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08/20/2012 05:53 PM
College Football Preview: Mountain West

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Next up is the Mountain West, which loses 2011 conference champion TCU to the Big 12, but adds three new members from the WAC (Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada) to form a 10-team league.

Odds to Win Mountain West
1-to-3: Boise State
11-to-2: Nevada
13-to-2: Fresno State
12-to-1: Wyoming
20-to-1: Air Force
20-to-1: San Diego State
25-to-1: Colorado State
30-to-1: Hawaii
50-to-1: UNLV
75-to-1: New Mexico


BOISE STATE BRONCOS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 12-1 (6-1 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 8-5
Points Scored: 44.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 60/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 2
Boise State loses a ton of starters on both sides of the ball, but it should still be able to win the Mountain West this season. Boise has experience on its offensive line and a great running back to find holes in sixth-year RB D.J. Harper, who returns to take over for Doug Martin, who was picked in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Harper has big shoes to fill, but he’s at least a proven player (1,642 rush yds, 24 TD in career). The same cannot be said for QB Joe Southwick, who has sat behind the all-time winningest QB in NCAA history, Kellen Moore. Defensively, the Broncos are going to have a very good secondary with the return of corners Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor, who were both hampered by injuries. The unproven front seven is a question mark, and the team has a slew of new assistant coaches under Chris Petersen, including both coordinators.



NEVADA WOLF PACK

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (5-2 in WAC)
ATS Record: 5-6-2
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 31.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 25.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
The Wolf Pack are looking to build on a year in which they played in a bowl game by climbing to the top of the Mountain West. The 2011 Freshman of the Year, Cody Fajardo (2,401 pass yds, 17 TD), returns as the team’s QB and he’ll get back one of Nevada’s best WRs in Brandon Wemberly, who sat out 2011 after being shot in the torso. The offensive line is going to have to be completely retooled, while also blocking for a group of inexperience running backs. On defense, five seniors return in the Wolf Pack secondary, but new faces along the defensive line make it tough to believe that this team will have success stopping the run.



FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-9 (3-4 in WAC)
ATS Record: 5-7-1
Over/Under: 9-4
Points Scored: 28.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 35.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
The Bulldogs enter the 2012 season with one of the most promising offenses in the Mountain West. They will be returning all of their best players at skill positions including QB Derek Carr (3,544 pass yds, 26 TD, 9 INT), RB Robbie Rouse (MWC-best 1,549 rush yds; 14 total TD) and three WRs who contributed greatly to the team in 2011. The defense is going to be changing under new head coach Tim DeRuyter and new defensive coordinator Nick Toth. The timing couldn’t be better, as this team surrendered 35.2 PPG last season. They’ll be getting back their whole group of linebackers who actually performed admirably last year. Fresno will also improve an awful secondary (269 YPG allowed) with the return of S Phillip Thomas, the team’s best defensive back who didn’t play in 2011 after breaking his leg in the preseason.



WYOMING COWBOYS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (5-2 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 2-8-2
Points Scored: 26.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 27.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
After an impressive season in 2011, Wyoming is looking to build upon its success and compete for the Mountain West title. QB Brett Smith (3,332 total yds, 31 total TD) set the MWC record for total yards as a freshman last season and growth is only expected, as the sky is the limit for this dual threat quarterback. The Cowboys will also get back their top three WRs, who combined for 129 receptions and 9 TD last season. The offensive line needs to improve as last year, Smith was running for his life far too often. Defensively, the Cowboys should be better than they were last year when they struggled mightily against the run. Playmaking CB Blair Burns (4 INT) returns in 2012 with a secondary that was dominant at times last season. The front seven is the issue here, as last year’s woes of stopping the run will prevent this team from reaching its goals.



AIR FORCE FALCONS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (3-4 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 6-7
Over/Under: 9-3
Points Scored: 34.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 3
Defense: Starters Returning: 3
Air Force is a team that will be in rebuilding mode with so many of its starters departed on both sides of the ball. Fifth-year QB Connor Dietz takes over for Tim Jefferson and although he can run (678 rush yds, 5.3 YPC in career), Dietz has attempted just 22 passes in the past two seasons. There is depth at the running back position, as 11 different Falcons rushed for more than 100 yards last season for the third-best rushing offense in FBS (315 rush YPG). Defensively, this unit allowed 34+ points six times last year and doesn’t figure to improve with so much inexperience. The strength of the defense lies among the linebackers with Alex Means (77 tackles, six sacks) the leader in the middle of the field. Air Force is going to have to rely heavily on young defensive players who saw the field last year, but don’t yet know what it’s like to play an entire grueling season.



SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (4-3 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 5-7-1
Over/Under: 5-6-1
Points Scored: 29.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 25.0 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
San Diego State was fortunate this offseason when QB Ryan Katz (2,401 pass yds, 17 TD in 2010) decided to transfer from Oregon State. Katz’ arrival will make the loss of QB Ryan Lindley sting much less, but the Aztecs will still have to replace their second-best rusher in school history, RB Ronnie Hillman. Stepping into his spot is Adam Muema who ran for 119 yards and 2 TD in a game against Boise State last season. The offensive line returns a number of starters and should not be a problem for head coach Rocky Long. Defensively, this team has to make up for the loss of their best playmakers. They’re losing their top CB Larry Parker, who had 7 INT last year, and their three leaders in sacks. Fortunately this team returns six defensive starters, so their stability at other positions should allow the next group of pass rushers to come in and make plays immediately.



COLORADO STATE RAMS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 3-9 (1-6 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 4-8
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 21.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 31.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
Former Alabama OC Jim McElwain takes over the head job at CSU (replacing Steve Fairchild), and is returning most of its starters from a year ago, in which the Rams went 3-9. QB Garrett Grayson (542 pass yds, 2 TD, 6 INT) is set to be the top signal caller after starting CSU’s final three games last season. RB Chris Nwoke surprised a lot of people last year (1,130 rush yds, 9 TD) on the season gaining 232 and 269 yards in two of his final four games. Grayson’s top target this season will be TE Crockett Gillmore who came on strong last season catching 45 passes and four touchdowns. The Rams get back almost all of their defensive starters from a unit that tallied 26 sacks, but also struggled mightily against the run (234 rush YPG, 5th-worst in FBS). The extra year of experience should lead to improvement as the Rams have a decent shot at making a bowl.



HAWAII WARRIORS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (3-4 in WAC)
ATS Record: 3-9-1
Over/Under: 9-4
Points Scored: 31.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 29.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
Norm Chow is set to take over for the Warriors as head coach, after stints coaching all around the NCAA and a three-year period as the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. Hawaii will be a great throwing team yet again this year, getting back QB David Graves who had two unbelievable games, totaling 768 passing yards and 5 TD in his only starts of 2011. The offensive line on this team is a very capable group and it will allow RB Joey Iosefa (548 rush yds, 7 TD) to find gaps while Graves throws to standout WR Billy Ray Stutzmann (901 rec yds, 4 TD). Chow must retool a defense that lost all of its best playmakers and only returns one senior for the 2012 season. This will be another year of Hawaii needing to put up 40+ points to emerge victorious.



UNLV REBELS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-10 (1-6 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 4-8
Over/Under: 7-4-1
Points Scored: 17.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 40.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
The Rebels haven’t been in a bowl game since 2000, and if the drought continues, this could be the end of head coach Bobby Hauck’s run at UNLV. QB Caleb Herring is back after a mediocre 2011 season (1,004 pass yds, 8 TD, 6 INT), and he’ll need to be much sharper if the Rebels are going to be anywhere near the .500 mark this year. Herring will have to do it without his top three receivers from last season, which all graduated this past spring. UNLV has a solid running game, but without a passing game, that means nothing. On defense, the Rebels need to improve their pass rush, which was the only weak spot for the team last season. They return a number of players who saw a lot of action last year, despite not starting. This Rebels team has a nice group of linebackers and a few playmakers in the secondary too, but defensive adjustments have to be made this summer in order for UNLV to have success getting after the quarterback.



NEW MEXICO LOBOS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 1-11 (1-6 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 6-6
Over/Under: 4-8
Points Scored: 12.0 PPG
Points Allowed: 41.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
This spring was a weird one for the Lobos as they were unable to play their spring game because of a limited number of players on their roster. That’s not quite what Bob Davie envisioned when he took the head coaching job this offseason. The team couldn’t afford to lose any of their starters, most importantly QB B.R. Holbrook and the MWC’s leader in receptions per game, WR Ty Kirk (47 receptions in 9 games). The offensive line lacks depth getting only one reliable player back in C LaMar Bratton. Defensively, this team was built to stop the run last year, but a new defensive scheme from Davie is likely to stir things up. The Lobos will be returning some of their contributors from last year, but lose their leading tackler. It’s a rebuilding year on both sides of the ball and a one-year turnaround is very unlikely.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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08/20/2012 05:58 PM
WAC Preview

August 20, 2012

Talk about a conference in serious decline.

Only six of the 28 first-team all-WAC players in 2011 return this year. Considering a mere five of the 29 first-team all-WAC players in 2010 returned last season, it's what's known as going from the frying pan into the fire.

Not only are the ranks thinning dramatically in this conference, so are the members. After losing Boise State to the Mountain West last season, Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada have bolted this year.

Just seven teams compose the 2012 WAC, and two of them - Texas State and UT-San Antonio - are making the giant jump from FCS to FBS territory.

Confounding matters this year, of the WAC's 42 non-conference matchups, 19 are against teams that played in a bowl game last season.

Silver lining in a black cloud comes from the fact that the WAC was 15-31 in non-conference play last year. Of the 31 losses, they were either tied or leading in the 2nd half of 17 games, including 14 fourth-quarter leads.

They may try hard but our best advice is to get your cell phone cameras ready and take a picture of teams calling the WAC home these days. Like free hors d'oeuvres at a weight watchers meeting, they don't figure to be around much longer.

Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Designated 'Play On' and 'Play Against' Best Bets follow each team's preview.

IDAHO (5/4)
Team Theme: HOLD THE FRIES

Since its dramatic come-from-behind win over Bowling Green in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, it's been a precipitous fall from fame for the Spuds. A 2-10 effort last season can be directly attributed to an offense that declined 13 points and 150 YPG from the 2009 juggernaut that averaged 33 points 451 yards per game. And despite returning only five starters on offense, HC Robb Akey still holds out hope after the spring game. "I'm happy with the progress our offense is making," Akey said. "We have a lot of work to do, no doubt about it. But I'm excited about what we can be." If that isn't coach talk… well, we're not drinking the Moscow Kool-Aid.

Stat You Will Like: Akey is 1-6 ATS as a conference favorite.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. San Jose State (11/3)

LOUISIANA TECH (*8/6)
Team Theme: DIVIDEND KINGS

In two short years, Sonny Dykes has taken the Bulldogs from obscurity to prosperity and, like a fat kid at McDonald's or John Travolta at a massage parlor, La Tech backers are lovin' it. That's what happens when you cover the spread 11 out of 12 times in one season while nabbing the conference crown. The blueprint for success laid out by Dykes last year should continue to pay future dividends as the combination of the best recruiting class in the WAC and an infusion of JUCO talent (read: QB Nick Isham) has Ruston barking for more. With the offense pretty much back intact, investors are standing by. Here's hoping for a happy meal - and 'ending' - in 2012.

