Brian Kelly knows championships

Brian Kelly knows championships (Icon SMI)

Since Brian Kelly took over the reins of the Queen City’s finest football program (at least fewer arrests) the Bearcats have challenged for the Big East title (won in his first season of 2007) and put up some impressive offensive numbers.

The true prognostication for Cincinnati this season remains incomplete as the appeal of former USC WR Vidal Hazelton to play in 2009 has yet to be determined, but his appearance would only add to a pretty loaded offense anyway. Despite playing four quarterbacks in 2008 Tony Pike emerged as the clear leader at the end of the campaign and all the way through spring.

As I mentioned in the CFFI Big East Mock Draft, the amazing amount of turnover of talent in the group clouds up the crystal ball for just about every offense except this one.

Below is my SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and expected depth chart of our 42nd rated offense since 2006.


Head coach Brian Kelly

a former D2 national champion at Grand Valley State who brought his spread offense to prominence at Central Michigan before stopping in Cincy in 2007. His OC Jeff Quinn has partnered with him since 1991 to threaten defenses. Having stability at the top spots helps us feel more confident that there will be at least one fantasy college football stud here in 2009.

WR “potential” depth

I mentioned Hazelton above who could step right into the spot vacated by graduated Dominick Goodman (84-1028-T7), but so could JUCO recruit Jamar Howard – both are 6-2+ and 210 pounds. I say “potential’ since Hazelton wants to play in 2009 after playing a few snaps in 2008 (wanted to be closer to home for sick grandfather) and JUCOs often prove difficult to assimilate into team culture (no shot on Howard, a much more general observation). Senior Mardy Gilyard returns after a huge year (11 TDs) and might be the best pass catcher in the Big East. Marcus Barnett had a big 2007 but practiced at CB since…

WEAKNESSES (Read the rest of this story at Fantasy College Blitz)


GMAC Bowl Preview:

Posted: January 6, 2009 in college football

You want offense with your bowl games? Tired of games in the 20’s? That likely changes tonight in the GMAC Bowl from Mobile, AL as small-school scoring stalwarts Ball State Cardinals take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the appetizer game before the main course of the national championship.

Coaching changes provide a heavy subplot to the offensive numbers – Ball State Head coach Brady Hoke accepted the head gig at San Diego State, an upgrade in weather if not in potential recruiting. Ball State wanted to give offensive coordinator Stan Parrish the head job (formerly head coach of Kansas State before Bill Snyder v1.0) but I wonder how much of that brilliance is due to QB Nate Davis, RB MiQuale Lewis and even the injured Dante Love over the past couple years. Davis believes in Parrish and has said he plans to stay for his senior year.

Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn took the same title at Auburn and leaves his no-huddle turbo attack to once co- now solo OC Herb Hand. Head coach Todd Graham just signed a ten-year extension with the university and is committed to the speread offense. [ESPN]

After the jump, more cool facts to impress the ladies at the watch party and a breakdown of two amazing running offenses. Read the rest of this entry »

Lloyd Carr wins bowls

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Blake Gideon

Fans of Longhorn football have blamed their snub from the Big 12 Championship Game on the Harris Poll, the BCS, global warming and probably even Barack Obama. Others blame the conference’s choice to defer the three-way tie settlement to the polls rather than settling on the field. 

I hate to do this, but this was settled on the field and not the neutral field Red River Classic.

Months of preparation and hours of filmwork came down to the final moments of the November 1 epic Texas Tech game – and true freshman safety Blake Gideon dropped an easy interception that would have tied the Longhorns invitation to the BCS National Title Game up with a bow.

(A refresher – go to the 2:30 mark as Tech QB Graham Harrell scrambles left, flips a fastball to WR Ed Britton who tips it skyward. As ESPN Kirk Herbstriet points out on the footage this is a drill done every day with the defense, and Gideon flat drops the biggest sporting opportunity of his young life.

 Texas Tech final drive versus Texas

 Next play – Crabtree touchdown and the fans are on the field.)

Some background – Blake Gideon is the LAST Newcomer listed in the Phil Steele 2008 College Football Preview but quickly moved into the starting lineup under first year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. He was building quite the brand name for himself in the first two months of the season. His Facebook page likely was filled with awful, hurtful things after the drop so I hope at least one of his 671 friends came to his defense.

