Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walker Sports College Football Big East Preview

With less than 40 days to the kickoff of college football season, the crunch is on to get the first look at how your favorite college football is looking for the 2010 season. Today we turn our attention back to the East Coast, and we are talking about the Big East. On the whole it is most likely this will be a down year for the conference. With Brian Kelly gone, from Cincinnati, and the talent pool as shallow as it's been this century for West Virginia, we could be looking at a rough year the Big East.

Pittsburgh Panthers: It's time for Dave Wannstedt to produce. Sure the Panthers went 10-3 last season, and finished 17th in the BCS poll, but Wannstedt came to Pittsburgh to win a National Championship, and no time is better than the present. It's a down year on the whole for Big East, and all of those great recruiting classes (best in the Big East 4 of the last 5 years) have come of age, and now they must produce. The Panthers will have their hands full this season with non-conference games that include Utah, Miami and Notre Dame, if they can handle that schedule the Big East will be a cake walk.

Record 10-2 Key Games: Miami, Rutgers, at UConn

West Virginia Mountaineers: Once again the Mountaineers find themselves having to break in a new quarterback. Geno Smith is a sophomore, who is ready to take the reigns of what was once a high powered offense, although those days seem like decades ago to most West Virginia fans. Most likely the spark on offense will be provided by senior running back Noel Devine who has seemingly been wearing a Mountaineer uniform since 2000. If he can stay healthy for the whole season, it may be enough to keep West Virginia alive, and viable in the hunt for a Big East Title.

Record: 8-4 Key Games:South Florida at UConn, at Pittsburgh

Connecticut Huskies: 2010 is the year the Huskies break away from the shadow of their FBS days and prove they are a true Bowl Championship Division Power. Coach Randy Edsall has made UConn a legit team in the Big East over the past few years, and his 2010 squad is bigger, faster, stronger than any one he's had to date. It would not surprise me at all to see the Huskies knock off a one or more of the big boys in the Big East, and they even have an outside chance of winning the conference.

Record: 8-4 Key Games: West Virginia, Pittsburgh

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: It's hard to believe that the prospect of a 6 or 7 win season is a disappointment for the Scarlet Knights, but that's exactly the situation coach Greg Schiano finds himself in. Rutgers has made five consecutive bowl games, and if things go according to plan, they should be making their sixth consecutive bowl. However, that may not prove to be enough for the Rutgers faithful who have become accustomed to winning, but not winning it all. The Scarlet Knights are a bit young, with 62 of their 85 scholarship having three years of eligibility left. However, Schiano will not use youth and inexperience as an excuse. He is ready to win now just as much as his fans are.

Record: 7-5 Key Games: at South Florida, at Cincinnati

Cincinnati Bearcats:

South Florida Bulls:

Louisville Cardinals:

Syracuse Orange:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best Goal Celebration Ever

The World Cup may be over, but there is still plenty of soccer being played. Check out what is being called the greatest goal celebration ever, by some and I may have to agree.

Big 12 South Preview

Last time we got together, we talked Big 12 football, and we focused on the Big 12 North. Today, we shift our focus to the powerhouse of the conference, the Big 12 South. While, I don't expect the same results we saw in 2008 with three national title contenders emerging from this division there are still some great teams, and a few of them will be eying a trip to the National Championship game.

Texas Longhorns: Gone is the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. Colt McCoy is off to play for the Cleveland Browns, and the Longhorns begin the 2010 season with a new man under the center for the first time since Vince Young left after the 2005 season. However, before leaving Austin, Mr. McCoy left a bit of a parting gift even if he did not mean to. When McCoy was knocked out in the opening series of last year's National Championship game against Alabama it opened the door for then freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert to prove to Mack Brown and Longhorn nation that he has the tools to be the next great Longhorn. Despite losing the game, Gilbert proved how tough he is. Texas was down early, and Gilbert looked shaky in the first half, but he was able to work through that and put together an impressive performance. At one point Gilbert tossed a touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley that brought Texas to within 3 points in the fourth quarter. The bottom line is Garrett Gilbert can play, and he is surrounded by some great weapons in the backfield, that will help him adjust to the Big 12 lifestyle.