Stat You Will Like: The last time UNLV visited Ruston (1993), the Rebels snapped the Bulldogs' 18-game home win streak.

PASS

NEW MEXICO STATE (*7/6)
Team Theme: MOVIN' ON UP

The good news in Las Cruces is that the offense continues to make big strides under 4th-year mentor DeWayne Walker, improving 9 points and 103 yards per game last year alone. Unfortunately, the defense is in denial, having declined every season under Walker. To accentuate the positive, there are two options at quarterback in 2012 as sophomore Travaughn Colwell is back after having been thrown into the fire last year when fellow soph Andrew Manley saw his season end after three games with a knee injury. If the Aggies ascent is to continue, they'll need to take advantage of a season-opening six-pack that features five losing squads.

Stat You Will Like: The Aggies are 2-19 ATS as a favorite or a dog of 4 or less points versus an opponent with revenge.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. New Mexico (9/22)

SAN JOSE STATE (7/5)
Team Theme: ONE HUGE STEP FORWARD
The second year of the Mike McIntyre era proved fruitful for the Spartans when they went from one-win wonders in 2010 to one-game shy of being bowl-eligible in 2011. In the process, they also managed to shake a gnarly 16-game road-losing skein. Unfortunately, QB Matt Faulkner and RB Matt Rutley depart, as well as four along the defensive front seven. The good news is the hiring of Gene Blaymaier, the former Boise State athletic director who built a perennial football power in three decades with the Broncos. Sadly, McIntyre doesn't have 30 years, and it appears the huge step forward last year will likely translate into two steps backward this season.

Stat You Will Like: The Spartans are 0-16 SU and 3-13 ATS versus conference opponents off BB SU and ATS wins.

PASS

TEXAS STATE (*8/9)
Team Theme: HE'S BACK

After guiding Alabama, New Mexico, TCU and Texas A&M to bowl games and national prominence, Dennis Franchione resurfaces with the Bobcats in their maiden season with the big boys as a member of the soon-to-be-defunct WAC. This is actually Franchione's second stint with TSU (1990-91), where he is 19-15 overall. At first glance, 17 returning starters from a 6-6 squad appears imposing. However, a deeper look reveals losses in five of their final six games last year - all to FCS opposition. Let's hope the 'belting' they're expected to take this season only better prepares them for next year's move to the Sun Belt Conference.

Stat You Will Like: Franchione is 11-4 ATS as a home dog of more than 6 points, including 8-1 ATS versus greater than .667 opponents.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Nevada (9/29)

UTAH STATE (*7/6)
Team Theme: UPS AND DOWNS

Gary Andersen reached the summit in his third season in Logan when his Aggies gained a school-record 5,945 yards last year - including 3,675 on the ground - en route to their first bowl appearance since 1997. Led by the two-headed QB attack of Chuckie Keaton, who started the first eight games before getting injured, and Adam Kennedy, who won five of six starts, the Aggies have logged six double-digit comebacks the past two seasons and are 8-1 ATS as double-digit dogs under Andersen. Unfortunately, USU is a 'Reverse Mission' team and our Black Book tells us these 'Brilliant Disguisers' tend to revert back to their losing ways more often than not.

Stat You Will Like: The Aggies played in 10 games decided by one score or less last season, tops in the nation.

PLAY ON: as a dog at Colorado State (9/22)

UTSA (TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO) (*11/10)
Team Theme: BUILT FROM SCRATCH

Talk about building a program from scratch. When UTSA decided it wanted a football program, they initiated 'Step Up UTSA' as a fundraiser. They proceeded to raise $15 million, enough to pay salaries, scholarships and build practice facilities. Former national championship head coach Larry Coker (Miami Fla.) was hired and the rest is history. The Roadrunners kicked off their maiden season as a Division 1 FCS Independent last year and now bump up to FBS status in the WAC before moving on to C-USA in 2013. Twenty-one returning starters and a slate that includes four FCS foes should have the fans in the Alamodome 'remembering' 2012.

Stat You Will Like: The Roadrunners coaching staff features more than 100 years of combined coaching experience at the collegiate level.

PASS

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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08/20/2012 06:00 PM
Sun Belt Preview

August 14, 2012

Slow but sure. That's the Sun Belt's motto.

After sending three teams off to the bowling alleys each of the last two seasons, the 'Fun in the Sun' guys currently own the 5th best win percentage (.545) of the 11 FBS conferences in bowl games played since 2007, ranking ahead of the ACC, Big 10 and the PAC 12.

And a recently signed contract with ESPN guarantees the Sun Belt new radiant exposure on the programming giant through the 2019 season. No less than seven games will be aired this season.

The newest addition to the league is South Alabama, a team that has lost only four of its 27 games the last four seasons under head coach Joey Jones.

Never shy when it comes to tackling the big boys, the Sun Belt has squared off in no less than 42 games against FBS foes that appeared in a bowl game the last two seasons.

One very disturbing stat: Sun Belt teams are 9-108 in games against BCS AQ (Automatic Qualifier) teams the last five years.

Granted, they may be arguably the weakest of the 11 BCS conference affiliates, and it's league champ won't be guaranteed a BCS bowl, but don't tell them.

By rule, if it can, the SBC champion will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if its champion is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, or if that team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS standings and its ranking is higher that that of a champion of a conference that has an automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

In closing, as we mentioned in our analysis last year, the league may be suffering from a bad case of sunspots but to a team they believe, sooner than later, a member of the Sun Belt Conference will someday be playing in a BCS bowl game. Don't bet against them. They've still having plenty of fun in the sun.

Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Designated 'Play On' and 'Play Against' Best Bets follow each team's preview.

ARKANSAS STATE - (*6/4)
Team Theme: FAST AND FURIOUS

With Hugh Freeze yet another 'one-and-done' coach and now the new boss at Ole Miss, new coach Gus Malzahn has large shoes to fill as ASU broke virtually every offensive record in program history en route to a 10-win campaign last year. That doesn't faze Malzahn, who sees his fast-paced offense as being a really big advantage when it comes to coaching college football. "I'm a big fan of Chip Kelly and his offense. He's kind of on the cutting edge and he's not afraid to take chances with new things." Editor's note: Don't be surprised if Malzahn's next new thing finds him and his playbook in Little Rock sometime in the very near future.

Stat You Will Like: After ranking No. 95 in total offense in 2009, ASU's spread offense ranked No. 22 last season.

PLAY ON: at Oregon (9/1)

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (*7/8)
Team Theme: TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW
It's out with the old and in with the new in Boca as Howard Schnellenberger is now drawing full Social Security while Carl Pelini is roaming the FAU sidelines. While Pelini's only experience as a head coach has been at the high school level, he immediately established a leadership council led by players, rules in the weight room that players have responded to, a new spread offense and 4-3 defense. "Things went so poorly last year, you really want to buy in," says DB Keith Reaser of Pelini's playbook. Though Iowa transfer Jonathon Wallace should help a ground game that mustered only 3.3 YPC in 2011, we'll continue to window shop before we buy.

Stat You Will Like: In 2012, the Owls will play seven true road games for the ninth straight season.

PLAY ON: vs. North Texas (9/29)

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (7/10)
Team Theme: IMAGINE THIS
There's a reason Mario Cristobal said no to offers from Pitt and Rutgers. The coach knows what's under the hood for his football team this season. With 17 starters back from last year's eight-win edition, Cristobal has more talent on hand than he's ever had since taking over this fledgling program in 2007. What happens should FIU win each of its four non-conference games to start the season? The Panthers would then head into Sun Belt play with a real possibility of finishing unbeaten. It would be just their luck to see that happen to only wake up and find the Mayans were right! While the ancient ones have December 21st circled on their calendar, Mario is thinking New Year's Day.

Stat You Will Like: After going 0-18 SU in the first three games of the season the previous six years, the Panthers went 3-0 last season.

PLAY ON: at Duke (9/1)

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (*9/4)
Team Theme: RING OF SUCCESS
In his first year on the job, Mark Hudspeth tied a school record for most wins in a season (9) and was quickly rewarded with a five-year contract extension and double the pay (750k) in hope that he's not lured out of Lafayette by the big boys. In a show of appreciation, Hudspeth awarded each player a Super Bowl-like ring as a memento of their New Orleans Bowl win. He may want to remember sizes as the Cajuns return nine starters on offense, led by senior QB Blaine Gautier, who tossed for 3,000 yards and 23 TD's in 2011. Hudspeth also put the advantage back in home field as Lafayette raged to a 5-0 SU mark after dropping six of its previous eight at Cajun Field.

Stat You Will Like: The Cajuns have cashed in each of their last 13 games in a row away from home as a dog.

PLAY ON: at Oklahoma State (9/15)

LOUISIANA-MONROE (*8/5)
Team Theme: BERRY PROMISING
At first glance, it appears the Warhawks have slipped in each of the first two years under Todd Berry, going from six wins to five to four. However, Monroe improved on each side of the ball in 2011 and, despite the SU and ATS drop, teams of this ilk almost always improve dramatically the following season. Let's not forget that in his first season Berry saw 17 freshmen and sophomores start games for a team that came within one game of bowl eligibility - or that he has developed 11 all-SBC performers since his arrival. Yes, ULM will open the season 0-3 but that should toughen them up for what promises to be a much-anticipated bowl run.

Stat You Will Like: Berry is 0-24 SU and 6-17 ATS in games off a spread win of more than 4 points.

PLAY ON: at Western Kentucky (10/20)

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (*6/6)
Team Theme: STOCKING UP
There is something to be said about how teams perform after record-setting performances. If you think otherwise, witness the Blue Raiders' effort last year after having gone bowling in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. An offense that has slipped 10 PPG over the past two seasons, along with an 87-yard collapse by the defense over the same span, results in new coordinators on both sides of the ball. The Blue Man Group will continue to operate from a no-huddle attack but they'll do it behind a rebuilt offensive line. The good news is the defensive line remains intact for MTSU's two-time Sun Belt Coach of the Year, Rick Stockstill.

Stat You Will Like: Rick Stockstill is 6-0 ATS in regular-season games when playing off a SU underdog win.

PLAY ON: vs. Troy (11/24)

NORTH TEXAS (*9/5)
Team Theme: OFF THE STEROIDS
Now that former coach Todd Dodge is gone, it's time for the not-so Mean Green to wean itself off Dodge's JUCO-transfusion and onto Dan McCarney's recruits as this program continues to rebuild itself from the ground up. This year they'll have to do it without the services of star RB Lance Dunbar and his backup, who together combined for 1,521 yards in 2011. The Green will also be minus the services of 27 seniors who graduated from last year's roster, including three starters from the secondary. The good news is QB Derek Thompson, who battled through injuries last year, appears fully healthy while his backups are suddenly experienced.

Stat You Will Like: McCarney is 3-18 ATS as a conference road dog of 13 or more points.

