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April 19, 2011

College Football Report - 2011 NFL Draft Is Impossible to Mock:

I look at mock drafts and just laugh. Normally, I’m a fan. This year, I can’t hold it in.

The NFL Draft has always been impossible to predict, but ever since the NFL went into lockout mode, it’s been comical reading how the unknown will confidently unfold according to expert's mock drafts.

Bud Light is even giving away $10 million to anyone who predicts the 32 players who’ll get drafted in the first round on Thursday, April 28, day one of the 2011 NFL Draft. If $10 million seems high for a giveaway, you’re right. But they could have decided on $100 million, because it’s not going to be done.

Putting together a mock draft has always been like predicting the weather. It never unfolds like everyone thinks and there are about 100 different predictions. This year, however, is more like calculating wind speed with a blade of grass in hand. Good luck.

The NFL lockout has put a strangle hold on many of the every year key factors that go into drafting. For starters: free agency. One of the most important aspects affecting how a team drafts every year is the free agent market and signings. The lockout has put a freeze on free agency for now, giving many a blind view of what a team needs to fill in the draft.

Take last year for instance. The Chicago Bears desperately needed a pass rusher, so they went out in free agency to get Julius Peppers. Need filled. Those needs aren’t getting filled this year, though. A team that needs a quarterback, particularly Carolina or Buffalo atop the draft, could have already signed a player like free agent Kevin Kolb if the lockout wasn’t in place.

Now, one of those teams might take a Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert in the first round. But then what happens to Kolb?

There are rumors of teams having secret talks with agents about signing players once the lockout is lifted, but that’s of course just speculation. But who actually knows? Carolina or Buffalo could already have their quarterback need ‘secretly’ filled.

Don’t be surprised if a few teams pass on what seems to be the obvious pick, or if teams take a reach on a player that may show their hand at not re-signing a free agent.

There’s no reason to expect a whole lot of trades or teams moving up or down come draft time either. For one, like signing free agents, teams cannot trade players until the lockout is over. Trades have always been another key part to the draft.

Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb, late Bears defensive end Gaines Adams, Baltimore wideout Anquan Boldin and Seattle quarterback Charlie Whitehurst were all involved in draft pick trades last year. As long as the lockout is in effect, draft pick trades can only be done between trading draft spots or picks in later drafts or rounds.

The biggest question, and one that it seems nobody is talking about, is what happens to all of the undrafted free agents? The guys that make early minicamps possible have always been the numerous amounts of undrafted rookies who sign with a team following the draft.

With the lockout in effect, undrafted rookie free agents are essentially just free agents and players who cannot be signed.

Buc’s running back LaGarrette Blount led all rookie rushers with 1,007 yards and wideouts Blair White of the Colts and Donario Alexander of the Rams all played a role in their team’s offense last season. All three were undrafted rookie free agents.

While we’re always going to see draft day surprises when it comes to players falling or picks that seem like a reach, it’s the internal parts of the 2011 NFL Draft that will make it one of the more chaotic drafts of recent decades.

So keep looking at the countless number of mock drafts. I do when I need a good laugh.

April 14, 2011

College Football Report - Miami Hurricanes in Talks of 'Hard Knocks' Type Series:

Football fans have always been curious, intense and passionate about their sport more than any other fan group in America. It’s what has turned football into the country’s favorite and most popular sport.

There isn’t a whole lot of knowledge of what actually goes into the sport outside of game day though. That’s where HBO stepped in, creating the award winning series Hard Knocks, which profiles and goes in-depth into the training camp of an NFL team.

The show’s success and popularity took off much like anyone would expect, showing the grit of an NFL practice and the drama, and or excitement, of making or getting cut from an NFL roster. It also gave fans an in-depth look at their favorite players on and off the field.

The popularity of the show and inside views the teams and HBO combined to give have made way for future endeavors to take place. While we may never see an HBO series go into the world of college football, it appears a college football Hard Knocks related series is in the works.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the University of Miami is in talks with ESPNU about a 30-minute special series profiling the Hurricanes football team through fall camp in August.

It looks to be part of a large plan by Hurricanes head coach Al Golden to bring exposure to fans and increase coverage of the football program.

“It’s a full-access look at what goes into preparing for a college football season,” Associate Athletic Director for Communications Chris Freet told the Post. “We’re intrigued by the possibilities.”