On the defensive side of the ball coordinator Will Muschamp is one of the best in the country when it comes to putting together a unit. The Longhorns defense always seems to perform at a national championship caliber level, and the 2010 season will prove to be the exact same. The biggest key to the 2010 season will be finding leadership and replacing former standouts Lamarr Houston and Kindle.

Despite losing some key players to the NFL, Mack Brown's bunch still have plenty of talent that's ready to take the field and step up. The key to the Longhorns season come sin the month long stretch beginning on September 18, when Texas makes the road trip to Texas Tech, followed by a home game with UCLA, and then the Red River Shootout, and a trip to Lincoln to take on Nebraska. If Texas can emerge through that unscathed we could be looking at a special season in Austin.

Record:10-2 Key Games: Oklahoma, at Nebraska

Oklahoma Sooners: The 2009 season was a complete disaster for the Oklahoma Sooners. Injuries destroyed any hope Oklahoma had of having a successful season. Now, all those players who stepped in last year must learn from the experience they gained last year, and put it towards a big 2010 season.

Landry Jones stepped in last season to replace Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford when he went down with a shoulder injury. In his freshman season Johnson proved to be an adequate quarterback, but not an elite one. This year he is expected to make the next step, after all this is Oklahoma, and back to back 8 win seasons is simply unacceptable. Playing in front of Johnson is a reworked offensive line that lost a top five NFL draft pick. This will make running the ball very difficult. Despite all the gaudy passing numbers we have become accustomed to in Norman, the Sooners are at their best when they an run the ball with authority. If the offensive line can find some consistency then the Sooners will have a shot of regaining their top spot in the Big 12.

On a side note, kudos to the Sooners AD for putting together such a difficult schedule. The Big 12, is always tough but throw in a few wild card programs in during the non-conference schedule, and you have the makings for one exciting seasons. With games against a rebuilding Florida State, and Cincinnati, the Oklahoma will have to find their stride early if they want to keep pace on the national scene.

Record: 9-3, Key Games: Florida State, Texas, at Texas A&M
Texas A&M Aggies: There's a lot to be excited about in College Station, the Aggies are a high powered team, that could take the Big 12 by storm in 2010. Senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson is returning, and from all indications he is the best quarterback in the Big 12. Last year, the Aggies ranked fifth nationally in offense, and they are bringing virtually everyone back. You can expect this squad to light up scoreboards all season long.

The key to the Texas A&M season will be the defense. For what it's worth, the Aggies defense is a solid unit, they just are barn burners. In 2010 they just need to hold serve, and contain opposing teams. The A&M offense is good enough to score points in heaps, if the defense can hold opponents under 20 points a game, the there could be a lot to celebrate in Aggie country.
Record: 8-4, Key Games: Oklahoma, Nebraska, at Texas

Texas Tech Red Raiders: There's a new head man calling the shots in Lubbock Texas, and there could be an imediate impact on the field for the Red Raiders. On the offensive side of the ball Texas Tech will continue to pitch the ball around the field. Mike Leech created the most prolific passing offense college football has ever seen, and while it will be dialed in a bit in 2010 you can expect to see a lot of passes this season. Steven Sheffield managed to spark the Red Raiders offense last season when he was on the field. The problem is, Sheffield struggles to stay healthy, and thus remain on the field. With Tuberville heading things up, its likely Sheffield will take more snaps under center than he has in the past, and that could reduce the number of hits he takes.

In the past the Texas Tech defense has been a joke. In 2008, they had some talent and the Red Raiders made their best run. Last season, the defensive unit fell back to earth, that means they were undisciplined and missed plenty of assignments. That has to, and it will change in 2010. While Tommy Tubervile has struggled when dealing with his team's offenses, but when it comes to defense he can be something special. Tubervile's Auburn teams always ranked high in the SEC when it came to defense, and while the Red Raiders won't jump to the top of the Big 12 just yet, they will be much improved.

