Day: August 26, 2010

Triple Option Attack: #9 Nebraska

Next up on the Triple Option Attack is #9 Nebraska

Music to listen to: Sick of Myself by Matthew Sweet

The Story: The Cornhuskers were one second away from winning the Big 12 title game last season. If they had a competent offensive unit, the contest wouldn’t have been close enough to lose in that situation.

The team returns most of the defensive starters accept for one literally big loss and hopes the offense can come around to contend for a Big 12 title in the school’s last year in the conference.

Last Season: Finished the season 10-4, including a shutout win over Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.

Offense: For years, the option offense behind speedy quarterbacks, powerful running backs and a burly offensive line was the norm for Nebraska. It won the team a few national titles. However, the Cornhuskers run the more modern West Coast offense but still rely on the run the majority of the time.

Nebraska returns its two top rushers from last season in Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead along with a majority of the offensive line.

The question is at quarterback. Incumbent starter Zac Lee was inconsistent and below average throughout all of last season and was the main cause of the offense’s shortcomings. Sophomore Cody Green and red shirt freshman Taylor Martinez may even challenge Lee for the position during the season.

Defense: The defense may be better overall this season than last year but when you lose the best player in college football last season, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, such a proclamation must be tempered.

The defensive line will continue to be the strength of the entire unit, led by tackle Jared Crick along with ends Pierre Allen and Baker Steinkuhler.

Eric Hagg will float between linebacker and safety and play at an elite level in both position. The secondary will be led by preseason All-America Prince Amukamara.

The Schedule

9-4-10 Western Kentucky
9-11-10 Idaho
9-18-10 @Washington
9-25-10 South Dakota State
10-7-10 @Kansas State (Thurs.)
10-16-10 Texas
10-23-10 @Oklahoma State
10-30-10 Missouri
11-6-10 @Iowa State
11-13-10 Kansas
11-20-10 @Texas A&M
11026-10 Colorado

If Nebraska isn’t 5-0 heading to its long-awaited rematch against Texas, then the squad has major problems. After the Longhorns, there are tricky road games at Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. The rest of the schedule should be manageable.

Most Famous Sports Alum: Its hard to go against the current athletic director of Nebraska, Tom Osborne, the legendary former head football coach and also served on the U.S. House of Representatives for Nebraska’s 3rd District

Celebrity Alum “Crush:” She went to UCLA but was born in Nebraska so I’m cheating once again but if it allows me to post a picture of a charter member of my Top Five, than darn it, I will do it! Congrats Gabby Union!

Prediction: 10-2

I don’t think that Nebraska gets its revenge against Texas and drops one of those tricky road contests. However, if they had a better quarterback, an undefeated season would be a long shot but possible. The QB can also cause the squad to lose one or two games it shouldn’t (I’m looking right at that Kansas State game).

Sports Inquirer Top-25 Preseason College Football Poll:

#25 West Virginia

#24 South Carolina

#23 Auburn

#22 Oregon State

#21 Arkansas

#20 Florida State

#19 Georgia

#18 North Carolina

#17 Georgia Tech

#16 LSU

#15 Pittsburgh

#14 Penn State

#13 Miami

#12 Wisconsin

#11 Oregon

#10 Iowa

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Gridiron Blitz: Philadelphia Eagles Season Preview

The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Philadelphia Eagles

Music to listen to: Dear God 2.0 by The Roots

My first outdoor concert was for The Roots during freshman year at Vanderbilt. The group performed on campus and it was awesome. Always enjoyed The Roots, even though I haven’t completely cosigned being the house band on Jimmy Fallon’s show.

Current State: Is it possible to lose arguably the best quarterback in the history of your franchise yet be even better the season after? That’s what the Eagles are trying to achieve with the trade of Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins.

With McNabb gone, the new quarterback is Kevin Kolb. I’ll get to him in the next section.

The Eagles are also trying to transition to a young team while staying competitive in arguably the most competitive division in the NFL, not an easy task.

