NCAA Football News

College Football QBs Who Could Shock World by Starting Week 1

The projected starting quarterback at the start of fall camp does not always win the job by the end of fall camp.

Last year, for example, Blake Bell was favored to win the starting job at Oklahoma after serving as the short-yardage quarterback behind Landry Jones in 2012 and 2011. But a redshirt freshman named Trevor Knight swept the coaches off their feet in August and took the first snap of the season against UL-Monroe.

This year, there are numerous candidates to pull off the same sort of upset as Knight did. If the season started today, they probably wouldn't hear their numbers called, but they have the talent and the opportunity to change that in the next three weeks.

Sometimes that is an indictment of the players projected ahead of them; other times it's an endorsement of the backup. In most cases, it's a varied combination of the two.

This list includes all of the above.

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Missouri's Evan Boehm Takes a Football to the Crotch

Most offensive lineman are accustomed to giving snaps, not taking them. Missouri junior Evan Boehm probably agrees with that sentiment.

During a Tigers practice, Boehm unsuspectingly takes a shot to the crotch after a teammate fires a football back to him.

This, in all likelihood, will be the last time the junior will be taking a snap.

Someone get this man some ice.

[Tyler Boehm, h/t College Spun]


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Florida Coach Will Muschamp Hand-Delivers Season Tickets to Lifelong Gator Fans

Peggy and Doug Zant recently got a surprise of a lifetime.

These lifelong Florida Gator fans were rewarded for their loyalty when head coach Will Muschamp hand-delivered their season tickets for the upcoming year.

Peggy's reaction to seeing the Florida coach is absolutely priceless.

Muschamp was then nice enough to hang out with the Zants in their living room to personally thank them for their dedication.

Classy move.

[Florida Gators. h/t Yahoo! Sports]

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Michigan Football and Adidas Unveil New TECHFIT Uniform

Michigan and Adidas unveiled the new “Go Blue” TECHFIT football uniform that the Wolverines will wear versus Penn State on October 11th.

What makes this uniform unique is that it will be the first head-to-toe blue look in school history.

More from the folks at Adidas:

The jersey and pants feature metallic blue, laser-cut stripes that shine under the lights while ultra-light, no-sew metallic numbers stretch with the jersey, and the compression base layer features the Michigan “M” on the bicep and "GO BLUE" across the chest.

[Adidas]

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Federal Judge Rules Against NCAA in O'Bannon Trial

College athletes earned a major victory in the courtroom when a federal judge decided the NCAA cannot prohibit payment to players.

Steve Berkowitz of USA Today provides the details:

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, in a 99-page ruling in favor of a group of plaintiffs led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, issued an injunction that will prevent the NCAA "from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid."

You can view the entire decision online, courtesy of USA Today. The plaintiff's case, led by Ed O'Bannon, argued that players should be paid when their likeness is used, whether that includes video games, jersey sales or other uses.

The NCAA released a statement after the decision:

“We disagree with the Court's decision that NCAA rules violate antitrust laws. We note that the Court's decision sets limits on compensation, but are reviewing the full decision and will provide further comment later. As evidenced by yesterday’s Board of Directors action, the NCAA is committed to fully supporting student-athletes.”

– NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy

CBS Sports' Jon Solomon quotes the judge on her ruling that says the NCAA is prohibited from "enforcing any rules to prevent its member schools and conferences from offering to deposit a limited share of licensing revenue in trust for their FBS football and Division I basketball recruits, payable when they leave school or their eligibility expires."

In this scenario, the players could receive payment after their time at school comes to an end, whether that is due to graduation or other reasons.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports notes there will likely be appeals to counter the decision by Wilken:

However, Randy Getlin of Yahoo Sports agrees that this is an important moment that will alter college athletics:

This decision comes just one day after the NCAA announced it would give more power to its five richest conferences. According to The Associated Press, the NCAA Board of Directors voted 16-2 to give the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC the ability to write some of their own rules.

As ESPN's Jeff Goodman points out, this will cause the NCAA to lose even more power going forward:

If this ruling stands, it becomes the first step toward paying college athletes. This has long been a point of contention regarding the NCAA, with some players even attempting to form unions

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Wisconsin Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

As the calendar flips to August, it's finally time for football season—almost.  Through the first four days of fall camp, the Wisconsin football team is progressing a bit ahead of schedule in some spots and lagging far behind in others.  

Turning over their entire front seven and replacing two of the best in school history (Jared Abbrederis and Chris Borland) will lead to some inevitable growing pains.  Let's go through the biggest observations from the first week of fall camp.

 

There's still very much a quarterback competition

In an effort to have everyone see as many reps as possible, head coach Gary Andersen ran the team as a split squad, with half the guys going in the morning sessions and the other half practicing in the afternoons.  In the morning sessions, the starters typically practiced while the afternoons saw more of the backups and freshmen.

Joel Stave played with the ones on Monday and Wednesday, with Tanner McEvoy getting the majority of the reps with the ones on Tuesday and Thursday.  Through the first four days of practice, it looks like Stave has taken the driver's seat in the quarterback competition though it's still very early in the process.

Tuesday's practice was closed to the media, so McEvoy could have shined, but no one was there to see it other than the coaching staff.  With that in mind, some of these numbers may be a bit skewed.

