NCF Nation: Mailbag 090712

SEC mailbag: Replacing LSU's Chris Faulk

September, 7, 2012
I’m coming at you live from College Station, Texas, where the Aggies make their SEC debut on Saturday against No. 24 Florida.

While I eagerly await that historic matchup, let’s empty out the SEC mailbag:

TD Carey in Ruston, La., writes: LSU and Chris Faulk: Let us not forget that LSU could have had Mo Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Mike Brockers. The loss of these four, especially now that Faulk is out, will make a difference, as there is no way to replace Faulk.

Chris Low: I wouldn’t go as far as to say that there’s “no way.” Faulk was a key part of that LSU offensive line and an excellent player, but the Tigers have some depth and experience up front. Getting Josh Dworaczyk back for a sixth season was huge. He’s versatile and will step in Saturday at left tackle for the Tigers. He’s not the only option there, either. It’s a blow to lose Faulk, no question. But I’m not ready to say it was a knockout blow. This LSU team has been too resilient in the past and is still oozing with talent.

Brian in Richmond, Va., writes: Hey Chris, War Eagle people seem to be really down on Auburn this year. They “almost/should have” beaten a very good ranked Clemson team that has a great chance of winning the ACC. It pains me to admit this, but Auburn has had some personnel issues since winning the 2010 national championship. How much better would Auburn be this year with Mike Dyer, Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens, Dakota Mosley and Jovon Robinson? I would include Zeke Pike, but he wasn't going to start this year and he's a train wreck anyway. Would they have really made that big of a difference? Obviously, Mike Dyer is a known quantity.

Chris Low: Fans are always going to be down when you lose the opener, but this is about what I expected from this Auburn team. It’s not so much that I’m down on the Tigers. I just think it’s going to be tough sledding for them this season with a first-time starter at quarterback who’s learning on the job and a defense that still clearly has some issues. I expect Auburn to improve on defense as the season goes on, but inexperience at quarterback and a leaky defense are a bad combination. And as far as some of the players you mentioned that are no longer there, maybe part of the problem is that there have been too many misses on the recruiting end with kids who simply had no desire to behave. Weeding out those kids might be the best thing that could have happened to this team.

Brian in Gadsden, Ala.: Chris, I was just reading your prediction regarding Mississippi State and Auburn. I think you have some revisionist history. Mississippi State was not one foot short of winning at Auburn last year. They were one foot short of being behind by two points with no timeouts and a chance to tie the game with a successful two-point conversion. Last time I checked, a two-point conversion was not a 99 percent certainty like an extra point. I have no problem with a pick against Auburn, but please don’t change the facts from last year.

Chris Low: Actually, we were both wrong. What I should have written was that Mississippi State came within a foot of tying the game and sending it into overtime with an extra point or having a chance to win it with a successful two-point conversion. The final score was 41-34, so all the Bulldogs would have needed to tie the game was an extra point. A successful two-point conversion would have won it in regulation. Anyway, my apologies, and I promise there’s no War Eagle conspiracy at work here.

Tommyboy in Atlanta writes: 1. Can you please quantify SEC speed? 2. What is the international unit of measurement of SEC speed? 3. Do SEC scoreboards have to be specially calibrated or purpose built for SEC speed? 4. Do all SEC teams have SEC speed? 5. If a team were in another conference and joined the SEC, does that team automatically get SEC speed, or is there a waiting period? If there is a waiting period, does time travel faster due to SEC speed? 6. Could ESPN please mention SEC speed more? 8. Please complete the following: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi are to ______ as SEC speed is to ______. The questions skip from No. 6 to No. 8 because my computer cannot keep up with my typing because my fingers have ... SEC speed.

Chris Low: Very simply, SEC speed = six consecutive national championships. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi are to great men and men of vision as SEC speed is to bringing in the bling and collecting crystal footballs. I like your style, though. Good stuff. We may have to let you sit in one day for me on the SEC blog. On second thought, maybe not. You might take my job.

