In case you missed it, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network has recently come out with a College Football preseason Top 25 for 2012 . We've been through this before...preseason polls are evil and should be banished forever, and the ESPN only likes specific schools from Texas, Southern California, The State of Ohio, and any school located to south and east. I know that, you know that. But after I saw this recent roundtable discussion from ESPN, I just had to provide some sort of rebuttal to some of the nonsense spewed out on national television.
As you'd guess, Taylor Martinez is the first big thing to come up. Analyst Robert Smith makes a completely original comment that we've never heard before. "One of the ugliest things you'll see on any week is Taylor Martinez throwing the football." Have you looked in the mirror recently, Robert? Boom, roasted!
In all seriousness, the discussion basically becomes a Taylor Martinez roast for a while. His mechanics are horrible. He makes too many mistakes. His throwing motion is ugly. He's regressed from when he was a freshman. He's injury prone. He did work with a nationally respected quarterback coach on mechanics in the offseason, but he still shotputs the ball (present tense..because we had a spring game where we all saw that he didn't improve). Oh, and have you seen the way he throws a football? HAVE YOU???
My rebuttal regarding Martinez and more after the jump...
Herby starts the talk of Martinez out by saying that he "regressed in certain areas in the passing game." To me, that implies that Martinez was worse as a sophomore than he was as a freshman. The only statistic that's used to back up that claim is that his completion percentage went down to 56% (from 59% in 2010). However, that doesn't tell the whole story. In 2011, Martinez had 92 more passing attempts. He threw for 458 more yards, 3 extra TD's to only 1 more interception. The WR's dropsies were also well documented.
Martinez was asked to be more of a "game manager" in 2011 and to me it was pretty obvious that he got better at that over the course of the season. Just look at interceptions- after throwing 3 interceptions at Wisconson, he only threw 3 more over the last 8 games of the season. He also improved at protecting the football and making better decisions in the pocket.
Palmer mentions that Martinez is finally "healthy" and that the "last two years he's always getting dinged up." Always. Either I'm reading Brion Carnes' stat-line wrong, or Martinez never got "dinged up" last year. To me, this simply adds up to a laziness on Palmer's part. Martinez was a sophomore who was once again adapting to a new offensive system. Palmer mentions that this is the first time he's been in the same offensive system for more than one season in high school and college, but the discussion quickly moves on because that's not as fun to talk about as his throwing motion.
It wouldn't be an ESPN broadcast unless they reminded us about Bo Pelini's sideline demeanor. After implying that Pelini has a right to blow up on Taylor, they play the ONE AND ONLY clip they have of Pelini blowing up at Taylor from two years ago. This was probably the 5,000th time I've seen that courtesy of ESPN. Jesse Palmer chimes in "He (Pelini) might not blow up as often as he does this (coming) year." What is he talking about...as often as he does? "Often" should be "once" and does should be "did."
By now I think it's pretty obvious that ESPN wants Bo Pelini to blow up. They profit off it. They need Bo Pelini to blow up. Last year, Pelini's sideline behavior was much better. That's why they have to keep showing us that clip from the Texas A&M game. They have very little to work with from Pelini last year. But either they don't want you to know that, or are too lazy to care.
The rest of the analysis isn't too bad. They like Rex Burkhead, but who wouldn't? On the defensive side of the ball, they are completely right to say that the defense definitely needs to improve, especially in sacks and TFLs. I don't think the loss of the "Big 3" is as big of a deal as some are making it to be because it really should only be considered the "Big 2" with Crick being a non-factor last year considering the fact that Crick was injured and didn't even play after the halfway point in the season. Lavonte David will be hard to replace...no denying that.
Hey, it's the offseason, and all anyone can do is speculate. But I also expect better from "the worldwide leader in sports," and you should too. This analysis was just too much "glass half empty" for me, and I felt like they were far too harsh on Martinez. I disagree with the notion that Taylor Martinez is holding the team back. Of the 4 losses last season, I think that Wisconsin is the only one you can really put on Martinez, but even so the defense definitely didn't do much to help. Coming into his junior season and second year with Tim Beck's offense, I believe his ceiling is much higher than these ESPN analysts.