Tag:Geno Smith
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:29 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:45 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Breaking down who won and who lost in the SEC on National Signing Day:

 

WINNERS

Mike Slive. Anyone who doubted Missouri's conference cred had to fall silent for at least a day as the Tigers introduced the nation's No. 1 recruit into the SEC East. The rest of the Tigers' class may not be as deep as many of their new league rivals', but when said class also includes a star as overpoweringly bright as Dorial Green-Beckham, it's hard to see any flaws.

Players to watch: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, G Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk.  

Alabama. Yawn--just another No. 1-ranked class of 25-plus blue-chips for Nick Saban's perpetual recruiting motion machine, with the surprise signing of highly regarded Virginia defensive tackle Korren Kirven the icing on a cake the Crimson Tide had baked long before Wednesday. By his own admission, Saban said they "didn't have any surprises," for worse or -- this being Alabama -- better. Once Kirven had declared and top safety Landon Collins had finally gotten his mother on board, the drama in Tuscaloosa was over.

In fact, after a big Junior Day haul, Saban and Co. are already off and sprinting for 2013. Come next February, it's likely there won't be any surprises then either. It may not be exciting for anyone hoping for stunning announcements, big rankings swings, and overheated speculation -- the Tide may have used it all up in last year's Cyrus Kouandjio saga -- but it's the same lethally efficient formula that's netted Saban two national championships in three seasons. Nothing much changed for Alabama on Signing Day, but unfortunately for the rest of college football, that means nothing much has changed when it comes to the difficulty of knocking the Tide off their perch, either.

Players to watch: S Landon CollinsRB T.J. YeldonCB Geno SmithVideo: Saban on being No. 1 on the recruiting trail. 



James Franklin. When Franklin's blazingly hot start last summer netted him a commitment from All-American running back Brian Kimbrow, the nation's no. 52 player, the response from many observers around the SEC was "That's impressive. It'll be even more impressive if he actually signs."

Not every one of those early Vanderbilt commitments made it across the finish line. But Kimbrow did, along with 20 other quality players that had the 'Dores in the CBS Sports National Signing Day  Top 25 a week beforehand. Vandy couldn't quite hang on to that lofty ranking, but even having the SEC's eternal doormat in a "top 25" conversation is an achievement for Franklin arguably on par with Saban's in Tuscaloosa. 

Players to watch: RB Brian Kimbrow, DE Caleb AzubikeQB Pat Robinette.

Steve Spurrier's nerves. South Carolina isn't traditionally the first team you'd think of when looking for a comparison to Alabama when it comes to recruiting success. But the Gamecocks might be this year, thanks in part to joining the Tide in the team rankings top 10 (believe it or not, Carolina quietly finished third in the SEC). But like Alabama, the Gamecocks also enjoyed a pleasantly uneventful Signing Day, with 19 of the 25 Gamecocks who signed today having already committed before the 2011 season started. 

“It’s been a peaceful Signing Day today, which was kind of nice,” recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said. And when you peacefully land players like Shaq Roland and Jordan Diggs, doubly so.

Players to watch: WR Shaq Roland, RB Mike DavisDB Jordan Diggs. Video: Spurrier talks recruiting impact. 


LOSERS

Mark Richt's nerves. On the other side of the spectrum from Alabama and South Carolina, there was Georgia's National Signing Day. The day started with the disappointment of missing out on receivers Cordarelle Patterson (Tennessee) and JaQuay Williams (Auburn) (leaving the Bulldogs with just one wideout in the class), then picked up with a commitment from Maxpreps top 100 linebacker/safety Josh Harvey-ClemonsBut that a.m. joy dissolved into p.m. worry as Harvey-Clemons grandfather and legal guardian reportedly refused to sign Harvey-Clemons' letter of intent. Adding insult to injury, Richt's premature public comments on Harvey-Clemons may have even constituted a minor NCAA violation.

With or without Harvey-Clemons, the Bulldogs are still going to boast a star-studded class with nearly as many top 100 recruits (five, or six) as any team in the country. But the potential of losing Harvey-Clemons to hated Florida with the Gators already sitting some 15 spots ahead in the team rankings is likely to cause a restless evening (or evenings) in Athens all the same.