Bryan in Roswell, Ga., writes: With South Carolina struggling against Vanderbilt, the East seems wide open this year. The Georgia-Missouri game is huge, and a Missouri win would seemingly set the stage for the Tigers to win the East on their first try. What would that scenario do for Mizzou going forward in their new home?

Chris Low: I still say that Vanderbilt is better than a lot of people are giving the Commodores credit for. It’s true that South Carolina didn’t throw the ball well, but the Gamecocks didn’t play that poorly. My guess is that the rest of the East would love to see Georgia go down this weekend in its first SEC game. If that happens, this East race might look a little bit like the one in 2010. Everybody’s going to beat up on everybody else. Arkansas went to the SEC championship game in its fourth year in the league, so it's not outrageous to think that Missouri could make some noise this first year if the Tigers can get out of the blocks with a victory over the Bulldogs.

Dale in Winchester, Tenn., writes: Chris, not trying to look ahead. But so far after seeing the N.C. State game, do you think this year’s Tennessee team, if it stays healthy and some of its players like Tyler Bray and Herman Lathers continue to step up and lead, could be the one to get the Big Orange back to the powerhouse we used to be? Go Vols!

Chris Low: The most impressive thing about the Vols in the opener was the way they finished the game and didn’t flinch when Bray lost the fumble at the goal line right before halftime. I would still like to see them be better in short yardage situations on offense, and the defensive secondary still has some growing up to do. But there’s no doubt that this is Derek Dooley’s best team, and I expect to see the Vols in the East race come November. I’ll stop there … for now.

Kevin in Lexington, S.C., writes: I know it’s several weeks away, but how do you think South Carolina's secondary will hold up against Missouri’s spread attack after looking overwhelmed at times against Vandy?

Chris Low: I’ll have a better answer for you after watching Missouri go up against Georgia’s defense Saturday night. Losing senior cornerback Akeem Auguste was a killer for the Gamecocks. They were already thin back there. To me, the real burden is on South Carolina’s front seven now and generating even more pressure. Jadeveon Clowney is a freakish talent, but he can’t take plays off.

Herrin in Boiling Springs, S.C., writes: 1. Are you contractually obligated to write "SEC speed" in each article? 2. LSU and Alabama have not had a close SEC game in some time. Does the rest of the SEC still have SEC speed? 3. Have you ever seen a team crow more about its conference -- while accomplishing less on its own -- than South Carolina? 4. Does Clemson have SEC speed? I mean, we have beaten SEC teams nine out of the last 11 years.

Chris Low: All fair points. Now let me ask you a question: How many straight years has South Carolina beaten Clemson? I noticed you didn’t bring up that topic.

Mailbag: Pac-12 fans happy USC is back?

September, 7, 2012
Week 2! Let it be better than week one.

Follow the Pac-12 blog on Twitter.

To the notes!

Brenden from Portland writes: Do you get the general feel that PAC12 fans are happy that USC is back? I, for one, am hoping for them to pair up against an SEC team in a BCS bowl and pound them into submission. But I also remember how much I despised USC in their epic run through the early and mid 2Ks.

Ted Miller: Hmm. Don't know, what say you, UCLA fans?

For a lot of folks, USC serves as a Pac-12 villain. It's certainly the conference's longtime historical superpower. Being a superpower doesn't tend to inspire warm feelings. I've received hate mail about USC from fans of just about every Pac-12 team. The Utah folks are even getting into it this fall.

If we polled Pac-12 fans about which program they like the least, I'd guess USC would be No. 1, though Oregon fans are working very hard on changing that, as are the Ducks by winning three championships in a row with a sometimes snarky coach and a look-at-us! way of doing things.

So, I'd say many Pac-12 fans aren't happy to see USC again at the top of the polls.

Of course, there are the sorts who root for their team first and their conference second. I believe this is the right way to think. For the most part. You get a pass on supporting the conference when it's your bitter rival thriving. Still, I found it notable that, based on my unscientific observation, a greater percentage of Alabama fans rooted for Auburn against Oregon in the 2010 national title game than Washington fans rooted for the Ducks.

SEC fans are so obsessed with their recent dominance of college football, that SEC rivalries now come second to conference loyalty (again, for the most part). It was not like that 20 years ago. Many Pac-12 fans think like NFL fans. They root for their team and then to heck with everyone else.

But USC back doing its USC thing does come in handy. For example, when SEC fans come trolling around the Pac-12 Blog, it's certainly nice to be able to say, "Look, we welcome your trash talk, but if you misbehave, we'll 'sic the Trojans on you and you know you don't want that.

"See! You flinched! As I was saying... USC! You did it again. Too funny!"

I think there are plenty of fans who just hate USC and that's all they've got for you. There are others that want their team to win first but that also want their conference to be successful. These folks would like to see a Pac-12 team knock the SEC off its pedestal, and many believe the 2012 Trojans have the best shot to do it of any team in the nation.

As for me, my general feeling is college football is better as national entertainment when traditional powers are relevant. It's more fun when Notre Dame is good, and the Michigan-Ohio State/Texas-Oklahoma games have national implications.

At the end of the day, I suspect most Pac-12 fans would hold their nose and root for USC if it were playing, say, Alabama for the national title on Jan. 7. I don't, however, suspect it would make them "happy."

Kyle from Austin, Texas writes: What do you think of the idea of waiting a few weeks into the season before making the voting for rankings official? Personally, I like all the speculation and arguing over the preseason and early season rankings. However, I've heard some people who think that the official rankings should wait. What's your take? Any good arguments to wait a few weeks?

Ted Miller: The ideal way to do the rankings: 1. Post a preseason top 25; 2. Restart the poll six weeks into the season.

That would allow a pecking order to be established in the preseason by our speculative, projective selves. And then we'd get a do-over based on what actually happened. You'd get nonconference and a handful of conference games to re-stagger things.

I always tell fans to keep their own weekly poll. Only by doing so can you see how difficult it is to maintain a consistent, defensible logic on a weekly basis. You get so many of those: Team A beat team B, and Team B beat Team C, and Team C beat Team A... so how does that go?

Now, you ask, why do we not do polls this way -- waiting until midseason to re-rank. One reason: People love the polls. It's an engrained part of college football. If the AP started doing its poll this way and stopped doing it weekly early in the season, another organization would step in and fill the weekly void.

Some might, by the way, argue that one of the great things about college football is the messiness -- the subjectivity and endless debate that lasts bell-to-bell and often even goes on after a national champion is crowned.

Mark from Goose Creek, S.C., writes: I'm currently stationed in Goose Creek, South Carolina, with the U.S. Navy.This weekend UCLA plays Nebraska at home. A fellow sailor and I have a little going on the game; If my Bruins lose then I have to grow a mustache for 3 weeks, and the same goes for him if the Huskers lose.What do you think my chances will be of not having to grow a filthy stache?Please tell me that there is some hope for me and the Bruins!Much appreciated.

Ted Miller: Mark, I just want to say I always thought Magnum PI rocked the 'stache.

Now, my partner is Pac-12 Blog Awesomeness, you call him "Kevin G-Man Gemmell" is feeling fairly positive over the chances your upper lip stays naked this fall after a Bruins victory. I, unfortunately, watched Nebraska against Southern Miss and couldn't help but whisper out loud, "'Huskers look good."

I think this game could be interesting. And UCLA has been at its best in recent years against marquee nonconference foes, see a home-and-home sweep of Tennessee and a win at Texas. I certainly think there is hope, and I wouldn't be shocked if the Bruins won.

But my belief is your buddies' upper lip will be spared the Ron Jeremy.

Jamie from Beaufort, S.C., writes: Just wanted to know why so many people are impressed with Oregon. They have a great offense but give up 530 yards and 34 points to Arkansas State. Lucky for Oregon that AS turned the ball over three times. Even though Gus is the man, what will happen to the Ducks when they play someone for real!!

Ted Miller: It was 50-10 at halftime. Other than a 72-yard TD pass, Arkansas State had little to no offense in the first half. The Ducks then played backups all of the second half. Every player who was not hurt or isn't redshirting played.

