Friday, 23 November 2012

Willy Tee's Week Four Predictions

The nights are closing in, and for the editorial elves up at DC towers this means working their way through my weekly multitude of errors, by candlelight. 

Apparently, due to my wafflage being so… well, waffly, this is apparently leading to some of the elder elves going rather blind! 

Only a few weeks prior to their secondment to the north pole? This is obviously rather something of a problem! 

As such, I’ve been asked to keep things short, sharp and to the point this week… let’s see if I can manage it! 

BAFA Uni Football Week Four Predictions

Saltire Conference  

Edinburgh Predators at Stirling Clansmen 
Let’s start with easy one shall we. The Clans impressive march to the Saltire title should continue unabated this weekend with a rematch of BUAFL’s opening fixture. This time on the faster green rug of Gannochy in Stirling, the Preds will be looking to build on last week’s 24-6 win over UWS. Whilst that score line may have got Edinburgh their first win it will be the 68-12 loss in week 1 that is a closer indicator of how this game will go. 

With Stirling coming of a bye-week and signs of Coach Orr rotating and resting his squad this one can only go one way. Renowned for their Jet Sweep offense, the Clan have added an impressive passing game behind QB Dutch Stevenson meaning they will stretch the field both vertically & horizontally. 
Clansmen by 30 (at least)  

GOTW big game preview

Honestly, I know it was only week 1 of 2011/12, but this sounds like this matchup last year could well have been the game of the season! 

Generally when you get a Uni Ball game with 100 points scored It’s ‘cos one of the big guns just lit up a conference whipping boy 100 to zip or similar. So a match up THIS high scoring, and decided on a knife edge? 

That’s some awesome football. 

In some ways, I’m actually a little disappointed that this wasn’t a week one match up again this year, as having seen these two squads perform thus far this season it’s difficult to conscientiously predict this games going to be as nail-bitingly exciting as it was 13 months ago. 

The Stags seem to have finally begun to return to championship contending form. They performed admirably in the postseason last year, pushing the Lions hard in the first half of their match up, and so far this season they’ve racked up impressive numbers on offence, while picking up their first shutout of the season for their defence last week. It took the Stags until week 9 before they were able to get their first shutout last season, so it bodes well for them that their D is beginning to click so soon. 

Game of the Week: Southampton Stags @ BNU Buccaneers

Some that were close but didn’t quite make it...

Luke Plastow’s hat

There’s no doubt that the BNU side-line has been personified by the presence of HC Luke Plastow’s hat. Will it make an appearance this year?

Home field (dis)advantage

BNU have struggled to find a field this year, having to play at an alien venue might play into the hands of the Stags (Ed: Why? Are their starting receivers Mulder and Skully?).

Coaches Interviews

In our build up of our game of the week, we were able to grab a quick interview with both of the Head Coaches from Southampton and BNU. First up is Gareth Thomas, Head Coach of the Southampton Stags.

DC: What can you tell us about your opponent?
GT: “Well, everyone knows that you have to change everything about your defensive philosophy to deal with the double wing. After last year’s extravaganza we've been doing a lot of work to ensure the same doesn't happen. Last year both defenses failed to perform, I imagine that BNU have been working hard to rectify this as well so we shall see on Sunday who's got it right.”

DC: What will be the deciding factor in the game in your opinion?
GT: “As mentioned previously, defense will be the key to this game. We're confident we can score points but you can only do this when your offense is on the field. This means that efficient clock management will be important as well.”

DC: Any players on your team to watch out for? Stats, video?
GT: “The key to our team this year is that we don't focus around any key players. We have good depth in all positions and try to adapt to what works well on the day. Based on the stats so far this season we've had several players over 100 yards on the ground each game. We've also got a core of well coached receivers and a couple of qb's that are capable of getting the ball to them. Defensively we have players that can adapt to multiple positions, each game the tackling is spread out fairly evenly reinforcing our philosophy of 'Team D'.”

DC: Any players on the other team to watch out for?
GT: “When it comes to playing other teams, we tend not to focus on 'key' players. We play against the scheme and have confidence in whoever we come up against that we can deal with them. This might sound big-headed but you have to believe in yourselves and not be afraid of what you're going against. Last year the running backs for BNU were very good, I'm not sure how many of them graduated but any that are left I'm sure we will need to keep an eye on.”