PLAY AGAINST: at Middle Tennessee State (10/27)

SOUTH ALABAMA (*5/9)
Team Theme: SMOOTH SPREAD
Established in 2007, Bo Derek would be proud of a South Alabama football program that has moved along nicely, playing its first game in 2009 before recording a perfect 10-0 season in 2010. Defense should, once again, be the strong suit as nine starters are back from a unit that ranked No. 16 in the FCS last season. Offensively, the Jaguars will be unveiling a new spread-attack, handing the keys to sophomore QB C.J. Bennett. Though not eligible for the Sun Belt title until 2013, games played this year will count as conference games for SBC foes. This season may not go as smooth as the past few (see stat below), but the Jaguars have earned FBS status. Perfect.

Stat You Will Like: The Jaguars are 23-2 SU all-time versus non-FBS opponents.

PLAY ON: at NC State (9/15)

TROY (*10/6)
Team Theme: THE ART OF REBOUNDING
According to Bill Connelly of SB Nation.com, one of college football's most illuminating reporters, Troy's down season last year is an indicator of good things to come in 2012. We agree, as the Trojans are a fully qualified 'Mission Team' with a lot to prove this season. The descent started early last year when three starters were declared academically ineligible, including QB Corey Robinson's top two targets. All three return this season. In fact, nine of Troy's top 10 receivers are on hand this year. And remember, despite the loss of his main weapons, Robinson still managed to air it out for over 3,400 yards and 21 TD's in 2011. Off the worst season of his 22-year tenure, expect a big Blakeney bounce-back.

Stat You Will Like: Blakeney has had 19 players picked in the NFL draft in his 22 years with Troy, including DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora.

PLAY ON: vs. La-Lafayette (9/8)

WESTERN KENTUCKY (*9/8)
Team Theme: FROM ZERO TO…
When the Hilltoppers hired Willie Taggert as their new head coach in 2010, little did they realize that their former star quarterback from the mid 1990's would lead them from zero to seven wins in two short years. Despite the seven victories, the Toppers were snubbed of a bowl bid. Taggert insists there are no sour grapes - just motivation. "After last year, we're not gonna make any excuses," said Taggert. "That's on us. We can't blame anyone else." We wouldn't blame them for taking a step back, especially with the graduation loss of featured RB Bobby Rainey, who owns every school rushing record while toting the ball nearly 31 times per game last year.

Stat You Will Like: The Hilltoppers are 9-35 SU versus FBS opponents. All nine victories have all been under Taggert the last two seasons.

PLAY AGAINST: at La-Lafayette (11/17)
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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08/20/2012 06:03 PM
Teams to Watch - Big 12

August 19, 2012

Baylor

-- State of Program (SOP): LWORG3. Or, "Life Without Robert Griffin III" begins in 2012 - and how will that life be for a Baylor program that has grown leaps and bounds over the last few season under reigning Heisman Trophy winning QB RG3? There are still a ton of weapons offensively that will put up big numbers and be successful in Art Briles system - as long as the new QB, Nick Florence, can perform and not make too many mistakes. But there are massive question marks on defense - a unit that was not very good last year and will struggle to even be that strong in 2012.

-- Strongest unit: Offensive weapons. To help breaking in the new QB, Briles has a stable of weapons chomping at the bit to get their shot led by WRs Terrence Williams & Tevin Reese, along with RBs Lache Seastrunk & Jarred Salubi. Williams is a first round talent, Reese is a big play waiting to happen, Seastrunk is an Oregon transfer who could turn into the most exciting player in the Big 12, while Salubi is the workhorse back. If Florence can play well, the offense will remain near the top of the conference.

-- Biggest area of concern: Defense. On the flip side of the great offense is a poor defense. There really is no other way to put it - they do not have an anchor at any level, and the front 7 is of particular concern. Good thing for them is they reside in the Big 12 where there are more passing offenses than rushing ones, but expect similar results from last year when the Bears allowed 37+ ppg.

-- Upside: 8-4. The OOC portion of the schedule is manageable and in most cases they will go 3-1 there. Since this is the "upside" projection there is no reason they couldn't go 4-0 at home in Big 12 play, and win @ Iowa State for their 8th overall win.

-- Downside: Missing a bowl game invite. Three of their four road games in Big 12 play are tough, while home dates with Kansas State and Oklahoma State will not be easy. If they do not get any breaks a 2-6 Big 12 season could be in the cards with wins over Kansas and Texas Tech at home.

-- Bottom Line: This is a year of transition for Baylor in some ways, but to be honest I am not sure 2013 looks any better than 2012. Florence is a Sr. and this is his moment to shine, while the offense could certainly lose a few skill position pieces after the '12 campaign. I feel strongly this is a critical year for Baylor to build off the success of the past few years because if they do not, things could start trending downhill very fast.

Kansas

-- SOP: Charlie Weis is back on the scene, this time in Lawrence, Kansas to try and revive a program that hasn't had any success since firing Mangino a few years ago. At this point, to be fair, one really has to question the coaching acumen of Weis - he failed to turn ND into anything whatsoever after having one strong season with the prior coach's players; he then went to Florida with a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and the Gators promptly turned in their worst offensive production in quite some time. Now he shows up in Kansas where it isn't easy to win - and considering Bill Snyder is back at Kansas State and that program is on the rise for now, where will Kansas wind up in 2-3 seasons? I frankly am not sure it will be any better than where it stands today.

-- Strongest unit: QB. Dayne Crist comes over from ND to team up with Weis for one more season, but how healthy will he be and remain during the season - especially considering Kansas has one of the worst offensive lines in the conference? Jake Heaps, the stud recruit who was a complete flop at BYU also joined the Jayhawks, but he will not be eligible to play until 2013. Then there is Turner Baty, a JUCO transfer who led his team to an undefeated season last year and has both the arm, and the legs to make plays. Crist clearly has the inside step on the starting gig, for now…but I highly doubt he holds up for an entire season.

-- Biggest area of concern: Defense overall, but in particular the secondary. Outside FS Bradley McDougal, there aren't any solid players in the entire secondary for first year DC Dave Campo to rely on. And that is a big issue in the pass happy Big 12, and a big reason Kansas has struggled mightily over the last few seasons. There isn't much size, as no player that figures to get time outside JUCO transfer CB Nasir Moore is taller than 5'10. There isn't any speed whatsoever. And although there is some experience, this same group allowed nearly 70% completion rate last year, with 28 TD passes.

-- Upside: 5-7. I just cannot see Kansas reaching bowl invite status even on an upside evaluation. I could see 3-0 in OOC play, but have a hard time seeing better than 2-7 in Big 12 play with wins over Iowa State at home and possibly one of @ Baylor / @ Texas Tech.

-- Downside: Let's be honest here, even with Crist and some of the other talent that has transferred in, this will be a tough season. And on their worst day they could go 1-11 because even games hosting South Dakota State who is the defending FCS champs won't be a cake walk, Rice at home will not be a snoozer as the Owls have some talent on offense, and @ Northern Illinois will not be easy as they lost to them last year! In a worst case scenario they win one of those games and go 0-9 in Big 12 play.

-- Bottom Line: Although Weis is now in charge, and a lot of "big name talent" has transferred into Lawrence, there is a reason all those options were available this past offseason. Weis hasn't got the job done at any of his stops in college football, and the same can be said for every guy that transferred into this program. They are all likely to be upgrades over what was there prior, but how much remains to be seen. Even if Weis does a fine job I do not see him doing a good enough job in his tenure to overtake Bill Snyder and make the Jayhawks the best program in Kansas once again.

TCU

-- SOP: FINALLY! Finally, the TCU Horned Frogs get their wish, first moving to the Big East but before even playing a game joining the Big 12, which is a better fit geographically and as a conference in the long run. Now, what will Gary Patterson be able to accomplish facing the big boys weekly? Hey, it's one thing to play well and rise up to a challenge a few times a year - but how will they handle the need for being "up" just about every week? That will be the big test, especially on their depth in their first few seasons residing in a power conference.

-- Strongest unit: Offensive backfield. There aren't many, if any, backfield units in the Big 12 that will feature a QB and the RB depth that TCU will. Casey Pachall enters his second season as the starting QB, and he had a whale of an opening act completing 66.5% of his passes for 8.5 yards per attempt, with 25 TDs and only 7 INTs. In a league such as the Big 12 that is absolutely stacked with fine QB play, the Frogs won't lose a step there. The three headed RB monster of Wesley, James and Tucker would have easily be the best trio in the Big 12, before Wesley went down for the season. This still figures to be a solid unit with a pair returning who rushed for 700+ yards last season.

-- Biggest area of concern: Size, especially on defense. While the offensive line surely is not a strength, TCU has plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the ball to try and help a group that will be growing into their roles. On the other side of the ball, I see a lot of issues, especially with the size of much of the roster that will be key pieces of the rotation. While players of that size worked well in the MWC, it will not be as easy in the Big 12. The pair of starting LBs check in at 210 & 235, while 3 of the 5 starters in the secondary are 180 or less. That could turn into a big problem many ways; testing depth, injuries, and just being overmatched physically against some of the better Big 12 opponents, especially the explosive passing games.

-- Upside: 8-4 including 3-0 in OOC play. TCU does get the short end of the stick this year having to play 5 road conference games in the new 9 game Big 12 slate, but that will even out over time. The last five games of the season will be pivotal to their chances at winning the conference, featuring 3 road games and hosting Oklahoma & Kansas State.

-- Downside: .500. Any way you slice and dice it the Frogs should be 5-0 heading into the October 13th matchup @ Baylor. But then it gets tough, with the only win that appears to be fairly certain is the following week at home vs. Texas Tech - but even that isn't a lock considering the high powered TT offense facing a smallish secondary that could start wearing down by that point.

-- Bottom Line: TCU will most likely have their moments in their inaugural season in the Big 12, but they will also struggle some matching the emotions and physicality of their opponents on a week to week basis. The defense is small, and overall the team is not very deep - the roster depth will come in time, but for this year and the near future that will be an issue. TCU will likely wind up being involved in a ton of shoot-outs, and a middle of the pack Big 12 team.

Kansas State

-- SOP: Bill Snyder enters his fourth season in his second go-around as K-State coach and once again, he continues to overachieve in the Little Apple. This guy, even at age 73, gets the job done, and does it his way - the right way, after all, the stadium his Cats play in is named after him. After a brilliant 10 win season in 2011, the cupboard is still stocked, with 14 returning starters, to perhaps make a run to a Big 12 title in 2012. Snyder also has to start contemplating who his eventual successor will be, someone who can keep the Wildcats challenging in the Big 12, when he steps aside for a second, and final time in the next few years most likely.

-- Strongest unit: Offensive backfield. One of the best leaders in college football, QB Collin Klein, returns for his senior season after a spectacular junior season that seemed to come out of nowhere. Check out his 2012 stats: 1,141 rushing yards, 27 rushing TDs, 1,918 passing yards, 13 passing TDs with only 6 INTs. This guy is working his way to legend status in Manhattan, and could be a sleeper Heisman Trophy contender this year. Joining him at RB are all the pieces from a year ago, led by John Hubert, Robert Rose & Angelo Pease. Look for one of the best statistical rushing attacks in the country this year from KSU.

-- Biggest area of concern: Both lines. And that is never a good thing, especially in college football where the differences between strong lines and weak lines is extremely drastic, and plays a key part in deciding the outcome of games. In all fairness, the OL is very solid in run blocking, which is the key piece of the K-State offense; however, pass blocking is another story, a weaker story for certain. Essentially 3 starters are back, including Foketi who started in 2010 but missed last season with an injury. On the DL quite a few key pieces were lost, which will cause issues rushing the passer. Rushing defense should be average, not a liability.

-- Upside: Another double-digit win regular season, and potential Big 12 title - or at least a tie as remember, in the new Big 12 there will not be a Championship Game this season. K-State does get unlucky in the sense they will play 5 road conference games vs. 4 home, including trips to Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU - all three of which are amongst the top half of Big 12 contenders this season at the least. Due to that trio it will be near impossible for an outright Big 12 title - may even be tough to even tie, but they should contend and be in the mix late.

-- Downside: Safely getting a bowl invite, but not the New Year's Day bowl they are hoping for. In a downside scenario they could lose to revenge minded Miami, drop three of five conference road games, and possibly the home game vs. Texas. With the new 9 game Big 12 slate they will only have 3 OOC games, which could cost them a win vs. the typical competition they would play. Anyway you cut it, barring an injury to Klein, the 'Cats will certainly be bowling this season.

-- Bottom Line: This team was very good to me last season, and Klein is one of my favorite players to watch in college football. With a talented defense, and Klein leading an explosive rushing attack, K-State could take that next step and surprise folks with a BCS bowl invite - which they deserved to receive last year.

West Virginia

-- SOP: The Mountaineers finally got their wish, moving to a bigger name, more competitive football conference when they decided to join the Big 12. Had WVU stayed in the Big East this season they almost certainly would have won that conference, and earned the big pay day BCS bowl invite. Now, they are just another team in a deep, new look Big 12 conference that has added WVU & TCU from the Big East, but lost Missouri & Texas A&M to the SEC. Dana Holgerson enters his second season in Morgantown, and should have some knowledge of his new opponents from his days at Oklahoma State. In a bit of sad news, Bill Stewart, the former WVU coach immediately prior to Holgerson passed in the spring, which will leave heavy hearts in the program for the near future. Hopefully WVU can use that as a rallying point in 2012.

-- Strongest unit: Passing game. Flat out WVU will fit in very nicely with their new conference rivals, as the Big 12 is known for their high flying aerial assaults, and that is precisely what the 'Neers bring to the table. The key cogs to the passing attack are as follows: QB Geno Smith, who threw for 4400 yards last year, 66% completions, and a 31/7 TD/INT split; WR Tavon Austin 101/1,186/8; WR Stedman Bailey 72/1,279/12; WR Ivan McCartney 49/595/3. Oh, and also, WVU will boast one of the best, if not the best, OL's in the Big 12. This will be a prolific passing attack, that shouldn't see their numbers drop too much even with the uptick in competition.

-- Biggest area of concern: DE. Generating a pass rush wasn't an issue last season with Bruce Irvin & Julian Miller pressuring from the outside. This year that will be a big question mark as both of those players were lost, and not much experience, but some talent, will look to fill those shoes. WVU may need to leverage the OLB's more than they like this season to generate enough pass rush, especially in their new conference. Good thing their secondary is experienced and should be the strongest unit on defense.

-- Upside: 11-1. If they put forth their best effort each week, and got a few breaks, this team could potentially be in the national title discussion as late as mid November. WVU doesn't play a road game till October 6th @ Texas, and only faces 4 all season with the others being Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Their November 17th home game vs. Oklahoma could have a ton on the line - keep an eye on that date and possible scenario.

-- Downside: 8-4. They are as close to a lock as possible to go 3-0 in OOC play; with 5 home/4 road conference games, and the layout mentioned above getting most of the better teams at home, there really isn't much downside to this season for WVU.

-- Bottom Line: It should be a very good year, with the potential to be great with a break or two in their first season as a member of the Big 12. That transition will only be helped by the experience their HC already has from his Big 12 days. This offense will be almost unstoppable in 2012 (remember the shredding they did to LSU last season?), and the defense will be just opportunistic enough to put them in the hunt for at the very least a Big 12 title. This team will clearly fit right in with their new conference.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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08/22/2012 12:07 PM
College Football Preview: Conference USA

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Next up is Conference USA, which has the same 12 teams as last year, but conference favorite UCF is not eligible for the postseason due to NCAA recruiting violations.

Odds to Win Conference USA
9-to-2: Houston
9-to-2: Southern Mississippi
6-to-1: Tulsa
6-to-1: SMU
9-to-1: East Carolina
12-to-1: Marshall
15-to-1: UTEP
30-to-1: Rice
30-to-1: UAB
35-to-1: Tulane
50-to-1: Memphis


HOUSTON COUGARS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 13-1 (8-0 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 11-3
Over/Under: 8-6
Points Scored: 49.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
New head coach Tony Levine inherits a team without QB Case Keenum and most of the skill positions from the successful 2011 Cougars team. But QB David Piland is ready to fill Keenum’s record-breaking cleats, throwing for 2,641 yards and 24 TD in eight games in 2010 when Keenum was injured. Piland will lead the Air Raid offense that dictates the Cougars tossing the ball down the field nearly every possession. Leading rusher Charles Sims (821 rush yds, 7.5 YPC, 9 TD; 575 rec yds, 4 TD) returns behind an experienced o-line, but all of the receiving weapons Keenum had last year are gone. Defensively, Houston was a solid team last year, allowing just 22.4 PPG, and now they switch back to a 4-3 with new defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. They will be keeping most of this unit intact, including a group of dynamic linebackers. The Cougars’ strength will be in the middle of the field with their linebackers, but the secondary is also strong and experienced, led by senior CB D.J. Hayden (66 tackles, 11 PD, 5 FF).



SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI GOLDEN EAGLES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 12-2 (6-2 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 8-5-1
Over/Under: 6-8
Points Scored: 36.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 20.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
Ellis Johnson has giant shoes to fill replacing former head coach Larry Fedora and the first thing he’ll have to do is find a reliable quarterback. Whoever emerges between Chris Campbell and Ricky Lloyd will have the chance to play behind a strong offensive line that will start four seniors. Desmond Johnson (5.7 YPC) is the guy who looks to get the most touches at tailback this season with the versatile Jeremy Hester also getting some carries. The strength of the Golden Eagles could be their wide receiving corps that includes the speedy and undersized Tracy Lampley (1,037 total yards, 7 total TD) and 6-foot-4 converted TE Markese Triplett. Former Memphis head man Tommy West takes over as defensive coordinator and has some talent on the defensive line and secondary. Southern Miss will have to rely on green players at the linebacker positions to round out a defense that could be strong again (20.8 PPG, 26th in nation) if recruits and transfers are ready to contribute.



TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (7-1 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 4-9
Points Scored: 33.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 27.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
Tulsa is looking to repeat the success of last year’s team despite losing QB G.J. Kinne. This year, the guy under center looks to be Cody Green, who transferred from Nebraska. Green looks the part of an NFL quarterback as he is an athletic 6-foot-4, 247-pound physical specimen, and he’ll have WR Bryan Burnham (850 rec yds) to throw to. RBs Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas, both of whom rushed for over 800 yards last season, will also make Green’s job a heck of a lot easier. However, the offensive line lost three starters and lacks depth. The defense for this team looks to be very promising in 2012 as they get back a few starters in every area of the defense. This includes S Dexter McCoil (13 INT in career). They have a lot of speed on their defense, so it’ll be very tough to move the ball on the Golden Hurricane, especially in a conference full of uncertainty at the quarterback position.



SMU MUSTANGS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (5-3 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 4-8-1
Points Scored: 25.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 23.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 3
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
SMU’s success this season will rest upon the shoulders of the University of Texas outcast, Garrett Gilbert, who was once considered a phenomenal QB prospect, but he struggled in Big 12 play (13 TD, 23 INT). Gilbert’s best play will be handing off to RB Zach Line who has rushed for 2,718 yards and 27 TD in his past two seasons. The Mustangs are completely retooling their offensive line, but if Gilbert has time to throw, he’ll be targeting a legit star wideout in Darius Johnson (1,118 rec yds, 8 TD). June Jones may finally have the players to perfect his Run ‘n’ Shoot offense. The Mustangs will be returning six starters from a defensive unit that was second in C-USA last season (340 total YPG). They get back all of their linebackers, but must replace two talented defensive ends. The secondary will return a decent number of reliable starters, including CB Kenneth Acker (49 solo tackles, 4 PD) and S Ryan Smith (65 tackles, 4 PD).



EAST CAROLINA PIRATES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (4-4 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 7-5
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 26.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 32.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
The Pirates will be a much different team than they have been in past years, with the departure of QB Dominique Davis who threw for 7,192 yards and 62 TD in two seasons. Junior Rio Johnson (20-for-29, 157 yds, 1 INT in career) will take over under center for Ruffin McNeill’s pass-heavy offense. This team is loaded with talent at the WR position, led by Justin Hardy (658 rec yds, 6 TD) and WR/TE Justin Jones (3 TD in season finale). RB Torrance Hunt (489 rush yds) will likely get the bulk of carries. On the defensive side of the ball, this team is getting playmakers back in its front seven, as well as the linebacking corps. C-USA Freshman of the Year MLB Jeremy Grove (45 solo tackles, 77 assists) is the anchor of the unit. The defense will be a strong suit for East Carolina while the offense’s job will dramatically shift from airing out the football to cutting down mistakes after having the 2nd-worst turnover margin in FBS.



MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (5-3 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 8-5
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 21.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.6 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
The Thundering Herd will be a more exciting offense to watch this upcoming season. QB Rakeem Cato is returning after a solid freshman campaign (2,059 pass yds, 15 TD, 11 INT) and back with him is his super talented RB duo of Tron Martinez (649 rush yds, 3 TD) and Travon Van (551 rush yds, 3 TD), as well as NFL prospect WR Aaron Dobson (668 rec yds, 12 TD). The offensive line should stand tall, returning three starters and adding JUCO LT Gage Niemeyer who looked great in the spring. Defensively, Marshall loses its best pass rusher (Vinny Curry), but the secondary gets a boost from S D.J. Hunter (knee injury) coming back and Boston College transfers Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okorha. With all this DB depth, Devin Arrington moves back to his linebacker position to give this unit more speed.



UTEP MINERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (2-6 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 6-6
Over/Under: 4-7
Points Scored: 26.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 30.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
Head coach Mike Price needs to deliver a winning season in 2012. The pressure will be on QB Nick Lamaison (1,718 pass yds, 12 TD, 10 INT) who unfortunately was derailed by a few injuries. This year he’ll get back his two top targets in WRs Mike Edwards (657 rec yds, 3 TD) and Jordan Leslie (430 rec yds, 2 TD), as well as multiple pass-catching tight ends. RB Nathan Jeffery averaged 6.4 YPC last season and shows a lot of promise, especially with four starting OLs returning. The Miners defense struggled last year, allowing 442 YPG (104th in nation) and 49+ points three times. But the defensive line returns three quality starters and their linebackers will get a boost from Jamie Irving, who missed last season with shoulder injuries. The secondary could also be better with CB Drew Thomas (42 tackles, 5 PD) and S DeShawn Grayson (67 tackles, 2 INT) returning.



