Programs dealing with some injury/off-field issues
Mid-August is here, and that means that we're that much closer to the beginning of the 2007 college football season. One team that may not have the best outlook on the upcoming year is Pittsburgh. In the first two years of the Dave Wannstedt era, the Panthers have failed to qualify for a bowl game, going 5-6 and 6-6 respectively. This despite Wannstedt bringing in some highly-regarded recruiting classes, and the new certainly hasn't gotten any better the past week or so. First, it was highly touted freshman QB Pat Bostick heading home to deal with personal issues, which were later reported as having something to do with anxiety. Of course, when he returns, leading receiver Derrick Kinder goes down with a torn ACL. Pitt lost quite a bit due to graduation, and whether it was junior Bill Stull or Bostick calling the shots on offense, there were concerns as to who would make plays on offense. College Football News had the Panthers tabbed for fourth in the Big East, but I'm thinking this was all done before the recent issues. Even so, the voters at Big East Media Day had them sixth, which seems much more realistic to me.
Staying in the Big East, UConn head coach Randy Edsall has decided to go with junior college transfer Tyler Lorenzen at quarterback, ahead of Dennis Brown and Cody Endres. Hopefully there won't be the "musical chairs" situation that went on last season for the Huskies, but we'll see how it all turns out in the season opener at Duke. As for once-starter D.J. Hernandez, look for him to be a contributor at wide receiver. Hernandez is an exceptional athlete, and the Huskies are in need of playmakers on the outside. In a bit of bad news, linebacker Jarrell Miller will have to sit out this season as a transfer, but will have four years of eligibility beginning in 2008. Miller, who originally committed to North Carolina, took a summer school course at UNC before changing his mind and going to Fork Union Military Academy last year. Adding Miller to the ranks would have given some more depth to a defensive unit that struggled mightily at times last year.
There's no quarterback controversy at Clemson...yet. Cullen Harper is firmly in control of the race there, but of course you have your legions of fans clamoring for freshman Willy Korn. Sorry, but with the opener being a divisional game against Florida State, unless Harper is injured I see no way in which Korn takes the first snap. Could he see action? Maybe, but there's a better chance of that happening in the Tigers' next two games: Louisiana-Monroe and Furman.
Speaking of quarterback issues, can anyone explain what's happening at Ole Miss these days? Brent Schaeffer, the incumbent, struggled so much last year that the competition was opened up in spring and fall camp, with Seth Adams looking to be the guy at this point. Then the funny stuff began. Schaeffer switched to receiver for a couple of days, then returned to QB. He's a very good athlete, so of course the Rebels want to find some way to get him onto the field. It just doesn't look like they want him throwing the ball much anymore. This is why you don't promise a guy the starting nod in order to get him to sign (in the Rebels' defense, they really needed a QB at the time, and I don't think they expected him to not be ready to enroll until the beginning of August). It was looking like a tough year for Ole Miss in 2007, but now they may be hoping that Mississippi State doesn't pass them this year.
Lastly, Oregon State, a darkhorse to compete for the Pac-10 crown this year, took a heavy hit when star wideout Sammy Stroughter left the team to deal with personal issues. None of the coaches know when, or if, to expect the All-Pac 10 performer back this season. Hopefully he finds a solution to his issues at some point, and not worry about football at this time.