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Tag:Lombardi Award
Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 2:51 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 28: Secondary breakdown

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.

DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 8, or the number of wins for LSU in the series in the past 11 meetings. Before that uptick the Bayou Bengals trailed the Tide 42-16-5 in the all-time series and had never defeated Alabama three consecutive times. The man most responsible for the change in fortunes? Nick Saban, who went 4-1 against the Tide in his five-year stint at the LSU helm between 2000 and 2004, ending a run of 9 Alabama victories in 11 years. Saban hasn't had quite as much success turning the tables -- yet -- in Tuscaloosa, going 2-2 against LSU in his four years at Alabama.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Who has the better secondary? Or maybe more importantly: which team matches up better against the opponents' receivers?

Amongst the many superlatives that will be thrown around regarding this game, here's one that's entirely deserved: these are the best two secondaries in college football. 

And with all due respect to, say, Michigan State or Virginia Tech, we're not sure it's close. Between Alabama's fivesome of safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester and corners Dre Kirkpatrick, Demarcus Milliner and Dequan Menzie, and LSU's of safeties Eric Reid and Brandon Taylor (or Craig Loston) and corners Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne and Tharold Simon, it's possible the teams will combine for 8 or 9 future NFL defensive backs. (Hell: maybe 10)

So who's better? The stats give Alabama a slight edge, with the Tide having allowed an opposing QB rating of 83.68 to LSU's 96.49, just 4.5 yards per-pass attempt to LSU's 5.4, and a completion percentage of 48.1 to LSU's 53.1. (All of these numbers for both teams rank among the best in the nation, of course.) Alabama has also reached "total shutdown" phase more often, holding five of their opponents to a QB rating of 90 or worse while LSU has unlocked that achievement just three times.

In LSU's favor, though, is that 1. they've played the tougher schedule, thanks to facing teams like Oregon and West Virginia 2. they're more likely to come up with the big play, with 11 interceptions to Alabama's 9 and Mathieu among the national leaders in forced fumbles 3. as could be particularly important in a matchup of such fierce ground games, they're more involved in stuffing the run, with Taylor, Reid, Mathieu and Claiborne all among the Tigers' top five tacklers. 

So call all of that a draw. What about matchups? The Tide will be facing the toughest cover in the head-to-head in the form of Rueben Randle, now leading the SEC in average yards per-completion by a substanial margin, and they can't forget about true freshman Odell Beckham Jr. (27 receptions, 334 yards). Those are two of only three LSU targets in double-digit receptions for the year, though, while the Tide boast seven. Marquis Maze (pictured at the top of this post, opposite Mathieu in the 2010 meeting) leads the way, of course, with 39  catches and 482 yards.

So as with so many other aspects of LSU-Alabama, who wins the head-to-head between the secondaries will likely come down to whether the Tide can stop the big play. They couldn't last year, when the Tigers averaged 15 yards a completion. And on the other side of the ball, as relatively mistake-free as AJ McCarron has been, he hasn't faced the ball-hawking likes of Mathieu and Claiborne yet.

But if Barron and Lester can provide the necessary help against Randle over the top and McCarron stays in control, the matchup should swing in the Tide's favor--between their wider array of targets on offense and the LSU secondary's occasional pliability (see the 463 passing yards yielded to West Virginia), they should be more able to consistently disrupt the LSU passing game more often than LSU disrputs theirs. Especially with the Tide defenders having the advantage of homefield, we'll give the thinnest of  edges to Alabama here.

THE LATEST FROM BATON ROUGE: That this LSU-Alabama game has already reached such colossal importance means it's a good time to remind fans of both sides that there's things that are actually more important than football (it's true!), and the continuing efforts to provide relief in the wake of the tragic April 27 tornadoes that ripped through the Tuscaloosa area are one of those things.

That's why Louisana chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto have paired up with Tide football legend Bob Baumhower to hold the first-ever "Lousi-Bama Gumbo Bowl," a charity fund-raising event for tornado relief to be held outside Bryan-Denny Stadium ... and produce the new Guinness World Record holder for the Largest Pot of Gumbo. If you weren't interested before ... 

The team will create a monster pot of gumbo, using a 300-year-old cast iron pot from the sugar cane fields of South Louisiana. The World's Largest Gumbo recipe calls for 750 pounds shrimp, 450 pounds catfish fillets, 100 pounds claw crabmeat, 50 pounds white crabmeat, 200 pounds alligator meat, and 25 pounds Louisiana crawfish tail meat.

