Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Triple Option Volume 9

Hello Bowl Season!!!!!  One of my favorite times of the year, and I will even go through with a special "Bowl Prediction Series" at the end.  However, it's time for the Triple Option, now on Volume no. 9.

The Give
You HAVE GOT to feel for Marcus Lattimore.  I mean, what terrible luck for such a good-hearted guy.  Two, yes, count them, two major, season-ending knee injuries in less than a year, and we only wonder why this guy has decided to head for the NFL.  The thing that bothers me is that there are people out there even questioning this decision.  Look, if you are one of those boneheads, let me explain it to you.  Most NFL backs, IF they are lucky, get 10 seasons.  I doubt Lattimore will last that long with what he's been through.  I know Willis McGahee has had some success in the league after his knee injury, but let's be honest, he does seem to have slowed a step from the back he was at the "U".  All backs go through this, even the great ones such as Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith.  The pounding these guys take is just too much, and they simply do not last.  Another year in college, would do nothing to help the stock of Lattimore.  I mean, if he comes back, it will take him into next season to become 100 percent (assuming he comes back).  With that being said, the doubters will already be coming out of the woodwork.  So why not go to the NFL?  I see no reason, however I think the hard realization is that nobody's going to draft him.  Now I'm not saying he won't get in, oh contrary.  Lattimore will not only get in, but I'm pretty sure he'll play again, yet, I think he will be undrafted.  That is an awful large sum of money to throw around on a set of legs that has seen that much damage in just 2 short seasons.  I can't see myself as an NFL owner wanting to throw around that kind of cash for "damaged goods".  I do think Lattimore will be fine, and who knows, he could have one hell of a run in the NFL, but for right now, I sure do feel for that young man.  Good luck with your future Marcus, college football will certainly miss you.

The Keep
Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman, as Collin Klein and Manti Te'o stood by watching.  No doubt this was a historic moment as Manziel became the first, first year player to win the prestigious award.  My question is, where is the love for the defense?  Defensive players get such a bad wrap nowadays, it's almost shameful to even put them in the voting.  I know, I know, hush!  Sure, the Heisman is for the best college football player, but I really look at the way things are voted on with this, and it gives me flashes of analysts stating that Dan Marino was not an elite QB because he'd never won a Super Bowl.  To this I call bullshit on!  Manti Te'o is an outstanding defensive player, and he should have been in NY that night, but it seems as though the voting has always been a little lopsided.  I mean, Charles Woodson would have NEVER been on that podium in 1997 had it not been for the fact he was an electrifying punt returner.  However, both Klein and Te'o's stats waned late in the season, and Manziel did nothing but become electrifying when he defeated the mighty juggernaut Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  Funny, nobody remember the Florida Gators shutting down ol' Johnny Football on a warm September afternoon in College Station!

The Pitch
Ok, I'm going to go through my bowl selections, I got a 20 spot riding on this, so if you see any major flaws in my game, hit me up at footballislifeblog@yahoo.com.  Here goes:

  • New Mexico Bowl: Arizona by 7
  • Saint Petersburg Bowl:  UCF by 6
  • New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana Lafayette by 14
  • Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State by 4
  • Poinsettia Bowl: BYU by 3
  • Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State by 16
  • Little Cesar's Bowl: Western KY by 7
  • Meineke Car Care Bowl: Texas Tech. by 20
  • Military Bowl: San Jose State by 11
  • Music City Bowl: Vandy by 7
  • Independence Bowl: Louisiana Monroe by 6
  • Pinstripe Bowl: WVU by 19
  • Russell Athletic Bowl: Va Tech by 4
  • Potato Bowl: Utah State by 20
  • Holiday Bowl: UCLA by 2
  • Armed Forces Bowl: AFA by 2
  • Sun Bowl: USC by 4
  • Belk Bowl: Cincy by 10
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: TCU by 1
  • Chick-Fil'-A Bowl: LSU by 2
  • Outback Bowl: SC by 3
  • Capital One Bowl: UGA by 11
  • Gator Bowl: Miss. State by 1
  • Rose Bowl: Stanford by 5
  • Sugar Bowl: Florida by 17
  • Heart of Dallas Bowl: OSU by 14
  • GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas St by 5
  • Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M by 3
  • Liberty Bowl: ISU by 4
  • Alamo Bowl: Texas by 4
  • Fiesta Bowl: Oregon by 5
  • Orange Bowl: FSU by 16
  • Compass Bowl: Ole Miss by 6
  • Fight Hunger Bowl: Navy by 3
  • BCS National Championship Game: Alabama by 9

So how'd I do? 


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Triple Option Volume 8

Well, here we are at the end of the collegiate regular season, last 2/3's of the NFL season and the final run for most high schools.  Kind of a sad time of year, but I figured you guys could use another dose of the Triple Option segment, so here goes!

The Give
Well, I know everybody knows I'm very tough on my Alma mater, the University of Florida.  Yes, I'm also very tough on their head coach too, Will Muschamp, but rightfully so.  Do I think Coach Mushchamp's body of work deserves him to win the coach of the year, I don't think so.  Here's why.  My vote would have to go to Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin.  Coach Sumlin came into a program, that wasn't down, but was definitely lost.  They started off the season very similar, but with the help of "Johnny Football", the Aggies have moved into elite status within the college football landscape.  I must admit, I'm not 100% sold on their defense, but they have played well enough to beat several good football teams, including the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide.  So, what makes Coach Sumlin's group so much different than what they were the year before...you ready for this...THE NO HUDDLE, UP-TEMPO OFFENSE!  Holy shit, Duece are you serious????  Yes I am.  When you look at teams that utilize the "Oregon" tempo offense (also Louisiana Tech-Ala Brophy's favorite team and Tony Franklin), you see teams that just operate "differently".  These teams operate at high speed, but not just one speed, which is what really intrigues me.  From looking at film, it appears that most of these teams have the ability to "switch gears" so to say and almost wear defenses completely out.  It is quite a site to watch in my opinion, although to be quite honest, I do not like the direction that offenses are currently heading in college football.  You add in the dynamic QB play of Johnny Football and you really have a very dangerous offense. 

I know there are quite a bit of other behind the scenes things going on in College Station, by no means am I solely hanging my hat on an offensive scheme, but it does raise the question that does this offense give lesser competition an advantage.  I think the offenses that can operate at several speeds not only on the field, but at practice as well, seem to gain an inherent advantage.  The main reason, is reps.  Think of it this way, there are two teams, team A and team B.  Both teams run the spread and both run the zone read.  Team A is traditional, one speed, huddle or muddle huddle offense.  Team B is Texas A&M.  They practice at warp speed, with relentless efficiency and minimal stoppage to coach or correct mistakes.  So basically Team A is "traditional" and Team B, is the new fad of operating "fast".  Time is a football coach's worst enemy, whether it be during the game, during practice or even in the off-season.  We all have been there, it sometimes seems like we NEVER HAVE ENOUGH TIME.  You can't shorten or lengthen time, but you can manage it better.  As a college football coach, there are constraints on contact time with the players, so what is the coach to do?  Maximize what gets done in the time allotted for practice.  Most teams film practices, that's been done for years now, but even these teams stop the practices from time to time to correct mistakes, or adjust certain things, all of which eats up TIME.  So at he end of the week, Team B has gotten 2 to 3 times as many repetitions as Team A.  This can only equate into a HUGE advantage for Team B, even if Team B is of lesser quality.  When they do what they do, and are SUPER efficient at doing it, that makes Team A's job so much more difficult to defend or attack (if we were speaking defensively). 