Record 8-4 Key Games: Oklahoma State, at Texas A&M, at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State Cowboys: Mike Gundy is one of my favorite coaches in the country, and this year he will earn his paycheck if he can get Oklahoma State to a 9 or 10 win season, however that will not be an easy task. Over the past two seasons the Cowboys went 18-8 but that was with Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant two of the best players in Oklahoma State history. 2010 is a rebuilding year for the Cowboys and it will be a test of Mike Gundy's coaching ability. If the Cowboys are able to to get to an 8 or perhaps a 9 win season it will show that Mike Gundy has built a program and not just a team. It will also keep the Cowboys from falling into the depths of the Big 12.

While Oklahoma State will struggle with a good chunk of their 2010 schedule, their weak non-conference schedule will give them plenty of opportunities to pick up some easy wins, and become bowl eligible.
Record 7-5 Key Games: at Texas Tech, Nebraska

Baylor Bears: The Bears may have gained their biggest win before the 2010 season started. This happen when Texas turned down overtures from the Pac 10 and the Big 12 remained intact. If the Big 12 dissolved as many of us thought it would Baylor would have been one of the programs that was left twisting in the wind without a home, or any suitors.

In regards to X's and O's there's not a lot to talk about. The bright spot has to be Robert Griffin III who is returning after tearing his ACL in 2009. For those who remember Griffen was an 2008 All American when he accounted for 2,394 yards and 28 touchdowns. While it is still unclear if he lost any of that mobility due to the surgery. If Griffin can return to form, then Baylor has the opportunity to break their 16 year non bowl appearance drought.

Helping Baylor along the way is their improved schedule. Last year, the Bears were hurt by playing bowl busters Wake Forest and UConn. This year, Baylor has a schedule that is more to their speed, which should help them to pick up a few extra wins.

Record: 5-7,Key Games: Buffalo, at Colorado

Monday, July 26, 2010

Helio Castroneves Throws a Temper Tantrum

It's not often we talk Indy Car here on Walker Sports, but what happened this weekend up in Canada has to be mentioned. Helio Castroneves found himself being called out by Indy officials, after he was accused of a blocking penalty. However, what happened next was worth note. After being warned to slow down, Castroneves waved off the Indy officials and raced to the finish and took first place, or so he thought. Because he failed to listen to the radio tower the race officials stripped Helio Castroneves of the victory. Needless to say, Castroneves was not happy with this, and he let his feelings be heard.

Be sure to catch what happens around the 4 minute mark.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Daily Erin Andrews: Girls of the Pac 10

It's been a fun trip, but sadly we are coming to the end of our journey across the country. Today we are hanging out on the left coast. Pac 10 country, where the sun shines, and the entire focus of the college football world has shifted to. However, while we do love a good crosstown rivalry in L.A., we are here to tailgate.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big 12 North Preview

It's hard to believe but college football teams will be reporting to training camps around the country in just a few short days. As a result, here at Walker Sports, we are taking some time to look around the NCAA and do some college football previews. Today we are looking at the Big 12 North. While the Big 12 has been a hot bed for talent, the majority of that talent has been centered in the Big 12 South. While the big boys may still reside in Texas and Oklahoma, there appears to be some emerging powers in the North who are ready to contend for the crown.

Nebraska Cornhuskers: Head coach Bo Pelini has a lot of faith in his Cornhuskers, and he has every reason to be. Sure Nebraska lost the best player to suit up for them in over a decade, but the coffers are full of talent, and they have a coach who can motivate just about anyone to come out and play.

On the offensive side of the ball, Nebraska brings everyone back into the fold. They have a 1,000 yard rusher in Roy Helu Jr, and behind him is sophomore Rex Burkhead. Combined the two create a dynamic duo that can give opposing defenses fits. Bo Pelini is also returning his senior quarterback Zac Lee who was of the most effective quarterbacks in the Big 12 last season. For what it's worth, the Cornhuskers had talent all over the offensive side of the ball last year, but they still only ranked 75th nationally. Nebraska struggles to put points on the board.

