NCF Nation: Southern Mississippi
2. Love this note that ACC blogger Heather Dinich sent me. North Carolina State sophomore corner David Amerson leads the FBS with 10 interceptions, three more than anyone else. Not only has no defender picked off 11 passes since safety Jim Leonhard of Wisconsin in 2002, but if Amerson maintains his pace of one interception per game, he will be the first to do so over an entire season since safety Terry Hoage of Georgia in 1982. You now may find Hoage in the College Football Hall of Fame.
3. If No. 11 Houston falters down the stretch, there are two other non-AQs waiting to qualify for an automatic BCS bid. If either No. 19 TCU wins the Mountain West Conference or No. 20 Southern Miss knocks off Houston to win Conference USA, it’s possible that one of them will reach 16th or higher in the final BCS standings. That would qualify the higher-ranked team of the two of them for a BCS bid. One of them will end up in the Fiesta or the Sugar.
2. Leave it to Sue Paterno to crush the rumors of her husband’s ill health. Joe Paterno is fine, Sue said Monday during Outback Bowl week, and the two of them have not discussed the possibility that he will not coach in 2011. Paterno, who turned 84 last week, has been quoted as saying he plans to coach five more years. That’s been his stock line for 25 years, which is also about how long he has had to deal with rumors of his impending retirement.
3. Most coaches schedule a walk-through at the stadium on Friday. By Monday afternoon, both Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and TCU coach Gary Paterson already had taken their teams to the Rose Bowl. They did it to take pictures and, of course, to minimize the jitters that will overtake the players when they come out of the end zone tunnels on Saturday. And they did it because who wouldn’t visit the Rose Bowl as soon as you could?
Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
With so many major quarterback injuries this season, the backups have to be on high alert every week and being a backup at a nonautomatic-qualifying school is tough gig, especially if you’re at a school that’s bidding for an undefeated season.
Here’s a look at some of the backup quarterbacks from the more prominent non-AQ schools and their level of readiness should the starter become injured:
READY TO ROLL
Riley Nelson, 6-0, 207, So., BYU -- Nelson spent a season as the starting quarterback at Utah State before leaving for his LDS mission in Barcelona, Spain. He transferred to BYU this year and is the heir apparent to starter Max Hall. He played against Tulane and Florida State this season and accounted for a touchdown against the Seminoles.
Cotton Turner, 6-0, 190, RsSo., Houston -- Turner is a transfer from Blinn College. He’s a former walk-on who saw action in the season opener against Northwestern State. In that game, he completed 9 of 14 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. However, it will be hard for him to overtake Keenum as the starter.
Marcus Jackson, 6-1, 216, Sr., TCU -- Jackson started against Colorado State and San Diego State last season while starter Andy Dalton was injured. He switched to defense this season to get more playing time, But he’s still a capable backup and maybe a more offensively explosive player than Dalton because of his rushing ability.
Jacob Bower, 6-3, 242, Jr., Tulsa -- Bower was in a heated quarterback competition through fall camp but lost out to transfer G.J. Kinne. Bower was the backup a year and played in all 14 games in 2008. He’s tested and there wouldn’t be much of a drop-off if he were called upon to be the starter.
Drew Burdi, 6-1, 207, Jr., Western Michigan -- Burdi is a proven commodity, who saw time last year in mop-up duty and when starter Tim Hiller was injured. He’s played in three games this year and has been used mostly as a rushing option for the Broncos. He should be the starter next year.
HAS THE HYPE
Dantavious Parker, 5-11, 208, So., Troy -- Parker was thrust into duty last season after several injuries at the quarterback position and has played some this year, but he’s more of a rushing threat than he is a passer. He has two career rushing touchdowns and provides the Trojans with a different option, but likely won’t ever be a starter with Jaime Hampton coming back from injury next year.
