Road2Arlington: UCLA Bruins, the new Kings of LA

ucla beats uscFor what seems like forever the UCLA Bruins have lived in the shadows of that other team 14 miles away. The days of playing second fiddle to recruits and to the national spot light appears to be over. The Bruins have two Heisman contender and a roster full of elite playmakers poised to breakout and do great things in Westwood. Expectations are higher than ever before, its been decades since the Bruins have been mentioned among the nation’s elite, the turn around that Coach Jim Mora has done in two years is nothing short of remarkable. And with Brett Hundley at quarterback and Myles Jack terrorizing opponents on both sides of the ball, a national championship is not just a dream but a plausible reality.

Hundley has been terrorizing helpless defenses with his jaw dropping athleticism as well brett hundleywith his arm which is cannon-like in both precision and accuracy. Although the talent at wide receiver is a bit unproven there is no shortage of talent. Jordan Payton who has battled injuries appears poised to finally live up to his 5-star high school billing. The offensive line, which was once considered a glaring weakness is expected to be vastly improved this season. Last season the running back depth was decimated by injury but early signs point to Jordon James reasserting himself in his final season in Westwood. Depth may still be a concern so expect the reigning Pac 12 offensive and defensive player of the year myles jack impact playerJack to get some snaps behind center.

Jack may have shown promise on the offensive side of the ball, his true calling is on defense. Last season Jack did great things relying on his god given talent but after a summer spent in the film room the All American will read and not simply react during his sophomore campaign. The defensive line is nothing short of impressive, freshman All American Eddie Vanderdoes is truly a man among boys. And now that Owa Odighizuwa is healthy after his recent hip bruins defenseinjury he could be poised for all conference honors at season’s end.

In the Wild Wild West, a team is as only as good as their secondary. In a league chock full of premiere passers the Bruins can breath a much needed sigh of relief. Led by Fabian Moreau opposing quarterback will think twice. Last season the Bruins finished third in pass defense, and the secondary is bound to improve.

bruins swagThe hunter has become the hunted and with expectations at a all time high, one of two things will happen: The Bruins will live up to the hype and punch their ticket to the Inaugural College Football Playoffs or they fall flat on their faces. Are the Bruins the new kings of LA? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Road2Arlington: Oregon Ducks, fast start dissapointing finish

ducks push upsYear in and year out the Oregon Ducks begin each season with championship aspirations only to have their title hopes slip through their grasps. The Ducks offense begin each season at a record breaking pace, but they are apparently done in by their own fast pace. Although Pac 12 Championships and BCS bowl appearances may make them the envy of many, those accomplishments have left many in Eugene, Oregon yearning for more. Despite falling short yet again National Championship aspirations were renewed when All American quarterback Marcus Mariota and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said no to the NFL and yes to the Ducks.

Before sputtering to the finish each Saturday had become a Mariota showcase filled withmariota scores one jaw dropping play after the other. Each night his talents left NFL scouts salivating as he ran past helpless defenders and made them pay with his arm when they dared him. Although more highlights are certain, after suffering a mild MCL sprain Mariota will wisely slide more and rely on his legs less. Mariota’s reduced load will lead to more carries for the best running back duo in the nation in Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. The Ducks may boast the best backfield in the country but they alone will not punch their ticket to the Inaugural College Football Playoffs. Pass catchers must be found and fast to replace Addison who was lost for the season due to injuries. Dwayne Stanford has the size, Keanon Lowe has the hands, and Chance Allen has the world class speed although unproven one thing is ducks defensecertain, the talent is there.

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti has been the face of the Ducks defense for decades but a new era begins in 2014. The cupboard is far from bare, the defensive line may be the envy of every team out west. Lead by Arik Armstead they have the size the depth to do great things but they must first show that they are tough enough.  Despite several losses in the secondary has the potential to be special led by first round lock Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

marcus mariota injuredHistory suggest that scoring will not be a problem but can Mariota shake Ducks qb injury curse, Dennis Dixon were not so fortunate. In the wild wild west the Ducks defense must be more than just fast, in the drenches they trust. Led by Coach Mark Helfrich the Ducks have the talent but can they be consistent. Will the Ducks fly high on their Road2Arlington or sputter to the end as they have done so many times before? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast


Road2Arlington: Clemson Tigers, No Tahj Boyd. No Sammy Watkins. No Problem

clemson strongThe Clemson Tigers led by Coach Dabo Swinney have had the best three years in program history, 32 wins and a well deserved seat among the nation’s elite program. However in 2014 those responsible for Tigers revival will be cashing checks in the NFL. But thanks to three consecutive top ten recruiting classes, the cupboard is far from bare. Although there will certainly be a drop off in experience, talent will certainly not be a problem.

