NCAA Football News

Florida State Football: Issues We Would Love Fisher to Address at ACC Media Days

Most coaches would like to have Jimbo Fisher's concerns going into the 2014 season.

The Florida State football team is coming off a national championship, has a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Jameis Winston, a playmaking receiver in Rashad Greene, a senior-laden offensive line and a defense that's loaded with talent.

Even after losing 10 starters (five on each side of the ball), it's tough to find a glaring weakness. Let's instead consider it a potential flaw.

So let's take a look at five points that we would like Fisher to address when the ACC Football Kickoff begins Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

 

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats from Seminoles.com. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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Miami Football: 3 Backups Critical to the Hurricanes' Success in 2014

Three backups are critical to the Miami Hurricanes' success in 2014, and they are expected to produce in various ways.

While much of the focus has highlighted offensive efficiency, the defense is where the 'Canes must make the greatest strides for the quickly approaching campaign.

Recently, Miami has shown weaknesses at every level, but the backups are another year older and another year wiser—or at least they should be.

Each of the following players is entering his second season with the program, and the Hurricanes will rely on the young reserves every week.

 

Ufomba Kamalu, Defensive End

Following one season adapting to the speed of the FBS level, Ufomba Kamalu is primed for a breakout year. In March, Kamalu told Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald that he gained 10 pounds this offseason, bringing his 6'6" frame up to 285 pounds.

"I feel like when I got here last year, I was a little bit behind because I wasn't able to start camp with the guys," Kamalu said, per David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required). "I felt like I had to play catch-up to everything here when I first arrived, which can be tough. During the bowl practices, I got more confidence and started to play faster."

Lurking behind longtime starter Anthony Chickillo, the JUCO transfer will remain above highly touted freshman Chad Thomas for the foreseeable future. Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyriq McCord were listed as co-starters on the post-spring depth chart, but the latter has basically exclusively been a speed-rusher.

In simpler terms, Kamalu will be a significant part of the rotation. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio should also look to utilize him as an inside rusher on third down, sending Kamalu out alongside Chickillo and two edge-rushers.

The defensive line was forgettable last season, but Kamalu could help form a respectable unit in the trenches.

 

Jermaine Grace, Outside Linebacker

A highly recruited yet undersized linebacker, Jermaine Grace tallied eight total tackles in 11 appearances as a freshman. However, his upcoming responsibilities will be magnified intensely and will be subject to much scrutiny.

Now a borderline starter, Grace has been forced into a duty for which he was already battling following the dismissal of Alex Figueroa. Grace, Raphael Kirby and Thurston Armbrister are the top three outside linebackers, and the trio will rarely leave the field.

Unless Darrion Owens explodes onto the scene during fall camp, any one of the three is now the first replacement, at worst. Currently, the sophomore is the odd man out of a starting position, and he is an essential cog in the Hurricanes' defensive machine, which must be upgraded.

"[Grace] is a guy that will be hard to not want on the field on first and second down because of his instincts and playmaking ability," D'Onofrio said, per Lake (subscription required). "He has a knack for finding the football. He is a good blitzer, he is good in pass coverage and he has good instincts against the run."

Miami needs Grace to use those skills each outing, as the 'Canes are in even more trouble without him.

 

Artie Burns, Cornerback

Cornerback is one of the most difficult positions for a young collegian to dominate in his first season, let alone earn a notable spot. But as a sophomore, speedster Artie Burns will move into a larger role.

Though Miami returns both starters in Tracy Howard and Ladarius Gunter, Burns made an impression early this year. After earning a black jersey for practice, the sophomore snagged an interception during the spring game.

Antonio Crawford will likely be the nickelback, leaving Burns in the rotation on the outside in preparation for when he becomes a full-time starter in 2015.

Additionally, he is a leading candidate for kick return duties, especially if Duke Johnson and Stacy Coley are not back deep. Last year, Burns averaged 26.1 yards over 10 returns, including a 43-yarder against Virginia Tech.

Yes, he fumbled at the end of that kick, but Burns showed his value with the football. Paired with record-breaking speed, he's certainly worthy of the position—one that has the potential to make Burns a game-changer for the 'Canes.

 

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Questions We'd Love to Ask Every Coach at Big 12 Media Days

Summer workouts are drawing to an end, and we're a little more than a month from the start of the season. So you know what that means. 

Media days are upon us. 

It's the time of year where the media gets to bombard coaches and players with any and every question under the sun, from how they expect the season to go to what their favorite breakfast foods are. 

If fans wish they could do one thing, it would be to ask questions to their favorite coach. So let's check out the top question fans want to ask each Big 12 coach. 

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Michigan Football: Is Devin Funchess a Legitimate Biletnikoff Award Contender?

The Devin Funchess hype train has made a stop at Biletnikoffville, home of the perceived-best receivers in all of college football. 

Of course, the Michigan junior is among many others—probably too many—on the watch list that pays homage to stars such as Stanford's Ty Montgomery and Louisville's DeVante Parker, a pair of more-than-worthy candidates for the esteemed roll call. 

But is Funchess deserving of such high regard? The Wolverines' tight-end-turned-wideout is in the beginning phases of establishing himself in the Big Ten—that's the first step.

Athletically and physically, he stands out from the crowd; and he's well on his way to being a special player. However, he must first dominate his own yard before being considered among the best on the block.  

In order to get to the bottom of the issue, this slideshow will compare Funchess to others on the Biletnikoff list, all the while rifling through pertinent statistics, trends and other things worth mentioning. A definitive verdict will be presented at show's end.

Devin Funchess named to Biletnikoff Award watch list for nation's top receiver http://t.co/L4Nlp0aqhc

— MLive Sports (@MLiveSports) July 15, 2014

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Nebraska Football: Five Reasons Cornhuskers Will Flop in 2014

Nebraska football fans are eternal optimists, looking forward to the 2014 season with excitement and hope for future glories. But, in every season, there is always the risk of things going south. Nebraska fans need only to remember 2007 to see how quickly the air can escape from the metaphorical balloon.

Certainly, that’s not what Nebraska fans want to see. But the danger is out there. Here are five sharks in the water that could devour the 2014 season.

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Georgia Football: What Bulldogs Fans Need to Know About Dominick Sanders

The 2014 recruiting class for Georgia is currently on campus working out with veteran members of the team so they can be prepared for preseason practice, which will start at the beginning of August.

And with the veterans working with the rookies, there’s going to be that one player that stands out above the rest. Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph got a chance to speak to Todd Gurley and Ramik Wilson, and they both agreed that Dominick Sanders is the player that fans need to keep their eye on during the season.

Freshman safety Dominick Sanders' name mentioned by players here. "He's going to push for somebody's spot," Ramik Wilson said.

— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) July 17, 2014

But who is Sanders? Where did he come from and why is he making an impact already?

Sanders was not really on the Bulldogs radar at the start of the recruiting season last year. In fact, Sanders committed to UCF in mid-January and did not have UGA anywhere on his final list of schools. But when Sanders de-committed from UCF, the Bulldogs, along with Auburn and Missouri, made a last-minute offer. And, at the end of the day, Sanders decided to play in his home state.

247 Sports has Sanders listed as a three-star prospect from Tucker, Georgia. He has good ball skills and pretty good speed. But what makes him stand out, and the reason he’s getting praise from his Bulldog teammates, is that he has the ability to make plays.

Sanders will play the safety position in Athens, but, when he was at Tucker High School, he played running back, quarterback, receiver, kick return and cornerback to go along with safety. As a running back, Sanders rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a receiver, he led the team with 273 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw for 126 yards and three touchdowns, but defense was his strong point, as he led the team and DeKalb County with eight interceptions.

This isn’t the first time a Sanders has impressed the UGA masses. Dominick is the younger brother of Chris Sanders, who drew similar praise as a freshman three years ago. The elder Sanders got hampered by injuries his freshman year and was dismissed from the team the following February for a theft incident that involved Sanford Seay and current Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall.

But if Dominick Sanders is able to stay healthy and keep his nose clean, he will have a great chance to see some playing time this season. The only two safeties on the roster that have significant experience are Corey Moore and Quincy Mauger. And new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has made it clear that true and redshirt freshmen will be thrown into the fire if they do well in practice.

