We have a couple questions that warrant pretty serious answers. So while we are light on questions, we are going heavy on answers. Sit back and enjoy another Your Best 11 Mailbag!
First and foremost, kudos for phrasing this query as such. The real key to N.C. State having a shot at upsetting Clemson this Thursday night is to keep scoring points. Given the pressure that the Tigers are going to put on the N.C. State defense, odds are the stops will be few and far between for the Wolfpack in Carter-Finley.
Clemson's defense can be scored upon, and for N.C. State, that has to be the goal on offense. No matter what Dave Huxtable's defense does, or does not do, the goal for the Wolfpack should be to get into the end zone.
No, actually, the goal on offense should be smaller: get first downs. First downs turn into touchdowns. Don't think about getting to the end zone every single time. Think about moving the chains and getting to the next set of downs. Stay on schedule whenever possible, get to third-and-shorts and points will be scored.
I'll be looking for a balance between quarterbacks Pete Thomas and Bryant Shirreffs. Thomas has experience and is a sort of game manager, while Shirreffs certainly looks to be the future of the program with his dynamic ability to run with the football. If the coaching staff was more confident in Shirreffs' ability to throw the ball, I expect he might be the starter.
But, alas, Shirreffs will be the change-of-pace and spark guy, while Thomas gets the go as the starter. Running the ball will be the Pack's main currency. That means big games from Matt Dayes and Tony Creecy are a must. Control the ball, use tempo, both fast and slow, to get the defensive personnel groups that State wants and it will have a shot to get into the end zone.
Hmmm, my favorite defensive player in all of college football this season. This is a big one. There are a lot of guys whose games I absolutely love. Although no one has earned that D.J. Swearinger-type affinity from me just yet, there is so much good ball being played, I have a hard time hammering down just one guy.
I really love the game of UCLA's Anthony Barr. He might end up being the best defensive ballplayer in the nation. C.J. Mosley at Alabama is a true leader out there and a guy who will do everything you ask of him. I dig the monster that is Stephon Tuitt at Notre Dame. Ohio State's Curtis Grant is playing the best interior linebacker of anyone in the nation and, whew buddy, if you had a team full of Anthony Johnsons from LSU, you wouldn't lose.
But, I mean, let's be serious here, my heart does and will always reside in the back-end. As Swearinger does his thing in the NFL, there is a new secondary player that earns the title of my favorite. I am going with Alabama's Vinnie Sunseri.
I almost went with Ole Miss freshman safety Tony Conner here, but ultimately Sunseri takes the cake, thanks to a conversation I had Saturday night while watching the Mayweather fight with an old teammate. We played in the same defensive backfield, and when we got to talking about football, Sunseri's name kept coming up. We both sort of looked at each other like, "Dawg, that kid is good, for real."
Talk about a dude that just gets it done in the secondary. He knows what he is doing back there, he's not afraid to get physical and if the ball is in the air, it is as much his as anyone else's. Oh, and despite what people will try to tell you, he's really athletic.
If Mosley is 1A, as the leader, Sunseri is 1B for the Alabama defense, and both of those guys work together to get everything in order for the Tide. Love his game.
Ah, the new rules. Most importantly, the rule on targeting and how, if you are flagged for targeting, you will be ejected. And if they overturn your ejection via a booth review, then you can stay in, but the penalty for the reversed call still stands.
You following me? No. Yeah, that is because it sort of does not make sense.
Now, I will toot my own horn here because when the rule changes were proposed, I said this was going to be an issue, way back in February. Then again in June, I tried to tell y'all again. Yet, here we are with people being upset about something we should have been fighting against long before September.
The rule is terrible. It forces officials, often with unclear angles, to make flash decisions based almost entirely upon how bad something looked in real time. Often, as we saw with Oklahoma's Gabe Lynn or Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, there is no foul at all, but thanks to this prime directive handed down from the rules committee, officials are ready to throw the flag.
With so many complexities to tackling and what part of the bodies collide, the smart thing to do is to review things postgame, during the week, in an effort to hand out proper suspensions where warranted. Not in the heat of the moment.
Throw flags for players using the crown of their helmet. That's where injuries happen. If safety is the goal, that should be what people want taken out of football. Not shoulder to shoulder where helmets also hit. Not facemask to facemask, or facemask to chest that also has helmets meet on the run through.
Stop guys from using the helmet as a weapon, and that means the crown of the helmet. They will hurt themselves and others doing that.