When Oregon needs its defense for four quarters, it will be there. Promise.

Jeff from Las Vegas writes: Ted, Can you explain why you have Oklahoma ranked ahead of Oregon?

Ted Miller: My justification would be that I don't write too much into Oklahoma's poor performance on the road at UTEP or into Oregon's dominant performance at home versus Arkansas State.

It's one game against an overmatched foe. Sometimes those are blowouts for the favorite. And sometimes the favorite futzes around.

That said: I'm typically more reactive in my rankings. If I had a do-over, I would have reversed the order as many voters did.

Dexter from Hollywood, Calif., writes: The other day you wrote of Colorado's week-one performance, "It was outgained 298 yards to 245 but, most notably, outrushed 125 yards to 58. Fifty-eight! The Buffs, trying to become a physical team as they were during the program's heyday, rushed for 2.0 yards per carry. Yuck."Your choice of stats exaggerates the yuckiness of CU's rushing attack. For no defensible reason the NCAA's official boxscores deduct yards lost on sacks from team rushing yardage. Colorado State sacked Jordon Webb five times for 30 yards on Saturday, but we all know sacks by definition are passing plays. So, although the official boxscore said Colorado rushed for 58 yards on 29 carries (for a 2.2 yards per carry), more accurately they rushed for 88 yards on 24 carries (for a 3.7 YPC). That's still not good, but it's way better than what the official numbers suggest.

Ted Miller: Duly noted.

Is it too late for me to make an observation about the Buffs' pass protection?

Jason from Salt Lake City writes: You did a write up last year I think about the best places to eat/stay/etc according to locals. I'm heading to Tempe in a few weeks. Where can I find the AZ St article?

Ted Miller: You can find all the Pac-12 teams here.

And maybe some of you can help Jason out with some updated recommendations.

Bob from Seattle writes: As much as I have respected your sports journalism regarding the PAC 12 I want to correct the point you made regarding the negative 4 yard punt mentioned in your OSU vs Wisconsin article today. The punt was not backwards. The punter stands 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The punt went forward but landed behind the line of scrimmage...thus the negative yardage. By the way that punter went on to have a good year punting and is now the starting punter for the St. Louis Rams in the NFL.

Ted Miller: Duly noted No. 2.

And congrats to Johnny Hekker. My guess is a fellow up in Seattle is pretty proud.

Big Ten Friday mailblog

September, 7, 2012
Should be a fun Saturday of games. Hope you enjoy 'em.

Victor 614 from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Whats up with all this hate on the Big Ten? I know Michigan got killed by alabama, but I think everyone knew they were overrated. And I know that the rest of the teams struggled, but Wisconsin is breaking in a new QB, Iowa isn't the Iowa of 4 years ago, and Northwestern has always been shaky at best. Michigan State beat Boise State, who all of a sudden is a bad team without Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, even though they've proven to be a consistent program. I know Michigan was expected to compete for a Big Ten title in the preseason, but it was just that, preseason. The Big Ten isn't on SEC level or even USC or Oregan's level, but this is really a rebuilding year for the conference as a whole. Am I wrong to think that there is alot of unfair animosity toward the Big Ten compared to other conferences?

Adam Rittenberg: Victor, I agree that any win against Boise State means something, and while I think some go too far in using Michigan's performance to paint the entire Big Ten, you can't spin Week 1 as a positive one for the league. Other than Nebraska and, to a certain extent, Illinois, no team notched a truly impressive win. Part of that was the schedule, but the week would have been a bit better had Wisconsin pounded Northern Iowa, Northwestern held onto its big lead at Syracuse and Penn State beaten Ohio. That said, it's way too soon to say the Big Ten is down or a bad conference this year. The league clearly can't compete with the nation's elite at the very top, and its recent record against top 5 teams is downright shameful. But as I've written many times, it's all about building depth in the Big Ten. I see progress there with Ohio State on the rise again, Michigan State and Wisconsin racking up wins, Nebraska stabilizing and Michigan recruiting really well. The overall depth in the league could turn out to be decent this year, although we'll likely only find that out when the bowl season rolls around.

