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All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/stewart-miss-nascar-race-following-saturday-incident-results-fatality-0

Tony Stewart will not participate in the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen International today after being involved in a tragic incident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park in upstate New York on Saturday night.


Stewart struck a competitor, Kevin Ward Jr., with his sprint car after the two were involved in a wreck. Ward exited his car, walking onto the track, to show his displeasure when Stewart’s car clipped the 20-year-old. Ward was thrown by the impact and lay motionless as track safety crews scrambled to the scene. He was announced dead on arrival at a local hospital. Stewart was not injured in the incident.


Stewart was questioned by authorities following the event. They stated that no criminal charges have been filed. Further activities at the dirt track were cancelled.


“When the investigation is completed, we will sit down with the district attorney and review it,” Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said. “But I want to make it very clear: there are no criminal charges pending at this time.”


A telephone call placed to the track by Athlon Sports at 2:00 a.m. EST went unanswered.


Stewart traveled to Watkins Glen overnight with the intention of racing in the NASCAR event today. However, Stewart Haas Racing Competition Director Greg Zipadelli addressed the assembled media at Watkins Glen Sunday morning and announced Stewart would sit out.


“We talked last night and then realizing, going through the night — gave Tony some time to sleep on it — and met with him this morning and he feels strongly this is the right thing to do,” Zipadelli said of the decision. “We at Stewart Haas Racing support it and agree with it. It's a difficult time for both parties. There's not a lot you can do. The only thing we can do is do what we feel is right and this is it. This is what we feel is right and are supporting Tony in it.”


Regan Smith will drive Stewart’s No. 14 SHR Chevy in today’s race.


NASCAR issued a statement Sunday morning, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr. We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.”


Shortly after the race at Watkins Glen began, Stewart released this statement:


"There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It's a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I've decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy."


Stewart made his return to NASCAR at the beginning of the 2014 season after being involved in a sprint car accident in August 2013. In that incident, Stewart suffered a broken leg in a crash at Southern Iowa Speedway and missed the final 15 NASCAR events of the season.


Stewart is mired at 19th in the Sprint Cup Series standings, without a win this season.



Photo by Action Sports, Inc.

Tony Stewart will not participate in the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen International today after being involved in a tragic incident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park in upstate New York on Saturday night.
Post date: Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 13:19
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR News & Notes, Tony Stewart, NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/stewart-miss-nascar-race-following-saturday-incident-results-fatality

Tony Stewart will not participate in the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen International today after being involved in a tragic incident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park in upstate New York on Saturday night.


Stewart stuck a competitor, Kevin Ward Jr., with his sprint car after the two were involved in a wreck. Ward exited his car, walking onto the track, to show his displeasure when Stewart’s car clipped the 20-year-old. Ward was thrown by the impact and lay motionless as track safety crews scrambled to the scene. He was announced dead on arrival at a local hospital. Stewart was not injured in the incident.


Stewart was questioned by authorities following the event. They stated that no criminal charges have been filed. Further activities at the dirt track were cancelled.


“When the investigation is completed, we will sit down with the district attorney and review it,” Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said. “But I want to make it very clear: there are no criminal charges pending at this time.”


A telephone call placed to the track by Athlon Sports at 2:00 a.m. EST went unanswered.


Stewart traveled to Watkins Glen overnight with the intention of racing in the NASCAR event today. However, Stewart Haas Racing Competition Director Greg Zipadelli addressed the assembled media at Watkins Glen Sunday morning and announced Stewart would sit out.


“We talked last night and then realizing, going through the night — gave Tony some time to sleep on it — and met with him this morning and he feels strongly this is the right thing to do,” Zipadelli said of the decision. “We at Stewart Haas Racing support it and agree with it. It's a difficult time for both parties. There's not a lot you can do. The only thing we can do is do what we feel is right and this is it. This is what we feel is right and are supporting Tony in it.”


Regan Smith will drive Stewart’s No. 14 SHR Chevy in today’s race.


NASCAR issued a statement Sunday morning, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr. We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.”


Stewart made his return to NASCAR at the beginning of the 2014 season after being involved in a sprint car accident in August 2013. In that incident, Stewart suffered a broken leg in a crash at Southern Iowa Speedway and missed the final 15 NASCAR events of the season.


Stewart is mired at 19th in the Sprint Cup Series standings, without a win this season.



Photo by Action Sports, Inc.

Tony Stewart will not participate in the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen International today after being involved in a tragic incident at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park in upstate New York on Saturday night.
Post date: Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 13:16
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /AP

Nobody brings more excitement and passion to his job as an NFL player than Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. We caught up with AD — arguably the best offensive player in football — this offseason to talk about the game, his place in football's hierarchy, and his life-threatening food allergy.


Q. What are your goals this season as far as yards, TDs, etc.?

A. I always set a goal of 2,000 or 2,500 yards. I like to aim high, I am always competing against myself to be better. That’s what keeps me hungry. And a championship – that’s the most important goal because that’s for the entire team and all the fans.


Q. What's your best work-out tip for an average guy?

A. Regular conditioning is key for everyone and anyone. And when you’re pushing yourself, I’ve learned the value of taking care of your body in between workouts. Things like stretching, icing, massages, those things that help your body repair itself, can be overlooked, but the recovery is just as important as the workouts themselves.


Q. Do you get nervous before a game?

A. Nerves are energy — I try to focus my energy on getting pumped up. I’ve been playing football since I was seven and I still love suiting up for a game, the ritual of getting ready, and that adrenaline flow as you step onto the field. From the moment I get to the locker room to suit up, I’m focused on the game.


Q. Do you play fantasy football? 

A. I don’t play, but if I did, I would probably draft Calvin Johnson or Peyton Manning – gotta give it to him, he’s one heck of a quarterback.


Q. What's been the toughest game loss you've ever had playing football?

A. That one is definitely the NFC Championship Game after the 2009 season. We felt like we had the team to do it and had a great chance to win the Super Bowl that year, but the Saints got us in overtime.  That was a tough one to take.


Q. Do you play Madden NFL? If so, do you play as yourself?

A. I play a few games and Madden is definitely one of them. I play as the Vikes sometimes, sure, but I switch it up too.


Q. Do you believe in the Madden cover curse?

A. Nah. I’m just going to work hard and bring it every single day on the field. Same as always.


Q. Who's the best running back in the NFL — other than yourself?

A. My top five running backs in the league, not including me, are Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and Maurice Jones-Drew. There’s a lot of talent out there.


Q. Where do you think you rank among running backs all-time?

A.  Number one. I feel I’m the best.


Q. What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the NFL today?

A. Right now there is so much discussion about things not related to the game on the field. We need to focus on the players and the game, and not have side issues pull the focus.


Q. What do you want to do after your NFL playing days are over?

A. That feels like a long way off. Right now I’m focused on football and what my goals are on the field this season. But that said … who knows, maybe one day you’ll see me on the big screen or as the next name in real estate. 


Q. Do you want to retire in your prime like Barry Sanders or hang around as long as possible like Brett Favre?

A. I don’t like to look too far ahead but I believe that I can play at a high level for many more years. Maybe ask me again in a few years when I reach my prime. 


Q. Should the NFL expand its schedule to more than 16 games?

A. Expanding the schedule isn’t about the sport or players, it’s about selling more advertising time. I think that the NFL needs to base its decisions on what is best for the players and the game.


Q. Who would you want to play Adrian Peterson in a movie?

A.  Will Smith — when he pumps up, there’s a resemblance, right?


Q. Your discovery of your own food allergy sparked your involvement with a campaign to raise awareness about life-threatening allergic reactions (). What can you tell us about your allergy, and about the campaign?

A. I didn’t know that I had a life-threatening allergy until I experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, during training camp two years ago. After eating one of my favorite foods, seafood gumbo, my eyes started itching and my throat started to swell to the point that I was having trouble breathing. It was pretty scary because I didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, when I called my athletic trainer, he recognized the symptoms of anaphylaxis and knew how to respond. He ran to my room with two EpiPen (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors and I administered one in my outer thigh. In the meantime, he called 911 so I could get emergency medical care. I’ve learned a lot of people are like I was – they don’t know how to respond to anaphylaxis. That’s why I’m partnering with Mylan Specialty on the Ready2Go campaign to encourage people to avoid their allergic triggers, know the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and be prepared to respond if it occurs. I am also encouraging those concerned about life-threatening allergies to talk to their doctor to determine if treatment is the right option for them. The fact is that life happens, and if you have a life-threatening allergy you have to be prepared. 

Post date: Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/michigan-unveils-alternate-jerseys-under-lights-game

Michigan is set to host Penn State in a rare night game in Ann Arbor this year, and the Wolverines will wear a special uniform for the matchup against the Nittany Lions.

The uniforms aren’t drastically different from Michigan’s usual look, but there are some alterations.


The Wolverines will wear a blue jersey and blue pants, while the numbers feature laser-cut stripes.


Michigan-Penn State is slated for Oct. 11. 

Michigan Unveils Alternate Jerseys for "Under the Lights" Game
Post date: Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /nascar/earnhardt-looks-exorcise-road-course-demons-watkins-glen

Each week, Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s road-racing disdain, Chase-qualifying opportunities for AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose, as well as the performances of Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick highlight Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.



1. Earnhardt more favorable of Watkins Glen despite road course disdain  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Matt Kenseth got to see firsthand just how much Dale Earnhardt Jr. dislikes road course racing when an out-of-control No. 88 stuffed his No. 20 into the barrier at Sonoma in June. Earnhardt, never shy to admit what he thinks is a lack of immense personal skill on the non-ovals, kept up this week his disdain for the twice-annual schedule aberrations.


“Stock car racing is based on cars driving in circles for hours,” Earnhardt tweeted in a reply. “Guess I’m too honest sometimes.”


Fortunately for Kenseth and the rest of the field, Earnhardt feels a bit more positive about Watkins Glen. The most recent Sprint Cup winner likes the higher speeds and fewer tight corners of the Watkins Glen layout.


“Sonoma is a much more technical track and a lot more challenging for me as a driver,” Earnhardt said in a release this week. “When we run the Glen, it’s straightaway then turn, straightaway then turn. I think I can be more of an asset to (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and help him with the car more so than I can at Sonoma.”


Earnhardt’s best Watkins Glen finish was third in 2003.



2. The last Chase chance?

AJ Allmendinger was fourth-fastest in the first Friday practice at Watkins Glen ahead of what could arguably the most important race of the season for his JTG-Daugherty team. The road course serves as Allmendinger’s best remaining chance to nab an unexpected win and, by default, an entry to the Chase for the Sprint Cup.


It’s all about grabbing a win to get in, thanks to NASCAR’s new playoff field first selecting race winners before reverting to point standings to fill the 16-driver lineup. Second place doesn’t much matter.


The same goes for Marcos Ambrose, the two-time Watkins Glen winner (2011, 2012), who is trying to join teammate Aric Almirola as a 2014 race winner. Both struggled at Sonoma in June – the last time that the Cup Series visited a non-restrictor plate track that serves up more equal team footing than most.


Aside from the road course experts – that’s what we’ll call Allmendinger and Ambrose – a former champion with a road course prowess may look at Sunday as the most golden of remaining Chase-entry opportunities. That former champion, of course, is winless Tony Stewart after a Pocono wreck basically sealed his chance to race in to the championship fight via the point standings.



3. Jeff Gordon mediocre, at best, since last 2001 Watkins Glen win  Jeff Gordon

Don’t believe the hype. Or something.


Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon will get plenty of talk ahead of Sunday’s race. His late 1990s streak of road racing dominance in Sprint Cup created a shadow that has long clouded his abysmal finishes at Watkins Glen since his last win there in 2001.


Gordon, making his 22nd start at the Glen Sunday, won four of five races at the road course from 1997 to 2001. Since, he’s notched only a pair of top 10s and has an average finish of 22nd. There was even that near-miss in 2007 when he spun in Turn 1 while leading comfortably with two laps to go. Brutal.


Gordon was second at Sonoma Raceway in June – creating a tempting predictor of success as the series returns to making left and right turns. But Gordon’s Sonoma success has been much consistent than Watkins Glen with two wins and 12 top 10s since 2001. The lack of translated success illustrates one point: while both are road courses, both tracks are substantially different.



4. Road course qualifying – not strategy – more important to Sunday success

Qualifying in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is important every week. But starting up front at Watkins Glen may prove the most telling of any track for end-of-race success – in spite of the notion that unorthodox pit strategy is how teams can get to the front at road course races.


Of the 21 tracks on the current Cup schedule, Watkins Glen holds the distinction of having the lowest “worst start to win” record. Steve Park set that mark with his win from 18th in 2000. No one has ever done it at Watkins Glen from further back, and the Sprint Cup worst-to-first average among all tracks is 26th.


Qualifying well at the road course typically bears out a good finish even without taking the checkered flag. Just two drivers who started inside the top 5 in the last five races (Marcos Ambrose in 2013 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2012) have failed to finish. The remaining 23 top-5 starters have an average finish of sixth.


Strategy? It will play a role Sunday. But it probably won’t matter as much as what happens during qualifications on Saturday.



5. Harvick fast in pursuit of second Watkins Glen win  Kevin Harvick

It’s been eight years since Kevin Harvick scored his only Cup-level road course win on a road course. He did so at Watkins Glen after leading 28 laps in the 2006 race and in the first Friday practice session, he looked to have a car capable of recording career road course win No. 2.


Harvick paced the session with a lap of 68.652 seconds – an elapsed time some three-tenths of a second faster than second-place Jimmie Johnson. The lap speed also broke Marcos Ambrose’s 2013 single-lap track qualifying record.


Nabbing a win Sunday would mark Harvick’s third of the year and put a nice cap on a summer stretch filled some highs and lows for the first-year No. 4 team. From Dover in June to last week at Pocono, Harvick scored two runner-up finishes mixed with three finishes of 20th or worse. The roller coaster stretch slowed Harvick’s rapid ascent in the point standings – he needed just five races to jump from 26th to 12th in points in the spring – but also flashed plenty of signs that the Stewart-Haas operation will be strong when the Chase begins.



