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Tag:Josh Nunes
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football



Posted by Tom Fornelli


With teams having already started or starting spring practice over the next few weeks. there are a lot of players across the country who will be charged with replacing someone who has come and gone before them. It's an annual rite of spring in college football, when the senior quarterback from last season is putting the finishing touches on his final semester as a college student, and the sophomore who isn't even sure what he's majoring in yet realizes he's going to be majoring in Playbook 101 for the next few weeks.

Of course, while roster turnover is a common occurence in college football, there are bigger shoes to fill than others, and in this post we take a look at the ten biggest pairs looking for a new owner this spring.

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Ryan Broyles began re-writing the Oklahoma record books the moment he stepped on the field in his first game as a Sooner. He caught 7 passes for 141 yards against Cincinnati, both of which were freshman records. Four years later he finished his career having caught more passes than any other receiver in FBS history, pulling in 349 passes for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns.

In other words, he's not the type of player that Oklahoma can just replace with anybody. This spring receivers like Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer will try to replicate Broyles' production in Norman. Whether it will be one of them doing it, or a group effort, Oklahoma will need it to happen if the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title.

9. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Understandably, USC fans were extremely excited by the news that Matt Barkley would be returning for his senior season, and many have pegged the Trojans as a title favorite because of it. What you don't want to do, however, is overlook the fact that the man who was in charge of protecting Barkley's blindside these last few years won't be back.

Though that's how life generally works for offensive lineman like Matt Kalil. As large as they are, they're often overlooked. Kevin Graf, Jeremy Galten, David Garness and Nathan Guertler will all be competing for the unenviable task of being the man in charge of making sure nothing happens to the most valuable piece of the USC offense.

8. Mark Barron, S, Alabama

One of the problems with having a defense as strong as the one we saw in Tuscaloosa last season is that you're bound to lose players to the next level, and the Crimson Tide have no shortage of beasts making their way to greener pastures. Still, the Tide have a knack for churning out defensive lineman and linebackers, but safeties like Mark Barron don't come along all that often.

Barron made 231 tackles for Nick Saban in his four seasons, including 13 for a loss, while picking off 12 passes. Barron was the type of player that could defend the pass and the run, and he won't be easily replaced. Can Robert Lester or freshman Vinnie Sunseri step up and be the next stud in the Alabama secondary?

7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Based purely on production, there may be no larger shoes to fill in the country than Luke Kuechly's. There may not have been more than 3 plays run by opposing offenses in which Kuechly wasn't in on the tackle. Kuechly finished 2011 with 191 tackles. The next highest total on the Boston College defense belonged to Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74.

As our own Chip Patterson put it, "for Boston College, replacing Kuechly is like any other team replacing 2 1/2 players." Though it's been proven that it can be done, as Kuechly himself once had to fill the shoes left behind by Mark Herzlich. Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto -- who has a name that would be hard to replace -- will be the two linebackers looking to repeat the feat.

6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Many casual college football fans never truly appreciated how amazing a player Morris Claiborne was for LSU in 2011 simply because opposing offenses weren't dumb enough to test him all that often. Throw in some Honey Badger exploits with a bit of Les Miles being Les Miles, and Claiborne gets a bit lost in the gumbo. Still, Claiborne truly was the definition of a shutdown corner for LSU, playing a pivotal role on one of the best defenses in the country.

While Tyrann Mathieu will be back in 2012, he's not the cover corner that Claiborne was, so it will be up to Tharold Simon to fill the role. One he seems capable of considering he led LSU with 10 passes broken up in 2011 playing mostly as a nickel back.

5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

I won't lie to you. Even when Mark Ingram will still in Tuscaloosa running through SEC defenses, I always felt that Trent Richardson was the best running back on the Alabama roster. Now both are gone, and Richardson will be harder to replace than Ingram was simply because Trent can't replace himself.

Can Eddie Lacy be the next Heisman finalist in the Alabama backfield? He showed some promise in 2011, and in an offense like Alabama's, the opportunities will be there. Still, even if Lacy is extremely talented, there are only so many shoes capable of doing this.

4. Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon, QB/WR, Oklahoma State

A bit of a cheat, I know, but the truth is that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon felt like extensions of one another for the past two seasons in Stillwater. Their success was as a duo. I mean, Blackmon caught 40 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which accounted for 53% of the 75 touchdown passes Weeden threw with the Cowboys.

Now we know that Oklahoma State is going to continue putting points on the board without them, but will the offense ever be as prolific when the combination is Clint Chelf or Wes Lunt to Tracy Moore? We'll get our first clues this spring.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Maybe you think that LaMichael James isn't all that hard to replace given the weapons Oregon has in the backfield. I can see your point, but I can also point out that James nearly doubled Kenjon Barner's rushing total (1,805 yards to 939) in 2011. I mean, this is a man who rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry in 2011, yet we didn't think it was so amazing based simply on the fact we'd already seen him do similar things in the previous two seasons.

We just got used to it.

