Tag:Kenny Bell
Posted on: October 29, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 4:45 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Nebraska 24, Michigan State 3

Posted by Adam Jacobi

NEBRASKA WON. The Nebraska defense was stout in victory on Saturday, holding No. 11 Michigan State to just 187 yards and 12 first downs in an easy 24-3 victory at Memorial Stadium. Kirk Cousins was especially ineffective for MSU, going 11/27 for 86 yards and one interception. Meanwhile, Rex Burkhead was an absolute monster for the Huskers, with 35 carries for 130 yards and two scores, and a 27-yard touchdown reception on top of it.

WHY NEBRASKA WON: It would be wrong to take anything away from Nebraska's effort on Saturday, which was both exemplary and the best of the Huskers' season. Having said that, there was only one team that came ready to play in this game. Nebraska routinely converted 3rd and long on what was supposed to be the best defense in the Big Ten, and the toll of those physical drives on the MSU defense became readily evident down the stretch.

WHEN NEBRASKA WON: The game was still well within reach for MSU with the game at 17-3 midway through the third quarter. Rex Burkhead had just left the field with an injury and Nebraska faced a 3rd and 11 near midfield. Unfortunately, Taylor Martinez found Kenny Bell for a 20-yard first down, Burkhead came back in the game on the next snap, and Martinez found Burkhead out of the backfield for an easy 27-yard touchdown on the next play. That pushed the score to 24-3, where it would remain for the rest of the game, and MSU never threatened to score after that.

WHAT NEBRASKA WON: Nebraska's not only tied for the division lead now, it's got a tiebreaker lead on the Spartans. Road games at Michigan and PSU also loom for the Huskers, but still: this was a huge win. The Husker defense, which had long been a weak spot of this season's team (even before Jared Crick was lost for the year), was dominant against the Spartan offense. For once, Nebraska looked like it belonged in the Top 15, and it's got its biggest win of the season to show for it.

WHAT MICHIGAN STATE LOST: Gone for Michigan State is its perfect conference record, which is the biggie here; the Spartans are now in a four-team tie with one loss in the Legends Division (pending Iowa's game at Minnesota). But this is the second time that Michigan State has been utterly stifled on offense this season, which is shocking given the amount of talent at every portion of the MSU offense. The Spartans are still in decent shape in the division race, but their offensive production on road games has been disturbingly absent. That can't continue. 

THAT WAS CRAZY: Kirk Cousins threw an interception. Just one. It should have been more, but on 3rd and goal near the end of the first half, an errant Cousins throw found its way into the waiting arms of Nebraska DB Daimion Stafford, who was off to the races for what was about to be a 95-yard pick-six. Unfortunately, Stafford was so eager to take the interception to the house that he never secured possession, and he dropped the ball to the field for a harmless incompletion. MSU took the field goal instead to make the score 10-3. So yes, a 24-3 loss is bad enough, but this could have easily been a 31-0 win for Nebraska.

Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:03 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 3:11 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 8


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 8.

WINNERS: Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. On the eve of the 2011 season, the LSU quarterback situation was supposed to be the team's Achilles heel. The senior Lee had spent his entire career as erratic at best and a turnover machine at worst; Jefferson was suspended and might never return; and despite intense fan interest, Zach Mettenberger hadn't been able to beat either out for so much as the backup's job. But after the Tigers' demolition of Auburn, it's time to give the Bayou Bengal quarterbacks their due: not only are they not a weakness, they're a major reason LSU is 8-0 and now preparing for an undefeated megatilt against Alabama.

The stats are argument enough: a combined 16-of-23 for 219 yards (9.5 an attempt), three touchdowns, and no interceptions. (This was LSU's fifth straight game without a turnover, by the way.) But the two touchdown throws they made in the second quarter -- one by each, both of 40-plus yards, both to the rapidly-improving Rueben Randle -- are an even better argument. On the first, Jefferson was leveled by an Auburn blitzer and stood strong in the pocket to deliver Randle a precision strike; on the second, Lee "dropped it in a bucket," as they say, allowing Randle to beat double coverage. The end result was that a quarter that began 7-3 and with Auburn in a dogfight ended with LSU up 21-3 and the game over. If those two throws are examples of what LSU can expect in two weeks, even Alabama might not be good enough to beat the Tigers. At this point, it seems obvious no one else in the SEC can.

LOSER: Houston Nutt. Honestly, this isn't entirely fair to Nutt, who just coaxed the best performance from his team all season and has nothing to hang his head about, final score-wise; losing to a legitimate top-10 outfit like the Razorbacks by five points is an accomplishment, especially when the outcome is still in doubt in the final minute. Still: a 17-0 second-quarter lead over that kind of opponent -- not only one of the best teams in the country, but an opponent whose fans enjoy needling Nutt and the Rebels about their failures -- is the kind of golden opportunity that Nutt and his team simply couldn't afford to let slip through their fingers. In the end, solid performance or not, it's just Nutt's 10th straight SEC loss ... and another few before the year's end could be the end for Nutt.

