Stat Work: Very Early Lines

Football czar Phil Steele has posted the very early lines for big games in college football.   There is one discrepency from the Golden Nugger which is where Phil Steele got the info, and it is that they list the Colorado verse Colorado State game is listed to be played in Denver.  However, that game is being played in Boulder that is the home of Colorado.

Bold teams are the home teams

Colorado minus 13 -Colorado State   Have to take Colorado State this game has been close the past three years this one is in Boulder so that could make a difference.

Oklahoma minus 21 BYU   @ Arlington  This is tough but have to go with Oklahoma since last year they were able to score 35 against TCU last year.  I would go with Oklahoma to cover.

Oregon State minus 14 UNLV  This an interesing because UNLV should be better from last years team, and while the Rebels are at home they still may not win.  Oregon State plays poorly in the early part of the season, so in this early pick take UNLV

Utah – Oregon minus 7.5 Even though this is in Eugune 7.5 points seems like a lot, especially for a team that has a new head coach in Chip Kelly taking over.  Also, Oregon had numerous transfers, but the Ute QB should be settled and go with Utah.

Florida State- BYU minus 3 BYU rarely looses at home and FSU is pretty good but not like they were in the mid-nineties, so go with BYU.

Hawai’i-UNLV minus 7 Interesting matchup and this is a high scoring game, but I would take Hawai’i to cover because UNLV has a need for defense and Ilsanders can really put up points.

UNLV-Nevada minus 7 Interesting for Nevada to be favored, but in the Wolfpacks defense they return nearly everone on offense.  Take UNLV because both teams can score and it will back and forth and be close.

UNLV-BYU minus 13 Last year this game came down to the wire, and UNLV should be better, so the early pick is UNLV.

San Diego State-BYU minus 17 Easy take the Cougars

UNLV-Utah minus 10 Now this game is interesting becasue UNLV should be better, and the Utes have a new quarterback.  The revenge factor will be in since the Utes last visit to Vegas was an embarassing 27-0 loss, so take the Utes to cover.

 Utah-BYU minus 6  This one may seem easy to pick Utah because if you do not include last years route the three previous came down to a final play,  so the early pick is Utah.

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2009 Mountain West Conference Media Days

Only one week away from 2009 media days! That means football is inching ever so closer to the September 3rd kick off.  The MWC is one of the few leagues to keep media days alive, and besides who does not love the cattle call of players and coaches being interviewed by the local media.

This is when the big awards and preseason media poll is put out, and with that happening July 21st and 22nd I will make my predictions for offensive and defensive player of the year and the preseason predictions.

With the team predictions readers will have to wait for another month for indepth previews, and it is possible the order will change if there are any injuries in camp.  As with the players of the year a top three list will be there and in order.

Offensive Player of the Year:

1. Max Hall, QB BYU Pretty obvious choice to put Hall in the top three, but the winner most likely will come down to the quarterback of the champ; well unless someone like Air Force’s Chad Hall from 2007 who put up monster numbers and won the award.

2. Andy Dalton, QB TCU Ditto for Dalton here, he may not put up huge numbers like Max Hall but he may put up numbers more along the lines of 2008 MWC offensive POY in Utah’s Brian Johnson just as long as TCU wins the league.  Dalton is athletic enough to get some rushing yards, but he needs to stay healthy to lead the team to a league title.

3. Omar Clayton, QB UNLV People may call me crazy but Clayton may be the darkhorse here.  Last year in nine games he did quite well and did a great job in almost leading his team past BYU.  He did have three games over 250 yards passing, a 9/2 touchdown to interception ratio.  Clayton was not asked to run a lot last year, but with running back Frank Summers gone to the NFL Clayton may need to run more.

Defensive Player of the Year:

1. Jerry Hughes, DE TCU: Last year he had 15 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, and two picks.  It might be hard to reproduce, but he is the best defensive player in the league is the favorite.

2. Robert Johnson, DB Utah: Johnson has a knack for fighting the ball and making defensive plays.  Last year he had four interceptions, three passes broken up, and then had 41 tackles with eight for a loss

3.Stevenson Sylvester, LB Utah: The last image of of Sylvester is his three sacks in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.  Even beyond that Sylvester was making plays all year.  He had 73 tackles, eight for a loss, and 3.5 sacks; he will be a player that opposing coaches game plan for in 2009.

Order of Finish

Again, not too much detail will be given on each team until late August, where I may or may not change this order.

1. TCU- Their offense finally has moved closer to the defense, and that is what puts them over the edge.

2. Utah- Defense is the reason Utah is here, and if they get a stable quarterback play they should finish right here.

3. BYU– Defense is why BYU is here, mainly their secondary that was exposed last year.  The offense should be fine, and possible could be even great if the coaches are not predictable like last year.

4. UNLV– The Rebels are my extreme dark horse to win the title.  They have the quarterback play with Omar Clayton and the receiver in Ryan Wolfe, but a running back and a better defense needs to step up.

5. Air Force – If the Falcons can find a quarterback they should be ok.  Currently Tim Jefferson is working on academic issues, and Asher Clark is recovering from an injury and is swtiching to quarterback from running back.

6.  Colorado State- The Rams are replacing a quarterback,  top two running backs, tight end, plus their top two linebackers are not playing in 2009.  The good news is that their offensive line returns and they will be the strength of the team.

7. San Diego State- They have the quarterback in Ryan Lindley, but they need to avoid the injury bug and show up on defense to improve.

8. New Mexico- This could be low because Rocky Long did not leave the cupboard bare, but it always seems that the Lobos never meet their potential.

9. Wyoming- The spread offense that Dave Christenson is bring over from Missouri will take time to gel in Laramie.  The defense should help them keep games close, but unless the offense learns the system it will be a long year.

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Making the Rounds: Super League?

The Daily Camera: This is the off season so news is slow, and wacky at times.  Wacky is where this article that The Daily Camera wrote recently.  Basically it says that certain schools should break away from the NCAA and make a super league that would be outside of NCAA affiliation for football:

“The new league would consist of eight conferences of eight teams each for a total of 64 teams. There are currently 65 schools in BCS conferences plus Notre Dame. We’d keep the majority of those, but toss out a few and add some from the other leagues.

Schools we’d toss: Duke, Iowa State, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Connecticut and Washington State. Schools we’d add: Utah, TCU, BYU, Boise State, East Carolina and Tulsa, giving us 64.

Eight conference champs and eight runners-up advance to a 16-team playoff. Four weeks — and more hype than you can imagine — later you have a national champion.”

This would be quite interesting and just a pipe dream and good for some offseason banter.

Dick Harmon, Desert News: Apparently everyone, including myself, is tired of this BCS talk and Congressional hearings.  Dick Harmon makes a good point in the Desert News about how the leagues need to prove it on the field:

“If the MWC could post a 6-4 or 7-3 mark against the BCS, it would scream a lot louder than hearings and debates between closed minds and articulate outsiders.”

Must agree with Harmon that the MWC and others outside of the BCS must keep winning games against BCS opponents and BCS games.

Pikes Picks: If a playoff you want then check out Pikes Picks who is doing the ultimate college football tournament that consists of 2,048 teams over the past 32 years.  This site will drown you with info and hours of time will be wasted, also the site owner will email the entire bracket as well.  If you are a college football junkie this is a must read and can hold you over until opening day September 3.

Matt Hinton, Dr. Saturday: The Doc rolls out mid major week over at Yahoo! and where else to start then the ultimate mid-major team with the 1984 BYU Cougars who were the national champions.

