joshuahuskers asks: “Looking into the future and who could (and likely will) be fired after this season, which school is most likely to WELCOME MIKE LEACH as its head coach next season?”
UCLA needs to give Leach a serious look. The Bruins already rolled the dice with Rick Neuheisel, a coach fired from the University of Washington in 2002 for gambling on the NCAA basketball tournament and lying about contact with the San Francisco 49ers re: their coaching vacancy. Or, at least, that’s what the explanation for his termination was – much shadier stuff was going on during Neu’s stint at UW.
Whatever your stance is on the circumstances of Leach’s firing from Texas Tech over the whole Adam James issue, I think most reasonable people would agree that the reward outweighs the risk in this case.
Check out this tweet: “Amazing stat: The top five passers this year have all been coached by a @Coach_Leach protege. (Weeden/Keenum/Geno Smith/Foles/Landry Jones)”
There’s zero doubt that Leach would come in and immediately make UCLA, at the very least, a competitive team in the Pac-12. He never had a losing fall in ten seasons at a school in Texas Tech that picks up the recruiting scraps left by programs like Texas, LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M among other poachers. At UCLA, with USC under sanctions and struggling to stay at the top of the Pac-12, Leach could quickly make this the best program in the state and roll in high profile recruits.
A couple of SEC programs may have vacancies, with Ole Miss and Georgia looking ready to can their head men, but those programs play second fiddle in their own divisions of the SEC, not even considering the overall conference. And if you’re familiar with Leach at all, the whole UCLA situation just seems to aesthetically fit with the overall (or at least my) perception of his personality.
Do it, Bruins.
orangebird asks: “what the hell is happening in college park?”
He means College Park, Maryland, where his Terrapins got absolutely destroyed in their home stadium by Temple, 38-7, a game in which the Terps were favored by 9 points, in what was the most surprising result of the weekend in my eyes.
The Terps didn’t have a bad start to the season (and the Randy Edsall era) at all, beating Miami in the opener by 8, in a game that really shouldn’t have been that close. The next week Maryland trailed West Virginia by 24 points in the third quarter before rattling off 21 unanswered points and having a chance to win it in the end before Danny O’Brien threw a game-sealing interception.
Most of the complete collapse Saturday can be attributed to the awful defense. Maryland is ranked 103rd in the country in total defense, and #90+ in both passing and rushing D – they don’t do anything particularly well on that side of the ball. The other factor is QB Danny O’Brien going through something of a sophomore slump. His TD:INT ratio is 2:5 so far this fall after a solid 22:8 run last season.
Could new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton be the problem with O’Brien’s regression? While Crowton was at LSU, QBs Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee were walking punchlines for years, and the fall after Crowton left Oregon, Dennis Dixon went from being benched for Ryan Leaf’s brother in Crowton’s system to the clear Heisman front-runner in 2007 before going down with a season-ending injury.
The Maryland offense looks improved from last year overall, but if they can’t get consistent QB play from O’Brien, with that poor defense, there will be plenty of ups-and-downs.
SOME HABIB asks: “Is Oklahoma State… Legit? Are they fo real? Going down 20-3, that’s hard to come back from. Was it more of an A&M collapse? Or a good set of changes made by players and/or coaches?
Is Monken legit? Where would you put OSU in your top 25?”
OSU may be turning the corner as a program.
I happened to catch Mike Gundy’s halftime interview, when the Cowboys were down 20-3 as you mentioned – he was very calm and said very matter-of-factly that they’d be okay, as they were just making mistakes, and would be ready for the second half. Now something like that could be taken as coach-speak, but I found myself believing it for some reason.
Now did I expect that OSU would necessarily come back and win? Nope. The most impressive thing is that if Justin Blackmon didn’t make the bone-headed mistake of fumbling the ball out of the end zone on a sure touchdown catch, it would have been a complete runaway for the Cowboys in half two.
Sure, you can attribute the comeback in part to a collapse by an A&M program that hasn’t been in a position to win a game of that magnitude in a long time, but along the same lines, all of the players in this OSU program have won a lot of games: 11 last year, and 9 each of the two years prior. They have that intangible quality of knowing how to win that takes years to cultivate – A&M doesn’t.
Soonerfan09 asks: “Who has been the biggest breakout player in your eyes thus far? Who hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations?”
Junior running back Orwin Smith of Georgia Tech has been a big part of the country’s No. 1 offense.
