Tag:New England Patriots
Posted on: January 31, 2012 2:36 pm
 

Bill O'Brien not concerned with PSU's recruiting

Posted by Tom Fornelli

National Signing Day is on Wednesday, but new Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has some other things on his mind right now. He's currently in Indianapolis working on a game plan for the New England Patriots offense in Sunday's Super Bowl. Which is a game that is a rather big deal in the world of football, just in case you've never heard of it.

Of course, it's because of the double-duty that O'Brien is pulling that he hasn't been able to pay much attention to helping put Penn State's 2012 recruiting class together, and when asked about it on Tuesday, O'Brien gave an answer that probably won't be music to the ears of Penn State fans.

"I'll get a fax of our signees. I already have a pretty good idea of who they are going to be," said O'Brien. "It's really about the Patriots and making sure we're ready for today's practice, tomorrow's meeting and Sunday's game."

Not exactly what you want to hear from your head coach, is it?

That being said, Penn State knew the deal when it hired O'Brien, and was well aware of the possibility that he could still be working with the Patriots at this point, so it's hard to get mad at O'Brien for feeling this way.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 11:26 pm
 

Ron Vanderlinden staying on staff at Penn St.

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Bill O'Brien will no doubt look to revamp the offensive coaching staff at Penn State as he attempts to build a Nittany Lion attack in the mold of the one he's guided for the New England Patriots. But the defense? It looks like that side of the ball will retain a strong flavor from the Joe Paterno era.

That's after multiple Nittany Lion players confirmed following a Sunday team meeting that Penn State linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Ron Vanderlinden would be held over as part of O'Brien's staff. A former head coach at Maryland, Vanderlinden has been an assistant in Happy Valley for the past 11 seasons. He began the 2011 season as linebackers coach before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator following Paterno's exit.

Vanderlinden is the second defensive assistant to be retained by O'Brien, joining defensive line coach Larry Johnson. Tennessee Titans assistant Charles London has also been hired as the Nittany Lions' running backs coach.

Though full-season coordinator and former interim head coach Tom Bradley obviously deserves much of the credit, Vanderlinden's cameo as co-DC was nonetheless a highly successful one. The Nittany Lions finished 20th in total defense, a sterling 12th in yards-per-play allowed, and an even-better fifth in scoring defense. With numbers like those, it's understandable why O'Brien would want to keep as much continuity on that side of the ball as possible.

But still, the first thing the Nittany Lions wanted to talk about after the meeting was ... O'Brien himself. Quarterback Matt McGloin said he "got some chills" discussing offense with his new head coach.

“I expect that it’ll be an entirely different playbook,” McGloin said. “It’s exciting, just watching the Patriots and knowing we’ll be doing similar things.”

“You can definitely sense that he goes about business, and loves football, and he showed that to us,” said wide receiver Justin Brown. “I think everybody’s just excited to get things going with our new coach and move forward.”

“To the people who had doubts about him, everybody has to start somewhere,” said running back Silas Redd. “Every head coach has a head coaching debut, and this is his debut. He’s more than ready to steer this whole thing.”

If McGloin is right that the offense will hum, and Redd and Brown are right that O'Brien is ready to lead, and a defense with Vanderlinden and Johnson aboard can hold the line, a hire that was near-universally panned among the Nittany Lion faithful may (like similarly unpopular hires Gene Chizik and Brady Hoke) wind up OK in the end.

All information and quotes via CBSSports.com RapidReporter Jim Rodenbush. For daily updates on Penn State football, be sure to follow Rodenbush's RapidReports right here.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:27 am
 

Bill O'Brien may stay with Pats past Signing Day

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Penn State is expected to announce the hiring of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien on Saturday, according to CBSSports.com NFL reporter Mike Freeman. That brings a merciful end to the Penn State coaching search, as the PSU job was the last to be filled in all of the FBS.

The thing is, however, if reports are true, O'Brien won't be on Penn State's campus immediately -- and the wait could potentially extend past a very important deadline. According to Boston Herald Patriots beat reporter Ian Rapoport, O'Brien will remain the Patriots' offensive coordinator throughout the playoffs. And while the NFL playoffs start this weekend, the Patriots' season won't be ending so soon. New England is the top seed in the AFC, meaning the Patriots have a bye week this week, and are the favorite to make it to Super Bowl XLVI.