There may not ever be a better quarterback and wide receiver to dawn a Clemson uniform than Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins the show must and will go on. As long as offensive coordinator Chad Morris is at the helm scoring points will not be a problem. What senior quarterback Cole Stoudts make lack in athleticism he makes up for it with four years of experience in Morris’s system. Morris will likely utilize the play making ability of dual quarterback Dashaun Watson in order to get the crown jewel of Mike Williams and Sammy Watkinsthe 2014 recruiting class on the field.

The next crop of receiver may not be households names yet, but their day in anonymity may be short lived. Sophomore wideout Mike Williams appears poised to be the next great Clemson playmaker to be a first day pick in the NFL. If one of the three freshman early enrollees Demarre Kitt,Kyrin Priester, or Artavis Scott live up to their high school billing then defensive coordinators will be having nightmares of Clemson thoroughbreds running past them through them and jumping over them.

vic beasley clemsonAfter years of being the teams biggest liability, the defense will be downright scary in 2014. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables had to be all smiles when All American Vic Beasley decided not to declare for the NFL. Beasley lived in opponents backfield last season recording 13 sacks. The defense loses no one along the defensive and they may boast one of the deepest teams in the ACC. Linebackers Tony Stewart and leading tackler Stephone Anthony appear poised to finally live up to their 5 star billing. Their may be a few concerns in the secondary but senior Martin Jenkins will aid in gettingclemson defense the inexperienced Tigers up to task.

Although the players responsible for Clemson’s rise to national prominence are gone, the seeds of excellence and sustainability are alive and well. The Tigers have the coaches, they have the talent, the only question is will they fulfill the tremendous promise that the Clemson faithful believe that they are capable of? Stay tuned…I know I will.


Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Road2Arlington: Florida State Seminoles, the champ is here

ward winston weinkeHistory is apparently repeating itself, as the Florida State Seminoles closed out the BCS era the same way it started it began as undefeated National Champions thanks largely to the play of a Heisman winning quarterback. Their are a lot of similarities between both championship teams from their quarterback to their elite defenses. But unlike the 99′ Noles these reigning champs will have their Heisman winning quarterback back for an encore season.

Last season Jameis Winston was certainly no ordinary freshman, his focus and hisJameis Winston commitment to excellence spread like wild fire inspiring his teammates to settle for nothing less than W’s week in and week out. Many teams may have tried to rattle the freshman led Noles but none succeeded and as a consequence most games were decided before halftime. While other teams would struggle to replace their leading rusher and receiver, in Tallahassee its not a punchline when you say Noles don’t replace they simply reload.

Kermit RuffinRunning back Karlos Williams appears poised to become the next great Noles running back, he has the speed to get to the corner and the power to lay out some serious punishment. There may not be another 6’5 match up nightmare like Travis Bejamin in the Noles stable but they have more speed than anyone can ask for.Nick O’Leary and Rashad Greene will be poised to lead the crop of speed burners and match up nightmares.

The Noles defense will certainly miss the heart and soul of their team in Lamarcusnoles defense Joyner but the secondary may be even better in 2014. Ronald Darby and Freshman All American Jalen Ramsey may become household names garnering national awards at season’s end. The onslaught of talent along the defensive line should be considered down right criminal. Defensive ends Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman are only the tip of the ice berg, the depth is downright absurd and their is little drop off talent wise behind them.

karlos williams fsuThe Seminoles appear to be back, and in a big way. But with heightened expectations anything less than another undefeated season and another national championship would be considered a disappointment. With expectations at an all-time high the Noles will either continue their dominant ways or fall short as past Noles squads have done during  the Coach Jimbo Fisher era? They should win and in very convincing fashion I might add but will they win? Stay tuned…I know I will.


Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast


Road2Arlington: Kansas State Wildcats, overlook them if you dare

in snyder we trustIn college football players may come and go but in Manhattan, Kansas Coach Bill Snyder is forever, and although everyone is aware of his genius the Kansas State Wildcats shock us all one year after the other. As usual the Wildcats will begin the season unranked and in the shadows, but that is just the way Snyder likes it. While other programs hog the limelight and generate most of the preseason attention the Wildcats may find themselves in the National Championship discussion before its all said and done.

