SportsNet - July 2012
Oregon comes into the 2012 season as one of the most athletic teams in the nation. Chip Kelly has been an offensive guru since becoming the Head Coach before the 2009 season. Oregon has gone 34-6 overall, 26-2 conference record, in Kelly's first three seasons. They have won the Pac-10 (now Pac-12 after last season) all three years. Oregon won the Rose Bowl last season, and Kelly helped Oregon get to the BCS National Championship in 2010.
Kelly will depend heavily on diminutive sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas this year. As a true freshman, Thomas rushed for 595 yards on only 55 carries, which averages out to a ridiculous 10.8 yards/carry and seven touchdowns. He also had 605 yards receiving and nine receiving touchdowns. He also had two more touchdowns as a kick returner and is one of the most explosive special team players in the country. Thomas' shared Offensive Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors with Marquise Lee. In the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, Thomas showed how explosive he can be. He had two carries for 155 yards and two TD's.
Despite the losses of Dont'a Hightower and Heisman Trophy winner Trent Richardson, Alabama has their leader returning in head coach Nick Saban. It is hard to argue against him not being the best coach in the country. He has three BCS National Championship rings, two with Alabama and one with LSU. Saban is already one of the best coaches in the history of the game and he still has a long way to go. Alabama lost a ton of talent to the next level, but they had the top recruiting class in 2012, to go along with some very good players returning.
Junior quarterback, A.J. McCarron, was one of the best game managers last season. He threw for 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns. The most important stat was he only had five interceptions. This year more weight will be put on his shoulders. They lost a ton of talent on defense along with one of the best running backs in the country. McCarron proved a lot in last seasons National Championship game. He was 23-34 for 234 yards against one of the best defenses in the nation. The most important stat: zero turnovers.
The LSU Tigers are ready to erase the memory of the 2012 BCS National Championship beat down. The Tigers return 13 starters from last years 13-1 squad.
Les Miles only knows one way to play: smash mouth football. The Tigers have a new quarterback under center this season in junior, Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger has a very strong arm and has very good accuracy. The one knock on Mettenberger is he is not that mobile and has slow feet in the pocket. Expect LSU to depend heavily on their boatload of talented running backs to make Mettenberger's job easier.
Spencer Ware and Michael Ford both had good freshman campaigns last season. Ware rushed for 707 yards and eight TD's. Ford rushed for 756 yards and seven touchdowns. LSU might be the deepest team at the running back position. Junior tailback, Alfred Blue, rushed for 539 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Sophomore running back, Kenny Hilliard rushed for over 300 yards and eight touchdowns.
Mettenberger is one happy man because he has four talented running backs he can give the rock to that will take a lot of pressure off of his shoulders.
Penn State has taken over the recent college football front pages after receiving a four-year bowl ban, lost scholarships, and a $60 million dollar fine after the NCAA announced their sanctions on the University.
We are nearly a month away from college football's opening weekend, so let's take a break from Penn State, and get geared up for the 2012 season.
Alabama will try and do something no team has ever done since the BCS was formed in 1998. No school has ever won back-to-back BCS National Championships. The Crimson Tide dominated LSU in last years BCS National Championship allowing only 92 total yards. It was one of best defensive games any team has ever displayed.
However, it will be tough for Bama' to repeat because they lost a ton of talent. Four defensive players, along with star running back, Trent Richardson, all heard their names called within the first 35 picks of the 2012 NFL Draft.
This leaves the door wide open for the rest of the country.
AFC North Preview: Weaknesses for Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers
The AFC North is arguably the NFL's toughest division. In 2011 all four teams ranked in the top 10 for total defense and the division sent three representatives to the AFC playoffs.
Here are the key weaknesses that may hold the rugged AFC North back during the 2012 NFL season:
Baltimore Ravens: Play calling on offense
Despite making it to the AFC Championship game, the Baltimore Ravens often find a way to confound themselves. That way usually involves some questionable play calling on offense.
Coordinator Cam Cameron seems determined to make quarterback Joe Flacco the focal point of the Ravens' attack. The problem is that this desire often comes at the expense of the unit's best player, running back Ray Rice.
In a Monday Night defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7, Rice had only eight carries. The disturbing pattern was repeated in a Week 10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, where Rice was given just five carries.
These are both teams the Ravens should beat. Despite the investment in 2008 first-round pick, Flacco, the Ravens are still a running football team.