Noting the End of Summer

To the chagrin of some and the elation of others, August will soon beget September. College pigskin devotees in all time zones are frantically dusting their Lazy-Boys, chilling kegs and buying all the cholesterol-laden brats they could possibly ingest in a half daze, er, day's stint in front of their jumbo-sized, plasma-screen, state-of-the- art footballometers.

Noting the End of Summer
  MAD ENOUGH TO KICK SOMEONE. Cal punterIt's hard to imagine a Southern Cal fan, coach or player could be disappointed with last season's co-mythical national championship. If there is such a person it might be USC punter Tom Malone. He averaged a thunderous 49 yards per kick last season. But alas, because the Trojans' offense was so prolific and their defense so expert at giving the team's offense marvelous field position, Malone didn't even qualify to gain entry among division 1-A's statistical leaders because he didn't register enough punts.
 
    JUST A PASSING FANCY? Bow's QBHardly. Hawaii's Tommy Chang is a fancy passer on the verge of setting a fistful of career, NCAA division 1-A records for the QB position. The leader of the Chang Gang needs a mere 2,218 yards passing to better the career mark set in 1990 by BYU's Ty Detmer. Chang has thrown for 12,814 yards entering this season and has his sights set on Detmer's mark of 15,031.
 
 Two other Detmermilestones within Chang's reach are the career records for pass attempts and pass completions. Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury holds both standards with 1,231 completions in 1,883 attemptsTT QB (65.37%). Chang has 1,030 completions in 1,834 attempts (56.21%).
 
 It appears to be a foregone conclusion that Chang will also break at least one other record, that being, Mark Hermann's (Purdue) infamous mark of 73 career interceptions. Chang has been picked off 67 times entering the current season.
 
     FANCY MEETING YOU HERE. You'd be surprised at which division 1-A school led the land in attendance (based on percentage of stadium capacity) last year. While Tennessee and Michigan play in front of huge throngs on a weekly basis it was the folks in and around Eugene, Oregon that propelled the Ducks to a healthy 106.85% of capacity audiences in the 2003 season.  In fact ,fourteen division 1-A schools averaged attendances of over 100% of the listed capacity of their stadium.
 
 There are plenty of tickets available if you want to see Rice, Central Florida or Alabama-Birmingham play a game. Those schools finished 115th, 116th and 117th in attendance last year with each drawing less than thirty percent of capacity.
 
     GROUND ASSAULT. K-State RBKansas State's Darren Sproles is division 1-A's leading returning rusher from last season. In fifteen games during the 2003 season he powered his way to 1,986 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was a major component in the Wildcats' dismantling of Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game and gave every indication that he will be a serious contender for the Heismann Trophy this fall.
 
 Two of the most accomplished runners entering the 2004 season ply their trade in the relative obscurity of the Mountain West Conference. New Mexico's DonTrell Moore (yes, the T is capitalized) darted and dodged defenders for 1,450 yards, DonTrell the RBbut wasn't quite able to lead the Lobos to a league title. San Diego State's Lynell Hamilton, the conference's freshman of the year in 2003 despite breaking his leg against UNLV SDSU RB Lynellbefore the end of the schedule, eluded scores of tacklers on his way to gaining 1,087 yards.
 
 KSU's Sproles, a senior this year, has scored 36 TDs in his career. Moore has scored the same number, but will be just a junior this season.
 
    BOMBS AWAY! All those passes being launched by rocket-armed QBs from coast to coast are more frequently finding their way into the bushel-basket sized hands of receivers.  Two of the busiest targets last season will be making encores this fall.
 
 Cal's prolific Cal WideoutWR Geoff McArthur was second only to Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald in reception yardage per game a year ago.  McArthur pulled in 85 passes and averaged a shade less than 116 yards per game. He should be equally busy during the Golden Bears' schedule this year as QB Aaron Rodgers will use McArthur as a primary target against every opponent Cal faces.
 
 If Tommy Chang does set  several quarterbacking records for Hawaii this year he'll do it with an able assist from teammate Chad Owens. As did McArthur, Owens grabbed 85 passes last year. He hauled them in for 103 yards a game and 9 TDs.
 
