Big Ten Network has been helping us pass the long offseason by airing their lists of the Top Ten quarterbacks of past decades. The most recent installment I saw was the 1990s. The 1980s and 2000s (2000-2009) have already aired (check the lists out here). To make the list a quarterback had to play at least two seasons in the decade.
As you can see Purdue quarterback Drew Brees topped the list of 1990s QBs. And, is there really any room for argument? Tom Brady may have been the third Michigan QB on this list, but things have turned out much differently in the NFL for that group.
Here's a fun fact from the show: Trent Green rushed for three scores against Auburn in the 1990 Peach Bowl. It's actually a record against Auburn, tied with Jack Mildren of Oklahoma from the 1972 Sugar Bowl. Auburn still won that game against Green and Indiana, 27-23.
Would you re-rank this list in some way based on their performance in college? Did any Big Ten quarterback from the 1990s get snubbed here?
Televised Spring football games are back! There are quite a few televised spring games on Saturday spread out over a few different places. Here is the list of teams and networks so you can track the games down.
Why yes, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill does have a football team. Not this kind of football either. You might remember the Tarheels from their losing appearance in the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl--a Field Goal Bonanza. On Saturday, more of the UNC faithful (more than 29k) than you might expect filed into Kenan Memorial Stadium to see the Spring Game.
To say Butch Davis' team is going to depend on punting and solid defense, is an understatement. Both halves of that statement were seen on the field this weekend. The game saw five (5) combined conventional punts with only one return for 8 yards. There were, however, several arm punts (see here for an example by a master of the arm punt). More on arm punting below.
The defense was the bright spot of the game as was expected by everyone. Both offenses managed 17 total points and only a FG in the second half (actually, only the White offense scored, the Blue offense will have to serve dinner on Monday). Luckily for UNC their offense won't have to play their defense again this season. Neither offense cracked 220 total yards nor came close to 100 yards rushing. The defense also picked up FIVE (5) INTs and EIGHT (8) sacks--not typos. The FG was picked up in the fourth quarter after the Blue offense had thrown a pick in the endzone to Mywan Jackson (his 2nd INT) on the previous possession. Another defensive standout was lineman Michael McAdoo (4 sacks, 1 INT). His INT was made in the backfield after starting QB TJ Yates was stripped from behind. After the first drive which culminated in the only passing TD of the day from nonstarter Bryn Renner, the defense clamped down. The second TD drive was on a short field after another INT. Big plays that weren't: Both Renner and Yates found a WR on busted coverages, but the drives with those two pass plays of 49 or more yards ended with a total of 3 points. Jackson broke up a Yates 4th down pass in the endzone on a drive that featured a 31 yard rush--the longest of the day.
The Tarheels' defense was statistically one of the nation's best last season and there is little reason to see that change in 2010. The offense was one of the nation's worst statistically in 2009 and there was NO reason to see that change this year. The offensive line failed to open holes for the running backs and did not give the QBs enough time to throw. Even when Yates had enough time to throw, he clutched the ball and held onto it until he was sacked 5 times. If you take away the 49 yard pass on a busted coverage, Yates was 14/25 for 73 yards, or a little more than 5 yards per completion (so UNC better hope secondaries fall asleep this year because Yates will be the starter). Like I said earlier, the Tarheels won't have to play their defense again so that's a plus.
However, to start the season, UNC will have to play an LSU defense which should be even better (except on third down, of course) in John Chavis' second year as Defensive Coordinator. You will recall that LSU didn't have a guy who looked like a starting QB after their Spring Game either, but at least the Tigers ran the ball well. The early advantage for the Chik-fil-A Kickoff in the Georgia Dome on September 4 has to go to LSU for this reason alone.
Here's the remaining schedule of Spring Games on TV (All Times Eastern)
Former Longhorn Earl Thomas lovin' his burnt urrange.
