Senior Bowl Quarterbacks

Without Geno and Barkley, this game really takes a hit.  In the long run, only two or three quarterbacks per draft class end up panning out and I think Geno and Barkley are the 2013 class’ best chances.  Let’s see if any of the six Senior Bowl quarterbacks will make a splash in the NFL.  Here’s how I rank them heading into this week.

#1 Landry Jones, Oklahoma  (SOUTH)

Remember in 2010 when everyone was sky high on Landry Jones and thought he was a sure fire RD 1 pick?  Well, there’s good news and bad news to this statement.  The bad news is that Landry has not progressed as a player since 2010.  His growth has plateaued and he likely ‘is what he is,’ leaving little room for growth in the NFL.  On the other hand, the good news is that Landy Jones in 2012 performed almost identically to Landry Jones in 2010, meaning that he’s still a high performing quarterback, relatively speaking.  Away from his comfy Oklahoma environment, it  will be interesting to see how Landry performs this week.

#2 EJ Manuel  (SOUTH)

The good news about EJ Manuel is that he still appears to be growing as a quarterback.  In virtually every metric his numbers improved from 2011 to 2012, indicating that there’s still upside.  Perhaps with superior NFL coaching, the raw talent that everyone has loved will blossom into a star caliber player.  The frustrating part about EJ is that the production, in the form of high TD passing game performances, isn’t there.  Consider that in 2011 AND 2012 combined, he only had SIX meaningful games with 2+ TD passes.  Compare this with single season performances from guys like Drew Brees (8 in 2000), Tom Brady (7 in 1999), and Andrew Luck (7 in 2011) and it’s clear to see that something is awry.  Manuel is an interesting player, but I’d like to see more.

#3 Ryan Nassib  (NORTH)

In the same way that Landry Jones ‘plateaued’ between 2010 and 2012, the same could be said for Nassib.  He threw touchdowns at a lower rate, interceptions at a higher rate, and overall graded out as a low-ceiling prospect.  He strikes me as a serviceable backup, game-manager type, but others seem to think he’s top 50 material.  Like Ryan Tannehill, he seems to be a hot candidate for 3rd best QB contention, which could send him shooting up draft boards.  I’ll be watching him close this week to see if he ‘flashes’.

#4 Tyler Wilson  (SOUTH)

Wilson is REALLY hard to get a read on.  His performance–and the team– went from outstanding with Bobby Petrino in 2011 to an utter debacle in 2012 under John L Smith.  While his attempts/gm and completion percentage held relatively steady, he threw touchdowns 20% less often and interceptions 300% more often.  Unlike Nassib, Manuel, Jones, and Glennon, Tyler Wilson didn’t play in a bowl game.  With 7 weeks to prep for this game, he needs to impress or risk getting lost in the fray.

#5 Mike Glennon  (NORTH)

Glennon is a curious case.  He threw the ball 18 more times per game in 2012 than in 2011, completing fewer passes but completing them further down field.  This would indicate to me that he was playing catch-up a lot.  To further this theory, his interception rate was the highest of any Senior Bowl quarterback.  As an overall product, he seems to have slightly regressed from his 2011 form; not the direction you want to be heading in when the competition is only going to get tougher.

#6 Zac Dysert  (NORTH)

Dysert is my lowest graded QB in this game.  Despite entering 2012 as a buzzy mid-major prospect, Dysert failed to back up his 2011 performance.  Despite his pass attempts and pass-distance remaining steady, he completed 7 percent fewer passes.  His TD% held steady but his interception% spiked.  Given the disastrous state of the Miami University football program, it will be interesting to see how he fairs in this game.  With an improved supporting cast, will his talent shine through?  Or will the increased level of competition, compared to the MAC, cause him to struggle?

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Week 2 recap

John L. Smith, perpetual train wreck

At the end of last season Arkansas was a hot team with an emerging star QB and the potential to contend for an SEC and National Title in 2012.  Then, John L. Smith happened.  In the wake of former coach Bobby Petrino’s motor cycle accident and discovery of an extramarital affair, Smith was promoted to head coach as the Razorbacks had few other options in April.  Long time college football fans will remember Smith as the Michigan State head coach from 2003-2006.  His teams were notorious for their late season collapses and after three straight losing seasons, Smith was dismissed in 2006.

So what was my first clue that he IS NOT made to coach in big games and pressure filled environments? Check out his teams’ records in games played after November 1:

2003: 1-4

2004: 1-3

2005: 0-3

2006: 0-3

Total:  2-13

On Saturday night the #8 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks lost AT HOME to Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in overtime  34-31.  In the last two seasons, Arkansas won 21 games compared to only 5 losses, one of the best records in America.  By comparison, ULM has gone 9-15 in the past two seasons.  Before pulling this upset, ULM had the following results against BCS teams in Coach Berry’s two seasons:

2010:  24 pt loss to Arkansas

2010: 49 pt loss to Auburn

2010:  51 pt loss to LSU

2011: 34 pt loss to FSU

2011: 21 pt loss to TCU*

2011: 28 pt loss to Iowa

POOF!  Out of nowhere, after having not been within three touchdowns of a BCS conference team before, they pull the outright upset.  Is Bobby Petrino that amazing of a coach?  Maybe.  Probably.  But, on this night, the story was about a national champion hopeful losing a game, losing their edge, and further proving the incompetence of John L. Smith.

The Florida Gators would like your attention

Some years the national champion is a team that is highly regarded from week 1 and dominates throughout the season en route to their title.  Other years the eventual champion strings together wins, has timely clutch plays, and seems to have a magical way of getting the job done.  (See: 2010 Auburn.  2002 Ohio St.)  I get the sense that this 2012 Florida Gators team just might fall into that category of teams that find a way to win.

Last weekend in College Station the Gators crashed Texas A&M’s SEC-welcome-party.  After falling behind 17-7 in the first half, Florida grinded their way to a 20-17 win, playing excellent defense and making pointed half time adjustments.  They have settled on a quarterback and will be able to rely on their defense to keep them in games.  If they can get past an emerging Tennessee team on Rocky Top this weekend, the Gators have only one true road game between games 4-11.  This is an early story to keep an eye on.

Hear that?

That’s the sound of Texas and Iowa State off to solid (and eerily quiet) 2-0 starts.  For the Longhorns, the early success is expected and yawned about.  However, after going a combined 13-12 in the last two seasons, it’s encouraging to see them win like their supposed to against two respectable mountain west foes.  In eight quarters of football played, Texas has pitched a shutout in six of them.  They’ve turned the ball over only once and have run the ball well.  This week they play @ Ole Miss  (9:15pm ESPN) in what should be a solid opportunity for them to truly demonstrate their progress.

Iowa State on the other hand… (wait, seriously am I writing about Iowa State?)  The Cyclones are off to a 2-0 start with solid wins over Tulsa and Iowa.  Yes, those two programs might not be up to past performance, but they are two teams that I think Iowa State would have been thrilled to beat in recent years.  With those two wins under their belt, they get Western Illinois and Texas Tech at home (sandwiched around a bye week) to close out September, meaning that the Cyclones could enter October at 4-0.  The strong start coupled with two bowl games in the past three seasons and last year’s upset of OK State leads me to believe that Coach Rhoads has this program quietly going in the right direction.

The B1G Ten’s black eye

Penn State loses at Virginia… and boy did they ever LOSE that one

Iowa loses at home to Iowa State

Purdue loses at Notre Dame

Wisconsin loses at Oregon State

Nebraska loses at UCLA

Illinois loses at Arizona State

Ohio State lets Central Florida hang around

Michigan darn near loses to Air Force

Pretty brutal weekend for the B1G Ten, I’d say… But, hey, at least Northwestern beat Vanderbilt!  The conference isn’t doing itself any favors to shake the perception that the B1G Ten is behind the times.

PAC12 up and PAC12 down

HOORAY!  Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon State all pulled off big time wins against strong non-conference foes!  The PAC12 is king!  Call your friends!  Post to your facebook!  The PAC12 is back!!!!

Actually… hold on a second… what’s that?… everything isn’t peachy in the Pacific?

The  Colorado Buffaloes got beat at home by Sacramento State.  (The same Sac. State team that lost by 30 at NEW MEXICO STATE in week 1.  NEW MEXICO STATE!)  How?

The Utah Utes saw their 12 game win streak against Utah State come to an end over the weekend.

The Cal Bears held a measly 20-17 lead over FCS Southern Utah entering the fourth quarter of their game.  Hey, Bears, good luck with that noon EST kickoff next week against Ohio State.

Finally, the Washington Huskies got annihilated by 38 against LSU.  No shame in losing on the bayou.  Lots of shame in losing by more points than North Texas did in week 1.

That void in your college football weekend?

Geno Smith had a bye week.  Don’t worry.  When he plays, you will hear about it.

That’s what caught my eye in week 2!  What about you?