Archive for January, 2011

Cam Newton v. LaMichael James

If you had looked at the final BCS standings for the 2010-11 season, you could not have even called, hell, even took a stab in the dark that the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks held the number 1 and 2 spot, respectively. With predicted favorites Alabama and Ohio State falling early in a roller coaster of a season, in which five different teams held the top spot in the BCS standings, who would have known that the #11 preseason ranked Ducks would be squaring off against a #22 preseason ranked Auburn team. It only makes sense when each team had a Heisman finalist to lead them there, in which Oregon’s LaMichael James finished 3rd while Auburn’s Cam Newton took home the hardware (as well as other distinguished trophies). It’ll definitely be one for the books in this shootout but here is my breakdown of the 2011 BCS title game:

Quarterback
Oregon’s Darren Thomas did a nice job this season commanding the Duck’s explosive, video-game like offense by throwing for over 2500 yards, 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Thomas also proved he could be a solid duel-threat QB by rushing for 492 yards and five scores. However, it’s Cam Newton that takes the crown for this category by far. The Heisman, Davey O’Brien (Top NCAA QB), and Maxwell (College player of the year) award-winning quarterback has shown inhuman qualities while putting up unbelievable statistics: throwing for over 2500 yards, in which he completed 67.1% of his passes and 28 touchdowns AND rushing for 1580 yards and 20 touchdowns. Purely mind-blowing. Newton also has the drive in him to win it all, especially in Auburn’s 4th quarter comeback against Alabama on Nov 26.
EDGE: Auburn

Running Back
Running back is sort of a vague term for Auburn, as Cam Newton could have arguably handled both halfback and quarterback positions. However, the Tigers real starting running back Michael Dyer had a nice season to compliment Newton and Auburn, rushing for 962 yards, averaging 5.9 a carry with 5 scores. Dyer and even Newton could not compete with the stats of Oregon’s LaMichael James, the Duck’s dynamic running back. The 2nd runner up for the Heisman carried for an unimaginable 1786 yards, 21 touchdowns and had averaged over 150 yards a game.
EDGE: Oregon

Wide Receivers
When talking about both team’s offensive strengths, the position of wide receiver is rarely mentioned. Oregon’s Jeff Mahl was clearly Thomas’s number one target as he hauled in 943 yards for 12 touchdowns. There seems to be a parallel relationship between Thomas-Mahl and Auburn’s Newton and Darvin Adams, in which the junior caught for 909 yards and seven scores. Even so, it’s the broader picture that needs to be looked at: the depth of the receiving corps. It looks like that Mahl was the only true option for Thomas [the 2nd best receiver had only 36 grabs for 410 yards] while Newton was able to not only utilize Adams but senior Terrell Zachary (585 yards, 4 tds) and sophomore Emery Blake ( 472 yards, 7 tds).
EDGE: Auburn

Defensive Corps (Tackles/Ends/Linebackers)
No team in this BCS title game has a standout defense but there are some credible qualities about each defensive front. Junior defensive lineman (and soon-to-be 1st round pick) Nick Fairly anchors the Tigers defense with 10 1/2 sacks, 55 total tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Besides that, it hasn’t been pretty for Auburn on defense, allowing 24.5 points per game in which they were ranked 54th in the nation. On the flip side, Oregon’s 12th ranked defense (18.4 ppg allowed) is something worth watching. With the pass rush coming from senior end Kenny Rowe (91 tackles, 6 sacks, 6 forced fumbles) and linebacker Casey Matthews (72 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 ints), the Ducks will be sure to keep Cam Newton on his toes
EDGE: Oregon

Defensive Backs
It seems to be that Oregon again has the upper hand on Auburn, as the Ducks double the total amount of interceptions the Tigers have, 20 to 10. Sophomores John Boyett and Cliff Harris each account for half of Oregon’s interceptions total (five apiece) and will be a real threat to the Auburn passing game. On the other hand, senior linebacker Josh Bynes for Auburn has been known to slip back into the back field to provide coverage against receivers and his stats back that up: a team leading 71 tackles and 3 interceptions.
EDGE: Oregon

