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Old 08-31-2006, 07:20 AM
SanDiegoRon SanDiegoRon is offline
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Default 2007 Draft Preview - the 9/2 edition...

WHOA NELLIE – What a way to start the season…. Seriously, if you can’t enjoy these three games, you don’t like football…

Sat. 9/2/2006 – (9) CAL @ (23) Tennessee - 2:30 PST ESPN - This is an AWESOME OPENER!!! Both teams have huge aspirations for the season, and this game will set the tone… The Vols have to make a statement if they are to recover from a horrible 05 season – so losing at home is not an option… on the other hand, CAL feels they are a Top 5 team, and from everything I’ve read, they could be right... Given this national exposure - they simply can’t afford to lose this one… Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford had this to say about the upcoming season – “We’re very excited about this season,”… “We have a very exciting opener at Tennessee. I feel like this team has the ability to accomplish a lot. We have a lot of experience back on both sides of the football and a lot of skill on both sides of the football… Our main goal here is to prepare to see that we meet our full potential and we’re going to have a true test right out the gate at Tennessee.”

CAL – (for Tracy)
This team has grown up… there are only a select few teams with more speed among the starters… they have All-American candidates and conference all-stars on every squad... CB Daymeion Hughes, DT Brandon Mebane and LB Desmond Bishop will be among the best in the nation at their respective positions, and RB Marshawn Lynch deserves Heisman consideration beginning today...

The key question coming into the season - who is the starting QB - has been answered... From Cal announcer Joe Starkey: “My enthusiasm for this team is as high as it’s probably been, ever,… They have depth at every position. They have speed at every position…. The issue to me right now is, will the quarterback be dominant enough to carry this team to the very highest level? To me, that’s the only question.” ... In reading about the off-season workouts and recent two-a-days reports, I believe QB Nate Longshore, a redshirt Soph (broken leg last season) will direct this offense – he’s been everything they’ve asked for... We'll see at kickoff…

Offensively, Cal has transitioned to a modified spread with new OC Mike Dunbar… That’s interesting because CAL has been very productive with the featured back approach… I’ve read quotes from USC’s Pete Carroll that suggest he’s concerned CAL will run a greater variety of plays making it harder to defense them… Certainly, a steady diet of Marshawn Lynch will be on the menu, no matter what flavor of “O” they run… but they will get the rock into Lynch’s hands in every conceivable way (much like Reggie), cuz he’s that dangerous… They also have a number of speedy deep threats (DeSean Jackson, Robert Jordan and LaVelle Hawkins) that will force the safeties to play honest… On a “local note”, keep an eye out for San Diego/Mira Mesa's Markques Simas, he may be ready to live up to the high expectations… The O-line got much better when Andrew Cameron came back from injury and Duke transfer OG Tyler Krieg arrived…

Defensively, eight starters return to a defense unit that has matured… The D-ends are deep, with a talented rotation, and should have few problems getting into the backfield… On the interior Brandon Mebane, perhaps a 1st rd pick, is one of the nation's best tackles... At linebacker, they’ve got two freshmen All-Americans (Sophs Anthony Felder and Zack Follett) to play along with All-American hopeful Desmond Bishop... Cornerback was set with “my boy” Daymeion Hughes and Tim Mixon,… unfortunately CB Tim Mixon, a solid second tier prospect for the 07 draft, will miss the regular season after tearing a ligament in his right knee during a scrimmage… that’s a tough loss…

Cal expects to win the Pac 10 title and more... Yep, they’ve got a game at USC to worry about, and it’s likely to come down to Nov 18… but asked to comment on the season, Daymeion Hughes said “Our goal is the national championship”… This team is… loaded for Bear (sorry couldn’t help myself)….

And now, the O-star of the show...



RB Marshawn Lynch, Maxwell Award and Heisman Candidate…

Marshawn Lynch, Jr., RB, 5-11 220 4.46, California – In 05, 196 carries, 1,246 yds, 6.4 ypc, 10 TD, 15 catches, 125 yds… He's a speedster and home run threat… yet with his size, he can power for the tough yards… If he can stay healthy he's capable of cranking out 2,000 yards… He’s considered a premier back with breakaway speed and a penchant for shedding tacklers... In two years at Cal, he’s averaging more than seven yards a carry... Everything I’ve read shows signs that he’s preparing for a monster junior year… and with the relatively weak Senior class of RB’s – he's a viable 07 first rdr should he come out…

Andrew Cameron, LOT, 6-5, 320, California – Coach Tedford noted, “Andrew Cameron coming back is a big key for us. He wasn’t going to come back if he wasn’t healthy, but he’s back and participating in all the workouts now. He’s a guy that’s been in there playing for us. He can get in there and help the young guys and be a positive role model and leader.” Due to his injury, he doesn't have the bio - but they think the world of him... let's see...

Nate Longshore, Soph., QB, 6-5 233, California – as the bio is limited, here’s what Coach Tedford had to say: “Going into last season, Nate had a huge advantage because of his knowledge of our offense. … he’s a big strong 6-5, 235 pound quarterback who has a great arm and can throw all the balls on the field. “He can throw the deep ball very well and has touch on the short balls. He has a lot of zip on the intermediate balls. So we feel like with his knowledge of the game and his physical tools, he has a lot of potential to be a great player. I think the other thing we always look for in our quarterbacks is mental and physical toughness and we believe that he has both of those and that he’ll be a great leader for the team if he does win the job in the fall.” Over his career, Tedford has done very well with QB’s - he probably knows what he’s talking about…

The winner of the “I saw him first” award goes to: Mike Tepper, Soph., ROT, 6-6 335, California - Tepper, who was about to be a major player in the rotation last year before getting his ankle smashed by a car, had tremendous feet and agility. Per Tedford - “Mike (Tepper) practiced and trained through winter conditioning and played all through spring football working out all summer so he’s 100% and ready to compete.” Of note, he is a candidate for the NCAA’s new program for granting a 6th year of eligibility to football players that have circumstances outside the norm…

And now, the D-star of the show, and one of “my boys” this season… and this INT is one reason why...



CB Daymeion Hughes, 2006 Jim Thorpe Award candidate...

Daymeion Hughes, CB, 6-2 188 4.52 1-2, California – Hughes has been selected as a preseason All-American by seven different publications… I have watched the kid play for two years already and he deserves it…. In 05, 62 tackles, 5 INTs, 12 BPUs, 1.5 TFL… Currently, rated #2 by Scout.com, Hughes was first-team all conference cornerback in 05… Good size/Good speed – he just anticipates very well… He's an experienced DB with 118 tackles and 7 career INTs… He’s CAL’s lock-down corner and can stay with any receiver in the conference… It's early and I'm often wrong, but this draft is thin at CB – his stock will rise as a function of that…. his listed speed would suggest that he's not a blazer, but his coverage skills are outstanding - I think he could also transition to FS at the next level…

Brandon Mebane, DT, 6-3 305 4.93 1-2, California – In 05, 29 tackles, 7 sacks, 9.5 TFL… Currently, rated #2 by Scout.com and #1 by CFN… Mebane is a force at the point of attack... The first-team All Pac-10 defender finished with only 22.5 tackles last season, but 16.5 of those were behind the line of scrimmage, including 7.0 sacks... He's a DE in a big body with the quickness to get into the backfield… He was one of the best conference D-linemen last year even though he had an ankle injury and faced constant double teams... he would make for a nice 3-4 DE… He’s a candidate for a slew of defensive honors (Bednarik Award, Lott Trophy, Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy)…

Desmond Bishop, ILB, 6-2 245 4.63 2-3, California – Here you go ILB fans… in 05, 89 tackles (lead the team), 6 TFL… currently, rated #4 by Scout.com… He's a big presence in the middle at 245 pounds and hits like a ton of bricks... He's got great game speed and outstanding closing ability when he gets locked on to a ball carrier... hmmm, let’s see if he can shed blockers…

Nu'u Tafisi, DE, 6-2 265, California – in 05, 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 10 TFL… he tracks the ball very well and has up field speed, leading the team in tackles for loss... At 265, he’s got good size (4-3 DE) with a good motor and great quickness to the ball. Now he has to come up with more sacks... he’s on the watch list for the Hendricks Award...
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Old 08-31-2006, 07:21 AM
SanDiegoRon SanDiegoRon is offline
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Tennessee –

Well, speaking of a select few teams with blazing speed among the starters, this is another one of em… The good news is the RBs can fly, the WRs are even faster, and the line is bigger than many NFL fronts... Unfortunately, 3 of 5 starters from the O-line are gone, and losing six of the starters on the front seven force the Vols to rebuild, especially in both trenches...

Offensively - Former OC David Cutcliffe has returned to handle the offense – so that should be a positive… the continuing saga has to be the play of QB Erik Ainge… If Ainge can “get it”, the Vols could be back in the SEC title hunt.. but based on the reports I’ve read from the two-a-day scrimmages, this could be a very good year for the tailbacks... and on that note, the top three tailbacks have all missed practice time due to injuries… they are hoping Arian Foster, who’s proven that he’s capable of being a feature back (148 ypg), will be there when the gun sounds... they do have a bunch of O-linemen who can play several positions, but no one has locked down any, especially at center… fortunately there is a ton of experience and talent in the WR’s… and they’ve establish a ‘tude with Jayson Swain declaring they’ll be “playing with a chip on their shoulders” (for being dissed on the preseason All-teams)... they too hope, Ainge “gets it”…

Defensively – The “D” finished 6th in the nation last year, allowing fewer than 300 ypg, and 2nd against the run, allowing 82 ypg… Now they have to hope that their top recruiting classes, pay off ... recently, Coach Fulmer commented on the play of his young LBs - “I saw McCoy make some plays. Ellix Wilson has had a great camp. … Ryan Karl is all over the place… Adam Myers-White was really doing good…” long on talent, short on experience... that doesn't bode well against CAL's spread offense... Five players with starting experience return to the secondary, but it's just an above-average group...

The real overall concern, along with the new starters up front, is with size. This isn't a big DL, but it's very fast and full of talented prospects (that doesn't bode well against CAL's huge OL)... DC John Chavis remarked, “Our secondary really grew up last year,” ... “Now we’re going to have to do that with the front and linebackers. They’re going to have to grow up in a hurry. We can’t be sitting around and waiting with the schedule we’ve got.” ....

Tennessee All-American LOT Arron Sears said losing to California would be "devastating." And, unlike last year, they aren’t thinking ahead… but they will have their hands full today...



LOT Arron Sears, 2006 Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team...

Arron Sears, LOT, 6-4 338 5.28 2-3, Tennessee – Rated the #7 overall OL by Scouts, Inc – he is the teams Best Offensive player.. He can play either tackle or guard, but he's best and most useful on the outside (for the Vols)… They might move him around where needed, like last season against LSU, when he played at four different positions… He's strong, surprisingly mobile and has two years of starting experience… Sears is not considered an overwhelming force as a blocker, but his combination of outstanding size, agility and technique are what make him such an effective offensive lineman at the collegiate level... hmmm, we could use that kind of versatility…

Justin Harrell, DT, 6-3 305 5.09 2, Tennessee – in 05, 39 tackles, 2.5 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2 interceptions, 8 quarterback hurries… Rated #4 by Scout.com, named 2006 Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team… the third-year starter will have to be the new start of the line with his combination of quickness and size. The MVP of the 2005 Cotton Bowl he has to have another All-SEC season and has to be the anchor of the line from day one.

The winner of the “I saw him first” award goes to: Arian Foster, Soph., RB, 6-1 211, Tennessee – in 05, 183 carries, 879 yds, 4.8 ypc, 5 TD, 14 catches, 148 yds… he may have been the nation's best back over the final five games of last season ripping off games of 148 yards, 125, 132, 223 and 114 yards…

David Ligon, OG/C, 6-5 300, Tennessee - he'll be the starter at left guard after starting out this spring at center. He should be ready to shine after moving over from the defensive side to learn how to play on the offensive line. At 300 pounds he's big enough to be an effective run blocker.

Cory Anderson, FB, 6-2 275, Tennessee – in 05, 7 carries, 20 yds, 2.9 ypc, 14 catches, 147 yds… A true FB and one of the nation's best blockers… he won't get the ball much as a runner, but he can be a dangerous receiver on short-yardage plays... There are few better at doing the physical dirty work needed to get the ground game going. Shades of Lo Neal…

Jayson Swain, WR, 6-1 215 4.62 3, Tennessee – in 05, 27 catches, 380 yds, 14.1 ypc… Swain is a big, strong, physical receiver who was one of the team's most consistent targets last year... he wasn't a big playmaker failing to score a touchdown...

Robert Meacham, WR, 6-3 200, Tennessee – in 05, 29 catches, 383 yds, 13.2 ypc, 2 TD - is a raw prospect who has been slowed by injuries... If he can stay healthy, he has a chance to be special... He has fantastic athleticism and next-level speed, but he only caught one touchdown pass over the final ten games and disappeared way too often to be considered a number one target. He can make the big plays and the big catches. Now he has to make more of them.
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Old 08-31-2006, 07:22 AM
SanDiegoRon SanDiegoRon is offline
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Sat. 9/2/2006 – (2) Notre Dame @ (29) Georgia Tech - 5:00 PST ABC – Wow, one of my most anticipated games of the season is finally here… my reason for watching – can ND stop Calvin… We saw Sidney the other night, now we get the Jeff and Calvin show…

Notre Dame –
The slogan on the locker room wall reads 9-3 isn't good enough... A reminder from Coach Weis that the season won’t be a success unless the Irish play for the national title… Can a team with average corners, a suspect pass rush, and limited depth on any squad really be preseason #1… they certainly have the schedule to “get the points”… they’re on TV a ton (which won’t hurt, unless they lose), with a run of high profile games to start (Penn St, Michigan, Michigan St), tapering off in mid-season (with some cupcakes), and then of course the grand finale (USC)… 9-3 not good enough ??? … Exposure or Exposed ???



Charlie Weis - “At the end (of a scrimmage), I put the ball at the 24-yard line in the middle of the field and said, ‘Come back out here, Gioia.’” … “We all know he struggled in the spring game. The deal was: he makes it, we don’t run. If he missed, we’re running eight 80’s. So he goes to the line of scrimmage. I called timeout to freeze my own kicker. My own team was mad at me but then he drilled one right down the middle.”… “I think you have to practice them,” Weis said of pressure situations. “I don’t think you can just talk about them. You have to try to create as best you can without 82,000 people in the stands. You have to create those situations and be innovative. Let’s face it: it’s not the same. But it’s one of those ways that we’ve done it over the years.” …
- he’s always on the edge - leave NO stone unturned…

Offensively, the Irish will have to replace TE Anthony Fasano, but John Carlson and Marcus Freeman should fit nicely. They return four starters along the offensive line, all seasoned veterans… Staying healthy will be the key for that unit… Is there really any need to comment on their skill players… see below…

Defensively, they have 9 returning starters... they expect improvement from a unit that ranked 103rd in total defense last season (Ouch!!!)… They’re thin at the linebacker position, but the D-line has some potential NFL-ers… the secondary could be the Achilles, as the squad speed is an unknown… but they’re hoping that the top returning DBs are finally familiar with the defensive calls… they’ll have a good test today…

What is left for Brady to accomplish…



QB Brady Quinn, broke virtually every passing record in ND history last season, while completing 65 percent for 3,919 yards, 32 TDs and 7 INTs...

Brady Quinn, QB, 6-4 230 4.72 1, Notre Dame – Rated #1 by Scout.com and Scouts, Inc., Quinn has been a very hard worker from day 1 on campus… clearly, he’s benefited from the big Charlie Weis playbook, but he’s proved he can make the correct decisions and all the throws... size with a live arm and decent mobility… commanding leadership skills… If he had come out in 06, he may have been the second QB selected… now, it’s his year and he has a shot as the early favorite to be drafted No.1 overall… winning the Heisman would help… Quinn is the Irish career leader in passing yardage (8,336) and touchdowns passes (58)... will he break 100…

Jeff Samardzija, WR, 6-5 220 4.58 1, Notre Dame – Mr. Baseball, rated the top Senior wideout by Scout.com - he absolutely is a complement to Quinn and flourished last year when he broke Irish records for most receiving yards (1,249) and touchdowns (15) in a single season on 77 catches (16.2 ypc)… has rare hand-eye coordination… can make the tough catch in tight coverage… a potential 1st rd pick with good speed and great hands/body positioning…

Darius Walker, Jr., RB, 5-10 208, Notre Dame – In 05, Mr. Tablesetter who was very underrated… his total all-purpose yards: 253 carries, 1,196 yds, 4.7 ypc, 9 TD… plus 43 catches, 351 yds, 8.2 ypc, 2 TD kept the defenses from loading up on the wideouts and the middle of the field open... he had a quiet 7 100-yard days… He's very quick and tough… can run inside or out... he’s gonna make a fine pro...

John Sullivan, C, 6-4 302 5.05 3-4, Notre Dame – rated #5 by Scout.com… he’s a veteran who should be ready for the next level... He's smart, and savvy on his “reads”… last season, was a USA Today and ESPN.com second-team All-American and rated 61st on the ESPN list of the nation's top 100 players… can we use another C/OG??

Ryan Harris, LOT, 6-5 295 5.02, Notre Dame - a potential 3rd rd pick … a 4th year starter… on the verge of All-America honors… has been named to the 2006 Outland Trophy Watch List… Harris has started the last 32 games at tackle, the last two seasons at left tackle... He can do a little bit of everything well... He has mostly grown as a pass blocker and has become more consistent...

Tom Zbikowski, SS, 5-11 210 4.42 1-2, Notre Dame – In 05, 71 tackles, 5 INTs, 4 PBU, 1 sack… he currently has a lofty #1 rating by Scout.com, due in large part because he always seems to be around the ball... some mention him as a John Lynch with speed... leadership, good instincts, recovery speed and toughness set him apart… He's also an elite punt returner averaging 14 ypa with 2 TDs heading into the season... He brings the attitude to the defense... do we still need a SS that can return punts…

Victor Abiamira, DE, 6-4 270, Notre Dame - CFN has him rated as the teams Best Defensive Pro Prospect… In 05, 48 tackles, 8 sacks, 15 TFL, 7 QBHs… Now they’re hoping he can be more consistent… he’ll be returning from knee surgery that limited him at times this spring... he has the size/speed potential for 15 sacks... let’s see about his technique…

Trevor Laws, DT, 6-1 295 4.98, Notre Dame - another potential 3rd round pick… in 05, 33 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 TFL… A reliable run stuffer… a mauler with quickness... He's likely to see a lot of one-on-ones, with Victor Abiamiri and Derek Landri receiving most of the attention – let’s see if that great talent can breakout and be defensive star...
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Old 08-31-2006, 07:23 AM
SanDiegoRon SanDiegoRon is offline
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Georgia Tech –

ESPNs College GameDay arrives on campus for this one, and the key question will likely be – which Yellow Jacket team will show up… last year, the defense came up with some jewels in the wins against Auburn and Miami, yet lost to mediocre teams like NC State and Virginia, and then got schooled by Virginia Tech… Chan Gailey is hoping this team demonstrates a pinch more consistency, and with their sched, they could finish second in the Coastal Division... but they need more “O” and more “D”….

Offensively, 9 starters return including four on the line… there should be plenty of fireworks with QB Reggie Ball and all-world WR Calvin Johnson... But they have to find more “O” than the palty 05 average of 349 yards and 18.5 points per game…. They must find a second weapon to take the pressure off Johnson, and Ball MUST improve his accuracy... Perhaps Tashard Choice will be the guy to shine (Calvin thinks so), behind a line that'll be among the ACC's best…

Defensively, and on the flip side of the numbers – the “D” only allowed 318 yards and 20 points per game, but if my math is correct, 18.5 - 20 = ”L”… They absolutely have to get more “D” out of the secondary squad… unfortunately, they took a hit this spring when they lost starting safety Joe Gaston to a knee injury... (that does not bode well against Brady and friends)… The starting front seven should be solid with the line the strength thanks to a good mix of quickness, experience and depth… The LB corps is excellent with the starting trio of KaMichael Hall, Philip Wheeler and Gary Guyton...




WR Calvin Johnson, All-American... "my boy" and #1 pick…

Calvin Johnson, Jr., WR, 6-4, 235 4.45 1, Georgia Tech – rated All-American by virtually everyone, and recently named CFN’s ACC Offensive Player of the Year (without even playing a down), he goes into the season to prove great football players make things happen no matter what… He is after all, a marked man… He has all the superlatives you can list for a WR… and last year, it seemed that he had outgrown the college game… You scratch your head looking at his modest numbers (career: 102 receptions for 1,725 yards and 13 TDs), and then you watch him play… you will notice a LB underneath, a cornerback with a hand on his jersey and a safety over the top… while his numbers were down last season, he’s become a more complete receiver using his body and running better routes… everything I’ve read about him, and posted, says he’s a model citizen from a great family – that works well here in San Diego….

Reggie Ball, QB, 5-11 195, Georgia Tech – In 05, 182-379, 48%, 2,165 yds, 11 TD, 12 INT, 104 carries, 381 yds, 4 TD… for a 4th year starter he needs to step up or this will be the last year… He's small, inconsistent, locks onto one receiver way too often, throws way too many INTs... has a career completion percentage of under 50%... but,.... he has a knack for winning the big games and often pulls a rabbit out of the hat that saves the day... go figure... Not many QBs can say they beat Auburn at Auburn and Miami at Miami in the same season… does he have another miracle in him - we’ll see…

KaMichael Hall, OLB, 5-11, 230, Georgia Tech – the teams best defensive player, he’s been named Preseason First Team All-ACC and the #9 OLB in the nation by The Sporting News... In 05, 64 tackles, 4 sacks, 14 TFL, 2 INTs, 3 BRU… he is a do-it-all defender with the speed to be a good pass rusher and the quickness to be a solid pass defender... a 3 yr starter on the outside with the hitting ability to move inside if needed...

Kenny Scott, CB, 6-2 185, Georgia Tech – In 05, 56 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs, 1 TFL… a 2 yr starter, he has experience and good speed… was also named to the All-ACC first team by The Sporting News, which rated him the #8 CB in the nation... we’re likely to see him a lot today, as he’ll try to take away Samardzija…

Joe Anoai, DT, 6-3 280, Georgia Tech - was tabbed to the preseason all-ACC first team by Lindy's, which also named him the #14 defensive tackle in the nation... Athlon put him on its all-ACC second team but rated Tech's defensive line the best in the ACC...

And the “I saw him first” award goes to: Andrew Gardner, Soph., LOT, 6-6 290, Georgia Tech - a freshman All-American last fall, is a second-team All-ACC choice by Lindy's, Athlon and The Sporting News, which rated him the #17 OT in the nation… earned the starting berth at left tackle in spring practice… has gained about 50 pounds since enrolling at Tech… has good athletic ability and continues to add strength...
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Old 08-31-2006, 07:24 AM
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Sat. 9/2/2006 – (31) Arkansas @ (6) USC – 5:45 PST ESPN – On the surface, a poll of fans would probably list this game as a potential rout… Not so fast - this could be a dangerous game for SC… Arkansas had 12 players named to the Coaches' preseason All-SEC football team - the 12 selections were tied for the second-most in the league behind Auburn’s 14… the Hogs have tons of young talent, and they are not afraid to put them in there…

Arkansas –
This is a team headed in the right direction… there is now hope that by 07 Arkansas will be a major player again in the SEC race... Why?? When you play 17 true freshmen, they become soph’s & juniors & seniors… the hogs are young but have considerable speed… they’ll look to run the ball leveraging their O-line and RB’s… and hope their quality corners can shut down the opponents WR’s…. however, they draw SC today and they still play in the SEC (Alabama/Auburn/Tennessee/the other USC/LSU)…

Offensively - New offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was brought in to pump some more life into the offense, and to help “sell” top QB prospect Mitch Mustain on the ‘hogs... they believe they have a NFL-caliber QB in the freshman, but he’ll have to wait, as they’ve named redshirt junior QB Robert Johnson (6-2, 216) as the starter for this game… at this time, they have not decided to redshirt Mustain or play him down the road,…. So, the real focus will continue to be on one of the nation's best running games… now, add all 5 returning O-line starters and 2 RB’s considered one of the nation's best 1-2 punches, and the ‘hogs might just run wild…

Defensively - It's a fast defense that got better as last year went on, and now should be great as long as there aren't major injury problems in the back seven. 300-pound DTs Marcus Harrison and Keith Jackson (second-team All-SEC) should clog up the middle, but the ends (Jamaal Anderson) need to generate more sacks... The ‘backers have speed and talent led by All-SEC star Sam Olajubutu and Freddie Fairchild… Chris Houston leads an excellent group of corners, and the safeties should be better with lightning-fast Michael Grant moving to free safety.

And now, the Star of the show…



RB Darren McFadden, 2005 SEC Freshman of the Year

Darren McFadden, Soph., RB, 6-2 210, Arkansas - McFadden is coming off the best freshman season by any running back in Arkansas history after tallying 1,113 yards on 176 carries (11 TDs)... He averaged an SEC-best 6.3 ypc and was named a first-team freshman All-American... he’s only the seventh freshman to ever run for 1,000 yards in a season (joining Herschel Walker and Emmitt Smith)… he had five 100-yard games in his final seven outings... he can run with power and has an extra gear that makes him one of the SEC's premier home run hitters...If that wasn't enough, he proved this spring that he has the hands to be used more in the passing game. They are experimenting with him in the slot (ala Reggie), and we should see time there today in certain formations - he's that good and that versatile... He’s coming off a surgery which could limit his playing time (repaired big toe, which resulted from a fight he had at 4:00am at a bar)...

Felix Jones, Soph., RB, 6-0 202, Arkansas – in 05, 99 carries, 626 yds, 6.3 ypc, 3 TD, 8 catches, 100 yds, 12.5 ypc… the first freshman to earn first-team All-America honors in school history, Jones also earned first-team preseason All-SEC accolades as a return specialist... He finished second nationally in kickoff returns in 05, averaging 31.9 yards per return. That average was 6.3 yards better than anyone else in the SEC… he finished second on the team in rushing highlighted by two 100-yard games.. he's a bolt of lightning out of the backfield and will be used more in the passing game... Don’t we need a return guy???

There’s no question who wins the “I saw him first” award: Mitch Mustain, Frosh., QB, 6-3 205, Arkansas - In a year full of superstar quarterback recruits, Mustain stood out… has a rocket for an arm, and runs a 4.7 40… in one of the nation's most heated recruiting battles, the NFL prospect finally picked Arkansas (his High School coach, Gus Malzahn, is the new offensive coordinator )...

Marcus Monk, Jr., WR, 6-6 227, Arkansas – In 05, 35 catches, 476 yds, 13.6 ypc, 7 TD… Matchup Problem… the team's leader in receiving yards and TDs, he has the talent to be a star if someone gets him the rock... he has to stay healthy after missing time this spring with a groin injury.

Zac Tubbs, ROT, 6-5 335, Arkansas (XL/A) – Tubbs was the Hogs' starting right tackle in the first five games of 04 before suffering a season-ending injury in early October... the bug bit him again one game into 05... Before his injury in 04, he tallied 18 knockdown blocks and graded out at 89 percent or better in three out of five games… He's big enough to play guard, but if his agility is back, he's too valuable at right tackle to move…

Sam Olajubutu, LB, 5-9 229, Arkansas – In 05, 118 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 14.5 TFL, 3 BPU, 10 QBHs… finished third in the SEC in tackles in 05… He was an honorable mention All-American last season and is on preseason watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy and the 2006 Nagurski Trophy given to the nation's best defensive player… he has unlimited range, is always around the ball, is a sure-thing open field tackler, a teeth-rattling hitter, and has tuned himself into pass rusher with an attitude... he’ll be comin today…

Marcus Harrison, Jr., DT, 6-3 315, Arkansas – listed by CFN as the teams best pro prospect, in 05 he had 37 tackles, 1 sack, 5 TFL, 15 QBHs… He had a huge spring and appears on the verge of big things. He's more a natural tackle after moving over from end, yet maintained his pass rushing technique…

Keith Jackson, DT, 6-0 285, Arkansas - was named to the second team after a dominating 05 season… He had 74 tackles to rank fourth on the team, and second in the SEC among defensive linemen… Jackson also posted 6.5 TFL (-32 yards), a team-best three fumble recoveries and six quarterback hurries.

Chris Houston, Jr., CB, 5-11 178, Arkansas – In 05, 20 tackles, 1 TFL, 8 PBU - Houston is on the verge of being an All-SEC star. His stats weren't that great because no one threw his way, but he's a dangerous corner who'll match up on everyone's number one target. He's a great athlete who can run with anyone... gonna find out….

Matterral Richardson, Jr., CB, 6-0 193, Arkansas – In 05, 44 tackles, 1 sack, 6 PBU, 1 QBH… With the best all-around skills of all the corners, Richardson should be in for a huge season. He hits like a safety, but he occasionally covers like one and has to be more consistent…

That's a lot of talent – so, who will step up...
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Old 08-31-2006, 07:25 AM
SanDiegoRon SanDiegoRon is offline
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***

USC –

Speaking of a lot of talent…. how can you lose so much talent to the NFL and expect to win – by having the best recruiting class in the country two years in a row… the Trojans are positioned for yet another national title appearance thanks to great coaching, great players, and a great schedule that's perfect for racking up BCS points…

Offensively, will they achieve 580-yard, 49 ppg of last year… probably not, but with outstanding WRs, a very good O-line and some very exciting high school All-Americans at tailback - they may not be far off the pace... As for QB - Booty/Sanchez, Sanchez/Booty... not sure yet...

Defensively, what the "D" lacks in overall experience it makes up for in ridiculous talent and athleticism... a very solid defensive front 7 should help the goal of playing for the title again, and the ‘backers may be the best in America… the key may be the return of former DC Nick Holt, who’ll add the leadership and direction...



WR Dwayne Jarrett, All-American...

Dwayne Jarrett, Jr., WR, 6-5 210 4.57 1, USC - Statistically, he was the best wide receiver in America last year, with 91 catches, 1,274 yds, 14 ypc, and a nation leading 16 TDs… He can do it all with too much size for most college corners and too much athleticism to be nullified from a double team... Jarrett has great hands, the ability to make the acrobatic grab and is consistent... He is also the go-to, crunch time receiver coming through with big play after big play… He has caught passes for 75 yards or more in 15 of the 26 games he has played in with a whopping 29 touchdowns in two years – No, that’s not a typo… The year of the receiver indeed - In the last few games, we’ve seen Sidney, Calvin and Jeff – so, who will be the first WR off the board???... I’ll say this - no one thinks Jarrett is the second coming of Mike Williams any longer – they know he’s better…

Sam Baker, Jr., LOT, 6-5, 305 5.20 1, USC - Baker seals off edge rushers as well as any returning tackle in the country... He's strong enough to play guard if needed, but he's too good a pass protector and too athletic not to be put at left tackle… Listed as the #2 O-Lineman (overall) by Scouts, Inc he’s likely to be a high first round pick… He hit the weights hard in the off season and has bulked up to 311 pounds..

Ryan Kalil, C, 6-3 295 4.98 2-3, USC - Rated #3 by Scout.com and #4 OL by Scouts, Inc, Kalil brings the attitude to the line... He bulked up a bit and should be in the mix for All-America honors as the anchor... He doesn't make mistakes... Kalil has a 26-game starting streak into his senior year... His technique, quickness and explosive short-area power combine to make this center a special player...

Steve Smith, WR, 6-0 195 4.55 2-3, USC – Unspectacular but steady, he is always a target on 3rd down… he’s coming off a 60 catch season for 957 yards and 5 TDs… Smith recovered nicely from the broken leg in 04, and demonstrated the same speed and quickness he had before the injury... He's a decent sized receiver and has some of the best wheels on the team…



John David Booty and Mark Sanchez

John David Booty, Jr., QB, 6-3 195, USC – In 05, 27-42, 327 yds, 64.3%, 3 TD, 2 INT - Booty's career hasn't exactly gone as planned… He was supposed to get a long look as the starter as a true freshman, but some guy named Leinart went off and won the Heisman and then decided to stick around another year... He has a big arm and he certainly knows the system, but he has to prove he can stay healthy and his decision making has to be spot on… It would not surprise me to see Sanchez get PT….

And the “I saw him first” award goes to: Stafon Johnson, Frosh., TB, 6-1 210, USC - He was named a 2005 Parade All-American, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Dream Team, ESPN 150, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, USA Today All-USA second team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, All-L.A. City Co-MVP and Los Angeles Times All-Star and on and on and on… He ran for 2,197 yards on 247 carries (8.9 avg.) with 22 TDs in 2005... - the camp pics of this kid were impressive - incredible body control - WOW!!! Reggie Who???

Brandon Hanc0ck, FB, 6-1 235 4.63 5, USC (X) – Unfortunately, he’s OUT for the season w/torn ACL… that’s a shame, as all the off season reports I read said he was in for a great season…. He was rated #1 by Scout.com...

Lawrence Jackson, Jr., DE, 6-4 265, USC – Listed by many as SC’s best defensive player, he's already a polished pass rusher making 10 sacks last season… he consistently comes up with big play (4 forced fumbles)... his size and quickness makes containing him an all-day job (13 TFL)… he has the strength to handle himself against the mauler OTs (46 tackles)... He has the speed of a linebacker in a 3-4 (6 PBU)… Expect All-America honors… he’d look GREAT in lightning Bolts…

Sedrick Ellis, Jr. NT, 6-1 285, USC – in 05, 50 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 8 TFL… Ellis is coming off a strong year where he stepped into Mike Patterson's old job and held his own. He'll need his quickness and great technique to be the rock on the interior…

Keith Rivers, Jr., OLB, 6-3 230, USC – Can this be the next great #55?? In 05, 52 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT… Rivers should be special this season… The superstar recruit of a few seasons ago handled himself well on the weakside, and now he's expected to take his game up another level and be more of a playmaker in the backfield using his speed size to be more disruptive...

and finally, a little light humor after a looooong day...



OLB Dallas Sartz...

“Girls were swooning room-wide, pointing and giggling as he dined shirtless…” ... Sunshine, is that you… (from “Remember the Titans”)

Dallas Sartz, OLB, 6-5 240, USC (X) - In 05, 8 tackles, 2 sacks, 2.5 TFL... The senior started off his career at safety before becoming one of the team's most reliable linebackers with 116 career stops going into last season... He was all set to be the starter on the strongside again and the leader of the inexperienced linebacking corps EDIT - (when he suffered a shoulder injury and was knocked out for the year (unconfirmed))... he'll be playing...

... Exposure or Exposed ???.... it's Gameday... Enjoy!!!
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Old 09-01-2006, 10:35 AM
SanDiegoRon SanDiegoRon is offline
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Cal vs. Tennessee - Keys to the Game

a. Lynch Mob – The poster boy for the word “underrated” is star Cal RB Marshawn Lynch. Here’s a guy that ran for over 1,200 yards in only ten games last year, missing a pair of games due to injury. Although RB Justin Forsett filled in admirably while Lynch was out, when Lynch returned, the Cal offense went to another level, even with the struggles they had at QB. However, Lynch is fully healthy and that’s not good news for the Vols. Stopping Lynch has two distinct facets. The first one has to do with the interior of the Tennessee defense, in particular defensive tackle Justin Harrell. The Tennessee run stopper is a monster on the inside and how well he can occupy the middle of the Cal offensive line will go a long in determining how effectively the Vol run defense slows him down. Lynch wants to hit seams downhill and wants to get his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage right away. Harrell’s ability to lock up the middle forces Lynch to have to bounce to the outside, giving the secondary time to arrive at the ball. That brings in the second aspect of stopping Lynch – the Vols had better bring some serious hat when they come to tackle Lynch. For a guy with explosive speed and burst, he shakes off defensive backs and linebackers who don’t wrap up like swatting mosquitoes. On the surface, tackling doesn’t sound much like a key to any game, but it actually is the key to every game, especially on a beast like Lynch. Tennessee won’t win this battle against Lynch and the Cal running game if Harrell doesn’t rule the middle and the Vols don’t tackle especially well in this matchup.

b. “Okay, who’s my…?” – Remember the movie the Waterboy, in the Bourbon Bowl when the kicker goes looking for the weak link to attack in the onside kick situation? Well, those might not be verbatim the words coming out of Tennessee QB Erik Ainge’s mouth, but the mission is still the same. Who’s wearing the target for Cal’s defense? It won’t be first team All-Pac-10 CB Tim Mixon, but it will be the men replacing him – Randy Bundy and Syd’Quan Thompson. Mixon tore his ACL in practice last week and is on the shelf for the rest of the season and with fellow All-Pac-10 corner Daymeion Hughes manning down the other side, the spotlight is easily found on Mixon’s replacements. Now, the flip side of the argument is whether Ainge and the passing game, under the guidance of new, and former, offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, can take advantage of Mixon’s absence. If Cutcliffe has done nothing but work on Ainge’s confidence and decision making, he should improve by leaps and bounds this season. But, it’s situations like this where Ainge just has to take what Cal is giving to him. Cal DC Bob Gregory can hide that duo of corners for only so long, so Ainge has to keep chipping away at that side of the field and force Gregory to do something, anything to counteract for the inexperience on the field at that position. Expect Cutcliffe to use multi-receiver sets combined with some motion to pull coverage and strength away from Bundy/Thompson’s side of the field , attempting to catch one of them in single coverage against one of the Vol’s physical receivers – Bret Smith, Robert Meachem and Jayson Swain. If Gregory wants to keep a safety tight to that side, Ainge will have what he wants all day long on the other side.

c. A Rook, a pawn and a Bishop – Since Jeff Tedford became the head coach at Cal, most of the attention has been on the QB, the offense, the offensive line. But, the defense in Berkeley this year could be the foundation for this team, but that will only happen with strong play by middle linebacker Desmond Bishop. The 6’2”, 242 pound rock hard hitter is not a guy that has garnered much acclaim playing on the Left Coast, but he’s as good a B gap to B gap player as there is in the Pac-10. He does have the advantage of playing behind All-American DT Brandon Mebane, but Bishop has thrived in his role as run stopper extraordinaire. Last year, he had 89 tackles last season and should be over 100 this season. His challenge this week comes in stopping another underrated, young star RB Arian Foster, a fellow Californian. Similar to Lynch, Foster has power and burst and will break tackles easily if you hit him with a chicken wing. Bishop can’t get tied up in the wash behind Mebane and has to play downhill as he scrapes to the football. Foster doesn’t cutback much – he’s a one cut runner who doesn’t dance looking for seams, he’ll just create his own. That being said, Bishop has one job on Saturday and if he performs that job, Foster should be held under 75 yards.

Conclusion – Cal QB Nate Longshore will be the starter and Tedford expects him to at least make it through the first game, as opposed to getting knocked out early as he did last season. Longshore’s receivers, namely DeSean Jackson, who’ll be a star very soon if he isn’t already, will see a great deal of single coverage with Lynch carrying the football 25 to 30 times. If the Cal signal caller can exploit that coverage with Jackson deep downfield, this Cal offense might be the best in the Pac-10. They won’t need to be that good right out of the chute, but the balance might be too much for Tennessee to handle.


http://cfn.scout.com/2/562426.html
SEC Game of the Week

California at Tennessee 5:30 pm EST ESPN Saturday, September 2nd
Why to Watch: Florida State vs. Miami is the marquee game and everyone will be watching Notre Dame battle Georgia Tech, but this will likely be the most important battle of week one. If the Pac 10 really wants to be taken seriously by everyone east of the Rocky Mountains, this is a must win for Cal. The Bears are better than the Volunteers. They have more offensive firepower, better running backs, better linebackers, and the all-around talent to be in the hunt for the national title. However, Cal hasn't won a really, really big game since USC half-assed it in the 2003 loss. Jeff Tedford's program could use a splashy victory to get the national respect it's been so close to cementing for the last few years. If you believe everything you read, Tennessee is being considered just a shade better than Temple after an overblown 5-6 season, but it has to come up with the opening day home win to ease the pressure off Phil Fulmer and his staff with the Florida showdown in two weeks. A win by the Vols would show that things are back to normal in Knoxville.

Why California Might Win: It's the better team. Tennessee can be back to being Tennessee and it still might mean the Bears will come away with the win. The jury is still out on Vol QB Erik Ainge and whether or not he can be a consistent enough passer to be a difference maker in a game like this. He'll be under pressure from the start with the Vol offensive line still a work in progress after trying to get tougher and more physical with a stepped up off-season regimen. The improvement might not matter with All-America DT Brandon Mebane and the the Cal line good enough to control the trenches. There's also rebuilding being done on the Vol defensive front seven. That's not a plus with Marshawn Lynch and the Cal running game certain to be solid right off the bat.

Why Tennessee Might Win: Cal's most impressive road win in the Tedford era came against ....um, uh ... there were a few nice victories against average Arizona State teams, and that's about it. The Bears have gone a mediocre 14-8 on the road over the last four years with most of the wins coming against the basement Pac 10 teams. Is the team ready to step up to the big boy table and win in a place like Neyland Stadium? This is still Tennessee at home, and it's still full of pro prospects and enough talent to beat anyone in America.

Who to Watch: Is Ainge really going to be better now that David Cutcliffe is the offensive coordinator? Yeah, but he'll also get help from an improved receiving corps that should struggle a bit after losing starting corner Tim Mixon for the year with a knee injury. There's no plan B this year if Ainge stinks, so if he's not on, the panic sirens will go off. ... Cal's backup situation is far better. Nate Longshore was finally announced as the starter on Tuesday with the broken leg suffered in last year's season opener fully healed. That doesn't mean he'll play the whole game with last year's starter, Joe Ayoob, improved enough to be in the hunt for playing time.
What Will Happen: This should be fantastic. Tennessee will play far better than it did over the second half of last year, but Cal will be too consistent and too strong on both sides of the ball with the ground game taking over late.

