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College Football | The Sports Report Girl - Part 4

Preseason College Football Top 25: #23 North Carolina

Why They’re Here: This team had ACC championship aspirations last year and flat out underachieved. They’ve had a year to think about it and coach Butch Davis has to show something this year. Then again, UNC is a basketball school, so I can’t imagine the man’s seat is too hot.

The Good: The Tar Heels only lost a couple guys from a fantastic defensive unit. They return six all-conference players on defense and seven seniors. This is a senior class that knows what it’s capable of and has dealt with mediocrity for four years. If these Tar Heels are sick of being second-class citizens at a basketball school and really have the hunger in their bellies, they have the talent and the defensive scheme to make people stop and pay attention. Don’t be surprised to see these guys ranked in the top 10 in just about every defensive category and have a number of first, second and third round (once called first day) draft picks when the season is over. This was the first class that Butch Davis recruited all on his own, so this season he has no one to blame but himself for the team’s performance.

The Bad: Last year, the offense was anemic – and anemic is putting it nicely. The only returning all-conference player on that side of the ball is the kicker. If QB TJ Yates can manage to get it going, this team could challenge for the ACC crown.
That said, the ACC is in the midst of quite a renaissance this year with Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State all fielding potentially top 10 teams. While this may be Butch Davis’s most talented team, he’s also going up against the most talented teams he’s faced in his collegiate coaching career.

The Last Word: It remains to be seen if North Carolina can overcome itself and a very talented division. For some reason, whoever put together North Carolina’s schedule also decided to put Rutgers and Cincinnati on the block, and play LSU in the first game of the season. That decision may be what undermines what could have otherwise been a very successful season.

Preseason College Football Top 25: #24 Arkansas

Why They’re Here: Ryan Mallett, Ryan Mallett, Ryan Mallett. If this guy isn’t the number one pick in next year’s draft, it’s probably because he got caught snorting coke off the hood of a Jeep (and everyone tried to warn him not to hang out with Jeff Smoker). Bobby Petrino has this offense primed to explode. The defense, however, is another story.

The Good: The Razorbacks should have the SEC’s pre-season first-team all-conference quarterback. That’s quite an accomplishment and he’ll have to prove himself against the likes of Florida’s John Brantley, LSU’s Jordan Jefferson, Auburn’s Cam “Lootin” Newton and South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia. This is probably the best crop of SEC quarterbacks the conference has seen since the Manning-Wuerffel days. That said, Petrino has the offensive scheme and the quarterback to step to anyone in the conference and beyond. The Hogs also return all-conference tight end DJ Williams and all-conference receiver Joe Adams.

The Bad: As well as Arkansas’s offense throws the ball, they’re defense is just as bad at defending it. I can’t even imagine how one-on-ones go in practice. The offense must just score until Petrino blows the whistle and walks off the practice field shaking his head. Last year, the defense couldn’t stop anyone and they’ve lost DT Malcolm Sheppard to the NFL and a number of others. Petrino didn’t have a ranked recruiting class either, and with Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Auburn all having top 25 recruiting classes and all on this year’s schedule, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

The Last Word: In the end, it’ll come down to whether or not the Razorbacks can play defense. The Razorbacks are in the SEC West, home to LSU, Alabama and Auburn, all of whom are perennial defensive powerhouses. It doesn’t seem like Bobby Petrino has been paying a lot of attention to that side of the ball and they’ll never be a great team in the defensively stacked SEC without getting more stout.

Final Record:8-5

Preseason College Football Top 25: 25

SRG College Football Contributor Dion Rabo will be counting down his 2010 Preseason Top 25. Every few days a new team will make the list, and today we start with number 25…

25. Utah/Pittsburgh –

Why They’re Here: Consider this the play-in game for the number 25 spot. I think both of these teams could realistically do some damage in the BCS picture, but given the bias against their respective conferences, a loss in their September 2 season-opening game will probably spell the end of that.

The Good: Utah is returning eight starters on offense to a team that’s two years removed from putting a beating on Alabama. Their only damaging loss is OT Zane Beadles, who went in the second round of this year’s draft. That’s obviously a big loss, but if they can get someone to step up and fill his big shoes and protect returning starter, sophomore QB Jordan Wynn, the Utes are very dangerous at all the skill positions. They were able to go 10-3 with Wynn as a freshman last year and now that he’s had a year of the offense under his belt and a familiar corps of weapons, he and the Utah offense should be formidable.

The story for both teams will be the emergence of their sophomore studs. For Pittsburgh, the story is Dion Lewis. In addition to having the best first name in the world, the sophomore has got to be on the short list for preseason All-America and Heisman consideration. The Pitt defense is also stacked with experience. They will start only two sophomores – one of whom is returning starter FS Jarred Holley – and no freshmen.