Despite the inadequacies on the offensive side of the ball, Bo Pelini still has one of the best defensive units in the NCAA. The Cornhuskers lost a few players during the offseason, but they are still stacked. Tackle Jared Crick is a first team All-Big 12 selection and while he may not be 'The boy name Suh' but he is damn close to it. The strength of Nebraska is their defense. The front line was able to create havoc in opposing teams backfields. As a result they were able to put teams in third and long situations, and create short field situations for their anemic offense. Look for Nebraska to employ a similar game plan this year.

Record: 10-2 Key Games: Texas, at Texas A&M

Missouri Tigers: It wasn't too long ago that Missouri was thought to be a serious contender in the Big 12. While those days may be gone, the Tigers proved they are still a talented team last season by picking up 8 wins during a rebuilding year. Now with 15 starters returning it's time for Coach Pinkel's team to show what they are worth.

Missouri's 2010 season rest squarely on the broad shoulders of junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Last season he stepped in as a first year starter and completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,593 yards and 24 touchdowns. If spring practice has shown us anything, it's that Blaine Gabbert has improved in his passing skills and is ready for a true breakout season in 2010 thus living up to his 5-star Blue Chip recruit label. If there is an issue with Gabbert's game it's his health. Time on the bench due to injury is not an option for the Tigers. If Blaine Gabbert goes down due to injury it will be Jimmy Costello, a former walker on, calling the signals, and that could spell trouble.

On defense it will be up to Aldon Smith to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, and improve on his 11.5 sacks and Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors last season. If Smith can continue to grow, he has the tools to become one of all the time greats in Missouri history.

Overall the key to Missouri's success will be dominating their weak schedule. Their non-conference games are a joke, and opening up the Big 12 schedule with Colorado and Texas A&M gives the Tigers the opportunity to jump out to a 6-0 start heading into a Homecoming game against Oklahoma. Once they get to that point, all bets on the season are off.

Record: 9-4 Key Games: at Texas A&M, Oklahoma, at Texas Tech

Kansas Jayhawks: First off, let me begin by congratulating the Jayhawks for hiring Turner Gill as their head coach, he is the right man for the job. That being said, Kansas basically falls into this third place ranking ass backwards. For the first time since 2007 Kansas enters the fall without a proven starting quarterback. Not only is record setting quarterback Todd Reesing gone, but during his tenure he never let another one of his backups see the field. This means Turner Gill is breaking in a new guy.

There's no question 2010 is a rebuilding year for the Kansas Jayhawks, and it would take a triumphant effort from Turner Gill to get this team into a meaningful bowl game.
Record: 6-6 Key Games: Kansas State, Colorado

Colorado Buffaloes: It feels like we say this all the time, but this is a make it or break it year for head coach Dan Hawkins. I could write pages about how the Buffaloes need to upgrade their offense, and become of effecent in the red zone in order to score more points, but in the end, it all comes down to what Dan Hawkins does as a coach. When he arrived in Boulder several years back Hawkins had visions of returning Colorado to their glory years, and he was not afraid to share those ideas with you. After watching his team meltdown and finish the 2009 season 3-9, it's become clear Mr. Hawkins has his work cut out for him.

Colorado actually has some legit talent and experience on their roster, but the mental errors have been crippling for this program. In short the Buffaloes need to improve on special teams, drastically cut down on their penalties, improve their turnover margins, and learn some toughness when playing on the road. If they can accomplish those things, the 2010 season won't be a complete lost.
Record: 4-8 Key Games: Hawaii, Baylor

Kansas State Wildcats: Bill Snyder is trying to recapture the magic during his second stint as the Wildcats coach, but just ask former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, and he will be the first to tell you, that's easier said than done. During the 2009 season Snyder was able to surprise some of the doubters, by getting the Wildcats into a playoff for the Big 12 Championship. Despite the initial success, Kansas State was still only 6-6 last year and missed out on the post season (that's what happens when you play two FCS teams). Now the success of the 2010 season will rest on the players ability to adapt to Snyder's demanding coaching style. If the players are able to adjust and and deliver the Wildcats could find themselves back in the hunt for the Big 12 North title.

