Friday, October 9, 2009
Big 12 Friday mailbag: Looking at Suh
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here’s a group of questions I received late this week about the Big 12.
Enjoy them and your upcoming football weekend.
From Adam in Lincoln: Tim, how feasible is it for Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh to win the Heisman or at least be considered for it if he keeps up these game changing performances. He is one of the most athletic and versatile players in all of college football. Remember he not only plays nose tackle he has been put in as a full back as well. I can't remember seeing a player at any level that has done more than him in so many facets of the game.
Tim Griffin: Adam, I agree with you about Suh’s accomplishments. He’s been the most dominant defensive player in the Big 12. What I enjoyed watching last night was how quickly he can drop into coverage and make big plays, like his fourth-quarter interception against Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.
It will be interesting to see how much that performance on national television last night propels Suh into the talk for the Heisman or at least awards like the Outland Trophy.
Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini told reporters last night that he had never seen quite a dominating performance in his coaching career.
If Suh keeps making these plays, I think we might see him bringing a lot of hardware back to Lincoln, and maybe even a trip to New York City in mid-December for the Heisman presentation. He's playing well enough that he could be a finalist.
Jack Warner from Sepulveda, Okla., writes: Tim, how much do you think Sam Bradford will help the Sooners tomorrow and the rest of the season if he’s healthy.
Tim Griffin: It’s impossible to discount how much his return will mean to the Sooners. I think if he had been healthy this season, Oklahoma likely would be 4-0 right now.
But with him coming back in the lineup, the Sooners have hopes of challenging Texas for the Big 12 South title. After last week’s game, I don’t think many Sooner fans would have felt that way if they had learned he was staying out for the next several weeks.
David Askew of Findlay, Ohio, writes: Tim, Watching the Nebraska/Missouri game I wonder to myself. why do coaches go for two with 14 minutes left in the game, or sometimes more? The broadcasters say there is no reason to try the PAT. How many times have we seen a team go for two to make it a three-point game, and fail on the conversion? It seems to me they should go for the PAT, and take a two-point lead. If you score another TD, you go up nine after the PAT, making it a two-possession game instead of failing the two-point, getting another TD and only being ahead by eight points.
Tim Griffin: It does seem there’s a new-age, revisionist thinking as far as going for more two-point conversions than in the past. But I think the reason is because scoring has become prevalent that other coaches are coerced into thinking they’ve got to score with a two-pointer because of expectations once the other team gets the ball.
I don’t have much fault with Bo Pelini’s decision of trying to go for two points when his team led 13-12 early in the fourth quarter. The thinking was that if they got two more points, it would force Missouri to kick a field goal to tie the game. And as well as the Cornhuskers' defense was playing, I actually think that was a pretty wise decision.
Steve Robinson of Johnson City, Texas, writes: Hey Tim, really enjoy your blog. Here’s a quick question for you. What’s your favorite rivalry game to cover and why?
Tim Griffin: Steve, as any of my consistent readers know, I don’t complain about watching many games. But my favorite rivalry comes up next week. Something about the State Fair of Texas midway, the corny dogs and the passion on both sides makes Texas-Oklahoma a little more special than any other Big 12 game.
I can’t wait. And it appears with Sam Bradford coming back, the importance of this game in determining the Big 12 South champion will be that much more important.
Rob Nesbitt of Arvada, Colo., writes: Tim, whatever happened to that Colorado running game you were raving about all summer?
It seems like there’s not much “Hawk love” for this team. Are we ever going to win a game with this bunch?
Tim Griffin: I think the struggles of Darrell Scott have been one of the biggest disappointments in the country so far this season. I, like a lot of people, thought that Scott was poised for a breakout season after reports that he was in the best shape of his life. But he’s struggled with health this season, rushing for only 91 yards this season – with 85 yards of that coming in the Toledo game.
Here’s the most interesting stat about Scott, who was the most ballyhooed recruit that Dan Hawkins attracted after he beat out Texas for his scholarship commitment. His durability has been suspect as has had more than 13 carries in only one game in his college career. And he’s never rushed for more than 87 yards in any game.
But Scott isn’t alone in his struggles. The Buffaloes have produced an average of 93.75 yards per game – a struggling total that ranks 109th nationally.
The Buffaloes are averaging only 3.2 yards per carry and have topped 4.0 yards per carry only once in their first four games.
Their woes along the offensive line began in fall camp when Devin Head was lost for the season because of academics. Sione Tau was suspended for the season before the season began. Hawkins hoped that Max Tuioti-Mariner would help provide depth but he’s missed the season with a knee injury. And starting center Mike Iltis missed the West Virginia game with a concussion and might not be ready for Texas. If he can’t go, walk-on Keenan Stevens would get his second-straight start.
It’s fair to say the Buffaloes’ rushing attack ranks as one of Hawkins’ disappointments this season, during a season of many.
And it won't get any easier during the next two weeks when Colorado faces Texas and Kansas. I think it's highly possible the Buffaloes could start the season 1-5 after those two games. With that start it will be very difficult for the Buffaloes to make a bowl trip this season.