Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 9:17 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A look at the key matchup that could decide the Poinsettia Bowl
Ryan Allen/Louisiana Tech pass defense vs. Casey Pachall
Go through the logs of head coaches pre- or post-game press conference and you're bound to find at least one emphasis on winning the field position battle. It's no surprise that would be a focus in this bowl match up, which features some pretty good offenses and defenses that don't mind some help.
Allen is a huge weapon for Louisiana Tech, winning the Ray Guy Award as the country's best punter thanks to 36 punts inside the 20 during the regular season. He can also kick for distance, averaging an impressive 46.31 yards per punt. Being able to pin the TCU offense back will be a huge help for a defense that is ranked 55th in the country and has had issues with spread attacks featuring speedy skill position players.
"When you have a punter like they do, he can change the ball game," Gary Patterson said. "When you get a 60 or 70-yard punt, all of the sudden, field position changes."
Pachall has filled Andy Dalton's shoes pretty well in his first year as a starter. He's seventh in the country in passing efficiency, throwing for 24 touchdowns against just six picks. The Horned Frogs offense is among the most balanced in the country and it certainly helps to able to turn around and hand the ball off to Matthew Tucker, Ed Wesley and Waymon James. But Pachall does have some young receivers that can get down the field if he's allowed time to throw.
"They’ve got three outstanding running backs, they’ve got a big, physical offensive line, they’ve got speed at the wide receiver position, they’ve got a quarterback who has not missed a beat, who has improved steadily throughout the course of the season," Bulldogs head coach Sonny Dykes said. "It’s a great offensive football team. They can pound you, they can ‘big play’ you."
If Louisiana Tech plays sound on defense and doesn't bite on the play-action passes, they should be able to slow Pachall and the TCU offense down some. Having Allen pin them back would be big in winning the field position battle and giving the Bulldogs offense a short field. Force some turnovers and this turns into a winnable game for LaTech despite being decided underdogs to a 10-win team in TCU.
"Our guys have got some grit about them," said Dykes. "We’re going to have to play extremely well to compete against TCU. They are a
team that knows how to win."
You can read our complete Poinsettia Bowl preview here.
Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 9:28 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
TCU WILL WIN IF: How's a trip to San Diego before Christmas for a Mountain West swan song sound? The Horned Frogs dominated conference play for the final time, including a memorable upset of Boise State, and will head to one of just four bowls matching up conference champions. Motivation would normally be a factor for some teams coming from two straight BCS bowls but not for one coached by Gary Patterson - as intense and well-prepared a coach as you will find.
"I think the key is, the team that wins bowl games is the team that wants it the most," Patterson said. "What I’ve found is that you usually find out in the first five minutes of the ballgame how that’s all going to go down, with the intensity level and how they do it. I think this is going to be one of the games people talk about, one of the better ball games in the bowl season."
A win in the bowl game would also give TCU 11 wins for the seventh time in a decade. Though they've taken a few lumps, this team is built on defense and linebacker Tank Carder is looking to cap off a great career by slowing down Louisiana Tech's high-powered offense with help from the secondary. The offense is pretty good too, rounding into form as the season progressed. The Horned Frogs have scored at least 27 straight in every game this year and if quarterback Casey Pachall and the offense - sans coordinator Justin Fuente - keep turnovers to a minimum, they should be riding off to the Big 12 with a bowl game win.
"This ball game is a challenge for us," added Patterson. "Not only is it a challenge at the end of the season but it’s a challenge to go into next season, to teach our kids what it’s about to play at a high level. There are no two ways about it."
LOUISIANA TECH WILL WIN IF: The Bulldogs certainly can score some points, averaging almost 450 yards of offense and 35 points per game ever since Colby Cameron took over at quarterback and started throwing the ball around. The offense gets most of the attention but the defense isn't too shabby either with 20 interceptions on the year - good for third in the nation.
"This will be a bit of a measuring stick for our program and where we are headed," head coach Sonny Dykes said. "This has been a great team to coach, we’ve had a fun ride."
A sound game plan that mixes up a few runs as Cameron finds top wide receiver Quinton Patton should be able to move the chains and find the end zone. If the defense can make some plays and slow down the TCU offense, special teams will come into play and the team has a great weapon in Ryan Allen, who won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter and can help flip the field position battle in favor of LaTech.
"Our guy Ryan Allen had plenty of punts," said Dykes. "We won ball games because of him, especially when we were trying to find an identity offensively early. We were making a quarterback switch and trying to find which direction we were going. Our defense was playing pretty consistent football and our punter was giving us a chance to win. He is a weapon."
"This is the biggest bowl game for us, probably in school history, so we have to see this as an opportunity."