The recipe will include 200 pounds of diced onions, 75 pounds of diced celery, 100 pounds of diced green bell pepper, 150 pounds of sliced okra, 50 pounds of dehydrated garlic, and 20 pounds of butter. After simmering for three hours, the pot will be weighed via a forklift. Then, the delicious, steaming contents will be doled out to hungry football fans during the pre-game tailgate.

Pardon us while we wipe up our drool. Tickets to the event can be purchased here. For more information (including the charities to benefit, click here

LSU's coaches have been committed to showing their defense a running back with something like Trent Richardson's power in practice. How committed? Richardson's role on the scout team has been played by a linebacker, freshman Trevon Randle. Not that Claiborne is planning on going strength-on-strength with Richardson no matter how much practice he gets on Randle. 

"Any way you can get him on the ground, you just get him on the ground,” Claiborne said of the Tide star. “I know where I’m going. I’m going for the legs.” (Not a bad plan, Morris, though we doubt Randle's going to help get you ready for feet like these, either.)

Via And the Valley Shookthe LSU film department has put together a trailer for the game. And it's one we find hard to imagine won't get the blood pumping for both Tiger fan and neutrals alike:

THE LATEST FROM TUSCALOOSA: Hey speaking of Richardson, we've got some good news for LSU fans. Here's what he said Thursday about the bye week:

“My body is probably in the best condition it's been in since I've been in college, and now I get a break, and my body will feel even better when I come back.” 

Oh, wait, sorry; that's terrible news.

Overall, the Tide's attitude towards LSU has been what you'd expect: respect, but clearly not too much respect. See, for instance, this al.com video of Maze discussing Mathieu. Or this quote from senior center William Vlachos on the LSU defense:

“They're dominant,” Vlachos said. “They're solid all the way around. Their coordinator does a really good job with their defense. That's something everybody's been talking about, and we're looking forward to the challenge of playing against a great defense.”

That's nice and all, but where's the bulletin board material, guys? (Our best guess: somewhere on the LSU side. Both teams are very much reflections of their head coaches, and who do you think might slip up and say something overconfident and/or "smack"-like: Saban or Les Miles?)

The honors have continued to roll in for the Tide defense. Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and offensive lineman Barrett Jones three of the 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award,  and Hightower and Barron have been named quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Award.


Posted on: August 11, 2011 9:10 am
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Pac-12 team

Posted by Bryan Fischer

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here is one writer's choices for the preseason All-Pac-12 team.

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Andrew Luck, RsJunior, Stanford

For those that know him, Luck's decision to return to Palo Alto and pass up millions as the sure-fire first pick in the NFL Draft wasn't surprising. Following a season in which he passed for 3,338 yards and tossed 32 touchdowns against just eight interceptions, the native Texan just wanted to complete his degree - in architectural design. The Heisman runner-up does a pretty good job on the field of designing plays that end in a completion (71% of the time last year). He's not bad at running the ball either but earns his spot on the first team as the top signal-caller in the Pac-12.

Also watch for: The conference of quarterbacks is a pretty appropriate for the Pac-12 considering there are a number of players who can give Luck a run for his money. USC's Matt Barkley is a possible first round pick as well and has a talented receiving corps at his disposal. Oregon's Darron Thomas will put up big numbers through the air and on the ground and could take the top spot by beating Stanford. Arizona's Nick Foles and Utah's Jordan Wynn are also in the conversation.

RUNNING BACK

LaMichael James, RsJunior, Oregon

The Doak Walker Award Winner as the nation's best running back last season, James is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. He was the NCAA's leading rusher last season with 1,731 yards and is in position to break just about every Oregon record left in the books. He's not the biggest back but he does deliver the most production on the field.

Chris Polk, Junior, Washington

Polk burst on to the scene with a 1,000 yard season his freshman year and ever since then has been in the conversation for all-conference honors. He can catch the ball out of the backfield (4th leading receiver last year) and it will be tough to stop him from having another big season with the Huskies' offense revolving around him.

Also watch for: Stanford's Stepfan Taylor was Toby Gerhart's replacement last year and should be able to build on a very good breakout season. Newcomer Rodney Stewart from Colorado is a bright spot for the Buffaloes and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin should put up some good numbers in the school's Pistol offense.

WIDE RECEIVER

Robert Woods, Sophomore, USC

Woods wasn't even supposed to be the best receiver at his high school but he nevertheless turned into a Freshman All-American and was the Trojans' most consistent pass catcher. He should surpass his total of 792 receiving yards easily this year as Barkley's favorite target.

Jermaine Kearse, Senior, Washington

The speedy Kearse averaged 16 yards a catch last year in route to a 1,000 yard season as the Huskies most consistent receiver. He doesn't get the attention nationally that he deserves but with a talented receiver group around him in 2011, he could be freed up to torch a few secondaries even with a new quarterback.

Also watch for: Arizona's Juron Criner is 1c as far as Pac-12 receivers go. Marquess Wilson out of Washington State is the best receiver no one has heard of and sophomore Kennan Allen is a dynamic playmaker for Cal. If healthy, Stanford's Chris Owusu is in the mix, as is Oregon State's James Rodgers.

TIGHT END

David Paulson, Senior, Oregon

Expected to take on a bigger role in the offense, Paulson has a great pair of hands and managed to sneak behind linebackers fairly often last year to average 17.4 yards a catch.

Also watch for: This position is surprisingly deep and even newcomer Ryan Deehan from Colorado could emerge as the top guy in his new conference. Oregon State's Joe Halahuni has to stay healthy but is a big target and Stanford's Coby Fleener will put up good numbers with Luck throwing to him all season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Garth Gerhart, RsSenior, Arizona State

Named to the Remington Trophy Watch List, Gerhart is one of only three returning centers in the conference and is looking to step out of his older brother's (Heisman finalist Toby) shadow.

Guard David DeCastro, RsJunior, Stanford

The anchor for a line that only gave up 13 sacks all season, the Lombardi Award candidate is excellent in space while pass blocking.

Guard Ryan Miller, Senior, Colorado

Miller can play either guard or tackle and the mammoth 6-foot-8, 295-pounder is excellent in space and one of the top guards in the country.

Tackle Matt Kalil, RsJunior, USC

A possible first round draft pick if he chooses to leave early, Kalil has the size and the pedigree (older brother Ryan is a starter for the Carolina Panthers) to be the next great Trojan left tackle.

Tackle Tony Bergstrom, Senior, Utah

Bergstrom has started every game the past two seasons and did not allow a sack during the regular season.

Also watch for: Oregon guard Carson York is a key player for the Ducks and Bay Area tackles Jonathan Martin (Stanford) and Mitchell Schwartz (Cal) give defensive ends fits all game long.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

End Junior Onyeali, Sophomore, Arizona State

Not the biggest end on the field but he's a terror off the edge. With the quickness and speed of a linebacker, he's not someone the offensive tackle enjoys blocking.

End Datone Jones, RsJunior, UCLA

He missed all of last year with a broken foot but seems back and better than ever. He can play the run just as well as the pass and is the anchor for the Bruins' line.

Tackle Alameda Ta'amu, Senior Washington

The rock of the Huskies defense, he closed out the year strong. He ends up commanding double teams due to his size (6-foot-3, 337 pounds) and ability.

Tackle Justin Washington, Sophomore, Arizona

Washington has the quickness of an end but he's inside and makes his presence known. He had six sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss as a true freshman last season.

Also watch for: Colorado's Will Pericak and Josh Hartigan are a great tandem from Boulder and Washington State's Travis Long is under the radar but excellent as well. USC's Nick Perry and George Uko are both primed for a break out year.

Linebackers

Vontaze Burfict, Junior, Arizona State

There's talk of him being more mature and a better leader which is actually a bit scary for opponents considering he is one of the quickest, most instinctive linebackers in the game and someone you don't want to get hit by.

Shayne Skov, Junior, Stanford

Turned in a great sophomore campaign and is relentless with his pursuit of the play. He's an intense tackling machine who always seems to find himself around the football.

Mychal Kendricks, Senior, Cal

An experienced outside linebacker, he's sliding inside in the Bears' scheme this year. Athletic enough to be a disruption when dropping into coverage, Kendricks can also be found in the backfield. Often.

Also watch for: Patrick Larimore is the Bruins middle backer and their defensive stopper. Chaz Walker out of Utah and a healthy Chris Galippo from USC are both solid playmakers at times.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Corner Cliff Harris, Junior, Oregon

Though he's suspended for the opener, the ball-hawking corner will immediately give a boost to the Ducks secondary with his ability to cover receivers.

Corner Trevin Wade, Senior, Arizona

He had an off year last year but is the anchor of the secondary for the Wildcats and has good size and a knack for knocking away the ball.

Safety Delano Howell, Senior, Stanford

Howell has seen just about everything you can possibly throw at him and reads and reacts like the best of them. He's not just a cover guy either as he's a very good tackler.

Safety, T.J. McDonald, Junior, USC

One of the bigger players roaming the secondary, McDonald is following in his All-American father Tim's shoes. He's more comfortable in year two of Monte Kiffin's system and should see his level of play rise as a result.

Also watch for: Oregon's John Boyett is tough to face playing with Harris and Tony Dye at UCLA is a bright spot for the Bruins' defense last year.

Specialists

Kicker Erik Folk, Senior, Washington

The strong legged Folk is perfect on his PATs for his career and is seems to always come through despite any pressure in late game situations.

Punter Bryan Anger, Senior, Cal

Annually in the running for the Ray Guy Award for best punter, Anger has a big leg and usually can pin opponents deep in their own territory.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Lombardi Award Preseason Watch List

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The latest award to release its preseason watch list is the Lombardi Award, which was announced on Tuesday. The award is given annually to the best lineman in the country. Whether it be an offensive guard or a defensive end, if your Saturday is spent battling in the trenches, and you dominate the line of scrimmage like nobody else, The Rotary Lombardi Committee wants you to know that you aren't working in anonymity. Even linebackers can get in on the mix if they put their hands in the dirt from time to time.

Last year's recipient was Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Here are this season's candidates.

Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
Alvin Bailey, G, Arkansas
Don Barclay, OT, West Virginia
Kelvin Beachum, OT, SMU
Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
Nigel Bradham, LB, Florida State
Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State
Tanner Brock, LB, TCU
Jaymes Brooks, G, Virginia Tech
Austin Brown, DT, Miami
Vince Browne, DE, Northwestern
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
Ben Burkett, C, Northwestern
Miles Burris, LB, San Diego State
Thomas Byrd, C, Boise State
Tank Carder, LB, TCU
Audie Cole, LB, NC State
Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina
Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
Lavonte David, OT, Nebraska
Ja'Gared Davis, LB, SMU
Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas State
David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech
Joe Duhon, G, Southern Miss
Lonnie Edwards, G, Texas Tech
Joe Flading, OT, Ohio
Joel Foreman, G, Michigan State
Marcus Forston, DT, Miami
Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas
Dalton Freeman, C, Clemson
Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia
Stephen Good, G, Oklahoma
Ben Habern, C, Oklahoma
Logan Harrell, DT, Fresno State
Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Alex Hoffman, G, Cincinnati
Jaye Howard, DT, Florida
Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia
Malik Jackson, DE/DT, Tennessee
Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
Tony Jerod-Eddie, DL, Texas A&M
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Cam Johnson, DT, Virginia
Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Barrett Jones, G, Alabama
Ben Jones, C, Georgia
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal
Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State
Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
Brandon Lindsey, DE, Pitt
Trent Mackey, LB, Tulane
Brad Madison, DL, Missouri
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
Chris Marve, LB, Vanderbilt
Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy
Matt McCants, OT, UAB
Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State
Marcus McGraw, LB, Houston
Cameron Meredith, DE, Nebraska
Carmen Messina, LB, New Mexico
Ryan Miller, G, Colorado
Julian Miller, DT, West Virginia
David Molk, C, Michigan
Roosevelt Nix, DE, Kent State
Trevor Olson, OT, Northern Illinois
Kelechi Osemele, OT, Iowa State
Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina
Corey Paredes, LB, Hawai'i
Nick Perry, DE, USC
Moe Petrus, C, UConn
Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina
Sean Progar, DE, Northern Illinois
Kheeson Randall, DL, Texas
Taylor Reed, LB, SMU
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Kendall Reyes, DE, UConn
Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU
Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina
Keenan Robinson, LB, Texas
Adrian Robinson, DE, Temple
Mike Ryan, OT, UConn
Quentin Saulsberry, G/C, Mississippi State
JK Schaffer, LB, Cincinnati
Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cal
Mychall Sisson, LB, Colorado State
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Jacquies Smith, DE, Missouri
Bradley Sowell, OT, Ole MIss
Sean Spence, LB, Miami
Andrew Sweat, LB, Ohio State
Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington
Bruce Taylor, LB, Virginia Tech
Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Taylor Thompson, DE, SMU
Chris Thompson, C, Houston
Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky
Jabaree Tuani, DE, Navy
Courtney Upshaw, DE/LB, Alabama
Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland
William Vlachos, C, Alabama
Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
Chaz Walker, LB, Utah
Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
Brandon Washington, G, Miami 
Scott Wedige, C, Northern Illinois
Sean Westgate, LB, UCLA
Garrick Williams, LB, Texas A&M
Korey Williams, LB, Southern Miss
Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Carson York, G, Oregon
Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin 

Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 10:40 am
 

CBSSports.com All-Time Pac-10 Team

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The Pac-10 is officially no more as of today, and after 33 years, the "Conference of Champions" has given us plenty of college football moments from some of the best players to ever play the game.

To commemorate the best that have worn the Pac-10 logo since Arizona and Arizona State were added in 1978, the record books were opened and the highlight tapes were watched in order to discover just who was the creme of the crop on the West Coast.

It's no surprise to see a healthy Southern California presence on the all-time team; after all, the Trojans won more conference titles than anybody else and have churned out elite players even during downturns. The list itself is actually pretty heavy on teams that will soon form the Pac-12 South, but when you consider that 51 percent of the conference's 132 All-Americans came from one of the two Los Angeles schools, you can see why.

As with most lists, there's plenty to debate, so feel free to voice your opinions in the comments.

With out further ado, the CBSSports.com All-time All-Pac-10 teams:

Pos Player, School Comment
QB Matt Leinart, USC 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, two national titles, Pac-10's career leader in TD passes, lowest percentage of passes intercepted in Pac-10 history, Pac-10 record for touchdowns in a season
RB Marcus Allen, USC 1981 Heisman Trophy winner, College Football Hall of Famer, Pac-10 record for rushes and yards in a season
RB Charles White, USC 1979 Heisman Trophy Winner, College Football Hall of Famer, Pac-10's all-time leading rusher
WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC Pac-10 record for career touchdowns, Two time consensus All-American
WR Troy Walters, Stanford Pac-10 record for career receiving yards, 1999 Biletnikoff Award winner, Stanford and Pac-10 career record for most yards gained
TE Tony Gonzalez, Cal All-Pac-10, All-Ameican
OL Brad Budde, USC College Football Hall of Famer, 1979 Lombardi Award Winner, three-time All-American
OL Tony Boselli, USC Three-time first team All-American, 1994 Morris Trophy
OL Randall McDaniel, Arizona State College Football Hall of Famer, member of 1987 Rose Bowl team, All-American, four-year starter
OL Alex Mack, Cal Two-time Morris Trophy winner, three-time All-Pac-10, 2008 Draddy Trophy winner
OL Jonathan Ogden, UCLA 1995 Outland Trophy winner, All-American, two-time All-Pac-10
DL Tedy Bruschi, Arizona 1995 Morris Trophy winner, Pac-10 career leader in sacks (52), two-time All-American
DL Steve Emtman, Washington 1991 Outland and Lombardi Award winner, All-American, College Football Hall of Famer
DL Terrell Suggs, Arizona State 2002 Ted Hendricks, Lombardi and Nagurski Trophy winner, Pac-10 record for tackles for a loss in a season, NCAA record for sacks in a season
DL Ron Waldrop, Arizona 1993 Outland and Nagurski Award winner, two-time All-American, College Football Hall of Famer
LB Chris Claiborne, USC 1998 Butkus Award winner, All-American, two-time All-Pac-10
LB Ricky Hunley, Arizona College football Hall of Famer, two-time All-American, 31 games with more than 10 tackles
LB Vernon Maxwell, Arizona State Three-time All-American, three-time All-Pac-10, school record for most fumbles in a season
DB Chuck Cecil, Arizona College Football Hall of Famer, 1987 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, All-American, Tied conference record with four interceptions in one game
DB Kenny Easley, UCLA Four-time All-Pac-10, three-time All-American, College Football Hall of Famer
DB Ronnie Lott, USC College Football Hall of Famer, All-American, two-time All-Pac-10
DB Mike Richardson, Arizona State Two-time All-American, four-year starter
RET DeSean Jackson, Cal Pac-10 record for punt returns for touchdowns in a season (4) and career (6)
RET Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA Holds NCAA record for highest average per punt return, school record for all-purpose yardage, All-American
K John Lee, UCLA Pac-10 record for most points by kicking, Pac-10's career FG percentage leader (85%) and an NCAA record for the most games in which a FG provided the winning margin (10)
P Nick Harris, Cal Consensus All-American, Conference and NCAA record for career punts and yardage

