Now that the 2011 NFL Draft has officially wrapped up, all eyes will be on the quarterback battle between No. 1 pick Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen for the Carolina Panthers starting quarterback position however that’s not all they may be fighting for.
Newton wore the number 2 jersey during his days at Auburn but it currently belongs to Clausen who said “It’s mine now” when asked about whether or not he would be willing to give up the jersey. Will the Panthers force Clausen to give up his jersey or will Newton just take jersey number 1 adding more fuel to the fire?
What does Matt Moore thinks about all this?
I understand not a lot of people actual keep up with the recruiting of high school football players but I do and on Friday the nations number 5th overall running back Savon Higgins of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey, who rushed for 1,893 yards and scored 35 touchdowns his senior season picked his hometown college Rutgers over North Carolina.
However, Higgins took on the ever look-at-me route like that of Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Clausen did when they showed up with the sunglasses and choosing to arrive in a limo. Higgins faked out everyone in attendance after putting on a North Carolina Tar Heels hat and having the crowd cheer for his decision before removing the hat and placing and making Rutgers his final choice.
National Signing Day is Wednesday and the other top recruits who have yet to commit are No. 1 Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end from South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.), No. 3 Cyrus Kouandjio, an offensive lineman from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), No. 4 Stephone Anthony, a linebacker from Anson (Wadesboro, N.C.) and No. 6 Tony Steward, a linebacker and running back from Menendez (St. Augustine, Fla.).
I’m sure St. Louis Rams fans will or have scoured the names of eligible college quarterbacks and envision them in a Rams uniform for the upcoming NFL Draft in April. However Ram fan, that’s the wrong position your organization needs to tend to with the number one overall pick, it’s time to think smart and not what would be pretty. I’m not saying the Rams don’t need to get a quarterback because they do but this draft doesn’t present itself with that clear cut number one overall guy to build a franchise around.
Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Dan LeFevour, Jimmy Clausen are great quarterbacks but with all the scrutiny that comes from being a number one overall, they are not your answer. Sam Bradford could be the exception however after shoulder surgery that leaves a huge question mark whether that’s the right move.
The answer lies on the defensive side of the ball and his name is Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle out of University of Nebraska. It’s that simple for the Rams, just continue to build on the defense since St. Louis already has brought in former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spanuolo last year to be the head coach and in 2008 selected with the number two overall pick defensive end Chris Long out of the University of Virginia. Suh will clog the middle of line and demanding double teams allowing Long or Leonard Little to be freed up. ALL-SGE-NCAA Football Team member safety Eric Berry out of Tennessee could be another option but what Suh does at the line of impact, it’s a cant miss.
So St.Louis your on the clock but don’t make the mistake that puts you right back on the clock in April 2011.
The 2009 regular season of NCAA football has ended and Sports Grind Entertainment is handing out it’s first ever All-SGE-NCAA Football Team. The 2009 All-SGE-NCAA Football Team takes in several factors and wins and losses is not one of them but such factors as on the field performance, consistency, detrimental to the team and rivalry or big game impact. Off the field issues are not even considered.
2009 ALL-SGE-NCAA FOOTBALL Team:
- Quarterback – Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame Fighting Irish: It’s easy to blame the struggles of the Fighting Irish upon Clausen but when you pass for 425 times and only throw 4 interceptions all year as well only being sack sacked 24 times, there’s not much blame that can be put on his arm. Clausen finished the season completing 289 passes for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns with a passer rating of 161.4 in a non run and shoot type offense.
- Running Back – Toby Gerhart, Stanford Cardinal: Gerhart complied the best season in all of college football for running backs with 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns although his yards per carry where just average at 5.6.
- Running Back – LaMichael James, Oregon Ducks: The freshman James served as a backup to senior LaGarretteBlount in the opening week against Boise State and only carried the ball twice. After Blount’s suspension his carries improved to nine times against Purdue and settled in on a steady dose of at least 15 there after. The freshman stepped up to average 6.9 yards per carry and 1,476 yards on only 215 carries and no fumbles. James ended the season with 14 rushing touchdowns.
- Offensive Tackle – Russell Okung, Oklahoma State Cowboys: Okung is a four year letterman that stands at 6-5 and 300 pounds. Okung has quick feet that has allowed him to have 127 knockdown blocks and 58 pancakes. In his 836 snaps he has only allowed one sack.
- Offensive Tackle – Ciron Black, Louisiana State Tigers: Black is a four year letterman that stands at 6-5 and 325 pounds. Black has started 52 consecutive games at left tackle and had over 70 knockdowns this season.
- Guard – Rodney Hudson, Florida State Seminoles: Hudson is a three year letterman and is a quick 6-2 285 pounds. Hudson did not allow a sack all season and was only penalized twice.
- Guard – Mike Iupati, Idaho Vandals: Iupati is a four year letterman and is 6-6 330 pounds. Iupati is a massive man at the guard spot however is not that light on his feet.
- Center – J.D. Walton, Baylor Bears: Walton comes in at 6-3 305 pounds and was the only bright spot for Baylor this year. Walton finished his career with 36 consecutive starts after transferring from Arizona State in 2006. He anchored an offensive line that generated 2,349 rushing yards the most at Baylor since 1981, as well as 29 rushing touchdowns.
- Tight end – Dennis Pitta, Brigham Young Cougars: Pitta entered the 2009 season as one of the best receiving tight ends in the country and his 2009 season did nothing to change that. Pitta lead all tight ends this year in receiving yards with 784 and receiving yards per game 65.33 in a pass first offense. This season Pitta became BYU’s all-time leader in total receptions and also the NCAA career leader in tight end receiving yards. In 12 games Pitta recorded 57 receptions and 7 touchdowns.
- Wide Receiver – Jordan Shipley, Texas Longhorns: Shipley didn’t catch the most touchdowns, yards or the most passes but did finish in the top 10 in all of the categories while being Colt McCoy’s bailout receiver. Shipley finished 106 catches for third in the country, 1,363 yards for fifth and 11 touchdowns tying him for eight. Shipley’s biggest reception came on the final drive to keep Texas undefeated season alive in the Big 12 Championship game against Nebraska.
- Wide Receiver – Danario Alexander, Missouri Tigers: Alexander ranked second in receptions with 107 and had 5 games of collecting double digit receptions, while still finishing with an average of 15.4 yards per catch. Alexander ranked first in the country with 1,644 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. Alexanders shinning moment came against rival Kansas when he caught 15 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown to help in the 41-39 victory.
- Kicker – Kai Forbath, California Los Angeles, Bruins: Forbath was 22 of 23 on extra points, his only miss did not have an impact on the Bruins beating San Diego State 33-14. Forbath was 26 of 29 on his field goal attempts resulting in a 89.7 percentage. His 3 misses on the year all came from distances of 50 yards (51, 52, 51) or more, 2 of the 3 came in wins. He lead the Bruins with 100 points on a team that had trouble all year to move the ball. Forbath finished 8-8 (20-29 yards), 11-11 (30-39 yards), 4-4 (40-49 yards), 3-6 (50+ yards).
- Defensive End – Brandon Graham, Michigan Wolverines: Graham led the nation in tackles for loss with 26 and recorded 10.5 sacks. He recorded 64 tackles as 42 where solo while contributing 2 pass blocks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. Graham wasn’t finished wrecking havoc on the defensive line as he blocked 2 kicks and returned 1 for a touchdown.
- Defensive End – Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Morgan finished the season with 52 tackles 37 of them where solo. Morgan ranked among the national leaders in sacks at 12.5 and 2 forced fumbles on the year. Adding to his stats that helped Georgia Tech reach the ACC Championship game was 18 tackles for a loss.
- Defensive Tackle – Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska Cornhuskers: If you have followed SGE, your well of the love affair there is for Suh. However, his performance on the field justifies his selection. Suh recorded 82 tackles and 47 of them where solo. Suh racked up 12 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss on the season. Suh finished the year with 10 block passes and 3 blocked kicks. Only to serve as a reminder was his performance in the Big 12 Championship game of 12 tackles, 10 of them solo and accumulating 4 sacks.
- Defensive Tackle – Adrian Clayborn, Iowa Hawkeyes: Clayborns performance was over shadowed all season by the infused media hype of Alabama’s Terrence Cody. Clayborn terrorized the Big Ten all season long as Cody did in the SEC but out performed Cody on an individual basis. Clayborn finished the season with 61 total tackles, 27 of them solo and 18 tackles for a loss. He gave the Hawkeyes 9 sacks, 2 pass deflections and forcing 4 fumbles while blocking 1 kick in comparison to Cody’s 25 tackles, 11 of them for solo and 0 sacks.
- Linebacker – Rolando McClain, Alabama Crimson Tide: McClain was all over the field this year for Alabama creating 101 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 pass deflections and forcing 1 fumble while leading the nations number 2 defense. His performance against in state rival Auburn was his shinning moment of the season has he did everything to insure a Bama’s perfect season.
- Linebacker – Greg Jones, Michigan State Spartans: Jones was third in the country in tackles with a 140. Jones reached double-figure tackles 8 times this season while also sacking opposing quarterbacks 9 times.
- Linebacker – Eric Norwood, South Carolina Gamecocks: Norwood had 71 tackles on the season and 11.5 that where for a loss as well as having 7 sacks on the season. His sack and tackle for a loss totals pushed him to become the all-time leader for South Carolina in both categories. Norwood leads the team with 2 interceptions and 3 blocked kicks. He also finished the year with 3 pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
- Cornerback – Javier Arenas, Alabama Crimson Tide: Arenas recorded 65 tackles, 42 of them solo. Arenas made himself very acquainted with quarterbacks sack them 5 times and intercepting them 3 times. He made his presence felt all over the field in a 12-10 nail biting win against Tennessee with 13 tackles and 1 sack. Arenas even pulls double duty on special team recording more than a 1,000 return yards this season and has scoring 1 touchdown.
- Cornerback – Joe Haden, Florida Gators: Haden recorded 57 tackles, 45 of them solo while no playing in the game against Georgia. Haden had his best game against South Carolina when he recorded 10 tackles, 9 of them solo, and pulling down 1 interception plus sacking the quarterback once ion 24-14 win. He finished the year with 3 sacks and 4 interceptions while deflection 8 passes.
- Safety – Eric Berry, Tennessee Volunteers: Berry is one of the hardest hitting defensive players in the country. He finished his season 83 tackles including 6 for lost yardage and deflected 9 passes while pulling down 2 interceptions and recovering 2 fumbles.
- Safety – Earl Thomas, Texas Longhorns: Thomas is one of college football true rising stars, outside of Ndamukong Suh he could have had the best college football season. Thomas recorded 57 tackles, 1 sack and 10 pass deflections in his sophomore year. He also grabbed 8 interceptions while taking 2 of them back for touchdowns, one for 92 yards in a win against Colorado. Thomas registered better games but came up big with an interception to stop Oklahoma in the fourth quarter of their final possession to preserve a 16-13 win.
- Punter – Matt Reagan, Memphis Tigers: Reagan ranked third nationally in averaging 45.5 yards per punt but also pulled double duty as the teams place kicker. His average was 3.3 yards behind Georgia’s Drew Butler and only 0.3 East Carolina’s Matt Dodge. Reagan punted on an average of 5 times a game for an actual total of 63 times and for 2,868 yards, again pulling double duty as the teams kicker.
