Connor Allen

Weekly Update

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CFB Storylines of the Week

Friday, August 10, 2018


1. USC Senior LB Porter Gustin (6’5/262) has been on a roller coaster of news the past few days. On Wednesday, reports surfaced that he would need an MRI after injuring his knee during practice, albeit the scan being “extremely precautionary.” That unfortunately didn’t pan out, as Gustin was forced to undergo surgery on his knee to repair a partially-torn meniscus. His original timeframe for return was set around 4-to-6 weeks, but the most recent reports peg him to return within 2-to-4 weeks.

A partial meniscus tear isn’t the worst injury to have in the knee, and by the doctor’s estimates there is a chance he even suits up in the Trojans’ first game against UNLV on September 1st. He likely won’t be forced into action as it should be an easy win for USC as big favorites, but the following week matches them up against Stanford. That’s likely his target to return. With lingering bicep and toe issues that limited him to only four games in 2017, Gustin needs to do everything in his power—as well as be lucky-- to stay healthy this season. He is an important part of the Trojans’ strong linebacker corps and will likely have professional aspirations after this season. When healthy, he is an intriguing prospect with a projected 35-37 inch vertical jump, max bench press of 475 pounds, and max squat of 575 pounds. A strong season could influence some scouts to turn a blind eye on his previous injuries.

 

2.  Kansas State and HC Bill Snyder agreed on a five-year contract through 2023. This is a long commitment for a coach who will be 83 at the end of his expected tenure but for that reason his contract is slightly back-loaded, with a $300,000 raise in both 2019 and 2020.  Snyder’s consistency as a coach is remarkable with only one season below .500 since his return to the team in 2009. His all-time winning percentage of 65.6 percent over 321 games is equally impressive with his total wins (210) ranking third among active coaches, behind only William & Mary Head Coach Jimmye Laycock and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

 

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3. Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw won’t be playing for a fifth year due to Army’s rule against redshirting. He’s chosen to graduate early rather than try and appeal the rule and play for another season. While not known as a great passer, Bradshaw ends his career with the 5th most rushing yards in Army history with 3,040. He also holds the single season record for rushing yards with 1,746. The Black Knights will likely turn to Bradshaw’s former roommate, junior QB Kelvin Hopkins. The transition to a new quarterback won’t be an easy one after losing multiple starters on the offensive line. It’s unlikely they will be able to repeat as the No. 1 rushing offense in the country, but Harmon should be a competent replacement.

 

4. Purdue redshirt sophomore WR Jared Sparks started his collegiate career as a two-star dual-threat quarterback. After giving up hopes of starting at quarterback, Sparks’ switched to wide receiver prior to the 2017 season. The 6’1", 200-pound athlete wasn’t consistent last season but flashed his explosiveness with a blow-up game against Northwestern on November 11th with 11 receptions for 130 yards. Current reports are that Sparks is the "early leader" at outside receiver in fall camp and has been the best pass-catcher on the field. If he can continue his impressive play throughout the preseason, he’ll have the opportunity to make a significant impact as the team’s No. 1 WR.

 

LSU sophomore LB Tyler Taylor has been suspended indefinitely following his arrest in May. This is related to a suspected burglary which occurred in January. Taylor was reportedly the getaway driver for a pawn shop robbery that ended up getting popped. LSU claims to have had no knowledge about the arrest and allowed him to practice up until Wednesday. This seems hard to believe as most teams know of their player’s run-ins with the law within hours of a problem. The school currently has him “suspended indefinitely”, and likely won’t make an official judgement on his status prior to any charges being filed or dropped. The Tigers will likely prepare to lose Taylor for an extended amount of time, a significant loss as the former four-star recruit played in every game as a freshman last season and recorded 32 tackles – including 1.5 for loss—and 1.5 sacks.

 

Baylor is on thin ice after an alleged sexual assault took place that involved two of their players. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Mac Engel reported on Thursday that Baylor’s representatives are suggesting they self-impose a one-year bowl ban proactively. He also mentioned that Baylor was hoping to slide by without any penalty from the NCAA but the investigation is going south. This report was immediately denied by the school who said "It is irresponsible to report that Baylor is considering a football bowl ban for the 2018 season when in fact the NCAA investigation into the prior football staff and previous athletics administration remains active and ongoing.” The investigation is expected to wrap up within the next 60 days, and there is a very wide range of potential outcomes of punishment for the Bears based on the findings of the NCAA

 

7. After suffering a season-ending knee injury in the 2017 opener against Alabama, it was unsure whether Florida State redshirt junior QB Deondre Francois would regain his starting spot in 2018.  In addition to his injury, he was also cited for possession of marijuana this offseason but has only received a slap on the wrist from FSU. Francois has cleared these hurdles and is now getting reps with the first-team offense during camp. Despite the early signs pointing towards him beginning the season as the starter, he will have to hold off sophomore James Blackman who was a competent replacement in Francois’ absence.

 

8. Once QB Keller Chryst transferred from Stanford, it was expected he would become the starter at Tennessee. Throughout the offseason Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has been fairly nondescript about his plans at quarterback, and most recently wouldn't commit to a timetable on finalizing their starting quarterback. Early this week he said, "If we have somebody that asserts himself, it might be three days into fall camp, it might be six weeks into the season. We have to figure out who gives us the best opportunity. They will control that. Not us." It’s easy to brush this off as basic coach-speak, but if Chryst had really separated himself at this point, there isn’t a reason to avoid naming him the starter. Chryst was below average in his last season of action, posting a 54.2 percent completion rate on 144 attempts. In all likelihood he will be the starting quarterback against West Virginia on September 1st.

 

9. Michigan State sophomore CB Josiah Scott suffered a dreaded undisclosed non-contact injury and will miss multiple months. Head coach Mark Dantonio believes he will probably” only miss “two months, but it could be more. The Spartans will try and replace the former freshman All-American, and Dantonio believes they have “guys that can play.”  This injury will likely sideline thorough their matchup with Northwestern on October 6th, but hopefully he can return after that. The Spartans will play Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State in three of their next five weeks. He will be a welcome addition when he returns to full health.

 

10. South Alabama HC Steve Campbell said junior RB Tra Minter is "set to have a breakout year" in 2018 after being the starter in 2018. Minter averaged a miserable 3.2 yards per carry on 107 attempts, a product of his own ineffectiveness and the offenses struggles. On the contrary, now-graduated RB Xavier Johnson was able to produce at a clip nearly two full yards per carry higher than Minter in 2017. Campbell’s comments lead me to believe Minter will turn in a more efficient season.

 

 

Take it or leave it: An idea for the week

We posit – Notre Dame has a better chance to make the College Football Playoff than most think.

If the Irish pull off a 12-0 season — and maybe 11-1 — they should be able to land a bid to the College Football Playoffs in 2018. Before you say I’m crazy, diving into their schedule presents ample reason for optimism.

Bill Connelly’s S&P+ Projections have Notre Dame playing against just one team in the top ten (Michigan) and that comes at home. They play four more teams projected to be in the top 25 (Virginia Tech, Stanford, Florida State, and USC) but two of those games also come at home. They don’t have to play back-to-back road games this year and are favored in all but one game this season according to odds from Vegas. Once again, that’s  the game against Michigan where they square off against Ole Miss transfer QB Shea Patterson, and he is yet to play a down in a vastly different Michigan offense. This game will by far be their most challenging and if the Irish can pull of the win as a slight home underdog, something that happens frequently with two teams of a similar caliber, they have a chance at making a run at this.

I go more in-depth on why the team has plenty of firepower on both sides of the ball in my Independents team previews, but for the too-long; didn’t read crowd, i'll try to make it quick. They return nine starters from an elite defense and have skill position players that will be able to make up for the deficiencies of QB Brandon Wimbush. Their strongest asset will be the defense who ranked 13th in run defense S&P+ and seventh in pass defense S&P+ last season. As hard as it is to believe, both of those numbers could potentially improve if the unit continues to develop chemistry.

The only thing left to click for the Irish is the offense. They have a seemingly endless supply of former blue-chip recruit offensive lineman, helping to subsidize the losses of first-round offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. Junior WRs Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin provide Wimbush with reliable options in the passing game while senior RB Dexter Williams and sophomore RB Tony Jones Jr are a solid duo in the backfield.

With the schedule and returning personnel aligning for a big season, don’t be surprised if Notre Dame lives up to the hype and sneaks into the College Football playoff in 2018.



You can find Connor on Twitter @ConnorAllenNFL.
Email :Connor Allen



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