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Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
NCAA Preview 2009
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
Western Athletic Conference
Boise State's clash with Pac–10 team Oregon should be the first highlight of the season, writes Richard L Gale, but another WAC title — and a BCS bid — are in easy reach for the Broncos.
In 2006, Boise State gatecrashed the BCS and became the posterchildren for big–bowl upsets in a wacky and wonderful 43–42 upset of Oklahoma. They finished the season unbeaten, but it looked like a fluke. After a 3–loss 2007, they bounced back last year with another unbeaten run, finally falling from the playoff debate when they lost by a single point to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl. That’s a 35–4 record, and the Broncos begin this season at no.16 in USA Today’s coaches’ poll, a good enough starting point for a climb to BCS qualification again …if they can go unbeaten again. To do that, they’d better be ready from day one — a Thursday matchup with fellow top 20 team Oregon.
Last year, the Broncos moved on from QB Taylor Tharp to Kellen Moore at without so much as blinking. In fact, Moore threw for more yardage (3485) than Tharp had in ‘07 or Jared Zabransky ever did. He threw 25 TDs and only 10 interceptions …as a redshirt freshman. Meanwhile, Jeremy Avery had to share running duties with Ian Johnson as the latter finished out his storied college career with stats that suited neither of them. As the featured back, Avery’s 6 yard career average should translate to a 1300 yard season.
The same speed and agility that makes the receiving corps a headache for defensive coordinators also peppers the defense, where even the linebackers are safety–sized. And again, that speed turns the special teams into a suicide squad of agile coverage and dangerous returners.
The front four sees changes, and if the new faces don’t get the same pressure the previous generation generated, the secondary might not have the ball–hawking opportunities. A three game suspension for projected starting tackle Chase Baker, combined with an offensive line that lacks seniors makes me wonder whether the Broncos may fall at the first hurdle. At least the Oregon Ducks have questions of their own on both lines, so the Broncos could luck into a valuable win over a BCS conference foe.
You’ll notice how I haven’t even discussed the WAC. The conference is considered a given, and even closest rival Nevada — with a rushing game sure to test that defensive line — visits in the penultimate week. Sure, a September visit to Fresno State can’t be underestimated, but Boise State’s on the big stage now. Anything less than perfection would be a disappointment.
100–Word Dash: Nevada
He may be a little skinny for NFL tastes, but 6–6 215lb junior QB Colin Kaepernick should continue his campaign for national recognition this season. Last year, he rushed for 1130 yards and 17 TDs, as well as tossing 2850 yards and 22 more scores. In 2007 Luke Lippincott ran for 1420 yards, and in Vai Taua ran for 1,521. This year, the three of them will charge down the WAC, and come November 27, try to unseat Boise State’s national hopes. If they could surprise Notre Dame and Missouri in September, they could harbor national aspirations of their own.
100–Word Dash: Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs shouldn’t tinker with the offense, despite a quarterback competition. When QB Ross Jenkins played tidily (just 3 interceptions), and Daniel Porter rushed with rhythm, and Louisiana Tech won. The entire line remains intact, and WR Phillip Livas was a highlight reel — a home–run threat as a receiver and returner. There is a mixture of old at new on defense, but at corner ‘new’ no bad thing. Special teams may lose some key personnel to those start roles on defense, but is unlikely to slump. Louisiana Tech looks destined for the second of at least three straight bowl visits.
100–Word Dash: San Jose State
After a 6–3 start last season, the Spartans sputtered and were outscored 27–87 in three season–ending losses. QB Kyle Reed threw 9 TDs to 6 picks last year, but could bust out with an experienced line, returning drive–maker WR Kevin Jurovich (who missed ‘08 with mononucleosis), and an outstanding defense that should be good again, with the front six of their faux–4–2–5 alignment (still looks like 4–3–4 to me) all seniors. However, with Coye Francies and Chris Owens gone from the secondary, and USC, Utah and Stanford to open the schedule, 2009 could begin much the same way 2008 ended.
100–Word Dash: Hawaii
Ends John Fonoti and Brashton Satele are the names on defense, not just for their NFL ties, but because nobody else has significant starting experience. Conversely, a senior offensive line returns, but they were marshmallow when it came to protecting quarterback Greg Alexander, whose 1895 yards hardly evoked memories of the June Jones era. Second–year Coach Greg McMackin could be in trouble: Hawaii’s home field advantage won’t mean much to Wisconsin, Fresno State, Boise State or Navy and the Warriors may struggle to get above .500. Any impression of stagnation is not what McMackin needs after his preseason media gaffe.
100–Word Dash: Fresno State
Pat Hill doesn’t do short–term quarterbacks. In 12 seasons, the lineage has read just Volek–Carr–Pinegar–Brandstater, and that favors true freshman Derek Carr, brother of David to head the next era over last year’s backup, Ryan Coburn. Hill may as well build for the future: the line is all a–shuffle, with nary a senior in sight, and the receivers couldn’t catch swine flu in spring practice. It’s asking too much for oft–injured RB Ryan Matthews to carry the team, while a defense mourning the March death of coordinator Dan Brown is predominantly juniors and sophomores. The stars aren’t aligned for 2009 bowl contention.
100–Word Dash: Utah State
Over the last three years, Utah State has won 1, 2, and 3 games, and continuing slow progress isn’t out of the question. Defensively, they were terrible last season, but Utah’s former defensive coordinator, Gary Andersen arrives as head coach, while greater experience should aid an inept secondary. Offensively, quarterback Diondre Borel meant most to a running attack that produced 18 scores last season, but the flyweight passer still lobbed more touchdowns (11) than picks (10) and his completion percentage could improve if better defense means State isn’t chasing late in games. Still, an even record would be a miracle.
100–Word Dash: New Mexico State
The Aggies open by hosting Idaho. They’d better themselves, because it could be downhill from there. With Coach Hal Mumme replaced by DeWayne Walker, the offensive system and the whole mindset of New Mexico State should change, along with the QB, likely JuCo arrival Jeff. The team has three home games to start with, but it seems unlikely the Aggies will have absorbed the changes in time to take advantage. Walker is a defensive–minded coach. He’s going to need to be. New Mexico State will continue to make the case against Boise State’s legitimacy to hunt the BCS Championship game.
100–Word Dash: Idaho
Deonte Jackson isn’t a bad back, and Princeton McCarty could be a real good one, but between them they rushed for barely 1000 yards last season as the Vandals fell behind in games and abandoned the run. Idaho’s defense in 2008 was tragic. They opened the season with a 70–0 loss to Arizona, and surrendered over 40 points on ten occasions. QB Nathan Enderle’s 17 interception season was a reflection of how predictable the pass became. With no FCS team on the schedule, and opening away to New Mexico State, that defense better improve if they’re not to go 0–12.