Smith leads the nation in yards per carry by nearly 6 yards per tote, has 5 catches for 172 yards, and oh yeah, he returns kicks too. I had a lot of fun watching him for the first time this season in a big win against North Carolina last Saturday. Smith never seems to go down on first contact and is very fast on the edge. He had a solid 2010 campaign, but looks to be on another level this fall.
My biggest collective disappointment has been Boise State’s offensive line in the run game.
There is no reason Doug Martin should only be averaging 3.16 yards per carry, and that Boise is all the way down at 94th in the country in overall yards per carry, right below LA-Monroe and LA-Lafayette. Eck. When you have the threat of Kellen Moore, arguably the best quarterback in the country, tossing the ball around, there should be plenty of holes to run through. Last year the Broncos were 10th in YPC with the same running backs and Martin had double his current average with 6.27 YPC. What’s the deal?
bruinfan18 asks: “The Bruins are 20 point dogs heading up to the farm on Saturday night. I saw Stanford in person embarrass the Bruins 35-0 at the Rose Bowl last season in the home opener and the score could have even been worse. Any chance the Bruins can somewhat keep it close? With the running game of Franklin and Coleman and Brehaut doing a good job of holding onto the ball ( 4 TD’s, 0 INT’s) I could see us putting up some points. Stopping them on the otherhand is another ordeal.”
The Bruins should keep it closer than last year, but don’t get your hopes up. I’m usually not crazy about the score comparing game, but Stanford and UCLA have a common opponent: San Jose State. The Cardinal beat the Spartans 57-3 opening week. The Bruins stuggled in a 27-17 win. Not a particularly great sign.
Granted, Stanford hasn’t faced anyone that can run the ball much, but the Cardinal are No. 1 in the country in rush defense, having only allowed 108 yards on 88 carries. But unfortunately for the Cardinal, their best defender and top tackler, linebacker Skayne Skov, is out for the season after an injury suffered against Arizona.
The Bruins beat a bad Oregon State team on the road 27-19 last Saturday while Stanford sat and home and rested up for this one. For UCLA to be competitive, they’ll need Brehaut to hold on to the ball, control the clock against the nation’s reigning time-of-possession leaders, and hope Andrew Luck makes mistakes. Yeah, so chances aren’t good.
DeadMan asks: “Is the Big Ten as bad as it looks right now, or is it better? In other words, do you expect teams like MSU, OSU and Nebraska to get better in Big Ten play?”
There’s nowhere to go but up for OSU, and the Nebraska defense should improve with Alfonso Dennard returning and the general competency of that defensive coaching staff, but I think Michigan State will generally be the same team they have shown to be so far this year, which is pretty similar to the squad they had in 2010.
The bottom half of the league just looks bad. Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State, Purdue and Indiana have all had at least one embarrassing performance this year. Ohio State had that horrible performance against a borderline decent Miami team. That leaves Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State as the only teams that haven’t laid eggs. I don’t think that’s a terrible group to have at the top of a BCS league, but outside of Wisconsin and (maybe) Nebraska, none of those teams are striking fear into anyone.
DeadMan asks: “Also, is LSU a stone cold lock for the national title? What are their major obstacles to getting to the national title game? If they lose to Alabama and don’t make the SEC Championship game, what are the odds they might still get into the national title game ala Nebraska in 2002?”
Absolutely not. Les Miles has lost at least 2 games every year he’s been in Baton Rouge (since 2005). He’s lost 2 or more SEC games each season outside of his debut in 2005. LSU thriving in non-conference games under Miles isn’t anything new: he’s now 33-1 in such games, and they’ve played some solid teams in that span.
The roadblocks are home games against Florida and Arkansas, and the big Alabama trip on November 5th.
My biggest concern is LSU’s inability to rush the passer. Darron Thomas threw the ball 54 times against the Tigers. He wasn’t sacked once. WVU’s Geno Smith dropped back 65 times, and likewise wasn’t sacked. And it wasn’t like those two quarterbacks were being harassed after they released the ball either.
LSU’s linebackers are the relative weak spot on defense, and when teams like Alabama and Florida line up under-center and run right at them, no one is sure how they will respond. The Tigers have only faced spread running attacks so far, and have been playing with 5 or more defensive backs on the field at times.
Will the Tigers continue to be as fortunate with their turnovers? They held 4:1 advantages in both the Oregon and WVU games, and gained fewer yards than both of those teams in their respective games.
There’s a loooong way to go before declaring any team a “stone cold lock”.
Good question about the scenario where either LSU or Alabama could make the national title game despite not playing in their conference championship game. Yes, I could easily see that happen. SEC SEC SEC!!!1!!1!