     HOT. Whether the subject is water or a seat, there are some coaches who in it or on one. Joe Paterno JoePahas been coaching at Penn State since the Johnson administration--that's Andrew not Lyndon. Three losing seasons in the past four years and no bowl victories since 1999 have the partisans in Happy Valley something less than pleased. ND Head coach
 
 South Bend, Indiana may be a small mid-western burgh in terms of population, but that's hardly the case when the subject is the local college football team's notoriety. Ty Willingham and his Notre Dame Fighting Irish team stumbled to a 5-7 record last year. That kind of ineptitude won't buy Ty much sympathy this year if the Irish falter early in the schedule. September will find N.D. on the road to face BYU and Michigan State while hosting Michigan and Washington. It might be good-bye Ty before October arrives.
 
 Speaking of Notre Dame's meeting with BYU, the Cougars' BYU Head coachGary Crowton hasn't endeared himself to the fans in Utah since Lavell Edwards left the sidelines. The teams meet this weekend in Provo and the losing coach may be well advised to pack a bag quickly and get out of town before angry fans catch up to him.
 
     STREAKING. Bobby Ross, last seen engineering success for the Rambling Wreck at Georgia Tech before putting a charge into San Diego in the NFL, has inherited the mess that is Army football. The Black Knights of the Hudson became the first team in division 1-A history to compile a 0-13 record in a season.  In fact, the Cadets at West Point have lost fifteen straight games dating back to November 16, 2002 when Army beat Tulane by a, 14-10, score. Ross and his players open with Louisville (9-4 in 2003) before hitting the road to face Houston (7-6 last year) and Connecticut (9-3 last fall). Let's see if there's a win in that bunch before raising the subject of the October portion of the schedule.
 
 Coasting merrily along at the other end of the success curve in division 1-A are Miami Ohio Miami of Ohio and Boise State. The Redhawks find themselves in the unenviable position of having to replace Ben Roethlisberger while keeping their 13 game skein intact. They successfully opened the 2004 schedule by defeating Indiana State, 49-0, to run their streak to a nation's best 14 straight. The task gets significantly harder in the next game when Miami travels to the Big House to face the Michigan Wolverines.
 
 The Broncos will need to replace record setting QB Ryan Dinwiddie before tackling this year's slate of games. First up are home games with Idaho and Oregon State before a road test against UTEP as Boise State tries to extend its current eleven game ride.
 
 Co-defending national champ USC posted its tenth straight win over the weekend by downing Virginia Tech.
 
 
 
     SNOOZE ALARM. The Labor Day Weekend Gerry DiNardobrings with it the opening of the college football season as well as the nominal close of summer. Social calendars are teeming with get-togethers of a professional, neighborly and familial nature. It's just go-go-go from Friday afternoon to Monday night before heading back to the mill on Tuesday morning.
 
 Your store of energy will be taxed, sapped and depleted before you realize it. If you hope to make it through the grueling three day marathon, intact, you're going to need the restorative benefit of a power nap at some juncture and help is at hand!
 
 That yawn-fest you detect on your REMometer isn't the result of the entire Eastern time zone catching a cat nap. No, it's just the collective ennui surrounding the completely unanticipated meeting between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Central Michigan Chippewas. Yes, the good folks of Bloomington find themselves stuck with, er, are playing host to, a hometown team coming off a 2-10 season last fall and a visiting MAC squad which limped to a 3-9 mark a year ago.
 
 Central Michigan used a vaunted run defense last year to limit the Naval Midshipmen to a mere 530 yards on the ground although Navy held the ball for a scant 23 minutes. Not to be outdone by this colossal largesse on defense, the Minnesota Gophers' rushing attack spun through the revolving door which was Indiana's defense in 2003, for a healthy 435 yards and 55 points last November in squeaking past Indiana by 48 points.
 
 It shouldn't take more than several minutes of opening quarter viewing of this exercise in ineptitude before you find yourself sawing wood, fully recuperated and ready to face all the comings and goings on the remainder of your holiday docket

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