Archive for August 31, 2012

Rise and Fire

Statewide College Football Preview

Purdue Boilermakers

*This is the fourth of a four part series leading up to the start of the college football season.

This is another big year for Danny Hope and the Boilermakers. The Boilers are coming off a bowl game last season but the hopes in West Lafayette are to take that “next step”. The Leaders Division is primed for the taking with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for post season play. So on paper the Boilers would be in a 2 team race with Wisconsin for a trip to Indy and the Big Ten Title Game. But as we all know they don’t play the games on paper, Purdue will have to survive a tough early schedule in order to realize it’s dreams of a Big Ten Title run.

Offense: Purdue has reportedly settled on a starting QB and that man is Caleb TerBush. By all accounts TerBush took the job by the throat and wouldn’t let the other candidates have a chance to take it. So now it would appear the Boilers have the offense set and no matter who plays QB he will be helped greatly by a running back tandem that is expected to dominate once again. Akeem Shavers, Akeem Hunt, and Ralph Bolden will tote the rock in Ross-Aide. Bolden is coming off his 3rd ACL surgery of his career so the Akeem’s will have to handle the load while Bolden recovers. Once Bolden is back I don’t expect this unit to miss a beat. I’d be shocked if they don’t average close to or above 200 yards a game on the ground.  The receiving corp is young and athletic like always seems to be the case in Boiler country. They really need one man to take the job and become TerBush’s number 1 option, I think that man might just be Antavian Edison. The Boilers will have a balanced attack again this season and as long as they don’t play musical Quarterbacks then they should be hard to keep off the scoreboard.

Defense: The defense on paper should be pretty good, when you return 8 of 11 starters that is usually the case. But I will say the Boilers gave up 20 more yards a game then their offense averaged. That has got to change if they want to challenge Wisconsin for the Leaders Title. Purdue does have 2 of the best defensive players in the entire Big Ten in CB Ricardo Allen and DT Kawann Short. These 2 studs need for the other 9 starters to follow their lead and make the simple plays and allow for the more difficult ones to take care of themselves. Starting LB Dwayne Beckford was arrested and then thrown off the team, he could be a big loss but only time will tell. If the secondary just doesn’t give up a million big plays this fall the Boilermaker D should once again be one of the Big Ten’s best.

Key Player: For me the player that needs to be not just the best at his position, but also at being a leader is Caleb TerBush.  TerBush has the tools to lead the Boilers and Danny Hope where they want to go. For TerBush to have a great season the O-line will need to keep him upright but I anticipate this happening and with a very strong running attack behind him TerBush will be in a great position all year. He has to “manage” the game and keep Purdue in the game and then when he needs to make the winning play go out and make them. No pressure though Caleb, no pressure.

Prediction:

Rise and Fire

Statewide College Football Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

*This is the third of a four part series leading up to the start of the college football season.

This is a big year for Notre Dame and Head Coach Brian Kelly.  Kelly is entering his third season with an overall record of 16-10.  In some programs that would be an acceptable start to a coaching tenure, but at Notre Dame where the lights are brighter the coach’s seat gets hot quicker. ND is now fully committed to Kelly’s spread offense as they prepare for their opener in Dublin, Ireland against Saturday.  This appears to be the best team the Irish have had the past several years, but that may not bare out in the win column due to the grueling schedule they have coming up.

Offense:  Notre Dame is now all in with the spread offense.  After running a modified version the last two seasons, ND will finally line up with a spread QB taking the snap.  Everett Golson will be the guy to lead the Irish against Navy on Saturday.  Golson is a sophomore who appears to be the versatile player ND has needed to put into their offense.  According to all accounts and from the spring game he shows good potential both running and passing.  His running ability will bring back the threat of the read option that was not there with Crist or Rees.