Record: 4-8 Key Games: At Missouri, at Baylor

Iowa State Cyclones: Iowa State is a hurting program. On the offensive side of the ball they only averaged 20.5 points a game, good enough for 103rd in the nation. However, that was the Cyclones first year under head coach Paul Rhoads spread offense. There is no doubt that improvement is expected in 2010. Quarterback Austen Arnaud looked vastly improved during the spring ball. If he can grasp the spread offense there is a chance that the Cyclones offense will be good enough to keep pace with the big boys in the Big 12. On the defensive side of the ball Iowa State is young, but they will be relied upon heavily to keep the Cyclones in games, while their offense attempts to catch up. In the end, a brutal conference schedule could nullify any improvements the Cyclones are able to make on the field, and that's a shame.

Record: 2-10 Key Games: Northern Iowa, at Colorado

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daily Erin Andrews: Jennie Finch Retires from Softball

The sports world is about to lose one of it's all time great athletes at the end of August. NCAA National Champion, MVP, Olympic Gold Medalist, and all around badass on the diamond Jennie Finch announced earlier today, she was ready to call it a day on her storied softball career. For those of you who don't know Finch is more than just a pretty face. She is one of the all time great pitchers the game of softball has ever seen. During her sophomore season at Arizona University she won 30 straight games. She capped her undefeated streak at 60 games during her senior season. Finch also went on to become a national hero in representing the United States in World Championships and in the Olympics, where she proved to be just as dominating. Now at the age of 29, Jennie has decided it's time to call it quits and spend some time with her family and focusing on helping to spread the game she loves.

Daily Erin Andrews: Girls of the Big 12

Moving deeper into the American heartland, Walker sports finds itself sitting in the heart of Big 12 country, and let me tell you these teams know how to party. Big schools, big stadiums, big traditions, and big tailgates. Sounds like a perfect spot for Walker Sports to set up and have some fun.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2010 ACC Atlantic Division Preview

The number of days til the 2010 college football season kicks off is ticking away, and we are inching ever closer to another exciting year of action on the field. We've already gone over the ACC's Coastal Division, so today we are turning our attention to the Atlantic Division. Many people would consider the the Atlantic Division the weaker of the two divisions, but that can be left up to argument. The truth of the matter is, the ACC is down, and unless Florida State comes through with a big performance the Atlantic Division could be hurting.

Florida State Seminoles: It's not often that a school can lose a legend as their head coach, and still bounce back with the prospect of being a top 25 team and a contender for a conference title, but that's exactly what Florida State is attempting to do under new head coach Jimbo Fisher. Bobby Bowden finally stepped down as the 'Noles head coach after building the FSU program and taking them to the height of the college football world. Now Jimbo Fisher is at the head of Seminole nation, and he has the hefty tasking of trying to rebuild FSU and return them to their glory days.

On offense Florida State is run by star quarterback Christian Ponder. The senior is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and many are expecting a special year out of the fourth year player. Jimbo Fisher feels that Ponder could be the best quarterback he has ever coached and that is saying something. With the current roster of talent around Ponder he all the weapons to make it a memorable year.

On the defensive side of the ball Fisher has employed Mark Stoops to organize the unit. Last year Florida State's defense was a train wreck, and it will take all of his tricks to get this unit functioning at respectable level. While I have no doubt that Stoops will be able to recruit defensive talent, the 09 campaign will be a struggle and in the end, the 'Noles will only go as far as this unit will take them.

While it is very likely the Seminoles will experience success within the ACC, their hopes of returning to national glory could still be a few years off. This is due to the shaky defense, and a deadly schedule. Florida State has back to back games against Oklahoma and BYU in September. Combine that with traditional rivalry games with Miami and Florida and Jimbo Fisher will have his hands full.

