Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 8/29/18
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The college football season is upon us, which should have fans pumped across the country. Though it will take a while to get a sense for the best 25 teams in the country, we do have our preseason top 25 entering the first full slate of games. Those teams will be relying on some key players all season. Here is a look at the most important player for each of the preseason’s top 25 teams.
1) Alabama — Tua Tagovailoa, QB
After taking over the second half of the national championship game, Tagovailoa showed what he can do. He is mobile, fearless, and has a big arm. He can give Alabama the kind of big-play ability at quarterback they haven’t seen for a while — possibly ever. He has no shortage of talent around him, much of it NFL-level, and he has already demonstrated skill and poise in the most pressure-filled situation. Expect him to have a solid year at minimum.
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Looking ahead to his program’s first game of the 2018 college football season against Louisville, Alabama head coach Nick Saban offered high praise for Cardinals quarterback Jawon Pass.
He compared Pass to former Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who’s now the franchise quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.
“I think he’s an outstanding, talented player,” Saban said, per AL.com. “Very, very good in high school. Has got great size. Very good arm talent. Very good athlete. He’s kind of a Cam Newton-looking type of guy out there and, when he had the opportunity to play last year, I thought he played very well and showed a lot of poise. They’ve got a very experienced offensive team, so I’m sure that that experience is going to help him and his confidence playing in that first game.”
That’s some heady stuff there, as it’s not like we see comparisons to Newton very often.
Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 8/27/18
The college football season is upon us, and expectations vary per team. Only a select few programs have a realistic shot of reaching the College Football Playoff. For some schools, it will be a disappointing season if they don’t achieve that goal.
There are a dozen or so teams that will really believe they have the team and the favorable climate they need to challenge for the playoff, but only four teams can actually make it in. Here are ten that will have the best chance of doing just that.
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Oct 1, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffen prior to the game against Kentucky Wildcats at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Lane Kiffin loves to troll Nick Saban and take jabs at his former boss, but this time he decided to come to the Alabama coach’s defense.
A CBS Sports poll asked coaches to identify the most overrated and underrated coaches. One coach called Saban overrated and even said that he cheats.
“If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you’d win like Nick Saban]. He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he ‘s playing. … If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he’s the best in the country. It’s like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year,” one coach said about Saban, according to the poll.
Kiffin was asked about that allegation during an interview with Colin Cowherd and tore it apart. Instead, he attributed Saban’s success in recruiting to his work ethic.
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Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 8/23/18
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It took a couple of years and a couple of transfers, but Blake Barnett is a starting college quarterback once again.
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College football is back. Like Herm Edwards back. Like Chip Kelly back. And while this first week’s slate of games is short, just four tantalizing morsels of collegiate gridiron goodness, it still marks the beginning of all that is good in the world. People like to call it “Week Zero” and say it doesn’t really count, but it does, especially to the eight teams kicking off. Just ask newly minted Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren.
Here’s everything you need to know heading into the first weekend of college football.
Duquesne at UMass – If you like offense, then this is the game for you. The Duquesne Dukes, coached by Jerry Schmitt, boast a balanced offense despite breaking in a relatively new quarterback. Like most coaches, Schmitt is being coy about naming a starter but has narrowed it down to junior Brett Brumbaugh and redshirt junior FAU transfer Daniel Parr. Running back A.J. Hines will take some of the pressure off the new QB — Hines topped 1,000 yards last season and had 10 touchdowns despite playing in just nine games. Unfortunately for the Minutemen, UMass doesn’t have a particularly strong run defense — it allowed 197.9 yards per game last season. The secondary will carry the defense, but the offense will carry the team. It is led by underrated QB Andrew Ford, who has more than 5,500 passing yards and 48 touchdowns in the last two season. But the Dukes have experience on the road and a solid offense that will test UMass’ defense up front.
Prairie View A&M at Rice – This game has “feel-good” written all over it for the Rice Owls. The program has been shrouded in optimism this offseason with the hire of former Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren. But the reality of a rebuild is that it takes time. But if anyone knows how to utilize wide receiver Aaron Cephus and his monster yardage, it’s Bloomgren. Prairie View A&M will test Rice’s offense with a defense that boasts both size and speed and gained depth this offseason thanks to the transfer well, expertly utilized by new head coach Eric Dooley. Offensively, the Panthers lost their leading rusher and top three receivers, meaning new gamers will need to emerge. Prairie View may have the juice, coming off three straight wins to end last season, but Rice is just more physical and athletic. Look for the Owls to dominate despite the inevitable growing pains.
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The college football world typically has a good understanding of Heisman Trophy contenders. Sometimes, though, an unexpected candidate emerges.
Last season, Arizona’s Khalil Tate, Central Florida’s McKenzie Milton and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor were among the breakout sensations. When the season began, nobody expected them to contend for the award.
Nevertheless, a couple of quarterbacks and running backs will always stand out. Where might they come from in 2018?
While we’d love to suggest a defensive player could surprise and shoot up Heisman lists, that’s not likely. In the last three top-10s of Heisman voting, 27 of the 30 players have been either a quarterback or running back.
The explosion of spread offenses has transformed college football in recent years. Not surprisingly, the majority of offensive attacks that figure to be the best in 2018 center their tactics around the revolutionary schematics.
Each spread team has its own unique wrinkles, although some offenses have more of a traditional, pro-style system at their foundation, with spread concepts sprinkled in.
Here is a look at the 10 best offenses that figure to light up plenty of scoreboards this coming season.
10. Washington Huskies
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