Cierre Wood will be a big help to Golson in the backfield.  Wood will be the starter at running back (after serving his two game suspension).  He rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns last season.  Wood is a very powerful back who can operate in the spread or power formations.  His consistency will be needed to take some of the pressure off of Golson.  Tyler Eifert is the receiver that will get the most attention.  He is listed as a tight end but can flex out to the slot.  Eifert checks in at 6’6″ so he has great size to go against linebackers and safeties.  He caught 63 passes last year for 803 yards and five touchdowns.

Defense:  Every discussion about the Notre Dame defense will involve stud linebacker Manti Te’o.  Te’o is the senior leader of this unit and has lived up to most of the hype since his arrival in South Bend.  Last year he had 128 tackles with 13.5 of them for loss.  However, Te’o will need some help with the number of big scoring offenses the Irish will face this year.  A lot of this will come down to the play of the defensive backs.  Last season ND gave up some big pass plays in crucial times of games (anyone remember the night game at Michigan?).  Fellow Crew member Chris Kosiak believes help will come from cornerback Bennett Jackson.  Jackson is a junior who was looked at as a running back but has made the transition to defense.  He is a very athletic guy and the hope is that he will be disruptive and use his speed to be a solid cover corner.

Key Player:  This may seem like an obvious selection but to me the key player for Notre Dame is Everett Golson.  Coach Kelly has wanted and needed a dual threat quarterback to run the offense the way he wants.  A guy who is light on his feet to keep the linebackers honest, but who can also make some throws.  Kelly has started/played so many guys at quarterback in two years trying to find the solution.  Golson could be that guy and the key to a Notre Dame resurgence.  The Irish have an unbelievably tough schedule this year but if their offense is explosive they should be able to hang tough.

Prediction: 

Inside the Man Room- 2012 College Football Preview

It is finally here!!!  That is right, college football season is upon us and the Coach and I are getting everyone set for the season.  We look at all of the FBS football teams in Indiana as well as FCS member Indiana State.  Listen in and get ready for what promises to be a very exciting season.

Follow us on Twitter @thadvandeventer, @C_K_42, @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Statewide College Football Preview

Indiana Hoosiers

*This is the second of a four part series leading up to the start of the college football season.

The Indiana Hoosiers are coming off of a season where they were the only Division I FBS football program to not defeat another FBS program.  They went 1-11 in 2011 with that lone win coming against South Carolina State.  This is the second season for Head Coach Kevin Wilson and already it is a big one.  Last season was not only full of losses but also filtering through players in the program.  Wilson tried to weed out the people he believed were not fully committed to the program.  So this year will be key for them to move forward and buy into Coach Wilson’s motto of “Win Today”.

Offense:  Quarterback Tre Roberson started the last five games in 2011 as a true freshman.  He became the first true freshman to ever start a game at quarterback in IU history.  The Hoosiers success this year is going to be weighed a lot on the progression of Roberson.  He is not a prototypical drop back passer.  He only had a 57% completion percentage last year, but what Roberson lacks there he can make up with his big play ability.  Roberson has great athleticism and quickness which enables him to make big plays with his feet.  IU will be in the spread offense so there should be some gaps available for Roberson.

Tre will need the help of running backs Stephen Houston and true freshman Tevin Coleman as well as wide receiver Kofi Hughes.  Houston had a good year last year (802 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, and 8 touchdowns) and by all accounts Coleman is a Big Ten back even as a freshman.  Hughes is the most talented ball catcher the cream and crimson will be able to put on the field (that is after he serves his season opening one game suspension).  For IU to get some more W’s, they need the offense to be high flying and putting lots of points up.

Defense: As has been the case for many years, the IU defense was a sore spot.  Last year they gave up 448 total points which is an average of 37.3 points per game.  The defense has to be improved if IU wants to compete in any Big Ten games this year.  It is going to start with their front seven.  Adam Replogle and Larry Black Jr. are two senior defensive lineman that will be expected to set the tone.  Both are very talented and have had productive careers to this point.  As is the case, so many football games are won in the trenches so Replogle and Black will need to get into the backfield as often as possible.