DC: Do you consider this a rivalry game?
GT: “If we considered this a rivalry game then every game we play would also be considered that. Our big games are always going to be the local ones with Solent and Portsmouth. Yes this game has a bit more to it after last year and I'm sure it will be a tough game but as I said before, we take each game as it comes.”

DC: How has the team improved from last year’s game?
GT: “We could make all kinds of excuses relating to last year but when you look back at the history of the Stags in recent years there is always a trend. Every game of the season we get better. Having got a couple of games under our belts this year I think we're in a better position with our rookie players and our returners are starting to find their rhythm. This will also be true for BNU but I know how hard we work our team and how tough the coaches can be on ironing out little mistakes so we shall see how the season progresses”

Coach Plastow's responses

DC: What can you tell us about your opponent?
“We've scouted Southampton as throughly as we can.  We've adapted our 3-5 defence to attempt to shut down some of their main plays and playmakers. Obviously Dana Neale provides a decent threat with his passing attack.  last year we underestimate it and were passed on for 5TDs.  We've worked hard this preseason on the pass defence in preperation for the Stags.  It has gone well with opposition QBs going 7/39 for 77 yards and a single TD. 

DC: What will be the deciding factor in the game in your opinion?
“The pass game for Southampton will obviously be a massive deciding factor along with the Wing.  If we can fix the problems we suffered last week against OBU it could be quite dangerous.  If we suffer the same again it will be a long day at the office.  I don't think its something Southampton can cause, its more mental errors from our guys.  Our rookies are learning quickly.  I doubt anyone would expect us to be 2-1 starting 11 rookies but I put it down to the great positional coaching they are recieveing especially on the defence.  They are improving everytime I see them.
DC: Do you consider this a rivalry game?
“I wouldn't consider this a rivalry game to be honest with you.  Our 2 main rivals are OBU and Reading.  Southampton obviously have Solent and Portsmouth.  I see this more as the top 2 offences in the conference slogging it out.”

Heisman Discussion

With the Heisman trophy winner being decided on December 8th and Collin Klein being all but eliminated last week with the loss against Baylor, the door was left open for a discussion about the credentials of Jonny Manziel and Manti Te’o for the award. The case for Manti Te’o is put forward by Ross Watson, and Thomas Piachaud gives the evidence for Manziel. Please join the discussion by leaving your comments underneath the article.

The Case for Manti Te’o to win the Heisman

First off I’d just like to say that for a defensive player to even be considered to win the Heisman is an achievement in itself, and since the only primarily defensive player to ever win the award is Charles Woodson in 1997, Te’o walking away with the prize in this day and age of college offenses would be massive.

I am not going to compare the stats of both players due to the fact that Woodson was a shutdown corner, as well as operating on both offence and special teams, meaning that his stats are not comparable to that of a middle linebacker. However, what I am going to compare is each players impacts on their respective teams, arguably more important than stats. Michigan’s allowed 9.5 points/game and 222.8 yards/game whilst Te’o’s ND team allows 10.1 points/game and 287.4 yards/game in an age where over - inflated offensive stats is king. Comparable? Woodson led his team to an undefeated season; Te’o has one more to go before the votes go in.

Te’o is the leader of the nations best defence and Woodson was the leader of his and whilst neither Te'o or Woodson were the soul reasons for such feats, they were the ones that led the teams. In fact Te'o is the one responsible for getting the entire defense in position to make their plays, would Notre Dame be undefeated without him?

At this time you may be saying, “The Heisman is for the most OUTSTANDING player, where are his stats??”

At the time of writing (he still has a game to improve upon these stats), he has 98 tackles (49 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 6 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. He may be ranked 46th in the nation for tackles, but bearing in mind that Notre Dame rank 12th in the nation in time of possession, he’s not on the field enough to have more tackles seeing as he’s 42 more tackles ahead of the next man at ND. His 6 interceptions are good enough to be tied 2nd (!!!) in the nation in the INT category among ALL defensive players. His interceptions have also been very timely in game situations; remember the Oklahoma game, the two against Michigan? Te’o has been the guy to step up and make the plays.

Bottom line, he makes outstanding plays at the most important times.

If his Notre Dame team finishes the regular season undefeated, there is no other candidate for the award in my opinion, he is the most outstanding player on the only undefeated team in college football, and no way would they be undefeated without Manti Te’o in the middle.