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Each week, Geoffrey Miller’s “Five Things to Watch” will help you catch up on the biggest stories of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ upcoming race weekend. This week, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s road-racing disdain, Chase-qualifying opportunities for AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose, as well as the performances of Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick highlight Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 15:43
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-8-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for August 8:

• This just in: . Now back to our regular programming.

• Scandal brewing: .



• This is interesting: .



• This is possibly good news: .

. Good job, good effort, Sal.



• Johan Kok, a club pro from Brentwood, Tenn., had the shot of the opening day at the PGA Championship — on his first hole of the championship.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 11:25
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC West, Oakland Raiders, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/oakland-raiders-2014-team-preview-and-predictions

General manager Reggie McKenzie spent his first two seasons in Oakland cutting high-salaried players and getting the Raiders out of salary cap hell. The Raiders entered free agency this year with around $65 million in cap space, and McKenzie started spending like a man who had won the lottery. He signed nearly a dozen free agents, most of them in their late 20s and early 30s, veterans with strong résumés and huge chips on their shoulders.


“We’re just kind of the throwaways it seems like,” says former Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. “Everybody here has something to prove. We all know we have something left, whether it was a bad year last year or things didn’t work out from another team, whatever it may be. As a whole, we’re fighting for the same thing, which is respect.”


The Raiders’ free-agent haul also included ex-Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, former Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley and former Green Bay wide receiver James Jones. All three own Super Bowl rings. McKenzie used more of the Raiders’ cap space when he traded for quarterback Matt Schaub, another veteran with something to prove.


After back-to-back 4–12 seasons, McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen will face some heat in Year 3 of their regime. Team owner Mark Davis has proven to be more patient than his father, the late Al Davis, but his patience has limits.



Oakland hopes the 33-year-old Schaub can resurrect his career and rejuvenate the Raiders’ passing attack. Schaub has passed for more than 4,000 yards three times in his career, but he’s coming off his worst season and was benched in Houston. At one point, he threw a pick-six in four straight games, setting an NFL record. Schaub finished with 10 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions and a passer rating of 73.0, by far his lowest since being traded by Atlanta to Houston in 2007. If Schaub falters, Allen’s options will probably be rookie Derek Carr, a second-round pick, and second-year pro Matt McGloin, who started six games last season.


The Raiders added some experience to their young receiving corps by signing Jones. He made 30 starts over the past two seasons for Green Bay, catching a combined 123 passes for 1,601 yards and 17 touchdowns. Rod Streater, who made the roster as an undrafted rookie in 2012, led the Raiders with 60 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns last season. At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Streater is a big, physical receiver who could complement the smaller, quicker Jones. Denarius Moore has speed to get deep and a knack for making acrobatic catches, but he has lacked consistency since coming to Oakland as a fifth-round pick in 2011 out of Tennessee. Tight end Mychal Rivera, another Tennessee product, flashed big-play ability as a rookie.


If they can stay healthy, Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden could form a powerful one-two punch at running back. Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing in 2011 with 1,606 yards, his third straight season cracking the 1,300-yard mark. He has 8,071 career rushing yards but averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry last season when he rushed for just 803 yards. McFadden, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft, has been plagued by injuries and has just one 1,000-yard rushing season. In a surprise move, the Raiders re-signed him for one year. Jones-Drew seems more suited for a starting role in the Raiders’ power-running scheme, but McFadden adds explosiveness and versatility with his skill as a pass-catcher. Fullback Marcel Reece, coming off his second straight Pro Bowl season, is another versatile weapon.


Jones-Drew, McFadden and Reece will run behind a new-look offensive line. The Raiders, who lost starting left tackle Jared Veldheer as a free agent to Arizona and released starting right guard Mike Brisiel, could have four new starters joining holdover center Stefen Wisniewski. Menelik Watson, a second-round pick last year, will get a chance to win the starting job at right tackle. Donald Penn, a free-agent pickup from Tampa Bay, is ticketed for left tackle. Former New York Jet Austin Howard should take Brisiel’s spot at right guard unless Watson falters and he’s needed at right tackle. Kevin Boothe, who returned to the Raiders after seven seasons with the New York Giants, will battle Khalif Barnes and rookie Gabe Jackson at left guard.



The Raiders allowed 453 points last year, the second-highest total in franchise history. They ranked 28th against the pass, 13th against the run and 22nd in total defense. A defensive makeover was in order, and that’s what McKenzie and Allen delivered. The Raiders desperately needed to bolster their anemic pass rush and improve their secondary, especially at cornerback. They used free agency to address both needs. They also used the No. 5 overall draft pick to land outside linebacker Khalil Mack, a gifted pass-rusher and a disruptive force.


Tuck will start at right end, while Woodley, an outside linebacker with Pittsburgh, will start at left end in Oakland’s 4-3 scheme. Tuck has 60.5 career sacks, including 11 last season. He’ll likely move inside and play tackle in the nickel, with Mack lining up at right end. Woodley has 57 career sacks. Former Texan Antonio Smith is expected to start at one tackle spot and add a pass-rush push up the middle.


The Raiders signed former 49er cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers. Brown will likely start along with D.J. Hayden, a first-round draft pick last season. Rogers is expected to be the nickel and could start if Hayden struggles after an injury-plagued rookie season. Hayden underwent surgery earlier this summer to repair a stress fracture in his foot, which has turned him into merely an observer during training camp. The team is hopeful he will be back on the field before the end of the preseason.  Free safety Charles Woodson, another veteran with a Super Bowl ring, decided to play another season after returning to the Raiders from Green Bay last year. Starting strong safety Tyvon Branch returns after missing the final 14 games last season with a broken leg.


Mack appears ticketed to start at weak-side linebacker. Middle linebacker Nick Roach, a former Chicago Bear, led the Raiders with 112 tackles and had 5.5 sacks last year, his first with Oakland. Strong-side linebacker Sio Moore, a third-round pick from Connecticut, had 50 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a rookie.



Marquette King took over for long-time punter Shane Lechler and averaged an NFL-best 48.9 yards per punt as a rookie. King, however, had a net of just 40.1, tied for 12th in the league. He needs to combine more control and accuracy with his power. Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski had an off year after signing a four-year contract extension. Taiwan Jones, who has developed into a special teams coverage ace, averaged 24 yards on kickoff returns.



If Schaub can regain his 4,000-yard passing form, Oakland’s free-agent pickups produce and Mack makes an impact, the Raiders have a chance to finish .500. Of course, those are big ifs, and the Raiders face a killer schedule that includes games against defending Super Bowl champion Seattle, New England and San Francisco.



Oakland Raiders 2014 Team Preview and Predictions
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NFC, NFC East, Washington Redskins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-2014-team-preview-and-predictions

In what was a typically tumultuous offseason for the Redskins, the most significant upheaval occurred in the head coach’s office, where the team switched from a gritty ex-quarterback still driven by his failure to make it to the NFL as a player to a gritty ex-quarterback still driven by his failure to make it to the NFL as a player.


The hope, however, is that new Redskins coach Jay Gruden will succeed where Mike Shanahan failed — by instilling a healthier, less suffocating culture around the team, avoiding major personnel blunders and, most important, connecting on both a professional and emotional level with third-year quarterback Robert Griffin III.


On the field, the Redskins’ fortunes remain tethered to the health and production of the talented but headstrong Griffin, whose first 24 months in the NFL included a slew of endorsements, a division title, a Rookie of the Year award, a devastating knee injury and an unceremonious benching at the end of 2013. His third season will be a pivotal one both for Griffin and for the franchise that employs him.



To this point, Gruden’s coaching career has been one long education in offensive philosophy — from his days at Louisville playing under Howard Schnellenberger to his apprenticeship in Tampa Bay under big brother Jon to his many years building a reputation as an offensive savant in football’s bush leagues (AFL, UFL, WLAF). But he has never had a weapon at his disposal quite like Griffin. What will Gruden do with him?


Here’s what he won’t do: Run him 120 times, as Shanahan did in 2012. The read-option offense — a significant and controversial part of the offense Shanahan designed for Griffin — will be used sparingly, as Gruden’s self-described top priority with Griffin is keeping the young man healthy. Griffin may finally get his wish: An opportunity to prove himself as a classic, drop-back passer — albeit one who can still take it to the house with his legs at any time.


The Redskins’ most significant personnel move of the offseason was signing Pro Bowl receiver/kick returner DeSean Jackson away from Philadelphia, simultaneously giving themselves another playmaking receiver to pair with Pierre Garçon and weakening a division rival. The Redskins have so much receiver depth now — with Aldrick Robinson and newly signed Andre Roberts on board — that veteran Santana Moss could have a hard time making the roster.


Gruden’s offenses have traditionally been heavily tight end-centric, which could portend a monster season for Jordan Reed, who was on his way to an 80-catch rookie season in 2013 before a concussion cut short his campaign. Griffin loves him as a target, and even with veteran Logan Paulsen — a superior blocker who can also line up at fullback — returning in 2014, Reed should be a major part of the offense.


Another player who could benefit from Gruden’s arrival is Roy Helu Jr., a talented running back who was sometimes buried in Shanahan’s offense. Although third-year pro Alfred Morris remains the Redskins’ go-to back on first and second downs, Helu’s pass-catching abilities could make him an essential third-down presence in Gruden’s offense, which highly values pass-catching running backs. The third running back on the roster is likely to be sixth-round pick Lache Seastrunk out of Baylor.



Of all the victims of Shanahan’s micro-managing ways, perhaps nobody had it worse than defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who was frequently overruled by his head coach and, by all accounts, forced to rein in his preferred attacking style. That is expected to change under Gruden, who coached under Haslett briefly in the UFL and who has given Haslett full autonomy to run the defense any way he sees fit.


What will that mean on the field? For starters it means outside linebacker Brian Orakpo is likely to be unleashed as a pass-rusher rather than dropping into coverage as he frequently did last season. The same is likely to be true, to an extent, of the other outside linebacker, Ryan Kerrigan. This is a make-or-break season for Orakpo, whom the Redskins hit with the franchise tag, and at the very least he should get an honest chance to prove he is an elite pass-rusher.


Orakpo will have a new partner in the pursuit of quarterbacks after the Redskins signed defensive lineman Jason Hatcher away from the archrival Dallas Cowboys this offseason. Hatcher is 32, but is coming off a career-best 11 sacks in 2013. The Redskins are likely to shift him from tackle to end to take greater advantage of his pass-rushing skills. Hatcher underwent arthoscopic knee surgery in June and missed the early part of training camp, but he should be ready to go for the regular season.


Haslett’s 2013 defense tied for 30th in the NFL in most points allowed, and nowhere were the deficiencies more obvious than in the secondary, which seemed to consist of only two kinds of players — aging veterans and underachieving youngsters. The re-signing of veterans DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Meriweather and the signing of 34-year-old Ryan Clark this offseason suggest the team still doesn’t fully trust younger secondary players such as David Amerson, Philip Thomas and Baccari Rambo. Clark may be the one to step into the leadership void created by the retirement of London Fletcher.   



The Redskins ranked 32nd in net punting average, tied for 31st in yards per kickoff return and 28th in yards per punt return — among other issues. Step one in fixing the problem was hiring Ben Kotwica, a detail-oriented West Point product, away from the Jets to serve as special teams coordinator. Next, the Redskins jettisoned punter Sav Rocca (and added Robert Malone, formerly of the Buccaneers, Lions and Jets), and stocked up on special teams-oriented linebackers, such as Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton and Adam Hayward. The expected return of reliable long-snapper Nick Sundberg from knee surgery should also shore up the punting and field goal units. Kicker Kai Forbath will be in a battle for his job during training camp after the team drafted Zach Hocker out of Arkansas in the seventh round.


The first shot at returning punts is likely to go to either Chris Thompson or Richard Crawford — with Jackson a possible wild card, given his success returning punts early in his career — while kick returning duty could fall to either Thompson or Roberts. 



In the span of a calendar year, Griffin went from the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year to a backup. Over the same year, the Redskins went from an NFC East champion to a 3–13 embarrassment. The parallels are no coincidence; the Redskins will rise or fall in direct relationship with the performance of their quarterback. The hope is that with a new coach he trusts, a bolstered offensive attack and another year between him and knee surgery, Griffin can lead the Redskins back to the playoffs in 2014. They have the pieces to do it.



Washington Redskins 2014 Team Preview and Predictions
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/coaches-talk-anonymously-about-byu-2014

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 2014, Athlon asked coaches from around the nation to talk anonymously about BYU.


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


Opposing Coaches Anonymously Scout BYU

“They use Taysom Hill to his ability – really, really talented, fast and stronger than you think. He’s a strong runner. A little bit better passer than you think.”…

“I think you’ll see more teams adding a guy in the box against Hill, and he’ll have to make them pay with his arm.”…

“We’ll see if Hill can do it. It’s his decision-making – he’s a decently accurate kid, but I would just say within their scheme, he’s not real disciplined in his reads and progressions. There’s indecision, which causes panic, which causes bad decisions, which causes picks.”…

“They complement Taysom with Jamaal Williams well.”…

“They had some good receivers they will lose this year.”…

“They are just average talent on the offensive line, so what they did with pace and the quarterback run game can minimize an average offensive line.”…

“Not sure what held them back. Their schedule is always pretty tough so they don’t have a lot of gimmes.”…

“They are always long and strong on the defensive line. They always have a four-technique that can hold it down in the run game.”…

“They have overachieving linebackers inside. Kyle Van Noy was one of the most athletic ones we’ve played in a long time. You can do so much with your playc-alling with him because he can rush, he can defend the run. He’s not real physical at point of attack, but he’s a little slithery. Not real sure who will be their leaders with him gone.”…

“A few of their other best defensive players are gone, too.”…

“Being independent can be hard. What are you playing for? Playoffs? OK. But when you’re not in a league it’s tough.”…

Coaches Talk Anonymously About BYU for 2014
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/gary-nova-named-rutgers-starting-qb-2014

One of the biggest fall question marks for Rutgers entering its debut season in the Big Ten was its quarterback position. However, just a few days into fall practice, the Scarlet Knights have found their starting quarterback in Gary Nova.

