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6 teams I can’t figure out

Louisville-Will Gardner

The 2014 College football season is right around the corner and our top 25 will be released in just a little over a week. Of course, I’m more than ready for football to begin, but I still have a few questions. Out of the top 50 or so teams I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on all of them, except for a hand full of wildcards. I would like to talk about the uncertainties I have and all the things that I may be wrong about. We all know the ACC is a race for 2nd place behind FSU, but the runner up should be (insert school here)? All the love goes to the SEC West, but could this be the year the East rises up? And finally, is this the year the Pac 12 becomes the best conference in CFB? Well… this is what we think.

  1. Louisville Cardinals: I know some people will hate what I’m about to say, but I know I’m right… losing Charlie Strong was a good thing! Not because he sucks, but because Bobby Petrino is an elite coach and a huge scumbag. Strong better guy, Petrino better coach… it’s that simple. I was one of the few that thought the Cardinals were big underachievers in 2013 and I was also one of Teddy’s biggest critics, but this year’s squad has a completely different feel to it. Last season they were coming in with the “quote – unquote” best quarterback in the nation and several future NFL players, including three 1st round picks (Bridgewater, Pryor, Smith). Louisville lost most of it’s defense and almost half of the offense, but they still have pro talent on the roster, with corner Charles Gaines, receiver DeVante Parker and sack master, Lorenzo Mauldin. The biggest question is whether or not Will Gardner is capable of running Bobby’s offense. He’s played in seven games, but theres no meaningful tape to evaluate, so unless you believe the coach-speak coming out of camp, we really don’t know what to expect. Parker is a PLAYA and the running game should be solid, but the offensive line should be outstanding with three 1st team All AAC players and four of five back. I love the coaching but fear the passing game? I know thats crazy… I’m just not sure what to make of Louisville now that they’re playing in the ACC Atlantic.
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide: Having the Tide in my top five is not something I wanted to do, but something I felt I had to do. The reason? Because they’ve won three BCS National Championships in the last five years and (as much as I hate to say it) Saban is the best coach/recruiter in the game. However, I have major concerns about the quarterback position and the starter candidates they have. Blake Sims is the lame duck (thats what I call a Senior QB who has never been a starter) option, which almost never works out. Jake Coker is the 2nd coming although I’ve only seen him throw the ball a handful of times with with a 51% completion rate against D1 talent and Cooper Bateman has never thrown a pass in a game. This would not be as big a deal if the defense was dominating with eight or nine NFL players on it, but thats not the case. Look, I think Nicky will get it figured out but… maybe not? Just something to be aware of…Bama received ZERO 1st place votes in the preseason coaches poll for the first time in a long time!
  3. Texas Christian Horned Frogs: Phil Steele is the gold standard of CFB journalism and his preview magazine is a must buy for any College football fan, but every year he has a team that sucks ranked insanely high and this year it’s TCU. Call me crazy if you must, but the Frogs have been wretched since joining the Big 12 and I see no reason why that would change in 2014. How could it? They lost LaDarius Brown because he did something dumb and could be parting ways with Devonte Fields; one of the best pass rushers in the nation. Their passer could be a lame duck transfer from Texas A&M (Matt Joeckel) who has about 300 career passing yards and their schedule is somewhat difficult. I believe Patterson is a good coach and will right the ship, but 2014 is not the year to predict that. That said, Phil is not alone in thinking that TCU will make some noise this fall, but I just can’t see why.
  4. Texas Longhorns: Texas is in the top 25! Am I the only one who thinks that’s ludicrous? Will the Longhorns’ woes over the last few years go away? Believing they’ve solved those problems by firing their coach is delusional, in my opinion. I’m not saying they suck but their QB does and, call me old-fashioned, but the guy throwing the ball is the most important player on the field and the dude they got don’t get it done. The Hornes have some ballers like nose tackle Malsom Brown, sack master Cedric and runner Jon Gray, but overall their roster is filled with underachievers, busts and slackers. Do I believe that Strong will whip them into shape? Maybe, but that’s a big project and I don’t think it’s a problem you can fix in a year. Looking at the schedule this fall, I would caution Horns’ fans to temper their expectations.
  5. Missouri Tigers: After winning the SEC East in just their second year in the conference, you would think they would have earned some respect. Wrong! They get no credit from the coaches poll and I’m trying to figure out why. Is this a ‘me’ problem; am I missing something? Because the last thing I remember is a win over a very good Oklahoma State team and a solid showing against the SEC champions. Granted, they lost several great players, but they bring back Maty “Mad Man” Mauk, who in my eyes is one of, if not, the best, QB in the conference. Missouri had a fierce pass rush in 2014 and even though Sams and Ealy are gone, Shane Ray and Markus Golden are experienced and electric players who will be day one starters. When you look at the amount of the starters Mizzou lost, I’ll admit it’s a bit alarming, but the majority of the two deep is back and their leader, their hope, their master… “Master Mauk”! I see the Tigers competing for the SEC East title and I believe they’re a top 15 team by the end of 2014.
  6. Stanford Cardinal: I love what Stanford has become: a physical, nasty, pound-you-till-you’re-bloody team with some of the biggest and best lineman in the nation. Harbaugh started it back it ’07 and David Shaw has kept it going and now has Stanford as a true national powerhouse. They’re defending back to back, Pac 12 championships, but lost several NFL players and have a bear of a schedule this fall, so I’m not sure exactly what to think. Kevin Hogan has been solid but has yet to emerge as an elite level QB and if Stanford is going to be a playoff contender, he needs to take his game to the next level. They have Ty Montgomery and Barry Sanders, Jr.; both add some dynamic playmaking ability. The line should be great, despite the fact they lost almost all their starters. I trust Shaw as much as any coach in CFB, but if the passing takes a step back, this could be a disappointing year for the Cardinal.