Anyhow, these are just some of my rambling thoughts about the body of work that Coach Sumlin has done at Texas A&M.  I know there are loads of other things that go into this, but having so many reps at something also breeds confidence.  Think about if you had a very important task to do, and you had 5 reps to practice it, vs. 15 reps to practice it.  Not only would you be better prepared, you would be CONFIDENT.  Confidence has got to be one of the top factors in winning that there is.  If players are prepared and confident it really makes a HUGE difference.  I know a little bit about this, because for the first time in my coaching career, we completely sold out to going no huddle.  It dramatically changed our practices and games, and did give us a very competitive advantage, especially late in halves and games.  Now, all I would love to see is a Paul Johnson coached triple option squad operate at "Oregon speed".  Wouldn't that be something?!

No huddle Flexbone!!!!!!!  HOLY SHIT!!!!

The Keep
I recently wrote an article on a kickoff return scheme that I used this past season.   I have gotten a lot of flack on message boards and via email about how "It won't work".  Now, I know it will work, so you can just button your lip as far as I'm concerned.  What I'm talking about now, is something I wrote about being a major advantage of the scheme.  If you read the article, you will see the advantage I'm talking about is the safety factor.  My good buddy Coach Hoover, shared a tidbit of information with me after I presented the scheme to him last week.  He told me that the number of concussions should be greatly reduced by utilizing such a radical blocking scheme.  We all know, and we've all watched the landscape of college and pro football change over the past few years with the concussion issue.  As concussion research has gotten better, it has drastically changed the game many of us have come to know.  No more wedges or double wedges at these levels, kickoffs have been moved away, now closer to the end zone, so what is a coach to do?  I've heard concussion proponents say eliminate kickoffs, to which I shudder to think what one of the most exciting plays in all of football.  As coaches, it's our job to keep the sanctity of the game, and while you think this scheme may not work, it may be in our all-to-near future if the number of concussions in the game does not decrease.  How do we do it you ask?  We come up with schemes that have less of an impact on the players, despite the speed at which they run down the field.  This is our job, and it's what we need to be doing.  You can sit on the sidelines and bitch about "the pussification" of the game, or you can get your ass on board and do what you can do to help keep this game where it's at...in OUR hands.  I remind you, if the number of concussions does not decrease, especially at the lower levels, you will see a decrease in the game due to rules and regulations issued by a governing body that has little to no clue about actually putting schemes out on the football field.  So before you look at a scheme that "softens" the game, think about it, either play it that way, or not play it all.  I choose to suit up and play ball...

The Pitch
Ok, I bashed my defense some this season in an earlier post, and even went so far as to switch back to my 4-2-5 late in the season, only to be led back to the ol' 46 Nickel.  I've put too much time in this defense to just toss it despite not being an "odd" front guy (my head coach has asked whatever I do be via an odd front, so my hands are tied).  Anyhow, looks like my boss is coming back for next season, so I'm going to be an odd front again.  What amazes me, is that the 46 is almost "cultish" when it comes to looking for information.  You'd have a better shot at getting into the White House with turban on your head than finding stunt information for the 46 defense.  Anyhow, my plea is this.  If you have any information on this defense, or you run this defense, and you would like to trade some information, please hit me up at footballislifeblog@yahoo.com.  I'm willing to share and talk about what we do, so hit me up, maybe we can bounce some ideas off of each other as well.  You never know what might happen.

The high school football playoffs are coming to an end, if you are still in it, or you hauled home the gold, congrats to you and your staff, you've earned it!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Just thought I'd give a shout out to everybody for a Happy Thanksgiving.  Those that are still playing, count your lucky stars.  I've been coaching since 96' and only coached one Friday past Thanksgiving in my ENTIRE career (I know, I'm lame).  Enjoy the ride you are on, it doesn't come that way every year. 

I know posting has been slow on both sites, but I'm trying to finish up my book, and now that I'm at the end I'm thinking of making a wholesale change, so it's back to the drawing board for me!

Good luck in the playoffs dude!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Triple Option Volume 7

High school playoffs, Conference races and NFL football are all in full swing right now.  Several things on my mind to talk about in the world of football, so let's get to it in Volume Seven of the Triple Option segment here on The 12th Man!

The Give
I've got to say there have been some teams that have impressed me thus far in the college football season.  By impressing, I mean, I didn't think they were going to do much, and they have really turned things on. here lately.  Texas A&M is one of those teams.  What I think is funny is that both A&M and Missouri have similar styles of offense, and one has done well, while the other...eh...not so much.  Which of course goes back to Jimmie's and Joe's and not X's and O's.  Ol' Johnnie Football is a good looking QB too, and quite the competitor.  I am really intrigued at this week's matchup between Alabama and A&M.  Sure, I think Bama' takes them, but I don't believe it will be a runaway. 

Who's not impressed with Penn State either?  To lose those first two like they did and they go on to win six of their last seven, has been pretty impressive with what that football program and school have been through.  Now I know the quality of their opponents has not been the best, but look at Arkansas on the other hand.  They too had adversity, and in my opinion did not handle it as well as PSU.  I know Coaches By the Numbers did not have Coach O'Brien as a good hire, but he must be a decent motivator to have kept things together with all the pitfalls that he could have gotten caught up in with Jerry Sandusky scandal.  My hat's off to Coach O'Brien and his staff.

Louisiana Tech has also been a school that has been shocking to say the least.  I mean really, where the hell did they come from?  Brophy has written a bunch about their prolific offense and their on-the-fly defense, but to be honest I haven't paid them much attention.  I mean, it's Louisiana Tech?  Sure they lost to their toughest competition Texas A&M (see above), but it was a damn good game.  I think when this season is over, we will look back at what Sonny Dykes has done there and be amazed.  Speaking of which, Dykes is a hot candidate for coaching vacancies, wonder how that Kentucky job looks to him?

Speaking of Kentucky, there was an article out about Petrino being interested in the job, and now I've just mentioned Dykes.  However, if I were their agent, I would advise them to RUN, NOT WALK away from any job offers from the Wildcats.  Listen, I lived in Kentucky for four years, and it is an absolutely wonderful place to live, however, football is NOT king there.  Basketball and horse racing are the rage in the bluegrass state.  The facilities in Kentucky are no better than some major Georgia or Texas high school programs, so drawing players into Lexington takes a special "appeal".  Kentucky is also not known for producing many blue chip athletes either, and if it does, most are snagged by the Alabama's, Tennessee's and South Carolina's.  Now I'm not saying it wouldn't be fun to try to win there, hell Rich Brooks and Hal Mumme were very successful there.  I would think you'd have to ask yourself what your definition of success was going to be.  Hear me out.  I mean, if you go to UK and think you are going to build a national championship team, I think you will be looking for work by year three.  If you go in, and think that the SEC championship is a possibility, I think they should check you into a padded room.  Now, do I think Kentucky could rival Vandy as the SEC's version of the Naval Academy, your damn right.  I think your could build a competitive, scrappy team that knocks off a big dawg every year, and is always bowl eligible, however championships will NOT be in your vocabulary.  You have to take UK for what it's worth, and that is poor facilities, poor talent, and a fan base that waits for November instead of August to roll around.  I lived there for four years remember, and as a Gator fan, everytime Spurrier spanked their ass, I would hear "Wait til' basketball season" (in my deepest southern drawl).  I used to think, "really, that's your best come back."  However, that is how our UK fans think, and rightfully so, Kentucky basketball is not good, they are not great, they are LEGEND.  What I always wonder is, if football usually pays for so much in an athletic program, how then does UK's athletic program find the money for basketball, when they have so little love for football?  Interesting...