Coach Kyle Flood announced Nova as the team’s starter after practice on Aug. 6.

Nova is talented, but the senior has struggled with consistency over the last three years.

In 2013, Nova tossed 14 picks to 18 touchdowns and lost the starting job late in the season to Chas Dodd.

New coordinator Ralph Friedgen should help improve Rutgers’ offense, but Nova needs to do a better job of limiting mistakes if the Scarlet Knights want to make a bowl in their Big Ten debut.

Gary Nova Named Rutgers Starting QB for 2014
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/northern-illinois-unveils-corn-fest-jerseys-season-opener

Northern Illinois opens its MAC West title defense with a home date against Presbyterian on Aug. 28.

The Huskies will open the season in style, as Rod Carey’s team is slated to wear an alternate uniform against Presbyterian.

The alternate uniform features yellow on the shoulder pads as a tribute to DeKalb’s Corn Fest. on Northern Illinois and the Corn Fest.

The “Corn Fest” uniforms will be auctioned to support three local causes.


Northern Illinois Unveils "Corn Fest" Jerseys for Season Opener
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/big-12-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-conference-foes-2014

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 2014, Athlon asked coaches in the Big 12 to talk anonymously about their opponents.


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



“With them, it’s all about the vision. When Art Briles took the job, just having the vision of where they wanted to be. They weren’t very good when he took over and didn’t have good facilities. The vision to trust the coaches to get it right, even when they weren’t having success early. Even as close as 2012, there was a point they weren’t very good. They’ve done a phenomenal job upgrading the facilities and recruiting players that aren’t always highly rated but can really play.”…

“Bryce Petty is a good player. He’s very competitive, he throws the ball with velocity and is extremely accurate.”…

“The guy I really like is Antwan Goodley. He reminds me of Michael Crabtree as a receiver. He’s physical and fast and strong.”…

“They are well coached and sound on defense, Phil Bennett is obviously a great coach.”…

“They lost a lot of seniors, but they also have a lot of guys that played a lot of ball for them last year.”…

“They are so unique on offense, they are very simple on defense. It’s not tricky to be able to scheme them up.”…

“Offensively they are very unique with their wide splits and power run game, so you have to be able to be physical with them up front and not get beat over the top. That’s easier to say than to do, of course.”…

“If they get a couple of first downs on you, they will get momentum and can hit big plays in a hurry.”…

“You need to turn them over but that’s hard to do with Petty being so accurate.”…


Iowa State

“They always play really hard. You catch them at Ames and it’s a big difference. They can beat a lot of teams there.”…

“I know they were down last year, but they are always pretty steady like Kansas State.”…

“Their deal is the quarterback. They’ve been up and down at that spot for the last couple of years. They’ve managed to hold on by playing really good defense and getting creative enough on offense to make plays.”…

“I see them being slightly improved from last year. The Mark Mangino hire is an interesting one. He’s a guy that knows the league, though it’s changed a little bit since he was in it. The thing you know is it’s going to be his deal. Coach Paul is going to mess with the defense and Mangino will handle the offense. He did a good job when he was at Kansas, throwing the corner route, throwing the comebacks, good run-pass scheming. I think everybody’s got enough good people in this league.”…

“With Iowa State, you’re talking about the team that knocked off Oklahoma State two years ago. Everybody’s got talent. They are always sound defensively. They do a great job scheme wise and the way they play the game, with a lot of effort and tenacity, really tough guys.”…

“Without question, they are a tough out defensively. But the question with them is can they manufacture enough offense to keep it interesting?”…

“ I don’t remember much playmaking outside of maybe the tight end (E.J. Bibbs).”…




“They do a good job defensively. Their scheme is pretty good.”…

Offensively, obviously Charlie Weis knows what he’s doing.”…

“They are well-coached overall, but their team changes drastically because of all the junior college stuff they are doing.”…

“It’s hard to get a grip on their roster. It’s a team that’s tricky to figure out, but one that I think is getting better.”…

“Schematically, they are tough to gameplan for because they have a lot of offense. They are very multiple. It’s the NFL mold where you’re changing things a good bit.”… 

“Defensively they do a good job of changing things and molding to a three-down front.”…

“They do a lot on offense and a lot of defense, which is unique. Guys like Baylor, you know what they are doing but it’s hard to defend. Kansas is kind of the opposite. Their schemes change a bunch, which makes it hard to gameplan for but easier to play against.”…

“With Jake Heaps, the transfer quarterback that struggled, they ran one offense, and with the other quarterback (Montell Cozart) it was a whole different offense.”…

“The running back, James Sims, was very good. He will be a big loss for them.”…

“They have a linebacker, Ben Heeney, that was really good last year.”…

“They had a few active cornerbacks. I think their defense was relatively young so they should have a good group returning.”…


Kansas State

“To me they are loaded at quarterback.”…

“They will miss the John Hubert kid, the runner. He was really steady for them.”…

“They’ll always be good offensively because of the style of play and the people they play with. You won’t see much fluctuation in production as long as Bill Snyder’s there.”…

“They have one of the top receivers of the year in Tyler Lockett. That guy is really good.”…

“They lost quite a few impact players on defense. Safety Ty Zimmerman was a four-year starter for them. They have a good inside tackle that I think they are losing, and a good defensive end is back (Ryan Mueller).”…

“With them, it’s about where you’re playing them. In Manhattan, it’s probably a 10-to-14-point difference every time. They will get a punt blocked or make a few plays there and next thing you know you’re giving up points.”…

“They are always big on the offensive and defensive lines. Snyder always gets big kids.”…

“They fill in with junior college guys every year there and there will never be a drop-off.”…

“The junior college quarterback, Jake Waters, he’s pretty good. I thought he got better as the year progressed.”…

“The way they played Michigan in the bowl game, K-State was hitting its stride later in the year. They should be a player in league play.”…

“Lockett is special. He really helps them stretch the field.”…

“There’s not really a glaring weakness with them. They just play sound football.”…


“They’ll be the preseason favorites, mainly because of how they finished last year beating Oklahoma State and Alabama.”…

“Trevor Knight had a huge performance in the bowl game, that gives him a lot of momentum coming into this year.”…

“They’ll always be really skilled across the board.”…

“The secondary’s always good. The Zack Sanchez kid probably played as good as any freshman could have played last year in that position. He’ll be a little better.”…

“Third year in Mike Stoops’ defensive system, they’ll get better there. They’ll be more comfortable.”…

“To me, they are the team where, if you ask the coaches in the league, most of them will say Oklahoma is the favorite.”…

“Knight was erratic at times. He’s a spark guy. If there’s a spark, you can start a fire. At least you have the ability to make something happen with him.”…

“The thing that will help them is as long as Blake Bell’s not sitting over his shoulder (Bell moved to tight end), that’s a good thing for Knight. That hurt him some last year, and it hurt Bell some, too, It’s just tough.”…

“Bell is a big tight end. The Belldozer.”…

“One guy they’ll really miss is Jalen Saunders. They’ll need a few guys to replace him.”…


Oklahoma State

“They’ll probably be down a little. They lost a bunch of good guys on defense.”…

“What’s been impressive about them the last few years is how they’ve played on defense has kind of been overlooked. They lost good safeties that have been four-year starters.”…

“Losing the quarterback, now it’s going to be J.W. Walsh, he’s kind of been up and down so far. We’ll have to see how that goes. I think they lost the top four receivers, too.”…

“From the outside looking in, it’s a rebuilding year. That’s the way I see it.”…

“Defensively they had an identity, but they had guys that played a lot of snaps for them and won a lot of football games.”…

“They do a good job scheme-wise and they have good people. They had a safety that was really good (Daytawion Lowe). They had Justin Gilbert, who’s probably a first rounder. They had one of the most dominating two-techniques (Calvin Barnett) we saw last year - they’ve done it with some good guys, and they’ll be breaking players in.”…

“Josh Stewart coming out early had to be a blow to them. They were probably counting on him.”…

“The running backs were pretty good and they return good depth there.”…

“It’s going to be on how J.W. plays and finishes. I don’t know if they have another guy that’s ready right now.”…



“Making offensive changes this offseason means they are adjusting to the Big 12 as opposed to being in the Mountain West and staying true to what you do. They are just kind of catching up with the times so to speak with more of a no-huddle.”…

“They probably have a little bit of a quarterback issue. Trevone Boykin will probably be their guy, I would think.”…

“I think their skill players have been really good last few years, on both sides of the ball, especially in the secondary. Really good skill guys, and they don’t always get credit for it.”…

“I think they are a little bit of a darkhorse team. They were probably 15 points away from being 8-4 instead of 4-8.”…

“They are certainly a team people might look at and think they aren’t a contender, but I think they are.”…

“Their offensive line was a problem, but that should be better. They have a junior college kid (Frank Kee) coming in that should help them. A lot of schools wanted him. Everybody will have some line issues because it’s a hard to average eight or nine good offensive linemen every year.”…

“With the quarterback, it all depends on the style of play and how Boykin fits the new methods. I know Sonny Cumbie and they hired Doug Meacham – they are both from the Hal Mumme/Mike Leach tree so it just depends on how that fits Boykin. That’s a strictly throwing offense from the shotgun. I think he has a lively arm and is a good player.”…

“TCU will always play the kind of defense that gives them a chance.”…

“It will be interesting to see what (Trevone) Boykin can do as a wide receiver, if they are able to keep them there. He has some ability. Looked good there.”…



“A lot of it hinges on David Ash’s health. If he stays healthy, offensively certainly it will increase their odds. He’s a little hot and cold, probably not as consistent as what you’d like, but who knows in a new system – it may fit him better. I’m thinking Shawn Watson will be in the middle of the play-calling even though they are selling (Joe) Wickline (as the offensive coordinator)…

“They’ve got some good running backs – Johnathan Gray is good, Malcolm Brown is good.”…

“Their line, they lost a few up front, lost a leading receiver, they lost a few that are good players. But overall they have enough depth there.”…

“They are always good defensively; they may act like they are in and out, but they are like Oklahoma on defense. They’ll always be good because they recruit guys who can play well on the back end.”…

“With a new system and adjustments, who knows how long that will take. Right now they are a big question mark. That’s just the way I see it. That’s just the way it’s been – not a lot of guys drafted recently.”…

“Johnathan Gray is really good and it hurt them when he got hurt.”…

“They have a young receiver I think is good, (Kendall Sanders). He should give them a boost this year.”…

“Defensively the Cedric Reed kid was a good defensive end. Losing Jackson Jeffcoat is a big one.”…

“Their back-end guys should be fine. They are always pretty experienced.”…

“Ash is a good football player. He’s a little hot and cold, probably not as consistent as what you’d like but who knows in a new system –it may fit him better.”…


Texas Tech

“Defensively, they had a lot of seniors and a lot of depth so they’ll have some things to replace.”…

“When I think of them offensively, it’s up-tempo and good, well-coached quarterback play.”…

“That tight end (Jace Amaro) was such a tremendous difference-maker for them. That’s got to be priority No. 1 for them – replacing his production. He himself converted about 30 percent of their third downs. I’m glad he’s gone.”…

“They are just up-tempo and high energy on both sides of the ball”….

“Kliff Kingsbury is sharp. He has a bright mind. People say he’s young and inexperienced, but the only thing that kid’s ever done is play football. He played four straight years at Texas Tech, went to Houston as a quality control guy, then coached for 3-4 years. Football is the only thing that’s in that guy’s life. He’s transitioned just like I thought he would.”…

“Quarterback Davis Webb, I think he’s really good. He’s got good savvy. Kliff does a good job teaching confidence. He runs better than you’d think. They have a promising guy coming in as well. Now that the other quarterbacks transferred, it’s good for cohesion that the Webb kid doesn’t have to worry about what’s behind him.”…

“They are going to throw the ball a bunch and make adjustments based on what the defense gives them.”…

“The offensive and defensive lines are above average. One of their defensive linemen (Kerry Hyder) gave us fits last year. I’m glad he’s gone.”…


West Virginia

“This is a big year for West Virginia. You’re looking at a team that beat Oklahoma State, which almost won the league, last year in Morgantown. They aren’t that far off.”…

“The defense did some good things – they weren’t as consistent as they’d like but it seemed like they were better than the year before when it was sort of a liability.”…

“The question becomes what do you do at quarterback? Dana played three different guys and it seems the FSU transfer (Clint Trickett) gave them the best chance to win. In that system, it helps when you have a full offseason or even a full year as a starter, and I think the Trickett kid came in late in the offseason, so he was finally getting his footing.”…

“They had a chance to beat Texas but couldn’t get a first down late in the game. Maybe, with all three quarterbacks being there all offseason and playing a year in the system, they’ll settle down.”…

“It was kind of curious to see Dana struggle with quarterback play. Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith can make a lot of quarterbacks look good, but Dana’s good with quarterbacks and he’ll get them right.”…

“Running back Charles Sims was a good player for them, but they have a transfer from Pittsburgh (Rushel Shell) that should help them.”…

“Defensively I couldn’t really name a guy that stuck out to me. They were pretty active but weren’t necessarily full of standouts there”...

Big 12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2014
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-best-and-worst-logos-2014

Official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple.


Every college football program in the nation has an official logo and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.


Since Athlon Sports has been designing  on newsstands for the better part of half a century, we asked our senior graphic design guru to rank college football's best and worst logos.


