Sunday, September 7, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Armwood vs. Plant
Defense ruled the contest, as evidenced by the 9-2 final score in Armwood’s favor. Neither offensive line held up against the pressure the opposing defense brought. Plant had a tough time diagnosing Armwood’s 3-4 defense, leaving little time for Murray to throw and no lanes to run in. Armwood, won this one by scoring the only non safety score in the game.
I'll speak quickly about individual performances...
Kid is an absolute monster. He was all over the field and ensured that Aaron Murray had a long night. The only thing that stopped him all night was when his legs cramped towards the end of the game. That being said, it didn’t take long for him to get back in the swing of things, as he deflected an Aaron Murray throw that turned into the interception that killed Plant's last drive. I wish I believed that FSU has a chance, but I don't. It seems that UF has the inside track, with Armwood’s Gator head coach. USF is probably in a close second.
The stats don't tell the story of how hard this kid fought tonight. He has a strong arm capable of making all the throws. He might need to clean up his delivery a bit, but in college football that doesn't matter all that much, as long as it doesn't affect accuracy. He was on the run pretty much every throw. It would have been easier to evaluate him if his line was able to block Armwood’s front seven. I think he is very much deserving of his lofty national ranking, and should put up his typical numbers (based on last year’s production), now that Ryan Giddins, Man Man, and Petey Smith aren’t chasing him around.
I'm usually very skeptical about "big time" TE recruits. This is a very tough position to forecast. To me, a Tight End should block first, and catch second. There are hundreds of undersized high school tight ends who catch well. Most rankings, however, are based on pass catching ability, not blocking prowess. Orson seems to be used similarly to Antonio Gates, in that he was split wide for the most part, and didn’t do very much blocking. He does have great hands and caught most everything Murray threw his way. He would be a great get for the Noles, if for no other reason than to prevent him from becoming the next of the great Miami Tight Ends.
This linebacker was all over the field and moves very well, considering his build (stocky). I would expect him to follow his brother to Auburn, though he could end up with Alabama. It’s a shame that we slow played Eric (Petey’s brother) last year, because both would be assets to the undersized ‘Nole linebacker corps.
Friday, September 5, 2008
What am I looking for from FSU against WCU?
70% passing We will be running wide open throughout this game. Can the new 'Noles QB hit these guys?
10 yards per pass There is no excuse for posting a number below this. In a game where the 'Noles are favored by 40, this is not a lot to ask.
No interceptions I don't want to see the other team catching any of our passes. That is Jeff Bowden style and we should not be seeing that right now.
6 Yards Per Carry Again, WCU is not a good team. This is a reachable goal.
90% of carries gain 2 or more yards This measures us not getting stuffed. I will hve more on this at a later date.
No fumbles Not fumbles lost, but rather, no fumbles.
No more than 1 Holding Penalty As a unit, I will be happy if we hold this to one.
No more than 1 False Start Penalty There shouldn't be any crowd noise to deal with. These guys have waited a long time to play, let's see that the focus and concentration is there.
No dumb timeouts Again, this would go a long way towards putting Jeff Bowden behind us.
No major injuries This is the major goal.
No face mask penalties Facemask penalties often indicate someone has lazy feet or is out of position. We should not be out of position against WCU.
No more than one pass interference penalty Again, let's play the ball and use good footwork to get into position.
7 Sacks I want to see the defensive line get pressure and FINISH. WCU will throw the ball 50 times in this game. 7 sacks is a 14% sack rate, which is what we need against a team of this caliber. We also want to see a fumble forced due to a blindside QB hit.
No dropped interceptions There will be chances for picks in this game. Make them count.
Cover for the Alumni (-40)
50 points scored
I will evaluate our performance Sunday night. We will check how the 'Noles did and use these goals as a benchmark.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Ponder has consistently wowed coaches with his grasp of the offense, his surprising mobility, and his very impressive strength (375+ LB Bench). He boasts a very good arm and was consistently mentioned as the team leader during spring and summer drills. There are very few, if any, throws that Ponder cannot make. His ability to understand defenses is excellent and his promotion is a welcome relief to those who believed that our playbook was limited by our quarterback's ability. FSU is instantly tougher to defend and to plan for. Teams can no longer sit in two or three vanilla schemes and play the percentages. They will have to break down Ponder's tape and find out his weaknesses. They now have to worry about the quarterback running out of the pocket and making plays with his feet, and with his arm while on the run.
This move probably would not have happened if not for Weatherford's knee injury in the spring. Ponder seized the opportunity to show his skills and did not disappoint. Fisher glowed when he spoke of CP7 (Ponder wears #7).
Ponder also suffered an injury that delayed this call. In a recent practice, he injured his shoulder after throwing some water-logged balls. I wondered if the guy who many speculated was Jimbo's number one choice all along would be too injured to start for FSU. It seems that the coaches wanted to allow as much time as possible for him to heal up (the injury was muscular only; not structural) before naming him the starter.
This is undoubtedly the best decision for the program. It represents a step forward. It represents a realization that we aren't in contention for a MNC, but that with some breaks, continued excellent recruiting, and developing a capable quarterback, we could be sooner than people think (2010). I've often speculated that Bobby Bowden would step in and insist that the safe option start at quarterback, despite promises that head coach in waiting and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was in change of the offense. This move shows us that Bobby trusts Jimbo. This is promising because it indicates that Bobby knows Jimbo is in the best position to make the most informed choice. Fueled by comments this summer that seemed to forcefully remind fans that he was still in charge, many had worried that Bowden would try to trump Jimbo. I think the winningest coach in college football history will be rewarded for his acquiescence; FSU will win more games with Ponder than they would have with Weatherford. Penn State will likely win more games than FSU this year. Bowden doesn't need 7-6, he needs 9-3. Ponder isn’t the familiar or safe choice, but he is the best choice; not only for the future of our program, but for this year as well.
This decision also represents hope. FSU fan's haven't had a lot to cheer about in the last three years. A losing record against Non-Duke ACC teams, Back to Back 7-6 seasons, and the looming cloud of possible NCAA sanctions stood to temper FSU's expectations. Opposing fans openly rooted for Weatherford to remain at the helm. Weatherford is a class guy who has always worked his butt off. He rarely if ever blamed his teammates. I profiled his shortcomings in The Weatherford Report and won't say much about that now. Ponder does, however, represent a major upgrade in terms of talent, and a minor upgrade in terms of knowledge of the playbook. He is a diligent worker who has incredible attention to detail. Jimbo commented that he grasps concepts quicker than any quarterback he had ever worked with; high praise for someone who nurtured numerous NFL qb's.
Ponder represents hope for the future as people see his present ability and can imagine what his future performance will be like. In addition to putting the best possible option on the field, we are now set up to have a talented, experienced quarterback playing in his 5th year in 2010, a year where FSU should have a lot of talent and a very manageable schedule. This decision also relieves some pressure from the shoulders of Future 'Nole signal caller E. J. Manuel, the highly touted five-star prospect from Virginia Beach, VA. If Ponder progresses as Jimbo likely believes he will, Manuel won't be pressed into action until 2011 at the earliest, barring injury. Choosing Weatherford would likely have cuased great uncertainty next off-season, as there would be three unknowns entering the season. A successful season from Ponder would put those fears to rest.
Weatherford should still play an important role on this team. Expect him, and not D'Vontrey Richardson to be the backup and for D'vo to run several packages per game, comprising approximately 8-12 out of an average of 65-70 offensive plays. Weatherford makes sense as the backup here because he has a great grasp of the offense. His 33 starts make him the most experienced quarterback in the nation, and there isn't a situation he would be unprepared for. If Ponder were to go down Drew could likely step in and play at a somewhat similar level, especially early in the season since Christian wouldn't have had much game experience and probably wouldn't yet be playing at an elite level. There is no backup quarterback I would rather have than Drew Weatherford. I see him as a college Trent Dilfer, always at the ready and having enough ability to not cripple a team when inserted in the middle of a game. Inserting D'Vo into the game when he has been prepping to run his specific packages (shotgun spread zone-read anybody??) at a high level and not to run the entire offense, wouldn't be as smart as using Drew. Weatherford's experience and knowledge of the game will continue to be a huge asset to the future 'Nole quarterbacks. He can be the extra set of eyes on the sideline that some, including us here at FSUncensored, have argued we lack. In fact, his presence on the sideline, in time, might even allow Jimbo to move back to the press box.
All hope is not lost for Richardson either. While the coaches have called him "the Lebron James of football", a "great, not good, great passer", and "the most athletic quarterback I've ever had", he does have some baggage. D'Vontrey struggled with academic eligibility issues last year and there rumblings about excessive off-the field celebrating. He is also an excellent baseball prospect and could stand to receive up to half a million dollars if he elects to enter next year's baseball draft. Combine the eligibility issues with the temptation of Major League Ba$eball, and it's easy to see why the coaches would be uneasy about committing to a guy who just now fully committed to football. I hope D'vontrey keeps his grades in order, forgets about baseball (for now), and continues to focus solely on football with the same intensity and determination he showed this spring. Few will question that his upside is higher than that of Christian, but it is easy to see how his uncertain future could be enough to sway the coaches to Ponder, a capable athlete with an incredible grasp of the offense. D'Vo will be expected to run his 8-12 plays per game and present a difficult change of pace for the defense. I hate to make a comparisons to establishes superstars, but his playing style reminds me a lot of Donovan McNabb when he was at Syracuse. If he continues to improve like he did this summer, keeps his grades high, and doesn't flirt with baseball, expect him to be right back in the mix of things in fall 2009.
What to look for from Ponder this year? First, don't look for any drop off when it comes to on-field composure. Ponder gained his first real game experience in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech and looked solid. Of the three quarterbacks, Ponder has the best grasp of the offense from a knowledge standpoint. I expect for Jimbo to eventually give him more checks and on-field audible power than he did with Weatherford, in part because of his ability to think on the fly, and in part because a greater number of options are now available for our offense as a result of Ponder's ability. I am truly amazed that a redshirt sophomore has a greater grasp of the offense than a redshirt senior. This is not a knock on Weatherford, but rather a testament to Ponder's ability. Temper your enthusiasm a bit though; we don't have Rainman under center; both QB's have been in Jimbo's offense for an equal amount of time.
Look for more sprint-stretch plays, and boots off of those plays. CP7 doesn't run 4.5 (D'Vo), but he represents a huge upgrade in terms of mobility. Teams must now respect not only his scrambling ability when the play breaks down, but also must guard against the threat of designed runs. While the reports on our young offensive line are very encouraging when it comes to run-blocking, they are less than encouraging when it comes to pass protection. Certainly that factored into Jimbo's decision as well. I would be shocked if we didn't see an immediate increase in the number of pass plays that involve a re-located pocket (sprint/ roll-outs); taking advantage of our offensive line's athleticism and minimizing their weaknesses (strength).
FSU opponents are also on notice that the area outside the hash marks, 10-20 yards deep is now in play. Ponder's cross-field throw over the short-set defender and in front of the jump-ball anticipating safety was a thing of beauty. The more options that a defense must consider, the less aggressive they can be. Ponder will make defenses defend the entire field. With our excellent receiving corps, easily the best in the ACC, and one of the best nationally, allowing them to run all areas of the field and having the defense reasonably believe that the ball will be delivered to them at any point is a very good thing for Seminole Nation and a very bad thing for opposing defenses. While some opposing fans mocked our quarterbacks via sarcastically rooting for them, I seriously doubt they will continue to do so.
There will be some growing pains along the way. While Drew's 33 start's were not enough to fend off the hard charging Ponder, experience is an asset that nobody can deny. Ponder does not yet have experience. Luckily, FSU faces some very bad teams early this season. In their first 5 games, FSU faces only 2-3 teams with a legitimate chance at a bowl. This should provide Ponder with game experience before facing the likes of Virginia Tech and Clemson.
In terms of talent, experience, and attitude (and what else is there), FSU's quarterback situation is easily the best we've had in the past 5 years. Starting Christian Ponder, insuring him with Drew Weatherford, Redshirting E.J. Manuel, while threatening defense with D'Vontrey Richardson as he continues to grow is the best possible move these coaches could have made; both for 2008 and the foreseeable future.
Other Writers React to the News:
- Andrew Carter Reacted. 5 times. This guy is a beast of a writer.
- Scalp'Em didn't love the decision. That said, CC supports it and will always root for whoever is under center.
- Chantrant praised the call for its correctness. They also had high praise for Jimbo making the decision.
- TomahawkNation liked the call a lot but called it bittersweet.
- Brian Landman praised Christian for his arm and his surpsiring speed. I guess its surprising because he is white? I kidd, I kidd.
|1||USC||3||The team appears to be hitting on all cylinders.|
|2||Oklahoma||2||Looked okay, not great.|
|3||Florida||4||The offense finally turned it on. This team has incredible speed. Barring hurricane Hannah putting a damper on things, they should name their score against Miami.|
|4||Ohio State||1||Their defense is still loaded, the offensive line looks great, two wideouts on the biletnikof list, and an experienced senior be. Oh yeah, the best running back in the country is injured. Tressel is treating this with Saban gloves. Be wary.|
|5||Georgia||5||Stafford looked erratic in their win over Georgia Southern. They suffered another huge injury. Jeff Owens (one of it not the top rated DT prospect in the NFL Draft) tore his cal. By my count, Georgia lost its best offensive and defensive lineman in the past 2 weeks.|
|6||Missouri||6||This offense is ridiculous, but the pass defense is a cause for concern.|
|7||LSU||12||Sometimes I forget how dominant their lines are. Les isn't afraid to pound teams. I worry about their DB's and their QB's are still unproven.|
|8||West Virginia||9||Passing offense looked very good against FCS opponent. They will have a minor test with ECU this weekend.|
|9||Texas||10||Texas got the job done against FAU. I didn't watch this game.|
|10||South Florida||11||Should pound UCF in a slight look ahead game (Kansas)|
|11||Alabama||25||Terrance Cody is an NFL player wearing a college uniform. 11 is probably too high, but they were very impressive and don't face a real test for a while.|
|12||Texas Tech||7||This offense should operate at an all-time great level. Interesting test this weekend at Nevada. Leach needs to avoid getting trapped in desert.|
|13||South Carolina||15||The defense looked amazing. They played NC State. The offense was horrible. They should crush Vanderbilt Thursday.|
|14||BYU||16||Veteran, experienced team of 22 year olds? Yes please.|
|15||Notre Dame||18||A lot of talent that should come together. Questions about the secondary linger. If they don't go 300 passing and 200 rushing against hapless SDSU, I'm dropping them|
|16||Wisconsin||19||They did what they were supposed to do against Akron, the real text comes in two weeks.|
|17||California||23||Proved explosive in win over Michigan State. I do have some concerns over their defense. With Oregon's QB situation unsettled, this is my #2 Pac 10 team.|
|18||Oregon||17||After losing their starter to a knee injury, their backup went down with a concussion. Chip Kelley once again proved he is the best assistant coach in America as Oregon rolled up several hundred rushing yards while pounding Washington. The Huskies knew what was coming and still couldn't stop it. Oregon's secondary is outstanding|
|19||Auburn||13||The passing offense was horrid. The defense and running game were excellent. By looking at the box score, you'd never know they have a new offense.|
|20||Penn State||20||They rolled Coastal Carolina and should probably do the same to Oregon State, who lost their entire front 7 from 2007.|
|21||Utah||22||See BYU. Experienced QB. Their upset of Michigan was ugly and disappointing to those who thought their offense would click more than it did. A win in the big house, however, is still a road win in front of 100K+|
|22||Arizona State||24||They are good everywhere except offensive line. Their Oline is horrid.|
|23||Fresno State||NR||They throttled Fresno State. Well coached with good athletes.|
|24||Tennessee||14||A disappointing effort at UCLA. That said, it was a west coast road trip. People will underrate them going forward, maybe justifiably so.|
|25||Oklahoma State||NR||Oklahoma State went on the road to play a BCS team, albeit a horrible one in Washington State. They throttled them. I like to see offenses that click early. Zach Robinson is a very good player and Oklahoma State has the look of the best 4th-place team the BXII South has ever seen|
|Clemson||8||Pathetic effort. Their offensive linemen are horrible and make FSU's 2006 and 2007 lines look decent.|
|Virginia Tech||21||Proving once again that special teams can put you over the top, but won't put you up the wall to get over the top.|
Friday, August 29, 2008
I've been pretty vocal about not believing in Wake's offense. I do think their defense will be pretty good, considering they have a lot of senior starters and some NFL talent (for once).
Last night, however, I was underwhelmed by Wake's offensive attack. Here are my observations.
1. Skinner is an accurate passer.
2. Baylor seemed very concerned with the deep ball, and skinner picked them apart. He threw 36 times for 220 yards. That is not very impressive. Baylor needed to dare him to beat them deep. It was very evident that he would repeatedly take 5 yard completion after 5 yard completion if they gave it to him, which they did.
3. The margin of victory wasn't really indicative of Wake's play, as it was Baylor's ineptness.
3. Baylor committed 2 turnovers where Wake basically did nothing. First, Alphonso Smith picks off a ball that literally hits off the wideout's hands (first), and helmet (second), before Smith picked it. Wake didn't force that turnover. They didn't bait him into a bad throw or pressure him into a poor pass. The wideout just gave a pathetic effort on a very easy catch. This was in Baylor's zone, and led to a Wake score.
Second, Baylor's qb took a snap inside his 15 yard line, rolled left, and DROPPED THE BALL, WITHOUT BEING TOUCHED! Again, the ball rolled to Wake. Please explain me how wake forced that turnover.
5. Wake's running game really struggled. Adams and Pendergrass (their main running game), had 28 carries for 71 yards. That is bad. Wake's offensive line really struggled in rub blocking. Baylor's front 7 is Syracuse bad, and Wake struggled to block them, which is consistent with what we've been hearing out of Wake camp.
Their overall running numbers were really inflated because Baylor couldn't tackle a speedster on a 55 yard run.
6. Wake pass protected pretty well. Baylor has no threats off the edge, but nevertheless, give Wake's guys credit for keeping Skinner clean.
7. I hate to keep harping on this, but Baylor's plan was to not get embarassed (didn't work because of their ridiculous turnovers in their own zone). They let Wake have almost everything short.
8. Wake had ONE passing play of more than 15 yards. Now, as I noted above, Baylor sat back in cover three a lot, but these Wide Receivers are not impressive, even against Baylor.
9. Wake can play some defense. They tackled well for the most part, even though Baylor's second half QB was very fast.
10. This game is deceiving because it was extremely choppy. Baylor had FIVE turnovers (3 fumbles lost and 2 picks). Wake did force 2 of these, but the other three are stuff that top 50 teams don't do on a consistent basis.
These play-by-play entries tell a good story:
4th-8, Bay22 14:16 D. Epperson punt to the Baylor 36, no return.
COMMENT: Baylor's first went 14 yards.
Wake Forest - 11:23
1st-10, Wake38 11:23 J. Adams rushed to the left for 2 yard gain
2nd-8, Wake40 10:53 R. Skinner incomplete pass to the left
3rd-8, Wake40 10:44 R. Skinner passed to M. Williams to the right for 15 yard gain
1st-10, Bay45 10:29 J. Adams rushed up the middle for 2 yard gain
2nd-8, Bay43 9:54 R. Skinner passed to M. Williams to the right for 9 yard gain
1st-10, Bay34 9:41 D. Boldin rushed to the right for 8 yard gain
2nd-2, Bay26 9:14 J. Adams rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
1st-10, Bay23 8:59 R. Skinner passed to D. Boldin down the middle for 4 yard gain
2nd-6, Bay19 8:33 R. Skinner passed to D. Boldin to the left for 3 yard gain
3rd-3, Bay16 7:55 J. Adams rushed to the right for 3 yard gain
1st-10, Bay13 7:37 J. Adams rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
2nd-9, Bay12 7:05 R. Skinner passed to C. Brinkman down the middle for 12 yard touchdown. S. Swank made PAT
COMMENT: Wake's drive starts on Baylor's 36. Baylor plays soft, and Wake drives for a touchdown with 11 plays, only one of which went 10+ yards. No pressure applied. Soft zone heavy.
3rd-9, Bay41 4:11 A. Smith intercepted K. Freeman for 1 yard
Wake Forest - 4:06
1st-10, Bay48 4:06 B. Pendergrass rushed to the left for 1 yard loss
2nd-11, Bay49 3:35 R. Skinner rushed to the right for 4 yard gain
3rd-7, Bay45 2:52 R. Skinner passed to M. Williams to the right for 7 yard gain
1st-10, Bay38 2:25 R. Skinner rushed up the middle for 7 yard loss. R. Skinner fumbled. B. Pendergrass recovered fumble
2nd-17, Bay45 1:50 R. Skinner rushed to the right for 9 yard gain
3rd-8, Bay36 1:17 R. Skinner passed to B. Wooster to the right for 7 yard gain
4th-1, Bay29 1:10 B. Pendergrass rushed up the middle for 4 yard gain
1st-10, Bay25 0:52 R. Skinner passed to D. Boldin to the left for 5 yard gain
2nd-5, Bay20 0:20 R. Skinner passed to B. Wooster down the middle for 14 yard gain
Wake Forest continued
1st-6, Bay6 15:00 B. Pendergrass rushed to the right for 3 yard gain
2nd-3, Bay3 14:27 B. Pendergrass rushed to the left for 3 yard touchdown. S. Swank made PAT
COMMENT: This interception is the one I commented about above. Wake didn't do shit to get the pick, the wideout literally let it hit him in both hands. Again, wake goes 11 plays, with only one being more than 10 yards. Baylor didn't even attempt to challenge Wake's wideouts.
Baylor - 8:50
1st-10, Bay4 8:50 J. Finley rushed up the middle for 7 yard gain
2nd-3, Bay11 8:14 R. Griffin rushed up the middle for no gain. R. Griffin fumbled. H. Haynes recovered fumble
Wake Forest - 8:08
1st-10, Bay11 8:08 B. Pendergrass rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, Bay8 7:43 R. Skinner passed to C. Brinkman down the middle for 8 yard touchdown. S. Swank made PAT
COMMENT: Griffin was not touched on the fumble. He literally took the snap, took 2 steps left, and dropped the ball. Wake takes over at Baylor's 11. 14 points off of turnovers they had no hand in forcing. Pure Dominance ;)
Wake Forest - 7:36
Wake kicked off, M. Baker returned kickoff for 9 yards. M. Baker fumbled. J. La Mar recovered fumble
COMMENT: Baylor fumbles the kickoff. They look inept. Wake takes over on Baylor's 17.
Guys, please watch this game for yourselves before passing judgment on Wake. I am not buying into this team yet. We can dominate their wideouts, and they will struggle to block us, even though we are extremely thin at DT. There is no way we sit in cover three all day and let Skinner filet us in 5 yard chunks. In the words of some TV Infomercials, "I'm still skeptical."
Thursday, August 28, 2008
kk'Nole fans everywhere are scared stiff about the inexperienced offensive line. I've repeatedly said that the line will be better this year than last year, since these players give a lot more effort and fit his system better.
Then I remembered that Georgia had a very inexperienced offensive line going into last year. I read Dawgsports.com regularly. Dawgsports provides some of the best SEC and Georgia analysis. I emailed T. Kyle King, the creator of DawgSports, and asked him if he would answer some questions about UGA's offensive line prospects heading into last year. Even though I am down on Georgia this year, compared to most, T. Kyle agreed. Our conversation follows. A big thanks to T. Kyle and Dawgsports. Our conversation follows. I'll add my thoughts later.
Going into the 2007 season, was the offensive line the biggest concern on the mind of Georgia fans?
Without question. Both veterans were trying out new positions, as guards Fernando Velasco and Chester Adams were moved to center and right tackle, respectively. Otherwise, it was a lot of new faces, with a new position coach leading them, to boot.
The one apparent positive to the situation was the fact that Stacy Searels, a successful and respected offensive line coach from LSU, didn’t have to break his charges of habits learned under his predecessor. Since Searels took over an inexperienced line, he was able to implement his system from the outset, which actually may have eased the coaching transition.
What was the makeup of UGA’s line on opening day 2007, experience wise?
Going into the season, did you think they fit your system well?
Were they highly touted coming out of high school?
Due to the change in position coaches as well as personnel, Bulldog Nation was in “wait and see” mode regarding the players’ suitability for the system Searels brought with him from Baton Rouge, although his record with the Bayou Bengals (who finished first in the SEC in total offense and in scoring offense in 2006) gave fans cause for hope.
The Bulldogs’ opening day lineup against Oklahoma State consisted of true freshman Trinton Sturdivant at left tackle, redshirt freshman Chris Davis at left guard, senior Fernando Velasco at center, junior Scott Haverkamp at right guard, and senior Chester Adams at right tackle.
Both players on the left side of the line were making their first career starts, although both started all 13 games at their positions last year. Velasco came in with 13 consecutive starts at split guard under his belt and started 13 more at center. Adams, who finished with 23 total starts for his career, started all but one game at tackle last season; he was relieved for the Western Carolina game by true freshman Clint Boling, who took over at right guard for the remainder of the fall. Boling’s 11 straight starts also represent his entire career on the first team.
Sturdivant came out of high school as a USA Today All-USA Second Team selection and Scout.com’s No. 18 offensive tackle in the country. Davis was an Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-State Honorable Mention and a member of Rivals.com’s Georgia Top 50. Velasco was one of the Journal-Constitution’s Georgia Top 50. Haverkamp came out of Silver Lake, Kans., as a two-time All-Mideast League selection. Adams was rated as Rivals.com’s No. 32 offensive tackle nationally and Boling was among the Journal-Constitution’s Georgia Top 50. In short, all were solid players, but only Sturdivant and Adams were highly touted nationally.
How did UGA end up so young along the offensive line to start the 2007 season?
Fortunately, it was not a situation such as that which occurred in 2003, when too many consecutive recruiting classes which neglected to include an adequate number of offensive linemen caught up to the Bulldogs. The 2007 line lacked starting experience in part because the 2006 line had a great deal of it.
The 2006 Georgia line featured 13-game starters Ken Shackleford at split tackle and Nick Jones at center, as well as 11-game starter Daniel Inman at tight tackle and four-game starter Michael Turner at tight guard and tight tackle. All four were seniors.
Georgia lost depth due to a variety of circumstances which kept some players off the field or resulted in their departure from the team, but the Bulldogs signed seven offensive linemen in 2003, two in 2004, one in 2005, six in 2006, eight in 2007, and three in 2008. Obviously, in retrospect, it would have been nice to have signed a few more linemen in the 2004 and 2005 classes (who were in their fourth and third years with the program, respectively, in 2007), but the commitment to signing linemen shown in signing six or more of them in three of the last six recruiting classes is evident.
Many in the media claim that UGA had a very good offensive line last year. I’m sure those same pundits weren’t predicting that at the beginning of the season. What are your thoughts on the 2007 Bulldogs line? What does their performance say about the players who left from 2006?
With all due respect to former Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway, the lesson of the 2007 Bulldog line is that coaching matters a great deal. Stacy Searels took a group of players who had considerable talent but scant experience and molded them into a functioning unit.
I in no way wish to bash Callaway, who, by all accounts, is a good man and a good coach, but I believe the Bulldogs traded up when he got the UAB head coaching job. What the performance of the 2007 line says about such 2006 stalwarts as Inman, Jones, Shackleford, and Turner is that last year’s offensive line was better coached.
Georgia started off the season hosting Oklahoma State and South Carolina (whose defense was loaded last year before being decimated by injuries). Did the offensive line struggle early on? Why or why not? How difficult was it for them to start off against two pretty decent teams?
The first two weeks of last season proved the axiom that things are never as good as they seem and things are never as bad as they seem. Against the Cowboys, Georgia held the ball for 36:29, converted seven of 15 third downs, and generated 376 yards of total offense. Although the Bulldogs managed to outgain the Gamecocks 341-314 the following week, the Red and Black were held to 3-of-18 on third down and the South Carolina defense was in the backfield all night, blowing up plays with regularity.
While watching the Oklahoma State game, you never would have known that none of Georgia’s offensive linemen had previous starting experience at their respective positions, but the South Carolina game made their inexperience abundantly clear. Of course, the Cowboys’ strength was on offense and the Gamecocks’ strength was on defense, so it figured that the second game would have been the one that exposed the weaknesses on the Georgia offensive front. Accordingly, the Bulldogs’ struggles came early, but not immediately.
When did they finally click? Can you tie this to an event, a game, or a series of games (possibly against inferior competition)? Do you think they put it all together earlier if they had, say, two I-AA opponents to open the season against?
I don’t know that there was a single specific point in the season at which the offensive line put it together so much as there was a point in the season at which the offense as a whole put it all together. The Tennessee game (a 35-14 loss in Knoxville), which was by far the Bulldogs’ worst performance of the season and arguably their worst of the Mark Richt era, wasn’t so much a problem of inexperience as it was a lack of preparedness and intensity. The Volunteers simply were ready for everything Georgia had to offer, which was a triumph of game-planning and execution rather than a simple act of overwhelming underclassmen.
Senior leadership is a cliché, but the presence of an upperclassman in the middle of the line definitely provided stability and helped the line come together. However, the entire offense had to mature, which was not always a function of youth; the largest spark by far came from a redshirt freshman, Knowshon Moreno.
If pressed to pinpoint an instant at which the entire offense gelled, I would point to the timeout during which the booth officials reviewed a play in the Ole Miss game. At that point, the team got into a rhythm . . . literally. The music (though not the lyrics) to Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” was played over the stadium loudspeakers, and, when the cameras caught Moreno and some of his teammates performing the accompanying dance on the sidelines---a dance which was being performed in the stands by the students and younger alumni, and which was taken up by some of the defensive players on the field awaiting the verdict from the booth---the energy in Sanford Stadium went to a new level and what had been a nip-and-tuck contest turned into a rout as Georgia scored the last 28 points on the way to a 45-17 blowout.
The numbers bear that out: Georgia was held in the ballpark of 130 to 150 rushing yards in each of the Red and Black’s first four games before exploding for 328 against the Rebels. After that, aside from an uncharacteristically poor effort in Knoxville in every phase of the contest, the Bulldogs tended to be more in the range of 180 to 200 yards per game on the ground.
I definitely don’t believe that facing an easier early-season slate would have caused Georgia to put it together faster. The sense of urgency that accompanied the knowledge that the team would be facing a legitimate opening opponent in Oklahoma State caused the team to become a cohesive unit sooner rather than later. My son and I were fortunate enough to be given a tour of the Georgia weight room in May 2007 and some of the players I saw working out there were wearing “Georgia v. Oklahoma State September 1, 2007” T-shirts. I would be willing to wager that none of the players are wearing “Georgia v. Georgia Southern August 30, 2008” T-shirts today.
Although there were growing pains in 2007, the low points were nothing like those experienced in 2006, in which the Bulldogs lost four games in five weeks at midseason after opening against Western Kentucky and playing UAB in the season’s second home game. Similarly rapid development was evident in the previous seasons of the Mark Richt era, in which the Red and Black went to three SEC championship games and two Sugar Bowls in 2002, 2003, and 2005 (when Georgia opened against Clemson twice and Boise State once).
Look at it this way . . . if playing inferior competition truly helped a team to improve, then why did Georgia manage 20 points and 368 yards on 66 plays against Vanderbilt yet rack up 42 points and 413 yards on 62 snaps against Florida?
T. Kyle KingDawg Sports
Monday, August 25, 2008
- Mincey (important DT), Graham (possible TE contributor), and Dunham (H-Back type) are still not enrolled at FSU. Their transcripts have not been approved at this point. Today was the first day of classes. I am about 99% sure that they will not participate in FSU football this year. Let's break down the impact:
- Mincey was projected to be a starter, he was very talented. I am very disappointed that he could not meet FSU's easy standards. I have known many people who don't attend class, don't have access to tutors, who party daily, and keep more than a 2.75 GPA. From a football fan angle, we need to have programs that can get these type kids into very easy classes. A few kids receiving watered down degrees every year doesn't damage my degree in my opinion.
- UPDATE: Mincey made the grades and is back! Retaining Mincey while losing Graham & Dunham (see below) is the best possible thing that could happen.
- Graham was a trouble maker and a liability. I am glad he is no longer on the team. He had decent, but not spectacular talent. This will free up another scholarship. I will again restate my view on thinning our roster. If you are not poised to make a solid contribution by the time you are a junior because of your talent or work ethic, and not due to a position logjam, I want to cut you.
- Dunham was a total bust. A relic of the Nepotism Era, Dunham's progress consistently disappointed observers. This is a good loss.
- Jermaine Thomas returned to practice today after an academic related scare. This was not related to cheating and was a qualifications issue. This is an important break for FSU.
- The play clock will now start immediately once the ball is blown dead as opposed to when the referee blew the play ready. The clock consists of 40 seconds, not 25. Also, except within 2 minutes, when the player runs out of bounds, the clock will start upon the reset of the ball and not the snap.
- Impact: Game play will be more consistent across the conferences. I expect there to be about 5 fewer plays per game. I've based this off of conversations with other college football guys. If we see 64 plays per game instead of 72, expect scoring to be down some. Totals players should take note. I really think this favors teams leading at the end of the game, since the clock will run immediately instead of waiting for the referee to spot the ball.
- The NCAA clarified the rules on chop blocking in an attempt to protect players.
- Impact: Good. This is absolutely a direct result of the ridiculous block that Auburn laid on Glen Dorsey of LSU.
- FSU Impact: this could hurt FSU and similarly Trickett- styled lines since they frequently employ the cut block. Cut blocks sometimes border on chop blocks.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Florida is governed by the Government in the Sunshine Law.
Let's have a little Q & A.
Q. What is a public record?
A. The Florida Supreme Court has determined that public records are all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. They are not limited to traditional written documents. Tapes, photographs, films and sound recordings are also considered public records subject to inspection unless a statutory exemption exists.
Q. Does the Notice of Allegations from the NCAA to FSU qualify as a public record?
A. Well, the document is a material, which was received, by an agency (FSU), in connection with official business, which was used to perpetuate, communicate, and formalize knowledge. The Notice of Allegations does qualify as a public record.
Q. When does a document sent to a public agency become a public document?So the document is a public record upon receipt. It looks like Florida Law requires FSU to release the documents. At this point, they have denied those requests.
A. As soon as a document is received by a public agency, it becomes a public record, unless there is a legislatively created exemption which makes it confidential and not subject to disclosure.
Q. Does an agency have to explain why it denies access to public records?FSU does have the right to refuse to release the documents if they have a good faith basis that the requested information falls under an exemption, whether statutorily or judicially created. They have to specify which exemption they believe the record falls under. They also have to disclose why they believe the record falls under the exemption
A. A custodian of a public record who contends that the record or part of a record is exempt from inspection must state the basis for that exemption, including the statutory citation. Additionally, when asked, the custodian must state in writing the reasons for concluding the record is exempt.
What exemption is FSU citing? Bianchi's story fails to disclose the specific exemption. This is poor journalism by him. He most likely knows what exemption FSU cited when they denied his request. They would have responded to the attorney that represents the Orlando Sentinel. By failing to include the citation to the authority cited by FSU, Bianchi appears to be hiding something as well. His article is riddled with assumptions that may or may not be true.
UPDATE: Andrew Carter provided the specific exemption:
“Because this matter remains an ongoing confidential investigation under Section 1012,91, Florida Statutes, no further comment or provision of records maintained for the purposes of the investigation is anticipated until the investigation is concluded. Further, many of the records involved, including the June 10 correspondence from the NCAA [the NOA] that has become a record maintained by the University, contains confidential and exempt personally identifiable student education records and reports information pursuant to Section 1002.22(3)(d), Florida Statutes, which gives students a right of privacy ‘in their records. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, also protects the privacy of student education records.”Thanks to Andrew for providing that. FSU is fully within its rights to claim this exception. If someone believes they have wrongly claimed the exception, they should challenge it in a court of law and the judge will decide whether the documents fall under the exception. To my knowledge, nobody has sued FSU over this matter yet. If this matter was really as cut and dry as many in the media make it out to be, someone would have sued months ago, the case would already have been decided, and this would be a non issue. Since the case has not been decided, it seems as if there is some uncertainty. FSU chose to employ this legal strategy, for whatever reason, and they will continue to maintain their stance until someone challenges them in a Florida court.
Bianchi's slant on the situation, however, isn't relevant to the issue of whether FSU is rightfully withholding the documents. While I don't have the specific citation they are claiming, the general idea is that FSU is not releasing the documents because they believe the documents contain protected student information. Some student information is protected under privacy laws. Under Florida Law, agencies are not required to create new reports or information, however An agency that claims an exception based on student privacy, is probably under a duty to release the information in a non-intrusive form. The commonly accepted practice by universities is to release the information with student names and identifying information redacted. FSU has promised to release the information once they file their revised response to the NCAA. The estimated date of release, then, is somewhere around September 12th. This battle could end up in court if the parties requesting the information want to press the issue. It is unlikely, however, that their issue would be decided by a court before September 12th, so their best strategy at this point is to wait 'till the 12th. Also, there is no guarantee that FSU will be forced to turnover the documents. A judge could easily side with the 'Noles and agree that the documents fall within the claimed exemption.
Q. What are the possible downsides to FSU's tactics?
A. Plenty. Obviously, when you fight the media, you will lose the public relations battle. The "taxpayers deserve their information" argument is very powerful and everyone identifies as a taxpayer. FSU's public relations has been horrible in the past few years and the administration is increasingly adopting an anti-media stance. From closing practices, to vague injury reports (upper body injury), and now this. Whether FSU would win in court is debatable. That they are losing in the court of public opinion, is not.
If someone does take FSU to court over this and win, FSU could be in some trouble. FSU could be ordered to produce the documents at their own expense (usually the requesting party must pay) and pay the requesting party's attorneys fees and court costs. If the withholding of the documents is found to be willful, the court could impose a civil penalty and possibly charge the presiding official with a crime.
Q. Why doesn't the Sentinel make the NCAA produce the documents?If you have any other questions about FSU's sunshine laws, post them in the comments section and I will attempt to answer them.
A. Despite how they are sometimes portrayed, the NCAA is not a governmental organization. They do not fall under the jurisdiction of Florida's Sunshine Laws. As a private organization, it would be almost impossible to make the NCAA turn over the documents.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Tavarres Pressley, RB. Pressley was the #2 rated JUCO back this past year. He has had a lot of problems qualifying. While I usually don't like the chances of JUCO kids getting in, Pressley did say that he got his qualifying grade from my summer course. The problem is that his transcript is apparently mixed up in the transcripts of all the other students. I''d really prefer there was some fast-tracking available for these kids. His transcript was help up for 2 weeks but now it appears Jeff Cameron is reporting that Pressley is in, which was confirmed by FSU's SI office. This is excellent news. He won't be able to wear pads for 5 days due to the NCAA acclimation process (helmet and shorts for 3 days, shells for 2).
He is a good runner with solid hands and excellent vision. A little over 6 foot and 210-215ish. Remember that running back is a position that doesn't require much practice. I expect him to take some carries from Antone, offer FSU another option at TB, and improve FSU's depth. Pressley isn't a burner, but he does get good separation. He looks like he can be a productive back. This is especially important considering the lack of depth at the position and the Jermaine Thomas situation, discussed below.
Justin Mincey is an excellent defensive tackle prospect who was a music appreciator (will miss first 3 games) and had to take some classes this summer at TCC to stay eligible. FSU really needs him for the Wake Forest game. Some considered him to be the best interior defensive lineman on the team in the Spring. I never expect a kid who couldn't hack it academically at Florida State and had to cheat on an Online Music History Appreciation exam to be able to go and make a good grade at community college in the summer and return to the roster. Don't expect him back, but be pleasantly surprised if he is. With the disinformation approach that FSU athletics now employs, their silence on the matter is disheartening. We really need Moses McCray to step it up and get fully healthy.
Matt Dunham, H-Back/ TE/ RB. Dunham is a Junior hybrid H-Back/ TE, and at this point in his career, he has not shown much promise despite being very highly ranked. Once again, the same rule applies: I never expect a kid who couldn't hack it academically at Florida State to be able to go and make a good grade at community college in the summer and return to the roster. Personally, I hope he doesn't make it back. He wouldn't contribute much this season, and it clears up a scholarship we can use on a player that the new administration actually wants.
Charlie Graham, TE, Jr. Graham is actually a promising TE who would be a junior this year. Graham has been in and out of trouble throughout his 2 year career at FSU. He was involved in a gun discharge incident over the summer. He also has to take classes at TCC this summer to get back on the team. Troubled kid, decent but not great talent, not expected to be a starter even if he had remained on the team. Let's apply the rule: I never expect a kid who couldn't hack it academically at Florida State to be able to go and make a good grade at community college in the summer and return to the roster. FSU hasn't had an arrest in almost 4 months and personally I hope that he doesn't make it back. Like Mincey and Dunham, his status is in limbo pending TCC's grades and registrar approval.
Jermaine Thomas, RB, fr. Thomas is a highly touted prospect. He practiced with FSU for a week but is now not practicing with the team. What is up? Academics. Something from his academic resume was flagged or reviewed. Most expect him back on the team and I wouldn't worry about this kid yet. He has the best chance to make it back out of the 4 still out there.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
User Chad wrote: Myron Rolle - liability in coverage or victim of scheme/teammates?
I'd have to say that he is both. Rolle was burned last year and there are serious questions about the fluidity in his hips and his top-end speed. That said, he is rated as the #1 overall strong safety prospect for the 2009 draft by NFL DraftScout and Mickey Andrew's defense has really slipped in the past few years. If NFl Scouts think he is the best safety prospect out there, but he isn't a superstar player for FSU, it's reasonable to conclude that they believe that he will either improve immensly at a later date, or that he is already good and misused by Mickey Andrews. In either case, they think that their coaches can make it happen. I think he can be a decent NFL safety, and a very good college safety. Mickey needs to use him more on Blitzes in my opinion, and put him in more robber positions so he can intimidate people and make some serious hits.
More from Chad: Antone Smith - why has his YPC gone down? Will he pull a Washington/Booker and be better at the next level than now? If so, why? Is the line that bad or can he just not hit the holes?
As is so often the case, health is so important. I don't think Antone was healthy for most of last year. He was clearly hobbled in some games by his shoulder injury and turf toe. If you haven't had turf toe, I seriously suggest reading this excellent article from the ESPN.com Training Room. Antone killed Kentucky last year in the Bowl game, and he has really shown a great burst to date in training camp. The offensive line hasn't been good, and there haven't always been holes to hit. As I already talked about, this offensive line will probably be better this year. When healthy, Antone has always produced and I fully expect him to have a big year. As for the NFL, he seems a little small for that level.
Commenter Arthronole Wrote: Regarding your Return of the Sack article, I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding the overall offensive scheme changes in college football in general and how has it impacted FSU's success with QB pressure & sacks? FSU has or will see many variations of the option offense(spread @ UF, Orbit @ WF, Wishbone @ Ga Tech, standard @ Va Tech
Andrew's defense has clearly slipped in the past few years, specifically his pass defense. He had always recruited excellent defensive backs, but recently his recruits have been flops for the most part. I criticize him for his lack of creativity and his inflexibility. Some say that his defense is entirely predicated on getting serious pressure on the qb. Great. What if you don't get that pressure? We need to have more variety. We really don't disguise our coverages well.
On a positive note, I do think that FSU will eventually defend the spread well. Teams that blitz frequently get shredded by the spread scheme which makes them come from a greater distance and presents real issues when they try to disguise who is coming and from where. FSU doesn't blitz excessively, and hopefully they can get back to getting pressure form the front four.
FSU owns the triple option and with Miami, they were largely responsible for the disappearance of the triple option from the major college football scene. It's tougher now to prepare for the triple option because modern players aren't familiar with the attack and it's difficult to simulate the attack at full speed with the scout team.
As for Wake Forest, FSU lived in the Deacon's backfield last year and I fully expect them to return to dominating Wake very soon. FSU's athletes are just better than Wake's and now that FSU knows they have to focus on Wake's unique scheme, I expect them to come strong. This year will be especially tough for Wake since FSU will dominate their wideouts (all new) and their offensive line has not impressed in camp to date.
FSU will always be aggressive on defense, but they need to play smarter overall. Don't be aggressive for no reason. Read, then react.
Anynymous wrote: I'm not a coach and haven't seen Jody Allen coaching the ends. But it wouldn't suprise me if your speculation is correct. Bobby Bowden has a history of taking yeoman coaches and letting them coach positions they never even played before, much less coached (Jimmy Heggins ring a bell?). How can a former under-talented offensive lineman like Allen who is a grad asst. one year suddenly become a DE coach the next, ready to teach the finer points of technique, balance, steps, etc? We simply do not have the talent and depth to paper over subpar coaching anymore. This program will never truly turn around until Bobby takes his naps somewhere else and Jimbo is finally able to clean house!
We already said that Jody Allen needs to go. Obviously he is underqualified to coach defensive ends at the major college level. I agree that Bobby is a current net negative for the program. That said, we are in a better spot than we would have been had Jimbo left for West Virginia. I fully expect Jimbo to clean house and get rid of the last remnants of the Nepotism Era, but the key now is to continue to get this program ready for the 2010-2012 transition seasons.
Anthronole wrote, in regard to the They're Baaack... ACC OFFENSE EDITION:Does anyone else think the talk of the OL, while a concern, has been blown out of proportion? It's not like FSU is the only school in the ACC with only 2 returning starting OL. Clemson is as well but they get picked to win the ACC?
Yes, it is being overblown, especially when you consider that FSU gets 2 warm up games and won't face a hostile crowd until October (Miami). Early reports on the line have been very encouraging. I'm not blind to the youth, and I do expect some struggles, but other teams will struggle as well. I cited Wake's offensive line as a primary factor for my belief that FSU will soundly beat them this year even with the suspensions.
Anthronole wrote: Back in the JB era, the offensive was surprisingly high scoring compared to the rest of the ACC, but pass heavy. Even though scoring was way down last year, the offense was more balanced under JF.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule! You always have to consider the schedule! FSU's 2007 schedule was very difficult, and their 2006 schedule was a cakewalk. Comparing those two years isn't really fair to Jimbo or Jeff. I saw a lot of improvement from the offense in 2007, and balance is just one factor that I could highlight.
Finally, Chili commented: I added your site to our blogroll over at DFIG. Bill at Scalp Em introduced me to the site and I read it daily. Excellent analysis. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Chili. For our readers who don't know, DFIG is a great Clemson blog. It stands for Danny Ford is God, and you can find them here, or in our blogroll (at right). I'm sure we will discuss the big conference showdown with them soon.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I finished the stuff I was working on for work. It's now time to get back to bringing you guys the 'Nole Insight I know you come here for.
- I added a bit about the Little League World Series. I know it's not FSU related, but hopefully you will enjoy it.
- Injuries are mounting in college football. I added the most significant one to the post I made earlier this year on FSU's shocking injury record.
- I updated The Weatherford Report. New Charts and Graphs! Also, why Drew beats up on Boston College!
- The Daniel Allyn Hood research is coming along very well. I appreciate every one's help with that. Still though, I plan to sit on that story and unleash it during one of our first 2 game weeks.
- I conducted an interview with an expert on the Georgia Bulldogs. They started 3 freshmen on their offensive line last year. Expect that in the next few days.
- I know I've promised a Mailbag for a while, and that is coming as well. I often work on several projects at once and I need to stop that. Do you like the idea of weaving user comments into the articles? Let me know.
- FSUncensored put their entry into 1270theteam's J.C.S. Poll (The official college football poll of the Jeff Cameron Show). I can tell you that UGA and to a lesser extent USC will be dropping some after suffering some injuries.
- I'm considering going on Jeff's show on a weekly basis to discuss the 'Noles, still need to talk to Jeff about it though. Wouldn't it be a shock to hear Jeff be the more reserved guy in a Florida State interview? If you don't already listen to Jeff on a daily basis at work, you really should.
- Hines and I run another Blog where we keep track of all the college football injuries. He's in the middle of a move right now, but usually we update on Monday and Thursday.
- Also in the works: An article profiling who the Noles can least afford to lose to injury, from worst to first. This isn't a "best player list", it's a "Most value over replacement player" list, or MVRP.