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10 things I need to find out as a scout and a fan during the 2012 College Football Season

August 31, 2012

10. Are the high yards per carry backs legit. I’m a stats guy so when running backs have a season with an extremely high yards per carry average I take notice. Last year two players, Waymon James of TCU and Eddie Lacy of Alabama, had elite yards per carry (7.2 and 7.1 respectively). Both currently have 2nd-5th round grades on most scouts boards as no one is completely sure if these were aberrations or if they are actually top notch backs. Last season each of them was in a time share situation with another back who is no longer there so they should have plenty of touches and scouts should have their answer soon enough. Both backs could edge their way into the 1st round mix or fall back into mid to late round territory depending on their upcoming seasons.

9. What will happen to the suspended/transferred stars. Whether it’s Tyrann Mathieu, Da’Rick Rogers, or Michael Dyer there is an inordinate number of elite prospects who have gotten in trouble AND actually have to pay the consequences for it. Last year Mathieu was LSU’s MVP in my opinion so I was shocked that he was kicked off the team for his 2nd failed drug test. Few programs are that strict in regards to their star player (s) with TCU being a great example as Casey Pachall was suspended for only 1 game for a similar offense. It will be interesting to see if Mathieu goes back to LSU or enters the NFL draft, if Rogers goes back to Tennessee or enters the draft, and if Dyer blows up at Arkansas Baptist (going there after transferring from Auburn to Arkansas State and already getting in trouble at his new school) and stays one more season or struggles ala Bryce Brown at Kansas State and then enters the draft on a down note. All three players at one time had 1st round grades from me yet by the time they enter the draft they all could be on the outside looking in due to their off the field issues.

8. Who will be the #2 QB after Barkley. Some don’t have Matt Barkley as high as I do but I see him as a top notch QB who I had higher than RGIII going into last year’s draft. After that there is a bit of a choose your flavor theme going on with scouts as some love Tyler Wilson, some are high on Geno Smith, and others think Logan Thomas is the next big thing. Landry Jones is almost universally regarded as a damaged prospect at this juncture but even he could get back into the mix with a good season. This time last year I had an early 2nd round grade on Ryan Tannehill (only moved up to a Top 20 grade on my board but he went #8) and RGIII was even lower yet both ended the season as Top 10 picks. Who will be the next quarterback to make a meteoric rise up the draft charts?

7. Who is the next big play freshman receiver? Last year Sammy Watkins took the college football world by storm and helped carry Clemson to a bowl berth as they had one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. Two years ago it was Justin Hunter of Tennessee who averaged 25.9 yards per reception! Every year there seems to be some elite wideout who has the speed and charisma to be a star as a freshman in college football. Who will be next?

6. Are the LSU pass rushers legit? Todd McShay has a Top 10 grade on Sam Montgomery. He currently sits outside my Top 50 as I just don’t see the burst or pass rush ability I would like in a top notch defender and think he gets more credit, and statistics, than he deserves because he has had the best secondary in the country playing behind him each of his two seasons at LSU. That is no longer the case with Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, and now Tyrann Mathieu having left and I will be curious to see how he and Barkevious Mingo respond. I love Mingo’s pure athleticism so I think he’ll be fine but I suspect Montgomery will struggle. A good year from either could propel them into the Top 10 for next year’s draft as teams crave pass rushers yet don’t be surprised if Montgomery takes a step back in 2012.

5. Will Stanford stay strong? Last year the talk was will Stanford continue it’s improved play after Jim Harbaugh had left them for the 49ers. Now the discussion is will Stanford continue it’s improved play after Andrew Luck has left for the Colts. I had no doubts about Stanford last year as Luck is too good and teams with the best QB in the nation rarely do poorly yet I question how good Stanford will be this year. They aren’t just losing their star QB but their star TE, star LT, and star LG with that duo making countless huge holes for their running game. The Stanford D has two elite LBs in Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov but at times was gashed for big plays in their secondary and doesn’t appear to be improved in that area. Jim Harbaugh built the program into a consistent winner and Luck kept the thing going in Year 1 PH (post Harbaugh) yet I suspect the 11-2 and 12-1 seasons they’ve enjoyed the past two years are a thing of the past and the program will slowly recede back to the middle class of the Pac-12.

4. Will Texas finally bounce back? It feels like a lifetime ago that Alabama beat UT for the national championship yet it was only 2 1/2 years ago. Since then Alabama has gone 22-4 and won a national title while Texas has gone 13-12 and been in a funk ever since that game. As a fan I root hard for UT to continue their mediocre ways yet as a scout I doubt it will continue much longer as there is just too much talent in the pipeline on that campus. At pass rusher UT has 2 of the 6 or 8 best in the nation in Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. In the secondary the Longhorns have the #1 sophomore CB in the nation in Quandre Diggs and one of the best safeties in the country in Kenny Vaccaro. On offense the Longhorns have an improving, young offensive line with a number of mid to late round prospects on it and an incoming freshman RB in Johnathan Gray who is the most hyped running back to come out of Texas since Adrian Peterson. It will be interesting if this improved talent base solves all of the problems in Austin or if those same issues continue and some of this elite talent transfers elsewhere. Mack Brown has somehow continued to sign Top 5 class after Top 5 class yet another season or two of mediocre results will likely change that. I think this is a make or break season for UT so I will be watching them very closely.

3. Washington State. Enough said as anyone following the program at all can’t help but be curious how the 2012 season will play out. The team that has gone 8-40 the past 4 years despite doubling it’s win total each of the past 2 years (look it up, how weird is that stat?) finally has some hope as the Pirate Mike Leach has come aboard matey and has a few pieces to work with as Junior WR Marquess Wilson is coming off an elite season (82 rec 1,388 yds 12 TDs) and will be in the running for the Biletnikoff Award. If Leach can find a quarterback, and when has he not, then the offense should be in good shape and they could be an exciting team to watch as most of their games will end up as shootouts. The first one will be tonight vs. BYU and I’m excited to see how they fare.

2. Will all of Georgia’s highly rated pieces come through.Georgia has the best pass rusher in the conference (Jarvis Jones), the best non pass rushing linebacker (Alec Ogletree), the best safety (Bacarri Rambo), and the best quarterback (Aaron Murray) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I picked them as the best team in the SEC. Yet it is to quite a few and I understand why as LSU and Alabama seem to be impervious to attrition through the draft and when 4 elite players leave their program and become Day 1 picks they often times don’t miss a beat as a new set of high draft picks step right in and take their place. We shall see if that will continue this year as both LSU and Alabama have ravaged secondaries and I think Georgia is ready to pounce. If it all comes together they could be an 11-1 or 12-0 team yet it could also fall apart ala North Carolina in 2010 and 2011 who had one of the most talented rosters in all the country yet only mediocre results as a team. Will the sum of Georgia’s parts be greater or worse than they are individually?

1. Realignment. To me this is the biggest storyline of the year as TCU and West Virginia are the newbies to the Big 12, Missouri and Texas A&M (Whoop!) join the SEC, and the Big East had all sorts of additions and subtractions with the headliner being Boise State moving to their conference. How will the new teams do? How long will these conferences stay pat? Is the Big East going to be picked apart again when the 4 team playoff system takes over? I’m very curious to see how all of this works out and as an Aggie I can’t wait to watch my team go through the SEC schedule for the first time. 

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One Comment
  1. joe caseu permalink

    Samantha will be pumped to.hear you feel so highly of the Dawgs.

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