RICE OWLS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-8 (3-5 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 5-7
Over/Under: 4-8
Points Scored: 23.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 33.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
Since going 10-3 in 2008, the Owls are a combined 10-26 in the past three years. For them to get back to respectability, junior QB Taylor McHargue (1,072 pass yds, 8 TD, 5 INT) needs to play better. He does have weapons in WR Vance McDonald (532 rec yds, 5 TD) and TE Luke Wilson (313 yds, 3 TD), both of whom are legitimate targets. Rice will also get back playmaking RB/WR Sam McGuffie after his season was cut short by an ankle injury. On defense, two stars return in CB Bryce Callahan (6 INT) and LB Cameron Nwosu (108 tackles). Outside of those two, they’ll be full of young, inexperienced players. Former CB coach Chris Thurmond will take over as defensive coordinator after a year in which the secondary allowed 279 passing YPG (9th-most in FBS).



UAB BLAZERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 3-9 (3-5 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 7-5
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 20.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 36.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
UAB enters the season with a new head coach in Garrick McGee, who learned how to run the offense under Bobby Petrino. McGee, who replaces Neil Callaway, has a great offensive mind and both he and offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm should be able to make the most out of QB Jonathan Perry (2,042 pass yds, 10 TD, 8 INT). Perry had a rocky start to his freshman year for the Blazers, but played much better down the stretch with 7 TD and 1 INT in his final three games. The offensive line has lost four starters, so McGee’s toughest job will be finding somebody to block for his QB. The Blazers have the talent and depth at WR and RB to do damage in the C-USA. Defensively, this team will be getting back impact players at the linebacker position and on the defensive line, where they struggled a year ago with the fewest sacks in FBS (eight). An improvement will really help the secondary, which lacks experience.



TULANE GREEN WAVE

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-11 (1-7 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 21.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 37.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
The good news for new Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson is that he will get back most of his starters to help erase the sting of losing their final 10 games. The offensive line is a question mark this season, but if they can block, this Tulane team will be solid offensively. Johnson loves QB Ryan Griffin (2,502 pass yds, 13 TD, 10 INT), and expects much bigger things from him. The Green Wave will also get back their star RB, Orleans Darkwa (924 rush yds, 13 TD). The offense looks promising, but it will mean nothing if their defense doesn’t improve drastically after letting up 37.5 PPG (6th-most in FBS) and 410 total YPG. A lot of individually skilled players are back on defense, it’s just a matter of when or if they come together. LB Trent Mackey (145 tackles) is a monster within an improving linebacking corps and the secondary should also be better with experience.



MEMPHIS TIGERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-10 (1-7 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 5-7
Over/Under: 3-9
Points Scored: 16.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 35.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
The Tigers are returning a decent number of starters on the offensive end, but none of those are quarterbacks. But new head coach Justin Fuente will run his up-tempo offense through QB Jacob Karam, a transfer from Texas Tech. Karam’s No. 1 target will be sophomore WR Kevin Wright (36 rec, 398 yds), who is an athletic specimen at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. The broken running game from last season will again lean on the oft-injured Jerrell Rhodes (152 yds, 2 TD in 3 games). Defensively, this team can’t get much worse (491 YPG, 4th-most in FBS) despite the loss of first round NFL draft pick, DT Dontari Poe. The front seven performed very well this spring and shows promise of being a better run-stopping unit, and hopefully eclipsing 14 sacks from last year. Fortunately, almost every member of the secondary is back from last year and that experience can only help a unit that finished dead last in the nation in passing yards allowed (299.4 YPG).



UCF GOLDEN KNIGHTS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (3-5 in Conference USA)
ATS Record: 5-7
Over/Under: 4-7
Points Scored: 27.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: Not eligible for postseason
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
Sophomore QB Blake Borles will start under center for UCF in 2012 after a superb finish to his 2011 freshman campaign (6 TD, 3 INT, 68.2% completions). Receivers Quincy McDuffie and Josh Reese are also looking to build upon impressive freshman years to make this offense something truly special. The Knights should have an excellent running game this season with Brynn Harvey (2,202 rush yds, 18 TD in career) and Latavius Murray (233 rush yds vs. UTEP) operating behind a solid offensive line. On the other side of the ball, eight starters are coming back on a defense that showed signs of dominance last year (18.3 PPG, 303 YPG, both 9th in FBS), before being offset by injuries. If this team can stay healthy and get consistent play from its linebackers, its defense is good enough to get this team to the Conference-USA championship.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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08/22/2012 12:11 PM
WAC Preview

August 20, 2012

Talk about a conference in serious decline.

Only six of the 28 first-team all-WAC players in 2011 return this year. Considering a mere five of the 29 first-team all-WAC players in 2010 returned last season, it's what's known as going from the frying pan into the fire.

Not only are the ranks thinning dramatically in this conference, so are the members. After losing Boise State to the Mountain West last season, Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada have bolted this year.

Just seven teams compose the 2012 WAC, and two of them - Texas State and UT-San Antonio - are making the giant jump from FCS to FBS territory.

Confounding matters this year, of the WAC's 42 non-conference matchups, 19 are against teams that played in a bowl game last season.

Silver lining in a black cloud comes from the fact that the WAC was 15-31 in non-conference play last year. Of the 31 losses, they were either tied or leading in the 2nd half of 17 games, including 14 fourth-quarter leads.

They may try hard but our best advice is to get your cell phone cameras ready and take a picture of teams calling the WAC home these days. Like free hors d'oeuvres at a weight watchers meeting, they don't figure to be around much longer.

Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Designated 'Play On' and 'Play Against' Best Bets follow each team's preview.

IDAHO (5/4)
Team Theme: HOLD THE FRIES

Since its dramatic come-from-behind win over Bowling Green in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, it's been a precipitous fall from fame for the Spuds. A 2-10 effort last season can be directly attributed to an offense that declined 13 points and 150 YPG from the 2009 juggernaut that averaged 33 points 451 yards per game. And despite returning only five starters on offense, HC Robb Akey still holds out hope after the spring game. "I'm happy with the progress our offense is making," Akey said. "We have a lot of work to do, no doubt about it. But I'm excited about what we can be." If that isn't coach talk… well, we're not drinking the Moscow Kool-Aid.

Stat You Will Like: Akey is 1-6 ATS as a conference favorite.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. San Jose State (11/3)

LOUISIANA TECH (*8/6)
Team Theme: DIVIDEND KINGS

In two short years, Sonny Dykes has taken the Bulldogs from obscurity to prosperity and, like a fat kid at McDonald's or John Travolta at a massage parlor, La Tech backers are lovin' it. That's what happens when you cover the spread 11 out of 12 times in one season while nabbing the conference crown. The blueprint for success laid out by Dykes last year should continue to pay future dividends as the combination of the best recruiting class in the WAC and an infusion of JUCO talent (read: QB Nick Isham) has Ruston barking for more. With the offense pretty much back intact, investors are standing by. Here's hoping for a happy meal - and 'ending' - in 2012.

Stat You Will Like: The last time UNLV visited Ruston (1993), the Rebels snapped the Bulldogs' 18-game home win streak.

PASS

NEW MEXICO STATE (*7/6)
Team Theme: MOVIN' ON UP

The good news in Las Cruces is that the offense continues to make big strides under 4th-year mentor DeWayne Walker, improving 9 points and 103 yards per game last year alone. Unfortunately, the defense is in denial, having declined every season under Walker. To accentuate the positive, there are two options at quarterback in 2012 as sophomore Travaughn Colwell is back after having been thrown into the fire last year when fellow soph Andrew Manley saw his season end after three games with a knee injury. If the Aggies ascent is to continue, they'll need to take advantage of a season-opening six-pack that features five losing squads.

Stat You Will Like: The Aggies are 2-19 ATS as a favorite or a dog of 4 or less points versus an opponent with revenge.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. New Mexico (9/22)

SAN JOSE STATE (7/5)
Team Theme: ONE HUGE STEP FORWARD
The second year of the Mike McIntyre era proved fruitful for the Spartans when they went from one-win wonders in 2010 to one-game shy of being bowl-eligible in 2011. In the process, they also managed to shake a gnarly 16-game road-losing skein. Unfortunately, QB Matt Faulkner and RB Matt Rutley depart, as well as four along the defensive front seven. The good news is the hiring of Gene Blaymaier, the former Boise State athletic director who built a perennial football power in three decades with the Broncos. Sadly, McIntyre doesn't have 30 years, and it appears the huge step forward last year will likely translate into two steps backward this season.

Stat You Will Like: The Spartans are 0-16 SU and 3-13 ATS versus conference opponents off BB SU and ATS wins.

PASS

TEXAS STATE (*8/9)
Team Theme: HE'S BACK

After guiding Alabama, New Mexico, TCU and Texas A&M to bowl games and national prominence, Dennis Franchione resurfaces with the Bobcats in their maiden season with the big boys as a member of the soon-to-be-defunct WAC. This is actually Franchione's second stint with TSU (1990-91), where he is 19-15 overall. At first glance, 17 returning starters from a 6-6 squad appears imposing. However, a deeper look reveals losses in five of their final six games last year - all to FCS opposition. Let's hope the 'belting' they're expected to take this season only better prepares them for next year's move to the Sun Belt Conference.

Stat You Will Like: Franchione is 11-4 ATS as a home dog of more than 6 points, including 8-1 ATS versus greater than .667 opponents.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Nevada (9/29)

UTAH STATE (*7/6)
Team Theme: UPS AND DOWNS

Gary Andersen reached the summit in his third season in Logan when his Aggies gained a school-record 5,945 yards last year - including 3,675 on the ground - en route to their first bowl appearance since 1997. Led by the two-headed QB attack of Chuckie Keaton, who started the first eight games before getting injured, and Adam Kennedy, who won five of six starts, the Aggies have logged six double-digit comebacks the past two seasons and are 8-1 ATS as double-digit dogs under Andersen. Unfortunately, USU is a 'Reverse Mission' team and our Black Book tells us these 'Brilliant Disguisers' tend to revert back to their losing ways more often than not.

Stat You Will Like: The Aggies played in 10 games decided by one score or less last season, tops in the nation.

PLAY ON: as a dog at Colorado State (9/22)

UTSA (TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO) (*11/10)
Team Theme: BUILT FROM SCRATCH

Talk about building a program from scratch. When UTSA decided it wanted a football program, they initiated 'Step Up UTSA' as a fundraiser. They proceeded to raise $15 million, enough to pay salaries, scholarships and build practice facilities. Former national championship head coach Larry Coker (Miami Fla.) was hired and the rest is history. The Roadrunners kicked off their maiden season as a Division 1 FCS Independent last year and now bump up to FBS status in the WAC before moving on to C-USA in 2013. Twenty-one returning starters and a slate that includes four FCS foes should have the fans in the Alamodome 'remembering' 2012.

Stat You Will Like: The Roadrunners coaching staff features more than 100 years of combined coaching experience at the collegiate level.

PASS
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08/22/2012 12:13 PM
Teams to Watch - Big East

August 21, 2012

South Florida

-- State of Program (SOP): Skip Holtz enters his third season in Tampa, looking to lead his team back from last year’s dismal performance down the stretch where the Bulls lost 7 of their last 8 to finish with their worst record since 2004. Why are so many people pumped about USF and their chances at challenging for a Big East title in 2012? First off, even though they were 1-6 in Big East play last year, they actually outgained their opponents by an average of 27 ypg! Setting aside the Pitt loss which was somewhat predictable as they headed into that game 4-0, their final 7 losses were by a combined 28pts! They lost to Louisville by 10, while 4 of the other 5 were by a FG, with the last one by 6. As you can see, few plays here or there and we could be talking about a highly touted Bulls team heading into 2012 – trust me on one thing, the sharp handicappers are well aware of this and will take advantage early on this coming season.

-- Strongest unit: Front 7. Five of their top 8 DL return, along with all 3 starters on the second level which will lead to one of the strongest front 7’s in the Big East, if not the best. The unit is led by DeDe Lattimore, a stud WLB who will be on the short list for national awards this year with a strong USF season as he is coming off 94 tackles, 13 tfl, and 7 sacks. There isn’t a weakness in the front 7.

-- Biggest area of concern: Offensive backfield. Senior QB BJ Daniels is back for one more season, and the hope around Tampa is the light will finally go on, and the talented QB will play consistently well this coming campaign. Daniels is very talented, but has struggled at times passing the ball – Holtz has worked with him on film study to help his decision making, and drills to improve his accuracy which they both hope pay off when the real bullets start flying in September. There is perhaps more pressure on Daniels and the passing game because the RB situation isn’t looking strong in the sense of proven returning production – there is talent, but how will they produce is the question.

-- Upside: Double digit wins. Hey, why not? You saw the #’s from last season, so many close losses – who is to say they will not regress back towards the mean, and get all the breaks in 2012? Its surely possible, especially considering the talent they have defensively, and at QB – so long as he can realize it all. Playing in the Big East helps, but playing Miami, FL and Florida State won’t – but USF gets sky high for those matchups and will give both schools all they can handle. FSU comes to Tampa while they visit Miami – that could not have worked out any better.

-- Downside: 8-4. Anything less than an 8 win season will have the folks in Tampa grumbling and unhappy. With 15 starters back, a QB that is entering his 3rd season starting, and all the bad breaks last season, wins are needed and they are needed in bulk.

-- Bottom Line: This has to be the season USF realizes their goals, and wins the Big East and appears in a BCS game finally. Bully on the block WVU is gone, and most other BE programs are re-tooling to say it nicely – USF is the most talented team in the conference, and has to play like it.

Pittsburgh

-- SOP: Another coaching change for the Panthers, this time the short lived tenure of Todd Graham ends – thankfully to most Panther fans – and in steps Paul Chryst, former OC for the Wisconsin Badgers. This move seems like a much better fit, especially football style wise, as Chryst will bring in more of a blue collar, rushing oriented pro style offense back to the Steel City. There is a decent amount of returning talent to work around, especially on offense as the skill positions, but how long will the transition take?

-- Strongest unit: RBs – if all everything RB Ray Graham can return 100% in time for the opener, this unit will be all set to shine – and it’s a key unit for the ’12 Panthers. Backup Isaac Bennett impressed this spring in place of Graham, and 5 star rookie Rushel Shell is also pressing for playing time. If Graham doesn’t come back fully healthy it will still be a talented group, albeit greener & less experienced. The secondary is also extremely solid returning 3 starters and welcoming a pair of former Michigan Wolverines in S Ray Vinopal and CB Cullen Christian.

-- Biggest area of concern: LBs. On a positive note, with the defense shifting back to a 4-3, only 3 LBs will be needed – however, they head into this season losing 4 seniors from last year including all-star and leading tackler Max Gruder. There is also a serious lack of size in the unit, with nobody in the rotation checking in north of 220lbs. That could be a huge issue, especially with a DL that isn’t known for being stout vs. the rush, and in a conference like the Big East.

-- Upside: I do feel there is serious upside for this year’s Panthers, as the new coaching staff by itself will add value and strengthen some of the team’s weaker areas, such as the OL. In a season where this team got the breaks and played consistent, I could see them winning the Big East. But keep in mind during OOC play they face Virginia Tech at home, and travel to Notre Dame so a dream season where they win double digit games is not going to happen – not yet.

-- Downside: the team takes a little longer than hoped adjusting to the massive scheme changes and they miss out on a bowl invite. There is too much experience, especially at key positions such as QB, to have this occur in a likely scenario, but this is the “downside” projection so it is possible, but I wouldn’t say probable.

-- Bottom Line: Pitt is finally on the right track after a series of errors hiring head coaches. Chryst will bring the team back to the city, and the city will resume backing them. This year we should see a competitive Panther team that will be in the mix for a Big East title when November rolls around – so long as they can get solid production from Graham, and they buy into the new system.

Louisville

-- SOP: Hard to imagine there is a better situated program in the Big East than Louisville, who is now entering year 3 under Charlie Strong. Coming off a three way tie atop the Big East standings in 2011, led by an electric freshman QB Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals look to keep that strong play going – and the recruiting Strong is accomplishing certainly will make that task all the easier. With West Virginia out of the picture, a team they have lost to 4 of the last 5 years, they along with USF now appear to be the top dogs in the conference – until further reshuffling takes place.

-- Strongest unit: Defense. This unit returns 8 starters from 2011 and appears firmly on track to be the top defense in the Big East. All three levels are solid, led by the front 7 that helped guide Louisville to the #10 vs. rush and #21 sacks rated defense in the country. Although the secondary has a lot of talent, it underperformed some last year yielding twice as many TD passes as INTs – however, with a year of experience under their belt, that unit should only improve this season.

-- Biggest area of concern: RB & Special Teams. Aside from the ST unit breaking in a new P & PK, and the fact Ville was last in the Big East last season in kick coverage, the RB unit is a cause for concern as there is no feature back on the roster, and the staff would far prefer to use one workhorse vs. a committee. The Cardinals only averaged 3.4 yards per carry last season, a # that must increase for them to challenge for a Big East title.

-- Upside: 9-3, Big East title. Playing in the Big East means 5 OOC games, an area Louisville rarely doesn’t challenge itself in – and this season is no different with matchups vs. Kentucky, North Carolina and @ Southern Mississippi. Their BE campaign kicks-off October 13th @ Pitt, but only features 3 road games with @ Syracuse & Rutgers being the other two. Conference wise it’s a favorable slate that could lead to a Big East title.

-- Downside: 7-5, low level bowl bid. The other side of playing a strong OOC slate is the fact you could lose a few games that you could have won with different, easier scheduling – which could happen the Ville this year. This scenario assumes a 3-2 OOC record, with a 4-3 Big East slate losing to Pitt, USF and Rutgers.

-- Bottom Line: Louisville clearly made the right hire with Charlie Strong, hard to argue with his results thus far. With sophomore QB Bridgewater leading the offense, and a strong defense that returns most of its key pieces from 2011, a Big East title and BCS bowl bid are the end goals in Cardinal Country. At the end of the day, although I feel they will challenge and be in the mix, they will fall just short of a conference championship, but it will be another solid season and potentially something big could be in the cards for 2013/2014, depending on conference affiliation.
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08/22/2012 12:16 PM
SEC Notes

August 21, 2012

--Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips has named sophomore Maxwell Smith as the team’s starting quarterback. Smith played in eight games as a true freshman, starting in three of those contests. He completed 84-of-153 passes (54.9%) for 819 yards with a 4/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Smith beat out senior Morgan Newton, who missed the spring with a shoulder injury. The Wildcats open the year on Sept. 2 at Louisville as 14-point underdogs.

--The QB situations at Auburn and Florida are still unresolved. It’s a two-man battle in Gainesville between fellow true sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Driskel has been held out of contact the last week due to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. The injury isn’t serious but you would think it has probably given Brissett the slight edge for now. Both QBs were extremely ineffective when forced into action last year due to injuries to John Brantley. The Gators open Sept. 1 vs. Bowling Green as 29-point home favorites.

--Gene Chizik hasn’t made up his mind between junior Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier. Moseley got more playing time in 2011, connecting on 61.1 percent of his passes for 800 yards with a 5/3 TD-INT ratio. Frazier rushed for more than 300 yards and three TDs, but he completed just 5-of-12 passes for 34 yards without a score and two interceptions. Auburn will open against Clemson as three-point underdogs (minus-115 price on AU) at the Ga. Dome. Clemson star WR Sammy Watkins is suspended and will not dress in Atlanta.

--Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson completed 22-of-37 passes for 252 yards and three TDs at Saturday’s scrimmage. Cobi Hamilton, who is poised for a breakout campaign following the departures of Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright, caught 11 balls for 165 yards and a pair of TDs.

--South Carolina starting senior CB Akeem Auguste is out indefinitely (at least 4-5 weeks) with a torn muscle in his thigh suffered in Saturday’s scrimmage. Also, redshirt RB Shon Carson has sustained another injury that could be a season-ender. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, they have Marcus Lattimore back at 100 percent along with Kenny Miles and Brandon Wilds, both of whom performed extremely well in Lattimore’s absence last season. The ‘Cocks are currently seven-point favorites for next Thursday’s game at Vanderbilt.

--After playing QB last season and WR in the spring, Ole Miss senior Randall Mackey has settled at the running back position behind Jeff Scott. Mackey has plenty of speed and playmaking ability for new head coach Hugh Freeze.

--Don’t be surprised if Alabama freshman RB T.J. Yeldon gets touches galore in the season opener vs. Michigan at Cowboys Stadium. The Crimson Tide is favored by 12 ½ against the Wolverines. The total is 42 ½ at a few offshore books and I like it to go ‘over’ if that total remains in the low 40s.

--Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has named redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel as his starting QB for the squad’s opener next Thursday against La. Tech in Shreveport. The Aggies are 7 ½-point favorites against the Bulldogs.

--Tennessee is struggling with injuries at the TE position. Senior starter Mychal Rivera, who had 29 receptions for 344 yards and one TD last year, has missed most of camp with a knee injury. The injury is not considered serious and he’s ‘probable’ to start next Friday at the Ga. Dome vs. N.C. St. However, his back-up Cameron Clear has been dismissed from the team and Brendan Down is most likely out for the year (knee). The Vols are four-point favorites vs. the Wolfpack.

--UF also has issues at tight end. Rising sophomore A.C. Leonard left the program about a month ago and then Colin Thompson went down with a foot injury earlier this week. Thompson is expected to have surgery Wednesday and miss at least eight weeks. Jordan Reed is the starter but has been hobbled this week with a twisted knee.

--The nation’s No. 1 prep recruit in the 2012 class, Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham, continues to turn heads in Columbia. Also, James Franklin’s surgically-repaired shoulder has looked just fine. On the flip side, the Tigers are struggling with injuries on the offensive line. Nevertheless, they have a great chance at shaking up the SEC East race in their league debut against Georgia on Sept. 8 due to a number of issues in Athens. (see below)

--Georgia is going to be without four suspended starters on defense for its opener against Buffalo and its Week 2 trip to Missouri. All-American safety Baccari Rambo is suspended for four games, while LB Alec Ogletree, LB Chase Vasser and CB Sanders Commings will miss UGA’s first two contests. The trio of Ogletree, Rambo and Commings combined for more than 160 tackles, four sacks, 8 ½ tackles for losses, 22 passes broken up, nine interceptions and eight QB hurries last year. Also, 2011 leading rusher Isaiah Crowell has been dismissed from the team and starting OT Kolston Houston remains in NCAA limbo.