The question is will Sanders push for a starting spot? Odds are that he will not be part of the starting lineup when the Bulldogs take the field against Clemson. But, if he keeps working, learning and growing, there is no reason he won’t be part of the safety rotation, and that will lead to a chance for him to be a starter in 2015.

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Texas A&M Football Recruiting: 10 Best Aggie Recruits from BCS Era

The BCS era started in 1999, and Texas A&M has signed its fair share of top recruits. The Aggies haven't always been the dominant recruiting power they are now, but they've done well for themselves in the past.

College Station and Kyle Field are great places to be, which is part of the reason why Texas A&M signed a great dual-threat quarterback in 2002. A pair of franchise offensive tackles came in 2010, while a running back in the 1999 class was a good one coming out of high school.

Also, keep in mind this list focuses on recruiting. That means studs like quarterback Johnny Manziel and defensive end Von Miller were left off due to not being top-rated recruits in high school.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.All stats are from Sports-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted. 

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10 Craziest College Football Recruiting Rules

Recruiting is a crazy experience, and college coaches have to abide by a lot of different rules.

There are various restrictions regarding dead periods, quiet periods, evaluation periods, visits, contacts, calls, emails, camps and many other different things that involve college football recruiting.

While many rules in place make sense, several of them can make you scratch your head. It's time to look at some odd recruiting rules that either don't make much sense or are outdated. 

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Alabama Insider Buzz: Ignore Saban, One Bama QB Looks Poised to Lead in 2014

Alabama finally got their chance to take the podium on Day 4 of SEC Media Days. Head coach Nick Saban and his players discussed a variety of topics for the media, including the new look at quarterback for the Crimson Tide this upcoming season.

How does Saban think the QB situation will pan out in 2014? What do the Alabama players think of FSU transfer QB Jacob Coker?

Watch the video to find out.

Highlights courtesy of XOSDigital

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SEC Media Days Buzz: Biggest Stories of Day 4

The final day of 2014 SEC media days is in the books. Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss and Kentucky took center stage on Thursday, as players and coaches fielded questions from the media.

Watch Bleacher Report SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee break down the biggest stories coming out of Day 4 from Hoover, Alabama, including the two-quarterback situation at Alabama and the maturation of Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

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What You Need to Know About Florida State's New 2017 WR Commit D.J. Matthews

Florida State has frequently recruited athletes after strong freshman seasons during recent years. Jacksonville wide receiver D.J. Matthews is the latest youngster to determine he wants to be a Seminole down the road.

Though the rising sophomore can't formally sign with Florida State until February 2017, he gave his verbal commitment to head coach Jimbo Fisher during a campus visit Thursday. Matthews shared the decision on Twitter:

His recruitment became a nationwide pursuit this spring. Despite a rapidly expanding collection of scholarship offers, Florida State rose to the forefront after offering in early May.

"I committed because I love FSU and how [wide receivers] coach [Lawrence] Dawsey and Jimbo Fisher showed me love," Matthews told Josh Newberg of 247Sports.

The 6'0", 160-pound prospect emerged as a top target at First Coast High School last fall during a journey to the Class 8A state quarterfinals. He finished third on the team with 47 receptions for 624 yards and seven touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

First Coast quarterback De'Andre Johnson committed to Florida State at a similar point in his career. The 2015 prospect pledged to the Seminoles in July 2012, prior to his sophomore season.

"I actually told De'Andre Johnson first," Matthews told 247Sports. "He was happy and said he was proud of me."

Johnson is one of two players in the team's 2015 recruiting class who committed after just one high school campaign. Top-ranked safety Dewin James joined the class in February 2012.

"It was definitely a crazy feeling to commit so early," James told Bleacher Report earlier this month. "Then you see everyone else start to get in the class later. It made me want to recruit other players and make it better."

Matthews is undoubtedly the catalyst of a 2017 class that isn't likely to reach double-digit commitments for perhaps another two years. It's an excellent start for Florida State, which also holds one commitment in its 2016 class (4-star defensive tackle Cedric Wood).