On Wednesday, the first day with shoulder pads, McEvoy and Bart Houston, likely the third- or fourth-string quarterback, took all of the live reps.  According to Rexford Sheild of Bucky's 5th Quarter, McEvoy unofficially went 7-of-14 with two interceptions while Houston went 5-of-8.

On Thursday, according to Benjamin Worgull of Badger Nation, it was Stave and Houston who took the live reps.  Stave went 5-of-10 in the seven-on-seven portion of practice with two touchdowns while Houston went 1-of-4.  In 11-on-11, Stave went 4-of-8 while Houston went 0-of-2.

So what can we gleam from these numbers?  Not a lot. 

Houston is two heads and shoulders below Stave and McEvoy, but we all knew that going into fall camp anyway.  Furthermore, Houston isn't planning on transferring, per Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin, despite seeing his window of opportunity to see meaningful snaps rapidly shrink.

Per Worgull, "Andersen admitted that it was tough to gauge the play of both Stave and junior Tanner McEvoy since he believed it was easier to have success during the morning practices with the veteran offensive line and skill position players."

 

There is still very much a kicking competition

Three men entered, three remain.  After Monday's practice, it looked like true freshman Rafael Gaglianone should be the one to beat, going 5-of-5 on his attempts, including makes from 39, 44 and 49 yards.

But incumbent starter Jack Russell's first day was nothing to bark at, either.  Russell went 3-of-3 on the first day, hitting from 21, 39 and 49 yards.  Throwing more confusion into the mix was that last year's kickoff specialist Andrew Endicott also hit all three of his field-goal attempts from the same distances as Russell.

During Wednesday's practice, according to Sheild, it was Endicott who hit all three of his attempts from 28, 45 and 59 yards away while Gaglianone hit two of three, with his attempt from the 41-yard line coming up short and going left.

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, as Gaglianone appears to be the long-term answer for the team with a powerful leg and consistency that Russell has yet to show.  Gaglianone also appears to have the edge over Endicott, who seems like the third horse in this race, albeit one that has certainly shown why he is still in the running.

 

Who will be the backup nose guard?

If you thought Warren Herring was important on this year's defense because he is one of a small number of guys with any experience, you would be correct.  But somehow, he may be even more important now than he was at this point last week.

After the departure of backup nose guard Bryce Gilbert, everyone knew that someone would need to step up in his stead.  Finding that replacement has been like pulling teeth for the coaching staff, as no one seems to be ready to play real minutes at this point.

Andersen said, per Worgull:

We've talked about Warren playing a lot of snaps. Right now Warren would have to play every snap, which is a concern. Who is going to come in at the nose guard spot?

We have a ways to go and that worried me ... When I say physically not ready, I would say with the technique (we're) not ready (and) definitely an issue.

Behind Herring is sophomore Arthur Goldberg and true freshmen Jeremy Patterson and Conor Sheehy, none of whom have looked the part of a FBS nose guard.

While the loss of Beau Allen was big—as the Badgers didn't really have anyone who could fill the massive shoes of Allen, who clocks in at 333 pounds while Herring only weighs 294—they didn't realize such a massive burden would be placed on Herring's shoulders.

Between now and the opening kickoff of their game against LSU, someone between Goldberg, Patterson and Sheehy is going to have to step up, or someone between defensive ends Konrad Zagzebski and Jake Keefer may need to slide over to the nose to give Herring a play or two off.

 

Seven or more true freshmen could play this season

While nose guard may be a problem spot for the Badgers, they have seen some good production out of numerous true freshmen.  In fact, Andersen said that seven true freshmen could see the field this season, according to Worgull.

Going through the freshmen, the first is Michael Deiter.  Deiter, who enrolled early, was one of the standouts in the spring and has looked good throughout the fall.  With likely starting center Dan Voltz sitting out the spring to recover from an injury, Deiter took the first-team snaps as the center and looked the part while doing it.  He will be in line for snaps along the crowded, experienced and talented line.

The next true freshman who should see snaps is Taiwan Deal.  Deal is looking to lock up that coveted third running back spot, which has been a springboard for underclassmen running backs over the past few seasons.

Everyone from Montee Ball to Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement have held that spot in the past few seasons.  Gordon compiled 621 yards on 62 carries as the third running back, and Clement picked up 547 yards on 67 carries in that spot.

Deal is a sturdy 6'0", 216 pounds and runs downhill the way Ball did.  While he could probably stand to bulk up a bit, his physicality certainly makes him a prime candidate to see 50 or so carries this season and step into a larger role as his collegiate career progresses.

Of the receivers, George Rushing, Natrell Jamerson and Krenwick Sanders have each had strong moments throughout the course of the first week of practice.

It was Rushing who made the best impression on Day 1.

On Wednesday, it was Sanders who made the best impression.  Sanders looks to be the most talented of the bunch coming in and definitely has a chance to make a big impact on the program, starting with this season.

For Jamerson, while he may be behind as a receiver, his speed may make him an asset early in his career on special teams.  On Thursday, according to Shield, he was fielding punts from freshman punter P.J. Rosowski.  

While Kenzel Doe's name is written in Sharpie on the depth chart as the lead punt returner, Jamerson could help alleviate some of Doe's return duties to focus on being a starting wide receiver.  With that being said, Abbrederis was able to balance both throughout his career, so Jamerson may not take over until next season.

