Tag:Tyler Gaffney
Posted on: December 31, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Fiesta Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: they can turn Stanford over. The Cowboys' defense has, without question, been an underrated part of their 2011 success; their lethal opportunism and weekly ballhawking ways have never gotten the respect they've deserved. No defense that led the entire FBS in takeaways -- the Cowboys finished with an incredible 42, the highest total not just in 2011 but in any of the past four seasons -- can be fairly called a "bad" defense.

But that also doesn't mean we'd go so far as to call them "good." 106th in total defense is 106th in total defense is 106th in total defense. And considering that the Cardinal rank 11th in total offense and seventh in yards-per-play, it's the safest of assumptions that Andrew Luck, Stepfan Taylor, Coby Fleener and Co. are going to put up a hefty number of yards. Sorry, Poke fans, but if Arizona, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa State can all top 430 total yards, an offense with the Cardinals' caliber of weaponry is probably going to as well.

But all those yards don't have to mean "all those points." As mentioned, the Cowboy defense was masterful at bending before breaking the other team with a huge play. (They finished in the national top 30 in sacks, too.) If safety Markelle Martin, corner Brodrick Brown and end Jamie Blatnick can continue to force that handful of turnovers -- if those turnovers, combined with just a punt or two, can give the Cowboy defense just the occasional stop -- the Cowboy offense should be able to do the rest. That's easier said than done, of course, against the Cardinal; only eight other teams turned the ball over fewer times than Stanford's 15, with Luck throwing just nine interceptions and some of those bad bounces off his receivers' hands. But if the Pokes manage it, the hill the Cardinal will have to climb should be entirely too tall even for the future No. 1 draft choice.

STANFORD WILL WIN IF: they can run the ball, and not just well--we mean run it spectacularly. Whether by air or on the ground -- as we said -- the Cardinal are likely going to get their yards. But given the explosiveness of the Cowboy offense, it's imperative for the Cardinal to keep Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Justin Randle on the sidelines for as long as possible. It's not just about limiting the Cowboys' opportunities, either; the more time the Cardinal defense can spend catching their breath off the field rather than battling the Cowboys' no-huddle on it, the better their chances of getting stops. 

Then there's that turnover thing--with only six Cardinal fumbles lost all season, running the ball is even less likely to give the Cowvboys the turnovers they desperately crave than handing it over to LuckThe good news for the Cardinal is that all the pieces in place for such a running performance are in place; the powerful Taylor is one of the nation's more underrated running backs, Tyler Gaffney provides a tailback change-of-pace that averaged 6.4 yards an attempt, All-American guard David DeCastro leads what might be the country's best offensive line, and Luck's presence ensures that overloading the box isn't really an option for the Cowboys. It's no mystery how the Cardinal ran for 180 yards or more in half their games.

But one of those games shows how important getting that kind of production from the Cardinal ground game is so important. Against Oregon -- and a Duck offense with a similar up-tempo philosophy and dynamic athletes as Oklahoma State's -- Stanford managed just 129 rushing yards. The result was an exhausted Cardinal defense giving up 53 points, an overburdened Luck putting together his worst performance of the season, and the end of Stanford's national title hopes. 129 rushing yards against the Cowboys will, no doubt, lead to something similar.

THE X-FACTOR: Another underrated factor in Oklahoma State's historic season? Punter/placekicker Quinn Sharp. Though perhaps most fans outside of Stillwater will remember Sharp primarily for the missed kick at the end of regulation vs. Iowa State, Sharp puntedthe Cowboys to a 14th-place finish in FBS net punting and hit 20 of his 23 kicks. If the Fiesta boils down to the kicking game, Sharp should give the Cowboys an edge.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:46 pm
 

Lane Kiffin still upset with officials

Posted by Tom Fornelli

UPDATE: The Pac-12 announced an official reprimand, and $10,000 fine for Lane Kiffin in response to his comments. 

“The Pac-12 has specific rules that prohibit our coaches from making public comments about officiating, and this prohibition specifically includes comments that create doubts about the credibility of the Conference’s officiating program,” stated Scott. “The Conference expects each Pac-12 coach to adhere to our standards of conduct and to conduct himself or herself in a manner which will reflect credit on the institution and the Conference.”




USC
's 56-48 loss in triple-overtime against Stanford on Saturday night might just be the best loss in the school's recent history. The sense I've gotten from USC fans since is that even though the Trojans lost, they're incredibly happy with the way the team played and more optimistic about the program than they have been in years.

Lane Kiffin, on the other hand, isn't nearly as pleased about the game. While I'm sure he's proud of his team for being the first squad to even take a lead against Stanford this season, let alone force overtime, he's still a bit perturbed with the officiating on Saturday night. In fact, on Sunday Kiffin said that he had already contacted Pac-12 Conference officials and called one unidentified person from the locker room after the game and told him that he had been "lied to" by the officials.

