Daily Archives: July 23, 2009

A red and black wildcat?

Believe it or not, Mark Richt had a few intruiging things to say at SEC Media Days today.  You can check out the transcript of his remarks here, if you don’t believe me.

Or just read this little tidbit to get an idea of something he may have hidden up his sleeve for this season:

… If Logan Gray is our number two guy, we may choose to redshirt both of those true freshmen. If Logan Gray is not the number two quarterback, we may still have a package for him separate from our overall package just because he is athletic enough to do those kind of things that people do in the wildcat, whatever you want to call it.

So you got a wildcat who can actually throw and understand the entire system. That’s not a bad thing. We’ll just see how these guys develop.

So the man is thinking about deploying Logan Gray in the wildcat (I guess we’d call it the Wild Dawg).  That would be interesting, no?

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Filed under Georgia Football

OK, but will they rent the DVD?

I return, admittedly with some fear and trepidation over offending the Tahd Nation, to a subject that continues to puzzle me – Nick Saban’s need to explain his appearance in the film version of Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side.

In response to a few questions at SEC Media Days, Saban again spoke of his personal hope that the ‘Bama fan base would be able to grasp the concept of history.

“I’m hopeful that all of our fans will understand that the movie was a historical event,” Saban said. “And when it happened and occurred, that was a time in history when it occurred.”

I still can’t figure out why that’s a worry, but what the heck.

Here’s the really strange quote from the man:

“Our team has already voted not to go see the movie. They don’t want to endorse something like that I was involved with.”

A vote.  The team had a vote.  The team had a vote not to endorse what exactly, the movie or LSU?

I’m curious to see what happens when the film gets released in Alabama.  Protests?  Riots in the streets?  Book burnings?  Mass hysteria?

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules

The Ginger Assassin in the spotlight

As Tony Barnhart points out, in a weird way this is one of the biggest days so far in Joe Cox’ college career.

By comparison, Georgia and Mark Richt will be the low key entry into this session. New quarterback Joe Cox will get the largest media exposure of his career. I’ll be anxious to see what is written about the senior from Charlotte.

Well, judging from Wally Hall’s latest column, the media may not be all that impressed.

I’m just hoping Joe can handle that first question about which coach he thinks didn’t vote for the GPOOE™ as first team preseason all-SEC.  Talk about pressure…

********************************************************************

UPDATE: Somebody came away impressed with Cox.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Is the MWC going BSU fishing?

Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson thinks it’ll take five years to get the kind of postseason his conference wants.

If that postseason involves a full blown playoff, Mike Slive suggests that Thompson’s time frame is woefully short of reality.  As in “never”.

“I really don’t see it,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said of a playoff in an interview with ESPN on Wednesday. “You know, based on the current makeup of presidents and chancellors and commissioners, I don’t see a full-blown playoff in the offing.”

Slive was part of a plus-one postseason proposal that didn’t gain momentum. When asked about the wait for a playoff system, Slive said: “Well, for as long as I’m here. There is a lot of discussion with the Congress and the President. The difficulty with the discussion is when you drill down and it’s very difficult to even see how it would work. There are issues in any kind of postseason format. It’s really a complex matter.”

Slive said it’s important to distinguish between his support of a plus-one as opposed to a playoff with more than four teams.

“A lot of people mistake my interest in the plus one for a playoff,” Slive said. “Because I’m not a playoff advocate. I thought the plus one was something that could be contained. And would work. And was in the best interest of our league. But it just didn’t go anywhere.”

As I keep saying, it’s not realistic for these guys to expect charity from the Big 6.  If the mid-majors want a permanent seat at the BCS table, they’re going to have to create the conditions on the ground that make the powers-that-be want to hold out the chair for them.

Which makes this post from ESPN.com’s Graham Watson (h/t Doc Saturday) intriguing to contemplate.

The Mountain West has been talking about expanding, conference commissioner Craig Thompson said, but it’s just been general conversation.

Thompson said Wednesday in his address to the media for Mountain West media days that the conversation of expansion comes up in nearly every meeting with directors, but that no specifics have been discussed.

I think it’s interesting — though not shocking — that the Mountain West Conference is looking at expansion. The conference is looking for a way to strengthen its BCS résumé and adding the right team would be a good move. Although Thompson was speaking in generalities, I think it’s fair to assume that Boise State would be at the top of the list should the conference expand. I mean, how many teams could really strengthen the conference’s BCS résumé?

Now the question is whether that’s something Watson came up with on her own – pure speculation, in other words – or whether it’s something that’s been prompted by actual chatter in the right circles.