Already scheduled to air on ESPNU will be an inside look at UM’s spring game that takes place Saturday, April 16 at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium. The show is set to air at 4:30 p.m. on April 28.

Teamed with 3 Penny Films, the Hurricanes official athletic site,, has already featured nine short films since January that profile Miami’s journey through the offseason conditioning program to National Signing Day and most recently into spring practices.

3 Penny Films has joined with football programs at Auburn and Maryland in the past, with the Hurricanes becoming its newest project this year. The shows have drawn rave reviews, with one of the Miami episodes drawing over 25,000 views on YouTube. With one of the largest followings in the country, and popularity of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Miami documentary, it’s not exactly a surprise the shows have taken off.

The first episode touched on the first Miami staff meeting under new head coach Al Golden and profiled and went inside the weight room and efforts of longtime strength and conditioning Coach, Andreu Swasey.

From there the films took fans inside a recruiting official visit weekend at Miami and an inside look at National Signing Day on campus. The videos give fans a look at the passion and excitement of coaches waiting for faxes and phone calls to roll in.

Episode four gives a look at the Hurricanes conditioning program and intense persona of defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. The sixth episode shows glimpses of the Hurricanes first spring practice that took place on March 7, while the seventh came just days later in the team’s first day of full pads and the intense and likable attitude of offensive line coach Art Kehoe:

The fifth episode gave fans an inside look at the day in the life of All-Conference linebacker Sean Spence. The episode profiles Spence (above) working out at 5:00 a.m. to going to a finance class and walking the campus.

The last two episodes that have aired profile the Hurricanes intense spring preparation, including an inside look at the running back competition and a profile of the team’s first spring scrimmage in Palm Beach County.

The interviews, footage and inside look at the Hurricanes football program provided by 3 Penny Films and `Canes All-Access has opened the eyes to the college football world much like the HBO’s Hard Knocks did for the NFL, although the move has been made on a smaller scale, so far.

If the plan to join with ESPNU by the summer goes through, Al Golden and the Hurricanes will be able to reach, and open up to, a number of college football fans at a large exposure other teams just aren’t getting.

A Golden move in the `Canes attempt to bring themselves back into the college football limelight.

April 13, 2011

College Football Report - Hard to Trust Terrelle Pryor’s Response to Supplemental Draft Rumors:


I wish I could believe Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor when he says he’s going to pass up on the Supplemental NFL Draft. I can’t, though. Not yet.

It’s not because I’m from Michigan where everyone is born with a dislike of anything scarlet and silver. It’s not because the Supplemental Draft would be a terrible move for Pryor. It’s not even because Pryor has misled fans and lied to the NCAA before.

It’s because it’s impossible to know what to believe in college football anymore.

On Monday, April 11, the National Football Post reported that Pryor’s odds of staying for his senior season in 2011 vs. entering the Supplemental draft are 60-40, according to an unnamed source.

The Supplemental Draft allows players who missed the deadline for the regular draft to declare for the NFL. If a team drafts a player in the Supplemental Draft, they must give up an equivalent draft pick the following year.

Pryor entering the 2011 Supplemental Draft to some seems like a good idea. To me, and most scouts, picking Pryor is about as wise an investment as hiring Charlie Sheen to give pregame speeches.

“He needs to grow up, work on his consistency and grow into the leader that I think he can be,” Dave Razzano, an NFL scout for 22 years told the New York Times. “I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole.”

Razzono’s comments come with good reason on, and off, the field.

In December 2010, amongst the allegations that Ohio State football players were receiving off field benefits such as tattoos, in exchange for autographs and game merchandise, Pryor Tweeted: “I paid for my tattoos. Go Bucks.”

That was on Dec. 22. On Dec. 23, Pryor and four other Buckeye football players were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for giving away merchandise and autographs in exchange for extra benefits, such as tattoos. An NCAA violation.

Apparently, where Pryor comes from, currency comes in the form of Big Ten Championship rings, sportsmanship awards and gold football pants. Perhaps that’s all Pryor was referring to when he said he “paid” for his tattoos.

So what do you think Pryor did when the recent rumors came out about him considering the Supplemental NFL Draft?

Well, he turned to Twitter of course, tweeting: “I’ll be suited up in Lincoln Nebraska!! And first player to meet with the Wolverines for the fourth time!!”

What he was referring to was his and the other OSU four’s first game back from the suspension: A trip to Lincoln to take on the `Huskers. The Michigan reference refers to being the first Ohio State quarterback to beat Michigan four times.

If Pryor’s recent Twitter past has taught us anything, we may find out very soon that the Ohio State senior is entering the Supplemental NFL Draft. It’s déjà vu and he’s got nobody but himself to blame.

Pryor isn’t the only one making it hard to believe anyone in college football, though. His own head coach, Jim Tressel, will sit the first five games with his players for lying to the NCAA committee about whether he knew his players were receiving benefits.

The Cam Newton saga and pay-for-play scandal at Auburn this year took center stage in college football. New updates and sources were revealed daily, making it impossible to know what to believe. The incident is still being investigated by the NCAA.

Four former Auburn football players recently told HBO they were paid in their recruitment to the university, and while they were playing at Auburn. Then, the next day, players who played with the four whistle blowers shot down any paying rumors whatsoever.

Just a year ago it seemed as if no coach could ever upstage Lane Kiffin’s midnight exit from Tennessee. That is until UConn head coach Randy Edsall left for Maryland following his team’s loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl this year. Edsall informed his players, staff and school officials at 2 a.m. via speakerphone that he wouldn’t be boarding the plane back to Connecticut or returning as head coach. That’s right, over speakerphone.

Speaking of the Fiesta Bowl, president and chief executive of the game, John Junker (left, AP Photo), was fired on March 29, after it became aware Junker was receiving an unauthorized and excessive compensation and inappropriate expenditures and gifts. In laymen’s terms, the guy was living like a rock star and getting improperly paid to run just one game a year.

Trust just isn’t a part of the fabric of college football anymore. I don’t trust a commitment from a recruit until he signs a letter of intent. I don’t trust players who say they don’t get paid and I don’t trust players who say they do get paid. I especially don’t trust the BCS system. This, I know, is a big shocker.

I certainly won’t trust Pryor when he says he’ll be there to play Nebraska next season. I’ll believe it when I see it. Because game day is about the only time I can invest some trust into college football anymore.

I know one thing is certain. I’ll be looking for a couple of things following the NFL Draft: When Pryor makes his announcement and what team feels bold enough to make a move on him.

April 12, 2011

First Quarter Hail Mary...Spring Game Edition

"...where completion is considered unlikely"
Spring Game Updates

Stanford: The biggest task at hand for new head coach David Shaw will be putting together a defense capable of keeping the Cardinal in games. Shaw’s second assignment: sitting back and watching Andrew Luck make opposing defenses look silly.

Shaw got a chance to do both at Stanford’s spring game Saturday. Luck completed 16 of 22 passes for 165 yards and three scores. All three of Luck’s touchdowns went to reserve tight end Zach Ertz, who brought in six catches for 64 yards, along with the three scores. Backup quarterback Josh Nunes completed 12 of 19 passes for 180 yards and a score.

The Cardinal defeated the White 42-3, showing Shaw he’s got at least one defense capable of holding points off the board.

Clemson: Quarterback Tajh Boyd made his first impression on Tigers fans as the starting quarterback Saturday. Boyd had an up and down performance, completing just eight of 24 passes for 114 yards and a score. He also rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown.

While Boyd was dissatisfied with his performance, head coach Dabo Swinney has been pleased with Boyd’s overall performance this spring.

“Boyd is clearly the starter,” Swinney told The State newspaper. “I’m really pleased with Tajh and what he’s done…but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to perform. That doesn’t mean he can cut corners.”

The biggest story of the Clemson spring game came from the ground game, where three rushers nearly ran for over 100 yards. With starter Andre Ellington on the shelf for the game, backup tailbacks stepped up. Demont Buice ran for 102 yards and a score on 18 carries, Roderick McDowell brought in 100 yards on 12 carries and DJ Howard rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels held a relatively short spring game Saturday, composed of just 50 plays. New starting quarterback Bryn Renner passed for 123 yards and a score on nine of 13 passing.

Renner’s favorite targets next fall appear to be wideouts Erik Highsmith and Dwight Jones who brought in a combined eight catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Renner has already started giving all the credit to his receivers.

“I thought I did alright, but I know I’ve got a lot more to learn," Renner told the team’s official site. "I worked the ball to Dwight a lot today and he made me look good. He has the potential to be one of the best receivers in the country.”

Starting tailback Ryan Houston had just two carries for 22 yards on the day. Defensive end Quinton Coples, who could have a huge season, brought in six tackles and a sack.