THE X-FACTOR: As always, turnovers. Pachall has been pretty good in not throwing interceptions or fumbling the ball but he has to keep that up in this game. Give Louisiana Tech extra chances to score and things might get interesting. Spread offenses - Baylor, SMU - have hurt TCU already this year and the WAC champions know how to beat teams if the game is close.
Tags: Baylor, BCS, Big 12, Boise State, Bowl previews, Bryan Fischer, Casey Pachall, Colby Cameron, Gary Patterson, Justin Fuente, Key Matchups, Keys to the Game, Louisiana Tech, Mountain West, MWC, Non-BCS, Poinsettia Bowl, Quinton Patton, Ray Guy Award, Ryan Allen, SMU, Sonny Dykes, Tank Carder, TCU, WAC
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 11:24 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
While the Heisman gets its own show, the rest of the major awards in college football will be given out tonight. And while, by most accounts, the Heisman Trophy's destination is seriously lacking in drama, there could be a few surprises in tonight's ceremony.
Awards like the Davey O'Brien, the Doak Walker, the Bednarik and many more are all going to be given away tonight, and we'll be updating this post all night long as every award is handed out.
DAVEY O'BRIEN AWARD (best quarterback)
WINNER: Robert Griffin, Baylor
This is a pretty good sign for the man considered to be the Heisman front-runner. Griffin emerged victorious in a group consisting of Andrew Luck and Case Keenum, and it's hard to argue with him winning the award. Griffin had a monster season for Baylor throwing for 3,998 yards, 36 touchdowns and set an NCAA record with a QB rating of 192.3.
CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD (best defensive player)
WINNER: Tyrann Mathieu, defensive back, LSU
The Bednarik Award belongs to LSU and the number 7. Last year it was Patrick Petersen claiming the award, and this year the Honey Badger took it. Mathieu has been a force on what could be the best defense in the country all year long. Seemingly every time there was a game-changing play created by the LSU defense, Mathieu was either starting it or finishing it. Often times both.
BILETNIKOFF AWARD (best wide receiver)
WINNER: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon liked winning the Biletnikoff Award so much in 2010, he decided to do it again in 2011. Blackmon didn't have as amazing a season in 2011 as he did in 2010, but finishing the year with 113 catches for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns is a superhuman way to regress. Blackmon is only the second person to ever win the award in consecutive seasons, with Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree being the first.
RAY GUY AWARD (best punter)
WINNER: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
Ryan Allen is the first player in Louisiana Tech history to win the Ray Guy Award. Allen finished the season averaging 46.3 yards per punt, and downed more punts inside the 20 and 10-yard lines than any other punter in the country.
LOU GROZA AWARD (best kicker)
WINNER: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M
Randy Bullock is the first Texas A&M kicker to win the Lou Groza Award. Bullock made more field goals (25) than any other kicker in college football this season, converting on 86.2 % of them, and hitting 11 of 13 from 40 yards or more.
DOAK WALKER AWARD (best running back)
WINNER: Trent Richardson, Alabama
Alabama may have a Heisman-winning running back in its history, but Trent Richardson is the first running back in school history to win the Doak Walker Award. Richardson edged out Montee Ball and LaMichael James for the award. He finished the 2011 season with 1,910 total yards and 23 total touchdowns.
COACH OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Les Miles, LSU
Hard to argue with this one, isn't it? After all, no matter where you fell on the debate between Alabama and Oklahoma State, there's little question who the best team in the country was this season, and that was LSU. So it only makes sense that the man in charge of all that would win the Coach of the Year.
JIM THORPE AWARD (best defensive back)
WINNER: Morris Claiborne, LSU
LSU once agains wins a second consecutive award that Patrick Peterson won last season, but this time it's Morris Claiborne taking the trophy, not Tyrann Mathieu. Not exactly a shock, as Claiborne intercepted 6 passes this season and nearly 30 yards per interception return.
OUTLAND TROPHY (best interior lineman)
WINNER: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones is the third player in Alabama history to win the Outland Trophy. Trent Richardson has gotten a lot of attention and acclaim for his performance this season, but somebody had to open those holes for him. Barrett Jones was the best player on a strong Alabama offensive line this season.
MAXWELL AWARD (best all-around)
WINNER: Andrew Luck, Stanford
Andrew Luck joins Jim Plunkett as the second Stanford quarterback to win the Maxwell Award. Luck also won the Walter Camp Award on Thursday. Luck threw for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns for Stanford in 2011.
Tags: 2011 College Football Awards, Andrew Luck, Barrett Jones, Biletnikoff Award, Case Keenum, Chuck Bednarik Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Doak Walker Award, Jim Thorpe Award, LaMichael James, Les Miles, Lou Groza Award, Maxwell Award, Montee Ball, Morris Claiborne, Outland Trophy, Patrick Peterson, Randy Bullock, Ray Guy Award, Robert Griffin, Ryan Allen, Tom Fornelli, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu