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Tag:Phil Steele
Posted on: January 30, 2012 2:42 pm
 

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For all their explosive Mathieuan brilliance, LSU failed to finish the 2011 season ranked No. 1. But Phil Steele does have a small bit of good news for the Tigers: the numbers guru says that's where LSU will start the 2012 season.

For the fourth straight offseason, the preview magazine maven has projected the preseason AP top 10 based on returning starters, bowl performance, and other factors. Despite their BCS championship game pratfall, Steele expects the Tigers to open 2012 as the AP No. 1, one slot ahead of much-hyped USC.

Steele's assessment:

Last year LSU was picked 2nd in the SEC West behind Alabama and would go on to have arguably the best regular season in school history going 13-0 winning the SEC Championship and would beat EIGHT Top 25 teams! While the National Title loss to Alabama still stings, many of the Tigers’ star players return for 2012 including Heisman candidate DB Tyrann Mathieu along with their top 3 rec’s and their top 4 rushers. Throw in QB Zach Mettenberger who Miles said last year was his best pure passing QB and a home game vs Alabama and the Tigers will be the favorites to win the National Title! 

Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma round out the projected top five, with Nos. 6-10 going to Georgia, Michigan, Florida State, Arkansas and West Virginia, respectively.

Based on Steele's track record, Les Miles should go ahead and start preparing his team to wear that familiar top-ranked bullseye, at least for its opening week matchup against North Texas. All three teams pegged by Steele to earn the AP's preseason No. 1 nod have gone to do so, including Oklahoma last year. Steele has also correctly predicted 9 of 10 teams all three years of the exercise and 13 of 15 total teams in the top five. 

Which means it's not just Miles that can go ahead and start worrying about managing expectations--assuming Steele is correct (or even close to it), the Bulldogs, Wolverines and Mountaineers will all be graced with a substantially higher preseason ranking than any of those programs has faced in years. And though that's not always a recipe for disaster (look at what Oklahoma State accomplished this past season), an appearance in Steele's projected top 10 proved to be a terrible omen for other supposed up-and-comers like 2009 Ole Miss, 2010 Iowa and 2011 Texas A&M.

So we're guessing Mark Richt, Brady Hoke and Dana Holgorsen -- not to mention Jimbo Fisher and his perennially overrated Seminoles -- are all hoping that this once, Steele isn't quite as accurate as he's promised to be.

Steele also recently released a comprehensive look at the entire FBS's projected returning starters for 2012; you can read the Eye on CFB's breakdown of those numbers here.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 2:31 pm
 

A first look at 2012's returning starters

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's never, ever too early to talk about the next college football season once the previous one has passed. But it's a lot less too early once the deadline for NFL Draft declarations has passed and teams can enjoy an accurate -- or at least semi-accurate -- gauge of what their returning talent will look like next season.

Thanks to data-cruncher Phil Steele, we can enjoy that same semi-accurate gauge. As he does every January -- among the teams predicted for big things at this time last year were Michigan, Alabama and Vanderbilt -- Steele has released a comprehensive list of FBS returning starters for 2012, ranking each team 1-123. Yes, 123, thanks to the arrivals of UT-San Antonio, Texas State and UMass; Larry Coker's UTSA Roadrunners even top the list with 23 total returning starters (11 offensive, 10 defensive, and both specialists) as they ready for their first WAC season.

But of course, UTSA has its work cut out for it to make an impact, no matter how experienced its players might be. Among programs college football fans are more familiar with, here's the numbers and teams from Steele's data that stand out:

  • Sharing the lead amongst all BCS programs are Texas Tech and Tennessee with 20 starters each, including quarterbacks Seth Doege and Tyler Bray, respectively. If Red Raider and Volunteer third-year coaches Tommy Tuberville and Derek Dooley can't turn that kind of experience into a better year 3 than their collective Year 2's, neither one should be surprised if they don't receive a Year 4.
  • Never say never with Chris Petersen still around, but this looks like the season Boise State's incredible run of dominance and top-10 finishes comes to a halt. The Broncos rank dead-last, rock-bottom, with just 6 starters coming back--3 offensive 2 defensive, and (infamous) kicker Dan Goodale. (Then again, in the newly TCU-less Mountain West, will anyone stop them regardless? The league leader in returning starters is Colorado State, with no other MWC program ranked higher than Fresno State at 29th.)
  • It's possible Badger fans will rue their back-to-back failures at the Rose Bowl even more than they do already; with just 10 returning starters, Wisconsin ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten and 116th overall. Big Ten fans should instead gear up now for an even-more-critical Ohio State-Michigan game than usual; the Buckeyes are second in the league behind Indiana with 18 starters, and the Wolverines are tied with Nebraska for third with 16.
  • The Vols, Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt top the SEC list -- with 18 starters or more, all rank among the nation's 19 most experienced teams -- which means the league could see a more topsy-turvy season than usual; despite their cavalcade of young talent LSU returns just 5 defensive starters, national champions Alabama just 4. Despite major losses on the offensive line, Georgia looks poised to field the conference's best defense, with nine starters coming back for a unit already ranked fifth in the FBS.
  • Why is USC getting so much early preseason love? Pretty simple: of the 10 teams listed in Bruce Feldman's early-bird top 10, the Trojans are one of just two to have as many as 17 returning starters. The other is Oklahoma, and since the Sooners finished the year getting chewed up and spit out by Oklahoma State while the Trojans were busy upsetting Oregon in Eugene and annihilating UCLA, it's not hard to see why voters might go for the former.
  • Poor Al Golden: not only is his Miami team still laboring under the weight of the Nevin Shapiro allegations, not only do they rank 96th nationally and tie for next-to-last in the ACC with 12 returning starters, but according to Steele's data the Hurricanes are -- amazingly -- the only ACC team to not return its starting quarterback for next season. 
  • Gus Malzahn is going to be one of the FBS's most closely watched mid-major head coaches after his move from Auburn, and with six returning starters including QB Ryan Aplin on offense, the Red Wolves should be fine on that side of the ball. But with just three starters back on defense, ASU ranks 116th overall and last in the Sun Belt in total starters returning. Opposite Malzahn's punishing up-tempo attack, we'd like to place an early wager on the Red Wolves as one the nation's statistically weakest D's in 2012 ... and on Malzahn needing at least two years to return ASU to last year's championship perch.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Music City Bowl Key Matchup

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A look at the key matchup that could decide the Music City Bowl. 



Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks vs. Wake Forest WR Chris Givens.

As we pointed out in our Keys to the Game for the Music City Bowl, the Demon Deacons don't have much to hang their hat on from a statistical perspective; they rank in the bottom half of the FBS in scoring, rush and total offense and as well as rush, pass, total and scoring defense. They aren't even particularly good on special teams, where Phil Steele's ratings place them 71st despite a 16-of-20 performance from placekicker Jimmy Newman.

But there is one thing Wake does well, and at times has done spectacularly: get the ball from quarterback Tanner Price to wide receiver Chris Givens. The two have hooked up 74 times this season for 1,276 yards and 9 touchdowns, earning the 6'0" junior from Texas first-team All-ACC honors. The most remarkable thing about Givens' 2011 performance was its consistency; he caught at least four passes in all 12 games (though never more than eight) and hauled in at least one touchdown in eight (though never more than two). As Givens' overall production went, though, so went the Deacons. In the eight games in which he finished with 80 receiving yards or more, Wake went 6-2; in the four in which he didn't (all of which came in the final five games of the season), they went 0-4.

Here's the bad news for Givens, and the Deacons: much like season finale opponent Vanderbilt and Casey Hayward -- who held Givens to four quiet receptions for 69 yards and no TDs -- Mississippi State has a lockdown corner to throw at Wake's best (and arguably only) offensive weapon. Junior Johnthan Banks isn't a household name and didn't even make the coaches' first- or second-team All-SEC thanks to the glut of premier corners in the conference, but Banks was the No. 1 reason why State finished 23rd nationally in pass defense and 11th in opponent's yards-per-pass attempt. Both rugged and quick, Banks has the skills to keep Givens every bit as quiet as the Commodores did.

But that doesn't mean he'll actually do it, not when Givens has the kind of talent he does and a veteran quarterback in Price who knows how to get him the ball. If Givens can't get the better of Banks, though, it shapes up as a difficult evening for the Deacons.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview

Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Duron Carter cleared to play for Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Better late than never, right?

That's no doubt what Alabama supporters are believing this afternoon as multiple outlets are reporting that JUCO transfer receiver Duron Carter has finally been cleared to join the No. 2 Crimson Tide. Carter tweeted earlier Monday that he had gotten the final go-ahead, and though Nick Saban declined to confirm that at his midday press conference, Carter is expected to be at practice Monday. UPDATE: And he is. It's officially official.

As we've written before: though the addition of one JUCO transfer might not usually be so key a development on a roster as stacked as Alabama's, Carter happens to play the position -- outside, deep-threat wide receiver -- where the Tide appear to be most lacking. That he arrives with a year of seasoning at Ohio State (the alma mater of his NFL-legend father Cris Carter) and another at Coffeyville (Kan.) C.C. has only helped fuel the fire of expectations surrounding his arrival; no less an authority than Phil Steele proclaimed him a second-team All-SEC player as soon as this season.

After missing nearly all of fall camp with academic issues, Carter's splash likely won't be as immediate as first expected, and it's possible there's too much ground for him to make up to make any major headway in 2011. But considering that the Tide might be one more contributor at receiver away from regaining their place at the top of college football, his clearance is a major positive for Saban and Co. all the same.

More from Alabama: The Tide have rolled out their first depth chart of the season, and CBSSports.com RapidReporter Jim Dunaway has the details here, here, and here. There's two notable surprises, too, one of them being that five-star true freshman Cyrus Kouandjio is already listed as a co-starter at left tackle, along with CBSSports.com All-American Barrett Jones. Jones is also listed as a co-starter at left guard with Chance Warmack--meaning that ultimately, the Tide coaches haven't decided if their best unit is one with Jones at tackle and Warmack at guard, or Kouandjio at tackle and Jones at guard. As with the quarterback position -- as expected, A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims are listed as co-starters -- expect the Tide to look at both groupings against Kent State and make a decision before the Penn State visit in Week 2.

The other mild surprise is that new JUCO arrival Jesse Williams has beaten out holdover Ed Stinson and fellow JUCO Quinton Dial for one starting end position. A native of Australia, Williams was one of the class of 2011's highest-rated junior college prospects.



Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 2:41 pm
 

WR Duron Carter still not practicing at Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Typically, when you've got a roster like Alabama's -- which is to hoarded talent what a bomb shelter is to canned food -- the transcript issues of a single JUCO transfer aren't that big a deal.

But in the particular case of the Tide's 2011 receiving corps and former Coffeyville C.C.-by-way-of-Ohio State wideout Duron Carter, those issues may prove to be a very big deal indeed. Despite expectations that the transcript snafu would be resolved (and he would be approved for practice) shortly after the start of fall camp, Carter is still nowhere to be seen as he waits for academic clearance.

"We still don't know," Nick Saban said Tuesday regarding Carter's status. "Until we get the information back on Duron Carter, which I haven't heard anything on compliance (Tuesday), we do have a few more days to be able to get this done."

Carter is the the son of NFL receiving legend Cris Carter (who more than one wag has observed has been at Tide practice more than Duron has), and still boasts the kind of talent that made him a top-15 receiver in his 2009 class. (He's pictured at right in the 2009 Under Armour All-American game.) If Carter and Alabama can "get this done" before the start of the season, there's still plenty of time to make the kind of immediate impact many Tide fans expect. (It's not just the Crimson faithful carrying high expectations, either; Phil Steele named Carter preseason second-team All-SEC.)

But the longer Carter's absence drags out, the less and less likely that immediate impact becomes. Not only does it look more and more possible the issue could swallow his 2011 season whole, but as a first-year player in Tuscaloosa, Carter needed every minute of practice time he could get. Even if the opener against Kent State gives him some leeway before the Tide's schedule really gets going, Carter projects to be so far behind the curve it may be weeks before he's ready to become a full-on contributor.

Again: at any other position, this likely wouldn't be an issue. But after Julio Jones's early departure for the NFL, the receiving corps is the one area where the Tide could use some immediate help. Seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks were both productive last season, combining for 70 receptions and better than 1,000 yards, but neither represented the kind of vertical home-run threat that Jones was or that many expect Carter to be. (It doesn't help, either, that top tight end Preston Dial has graduated, leaving behind no TE with more than eight receptions to his name a year ago.)

With Maze and Hanks around (not to mention redshirt freshman DeAndrew White, whose praises Saban has suprisingly sung throughout camp), the Tide receiving unit is still going to be well above average, Carter or no Carter. But with a first-year starter under center that may need all the help from those receivers he can get, making another national title run could require something better than simply "above average."

