If you are like me then the biggest sporting activity of every summer is counting the seconds until the next college football season starts. While college football bettors can get very impatient in the dog days of summer, there are a lot of things they can be doing to sharpen their knowledge and prepare themselves to be ready to find the edge next season – especially early on in the season when most people won’t have done their homework and won’t be prepared as a result. Here are six good ways for college football handicappers to spend their summer months:
Learn about the new recruits – Each year there is a wave of new college players who join every team in the country. The guaranteed influx of young talent is what makes college football so unique and so great. Handicappers must get to know which players have left and which ones are coming in for every team that they might bet on if they want to be able to accurately assess the teams. The team’s stats from last year are irrelevant if the team has gone through a lot of changes, so you need to know what those changes are and what they mean. When looking at the players coming in you need to get a sense of who they are and what role they are likely to fill on the football team. Which players are likely to redshirt? Of those that don’t redshirt, which ones will primarily play on special teams, which ones will get significant playing time, and which will start? Are those that will start doing so because they are ready or because the team has no other good options. Which recruits are heavily hyped? Will the public react to that hype? What are their chances of living up to it?
Learn about last year’s redshirts – This is often overlooked by a lot of college football handicappers. Most teams have several players coming off a redshirt each year. These are essentially freshmen, but they have had a year to practice with the team, get comfortable with the school and the system, and find their place with the program. It’s more likely in most cases that the redshirts will be more ready to make an impact on the team than that the true freshmen will.
Get to know the coaching changes – The coaching ranks in college football are like a revolving door. One change at a major program has a ripple effect all the way down the line. New coaches bring new styles and new energy, so it is very important to get a sense of who is new and what impact it will have on their teams. The more a coach will be looking to change the offensive and defensive styles, the rougher the initial season could be. A coaching change will definitely have a big impact on recruiting as well. Some coaches will be met with enthusiasm and will bring in a good class in their first try, while others will struggle to bring in any talent at all before they have taken the field. That can have a big impact in the first season and down the line. It’s important to look beyond just the head coaching ranks as well. A change in offensive or defensive coordinator can have a significant impact on the team, and if the change wasn’t a high profile one then the betting public could miss out on the significance of it. This can certainly affect the smart bettors football picks.
Look for veteran offensive lines – The best shortcut for finding college teams that will be ready to be competitive at the start of the football season is to find ones that will be starting five upperclassmen on the offensive line. Strong offensive line play allows so much to happen – the QB can get comfortable and find receivers, the running game can be effective, and there is a good chance that the defense won’t have to be on the field as much and won’t be forced to dig themselves out of as many holes. The advantage of having all established starters on the line can diminish as the season goes along, but early in the year it is something to look out for.
Look for third year starter QBs – Similar to a veteran offensive line, a quarterback with a lot of experience under his belt can give his team a lift early on and can be worth betting on. Once a guy is in his third year as a starter the game has slowed down for him as much as it is likely to, he knows the system and the expectations on him, and he will often raise him game to a new level. In high profile cases the public will be very aware of established QBs, but in a lot of cases the experience won’t get the respect it might deserve early on.
Look for deceptive early schedules – The betting public attaches a lot of significance to the records of teams. In non-conference play, though, the records can be a terrible indicator of how good a team is actually performing. A BCS conference team could have a 4-0 record while still playing very poorly if they have scheduled a weak non-conference schedule. A football team from a lesser conference could g 1-3 in non-conference play but could be poised for big things in conference play if their losses have been to teams that are clearly significantly better than them. They will have learned a lot and gained a lot of experience from playing strong opponents, and that can be a huge benefit down the line. Spending the time to look for schedules that are likely to skew the public perception of the team is a very good way to spend your time in the sumer as a college football handicapper.