Jamie Newberg's Mailbag

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What is going on with all these missed extra points? Can the Gators run the table playing that tough schedule? Why doesn't USC have more commitments and what's up with Cal recruiting? I will answer these questions and more in this week's mailbag.

What is going on with the horrible kicking games in college football, particularly field goals and extra points? Through five weeks thus far 53 teams have missed a total of 82 extra points in 1-A football. Only six teams are perfect in extra points and field goals ¿ Air Force, Cal, LSU, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Toledo and Utah. New Mexico State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Florida and Florida International have missed three extra points already this season while Akron and Clemson have missed four. Texas is a perfect 29 for 29 while Duke is 1 for 1. Florida, Utah State and Tulane have yet to make a field goal.

My hunch is the explanation to this problem could be that teams are not spending enough practice time on this part of their special teams because of the shortened practice time. With the complexities of today's college game more time is being spent on execution of offensive and defensive schemes rather than some of the game's most fundamental plays.

It's interesting because a missed extra point has already cost some teams. Just ask Clemson and Alabama.

Here's how I see the top 20¿

Top 20
1) Ohio State
The Buckeyes are widening their first place lead after a very convincing victory at Iowa. They should be on cruise control until Michigan to end the season. Troy Smith looks super and the defense is getting better and better.

2) USC
The Trojans escaped with a victory at Washington State even without star wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. USC takes on the much improved Huskies this weekend while Cal and Oregon wait for their shot at the Trojans.

3) Auburn
The Tigers held off a scrappy South Carolina team on the road in Columbia last Thursday. Auburn escaped with a win. They are back home this week against Arkansas before hosting the Gators next weekend.

4) Florida
The Gators passed test two on Saturday with a come from behind win against Alabama. This Saturday is the mid-term exam for Florida as they face LSU at home in what looms as the best game of the day.

5) West Virginia
The Mountaineers got some rest with an off week. They should get things cranking right where they left off with Mississippi State this Saturday.

6) Michigan
The Wolverines beat Minnesota for the Little Brown Jug. This team is certainly playing with a lot of consistency and they take on a reeling Michigan State team.

7) LSU
I know they lost to Auburn but LSU just might be the best team in the SEC right now. This Tiger defense is ferocious. Offensively, they have to find their running game. The Tigers are in a must win situation this weekend in Gainesville or they might be out of it in the SEC West.

8) Louisville
The Cardinals got the weekend off to help get healthy and ready for MTSU. The offense should go nuts.

9) Oregon
The Ducks were impressive on the road as they blew out Arizona State. Oregon certainly has tremendous balance on offense but can their defense stop the Bears?

10) Texas
The Longhorns won by 53 against Sam Houston State. Their opponent this week is OU in the Red River Shootout. Quarterback Colt McCoy needs to play mistake free against this Sooner defense.

11) Georgia
The Georgia offense really is struggling. The Dawgs barely got by the Rebels on the road in Oxford. UGA gets the Vols at home this weekend and Tennessee can't afford another loss.

12) Oklahoma
The Sooners were idle going into this week's critical game against the Longhorns. The rest and extra preparation could give the Sooners a little advantage.

13) Notre Dame
The Irish put big numbers on the board against Purdue. Get used to that because Quinn and company should score a ton of points over the next seven games.

14) Clemson
The Tigers are literally running away from people. Last week it was against Louisiana Tech, where Clemson produced three 100 yard rushers. It will get tougher this week against unbeaten and surprising Wake Forest.

15) Tennessee
The Vols put one of their better games together over the past few seasons as they whipped up on Memphis last weekend. Quarterback Erik Ainge is playing as good as anyone. They will need him and a few big plays from his receivers this weekend in Athens.

16) Cal
The Bears are playing like a top 10 team right now. So is Oregon and the Bears and Ducks face off this weekend in what should be one of the top games of the day. It should be an exciting shootout.

17) Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets stunned the Hokies in Blacksburg. When are teams going to realize that you have to double team Calvin Johnson on every single play?

18) Nebraska
The Cornhuskers needed overtime to beat the Jayhawks on Saturday. Zach Taylor continues to put up great numbers for Nebraska. They should face a tough test this weekend at Iowa State.

19) Iowa
The Hawkeyes decided to make it a little easier on the No. 1 ranked team with four turnovers. It still would not have mattered.

20) Florida State
The Seminoles found their offense and their running game against Rice. Now, can they show any kind of signs of consistency against the Wolfpack tonight?

Heisman Race

1) Adrian Peterson (RB) Oklahoma
Peterson and Oklahoma were off last weekend. His legs are rested for the Longhorns. Peterson has 643 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He can make a big Heisman statement this weekend against Texas.

2) Troy Smith (QB) Ohio State
Smith was awesome in Ohio State's two big road games versus Texas and Iowa. He should put up huge numbers the rest of the way leading up to the season ending game against the Wolverines. He is 84 of 128 passing, 1,070 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions.

3) Garrett Wolfe (RB) Northern Illinois
Wolfe was a long shot but after rushing for 353 yards and three scores last weekend, he has got to be considered one of the front runners. In week one he torched Ohio State for 171 yards and last week he ran right through Ball State. He has rushed for 1,181 yards and 11 scores. Wolfe is on pace to rush for an astounding 2,800 plus yards.

4) Steve Slaton (RB) West Virginia
After torching the Terrapins on national TV. Slaton was brought back down to earth against East Carolina. He will need to run all over Mississippi State this weekend to recapture the momentum. Slaton has rushed for 583 yards and six touchdowns.

5) Chris Leak (QB) Florida
Leak was good against the Crimson Tide, especially in the second half. He has now thrown for 1,240 yards, for 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Leak faces LSU, Auburn and Georgia over the next three games. This stretch will make or break his Heisman case.

Chris Leak
Chris Leak
If Florida can get by Auburn, LSU and the rest of the schedule they will be the most tested team in the country. Will it be enough to get into the top two and play Ohio State for the National Championship? If so, how do they match up with them? That Gator defense is great, especially against the run.
Greer (Gainesville, Florida)

While I agree with you that Florida will be the most tested team in the nation after playing through this season's brutal schedule, can they actually get by everyone to set themselves up for a potential title match with Ohio State or whomever? It's going to be awfully difficult for the Gators and Head Coach Urban Meyer

They passed their first two tests against Tennessee a few weeks ago and Alabama this past Saturday. Now they must face LSU, Auburn, and Georgia over the next four weeks. They face Auburn on the road and Georgia in Jacksonville. Florida also has Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks in the Swamp, and they end the season in Tallahassee versus their bitter rival Florida State. 

Then, if they do win the East they will more than likely have to face LSU or Auburn again in the SEC Championship Game. So to say Florida can run the table and set themselves up for a title run is going to be a very daunting task. But it can be done and if it is done, they will without question be very deserving to play for the National Championship. With that schedule I don't see how they could get shutout of the big game. If you are Florida, you must look at this as do or die in the middle of a playoff run. Just win this week, advance and move on.

First things first, they have to take care of business versus the LSU Tigers this weekend. And with LSU already losing a close battle with Auburn, their backs are against the wall in the West. They certainly do not want to fall two games behind Auburn.

As you look at this Florida team after five games several things jump out at you that make you think they do have a chance to run the table. First, their defense is very good, especially against the run. In the SEC, you better be able to stop the run or you will have zero chance of winning your own division, let alone the conference title. And the Gator defense does this very well. Second, quarterback Chris Leak now has a command and confidence in this offense. He is surrounded by playmakers and running back DeShawn Wynn is finally playing up to his abilities and giving the Gators a good, consistent ground attack to compliment their passing game. Wynn got injured against the Tide, and his playing status is up in the air for their big game against LSU this weekend.

