browns and had an outstanding rookie year. Peterson will not want to leave anything to chance, however, and if he’s able to run in the low to sub 4.5 range, he will secure his position as the #1 CB selected and will likely be a top 7 pick at the very least.
5. Cam Newton, QB:
I list Newton only because of the ridiculous level of intrigue and interest and not based on his ability to help or hurt his stock. Sure, an absolutely awful showing at the combine wouldn’t be good for the QB from Auburn, but it wouldn’t be a deathblow. The biggest and most important part of Newton’s combine experience is the interview process and the way he handles the media. He has already mis-stepped significantly with some of his comments leading up to the combine. As you may have already heard, Newton displayed diarrhea of the mouth by saying that he not only wanted to be a good athlete, but he wanted to be an “entertainer and an icon”.
With that said, however, if Newton is able to run a ridiculous 40 in the 4.5 or 4.4 range, the ridiculous hype surrounding him will only grow. He has already jumped up many mock drafts into the top 5 and in some instances in the top 3 and an incredible showing over the weekend will only help to feed the hype machine. His official measurables from the combine were 6’5″, 248 pounds which puts him in rare company as far as pure physical size and athleticism.
4. Mark Ingram, RB:
Ingram had an incredible collegiate career winning a Heisman and a national championship, but he is rarely thought of as a great prospect. The fact that he’s not flashy or considered a ‘game-breaker’ causes the media to neglect him nearly completely. I doubt NFL scouts are forgetting about Mark Ingram though. While not flashy, he is an uber-talented, durable running back. Ingram is a little undersized, however at 5’9″ and 215 pounds, but he compares favorably to current players like Rashard Mendenhall.
Even without a great weekend, I believe Ingram will be just fine in the draft and have a great NFL career. But if he’s able to dispel some of the perception that he can’t run and get into at least the mid 4.5 range, I really think he will skyrocket in the coming weeks heading into the draft. If, on the other hand, he runs a 4.8 like Maurice Clarett, it will scare off at least some NFL scouts and executives.
3. A.J. Green, WR:
I’m not listing A.J. because he needs to perform well in order to solidify his status or draft position, but he is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. Some consider him the best overall player in the draft and at 6’4″, 211 pounds with the ability to get separation and attack the ball in the air, I see why. Regardless of his combine tests, Green will be a top 5 pick, but if he’s able to put together incredible times in the 40, the shuttle and in the vertical, he will solidify himself as one of the most coveted prospects in the draft. For Green, if he’s able to run anything in the 4.4 range, he will be one of the most hyped WR prospects in recent years.
He’s roughly the same size as Randy Moss, but he is said to lack the breakaway speed of Moss or Calvin Johnson. Hell, everyone lacks the breakaway speed that Moss possessed coming out of college, but if Green can demonstrate that he can flat out run by NFL defenders, he automatically becomes one of the most dangerous and coveted weapons in the draft.
2. Da’Quan Bowers, DE:
While Bowers is already projected by many to be the #1 overall pick, he has the opportunity this weekend to solidify that position. Bowers measured 6’3″ at the combine, a full inch shorter than he had been listed previously. Perhaps not that big of a deal big picture, but we all know that NFL scouts pick every single thing apart when evaluating talent. At 280 pounds, the Clemson standout has shown rare athleticism and speed for a man of his size.
If he’s able to run in the 4.6 or even 4.5 range and demonstrate great agility over the weekend, scouts will continue to swoon over the monster DE. If he doesn’t run well, however, and with questions about his drive and dedication starting to sprout up, there is a chance that he could fall. Bowers needs a great showing to maintain his position on NFL draft boards.
1. Robert Quinn, DE:
Robert Quinn entered the NCAA season as one of the most talented, ferocious, and coveted NFL prospects in all of college football. Unfortunately, he missed the entire season due to NCAA violations (yet Cam Newton was allowed to play and thrive). Because he was absent for the entire season, players like DaQuan Bowers, Von Miller, and Nick Fairley stole the spotlight and catapulted to the top of the draft.
As we approach the draft, however, Quinn is gaining more attention and scouts are remembering what makes this guy special. Quinn is projected to run in the 4.6 or better range and possess an incredible vertical leap. He should perform very well in the agility drills and if he’s able to test as well as he’s projected, he has the ability to make the biggest move in the draft.
Yes, Quinn is already projected as a top 7 pick by all accounts (and that’s the worst case). But with his size (6’4″, 265) and athleticism, coupled with his incredible production on the filed, he has the ability to jump to top of the draft. With no consensus #1, players from Bowers to Fairley, to Newton. Quinn has a rare combination of size, speed, and power and he could demonstrate incredible versatility with the right system in the NFL. While much of the hype has gone to Cam Newton, Quinn has a real shot at stealing the show over the weekend and for years to come.
As the NFL Combine approaches, there are always a few high profile players who opt not to attend or to only partially participate. For some of the elite players, they feel they can only hurt their draft stock by a bad workout so they decide to let their play and pre-draft hype speak for itself self.
Cam Newton, who held a “media only” workout recently, announced this week that he plans to fully participate in the upcoming combine which is a surprise to many. Many experts believed that the “media only” workout may have been Newton’s opportunity to showcase his talents and that he wouldn’t want to participate in the combine to avoid being potentially exposed in some of his weak areas and to avoid the pervasive interviews about the scandal surrounding Newton at Auburn.
For Newton, the workout he had for the media accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. It generated a great deal of hype and those at some prominent media outlets immediately began to gush over his workout and move him up the mock draft boards. So, with the incredible hype already surrounding him, is it a good idea for Newton to fully participate at the combine?
When asked about his decision to participate, Newton said that he wants “to be transparent” through the whole draft process. He also added:
“I don’t have nothing to hide, and I’m a competitor. I’m going to go out here and do what I’ve been working on this whole time and preparing for this moment right now.”
Cam Newton has been working with a QB coach in San Diego and has received mentoring from Hall of Famer Warren Moon. Newton is already projected to be a top 10 pick, but there are many landmines between now and the draft that could significantly hurt his draft position.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea for Newton to participate in the combine despite some of the dangers. Physically, he’s an imposing individual and I believe that once NFL scouts and executives actually see him in action up close and personal they will struggle to hold back their excitement. Newton is already a more polished passer than Vince Young or Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford helped to dispel the myth that QB’s coming from spread offenses cannot adjust to an NFL scheme.
It is troubling, however, the number of fans and analysts that immediately say that Newton will struggle to pick up an offense and may lack the football IQ due to the system in which he played. No such questions surrounded Tebow or Bradford and so they should not be tagged on Newton. Will it be a long process for Newton to learn to play under center and learn an NFL offense? Of course. But not necessarily any more so than with any other QB prospect in the last 10 years, including Bradford.
Physically, I find it nearly impossible for Newton to have a bad outing. He is just that athletic that I am willing to assume that he will perform well as far as the physical tests. My biggest concern is the interview process. If NFL executives get the feeling that Newton isn’t fully invested in the game of football or that he’s not being completely honest and forthright with them regarding the scandal, it could scare a lot of teams away.
To this point, Newton offered the following:
“That’s nothing I’m worried about. I understand that everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and I just feel like if I have an opportunity to speak with a person or let a person evaluate me as a person, not something that has been stereotyped, I think their perception about me will change, and I’m willing to take that risk.”
Even despite the massive drama surrounding Newton and Auburn this past season he performed brilliantly each and every week. He said all the right things in all the interviews and even though he refused to answer certain questions in a Mark McGuire type way, he handled the scandal relatively well. He continues to say all the right things, but only he knows the truth about the situation with his father.
I believe he will continue to say the same things and I think participating in the combine will significantly improve his already high draft stock. I think it is a great decision on his part to participate especially given that rival draft prospect Blaine Gabbert has already decided not to throw at the combine later this week.
Let’s just see how high this kid goes…
As you know, Terrelle Pryor and four other prominent Buckeye players have been suspended by the NCAA for 5 games in to begin the 2011 season. The NCAA, however, is allowing them to participate in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Arkansas Razorbacks. How can the NCAA say these players are guilty of NCAA violations to such an extent that they will miss nearly half of next season yet allow them to play in the upcoming bowl game you say?
The answer is easy, saddening, and sickening… CA$H MONEY.
The NCAA will publicly say that it would be unfair to the Buckeyes to suspend players just less than two weeks from the bowl game. But if the violations are so serious that it warrants a 5 game suspension, then that argument does not hold water in my opinion. The NCAA also said that the players weren’t completely at fault as they weren’t properly educated on what is and is not allowable. The NCAA has also stated that because the players didn’t do anything to provide a competitive advantage, that they didn’t suspend them for the bowl game.
It would certainly appear that the NCAA is allowing Terrelle Pryor and others to play in the Sugar Bowl to preserve their ratings, sponsorship dollars and overall revenue opportunities for the game. If you think for one minute that this decision was not based on money or that the decision to allow Cam Newton to continue to play was not based on money then you’re being a bit naive.
I’m not saying the decisions were based solely on money, but I find it hard to believe that it wasn’t a significant factor. Remember, this is an institution that suspended players for taking a ride in a golf cart across campus, for selling a jersey, and for attending parties. Yet it has been proven that Cam Newton’s father actively solicited upwards of $200,000 in order for a program to secure his son’s talents.
Also keep in mind that the allegations agains the Buckeyes players took place in 2009. They ruled significantly quicker than they did on the Reggie Bush situation, but nonetheless, this is a big delay. Just as they allowed Cam Newton to continue to play so they can maximize their revenues and sort out the situation, rule on violations and reclaim the awards and potentially vacate wins and championships, they’re doing the same with Pryor.
Obviously, this is a much lesser scale than Newton due to the caliber of players and the success of the programs, but the rationale is the same. The NCAA is clearly trying to maximize their revenue potential in the bowl game by allowing the suspended Buckeyes to play.
So with that being said, it’s my opinion that the Ohio State Buckeyes and Jim Tressel should suspend the players involved in the violations for the Sugar Bowl. Will it absolutely destroy their chances to win the game? Yes. Is it entirely too late to change the game plan that has been installed for weeks? Yes.
But I think they should send a message to the players and the rest of the country and as a nice bonus, stick it to the NCAA. The Buckeyes get a fixed amount from what I understand for earning a BCS Bowl Bid. The ratings and advertising revenues should not affect the amount the Big Ten and the Buckeyes get from participating in the game.
So if the NCAA is going to act so arbitrarily and hypocritically, Ohio State should suspend the players for the Bowl game to send a message and to at least act somewhat consistently. Of course, this will never happen, but it should. Their players sold awards and property that they owned and they were suspended for 5 games but Cam Newton is allowed to play out the rest of his season based on a faulty assumption that he had no idea what his father was doing.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Terrelle Pryor is an over-rated, crybaby, selfish, lazy, asshole. I think what he did is a disgusting display of selfishness and sign of disrespect for his team, his coach and his university. He has consistently shown that he’s all about himself, not the team. He lead his team to a 1 loss season and a BCS Bowl game and he’s more concerned that Cam Newton is getting more attention and awards than he is.