Record:9-3 Key Games: at Oklahoma, BYU, Miami

Clemson Tigers: It's been a long drought since the Clemson Tigers tasted greatness in the ACC, 1991 to be exact. Head coach Dabo Swinney will try to one up his ACC Championship appearance in 2009. That's going to be pretty difficult considering the Tigers lost nine starters from their 2009 offense including all world tailback C.J. Spiller. What Dabo and company have going for them is the return of sophomore quarterback Kyle Parker. The Clemson quarterback passed for 2,526 yards last season and all indications show he should improve on those numbers. Helping Parker along the way is a solid offensive line, that will not only give Parker time, they will open holes for Spiller's replacement in the backfield.

Clemson is coming off of a 9 win season in 2009, and that will be difficult to improve on in 2010, especially with the turnover in personnel. That being said, there is still enough talent in the skill positions to keep the the wheels from completely falling off. If the Tigers can navigate a treacherous road schedule they will put themselves in the hunt for a repeat appearance in the ACC title game.

Record: 8-4 Key Games: at Auburn, at North Carolina, at Florida State

Boston College Eagles: The Eagles were the surprise story of the ACC in 2009. Many predicted the Eagles would finish last in the ACC, and they promptly turned around and won eight games. Not bad for first year coach Frank Spazani. In his second year as head man things should be a bit easier since BC is returning a quarterback for the first time since 2007 when Matt Ryan left. Dave Shinksie is a 25 year sophomore who managed to prove himself through the final 10 games of last season, and if Coach Spaz can find some talent at the receiver position, Shinskie could be due for a big year.

Despite having a great year overachieving last season, Coach Spaz knows his team still has plenty of work to do if they want to reach the 8 game plateau again. One massive boost for the Eagles will be the return of senior linebacker Mark Herzlich after his diagnosis of cancer last year. Not only is he a great talent on the field, the emotional lift and leadership he can provide could be what Boston College needs to get over the hump.

Record: 7-5 Key Games: Notre Dame, at Florida State, Clemson

North Carolina State Wolfpack: Last year the Tom O'Brien's Wolfpack was the sheik pick in the ACC. However, things did not go according to plan for NC State, yes they were able to pick up 9 wins on the season, but their defense was horrible, and quarterback Russell Wilson proved to be human as his numbers came back down to earth. The biggest blow to the Wolfpack last season was the lost of junior linebacker Nate Irving who suffered severe injuries after he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car on interstate 40.

The biggest change for North Carolina State will come on the defensive side of the ball. New defensive coordinator Mike Archer is suspposed to be a linebacker coaching guru, and he will need to pull all the tricks out of his hat if he wants to improve the unit that finished tied for last in the ACC and gave up 30.1 points a game last season. If Archer is going to improve the Wolfpack's defense it will come by making them a more aggressive unit. The offense can score points, but if the defense cannot stop anyone it's a complete waste.

Record: 6-7 Key Games Cincinnati, Boston College, at Clemson

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: It was only a few years ago when Jim Grobe was one of the hottest coaches in the country and he had the Demon Deacons playing in a BCS game. Lucky for Grobe Wake Forest fans have long memories, and still think that BCS appearance was recent, because Wake Forest is quickly falling back to old habits.

Jib Grobe has prided himself on red shirting the majority of his freshmen and relying on senior and more experienced players. This is a great idea till some players fail to develop the way they are supposed to. Now the Demon Deacons find themselves suffering from a lack of experience on the offensive line and at the quarterback position. This will create some major hurdles for Wake forest. However, it could prove to be a blessing when Wake's offense attempts to open the playbook up and find some quirky ways to move the ball. In the past this has been a benefit to the program.

Wake Forest is facing a daunting schedule this season that could prove to be their ultimate undoing. Grobe has done a good job recruiting but the question remains is he willing to unleash some of his new weapons?

Record: 4-8 Key Games: at Stanford, Navy, at Maryland

Maryland Terrapins: I'll be the first to admit, I have no clue how Ralph Friedgen has a job. Actually I take that back, he is still employed as a head coach thanks to politics. Former Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow could not find the money to buy out the $4 million that is owed to Friedgen over the next two seasons. Thanks to that, the big guy is back for another year in College Park after losing 7 in a row in 09, and finishing the year 2-10.

The off the field drama is far more interesting regarding this team than anything they can put together on the field. The Terps have a bunch of young players who need to mature in a hurry if they want to have any sort of success in 2010. Maryland has some decent talent at the skill positions, including solid speed on the outside in junior Torrey Smith, but it is still unclear if quarterback Jamarr Robinson will be able to get him the ball. In addition the Terps offensive line is shaky at best, and they will struggle to help generate any sort of rushing attack.

Record:3-9 Key Games: at West Virginia, at Boston College, at Virginia

Monday, July 19, 2010

Daily Erin Andrews: Girls of the Big 10

The college football season is getting closer, and we are enjoying our tour around the college football landscape. Today we are hanging around the Big 10. Having gone to school in Big 10 country I can attest to you how great it can be partying it up at the tailgates. Here's a look at some of the best tailgates in the mid west.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 ACC Coastal Division Preview

The college football season is just around the corner, and it could not get here any quicker if you ask this sports blogger. Baseball is nice, and the whole "Decision" from LeBron James was a complete disaster. Now it's time to focus on the good things, and there's no better American tradition than college football.

We will be begin our preview of the 2010 college football season right here here in ACC country. The ACC avoided all the realignment talk that many of the college conferences experienced this summer, and that was a good thing for traditional rivalries, it means the ACC will remain amongst the weakest of the BCS conferences.

Since the ACC is now divided into two divisions, we will start by looking at the Coastal Division.

-Teams are listed in order or predicted rank.

Virginia Tech Hokies: The Virginia Tech Hokies have the best backfield in the country, there's simply no doubt about that. Before the 2009 campaign got underway the Hokies lost all conference back Darren Evans to injury. He was replaced by freshman back Ryan Williams who set an ACC record when he rushed for over 1,600 yards. Now Evans has fully recovered from his injuries, and he is looking to join Williams in forming the only backfield in the nation that features two 1,000 yard backs. In addition to their explosive backfield, the Hokies also feature Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. To many ACC fans it feels like Taylor has been in college forever, but that's what happens when you have a four year starter at the quarterback position. With Tyrod Taylor calling the shots, he will be sure to keep the Hokies offense rolling down the field.

In an odd twist of fate, it appears the once vaulted Hokies defense may actually be their weakest link in during the 2010 season. Virginia lost seven starts on defense from their 2009 squad. While they typically have plenty of depth to replenish a depleted squad it's difficult to replace that man starters on a unit, especially when the team is looking to compete for an ACC Championship and potentially a national title.

The Hokies will have to come out of the gates strong if they want to keep their national title hopes alive when they open their season against Boise State. Within the conference the Hokies biggest challenge will come from division foe Miami who is looking to reclaim some of their former glory they experienced in the early 2000's.

Record: 11-1 Key Games: Boise State, at North Carolina, at Miami

Miami Hurricanes: The Canes have made a ton of progress under fourth year coach Randy Shannon. Last season 'The U' posted a 9 win season, their best since 2005. While that was impressive there are several games on the 09 schedule the Canes know they let slip through their fingers, this includes a disastrous performance in the Champs Sports Bowl against Wisconsin.

For the 2010 season the Canes will be lead by junior quarterback Jacory Harris who has shown great improvement during his time in Miami. Around Harris he has the best arsenal of receivers that we have seen in a Hurricanes uniform since 2002. The key to the Canes offense will be can Harris remain healthy for the full season, and can he cut down on the interceptions from last season (he led the ACC with 17). On the defensive side of the ball, the Canes are returning everyone, and they have an emerging superstar in defensive end Allen Bailey.

