The Grand National Championships

June 29, 2010

Love, Hope, and College Football Gimmicks.

Though in fairness? If it’s a well-regarded post, it’s not a gimmick. For those of you who just got here. The rules of this post are simple. There are 120 teams. And there are reasons to love each and every one of them.

These can be empirical, these can be whimsical. Sometimes? They can even seem irrational. But it’s all good. Something for everybody and whatnot.

ACTION FORCE GO!

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Atlantic Coast
Boston College
: There always seems to be a legit talent in the recent history of  the Eagles. From Matty Ice to B.J. Raji to this years tag team at linebacker? There’s always a reason why the Eagles will kick a little ass in the ACC. This year you get the Freshman sensation Luke Kuechly’s sequel in conjunction with Mark Herzlich. If he doesn’t inspire you by playing football after breaking bad? I have no time for you.
Clemson: The X-Factor for Clemson will most likely be their Corico Vision. For you see? Their secondary is badass. Their defensive line is badass. The linebackers? Brandon Maye is badass. But Corico Hawkins needs to step up if their defense is going to rival…
Duke: At a brocentric school like Duke, there is a semblance of hope that with the considerably lowered entry for a bowl game, and the experienced offense, there could be a Bro trip to a locale like Albuquerque, Boise, or St. Petersburg. Now while I won’t tell such brochachos to reserve their tickets, I will say that Desmond Scott will run the ball for many yards. And bros, that’s a good thing.
Florida State: You want to know the reason why I shed no tears for Bobby Bowden? He had an electrifying athlete who was looking like a shutdown cornerback? And he didn’t start him. Greg Reid was never more than a return man and a nickel back. You cannot be blinded by a cool name like Ochuko Jenije. Best 11 on the field, son.
Georgia Tech: You would think that an inside running beast like Jonathan Dwyer would not be easily replaced. In this instance, you would be mistaken. Anthony Allen has a chip on his shoulder. And he will make every defender feel his pain about being ditched with Steve Kragthorpe.
Maryland: Sometimes, the premise of Linebacker U is something of a misnomer. After all, teams have 3 or 4 of them. And usually only one is interesting. But in the decade of the Fridgening? Maryland has been able to generate quality defenders at linebacker. And while Maryland is a lot worse nowadays? Alex Wujciak is a linebacker that belongs in the beginning of the decade.
Miami (FL) : Doppler 3000 has issued a weather alert for all ACC Backfields. There’s a Storm coming. And with a backfield in some disarray, he has an opportunity to do damage quickly. He may either have been named after an X-Men or random bad weather, but Storm Johnson has a potential to be severe. Yeah. Sorry about that.
N.C. State: If you’re looking for an interesting sleeper candidate for a professional wideout? Jarvis Williams is your man. He’s big and rangy and every fourth catch of his last year? It went for a touchdown. That’s Cris Carterish amateurism.
North Carolina: You want to see a team do an impression of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens? The Tar Heels are your team. On offense, they are stuck with the irrelevant joke of an offensive coordinatior in John Shoop. But on defense? Oh mama. Deep, talented, and experienced. There will be at least six prospects that will dot NFL teams draft boards that will be gone by the third round. (Robert Quinn-DE, Marvin Austin-DT, Bruce Carter-OLB, Quan Sturdivant-OLB, Kendric Burney-CB, Charles Brown-CB, and Deunta Williams-FS). Add in Tydreke Powell-DT and Quentin Coples-DE as juniors with tremendous upside potential and you won’t see many teams getting to 20 against the Heels.

A long way to say, yay defense I know, but they probably could defend on a professional level this year. And only Clemson could come close in-conference.
Virginia: Sometimes with a team of little regard, there’s one bright shiny superstar. For the Cavaliers, whose strength is in an experienced offensive line and Ras-I Dowling, it fits this archetype perfectly. Because Ras-I is big and rangy.
Virginia Tech: Now while the Hokies have a running back tag team that some would consider to be as deadly as Christian Okoye and Barry Word from back in the day and an emerging dual threat in Tyrod Taylor. I’m not here for that. They’ve recruited another awesome name.  From the people who brought you Ju-Ju Clayton, it’s E.L. Smiling! It’s a name that makes you think of keebler and white teeth! And he’s rangy too!
Wake Forest: You wouldn’t normally look upon a Demon Deacon as something akin to hip-hop. After all? The most famous alumnus that I can think of is Tim Duncan. And as bros go, he is most definitely chill. But the nose guard Ramon Booi? This kid is definitively hip-hop. He will turn many P.A. announcers into annoying hypemen.

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Big 12
Baylor
: The significant thing is that you get Robert Griffin back and healthy. He’s the sort of threat that makes the Baylor running game a nightmare to slow down. And when you throw in a potential Terrence Cody impersonator in Phil Taylor locking down the other side of the field? A Vanderbilt-esque bowl run is not out of the question. (The schedule’s a wee bit back loaded.)
Colorado: A highly touted linebacker with a ready-made nickname is ready to step back into the breach. Jon Major is in year two coming off of an ACL injury which forced the hand of the Buffaloes. They used seven linebackers for three spots last year. The prime minister should solve that whole to do,
Iowa State: Some people thought I was mad for saying that Iowa State had a window of opportunity for success. I take the general apathy toward my blog as an apology. For an encore? A healthier receiving corp with Lonzie Range and Darius Reynolds portend a stronger offense. Replacing Army with Utah? Portends a December without a bowl.
Kansas: This is what you get for firing Mark Mangino. Yeah, his methods may have been old school. But guess what? You’re gonna be in Conference USA next year. Nobody wants a great college basketball program. They want a possibly insane football coach. Lew Perkins, you have made this bed, and now Rock Chalk has to lie in it.
Kansas State: Now sometimes I have this long spiel and sometimes I attempt humor. One team gets nothing. But sometimes? It’s as simple as the fact that the leading rusher returns. For K-State Daniel Thomas returns. And I give him an entry as boring as his name. Not his game.
Missouri: There’s history and tradition in the previous decade of quality play at quarterback at Missouri. From Brad Smith and Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert has been handed the reins of an offense on the grow. And when you consider his pedigree, there is no reason not to suspect he can’t have a greater level of success. That’s why Derrick Washington is the reason to love these Tigers.
Nebraska: The team that looks to be destroying their conference will be destroying random offensive lines with the blood lines of Baker Steinkuhler and the best name for an 1890’s society woman to say “Well, I never” to in a Mister Jared Crick. Add in the royalty of Prince Amukamara, and you have the perfect heel team for fans of the Big 12. They’re threatening to take the strap with them on to bigger and better things.
Oklahoma: If you want the team that will likely lose the National Championship game? Go to Norman. They have excellent triplets in Jones-Murray-Broyles, with good depth behind them. Add in some nice pieces on defense in Jeremy Beal and Travis Lewis? You can see this team roll through the regular season. And since it’s a Bob Stoops team? BCS death.
Oklahoma State: Kendall Hunter is what you would consider an unselfish bro. Keith Toston was desperate to develop some sort of professional resume. And Mr. Hunter was all like relax, leave it to me. One ankle injury later and Toston was poston defenders.