Here is what Art Director  had to say about the Big Ten's football logos:


1.Michigan StateIt's clean, classic, gets the point across and is recognizable. It has some fierce edginess to it, the color scheme is perfect and there is no doubt it represents a Spartan.
2.Penn StateHistorically speaking, few logos are as traditional as the Nittany Lions oval. The smooth looking Lions head has great lines and appears to be hunting... Wolverines or Buckeyes? Few logos combine classy and aggresive like PSU.
3.IowaIt also comes in black, which is slightly more stylish. While maintaining a simple and historic look, the Hawkeye emblen also brings some creativity. In fact, I've no idea what an actual Hawkeye looks like.
4.Ohio StateNormally, a name in a logo doesn't work, but the "S" is perfectly designed into the "O" and it works. It makes it busier than the cleaner, more classic logos above. The colors and trim are second to none.
5.IndianaThe historic brand of Hoosiers athletics is well known. The intersecting, symmetrical "IU" is simple and clean with the added touch of block seraphs.
6.MichiganIt doesn't get any more simple that the block "M" of Michigan. The font is excellent but it could use some trim or accents. Take or leave the bannered Michigan.
7.MinnesotaThere is much more style to this "M" as compared to Michigan's but it's also busier. The seraphs are cool and the trim is solid. An underrated logo.
8.NebraskaAgain, simple and straight forward gets the point across. The colors and subtle trim are great and it appears that the Huskers have a monopoly on this letter. I'm not a fan of the Huskers font at all as that could use an upgrade.
9.RutgersI'm usually a big fan of timeless marks that skip the cartoonish fads. However, the "R" could use just a touch of pizzaz. But only a touch.
10.MarylandThe Testudo logo is excellent and this "M" standing alone is unique and fairly good looking. But the added obsession with the state flag in Maryland drops this one down a peg or two.
11.PurdueThe black and gold logo is tough to read and comes at the viewer at an odd angle. The incorporation of the team name into the train icon is creative but doesn't solve the cartoonish overall feel.
12.WisconsinLet's face it, the floating "W" isn't the best Wisconsin logo but it is synonymous with the only successful era of Badgers football. The drop shadow is cool but only adds to the cartoonish look.
13.IllinoisThe "I" by itself is nice and the "Illinois" can stand alone — and both look good that way. Together, it seems forced and MAC-ish.
14.NorthwesternThe purple "N" has plenty of things going on around it. The font is seriously bizarre and not really intimidating anyone.
Ranking the Big Ten's Best and Worst Logos in 2014
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-toughest-college-football-schedules-2014

Will 2014 be the year the SEC is no longer considered the best conference in football?


If Larry Scott has anything to do with it, the answer is yes. The Pac-12, on the backs of elite quarterback play and a talented coaching roster, is poised to make a run at the SEC’s supremacy this fall.


If it doesn’t eat itself alive, that is. The Pac-12 schedules appear to be the most difficult in the country. Some of that is because the league west of the Rockies plays nine conference games and a championship game. Additionally, most of the heavy hitters in this league also will play a marquee non-conference game.


In trying to pick a champion — we settled on Oregon over UCLA after much deliberation — schedules play a huge role. Which Pac-12 schedule is the toughest?


1. Stanford

Road: Washington, Arizona St, Oregon, Cal, UCLA

Home: USC, Wazzu, Oregon St, Utah

Misses: Arizona, Colorado

Non-Con: UC Davis, Army, at Notre Dame

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 86-68 (55.8%, 42nd)


Road trips are going to be the name of the game for the Cardinal. Stanford has to face four of the Pac-12's six ranked teams (preseason Top 25) on the road, including the top two North Division challengers and Notre Dame. Not only does Stanford have to face each of the top three teams from the South but also it gets UCLA and Arizona State on the road. A perfect home record may not be able to overcome the difficulty of the away schedule this fall.



Road: Arizona St, Cal, Colorado, Washington

Home: Utah, Oregon, Arizona, USC, Stanford

Misses: Oregon St, Wazzu

Non-Con: at Virginia, Memphis, Texas (Arlington)

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 82-72 (53.3%, 60th)


The Bruins, like Stanford, will play most of the other preseason-ranked teams in the league. Facing just two — Arizona State and Washington — from this quintet on the road is a small comfort as USC, Oregon and Stanford must all visit Pasadena. The trip to Arlington to play Texas is no joke either. This is a brutal schedule with very few breaks.


3. Utah

Road: UCLA, Oregon St, Arizona St, Stanford, Colorado

Home: Wazzu, USC, Oregon, Arizona

Misses: Cal, Washington

Non-Con: Idaho St, Fresno St, at Michigan

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 98-59 (62.4%, 11th)


Utah has to play both Stanford and Oregon to go along with the top four teams in the South. It also must visit Michigan on the road — even though the Utes won the last trip to the Big House. The road schedule is one of the toughest in the nation, as there are maybe two guaranteed wins on the slate. Missing Cal from the North really hurts Utah’s bowl chances.


4. Washington State

Road: Utah, Stanford, Oregon St, Arizona St

Home: Oregon, Cal, Arizona, USC, Washington

Misses: UCLA, Colorado

Non-Con: Rutgers, at Nevada, Portland St

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 88-67 (56.9%, 36th)


There are some wins to be had early for Mike Leach despite two “interesting” non-conference games with Rutgers and Nevada. Other than a visit from Oregon, Wazzu could easily win every other game until Oct. 10. Then the slate gives way to brutal tests each and every week. The final six include Stanford, Arizona, USC, Oregon State, Arizona State and Washington.


5. Cal

Road: Arizona, Wazzu, Oregon St, USC

Home: Colorado, Washington, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford
Misses: Arizona St, Utah

Non-Con: at Northwestern, Sacramento St, BYU

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 94-61 (60.6%, 17th)


There is no marquee non-conference game but there are two tough ones instead of what should be three gimmies. Cal does get the top three teams in its division at home but unless the Bears pull off a major upset, fans might actually prefer those (almost guaranteed) losses come on the road. There aren’t many winnable games on this schedule.


6. Colorado

Road: Cal, USC, Arizona, Oregon

Home: Arizona St, Oregon St, UCLA, Washington, Utah

Misses: Stanford, Wazzu

Non-Con: Colorado St (Denver), at UMass, Hawaii

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 81-74 (52.3%, 66th)


The Buffs are slated to play five preseason-ranked conference foes, two of which will come on the road. The home schedule is full of marquee games, but can Colorado capitalize and pull an upset or two? Missing Stanford is a blessing and the non-conference slate isn’t overly taxing but this is still a schedule befitting a team picked last in the division.


7. Arizona State

Road: Colorado, USC, Washington, Oregon St, Arizona

Home: UCLA, Stanford, Utah, Wazzu

Misses: Cal, Oregon

Non-Con: Weber St, at New Mexico, Notre Dame

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 84-70 (54.6%, 52nd)


Missing Oregon is huge news for the Sun Devils but that is balanced by adding Notre Dame in the non-conference. The home slate is filled with three ranked teams and four bowl teams while the road slate features trips to two potential third-place teams (USC, Washington) and two really dangerous locales (Corvallis, Tucson).


8. Oregon State

Road: USC, Colorado, Stanford, Washington

Home: Utah, Cal, Wazzu, Arizona St, Oregon

Misses: Arizona, UCLA

Non-Con: Portland St, at Hawaii, San Diego St

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 82-72 (53.3%, 60th)


The non-conference slate should provide three wins for the Beavers and the second half of the schedule is very intriguing. The Beavers miss two great offenses from the South in Arizona and UCLA and will get four out of five games at home in Reser Stadium in the month of November. The road schedule isn’t helpful with trips to Stanford, USC and Washington on the slate.


9. USC

Road: Stanford, Arizona, Utah, Wazzu, UCLA

Home: Oregon St, Arizona St, Colorado, Cal

Misses: Washington, Oregon

Non-Con: Fresno St, at Boston College, Notre Dame

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 89-66 (57.4%, 29th)


Although Fresno State and Boston College aren’t as good as last year, this is one of the more difficult non-conference slates in the league. So it’s a good thing that USC misses both the Huskies and Ducks from the North. The home slate isn’t all that intriguing while the road schedule is full of speed bumps and showdowns.


10. Oregon

Road: Wazzu, UCLA, Cal, Utah, Oregon St

Home: Arizona, Washington, Stanford, Colorado

Misses: Arizona St, USC

Non-Con: S. Dakota, Michigan St, Wyoming

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 84-69 (54.9%, 49th)


Missing two of the top three teams from the South is a major positive. Getting to host the top two teams in the North — Washington and Stanford — is another huge plus. There are some tricky road trips to UCLA, Salt Lake City, Corvallis and Pullman, but this schedule sets up pretty well for the Ducks later in the year — despite having to play arguably the biggest non-conference game of the year.


11. Arizona

Road: Oregon, Wazzu, UCLA, Utah

Home: Cal, USC, Colorado, Washington, Arizona St

Misses: Oregon St, Stanford

Non-Con: UNLV, at UTSA, Nevada

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 84-69 (54.9%, 49th)


Rich Rodriguez should once again be perfect in the non-conference while five home games in league play in Tucson could be exciting. Missing Stanford and Oregon State from up North is a positive and having to face Oregon and UCLA — the two predicted winners and likely losses — on the road may actually be a blessing too. This is a manageable, albeit very testy, slate.


12. Washington

Road: Cal, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Wazzu

Home: Stanford, Arizona St, UCLA, Oregon St

Misses: Utah, USC

Non-Con: at Hawaii, E. Washington, Illinois, Georgia St

Opponents’ ’13 Record: 85-83 (50.6%, 77th)


Missing USC is going to be a blessing (for a variety of reasons) and both Arizona State and UCLA must come North to Seattle. So, too, does two-time defending champ Stanford. And the non-conference slate should provide four easy wins (yes, four). That said, the biggest game of the year could come at Oregon on Oct. 18. Unless U of W can close the gap on the Ducks, the rest of the schedule may not matter.

Ranking the Pac-12's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2014
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-darkhorse-national-title-contenders-2014

Predicting college football's national champion is never an easy task. In addition to combing through schedules, returning starters, players lost and statistics, there are several factors impossible to account for. Injuries and luck will have a major impact on the 2014 season - and neither can be projected.


The impact of preseason polls on the national title race is overrated, but there’s no denying it’s better to start high than have to climb from outside of the top 25. However, starting outside of the top 10 isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Florida State and Auburn both ranked outside of that range in the first preseason poll in 2013 and met for the national championship in Pasadena.


While most of college football's national title winners are likely to come from within the top 10 of most preseason polls, there are always a few dark horses sneaking into the discussion.


What teams might fit that mold in 2014? Let’s take a look at 10 teams to watch for the upcoming season:


College Football’s Top 10 Dark Horse National Title Contenders for 2014



Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 6

Key Games: 8/30 at Georgia, 9/20 at Florida State, 11/29 South Carolina

Replacing quarterback Tajh Boyd and receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant won’t be easy, but the Tigers won’t take a huge step back in the win column. Clemson will turn to senior Cole Stoudt and true freshman DeShaun Watson at quarterback, while the receiving corps is stocked with promising talent. And as long as Chad Morris is calling the plays, the Tigers should be fine on offense. Six starters return from a defense that allowed just 22.2 points per game in 2013. Vic Beasley is one of the nation’s top defensive linemen, and the secondary will get a boost from a healthy Mackensie Alexander at cornerback. Settling the offensive line and getting Stoudt acclimated to the starting lineup will be two areas to watch early in the year. Unseating Florida State in the Atlantic is a tall order, but Clemson isn’t short on talent and has opportunities for key victories against the Seminoles, in-state rival South Carolina and SEC opponent Georgia in the opener.




Returning Starters: Offense: 3, Defense: 7


Key Games: 9/20 at Alabama, 11/1 Georgia, 11/29 at Florida State


Sure, Florida was a massive disappointment with its 4-8 record in 2013. However, there’s certainly no shortage of talent in Gainesville, and the Gators catch key East Division swing games against Missouri and South Carolina at home. Coach Will Muschamp is squarely on the hot seat and improving the offense was his top priority this spring. New coordinator Kurt Roper plans to speed up the tempo on offense and allow quarterback Jeff Driskel to work more out of the shotgun. Those changes should help an offense that averaged just 18.8 points per game last year. Driskel has to play better for Florida to challenge in the East, but a bigger problem on offense is the offensive line and the inconsistent play of the receivers. Lost in the struggles on offense last year was a defense that led the SEC in fewest yards per play allowed in conference games (5.09). Florida should be strong on that side of the ball once again in 2014, led by standout cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and end/linebacker Dante Fowler.



Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 9

Key Games: 8/30 Clemson, 9/13 at South Carolina, 11/15 Auburn

Everything that could go wrong seemed to go that way for Mark Richt’s team in 2013. The Bulldogs suffered a rash of injuries on offense, ranked near the bottom of the nation in turnover margin (-7) and lost four games by a touchdown or less. Expect Georgia to rebound in 2014, as 14 starters return, and the addition of Jeremy Pruitt as defensive coordinator should pay immediate dividends. New quarterback Hutson Mason gained valuable experience after Aaron Murray suffered a torn ACL late last year, while the Bulldogs have one of the SEC’s top collection of skill talent if running back Todd Gurley and receiver Malcolm Mitchell stay healthy. Georgia’s secondary is a significant concern – especially with Clemson and South Carolina to open the year – but the front seven should thrive under Pruitt’s watch.


Kansas State


Returning Starters: Offense: 6, Defense: 5


Key Games: 9/18 Auburn, 10/18 at Oklahoma, 12/6 at Baylor


Never count out Bill Snyder’s team in the Big 12 discussion. The Wildcats finished 2013 on a tear, winning six out of their last seven games. During that stretch, Kansas State’s only loss was a 10-point defeat to Oklahoma. There’s plenty of optimism in Manhattan after the strong finish, as quarterback Jake Waters returns after throwing for 2,469 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first season with the Wildcats, and dynamic receiver Tyler Lockett is one of the best in the nation. Anchored by center B.J. Finney and tackle Cody Whitehair, Kansas State’s offensive line should be one of the best in the Big 12. Even with new faces set to emerge at running back, scoring points shouldn’t be a problem for the Wildcats. However, there are concerns for a defense that returns only five starters. First-team All-Big 12 safety Ty Zimmerman will be missed, and linebacker Blake Slaughter departs after recording 110 stops last year. How quickly the new faces in the front seven emerge could be the difference in contending for the Big 12 title. With games against three projected top 10 teams (Auburn, Oklahoma and Baylor), Kansas State has a chance to build a strong case as a playoff team with victories in each contest.




