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The Itis: CFF Treats - Observations from Week Nine
First CFP Rankings / is UGA in trouble with Bowers’ absence?; Acknowledging Some Bad Mid-Season VP Takes; JMU’s Offence is Humming; and Some Massive Performances at RB headline this week's recap.
MICHAEL: “Grandpa, is it true that Santa Clara’s the murder capital of the world?”
GRANDPA: “There are some bad elements around here…”
— The Lost Boys (1987)
Some Interesting Rushing Stats
First of all, Happy Halloween to all who celebrate out there. We’re kicking things off today with some light appetizers before we dive head first into the main course. Last week, I provided some receiving stat tidbits that I found interesting, so I figured I’d continue that trend with rushing stats this week.
UGA — otherwise known as ‘RBU’ — is averaging less than 35 carries per game for the first time since 2009, which coincidently, was also run by OC Mike Bobo.
Only two runners have gone past 1000 yards so far: OK State’s Ollie Gordon and Georgia State’s Marcus Carroll. Just like we all thought pre-season, right?
UNM’s Jacory Meritt is currently tied at second place for rushing TDs scored with Marcus Carroll and Audric Estime. This total puts him ahead of Ashton Jeanty, Rasheen Ali, and Ollie Gordon. Granted, each of those three have been AFK at some point or another (Jeanty and Ali injured, Mike Gundy being thick in September).
USC’s Caleb Williams leads all QBs in rushing TDs with 9, ahead of the likes of Ole Miss RB Quinshon Judkins, Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen, Toldeo RB Peny Boone, and Oregon RB Bucky Irving.
Only one RB has seen 40 carries or more in a game and it happened this past Saturday—Minnesota’s Jordan Nubin toted the pigskin 40 times for 204 yards and two TDs.
Marcus Carroll leads the FBS in total carries so far with 197.
First CFP Rankings / UGA in trouble with Bowers’ absence?
As I imagine was the case with other savvy CFB watchers, I couldn’t help but sit back and laugh at all the chatter these past two weeks regarding how UGA would manage now in Brock Bowers’ absence. Equally amusing is listening to the hand ringing that the Dawgs haven't looked as good this year. As if the national media and pundits had learned nothing from watching this program the previous two seasons. Not that I need to explain such things to the savvy VP subscribers (after all, the mere fact that you are here tells me you have at least some level of degeneracy in you), but programs like UGA are not blowing their load each week for style points. Other programs (e.g., UW, FSU, Oregon) need to do so to garner the appropriate respect and hype for their playoff births, and all power to them. However, UGA is not one of those programs.
For years, I watched Nick Saban-led Alabama teams use games as live practices to try out things that that year’s Crimson Tide squad wasn’t good at, or play younger players very early on to increase depth for when it really mattered later in the season. It would appear that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as it’s been clear for at least two seasons now that Kirby’s UGA squads do something similar. The term ‘playing with one’s food’ comes to mind. On this week’s run with Henri — the contents of such conversations now becoming a weekly staple in these articles — he voiced to me his complaints that the national media/voters of these polls fail to recognize this very basic fact.
That is—not every program is playing for style points every week. Different programs have different priorities. And — egregiously — it seems many of the national media have learned nothing from last season. If I do recall correctly, I believe many of the same narratives we’ve heard this season re:UGA struggles were prevalent this time last year, when the Dawgs almost got beat on the road to a dangerous Mizzou team, and ‘struggled’ (won by 20+) vs. Kent State. We now know that that Kent State team wasn’t too bad, at least, they had some individual players who seem to be doing just fine at the P5 level (hello Devontez Walker), but I digress.
Tonight is a big deal. Not because the first iteration of the CFP rankings are being released (those don’t mean anything… just look at last year’s rankings), but because it is Halloween. When I used to trick-or-treat as a kid, it was an exciting time (yes, thanks for stating the obvious, VP…). Despite the fact that I didn’t know what individual candies I was receiving from each house, I still knew it was going to be good, just due to the mere fact that it was candy. That’s how I would describe UGA football. All of the players are good. They are all being developed at an elite level. When one player goes down, they just reach down into their bag of treats and pull out another one, and they are also good—every single time. As a Dawgs fan, I can say in a very matter-of-fact manner that I don’t ever worry about players stepping up in the absence of injured stars. I just know that they will, with the same confidence that I used to have reaching into my bag of candy when I wanted something tasty on Halloween.
