Tag:Elon
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:53 am
 

What I Learned in the SEC (Sept. 3)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. LSU isn't going anywhere, even with Jarrett Lee at the controls. The expectation is that one of these years, one of these games, putting out a quarterback scarcely more competent than your average Sun Belt starter is going to finally catch up with Les Miles and the Tigers. Saturday night's 40-27 thumping of Oregon wasn't that game, though, and this may not be that year.

As my collegue Bryan Fischer wrote, Lee didn't do anything to lose the Tigers the game; the flipside is that he barely did anything to win the game, either, putting together a 10-for-22, 98-yard effort that we promise you'll see referred to in the dictionary next week in the entry for "pedestrian." Aside from one well-thrown fade to Rueben Randle for his only touchdown pass of the evening, Lee's primary instruction for the night was just to stay the hell out of the way.

And, as it always seems to for Miles, that instruction worked to perfection. The Tiger defense and special teams forced four turnovers, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford combined for nearly 200 yards on the ground, the LSU secondary held Darron Thomas to a miserable 4.4 yards per his 54 attempts, and only a last-second Duck touchdown prevented the final from being a three-touchdown rout ... even though Oregon finished with more total yards than the Tigers.

We still don't think it's likely LSU wins an SEC championship with Lee at the helm and completion percentages just over 45 percent in the stat book. But looking at what the Tigers did against one of the nation's best teams Saturday, you can't rule it out, either.

2. Florida will have a say in who wins the East. First, the caveat: FAU is bad. Really, really bad. As in, "may finish dead last in the Sun Belt" bad. But still: the casual ease with which the Gators brushed the Owls aside -- scoring 24 points over the first four possessions, holding FAU to 30 rushing yards on 30 carries, outgaining the Owls by 331 yards -- was the farthest of far cries from last year's opening-week wheeze past Miami (Ohio). Bad team or not, Florida pounded the Owls the way an SEC contender ought to pound them.

Meanwhile, the two teams expected by many to top the East standings had less-than-comfortable Saturday nights. Georgia, of course, began 2011 looking for all the world like the same team that ended 2010. South Carolina spotted East Carolina a 17-0 lead by starting Connor Shaw, then ran off 56 of the game's next 70 points behind Stephen Garcia. Still, there's little doubt that being caught in a four-point game late in the third quarter and outgaining the Pirates by all of six yards wasn't what Steve Spurrier had in mind.

It's still too early to anoint the Gators East favorites, or even on even footing with the Gamecocks. (As for the Bulldogs, well, maybe if they'd just kept things close ...) But it's not too soon to recognize this as a three-team race until such time the SEC standings say otherwise.

3. Auburn should be happy, but it shouldn't be confused. Somewhat lost in analyzing the rampant flaws that led to the defending national champions' 38-28 deficit to Utah State has been the resolve and determination that led to their stunning comeback; for Gene Chizik to hold his senior-laden 2010 team together in the face of staggering deficits is one thing, to do so with his all-but senior-free 2011 team another. Going back to the 2009 Outback Bowl, Chizik has now won nine straight one-possession games, a testament to his team's remarkable fourth-quarter focus and resilience.

But being a resilient team is nice. Being a good team is better, and even the cardiac-inducing Tigers of last year didn't bother to let the likes of Utah State take them to the wire. Thrilled as Auburn fans have a right to be with the comeback, it also shouldn't make them blind to the kind of major issues that result in needing a borderline-miraculous comeback against a 4-8 WAC team in the first place. Much as the aforementioned Miami (Ohio) struggles proved an accurate foreshadowing of 2010's Gator troubles, so it's now safe to say Auburn will not challenge for the West title ... and against their brutal schedule, might need every ounce of that resilience just to make a bowl.  

4. Jacksonville State didn't show up to this year's party. The three SEC-on-FCS matchups Saturday were every bit as lopsided as the SEC might have hoped, with Arkansas blasting Missouri State, Tennessee handling Montana by an impressive 26-point margin, and even Vanderbilt getting into the act with a 45-14 thumping of Elon in James Franklin's debut. Exactly how much these victories mean is a matter of conjecture -- FCS schools, after all -- but at the very least the conference avoided the kind of egg on its face Ole Miss's infamous loss to JSU's Gamecocks produced in last year's opening week. (That egg is perhaps being saved for Jacksonville State's visit to Kentucky.)

5. Speaking of the Rebels, they still don't have a quarterback--or an offense. There's no shame in losing to a solid-enough team like BYU by a point, even at home. But totaling barely more than 200 yards and averaging all of 3.6 yards per-play, 2.2 yards per-rush, and 5.1 yards per-pass ... there's some shame in that. And the quarterback issues that have plagued the Rebels for years showed no signs of abating; Houston Nutt turned to JUCO pocket-passer Zack Stoudt for the bulk of the second half, and Stoudt rewarded him by fumbling the game away on the goalline. The road back to relevance for Nutt and the Rebels still looks plenty long.

6. AJ McCarron is Alabama's quarterback. The battle might continue officially, but we're ready to declare a winner.

Posted on: January 19, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Headset Reset: Five new faces in the MAC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

"Headset Reset " is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the five new head coaches in the MAC.