The Texas Longhorns spent part of their Sunday ('bout an 'our 'n' a half) playing their 2010 Orange-White Spring Game. Orange was offense and White was defense. The Longhorns were further broken down into the first team offense (Texas) and the everyone else offense (Fight)--trust me, Texas Fight makes sense to their fans. Then toward the end of the game, guys shifted to the Texas offense.
Unsurprisingly, the Texas offense won the day (34-3) as their were no defensive scores to complicate things (I swear I saw a hold in the end zone which was ignored for obvious reasons--the scoreboard doesn't hold places for three teams). Sure it was just practice, but the pass defense cannot call what happened on the field a good effort. I saw exactly one solid form tackle...on a Tight End...in the fourth quarter. Granted, there were some good hits and decent tackles made on occasion (isn't that about what we see on Saturdays during the season from every team anyway?). The secondary played a inept zone for the entire game and starting QB Garrett Gilbert accordingly shredded it (10/13 for 165 yards and 3 TDs). In the second quarter, Gilbert threw a simple 10 yard slant to WR Desean Hales that ended up going for 41 yards and a TD due to what can only be described as the utter lack of a Safety on the play. During the 3rd quarter, Tre' Newton snuck out of the backfield, got wide open, made an easy grab and went untouched into the end zone. In the 4th quarter, Sherrod Harris, who was a timid 4/7 for 24 yards on the Fight squad, switched to the Texas offense. A swing pass, many bad angles, zero tackling and 52 yards later, Harris was 5/8 for 76 yards and a TD.
Texas fans should be concerned about their rushing attack which was not very good last season. There is no number one back right now and no Colt McCoy to pick up rushing yards from the starting QB spot. Fozzy Whittaker (who went down with a minor ankle injury during the game and did not return) and Chris Whaley (25 lbs too heavy for Mack Brown's liking) were the top RBs who played. Tre' Newton did make the aforementioned TD catch but was also bothered by a minor injury. Key injuries ("more than 10 notable Longhorns") mean any evaluation of what was seen on the field should be taken with a grain of salt. Indeed, without guys such as Sam Acho, Cody Johnson, John Chiles, Vondrell McGee, there was an element of familiarity missing on the field.
Ball security was an issue which should not be overlooked. Texas and Fight fumbled four times (2 lost). WR Brock Fitzhenry coughed the ball up twice, once on a kickoff return. RB Chris Whaley put the ball on the ground once, as did QB Connor Wood. He dropped a 4th quarter snap and then picked up the ball and ran 5 yards for a first down. The play was a good improvisation by Wood (it looked like something out of rugby).
Coach Mack Brown noted that there are still many questions to be answered before the Fall. Can the Longhorns wrap up a 10th straight 10 or more win season? The schedule is pretty favorable and I'd go ahead and pencil in Texas for a win over Rice on September 4. Oh hell (barring an injury to Gilbert) give Texas that 10 win season already. Mack Brown was sensibly guarded about national title chances. And, what if Gilbert does get hurt? Let's just say it will be rough.
The listed attendance was 44,250 which was an inflated figure.
Here is the remaining televised Spring Game Schedule (ESPN360 IS NOW ESPN3) All Times Eastern
Some of you may have been delayed in watching the first thing which was like college football of the 2010 season by a softball game or, alternatively, by the pathetically plodding online version of ESPN, ESPN360. Three cheers for you oh mighty "worldwide leader in sports". Luckily, the LSU Sports Radio Network came through with actually live coverage. The rest of the Spring Games which will be televised are listed at the end of the post (some of them may actually be live and on time).