There are a few things that Meyer and the Gators have to shore up. First, the offensive line must play better and with more consistency. This was a big question mark coming into this season and so far they have played pretty well. They need to keep it up and continue to improve with great fronts looming ahead with LSU, Auburn and Georgia. Second, Florida has to improve it's field goal/extra point kicking. They have not made a field goal this season and have missed three extra points. Sooner or later they will need a big kick in a close game. Third, the secondary is still suspect, especially at the cornerback position. LSU matches up very well against them with their receivers (Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, and Early Doucet) against the Florida secondary.

Meyer also talked about having toughness, both mentally and physically. They showed that in Knoxville and last weekend in the Swamp against Alabama. He wants the Gators to find that each and every week, particularly when away from the Swamp, especially against teams like Auburn and Florida State.

To answer the part of your question about a potential Florida/Ohio State title game is getting a little ahead of yourself. On paper now, that would appear to be a super game. Let's just see what happens first in Gainesville and Columbus over the next eight weeks. There's lots of football to be played and some big game ahead.

Why is it that USC always seems to lag behind in early commitments and they come on right before Signing Day?
Peter (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

C.J. Gable
True Freshman C.J. Gable
There are two old clichés that can best describe the great recruiting race each year. It's doesn't matter how you start but how you finish, and recruiting is a marathon not a sprint. These two phrases also epitomize the difference in recruiting philosophy that each program has. For example, let's talk about USC and Texas. These are two teams that have won or shared the last three National Championships, and in terms of recruiting and philosophy, they are different. Nonetheless, the way they do things both net the same results, and that's fantastic recruiting classes.

Case in point, Texas. The Longhorns have a philosophy to recruit their state, offer the prospects they want early, and get them to commit early. And we are talking real early. Over the past two years Mack Brown and Texas have secured 19 and 15 commitments by April 15th. That's amazing, especially considering the wealth of talent the Longhorns are bringing to Austin.

Case in point, USC. The Trojans are off to a torrid start by their standards with nine commitments to date. Considering over the last two years they have a total of four commitments by October 1st. Their philosophy is different than that of the Longhorns. Yes they recruit California hard, but they are also a program that recruits the best of the best throughout the country. Yes they go after the top prospects in their backyard, but they also recruit the top players in Florida, New Jersey, Washington D.C., etc., etc.

USC has taken over the top spot in the land as the most dominant recruiting power. And right now it's not even close. With that in mind and the strategy they implement, the Trojans can be a little more picky than everyone else. They can wait a little longer to offer certain players, because they know in the end they will still get their share of the top kids.

Keep in mind this is how Florida State, Florida and Miami did things for years. The big three in Florida were notorious for closing like sledge hammers in the months of December, January and the early days of February. Now it's USC doing that. You also have to keep in mind that USC is on the best of the best prospects spanning the entire country. More often than not, these type of prospects tend to wait things out, take their visits and let the recruiting process unfold. Hence, they tend to commit later in the process than earlier. Now this is not always the case, as we are seeing more and more prospects, even the elite ones, commit earlier than ever.

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach because the only thing that counts is who signs with you on that first Wednesday in February, National Signing Day. And no one has done that better than the USC Trojans this decade.

And if their hot start in recruiting is an indication of what Pete Carroll's Trojans will do this recruiting season then teams and fans better get used to the idea that USC will finish at the top or very near the top. As stated earlier, they have secured commitments from nine prospects so they are ahead of where they normally are commitment wise at this time of the year. Last year at this time USC had three commitments and two years ago the Trojans had one.