"Two of the three [true freshmen receivers] need to get on the airplane and fly to the LSU game for us," Andersen said, via The Detroit News, at Big Ten media days prior to the start of fall practice.  "So we'll see how all that boils down."

I would expect Rushing and Sanders to make the trip down unless Jamerson stands out on special teams.  Eventually, I think Jamerson will travel with the team, but it will be interesting to see if he makes the cut by the end of August.

On the defensive side of the ball, one name that has stood out throughout the first week of practice has been D'Cota Dixon.  Dixon will be used as an inside linebacker in some sub packages, according to both starting linebacker Derek Landisch and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.

Furthermore, Dixon picked off Houston during Thursday's practice, a play that caused more than a few heads to turn.

Two more players in the secondary, Austin Hudson and Lubern Figaro, are both in line to see snaps, with Hudson, an early enrollee, fighting for the second starting spot alongside Michael Caputo.

Outside of those eight, Gaglianone has to be in the mix for playing time, and at least one of the two freshmen in the mix for the backup nose guard spot will probably see snaps this season, making 10 or more true freshmen in line for meaningful snaps this season.

 

Other thoughts

Junior college transfer Serge Trezy's status is very much still up in the air.  He has not yet made it to campus, and with every passing day and practice that he misses, it looks like he will likely redshirt and join the team in January.

Last, but not least, the Badgers have a scrimmage set for Sunday, August 10 at 11 a.m. CT.  According to Bucky's 5th Quarter, the scrimmage will run until 12:45 p.m. and is open to the public.  According to Worgull, they will run about 100 plays, and it will be live, with everyone getting hit except running backs Gordon and Clement.

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Texas Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Fall camp is under way for the Texas Longhorns, and while it has not been a great first week, first-year head coach Charlie Strong is not panicking.

"I just like the way we're working. There's still some work to be done," Strong said. "The first week it's still all new to them, and they want to push, push, push. Next week will be the real test. You go into how much drive and passion do they really have and can they go out there each and every day and go back to work."

The Longhorns have many areas that need to be addressed before the season starts. There is a new coaching staff, a new scheme and a lot of youth on the roster. But one of the most pressing concerns is at wide receiver.

 

Shipley Injures Hamstring

Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley hurt his hamstring in the first day of practice, and there is no timetable for his return. This is nothing new for Shipley. He hurt his hamstring in fall camp last year, but he was ready by the time the season started.

But the reason Shipley's injury is more significant this year is a lack of depth. 

Without Shipley, Texas is left with two receivers with game experience in Marcus Johnson and John Harris. Johnson caught 22 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns last season. Harris has just 23 receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns in three years.

Compare those numbers to Shipley's 159 career catches for 1,933 yards and 10 touchdowns, and there is a lot of ground that needs to be covered.

The Longhorns lost two other receivers when Strong dismissed Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders from the team earlier this month.

Sanders started seven games in 2013 and had 37 receptions for 361 yards and a touchdown. He was expected to be a key player for the Longhorns this season.

The Longhorns signed five wide receivers in the 2014 class, and those freshmen are going to be needed, especially if Shipley's injury cuts his playing time.

 

Offensive Line Coming Along

One of the major position concerns for Texas heading into the 2014 season is the lack of experience from the offensive line. The Longhorns entered 2013 with one of the most veteran lines in college football, but 2014 is a different situation.

Aside from senior center Dominic Espinosa, the offensive line has just 10 starts among 11 scholarship athletes. 

But Strong appears to be pleased with the growth he has seen from sophomore Kent Perkins.

"Our whole offensive line is doing a really good job," Strong said. "Perkins is so strong; I think in the weight room, he's the strongest person we have. He's such a big body inside, and he can engulf you. If a guy tries to run inside, he can latch on. If he ever latches on, the defensive linemen don't have a chance."

There is still work that needs to be done from the offensive line, but Strong's comments are the most positive ones he has made about the group since taking the job at Texas.

 

Staff Experiencing the Dorm Life

Strong understands the value of team chemistry on and off of the field, which is why he wants the team to live together in the dorms during fall camp.

"The reason why we stay in the dorms is now we have the whole team around," Strong said.

"It's about teamwork and working together and just getting guys where they can find out who one another really is, because we don't really get that opportunity. A lot of older guys don't get a chance to know who the freshmen are, and now the freshmen can feel comfortable where they can walk into an upperclassman's room and feel good about it."

But it doesn't just end with the student-athletes.

Strong is also requiring his staff to live in the same dorms.

"What? Y'all don't think I stay in the dorms?" Strong said. "There's no suites over there. Our rooms are just the same as the player's rooms. There are two beds, and the bathroom is down the hall. It's good; we need that."

Strong and his staff are using this time to build relationships with the players. 

With only three weeks to go, Strong and the Longhorns still have plenty of work to do before what will certainly be a heavily scrutinized season-opener. 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Maryland Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

Randy Edsall's Terrapins underwhelmed last season as they finished with an overall record of 7-6 and a 3-5 record in the ACC. There will certainly be an adjustment period for the program after leaving the ACC for the Big Ten.

What should fans expect from Maryland in 2014? Watch as B/R's experts examine the team's upcoming season.

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Texas Football 2014: Schedule Breakdown and Predictions

Fans of the Texas Longhorns will see new faces in high-profile positions this season. 

It is doubtful that anybody within the program will command the spotlight more than Charlie Strong in his first year as head coach. Will Strong enjoy a successful season at Texas, or will the Longhorns struggle in 2014? 

Watch as B/R's experts preview the Longhorns ahead of the season.

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Mississippi State Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

Mississippi State encountered an inconsistent season in 2013 but managed to end on a positive note as Dan Mullen's Bulldogs defeated Rice in the Liberty Bowl. The Bulldogs finished the campaign with a 3-5 record within the SEC.

This year, fans will look for Mullen's squad to be more competitive within the conference. Watch as B/R's experts analyze Mississippi State before the 2014 season begins.

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Florida State Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Even in the hottest months of the year, in the "downtime" between the end of spring football and the start of preseason practice, Florida State football players hit the field for intense 7-on-7 practices.

"There were some bloodlettings," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "There is a tremendous competition level around here. Sometimes I had to say, 'Whoa.'"

That's one example of the determination of FSU's players to improve and build on what was accomplished with a national title in 2013. There's no resting-on-their-championship-resume approach. Players simply won't allow themselves to do so.

And that approach has carried over to the first week of preseason practice. FSU returned to the practice field on Monday, and Fisher is pleased with the level of play and intensity.

"The practices are very, very competitive," Fisher said.

Let's take a look at developments from the first four days of practice as we analyze developments with the Seminoles.

 

Freshmen Impressing Early

Fisher said on Monday afternoon that all 28 members of the 2014 signing class have been cleared academically. And Fisher said he's been pleased with the willingness to learn and early performances of the true freshmen.

"I see a lot of these young guys learning," Fisher said. "All of those kids are doing a really nice job. We're throwing a lot at them early."

Dalvin Cook has quickly worked his way into the tailback rotation, writes 247Sports (subscription required). The offensive and defensive linemen have stood out to Fisher, writes Warchant.com's Powell Latimer and Ben Jones (subscription required).

 

Consistency at Receiver

Now in his fifth season as FSU's head coach, Fisher has frequently used the word "consistency," in regards to what he wants to see from a wide receiver.

With FSU needing to find pass-catchers to complement receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary, Fisher knows what he is looking for from a large group of receivers who are vying for playing time following the graduation of Kenny Shaw and the early departure of first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin.

"Consistency," Fisher said. "Guys knowing what to do, where to be and making plays. I've been very pleased with the younger and the older receivers. Not just those young guys—those older guys are doing a real nice job. I want the best players and the most consistent players."

Seniors Scooter Haggins and Christian Green would seem to have an advantage when it comes to consistency—they've been with the program for five years and know the playbook inside and out. 

"With the depth we have, we know somebody is going to play and some may not," Haggins said. "That's what really keeps us hungry."

FSU's heralded receiving class of 5-star Travis Rudolph, 5-star Ermon Lane and 4-star Ja'Vonn Harrison have left an impression on the veterans.

"It's going to come for them because they're talented," Green said. "All of them have great talent. ... It's about learning. You have to be consistent throughout the whole camp and the season. There's going to be ups and downs. You're going to have to be mentally tough enough to handle the ups and downs."

 

Jameis Winston's Improved Mechanics

It may be tough for Jameis Winston to improve—statistically speaking—on his 2013 Heisman Trophy season. Winston threw for 4,057 yards, tossed a school-record 40 touchdown passes and completed 66.9 percent of his passes.

But Fisher said Winston has shown a desire to improve his mechanics, something that could improve his accuracy. 

"He was very anxious to get better fundamentally," Fisher said. "That was what encouraged me. Did a lot of film study, his footwork, his releases. I was very pleased."

FSU's opponents won't be quite as pleased.

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

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Texas Tech Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

In his first season as Texas Tech's head coach, Kliff Kingsbury guided the Red Raiders to an 8-5 overall team record in 2013 but a 4-5 record within the Big 12 Conference.

Texas Tech is now expected to show improvement in Kingsbury's second year at the helm. Will Texas Tech progress or regress this season?

Watch as B/R's experts analyze the Red Raiders before the season begins.

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No. 1 QB of 2016 Malik Henry Announces His Top 4: Where Would He Fit Best?

Malik Henry, the nation’s top quarterback prospect in the 2016 class, trimmed his list of suitors to four finalists, via his Twitter account on Friday. 

Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA will battle it out for the right to land the 5-star passer from Thousand Oaks, California.

One wildcard in his recruitment could be the fact that he’s a two-sport star who doubles as a standout pitcher at Westlake High School. 

As Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation detailed recently, Henry said that while the quality of the baseball program of his eventual choice doesn’t matter, it is critical that the school gives its blessing for him to play both sports at the next level.

With that fact in mind, Jimbo Fisher’s track record with supporting dual-sport athletes may present the best situation for Henry to thrive on the gridiron and on the diamond in college.

The 6’3”, 180-pounder, who camped at Florida State last month, has taken notice of the success current Seminoles star quarterback Jameis Winston has had in Tallahassee in both sports.

"I just had my meeting with Coach Fisher and he told me that he loves two-sport athletes,” Henry mentioned to Elliott. “And he explained how he and [Mike Martin Jr.] are best friends. He has no problem with me playing baseball as long as I establish my position on the football team."

While the dual-sport athlete connection is a feather in the cap for Fisher, another element that could tip the scales in favor of FSU is the fact its offense is the most pro-friendly of Henry's final suitors.

“With Florida State, they probably have the most pro-style offensive approach of all his finalists,” said Yogi Roth—who worked out Henry at the Santa Monica Nike Football Training Camp in January. “I could see him playing there as well. They like playing from the shotgun and using three-wide receiver sets while still being able to run the ball.”

Roth, who also doubles as an analyst for Pac-12 Network, came away impressed with Henry’s potential as one of the nation’s most gifted passers in the 2016 class:

In the few times I’ve been around him, he’s always struck me as a guy who has had that laser-like focus. What coaches are looking for now at the college level is a kid who has the capability to do that. He clearly does. Then you look at his attributes and he’s off the charts with those. He can make every throw. He’s a dynamic athlete. He’s a high-level competitor. I think he’s a guy that loves to compete, and he loves to do whatever it takes to get better.

One potential deterrent for FSU is the fact that they have three commitments from top-rated quarterbacks in its 2015 class—with two of those coming from a pair of 4-star passers last week. However, Roth cautioned that each school’s depth chart shouldn’t factor in heavily to Henry’s choice.

“Every one of those places, he’s going to have an Elite 11 or an All-American quarterback in front of him,” Roth said. “All of those places are good at developing quarterbacks. He’s going to have to compete regardless of where he goes, and I don’t think that will be a problem for him.”

While each school has elements that are appealing to Henry, the Seminoles appear to present the strongest case in helping him thrive as a two-sport athlete in college.

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oregon Ducks Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Oregon opened 2014 fall camp this week with plenty of outside expectations. 

The same week the Ducks hit the field in preparation for the coming campaign, AthlonSports.com published assessments of each Pac-12 team as told anonymously by the conference's coaches. Reviews of Oregon were glowing. 

"Unstoppable," "best team in the league" and "most explosive" were some of the evaluations offered. But according to head coach Mark Helfrich, all praise lavished on the Ducks now is meaningless until proven on the field. 

That's just one of the storylines setting the stage for Oregon's first week of practice—part of which Helfrich was mic'd up for as part of Pac-12 Networks' tour around fall camps. 

Development of the Ducks wide receiving corps is another subplot of particular interest in the coming weeks. Gone is 2013 leader Josh Huff, and the loss of Bralon Addison to a knee injury in April compounded Oregon's need for new contributors to step up. 

Dwayne Stanford looks ready to make the leap—literally. GoDucks.com editor Rob Moseley tweeted the below image, captured by Eric Evans, of Stanford making an incredible, jumping reception. 

Stanford impressed offensive coordinator Scott Frost, who talked about the redshirt sophomore's potential with Matt Prehm of 247Sports

It'd be hard to come up with a comparison right away, but Dwayne has elite hands. I mean, he's got big...hands and catches everything. It was a shame to see him go down [to injury in 2013], but he's coming back and he's definitely in the mix.

So who else is in mix at wide receiver? According to quarterback Marcus Mariota, Addison could be in the rotation much earlier than expected.

Mariota told Sports Illustrated that Addison's "goal is Michigan State." 

That seems ambitious given Addison suffered his knee injury in mid-April. However, the Ducks quarterback said Addison "looks good." 

"I’m excited. Hopefully he gets ready for that second game," Mariota said. 

With or without Addison, the Ducks passing game should see considerable improvement in the performance of its tight ends. Position coach Tom Osborne offered lofty praise of the group Thursday, per 247Sports

I think we've got four guys that are pretty good. Media guys always forget Koa Ka'ai. Koa Ka'ai really, really improved in the spring. He made great strides in the spring. I think we have four guys that can play for us.

Osborne's assessment is in line with Mariota's from Pac-12 media days. There, the quarterback called Ka'ai "a leader of the tight end position." 

Along with Evan Baylis, Pharaoh Brown and Johnny Mundt—all of whom saw meaningful action in 2013—Ka'ai gives Oregon an intriguing new dimension to the already potent offense.  

Another new dimension to Oregon's offensive arsenal is the addition of freshman running back Royce Freeman. The big power back is a fit for a new attitude the Ducks are embracing, and his playmaking ability is immediately turning heads. 

Thomas Tyner capped spring with an impressive scrimmage, and Freeman is generating buzz in preseason camp. But Byron Marshall, Oregon's top returning rusher, continues to grind out of the spotlight. 

Marshall told Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal that he is motivated coming off his 1,038-yard, 14-touchdown campaign. 

"It's not my job to really care what other people say, [but] it does make me work that much harder," he said. 

Oregon's defensive line prepares for 2014 with some similar motivation. The Ducks replaced 2013 starters Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi. Alex Balducci joins Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner on the revamped defensive line.

Balducci talked with CSNNW.com's Aaron Fentress about the unit's focus for the coming season, saying it "lacked attention to detail" a season ago. 

