College Football

National Signing Day

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The most stressful day in recruiting is clearly National Signing Day. Decisions made by 18 year old “men” can determine a program’s future. There can only be one team that is happy with a decision. That means three or four schools have their heart ripped out and thrown away. National Signing Day is a war. Coaches have been on the recruiting trail for years building relationships with these recruits and their families. This year is filled on the defensive side of the ball with players like Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Hargreaves, Chris Jones, and Jaylon Smith. This year is exceptionally filled with NFL caliber cornerbacks. This select group is led by Florida commit Vernon Hargreaves and Tre’Davious White. According to Rivals.com this class features four 5-star corners.

There are always winners and losers from NSD and it is clear that the biggest winner is Ole Miss. While the commitment from Nkemdiche was expected, closing and executing was crucial for    Hugh Freeze and the rest of his staff. Along with getting Nkemdiche to sign his name on the dotted line, they were able to sign three more 5-star recruits according to 247sports.com. The most important player besides the 6’4” 285 beast on DE was signing a playmaker with the athleticism as Laquon Treadwell. The Ole Miss offense will rely on Treadwell immediately for explosiveness just as Clemson did with Sammy Watkins his freshman year. Also on the offensive side of the ball is OT Laremy Tunsil.

The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post
The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post

The best overall class is hands down Alabama. No surprise here. Nick Saban and his staff were able to continue the momentum from the beating the laid upon Notre Dame. Bama was able to build upon another great defense with 5-star defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster will follow in the footsteps that have been laid forth by Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosley. The one thing these three linebackers all have in common is the ability to follow the ball and attack at the point of contact. Foster recorded 80 tackles and 6 sacks in his senior year. The 6’2” 242 linebacker looks to be in the rotation for the 2013 season.

The team that underperformer for the 2013 class would be Stanford. While they were limited in their number of scholarships, I still expected a team that has had so much success in recent years to build a better class. The bright spot of their 2013 class is the quarterback out of Virginia Ryan Burns. Burns stands in at 6’5”218 pounds so size is a major plus when analysts have graded him. 247sports.com graded Burns all the way to a 92/100. The major let down for Stanford and David Shaw is only signing two players in the trench for offense. Center Thomas Oser and OT Tyler Bright both earned three stars. Shaw has instilled bullying the Pac 10 as a trademark.It will be hard in the future to dominate the line of scrimmage with only 2 lineman signed. This was a major whole in the class that brought their rankings into the 60’s.

A couple of teams that also came up short this year according to the rankings would be Oklahoma and Oregon. While Oregon can slightly blame this on Coach Kelly jetting to the NFL so late in the recruiting process, Oklahoma just whiffed on there top recruits. Oklahoma, usually a dominating team on the recruiting pitch was unable to sign a single 5-star according to rivals.com. This is astounding because of the dominance they have had on the Midwest stars. One team that made a huge jump in the rankings is Kansas. Usually it is rival Kansas State that runs the Junior College crew but Coach Weis was able to snag 20 JUCO players DT Marquel Combs. Combs comes in as a 4-star and the highest rated JUCO player for this years class.

Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com
Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com

Did you really think I would go this far and not tell you about the most important teams recruiting class? That’s right the Gators had one of the best classes because of how they filled their class. Will Muschamp has a liking to sign one quarterback a class and he achieved that with the record setting Max Staver. Hargreaves should lineup as a starter next year at cornerback and early enrollee Kelvin Taylor should split carries with sophomore Matt Jones. The most impressive feature of this dominant class is having signed 12 lineman. Muschamp has been extremely successful with signing highly regarded linemen such as D.J. Humphries from the 2012 class. Also, Florida’s staff was able to sway Alex Anzalone from Notre Dame and get him to early enrollee.
My final thought is that the NCAA needs to move back the National Signing Day around 2 months so coaches have more time to get to evaluate recruits. Also, this should be able to cut so many early commitments. While yes this would cut down on some of the recruitment circuses we have this year. Players will be able to take more visits and evaluate his options with a more informed belief.

Spencer Montgomery

Freshman for Heisman?