“Maybe the ’84 champs’ enduring influence is far-fethced, but today, it’s inconceivable that a team from an historically second-tier conference could finish No. 1 without beating a single team that finished in the final polls, on the heels of a two-week-old victory in the Holiday Bowl; in fact, Utah’s 13-0 run last year, which featured four wins over ranked teams, completely dwarfs the Cougars’ championship resumé, and the Utes didn’t get a sniff at a title in the polls or otherwise, despite a much better position re: one-loss teams from bigger conferences and a more impressive win in a marquee bowl — and Utah came closer to the top than any other upstart since the Cougars’ triumph.”

The latter half of the statement is true that BYU’s schedule that year is more comparable to Hawaii’s 2007 schedule then the 2008 Utes.  In my opinion the only a non-BCS team will get to the title game is if they start the season ranked in the top 15, play a super tough schedule, and a little luck.

Jeff Call, Deseret News: The Desert News is running an eight part series highlighting the 25th anniversary of the BYU national title team.  So far only two parts have been published, and the series runs daily through the end of the week.  Each article is long, but it is a good read if want to remember those memories.
“BYU still stands as the last team to enter a season unranked and win a national championship. The Cougars are also the last team from a non-BCS conference to win a national title in football.”

Desert News: BYU is up to 20 recruits for the 2o1o class and this could be their last recruit for the class.  Before we dive into the math the recruit is a biggie with Hawai’i recruit Kona Schwenke who is a four star rivals recruit who by some accounts is the top rated Hawai’i prospect this year:

“Coaches are starting to whisper 4-star defensive end Kona Schwenke … might be the best (2010 football recruit in Hawaii) of all.”

Twenty could be the max because of the missionary factor for BYU, so they need to keep track of who will be on scholarship once they come back, and conversely some of the 2010 recruits may not to take on a scholarship if they go on a mission before enrolling.

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Pixelation at Its Finest

Now this is a cool picture.

This was done by Jeff Holt who was wondering how to fill his 17-by-8.5 blank wall in his basement. The picture is done by using golf tees and then painting them the color to match.

The picture is of former Utah QB Brett Ratliff diving for a loose ball against BYU’s Cameron Jensen in the 2006 Holy War which BYU won 33-31.

Again this is just plain Awesome!

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Making the Rounds: All this BCS is Making My Head Hurt

No more promise are to be made of this being the ‘last’ or ‘next to last’ article on the BCS.  There is just too much content to ignore the issue.  Now I could just write a huge piece filled with thousands of words about the hearings.

This BCS talk has some legs still and hopefully this will, maybe, probably not be the last article on the BCS this off season.

The first news, which really was no surprise is that the Mountain West finally signed the new BCS deal. This was going to happen, because the league was no way to lose the BCS money or exposure if one of the MWC schools make it to the BCS.

Berry Tremmel, The Oklahoman: Being from Oklahoma Berry is quite objective, which is fresh when reading others work from people who write about BCS leagues or in that region.

This article makes good points with how the BCS has given more access to big money games, but is still unfair:

“This was a Utah pity party, nothing more. I’m a longtime supporter of the Mountain West Conference. I advocate an automatic BCS berth for the Mountain West, and I annually rip the NCAA basketball committee for short-changing the mid-majors.

“I’m not even anti-playoff, so long as it’s an 11-team playoff that includes all the conference champions. But Congress can’t fix anything, and the Mountain West has limited credibility in this case.”

Credibility is what the MWC needs, which is why they need to try to continue on their progress from last year

Insider Higher Ed: To some extent the BCS hearings were a big show for Orrin Hatch to try to prove that Utah and the non-BCS do not have the same access:

“In front of a standing-room-only audience – which clearly owed much of its size to the presence of more than a few sports-crazed Congressional interns – a pair of university presidents and antitrust lawyers debated the merits and legality of the Bowl Championship Series.”

This hearing was a lot about anti-trust and ethics, as well as people saying ‘not to offend anyone.’  This hearing accomplished nothing and was a big gran stand.