Only a handful of players are even over the age of 30. The offense has plenty of talent but the defense has to be rebuilt this season as well.

Biggest Offseason Change: As you may have heard, the Eagles made a slight change in the quarterback position.

Despite what everyone says or believes, no one knows how well Kolb will be as Philly’s starting quarterback. Some have made the comparison to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay because both men had to wait around three years before finally getting the chance to be a starter. If Kolb ends up like that, Eagles fans should be happy however despite all of the praise that Rodgers has gotten, he still hasn’t lead the Packers to a playoff victory.

Uniform Grade: I actually preferred the old Philly uniforms with the lighter green jerseys and the grey pants that were worn in the 1970‘s and 1980‘s. Also, when you have a black jersey that looks similar to your dark green jersey, why have a black jersey in the beginning. Grade: C

Best Player: When he came out of college from Cal, I thought that DeSean Jackson would be a nice complimentary receiver, not the top big-play threat in the NFL. His eight touchdowns of 50 yards or longer tied an NFL record.

His vertical routes are valuable for the Eagles because they allow players like receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek to run underneath routes in open space. Furthermore, Jackson’s return skills gives the offense better field position to operate from.

Most Important Player: The easy answer is Kolb but I haven’t discussed the defense yet in this post so I’ll take cornerback Asante Samuel.

The Eagles have made some additions to the defense, particularly new linebacker Ernie Sims, but the pass defense failed Philly in numerous contests last season, especially in games against Dallas. If Philly wants to make a return to the playoffs, this must be rectified through Samuel.

Best Case: Kolb has a smooth transition to the starting role. The young playmakers on offense continue to develop. The defense rebuilds nicely. A surprise NFC East title.

Worst Case: Kolb plays average but not well enough in his first-full year as a starter. Opposing defenses force the questionable running attack of the Eagles to beat them. The defense still continues its struggles. Six wins

Coaching: The football marriage between McNabb and Eagles head coach Andy Reid mercifully came to an end this offseason.

Both men were valuable to each others career but also reached the peak of their collaboration together several years ago.

Reid now gets to work with a quarterback that he has groomed for the past three seasons. The two biggest critiques of Reid is that he is a below-average game clock manager and relies too much on passing in his offense. The first one may never be solved but the elevation of Kolb will force Reid to use more running plays to provide balance on the offense.

First memory of team: As a Giants fan, you dislike four teams. They are the Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins and Jets.

75% of my dislike goes to Philadelphia.

Great city, had some good times there, terrible fans.

I know that it would be hypocritical if I didn’t mention Giants fans as having annoying moments as well. I’ll give you that. We have moments of being overbearing.

However, that’s nothing compared to Eagles fans.

The main difference is that Giants fans have seen the team win championships. If you’re in your 30’s you have 1986, if you’re in your 20’s, you have 1990, if you’re in your teens, you have 2006.

Philadelphia’s last NFL title was in 1960.

If the Eagles find any success, their fans expect something bad to happen, and for the most part it has. If something goes bad for the Eagles, the fans start having self pity and expect to lose. They’re also loud and obnoxious about it.

Also, screw Randall Cunningham. There are only a handful of players I can say I truly hated at some point of my life. I hated Cunningham with a passion because he was getting so much hype but wasn’t a winner. Even the younger me could see that.

Reggie White was a beast though. Second-best defensive player that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime behind Lawrence Taylor.

Schedule: The Eagles will have to deal with the New York Giants, Dallas and Washington in the division.

The home games are against Green Bay, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Houston and Minnesota. The away games are at Detroit, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Tennessee and Chicago.

City Nicknames: I can make a joke that I’ve never felt love in Philly so we shouldn’t call it The City of Brotherly Love, but I won’t.

In high school, I did Model UN for two years. I know, shocking. The regional we went to was at the University of Pennsylvania in Philly. Had a good time. City was a little dirty but nice energy, walkable and excellent food, especially cheesesteaks. No complaints in my department.