Second team

QB: John Elway, Stanford
RB: Ken Simonton, Oregon State; Toby Gerhart, Stanford
WR: Mike Hass, Oregon State; Keyshawn Johnson, USC
TE: Marcedes Lewis, UCLA
OL: Ryan Kalil, USC; Bruce Matthews, USC; Lincoln Kennedy, Washington; Gary Zimmerman, Oregon; Kris Farris, UCLA
DL: Rien Long, Washington State; Haloti Ngata, Oregon; Sedrick Ellis, USC; Ron Holmes, Washington
LB: Ron Rivera, Cal; Junior Seau, USC; Pat Tillman, Arizona State
DB: Mark Carrier, USC; Antoine Caison, Arizona; Darryl Lewis, Arizona; Troy Polamalu, USC
RET: Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State; Chris Owusu, Stanford
K: Jason Hansen, Washington State
P: Josh Bidwell, Oregon










Posted on: February 22, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Heisman talk should talk about defense

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Pop quiz, hotshot: who had the higher (public )* vote total in the 2010 Heisman Trophy balloting, Stanford fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic or DaQuan Bowers, Nick Fairley and Patrick Peterson ... combined?

Since we're asking the question in the first place, you can probably guess that the answer is Marecic, who collected three first-place votes and 16 points, while arguably the three best defenders in the country totaled just one confirmed second-place nod and a smattering of third-place votes. This post isn't about Marecic (though we would like to take a moment to condemn his attention-seeking supporters like David Whitley , who decided that thanks to Cam Newton, they were justified turning the voting for "most outstanding" into a holier-than-thou morality play), since the question that needs answering isn't Why did Marecic get so much support? but Why do even the best defenders in college football get so little Heisman love?

It appeared things might be changing in 2009, when Ndamukong Suh finished fourth , coming as close as any defensive player since Charles Woodson to claiming the award. But after a year in which even a Lombardi Award- winner playing for the national champions couldn't get more than a few token mentions, it appears that defenders aren't actually any closer to full Heisman citizenship.

That point was driven home by the 2011 Heisman watch list released today by popular Heisman-tracking site Heisman Pundit. No one will argue that superstars like Andrew Luck or LaMichael James don't deserve their status as front-runners, or that superb skill-position talents like Alabama tailback Trent Richardson and Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon haven't earned their spots on the list. But of the 22 players mentioned by Heisman Pundit, every one is a running back, quarterback, or wide receiver. Given the Heisman's track record, yes, those are probably the 22 most likely candidates for the coming season, but shouldn't the conversation surrounding the game's "most outstanding" player at least consider those guys on the other side of the ball?

So in that spirit, we offer five defensive players that deserve to enter 2011 as part of the Heisman talk, our own defense-only "Watch List":

Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska: The senior ably filled Suh's shoes as the central anchor for one of the nation's best defenses in 2010, and will likely begin this fall bearing "the country's best defensive tackle" billing.

Mark Barron, S, Alabama: Barron's already been dotting All-American teams for two seasons, and as the highest-profile player on a loaded Tide defense that should keep Nick Saban and Co. in national title contention throughout the season, he'll have plenty of opportunity to put his name in the Heisman hat.

Tank Carder, LB, TCU: Like Barron, Carder (pictured) should benefit from being the best, most-recognized player on a defense itself widely recognized as one of the nation's best; his MVP performance in the Rose Bowl defeat of Wisconsin won't hurt him, either.

Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon: The only defender to ever win the Heisman did so not only blanketing receivers at corner, but returning punts and kickoffs for highlight reel-touchdowns; if Harris can continue doing the same for Oregon as the Ducks win a third straight Pac-12 title, he'll draw his fair share of attention.

Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: A wildcard, but if the Fighting Irish (and specifically, the Fighting Irish defense) take the quantum leap forward many expect, the former five-star recruit and budding star could find himself the media-friendly face of the Irish's latest "Return to Glory."

Honorable mention: Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State; Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma; Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall; Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College.

