Posted on: February 10, 2011 5:42 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 5:47 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
After finishing the 2010 season ranked near the bottom of the conference in most defensive categories, UCLA fired defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough on December 18. Nearly two months later, it seems like the search for his replacement may be finally nearing an end. Multiple media outlets are reporting that Kentucky defensive coordinator Steve Brown will likely be the man for the job, and the announcement could come in the next few days. The Los Angeles Times confirmed that Brown interviewed on Tuesday, and Scott Reid of the Orange County Register believes the Oregon alum could be introduced in the near future.
UCLA supposedly had their man lined up after head coach Rick Neuheisel interviewed Rocky Seto, Pete Carroll's defensive coordinator from Seattle and USC. Neuheisel had already struck out with San Diego State's Rocky Long (promoted to head coach) and Stanford's Vic Fangio (now defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers). Unfortunately after Seto's interview, the coach went public with the information thinking the job was his to lose.
It was, and he did.
UCLA was unhappy that Seto decided to break the news himself and the deal quickly disappeared. Now, after all the twists and turns things are finally coming into place for the Bruins.
The Bruins did make one hire on Wednesday, announcing Nevada's Jim Mastro as UCLA's new F-backs/running game coach. Mastro will be counted on to improve the pistol attack run by the Bruins in 2010.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 2:57 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Wednesday may be signing day, but apparently Tuesday is "Former Four-Star Quarterbacks Transferring Day." Earlier on Tuesday the news broke that Ryan Mossakowski was leaving Kentucky, and now Georgia quarterback-turned-wide receiver Logan Gray has announced that he'll be leaving Athens following his graduation this spring.
"I will graduate in May from UGA with my degree in Speech Communication,” said Gray in a statement. “I plan on playing my last year of football while pursuing my Master's degree at another school, most likely close to home, where my family can attend all of my games. I would like to thank Coach Richt for giving me the opportunity to be a Bulldog the last four years, and sticking beside me throughout the whole experience. I would also like to thank my teammates for everything. They are like another family to me and I know I will be close with several of them for the rest of my life."
“I want to express sincere appreciation to Logan for his many contributions to our program the last four years,” said Mark Richt. “He’s been an asset to our team and program as both a player and student and we wish him nothing but the very best.”
Gray came to Athens as a four-star recruit, and after redshirting in 2007, spent 2008 and 2009 as a reserve. After losing the quarterback battle to Aaron Murray last spring, Gray moved to wide receiver where he caught 9 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs in 2010.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 2:15 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Here's a story that may temper your excitement or frustration with signing day tomorrow. It's important to remember that there are no sure things in college football. For instance, Ryan Mossakowski was a four-star recruit at quarterback out of Texas who chose to sign with Kentucky a few years ago. He then had to have surgery to repair the labrum in his throwing shoulder following high school, and redshirted his first season in Lexington.
Mossakowski then spent 2010 at third on the Kentucky depth chart behind Mike Hartline and Morgan Newton, and only saw time in mop-up duty this season, never getting the chance to throw a pass. Now, after coming to Kentucky with so much promise, Mossakowski has announced he'll be transferring from the school.
"This is something I've been thinking about for a while, even before the bowl game,"said Mossakowski. "I talked with the coaches and they said the job would be open in the spring and I'd have a chance to compete. I just had to make the decision that I thought was best for me. I really have to go somewhere where I know there's a 100 percent chance I'd get on the field.
"I have total respect for the coaching staff, and I'll still be good friends with all the players. I've really enjoyed it here. I just want to be somewhere where I know I'll get on the field."
Mossakowski says he's talked to his father and high school coach about some possible destinations, but he hasn't put together any kind of list.
Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:26 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Auburn Tigers played in a lot of close, exciting games this season. The Tigers win over Oregon in the national championship game was no different than their affairs against Alabama, Clemson, Kentucky, LSU or South Carolina. They had the most dynamic player in college football in Cam Newton as well. All in all, they were a very fun and exciting team to watch.
But were they the most exciting team in all of college football in 2010? I guess that depends on your perspective, but according to one website that ranks teams based on how exciting they are, Auburn wasn't even the most exciting team in the state of Alabama.
It’s actually the University of Alabama-Birmingham, which finished the season with a 4-8 record. Auburn, which won all 14 of its games actually finished second, according to Thuuz.com, a company that sends alerts to fans in real time based on how exciting a game is.
The company averaged the excitement rankings from the games of 92 of the 120 FBS schools and came up with some pretty interesting findings. The excitement meter ranges from 0-100 and doesn’t take into account the records or the fan following.Yes, that's right, UAB was the most exciting team in college football this season. A 4-8 team. I'm not sure how the website ranks these things, but UAB did play in some close games. The Blazers played in two double-overtime games, played in another two games that were decided by a point and lost two others by five points. The only UAB game I saw this season was against Tennessee, and I'll admit, seeing the Blazers nearly shock the Vols in Neyland Stadium was rather exciting.
The top five teams were UAB, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Michigan and East Carolina.
Of course, teams are one thing. No college football fan is content knowing that just his team is better. He needs to know where is conference ranks. So where did the mighty SEC finish in excitement? It was the fifth most exciting conference in college football. The only thing that could make that fact worse for SEC fans is the next sentence.
The Big Ten was ranked as the most exciting conference in college football.
I know, I know. Just keep in mind the excitement factor isn't based on style of play as much as close games.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 3:20 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason Top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).
1. Baylor - The good news for Baylor: dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III is back along with most of the offense, and while he loses starting tailback Jay Finley to graduation, Finley's backups Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi provide an intriguing balance of power and speed -- they both return. In addition, RG3 gets his top five receivers back (all of whom caught at least 40 passes this year), and three-year starting lineman Philip Baker will be the anchor at center for a mostly intact offensive line. Yes, Baylor still looks wretched at times on defense (53 points to Oklahoma and 55 to Oklahoma State aren't exactly solid efforts), so there's no telling whether the Bears' losses on that side of the ball are addition by subtraction or not, but one thing's for sure: there'll be points put up in Waco in 2011.
2. Illinois - This spot would likely go to fellow "Leader" Penn State if it weren't for the fact that PSU's replacing Evan Royster, two leading receivers, its two best offensive linemen, and there's really no telling who's starting at QB in 2011. Oh, and most of the Penn State defense -- including two of three starting LBs -- is graduating too. Contrast that with Illinois , who found a star quarterback in freshman Nathan Scheelhaase this year and returns four of five starting offensive linemen. The Illini won't miss early declarant Mikel LeShoure much with Jason Ford (who's basically a human truck) waiting to take over at tailback. The defense will definitely miss Martez Wilson and Corey Liuget on the interior, on the other hand; those guys were anchors of a stout rushing defense and their backups are unremarkable. Still, Illinois' 2011 schedule looks primed for some upsets, and nine wins is hardly out of the question. If Wilson and Liuget were returning, Illinois would probably be in Dodd's Top 25, but it's not as if no borderline-Top 25 team has ever exceeded expectations after losing two juniors to the NFL.
3. Utah - Everything's going to come crashing down once Utah joins a "real" conference, right? Maybe not. If QB Jordan Wynn recovers from December shoulder surgery in time for the season (which he should, but six months of rehab can turn into nine without the patient doing anything wrong), he'll be a third-year starter with a reasonable set of returning players. Senior wideout/returner Shaky Smithson is sure to be missed, but this is college football; so it goes. And while Utah's schedule looks daunting, it really could be worse; the Utes miss both Oregon and Stanford in inter-divisional play, and neither BYU nor Pitt should be as tough of matchups as they'd have been over the past couple years. In addition, the schedule's pretty top-heavy, and it's easily possible that Utah wins at least five of six down the stretch. Head coach Kyle Whittingham keeps proving predictions wrong by not bolting for a paycheck elsewhere, and now he's got a chance to lead his Utes into battle in a real conference and destroy the "mid-major" label that's been dogging the program -- even through multiple BCS bowl wins! -- once and for all.
4. Oregon State - Meanwhile, in the Pac-12 North, the Oregon State Beavers have a chance to make noise. Yes, Oregon and Stanford are the class of the division and should remain so for the near future, but don't sleep on the passing skills of QB Ryan Katz , especially now that he'll have his first full season as a starter under his belt. With the game slowing down for him and with Markus Wheaton and James Rodgers both returning at WR (to say nothing of Joe Halahuni coming back at TE), Katz should be able to more effectively use his NFL-caliber arm to put some points up in Corvallis. The offense will miss Jacquizz Rodgers desperately, and while deserved, his jump to the NFL will likely cost the Beavers a win or two. So while the defense struggled in 2010 and stands to lose several seniors, it may not matter in a Pac-12 with several struggling offenses and an OSU attack that should set 30+ points per game as a goal. Scheduling a road date at Wisconsin might not have been the wisest idea, though. Still, look for a push from Oregon State to hit that eight-win mark, which against a schedule like this could mean a spot in the Top 25 when it's all said and done.
5. Tennessee - Dodd ranks eight SEC teams in his Top 25 (26, really, but whatever). We're not sure all will end up ranked at the end of the 2011 season, but one thing seems clear: of the four teams he left out -- Kentucky , Ole Miss , Tennessee , and Vanderbilt -- Tennessee's the closest thing to a contender of the four. No, the SEC East shouldn't spend its entire season on fire like last year, where South Carolina took the division trophy in a five-loss season, but Florida 's going to be experiencing major upheaval and Georgia will be missing A.J. Green (again). With Tyler Bray coming off a successful freshman campaign and returning starting RB Tauren Poole and deep threat wideout Justin Hunter , we could see the Vols make some noise. On defense, the only major loss is leading tackler Nick Reveiz ; Herman Lathers made strides along with the rest of the defense down the stretch, and the secondary returns intact. If there's ever a time to make a run in the East, it's -- well, okay, it was 2010. 2011's not a bad opportunity for the Vols either, though.
Tags: 2011 College Football, 2011 College Football Sleepers, 2011 Sleepers, 2011 Top 25, A.J. Green, Baylor, BYU, Corey Liuget, Florida, Georgia, Herman Lathers, Illinois, Jacquizz Rodgers, James Rodgers, Jarred Salubi, Jason Ford, Jay Finley, Joe Halahuni, Jordan Wynn, Justin Hunter, Kentucky, Kyle Whittingham, Markus Wheaton, Martez, Mikel LeShoure, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nick Reveiz, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Philip Baker, Pitt, Pittsburgh, RG3, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Katz, Shaky Smithson, South Carolina, Stanford, Tauren Poole, Tennessee, Terrance Ganaway, Utah, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin
Posted on: January 13, 2011 1:13 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Randall Cobb is one of those football players who, if he went to a school that got more national attention than Kentucky does, would widely be considered one of the best players in college football. He's already one of the most versatile. Maybe now that he'll be playing on Sundays, people will start to notice.
Cobb announced on Thursday that he'll be foregoing his final season at Kentucky and enter the NFL draft this spring. Losing Cobb, along with running back Derrick Locke, will leave a large void in the Kentucky offense as Cobb did just about everything for the Wildcats. Cobb finishes the season with 84 catches for 1,017 yards and 17 touchdowns. Of course, that was just when he lined up as a receiver.
Cobb has also rushed for 405 yards with another two touchdowns, thrown for three touchdowns, and has picked up 955 yards on kick and punt returns, along with another touchdown. I'm pretty sure he teaches a chemistry class in Lexington as well.
While he's not likely to be a first round pick in the draft, his overall talents make it likely that he'll be taken either late in the second round or in the third.
Posted on: January 8, 2011 6:46 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2011 7:01 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Pittsburgh dedicates their 27-10 win to ex-coach Dave Wannstedt as the Panthers rolled over Kentucky.
Offense: Pittsburgh used special teams play in order to build their lead, but it was a relentless rushing attack that protected it; keeping the Kentucky offense off the field and burning up clock. Running back Dion Lewis, likely playing his last game as a Panther, led the way with 22 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. Ray Graham pitched in as well with 17 carries for 90 yards. Credit Pittsburgh's offensive line for winning the battle up front against Seattle's defensive line. GRADE: A-
Defense: Whoever does inherit Pittsburgh's defense is awfully lucky, because they showed great promise for the future against a usually potent Kentucky offense. The Wildcats usually average 33 points per game, but without suspended quarterback Mike Hartline, and against the Panther defense they could not turn production into points. The Panthers defense swarmed to the ball and kept close tabs on all-purpose threat Randall Cobb as Kentucky tried to move him around the field. Cobb was held to just 23 yards rushing and 62 yards receiving, and basically was a non-factor in the game. GRADE: B
Coaching: Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett deserves a lot of credit for preparing Pittsburgh for this game even with all the off-field distractions. The Panthers players dedicated the win to former coach Dave Wannstedt, and Wannstedt also is due some credit for this team's success. Hopefully the Panthers will be able to take this win and use it to jump-start the preparation for next season. GRADE: B+
Offense: The Wildcats offense desperately missed suspended quarterback Mike Hartline against the Panthers, falling well short of their average 33.0 points per game. Backup Morgan Newton made the most of his opportunity, complete 21 of 36 passes for 211 yards and did not throw an interception. Unfortunately, the offense was not able to turn their production into points, and the inability to convert on 4th and short ended up costing Kentucky one of their best opportunities to win the game. GRADE: D+
Defense: Kentucky's defense has been known to give up some big days on the ground, but the inability to stop the run ended up being the Wildcats demise on Saturday. When Kentucky really needed to shut down Dion Lewis and Ray Graham, they had no answer. The Wildcats also failed to create a turnover down the stretch, which allowed PIttsburgh to continue burning clock as Kentucky watched their chances at two straight bowl wins slip away. GRADE: F
Coaching: Kentucky's special teams woes ended up creating a deficit that was too large to overcome against the Panthers. With one blocked punt and one failed fake punt, the Wildcats' mistakes left a sour taste with Joker Phillips and the rest of the coaching staff. The loss drops Kentucky to 6-7, the first losing season for Kentucky since 2005. GRADE: C-
FINAL GRADE: The only thing that made this game seem mildly watchable was seeing an inspired Pittsburgh squad win one for Dave Wannstedt. For the most part, the game was pretty uninteresting as Kentucky looked outmatched and unprepared in most aspects of the game. With the storylines off the field overshadowing the action on the field, this wasn't the ideal game to kick off a big day of football for most of the nation. GRADE: D+
Posted on: January 7, 2011 1:09 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Basics: Pitt (7-5) vs. Kentucky (6-6), 12 p.m. EST, Jan. 8, Birmingham, Ala.
