Wednesday, August 30, 2006
BIG 12 2006 - The Season Begins
ISU 28 - Toledo 21
Colorado will continue practicing 'Hawk Ball' with the Bobcats of Montana State University
CU 18 - MSU 10
Kansas opens up at home against the Demons of Nortwestern State University - they get that name from being somewhere Northwest of New Orleans
KU 24 - NwSU 12
There will be a meeting of two states in Manhattan (that would be Manhattan, Kansas for you in North Platte) when the Redbirds of Illinois State take on Kansas State
KSU 23 - ISU 28 - UPSET SPECIAL-!!!
Missouri begins their Smithless season at 6:00 P.M. Saturday night against the Kentucky Racers of Murray State - Murray State - ? What's a Murray State-?
MU 29 - MSU 15
Baylor also begins their season at home against the Horned Frogs of TCU (ahem - yes North Platte, that means Texas Christian University). This could be a very entertaining game but I don't think the Bear's new offense can pull it off - yet
BU 20 - TCU 28
Oklahoma (no, that is NOT an Indian word for "Lack of Institutional Control") starts their season Saturday night against the Blazers of UAB. Even with all the hub bub going on over there, I suspect OU will win this one rather handily
OU 37 - UAB 14
Another group of Bears (these are from Missouri State University) will get after the Cowboys of Oklahoma State right in the middle of renovating Billionaire Stadium. I don't think all that construction noise will bother the Cowboys
OSU 30 - MSU 21
The Longhorns take on the Mean Green (Eagles-?) of North Texas in another night game in Austin - - yawn---
UT 42 - UNT 3
Something called 'The Citadel' will play at Texas A&M in a game that only an Aggie would care about
Tx A&M 35 - ???? 7
Texas Tech begins it's season with a couple of rarities - A Sophomore QB and a decent opponent - Southern Methodist University. However, I suspect the Red Raiders will torch the Mustangs in Lubbock
TT 39 - SMU 18
Unless you've been living somewhere without television, radio and newspapers, you are well aware Nebraska begins it's third season of the 'Great Experiment' Saturday afternoon in Lincoln against the Bulldogs of yet another university from Louisiana - Louisiana Tech, aka LaTech.
The Bulldogs Head Coach Bicknell has had the usual coachspeak of 'we so bad, they so good' -
"We Just didn't come out here physical enogh" Bicknell said after Monday's practice.
"You've got to be kidding me. We're five days from opening the season and some of these guys just don't get it"
"This is a great opportunity for us," Bicknell said. "The entire country will be watching - - . Nebraska is a great team and a great program. It will be a big challenge but one I want our players to embrace".
Well Coach, EMBRACE THIS -
HUSKERS 41 - Bulldogs 7
Friday, August 25, 2006
1) He was voted team captain before the depth chart came out. He was voted captain unanimously. In other words, the entire team felt he was a leader of the team.
2) He was given the starting nod over Rudy Carpenter for a reason. Both of them had a chance to prove themselves on the field. The only reason there was even a battle this Spring was because Keller went out with a broken thumb. Carpenter was in there because of injury, not because Keller could not get it done. This year, Keller won the starting role based on his field performance, field leadership and field presence. It may have been close, but he still won.
3) Head Coach Dirk Koetter then had an "emergency" meeting with Rudy and his Dad about this. Now while there is no real information on what that consisted of, we do know that immediately after that meeting, Koetter called a meeting of the teams "Leadership Council". Based on a quote from someone in that meeting, the council was ready to stand behind Keller. But near the end of the meeting, they started to go to Carpenter
4) Without any further on field evaluation, and without any further practice or drills, Koetter informs Keller he is being demoted and Carpenter is going ahead to start. So Keller lost his job for a mythical reason, and not because of job performance.
Now, one can speculate what happened, and it has been alluded to in certain papers in Arizona. My opinion on this is that Carpenter and his dad threatened to transfer if he was not the starter. Koetter gave in, and proved that the inmates run the asylum in Tempe. Keller could have stayed, but what chance did he have. Any bond of trust he had with the team was destroyed with that Carpenter meeting, and then with the Leadership Council meeting. The only real choice for Keller was to leave.
But what about those "character issues" that seem to be reported with Keller. Well, he made a few statements last year that can be construed as "selfish" or "self centered". But the quotes he made last year are no different than the ones Carpenter made. These character issues that seem to come up are for one reason only. That reason is there is a contingent, and growing very quickly now, in the Tempe area that wants Koetter gone. They are trying to use any little tidbit available to help their cause. With the Keller issue, they try to highlight a "mythical" character issue with Keller to try and tie that to the Loren Wade shooting that happened. So it is not really about Keller that these issues come up, but because a growing ASU base wants to highlight how Koetter does not have control of the team.
I have this to say to Sam Keller. You are one heck of a QB, and you lit it up against USC until Koetter got stupid. You threw for over 2000 yards in less than 7 complete games. You are a dang good QB, and one who can help the Huskers out this year and next. Welcome to the best college football team ever, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Louisiana Tech Overview
Tech finished last season at 7-4, averaged 147 yards on the ground, 219 yards in the air on offense. The defense picked up last year allowing an average of 133 rushing yards, and 248 passing yards. While this may not win any national championships, it was a huge improvement for the Bulldogs. But that was last season.
On offense, the Bulldogs are going to start a brand new QB. All of the QBs on the roster have a total of eight pass attempts between them on the I-A level. It looks as if Jr Zac Champion will be the starting QB when the Bulldogs come to Lincoln. So that means they will need to rely more on a running attack as Champion gets up to speed. But that is the strength of this team. They return junior Freddie Franklin and Patrick Jackson. They also have a star recruit in Michael Griffin, who by the way turned down Nebraska to go to Tech. The O Line looks to open the holes. The receiving corp is seasoned, but has bouts of inconsistency. Senior receivers Eric Newman and Jonathan Holland will help in the passing game. In all, Tech returns 6 players on the offense and will likely continue to try and grind it out on the ground until Champion, or one of the other QBs, gets in step with the receivers.
The defense did improve the last year, but is the huge question mark on the team this year. They return only 2 starters. Tech runs a 3-4 defense and only have 1 returning LB from the front seven. This could be a problem in the early stages of the year for Tech. Coaches have been rotating in new players and they brought in JUCOs to help get through the gap. The secondary only returns safety Dez Abrams, who had 52 tackles (30 solo). However, coaches seem to give the impression to the local papers that the secondary will be fine. With only 2 starters that return, there may be more time that is needed to gel as a unit and work together. The defense may hit strides together before their conference schedule begins, but more than likely not before the season opener in Lincoln.
Special teams has a little better luck with returning players. Junior Danny Horwedel returns as the place kicker and was 18-26 in field goals last year. Sophomore punter Chris Keagle returns to punt duty, however that may be bad news to the Bulldogs if he can not improve on the 37.4 yards per punt average. If that continues, then the Bulldog D will have more of a challenge. Returning kickoffs will be the former RB Weldon Brown and punts will be handled by Freddie Franklin. Tech did do a great job on kickoff returns last year averaging 23.2 yards per kickoff return, which ranked them 19 in the country in that category.
This year Tech has a few intangibles working for them, and against them. Last year they ended the season by racking up 40 points in a victory over Fresno State. That gave them good momentum. Then came the bad news. This team finished with a 7-4 record, but they were not invited to any bowl. That has to anger up the blood. They are a young team and no one expects them to do anything, so they may shock people. Coach Bicknell has made practices a very serious affair and has been very vocal when he sees something he does not like. To add to all of that, one of the most famous alumni, Terry Bradshaw, returned for a little ceremony at the campus. And when it is possible to have a legend come talk to the team, it can make a major impact. Tech is sure to ride the emotional roller coaster this year.
So what does this mean for the Huskers? If Callahan is serious about the run game, this is the best time to prove it. A 3-4 defense, almost all new starters on D is like an open invitation to the end zone via the feet of Lucky, Glenn and Wilson. Passing should not be a problem either. The Husker OLine should be able to give Taylor enough time. The Blackshirts will have to watch the pass, but will likely be confronted with the run more times than not. There should be plenty of opportunities to get in the backfield and the secondary will have a chance to get more "on the job" training. And since Darth did a fabulous job breaking down the Huskers, there is no need to repeat it. This should be a win, but let's not out coach ourselves for this one. (You listening Cosgrove?)
La Tech 2005 Stats
Rushing: 53rd (147.6 ypg)
Passing: 66th (219.1 ypg)
Scoring: 46th (28.73 ppg)
Total : 63rd (366.7 ypg)
Rushing: 37th (133.2 ypg)
Passing: 86th (248.1 ypg)
Scoring: 58th (25.50 ppg)
Total : 66th (381.3 ypg)
This, That and BIG 12 Quarterbacks
"I coach smart, not scared" was the reply. Was that a defense mechanism or just proof he IS the jerk some of us thought he was-? Naw, I'm not prejudeiced......
As fall practices have gotten under way around the BIG 12, we suddenly have only four teams with returning starters at QB - Baylor, Iowa State, Nebraska and Oklahoma. However, OSU's Reid only had five starts last year due to injuries and never did seem to have a handle on Gundy's new offensive scheme. That many unsettled positions this fall does make the BIG 12 appear to be a little less the "Big 2 and the Little 10" than it has the past few years. HOWEVER, OU and Texas each have a LOT of starters and all BIG 12 caliber talent at positions other than QB so they still remain as the teams to beat if you plan on being at the top of the league.
Speaking of quarterbacks, I am often amused at the arrogance of some sports writers, particularly in this neck of the woods. A recent author of local hogwash insinuated that OU must not have known Brian Hildebrand was available cause surely, the young man would have chosen OU over Nebraska if only the OU staff had gone after him. Heh, heh - that's rich-!!! However, that particular writer does seem to have the opinion that QB competition at Nebraska is much better than at OU and that Hildebrand would therefore have played sooner (no pun intended) at OU. hmmmmmmm-?? Nebraska has some quality back ups-? That would be news to some of the more un-faithful Husker fans...
Well, at this writing, the first game is STILL 17 days away-!! Sooo, I need to buck up against the heat down here and get the old smoker out and tuned up for the first Saturday in September. Here's predicting a VERY solid win for the Huskers_!!!
As the team is repeating, all games are focused one at a time. So I will take the same stand. Instead of looking at the entire season, and breaking it down, this season is broken up in 12 units. Each unit represents a specific game that must be played. The first unit is Louisiana Tech.
As I eagerly await kick off for this new college season, I have been looking at the first game. What will happen? Are we prepared for it? What does Tech have in store for us?
All of these questions will be answered. . . .
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
2006 Nebraska football preview
Here's a breakdown of Nebraska position-by-position:
Quarterback - Everything changes if senior Zac Taylor gets hurt and misses any length of time. Taylor is an all-conference candidate. More importantly, Taylor is the offense's leader and glue. By all accounts, Taylor is far better than anybody (including the departed Harrison Beck) behind him. Not to mention, with Beck gone, Nebraska has only three scholarship players at the position. Backup Joey Ganz has never taken a live snap in college.
I-back - Marlon Lucky, Cody Glenn, Kenny Wilson, and the Jacksons (Leon and Brandon) provide excellent depth. One or more of these backs should be able to effectively replace Cory Ross. Arguably, all of the potential replacements have better physical skills and potential than Ross. The question is: can they provide the same pass blocking and intangibles that Ross brought to the table? I'm guessing this group's big-play ability and depth will make up for any drop-off in pass blocking.
Fullback - Dane Todd returns as the starter. Fullback has become mostly a part-time position in Callahan's WCO; as mostly a blocker and occasional receiver. This position is likely to be augmented by several tight ends in a H back-type role.
Wide receiver - The Huskers are so deep here that Tyrell Spain and Isaiah Fluellen have been tried at corner during fall camp. Starters Nate Swift and Terrence Nunn both return as leading receivers. Todd Peterson also returns. Several tall and quick newcomers could challenge for immediate playing time and add more big plays.
Tight End - This position is the wild card. If Matt Herian can come back anywhere close to his explosive self before his injury, Nebraska's offense might have something special. Herian's ability to stretch the field over the middle could make everyone's job a lot easier. Nebraska returns all of its tight ends who played a year ago, including several newcomers. Unfortunately, the production from the tight end position in 2005 with Herian out was not promising.
Offensive line - As with any football team, this is the most important position on the field. Last year the line was terrible; Taylor was sacked and hit far too often and the running game averaged less than 100 ypg - Nebraska's worst rushing performance in 4 decades. The bright side was that the line improved toward the end of 2005 as several new faces added depth. The 2006 line appears to be much deeper and healthier. If the spring was any indication, the running game should be much improved. If the line can keep Taylor healthy and produce at least 150 ypg rushing, Nebraska could win 10 or 11 games.
Defensive end - This is one of the best positions on the team. Adam Carriker is an All-American candidate who should terrorize opposing offenses. Jay Moore is very solid at the other end, and Barry Turner is a dangerous pass rusher coming off the bench.
Defensive tackle - Last year's solid backups become this year's starters. Ola Dagunduro, Ndamukong Suh, and Barry Cryer should be the top tackles. Smith and Adams will be tough to replace, but the biggest challenge might be having the same depth as 2005, when Dagunduro and Cryer allowed Smith and Adams to rest. Depth is the biggest concern here.
Linebackers - This is Nebraska's deepest and most accomplished group. Injuries last season led to lots of players getting playing time. Five players with starting experience return. Corey McKeon is an honors candidate. Stewart Bradley is Nebraska's most experienced returner and appears to be healthy again. Bo Ruud was one of Nebraska's leading tacklers last season and should be healthy again as well. Steve Octavien was lost to injury in the first game in 2005. He might be Nebraska's most explosive linebacker. This group should be special.
Secondary - The potential weakness of a very strong defensive. There's talent here but it's young and/or inexperienced. With starting corner Zack Bowman going down, only Courtney Grixby returns as a starter to the same position. Tierre Green started several games at cornerback last season, but he moves to strong safety in 2006. He has plenty of athletic ability but has switched positions three times in his career. With Bowman's injury, JC transfer Andre Jones must be good immediately - he will probably start right away. Several newcomers add depth. The secondary is crucial because Nebraska faces several big and talented receivers (particularly against USC, Texas, and Iowa State) in 2006. The front seven is likely to be so good that teams will choose to attack Nebraska's secondary instead.
Special teams - Jordan Congdon returns at kicker after a Freshman All-American season. All of Nebraska's top kick and punt returners return from very solid units. Nebraska blocked several kicks in 2005. The only question is punter; Nebraska lost its record setting punter from last season.