So much for the Wild Elf Formation.
Seriously, Thomas proved himself to be a ferocious blocker last season. There are a few of his former teammates who could take his effort in that department to heart.
Best of luck to you, Carlton.
I don’t want to paraphrase Bruce Feldman here, so just read.
After spending a lot of time watching the NCAA hoops tournament and hearing about sleepers and favorites, I couldn’t help but think a time or two about how the 2013 BCS title race shapes up. After checking the latest 2013 BCS championship odds (viabetvega.com), this week’s Top 10 list: the most intriguing team lines at this point of the off-season based on personnel, schedule and other minutia.
1-Georgia, 14-1: There is a lot to like about the Dawgs in 2012: Aaron Murray is back for a third season as the starting QB; they are deeper at RB and almost everyone from a nasty defense returns. Another huge factor of why I’m thinking of boarding this bandwagon is the schedule: You realistically cannot get a much more manageable route as an SEC team that what Georgia has this fall: They avoid Bama, LSU and Arkansas, the league’s three most talented teams; they traded Boise State for Buffalo in the non-conference; they get Ga. Tech in Athens. And Florida and Tennessee are still sorting out rebuilding issues. The one snag is an October trip to South Carolina. Oh, and they have the SEC juice of six BCS titles in a row. I still think Bama and LSU have better shots to win it all, but at 14-1, the Dawgs would be a tempting pick.
To avoid undue giddiness, repeat after me: “offensive line”. Repeat as necesssary.
This seems to be an appropriate occasion to remember that Tim Couch spent his first season at Kentucky as an option quarterback splitting time with the immortal Billy Jack Haskins. His college career stats suggest that wasn’t the ideal use of his abilities. Fortunately for Couch and Makers Mark, fate, in the form of Hal Mumme, intervened.
Season Passing Rushing Comp Att Yards Comp% TD INT Carries Yards TD 1996 32 84 277 38.1 1 1 24 -26 0 1997 363 547 3,884 66.4 37 19 67 -134 3 1998 430 601 4,611 71.5 38 17 74 -116 1 Career Total 825 1232 8,772 67.0 76 37 165 -276 4
Here’s looking at you, Coach Curry.
Spencer Hall reiterates something I’ve written more than once here (minus the mountain dwarves, of course):
NFL and NBA can work its singular magic because the owners are in charge via the Commissioner. The central control model also applies to college basketball. The individual conferences succumbed to the NCAA’s charms long ago, ceding control of the national scale product and leaving conferences with generous checks and the sideshows of conference championships. The committee running college basketball, like many important committees, are a shadowy cabal of mountain dwarves who never do interviews. They declined interviews for this piece by claiming not to exist.
The people in charge of college football are not actually secret mountain dwarves. Correction: Mike Slive may be one. He’s tiny, mysterious, friendly, and more often than not prefers to do his interviews in subterranean offices well past the reach of the sun’s rays. He is a really, really nice mountain dwarf.
The rest of them, though, are easy enough to find. They are the Presidents of BCS Universities, and the conference commissioners who work with television networks to construct something of value. Those television networks, by virtue of having large amounts of cash, matter in this power structure, especially when they can deal with conferences and those commissioners both in the aggregate — at the BCS level, or whatever it will be come 2016 — and at the particulate level. Conferences can cash checks twice, and sometimes three or four times over in this system. They would certainly prefer to keep doing just that.
The issue of an ending is particularly problematic for college football, and here’s where the great fork between college basketball and college football arrives with serious speed. The revenue for football exceeds that of basketball, save for a few huge programs who are outliers in the pattern. It would be football writer-stupid to savage college basketball for “needing” the tournament, but the sport is so diffuse it would be pointless to argue its importance to college basketball, either…
This is why the “they have playoffs in every other sport, so why can’t college football” argument is… well, if not dumb, certainly irrelevant. Revenue generating sports don’t have postseasons to settle things on the field. They have them – they’ve always had them – to make money. So when you have one such sport which is structurally different in how it’s organized from every other, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else does.
