Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:14 am
 

PODCAST: National Championship recap

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The confetti has hardly finished falling in the Superdome down in New Orleans, and the Alabama Crimson Tide aren't quite done celebrating just yet, but it's never too early to break down what we saw on Monday night. So in the latest episode of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, the Eye On College Football blog's Jerry Hinnen joins Adam Aizer to talk about Alabama's 21-0 victory.

Adam and Jerry talk about which team is better, and whether or not LSU should still be ranked #1 in the AP Poll after this one. They also discuss Oklahoma State's place in all of this, along with whether or not Les Miles and LSU were outcoached in this game. And, of course, we couldn't get through the podcast without talking about one of the greatest defenses we've ever seen in college football: the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide.

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 12:22 am
 

Shelley finds redemption for Tide kicking game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The jokes were never fair. Yes, Alabama missed four field goals in the first meeting against LSU. Yes, those misses were a major factor in the Tide's defeat. And no, designated kickoff specialist/long-range kicker Cade Foster hasn't had much of a season, going 2-for-9.

But that should never have meant that the Tide can't kick field goals. Junior Jeremy Shelley is, in fact, really, really good at kicking field goals. Field goals shorter than 40 yards, anyway: entering the BCS national championship game, Shelley had attempted 18 such kicks, and converted 16 of them. He'd missed one extra point all season, in 53 tries. He hadn't missed any kick shorter than 30 yards. 

But because Foster melted down against the Tigers and Shelley's one attempt in that game -- from well outside his usual range -- was blocked, the Tide kicking game was a laughingstock, a one-liner, a punchline. (If you don't believe us, you should have seen Twitter during the unfortunate field goal-kicking contest at halftime Monday night.) After the BCS title game, we wonder if Shelley took it personally.

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Shelley wasn't perfect--he had another 42-yarder blocked early on, missed a 41-yarder in the third quarter that could have helped clinch the title earlier, and even honked the only extra point attempted in eight quarters between the two teams. But he also connected five times on field goal attempts, tying an all-time bowl record, and made sure that the drives that were wasted in the Prematch weren't wasted this time. He hit from 23, 34, 35, and even from 41 and 44 for his first successes from that distance of the year. For all the potential inherent in LSU's brilliant punting pair of Brad Wing on the kicking end and Tyrann Mathieu on the returning end, the special teams player who made the most impact Monday -- for either side was Shelley.

Given the overall narrative of the night, that's how things had to be. If the first meeting was about the Tide's mistakes, the second one was about redemption for those mistakes--and even if those placekicking mistakes weren't Shelley's to begin with, he was the Crimson Tide player on who that area of redemption rested. And like everyone of his teammates, he came through with the highest-flying of colors.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 6:55 pm
 

Report: Ted Roof hired as Penn St. D coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Ted Roof's tenure as defensive coordinator as UCF has proven to be a short one. 

According to reports, the recent Auburn assistant has joined Bill O'Brien's staff at Penn State and will serve as the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator, replacing longtime Penn State DC and interim head coach Tom Bradley. Roof was hired at UCF by George O'Leary just less than a month ago after a disappointing season at Auburn.

Despite Roof's struggles on the Plains, his move to Happy Valley has been rumored since nearly the moment O'Brien was hired. The new Nittany Lion head coach worked as Roof's offensive coordinator during the latter's ill-fated head coaching tenure at Duke from 2003 to 2007. Just last Saturday, O'Brien referred fondly to the pair's shared time at Durham and called Roof "one of my closest friends."

Though few at Auburn were disappointed to see Roof move onto UCF -- and despite his professional ties to O'Leary, the lateral move has been widely rumored to be a de facto dismissal from Gene Chizik -- Roof's career is not without a number of high points. He helmed several top-30 defenses for O'Leary during Georgia Tech's early-Aughts run as an ACC contender, sparked massive improvements for both the Blue Devils and Minnesota in one-year stints as defensive coordinator, and of course helped Chizik's Tigers to the national title a year ago with the SEC's No. 1 rush defense. Roof's specialty has been shutting down run-first pro-style schemes, a plus when considering the presence of Wisconsin in the Nittany Lions' division.

That said, Roof was still the coordinator of this season's 80th-ranked total defense and a unit that seemed particularly at sea against strong passing attacks. (Even in his 2000 Georgia Tech season, when Roof was nominated for the Broyles Award, the Jackets finished 114th out of 114 in pass defense.) If O'Brien has let his personal friendship cloud his judgment of Roof's capacity to lead the Nittany Lion offense, that may not be the best sign for Penn St. going forward.

Though Roof is the most high-profile of the new Nittany Lion assistants, O'Brien made two other hires Monday. Ball State offensive line coach John Strollo has been hired to lead the Nittany Lion offensive line; a 30-year coaching veteran, Strollo also worked with O'Brien and Roof at Duke. Buffalo Bills wide receivers coach Stan Hixon has also reportedly been hired, filling the receivers coaching position previously staffed by Mike McQueary.

For daily real-time updates on Penn State football, follow our Nittany Lion CBSSports.com RapidReports by Jim Rodenbush right here. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 4:25 pm
 

RapidReport Roundup: LSU vs. Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Rounding up all the latest from CBSSports.com Alabama and LSU Rapid Reporters Jim Dunn and Glenn Guilbeau ... and what it might mean for the big game.

  
  

Don't expect a blowout. “Every game I think we played against LSU in the last five games comes right down to the wire, some kind of way," Nick Saban said Sunday, and he's not exaggerating. Those five games -- all since Saban took over in Tuscaloosa, transforming what had been your average SEC blood feud into something even more intense between his former and current teams -- and have been decided by a total of 28 points, with two games going into overtime and none featuring a margin greater than 2009's nine. Whether or not the rematch lives up to the hype of the first meeting from an aesthetics standpoint (and there are those, of course, who will argue the first meeting already did), there's little doubt the final minutes will be as dramatic as ever.

Optioning away from the option? One of the key factors in LSU's win in the Prematch was their success with an option play featuring Jordan Jefferson and Michael Ford, a look which -- thanks to Jefferson's reduced role as Jarrett Lee started -- the Tigers had barely shown entering the game. The usually uber-prepared Tide defense seemed to be caught off guard, but Ford isn't expecting that to be the case the second time around.  "Alabama will be better against it this time," Ford said. "So we've just got to trick 'em -- act like we're going to run the option and run something different. When me, (tailback/fullback) Kenny Hilliard and Jordan Jefferson are in there, it's scary. It opens everything up. We can run between the tackles with Kenny. We can go option with me. Or we can throw it. You don't know what's coming at you."

That's not wrong, and both Jefferson's ascension and Hilliard's late-season charge are two reasons that the Tigers can hope for more offensive success than they saw on Nov. 5. But with the Tide knowing that LSU knows they might have to move away from the option, we might encourage the Tigers to stick with it--big plays against the Tide defense are precious, and proper execution might give them one against a defense that's looking for the change-up away from it.

First opponent: the layoff. Saban has never lacked for confidence in his coaching approach (and why would he, given the results), so it was somewhat surprising to hear him admit Sunday -- even after taking his Tide to the BCS national championship game in 2009-10 -- he isn't entirely sure how to handle the lengthy span between the end of the regular season and the title game. “When you have this much time between games, obviously you're always wondering as a coach. 'Are we practicing enough? Are we practicing too much?'" Saban said.

One could argue that uncertainty has played itself out in Saban's bowl record--his 6-3 mark is well above-average, but it's included a couple of clunkers, like the 2008 Tide's inexplicable blowout loss to Utah. (Miles, meanwhile, is 5-1 at LSU.) That's probably too small a sample size to make any firm conclusions, and it's not like the Tide haven't had several impressive bowl wins under Saban, too--last year's utter demolition of Michigan State being Exhibit A. But if we had to pick a team that might come out a little less certain than the other, especially in New Orleans, we'd lean towards Alabama.

Other tidbits. Miles says his team is ready. "They're a team that loves to play. The lights come on, and they want it. This will be a game that will be very representative of that" ... Saban said win or lose, there's one change coming Monday. “Every time we play LSU, I've got to change my phone number because people blow up my phone,” he joked ... Judging from the reaction to games like the Alamo Bowl and Rose Bowl, we're not sure fans are really clamoring for another field goal-decided slugfest. But Ford disagrees. "I don't think that's a game," he said of the pinball bowl games. "I think people get tired of seeing all those points on the board. They want to see a hard-fought game" ... LSU isn't a bigger rival for Alabama than Auburn, but Mark Barron says the gap is shrinking. “This is a rivalry that's grown over the years here recently due to the level of competition. I wouldn't say it's bigger than the Auburn rivalry, but it's growing slowly." After two No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in the space of three months, here's wondering if by the end of the night, it's moved far past growing "slowly."

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:30 pm
 

Auburn hires Falcons' Brian VanGorder as DC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Gene Chizik has ended his search for a defensive coordinator to replace Ted Roof, and the name is one that's already plenty familiar -- and plenty welcome -- to Auburn fans.

Per the Atlanta Falcons' official twitter feed, team defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has informed Falcons' head coach Mike Smith that he has accepted an offer from Chizik and the Tigers to take over the same position at Auburn. VanGorder will replace Roof, who left under pressure for the coordinator's chair at UCF after three up-and-down seasons on the Plains.

"I personally want to thank Brian for all the hard work he put in for our football team and Atlanta," Smith said

VanGorder and Auburn released a statement confirming the move:

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family at this point in my career, both professionally and personally, to become the defensive coordinator at Auburn. I’m looking forward to working at a school with the success and tradition of Auburn, and for a coach like Gene Chizik, who has led the program to a national championship. I’m very appreciative to the Atlanta Falcons and Coach Mike Smith for the experience of the last four years. It’s a great organization and will have continued success in the future.” 

"From the beginning of this process, I had one person in mind, and that was Brian," Chizik said in the statement. "He has achieved success at every level, both professionally and collegiately, which is a testament to his ability as a coach."

Though VanGorder has an extensive resume -- with assistants' stints for the Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars, and one season as the head coach at Georgia Southern -- VanGorder is best-known to SEC fans for his four-year defensive coordinating tenure under Mark Richt, one that produced some of the finest defenses at Georgia during the Richt era. He was awarded the 2003 Broyles Award after coaching the Bulldogs to a fourth-place finish in total defense. After finishing 49th his first year in Athens, the Bulldogs would improve to 15th in 2002 (winning the SEC and the Sugar Bowl) and rank in the top 10 the next two seasons.

Though VanGorder enjoyed less success with the Falcons -- averaging a bottom-half 18th-place finish in total defense his four years as the team's coordinator -- Atlanta did improve all four years of his time in Flowery Branch, slowly moving from 24th to 12th.

In any case, VanGorder's Georgia tenure alone ensures that he'll be greeted warmly by Auburn fans frustrated -- even during their 2010 national title run -- by Roof's defense's struggles against the pass and general inconsistency. Those struggles hit a low point in 2011 as the Tigers set a school record for most points allowed in a season and ranked 11th i nthe SEC (in front of only hapless Ole Miss) in total defense.

VanGorder will have his work cut out for him in restoring the Tigers to the defensive heights scaled during the Tommy Tuberville era. But it's hard to see who Chizik might have hired that would have any better shot at accomplishing it than VanGorder. Chizik still has to hire an offensive coordinator as well, but this first step in his coaching staff reshuffling has been a hugely positive one. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 1:19 pm
 

UCLA dismisses three players

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The first inevitable sign that a new regime has taken over at UCLA has arrived: roster turnover.

The Bruins announced Monday that three players have departed the program: redshirt sophomore defensive end Wesley Flowers, freshman tight end Raymond Nelson, and junior defensive back Randall Carroll

“At UCLA, we have a high set of standards that we expect every student-athlete to adhere to. Unfortunately, these three gentlemen choose not to do so,” new Bruin head coach Jim L. Mora said. 

Flowers and Nelson were dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules, while Carroll "failed to meet UCLA’s academic requirements" and is no longer enrolled at the school. 

Where their on-field impact is concerned, Carroll might be the biggest loss; the one-time star recruit (who Rick Neuheisel once lured away from USC to acclaim) still only collected two tackles this season, one fewer than the ostensible corner earned in receptions as a receiver. Flowers struggled to find the field after several injuries, and though Nelson saw action in eight games as a true freshman, he did not record a reception.

The bigger takeaway is that Mora -- like most coaches tasked with overhauling a stagnant program -- is wasting no time making over the Bruins in his preferred image. Mora has already declared an end to the Bruins' "over the wall" tradition and hired a former NFL player of hisSeattle Seahawks special teams coach Jeff Ulbrich, as the Bruins' new linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. The Bruins only narrowly missed on hiring longtime San Diego Chargers assistant John Pagano as their new defensive coordinator; he was promoted to the same position with the Chargers instead.

Mora's choice at offensive coordinator was more conservative (grabbing Noel Mazzone after his dismissal at Arizona State), but nonetheless, Mora has clearly begun putting his stamp on the program. But dismissing a handful of rule-breaking players and hiring position coaches are one thing--salvaging what had looked like another lackluster recruiting class will speak even more loudly, and it looks like Mora's well on his way to accomplishing that, as well. 

It's still early to say anything's truly changed for the better in Westwood -- if Eye on CFB had existed when Neuheisel was hired, you might have been reading this same post four years ago -- but after developments like the dismissals and NFL-centric hiring approach, it's safe to say things have at least changed.

Want more Bruins football? Follow our CBSSports.com UCLA RapidReports, written by Sean Ceglinsky. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 8, 2012 11:26 pm
 

Ron Vanderlinden staying on staff at Penn St.