What makes the defense interesting this preseason is the addition of two Junior College linebackers, Jacarri Alexander and David Cooper, who will start.  These two added with most likely Chase Hoobler in the linebacking corps makes this now a very formidable group.  Alexander and Cooper give the Hoosiers legitimate Big Ten size and speed that they have lacked.  Alexander to me promises to be a fan favorite.  He has an infectious attitude and should spread that throughout his teammates and Hoosier nation.

Key Player:  In almost every instance, one can pick the quarterback to be the key for his team.  I noted before how important the progression of Tre Roberson will be for IU, but I am going to go against the grain here to make the case that Jacarri Alexander is the key player.  I know that this is his first year with the Hoosiers and his first at the Division I FBS level.  Alexander though will need to be the leader of a defense that has to improve if IU expects to compete in the Big Ten.  He adds a lot just with his physical presence but the key here is his fiery side.  The passion and intensity (not to mention his ability as a play maker) that Alexander adds should help this unit that has been very weak.  How Alexander comes on as a leader and player will be the key to success for IU this year.

Prediction: 

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.


The Flying V

 

Sights and Sounds from the Coaches SoapBox: Notre Dame Football

 

 

So for the 3rd time this off season/pre-season member(s) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Team are in the news. But not for the Manti Teo type reasons, but for reasons of off the field stupidity. Coming off a 2nd season as the Irish starter Tommy Rees was arrested leaving a party with LB Carlo Calabrese. These 2 kids were doing what I did a lot at college and I’m not going to judge them. But I will say something my parents used to say to me in high school. “You are responsible for your actions once you leave this house, and they reflect directly on us!” So if you decide to go to a party and get drunk and then fight with a group of cops and then attack one of them. Calebrese then told the cops he had people who’d “Get Them!” Really, really smart Carlo!! Hello suspensions for the 1st game of the season and missing the trip of a lifetime to Dublin, Ireland. The parent in this situation is head coach Brian Kelly, and these poor decisions are reflecting on him!

So the bad decisions seemed to have calmed and then before Fall camp senior RB and returning rushing leader Cierre Wood isn’t there for “paper work” reasons. OK, I’ll say it BS!!! Something is up and then Wood returned to practice but was the only starter on either side of the ball not available to the media at all. So then 2 days ago word comes out he’s been suspended for 2 games for “unspecified team rules” which we’ve all heard a million and a half times. He did something stupid and I’ll leave you to figure that out. I have a source that told me what he did but I’m not at liberty to say so I won’t. But what he did was stupid, selfish, and ignorant for a senior leader of any school, much less Notre Dame. I know like with Rees and Calabrese that these are college kids who are making college kid type mistakes. Problem is these guys aren’t freshmen, these 3 are juniors and seniors. These are guys to be looked at for leadership, maturity, and knowledge of how to make it at ND. Not for the coaches, administration, and fellow players to look at with disgust. I will say maybe I’m living in a make believe world, but I don’t think I am. I look at these guys and shake my head and hope they realize what a great opportunity they have to be Notre Dame student-athletes. I wish I could just sit down and talk to all 3 but especially Cierre and say “You go to NOTRE “Freaking” DAME!! Notre “Freaking” DAME!”  It’s a privilege to wear the Blue and Gold, not your Right! It is not listed anywhere in  the Bill of Rights, Constitution, or the Magna Carta that says you should get to wear that jersey!  So my advice to Cierre is the faster you start remembering that the better off you’ll be!

These incidents are things the administration at Notre Dame will only tolerate for so long, this is not the school out East that had football coaches running wild, this isn’t the SEC, this is a place where academics comes first. Ultimately the person responsible for this is Brian Kelly and I feel he will get this addressed and get his arms back around this team. But if he doesn’t he’ll be the first ND coach to lose his job because his inmates ran the asylum!

 

 

 

 

Notre Dame opens this Saturday at 9am on CBS against Navy. The game is in Dublin, Ireland so remember to set your alarm clocks and have the Bailey’s ready for your coffee!

Like what I have to say follow me on Twitter @C_K_42

Rise and Fire

Statewide College Football Preview

Ball State Cardinals

*This is the first of a four part series leading up to the start of the college football season.

The 2012 football season is a big year for Ball State.  Coach Pete Lembo is entering his second season after a resurgent first year in Muncie.  The Cardinals went 6-6 last year and this year will be a good measure of how the program is headed under Coach Lembo.  As Coach Lembo said in an interview I did with him a few weeks ago, it will be a big key for his team to stay the course and continue to believe in the system.

Offense:  The Cardinals offense was good last season.  They averaged 25.3 points per game, but if they are going to have a better go of it here in 2012 that has to be better.  They return starting Quarterback Keith Wenning who has started the last 22 games under center for BSU.  Wenning threw for 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2011 which has made him a solid and dependable QB.  But as Coach Lembo said in our interview that Wenning “needs to go from a good quarterback in the MAC to an elite quarterback in the MAC.”

There to help Wenning should be the Cards biggest threat on offense- Running Back Jahwan Edwards.  Edwards is the backfield workhorse.  He carried the ball 178 times for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.  The best news about Edwards is that he is a true Sophomore so the expectation is he will be in even better condition for the rigors of a college football season.  The receiving corp will need to step up for the Cards and for Wenning this year after the graduation of Briggs Orsbon.  Orsbon was the leading receiver for BSU last year with 66 catches.

Defense:  This is by far the the facet that the Cards need the most improvement in from last season to this one.  BSU gave up an average of 34.7 points per game and were outscored 416-304 last season.  The defense gave up forty or more points in five games last year.  This is not just an aberration of a loaded non-conference schedule (that included a 62-0 beat down at the hands of Oklahoma) as BSU gave up at least forty against four conference opponents.

The one thing that could help in this case is getting more takeaways.  The Cards caused 17 turnovers last year (10 interceptions, 7 fumbles).  With a defense that is able to make those big momentum changing plays, a team can withstand giving up some yardage and long drives.  As the newest member to indysportscrew.com Dusty Sheckles pointed out in his preview, Linebacker Travis Freeman is the best candidate to change this.  Freeman had a big 2011 with 134 tackles, six of them for loss.  He will be the the emotional leader of that side of the ball for BSU and needs to be their biggest play maker as well.

Key Player:  In my estimation after watching a lot of action and talking to Coach Lembo this player is QB Keith Wenning.  He is a veteran guy now and has been around the league a few times.  As stated earlier, he had a good season last year but needs to step his game up even more for the Cards to compete in the West Division.  Wenning will be under some pressure to perform at a high level but does have some talent that can help him.  All and all though this will come down to Wenning being able to put more points and improving on third down where their conversion rate last year was just 41% (72-175).

Prediction:

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

*This post was updated/corrected on 8/28/12.

The Ponderings of Dr. Sheckles

A Look at the BSU Cardinals

You may have noticed that Chris wrote a preview of college football in our state.  He ran through the possibilities for IU, Purdue, and Notre Dame.  Not a sniff of Ball State football action.  It says something when your state only has four D-1 schools and you can’t get mentioned in a preview of notable programs.

Alas, that is the fate of my Fighting Football Cardinals.  Ever the forgotten middle child of the state, destined to go unnoticed.  However, I have a feeling that is how second year coach Pete Lembo likes it.  He wasn’t the splashy hire like Kevin Wilson, but he is a winner.  We will have to wait and see if he can build on the modicum of success he had in year one.

 

Offense:

Does he have a noodle arm?

Well, Keith Wenning will play QB.  He’s good, but not great, with an ok arm.  Wenning raised the bar in almost every way as a Soph.  The tricky thing will be the continued development.  My personal observations from last year were that he made a lot of safe, short throws.  That’s ok, I guess.  There is nothing wrong with being that type of quarterback, but it doesn’t exactly have the BSU faithful remember the good ol’ days of Nate Davis.  I hope I’m wrong.  I hope he the cannon to complete a few 40 yard bombs this year.

Holding Wenning back may be the receiving core.  Gone are Torieal Gibson and Briggs Orsbon.  What the Cardinals have this year is a bunch of short guys and a few tight ends.  None of them get their names mentioned.  They for the most part have been unremarkable.  Is this the reason we throw six yard outs on third and 10?

Jahwan Edwards may be the bell cow of this offense.  As a true freshman last year he continued the tradition of short yet stout backs at BSU punishing defenders.  While it is true he hit a bit of a wall late in the season, he is primed to have an even better sophomore year.  There are a slew of other backs behind Edwards who will act as change of pace and scat style.

The offensive line is a rather large group of smart and experienced chaps.  They will never be confused with Wisconsin but they seem to average about 6’5” and 300lb.  They should prove to be a nice anchor for this team.

Deffense:

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

For as long as I have watched this team we have had the same mostly crappy defense.  It usually consist of an undersized front four, a slightly slow yet hard working crew of linebackers, and a secondary that gets beat just a little too often.  Will that change this year, probably not…but alas hope springs eternal.

The defensive line will replace three of the four starters.  The lone remainder is junior Nathan Ollie.  He had middling stats, but at least seems to be a piece that works.  The rest of the line is a bag of question marks.

He looks mean!

The linebackers are the backbone of this defense.  If Travis Freeman duplicates last year’s numbers (134 tackles, 9th nationally) he will be as close to a defensive star as the Cardinals get.  Tony Martin and Kenneth Lee add more veteran leadership and play to this unit.  They will both have to improve on the effort they gave last year.  The coaching staff has high confidence in Lee and thinks he could become a force for the defense.

The secondary is where this train derails.  The safeties, Brian Jones and Chris Pauling, are just too young (sophomore and freshman) to not be a major chink in the BSU armor.  Jeffery Garrett and Jason Pinkston return at corner.  Pinkston is a former All-Mac player who had a subpar junior year.  His bouncing back to form would go a long way to helping this unit.

 

Special Teams:

Here is what you need to know.  Ball State covers kicks pretty damn well, punter Scott Kovanda has been on the team since 2004, (Ok, not really, but it seems like it.) and the kicker Steven Schott is ok at best.

Overview:

I am a pessimistic mess prior to every BSU season.  I’ll always assume they’ll end up something like 3-8.  However, I really like Coach Lembo and his system.  He knows this isn’t a two year turn around and is planning for the long haul.  This season could be a big turning point.  If they can get to a bowl this season will be a massive success.  Sadly, I just don’t see it happening.

 

Inside the Man Room

The Coach and I are getting set for football season to get here on the college and pro ranks.  We look back at the Colts visit to Pittsburgh and look ahead to Luck vs. RGIII.  Plus we go over a few college story lines.  Then the coach hits me with his Quick Hitters.

Let us know what you think @thadvandeventer, @C_K_42, and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Ball State Coach Pete Lembo

I get a chance to catch up with Ball State’s Pete Lembo to talk about the first few weeks of camp for the Cardinals.  He discusses the opener against Eastern Michigan and the tough non-conference stretch to open the season.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

 

Inside the Man Room

Coach and I hit the gridiron hard this week.  We look at the Colts upcoming preseason game and how injuries may affect the team moving forward.  We also kick off our college football talk by running through the four bowl subdivision teams in the state- IU, Purdue, Ball State, and Notre Dame.  Plus our new “Quick Hitters” feature where the Coach grills me with questions.

Follow us on Twitter @thadvandeventer, @C_K_42, and @IndySportsCrew.