Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Baseball Tournaments Set

School's out, but the college baseball season is just heating up. The conference tournament brackets for the ACC and SEC are set. Each conference allows the top 8 teams to compete for an automatic berth in the NCAA Baseball Tournament.

The ACC favorite is FSU who recently finished the regular season in dominating fashion by sweeping Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has held the top spot in the nation for most of the year and will look to continue its momentum into the SEC Tournament.

The ACC breaks the eight teams into groups of 4. One group has #1, #4, #5, #8 seeds, while the other has #2,#3,#6,#7. The four teams play a round robin and the winner of each group plays for the championship.

ACC Tournament Central Jacksonville, FL

The SEC uses a more traditional double elimination setup like the College World Series. Both conferences are looking to get anywhere from 6-8 teams in the NCAA Tournament, but seeds and Regional hosts are still up for grabs.

SEC Tournament Central Hoover, AL

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

SEC Spring Review

A while back I did a spring review for the ACC. Now it is the SEC's turn... I will project a little bit of what I know, what I don't know coming out of Spring Practice.

Alabama
What I know...
Nick Saban will raise the level of execution, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The talent will be soon to come. Alabama fans don't expect an SEC Championship this year, but they do expect to beat Alabama. If they don't....?
What I don't...
Can Alabama get better play at the QB position from John Parker Wilson? Who will replace Ken Darby in the backfield? Leading candidate Jimmy Johns (is anyone hungry) had a lackluster spring
Auburn
What I know...
Brandon Cox should bounce back this year after a disappointing junior campaign hampered by injures. The Tigers will still be able to run the ball even with Kenny Irons gone. Auburn does have more talent than Alabama, but for how long with Saban in town.
What I don't....
The Tigers have lost a lot of talent off the defensive side of the ball the last two years. Can they continue to replace top talent year in and year out? Who will step up at receiver?

Arkansas
What I know...
Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are the best combo of backs in the nation (you hear that Clemson?). As long as the Hogs can block, these guys should rack up over 100 yards per game with ease.
What I don't
The Razorbacks lost some very good players from the defense... who will replace Chris Houston, Jamal Anderson, and company? Can Casey Dick do just enough to stay out of the way of McFadden and Jones?

LSU
What I know...
LSU has gotten to the point where even if they lose 4 first round picks they can re load. Matt Flynn should be able to step right in for Russell - if not then Ryan Perriloux should be more than able. The defensive line is still scary good.
What I don't...
Can LSU avoid mental lapses like they had in their two losses? They might have beaten Florida in a rematch at the end of the year. They have the talent, but turnovers have been their achilles heel the last few years.

Ole Miss
What I know...
Ed Ogeron has raised the talent level in Oxford to a level where the Rebels can compete in the SEC. Benjarvus Green-Ellis is a talent in the backfield, but needs some help from the o-line.
What I don't...
Can Brent Schaeffer take better care of the ball? How do you replace Patrick Willis?

Miss St
What I know...
Sly Croom finally has two deep with Division I players. The Bulldogs defense should be good again.
What I don't...
What has Miss St done to improve the offense because it was downright awful at times last year?

Florida
What I know...
Florida has a stockpile of skill position players - Percy Harvin could turn into the next Reggie Bush. Urban Meyer will finally get to run offense with Tim Tebow at the helm.
What I don't...
The Gators have talent to replace the nine draft picks, but they lack experience at the point.

Georgia
What I know...
This team is still very young, but not as young as last year. Matt Stafford is poised for a breakout year under new coordinator Mike Bobo. The Dawgs defense will be still be very stout especially in the secondary. Georgia should be loaded at tailback and the return game should be very dangerous again.
What I don't...
Even with the JUCOs signed on the offensive line, is the depth situation really resolved? Georgia lost two very good pass rushers in Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses along with two starting linebackers - can the Bulldogs sustain a pass rush without blitzing?
South Carolina....
What I know...
South Carolina will still pass the ball all over the field even with Sidney Rice gone and Blake Mitchell not playing up to Spurriers standards. The unheralded running game will be good again. The Brinkley twins will wreak havoc on many SEC QBs
What I don't...
The Gamecocks have had a tumultuous off season with the local police - how upsetting has this been to the team chemistry? They are still in the SEC East and even with upgraded recruiting, I don't know if they can break through to the top three.

Tennessee...
What I know...
The Vols should be a tougher, better conditioned team, but there will be some off the field just like every year.
What I don't...
How long until Erik Ainge is fully healed? Can he reach his potential this year after another year with David Cutcliffe? The defensive line has been a strong point over the last few years, but does have some very big shoes to fill.

Kentucky..
What I know...
People will be very involved in the Wildcats program this year after the strong finish including a bowl win over Clemson. Andre Woodson is the best dual threat QB you have never heard of (if you are a fan of the Big 10).
What I don't...
How will the raised expectations affect the team? Most years Kentucky is just trying to stay out of the cellar.

Vanderbilt...
What I know...
Jay Cutler may be old news after fans see the QB play this year (the QBs name escapes me). The Commodores will be very well coached again and will not beat themselves.
What I don't...
Vandy will give a very good team a very big scare... I just don't know who.

Monday, May 7, 2007

NFL Draft Review

The Draft is over a week old now and some players have already attended their first mini camp. Just some musings on the first round picks and how each school fared in this year's draft.

FSU, Miami, and Clemson led the ACC with 5 picks a piece. Miami had 3 go in the first round, while FSU had all five gone by the end of the fourth. Florida totaled 9 draft picks off their national championship team and Chris Leak wasn't even one of them. Tennessee followed with 6, while Auburn and LSU had 5 a piece. LSU was tops in the first round with 4.

1. Oakland - JaMarcus Russell, LSU
The Raiders needed a QB badly and Russell was the best in the draft this year. He has great size and arm strength, but he never really dominated in college. He played some very good games, but he never led LSU to a title (Matt Flynn was the SEC Championship Game) and he looked downright pedestrian at times.
Source: google.com

2. Detroit - Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
If the Raiders had selected Matt Leinart last year, then Johnson would have likely gone #1 overall. The Lions got the best player in the draft. The only apprehension is that Detroit has drafted 4 WR in the last 5 years in the first round and does not have a history of developing talent. Still, I think Johnson is set for stardom if he stays healthy.
Source: SI.com
4. Tampa Bay - Gaines Adams, Clemson
Adams stock really rose before the draft. The Greenwood, SC product played 8 man football in high school. Adams has the size and talent to become the next Simeon Rice in Tampa.

6. Washington - LaRon Landry, LSU
By far the best DB prospect in the draft with his blistering speed and punishing hits. The Redskins now have a very formidable safety combination in Landry and Sean Taylor. Washington had more pressing needs though, but Landry should be an All-Pro. His brother Dawan was a starter most of the year for the Ravens, but LaRon has always been regarded as the better prospect of the two.

8. Atlanta - Jamal Anderson, Arkansas
Another player whos senior year really propelled him high into the draft. I have wonder if his frame will hold up in the NFL though as he came into college as a WR. Anderson will be counted on to replace Patrick Kearney. Why did Petrino pass on his college star Okoye though?

11. San Francisco - Patrick Willis, Ole Miss
A tackling machine will learn under Mike Singletary. He could turn out to be very good.

15. Pittsburgh - Lawrence Timmons, FSU
Early entry who will essentially replace Joey Porter. The Seminoles have a pretty good track record at LB in the NFL.

16. Green Bay - Justin Harrell, Tennessee
Had his season cut short at Tennessee due to an arm injury. Had lingering injuries throughout his career. I wonder if Brett Farve would have rather had a WR?

17. Denver - Jarvis Moss, Florida
A great stretch run to boost his stock. Was suspended while at Florida.

21. Jacksonville - Reggie Nelson, Florida
Prototypical free safety who should solidfy an already stout defense

23. Kansas City - Dwayne Bowe, LSU
Could turn out to be a very good pro if in the right system. Has good hands, good size, and a good route runner.

24. New England - Brandon Merriweather, Miami
Never seemed to play to his potential at the U, but maybe Belichek can bring that out

25. Carolina - Jon Beason, Miami
See above

27. New Orleans - Robert Meacham, Tennessee
A great senior boosted his stock way up. Will be used to replace Joe Horn, but maybe a DB would have served better here.

29. Baltimore - Ben Grubbs, Auburn
Slid due to his lack of versatility, but should provide some holes for Willis McGahee

30. San Diego - Craig Davis, LSU
Were LSU's receiver this good to have 2 drafted in the first round?

31. Chicago - Greg Olson, Miami
Best TE prospect lamented under poor QB play at Miami

First Round Count:
ACC - 6
SEC - 11

Total Drafted
ACC - 31
SEC - 41

And just in case you can't wait until next year...
look ahead to 2008 draft - SI; CBS Sportsline

Kiper is already working on his picks.....