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Bill O'Brien will no doubt look to revamp the offensive coaching staff at Penn State as he attempts to build a Nittany Lion attack in the mold of the one he's guided for the New England Patriots. But the defense? It looks like that side of the ball will retain a strong flavor from the Joe Paterno era.

That's after multiple Nittany Lion players confirmed following a Sunday team meeting that Penn State linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Ron Vanderlinden would be held over as part of O'Brien's staff. A former head coach at Maryland, Vanderlinden has been an assistant in Happy Valley for the past 11 seasons. He began the 2011 season as linebackers coach before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator following Paterno's exit.

Vanderlinden is the second defensive assistant to be retained by O'Brien, joining defensive line coach Larry Johnson. Tennessee Titans assistant Charles London has also been hired as the Nittany Lions' running backs coach.

Though full-season coordinator and former interim head coach Tom Bradley obviously deserves much of the credit, Vanderlinden's cameo as co-DC was nonetheless a highly successful one. The Nittany Lions finished 20th in total defense, a sterling 12th in yards-per-play allowed, and an even-better fifth in scoring defense. With numbers like those, it's understandable why O'Brien would want to keep as much continuity on that side of the ball as possible.

But still, the first thing the Nittany Lions wanted to talk about after the meeting was ... O'Brien himself. Quarterback Matt McGloin said he "got some chills" discussing offense with his new head coach.

“I expect that it’ll be an entirely different playbook,” McGloin said. “It’s exciting, just watching the Patriots and knowing we’ll be doing similar things.”

“You can definitely sense that he goes about business, and loves football, and he showed that to us,” said wide receiver Justin Brown. “I think everybody’s just excited to get things going with our new coach and move forward.”

“To the people who had doubts about him, everybody has to start somewhere,” said running back Silas Redd. “Every head coach has a head coaching debut, and this is his debut. He’s more than ready to steer this whole thing.”

If McGloin is right that the offense will hum, and Redd and Brown are right that O'Brien is ready to lead, and a defense with Vanderlinden and Johnson aboard can hold the line, a hire that was near-universally panned among the Nittany Lion faithful may (like similarly unpopular hires Gene Chizik and Brady Hoke) wind up OK in the end.

All information and quotes via CBSSports.com RapidReporter Jim Rodenbush. For daily updates on Penn State football, be sure to follow Rodenbush's RapidReports right here.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 7, 2012 2:58 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 4:26 pm
 

BCS Championship Game Score Predictions

Posted by Eye on College Football Staff

Chip Patterson: The first Game of the Century had the feel of two teams trying just as hard "not to lose" as they were trying to win.  With so much time to prepare, I imagine the first half will be just as low-scoring.  But Les Miles' willingness to adjust on the fly and take chances will be the difference as this game is won (or lost) in the second half.  LSU runs a kick return reverse to catch Alabama off guard for the deciding touchdown. LSU 24, Alabama 17.

Tom Fornelli: I'm with Chip on this one, even if I think 41 points is asking too much. Generally I'm of the opinion that it's hard to beat a team once, and much harder to beat that same team twice, but with this game being played in New Orleans it's hard to pick against the Tigers. LSU has been the best team in college all season, and it won't change in the Superdome, as the Tigers win 20-10.

[Full 2011-2012 bowl schedule]

Adam Jacobi: Tom, LSU's certainly got the best resume, but I don't know if they're the best team. And if anyone's going to turn around their scoring fortunes from first game, I'm picking the one who got into scoring position seven times and has the best running back in all of college football. I think Alabama gets into the end zone thrice, and LSU twice, good enough for a 24-20 Alabama win.

Bryan Fischer: All year I've thought this was the best defense Nick Saban's ever had. Watching them play, I believed it. The offense had Trent Richardson and a great offensive line with solid coordinators on both sides. But, and this is a big but, I can't pick against LSU. Les Miles has a great team and it seems like their destiny is to run the table. The Tigers aren't better than the Tide 11-on-11 but they are the better team and will get things done in New Orleans like they always have. LSU 27, Alabama 24.

Jerry Hinnen: It seems crazy to doubt LSU at this point. I personally doubted them before Oregon, before Mississippi State, before the Prematch, and even once they went down two scores to Georgia. And they've made me -- and all the other doubters -- looks like fools every time. But I'm doubting them one more time, because the formula they used to beat the Tide the first time isn't consistent enough to expect it work a second time. Missed field goals, special teams mistakes, Nick Saban's general conservatism, a botched trick play in LSU territory--these are mistakes the Tide aren't going to make a second time. And down-to-down, offense vs. defense, the Tide had the upper hand. This time, I think they make that advantage count. And if not, well, I'll be the one in the corner wearing the purple-and-gold dunce hat ... again. Alabama 20, LSU 16. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com