Just keep in mind that when it comes to a D-1 football playoff, the ends most definitely don’t justify the means for people like Slive and Delany. Unless by “the ends” you mean maximizing their revenue streams.
Don’t get me wrong – anybody with more than a passing interest in college football knows that VanGorder is a significant upgrade over Ted Roof. And if there’s one thing Chizik’s done consistently well since his arrival is to make sure his program recruits.
But if you take a look at this post from Barrett Sallee at his new Bleacher Report gig, it’s pretty easy to see where things look a little dicey on the Plains. Take as an example his observation about Kiehl Frazier:
Frazier attempted only 12 passes all season, and the only meaningful snaps he saw as a passer were on the road against Arkansas when the Tigers were trailing. Not exactly the best spot to succeed in. Simply put, Gus Malzahn didn’t put Frazier in the position to succeed, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he didn’t.
That reads like something you’d expect from somebody who’s watching stats more than on-the-field performance. I don’t know if that’s actually the case with Sallee here, but I saw a lot of Frazier last year and his passing skills didn’t exactly impress, meaningful situations or otherwise.
And the Malzahn criticism is simply puzzling. Whatever knocks Malzahn may deserve as a coordinator, failing to help a quarterback succeed isn’t one of them. This is the guy who made a functional SEC quarterback out of Chris Todd, remember. And he inherited Todd from the previous coaching regime at Auburn. Frazier, however, was a kid Malzahn wanted badly in the program. Given that none of the quarterback candidates could lock down the starting position over the course of last season, it’s hard to think that Malzahn didn’t invest some serious effort in making sure that Frazier had a fair shot.
So you’ll have to pardon me if I don’t take Sallee’s conclusion as gospel.
He threw for 8,229 yards and 107 touchdowns in three years as a starter in high school. Given Loeffler’s successful track record of developing quarterbacks, Frazier is a good bet to step up and take control of that coveted quarterback position.
Loeffler’s success came in developing quarterbacks in pro-style offenses at Michigan. His brief, though loudly trumpeted, SEC pit stop with Florida didn’t exactly find him working any magic with Tebow. And Frazier’s never played in a pro-style offense. Let’s just say the jury is out on his role this season.
I have to admit I’m a little surprised by the confidence I’ve seen from many about Loeffler’s coaching skills being good enough to elevate Auburn’s offense. He’s got some serious, gaping holes to patch, as Sallee’s piece indicates indirectly. Aside from the uncertainty at quarterback, Loeffler has to find a replacement for Michael Dyer (McCalebb is basically allergic to running between the tackles) and develop some depth at wide receiver behind Emory Blake. All that, plus install a new offensive scheme! That’s a lot to put on one man’s plate.
And, ominously, Matt Melton finds that last year’s numbers suggest Auburn may be looking at some regression this season.
… In the SEC, Auburn allowed 10 more offensive touchdowns (27) than they scored (17), yet still somehow managed to win half their league games! With Texas A&M joining the SEC West and Clemson on the non-conference schedule, the Tigers could miss the postseason altogether in 2012…
Sure, maybe it’s a statistical anomaly. Maybe it was luck. But another possibility is that Malzahn squeezed more out of that offense than he’s given credit for (what, you thought I was going to give Roof credit for that?). If you’re going to talk about track records, Malzahn’s indicates that he’s going to be a tough act to replace.
To be fair, at the end Sallee backs off a little on the immediacy of Loeffler’s expected success. But to label his post as a series of realistic expectations for Auburn this season… well, color me unconvinced.
UPDATE: Or not.
The coaches want Frazier to be the guy on the Plains, but nothing from his freshman season suggests that he can handle the responsibility.
Spring practice is here! Spring practice is here! Time to load up…
Tucked inside Marc Weiszer’s story about the offensive line situation is this little nugget:
Guard Kolton Houston will practice this spring after not playing last season for an undisclosed NCAA-issue. Georgia says his status remains unchanged, so how he fits into the mix this fall remains uncertain.
Holy Mother of Crap, Houston’s situation with the NCAA still isn’t resolved? The NCAA has wrapped up investigations into entire programs faster than it’s dealt with this one kid. What gives?