College Football Analysis: Virginia Tech, 2013 NFL Draft, Ohio State and More
Spring practice is revving up and now is as good a time as any to open up our mailbag and answer some questions from our followers from the world of twitter:
what does @cfbz think of Virginia Tech's new offensive staff?
That's a really good question and one that the jury will be out on for a bit. As an SEC fan my initial thought on the new offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, was...huh?
Last year, Loeffler was the OC at Auburn and they were flat out awful averaging just 18 points per game including getting shut out in two of their last three games. But I wonder how much was truly Loeffler's fault as head coach Gene Chizik decided to move from the spread to more of a pro style offense so Loeffler was working with guys recruited for the spread and trying to fit them into a different offensive system. That's kind of a tough deal, especially when you don't have a QB. Loeffler's only other OC role was at Temple in 2011 and along with Steve Adazzio they did a very good job but it was also against MAC defenses.
Jeff Grimes is another Auburn guy that was brought in as OLine coach (and running game coordinator). Grimes was with Auburn from 2009 to 2012. Aaron Moorehead was brought in from Stanford to be the WR coach. I don't know much about those guys but you have to like somebody who is brought in from Stanford and hope that it means more activity for one of the most underused positions in college football, the tight end. Grimes likes to run the football so putting two and two together, you have to like the fit these guys have with Loeffler and his history with running a pro style system with Lloyd Carr at Michigan.
The good news for Loeffler is that he's coming in on the heels of the Hokies worst offensive season since 2008 so the expectations aren't sky high. He gets Logan Thomas back and Thomas has a ton of talent despite his struggles in 2012. If Thomas can hit the film room and become more of a student of the game he has a chance to really improve this coming season. The biggest thing that fell off for the Hokies last year was the running game and that put more pressure on Logan's shoulders. If Loeffler and Grimes can reinvigorate the running game then they can get pretty good pretty quickly. This will be a work in progress. In the long-term I think it will end up being a good hire but don't judge it based on their first game of 2013 (Alabama).
@cfbz Which NFL draftees do you believe will make the most immediate impact in the League?
— DSC Memorabilia (@DSCauthentic) March 6, 2013
When you look at impact rookies in the NFL you have to start with running backs. Two of the top five rushers in the NFL last season were rookies (Alfred Morris and Doug Martin). Trent Richardson also had 950 yards and 11 TDs. This years RB crop doesn't look like it has any elite talent but Morris was a sixth round pick last season and Martin was the 31st pick of the draft so anybody could really come out and have an impact. A guy I like this year is Giovani Bernard (UNC). I think whoever picks him up will get a really good player who will make an immediate impact. Other guys to look at for this position are workhorse guys like Eddie Lacy and Stepfan Taylor. Depending on where they land they might be asked to tote the load from day one.
QB is another position that can have an immediate impact as we saw that last year with RG3, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. But are there any guys out there that can have that type of immediate impact? The top candidates here are Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon. I'm not exactly going out on a limb here but I think Smith will get the biggest opportunity here and thus he should be the most successful.
In terms of non-QB/RB, two SEC guys that I really like coming out of college are Alabama's Jesse Williams (NT) and Florida's Matt Elam (Safety). They might not set the world on fire but they are two guys I'd like to have on my team.
@cfbz Which non-SEC teams stand the best chance of winning a NC this year?
— The Saturday Edge (@SaturdayEdge) March 8, 2013
Non-SEC, huh? There are two teams I really like right now.
The first is Ohio State. Urban Meyer showed what he could do last season with an Ohio State team that wasn't supposed to be particularly great. Now Meyer has two full recruiting cycles under him and he also has Braxton Miller. Ohio State will make noise and in my opinion they are odds on favorites to be in the National Championship Game opposite the SEC.
Another team I like is Stanford. They are just a smash mouth football team and the way they play makes me think they can hang with an SEC team from a toughness standpoint if they get to the NCG. Stanford has some losses at the skill positions but they do return QB Kevin Hogan (as well as 7 other offensive starters including 4 offensive linemen) and he went 6-0 down the stretch last year after taking over as starter (beating #20 Oregon State, #2 Oregon, Wisconsin and UCLA twice). Stanford also has a really good defense (11th in the Nation in scoring defense) and I like that they are good on both sides of the football which has been an issue recently with teams out West.
Get more great college football analysis over at College Football Zealots.