The pass-catcher displayed sensational ball skills as a freshman. Despite a slender frame, Matthews managed to come down with difficult catches in traffic and showed he isn't afraid to fully extend for the football.

He already high-points passes, providing a strong indication that his approach is incredibly advanced for a young receiver. Matthews impressed with smooth route running as a freshman, gaining separation off the line thanks to quality footwork and fluid hips.

His consistency in 2013 was rather staggering for a newcomer on a title-contending team. He caught at least four passes in eight contests, including three straight in the playoffs.

Matthews finished his first postseason with 18 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns. That's an outstanding output for a player who still has significant physical maturation ahead of him.

Florida State beat out several early contenders for his commitment, including LSU, Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee and Miami. Despite his decision, expect teams to keep coming after Matthews with a long stretch separating the talented receiver from signing with the Seminoles.

 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Clemson Football: Areas in Which Tigers Must Improve from 2013

It's a little tougher to find areas that need improvement from a team that won 11 games, but there are certainly areas that Clemson must improve to take its program to the next level. These areas were apparent in certain games such as Florida State and South Carolina, in which the Tigers' weaknesses were exposed to a certain extent.

 

Turnovers in Big Games

This is the most glaring issue for the Tigers as they head into 2014. How well can they control the ball in contests against teams like Florida State and South Carolina?

In the 2013 season-opener versus Georgia, the Tigers only turned the ball over one time, which was on a fumble. The offense played lights out, scoring 38 points, and Tajh Boyd solidified his Heisman candidacy at the time.

However, against Florida State in October, the Tigers turned it over four times thanks to two fumbles and two interceptions. Florida State's defense constantly had pressure on Boyd, who was a measly 17-of-37 passing.

The South Carolina game was even worse, as the Tigers committed six turnovers in a game they could have won. The turnovers were the biggest reason for the loss in that one, something you couldn't necessarily say about the Florida State loss.

With turnovers being such a disappointment in the South Carolina game, the Tigers realize what they have to do in order to win that game.

Does Cole Stoudt offer more optimism in this category than Boyd did a year ago? In 119 career pass attempts, Stoudt has thrown just one interception. Boyd threw 11 last season in 413 pass attempts. These are merely just numbers to guide your thinking, because I realize they don't mean much.

Boyd played some good defenses, and most of Stoudt's attempts have come in garbage time thus far.

This category could be broken down into various sub-categories, or reasons for the turnovers, such as recognizing blitz packages better, etc. We will stick to the basics for now, though, in today's article.

 

Getting the Defense Off the Field

The defense took strides in 2013, continuing to improve under the watch of defensive coordinator Brent Venables. The Tigers had the most tackles for loss in the entire country, but consistency is as important as big plays.

Against Florida State, the Seminoles went 8-of-12 on third downs. South Carolina was 10-of-19 on third downs. These two losses were partly contributed to by not being able to keep their offenses off the field.

In an uptempo offense such as Chad Morris', time of possession is an overrated stat, but Florida State and South Carolina were able to sustain drives against the Tigers defense. A notable drive from the Florida State game saw the Seminoles go 77 yards on 16 plays and eat up almost eight minutes off the clock.

One that stuck out to me from the South Carolina game saw the Gamecocks eat up a little over eight minutes of clock time, going 80 yards on 17 plays.

My point is that the Tigers will need to find better ways to get off the field in these big games. Against Georgia and Ohio State, they were excellent in this category. Now on to the stats that bring optimism for the 2014 season, because that's why you're really reading, right?

The Bulldogs were only 4-of-14 on third downs and Ohio State was 2-of-13. Through blitz packages and key turnovers, the Tigers were able to get the ball back to Boyd and the offense in both of these games.

Both Georgia and Ohio State were able to put up a high amount of total yards, but stops on third down were huge.

 

Predictions for These Areas in 2014

The Tigers should be improved in both of these categories this season. While Stoudt doesn't figure to be as explosive as Boyd was with the big plays, I feel comfortable that he will throw less than 11 interceptions this year.