In fact, he went so far as to blame his coach and his team for the fact that he hasn’t performed in his 3 years at Ohio State. He has constantly screamed out for people to look at him and pay attention to him and coddle him without ever having earned it. And now he tells you just how much a Big Ten championship or team awards mean to him by selling them. Of course, he and the other players say they sold them to “help their families out” but lets be real. If they did everything to help their families out then they wouldn’t have spent thousands of dollars on tattoos. But who knows, maybe they sold other things for those tattoos or shaved points in exchange.
If I were Jim Tressel I would feel incredibly disrespected, angry, and I would want to send a message to Pryor and the other players. Pryor will likely enter the draft due to this punishment unless it gets appealed so he’s not going to have to worry about upsetting his QB. Pryor and the other players clearly don’t care about anything but themselves so it’s time Jim Tressel stop coddling them and start worrying about the program as a whole instead of a few select players and what they want.
Wow, Terrelle Pryor‘s arrogance, ignorance, and overall lack of awareness never ceases to amaze me. We know Pryor got his feelings hurt when he not only wasn’t given Heisman consideration, but he wasn’t even named to the Big 10 first or second teams. Apparently after all the hype Cam Newton has received this season and leading up to the Heisman Award Ceremony, Pryor felt it necessary to say “Hey look at me!”
Pryor was recently quoted as saying that if he played in a different system, like Auburn or Northwestern, he would “Dominate the Nation”. Other than the obvious “Look at me” moment here, he’s obviously taking a shot at Jim Tressel and the other players who are getting more recognition than he is. But what he forgets to mention, is that HE is the one who wanted to play in a pro-style system so he could develop into an NFL QB. HE is the one who has repeatedly failed to live up expectations. HE is the one who lacks any semblance of maturity or leadership.
Ohio State’s 6th straight Big 10 title and bid to the Sugar Bowl to face Arkansas is clearly the furthest thing from his mind. He only cares that has been largely ignored this season and he hasn’t been handed any hardware. I guess he doesn’t feel that he needs to earn it because if he did, he would sit tight and keep his mouth shut because he should be embarrassed with his performance and development (or lack thereof) thus far in his career.
He can say what he wants and whine that he’s not getting the hype that he “THINKS” he deserves, but the reality is clear. He’s not as good as he was advertised and I don’t care what system he plays in. Would he put up more rushing numbers in a different system and have more flashy plays? Sure. But he’s not a good passer, at all and he lacks leadership and maturity. He’s nowhere near the passer that Cam Newton is and from what I can see, he’s nowhere as good of a football player and QB.
For Pryor to complain about the system he’s playing in now only shows you the vast level of immaturity we’re dealing with. He chose Ohio State and Tressel’s pro-style offense over Michigan and Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense. Would he put up better numbers and get more attention in that system? Maybe. But for him to demean the rest of the players in the country by suggesting that he would dominate if his system and coach weren’t holding him back is ridiculous.
Unfortunately, we have another year of dealing with this immature, ignorant, and overrated punk before we get to see Braxton Miller take over.
Auburn stud QB, Cam Newton flies over the Arkansas defense
With all the various polls and rankings out there, how can football fans tell which teams are actually really really good and which teams are subject to media bias, politics, and are overrated? What teams are below the radar and not hyped by the national media but are actually very good teams that can contend for a BCS title?
The pre-season polls have been out months, and they are a complete joke. How can you objectively rank a team that hasn’t played at all? All you can really do is subjectively speculate on how the team might do in the upcoming season and these things are chocked full with bias!
The AP, Coaches, and Harris polls are all questionable at best as they are subject to the same bias and inconsistency. I heard a prominent pollster describe the logic behind some of his recent votes. It shocked me that he changed his voting week to week based on how good or bad the team looked THAT WEEK. I thought the polls were supposed to tell us who the best teams are, not who played the best that week or who beat the better opponent that week? Sure, style points are going to matter because polls are to some degree subjective and the strength of schedule over the course of the season is a key component, but WEEK TO WEEK!? You can’t tell me that last week you thought Alabama was #1 but moved Ohio State to #1 THIS WEEK because they played and beat Miami and Alabama played and beat a lesser opponent!
Now I don’t know that all pollsters or exactly how many share this type of thinking and strategy when making their votes, but I honestly hope not many. Votes, and especially #1 votes should not be made lightly and so if you believe strongly enough that Alabama, for instance, is #1 at any point in time, then you had better not remove them from that spot until they A). Lose or B.) have been consistently outplayed over the course of weeks by another team (i.e., a legitimate trend, not a better matchup in any given week). This type of thinking is ridiculous and is a complete joke to me and is just a small part, but fits along with the theme of several other issues (I’ll get into the BCS, Bowls, playoffs, in another post) damaging college football.
The first BCS rankings will come out tomorrow night and our friends at ESPN have taken the liberty of projecting the first BCS rankings. This may or may not be affected by ESPN’s obvious and inappropriate bias toward Boise St. (for anyone who watched the Boise St. vs. Oregon St. game on ABC you saw and heard what I’m talking about). And who knows what effect the constant stroking by ESPN has on the rankings in the polls (pre-season and in-season). Either way, ESPN has projected the following:
- Boise State
- Ohio State
We could probably spend days debating the appropriateness, effectiveness, and validity of the BCS system, but for now, lets ignore that. Just look at that list and ask yourself if it makes sense? If you were forced to bet a significant amount of money on this being an accurate top 5, would you feel comfortable? Does this list translate into what you’ve seen on the field? Does it make sense that Oregon is ranked #2 in the AP poll, only recently jumped up to the #2 spot, and has played a pretty weak schedule, but is #2 on the BCS? Does it make sense that Ohio State has been #2 in all polls all year long, has played a weak schedule thus far, but did play a good Miami team and beat them easily, and has played just as strong of a schedule as Oregon, yet is listed at #5? Are you telling me TCU and Boise have played tougher schedules than Oklahoma and Ohio State?
College football and sports, in general, have no shortage in loudmouth blowhards who are ready to give you their opinion (myself included). But how do you separate real analysis, facts, and legitimate opinions from all the bullshit? To start, and this is not true all the time, but in most instances, anyone on a big network (ABC/ESPN, NBC, FOX, etc.) will give you a sliver of their real opinion, but it will be outweighed severely by the network’s bias & agenda. ESPN for instance, is notorious for skewing stats/highlights to paint whatever picture serves their purpose instead of providing a true and accurate picture of what happened. The same goes for their various mouthpieces who will spew crap that I surely hope they don’t actually believe, but to advance their agenda. Like I said, this isn’t always the case, but it is A LOT of the time, so just use caution and be skeptical when deciphering this type of information and any information for that matter (mine included).
One of the most frustrating things when talking to other sports fans is when they just take a soundbite or a highlight from ESPN and repeat it and believe it blindly with no understanding of the true circumstance and no skeptical or reasonable thought or analysis. Sure, not everyone has time to watch every play of every game and I don’t either. But if you pay a little attention and look at things with the understanding that rarely will you get the raw truth and much more often you’ll get spin and agenda advancing garbage, then you’ll have a much better chance to discerning the truth and getting better information from which you can form your own decisions.
So, with all the polls, all the bias, all the politics, all the personal agenda driving spin…. who are the true top 5 teams in the country? Without bias, without BS logic in poll voting where you change your #1 votes like you change your socks, and no BCS formula bullshit? I may not be right and you may not agree with me, but I will tell you my honest opinion based on what I’ve seen and where teams stand as of today.
I’m a little conflicted on this one, because Iowa isn’t a great team. They’re not flashy, they’re not that exciting to watch, and they have a brutal schedule from here on out. But they have a very good defense, they are extremely well coached, and they are perfectly positioned to win the Big-10 and navigate the regular season undefeated. They will need to get past Ohio St. at home which will not be easy. I know, Ohio St. just got dominated by Wisconsin, but that’s Ohio State’s M.O. Lose a game in October/November that you should win, and then regroup and win the rest of the tough games to position yourself as a strong 1-loss team in the BCS argument. But there are certainly enough weaknesses on the Ohio St. team this year, that Iowa should be able to take advantage of such as special teams, coaching, run defense, and the Hawkeye defense is better than the Buckeye offense. They have to get by Wisconsin next week and Michigan St. as well before they face off against the Buckeyes and it won’t be easy. But if they can get through the Big-10 schedule., I don’t see Iowa being shut out of the big game by Boise or TCU, and I guarantee Iowa would dominate either team.
Ricky Stanzi has been VERY good and might be one of the most underrated QB’s in the Country, passing for over 1,400 yards and 13 TDs with only 2 INT and a QB rating over 180. They have a very solid running attack with Adam Robinson who ranks 2nd in the Country in rushing yards per game and pretty solid WR’s. On defense, they’re lead by stud DE Adrian Clayborn and a very good LB corps. They are certainly not the flashiest team, and you won’t see a lot of them on Sportscenter, but they are a very good and very well coached team. The next few weeks will tell us a lot about just how good they are as they meet up with Wisconsin, Michigan St. and Ohio St.
Many, myself included, thought it would be a tall order for Bob Stoops to compete for a BCS title this year after losing Sam Bradford (#1 overall), Gerald McCoy (#2 overall), and Jermaine Gresham (#21 overall) in the 2010 draft. But in a year where perennial power and rival Texas is having a down year, Oklahoma has looked to be the class of the Big 12 South. The only other real competition in the BIG 12 is Nebraska who continues to make great strides in returning the program to prominence, but as we saw with their loss against Texas, they aren’t quite back.
Landry Jones has been solid in replacement of Sam Bradford and like I said, it was awful at the time, but the Bradford injury actually helped them prepare for this year and its showing. Demarco Murray, who is just about as talented as any other back in the country, but often disappears for unknown reasons, is playing great and the Sooners look good.
Despite a complete re-load due to the draft, and they actually had the benefit of having to play without Bradford for most of last year so that transition was aided, Oklahoma is undefeated and is well positioned to make a serious run at the BCS. They will have a couple tough tests from here on out, as will all contending teams, so they will have to truly earn their spot wherever it ends up. If they’re able to keep up their strong play and get past Mizzou, Oklahoma St. and most likely Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, they will be tough to keep out of the championship game as an undefeated from a power conference. Oklahoma is a very good team, and a great program, but they’re not one of the elite OU teams from the past. They are well positioned to get through the Big 12 and if they do, they’ll be a huge factor in the BCS.
While Oregon has been a popular team for the past several weeks, mostly based on their explosive offense and blowout victories, I don’t have them quite as high. They are a very, very good team and they have a GREAT offense. But they have played weak teams, the PAC-10 is down, and they are suspect on defense. They might be the most exciting team to watch, but they are certainly not the most complete, or best team in the country. It’s largely the same argument against Denard Robinson for Heisman and you can see what happened to him when he faced above average defenses in Michigan St. and Iowa. Could you imagine what would happen to him if he faced a tough SEC defense? Or the the Blackshirts of Nebraska? Or what Ohio St. will do to him?
That is the exact reason I’m skeptical of Oregon as a team. Last year is last year, but Oregon was an incredibly talented team with what most will say was a better QB last year. Despite their gaudy numbers last year, they were absolutely DUSTED by Ohio St. in the Rose Bowl. The old saying typically holds true in that a great defense will beat a great offense. In today’s wide open game it’s nearly impossible to shut down a great offense, but a great defense will get more stops than the offense will convert into scores. LaMichael James is a stud and has a good chance at the Heisman this year, but I’m not sure this team can stand up against an SEC defense.