Coaching
This could be a potential toss up for this category. Former coordinator Gene Chizik really got his claim to fame from his years spent as the Texas Longhorns defensive co-coordinator when the Longhorns won the national championship against USC in 2006. With a short-tenured head coaching gig at Iowa State, Auburn hired Chizik, in which he led the Tigers to an Outback Bowl win in 2009 and now to an undefeated record in 2010. Chip Kelly began his career as a head coach in Oregon, as he led the Ducks to an upset victory over then #5 USC to win the Pac-10, sending them into the Rose Bowl only to lose to Ohio State. Kelly has also led the Ducks to an undefeated season.
EDGE: Toss Up

Final Conclusion: Oregon’s offense is too powerful and fast paced for any normal BCS team to handle, especially against a sub-par defense such as Auburn’s. However, it is superhuman quarterback Cam Newton, who has not been stopped against powerhouse SEC teams all year, to come up victorious in this year’s national championship game.

Final Score Prediction: Auburn 42 Oregon 35

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2011 NFL Mock Draft (Picks 1-10)

Posted: January 7, 2011 in NFL
Tags: ,

I know it’s a little early, but I believe with all the heat and chaos on which college football hot shot is or isn’t entering the upcoming NFL draft. But, with the first 10 picks a lock (position wise, that is), I figured I’d take a stab at the first 10 picks for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. Carolina Panthers – AJ Green, WR, Georgia
The Panthers made headlines earlier this week by announcing to the press that they would take prized Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with their 1st overall pick. However, with Luck making his announcement to stay at Stanford for another year (and another run at the Heisman), look to see the Panthers help out current QB Jimmy Clausen with an eccentric, talented wide out like Green to help out the poor, current receiving core. With aging and injury plagued Steve Smith not the same top receiver he was for the Panthers a few years ago, Green would be the first receiver since 1996 (Keyshawn Johnson) to be taken 1st overall.

2. Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State
The Broncos’ season has just been dismal. From a the firing of a failed 2nd year coach with just being absolutely horrific on defense, it’s clear where Denver needs to draft. Peterson would provide a nice fit with a potential scenario of current veteran corner Champ Bailey retiring or moving to safety alongside Brian Dawkins. With a hard-nose style of defense and great man coverage in the corner, I can see Peterson becoming an immediate impact player.

3. Buffalo Bills – Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn
A lot of draft analysts had Clemson defensive end (and recently declared) Da’Quan Bowers as the Bills pick here to help improve their pass rush. However, the Bills have had constant quarterback problems throughout the years (Kelly Holcomb, JP Losman, Trent Edwards) and while few believe the franchise can rest upon the shoulders of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills would be naive to not take Newton here. Plus, the city of Buffalo could use a little flair to it’s football team and that and more is exactly what Newton would bring.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – Nick Fairly, DT, Auburn
Back to back Auburn picks here but Cincinnati desperately needs an anchor in their 4-3 defense. Fairly is a versatile defensive tackle in which he can stop the run as well as provide a solid pass rush, killing two birds with one stone. The Bengals either take Fairly or Bowers at this spot.

5. Arizona Cardinals – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
One would think with the quarterback catastrophe the Cardinals faced this year they would end up drafting one, but the defensive players in this draft are too good to pass up on. Bowers is the best defensive end, if not, arguably, the best defensive player in this draft and plays like an tough end as well as linebacker, in which he’d be well suited in Arizona’s 3-4 defensive scheme.

6. Cleveland Browns – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Cleveland Browns have consistently struggled at defensive, especially against the pass. Amukamara is a shut down corner, and with Peterson already taken, it’s a no brainer for the Browns to take Prince here. Amukamara is a definitely worthy of a starting position and I believe he’d compliment Joe Haden quite nicely.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
It’s either Mallet or Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, but the 49ers cannot have another Alex Smith. That’s why I believe Mallet has the edge over Gabbert because of his experience and has proven himself by playing in the SEC, much tougher than the Big 12. If San Fransisco wants to move out of the bottom of the NFC, they need to take a quarterback here.

8. Tennessee Titans – Marcell Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama
After the Titans organization recently stated they do not intend to bring back former 1st round pick Vince Young at quarterback, it just doesn’t make sense for them to draft similar styled QB Cam Newton if he were to drop. However, the Titans have a void to fill after they lost DT Albert Haynesworth to free agency, Dareus would be a great fit here with his bulky physique and pass-rush edge.

