This week’s mailbag features quite a bit of college talk, both football and hockey.
Manchester, CT wants to know: Does Boise State have a chance at playing for the BCS National Championship?
In a word, no. And it’s not at all their fault. At the beginning of the season, Boise State had two ranked teams on their non-conference schedule and as of today, they have none. Virginia Tech still needs to convince a lot of people they are deserving after losing to James Madison and people may have soured on Oregon State for good. In terms of teams in front of them, Ohio State and Alabama haven’t done anything to take themselves out of the conversation. On top of that, Oregon has justified their argument to be considered for the national title by beating a very good top-10 Stanford team and dominating Tennessee at home. Oregon plays in a very tough conference this year and still has contests remaining No. 18 USC and No. 14 Arizona. If both teams win out, the strength of schedule favors and would probably put the Ducks at least in the conversation at the end of the year and leave Boise on the outside looking in again.
Dover, NH says: Whats your take on Dayne Crist, now that you’ve seen him in person? Can he take the Irish back to prominence/relevance?
Before we get into the heart of this question, we also have to remember that in his first year, Kelly is trying to run a spread offense without spread offense personnel. So the fact that the team isn’t scoring 45 points a game should not be a surprise to anyone. That said, I did see some things I liked from Crist. Even more than the way he was able to lead the Notre Dame offense on an opening scoring drive that left both the Boston College defense and the crowd stunned, I was more impressed with his third drive, which gave the Irish a 14-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the game. He was very efficient on that series. I think he threw only one incomplete pass, which was still a good ball to the back of the end zone that Michael Floyd just couldn’t get his hands on. Crist is ranked 19th nationally in yards per game, but just 62nd in yards per attempt (7.0). Part of that, I believe, has to do with the fact that the Irish’s running game, has no teeth. While they’ve rushed for over 1oo yards in three of their first five games, there have been very few impact runs as Armando Allen continues to be a disappointment for the Irish. With the lack of a dangerous running attack, the Irish have seen teams be able to drop seven or eight men in the box against them, leaving Crist to rely on the short pass to move the ball down the field. Overall, Crist is still learning how to be a spread quarterback. He’s working on his mobility and did score on a seven-yard designed keeper, but ultimately, it’s not what he’s built for. I’d also like to see him improve on his accuracy. He’s only completing somewhere in the vicinity of 55 percent of his passes, although, in fairness to him, I think his receivers dropped five or six catchable balls on Saturday.
Billerica, MA asks: The (Boston College) Eagles were ranked first in Hockey East coaches poll and in the national preseason poll. Will they repeat as national champions and keep being the most dominant team in college hockey?
Personally, I think Hockey East is the deepest, most talented conference in college hockey and whatever teams end up making the national tournament have a more than decent shot at the national championship. But of all those teams, Boston College returns the most talent from a squad that absolutely scorched one of the fastest teams in the nation last year in Wisconsin. I mean, they made Wisconsin look like an over-40 pick up team. John Muse and Parker Milner make a terrific tandem in goal and offensively, the Eagles have the talent to beat anybody. That said, it is so hard to repeat in college hockey, you can’t say with any certainty right now that they will win it all. Since 1970, only two schools have EVER repeated – Boston University in 1971 and 1972 and Denver in 2004 and 2005. Especially with how good North Dakota looks to be this year, not to mention Miami and Michigan, it would be tough. But at this point, I would have to say the pollsters are right that Boston College is the favorite.
Concord, NH says: Who has more catches Monday night against the Dolphins? Hernandez, Welker, or Marshall? And aside from the play of the crappy cb’s in this game, who is the key to victory?
I can respond to both questions with one answer. If I were Brady, I would be looking for Hernandez and Gronkowski all day long. Miami has proven weak against tight ends this season. Visanthe Shiancoe racked up 86 yards and averaged 14.3 yards per catch in Week 2, while Dustin Keller caught two touchdowns and had 98 yards (16.3 yards per catch) in Week 3. If there’s one place the Miami defense looks vulnerable, it’s up the seam.
Syracuse, NY thinks: The Eagles were stupid to give up Donovan McNabb and the Chargers were stupid to let LT go. Can you argue with that?
From day one I did not understand what the Eagles were hoping to accomplish by trading McNabb at all, let alone trading him to a division rival. To this day, I still can’t come up with a good reason, so, in that case, I can’t see how I can disagree. The Tomlinson situation was a little different. The guy had not been overly productive in a couple of years and was showing a lot of the signs of wear and tear that a lot of feature backs in the league suffer from. Let’s not forget that it’s still Week 4. If LT can maintain this kind of productivity through, say, Week 10, then I’ll be a believer.
Springfield, MA ponders: Who is the most overrated team in college football?
There are so many different ways to look at this question, so I’m going to get murdered by someone no matter how I choose. Most overrated at this point would have to be Nebraska. They have to prove something to me before I will consider them truly elite and beating up on Western Kentucky, Idaho, Washington and South Dakota State (and only beating SDS by 14 points) doesn’t do that for me.
That’s it for this week’s mailbag. Remember to submit your questions for next week’s mailbag to firstname.lastname@example.org.