Tag:SEC
Posted on: January 9, 2012 5:48 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 5:52 pm
 

FWAA releases 2011 Freshman All-America team

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Monday, the Football Writers Association of America released the 2011 Freshman All-America Team. The group, selected by an 11-person panel of FWAA writers, is made up of the best true freshman and redshirt freshman from the 2011 FBS season.

The panel also names a first-year coach to the FWAA Freshman All-America team. This year's selection was West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen.

USC and Kansas State were the only schools to have two players named to the team, while the SEC and Pac-12 led the way in terms of conferences with five players apiece. Several players from the list below were also named to CBSSports.com's Freshman All-America team, though there are some noticeable differences in the two lists.

Let us know what you think about the group in the comment section below, hit us up on Twitter, or drop a line at the Eye On College Football Facebook page.

OFFENSE
QB - Sean Mannion, Oregon State
RB - Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
RB - Lyle McCombs, Connecticut
WR - Matt Miller, Boise State
WR - Marquise Lee, USC
WR - Sammy Watkins, Clemson
AP - De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
OL - Reese Dismukes, Auburn
OL - B.J. Finney, Kansas State
OL - Chaz Green, Florida
OL - Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers
OL - Jake Smith, Louisville

DEFENSE
DL - Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
DL - Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
DL - Aaron Lynch, Notre Dame
DL - Marcus Rush, Michigan State
LB - Dion Bailey, USC
LB - A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
LB - Jeremy Grove, East Carolina
DB - Blair Burns, Wyoming
DB - Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
DB - Quandre Diggs, Texas
DB - Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
DB - Eric Rowe, Utah

SPECIALISTS
P - Brad Wing, LSU
K - Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
PR - Scott Harding, Hawaii
KR - Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

COACH
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

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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."

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:29 pm
 

Texas A&M hires USF DC Mark Snyder

Posted by Chip Patterson

Kevin Sumlin added an important piece to his new staff at Texas A&M, hiring South Florida defensive coordinator Mark Snyder to the same position with the Aggies.

Early reports of the hire from CBSSports.com sources were confirmed by USF head coach Skip Holtz on Monday afternoon. Snyder served as the Bulls' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the last two seasons, mentoring All-Big East talents like Jacquian Williams, DeDe Lattimore, and Sam Barrington, among others. Prior to his time on Holtz' staff in Tampa, Snyder returned to his alma mater to be Marshall's head coach for five seasons from 2005-2009.

Kevin Sumlin's offensive reputation is well-known, but the Aggies will need an elite defense as well to compete immediately in the SEC West. Snyder has more than two decades of coaching experience under his belt, including four years on Jim Tressel's Ohio State staff highlighted by the 2002 national championship. He has been a defensive coach on the top level, and that is exactly what Sumlin will need at his first BCS head coaching opportunity.

For all the latest news and updates on Texas A&M, follow Brent Zwerneman and the Aggies RapidReports

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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 10:20 am
Edited on: January 9, 2012 10:24 am
 

Philip Lutzenkirchen returning to Auburn for 2012

Posted by Chip Patterson

With Michael Dyer's plans to transfer and Gus Malzahn accepting the head coaching job at Arkansas State, Auburn fans are not quite sure what the Tigers' offense will have in store for 2012. But at least one very important piece from that unit will be back, with tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen announcing his plans to forego the NFL Draft and return for his senior season.

“I’m excited to be coming back to Auburn for my senior season and help us work towards our goal we set every year, which is playing in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta,” Lutzenkirchen said. “It was an easy decision to make and finishing 2011 with a win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl will be huge in helping us prepare for 2012.”

The junior tight end caught 24 passes for 238 yards and a team-high seven touchdown passes in 2011, including a game-winning score against South Carolina. After earning second-team All-SEC honors and being named the team's Offensive MVP, Lutzenkirchen requested an evaluation from the NFL Draft board.

In addition to being a reliable red zone threat, Lutzenkirchen will be counted on as one of the leaders of this transitioning Auburn team in 2012. The coaching staff shakeup this offseason will present some continuity challenges moving forward, and the fan-favorite tight end will need to put his experience and notoriety to good use to help the Tigers compete in the SEC West.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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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. 

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:32 am
Edited on: January 7, 2012 12:33 am
 

QUICK HITS: Arkansas 29 Kansas State 16



Posted by Tom Fornelli


ARKANSAS WON. It wasn't the prettiest of games by any means, and the long layoff for both teams since the regular season ended no doubt had something to do with it. Arkansas was able to shake off the rust first, thanks to a field goal and yet another punt return touchdown by the amazing Joe Adams. The 10-0 lead quickly grew to 19-0 before Kansas State blocked an extra point and returned the kick for a safety and the Wildcats scored two more touchdowns to cut the lead to 19-16. Unfortunately for Kansas State, that was the end of any success on offense.

It wasn't his best performance of the season, but Tyler Wilson finished the night with 216 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, with Jarius Wright making 3 receptions for 88 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Collin Klein had a tough night for the Wildcats, finishing with only 41 yards rushing on 24 carries, though he did throw for 173 yards and accounted for both of Kansas State's touchdowns.

WHY ARKANSAS WON. The reason Arkansas won this game came from an area where you'd least expect it to: its run defense. Arkansas finished 9th in the SEC in run defense this season but somehow managed to stop a Kansas State rushing attack that finished the regular season 25th in the country averaging 193.7 yards per game. The Wildcats ran the ball 40 times on Friday night for a grand total of 86 yards, or 2.15 yards per carry. By making Kansas State's offense one-dimensional and forcing Collin Klein to throw a lot more than Kansas State wanted him to, Arkansas ensured its eleventh win of the season.

WHEN ARKANSAS WON. Kansas State had a chance in the final minutes of this one, but when kicker Anthony Cantele missed a 43-yard field goal with 6:43 left and the Wildcats trailing 26-16 it was pretty clear that there would be no late rally.

WHAT ARKANSAS WON. This was the finishing touch on what was a great season for Arkansas. The Razorbacks finish their season with an 11-2 record, with both of those losses coming against LSU and Alabama. The Razorbacks will also likely finish the season ranked in the top five setting them up for a possible title run in 2012.

WHAT KANSAS STATE LOST. This would have been a nice bookend to what was a spectacular and unexpected season for Kansas State, but it's hard to be disappointed in the year the Wildcats had. Kansas State finishes the season with a 10-3 mark and those three losses came against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Some very good teams.

THAT WAS CRAZY. I don't get why teams are willing to punt the ball to Joe Adams, but he burned the Wildcats once with a touchdown in the seocnd quarter. What was crazy, however, was that Kansas State continued to punt the ball to him. No, he never took another one to the house, but still, it's Joe Adams. If you play Russian roulette and survive you don't just keep pulling the trigger.

FINAL GRADE: B-. I was leaning towards more of a C here because I thought this game would be a lot better and more entertaining than it was, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. That being said, both defenses put in some solid performances on the night, and in a bowl season where we haven't seen much of that, I have to give them some credit. Particularly Arkansas, who despite losing its defensive coordinator, still managed to have its best defensive performance of the season. Only Texas had proven capable of slowing down Collin Klein before tonight.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:27 am
 

Michigan St. DC Pat Narduzzi turns down Texas A&M

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mark Dantonio did  this past season despite having lost one of his coordinators (offensive overseer Don Treadwell, now Miami (Ohio) head coach) to another coaching position. All the same, there's no doubt he's delighted not to have to prove he could do it again.

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi officially announced Friday he would be remaining with Dantonio and the Spartans, turning down an offer to join Kevin Sumlin's staff at Texas A&M in the same coordinator's role.

“With the success we’ve had as a football program, especially the last two years, people around the country have taken notice. So when provided a professional opportunity like Texas A&M, I owed it to my family to investigate it because my first obligation is to take care of my wife and children," Narduzzi said in a statement released by Michigan State. 

"The bottom line remains, however, that I’m very comfortable working for Mark Dantonio and Michigan State," he said. "I share the same feelings that our players and coaches have that there’s some unfinished business to take care of here. We’re all driven to win the Big Ten Championship and win a Rose Bowl.

Narduzzi didn't reach his decision solely out of loyalty to his employer, however; Dantonio pushed for across-the-board raises for his staff in the wake of the Spartans Legends division title and Outback Bowl championship, and got them.

“Prior to Texas A&M aggressively pursuing Pat Narduzzi, (MSU Athletics Director) Mark Hollis had already identified the financial resources to make sure that not only Pat, but all of our assistant coaches, had salaries that are competitive in the Big Ten," Dantonio said in the statement. "We understand that our continued success will provide professional opportunities for our student-athletes and coaches alike."

Narduzzi's defenses have taken gigantic leaps forward over the past three seasons, improving from 73rd in 2009 to 43rd in 2010 to a stunning 6th -- tops in the Big Ten -- in 2011. The Spartans also ranked 10th in scoring defense.

All of which makes Narduzzi's decision a serious blow for Sumlin, whose expertise as an offensive coach means the selection of a top-notch defensive mastermind is a must in the defense-driven SEC West. Sumlin's hires have been impressive elsewhere -- snatching recruiting coordinator and special teams coach Bill Polian away from Stanfordbringing over quarterbacks coach and Case Keenum tutor Kliff Kingsbury from Houston -- but without a quality DC, questions are still going to be asked.

Follow both Michigan State and Texas A&M with our Spartan and Aggie RapidReports. 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com