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Posts Tagged ‘Shawn Watson’

No. 35: Louisville

Charlie Strong’s not working wonders; not exactly, at least. The talent he’s brought into Louisville over the last two years might be young, but it’s certainly not lacking in ability: his most recent recruiting haul, from February, was studded with high-profile additions from Florida, where Strong has used his Gainesville ties to great effect. Regardless of the talent level, however, winning games in a B.C.S. conference, whether or not it’s the Big East, is no easy feat. The Cardinals won games last fall with a true freshman playing quarterback. With three freshmen leading the way at receiver. With two freshmen starting on the defensive line. With two freshmen starting in the secondary. So perhaps it’s not surprising to see that Louisville played its best football in October and November, a statement the team’s won-loss record backs up: 2-4 heading into mid-October, the Cardinals closed the regular season with five wins in six games. That this youth will be a year wiser come September, as well as the fact that Strong is still around — and that West Virginia is not — explains why most believe that Louisville will be the Big East’s best team in 2012.

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    Ten Themes for Saturday: Week 6

    Ten teams, themes, games and players to watch on Saturday. Pretty straightforward. Here we go:

    I’m ready to believe I think Kansas State has done enough through four games to justify a national ranking — I think so, at least. This is based largely on the last two weeks, when the Wildcats first beat Miami (Fla.) on the road and then outlasted Baylor, 36-35. The first two games weren’t impressive, no: Eastern Kentucky and Kent State. But Kansas State has done what it’s needed to do to gain some national recognition in a top-heavy Big 12 that is also dealing with some off-field issues, if you haven’t been paying attention. When will it be fine to really believe in Kansas State’s ability to be the conference’s surprise team? If you’re not yet on board, a win today over Missouri should seal the deal. The Tigers are 2-2, but it’s a solid 2-2: the losses came via road setbacks to Arizona State, in overtime, and Oklahoma. Missouri is the best team Kansas State has played, in my estimation, and a win will provide a firm illustration of how good coaching and a dedication to doing the little things wins football games.

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      Beck Will Tap Into Pelini’s I.Q.

      All eyes are upon Tim Beck, Nebraska’s first-year offensive coordinator whose overhaul — whether successful or no — will define the Cornhuskers’ 2011 season. Like the backup quarterback in Anytown, U.S.A., Beck is already the most popular guy in the program: an unknown is always better a proven commodity, especially if that commodity, like Shawn Watson, has worn out all his hard-earned goodwill. Beck will install an offense better suited to what Nebraska brings to the table, which is terrific speed at the skill positions and good size up front, while attempting to avoid the square pegs-round hole system run by his predecessor. That’s a solid start.

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        Nebraska’s Unsettling Behavior

        Staff changes have been on the horizon at Nebraska since a dreadful conclusion to a once-promising 2010 season, one that disintegrated in a haze of sloppy, penalty-filled play, a woeful offense and — most shocking and troubling of all — a lack of intensity. These changes were coming, sooner or later; if you had predicted that they would occur prior to the start of the 2011 season, I would have said sooner, not on national signing day.

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          Questions Surround Nebraska’s Watson

          Perhaps it would be best for both parties if both Nebraska and Shawn Watson parted ways, with the latter landing the open position at Miami (Ohio) and the former going in a different direction at offensive coordinator. This is a storm that has been brewing for more than a year, rocky turf whose roots lie in the vast juxtaposition seen between Nebraska’s offense and its defense during last fall’s 10-4 finish. A year ago, one could have said that the only factor preventing the Cornhuskers from reaching B.C.S. play was the uneven play seen on the offensive side of the ball; a year later, one could very well say the same thing.

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            The Homecoming Queen Jilts Vanderbilt

            As you can see below, my earlier Gus Malzahn post jumped the gun — just a little. Yesterday, one day after allegedly saying yes to Vanderbilt’s offer to becomes it next head coach, Malzahn said thanks, but no thanks. This rapid reversal of fortunes doesn’t necessarily leave the university in a lurch, though it does leave player, fans and alumni wondering what if: what if Malzahn had taken this job? Better yet, what’s — or who’s — next now that the 2010 Broyles Award winner decided to remain at Auburn?

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              Just Throwing a Few Hats in the Ring

              With all due respect to Minnesota and North Texas, the Colorado job is the most appealing opening to hit the market this season — we’ll see if it remains so enticing come December, when Colorado is sure to face stiffer competition. Not that Minnesota’s not appealing in its own way: there’s the Big Ten — and Big Ten money — a proud history and the opportunity to replace a coach the Minnesota athletic director placed on the opposite end from Vince Lombardi on the coaching spectrum. Still, while Minnesota is eying several qualified candidates, Colorado is setting its sights a little higher. So which names might be on Colorado’s hypothetical short list?

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                The Countdown

                A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.