Archive for August, 2007

Nevada Preview: The Cliff’s Notes Version

August 31, 2007

Ed. Note – Nothing like waiting until the last minute. One thing that will suffer this year, due to increased schedule demands will be my opponent previews. Hopefully they will still be of interest.

Head Coach: Chris Ault in his 23rd year (non-consecutively) with the Wolfpack. Division IA career record 47-25.

Last Season: The Wolfpack finished 8-5 including a strong showing in the MPC Computers Bowl falling to Miami (FL) 21-20.

This Season: Most expect Nevada’s fortunes to return to more average levels. They return just 12 starters (5 offense and 7 defense) from last year’s squad. The 2006 team also benefitted from a +12 turnover margin which is unlikely to be repeated. In addition, the Wolfpack must replace 2nd Team All-WAC QB Jeff Rowe who threw for 2,925 yards a year ago.

On Offense:

Nevada runs the “Pistol Offense”.

What it is – a hybrid of the shotgun where the quarterback lines up a few steps behind the center. It allows for two-back and single-back sets, typically with four receivers.

What it isn’t – A Mike Leach-ian or run-n-shoot high octane offensive attack.

The Wolfpack offense is a patient, deliberate, efficient, run-based attack. The pistol offense allows for a north/south running game, while also giving the passing game the advantages of the shotgun. We can expect Nevada to run the ball up the middle, but attempt to keep the Blackshirts honest with a fair number of bootlegs and play-action passes. A prototypical Wolfpack drive will include a balanced mix of running and passing plays that burn time and keep the defense guessing. Sound familiar?

Just how efficient was Nevada’s pistol offense in 2006? The Wolfpack finished 10th nationally in the Scoreability Index . In other words, they scored one touchdown for every 71 yards of offense they generated. For comparison, Nebraska scored one touchdown for every 81 yards of offense the Huskers generated a year ago.

Quarterback: Nick Graziano will look to replace Jeff Rowe. Graziano is just a sophomore, but came to Nevada has a highly thought of recruit. Graziano should show off his tremendous arm, and decent mobility. He figures to have a ton of upside in Nevada’s offense. While he has the ability to make all of the throws the offense requires, there is some worry he may rely on his arm too much and could force throws that aren’t really there.

Running Back: Gone is Robert Hubbard who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. In his place expect to see Luke Lippincott or Brandon Fragger. During one stretch a year ago, Lippencott (6-2, 215) rushed for 359 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Pack to three straight wins by a combined score of 135-28. He’s a power back, but does have some speed in the open field. Fragger looks like the team’s future star. He’s a sophomore with a good burst through the line. He finished 2006 with 270 yards and three TDs.

Wide Receiver: Three names to watch at the WR position are Marko Mitchell, Mike McCoy and Arthur King. Mitchell is 6-4, 195 pounds, and has good speed for his size. His best attribute is his hands and he catches everything that’s close to him. He was second on the team with 39 catches for 493 yards and four TDs last year. McCoy is listed as a backup but is the team’s big-play target. He averaged 15 yards per catch and scored nine touchdowns on just 23 receptions. King has decent size and speed and should benefit from last season’s experience.

Offensive Line: The line could be the Wolfpack’s Achilles Heel this week. They will be without starting center and Rimington Trophy candidate Dominic Green who broke a bone in his foot. His backup then went all Latrell Spreewell getting into an altercation with a coach. That means Josh Catapano will have the unenviable task of matching up with Ndamukong Suh. You’ll also want to watch Catapano as he’ll be counted on to make 60+ snaps from the shotgun formation. The Wolfpack have two returning starters up front in senior Charles Manu (6-3, 300) and junior Greg Hall (6-3, 290).

On Defense:

Nevada has some new defensive coaches, but will retain its 3-4 defensive alignment. A year ago the Wolfpack defensive forced an incredible 37 turnovers. That helped the team field the 22nd most efficient defense in country as measured by the Bendability Index. Opponents needed to generate an average of 102 yards to score the equivalent of one TD on the Wolfpack a year ago. In comparison, the Blackshirts forced opponents to march 109 yards to score the equivalent of a single TD last season.

