Tag:Utah
Posted on: April 14, 2011 3:11 pm
 

Eye on CFB Recruiting Review, 4/14

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Once a week, our Eye on College Football Recruiting Review recaps the past week's top headlines from our sister blog, Bryan Fischer's Eye on Recruiting . Enjoy:

  • Though the long-simmering Delvon Simmons saga won't be officially over until he enrolls in Lubbock, the 2011 top-10 defensive tackle (and former North Carolina signee) has announced that he'll be joining Texas Tech this fall. After his departure from the UNC fold, Simmons listened to overtures from programs like USC, Auburn and Oregon but has settled on the Red Raiders.
  • Iowa dipped into Illinois for their first commitment of the class of 2012, offensive line legacy recruit Mitch Keppy. Also going out-of-state -- but much further out-of-state -- was West Virginia, who used Dana Holgorsen's old Lone Star State connections to land Houston quarterback Ford Childress. 
  • Les Miles told new LSU cornerback commitment Dwayne Thomas that getting the New Orleans prospect in the fold was like "getting Tyrann Mathieu all over again." Given the sky-high expectations for Mathieu this season, it seems Miles is more than a little high on Thomas's potential. Staying in the SEC, South Carolina received their second pledge for 2012 in the person of Atlanta-area linebacker T.J. Holloman, who took the Gamecocks over N.C. State and Louisville.
  • The slow start to the class of 2011 is ancient history for Penn State as the Nittany Lions have been racking up major commitments recently. The first of two this week was Westville (N.J.) defensive tackle Jamil Pollard, who accepted the Nittany Lions' offer over those from such heavyweights as Alabama and Florida and in-state Rutgers. But Joe Paterno and Co. landed an equally big prize Tuesday when five-star defensive tackle Jarron Jones of Rochester (N.Y.) also committed to PSU. Jones said he would take his allotment of official visits all the same, but if his commitment (and Pollard's) sticks, the Nittany Lions will be automatic entrants in the race for the best defensive line class of 2012.
  • Sophomores can't even receive written offers just yet, but Prattville (Ala.) offensive lineman Austin Gholson decided he didn't want to wait, committing to Florida State after a recent visit. Gholson is, not surprisingly, FSU's first commitment for the class of 2013 and is expected to be one of the top prospects in Alabama in his class.
  • Few Michigan State players in recent memory have made the impact of departed running back Javon Ringer, but that won't stop his nephew Kaleb Ringer from committing to Michigan on his birthday tomorrow. Kaleb is a linebacker prospect from Clayton (Ohio) with offers from Iowa, Louisville, and others as well as the Wolverines.
  • Injuries at summer combines are unfortunate enough, but a life-threatening head injury must be the worst-case scenario. Sadly, that's the scenario that played out for D.C. area receiver Lamont Baldwin, who suffered a fractured skull and severe concussion after a camp collision. A highly-sought after recruit with offers from ACC heavy-hitters like Miami and North Carolina, Baldwin is expected to recover within six months.
One more reminder: if you don't want to wait for these recaps, simply read Eye on Recruiting . You'll be glad you did.
Posted on: March 14, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: BYU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at BYU , who opens spring camp today.


Spring Practice Question: Can the BYU offense catch up with its defense?

Pop quiz, hotshot, and no cheating: was it BYU's offense or their defense that finished some 42 spots behind the other in national total yardage and managed to get its coordinator fired midseason?

If you said "defense" you're ... partially right. It's a trick question, since Bronco Mendenhall dismissed previous defensive boss Jaime Hill immediately following the Cougars' embarrassing 31-16 capitulation to traditional in-state punching bag Utah State on Oct. 1. But in the wake of that move, the Cougar defense improved dramatically, holding six of their final eight opponents to 21 points or fewer as BYU rallied from a 1-4 start to a 7-6 finish. When the dust had settled, the Cougar defense had posted a perfectly-respectable 24th-place finish in the FBS in total defense.

That should tell you, then, that despite the program's longstanding (and Steve Young/Jim McMahon know we mean long) reputation for aerial circus offenses and broken scoreboards, it was primarily the Cougar offense that kept BYU from getting over the .500 mark until a waltz past UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl. Behind the platoon of true freshman Jake Heaps and junior Riley Nelson -- and eventually just Heaps, after Nelson was lost for the year with a shoulder injury in late September -- the Cougar quarterbacks finished 100th in FBS with a miserable 115.09 quarterback rating. Though often-overlooked Cougar running game wasn't terrible (42nd in rushing offense, earning 4.2 yards per-carry), it wasn't nearly explosive enough to offset the ugly, flailing passing attack through the season's first half. Though Heaps eventually got his feet underneath him, the Cougars scored just 16 points or fewer six times--and lost all six. Their final finish in total offense? 72nd, a 52-spot drop from the top-20 unit of 2009.

The good news for Cougar fans is that if the secondary can be rebuilt -- three of the four 2010 starters have graduated, including first-team All-Mountain West safety Andrew Rich -- the defense should be able to maintain the gains of late 2010. Mendenhall took over the defense himself in the wake of Hill's departure and will stay in that capacity this season; with his oversight and five members of the starting front seven back, BYU should be particularly stout against the run. (The two losses in that front seven, all-league defensive end Vic So'oto and leading tackler Shane Hunter, aren't insignificant. But up-and-coming talents like sophomore linebacker Kyle Van Noy, junior tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna and junior linebacker Brandon Ogletree should keep things intact.)

So what about the offense? There's several big reasons for optimism:
  • Start with Heaps. After his rocky start, he looked every part the prototypical BYU quarterback down the stretch, putting together a 13-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his final five games and averaging a robust 8.2 yards per-attempt in that span. Not coincidentally, BYU went 4-1 in those five games with the loss by a single point to Utah and the wins by an average of 37 points.
  • Four members of the 2010 starting offensive line return, including two-time first team All-Mountain West selection Matt Reynolds. With a future NFL left tackle to build around, the second-fewest number of sacks allowed in the MWC a year ago, and an abundance of experience, the Cougar line should be poised to improve by leaps and bounds in 2011.
  • The return of all three of the Cougars' top rushers from 2010, including senior J.J. DiLuigi (917 yards) and sophomore Bryan Kariya (537). BYU may also get a spark from sophomore Joshua Quezada, who averaged an impressive 5.1 yards a carry as a freshman.
  • The top three receivers return as well in another dynamic sophomore, wideout Cody Hoffman (527 yards), DiLuigi (443 out of the backfield) and senior McKay Jacobson (410). Though the Cougar wideouts will have to do more to stretch the field (no receiver with more than 8 catches averaged more than Hoffman's 12.6 yards per-reception), Hepas won't lack for options to target.
  • Though it will be his first season calling plays, new offensive coordinator Brandon Doman has enough of a pedigree at BYU to believe he'll be able to continue the Cougar high-flying offensive tradition.
So things look promising ... on paper. We'll find out this spring practice if Mendenhall and the Cougars can actually put that potential into, well, practice. Is Heaps ready to take the next step into stardom? Can DiLuigi (or Quezada?) find that extra bit of explosiveness that would make the Cougar running game really hum? Is the line ready to perform to expectations? Is Doman fully up to the task?

With this being BYU's first season to prove their plan for football independence can work ... and the defense in position to turn this into a special season if the offense pulls its weight this time ... and the schedule kicking off with a challenging at Ole Miss -at Texas -vs. Utah slate for the first three weeks that will leave little time for adjusting on the fly ... there may be no better time for the answers to those questions to be "yes."
Posted on: March 9, 2011 8:44 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:49 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Utah

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Utah, who began spring practice on Tuesday.

What are some of the issues Utah has to figure out before moving to the Pac-12?

When you look at teams going through transition this spring, most are referring to a quarterback change or having to deal with new coaching staff members. At Utah, "transition" is less about who's under center and more about a move to a whole different conference.

"It is a new era for Utah football and you can sense it," head coach Kyle Willingham told reporters after the Utes' first practice. "There is a lot of excitement about it and new challenges."

