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Tag:Frank Solich
Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:43 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Ohio 24, Utah State 23

Posted by Adam Jacobi

OHIO WON. Tyler Tettleton led the Ohio Bobcats on a 9-play, 60-yard drive in under two minutes and capped it with a desperation scramble into the end zone with 13 seconds left to give Ohio its first ever bowl victory, 24-23, over Utah State. Tettleton connected with LaVon Brazill, Ohio's all-time leading receiver, eight times for 106 yards and one touchdown in the winning effort.

WHY OHIO WON: It's hard to point to much good on the defensive front when a team gives up almost 350 yards of rushing and still wins the game, but the fact is it's a testament to Ohio's defense inside its own 30 yard line that Utah State's offense only scored 21 points (the last two came on a safety -- after Ohio stuffed Robert Turbin at the one-yard-line on USU's opening possession). Moreover, even though Utah State completed 13 of its 20 passes as a team, the production in those plays was so anemic -- under 5.0 yards per attempt -- that Utah State basically couldn't take advantage of Ohio's one-dimensional defensive scheming. Still, this was a one-point victory spread over 60 minutes, and to point to one factor as the defining factor would be to overstate its importance and understate the rest.

WHEN OHIO WON: Utah State had been in nine one-possession games this season, and Ohio seven of its own, so the fact that this one came down to the last minute was actually truer to form than if this had been an uncompetitive game for either team. As such, nobody can be surprised that Ohio's winning score came with 13 seconds left, or that Matt Weller's PAT on the TD gave Ohio its first lead of the entire game. That's just the way these two teams roll. Ohio had one last desperation attempt to score from its own 25, but the ensuing series of ineffectual laterals and general stand-aroundery (new word alert) from the Bobcats made it clear that a career in rugby was in nobody's future there. 

WHAT OHIO WON: For Ohio, the win has no shortage of historical meaning. It's the Bobcats' first bowl victory ever. It's their first 10-win season since a 10-1 campaign in 1968. It's Frank Solich's first bowl victory since winning the Alamo Bowl with Nebraska over Northwestern in 2000. And above all that, it's a great way to go into the offseason for the junior-to-be QB Tettleton and the rest of his teammates.

WHAT UTAH STATE LOST: It must be hard for Utah State not to feel some pangs of painful déjà vu after the series of last-minute September losses it endured to Auburn, Colorado State, and BYU. But the Aggies return their top two quarterbacks (Chuckie Keeton and Adam Kennedy) and most of their offense, head coach Gary Andersen just signed an extension and got a Utah State tattoo to commemorate the season, and now the team has this loss as a motivating factor going into next year. Think there won't be a recommitment to being the best-conditioned team in the 4th quarter after this year? These are the types of losses that push teams to higher levels of dedication in practice, and that's the type of work that pays off during the season.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Here is a full accounting of the 4th and 6 play that put Ohio on the 6-inch line with 40 seconds left: Tyler Tettleton throws to LaVon Brazill, who stretches out and lands the ball near the goal line, at which point he drops the ball and then recovers it on the goal line. The officials signal a touchdown. Head referee Penn Wagers then announces that Brazill recovered his own fumble and was down short of the goal line, but that the play is under further review. The play is reviewed for a couple minutes. Wagers announces that the ruling is confirmed. The officials reconvene. Wagers announces that Brazill fumbled the ball, then recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. The officials reconvene. Wagers announces that Brazill was down short of the goal line, and that the ball should be placed on the 6-inch line, and so it was.

The thing of it is, the correct ruling was obvious after just one viewing of the replay. Brazill lost the ball when he stretched and hit the ground with it, but his knee and hip were both down well before that. Additionall, the ball didn't cross the goal line until after he recovered his own fumble. How there could be such a breakdown in communication to lead to that series of misstatements is astonishing; this should have been a 30-second review. At the very least, though, the final ruling on the field was the correct one, and that's what's most important. 

FINAL GRADE: A. We wanted a close game, and this, like so many of each team's previous games this season, went down to the wire. Not a bad bowl game for the first day of the FBS postseason. May all bowls be as enjoyable as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Posted on: December 2, 2011 11:09 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:19 pm
 

QUICK HITS: NIU 23, Ohio 20 in MAC Championship

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: 
If it hadn't come in the MAC Championship Game, it might have been the ugliest win of NIU's season--four turnovers, a 20-0 halftime deficit, a whole series of hare-brained penalties. But because it did come in the MAC title game -- giving the Huskies their first MAC crown since 1983, and redeeming the NIU seniors for last year's shocking championship loss to Miami (Ohio) -- it's going to go down as the prettiest victory of them all. All-MAC quarterback Chandler Harnish had far from his best game (his 31 yards rushing was his lowest total vs. any team that wasn't Wisconsin) but threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and set up the last-second game-winning field goal with the help of Perez Ashford's brilliant 27-yard reception. For Ohio, a 43-year MAC title drought will continue--and for Frank Solich, this third conference championship game loss will likely hit hardest of all.

WHY NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: Their ... defense? The Huskies have been a sieve all season after graduating eight starters from the 2010 unit, and came into Friday's game ranked 91st in total defense, 94th in scoring. But led by junior defensive lineman Sean Progar (7 tackles, 4 QB hurries) and outstanding corner Jimmie Ward -- whose fourth-quarter interception marked the official turning point in NIU's late rally -- the Huskie defense vastly outplayed their much more celebrated colleagues on the offensive side. Three first-half NIU turnovers meant that only the good work by the Huskie D (including three stops inside their own red zone) was responsible for the halftime deficit wasn't already out of reach, and only one of Ohio's six second-half drives covered any more than 13 yards. And of course, thanks to Ohio kicker Matt Weller's first miss inside of 40 yards all season, the NIU defense didn't allow a point after the break--despite the fact that any Ohio score at any time would have effectively ended the game. 

Harnish has been the star for NIU all season. But tonight, all the Huskies that really mattered played on the other side of the ball.

WHEN NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: When Matt Sims' 33-yard field goal just snuck inside the left upright on the game's final play. The Huskies might not have even needed Sims' heroics if he'd hit an earlier extra point that would have put his team ahead 21-20 instead of stuck in a 20-20 tie, but no one will mind that much now.

WHAT NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: A trip to the GoDaddy.com Bowl to face Arkansas State in what promises to be one of the best under-the-radar bowl matchups of the season. And we mentioned this is their first MAC championship game win, right, and their first MAC title in 28 years? That's a pretty big deal.

WHAT OHIO LOST: Given how many opportunities the Bobcats had to put this game to bed, this likely ranks as the most brutal of their three MAC title game losses under Solich, an out-and-out heartbreaker. They'll still head to Boise for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but the sting of this one isn't going to start to fade by then ... if it ever does. 



Dave Doeren before-and-after photo credit: Getty
Posted on: February 3, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Coaches coming, going on the Nebraska staff

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Signing Day at Nebraska was plenty celebration-worthy when it came to the actual signing: the Huskers inked one of the Big Ten's best classes, and maybe the program's strongest since the 2007 haul that netted Prince Amukamara and Jared Crick.

But that didn't keep one local columnist from calling the day "awkward" and "uncomfortable" for Bo Pelini and the Huskers all the same, thanks to some questions swirling around the makeup of the Nebraska coaching staff.

Those start with the status of current Husker secondary coach Marvin Sanders. New Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson said Wednesday that Hoosier assistant Corey Raymond would be departing Bloomington for Lincoln to join Pelini's staff, and what's more, he'd be coaching the secondary. So where does that leave Sanders? Pelini :
"I'll address any staff questions at another time ... This is not the time or the place."
Given that "is this coach a member of your staff?" isn't exactly a complicated question, it's fair that the situation itself is complicated. Sanders was also a no-show at a recruiting event Wednesday night, though offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and receivers coach Ted Gilmore were also missing-in-action, sparking (still unfounded) rumors that Pelini had decided to initiate a more comprehensive staff overhaul.

Adding more fuel to the fire: per the above-linked Lincoln Journal-Star column , Pelini has already spoken to Oregon assistant and former Husker quarterback hero Scott Frost about potentially making to move to Lincoln.

