Cavalcade of Whimsy
Nov. 3 ... Part 2
- Nov. 1 .. Part 1
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
What would the season have been like if players couldn’t leave early for the NFL? Imagine if the rules of 20 years ago were in place and players stuck around for all four years (and sometimes five). Of course, there would be some injuries among the returnees, but let’s assume that most of them would’ve been healthy and effective. What would the 2009 season have played out?
10. South Carolina would’ve been even more of a player in the East.
The Gamecocks wouldn’t be a major threat to Florida, but they likely would be 7-2 at worst right now and possibly 8-1 if the nation’s No. 3 pass defense had Captain Munnerlyn and Emmanuel Cook back in the secondary. The offense that has become more efficient and more effective after struggling so much last year would’ve had a nice piece to the puzzle to help out QB Stephen Garcia in tight end Jared Cook. The passing attack that’s second in the SEC now would’ve been far more dangerous with a field stretching tight end, and he might have been the difference in a shootout loss to Georgia.
9. Utah would probably be unbeaten. After what happened last year, there would be a major debate about whether or not this is a national title-caliber team.
Oregon handed the Utes their only loss of the season in a strange 31-24 game in mid-September. Jeremiah Masoli completed a mere 4-of-16 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, but the Ducks were able to win because LaMichael James ran for 152 yards and the Utes committed ten penalties and lost two key turnovers. Having two All-America caliber defensive playmakers might have made the difference in stopping James and getting more pressure into the backfield. Paul Kruger would be the playmaking end to take an average pass rush to another level, and would do even more for the plays in the backfield. Sean Smith would be the shutdown defensive back who would’ve made the nation’s No. 7 pass defense even better.
8. Ohio State would’ve given USC more of a push.
All the Buckeyes needed was a little bit of pop on offense and it would’ve beaten the Trojans on September 12th, and they likely would’ve beaten Purdue a few weeks ago (but USC would’ve had a key piece to the puzzle back … more on that in a moment). As rocky as Terrelle Pryor has been this year, how much better would he be if he had Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie to throw to (even though they were ignored last year) and Beanie Wells to hand off to? There’s no way the running game would only be averaging 187 yards per game, and the passing attack would be far more efficient and far more effective now that Pryor has become a bit more of a passer. The pass defense is already fantastic, and having Donald Washington back in the secondary would make it even more amazing.
7. Kansas State really would have a shot to win the Big 12
The Kansas State running game is fine, averaging 182 yards per game and ranking 32nd in the nation. The passing attack is dead last in the Big 12 and is sputtering along averaging 175 yards per game with just six touchdown passes. If only the Wildcats had a first round caliber passer to direct the attack … like Josh Freeman. The Tampa Bay Buccaneer was starting to come into his own as a playmaker before he took off early to the big league, and while he likely would’ve made a difference in the loss to Louisiana-Lafayette, he probably wouldn’t have been enough of a factor to lead the way past Texas Tech or Oklahoma. However, with Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska coming up to finish the season, he would’ve been the key to a likely run to the North title.
6. Mark Ingram wouldn’t be alive in the Heisman chase.
It’s not that Ingram wouldn’t have been productive, and he certainly would’ve had a big game or three, but to be in the Heisman race would’ve been tough with all the other great running backs to take carries away, like Glen Coffee, who was the team’s leading rusher last season with 1,383 yards and ten touchdowns. The star of the Tide wouldn’t have been Coffee or Ingram, but OT Andre Smith.
5. Iowa really would be a national title contender.
If Iowa is 9-0 right now with a lousy running game that’s averaging 125 yards per game, imagine how good the team would be if 2008 Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene was still pounding away. Let’s assume Jewel Hampton still would’ve suffered a knee injury in the offseason, but the depth wouldn’t be bad with Adam Robinson waiting in the wings. The offense would’ve been far more effective and QB Ricky Stanzi wouldn’t have had as much pressure on his shoulders.
4. Georgia would be Georgia.
Georgia is last in the SEC in rushing averaging a mere 110 yards per game. Certainly Knowshon Moreno would’ve changed that. The passing game is inconsistent and occasionally ineffective. Certainly Matthew Stafford would’ve changed that, and WR A.J. Green would go from having a good season to an All-America campaign. And then there’s the secondary that’s getting torched by anyone who can throw a forward pass. Asher Allen wouldn’t have done enough to make the pass defense air tight, but he certainly wouldn’t have made a difference. Having these three back would’ve almost certainly meant a win over Oklahoma State to start the season, they likely would’ve led the way to a win over LSU, that was almost a Dawg victory this year anyway, and they would’ve made the Tennessee and Florida games more interesting.
3. The Florida passing game would make more plays down the field.
While Percy Harvin was almost always hurt throughout his Florida career, when healthy, he would’ve been the answer to the problems with the deep passing game. The Gators are effective as is throwing the ball, ranking ninth in the nation in passing efficiency, but having a gamebreaker like Harvin back as a weapon at Tim Tebow’s disposal would’ve made an inconsistent offense special. Tight end Aaron Hernandez would be having an even bigger season with the safeties worrying more about Harvin.
2. USC wouldn’t have lost to Washington …
… but it still would’ve likely lost to Oregon. Washington was able to beat USC because Matt Barkley wasn’t under center, and while Aaron Corp wasn’t awful, he only threw for 110 yards and threw a key interception. Having Mark Sanchez at quarterback would’ve not only meant a win over the Huskies, but it also would’ve allowed Barkley to redshirt, develop, and hit the ground running in 2011. While the USC offense would be far better with Sanchez, he would’ve have been able to make any tackles against the Oregon offense.
1. Florida would be No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Texas No. 3, and Iowa No. 4.
Sound familiar? The only big change might be Ohio State in the mix if the addition of Beanie Wells and receivers Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline would’ve been enough to overcome Mark Sanchez and USC at home (and assuming there wouldn’t have been the meltdown against Purdue). Basically, the 2009 season might not look drastically different than it is now, but the overall quality of play would be far better with the top teams playing like the juggernauts they’re supposed to be this year.
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn’t feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- To all those trying to talk about and analyze Minnesota Viking RB Adrian Peterson: the nickname is A.D., as in All Day, like when he was a kid he used to run around all day, and not A.P. Calling Peterson A.P. is the sports analyst equivalent of having your fly open.
- Everyone focused on the one-handed touchdown catch by Florida’s Riley Cooper in the win over Georgia, but Tim Tebow threw an NFL-style ball on a play that will be shown over and over on draft day as evidence that he might be able to thrive at the next level.
- Air Force is quietly having an amazing 5-4 season. Remembering that Air Force is at a distinct recruiting disadvantage compared to other Mountain West schools, it’s impressive that the four losses have all come by a touchdown or less and two have come in overtime at Navy and at Utah. The first loss was at Minnesota for the opening of the new TCF Bank stadium, and the other loss was a 20-17 battle against a TCU team that’s blowing away everyone else.
- There was an announcement of the top 16 finalists for the Campbell Award, formerly the Draddy, given to the top senior scholar-athlete. Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller has a 4.0, but one of the top players from a BCS school was Colt McCoy with a 3.33 GPA. That’s it? A 3.33?! That’s not a knock on McCoy in any way, there’s nothing wrong with a 3.33, but out of all the candidates, including players from Hardin-Simmons, Augustana, and Tusculum, there have to be some top players who actually use all the tutors and all the advantages to hover in the high threes.
- In theory, it’s understandable why Kirk Herbstreit doesn’t give his pick during GameDay for the game he’s working that night, there’s no need for anyone thinking there’s any bias in any way. However, there’s a fine line the show is walking with the promotional ads using Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, and Nick Saban showing how buddy-buddy the coaches are with the GameDay guys.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Rasheed Wallace … Underrated: 1980 Oklahoma QB J.C. Watts
2) Overrated: Trying to remember the spelling of Nebraska RB Dontrayevous Robinson … Underrated: I.M. Hipp
3) Overrated: The Three Stooges ... Underrated: Brandon Spikes
4) Overrated: Dan Hawkins ... Underrated: The best college football TV analyst ever
5) Overrated: The NCAA trying to make an example of Dez Bryant ... Underrated: Being a top ten overall draft pick
At least I didn’t take Indiana with the points (and if you invested money on the Hoosiers last week, you know exactly what I mean) … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. Alright, I’m back to being my normal 1-2 after an aberration of a 3-0 week, but Louisiana Tech came up with the backdoor cover and South Florida’s B.J. Daniels played out of his mind. I like these picks this week. I have a funny feeling about them, or maybe it’s the heartburn from the 19th mini-Snickers I’ve fired down in the last hour. … 1) Kent State -3 over Akron, 2) Oklahoma -5.5 over Nebraska, 3) Duke +8.5 over North Carolina
Week 9 Results: 1) Idaho -3.5 over Louisiana Tech (L, Idaho 35-34), 2) Florida -17 over Georgia (W Florida 41-17), 3) West Virginia -3 over South Florida (L, USF 30-19) … Record So Far: 10-16-1.
My Heisman ballot this week would be (if the college football season ended right now) … 1) Case Keenum, QB Houston, 2) Mark Ingram, RB Alabama, 3) Jimmy Clausen, QB Notre Dame
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault … even with my national brand name, hot start to the season, and fan base that makes me the New York Yankees of columnists, only 53,407 fans showed up to read my ramblings in the 65,000 seat Alamodome in San Antonio.
Nov. 3.. Part 1