The Bad: For Utah, Zane Beadles is a huge loss. A star left tackle is really a quarterback’s best friend and Wynn may have gotten a little spoiled not having to watch his blind side last year. They’ve also got TCU and BYU back-to-back on their schedule this year in addition to the tough game against Pitt to start the season. That may just be too much.

Pittsburgh should have another stud at tight end, but their receiving corps remains a question. New sophomore starter WR Tino Suseri will have to be a playmaker for this team to be as competitive as they want to be.

The Last Word: I like Pittsburgh to win this game and move into the AP top 25 for the second week. Their matchup against Miami on September 23, will tell where they really stand.

Final Record: Pitt – 11-2

Urban Meyer’s Apology Disappoints

March 30, 2010 by SRG  
Filed under College Football, Football, SRG's Blog

Last week Urban Meyer had a PR nightmare on his hands when he publicly emasculated Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. The outburst was caught on tape, and soon, it spread across the internet. Talking heads everyone castigated the Florida coach for stepping over the line.

His way of repairing the situation was to have a private conversation with the reporter whereby he was able to explain himself. Fowler accepted his apology, but afterwards, Meyer refused to face the media. From my point of view, that was a big mistake. The right thing to do is to offer a public apology. After all, he embarrassed and threatened the man in public, so why not apologize in Public?

2010 NFL Combine… Starring Tim Tebow!

It’s that time of year again… the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine is going on in Indianapolis. The yearly event features pro prospects at every position running a gauntlet of drills and sprints. From the 40 yard dash to the vertical leap, every hour of this week-long event is televised live (and repeated) on the NFL Network.

This year, though, things are a little different. No, the drills are still all the same, as is the meat-market atmosphere. What’s different is the presence of a certain prospect that goes by the name of Tim Tebow. As you can imagine, the hype surrounding this combine is off the charts. Everywhere you look, it’s Tim Tebow. Sure, he may be saving his new and improved throwing mechanics for his pro day later in the month, but he’s doing just about everything else you could want…

Including the Three Cone Drill. What’s that, you may ask? Well, the Three Cone Drill is a simple event where the participant runs a quick slalom back and forth between and around three different cones, about five yards apart. And Tebow ran one with a very good time… though I doubt he would say it was good. That’s because his time for the Three Cone Drill was… get ready for it… 6.66 second!

Get it? The NFL’s future Captain of the God Squad ran a 666!

It just doesn’t get better that that!

Highlights From The Tim Tebow Bowl (formerly known as the Senior Bowl)

Tim Tebow’s stat line for the Tim Tebow Bowl wasn’t exactly superlative; he was 8-12 for 50 yards with two fumbles and no interceptions. But even though Tebow didn’t play great, there were a number of things we definitely learned about his possibilities at the next level.

The positives:
His drop was very good. He was noticeably better than Tony Pike of Cincinnati and Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan.

He made the NFL throws. The throws to the sideline, the comeback routes and the timing routes were all thrown where they needed to be and when they needed to be. He showed he can make the throws if given time.

The North defensive line absolutely embarrassed the South offensive line. Tebow got hit a few times and didn’t have much time to throw the ball. He didn’t make too many negative plays (even though he did fumble twice) and it showed he could be an every-down QB. Anyone just looking at the stat line would probably think that his 8-12 for 50 yards with two fumbles was bad, but in reality he played about as well as one could expect after learning an offense that week.

The negatives:
He looked slooooooooow when he tried to run. Tebow broke loose and tried to run the ball a couple times and both times was brought down quickly. Nobody was ever trying to champion Tebow as a speed demon, but running the ball is part of his appeal at the next level and he didn’t look capable of running it against NFL speed in the Senior Bowl.

His release is slooooooooooow. Tebow’s first fumble put this weakness on display. He can fire the ball into tight windows very well, but NFL defensive lines are going to be able to get to him easily if he doesn’t speed his delivery up.

He didn’t have a Tebow moment. There was no Gator chomping, no big play, no steamrolling of a defender. Nothing. Without a signature Tebow moment, all the SportsCenter nation will have to look at from the Senior Bowl performance are his under throws and fumbles.

All in all, I would give Tebow a B-minus for the Senior Bowl. He showed that he could do all the things that you have to do in the NFL, but he didn’t do them especially well. If he can translate his skills in the spread to an NFL-style offense like the ones he learned this week, he could be a good quarterback – maybe. I still maintain there is no way he drops out of the second round and if he goes there I think he’ll go early.

Other notes from the Tim Tebow Bowl:
Corey Chavous was far and away the most thuggish sideline reporter I’ve ever seen. His performance was gangsta.

USC running back Stafon Johnson, who had to have surgery on his larynx after dropping a weight on himself, didn’t quite look natural running the football. In his defense, it was his first football game since September.