The move to a new league will come complete with a new offense thanks to distinguished alum and new offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Though he ran the Pistol offense while at UCLA with limited success, Chow is known best for producing high scoring offenses with top flight pro-style quarterbacks (see Palmer, Carson at USC and Rivers, Phillip at N.C. State). Last season's starter Jordan Wynn will miss spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery, which leaves all the reps to true freshman Tyler Shreve and sophomore Griff Robles. While spring offers the Utes a chance to see what the quarterback of the future looks like, they won't be able to see what the quarterback for next season looks like after Chow all but confirmed that Wynn would start in the fall.

"I told Jordan I'd go to the Heisman one more time and then I'll retire," he told The Salt Lake Tribune.

The backfield is also an area of concern. The team loses two of their leading rushers from last season in Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata. Don't be surprised if early enrollee Harvey Langi makes a big push for playing time after several top programs recruited the big back out of high school. Paving the way in the new pro-style attack will be Boo Anderson, who moves from linebacker to fullback. Three of the five starters on the offensive line are back but there will be battles at both guard spots the Utes will need to lock down before all is said and done.

Oh and one of the best names in college football, wide receiver Shaky Smithson, departs after being a threat in the passing game and special teams. While it might seem like there's a lot of moving parts on offense, there are a few things Willingham doesn't have to worry about. Linebackers Matt Martinez and Chaz Walker return and safety Brian Belchen has bulked up a bit after moving to SAM linebacker. Not a surprise but Willingham thanks Star Lotulelei will be a star at defensive tackle and David Kruger and Derrick Shelby are returning starters at defensive end.

Previous Spring Primers
The front seven should be relatively well equipped for the move for the Pac-12 but the secondary will need to be straightened out over the next month with all four spots up for grabs. You can pencil in junior Conroy Black, who is the fastest player on the team and grabbed an interception last season in a decent amount of playing time. Outside of Black, there's several players who should compete for the other three spots.

Are there a few things the Utes want to get worked out? Yes on both sides of the ball. But that's what spring football is all about, working out the kinks. The coaching staff believes that there's plenty of talent to compete week in and week out in a new conference and there is enough proven talent that will suit up this spring to back that up.

"They've played in big games against the Alabama's and teams so that will be nothing different," Chow told the Tribune. "The challenge will be the week to week competition in the Pac-12. That is different but we'll be ready."

Plenty of things to figure out beforehand though.

Posted on: March 8, 2011 3:47 pm
 

MWC in the right despite Patterson schedule gripe

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As we mentioned in our TCU Spring Primer yesterday , the impending divorce between the Horned Frogs and the Mountain West isn't going to be the amicable type. The conference has responded to TCU's defection to the Big East by inflicting various 2011 schedule-related indignities on the Frogs, including switching their home date against Boise State to a road trip and ignoring TCU's request for a Sept. 10 bye week in favor of a trip to Air Force.

Though Gary Patterson hasn't ever been the sort of coach to rant and rave about forces outside of his control -- see his subdued reaction to the BCS championship conversation excluding his undefeated Frogs each of the past two seasons -- his recent comments have made it clear that he is not pleased with the way his team has been treated:
The schedule stinks.

But nobody at TCU seems all that surprised.

Humored, maybe, as football coach Gary Patterson described himself. Or peeved, as some inside the athletic offices put it ...

"I realize a lot of this is dictated by TV," Patterson said, as spring drills prepared to begin last week. "But if the league said we could have one scheduling request, why didn’t we get it? I’m wondering who else had their requests ignored."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton called the scheduling decisions "bush league" this week, writing that "I thought the league was classier than that."

Certainly, the conference's treatment of TCU isn't entirely "sporting" or "gentlemanly." But there's not much sporting or gentlemanly about the entire BCS system, one that virtually guarantees that a team like the Frogs will abandon the MWC for the greener pastures of an automatic BCS bid at the very first opportunity.

More Mountain West

For the MWC to be able to fend off any future suitors for their new flagship program at Boise -- particularly in light of the fellow defections from Utah and BYU -- they'll almost certainly have to be awarded that bid as soon as possible, and if they can snag a more lucrative television contract along the way, so much the better. Playing nice with TCU does nothing to help the MWC accomplish either of those goals; a Boise win over the Frogs, for instance, counts torwards the numbers in the league's bid application and damages the standing of the conference most likely to have its bid stripped.

Even from a simple perception standpoint, it's worth it to the MWC to saddle TCU with as many obstacles as possible. If the Frogs wipe the floor with the league on their way out, there won't be any hiding from the fact that the conference may have been irreperably damaged goods. If they lose two or three conference games and watch Boise or even San Diego State ascend to the league's top ladder ... well, which one of these scenarios do you think represents the stronger position for the MWC when it comes time to negotiate that next TV contract?

It would be great if everyone in the conference expansion wars played nice and got along and sat down for tea. But the real-world demands of the BCS and its millions means that's a chump's game. You can't blame TCU for feeling aggrieved, but you also can't blame the MWC for refusing to play it.


Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: TCU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at TCU , who began practice over the weekend.

Spring Practice Question: Do the Horned Frogs have the offensive firepower to slam the door in the Mountain West's face on their way out?

Remember how when NBA legends like Julius Erving would announce their retirement, their final season would be a long series of tearful goodbyes as the legend-in-question would be showered at each road venue with gifts and well-wishes? And you know how this is TCU's final season in the Mountain West, the conference it's won three times and helped shape into a national power on the cusp of an automatic BCS bid? Yeah, that season is going to be the complete opposite of that NBA thing.

Because the Mountain West has done all it can to skip the bouquets and send the Horned Frogs off to the Big East with a giant kick in the pants. Not only did the league unilaterally force TCU to forgo their biggest home game of the year in exchange for a brutal road game at Boise State, they ignored the Frogs' choice for a bye week in favor of giving them weeks off before New Mexico and UNLV ... two miserable teams the Frogs could have swept in a doubleheader the week after going to Boise if they had to. It's safe to say there's nothing the MWC wants more than to see TCU flail their way out of a league that spent the year proving it didn't need them; it's equally safe to say there's nothing Gary Patterson would like more than to say good-bye with the raised middle finger of a third straight conference championship.

But entering spring practice, the odds look much longer than they did in either 2009 or 2010. While part of that is the enhanced schedule -- even the Frogs' undefeated showdowns with Utah the past two seasons won't present nearly the challenge of taking on the Broncos on the blue turf -- the much larger part is facing down that schedule with so much lost on offense. Eight starters are gone from the unit that helped bring home a Rose Bowl title, a group headlined by four-year quarterback starter and career 10,000-yard passer Andy Dalton.

But the losses go much deeper than that. The Frogs' second-, third- and fourth-leading receivers are all departed, including top go-to possession wideout Jeremy Kerley and the reliable Jimmy Young. Bookend 6'6" tackles Marcus Cannon and Zach Roth have both graduated. In the interior of the line, the Frogs must replace 300-pound guard Josh Vernon and 308-pound All-American center Jake Kirkpatrick, only the 2010 Rimington Trophy winner.

The good news for TCU is that particularly at the skill positions, they seem positioned to weather the storm. Quarterbacking heir-to-the-throne Casey Pachall was one of Patterson's most highly-regarded recruits, has drawn rave reviews in practice, and should be more than ready as a redshirt sophomore. The tailback tag-team of juniors Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker -- who combined for 1,787 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns in 2010 -- returns intact. Top receiver Josh Boyce is back after a breakout redshirt freshman season that saw him average an eye-popping 19 yards per reception.

But there's only so much all that skill-position talent can do if the four new starters up front aren't up to the task. Spring camp should give Patterson and the TCU fans an excellent chance to gauge their progress across from one of the perennially best-coached defensive fronts in the country (not to mention Tank Carder). If the line shows potential, Pachall lives up to the hype, and some member of the Frog receiving corps steps up to provide some measure of balance across from Boyce, it won't be too early to start dreaming about yet another BCS season.

But if not? Boise's going to start licking their chops (to say nothing of teams like BYU, San Diego State, Baylor, etc.), and the MWC bigwigs can start their dreaming about having the last laugh.


Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:39 pm
 

VIDEO: Utah LB drove wrong way on freeway

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Yesterday we wrote about Utah linebacker Timote Nai Fotu who was arrested for a DUI over the weekend, and has since been suspended from the team by Kyle Whittingham "until further notice." We can't be sure how long that will be, exactly, but given the new details emerging about Nai Fotu's arrest, I have a feeling it is going to be a while.

You see, Fotu wasn't pulled over because he was swerving back and forth between lanes while driving or anything. In fact, he may have been driving in a perfectly straight line. The problem for Fotu was that he was driving in the wrong lane.  On the freeway. Yep.



Fotu's blood-alcohol level of .218 is nearly three-times the legal limit, and it means that over a fifth of the blood flowing through his body was alcohol. He probably could have lit his breath on fire. Though, as intoxicated as that is, at least he was able to remember he was in Utah.

Making matters worse, Fotu already had a warrant out for his arrest stemming from an incident in 2009. Fotu failed to appear in court to face charges of giving false personal information to police, unlawful possession of alcohol or a controlled substance by a minor and public urination for an incident on March 20, 2009.

So, yeah, it could be a while before Fotu puts on a Utah uniform again. If he ever does.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 2:30 pm
 

Utah LB popped for DUI

Posted by Tom Fornelli

UPDATE: Kyle Whittingham announced that Timote Nai Fotu has been "suspended from our football team until further notice."


You know, I was starting to get worried. It had been nearly a full week since a college football player found himself running afoul of the law, and as anybody who has written a college football blog can tell you, players getting arrested is the lifeblood of the offseason. Thankfully, Utah linebacker Timote Nai Fotu was kind enough to oblige us over the weekend.

Nai Fotu was arrested for a DUI on Sunday morning.
University of Utah football player Timote Nai Fotu was booked into the Salt Lake County jail for driving under the influence Sunday morning, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. 
Fotu was pulled over for speeding at about 10 a.m. by the highway patrol.
The 6-foot-2-inch athlete who started nine games for the Ute's and was scheduled to start last fall before a season-ending knee injury, still has two years of eligibility.
As it said in the excerpt, Nai Fotu started nine games for Utah as a freshman but missed all of 2010 after tearing his ACL in spring practice last March. He's in the running for a starting job this season, though this latest mess may hinder his chances a bit.

What I find incredible about this arrest is that when you hear "Player X busted for DUI Sunday morning" you figure he was out on Saturday night, and pulled over at 1 AM. Nai Fotu was pulled over at 10AM. So Nai Fotu either drank his way through the entire night without sleep, or passed out and was still intoxicated when he woke up. Whatever the case, that's an impressive feat.

Though one that leads to stupid decisions like getting behind the wheel.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Comparing coaching raises at Boise St., Illinois

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A quick comparison of two recent coaching raises, one at Illinois, the other at Boise State:



This is Ron Zook. His resume:
  • Record at current school: 28-45
  • Record previous three seasons: 15-22
  • Highlight of 2010 season: defeating 7-6 Baylor in bowl game; finishing season game over .500
  • Lowlight of 2010 season: back-to-back defeats to Michigan and Minnesota, one of whom would fire its coach at the end of the season and the other of whom had already fired their coach
  • Highly embarrassing photos available on the Internet: too many to count
Raise in annual salary the above resume is worth : $250,000



This is Chris Petersen. His resume:
  • Record at current school: 61-5
  • Record previous three seasons: 38-2
  • Highlight of 2010 season: defeating eventual ACC champion Virginia Tech in cross-country road game or defeating 10-2, 19th-ranked Utah in bowl game to cap 12-1 season
  • Lowlight of 2010 season: falling 34-31 in overtime on the road at Nevada team that would finish 13-1 and ranked No. 11 following pair of missed chip-shot field goals by previously reliable senior kicker
  • Highly embarrassing photos available on the Internet: none we can find
Raise in annual salary the above resume is worth : $35,000

BONUS data point on what above resume is not worth: Unanimous support from the Idaho Board of Education to receive said $35,000 bonus (emphasis added):
The state Board of Education on Thursday voted 5-2 to give Petersen a $50,000 bonus and a $35,000 bump in annual salary after the Broncos compiled a 12-1 record and ended the season in the Top 10 again.
Conclusion of comparison: By every account, Petersen's not looking to move on from Boise anytime soon. But if he ever does, you'll know why.
 
 
 
 
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