Your Best 11 Mailbag: We're Talking Up-Tempo, Heisman, Kirk Ferentz and More

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Your Best 11 Mailbag: We're Talking Up-Tempo, Heisman, Kirk Ferentz and More
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Thursday, with a late-ish addition of the Your Best 11 Mailbag. Gave the lunchtime folks a chance to squawk at me. We've got some good questions so no need to waste time, here we go!

I think the usual suspects of Johnny Manziel, Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota, Tajh Boyd, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray all have to be listed. I'd throw in Sammy Watkins and Marqise Lee with them as well. A touch of Jadeveon Clowney, because everyone else is doing it. Oh, and some Teddy Bridgewater, because that kid balls.

But, we all know those names and their schedules and what have you.

So in addition to the usual answer, I'd submit Lache Seastrunk, Stephon Tuitt, Kyle Van Noy, Ryan Shazier and yes, your own Taylor Martinez.

Seastrunk will be the big name on a Baylor offense that will put up large numbers, much like it has in recent seasons. If the Bears can find their way to nine wins, he could have the big numbers to draw the votes, even with Glasco Martin grabbing carries.

Tuitt, Van Noy and Shazier are all defensive guys that, quite honestly, I expect to have huge seasons.

Odds will be stacked against Tuitt thanks to the "stat heavy" influence of the Heisman, but it wouldn't surprise me for many people to see the Notre Dame end as a possible No. 1 overall, pick. He's that good.

Van Noy is a real playmaker, and without Ziggy Ansah he will have to fill up the stat sheet even more for the Cougars to be successful.

Shazier's work speaks for itself. He's a missile on the field and likely finds himself near the top of the nation in tackles.

Which brings us to Taylor Martinez. I know you've been waiting to hear that name.

I expect him to again improve as he has done for each of the last three seasons. That means likely eclipsing the 3,000-yard passing mark, getting to 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season and putting up over 30 touchdowns. His issue will be his defense. If Bo Pelini can get something good out of the Black Shirts, Martinez could be in the mix late.

Honestly, I've got no opinion here. If Florida feels like it is in its best interest to remove the brick, then so be it. Personally, I don't think it erases his accomplishments.

But I also don't think that the murder situation reflects on Florida the way many people are trying to say that it does. Either way, the guy certainly has bigger fish to fry than contesting the brick removal.

I don't think they will take the fun out of football, at least not because it will do away with some big hits.

No, I think the fun-sucking part of this will be how much debate and conjecture comes from these calls. Especially if one of the calls ends up costing someone something major. 

The issue with the rule is not safety. Rather, the big problem is that the rule is being pushed hastily and as we have seen during media days, different conferences interpret the rule in different fashion. So while I think football will be just fine on the field, I do think we all will grow weary of the discussion of these calls. 

I am a lover of big-man football. A guy that enjoys the idea that the hammer crushes the nail. I like that underdogs are underdogs for a reason. I like when the little guy gets smashed and the bigger, faster and stronger man wins.

With the new innovations, that changes in a big way. Teams with less depth or not as much talent are finding ways to win, and that upsets the balance. Upsetting the balance is good for the little guy, it is good for parity and it is great for college football. I just am not as big of a fan of it as some other people.

I've thought long and hard about this. Especially since we are seeing teams go to more three-safety packages, others moving to 4-2-5 as a base set and linebackers getting smaller all the time. 

That said, I do not think that we are going to see the advantages vanish.

They will diminish in some spots, basically the spots where the defense is actually good. Unfortunately, as offenses take center stage, most defenses are not actually going to get that much better, at least not the middle tier recruiting schools' defenses. They will still slide their best players to offense, have not-as-good players populating their defensive rosters and thus, things will persist as they do now.

However, I do think that the big thing to watch here will be offenses changing. We saw Kansas State's more power-based attack have legitimate success in a Big 12 where nearly everyone is designed to try and contain tempo schemes. Western Kentucky turned up the power a season ago in the Sun Belt, where teams have smaller defenders as the norm.

I'll be curious to see who else shifts towards more power as defenses shrink in size. With the exception of the elite programs, most teams are ill-equipped to consistently stop both power and spread attacks. That will be one of the more interesting things to watch over the next several seasons.

Ah, my favorite question-asker with a question about my favorite part of Big Ten media days. Of course, by favorite part, I mean the part that was the most squeamish of the several very squeamish moments during the rapid-fire Big Ten media day main-room chats.

I think if I had to ask Ferentz anything, I'd likely go with this:

"Coach, you guys only gave up 25 points a game in Big Ten play a season ago but scored only 19. What are you and offensive coordinator Greg Davis' plans for manufacturing not only yards, but points? Especially with the loss of James Vandenberg.

"Quick follow up; where do you think your offense fits in this conference as more teams employ tempo-based attacks and look to put pressure on defense by stretching the field horizontally and vertically? Have you given any thought to modifying your approach?"

I'm genuinely curious to know how they plan on getting better and attacking defenses this season. When I look at the roster and watch last year's games, it is tough to imagine them improving much. Which leads to that follow-up as to what style they are going to play and whether or not they have given thought to changing their style.

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