Players to watch: OL John TheusRB Keith MarshallDE Jordan Jenkins. Video: Will Muschamp on Florida's Signing Day.

LSU's in-state clout. There's about 105 FBS teams or so that would gladly trade classes with LSU's, especially after the addition of out-of-state gems like Oxford (Ala.) linebacker Kwon AlexanderBut in a somewhat down year for talent in the Pelican State, the Tigers had to lock down the borders to put together a truly elite class, and that didn't happen--not only did Collins and highly-regarded linebacker Denzel Devall stick with their Alabama commitments, Texas shocked Les Miles by snatching away the Tigers' blue-chip linebacker Torshiro Davis. (Davis rubbed salt in Miles's wound by saying LSU's players "don't seem that happy.")

Those were the top three players in the state by many accounts, and LSU didn't land any of them. It's not the end of the world, but for a program built on an annual harvest of blue-chippers from the bayou, it's a worrying sign all the same.

Players to watch: OL Vadal Alexander, WR Avery Johnson, LB Trey Granier.  

Arkansas. As usual under Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks signed a respectable-but-not-spectacular class that Petrino will no doubt turn into something far more than the sum of its parts once it comes together in Fayetteville. But to come as close as they reportedly did to signing the player that would have helped cement their status as a national power and come up short has to sting.

Players to watch: LB Otha Peters, OG Jeremy Ward, RB Jonathan Williams.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

Auburn. On the good side: wide receivers JaQuay Williams and Ricardo Louis each stuck with their original commitments to the Tigers, offensive lineman Will Adams flipped from Georgia Tech, and top tackle Avery Young gave Auburn a top-100 cornerstone at Georgia and Florida's expense. On the not so good side: Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, Leonard Williams, Alexander and Jordan Moore all had Auburn as one of their finalists and all went in a different direction. Gene Chizik's boom-or-bust Signing Day somehow managed to neither quite boom nor bust.

Players to watch: QB Zeke Pike, RB Jovon Robinson, DB T.J. Davis. And to wrap things up, here's some video of Derek Dooley:


Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:18 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:55 am
 

QUICK HITS: West Virginia 70, Clemson 33



Posted by Chip Patterson


Clemson entered the Orange Bowl with hopes of repeating history, on the 30th anniversary of the program's last trip to this game - also their last National Championship. The head coach of that team, the legendary Danny Ford, was honored before the game. All-American linebacker Jeff Davis was one of the Tigers' honorary captains. On Wednesday night, the Tigers wrote themselves into the BCS history books.

Just not for the reasons head coach Dabo Swinney would have liked.

Inestad it was West Virginia instead who made history, and they made it in several different ways.

First, as a team:
- Most first half points (49) in any bowl game, ever.
- Most points (70) in any bowl game, ever.

Then some individuals:
- Geno Smith's 6 passing touchdowns are new Orange and BCS bowl records, surpassing Matt Leinart (2005) and Tom Brady (2000).  The six touchdowns also tie the record for touchdowns scored by a single player in any bowl game, ever.
- Tavon Austin's 4 receiving touchdowns are new Orange Bowl and BCS bowl records, and tie the record for any bowl game, ever.

WEST VIRGNIA WON. A high-scoring game was expected, but no one imagined it would be so lopsided in favor of the Mountaineers, as the West Virginia re-wrote the Orange Bowl record books in a 70-33 rout of Clemson.

HOW WEST VIRGINIA WON: Both teams played a dead-even first quarter that met the pregame expectations, with Clemson leading 21-17 and both putting up over 150 total yards of offense. But West Virginia took advantage of three Clemson turnovers in the second quarter and some shaky play by the Tigers' secondary to outscore the Tigers 35-3 in the period. The 49 points allowed in a half by Clemson's defense was the most in any bowl game ever.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: The second quarter slaughter began at the end of a very dominant Clemson drive, which was featured a 39-yard run by Andre Ellington to set up 1st and Goal from the three yard line. But when Ellington was stood up by the pile at the goal line on the following play, West Virginia cornerback Darwin Cook jumped in and stripped the ball from his hands. While most players were still involved in the pile-up at the goal line, Cook dashed 99 yards the other way for a West Virginia touchdown. The Tigers did not come close to reaching the goal line again until DeAndre Hopkins scored with 1:37 left in the third quarter.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: Respect on the biggest stage. With all the talk about conference realignment and BCS automatic bids, the Mountaineers would like to remind you they are a damn good football team. For all the talk about West Virginia's offense, they would not have been in the position to score if it wasn't for the defense forcing turnovers and holding the Tigers from the end zone for nearly 30 minutes of game time between the 2nd and 3rd quarter.

