2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 5
Who’s Not ...
At this rate, how long before the locals start cranking up HireRonZook.com? Alright, so Tim Beckman didn’t inherit an ideal situation, but the Illini are far worse off than anyone could have imagined. In its last three games versus FBS opponents, Illinois has lost by 31 to Arizona State, 28 to Louisiana Tech and 28 to Penn State. No one in the Big Ten has any business getting roughed up by the Nittany Lions, which got their four rushing touchdowns from lumbering QB Matt McGloin and former FB Zach Zwinak. There’s way too much talent on the Illini D for it to play as poorly as it did in September.
9. Army and Navy
Hey, at least the Air Force is maintaining some level of competitiveness in 2012, because the other Academies have been horrendous on the field. Army has lost seven straight games, and is 0-4 for the first time since 2005. Saturday’s loss to Stony Brook, the Seawolves first-ever against an FBS opponent, was the low point of Rich Ellerson’s four years in West Point. Navy hasn’t been much better, scoring just 17 points in its three games with FBS teams. The Midshipmen were shutout by San Jose State this past weekend, all but ensuring a second straight losing season. Army-Navy can’t come soon enough for these two programs.
8. Missouri QB James Franklin
At this time last year, Franklin had accounted for 11 touchdowns, en route to a breakout debut as a starter. Today? Just four scores from a quarterback who has looked tentative and unsure of himself since recovering from an offseason shoulder injury. Yeah, the Tigers won a game on Saturday, slipping by UCF of Conference USA, but the offense only produced two touchdowns. And the one that came from Franklin had more to do with the athleticism and drive of WR Dorial Green-Beckham than the arm of the quarterback.
After peaking with a 3-0 start that included an upset of Oklahoma State, the Wildcats have gone into a steady descent. Once ranked, Arizona got chopped down to size by Oregon a week ago, 49-0, and failed to hold on versus Oregon State in this past weekend’s 38-35 loss. Expectations may have risen too quickly in Tucson, the result of an exciting new head coach, Rich Rodriguez, and a potent offense. However, it’s now becoming clear that the defense lacks the playmakers to keep up with Pac-12 teams, and QB Matt Scott took this long to start for a reason.
6. Georgia Tech
Weren’t you an ACC Coastal Division contender just a few weeks ago? The Yellow Jackets have had their hive rattled over the last two weeks in losses to Miami and Middle Tennessee. The latter, a 49-28 implosion to a middling Sun Belt visitor, could cause heads to roll in Atlanta. Defensive coordinator Al Groh is in a particularly perilous situation. Georgia Tech has allowed 91 points in the last eight days, and Blue Raiders RB Benny Cunningham trucked the D for 217 yards rushing and five touchdowns this past weekend.
5. The TCU Offense
Sure, weather was a factor against SMU, but the Horned Frogs were sputtering with the ball long before the skies opened up over Dallas in Week 5. In three games versus the poor defenses of Kansas, Virginia and the Mustangs, TCU averaged just 23 points , a far cry from what’ll be needed to compete effectively in its new Big 12 home. QB Casey Pachall has been good, throwing 10 touchdown passes to just one pick, but the unit as a whole continues to struggle on third downs and in the red zone. It won’t be long before the Frogs get dragged into track meets that’ll force them to acclimate or perish against the likes of Baylor and Oklahoma State.
4. Michigan State
The offense, to be specific, has really tanked in East Lansing this season. A trendy pick not long ago to capture the Legends Division—or more—the Spartans were feeble at home in August and September. In four games at Spartan Stadium, the team has averaged a measly 15 points a game, losing to Notre Dame and Ohio State, and darn near falling to Boise State and Eastern Michigan. The O-line is getting schooled, and QB Andrew Maxwell has struggled with his promotion, all of which is beginning to impact Le’Veon Bell. The nation’s third-ranked rusher when the Buckeyes arrived Saturday, he only managed 45 yards on 17 carries.
3. The Future of Jeff Tedford
No one doubts that Tedford has been good for Cal on a macro level over the past decade. Heck, he rescued this program when it was at its lowest point. However, the Bears are stuck in a ditch that it hasn’t been able to escape for years. Mired in mediocrity, the school has dropped three straight, beating only Southern Utah this season, and is staring down the barrel of a bowl-less postseason. Saturday was a turning point in Berkeley. Cal had to hold serve against visiting Arizona State, yet got whipped instead at the line of scrimmage in a demoralizing 27-17 defeat.
2. Derek Dooley (vs. ranked opponents)
Call it the dirty dozen. Now in his third year in Knoxville, Dooley has faced ranked opponents 12 times, including Saturday in Athens. His Volunteers have lost each of those contests. Tennessee had its moments over the weekend against Georgia, especially on offense, but the D had no answers for QB Aaron Murray and young backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Eventually, the Volunteers will have to win one of these games, with Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina up next. If not, the likelihood of Dooley being in orange pants next fall plummets dramatically.
1. LSU on Offense
Zach Mettenberger does not appear to be the answer at quarterback that so many in Baton Rouge had hoped he’d be. Still, it’s not as if LSU hasn’t learned to thrive over the years without a dominant quarterback on its roster. The bigger concern for the Tigers has been the play of an O-line that’s been at the heart of the team’s recent struggles with the ball. Two weeks ago, LSU managed 12 points—and no touchdowns in the final 49 minutes—against a pretty average Auburn D. And then on Saturday, it had its hands full with FCS Towson, losing three fumbles, getting sacked four times and needing a late rally to pull away in the second half. With Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi State on the docket in the next five games, the Tigers are on the verge of getting exposed as overrated in the national title chase.
Who's Hot ... Week 5