Ok, I lied. Last week I said there was no way I'd take a look at 2011 schedules until at least March...and this past week I found myself perusing a few slates, especially those for teams that will welcome new coaches to the sidelines or join new conferences altogether. All it takes is a couple of weeks without college gridiron action and I'm salivating over spring ball.
With the early entry deadline for the 2011 NFL Draft having come and gone, it's impossible not to think about what particular squads will have coming back next season. And with this in mind here's Round Two of random thoughts pertaining to the 2011 college football season.
1. Taylor Martinez, welcome to the Big Ten
Most expect a bunch of development (both fundamentally and statistically) when a player moves from freshman to sophomore status. However Nebraska's move to the Big Ten has me seriously questioning what Taylor Martinez will be able to do against opponents that place a little more emphasis on the defensive side.
Last season saw Martinez played seven games against conference foes that averaged a defensive rank of 69th nationally. Next season he'll face eight Big Ten teams that ranked 51st nationally, and this includes a historically bad Michigan defense that has nowhere to go but up.
What's my point? That Martinez is going to face much better defensive units in 2011, ones that spent a season chasing and eventually slowing down Denard Robinson. And fantasy owners that reach for this Cornhusker will be very disappointed.
2. From Oil Capital to Steel City
Watching what Todd Graham and his two offensive coordinators, Calvin McGee and Mike Norvell, begin to do with the Panther offensive attack will be interesting this spring. One certainty is that running back Ray Graham will be a featured player.
3. TP or RG3?
Last August a leaguemate was faced with the dilemma of protecting Terrelle Pryor or Robert Griffin; he kept Pryor and sent me Griffin for a draft pick. And as it turned out, there was only a ten-point separation when the season was complete. And it's likely that many owners will be faced with the similar debate again next season.
And I really don't see much difference between these two heading into the 2011 season...except in their respective schedules. Pryor heads down to Coral Gables and Lincoln, while welcoming Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State to Columbus. While the Bears welcome TCU and Texas to Waco, the brunt of their schedule is less-than-intimidating.
Right now I'll give Griffin the edge.
4. Aaron Murray: Super soph or sophomore slump?
While I have nothing but good vibes about Georgia's Aaron Murray heading into next season, you can bet I'll be paying close attention to the Spring progress of the young wide receivers in Athens. You lose A.J. Green and Kris Durham and there will be growing pains.
Georgia has not been a place to find fantasy quarterbacks, but Murray could buck that trend. Just don't reach for him. Redshirt sophomores have been known to struggle at times.
5. Too much tread on the tires?
Montel Harris has carried it 756 times during his first three campaigns. Adrian Peterson, who went about 30 lbs. heavier, carried it 747 times during his three seasons in Norman.
Harris' knee surgery at the end of 2010 is a little disconcerting.
6. Just play Connor Shaw already
I just don't know if I can handle another spring of Stephen Garcia vs. Steve Spurrier.
7. You can live in those shoes
Do you know Tyler Lantrip? All he has to do is replace Colin Kaepernick as the quarterback at Nevada. No one will be stepping into bigger shoes next season. Good Luck, Ty!