5-at-10: Friday mailbag on college football and more

5-at-10: Friday mailbag on college football and more

August 3rd, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go.

From StuckinKent

In this Sept.17, 2011 file photo, Southern California Trojans' head coach Lane Kiffin talks with players on the sideline during a football game against the Syracuse Orange at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

I've got a computer ranking system for ranking the college football teams. This is the first year I've tried to produce preseason rankings out of it. They are not perfect (Baylor and Houston are too highly regarded, Oregon probably too lowly regarded), but they are interesting. It uses last year's rankings (which rely on scoring difference, winning percentage, strength of schedule, and quality of the teams beaten) as the baseline, and then starts adding and deducting points based on coaching factors and returning starters, with an emphasis on returning quarterback and offensive linemen (the two positions I consider the most important in college football).

So, this is my Top Ten based on that in order: Alabama, LSU, USC, Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Clemson.

I was surprised that the rankings had Notre Dame so overrated. Of course, they play three of the six teams ranked ahead of them this season. That is one sick schedule. Next year my preseason rankings may need to take into account the current year's schedule. We'll wait and see what the results are like this year before going that route though.

Personally, I would probably rank them like this: LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, USC, Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, Wisconsin, Georgia, Oklahoma State.

For the record, I do think Alabama beats Michigan in the first week- I just think the Wolverines don't lose again, and Alabama loses about two games this year, allowing Michigan to pass them in the race for the national title.

What do you think?

We like it a lot. Well done, and we like you computer-generated top 10, especially West Virginia there because we think the Mountaineers have a lot of pieces - talented quarterback, stout O-Line, skill position depth and a favorable schedule - to make an Auburn 2010-type run.

We also agree that returning your quarterback and most of your O-line is mega-huge. That's the main reason we believe Alabama will be better than most people think this year, considering they are returning the BCS winning QB in A.J. McCarron and the best O-line in the country. (Alabama's offensive line has so much talent that they took an All-American left tackle and moved him to center because they believe his back-up is better. What a testament to how well Nick Saban stockpiles talent, re-read that last sentence.)

We also believe Alabama beats Michigan, but we're not sure Alabama has that many losses on its schedule. At Arkansas and at LSU will be tough, but what do we know about the Hogs defense and do we believe Zach "Morris" Mettenberger is going to be ready for prime time at LSU?

Here's our ranking, if we had an AP vote:

1) USC

2) Alabama

3) LSU

4) Oklahoma

5) West Virginia

6) Oregon

7) Georgia

8) FSU

9) South Carolina

10) Michigan

With Clemson, Arkansas and Wisconsin right on the edge.

From P-Davi

Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier makes a throw during NCAA college football practice, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, in Auburn, Ala.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Jay, You may know that Auburn has started practicing. What can I expect from Kiehl Frazier this season?

They still playing football down there? Who knew.

We expect a much-improved Kiehl Frazier for a few reasons.

First, the growth from year one to year two is always tangible, especially for quarterbacks and offensive linemen, who have to adjust to the speed of the game and those around them.

Second, we believe Scot Loeffler has the chance to be a quarterback whisperer. If Tom Brady swears by you, that's high enough praise for us. This bodes well for Frazier, especially considering Loeffler knows his future is riding on Frazier or Clint Moseley developing into a playmaker. (This is another reason we believe Frazier will be the starter at Auburn. If you're Loeffler and have a reputation as a quarterback guy, who has the higher ceiling - and gives you the chance to deliver on that rep - Frazier or Moseley?)

Third, Loeffler's system is more flexible than Gus Malzahn's. After Malzahn left for Arkansas State, there were quotes from Frazier about how the systems were different beyond schemes, and the sophomore said he could audible in Loeffler's system. At first we were stunned to realize that Malzahn did not allow audibles unless there was an emergency, but considering how Malzahn was such a master play-caller, it makes sense that he kiboshed audibles because he was calling plays to a) gain yards on that play and b) set up deception in play calls later in the game.

Finally, we are expecting more from Frazier because the offensive line will be noticeably better this fall. That, coupled with a deep collection of running backs aiding the move back to a pro-style offense should give every Auburn fan hope. So smile P-Davi, it's going to be an excellent fall.

From scole023,

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, left, reacts to his touchdown as center Chris Myers, right, congratulates him during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

When is the next contest? I like to win stuff.

If I can have another question, I would like to know who would you take first in your fantasy football draft?

I am in a league that picks on the weekend of the Hall of Fame inductions (Sunday). Thoughts, and you still talk a lot?

Thanks as always for writing and trying to keep us straight.

Next contest will likely be for the PGA Championship. We'll see. We are going to do the "Can you beat Jay" SEC picks this year on the main timesfreepress.com website, so keep your eyes peeled. It's free and you could win a $100, a free Nike football and even get your picture in the paper.

As for the fantasy draft, well, without knowing your rules, that's a tough one.

If it's a pass-heavy league, we'd likely take Rodgers or Brady.

If it's a balanced league, since there are so few grade A running backs, we'd likely look at Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy or even a Matt Forte. We believe Chris Johnson and Ryan Matthews are overrated and while his injury history is a concern, we think Darren McFadden will have a big year.

Since there are so many QBs that are going to put up numbers, we'd be tempted to try for an elite back early (Foster, Rice, McCoy). If not, maybe land a Calvin Johnson in the middle of round 1, Trent Richardson in round 2 and go from there. Depending on how many teams are in your league, we believe a Cam Newton or Mike Vick or even a Tony Romo or Philip Rivers will be there in round 4. Are they Rodgers or Brady? No, but are you better off with Rodgers and say Hakeem Nicks or Calvin Johnson and Romo?

Any interest in a mini-5-at-10 fantasy football league? We have some interest here. Discuss.

From FEChancellor

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days in Hoover, Ala. on Thursday, July 19, 2012.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Can the Vol offense stay on the field, let alone score, to keep the defense in the game this year? Will we see more futile fourth downs from the 35 due to yet another year of kicking inadequacy?

To offer some context, FE asked these questions in relation to the five questions facing UT this season. Our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown dealt more in generalities - asking about the UT running game and the kicking game - and FE brings up solid points that deal in specifics.

And each of the above concerns are valid and haunting for Johnny Vols Fans everywhere.

And the answer to each of them deals with the biggest question mark in Vols camp in our view - Tyler Bray.

No, Bray, the walking dichotomy that has projected first-round talent and the all-too-frequent lapse in judgement, will not be asked to run on third-and-short or kick field goals this fall.

But the crux of every question about your Tennessee Vols this fall can be answered either directly or indirectly by how Bray preforms. If dude meshes his talent with one of the most dynamic receiving corps in college football, the trickle down benefits will be felt across all facets of the Tennessee football team.

Rapid fire style, here are the basic laments we've heard from Johnny Vols Fans this summer...

We have no running game. Our defense is thin. The secondary is questionable. The kicking game is, well you know. On and on and on, and it's justified for a proud program that has been relegated to the bottom third of the SEC in recent years.

Now say the phrase, "If Tyler Bray is good..." and all of those beefs become small potatoes.

"If Tyler Bray is good..." the running game will be infinitely better going against six guys in the box. (And even if it's not, if Bray's good, does it matter?)

"If Tyler Bray is good..." a thin defense won't have to worry about the run as much, which means less wear and tear.

"If Tyler Bray is good..." a questionable secondary can focus on the pass and should be aided with pressure on the quarterback, with help from an athletic front seven.

"If Tyler Bray is good..." a bad kicking game will still be a bad kicking game, but struggles at the 35-yard line are easier to stomach with two lengthy TD passes already on the board.

Now that said, putting you fan eggs in the Bray basket is not exactly as safe as Apple stock. In fact, if you were Derek Dooley -- and there is a real likelihood you are coaching for your job this season -- and all you bets are hedged and doubled on this team and its talented and back-tattooed leader - Tyler Bray. How well would you sleep at night?

From Chas9

U.S. pitcher Jennie Finch reacts as the United States defeats the Netherlands 7-2 in a World Cup of Softball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 16, 2009.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Yesterday fec mentioned Katarina Witt and Nadia Comaneci for his Olympics Rushmore, so I had to wonder if he was influenced by their good looks. If so, he has a good eye. So here's a question for the bag: Who's on your Mt. Rushmore of Olympic medalists who deserve gold for being easy on the eyes as well as tough competitors? For the female division I nominate Katarina, Nadia, FloJo, and Sonja Henie. I don't think Gabrielle Reece medaled. The male division could start with Greg Louganis. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

As with all questions of this ilk, our answer starts with the Mrs. 5-at-10. Since she does not officially have an Olympic gold medal, she is eliminated on a technicality.

We'll go with Jennie Finch, Amanda Beard, Witt and Comaneci.

As for the male divsion - not that there's anything wrong with that - well, we don't feel qualified to answer that. Was Paul Newman an Olympian? He was a handsome man; beyond that it's hard to describe other gents as "easy on the eyes" - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Tough question all around.