…yeah. I’m sorry too. But the fact of the matter is that because Kendall Hunter’s ankle decided to move aside, he gets all the carries that he can handle. Your mileage may vary on if it’s a good thing.
Texas: It takes a special talent to see the field as a freshman at a program such as Texas. But Jackson Jeffcoat has the blood lines of a professional as well as the opportunity to roll up on some suckers right quick. All he has to do is beat out Chike’s cousin Alex Okeafor. It can be done.
Texas A&M: There is nothing as appealing and straight up badass as a dude who racks up sacks. And the Aggies? They’ve got themselves a winner in Von Miller. He racked up 17 sacks with a defensive line where he was in fact the only thing you had to watch out for. I’m not invoking Freeney here, but that’s a job skill that can make you millions.
Texas Tech: Mike Leach probably recruited him for the ironic value of having a Red Baron, but Baron Batch is suddenly the most important man in Lubbock. Tuberville has a bit of the riverboat gambler in him, so he won’t totally get away from what Leach has done, but the Red Baron is going to be eluding defenders as if they were a Sopwith Camel.

Big East
Cincinnati
:  They may not have the cachet of Pike to Gilyard, but when you consider the fact that Robo-QB always needed to return to the shop for repairs. And in stepped Zach Collaros. And it was good. He gets to have two potential greats to throw to in Armon Binns and hotshot transfer Vidal Hazelton. He also has Isaiah Pead running the ball. I see no possible joke by that name.
Connecticut: It’s Tod-Man. Trucking bros up and down the East Coast with his running back skills. Once a member of a tag team with Andre Dixon, Jordan Todman has the entirety of the run of the carries. And if you consider that this is the school of Donald Brown? If I had to make a wager on somebody getting 2000 yards, the smart money would be on Tod-Man.
Louisville: One might think that after the transfer of Matt Simms, a quarterback of majestic blood lines would not reside in Louisville. They would be wrong. For you see, Adam Froman returns. And he returns with the promise of cased meats from Chicago and competent game management. And he will deliver on one of them.
Pittsburgh: The Midnight Express return to rush the passer. Jonathan Baldwin returns to catch a goodly sum for passes. But for my money? Dion Lewis may have had a lot of carries, but he’s not hunting any sort of college football curse of 370. He’s not going to tear his ACL for an encore. He makes the Panthers fun.
Rutgers: The relationship between DC Jefferson and his key supporting character in Revenge of the Nerds Father has become strained during the recruiting process and preseason practices. A year later? DC is hopeful. And he is ready to contribute to the Tom Savage Passing Attack. And he’ll do some things.
South Florida: Lost in the tragic injuries of Matt Groethe’s injury was the emergence of B.J. Daniels as a strong dual-threat candidate. If the ball is in his hands, the defense has got a problem. Especially when you consider that the offensive line has everybody coming back. There’s a definite chance of 2000 yards passing and 1000 yards rushing for Daniels.
Syracuse: I’m going to keep this simple. They have a strong defensive presence in terms of Doug Hogue. He’s the returning leader in sacks, tackles for loss, and pass break ups. And if Delone Carter has can manage to keep cool? They’ll get a running presence back in the fall. (Though like Mike Williams, I wouldn’t hold my breath.)
West Virginia: Noel Devine is the obvious speed burner of the couch burner’s eye. But for me? Jock Sanders is running a close second.  Decent skills of a running back. Soft hands like a receiver. Speed of a gazelle. The name of an athlete. His exploits are bound to make Morgantown feel joyous.

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Big Ten
Illinois: One word. Twenty-seven syllables. Scheelhaase. The expectations of quarterback play in Champaign have been lowered somewhat considerably with Juice Williams play post Cinderella run. And with Nathan Scheelhasse growing up with a practitioner of the Petrino supersytem? They may not get all the way back, but they may not be in the crater of 2009 again.
Indiana: Darius Willis is a talented running back with a nice combination of speed and power. With a competent offense returning, even after the graduation of Rodger Saffold, his health is the key to bringing Indiana a chance to roll into a bowl game. The non-conference schedule (Towson, at Western Kentucky, Akron, Arkansas State) is the other one.
Iowa: I’m not going to roll up on you with Adrian Clayborn. You don’t need me to tell you that he’s awesome. Ricky Stanzi? You may not think he’s awesome from a cursory look at the stats. But look at the man’s gunslinger Q-rating. It’s astronomical. He plays for America. He plays for the streets. He speaks to the hope Obama once espoused.
Michigan: Not since the days of Tim Biakabutka have the Wolverines had such a slasher cum home run hitter with a fabulous name. Meet Fitzgerald Toussaint. Out for 2009 with a broken collarbone, there is an opening for a runner with real home run power in Rich Rod’s offense. And Youngstown’s finest just might roll out on a sprint through green grass and opportunity.
Michigan State: Greg Jones. He’s a linebacker with boldness and power to his game. With another stank of controversy wafting through the East Lansing football program? He is a steadying force. And we will see him on Sunday next year.
Minnesota: It’s not often where you can lose an Eric Decker and still have a competent receiving corps. But with the athleticism of Troy Stoudermire? There is some promise that if they actually get a quarterback to complete 60% of their passes to Goldy, they will be able to put some points on the board.
Northwestern: I probably shouldn’t be typing this as I am skipping having some semblance of a lunch, but I can’t kelp but think Arby’s when it comes to love and Northwestern. Arby Fields has a certain Tyrell Sutton to his game. Roast beef between the tackles, curly fries on the outside, and hands as soft and cool as a Jamocha shake. I’ll stop now.
Ohio State: Tresselball looks to be as much of a comforting force as a sweatervest on a cool September evening. Terrelle Pryor cannot be keyed on this season. Team Boom-Saine is back and ready to roll. And with the awesome Dane Sanzenbacher ready to catch more passes? You can see this team ready to lose (or win?) another BCS game.
Penn State: We all know that Evan Royster is awesome, and we all know that with a stronger offensive line and an inexperienced quarterback, we’re not going to see this team roll out in a high defenition wild style. Now that being said, I like Silas Redd better than Evan Royster. It’s for obvious reasons.
Purdue: I know it seems as if I’m going to mock someone for not being able to handle Jacory Harris and The U, but Robert Marve has found a tremendous opportunity. Even a down year at Purdue allows a quarterback chances of success in terms of statistics. And spending a winter in West Lafayette after spending a winter in Miami? If Robert Marve does not have a chip on his shoulder he is lazier than I am.
Wisconsin: As a homer? I have to admit the hype of this years team kind of scares me. Not to say that there isn’t a lot to like here. The Badgers look to have a very strong offense with John Clay having a monster season and with Scott Tolzien looking like the best returning passer. But J.J. Watt needs someone else to emerge as sort of awesome as well. It’s the wrong conference to have an inexperienced D-line.

Conference USA
East Carolina
: Dwayne Harris has a chance to develop a special relationship with whoever emerges as the quarterback. He returned three kicks for scores last year and caught 83 passes from Patick Pickney. This year he gets some semblance of the air raid offense with Lincoln Riley calling the plays. Considering the situation the team’s in? He could threaten 130 catches.
Houston: Underrated in the Case Keenum throw the ball all over the field train? The Cougars have two tremendous runners. After Bryce Beall got hurt during the season? Charles Sims came out and won Conference USA’s Freshman of the year award with a decent season running the ball and remarkably soft hands. (70 catches). Sims has a touch of Reggie Bush in him. And they’re gonna be really dangerous because of it.
Marshall: The defense has a real thumper in Mario Harvey. 100-plus tackles and 7 sacks to his credit in 2009 and with Kellen Harris and Vinny Curry along the front seven? This front seven has a chance to be best in breed. The offense on the other hand. They got this interesting recruit to throw the ball around? If only I could remember his name? (Willy Korn).
Memphis: If you want a quarterback with a good omen in his name? Cannon Smith has to be the antithesis of Kale Pick. This Miami Transfer is the best case to improve the Tigers 2-10 record last year. But if he doesn’t… you know who his dad is, right? He’s the CEO of Federal Express and the T. Boone Pickens of this shit. So it’s win win, kid. Win. Win.
Rice: For a team that went into November threatening to join Western Kentucky and Eastern Michigan as a reverse unbeaten, the Owls are downright spry. Last years team was unlucky and young.  This years team returns 20 starters and adds Sam McGuffie to a strong backfield. All right, I’ll say it. The Owls will make a bowl game.
SMU: I know that pass efficiency is not the most accurate of stats. But if you consider the fact that 200 pass attempts is the qualifying number for efficiency rating? Case Keenum was not the best quarterback in Conference USA. It was the Mustangs Kyle Padron. He may have lost Emmanuel Sanders and Shawnbrey McNeal, but he’s got three years of eligibility left. He’s gonna be on draftboards come 2011.
Southern Miss: One of the few teams I have gone to the repeat well upon on multiple occasions was your Golden Eagles. DeAndre Brown is big, rangy, and has the De prefix on the name that just adds a certain piquant flavor to the on-field skills. But they’ve found a defensive counterpart to it as well! Cordarro Law. He’s big. Pass-rushy. And he has a name of a lost Babylonian Code of Conduct. So yay.
Tulane: The portmanteau that makes twelve year old me chuckle the most resides here. Casey Robottom is the leading returning pass catcher for the Green Wave. Previous generations of families were employed as robot butts to the Steam Punk builders in the last generation. It was hard dangerous work. They’re proud of Casey for getting into such a good school.
Tulsa: An unlucky team with an unorthodox full Malzahn styled offense has a chance to be something very interesting. Left Tackle Tyler Holmes should be healthy. And if he’s healthy? G.J. Kinne has a chance to do a real nice Mitch Mustain impression. And Charles Clay? Charles Clay is a real nice thumper.
UAB: The most surprising fact about the Blazers is that quality safety Hiram Atwater is in no way related to badass Denver Bronco Steve Atwater. Hiram hits hard. He covers the field with a quality amount of athleticism. And he makes a lot of plays. Hiram Atwater Senior may have never played the game. But the Sales Rep has brought a strong player into Birmingham.
UCF: I may not be an active trendhunter, but in doing my research, I’ve found something. We are becoming a college football world where the running backs have names of ladies. Christine Michael was the first. But we’ve found two more. One resides in Central Florida. The name? Brynn Harvey. He’s coming off of a thousand yard season.
UTEP: The cultural irrelevancy of conference USA can be locked down to a late night game in El Paso last September. Donald Buckram went off for 262 yards versus the Houston Cougars and helped UTEP get 58 on the then #12 Cougars. Blame him for the lack of interest in Houston going to the Big 12. Blame him for no run for the BCS for the conference. And blame him for keeping Mike Price from being fired.

Independents (FBS)
Army: They went into the last game of 2009 needing a win to qualify for a bowl game.  And all credit goes to Trent Steelman. His talent does not matter. The name implies that he is the sort of gunslinger who is just having fun out there. And he deserves to be treated as such.
Navy: If you could have someone considered to be a service academy NFL Draft prospect? You need to get hyped for Jabaree Tuani. To be a 3-4 defensive end that’s about 4 inches and 30 pounds below your standard issue prospect and find yourself being a real disruptive force is impressive. To do it as a Sophomore is amazing.
Notre Dame: Have you ever been to Braxston Cave? If not you should go. It houses a lot of bats. Blitzing stalactites and stalagmites. But if you go? Be careful. You may roll up and find yourself getting iced.

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Mid-American
Akron: They always say that great writers steal, and from Matt Sussman I will bestow my entry for the Zips. Their quarterback is named Pat Nicely, which is the standard for the Minnesota State Patrol. (An aside: I do enjoy players whose name could be considered a sentence. So yeah. Whoo.)
Ball State: Ball State returns every starter on offense from last years team that went the top of the mountain to 2-10. Stan Parrish believes in Kelly Page as much as you could believe in any quarterback with a girls name.  And with a veteran offensive line and the return of MiQuale Lewis? They will at the very least put multiple points upon the scoreboard.
Bowling Green: The pic-a-nic baskets around Bowling Green, Ohio will be in danger as we come through this summer. The reason? “Booboo” Gates. He’s a freshman with the wheels that have allowed him to terrorize Jellystone Park for the better part of six decades now. Just so long as his mentor “Worldwide” Yogi Bear doesn’t prove to be a negative influence.
Buffalo: The Bulls have a shark hunting the deep third of the field. He led the team in tackles last year. He may not have the De prefix to his name, but you know what? I think Davonte Shannon is just fine enough to do good work without needing a vowel switch. He’s great at the killshot.
Central Michigan: Killer B’s rule the Chip nation after the graduation of Dan LeFevour and Antonio Brown. The linebacker tag team of Nick Bellore and Matt Berning is a dual threat of 100 tackles and can help to withstand the graduations along the defensive line. Add to that a shout-out to famed over-actor Armand Assante in the misspelled Armond Staten? And you have some quality linebacking.
Eastern Michigan: I know when you have two quarterbacks it seems as if you’re stuck with zero. But when that’s the total amount of wins you had last season, the potential future of the quarterback position is where hope begins. And as I pat myself on the back for that segue? I will tell you that Alex Gillett played well in an untenable situation and Devontae Payne has the build and athleticism that could lead to an interesting impression of Terrelle Pryor somehwere down the line.
Kent State: Cobra-la-la-la-la-la is the battle cry for the Golden Flashes. It’s in response to the excellent linebacking of Middle Linebacker and RichRod runoff Cobrani Mixon. He’s got good physical gifts that he brings to the table, and as this team stands to be pretty good, Cobrani may have power in his future.
Miami (OH): In 2008, it was Buffalo. In 2009, it was Temple. In 2010, the Redhawks are the breakout candidate. They had severe bad luck with injuries and turnovers last year. This year? They have potential professional Zac Dysert being protected by an offensive line that returns every starter. Nine defensive starters return.  They won all of a game last year. This year? They could be playing for the conference championship.
Northern Illinois: Following a thread from Central Florida, we’ve got a hotshot JUCO who’s threatening thousand yard rusher Craig Spann. And I will tell you this. Doing a Garrett Wolfe impression makes Jasmin Hopkins feel like a princess. A pretty, pretty princess.
Ohio: It’s going to be another mixed pop culture metaphor, but the Ohio receiving corps, even with the loss of Taylor Price, is going to make fans of the Bobcats fart with an aww yeah. Okay, let’s see if I can’t dig myself out. Price may have been a good home run threat, but Terrance McGee was just as good. Steven Goulet has that essential Goulet. And LaVon Brazill? His return skills make you go aww yeah. Aww yeah.
Temple: If you’re a MAC watcher? You have to be wondering what last years breakout team is going to do for an encore. I’m not going to take liberty of making a projection, but I will say this. Bernard Pierce stays healthy? Chester Stewart will be allowed to molest a defense. And the odds of them getting to ten wins are pretty, pretty good.
Toledo: The Rockets have a shot to get all literary with the return of a Freshman sensation named Eric Page. He led all Freshman in terms of catches and receiving yards. He also does some return work with a decent amount of skills. Austin Dantin has a good target to get the ball to.
Western Michigan: Aaron Winchester is the sort of guy who looks like he could have been better served by being an East Coast Heir going west to find his fortune in Red Dead Redemption. But as such? He’s got the speed and small frame power of a bullet. And he steps into the light as a potential heir to the Bronco’s offense.

Mountain West
Air Force
: The reason why Troy Calhoun stayed in Colorado Springs? He’s got a quality running back stable. For somebody who runs out of the flexbone? You’ve got a lot of talent. Asher Clark and Jared Tew are both quality runners. Tew is the thumper. Clark is the converted ex-quarterback. Tew is by the book. Clark is the loose cannon who plays by his own rules. As much as the service academy would allow.
BYU: Like so many second banana’s, it takes adversity for their opportunity to shine. After Harvey Unga left school, there’s an opportunity for carries. The best choice? JJ De Luigi. And if you need me to explain why he is the perfect second banana running back name, I will tell you to kindly go fuck yourself. Kindly.
Colorado State: I was going to talk about Mychal Sisson’s quality defense in terms of launching himself into ballcarriers. But I paged through The Sporting News College Football Preview. It named Pete Kontodiakos the biggest underachiever in the Mountain West. He’s the Rams Punter. Can you see why this is hilarious to me?
New Mexico: Now, I’ve made plenty of mention on how the “Boy named Sue” has made inroads at running back. But did you know that the Lobos have it at linebacker? It’s true! Carmen Messina led college football with 162 tackles as the team was kind of bad. He returns. And the defensive line may allow him more free reign.
San Diego State: The Aztecs get a hope spot. As last year, Ryan Lindley was getting hit and hit hard by defenses last year. And he managed a 55% completion rate and a positive TD-INT ratio. This year? 4 starters on the offensive line and a solid junior college recruit should protect Lindley better. As such, the Atzecs should get better for it.
TCU: Just like you want a quarterback named Cannon, you would want a linebacker named Tank. And in Tank Carder, the Horned Frogs have themselves someone downright beastly in the middle of the field. He’s the returning leader in tackles, tackles for loss, and in an ironic twist of fate? Pass breakups.
UNLV: I’m always convinced that someone who ends their names with two consecutive consonants, unless it’s something acceptable like Bill or Glenn, will go through life with a chip on their shoulder. Starr Fuimaono is the sort of man built to play middle linebacker. And if he stays healthy? His tackles number could get doubled very easily.
Utah: Eddie Wide is the starting running back with an ironic name. Why? Because the an is simply and positively svelte in terms of running back size. Get it? He’s fast and the back-up is wide! The fact you think this joke is unfunny is the reason why the Utes are joining the Pac-10. That and the money. More the money.
Wyoming: The spread offense is something where the quality of the quarterback dictates the quality of play. And for the Cowboys? Austyn Carta-Samuels led Wyoming to a bowl victory last year with little more than pluck and a dude named Alvester playing wingman. This year, Austyn has the opportunity to consolidate his skill set and grow his brand.

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Pacific-10
Arizona: Considering the tomfoolery coming home to roost of the top two programs? There’s an opening for the Wildcats getting in on the Rose Bowl. They have a spectacular pass rusher in Ricky Elmore, a shut down cornerback in Trevin Wade, and a talented arm in Nick Foles. If Nic Grigsby stays healthy? They’ve got a chance at something special.
Arizona State: Vontaze Burfict is a bad man. If you’re looking for a man who will be voted most likely to knock a sucker the fuck out? Burfict is perfect. There doesn’t seem to be much else here? But Burfict will get Arizona State on SportsCenter at least one Saturday Night.
California: The chain of crazy numbers put up by the Golden Bears running game since Jeff Tedford’s arrival has been underrated. From J.J. Arrington to Marshawn Lynch to Justin Forsett to Jahvid Best? The Bears have always had quality on the ground game. Shane Vereen? He’s going to maintain the lineage.
Oregon: One could politely call the off-season of the Ducks adventurous. Mention Jeremiah Masoli to one Dan Rubenstein and chuckle at his involuntary flinch. But the fact remains (at least as of this writing) they still have LaMichael James. But you have Lache Seastrunk if James can’t cool out. I may just root for Seastrunk on the principle of awesome names alone.
Oregon State: There’s really nothing else beyond the sequel to the Rodgers brothers. These are tiny men who allow the Beavers to matriculate the ball down the field. And they are awesome. They just need a quarterback to manage the game and provide aid and comfort to the Rodgers. Ryan Katz may not be a doctor, but he just might be the proper therapist.
Stanford: You may not realize it when you consider that Stanford spent most of the Aught’s in the wilderness and their one professional draftee turned out to be Trent Edwards, but Stanford’s been a place where good quarterbacks have emerged. Andrew Luck has a chance to rebuild the lineage. With 4 returning starters on the offensive line and a deep and solid receiving corps,  Toby Gerhart’s graduation may not hurt the offense nearly as much as one would think.
UCLA: Kevin Prince has an opportunity to sneak into the radar screens of drafters, draftniks, and general fans of college football, Nick Foles style. He has four returning linemen and two pretty good receivers in Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree. I know it’s not going to inspire much love from this entree, but that’s something I know Rick Neuheisel has to bet on.
USC: Suddenly, Lane Kiffin gets to do an impression of Terry Bowden at Auburn. Because this is still a tremendously talented team with a strong amount of youth energy. Dillon Baxter is someone you need to believe the hype in. But if they don’t go anywhere, will they give a damn in a conference where suddenly anyone believes they can make a dream run? Lane Kiffin may be good at things, but motivation is not be one of them.
Washington: Jake Locker has probably cost himself something around 20 million dollars with his decision to return and attempt to be the minor circuit champion of the Pac-10. Though it would surprise me if he doesn’t improve his numbers. Chris Polk emerged as a quality running back, and the receivers and line are deep and experienced as well. It’s a difficult schedule, but they’ll get a well-deserved bowl game out of it.
Washington State: Here’s the thing? Washington State may not be completely terrible. They have 9 returning starters from an offense that broke badly last year. It should improve. But their defensive line has a real chance to be strong like bull. 4 returning starters and experienced depth behind them. And Paul Wulff loves the linebacking corps. It may not get them to a bowl game, but it may not be an easy W, here.

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Southeastern
Alabama
: Marcell Dareus may not have been necessary to win the national championship, but he sure did help. If he didn’t seperate the shoulder of a goofy looking motherfucker like Colt McCoy, they wouldn’t have had to force a true freshman to climb out of such an insurmountable hole. Football is a violent game, and Dareus will break some fools again next year.
Arkansas: Arkansas returns ten starters on offense. Not just the chill bro cannon arm of Ryan Mallett. Not just two big power backs in Broderick Green and Ronnie Wingo. Not just all linemen besides the right guard. Not just a deep, talented, and tough receiving corps. (Joe Adams didn’t let a STROKE end his season). Everybody.
Auburn: Cameron Newton once bumped hips with Tim Tebow in celebration of a beat down of some random non-conference strange. He has since found his way through the shadows and into the light of the plains. There’s a real scenario where the Tigers are going to get to the Iron Bowl unbeaten. And it will come from the physical gifts of Cam Effin’ Newton.
Florida: The strength this year? Speed. Pure badass American speed. Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps will start and be home run threats. And Andre Debose may be a better player and athlete. Add Mike Gillislee’s athleticism and Steve Addazio may add a fly sweep to his QB Dive and Y Stick.
Georgia: It’s not an automatic guarantee that a talented 4-3 defensive end is going to rock as a 3-4 OLB. But Georgia has a very interesting talent who’s making the transition. Justin Houston is the SEC’s returning leader in sacks. He comes correct in 2010 and a lot of defensive worries get solved.
Kentucky: I was lucky, I had never made mention of Randall Cobb’s versatile weapon based awesomeness. And he’s a force of nature and he will win at least two games by himself this year. It’s a necessary thing, at least until Mister Cobble and Qua Hizzle are ready for battle.
LSU: The obvious rap song reference to LSU is Aesop Rock’s “None Shall Pass.” The secondary from LSU is deadly. Morris Claiborne’s cat-like agility is strong enough to move Jai Eugene to safety. Brandon Taylor has been great at Strong Safety. And lest we forget Pat Peterson. Nobody’s gonna throw on them.
Mississippi: Mississippi always has a strong defensive line. That’s why the Admiral Akbar as mascot meme has failed. Jerrell Powe and Kentrell Lockett are jocks. Star Wars fans are their natural enemies. One drunken night in Oxford? They walked right in a trap and walked out unscathed.
Mississippi State: Not since A Christmas Story had family dogs upsetting Darren McGavin’s shit have we seen a Bumphis finding a way to wreak havoc. Chad Bumphis has the skills to get open and the athleticism to take balls to the house. A quarterback gets the ball to him, and it’s not a question of maybe. He will be awesome.
South Carolina: He may be the #2 receiver in terms of looks and perception, but you know what? Tori Gurley’s name is infinitely better at being mocked than an Alshon Jeffrey. You know I wouldn’t have the guts to do it to his face, but he’s a big wideout with a lady name. It’s all upside in Gamecock nation.
Tennessee: They may not be in a position to start fast, but this is a team that has some real interesting skill position talent. Gerald Jones is the leader of a veteran receiving corp that helped rehabilitate Jonathan Crompton from catfish to a draftable quarterback. He has another challenge to lead this year. Add in Tauren Poole stepping into the Volunteer running back factory? And this team could finish fast.
Vanderbilt: If you’ve come this far, you know that I am a fan of bloodlines. You also know that I am a shameless (if not pensive) homer. So when I heard that Vanderbilt, whose quarterbackery last year was…sketchy, shall we say, went the JC route to get a prospect named Jordan Rodgers. AND HE’S RELATED TO AARON RODGERS. Vanderbilt has somebody to love. Done.

Sun Belt
Arkansas State
: With the recruiting of Dwayne Frampton, the Red Wolves look to come alive offensively. You have a veteran offensive line and an interesting battle at quarterback between Ryan Aplin and Phillip Butterfield. Whoever wins has a team on the verge of being very interesting.

An aside? How dare Phillip Butterfield accept a number other than 8?
Butterfield 8 Pictures, Images and Photos
Florida Atlantic: If you’re looking for a strong safety, you don’t normally look toward a man listed at 5’9″ and 161 pounds. But then again? Marcus Bartels is not most men. With a gashed defensive line? Bartels was the last line of defense. And he navigated with style and aplomb.
FIU: He may not be listed as the #1 on the depth chart at present, but you have to respect Toronto Smith. One, it allows Bill Simmons to make a reference to Teen Wolf, and you know that’s never happened before. Two, he’s the returning leader in sacks and tackles for loss. And three? His parents named him after a Canadian city. That’s awesome.
LA Lafayette: It may sound crazy, but in the world where the move tight end that spreads the field is in vogue in the NFL? The Ragin’ Cajuns may have a legitimate NFL Prospect. He’s LaDarius Green, and it may just be from one play, but the dude caught a 91 yard TD pass. If he has a good year, do not be surprised to see him drafted in Round 3.
LA Monroe: An inexperienced line may tamper expectations, but the Warhawks have one of the best in the Sun Belt with Frank Goodin. He runs hard and he runs angry. He just needs a little Junior College magic to get back to previous levels.
Middle Tennessee: I try to avoid sequels. So I will only mention Dwight Dasher in passing. He operated at peak efficiency because he had lighting named DD Kyles at tailback. He gets the thunder of Phillip Tanner coming back as well. Favorites of the Sun Belt? Absolutely.
North Texas: Names with lyricism are awesome. Names that you could break out a bad NBA Public Address announcer? Just beautiful. The Mean Green’s best pass rusher fits both of these qualifications. David Akpunku. Try it. Ak-Puuuuuuuuuuuuunk-u! Awesome.
Troy: Now, the urge to make a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang joke in celebration of hotshot recruit B.J. Chitty is strong. But I will fight it. And I will fight making a Sidney Moncrief reference in relation to Brett Moncrief. Why? The double Double J’s. Josh Jarboe is the man good enough to get a scholarship to Oklahoma. Jerrel Jernigan is the reliable target with angry skills in terms of kick returns.
Western Kentucky: It may not be an easy road for the Red Drank to crawl out of last seasons wreckage. But the cupboard is not completely bare. If you consider how consistently the defensive line was gashed last year? Thomas Majors managed 101 tackles. He now has a tag team’s worth of beef protecting him. It’s a long road back, but they’ll take the next step.

Western Athletic
Boise State
: Point of fact? The lovely and talented writer of whose that you see in front of you hates memes. They’re hacky and no good joke usually comes out of them. This means I kind of have to root against Boise State early on. Talk of Boise as BCS Champion sounds as painful to me as the spiciest piece of Flying Pie pizza. (But if they get there? I won’t be rooting for an upset.)
Fresno State: Robbie Rouse may not be a trendsetter because his is the name of a dude. But he is adorably Quinton Griffin sized. And with the graduation of Ryan Matthews and Lonyae Miller? He has the entire field to himself for run game purposes. And the line that got Matthews to the 1st Round in the NFL draft? Returns everybody.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors have three quality pieces at wideout. And none of them are adorably gritty like Davone Bess either. Darius Bright is the hotshot recruit with very intriguing triangle numbers. (6’5″ 225 4.47) Mark Salas is the 6’2″ guy who came up from being a walk-on to grabbing 106 balls last year. And Kealoha Pilares is a pass catcher who can turn into a running back when he gets the ball in space. Never mind week one. This team can be good.
Idaho: The one bit of good news that came out of last season was that a nation of college football fans discovered that Idaho head coach Robb Akey was actually pretty awesome. Sweet shades, a cool mustache, and the voice of a jazzman. This team may be underestimated again, but the fact that they recruited Pat Forde’s superhero alter-ego Maxx Forde proves that they are not to be forgotten. (A beefy O-line in a mid-major also helps too.)
Louisiana Tech: Ross Jenkins is what someone would consider to be the luckiest boy in America. He was an efficient and generally solid thrower under the Derek Dooley regime. He gets to be the wheelman for the air raid offense. Or it could be Auburn transfer and spring practice ace Steven Emsinger. Either way? They have a potentially special receiver in Phillip Livas.
Nevada: In the insane offensive numbers that the Wolfpack can pull up on the ground? They had a three headed monster of thousand yard rushers. With the graduation of Luke Lippincott? Vai Taua suddenly has a chance to take a chokehold on the time share. 1,500 yards rushing may only be his floor. Also? Vai is a girls name. So you have to love that.
New Mexico State: Not for nothing, but there is something to build on here. Seth Smith is a nondescript name for a thousand yard rusher. And when you consider how successful the passing game was (6 TD/17 INT),  Smith had a tremendous season. And the Aggies can roll out a quality pass rush as well with Pierre Fils and Donte Savage. They’re kind of like Hawaii. They won’t be dominant, but they should be quite improved.
San Jose State: In history, Pompey was named an emperor in the Roman triumvirate because he was an easy mark. Now while I am clearly mixing my metaphors by invoking Rome with Spartan matters, Pompey Festejo is not a man to be trifled with. He is a bad, bad man.
Utah State: Robert Turbin was a sophomore who one could deem unjinxed. At least until the kid tore his ACL in February.  So, the Aggies turn their lonely eyes once again to Diandre Borel. He had a nice year last year. If the line makes something out of the fact that they’re experienced? He will be great again.

