Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Football Thoughts

Before we get into the analysis, let's look at an amusing anecdote from former BYU standout and Chicago Bear, Jim McMahon.  When McMahon’s high school teacher told him he would have to study the book of Mormon while at BYU, he replied, “That’s all right. I like fiction.”  Mormonism, you just got owned...30 years ago.

I guess we should start with the guy that everybody is talking about, Auburn Quarterback, Cam Newton.  The first thing that I noticed about Newton is an excellent ability to place his deep ball.  Kellen Moore and him both throw really accurate deep balls, but Newton's arm strength means that his gets there a little quicker which will be very advantageous when safeties are playing deep and trying to come over the top on the deep route.

Newton also has good pocket awareness.  He has a good feel for the rush, and that is the first thing that makes him so elusive for would-be tacklers.  Now, he’s not lightning quick about scanning the field, but with his athleticism, he can create more time for himself, and I do think that this skill will translate to the next level.  It is a little ridiculous watching guys try and tackle him, because they literally just slip right off of him.  If I was Oregon, I'd ask the refs to check his jersey for vaseline.  It's unnatural how easy it is for him to slip tackles.

For my complaints, the first one would be the passes he throws.  He only throws two balls, a deep ball and a dumpoff.  It's effective, but it is something to be concerned about.  I was paying attention to the game to see how well he threw crossing routes, and I don't think he threw one the entire game.  I understand this decision by the coaching staff. It’s much easier to read the sidelines, and he’s been effective doing it. There’s no reason to say that he can’t read zoning linebackers and complete routes over the middle; he just hasn’t done it yet.

With any quarterback not named Andrew Luck, there are going to be question marks about how things will translate to the next level.  Cam Newton has those like everybody else, but there's a lot to work with there, and right now, I'd probably rank him as the second best draft-eligible quarterback ahead of Arkansas's Ryan Mallett.  Also, with the uncertainty of the NFL Labor Agreement, I think Andrew Luck returns to Stanford next year, which gives Newton a great shot at being the first quarterback taken.

I’m not sold on LaMichael James, obviously has great speed and acceleration, but the holes are there for him without him having to create much.  That Oregon offensive line is extremely underrated in my opinion, and as much as the pace of the offense helps, everything starts with that offensive line.  He's ideal for the Oregon offensive attack, because he can get to holes quickly, and they run a lot of stretch and sweep plays to the outside which is a good run for a back like James.  Still, I have trouble imagining him as an impact back at the next level.

I was much more impressed with the running back on the other team in the Oregon-Oregon State game.  Jacquizz Rodgers is a nice back. He's not as fast as James, but he's very quick.  The thing that impressed me the most was his power in the running game.  He does a good job of keeping his legs driving which makes him a lot more effective between the tackles. 

Mikel Leshoure and Mark Ingram are the two best backs in this draft class. Leshoure has great acceleration and really explodes through holes. I hate to break it to Illinois fans, but he’s the reason Scheelhaase has been passable this year at QB. Without defenses having to completely gameplan to stop Leshoure, Illinois offense is really going to struggle.  Right now, I would lean towards putting Leshoure as my top back ahead of Ingram, but that could change with their teams' respective bowl games.

Switching over to wide receivers, let's look at South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.  He's a big guy who always uses his body really well to screen away the defender. I absolutely love the way that he attacks the ball and plucks it out of the air with his hands.  He does an awesome job of snatching the ball out of the air as opposed to letting it come to him.

Another wide receiver I have watched quite a bit of is Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.  I saw him as a fourth or fifth round pick, as I think he has all the qualities to be an excellent slot receiver.  He runs crisp routes and ran a wide variety of those routes in Iowa's pro-style offense.  Getting caught with marijuana in his system, he may have been able to slip by.  Getting caught with cocaine in his system means that he's probably not going to get drafted.  Getting charged with having a drug house means it's going to be tough for him to get a camp invite.  This was shocking news to anyone who followed him at Iowa, but to take the optimistic view on things, I believe he was the first athlete in the history of mankind to admit to everything right away which does show character.  As an Iowa fan, I hope he gets his troubles (both legal and personal) cleared up and some team gives him a second chance, because he does have the skillset necessary to succeed at the next level.

Finally, a question.  What says college football tailgating more than a drunk grandma getting her groove on?  Answer:  Nothing.  (Warning:  This may be the loudest video on YouTube)


P.S. If you haven't seen videos from EpicMealTime yet, well, you haven't seen how to properly cook yet. I will marry the first woman who makes me this for breakfast.

I'll then get it annulled, because I'll be drunk off pancakes.

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