Tag:John Clay
Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 4:05 pm
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Montee Ball is making a mistake

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Thursday Wisconsin running back Montee Ball made the announcement that he would be coming back to Wisconsin for his senior season. A commendable decision by Ball considering the season he just had in Madison, finishing the year with 2,229 yards and 39 touchdowns, and going to New York as a Heisman finalist.

That being said, I don't think this is the right decision for Ball to make.

At the moment Ball is ranked as the sixth best 2012 NFL draft prospect amongst running backs by Rob Rang and 80th overall, and he'd likely be a middle round pick. Yes, it's possible that his draft stock will improve after staying at Wisconsin for another season, but that doesn't mean staying in school will help him have a longer, more successful pro career. In fact, it could seriously hinder his chances.

While there are some positions like quarterback where players are better served to stay in college and get another year of experience under their belts, running back is generally not one of those positions. This is due to the wear and tear that running backs endure during a season of football, on both the college and pro levels, and there aren't many programs that can wear down a back like Wisconsin.

A running back's legs only have so many miles on them. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule as we've seen in the past from guys like Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton, but backs like those two don't come around very often. For a glimpse of what does happen more frequently, Ball need not look past his own program and some of the great rushers in the school's history.

For example, there's Heisman Trophy winner and the NCAA's all-time leading rusher Ron Dayne. In his four seasons at Wisconsin Dayne carried the ball 1,220 times for 7,125 yards. In his seven NFL seasons after being a first round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2000, Dayne carried the ball 983 times for 3,722 yards. Dayne never had the success in the NFL that he had while at Wisconsin, and while that's partially due to his build -- Ron was never the slimmest guy around -- you can easly look at those 1,220 carries in college as a factor as well. There weren't many miles left on those legs by the time he joined the Giants.

More recently there was Ball's former teammate John Clay. Clay only played three seasons with the Badgers and had half as many carries as Dayne in his career with 629 rushes, but his legs began breaking down before he even left for the NFL. Clay went undrafted last April before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent. So far in his rookie season with the Steelers, Clay has carried the ball only 10 times. Yes, the jury is still out on his NFL career, but given that he wasn't even drafted and only saw time in Pittsburgh's backfield due to injuries, it's reasonable to think that Clay won't end up in Canton one day.

The good news for Ball is that while he carried the ball 307 times in 2011 -- more than Clay ever had in any season, and more than Dayne had in two seasons at Wisconsin -- he only had 261 rushes in his first two seasons in Madison. So there's plenty of tread left on the tires, but given that Russell Wilson will not be back in 2012, there's enough reason to believe that Ball's workload will only increase next year. Which would not be good news for his longevity.

The other bonus for Ball is that he's a lot smaller than both Dayne and Clay ever were, slimming down to 210 pounds for his junior season for the sole purpose of saving some wear and tear.

Still, given the history of some of Wisconsin's greatest running backs, it's pretty clear that if Ball is hoping to have a long and successful pro career, he should make the move sooner rather than later. Playing football is not a profession with a long shelf-life, especially for running backs, and if Ball wants to have a long professional career, he'd be better off starting it in 2012 rather than 2013.

Check out where Ball, and all the 2012 draft prospects rank on the CBSSports.com draft board, and follow all the news on early entrants here. 

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 4:57 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big Ten team

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are one writer's choices for the preseason All-Big Ten team. 

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Kirk Cousins, Senior, Michigan State

For as many high-level quarterbacks as there are in the Big Ten, it looks as if the stars have aligned the best for Kirk Cousins this year. Cousins returns his stable of running backs, two of his top three wideouts (and experienced senior backups at the third receiver and starting tight end), and his same offense from 2010. Cousins also didn't suffer a catastrophic injury last year. Oh, and Cousins is a very, very good passer. There isn't another quarterback in the conference that can make all of those claims, so while the MSU schedule is just brutal this year, if any losses occur, it's unlikely that a healthy Cousins will be to blame for any of them.

Also watch for: Even without Terrelle Pryor lining up under center, this is a loaded position in the conference. Denard Robinson and Dan Persa can also make legitimate claims as the top quarterback in the conference, and Wisconsin newcomer Russell Wilson might get there by the end of the year. This is a conference where Nathan Scheelhaase and Taylor Martinez are competing to even be mentioned in the top five quarterbacks. Big Ten secondaries, beware.

RUNNING BACK

Edwin Baker, Junior, Michigan State

In a Spartan backfield loaded with depth, Baker is the best of the bunch, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 13 TDs in his sophomore campaign. Baker is a low, powerful rusher with some of the best instincts in the conference, and he’ll be counted on to produce even more -- provided he can keep his talented teammates from stealing even more carries in 2011.

Montee Ball, Junior, Wisconsin

Ball gets the nod here just for being a year ahead of his teammate listed below, but the truth is both are going to be major weapons for the Badgers this year. Ball was a hair away from hitting 1,000 yards rushing last year, but his nose for the end zone is impeccable; he scored 18 rushing touchdowns last year, which is even more ridiculous considering half-man, half-truck John Clay was also a Badger last year and scored 14 TDs of his own. 20 touchdowns is totally in play for Ball this year.

Also watch for: All the true sophomores. There's a lot of them. First of all, both Baker and Bell have superlatively talented teammates in their backfields; Ball's partner in crime is reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year James White, who racked up 1,057 yards and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman. Meanwhile, the Spartans have true sophomore big back Le'Veon Bell, who rushed for 605 yards at 5.7 yards a carry last year. Iowa boasted its own a true freshman breakout star in Marcus Coker, who scorched Missouri for 219 yards and two scores in the Insight Bowl. Penn State's starting tailback Silas Redd was also a true freshman in 2010, looking impressive as he tallied 437 yards (5.7 yards per carry) in relief of since-departed Evan Royster. Ohio State has a trio of workhorses in its backfield in Rod Smith, Jaamal Berry (8.3 ypc as, yep, a true freshman in 2010), and suspended starter Boom Herron. Meanwhile, junior Rex Burkhead (Nebraska) and senior Jason Ford (Illinois) have been significant contributors in the backfield for years, and both have opportunities to put forward a big year.

WIDE RECEIVER

Derek Moye, Senior, Penn State

Penn State may not have its quarterback situation shored up just yet, but one thing for sure is that whoever steps forward will have the conference's best target to aim at. Moye is 6'5" and fast, and he led the Nittany Lions' receiving corps with 53 catches, 885 yards, and eight TDs -- all team highs last year. Ostensibly, both Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin (PSU's dueling QBs) have an even better rapport with Moye than they did last year, so don't be surprised to see all three of Moye's stats rise in his senior campaign.

Marvin McNutt, Senior, Iowa

McNutt first came onto the scene in 2009, when he was listed ahead of returning starter (and future Iowa record-holder in career receptions and receiving yards) Derrell Johnson-Koulianos on Iowa's depth chart coming out of camp. McNutt and Johnson-Koulianos eventually played their way into starting roles alongside each other, but the more surprising aspect was that McNutt -- recruited as a quarterback out of high school, and the Hawkeyes' 3rd stringer under center the year prior -- could work his way into the starting lineup that easily. McNutt quickly emerged as the surest catcher on the team, and his big play ability has put the Hawkeyes' career touchdown reception record in dire jeopardy (he needs just five scores to match Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes at 21).

Also watch for: Jeremy Ebert of Northwestern has a record of production that's as good as just about anybody else in the conference, and his familiarity with Dan Persa is going to be key as Persa continues to work his way back from a torn Achilles tendon. Ohio State wideout DeVier Posey was a favorite target -- by a pretty wide margin -- of Terrelle Pryor, and it's hardly a stretch to think that whoever OSU's new QB might be will depend on Posey often (once Posey comes back from suspension, anyway). 6'5" Indiana WR Damarlo Belcher would probably be in the NFL today if he had held onto a game-winning 4th down pass against Iowa last season. He didn't, the Hawkeyes won, new Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson convinced Belcher to stay, and here we are. Keshawn Martin and BJ Cunningham should both put up big numbers for Kirk Cousins at MSU.  