So there you go. 120 teams. All up in here. College football is coming. And it’s gonna be fun.

May 10, 2009

NBA Draft Dumpster Diving: Point Guards

Okay, I owe you an apology. Should have told you about the blogcation. But I didn’t. If you read it, you could tell though. I was depressed.

Blah blah blah, exorcise the demons. Let’s go.

They say that the NBA draft is one of the weakest classes in memory. To that? I say phooey. I say that there’s value this year. I say that this will not be a devil class. There are better Angels in this class.

You want a sleeper distributor? Look here. They are ranked in likelyhood of being drafted.

8. Paul Delaney UAB
6’2″ 197

Delaney is killing pre-draft camps with his game that compares favorably to Leandro Barbosa. He has long arms and spectacular athleticism. He attacks the basket with a fury, and in transition? He has great point guard skills. He’s underdeveloped in the half court game and has an inconsistent shot, but he’s got a future.

7. Aaron Jackson Duquesne
6′ 4″ 185

He’ll likely have to take a backdoor route to get to the NBA, but a good scouting department will keep watching out for him. He can play just a little too fast for his ability to control, but he has great offensive creativity and body control. He is very dangerous when he attacks the basket and he uses his sze to aid his defense.

6. Lester Hudson UT-Martin
6’3″ 190

So, you have a guy who’s basically the same prospect as he was last year, looking like an early-mid second rounder. He is still a spectacular scorer. His shot is still silky smooth. He generates a lot of steals. And his handles? They’re developing. So how about you explain to me just how he’s looking like an undrafted free agent? Because I’m baffled.

5. Dominic James Marquette
5’11” 175

Yeah, he’s injury prone. Yeah, his shot sucks. But here’s the thing. The athleticism that made him a fringe lottery prospect as a freshman? Still there. He’s an excellent distributor. He generates steals and he has the ups to overcome his size on defense. Get him a shot whisperer? You have a starter.

4. Rodrique Beaubois Cholet
6’2″ 170

The best backcourt that you never heard of was not in the United States this year. Three guesses as to the location from the name and the team of Mr. Beaubois. Now, I made mention of Paul Delaney as a man with Barbosan skills. Beaubois is a simalcrum. Long arms, elite athleticism. Inconsistent handles. But he forced his way into the line-up even with…

3. Nando De Colo Cholet
6’5″ 187

Stylistically, his game is beautiful. He makes flashy plays. He has great court vision. He slashes with great handles and footwork. And he can hit the three. He does not have the best of lateral quickness. And his defense? It’s not so much. But yes, his offense is that good.

2. Toney Douglas Florida State
6’1″ 196

He doesn’t have the greatest distributorial skills. In fact? You really aren’t drafting him to be a one. But he was an excellent scorer on a team where people looked to lock down on him. He can also lock down other teams one’s. He will be drafted if only because he fits two myth of the nexts. The dream is one half Arenas, one half Brandon Roy. The reality? A billionaire’s George Hill.

1. Sergio Llull Real Madrid
6’3″ 176

You want someone who could take the basketball world by storm in 2011? Look for Epic Llull’s. His is a distributorial force. It’s a shot-creating force that gets major run in the Euros. He can hit the three even if he doesn’t bring the strength and mid-range game. He’s going to grow up and be the Spanish Ramon Sessions. I believe in it.

Yeah, at the very least. I’ve got a five part series. Better to rage out then fade away. Myth of the next? Maybe that’s more of hype central closer to major drafts.

Onward and upward.

April 20, 2009

The 10 receivers you want your team to take on Day 2

There really is a lot of pass-catching talent in this years draft. I mean this sincerely. A team that thinks it has good receiver depth is missing out on something special this year. I will bring you ten talents, two for every round.

And as a twist? No Ramses Barden on the list.

Round 3
Mike Thomas-Arizona:
While he is shorter than you would like, he does have a very tasty skill set. His timed speed is spectacular (4.30). And he uses it excellently in his return game. On short routes? Thomas is also dangerous. Don’t expect him to be a Steve Smith-type as a deep threat, but as a Wes Welker? Life is good.

Jarrett DillardRice: He does not have the timed speed that blows you away. But if you throw it anywhere near him, he can get it. He has great hands and an amazing catch radius. He will use his 42 inch vertical to catch the ball at it’s highest point. He’s a high character guy who will get the most out of his solid athleticism.

Round 4
Brandon Tate-North Carolina:
Brandon Tate would have been a Round 1 pick if his knee didn’t get all tore up. He has the return skills to scare the fuck out of opposing teams for a season before they decide to kick the ball away from him. But he also brings good hands and a solid run after the catch ability. He may grade at this round, but he may not stay there.

Austin Collie-BYU: If you’re looking for a solid #2 receiver a.k.a. a complement for the home run hitter? Here you go. His two big skills are his hands of glue and his ability to run routes. His speed isn’t great, but that being said? He’s smart enough to learn how to use his skills to his advantage on the next level.

Round 5
Johnny Knox-Abeliene Christian: You have a guy with great deep speed, solid athleticism, and good body control. Sure, a part of it was being in a superpowered offense, and you have to make a move up three levels of talent. He also will have some trouble getting off the line. But a 4.29 40-time, solid quickness, and a solid catch radius? You can build on it.

Mike Wallace-Ole Miss: And while Johnny Knox is fast? Mike Wallace is faster. But here’s the thing. He has a reputation as a track guy, yeah? It’s a lie. He has excellent hands and he will go over the middle as well as deep. His game is somewhat raw, but the patient coach will find a stud.

Round 6
Dominique Edison-Stephen F. Austin:
The triangle numbers alone will get him a look (6’3″ 209 4.45), but he has more that he brings to the table. He has the vertical separation that will get him on a roster. He has the soft hands and leaping ability that can make him a contributor. And if you are patient? You will get yourself a starter.

Deon Butler-Penn State: Now if I didn’t limit myself to two sleepers per round, maybe I would pick a Brandon Gibson or an Aaron Kelly. But I’m not saying that to hate on Butler. Butler has explosive wheels and athleticism. His hands are reliable, and he has the grit and determination to run over the middle. So while his profile may grade as a #3 slot receiver? I think he can start.

Round 7
Sammie Stroughter-Oregon State:
He plays faster than his 40 time. He catches the ball in space? He becomes a running back, he can make people miss. He runs great routes and he can catch anything near him. He has grit and guts, and while you will draft him as a special teamer? He has a chance to start.

Dudley Guice-Northwestern State: This is how you know you have found a good source of draft knowledge. They list Dudley Guice as a sleeper. He killed the Texas vs. the Nation game. He’s 6’3″ 209, runs a 4.4 40. He has long arms and an impressive catch radius. He has soft hands and can generate good spearation. Is he the next Marques Colston? You’re goddamn right he is.

