Five fits for the 'Honey Badger' this fall
August 10th, 2012 By Corey Chavous
Now that former LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu, pictured, has been dismissed from the Tigers' program, we take a look at five teams that could be possible fits at the FCS or Division II level.
North Dakota State
Is there a better CB returning in the country at the FCS level than North Dakota State's Marcus Williams? To Mathieu, he'd be North Dakota State's version of Tharold Simon or even Morris Claiborne. Williams had Mathieu-like impact a season ago, notching seven interceptions (274 yards, 3 TDs) and averaging 34.2 yds/KR with one TD. Mathieu has had a large majority of his success as a slot defender, so a stud cornerback opposite him is a priority (Williams does man the slot at times as well). The former Tigers' CB has slightly above average man coverage skills and he is really more of a jack of all trades-type.
Now he may not have the same type of return impact for the Bison, simply because they return junior WR/PR Ryan Smith (10.3 yds/PR, TD in '11). However, he could contend for taking some returns. The 2nd-ranked Bison would be also be a good selection because their offense loses its top receiver, so maybe Mathieu could earn some snaps on the offensive side of the ball. This was something that was unlikely to happen at LSU.
The defending national champions won't lack for national exposure and have a defense primed for repeat success. They held Sam Houston State to just six points in the FCS National Championship game. The Bison have brought in transfers for the secondary in CBs Andre Martin, Jr. (Northern Iowa) and Bryan Shepherd (Nebraska-Omaha). Shepherd contributed 34 tackles and 7 PBUs in 2011. Why not bring in yet another talented playmaker for its repeat national title run? Maybe Mathieu can finally win an all-elusive national championship at the FCS level.
Here, his marquee early season matchup would be versus the Colorado State Rams in Fort Collins, Colorado on September 8th.
Eastern Washington Eagles
The Eagles have perennially been one of the better teams at the FCS level, evidenced by their 2010 FCS national championship run led by former QB Bo Levi Mitchell. The advantage Mathieu would have by transferring here would be the fact that he could go against senior WRs Greg Herd and Nicolas Edwards day-to-day in practice.
Edwards caught 95 passes (13.1 YPR) with 19 receiving TDs and Herd snatched 67 passes (15.2 YPR) for seven TDs in 2011. Edwards is effective with double moves in the slot (where Mathieu predominately excels) and often makes the contested catches. Herd is a build-speed strider with down the field skills.
Defensively, the Eagles return all-conference CB T.J. Lee and budding All-Big Sky S Jeff Minnerly, but they are in a transition period in the secondary. Mathieu's high football IQ would open up a lot of options for new secondary coaches Cherokee Valeria and Jeff Schmedding. Tyrann is used to playing with talented back-end defenders and he would get that chance in Cheney, Washington. It's important to remember that the Eagles' defense, despite the fact they return 24 lettermen, finished 101st out of 120 teams in the FCS a season ago.
at Washington State-9/8/12
Old Dominion Monarchs
The Monarchs finished among the worst teams in the football championship subdivision when it came to pass defense a year ago (104th). Despite returning one of the top defensive backs in the Colonial Athletic Association in sophomore Eriq Lewis (5 INTs, 14 PDs), the team is experiencing a man coverage makeover in 2012. New defensive coordinator Bill Dee and DB coach Keita Malloy are transitioning from zone coverage to more of a steady diet of man coverage this season (CSN Log, April 13, 2012- http://www.championshipsubdivisionnews.com/log/index.php/2012/04/13/zoned-out-monarchs-to-give?blog=2)
After finishing 2011 with a 10-3 mark and ranked 10th in the nation, Old Dominion won’t be off anyone’s radar in 2012. They even placed one of last year’s defenders (former standout DT Ronnie Cameron) in an NFL camp (Chicago) this season. The team goes into the season ranked 8th nationally and they will get plenty of high quality tests from preseason Top 10 opponents nestled within their conference (Towson, James Madison, etc..). Mathieu would join one of the FCS’ most successful new programs and get a chance to compete in the FCS’ version of the SEC, the Colonial Athletic Association.
Georgia Southern Eagles
We continue our theme of highly ranked teams with Georgia Southern, ranked 3rd in the FCS national preseason rankings. The Eagles lose one of the FCS’ most successful return threats in former CB/KR Laron Scott (3 INTs, 18 PBUs). Mathieu lacks Scott’s game-breaking speed, but he has been effective at changing directions as a punt returner.
One of the advantages of going to the Eagles would be a defensive front led by All-American DT Brent Russell (6.5 sacks, 16.5 TFLs). Russell’s motor coincides with the Honey Badger’s intense on-field demeanor. How would Mathieu look in the navy blue and white? He'd have his opportunity to return to the SEC on November 17th vs. Georgia in a 'between the hedges' matchup.
Abilene Christian Wildcats
Opponents averaged nearly 300 yards/gm (296) passing versus Abilene in 2011. Two games point out to the defense’s inability to stop opponents at critical times. 12th ranked Midwestern State put up 70 points in a 42-point romp, and #15 Washburn outlasted the Wildcats 52-49.
Offensively, Abilene returns All-American signal-caller Mitchell Gale, who is on pace to set numerous school records. They also bring back his biggest threat in WR Taylor Gabriel. Defensively, Mathieu would team with seniors CB L.B.Suggs (49 tackles, 3 FFs) and DB Mike Wallace (34 tackles, 2 INTs, TD). His addition would boost a secondary that needs more ammunition to compliment its high-powered offense.
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Posted by John Neis on Aug 13th, 2012Marcus Williams is not the best senior CB as he is only a junior
Posted by lakesbison on Aug 16th, 2012hellz ya Draft Nasty M WILL and HONEY BADGER would make NDSU a top 20 team in the FBS!
NDSU is returning natty champs, sold out every ticket in 3 hours to thier stadium for entire year, NDSU is ballin big time right now and the HONEY BADGER would defintely get his SWAG on with M WILL.
thanks for the love CC !
Posted by Ming on Aug 16th, 2012Marcus Wiliams is a junior
Posted by LakesHater on Aug 16th, 2012LakesBison is a white boy... look at his Swag!!
Posted by cochav on Aug 20th, 2012Sorry about the mistake John Neis. Thanks a bunch for the shout!!
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