Decker from Hastings, Neb., writes: Adam, Haven't heard much about DeAnthony Arnett so far, after quite the buzz during the offseason. What can you tell me about his status right now and also whether you expect the Spartan wideouts to pick up their game. I know Maxwell was rushed on plenty of throws on Friday but we saw a handful of miscues from the receivers. This weekend should be good for Maxwell and the rest of his offensive squad to find their rhythm. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Decker, I was really surprised not to see more of Arnett against Boise State, especially given the Spartans' struggles in the pass game. Michigan State receivers coach Terry Samuel said this week that Arnett should have a bigger role Saturday against Central Michigan. While Arnett might not have had the best offseason as far as standing out among the receiver group, he seems to be picking things up now. Plus, the guy had 24 catches last year in the SEC as a freshman. Can't hurt to make him a bigger part of the game plan this week.

JT from West Coast Hawk Town writes: You and Brian both picked Iowa over Iowa State this weekend. That gives me some relief. The clones seem overly confident in this game. The clone fanbase is usually delusional, but I'm still not confident in my Hawks yet. What do you guys see, aside from the game being in Kinnick, that gives Iowa the edge?

Adam Rittenberg: Playing at Kinnick obviously benefits Iowa. Only two of the Hawkeyes' seven losses to Iowa State under Kirk Ferentz have happened at home and none since 2002. Iowa usually takes care of its turf, even against the dreaded Cyclones. Also, I was pleasantly surprised with the defensive line play against Northern Illinois. Steele Jantz had his way with Iowa last year, and the Hawkeyes must put more pressure on him Saturday. I feel better about that happening after seeing what Joe Gaglione, Dom Alvis and co., did against NIU. I also don't think Iowa State can handle Iowa's rushing attack for four quarters, especially if Damon Bullock duplicates what he did in the opener, getting stronger as the game goes on. It'll be close, but Iowa should prevail.

Ben from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: Adam, today you posted an article saying that Penn State and OSU ARE eligible to be named Leaders Division champs. If this is true, and, say, Wisconsin finishes second or third in the standings behind them yet beats the Legends Division champion in the B10 championship, Wisconsin would officially be named Big Ten Champion, but not a division champion. That, like Alabama being National Champions but not Conference Champions, just doesn't sound right. Penn State and OSU are banned from the postseason and B10 championship, they shouldn't be a champion of their division.

Adam Rittenberg: I hear ya, Ben, and it sets up some potentially embarrassing situations, like having to present a team on postseason probation an official Big Ten trophy for winning the division. The Big Ten's rationale is that because Ohio State's and Penn State's games count in the division race, they should be part of that race. It would be odd to have a division champion go against a division "representative" in Indianapolis and for that representative to win the title. But that's the path the Big Ten has chosen to go down with two of its marquee programs on postseason probation.

Brian from Portland, Ore., writes: Adam, Longtime Northwestern football fan, which I know seems like an oxymoron (don't worry, Illini fans; it's OK that you don't know what that word means). Given the incredible disparity between the offense and the defense for the past few seasons, is it legitimate to question whether Fitz should replace Hankwitz? I know we had a good defensive season or two, but the recruiting is getting better and the results don't show on the field. I know Fitz is loyal, but there has to be a limit, right?

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, while I'm not in favor of coaches making rash changes whenever things start to go downhill, everyone on a staff needs to be held accountable. I think this is an important season for Hankwitz and the rest of Northwestern's defensive staff. Hankwitz boasts a ton of experience, but he has been dumped before (Wisconsin) and is far from foolproof. It's more than fair to question whether Fitzgerald is too loyal to certain folks, whether they be moderately talented veteran players or assistants who aren't getting the job done well enough in the Big Ten. I think Fitzgerald has a lot of great qualities as a head coach and clearly represents Northwestern well. But part of the job is making tough decisions with personnel and assistants, and if the defense doesn't improve, Fitz will face some difficult choices after the season.

Amit from New York writes: Adam, as a Michigan fan I'm deeply disappointed (although not unexpected) with the outcome of the Alabama game. It really seemed like Denard regressed during the game. I know you guys read MGoBlog, so I wanted to pass along the play-by-play analysis that Brian Cook did for the game: Interesting enough, he deduced that Denard actually played well, and the stagnancy/regression on offense was more so a combination of poor OL play, playcalling from Borges, inconsistency and lack of separation from the WRs, and simply fantastic DB play (from Milliner in particular).Thoughts? Passing it along not b/c it's making excuses for Denard, but it's actually insinuating that Denard played well (which I haven't heard anyone in the MSM contend).

Adam Rittenberg: Amit, good stuff. Brian and the MGoBlog crew do an excellent job, especially with play breakdowns like these. I think it's a stretch to say Denard played "well," but the game definitely showed me bigger issues at offensive line and running back than it did at quarterback. If you get dominated up front like Michigan did, you can't execute the majority of your game plan and either have to scrap it entirely or go with a limited set of plays. I'm not absolving Borges, either, but it's hard to scheme your way through an ineffective line. Michigan had to be a lot better up front in order to hang with Alabama. While it doesn't excuse some of the bad decisions Denard made, he doesn't deserve the bulk of the blame for the loss. He didn't have much of a chance to attack the Tide.

Travis from St. Louis writes: Adam- I recently located a summary B1G football schedule and noticed a trend. Four teams (Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, and MSU) get two weeks to prepare for Northwestern. Several teams in the B1G (most notably OSU and Nebraska) do not have to worry about teams getting two weeks to prepare for them at all. I realize it is not absolute that teams will win if they get two weeks to prepare for an opponent, but don?t you think there is a distinct schedule disadvantage Northwestern has to overcome?

Adam Rittenberg: Interesting observation, Travis. I'll check with the Big Ten about this and see if there are rules to prevent potential disadvantages for certain teams. That said, I think the bye week is vastly overrated as something that helps teams. We've seen examples here and here of teams struggling quite a bit following open weeks. While these breaks in the schedule allow teams to rest and recharge, the evidence doesn't show that they give teams huge edges as far as preparation.

Michael from Columbus, Ohio, writes: With Oregon State game cancelled this past weekend, how much of a disadvantage is Wisconsin at for preparing for OSU with no game tape available. I know this team needs to works on things and Wisconsin doesn't play to well on the road against Pac-12 opponents. What must the Badgers do to stymie the upset on the road?

Adam Rittenberg: It's always nice to have tape on your opponent, Michael, but I think Wisconsin just needs to play its game and not get too wrapped up in Oregon State. The Badgers destroyed this team last year and had a terrific performance on the defensive side. If Wisconsin can establish the run and the play-action pass, and generate a good pass rush up front, I don't think Oregon State can hang with the Badgers for four quarters. The Oregon State program is trending downward, and even in good seasons, Mike Riley's teams get better as the fall goes along. While I'm sure Oregon State will have some schematic things to throw off Wisconsin, it's a four-quarter game and the better team should win if it plays its game.

ACC Friday mailblog

September, 7, 2012
See you in Hooville ...

an old old wooden ship writes: there any way the ACC can rescind Pitt's invitation?

HD: If I had a dollar for every time I got asked that this week, I could pay Pitt's exit fee -- from the ACC.

NewtonDT in Birmingham, Ala., writes: HD - As a Jacket fan, I have moved on from Monday night. Looking ahead, how important does October 6, 2012 look? Very possible VPISU is 5-0 going into UNC game (on 10/6), who could also be undefeated (if they take care of business against Louisville). Clemson could be undefeated or have one loss (FSU) before their game with my Jackets (on 10/6). Combined with the Miami vs. Notre Dame game in Chicago, 10/6 is going to be a huge week for the ACC, don't you agree?

