Allow me to introduce you to the "next Wes Welker"

When I think of Wes Welker, I think: undersized, hard worker, unique, catches everything, scrappy, takes kicks to the house, etc...

Well, earlier today I watched a video that Doug posted of North Carolina receiver / kick returner Ryan Switzer in which Switzer reviews the film of each of his 5 punt returns for touchdowns last season...and as I was watching it, all I could think of was this is the next Wes Welker. 

A couple of notes from his bio on UNC's website:

  • Nickname is "Switz"
  • Favorite TV show is "Hannah Montana"
  • Wears No. 3 because it symbolizes the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Favorite off-day activity is watching Christmas movies
  • Would like to appear on an episode of "Jersey Shore"

Now, a look at his high school career:

  • First-team Parade All-America selection
  • Two-time winner of the Kennedy Award, given to the West Virginia state player of the year
  • Only the sixth two-time winner in the award's 66 years
  • Twice named the West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year
  • Scored 103 touchdowns in his prep career and finished in the top five in West Virginia history in touchdowns and points
  • 2012 Under Armour National Combine champion

North Carolina lists Switz at 5'10" 180.

I haven't spoken with anyone at North Carolina about him; but after watching this video, you simply have to like this young man. The entire video session is good; but I particularly enjoyed the 6:25 mark where he discusses an interaction with Larry Fedora at halftime of the Pitt game shortly after he had just taken a punt back for six to close the first half and put UNC up 24-7. Listen to what he says and remember that Pitt comes back in the 2nd half to tie it at 24-24...before Switz takes another punt to the the house at the ned of the game to win it for North Carolina. 

I'm rooting for this guy this season. 

The story of USC defensive back Josh Shaw has taken a wild turn

Less than 24 hours ago, USC announced that defensive back and team captain Josh Shaw had injured himself while jumping off of a second-story balcony to save his nephew from drowning.

Here is USC's version of events:

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 1.12.14 PM

Shaw was called a hero, not only by the media or Trojans fans, but by his own head coach. "That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside. But that's the kind of person he is," Steve Sarkisian said in a press release. "It is unfortunate that he'll be sidelined for a while and we will miss his leadership and play, but I know he'll be working hard to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Hold your horses there, USC.

"Within the last few hours or so we've gotten a few phone calls contradicting what Josh said occurred Saturday night, so we're going to continue to vet it. And we're looking at it," Sarkisian said. "But beyond that, I only know what I know, and Josh is adamant that that occurred, and we'll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk and across our phones and see where we can go from there."

Sarkisian was then asked who called USC denying Shaw's version of events, and he declined to answer and asked the media to give USC time to vet the story "so we can give you a really solid answer instead of hearsay or more of what might have occurred or what might didn't occur."

When you trot out a player's so-called heroic actions as "the kind of person he is" - and then the story turns out to be embellished, misrepresented or flat out false - you then beg the question of "Well, what type of person is he really?" Credit to USC for being out in front of this story but, then again, if they hadn't rushed to call Shaw a hero in the first place, they wouldn't be dealing with this p.r. crisis, and the tweets you see below, in the first place.

Film Study: Watch how UNC tied the NCAA record for punt return touchdown last year

North Carolina freshman return phenom Ryan Switzer tied an NCAA record by taking five punt returns to the house last year. Truth be told, he would have broken the record if not for a sixth one being called back for a block in the back call, and the five he did score on already set a North Carolina CAREER punt return record.

All five of his record setting touchdowns came in the second half of UNC's season, one against Virginia, two against Pitt, one against Old Dominion, and one against Cincinnati. Assuming Switzer stays healthy and returns the next three seasons, he should be able to smash the FBS career record of eight, held by some guy named Wes Welker out of Texas Tech.

Here in this video, GoHeelsTV sits down with Ryan Switzer to break down the kicks he took for six (and a few he almost broke), and you get a solid peek at the scheme and perhaps more importantly, the athleticism that the Heels had on the field for special teams.

Saturday night's date with Florida State is everything Mike Gundy never wanted in a non-conference game

Welcome to Mike Gundy's nightmare scenario.

Four nights from tonight, Oklahoma State opens its season against the top-ranked defending national champions, quarterbacked by the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, in a nationally televised primetime telecast with the College GameDay crew on site to hype the event. Last year's team, a club that came within one defensive stop of winning the Big 12, may have been more equipped for this challenge. But the 2014 Cowboys? This is a group breaking in 12 new starters, including at quarterback. Gundy said Monday that as many as 20 Cowboys will get their first taste of college football against a team that's as good as any he's played in his now decade-long tenure.

Where is Savannah State when you need them?

For the record, this is the exact opposite of Gundy's stated philosophy on building a non-conference schedule. According to Gundy, the best way to win a national championship is to turn September into something of an extended training camp. To be fair, there are softer non-conference schedules than the traditional Oklahoma State slate, but there aren't many. Florida State is just the third ranked opponent the Cowboys have faced in Gundy's now 10 seasons at Stillwater; there was the 35-14 loss to No. 13 Georgia to open the 2007 season, and then the corresponding 24-10 win over No. 13 Georgia to open 2009.

"But ultimately, at the end of the day, when I go recruit, and I go into meetings with these guys (fellow coaches) every day, and tell 'em this is what I believe in and this is what I want them to believe in, if it's not that way, then I can't do it," Gundy said previously. "I've got to go do something else."

It was that reported butting of heads with athletics director Mike Holder that led Gundy's name to be connected to openings at Arkansas and Tennessee.

To his credit, Gundy has said the right things leading into Saturday night's game. They're embracing the game, and they're excited for the opportunity, Gundy says. But he hasn't abandoned his philosophy. 

But there is another way to frame this argument.

Continuing with the golf analogy, Oklahoma State's game with Florida State essentially amounts to nothing more than a free swing. The Cowboys are 17-point underdogs. Things could go incredibly south for the Pokes, but, ultimately, it won't matter because a 42-13 Oklahoma State loss will tell us exactly the same as an another 84-0 trouncing of Savannah State - absolutely nothing. And what if Oklahoma State - gasp - wins? 

It would be the first win over a No. 1 ranked team in Oklahoma State history. It would be just the third win in program history over a reigning national champion. And it would be an extremely beneficial exposure point for Gundy's program, not only on national television, but in a stadium where this season's national champion will be crowned, which happens to be in the exact center of one of the Cowboys' most important recruiting areas. 

And suddenly a team picked in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, and not their No. 1 ranked opponent, is in the driver's seat to return to Dallas five months from now. 

Officials will be taking a more active role in controlling pace-of-play this season. Good news or bad news?

According to the Associated Press, the NCAA and its referees have gotten together during the off season and decided that they will be taking a more active role in controlling the pace of the game.

"From the officiating standpoint, we kind of got caught up in this thing and allowed ourselves to sort of get overwhelmed by it. Too much rushing around, hurrying and trying to be speedy about getting the ball in play and it sort of put the defense at a disadvantage." NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding noted.

Most of you will remember the NCAA rule change back in 2008 where the play clock went from 25 seconds (stopping at the end of the play and starting on the officials hand signal), up to 40 seconds (where the new play clock starts as soon as the last play ended). Once offensive guys realized they could push the tempo more in the new 40-second clock system, they took full advantage, and officials note in the AP article that they've been trying to adjust to the pace ever since.

Instead of a set of ground rules, officials have come up with some general guidelines aimed at pleasing both sides of the ball, called "pace-of-play procedures". No longer will you see officials sprinting to get in position, instead, the ball will not be made ready for play until all officials have jogged / hustled to their proper positions.

It may seem like a small change, but this adjustment certainly favors defensive coordinators as it is bound to slow the pace down, even if it's just a touch, offenses are no longer snapping it on their terms. Good offensive coaches will adjust and have their guys set in formation and ready to roll as soon as soon as the play is whistled live in order to negate any advantage for the defense.

As a no huddle coach, I can't help but think that this a small win for those FBS coaches in favor of the 10-second rule. Am I wrong?

Read the full AP piece, with input from officials, here.

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