Fantasy Focus: I like all of the receivers and tight ends. I would be skeptical of Kolb.

Overall Outlook: The Eagles are clearly a team in transition so this may be the year before big things happen. It really does come down to how well Kolb can adjust to being the starter. I’m not willing to make Philly the division champion with an unproven QB. However, an outside shot of making the playoffs is possible.

Final Record: 8-8

Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews:

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Miami Dolphins

AFC North:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Baltimore Ravens

Pittsbirgh Steelers

AFC South:

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston Texans

Tennessee Titans

AFC West

Denver Broncos

San Diego Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Triple Option Attack: #10 Iowa

Next up on the Triple Option Attack is #10 Iowa

Music to listen to: Shipoopi from the musical The Music Man written and composed by Iowan Meredith Wilson

And you thought I was only about alternative rock and hip hop. I just dropped a Broadway musical on you!

The Story: Up until last year, people were questioning whether Iowa would compete for a Big Ten title in the near future or even whether head coach Kirk Ferentz was still the elite coach that was shown during his early parts of his tenure with the Hawkeyes.

Iowa has rebounded nicely with a 9-4 record in 2008 and than an even better season last year.

The Hawkeyes have a really good defense but a questionable offense to compete for the Big Ten title.

Last Season: Finished 11-2 last year including an impressive victory over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The two losses came at home to Northwestern and an overtime contest at Ohio State. Both of those games were winnable and prevented the Hawkeyes from winning any championships.

Offense: The offense will be led by retuning starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi, maybe the most valuable player on the entire team. The Hawkeyes two losses came when he got injured during the Northwestern game and missed the entire Ohio State contest. He’s not an elite QB but gets the job done. Stanzi can cut down on his interceptions from last season, when he had 15 of them.

The rushing attack will be led by Adam Robinson, who had over 800 yards of rushing last season.

The questions are on the offensive line, which must replace three starters. The Hawkeyes run the ball the majority of the time so the receiving position isn’t a major priority for them.

Defense: The defensive unit will be stout, especially on the line.

The Hawkeyes will be led by potential All-America defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn and Broderick Binns. The defensive tackles, Christian Ballard and Karl Klug are also excellent players.

The linebackers group must be rebuilt but will have plenty of options between Jeremiha Hunter, Tyler Nielson and Jeff Tarpinian.

The Schedule

Sept. 4 Eastern Illinois

Sept. 11 Iowa State

Sept. 18 @ Arizona

Sept. 25 Ball State

Oct. 2 Penn State

Oct. 16 @ Michigan

Oct. 23 Wisconsin

Oct. 30 Michigan State

Nov. 6 @ Indiana

Nov. 13 @ Northwestern

Nov. 20 Ohio State

Nov. 27 @ Minnesota

Iowa gets Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, its three main competitors for the Big Ten Championship. That’s why some people have penciled them in for the championship. The non-conference schedule is ok, but beware of the game at Arizona.

Most Famous Sports Alum: I’m going to cheat a bit here but the most famous alum is Dan Gable, the legendary wrestling coach at Iowa. Technically, he is an alum of Iowa State but when you lead your team to 15 national title, 21 conference championships,, an Olympic gold medalist, and are known as the face of collegiate and amateur wrestling, you get this honor.

He has a frickin wrestling hold named after him?

Celebrity Alum “Crush:” I’m going with T-Boz, the lead singer for the music group TLC.

Prediction: 10-2

I’m calling an upset in the Arizona game. They will contend for the Big Ten title but a slip up will come in one contest, probably against Ohio State. The defense will be excellent but the offense needs major work.

Sports Inquirer Top-25 Preseason College Football Poll:

#25 West Virginia

#24 South Carolina

#23 Auburn

#22 Oregon State

#21 Arkansas

#20 Florida State

#19 Georgia

#18 North Carolina

#17 Georgia Tech

#16 LSU

#15 Pittsburgh

#14 Penn State

#13 Miami

#12 Wisconsin

#11 Oregon