BOZICH | College Football Hot Reads: Time to worry about Charlie - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | College Football Hot Reads: Time to worry about Charlie Strong at Texas? No, but some are

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Charlie Strong and Texas need to hook a victory at Kansas Saturday. Charlie Strong and Texas need to hook a victory at Kansas Saturday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Playing it three snaps at a time and breaking away from other college football clichés while delivering the Week Five College Football Hot Reads Notebook:

Florida State is number one, the Southeastern Conference is number one and the Heisman Trophy race is looking for a number one.

But the number one person people are talking about in college football is … former Louisville coach Charlie Strong. If Strong had any hair on his head, he'd be tugging on it because he is having a challenging time convincing Texas players to follow him the way Bilal Powell, Greg Scruggs, Alex Kupper and others followed him at Louisville.

People are saying things and writing things. People are already worried about his future, which is silly if you have taken one 40-second play clock and looked at the great work Strong did at Louisville. But people are saying things and writing things.

Newsworthy things – word arrived Thursday that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as well as DeMaurice Smith of the Players' Association are interested in huddling with Strong to discuss the Core Values system that Strong has taken from U of L to UT. They like it. They have a PR nightmare to work though. They want Strong to help.

Tough things – former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell and radio personality Paul Finebaum discussed the possibility that Strong has “lost the locker room,” with the Longhorns after Strong announced that he had dismissed another key player (the ninth this season) for a violation of team rules.

Curious things – Greg Couch, a former columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times now working at Bleacher Report, praised Strong for the discipline he is trying to bring to the country club atmosphere in Austin but wondered how long UT fans will have the stomach for losing players – and games.

Revealing things – ESPN reported this week that Strong has increased the regularity of the drug testing within the UT program. Strong is on track to more than double the rate of drug tests administered by Mack Brown (an average of 104) over the last three seasons.

"You have 95 percent that's doing it right, and then you just have that small faction of guys that feel like this is the way they're going to do it whether I like it or not," Strong said Tuesday. "I just tell them that there's always other teams out there, but this isn't the school for them. You can think about it: The University of Texas, great academics, great athletics, what more could you ask for?"

What Texas fans are asking for this weekend is a victory – and it is a victory the Longhorns (1-2) and Strong really, really, really could use.

Texas visits Charlie Weis and Kansas, the worst team in the Big 12. After playing the Jayhawks, the Longhorns face back-to-back games against the toughest teams in the league – Baylor and Oklahoma. Fans have a much tougher time swallowing discipline and the high road when your team is 1-5.

If Charlie Strong ever truly wondered what the job was going to be like in Texas, he's gotten his answer this week.

HOT READS (Five stories to stir your interest for this weekend's games.)

1. Which local teams are going bowling? USA Today shares its latest projections, including U of L, Indiana and Western Kentucky.

2. Death threats for making a bad play in college football?Apparently so. Apparently at Clemson after a bad snap in the Florida State game last weekend.

3. Looking for another take on the best games of this week? Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times delivers his selections.

4. Confused by the new college football playoff format? Kevin McGuire shares his thoughts with the Boston Herald.

5. How hot is Brady Hoke's seat at Michigan? Former Michigan quarterback Michael Taylor is happy to share his thoughts.

THE NUMBERS (a quick look at Saturday's games of interest)

Wake Forest at Louisville, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU: People started to get nervous about the University of Louisville offense after the Cards went 11 consecutive possessions without scoring against Virginia. Last week's game against FIU did not stop the pacing.

Now Will Gardner is out at quarterback with a knee injury. Reggie Bonnafon is in with only 20 career passing attempts on his resume.

Wake Forrest is terrible on offense. The Demon Deacons rank last in the ACC in total offense – nearly 120 yards per game below the 13th ranked team. That's bad. But the Wake defense is functional. Wake is fifth in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. Bonnafon's teammates are going to have to assist him.

The Line: Vegas is not fretting Will Gardner's absence. The Cards are still favored by 21 ½. Jeff Sagarin's Predictor ratings favor Louisville by 25.3

The Pick: Louisville 27-7.

Vanderbilt at Kentucky, noon, SEC Network: For once Kentucky won't be the underdog in an SEC game. The Wildcats also won't be the youngest team on the field.

Vandy has played 31 freshmen this season, 12 true freshmen. The Commodores have uncertainty at quarterback. They have a first-year coach (Derek Mason). They're 1-3 and have yet to play a road game. All signs point to a Kentucky victory.

The Line: On Sunday Kentucky was favored by 10 ½. On Friday, Kentucky is favored by 17. Sagarin also likes the Wildcats, but only by 5.3.

The Pick: Kentucky 30-14.

Maryland at Indiana, 1:30 p.m. Big Ten Network: Indiana needs to win this game as badly as the Hoosiers needed to win against Missouri last week.

The road map to six victories and bowl eligibility includes winning your first conference game at home against a team picked to finish in the bottom half of your division. That's Maryland. But with receiver Stefon Diggs, the Terps are speedy and dangerous.

