University of Alabama will be hosting T-Town-Throwdown this upcoming weekend in Tuscaloosa, AL. 2010 Nationals Qualifiers Florida, Georgia, and Middlebury will be attending. With Georgia Tech playing at ACCUC this weekend, it’s shaping up to be a big weekend for the new South Eastern Region.
University of Florida (1):
I saw Florida beat Texas and UVA at Classic City Classic at the last big fall tournament on the east coast. I thought that the Gators would take a pretty significant step back losing Brodie Smith and the other seniors. While they faced close games in pool play at CCC, they were able to build and keep leads in both the semi-finals and finals. They haven’t lost a step with Cole Sullivan and Nathan Sage being the clear leaders. Sage provides great defensive leadership, often being the anchor on the poaches that Florida is known for. Sullivan leads the offense by throwing and bringing down the hucks. What I found so impressive about him was that despite his size and height, he might have been the quickest man on the field. Florida still runs it’s dump and huck schemes, but when you can’t guard Sullivan on a dump it’s going to work most of the time. Alton Gains has developed into a solid option down the field as well as being a consumate veteran. Oh, and the other players on Florida? Fast. I don’t think anyone is going to put up a real fight against Florida, but with it being the early spring you never know.
University of Georgia (3):
Georgia did not have a great showing at CCC, losing to JMU in the 7th place after going 4-0 in pool play. I saw the second half of the UVA- Georgia game in quarters, and was unimpressed by Jojah. There was a lack of fundamentals on display, and I believe they were missing a few veterans. I think that I came across UGA on the wrong day and expect them to be better going into T-Town.
Can you say hottest jersey of 2010 Nationals? The Pranksters have been a solid team from the North East for several years now, often wearing mismatched clothing to tournaments. Rumor has it that they lost a few seniors, as well as their big player from the year before. I’ll be very interested to see if Middlebury will be threatening Harvard for a bid to 2011 nationals.
Ohio State (4):
Leadbelly hasn’t been to nationals in the last two years, but was in the thick of things every year in the past Great Lakes region. They will face a pretty big roadblock with Pitt in their region, assuming they can win the region this time. I know my Buffalo boys did okay against their X team at Fall Brawl, but I’m sure they weren’t close to full strength. I’m not sure what to expect from this Ohio State team, and it will be certainly interesting to find out.
After winning the UOA SEC tournament, Tennessee finished in the lower half at UOA nationals. They should dominate the second tiered teams in this tournament, and give Ohio State a run for their money. Expect a quarter finals berth, but semis are in doubt.
Florida State (6):
FSU used their depth extremely well at Joint Summit Classic, often stifling the other team’s offense. What I hope to see is an improvement in offensive efficiency. Chris Norris (8), Elijah Grady, and Nick Fletcher (4) lead the charge on offense, but still need some secondary help to make the big leap. Fletcher consistently makes good throws, but I would to see him step up his game. Randy Barcelo (19) will lead the intensity on defense and doesn’t hesitate to go horizontal. Defensively, Florida State was impressive with their ability to manufacture turnovers. Many other teams at Joint Summit relied on offensive mistakes to get breaks. Peter Van De Burgt is going to have them pumped up, and playing with high intensity. I don’t know if I have learned my lesson with not picking FSU to win, but Georgia will certainly have their hands full. If the offense can stay consistent, we’ll be looking at a possible upset. However, DUF is going to run into teams with the athletic depth they have. I definitely see them in the quarters, maybe in the semis depending on match-ups.
Alabama is led on offense mainly by two players, Zack Moore (44) and Tim Brady (8). Moore sprained his ankle last weekend at Joint Summit Classic, so hopefully he’s good to go. In addition, the Tide were missing 10 players, so expect a full squad at Tuscaloosa. Alabama has an array of cutters and defenders that complement Brady’s play making abilities. Travis Midkiff (24) and Logan Thomas (13) are some of the consistent cutters who help make the offense churn. I think Alabama is going to play that final game close, but I don’t know if they’ll be able to overcome Middlebury’s experience. Playing at home, you have to like their chances to make quarters. However, I’ve seen Bama play close games against lower opponents, it wouldn’t be a shock to me to see them get upset.
The Rest of the Best: Williams attended nationals several years ago, and should still have a relatively experienced squad. Kansas State and them will battle it out for the two seed. Auburn is going to have a tough time in that pool, hopefully they can pull out some close wins. Emory showed solid offensive ability, but their defense is their limiting factor. Ohio had made some lower level noise the last few years, only losing by 1 to a Buffalo team at Fall Brawl 2009. Look for them to challenge to take the 3 or maybe even 2 in that pool.
Overall Thoughts: Will the national contenders show off their experience and take their pools? Or will Alabama and FSU show that they are on the rise. If Georgia plays like they did at CCC’s I like DUF’s chances to make it close. With Middlebury and Ohio State probably not having practiced at all, I don’t think they’ll be able to go too deep in the championship round. I think you’ll see Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee make the semis with a lower level team having a good run. You could very well see a Florida-Jojah showdown in the finals. I’m going to set the line at Florida -5.
I’ll be at ACCUC this weekend so look for updates from that. As always, please post any thoughts or any players to watch for this tournament.