9. Dallas Cowboys – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
There aren’t too many offensive lineman in this year’s draft, so the Cowboys need to capitalize early with their pick. All but one of the Cowboy’s offensive lineman are over 30 and with injuries to Marc Colombo and penalty problems with Leonard Davis, Solder is the safe pick here.

10. Washington Redskins – Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
The Redskins could either take a running back (Mark Ingram out of Alabama), or a wide receiver (Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State, if not, Alabama’s Julio Jones) with their pick here. But Paea is a great defensive player that leaves Washington no choice but to pick him up. Albert Haynesworth has shown that he is not a reliable defensive tackle so it would be a great step forward for the Redskins defense to have Paea up front.

And that’s it! I will be doing the remaining picks section by section as we near the draft and tread on through the playoffs.

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

After an eventful few weeks into the BCS college bowl season, it’s safe to say that there are a few things you could have picked up on the so called “rightful” system for college football. Whether you accept it or not, here is what we’ve learned:

1. Non-AQ teams are gaining their legitimacy…

The 2011 Rose Bowl played on Jan 1 showed America that a non-automatic qualifier such as Texas Christian University  (soon to be leaving for the Big East Conference) can roll with the big boys of the powerhouse conferences, such as Wisconsin of the Big Ten. The Andy Dalton-led Horned Frogs rolled past Wisconsin, who have been notorious all season for their relentless offensive attack, shutting down the Badgers 21-19. TCU was able to shut down Wisconsin’s John Clay, their #1 offensive threat, to overcome the adversity of facing an automatic qualifier, big shot school. This is the same TCU team that has gone undefeated the entire 2010 season and showed that even with questions in their strength of schedule and overall validity, proved that they were able to play at the same playing field as the automatic qualifiers.

You could argue the opposite as seen in the Utah-Boise State game, but any college football follower should have picked up on Utah’s flaws after their loss to Notre Dame. Yes, the Utes did beat a strong Alabama team in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, but have began to lose some of their power as the years have gone by. The 2010 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl did not help the non-aq argument, as Utah got spanked by the Broncos 26-3, but hey, at least Boise State proved they could still win after their fluke loss to Nevada back in November.

2. …as some conferences are losing their legitimacy…

It is not expected for a conference to win out, or even win majority, of their individual bowl games, but when a division such as the Big Ten goes basically defeated, then there is something wrong. Wisconsin lost to  TCU in the Rose Bowl 21-19, Texas Tech edged out Northwestern in the Ticketcity Bowl 45-38, Alabama spanked Michigan State in the Capitol One Bowl 49-7, Mississippi State embarrassed Michigan 52-14 in the Gator Bowl, and the Urban Meyer-led-Florida Gators handed a 37-24 loss to Joe Pa and the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl. The Big Ten’s only possible saving grace was Iowa’s closed marginal victory over Missouri in the Insight Bowl. Oh how Gordon Gee must be loving his beloved conference’s success. So much for the Legends and Leaders…

Don’t even get me started on the Big East. Anyone that has common sense could have seen that the  #7 ranked Oklahoma Sooners were going to bash the University of Connecticut Huskies in the 2011 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Despite talks of the Huskies being the next 2007 Boise State Broncos, they got pummeled 48-20. This is a prime example on why automatic qualifying conferences, such as a weak Big East Conference, should not receive automatic bids based on conference.

3. …hence why a playoff system should be instilled.

To give every conference, automatic or non-automatic, a chance to taste the glory of the national championship, a 16-team-bracket should be created, a died down version of it’s sister, college basketball. The 16 teams would be the top 16 teams in the final BCS standings, with 1st seeds getting to play the 16th, 2nd plays 15th, etc. The money from the sponsors of the current individual bowls can be either pooled together to create a giant pot or each could sponsor an individual game leading up the national title game. This would not only create more excitement and generate more viewership for television stations, like NCAA March Madness, but would allow teams to have an equal opportunity to take home the title trophy (as well as a bit of cash) that automatic qualifiers constantly have a firm grasp of.

I know we await the remaining BCS bowl games, such as the much-anticipated national championship game, and that a playoff system ever occurring will take years to accomplish, I hope you finally notice what the BCS stands for: Biased Conference Series.