Tony Pike looked horrendous. The North offense basically operated in spite of him as opposed to because of him. If I were an NFL scout I would remove him from my draft board completely.

I didn’t see a single Lions coach – the coaching staff for the North – wearing any Lions gear. Conversely, the Dolphins coaches were decked out in Dolphins gear from head to toe.

I think Zack Robinson could be this year’s Tom Brady. He’s mobile, has a nice arm and makes plays. He’ll probably go late, but I think he could be a great quarterback in a few years.

Brandon Graham made himself a guaranteed first round pick, maybe even a top 20 pick with his performance. Anyone trying to figure out how to make an extra $10 million should watch his performance.

Mark McGwire, Pete Carroll & Lane Kiffin Walk Into A Bar…

In the last seven days we have seen some of the craziest sports stories of the new year… from Mark McGuire finally admitting to his use of steroids during his chase of the homerun record in ’98, to the coaching carousel in Seattle, Southern California and Knoxville.

Kiffin’s Departure Equals Disappointment All Around

January 14, 2010 by Dion Rabouin  
Filed under College Football, Football, SRG's Blog

For USC fans, this is about the best news you could hope for. Kiffin is a great recruiter, a pretty good coach and he’ll still have his dad around to make him look 10x better as a coach. The fallout from this, though, is that he’s going to lose any chance of recruiting big time athletes everywhere in the South. People in the South value trustworthiness and perceived authenticity. Not that USC was ever doing huge business below the Mason Dixon line, but that was what made Pete Carroll such an amazing coach – he could pull great players from everywhere in the country. Kiffin has alienated an entire (and very important) piece of the recruiting puzzle.

For UT fans, this is about the worst that could have happened. Your coach – who you never really liked anyway, but at least was putting the program back on the right track – has left and any big-name commitments he had gotten are up in the air, at best. Tommy Tubberville’s already taken another job and so has every other relevant assistant out there. You’ve now hired your wide receivers coach, who, by the way is named Kippy, as the head coach and he stands a legitimate chance of being your coach for next season. Best case scenario: You load up your out-of-conference schedule with powder puffs (again) next season and pray for a bowl game. Prepare for at least three more years of mediocrity – at best.

For SEC fans this means more down years for the SEC East, once one of the best divisions in all of college sports. The division is going to start looking eerily similar to the Big XII North circa 2002-now.

For me, the saddest part is that I was really looking forward to the Meyer-Kiffin rivalry being the new Spurrier-Bowden – one great coach against one obviously superior head coach, duking it out at big games every year, with National Championship implications on the line. I mean, not only does Urban now not have a foil, but who is Kiffin gonna beef with? Something tells me Steve Sarkisian isn’t going to provide that kind of riveting drama. The best thing about the whole rivalry was that Kiffin and Meyer genuinely hated each other. Meyer hated Kiffin because Kiffin was a loudmouthed, pompous, flippant, trash-talking, impudent jackass and Kiffin hated Meyer because Meyer was an obviously superior head coach. See, I’ve started hating him already.

The good news for Gator fans is that we get to watch Florida get stomped on by SEC West opponents in the SEC championship game for years to come. Yay!

Lane Kiffin to USC..? Duh!

January 13, 2010 by SRG  
Filed under College Football, Football, SRG's Blog

Can you believe it? People are still up in arms.

A day after the news broke that Lane Kiffin was indeed leaving the University of Tennessee to become the head football coach at USC, public opinion on the subject was running rampant.

And I’m not just talking about Tennessee fans, or even college football fans, but sports fans in general were weighing in on the blogs and talk radio shows to voice their disdain for Lane Kiffin.

Granted, the way in which he departed was certain to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths… not unlike when you reach into the fridge and take a swig of expired milk straight from the carton. No amount of rinsing and gargling can make that sour taste go away. Only time can do that.

And time is something the University of Tennessee has very little of in the wake of the carpet-bagger’s departure. Signing day is only three weeks away, and in order for the Volunteers to be able to salvage this year’s recruiting class, they in turn must do what was done to them… namely, poach a coach from a lesser program, leaving that school high and dry with even less time until signing day.

Should be interesting to see how everything shakes out over the coming days. But one thing I found very funny was the shot of Urban Meyer at the Florida Basketball game last night. Immediately following Lane’s impromptu news conference, the camera panned to Meyer in the midst of receiving a text message on his phone. By his reaction, I can only assume it had something to do with the exit of his Knoxville nemesis.

Mike Leach… An American Football Tragedy!

January 12, 2010 by SRG  
Filed under College Football, Football, SRG's Blog

Adam James may well be the poor character kid Mike Leach portrayed in his recent statements with the press… but it still doesn’t justify locking him up in a closet or shed. And for that lapse in judgement, Mike Leach’s coaching career in college is almost certainly over.
At least with respect to any programs that actually matter.

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