*The Heisman only makes official the ballot totals for the top 10 vote-getters, but the site StiffArmTrophy.com compiles all available public votes, including (in this case) those few cast for Peterson, Bowers, or Fairley.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Nick Fairley declares for draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn made a living out of defying expectations this season, but unfortunately for them, expectations have finally won out when it's come to early draft declarations. Cam Newton announced he was taking his skills to the NFL last night, and today Lombardi Award winner and national championship game defensive MVP Nick Fairley made it official: he's forgoing his senior season on the Plains to go pro as well.

Though Fairley reportedly became emotional during the announcement and thanked the "Auburn Nation" for their support, the decision couldn't have really been all that difficult. An unstoppable force on the Tiger defensive line this season and one coming off of a dominating performance in the BCS title game, Fairley is the No. 1 defensive tackle in the draft according to many and could go as high as the No. 1 overall pick. Barring some kind of catastrophe in pre-draft workouts, Fairley is a mortal lock to go in the top five; our draft gurus here at CBS have him at No. 3 and No. 4 in their current mocks , respectively.

Combine that kind of payday with the facts that Fairley is already four years out of high school (having spent two seasons, one a redshirt, at a Mississippi junior college) and has won virtually every honor there is for a defensive lineman to win on both the team and individual level, and there was really only one choice for Fairley to make. Like his teammate Newton, Fairley was more blinding supernova than enduring college star -- he started only two games and recorded just 3.5 tackles-for-loss in 2009, before blowing up for 24 this year -- but that won't keep him from being remembered at Auburn (and in college football in general) for a long, long time.

Posted on: December 9, 2010 2:19 pm
 

Nick Fairley follows coach's lead, wins Lombardi

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's one of those stories that would be edited out of a film script for being "too heavyhanded," but happened in real life Wednesday night anyway: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, playing the past two seasons under the tutelage of his school's last winner of the Lombardi Award, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, became the school's newest winner of the same award . It's not irony, but it's close enough that Alanis Morrisette would think it is.

In any case, the award's voters -- "a distinguished committee of nearly 400 of America's most prominent college football coaches, football writers, sports broadcasters and previous Rotary Lombardi Award winners and finalists," charged with selecting the nation's best lineman or linebacker -- weren't voting based on the headlines; Fairley was arguably the nation's most disruptive defensive force this season, leading the SEC in tackles for loss with 21.5 (for comparison's sake, one more than Ndamukong Suh totaled in 2009) and finishing second with 10.5 sacks. But Fairley's penchant for brutal hits on opposing quarterbacks -- a handful of which straddled the line between fair play and unnecessary roughness, and earned him something of a villain's reputation in some quarters of the conference -- meant his impact was felt even beyond his imposing statistics.

All that said, the Lombardi committee couldn't have gone wrong with the equally beastly Da'Quan Bowers, the Clemson defensive end who leads the nation in sacks and was one of three other Lombardi finalists (with the others Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn and TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick ). Bowers won the Nagurski Trophy over Fairley, setting up a kind of rubber match vote with the Bednarik Award , given to the nation's best defensive player later today.

Whether Bowers or Fairley triumphs in their little one-on-battle on the awards circuit (the Bednarik could also declare an effective tie by honoring LSU corner Patrick Peterson ), the real winner here is the NFL draft, which assuming Fairley declares, looks poised to have an outstanding class of defensive linemen on its hands this April.

Follow along with all the postseason college football honors at the CBS Sports Awards Watch .

Posted on: November 13, 2010 6:24 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:25 pm
 

TCU assistant suffers heart attack during game

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Scary stuff from Fort Worth today: during the first quarter of the San Diego State - TCU game, TCU offensive line coach Eddie Williamson suffered a heart attack, according to head coach Gary Patterson. Williamson was hospitalized, obviously, but at the very least, he's reportedly in stable condition.

Williamson is in his late 50s, and has been a member of the TCU staff since 2001. His offensive lines have been among the best in college football recently, and TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick is the only offensive lineman still in the running for the Lombardi Award.

It's hard not to immediately harken back to Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, who survived a heart attack immediately after his team's overtime victory against Notre Dame. That's scary enough. But during a game, as what happened to Williamson? It's almost unfathomable. Thank goodness Williamson is recovering, and that fans in Fort Worth didn't have to witness something truly awful.

 


 
 
 
 
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