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All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/rich-rodriguez-dances-arizonas-dance-team-members-wildcats

If you ever wanted to see Rich Rodriguez dance, today is your lucky day.


Arizona's coach does his best to whip and nae nae with the school's dance team, and the results aren't too bad. He also does his best stanky leg. Rodriguez has just as much rhythm as one would expect him. Bravo to the coach for getting loose! 

Let's hope this will be his victory dance this season.

Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 15:39
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/oregon-2015-fall-camp-preview-key-position-battles-watch

Fall camp marks an official beginning of the A.M. era for Oregon football: After Marcus.


The absence of three-year starter and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota looms over the opening of the reigning Pac-12 champion and national runner-up Ducks’ new season. But don’t expect too much of a regression from Oregon in 2015.

Related: Why Oregon Will or Won't Make the College Football Playoff in 2015


That advice might come too late for some pollsters, who tabbed the Ducks to win the Pac-12 North, but finish second overall behind USC.


“We tend not to focus too much on that,” said Oregon linebacker Rodney Hardrick. “At the end of the season, we’ll look up and see where we’re at.”


Where Oregon’s been at season’s end every year since 2008 is in double-digit-win territory. Since 2009, the season’s ended with the Ducks hauling in the conference championship four times. Fall camp begins, in earnest, their march for a fifth.


Oregon's Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines


1. Quarterback Battle

Jeff Lockie’s head start in the competition to replace Mariota gets an added three days. Lockie impressed head coach Mark Helfrich in Oregon’s spring practices, and he’ll be in the spotlight for the first three days of fall camp that Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams will miss, as he finishes his academic obligations.


Lockie’s jumpstart does not negate Adams’ edge in meaningful Pac-12 snaps, however. Adams may have played in the FCS the previous three years, but the graduate transfer torched Oregon State and Washington in 2013 and '14, giving him a significantly more accomplished resume against the conference than Lockie.


Fall camp may not definitively answer the lingering quarterback question.


Related: 10 First-Year Starting QBs Who Could Win College Football's National Title in 2015


2. Rebuilding the Offensive Line

In front of Mariota throughout his time in Eugene was another All-American, center Hroniss Grasu. Grasu is one of three starters from the 2014 Oregon offensive line whose eligibility lapsed. Combined with the retirement of tackle Andre Yruretagoyena this offseason, the Ducks will operate with a largely fresh front five heading into 2015.


Tyler Johnstone, an All-America-caliber talent at tackle, is working his way back from a knee injury. At 100 percent, he’s an excellent cornerstone for the offensive line. Still, replacing both Grasu and Jake Fisher is a tall order for offensive line coach Steve Greatwood.


3. Rebuilding the Secondary

From one regular Oregon strength facing uncertainty to another, the Ducks' secondary is typically one of the best in the conference. Last season was no exception with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu still locking down the conference’s wide receivers, and Troy Hill emerging as a star.


Both are gone, leaving the defensive backline in something of a state of flux. Oregon also is replacing Erick Dargan, the team’s leading tackler, and Dior Mathis, who was key in some of the team's multiple-defensive back sets.


Reggie Daniels had a breakthrough 2014 campaign and returns as the secondary’s foundation for the coming year. Fall camp will help determine who’s going to operate alongside him.


Highly touted 2014 recruit Arrion Springs should get an opportunity to slide into the starting rotation, along with Chris Seisay. Tyree Robinson and Juwaan Williams have high upside at safety, but heading into camp, upside is mostly what the Duck defense is banking on.


4. Continued Toughness in the Front Seven

The emphasis of the Oregon defense heading into last season – longtime assistant coach Don Pellum’s first at defensive coordinator – was on a more physical style in the front seven.


With DeForest Buckner leading the way, the Ducks made strides to that end, and that became a critical factor in Oregon reaching the championship round of the inaugural College Football Playoff.


Oregon’s front seven loses Tony Washington and Arik Armstead, but is loaded with returning talent surrounding Buckner, now entering Year 2 of what Hardrick called a “shift in the culture.


“We improved a lot in the weight room,” Hardrick said, explaining the mantra. “Strain in the summer so in December, everything comes easy.”


5. Sorting Out the Kicking Competition

Oregon has the unique problem of having two proven kickers at its diposal. Aiden Schneider stepped in effectively enough for Matt Wogan last season while Wogan was injured to land on this year’s Lou Groza Award watch list.


But Wogan told The Oregonian during spring practice he was “training with a purpose” of earning kicking duties.


The Ducks’ kicking competition might be as interesting as their quarterback battle. Given the success of Oregon’s special teams play in recent years, this competition might have equal relevance to the Ducks’ season.


— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Oregon 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/stephen-smith-jay-cutler-joke-first-take-espn-skip-bayless-chicago-bears

Stephen A. Smith is at it again. His target this time? Jay Cutler.


Fans may find it hard to disagree with Smith on this one. On ESPN's "First Take," Smith went in on the Bears quarterback and questions his lack of heart and competitiveness as a player.


"Jay Cutler is one of the worst people to be a quarterback in the NFL that I have ever seen," Smith said. 


Smith ends it with the statement that Cutler doesn't have the heart to play in the NFL. As a player and competitor, that has to hurt.

Skip Bayless couldn't even disagree with Smith. That says a lot.

Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 12:13
Path: /college-football/texas-am-2015-fall-camp-preview-key-position-battles-watch

The first season of the post-Johnny Manziel era was a mixed bag for the Texas A&M Aggies in 2014. One’s view on the season could be swayed by the Aggies’ 45-37 victory over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl or the realization that head coach Kevin Sumlin is trending in the wrong direction in the win-loss department.

Sumlin may deserve a little more time to get “his” guys into the system both on the roster and his coaching staff to make the necessary adjustments going forward, but the truth is the Aggies have recruited well and are stocked with talent. What the 12th Man has seen is diminishing returns on the field, slipping from an 11-win team in 2012 to nine in ’13, and just eight last fall. Sumlin is now entering his fourth season in College Station, the unwritten timeline for all college coaches to show the program is headed in the right direction.


Related: Why Texas A&M Will or Won’t Make the College Football Playoff in 2015


That direction-changing help may have come in the offseason in the form of defensive coordinator John Chavis. Former defensive coordinator Mark Snyder posted back-to-back defensive performances that ranked in the bottom 20 (109th in 2013, 102nd in ’14) of the nation, not exactly a resume-building block.

If there was a Lord of the Defensive Dance in the SEC, Chavis and Auburn defensive coordinator Will Mushchamp would be the masters of said jig. Chavis comes to A&M after a successful stint at LSU. The Tigers were the ninth-ranked defense in 2014 and finished No. 15 the year before. These types of results are sorely needed if Sumlin is to maintain his good graces in College Station going forward.


Among the other problems facing the Aggies is a physical running attack. No one can argue the passing game, orchestrated by Sumlin and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, doesn’t get results, but the inability to pick up needed short-yardage first downs last season stalled 76 drives, as Texas A&M converted just 41 percent of its third down attempts (63rd nationally).


If Sumlin wants to take some of the pressure off, progress on the field must be shown. Aggie fans might be able to stomach another eight-win season but 10-plus is the mandate. Also, the addition of Chavis didn’t come cheap, so everyone associated with the program is expecting results, and sooner rather than later.


As Texas A&M gets ready to start practices next week, here are the five biggest things to keep an eye on as the Aggies prepare to open the season against Arizona State in Houston on Sept. 5.


Texas A&M’s Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines


1. The Chavis Effect
There is no nice way to put it, Texas A&M’s defense was not very good last season. If Chavis is a miracle worker then the Aggies’ defense could be one of the most improved units in the nation by season’s end, not that it would take that much to accomplish.


Texas A&M could not stop the run (216 yards per game) or the pass (235) last season. As a unit the defense allowed an average of 28 points per game. The offense mustered 35 points per game knowing it would have to carry the load. If Chavis can shave 100 total yards of offense off last year’s numbers along with seven points per game, then perhaps close losses like the ones suffered to Missouri (34-27) and LSU (23-17) in 2014 could be turned into wins this fall.


2. Increased Productivity in the Running Game
Since the 2012 season, when Texas A&M averaged 242 rushing yards per game, the production on the ground has dropped dramatically. In 2013, the Aggies toughed out 185 yards per game, while last season that number dropped to 149.9. That’s nearly 100 yards fewer per game in just two seasons. And the 2014 results were even worse in SEC play, as the Aggies managed just 107 yards rushing per game in conference action. 


Finesse offenses can work in the SEC, just ask former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino. But in the big games, teams need to be able to turn to their offensive line and ball carrier when they need just a few yards, and do so with confidence. Can Texas A&M do this in 2015?


The Aggies do bring back three returning starters on their offensive line along with leading rusher Tra Carson (581 yards, 5 TDs). Brandon Williams and James White will be pushed by true freshman Jay Bradford for carries in camp. One or more of these backs need to step up this season.


3. Playmaking Linebackers

The linebacker corps is one of promise but also question marks. Sophomore Otaro Alaka was coming on at the end of last year but needed offseason shoulder surgery forcing him to miss spring ball. How will he bounce back?