Yes, Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are extremely talented backs, but the fact is there's no easy way to replace a back who accounted for 5,888 all-purpose yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons as a Duck, all at the speed of light.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Will it be harder to fill RG3's shoes, or his socks? Neither will be easy. While we all know how talented Griffin was as a quarterback for Baylor in 2011 and the two seasons before it, it's his impact on the program that will leave the biggest impression. Baylor went from a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12 to a team that can call itself the home of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Nick Florence will be the favorite to replace Griffin this spring, but he'll never be able to have the impact on the Baylor program that Griffin did. Instead he'd be much better served to focus on replacing the production on the field. Something that won't be easy, either, but given Art Briles' history with quarterbacks and the way Florence performed in place of Griffin against Texas Tech, it may not be that far-fetched, either.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Andrew Luck didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Robert Griffin did, but that doesn't diminish the impact he had on the Stanford program. In the three seasons before Luck showed up in Palo Alto, Stanford was 10-26, including a 1-11 season in 2006. In Luck's three seasons the Cardinal went 31-8, played in two BCS bowl games and became a national program.

Stanford is essentially the school Notre Dame used to be, and it's all thanks to Luck. Of course, the question now is whether or not Stanford can maintain the success they had under Luck with a new quarterback. Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo will all enter spring practice looking to replace the most important player in the history of Stanford football, and that's a list that includes John Elway.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:32 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford



Posted by Bryan Fischer


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Stanford.

Spring Practice Started: February 27

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: Six on offense, seven on defense, one kicker.

Three Things To Look For:

1. Who replaces Andrew Luck? The Cardinal enter the A.L.-era - After Luck - with five quarterbacks on the roster angling to replace the best quarterback in school history. It figures to be a two-horse race however, with sophomore Brett Nottingham and junior Josh Nunes being the two head coach David Shaw will be keeping a close eye on. Nottingham was the backup all of last year but Shaw has made it clear he has to earn the top spot with his play and in the spirit of competition, likely won't name a starter until fall camp. Both guys are big, pro-style signal-callers with good arms so this will likely come down to who has the best grasp of the playbook and is most in-sync with many of the new faces on the offense.

2. Players emerging on the offensive line and at tight end, wide receiver. While Luck was the headliner in Stanford's transformation into a top 10 team, offensive linemen like Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro also had a significant role with their play along the line. The team plays physical and with a first-time starter and stable of running backs will undoubtedly try to continue to establish the ground game and use play action to open things up in the passing game. The line will be a fluid situation until fall camp, when the Cardinal's highly regarded recruiting class arrives with players who could end up making an early impression. Wide out Ty Montgomery emerged late in the year and figures to be the top target and deep threat but he needs others to emerge alongside him at receiver and tight end if the offense is going to move the ball through the air.

3. New staff gelling. Shaw starts spring practice with one spot on his coaching staff still open but hopes to find somebody to coach inside linebackers soon. Two coordinators are new in 2012, after defensive coordinator Jason Tarver jumped across the bay to the Raiders and Pete Alamar being brought on board to handle special teams following the departure of Brian Polian to Texas A&M. The biggest loss is Tarver, who did a great job last year with a unit that suffered several notable injuries. Stanford has overcome the loss of assistants before but it's always something to keep an eye on given all of the turnover on the roster. Also notable is the sudden death of long time equipment manager Ron Yamaguchi of an apparent heart attack, shocking the team and community and leaving big void in the program.

To check in on the rest of the Pac-12 and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: July 11, 2011 2:29 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 2:57 pm
 

LSU's Jefferson: 'I'm the starter, hands-down'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was quite the interesting weekend for LSU's Jordan Jefferson at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy. On the (training) field, Jefferson made waves by performing well enough for no less an authority than Chris Mortensen to include him in the same Twitter breath with Landry Jones and Andrew Luck.

But what Jefferson did off the field Friday afternoon might have had even more impact. Asked about the possibility of yielding his starting position to JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger, Jefferson had this to say (emphasis added):
“You hear it a lot, but in reality, I will be the starter, hands down,” Jefferson said.
He continued.
“Even though I know I’m the starter, you also have to stay humble at times because you never know what can happen,” Jefferson said. “I’m doing the best of my abilities to teach Mettenberger the full game since I’ve been here for three years. There’s going to come a point of time where he will be the starter so just passing down the knowledge will benefit him a lot.”
Clearly, Jefferson doesn't see the LSU quarterback "battle" as one between colleagues in which he's only a favorite; he sees it as something other than a battle entirely, a mentor-pupil relationship in which Mettenberger's ascension (barring injury) is as unlikely as Josh Nunes usupring Luck at Stanford.

Based on Les Miles's comments this past spring, he may not be entirely wrong, and there's no question Jefferson will begin LSU's 2011 season under center. But we nonetheless have to question whether Jefferson doesn't seem to be overcompensating for some legitimate, nagging worry with an attitude that -- we feel -- borders on cockiness.

Of course, if Jefferson shows the improvement shown off at the Manning Academy (and Mortenson wasn't alone in his assessment), he really won't have anything to worry about. But the last time LSU fans got a look at him, he was busy going 4-of-14 in the Bayou Bengals' spring game without a touchdown. Until he takes the field against Oregon and proves that performance -- and all the other mediocre performances of the past three seasons -- are behind him, the doubts are going to persist.

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