I don't want to overreact here about a glorified practice. Allen Iverson wants to reiterate his fine point about this matter. Having said that, LSU does not have a starting QB. This is not to suggest à la Deonte Thompson that LSU does not have a "real QB". LSU trotted out four roster QBs and a squad QB during its Spring Game today. You can rule out the squad QB and the two Frosh QBs which leaves the two letter winning Junior QBs, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. Jefferson was the starter in 2009. Lee was the starter for most of 2008. Both were seasons of trepidation around game time for Tiger fans. In 2009, the offense was stagnant for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which was a QB who took more sacks than anyone else in the SEC. The offensive line was admittedly weak so it's not all on Jefferson. Lee's reign in 2008 was record setting. As a Freshman he tied the career pick sixes (7) record of Utah State's Leon Jackson III. Lee, not one to be called gun shy, was not helping himself out by spotting points to the opposing teams. LSU's defense was atrocious under a two-headed monster of coaches who should not have been promoted to co-defensive coordinator after Bo Pelini left for Nebraska. John Chavis vastly improved the defense in his first year last season as defensive coordinator. Getting the offense back on track then is the missing piece of the puzzle for the Tigers in 2010. I'll be damned if Les Miles didn't simply misplace that piece. We've never again seen the Jordan Jefferson who looked great in the 2008 Peach Bowl win against Georgia Tech.
First, the good of the scrimmage part of the Spring "game". Josh Jasper, K. Jasper made all three of his FGs and both of his XPs (some of you remember a time not too long ago when that was a major issue for LSU). In a surprise move right before the half, Les Miles efficiently called timeout with five seconds left. Jasper nailed a 57 yard FG with the wind blowing in his face (this kick was 3 yards longer than the longest kick in Tiger Stadium history). It was the best play of the entire day and should have been the last of the events covered live. The second "half" consisted of situations and Miles called it off a little early when Jefferson threw an INT. The two RBs, Stevan Ridley and Michael Ford, take near first place honors because they looked very good. Their stats (Ford, 19 carries, 139 yards; Ridley 13 carries 104 yards, 1 TD) are inflated because the defense was split up into two squads and was playing "vanilla defense", as Miles called it. Further, two defensive starters didn't play.
The bad and the ugly of today's events: The QB play, the WRs hands--a running theme of Spring practice at LSU in 2010. Neither Jefferson nor Lee looked like a starting QB today. They weren't getting any help on some of their better throws. Jefferson's two best passes were dropped on back to back plays by 2009's Number 1 Dual Threat QB (but yet to throw a pass at LSU) Prospect Russell Shepard. Yeah, now he will be attempting to portray a bigger Dexter McCluster for LSU and is still learning the role. There were three (3) other dropped passes on the day, one was a first down. Beyond that, the QBs looked confused by that same "vanilla defense" that the RBs tore apart. Rumor had it that Lee might be pushing Jefferson for the starting job. Fans couldn't help but cringe when Lee threw a pick six to Craig Loston. Later in the scrimmage, Lee switched teams (as planned by Miles) and threw a TD pass to a player wearing a jersey of the right color. If Lee threw that pick six to try to ensure that he would have a lead when he switched sides, he is a crafty character. If he didn't throw that ball on purpose, you have to still suck it up as a Tiger fan and admit that Lee was the better QB today. Lee finished 10/20 for 114 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (he was 3/5 for a TD once he switched sides). Jefferson, on the other hand, was 8/23 for 94 yards and an INT. If you are keeping score at home, four of the five QBs referenced earlier threw at least one pass. As a group those QBs were 20/48 for 227 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT--against a "vanilla defense." If it were not for that soft defense which I keep emphasizing, it might not matter much that the stats are terrible. LSU doesn't run an option based offense, so it needs a solid throwing QB to win games. A national audience now knows it doesn't yet have one. Unless something dramatic develops over the summer, LSU will have a starting QB in name only when the Tigers walk into the Georgia Dome to play UNC on September 4.
White won the day 24-9 over the Purple squad. This means White gets a picnic served by the Purple team. I am not even making this up. Les Miles said it this past Thursday. Who knows what happens to the players who played both sides?
Your all-time BCS bowl single game yardage leader-Tim Tebow
The Bowl Blitz
Outback Bowl Northwestern 35, Auburn 38, Overtime
The teams combined for 9 turnovers (7 INTs, 2 lost fumbles), 1037 yards gained, 10 TDs, 11 punts and 15 penalties for 165 yards (Auburn was flagged 12 times for 140 yards).