Penn State fans should be rooting for an early upset for the Pats, though, because if the Patriots do make it to the Super Bowl, O'Brien's going to be a member of that staff until February 5. That date is important, because Signing Day -- the first day that college football recruits can sign letters of intent with their preferred school -- is the preceding Tuesday, February 1. Now, top seeds are hardly locks to make the Super Bowl in today's NFL, but the Patriots under Bill Belichick have one of the best track records in the playoffs of any NFL franchise over the last decade or so.

O'Brien is expected to do some recruiting while he's still with New England, and he wouldn't be the first coach to pull double-duty like this; Rapoport also noted on his feed that Charlie Weis did so at New England as he prepared to take over Notre Dame, and Sylvester Croom was similarly stretched between Green Bay and Mississippi State when he was first hired. Unfortunately, as Rapoport also noted, such double duty hampered the coaches' first recruiting classes considerably, and it's also worth noting that both coaches were fired after five seasons -- right when that first recruiting class would have been full of redshirt seniors.

It would then behoove Penn State to retain Tom Bradley (the defensive coordinator-turned-interim coach who has led the team since the Penn State Board of Trustees fired longtime coach Joe Paterno on November 9 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal) and offer him his old position as defensive coordinator, much in the same way that Ohio State has honored interim head coach Luke Fickell since the hiring of Urban Meyer. That way, Bradley can also focus his efforts on recruiting and salvage a Penn State class that by Big Ten standards is mediocre, and by Penn State standards is subpar.

It does not portend well for Bradley's future with Penn State, however, that the only word from him was that he had not been told of any hiring plans by the school as of Thursday night, according to Blue White Illustrated. If Bradley is not motivated to remain committed to the recruiting trail for Penn State while O'Brien tries to balance recruiting and coaching the Patriots for however long New England's season lasts, Penn State's recruiting class will undoubtedly suffer, and that's another hurdle that this suddenly flailing program does not need to have added to the race ahead.

For more breaking news on Penn State, follow the team's RapidReports by Jim Rodenbush.

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 5, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Gamecocks lose Jeffery, Gilmore to NFL Draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

South Carolina likely didn't have any illusions about where star receiver Alshon Jeffery was going to play his football next season. But the Gamecocks were no doubt hoping that Jeffery might be the only major early departure for the NFL Draft; the decision made Wednesday by junior corner Stephon Gilmore, however, means that Jeffery will have company on the way out of Columbia.

Both players have now publicly declared for April's draft, with Jeffery relaying his decision to ESPN and Gilmore's mother confirming her son's choice to CBSSports.com RapidReporter Josh Kendall. Gilmore informed the Gamecock coaching staff Wednesday.

"I'm ready for the next step," Jeffery said. "I'm physical and can make plays in the red zone. I can make big plays in big games. I can work on my speed and get quicker. I want to be like Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson."

For Jeffery, the decision was a likely no-brainer. Though the buttoned-up nature of the Gamecocks' 2011 offense (and increased defensive attention without the presence of Marcus Lattimore) saw a sizable decline in Jeffery's numbers, his All-American sophomore season -- 88 catches, 9 touchdowns, and more yards (1,517) than any wideout not playing in a non-BCS league or the state of Oklahoma -- meant he'd already proven just about everything he could prove at the college level. His final collegiate game showed that his immense physical talent is as intact as ever, as he skied for a game-changing Hail Mary and finished with 148 yards in a Capital One Bowl MVP performance.

It wasn't enough for either of our CBSSports.com draft experts to move Jeffery into the first-round of their most recent mock drafts, but a series of good workouts could change things.

Gilmore didn't have nearly Jeffery's nationwide name-recognition, but he arguably had a much larger impact on the Gamecocks' 2011 success than his offensive counterpart; after a subpar 2010, the South Carolina secondary finished second in the nation in pass defense and third in opponent's passer rating, with Gilmore's four interceptions and cover-corner skills playing a large role in that improvement. Our Dan Brugler has Gilmore projected to go to the New England Patriots with the 28th pick of the draft. 

That kind of projection is why the Gamecocks will have some big shoes to fill in the passing game -- on both sides of the ball -- come 2012.