But where Sanders looks likely to be on his way out (and the under-fire Watson may follow), another coach looks likely to be on his way in. Ohio linebackers coach Ross Els -- assistant to former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich and a former colleague of current Husker defensive coordinator Carl Pelini when Pelini was on staff at Ohio -- has emerged as the leading candidate to replace previous linebackers coach Mike Ekeler, who left Lincoln to coach at ... wait for it ... Indiana.

It's a tangled web the situation here is weaving. But there's a chance it becomes more tangled still before we know exactly who'll be coaching the Huskers in 2011.

Posted on: December 19, 2010 1:18 am
 

Bowl Grades: New Orleans Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Final score: Troy 48, Ohio 21

Troy

Offense: How good was the Troy offense? QB Corey Robinson was 21-27 for 262 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Um, that was at the half. Troy led at the break 38-7, and scored on every possession until the fourth quarter. Jerrel Jernigan and Tebiarus Gill combined for all five of Troy's touchdowns, and eventually combined for 144 yards from scrimmage. The Trojans would eventually register 602 yards from scrimmage, even after the reserves found their way onto the field. This is an easier A than Geology 101. Grade: A+

Defense: The Trojans did give up 21 points, but allowed only 99 yards on 30 rushes and four first downs on 12 third down conversion attempts. Ohio's offense was mostly stifled while the game was in any semblance of doubt. An interception by Jimmy Anderson in Troy territory set the tone for the game, and the Trojans never looked back. Grade: B

Coaching: Larry Blankeny put his team in a position to win by playing to his team's strengths. The Trojan offense is fast-paced and designed to highlight Robinson's accuracy, and the playcalling put the ball in Jernigan's hands in a variety of ways; Jernigan's first touchdown came out of a keeper from the Wildcat formation, and Jernigan would finish with three rushes on the day. Blankeny had his team fired up for the game, and the difference in effort was readily apparent throughout the first half -- at which point the game was pretty well decided. Grade: A

Ohio

Offense: The Ohio offense features a two-headed attack at quarterback; Boo Jackson is the better passer, while Phil Bates is the more athletic ball-carrier. Bates, in fact, threw one pass for the entire game; it was the Anderson interception on Ohio's second play from scrimmage mentioned earlier. So while Jackson threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns, almost none of it came in a first half that saw precisely one possession achieve a first down. Grade: D

Defense: The Bobcats did not play defense. Grade: INCOMPLETE

Coaching: What Frank Solich was thinking by staying conservative in the first half, even as Troy was running the Bobcats out of the Superdome, is beyond us. During the first two plays of each of the Bobcats' first half possessions, the Bobcats ran on 10 of 13 plays (the final drive of the half was one play long); those 10 rushes resulted in 10 yards and no first downs. Sure, the passing was 1-3 for six yards and an interception, but the message from Solich was clear: he had a formula, and he was sticking to it. It was a very ill-advised message to send, as it put Ohio out of any position to win. Grade: F

Final Grade

It would be unfair to give a failing grade to a game that featured such a well-functioning offense in the first three quarters AND a surprise giant manbeard courtesy of punter Will Goggans (above) in the fourth. There were aspects of the game that were fun to watch, even though the endgame drama had been sucked out of the Superdome by the end of the Trojans' fourth possession. Jerrel Jernigan is going to get a chance to succeed in the NFL, and we hope he makes the most of it; embarrassing the Ohio defense isn't exactly difficult to do, but he was the most athletic player on the field all the same, and some of the moves he made in stride were Sunday-worthy. It's just a shame that between the television audience and the laughably sparse Superdome crowd, probably under 100,000 people actually got to watch him. Still, this game was as anti-climactic as the first two, so we must grade sternly so as to send a message to the rest of the bowls: this will not do. Grade: D-

