August 14, 2009
Vick is still a special athlete, he's done his time, and as long as he doesn't see the field against the Saints in Week Two, I'm excited to watch him play again. (For the record, I just heard National Public Radio use the term "Wildcat offense" in reporting on Vick's signing. David Lee, take a bow.)
Now, on the completely opposite end of the quarterbacking spectrum ...
• Todd lives! You remember Auburn quarterback Chris Todd from his starring roles in such classics as Scoreless Second Half vs. Tennessee, Nine Consecutive Punts at Vanderbilt and, of course, the award-winning minimalist masterpiece, 3 to 2 in Starkville. But though Todd may have been as responsible as any single individual for the swoon that led to offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's swift dismissal and his own permanent benching at midseason, at least he managed to win two of his four SEC starts, which is more than can be said for Kodi Burns, who finished 0-5 against teams that weren't Tennessee-Martin while Todd languished on the bench, punctuated by an ugly 9-for-23 effort in a 36-0 embarrassment at Alabama.
AUBURN -- Chris Todd will start the season as Auburn's quarterback, coach Gene Chizik announced late Thursday night, ending a competition that started in the spring and featured as many as five challengers in the fall. The senior from Elizabethtown, Ky., overcame a disappointing 2008 season and arm problems that prevented him from practicing this spring to beat out juniors Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle and true freshmen Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley of Leroy.
"Arm problems" is a nice way to capture the totality of Todd's experience on the Plains thus far, though Gus Malzahn's super-charged offense certainly had a way of bringing out the best in less-than-rocket-armed QBs at Tulsa. The decision will relegate Burns to wide receiver, where the Tigers can use all the help they can get, and the occasional "Wildcat" role. If last year's passing game is any indication, "Burns off tackle" will represent an improvement, really.
• A Burfict storm. Encouraging news out of Arizona State, where coach Dennis Erickson said Thursday he thinks incoming linebacker Vontaze Burfict will pass the Clearinghouse and be ready to go for the Devils' opener with, uh, Idaho State. This is kind of a big deal for ASU: Burfict was Rivals top-ranked linebacker prospect last year, spent most of the recruiting process destined for USC and is generally regarded as the best recruit Arizona State has ever signed. He's starting with the third team this week behind a pair of three-year starters, Travis Goethel and Mike Nixon, but the freshman is practically guaranteed to see the field immediately -- if he can make his way through the bureaucracy.
• Sidelined Moeller "never saw it coming." Tyler Moeller, projected starting linebacker who failed to show for Ohio State practices at the start of the week amid somewhat sordid rumors of brain surgery following a sucker punch last month, is definitely out for the season, as we learned Tuesday. Thursday, Moeller's family cleared up the incident that ended his year:
We were on a family vacation in Florida, celebrating his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary ... On the first evening of vacation, Tyler was with several family members, including his uncle at a popular restaurant/bar; it was there that Tyler was assaulted. He never saw it coming and did nothing to provoke it, which is substantiated by neutral parties. The subject was immediately arrested and the case is currently in the hands of the State Attorney's Office.
The good news, in relative terms: Moeller is out of the hospital and seems to expect to be back on the field next year, probably still classified as a junior with two years of eligibility, because if you can't get a medical redshirt for freakin' brain surgery, I don't know why the provision exists.
In other big injured linebacker news, N.C. State starter Nate Irving, one of the best in the ACC when healthy, will sit out the entire season in recovery from a bad car accident in June that left him with a broken leg, collapsed lung and separated shoulder. (Is that all? Tough it out, Nate! Breathing is overrated!) Irving was a legitimate terror as a sophomore when he played, and when he didn't, the Wolfpack went 0-4 at midseason. He's like the Russell Wilson of the defense, and his loss is a big blow to the Pack's darkhorse bid in the Atlantic Division.
Quickly ... Penn State starting cornerback A.J. Wallace is staring down a two-game suspension for cutting class, dealing a blow to the Lions' chances against Akron and Syracuse. ... Texas Tech running back Baron Batch looks like he'll miss three to six weeks with an unspecified arm injury, which could keep him out of the Raiders' first big game, at Texas on Sept. 19. ... After throwing three interceptions in the Trojans' morning practice, freshman QB Matt Barkley took every snap against USC's first-team defense in the afternoon session and was pick-free. Meanwhile, starting defensive tackle Averell Spicer will miss two to three weeks with a sprained ankle. ... Donavan Tate, listed as one of the top "athletes" in the incoming freshman class, is leaving North Carolina to pursue a baseball career. ... UTEP is installing new turf in the Sun Bowl six years earlier than expected, and it has to be down before the Sept. 5 opener with Buffalo. ... Starting linemen Sam Young and Ian Williams and hyped freshman Manti Te'o were among the players who sat out Thursday's practice at Notre Dame. ... Georgia running back Caleb King, one day after ceding the spotlight to Richard Samuel in UGA's first scrimmage, was sidelined by a sore hamstring on Thursday. ... Speed is overrated, except when it applies to Denard Robinson, apparently. ... After 35 consecutive starts, Tennessee center Josh McNeil had to change his routine to keep his job. ... Senior receiver Roy Small will rejoin Ohio State, albeit with some unspecified restrictions. But this edition of the Buckeyes belongs to the sophomores, anyway. ... LSU transfer Sidell Corley, apparently headed to Alabama or Auburn earlier this week, looks like he's on his way to Troy instead. ... Backup Alabama running back Jeramie Griffin is out for the season with a torn ACL. ... Jim Lambright never blasted hip hop at practice, but the Husky legend likes Steve Sarkisian's style so far at Washington. ... The "war of the words" between Oregon and Boise State is totally lame. But the Ducks' helmet cams sound cool. Too bad no one thought to take a picture. ... And not that it makes any difference to the immortal, but the Tebow Child is a man: Happy 22nd Birthday to the Chosen One. Lo, his future is bright -- as is ours, just because he's in it.