As for getting off the field, the Tigers front seven played lights-out against Ohio State. Heck, they played lights-out against South Carolina as well, when they shut down Mike Davis, but they weren't able to contain Connor Shaw. I expect this front seven to control the line of scrimmage. Teams will have to go to the air more on third-down situations, and this Clemson secondary is very underrated.

With an improving secondary, and a defensive line that is getting scarier for opposing offenses by the minute, getting off the field and not allowing teams to sustain drives will get better this year.

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Best and Worst Dressed from 2014 SEC Media Days

Now that SEC media days are over and the college football season has unofficially "begun," we can all take a step back and acknowledge the event for what it is: a more macho, sport-themed version of Comic Con.

And as is the case at Comic Con—another event where famous people hold panels, and thousands of fans and media types listen—the outfits are a unique part of the spectacle and end up being just as fun to talk about as any sort of news that might get broken.

So embracing that tradition (while also bearing in mind that I am a sports blogger—i.e., I do not know the first thing about fashion), let's take a look at some of the best- and worst-dressed parties from the week spent in Hoover, Alabama.

Fortunately, there were more of the former than the latter.

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Nebraska Football: Huskers' Biggest Trap Games in 2014

Head coach Bo Pelini and Nebraska football are familiar with trap games. The Cornhuskers have fallen victim to them before and the 2014 season presents new opportunities for the team to fall victim to them once again.

But what exactly is a trap game?

It's a difficult concept to define, according to Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders. Kevin Meers of The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective summed it up best as "the mushy understanding that sometimes good teams lose to bad teams when they have a 'bigger' game against a better opponent the following week."

When it comes to the 2014 season, Nebraska does have trap games that could derail an otherwise successful season quickly.

 

Fresno State (Sept. 13)

At first glance, it wouldn't seem like Fresno State would be a trap game for Nebraska. Following a strong 2013 season, the Bulldogs made it clear the Huskers couldn't rest easy for this game.

After all, Fresno State spent many weeks in the Top 25, while also becoming a BCS threat for a period of time.

However, the big Miami game follows Fresno State. Fans are already talking about the possibility that ESPN's College GameDay will roll into town for the matchup.

The Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel was even writing about the possibility last February.

Needless to say, people are excited for Nebraska and Miami to face off once again. That's what makes Fresno State even more dangerous.

Being on the road for a game that will kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET already presents challenges for the Huskers.

The fact that the Hurricanes will be right on the heels of Fresno State makes this the trap game of the season for Nebraska.

 

Northwestern (Oct. 18)

This likely doesn't feel like a trap game for most 'Husker fans.

After securing a victory against Northwestern at home with a last-minute Hail Mary touchdown pass in 2013, it seems like Nebraska should have the confidence to lock up this win.

However, that Hail Mary is almost the main reason this could be a trap game. Northwestern will be fired up. Plus, the Wildcats will get to host the Huskers on their turf.

The last time Nebraska was in Evanston, Illinois, it barely squeaked out a 29-28 victory.

Moreover, in all honesty, the Huskers haven't had the most impressive showings against Northwestern over the last three years. For whatever reason, the Wildcats seem to get the best of Nebraska.

Nebraska may stack up better against Northwestern in 2014, but the fact that it's a road game following a bye week does the Huskers no favors. This matchup could absolutely fall into the category of a trap game.

 

Rutgers (Oct. 25)

The last time Nebraska played Rutgers, it was 1920 and the Huskers won 28-0. Almost a century later, the two will finally meet again.

Rutgers may not seem like a tough opponent at first glance. In fact, one of the two newest additions to the Big Ten could be an easy victory for the Huskers. It could also quickly turn into a mess if Pelini isn't careful.

Rutgers follows Northwestern, which could test Nebraska. Depending on how that game goes, the Huskers may not be fully focused for the Scarlet Knights.

The good news? Purdue follows Rutgers, so the Huskers shouldn't be too worried about looking forward at that point. However, Wisconsin (at Camp Randall) is two weeks after the Rutgers matchup, so there's a chance Nebraska might start preparing for that well in advance.

If so, Rutgers (and Purdue) could easily be overlooked on the schedule.