- All-Purpose – C.J. Spiller, Clemson Tigers: Spiller was the most exciting football player in 2009, having his hands in every facet of the offensive side of the ball. He rushed 201 times for 1,145 yards and 11 touchdowns as well catching the ball 33 times for 445 yards and 4 touchdowns. Spiller was also the return man on kickoffs and punts, returning 21 times for 708 yards and 4 touchdowns on kickoffs with a long of 96 yards. His returns 13 punts for a total of 210 yards and 1 touchdown with a long of 77 yards. Spiller had a dominating performance in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech with 233 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.
- Head Coach – June Jones, Southern Methodist Mustangs: This was by far the hardest decisions, either to go with a coach that hadn’t lost like Gary Patterson, Brian Kelly, Mack Brown, Nick Saban or Chris Peterson or to a coach that turned around a program like Al Golden, Danny Pearman, Randy Shannon or Jones. Jones came to a program that had back to back 1-11 seasons to finish 7-6 and lead the Mustangs to their first bowl, Hawaii Bowl, since 1984. The program lives infamy of its two-year death penalty in 1987-88 but since then the 1997 team is the only one to finish above .500, 6-5, until this year. Jones had the Mustangs finish 6-2 in Conference USA and within one game of playing in the championship game.
The University of Akron has named Notre Dame assistant Rob Ianello its new head football coach. The University of Akron’s 26th head football coach but just the sixth since 1960.
Ianello, 44, who was promoted to assistant head coach at Notre Dame for the 2009 season, had been a member of Notre Dame’s coaching staff since 2005. Ianello help lead Notre Dame’s offensive staff meetings and retained his role as wide receivers coach. In a year under his helm the Irish featured one of the nation’s best quarterback-wide receiver tandems. Signal caller Jimmy Clausen ranked second in the country in pass efficiency completing 289-of-425 passes and throwing for 3,722 yards 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
Ianello also helped coordinated four-straight top 15 recruiting classes. As the recruiting coordinator for the Irish, he directed three consecutive top 10 recruiting classes from 2006-08, something only three other schools (USC, Florida and Georgia) could claim. He is also the only coach named one of the 25-best recruiters in the country each of the last five years by Rivals.com. In the book “The Second Season” by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, Ianello is named one of the top 10 recruiters of the last 30 years. Also in 1999, he was named one of the top 10 recruiters in the nation by ESPN.com and one of the top six recruiters nationally by Sporting News when he was an assitant at the University of Arizona.
He coached at Wisconsin for two years prior to joining Notre Dame and helped lead the Badgers to the 2003 Music City Bowl and 2005 Outback Bowl. While there, Ianello helped develop Owen Daniels from a recruited quarterback into a tight end. Daniels is now one of the top receiving tight ends in the NFL.
The Zips needed a replacement for J.D. Brookhart, who was fired. The Zips were just 3-9 this season, the worst in Brookhart’s six years at the helm. He posted a record of 30-42 at Akron.
A bitterly disappointing regular season comes to a close for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who will take on a tough Stanford team in non-conference action.
Notre Dame has completely fallen apart, as a promising 4-1 start has turned into a 6-5 record. The last three outings have resulted in losses of five points or less, including last weekend’s 33-30 overtime setback to UConn. Head coach Charlie Weis has been the topic of much conversation among fans and analysts, as it is the opinion of most that he will be coaching his last regular season game for the Irish this weekend.
As for Stanford, its Rose Bowl dreams were crushed last weekend with a 34-28 loss to rival Cal in the “Big Game”. That defeat halted a three-game win streak for the Cardinal, which is now 7-4 overall and 6-3 in Pac-10 play. All four losses this season have come by 10 points or less for Jim Harbaugh’s team.
The Notre Dame offense was held in check in regulation by UConn last weekend, as the Fighting Irish posted 20 points. Jimmy Clausen completed 30-of-45 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, another stellar performance by the Notre Dame signal caller. Golden Tate made nine catches for 123 yards and one touchdowns, while Michael Floyd finished with eight grabs for 104 yards and a score. Armando Allen spearheaded the ground attack with 106 yards. Overall this season, Clausen has thrown for 3,382 yards and 23 touchdowns with only four interceptions, tremendous numbers for one of the nation’s truly elite quarterbacks. Tate has made 83 catches for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Floyd has 38 catches for 710 yards and seven scores in the six games he has played. Notre Dame is averaging 29 ppg and 452.2 total ypg.
Notre Dame is allowed 24 ppg this season, and the defense is permitting 388.8 total ypg. Of the 30 touchdowns that have been surrendered to opposing offenses, 16 have come through the air. The Fighting Irish are giving up 4.6 yards per rushing attempt and 13.7 yards per pass completion, Kyle McCarthy leads the team with 90 total tackles, and he has intercepted five passes.
Stanford tailback Toby Gerhart is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy as he has rushed for 1,531 yards and 23 touchdowns while averaging 5.3 yards per carry, and his consistency from week to week has been most impressive. Gerhart has certainly helped freshman quarterback Andrew Luck succeed under center connecting on 55.2 percent of his passes for 2,377 yards and 13 touchdowns with only four interceptions, and he has rushed for 319 yards and two touchdowns as well. The top receiver on the roster is Ryan Whalen, who has recorded 48 grabs for 786 yards and three touchdowns. Stanford is averaging 35 ppg and 436.5 total ypg, tremendous numbers by any standards. Gerhart was outstanding against Cal last week, as he recorded 136 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries. Luck, unfortunately, was dreadful, completing only 10-of-30 passes with an interception.
Opponents are posting 25 ppg and 391.9 total ypg against a Stanford defense that has been mediocre at best. The Cardinal have permitted 18 rushing touchdowns and 15 scores through the air. Thomas Kaiser has 13 tackles for loss to his credit, including 8 sacks.
Notre Dame has won the last seven meetings with Stanford and owns a 16-7 advantage in the all-time series.
PICK: Stanford University Cardinal
Jimmy Clausen recently got “cold cocked” or “sucker punched” depending on what source your listening to and Sports Grind Entertainment is no different. We each have our own opinion on what went down that left the University of Notre Dame quarterback with a black eye.
But you can’t show up at practice looking like LaDainian Tomlinson because of it, even if your the only bright light coming out of Notre Dame for the next couple of years.
Notre Dame’s spot in the Top 25 is gone after a surprising loss, and with that likely went its hopes of a trip to a BCS game. Boasting its highest ranking in 20 years, Pittsburgh’s chances of representing the Big East in a major bowl game are growing stronger by the week.
The Panthers final two games will determine if they’re conference championship material, but they won’t be looking past it’s showdown with the Fighting Irish, who visit Heinz Field hoping to avoid an eighth straight loss to a top-10 opponent.
Pitt (8-1) is off to its best start since Dan Marino’s senior season in 1982, which was also the last time the program was ranked in the top 10 this late in the season.
Dave Wannstedt Panthers haven’t been ranked this high since being No. 7 on Oct. 24, 1989, but they also haven’t really been tested. Pitt has won its five conference games by an average of 17.8 points, piling up 481 yards last Saturday in a 37-10 rout of Syracuse.
Pitt visits rival West Virginia and hosts Cincinnati in its final two games, and the contest against the Bearcats could be a de facto Big East championship and BCS elimination game.
The Fighting Irish (6-3) likely lost their chance at grabbing a BCS bid after a stunning 23-21 home loss to Navy last Saturday dropped them from the rankings. The Panthers’ players, though, are hardly treating it as a tune-up.
Dion Lewis has been arguably the biggest reason for the Panthers’ resurgence. LeSean McCoy declared for the NFL draft after his sophomore season, leaving Pitt with a big hole in the backfield, but it hasn’t missed a beat with Lewis. The 5-foot-8 freshman is seventh nationally with 126.6 rushing yards per game and needs 190 yards to surpass McCoy’s Big East freshman record of 1,328.
