CFB 365: Our 2019 College Football Synopsis
The 2019 college football season begins with many narratives driven by a long off season filled with hot takes from a media that is hungry for clicks. We also like clicks here at Football Scout 365 and to receive clicks we have to create content in many different ways, including the written word. When I created this site, the idea of the written word became secondary due to our overwhelming drive to create more analytical models. Now that we have settled on a set of analytical tools to use in 2019, we have our sights set on more written analysis using our analytical data. What are we going to write about in regards to 2019? Every week we are going to analyze our featured Game of The Week, our players to watch before the Game of The Week and other relative analytics. The Post-Game of The Week plan is to showcase the top plays, play calls, any critiques and players of the game. We are also going to highlight the top offensive and defensive player performances in College Football each week. Every four weeks, we have an offensive and defensive efficiency report that will help to identify the top teams in the country by performance. Week 0 in review (Miami v Florida) The season began last week (week 0), with a matchup between Miami and Florida a standalone prime time opportunity for ESPN to showcase an SEC vs. ACC matchup and to advertise the new ACC Network combined with the already in contract SEC Network. The contest was a major let down in terms of quality, and I imagine ESPN executives were cringing at points throughout, but I am confident they realized that they are making a boatload of money either way and were able to laugh it off by the end of the night. Hawaii vs. Arizona on the other hand became a game of touch football where 5-9 Hawaii WR Cedric Byrd ran wild through the Arizona secondary scoring 4 TD's. He is our WK 0 Offensive Player of the week. While I am not a big fan of Preseason NFL football, College football could benefit by having teams play at least one preseason game in August before the start of the regular season. A preseason game could improve the quality at the beginning of the regular season allowing for teams to iron out the wrinkles before the real start of the regular season. In my eyes, the Miami vs. Florida matchup looked like a preseason game on Saturday night between two teams just trying to iron out the wrinkles. Our preseason narrative review Before we start our week one analysis let’s take a quick look at a few preseason media narratives starting with Trevor Lawrence who has already claimed the 2019 Heisman Trophy based on the media which is lauding him as the end all be all front runner. Urban Meyer referred to Lawrence on FS1 as “the greatest QB ever.” Anyone who is invited to New York for the 2019 Heisman ceremony is only invited to watch the trophy be handed to Lawrence. So let’s go over a few guys who have a shot at a Charles Woodson vs. Peyton manning Heisman upset which does not include Tua Tagovailoa who is a lock to be invited to sit next to Trevor in New York. The top FS365 dark horse to go to NY and watch with Tua (while Trevor pick up the Heisman), Rondell Moore: What other players in college football mean "more" (no pun intended) to their team than Rondale Moore, who is a generous 5-9 and weighs 190lbs yet he squats 600lbs. What we witnessed a season ago from Moore is a guy with Saquan Barkley open field ability playing WR. Purdue just needed to get the ball in his hands, and that is what they did. Moore had 1471 all-purpose yards in 2018 as a true freshman while playing in the Big Ten. His two most notable performances came against Ohio State and Northwestern, both teams were in the Big Ten title game in 2018. Moore’s ability is reminiscent of a generational type of player who instead of dominating because of his superior size, is packed in a tiny frame while still dominating without having elite size. He has proven to be durable and can take a hit when someone successfully can square him up. We shouldn’t expect Moore to duplicate the numbers from a season ago (but would not be surprised). What we should expect is that teams will continue to game plan ways to defend Moore, opening up the Purdue offense in other areas. If Purdue were to win the West Division and get to the Big Ten Title game, Moore has a shot at an invite to NY. The other FS365 dark horse to go to NY and watch with Tua (while Trevor picks up the Heisman) if the stars align, Oregon QB Justin Herbert: I admittedly have not watched a lot of Herbert, and this is due to my lack of interest watching Pac 12 football. What I have seen out of Herbert was not impressive and should not be the only indicator of his value. Other factors, such as coaching, play-calling, and surrounding talent, are factors. Herbert has the physical tools to become an NFL QB, and this is why most NFL analyst pegged Herbert as a first-round talent in 2018. What intrigues me about Herbert is that Oregon returns everyone on offense except for WR Dillon Mitchell (NFL). They bring back their entire offensive line from 2018. Oregon also has a transfer WR from Penn State (Juwan Johnson) that if healthy could be exactly what Herbert needs at WR (more on Johnson at a later date) so google his name if you are not familiar. We are going to find out week one if Herbert deserves a seat next to Tua in NY when Oregon travels to Auburn to face arguably the top defensive front in the nation. It is not vital that Oregon wins or loses (be competitive), take care of the ball and make some plays; the rest will take care of itself