TIGHT END

Drake Dunsmore, Senior, Northwestern

From a purist's standpoint, Dunsmore is not technically a tight end; he's classified by Northwestern as a "superback," which means he can be found all over the place in the Wildcats' different offensive sets. He fits the same role that a tight end usually does, however, mixing a healthy amount of both blocking and receiving. Think of Dunsmore as Northwestern's Frank Wycheck. Also, think of him as Dan Persa's safety valve, being the second-leading receiver returning to the Wildcats and by far the leader among Big Ten tight ends with 40 receptions in 2010.

Also watch for: If Dunsmore's role as "superback" is too much of a departure from tight end for comfort, Nebraska TE Kyler Reed could easily take Dunsmore's place on this list. Reed's athleticism makes him one of the toughest tight ends to cover in the league, and at 18 yards per reception in 2010, he's proven the ability to move chains as well as any end in the conference. His eight touchdowns (tops among Big Ten TEs) don't hurt either.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Mike Brewster, Senior, Ohio State

Forget the Big Ten, Mike Brewster might well be the best center in the nation. In a position that usually attracts shorter linemen, Brewster stands tall at 6'5" 305 and still boasts elite technique. The four-year starter has become something of a folk hero in Columbus, and for good reason: he's probably going to be an All-Pro at the next level.

Guard Kevin Zeitler, Senior, Wisconsin

Now that First Team All-Americans Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt are gone to the NFL, the Wisconsin offensive line needs a new anchor, and Zeitler likely fits that bill. Zeitler is the most experienced offensive lineman on the Badgers, with 22 starts to his name, and his senior season should be his best.

Guard Joel Foreman, Senior, Michigan State

Foreman worked his way into the starting lineup early in his redshirt freshman season, and never relinquished the role. 36 starts later, he's the premier guard in the Big Ten, and his ability to get to the second level has been critical to Michigan State's considerable success rushing the ball. Foreman's pass protection skills are also stellar; it's no accident that Kirk Cousins has flourished as a passer over the last few years.

Tackle Mike Adams, Senior, Ohio State

Mike Adams shouldn't be on this list. He should be in the NFL, because he likely would have been a first-round pick last year. His role in the tattoo scandal and subsequent NCAA investigation led Jim Tressel to demand Adams return for his suspension-shortened senior season, and here we are. With the aforementioned Carimi off in the NFL, Adams takes over the mantle as the best tackle in college football, and his return to the Buckeyes' lineup after his five-game suspension is going to be a major factor in the Buckeyes' fight to stay atop the conference.

Tackle Riley Reiff, Junior, Iowa

As Iowa's left tackle, there's no denying Reiff has big shoes to fill; his recent predecessors include former All-Americans (and first-round NFL draft picks) Robert Gallery and Bryan Bulaga. Reiff could soon fit that bill himself; he's a big, mean masher who excels in downfield blocking and at the point of attack. Reiff's pass protection isn't as impressive quite yet, but he's still got two seasons left at Iowa to take that next step. He may not need two before the NFL comes calling.

Also watch for: Michigan center David Molk would probably be first-team in just about any other conference, but with Brewster manning the role for OSU, Molk is relegated to second-team status here. RT J.B. Shugarts is a third senior starter on the line for the Buckeyes, and if his foot injury is healed, he'll likely have a big year. Wisconsin RT Josh Oglesby is back from an injury that robbed him of all but two games in 2010, and he could easily play his way into all-conference consideration.  

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Cameron Meredith, Junior, Nebraska

In Meredith’s first year starting in 2010, he racked up 10 quarterback hurries and 6.5 TFLs. That would be disconcerting enough by itself, but with the bevy of talent in the front seven, most of the help blocking will have to be devoted to other defenders -- meaning Meredith will likely be on an island with his opposing tackles, terrorizing them and opposing quarterbacks all season long. Look for his sack numbers to go way up in 2011.

DE Vince Browne, Senior, Northwestern

One of the most underappreciated players in the Big Ten is probably Vince Browne, who registered seven sacks and 15.5 TFL in relative obscurity last year. The spotlight's on Browne now as a consensus preseason first-team all-Big Ten player, and his production continues to improve, he'll quickly make Wildcats fans forget about former all-conference DE Corey Wootton.