Stopping the run is among those crucial plot points for Oregon heading into the new campaign. Perhaps the defense can take inspiration from the lyrics of new honorary Duck Tom Petty's 1989 hit, "I Won't Back Down." 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics compiled via CFBstats.com

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West Virginia Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia Mountaineers struggled last year without the services of quarterback Geno Smith.

Now in his fourth year at the helm, Holgorsen will be expected to improve upon last year's 2-7 record within the Big 12 Conference.

Will he succeed or fail?

Watch as B/R's experts discuss West Virginia before the 2014 season begins.

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Alabama Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban’s point was so strong, he wanted to make it twice.

He made his bold statement once last Friday at the start of fall camp, and then again two days later: “The time is now to resurrect the identity of the Alabama football program.”

That’s been the theme so far after the first week of fall camp and will likely be the theme continuing into the 2014 season.

The Crimson Tide have plenty of question marks and storylines this fall. The stock report will hit on the major happenings from fall camp each week and give an update on some position battles and other developments.

Here’s your recap of Week 1.

 

Attitude adjustment

For most programs, two losses, including one in a BCS bowl, would hardly qualify as anything needing “resurrecting,” but Saban and Alabama have set a championship-or-bust standard.

To hear the veteran players talk about last season, you might think Alabama was 2-11 last year instead of 11-2.

“That’s my first time being 11-2 at Alabama, but it was heartbreaking losing those two games,” said safety Landon Collins, a rising junior. “It was hard seeing those guys I look up to, those seniors I look up to that were great players, and we couldn’t thank them with a championship ring or a ring at all. It was heartbreaking.”

After reports of complacency started in 2013 before the season even began, players have said that there’s a different feel heading into 2014.

“I feel like our team is positive,” linebacker Denzel Devall said. “I feel like we're going out there, and we all got the right mindset, we want to win a championship. I feel like we're going out there each and every day with a chip on our shoulder and striving to get better.”

 

Suspensions, injuries shake up defense

Things have been relatively quiet on the offensive front personnel-wise thus far, outside of an injured foot for guard Leon Brown that has kept him from practicing so far.

Not so on defense.

Linemen Jarran Reed and Brandon Ivory, along with linebacker Tim Williams were suspended to start fall camp. Lineman A’Shawn Robinson sustained a sprained knee and has missed the last three days of practice. And linebacker Trey DePriest, expected to be the veteran signal-caller in the middle, has what Saban calls a “very, very minor” injury that has limited what he can do so far.

Reed and Ivory have since been reinstated, and they will be full-speed with the rest of the team after a five-day acclimation period that began on Thursday. Saban said they will be cautious on Robinson, but it is nothing that will keep him out of the opener.

Meanwhile, Williams has still been absent.

There’s been some good news in the injury department, though. Cornerback Eddie Jackson, who sustained a knee injury in the spring that required major surgery, is practicing and moving around much more than you would expect someone four weeks out of surgery to be. There is optimism that he could get game action sooner rather than later this year.

 

Kiffin installing offense

The Lane Kiffin show is here, and it is real.

While Kiffin, Alabama's new offensive coordinator, had the spring to begin to school players on his terminology and new system, things have ramped up in the fall with specific installs and schematic teaching.

“His experience and knowledge is beneficial for all of us,” tight end Brian Vogler said. “If I do something, if I make a wrong read, he tells me why it was wrong as opposed to just yelling at me and saying ‘you’re wrong.’ He says why you’re wrong. You should have done this instead of this. This is how you should read it. His knowledge is just helping us out tremendously.”

Kiffin had his first and only media availability of the season on Sunday, and already it seems Saban’s influence is rubbing off on him.

Kiffin was also clear that he wasn’t coming in to reinvent something that has already had success.

“As far as the offense, the last thing we'd want to do is come in and change a bunch of stuff,” Kiffin said. “As I mentioned before, it's a great offensive staff that's been together here. Had a great run here last year on offense, the number of players had great success last year. Really just coming in and looking at some things. Very small changes just to make sure at the end of the day we're putting our great players in the best position to utilize their talents in the best position for us to win games.”

 

Freshmen standing out

A couple of freshmen are already making names for themselves, largely on defense where the aforementioned injuries and suspensions have given some guys extra reps.

Saban named defensive tackle Josh Frazier, listed at 6’3”, 335 pounds, as a freshman who benefited from the defensive line shuffling. He already very much looks the part.

Cornerback Tony Brown continues to build on his strong spring and has emerged as a candidate for a starting corner job. Fellow 5-star recruit Marlon Humphrey is getting his feet under him as well.

At linebacker, right tackle Austin Shepherd named a couple of guys who are causing problems already.

“Rashaan Evans is really fast,” Shepherd said. “He’s got really good speed off the edge. Same with Christian Miller. He’s one of those slim guys who has a ton of speed. Those two guys have really stuck out a lot to me.”

Evans was a 5-star outside linebacker from Auburn, Alabama, whom the Crimson Tide pulled out of their in-state rivals' backyard.

On offense, 5-star Cam Robinson continues to take first-team reps at left tackle and appears poised to start there against West Virginia.

 

No clear word on quarterback battle

Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is suited up and right in the mix in Alabama’s quarterback battle...and that’s about all we know at this point.

Coaches and teammates have pretty much stuck to the party line until this point, that Coker and redshirt senior Blake Sims are both good quarterbacks and the best one will win the job.