Returning Starters: Offense: 6, Defense: 6


Key Games: 10/4 at Auburn, 10/25 Ole Miss, 11/8 Alabama


It seems strange to place LSU in the dark horse national title category. After all, the Tigers have won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. However, most believe LSU is due to take a step back in 2014, as this program has lost a significant amount of talent to the NFL over the last two years. Sure, this team will be young in a few spots, but Les Miles’ team isn’t short on talent. The passing attack may struggle early in the year with a new quarterback (Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris) under center, along with a revamped receiving corps. Expect to see the Tigers lean on one of the SEC’s top offensive lines and a backfield that features top freshman Leonard Fournette. Similar to the offense, defensive coordinator John Chavis will be relying on several underclassmen to improve a defense that allowed 5.7 yards per play in SEC contests last year. The biggest concern for Chavis has to be at defensive tackle, as the Tigers lose Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson. Cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Rashard Robinson are two of the rising stars in the SEC.

Notre Dame


Returning Starters: Offense: 4, Defense: 5


Key Games: 10/4 Stanford, 10/18 at Florida State, 11/29 at USC


The Fighting Irish’s hopes of a return trip to the national championship in 2013 were derailed with Everett Golson’s season-long suspension. Brian Kelly’s team still finished 9-4 last year, but most in South Bend expected a trip to a BCS bowl. Golson is back under center for Notre Dame this season, and his return should provide a boost for an offense that struggled with consistency in the passing attack in 2013. Golson will have plenty of help from a solid offensive line, along with an intriguing group of playmakers at running back. New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has to rebuild the front seven, as nose guard Louis Nix III and defensive end Stephon Tuitt departed for the NFL. Sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith is an emerging star, and cornerback KeiVarae Russell could challenge for All-America honors. Notre Dame will have strength of schedule on its side, playing 10 bowl teams from 2013. The Fighting Irish need their offense to carry the team early, but key matchups against Stanford, Florida State and USC are later in the year, which should allow Kelly’s team plenty of time to reload. 


Ole Miss


Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 9


Key Games: 10/4 Alabama, 10/25 at LSU, 11/1 Auburn


The Rebels have made steady improvement under Hugh Freeze, winning 15 games over the last two seasons. The talent level in Oxford is also on the rise, as Ole Miss recruited the No. 8 class in 2013 and the No. 15 haul in 2014. With more talent and depth, combined with the roster turnover at Texas A&M and LSU, the Rebels are ready to make a move in the SEC West. The defense should rank among the best in the SEC, as the continued development of tackle Robert Nkemdiche should help a unit that allowed only 23.7 points per game last year. Safety Cody Prewitt is one of the nation’s most-underrated players. Depth on the offensive line is one of Freeze’s biggest concerns this season, but a healthy Bo Wallace at quarterback should make a big difference for the offense. With Auburn and Alabama visiting Oxford in 2014, Ole Miss will have a chance to play spoiler in the West.




Returning Starters: Offense: 3, Defense: 8


Key Games: 10/4 Oklahoma, 10/11 at Baylor, 11/8 Kansas State


Transitioning to the Big 12 from the Mountain West is a difficult assignment, and as expected, TCU has suffered its share of ups and downs over the last two years. But after a 4-8 mark last season, the Horned Frogs could be ready to turn a corner in 2014. Seven of TCU’s eight losses were by 10 points or less, with four coming by a three points or less. After struggling to win close games in 2013, coach Gary Patterson decided to switch schemes on offense, hiring Sonny Cumbie (Texas Tech) and Doug Meacham (Houston) to install a no-huddle, up-tempo attack. The scheme change should help TCU’s offense improve, especially if Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel settles into the starting quarterback role. The offense will be a work in progress in 2014, but the defense is one of the best in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs led the conference in rush defense and allowed only 4.8 yards per play in league contests last year. Expect another stingy defense from Patterson, while an improving offense should help TCU win their share of close games after struggling in that category in 2013.




Returning Starters: Offense: 7, Defense: 7


Key Games: 9/27 Stanford, 10/18 at Oregon, 11/8 UCLA


Chris Petersen was one of the top hires of the 2014 coaching carousel, and the former Boise State coach inherits a Washington team that made steady improvement under Steve Sarkisian. Petersen is tasked with elevating the program to the next level, and the Huskies could be a factor in the Pac-12 North race this year. Cyler Miles is expected to start at quarterback, but the sophomore was suspended in spring practice due to an off-the-field incident. Miles was reinstated in time for summer workouts and should return to the top of the depth chart after serving a one-game suspension. While a new go-to running back must emerge to replace Bishop Sankey, the Huskies could have one of the Pac-12’s top offensive lines. Seven starters return from a defense that allowed only 22.8 points per game in 2013. This unit could be even better in 2014, as linebacker Shaq Thompson, cornerback Marcus Peters, end Hau’oli Kikaha and tackle Danny Shelton are all among the best defenders in the Pac-12. Petersen has work to do on both sides of the ball, but with UCLA and Stanford visiting Seattle, the Huskies can play spoiler in the North.




Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 3


Key Games: 8/30 LSU, 11/15 Nebraska, 11/22 at Iowa


The Badgers return only eight starters from last year’s nine-win team, but a favorable schedule should soften the blow of the overhauled depth chart. As expected at Wisconsin, the offensive line and rushing attack will lead the way. Running back Melvin Gordon is a Heisman contender, and the line could be the best in the Big Ten. Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy are battling to start under center, and the Badgers need new faces to emerge at receiver with the departure of Jared Abbrederis. The revamped front seven on defense will get an early test with a matchup against LSU to open the season, but coach Gary Andersen has promising talent in freshmen ends Chikwe Obasih and Alec James, along with sophomore linebacker Vince Biegel. Helping Wisconsin’s case as a sleeper team in the playoff mix is a schedule that does not include Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan or Penn State in crossover play with the East Division.

College Football's Top 10 Dark Horse National Title Contenders for 2014
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/2014-15-college-basketball-americans-top-freshmen-transfers-and-more

Until recent months, the No. 1 name atop the list of top freshmen in the American Athletic Conference would have been clear. SMU’s Emmanuel Mudiay may have been the top freshman in the country.

The Mustangs may still be an NCAA Tournament team even without one of the NBA’s top prospects at point guard. That’s partly due to another influx of transfers into Larry Brown’s program. New arrivals from Xavier and Texas Tech — both eligible immediately — will give the Mustangs players with experience at a high level.

But SMU won’t have the AAC’s top freshman. That honor belongs to UConn, which adds Daniel Hamilton as one of several new faces in a backcourt looking to fill the void left by Shabazz Napier.

1. Daniel Hamilton, UConn

Shabazz Napier is gone, but hopes are high for Hamilton to be UConn’s next star. He’s a lanky, athletic wing with a multi-faceted game who should give the Huskies the scoring boost they need.

2. Rodney Purvis, UConn
Transfer from NC State

All Purvis has to do is help fill the void left by Shabazz Napier in the backcourt for the defending national champions. OK, so maybe it’s not that drastic. Still, he’s a key cog in a talented backcourt that returns Ryan Boatright and adds freshman swingman Daniel Hamilton. Purvis averaged 8.3 points per game on an NCAA Tournament team that featured five double-digit scorers in his only year at NC State.

3. Justin Martin, SMU
Transfer from Xavier

Martin will be a major addition for the Mustangs if for no other reason than his experience. Martin played for two NCAA Tournament teams at Xavier in 2012 and 2014. In his final season at Xavier, the 6-6 forward was second on the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game while adding 5.2 rebounds.

4. Jordan Tolbert, SMU
Transfer from Texas Tech

Like Martin, Tolbert gives SMU another source of high-major experience, even if none of it was in the NCAA Tournament. Tolbert was in the rotation all three seasons at Texas Tech, averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in Lubbock. The 6-7, 225-pound forward added 3-point shooting to his repertoire last season (10 of 33).

5. Markel Crawford, Memphis
Redshirt freshman

Departures have left Memphis with a ton of inexperience and no clear answers in the backcourt, especially at point guard. Crawford may be the first guy up at the point even though he’s like the rest of the candidates here — he’s not a natural fit at the position. At 6-4, he’s the biggest of the major contenders. Crawford (ACL) and Pookie Powell (academics) both missed last season.

6. Farad Cobb, Cincinnati
Junior college transfer

Cobb may be able to play the point, but his most important contribution may be long-range shooting. The Bearcats shot 33.5 percent from 3-point range last season, ranking 204th nationally.

7. Avery Woodson, Memphis
Junior college transfer

Woodson may be in the mix at point guard for Memphis, but he’s considered to be a . With the logjam at the point, perhaps that would be his best fit.

8. Octavius Ellis, Cincinnati
Junior college transfer

Ellis will be one of the nation’s most interesting second-chance stories. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin kicked Ellis off the team in May 2012 and was one of three Bearcats suspended in the aftermath of the brawl with Xavier earlier that season. After a stint in junior college, the 6-10 forward will return to Cincinnati.

9. Sam Cassell Jr., UConn
Junior college transfer

Yet another name boosting UConn’s backcourt, this one the son of the former NBA player. Cassell will keep Ryan Boatright company at the point guard position as they replace Napier for the defending national champs.

10. Terry Whisnant, East Carolina
Transfer from Florida State

Whisnant started 19 games at Florida State in 2012-13 before his playing time dwindled down the stretch. The 6-3 guard returns to his home state to offer an outside shooting boost. Of his 128 shots from the floor as a sophomore in Tallahassee, 90 were from 3-point range.

2014-15 College Basketball: The American's Top Freshmen, Transfers and More
Post date: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-7-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for August 7:

• Leading off today: , including geek goddess Zooey Deschanel of Northwestern.

• They're off and running at the PGA Championship, where we're reminded yet again that, somehow, John Daly is a former major champion. .

• Greg Oden allegedly punched a lady, .

like stirring hot soup instead of blowing on it, and don't cover your neck in tattoos.

. I won't ruin it for you; just click.

• Remember Lions QB Scott Mitchell? , along with other former athletes like tennis player Zina Garrison.


• After Adam Dunn's pitching performance, .

. All that's missing is "Boom goes the dynamite."


. I could get behind this.

• Umpire Laz Diaz showed off his salsa moves with the Philly Phanatic.

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 10:51
Path: /college-football/pac-12-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-conference-foes-2014

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 2014, Athlon asked coaches in the Pac-12 to talk anonymously about their opponents.


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


Pac-12 Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes

North Division



“They just struggled. Defensively, they were one of the worst in the country.”…

“The offense wasn’t controlling the ball really well. The defense couldn’t stop anybody. They made some staff changes.”…

“I know they are high on the young quarterback, Jared Goff, but they had no one to protect him last year. They have to get better up front to give him time.”…

“There’s still some talent there – they lost five guys to the draft – and this year’s recruiting class was pretty good.”…

“They run the Air Raid, which puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but Cal wants to complement that with big backs in the running game, and they didn’t have that last year. Maybe with a year of recruiting and development they can get that.”…

“Injuries just killed them last year. It happens to everybody, but they got hit bad.”…

“Sonny just had a nightmarish first year. They were moving defensive lineman to the offensive line midseason.”…

“They need to find ways just to win a few games. They basically needed to score 50 points to win last year because the defense was so bad and they couldn’t do it.”…

“Hiring Art Kaufman to run the defense is one of the more important hires in the league because Cincinnati was a top-10 defense last year.”…

“If they can just get some help defensively and find a few young playmakers, build the depth a bit, that can go a long way for them.”…


“To me the whole thing that happened to them was Mariota was hurt for 4-5 games. They never ran him. When he was running, nobody was beating them. He ran again in the bowl game and you could see a different guy. If he stays healthy, they are the best team in the league and the most explosive.”…

“They lost some guys on defense, and losing their coordinator is going to be huge.”…

“Offensively, if healthy, with the run-pass dimension, they are basically unstoppable. Mariota’s running is such a big part of their offense, that when he was out it was tough.”…

“Mariota reminds me a lot of Colin Kaepernick. When he ran, forget it. That’s the same thing with him. Against Stanford, they had no design runs for him. That’s a huge dimension.”…

“They are huge on the defensive line, they were one of the biggest teams we saw. They had some big boys up there.”…

“You’ve got to know how to pick up Stanford’s stunts. If not, it’s tough to deal with. That’s what happened.”…

“The young tight end, Pharaoh Brown, he is a specimen of a player. He can run, is big and athletic.”…

“The young tailback, Thomas Tyner, he’s a lot faster than you think. I didn’t realize how fast he was until he’s on the field. He’s a powerful back. He’s really good. I don’t know if people realize how good he really is yet.”…


Oregon State

“They were a big-play team. Of course, many of the big plays came with receiver Brandin Cooks, who was phenomenal and will be sorely missed.”…

“I thought they did a good job getting the ball to the running backs in the passing game.”…

“Sean Mannion can make every throw. They are a threat to score from anywhere.”…

“Their defense played really hard. Defensive end Scott Crichton caused a lot of problems, played hard, played aggressively. They’ll definitely miss him.”…

“Safety Ryan Murphy impressed me. He’s a playmaker.”…

“I thought they were really high in effort and played sound and fundamental. They always brought it every game.”…

“A concern would be that, since they are such a big-play-oriented team and do so much straight drop back, it seems when they turn the ball over, they turn the ball over in droves. The games they lost, it seemed they had 4-5 turnovers.”…

“They had enough firepower, good special teams, well coached - just turned it over too much.”…

“They are trying to throw the ball downfield a lot, and that causes problems. We basically double covered Cooks a few times and Mannion still threw it. He came down with it and we should have come down with it. It’s kind of feast of famine. It’s a huge part of their offense and sometimes it can be a negative. It’s like basketball with a guard that keeps shooting. Mannion won a lot of games for them, too.”…

“I would think this year they would have more balance.”…


“Obviously they were pretty senior-heavy last year, so they could be young in the back end. Still, they have quite a bit left there.”…

“What they do schematically is pretty darn good.”…

“One of the things they did is, though their first-line guys were senior-heavy, they still played a lot of guys in a steady rotation. Those guys will be ready now.”…

“With the staff, they’ll keep a lot of continuity in what they are doing.”…

“One of the top defensive teams in the country, no doubt.”…

“I think one of the keys to their offense, the thing that makes them tough, is the explosive receivers they’ve got. The Montgomery kid is one of the top players in the conference, and he doesn’t get a lot of pub.”…

“They’ll do a great job running the football.”…

“They have a couple of tough receivers that make them go. They’ll miss Gaffney, who was making a lot more of those bigger runs late in the year.”…

“I think it’s one of the most overstated parts of their offense is the ability to hit vertical shots. I think it’s pretty clear, they are going to run the ball.”…

“One thing they might be missing is the elite tight ends they had in the past. Last year’s guys didn’t have as much experience, so maybe there was a bit of a drop off there.”…



“I know they lost quite a few guys, but Coach Petersen, everyone has a ton of respect for him as a coach and what he does. It will be quite intriguing to see what he does, especially what they do schematically on offense and defense.”…

“Petersen is adaptive. If you look at the different ways he won while at Boise, he was always very innovative. He’s been very successful over a good period of time. He keeps players accountable. The question coming in was can he sustain recruiting and it seems they did pretty well last year.”…

“Marcus Peters, I think he’s one of the top corners in the league. They have some good outside linebackers, some guys up front who can cause some trouble.”…

“If you look at talent, they will always be up there in the Pac-12. Sark recruited well there but couldn’t produce a breakthrough season. With a new coach they will be motivated.”…

“I think Petersen has shown he’s a really good coach, but how does everything fit? It has to be a good marriage. It seems it will be on the surface but still hard to tell.”…

“Replacing Bishop Sankey and Keith Price won’t be easy. Sankey was their safety valve. You could go to him 25 or 30 times and he would get it done. Not sure what they have in the backfield now.”…

“They were pretty high on the quarterback Cyler Miles, but he was suspended during the spring, so who knows where that will go.”…


Washington State

“I thought they were pretty good on defense, and talent wise, with their defensive line, you saw in some games they did a few good things. They weren’t always dominant, but they did dominate the USC game up front. They mauled them.”…

“They are returning a lot of guys, and they have the quarterback, Connor Halliday, returning who’s in his third year, so that offense will put up points again.”…

“Leach knows what he’s doing. They have a bunch of guys they feel comfortable with in their third season.”…

“If you can jump out on them, that’s what can hurt them, because they turn the ball over when they get rattled because they throw so much. When you turn the ball over and are not as efficient as you’d like to be, it’s hard to win.”…

“You have to be balanced in what you’re doing, or at least that’s what some believe in. Everybody has his own way. But with throwing as much as they do, if you don’t have an elite quarterback, that system can place a lot of pressure on the passer. I’m not sure Halliday is elite enough in that regard, though maybe another year in the system will make him so. Leach hasn’t always had elite quarterbacks and has made it work, but eventually you hit a ceiling because defenses sit on those short routes.”…

“Their receivers are getting better and the quarterback should be better than he was.”…


Listen to the Cover 2 college football podcast with guest Steven Godfrey:


South Division



“They’ve done a good job defensively. They are probably the most improved defense in the league.”…

“Coach Rodriguez does a good job. He kind of changed up to adapt to the personnel.”…

“They are still young with a bunch of players. They lost probably the best player in the league last year. After watching him for two years, Ka’Deem Carey was unbelievable. Replacing the quarterback and him will be big.”…

“If they are able to get someone in there to manage the game at quarterback it will be crucial, because they will have different transfers coming in and a few receivers back from injury, so they need to find a rhythm quickly.”…

“They have a chance to be explosive offensively, depending on whom they have calling the shots at quarterback. But they’ve always been run-heavy so that probably won’t change.”…

“Everything will start with the run. They try to be balanced. They’ve got a ton of quarterbacks, though —I think they have six or seven. I have no idea who the guy will be, which can be a good or bad thing. Junior college transfers, high school kids – they have a ton on scholarship. I’m not sure who the guy is going to be.”…

“Defensively, they play a heavier technique, an inside shade to try to stop the interior run game. They were able to stop the run more efficiently. It forced teams to do other things. They did a good job against Oregon though that was when Mariota was limited.”…


Arizona State

“At times, they were the best team in the league.”…

“They lose a bunch of guys on defense, but Todd Graham does a great job with that unit, so they should be fine.”…

“The quarterback, Taylor Kelly, is really underrated. He’s not as flashy as the other guys but he’s really good. He just gets things done. I really like him. He might not play in the NFL, but he’s a great player for that scheme.”…

“They’ve got some big receivers that I’ve seen. Really big and athletic. They’ve done a good job finding those guys and getting them involved. From the sidelines you say, ‘Gosh, those receivers are huge and they can run.”…

“I thought Stanford beat them twice handedly, and it looked like to me, defensively, that they stunt a lot and press you a lot, and Stanford was able to stay in there, run on them and play-action pass. That’s how they got hurt. Texas Tech spread them out and hit them with seam routes when they blitzed. That’s how those two teams hurt them - two different ends of the spectrum, but when they were pressuring they were attacking the one-on-one. With Stanford, when they saw a crease, they hit it.”…

“They were big but just okay on the offensive line. I think they were probably fourth or fifth there, but they were so good with what they did. They didn’t just maul you, but they were good technique wise.”…



“Very well-coached.”…

“Paul Richardson was a concern, but his departure is a relief for Pac-12 cornerbacks.”…

“It’s a very different team from the year before. They seemed to be disjointed in 2012. No strategic plan on either side of the ball. These coaches know what they’re doing. Kids reflected that. Played with a ton more confidence.”…

“They did a really good job coming in on short notice and getting their system in and they do a good job schematically. They finished up the year pretty strong so signs are positive - but how far they are able to progress is hard to tell. You just never know because it’s hard to gauge their talent level – they’ve been a bit behind since joining the Pac-12 - but the coaching staff is good. Can they recruit enough will be the question?”…

“They had a true freshman middle linebacker, Addison Gillam, who made a ton of plays.”…

“The best player was a defensive end, Chidera Uzo-Diribe, who’s gone. He was strong, one of their best players the last couple of years. Losing him will be big.”…

“They’ve been really young the last few years, so if they can get the right personnel in there, they have a chance. They almost always have good first-half game plans.”…

“It seems quarterback Sefo Liufau is mentally tough and does all the things they want, but I’m not sure how prolific he is. He could turn into that, but do they have a quarterback that can push them to the middle-of-the-pack in the league or better?



“A lot of people are going to be placing them to finish first in the league. Their best offensive lineman declared early, but the young guys they are high on and already played some, probably by design. I think they’ve done a good job, it’s just about how you catch them.”…

“You can have success moving the football on them. They make you finish drives and can turn you over, but if you’re sound you can get yards and score on them. You can also sneak in a big play or two on them.”…

“Defensively they continue to grow as a unit. They lost a couple of talented playmakers.”…

“Myles Jack is athletic, you have a guy at that size who can run around like he does, either at running back or linebacker. He’s impressive. Playing offense and defense can be good and bad for a young player. It will be interesting to see how they do that again because do you want to overuse him?”…

“Brett Hundley’s biggest thing is extending plays. When I watch him, I don’t see him throw a ton on time. He’s not a guy from what I’ve seen who’s going to hit the mark. When he’ll hurt you is when he runs around. He’s hurt a lot of people that way. If you can get to him, he can struggle a little bit. You’ve got to keep him contained. If you let him outside, the offense is tough to stop.”…



“Just extremely talented. I know they lost five guys or so early to the draft, but going into our game I thought defensively they were one of the most talented in the country.”…

“Defensive end Leonard Williams is one of the toughest players in the entire league.”…

“They were talented at a lot of positions but struggled with depth. The teams that played tempo and were able to sustain drives on them with multiple positions could hurt them. Extremely talented enough to offset that, though.”…

“They will change a little bit defensively. With Justin Wilcox coming in, they are a base three-down team, but there will be some changing of formations and personnel. It’s their third defensive coordinator in three years.”…

“They probably have the best set of running backs in the league.”…

“I keep hearing it’s an open competition at quarterback, but Cody Kessler’s their guy, it seems.”…

“I think they are probably getting closer to where they want to be.”…

“The defensive linemen are really talented.”…

“They are not at top strength with full scholarships. It will be interesting to see what Sark does. They finished well in recruiting, but if you can’t recruit at USC you have some issues.”…

“Defensively, I thought they were dang good in front seven when they wanted to play. The safeties will come down and hit you but are maybe overly aggressive. Wasn’t impressed with corners based on caliber USC should have. You could confuse their front seven with blocking schemes up front.”…



“They have a really good defensive line, which surprises no one. They always do.”…

“They struggled a bit when their quarterback (Travis Wilson) was hurt. If he’s healthy, it will really help their team. When Wilson was the quarterback, they were able to do some things in those games because of the throws he could make.”…

“When they beat Stanford, it showed how physical and tough they are.”…

“Wilson is athletic and throws better than average, but they didn’t use him to their advantage as a dual-threat quarterback – they tried to make him a play-action guy and he’s just okay at that”….

“On defense, they are really aggressive. I think they were a little lean on the back end, which is a bad spot to be thin the Pac-12. Their inside guys were really powerful. Maybe their outside guys aren’t as good of pass rushers as you need with speed sideline to sideline, but they are stout against the run against powerful teams.”…

“Down the line, they can compete. Their corners were pretty big, and they did a lot of zone blitzing. When they have lock-down corners, they are really good. The last few years they haven’t had the same caliber of cornerback. Have had to play more zone pressures.”…

“When Wilson was there they were doing pretty good, but that was a big loss for them. If he’s healthy, that will help the offense.”…

“I’m not sure what happened with (former offensive coordinator) Dennis Erickson. The offense was sort of handcuffed because of the quarterback injuries.”…

Pac-12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2014
Post date: Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-best-and-worst-logos-2014

Official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 


Every college football program in the nation has an official logo and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.


Since Athlon Sports has been designing  on newsstands for the better part of half a century, we asked our senior graphic design guru to rank college football's best and worst logos.


Here is what Art Director  had to say about the ACC's football logos:

1.ClemsonThere are tons of Tigers, Wildcats and Bulldogs in college sports but none use their mascot quite like Clemson. The Tiger Paw print is synonymous with Clemson athletics and is utterly simple but still edgy and creative. 
2.North CarolinaThe interlocked N-C are as famous as any brand logo in the nation. There are simple touches of style — the font and black trim — that make this logo completely unmistakable.
3.MiamiIt's as simple as it gets but also brings loads of creativity and history. No other logo turns into a hand signal like "The U" and the two-tone color scheme and pattern is unique.
4.Florida StateMajor props for taking a tradition-rich logo and tweaking it ever-so-slightly, thus modernizing it without losing any of the recognizable punch. Frankly, the tradition/success of the football team makes the logo in this case.
5.Virginia TechVirginia Tech has one of the best combination letter logos in the nation. It is hard to make it work but the simplicity and color pattern combines two letters that fit together nicely.
6.PittFew teams have a logo that is simply the program's name. With drop shadows and arched font, the Panthers sport one of the cooler looks.
7.VirginiaThe Cavalier sabres crossed beneath the seraphed "V" is equal parts classic and creative. Few logos can combine these aspects of graphic design.
8.Georgia TechThe Ramblin Wreck's interlocking "G-T" is a historic look that isn't really good or bad. It's got some creativity but not too much.
9.NC StateThe block "S" is a popular logo for many college football teams (Michigan State, Stanford) but NC State takes it a step further by adding the N-C. The black trim is a nice touch and the overall package has good symmetry.
10.SyracuseOnce again, the block "S" is a classic look and feel and is difficult to screw up. It's a simple, classic logo. It's never a bad idea to stick with simple and classic (color scheme aside).
11.Wake ForestThere is too much "Looney Tunes" to this one for my taste but at least it's got an aggressive style. The colors are simple (which is good) but the figure might be a bit antiquated.
12.DukeThe font is bizarre, that is for sure — and that is what keeps it from being one of the league's top logos. However, it is a signature logo that everyone knows all across the nation.
13.LouisvilleAn admirable stab at taking an Old English "L" and giving it a contemporary look. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work well with the cool, stylized "ouisville." That said, the cardinal is looking meaner these days, so they've got that going for them.
14.Boston CollegeThe cartoon eagle and italicized/overlapped BC just doesn't exude tradition and excellence like some other logos. The colors aren't bad but it's too busy to be considered a great logo.
Ranking the ACC's Best and Worst Logos in 2014
Post date: Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-all-freshman-team-2014

College football fans know about Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, but there’s a new crop of superstars waiting to emerge. Every college football season always brings new household names, and the countdown has officially started for 2014.


With fall practice underway, freshmen are on campus and ready to make an impact on the upcoming season. The recruiting hype and star rankings surrounding these players will continue for the next few years, but fall practice is the first chance for most freshmen to make a significant impact.

Every season, freshmen make an impact for some of the top teams in the nation. Last year, quarterback Jameis Winston guided Florida State to a national championship. What freshmen might make that type of impact in 2014?


