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Army Black Knights quarterback Christian Anderson (4) runs for a first down. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire)
December 9th, 2021
The college football regular season has come to an end with the exception of this weekend’s Army vs. Navy game. And while the action on the field takes a temporary pause until bowls begin, there is still plenty to cover around the country in this edition of our NCAAF Notebook.
Throughout the entire 2021 season, Alabama looked more vulnerable than they have in many years. The offense struggled at times, and the defense had playmakers but didn’t show the consistency we’ve all come to know.
In the vacuum of dominance, Georgia emerged. Their defense was without a doubt the best in the country, and they were installed as notable favorites to win the national championship. They were 6.5-point favorites in the SEC Championship game against Alabama and proceeded to get whipped.
Dynasty (n.): @AlabamaFTBL under Nick Saban🏆 Eight SEC Championships🏆 Six National Championships “This is why you come to Alabama.”SEC Inside: SEC Championship | Today at 2:30 PM ET pic.twitter.com/JJ48hMwfTm— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 8, 2021
Dynasty (n.): @AlabamaFTBL under Nick Saban🏆 Eight SEC Championships🏆 Six National Championships “This is why you come to Alabama.”SEC Inside: SEC Championship | Today at 2:30 PM ET pic.twitter.com/JJ48hMwfTm
In retrospect, Georgia never faced a top quarterback in 2021 until it met Bryce Young. The Bulldogs' defense is still incredible, and perhaps underrated as a result of that singular outcome, but it also illuminated for us all that this team is not invincible. Georgia can be beaten, and by a team they are almost certainly going to have to face again if they want to claim the crown that has eluded the program for so many years.
Around the country, head coaches, assistant coaches, and coordinators from various teams are being recruited into promotions to fill the dozens of job openings that occur at season’s end. Many of them are taking head coaching positions at high-profile destinations, and the excitement this brings invigorates fans with a sense of excitement for a new season that is still so far away.
Arguably the biggest move is Brent Venables finally departing Clemson to take over Oklahoma. Venables has been a defensive mastermind during his time at Clemson but many wondered if he even wanted to be a head coach after years of opportunities.
Brent Venables is on his way, Sooner Nation‼️ (via @OU_Football)pic.twitter.com/W9vdUwAjdz— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 6, 2021
Brent Venables is on his way, Sooner Nation‼️ (via @OU_Football)pic.twitter.com/W9vdUwAjdz
Former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal has migrated cross-country to take over Miami, while Marcus Freeman has been promoted at Notre Dame to the head position. Rhett Lashlee has taken over at SMU after Sonny Dykes moved across the state to TCU, and Billy Napier has taken over at Florida.
Perhaps one of the most interesting hires that has received less attention is Washington bringing in former Fresno State head coach, Kalen DeBoer. DeBoer helped lead an explosive Fresno State offense, and while Washington has had a solid defense for several years, a lack of offensive output has held them back from competing at the level many expected.
A new era is here.Welcome to Washington, @KalenDeBoer!Let’s get started. pic.twitter.com/1aJjIwjnnw— Washington Football (@UW_Football) December 2, 2021
A new era is here.Welcome to Washington, @KalenDeBoer!Let’s get started. pic.twitter.com/1aJjIwjnnw
There has been a lot of movement at smaller schools as well, and assistant coaches are on the move as the ripple effects of this turnover cascades through coaching staffs.
Like a forest fire that clears old brush, a significant amount of stagnant growth has been removed and we now eagerly await what sprouts and blooms in fall of 2022.
It isn’t official yet, but it would be a shocker if Bryce Young of Alabama isn’t our 2021 Heisman Trophy winner.
Young hasn’t always shown the best decision-making, and will need to work on delivering a quicker ball as he continues to develop. But he has elite skills, a strong arm, and a knack for the game that is presumably uncoachable.
Young finished the season second overall in touchdown passes (43), fourth in passing yards (4,332), and fifth in quarterback rating. He also led Alabama to the College Football Playoff thanks to a gutsy comeback performance against rival Auburn when the Tide needed it most.
Bowl season is the dessert following a regular season feast, but before we indulge in the most wonderful time of the year, one game earns our full attention this Saturday.
Army vs. Navy is a lot of things encapsulated into three hours of football. It is a spotlight on the brave men and women that defend this country. It is a throwback to the origins of the game. It is a wagering opportunity on a college football Saturday when no other game can steal your attention and/or bankroll.
Army is a 7.5-point favorite, and this has all the makings of a 20-10 game.
Whatever the result, however, it will come with grace and inspiration, and the entire experience is a great tribute to players that will quite literally give their all for the teammate next to them.
Thank you to every single member of each team and everyone that serves. Enjoy the game, and remember how lucky we are to witness it and any other.
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