Notre Dame will certainly need to do a better job stopping Lewis than it did against the Midshipmen, who gained 6.1 yards per carry in racking up 348 on the ground. That, plus three Irish turnovers, allowed Navy to control the clock and overcome a career-high 452 yards passing from Jimmy Clausen.
The biggest difference in Clausen this season has been his efficiency. Michael Floyd (124.8) and Golden Tate (117.7) rank third and fourth, respectively, in the nation in receiving yards per game, and Clausen has continued to find them without turning the ball over. He’s thrown three interceptions in 308 attempts after throwing 17 in 440 as a sophomore.
Both Floyd and Tate had 100 yards receiving against Pitt last season in South Bend, part of a 271-yard, three-touchdown day for Clausen. That wasn’t enough for a win, though, as the Panthers overcame three interceptions to win 36-33 in four overtimes.
Clausen will have his hands full Saturday against a Pitt defense that’s first in the nation with 39 sacks, led by junior end Greg Romeus’ 7 1/2.
Notre Dame’s defense ranks 88th against the pass (237.4), and this season Bill Stull seems much more prepared. Stull missed the game against the Irish last season with a concussion, and threw nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his other 12 contests as a junior. He was the Big East’s fifth-highest rated passer (119.9).
This season, Stull is fifth nationally in pass efficiency (161.6). He’s been sacked eight times after going down 25 times last season and has thrown 17 touchdowns – nine to Dorin Dickerson – and four interceptions.
Pitt has lost both games against Notre Dame at Heinz Field, falling 42-21 in the last matchup Sept. 3, 2005 – Charlie Weis’ first game on the sidelines for the Irish and Wannstedt’s coaching debut with his alma mater.
PICK: University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis team will try to inch closer to a possible BCS bowl bid when it faces lowly Washington State at the Alamodome here in San Antonio. Notre Dame’s last six games were decided by a touchdown or less, having earned its fourth win in that stretch by beating Boston College 20-16 at home.
The Irish (5-2) needed Jimmy Clausen’s go-ahead 36-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate, then a pair of interceptions in the closing minutes to seal the victory. Their previous three victories over Michigan State, Purdue and Washington were all decided by late go-ahead touchdowns, but Notre Dame came up short on a late goal-to-go situation in a 34-27 loss to Southern California on Oct. 17.
They’d certainly be disappointed with anything but a lopsided win over Washington State, which is 3-17 since the beginning of last season. The Cougars’ porous defense has allowed an average of 41.5 points in that stretch.
Washington State gave up three first-quarter touchdown passes to California’s Kevin Riley in last Saturday’s 49-17 loss, meaning Clausen should have plenty of opportunities this week. The junior is one of 13 players nationally with more than 2,000 passing yards, and he has thrown 16 touchdown passes including eight to Tate compared to two interceptions.
The bigger concern for the Irish is a defense that has allowed more than 400 yards per game. BC had 349, but Notre Dame forced five turnovers and held its opponent under 20 points for the first time since a season-opening 35-0 win over Nevada.
The emerging presence of freshman linebacker Manti Te’o has helped and has averaged a team-best nine tackles since his first start three games ago.
Washington State (1-6) may help with Notre Dame’s defensive issues. With an average of 72.6 rushing yards, the Cougars’ ground game ranks 116th out of 120 Bowl Subdivision teams.
The last two weeks, Washington State coach Paul Wulff Cougars have combined for one rushing yard, although freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel had his best statistical game of the season against Cal, going 28 for 42 for 354 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
The Cougars continued to have problems with protection, however, as Tuel was sacked five times. They gave up 12 sacks in a 27-14 home loss to Arizona State on Oct. 10.
The Irish, who are 14-0 all-time on Halloween, beat Washington State 29-26 in overtime at Notre Dame Stadium in the teams’ only previous meeting Sept. 6, 2003.
PICK: University of Notre Dame