Five to watch

The majority of the College Football season begins this week, and as always there’s are some unreal talents in and around the country. Just for the heck of it, I wanted to give you five guys that are must watch to start the first few weeks of the College Football season.

Disclaimer: There are way more than five guys that are uber talented. So just because my list doesn’t roll with your list, doesn’t mean that other players aren’t worthy (glad to get that out of the way).

 

Five To Watch (No certain order):

 

 

Deshaun Watson (Clemson QB)

(Source:Youtube/JustBombsProductions)

I’m not going to pretend that I can give you every nuance about prospect evaluation, etc, but outside of Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, he’s one of the best college/NFL QB prospect I’ve been able to watch live and/or on TV.

First QB to throw for 4,000, and run for another 1,000. 478 total yards in a losing effort in the National Championship game. If he were eligible for the draft this past cycle, he would have went first overall.

 

Lamar Jackson (Louisville)

(Source:Youtube/JustBombsProductions)

No disrespect to Stefan Lefors, Brian Brohm, Hunter Cantwell from Louisville, or Ryan Mallett, but this is the best QB Bobby Petrino has had as a a Head Coach. Jackson is pure electric, and as he finally held on to the starting job last year, he flourished in the read option game. Darkhorse Heisman winner. Wouldn’t be shocked. Leading Louisville to the College Football Playoff? Wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit.

 

Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)

(Source: Youtube/JustBombsProductions)

A complete and utter savage. 2,019 rushing yards. 3,864 all-purpose yards last season. If I had a Heisman vote last season, he would have been my winner. How in the heck he improves on those gaudy numbers this season, I have zero clue. But I’m excited to watch and find out.

 

Josh Rosen (UCLA)

(Source: Youtube/JustBombsProductions)

In this day and age of College Football, it’s hard as heck to be the starter at a Power five program as a TRUE freshman. Josh Rosen got the nod from Jim Mora, and Rosen showed why he was so coveted out of High School. His personality may rub some the wrong way, but throwing for over 3,000 yards and 20 plus touchdowns will  make any NFL franchise forget about that if he keeps up his progression. He’s really, really good.

Leonard Fournette (LSU)

(Source: Youtube/YoungMayo)

If anyone wants to say “Well he didn’t do anything when he played Alabama”, fine. Just don’t be the crazy person to say he isn’t great in the college game. 4 games of over 200 yards rushing. 3 games of at least 3 touchdowns. Only two games (Alabama, Arkansas) that he didn’t have at least 100 yards on the ground.

 

 

Next Ten:

Dalvin Cook (FSU)

Jonathan Allen (Alabama)

Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)

Adoree’ Jackson (USC)

Calvin Ridley (Alabama)

Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)

Jarrad Davis (Florida)

Malik Jefferson (Texas)

Derwin James (FSU)

Greg Ward Jr. (Houston)

 

 

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Saban best ever… with another coaching great

NATTY.JPG

We are all prisoners of the moment. Knee jerk reactions aren’t silly, It’s just human nature. A player, or team has an accomplishment, it’s easy to throw out the best ever comparisons.

Monday night after Alabama’s 45-40 win over Clemson, I walked out to the field inside University of Phoenix Stadium (partly to stay awake) to think if Nick Saban is the greatest coach in College Football history. I think he’s the best coach in the college game right now (Urban Meyer, David Shaw the other two) and I think it goes without saying that Alabama is the best program in the game (Ohio St is number two).

But, is Nick Saban, THE greatest coach in the college game. He joins one coach atop the mountain (more on the other coach later). Here’s what’s made Saban’s accomplishments at Alabama all-time impressive:

 

1.Being able to adapt his game plan, and program

Alabama isn’t anywhere near the program they were when Saban came to Tuscaloosa. The game plan was even more of a run heavy, conservative, sound defense that wouldn’t make many mistakes. It worked the first few years in a big way (2009 National Title).

What’s made Saban great is being able to meticulously find every little detail before kickoff, and allowing his assistants to do the same. Case in point, the game changing onside kick Monday night.

You can go all the way back to Saban’s first National Title run  in 2009 and their win over Florida in the SEC Championship.

He can make adjustments, but he can also change as the college game changes. Would Saban have the success that he’s enjoying if he were staying true to his philosophy in 2008-09? Doubt it. He won games the last two season’s with Blake Sims and Jacob Coker, running a more up tempo attack.

