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)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did we learn in Week 1? Not a dang thing.

Source: saturdaydownsouth.com

You Think You Know…..

1. Hope everyone had a awesome Labor Day. I ate enough that would make any serious food eater proud… besides the guy below.

 

Back to ball talk. I know every college fan and general  football fans (besides those who love the NFL and had to wait a week) were excited to see competitive football on TV. We watch the games and every elite team that didn’t win by 3,542 points is in SERIOUS trouble. Lets all breathe. The same thing you knew before the start of the season, is exactly what you know heading into week 2. Besides Vanderbilt. No answers for ya there.

 

OMG! (people say that still?) Whats wrong with Bama? FSU!?!?!?!

Simple answer. nothing. So West Virginia was supposed to lose by 20 plus. All we found out is that Dana Holgerson is one hell of a play caller, and that the Mountaineers have talent on offense. Are they as talented as Bama? No, but Holgerson called a solid game, and put the ball into his play makers hands to, well, make plays.

That leads us to Alabama. This team is a work in progress. Everyone (including myself) just assumed that Jacob Coker had the job simply by transferring over in late spring and early summer. He doesn’t have a grasp of the offense the way like Nick Saban would like. Can that change? Sure, it’s very possible. Lets give Blake Sims some credit. Yeah, did he wing it everywhere on the turf  last week? No. Was he inconsistent, and had some “rattled” like moments? Yeah. But the guy is a fifth year senior who two years ago was playing running back, who made his first start for not just any program, but a program where the QB position is heavily scrutinized. Memo to Tide fans. BREATHE.  This team is a work in progress, that basically went through a successful workshop a week ago, and will now prepare for a take home test this week against the Owls of Florida Atlantic. We will know alot more after four quarters of play September 20th.

 

The Noles are OVERRATED!!!

That’s what I heard this week. Once again. Overreaction. Florida State literally showed up, and played just good enough to pull out the win. It felt like when going back and watching the replay of the game this week, that:

A) Mike Gundy can call plays, and call them very well.

B) The Cowboys talent level is good, the Noles talent level. Off. The. Charts.

C) Yes fans, It’s  true that teams that are super talented can literally show up, go through the motions and win against most teams. Maybe not against elite of the elite, but how many teams are that?

Give credit to Oklahoma State, but in my opinion  there wasn’t a time when I thought FSU would lose. Not one. There was some moments late where there could have been some issues, Oklahoma State trimmed the lead down to 3. Then the Noles Groza Award watchlist kicker put three up, followed by Jameis connecting with Rashad Greene, and that was that. Basically, Jimbo Fisher will have his guys attention after game one. Not that it will really matter. The Noles will be 5-0 before Notre Dame comes to town October 18th

 

Gurley, Hill the truth.

Kenny Hill didn’t surprise me. The only thing that surprised me was the 511 through the air. If you said 300, OK, but 511? Beast stuff. Thought the Aggies would win if the defense played average against South Carolina, and that unit did. If they keep playing average. They win 8-9 at least moving forward. Back to A&M’s first year starter, he wants to be called “Kenny Trill” moving forward. The nickname in reference to Houston rap great Bun B (you ARE allowed to nod your head to the beat if you are at work reading this, heck it’s Friday):

 

 

As for that Todd Gurley dude. No need to say a word. Just enjoy this animal below:

 

 

Quick Hits

–Remember Larry Coker. He won a National Title at Miami in 2001, and is now trying to do work at UTSA. They played Rich Rod and Arizona Thursday, and came away with a tough 26-23 loss inside the Alamodome. Didn’t see it, besides the highlights and the tough INT by the UTSA QB Tucker Carter. A win’s a win, and a quick look at Rich Rod’s Wildcats schedule could have the ‘Zona 4-0 heading to Autzen Stadium to face Oregon October 2nd (Cal could be tricky the week before).

 

–Texas A&M Commerce 98, East Texas Baptist 20. Thursday night in Division II. A&M commerce had 986 total yards of offense.

