Christopher Crawford

Weekly Update

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CFB Storylines of the Week

Friday, July 6, 2018


1. The story of the week -- and what could have been the story of the entire summer -- unfortunately involved an injury. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart confirmed that sophomore QB Jake Fromm had suffered a small fracture in his non-throwing left hand in a freak boating accident at Lake Burton in Georgia.


The good news is that Smart doesn’t believe that Fromm will miss any time, and in fact won’t even miss any of the Bulldogs’ summer workouts. Coming off an impressive freshman campaign that was a quarter away from winning a national championship, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound signal-caller is expected to be the starter again for Georgia, but could face a challenge from incoming freshman Justin Fields.


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2. The Bulldogs got fortunate injury news this week. Wisconsin did not, as they’ll be without the services of junior defensive end Garrett Rand will not play in 2018 after suffering a torn ACL.


Rand (6’3/282) was not a big part of the Wisconsin defense in 2017 with 14 tackles in 13 games, but he was expected to take on a bigger role; with Alec James, Conor Sheehy and Chikwe Obasih all no longer a part of the Wisconsin program and combining for 99 tackles in the 2018 season. It’ll be up to unproven players like Aaron Vopal, Kraig Howe, David Pfaff and Keldric Preston to replace their production now, and all should get long looks from Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst this summer.


3. If we’re being blunt, the Illinois roster is among the worst -- if not the worst -- in all of the Big Ten. The addition of linebacker Camilo Eifler as a transfer from Washington doesn’t change that, but the former four-star recruit certainly could help in 2019.


Eifler (6’2/215) was rated the 94th best player in the country in 2016 by Scout.com, and came to the Huskies with expectations to play early. Unfortunately for him, he was stuck behind a deep linebacker group, and played mostly on special teams as as sophomore after redshirting as a freshman. He reportedly showed flashes of brilliance during practices, however, and with his speed, he could be a player who helps Illinois in stopping both the run and the pass. We won’t see him until 2019 because of the transfer rules, but he’s a player to remember.


4. Illinois wasn’t the only Big Ten school to receive a former four-star commit this week via transfer. Former Notre Dame running back C.J. Holmes announced that he will be attending Penn State as a walk-on.


Holmes was dismissed from the Notre Dame team after a shoplifting charge in December, along with three other players. He had eight carries for 32 yards in his only year with the FIghting Irish. The 6-foot, 190-pound tailback won’t be guaranteed anytime, but there was a reason he had hype before his dismissal, and he could provide depth in 2019 after sitting out the 2018 campaign to satisfy transfer rules.


5. Wyoming was one of the better defenses among Group of Five teams last year, but they could be without their projected starter at weakside linebacker. Junior defender Cassh Maluia was arrested and charged with suspicion of driving under the influence, underage consumption of alcohol and driving without a license. The defender registered 74 tackles last year, with 3.5 of them coming for loss with a sack and an interception. Cowboys coach Craig Bohl should announce what type of discipline Maluia will face soon.


6. Kansas has its new Athletic Director, and it’s already creating speculation for who will coach the Jayhawks in 2019.


The Jayhawks have hired former Arkansas AD Jeff Long to a five-year contract worth $1.5 million annually, with Kansas Athletics Inc. paying $1.3 million of the total and the university paying the remaining $200,000. It will become official on July 11.


That hiring has many connecting former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema to the Jayhawks job -- even with David Beaty still employed -- and it does make sense. Bielema’s tenure didn’t end well with the Razorbacks, but he has shown the ability to win at Wisconsin, and he would offer some upside at a school that has been a borderline laughing stock for nearly a decade. If Beaty doesn’t win five-plus games, expect a new coach in Lawrence in 2018, and that coach could be Bielema.


7. Several four-star 2019 players decided on their college choices this week. Eric Gray announced his pledge to Michigan as one of the best all-purpose backs in the country. The Aggies received a commitment from Bobby Wolfe, a cornerback who ranks 26th in the country. Penn State hooked Bobby Dunmore, a 6-2 receiver who was also considering schools like Florida State and Auburn. Other four-star commitments include defensive end Byron Young to Alabama, and linebacker Donte Starks to LSU.


8. Is Lincoln Riley throwing shade at Georgia? The Oklahoma coach went on ESPNU Radio that "if you throw Georgia in the Big 12 every year, there is no way they are a top-five defense in the country." In reality, this is meant more as a compliment to the other Big 12 offenses, but after scoring 48 points against the Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl -- admittedly in a loss -- it also could be that Riley believes the SEC offenses might not be a great litmus test. Shots fired?


9. Northwestern senior QB Clayton Thorson told reporters this week that he’s doing “everything in his power” to take the field for their opener against Purdue on August 30. If you don’t recall, the senior signal-caller suffered a gruesome injury against Kentucky; tearing his ACL while catching a pass on a trick-play in the Music City Bowl. He was mostly on the sidelines during spring practices, and the Wildcats might want to play things on the cautious side with Thorson. If he’s not able to go, Northwestern would likely go with TJ Green, Aidan Smith and Andrew Marty as the starter against the Boilermakers.


10. It’s already comparison season for draft prospects, and NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah has one for West Virginia senior quarterback Will Grier: Former TCU and current Cincinnati Bengal Andy Dalton. Jeremiah notes that both are “athletic and creative with the ball in their hands. They don't wow you with size, but they have every tool necessary to play at a winning level for their team,” Grier is considered to be at or near the top of many quarterback boards to start the year. While Dalton’s star has faded slightly, it’s still a comp that suggests a big future for the 6-foot-2 signal-caller.


Thought experiment of the week

 

We believe that Washington should employ the Wildcat offense more often in 2018. 


The Wildcat offense has seen it’s popularity drop over the past few years, but it certainly isn’t fazed out, and certain offenses are built better to run it than others.


One of those offense that looks equipped to run it is the Washington Huskies.


The Wildcat requires a running back who can handle the ball and has excellent vision. The Huskies certainly have that in Myles Gaskin. It also needs a second tailback that keeps defenses from focusing in. That should be Salvon Ahmed, who showed flashes of brilliance in his freshman campaign by rushing for 388 yards and bolstering an impressive 6.4 yards-per-carry average despite being third on the depth chart behind Gaskin and the departing Lavon Coleman.


The Huskies also have one of the quickest players in the Pac-12 in Chico McClatcher that has shown the ability to be very effective on the fly sweep; a play that can be a big part of the offense.


Those are positive reasons for running the Wildcat, but there are other reasons why it could/should be implemented by the offense in 2018: concerns about the pass game. Jake Browning is one of the most accurate passers in all of college football, but he doesn’t possess an elite arm -- and the arm strength has arguably gotten worse since undergoing shoulder surgery in the winter of 2016.


Washington will also be without 2018 second-round pick Dante Pettis, and while there are several talented four-star recruit talents in the offense like Ty Jones, Alex Cook, and more; these are unproven commodities. The go-to player in the passing game should be sophomore tight end Hunter Bryant, and there are questions about his availability to begin the year.


The Huskies have as much talent in the Pac-12 as any team in 2018, if not more. If they’re going to capitalize on it, however, the run game is going to have to be the focal point, and putting the ball in the hands of Gaskin, Ahmed and McClatcher in that fashion could be the key to making another trip to the College Football Playoff.



Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.
Email :Christopher Crawford



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