Wow, you were bringing it this week. Lot's thought-provoking mailbag questions. I couldn't get to them all (and decorum dictates I avoid the one's rife with four-letter words), and because there were so many, I broke them up into Mailbag One and Mailbag Two. Here's the first half. Second half is about an hour away. Even if I don't post your question, I try to reply to every question so please leave a working email address and I'll get back to you (Emily in Eugene, I tried). Enjoy, and thanks for the great questions this week.
Sean in Eugene, Ore., writes: Is Stanford over-hyped? I'm an Oregon student, but I honestly think that Stanford is over-hyped. Sure, there's the 15 game winning streak and the 10 straight wins by 25 or more. But, who exactly has Stanford beat this season? San Jose State, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, & Washington State are all awful. Sure, 65 points on a supposed No. 25 team is impressive, but if you look closer Washington has beat no one either, having played two good teams this year and getting beat down by both. Granted, Stanford is very good. But, they are over-hyped. Until they win a Pac-12 championship, they don't deserve this hype. Stanford may be in for a surprise when Oregon and all of their team speed come into Palo Alto.
Kevin Gemmell: I'm sorry Sean, I didn't realize Oregon played in the AFC North. Stanford's schedule doesn't include an FCS team, like that brutally tough home game the Ducks had to endure against Missouri State (1-7 after last week's big win over Western Illinois). Oregon has the same amount of wins against a ranked opponent that Stanford does, and that's one -- supposed or not. You're right though, Oregon has crazy speed. Stanford has crazy mismatches with the tight ends. Neither team is going to surprise the other one. The only thing that would be a surprise is a one-sided score. Is Stanford over-hyped? No, because they are only one spot ahead of Oregon in the BCS standings, a one-loss team with a comparable schedule. If you're going to make the case Stanford is over-hyped, you have to make the case that Oregon is over-hyped as well. And I don't think either of them are.
Edwin in Myrtle Beach, S.C., writes: Stanford could remain undefeated all year long and still would not get my vote for a National Championship spot. Their conference is weak and putting up some serious yards against Washington means nothing even if Washington was ranked. Overrated teams are abound in the BCS poll. A one-loss Alabama or LSU should still get to play in the championship. LSU and Alabama play themselves in the regular season and the BCS would probably not want to see the same game again although they would deserve it.
Kevin Gemmell: I'm sure David Shaw is glad you don't have a vote, Edwin. Looks to me like you've already got your mind made up and me punishing my keyboard with a lengthy response probably won't change your opinion. I'll just say I hope the two teams that deserve it make the national championship game. But thanks for swinging by. Always nice to see SEC folks weighing in on the Stanford blog.
K.R. in Portola Valley, Calif., writes: Stanford is being made to apologize for its soft schedule while it seems to me the SEC is getting a free pass on this score. While LSU and Alabama may be strong, overall the SEC is not as strong as it usually is. In particular, Alabama's schedule is as weak, I would argue, as Stanford's. Kent State? North Texas? Yet no one brings that up. Are they afraid of another outburst from Nick Saban? Were the computers born in Tuscaloosa?
Kevin Gemmell: Ah, Tuscaloosa, the Silicon Valley of the South. I wouldn't go so far as to say their schedule is on par with Stanford's. They have still beaten three ranked teams, including a No. 12 Florida team on the road. You can argue that the rest of the SEC isn't as strong -- just as you can argue the rest of the Pac-12 isn't as strong. At this point, all Stanford can do is keep winning their games and keep themselves in the conversation. We saw two teams fall last week. Let's see how this plays out over the next few weeks.
Holda in Oakland, Ore., writes: You wrote that Devon Carrington needs to tackle better. What specifically can he do during practice this week to make sure that happens?
Kevin Gemmell: It's pure technique. Rather than flying full speed and dropping the shoulder, as Carrington is prone to do, it's about breaking down wrapping up. He described it as bringing your feet with you to tackle. Which means instead of launching and leaving your feet, bring them along for the ride as you wrap up. Carrington is a bright player with an oustanding future. I'm expecting big things from him the rest of the season and in the next couple of years.