Happy Friday. This is the mailbag. We have some really, really good games tomorrow, eh? Follow me on Twitter here.
To the notes!
Tim from Atlanta writes: There's been a lot of talk comparing MSU to Stanford from a "scheme" standpoint, but very little about whether the personnel is comparable. Stanford gave Oregon fits due to their NFL-caliber O-lines and TE who could block & catch -- does MSU really have the same talent on the O-line to control the LOS in the same fashion? is it possible the similarities between MSU.
Ted Miller: Comparing the Stanford offense from 2013 and the Michigan State offense from 2014 isn't terribly useful, though both are mostly run-first, pro-style schemes. And Stanford got little production from its tight ends in 2013.
From a Week 2 perspective, Michigan State's probably got a good-but-not-great offensive line, though a verdict on that won't be delivered until season's end. It's replacing three starters from last season's good-but-not-great unit, though center Jack Allen and tackle Jack Conklin are All-Conference type players. Phil Steele ranked the Spartans' line No. 9 in the Big Ten. So, the preseason ratings for the offensive line are not Stanford-esque.
Here's what you need to watch: Third down. Stanford owned third down on both sides of the ball in its 26-20 win last season. It was 14 of 21 on third down -- the Ducks were seemingly helpless vs. the Cardinal's power runs -- while the Ducks were a measly 3 of 10.
Though turnovers -- the Ducks lost that battle 2-0 against Stanford -- is often the first number to look at in big games, the Spartans' ability to maintain drives and minimize the Ducks' ability to make their up-tempo attack drain the Spartans' defense on what should be a hot afternoon is probably where this game turns.
Seth from Los Angeles writes: what do you guys thin[k] about this article about Colt Lyerla.... Ducks in NCAA trouble?
Ted Miller: Lyerla has managed to make himself look even worse while intending to tell his side of the story. And that is the real sad fact for Lyerla. He still doesn't get it. As for the potential NCAA trouble you allude to, that's from this graph:
Their enthusiasm dampened when an unofficial adviser weighed in. Lyerla declines publicly to identify the man, a powerful University of Oregon booster known to the family. The adviser made the benefits of that decision clear. If Lyerla went to Oregon, "I was promised a house, a car, all these things."
Oregon has said that it will investigate Lyerla's allegations. We have no idea if that is true or not -- Lyerla's track record with reliability is pretty terrible -- and the important part is Lyerla admits he never got any of those things. That appears to be one of the reasons he's angry at Oregon. As in: "I was promised impermissible benefits but I was lied to!"
All Hype? from Oakland writes: I know only time will tell...but Hundley's decision to return to school may hurt him financially, a' la Matt Barkley and have him slip in the draft considerably. Ironically, SC/Barkley also had high expectations and was a Heisman candidate. A bigger concern, may be whether Hundley can remain healthy throughout the season, especially if the O-line & receiving corp doesn't improve! Hundley wishes he had a couple of Cal's receivers. Time will also tell if Virginia's D was actually good or if UCLA's offense was really that bad. This should Not have been close considering Virginia went 2-10, 0-8 (conf.) last year.
Ted Miller: That is certainly a potential storyline, and the performance by Brett Hundley and his offensive line at Virginia did nothing to invalidate it.
Anytime a potential high NFL draft pick opts to return for another season, he takes a chance. Sometimes a player's numbers slip because he presses or his supporting cast is weaker or he is thinking too much about NFL scouts. Sometimes more film ends up hurting if the improvement from year-to-year is nominal. Other times he helps his cause.
But Hundley is a better prospect than Barkley just based on his arm and athletic ability, which are both superior to Barkley's.
Tyler from Portland writes: Ted picked Michigan St. Chantel picked Michigan St. Keven Picked Oregon. So basically Kevin is the only bright one. But it seems that God himself has picked Oregon as well. How so? Weather! For in East Lansing Michigan they have had a very mild cool summer. In Portland, where I am, it is only 68 degrees right now at 2:30 p.m. The normal average for this time of year for Portland-Eugene is around 73 degrees of a daily high. However, come Friday and Saturday, in Eugene they are predicting a high of 97 (according to Weather Underground). That is VERY hot for us Oregonians, but blistering hot for Michigan people. I predict MSU players will be melted by halftime! Look for many MSU cramps- just saying :)
Yet you are right, and this goes back to third down. The more plays Oregon runs, the better their chances of winning. As good as the Michigan State defense is, it is not used to what Oregon does. If the Ducks extend drives, that will challenge the Spartans' conditioning. No matter how good it is, there would be some effect in the fourth quarter if the Ducks are closing in on 80 plays.