The Keep
High School playoffs are upon us, and if you have been fortunate enough to make it, then I want to give you some pieces of advice.  I know, I don't have any championship rings, and I've never won a state championship, however I've been to the playoffs a few times, and won some other championships, and this is what I'd share with those that are going into the post season.

  • Don't reinvent the wheel.  Do what you do, and do what got you where you are. 
  • Find ways to keep practice upbeat and interesting, this time of year is where you find out just how much your team really loves the game.
  • Don't be afraid to break away from the norm. when it comes to practice.  Find anyway to keep those young men motivated.
  • Don't look ahead.  Take the playoffs one week at a time, one series at a time and one down at a time.  Looking ahead is the ultimate pitfall this time of year.
  • Avoid complacency at all costs, especially if facing a team you beat earlier in the year.  I experienced this first hand this season, and losing to an opponent you already beat sucks, plain and simple.  We lost our league championship to a team we beat by two touchdowns previously.  We lost to them in the second game by four and lost by two in the tiebreaker game. 
  • Don't be afraid to polish up on fundamentals.  The highest I ever got as a coach was region champion, and the Wednesday before the regional championship game we were doing live tackling drills to start practice.  We lost our very good free safety in that drill to a broken collar bone.  It happens, but we went on to win the game that week because we out tackled our opponent and had 11 hats to the ball on every snap.  They had a backfield that is now playing on Saturdays in various places around the country and we held them to 189 yards rushing that day and two touchdowns (they averaged 303 rushing and were scoring 37.5 points per ball game that season).  When watching film, we had a total of 9 missed tackles to their 22.  In the weeks leading up to that game we had stopped live tackling in practice and saw our missed tackles more than double going into that championship game.  From now on, I live tackle at least once a week until the season is over.  Have I lost players, yes, but the reward far outweighs the risk.
  • Don't be afraid to let the kids enjoy themselves, but keep things in perspective.  This is a fine line you have to walk, and it's one that trips up a lot of coaches.  The first year I was a head coach and we made the playoffs I was so uptight you could have shoved a lump of coal up my ass and in two days you'd have had a diamond.  My emotions spilled over to the team and we lost 54-14 to a team we had only lost to 14-7 in week one.  The players were tense and afraid to make a mistake and instead of playing to win, they tried to play not to lose.  Lesson learned.  Now two years later, I went into the second round and we were more "loosey-goosey" with things, and got our butts beat by a team that was just 5-5 in the regular season (we had finished 8-2).  We had no business losing to that team, but were not focused and were down 28-3 at halftime.  We came back and made it a ball game, losing in overtime 34-31, but we shouldn't have let it get that far out of hand.  Keeping them too tight makes them not free to play and make plays, and keeping them too loose, makes the players lose focus on what they are trying to do.  I always kept the mood in huddles and meetings a bit loose, but when we did situational drills in practice it was on, I was in full-on dick mode.  That helped me a lot in the latter years.  This season was the first time in about eight years I felt I wasn't hard enough on my guys, and it cost us a league championship in the end. 
  • Savor the moment.  I remember being the DC on a staff that was playing in the state championship game, and I was walking down the track getting ready for pregame to start when a coaching buddy called me over to the fence.  He had recently been fired, but had two state titles under his belt in our division, and was a good friend of mine.  As we talked, I could tell he'd been following us, and since he'd had a team in the state championship game about five years earlier, I knew he could tell me what to expect.  As our conversation wore on he told me what he thought our opponent would do, how good their QB was etc., and then came the best piece of advice I think I've ever gotten.  He said, "Savor the moment coach".  To which I said, "What do you mean?".  He said, you need to savor the moment, because right now you are on top of the world, and you feel as this will be an every year thing, and I'm telling you it's not.  Now this is from a guy who had two state titles, had played for the state championship five times, and had numerous district and region championships.  I told the coach I would and as I walked down to our end zone, I couldn't wrap my head around what he was saying.  Well, a poor showing, and we got our butts handed to us pretty good, but we all felt good about going to the state championship game.  The following season we were 3-7 and didn't make the playoffs.  After going 3-7 again and falling to 2-8 the third year, the entire staff was let go, and the words my friend had said echoed in my head.  None of the coaches on that staff have EVER been back to a state championship game.  What my friend meant was, live in the moment, and enjoy this moment, as it may NEVER happen again.  I wished I had heeded his advice because that was a fun season I missed out on being so overwhelmed with getting to the mountain top.  Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees...

The Pitch
I saw this video Yahoo the other day, and thought it was pretty interesting.  I must say the lil' gal' can run.  I have never been a fan of girls playing football with boys.  However I do like the idea of women's leagues.  Now I'm not talking Lingerie Football, I'm talking real football, but for women.  I have always wondered how that would go, and have even looked into some of the women's leagues around the country.  I have never coached girls, and I'm sure it would be a challenge, and yet I think it would be fun at the same time.  I know the physicality would not be the same, and I wonder how the women would handle things emotionally, but I think coaching the ladies would be quite interesting.  I know, I'm probably out in left field here, and maybe I need to coach girl's basketball for a season to get it out of my system (my wife coaches girls and helps out with football as a manager/team mom and she would much rather have boys than girls).  Anyhow, a cool little video of a very talented young lady!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Triple Option Volume Six

I know it has been some time since Volume Five was released, but I've been a busy little bee coaching my team towards our first ever league championship in school history.  In fitting fashion we had a bump in the road losing the 2nd of our two game skit with who we were tied for first place in the league last Thursday night.  Today we will be playing one quarter of football to determine who wins the league championship outright.  Should be a pretty good game!  Anyhow, here's some of the random useless thoughts that have been tumbling through my brain over the past few weeks.

The Give
Can anyone have any worse luck than Marcus Lattimore?  I feel for the guy, I really do.  I even feel for Spurrier and Lattimore's Gamecock teammates.  This is two years in a row that Lattimore has succumbed to a season-ending knee injury.  I know both injuries were gruesome, but one has to wonder, is there something physically going on here, or is it really just that bad of luck?  If you are squeamish, don't watch the next two video clips, for fear of puking on your keyboard!  My hat's off to Lattimore, what a setback, but you know I have a feeling we'll see him put on that Gamecock uniform next season.  I would have to wonder what his future is going to look like though, as I thought it took him at least three or four games to get back into the swing of things this season.  Would anyone say the NFL is out?

The Keep
Well, my little defense has really struggled this season basing out of the 46.  We did good last season, and the top reason why was we faced only 1 team that used a TE and they only did that in certain situations.  This season, all of a sudden we see a TE on half of our snaps, and my poor seven technique SS can't handle it.  Now I love the Bear, but that seven technique is a bitch of a position to play.  I don't really have anybody that can do what's required of that position, so I went scrambling, and what I came up with is a pretty sound youth version of the 4-2-5 that helped us out in the last three games (which the opponent used a TE on every snap).  I will post more over at the Football Is Life blog once we are done with the season, but I have to say I think this will be a version of my 4-2 that many youth coaches can come to use as it's not just the traditional 4-2 you read about being run at the high school and college level.  This 4-2 has a bit of TCU, and a bit of Wide Tackle 6 involved in it.  What I love about the game of football is that necessity is the mother of all invention and it never fails as when my back is against the wall, I show my best creativity.  Well, I'm know going to take all my scratch pads and napkin drawings and going to put them into a playbook I can share with other youth coaches.  Hopefully it will help some guys out as I think it's a solid defense and really helped my guys play fast.  Stay tuned to the Football is Life Blog for more information.