Defensive Line: The starters up front are expected to be Mundrae Clifton, Matt Hines and Erics Clark. The 285-pound Hines is the best of the front three with terrific moves and the potential to grow into a star interior pass rusher. The 6-6, 270-pound Clark was expected to be a good pass rusher as last year went on, but it didn’t happen with just 2.5 sacks and 19 tackles. Even so, he’s a good lineman with the big body needed to stop things up. Clifton is big, strong, and quick and seems to have all of the measurables. The coaching staff is now just waiting for his talent to show up in games.

Linebackers: The linebackers are expected to be the strength of the Wolfpack defense. Unfortunately, the will not be at full strength against the Huskers. Ezra Butler, considered the star of the defense, has been suspended for Saturday’s game in Lincoln by Nevada coach Chris Ault for a violation of team policy. Butler was an All-WAC selection and Butkus Award candidate who recorded 17.5 of his 71 tackles behind the line of scrimmage last season. In his absence, Jeremy Engstrom (6-1, 247) and junior Joshua Mauga (6-2, 245) seasoned will be looking to step up in Butler’s absence.

Secondary: Heading into the season, the weak link on the Wolfpack defense is at cornerback. De’Angelo Wilson was kicked off the team, leaving a hole at corner. Senior Devon Walker was getting prepared to go into the season as a number two, but now finds himself a starter after making 18 tackles and breaking up two passes in 2006. On the other side will be junior Paul Pratt. Pratt was beat deep several times a year ago, but was still coming off a serious knee injury. If his speed fully returns, he is probably their best cover man. Sophomore Jonathan Amaya returns at free safety after being one last season’s surprises. The former walk-on made 42 tackles and also recorded an interception. Uche Anyanwu is being counted on at strong safety. He’s huge at 6-4, 220 pounds, but inexperienced. Nebraska fans should expect a big play or two against the Wolfpack secondary.

Random Notes

Nevada and Important Stats (2006):

Scoring Defense: 32nd – 19.2 ppg
Third Down Efficiency: 28th – 42.7%
Total Offense: 46th – 357.54 yds/game
Scoring Offense: 20th – 30.08 ppg.
Pass Efficiency Defense: 47th – 121.29
Rush Defense: 52nd – 128.5 yds/game
Total Defense: 48th – 325.46 yds/game
Yds./Pass Attempt: 57th – 7.12 yds/Att.
Passing Efficiency: 36th – 138.21
Third Down Efficiency Defense: 43rd – 35.7%

Six Degrees of Beano Cook: Nevada beat Colorado State. Colorado State beat Colorado. Colorado beat Texas Tech. Texas Tech beat Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State beat Nebraska.

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Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That…

August 31, 2007

The irrepressible Boi from Troy has finally released his long awaited Tops’ 25: College Football’s Hottest Men. Nebraska fans will find their Midwestern values shaken by the inclusion of Sam Keller at #13.

Boi had this to say:

13. Sam Keller, University of Nebraska at Lincoln: Formerly an Arizona State Sun Devil, Keller will try to make a Pac Ten imprint on the Big XII that is something other than an “L” on the standings.

Hi-Oh!!!

Right behind Keller on the list is Iowa’s Adam Shada, a Millard North graduate who escaped to the dismal side of the river.

Changing the Tunnel Walk and a list of college football’s most gay-licious mens in the same week? Stop this world, Walt and Ethel in Section 34 of Memorial Stadium most definitely want to get off.

Oddsmakers Top 25

August 31, 2007

I touched on this last year, but I still think it’s developers makess more sense as a group of pollsters than any other that exist in college football. With that said, I give you the Las Vegas Sports Consultants Oddsmakers’ Top 25 (or 30). Remember the poll is actually a composite of the oddsmakers’ expert rankings, which are used to formulate the firm’s recommended lines. In other words, No. 14 on this list would be favored on a neutral field against No. 15. Which is the way it should be. So here is the poll with AP rank in parentheses.

