The Houston Texans so badly wanted out from under Brock Osweiller’s bloated contract, they traded him, along with a 6th round pick for this year and a 2nd round pick for next year and in exchange, they received one of Cleveland’s 4th round picks this season. You tell me – did the Texans make the right move or is Cleveland finally making smart trades?
Also note – Cleveland has a 10 picks in the 2017 & 2018 draft. Let’s hope they don’t waste them all on long-snappers, and punters.
It’s 2016 and the conference is starting off the season with some big matchups (intended and unintended).
Early Saturday features a game that Oklahoma didn’t anticipate being as big as it’s turned out to be. The Sooners go to Houston to play the Cougars at Reliant Stadium. With Houston coming off it’s best season in recent memory, they look to upset the 3rd ranked Sooners in their hometown and make a statement. I think they can score, but with 3 of 5 starters on the offensive line graduated and Greg Ward’s favorite target in the passing game in 2015, now playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it may be tougher than most expect. After getting handled pretty well by Clemson in the playoff last year, Stoops’ Sooners will look to make this a statement game early on, which they need to do with Ohio State headed to Norman in a couple of weeks.Sooners win 42-24.
Kansas State travels west to play at Stanford. Stanford was left out of the playoff last season, but just barely. They will be lead by Heisman hopeful running back, Chrisitian McCaffrey, and will likely try to run the ball right down the Wildcats’ throat. Do not count out KSU. Bill Snyder is one of those coaches who always seems to do the most with the least. I look for Stanford in the win at home, but much closer than expected. 31-28 Cardinal.
2016 is a make or break year for Dana Holgerson in Morgantown. The best record the Mountaineers have posted since coming to the Big XII in 2012 is 8-5 last season and a 5th place finish in conference play. They need to do better than that this year or Crazy Hair Dana may very well be gone. Look for them to start out strong against the Missouri Tigers who are coming of a horrible 5-7 season. I don’t think the Tigers improve much this year. Eers win at home – 38-24.
Notre Dame heads to Austin for the prime time game on ABC against the Longhorns. The horns are coming off a 5-7 season and, like Holgerson, Charlie Strong is in a make-or-break mode this year (They’re a lot less patient in Austin). Unfortunately, I don’t think Texas can get it done against the Domers. Notre Dame wins this one, though in a low scoring contest – 20-13.
Now, as to the rest of the conference this weekend, I’m not going to delve into much of it other than to say, if they don’t go 6-0 as conference in the remaining games, it’s a sad year indeed. Ther other 6 games on the Big XII slate this weekend feature all FCS opponents:
Northwestern State at Baylor, SE Louisiana at Oklahoma State, Rhode Island at Kansas, Northern Iowa at Iowa State, Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech, and South Dakota State at TCU. Aside from Northern Iowa at Iowa State (one of the better FCS schools at one of the worst teams in the Big XII), none of those games should be close. But I’m sure Kansas will find a way to blow it somehow (they lost to South Dakota State last year to kick of their winless 2015).
So there’s a rumor running around Cleveland that with Tennessee basically wanting 2 years worth of 1st & 2nd round picks from the Browns along with a Season Pass to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, the Browns are now trying to get with Philly on a possible trade to get Sam Bradford in an orange helmet. (side note: as a Sooner fan, the thought of a fellow alum wearing anything orange kind of sickens me)
Exploring this a bit further: The Browns reportedly tried to trade the Rams for Bradford earlier this year, but Sam wasn’t willing to sign any sort of extension or long term contract after such a trade as he was not thrilled about the notion of moving to a team with the same issues as St Louis (limited receiving talent, mediocre run game and poor protection on the right side of the line). This opened the door for the Eagles to move in and get Bradford to Philadelphia.
I’m now curious as to what has changed? The Browns still have the same issues. Has someone spoken to Bradford and told him he that playing in Cleveland is much better than being in the same backfield with the 2014 rushing leader and his former roommate from college in an offense that isn’t dissimilar to the one he ran at OU?
