What to Watch For: Five NCAA QB’s to Track in 2015

Sorry, been a long time since I’ve blogged. But, now that the desolate summer sports season has subsided, and football around the corner, let’s take a look at FIVE college quarterbacks to track this year.

ohio state qb

  1. JT Barrett/Cardale Jones, Ohio State

Right now, we’re not sure who will start at Ohio State when the season starts at Virginia Tech on September 7th. Ohio State has suspended several players, but losing top defensive end Joey Bosa to suspension could cost them their season opener.

Back to the QB’s: Urban Meyer is mum on who is leading the QB race, and analysts and scouts have been frank about who would win the job. Cardale Jones has a NFL-ready big arm with his deep ball, as his four-game stretch showed. But, JT Barrett has had more time learning the Meyer offense (he’s a sophomore) and is more mobile than Cardale. Here’s the stats for JT in his lone starting season:

SEASON CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT
2014 203 314 2834 64.7 9.03 80 34 10

Here’s a highlight reel for JT:

Echoing back to Meyer’s previous star QB’s at Florida and Utah, Barrett is probably the likely choice because of his mobility. Alex Smith ran for 631 yards and 10 TDs while throwing for 2,952 yards and 32 TD’s (only 4 picks) before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers’ top pick and has had a steady career in the NFL. Chris Leak and Tim Tebow were mobile QB’s, although Tebow was more of a power runner and Leak the more elusive athlete who had touch on his throws. You’d think that Meyer’s past history with mobile QB’s would sway his opinion, but Cardale’s numbers in his short stint as the starter speak for themselves:

SEASON CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT
2014 56 92 860 60.9 9.35 50 7 2

Can’t forget about the game tape/highlight reel:

Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel, in their podcast “The Audible” (which I highly recommend listening to), brought up how Cardale’s big personality is fun during the offseason, but what happens if he gets benched in favor of JT? That is something to watch for.

2. Malik Zaire, Notre Dame

Zaire’s rise up the depth chart validated the scouting rankings for him coming out of high school, and it pushed 2013 national championship game starter Everett Golston to transfer to Florida State. Feldman talked about how Golston was more reserved, but Zaire’s charisma and chatty nature wins over the Notre Dame locker room. It reminds me of Jameis Winston, legal issues aside, and how a charismatic and confident leader can carry a team that has injuries and flaws. Here’s what Zaire did last year, but mind you, it’s one blowout loss and the other is a blowout win in a bowl game:

SEASON CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT SACK
2014 21 35 266 60.0 7.60 49 1 0 1

The guy has great potential:

3. Jeff Rosen, UCLA

Rosen is another highly-touted recruit and became the starter this past week. But, he wasn’t a five-star recruit for nothing based on his passing numbers alone:

Year GP C Att Yds C% Avg Y/G C/G TD TD/G Int Lng QB Rate
Varsity Totals 43 525 840 8473 .625 16.1 197.0 12.2 90 2.1 20 95 122.0

He’s expected to produce a lot this year at UCLA, but he has to fill the shoes of Brett Hundley, who is sitting behind Aaron Rodgers in the NFL. Here’s a highlight reel from high school:

4. Jared Goff, Cal

Bleacher Report recently published an article asking whether Goff is the second coming of Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl-winning QB with the Green Bay Packers. Goff’s numbers were pretty good, but it is yet to be seen whether he can carry Cal to the top of the PAC-12. I doubt that because it is a deep conference with a lot of unknowns, such as Oregon’s QB situation, UCLA’s freshman QB taking the reins, and if Stanford will punish everyone with their bruising, ball-control style.

What does Goff have to offer? Check out some highlights from last season:

Here’s what Goff produced in his two years as a starter (an overall record of 6-18, but his first year in 2013 the team went 1-11):

SEASON CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT SACK RAT RAW QBR ADJ QBR
2014 316 509 3973 62.1 7.81 92 35 7 26 147.6 71.5 76.3
2013 320 531 3508 60.3 6.61 89 18 10 32 123.2 48.0 55.8

He definitely picked up the pace last year, and NFL scouting guru Mel Kiper said he’s better than Hackenburg and other underclassmen QB’s who may declare for the NFL draft in 2016.