--Sportsbook.ag is currently showing Alabama and LSU with 5/1 and 6/1 odds, respectively, to win the BCS Championship Game. LSU was at plus-350 or 4/1 at most spots before the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu. Not only has LSU's future odds been adjusted, but it has also seen its numbers change for Games of the Year. For instance, the Tigers are now just three-point favorites at Florida and two-point 'chalk' at Arkansas.

--Sportsbook.ag is currently showing these future numbers to win the SEC:
Alabama +160 (risk $100 to win $160)
LSU +225
Georgia +450
Florida +600 (6/1)
Arkansas 10/1
South Carolina 12/1
Tennessee 25/1
Missouri 60/1
Texas A&M 75/1
Mississippi St. 75/1
Auburn 75/1
Vanderbilt 100/1
Kentucky 100/1
Ole Miss 100/1

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08/22/2012 12:18 PM
Grading the coaching hires

August 22, 2012


With Week 1 just a week away, it’s time to grade the new head-coaching hires across the country. We do so in no particular order…

Urban Meyer: (Ohio State) – (By the way, I called this one the day Meyer resigned for a second time at Florida. Granted, I was off by a year but we didn't know about Jim Tressel's woes at the time.) When it comes to recruiting and motivating, Urban Meyer is as good as any coach in America, including Nick Saban. However, in his insatiable drive to build a dynasty at Florida, Meyer lost his way, his health and nearly his family. Was one season away enough to recharge the batteries? Will the drive to bring the Buckeyes back from NCAA sanctions eat him up like the grind of the SEC did? Only time will tell. But there’s no doubt that Ohio St. made a great choice. I’m not sure how the Bucks will fare this year but I expect them to be perennial national-title contenders starting in 2014, possibly 2013. Grading the hire: A+

Kevin Sumlin: (Texas A&M) - I’ve seen many new head coaches get eaten up by the bright lights and glare of SEC Media Days. Sumlin handled the press with poise, composure and intellect in Birmingham. How does that translate to success on Saturdays? I have no clue, but I was impressed nonetheless. Sumlin engineered a high-octane passing attack at Houston, helping the Cougars to a 13-1 record last year and a 10-4 mark in 2009. He’ll be breaking in a new quarterback this fall in College Station and the Aggies will be entering a brutal league, so Sumlin will get high marks if he can get A&M to a bowl game. With prep players in Texas now able to stay home and play in the SEC, the Aggies should thrive on the recruiting trail. Before his first snap as Texas A&M’s head coach, Sumlin looks like the right man to lead this program to success in the future. Grading the hire: B+

Hugh Freeze: His rise to stardom has been rapid, going from a high school coach in 2004 to the head man at an SEC school less than a decade later. Freeze was Ed Orgeron’s recruiting coordinator at Ole Miss from 2005-2007 when the school landed future NFL players like Michael Oher, Greg Hardy, Peria Jerry, Mike Wallace and Dexter McCluster. Freeze became just the 14th FBS coach to win 10 games in his first season last year at Arkansas St. He has a Herculean task in Oxford and it will certainly take time, but the 42-year-old Freeze, who is a native Mississippian, appears to be a good fit with the Rebels. Grading the hire: B

Tim Beckman: The former Toledo coach inherits a decent situation with Illinois bringing back seven starters on each side of the ball. I won’t pretend as if I watched all 13 of the Rockets’ games last year, but I saw enough to sour on this hire. Beckman inexplicably left all three timeouts in his pocket of a 63-60 home loss to No. Illinois when the Huskies were bleeding the clock in the final minute of the game-winning drive. Also, we saw Beckman and his staff flock to State College like vultures in a feeding frenzy. (Our stance on ‘recruiting’ PSU players is that it’s only ok if they reach out to you.) Perhaps Beckman will change my mind on him in time, but I’m not a fan for now. Grading the hire: D

Ellis Johnson: (Southern Miss) - Talk about winning over the home folks at the intro presser! Question: Coach Johnson, do you have the type of energy needed at the age of 60 to take on this job? Answer: “My energy level is great. My wife hasn’t complained.” Johnson has been one of the main reasons for South Carolina’s success the last four years, running defenses that have produced NFL players galore. This is Johnson’s third run as a head coach after tours at Gardner-Webb and The Citadel. He tabbed veteran HC Tommy West as his d-coordinator and former Louisiana HC Ricky Bustler to run the offense. Grading the hire: B

Bill O’Brien: (Penn State) – The former Patriots offensive coordinator knew he was walking into a tough situation, but there’s no way he had any clue it would be this bad. And there’s no way O’Brien takes the job if he thought the penalties would be anywhere in the neighborhood of four years of no postseason and crippling scholarship reductions. Nevertheless, that’s where the Nittany Lions are today and you have to commend the manner in which O’Brien has gone about his business since the unprecedented sanctions were announced. My thinking is that he may stick it out if he can keep this solid 2013 recruiting class together. But if he doesn’t, this space certainly won’t judge him negatively. Obviously, he faces more challenges than any HC in America over the next 4-5 years. Grading the hire: B+

Larry Fedora: I think the former So. Miss head coach is an ideal fit in Chapel Hill. His pedigree as an offensive coordinator is extremely impressive, leading Florida to the SEC’s top offense when Chris Leak was a sophomore in 2004. Then he got high marks for his work at Oklahoma St. under Mike Gundy before taking the job in Hattiesburg. In his first taste of a head-coaching gig, Fedora led the Golden Eagles to four consecutive bowl games and one Conference USA title. Fedora should have a solid team starting this year. Grading the hire: A-

Bob Davie: (New Mexico) – I guess they’re trying to compete for the worst back-to-back hires in NCAA history. Mike Locksley had quite a run in Albuquerque, going 1-11 twice before getting fired while winless in 2011. Along the way, Locksley was accused of sexually harassing a secretary and assaulting an assistant coach. The final straw was giving the keys to his SUV to a recruit who got into a wreck and was arrested for DWI. Now the Lobos turn to Davie, who had a disastrous four-year tenure at Notre Dame before spending a decade in the TV booth chafin’ football fans every Saturday. This should be comical but let’s hope Davie sticks around at least four years to prevent him from getting another broadcasting job. Grading the hire: F

Todd Graham (Arizona St.) – Introducing the new version of Bobby Petrino, Todd Graham, who held three jobs from January of 2011 to January of 2012. He’s now bolted on Rice and Pitt after just one year on the job. Therefore, Graham better have success at ASU, which was poised to hire June Jones before that deal fell apart at the last minute. Graham has his work cut out for him in Tempe, but you can win at this program. He’s gone the JUCO route to try to fix things quick. Grading the hire: C

Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) – R-Rod enjoyed nothing but success in offensive-coordinator roles at Tulane and Clemson under Tommy Bowden before accepting his dream job at West Virginia. He had the Mountaineers one game away from playing for the national title before losing to Pitt at home as 28 ½-point favorites in 2007. Then Rodriguez made a horrible decision. One year after turning down the Alabama job, he accepted the gig at Michigan, which was a terrible fit from the beginning. R-Rod tried to change everything at the history-rich program and failed miserably. In three years, the Wolverines limped to an atrocious 15-22 record before sending R-Rod packing via pink slip. He has taken a year off and now moves West to Arizona to replace Mike Stoops. Will his spread offense turn magical again in Tucson, or will the West Va. native with mountain roots flame out in the desert? Grading the hire: B

Charlie Weis (Kansas) – The former Notre Dame head coach gets another shot at a school that’s had zero success over the last several decades other than a nice run under Mark Mangino. Although injuries to senior QB John Brantley were the crust of Florida’s offensive struggles last year, you couldn’t help but slightly point a finger at Weis for such anemic production. Unless he changes my mind at KU, I’ve decided that Weis is an excellent o-coordinator but a mediocre head coach. Grading the hire: D+

Norm Chow (Hawaii) – When Chow was running high-flying offenses at USC early in Pete Carroll’s dynastic roll, it seemed he was poised to get a head-coaching job every off-season. Yet no offers came and then it appeared as if Chow’s late career was going to consist of bouncing around from one job to the next. Finally, the Honolulu-born Chow has his first head-coaching job after 39 years as an assistant in college and the NFL. Things will be tougher for the Warriors moving into the Mountain West this year, but I think they have a solid coach for the next half-dozen years. Grading the hire: B

Tony Levine: (Houston) – Kevin Sumlin won 36 games in four years at Houston despite losing his top two QBs in a 5-7 campaign in 2010. Therefore, Levine has big shoes to fill and the school’s all-time leading passer (Case Keenum) to replace. He led the Cougars to a 30-14 win over Penn St. at the TicketCity Bowl. Levine’s background is as a special-teams coordinator in the NFL and college ranks. He’s been at Houston since 2008 and was the assistant HC the last two seasons. Levine will benefit from that injury-plagued 2010 campaign because third-year sophomore QB David Piland, who redshirted upon Keenum’s return last season, is back after throwing 24 TD passes as a true freshman. Grading the hire: C

Kyle Flood (Rutgers) – First of all, let’s state with authority that RU should hurry up and build a statue in honor of Greg Schiano, who turned this program from the nation’s worst to a perennial Big East contender that went to six bowl games the last seven years. Flood has a monumental task replacing Schiano, who spent 11 years with the Scarlet Knights before taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job. Flood has been at RU since 2007, serving as co-offensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010. His first team has a chance to win the league and possibly improve on last season’s 9-win total. From a gambling standpoint, look to back Rutgers as a double-digit road underdog at Arkansas on Sept. 22 IF – and only IF – the Razorbacks upset Alabama the week before to make this a classic letdown spot for the Hogs. Grading the hire: C+

Paul Chryst: (Pittsburgh) – The former Wisconsin o-coordinator has been directing dynamite offenses at Camp Randall since 2005. Most of those units were based on a power running game with talented backs working behind mammoth offensive lines. However, Chryst showed us what he could do through the air with a QB he trusted (Russell Wilson) last year. He inherits a fragile group of players at Pitt that have had five different head coaches in the last 15 games. Dave Wannstedt and Mike Haywood got fired, Todd Graham bolted after a year, while Phil Bennett and Keith Patterson coached one bowl game apiece in interim roles. With all that said, the Panthers have a better-than-decent chance in the Big East this year, especially if RB Ray Graham can return to 100 percent after tearing his ACL in late October. Grading the hire: B+

Other notable new head coaches include Gus Malzahn (Arkansas St.), Terry Bowden (Akron), Jim McElwain (Colorado St.) and Garrick McGee (UAB).

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Georgia St. head coach Bill Curry, who will turn 70 in October, has announced that he’ll retire at the end of the 2012 season. Curry previously coached at Kentucky, Alabama and Ga. Tech.

--Because of their ties to the Arkansas program, Malzahn and McGee could be one-and-doners at their new schools if the Hogs come calling following the 2012 campaign.