The Wildcats may have lost a considerable amount of talent on both sides of the balljake waters and tyler lockett but in typical Snyder fashion a collection of undersized athletes that bigger programs overlooked are poised to breakout and make a name for themselves like so many other Wildcats before them had done in the past. Despite a disappointing start in 2013 the Wildcats finished the season on fire, as one of the hottest teams in the country.

Despite his diminutive size All American Tyler Lockett may be the best wide receiver in the country. At times last season Lockett was unstoppable and now that quarterback Jake Waters has gotten over his first year tyler lockett destroy oujitters, the best may be yet to come. Demarcus Robinson will be the next in a long list of KState mighty mites to run for 1,000 yards. Although losing two All Big 12 lineman will be hurt a bit, there is little doubt that Snyder has found a bevy of big bodied JC transfer offensive line to fill in the gap.

The Wildcats may have no problem putting up points, but the biggest question is will they be able to stop opposing offenses from doing the same. The secondary will be undergoing a complete overhaul. The youth and inexperience of the back four will beryan mueller helped considerably by one of the best defensive line in the Big 12 Conference. Last season defensive end Ryan Mueller led the conference in sacks by making a living in opponents backfield. Senior safety Dante Barnett and linebacker Johnathan Truman have shown glimpses of greatness and they will be relied on heavily to get the younger Cats on board.

bill snyderAs long as Coach Snyder the magician is at the helm there is always hope in the Little Apple. Snyder has built his legacy on doing more with less and although the losses of seniors Ty Zimmerman, Tremaine Thompson, Josh Hubert, and others are considerable why should 2014 be any different. The Wildcats may start the 2014 season unranked will they end it that way? Does Snyder and his cats have what it takes to prove us wrong again? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Road2Arlington: In MG2k Wisconsin Badgers Trust

Melvin Gordon Wisconsin BadgersThere are fourth constants that neither waver but simply stand the test of time – (1) Life (2) Death; (3) Taxes; and (4) Wisconsin Badgers dominant running game. The Badgers running game has been a staple that has survived three coaching changes, a few wars, 20 million births, and a handful of U.S. Presidents.

And as expected in 2014 the Badgers mammoth offensive line will pave the way for another premiere rusher in Melvin Gordon who is blessed with a rare combination of size and speed. Last season Gordon rushed for 1,609 and 12 touchdowns but his production could double since his partner in crime from last year James White is getting paid to play in the NFL.

Since Jared Abberderis has finally exhausted eligibility the Badgers will be relied on like never before. Although starter quarterback Joel Stave has shown glimpses of promisebadgers big uglies his inconsistency and questionable decision-making may pave the way for the more mobile Tanner McEvoy who may be a better fit for Coach Gary Andersen‘s offense.

No matter whose under center the Badgers receiving corp is the great unknown. Their big and nasty offensive line will be relied to not only opening up holes for Gordon and friends but to their inexperienced receivers a few more seconds to get open.

On the defense the Badgers return both talent and experience but replacing All-American linebacker Chris Borland will not be easy. In an effort to get more big plays on defense the Badgers sacrificed size for speed. Although only three starters return from a defense that allowed the fifth fewest offensive touchdowns due to depth and wisconsin dexperienced gained from last season little drop off is expected in 2014.

The experience of the Badgers secondary will compensate and occasionally save the day as the talented but experienced front seven gets up to speed. Despite the loses to graduation anything less than eight wins would be considered a disappointment.

Do the Badgers have holes? A blind man could see their holes. Can the Badgers win the Big Ten Conference? DOUBT THEM IF YOU DARE, their schedule says HECK YEAH! Can the Badgers make it to Arlington? WHY NOT THEM!  Year in and year out the Badgers are overlooked, ignored, dismissed as a title contender. And every year the Badgers transform walk-ons and under-the-radar recruits like Abberderis and Borland, JJ Watts, Joe Thomas, Jamar Fletcher, Montee Ball and so many others into not just All-Big Ten performers but into All-American playmakers and game changers. The Badgers have proved us wrong before, led by a dominant running game and Heisman contender Melvin Gordon why should 2014 be any different? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast