Dallas Colleges: Tyrann Mathieu

Previewing the 2012 SEC media days

July, 16, 2012

It's almost time for hundreds of media folk to pile into a swanky ballroom and kick off another year of SEC media days.

The festivities begin Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., and last until Thursday afternoon. The event serves as the unofficial kickoff to SEC football season.

So what should we be on the lookout for this year?

Well, the biggest news is all the star power that won't be making the trip. Two of the league's top rushers -- Marcus Lattimore and Christine Michael -- won't be in town. Yes, they are both coming off season-ending injuries, but so is Arkansas' Knile Davis, and he'll be in attendance.

One of the league's best, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray won't be in Hoover, either. Nor will Bulldogs wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell.

Some other big names not on the list include Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Missouri quarterback James Franklin.

There are a lot of interesting storylines revolving around all those players, who serve as faces for their respective programs, and it's disappointing that they won't be around this week.

However, some quality names are on this year's roster, including Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw.

I'm sure they'll all have plenty to say and should keep us all entertained.

Here are some other things to keep an eye on this week:
  • If you're coming into town, make sure you bring your protective gear for Thursday. That's when Alabama's up, and you'd better believe the lobby will be jam-packed with Tide fans. They come out in full force and expect things to be even tighter this year after that championship.
  • Arkansas players will have to answer a lot of questions surrounding their former coach, Bobby Petrino. How much of a distraction will his exit be this fall?
  • Also, what will new Arkansas coach John L. Smith say? He sure knows how to make a news conference exciting, so don't expect anything to be different in front of all those SEC scribes.
  • One coach not afraid to put on a show while at the podium is South Carolina's Steve Spurrier. The Head Ball Coach has been chirping this year, and he probably won't stop in Hoover.
  • Last year, there were a lot of questions about the quarterback talent in this league. This year, that isn't the case, as the league is as plentiful at the position as it has been in years.
  • Although only Davis will be in town, expect a lot of talk about three of the league's best running backs all coming off major, season-ending injuries.
  • Georgia has had an eventful offseason away from the field, and it's time to see how players and coach Mark Richt are feeling about all of the silly distractions. Also, what's in store for the Bulldogs' running game now that Isaiah Crowell is gone?
  • I wonder how many times Nick Saban and his players will be asked questions about comparisons to the 2010 team. You know how much Saban loves comparison talk. ...
  • Tennessee coach Derek Dooley should field a lot of questions about his job security this week. Regardless of how you feel about the time he's had and all the issues he's had to deal with, his seat is hotter than ever.
  • Texas A&M and Missouri are now officially members of the SEC. How will their players and coaches react to being surrounded by all those SEC writers? And how many more questions will they get about adjusting to their new conference?
  • LSU was on top of the college football world until last year's national championship. The Tigers bring back a boatload of talent, but can they finish things this year?
  • The good news for Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee is their coaches won't have to deal with NCAA questions, unlike last year.

LSU-OSU would have been fun to watch

December, 6, 2011
I’ll preface this by saying that I think the BCS got it right.

LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country and they deserve to play each other in the BCS Allstate National Championship Game. It should be a great game and I guarantee that each team will get at least one touchdown this time.

You know you’ll be watching. Don’t act like you won’t.

But there is part of me that’s curious … very curious.

I can’t help but wonder what the national title would be like with LSU’s ferocious defense pitted against Oklahoma State’s high-powered, Playstation offense. For all the talk about how good SEC defenses are and how high-flying Big 12 offenses are, there’s part of me that wants to see it this season.

Besides, if the SEC truly wants to show its dominance, doesn’t it make sense to do it against someone outside of the conference?

Again, I believe the BCS actually got this one right, but it wouldn’t have bothered me if the Cowboys took the Crimson Tide’s place.

We’d actually get to see if Mike Gundy’s Pokes could muster up a way to score the 30-plus points he thinks they’d put up against the Tigers’ vaunted defense. You know, the same defense that ranks second nationally, allowing just 252 yards per game and has forced 30 turnovers. And the same defense that has waves of speed, athleticism and depth, and has dismantled just about everyone.

I don't know if Oklahoma State would look like, well Oklahoma State, against the Tigers, and I don’t think the Cowboys would even touch 30 points against LSU, but I think we’d have a pretty exciting game on our hands.

LSU might have the most aggressive defense out there, but it has a tendency to play too fast and too aggressive. We saw it at times against talented offenses. West Virginia racked up 533 yards, including 463 passing, on LSU. Both Arkansas and Georgia both made a some first-half plays against LSU, as well.

For as great as this defense has been all year, it hasn’t been perfect, and good passing games have found ways to make plays. Have they found ways to get wins over the Tigers? No, but there’s a formula there ... if you can combat LSU’s ability to go on hellacious runs and wear down defenses in the second half.

The Cowboys, who had the nation’s third-best offense (557 yards a game), have the pieces to give the Tigers headaches. Quarterback Brandon Weeden was a legit Heisman Trophy candidate at one point and finished the season third nationally with 4,328 yards and had 34 touchdowns. In that offense, he and the Cowboys could spread teams out and exploit plenty of mismatches. It didn’t hurt that All-World receiver Justin Blackmon accounted for 111 receiving yards a game and had 15 touchdowns.

Weeden had two other receivers record more than 600 yards as well, so there are weapons in Stillwater, Okla., to keep the Tigers’ defense on its toes.

Just imagine Blackmon, who might be the first receiver taken in next year’s NFL draft, trying to get space on Morris Claiborne, or Tyrann Mathieu making a mad dash from God knows where on the field to scare the daylights out of Weeden? Could Weeden's receivers match the track speed of LSU's secondary?

And don't forget about LSU coach Les Miles facing his old school. If ahead late, does he kneel early or kick a field goal?

Defensively, the Cowboys would have to tighten up, though. They allowed 180 rushing yards a game, and we all know the pounding LSU’s run game puts on opponents.

But the Big 12 offense-SEC defense matchup is what we'd all be salivating over. Winner shuts the other side up for a good year.

Unfortunately, we’re left only wondering. We don’t have the system in place to make this game possible.

LSU-Bama should be the game, but, man, LSU-OSU would have been fun.

History at stake for Heisman hopefuls

December, 6, 2011

On Monday the five finalists invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony were revealed. This year has featured one of the most interesting races for the Heisman as no one player has stood from the rest.

Here's a look at what a Heisman Trophy win -- or loss -- would mean to these players and their respective schools.

Trent Richardson, Alabama
Two seasons ago Trent Richardson was a part of a National Championship team with a Heisman Trophy winner, when running back Mark Ingram became Alabama's first winner. Richardson has nearly identical numbers to Ingram this season, and has already totaled 23 touchdowns compared to Ingram's 20 TD's.

If Richardson were to win the award it would put him and Ingram in some rare company. In the history of the Heisman Trophy only three times have two different players playing the same position at the same school won the award in a span of three seasons. It last happened when USC QB Matt Leinart won it in 2004 after Carson Palmer had taken home the award in 2002.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck is listed second here as he finished second for the Heisman last season and Stanford has actually had the Heisman runner-up in each of the past two seasons (Toby Gerhart, 2009).

If Luck wins he would be the second player in Stanford history to win the award (Jim Plunkett, 1970) and join 1981 Herschel Walker as the only Heisman runner-ups to win the award the next season.

If Luck finishes second, Stanford would set a record. No school has ever had a Heisman runner-up in three consecutive seasons.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Montee Ball earned his invite thanks to his impressive numbers. Ball needs one touchdown in the Rose Bowl to tie Barry Sanders' FBS record for touchdowns in a season (39). Sanders won the Heimsan trophy during that 1988 season.

Ball's 38 touchdowns are the most by a Big Ten player since Eddie George had 25 in his Heisman Trophy winning 1995 season.

Robert Griffin III, Baylor
RGIII finished off a great regular season in which he threw 36 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions, while also leading Baylor to nine wins, its most since the 1986 season.

Griffin's invite is an accomplishment in its own considering he plays for Baylor. The Bears have only had one player finish in the top five of the Heisman vote in school history. In 1963 Don Trull finished fourth.

If Baylor's Robert Griffin III wins the Heisman Trophy this year, he will be just the third player since the BCS was established in 1998 to win the Heisman without his team playing in a BCS bowl game.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
The Honey Badger will take the trip to New York looking to join Charles Woodson as the only defensive backs to win the Heisman trophy.

Despite being a defensive player, recent history is on Mathieu's side to take home the award. Since 2003, seven of the past eight Heisman Trophy winners have come from the team at number one in the BCS standings entering the National Championship Game.