--Guess who else is on Akron’s campus these days besides Bowden, the former coach at Auburn? Well, there’s fundraiser Jim Tressel of Ohio St. fame and Bowden’s top assistant, Chuck Amato, the former HC at N.C. St. who worked under Terry’s Daddy for so many years at FSU.

--Trivia: I noted how Keenum is the all-time leading passer at Houston now. There are several quality candidates for second and third in passing for the Cougars. Who are they? Answer: 2nd: Kevin Kolb; 3rd: David Klingler. Since Phil Steele’s magazine only goes three-deep with this stat, we’re left to assume that Andre Ware is fourth.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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08/22/2012 12:18 PM
Grading the coaching hires

August 22, 2012


With Week 1 just a week away, it’s time to grade the new head-coaching hires across the country. We do so in no particular order…

Urban Meyer: (Ohio State) – (By the way, I called this one the day Meyer resigned for a second time at Florida. Granted, I was off by a year but we didn't know about Jim Tressel's woes at the time.) When it comes to recruiting and motivating, Urban Meyer is as good as any coach in America, including Nick Saban. However, in his insatiable drive to build a dynasty at Florida, Meyer lost his way, his health and nearly his family. Was one season away enough to recharge the batteries? Will the drive to bring the Buckeyes back from NCAA sanctions eat him up like the grind of the SEC did? Only time will tell. But there’s no doubt that Ohio St. made a great choice. I’m not sure how the Bucks will fare this year but I expect them to be perennial national-title contenders starting in 2014, possibly 2013. Grading the hire: A+

Kevin Sumlin: (Texas A&M) - I’ve seen many new head coaches get eaten up by the bright lights and glare of SEC Media Days. Sumlin handled the press with poise, composure and intellect in Birmingham. How does that translate to success on Saturdays? I have no clue, but I was impressed nonetheless. Sumlin engineered a high-octane passing attack at Houston, helping the Cougars to a 13-1 record last year and a 10-4 mark in 2009. He’ll be breaking in a new quarterback this fall in College Station and the Aggies will be entering a brutal league, so Sumlin will get high marks if he can get A&M to a bowl game. With prep players in Texas now able to stay home and play in the SEC, the Aggies should thrive on the recruiting trail. Before his first snap as Texas A&M’s head coach, Sumlin looks like the right man to lead this program to success in the future. Grading the hire: B+

Hugh Freeze: His rise to stardom has been rapid, going from a high school coach in 2004 to the head man at an SEC school less than a decade later. Freeze was Ed Orgeron’s recruiting coordinator at Ole Miss from 2005-2007 when the school landed future NFL players like Michael Oher, Greg Hardy, Peria Jerry, Mike Wallace and Dexter McCluster. Freeze became just the 14th FBS coach to win 10 games in his first season last year at Arkansas St. He has a Herculean task in Oxford and it will certainly take time, but the 42-year-old Freeze, who is a native Mississippian, appears to be a good fit with the Rebels. Grading the hire: B

Tim Beckman: The former Toledo coach inherits a decent situation with Illinois bringing back seven starters on each side of the ball. I won’t pretend as if I watched all 13 of the Rockets’ games last year, but I saw enough to sour on this hire. Beckman inexplicably left all three timeouts in his pocket of a 63-60 home loss to No. Illinois when the Huskies were bleeding the clock in the final minute of the game-winning drive. Also, we saw Beckman and his staff flock to State College like vultures in a feeding frenzy. (Our stance on ‘recruiting’ PSU players is that it’s only ok if they reach out to you.) Perhaps Beckman will change my mind on him in time, but I’m not a fan for now. Grading the hire: D

Ellis Johnson: (Southern Miss) - Talk about winning over the home folks at the intro presser! Question: Coach Johnson, do you have the type of energy needed at the age of 60 to take on this job? Answer: “My energy level is great. My wife hasn’t complained.” Johnson has been one of the main reasons for South Carolina’s success the last four years, running defenses that have produced NFL players galore. This is Johnson’s third run as a head coach after tours at Gardner-Webb and The Citadel. He tabbed veteran HC Tommy West as his d-coordinator and former Louisiana HC Ricky Bustler to run the offense. Grading the hire: B

Bill O’Brien: (Penn State) – The former Patriots offensive coordinator knew he was walking into a tough situation, but there’s no way he had any clue it would be this bad. And there’s no way O’Brien takes the job if he thought the penalties would be anywhere in the neighborhood of four years of no postseason and crippling scholarship reductions. Nevertheless, that’s where the Nittany Lions are today and you have to commend the manner in which O’Brien has gone about his business since the unprecedented sanctions were announced. My thinking is that he may stick it out if he can keep this solid 2013 recruiting class together. But if he doesn’t, this space certainly won’t judge him negatively. Obviously, he faces more challenges than any HC in America over the next 4-5 years. Grading the hire: B+

Larry Fedora: I think the former So. Miss head coach is an ideal fit in Chapel Hill. His pedigree as an offensive coordinator is extremely impressive, leading Florida to the SEC’s top offense when Chris Leak was a sophomore in 2004. Then he got high marks for his work at Oklahoma St. under Mike Gundy before taking the job in Hattiesburg. In his first taste of a head-coaching gig, Fedora led the Golden Eagles to four consecutive bowl games and one Conference USA title. Fedora should have a solid team starting this year. Grading the hire: A-

Bob Davie: (New Mexico) – I guess they’re trying to compete for the worst back-to-back hires in NCAA history. Mike Locksley had quite a run in Albuquerque, going 1-11 twice before getting fired while winless in 2011. Along the way, Locksley was accused of sexually harassing a secretary and assaulting an assistant coach. The final straw was giving the keys to his SUV to a recruit who got into a wreck and was arrested for DWI. Now the Lobos turn to Davie, who had a disastrous four-year tenure at Notre Dame before spending a decade in the TV booth chafin’ football fans every Saturday. This should be comical but let’s hope Davie sticks around at least four years to prevent him from getting another broadcasting job. Grading the hire: F

Todd Graham (Arizona St.) – Introducing the new version of Bobby Petrino, Todd Graham, who held three jobs from January of 2011 to January of 2012. He’s now bolted on Rice and Pitt after just one year on the job. Therefore, Graham better have success at ASU, which was poised to hire June Jones before that deal fell apart at the last minute. Graham has his work cut out for him in Tempe, but you can win at this program. He’s gone the JUCO route to try to fix things quick. Grading the hire: C

Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) – R-Rod enjoyed nothing but success in offensive-coordinator roles at Tulane and Clemson under Tommy Bowden before accepting his dream job at West Virginia. He had the Mountaineers one game away from playing for the national title before losing to Pitt at home as 28 ½-point favorites in 2007. Then Rodriguez made a horrible decision. One year after turning down the Alabama job, he accepted the gig at Michigan, which was a terrible fit from the beginning. R-Rod tried to change everything at the history-rich program and failed miserably. In three years, the Wolverines limped to an atrocious 15-22 record before sending R-Rod packing via pink slip. He has taken a year off and now moves West to Arizona to replace Mike Stoops. Will his spread offense turn magical again in Tucson, or will the West Va. native with mountain roots flame out in the desert? Grading the hire: B

Charlie Weis (Kansas) – The former Notre Dame head coach gets another shot at a school that’s had zero success over the last several decades other than a nice run under Mark Mangino. Although injuries to senior QB John Brantley were the crust of Florida’s offensive struggles last year, you couldn’t help but slightly point a finger at Weis for such anemic production. Unless he changes my mind at KU, I’ve decided that Weis is an excellent o-coordinator but a mediocre head coach. Grading the hire: D+

Norm Chow (Hawaii) – When Chow was running high-flying offenses at USC early in Pete Carroll’s dynastic roll, it seemed he was poised to get a head-coaching job every off-season. Yet no offers came and then it appeared as if Chow’s late career was going to consist of bouncing around from one job to the next. Finally, the Honolulu-born Chow has his first head-coaching job after 39 years as an assistant in college and the NFL. Things will be tougher for the Warriors moving into the Mountain West this year, but I think they have a solid coach for the next half-dozen years. Grading the hire: B

Tony Levine: (Houston) – Kevin Sumlin won 36 games in four years at Houston despite losing his top two QBs in a 5-7 campaign in 2010. Therefore, Levine has big shoes to fill and the school’s all-time leading passer (Case Keenum) to replace. He led the Cougars to a 30-14 win over Penn St. at the TicketCity Bowl. Levine’s background is as a special-teams coordinator in the NFL and college ranks. He’s been at Houston since 2008 and was the assistant HC the last two seasons. Levine will benefit from that injury-plagued 2010 campaign because third-year sophomore QB David Piland, who redshirted upon Keenum’s return last season, is back after throwing 24 TD passes as a true freshman. Grading the hire: C

Kyle Flood (Rutgers) – First of all, let’s state with authority that RU should hurry up and build a statue in honor of Greg Schiano, who turned this program from the nation’s worst to a perennial Big East contender that went to six bowl games the last seven years. Flood has a monumental task replacing Schiano, who spent 11 years with the Scarlet Knights before taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job. Flood has been at RU since 2007, serving as co-offensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010. His first team has a chance to win the league and possibly improve on last season’s 9-win total. From a gambling standpoint, look to back Rutgers as a double-digit road underdog at Arkansas on Sept. 22 IF – and only IF – the Razorbacks upset Alabama the week before to make this a classic letdown spot for the Hogs. Grading the hire: C+

Paul Chryst: (Pittsburgh) – The former Wisconsin o-coordinator has been directing dynamite offenses at Camp Randall since 2005. Most of those units were based on a power running game with talented backs working behind mammoth offensive lines. However, Chryst showed us what he could do through the air with a QB he trusted (Russell Wilson) last year. He inherits a fragile group of players at Pitt that have had five different head coaches in the last 15 games. Dave Wannstedt and Mike Haywood got fired, Todd Graham bolted after a year, while Phil Bennett and Keith Patterson coached one bowl game apiece in interim roles. With all that said, the Panthers have a better-than-decent chance in the Big East this year, especially if RB Ray Graham can return to 100 percent after tearing his ACL in late October. Grading the hire: B+

Other notable new head coaches include Gus Malzahn (Arkansas St.), Terry Bowden (Akron), Jim McElwain (Colorado St.) and Garrick McGee (UAB).

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Georgia St. head coach Bill Curry, who will turn 70 in October, has announced that he’ll retire at the end of the 2012 season. Curry previously coached at Kentucky, Alabama and Ga. Tech.

--Because of their ties to the Arkansas program, Malzahn and McGee could be one-and-doners at their new schools if the Hogs come calling following the 2012 campaign.

--Guess who else is on Akron’s campus these days besides Bowden, the former coach at Auburn? Well, there’s fundraiser Jim Tressel of Ohio St. fame and Bowden’s top assistant, Chuck Amato, the former HC at N.C. St. who worked under Terry’s Daddy for so many years at FSU.

--Trivia: I noted how Keenum is the all-time leading passer at Houston now. There are several quality candidates for second and third in passing for the Cougars. Who are they? Answer: 2nd: Kevin Kolb; 3rd: David Klingler. Since Phil Steele’s magazine only goes three-deep with this stat, we’re left to assume that Andre Ware is fourth.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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