Another question mark is fellow sophomore Josh Walker. Walker is expected to man the middle being the quarterback on defense. Walker is not a prototypical (listed at 6-1, 233) SEC Mike linebacker. How will he hold up to a season’s worth of getting worked over by 6-foot-5, 300-pound SEC offensive linemen?


Perhaps the biggest unknown is linebacker A.J. Hillard. Hillard got in one game last year after suffering a broken ankle in the opener against South Carolina. The junior has the size (6-2, 245) to play the strong-side position, but is he ready?


4. Find Four Bodies to Play in the Secondary
Texas A&M’s pass defense, statistically, looks a little bit better than what the front seven did against the run, but some perspective is needed. Over the past two years the SEC West has not been known as a passing division. Consider that Alabama (278 passing ypg), was arguably the most prolific passing attack the Aggies faced in 2014. Other opponents, like Mississippi State (281), Ole Miss (264), Auburn (230), Arkansas (188), and LSU (163) would rather run their opponents into the ground than rely on throwing the football down field.


Furthering the case for a much-needed upgrade, if the opposition knows it can run against the Aggies’ front seven why take any chances throwing the ball? Still Texas A&M gave up 235 yards through the air per game playing against conference foes that do not typically pass the ball.


Sophomore safety Armani Watts stood out last year, leading the team with three interceptions while coming up with 59 tackles. Fourth-year starter De’Vante Harris showed signs of improvement last season. Opposing offenses were able to run to his side in years past but he shored up his tackling skills, recording 54 total stops (33 solo) in 2014. He also had five pass breakups and picked off a pass. Can he continue to improve to an All-SEC kind of level?

Victor Davis started five games at cornerback as a true freshman in 2014. Hopes are high that he can continue to improve, but he is still raw.


Sumlin and Chavis appear to be putting a lot of faith in junior college transfer Justin Evans to fill in at the other safety position. The Mississippi native made an impression on his teammates during spring practices. How quickly he responds to picking up SEC offenses will be the key to an improved Aggies secondary in 2015.


5. Maximizing Immense Talent at Wide Receiver
Year after year Texas A&M reloads at wide receiver, whether it’s going from Mike Evans to Ryan Swope to Malcome Kennedy. The future is once again very bright on the outside and in the slot with Speedy Noil, Ricky Seals-Jones, and school record-setter Josh Reynolds. Reynolds stole the limelight last year, hauling in 13 touchdown passes (school record) while averaging 16 yards per catch. He led the Aggies in receiving yards (842) and was one reception shy of tying Kennedy’s team-high 53 grabs.


How effectively can sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen spread the ball around to his playmakers? Can these receivers make up for a lack of a running game, working quick slants and short routes dinking and dunking down the field while looking for the big shot down the sidelines? On top of the experienced talent that’s coming back, the anticipated debut of true freshman Christian Kirk also should be worth watching in 2015.


Related: Ranking the SEC's Receiving Corps for 2015


If Texas A&M can get a handle on these five question marks before the season begins, a nine-win campaign could easily be had. If problems persist, however, a 7-5 regular season just might be around the corner, continuing the Aggies’ trend of diminishing results since Sumlin’s arrival in College Station.


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Texas A&M 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-2015-fall-camp-preview-and-key-position-battles-watch

Ole Miss began the 2014 season 7-0 and was one of the favorites to make a lot of noise in the SEC but back-to-back losses to LSU and Auburn thwarted any dreams of making it to Atlanta to play for the conference championship. Ole Miss is still the only original SEC West team that has yet to make an appearance in the SEC Championship Game. The 2014 season was a roller-coaster ride for fans that saw their team defeat Alabama for the first time since 2003 and also beat in-state rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, but end the season by getting blown out by 39 points by TCU in the Peach Bowl.


Going into his fourth season leading the Rebels, head coach Hugh Freeze returns 16 starters on a team that was better than its 9-4 record. The 2013 recruiting class that was hailed as one of the best in school history and a top-five class by most recruiting services must carry the load if Ole Miss wants to reach the SEC title game this season.


Related: Is 2015 Now or Never for Ole Miss in the SEC West?


Ole Miss’s Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines


1. Chad Kelly
With Bo Wallace gone, some Rebel fans will be happy and some will be sad. You just never knew if “Good Bo” or “Bad Bo” was going to show up. Fast forward to this season and Freeze brings in a quarterback who could be great or may not ever see the field. It really is all up to Kelly. He finished his junior college career at East Mississippi Community College with 3,900 yards passing, 47 touchdowns and a NJCAA national championship ring. Kelly was accurate and showed poise last year and that is exactly why Freeze wanted him. With playmakers such as Laquon Treadwell and Evan Engram returning for an offense that averaged 263 passing yards per game in 2014, Kelly will have plenty of opportunity to show his arm strength. The question will be if he can be the leader of the offense.


2. Who Will Step up at Running Back?
Going into camp, Ole Miss will have last year’s leading rusher back in Jaylen Walton. Walton averaged 5.5 yards per carry and should be a nice security blanket to take some heat off of Kelly. The offensive line returns 112 career starts so Walton should have no trouble finding running lanes. The backfield lost I’Tavius Mathers and Mark Dodson to transfers and the aforementioned Wallace to graduation. A lot of pressure will be put on Walton, Akeem Judd and sophomore Jordan Wilkins to make up for lost production.


3. Replacing Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson
Ole Miss will return playmakers all across its defensive front seven, but two key players from the back end are gone. With Prewitt and Golson no longer around, Freeze will have the daunting task of replacing two Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists. The Rebels do return their top tackler in Mike Hilton and an All-America candidate in safety Tony Conner, but it will be no easy task replacing a pair of productive players who combined for 28 interceptions in their collegiate careers.


4. Laremy Tunsil
After getting the news that both Tunsil and his stepfather, Lindsey Miller, dropped the domestic violence charges against each other, Rebel fans will be ecstatic about getting their best offensive lineman back after such a rocky offseason.  Tunsil was a first team All-SEC pick last year and will be the backside wall that will keep pressure off of Kelly. Having these charges dropped should give Tunsil a clear mind headed into camp and is literally (and physically) a huge addition to this Ole Miss offensive line.


5. Forgetting the TCU Game
The old saying is “You’re only as good as your last game.” Ole Miss certainly hopes this is not true. The Rebels ended a good 2014 regular season by getting blown out 42-3 by TCU in the Peach Bowl. Some will say TCU would have beaten any team it faced after many thought the Horned Frogs were left out of the College Football Playoff, but Ole Miss never even showed up. Freeze and his coaching staff should be quick to not let his players forget what happened in Atlanta, but also remind them that this is a new season and a new team. Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it. Remember that Ole Miss, because you do not want to repeat that game.


— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails

Ole Miss 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/top-nebraska-recruit-noah-fant-wraps-west-coast-recruiting-trip

What was once a hidden recruiting gem in the Cornhusker state has now gone national. Omaha South Magnet High School athlete Noah Fant just wrapped up a west coast recruiting trip hitting Cal and UCLA, causing even more concern for the Nebraska faithful.


Fant jumped onto the recruiting scene in 2014 as a two-way star for Omaha South. The Packers had little going their way in the win-loss column finishing 1-8 but their now 6-foot-6, 210-pound star mixed it up at running back, rushing for 54 yards on six carries and two touchdowns while reeling in 32 passes for 494 yards and eight scores as a tight end. Even with teams running away from Fant when he lined up defensive end, he still managed 28 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks in nine games last season.


The Cornhuskers offered Fant in early March with Iowa State, Iowa, Vanderbilt, UCLA and Cal extending offers over the offseason. Fant has taken unofficial visits to Iowa State and Vanderbilt. The west coast swing started on Aug. 1 with a Twitter update from Cal on Aug 3.



On Aug. 4, Fant posted photos of the Bruins' weight room, being stuck in Los Angeles traffic, and a promotional selfie wearing a UCLA No. 45 jersey while flexing his guns.



Nebraska head coach Mike Riley has made Fant a priority but the outside recruiting pressure for one of the top players in the state is mounting. The Cornhuskers initially wanted to use the in-state talent on defense as a weak-side defensive end but are now willing to try him at tight end if that is what it takes to get his signature on National Signing Day. UCLA is recruiting Fant as a tight end.


Fant had openly discussed an early commitment by late June or sometime in July but as interest has continued to grow and he has made some unofficial visits that timeline has been moved back. Knowing that Fant has a desire to commit before the 2015 high school football season begins is an announcement coming around the corner?


Other teams to offer Fant include Liberty, Wyoming, Buffalo and South Dakota State.


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Top Nebraska Recruit Noah Fant Wraps up West Coast Recruiting Trip
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 11:15
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-2015-fall-camp-preview-key-position-battles-watch

Coaches know each offseason that there are certain areas of the team that will need special attention once fall camp opens. Maybe there is a player returning from injury or intense competition for playing time or depth that needs to be developed. The staff is keenly aware of where their focus should be.


More often than not, though, things happen. Look at Notre Dame. Depth at running back seemed to be okay until Greg Bryant was initially suspended for the first four games for a violation of team rules. Now that Bryant has been declared ineligible for the entire season due to academic shortcomings, developing running back depth in camp will now become much more important. The same is true at rush end with the recent transfer announcements of Jhonny Williams and Kolin Hill.