5. Taysom Hill, BYU

He is a dark horse for the Heisman trophy, according to some, but he is just as dangerous as Tim Tebow was at Florida. Before a season-ending and gruesome injury at Utah State, Hill wowed college football fans and scouts with his running style and numbers (although many project him as a running back-type player in the NFL if he chooses to play/is drafted:

SEASON CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT SACK RAT RAW QBR ADJ QBR
2014 88 132 975 66.7 7.39 56 7 3 14 141.7 78.3 86.5
2013 236 438 2938 53.9 6.71 60 19 14 37 118.2 61.5 70.3
2012 42 71 425 59.2 5.99 28 4 2 6 122.4 70.6 76.4

I mean, he did run rampant in the 2013 game against Texas and even hurdled a defender on a touchdown run last year:

He’s coming back from tearing his knee, so no one is too sure if he’ll be the same. But, BYU’s independent schedule is intriguing and if they do well, it’ll be because of Taysom Hill. Everyone loves an underdog (see: Boise State).

Here are some other QB’s that will be fun to watch this season (in no particular order):

  • Cody Kessler, USC
  • Christian Hackenburg, Penn State
  • Greyson Lambert, Georgia
  • Whoever wins the Alabama starting job: ex-FSU QB Jake Coker, David Cornwell or Cooper Bateman
  • Brandon Harris, LSU
  • Vernon Adams, transfer to Oregon

First (and Last) 2015 NFL Mock Draft

Here it goes…

jameis winston fumble vs oregon

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston. No doubt, NFL arm, has played in a pro-style offense and aside from his off-field issues, he’ll be the top pick in a quarterback-hungry league. The Bucs gambled on Luke McCown of all people last year and cut him in the offseason and it isn’t apparent that Mike Glennon is the QB of the franchise or future.

marcus mariota oregon

  1. Tennessee Titans

I don’t think coach Whisenhunt is sold on Marcus Mariota, and will trade this to the San Diego Chargers for Philip Rivers because Rivers does not want to move to Los Angeles if the Chargers move there in a couple years. Whisenhunt was the coach who briefly revived Rivers’ career after some down years in sunny San Diego.

The Chargers will then choose Mariota. Titans will pick at no.17.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

They need help on defense, so they’ll pick Leonard Williams, a defensive tackle out of USC. I would prefer Amari Cooper or Kevin White, both elite wideouts, but the Jags are committed to a rebuilding process. Williams will be a great building block in Jacksonville.

  1. Oakland Raiders

Kevin White out of West Virginia. He’s big, he’s fast and in the mold of last year’s phenom rookie Kelvin Benjamin. He’ll get at least 6 touchdowns in the “get up and get it” mold. The Raiders need him to pair up with their up-and-coming QB Derek Carr.

  1. Washington Redskins

I say they’ll trade this pick away to the Cleveland Browns for a first rounder (the no. 12 overal pick this year), a second-rounder, a third-rounder and a fourth rounder (according to some reports, they refused to trade up higher by giving up 2 first-round picks). Cleveland will select Amari Cooper at wideout at this spot. Cleveland’s current WR lineup? They need Cooper, who is a polished route runner and can run NFL route trees.

If they keep it? Dante Fowler out of Florida, a big defensive end who will start opposite Ryan Kerrigan.

  1. New York Jets

They want to move down, and will. The New Orleans Saints need a lot of things, and they’ll move up to grab defensive tackle Danny Shelton out of Washington. Shelton is not as good as a space-eater as Leonard Williams, but he is still a big guy that will eat up space and put pressure on teams up the middle.

But, if the Redskins do trade out of the no.5 slot, and Dante Fowler is available, the Saints will take Fowler ahead of Shelton. The Jets will get their first round pick at 13th overall.

  1. Chicago Bears

They want a wideout to replace their aging core, even though I would prefer a defensive player (or all 11) in this draft. Wouldn’t be surprised if they reach and pick up Louisville wide receive Devante Parker. But, if Shelton is available, he’ll be gone at this spot.

  1. Atlanta Falcons

Offensive line is a huge gaping hole in their roster, so I expect Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff to get picked here. Rumor has it that he’s a better fit at guard, but you need good interior offensive linemen in this league.

  1. New York Giants

Victor Cruz got hurt last year and Eli Manning relied a lot on the pure athleticism of Odell Beckham, Jr. Although their defense needs help, I would have to guess that the Giants will pick a wideout here in a pass-happy league. I think the speedy Breshad Perriman out of Central Florida will go to the Big Apple.

  1. St. Louis Rams

They have their temporary QB of the future in former Eagles QB Nick Foles, so they’re going to look elsewhere. Why not at running back? Todd Gurley out of Georgia has been cleared to play by medical staff and he’s an absolute beast. Plus, rumors have been milling around that he’ll be picked at the 10 slot at the latest.

  1. Minnesota Vikings

They need to trade Adrian Peterson with his age and large salary this year (a $15 million cap number, huge for a running back nowadays). They’ll do that and get a first-rounder this year and two additional picks in the second and fourth round. The Vikings will keep this slot and will pick Michigan State corner Trae Waynes, an aggressive cornerback who will shore up their defense.

  1. Washington Redskins (by way of the Cleveland Browns)

Where do they need help the most? Everywhere. They weren’t a fan of Vic Beasley on the defensive line (too small for the new GM’s liking) so they’ll go offensive line here. Andrus Peat out of Stanford will play tackle opposite Trent Williams.

  1. New York Jets (by way of New Orleans Saints)

New head coach Todd Bowles loves defense and he’ll go this way here. His cornerbacks are okay, so he’ll go ahead and pick Alabama safety Landon Collins. Collins is the top safety in this draft, according to many experts, and will help bulk up the run defense while learning pass coverage on the fly.

  1. Miami Dolphins

Lots of needs, but I like Devante Parker here to shore up Miami’s offensive weapons, if the Bears don’t get him first. If he’s gone, the Dolphins will look to Vic Beasley, a good defensive end out of Clemson who got sacks like it was nothing in college.

  1. San Francisco 49ers

Defense. Defense. Defense. After Chris Borland and Patrick Willis retired this offseason, expect them to pick a corner to shore up their defense (too high of a pick to pick the linebackers this year) in Marcus Peters. Peters is a solid corner, but should learn quickly.

  1. Houston Texans

Let’s go offense here. With Perriman gone, they’ll pick USC’s Nelson Agholor, who was a late bloomer in the draft process. Quick and speedy returner will add another dynamic layer to their offense.

  1. Tennessee Titans (by way of the San Diego Chargers)

They’ll pick up a guard here to protect their new QB Philip Rivers in Miami’s Ereck Flowers.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs

Needing some depth at wide receiver, they’ll reach for Phillip Dorsett, a speedster wide receiver out of Miami. He’ll be their Dexter McCluster-type game-changing speed player.

  1. Cleveland Browns

They do have some decent running backs, but why not draft Melvin Gordon here? The Wisconsin player has great one-cut speed and should bring a dynamic offense to Cleveland (for once).

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

No Mariota trade here, but they’ll draft Bud Dupree to shore up that linebacking corps. He has a lot of potential, but little college production to show for it.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

Malcolm Brown, a good defensive tackle out of Texas, will go play in Marvin Lewis’ defense.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Corner is a big need here, so expect Byron Jones out of Connecticut to go here.

  1. Detroit Lions

With Suh gone to Miami, they’re going to draft his replacement. Expect Eddie Goldman out of Florida State to head to the Motor City.

  1. Arizona Cardinals

DJ Humphries is a solid late-round offensive tackle prospect, plus they need help to protect the oft-injured QB Carson Palmer.

  1. Carolina Panthers

Offensive tackle is a glaring need, so Cedric Ogbuehi (don’t ask me to pronounce it) will be gone here.

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens like troubled prospects, so they’ll pick Dorial Green-Beckham (who has had his share of problems) here to shore up their wideout corps after Torrey Smith left for the Bay Area during the offseason.

  1. Dallas Cowboys

They need cornerback help, so Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson will go here.

  1. Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning got roughed up, but they don’t need superb offensive linemen in the Mile High City. I expect them to draft stalwart tackle Jake Fisher.

  1. Indianapolis Colts

Defensive line help is a must here, after getting throttled by the Patriots 45-7 in the playoffs. Jordan Phillips out of Oklahoma will be headed to the Colts.

  1. Green Bay Packers

Denzel Perryman, inside linebacker out of Miami, will help the Packers interior defense.

  1. New Orleans Saints

Jaelen Strong, a nice wideout prospect out of Arizona State, will help Drew Brees try to improve on an awful last season.

  1. New England Patriots

The Patriots need corner help, but haven’t been great with drafting corners. If they do go defense, they’ll pick defensive tackle Arik Armstead to replace Vince Wilfork. If they go offense, expect them to pick a guard here in Laken Tomlinson out of Duke or a tackle in TJ Clemmings out of Pittsburgh

Notable missing picks: Shane Ray and Randy Gregory, both defensive end-type players who failed drug tests or have marijuana issues, will fall out of the first round. Ray was dumb, having been cited for marijuana possession this past Monday, the week of the draft!

Any thoughts about this mock draft?

Top 3 Coaches to Replace the Wizards’ Randy Wittman

I’m not a fan of firing coaches or calling for them to be fired, but the writing is on the wall for the Washington Wizards’ Randy Wittman.

randy wittman face

Wittman has a 0.460 win percentage as the Wizards’ head coach, and many of those losses came during the Wizards’ post-Arenas era. But, Wizards’ point guard John Wall admitted the team didn’t follow Wittman’s game plan in their recent loss to the Paul George-less Indiana Pacers. In that game, Wittman walked away from the bench as the last shot was being launched at the end of the game from halfcourt. I think the writing is on the wall and he will be gone if they get knocked out in the first or even the second round of the playoffs.