Five players of this season's commitments, offensive linemen James Wilson (St. Augustine, Fla.) and Martin Coleman (Huntington Beach, Fla.), linebacker Chris Galippo (Anaheim, Calif.), and running backs Marc Tyler (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Broderick Green (Little Rock, Ark.) are all five star players. Galippo is the nation's top linebacker while Tyler is the No. 2 rated running back. The other commitments, quarterbacks Aaron Corp (Orange, Calif.) and Samson Szakacsy (Camarillo, Calif.), safety Marshall Jones (Westlake Village, Calif.) and defensive end Michael Reardon (Orange, Calif.) are four star prospects. Each of these commitments is rated no lower than No. 19 at the respective positions. That means the Trojans are bringing in the top talent once again. Look for USC to sign 18-20 prospects come Signing Day and that number could go up depending on attrition.

Why do schools get credit for signing players that don't qualify and then after a year of prep school get credit for signing the same player(s) again? Shouldn't you rate schools on players that have qualified?
James (Athens)

I am with you James. To me and many members of the Scout.com recruiting team, we all believe that teams shouldn't receive credit twice or even three times for resigning the same prospect(s) the following year after their senior season in high school. The way our system is currently set up teams do get credit for re-signees. But I do believe that we will soon change our system so that no longer happens.

Scout.com also re-ranks the recruiting classes the following fall. We have done so since 2001. Those re-rankings appear in our Recruiting Yearbook, which will come out shortly. Here's how they will look based on who qualified academically from the Class of 2006. The number in parenthesis represents where they finished in February.

1.) USC (1)
2.) Florida (2)
3.) Texas (3)
4.) Georgia (4)
5.) Notre Dame (5)
6.) Penn State (6)
7.) Michigan (9)
8.) Oklahoma (7)

Andre Smith '06 #1 OL

9.) Pittsburgh (11)
10.) FSU (12)
11.) LSU (7)
12.) Ohio State (13)
13.) Auburn (9)
14.) Miami (14)
15.) Ole Miss (15)
16.) Arizona (19)
17.) Oklahoma State (16)
18.) UCLA (20)
19.) Texas Tech (17)
20.) Texas A&M (21)
21.) Alabama (18)
22.) California (23)
23.) Illinois (28)
24.) Clemson (22)
25.) North Carolina (25)

What's up with this? I hardly ever see/hear you talk about Cal football. Do you see Cal finishing in the top 15 and getting some top talent?
Andy (Bay Area, Calif.)

Andy, all you have to do is ask. I have been doing this mailbag column for two months, and I do believe that this is the first Cal question that has been asked. Now to the question, Cal is loaded with talent. Head Coach Jeff Tedford and his Bears have consistently recruited top 20 type of classes. Last season they finished No. 22 while two years ago they were No. 9, three years ago they were No. 29 and four years ago they were No. 24.

So far this season they are sitting on a half dozen commitments from prospects like running back Shane Vareen (Valencia, Calif.) and Brandon Jackson (Eugene, Ore.), quarterback Brock Mansion (Dallas, Texas), offensive lineman Justin Cheadle (Bakersfield, Calif.), safety Chris Conte (Los Angeles, Calif.) and wide receiver Alex Lagemann (Saratoga, Calif.).

Cal is on some top targets like quarterback Kellen Kiilsgaard (Auburn, Wa.), running backs Malachi Lewis (Oxnard, Calif.), and Jahvid Best (Richmond, Calif.), wide receivers Zion Babb (Alhambra, Calif.), and Mike Calvin (San Lorenzo, Calif.), tight end David Paulson (Auburn, Wa.), offensive linemen Sam DeMartinis (Sherman Oaks, Calif.), Matt Summers-Gavin (San Francisco, Calif.), Devon Cunningham (Sacramento, Calif.), Todd Huber (Rolling Hills, Calif.), defensive ends Kenny Rowe (Long Beach, Calif.), Apaiata Tuihalamaka (Gardena, Calif.), Duke Lemmens (Westlake Village, Calif.), linebacker Robert Mullins (Los Angeles, Calif.) and cornerback Donovan Warren (Long Beach, Fla.). The Bears should close well.

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Tagged: Florida

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