August is a curious month for college football fans. All we get is little snippets of information and virtually zero real data. We've spent plenty of time parsing the Tide around here, but there are other teams to be curious about, too. For those teams, here are a few . . .
Questions for 2013
Will Gus Malzahn be a great head coach, worse than Chizik, or somewhere in between? The Tigers' horrendous 2012 came on the heels of back-to-back-to-back top 10 ratings in the final Rivals recruiting rankings and solidified the impression that 2010 was the result of a perform storm of talent and senior starters and had nothing to do with Gene Chizik.
In short, no team in the nation underperformed like Auburn in 2012, and with the players on hand it should be easy for Malzahn to look good in 2013, especially since most of the offense was recruited to fit his scheme. But, as is always the case when a flavor-of-the-month former assistant gets his first real (i.e., non-Arkansas State) head coaching job, Malzahn's ability to handle the promotion is a great unknown.
Can Cam Cameron get Zach Mettenberger to play against everybody the way he played against Alabama last year? LSU had an astonishing 11 early entries to the 2013 NFL draft, over 10% of the national total for early entries, which raises obvious questions about version 2013 of the Bengals. However, the addition of Cam Cameron and his awesome pedigree as LSU's offensive coordinator has 'em howling for elephant blood in Baton Rouge--not that it takes much to bring that about. Mettenberger only looked like Cameron students Drew Brees and Phillips Rivers in one game last year, but he did finish the season a little stronger than he started and he has a strong arm, so the O-guru has something to work with.
Will Western Kentucky average 40 a game under Petrino? Although they averaged 28.2 last year, and their quarterback is gone, the answer is probably "yes." The Hilltoppers return CFPA Running Back Trophy Watch List tailback Antonio Andrews and his 1733 yards rushing, Andrews' backup, six receivers with over 100 yards receiving in 2012, and an astonishing 105 career starts on the offensive line. Bobby Petrino is, of course, a proven winner, an offensive whiz, and a college quarterback developer with few if any equals. Even if he ain't so hot on the motorcycle.
Bobby Petrino Motorcycle Crash video (via bamarides)
Will Lane Kiffin apply for the Western Kentucky job after Petrino's one-year regime? The NCAA is only allowing USC 75 scholarshipped players on the roster, and in fact the current number is hovering under 70. Make no mistake, the Trojan lineup, although depleted, is even more blue-chippy than Alabama's, but Matt Barkley is gone and heir apparent Max Wittek looked mediocre when he got a couple of late-season starts for the injured Barkley last year. The Lanester has pretty much proven he can't handle a job at this level, but how many other guys in their 30s can say they've been head football coach for Tennessee, USC and the Oakland Raiders? Maybe that experience will serve Kiffin when he tries to scratch his way up from his next bottom-feeder job.
Is Robert Nkemdiche the next Jadaveon Clowney? Nkemdiche, who checks in at a lean and muscular 297 is, if anything, even more impressive physically than Clowney. So far, the hype looks justified, as Nkemdiche has been running with the Ole Miss first string defense since almost the beginning of fall camp. If he has anything like his older brother Denzel's instinct for football, watch the heck out.
Will Mack Brown have any luck copying Alabama? Austin, we have a problem. From this angle it looks like the Mack Brown regime at Texas is in its last, flailing stages and desperate. Give Brown credit for at least realizing things aren't so rosy. After pointing the finger at Alabama's super-sized football staff and suggesting that the NCAA change its rules to limit staff sizes, Brown went right out this spring and hired Patrick Suddes, Alabama's associate director of football operations, as Director of Player Personnel, in an attempt to Alabama-ize the 'Horns.
And does hiring Major Applewhite as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach--exactly the same positions he filled at Alabama--count? Major has the goods to work with--whether he has the skills to work with the goods is quite another question.
How much are we going to wish Jameis Winston had rolled with the Tide? It isn't often that football fans in Tuscaloosa experience jealousy, but our backup quarterback situation would be looking about 1000% better if we had managed to hook up one more home-state guy. How the heck did we let this guy get away?
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Meanwhile, James Franklin is disappointed over ticket sales. You call that Vanderbilt, coach. V-a-n-d-e-r-b-i-l-t. Van der bilt. Got it?