The Texans have a tough choice to make. An exciting quarterback or a can’t miss defensive prospect? Courtesy of SB Nation
As the Superbowl hype dies down, NFL fans get focused on the draft and their team’s needs to improve its roster. The team in the news the most is the Houston Texans, a team with plenty of talent but one that vastly underachieved this season winning only two games, hence securing the first overall pick. The only problem with having the first overall pick this year is the decision on whether to go offense or defense. The two seemingly obvious choices to go number one are Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney. Both were stars at the college level, yet both have questions that GM’s and scouts want answered. Ironically, the Texans faced a similar predicament in 2007, on whether to draft the elusive and wildly popular Reggie Bush or stud defensive end Mario Williams. The Texans took Williams and he did have a successful stint with the team, setting the franchise record for sacks and forced fumbles before he signed the most lucrative contract for a defensive player in NFL history with the Buffalo Bills. Bush, on the other hand has bounced around the NFL, from New Orleans to Miami to Detroit and has never really reached his potential as an elite running back. Having the number one pick can be a double edged sword as you get the number one player on your wish list, but making a mistake with the number one pick can set back your franchise.
Why the Texans should pick Manziel:
Will the Texans take the electrifying Johnny Football? Courtesy of NY Times
Johnny Football would immediately bring excitement to the city of Houston and its deep football roots. He is “box office” and can perform at a very high level. Manziel fits the mold of the new generation of QBs that can extend plays with their feet, a deadly weapon for those who know when to slide and avoid injury. He can also throw, racking up 4,117 yards last season, good for 9th in the country. He also held the 3rd highest passer rating at 172.9 only below Bryce Petty and heisman winner Jameis Winston. In the AFC South with the emergence of Andrew Luck and with the Jaguars presumingly drafting a quarterback whether it be Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles, the Texans need someone who can put points on the board. Johnny is also a Texas kid born and raised, so the pressure of playing under the most football-centric state shouldn’t faze him. There have been some questions about Manziel’s height as he measured below six feet tall, but he does have big hands to grip the ball in inclement conditions, a good sign for NFL quarterback prospects. Some also question Johnny’s dedication to football due to his antics last summer when he partied with various celebrities such as Drake and LeBron James. Although his partying may seem immature, Johnny’s play on the field spoke for itself. As a fierce competitor, I believe he will realize the difference in preparation required for the NFL game compared to the college game and will spend more time in the film room, readying himself for NFL defenses. The Texans clearly need to take Manziel if they want to resurface as a playoff team. Look at the teams who made the playoffs this year, Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Cincinnati and San Diego in the AFC and Seattle, Carolina, Philadelphia, Green Bay, San Francisco and New Orleans in the NFC. All have one common denominator, an average to elite quarterback. Even if Johnny if average in his rookie year, I believe the Texans could make the playoffs with the talent surrounding him.
Why the Texans should pick Clowney:
Will the Texans take Jadeveon Clowney just like they did with Mario Williams? Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Jadeveon Clowney has been deemed the next great defensive end, drawing comparisons to legends like Bruce Smith and Lawrence Taylor. If the Texans take the so-called “next great defensive end” could you imagine him on one end of the line of scrimmage and JJ Watt on the other? That would be the most feared defensive line in the NFL without a doubt. Clowney is fast and is an athletic freak of nature at 6’6 250 pounds with long arms, he has the ideal frame to beat tackles off the edge. Drafting Clowney would provide the Texans with two defensive stoppers who could come after Andrew Luck twice a year. Although pressure on the quarterback doesn’t necessarily equate to wins, it can definitely alter game plans. Another reason why the Texans should take Clowney is the safety of the pick. If Clowney would to fail and be a bust, it would be hard to see anyone criticizing the Texans for taking the supposedly next “Bruce Smith or Lawrence Taylor”. If Clowney reaches this potential, he would be one of the all time greats, a sure-fire hall of famer with impeccable credentials. Clowney is the safer bet but does he have the potential that Johnny does?
If I had to send in the draft card, I would choose Manziel. As the saying goes “scared money doesn’t make money” and I believe the Texans need to take the risk, however big it may be. Defensive ends, however talented they may be, don’t win championships, quarterbacks do. This is not to say that Johnny will win a Superbowl or even be an elite quarterback, but he would provide the Texans with the best chance to win a title.
This week was truly insane. Five Top 10 teams lost and eight in the Top 25. One team even refused to play! Let’s check out this week’s headlines.
Grambling St. Players Refuse to Play
The turmoil surrounding the Grambling State University football program has reached new heights this week. After firing their head coach earlier in the year and starting the season 0-7, the entire team refused to play their next game against Jackson St. As a result of these actions, Grambling St. will forfeit the game to Jackson St. and will have to pay a $20,000 fine. It seems as if the team was unsatisfied with the job interim head coach, George Ragsdale has done. Today, the team sent a letter to the athletic director, which outlined their complaints of the program. This letter included criticisms of the athletic complexes and the jerseys, both of which are stated to be detrimental to the player’s health. In fact, it seems as if the jerseys have caused multiple incidents of Staph Infection. This incident is a disgrace for both the program and the university. The NCAA needs to seriously punish Grambling State for putting their players’ health in jeopardy. Hopefully, Grambling St. and the NCAA can work together to clean this problem up as quickly as possible.
Game of the Week
Boy I was wrong. Florida St. hammered Clemson yesterday (51-14) and showed the country that it deserves to be in the BCS National Championship Game discussion. Jameis Winston had by far his best game of his season throwing for 444 yards and 3 TDs, if not for his one interception in the second quarter, his night would have been flawless. Explosive playmakers, Tahj Boyd (156 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) and Sammy Watkins (68 yards and 1 TD), were unable to counter to Winston’s coming out performance. The game started badly enough for Clemson when, after a 22 yard touchdown pass from Winston to sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and a 28 yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo, Boyd was sacked and fumbled the ball leading to a 37 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by defensive lineman, Mario Edwards. The Tigers responded with a 3 yard touchdown grab by Sammy Watkins, but by halftime the game was 27-7 and too far out of reach for the boys from South Carolina. Last night’s outstanding performance puts famous Jameis and his million dollar smile right in the thick of Heisman Trophy hunt and Florida St. marching towards their first title game appearance since 2000.
Upsets Show Depth in SEC
Five Top 25 SEC teams lost yesterday (LSU 24-27 to Ole Miss, Texas A&M 41-45 to Auburn, South Carolina 21-23 to Tennessee, Georgia 27-31 to Vanderbilt, Florida 17-36 to Missouri), and four of whom were heavy favorites going into the game (Florida was not). While this does hurt the chances of the SEC repeating as BCS National Champions for the eighth straight time, it does show the depth of the conference. When you are playing tough games week in and week out, you are going to lose eventually. It now looks as if there is only one “easy win” within the conference, Kentucky, and under the leadership of Mark Stoops, they have been putting together a monster class headlined by Drew Barker (a four-star QB out of Hebron, Kentucky) and Denzel Ware (a four-star DE out of Crestview, Florida) and are ranked #16 in ESPN’s Recruiting Polls. Soon, there will be no more pushovers within the SEC. And while this week proved that Alabama is the only title-contender within the conference (I need to see more from Missouri’s new starting quarterback, Maty Mauk), the SEC showed that it truly is the most powerful conference in the nation.
Rest of the Top 25
Alabama (#1) won 52-0 over Arkansas – Kenyan Drake (104 yards and 2 TDs) and Derrick Henry (111 yards and 1 TD) led the Alabama offense that rushed for 350 yards. Alabama’s defense held Arkansas to only 256 yards and caused 3 turnovers.
Oregon (#2) won 62- 38 over Washington St. – Marcus Mariota improved his case for the Heisman Trophy with almost 400 yards of total offense and 3 total touchdowns. Oregon had over 600 for the third straight game as it gets ready for UCLA next week. Connor Hallaway threw for 557 yards and 4 touchdowns (as well as 4 interceptions) in a losing effort.
Ohio St. (#4) won 34 – 24 over Iowa – Ohio St. scored 24 second half points to overcome a 17-10 halftime deficit. Carlos Hyde ran for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the one that put the Buckeyes ahead for good. Damon Bullock had 300 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns as Iowa dropped to 4-3 on the season.
LSU (#6) lost 24-27 to Ole Miss – Zach Mettenburger threw 3 first half interceptions leading LSU to a very poor offensive performance. The LSU defense was unable to stop Ole Miss quarterback, Bo Wallace, who threw for 346 yards.
Texas A&M (#7) lost 41-45 to Auburn (#24) – Despite Johnny Manziel’s 5 touchdowns and 500 all-purpose yard day, Texas A&M was unable to overcome Auburn. The Texas A&M defense could not stop Auburn’s rushing attack led by Tre Mason (178 yards and 1 TD) and Nick Marshall (100 yards and 2 TDs)
Louisville (#8) lost 35-38 to UCF – UCF pulled off a stunner when sophomore quarterback, Blake Bortles, threw his second touchdown of the night to Jeff Godfrey with 16 seconds left. Despite the fact that Teddy Bridgewater threw for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns, his quest for the Heisman trophy came to an end today.
UCLA (#9) lost 10-24 to Stanford (#13) – Stanford used the old ground and pound yesterday to physically dominate UCLA, as Tyler Gaffney ran for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. Stanford’s defense stifled Brett Hundley (2 INTs) and the UCLA offense (266 total yards).
South Carolina (#11) lost 21-23 to Tennessee – In a defensive battle (both teams held under 350 total yards), Tennessee needed Michael Palardy’s 19 yard field goal (third of the day) to upset South Carolina. Michael Davis (137 yards and 1 TD) carried South Carolina’s offense.
Baylor (#12) won 71-7 over Iowa St. – The Baylor Bear’s scored over 69 points for the fifth time this season as they dominated a severely under-matched Cyclones team. Heisman candidate, Lache Seastruck, had his fifth 100-yard game and added two touchdowns for the Bears.
Missouri (#14) won 36-17 over Florida (#22) – In Matty Mauk’s first game as a starter, he threw for 295 yards and a touchdown to help the Tigers preserve their undefeated season. The Gator offense was unable to do anything against the Missouri defense as they only had 151 yards of total offense.
Georgia (#15) lost 24-27 to Vanderbilt – Georgia was upset for the second straight week as Vanderbilt scored 17 points in the 4th quarter to erase a 14-point deficit. Preseason Heisman candidate, Aaron Murray, had his worst game of the season throwing for only 114 yards and an interception. Georgia’s rushing game also was hurting with the injury to sophomore sensation, Todd Gurley.
Texas Tech (#16) won 37-27 over West Virginia – The Red Raiders scored the last 21 points to overcome the Mountaineers. Freshman quarterback, Davis Webb, threw for 462 yards and 2 touchdowns to keep Texas Tech undefeated. Next week Texas Tech will have a showdown against Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.
Fresno St. (#17) won 38-14 over UNLV – David Carr had another great game throwing for 412 yards and 4 touchdowns. UNLV was in striking distance until Carr threw for a touchdown to Davante Adams (221 yards and 4 TDs) with 9 minutes remaining. With the win Fresno St. kept its quest for a BCS Bowl alive.
Oklahoma (#18) won 34-19 over Kansas – Oklahoma rebounded from last weeks trouncing from Texas with a convincing victory. The Sooners kept the Kansas offense to only 201 yards and just 16 yards passing.
Virginia Tech (#19) was off this week, they play Duke next week.
Washington (#20) lost 24-53 to Arizona St. – The Sun Devils moved into first place in the PAC-12 South by completely shutting down Keith Price (217 yards passing) and the Husky offense. Washington was only able to make 12 first downs and had a 24 percent 3rd Down conversion rate. Senior running back, Marion Grice, led the way for Arizona State with 195 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving).