Related: Why Notre Dame Will or Won't Make the College Football Playoff in 2015


Notre Dame’s Five Biggest Camp Storylines


1. Running Back Depth

Tarean Folston was going to be the starter regardless of Bryant’s status. But head coach Brian Kelly and new running backs coach Autry Denson will have to figure out the rotation behind Folston. In the spring, C.J. Prosise moved from slot receiver to running back and showed considerable promise. Freshmen Dexter Williams and Josh Adams will have their opportunity to show that they warrant playing time. Prosise will now have an elevated role and one of the two freshmen will have to be added to the mix.


2. Malik Zaire’s Accuracy

Zaire can run and knows how to operate the read-option. By all accounts, his teammates respect him and he has command of the team when he is on the field. But throwing the ball accurately on a more consistent basis is where Zaire needs to improve. Notre Dame can win a lot of games this season if Zaire can develop in this area.


3. Pass Rush

Notre Dame ranked 70th in the nation with 26 sacks in 2014. But with the amount of blitzes that defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder sends, that number should have been higher. If Sheldon Day is healthy, he can get after the quarterback and the hope is that rising sophomore Andrew Trumbetti and senior Romeo Okwara can be more effective this fall. However, the Irish don’t appear to have a true, natural pass rusher, so becoming more comfortable with Van Gorder’s scheme may be the best hope.


Related: College Football's Top 25 Position Groups Under Pressure in 2015


4. What To Do at Linebacker?

Joe Schmidt and Jarrett Grace are returning from injury and Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini saw quality snaps as freshmen. James Onwualu is listed as the starting SAM linebacker and there’s this guy Jaylon Smith that can play all over the field. Throw in early entry freshman Te’Von Coney, who impressed in the spring, and the Irish have a lot to sort out at linebacker.


5. Special Teams

Kicker/punter Kyle Brindza has graduated and Notre Dame will have to fill his shoes. Freshman Justin Yoon was considered one of the nation’s prized kicking recruits, but he’s never had to perform in front of 80,000 people on a Saturday afternoon. Like Yoon, the coaching staff likes new punter Tyler Newsome, but this is his first crack at the big time as well. To go along with the kicking questions, Notre Dame has been terrible at covering kickoffs the past couple of years and the punt return game has been less than stellar since Kelly arrived at Notre Dame.


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Notre Dame 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-take-stand-2015-hype-video-hugh-freeze-rebels

Watch out for the Rebels this season.


By the looks of things, Ole Miss is ready to take a stand. Hugh Freeze tells the team they are the flagship school of the state. That's a lot of pressure. Everything the Rebels do will be put under a microscope. The state, those who don't root for Mississippi State, have a lot of emotion invested in this team and the Rebels are leaving it on the field.

Ole Miss Football: Take A Stand from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.

Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 10:53
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-quarterback-battles-watch-fall-practice-2015

With fall practice underway, the long offseason is almost over and college football’s 2015 season is officially around the corner. The final preparations for the upcoming year have started, and coaches spend fall camp trying to finalize depth charts and rotations for the opener.


While there’s no shortage of critical position battles in the fall, the quarterback position is going to generate the most interest among fans. And there’s plenty of big-name programs looking for a starter in fall camp. Of Athlon Sports’ top 10 teams for 2015, five of them appear on this list.


Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015


Here’s a quick look at 20 key quarterback battles for the fall and a projected winner for each:


College Football's Top 20 QB Battles for Fall Practice


1. Ohio State


The Contenders: J.T. Barrett vs. Cardale Jones


Urban Meyer’s decision at quarterback got a little easier with the announcement that Braxton Miller would move to receiver in 2015. However, there’s still a tough decision ahead for the coaching staff. Do the Buckeyes stick with Jones after an impressive three-game stint to close last season? Or does Barrett regain the starting job after leading the Big Ten with an average of 314.3 total yards per game in 2014?


Projected Starter for the Opener: Barrett


Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015


2. Alabama


The Contenders: Jake Coker vs. David Cornwell vs. Alec Morris vs. Blake Barnett vs. Cooper Bateman


Five quarterbacks are listed as contenders, but all signs point to Coker and Cornwell as the frontrunners to replace Blake Sims. Coker was considered the favorite to start after transferring to Alabama from Florida State. However, Sims started all 14 games for the Crimson Tide in 2014. Cornwell was a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 79 player in the 2014 247Sports Composite. He’s ready to push for the starting job after a redshirt year.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Coker


Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015


3. Oregon


The Contenders: Vernon Adams vs. Jeff Lockie


There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding the battle to replace Marcus Mariota. Adams is expected to arrive on campus in early August, but Lockie had a good spring and has a chance to capitalize off Adams’ late arrival this fall. Adams is a dynamic player and accumulated over 10,00 total yards in his Eastern Washington career. Adapting to a new offense and FBS competition will be the graduate transfer’s biggest challenges. Lockie completed 21 of 28 passes for 207 yards and one score in 2014.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Lockie...but Adams takes over during the season


Related: Pac-12 Breakout Players for 2015


4. Florida State


The Contenders: Everett Golson vs. Sean Maguire


Jameis Winston leaves big shoes to fill in Tallahassee. Maguire finished spring at the top of the depth chart, but Golson announced his intentions to transfer to Florida State in May. How quickly will Golson pickup Florida State’s offense? His mobility could be an asset behind four new starters in the trenches. Maguire has one career start (Clemson in 2014) and has passed for 455 yards and three scores over the last two seasons.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Golson


Related: Florida State 2015 Fall Camp Preview


5. LSU


The Contenders: Anthony Jennings vs. Brandon Harris


LSU has enough talent to win the SEC West, but the Tigers need more from the passing attack. In SEC games last season, LSU quarterbacks completed only 46.4 percent of passes and managed only seven passing scores. Jennings started 12 of the Tigers’ 13 contests last season, but there’s more upside with Harris.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Harris


Related: SEC Quarterback Rankings for 2015


6. Georgia


The Contenders: Brice Ramsey vs. Greyson Lambert vs. Faton Bauta


Regardless of which quarterback takes the first snap for coach Mark Richt, Georgia is going to lean heavily on its ground attack and defense. New coordinator Brian Schottenheimer won’t change much in regards to the overall offensive approach, but a leader at quarterback needs to emerge this fall. Ramsey finished spring at the top of the depth chart, and Lambert transferred to Georgia after starting nine games for Virginia in 2014. Bauta is a dual-threat option and has completed 4 of 5 passes in two years of snaps.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Ramsey


Related: The SEC's Top Heisman Contenders for 2015


7. Ole Miss


The Contenders: Chad Kelly vs. Ryan Buchanan vs. DeVante Kincade


The Rebels have one of the SEC’s top defenses. Will the offense find the right answers at quarterback and running back to push for the SEC West title? Kelly – a former Clemson quarterback and junior college recruit – is the favorite to win the job, but Buchanan is slated to take the first snap in fall camp. Kelly is the team’s most talented option, while Buchanan and Kincade have the most experience within coach Hugh Freeze’s offensive scheme.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Kelly


Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2015


8. Michigan


The Contenders: Jake Rudock vs. Shane Morris


Settling the quarterback battle is the top priority for new coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have options, as Iowa transfer Jake Rudock and junior Shane Morris lead the way entering fall camp. Rudock passed for 2,436 yards and 16 scores as the Hawkeyes’ starter in 2014 but was supplanted as the No. 1 quarterback at the end of 2014. Morris completed 14 of 40 passes for the Wolverines last season. Freshmen Zach Gentry and Alex Malzone are wild cards to watch.


9. Oklahoma


The Contenders: Baker Mayfield vs. Trevor Knight vs. Cody Thomas


Technically, this is still a battle. However, all signs point to Mayfield taking the first snap of the year for Oklahoma. The Texas Tech transfer passed for 2,315 yards and 12 scores with the Red Raiders in 2013 and is a good fit for new coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense. If Mayfield struggles, Knight (2,300 yards and 14 TDs in 2014) is expected to rank No. 2 on the depth chart.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Mayfield


Related: Big 12 Quarterback Rankings for 2015


10. Texas


The Contenders: Tyrone Swoopes vs. Jerrod Heard


Coach Charlie Strong has already indicated Swoopes and Heard will see time in the opener against Notre Dame. The Longhorns are looking for improvement on offense after averaging only 21.4 points per game in 2014. Swoopes showed flashes of promise but finished with 11 interceptions and struggled in losses against TCU and Arkansas. Heard spent 2014 as a redshirt and is considered the more dynamic playmaker on the ground.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Swoopes…but Heard takes over later in the season 


11. Florida


The Contenders: Will Grier vs. Treon Harris


The Gators struggled to find their offensive identity and rhythm under former coach Will Muschamp. While this offense appears to be on the right track under new coach Jim McElwain, Florida could have its share of ups and downs in 2015 with an inexperienced offensive line and question marks remain in the receiving corps. Quarterback play also has its share of uncertainty, as Grier – a redshirt freshman – is expected to supplant Treon Harris as the starter in 2015. Harris started six games in 2014 and finished with 1,019 yards and nine passing scores. Grier ranked as the No. 48 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Grier


Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015


12. UCLA


The Contenders: Jerry Neuheisel vs. Josh Rosen


Experience versus talent. That’s the storyline set to unfold this fall at UCLA. Neuheisel joined the program in 2012 and worked as Brett Hundley’s backup last season, throwing for 23 of 30 passes for 178 yards against Texas. While Neuheisel was solid in relief of Hundley last year, he’s not the favorite to win the job. Rosen – the No. 12 prospect in the 2015 247Sports Composite – enrolled in time to compete in the spring and is expected to start the opener. 


Projected Starter for the Opener: Rosen


13. Boise State


The Contenders: Ryan Finley vs. Brett Rypien vs. Thomas Stuart vs. Alex Ogle


Boise State usually has little trouble finding the next standout quarterback. Expect coach Bryan Harsin to find the right replacement for Grant Hedrick early in 2015, as Finley finished spring with an edge for the No. 1 spot. The Arizona native played in five games last season and completed 12 of 27 passes for 161 yards and two scores. Rypien – a four-star prospect – is an intriguing option for the future. Stuart could be Finley’s biggest challenger this fall.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Finley


Related: Mountain West Predictions for 2015


14. Texas Tech


The Contenders: Patrick Mahomes vs. Davis Webb


Dynamic and high-scoring offenses are the norm at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are looking for more consistency this season after averaging 30.5 points per game in 2014. Regardless of which quarterback starts, it’s safe to assume Texas Tech will be among the Big 12’s best in scoring. Mahomes stepped into the starting lineup after Davis Webb was injured last year and finished with 1,547 yards and 16 touchdowns. Although the numbers don’t reflect it (104 yards), Mahomes has enough mobility to give the offense an added dimension on the ground.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Mahomes


15. Louisville


The Contenders: Reggie Bonnafon vs. Will Gardner vs. Kyle Bolin


Only three quarterbacks made the contender list, but Penn State transfer Tyler Ferguson and freshman Lamar Jackson also deserve a mention in this space. However, all signs point to Bonnafon as the team’s starter for the opener against Auburn. In 10 games last season, Bonnafon threw for 864 yards and five scores and rushed for 164 yards and five touchdowns. Could Jackson see time as a change-of-pace option?


Projected Starter for the Opener: Bonnafon


Related: Louisville 2015 Fall Camp Preview


16. Kansas State


The Contenders: Joe Hubener vs. Jesse Ertz vs. Jonathan Banks vs. Alex Delton


Replacing Jake Waters won’t be easy for the Wildcats. However, don’t doubt Bill Snyder’s ability to quickly reload at the quarterback position. Former walk-on Joe Hubener is the favorite to start, but the junior has only eight career appearances and did not start a game at quarterback in high school. Sophomore Jesse Ertz, true freshman Alex Delton and junior college recruit Jonathan Banks are also in the mix.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Hubener


17. Washington


The Contenders: Jake Browning vs. K.J. Carta-Samuels vs. Jeff Lindquist


Will coach Chris Petersen look to the future with his quarterback choice? Or will the second-year coach choose experience? Browning is the team’s most talented option, ranking as the No. 71 prospect in the 2015 247Sports Composite. The California native also enrolled in time to compete in spring practice. Carta-Samuels redshirted last season, while Lindquist played in 13 games (with one start) and finished with completions on 10 of 30 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Browning


Related: Pac-12 2015 Quarterback Rankings


18. Northwestern


The Contenders: Zack Oliver vs. Clayton Thorson vs. Matt Alviti


The Wildcats are hoping to find a spark on offense after averaging just 21.3 points in Big Ten games last season. A three-way battle at quarterback is set to unfold in the fall, and there’s not much separating the candidates. Oliver has the edge in experience, throwing for 367 yards and two scores last season. He also started the season finale after an injury sidelined Trevor Siemian. The edge in talent goes to Thorson or Alviti, and both quarterbacks bring the added threat of the run to the offensive attack.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Thorson


19. Rutgers


The Contenders: Hayden Rettig vs. Chris Laviano


Gary Nova had his share of ups and downs at Rutgers, but he finished his career on a high note, throwing for 2,851 yards and 22 scores in 2014. With Nova out of eligibility, and coordinator Ralph Friedgen moving into an advisor role, the Scarlet Knights have a few big question marks to answer this fall on offense. Rettig – a transfer from LSU – has more physical tools but did not play with the Tigers in 2013 and sat out due to NCAA transfer rules in 2014. Laviano worked as Nova’s backup last season and completed 11 of 28 passes for 107 yards and one interception.


Projected Starter for the Opener: Laviano


20. Vanderbilt


The Contenders: Wade Freebeck vs. Johnny McCrary


After starting four quarterbacks last season, second-year coach Derek Mason wants to end the quarterback roulette in 2015. Finding a starter and giving that player a chance to develop and not look over his shoulder is a big priority for Mason and new coordinator Andy Ludwig. Freebeck was pressed into action as a true freshman last year and finished with just one touchdown and a 47.2 completion percentage on 72 attempts. McCrary led the team with nine touchdown tosses but also threw eight picks and completed 51.3 percent of his passes.


Projected Starter for the Opener: McCrary

College Football's Top 20 Quarterback Battles to Watch in Fall Practice
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/texas-am-unveils-black-alternate-uniforms-oct-31-game-against-south-carolina

Texas A&M is breaking out new alternate uniforms for its Halloween matchup against South Carolina.


The Aggies host the Gamecocks on Oct. 31 at Kyle Field, and Adidas has unveiled a new black alternate uniform and matte black helmet.


Texas A&M’s uniforms and helmet designs from Adidas have looked sharp in recent years, and the new alternates for the Halloween matchup fall into that same category.


Check out the Aggies’ new alternates for Oct. 31: 





Texas A&M Unveils Black Alternate Uniforms for Oct. 31 Game Against South Carolina
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 10:08
Path: /college-football/big-12-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-conference-foes-2015

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.


In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2015, Athlon asked coaches in the Big Ten to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015


Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.


Big 12 Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes




“Their skill guys on offense are as talented as anybody in the country.”


“They always seem to have not one, but three receivers. They always have a good running back. And their trigger man has been a guy who can run that offense.”


“Their issue has been defense. I don’t know if they’ll be much better this year. That always seems to be the thing that holds them back.”


“Art Briles has transformed the whole perception of that program. They were once great under Grant Teaff, then they hit a bump and lost sort of their tradition and the shine on the program. Art has brought them back with really good recruiting and great relationships with high school coaches and a system that works at a place like that.”


“You look traditionally at defenses that pair up with that style of offense, they don’t match up well at times. Then when you get to a power team, you haven’t seen it in the spring or the summer and it can get you. There’s some disadvantages in that. You’ve got to build yourself in this league to play, basically, five corners. Then you come up against somebody who wants to run the ball and you’ve got to change your mindset. It’s not easy to do it.”


“For seven or eight years now, I keep saying, ‘Oh good,  they’re going to lose so-and-so at quarterback.’ Then all of a sudden the next guy comes in and breaks all the records. (Robert) Griffin, (Nick) Florence after him, and then Bryce Petty. The new quarterback isn’t bad, either.”


“They have a tremendous supporting cast. Scheme-wise, they spread the field and their athleticism at wideout and running back is where they’ve gotten better over the years.”


Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions


Iowa State


“They’re so well coached. And they play hard, every play and every game.”


“They never seem to give up, no matter what their record is. They’re tough and disciplined. They always seem to have a playmaker, good linebackers. They’re solid in the kicking game.”


“Recruiting is difficult for them. They go all over to find kids and they don’t get the first pick, obviously. They have to go get some kids from Florida and obviously get into Texas. Not a lot of players in their backyard. It’s tough.”


“I thought schematically, what Mark Mangino does, he’s so good at studying the opponent and tweaking what he does week to week to move the ball.”


“The quarterback, Sam Richardson, is a guy who’s proven he can move the ball.”


“They’ve had a missing piece as far as a big-time playmaker. With Quenton Bundrage and Allen Lazard, they’ve got a chance to be better in that area. Those guys are talented.”


“If they lose (Luke) Knott, who’s been injured, that’ll be tough. To lose an experienced linebacker like that would be a blow. Depth is always a concern for them anyway, so a couple of injuries can really affect their team.”


“Not very often are they just blown out on the field.”


“The tough thing about them is when you play them in Ames, they’ve got an attitude about them and there’s a mystique. The crowd gets into it and they really support them. They’re different up there.”


Related: Big 12 Breakout Players for 2015




“I definitely think there will be excitement in the program. I think David Beaty brings excitement with his approach. He’s hired a bunch of young coaches who coach enthusiastically and with excitement.”


“They have a junior college resource right there in state that is probably as good as any junior college situation in the country. Maybe they can lean on that.”


“They’ve just got to create more consistency. They’ll have a skill guy here and there, but they never have a lot of them. Still, they’re not that far removed from going to the Orange Bowl, so it can be done.”


“They have to get rid of that basketball stigma and approach football with a different attitude, which I believe David will bring.”


“David knows Kansas. I don’t think he’ll complain about what they don’t have. I think he’ll buy into just making it work with what they have.”


“They’ve gone heavily into the junior college recruiting route recently, and sometimes those kids pan out better their second year. They might have some guys sitting in the wings that not many people know about, who could make a big improvement from their first year to their second.”


“They have some interesting guys at quarterback, guys with some skills, but I’m not sure either of the two are premium guys. And it takes a premium player at that position in this league.”