Who could replace him?

alvin gentry

1. Alvin Gentry

The former Phoenix Suns head coach, who coached them in their post-Mike D’Antoni years, is very popular as the Golden State Warriors’ assistant coach. Andrew Bogut gave rave reviews of Gentry’s work with the team, which is the top team in the West, by the way. Bogut said, in his CBS interview:

“He’s been huge. Basically he’s our offensive coordinator, like it would be in football. His main role is with reads and spacing and putting in sets, little tweaks. He’s highly responsible for that and does a great job. Unfortunately for us, I hate to say it but there’s a high chance we lose him in the offseason because he’s just too talented of a coach to not be head coaching.”

Gentry’s last stop in Phoenix wasn’t too great, but not terrible either. He had a 0.523 winning percentage and had a 10-6 record in the playoffs in his second season in Phoenix in 2009-10. But, his Suns got swept in the postseason in his second-to-last season in 2011-2012.

Why not hire a former head coach who is helping the top team in the West? He knows how to manage a team already and no doubt knows how to run a wide open, guard-friendly offense that will help the Wizards’ John Wall and Bradley Beal.

A big issue with the Wizards? Just bad spacing, long two-point shots, or things that don’t exist in a Gentry-type offense. Check out what B-Ball Breakdown said about their awful offense, illustrated by one of their illustrations of spacing. That inside-the-yellow-area? Those are those long two’s that teams don’t want to shoot anymore, except for the Wizards.

bad wizards spacing

2. Sam Cassell a.k.a. Sam I Am

sam cassell

He was a solid point guard in his playing days, especially when he played alongside Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. But, he’s gotten a lot of assistant coach experience and had been an assistant in D.C. for five years before leaving for the Clippers last year. That means he knows the culture and the players already. He didn’t leave on bad terms, either. In a guard-heavy league, John Wall and Bradley Beal will benefit from having a coach that was a good guard in his own heyday.

BUT LOOK AT HOW MUCH BEAL LOVES SAM I AM. AWWW COME BACK HOME SAM!

I mean, look at this tape (mind you, some NSFW language):

3. Anyone but Mike Brown, Mike Dunleavy and Nate McMillan. As you can tell, I’m not a huge fan of head coach retreads, with the exception of Alvin Gentry and a couple others like Terry Stotts. Also, don’t count on John Calipari, currently the University of Kentucky men’s basketball head coach, because Wizards owner Ted Leonsis doesn’t like flashy hires in the front office or in the coaching position.

What do you think of my list?

Today’s Dirty College Coaches Edition

Jim Boeheim, the longtime basketball coach for Syracuse University, has been suspended nine games starting next year AND a reduction of 12 scholarships over 4 years (so 3 per year). This brings to mind, who are the dirtiest college coaches in NCAA basketball today?

john calipari

1. John Calipari, Kentucky

Calipari has left a trail of NCAA violations in his two previous stints at UMass and at Memphis, and has had scrapes with the NCAA while at Kentucky.

At UMass, he took them to the 1996 Final Four. But, it was discovered his star Marcus Camby had interactions with an agent (which is illegal by NCAA rules). So, they had to vacate their 1996 Final Four run in the history books and endure sanctions. Yet, after all this time, the school is going to retire a jersey for Calipari.

At Memphis, he created a mid-major behemoth with the likes of Derrick Rose. After he left, the basketball program was saddled with sanctions and hasn’t been the same since. One of the major violations was that Rose had someone take his SAT for him, but by the time the NCAA investigation finished, Rose had gone to the NBA. Another major violation was up to $2,000 in travel was paid for Rose’s brother, Reggie. The punishment? The NCAA vacated their 2008 Final Four run and their 38 wins that season and Calipari said it was disappointing to see that happen to his former employer.

At Kentucky, Eric Bledsoe had at least three major violations: how he didn’t really qualify academically for Kentucky with a sub-2.0 GPA, his apartment was paid for by someone, and a coach also demanded someone pay him for recruiting Bledsoe to Kentucky. But, he went to the NBA after one year, so the investigation was rendered useless.

Jim Calhoun

2. Jim Calhoun, UCONN

Calhoun is one of five coaches who had won at least 3 NCAA men’s basketball titles, but did not end on such a high note.