for Herbert. Winning this game on the road in Prime time week one can catapult Herbert into the front of the discussion. Clemson is already the champ so give them the trophy now and cancel all games. The Tigers are excellent, and they have ramped up recruiting. However, according to our generic Total Talent measure (our version of the 247 Team composite) that we create after each signing day as a placeholder until the updated 247 composite has been published, ranks the Tigers as the 16th most talented team in the P5. I bet you are thinking “yea this is a bad analysis”? If you are thinking about what I assume you are, you are right, but not exactly. Please keep reading for the reasons why we are correct, and you are wrong (unless you are a non-believer in data sets such as recruiting rankings). Total Talent Measure combines all of the services rankings from the last three years into one ranking and subtracts the players lost due to graduation and NFL draft invites. Yes, this is an imperfect analysis, but it is very close to the 247 Team Composite which has Clemson as the 10th ranked team in the nation vs. our Total Team Talent Measure where they are ranked 16th. There is not a lot of separation between 10-20 in either of the rankings, but what stands out is the total talent lost. Clemson sent 11 players to the 2019 NFL combine, which is only 2nd to Alabama (12). The difference between the two schools is that Clemson is just now starting to recruit at an Alabama level, while Alabama remains number one in our rankings and the 247 Composite rankings. Alabama absorbed their 12 players sent to the combine remaining number one in our measure and the 247 Sports Team Composite. Clemson, before players left for the 2019 NFL combine still ranked 16th in our Total Talent Measure while also bringing in the nation’s number three ranked recruiting class for 2019. Their 2020 class is currently trending at number one which is indicative of their recent run of success. So how the hell did Clemson win the title and how are they able to compete with Alabama if they are not top 10 in total talent? Clemson has been great at identifying the under the radar recruits and developing them over time. Clemson, like Rome, was not built in a day. It took Dabo a full six years at Clemson (interim in 2008) 2009-2014 his record 57-23, to get to the elite level (Record 2015 through last season 55-4). Player development, new facilities, and low coach turnover have proven to be the formula at Clemson. Our top 5 Preseason Composite rankings include the usual suspects in the top three, with two sacrificial lambs awaiting their march of death against the mighty SEC, ACC. Since we have already crowned Clemson as the champion, we can play a pretend game of who would be number 4 in the CFP rankings. We already know the top three will be Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia, so who would be Clemson’s hypothetical victim at number 4? Michigan is number 5 in the composite top 5 behind Oklahoma and could be on the cusp of taking that Clemson year seven leap type of year in Jim Harbaughs year five. Michigan returns their entire offensive line, and insiders believe this is the best Michigan offensive line since before the Rich Rodriguez experiment. We are talking the best offensive line since Lloyd Carr. That is a long time ago, and many people are growing old or some are too young to remember anyone from any of the Lloyd Carr era offensive lines. Some Michigan fans have buried themselves somewhere in a corner where they watch in secret but will deny their fandom to anyone who asks them if they are a Michigan fan. Michigan has not won a Big Ten title since 2003 but he stars began to align when Urban Meyer has departed from The Ohio State University at the end of 2018. The Buckeyes are still loaded, but how will they fare without Urban Meyer? Justin Fields has all the talent in the world, but rumors in my hometown (Columbus) are that his development has come slower than the coaches expected. Michigan has much business to take care of before Ohio State, but the team that had stood in their way two of the last three years when Michigan had a shot at playing in the Big Ten Title and grabbing a spot in the playoff is "The" Ohio State. The stars appear to be aligning for Michigan. The Michigan offense has been taken over by former Alabama Co-Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis who is also a Joe Moorhead disciple. He is all about speed in space and tempo and has installed a pro spread attack. Michigan has the QB(s) Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey, and they have two playmaking WR’s in Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins. They also get a healthy Tarik Black whom the coaches have raved about for two seasons only to lose him to back to back foot injuries (2017-2018). We already know that the Michigan defense will be okay even after losing their three best players (Winovich, Gary, Bush) from 2018. The defense is in plug and play mode. 2019 is set up to be an exciting season. Please keep in mind what I mentioned above regarding the ESPN, SEC, ACC conflict of interest concerning the bias they will be spewing all season long. Don’t buy into the hype. Most preseason analysis can be thrown out the window by week three or four. Wait for the games to be played before making judgments. We can analyze all of the film and data we want to from 2018 but every year is different. There will be upsets, injuries, and other events throughout the season that will change the narratives. Enjoy the season, only three days until week one.