WINNER: James Franklin. On the other end of the spectrum, we've got a coach for whom beating Army isn't really that big a deal ... but beating them by a comprehensive 23 points is. The Commodores had only one week of study for the Black Knights' triple option and held them to 288 total yards anyway, forcing three turnovers in the process. The 'Dore running game racked up a stout 344 yards and Vandy may have finally found a quarterback in Jordan Rodgers, who didn't set the world on fire (10-of-27, one touchdown, two interceptions) but whose 10 completions did go for better than 18 yards a pop. In short: this was the kind of performance that suggests the 'Dores 3-3 record wasn't a fluke, and that they could go bowling in Franklin's first year. It won't be enough to win him Coach of the Year with Miles and Saban around, but it's still a heck of a job.

LOSER: Drama. Another week, another series of blowouts in the SEC. Save for Arkansas's escape from Oxford, the average score of the four Week 8 games involving SEC teams was 41-13. After another week of winning their two games by some outrageous combined score -- 66 points' worth this go-round -- LSU's and Alabama's average margin of victory has ballooned to a full 30 points. It's a good thing the Tide and Tigers have next week off; not only will it give us another week to savor the buildup to the Game of the Century of the Year, but maybe it'll give us a chance to enjoy more than a single helping of competitive SEC football.

WINNERS: Alabama's receiving corps. The Tide's wideouts were alleged to be the team's one weakness entering this season, and doubly so once Duron Carter was ruled ineligible. But Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and Kenny Bell made that expectation look more ridiculous than ever in the second half Saturday night, hauling in acrobatic circus grab after acrobatic circus grab and eventually totaling 11 receptions, 213 yards, and Bell's game-clinching touchdown. AJ McCarron didn't have his best night, but Maze, Hanks, and Bell made him look awfully good all the same.

LOSERS: Auburn's special teams. The way LSU (and their quarterbacks in particular) are playing, it didn't matter what Auburn did today. But the one area where you can't show any weakness vs. Les Miles's team is in special teams, where they will kill you with field position if given the opportunity. Given the Tigers' strength in this area so far in 2011, Gene Chizik was probably expecting a draw in this phase, at least. Nope: punter Steven Clark had his worst game of the year, repeatedly failing to pin LSU deep when given the chance, and dynamic freshman kick returner Tre Mason fumbled away a second-half return to turn the game from decisive LSU advantage to full-on rout.

LOSER: Matt Simms. Ugly as Simms' final line in the box score was (8-of-17, 3.4 yards an attempt, no touchdowns, one interception), he was facing Alabama on the road; lots of quarterbacks would have looked just as bad, and Simms did play a role in getting the Vols to a 6-6 halftime tie. But Derek Dooley's decision to burn Justin Worley's redshirt late could indicate a move towards getting the freshman snaps at Simms' expense, and though he had a lot of company on the Tennessee sideline, he wasn't able to do much in preventing the Tide onslaught in the second half.

WINNER: College football. No. 1 LSU and (now consensus) No. 2 Alabama are going to meet in two weeks, both undefeated, both extremely heavy favorites to finish their regular season schedule perfect and run a way with the SEC East with a win over the other, both having established their national championship contender's bona fides weeks ago. It really, really, really shouldn't get any better than what we now know we'll see Nov. 5.


Posted on: October 22, 2011 11:02 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 11:03 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 2 Alabama 37, Tennessee 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ALABAMA WON: The halftime score in Tuscaloosa was one of the most stunning of the season: Alabama 6, Tennessee 6. The score at the end of the third quarter -- after a 75-yard Tide TD drive, a stop of the Vols on 4th-and-inches, and two more quick touchdowns -- made a lot more sense. Still, lopsided final score or not, Nick Saban won't be happy--particularly with a rushing attack that only accumulated 35 first-half yards and finished averaging barely more than 4 a carry. Trent Richardson had his streak of five straight 100-yard games snapped, finishing with 77.

WHY ALABAMA WON: Because in the end, the Alabama defense is still the Alabama defense. Sure, the Vols got more push up front and more done on the ground than expected--those 61 first-half yards represented more than the Tide had given up in their first three SEC games combined. And Matt Simms was able to make the occasional play through the first 30 minutes, despite his expectedly ugly final line (8-of-17, 58 yards, 0 TDs, 1 pick). 