There's also the simple fact that this is a new opponent. That would present a challenge to any team.

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Watch Alabama WR Christion Jones Dance in the Middle of SEC Media Days

Alabama senior WR Christion Jones attended SEC Media Days and brought more to the table than just answering a few questions.

After being probed by a reporter to show off his dance moves, Jones proceeded to the center of the room to bust a move.

Watch the video and see the star WR break it down and have some fun at SEC Media Days.

 

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Winners and Losers from 2014 SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. — The circus has packed up and left town, but the four-day extravaganza known as SEC media days was a fun ride along the way.

With an absence of star power on the player side, it was up to the coaches to entertain the nearly 1,300 credentialed members of the media on hand at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in suburban Birmingham.

Who were some of the winners and losers of this year's SEC media days? Our picks are in this slideshow.

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Georgia WR Chris Conley Proclaims Pro Bowl & Oscars in 10 Years

Georgia senior wide receiver Chris Conley is one of the most interesting players in college football. The 6'3", 206-pound Georgia native not only is a star on the gridiron but also has a serious talent for film making and acting as well.

Conley spoke about his talents both on and off the field at SEC media days and made a prediction for what his football and production careers might look like in 10 years.

Watch the video to see some of Conley's fantastic film and listen to others chime in on this talented young man.

Highlights courtesy of XOSDigital.

Film footage courtesy of Chris Conley. You can watch the full film here.

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Biggest Takeaways from Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban's SEC Media Days Presser

Nick Saban took the podium at SEC media days Thursday afternoon, and, as usual, he spoke about a mix of Alabama-specific and comprehensive college football topics.

After a news-filled offseason that included rumors of leaving for Texas, landing another No. 1 recruiting class, lobbying for a rule that would slow down uptempo offenses and fielding questions about the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, Saban finally got to speak again on a national platform, and his appearance did not disappoint.

When he wasn't being drowned out by a mic-adjacent mouth breather, Saban provided a number of useful sound bites.

Here is what we learned from the press conference.

 

Kenyan Drake and Jarran Reed Will Stay on the Team

At first, Saban tried to speak in broad, theoretical terms with regard to player discipline. But it was hard not to think of running back Kenyan Drake and defensive lineman Jarran Reed—both of whom are dealing with legal issues—when he said things like this:

Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News agreed:

You could argue whether Saban was taking a shot at Georgia head coach Mark Richt and Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel—both of whom made some high-profile dismissals (such as Josh Harvey-Clemons and Dorial Green-Beckham) this offseason—but for now, let's focus on what his statements mean for Alabama.

More likely than not, Drake and Reed will have to miss some time but won't see serious recourse (unless things change in their respective legal cases). In fact, Saban went so far as to confirm this once he was done musing about player discipline in general:

This is big for the Tide.

Drake is projected as the third running back behind T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, but he proved he could contribute with 694 rushing yards on 92 carries last season. If Yeldon or Henry goes down with an injury, he will become a big part of the offense. Even if they both stay healthy, he should have a role to play.

Reed, meanwhile, saw time running with the first-team defense during spring practice. Alabama has loads of talent and depth along the defensive line, so it would have been able to stomach his loss. But that Reed was playing over so much talent and depth in the first place speaks to how good he can be.

With West Virginia, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss scheduled to start the season, Alabama could (hopefully) afford as long as a three-game suspension to either of those players. With Florida looming in the fourth game, anything longer would be flirting with trouble.

Saban didn't get specific, but he did make it sound like these would be short instead of long-term disciplinary issues.

And that is a good thing.

 

The Postseason Needs to Change, but Not by Expanding the Playoff

Almost every coach at every power-conference media days will be asked about the College Football Playoff in the next few weeks, and their opinions—like our own—are sure to vary.

But, like it or not, Saban's opinion matters more than most. It's sensational to say Saban "has the ear" of the NCAA higher-ups—that he's some sort of puppet-master who gets through the legislation he wants—but he has proven to have a lucid mind on bigger issues and is someone the movers and shakers respect enough to listen to.

On the topic of CFP expansion—the notion of adding four, 12 or even more teams to the current four-team format—Saban did not sound keen, saying it would push players at certain schools past the "saturation point" whereby they can focus on academics:

Fifteen games is a lot. That is almost a professional schedule (sans playoffs). But even as the college game inches closer and closer to NFL resemblance, these kids cannot shoulder the same workload as those who play football full time. They have other obligations to attend to.

However, that doesn't mean Saban does not want to tweak the postseason. Looping bowl selection into the SEC scheduling debate—refresher course: The league decided to stay with an eight-game conference schedule, much to Saban's dismay—he said the NCAA should look into changing the six-win rule for bowl eligibility:

Specifically, he suggested having the CFP selection committee choose all of the bowls (instead of just the six CFP bowls), much like the selection committee for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament:

Ostensibly, choosing who makes the postseason on overall merit instead of a context-lacking baseline would encourage teams to schedule harder games.

Playing FCS cupcakes is sensible so long as getting to six wins is mandatory, but it would shine a negative light without many positives if five (or even four) wins would work just as well.

The logistics would need some tweaking, but, on principle, this is not the worst idea in the world. Is it likely to happen, though?

That's a different question.

 

Jacob Coker Still Needs to Win the Quarterback Job

You can file this one under "coach speak." Or at least I think you can. Still, it would be remiss not to touch on Jacob Coker, the Florida State transfer whom many think will win the starting quarterback position.

Despite the prevailing opinion that Coker will beat out Blake Sims for the job, Saban reiterated that the team feels differently:

When asked by Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee to talk about Coker as a player, he even changed the topic to Sims:

All of this makes sense. I'm not even sure it constitutes a "takeaway," since the answers were so predictable. Coker still hasn't practiced with the team, so it would be heresy for a coach to say he's the favorite (or worse, that he's already earned the job). It would not be fair to the players who have poured their sweat onto the field.

Still, no matter what Saban says, people are going to peg this as Coker's job until seeing otherwise. Actions speak louder than words, and Sims' last action was an ugly performance in the A-Day game.

We will see in a month or so whether this means anything.

 

Saban Never Discussed the Texas Job

Saban was asked directly about the head coaching vacancy at Texas this offseason, and he confirmed that he never had any contact with the university and that he plans on finishing his career in Tuscaloosa:

Take this with a grain of salt if you must.

Saban said the same kind of things to the Miami media before leaving the Dolphins to join Alabama in the first place. Like a mistress who eventually becomes a wife, Alabama fans can never entirely trust what comes out of Saban's mouth regarding other coaching positions. Given how they got their own start together, doing so would be myopic.

Still, Saban sounded forthright—or at least as forthright as he possibly can—in dismissing the Texas claims. Given the rumors that the Longhorns were willing to pay him a $100 million salary, as Paul Finebaum claims in his upcoming book (h/t Bob Carlton of AL.com), it feels safe to say that Saban is committed to the program.

And, really, why wouldn't he be?

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Texas A&M Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from SEC Media Days

SEC media days are now completed. The annual event did offer some interesting insight into some of the developments around the Texas A&M football program and how the program is perceived.

Typically head coaches attend media day without having seen their team since spring practice. This is the first year that coaches can participate in the summer workouts, so they have a better grasp of where their team stands.

It also allows them to get an early look at the incoming freshman class and how ready they are to contribute in the upcoming season. This means that the coaches have more to share than simply a rehashing of what happened during spring practice.

This is a look at some interesting quotes and takeaways from the 2014 SEC media days.  

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Five Unheralded Players That Will Be Crucial to the Blue Devils' Success

The Duke Blue Devils return many players from last season’s spectacular run. Quarterback Anthony Boone, running back Josh Snead and wide receiver Jamison Crowder are all back as seniors to try and make a third straight bowl appearance.

While those three players in particular are familiar names, some less obvious players will need to step up if the Blue Devils are going to repeat the success of the previous two seasons.

The five players that follow, though lesser known to football fans, will all be integral to Duke’s fortunes this season. They’ll be responsible for doing the unheralded dirty work, expanding Duke’s offensive threat or mitigating the problems facing a potentially weak defensive.

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