And that, in turn, may require Carter.



Posted on: August 1, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Which school has the best homefield advantage?



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Every summer many college football fan's anticipate the release of Phil Steele's annual preview magazine as much as they do the college football season itself. If you're unfamiliar with Phil Steele, he's a man that enjoys doing three things: watching college football, doing math and writing about college football and the math he's done. It was these three hobbies of Steele's that helped him figure out which school has the best homefield advantage in the country.

Using a number of different factors including stadium capacity, attendance and home records, Steele was able to determine which schools have the biggest edge at their place, and it turns out that three schools are tied atop the rankings. None of which will come as that big of a surprise.

According to Steele, the three teams with the best homefield advantage in the country are Oklahoma, Oregon and Boise State. Those schools are followed by Ohio State and Virginia Tech to round out the top five. Eastern Michigan can lay claim to the worst homefield advantage in the country.

Now, while Steele's formula for figuring all of this out -- you can read all about it and see the entire list of rankings here -- is solid, I do have a small problem with it. He breaks every category down into a rating between 0 and 6. Which leads to a lot of ties in the final rankings. Personally, if I were going to do something similar, I would break the ratings down from 0 to 10. I'm sure there would be some ties, but not nearly as many as Steele currently has.

Though don't expect me to sit down and do it myself. I don't hate math, but I'm not looking to spend all of my time with it either. 
Posted on: June 2, 2011 9:49 am
 

Podcast: Ohio State, Preseason Top 25s

Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst react to the latest news out of Ohio State and the Sports Illustrated story that blasts the program. What is Jim Tressel's legacy? Who else should be held responsible at Ohio State? Plus, we take a sneak peak at Phil Steele's Top 25.


Listen now:
Posted on: May 20, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 5/20

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.

THE FOUR LINKS ...


1. Most of the spring buzz out of Ole Miss regarding the quarterback position hds centered on the dramatic improvement of former JUCO transfer Randall Mackey, but West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti came on late in camp and according to many observers outplayed Mackey in the Rebels' spring game. Result? Houston Nutt saying this week that "if we had to play tonight," Brunetti would be the starter.

Nonetheless, expect this to be a battle that lasts well into fall practice.

2. Yes, there's still more updates out there on the mad, mad, mad mad world of Harvey Updyke, even following this week's fresh indictments. For one, if you remember the alleged assault on Updyke that took place after his initial court appearance, it's looking more "alleged" than ever. Local police told The War Eagle Reader that there is "absolutely nothing for us to pursue" in terms of evidence and that the case would be closed soon.

If the country district attorney has his way, Updyke will be unable to reiterate his claims with another Paul Finebaum appearance; the DA has also requested a gag order on the case.

3. Unless you're a particularly devoted fan of Phil Steele's preseason college football magazine, the release of the magazine's nine regional covers isn't something you'd, I don't know, plan your lunch break around. But we wanted to mention it all the same, just to note our love for the annual Armed Forces cover:



If you'll excuse me, I need to go find some redcoats or Communists to punch out.

4. Andrew Luck will enter 2011 as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy (and the overwhelming one to nab the top spot in the 2012 NFL Draft), but as this study from TeamSpeedKills shows, it's a little early to start engraving his name on anything just yet; quarterbacks with QB ratings as stratospherically high as Luck's typically regress to a merely outstanding mean in their final seasons. Luck's hardly a typical quarterback, but especially without Jim Harbaugh at the offensive reins, it's something to consider.

AND THE CLOUD ...

As it had suggested previously, the SEC is officially not interested in moving any games to Sundays ... BYU is reportedly in high demand as an opponent thanks to their independence-created flexibility, but we're waiting to actually see a couple of scheduling announcements before giving them too much credit ... Purdue will be joining the throng of teams with new Nike duds to debut this season, but we don't have any images to show you yet ... An Auburn auction to sell off Cam Newton's game-worn BCS championship pants has been won by the Internet ... Nine-game Big Ten schedules are still a long, long ways off ... Two professional recruitniks are sniping at each other over the rankings of Alabama players ... and though you may have seen this already, former Kentucky quarterback/SEC folk hero Jared Lorenzen has resurfaced at quarterback for an indoor football team named the Cincinnati River Monsters. You'll be happy to know the Lefty remains as Hefty as ever.




 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com