Coker appears to have the strong arm that many touted him for when his transfer was announced, but the nerves are apparent, as he sailed a few throws early in camp. As August progresses, and he gets more comfortable in the system and working with his pass-catchers, coaches will be able to get a better feel for what they’ll get from him in a game.

Sims, meanwhile, continues to be the steady option he has been the last few years. His feet give him a dynamic that Alabama quarterbacks haven’t really had before under Saban, but his accuracy and awareness remain his biggest weaknesses.

We should get a little bit of an update after Saturday's scrimmage, the first one of the fall.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from cfbstats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly Shows Up to Practice on a Horse

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has the money to buy a nice car, but he decided to show up to Friday's practice on a horse.

Based on what we know about Kelly, there's probably a good reason behind the idea.

[Notre Dame Athletics, h/t Sports Illustrated]

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USC Trojans Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Kickoff in a new era of USC football is one week closer, with the Trojans capping their first round of fall camp Friday. 

"A good starting point," is how cornerback Josh Shaw described the opening of practice to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

Practices started at Howard Jones Field Monday through Wednesday, then moved to the Coliseum on Thursday night. First-year head coach Steve Sarkisian opened camp with spectators welcome part of the time, music and a frenetic pace

Operating with a roster of almost 20 fewer players than most Football Bowl Subdivision programs, USC avoided losing more of its ranks to injury. But the Trojans did not come out of the first week of practices unscathed.  

The passing attack lost a potential contributor this week when tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was ruled academically ineligible, per USC's official athletic Twitter account:  

Cope-Fitzpatrick shined in spring practices as the Trojans' only available scholarship tight end. Randall Telfer was injured, and 4-star signee Bryce Dixon had not yet arrived on campus.

Cope-Fitzpatrick's departure means a much steeper learning curve for Dixon, but Telfer told Michael Lev of the Orange County Register he's prepared to take the freshman under his wing.

"He’s a great athlete. He’s got so much potential. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do for us this year," Telfer said.

 Two more freshmen hit the ground running in the first week of preseason workouts. Five-star recruits Adoree' Jackson and John "JuJu" Smith made the most of their first opportunities in cardinal and gold.  

The duo even went head-to-head, as Scout.com's Gerard Martinez captured via Twitter:  

The two most highly rated prospects of the Trojans' 2014 signing class are making an immediate impact that's catching the attention of their new teammates.

"JuJu Smith, Adoree' Jackson, these true freshmen are out here balling," wide receiver Darreus Rogers told Sarah Bergstrom for USCTrojans.com. "It makes everyone have to step their game up a notch."

Sarkisian is also watching their production closely—in part to avoid overworking them. The coaching staff is evaluating their abilities on both sides of the ball, particularly Jackson. Sarkisian told the Los Angeles Times that keeping Jackson's plate full without overwhelming the newcomer is key.  

We've done everything in moderation, really counted his reps, so we know exactly what he's doing in every phase. If you look at sheer number of reps, his reps aren't more, necessarily, than other guys but it is a lot mentally.

Fellow freshman Toa Lobendahn continued his progress from a standout spring, remaining with the first-string offensive line.

Lobendahn was one of five early-enrollee freshmen from the 2014 signing class and made the most of his immediate opportunity. He talked to 247Sports' Scott Schrader about this performance thus far and his fit at USC. 

Like Lobendahn, cornerback Chris Hawkins impressed coaches before camp. Sarkisian sang the redshirt freshman's praises at last month's Pac-12 media days, saying "Hawkins had a really good spring."  

Hawkins is parlaying that good spring into a possible Week 1 start. With Kevon Seymour out, Hawkins is in the first-team rotation, via Ryan Abraham of USCFootball.com:

With Lamont Simmons also impressing in the first week of practices, the Trojans are looking at potentially going into Week 1 with a very deep secondary. 

USC's linebacker corps features a new name, though not a new face. Scott Felix, formerly Scott Starr, changed his name to his father's this week, per USC's official athletics Twitter account:

The 2014 season also brings changes to USC's longtime home, the Coliseum. Via USCTrojans.com on Thursday, the university announced plans to "enhance the fan experience." 

While these changes primarily entail new concession options and minor facilities upgrades, one new feature of note is that Sarkisian will participate in interviews before and after the game, as well as halftime, aired on the Coliseum's video board.   

That's quite the departure from the days of 29-second press conferences. 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com composite scores.

 

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What NCAA's Power-5 Autonomy Ruling Means for Notre Dame

You can ruin a good thing. 

So while on paper, the NCAA's approved restructuring to give the power-five conferences autonomy over their own governance makes sense, it also pushes us closer to the end of college sports as we know it.

Hailed as progress, the restructuring (best described here by colleague Ben Kercheval) will firmly illustrated the distinct line in the sand between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in the ever-changing world of collegiate athletics.

At Notre Dame, it pulls one of the most high-profile—and deep-pocketed—athletic departments in two distinctly different directions. Join the arms race, or risk drifting even further out to sea.

For Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick, it's just another move on a chessboard that needs constant evaluating. Swarbrick has already adeptly navigated conference realignment, relocating Notre Dame's sports to the Atlantic Coast Conference while keeping the football team independent.