I probably am missing a name or three off the list outside of Ramses. And you know what? That’s okay. This is a class of draggers, and there could be 20-25 great contributors who can be culled from this class.

God love the passing game.

The 10 Day 2 Receivers That You Want On Your Team

There really is a lot of pass-catching talent in this years draft. I mean this sincerely. A team that thinks it has good receiver depth is missing out on something special this year. I will bring you ten talents,  two for every round.

And as a twist? No Ramses Barden on the list.

Round 3
Mike Thomas-Arizona:
While he is shorter than you would like, he does have a very tasty skill set. His timed speed is spectacular (4.30). And he uses it excellently in his return game. On short routes? Thomas is also dangerous. Don’t expect him to be a Steve Smith-type as a deep threat, but as a Wes Welker? Life is good.

Jarrett DillardRice: He does not have the timed speed that blows you away. But if you throw it anywhere near him, he can get it. He has great hands and an amazing catch radius. He will use his 42 inch vertical to catch the ball at it’s highest point. He’s a high character guy who will get the most out of his solid athleticism.

Round 4
Brandon Tate-North Carolina:
 Brandon Tate would have been a Round 1 pick if his knee didn’t get all tore up. He has the return skills to scare the fuck out of opposing teams for a season before they decide to kick the ball away from him. But he also brings good hands and a solid run after the catch ability.  He may grade at this round, but he may not stay there.

Austin Collie-BYU: If you’re looking for a solid #2 receiver a.k.a. a complement for the home run hitter? Here you go. His two big skills are his hands of glue and his ability to run routes. His speed isn’t great, but that being said? He’s smart enough to learn how to use his skills to his advantage on the next level.

Round 5
Johnny Knox-Abeliene Christian: You have a guy with great deep speed, solid athleticism, and good body control. Sure, a part of it was being in a superpowered offense, and you have to make a move up three levels of talent. He also will have some trouble getting off the line. But a 4.29 40-time, solid quickness, and a solid catch radius? You can build on it. 

Mike Wallace-Ole Miss: And while Johnny Knox is fast? Mike Wallace is faster. But here’s the thing. He has a reputation as a track guy, yeah? It’s a lie. He has excellent hands and he will go over the middle as well as deep. His game is somewhat raw, but the patient coach will find a stud.

Round 6
Dominique Edison-Stephen F. Austin:
The triangle numbers alone will get him a look (6’3″ 209 4.45), but he has more that he brings to the table. He has the vertical separation that will get him on a roster. He has the soft hands and leaping ability that can make him a contributor. And if you are patient? You will get yourself a starter.

Deon Butler-Penn State: Now if I didn’t limit myself to two sleepers per round, maybe I would pick a Brandon Gibson or an Aaron Kelly. But I’m not saying that to hate on Butler. Butler has explosive wheels and athleticism. His hands are reliable, and he has the grit and determination to run over the middle. So while his profile may grade as a #3 slot receiver? I think he can start.

Round 7
Sammie Stroughter-Oregon State:
He plays faster than his 40 time. He catches the ball in space? He becomes a running back, he can make people miss. He runs great routes and he can catch anything near him. He has grit and guts, and while you will draft him as a special teamer? He has a chance to start.

Dudley Guice-Northwestern State: This is how you know you have found a good source of draft knowledge. They list Dudley Guice as a sleeper. He killed the Texas vs. the Nation game. He’s 6’3″ 209, runs a 4.4 40. He has long arms and an impressive catch radius. He has soft hands and can generate good spearation. Is he the next Marques Colston? You’re goddamn right he is.

I probably am missing a name or three off the list outside of Ramses. And you know what? That’s okay. This is a class of draggers, and there could be 20-25 great contributors who can be culled from this class.

God love the passing game.

April 19, 2009

The Ballad of Nate Davis

I’ll be honest. There are moments where I want to be the douchey columnist. I want to say, Nate Davis shouldn’t have gone and declared himself a pro. But you know what?

I can’t. The logic was infallible. Was his value never going to be higher? Damn right. Was he going to have to learn a new offense as a senior? Yes. Did he lose the coach that made him what sort of a prospect that he was. Absolutely.

He needed to move up, because despite his two last games? He was never going to be as good as he was as a junior. But then the problems set in.

One, his style is unorthodox. He doesn’t grip the laces, and his throwing motion does not follow the archetype. Two? The learning disability. It’s become overblown, and the wonderlic may have some form of a cultural bias (not to mention Donovan McNabb and Dan Marino botched it). But this means he wasn’t going to be an instant starter.

But you know what? The skills he has haven’t faded. And there is no way that if he gets a fair shot he cannot be a good quarterback. The shame of it?

I don’t think he’s going to get a fair shot.

The Ballad of Nate Davis

I’ll be honest. There are moments where I want to be the douchey columnist. I want to say, Nate Davis shouldn’t have gone and declared himself a pro. But you know what?

I can’t. The logic was infallible. Was his value never going to be higher? Damn right. Was he going to have to learn a new offense as a senior? Yes. Did he lose the coach that made him what sort of a prospect that he was. Absolutely.

He needed to move up, because despite his two last games? He was never going to be as good as he was as a junior. But then the problems set in.

One, his style is unorthodox. He doesn’t grip the laces, and his throwing motion does not follow the archetype. Two? The learning disability. It’s become overblown, and the wonderlic may have some form of a cultural bias (not to mention Donovan McNabb and Dan Marino botched it). But this means he wasn’t going to be an instant starter.

But you know what? The skills he has haven’t faded. And there is no way that if he gets a fair shot he cannot be a good quarterback. The shame of it?

I don’t think he’s going to get a fair shot.

April 18, 2009

Jason Peters to Philadelphia?

I have one word and two syllables for Philly on this one. Steal.

An above average left tackle for the 28th pick, a 4 and a mid round pick for 2010? Really. Hell of a move. They don’t kill their pick depth. They get solid protection for McNabb. And?

They can still be in the market for Boldin. The #21 and a 3 would probably be the best offer Arizona will get for Boldin. And they can use the #2 for Donald Brown purposes.

Sidebar. It’s kind of weird that you don’t seem to have a deal where it seems as if both sides were equal. Cassell for an early number #2? Chiefs seems to have stole that. Cutler for Orton and Picks? Denver seems to have stolen that. And now Jason Peters is a left tackle for a team that’s once piece away from glory.

JASON PETERS WILL MAKE YOU HATE DONOVAN McNABB ALL OVER AGAIN

YAY!!!

Well, Jason Peters went to Philadelphia

I have one word and two syllables for Philly on this one. Steal.

An above average left tackle for the 28th pick, a 4 and a mid round pick for 2010? Really. Hell of a move. They don’t kill their pick depth. They get solid protection for McNabb. And?

They can still be in the market for Boldin. The #21 and a 3 would probably be the best offer Arizona will get for Boldin. And they can use the #2 for Donald Brown purposes.

Sidebar. It’s kind of weird that you don’t seem to have a deal where it seems as if both sides were equal. Cassell for an early number #2? Chiefs seems to have stole that. Cutler for Orton and Picks? Denver seems to have stolen that. And now Jason Peters is a left tackle for a team that’s once piece away from glory.


I WILL MAKE YOU HATE DONOVAN McNABB ALL OVER AGAIN

YAY!!!

April 17, 2009

Day 1 Draft Breakdown…Wide Receivers

Last year? There was not much quality to the depth that was out there for the passcatcher. There was a lot of depth, but there was no first round ace. This year? It brings something different. Height and awesome. Trust me, there will be a lot of receivers drafted here.

Michael Crabtree
1. Michael Crabtree Texas Tech
6’2″ 215 4.54

There is so much to love about Michael Crabtree’s game? It’s sick. Outside of timed speed? Here’s what Crabtree brings to the table.

Size
Hands
Ball skills
Ups
Hand catching at the high point
Physicality
Route-running
Getting himself open
And he was a Heisman finalist on one foot last year. Yeah. he’s an ace.

What’s his weaknesses? The speed is not great, and the separation will become an issue at some point. It also means he’s never going to be a home run hitter. But I am merely nitpicking. Crabtree is ready.

I mean, worst case scenario? He’s Keyshawn Johnson. But like the last redshirt sophomore to declare himself for the draft, there’s a surprising polish to his game. If you must know. Crabtree could sky to Larry Fitzgerald’s heights. He has that high of an upside.

Jeremy Maclin
2. Jeremy Maclin Missouri
6’0″ 198 4.45

Jeremy Maclin has that certain something to his game. It’s a mixture of elusiveness that rivals Devin Hester and hands that compare favorably to Torry Holt. Give him the first step? And he’s gone. Have him leap for the ball? He’ll get it. And going east and west? He’s just as scary.

He does have one real weakness right now. Ask him to run the entire route tree? And it won’t go great. His concentration can run hot and cold. And he does need to develop more on-field strength.

But if he gets his hands on the ball? He’s straight nightmare for defenders. You will see him as a returner straight away, and he will be awesome. When his polish gets there? He will be kind of like Steve Smith without the crazy.

darrius heyward bey
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey Maryland
6’2″ 210 4.25

There’s a certain archetype that you find in Wide Receivers. The wide receiver with superb athleticism and no polish to him. That’s DHB in a nuthsell. The 40-time is sexy, and he does have olympic level straight line speed. He does have the build that if the light ever turned on, he could be better than Crabtree. He has solid ball skills and the same sort of physciality and fearlessness.

But his hands are inconsistent on his best days, and his instincts and awareness? Also not so good. Maclin’s route running skills are better as well. And that sprinter speed? Strictly straight line as well. He also won’t break many tackles for a dude his size.

In my head, I have a name. This is strictly first instinct, and I know I’ve been proven wrong in these scenarios before. But the name that fits the archetype of DHB, at least in its most recent incarnations? Troy Williamson. Turtle nation can commence feeling insulted…now.

PERCY HARVIN
4. Percy Harvin Florida
5’11” 192 4.39

Percy Harvin is a weapon, pure and simple. Get him the ball out in space? And he’s going to fuck some shit up. He has soft hands and good body control. But his elusiveness? His elusiveness is the skill that pays his bills. Sweeps, screens, slants and flies. Spectacular.

If you’ve heard of anything close to Percy Harvin, you know his major weakness is his feet. He does not stay healthy, and it’s mostly with his heel and ankle. Sure, route running is a bit of a problem, but you know what? Being a Devin Hester-Reggie Bush type with missing positional and seemingly no special teams skills is essentially ballast if he can’t stay healthy.

What he brings to the table when he sees the field? It’s Top 5 talent. He is such a good playmaker when healthy you you see him among the left tackles and Crabtree. But the problem? He’s not a strong healer, and he always seems dinged up, and that’s why he may fall out of the first round of the draft.

Hakeem Nicks
5. Hakeem Nicks North Carolina
6’1″ 212 4.51

Youtube Hakeem Nicks, and you know what you’ll find? He has hands that are spectacular. That catch wasn’t merely ancedotal, dude has got hands. He also has general ball skills and excellent body control. And he has the heart to work the middle of the field.

He will never be a vertical threat. He does not have great levels of athleticism. He does not get great separation. The injury at the combine cum fat butt? It is only an issue because it entails character and motor. If he gains 15 pounds because of a lack of working out for the biggest job interview ever? What happens when he gets rich?

Let the scout that made the rumors of Hakeem being an underized tight end fade from your mind. What he is, is a receiver with hands of glue. He may never be spectacular. But he has the grit and intangibles to have a nice decade long run as a Jake Reed type. He will possess your heart.

Kenny Britt
6. Kenny Britt Rutgers
6’3″ 218 4.50

He knows how to use his height and long arms to his advantage like a Republican on a Racist southerner. He can get up and snatch the ball out of the air. Add to that good timed speed, solid route running and a general swagger to his stride? There is a pretty tasty skill set here.

That being said? it’s a fine line between swagger and asshole. Britt walks that every day. He also loses his concentration from time to time. And his agility? It’s meager at best. So, there just might be those days where he’ll go out and get 2 catches for 3 yards.

A potential high reward player with good athleticism despite his mediocre timed speed and unrelaible hands and the diva mentality of many #1 receivers? I wonder if his build reminds you of anybody? Tell you what? I will give you two sets of line breaks and ellipsis to for you to think of a name.

I say Braylon Edwards clone. What say you?

Brian Robiskie
7. Brian Robiskie Ohio State
6’3″ 209 4.46

When it comes down to it? Robiskie has the little things down cold. He does not waste movement on his routes. He finds the openings on zones. And he has the hands to pluck and high point the ball out of the air. He will block and give every effort on every play.

But Ohio State has a notoriously fast track. That 4.46 is not his real football speed. He’s never going to be spectacular vertically. And in terms of the elusive question? He’s not great at that either. A fast defensive back can get him from behind.

However? He does have a strong skill set. His father is a wide receiver coach. And he’s learned all the little things from him. And he has the work ethic to polish his strengths into finely honed skills. There’s a lot of Hines Ward to his game, and he has a strong chance to touch that ceiling.

Juaquin Iglesias
8. Juaquin Iglesias Oklahoma
6’1″ 210 4.44

You want someone to get dirty going over the middle? You want Iglesias. He also has top-notch hands and he can make defenders miss in the short areas of the field. He makes fast cuts and his catch radius? It’s very nice. And if necessary? You can stick him on special teams and have him return a punt or a kick or two.

But like Robiskie? His 40-time does not match his actual time. His seperation skills are inconsistent. And he does not have the burst to go vertical. And for a dude this size? Getting himself knocked off the line is not something that you should have happen.

But that being said? He has the potential to be more than a mere posession receiver. A west coast offense will love him. An offense that relies on slants, digs and run after the catch? They will love him. If the Pack didn’t have 27 receivers? He’d be a perfect fit.

Now, receiver sleepers are multiple and plentiful. Trust that I will post more about these pass catchers. Jarrett Dillard is gonna be a steal. Trust me.

February 3, 2009

Hi! Remember Me?

I’ve been gone a while.

But I come bearing gifts.

This might justbe  a short update to say hi, and let you know about our namesake horse race. The Grand National. It’s coming up in a couple of months, and we have become huge fans of since watching it last year.

The race, which takes place at Aintree race course in England, is unlike anything we have ever seen before. The race captured our imagination, as well as those of millions around the world, due to its excitement, drama, the fact that it consistently produces thrilling finishes. It also rocks because the ‘fences’ are absolutely massive.

Fences rule!

And this year? We’ll be partaking in some Grand National betting, and I’m assured that last years winner Comply Or Die is going to be a strong bet again, although if I back him? You know he’s got no shot.

Even if you’re not into gambling you should tune in to the race for the sheer drama of it. And because it’s called the Grand National.

We love the name, and the sport of kings that comes with it.

Bye for now, loyalists.

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