The Auburn Tigers would be in the top 5 solely based on their freakishly good QB and Heisman hopeful, Cam Newton. At 6’6, 240, he is physically imposing. He’s big, fast, strong, and throws a pretty good ball. Not to mention, his coaches put him in great positions and use his strengths to their full advantage. Auburn is using him much in the same way that Texas used Vince Young and Florida used Tim Tebow. Both won national championships and both SHOULD’VE won the Heisman. Newton is putting up incredible numbers and Auburn just keeps winning in the tough SEC.
The biggest question mark with this team is the defense and while they are your typical athletic SEC defense, they don’t seem to be able to get stops. But with a QB as good as Cam Newton, and with the offensive scheme that is nearly impossible to stop, they will be tough to beat and they’re a VERY good team. The only thing holding them back from a higher rating is a dominant defense that you’ll see the team above them has. They have a ridiculous road ahead of them, fighting off Arkansas today, and facing Georgia, LSU, and Alabama the rest of the way.
As we saw with Alabama, it doesn’t really matter how good of a team you have, if you have to play opponents that are this good, and this physical, three weeks in a row or 3 out of 5 weeks, you’re likely to have a hiccup and get knocked off. I think they’re a great team, and I don’t think they’ll make it through the schedule undefeated, but even if they end up with 1 loss against a ranked opponent, they should be in the BCS conversation. And with Cam Newton, they will have a chance to win every single game they play.
I know, I know… how can I have a 1-loss Alabama team ahead of several undefeated teams and ranked this high after they just got beat by South Carolina!? Remember, my ranking is based on the best team and not on politics, bias and who had the best performance THIS WEEK. Despite a loss to South Carolina, I still feel Alabama has the best overall team and faced up against any of these teams on a neutral site, I would take Alabama over anyone as of today. Obviously, it’s a long year, and teams can get better, injuries happen, and things change. But remember, they lost after beating highly ranked Arkansas on the road (who is giving Auburn all they can handle as I write this), #6 Florida, and then South Carolina in consecutive weeks. Quite honestly, most teams in the country, and on this list, won’t face that level of competition throughout the entire season, let alone in 3 consecutive weeks.
They have two of maybe the top 3 or 4 RB’s in the nation on the same team and while they were shut down by South Carolina, I’m not so sure that it didn’t have as much to do with the team trailing early as it did with their ability and the South Carolina scheme against them. There is no denying their talent and in a must-win game, I like my chances with these two at RB. The QB is still a liability, but Julio Jones erases a lot of his mistakes. The running game and Julio Jones are good enough to cover up McElroy.
The defense is what you’re used to seeing from a ‘Bama defense. They’re big, fast, strong, physical, athletic, and very well coached. The only knock on this defense is their youth and inexperience, but as the season progresses, I like Nick Saban to be able to coach them up enough by the end of the year. They’ll face enough top quality opponents (LSU & Auburn) that they will either learn quick enough and on the run, or ‘Bama will be out of the race in short order. I don’t know that they’ll be able to get through the rest of the season without another loss, but they have as good of a chance as anyone and I still think they’re a superior overall team than anyone else in the running. There are teams that are close (Auburn, LSU, Oregon, Oklahoma) and they can certainly improve and are good enough to compete with them in a one-game setting, but if forced to bet on any of these teams, I would take Nick Saban’s running game and defense every day.
Ohio State had been ranked #2 all season long until Alabama was knocked off by South Carolina, and rightfully so. The Buckeyes have one of the most athletic and talented players in the country in QB Terrelle Pryor and one of the best defenses in the country (on paper). While Pryor has been good, he has not been great and that is both a positive and a negative for the Buckeyes. The positive is, they had won and won convincingly despite their star QB not playing up to his true potential. The negative is that if he hasn’t played up to his potential against the weak part of the schedule, he may never be able to do it.
In my Heisman blog I spoke about the injury and THE VEST‘s play-calling being part of the reason that Terrelle Pryor hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. Another huge part and one of the big question marks on this team is his passing ability. There is no question that he is one of the most physically gifted players in the country and if used correctly (i.e., Tebow, Vince Young, Cam Newton), he would be literally impossible to stop. History tells us that when used in this manner, even questionable passers can be effective in the passing game and their true strengths can be used to their full advantage. I’m telling you now, if Pryor was used more in this fashion and got 15-20 snaps running the read-option and variations off of it, he literally could not be stopped.He’s just too big, too strong and too fast. Think about it, he’s bigger than VY and FASTER!
The problem for Pryor and for Buckeye fans is that THE VEST won’t go all out and use him this way. He promised Pryor that he would develop him into an NFL QB (as if he knows anything about that) and so he won’t revert too much to a read-option type offense. Sure he’ll sprinkle it in to get big first downs and to make the defense prepare for it, but he won’t use it to his full advantage. Which brings us to another positive/negative for the Buckeyes. Positive: They’ve won despite not using Pryor in the most effective and deadly way. Negative: They will never use him this way and so they’ll need to continue to win using Pryor’s weaknesses rather than his strengths. And as we saw last night against Wisconsin, they just aren’t quite good enough to win that way.
The potential is certainly there, and with an incredibly athletic defense, the Buckeyes had a great shot at successfully navigating the Big-10 and ending up undefeated at the end of November. The two big tests, one that they failed miserably in Madison against Wisconsin and the other against Iowa (who is a very good team and is my #5 team on this list). The true question is, however, if they end up as a 1-loss team (again) and there are other undefeateds and/or 1-loss teams such as Oregon, Oklahoma, Alabama, Auburn… will the Buckeyes get the nod into the BCS title game given their struggles in years’ past against big time opponents.This isn’t entirely fair as every year is different and the Buckeyes team speed has dramatically improved since getting the brakes beat off them by Florida and LSU, but it’s the perception and will be a potential hurdle for the Buckeyes.
