College Football Mailbag: Kickoff Week
Billy Phelan of Cincinnati, Ohio asks:
1.What college football player that is an "unknown" in the minds of most college football fans will be one the biggest names this year?
There are an endless number of players I could choose from here, but I’m going to go with running back Darrell Scott—one of the nations top high school football recruits that landed at Colorado. Colorado and Texas battled it out for the highly touted tailback’s services, but in the end he chose to play for the Buffaloes and head coach Dan Hawkins. Just how good was Scott in high school? Well, as a junior at Moorpark(California), he had 337 rushes for 3,194 yards(9.5 yards per carry), while piling up 45 touchdowns on the ground as well. He also rushed for over 200 yards 10 times during his junior campaign. The Ventura, California native racked up 70 scholarship offers from Division 1-A schools. That’s the highest number of offers I have ever heard of for any recruit in Division 1-A.
He would transfer to St. Bonaventure for his senior season, where he would once again chew up opposing defenses for monstrous numbers, racking up 2,433 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground. Not only that, Scott also punted for St. Bonaventure, averaging 36.9 yards per punt on 13 punts. He pinned 8 of those 13 punts inside the 20, which is flat out ridiculous! The kid is just a football player folks. After it was all said and done, Scott had finished his high-school career as California’s fourth all-time leading rusher, chewing up 7,605 yards and 99 touchdowns. Those numbers are all absurd but perhaps the most impressive is the fact that Scott rushed for over 100 yards in 37 of his 41 football games throughout his studded high school career.
They have some of his highlights on You Tube, but those really don’t do him justice, check him out on rivals.com if you know somebody that has a subscription. At 6’1, 225 lbs. Scott is already physically ready for the college game, has excellent change of direction, vision, and is rarely brought down by the first defender in the open field. Look for Scott to contend for Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors and to carry the Buffaloes’ rushing attack all season long.
2. Who would you see as a Darkhorse for the Heisman?
I’m not sure how much of a darkhorse he is because he plays for Oklahoma, but I can tell you I haven’t heard his name much in the discussion of the Heisman Trophy by many members of the national media. Running back Demarco Murray is one of the most electrifying players in all of college football and reminds many people of Reggie Bush. Last year he took the Big 12 by storm and danced around defenders for over 700 yards on the ground in 11 games of action, averaging 6 yards per carry. He was also one of the most dynamic kick returners in college football, returning two kicks back for TDs and averaging over 29 yards per return on 15 attempts.
He redshirted during the 2006 season and against North Texas in 2007, his first game as a Sooner, he rushed for 201 yards and 5 touchdowns. He became the first Oklahoma player ever to score four touchdowns in a half during their debut. His 15 touchdowns during his freshman season tied the school record set by Adrian Peterson. The reason more people aren’t mentioning him for the Heisman is because he suffered a dislocated kneecap in the 11th game against Texas Tech, which forced him to miss the remainder of the season and spring practice.
Unfortunately for other teams in the Big 12 and around the country, Murray has assured everybody he’s back to 100 percent, which is a scary thought. Oklahoma not only returns one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in sophomore Sam Bradford, but they return an offensive line that as one publication so aptly put it, “blocks out the sun.” Duke Robinson is a 6’5, 335 pound mountain of a man that happens to be one of the nation’s best offensive linemen. Then there’s Phil Loadholt, who towers above everybody with his gargantuan figure, 6’8, 337 pounds. So how good are Murray’s chances for the Heisman? Well, he’s got a talented quarterback to help keep opposing defenses from stacking the box, he’s got an offensive line that resembles the Great Wall of China, and he plays for a talented team that will get tons of national media attention and exposure.
The Oklahoma Sooners will likely hook up with Missouri in the Big 12 title game near season’s end. Trust me, as long as Demarco Murray stays healthy, his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy will only increase. Let us not forget, the kid is only a red shirt sophomore. If you want to check out his highlights copy and paste the following link in your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F13--WSM2JQ&feature=related.