CFN Prediction: California 27 ... Tennessee 24 ... Line: Tennessee -2
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 5
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Old 09-01-2006, 10:39 AM
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Notre Dame vs Georgia Tech - Keys to the Game

a. Georgia Tech CB Kenny Scott vs. Notre Dame WR Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight – Scott is the most experienced corner on the Tech sideline and that means he probably is going to see plenty of #83 Samardzija. The Shark’s ability to get free from Scott in bump/press coverage is pertinent for Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn getting the ball off on time and in rhythm. If Scott can prove that he can lock down Samardzija or slow his progress off of the line of scrimmage consistently, then Georgia Tech DC Jon Tenuta can open up his defensive playbook to harass Quinn more often than not.

b. Notre Dame RB Darius Walker vs. Georgia Tech linebackers – Walker has to be a 100+ yard per game rusher this year to help the Irish offense avoid a plethora of nickel and dime coverage throughout the season. His slashing style is conducive to finding small seams and bursting up to the second level where he’ll meet the Georgia Tech linebackers – KaMichael Hall, Philip Wheeler and Gary Guyton. Hall, in particular, can fly and his ability to close quickly on Walker means that the Irish back has to make definitive cuts and get his shoulders square and downfield to be effective.

c. Georgia Tech OT Mansfield Wrotto and Andrew Gardner vs. Notre Dame DE Victor Abiamiri – Abiamiri hasn’t gotten tons of acclaim but might be the one major pressure player on defense for the Irish. He’s not blazing fast off the edge, but he’s quick enough to force the Tech offense staff to consider putting RB Tashard Choice to that side to account for him on the pass rush. Wrotto and Gardner cannot get beat on the high side by Abiamiri. If they can get him to step back inside, it can at least give Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball the opportunity to escape out of the pocket, instead of having to step up in the pocket. It’s all about buying Ball more time with the ball in his hands.

d. Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson vs. Notre Dame corners Ambrose Wooden and Mike Richardson – No question, the most pressure packed matchup for the Irish on either side of the ball. If there’s any knock on Johnson, it’s that he’s not going to run by defenders like Ted Ginn, who torched ND in last year’s Fiesta Bowl. As such, the one thing the Irish corners want to avoid is getting physical with Johnson. This Irish duo can’t get in a shoving match at any point – at the line of scrimmage, out of Johnson’s cut or on a ball deep downfield. They’re better served to play off and break on the ball, as opposed to slowing down Johnson at the line of scrimmage, where he can swat them away with his strength and size.

e. Notre Dame DT Derek Landri vs. Georgia Tech’s Interior OL – Similar to Abiamiri, Landri has gotten very hype and deserves to be recognized. Well, recognition should come in the form of double teams throughout Saturday night’s game from the interior of the Georgia Tech line. The Irish DT is wonderfully quick and beats blockers with his feet off the ball. His quickness off the snap is impressive and QB Ball will have to change his snap count to catch him anticipating. But, most importantly, the Georgia Tech guards must win the leverage battle and keep him from pushing them into the backfield on running downs. If they can’t win the one-on-one battle, then they’ll have to double team the DeLaSalle product throughout the game, freeing up the Irish LBs to have a big night.


http://cfn.scout.com/2/562835.html
Independent Game of the Week

Notre Dame at Georgia Tech 8 pm EST ABC Saturday, September 2nd
Why to Watch: Can Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson torch the Irish secondary that's still smarting from the 2006 Fiesta Bowl? Is Notre Dame WR Jeff Samardzija the real deal? Can Notre Dame QB/cover boy Brady Quinn make a big statement in the Heisman race? Is Notre Dame worth all the hype? Can the slightly-maligned defense play close to as well as the offense? Can Georgia Tech pull off an opening day shocker like it did last year beating Auburn 32-14? Do you need any more reasons to watch? Notre Dame's upcoming games against Penn State and Michigan might be getting more hype, but this could turn out to be the most dangerous September game. Georgia Tech has two weeks off playing Samford and Troy before starting up the ACC season, so a big win would mean a red-hot start and plenty of national respect.

Why Notre Dame Might Win: The last time we saw Georgia Tech’s defense it was getting shredded by Utah QB Brett Ratliff in a humiliating 38-10 loss in the Emerald Bowl. Brett Ratliff?!? Fine, so he's good, but he's not Quinn and Utah's 2005 offense isn't 2006 Notre Dame's. While the focus will be on the offense, Irish fans are more curious to see how the defense has improved. Defensive tackles Derek Landri and Victor Abiamiri are much better than they're getting credit for, and if they can put edge pressure and middle push on Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball, the Yellow Jacket signal caller will make mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes.

Why Georgia Tech Might Win: Three reasons why Tech can pull this upset: 1. Johnson is facing the same secondary that Ohio State torched last year. Unlike last year, Tech has other receiving options to take some of the attention away 2. ND comes to Atlanta with the hype machine clearly in tow. No one's expecting anything less than a run to the BCS Championship game, so the full weight of the national pressure is all on the Irish. Tech should be able to play loose. 3. Johnson is facing…oh, wait, same reason. Either way, Johnson is the game changer for GT and he must see the ball. Also, don't discount Tech head coach Chan Gailey and his ability to get his team ready for a big game. Charlie Weis might be college football's Really Big Thing right now, but Gailey has NFL experience and is good enough to match Weis move for move and adjustment for adjustment.

Who to Watch: Georgia Tech CB Kenny Scott has had a chance to face Johnson in practice for the past few years and should be more than ready to take on one of his toughest tasks this season: Samardzija. The Irish might have more weapons than the product of the Chicago Cub farm system, but it needs to get No. 83 rolling to have everything working effectively. ... Love him or hate him, but Ball is a big-game quarterback. Yeah, he sometimes couldn't hit water if he was standing at the bottom of the sea, but he's a four-year veteran who has seen more than his share of pressure moments and won't wilt in the national spotlight. His mobility, his Troy Smith-like mobility, could turn out to be the difference.

What Will Happen: Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta will roll the dice in an attempt to put Quinn on his backside for much of the game, which should make RB Darius Walker a major key on screens out of the backfield. The question for Quinn will be whether he can find the blitzers in the zone scheme and exploit the mismatches. He will, but it won't be enough. Georgia Tech's defense is far better than it gets credit for, while Ball will do just enough to pull off the upset. It won't be pretty, but the Yellow Jackets have the makeup to pull off the shocker ... or get beaten by three touchdowns.

CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 23 ... Notre Dame 20 ... Line: Notre Dame -7.5 (Note: John Harris does the ACC write-ups and predictions, and in the Staff Picks, selected Notre Dame. I make the final call on picks for the site and am nuts enough to stick with the preseason call of Tech pulling this off. No, we don't play both sides. - Fiu)

Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 4.5

O MY!!! GO CALVIN!!!
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Old 09-01-2006, 10:43 AM
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USC vs. Arkansas - Keys to the Game

a. DJ #8 – When a team is so powerful offensively or defensively, there are some players who ride the coattails of the stars to superstardom, while there are others who thrive when forced to be the star the next year. Follow? The point is fairly obvious when it comes to discussing USC WR Dwayne Jarrett. Playing in an offense that featured two Heisman Trophy winners – Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, Jarrett, for as good as he is, was never going to be the focus of opposing defenses at any point. Shoot, even on 4th and 9 with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter he wasn’t the focus. Regardless, critics will point to his success and think that he was a byproduct of Bush’s ability to slice through opposing defenses and former roommate Leinart’s ability to stick a ball through a pinhole to Jarrett. So, how good is he? Well, Arkansas is about to find out that with or without Leinart and/or Bush, Jarrett is going to be the force for this offense. The size, the speed, the hands – DJ is the complete package, and for that reason should command the attention that Bush and Leinart demanded last season. What makes Jarrett perhaps even more of a threat is the fact that Arkansas DC Reggie Herring doesn’t like to sit back and not be aggressive. In being aggressive, though, he puts corners Matteral Richardson and/or Chris Houston out on an island against Jarrett, which isn’t a great place to be on a hot Saturday night in Fayetteville. So, Herring has a decision to make – roll the dice and get pressure on USC QB John David Booty or give his corners help on Jarrett. Not an easy decision. Jarrett is so good at getting inside corners on deep slant routes and can escape the jam at the line of scrimmage in press man that choosing to go one-on-one with him has dire consequences. Hey, who really needs Bush or Leinart, when you have a DJ to spin on the 1’s and 2’s?

b. Peyton’s place – The fullback has seemingly suffered a cruel fate over the past 25 years, in particular since the death of the wishbone. Trust me that was a sad day when the wishbone fell out of vogue in college football. Regardless, most fullbacks throughout the nation have turned into glorified guards in the backfield or have been eliminated altogether. Then, there’s an undefinable entity like current Hog FB/TB/RB Peyton Hillis. Similar to Rutgers’s Times Square cover boy Brian Leonard, Hillis’s wide array of talents give new OC Gus Malzahn some options and some headaches. Headaches? Well, yeah, from the standpoint of how does Malzahn truly maximize Hillis’s running and catching abilities out of the backfield? How many touches can he get for Hillis? Is Hillis able to be effective with RB Felix Jones in the backfield together or will he not block well enough for Jones to be in the game together at the same time? That’s the bad news, but where Hillis may ‘save’ the Hogs is how much he can provide for this offense that loses perhaps the most explosive player in the SEC, Darren McFadden, for this game. Hillis won’t blow past USC’s talented and deep front seven like D Mc would’ve done, but he’ll provide more of a ‘different’ aspect to the offense with his power running. With the way that he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he helps stretch the USC defense further to the sideline, opening holes inside for Jones to exploit. Hillis doesn’t get a ton of touches in a game, but in this game, that may have to change.

c. The Return – Injuries are a fact of life for a football player. Torn ACLs. Turf toes. Sprains, twists and tears. Guys miss games, miss seasons and sometimes have their careers ended. USC OLB Dallas Sartz was one of those guys who suffered through last season on the shelf with a shoulder injury, and it was the best and worst thing to happen to this defense all at the same time. Sartz stepped into the lineup in 2004 and was a solid player in every respect. He was the last player they could afford to lose for a whole season, but they did in 2005. However, Sartz’s absence opened the door for guys like Brian Cushing to get some valuable playing time as freshmen. Now, with Sartz returning and Cushing and others as well, the USC linebackers have depth and experience which bodes well facing a spread attack like the one they’ll see on Saturday night. Sartz can do a little bit of everything – he can blitz off the edge, play in coverage and move in space – which makes him the perfect chess piece for USC head coach Pete Carroll to use against the Hogs. The loss of McFadden puts a little less pressure on Sartz and his linebackers, but if there’s one unit that must play well, especially after the Rose Bowl loss to Texas, it’s this group. But, with Sartz returning, that should happen on many levels.

Conclusion – Is it possible for a team to turn around a 70 – 17 defeat one to a victory the next? With McFadden in the backfield, perhaps, but not without him. The USC offensive machine won’t be clicking on all cylinders from jump, but stopping Jarrett and WR Steve Smith might be too tough a chore for the Hogs. Arkansas QB Robert Johnson has played well in fall camp, but it’s asking way too much for him to carry this unit against the USC front seven. It’ll be closer, but still a victory for the Men of Troy.


http://cfn.scout.com/2/562424.html
USC at Arkansas 8:45 pm EST ESPN Saturday, September 2nd
Why to Watch: How much has Arkansas improved since last season's 70-17 Trojan pasting of the Hogs that saw 736 yards of total USC offense? The bigger national question is how far has USC fallen since losing all-time greats like Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White. This begins a brutal September for the Trojans with three road trips and a home date against Nebraska, but this is the game many think screams upset and will be a measuring stick for the national title contenders. Arkansas, with a strong defense and tremendous ground game, started to look better and better over the second half of last season and is looking at this as the chance to get on the national map. Things might not have gone well for Houston Nutt and his program over the last two seasons, but it lost four SEC games last year by a total of 13 points, lost a 22-20 thriller against Texas in 2004, and beat the Longhorns in Austin in 2003.

Why USC Might Win: Everyone knows about the personnel losses USC suffered in the offensive backfield, but the pollsters and most of the preseason prognosticators forgot about one thing: there's more to a football team than a quarterback and a running back. The receiving corps is the best in the nation, the second team linebacking corps would probably start for about 100 other teams, the defensive line will once again be a terror in opposing backfields, and there's speed and talent to burn at almost every spot. As improved as Arkansas might be, the passing game, even with more three-wide sets and an attempt at more balance under new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, isn't good enough to pull off the upset if the Trojans slow down the ground game. However ...

Why Arkansas Might Win: ... as good as the USC defense might be, this is still mostly the same group that got steamrolled over by Texas and Fresno State. The Hog line is loaded with experience and should be among the best in the SEC. It's a big, physical group that should be able to push around the USC defensive front four as the game goes on. The pressure is all on USC to keep the train going after an epic three-year run. If this is tight late, can the Trojans come through as clutch without Leinart and Bush? This is a nasty road game for new starters to deal with.
Who to Watch: Mr. Booty, you're table's ready. New starting quarterback John David Booty came to USC as a 17-year-old and was supposed to start right off the bat as the replacement for Carson Palmer. He got dinged up, Leinart got the gig, and the rest is history. Booty has been around long enough to know the offense and be ready to hit the ground running, but there's no grace period on expectations with the NFL receiving corps he has to throw to and with likely NFL first day draft pick Mark Sanchez waiting in the wings. (By the way, Leinart won his first game as a starter in an even tougher road trip beating an Auburn 23-0 at Auburn.) At running back, Chauncey Washington and his injured hamstring will give it a go, but freshmen C.J. Gable, Emmanuel Moody, Allen Bradford and Stafon Johnson will rotate in.

What Will Happen: The Arkansas ground game is strong enough to keep this from being another 70-17 disaster, but USC is still among the elite of the elite teams with too much speed and talent on both sides of the ball for the Hogs. The Trojans have something else they didn't have last year; a chip on their shoulder. Expect a focused team that coldly and efficiently takes care of business.

CFN Prediction: USC 27 ... Arkansas 13 ... Line: USC -8.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Pants Off, Dance Off) ... 4.5
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Old 09-01-2006, 06:08 PM
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I love these threads dude, great information. I am so excited for this weekend. I got to see our beloved Aztecs loose a heartbreaker yesterday, but it was a pretty fun game to be at.
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