Oklahoma St. (#21) won 24-10 over TCU – The Cowboys overcame their worst offensive performance of the season by shutting down the TCU offense. They caused four turnovers and held TCU to only 325 yards of offense. John Stewart had a 95-yard punt return to get the Oklahoma St. festivities rolling.
N. Illinois (#23) won 38-17 over C. Michigan – N. Illinois continued its streak of 19 straight regular season victories going with a commanding win over the Chippewas. Jordan had 316 yards rushing (as well as 155 yards passing) and 4 total touchdowns in the win.
Wisconsin (#25) won 56-32 over Illinois – Wisconsin used their punishing rushing offense, led by Melvin Gordon (142 yards and 3 TDs) and James White (98 yards and 2 TDs) to overpower the Fighting Illinois. Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 249 yard in a losing effort.
Heisman Power Rankings
In the thick of the season the Heisman Hopefuls show themselves and this week the men were separated from the boys.
1) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – has been spectacular every Saturday, and this week was no different accounting for almost 400 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns.
Season Stats: 2051 passing yards and 19 TDs with 493 yards rushing and 9 TDs
2) Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St. – had his coming out this week against Clemson throwing for 444 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Season Stats: 1885 yards and 20 TDs
3) Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – he was injured for almost a quarter and still put up gigantic numbers (454 yards passing and 4 TDs plus 48 yards rushing and 1 TD)
Season Stats: 2289 yards passing and 18 TDs with 486 yards rushing and 6 TDs
4) Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon St. – with the loss to E. Washington to start the season people have not been paying attention to Oregon St., but Sean Mannion leads the nation in passing and had another great week yesterday against Cal (481 yards and 4 TDs)
Season Stats: 2992 yards and 29 TDs
5) Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St. – kind of reminds me of Case Keenum from a few years ago. Being in a non-BCS conference hurts him, but always puts up big numbers, like last week against UNLV (412 yards and 4 TDs)
Season Stats: 2276 yards and 23 TDs
Player of the Week
Jordan Lynch, QB, NIU 316 yards rushing and 3 TDs with 155 yards passing and 1 TD
What a crazy week in college football. I expect next week will be a lot different, but watch out for Oregon against UCLA.
The ranked games started last night with Miami (5-0) taking on North Carolina (1-4) with the game a lot closer than expected. Miami had been starting to pick up speed in the Coaches and AP rankings and it appeared that they were going to make a statement last night in Chapel Hill. However that was not the case as, UNC used their passing game to dice up the Hurricane secondary. Bryn Renner threw for 297 and a score, while TE Eric Ebron had a career night catching 8 passes for 199 yards and a TD. The Tar Heels were aided by Miami quarterback Stephen Morris throwing four interceptions. But, down by 10 early in the fourth quarter, Dallas Crawford, a redshirt sophomore who replaced the Hurricane’s injured leading rusher Duke Johnson early in the game, lead the Hurricanes back by scoring twice in the final 12 minutes including a three yard score with 16 seconds left. The victory moved Miami to 2-0 in conference play and one step closer to appearing in the ACC Championship game. However, if the Hurricanes want to challenge the winner of the Atlantic Division (mostly likely either Florida St. or Clemson), they will really need to revamp their passing attack. Throwing four interceptions is no way to beat any top tier team.
Game of the Week
This week’s Game of the Week is none other than Florida St. vs. Clemson. It pits two of the top teams in the country and the loser will likely have no hope off playing for the National Championship. It also has the top two offenses and top two defenses in the conference. Clemson has Senior Tahj Boyd at the helm who has thrown for more than 1700 yards this year and a big offensive showing would greatly improve his draft stock. Florida St. will counter with Freshman Jameis Winston who has taken the Seminole Nation by storm. Do not be surprised if this game goes into the high 40s and be decided by a late game winning drive by one of the two quarterbacks. I think that Clemson has too much offensive firepower and too much experience for Florida St. and will remain undefeated with a 52-45 victory.