The Pitch
If anyone watched the Florida-Georgia game this past weekend you saw EXACTLY what I've been preaching about Will Muschamp's Gators.  They are undisciplined and sloppy, and Muschamp is too quick to praise these guys, even when they don't play well.  I'm trying to like Muschamp, I really am, but when the guy sits on the Will Muschamp show on Sundays and says he's proud of his guys for playing hard, and doesn't point out that they were sloppy and undisciplined, I have to get a case of the red-ass.  At least Spurrier tells it like it is.  The reason the Gators will not be in Atlanta this season is due to being undisciplined.  Too many penalties and too many guys trying to be the hero instead of being the worker bee.  Jordan Reed's got to be pointed out here as making one of the stupidest plays in all of Florida football history when he tries to leap in from beyond the five yard line.  Really?  Florida had Georgia right where they wanted them, they could not stop the run and the Florida offense was moving the ball, and then a selfish act turns into the game ending play that sealed Florida's fate.  Now, the missed tackle on the touchdown before was also pretty pathetic too.  I mean, if this really is a high caliber team like everyone was thinking, then YOU DON'T MISS THOSE TACKLES IN BIG BALL GAMES!!!!!  Yet Muschamp is proud of the way his Gators played.  If he is TRULY proud, then we have the second coming of Ron Zook on our hands, no doubt.  If he's lying about it, just to sound good on T.V., then shame on Barack Muschamp for being a liar.  Either way Gator fans, don't anoint Muschamp just yet, he's got great talent, and an excellent coaching staff, but his leadership is in question, and the lack of it came pouring through the cracks last Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.

I believe my own bullshit!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Triple Option Volume 5

The Give
With Florida's win over LSU this past Saturday is it safe to say that the Gator's are back?  I think not.  I honestly think the LSU fighting Mad Hatters are overrated.  They did not look, nor have they looked like the 4th ranked team in the country all season.  Talent-wise I'm sure they rank up there with the elite, however the rankings are not based on talent and games are not won solely on talent either.  The thing that irks me about the Muschamp era Florida Gators is their lack of discipline, especially on defense.  The Gator's lost both the turnover battle and the penalty battle on Saturday and luckily their stout defensive play overcame those obstacles.  However, against a team on it's "A" game, that won't happen.  I'm not going to give Muschamp any credit until I see UF playing with fewer penalties than their opponents, because I think at the end of the day, when teams are evenly matched the most disciplined team wins.

"You have done good, my young Padawan...but you are not a Jedi yet!"

Man, how would you like to coach South Carolina's defense???  They looked like the Justice League playing out there last Saturday night.  My hats off to Steve Spurrier for what he has done at South Carolina.  I also have to say, it's nice, in this day and age of win now or go home attitude, that an administration has let their coach create a "body of work" in what Spurrier has been able to do at USC.  You have to hand it to the university, they have been patient and let Spurrier do his thing, and it has paid off.  I mean he actually went backwards in his third season going only 6-6 that year.  In some circles in the SEC, that's grounds for firing.  However USC stuck with the Head Ball Coach and look at the body of work he has done.  You have to be impressed, as he's not done it in typical Spurrier fashion.  What's quite interesting is the whole thing has been very un-Spurrieresque in terms of how it was done.  First, Spurrier came to USC and didn't really ruffle any feather (pardon the pun), like he did when he was at UF.  I think the NFL humbled the HBC some, and it really led to almost a new focus for him.  Now that he's on top, you hear the HBC at conferences pipe off every now and then, but you've got to admit it's not anything like it used to be when he was at Florida.  Anyhow, my hat's off to the man, he's done a great job, and has a dang good football team!

The Keep
Alabama's Nick Saban came out this past week with some unkind comments on the new fangled no-huddle offenses that are dominating the scene in college football.  There are as many pros as there are con's on Saban's argument about the no-huddle, so much it's almost like the Obama-Romney polls we see issued every week.  I have to say, I agree somewhat with what Saban has said.  I mean, let's be honest, no-huddle teams are not breaking the rules by any means, but a snap every 20 to 25 seconds, is borderline ridiculous.  If I wanted to see 70-62 football games, I'd watch arena football.  Last year's 9-6 victory by LSU over Saban was as good a show to me as any, but that's just me.  I still think Saban has a point and player safety does need to be considered when looking at just how fast an offense can and will snap the football. 

So what are defenses to do?  We talk all the time about constraints and how coaches, players, and schemes have overcome or adapted to these constraints.  How does the defense adapt, and is the no-huddle, up-tempo offense an unfair disadvantage to the defense?  In my opinion yes, and no.  First, there's no way to mimic the up-tempo in practice, especially if your offense is not no-huddle.  Ok, most will say "Then go no-huddle...duh!", but this is not necessarily and answer.  I also know some will say "The triple option is also hard to mimic in practice Duece, do you want to eliminate that as well?", to which I answer "no".  I think the veer can be much more easily simulated in practice than the up-tempo no huddle.  In one situation you are simply teaching or showing your team new plays, in imitating no-huddle you are showing new plays AND trying to emulate fast pace, something that CAN'T happen if you are showing a scout team new plays.  The no part of the answer comes in the old fashion of I know how to slow down the game, and that's to have a player fake an injury.  I can then run my training staff out there all the while I'm substituting fresh players for the gassed ones.  Now, I've altered the game, and in a way that I don't think fans would like to see.  I'm surprised you haven't seen more of this, with the "win-at-all-costs" mentality in today's game.  I know I would do it, because I'm the type of coach that's going to give my players every advantage I can get, and if you are playing fast, I'm going to do my best to play slow.  Is this within the rules, sure, they cannot prove that the young man isn't injured, no official is going to risk doing so.  However, it's not within the "spirit" of the game, and neither is the up-tempo no-huddle.  This is why if the up-tempo is going to stay, rules need to be written about the amount of time between snaps, or else you will see just what I'm talking about when it comes to defensive coordinators trying to slow down the pace of the game.

The Pitch
Dealing with tragedy on any level is tough.  Dealing with tragedy at the youth football level has been quite interesting.  I won't get into details, but my little squad has had a rough patch over the past week, and came through with flying colors over a very tough opponent.  Things won't get any easier for us, but there is a little bit of piece in seeing just how junior high aged kids deal with things.  I don't know whether it's denial, or just the lack of an attention span, but the players really came through last week after dealing with the loss of family member's and a teammate. 

I however, am still struggling to come to grips with this "whirlwind" of a season.  I should be proud and happy as we are undefeated and have won more games in this season than the previous three seasons combined.  Sometimes you simply sit there and wonder "why?".  Anyhow, here's some things I noticed over last week, and you can elaborate or take these with you for your use, if you ever need them (let's hope not).

  • It's ok to be "business as usual".  I think in some ways the players like this, however, I also think it's good in the beginning to give the players some time off.  We took one day off last week, and then went right back to work, however we didn't do anything overly taxing mentally. 
  • Open your door, and your ears.  If there are kids that are struggling with what's going on, don't just send them home hoping they will open up to mom and dad.  Kids are more apt to open up to their coaches than their parents and in this case you can be a great asset for your players if they know they can come to you for help.
  • Don't get caught up in the moment, or add the tragedy to speeches or any part of the upcoming game.  Simply do as you would normally do, again, following the "business as usual" mantra.
  • Let kids grieve if they need to, but don't expect it.  I was quite shocked when we didn't have anyone in tears after our win.  Now, the parents and folks in the stands were balling, but remember, these are kids, and their focus was on the here and now, which was WE WON!  Let them be kids...
I'm no psychiatrist, but after last week, that's the map I followed and we came out pretty good in the end.  We really shouldn't have been on the field, but the other team would not let us reschedule, so we had to play it.  They were clearly better than us, and we found a way to win.  I don't think God cares much about football, but I know he cares about us (humans) and I think maybe, just maybe, for one brief moment, he allowed that pointed football to bounce our way a few times.  Anyhow, I'd like to think that...


Monday, October 1, 2012

Triple Option Volume 4

Wow, has college football heated up once again or what???  Well, we are 4-0 and have the roughest part of our schedule ahead of us.  Illness and injuries are creeping in, so we will see just how deep we are in the next few weeks.  Thought I'd put some thoughts down on paper and share these with you, hope all is well!

The Give
This week could be one of the most pivotal in college football, especially in the SEC.  LSU travels to take on Florida, and I gotta say this one could be a barn burner, or a total flop.  We will see if UF is for real or not.  I think LSU wins this, but in some kind of crazy fashion.  I'm thinking a wild game with tons of turnovers coming down to a 16-10 final in overtime. 

Could this be the scene in Gainesville Saturday?

The other game that's very interesting in the SEC East is Georgia traveling to South Carolina.  I gotta go with Spurrier on this one.  I think Lattimore is peaking right now, and Georgia's vaunted defense is not playing up to their potential.  I think it's the Gamecock's by a one in a 35-34 victory!

Surprise team, to me, has been Notre Dame.  I knew they were going to be good, but not this good.  Now, I'm not Lou Holtz and picking them to win the BCS National Championship or anything, but I think we'll see them in a post-New Year's Day bowl game.  They are doing this even with doubts at the quarterback position.  I also have to say their defensive front has been unreal in these first few games.  We'll get to see if they have any quality depth as we come into the month of October, but to me, they have really impressed.

The most lackluster team I've seen has to Arkansas.  I'm not sure where you hang the blame there, even though Petrino wrecked things, I think you are seeing a lack of quality leadership from both the coaches and players.  I didn't think they would do as bad as they have this season, and man they are reeling.  So who do you think deserves the blame other than Petrino (the obvious choice)?  Send me an email at footballislifeblog@yahoo.com to discuss further.

What the hell?

The Keep
The 8-2-1 kickoff return scheme is here to stay!  Having studied this return setup from a local juggernaut that rarely has better talent than their opponent's, I installed it 2 weeks ago, and our return game has blossomed.  I won't go into grave detail on it here, but what sold me was I took a look at last year's film of our double wedge return system and took the total percentage of players who made a block and the percentage was a dismal 24%.  Looking at film of the local high school that runs this scheme I saw where they had an amazing 88% rate of making their blocks. After the past two games, we are at 70% of our blocks being made.  Now this is not anywhere close to where we need to be, but in the first two games we had a percentage of 22%.  Thank goodness we've only had to have our kick return unit on the field for a few plays this season!  I'm going to write more about this scheme once the season ends and I can get some quality film on the technique.  Stay tuned.

The Pitch
The last part in the Triple Option series is to remember you never know what life will deal you.  I NEVER envisioned coaching middle school ball, better yet, being a head coach ever again. Well, two weeks before the season, my boss, the head man, has a mild heart attack and low and behold, I'm next in line!  It has been a whirlwind of events over the past two months, and luckily the kids have taken to things being the way they are and are 4-0, which is as many games as they've won here in the past two seasons combined.  The moral of the story is like we preach to our players, be ready for anything.  Thank goodness my boss is doing much better and has even been to a few practices here lately.  I also like what he's doing as well, he's supposed to be cleared to return to work/practice for our last game, but has chosen not to, as he doesn't want to upset anything.  I think that is the ultimate stand in professionalism, even though it wouldn't matter to me, chemistry is everything when it comes to winning football games.  In the future, be prepared for anything, and those guys who think they'll never get their shot, hang in there, it may happen sooner rather than later!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Triple Option Volume 3

Well, here we go, been a while, figured I'd give you another dose of my famous Triple Option segment!  I know the posting has been few and far between, but remember, I've had to take over for a sick friend and I haven't been a head coach in sometime now.  I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment as this completely caught me unaware and unprepared.  Anyhow, I've got a few minutes, figured I'd share some things with you.

The Give
Did Peyton Manning ever look pedestrian in last Monday night's outing?!  Three picks in the first quarter!  My hat's off to Atlanta though for doing a great job of disguising coverages and playing with a TON of fire.  I thought they really got after it, and made Denver's life miserable.

Which leads me to my point, is Manning back?  Sure Jon Gruden, with his chopped up WTF haircut, must have said "Manning is not 100%" about 20 times last Monday night, but my question is, why is he starting then?  After the performance Manning put on, Tebow couldn't have been much worse.  I think Elway has hung his nuts out to dry here as if the Manning experiment does't work out, he's going to look exactly like the pretentious douche-bag he is. 

I can't say what I'd rather see, Manning fail, or Manning succeed.  I've always liked Manning, but can't stand Elway, as I think he's pretty much the definition of asshole.  Anyhow, if things don't get better soon, who's to blame, Elway or Manning?  How can you blame the coach, I mean, how much more coaching does a Peyton Manning really need?  I say if this thing gets ugly, look out, you know Elway will throw Fox under the bus!

The Keep
College football is in full swing!  My Florida Gators have been impressive early on, but some tough tests lie ahead.  I do tend to agree with most though, this is NOT the Gator team from a year ago.  This group is fairly physical and the fourth quarter is where they are shining  instead of flopping this season.

I told you we'd be tougher!

Notre Dame has also looked very impressive in the early goings here.  Coach Kelly's ability to stick with a program into its third year just proves you have to give some things a bit more time, when it comes to success.  Not sure three years would be allowed at Florida, USC, or Alabama, however in Notre Dame's case it was needed. 

Am I the only one who things Lane Kiffin is College Football's biggest asshole?  I mean really, this guy is quite the prick.  From what he did at Tennessee (which they've never fully recovered) to how he handles himself in the media is quite alarming.  I don't see what folks see in this guy either, to me, all he has is a famous last name.  USC's fall from grace did make me chuckle, as Stanford simply out muscled USC to quite the embarrassment of Kiffin.  Then Kiffin goes on record taking pot shots at his quarterback Matt Barkley.  Now that's what I call high class.  I think the Kiffin experiment if fixing to take a downward spiral and I can't wait to be there when it comes crashing to the ground.

Speaking of Tennessee, the Volunteer's signal caller look absolutely abysmal in last weeks 37-20 defeat to Florida.  Bray has everything but the mind of a good quarterback.  I don't know if he'll make it on Sundays, as he has the makings of the next Ryan Leaf!  All the talent, but does not have the mental capacity or intestinal fortitude to stand in the pocket and make plays when his team needs him the most.  So where does one draft a choke artist in the NFL draft?

This upcoming week should be a barn burner between Clemson and Florida State.  FSU is on FIRE, but to be honest they really haven't played anybody.  I want to see what they can do against a team like Clemson, which is no Alabama or LSU, but the Tigers are pretty dang athletic.  This should be a damn good football game.

The Pitch
I watched a local high school football game a couple of weeks ago and noticed that the team came out in what amounted to an 8-2-1 kickoff return scheme.  I had only seen such a look when teams would go with their hands team expecting the onside kick.  The other interesting thing about this scheme was that as the ball was being kicked, the KOR team shuffled back just like a DB or a basketball player would.  The blocks were not vicious, however they were exceptionally effective.  I filmed all but one KOR team with my Flip video and the stats were as follows:
  • The KOR team received the ball on average at their own 9 yard line.
  • The KOR team provided the offense with an average field position of it's own 42 yard line.
Now obviously one long return could warp these stats, but there weren't any long returns at all.  The longest return of the night went 40 yards.  What I was impressed with is the percentage of players who were making contact with their defender and staying with him, without having to execute a physically demanding block.  It was almost as if they were just in man to man coverage and only blocked when their defender attempted to cross face. 