Posted on: December 16, 2010 12:04 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: New Orleans Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Why You Should Watch: As opposed to other early bowls, where teams occasionally enter the bowl feeling as though they did not reach their expectations on the season, the R and L Carriers New Orleans Bowl carries immense weight to both teams involved. Troy, making their third New Orleans Bowl appearance in the last five years, will be looking to finish the season strong after clinching a share of the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Ohio has yet to capture their first bowl win, and will be making their fifth postseason attempt in the Superdome. Last season, the Bobcats fell 21-17 to Marshall in the Little Caeser's Pizza Bowl. This will be the first time in school history the team has been to bowl games in back-to-back years. Much of that can be credited to a familiar face on the Ohio sideline: head coach Frank Solich. Solich, of Nebraska football fame. So even if you are failing to find a reason to fall in love with the matchup, it is at least worth a watch for the "Where are they now?" factor.

Keys To Victory for Troy: Troy will be able to create offensive opportunities with their high-powered spread scheme, but with 15 interceptions on the season, freshman quarterback Corey Robinson can be a liability for the Trojans. The responsibility will fall on their rushing game to keep the Ohio secondary honest. The three-man attack of DuJuan Harris, Shawn Southward, and Chris Anderson will try and utilize seams opened by the spread attack to balance the offense. That will hopefully leave dangerous slot receiver Jerrel Jernigan an opportunity to get the ball in open field - where he has the best chance to hurt the Bearcats.

Keys To Victory for Ohio: Ohio ranks just outside the top 10 nationally with 17 interceptions on the season, and that secondary will be looking to take advantage of the interception-prone Robinson. Additionally, the offensive line will need to provide quarterback Boo Jackson with protection against Troy's front four. If the Trojans line can penetrate into the backfield and disrupt the timing of Jackson's reads, they will be masking their greatest weakness: the run. The Bobcats have utilize a lot of different rushers out of the Pistol formation, and if they can keep Troy on their heels they can dictate the pace of the game. Jackson has shown the ability to manage games well, but he cannot be counted on to play catch up with the deep ball. Ohio needs to avoid an early deficit to keep the game close.

The New Orleans Bowl is like: A surprisingly good appetizer. Sure, you ordered the artichoke dip because you nothing on the menu jumped out at you and you figured "why not?" The night cap on the first day of the bowl season may seem like it has a "why not" feel. But then once you dig in you find it to be surprisingly pleasing, so much that you wonder why you ever imagined skipping the course at all. Troy and Ohio both have plenty of reason to be fired up to finish their season in the Superdome, and they match up well enough to promise a close game. Many of the athletes on these teams may have been just one or two notches away from big-time football, don't think that running onto the field in New Orleans won't have that fell for them.

Posted on: November 22, 2010 10:00 pm
 

Kent State coach Martin to step down after season

Posted by Adam Jacobi

When the MAC opens its football season in 2011, it'll do so without its current longest-serving head coach. According to a statement by Kent State last night, head coach Doug Martin will step down after the end of this season. Martin is 47 years old and has spent all of seven years at the helm of the Golden Flashes; in the MAC, that qualifies for longest-tenured. Next season, that title will belong to Frank Solich of Ohio and Bill Cubit at Western Michigan.

This serial instability is pretty much par for the course in the MAC, though; even if no other MAC coaches leave their post between now and the end of August -- always a dicey proposition -- there'll be only three coaches in the 12-team conference with more than three years atop their programs in 2011: Solich, Cubit, and Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill. That means that a substantial amount of players on MAC football teams have been at their schools longer than their coaches have. And it's not as if this is a new development; the last coaches at each school were only there for an average of 6.2 years, and nine either resigned, retired, or got fired. It's really, really hard to build a program in an environment that basically ensures such a high failure rate.

In a minor football conference, though, there's a fine line between stability and stagnation, and that's certainly the case in the MAC. It's hard to get fans (and boosters) excited if the team just went through a sub-.500 season and didn't make any wholesale changes, after all. But administrators routinely underestimate the destructive effects of a coaching change on a program, and that appears to be the case here again. Yes, Martin resigned, but it's hard to imagine he could have the Kent State job back if he had asked for it.

Kent State has announced that it is beginning a national search for Martin's successor immediately. And so the gears of abject mediocrity grind on, endlessly greased with the entrails of careers that barely stand a chance.

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