HD: No doubt. You're right about the Hokies possibly being 5-0 going into the Carolina game, especially with how poorly Pitt is playing these days. Clemson shouldn't have more than one loss heading into the Georgia Tech game, and yeah, Miami-Notre Dame at Soldier Field will draw some attention, but let's see how the Canes fare leading up to that game. They could either be a huge surprise, or fall flat between now and then with games at K-State, at Georgia Tech and home against NC State.

Cody in Harrisonburg, Va., writes: How long until Sims takes over as the cavs starting quarterback?

HD: It never fails that the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team. Michael Rocco, though, is the guy right now, and he deserves to be. He has been an effective game manager, and that's a good thing. He knows the system better than Sims right now because he's been in it longer. If Rocco isn't getting the job done, expect London to make a change. Until then, though, Rocco is your guy.

Henry Beach in Columbia, S.C., writes: Heather, being that you had Clemson on an upset alert most every game last season. I'm wondering if your trend of Clemson being on upset alert every week was going to continue. I mean why stop now!!!

HD: Henry, have you met the Tigers? They ARE on upset alert every week!

Rufus in Bowie, Md., writes: A 7 minute touchdown drive to take the lead with less than a minute left in the game, and still we lose: a very sad ending to the Ga. Tech game. But at least the defense seems better this year?

HD: Yes, Georgia Tech's defense did seem better. Honestly, though, I'd like to break down film with the coaches to see how much of Virginia Tech's struggles on offense were attributed to their own mistakes, and how much was caused by the Jackets. I would definitley agree, though, that Georgia Tech's defense looked better than it did a year ago.

Ryan in Fort Mill, S.C., writes: Heather,How would you grade the ACC's performance overall for week 1? Only 3 schools came away with loses, however 2 of those (GT & BC) were conference games so someone had to take the L. So besides NCST laying an egg on national television, I'd say it was a pretty solid week.Thanks

HD: I'd agree, Ryan. The league went 7-0 against nonconference opponents on Saturday, and NC State's loss to Tennessee was the lone loss overall. No FCS losses! I'd give the ACC a B in Week 1.

Richard in Hampton, Va., writes: Heather,When is the Logan Thomas bandwagon going to crash? Simply put he is an average QB, he doesn't show up against the best competition, and yet everyone still talks about him like hes Cam Newton or something. Heres a few stats from the big games (ECU, Clemson x2, GT, Michigan) in 2011. 71-132 passing which is 53%, pretty average. 917yds passing which is 183/game, pretty average. 4 TD's and 5 interceptions, less than average. Rushing he had 70 attempts for 200yds and 3 TD's, thats less than 3 yds per carry. I'm glad he can shred Arkansas State, Duke, and Marshall but so does everyone else. Can someone step up and say the truth, he is about the 4-5 best QB in the ACC.

HD: Richard I know there were a lot of fans who were unimpressed with Logan on Saturday night, but he had young guys all around him, and he was hardly the only one who made mistakes. Overthrew a few balls, yeah, but he got it done when he had to. I'd be surprised if he didn't play better this year than he did last. And Georgia Tech's defense deserves some credit, too.

Big East mailblog

September, 7, 2012
So, Pitt ...

CF Fan writes: Pitt is literally one of the worst football teams I have ever seen. Why would the ACC, or any conference for that matter, want the Panthers? There is no way they bring in money. Maybe it's that the Panthers are so bad, everyone else looks better?

Andrea Adelson: As has been the case with many of these expansion moves, on-the-field football product is not always the No. 1 determining factor in expansion. Pitt does bring in a major media market to the ACC. But remember when this move was made? Last September, when it appeared the new wave was to expand upward from 12. Now only the SEC and ACC have gone that high. This has been a miserable start to the season, no question about that. But understand the reality of the situation in Pittsburgh. This team is on head coach No. 4 in three years; players are learning their third system in three years; and recruiting has been impacted because of the coaching changes. So there is a reason for the struggles. But I will also say this: I am still downright stunned at how completely disjointed this team has looked in the first two games. Mindless penalties, Tino Sunseri wasting a chance for a score at the end of the first half against Cincinnati; an offensive line that is just as terrible as last season; a defense playing with no aggression or passion. Some of these issues can be corrected. If not, Pitt is in for one of its worst seasons in recent memory.

Nic B in Louisville writes: I can't help wondering how Kirk Herbstreit feels about his Herbie awards pick that Pitt will win the Big East now.

Adelson: I have an answer to that one. Near the end of the Pitt-Cincinnati game Thursday night, Herbstreit said on Twitter: "I told ya Pitt was the team to beat in the Big East!.Mercy..I'm all over that one..haha.1st mulligan of the yr..T. Bridgewater and the Cards."

Sabrina in New York writes: ACC joke: Pittsburgh is suing to join ACC this year. They read that losing to an FCS team to open season is predictor of winning conference (see 2010 season).

Adelson: Ba-dum!

Marc Wilson in Fresno, Calif., writes: BYU will most likely not join the Big East. Do you foresee Air Force joining the league? I personally am a fan of the Mountain West because of Fresno State and Boise State. I personally hope Air Force does not leave the Mountain West for the Big East as the leaders who turned down the invite are still there but I'm sure money may influence Air Force come November if TV negotiations are done by then. If both Air Force and BYU do not join the Big East my hope is for Fresno State to follow Boise State and San Diego State to the Big East but president (John) Welty will not put football only in the Big East.

Adelson: I got this question a lot in the mailbag, after commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed last week the Big East will try and add team No. 14. I have to believe the league will try and go after BYU and Air Force again. I think they both say no again. Air Force made it very clear it was happy staying in the Mountain West with the ability to stay in one main geographic location for games. If money was not a factor then, why are things going to be different now? I still believe the Big East will try and look West first to help out Boise State and San Diego State but things have been quiet on the actual schools under consideration.

Dale in El Paso, Texas, writes: I was very impressed with the UConn defense and in my book Paul Pasqualoni is a solid coach. He never got the credit for what he did at Syracuse!

Adelson: I think Pasqualoni has gotten credit for what he did at Syracuse, despite his shortcomings in his final few seasons there. Pasqualoni is a defensive coach, so it is no surprise to see this group do well in Week 1. I expected this to be one of the best defenses in the Big East. The big challenge comes this week against a good team from the ACC.

John in Woodbridge, N.J., writes: Hello Andrea, back into the swing of college football again. I am very concerned with Rutgers turnover problems. I know it's only one game, but the body of work [2011 & 2012] with [Gary] Nova and [Savon] Huggins; INT and fumbling problems are a issue. Also when Nova gets under a little pressure, he throws off his back foot. On top of that, never saw so many penalties from a Rutgers team. Maybe [Kyle] Flood is to lax with his players. What are your thoughts?

Adelson: I do not think we can say outright Flood is too lax with his players after one game. The penalties are troubling, no question, and so are the turnovers. But when Nova won the job, I remember writing that I was concerned with his penchant for throwing too many interceptions. Rutgers has got to try and get him to feel a little more comfortable out there. As for Huggins, I wouldn't be surprise if Jawan Jamison is eventually the every down back. Hard to keep him off the field.

David L writes: Andrea in your power rankings you said "The Bulls just need some more consistency on offense after a really so-so performance. USF coach Skip Holtz said afterward of his offense, "There seemed to be a lot of confusion." How many times do we need to put up with the SAME excuse? I'm tired of seeing my team look bad and turn into a punching bag as the season moves on. If USF had some powerful donors, do you think they would ignite a fire and get at the very least Todd Fitch OUT OF HERE?

Adelson: I should hope if Fitch is doing that poorly, Holtz could come to that decision on his own without the intervention of powerful donors. I am never in favor of folks who have little football knowledge and gobs of money dictating decisions. I know there has been a lot of frustration from USF fans over Fitch, and how pedestrian this offense has looked with what appears to be talent at the skill positions. I know there have been some questionable play calls as well. But it was Week 1. I am not rushing to judgment on USF and Fitch just yet.