 

–There’s this:

 

 

–And this word you need to type in. Ickeyfy. Watch Everything on Youtube after the search.

 

 

–McDonald’s. 20 piece nuggets. $5. Your life depends on it.

 

–I watch a ton of absolutely awful TV. No denying it. The worse this week. Love and Hip Hop. Basically the WWE’s version of Survivor Series on VH1, with their reunion part II. And yes there’s another part upcoming. Don’t judge me.

–Gypsy sisters as well. Once again. Don’t. Judge.

 

— Imagine if Gael Monfils actually won ANYTHING. He would be a mega star.

 

I’m back next week… I’ll talk more crazy stuff, and College football, including thoughts on the notable games of week two

 

Till next week yall.

 

Hello College Football, nice to see ya again…

Source:usatoday.com

Hello. Yeah this blog known as Carl’s Clipboard was basically extinct for..EVER. Do you blame me? The last blog post I wrote had to do with some game in Auburn, Alabama in November..

The reactions across the country…. not bad either…

Still hard to believe that an winless Tigers team a year ago in the SEC went on to win the league and then played a hell of a game against the very best team in College Football all year (yep I said all year) in Florida State. That game in Pasadena not bad either…

Since that night… alot of things have changed in the College Football World… We have a new format to determine a National Champion (CFB Playoff), and a nice trophy (As you see above). From The Power Five Conferences nearing autonomy, to Ed O’ Bannon (among others) fighting for collegiate athletes in court, there’s been plenty to talk about from January to this very Wednesday.

But now we are on the eve of another College Football year, fans (like myself) everywhere wont have to have another weekend without this great game until January, where it all comes to an end at Jerry’s Playground in Arlington January 12, 2015.

For those  6-7 people that read this blog last year, you know that I will talk CFB, along with all things pop culture and anything else that comes to mind (As you will see with some of the titles of topics relating to songs and movies I love)

So with this being  the first of many blogs for the season… Let’s talk a little “ball” shall we?

 

 

THE YEAR OF JOE KANE

There are just a few dudes that can run it and throw it. I like em all. Mariota, Marshall,  Hundley,  Golson, Winston, Petty.. and so on. Since 2000, Only two players have won the award that weren’t quarterbacks (name the two players on Twitter for me if you know who they were… @CarlPratherWAFF)

Which means the guy that throws the pill will once again be college football’s most outstanding player. The trophy has only had one repeat winner in history, could Jameis make it two?

 

I’M NOT A STAR

At SEC Media Days in Hoover, a lot of new faces representing teams. Only Georgia’s Todd Gurley was the most known guy there for the casual fan. Gone are all the QB’s that fans of the league came to love, It’s now time for some new faces to make some new history. Could that start Thursday night with A&M’s Kenny Hill leading the way for the Aggies against South Carolina?

 

WHO COULD IT BE NOW ?

Under the Radar guys that could have some big years:

Myles Jack (LB/RB, UCLA)– Beast.  The CFB world knows about him, but he can be even better this season. All this guy did was win the Pac-12 freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of The Year. The Bruins cookin up something potentially special in Westwood.

Chuckie Keeton (QB, Utah State)– He played six games last year before getting injured, but is expected to pick back up where he left off in Aggies land. Tennessee (ahem) don’t sleep this weekend.

Matt Johnson (QB, Bowling Green)- If you get a chance to catch one of those mid week MAC games… go watch the Falcons and Johnson. He leads an attack that can put up points in a hurry.

Jonathan Williams (RB, Arkansas)– There will be a ton of other backs in the country that are elite, Williams may not even be the best  back on his team (Alex Collins). But the combination of toughness, size, and speed could help the Hogs get back to respectability this season… maybe.

 

WHO CAN BE THE ESU TIMBERWOVLES? (Sorry had to make another reference… Loved that movie)

Florida- It was a dumpster fire in Gainesville in 2013. It was bad. Georgia Southern at home bad. Will Muschamp had 25 guys… 25! that missed a combined total of 126 games, 13 guys lost for the season.. They had a guy lost for the year after falling off a scooter. It. Cant. Get. Much. Worse. Got a feeling it will be happy times again in the Swamp, with just maybe a trip to Atlanta in early December.

Georgia- Speaking of snake bit, Georgia had to deal with a rash of injuries as well. Only 3 starters returned in ’13, so youth wont be served as much heading into this season. I have NO clue about Hutson Mason at QB,but that Gurley dude along with some freshman (Nick Chubb, Sony Michel) can help matters. If Mason is steady, look out.

USC- You better get this team now. The sanctions are over, and the elite talent will be back, depth wise in a hurry. Steve Sarkisian knows the program, and understands what it takes to win at the level Trojans fans are accustomed to. Their first teamers are as good as anyone in the country, with a sure fire top 5-10 pick in the ’15 NFL Draft (Leonard Williams). Not saying they go to the CFB Playoff, but a big year in ’14 could pave the way for a ton of expectations in ’15.

 

PREDICTIONS…. WHY NOT?

I have no clue about who will make the 4 team playoff. But I love to ALWAYS make a prediction, no matter how far off (which is 100% of the time) I am.  And it goes a little something like this:

Florida State– If you think they are losing to anyone, you’re crazy. Well, I’ll give you a pass if you say they lose once.  This team was a year ahead of schedule by winning it all a year ago. Even if they didn’t win it last season, They more than likely would have been the preseason favorite anyway. They are loaded. Everywhere. Pick a spot where they have a weakness. There isn’t one. The only weakness potentially is complacency. That’s it. They even have the best kicker in college football returning. They may win all their games by at least 21. For real.

Auburn– Yea. I know their schedule is brutal. But IMO, they have the least amount of questions of any team in the entire SEC. Some of my media pals (along with fans) wonder about their defense. I actually think it will be worlds better with a second year in Ellis Johnson’s 4-2-5 scheme.  And the offense. I think will set records this season. Think the West Virginia days of Pat White, Steve Slaton, and company. Back to the schedule. Kansas St, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia, Auburn, yes, I know tough. I think the Tigers will be up to the challenge.  A loss along the way? Maybe. But it will still be good enough to head to the CFB Playoff.

Oregon– I HAVE to eventually get this team right!  Stanford has been the land mine for the last couple of seasons… I think they beat the Cardinal this year (I’ve said this for the past few years). The problem? Hosting Michigan State, and possible playing UCLA twice this season, with the latter (Pac 12 title game) for a ticket to the CFB Playoff. I think Marcus Mariota stays healthy all season, and the front seven will FINALLY hold up to get them to the Final Four.

Oklahoma– No team this preseason has gotten the “overrated” moniker more than the fighting Jim Rosses (Look him up). The Sugar Bowl win a year ago was great, which of course jump started the preseason hype two months after… But is Trevor Knight the answer? He was average throughout last season with Blake Bell, but caught fire against Alabama. The schedule sets up great, outside of the matchup with Texas (where they were smacked around a year ago). Baylor and Kansas State could be landmines, but I expect Boomer Sooner to survive.

AND THE WINNER IS…..

Florida State. Too much talent across the board, along with the best QB in college football, along with this guy…

Source:reddit.com

Will be  too much… the Noles go back to back.

If you like the picks, let me know on Twitter:@CarlPratherWAFF

OR

hit my Facebook fan page :CarlPratherWAFF

**Email me for my Clipboard mailbag that I will start next week. Ask anything. Food. Music. Sports. Pop Culture. Life. Whatever. I’ll pick a few and answer…cprather@waff.com**

 

Hope you were bored enough to read while pretending to work. Enjoy the season.

I Came, I Saw, I Iron Bowled. Thoughts from The best game in History

Source: Auburntigers.com

What The Hell Did I Watch?

I thought that this game would be a classic, I thought that Alabama would win the game. That didn’t happen. This did instead:

To be able to watch that first hand, and seeing Chris Davis run toward yours truly to win the game. Epic. It’s not only the best iron Bowl in history, It’s the greatest ending in the history of college football. Incredible. Just incredible.