Athlon has attempted to answer that question with a look at the top three all-freshmen teams for 2014. True and redshirt freshmen were considered for this list, with the emphasis on playing time. Talent and recruiting rank does play a part in compiling an All-Freshman team. However, a major factor in placement was determined by how much the players would see the field. Players from the five power conferences, Notre Dame and BYU were considered for this all-freshman team.

College Football's 2014 All-Freshman Team

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team OffenseThird-Team Offense
QBKyle Allen
Texas A&M 
Brandon Harris
Anu Solomon
RBLeonard Fournette
Greg Bryant
Notre Dame 
Nick Wilson
RBJalen Hurd
Dalvin Cook
Florida State 
Joseph Yearby
WRRicky Seals-Jones
Texas A&M 
Malachi Dupre
Bo Hines
NC State 
WRErmon Lane
Florida State 
Freddy Canteen
Artavis Scott
WR/TEDalton Schultz (TE)
KD Cannon
Devon Allen
OLKC McDermott
Wyatt Teller
Virginia Tech 
Derwin Gray
OLDamian Prince
Mason Cole
Darius James
OLCam Robinson
Toa Lobendahn
Chris Griffin
Georgia Tech 
OLKhaliel Rodgers
Bentley Spain
North Carolina 
Andrew Nelson
Penn State 
OLRod Taylor
Ole Miss 
Braden Smith
Cole Madison
Washington State 
 First-Team DefenseSecond-Team DefenseThird-Team Defense
DLMyles Garrett
Texas A&M 
Alec James
Kentavius Street
NC State 
DLChikwe Obasih
Chad Thomas
Bijhon Jackson
DLAndrew Brown
Malik McDowell
Michigan State 
Matt Elam
DLJustin Manning
Texas A&M 
Derrick Nnadi
Florida State 
Nifae Lealao
LBMatthew Thomas
Florida State 
Gyasi Akem
Oklahoma State 
Rashaan Evans
LBRaekwon McMillan
Ohio State 
Nigel Bowden
Tre Williams
LBD.J. Calhoun
Arizona State 
Lorenzo Carter
Dillon Bates
CBMackensie Alexander
Tony Brown
Marlon Humphrey
CBJabrill Peppers
Jalen Tabor
Jermaine Kelly
SQuin Blanding
Steven Parker
Malkom Parrish (DB)
SJamal Adams
Tyree Robinson

Wesley Green (CB)
South Carolina 

 First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team SpecialistsThird-Team Specialists
KDaniel Carlson
Cole Hedlund
Sean Nuernberger
Ohio State 
PJK Scott

Colin Downing

Iowa State 

Gary Wunderlich
Ole Miss 
ATHAdoree' Jackson
JuJu Smith
Wayne Gallman (RB)
APSpeedy Noil
Texas A&M 
Curtis Samuel
Ohio State 
Allen Lazard (WR)
Iowa State 


College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2014
Post date: Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-6-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for August 6:

. I'm with her; the only way to enjoy that nerve-wracking experience would be to get hammered first.


. You'd almost think one was imitating the other.


. Write your own joke; I'm too lazy.


• Not sports-related, but kind of inspiring: .

• LolMets: .



. Very regular.

• Our lives are complete. We've now seen Adam Dunn pitch a complete inning.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 10:37
Path: /college-football/coaches-talk-anonymously-about-notre-dame-2014

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 2014, Athlon asked coaches around the nation to talk anonymously about their opponents.


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


Coaches Anonymously Scout Notre Dame for 2014


“I know they lost a lot up front with two of their best players, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt, coming out, but their other defensive linemen certainly looked the part in pregame warm-ups, so they should be fine there.”…

“Both coordinators are going to be new. I think Coach Kelly will call the plays on offense so that will probably keep the continuity, while defensively expect them to be very multiple.”…

“They are going to have some young guys who will have to play, especially up front.”…

“They are going to have talented guys across the field.”…

“I do like Everett Golson. He’ll help. He does a good job extending plays. The pass game wasn’t as consistent as they would have liked two years ago but he’s definitely someone who can hurt you pulling the ball down and extending plays.”…

“They’ve got a true freshman last year, linebacker Jaylon Smith, He’ll be a really good player. He’s probably one of the top ones coming back for them.”…

“At the skill positions offensively, they were pretty good but not great. They are big and good looking but probably average for what they should be at Notre Dame.”…

“What was most impressive about their offense is the dual-threat ability of the tight end position and how they played off tight end action in the running game. The tight end (Troy Niklas) was really solid for them – he did a little bit of everything, really talented blocker. Losing him will be big.”…

“I liked George Atkinson III, too, but he’s gone as well. He had natural burst and speed.

“It will help if they can develop a home run hitter, and maybe the receiver (DaVaris Daniels) could be that for them.”…

Coaches Talk Anonymously About Notre Dame for 2014
Post date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/acc-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-conference-foes-2014

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 2014, Athlon asked coaches in the ACC to talk anonymously about their opponents.



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


ACC Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes


Atlantic Division


Boston College


“They are replacing skill position kids, which is tough.”…

“Defensively, they’ll get some injured guys back so they should be better there. Malachi Moore is a big defensive end that will help them.”…

“They signed a big class because they had so many seniors at the skill positions a year ago.”…

“The quarterback played a bunch of ball and obviously Andre Williams was such a great player. They have a lot of unknowns at several spots for next year but have recruited well.”…

“Boston College was interesting last year because there were whispers Addazio would go to the spread but they were straight power running game all year, which was a good move by them because they adapted to their personnel.”…

“I think Addazio wants to have a quarterback who can use make plays with his feet, and maybe the Florida transfer, Tyler Murphy, can do that.”…

“They lost two tackles but return all of their inside guys so everything won’t be tough and brand new for them.”…

“It’s uncertain whether they really have the answer at quarterback yet, and replacing Williams with a committee of backs won’t be easy. He was so strong and durable and carried them for stretches a year ago.”…

“They have an M.O. – don’t turn the ball over, play tough and keep the game tight. They were in it with FSU and Clemson a year ago.”…



“Their front seven on defense is really good, and getting Vic Beasley back solidifies it.”…

“Offensively they lost a lot of weapons, which will help the teams that play them.”…

“Replacing skill players like Sammy Watkins and a three-year starter like Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, that’s a lot of speed and talent that caught a lot of teams off guard. That’s really hard to replace.”…

“Their inside guys were very stout and physical. They have a strong side defensive end (Shaq Lawson) that’s a powerful guy, a weapon as a pass rusher. Beasley loves third and long. When he came back, a lot of coaches in the ACC said uh oh. He’s a premier player in pass rush, just good enough in run game, not great. They position him well and have a good scheme.”…

“Brent Venables does a good job with positioning players to make plays.”…

“They can turn the ball over a little bit, and if you can keep them in a long field, that can throw them off what they want to do.”…

“Clemson’s offense is sort of an unknown right now – you know with Chad Morris they’ll be competitive, but Watkins was a heckuva safety valve to have.”…

“I really liked Clemson safety, Robert Smith. Corey Crawford, a defensive end, is solid. Just a solid front they have. You wouldn’t find one goat over where you’d say we’re attacking this guy.”…

“This might be a year where Clemson’s defense is more explosive than its offense.”…


Florida State


“They’ve got a whole lot coming back.”…

“Tight end Nick O’Leary is back – he’s a really good player.”…

“The defense has lost some players in the secondary, they were by far the best secondary we played without question.”…

“Not sure schematically what they are going to do since they had kind of moved to a 3-4 from a 4-3 played a lot of nickel. With the new defensive coach coming in again and Jeremy Pruitt gone, I’m not sure how that will change.”…

“They are just really fast across the board. They didn’t have a weakness on their team a year ago.”…

“They had depth, good speed, the offensive line was really good, the tight end position, multiple tailbacks you had to worry about.”…

“With three straight No. 1 recruiting classes, I don’t see their talent dropping of a whole lot, even though they are young in a few spots.”…

“With Jameis Winston, you’ve got to get him down, get to him early and you can’t let him make plays, which is really tough. If you don’t get to him enough early and if he has time, the receivers are too good.”…

“They do a nice job running the ball, which helps, them because they can get one-on-one matchups on the outside. The quarterback (Winston) is the best.”…

“Rashad Greene’s really good, quick. What he did after the catch was impressive.”…

“O’Leary is a really good player. Good ball skills, runs really good routes, tries to block, not a great blocker but tries hard, gives good effort.”…

“Auburn had some success against them because when you have that much time to prepare for somebody early on, you can do some things based on tendencies.”…

“You have to tackle well and pressure the quarterback, force him to throw some interceptions, which he doesn’t do a lot.”…

“I wouldn’t think anybody would be a favorite over them in our league.”…




“Louisville will miss Teddy Bridgewater and their success will depend on the play of his replacement, but they are established with high-caliber players at every position and will immediately be thrust into the upper half of the ACC talent wise.”…

“If you had to pick one problematic area for them, elite defensive back coverage was one of the only weaknesses. Pass rush was too good to get exposed except in crucial situations like in the UCF game. They allowed UCF to get back in that game after it didn’t get enough pressure and it didn’t allow Louisville to blow other teams out like they probably should have.”…

“Their running offense was talented but was never as productive and dynamic as it could have been. Maybe they will develop that more now that the quarterback is gone.”…

“You can’t understate the loss of Bridgewater. He was great at the line of scrimmage checking into plays and could make every throw. It’s hard to just roll a new guy in there and expect the same without a few mistakes early, but B. His system is quarterback-friendly.”…

“Will Gardner, who’s got the momentum to start, has a strong arm, but I hear he’ll be pushed by Reggie Bonnafon, the incoming freshman.”…

“Overall, they are pretty stout in all areas. They are very deep after a handful of Charlie Strong recruiting classes.”…

“Bobby walks into a nice situation. The guy they’ll really miss is Calvin Pryor, though. Huge hitter and difference-maker.”…


NC State


“They were pretty weak everywhere, save maybe specialists, because it was such a rebuilding job. A lot of freshmen and sophomores.”…

“The new quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, he’ll help a lot, as far as leadership and talent.”…

“They played a bunch of true freshmen at wide receiver and running back and tight end. They should be better than they were.”…

“Defensively, they’ve got some good young linemen, Kentavius Street being one of them. They’ll have to grow up quickly.”…

“The left tackle who was hurt last year, Rob Crisp, he’ll be back. Safety Jarvis Byrd has missed multiple years due to injury but they get him back – he’s not an all-conference guy – but a tough guy.”…

“Joe Thuney is one of the best guards in the league. He’s a lot better inside but I think they had to move him outside because of injuries.”…

“I know they are high on defensive tackle T.Y. McGill. He’s had a great offseason for them.”…

“For Dave Doeren, you don’t know what you’re getting when you take a job. Once you get into it, you’re kind of figuring out what the issues are, and they had a good bit of them lineup wise with recruiting, transfers or injuries, discipline and academic issues – they were able to fill a lot of needs in this last class.”…

“I think they like where they are character-wise right now. But those young players have to produce. They are short on known commodities. It’s a big year for them.”…




“They were very physical up front and defensively. By the end of the year they were playing extremely physical.”…

“Middle linebacker Marquis Spruill, who’s gone, was the heart and soul of that defense, you could tell. He was the motor that got the thing going. He’ll be a guy they’ll need to replace.”…

“On the back end they were OK. You could run behind them a couple of times.”…

“Coach Shafer is recruiting to his mentality – he’s a fiery, tough guy. That’s what you’ll get.”…

“The quarterback (Terrel Hunt) was hot and cold throughout the year but he found their niche late in the season. He could take charge at times. He can keep plays alive with his feet, throws the ball and runs the ball well, can keep the ball alive on third down, smart with the ball. He was maybe turning the ball over a little bit too much early on.”…

“The American, when it was the Big East, was a good league, so Syracuse came in and wasn’t fazed by the physicality of the ACC. You didn’t have the big time BCS teams but you had good solid football.”…

“The style of football matched up well. It’s a tough league – Year 1 they are finding that out, because teams mix it up with tempo and traditional sets. Syracuse played physical power football and it’s a good mix.”…

“They had a big back that was a good player, Jerome Smith, a big kid out of Delaware.”…

“The offensive line was decent. Their guards and centers were older guys. At wide receiver, I didn’t remember a game-changer, but they do have size there.”…


Wake Forest


“Talent wise, they weren’t at the top of the league, or really anything close.”…

“The nose guard they are losing, Nikita Whitlock, was a really active player for them. He’ll be really hard to replace. I’m not too sure what they’ll do schematically with the new coach, but Whitlock was a guy you had to deal with.”…

“Up front, they were serviceable – weren’t great, weren’t terrible.”…

“The linebackers were OK. They weren’t really athletic. They tried to play physical and down and around the box. It’s not the upper-tier talent team that Clemson was.”…

“Dave Clawson is a good coach – he always has had really well-coached teams. They were rough teams – not super talented, but rough kids that liked to hit. Even in the secondary, you could tell that unit was well coached. They’ll bring that attitude.”…

“Offensively, I’m not sure what they’ll do but it should be a good fit overall with the new staff. The problem is they didn’t have much firepower.”…

“Losing wideout Michael Campanaro is tough. He’s was really good player – that’s really all they had. They didn’t have a lot of support around him. I know he was injured throughout the season, which hurt them as well.”…

“Recruiting, not sure what they brought in because of the short time with a new coach.”…

“You have to play really tough football at a place like Wake, because wins won’t come easy.”...