So Oklahoma had a lot of struggles this year on defense giving up just under 26 points per game which ranks as the 82nd best year an OU defense has had. Putting aside the injuries on a defense that didn’t have a lot of depth to begin with, that’s a pretty bad year. So what’s the first thing you do in the off-season? Well, of course, you fire your Co-Offensive Coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell since they only averaged 36 points per game. Yes, yes, they laid a big fat egg in the bowl game against Clemson, but I’m going with the Saban-defense here – it’s hard to motivate players if they aren’t playing for a national championship . . .does that count?
Side note: That ranks as 21st in the Sooner record books. For anyone keeping track – since Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell have been the co-offensive coordinators at OU, they have averaged 39.5, 38.2, 32.8 & 36.3 points per game in each season over the past four. Aside from the 2013 average of 32.8 (the #32 scoring offense in OU history), the other three years the offenses all rank in the top 25. Clearly the issues here lie with the offense and not the defense.
I’m not really sure what’s up with this move by Bob Stoops aside from trying to assuage the fears of the torch and pitchfork crowd in Norman. One would hope that there is some move, of which we are currently unaware, that justifies this action aside from reacting to the spoiled brat fans.
One – Aside from the offensive line, they were very young on offense. Yes, yes, we all know what Trevor Knight did to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last season, but did anyone notice that of the 9 players who caught passes in the Sugar Bowl last season, only two of them returned this season (Sterling Shepard & Taylor McNamara and McNamara was second string this season)? OU had an entirely new backfield with the departure of Brennan Clay & Roy Finch. Did anyone notice that?
The Sooners were ranked #3 & #4 in the pre-season polls based on the upset of the mighty Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl and the return of Trevor Knight. But no one seemed to notice that the offense had a plethora of new faces. So when they were running up the score in the some 2008, Bradford-esque fashion, the masses became troubled.
If there are more changes coming in Norman, let’s hope they include some on the other side of the ball. Things like:
Only playing 3 yards off a receiver on a 3rd and 4 instead of 8 yards off
Getting pressure on a quarterback
Staying at home on the backside of a running play
Better communication between defensive backs so we don’t leave receivers wide open with no over-the-top help from the safety
And most importantly (in case I forgot), TACKLING!
Bo Pelini will be taking over as Head Football Coach at Youngstown State University next fall after he lost his job at Nebraska.
He had a meeting with his players at a high school and per ESPN he said some very negative things about Nebraska AD, Shawn Eichorst.
“A guy like him, who has no integrity, he doesn’t even understand what a core value is,” Pelini said, according to the contents of the tape. “He hasn’t understood it from the day he got here. I saw it when I first met with the guy. To have core values means you have to be about something, you have to represent something that is important to you. He’s a f—— lawyer who makes policies. That’s all he’s done since he’s been here: hire people and make policies to cover his own ass.”
At the time of his firing by Nebraska, Pelini was due a $7.9 million buyout. There is no non-disparagement clause in that contract that would affect his severance. There is word that the administration may try to use Pelini’s public rant to get out of the buyout under that clause.
In my opinion, (however unprofessional Pelini was) to do so could negatively affect possible future hires for other coaching positions. When you consider Pelini has won at least 9 games in each of his seven seasons at Nebraska, who would feel remotely secure in taking any coaching job there knowing that not if you win at least 75% of your games, you can still lose your job and a buyout is on the line as well?
When we acquired Sproles from the Chargers, it was one of those beautiful synchronous moments in time. Like when amino acids started partying in the primordial soup and accidentally created life, except far less important to the creation of life on the planet earth. But synchronous. Because we had just parted ways with the inconsistent, oft-injured, and cap-heavy Reggie Bush and picked up in return a guy who was better, more consistent, and cheaper. His production the last three years has even made me forgive him for what he did to the Sooners in the Big XII Championship game.
