BOZICH | Brohm, Purdue scheme for Louisville
Can Jeff Brohm scheme his way into contention against Louisville Saturday with Purdue a 24-point underdog? Which college football teams are usually over-rated? Time for the Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Close the pre-season magazines. Take one final look at the pre-season polls. Clip and save any college football predictions that have annoyed you.
Game Week has arrived.
GameDay (ESPN version) is coming to Bloomington Thursday night when Indiana opens against Urban Meyer University.
GameDay (WDRB version) is bound for Indianapolis, when we host a 90-minute pre-game show (starting at 6 p.m.) from Lucas Oil Stadium, leading into Louisville's season opener with Purdue. It is a FoxSports national TV game that will be carried by WDRB at 7:30.
No reason to risk a delay of game. Time to get to the Monday Muse.
1. Brohm Planning Trickeration
Louisville has better players than Purdue. The Cards are more experienced than the Boilermakers. The Cards have the defending Heisman Trophy winner and several defensive studs projected to jump into the NFL next season. Louisville's uniforms are flashier. The Cards are likely to have more fans in Lucas Oil Stadium.
There is a reason -- probably several dozen -- Louisville was a 24-point favorite at VegasInsiders.com Monday afternoon.
Can coaching close an inch or two of that gap? Does Brohm's creativity and proven ability to score at Western Kentucky give Purdue a puncher's chance of making Saturday's game close for more than 15 seconds?
Remember that eight of Purdue's nine defeats last season were by at least 13 points and four were by 28 or more.
Can Purdue scheme its way into contention with several Jeff Brohm specials?
Said Brohm, "I think as a player you know when you take the field, 'Do I really have a chance to win or this isn't going to happen.'
"So yes, I believe that coaching makes a difference.
"We want to make sure offensively, defensively, special teams we are doing things to put our guys in a position to win. Getting our playmakers the ball. Making sure we're somewhat creative with what we do. Being aggressive. Being always on the attack. Trying to always win and score points. Trying to get after the quarterback.
"Not be afraid to maybe try something different just because maybe we think it will give us a different twist … we're always cautious to make sure we have a little extra wrinkle every week that’s a little bit different. (Something) that's an adjustment to what we're doing.
"While we want to have a base offense and defense, we want to be creative and fun with it. That sometimes gives your players a little extra juice on the field, that, 'Hey, this might be a little different. This might be fun.'
"When it works, it's very rewarding. So, yes, I think that all of it matters -- from the hard work to the coaching to being creative. I think it adds up.
"The difference in winning and losing in my opinion in big-time football is so small that you have to do everything you can to win."
In television, I have learned that is called a tease.
2. WKU's McCollum Makes A Statement
The Boilermakers need a talent infusion at multiple positions but an upgrade at linebacker was low on the list of Purdue trouble spots.
Brohm and Purdue defensive coordinator Nick Holt loved their returning linebackers but they made room for a guy who followed them from Bowling Green -- senior linebacker T.J. McCollum, the Hilltoppers' third-leading tackler last season.
McCollum's experience and grit have convinced Holt to re-organize his defensive game plan. Don't be surprised if Purdue aligns in schemes that feature four or even five linebackers.
"The best players are going to play," McCollum said. "(Coach Holt) is s definitely going to put however many guys are good enough to play on that field, he's going to play them. Like now we're playing with four linebackers. He's going to make sure everybody gets a chance to make plays."
Like a 3-4-4 scheme?
"Could be," McCollum said, with a smile.
I asked McCollum how Purdue's defensive talent compared to the unit he left at WKU.
"We have great talent here as we did at Western," he said. "We're bigger here, bigger guys because it's the Big Ten.
"We probably had more faster players at Western than we do here. But they still add up to the same. I think now with these guys it's just better coaching now. They're getting coached better. They're learning the system and being able to play faster."
3. Charlie Strong Unbeaten Watch
Charlie Strong is ranked, unbeaten (1-0) and relevant again.
Sure, his South Florida team delivered a string of special team burps Saturday at San Jose State, mistakes that had Texas fans howling in delight on social media.
But after falling behind 16-0, Strong's first USF team outscored the home team, 42-6, and rolled to an opening weekend victory. The Bulls out-gained San Jose by 161 yards and grabbed three interceptions. (Story link.)
Look for South Florida to push its record to 2-0 Saturday in the Bulls' home opener with -- no misprint -- the Stony Brook Seawolves.
Stony Brook? What is this, the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament?
4. (Fill in the Blank) is Overrated -- Again
If you howled at the college football pre-season polls, chances are you weren't alone. But you probably thought your team deserved more love, more votes, more respect.
There is a reason for that. Some teams consistently draw too much love and respect.