DT Jared Crick, Senior, Nebraska

It's slightly unfair to Crick (pictured above right) that he shared a defensive front with former Heisman candidate DT Ndamukong Suh, because it only invites comparisons between the two rather than letting Crick define his own legacy at Nebraska. On the other hand, earning comparisons to Suh is fantastic news for Nebraska, because it means Crick's incredible. Crick is a likely All-American at DT, with 32 TFLs to his name over the last two seasons and the potential to pass 20 TFLs this year. He's big, strong, and disruptive, which probably means instant double-teams on the majority of snaps in 2011. That still might not be enough to slow Crick down.

DT Mike Martin, Senior, Michigan

Last year, Mike Martin faced the same challenge that former teammate Brandon Graham did in 2009: being the best defensive lineman on a truly terrible defense. At the very least, Martin gets another crack at helping the Wolverines turn their defense around, and with the arrival of Greg Mattison as defensive coordinator, that looks to be a real possibility. Martin wasn't at 100% very often last year, but he's healthy right now, and that plus the move back to a 4-3 lineup (with space eater William Campbell next to him at NT) should be enough to propel Martin and the Wolverines DL to a much-improved season.

Also watch for: Jerel Worthy is a monster on the interior for Michigan State and may supplant Martin as a first-team DT by season's end; Worthy's production needs to improve, though. Iowa DT Mike Daniels is in his second year of starting, and the aggressive senior showed flashes of potential last season. He's going from the "fifth starter" in 2010 to the leader of the retooling Iowa defensive line. Ohio State DE Nathan Williams is in his second year starting for the Buckeyes, and he's expected to put together a solid senior year.

LINEBACKER

Michael Mauti, Junior, Penn State

When healthy, Mauti is one of the most fearsome linebackers in the Big Ten. It's that health that poses a bit of an issue. Mauti missed all of 2009 with an ACL injury, then struggled through various maladies last season -- including a shoulder injury suffered against Ohio State. Sheer probability suggests Mauti will have better luck with injuries this year, and he's manning the inside linebacker spot in a defense that puts the ILB in the best position to make plays. Tackles will be plentiful for the talented junior this year.

Lavonte David, Senior, Nebraska

It's bad enough for Nebraska's opposing offensive linemen that they have to deal with Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler at defensive tackle at the same time. It's worse that behind them lurks All-American candidate MLB Lavonte David. With needing three blockers to engage Crick and Steinkuhler a near-certainty, Davis will be free to get to the edges and and hit the point of attack, both things the speedy linebacker can do extremely well. Look for unholy amounts of production from David in 2011.

Chris Borland, Sophomore, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's defense wasn't spectacular last year, but with an offense scoring over 30 points in all but one Big Ten game, it didn't need to be. That defense is getting a major boost this year as 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Borland returns after taking a medical redshirt last season. Borland is strong and aggressive, and he represents a significant step up from departing MLB Culmer St. Jean. It wasn't exactly easy to run on Wisconsin last year, but it'll be legitimately tough now.

Also watch for: Andrew Sweat takes over as the leader of Ohio State's defense now, and the rangy OLB is poised for a big year. Iowa MLB James Morris stepped in as a 215-pound true freshman last year, and now that he's bigger, he may never leave the starting lineup; Iowa coaches are especially high on him. Senior Nate Stupar is versatile and productive, and he'll help bolster the Penn State linebacking corps in a big way.

SECONDARY

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, Senior, Nebraska

With former teammate and All-American CB Prince Amukamara off to the NFL, it's Dennard's time to shine as Nebraska's lockdown cornerback. He showed all the necessary potential last year as opposing quarterbacks threw for under 50% all season long (tops among BCS teams), and while the loss of Amukamara might push opposing passer ratings up a bit, throwing at Dennard is still going to be a terrible, terrible idea. 

Cornerback Shaun Prater, Senior, Iowa

Prater's interceptions are about to drop precipitously. Not because the returning All-Big Ten cornerback is about to get any worse, but with his accolades and the uncertainty in the rest of the Iowa secondary, there isn't going to be a whole lot of sense in testing Prater anymore.

Safety Aaron Henry, Senior, Wisconsin

Henry, a cornerback for the Badgers until 2010, made a successful transition to safety by registering 58 tackles, seven PBUs, and a pair of interceptions last year. With a year of experience at free safety under his belt and a wealth of athleticism to boot, Henry should be even better in 2011.

Safety Trenton Robinson, Senior, Michigan State

It's hard to argue with results, so it's hard to argue with Trenton Robinson's eight passes broken up and four interceptions; only Northwestern cornerback Jordan Mabin had more passes defended last season, with 14 PBUs and a pick. Robinson is also the leading tackler among returning MSU starters, so look for a big senior year in center field for him.

Also watch for: Iowa CB-turned-safety Micah Hyde might have a case for being on this list after scoring two touchdowns off interceptions last year, but he’ll need to produce at his new position for Iowa before any accolades come his way. True sophomore cornerback Ricardo Allen is a rising star in Purdue’s secondary after two defensive scores of his own; he’ll be getting All-American consideration before his career’s over. Also, as mentioned before, Jordan Mabin led the conference in passes broken up by a pretty substantial margin. That's worth something.

Specialists

KICKER

Derek Dimke, Senior, Illinois

Dimke is the returning first-team All-Big Ten kicker, and for good reason; the Lou Groza watch list member was 24-29 on field goals last year, and he's got one of the strongest legs in the conference. Look for another all-conference performance this year.

PUNTER

Brad Nortman, Senior, Wisconsin

Not only is Nortman one of the best (if not often-used) punters in the conference, he also led the Big Ten in rushing average after gaining 17 yards on a fake punt in Wisconsin's 31-30 win over Iowa last year. Sadly, Nortman's one rushing attempt did not qualify him for the official league crown. With the top three punters in the 2010 Big Ten all graduating, Nortman has an opportunity to step up and put together a big senior year.

Posted on: June 27, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:50 pm
 

Zach Brown transfers to Pitt

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As Wisconsin picked up a new player on Monday morning, it also officially lost another. Running back Zach Brown made it official on Monday and let coach Todd Graham and the rest of the Pitt coaching staff know that he'd be transferring to the school, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Brown will likely serve as a backup to Ray Graham, and running back is a position that Graham had expressed concerns about recently, particularly the lack of depth with Ray Graham being the only option with experience. A concern that is alleviated somewhat by the arrival of Brown.

Brown originally announced he would be leaving Wisconsin back in May, where he spent the last three seasons as a backup to John Clay, Montee Ball and James White. Clay may be gone, but Brown still would have found himself fourth on the depth chart behind Ball, White and Jeffrey Lewis this fall. Since Brown has already graduated, much like Wisconsin's newest quarterback Russell Wilson, he will not have to sit out any time and can begin playing right away.

In three seasons at Wisconsin, Brown has rushed for 1,152 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

Posted on: January 7, 2011 12:47 pm
 

John Clay leaning towards the NFL

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt made the announcement that he was going to forgo his senior season in Madison to enter the NFL Draft on Thursday, and now the word out of Wisconsin is that the odds are running back John Clay is going to follow him.  Clay hasn't made a final decision yet, but is meeting with Wisconsin staff to discuss his options this week.

Options that, when you think about Clay's situation, would make you think he's going pro.  Clay may only be a junior, but he's also 23 years old.  Given the shelf life of running backs in the NFL, it's best not to wait any longer than you have to.  Plus, there's the fact that Clay is not only a 23-year old running back, but that he's a 23-year old running back at Wisconsin.

Clay already spent the last year battling injuries, and lost a lot of carries to guys like Montee Ball and James White this season.  By returning for another season, he not only risks losing more carries to those fresher sets of legs, but also more injuries, and in turn, a lower draft stock.  If Clay does end up deciding to leave Wisconsin, he'll do so with 3,413 yards and 41 touchdowns to his name.  He was also the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2009.