The Case for Jonny Manziel  to win the Heisman

Being an A&M fan I am obviously biased to who I think should win the Heisman, however I will try to remain as objective as possible. Last year I was lucky enough to see the Aggies live against the Mizzou, a tense game that the Aggies lost in overtime. The general feeling around College Station was excitement about heading into the SEC the following year (merchandise was already rife), with a sprinkling of trepidation about the step up in level. 

Couple this with the graduation of Ryan Tannehill who, while many don’t think he was a first round QB or even NFL ready, still gave A&M options, and Cyrus Gray who when coupled with Christine (yes, a girl’s name) Michael gave the Aggies a great ground game, and the Aggies were looking like having a dismal couple of seasons in the SEC. Not only were these key players gone, but also the Aggies were fed up with Head Coach Mike Sherman, and he was fired.

Fast forward to September 8th 2012, and the world was exposed to Jonny Manziel. First, let’s talk about the case against his Heisman claim. Yes, he’s a redshirted freshman. Yes, he’s ugly as hell. Yes, he had some off-field issues, having a drunken brawl with a 47 year old. However, if we want to look at what the Heisman is supposed to be, an award for 'the most outstanding player in collegiate football’ you can’t doubt what he has done is outstanding.

I saw an interesting graphic this past week before K-State got a hiding from Baylor, comparing Klein with Manziel (it’s incredibly hard to compare positions for other candidates such as Manti Te’o)

There’s no doubting this graphic was made by an A&M fan, as the interception column was left out, before the Baylor game Klein had 3 and Manziel 6.

Manziel's unique ability to seemingly escape a collapsing pocket, roll out, make a pass or a run, or reverse the field and make a pass or run the other way, can be considered perhaps a pro and con. A pro as it has given us some of the best moments in college football this year as can be seen by his YouTube highlights:

A con, in that it doesn’t appeal to a pro system, where he would undoubtedly end up injured (see Michael Vick, Cam Newton for case studies).

‘Jonny Football’ should win the Heisman as he’s helped a team who lost their starting QB, RB, HC and half the staff, a team who put in place a new HC, a whole new system, and moved to a new conference with match ups against some of the biggest teams in the nation. He lost twice, in close games, where the Aggies were leading at some point during the game, and barring some mistakes could have quite comfortably won and been at #1 in the Nation right now.

The Big 10 Expands to Include Rutgers and Maryland

After we had all thought that conference expansion had halted for at least a little while, the Big 10 makes a huge move as it takes both Rutgers from the Big East and Maryland from the ACC. These moves have a few layers of intrigue and affects on the world of college football, which I will hopefully provide some insight into in this article.

If you would like to join the discussion, please leave a comment at the bottom.

The Big 10 has announced this as a competitive move for the conference, but at the end of the day these schools were added for the fan base’s geographical reach as well as the expansion of the Big 10 television network. The schools joined the conference for the money, simples.

Here are some of the thoughts I have had myself and have heard from media sources on the moves:

1) The Big East is now essential dead to rites. With Rutgers leaving, Louisville and UConn will become even primer candidates for the ACC to make a run at, and with the schools that have agreed to become part of the Big East in the future, Navy, Boise State and San Diego State beginning to have second thoughts, it’s not looking good for the Big East to continue as a major football conference.

2) The first real move in the direction of creating super-conferences. The Big 10 will now have 14 teams, the SEC currently has 14 teams itself, which only means one thing for these conferences, more viewers and more money. It’s no coincidence that both these conferences have their own podcasts and TV networks, the Big 10 actually made more money than the SEC last year, so much so that the Indiana football program was able to upgrade their football facilities with almost only money from the network TV deal, teams are going to be lining up to be in these conferences if the money keeps pouring into their networks. Every conference is making moves to add to their money making potential, and if this means 16 team conferences then that’s the way the commissioners are going to go.

3) The move gives the Big 10 entry into the east coast cable networks, once again meaning more money, as they will have local intrigue around the Maryland and Rutgers programmes.

4) This is a direct response to the ACC’s procuring of the Notre Dame affiliation. The Big 10 clearly felt that it could not just sit pat and watch as the ACC raided the Big East of it’s schools and went on the offensive to take both Rutgers and Maryland.

Whichever way you chop it up, this move is like all the other conference expansions, it’s all about the money. The Big 10 is not going to become more competitive or compelling due to the inclusion of Rutgers or Maryland, it just wants more people watching it’s games.

Please let Double Coverage know your thoughts on this news by leaving a comment at the bottom.

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