Trevor Knight and Chad Kelly injuries
Texas players rally
UCLA taking a step back
Washington won with Peterson
Clemson losing top players
Ole Miss and Texas A&M face each other this week in a game where each team must replace their star quarterbacks. Kelly’s injury almost certainly spells the end of Ole Miss’s Bowl hopes. The Aggies are already Bowl eligible but will likely take a hit with LSU still on their schedule. Both teams offenses were built around their quarterbacks and both teams will now need to rely on a backup player in order to finish the season.
It looks like the Texas Longhorn players are rallying around Charlie Strong. UT brass still have higher expectations than they should. They are also unlikely to find a much better coach than Strong. Todd Herman will be the hottest commodity on the market this season but Herman, who has ties to the west coast, might be more interested in the USC or Oregon jobs - should they be available. If the Longhorns win out it might be a moot point as even Texas might not move on from Strong after a solid finish to the season.
In Los Angeles the talk around UCLA appears to be one of impatience. Jim Mora rejuvenated a moribund program that is, at best, the second most popular team in its own city but after a difficult season, mired with injuries, it appears the UCLA fanbase is getting frustrated. Until the Bruins have the ability to fill a stadium consistently and invest is more modern facilities they will be hard pressed to recruit at the same level as USC and the other top Pac-12 programs. Like Texas, UCLA could be interested in Herman, but like Texas, UCLA could do a lot worse than their current coach.
One coaching change that did work out, albeit a surprise change, was in Washington where Steve Sarkisian left for the USC job just two years ago. Washington won the lottery by finally luring Chris Petersen away from Boise St. and Sarkisian is now working in the football operations department at Alabama, waiting until Lane Kiffin leaves before taking over as offensive coordinator. The Huskies are much better under Petersen than they ever were under Sarkisian, so sometimes the surprise choice is the better choice.
Clemson has long been one of the better recruiting teams in college football but under Dabo Swinney the team has reached new heights and now must adjust. Swinney announced that DeShaun Watson, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, and Artavis Scott are all leaving to enter the NFL draft at season’s end. While all 4 are likely to be drafted Williams and Watson are both expected to be first rounders, and possibly the first players taken at their positions. It will be a tough task to replace those four players on Clemson’s offense and their fanbase must hope that their strong recruiting classes over the last few years continue to pay off.
And Another Thing
One of the best plays of the season occurred this past weekend by one of the most underrated players in college football. If you aren’t familiar with Zach Cunningham, then let this play be your introduction.
Cunningham is the best player to leave Vanderbilt in recent memory and is a very highly rated linebacker, in a deep class of linebackers. His size athleticism and physical style of play could see him rise into the early part of the first round, possibly the top 10.