But the Volunteers' second-half possessions went like this: three plays, punt; four plays, turnover on downs; three plays, punt; three plays, punt; one play, interception; one play, fumble recovery; four plays, turnover on downs. For the Tide defense for the half, that's infinity more turnovers forced (two) than first downs allowed (zero). When the night was over, despite the "strong" start, the Vols had gained all of 154 total yards. How good is the Tide defense? The team played its worst game overall in weeks--and still won by 31

WHEN ALABAMA WON: Give Derek Dooley credit: he came to Tuscaloosa aiming to win. And that's why, down 13-6 and facing a 4th-and-inches on his own 39 early in the third quarter, he kept his offense on the field. Simms appears to have earned the first down with the sneak, but a controversial spot put the ball just short of the marker and was upheld by replay. The very next snap, McCarron threw 39 yards to Kenny Bell, touchdown, 20-6. And in terms of deciding a winner, that was that.

WHAT ALABAMA WON: An undefeated record as they prepare to host undefeated LSU in two weeks in the Game of the Century of the Year. Whatever else you want to say about the Tide's performance tonight (and in the end, most of those things should be positive), that's all they really needed.

WHAT TENNESSEE LOST: The redshirt on freshman quarterback Justin Worley, surprisingly, who entered the game in the fourth quarter to hand off and nothing else; it may be an indication Dooley is planning on handing Worley a start in the Vols' next game. Other than that, not much--the Vols gave Alabama something close to their best shot. It just wasn't enough.


Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:43 am
 

Duron Carter to redshirt for Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Barring a major surprise, the season-long Duron Carter Watch is officially over for 2011.

The JUCO wide receiver transfer to Alabama (and son of NFL legend Cris Carter) has been waiting for full academic clearance since the day of his enrollment in Tuscaloosa, having eventually received the go-ahead to practice but still not to play. That clearance has been believed to have been an "any day now" development for weeks, but Nick Saban told reporters Wednesday that he no longer expects it to arrive this season.

"There's one piece of information that we did not receive, have not ever received and may not ever receive," Saban said. "It doesn't look like he will be eligible for this season."

Carter remains enrolled in school, available for practice and, according to Saban, will be eligible after a year of residency. He will redshirt in 2011 and still have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2012.

How big a blow Carter's ineligibility will prove to be for the Tide depends on how you view two factors: how good he might be, and how badly the Tide need him. On the downside, Carter was a former blue-chip recruit who contributed (if not quite "shone") during a true freshman season at Ohio State and flashed further potential in his single year at Coffeyville (Kan.) C.C. And aside from senior Marquis Maze, the Tide have few proven downfield threats of the kind Carter represents.

On the upside, though, Maze's season is off to an outstanding start, steady senior Darius Hanks has returned from a two-game suspension and had two receptions a week ago, and there's still time for young wideouts like Kenny Bell or DeAndrew White to develop into legitimate playmakers. And even if the Tide's need for Carter was desperate, there's no guarantee that after missing much of fall camp and the first several games of the season, he'd be capable of making more than a token impact.

At this point, we're leading more towards the latter viewpoint than the former; the way the Tide defense has begun the year, the offense could start a collection of well-trained collies at wideout and still be a national title contender. But if Alabama does find itself locked in a tight battle against Arkansas this Saturday and needs that extra bit of playmaking oomph Carter might have been able to offer him, that missing "piece of information" could prove costly all the same.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 8:01 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Nebraska 51, Washington 38

Posted by Adam Jacobi

NEBRASKA WON: The 11th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers turned on the jets on offense early and often against Washington, and the end result was a 51-38 victory in front of its home crowd. QB Taylor Martinez hooked up with Kenny Bell on a 50-yard completion (seen at right) on the game's first play from scrimmage, then found Tyler Legate on the next play for a 3-yard touchdown, 34 seconds into the game.

WHY NEBRASKA WON: Washington partisans would loudly proclaim "BECAUSE OF THE REFEREES" to answer that question, and they might have a point (more on this later). The truth is, though, Nebraska won because it was able to grind out over 300 yards on the ground in 55 carries, gaining positive yardage on 52 of those 55 attempts and keeping the sticks moving at ease.

WHEN NEBRASKA WON: It looked like the game was safely in hand when Nebraska opened up the fourth quarter scoring with a 6-yard score by Aaron Green, but it wasn't until a Washington onside kick attempt failed and Nebraska responded with a five-run, 57-yard touchdown drive to make it 51-31 that the game was safely in hand for the Cornhuskers. 

WHAT NEBRASKA WON: For Cornhusker fans, this script of struggling with an opponent for most of the first half -- if not longer -- must be getting tiresome, and this is the third straight week where the Huskers have not lived up to their lofty ranking. Still, wins are wins, and wins over teams with the cachet of Washington and Fresno State are likely more helpful for the Huskers' development through the season than if they'd just taken a stroll through Cupcake Alley for all three games thus far (next week's opponent is, um, Wyoming, but that game's at least on the road).

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST: Washington fans will rue the litany of penalties that plagued its special teams efforts, and that inarguably altered the course of today's game. All in all, Washington was called for three kick catch interference penalties -- two on punts -- and Nebraska took advantage of short fields on the three resultant possessions for a total of 17 points. In fact, Washington could have led at the half, as the Huskies punted late in the first half, then recovered the loose ball when the punt glanced off the returner's leg. Improbably, the referees called a phantom interference on the play, and Nebraska used the rest of the half to put together a drive for a field goal. The Huskers would not relinquish the lead.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Not all of Washington's special teams woes came via the penalty. After Rex Burkhead scored on a one-yard dive early in the third quarter, Washington KR Bishop Sankey muffed the return on what should have been a simple touchback, and Sankey and fellow returner Kevin Smith bungled the recovery until Nebraska came up with the ball at the 1. Next snap: Rex Burkhead, one-yard dive, touchdown -- his second in nine seconds. 
Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Alabama , who starts spring practice today .

Spring Practice Question: Does Alabama have the offense to win another national championship? Or, alternatively, do they really need one?

As spring practice opens today in Tuscaloosa, most eyes are going to be on the revamped Tide offense, and with good reason; with no Greg McElroy, no Mark Ingram, and no Julio Jones, the Alabama attack is going to undergo a more thorough overhaul than any it's undergone since Jones and Ingram burst onto the scene in 2008.

But it's also because there's not a lot for most eyes to see on the Tide defense. With 9 or 10 starters back from a unit already ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, including the entirety of the Tide's linebacking and secondary groups with those including All-American safety Mark Barron and potential All-American linebacker Dont'a Hightower , on paper this will certainly be one of the FBS's best defenses. And the Tide may look even better on the field than they do on paper; after last year's (relative) 10-3 disappointment and occasional backbreaking defensive letdowns (as vs. Auburn and LSU), there's little doubt Nick Saban is going to be at his most firebreathingly intense (and most scrupulously detailed) this offseason.

In short, the defensive show put on this spring isn't likely to be any different from what Tide observers already saw prior to the Tide's undefeated regular seasons in 2008 and 2009. The offense, on the other hand, has several issues to resolve:

Quarterback: Certainly the most high-profile of those issues, the starting quarterback job will be contested this spring by sophomore A.J. McCarron and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims. McCarron boasts the advantages of an extra year in Jim McElwain's offense and a modicum of playing time in 2010 (that's him at right in the Tide's laugher against Duke), but in the end Saban seems likely to select whichever quarterback can be safer with the ball. Opposite that defense, playmaking ability may come second in importance to not-turnover-making ability. That goes double considering the ...

Offensive line: One of college football's biggest mysteries during the 2010 season was why a previously dominant rushing attack featuring a Heisman Trophy winner at tailback and an offensive line loaded with both talent and experience wound up seventh in the SEC in total rushing in conference games. Don't expect Saban to let it happen again, Ingram or no Ingram, with new line coach Jeff Stoutland lighting a fire under talents like former five-star tackle D.J. Fluker, All-SEC guard Barrett Jones, and veteran center William Vlachos. Still, Tide fans will no doubt want to be reassured that numbers like the 2.3 yards per-carry Alabama averaged in their three losses a year ago are a thing of the past.

More SEC
Receivers: Of McElroy, Ingram, and Jones, it's easy to see how McElroy (with the McCarron-Sims duo) and Ingram (with Trent Richardson) might be replaced. With Jones, it's a different story, as projected starting seniors Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze have--to this point in their careers--been more steady possession types than Jones-style uber-athletic gamebreakers. Again, the Tide likely won't need a Jones-style gamebreaker if the defense and running game return to their 2009 form, but it will nonetheless bear close watching to see if Hanks and Maze (or fellow senior Brandon Gibson or sophomore Kenny Bell or anyone else) can add at least a little explosiveness to the passing game.

The running backs aren't nearly as much of a question mark; after biding his time for two years alongside Ingram, Richardson should be ready to fully establish himself one of the SEC's best, and even if he's not (or struggles with injuries), powerful sophomore Eddie Lacy or true freshman (and spring enrollee) Dee Hart should be able to pick up the slack. Pair them with the defense described above, and it's easy to see the Tide making a run at yet another national title if the line can get back to its road-grading ways and the passing attack can be simply competent.

How big an "if" is that? We'll start to find out these next few weeks, and there's no doubt plenty of observers across the SEC (and maybe the country) hoping it proves bigger than we expect it to be.

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