At first today looked to have a very weak showing in the mailbag. However, after threatening to do my own Q and A, the masses responded in a big way. We've got a hefty mailbag, so let's get into it!
Maryland is going to be just fine. They will not be perennial contenders in the Big Ten, but they also will have a group of kids capable of getting them to 7 or 8 wins on a yearly basis. Given the recruiting landscape and the the Terps ability to pull right into the middle of the league in that regard, I don't expect them to be the dogs so many Big Ten, and average, fans think.
Randy Edsall is a quality ball coach, he will have them playing solid defense and good, run first, football from a game to game standpoint. It was fun for folks to pile on Edsall during the early transfer situation, but since hiring Mike Locksley to bridge the gap between head coach and players, the Terps have been pushing upward.
So, no they are not messing around with the ACC, the Terps have been building to this since Edsall got to College Park. Unfortunately, last year looked worse than it should have, due to the quarterback injuries. Right now, Maryland is my fourth best ACC squad and they get a chance, with Clemson and Florida State on the schedule, to increase their stock.
Staying on the Terrapin train, I think that Maryland's got a better shot to upset Clemson than the Seminoles, mostly because of what FSU brings to the table, defensively. Clemson leaves more opportunities for the Terps offense to score both on the ground and through the air. Add in CJ Brown's ability to tax the Tigers with the run and pass, and I think a Clemson upset is more likely.
Plus they get Tajh Boyd and Co. at home.
Florida State is not great against the run, they are still ironing out the kinks, but they do bring a physical presence to the field every play. Maryland likes to play physical as well and I trust Florida State's bodies to wear out Maryland over the course of 60 minutes, something that will slow the scoring for Edsall's team.
Man, I do not even know. Tyler Murphy looked good against Tennessee, but I'd like to see more before I crown him as some sort of savior that will resurrect Florida's offense against a team that has a defense with a pulse. Luckily, he gets to go out there and tune his skills up against Kentucky this weekend.
Personally, I think there are some good qualities there and he does seem to be in control of the game. He is more certain of his passes and throws a catchable football. I'll definitely be watching him this weekend and against the Hogs to see where he is as a quarterback, instead of just a back up trying to win a game.
Speaking of thoughts on quarterbacks, this is a big one. It has come up with Teddy Bridgewater as well as Jameis Winston. There are groups of people that do not believe you can separate talent evaluation from the competition that is being played and to that I say, "you're wrong," especially at QB.
With the quarterback position there are so many elements that have zero to do with the defense or competition and that is what people have to look at first. We're talking pre-snap reads, pre-snap checks, pre-snap recognition of pressure and then as the ball gets to the quarterback we're looking at what he does next.
How does he take his drop? Does he stand tall in the pocket? Does he stare down wide receivers? Does he adjust to post-snap defensive moves, such as disguised coverages? Does he get through his reads and progressions or only make the first read throw? Does he deliver the proper type of throw from a velocity, placement and trajectory standpoint? Does he throw his receivers into trouble? Does he throw his receivers open?
Call me crazy, but those things are not heavily competition, or even defense dependent. They are about the quarterback doing what he is supposed to do, and that is what you have to look for on a play-by-play basis.
I expect Alabama will be just fine going into the Ole Miss game. The Tide, like Georgia, sort of slept-walked through last week's contests and now both have big games coming up. For Bama, I think Nick Saban has a bead on his kids and I expect they recognize that the Rebels come in with an upset on their mind and marquee win for Hugh Freeze.
Look for them to get the run game going early against the young Ole Miss front, after the rushing effort was not the prettiest against Colorado State. That means heavy doses of the Power-O, the inside zone and linemen getting a hat on hat to open up holes. Establishing the run, from the offensive side of things, has to be job one and I think Saban, offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier, and the Bama O recognize that fact.
On the defensive side, for the Tide, the only adjustment that I expect to see and to work for the Tide is more two-high safety sets to help the cornerbacks and getting pressure on Bo Wallace. Laquon Treadwell and Donte Moncrief are no joke on the edge and as Mike Evans showed us on September 14, Alabama's corners are not to be trusted alone. That means get safeties over the top and let the mix of talented safeties be the ones to stop the deep threat.
The other aid Bama will get will come from up front as the front-seven attacks the quarterback. A secondary's best friend is a pass rush and when there are weaknesses at the corner spot making the ball come out early can go a long way. Bo Wallace can run, sort of, but he does not scare Alabama the way a scrambling, zone-read keeping Johnny Manziel does. With that in mind, go attack Wallace, mug Treadwell and Moncrief at the line and let the talented group of safeties control the play over the top.
They are going through a coaching transition. I don't care who you are, if the team is changing coaches, changing playing styles AND having to break in a new quarterback, then you are going to have issues. Throw in the fact that the best option at quarterback broke his foot and then you arrive at where NC State is right now.
That said, NC State does not suck. They're a middling team that came very close to upsetting Clemson last Thursday night. Looking at the remaining schedule, outside of Florida State, there is not a game left that NC State should not feel confident it can win going forward. That doesn't mean they will go 10-2, but it does mean they have a great shot, and that is not something a team that "sucks" can say.
These kids had the rug pulled out from under them at the end of last season with a coach fired, they are trying to adjust to the new system, that's not easy. They should still be a seven or eight win club when the dust settles, and that's not "suck."
That sir, will be UGA. I think you knew the answer to this when you sent it in, sir, because I love the way LSU's secondary plays, anytime you have Micah Eugene as a nickel and third safety, you are in good shape. Throw in Tre'Davious White getting reps to go with Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins and the Bayou Bengals have the nation's best secondary.
As far as fronts go, I think LSU has a bit of an edge from an execution and bodies standpoint. The ability to rotate in so many quality players and continue to play at a high level has been a hallmark of LSU football for quite sometime and even with the NFL losses, they maintain that standard. Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson are the best interior duo in the country and that's where good defense starts.
However, I do love Jordan Jenkins, I wish Amarlo Herrera played in a simpler time without all this passing, because he is really good playing downhill and Trey Matthews is going to be one of the nation's best safeties when it is all said and done.
So, to answer, I think Georgia's proves to be the liability.
Hmmm, I don't usually think about offenses as "my favorite" in any sense of the word. Honestly, right now I am very close to just pulling LSU out because I love the way they work simple personnel packages to setup plays later in the game and push tempo in select spots to keep defenses in base personnel, only to find receivers open all over.
But, I am not going to do that.
Kidding. Yes, I am. LSU's offense, a pro-style attack with a great plan is the best for me to watch in college football. I also enjoy Wisconsin, Alabama and Stanford's attack. I am all pro-style everything, folks.
Here is where Georgia wins, in my mind, with Todd Gurley. There is no running back in the nation that I would rather watch run the ball, than this kid. He runs with a violent, angry style that I really dig. Gurley plays football the way it was meant to be played, to me. Ordinarily, guys like Gurley end up on defense, so when an aggressive guy who is looking to punish people plays offense, I sort of gravitate to him.
There are a lot of other guys that I enjoy, but none as much as Gurley.
I hope not. I just cannot imagine Nick Saban having to kowtow to the system by going to Texas and playing politician. It just does not seem like him, and honestly it would be like clipping his wings. Having to do shows on the LHN, having to operate in such a highly politicized state would just be brutal to watch out of a guy that really just wants to coach football and recruit elite athletes.
As for replacements, I think you have to start with a very Nick Saban-like guy, Jimbo Fisher. Same no nonsense approach to dealing with people, just win, and I think Alabama respects that more than most places, where fans like to be massaged into feeling an extreme connectivity and togetherness with the team. I doubt Alabama would look into many of the newfangled, no defense types, leaving them with a lot of defensive coordinator options, which is not a bad thing.
They played two actual good teams. Florida's got one of the nation's best front-sevens and that made for tough sledding on Saturday. Oregon has a quality defense built on speed and that made the Vols' jobs quite difficult.
Oh, and they get behind in games which creates a problem in, and of, itself.
Rushing attempts dropped from 52 and 45 in the first two easy contests, to 38 and 23 against the Ducks and Gators respectively. Tough to find the recipe for running the ball and work out the kinks when the other team is putting points up on the board. Coaches look to manufacture yards more quickly and that means throwing the ball more often.
I think against South Alabama, the numbers will go back up and we will see what they do against Georgia. The Dawgs have given up some big numbers on the ground and that could be where the Vols start to find their stride.
If you meant Texas, I think they have it figured out after falling behind early in BYU and Ole Miss games.