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The 2012 College Football Finalists for the coveted Heisman Trophy were officially announced with the top three candidates being Texas A&M’s star freshman quarterback, Johnny Manziel followed by Notre Dame’s senior powerhouse linebacker, Manti Te’o, and lastly, Kansas State’s standout senior quarterback, Collin Klein. Currently, Manziel surpasses any other finalist in total votes with 69, Te’o holds 57, and Klein holds 42. The three have had undoubtedly impressive seasons but I feel that the Freshman out of Texas A&M will be crowned the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.

Johnny Manziel or commonly known as “Johnny Football”, Freshman, has been nothing but fun to watch this year. He has broken records and received many accomplishments that earn him the right to be known as the so called, “best player in college football”. He’s a dual threat quarterback on the field with his passing arm and his ability to quickly dash out of a collapsing pocket to gain a first down. This season ‘Johnny Football’ has a total of 3419 passing yards and 1181 rushing yards. He’s racked in a total of 43 touchdowns this season with 24 being in the air and 19 on foot, and in addition, he’s only had 8 interceptions. His completion percentage is 68.3% and on foot he averages 6.8 yards-per-carry. His stats are unarguable and prove him to be one of, if not, the top Quarterback in all of College Football this year.

This season he’s also had an array of record-breaking games and has earned many different accomplishments this season. In his second game in his college football career against Southern Methodist University, he broke Texas A&M’s Freshman passing record, and he did not stop there. The next week against South Carolina State he earned the SEC Freshman of the Week award, and the following week against Arkansas, he broke Texas A&M’s passing record, was awarded SEC Offensive player and Freshman of the week and he also broke Archie Manning’s 43 year-old total offense record. This game is what really got Maziel’s name on the nations radar and even with so much attention, he kept on chugging along to do

manziel-1more great feats. In week seven against Louisiana Tech, he broke the SEC total offense record, was awarded SEC Offensive and Freshman player of the Week, AT&T All-America Player of the Week, The Walter Camp Honor, and was the first player in SEC history with two 500+ yard games of total offense in a single season. In week eight against Auburn, he was awarded SEC Freshman Player of the week, and received the same award following week nine. Week ten was his biggest game of the season, as he lead Texas A&M into Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the #1 ranked Crimson Tide, and came out with a shocking victory, snapping Alabama’s school record 29-game regular season win streak and stunning nearly all of the college football world. That week he was SEC offensive player of the week and Freshman of the week, AT&T All-America Player of the Week, and the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week. In week eleven, against Sam Houston State he was awarded SEC Freshman of the Week and AT&T All-America Player of the Week. To close off the season in week twelve against Missouri he was awarded SEC Freshman of the Week. 

Johnny “Football” Manziel is a college player with outstanding talent and abilities in the game of Football. He is a two-time Walter Camp Player of the Week, three-time AT&T All-American Player of the Week, the first player since Florida’s Tim Tebow to rush for two touchdowns and to throw for two touchdowns five times in one season, and also, seven-time SEC Freshman Player of the week. His stats are unarguably outstanding and watching him play is exhilarating. He’s a Freshman out of Kerrville, Texas who has made his name in college football. I’m more than excited to see what he will do next year at Texas A&M and his stats prove that he will win the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Sam Holland

Kansas Football Woes Continue

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The clock showed that there were two minutes and twenty-eight seconds left in the game.  That’s how long the Kansas defense needed to withstand the Texas Longhorns to pull off an unexpected upset.  40,000 fans came into the homecoming game expecting a Texas blowout win over the struggling Jayhawks.  However, fans from both sides got their money’s worth, and got to watch a great game as Kansas almost got their first Big 12 win this season.

The Kansas defense was average until the fourth quarter, when they collapsed. The Jayhawks gave up a total of 342 total yards, of which,  211 were rushing yards.  At the same time, Kansas forced two interceptions against a traditionally great passing team.  The Texas quarterbacks could not do anything against KU.  Throwing only 23 passes combined, David Ash and Case McCoy completed only 13 of the thrown passes.  The passing game was not working for the Longhorns, so coach Mack Brown resolved to a multitude of runners.  The running game made up for much of the Texas offense Saturday, but it did not rock Kansas.  This Kansas defense held Texas to 21 points, a team who averages over 44 points per game.  The Jayhawk defense did everything they could to propel Kansas to their first win over a ranked opponent since 2010.  Unfortunately for Kansas, this was not the day to end that streak.

The Kansas offense played decently against Texas.  Tailback James Sims played well with  28 carries for 176 yards.  Along with Sims, running backs Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox ran for a combined 79 yards.  With all of the running by Kansas, the passing game was nowhere to be found.  After quarterback Dayne Crist was benched a few weeks ago,  freshman Michael Cummings has become the new offensive leader.  However, the Jayhawks only threw the football nine times.  Not only did they throw nine times, but Cummings only completed a total of three passes.  As an offense, that is unacceptable.  In order to beat a historically successful Texas football team, the opponent’s offense has to be balanced. With Kansas’ offense putting up very lopsided numbers, it was surprising to see Kansas competing.  Texas’ defense allows over 229 passing yards per game and Kansas Coach Charlie Weis and his offensive staff failed to take advantage. This proved to hurt the Jayhawks’ chance of winning.

It is obvious that KU football has one major problem to fix.  There is a shaky quarterback situation that needs to be resolved.  Dayne Crist is not what fans expected, and it is now up to Michael Cummings to take over.  This is not what Coach Weis and the fans were expecting. Although there was optimism among Kansas fans, their football team is already out of contention for a bowl game through 8 games.

Fortunately, there were some positives taken from the game.  The Jayhawks have a great rushing game with threats from three different running backs.  Their rushing tandem can prove to be lethal next week in Waco, Texas, against the Baylor Bears.  Another positive from Saturday’s loss was how strong the Jayhawks defense was.  The defense is what kept the game alive, until the very end.

There are definitely a few holes to fill for Kansas, but they can do it.  The slogan “We Believe” is used in Lawrence regularly now.  This clearly isn’t a type of bowl season that was shown in 2007, but Kansas can get back to a BCS bowl game someday.  Until then, the Kansas Jayhawks need to come together, put points on the scoreboard, and beat somebody.

Drew Agnello

Playoff System

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Prior to this past week, Division 1 College Football was the only college sport not to use a playoff type format for its postseason. Now we have what many fans of college football have been wishing for, a playoff. Although there are some things that need to be ironed out, such as who will be on the committee to select the four teams in the playoff, I believe that this is a step in the right direction for college football. One of the biggest flaws of the current BCS system, which will be in effect for the next two seasons, is its inconsistency throughout its existence.

In 1998, the first year of the BCS, Kansas State ran the table through the regular season and fell to Texas A&M in two overtimes in the Big 12 Title game. After the game, they fell from number one to number three in the BCS rankings. They were denied a bid to any BCS game and went to the Alamo Bowl. Then in 2003, Oklahoma was number one and had ran the table through the regular season. They got destroyed by Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship and still got to play in the National Title.

See anything wrong with that picture? That is just one of many cases of fraud by the BCS. There are some major things that beed to be worked out by the conference commissioners. Who will select the teams and how will we be sure there is no bias? What will be the criteria for inclusion? While I don’t think a 4 team playoff will settle all the issues surrounding college football postseason, I do think it is a step in the right direction.

Sam Young

No Respect (KSU)

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In 2011, the Kansas State football team exceeded everyone’s expectations. They were predicted by the media to finish 8th in the Big 12 and win 4 or 5 games. By now, everyone knows Kansas State football is getting back to the way it used to be. Entering the 2012 season, Kansas State returns the second most amount of starters on any team in the Big 12, behind only Texas Tech. It seems odd that many media members are continuing to discount the Wildcats in the Big 12 Title race for the upcoming season. Yes I understand they won 8 games by 7 points or less. Yes I know Collin Klein needs to work on his passing.

Yes I know the secondary needs to replace two starters. It’s also hard to understand the media’s reasoning for thinking the “ball won’t bounce” K-State’s way as much this year. Do they not realize that last year was Collin Klein, Arthur Brown, Consensus All-American Tyler Lockett, and second team All-American Nigel Malone’s first year as full time starters? Yes it took an interception of Robert Griffin to beat Baylor. Yes it took four overtimes to beat Texas A&M. With a full year starting under their belts for the four previously mentioned, how can this team not be drastically improved from last year. I don’t think people realize that. Another point of confusion is that usually when a team loses many close games in one year and returns many starters for the next year, they are picked by the media to win more games.

 

So how is it that a team that returns many starters that proved they could win close games, is predicted to win less? I am not even mentioning other key role players returning from last year, such as Chris Harper, Ty Zimmerman, Meshak Williams, B.J. Finney and countless others. Oh, and i haven’t even mentioned the greatest piece to the puzzle, the reigning National Coach of the Year, Bill Snyder. You think this is his first rodeo? All in all, I find it extremely puzzling that the national and local media are back to their old ways of discounting K-State and Bill Snyder. All of these preseason rankings are nothing more than bulletin board material that will ignite a fire in the players. I’m by no means upset by all of this talk, because deep inside we all know it means nothing and is just fuel for the program. As long as this talk keeps up, Bill Snyder’s players will continue to use it as motivation, and they will prove the media wrong, just like they did last year.

Sam Young

Cotton Bowl Preview

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Everyone knows that the Cotton Bowl, pitting Kansas State vs. Arkansas, will be a great game. But not everyone knows everything about the matchup and Kansas State athletics in general like our friend Sam Young. So we brought him in to give us a breakdown of the game. Like we said before, he knows his Kansas State football.

The 2012 Cotton Bowl Classic should be a dandy this year. The game features two top ten teams playing in what many consider the nicest football stadium in the world, the new Cowboy’s Stadium. The representative from the SEC, Arkansas, is coming off of a 10-2 regular season with its only two losses to Alabama and LSU. The representative from the Big 12, Kansas State, is also coming off a 10 win regular season and is looking to reach 11 wins for the first time since 2003, when Ell Roberson, Darren Sproles and company brought home a Big 12 Title. Kansas State’s resurgence has been led by none other than head coach Bill Snyder, who is up for many National Coach of the Year honors.

Two 10 win programs.

Two great coaches.

One awesome venue.

And only one winner.

This should be interesting….

When Arkansas Runs: Before the season even started, Arkansas lost starting running back Knile Davis to a season ending ankle injury. Consequently, Arkansas has the 9th ranked rushing attack in the SEC. Add that up with a stout K-State front seven led by Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Arthur Brown, we don’t see Arkansas running the ball with much success in this one
EDGE:K-State

When Arkansas Passes: As mentioned previously, Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson has had a fantastic year throwing the football. His favorite target is his 5-10 senior Jarius Wright. Kansas State has had trouble stopping the pass this year. Although K-State cornerback Nigel Malone led the Big 12 with 7 interceptions this year, look for a big day from quarterback Tyler Wilson throwing the ball.
EDGE:Arkansas

When K-State Runs: Arkansas gave up an average of 174 rush yards a game this season. This will be probably the second best rushing attack Arkansas will face this season, behind Alabama. Kansas State under Bill Snyder has always been a run first team. Expect K-State quarterback Collin Klein and running back John Hubert to have field days running against this Arkansas defense.
EDGE:K-State

Collin Klein has been outstanding for the wildcats this season.

When K-State Passes: Although Collin Klein’s forte is running the ball, he is also a pretty decent passer. K-State has some good receivers in Tramaine Thompson, Sheldon Smith and Chris Harper. They will be missing arguably their biggest playmaker in freshman receiver Tyler Lockett, who lacerated his kidney in the November 5th game against Oklahoma State. Arkansas has a pretty good pass defense that will be tested against K-State receiving core. K-State’s run game will be good enough to set up some play action to throw the Arkansas secondary off balance.
EDGE:K-State

Coaching: The recent firing of defensive coordinator Willy Robinson and Garrick McGee taking the UAB job, added to Arkansas’s lack of success in bowls, give K-State’s Bill Snyder and his staff the edge in this category
EDGE:K-State

Intangibles: The game is being played in close proximity to both schools, so expect to see a good amount of fans from both schools at the Jerry Dome. The one thing that sticks out in our minds is the “no respect” card played by K-State all year. They got snubbed out of a Sugar Bowl bid and have been underdogs in over half of their games played this year. K-State will be very hungry and want to prove the doubters wrong…..again.
EDGE:K-State

Prediction: Although K-State has an advantage in many categories, I think Arkansas will prevail. Tyler Wilson and the potent Arkansas passing attack will prove too much for K-State. Expect it to be a close game with K-State being able to tie or win it on the last drive, but they will eventually come up short
Arkansas:30 K-State:27

Sam Young