According to Kiffin, side judge Brad Glenn told him that USC would be granted a timeout if replays showed that Robert Woods' knee had come down with a second remaining on the clock, giving USC a chance to kick a 50-yard field goal. Instead referee Michael Batian announced that time had expired after looking at replays.

“The ruling on the field was that we were going to overtime,” Batlan said after the game. “Any coach can ask for a timeout, but he doesn’t get one until an official grants or signifies it. I was not a part of any conversation or meeting with regards to a requested timeout.”

Personally, if I were Kiffin and I had a timeout left, I'd be more upset with Woods for not just going down with plenty of time left to call that timeout instead of making a mad dash for the sideline.

Of course, that wasn't Kiffin's only beef with the officiating on Saturday night. He also brought up a call in the second overtime. Facing a second-and-5 there was a holding call against Stanford that took place at the line of scrimmage. Though for some reason the officials marked the 10 yards off from where Tyler Gaffney's 8-yard run ended rather than from where the penalty took place. So instead of having a second-and-15 at the 30-yard line, Stanford had a second-and-7 at the 22.

The Cardinal scored three plays later to tie the game up and force the third, decisive overtime.

That call I didn't understand either.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 12:38 am
 

QUICK HITS: Stanford 65, Washington 21

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

STANFORD WON: So much for the Cardinal getting their first test of the year. Andrew Luck barely had to break a sweat (16-of-22, 169 yards, 2 touchdowns) as the Cardinal rampaged to 247 first-half rushing yards, a 38-14 halftime lead, and their 10th straight win by 25 points or better--the first such streak in Division I college football since 1936. Cardinal tailbacks Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney combined for 245 yards on just 19 carries, averaging an eye-popping timeouts 12.9 yards an attempt, and leading the Cardinal to a school-record 446 rushing yards. 

WHY STANFORD WON: We mentioned the 247 first-half rushing yards and bulldozer job from Taylor and Gaffney, right? It's hard to lose with production in the ground game like that, and essentially impossible when that production is backed up by a passing game managed by Luck. If the Cardinal offensive line -- spearheaded by one surefire All-American in guard David DeCastro and potentially another in tackle Jonathan Martin -- isn't already considered one of the best if not the best in the nation, running for 446 yards against a top-25 defense that was averaging less than 100 yards allowed per-game should change that in a frightful hurry.

But that shouldn't totally obscure the effort made by the Stanford defense. Chris Polk broke loose for a pair of long first-half Huskie touchdowns, the latter a 61-yard burst that cut an early Stanford lead to 17-14. But the Huskies wouldn't score again until early in the fourth quarter (by which point the score was 48-14, and during which span the Cardinal D had outscored the Huskies 7-0), the Cardinal would finish the night up 3-0 in turnover margin, and after collecting more than 100 yards in the first two quarters Polk would finish with just 144. 

WHEN STANFORD WON: Speaking of "outscoring the Huskies 7-0," Huskies were already in a 31-14 hole when they drove to the Stanford 38 and faced 2nd-and-1. Polk was stuffed for a loss of 3, setting up 3rd-and-4 ... on which Keith Price's pass was intercepted by Michael Thomas and housed. The Huskies went into halftime down 38-14, and were never, ever, ever going to mount that kind of comeback.

WHAT STANFORD WON: With Wisconsin going down in East Lansing and Oklahoma in legitimate trouble against Texas Tech as we type this, the Cardinal look more the part of a national title contender than ever before ... and a 44-point bludgeoning of a one-loss, top-25 team is a big, big part of that.

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST: Any real hope of winning the inaugural Pac-12 North, since the odds of the Cardinal dropping two league games while the Huskies run the table seems slim indeed.

Posted on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
 

What we learned this spring in the Pac-12

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Spring time is a time for learning. Ask any coach and you'll hear some derivative of, 'We want to get back to learning the fundamentals' at the beginning of their spring press conference. Now that spring practices have wrapped up for all of the Pac-12 schools though, it's time to figure out what we've learned from them. Here's a few things we've learned about all 12 teams (other than the fact that they're all very rich thanks to the new media deal).

Oregon


What we've learned: The Ducks are still feeling out the offensive line situation, where they have to replace three of the starting five before taking on a top five team in LSU week one. Mark Asper is set at right tackle and Carson York returns at left guard but beyond that it's a few question marks. Expect the battles to start to continue with a few of the incoming freshmen to get a look once fall camp starts. Luckily the Ducks have two Heisman Trophy candidates in the backfield in running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Williams to smooth the transition as they can both hit the hole quickly with their speed. The defense seems set and will likely be better than last year's unit despite losing their leader, linebacker Casey Matthews, to graduation. Oregon still needs some receivers to step up but early enrollee Colt Lyerla figures to be in the mix early on offense.