I have some video, and I know the coaching staff quite well at this school, so I think I will have a nice post up here in a bit over at Football is Life.  Keep in tune there for more information on the 8-2-1 KOR scheme!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11/01...Where were you?

I was in between jobs and actually working for my dad at the time doing a job off a rural road when I got the news.  A local landowner stopped by our truck and asked if we'd heard that somebody flew a plane into the WTC.  While he was talking about that one, the second plane hit and reports came across his radio.  At that moment I knew that was no accident.  Within the hour rumors were coming in about bombings and buildings collapsing etc.  We packed up and went back to the office where we watched it on T.V.  What a horrific sight to see, and I can tell you this those images are forever burned into my mind. 

I was helping coach a youth league at the time, and I remember going to practice that day, only to find out it had been cancelled.  I remember going to practice the next day and having all those little ones asking questions about what had happened (they were 9-11 year olds).  That was pretty tough, trying to keep those little ones from worrying, and asking all these graphic questions.  It was quite amazing to what knowledge they DID have about the subject.  I remember almost feeling helpless in trying to explain the situation.

We played on Saturdays and the Thursday prior to our game, the league voted to cancel all games.  I remember being quite aggrevated, because in my mind, we had let those terrorists win.  They did EXACTLY what they wanted to do, and brought us to our knees.  I thought playing the game would help the kids, remember that no matter how bad it gets, life goes on.  I wasn't in charge, but many an ear burned from those exact same comments.

What I didn't realize, until last night, while watching a program entitled "9/11, The Hours Afterward", was that how united this country became after such a tragedy.  The statement on the show was that the attacks did something no government, or political leader had ever done in this country and that was to unite the people.  Lines at Red Cross facilities across the country overflowed with people looking to donate blood.  I remember seeing that, and being quite amazed at all the unity.

Anyhow, just a little blurb about where I was on that horrific day, I thought I'd share with you.  No doubt we have moved on, but the important thing is that we NEVER FORGET...


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Triple Option-Volume 2

The Give
Connor Shaw of South Carolina gave one of the gutsiest performances I've seen in a long time in college football.  As of yesterday the doctors at USC were saying he could barely even lift his throwing arm.  Sure it could have an impact on the season, but the young man gutted it out and helped his teammates secure a win against pesky Vanderbilt.  Now, if I'm the Head Ball Coach, I'm going to try to get my starting QB to understand he's not Tim Tebow and quit running around the field and make some plays with your arm instead of your legs.  Anyhow, you still have to admire what a gutsy performance that young man had last Thursday night.

The Keep
Here are the 5 reasons why Will Muschamp must go...
  1. Florida players lack fundamentals as evidenced in last weeks EMBARRASSING win against Bowling Green.  Florida players did not tackle well at all.  Bowling Green ran the GT counter, one of football's most basic plays, like DC Dan Quinn had never seen it before. The QB's throwing abilities are there, but the fundamental of setting the feet and delivering are not there.  All of this stuff is basic fundamentals that are not being taught.
  2. The fake punt is the 2nd in the past 2 seasons, and the failure of the STC to see the flaw in his scheme is undaunting.  Last season Brad Wing of LSU did the exact same thing we saw this past Saturday in The Swamp.  Florida uses a man protection scheme and do not leave a player back to spy the punter...that's bush league, and Muschamp's gotta go.
  3. The penalties!  This area is where Muschamp's teams and Ron Zook's teams look so utterly familiar.  How many times have we watched Gator teams make play after play only to have it negated by some stupid penalty.  Jordan Reed jumps offsides twice while lined up at split receiver, and the Gators has 3 false start penalties on split receivers.  This, Mr. Muschamp...is unacceptable. 
  4. The yelling.  Muschamp is not a motivator through building players up, he has to cut them down, and this clearly is not fitting in to well for the Gator players.  It's one thing to be Nick Saban and yell at a player, but if your Will Muschamp, you need to get the kids fighting for you before you verbally bash them on national television.  I'm all for chewing a little ass, but Muschamp takes it a bit too far, and for that Muschamp must go.
  5. I'm all for patience, but Muschamp has had an entire off season to get this team better and it appears that time has been wasted.  What we saw on Saturday was not nerves or pre-season jitters, it was a football team that lacked the fundamentals needed to play the game of football, as well as lacking any clear motivation.  I'm hoping they prove me wrong this Saturday against Texas A&M, however, I think the Aggies introduction to the SEC will be one folks will talk about, because I think the Aggies beat the Gators and beat them badly.  For this, Will Muschamp must go...

Some coaches are great coordinators, but not good when it comes to head coaching.  I think Jeremey Foley hired a great coordinator, and a terrible head coach.  For this, Will Muschamp must go...

The Pitch
Paul Johnson has got to be one of the best adjustment coaches in the business.  If you are playing his teams you must always feel uneasy, ESPECIALLY if things are going your way.  Reason is, the tables are fixing to be turned against you.  Last night was a clear example of this as on the first 2 series against Virginia Tech, the Rambling Wreck utilized their trips and base formations only.  In the 3rd series however they were able to come out in 3 man surface formation by stepping the slot up on the LOS forcing Virginia Tech to give them a 3 technique to run midline at.  When midline did not work, Johnson took to running toss, and the perimeter blocking by GT's slots and receivers was phenomenal.  Sure, GT lost the game, but you have to admit, they came in against an opponent that was higher ranked than themselves, played in a hostile environment and took the Hokies down to the wire. 

Triple Pass
An added tidbit here, is it just me, or does the triple option look very mediocre when teams have longer than a week to practice for it?  I was even thinking of doing some research, when the season is over, on this very topic.  If anyone has any tips about this stat, let me know by emailing me at footballislifeblog@yahoo.com


Monday, August 20, 2012

Breaking Down the AP Top 25...The 12th Man's Perspective

Well, the AP has released their Top 25 College Football Teams and well...I think we need to take a look at this and give them the 12th Man's Opinion about it!  I don't think they really care, but what the hell I'm bored on a Sunday night and can't sleep, so let's dig in.

University of Southern California
AP Pick: 1
12th Man: 3
I think this is a bit high.  First off, no way USC is more physical than either Alabama or LSU.  Yes, they have QB Matt Barkley, but who are their other proven weapons?  McNeal rushed for 1005 yards in the Pac 12...hell, I could do that!  See, PAC 12 teams don't play defense.  The PAC 12 is the NBA of college football, meaning defense is the time that the offense takes a break, so PAC 12 DC's simply coach their defense to "slow up" the opponent instead of stopping them.  This way those big hog-mollies can get some much needed rest for the next go-round.  Anyhow, USC is good, no doubt, but I think they lack the physicality to stand toe-to-toe with an SEC opponent.  I do think that USC will be around in December, possibly in the BCS National Championship game, however they do seem to always falter somewhere on their schedule.

Yes, I do believe my own bullshit...next question please.