But the question is: where will they be ranked tonight? I’m sure you’ll hear from at least one pundit that ‘they would have been ranked higher on their board if they still had Bowers’ etc etc. Maybe they will secure #1, but I’m leaning more toward the field over UGA for that spot. The unspoken truth is that programs who have been here before know that it is better to not be ranked #1 this early. You want to be the hunter in the weeds — or, I guess… the ghoul in the night(??) I don’t know… I’m trying to make this more Halloween themed… anyways, the point is you want to be the one everyone forgets about, not the guy with the target on his back (just ask Tennessee’s team last year). Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, as they say. My guess is that UM, OSU or FSU gets #1.
My prediction for the first iteration of the CFP rankings:
First two out:
Last week’s poll yielded some interesting results:
I suspect this one will too:
Big Week for Individual RB Performances
Another segment that is becoming a weekly staple is my ravings about OK State’s Ollie Gordon II. I don’t know if it’s just a ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ kind of thing at play, but to me, the coolest players each season are always the ones that are new/breakout players. Maybe by this time next season I’ll be tired of OGII, and in search of the new hot thing once he’s on everyone’s radar. But for now, I just find OGII very cool. Beyond that, he is completely torching the B12 right now (I’m sure I didn’t have to tell you that). He continued his torrid pace this past weekend with yet another 40+ point performance vs. WVU, and there is no end in sight. His head coach is an absolute mad lad, rivalling even that of the degenerate they have up there in Minnesota. A tougher matchup lies ahead this weekend vs. OU for Bedlam, but OGII and the Pokes have a great opportunity to announce themselves on a national stage once and for all this season vs. a vulnerable — but probably highly motivated — OU squad.
One RB I have neglected to acknowledge enough this season is ODU transfer Blake Watson, who has been absolutely killing it for the Memphis Tigers. Watson has scored 20 points or more in six out of eight games, and in one of those remaining two games he left early. An underrated part of his usage is the substantial portion of it coming via the air. In PPR leagues, it goes without saying that that is a nice perk in owning a share of his.
UMass RB Kay’Ron Adams had his biggest game of the season this past Saturday vs. Army. You know, I’m old enough to remember a time where Army’s run defence was vaunted, and perhaps that clouded my judgement in my expectation of Adams this week. He took 34 carries for 234 yards and 3 TDs. Only three other players on the team had a carry, and each of those saw only one. Another good matchup lies ahead this weekend vs. an FCS program, and then they have UConn in the final week of the season. A BYE week and a game vs. a stingy Liberty program in between is a bit of an inconvenience, however.
Acknowledging Some Bad Mid-Season VP Takes
UNC’s RB Omarion Hampton not a sustainable bellcow — In one of my early waiver wire articles in September, I included UNC’s Omarion Hampton in the Fool’s Gold section after a monster 40+ point performance put him in the spotlight that week. In it, I remarked that he had been splitting carries with British Brooks to start the season, and the uptick in his production that week coincided with a Brooks absence. Following the logic that the split in carries would continue upon Brooks’ return, I dismissed Hampton as a viable season-long option. While to some degree what I said is true (Hampton’s only gone over 20 points twice since then), he has still made himself a solid contributor, never scoring less than 13 points in a game this season. That level of consistency is valuable, especially in deeper leagues. In terms of Bestball formats, the fact that whenever Hampton pops off, he tends to go over 35 points, makes him even better. In standard formats, he is less valuable.
