Kevin’s Keen College Football Observations for Week 4

Kevin’s Keen College Football Observations for Week 4

Did WVU Pick the Wrong Man for the Job ?? – After West Virginia beat up on favored Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, the administration overreacted and hired Bill Stewart as their full time coach. In the wake of the Rich Rodriguez fiasco they gave Stewart the reins to the extremely successful Mountaineer program, even with a career 8-25 head coaching record at VMI. Then after WVU lost to East Carolina they decided to give him a contract extension. Now, after their second straight loss to Colorado last Thursday, it is evident that Stewart is now questioning himself.    Remember during the off-season when the word around the program is that QB Pat White was going to throw more so he wouldn’t take so many hits. The main reason for this was because the Mountaineers lost 2 games last season and both were when White left early because of injuries. Go back to Thursday night in Boulder and it is clear that Stewart has already thrown that plan out the window, and has gone back to the run again. Consider that in the last 2 weeks White has thrown only 32 passes for a paltry 115 yards, and has ran the ball 39 times. I didn’t get this hire when it was made, and it seems even worse now. Stewart is just not a good head coach and is in way over his head. West Virginia had 5 losses the last 3 years but already has collected 2 in the first 3 games. They did beat Villanova (an FCS team) but they were out gained in that game as well. This team was not motivated or prepared going into this season and squarely falls on the shoulders of the head coach. There’s no way he’ll still be there by the end of 2009.

Tressel Makes the Right Call by Going to the Freshman — Many people may have been surprised to see Jim Tressel replacing incumbent QB Todd Boeckman with true freshman Terrelle Pryor. However, this move is why Tressel is such a good head coach. Boeckman, even though he is an experienced senior, is not the right guy for this team. Forgot in all the hype of Ohio St. going to their second straight BCS Championship game last season was Boeckman’s mediocre play. He does not have a very strong or accurate arm and has always gotten rattled under pressure. After the Buckeyes got manhandled in Los Angeles Tressel knew he had to make a change to save the season. Pryor didn’t have a great game against Troy, even though he threw for 4 touchdowns, but he managed the game well, and gives the defense something else to worry about. Defenses cannot send the house anymore because Pryor has the athleticism to avoid the pressure. Boeckman was a Drew Bledsoe-like statute in the pocket and was easy to contain. Even though he is a true freshman Pryor gives Ohio St. the best chance to rebound and try to win the Big Ten. This may be as good as their season will get in 2008 because there’s no way voters could put them in the championship again……right???

Rutgers Needs to Check their QB — I’d say some of the luster is gone from Greg Schiano and that Rutgers program. After posting a 26-12 overall record the last 3 years, and going to three consecutive bowls, the Scarlet Knights have hit rock bottom after losing to Navy on Saturday. They are 0-3 and look like the Rutgers of old. To make matters worse QB Mike Teel punched one of his teammates on the field during the game. In Schiano’s press conference on Monday he said that this type of behavior will not be tolerated but no suspension was handed out. Not a good precedent to set there Greg. He should have definitely sent a message with Teel, suspending him for a game, especially since they face Morgan St. on Saturday. It’s been a terrible start for Rutgers and it really has a chance to snowball.

Broncos Could be BCS Interloper Again — How about those Boise St. Broncos? Even after cementing their place as the best non-BCS program over the last decade, no one still gave them a shot last week at Oregon. All they did was go into Eugene and dominate the Ducks leading 37-13 after 3 quarters. They had to hold on for the win, but no one saw this one coming. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s about time we scrap this BCS junk and get a playoff up and running. It’s clear that this divide between the “big time” programs and the “little guys” is the smallest it’s ever been. Non-BCS teams have collected 18 wins over BCS foes so far this year, and it shows no signs of slowing down. That being said Boise St.’s season will still come down to the season finale against Fresno St. to see if they reach the BCS again.

Bulldogs Have Some Work to Do — Mississippi St. surprised a lot of people around the country last year compiling 8 wins, including a Liberty Bowl victory over Central Florida. Well a lot of the good feeling around Sylvester Croom and the Bulldog program has quickly vanished. They have gotten off to a 1-3 start and have only beaten FCS SE Louisiana, and they still have most of their SEC slate to go. Last weekends beat down to Georgia Tech showed that this is going to be a long season for Croom and Mississippi St. With Vandy and Ole Miss looking like improved teams, the Bulldogs may have only a home date with Arkansas to look forward to win a conference game. With 15 starters back, including 9 on a defense that ranked 21st in the nation in total defense in ’07, much more was expected from this team. Hopefully the administration will not make a snap judgment and fire Croom, but on the flip side, it has been surprising to see how bad they have played.

Gophers Passer Deserves Some Attention — Another item that I’ve mentioned before and will bring up again is the development of Minnesota sophomore quarterback Adam Weber. After going 1-11 in 2007 I understand why he wasn’t talked about more going into the season, but how about now? The Golden Gophers are off to an impressive 4-0 start and the main reason has been Weber. So far in ’08 Weber has completed 71.8% of his passes for 967 yards, with 7 touchdowns against just one pick. He also has 2 rushing touchdowns and has been the spark for an offense that has averaged 36.3 points per game through the early part of the schedule. He led a 4th quarter comeback against Northern Illinois in the opener, and this looks to have been the turning point for him. Since then he has showed much more poise and confidence on the field, and on the sideline. He took his lumps last season but it looks like he will be a good pro prospect when his eligibility is over. He will struggle week by week in the Big Ten this season, but that will be the next step taken in 2009. Considering that it’s even amazing Minnesota has the chance to be a bowl team, and the reason is the redshirt sophomore.

Seminoles Wish They Could go Back to the Future — I can remember back in the ‘90’s (especially 1993) when it always appeared that the Florida St. football team would average more points per game than their basketball team. When Charlie Ward won the Heisman the Seminoles always seemed to rack up 50 and 60 point games at will. Their performance on Saturday night displays just how far this program has fallen. The offense has not been quite the same over the last 4 or 5 years, but the home loss to Wake Forest was the new low. The offense racked up a meager 220 total yards with 118 coming through the air. The quarterbacks completed only 12 out of 36 passes and they threw a combined 5 interceptions. The team had 7 turnovers overall and committed 12 penalties for 139 yards. Over the last 2 meetings versus Wake Forest in Doak Campbell the Seminoles have been outscored 42-3, have committed 21 penalties, and gave the ball away 11 times. If we went back a decade and I told you that in 10 years Wake Forest would do this to Florida St. on the road, and win three consecutive in the series overall, you would have had me see a shrink. Jim Grobe has done a wonderful job at Wake Forest but the seesaw balances both ways. The decline of the Florida St. program has been steady but now looks like it has hit a new low. They may be 2-1, but they are 0-1 and have only scored 3 points against FBS teams so far. Could this really be Bowden’s last season?

Side note: How could Florida St. get enough votes to enter the Top 25 last week after beating Tennessee-Chattanooga and Western Carolina? They beat up two FCS teams at home and they get into the rankings? It shows that some of these voters are still brainwashed to how things were a few years ago. They just look at the paper, see Florida St. at 2-0, and assume that since they are Florida St., and they have won their first two games, they must be back this year. Watch some more of the little guys and you will see that some of them are better than the traditional powerhouses. College football has changed fellas, don’t be any more late you are to realize it.

The Rebels are Runnin’ at UNLV — Another team that has had a very good and unexpected start is UNLV. Coach Mark Sanford was on the hot seat entering 2008 only winning six games in his first 3 years. After 4 games in 2008 the Runnin’ Rebels have already tallied three wins. That’s already a career high for Sanford. Who have they beaten you ask? Well they beat Arizona St. on the road and took down Iowa St. at home this past week. I know the Cyclones are struggling, but shouldn’t the last place team in the Big 12 beat the last place team from the Mountain West? Not this year. They are 2-0 against BCS schools, but only 1-1 against non-BCS schools. They beat Utah St. in their opener but got waxed at Utah 42-21 the week after. The Mountain West may be the fourth best league in the country this year (that’s right ahead of the Big Ten, the Big East, and the ACC) so even after this start a bowl bid may still be a long shot. All in all it seems as if Sanford will be back in ’09.

Vandy Back in the Rankings — Congratulations to coach Bobby Johnson and his Vanderbilt Commodores for getting ranked for the first time since 1982. They still have to win 2 more games to become bowl eligible but it appears like this could be the year they break their postseason drought. Looking at their upcoming schedule road games at Mississippi St. and Kentucky, and a home game versus Duke all appear to be winnable games. CB D.J. Moore is the real deal for Vandy in many different roles. So far this year Moore has lined up at corner, receiver, and has returned kicks. If they can pull an upset at home they will be the Mississippi St. of 2008, and pull a decent bowl bid.

Tough Loss for Emerging Ball State — My final point was really soured yesterday. I wanted to brag about Ball St. beating up on Indiana 42-20 in Bloomington on Saturday. After I crowned the Cardinals the best football team in Indiana I was planning on just going on about that for a few lines. That all changed when it was announced that WR Dante Love had spinal surgery and his career was over. Love was hit helmet to helmet in the second quarter of the Indiana game and had to undergo an emergency 5-hour surgery on his spine. However, it was also announced that Love was expected to fully recover from his injury and will live a normal life. I was really a big fan of Love as he reminded me a little bit of DeSean Jackson. He had 100 receptions in 2007 and was one pace to have an amazing 2008. It’s great news to hear that he will be ok, but it is also a shame that a very promising career was cut short in this fashion. Get well Dante and I still think Ball St. is the favorite in the MAC.  

 

Kevin Hornung is the College Football Editor for Taking It to the House and a chief scout for Great Blue North Draft Report

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