August 3, 2010 · 3:26 PM
Got a question for Stewart Mandel – if Houston Nutt is a “certifiably dirty” coach by this standard…
… The definition of “dirty” seems to vary based on one’s affiliation, but surely we can all agree on at least one designation: A dirty coach is willing to eschew his integrity if doing so might pay off in a couple more W’s. He’s not so much a winner as a survivalist. He’s not even necessarily a rule-breaker because he creates his own loopholes.
… exactly where does Derek Dooley rank in the firmament of “dirty” coaches today?
August 3, 2010 · 12:17 PM
This post at A Bulldog in Exile, comparing Aaron Murray’s and John Brantley’s credentials, inspired a hypothetical. Presume for a moment that Murray succumbed to the charm of going to his state school and became a Gator instead of a Dawg. It’s likely that he’d be backing Brantley up this season.
So here are my questions: were that the case, how many pundits do you think would be promoting the idea as the year progressed that Murray the backup, feasting on opponents at garbage time, would be good enough to start for “x” number of SEC teams? And how large a number would that “x” be?
I’ll hang up and listen to your answers.
August 3, 2010 · 9:40 AM
This is kind of a minor, yet fun, point to consider, but has anybody thought about how Walsh and Butler will do in the thinner air in Boulder?
Matt Melton has compiled some data on how Colorado’s kickers have performed on kickoffs over the past two seasons which indicates that may not be a small factor:
The Air Up There
One of the most difficult variables to account for when evaluating home/road splits is schedule strength. Some teams may play better at home, not because they have a great homefield advantage, but because they happened to play much weaker teams at home. Similarly a reverse split could exist because team’s road schedule was much easier. However, there is one facet of football for which the ability of the opponent has practically no effect on a team’s performance. Kickoffs. I’m not referring to returns here, which has very much to do with the blocking and return skills of the opposing team. I’m talking about the action of kicking off and trying to force the opposing team to down the ball in their own endzone. Commonly referred to as a touchback by those in the know. In the past 2 seasons, Colorado has had 2 players kickoff for them, Aric Goodman and Jameson Davis. Goodman has converted 15 touchbacks in 53 kickoffs and Davis converted 15 in 48 kickoffs. Thus, as a team, the Buffs have combined for 30 touchbacks in 101 attempts. However, when we look at how they have performed at home versus on the road, one can easily tell Goodman and Davis have been aided tremendously by the thin air in their home stadium.
I think Fabris would have driven us crazy handling the challenge, were he still around.
Maybe Walsh will get a shot at kicking a 60+ yard field goal.
August 3, 2010 · 6:59 AM
Don’t hate on me for writing this, but Mark Bradley’s post about the changes on defense is a worthy read, if only for the player quotes. An example:
… In 2010 Justin Houston was a defensive end, which means, in football argot, that he aligned himself by sticking his hand in the dirt. Now he’s an outside linebacker, and not just any old OLB — he’s the weakside backer, which was Lawrence Taylor’s position and is DeMarcus Ware’s.
Ware has had 64 1/2 sacks over five NFL seasons. Not coincidentally, he plays for the Dallas Cowboys, where Grantham was previously employed as the defensive line coach. Not surprisingly, he has become Justin Houston’s model.
“I watch DeMarcus Ware almost every night,” Houston said. “I’ve got my own personal cut-up [a DVD that isolates Ware].” Then this: “If I could be half as good … ”
There’s a chance Houston, who had 7 1/2 sacks as a down lineman in 2009, will double that number in 2010. If the 3-4 is built for anyone, it’s for big men who can come hard off the corner. Asked how often he figures to blitz this season, Houston said: “It all depends on the game plan.”
Were he designing the game plan, how often would he have himself blitz? Said Houston, laughing: “One hundred percent of the time.”
August 3, 2010 · 6:52 AM
One of the things I took a vacation from last week was Stewart Mandel’s Mailbag, so I’m a little tardy reacting to this exercise in after-the-fact backpatting:
Georgia in ’08, Ole Miss in ’09. What team this year is most likely to be the “sexy” pick that falls far short of expectations?
— Jared, Columbus, Ohio
A little context: Georgia went 10-3 in ’08, Ole Miss 9-4 in ’09, and both played in semi-major bowls (Georgia beat Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, Ole Miss beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.) However, because the Dawgs had been touted as a preseason No. 1 team and Ole Miss as high as fifth, their seasons were considered letdowns. Yet, in neither case were people all that “surprised” by their “downfall” because most considered them “overrated” to begin with.
One question: how does a team that “most people” consider to be “overrated” (love those scare quotes, Stewart) get voted preseason No. 1 in the first place?
August 3, 2010 · 6:41 AM
Arkansas Expats has a three-part interview with Phil Steele worth reading in its entirety if you’re interested in getting a handle on the Razorbacks’ prospects this season (hint: he’s pretty optimistic about their chances), but here’s the Q&A exchange that grabbed my attention:
Expats: One of the bright spots last year was that they forced a lot of turnovers. Is that something that you expect to happen again or is that kind of a random occurrence?
Steele: I’ve done studies on turnovers since actually the first year of my magazine. I started an article called “Turnovers Equals Turnaround.” Basically it shows that teams that are plus-double digit in turnover margin one year, about 75 percent of the time they have a weaker record the next year, which is a little disconcerting for me for Arkansas.
But keep in mind, if it is 75 percent, that still means there’s 25 percent of the teams out there that actually are the same or improve the next year. So there are teams that are able to avoid that particular predicament.
You look at Arkansas in 2008, for example: they were 5-7, and they were minus-nine in turnovers. That basically qualified them for the “turnovers equals turnaround.” They were one away from a double-digit [turnover margin].
Last year, they changed up to plus-15 and improved to 8-5. As mentioned, this is a team poised to be better than that. I don’t think they’re going to be plus-15 in turnovers this year. I would think the level would come down to more of a plus-3, plus-4. It’s just the way my research has shown. There’s very few teams that can put together back-to-back plus-double digit turnover seasons.
It will be interesting to see how Arkansas shapes up in that category.
If anything, Steele overstates the possibility that the Hogs repeat their plus-double digit turnover success in 2010, at least based on the conference’s track record over the past eight seasons. From 2002 through 2009, that feat was accomplished only once, by Arkansas in 2002 and 2003.
August 3, 2010 · 6:22 AM
Day 1 of fall practice is in the book. For some perspectives on what went on, you can read this, this and this, but I’m not really sure you need much more than Stacey Searels’ summary:
“We really kicked butt in walk-through this morning. We were awesome. . . .Walk throughs, we are world-beaters.” Then, sternly: “You don’t walk through a football game.”
I don’t think there’ll be a humility problem in fall camp this season.