UF

Florida QB Treon Harris gets the start, but Grier will play too

27 Comments

Florida used to be known for playing multiple quarterbacks, and it helped Steve Spurrier take the Gators to an elite status and helped Urban Meyer win his first national championship. New Gators coach Jim McElwain may not have that kind of quarterback pool to swim in down in Gainesville, but he will continue this Florida tradition to open the season. Well, technically.

McElwain announced today Treon Harris will be the starting quarterback for the Gators when they host New Mexico State on Saturday. Will Grier will also get some playing time though.

“This is still a painting in progress,” McElwain explained. “This is two guys pulling in the same direction to help this football team.”

Like a handful of teams around the country, there simply is no clear winner in the quarterback competition at Florida just yet, so seeing what each can do in a live game situation can be critical. This holds especially true at Florida with a brand new head coach who has not previously worked with either player during the course of the regular season.

Harris played in nine games last season for the Gators, in which he completed 49.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions thrown. Grier was a four-star dual-threat quarterback recruit for Florida in the Class of 2014. Despite enrolling early at Florida in 2014, he did not play last season and was able to save the season with a redshirt.

Baylor QB switches position to help pave way for Jarrett Stidham

2 Comments

Believe it or not, there is actual on-field developments worth discussing with regard to the Baylor Bears. Things are happening with the quarterback depth leading up to the start of the season, but the impact will be seen more in 2016 if things go as planned.

Chris Johnson will be moving from quarterback to wide receiver in the coming year in a position change that undoubtedly is designed to clear a path to the top of the depth chart for freshman Jarrett Stidham (pictured). Stidham was quite the recruiting victory for Baylor head coach Art Briles, as the highly rated quarterback was once commited to Texas Tech. At one point a financial aid agreement with Texas Tech was even signed by Stidham.

Seth Russell is still expected to be the starting quarterback for the Bears entering this season. Briles has stood firm on that idea since the spring. This position change does not alter that line of thinking in any way. This will, however, bump the talented freshman up the depth chart now, putting him at No. 2 behind Russell. That would also likely mean there will be no redshirt season for Stidham.

Nebraska, Big Ten top FWAA’s 75th Anniversary All-America Team

21 Comments

This topic might cause some differences of opinion.

To honor its founding back in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Thursday announced its 75th Anniversary All-America Team.  A total of 41 schools and 75 players are represented on the first, second and third teams, with 56 of the 75 already inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Nebraska, with six, placed the most players on the three teams, followed by Ohio State and Pittsburgh with five each.  Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas were next with five apiece, while Georgia, Michigan and USC netted three each.  The only other schools with more than one player were Florida, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame and UCLA, all with two.

Based on where the schools currently reside, the Big Ten leads all conferences with 19 players.  That does include Nebraska’s six, even as all six of those came from the Cornhuskers’ time in the Big Eight/12.  The ACC was next with 15, although it should be mentioned that Pittsburgh’s five players all played prior to the Panthers’ move into that conference.  The SEC, Big 12 were next with 13, 10 and seven, respectively.  The most for a Group of Five league was Conference USA’s three.

One of the biggest points of contention that I’ve seen on Twitter when it comes to this team has been the running back position, specifically with the inclusion of Archie Griffin on the first team.  While the former Ohio State star is the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, and whom I’m in no way dismissing as he was a tremendous talent, I, personally, would take Pittsburgh’s Tony Dorsett (second team), Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders (second team) or Auburn’s Bo Jackson (third team) over Griffin any day of the week and twice on Saturday.  In fact, there’s no way I could whittle my first-team running back down to just two out of these four: Jackson, Dorsett, Sanders and Georgia’s Herschel Walker (first-team along with Griffin).

Another point of contention?  The quarterback position, of course.

From first to third team it went Roger Staubach (Navy), Tim Tebow (Florida) and Tommie Frazier (Nebraska).  How Frazier is behind anyone, let alone those two — again, no disrespect to either — is the great unknown.  Not only that, but one could also question how the likes of, among others, Tennessee’s Peyton Manning, Stanford’s John Elway, Florida State’s Charlie Ward, Ole Miss’ Archie Manning, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, BYU’s Steve Young and, despite playing just one season, Auburn’s Cam Newton couldn’t find inclusion.

A couple of other things: Ohio State’s Chris Spielman would be a lock as a second-teamer on my team, although I do think the FWAA absolutely nailed all four spots in the secondary.

One final quibble on my part: Florida State’s Sebastian Janikowski should’ve found a spot on one of the three teams.  Case closed, end of discussion.

FWAA 75th Anniversary Team

Finally, if you were wondering how the teams were compiled, the FWAA explained it in its release:

A nomination ballot with selected players from all FWAA All-America teams was sent to the entire membership this spring. The popular vote was then taken into consideration by a Blue Ribbon Committee of FWAA past presidents, current board members and officers. That committee put the finishing touches on selecting the 75-man team. In order for a player to be considered for the FWAA’s 75th team, he had to be on a previous FWAA All-America team.

Some thoughts on Ohio State and being No. 1

63 Comments

The last time Ohio State opened a season as the top-ranked team in college football was in 2006. That should change this September when the defending national champions from Columbus start the new season in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech, the only team to hand the Buckeyes a loss last fall. With all of the talent coming back to the squad this season, Urban Meyer should see Ohio State receive its first No. 1 ranking since his arrival that did not come at the end of the postseason.