He was suspended for the first three Big East conference games in 2011-2012, and the program was going to be on probation from 2011 to 2014. Other violations were impermissible tickets to recruits and several thousand text messages between a UConn staffer and recruits. Their punishment? Limits on when they could call recruits on the phone, scholarship reduction and two staffers took the blame and were fired. But, they weren’t initially suspended from the postseason.

In 2013, UConn was banned from the NCAA March Madness postseason tournament for failing to qualify academically, known as the APR. He blamed student-athletes leaving early for bringing down their scores, which was a possibility. Kemba Walker, the guard who led them to their 2010-2011 title, said he only read one book cover-to-cover while at UConn for 3 years. Still, other schools do just as fine with players leaving early each year, so that seems like a very flimsy excuse. There are still questions whether they should have kept their 2010-2011 title, as their APR was very close to disqualifying them from March Madness.

Calhoun also toed the line with recruiting Rudy Gay, where UConn was able to pay Gay’s former summer league team to play an exhibition at UConn during the recruiting process. It was legal, but seems very sketchy. In the end, Gay committed to UConn, which upset Maryland Terrapins head coach Gary Williams (note: I am a Maryland fan and didn’t even know about this).

He really operated in a recruiting gray area, didn’t he?

Jim Boeheim

3. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

Among the violations was not suspending players for violating a drug test but still playing, staffers helping a student by essentially rewriting his papers, and boosters having access (and being encouraged by athletic department staff) to interact with basketball players.

The NCAA’s punishment is vacating 200 wins and striking them from Boeheim’s record, dropping him from 2nd all-time in games won to 6th, and a $500 fine per win vacated. He is also suspended for the first nine games of next year and 3 scholarships will be taken away each year for the next four years. Lastly, only two of the four coaches can recruit off-campus.

Plus, Boeheim doesn’t have a contract after this season, so this could be the end of Boeheim.

roy williams unc

Honorable mention: Roy Williams and the ongoing sham classes scandal at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He may not be directly involved, but it’s not sure if he had a role in it as some suggested it started before he got there. However, he may have let it slide. Former UNC player Rashad McCants said Williams most likely knew, and Williams said that was not possible.

5 Quick Hits: NBA Edition

PNI1023-spt Suns 1021130430dp

Did you know:

  • Only FOUR Eastern Conference teams have a winning record against the West: Atlanta (10-2), Toronto (9-5), Chicago (9-6) and Washingon (8-5)?
  • SIX Eastern Conference teams are above .500? That’s Atlanta (27-8), Toronto (24-10), Chicago (25-11), Washington (24-11), Cleveland (19-17) and Milwaukee (19-18).
  • EIGHT Western Conference teams are above .500? Golden State (28-5), Portland (27-8), Memphis (25-10), Dallas (26-11), Houston (24-11), LA Clippers (24-12), San Antonio (21-15), Phoenix (22-16).
  • Golden State is a perfect 11-0 against the Eastern Conference this season?
  • Minnesota Timberwolves has as many wins (2) against their conference (The West), as the Knicks and Sixers have against the West combined?

4 Things that Defined Ohio State-Bama

All State Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Ohio State

Blake Sims’ INT in the red zone late in the second half

  • Sims had his tight end OPEN and yet he threw a flat pass (pictured above), which was easily picked off and killed a potential TD drive that could’ve turned into a razor-thin Bama lead.

Absence of the run game

  • With only TJ Yeldon to carry the ball consistently, with backup Henry not completely healthy, Kiffin stuck with the passing game and didn’t use a lot of time on the clock.
  • That hurt Bama’s defense, which was tired of having to chase Ohio State around the field.
  • This also let Ohio State dictate the pace of the game.

Bama’s BAD 3rd down conversion rate

  • Bama went 2-for-13 in the game, when Ohio State went 10-for-18!
  • You don’t win games with stats like those.

Cardale Jones’ precise TD throw to Devin Smith to the front corner of the end zone

  • He showed why he went to OSU and how good he really is.
  • Jones threw it to where his receiver Devin Smith could be the only one to get it. WOW!
  • Side note: I’m loving this potential QB controversy in the brewing with THREE starting quarterbacks for the Buckeyes!

2 Things that Defined Oregon-FSU

jameis winston fumble vs oregon

The Oregon offense kept scoring at will (and off turnovers) in the second half!

“The second-seeded Ducks (13-1) scored six straight times they touched the ball in the second half, with five of the touchdowns covering at least 21 yards and the last four coming after Florida State turnovers.”

Fluky Jameis fumble, returned for TD by Oregon

  • With under 2 minutes to go, and down 39-20, Jameis Winston fumbled away the game. It led to a Randy Orton RKO meme:

  • On a serious note, the play summed up the game. It was yet another turnover and it sealed the game for good.