He also made sure Notre Dame kept its door to the College Football Playoff open, serving as the driving force behind the construct of the four-team playoff and working with SEC commissioner Mike Slive in an unlikely partnership that helped seal the deal.

On paper, the ruling is being heralded as a success, a key concession made by the bureaucratic glacier known as the NCAA. 

"I am immensely proud of the work done by the membership. The new governance model represents a compromise on all sides that will better serve our members and, most importantly, our student-athletes," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "These changes will help all our schools better support the young people who come to college to play sports while earning a degree."

Used for good, this governance means additional benefits to student-athletes. Full cost-of-attendance scholarships, stipends to help students and even extended health care and four-year scholarships are being bandied about.

That's how Slive views the decision (not all that surprisingly), as he talked to Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel:

I know there’s angst amongst some of our colleagues in Division I, but I think those are fears that are really not necessary. This is not about competition. We’re pretty competitive. We don’t need to create additional advantages for competitive purposes. We don’t need to create additional advantages for our ability to generate revenue.

What we want to do simply and solely -- and the cynics have a hard time accepting this -- is to create a system that benefits student-athletes.

Of course, not everybody agrees. Not even some head coaches in the power conferences. 

Randy Edsall, new to the Big Ten as he brings Maryland to the conference for the 2014 season, thinks like a lot of others do

"I think it’s one step closer to the five conferences splitting off,” Edsall told a group of assembled media, according to CSNBaltimore.com  "I really do, but again I think there’s bigger issues now that you have that in terms of who is really going to take charge of what’s best for football.

"Yeah, you have this autonomy, but now what are we going to do with that to get the collegiate model, you know, the way it should be or back to where it was?"

Edsall is new in Big Ten country, building his reputation in the Big East, a conference better known for basketball, so maybe Jim Delany hasn't won him over yet. 

But Kansas State's Bill Snyder didn't bite his tongue either, the 74-year-old coach with his name on the side of the Wildcats' newly renovated stadium, calling it how he saw it

"It's no longer about education," Snyder said, according to CBSSports.com. "We've sold out to the cameras over there, and TV has made its way, and I don't fault TV. I don't fault whoever broadcasts games. They have to make a living and that's what they do, but athletics—that's it. It's sold out."

Snyder's observation isn't a new one. At this point, selling out in college sports is like MySpace. It's been around so long that we're not even sure if it exists anymore. 

For Irish fans wondering what to make of the ruling, there should be comfort in the fact that this isn't new news to Swarbrick. He talked about this ruling as an inevitability back in May, telling the South Bend Tribune's Eric Hansen that the change is a good one

I think the concept of autonomy is absolutely a good thing, because it reflects there are growing differences in the models among the members of the NCAA. Difference has been reflected over the years by different divisions, right? Division I is different than II is different than III. Well within Division I there are now increasing differences.

And this is a way that allows you to keep the division intact, but recognize those differences, so I think it’s a very creative solution. And I think it’s the right solution.

When reached by Mandel earlier today for comment, Swarbrick said essentially the same thing, reminding all of us that consensus isn't all that easy to find among 65 different athletic departments. 

"People assume a measure of unity that doesn’t exist," Swarbrick told Mandel. "There’s no clear position [among the 65] on some of the key issues. That doesn’t mean we won’t reach solutions. I absolutely believe we will. But the notion that that’s already happened, that we’ve got clear consensus on legislation that is queued up and ready to go—we’re not there yet."

From the sounds of it, one place where the Irish already stand in the minority is over scheduling. ESPN's Brett McMurphy polled the head coaches of the power-five conferences, with almost half of them (46 percent) in favor of playing exclusively power-five opponents. 

Brian Kelly was one of just 23 coaches that was against it. 

Even though Notre Dame has never played an FCS team and plays almost exclusively Power Five opponents already, Irish coach Brian Kelly said he would be against it if it meant no longer playing Navy.

Kelly said removing Navy from Notre Dame's schedule would be "a deal-breaker." Even with teams playing tougher schedules, Kelly said he doesn't favor teams with losing records playing in bowls.

That the Irish didn't feel like giving up one of college football's most important rivalries wasn't surprising. Nor was it surprising that most head coaches have forgotten about things like tradition and rivalry, too laser-focused on winning a conference title, or doing whatever it takes to keep their multimillion-dollar job. 

But as the NFL continues to find ways to become bigger and bigger, it's worth remembering that most of us that love their football on Saturdays don't watch the college game because it's a better product.

We watch because it's a game where tradition and loyalty have embedded themselves, passed down (sometimes begrudgingly) through generations. 

We believe the Rose Bowl is still the granddaddy of them all. That New Year's Day was made for college football. And more specific to Irish fans, we believe that whatever the odds, old Notre Dame will win over all. 

That's the mystique college football risks losing with this pronounced separation. It's the same one that gutted great high school events like the single-class basketball tournament in Indiana or the boys hockey tournament in Minnesota. 

In 10 years, we could be looking at a different college game. A sport that could erase games like Appalachian State's historic win at the Big House. Or Boise State's BCS-crashing victory over Oklahoma. Maybe eventually the opportunity for an independent Notre Dame to play for a College Football Playoff Championship.  

Sure, on paper, Thursday's news makes a ton of sense. It just doesn't make it a good thing. 

 

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