3. Do the Bobcats(Ohio U.) have a realistic shot at beating the Buckeyes(Ohio State)?
There is parity everywhere in college football, look no further than last college football season aka the season of the upset to demonstrate that. Upsets happen, but I honestly don’t see it happening, not by a long shot. I think the Ohio Bobcats are going to field a very talented team this fall that is going to surprise many of the pre-season magazines. Frank Solich’s squad is oozing with talent at all the skill positions, including receivers (Taylor Price and Lavon Brazil), running backs (Vince Davidson, Chris Garrett, L.J. Flintall, Donte Harden), and quarterback Theo Scott. They also have two of the best tight ends in the Mid-American Conference in David Carter and Andrew Mooney. After looking at all of that returning talent on offense, I was really baffled as to why the pre-season magazines really didn’t fall in love with the Bobcats more. I think the biggest reason is many of the magazines and experts think the loss of Ohio’s all-time leading rusher, running back Kalvin McRae, will simply be too devastating of a blow.
I think that the Bobcats’ season hinges on their offensive line gelling and turning into a dominant unit, something that hasn’t materialized in years past. If the offensive line can block effectively and efficiently, then the Bobcats end up in the MAC title game against Central Michigan. If the o-line doesn’t come together, then the Bobcats will likely find that it will be a long season.
Back to the Ohio State question, well when trying to figure out whether or not a team could beat somebody, you always try to match up common opponents. Ohio State trounced Kent State and Eugene Jarvis last year, 45-3. The Bobcats, on the other hand, struggled mightily with the slippery Jarvis, and lost a close one at home 33-25. That doesn’t bode well for the Bobcats and I just don’t think Ohio will be able to move the football very well on the Ohio State defense, which returns the likes of LB James Laurinaitis, LB Marcus Freeman, and CB Malcolm Jenkins, all of which are All-American candidates at their respective positions.
Ohio State is so talented on both sides of the ball, I like their chances of making a third straight national championship game appearance. Another thing I can’t see happening is Ohio being able to slow Ohio State’s workhorse of a running back, Heisman Trophy candidate Chris “Beanie” Wells. I think he’ll pile up the yardage against the Bobcats. Some people might argue that Ohio State might be looking ahead to the highly anticipated third game on their schedule(USC Trojans) when they face Ohio, but I don’t see that happening either. The Buckeyes have been so consistently dominant over the past few years and they return so much talent, I think you would be stupid to pick against them in a game against Ohio. 4. Who do you see as the most overrated/underrated team and player(s) in Division 1A?
Most overrated team: Lou Holtz picking the Irish to make a BCS appearance and win 10 or 11 games without question makes the Notre Dame fighting Irish the most overrated team that I’ve seen. Sure, the Irish return a lot of starters from last season’s squad and return gunslinger Jimmy Clausen, but that team was so bad last season there’s no way in a million years I could envision the Irish having a season remotely close to that. If Charlie Weiss would feed running back James Aldridge the ball more, maybe good things would happen for him.
The Irish had well documented problems along the offensive line last season, arguably the worst line in the nation. Weiss figured that it would be a better idea to hand the ball off to scat back Armando Allen instead of the power back, Aldridge. I still didn’t understand that one. Aldridge should’ve gotten more carries because he was 6’0, 225 lbs., whereas Allen is 5’10, 190 lbs. Call me crazy, but if you’re having offensive line troubles wouldn’t you feed the rock to the man with more beef so he could break more tackles? The Irish also have yet another tank at running back in Robert Hughes who is 5’11, 237 lbs. Lucky for Irish fans, the Irish offensive line should be improve alot in 2008. They return three starters from 2007 and I could see the unit allowing around 30 sacks, as opposed to 58 from last season. That’s improvement, but the unit still has a ways to go before it becomes a dominant one. You have to be patient, especially when it comes to the chemistry of the offensive line. Another talented player that is currently listed on Notre Dame’s two-deep that I like a lot is freshman receiver Michael Floyd. I think he’ll be a game-breaker for years to come.
