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Could Buckeyes and Bulldogs Have Too Much Talent?

Sep 02, 2015 -- 10:51am

A team can have too much talent, particularly at certain positions, none more fragile than quarterback. And based on my experience, internal strife has wrecked more college football teams’ seasons than injuries.

Bottom line: Playing time is at the top of every athlete’s priority list. Nobody is happy riding the pine.

I bring this up with two highly-regarded teams in mind. Ohio State is the overwhelming favorite to win the national championship. Georgia is a heavy favorite in the SEC East.

At Ohio State, Coach Urban Meyer remains undecided on who will be his starting quarterback, J.T. Barnett, who rescued the Buckeyes last year during the regular season, or Cardale Jones, who led the Buckeyes to the national championship when Barnett went down with an injury in the regular season finale.

There’s even a third potential problem for the Buckeyes. Braxton Miller, a two-time Big Ten player of the year as a quarterback, has been switched to another position. How happy is he?

At Georgia, Nick Chubb is regarded as the nation’s top runner. That means fewer carries for Sony Michel and even fewer for senior Keith Marshall, who was more highly regarded than Todd Gurley.

There’s even a potential problem for the Bulldogs at quarterback. Transfer Grayson Lambert won the starting job that Brice Ramsey has been preparing for the last two years. Are the Ramsey-backers on the team grumbling?

Ohio State and Georgia, of course, aren’t the only big boys who are prime candidates for locker room problems. They’re everywhere.

Alabama still hasn’t named a starting quarterback. Sean Maguire was set to take over as FSU’s starting QB until the Seminoles enticed transfer Everett Golson to move to Tallahassee. Do you think Treon Harris, who started Florida’s last six games last year, is a happy Gator sharing time with Will Grier?

Oregon’s starting quarterback is a transfer who only joined the team two weeks ago, sending the heir apparent to the bench. A hot shot freshman beat out a popular veteran at UCLA.

And on and on it goes. Of course these types of scenarios happen every year in every sport. Obviously competition is a fact of life in athletics, but that doesn’t make it easier for the ones sent to the bench. In a perfect world, the losers bear down and work harder. In the real world, many of them whine behind closed doors and divide locker rooms.

And that causes more on-the-field upsets than most of us can imagine.

What's Holing Up College QB Decisions

Aug 31, 2015 -- 10:32am

The college football season begins this week and no starting quarterback has been named at Florida State, Florida or Georgia – and a few other big-time programs like Alabama.

What in the world of Knute Rockne is going on here?

Is the problem too many talented quarterbacks or no good choice?

Or is it something else?

For the last decade or so a new trend has developed in college football. Highly-touted (and some not so highly touted) quarterbacks who don’t start by their sophomore seasons look to transfer.

Now is seems another trend as started to offset that problem. Coaches keep backup quarterbacks guessing, keeping them at least somewhat happy and making transferring more difficult. Or at least delay transferring.

My guess is FSU, Georgia and Florida know who their starting quarterbacks are. The coaches would just rather not say it.

Florida’s Jim McElwain has gone so far as to say he’ll play two quarterbacks in the Gators opener against New Mexico State. Truth is it really doesn’t matter who starts for the power teams in their openers because the opposition is . . . well, let’s just say less than stellar. FSU opens against Texas State and Georgia takes on Louisiana-Monroe.

The games are mere dress rehearsals. It won’t matter who starts at QB.

So who will be under center for FSU, UF and Georgia when the schedules get tougher?

Will Grier appears to have won the job at Florida. He was highly recruited but played against weak high school competition and he also needed to get stronger. Word is McElwain’s arrival and a year in college have done wonders for Grier. But the Gators need Treon Harris, who provides the only depth at the position.

Everett Golson seems destined to be the starter at FSU. Although he was a bit of a turnover machine at Notre Dame, he was in great demand when he decided to transfer after earning his diploma. It’s difficult to imagine him not being promised the starting job when he chose FSU. But the Seminoles want to keep Sean Maguire happy. He’s proven himself as competent coming off the bench.

Georgia’s situation is murkier. Brice Ramsey hasn’t performed as well as Coach Mark Richt had hoped. Jacob Parks has already transferred (Auburn?). Transfer Grayson Lambert has done some good things. Faton Bauta is insurance.

Still, expect Ramsey to ultimately win the job.  

Right number of preseason games is . . .

Aug 28, 2015 -- 10:31am

Lamm column 8-28-15

Theres no correct answer when it comes to how many preseason games NFL teams should play.It literally comes down to the year and the team as far as how many preseason games teams need. Better, older teams did fewer games than younger, developing teams.

The NFL, of course, cant have teams playing a different number of games. NFL owners have determined four is the right number, probably based more on their wallets than team development.Time is needed in evaluating players, particularly on the back end of the roster, and preseason games are far better for that than practices.

Other kinks that cant be worked out as well in practice are continuity and timing.Then, obviously, theres the injury factor. Less exposure equals fewer injuries.

Old-timers might argue todays players need more of everything because they have far less rigorous training camps and they do but the truth is todays players probably work harder year-round than their predecessors.I think two preseason games is the right number.

The Jaguars, who play their third exhibition tonight by hosting Detroit, are one of those teams that need as much preseason game work as possible. Few teams are younger and even fewer are depending on so many players showing progress.