There are a couple main contributors to the Buckeyes choke job last night in Madison. First, Tressel was, yet again, out-coached in a big game. His team came out flat, unprepared, and gave up YET ANOTHER SPECIAL TEAMS TD. The Vest was too slow to adjust to Wisconsin’s game-plan and after spotting them 21 points, it ultimately proved to be too much. The “vaunted” Ohio St. defense was overpowered and Wisconsin was the more physical team on both sides of the ball. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Ohio St. doesn’t have the athletes or the talent, but it does mean that the VEST doesn’t quite know how to coach them yet. After the embarrassing losses to Florida and LSU in the BCS title game, there was a shift in the type of athlete that was recruited, especially in the trenches. Gone was the importance placed on size and strength (traditional Big-10 values) and in place of it, was speed and athleticism. I commend the program for making this adjustment, but the problem is, they didn’t know how to use this new type of personnel against the old-school Big-10 power running game of Wisconsin. I’ll write more about it in a different post, but I truly hope that Ohio St. doesn’t revert to its old philosophy, as this new personnel is ultimately needed in order to compete nationally. Hopefully, they’ll just take a page out of Alabama and Florida’s book, and learn how to use this type of athlete to stop both power running games as well as speed and spread-type offenses.
But, bottom-line… yet again, Tressel’s team was not prepared, he was out-coached in preparing the game-plan and during the game, and yet another valuable opportunity was blown for the Buckeyes to run the table in the Big-10 and take advantage of their superior talent.
Despite their absolute choke-job against Kentucky yesterday, and this one may be a bit of a surprise, as they don’t get much hype or attention nationally, but this team is legit. Ironically, as Spurrier is known for being an offensive guru, he has one of the best defenses in the country. While the stats and rankings won’t tell the whole story, this is an incredibly tough, fast, athletic and physical defense and it was on full display against Alabama. Going into the season, and watching the dynamic backfield of Alabama this year, it honestly didn’t look like anyone would be able to slow both of the down for an entire game. South Carolina did one better as they absolutely SHUT down the defending Heisman Trophy winner and his uber-talented backup.
The South Carolina defense is no secret as it has been dynamic for years, but the true weakness to Spurrier’s teams in years’ past has been the offense and more specifically, the QB. While Stephen Garcia isn’t going to blow you away with pure talent or statistics, but he is what the Game Cocks have needed for years, a solid and consistent QB that can play under pressure. He didn’t exactly light it up against the ‘Bama defense, but he was solid, throwing for 3 TD’s and 1 INT. Add to the tough defense and solid QB a complete TRUCK at RB, freshman Marcus Lattimore. He splits carries as a freshman, but he has been very good and was a HUGE reason why they were able to knock off Alabama, scoring 2 rushing TD’s and 1 receiving TD, running for 93 yards and controlling the ball.
South Carolina has navigated the toughest part of their schedule and if you told them at the beginning of the year they would split with Alabama and Auburn (and they lost a close one to Auburn), I think Spurrier would take it and giggle. Every SEC game is a battle and this was in full display yesterday against Kentucky. Despite dominating much of the game and jumping out to a huge lead, the Game Cocks pissed away their lead and then in true SEC coaching style, The ‘Ol Ball Coach severely mis-managed the clock resulting in an embarrassing loss that should’ve never happened. It’s actually a shame as South Carolina is a very good team and would’ve otherwise been in my top 5. I know, insert your joke or smart comment. But I really think they’re a very good team (talent-wise).
How can an undefeated SEC team not be in the top 5 at this stage in the season? Well, it’s mostly the way LSU has won, as Les Miles appears to have sold his soul to the devil. Despite ridiculous errors in clock management, sloppy and undisciplined performances, LSU continues to come away with big wins.
They’re below average on offense, and somehow seem to be making their two-QB system of employing both Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee successful. Neither will blow you away with raw ability or stats, but they’re somehow getting the job done, despite a combined 8 INT and only 4 TDs between them. They also don’t really have one established running back, although Stevan Ridley gets most of the load and has done a solid job, but there are really no big-time players on the Tigers’ offense.
But they do have an incredible defense, ranking first in the SEC in several key defensive categories such as yards/game and rushing yards/game. The Tigers are ranked 6th nationally in rushing yards/game and have your typical LSU speed, athleticism, and overall talent. The defense is clearly the key to this team’s success and we’ll soon find out just how good it is. They face Cam Newton and the high powered Auburn offense next week and Alabama and Arkansas in weeks to follow. I’m skeptical that the defense is good enough to stop the likes of Cam Newton and Mark Ingram consistently enough to cover up for their less than stellar offense. As shown in Auburn’s victory yesterday, this isn’t your typical SEC and there are times where despite your great defense, you will need to put up some points.
LSU is very close to jumping into the top 5 and a victory of Auburn would surely give them a huge bump. The big concerns for me is their lack of offensive production, overall undisciplined play, questionable coaching, and countless “lucky” breaks. If the MAD HATTER can keep it up though, he has a great chance to get the Tigers back to the big game.
I’m not quite ready to add them as a serious bubble team, but they have been impressive. The knock on Michigan St. is they almost NEVER play up to their talent level. They are a perennial let down, but Coach D. has made great strides for the program. They have a very good defense and last week they shut down the prematurely awarded Heisman Trophy winner, Denard Robinson.