 

2. Recruiting philosophy has changed

It’s one thing to stock pile elite recruiting  classes year after year in College Football. That means nothing if a coaching staff:

A) Can’t evaluate elite talent at the prep level that fit your needs schematically on offense or defense.

B) Can’t develop the talent you have once it arrives on campus.

How many programs have had top 10 classes, and can’t get 7 wins, much less a chance to win a conference or National title?

Now granted, EVERY college program will “miss” on talent over the years once on campus. That’s just the reality of  the game. Guys don’t pan out for one reason or another.

The biggest accomplishment for Saban is what he’s done to revamp his roster all while dealing with the “spread” or wide open scheme across the country and within the SEC. After the slow progression of a spread type scheme with Tim Tebow and Cam Newton at Florida and Auburn respectively to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, Nick Saban understood that he needed players on defense that were good enough to hold up in the trenches and in run support, all while being able to play in space.

The Dont’a Hightower’s, Rolando McClain’s, Trey Depriest’s of the world are a thing of the past. What Tide fans will see more of are body types like Rashaan Evans, Tim Williams, Reuben Foster, Shon-Dion Hamilton, Da’Shawn Hand, Mekhi Brown, or Adonis Thomas. Guys that can flat out run downhill, and able to make plays in open areas of the field when playing against spread attacks. Big fellas will always be needed (when dealing with more run heavy schemes),  along with rangy Safety’s in the secondary (one of, if not the most most important position on defense), it’s just that Saban understands he needs players for EVERY scheme he can or will face.

Like the other dual threat quarterbacks that Alabama has faced,  Deshaun Watson was magnificent Monday (478 yds, 4 passing TD’s). But even in the shootout, Some of those young Alabama defenders (Evans, Hand, Hamilton, Williams, Fitzpatrick) were called upon to help the veteran guys that needed a break going against such a tempo heavy scheme.

 

3. Being in the hunt every season an accomplishment in itself

Outside of Saban’s first season at Alabama (2007, a 6-6 record) he’s had the following records:

2008- 12-2

2009- 14-0*

2010- 10-3

2011-  12-1*

2012- 13-1*

2013- 11-2

2014- 12-2

2015- 14-1*

* National Championship season

 

Nick Saban has been in Tuscaloosa for nine seasons. Eight of those, Alabama has been in the hunt for a National Title, all while playing in the best conference in College Football. And if we all want to play the “if” game, “if” a handful of plays went Alabama’s way during these eight seasons, Saban  could have 5-7 National Titles total in nine seasons.

To be able to adapt his coaching philosophy, adjust his personnel, and have personnel on the field  to execute his coaching philosophy over the years, is what makes this run for Saban all time great.

Coaching record at Alabama:

100-18 overall

50-12 in SEC Play

4 National Championships

 

It makes him at this moment ONE of the two greatest coaches in College Football history. The other:

 

 

(Source: cnn.com, Getty images)

Florida State had zero. ZERO history. In comes Bobby Bowden in 1976. He had a losing season in his first season. He never had another in 34 years in Tallahassee.

From 1987 to 2000, Florida State won at least 10 games, and loss a combined 19  (along with one tie).

FSU finished in the top 5 from 1992-2000 (14 straight seasons).

Bowden “only” has two National Titles, but the reason I put him alongside Saban, is because he created a program that had no history, into one of the best programs in America, and a brand in College Football. Saban. Bowden. The very best in my opinion. There’s a coach in Columbus, Ohio that could make me revisit this a few years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Hitters

— Nothing wrong with the College Football rankings this week.. Yes, everyone ( including yours truly) needs something to talk about, and the Top 4 is OK in my book.  Clemson, Ohio State, and Alabama all control their own destiny. The only spot that’s up for grabs (if everything stays the same) is the four spot. Notre Dame, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Florida, are in the mix…. Any other team that wants in needs to hope for complete and utter chaos.

— North Carolina is not getting in. Every team in the top 10 needs to lose. A great season, especially if they cap it off with a win over Clemson., and their  defenisve coordinator has done a hell of a job this season. But you can’t lose to South Carolina early, when you have a number of other one loss or undefeated teams ahead of you.

–If Oklahoma State wins out, I have no problem with them jumping into the fourth spot. Undefeated and beating the likes of TCU, Baylor (Saturday) and Oklahoma in the season finale is a pretty good resume….

—BUT, if they don’t get in, the program can only look back at a pair of non conference games this season: Central Arkansas and Texas-San Antonio. The committee told everyone last season, go out and play people. That’s a program problem if teams decided to go against that and continue play cupcake state University.

—Your only hopes  Power Five leagues:

SEC- Florida, Alabama

Big Ten- Iowa, Ohio State

Big 12- Oklahoma State

ACC- Clemson

Notre Dame

Unless chaos happens, four of these teams will be in the Final Four. you can banter, get upset, whatever. It is what it is, and I believe the above teams are the best in the country.

Funday Thursday

—Anyone seen the dude happy about sweet potato pie? Hilarious. (some strong language)

—I don’t watch alot of movies, but checked out The Gift last week. Pretty good.

—I love reality TV. The DVR is full of shows. My better half told me there are Two new Real Housewives shows are coming to Bravo. I’ll be all over it.

—A fun show to watch over the years on E! was the Soup. Wednesday, it was announced that it’s saying goodbye after 22 years.

Derek and Hansel are back.

—So Ronda loss. Breaking news. It happens. As a boxing fan, styles make fights. Congrats to Holly Holm, who also was gracious in her win. UFC are the big winners in this once these two meet again.

— Excited about the Cotto/Canelo fight. Too close to call for me (along with rooting for both fighters)… If I had to make a pick today, I’ll go with the younger guy in this one in a action packed, fight of the year candidate bout.

I’ll be back with another post after Thanksgiving….so eat everything in sight and I’ll chat again in two weeks. Questions? Comments? find me on Twitter @CarlPratherWAFF or leave a message here

Enjoy the week, and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

CP’s Top 6

We have 12 undefeated teams in the FBS Top 25. I’ve not watched a single minute of Toledo, or Iowa… so there’s that.

I decided to do a top 6. Four teams will make the College Football Playoff, and two on the outside looking in. So without further ado… CP’s top 6:

1.Ohio State (8-0)

I can name teams that have more impressive wins, or even multiple wins in and across the top 25. Fact is none of these teams have won 21 straight and the reigning and defending National Champions. If they lose during the regular season, that’s another discussion. But right now, there’s no way you leave them out when they’ve beaten everyone on their schedule thus far. And the way JT Barrett played last week, it’s going to be tough beating them. Those last two games in November will tell us everything we need to know.

2. Alabama

They may have the best resume in the country. Wins over two top ten teams (at the time) on the road (Georgia, Texas A&M), with the only loss to a Ole Miss team that will play for the SEC Championship if they win out. They have been shaky at times, and were a final drive away from a lost last week at home against Tennessee.  Still after 8 games, I’ve gotta put Bama in my top six. November 7th will change things one way or another.

3. Clemson

Two quality wins (at the time) over  Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, puts the Tigers in my top four. A big game with Florida State looms (Nov 7th).

4. Baylor

Should LSU be here? You have a case if you believe so. I put Baylor here because of the way they have bludgeoned everyone they’ve played this year.  yes, it’s not been against the best opposition, but they way they are winning, I had to give some credit. I believe their biggest strength (offensively) is better than anyone else’s strength in the country. Of course the Bears were dealt a major blow with the loss of Seth Russell. We’ll  see if the Bears are for real with a three game stretch mid November (Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, TCU).  For right now, I put them in the final four

Outside looking in

5. LSU

Alabama and the Bayou Bengals are basically interchangeable right now. Bama got the nod for having one more top ten win than LSU. The Tigers win November 7th, they’re in, and Bama’s out. No more, no less.

6. TCU

How they’ve kept winning with athe rash of injuries on defense is impressive. If Lenord fournette wasn’t being Leonard Fournette, Trevone Boykin would be your Heisman front runner right now. Like the rest of the teams above and below them in the Top 10, a lot can change, as we head down the final stretch.

College Football Playoff Committee

Remember the first poll will be released Tuesday night. The criteria for their rankings are as follows:

  • Championships won
  • Strength of schedule
  • Head-to-head competition (if it occurred)
  • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)

Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Four for Thursday

After a two week break, The Clipboard is back with four thoughts heading into this week:

1. Jeremy Johnson or Sean White?

The preseason hype surrounding Auburn was as hot as this song still is right now. Fast forward to five games into the season, and the Tigers are hoping for a decent bowl game that’s warm, and a starting quarterback that can jolt the offense and gain momentum toward a potential bounce back year in ’16. Jeremy Johnson got benched, Sean White came in, and now what? It appears that Gus Malzahn’s making everyone wait till tonight to see who will start.

My two cents: I have no earthly idea who will be the starter, and I have no earthly idea what Auburn will do from here till season’s end. Fair or not, one thing’s for certain. If they look awful tonight on the road against Kentucky, Tigers fans may want something more than just a new quarterback.

2. Another shootout in College Station?

I picked Georgia to beat Alabama on October 3rd. Didn’t turn out so well. Any Alabama fan worth their hounds tooth had reservations about that game for one reason. Jake Coker. Nothing more, nothing less. Turns out Grayson Lambert was the weak link for the Bulldogs in the 38-10 drubbing.

Now it’s another game I’m picking against the Tide, and it’s at Texas A&M. The Tide defense has been outstanding, with some players even saying they have the best unit in the country. Doesn’t hurt that a Huntsville native is playing the best within the unit. I picked the other QB (Lambert) against Coker earlier this season, I’m picking the other QB (Kyle Allen) Saturday along with the 12th man to knock off the Tide. Feel free to vent your frustrations at me Saturday night if the Tide (for the 1 trillionth time) prove me wrong and win similar to last season’s victory.

3. Khaki’s. Ann Arbor’s new fashion trend.

I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan. I love Jim Harbaugh.  Much like many college football fans, it wasn’t “if” but “when” Michigan would return to relevancy. Guess we have our answer after 6 games:

5-1 (only loss to the 4th ranked team in the country).

Since that loss, the Wolverines have surrendered a grand total of 14 points.

The last three games. 31-0. 28-0. 38-0.

The biggest test is Saturday when Michigan State comes to Ann Arbor. The Spartans already short handed with a handful of key players MIA due to the injury bug.

If the Wolverines find a way to win Saturday, that hype train will keep pushing to that game on November 28th.

4. The HBC

As a tyke growing up in Kentucky, with a rooting interest  in a football team from South Bend, all while watching every Jefferson Pilot SEC televised game, I had ZERO clue who Steve Spurrier was coming to Florida from Duke of all places. Once he made his presence felt in Gainesville as a head coach (visor and all), It was a rude awakening for the rest of the league. I even remember watching college football as a teenager, and seeing a score pop up that I couldn’t ever believe I would ever see again.

Jack Jackson, Danny Wuerffel, Javon Kearse, Errict Rhett, Reidel Anthony, Jabar Gaffney, Jacquez Green, Ike Hillard, Kevin Carter, Ellis Johnson, Alex Taylor, Fred Taylor, Lito Sheppard, were some of my favorite Gators ever.

The South Carolina run was fun to watch as well (let’s forget the Redskins happened), and getting to see the HBC in person at a handful of SEC Media Days was fun also in my professional career.

Here’s to you Stephen Orr Spurrier. You’ve made this great game of college football better. I hope to see you on a sideline just one more time before you turn in your visor.

Enjoy the games this weekend everyone.

THOUGHTS ON HUMP DAY

In honor of Wednesday, AKA… Hump Day…

So What did college football fans learn from Last Weekends games?
OKLAHOMA SHOULD HAVE LOST TO UTEP ALONG WITH  K-STATE:

(Source:crimsonandcreammachine.com)

Yep, when I saw Bob Stoops and Company on that late Saturday night in week one against UTEP, I just knew this could be a shaky year. UTEP had plenty of chances to win that game, Landry Jones looked like he was making his 2nd career start and the defense looked lost without Brent Venables at the helm.  That all came true this past Saturday as the ageless one Bill Synder worked his magic in Norman coming away with the 24-19 win. Look, a top program will lose a game here or there, but that just doesn’t happen to a Stoops program at home. Landry Jones had issues, Blake Bell fumbled some TD’s away, Sooner land just doesn’t look right. And at 2-1, Can you totally believe that they will win games against Texas, West Virginia, or Notre Dame? Gonna be interesting. Oh, almost forgot, The Mask has to get some love:

ARE THE GOLDEN DOMERS BACK?

(Source:Toledoblade.com)

I have no clue if Notre Dame will even win another game this season. What I do know after 4 games is that this program is different. No not just one thing, but rather, from top to bottom. From Jack Swarbrick, to Brain Kelly, to his coaching staff, to his players on the field. It’s just different. Anyone that has watched their games thus far can see it. And any objective Notre Dame fan can see that this process has been going on the day Brain Kelly made his way to South Bend. Go check his resume. He’s won everywhere he’s been. Look at what he’s done in his third year and beyond at each of his coaching stops. He’s been smart enough to realize that in order for the Irish to one day compete at the BCS Title level they should be at, YOU MUST GET GREAT PLAY FROM BOTH LINES OF SCRIMMAGE. The Irish have recruited and secured a pretty solid defense (with some youngsters in the secondary) that will only get better as each game passes by. And once Devonte Neal gets some room on a punt return, he will be as electrfying as any player in the country  down the line. Once again, alot of work still to be done, which includes the maturation of Everett Golson (who will be a star), and the offense, but you have to like what you see from the Irish as a team after 4 games.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT LSU, NOT AUBURN:

(Source:espn.com)

Before this game even kicked off, many may have thought that the LSU/Auburn game would be a complete blowout. And Honestly I have no problems with that. Auburn had look putrid to that point, limping into their home opener 1-2, LSU had punched each team they had faced thus far in the mouth (albeit against inferior opponents). But to me from the get go, This was all about LSU. Zach Mettenberger is an upgrade at QB for the Tigers. Still, he has never started a road game in the SEC. You add a division game, on the road, that’s at night, at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a hell of a place to play, with a team that has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and Suprise! You have a tougher game then expected. Remember LSU had a chance to go up 7-0 before a fumble at the 1 in the 1st Quarter, resulted in a safety by the Tigers later in the game. Yes Auburn had their chances to come away with the upset, but like I had thought, Mettenberger needed to get his feet wet in a hostile environment, and did as he played his best late (which included that Spencer Ware completion late in the 4th). He will be better for it down the line.

THOSE NOLES LOOKED GOOD, BE AFRAID COLLEGE FOOTBALL WORLD:

(Source:sports.yahoo.com)

This entire season could turn upside down on it’s head by the time we reach November, but to me there are only about 8-9 teams that I can see winning a National Title. Florida State is one of them. I think any college football fan can see that after the big win over Clemson Saturday night. It’s like everything has finally come together for this team. They have a sudden explosive offense (EJ Manuel-482 yds of offense, 4 TD’s, Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr, Greg Dent, Rodney Smith) and we knew about that grown man of a defense. NOW… there should be no let downs whatsoever between now and a big game in Blacksburg against Va. Tech November 8th, and Florida to close the regular season. From what the country has seen thus far, The Noles are legit… and legit teams don’t lose games they should win in blowouts, PERIOD.

REALITY SHOW RUMBLINGS:

Anyone that follows this blog knows that I watch Reality TV, especially any and all of the Real Housewives shows on Bravo. the RHONY (Real Housewives of New York for those that aren’t down with the lingo) episode that aired Monday, was like a freestyle rap battle from start to finish. You Had Aviva going hard in the paint at Ramona at a restaurant… literally everything came out between the ladies, and I was all in. Yep 29 year old married man, all in on Monday night with this barrage of insults and comebacks between two ladies that I don’t know on Bravo. Good stuff… and I CANT WAIT for part one of the RHONJ (Figure those initials out on your own) reunion show this Sunday. Even with watching some reality shows Monday, You better believe I didn’t miss what the heck happen up in the Pacific Northwest:


No words. And the problem I have honestly besides the obvious of Green Bay getting jobbed out of a game, is that the NFL thinks that the common fan, much less anyone that covers or watches the NFL is ignorant to the fact that we can’t see blatant mistakes being made across the league since Week 1. I was one that thought for the most part the replacement refs were doing an OK job, but the last two weeks of the season, has just been sickening bad. Nothing else to really say. Just terrible that this is happening, and now we are seeing calls, horrendous calls influencing wins and losses that could ultimately cost a team a Wild Card or playoff berth. Man, man, man.

Will be back Friday for a CFB Week 5 preview!