Nobody was really shocked at our offseason axing of the beloved-but-again Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, and Jabari Greer. Cutting Lance Moore was a more bitter pill. But it wasn’t until we let Sprolesy go that most Saints fans started to hit the panic button. “Umm, management?” the fans are asking, “Will you kindly tell us (and therefore all other GMs and Player Agents) what the hell you’re doing?” To which Mickey Loomis has declined, because he’s not stupid.
With the resigning of Drew Brees two years ago and Jimmy Graham this year, we’ve had to shell out the big bucks for two superstars (something the Saints have little experience with. That’s taken some painful cuts, and more might be forthcoming. (If we cut Pierre Thomas, I think there might be a riot in the Marigny district of New Orleans, which will last for two and a half minutes because the rioters would be too drunk or too hipster to remember what they were doing.)
So those were longer thoughts. Short thoughts:
1) We’re starting to wonder what time horizon Mickey Loomis is looking at. Are we in “Win now” mode or are we in “Structuring” mode or are we hoping to pull off a Patriots-esque hybrid of the two?
2) Bigger than Sproles (literally and figuratively!), we’re shopping O-linemen Zach Strief and Brian De la Puente in free agency. This is terrifying. Brees cannot be his masteful wizarding self when he looks like a Wile E. Coyote-shaped grease spot in the turf. This is where the Saints are really playing Contract Chicken, and how that plays out will dictate by itself the answer to Question #1.
3) Lots of Saints fans are talking about grabbing either Dexter McCluster*** (Chiefs) or Golden Tate (Seahawks) to fill the Sproles void. Other Saints fans are thinking that we become a more trad-style rushing team and wondering if this is the year Mark Ingram starts to finally live up to his hype. Other Saints fans are drinking somewhere in the Marigny wondering why they were thinking about rioting.
4) Other big needs in this offseason: cornerback, safety, and wide receiver. (In that order — remember, we picked up Colston in the 7th round and Stills in the fifth round.) Unless we lose Strief and BDLP, in which case we’re drafting a cleric.
It is being reported that Bryan Harsin, who was an assistant in Boise from 2001-2010 was hired by Boise State to be the head coach today. This is in the wake of Chris Peterson leaving the Broncos last week after 8 seasons to take over at the University of Washington. Harsin spent the 2011-12 seasons in Austin as the co-offensive coordinator for the Longhorns and was rumored to be on the short list to the Texas job if Mack Brown is convinced to step down this week. He went 7-5 at Arkansas State this season.
The coaching carosel is in full swirl. Still “up in the air” (and we don’t think it’s that up in the air) is the status of Mack Brown in Austin.
UPDATE: 12/10/2013 – 23:34 PM – ESPN’s Brett McMurphy now reporting that Mack Brown will make the announcement that he is stepping down before the weekend. Sources close the Mack Brown are saying he prefers to tell his staff and players in person instead of them reading it on the internet.
UPDATE: 12/10/2013 – 16:34 PM – ESPN’s Joe Schad says Mack Brown has texted 247 SPORTS (HORNS247 section of the site) that he is not going anywhere. He says, “I haven’t seen [the] article,” Brown wrote in a text message to the website Horns247. “I’m in Florida recruiting. If I had decided to step down, I sure wouldn’t be killing myself down here. I have not decided to step down.”
12/10/2013 – 15:04 PM – Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com is reporting that Mack Brown will announce that he is stepping down after 16 seasons in Austin.
If Mack leaves, it opens up all kinds of question regarding the rumors of Nick Saban making a move from Tuscaloosa to helm the Longhorn program. If that were to happen, it would be an unprecendented move. To have a head coach at a blue blood program to leave after 3 national championships in the last 5 seasons, even it is for another blue blood program, just sounds flat out crazy to me.
Other, more likely, rumors include James Franklin the current head coach at Vanderbilt and the former Longhorn offensive coordinator and current Arkansas State Head Coach, Bryan Harsin, taking over control. It would be Harsin’s first stint as a head coach and while he would be a decent enough choice, Franklin, with what he’s done in Nashville, would be a much better choice.
What say you?
Just a few thoughts on last nights games.
North Carolina 10
South Carolina 27
Gamecocks jumped out to 17-0 lead in the first quarter in this one. Looked like it was going to be a blowout, but the Tarheels were able to claw and bite their way back a bit and keep it respectable. Jedeveon Clowney was catching some slack from the sports pundits for “taking a play off” here and there through the course of the game. Yes, you should be giving 100% effort every play, but considering the unseasonably cool weather we’ve had across the country the past couple of weeks and to suddenly have temps spike into the nineties with the humidity at an Ann Margaret level of sultriness – I think we can give the big boys up front a break for a minute of two in week one with a 17 point win in their pockets.
This one started out ugly for USC. With three drives in the first quarter, the Tojans only had three points to show for it with two drives stalling – one of them a turnover on downs after failing to convert a 4th and 4 at the Warriors 36. Hawaii pinned USC back at their own one early in the second and on the first play from scrimmage, Art Laurel sacked Cody Kessler in the endzone for the safety. Hawaii then got a great return on the ensuing kick to the USC 41 – they settled for a field goal, but did have the lead at the 11:43 mark of the 2nd 5-3. After that is was all USC as they intercepted Taylor Graham 4 times including a 35 yard return for a TD. The Warriors problem was a complete lack of balance. While they did have 208 yards, passing, they only mustered 23 yards rushing. Not exactly a recipe for success against one of college football’s big boy teams. For USC, it was still an ugly game and the “tandem QB” system Lane Kiffin is trying to work in, wasn’t so smooth last night. Kessler and Wittek combined to go 15 of 29 for 172 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 Interception (both by Kessler). They had ratings of 19.4 and 24.0 respectively. The only adage is true – If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t really have one.
Indiana State 35
Yes, yes, Hoosier fans, Indiana scored 73 points . . .against Indiana State. Before anyone in Bloomington gets too excited, keep in mind last season when the Hoosiers averaged 30 points per game. Scoring hasn’t been an issue since Kevin Wilson took over as head coach. Stopping other teams from scoring has been the chink . . .okay, you can call it a chink in the armor, but others might call it a big gaping hole in the armor. They gave up 35 points (28 in three quarters) last night . . .to the fighting Sycamores. So let’s be real and hope some of those problems get addressed as the season progresses.
UCF in a new conference – the American Athletic Conference (or the New Look Big East or the Old Conference USA Re-United as some would call it), but it’s still the same old Akron. One would think that having James Madison on the schedule next week would be a god-send for the Zips. Let’s hope that’s the case and they aren’t suffering a post beat-down, let-down. This one was pretty much over then Akron got off the plane in Orlando They didn’t score until there were 38 seconds left in the game. The Knights shouldn’t necessarily be chest thumping over this one. The Zips were 1-11 last season. The Knights will be getting ready for their next powerhouse game when they take on the Panthers of Florida International next Friday night.
This is the “Embarrassing Loss of the Night” – UConn isn’t exactly a dominant team in college football, but to lose to an FCS team on your home field in the season opener is never a good way to start the year. The Huskies scored first, but Towson answer right back late in the first quarter. The Tigers added to that lead midway through the second and never trailed after that. UConn gets next week off to lick their wounds before starting conference play against Maryland on the 14th. Towson gets to feel good for a minute, but moves on to Holy Cross next week.
Ole Miss 39
At halftime it looked like Vanderbilt had this one under control with a 21-10 lead going into the locker room, but Bo Wallace and the Rebels wouldn’t be denied outscoring the Commodores in the second half 29-14. The dagger in Vanderbilt’s heart came with 1:23 left in the game when Jeff Scott took the hand-off on the read-option from the Rebs own 25. He swept around the left end then made a beautiful cutback into the middle where he outran the remainder of the defenders for the go ahead touchdown. Both of these teams have FCS matchups next week with SE Missouri for Ole Miss and Austin Peay for Vanderbilt which works out nicely for them as they both have marquee matchups the week after that with visits to Austin and Columbia respectively to take on the Longhorns and Gamecocks.
Fresno State 52 – OT
This game was the very definition of a back and forth battle with 9 lead changes through the course of the contest. Midway through the second quarter, it looked like Rutgers was going to run away with this one when they opened up a 20-7 lead, but the Bulldogs fought their way back with the turning point coming after Janarion Grant fumbled a punt return. The subsequent drive lead to a touchdown making it a 20-14 game. The Dogs capped the first half with an 11 play, 80 yard drive that ended with a 2 yard TD pass from Derek Carr (yep, David’s little brother) to Davante Adams to give Fresno the lead 21-20 going into the locker room. The second half was a see-saw battle with both teams trading punches back and forth along with the lead. With Fresno down 45-38 and 1:18 left – Derek Carr put together a 5 play, 60 yard drive capped by a TD pass from the 2 to Josh Harper to tie the game at 45. Rutgers got the ball back with 38 seconds left and managed to get into field goal range, but Kyle Federico missed the 43 yarder that would have won it as time expired. In overtime, Carr wasted no time on the Dogs first possession completing a 25 yard pass to Greg Watson for the TD. Colin McGuire made the PAT to put Fresno up 52-45. The Scarlet Knights didn’t take much longer on their possession when, on the third play, Gary Nova found Brandon Coleman for a 4 yard TD. Rutgers decided to go for two points and the win (both teams looked exhausted by this time). Unfortunately, Derek Nova’s pass was incomplete and your Fresno State Bulldogs have now won 17 of their last 19 home openers. The two teams combined for 1,080 yards of offense and 5 turnovers. It wasn’t a defensive struggle, to be sure, but boy-oh-boy was it fun to watch!
This one has turned ugly here late in the game . . .no . . not ugly . . .stupid. Yeah – that’s it – STUPID!
I went to the Iowa vs. Michigan game last week for my first trip to the Big House in Ann Arbor which I will write about later. In that game, Michigan had a great offensive strategy. They used Denard Robinson as a running back, as a slot receiver as a wildcat QB and a lot as a straight up decoy. It worked like a charm as he is the kind of player that draws a lot of attention from a defense. You always have to account for him no matter where he is on the field.
Today against Ohio State in Columbus, every time I’ve seen him in the game in the second half it’s been as a quarterback with Devin Gardner on the sideline. When Gardner is in at QB, Robinson is on the sideline. They haven’t even tried to throw today with Robinson at QB making a defensive scheme incredibly easy for the Buckeyes: If Robinson is in, they are running the ball. Sure, he’s got 122 yards and a touchdown rushing today, but they haven’t done anything similar to what worked so well last week.
What was the thought process here? “Oh we did that last week, so they’ll be ready for it.” If that is the thinking, fine, but at least try to make them work for it by having Robinson and Gardner on the field at the same time. If you think I’m wrong, keep this in mind, after being up 21-20 on the Buckeyes at halftime, the Wolverines didn’t take a single snap on offense on the Ohio State side of the 50 in the second half.
The Buckeyes scored a pair field goals in the second half and held on to win 26-21 over Michigan and finish their season 12-0. The road ends here for Ohio State for this season as they are not eligible for the conference championship or a bowl game due to “Tattoo-gate.”
Michigan will go on to some bowl where I’m sure they will re-institute the Denard Decoy Offense and actually be competitive throughout the entire game.
Let me just tack on my conspiracy theory here: The Big Ten made a call to Brady Hoke at half time and requested they go into a shell with the offensive play-calling so Ohio State could finish undefeated and the conference would have a team that could possibly get an AP national championship which is good for the conference . . .right?