Extra MustardSI On CampusFantasyPhoto GalleriesSwimsuitVideoFanNationSI KidsTNT

College Football Mailbag (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2007 12:08PM; Updated: Wednesday November 7, 2007 3:42PM
Print ThisE-mail ThisFree E-mail AlertsSave ThisMost PopularRSS Aggregators
Nick Reed
Led by star DE Nick Reed, Oregon's aggressive defense has employed a bend-don't-break approach.
Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images
Submit a question or an opinion to Stewart.
Your name:
Your e-mail address:
Your home town:
Enter your question:

Some columnists question Oregon because the defense is prone to giving up yards and points too easily. Having watched them live, do you think the defense is mediocre, or that Oregon's lightning-fast offense leaves the Ducks D too tired to rack up the stellar defensive stats some writers are looking for?
--Joe Patrice, New York

You raise a valid point about the defense having to spend so much time on the field. Against Arizona State, the Ducks were in control nearly the entire game, yet only had possession for 25:10 (compared to 34:50 for the Sun Devils) and were outgained in yardage 489 to 400. Against USC a week earlier, however, time-of-possession was nearly identical and Oregon had to work much harder to score. The Ducks won that game with key defensive stops as much as (if not more) Dixon or Jonathan Stewart's heroics.

By no means would I consider Oregon's defense elite, but I wouldn't call it "mediocre," either. Nick Reed is a bona fide stud at defensive end, as is Patrick Chung at safety, but there's no question Oregon's corners are highly susceptible to big plays (see: the Cal game). My impression from watching them in person is Oregon fields your classic "bend-but-don't-break" defense. They blitzed the heck out of Rudy Carpenter and wound up sacking him nine times and forcing a couple late turnovers. But whenever Carpenter did have protection, he pretty much had his way with the Ducks' secondary. Their run defense, on the other hand, was surprisingly impressive.

Oregon's biggest concern down the stretch is going to be its ever-mounting injuries. Somehow, they've been able to plug one hole after another on offense without missing a beat, but time will tell whether they can do the same on defense after losing starting middle linebacker John Bacon for the season during Saturday's game.

Stewart, why does Texas A&M think they can get Coach Tubs to leave Auburn and go to Aggieland? Coach Tubs was only there for one year as a defensive coordinator. I know Auburn hasn't always treated Tubs well, but I just don't see him bolting for College Station. Do you agree?
--Brandon, Auburn

Money talks, and Texas A&M has no shortage of deep-pocketed boosters who would happily pony up if the powers-that-be there truly consider Tuberville their top target. That's certainly how they lured Dennis Franchione from Alabama. But I think you need to treat such rumors with a grain of salt. A&M could well be interested, and could well be convinced it can get him. The Aggies are a proud program and certainly think of themselves as being on equal or higher footing with Auburn, whether or not that's actually the case.

But as I've written about in the past, the overwhelming majority of coaching-mill "rumors" circulating this time of year come from agents trying to stir the pot and gain leverage for their clients. Tuberville's agent happens to be the reigning king of that tactic, Jimmy Sexton. I can't tell you how many raises that man has generated for his clients after they've conveniently "removed themselves from consideration" for jobs to which they were never serious candidates to begin with. I don't know one way or the other whether Tuberville is a candidate at Texas A&M (theoretically, the job isn't even open yet), but the combination of his continued success, the lack of appreciation in the past which Brandon brought up and his perceived desirability to a school like Texas A&M will ultimately result in, at the very least, another lucrative extension from Auburn.

Stewart, seeing as how you're the Internet's premier college football pundit, is there any way you could contact the nation's journalists, bloggers and message-board moderators to orchestrate a complete moratorium on all conference supremacy debates until the end of the regular season? It was fun for a while, but good god. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and count to 10.
--Stephen, Athens, Ga.

Believe me, Stephen, there's nothing I'd love more. (Besides, of course, a quiet, candle-lit dinner with the lovely Ms. Spiro.) Remember how I wrote a couple weeks back lamenting how, no matter what I write about on my blog, the comments board inevitably deteriorates into yet another SEC-vs.-Big Ten-vs.-Big 12-vs.-Pac-10 argument? Last Sunday, I filed my "Five Things We Learned" blog post from a Starbucks in Eugene, Ore., immediately got in my rental car, raced two hours up I-5 to Portland and caught my flight with about two minutes to spare. By the time I got to log on again, some nine hours later, I was flabbergasted to see it had generated 234 comments. Take a quick skim through and you'll notice a familiar theme among about 90 percent of them.

But I'm afraid you give me far too much credit in terms of my clout in the realm of cyberspace. Have you read some of the bloggers out there? Here's a little sampling from the first few pages of a Google search involving my name: "SI's Stewart Mandel: I get paid to write 2+2=4" (jonathantu.wordpress.com), "Stewart Mandel is an idiot and I hope UGA bites him in the rear end" (Dawgsports.com) and "Stewart Mandel needs a long vacation" (thenittanyline.blogspot.com). I'm guessing you'd have a better chance getting these guys to actually shave and shower on consecutive days than participate in any idea that originated from me.

If Boise State runs the table and beats Hawaii, do they have a realistic shot at a BCS at-large berth?
--J, Billings, Montana

I highly doubt it. First of all, there's a far lower respect level nationally for Hawaii this year (due to its weak schedule and poor road performances) than there was last year at this time for Boise State. So simply beating Hawaii is not the kind of feat that's going to send the Broncos soaring up the rankings. And secondly, whereas last year's Boise State team gained a lot of credibility from its early-season rout of an Oregon State team that wound up winning 10 games and beating undefeated USC, these Broncos are hard to take as seriously having lost fairly soundly to a Washington team that currently stands 3-6. Don't get me wrong, the Boise State story was unquestionably the highlight of last year's bowl season, but I don't get the sense too many people around the country are clamoring for a sequel.

3 of 4