My sports attention over the weekend was clearly focused on college football including the Division 1-AA playoffs where there is a family rooting interest in Delaware as one of the participants. By the way, Delaware won its first-round game over Sacred Heart and will face Jacksonville State next weekend. What caught my attention was an announcement by the college football mavens regarding rules changes and the college football playoff. Three rule changes and a “point of emphasis” will be in effect in 2021; there is good bad and ugly in that mix.
- Good: When there is suspicion that players have been faking injuries to slow down “up-tempo offenses”, officials can use replay after the fact to make a determination. This process may not mete out punishment proximal to the “faking”, but it is a way to try to cut down on bogus injuries – – and that practice seems to have spread widely in recent seasons.
- Bad: The team area on the sidelines has been expanded to run from 20-yardline to 20-yardline. It has always been between the 25-yardlines until last year when – to promote social distancing on the bench, believe it or not – the team area extended between the 15-yardlines. So now we settle for a compromise? Look, the players and coaches make the officials’ jobs harder; if they want to make a change there, compress everyone into the space between the 40-yardlines to assist the officials.
- Ugly: The overtime rules will change. Some will say that is a blessing – – until you hear what they are going to do. Starting this Fall, teams must go for two-point conversions starting in the second overtime period; that mandate did not take effect until the third overtime period in the past. And here is the horrible part – – after the second overtime period and if the score is still tied, the game will change into a two-point conversion shoot out. College football will emulate soccer and change the game itself to break a tie. Supposedly, a major motivation for this change was a 7-overtim game between Texas A&M and LSU; I do not care if it were a 10-OT game; at least they played real football to determine the winner.
The “point of emphasis” is a good one but it should not be necessary if officials would have asserted themselves properly in the past. For this year – and presumably going forward – game officials will “crack down” on taunting penalties and on coaches who enter the field or leave the team sideline area to argue with calls made on the field. Both of those things are good things, and they should have been common practice at all times in the past. The fact that they need a “point of emphasis” for 2021 is not praiseworthy for college football officials.
My other major issue from the weekend related to college football was sort of disappointing. With the NFL Draft on tap for later this week, I gathered my notes from last year’s college football watching for my annual pre-Draft prospect commentary. I had a sense that I had watched a lot less college football last year than normal given the schedule uncertainties and the smaller number of games on TV; but until I reviewed my notes, I did not realize that I had a serious deficiency on my hands.
I always watch a lot more of the major schools in Power 5 conferences than other schools but my notes this year make it seem as if I watched that football exclusively. And there are fewer players noted – – and they are the “usual suspects”. Everyone has read about the 5 QBs who could go in Round 1 this year; I never saw Trey Lance – – but I have notes on the other four. I have plenty of players from Alabama and Clemson in my notes and there is other representation from the SEC and the ACC and the Big 10 – but there are only 14 players that have not been written up to death already.
So, I decided to dispense with the normal pre-Draft format and break this into small parts here:
- QBs other than the “Big Five” slated to go in Round 1: I thought Kellen Mond (Texas A&M) improved a lot from junior year to senior year and liked his “size and physique”. I liked the passing accuracy of Kyle Trask (Florida) but thought he “might not have the arm-strength to make it in the NFL”.
- RB other than Najeh Harris or Travis Etienne: I think Michael Carter (UNC) will be a good pick for the middle rounds because he “can be part of a running or a passing game”. He is short but he is big; he “looks like a pro” to me.
- TE other than Kyle Pitts: I noted that Pat Freiermuth (Penn State) is “big, strong and great hands”. I said he would be a good pick on the third day even though he is “not fast”.
- WRs you have not read lots about: I thought Dyami Brown (UNC) has “sprinter speed” and “is a deep threat on every snap”. He also has “ good hands when the ball gets to him in the open”. I also noted that Terrance Marshall Jr. (LSU) was “overshadowed by Ja’Maar Chase but Marshall is big and has great hands”. I noted that he could become a “possession/Red Zone receiver”.
- OL: I noted Wyatt Davis (Ohio State) was a “really good pass blocker”. I noted that Aaron Banks (Notre Dame) was a “powerful run blocker and a good-enough pass blocker”. Both were mid-round picks in my estimation.
- DL: Davyon Nixon (Iowa) is “powerful as a run stopper” and “gets middle pressure on many pass plays”. I had him listed as a late round pick. Azeez Ojulari (Georgia) is “super quick pass rusher” but “not yet big enough for NFL except on obvious passing downs”. I had him as a late round pick also.
- Linebackers: I wrote that Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame) had “plenty of speed to cover in the passing game” and was “ a sure tackler in the run game”. However, I also noted he is “too small to play LB in the NFL – screen graphic says he weighs 220 lbs”. So, maybe a late-round pick?
- DBs not named Patrick Surtain II: Caleb Farley (Va Tech) is “tall with a long wingspan and good cover skills”. However, I also noted that he is “not the best tackler on the field”. Asante Samuel, Jr. (Florida State) is “genetically designed to be a cornerback” and “very physical in pass defense and in tackling”. I thought both players here were second to fourth round picks.
- Punter: Oscar Bradburn (Va Tech) “gets good distance plus good hang time”. My note says, “have his agent on speed-dial to get him as an undrafted free agent”.
So, that takes care of college football business from last weekend and sets you up for a few names to look for in the later rounds of the NFL Draft at the end of this week. I shall close today with an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times related to college football:
“Ohio State safety Marcus Hooker was arrested on DUI charges after he passed out behind the wheel while waiting in a McDonald’s drive-thru line.
“Defense lawyers can’t decide whether to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or ‘I deserve a break today.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………