Sophomore receivers Golden Tate and Duval Kumara not only have some of the best names in college football, but they are also excellent players on top of that. Losing tight end Mike Ragone for the season due to injury is a tough loss for the Irish, I was looking for him to have a big season. Defensively, the Irish return a decent amount of players, but they still have a long ways to go in terms of their improvement. I’m gonna say 5-7 for the Irish this season, 6-6 at best. Give them another year of development and then we’ll be talking about a legitimate top 25 team. Lou Holtz might just like making the most unrealistic predictions ever to see how much college football fans can loathe him. I like his pep-talks and I think they are pretty funny, it is hilarious to hear Holtz speak because he sounds like Sylvester from “Looney Tunes”… “Suffferinnn’ Succaatasssssh”.
Most underrated team: The Florida Atlantic Owls definitely win this award if you ask me. Last season, they finished their 2007 campaign with an overall record of 8-5, including a 44-27 thrashing of Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl. They return one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football in junior Rusty Smith. Last season he set the Sun Belt conference on fire by completing 58.7 percent of his passes for 3,688 yards, while tossing in 32 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The 2007 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Smith has all the tools to be a top-notch talent on the next level and has already generated a buzz among NFL scouts. The golden-armed gunslinger will be happy to see that he has a mammoth of a man blocking for him this season, the 6’8, 340 pound Carl Spitale, who transferred from Ohio University last season. Smith also has a variety of weapons at his disposal, including talented tight end Jason Harmon, all-purpose threat DiIvory Edgecomb, and running back Charles Pierre. Harmon has a patented leap called the “Harmon Hurdle” where he leaps over opposing defenders in the open field. Harmon hauled in 63 catches last season for 825 yards and eight touchdowns. I didn’t even mention the Owls’ leading returning wide receiver, Cortez Gent, who snagged 64 balls last season for 1,082 yards and 9 touchdowns. Florida Atlantic also boasts some of the best defenders that you’ve never heard of, including the sensational cornerback tandem of Tavious Polo and Corey Small.
Last season Polo picked off seven passes during his freshman season en route to earning Freshman All-American honors. Small had five interceptions last season and racked up over 100 tackles. The undisputed leader of the FAU defense is senior linebacker Frantz Joseph, who piled up 131 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks last season. The Owls won the Sun Belt title last season and while the Sun Belt isn’t the most talented conference in college football, I think this season FAU will show that it can play with just about anybody. Lookout this weekend, when the Owls play their first game against Texas, I could see Florida Atlantic upsetting the ‘Horns in Austin. Mark that game on your calendar, folks.
Most overrated player: QB Sean Glennon, Virginia Tech: The media constantly gives this guy more credit than he deserves and granted while he did have certain games where he had flashes of brilliance, Sean Glennon is simply a turnover waiting to happen. He throws a beautiful looking ball, but that means nothing when you can’t make the right decisions with the football and take care of it.
Most underrated player: QB Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan: All LeFevour has done in his first two seasons at Central Michigan is single-handedly rewrite the school and conference record books in route to winning back to back Mid-American Conference titles at Central Michigan. This year he will likely win his third in a row, but he won’t get any help from the CMU defense, which has given up generous amounts of points over the past few years. Last season he became the second player in NCAA history besides Vince Young to rush for over 1,000 yards and throw for over 3,000 yards in the same season. Heck, the guy even threw for over 3,000 yards two years ago when he was a red shirt freshman, which is unheard of. He also had 46 total touchdowns in his stunning sophomore campaign. The problem is I don’t think too many college football fans nationwide would know about LeFevour because the visibility of the MAC is very low. The media should give a player like him much more attention. Lookout for LeFevour—a dynamic dual-threat quarterback who can dance around the defense with his fleet feet or beat them with his ultra-accurate arm.
That’s it for the mailbag this week. Look for more college football coverage from me throughout the season.
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