Listen to the Cover 2 college football podcast with guest Steven Godfrey:

Coastal Division




“It’s truly impressive what they’ve been able to do, because they are not all that impressive looking as far as personnel.”…

“The defense doesn’t scare you. Pound for pound, they might have been more talented in 2012. But they are great scheme wise and play well together. That’s a credit to coach Cutcliffe.”…

“They do a great job taking away what you want to do.”…

“They did a nice job mixing the two quarterbacks. They have a good system there.”…

“Talent wise, it’s still tough sledding for them, though I think their depth has improved the last few years.”…

“They aren’t going to win a lot of recruiting battles with the top schools. But they have an identity and players feed off each other, which helps them.”…

“Don’t understate the loss of Kurt Roper to Florida. He’s a bright guy and he was with Cutcliffe back to their Ole Miss days. It’s Cutcliffe’s offense, but Roper had a good feel for the offense. I wonder if that will affect them.”…

“I’m not sure what they’ll have on defense. They had a few good pass rushers and a steady secondary, but they lost some players.”…

“Can they keep the momentum going? Because it’s amazing to watch, seeing them all year and they beat teams more talented than them. It’s impressive, no doubt.”…


Georgia Tech


“It’s just hard to recruit there because of the option.”…

“They had a fortunate streak of really good wide receivers a few years ago, but if you’re a top receiver, why would you go to Georgia Tech? You’ll run eight routes a game. They don’t really have the Calvin Johnsons or Stephen Hills that they used to.”…

“I think the system catching up to them. It’s not a system that translates to the NFL.”…

“They have some good running backs – they’ll always have that – but overall we felt they had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. There’s just not really an imposing or athletic presence there.”…

“They did have sort of a hybrid tight end/receiver we liked, Darren Waller. He’s about as impressive as you’ll see for that size.”…

“Defensively, they had a good looking team. Ted Roof has done a nice job settling that unit down and simplifying things for them. They could really rush the passer at times last year.”…

“Jeremiah Attaochu and Emmanuel Dieke were really athletic and could get in your backfield, but they have to replace both of those guys.”…

“Linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days is a good player.”…

“I’m not sure what happened with Vad Lee, the transfer. He’s talented but, again, it’s a system thing – he didn’t want to run the option.”…

“The option is always tough to prepare for – Georgia Tech can always get at least a few quality wins out of it – but I’m not sure it’s a sustainable model.”…




“Stephen Morris probably hurt them more than he helped them.”…

“They have a good pool of talent, but then I thought offensively they were erratic as Morris was erratic. As long as Duke Johnson was there, it didn’t matter all that much. When you took him out of the equation, they were a little bit like running on one leg.”…

“Defensively, what surprises me is they are not very fast overall as a team. It’s opposite of what you’d expect of a Miami team based on their history.”…

“I just don’t think they are extremely quick or fast on defense, which you’d think wouldn’t be a problem.”…

“Linebacker Denzel Perryman looks the part. Good player.”…

“The offensive line I thought was really, really good - maybe the most talented in the league overall. They have a lot of depth there and should be good again.”…

“They were just kind of surprisingly erratic on defense. The defensive line was just average.”…

“I thought Morris was sometimes a little too emotional as a quarterback. You can’t be up and down. I don’t know how to describe it. He was trying to make plays that aren’t there and wearing his feelings on his sleeve a little bit. I just thought there was some of that going on. He was talented. I don’t know much about his replacement (possibly Ryan Williams), but they need someone who won’t hurt them with bad throws.”…

“Duke Johnson is good enough to erase a lot of problems. He’s special.”…


North Carolina


“Marquise Williams does give Larry Fedora the ability to run his natural spread offense. But I thought they were better when they had Bryn Renner for the most part. He’s a talented quarterback who utilized their weapons better and allowed them to be a little more consistent because of the way he throws the ball.”…

“The jury is still out on Williams.”…

“I think they have a potential great one in (running back) T.J. Logan. He didn’t get a lot of touches last year, but you can tell the talent’s there.”…

“They had some growing pains on the offensive line that made it a little tough to run the ball last year.”…

“They aren’t great at wide receiver. It’s hard when you don’t have an elite playmaker at receiver, but they ain’t going to miss on a bunch in recruiting. They’ll always have players at UNC. They could use an extra playmaker, though.”…

“Defensively, they are improving. They had some good players in the defensive backfield, especially safety Tre Boston and linebacker Norkeithus Otis – they are both pretty active and can cover a lot of ground. They will help.”…

“I think North Carolina is going to have a good football team. It’s a process with depth for them. Though they inherited a bunch of talented players, it can be hard to rebuild that overnight. The way they responded last year was important because their season was going south early on.”…




“Offensively, it’s all about the receivers. They lose Devin Street, but Tyler Boyd is back – he’s special. He’s just polished, athletic and can run. He’s a big play waiting to happen.”…

“Having Boyd is a big help to whichever quarterback replaces Tom Savage, who was better than you’d think.”…

“On the offensive line, they were decent but not the kind of maulers you’d expect from a Pitt team.”…

“I wasn’t as high on the offensive line as you might think. They are pretty big and physical and run to the ball, but they aren’t really scaring you”….

“Somehow they have to replace Aaron Donald. But you can’t. At times, he was almost unblockable. Couldn’t do anything with him one on one. Nobody else in the league affected games up front like he could.”…

“Defensive end Bryan Murphy, nobody talked about him, probably because Donald was so good, but Murphy could play.”…

“They fit in pretty well in the ACC – they’ve done a good job recruiting and a good job of keeping players at home. Can they hold off teams coming into Pittsburgh? Because there are a lot of them.”…

“A lot will hinge on what their quarterback plans are. I’m not sure what they had behind Savage. Chryst is known to be pretty good with quarterbacks so we’ll see what they can conjure up.”…




“I don’t see them being much better.”…

“It’s the strangest thing – on defense, they can look like the ‘85 Bears some moments and look like they want to avoid contact the next. They just didn’t play real hard all the time. I don’t know if it was because they were losing or what, but the defense is talented enough to be at least decent. They don’t play all the time.”…

“Defensive end Eli Harold was unbelievable when he was playing hard. That wasn’t all the time.”…

“Linebacker Henry Coley – we thought he was the best linebacker in the entire league. Tough, solid, physical player.”…

“They have a corner – Maurice Canady – that we were impressed with.”…

“I think their quarterback situation is kind of a mess. David Watford is not a guy that I think can win consistently for them. Backup Greyson Lambert wasn’t particularly impressive.”…

“For whatever reason, consistency just eludes Mike London. I thought they had their moments when they played extremely well. However, finding a way to win and be consistent seems to be a challenge for them.”…

“They are better than they were at quarterback from the year before, but it’s a lot of coaching changes and assistant coach moving parts and just a lot of change there overall. Programs aren’t built overnight. It takes some consistency.”…

“Their linebacking core is pretty good and they had some good-looking defensive players in certain spots.”…

“I know they have some talented young players coming in. They’ve recruited well enough where they aren’t far off. The climate can always change pretty quickly in this league. But I couldn’t name a lot of guys on offense for them.”…

“The offensive and defensive lines looked the part. They had a few things to work with.”…


Virginia Tech


“Logan Thomas was erratic.”…

“I don’t know what their identity is offensively, and I don’t know that they do.”…

“I thought they were one of the best defensive teams in the country. Look at what they did against any opponent.”…

“They suffered losses in the defensive front, but the defense is terrific.”…

“They lost Kyle Fuller, who is a great playmaker. He had the ability to stop the option by himself by the way he could cover tight ends and play almost as a linebacker and a corner.”…

“Kyle Fuller’s brother, the corner, Kendall, is a great young player.”…

“I can’t name a lot of guys on offense that really scare you.”…

“I’d say kind of establishing the run game has been more difficult for them than they want to have happen, at least compared to in the past. They used to be so good there.”… 

“Thomas was not consistently performing at a level where he’s dangerous all the time, and that’s what they’ll need from the new guy, whoever it is.”…

“The key to greatness for any quarterback, collegiately and in the NFL, what you are looking for is consistency. The greats aren’t running fast or electric all the time, but they are so consistent. Virginia Tech just hasn’t had that at quarterback, though Logan’s receivers didn’t exactly help him all the time. They had a good bit of drops from what I understand.”…

“Their young defensive end, a South Florida kid (Dadi Nicolas), he’s a playmaker. He’s a handful to handle. He didn’t start but played a lot. Really talented.”…

ACC Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2014
Post date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-best-and-worst-logos-2014

Official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 


Every college football program in the nation has an official logo and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.


Since Athlon Sports has been designing  on newsstands for the better part of half a century, we asked our senior graphic design guru to rank college football's best and worst logos.


Here is what Art Director  had to say about the Big 12's football logos:


 TeamLogo Analysis
1.Texas Arguably the best logo in college football, the Longhorn is classic, simple, unchanging but also unique and creative. There is nothing else to say.
2.Oklahoma There is no doubting what the interlocking "O" and "U" stand for, right? The smooth lines and lack of extras in the font make this a fantastic logo.
3.Kansas State All of Kansas State's design work, color scheme and uniforms are underrated and the logo is the same. Aggressive, stylish but yet still fairly simple and clean.
4.West Virginia When it comes to creativity, this one gets high marks for the way the letters have been worked together without putting too much flair into the design. It also reminds fans of the WVU landscape as well.
5.TCU The block font will always be in style and the arched type works best with three letters rather than four or more. An underrated logo.
6.Oklahoma State The letters are uniquely combined and the font is solid. The grey outline isn't the best and gives this logo a third unneeded color.
7.Iowa State The power "I" and arched State are very unique across all of college football. But nothing can be done about the color scheme.
8.Texas Tech The big-T, little-T combo is pretty cool but this logo is extremely busy. Beveled font and three different colors don't exude tradition.
9.Baylor Normally, block lettering is great but the Bears' font is just a little off and seems a bit antiquated. The color scheme isn't the best, but is used well.
10.Kansas The cartoon Jayhawk is a signature logo but doesn't really create an intimidating image in any sense of the word. And why is it dancing?
Ranking the Big 12's Best and Worst Logos in 2014
Post date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/15-defensive-heisman-trophy-candidates-2014

When it comes to the Heisman Trophy, the little guy gets no respect.


And by the little guy, I don’t mean Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton. I mean 300-pound defensive lineman or 6-foot-4 fire-breathing linebackers.


No, when it comes to the most prestigious trophy in sports, the entire defensive side of the ball has been largely ignored for the better part of a century. Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 is the only true defensive player to ever win the award.


Recent runs to New York by Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009 and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o in '12 may be a sign of things changing slowly, but odds are still heavily stacked against the defensive side of the ball.


Assuming that both halves of the field will get a fair shake this fall, who are the top defensive Heisman candidates for 2014?


Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

Fans and experts all point to Myles Jack as the top defensive candidate to break through this fall but he isn’t expected to be used on offense. Thompson, on the other hand, could see more than spot duty for the Huskies' offense. He is a freak athlete, an All-American candidate and could be the next two-way star in college football.


Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

The nation’s top returning sack master is the Tigers' star — who posted 13 sacks a year ago. For a defense that could be the best Clemson has had in years, Beasley’s explosive playmaking ability should make for national headlines.


Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

The Big Ten’s top returning sack master (9.5), Gregory is hoping to restore the Nebraska defense to Blackshirt status. He should be able to build on his monster 2013 campaign that featured 65 tackles, 16 for a loss and 15 quarterback hurries. Like Calhoun, Gregory should perform like the projected first-round NFL Draft pick that he is.


Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma

The big-play linebacker shows up all over the field. He constantly disrupts the opposing backfield and regularly imposes his will with physicality and explosiveness. He should build on his stat line from last year: 50 tackles, 10.6 TFL, 6.5 sacks.


Listen to the latest Cover 2 college football podcast:


Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Not many players earn first-team preseason All-American honors as a true sophomore but that is what VH3 has done. He might be the nation’s top pure cover corner and should only build on his excellent first season in Gainesville.


Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

He was the No. 1 recruit in the nation at his position for a reason. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound athlete stepped into a starring role for Notre Dame and produced as just a freshman last fall. He posted 67 tackles (third on the team), 6.5 for a loss and made one freakish interception against USC. With a move to the inside, Smith should find himself around the ball on every play and the Irish have already proven that their middle linebacker can land in New York.


Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

The massive (6-5, 260) defensive end was a star last year as just a sophomore (37 tackles, 14 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 3 defensive touchdowns). With much less help at linebacker, the Spartans' defensive line now takes center stage. Calhoun is the star of that bunch due to elite NFL upside.


Landon Collins, S, Alabama

He is one of the most gifted tacklers in the nation. When Collins arrives at the ball, the entire country knows about it. The lone returning starter in the Crimson Tide secondary could be the nation’s best safety. And he plays a position that has recently become a marquee spot with names like Mark Barron and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix excelling for the Tide.


Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

Jack made a huge name for himself last fall while playing two ways. Unfortunately, coach Jim Mora has talked openly about returning his star linebacker to an exclusively defensive role. Either way, he is a star athlete who will be a national award winner at some point.


Leonard Williams, DE, USC

The lanky defensive end is a projected top pick in the NFL Draft in the spring and should he dominate the line of scrimmage once again — he has 26 TFL and 13 sacks in two seasons — he should be in line for national acclaim.


Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State

Not many true freshmen start every game for a national champion but that is what the former five-star recruit did for the Noles a year ago. The lanky playmaker should develop into one of the best defenders in the nation and should be an All-American this fall.


Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

The first-team All-American cornerback consistently makes highlight-reel plays on defense. He has seven interceptions and seven forced fumbles in the last two seasons while making 147 total stops. He could be the most high-profile member of a Pac-12 championship defense.


Su’a Cravens, S, USC

From a talent standpoint, few can match Cravens’ size and speed combination. He proved as a true freshman last year that he could be special, posting 53 tackles and four interceptions.


Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State

As a true freshman, Jones — who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds — made a much bigger impact than even his five-star status indicated. He posted 32 tackles, seven for a loss and three sacks and constantly disrupted the opposing backfield. He is a sure-fire future NFL star.


Cedric Reed, DE, Texas

He is a massive part of the Longhorns' rebuilding project on defense, figuratively and literally. At 6-6 and 260 pounds, Reed towers above the competition regularly and his numbers back it up as well. He posted 77 tackles, 16.5 TFL and 10 sacks last year and should only be better this year.

10 Defensive Heisman Trophy Candidates for 2014
Post date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 07:15