Assuming for the sake of argument it’s the latter, it’s easy to see how such a move would benefit the MWC and Boise State.  It raises the competitive profile of both significantly.  It makes scheduling easier and cheaper, Thompson’s concerns notwithstanding.  (Some of what he worries about borders on the farcical.  Take a look at some of the schools that show up on the 2009 schedules of MWC members:  San Jose State, Sacramento State, Weber State (twice!), Texas State, Southern Utah and Nicholls State.  I think it’s safe to assume that none of those schools are going to be missed in a move to a nine-game conference schedule.)

The catch is that it’s not as much of a slam dunk on the economics side.  BSU’s average attendance last year was 32,275, which ranked 70th nationally.  Only three MWC schools drew more, so it wouldn’t hurt the overall numbers for the conference, but it wouldn’t exactly pull it into Big East territory, either.  Nor is it likely that the TV numbers for the MWC would be strengthened immediately as a result.

So it would remain something of a tough call.  The MWC could pursuasively argue that its competitive strength justifies a permanent BCS slot; the bowls would squirm over who might get stuck hosting a TCU-Cincinnati match up.

But if the MWC were to do this and claw its way into the BCS as a result, there’s one more thing to consider, and that’s what happens to the rest of the mid-majors in the wake of such a thing.  The Mountain West has already shown in its postseason proposal that it’s not interested in sharing with the other children, so the current distribution formula would be scrapped.  Would a newly-configured Big 7 be likely to guarantee a share of the loot and leave a potential BCS slot open to what’s left of the mid-majors?  And if it doesn’t, would that cause schools like Tulane to revisit their antitrust claims that resulted in the BCS opening up to the mid-majors in the first place?

I suspect the answers to those questions would be “no” and “yes”, respectively.  Which would no doubt lead to another interesting round of political debate, among other things.  Beyond that, it’s hard to say what would happen.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Just how far can the spread spread?

ESPN’s Tom Luginbill looks at the spread offense and likes what he sees for college recruiting, on the one hand…

It is becoming easier and easier to find spread offense quarterbacks, because teams are putting their best players at QB and running the spread. Prospects who once would have been placed at wide receiver, cornerback or running back in high school now are being put in the shotgun or Wildcat formation and given the reins to make things happen. If that prospect develops any skills in the passing game, he is going to get a long look from college recruiters. After all, it seems like everyone is running the spread these days, and everyone is looking for the next great QB to run it.

… but is not so thrilled with the impact it’s having on basic quarterbacking mechanics, on the other.

As far back as I can remember, the foundation for quality quarterback play has been fundamental footwork and ballhandling in the three, five and seven-step passing games and the play-action scheme. It all started with these skills in terms of dropping from center, reading progressions and developing timing and anticipation.

I’m not so sure that is necessarily the case any longer. The spread offense, particularly the shotgun, has changed everything, from a fundamental standpoint, to such a degree that it is hurting the development of QBs at every level, from high school to college, and even at the professional level.

Over the last five years, I have likely written evaluations on over 700 high school quarterbacks from tape and in-person study and as each year has gone by, fewer and fewer kids are capable of dropping from center and being efficient with their footwork because they are not required to work from under center at their respective high school.

Is that such a big deal, if these kids are simply going from one spread scheme to another?  Well, it is for those want to go play on the next level, Luginbill says.

… The thing is, if a player has hopes of eventually playing in the NFL, it is not going to be beneficial for the prospect to be 21 years old and having to learn footwork and progression reads from under center that he should have started developing at 14. The shotgun is the easy part. Working from under center is the hard part, and should always be the foundation by which QB prospects learn and blossom.

Now, this is not a call for the shotgun to be abolished. In fact, I would have begged to be in the shotgun on every play when I played, but since not all programs run the spread offense, particularly teams in the NFL, prospects need to drill footwork from center. What if there’s a college coaching change and the spread is scrapped? A player with sound fundamentals can play in just about any system.

Sounds pretty logical to me.  But then again, I’m not HeismanPundit, who thinks the solution to the problem lies elsewhere.

On the other hand, coaches need to learn to fit their system to the talents of the players they have.  Earth to the NFL:  If 90 percent of college quarterbacks are running variations of the spread, it’s time you get off your high horse and follow suit.  Some teams, like Miami, seem to get this.

That almost sounds like the Dolphins are a candidate for HP’s infamous “Gang of Six” club, but let’s not go there right now.  Instead, let’s see if we can unpack that quote a bit.

First off, Miami ran its version of the Wildcat last year with some success, particularly early on.  But the Dolphins ran it with Ronnie Brown, who’s not a quarterback, taking the direct snap.  What they propose to do this season is run it with the additional passing threat posed by Pat White.  Of course, we have no clue if it’ll work, since it hasn’t seen the field of play yet, but even the Dolphins aren’t proposing to run their Wildcat as the base offense.