WHAT CLEMSON LOST: A historic meltdown on what many thought would be a historic night for the Tigers. After winning the ACC Championship, head coach Dabo Swinney thought the program "broke through walls" and began moving forward into the status of the elite. Many figured an Orange Bowl win would help cement that status as a rising program. Clemson fans better hope there is not another 30 year drought before their next Orange Bowl appearance, or else this memory will last a long time.

THAT WAS CRAZY. After the aforementioned Darwin Cook strip-touchdown, the cornerback ran through the end zone and was carried by his momentum right into Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot. Cook proceeded to clothesline the big fuzzy fruit, before hitting the barricade at the back of the end zone. (Check out this .gif, via SB Nation)

BOWL GRADE: A+/F. All depends on your perspective for this one. For a West Virginia fan, the dismantling of Clemson on the national stage was sweet redemption from weeks of naysaying about their place in this game. The 8-5 Mountaineers were deemed "not good enough for a BCS bowl game" by many, and the beatdown was a huge West Virginian middle finger to those doubters. For Clemson? This was arguably the program's worst loss in recent memory. On the 30th anniversary of their last National Championship, with the head coach and star linebacker in attendance; the Tigers were ripped apart. The ultimate "Clemson pulling a Clemson," as some might choose to say.

Keep up with all the latest results and preview the rest of the bowls at our Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:25 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:57 pm
 

Orange Bowl coaches ready for a close BCS game

Posted by Chip Patterson

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The four teams in action in the first BCS bowl games combined to score 162 points on the first college football day of 2012. But despite all the offense on display, the outcome of each game has been one score or less and determined by big plays on defense and in special teams.

Whether it was Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis dropping the ball just inches from the sideline, or Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson unable to hit a potential game-winning field goal from 35-yards out; the plays that have determined the first BCS bowl games have come in unexpected ways.

"You can't relax, however many plays are in the game, 160, plus your special teams, you've got to play every play like it's the play that's going to determine the outcome of the game," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney explained on Tuesday.  "That's the mentality you have to have, because when you look back, that's what you see. It's usually four, five, six plays that changed momentum, created opportunity and so forth."

In fact, neither of these teams would be in South Beach this week if it wasn't for a few key plays that led to wins earlier this season. Clemson's hot 8-0 start included huge comeback wins against Maryland, Florida State, and Auburn. West Virginia overcame a fourth-quarter deficit in each of their final four wins in the regular season. If Monday's BCS games were any indication of the way the Orange Bowl will play out, both of these squads should be ready to face the challenge.

"It's a three-sided game, and that's the one thing that we learned about a month and a half ago when we lost to Louisville," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen.  "Our team came together, and on all three sides of the ball we figured out that if all three sides of the ball don't play together and pick each other up to try to be fighting for the same goal, then you're probably not going to win very many games.  That's the one thing we did over the course of the last three games was play together."

More highlights from Dabo Swinney and Dana Holgorsen on Tuesday:

- While there are many upsides for the extra preparation time given to BCS bowl participants, Holgorsen did offer one interesting take on a downside. As coaches try to to do the best to prepare for the contest, the West Virginia head coach pointed out it is important not to over prepare.

"Yeah, you've got to be careful with time on your hands," Holgorsen said.  "Coaches have a tendency to outsmart themselves at times, so you've got to figure out what your team does well, which we've had a lot of time here in the last four months to figure out what our team does well, and we've just got to put them in those positions to be successful."

- Dwayne Allen is clearly a focus of this game. He is a key weapon that needs to get going for Clemson, and one of the primary concerns for West Virginia's defense. Dabo Swinney, ever the salesman for his program, gave his glowing explanation of why Allen is the best tight end in the country.