“Keeping Clint Bowen as defensive coordinator was smart. They’ve been pretty good on that side of the ball, and he’s a big part of that.”


Related: Big 12 Programs Will Sink or Swim With New Coordinator Hires


Kansas State


“Two words: Bill Snyder. They’re the most well-prepared, well-disciplined team we play all year. We say the same thing every year, but he’s amazing. It’s incredible what he’s done since he came back (out of retirement).”


“They always seem to find a skill guy who can hurt you. And they always seem to find a quarterback who can run his system. Now, they have to do that again this year, losing Tyler Lockett and Jake Waters, but I always expect them to plug their holes.”


“Offense, defense, special teams, they don’t hurt themselves. When they play ‘perfect football,’ you’ve got to match them, or else every mistake is going to cost you in the game. I think they sort of grind you out until you make a mistake.”


“Kansas State was probably the most physical game we played last year. That’s sort of who they are every year. And you better be ready to get after it against them.”


“Thank goodness their quarterback is gone, because he was dynamic. I thought he was really underrated as far as a guy who could make things happen, throwing and scrambling.”


“They’ll be solid. They’ll be sound. And then they’ll be a very tough team. And they’ve got enough back on defense that they should be in every game.”


“Some teams are more aggressive in their schemes — Kansas State isn’t a big blitz team. They don’t bring a lot of pressure. So they might give up some yards. I don’t see them giving up a whole lot of explosive plays, though. So you have to really earn what you get on offense.”


Related: Big 12 Quarterback Rankings for 2015




“I think what Bob Stoops has done with the staff is try to create a new identity. It comes down to this offense being successful, not only in this league but across the country. Going that route, I think he’s going to restore excitement.”


“They were thin at receiver and they’ll have to be better there.”


“I don’t know who’s going to be the quarterback. And that’s a question mark. But they obviously have great running backs.”


“It’s hard to fathom them not having a great quarterback, but everybody misses in recruiting at times. And then if you miss on a guy like the quarterback, that can set you back. They’ve always been good at recruiting skill guys.”


“Lincoln Riley will bring an offensive philosophy similar to what Oklahoma State does, West Virginia does, Baylor, TCU. He’s a young coach with a great opportunity to be at a special program. I think he can breathe new excitement into it.”


“I’ve seen East Carolina play and I know the family tree — (Riley’s) not necessarily pigeon-holed into doing exactly what’s been done by Mike Leach and that family. He’s moved the ball against some great defenses. That’s what scares you. Watch what East Carolina did without maybe the talent and the recruits that everybody would say he’s playing against. He’s beaten a lot of those ACC teams that supposedly can recruit better than them. I haven’t looked at the stats, but I doubt there’s been a year where he’s been average on offense. That’s why he’s at OU now.”


“They have to find a quarterback, but they can probably win more games than they lose without throwing it one down, and just handing off to that No. 32 (Samaje Perine).”


Related: College Football's Top Coordinator Hires for 2015


Oklahoma State


“Wow, things really turned for the better for them in a hurry. And that all comes down to the quarterback. The (Mason Rudolph) kid was impressive, getting thrown into the fire late and handling the situation so well. Showed great maturity and calm. He looks like a really good one.”


“They were forced to play a lot of kids last year, and it really showed in some games. They got exposed in spots. But now those guys should benefit from the experience and turn depth into a strength, especially on defense.”


“(Emmanuel) Ogbah is a man. He’s so disruptive on the edge, with great speed and power and athleticism. And I think he’s going to be better after a full year as a starter.”


“They lost two really solid and underrated inside guys on the defensive line (James Castleman and Ofa Hautau). That’s not easy to replace, and it’ll be a big question mark going into the season.”


“(Brandon) Sheperd is a hoss when he’s really locked in. But he can drift, too. He was a man in the Oklahoma game and in the bowl. He could be their next stud at wideout, if he figures it all out.”


“They’ve always prided themselves on balance, but the running game was pretty ordinary last year. O-line improvements should help, but is there a game-breaker back there? They’ll be counting on the junior college kid (Chris Carson) to provide some juice.”


“They really miss Tyreek Hill, as much on special teams and for what he did to defenses as his production. You had to be aware of him at all times.”


Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015




“They have everybody back on offense, which is the scary part.”


“They’re very skilled. Very well-coached. You can’t say enough about their skill guys. And with everybody coming back, the coaching staff coming back, there’s continuity there on the staff and on offense.”


“Anytime Gary Patterson is involved on defense, they’re going to be good. They’ve lost a lot on defense, but I see them not losing a step.”


“(Trevone) Boykin can be even better. The second year in the system, I’m sure (Doug) Meacham has learned what he can and can’t do and will tailor the game plan to what he does best. He was a completely different quarterback a year ago.”


“Right now, if you go down the schedule, you’d say they’re favored in every game. Now, that doesn’t mean anything now, other than they’re really talented and figure to be the solid favorite in the league. They still have to go out and do it. But they’re capable.”


“In the second year of Meacham’s offense, you don’t see them doing anything but getting better. And that’s scary.”


“They’ll have some tricky road games, at some tough places to play. But they’ve got the program to where that shouldn’t bother them.”


“Their biggest issue will be how they handle success. And how hungry they’re going to stay. That’s the thing you never know about. They rose up last year and had a great year and look like they’ve turned a corner. But you never know.”


Related: Ranking the Big 12's Quarterbacks for 2015




“They’re only going to get better in the system. Once that new staff realizes who they have and the pieces they have and where to fit them, I think they make a move.”


“They’ve got the greatest recruiting hotbed in the country. They’ve got tireless workers in recruiting. I just think they’re going to take another step forward.”


“What’s held them back the past couple of years, they’ve gotten commitments early in a kid’s high school career and some of those kids didn’t pan out. And they’ve had some injuries. And some discipline problems where they had to remove some guys from the team. I think it’s a combination of all of that.”


“They could probably contend, because they can fill a few holes and be a lot better.”


“I see a normal progression. Just like Year 2 with players, that next year they’re more mature and they know the expectations, a lot of that same stuff is true for coaches in Year 2. They’re very proud down there. They’re very talented. I don’t think that staff’s going to let them accept mediocrity.”


“They need the quarterback position to develop. Tyrone Swoopes was good at times last year, really good sometimes. But there needs to be consistency. With another year of teaching and watching film and reps, he should get better. And to win a lot of games down there, I don’t think you have to be phenomenal at quarterback. You just have to be reliable.”


Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015


Texas Tech


“They’ve got skill. Their skill players know how to get you out in space.”


“They’ve got some inside receivers who are really good and cause some matchup problems. And the running back is back, and he’s a good one, so they’ve got some talent on offense.”


“This will be what, Kliff Kingsbury’s third year now? I’m sure he’s more comfortable with what he’s doing. And their staff as well. Sometimes it takes some time in transitioning to a new coach and a new system. Kliff has to have time to do that.”


“Defense is the question. They weren’t very good last year. I see that as a weakness.”


“I think the quarterback, Pat Mahomes, he’s a competitor. Last year, I think people saw him as a guy who could do what Kliff wants. I bet this year, he’s really going to give people fits, because he’s seen how people have attacked him, he’ll know where to throw the ball quicker. He can make a play when it’s not there. I was impressed with him last year. Their whole team will be a lot more sound, but he’s going to be the key for them.”


“They’re getting more recruits who fit to their scheme.”


“The defensive coordinator they got from Houston, David Gibbs, he’s highly respected. He does a lot of great things to bother quarterbacks, putting defenders in their eyes.”


“The overall maturity of their team is a question. There’s still youth in some areas.”


“How many dynamic playmakers they have? I’m not so sure. They don’t have as many as other people do, that when a game’s on the line, a guy makes a tremendous play.”


Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015


West Virginia


“They lost their quarterback (Clint Trickett) but could really be better there. The (Skyler) Howard kid was good when he got his chance last year. And they’ve got some competition there, too. And Dana Holgorsen knows what to do with good quarterbacks.”


“They’ll need some new receivers, losing two to the NFL. And Kevin White was a monster. He was so good last year, probably the best receiver in the nation. So that’s something to watch, to see if they can find the guys needed to keep that offense humming. They’ve been in this spot before and plugged in replacements. But it’s never automatic.”


“They’re much different and much better in Morgantown. They still have to prove they can go on the road and win big games.”


“They’ll go as far as their defense allows them to go. Speed on that side of the ball has been an issue, although they’ve had a few years now to recruit and build a defense better suited to handle the spread offenses of the league. You would think they will be better.”


“If it’s a close game and they need a kick to win, they’ve got one of the best field-goal guys around in (Josh) Lambert. That kid’s got a big leg. And he’s accurate, too. I don’t want to see him lining up with the game on the line. That is such a luxury to have — a kid who can step up and make a big kick.”


“They’ve got some experience and stability in the secondary, which they haven’t had since they’ve been in the Big 12. (Karl) Joseph is a playmaker back there.”

Big 12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2015
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/michigan-2015-fall-camp-preview-and-key-position-battles-watch

The Summer of Harbaugh is finally coming to a close. It’s now time for the Michigan Wolverines to start focusing on actual football, as they open up fall camp this week.