Ryan Radcliff, 6-2, 202, RsFr., Central Michigan -- Radcliff saw his first collegiate action against Alcorn State this year. He led the Chippewas to two touchdowns and a field goal in the 48-0 blowout. Coach Butch Jones had nothing but positive things to say about his young quarterback, which should inspire confidence for the future of CMU football after starter Dan LeFevour’s career ends at the end of the season.
Austin Dantin, 6-2, 185, Fr., Toledo -- Dantin is a true freshman who comes in with notable high school credentials, but he won’t see the field unless something drastic happens to four-year starter Aaron Opelt. The plan is to redshirt Dantin and make him a four-year starter as well.
Michael Coughlin, 6-5, 212, Jr., Boise State -- Coughlin has seen action the past two seasons in mop-up time, but with sophomore Kellen Moore firmly implanted as the Broncos’ starter, Coughlin probably won’t make more than some token appearances throughout his career.
Martevious Young, 6-1, 188, RsJr., Southern Miss -- Young hasn’t played much during his time with the Golden Eagles and probably won’t with sophomore Austin Davis firmly planted as the starter. Young has four completions in his career, no touchdowns and an interception.
Spring football isn't just about finding new starters, it's also about finding depth. Several teams among the Independents and Others found a lot of depth some coaches didn't even know existed. My blogging counterparts released their teams that received the most help last week, but since I was recovering from surgery, I didn't get to post it. However, I didn't want to leave several deserving teams out of the loop. Below is a list of a couple teams that found much needed depth this spring.
Running game: The Nevada running game ranked third behind the efforts of Vai Taua and Colin Kaepernick and the reserve running of Courtney Randall, but add Luke Lippincott, who was approved for a sixth year and the Nevada running game could be the best in the country.
Wide receiver: After losing the top three receivers from a year ago, the Utes gained some confidence this spring with the emergence of Aiona Key, David Reed and Jereme Brooks. The Utes also should get help from freshman Luke Matthews and DeVonte Christopher, who was a quarterback.
Running back: With Damion Fletcher sitting out because of a suspension, coach Larry Fedora realized his running back depth with the strong play of players such as V.J. Floyd, Tory Harrison and redshirt freshman Desmond Johnson. Fletcher might still be the starter, but those guys will see time.
Offensive line: Last season, the Broncos played 11 different offensive line combinations and a dozen different players. While it was a big problem last year, it made for quite a bit of depth this year, anchored by center Thomas Byrd.
Wide receiver: The Knights didn't have much of a passing game last year, but that should change this season with more experience at quarterback and the return of A.J. Guyton and Rocky Ross from injury. They'll complement Brian Watters, who led the team in receiving yards last season.
Wide receivers: UNLV returns three of its top four receivers, including Ryan Wolfe, who caught passes for more than 1,000 yards last season. But coach Mike Sanford is also hoping for production out of Michael Johnson and incoming freshmen Marcus Sullivan and Mark Barefield.
Wide receiver: Aaron Bain and Malcolm Lane are the team's top returning receivers, but the team found multiple weapons this spring, including Jovonte Taylor, who missed last season with injury. The Warriors also got spring production out of Dustin Blount, Rodney Bradley, Greg Salas, Jon Medeiros, and Ryan Henry.
Tight end: Replacing James Casey is a tall order considering he was the most versatile player in the Rice lineup. But Taylor Wardlow had a great spring and freshman Vance McDonald, who signed with the 2008 class but missed the season with shoulder surgery, should be a great duo to replace him.
Running back: The Pirates had a running back by committee last season, but with Dominique Lindsay, who missed last season with a knee injury, back in the mix and Brandon Jackson emerging, the Pirates have nice depth regardless of whether Jonathan Williams and Norman Whitley, who both missed spring football after being suspended, are allowed back.
Wide receiver: Austin Collie is gone, but the return of McKay Jacobson from his two-year mission should make up for that. Dennis Pitta will be the premier target in the fall, but players such as O'Neill Chambers and Luke Ashworth came into their own this spring. Tight end Andrew George also should make a strong contribution.