Dana Milbank The Washington Post: Milbank dives into the BCS hearings and goes in the angle of antitrust:

“In theory, an antitrust case could be made that the six athletic conferences that dominate the BCS have an unfair advantage over the five other conferences, which are not traditional football powerhouses.

But the argument has been largely confined to bars and sports pages, because nobody seems terribly eager to fight it out in court.”

This is the best way to bust up the BCS because the money distribution is not fair when a non-BCS team makes it to a BCS game.  However Hatch did not go in that direction, and instead said that because of the league Utah is in they never had a chance at a title.

Matt Hinton, Dr. Saturday: The big point in the hearings was when Harvey Perlman said that if Utah played Nebraska’s schedule.  Perlman made it seemed like it was oh so simple.

Not really since Utah has only four games to beef up their schedule, and getting teams four teams in the top 25 is impossible.

Here is what The Doc had to say on this:

Replace “the schedule Nebraska played” with “the schedule Florida played” or “the schedule Oklahoma played” or “the schedule [insert powerhouse] played”; Nebraska, specifically, is not important here. (A good thing for Perlman, because the Huskers haven’t beaten a ranked team since 2001.)

What is important is that of course Utah could not have played the schedule Nebraska (or Florida or Oklahoma) played. It’s literally not possible on multiple levels under the current system, which is precisely the issue Hatch and his BCS-hating colleagues are attacking here.

Even though if Harvey Perlman did his homework, the Utah schedule was rated as the 56th and only 18 spots behind Nebraska.  So the difference is not there.

Overall there is not much difference in was written about, and the media outside of Utah have been all over these BCS hearings.

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Previewing 2009 BYU Opponents: Utah State Aggies

Utah State has a new coach with former Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen, and all ready has the program looking in the right direction.  Utah State was actually able to score some points, but their defense was still lacking.

That should change under coach Andersen, well he was the man behind the Utah defenses for the last few seasons, plus Andersen is a great local recruiter and will bring in some talent.

The north endzone project that was started under former coach Brent Guy helped the program with better facilities for the athletes and increased the stadium size.

The 2009 Aggies most likely will not beat BYU, but they will be improved overall and their offense should be pretty solid.  The  offense does return nine starters from last years offense, which should help the team try to improve off of their three win season from 2008.

Passing Com% Yards TD INT
Diondre Borel 56.2 1,705 11 10
Rushing Carries Yards Yards Per Carry TD
Diondre Borel 179 632 3.5 5
Robert Turbin 106 485 4.6 8
Receiving Catches Yards Yards Per Catch TD
Stanley Morrison 26 291 11.2 1
Omar Sawyer 19 246 12.9 0
Xavier Bowman 9 101 11.2 2

They return four starters along the offensive line, and their top player is dual threat quarterback Diondre Borel who lead the team in rushing last year.  He will be able to create plays and make the defense more honest with Borel’s rushing ability.

The running back is Robert Turbin who was ok last year as a freshman, but should be improved with the four returning lineman.  Also, Turbin is a dual threat and in 2008 had twenty catches and two scores.

A big concern is at wide receiver because the Aggies need a go-to receiver.  All of the receivers have experience, but none stood out last year.  While there is no go to wide out but the top four were consistent.

The defense only returns six starters, but new coach Gary Andersen has a few playmakers back on defense; starting with linebacker Paul Igboeli who had 78 tackles, four pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a blocked field goal.

The defense will be faster then last year which will definitely help, plus the recruiting that Coach Andersen did in his short opportunity did a good job in gathering talent.

Even with the defense that should be improved they were 108th in scoring defense which was 34.7 per game, so they have a way to go.

Nothing should be expected over four wins for the Aggies, but that would be moving in the right direction, and be their best season in nearly a decade.

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Recruitin’: BYU and Utah

BYU has been the top of the 2010 recruiting class in the Mountain West and ranked thirteenth the NCAA according to Scout.  In the past week in a half BYU has verbal commits from four new players; which brings their total to nineteen.