AP Pick: 2
12th Man: 2
I think the AP got this one right.  Saban's primed for another run, but I'm afraid he doesn't have the best team in the country though.  He's got some excellent young talent, and will need it quick with all the starters they have to replace.  QB A.J. McCarron returns and the OL is probably the most talented in the country.  The back end of the offense and wide receivers are going to need some work though.  We also saw how weak the kicking game for Nick Saban was last season, not sure if they've shored that up or not, but remember, special teams ain't called special for nuthin'!  I honestly think somehow, someway Saban will be around at the end of it all, but won't be a back-to-back national champ.  I honestly think Michigan has a chance to upset them in the season opener and I don't think they'll beat LSU this time.

AP Pick: 3
12th Man: 1
Even with the departure of Tryann Mathieu, I think LSU is the best team in the country.  LSU has a physical slug fest brand, much the same as Alabama, yet they've got some mighty fine go to athletes as well.  The QB position will once again be source of some question as Mettenberger is untested, but all the word coming out of training camp is that he's way better than anything they had before.  Hell, they made it to the big dance with the Trent Dilfer of college QB's, so it's obvious Miles doesn't need a great QB to win.  Miles is always the "X-Factor" too, from chewing grass, to timely fake punts, he's a hard one to figure out, and who doesn't like a guy with the nickname the "Mad Hatter"?

Up Yours Saban!

AP Pick: 4
12th Man:4
I like Oklahoma here, but I don't think they can handle their schedule.  I like Bob Stoops, but his teams are notorious for finding ways to choke.  The schedule is brutal too, as the currently are scheduled to play five Top 25 teams this season.  Don't forget Notre Dame is on the list too, and I think they will be much improved this season.  I don't know, I think they are honestly the number four team in the country ON PAPER, but I don't think they last to the end here.  I see some upsets in their future, most notably against West Virginia and the following week against OSU.  I could easily see two losses there, and even though Kansas State is 22 in the country, they scrap with the best of them.  Tough schedule, but I do think Stoops has yet again another very good football team.

AP Pick: 5
12th Man: 7
No way a PAC 12 team is better than Georgia or FSU.  I know Oregon has a lot of talent coming back, however they lack the brute toughness to cross the Mississippi and expect to play the eastern brand of football.  Chip Kelly is an expert at having his teams be a thorn in opponent's sides and they did play better against LSU last season than I expected.  The schedule certainly is favorable with only two ranked teams that they have to face.  I don't see them getting by USC, but you never know though, Oregon has had some good upsets in years past.  Anyhow, I think with a late loss to USC, you won't see these guys in any BCS National Championship games, however they will probably be in a BCS bowl with only one loss because of such a favorable schedule.

AP Pick: 6
12th Man: 6
I would agree that Georgia is probably the sixth best team in the country.  I'd have Arkansas here if it weren't for the fact that the Hawgs just went through a coaching change (and a rough one at that).  However, UGA is not here at the end of the season.  Mark Richt's crew will unfortunately lose to Florida and South Carolina this season.  The rest of the schedule is very favorable, and with QB Aaron Murray coming back anything is possible.  The defense should be good, however I don't think this team lacks the quality character it takes to travel deep into BCS land.  I hate to see it because I really like Richt, but I think his seats about to get hotter.  Talent-wise, hands down this team is the sixth ranked team in the country though.

Damn, it's getting hot in here!

Florida State
AP Pick: 7
12th Man: 5
I think Jimbo's bunch in Tallahassee is going to turn heads this season.  The only stumbling block I see on their schedule is when they travel to Virginia Tech.  I see FSU rolling over Florida and VT after struggling vs. Clemson early.  I think the offenses success will lie with E.J. Manuel, who has played brilliant at times, but then fallen off the wagon on others.  I also think FSU's defense will be better this season, having gone through some growing pains a year ago.  I think they will lose in their bowl game coming up short, but look out 2014!  Those recruiting classes are fixing to pay off for Jimbo Fischer.

If this guy plays to his potential...LOOK OUT!

AP Pick: 8
12th Man: 9
Brady Hoke has breathed life into a somewhat dormat program, and the embers that were still lit have ignited.  I think things are changing in Ann-Arbor, but we are about two to three years off from seeing the full effect.  I think Michigan slaughters Ohio State this year, but falls to Alabama and either Nebraska or Michigan State (somehow, I think it will be Nebraska).  I like Hoke's style and with Robinson at QB, anything is possible.  Not too sure about the defense, and that September first game will show just where this teams ranks in the national scene. 

South Carolina
AP Pick: 9
12th Man: 8
Well, the 12th Man and the AP were close here, but I don't think Michigan is better than South Carolina.  Especially a Lattimore led South Carolina.  Especially a South Carolina without an idiot at QB.  I actually think USC wins the East, only to fall (badly) to LSU in the SEC Championship Game.  I just don't think USC has the firepower on offense, or the physical presence on defense that can be found in the SEC West.  I don't think they beat Arkansas in the West during the regular season, but will go into the SEC Championship game with two losses.  I don't think USC loses to an SEC East opponent this year.  When Lattimore is on, he's tough, and now with a good QB, playaction will be a bitch against these guys.  Yes, they don't have any proven WR's, but how proven do you have to be against good playaction?  The defense should be tough, maybe not Georgia or Florida tough, but good enough to keep their offense around.  Then there's the ol' Ball Coach.  You can never count him out, and just when you think he's down...BAM, he slaps the cards on the table...and then takes your money...

These two spell trouble in the SEC East

AP Pick: 10
12th Man: 10
On paper, without the coaching change, this team is EASILY fifth.  However, Petrinogate WILL have an effect on this team, and they will come apart at the seams.  The sad thing is, I could see them upsetting Alabama, but they will ultimately fall to LSU at the end of the season.  I really think the only losses this team has at the end of the year will be Bama' and LSU though.  The loss to Alabama early on, will really set the tone for this team and coaching staff.  If they come back and beat Texas A&M and Auburn, then you are looking at 10-2 on the regular season and on the outside looking in as far as the SEC is concerned.  However, falter in one those weeks, and this thing gets ugly and fast.  South Carolina and Mississippi State loom in the distance and will not be "easy" opponents.  I think 10-2 is a reasonable expectation for this team, but they really lack the overall defensive athleticism and physicality to stand up to LSU or Alabama.

West Virginia
AP Pick: 11
12th Man: 13
WVU's startling and convincing win over ACC opponent Clemson in last year's Orange Bowl was quite impressive.  I think are going to have some growing pains this season as they enter the Big 12 Conference.  The schedule is brutal, and the Big 12 has seen the Air Raid before.  Sure, Holgo is good and has his team primed and I can easily see WVU upsetting several folks in the Big 12, but will they be around after New Year's day...I doubt it.

AP Pick: 12
12th Man: 11
Wisconsin always seems to find a way to win, and despite being down this year, somewhat, I think the Badgers are still going to make some noise.  The schedule is VERY favorable as they have two of their three ranked opponents at home.  How big the loss of Russell Wilson is yet to be seen, but with running backs like Montee Ball and James White the ground game should be outstanding.  I know, Wisconsin doesn't have much at the WR position as far as playmaker...but when do they ever?  I could see them sneaking out of the regular season at say 10-2, but that's a hard call when your signal caller is a newcomer.

Michigan State
AP Pick: 13
12th Man: 12
I was very impressed by MSU a year ago, and I think this team is here to stay.  The schedule, however, will be brutal.  I don't foresee them going very far with potential losses to Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska along the way.  I also could see them stumbling out the gate against Boise State too, although Boise State should be somewhat down this year due to attrition via graduation.  Also, losing the QB position from a year ago, does not bode well with having to go to Michigan and Wisconsin back to back.  I think this team has talent, but whether or not Coach Dantonio can bring it all together is yet to be seen.