 Just one year ago Gideon was at his high school homecoming, and right now he is the most likely villain in a year of almosts for the Texas Longhorns. Now fans and Texas coaches alike blame the outcome of this once magical season on external factors rather than realizing they had it in their hands. Actually, if you watch the replay Gideon whiffed on the interception in a Rob Deer-like fashion.

 The Gideon story serves as a microcosm of life in general – years of training only prepare you for the spotlight, it does not guarantee a grand performance. Some people “drop the ball”, others grab it and carry it to glory. If you are good enough, you get a few shots at the big play and you can bet Gideon drills himself mercilessly for the next big event.

I can appreciate why no one points this out now; many would cite sensitivity to the young man’s ego but the more likely case is that a month ago is ancient history. Please understand that I wish no ill will to Blake at all – the way his career leapt ahead at such an early age suggests great things for him. My wish for the kid is that he will make a play for the ages and Chris Connely will perform the “Behind the Music” like interview, and I certainly don’t want him to go Donnie Moore on us as if this were the end of his existence.

But the geographical and emotional distance I possess allows me to remind Longhorn fans that you had the national title in your grasp. You may still have a shot at the national title if the SEC fails to impress the voters – but likely you should prepare for the Cotton or the Fiesta.

Steer? Meet bull

Steer? Meet bull

Let me clear up all this confusion surrounding the BCS and Oklahoma getting ahead of the Longhorns today. It may be bull but is the Big 12’s fault.

To paraphrase the excellent argument laid out by Dr. Saturday early this am, The Big 12 Conference themselves abdicated responsibility in the event of a 3-way tie (3-ways are always troublesome) and gave it to the BCS system.

BCS computers score the merits of the seasons body of work regardless of margin of victory or timing of the wins/losses. So Big 12 essentially dismisses any discussion of head-to-head results, forward goes the Schooner. Don’t hate the BCS on this one, hate Big 12 Commish Dan Beebe.

If November has taught me anything, it is that we will see an epic BCS title game – Florida vs. Oklahoma on January 8 in Dolphin Stadium.

Let me be the first to outline how this epic battle will go, then share with you the quote of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

While a turkey could mean three strikes in a row to a bowler or a beautiful feast to the pilgrims, turkey also means a big disappointment. What icons of the college football world have disappointed, and thereby deserve the title of “turkeys”?

This is hardly a groundbreaking and innovative journalistic theme, but sounds funny enough for me to recycle and spin with an environmentally conscious angle. I consider myself a positive person, but I realize there is more humor in being negative.

Ian Johnson – 2006 season for the ages (25 TD, 1714 yards rushing)? CHECK! Legendary bowl game victory in which he scored the final TD? CHECK! Gorgeous cheerleader wife? CHECK! Any follow through on that great promise since then – without question NO.

2008 disappointed from the get-go, minor injuries always nicking him but not enough to ever give up hope of a return to form – which no doubt drug your fantasy season to the Bob Uecker seats to watch your league playoffs.

Ian, you will always be a huge part of my favorite college football fan memory of all time. I wish you nothing but the best whatever path your life takes you. I sincerely hope there is no dark secret in Boise that has led to your last two subpar years – I am chalking them up to the injuries.

The Notre Dame ComplexRead the rest of this entry »

too bad about that loss to the Beavers for your BCS Title Game chances, but on the positive side the USC defense will likely filet the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.

While Southern Cal again takes the top spot in all three of our defensive categories, the North Texas Mean Green were thisclose to being the Bizarro-Trojans by finishing last in all three categories except yards per point. Washington State saved them the embarrassment by asking opponents to cover less than ten yards for each point scored this year.

And this picture – best big hit photo of the day as Notre Dame (#33 ranked unit) defensive back David Bruton (27) makes a special teams tackle on Syracuse punt returner Ryan Howard (21) during the embarrassing loss this past weekend (thanks ICON SMI).

Whether you are in your fantasy bowl game, need some light reading for the holidays or want to prepare for a weekend of rivalry matchups check out our exclusive defense rankings. Read the rest of this entry »