Ohio State won the national championship last season despite never being the top team in the AP Top 25 at any point during the season. That may sound odd, but it is not quite as rare as you might think.

In 2010, Auburn was close to pulling off the same feat. The Tigers, with Cam Newton at quarterback, worked its way up the polls all season long. The Tigers were given the No. 1 ranking by the Associated Press only after defeating Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn carried that number one ranking to the BCS Championship game against Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks. Oregon had previously been ranked No. 1 by the AP voters, yet lost the top spot to Auburn despite not losing. Florida pulled off a similar feat in 2007, with Meyer’s Gators (and Tim Tebow) grabbing the top spot in the poll after knocking off the previous No. 1, Alabama, in the SEC Championship Game.

But when was the last time a national champion earned the top AP ranking only after winning it all? You only need to look back to the 2011 season.

Alabama entered the 2011 season ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, and it seemed the Crimson Tide were destined to be in that position. Preseason No. 1 Oklahoma had not lost a game but slipped to No. 2 in the polls behind Alabama’s division rival, LSU. LSU took over the top spot in the poll after defeating three top 25 teams in its first four games (including No. 3 Oregon on a neutral field and road games against Mississippi State and West Virginia). Alabama moved down to No. 3 but moved back up to No. 2 to set-up that season’s edition of the Game of the Century against the Tigers, which turned out to be a field goal kicking contest (we know Alabama does not fare well in those). Alabama stayed in the hunt though and managed to sneak into the BCS Championship game to face the SEC champion LSU Tigers, and the rematch went the way of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Alabama was given its first No. 1 ranking in the AP poll at the conclusion of the season, the first time they held the top spot in the poll all year.

Ironically enough, this also happened a few years prior and it did so with an Ohio State and Urban Meyer connection.

In 2006, Ohio State entered the year as the preseason No. 1 in the AP poll. Jim Tressel and his Buckeyes proved worthy of the top billing all season long, knocking off two No. 2 teams in the process (Texas and Michigan) and a pair of other top 25 programs (Penn State and Iowa) while Troy Smith went on to win a Heisman Trophy. Meanwhile, Meyer had something special brewing in Gainesville, with Florida floating around inside the top 10 all season long, just waiting to strike. After putting away Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game (and No. 2 USC was upset by UCLA), the Gators chomped on Ohio State’s championship dreams in the BCS Championship Game. The victory earned Florida a postseason No. 1 ranking from the AP, the only time all season Ohio State had not held down the top spot.

So what did Florida do the next season? The Gators started the next season ranked No. 9 by the AP voters and finished the season 9-4. But that Florida team was not quite as loaded as Meyer’s Buckeyes should be entering this upcoming season. If Ohio State finishes this upcoming season with just nine wins, it would be a complete shock.

Other Recent Close Calls

Florida State’s 2013 national championship season did not see the Seminoles ranked atop the AP poll until the ACC Championship Game, where newly crowned No. 1 Florida State took over the throne from snake bitten Alabama (Kick-Six!) just before facing Duke in the ACC Championship Game.

In 2012, Alabama held the top spot in the polls for the majority of the season until Johnny Manziel and SEC newcomer Texas A&M stunned the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Alabama reclaimed the top spot in the polls after demolishing Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game.

Two glaring omissions headline Biletnikoff watch list

3 Comments

It’s not often that who’s not on what’s essentially a meaningless preseason watch list is the main storyline, but that’s the case when it comes to the Biletnikoff Award this year.

First, who is on the watch list for the award handed out annually to the nation’s top wide receivers: a total of 48 players at the position, which is actually a rather subdued number compared to other watch lists that come out this time of the year.

Headlining the four dozen receivers actually listed is Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who was a finalist for last year’s award that went to Alabama’s Amari Cooper.  Joining Higgins are 2014 semifinalists Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma and Nelson Spruce of Colorado.

Now, the players who was inexplicably excluded from the initial watch list? Auburn’s D’haquille Williams, first and foremost. The senior wideout was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month. He’s considered by many to be the best receiver in the SEC — Mel Kiper has Williams as his No. 1 player at that position — yet four receivers from that conference are included.  The only receiver on the Biletnikoff watch list to also make Maxwell’s is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.

Williams missed three of the last four games last season because of an injury, yet still totaled 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Kiper may have him a bit overrated on his Big Board, but Williams certainly deserves one of the 48 spots allotted — or the award should at least make room for a 49th.  Or a 49th and 50th.

That said, Williams can, and probably will, be added to an in-season update from the folks at the Biletnikoff.  The same could be said for Player. No. 2: Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Despite missing the last four games of the year because of a gruesome leg injury, Williams still led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and was second in yardage with 632.  Like Williams, Treadwell made the cut for the Maxwell, which is awarded annually to the best player in college football regardless of position.

Anyway, below is the complete Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State
Devonte Boyd, UNLV
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Ryan Burbrink, Bowling Green
KD Cannon, Baylor
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Rashon Ceaser, ULM
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
River Cracraft, Washington State
Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Josh Doctson, TCU
Travin Dural, LSU
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin
William Fuller, Notre Dame
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Donovan Harden, Georgia State
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Ajalen Holley, ULM
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
Marcus Kemp, Hawaii
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Mitch Mathews, BYU
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Artavis Scott, Clemson
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Shaq Washington, Cincinnati
Mike Williams, Clemson
Ron Willoughby, Buffalo