AP Pick 14
12th Man: 15
Clemson has the offensive firepower to hang with anybody in the country.  However, their lack of consistency in all three phases of the game have me a little skeptical.  I do see them potential stealing the ACC, but getting embarrassed on the national stage once again as they did by giving up 70 points to WVU a year ago.  Their defense is very suspect as is any defense in the ACC (except for FSU and VT).  If the defense can keep it close, the offense will blow the doors off people.  Clemson's receiving corps is second to none in the country.

There won't be a Sophomore slump for this young man!

AP Pick: 15
12th Man: 14
Mack Brown has been off center stage for too long and his emergence will begin this season.  I think, at least from what Coach Brown is saying, the coaching staff and players are gelling just fine now.  Coach Brown has had a lot of turnover in the last few seasons, both coaching and players, so I think their time is due.  McCoy will be better this season, and Brown looks to anchor the backfield on offense.  The Longhorns have a rough stretch in September though playing OSU, WVU and Oklahoma in a three week span.  The good news, the Horns' get two of those three at home.  However, I can easily see them coming out of that stretch 1-2 (I'm thinking they beat WVU).  The end of the season has them pitted against TCU and Kansas State, and I'm afraid they fall in one of those weeks too (I say TCU's got them).  I can easily see 9-3 for this football team, yet that's an improvement from a year ago, and look out come 2013!

Not this season, but this pic will be coming to a newspaper near you soon!

Virginia Tech
AP Pick: 16
12th Man: 16
I think Beamer ball is on the decline, unfortunately.  Beamer's teams, for whatever reason have imploded late in the season and I think the implosion will occur much sooner this season.  Logan Thomas will return to lead an offense with no clear cut favorite in the backfield.  I will say this, the Hokies defense and special teams, two facets of the game Beamer has made synonymous with winning, are lacking.  The talent is there, the question remains about depth, and consistency and the latter has been sorely lacking at Tech here lately.

AP Pick: 17
12th Man: 17
I'd pick these guys higher, but just like VT, the Huskers can't seem to put it all together when it matters the most.  The return to option football was a breath of fresh air across the Midwestern cornfields, however the defense is going to really need to step things up if the Huskers are to move up my list.  The schedule ain't so easy either with road games at Ohio State and MSU, plus having to go West to UCLA early on won't be easy.  I do think, if the consistency is there on both sides of the ball, this team could turn some heads, however, I'm not going to bet the farm on it.

It doesn't take an asshole to win...but it does help...

Ohio State
AP Pick: 18
12th Man: 23
Big shocker here!  Yes, I can't stand Ohio State, but the Buckeyes are truly overrated this season.  The biggest reason they are picked 18th is because of Urban Meyer.  Yes, they do have some talent, but that defense is not ready to stand toe-to-toe on a national stage yet.  I see them losing to all their ranked opponents this season and coming away with a regular season of 8-4.  The Buckeyes will win their bowl game, and move into the off season at 9-4 and will soar after that.  I just don't think this is their year, and I'm going to enjoy watching EVERY moment of it.

Oklahoma State
AP Pick: 19
12th Man: 22
There's just too much turnover in OSU with the loss off Weeden and Blackmon.  The defense was atrocious last year and without their big name superstars, this team may slide off the map altogether.  I see this team at 8-4 at best, potentially going 7-5 AND losing their bowl game to go 7-6.  I wasn't a fan of their style of play last year and I think it's going to catch up with the Cowboys this season.

AP Pick: 20
12th Man: 18
TCU will be better this season, I guarantee that, and I honestly believe the Frogs are going to turn some heads this season.  The last five weeks will be grueling for this team, but the first seven are basically tune-ups for that stretch.  I see TCU coming out of that five week run at 3-2 with victories over KSU, WVU, and OSU, only to lose to both Oklahoma and Texas.  I think that stretch will wear down TCU and they will lose those last two games.  The defense will need to much improved from a year ago, but their offense should easily be Big 12 caliber, and should be hard on opponents.  Gary Patterson is a great motivator and if they come out that five week stretch better than 3-2, look out BCS!  However, realistically 3-2 is a high bar to achieve there and I'm being nice, 1-4 is certainly possible.

Hello Big 12...

AP Pick: 21
12th Man: 21
The loss of Andrew Luck will be felt in Palo Alto, sorry Stanford fans.  However, I don't think this team will be all that bad this season.  The worse thing is they get USC way to early, and will fall there, as well as to Oregon.  The game to watch is against Washington State.  I think the ol' Pirate will get him a win here dropping Stanford to 8-4 on the regular season.  I say 8-4 because I really think Notre Dame upsets this team in South Bend this year. 

Kansas State
AP Pick: 22
12th Man: 20
I know, seems a bit odd to see KSU above Stanford doesn't it?  Well, I do think they are better than the AP has them listed and I tell you why.  Coach Snyder finds ways to win, and he will do it once again this season.  I think they beat Miami early on, only to falter against Oklahoma.  WVU will be a crap shoot, and I think KSU will have them.  I do think they will beat OSU, but Texas and TCU should handle the Wildcats.  I also can see this team dropping one to a Baylor or Texas Tech along the way as well.  However an 8-4 season is not far off for this bunch, but I'm not going to go posting any money on that either...

AP Pick: 23
12th Man: 19
Florida, in Will Muschamp's second year will be better than 7-6.  I see this team coming out the gates hot winning their first four games quite easily.  I don't think they stand a chance against LSU and will falter.  I see them struggling with Vandy, then moving on to beat Georgia in a big upset win, only to be deflated the next week with a blowout loss to South Carolina.  The end of the season will be a darn good game, but the Gators will come up short once again to a very good FSU team to finish 9-3.  7-5 is not far off either, I'm assuming they beat either UGA or USC, if neither of those happen, things go bad quick.  If they come out of the first four games at 2-2, you could see this team at 6-6 quite easily.  However, I just don't think that's going to happen.  The defense is just too good, and the offense will be better than a year ago.

Year of the Gator?  Not by my Chinese Calendar!

Boise State
AP Pick: 24
12th Man: NR
Too much turnover here, losing both the starting QB and RB from last season's team.  The loss of OC Brent Pease to Florida will be too much for the Broncos to bear.  The schedule is much more favorable with Michigan State being the only ranked opponent they have thus far, however I don't see them going 11-1.  Boise is down and I could see them losing at least one more to finish 10-2, but with a very weak schedule, I don't see BCS gold in their future in my crystal ball.

AP Pick: 25
12th Man: 25
Charlie Strong has shown early on what he's made of in the coaching ranks.  I see UK shocking him though in the first week, and perhaps losing to either Cincinnati, or South Florida later in the year this teams is a shoe-in for 10-2.  I don't see 10-2 for them, but the potential is there.  A more realistic look would be to say 9-3 or even 8-4.  You can't take Cincinnati, South Florida, Pitt or Southern Miss lightly.  I don't think they get by UNC either, even though UNC will be hurting from sanctions, they ain't hurting that bad.

Notre Dame
AP Pick: NR
12th Man: 24
I think Brian Kelly's Irishmen will be a dang good football team this season.  They have a bitch of a schedule though, but I see them winning all the non-ranked ones, and going 1-4 through the ranked portion of the schedule.  Yes, I even see them beating Miami (FL) too.  Navy will be tough, but they just have too much firepower for a young Navy squad.  I think they pick off Stanford or Michigan State, but not both.  I can easily see 8-4 in their future, with the possibility of 9-3, but I highly doubt it. 

Ok, so at the end of the year now everybody can throw rocks when I'm way the hell off with my predictions here.  Anyhow, I did just to look cool like all those other fancy blogs, so piss off!