Check out where Jeffery, Gilmore, and all the 2012 draft prospects rank on the CBSSports.com draft board, and follow all the news on early entrants here. 

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 1, 2012 12:25 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:26 pm
 

Report: Penn State closing in on Patriots OC

Posted by Chip Patterson

The search to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State is reportedly nearing the end, according to a USA Today source.

Jonny Saraceno reported Sunday that a person with knowledge of the Penn State coaching search say New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is set to be the next head football coach of the Nittany Lions. ESPN's Adam Schefter also is reporting O'Brien as the leading candidate, after just one year serving in his current post with the Patriots.

The Patriots close out the regular season Sunday at home against division rival Buffalo. Saraceno reports that "only contract details need to be finalized before O'Brien is the man."

O'Brien has been an assistant on the New England staff since 2007, after stops at Brown (his alma mater), Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Duke. In addition to being the offensive coordinator this season, the 42-year old Massachusetts native has been quarterbacks coach for Tom Brady since 2009.

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak, a former Penn State offensive lineman, was reportedly the top choice to replace Joe Paterno but just this week officially stated his lack of interest in the position at this time.

For all the latest on Penn State's coaching search and preparation for the TicketCity Bowl against Houston on Jan. 2, follow Nittany Lions Rapid Reports.

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.
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Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: August 24, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Wes Welker doesn't know the Texas Tech fight song

Posted by Chip Patterson

Former Texas Tech wide receiver Wes Welker has been overlooked for most of his career, and every time he silences his critics with his performance. The Red Raiders reached out to the Oklahoma native and offered him a scholarship last minute. Welker rewarded the Red Raiders with 31 career all-purpose touchdowns. Eight of those came on punt returns, which is still tied for the NCAA record.

But one thing Wes Welker cannot do (and apparently never did very well) is sing the words to the Texas Tech fight song. CBSSports.com's Mark Morgan discovered this little gem in a recent conversation with the New England Patriots Pro Bowler.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:49 pm
 

What I Learned This Spring: SEC East

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC East, team by team. In alphabetical order:


FLORIDA: When spring began, we said the Gators might have the most interesting offense in the country. Urban Meyer's former spread-option death machine, destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up, by none other than Charlie Weis, in the image of the steady no-frills pro-style attacks Will Muschamp saw work for old boss Nick Saban, as piloted by 2011-or-bust quarterback John Brantley? That's quite the storyline they've got going there.

But the Gators will have to hope it's a story that will be rewritten come the fall. While no one was expecting the offense to look like Weis's old New England Patriot attacks after three weeks of practice, no one was expecting it to put on a 13-10 spring game universally panned as a hideous eyesore, either. Brantley went an ugly 4-of-14 after missing his first six passes, the leading rusher was a walk-on defensive back, and the entire offensive output for the game amounted to 340 yards.

Much of that can be pinned on a wicked rash of injuries that took out most of the offensive line, an entire stable of running backs, multiple receivers, etc.; encouragingly, much of it can also be pinned on a rampaging defensive line led by Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, all members of Meyer's loaded 2010 class and all looking posied to make good on their five-star hype. But the bottom line is that much of it can also be pinned squarely on Brantley, who Muschamp and his other coaches universally lauded for an excellent spring but who showed little of that alleged improvement when playing in public.

Does it matter? Give him a solid summer and a solid fall camp, and it may not. But until Brantley proves he's something other than what he's appeared to be since the moment Tim Tebow left -- in over his head -- skepticism is in order.

GEORGIA: The biggest question entering the most critical spring of Mark Richt's spring tenure concerned the Bulldogs' biggest players: could their offensive line bounce back? When you have Aaron Murray, Orson Charles, a fleet of talented (if still unproven) receivers, and eventually Isaiah Crowell, if you have a line, you're going to have a heck of an offense.

There was good news and bad news on that front, the latter a devastating torn ACL suffered by fifth-senior and projected starting tackle Trinton Sturdivant. But there were positives, too, namely a terrific spring from potential All-SEC  center Ben Jones and guard-to-tackle position switch Cordy Glenn. G-day primary tailbacks Ken Malcome and Caleb King combined for 69 yards on 12 carries, a not-so-shabby 5.8 yards per-carry. Overall, the line was impressive enough this spring that senior Justin Anderson -- billed as a potential starter on the OL -- has been moved to defense.

