It's Thursday and we are doing the mailbag this afternoon instead of the usual morning run. Figured why not open it up to a new crop of folks? No need to stall, we'll just get into the mailbag here.
@inthebleachers Texas A and M's chances to win the SEC next year? Should they be co-favs?— jason terrell (@AllStateAllTheT) January 24, 2013
I think the Aggies have a shot to win the SEC, but no, I wouldn't call them co-favorites. Their defense is going to have to improve drastically, and that is without their best player, Damontre Moore. On offense, losing Luke Joeckel and Ryan Swope is a hit, but they have Johnny Football back in the fold.
They will be close, but I think Alabama will be the favorite in 2013.
@inthebleachers Who wins the ACC next year?— Trav (@TheIrishWon) January 24, 2013
Give me Clemson. The Atlantic Division should come down to the Tigers and Seminoles and I'll give Clemson the upper hand because it gets FSU in Tigertown and returns some big pieces.
On the other side, I really don't expect the Coastal Champ to even finish ranked. Virginia Tech, UNC and Miami will probably all challenge for the division title, but I think once they hit Charlotte, it will be the Atlantic champion's game to take.
@inthebleachers So do you think DAT’s is finally going to expand, especially w/ new coach, or is Marshall just backfilling Barner’s role?— Todd Steak Jones (@infectioussteak) January 24, 2013
Here's the problem with De'Anthony Thomas at Oregon: he doesn't have a position. He's not a pure wide receiver. He's not an every-down back. He's a playmaker that can run really fast and break big ones.
Unless you play him as a pure wideout and let Marcus Mariota air the ball out a bit more, I don't see how many more touches he gets in a game.
Mark Helfrich does like to throw the ball and so that could be an avenue that gets exploited more under the new leader. However, because so many of the pieces are in place and it is so successful as is, I don't expect a full-blown shakeup where Thomas gets pushed out to wideout as a true position.
I have no clue. Where USC is concerned, I think the real question is, "Can Clancy Pendergrast fix this defense?" The offense, outside of against Stanford and Notre Dame, put up solid numbers a season ago, whereas the defense was atrocious.
The continued focus on the small stuff with Kiffin is letting a big-time underachievement on the defensive side of the ball go unnoticed.
Lane's likely on the proverbial hot seat this year, and if things don't go well, perhaps that will be the answer as to when Haden fires him.
@inthebleachers So, b4 1/7, ND was back. Then bama happened? What you think is needed to make the leap to bama level?— Fanon D (@TriniND) January 24, 2013
I think getting to the BCS Championship Game and going 12-1 still means Notre Dame is back. Bama was certainly a better football team, but the game plan, failure to adjust and just poor showing by Notre Dame exacerbated the game's results.
If I'm the Irish, I realize how close I am, not how far away.
From a tangible standpoint, I think the things Notre Dame needs start with more athleticism in the back end. Zeke Motta did a great job most of the year of being there just in the nick of time, but with a play-action fake and on the big stage, he was out of position enough for it to be a problem. Better safety play goes a long way.
Another big thing will be finding some every-down linebackers. Carlo Calabrese is a great run-stopper, but when Dan Fox was locked into the game, Alabama exploited him because he couldn't get off blocks. Ishaq Williams was stiff and ineffective in his own right as well.
Finding guys that can play pass and run helps with effectiveness of a defense.
As for coaching, I think the experience helped. The stage is big. Instead of over-thinking things on offense, tweak to figure out how to get success. Don't overhaul and get away from base—a lesson LSU had to learn the same hard way.
@inthebleachers what do you think is the more important aspect of a position coach: their recruiting ability or coaching of the position?— Matt P (@UMwolfpack87) January 24, 2013
I go coaching over recruiting every day of the week.
If all you can do is recruit and you can't coach your position, then all you're doing is stocking up but never really getting better. On the flip side, if you aren't much of a recruiter but get basic talent for your position, you can develop those guys into damn good ballplayers.
The good thing is it doesn't have to be a one-for-one situation. There are guys out there that can not only recruit, but also coach their behinds off. That is certainly the ideal.
The beauty of football is that you have a pretty big staff and you are not the only one responsible for the recruiting that goes on.
So, because of the teamwork aspect of recruiting, if I'm a head coach, the goal is to find position coaches who balance each other out from a recruiting and coaching standpoint. You have to recruit, if that means taking a great recruiter who is a little weak in coaching, then you counter with a strong enough coordinator to offset that.