Coach Gus Bradley likely will play his starters well into the third quarter, which is a common practice for most teams in the third preseason game.

Im all for that, already being on record as saying the Jaguars starters need as many preseason-game snaps as they can get.Quarterback Blake Bortles needs all the work he can get with his young receivers and rookie runner T.J. Yeldon, who is scheduled to see his first action.

The offensive line remains a work in progress. And with at least five newcomers expected to see major roles, so is the defense.For that matter, Bradley needs all of the game-like practice he can get as well.

Sark: Much to do about nothing

Aug 26, 2015 -- 11:46am

Ah, thoughts about the wonderful world of college football:Southern Cal Coach Steve Sarkisian had too much to drink at a party.

He slurred his speech. He tossed out some naughty words. He ripped his teams rivals.Get over it. This entire story has gotten way too much play and analysis.

Sark made a mistake. He apologized. Life goes on.I dont know whether or not if Sark has a problem with alcohol. He says hell look into that. Good for him.

But this one episode doesnt make him a drunk. Keep in mind this happened at a big kickoff party for the Trojans season. The audience was made up of Southern Cal diehards boosters, current and past players and coaches and school officials. It wasnt a Sunday school class or TV show.

Talk of him losing his job over this is ridiculous. The do-gooders who are whining should look in a mirror and see if theyre perfect. They should get a life.

I'm waiting to hear how FSU officials should be ashamed of themselves if Dalvin Cook ever wears a Seminole football uniform again.Cooks indefinite suspension was lifted this week after he was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery of a woman in a court of law.

But absolutely the sophomore runner should be allowed to play based on this incident.Still, there will be cries that Cook isnt the type of young man who should be showcased to represent a major university.

A lot of bad things were revealed about Cooks past during the investigation.I agree with that. He shouldnt have been signed to play college football in the first place.

But remember this before any of you hypocrites throw spears at the Seminoles: Hes at FSU because he said no to recruiters from Florida, Alabama and a ton of other major schools.

Not total Love for Victory

Aug 24, 2015 -- 12:18pm

8-24-15

Davis Love III winning the PGA Tour tournament in Greensboro was a great story. I can’t imagine a true golf fan not thrilled with Love’s performance.

For nearly three decades he’s been one of the Tour’s most popular and successful golfers. The 51-year-old Love is a major champion and a 21-time winner.

His popularity extends to the locker room. He’s the current Ryder Cup captain and he’s been voted to the Tour’s policy board by his peers.

Now he’s the third oldest golfer in Tour history to win a tournament and the oldest in 40 years. But is Love’s victory good for golf as a spectator sport? I say no.

One of the biggest perceptions golfers fight is are they athletes. Many non-golf fans scoff at the notion golfers should be included in the same conversation with athletes who compete in the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc.

So how athletic are golfers if a 51-year-old can win a Tour event, even one with a modest field?

I am a true golf fan and I do think they’re athletes, but I understand the dilemma the sport faces in trying to attract fans who’ve never played the sport. For the record, I was pulling hard for Love – particularly after Tiger Woods imploded with a triple-bogey 7 on the 11th hole.

But I could imagine the rolling eyes of fans who dismiss golf as a leisurely activity as it became more and more likely Love might win.

In their eyes if golfers are athletes Love should be competing on the Champions Tour, whipping other “old geezers” instead of playing against – and winning – a PGA Tour tournament. In my eyes Love accomplished an amazing feat and inspired a lot of baby boomers.

SEC QBs Better than Pundits Think

Aug 21, 2015 -- 9:25am

To hear the pundits tell it, the SEC is suffering from a shortage of quality quarterbacks.

I’m not buying that for a Roll Tide second. My gut, common sense and history tell me quarterback play in the SEC is going to be just fine.

Five schools are touting their QBs in the preseason for all-star honors, the group led by Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, so how bad can they be? Kentucky’s Patrick Towes may be the best NFL QB prospect in the league.

Alabama and Texas A&M have blue-chip recruits poised to take over. Florida and Ole Miss have former blue chip recruits ready to fulfill their potential.

Does Georgia even need a stud QB with all of its running backs?

LSU does have a QB problem, but what’s unusual about that? South Carolina may be lacking at the position but the Gamecocks have the QB Guru in Coach Steve Spurrier. As for Vanderbilt . . . well, it’s Vanderbilt.

Auburn views Jeremy Johnson as a star waiting in the wings. Arkansas appears poised to make a big leap with Brandon Allen, the SEC’s most experienced QB with 25 starts, taking pressure off the Razorbacks’ strong running game.

While Maty Mauk has been up and down, he has led Missouri to back-to-back SEC East titles. Many expect Tennessee to get back to contender status because of how Joshua Dobbs played after taking over at QB at midseason last year.

Coach Nick Saban is whining because Alabama hasn’t found its starting quarterback – or so he says. Is he using the open competition as a way of keeping everyone motivated? Saban’s options range from 5th-year senior Jake Coker to hotshot recruit Blake Barnett.

A&M thinks Kyler Murray can be another Johnny Manziel.

Will Grier now looks strong enough to give Florida a lift. Transfer Chad Kelly, son of NFL Hall of Famer Jim, could solve Ole Miss’ QB problem if he can finally avoid off-the-field problems.

The SEC’s quarterback picture will look a lot different come October than it does now. Count on it.

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