Perhaps inspired by the successful gamble of Idaho's Robb Akey, Northwestern's Coach Pat Fitzgerald went for the win in OT by calling a fake FG run, the attempt was stopped at the Auburn 2 yard line.
Northwestern's QB Mike Kafka was 47/78 for 532 yards 4 TDs, 5 INTs and rushed for 34 yards and a TD.
Gator Bowl West Virginia 21, Florida State 33
The bowl win was number Bobby Bowden's 22nd. He finishes his career trailing only Joe Paterno in bowl wins (24). Florida State finished its season 7-6 which gave Bowden 33 straight winning seasons.
Noel Devine had 168 yards rushing, 28 receiving yards and 1 TD for West Virginia.
Florida State QB E.J. Manuel was an efficient 17/24 for 189 yards passing and also added 70 yards rushing and 1 TD.
Capital One Bowl Penn State 19, LSU 17
Penn State K Colin Wagner kicked four short FGs (26, 18, 20, 21) including the game winner from 21 yards out with 57 seconds left to play.
Joe Paterno picked up his record 24th bowl win in his record 36th bowl appearance. Les Miles dropped his first bowl game as LSU's coach (4-1 overall).
The teams combined for 15 punts due to atrocious field conditions-a new Capital One Bowl record.
Rose Bowl Ohio State 26, Oregon 17
Ohio State ended a three game BCS bowl losing streak (now 5-3 overall in the BCS) with the win and won their first Rose Bowl since 1997. The Big 10 is now 9-11 (.450) in the BCS. Oregon dropped to 1-1 in BCS play. The Pac 10 is 9-5 (.643) in the BCS.
Ohio State held the ball for a Rose Bowl record 41:37 and ran 89 plays. Oregon only ran 53 plays and was outgained 419-260.
Sugar Bowl Cincinnati 24, Florida 51
Seemingly playing against air in the first half and a stiff a/c breeze in the second half in the Superdome, Gators QB Tim Tebow put up a BCS bowl record 533 total yards (482 passing). He was 31/35 passing and threw 3 TDs and ran for another score. Florida gained a Sugar Bowl record 659 yards.
Florida held a 30-3 halftime lead and scored 23 straight points to start the game and 14 straight after the Cincy FG to put the game away early in the 3rd quarter. The Gators are the only team thus far in the bowl season to eclipse half a hundred on the scoreboard
Cincy falls to 0-2 in the BCS and the Big East is now 6-6 (.500) all-time in the BCS. Florida is now 5-1 in BCS games and improved the SEC's record to 13-5 (.722) in the BCS.
It is very safe going with Lincoln's bowl picks. He is 9-2. Me...not so much, 5-10.
Bowl Challenge Standings
MWC 4-0 1.000 Pt. differential: 68
Sun Belt 1-0 1.000 (Dwight Dasher swagger boost override) Pt. differential: 10
The Bowl Blitz is later, right now, a review of two games that didn't make any sense.
Insert your favorite Miles doesn't have a clue caption
Capital One Bowl
One has to give credit to Joe Paterno and his team for the win. They were not great today by any means, but they did enough to win. QB Daryll Clark did not do anything to lose this game. Clark was very lucky that LSU did not pull in any of the 4 INTs they dropped. Penn St dropped a few possible INTs of their own. Penn St did not run the ball well, but 3 yards a carry was enough. JoePa stuck to conservative playcalling and kicked 4 FGs. Ultimately, it was the right thing to do. It should not have been enough to win the game.
The field was the worst which you will ever see for a bowl game. The Capital One people owe both teams an apology for the sorry state of the chewed up playing surface. The Citrus Bowl Stadium was used for four high school championships and the Champs Sports Bowl before the mud bowl today.
LSU was pathetic. I'll repeat that: pathetic. Miles' bowl game whateveritwas that got his teams into destruction mode is gone. That was his one saving grace. This was the exact same team as the regular season, there was no improvement. In fact, I saw regression. LSU was penalized 10 times for 64 yards. No Les Miles team is ever well disciplined, but to have 10 penalties in a bowl game? Jordan Jefferson had an atrocious first half throwing the football and only an ok second half. He got bailed out by WRs making catches (they dropped any pass they could in the first half) some times. The running game: non-existent. Sure, LSU was down to their 4th string RB, but the O-line couldn't even open a hole in the Penn State defensive line. LSU's offensive playcalls were absolutely predictable and there was one player missing from the field on offense: Russell Shepard. Remember him? The no. 1 dual-threat QB prospect in the country. Probably not, out of his 50 touches (yes, Miles didn't redshirt a guy who only got 50 touches) he attempted a grand total of 0 passes. As I said in the preview, this is completely unacceptable. I certainly will not encourage, but would not fault Shepard for transferring. It is nearly impossible for Les Miles to be fired even if he screws up bad because LSU cannot afford to fire him. From the administration's standpoint, LSU gave him the worst contract in college football. That is why Miles is in no danger after his end of game management in the Capital One Bowl cost LSU at a chance for a win. It was inanely bad. Ole Miss loss bad. Blowing a 21 point lead at home in the 2nd half to Tennessee bad. Part of the fault in the clock management snafu belongs to Jordan Jefferson. No matter what asinine playcalls you get from the booth (and it's every 3rd play on average), there are times when you have to ignore them, Jefferson never does. He's a good player in the sense of respecting the coaches' authority. It's not what LSU needs during Miles' tenure. Talent HAS to overcome the inept coaching decisions. In all of the 4 bowl games up to this point, talent has overcome Miles. It did not tonight and LSU lost 19-17.
The Rose Bowl
Is this still Jim Tressel?
Jim Tressel (figuratively) hung his sweater vest up in the closet for this game. He let Terrelle Pryor sling the ball around. It was not always pretty. Pryor let go of a few passes that were nothing more than prayers that were answered. Still, Pryor completed 62% of his career high 37 pass attempts for a career high 266 yards. He threw 2 TD passes and only 1 INT (he only got 72 yards on 20 rushing attempts and took 4 sacks). There was a guy in a sweater vest on the Ohio State sideline who looked amazingly like Tressel who said, throw it. On the first TD pass, the Buckeyes were in clear 3 pt range on the Ducks 13. Ohio State dialed up 3 pass plays in a row, the TD play was on 3rd and 10. Astonishing. In the 4th quarter, with the Buckeyes ahead 19-17, there was a 2nd and 7 from the Oregon 17. Guaranteed run play, right? Wrong. Tressel or the guy who looked like him went for the throat. Result? TD pass. That score pushed the lead for the Buckeyes out 26-17. Oregon Coach Chip Kelly had a chance to try to get back in the game, went NFL conservative and called for a 45 yard FG on 4th and 1. Result? Pushed wide, game essentially over. The final score was 26-17. Oregon turned the ball over twice and it hurt badly. The first was a Jeremiah Massoli INT that was returned into Oregon territory near the end of the half. Even after Ohio State was safely in FG range, Tressel allow Pryor to throw the ball. Nothing came of the throws, but a made FG gave Ohio State a 16-10 lead. Oregon scored a TD to start the 3rd quarter and Ohio State responded with a FG to make it 19-17. The Buckeyes were throwing before the FG try. Oregon was then swiftly moving the ball 62 yards on 4 plays when RB LeGarrette Blount drop kicked (unintentionally) the ball at the Ohio State 18 and it rolled through the end zone. Was that cosmic revenge for Kelly reinstating Blount after his Boise State sucker punch? The Ducks were done at that point, their high flying offense grounded by their own poor execution and the Buckeyes clock killing drives (Ohio State time of possession: 41:37). Masoli only rushed 6 times for 9 yards and 1 TD. He was terrible throwing the football, 9/20 for 81 yards and 1 INT. Oregon did rush for 179 yards, but couldn't convert on 3rd and long by passing. Hats off to Tressel for ending that 3 game losing streak in BCS bowls.