Now I’m certainly no fan of the NFL, but it’s unrealistic not to acknowledge that in many ways it’s a different world there from that of college football.  And there are a number of those differences that suggest that it would be difficult to implement HP’s solution on a widespread scale there.

  1. Economics. Look at what the top quarterbacks get paid.  Hell, look at what most starting quarterbacks get paid.  Is it realistic to subject the most highly paid group of players to the increased risk of injury that the spread would entail, particularly in a salary-capped environment?  Bill Walsh thought he could only play Joe Montana in a version of the single wing if he had another Joe Montana behind him.  That’s simply not financially practical in this day and age.  Note that Pat White was a sixth second round draft pick – if you’re gonna use these guys as cannon fodder, you’re going to have to pay them accordingly.
  2. Parity. The 0-16 Detroit Lions notwithstanding, there is not the difference in the level of talent in the NFL that exists in college football.  That’s just a matter of simple math – a quarter of the teams with rosters that are almost 40% smaller means that there’s a much greater concentration of talent playing on Sundays.  The Tim Tebow who plays an SEC schedule doesn’t have to worry about getting his brains beaten out against Charleston Southern.  The NFL Tebow won’t have it so easy.
  3. Practice. There are limits as to how much time a college team can spend preparing for a game each week.  “The hardest thing for your kids is to adjust every week,” Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said.  In the pros, it’s your job to prepare.  Yeah, Miami ripped New England up with the Wildcat in their first meeting.  How did the rematch go?

Besides, I think HP overstates his case with that “90 percent” comment.  Pro-style offenses aren’t quite the dinosaurs on the college level that he makes them out to be.  But I’ll admit that there’s something of a self-fulfilling prophecy to his argument if the high schools continue to neglect fundamentals.  Just ask Bobby Petrino.

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino thinks some changes need to be made in the way high school coaches are preparing quarterbacks for the next level. With more programs employing spread offenses, Petrino said many young quarterbacks aren’t getting the necessary experience playing under center, and it’s making the job of recruiting pocket passers a tough one for college coaches.

Petrino pointed to one of his own quarterbacks, Tyler Wilson, as a prime example of the problems of playing too much out of the shotgun. Wilson took every snap of his high school career in a no-huddle shotgun formation, and he has struggled since arriving at Arkansas with things as simple as the quarterback-center exchange or handoff placement on running plays.

Petrino’s proposal to solve his problem is unlikely to see the light.

… The solution, Petrino said, might be mandating how high school coaches use their quarterbacks.

“I’m really happy that high schools are throwing the ball,” Petrino said. “I just wish they would maybe put a rule in that they have to have at least 25, 40 percent from underneath center.”

But I’m not sure it should be necessary, anyway, if the NFL continues along its current path.  As long as there’s a market for drop-back passers, there should be high schools and colleges that accommodate that style of play, because there are going to be gifted QBs that want to play in it.  Plus, if those of us who see the college game as cyclical in nature when it comes to offensive and defensive strategies (and I believe HP counts himself among that bunch) are right, shouldn’t that bode well for the prospects of pro-style offenses in an era when college defenses are gearing up to stop the spread more and more?

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Filed under College Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics

This is what you get when you lose to Wyoming.

You know how it goes:  the upstart program that thinks it belongs and can play with the big boys starts doing a little strutting and then gets smacked down by its self-perceived betters.

Like this.

“Flip it over,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said. “Would Tennessee go undefeated against BYU, TCU, Utah and Air Force?”

C’mon, Mr. Thompson. We both know that the Vols would kick any of those schools’ asses in a shirt ripping contest.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Must-SEC TV

Sure, maybe those damned Yankees don’t fully comprehend what’s about to hit ‘em – yet – but they’re about to be engulfed just like the rest of us who can look forward to days like September 5, 2009, when we’ll no longer have to leave the comfy confines of SEC football on our boob tubes.

That’s right, a full day:

Here are the details: Kentucky-Miami Ohio at noon on ESPNU; Western-Kentucky-Tennessee at 12:21 on the SEC Network syndicated game; Jackson State-Mississippi State at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU; Georgia-Oklahoma State at 3:30 p.m on ABC; La.Tech-Auburn at 7 p.m. on ESPNU; Charleston Southern-Florida at 7 p.m. on FSN; Missouri State-Arkansas at 7 p.m. on pay-per-view; Western Carolina-Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. on CSS; Alabama-Virginia Tech at 8 on ABC and LSU-Washington at 10:30 on ESPN.

Make sure your cable bill is paid.

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Filed under SEC Football