The Dawgs had themselves a fine spring on the defensive front as well, with newly bulked-up nose tackle Kwame Geathers the talk of the Bulldogs' spring camp and converted safety Alec Ogletree providing a big boost the linebacking corps. The secondary is unsettled and one of those aforementioned receivers needs to emerge as a go-to target for Murray, but if the improvements in the front seven and offensive line aren't mirages, the Bulldogs wil be back in the thick of the East race all the same.

KENTUCKY: Consider it a successful second spring for Joker Phillips and the Wildcats. We noted that with nearly all of the major players from 2010's surprisingly effective Wildcat passing game gone, Phillips would want to make rebuilding that passing attack around junior quarterback Morgan Newton priority No. 1 in spring camp. And though we'll have to wait until fall to see the finished results, for now it looks like Mission Accomplished: Newton had a terrific spring, capped by a 23-of-44, 256-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Wildcats' Blue-White Game.

Things weren't perfect: the Wildcat receivers were plagued by drops, and a defense still adjusting to new co-coordinator Rick Minter's aggressive schemes paired several big plays with several breakdowns. But with Newton cementing himself as a reliable option under center and a veteran line paving the way for new tailback Raymond Sanders to average better than 7 yards a carry, there's far more optimism for the Wildcat offense coming out of spring than going in.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Whatever storyline you might have constructed ahead of time for the Gamecocks' spring, it was always going to overshadowed by the continuing Stephen Garcia circus. Until Carolina receives a definitive word one way or the other on Garcia's return (though as we wrote earlier today, that return seems likely), the team is going to be in something close to suspended football animation.  The lack of developments aside from Garcia was only enhanced by the fact that so many of Carolina's key players -- Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore, an offensive line with four returning starters -- are known commodities.

That said, the Garnet-Black Game showed that if Garcia doesn't come back, the Gamecocks won't be totally lost at quarterback. Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson combined to go a productive 23-of-40 for 344 yards (though Thompson threw a pair of picks), and on an offense with weapons like Lattimore, Jeffery, and tailback Kenny Miles (43 yards on just 6 carries in the spring game), "productive" should be enough.

The downside: those passing numbers came against a Gamecock secondary that got routinely torched in 2010 (FBS 97th in pass defense). Garcia or no Garcia, more improvement in that secondary will be necessary to take Carolina back to Atlanta.

TENNESSEE: Entering spring, the road to improvement for the Volunteers was clear: get stronger, more physical, better along each line of scrimmage, then let the Vols' cadre of up-and-coming skill position stars -- led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray -- do the rest.

The Vols made plenty of headway on the first part of that equation; the White team earned a dominant victory over the more starter-heavy Orange in the Vol spring game thanks in no small part to a bruising run game led by second-string tailback Raijon Neal; defensive linemen on both squads were able to get consistent quarterback pressure; and offensive lineman Alex Bullard and defensive tackle Daniel Hood won the team's top awards for spring performance. Both lines remain so young that there's still a long way to go to SEC dominance, but it seems unlikely they'll be pushed around the way they were at times in 2010, either.

But as for the other part of the equation, stay tuned. Bray went a miserable 5-for-30 quarterbacking the defeated Orange side, with Derek Dooley suggesting afterwards that perhaps Bray had been overconfident. Bray is expected to take a major step forward in his first full season as the Vols' starter, but if that step winds up as minor as the spring game proposes it might be, all the line improvement in the world won't push the Vols back into relevance in the SEC East.

VANDERBILT: When you finished last season dead last in the conference in both total offense and total defense -- and you are Vanderbilt -- any kind of improvement in any area will be music to new coach James Franklin's ears. But fortunately for the 'Dores, they saw some green shoots in two positions that have been partocularly troublesome the past few seasons.

One is quarterback , where previously scattershot senior Larry Smith completed 16-of-26 for 233 yards and a touchdown, leading his Black side to a 19-7 win over the Gold. The other is the defensive line , where defensive tackle Colt Nichter recorded a pair of sacks and defensive end Kyle Woestmann collected a sack and an interception. But when you're Vandy, you'll take whatever you can get.

"The big thing," Franklin said, "is that we stayed healthy."

For the same review of the SEC West, click here.

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