Reaction to the coaches poll and six surprises

Here is the Poll

1. Florida State (56 first place votes)

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma (3)

4. Oregon (1)

5. Auburn

6. Ohio State (1)


8. Michigan State

9. South Carolina (1)

10. Baylor

11. Stanford

12. Georgia

13. LSU

14. Wisconsin

15. USC

16. Clemson

17. Notre Dame

18. Arizona State

19. Ole Miss

20. Texas A&M

21. Kansas State

22. Nebraska

23. North Carolina

24. Texas

25. Washington

This is about what we thought we would see, but there are a few things we found a bit surprising and baffling.

  1. Alabama received zero 1st place votes for the first time since the 2009 preseason. In fact, since the 2010 preseason poll Alabama has received more 1st place votes than any other team in College Football. Is this proof that the quarterback position is more of a question mark than we thought?
  2. Florida no where to be found? That doesn’t surprise me, but I’ve seen several polls that have the Gators in the high teens and twenties, but that offense is way too pathetic for me to give them that kind of credit.
  3. I thought the Big 12 should have four teams in the top 25, but Texas should not have been one of them. The passing game is as low rent as they come and the defense is underwhelming to say the least. Add in the fact that a handful of starters got kicked off the team this summer and you have mediocrity at it’s finest.
  4. I’m happy Washington made an appearance, because the talent level is solid and CP is a ninja head coach. The schedule is insanely difficult, but the defense should be stout and if Miles gets his mind right the offense should be fine.
  5. Teams that got underrated. 6 Ohio State, 10 Baylor, 15 USC, 18 Arizona State, 21 K-State, 23 North Carolina,
  6. Teams that got overrated. 2 Alabama, 5 Auburn, 9 South Carolina, 14 Wisconsin, 22 Nebraska, 24 Texas


Six ways to survive the off-season

  1. We are just days away from the NFL preseason starting on August 3rd and the regular season kicking off on September 4th. We get our first taste of College football on Wednesday, August 27th, but we’ll have to wait until August 28th for Texas A&M and South Carolina to see the real kick off to the 2014 season. Theres no way around it, we just have to wait. Until then…
  2. Enjoy summer… got kids? take em’ swimming! Cookout, go on vacation, re watch breaking bad (as I am doing right now) or what ever floats your boat. The point is take time to show some love to the family or GF or BF, because theres not going to be near as much time for that come September.
  3. Need some Tv to help fill the void? HBO is always a safe bet for some quality programing. Shows like True Blood (final season), The Leftovers (Peter Berg is making it and he S**** gold) are on now and Hard Knocks (training camp with the Atlanta Falcons) is about to start, so HBO can help you in this time of need.
  4. Forget spring cleaning! Theres way too much going on during those beautiful months, so do it now. Mid summer cleaning is all the rage around the NFL draft and football community, so follow suite. Rearrange the living room, clean the garage, basement, attic and anything else the significant other may wish for you to do, because saving up on brownie points will pay off on that Saturday or Sunday that you absolutely can’t be bothered.
  5. If you’re a junkie like me and can’t wait another moment for football, watch football! I know what you’re thinking “There’s no football dumb ass?” Well there is… just not the quality you want. Aren league is in full swing, you can watch preseason clips and other stuff regarding “Your Team” on YouTube or you can watch spring game, season previews or full games from the 2013 season on several different sites (one of my favorites is Noon Kick).
  6. Or… just hang out on NFLDraftRadio all day long! Enjoy the summer.