The folks at fivethirtyeight.com are on the case. They looked at the college football polls over the last 20 seasons and constructed a list of teams most likely to be overrated. (The link.)
The winners (or would it be losers?) are not difficult to predict. Think teams with large national fan bases that have endured multiple seasons of underachieving.
Sounds like Notre Dame, Texas, Penn State and Nebraska to me.
Those four were my guess.
I called three of the five that performed worse than expected in 70 percent of the polls. Those three were Notre Dame, Texas and Penn State.
Two surprise teams joined the group — Florida State and Florida.
Maybe that’s good news for Louisville and Kentucky, which are projected to finish behind the Seminoles and Gators in league play this season.
5. Matt Leinart Endorses Lamar
Former USC quarterback Matt Leinart knows the feeling of winning and then losing the Heisman Trophy.
Won the Heisman in 2004. Then in 2005 Leinart improved his completion and yardage total numbers and sagged in the Heisman race.
That was enough to knock Leinart to third in the 2005 Heisman race, behind teammate Reggie Bush and Texas quarterback Vince Young.
If anybody is qualified to discuss Lamar Jackson's chances of repeating, it's Leinart, who works for Fox Sports. He visited Louisville and named Jackson, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Penn State halfback Saquon Barkley, Louisiana State halfback Derrius Guice as his top five Heisman candidates.
Although if you’re looking for disrespect, Leinart ranked Jackson fourth. (Link to the video.)
6. The Last Heisman Projection Story
Next week, I can rank the Heisman candidates by actual performance. Until then, there’s time (and need) for one final Heisman projection link.
It comes from Howie Kussoy of the New York Post, although I don’t believe FBS football is played in New York City -- unless you count the Jets. (The link.)
Kussoy's angle is the four guys who can stop Jackson from repeating. This is his list:
Darnold, USC quarterback.
Mayfield, Oklahoma quarterback.
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State quarterback.
Barkley, Penn State halfback.
Doesn't anybody have a legitimate longshot to promote?
7. Farewell Great Alaska Shootout
Before there was Maui, Atlantis, the pre-season NIT or other glorious early season college basketball tournaments, there was Anchorage and the Great Alaska Shootout.
Honk if you stayed up past midnight to watch the nation's top teams play in a tournament that lead the nation in prestige.
Louisville finished second in 1978 and won in 1982. Kentucky won in 1979. Bob Knight took Indiana once and returned home to kick three guys off the team. (Take 25 bonus points if you can name the three players without looking it up.)
Event organizers put on a great basketball party and kept ESPN involved. But there were two things they could never fix -- weather and travel issues.
The Sunscreen vs. Frostbite issue became impossible for the Great Alaska Shootout to overcome, especially after the Maui Invitational, the event in the Bahamas and other pre-season events heated up.
Last week it was announced the 2017 tournament will be The End. That's too bad because the Great Alaska Shootout should be remembered for more than Glen Rice and Sarah Palin.
8. What To Do With Those Eclipse Glasses
If you're a long-time reader of Sports Illustrated, you remember Norman Chad. He wrote a weekly humor column -- and later took his talents to the Washington Post, not South Beach.
In his latest column, Chad teed up Patriots coach Bill Belichick. It was the usual stuff about Belichick's stony, dismissive treatment of the media. It's an old story line, and my guess is more fans side with Belichick than the griping media. (Right?)
But Chad can turn a phrase with the best of them, and I laughed at one of his closing questions. I think you'll enjoy it:
Q. Do you think I should hang on to my solar-eclipse protective glasses to use when Stephen A. Smith is on ESPN? (Jeff Dent; South Charleston, W.Va.)
A. They also might come in handy the next time Blake Bortles throws a third-and-18 pass.
9. Nick Solak Bound for the Bronx
When the Chicago White Sox traded Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees for multiple prospects last month, I wondered if they would receive a player who grew up as a White Sox fan as a prospect in return.
That would be former U of L infielder/outfielder Nick Solak.
Didn’t happen. The Yankees love Solak. They have fast-tracked him in their minor league system, promoting him from the Florida State League to their Class AA affiliate in Trenton, N.J.
Solak keeps hitting, improving his defense and looking like a guy who will make his way to Yankee Stadium by 2019.
The folks at PinstripedProspects.com have noticed the work Solak has done controlling the strike zone and hitting for a solid batting average. They filed this update on Solak Sunday.
10. Poll Results
Who's your pick for the Most Overrated Team in the AP pre-season college football Top 25?
South Florida, No. 19 -- 20.9 percent
Ohio State, No. 1 -- 20.6 percent
Michigan, No. 11 -- 20.1 percent
Oklahoma State, No. 10 -- 16.2 percent
Florida State, No. 3 -- 12.2 percent
Wisconsin, No. 9 -- 10 percent
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