Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple
Entering his fourth season as a starter for the Owls, T-Mat is a throwback whose instincts and intangibles outweigh his measurables – which are considerable anyway when you realize he has 355 career tackles and could become just the seventh player in NCAA history to rack up 100 or more for four seasons if he passes the century mark this fall. Still, the 6-1, 235-pounder is largely unheralded in national circles despite being coach Matt Rhule’s linchpin in Temple becoming a truly legit program in the American Athletic Conference and beyond.
Yep, as entertaining as it can be each offseason gauging the difference between Michigan Wolverines fans’ social media-fueled ignorance against the intelligence of the football players they support, it never hurts to have the first few hints that the actual season is upon us.
Thank you, USA Today, for releasing your 2015 preseason poll Thursday.
Thank you, teams across the land, for alerting us that training camps commence in short order.
Thank you, Ohio State, for throwing a wrench into any scarlet- and gray-stained perfectionist’s dream.
Wait … what?
Yes, with the help of some, uh, recreational drug issues and equally laissez faire academic activities, the Buckeyes will be without All-American defensive end Joey Bosa, wide receiver Corey Smith and H-backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson when they try to avenge their lone defeat of 2014 in a season-opening affair at Virginia Tech. All were suspended for that Sept. 7 contest due to their indiscretions.
Will the defending national champion Buckeyes still win that game? Perhaps. But this news doesn’t exactly bode well for a team whose former Heisman candidate quarterback now plays wideout while questions still remain as to who replace him as THE MAN running the offense. Granted, J.T. Barrett was brilliant in that role last regular season and Cardale Jones was equally brilliant in that role last postseason.
Only nothing is settled.
Which is kinda the same place Ohio State found itself when the Hokies visited them last season and registered a 35-21 victory.
The Big Ten not being your father’s Big Ten, and certainly not your grandfather’s Big Ten, the Bucks should be OK once they get things in order. But a hiccup against, say, Penn State wouldn’t be out of the question … and one at Michigan may seem outrageous, but, frankly, it is possible.
Right now a loss at Tech even may be likely.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com