Manu Mulitalo is a local recruit from West Valley, UT and is a three star offensive lineman.  One interesting story about Mulitalo is that he still doesn’t know all the schools that offered, but does know of at least three: Navy, Washington State and, of course, BYU.  Apparently his Dad was keeping that info from him.

However if you check Rivals, his list included USC, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, UNLV, and Utah.  

Here is what ESPN Recruiting has to say about Mulitalo:

“Mulitalo presently plays offensive tackle but lacks the height for the position that we like to see at the major level of competition. A move to guard better suits his physical and athletic abilities.

Flashes good explosion and playing strength but must become a more consistent every down player. His lower body flexibility, foot quickness and balance look good; displays explosion and initial quickness coming out of his stance.”

Bryan Sampson, tight end from Pleasant Grove high school and is looking to follow in the great line of BYU tight ends.  Sampson is a three star from Rivals.

Sampson is more of a pass catching, tight end:

“He will need to get into a college weight program and add serious bulk to his frame. He presents a solid receiving target.

He can catch the ball into his frame at times, but displays the ability to extend his arms and catch the ball with his hands. He displays adequate speed and runs solid routes.”

His 2008 numbers were not great with 14 receptions for 186 yards and two touchdown.  Sampson who is 6-5 and 210 pounds, which is not quite big enough to play tight end at the division one level.  Expect Sampson to redshirt a year to bulk up his weight.

There is not much on Hau’oli Jamora who is a defensive end committed to BYU.  He is from Hawai’i and his measurements come in at 6-2 and 230 pounds.

More info will come out once he is evaluated by Rivals, Scout, ESPN Recruiting, and others, and the only over school to be on his radar is the University of Hawai’i.

The newest verbal commit is Jordan Johnson who is listed as an athlete, but will most likely play defensive back.  Johnson has yet to be fully evaluated, but has speed with a reported 40 time of 4.5.

If that is accurate he will bring much needed speed to the BYU defense, and especially the secondary which has been suspect the past few years.

Their is an odd twist to how Johnson came to verbally commit to BYU.  Johnson is from Massachusetts and was first introduced to BYU from current Boston Celtic general manager Danny Ainge who also was a former hoops standout at BYU.

Johnson made his decision after attending BYU’s camp last week, and verbally committed shortly after.  A side note that may or may not mean anything is that Johnson is nor a member of the LDS church.

Now of to the Utah 2010 verbal class who have two commits over the past week and a half.  The first is dual threat quarterback, Brian Blechen.

Blechen seems to be a good fit to eventually run the Utah spread offense.  He all ready has good size at 6-3 and 205 pounds, and a quite speedy 4.6 forty time.  Again he has yet to be fully evaluated by Rivals, but ESPN Recruiting has a nice review of him:

“Blechen has great size, plenty or frame development left and he is a really good athlete. Good enough to be a factor with his legs even though we would not term him a dual-threat–more of a passer that possesses another dimension.

He reminds us of former Utah QB Alex Smith with the same type of late-bloomer upside. He has a tough, gritty, gunslinging demeanor in his style of play.”

Not bad being compared to Alex Smith, but here is some more evaluation:

“As a thrower, Blechen can be a bit green, but he has a smooth delivery and more than sufficient arm strength. Has shown flashes of being able to make any throw on the field with zip and power when he is consistent with his footwork and not throwing off balance.”

The current thing against Blechen is that last year he missed six games with a hand  injury, and has flown under the radar because of that.

The last recruit to be featured is Joseph Smith who has verbally committed to Utah.  Smith is a three star athlete from Rivals.

Smith is listed as athlete, but will be playing cornerback in Salt Lake.  He keeps the tradition of Utah having tall corners and Smith is 5-11 but slightly small at 185 pounds.

At the recent Los Angeles Nike combine Smith ran an electronically time 4.47 forty time, so Smith does have legitimate speed.

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