DON TREADWELL, Miami (Ohio) (pictured)

Why him? Because few assistant coaches in the country had a better 2010 than Treadwell, who turned a collection of average-looking talent into one of the Big Ten's most effective offenses at Michigan State and added a couple of victories as the Spartans' interim head coach to boot. For 2011, Treadwell needs to: capitalize on the momentum built by Mike Haywood's amazing 9-win turnaround in Oxford. A second straight MAC title isn't a necessity, but the pieces are in place for the kind of solid, winning season that would stamp the RedHawks as a contender for years to come. By 2014, Treadwell needs to have: won the MAC. With so much coaching turnover, there's a power vaccum at the top of the conference, and no reason Miami can't fill it. Chances Treadwell gets what he needs? Good-to-very good. Haywood left behind an excellent foundation and Treadwell's work in East Lansing suggests he's just the man to build upon it.

PETE LEMBO, Ball State

Why him? At just 40 years of age, Lembo already has 10 years of head coaching experience (all at the FCS level, no less) and just finished resuscitating a truly rotten Elon program. For 2011, Lembo needs to: just move the Cardinals in the right direction. Stan Parrish's dreadful two-season reign-of-error means Lembo has to get the program walking towards, say, not losing to Eastern Michigan before it runs towards bowls and league titles. By 2014, Lembo needs to have: put the Cardinals in position for a postseason berth; the Brady Hoke era showed it's far from impossible for the right coach. Chances Lembo gets what he needs? Not bad. BSU's not an easy gig, but Lembo's energy and FCS success mean he could be a sneakily good hire.

STEVE ADDAZIO, Temple

Why him? Not his efforts running the Florida offense, that's for sure, but his top-notch recruiting expertise, Northeast ties, and Urban Meyer -trained CEO skills won him the job all the same. For 2011, Addazio needs to: put together a coaching staff -- particularly at the coordinator positions -- that can take advantage of Addazio's good work on the recruiting trails. Maintaining Temple's perch near the top of the MAC East would be a nice signal that Al Golden's tenure wasn't a fluke, too. By 2014, Addazio needs to have: gotten the Owls back to a couple of bowl games; anything else would be a terrible waste of Golden's remarkable work. Chances Addazio gets what he needs? Better than you'd think. There's a reason Meyer tabbed Addazio as his replacement during his sabbatical; he's got the leadership skills necessary to head up a successful program ... if he can just find someone to call his plays for him.

DAVE DOEREN, Northern Illinois

Why him? NIU can't ask for a whole lot more than a long-time successful Big Ten defensive coordinator fresh off a visit to the Rose Bowl. For 2011, Doeren needs to: win the MAC? Those are high expectations for a first-time head coach, but the Huskies were the league's best team in 2010 and their offense returns almost entirely intact. By 2014, Doeren needs to have: won the MAC, no question mark. With the offensive talent left behind by Jerry Kill and Doeren's defensive acumen, the Huskies should find a way to finish what they started in 2010. Chances Doeren gets what he needs? Solid; none of the other new MAC coaches steps into a situation quite this friendly, and Doeren's defensive pedigree is promising.

DARRELL HAZELL, Kent State

Why him? No one the Golden Flashes could have hired knows the Ohio recruiting scene better than the longtime Buckeye receivers coach and recruiting ace. For 2011, Hazell needs to: find a difference-maker or two. KSU's been close to getting over the bowl hump, going 5-7 each of the past two seasons; if Hazell can recruit just a handful of actual play-makers, he could get them there in short order. By 2014, Hazell needs to have: reached the postseason. It would be a huge milestone for woebegone program that's had just two winning seasons since 1977, and has never played in a bowl as an FBS program. Chances Hazell gets what he needs? Like Addazio, it'll depend on who Hazell can hire for his staff, since he has no coordinating experience. But the talent level in Kent should definitely rise on his watch.

Posted on: December 19, 2010 7:02 pm
 

Ball State hires Pete Lembo

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The last few weeks it seems like there's been a mass exodus of coaches leaving the MAC conference.  Jerry Kill left Northern Illinois for Minnesota, Al Golden said goodbye to Temple to take the Miami job, and Mike Haywood left Miami (OH) to take over in Pittsburgh.  So far this offseason Ball State was the only school in the conference to lose its head coach by choice, and now it has found a replacement.

Ball State announced on Sunday that it had hired Pete Lembo to take over the program.

"We are extremely excited to have Pete Lembo join the Ball State family,” said Ball State athletic director Tom Collins in a statement. “The search for our next football coach included talking to a number of people in the football world. Coach Lembo’s name and credentials continued to surface as an outstanding candidate for Ball State University. We are looking forward to his contribution to the program and looking forward to getting started in preparation for Ball State football 2011.”

Lembo comes to Ball State from Elon, where he went 35-22 in five seasons.  Before that Lembo was the head coach at Lehigh, going 44-14 in five seasons. Ball State will be the first time Lembo has coached on the FBS level, either as a head coach or assistant.  Of course, considering it's Ball State, he probably won't even notice the difference.
 
 
 
 
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