Florida: Clearly the biggest issue surrounding the University of Florida this offseason has been working in a new offense directed by new offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis. Saturday, the Gators did just that, yet the new offense gave the same old results.

Last year’s starting quarterback John Brantley, who was also named the Gators starter this spring, completed just four of 14 passes for 45 yards. Freshman phenom Jeff Driskel, who graduated in January, completed three of eight passes for 29 yards.

Both Brantley and Driskel were outperformed by backups Tyler Murphy and Chris Provancha. Murphy threw for 68 yards and a touchdown on seven of 11 passing, while Provancha, a walk on, rallied the Blue team to a victory, completing a 39-yard touchdown pass to Robert Clark with just 45 seconds remaining.
LSU: The Tigers spring game was supposed to shed light on which quarterback would look ready to lead the 2011 team. Saturday, however, that didn't happen.

Senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson passed for 102 yards and an interception on four of 14 passing. He also rushed for 31 yards. Senior Jarett Lee completed nine of 14 passes for 63 yards and an interception, while junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger, thought to give Jefferson the most competition, completed five of eight passes for 86 yards and an interception.

While no quarterback necessarily impressed under new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe’s offense, it didn’t stop head coach Les Miles from naming Jefferson the starter once again.

“He continues to get better,” Miles told the Weekly Citizen speaking about Jefferson. “He is making much better decisions. He has clearly improved. He can describe what he sees, how he sees the play and his description. Steve has done a great job.”

If there’s one thing clear about the Tigers new offense; It looks to be focused around the ground game, particularly running back Spencer Ware. The sophomore rushed for 94 yards and two scores on 13 carries and caught two passes for 50 yards. It was an impressive performance for the youngster coming off of a season ending notable performance in the Cotton Bowl.

Redshirt freshman runner Jakhari Gore, yes, cousin of Frank, rushed for 53 yards on 10 carries. Wideout Kadron Boone led all receivers with four catches for 77 yards and a score.

South Carolina: The biggest story surrounding the Gamecocks football team this offseason has been focused on starting quarterback Stephen Garcia, but it hasn’t been for his play through spring practice, but rather his fifth suspension since joining the team.

Suspended indefinitely on April 6, there's been no word yet on when, or if, the suspension will be released on Garcia. Since the suspension, backup quarterback Connor Shaw has taken over the starting duties and remained the starter in the Gamecocks spring game Saturday.

Shaw passed for 176 yards and a touchdown on 17 of 27 passing. Shaw’s current backup, Dylan Thompson, passed for 168 yards, a score and two interceptions on six of 13 passes.

Starting running back Marcus Lattimore received just three carries for 19 yards. Sophomore wideout DeAngelo Smith brought in four catches for 118 yards and three scores.

Notable Spring Games Saturday, April 16: UConn, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Utah and Boise State

April 11, 2011

College Football Report - Evaluating the Early Top 2011 College Football Teams:

A lot of things have to fall into place to bring home a National Championship in college football. The schedule needs to be challenging, yet winnable. Coaches need to have the team prepared and ready. More often than not, an experienced, veteran team is the best team, and it never hurts to have an experienced quarterback or a game breaker who can take over a game, as well.
Last season, Auburn may have been the exception. The Tigers had a schedule that was challenging, yes, but one that looked near impossible to go perfect through, and they didn’t have an experienced coach or what looked to be an X-factor. Let’s be honest here though, they did have Cam Newton.
For the most part, though, and throughout the sports past, there have been five reasons for a team to have high hopes of a National Championship in the near future.
Below are five teams who seem to have the goods above all else to bring in a title in 2011. Each team is marked with their strengths and weaknesses and graded in five key areas: Experienced Team - At least six starters returning on each side of the ball. Coaching - Experienced and winning coach to lead. Winnable Schedule - Have a schedule with January in its sights. Quarterback - A veteran and proven quarterback to lead. X-FactorHave someone capable of taking over the game.
*On a 1-to-5 scale, 5 = Best
Strength: The strength of the Sooners 2011 team has to be the numerous stars the team returns. Quarterback Landry Jones returns for one final year after passing for over 4,700 yards and 38 scores last season. Senior wideout Ryan Broyles, who led the nation with 131 catches last season, leads a talented receiving core along with sophomore Kenny Stills. The defense has its share of talent as well, led by senior linebacker Travis Lewis.
Weakness: The Sooners need to find a running back capable of carrying the workload. Longtime tailback DeMarco Murray has moved on, leaving the cupboards bare. The team’s returning leading rusher is sophomore Roy Finch, who rushed for 398 yards and two scores last season. He’ll get competition from backfield mates Jermie Calhoun, Brennan Clay and Jonathan Miller, but it appears Finch’s job to lose.
In The Way: Sept. 17 at Florida State, Oct. 10 - Texas, Nov. 5 - Texas A&M, Nov. 26 at Oklahoma State
Strength: Could this finally be the year the LSU offense outshines its dominating defenses? If the talent load the Tigers have at their expense on offense finally plays to their potential, it appears so. Receivers Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle return outside for the Tigers, with as much speed and talent as any receiving duo in the nation. Shepard could be a dangerous weapon for opposing teams to cover in 2011. Sophomore running back Spencer Ware looks to be a breakout candidate next season, evident of his 102 rushing yards against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Now, all they need is for quarterback Jordan Jefferson to play to his potential.
Weakness: The defense should be good again, not as great as last season, though. The Tigers lose a key player at each area of the defense, including defensive tackle Drake Nevis, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and defensive back Patrick Peterson. The players stepping in won’t be experienced, but like anyone whose played defense for the Tigers over the last decade, they’re talented and athletic.
In The Way: Sept. 3 - Oregon, Sept. 15 at Mississippi State, Sept. 24 at West Virginia, Oct. 8 - Florida, Oct. 22 - Auburn, Nov. 5 at Alabama,
Texas A&M
Strength: Now that the Aggies have found a capable quarterback to lead them in senior Ryan Tannehill, the offense has taken the next step towards being one of the best in college football. Tannehill led the Aggies to a 6-1 finish in 2010 and now has the reins all to himself. Wideout Jeff Fuller has been a star in college football for three years, but may be ready to take the next step in 2011. The backfield is loaded with Christine Michael returning from injury and last year’s 1,000 yard rusher, Cyrus Gray.
Weakness: The Aggies return more starters than any team on the list, not leaving a whole lot of holes to fill in. Outside linebacker Von Miller’s presence will be hard to replace on defense, but the Aggies have always had a pass rusher step up at the Joker position. The biggest question may be whether or not A&M can stay consistent throughout. In years past, the Aggies have crumbled under high expectations. They’ll need to prove 2011 is different.
In The Way: Sept. 9 - Oklahoma State, Oct. 10 - Arkansas, Nov. 5 at Oklahoma, Nov. 24 - Texas
Strength: Last year’s Ducks offense was dominating. The 2011 Ducks offense should be no different. Led by running back LaMichael James, who led the nation with 1,731 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, the Ducks should continue to put up huge numbers come fall, especially with the added presence of freshmen De'Anthony Thomas to the backfield. Quarterback Darron Thomas passed for over 2,800 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and also returns. Wideouts Lavasier Tuinei and Josh Huff look poised to become the leading pass catching targets in 2011.
Weakness: Led by corner Cliff Harris, the secondary should be the defenses strength, but the Ducks have major holes in the front seven. The defense loses a number of talented seniors, including All-Conference linebacker Casey Matthews. The defensive line loses three starters, including leading sack man Kenny Rowe, while the entire linebacking corps will need to be replaced.
In The Way: Sept. 3 – LSU, Sept. 24 at Arizona, Nov. 5 at Washington, Nov. 12 at Stanford, Nov. 19 - USC
Strength: The Crimson Tide's defense next season should be downright scary. The offense has led the team in recent years, but next season belongs to the defense. They lose just one starter on the defensive side of the ball in defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, but there will be more than 10 familiar faces still around. Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw lead a ferocious linebacking corps, while the secondary should be one of the best in the nation. Safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester are both early All-American candidates.
Weakness: It may be easy to say the losses of Heisman winner Mark Ingram and All-SEC wideout Julio Jones hurt the team the most, but it will be the loss of quarterback Greg McElroy that leaves the team with the biggest question. The Tide need either A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims to step up early to lead the team to its potential. The offense still remains relatively stacked; the only question is at quarterback.
In The Way: Sept. 10 at Penn State, Sept. 24 - Arkansas, Oct. 1 at Florida, Nov. 5 - LSU, Nov. 12 at Mississippi State, Nov. 26 at Auburn
All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.