Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Every year since I was a young lad I bought the Phil Steele college football magazine. Why? Well it has the most information and Steele does the best job of predicting the outcome of the season. My favorite section is the sleeper section, where Steele predicts, well teams that are sleepers.
To put this into perspective Steele's #1 surprise team in 2002 was THE (gay) Ohio State Buckeyes, who eventually went on to win the MNC (mythical national championship) that year. In 2003 he had LSU, and USC. Finally, much to my disgust he placed Auburn on his surprise team list in 2004. My point is that Phil has a long history of being smarter than the rest of us.
What is the method to Phil's madness. Well, he looks at the number of returning starters, specifically on the defense and the offensive line.
Every year I think he's crazy, but every year he comes through. Which is kind of scary.
This years sleeper list:
4. Notre Dame
8. The U
10. Georgia Tech (flexbone!!!)
11. NC State
I'd like to look at #1, #4, and #10 (for shits and giggles)
PSU is an odd pick for Steele mainly because they only have two returning starters on the O-line in Stefen Wishniewski (So) who will be moving from guard to center and Sr LT Dennis Landolt. Defensively Penn State is always good, even when they're bad. This year they lose both DE's and will have to replace their entire defensive backfield. However, Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman will arise from the underground bunker where Penn State genetically engineers all of their LB's.
But even with all of this Phil is big on PSU, so much so that he has them #5 preseason. Why? Phil is banking on p---play----playmakers at Penn State? This can't be right? Well yeah, PSU has the best backfield combo in the Big 10 (11) with Daryll Clark at QB and Evan Royster at RB. Now going on this logic alone doesn't make sense. Let's look at the schedule shall we.
/looks at schedule
Ahhhhhhh now it's all clear. Penn State has four, yes FOUR away games this year with the first one not coming until the first week in October. Furthermore, they get Big 10 (11) thorns in the side Iowa and tOSU in Happy Valley. (which is a wonderful place). Non-Conference wise their biggest test is...uhhhh....Temple? Akron? Maybe Syracuse?
Yeah, so this all makes sense for Old State. They aren't loaded enough to go undefeated but one loss is very likely. Shit it may even not come to tOSU, some team like Illinois, MSU, or Iowa could bite them in the ass. But still I wouldn't call them a sleeper, more like we are a good team with a great schedule, hand us our Rose Bowl invite and we will get pounded by a USC team who for some reason also has one loss.
And you guys think Joe Pa is a fool. For shame.
Gahhhhhh, why do these assholes have to be a sleeper, and why did you have to put them at #7. Thanks Phil, now the entire Catholic side of my family talking about MNC's and Knute Rockne. Fine, lets look at them. First the O-line. This actually falls into Steele's logic because they return everyone on the O-line minus LT Paul duncan (SR) who actually has 12 starts under his belt. Nice. Experienced O-line. Great. Defensively they have 5 starters back, but also add an intangible with John Tenuta (TENUTA BLITZ!!!!!!!) as the DC. Other than that they have Armando Allen back at RB. Michael Floyd and Golden Tate at WR and the Emu who dared to be QB Jimmy Clausen.
Two reasons why ND may make some noise this year. 1. Schedule 2. Charlie's boys. Schedule first. Everyone is raggin on ND's schedule, but it's actually not THAT bad. Michigan will be better this year, and I think MSU is overlooked. Later in the year they play BC, at Pitt, at Stanford (season finale) and a UConn team that improves every year. Obviously they'll get destroyed when they get their anual Pete Carrol lesson in competing on October 17th. In short, it's not the grinder schedule that ND is used to, but it's not a joke either.
Charlie's boys may be the big intangible here. This year will be the first time Charlie's recruits will be uperclassmen. Furthermore, a lot of these guys have legitimate playing experience as freshman and sophs. i.e Golden boy QB. I think this is the big reason people are so high on ND.
If they go through the season with the one loss you could probably treat them as the equivalent of the Big East champion which means they'll either play an ACC equal or get shit on by some Big 12, SEC runner up. Personally I think they lose 2-3 and play in something like the Gator Bowl. Why? I just don't think they're that good.
I'm going to dive into a little football theory here. GT obviously runs the Flexbone, which is a triple option based offense consisting of Inside Veer, Midline, Rocket Sweep, Zone Dive, Counter Option and Option pass at its core. The only other teams running this offense are Army/Navy and a little with Air Force.
What's my point? This offense is contrarian. One explanation for GT's success last year is that the triple option is hard enough to stop in the first place and most teams only get one week to prepare for an offense that they play once a year. CFB is dominated by the Spread (whatever the hell that means these days) and singleback pro schemes. Shit even the "I" is radical in the current scene. My main point is that it can help a team like GT (who isn't getting blue chippers every year) to run an offense that is radically different than other teams. Soooooo some people will argue that teams will adjust to the new offense, which is true. However Johnson probably ran 35% of what he is actually capable of running. You should see the Voodoo magic he ran at Georgia Southern. To sum it up we have 2nd year in an effective offense, and now Johnson is recruiting players that fit his scheme.