The Biggest “Balloon Boys” In College Football

October 19, 2009 – 11:38 pm by McD


The awesome hoax last week perpetrated by two very loving, not insane in any way, fame-at-all-costs parents got me thinking about college football. Not that it takes major news events for me to ponder collegiate football, but I’m trying to build up to something here, OK?

Point is, I was wondering about who the biggest hoaxes in the 2009 edition of college football are. Teams and players that had all kinds of hype and goodwill coming from the press and the fans, but turned out to be completely terrible, disappointing, and even painful to watch.

The real lesson from this post is that all preseason polls and “watch lists” are bullsh*t red-herrings created because the press needs something to cover heading into the season. How can anyone vote for a team that hasn’t played a down against anyone other than themselves in months? Even the BCS comes out after just seven weeks of football and that’s the most f-ed up poll in the world.

For the record, Sam Bradford’s disaster of a junior season is not included because of his freak injuries. It’s not like he’s come back and just sucked or something. Also, Florida State doesn’t count because they’ve been consistently crappy for a while now, so this year’s meltdown doesn’t really show anything.

So, without further ado, the biggest “balloon boys” in college football:

Ole Miss/Jevan Snead
Remember when Ole Miss was ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP poll? We’re a hell of a long way away from those days, aren’t we? The Rebels aren’t even ranked now thanks to their 4-2 record, including a really bad loss to South Carolina and a thumping at the hands of Alabama.

I’ve speculated that Houston Nutt’s system is truly to blame (name one quarterback who’s been truly efficient and productive under him), but on the field Jevan Snead has been awful in nearly every one of Mississippi’s games. His 11-for-34, 140 yard, 0 TD, 4 INT performance against Alabama was one of the worst of the year, though his 7-for-21, 107 yard, 1 TD game against South Carolina wasn’t much better.

But those are only in their two losses, so maybe he just had a couple of bad games, right? I mean Steve Spurrier saw something in him that made his secretary’s aunt or whoever decide to put Snead above Tim Tebow in the pre-season all-conference team, right?

Wrong. Snead’s season stats look like this: 1,108 yards, 49.7 percent completions, 6.88 yards per attempt, 12 TD, 9 INT, 7 sacks.

I put that last one in there to point out that he’s only been sacked just more than once a game, meaning he’s been simply awful and it’s not because he’s always on his back. Alabama got consistent pressure on him the entire game, but never actually recorded a sack. South Carolina recorded four sacks on Snead, so he’s only been sacked 3 times in five games. Losing Michael Oher was a big deal, but clearly pass protection isn’t their biggest issue, it’s Snead doing his best JaMarcus Russell impression. He’s under constant pressure in every game now because teams know they can rattle him with pressure. It’s worked in every timeOle Miss has played a good team (games against Memphis, Southeast Louisiana, and UAB don’t count).

Snead is (or was maybe) a legitimate pro prospect with some pretty freakish physical tools. There’s a reason Texas wanted him more than Colt McCoy when the Longhorns were recruiting and signing both quarterbacks. But maybe we’re seeing the reason the Longhorns picked McCoy over Snead.

Speaking of Colt McCoy…

Colt McCoy and the Texas Offense
McCoy’s 2009 Passing Totals: 1,537 yards, 11 TD, 7 INT.

Game Splits: 127 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT vs Oklahoma; 265-1-1 vs. Colorado (84 yards in second half), 286-3-1 vs. UTEP, 205-1-2 vs. Texas Tech, 337-3-1 vs. Wyoming, 317-2-1 vs. Louisiana Monroe.

Total tats vs two good teams Texas has played (Oklahoma, Texas Tech): 332 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT.

Stats vs four bad teams (Colorado, UTEP, Wyoming, ULM): 1,205 yards, 8 TD, 4 INT.

Let me say out front that McCoy has been disappointing by his own standards, not by the general standards for all quarterbacks. He hasn’t been a hoax because his stats are so bad because they’re not. Though seven INT’s is really high considering he threw eight all of last season. Clearly, he’s been better than Jevan Snead this year, but this was supposed to be a Heisman campaign for McCoy and he hasn’t turned in the performances yet that would warrant consideration for the award.