While the tweets to Nicki Minaj and painfully-awkward radio stints are certainly entertaining, Wolverine fans remain anxious to see what the on-field product will look like under the new staff with plenty of questions still left unanswered as we head into the 2015 campaign.


Michigan’s Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines


1. Who Starts at Quarterback

As many as five quarterbacks will compete this fall to be the first Wolverine signal-caller of the Jim Harbaugh era, but in the eyes of many, this is really just a two-man race. Junior Shane Morris closed the spring as the starter over a pair of freshmen, but Iowa graduate transfer Jake Rudock joined the group this summer with no intentions of riding the pine as a senior.


Coaches have stressed all offseason that limiting turnovers and a high completion rate will be key determining factors as to who will eventually win the job. This potentially gives the upper hand to Rudock, who threw just five interceptions all of last year while completing over 60 percent of his passes. This competition is likely to go deep into fall camp.


Related: Big Ten 2015 Preseason Quarterback Rankings


2. Will the Offensive Line Finally Produce?

The offensive front for the Wolverines is littered with former five- and four-star recruits, but very few, if any, have lived up to that potential. For better or worse, five players with significant starting experience return, including former Freshman All-American Mason Cole at left tackle and senior Graham Glaslow, who will move to center with the sudden retirement of Jack Miller. Juniors Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis and Erik Magnuson are the other projected starters.


Perhaps the biggest addition is new offensive coordinator Tim Drevno who, after spending last season as USC’s offensive line coach, will join Harbaugh’s staff for the fourth time after previous stops with San Diego, Stanford and the 49ers. Drevno is expected to drastically improve the run game for the Wolverines after four historically bad seasons of the Brady Hoke era.


3. Improving the Turnover Margin

After finishing 33rd in the country in turnover margin in 2013, the Wolverines fell all the way to 124th in last year at minus-16. The three teams behind the Wolverines (Washington State, Georgia State and Eastern Michigan) had a combined record of 6-30. If Michigan is to get back to its winning ways, that is the No. 1 area that needs to be fixed. Better quarterback play and a more opportunistic defense will help immensely. 



The Wolverines head into 2015 with four legitimate contenders to start at running back, but each comes in with their own set of concerns. Junior De’Veon Smith led Michigan in rushing last season (519 yards, six TDs) but lacks the breakaway speed to be an every-down back. Has that improved over the offseason? Former prized recruit Derrick Green showed glimpses of his five-star rating in 2014, but his season was derailed with a broken clavicle after just six games. Did Green keep his weight down while he was sidelined — an issue he has struggled with in the past?


Fellow junior Drake Johnson broke out in the final four games of 2014 (361 yards), but suffered a second ACL injury in as many seasons. Can Johnson stay healthy enough to be depended on? The wild card is USC transfer Ty Isaac, who is eligible after sitting out last season. This group looks to have all the makings of a running-back-by-committee unless one can separate himself from the pack.


5. Shortage of Weapons in Passing Game

Gone is leading receiver and lone red-zone threat Devin Funchess, who wound up a second-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers. Junior Amara Darboh returns after finishing second on the team with 36 receptions, but other than that, no returning receiver caught more than 14 passes a season ago. The tight ends are expected to be featured heavily in the new offense, but the Wolverines will need one of the younger receivers to develop opposite Darboh. Likely candidates include Jehu Chesson, Freddy Canteen or redshirt freshman Moe Ways.


— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.

Michigan 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 09:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/forgotten-5-star-college-football-recruits-2011

Recruiting is a huge part of college sports. It's no secret that you must recruit well if you want to compete for championships. It's so important, many college football fan bases celebrate landing big-time recruits as if they won a conference or national title.


That said, recruiting well doesn't always mean recruiting the 5-star kids. Sometimes, recruiting well is the ability to look at a 5-star kid and figure out whether or not he can meet his full potential. This can be difficult, as things like injuries obviously cannot be predicted or controlled.


Every year, recruiting websites and publications slap "star ratings" on teenagers based on all sorts of factors. Sometimes the ratings are accurate. Often times, however, everyone misses — labeling a kid as a sure-fire, can't miss prospect, only to watch him fade into obscurity once he gets on campus.


Four years have passed since the 2011 recruiting class signed their letters of intent. ESPN rated 14 athletes from that class as 5-star recruits. Some of the names you'll recognize: Jadeveon Clowney, Isaiah Crowell, Cyrus Kouandjio. Nearly half of them, however, never made or have yet to make their mark on college football. 


Let's take a look at the forgotten 5-stars of 2011.


Christian Westerman, Tackle, Auburn

Westerman was rated by ESPN as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the class and the No. 6 prospect overall. After redshirting in 2011, he played in only two games the following season due to an ankle injury. After that season, he transferred to Arizona State and made the position switch to guard. He'll be a senior for the Sun Devils this season.


Tony Steward, Linebacker, Clemson

Steward was rated as the top linebacker and No. 9 overall prospect in the class. Though he appeared in 43 games in his college career, he never saw consistent action until his senior season. He left Clemson with 104 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and no interceptions. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Bills, where he'll fight for a roster spot this fall.


Jeff Driskel, Quarterback, Florida

Driskel is probably the most recognizable name on the list. ESPN has him as the top quarterback in the class and the No. 10 prospect overall. Four disappointing seasons later, he transferred away from Florida to Louisiana Tech, where he'll be a senior this coming season. He tossed 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions during his time in Gainesville.


George Farmer, Wide Receiver, USC

Farmer was the top-rated receiver in the class and the No. 12 prospect overall according to ESPN. He caught five passes for 49 total yards combined in his first two seasons for the Trojans. He then tore his ACL and MCL during the 2013 preseason, causing him to miss his true-junior year. In 2014, he returned and caught 25 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns. He entered the 2015 NFL Draft and went undrafted. He signed on with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent and will compete for a roster spot this fall.


Ray Drew, Defensive End, Georgia

Drew was the No. 2 defensive end in the class behind only Clowney and the No. 13 prospect overall. He left Georgia with 7.5 sacks to his name — six of them coming during the 2013 season. He entered the 2015 NFL Draft and went undrafted. He'll compete for a spot on the Miami Dolphins roster this fall.


Charone Peake, Wide Receiver, Clemson

Peake was the No. 2 receiver in the class and the No. 14 prospect overall. His collegiate career has been littered with injuries so far. He's managed just 49 catches for 456 yards and five touchdowns as a result. He'll give it one more go in 2015 for a Clemson Tiger team that has its eyes on the College Football Playoff.


— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

The Forgotten 5-Star College Football Recruits of 2011
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/floyd-mayweather-responds-ronda-rousey-sportscenter-espn-espy

A while back during the ESPYs pre-show, Ronda Rousey pretty much owned Floyd Mayweather.


The UFC fighter joked saying she wonder how he felt finally being beat by a woman. Rousey admitted she had been holding on to that joke for a while, mainly because Mayweather pretended not to know who she was.


Mayweather went on SportsCenter to talk about his last fight and of course was asked about Rousey's joke.


"I've yet to see any MMA fighter or other boxer make over $300 million in 36 minutes," Mayweather said. "You know when she can do that... call me."

What kind of response would you expect from "Money" Mayweather?

Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 09:20
All taxonomy terms: Tom Brady, NFL
Path: /nfl/deflategate-shifts-footballs-fairness

With the release of the transcript from Tom Brady's Deflategate appeal hearing, we're finally getting some transparency on a controversy that has dragged on far longer than anyone would've hoped or expected. 


Whether or not Brady was masterminding a plot to deflate footballs will never be truly known because that will not be the focus of Judge Richard Berman, the U.S. District Court judge based in Manhattan who is presiding over the case. No, Berman's sole responsibility is to decide whether or not the punishment process was fair to Brady and, after a review of the appeal transcripts, the prognosis looks far better for Brady than when the NFL was controlling the message.


Related: Did the NFL Want Tom Brady's Phone or Not?


In the last collective bargaining agreement the NFLPA gave the Commissioner total and final power over punishment, a move that has looked more and more foolish with each new controversy the league has faced. Now Deflategate might just be the straw that breaks the Commissioner's back, if not potentially costing him his job, or at the least costing him absolute power when the next CBA is negotiated.


Most disturbing from the Brady appeal transcript is the revelation of contradictory information to what Commissioner Roger Goodell stated as one of his reasons for upholding Brady's original punishment — the contents of Brady's phone and text conversations with the assistant in charge of preparing the game balls, John Jastremski, just after the Deflategate controversy broke. 


Goodell stated: "In response to the question, 'Why were you talking to Mr. (John) Jastremski in those two weeks?,' Mr. Brady responded, in sum: 'I think most of the conversations centered around breaking in the balls.'"


The key words there are "In sum," because in reality Brady made plenty of mention that their conversations were about Deflategate. With the release of the transcripts Goodell has be caught at best cherry picking his quotes from Brady, and at worst flat out lying to support his punishment.


Of course they would be talking about Deflategate, because after Chris Mortensen's erroneous report that 11 of the 12 balls were more than two pounds underinflated, Brady and Jastremski must've been as confused as anyone. Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel brilliantly broke it down: “So the league created fake duress for Brady via false evidence and then found him guilty for reacting to it in an understandable fashion."


That certainly doesn't seem like a fair process, but the bigger problem for the NFL is one they willingly and blatantly did to themselves.