They are undefeated, and if they’re able to get past a very good Iowa team, we will know they are legit. After Iowa, their next toughest test is Penn St. who is less than a power this year in the Big-10. Outside of these two games, there are no other opponents who should be able to stay on the same field as the Spartans and while MSU teams of the past would almost certainly drop one of these games, we’ll find out if they’re legit.
After dismantling the much touted Ohio St. defense last night and confusing and severely containing Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor, Wisconsin looks like a very good team. They have a good enough defense, although it’s certainly not on the level of some of the better defenses in the Big-10 and they have a deadly running attack. If John Clay is healthy for the rest of the season, he showed us last night just how great he can be behind that talented offensive line. Throw in the perfect change of pace in James White who can both make you miss and put his shoulder down, and you have perhaps the best rushing attack in the Big-10.
Tolzein provides a solid leader at QB who actually throws a very good ball, and Toon is a reliable WR for him on the outside. They don’t have any game-breakers on the outside, but they have several good WR’s and they do have incredible speed with David Gilreath who killed Ohio St. in the return game.
With a loss to Michigan St. earlier in the season, and a tough game against Iowa next week, Wisconsin is unlikely to be in the hunt late in the year. If they’re able to beat Iowa, however, and run the table, Wisconsin could actually be a factor, especially if they continue to run the ball as effectively as they did last night. We’ll know a lot more next week against Iowa and if they knock off the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes in consecutive weeks, we’ll know the Badgers are for real!
Ohio State QB and Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor
Ok, I know I’m a little late on this, but hopefully its not TOO outdated to at least get a little interest and conversation going….
It seems each week of the 2010 College Football season has allowed for some great opportunities for Heisman hopefuls to either rise or fall in the eyes of fans and voters throughout the country and week 6 was no different. In each of the preceding weeks, someone has either jumped into the conversation, strengthened or maintained their position, or put up a dud of a performance and dropped out of the picture (at least for now).
Last week’s frontrunner and electrifying QB for the Michigan Wolverines, Denard Robinson ran into his first true test of the young season against the Michigan St. Spartans. If you are a regular reader or take a look at previous Heisman Watch posts, you’ll see that I have put great stock into Denard’s ability, but have been a bit skeptical due to the level of competition. Not just the weak teams Michigan has played, but the ridiculously awful defenses he has been faced up against. Against Michigan St., though, he and his team would have a legitimate opportunity to show the country and the rest of the Big 10 just how good they really were.
While I still think Denard is one of the most exciting and talented players in the country, to be fair he doesn’t have a great supporting cast around him and that is partially what makes his production so impressive as he is literally ALL they have on offense. Without Robinson, Michigan would likely have won just a game or two this season. Unfortunately for him, though, most Heisman winners are on good to great teams who are in contention for a BCS game throughout the season. This past week, he and the Wolverines ran into a buzzsaw that goes by the name of the Spartans.
The Wolverines were handled and the solid Spartan defense gave Robinson fits all night, forcing him into 3 interceptions. His talent was still on display, but as I predicted, when faced with a strong defense he wouldn’t put up the xbox numbers and he would struggle. For the day he completed just under 60% of his passes for 215 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT. He also rushed 21 times for 86 yards (WELL below his average for yards/carry on the year) and 1 TD. While this performance and loss won’t knock him completely out of the race, it is certainly a sign of things to come and gave us a preview of what to expect the rest of the way. He will be very exciting, but will be significantly slowed down against the better defenses and I’ll be surprised if he stays relevant in the Heisman conversation towards the end of the November.
We all know Mark Ingram started this season at a disadvantage to repeat as Heisman Trophy winner due to the injury that forced him to sit out for the first two games. But after bolting back onto the scene with strong performances and literally CARRYING his team to victory, on the road, against a tough Arkansas team, it has been my opinion that he was back in the discussion. While his season stats were certainly less than impressive due to losing two games, he came up huge in a big game, is the star player on the then #1 and undefeated Crimson Tide. Not to mention, playing in the SEC would give him plenty of opportunities to make his presence felt in the Heisman picture.
For the past few weeks, Alabama has played more top notch opponents than most teams in the nation play on their entire schedule. After knocking off Arkansas, they absolutely crushed the highly ranked, but highly overrated Florida Gators and looked to be unbeatable. The ‘Ol Ball Coach down in South Carolina had something to say about that though as the Game Cocks actually handled #1 Alabama for much of the game. While they were able to get back into the game and give themselves an outside shot at a comeback, it wasn’t due to Ingram. For the game he had 11 carries for 41 yards and no TDs giving him a 3.7 yard/carry average for the game which was significantly below his season average.
South Carolina has a very underrated defense and their speed, quickness, physicality, and great defensive scheming was on full display. There were enough things working against Ingram repeating as Heisman Trophy winner including the fact that only one player has ever accomplished this feat, he missed two games early in the season, and he splits carries with another dynamic RB. With all these marks against him, he would need strong performances in every big game for the rest of the year and his team would need to stay in the BCS hunt. While I think ‘Bama will get back into the title hunt, Ingram struggled for the last couple weeks and he was essentially shut down by South Carolina. This is likely the death blow to his Heisman run.
With similar obstacles to his Heisman chances as Ingram, James was largely ignored for the few weeks of the season due to an early season suspension. Once returning from his suspension he has been nothing short of amazing and just might be the best RB in the nation so far this year. He is only behind Denard Robinson for rushing yards this season with 848 yards and 9 TDs with a 7.4 yard/carry average. He is also a dangerous receiving back out of the backfield and while he has been used sparingly in this role, he had an 84 yard reception last week for a TD. There are only a handfull of players in the nation that can truly break a game wide open with one touch of the football and LaMichael James is certainly one of them.
The knock on James, for me, has been very similar to that on Denard Robinson as Oregon opened up the 2010 season with horrendous competition. And while they did what they were supposed to, blowing these teams out, no one could tell just how good they and James really were due to the poor competition. The Ducks and James answered loudly in their marquee matchup against Stanford as James ran for 257 yards and 3 TDs as they routed Stanford. Last week, James was impressive yet again against an overmatched Washington State team running for 136 yards and 2 TDs and adding the 84 yard TD reception. Oregon is one of the hottest teams in the country and are getting a lot of hype from the media. This should help James’ hopes for staying in the Heisman race.
Ohio St. fans and people all around Ohio have long believed that Pryor has been the Heisman front runner since the beginning of the season. Hell, since the Rose Bowl performance against Oregon in January. While I think he’s one of the most impressive physical specimens in college football, I have not yet seen enough out of Pryor to consider him the Heisman front runner. Maybe it’s just that he is SO physically gifted and he never seems to live up to his potential, but I have rarely come away from a game feeling fulfilled or completely impressed with TP2. Despite weak competition (excluding Miami), Pryor’s stats have been, in my opinion, average.
Pryor has a passer rating of 170, has passed for 1,349 yards and 15 TDs with only 3 INT. He is equally (if not more) dangerous with his legs running for 392 yards and 3 TDs. While for anyone else, on any other team, these would be ridiculous numbers. But Pryor isn’t just any player and he plays for the THE Ohio State Buckeyes. It may be unfair, but given the incredibly talented team he plays on and given his superior athletic gifts, I expect more out of him. If you look at him on the field, he is bigger, stronger, faster, and more talented than any other skill player on the field. He is truly a man among boys and there is NO reason that he doesn’t pass for at least 200 yards and run for 100 yards EACH AND EVERY GAME. In fairness, there are some contributing factors that have held Pryor back so far in his career and this season.
The first, and most damaging is his own head coach. No one can argue with Tressel’s success at Ohio State as he’s won countless Big 10 titles, has experienced tremendous success against the hated Wolverines and has won a National Championship. But I watch every single Ohio St. game and have done so for years. There is no question that while THE VEST is an incredible leader, recruiter, and coach, he is often small in big games and is detrimental to his team and his players with his play calling. Tressel apologists will say that this style of conservative play is the reason for his success and to some degree they are correct. But it is clearly evident that his horrific play calling has cost the Buckeyes several big games and probably at least one more National Championship. No don’t get me wrong, Sean Payton himself could not have called the right combination of plays to help Ohio St. beat Florida in that BCS debacle as the Buckeyes were just overmatched. But The Vest’s play calling has undoubtedly cost them in games where they are clearly the superior team. He has also significantly stunted the growth of his QB and on in very rare circumstances has he taken the handcuffs off him.
The other factor contributing to Pryor’s performance and numbers is his quad injury for the last couple games and even though it’s not serious, it has forced him and Tressel to be just cautious enough to hold Pryor back even more. As if THE VEST needs a reason! With all that being said, Pryor’s performance is certainly not all on The Vest. Pryor lacks some fundamental skills that will certainly hold him back at the next level, but also hurt his performance at Ohio St. where given his talent, he should dominate every game. Pryor is not a pure passer by any stretch of the imagination and the deep ball, which is supposed to be one of his strengths, is horrible. Surprisingly, his short to intermediate passes are actually not that bad, but he has been wildly inaccurate with his deep ball missing wide open WR’s or severely under-throwing them allowing DB’s to catch up.
Bottom-line… Pryor has not been good enough to win a Heisman. He hasn’t lived up to his potential at all as he’s clearly the best player on the field every week. It’s not all his fault, but enough of it is his fault for me to be disappointed and unfulfilled for the 3rd straight year of the Pryor era. He will stay in the Heisman race because of who he is and who he plays for, and he will have opportunities to pull away from the pack. I personally don’t see it happening as I think he’ll continue to play inconsistently and while he’ll be good enough to get an invite to NY, I don’t see him winning without significant improvement. That being said, he had a dominate game against Indiana passing for 330 yards and 3 TD’s. The type of game he needs to have more often to bring home the hardware.
With Auburn being of the surprise unbeatens in the SEC, Cam Newton has been strong and jumped onto the Heisman scene for the past few weeks. He has been impressive passing for 1,138 yards, 12 TDs and 5 INTs and he has rushed for 672 yards with 9 TDs. He has been incredible this year and if not for limited time in some blowouts, his numbers would be even better. Against Kentucky last week, Cam threw for 210 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT but ran for 198 yards and 4 TDs. He will have plenty of opportunities to continue to shine as he navigates through the SEC and if Auburn can stay relevant, he’ll have a great chance at an invite to NY if not more. With Ryan Mallett and Mark Ingram, who knew that the leading Heisman candidate in the SEC through week 6 would be Cam Newton!?
The Nebraska QB was on my early Heisman lists and his strong performances have landed him back onto the national scene and with Nebraska continuing to win, he has a real shot here. After struggling with South Dakota St., a team Martinez should dominate, he was back on full display against Kansas St. Martinez only threw 7 passes, completing 5 of them for 128 yards and a TD, but he ran for 241yards and 4 TDs.
Martinez has been one of the most impressive players in the country and he’s a freshman! As Nebraska is trying to regain their national prominence, Martinez will provide them with explosive offense for many years to come. He’s certainly not a polished passer to say the least, but his running skills are incredible. If he continues to succeed and Nebraska continues to win, he’ll be in the conversation to stay. There is no chance he’ll win the Heisman this year as a freshman with so many other strong contenders, but he can position himself strongly for next year if he continues to perform.