Stanford

What we've learned: Andrew Luck is good. But everybody already knew that. A few pieces around Luck still need to be ironed out though, namely at receiver and on the opposite side of the ball along the defensive line. By all indications the transition from Jim Harbaugh to new head coach David Shaw went smoothly but practices were closed so there's not a ton we can gleam from the Cardinal's spring. Luck led scoring drives on all three series he was in during the Stanford spring game and that's without running back Tyler Gaffney, who was playing baseball all spring. Having the best quarterback in college football seems to cover up a lot of holes.

Arizona State

What we've learned: The Sun Devils will be donning new uniforms in the fall and on top of looking pretty slick, they'll also be carrying the weight of expectations as the Pac-12 South favorite. Injuries were the story of the spring with starting corner Omar Bolden going down with a torn ACL early last year. He's expected to come back later in the season but that's a big blow on an otherwise solid and upperclassman-laden team. Wide out T.J. Simpson also injured his knee. The offensive line, an area of concern for years in the desert, appears to be at full strength and much improved.

Utah

What we've learned: Lots of injuries to deal with this spring with the Utes, who had several starters miss the spring game or spring all together. Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn was one such player who didn't get a chance to go through practices under new offensive coordinator Norm Chow but he's still expected to be the starter once fall camp opens. There are several players competing at running back and the staff is hopeful after Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo all had a good spring. Palamo becoming the starter is interesting because he's a former ruby player. Utes also seemed to figure out the replacements in the secondary which was something head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted to do.

USC

What we've learned: There's some talent at USC but the depth is... lacking. The Trojans used to be able to stock pile four and five-star talent but it was evident that Lane Kiffin is doing some rebuilding with 49 out of the 85 scholarship players from the past two recruiting classes. That also means this is a young team but there's a lot to build around in quarterback Matt Barkley and wide out Robert Woods. The defense should be better than a year ago as players grow more comfortable with the system. The secondary should be much improved in particular. With 12 players out for spring and many freshmen expected to contribute, USC still has to figure a few things out in the fall.

Arizona

What we've learned: Starting quarterback Nick Foles has a talented group of wide outs but he'll have to get the ball to them quickly. While every coach in the country wants their trigger man to get the ball out quickly, Foles has to do so mainly because he'll have an entirely new offensive line in front of him. At the moment both tackles will be redshirt freshmen who haven't played a game but they looked solid this spring. Both defensive ends (who were very productive) are gone but C.J. Parrish impressed everyone coming off the edge this spring. The secondary seems to be rounding into form and Texas transfer Dan Buckner should be a nice target for Foles.

Cal

What we've learned: The Bears' practices had to be moved off campus due to construction and that's pretty fitting considering that Cal football was, well, under construction this spring. The situation at quarterback seems to be Zach Maynard over Brock Mansion and Allan Bridgeford but none of the three seems to be particularly appealing based on reports. Jim Michalczik is back in Berkeley as offensive coordinator and we'll see what tweaks he makes but Jeff Tedford will be the play caller and quarterbacks coach this year. The defense will likely be the strength of the team, especially along the defensive line.

Oregon State

What we've learned: Not a ton about the team that will take the field in the fall. Quarterback Ryan Katz sat out with a broken bone in his wrist and all-everything athlete James Rodgers is rehabbing from knee surgery and might not make it back in time for the opener. The offensive line returns four of five and needs to play better but there weren't any indications they did so this spring. Terron Ward seems to have emerged as the favorite to replace Jacquizz Rodgers but there are plenty of players in the mix.

UCLA

What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on offense out side of the running back position but at least the defense looks better. Being relatively healthy on defense is nice for the new staff and the defensive line looks like it can provide a nice pass rush. The quarterback battle is on hold until the fall but freshman Brett Hundley showed flashes and if he gets the playbook down, could end up the starter. Injuries along the offensive line were an issue once again.

Washington

What we've learned: Keith Price is the new starter at quarterback and has the task of keeping the Huskies afloat without Jake Locker and several other starters. Chris Polk has looked good at running back and is primed for another good season if he can deal with more defenders in the box. Three starters along the offensive line needed to be replaced and some of the battles will likely continue in fall camp. Early enrollee Austin Seferian-Jenkins made an impression and figures to make an impact on offense at tight end.

Colorado

What we've learned: Everything is new for the conference's newest member. First time head coach Jon Embree takes over the reigns as the program tries to reset after a down couple of years. Tyler Hansen had a good spring in the new pro-style offense and the Buffs have a listed 17 starters coming back overall that gives them some hope this year. There's a bunch of questions on defense as the team moves to a more traditional 4-3 alignment from last year's 3-3-5. The front seven seems to be ok coming out of drills but replacing both corners is still a concern.

Washington State

What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on the Palouse but there's hope this spring. The Cougars are set at quarterback with Jeff Tuel and former starter Marshall Lobbestael and the offensive line seems solid coming out of the spring. The front seven was impressive this spring and should be much improved from last year with a bit of depth Washington State hasn't had. Special teams is a bit of a concern and didn't really get worked out this spring.

 
 
 
 
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