Why You Should Watch: It's your final chance to spend a Saturday afternoon watching college football. Isn't that reason enough? If it's not, well, frankly, a matchup between a unexciting Pitt squad of questionable motivation (following the ouster of Dave Wannstedt) and a .500 Kentucky team that slumped badly down the stretch probably won't get your pulse racing. But the Wildcats' receiver/returner/Wildcat (as in the formation) quarterback Randall Cobb is one of the most underrated and explosive players in the country, and there's also the chance that Pitt preseason All-American running back Dion Lewis could pick up where he left off in his late-season (as in, final game) breakout and go bananas again.
But mostly, as we said, it's the last-chance saloon for weekend college football. Drink up while you can.
Keys to Victory for Pitt: The first -- and probably most important one -- is simply for the Panthers to show up. Pitt has already endured one of the most disappointing seasons in the country, an insanely tumultuous offseason that's featured Wannstedt's firing, Mike Haywood's hiring, then Haywood's firing, and Wannstedt waffling until this week on whether he'd bother to come to Birmingham or not. Pitt's morale and focus probably wasn't great even before the coaching drama; though interim head coach Phil Bennett has head coaching experience and is as respected as anyone on staff, it's still anyone's guess what kind of mindset the Panthers will bring to their (admittedly lower-rent) bowl.
But if the Panthers are locked in, they've got the tools to make life very hard on the Wildcats. Offensively, Lewis appears to be back in form after his early-season struggles, receiver Jonathan Baldwin's size will present some serious matchup problems for the Kentucky corners, and the young (and often inconsistent) offensive line should benefit from the extra practice time. Defensively, though the Panthers will miss injured defensive end Jabaal Sheard, Bennett's charges finished a quiet ninth in the country in total defense, and should have little difficulty stopping a 'Cat passing attack minus starting suspended starting quarterback Mike Hartline. On paper, the Panthers ought to be the favorites.
But emotion regularly makes a hash of what "ought" to happen on paper in football, and what kind of emotion Pitt will play with is very much a question right now.
Keys to Victory for Kentucky: The Wildcat's first problem is obvious: Hartline's absence through suspension for a public intoxication arrest. That leaves sophomore Morgan Newton at the helm of the offense; while he hasn't played this season (only seven passes attempted), Newton's freshman season saw him complete 55.6 percent of his 135 passes for only 5.2 yards per attempt. He's likely to be a little sharper with another year under his belt and the extra bowl practice to prepare, but he'll also have to deal with a Pitt pass rush that's been one of the country's best the past couple of seasons (even without Sheard). Newton must play under control, and the Wildcat offensive line -- in a bit of good news for Kentucky, one that's allowed only 15 sacks all season, second-best in the SEC -- must give him time, or the Wildcat passing attack will be dead-on-arrival.
If Newton is on point and the line does give him time, the Wildcats have the weapons to put plenty of points on the board; Cobb, running back Derrick Locke, and 6'5" receiver Chris Matthews would all start for a lot of teams a lot higher-ranked than Kentucky. They may need them, since aside from revelatory first-team All-SEC linebacker Danny Trevathan (the conference's leader in tackles), few Wildcats stood out on defense this season either in rush defense -- where the 'Cats gave up 170 yards a game -- or pass defense, where the 'Cats ranked 81st by giving up 7.4 yards an attempt.
Of course, as unthreatening as Pitt's offense has been at times, the game promises to be tight and low-scoring regardless. Which is where Cobb comes in: one big special teams return or huge play out of the backfield could decide the game, and the Panthers don't appear to have a similar weapon.
The BBVA Compass Bowl is like: the small-town gas station off the Interstate that the sign says is your last opportunity to fill up for 73 miles or so. You stop because, hey, better get some gas. But maybe there's also a souvenir inside, a little Randall Cobb or Dion Lewis-shaped figurine, that you'll want to keep and remember during the long Saturday football-less road ahead.