So without further ado,  my take on the game that I was honored to be at:

Auburn ran the football when they wanted to early and often.

296 yards on the ground. Tre Mason, 164 yards. Nick Marshall 99 yards. Many believed Alabama would stop what many said prior to the game that was a basic read option. Prior to the game, Auburn players said that they believed they would have success on The Tide front seven. Did they ever. The Tigers literally ran it when they wanted to, and dominated the lines of scrimmage.

Nick Saban believed his offense could get 1 yard on 4th and 1.

You have the right to believe that Alabama should have attempted a field goal up 7 on 4th and 1 late in fourth quarter. They didn’t. Why? because he felt that his team., his Alabama team, with his offensive line, his running backs could get one yard and ice the game. Auburn stuffed it. Could Alabama kicked the field goal and ultimately ended the game? Sure. But Nick Saban believed that his team could get one yard. Auburn had other plans.

Ellis Johnson should get a TON of credit.

Is The Tigers 4-2-5 scheme ready from a personnel standpoint for first year coordinator Ellis Johnson moving forward?. No. But he has 9-10 guys on the defensive line that are as good as anyone in the SEC. Give credit to the likes of Gabe Wright, Nosa Eugae, Dee Ford, Eljah Daniel, Carl Lawson, etc for not sacking AJ McCarron, but getting him off his “spot” making his night very uncomfortable. Alabama could go deep, (was looking more from the Tide going vertical) but for one reason or another that didn’t happen.

Alabama didn’t control the lines of scrimmage.

Many thought that the Tide offensive and defensive lines had improved over the course of the season. They have. They just played a better Offensive and Defensive line on Saturday. The Tide were good enough to win no question (T.J. Yeldon  141 yards, 1 TD), but for four quarters, Auburn controlled the lines of scrimmage.

Amari Cooper is unstoppable

When Healthy, I’m taking #9 over any wide out in the country. He’s a beast. Elite speed, and an elite route runner. He couldn’t be covered all night, that 99 yarder tells you everything. 6 rec, 178 yards, 1 TD. Pretty darn good.

I have even more respect for AJ McCarron

36-3 as a starter. 3 National Championships. 90 plus percent winning percentage. McCarron has been special at Alabama, and over the years he has continued to gain more respect from me. Well done #10 on a great career.

Missed opportunities for Alabama

If Cade Foster makes a field goal or two, the game is over. End of story. But give credit to Auburn, and the Jordan-Hare Stadium electric crowd as well. They influenced a kicker that has been spot on all season.

The Final Play

Adam Griffith kicked that 57 yarder as good as anyone could have kicked it. With wind behind him. It looked good. What did Auburn do? put Chris Davis who three weeks earlier returned a punt against Tennessee in the back of the end zone just in case. Not only did he get a running start when the kick was short, but he got GREAT blocking by his teammates initially on the return,  with Gus Malzahn and his staff understanding that  Alabama had there field goal blockers or as they say “big guys” on the field. They took advantage, and the rest is history.

Quick Hitters:

—If Florida State and Ohio State win their conference title games, They play for the BCS National Title. End of Story. Never in the history of the BCS has  two remaining teams in power conferences NOT played for the National Championship, with everyone else having one loss. Yes Auburn’s resume is better than Florida State and Ohio State, but they do have one loss. If both the Noles and Buckeyes win, the SEC streak of title appearances will be over.

—Who in the world will win the Heisman?

—A special job well done to former Alabama A&M Head Coach Anthony Jones. The University fired Jones Sunday after just his  third losing season in 12 years. Jones won at A&M with sub par resources and graduated his players. It’s safe to say he won’t be out of a head coaching job anytime soon, wouldn’t be surprised if he lands another coaching gig right in the SWAC if he wants it. A good man, that deserves to be recognized for what he did on “The Hill” considering some terrible circumstances during his tenure.

A conference championship preview later this week…

And I leave you with something pretty cool and fun on the Iron Bowl….

Have a great week everyone!