"Well, Dwayne is 6'4", about 255. He runs like a wide out. He blocks like a tackle and has really improved in other parts of his game as far as running with the ball after the catch, his flexibility, and he's got great ball skills, and he's got a high football IQ. So you put those things together, you're going to get a very, very good football player. He's tough and aggressive, likes to play. The moment is never too big for him. And he practices hard, studies and prepares."

- There was plenty of discussion on both sides about the opportunity to showcase and promote their program around South Florida this week. Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, and Ivan McCartney all hail from nearby Mirmar, and Swinney mentioned a Monday night visit from the family of wide receiver Jacoby Ford, now with the Oakland Raiders. With the recruiting potential in the area - not to mention the competition to land those recruits - the opportunity to play in South Florida as the only bowl game of the night is one that any program would hope to seize.

- Both teams spent Monday night attending the Miami Heat's game against the Atlanta Hawks in American Airlines Arena. The experience of watching LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and the rest of the defending Eastern Conference Champs in person was a huge deal to the players.

Also? A huge deal to Dabo Swinney. When asked about the most fun part of the week, Clemson's head coach quickly and enthusiastically mentioned Monday night's activity.

"Lebron James, man! Even thought I didn't get to meet him, I love basketball. That was pretty neat to get to go down to the Heat game. What a great arena that is. I really enjoyed that."

For all the latest on Clemson and West Virginia up until kickoff, check out the Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 11:40 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Orange Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the matchup that could decide the Orange Bowl

Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia vs. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

West Virginia's first team All-Big East linebacker is one of the most important pieces of the defense, and will be counted on step up in his last game as a Mountaineer. The redshirt senior is tied with offensive lineman Don Barclay and defensive end Julian Miller as the most experienced players on the team, with all three appearing in 51 career games for West Virginia. Goode has done everything the Mountaineers needed this season - from starting games at all three linebacker positions to recording seven tackles and forcing the game-saving fumble against USF in the regular season finale.

Now Goode needs to deliver one last memorable performance in order to contain the many weapons in Clemson's offense. Arguably his toughest challenge will be keeping an eye on tight end Dwayne Allen. In head coach Dabo Swinney's own words: Allen runs like a wide out, blocks like a tackle, and has improved his flexibility and football IQ. With dangerous deep threats like Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins on the outside, the duties of containing Allen will often fall on the linebackers.

Clemson's goal will be to exploit holes in the West Virginia coverage the way Syracuse did with Nick Provo in their 49-23 upset victory earlier this season. The Mountaineers struggled to keep Provo marked, particularly in the red zone, and eventually gave up six catches for 61 yards and three touchdowns. Dwayne Allen is arguably an enhanced version of Provo, and Goode must help the linebackers keep the 6-foot-4 Mackey Award winner from pulling down passes in the end zone if they hope to leave South Beach with their third BCS bowl win since 2005.

For all the latest on Clemson and West Virginia up until kickoff, check out the Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:49 am
 

Keys to the Game: Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: They maintain a balanced offensive attack. Before the ACC Championship Game, CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik suggested that Clemson had strayed from a run/pass balance late in the regular season. He told me in the moments leading up to kickoff that if they brought that balance back against the Hokies, Clemson would win. The Tigers threw the ball 30 times and ran 45 times, led by Andre Ellington's 125 yard performance, and ran away in the second half of a 38-10 win. So heading into another primetime battle with a potent opponent, I'll piggy back Travis' key. Ellington will play a huge role in keeping West Virginia's defense honest. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 scheme has given quarterbacks as talented as Sam Bradford trouble in bowl games, and the best way to open up the passing attack is make them fear the run. With Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Dwayne Allen all healthy there should be opportunities for mismatches with the coverage. But you lessen the chances of getting those matchups if the opposition doesn't respect your ground game.

WEST VIRGINIA WILL WIN IF: The offensive line can protect Geno Smith from the Clemson pass rush. With leading rusher Dustin Garrison sidelined earlier this week with a knee injury, the Mountaineers will rely on the offensive line and backup running back Shawne Alston to keep Clemson's pass rush at bay. In the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers held All-ACC running back David Wilson to a season-low 32 yards on 11 carries. Once the Tigers had neutralized Wilson and forced the Hokies to become one-dimensional, defensive end Andre Branch explained it was time to "pin our ears back" and get after Logan Thomas. Branch, Brandon Thompson, and the rest of the Tigers' pass rush terrorized Thomas throughout the second half. The onus will be on the Mountaineers offensive line to give Smith enough time to check through his progressions and find a receiver in space. With Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Ivan McCartney on the outside Smith should be able to find an open man against a secondary that has given up at least seven combined touchdowns and at least 200 yards in their last three contests.

X-FACTOR: Dwayne Allen. Arguably West Virginia's worst loss this season came at the hands of Syracuse in a 49-23 blowout loss in the Carrier Dome. The Mountaineers defense was burned by all-conference tight end Nick Provo, who had a team-high six catches for 61 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Jeff Casteel's unit will see a similar threat to Provo in Clemson's all-conference tight end Dwayne Allen. At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, the Mackey Award winner has used the time off to recover from a nagging toe injury that limited him late in the regular season. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris moves Allen around the formation, and he is one player the Mountaineers cannot lose track of anytime he is an eligible receiver.

For all the latest on Clemson and West Virginia up until kickoff, check out the Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:55 pm
 

West Virginia loses top rusher Garrison for bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As West Virginia gears up for its first Orange Bowl in program history on January 4 against Clemson, it will have to do so without its leading rusher. Freshman tailback Dustin Garrison injured the ACL and MCL in his left knee on Friday, according to the WVU athletic department. The torn ligaments will require surgery and six months of rehabilitation.

Garrison tallied 742 yards and six touchdowns on the season, and the next-highest rusher for the Mountaineers is junior tailback Shawne Alston, who has 77 rushes for 339 yards and two scores on the year. Freshman running backs Vernard Roberts and Andrew Buie have also seen limited action for the Mountaineers, but their carries have largely dried up as the season has gone on.

Moreover, West Virginia's strength lies mainly in its passing game, and the Mountaineers' ACC-leading aerial assault should be at full strength for the game. QB Geno Smith has led West Virginia to 35 points a game and over 340 passing yards per game, so as long as that personnel remains in place, the loss of Garrison shouldn't be too devastating for the Mountaineers. But still, this is the loss of a leading rusher we're talking about, so unplanned adjustments will have to be made over the next few days.

For more Orange Bowl updates, check out CBSSports.com's Orange Bowl Pregame.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 10:58 am
 

PODCAST: Previewing Sugar Bowl & Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

The CBS Sports College Football Podcast begins to wind down the Bowl Preview Series with a close look at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 and Orange Bowl on Jan. 4. The ACC is sending two teams to BCS bowls for the first time in conference history, and hope Virginia Tech and Clemson can improve the league's 1-4 record in the last five BCS appearances.

Brady Hoke's impressive first year at the helm takes the Wolverines to New Orleans, and Denard Robinson will look to find the end zone against a Hokies defense that has allowed just 17.2 points per game. ACC and Big East fans are expecting fireworks in South Beach with the high-powered offenses of West Virginia and Clemson on the field, but tune in to hear what Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst think will be the difference-maker in the first BCS head coaching experience for both Dana Holgorsen and Dabo Swinney.

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Get all the latest on both bowl games right up until kickoff at the Sugar Bowl Pregame and Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 10:56 am
 

PODCAST: Wrapping up the ACC and Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

It must be the holiday season, because Adam Aizer and I are in the giving sprit and delivering two conference wrap-up podcasts for the price of one. In this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, Adam and I put a bow on the regular season in the ACC and the Big East and break down the best and worst of both conferences.

Pleasant surprises, biggest disappointments, conference awards and the best games of the season. What worked well for Mike London in his second year at Virginia? What didn't work well for Todd Graham at Pittsburgh and Randy Edsall at Maryland? We run down each team in the ACC and Big East and tell you what worked and what didn't in 2011.


Your emails could be read on the next edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, so send them in to podcast[at]cbsinteractive [dot] com.

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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