1. Southern Cal (1)
2. LSU (2)
3. Texas (4)
4. Louisville (10)
5. Oklahoma (8)
6. Florida (6)
7. California (12)
8. West Virginia (3)
9. UCLA (14)
10. Wisconsin (7)
11. Michigan (5)
12. Ohio State (11)
13. Virginia Tech (9)
14. Nebraska (20)
15. Miami (31)
16. South Carolina (30)
17. Georgia Tech (27)
18. Penn State (17)
19. Arkansas (21)
20. Florida State (19)
21. Texas Christian (22)
22. Oregon (29)
23. Missouri (26)
24. Rutgers (16)
25. Hawaii (23)
26. Tennessee (15)
27. Georgia (13)
28. Arizona State (36)
29. Texas A&M (25)
30. Oklahoma State (42)

Unranked by Vegas: Auburn (18th in AP), Boise State (24th).

(via CFR)

Husker Fans Can Help With New CFB Project and Book

August 31, 2007

I was recently contacted by Andrew Reed who is cruising across America on the longest touchdown drive of his life and looking for help with a new college football book. Reed is taking an in-depth and hands on journey into the world of college football. He will travel all fall to some of the biggest and most historic games on this season’s slate – including USC at Nebraska.

Reed is currently looking for the ultimate Nebraska fans to help him better understand Husker Nation. According to his website:

“I will include the history of each of the schools, particularly as it relates to the fan base and their traditions. A key insight will be the breakdown of fans that know the history and further, how important it is to them. Finally, I will also assess the future of the college football fan. Certainly, there are the aforementioned forces working either for or against them, but their attitudes will go a long way to shape the future of the sport.”

If you think you can help with the Nebraska portion of Andrew’s journey head to his website for more details or contact him at:

anreed_at_gmail_dot_com (remove the underscores and replace “at” with @ and “dot” with . )

If you really want a sense of the scope of Andrew’s project, check out his travel and game schedule for the fall:

9/1 – Georgia Tech @ Notre Dame
9/3 – Florida State @ Clemson (Monday game)
9/8 – Virginia Tech @ LSU
9/15 – USC @ Nebraska
9/22 – Iowa @ Wisconsin
9/29 – USC @ Washington
10/6 – Texas vs Oklahoma @ Dallas
10/13 – Guilford College @ Bridgewater College (Div III)
10/18 – South Florida @ Rutgers (Thursday game)
10/20 – Princeton @ Harvard
10/27 – Florida vs Georgia @ Jacksonville
11/3 – Wisconsin @ Ohio State
11/10 – Arkansas @ Tennessee
11/17 – Ohio State @ Michigan
11/23 – Texas @ Texas A+M; or 11/24 – Alabama @ Auburn
12/1 – UCLA @ USC

Sammy Vegas and Timmy Rose: Take the Double Extra Points

August 30, 2007

“The smarter you play, the luckier you’ll be”

Super Duper Gang!!! We’re Back!!!


We are super duper happy to be back again this year on DXP to try again to take down Vegas. For all of the new followers here, what we do is research the hell out of college football lines and then feed you our expert picks with plenty of stats and numbers to satisfy all gambling aficionados. Oh, and occasionally, we might throw a picture of some smokin’ hot ladies up here and there. And it’s all FREE!!!

Before we get started here, I wanted to remind you all about the DXP pick ‘em contest. Oh, and by the way, we have great prizes for the top 5 – which includes gift certificates and this great bobble head doll of the greatest mascot on earth.


Click here to join. If that link fails, simply Go to ESPN.com and click on Fantasy at the top. Then select College Pick’em. You’ll then be asked to either create an account or logon to your existing ESPN Fantasy account. Once you’ve done that you’ll want to join our group which is Double Extra Point and the password is Huskers.

Now, I’m no mathematical Wunderkind like Dr. D, but I think going 19-10 to end the year means loyal DXP readers like you can pay up those bar bills by strictly adhering to the free advice that comes from future gambling legends Sammy Vegas and Timmy Rose.