The Wells Report was supposed to be an independent investigation of Deflategate.


In theory, Ted Wells would go off, gather all the facts and then put together an unbiased report that the Commissioner would review before deciding on punishment. If it went like that, it would've been fair to Brady, but the NFL had its fingerprints all over the Wells Report from the get-go, and even went so far as to have the very law firm that put it together being the ones to represent the NFL at Brady's appeal.


When Wells was questioned at the Brady appeal as to how much NFL general counsel Jeff Pash was involved with the process, Wells confirmed he had reviewed drafts but stopped short of anything more, with the NFL claiming attorney-client privilege. 


Pash had been dismissive of the Patriots' pleas to correct Mortensen's false report in February, and now we learn that he helped craft the Wells Report, which was expertly framed to paint a picture of the Patriots being guilty.


The NFL paid Wells between $2.5 and $3 million for his investigation. Wells has plenty of experience in this kind of thing, so why would the NFL need its attorney involved to help word it? Shouldn't the facts write themselves? The NFL was foolish to insert Pash in the process, even going so far as to have him named a co-lead investigator at the top of the Wells Report, something that threw even Wells for a loop.


Pash's involvement seems like it should be enough to illustrate that the NFL's process on Deflategate was neither independent nor fair.


Without any knowledge of the Ideal Gas Law, the NFL immediately decided the Patriots were guilty and every step the league took from halftime of the AFC Championship Game to the release of Goodell's decision to uphold Brady's suspension has been to support that initial decision, whether it meant disregarding select testimonies or the importance of timing when the balls were re-measured, or flat out omitting portions of Brady's testimony that didn't fit its narrative.


The implications of this kind of behavior can't be lost on even the most ardent Patriot haters. If the NFL can do this to one of the game's marquee players the league can do it to anyone.


That's why Deflategate might be the last "gate" Roger Goodell ever gets to decide punishment on, and might just be the controversy that seals his fate as Commissioner.


— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.

Deflategate Shifts From Footballs to Fairness
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/tennessee-dt-kahlil-mckenzie-destroys-offensive-lineman-practice

Tennessee defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie is expected to be one of the SEC’s top freshman in 2015. And by all accounts, the freshman is making quite an impression in fall practice.


On Thursday, video emerged from Tennessee’s practice, which features McKenzie destroying an offensive lineman during drills.


Needless to say, McKenzie is going to be a prominent member of Tennessee’s defensive line this season: 


Tennessee DT Kahlil McKenzie Destroys Offensive Lineman in Practice
Post date: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/alabama-2015-fall-camp-preview-and-key-position-battles-watch

Another year, another preseason top-five ranking for the Alabama Crimson Tide. As Nick Saban embarks on his ninth year in Tuscaloosa, he will look to further cement his legacy a year after going 12-2 and winning yet another SEC title.


Related: Why Alabama Will or Won't Make the College Football Playoff in 2015


Fall camp started on Thursday for 'Bama, ahead of Sunday’s Fan Day and open practice for the football-deprived faithful who have waited seven excruciating months to see this year’s version of the Crimson Tide.


Alabama's Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines


1. Will the Real Alabama Quarterback Stand Up?

Perhaps the only other competition to hold a constituency's attention span as captive as the one at Alabama for quarterback is the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. The current incumbent by seniority, redshirt senior and Florida State transfer Jake Coker, appears to have a loose grip on the full-time job, but redshirt freshman David Cornwell is climbing in the polls. Fans looking for an expeditious decision by Saban on a starter might want to taper expectations — Blake Sims, last season’s revelation under center, wasn't confidently entrenched in the starting job until week 4 against Florida.

Related: SEC 2015 Preseason Quarterback Rankings


2. Strong Enough Corner and Safety Valves?

Alabama football under Saban has been synonymous with stifling defensive play. And while that still holds true for the team's defensive front seven, the secondary as of late has slightly faltered. Over the last three games of 2014 the Crimson Tide allowed 456, 272 and 256 yards passing against Auburn, Missouri and Ohio State, respectively. The talent is there with cornerback Cyrus Jones and converted safety Geno Smith, both seniors, and new secondary coach Mel Tucker is no stranger to Saban's philosophies, having previously worked with him at Michigan State and LSU. Tucker will work with additional ‘Bama defensive backs sophomore Tony Brown and redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey to shore up the embattled unit.


3. X, Y or Z Receiver?

Wide receiver Amari Cooper pulled in 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 scores for the Tide in 2014. But he’s now catching passes for the Oakland Raiders, so it’s up to fellow wideouts Chris Black, Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart to try and replicate that production. Foster and Stewart, both redshirt sophomores, did their best Cooper-Julio Jones impersonations in the team’s spring game, combining for 243 yards on 14 catches. Foster, for good measure, also added two receiving touchdowns. Black, a redshirt junior and the most battle-tested of the bunch, lacks the size of Foster and Stewart, but he's a dynamic playmaker who will see a measurable increase in targets.


Related: SEC Football Breakout Players for 2015


4. Enough Depth at Running Back?

Lead the team in rushing with 990 yards, average 5.8 yards per carry and score 11 touchdowns — that’s what ‘Bama junior Derrick Henry accomplished as a backup last season. No one doubts his potential. Alabama’s running back situation after Henry and senior Kenyan Drake, however, becomes murky. Drake’s 2014 season was cut short after suffering a broken leg at Ole Miss. He appears, by all accounts, to be fully healed. But if he struggles to regain the pre-injury athleticism that made him so dangerous in his first three years, the position group that has defined Saban’s offense since his arrival in T-Town might hit a few road blocks. This group was dealt a blow when five-star recruit Bo Scarbrough suffered an ACL tear in the spring, and when incoming freshman DeSherrius Flowers was ruled ineligible for the 2015 season. So depth could become an issue should Henry or Drake get hurt.


5. Will O.J. Howard Finally Emerge as a Threat?

Under Armour All-American Game alum O.J. Howard arrived in Tuscaloosa with much fanfare in 2013. Saban will now count on his large (6-6, 248) tight end to shoulder a good amount of the offensive load as he eases in whichever quarterback ultimately wins the starting job. Howard started three games last season and caught 17 passes for 260 yards. Alabama’s passing game has always relied on solid production from the tight end position, and Howard’s role in its success this season will be instrumental. Strong contributions from him will go a long way to keeping Alabama in the conference and national title hunt.


— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.”  Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

Alabama 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch
Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, SEC, Overtime
Path: /overtime/watch-alabama-new-hype-video-process-nick-saban-crimson-tide

Alabama has a winning tradition, and they're eager to get back to that.


The Crimson Tide lost last year in the College Football Playoff to Ohio State. Of course that didn't sit well with the team and you can bet the farm they're still thinking about it and plan to use it as motivation to get back to the top.


For Alabama "The Process Begins Now" and they're ready to begin, but more importantly end it correctly.


Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 15:27
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/little-kid-ask-jim-harbaugh-most-adorable-question-michigan-wolverines-media-practice

Michigan opens up practice today but before that, Jim Harbaugh took time to answer some questions from the media.


That's when this little guy asked the head coach the most adorable question.



That's enough to warm your heart before practice.

Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 13:52
All taxonomy terms: Vanderbilt Commodores, SEC, Overtime
Path: /overtime/vanderbilt-football-deletes-offensive-tweet-commodores-case

If you haven't heard, Vanderbilt football has been in a little bit of hot water lately regarding a rape case.


That's why it was it was a little strange when the team's football account tweeted out this slogan.



Sure, they were talking about football, but on social media many things are taken the wrong way and it was just poorly worded. They've since deleted the tweet but that didn't stop outlets from getting after them about their word selection.



Vanderbilt has since apologized for the tweet.



Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 13:16
Path: /college-football/lsu-head-coach-les-miles-backtracks-domestic-violence-stance

Mixed messages came out of LSU’s football program on Wednesday, the day before the Tigers begin fall practices for the 2015 season. After suspending junior offensive lineman Jevonte Domond on May 26 following a domestic violence arrest, on Wednesday head coach Les Miles reinstated his embattled tackle leading many to question the motive behind the decision.


On Monday, May 25, Domond was arrested on a felony charge of battery and domestic abuse, including strangulation by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. A Sherriff’s Office report released on Tuesday, May 26, cited Domond’s girlfriend stating she was “choked and battered during a heated argument.”


Miles immediately suspended the 22-year-old Arizona native stating, “It’s a crime that we cannot condone and behavior that we will not tolerate.”


Related: LSU 2015 Fall Camp Preview


The Sheriff’s Office report went into further detail about the domestic violence case with the victim detailing, “leaning over their new born baby’s crib (then being lifted) completely off the ground by her neck, and she began to lose consciousness.”


A he said, she said about what took place has ensued with Domond refuting the strangulation accusations but admitting he did pick up his girlfriend dropping her on their couch but only in hopes of getting her to stop pepper spraying him. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound, tackle said the alleged victim pulled a kitchen knife on him but the victim stated that was only after he had pushed her.


Domond’s case is still ongoing without any legal resolution. Per reports, Domond is reportedly seeking admittance to a pretrial diversion program.


On Wednesday Miles commented on Domond’s reinstatement stating, “He's in position to compete to play. We're letting the disposition of whatever entanglement he's involved in run its course. He's not suspended.”


