DAPPER DAN PICKS
WEEK 0/1 RESULTS: 5-4 (+0.75 UNITS)
SEASON YTD: 5-4 (+0.75 UNITS)
More to come tomorrow morning....
Air Force -6 (-102) Risking 1.02 units to win 1 units
Even though these academy matchups are usually close games there’s reason to believe Air Force will run away with this one like they did last season when they beat down Navy 40-7. Air Force has a record number of turnbacks (their version of red-shirts), 35 this season due to the weird COVID scheduling last year and many players sitting out who saw lots of action in 2019. Starting QB, Haziq Daniels returns who averaged almost 10 yards per carry against Navy last year. Navy looked in-capable of stopping their rushing attack allowing 7 yards per carry, whereas on offense they could barely muster 2.5 yards per carry themselves against Air Force, a good indicator that Air Force was dominating in the trenches. Air Force did lose a lot of their starters from last season, including all five starting lineman on offense but they looked good against Lafayette averaging 5.5 yards per carry rushing for 370 yards. Navy on the other side loses their starting QB from last season, and this years frontrunner who started last week, Tai Lavatai, got injured in the 4th qtr last game so expect to see a heavy dose of Xavier Arline who struggled the few times he did see action as he only carried for 3.5 yards per carry last season and doesn’t take care of the ball well which could be disastrous in this Navy option offense, expect to see a few turnovers from him. Navy’s program doesn’t look to be in good shape after last year's 3-5 record against a weak schedule and getting blown out 49-7 in week 1 by Marshall. Air Force wins this game soundly. This is also one of the largest PFF mismatches on paper if you look at the game 1 grades for each team compared to their offensive/defensive counterparts.
Michigan -6.5 (-115) Risking 1.15 units to win 1 units
I was a little worried about what to expect out of Michigan last week after losing good ole defensive mastermind Don Brown (Arizona now - bet!) this year but they looked strong in their first outing against a very tough Western Michigan offense. They allowed an opening drive TD and a TD at the end of the game when it was 47-7 but besides that stifled the Broncos offense who only averaged 5.2 yards per pass and 3.9 yards per rush. Offensive Coordinator, Josh Gattis, finally looks to have found a good starting QB in Cade McNamara as the offense averaged 12.7 yards per pass attempt and 7.8 yards per rush. I have Josh Gattis as a highly rated offensive coordinator as not only did he help lead Alabama in 2018 to a national title he also helped turn around the Penn State offense who ranked 120th in yards per play in his first year in 2014 (as a WR coach) but in 2016 he took over play calling duties and they ranked 17th in his first year and 16th in yards per play in his 2nd year before going to Alabama. Washington’s football program may see a big drop off this year as they lost program changing head coach, Chris Peterson in 2019 to retirement. Jimmy Lake was promoted from DC to head coach from within but has virtually no head coaching (or important assistant roles) outside of his long term at Washington. OC, John Donovan was interestingly enough the OC at Penn State in ‘14-’15 (when Gattis was the WR coach) and got fired in 2015 as Penn State had a horrible offense in 2014 and 2015 as they were ranked 120th and 83rd in ypp in his two years when he called the plays. Both coaches will be familiar with each other’s offenses but Michigan has a much higher level of talent and athletes so I think they win by atleast two TDs.
Pittsburgh -3 (-110) Risking 1.1 units to win 1 units
Looking forward to what Pat Narduzzi has in store with this Pitt team for his 6th season. If you’re unfamiliar with Narduzzi, he was the defensive mastermind behind the tough Michigan State teams for almost a decade before he moved to head coaching at Pitt. I love finding these defensive minded coaching gems that churn out powerhouse defenses every year by coaching and strategy. His offenses have struggled but this year many return including starting QB, Kenny Pickett who should be comfortable in leading this offense to a winning season in his 5th year and 3rd year with new OC Mark Whipple. Although I like the hire of Heupel at OC Im not assured he has the right tools in place with his two QB transfer, Joe Milton III and Hendon Hooker as neither are accurate passers and Milton can’t even run so expect them to struggle this week against a tough Pitt defense that likes to bring pressure blitzing 37% of the time last season, ranking 37th in the nation and that pressure resulted in sacks as their sack % was ranked 6th overall in the nation at 11%. Pitt’s two corners can hold their own as Marquis Williams produced the 4th best incompletion rate among power 5 cornerbacks at 24% last season and they have Damarri Mathis returning who sat out all season due to injury - in 2019 he had the 3rd lowest carch rate allowed amongst power 5 cornerbacks. I expect this to be a big surprise as Pitt wins easily against this typically over-rated SEC team.
NC State -1.5 (-102) Risking 1.02 units to win 1 units
After the departure of Eliah Drinkwitz as OC in 2018, NC State had one of the worst offenses in the country in 2019 as they brought in two new co-OCs. Last year they brought in Tim Beck and all things considered, he did a great job implementing his offense during covid year despite injuries to starting QB and other key components to his offense. They improved their offensive points per game by 8 points and in terms of Expected Points added Margin last season, they were the 9th most improved team in the nation and 1st in the ACC. They have 8 starters returning including starting QB, Devin Leary who looks much more poised and better deep ball than the alternatives. He led the team to a 3-1 start and got injured in the 4th game last year which is when Bailey Hockman took over. Dave Doereen knows how to coach defense and they were an above average defense last season ranking 40th in efficiency, 47th in explosiveness, and 56th in finishing drives. Their defense struggled in a few games last season when their newly appointed defensive captain, Payton Wilson was out (including the bowl game). He became a major part of their defense last year and accounted for 108 total tackles. Almost everybody on the defensive side of the ball returns with a few starters from last season expected to be backups to new fresh talents and transfers that are coming in. Miss State should have lost last week to LA tech but squeaked out a victory. They are largely the same as last season with 16 returning starters, 8 on both sides of the ball but that's not a good thing when you have the numbers they had from last season (and a 4-7 record). Their offense ranked 107th in field position, 74th in efficiency, 104th in explosiveness, 114th at finishing drives. Don’t expect it to improve much under returning sophomore Will Rogers who only averaged 5.7 yards per attempt with 11 TDs and 7 INTs. Their offense relies on them being able to run the ball when the defense drops 8 but they could do that at all last season ranking 126th in yards per carry at 2.4! Their entire offense struggled at protecting the ball as they ranked 120th in snaps per turnover and ranked 101s in adjusted turnover margin. I think NC State squeaks out a win here.
Timothy Wynn awarded 100 tokens for this post.