SAMMY VEGAS

PENN STATE (-38) over Florida International: FIU was 0 for 12 last year. This year they have the luxury of breaking in a new QB (and head coach) in front of 105,000 people in Happy Valley to start the season. Penn State is on everyone’s radar to compete for the Big 10 championship, and QB Anthony Morelli will have his breakout year that Nittany Lion fans have been waiting for. Penn State will boast one of the nation’s top defenses this year with former top recruit CB Justin King. Look for Penn State to roll harder than Dr. D in the streets of Manhattan.

KANSAS (-7.7) over Central Michigan: Coach “ManGyro” leads a Jayhawk team that might surprise some Big 12 foes this year with a stout defense lead by CB Aqib Talib (Playboy All-American). Do you know that only ONE rusher has put up over 100 yards in the last two years against them? The CMU Chippewas have mustered up 2 wins in their last 22 non-conference road games. Mangino is 12-5 ATS at home with SE Louisiana lingering on deck and he should be able to eat his way through a porous CMU defense.

NEBRASKA (-21) over Nevada: Since Callahan laid an egg against S. Miss at home several years ago, the Huskers have won all 6 non-conference home games by an average of almost 32 points per game. Last year, Nevada lost to a Sam Keller-less Arizona State team 52-21. Well, this year Keller gets his shot. I think that between the Blackshirts and our tailgating Blackouts, we should have no trouble containing Nevada’s first year starting quarterback.

Florida State (-3) over CLEMSON: Believe it or not, this is the already the 9th Bowden Bowl. Wow. Another Wow is that Tommy has beaten Bobby 3 of the last 4 years. While Clemson only returns 12 starters and will start a perennial back-up at QB, FSU brings almost everybody back including QB Drew Weatherford, RB Antone Smith, and WR Greg Carr. FSU beat UCLA 44-27 in a bowl to cap a great finish while Clemson lost their last 4 of 5 and gave up over 22 pts/per game. Probably this biggest factor here is going to be FSU new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who Bowden hired from LSU.

TEXAS (-39) over Arkansas State: Two great statistics here: Texas has won their first game the last 7 years by an avg. of 52-5 and Arkansas State has lost 16 away road games by an avg. of 42-13. Texas lost absolutely no one and will have a healthy Colt McCoy who had them, as a freshman, in the BCS championship hunt until his neck injury against Kansas State. Expect big plays from RB Jamaal Charles and their WRs who put up big numbers last year as the Longhorns put this away by halftime.

MICHIGAN STATE (-21) over UAB: UAB returns a whopping 8 starters and replaces their entire coaching staff. MSU has avg. 44 points per game the last 2 years in their non-conference games. UAB defense ranks #115 in most experts’ minds and that is not good. MSU QB Brandon Hoyer had his first career start the last game of the year last at Penn State and had 61, yeah 61, pass attempts. Only T. Rose averages more attempts on a Saturday – however, that is at the Arizona State student union.

TIMMY ROSE


ARIZONA STATE (-15) over San Jose St – This game will mark the beginning of the Dennis Erickson era in Tempe and has the unusual distinction of being a revenge game for the coach as he lost his final game with Idaho to Coach Tomey and the Spartans last November. Coach Erickson knows this opponent well and he will not overlook a team that returns 15 starters from last year’s New Mexico Bowl winning squad. The Sun Devils have the size advantage on both lines and will be determined to get RB Ryan Torrain going early. That will open things up for QB Rudy Carpenter and a talented group of WRs. It will get ugly in the desert as Coach Erickson rolls to his first win with ASU. While I’ll be in the 19th row on the 50-yard line at Sun Devil Stadium for this one, I will be lucky to catch more than five actual plays of the game as the scantily clad student section will be to my immediate left. I’ll take pictures for the loyal DXP readers.

USC (-46) over Idaho – Let’s stay in the Pac-10 and make this one short and sweet. New coach, freshman QB, new WRs, TE, LG, and LT vs one of the best defenses in the past 10 years with potentially 8, yes 8, future first and second round draft picks. I would take USC’s defense to outscore Idaho by at least 14. The Vandals will be lucky to score once and USC’s third-stringers are better than any team in WAC.

AUBURN(-13 ½) over Kansas State – This is the first time in 6 years that K-State has had the balls to travel to a BCS school for a non-conference game. Tell Coach Prince that this might be a step up from Marshall and Illinois State (who KSU rolled by 1 point in last year’s opener). This will be the toughest environment that QB Freeman has had to play in and not even an above average defense will be able to save the Mildcats from making this a close game. If you want to double up on this game, take the UNDER (46) and give Sammy Vegas 20% of the winnings.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (-2 ½ ) over Middle Tennessee State – Following Sun Belt Conference football action is what truly separates the men from the boys in the gambling world. For those of you who’ve even heard of these two schools, you will remember that MTSU beat FAU last year with the help of defensive and special teams TDs. FAU has 18 starters back and will be one of the most improved teams in the league. They also have Captain Kangaroo as their coach, which makes this pick tough even though it’s been over 23 years since I cried after the ’84 Orange Bowl.

OREGON (-15) over Houston – Like Jeffie Husker, I call for Oregon to be the most underrated team in the Pac-10. Even though the Ducks finished 2007 with 4 straight losses, they have 7 starters back on both offense and defense. QBs Dixon and Leaf and RBs Stewart and Johnson return to form a good nucleus on offense and their defense sets up perfectly (Top 20 pass D each of last 4 years) for the visiting Cougars. Even though I’m partial to the Houston mascot, I think Oregon wins convincingly and will be the sleeper in a deep Pac-10.

STANFORD (+17) over UCLA – Yes, they have a new coach and yes, they are hands down the least talented team in the Pac-10. However, I read a stat 4 years ago in Phil Steele’s College Football Preview that has stuck with me like the “I thought the Rocky Mountains would be a little rockier than this” quote from Dumb and Dumber. Always play on a home dog in a season opener if they have more than 16 starters returning in a revenge game. Evidently this formula generates winners more than 70% of the time. And seriously, how can you not go with advice given by the prognosticating legend Phil Steele?

Final Preseason BlogPoll Ballot

August 29, 2007

Ok, I’ve pondered and I’ve reflected and I paid particular attention to the arguments at MGoBlog. The result was a ton of movement despite the fact that nary a game was played. Woohoo preseason prognistication. Anyway here it is:

Rank Team Delta
1 Southern Cal
2 LSU
3 Michigan
4 West Virginia
5 Oklahoma 4
6 Louisville
7 Texas 2
8 Virginia Tech 1
9 Florida 1
10 Ohio State
11 Florida State 3
12 Penn State 1
13 Wisconsin 2
14 Oregon 7
15 South Carolina 1
16 Hawaii 1
17 Arkansas 9
18 Texas A&M
19 Missouri 2
20 Georgia 8
21 California 4
22 TCU 3
23 Nebraska 1
24 Tennessee 1
25 Alabama 5

Dropped Out: UCLA (#24).

Depth Chart Commentary

August 28, 2007

Huskers.com released the depth chart for the Nevada game this morning.

Some comments:

Cody Glenn is apparently officially out. That means Quentin Castille is the 2nd string RB and Roy Helu is at #3. Both should get their share of carries on Saturday.

Even without Purify, the wide receiver depth is obvious.

The offensive line looks great on paper. It is exciting to see the way recruiting has reshaped the pipeline.

Defensively the biggest surprise is Armando Murillo starting over Andre Jones at LCB. So much for Jones’ experience at that spot. But I’m excited to see what Murillo can do.

Barfield and Dixon both listed as 2nd stringers. Expect them to see a lot of snaps. Again immediate impact from the most recent recruiting class.

Adi Kunalic is listed as the place kicker. He’ll get a chance to show off that supposed cannon leg.

Looks like Andre Jones will be returning some kicks. Could be exciting to see him with the ball in his hands.

In other words, not a whole lot of surprises, but it is nice to see the team laid out for us on paper.

Nebraska the Football Factory?

August 28, 2007

Football Outsiders one of the better football analysis sites recently compiled a fairly comprehensive look at which college football programs perennially produce the most NFL talent. You see these types of pieces yearly, but this one relied on an actual, and interesting methodology, rather than anecdotal evidence and author opinions.

Points were awarded for the following criteria:

1) Each school earns points for each player drafted. The number of points is based on the round the player was drafted in:
1st round: 3.5 points
2nd round: 3.0 points
3rd round: 2.5 points
4th round: 2.0 points
5th round: 1.5 points
6th round: 1.0 point
7th round: 0.5 points

2) Schools get 10 points for each NFL starter.

3) Schools get 15 points for producing a player who has made it to the Pro Bowl. They get a 5-point bonus for any player with three or more Pro Bowls.

4) Schools get 5 points for each NFL player with a career of 5 or more seasons.

5) Finally, schools get 1 point for each player on an NFL roster.

Not a perfect analysis, but clearly better than most.

As for the results, here is the Top 10

1. Miami
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
4. Georgia
5. Michigan
6. Tennessee
7. Florida
8. LSU
9. Texas
10. Nebraska

And here is what they had to say about the Huskers:

Nebraska has been a collegiate powerhouse throughout history, making a bowl game every year since 1969. Eons of talent have traveled through Lincoln on their way to successful NFL careers. Though Nebraska now is not as dominant as they were in the ‘90s, they still produce a very good crop of NFL talent on a yearly basis. Headlining the solid list is running back Ahman Green, who’s on the downside of his career, but had four or five brilliant years in the early 2000s. Other contributing Nebraska alums are Richie Incognito, Cory Schlesinger, Scott Shanle, Correll Buckhalter, Josh Bullocks, Demorrio Williams, Kyle Larson, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Mike, Josh and Kris Brown. Though none of the players stand out as perennial bests at their respective positions, each is a more than capable pro. They’ve been highly effective throughout their careers.

Draft pick points: 68
Starter points: 170
Pro Bowl players: 3 for 50 points
Experience points: 80
Player points: 42
Total: 410

Just something to tide you until Saturday.

Random Husker Thoughts

August 27, 2007

A Few Things I’m Pondering on Game Week

· Why are the photo galleries on Huskers.com so awful? All that money for facilities and we have some guy with a camera phone taking nine pictures a day for the official athletic site?

· Speaking of facilities, if Steve Pederson is still having trouble paying the bills, he could always sell advertising on Ndamukong Suh’s arms.


· Is it possible that Jim Rose actually has the best blog in Husker Nation? I really think he might.

· I recently witnessed a discussion on a Husker message board about the relative “fitness” of the USC players based on a practice photo gallery. It was totally the male version of “did you see that skirt Heather was wearing? What a skank!”

· I decided against heading back to Lincoln for the USC game. As much as I’d love to be there – I have a personal three game losing streak in games I’ve attended in person (Texas ’03, Southern Miss. ’04, Texas ’06). But as superstitious as I might be, I’ll be on suicide watch if we pull the upset in my absentia.

· This is the time of the year when everyone is arguing over which freshman will have the biggest impact? The more interesting question is which freshman will the fans turn again first for failing to live up to Rivals-induced expectations?

· The early betting line is out and Vegas has set the over/under on Callahan’s jaw-unhinging, facial tic for the Nevada game at 70. Let’s see we averaged 69 plays a game a year ago and at least one tic per playcall, facing an overmatched Nevada team. So, yeah I’m all in for the overs.

· At North Carolina State Harrison Beck is fighting hard for the starting job. Judging from this picture he’s also developed a close relationship with his Wolfpack teammates.

NFL ‘N’sider: A Dancing Pork Chop

August 24, 2007

Check it out. This is Cory Ross. This is Jazzercise. This is unbelievable. A friend of a friend of mine shot this footage and posted it on YouTube (so don’t think I was googling Cory + Ross + Jazzercise). That’s not my bag. But if I’m Cory, I’m really hoping Ray Lewis doesn’t see this.