Record: 10-2 Key Games: at Ohio State, at Pittsburgh, Virgi
nia Tech

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Paul Johnson proved to the country that the triple option attack can work at a major college program, at least in doses it does. The lost of running back Jonathan Dwyer will undoubtedly hurt the Yellow Jackets. The bulk of the offense will fall to quarterback Josh Nesbitt. The Georgia Tech quarterback was a stud at times last year, and has appeared to master the finer points of the option offense.

The key for the Yellow Jackets will be getting out to a good start and maintaining their leads. It became very obvious last season that Georgia Tech cannot play from behind. First off, the option offense is not designed to score bunches of points quickly. Second, Nesbitt proved to be shaky as a passer.

Despite all of that, Georgia Tech still has the opportunity to keep themselves relevant in the ACC hunt thanks to the overall weakness of the conference.

Record: 9-3, Key Games: at North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, Miami, at Georgia

North Carolina Tar Heels: A lot of people have high hopes for the Tar Heels in 2010. This is largely based on the fact they are returning the best line backing and secondary units in the country. Pretty much every DB and LB on the North Carolina roster could have gone pro last season, but they elected to return for another year, and complete some unfinished business. Judging by the recent NCAA investigations that are currently taking place in Chapel Hill, that may not have been the best decision.

It is unlikely that anything will come from the current NCAA investigation that will affect the 2010 Tar Heel team. Head coach Butch Davis has his defense playing like one of the Florida State or Miami teams from the 90's. That's good news because there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Tar Heels offense that was simply nonexistent at times last season, and they will continue to struggle in 2010. Combine that with the fact that the Tar Heels are an underachieving team under Butch Davis, and you have another lackluster season in Chapel Hill.

Record: 7-5, Key Games: LSU, at Florida State, Virginia Tech

Virginia Cavaliers: I'll be the first to admit that the Hoos may be getting a bit of hometown love with this ranking, and that's pretty sad. 3-9 last season, the Cavaliers were nothing short of embarrassing to everyone involved with the program. The result was Al Groh was let go and Mike London has returned to Charlottesville as the savior. The Cavaliers have questions all over the board. For the first time in many years the O-Line is surrounded by questions. Currently the starting quarterback job is slated to go to Mark Verica. Some fans will remember his performance during the 2008 season. In a nutshell he is still very shaken and extremely turnover prone.

Mike London is bringing some much needed energy to the program and that's a good thing. Virginia was in a horrible downward spiral under Al Groh, and now they must take the first steps to rebuilding. If nothing else Mike London will help the recruiting program, but those changes will have little to no affect on the 2010 season.

Record 4-8, Key Games: Duke, Maryland, Eastern Michigan

Duke Blue Devils: Head coach David Cutcliffe has done a lot to make Duke football somewhat relevant. However, now he will his biggest task in replacing Thad Lewis who was regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in school history. Stepping up to the task is sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree. The young starter will have his hands full because despite some extra wins last season, Duke still had one of the worst rushing attacks in the country. While the ACC may be a weak conference it is still an extremely difficult one for a young QB to learn his trade, especially with the likes of Miami, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina on the schedule.

Record: 3-9 Key Games: at Maryland, Virginia

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner Suffers Massive Heart Attack and Dies

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner suffered a massive heart attack, Florida's Bay News 9 reported Tuesday. According to updated reports that have been released the Yankees owner has passed.

Steinbrenner, who celebrated his 80th birthday on July 4, was listed as in extremely critical condition in a Tampa, Fla hospital.

The famously cantankerous Steinbrenner, known as "The Boss," has been atop the Yankees masthead for seven World Series titles.

Though he frequently quarreled with the teams managers, in recent years he has been a rare presence at the ballpark, with most statements issued through a spokesperson.

More details to come.

Daily Erin Andrews: Girls of the Big East

As we continue our tour around the country it's time we make our way back north. And while the Big East may not be known as a hotbed for football, that does not mean they don't know how to throw down at a tailgate.