Tony DeMeo

2011 College Football Preview

This week is the start of the 2011 College football season. The season is starting a week later than normal because of the new NCAA ruling. Why this decision was made is hard to understand. My belief is that this move is another example of college presidents who want to have football teams for revenue & enrollment while paying as little as possible. By starting a week later the camp is shorter and the expense is significantly reduced.

This season has many interesting teams to follow. I am looking forward to seeing the offensive developments in the world of college football. The following are some teams to take a look at:

  1. Oregon – Chip Kelly has a great offensive mind and has some great players to execute his offense. Darron Thomas pulls the trigger on the most explosive “O” in the game and LaMichael James may be the best TB in the land. Their big showdown will be vs. Stanford and Andrew Luck. But Chip’s Shotgun Option “O” is one to watch. Kelly will run multiple options & mid-lines while still having an outstanding pass game. Toss in the Hi-Speed pace & you’ve got a great package.
  2. Air Force- I always enjoy Troy Calhoun’s potent Option Offense. Calhoun has done a great job of combining the Gun Option with the traditional under center option. This combo gives the opposing defenses a lot to prepare for in three days. Calhoun has one of the best option QBs in the land to run the show in Tim Jefferson. Navy is a big game for the Falcons.
  3. Florida State- Jimbo Fisher has brought the ‘Noles back to power. E.J. Manuel is a top flight QB and the FSU Offense really came on in 2010. Ricky Trickett is an unsung hero in this tale. Trick is one of the best O.Line coaches in the business and holds the key to the FSU machine.
  4. Georgia Tech – Paul Johnson is arguably the best option coach in the business but has a big challenge ahead. Johnson must have a higher level of performance at the QB spot. Tevin Washington must step up or out. If Washington doesn’t get the job done, Paul may have to go with a Frosh. I also look for Johnson to throw the ball more frequently to avoid 9 man fronts.
  5. Nebraska – Bo Pelini really has things rolling in Nebraska. The Huskers play GREAT defense so they are always in the game. Taylor Martinez is an outstanding running QB and will develop into a more efficient passer. The advantage of a great defense is that you never have to score a lot to win. The Huskers play Wisconsin & Ohio State on successive weekends and therein lies tale.
  6. Navy – Coach Ken has done a great job building on Paul Johnson’s success with the Midshipmen. He has established himself as an outstanding option coach in his own right. His biggest challenge will be to replace Ricky Dobbs at QB. The key to an option attack is the trigger – you can have all the pieces but without the QB it will be a long year. Air Force will be a huge test for Coach Ken’s Middies.
  7. Army – The Black Knights have made great progress under Rich Ellerson. But until they beat Navy the turnaround won’t be complete. Ellerson has brought in his own version of the option and got Army into a bowl in only his second year.
  8. Nevada – Chris Ault’s Pistol Offense has been on target ever since its inception. It has elements of the option, but it is a downhill power offense at its core. Ault also gets huge plays from the play action pass. But make no mistake The Pistol is not some gimmicky offense; it is rooted in sound hard-nosed fundamentals. On September 10th they go against Oregon, and this will be a benchmark game for The Wolfpack.
  9. Ohio U. – Always a big frank Solich fan. His offense is always evolving and is incorporating some of Chris Ault’s Pistol Offense. The big game for The Bobcats is vs Temple.

There are some coaches taking over programs that will really make things interesting:

  1. UCONN- Paul Pasqualoni takes over the UCONN program with his old sidekick George DeLeone. This spells trouble for Rutgers and Syracuse because these guys owned New Jersey and New York recruiting when they were at Syracuse.
  2. West Virginia – Dana Holgorsen is the new coach for the Mountaineers in an unbelievable soap opera worthy of an episode on “Jersey Shore”. Holgorsen will open things up with a great bunch of skilled athletes, but he better not underestimate his gunfight with Doc Holliday’s Marshall Outfit. A key game.
  3. Minnesota – There is no better football coach in the country than Jerry Kill. A bold statement but one everyone will agree with after he gets things rolling in Minnesota. Kill is a fundamentalist who has risen through the ranks by teaching the fundamentals of the game. Don’t expect a lot of flash & dash – just a very well coached football team.
  4. Vanderbilt – The Commodores have a new guy calling the shots – former Maryland OC James Franklin. Franklin is one of the best recruiters in college football and will give Vandy a chance to be competitive in the SEC. He’ll need a couple of good classes, but look for the Commodores to make some noise in the SEC.

Some other teams worth noting for 2011:

  1. Mississippi State – Dan Mullen did a miraculous job for the Bulldogs. After 2 solid seasons culminating with a thrashing of the Michigan Wolverines, Mullen has got Bulldog fans excited. Mullen’s innovative offense gives MSU a chance against powerful SEC defenses. Mullen controls the ball, limits possessions and is in every game. Chris Relf pulls the trigger on “O” & at 6’4” & 240 he’s a load to tackle.
  2. Wyoming – Two seasons ago Dave Christensen had an unbelievable turnaround year at Wyoming. Another innovator on offense, look for the Cowboys to bounce back into a bowl game in 2011.
  3. Notre Dame – Brian Kelly has ND on the fast track back to the football elite. They have made great strides in a short period of time. This should come as no surprise; Kelly did it at Grand Valley, Central Michigan, and Cincy prior to coming to south Bend. The Irish have a favorable schedule for a big year.

There are many other great teams to watch. I always enjoy watching Nick Saban’s Defense and, of course, you have to love JoPa & the Lions of PSU. But college football is a treasure and must be kept safe from the outside forces that try to corrupt it.

I also would like high school coaches to report in with their score in the High School section of the Forum. I know Bob Bridge’s squad from Indiana had an impressive win in their opener. Bob said the Gun Triple was their big weapon in rushing for 313 yards in their 35-12 win. So please report your results – we are all interested.

College guys report your results in the College Football section of the Forum.

Also if anyone wants to suggest a team to watch, use that College Football Forum.

Good Luck to all and go have a great season.