Wisconsin wouldn't be in bad shape without him, either.  Although they'd be losing their human battering ram, as I said above, the team would still have Montee Ball and James White.  Those two combined to rush for 2,048 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2010.
Posted on: January 1, 2011 8:48 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Rose Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TCU says "Hello, BCS!" and beats Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl to finish season 13-0

TCU


Offense: It wasn't a great game by the TCU offense in this one, as while the Horned Frogs came out blazing in the first quarter and scored touchdowns on their first two drives, they only managed 7 points over the final 45 minutes.  Still, the Frogs got as many points as they needed, and didn't turn the ball over, using field position to their advantage throughout the second half.

Andy Dalton was on fire out of the gate, but TCU then got a bit pass-happy in the second half and his performance fell off a bit.  He did finish the game with 247 total yards and two touchdowns, running the offense efficiently enough to win the offensive MVP of the game.  That being said, had TCU been a bit more productive with the ball late, it wouldn't have had to sweat so much at the end.  Grade:B

Defense: His name is Tank Carder, and this game wasn't as much the Rose Bowl as it was the Tank Carder Show.  Carder was everywhere on the field for the TCU defense.  Knocking Scott Tolzien to the ground repeatedly, swallowing runners in the backfield, and knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage.  If you didn't know Carder's name before this game, you do now.

The only problem for TCU was its interior run defense.  While it was able to utilize its speed every time Wisconsin tried to stretch runs outside, the defensive line was getting manhandled up the middle quite a bit.  Still, considering how impressive Wisconsin's offense was over the final month of the season, holding the Badgers to 19 points is nothing to be ashamed of.  Grade: B+

Coaching: The only complaint I have about the job Gary Patterson and the TCU coaching staff did in this game was abandoning a game plan that was working so well at the start.  Andy Dalton was having successful early throwing the ball and running out of the read option, but for some reason TCU ditched this attack after the first quarter.  Instead Dalton just kept dropping back to pass, and things got a bit too predictable.  Grade: B

Wisconsin


Offense: Just looking at the statistics and not the scoreboard, you'd think Wisconsin won this game.  The Badgers rushed for nearly five yards a carry, converted nearly half of its third downs, both of its fourth down attempts and didn't turn the ball over a single time.  So what went wrong?  Well, once the Badgers got to the red zone things seemed to stall and the team had to settle for field goal attempts, one of which they missed.

Which was a big miss given the final score.

The big problem on offense was that Wisconsin just wasn't very efficient throwing the ball.  The Badgers have never been a passing team, but they've utilized play-action all season to pick up big chunks of yards and move the ball down the field.  Tolzien couldn't do this against TCU on Saturday, and it cost Wisconsin points in the end.  Grade:C+

Defense: Aside from the first quarter, Wisconsin's defense played pretty well.  It's just Wisconsin had trouble getting off the field on third down, which lengthened TCU drives and took more gas out of the tank as the game wore on.  The Badgers did a good job stopping the run and made life difficult for Dalton at times, but in the end, the Badgers defense had to make a play, and they simply didn't.

A turnover or two would have gone a long way in this game.  Grade:B

Coaching: Why did Wisconsin lose this game despite the stats? Coaching decisions.  Now, I loved Bret Bielema calling a fake punt deep in his own territory in the first half, but other than that, he left me scratching my head quite a bit.  There was the questionable clock management at the end of the first half that forced Wisconsin to settle for a field goal, as it seems Bielema thought unused timeouts carried over to the second half.  The biggest gaffe, however, came at the end of the game.  On Wisconsin's final drive the Badgers ran the ball right down TCU's throat with John Clay and Montee Ball.  After finally punching the ball into the end zone, the Badgers had to go for two, so what did Wisconsin do?  They spread it out with four receivers and decided to throw.  A Tank Carder fly swat later and TCU was Rose Bowl champions.  Grade:F

Final Grade


The first quarter gave me the feeling that this was going to be an epic Rose Bowl, one that would go down in history.  Things didn't quite play out that way, but it was still a very interesting game up until the last few minutes.  It was a huge win for TCU, and one I thoroughly enjoyed watching.  With or without the questionable decisions at the end.  Grade: A-
Posted on: November 22, 2010 6:04 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 7:06 pm
 

2010 Doak Walker finalists announced

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here are your three finalists for the 2010 Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back:

  • John Clay, Wisconsin: 172 carries, 929 yards, 13 TDs
  • Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State: 248 carries, 1461 yards, 16 TDs
  • LaMichael James, Oregon: 225 carries, 1422 yards, 17 TDs

This process seems to be little more than a formality, as James is currently the nation's top yards-per-game rusher leading the nation's top-scoring offense on the nation's top-ranked team. If he doesn't win this award, there should be an immediate federal investigation. I am only mostly kidding.

The big question, of course, is what in the world is Clay doing on this list? Yes, he has missed two games, so his overall totals are going to be a bit underwhelming. But even taking that into account, Clay is only 19th in the nation (17th among running backs) in rushing yards per game; he's outperformed by Marcus Lattimore, Mikel LeShoure, and many other tailbacks. Clay's barely even the most productive running back on his own team; freshman teammate James White has 34 fewer yards on 44 fewer carries, and just as many rushing touchdowns. And teammate Montee Ball is currently outperforming both of them; in the three November games played thus far, Ball has rushed for 467 yards and nine scores.

Yes, Wisconsin's rushing game is a thing of terrible beauty at times, and it warrants praise and recognition, but this isn't a team award. And even if it's a deadbolt lock that LaMichael James takes this trophy home in December, it still would have been nice of the committee to offer up three actually worthy candidates.


Posted on: November 16, 2010 12:00 pm
 

John Clay may miss Michigan game as well

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the weekend, Wisconsin had to host Indiana without the services of its top running back John Clay, and the effects of his absence were painfully obvious to anyone who watched the game.  Without Clay rumbling through the Indiana defense, the Badgers were stopped short of 100 points and only able to manage a paltry 83.

So, obviously, if the Badgers are going to hang 100 on Michigan this weekend in Ann Arbor, it'd be nice if they could get Clay back.  Though according to head coach Bret Bielema, the odds of Clay being ready to go on Saturday don't seem too good.

“I don’t know if we’ll have that three-headed thing this week because John I think won’t be at full strength. But when that situation does pop up, whether it’s the next game or in the bowl game opportunity, it’s something you’ve got to be smart about when and how you use them,” Bielema told the Detroit Free Press. “I think it’s hard to get three guys in rhythm all the way through, but you can definitely go a strong two and the third one comes in when he’s needed.”

Clay sprained his right knee in Wisconsin's win over Purdue on November 6th.

If he can't go this weekend, the Badgers will once again have to rely on Montee Ball and James White.   Those two only combined for 311 yards and five touchdowns against Indiana, so who knows how well they'll perform against Michigan's vaunted run defense?
Posted on: October 25, 2010 10:52 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:10 pm
 

Terrelle Pryor still bitter about Wisconsin loss

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Watching Ohio State take Purdue behind the woodshed on Saturday afternoon, one thing became clear during the 49-0 shellacking: the Buckeyes were angry about losing to Wisconsin.   Unfortunately for Purdue, it was the one who had to deal with the consequences of Ohio State's frustrations.

Which is exactly what you would want to see from a team after suffering a loss and possibly destroying any hopes it had of playing for a national championship.  It's nice to see it keeping a chip on its shoulder, and using that chip as motivation for the rest of the year.

Still, I'm not sure Terrelle Pryor should have gone here following the Purdue game.

"Not to take anything away from Wisconsin at all - I really don't want it to come off like this - but they weren't better than us," said Pryor. "Everybody knows that if we play nine out of 10 times, we'd beat Wisconsin."

Actually, Terrelle, I don't know that at all.  From what I saw of Wisconsin's win that night, they pretty much dominated the Buckeyes up front.  It's not a fluke for an offensive line to continually blow one of the best defensive lines in the country off the ball, and open huge holes for John Clay to thunder through.

Now, maybe things would have been a bit different had the game been played in Columbus, but to me, it seemed obvious that in Madison, Wisconsin was the better team that night.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com