The Line: Indiana by 4, which means if this game were played in Wheeling, W.Va., it would be a toss-up. Sagarin lives in Bloomington, but his numbers lean toward College Park by .42 points.

The Pick: Maryland 37-35.

Western Kentucky at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network: The Hilltoppers' most impressive victory last season was a 19-17 stuffing of the Midshipmen in Bowling Green.

WKU knocked Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds out of the game in the second quarter and quieted the Navy triple-option attack. Reynolds is healthy. Navy lost at home to Rutgers last week, but had won eight straight in Annapolis prior to that.

The Line: The Hilltoppers might have won last season, but Navy figure is the pick by 7 in Annapolis. Sagarin's formula says Navy by 11.88.

The Pick: Navy, 29-27.

Missouri at South Carolina, 7 p.m. ESPN: The Gamecocks need a win because they have already lost a home SEC game to Texas A&M. Missouri needs a win because the Tigers stumbled at home to Indiana last week. Should be fun.

The Line: Gamecocks by 5 in Vegas, Gamecocks by 9.17 according to Sagarin.

The Pick: South Carolina, 34-24.

Eric Crawford likes the Cards, Wildcats, Hoosiers, Hilltoppers and Gamecocks.

LAST WEEK: I whiffed on Indiana, Pittsburgh and East Carolina, nailing Mississippi State over LSU and Louisville over FIU. Eric also went 2-3, missing the LSU loss but getting the East Carolina win. Give us both a D for going 2-3 without picking against the spread.

SEASON RECORD: The ship be sinkin'. We're both 11-9. Help!

FAB FOUR (the four national playoff frontrunners):

1. Texas A&M – One of these days A&M vs. Arkansas might become the signature game in the Southeastern Conference. This Saturday in Arlington, Texas is not one of those days – although Jerry Jones (Arkansas alum) is probably excited to host the party.

2. Florida State – Even Jameis Winston can't stop the Seminoles, although you've got to give him credit for taking his best shot.

3. Oregon – The Ducks have yet to score fewer than 38 points in a game. They're also guaranteed to remain in the Fab Four next week because they don't play until next Thursday when Arizona visits Eugene.

4. Alabama – Bama's trip to Oxford to play Ole Miss has a very, very good chance to serve as the backdrop for ESPN's College GameDay Oct. 4.

HEISMAN THREE (the three leading contenders to strike the pose in December)

1. Amari Cooper, Alabama receiver – Tennessee fans aren't going to believe this, but nobody has benefited from Lane Kiffin's play-calling more than Cooper, who already has 43 catches for 655 yards.

2. Kenny Hill, Texas A&M quarterback – Four games, 13 touchdown passes, one interception, 70 percent completion percentage. What happened on the interception, kid?

3. Todd Gurley, Georgia halfback – one runner, one passer, one receiver, one conference (the SEC).

FAMILIAR FACE (a look at a college football figure with ties to Kentuckiana):

Tre Roberson, the former Indiana quarterback who made a surprise sprint around left end in June and ran all the way to Illinois State.

Two years ago Roberson was IU's starting quarterback until he broke his leg at Massachusetts. Last season Roberson split time with Nate Sudfeld. This season Roberson and Sudfeld were supposed to continue splitting the job until Roberson audibled.

Now he's played two games at Illinois State, which has beaten Mississippi Valley State and Eastern Illinois. Roberson ranks 54th among FCS players in total offense at 210 yards per game. He's run for a pair of touchdowns and passed for four more.

His passing accuracy still needs work. Roberson has completed 59.3 percent of his throws with a pair of picks.

After one month, the move has worked the way it supposed to work – fine for both parties.

LOOKING AHEAD (who next week's local opponents are playing this week):

Syracuse (hosts Louisville next Friday): You could see empty seats in the Carrier Dome when the Orange lost to Maryland this week. The Orange will be the road team at a neutral site this weekend. Why? They're playing Notre Dame in East Rutherford, N.J.

South Carolina (at Kentucky next Saturday) – The Gamecocks beat Vandy last week, but Steve Spurrier was annoyed. They're at home this week but will have to play better to beat Missouri.

North Texas (at Indiana next Saturday): North Texas has split its first four games, beating SMU and Nicholls State and losing to Texas and Louisiana Tech. North Texas is off this week.

Alabama-Birmingham (at Western Kentucky next Saturday): The Blazers (2-1) host Florida International.

LOOKING BACK (who last week's local opponents are playing this week):

Florida International (Lost to U of L last week)– see above. The Panthers head to Legion Field in Birmingham to meet the Blazers. Don't miss it.

Kentucky did not play last weekend.

Missouri (lost to Indiana last week) – The Tigers open defense of their SEC East Division title by visiting South Carolina.

Western Kentucky did not play last weekend.

SAY WHAT?

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was quick to respond when he learned that one of his players, center Ryan Norton, was compelled to delete his Twitter account after he made a bad snap late in the Tigers' overtime loss at Florida State. Said Swinney:

"That's disappointing. I think he deleted his account. It's a shame that young people have to deal with that kind of stuff … Those aren't fans – those are people with issues."

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