College offenses keep pushing the envelope

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The Oregon Ducks are averaging an amazing 630 yards of total offense per game.

The Oregon Ducks are second in the nation in total offense…and it’s not close.

The previous two sentences should be incongruous, but they are not. They are merely a byproduct of the offensive revolution that has come to dominate college football of late.

Six weeks into the 2013 season, an astounding 19 teams averaging at least 500 yards of offense per game. The Baylor Bears lead the way with an absurd 780 yards per game. By comparison, just two teams finished the season averaging over 500 yards per game in 2009.

Granted, it is still in the early going so the numbers are partially a reflection of opponent strength (or lack thereof), but it’s worth noting that back in 2005 everyone went absolutely ga-ga over a USC offense that averaged 613 yards of offense through six games. The fact that the Trojans averaged 50 points per game that year was also supposed to be a big deal. Mind you, that was an offense loaded with arguably the best personnel ever on one unit — Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, a star-studded offensive line, two second-round receivers and so on. But that team’s production was primarily the result of USC out-talenting its opponents.

Baylor has a nice collection of players, with two legitimate Heisman candidates (Bryce Petty and Lache Seastrunk) and a budding Biletnikoff contender (Antwan Goodley), but it doesn’t have an NFL player at every position like that USC team did.  Its incredible offensive output — 71 points per game?? — can mostly be attributed to the schemes and machinations of head coach Art Briles. Without Briles, Baylor would be just another Big 12 doormat.

And it’s about time people recognize that. Football commentators like to say it’s all about the Jimmies and the Joes, but they’re wrong: The X’s and the O’s matter, too, especially in college football. It’s not like Clemson would be as proficient on offense if it ran out of a Power I formation, would it? Would Baylor be the only team without a three-and-out in college football if it utilized a pro-style attack? Would Oregon be what it is today if it had run the West Coast Offense all these years?

No way.

Scouring the top 20 teams in total offense, only three run what are usually referred to as ‘conventional’ offenses, meaning with the quarterback primarily taking snaps from under center and with the offense huddling before every play.

The evidence in favor of the effectiveness of spread-style systems is so compelling, it’s a wonder that more elite schools don’t go full bore in this direction (Florida was one that did and it won two titles). Imagine if the USC offense of 2005 — or even 2011 — had run the Briles scheme. Or if Alabama emulated what Oregon does on offense. Those two teams running those schemes with their talent level would rewrite the offensive record books and probably never lose.

Of course, we’ll never see that happen because programs like USC or Alabama want to win the way they’ve always won, even at the risk of not optimizing their production. In the meantime, college offenses keep improving to the point where teams that would normally be excluded from the national conversation — the Oregons, the Baylors, the Texas A&Ms, the Clemsons, etc. — are now dominating it.

Better get used to it.

Reports: Josh Jackson’s academic issues resolved, QB remains part of Virginia Tech football team

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Hokie Nation, it appears you can unofficially breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Rumors were swirling earlier this month that Josh Jackson‘s eligibility at Virginia Tech for the 2018 season was up in the air over unspecified academic issues.  While there is nothing yet official from the school, multiple media outlets in the area are now reporting that whatever issues there were have been resolved and the starting quarterback remains a part of the team.

Bitter went on to write in an online story on the situation that “[t]here’s no indication he’ll face any type of suspension, meaning he most likely will be the starter for the Hokies’ opener at Florida State on Labor Day night.”

Suffice to say, this is a sizable development for the Hokies’ football fortunes in 2018.

As a redshirt freshman last season, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing.  The yards were the most for an FBS freshman in 2017, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.

If Jackson had been ruled ineligible for the upcoming season, head coach Justin Fuente would’ve then turned to either redshirt freshman Hendon Hooker or redshirt junior Ryan Willis. The former hasn’t attempted a pass at the collegiate level, although the latter, a transfer from Kansas, passed for 2,530 yards on 432 pass attempts while with the Jayhawks.  Willis sat out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

UCF’s Michael Colubiale granted sixth season of eligibility

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The ever-benevolent NCAA continues to give, with UCF and one of its players the latest beneficiaries of The Association’s “never-ending” graciousness.

On his personal Twitter account late last week, Michael Colubiale announced that he has been informed by the NCAA that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility. That ruling will allow the tight end to play the 2018 season for the Knights.

This upcoming season will serve as Colubiale’s final year of eligibility.

After missing the entire 2015 season due to injury, Colubiale played in all 25 games the last two years. He caught 10 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown in 2017, one season after he totaled two catches for 17 yards.

The ruling is a significant one for the Knights as they lost a combined 42 receptions for 479 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 at the tight end position due to the expired eligibility of Jordan Akins (30-459-4) and Jordan Franks (12-120). In fact, and aside from Colubiale, not a single tight end on UCF’s current roster has caught a pass at the FBS level.

FCS the landing spot for Michigan State transfer Kyonta Stallworth

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The eighth player to transfer from Michigan State this offseason has found himself a new college football home.
A Southern Illinois spokesperson confirmed to mlive.com that Kyonta Stallworth has transferred into their football program.  As the Missouri Valley Conference program plays at the FCS level, the offensive lineman-turned-defensive lineman will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 for the Salukis.
Including this coming season, the defensive tackle will have two years of eligibility remaining.
The move to SIU comes nearly four weeks after Stallworth took to Twitter to announce his decision to transfer from the Spartans. No specific reason for the move away from East Lansing was given at the time.
A four-star member of MSU’s 2015 recruiting class, Stallworth was rated as the No. 8 guard in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Michigan.  Only one player in the Spartans’ class that year was rated higher than Stallworth — running back LJ Scott.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Stallworth played in seven games the past two seasons.  Five of those appearances came in 2017, a season in which he was credited with 11 tackles (seven assisted, four solo) and a pair of quarterback hurries.  All told, he finished the MSU portion of his playing career with 12 tackles.

Texas Tech lands commitment from 6-foot-11 offensive lineman

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It’s been a day full of massive news in college football. After word broke that Alabama has offered a 6-foot-7 offensive lineman entering his freshman year of high school, Texas Tech did the Tide one better.

On Sunday, the Red Raiders landed the commitment of 6-foot-11, 345-pound offensive lineman Trevor Roberson.

A 3-star member of the Class of 2019, Roberson also reported offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and others. He is the sixth member of Kliff Kingsbury‘s 2019 class, and the fourth player to pledge in the past week.

“The crowd was huge, first off. The crowd was amazing,” Roberson told 247Sports of a visit to see the Red Raiders’ loss to Oklahoma State last season. “If there were empty seats, you couldn’t see them. It was tremendous. My favorite part was seeing the players, I love watching those guys play. It’s truly amazing to see how, for me personally, these college athletes started from the same position I did, and you see where they are now. They have a lot of heart. Texas Tech is an amazing school and an amazing program, and I’ve always felt that way about them.”

Roberson hails from Wellington, Texas, a Panhandle town between Amarillo and Norman, Okla. Wellington claims just 2,100 residents, so Roberson may be the biggest thing to come out of his hometown — literally and figuratively.