Stanford’s WR Elic ‘Ayo’ Ayomanor not a sustainable volume pig — Another Fool’s Gold entry that was wrong (at least, so far). Generally, players who haven’t done much throughout the first half of the season, that have a big game in October, tend to fade out. Those are the patterns I’m generally relying on when assessing players week-to-week for waiver additions. But every now and then there will be outliers. Sometimes, the big performance spurs on an increased emphasis from the staff to get that player the ball. That seems to have been the case for Ayo, who’s now seen a total of 33 targets over his last three games, after only seeing 26 in his first five. That’s certainly a dramatic increase in usage. Does it make sense that these types of things would happen regularly? Not really, and generally, it is foolish to bet on this happening. But, as mentioned, there are outliers for every case. All we can do is apply our logic on a case-by-case scenario with the information that is available at the time. Sam Houston’s Noah Smith also comes to mind here.
JMU’s Offence is Humming
JMU’s offence was a popular — yet mysterious — offence this offseason for CFF managers interested in acquiring their assets. There was much uncertainty at virtually every position, least of all the QB position. I attempted to do a run down of the relevant names back in February, and — not to pat myself on the back too much — but I’d say that rundown was pretty comprehensive in covering the breakout players. WRs Reggie Brown and Elijah Sarratt have fulfilled their end of the deal, and Jordan McCloud ended up winning the QB position.
For those hoping that the Dukes would pick up right where they left off last season, however, would have been disappointed this season. But, it’s important to acknowledge trends and teams which appear to be ascending mid-season. JMU has definitely improved considerably (at least, from a CFF angle). QB McCloud is now firmly a CFF relevant player in all formats, and so are his two primary WRs Brown and Sarratt. Even slot receiver and NDSU transfer Phoenix Sproles has had some big moments. The RBs continue to cycle as a committee, but this is not overwhelmingly surprising given the track record of the staff.
Unfortunately, a two year-bowl ban will prevent the Dukes from fully capitalizing on all of their success from the past two seasons, but that matters not from a CFF standpoint. Kudos to JMU for such a successful transition. Clearly, they are making something that is generally quite challenging look easy (just ask Sam Houston about transitioning).
Their rapid rise to dominance at the Division One FBS level does fuel my imagination, however, and I wonder if they would ever be a good fit in a P5 conference, such as the B12, or ACC (assuming it doesn’t implode on itself in the near future).
Field of Dreams to Field of Nightmares
You know, it’s fitting that I would have written a profile on Iowa’s offence this offseason themed around the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ and that head coach Kirk Ferentz would fire his son—Brian, the day before Halloween. It naturally sets up my headline and adds to the Halloween theme of this week’s article. So I appreciate the Iowa staff for keeping me in mind this week.
The nightmare is officially over. At least, so we think, Iowa’s offensive woes tend to keep coming back like Freddy from Friday the 13th. Obviously, the Hawkeyes were not on pace to achieve the goal of 25 PPG by season’s end, and something had to be done about it. Perhaps this event will serve as a reminder to us all that working with relatives is generally not a good idea.
What does it mean for Iowa going forward? I don’t know that much will change with Kirk Ferentz still in charge. I imagine the offence will still center around running the football and hitting the TEs off of play action. Hopefully, at least for players like Kaleb Johnson and Luke Lachey, the next hire can create some more consistency in 2024.
East Atlanta Santa Sounds Off
Let me just say right off the bat that I am not a fan of one Dabo ‘EAS’ Swinney. I don’t know what exactly he tells these kids in Georgia that brainwashes them into voluntarily choosing his dumpster fire of a program over the well-functioning death star in-state, but whatever he’s doing, it works—at least, on the recruiting trail.
On Monday he launched into an epic five-minute long rant during a call-in show for Clemson fans, and I have to say, I’m on his side with this one. His resume over the last ten seasons or so is top three in CFB. However, I also understand the sentiment of Tiger fans. From the outside looking in, the trajectory of the program is headed downward, and it would seem that if Dabo is unwilling to adjust, it’s probably not going to get better.
Also, this is a great tweet from TYL:
For paid subs, I’m now making the comment section open to requests for topics that you want to read about. I won’t promise that I’ll do all of them, but if there is an interesting idea, then I will work that in.
Happy Halloween to all the Pigs!
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