Not all Mondays are created equally. Let’s dive into the mailbag.
Jared Shanker: I won't cop out and settle for an answer in between those two. Given the options, I'd go with the team that limped to an 0-3 finish. The Cardinals are clearly a better team than what they showed in that ambush at Houston and stodgy performance against LSU, but they don't strike me as a team in 2017 that will push for the playoff. In January I labeled them a pretender because there are concerns about the pass protection and defense. Will a new O-line coach help? Will a new defensive coordinator (coaching several new starters) hurt? Lamar Jackson is Houdini holding a football, but he might not escape a second straight season without injury if he's sacked 47 times again.
JS: You'd have to imagine a coach must have a good reason to make his quarterbacks susceptible to injury in a practice. Miami coach Mark Richt came out and said he had no regrets because no one in the competition was separating himself from the others. So if you're not sure who the quarterback should be, it's hard to send your season down the drain if one gets injured. There's not nearly as much risk as there would have been last season by opening up Brad Kaaya to practice hits. Plus, it'd be much worse for Miami's quarterbacks to get their first taste of pressure from Florida State's Josh Sweat and Brian Burns in Doak Campbell Stadium in Week 3.
JS: How about someone who has a case for No. 1? That would be Pittsburgh's Quadree Henderson, who excels as a returner, rusher and receiver. Quick trivia: Do you know the only Pitt players with more than 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season? It's Henderson and Tony Dorsett, who had 2,217 in 1976 as the Heisman Trophy winner. Forty years later in 2016, Henderson returned three kickoffs for scores, which led the country, and he added touchdowns as a rusher, receiver and punt returner. He was the only qualifying FBS player to average more than 10 yards per carry, and most of his rushes came on jet sweeps. I'd slot Henderson second behind James and put Samuels third.
JS: This question gets asked pretty much every week, but to be fair my answer probably changes each time. As of today, I'd go with Miami as the Hurricanes have a schedule that sets up nicely, and one of the conference's better defenses should keep the offense afloat as it settles on a quarterback. It's hard to go against the coaching combination of Justin Fuente and Bud Foster, but the Hokies lose so many pieces on offense. So I'm going with Miami as long as the Canes can get it together by Oct. 12. Feel free to save this link and remind me daily if Miami face-plants again. I'll have deserved it.
JS: And the reason Oct. 12 is important is because that's the week the Canes host Georgia Tech on a Thursday coming off a bye week. I'm high on the Yellow Jackets after they ended the season winning five of six. Georgia Tech is always tough to peg preseason, and the noncontact foot injury QB Matthew Jordan suffered this week complicates it even more. Coach Paul Johnson made Jordan the No. 1 entering spring with the hope he'd win the job by next week's game. It was made clear last year he's capable of replacing Justin Thomas when he led an upset of Virginia Tech. If this injury significantly sets Jordan back -- there's no announced timetable for a return -- then I'm not nearly as confident in the Yellow Jackets being a tough out in the Coastal.