Other Must Watches
UCLA – Stanford
After a shocking loss last week versus Utah, Stanford will look to rebound against a very tough UCLA team. If they have any chance of winning they will have to out physical the Southern Californian team with their senior running back, Tyler Gaffney (570 yards and 7 TDs), and their stout defense. However, Brett Hundley has so far built off of a great freshman year by so far passing for 1469 yards and 12 TDs. In my opinion he is one of the best quarterback prospects in the nation and has the tools to take out any team in the nation. Hundley and the Bruins will be too much for the Cardinals and will win in a grinder 23-17.
USC – Notre Dame
Despite the fact that both teams are having off years, this is a very historic rivalry (ND leads 44 – 35 with 5 ties) and always makes for exciting television. Notre Dame will be looking to build off a big win last week against Arizona St., while the Trojans will look to rewrite their season after firing Head Coach Lane Kiffin two weeks ago. Both teams have had inexperienced quarterbacks this year as Cody Kessler (1128 yrds. and 8 TDs) and Tommy Rees (1494 and 13) have had a hard time replacing Matt Barkley and Evert Golson respectively. Look for Notre Dame to claim their second consecutive victory over USC with a 20 – 10 victory.
RANKED TEAM WHO MIGHT BE UPSET BUT WON’T
Ole Miss pushed a very good Texas A&M last week and this week will look to upset fellow SEC member LSU. However, LSU might be developing into one of the best teams in the country with the emergence of senior quarterback, Zack Mettenburger. Look for LSU to eke out a 45 – 35 victory.
RANKED TEAM WHO SHOULD NOT GET UPSET BUT WILL
South Carolina may be the 11th best team in the country, but they sure have not played like it. They had three very close victories over below average teams before blowing out Arkansas last week. Steve Spurrier has not gotten enough out of senior quarterback, Connor Shaw, and the unanimous preseason number one overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney has not lived up the expectations (2 sacks and 13 tackles). Meanwhile, Tennessee has begun rebuilding their program under the helm of Head Coach Butch Jones. Look for Butch Jones to claim his first Top 25 victory this week in Knoxville.
Predictions for Rest of Top 25
Alabama (#1) over Arkansas 48 – 10
Oregon (#2) over Washington St. 66-6
Ohio St. (#4) over Iowa 31 – 13
Texas A&M (#7) over Auburn (#24) 41 – 31
Louisville (#8) over UCF 24 – 13
Baylor (#12) over Iowa St. 69 – 28
Florida (# 22) over Missouri (#14) 17 – 14
Georgia (#15) over Vanderbilt 45 – 20
Texas Tech (#16) over West Virginia 38 – 16
Fresno St. (#17) over UNLV 52 – 41
Oklahoma (#18) over Kansas 27 – 21
Washington (#20) over Arizona St. 48 – 38
Oklahoma St. (#21) over TCU 35 – 13
Northern Illinois (#23) over Central Michigan 34 – 20
Wisconsin (#25) over Illinois 38 – 6
Response to David Pollack’s Sexist Remark
Last week during a live College Gameday Broadcast, David Pollack implied that women should be left off the College Football Playoff Committee in response to former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, being named to the committee. While I disagree with the exclusion of women off the committee, Pollack does make a very good point; you should have some football experience before being named to this committee. I would be perfectly fine with the inclusion of Erin Andrews or Rachel Nichols, however someone like Condoleezza Rice would not offer anything constructive to the committee. While I am disappointed with Pollack’s choice of words, this committee will be deciding the fate of college football and has no place for people who have no football experience.
Myles Garrett Commits to Texas A&M
Myles Garrett (Sr. Arlington, TX) committed to Texas A&M today over Alabama, Ohio St., TCU, and Florida St. He is the #7 recruit in the nation according to ESPN and #42 for Rivals.com. This is a big get for Texas A&M and it shows how Texas A&M is now one of the biggest football powerhouses in the country after joining this year. Look for Head Coach, Kevin Sumlin, to build of this recruiting momentum and go for other top recruits like Speedy Noils (New Orleans, LA). So far this year, Garrett has 15 sacks, 43 tackles (31 solo), 23 tackles for losses, 13 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.