LSU’s football program has been entangled in one ugly offseason legal matter after another seeing former defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao get arrested for robbing an unconscious man and punching a women in a parking lot outside a bar in Tigerland on June 14.


On June 12, four LSU players were arrested on unlawful entry charges in a reported attempt to retrieve goods believed stolen from 2014 starting quarterback Anthony Jennings. The arrest included Jennings, Maquedius Bain, and Dwayne Thomas. Bain left the LSU program on Monday after being reinstated to the team following a request by the alleged victim to drop all charges against the LSU players. 


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

LSU Head Coach Les Miles Backtracks on Domestic Violence Stance
Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 13:07
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Tech Hokies
Path: /college-football/virginia-tech-2015-fall-camp-preview-key-position-battles-watch

While other ACC programs are opening the 2015 season against teams like Wofford, Bethune-Cookman and Alcorn State, Virginia Tech is opening with the metal of all college football metal. The defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes come to Lane Stadium on Sept. 7 for the stand-alone, Monday night contest that annually closes out college football’s initial weekend.


Every program has questions. Virginia Tech will find out some answers a lot quicker than most. This puts added pressure on what happens during fall camp and provides a focus on the Hokies’ preparations for week one.


Virginia Tech’s Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines


1. The Health of Frank Beamer
The greatest coach in Virginia Tech history had throat surgery last December. He coached the team at the Military Bowl from the press box. Those that have heard interviews with him in recent weeks can tell that his voice is not the same. But the 68-year-old maintains that he is ready for camp to begin and is eager to get the Hokies back to the top of the ACC.


Related: How the Virginia Tech Hokies Can Rebound in 2015


2. Michael Brewer’s Decision Making
It was not surprising that Brewer needed some time to adjust to Virginia Tech. In his two years at Texas Tech, Brewer was part of an offense that ranked No. 2 nationally in passing both seasons. At Virginia Tech it is a little different. The first priority is to not put the defense in a bad spot by turning the ball over. Brewer has to become more comfortable with his role and reduce his 15 interceptions.


3. Offensive Line Cohesion

Beamer has coaches like Bud Foster, Bryan Stinespring, and Charley Wiles that have been on his staff for a very long time. But the offensive line coaching position has been a revolving door in recent years. Stacy Searles is back for a second year and Hokie fans hope this continuity is beneficial to a group that has much to improve on this fall.


4. Developing a Running Back Rotation
Virginia Tech does not have a standout, bell-cow back. J.C. Coleman looks like he will be the No. 1 running back, but don’t expect him to get a James Conner-like number of carries. What the Hokies do have is a number of solid ball carriers. Running backs coach Shane Beamer will spend the month of August figuring out a role for each of these players.


5. Luther Maddy and Brandon Facyson Returning From Injury
Entering last season, Athlon Sports named defensive tackle Maddy to its All-ACC first team and cornerback Facyson to the second team. But Maddy played in just four games in 2014 because of a meniscus tear, while Facyson appeared in only three games due to a stress fracture in his leg. If these two can return to 100 percent, the tough Hokie defense could be really, really nasty.


Related: ACC's Top Players Returning from Injury in 2015


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Virginia Tech 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles To Watch
Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Utah Utes, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/utah-unveils-awesome-throwback-uniforms-oct-10-game-against-california

Utah is dipping into its past for throwback uniforms for the Oct. 10 matchup against California.


The retro uniforms unveiled on Thursday were used by the program in the 1960-70s. Overall, these are a sharp look for the Utes, which feature the interlocking U's on the helmet and the usual red and white look for Utah's uniforms.


Check out the Utes retro uniforms and helmets: 


Utah Unveils Awesome Throwback Uniforms for Oct. 10 Game Against California
Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 12:20
All taxonomy terms: BYU Cougars, College Football
Path: /college-football/byu-2015-fall-camp-preview-and-key-position-battles-watch

Back in June, BYU held its annual media day event for, whom else, the media. BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe had a quote from that day that has lingered with me for the past few weeks, and that was he felt BYU didn’t have the necessary depth to compete with Power 5 opponents in the later part of the schedule. Due to those thoughts, Holmoe has made a concerted effort to get many of BYU’s marquee games in the early part of the season, case in point this year, which is being dubbed as the toughest September schedule in the country.


When you look at BYU in 2015, depth is going to be a question mark that not only Holmoe has, but also everyone that follows BYU football will be asking, as the season gets closer to kicking off. BYU’s starters can go toe-to-toe with pretty much any team in the country, but if the Cougars suffer an injury or two, this season could get away from them in a hurry.


Related: Coaches Talk Anonymously About BYU for 2015


Fall practices open up this Saturday afternoon in Provo, Utah, and to get you ready, here are my five fall camp storylines to keep an eye on.


BYU’s Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines


1. Quarterback Depth

Taysom Hill is a do-it-all quarterback who is one of the most dynamic athletes college football has to offer. With that said, Hill has suffered season-ending injuries two of the last three seasons. At a position where there is always the fear of losing your top signal-caller, BYU has that fear more than most. Those fears get amplified when the guys behind Taysom have not taken a rep in a live FBS game.


Tanner Mangum on paper appears to be the player that will emerge as the No. 2 option behind Hill. Mangum is a 21-year-old true freshman (that’s not a typo) who was the MVP of the Elite 11 for the class of 2012, and shared co-MVP honors in the Under Armour All-American Game with a guy named Jameis Winston.


While Hill is an elite runner, Mangum is the prototypical pocket-passing QB, the type that was synonymous with BYU football during the ‘80s and ‘90s under “Air Edwards.”


Keep an eye on Beau Hoge, son of former Pittsburgh Steeler and current ESPN analyst Merrill Hoge. The younger Hoge has received comparisons to Hill for his unique ability to pass and outrun his opposition.


2. Wanted: Pass Rushers

In recent years Bronco Mendenhall has built BYU into a program that hangs its hat on defensive football. Except for last season. Last year was the worst defense BYU has put out statistically since 1993. A lot of the struggles with the defense stemmed from a lack of pass rush up front.


Senior Bronson Kaufusi is switching back permanently to the defensive end spot after a year playing out of position at outside linebacker. Kaufusi is going to be looked upon this season to give this defense an elite pass rusher, something that’s been lacking since Ziggy Ansah graduated and went on to become a top-five NFL Draft pick.


3. Offensive Line Depth

The starting hogmollies that will be protecting Hill this season are very good, headlined by sophomore right tackle Ului Lapuaho and center Tejan Koroma. After the starters, however, it’s a big drop-off. BYU’s coaching staff is hoping that some members of the 2015 recruiting class round out the two-deep up front. Look for Texas natives J.J. Nwigwe and Jacob Jimenez to be competing right away for playing time as true freshmen.


4. Who replaces Jamaal Williams?

BYU suffered a significant loss on Thursday announcing that senior running back Jamaal Williams withdrew from school, and will redshirt this season.


Williams, who was recovering from a devastating ACL injury he suffered against Middle Tennessee last season was 924 yards away from becoming the school's all-time leading rusher.  Now without the "Swagdaddy" in the backfield there is a large question mark looming over the BYU backfield.


Algie Brown will likely be the starter when BYU squares off against the Huskers next month, but there's doubt that he could be an every down back.  Brown is BYU's best receiving rusher out of the backfield, but the Cougars will turn to a committee to try and replace the void left by Williams.


Walk-on Nate Carter who is a candidate to take Williams' scholarship this season will see an increased workload, but look for Taysom Hill to shoulder a lot of the success this group will have on the ground this fall.  Which can be a scary proposition considering Hill's history of suffering injuries.


Related: BYU Wild Card Players in 2015


5. Sense of Urgency

BYU is a program that is built around high expectations. Look at the past 40 years; BYU is fifth in the entire country for wins. The schools ahead of them? Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Florida State. That’s basically the who’s who of college football, and BYU is right there with them when it comes to winning. So needless to say, 8-5 the past three seasons hasn’t had many folks thrilled. A degree of restlessness is starting to creep up for a good portion of the fan base. Is that deserved? Debatable.


The good thing for BYU is that it has an opportunity with a nationally recognized senior quarterback, and an exciting schedule to inject life into the program. The key is that the Cougars need to have a sense of urgency, and get off to a fast start. If they don’t, BYU could be in danger of not going bowling for the first time since 2004.


Will we see a head coach that senses the time is now for BYU to win big? Will Hill have that urgency and display the necessary leadership that has been lacking for the past few years in this program? A lot of questions, but finally, we will start getting answers with the start of camp this weekend.


— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

BYU 2015 Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch
Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Big 10, Ohio State Buckeyes, Overtime
Path: /overtime/mekka-don-create-hype-video-ohio-states-zone-6-ohio-state-buckeyes

Mekka Don needs to just open every game for Ohio State with one of his songs. It's sure to get the whole team amped for any opponent.


The create of the Eziekiel Elliott Heisman hype video, and "The Silver Bullets Are Back," gives us anothe glimpse into the infamous "Zone 6" of the Buckeyes. Wide receivers of the past and present get some time to shine. The secondary of every team in the Big Ten just got put on notice.

Good luck trying to ground Zone 6 during the season.

Post date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 11:39