It’s clear Colt is getting fat off the embarrassing out-of-conference schedule Texas has set up for him. It’s not totally his fault because he has absolutely no control over the team’s schedule from year to year. But his two performances against teams that were legitimately feisty against the Longhorns leave a lot to be desired.

He’s been a hoax because he’s been asked to carry the entire load for Texas on offense and, though the Longhorns are still undefeated, he looked like crap against Texas Tech (1 TD, 2 INT’s), Colorado (84 second half passing yards, down 14-10 at halftime, zero offensive TD’s in second half), and especially Oklahoma (53 percent completions, 4 sacks, 3.26 yards per attempt).

Worse, most of Texas’ offense calls for him to throw very short passes because they simply can’t run the ball. That explains his 70 percent completion percentage. McCoy averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt against Oklahoma and Texas Tech. He’s only averaging 6.9 YPA for the entire 2009 season, a full yard lower than his previous low of 7.8. In other words, the teams that can tackle, have the speed to stay with Texas’ receivers and don’t have to deal with the threat of a running game, have no problem limiting McCoy’s effectiveness.

Florida’s offense without Dan Mullen calling plays
Florida is also undefeated, and while many are making excuses for the offense’s lack of production based on Tim Tebow’s concussion, Lane Kiffin’s play-calling and Urban Meyer “playing to his defense,” the real issue is Florida can’t throw the ball at all and the running game is predictable at best. The Gators have one playmaker in the passing game (tight end Aaron Hernandez) and absolutely no one else. Obviously, they’re having a hell of a time replacing Percy Harvin because there isn’t anyone fulfilling that role yet.

Florida’s offense was averaging over 300 yards per game heading into a matchup with LSU two weeks ago. That was largely due to facing an obscenely easy out of conference schedule (Charleston Southern, Troy) and Kentucky in week four. The Gators also play Florida International in their second to last game of 2009 before the traditional season-ending matchup with Florida State. Way to challenge yourselves, guys.

Against the LSU Tigers’ defense, Florida managed 193 yards with a 4.0 yards per carry average. Obviously, the Gators were coming back to earth because LSU’s defense is better than other teams they’d played, so that game wasn’t a big deal statistically speaking. There was no way Florida was going to meet its rushing average against LSU.

But then came the Arkansas game this past weekend. The Razorbacks made it clear they were going to sell out to stop the run and make Tim Tebow pass to beat them and that strategy came really close to working. Keep in mind, Arkansas’ defense is one of the worst in the SEC. Florida managed just 136 yards and a 3.0 yards per carry average against the Razorbacks. Tebow and the defense did save Florida in the end, but a trend is becoming clear.

The problem is that it’s obvious what Florida is going to do based on its personnel packages. If Jeff Demps or Chris Rainey is in, the Gators are probably running one of them around the end or Tebow is running straight up the middle. The two Lilliputian backs are definitely not carrying between the tackles, that’s for damn sure, so defenses know where the run is headed and just have to follow the ball. Also, let’s face it, Tebow is going to get twice as many carries as Demps, Rainey, or Emmanuel Moody. So, defenses can key on that more than ever because there’s no Harvin-Wildcat or the threat of a triple option with Tebow, Harvin, and Demps/Rainey or the Rich-Rod run/pass option play Florida used to use.

The only time LSU had legitimate trouble stopping the run is when Florida gave Moody several carries between the tackles. LSU had to track both Tebow AND Moody, and the former Trojan averaged seven yards per carry that night. It was something Florida hadn’t done all season, and so it befuddled LSU for a while, though the Gators didn’t stick with it.

Florida’s offense isn’t nearly as dynamic as it was a year ago. Tebow and the passing game showed some life at the end of the Arkansas game and Tebow’s stats weren’t too bad (17/26, 255 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT). But to this point, it’s obvious the play-calling is getting Florida into trouble against defenses athletic enough to man-cover its receivers and stay with the running backs.

Terrelle Pryor
I’d say Pryor’s struggles have been covered ad nauseum at this point. Anyone who follows college football knows he’s struggling big time, along with the rest of the Ohio State offense. A lot of Pryor’s struggles have to do with his lack of development as a passer and Ohio State’s inability to build an offense around him that plays to his strengths. Jim Tressel is just trying to fit Pryor into his pre-existing system with a few tweaks, even though he’s never had a quarterback with the capabilities Pryor has. We’re used to bad offense from Ohio State. Teams led by Craig Krenzel and Todd Boeckman will do that to a team but this is something different…and worse.

Pryor is completing 56 percent of his passes for 1,169 yards, 10 TDs, and 8 INTs. Pretty mediocre stats, obviously, though they were better before his two interception, two lost fumble performance against Purdue last week.

The main problem in the Purdue game – and with Ohio State in general this year – is that the entire offense is on Pryor. He’s already really close to his season totals from last year in passing yardage, attempts and touchdowns and we’re only halfway through the 2009 schedule. He’s required to be the sole producer on the offense because OSU doesn’t have any good running backs. Brandon Saine and Dan Herron have been complete disappointments all year. No opposing defense is truly afraid of either of them, leaving Pryor to run and pass effectively.

Tim Tebow may have been ready for this kind of load as a sophomore but at least he had an offense that was built to suit him and players around him who were incredibly talented. Pryor doesn’t even have that. As a true sophomore with throwing technique issues and an entire defense keying on him when he runs, you’re going to get the exact kind of abomination that we’ve seen from Ohio State thus far.

The Illini got 105 votes (or points…whatever) in the preseason AP poll, making them the second-leading vote getter among non-ranked teams (just behind Oregon State’s 122 votes). Guess some people thought that awesome defense and Juice Williams-led offense were going to be a power in the Big Ten.

Yeah, not so much.

Illinois is 1-5 and has not beaten a D-1 team this season. The defense is gawd-awful and Juice Williams was benched, but brought back because his replacement was even worse. Ron Zook is getting fired for sure.

Dez Bryant
Let’s be clear one more time about why Dez Bryant was suspended. The NCAA didn’t suspend him because he took a free lunch from Deion Sanders or met with an agent or something. He was suspended because he lied to NCAA investigators when asked about his activities with Sanders. That’s just f-ing stupid.

He’s a hoax because he killed his draft status (for now) by doing something a lot worse than under-performing on the field. I’m sure NFL teams won’t have an issue with his game, but they’re definitely going to wonder about his brain and what might happen under their watch.

Julio Jones
2008 season stats: 58 receptions, 924 yards, 4 TD

2009 season stats (through seven games): 13 receptions, 175 yards, 1 TD

And before you say he’s got a crap quarterback, A.J. Green seems to be doing just fine with his own crap quarterback targeting him so the safeties get a head start on trying to knock him out of the game.

Jones has flat disappeared from Alabama’s offense. The Crimson Tide didn’t throw much last year but John Parker Wilson still managed to get the ball to his stud wideout. Greg McElroy seems to be having issues picking Jones out on the field because his didn’t have one catch against South Carolina last Saturday. He’s become totally invisible. My guess is that since he’s ‘Bama’s only passing weapon, he’s constantly being double-teamed by defenses. But good receivers can overcome that, meaning there seem to be issues with McElroy and probably with Jones’ route-running as well.

The kid is still freaky talented, but to be this bad after being so good as a true freshman is the very definition of over-hype heading into the season. Sophomore Fail.

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  1. 7 Responses to “The Biggest “Balloon Boys” In College Football”

  2. Isn’t Julio Jones constantly in double- and triple-coverage, though? Usually he has a corner on his hip and a safety or two cheating over on his side, which limits his ability just a touch.

    I’m not defending him so much as pointing out that he’s got a monster-sized target on his chest these days.

    By MJenks on Oct 20, 2009

  3. I’ve always said Tebow will make a great 3rd string fullback on the Browns practice squad next year.

    By KJ on Oct 20, 2009

  4. Yeah, Jones gets doubled all the time since, you know, teams would be crazy to leave him one on one. But the great ones learn how to beat that anyway. Apparently, he’s still figuring it out. That, and the mitigating factors (McElroy kinda sucks, they don’t throw much anyway) means he’s a really tall, fast ghost on that field.

    By McD on Oct 20, 2009

  5. Julio Jones in most cases is triple teamed and forcing the ball to him has been one of the main reasons Alabama has struggled as of late.

    By whatshisname on Oct 21, 2009

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