Tag:BBVA Compass Bowl
Posted on: October 30, 2011 1:20 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 9

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: Mark Richt. 
It's not just that the victory today was only Richt's third in 10 tries against the team most Georgia fans want to beat more than any other. It's not just that with the win, the Dawgs are two home victories over a middle-of-the-pack Auburn and far-below-the-pack Kentucky from a 7-1 SEC record ... and with a little help from someone vs. South Carolina, a trip to Atlanta. It's not just that after today, it seems close-to-impossible that Richt won't return for an 11th season on the Georgia sideline. 

It's that in many ways, this victory belonged to Richt. It was Richt who was able to keep his struggling team mentally afloat when the Gators took a 17-3 lead and the Dawg half of the stadium couldn't help but think "here we go again." It was Richt who made the calls to go for it on 4th-and-long inside the red zone once Blair Walsh showed himself unreliable, calls that resulted in two of the Dawgs' three scores in a game where points came as easily as pulled teeth. And it was Richt who showed enough faith in the flailing Aaron Murray -- who'd missed nine straight attempts -- to endorse a throw on 2nd-and-9 as the Dawgs tried to run out the clock.

That decision worked, as did nearly every move Richt made Saturday. That's what it was, and why Georgia won.

LOSER: Charlie Weis. We don't want to be too hard on Mr. Decided Schematic Advantage, since the quarterbacks he's worked with the past few weeks have been 1. true freshmen 2. still kind of hurt 3. more inherited than hand-picked. But still: between weapons like Chris Rainey, Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Deonte Thompson and even a half-speed Jeff Demps, we're not sure there's excuses enough to explain 10 second-half points across four games, one first down in the second half against Georgia, or 175 total rushing yards in this four-game losing streak on all of 1.5 yards a carry. Weis arrived at Florida with a reputation for expertly handling quarterbacks and passing games but perhaps not having a good idea of how to operate a rushing attack with smaller backs like Rainey and Demps ... and with Brantley's downfield accuracy gone and the field shrunk, Weis has lived up to every bit of that reputation.

WINNER: Vanderbilt. We know, we know, they lost. But they also outgained the nation's No. 8 team (and one of its most explosive offenses) by 74 yards. Their years of wandering the wilderness at the quarterback position appears over, thanks to Jordan Rodgers' outstanding 15-of-27, 240 yard, 66 rushing yards, 3 touchdown, zero turnovers performance. They took over down 3 at their own 9 with 3 minutes remaining, a situation in which Vandy has accomplished nothing since the days of Jay Cutler, and promptly drove 80 yards for what should have been the game-tying field goal. Top-to-bottom, Vanderbilt was a better team than Arkansas Saturday.

In short, in so many, many ways, James Franklin's Vanderbilt is not the same old Vanderbilt

LOSER: Vanderbilt. Of course, there were even more ways in which Vanderbilt was precisely the same Vanderbilt they've been for decades. Shall we count the ways? The four or five easy interceptions which Commodore defenders let slip through their hands ... the backbreaking 15-point fourth-quarter swing as their best offensive player, running back Zac Stacy, fumbles the ball at the opponent's 3-yard line (without being touched) for a touchdown fumble return the other way ... with a chance to go in at halftime up 21-7 and in firm control of the game, the touchdown allowed with five seconds remaining ... and, yes, the shanked 27-yard field goal at the bitter, bitter end.

Until further notice: same old Vandy.

WINNER: South Carolina offensive tackle Cody Gibson. Gibson is a big fella: 6'6", 285 pounds. And when Tennessee's Prentiss Wagner picked off a third-quarter pass from Connor Shaw and bolted clear for the Gamecock end zone 56 yards away, Gibson probably could have been forgiven for ... well, not quitting on the play, but only making a token effort; the odds of the tackle being made by a tackle among the Gamecocks' receivers and running backs and the quarterback was insanely low, right? But Gibson made much more of an effort than that, going all-out in pursuit of Waggner until the corner cut back towards the middle of the field, cut again, had to slow up one last time ... and Gibson caught him, flattening him at the Gamecock 2-yard line. 

Against most offenses, that might not have mattered much. But vs. Tennessee's? It mattered a ton: only two plays later, Vol freshman QB Justin Worley threw an ugly interception, and Gibson's play had saved his team seven points in a game which only totaled 17. Instead of being down 10-7 with a wobbly Shaw in front of a fired-up Knoxville crowd, Carolina drove 98 yards for their own touchdown and (for all intents and purposes) the win. Gibson's play won't make him a star, but Saturday, there's no question it made him a winner.

LOSER: Barrett Trotter. This might a touch unfair to Trotter, who didn't even see the field Saturday. But whatever hope he had of reclaiming the starting quarterback job he lost at halftime of Auburn's win over Florida was extinguished for the foreseeable future by Clint Moseley's outing against Ole Miss. The redshirt sophomore (left)connected on 12 of his 15 attempts for 10.7 yards a pass and four touchdowns ... all without an interception. More importantly, the Auburn offense looked like the Auburn offense for the first time in weeks, rolling up 414 yards and 41 points on a Rebel defense that caused real problems for Arkansas last week. Remember those Snickers commercials? Where the Tiger pecking order under center is concerned, neither Trotter nor Moseley are going anywhere for a while.

WINNER: The Liberty Bowl. With LSU and Alabama surely off to the BCS and a pair of teams with precious little bowl eligibility hope in Kentucky and Ole Miss, the SEC was already in danger of not fulfilling all its bowl tie-ins ... and a Wildcat win against Mississippi State would have made things even more dire for the last couple of bowls at the end of the food chain, as that result would likely leave neither team in striking distance of the postseason. As is, the BBVA Compass Bowl is still likely out of luck, but the venerable Liberty can live in hope--the Bulldogs have both FCS patsy UT-Martin and the Rebels on the schedule.

LOSER: The rest of the SEC. It's now officially LSU-Alabama week. We'll see the other 10 of you next Sunday*.

*We're kidding, geez. Mostly kidding, anyway. 

Posted on: March 30, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Kentucky

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 Kentucky, which started spring practice last week.

Spring Practice Question: Can the 'Cats find a passing game?

When all was said and done, the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats were about what the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats were supposed to be: good enough to scrape to a low-level bowl game (the Birmingham-based BBVA Compass Bowl) , good enough for one major upset (against South Carolina) and a couple of scares, but not good enough to make any real noise even in a watered-down SEC East (2-6 conference record), and not nearly good enough to regain the momentum and top-25 attention from the Andre Woodson glory years. Around .500 was where the Wildcats were expected to finish, and around .500 -- 6-7 following the bowl loss to Pitt, specifically -- was where they wound up.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't something of a major surprise in how the Wildcats got to "around .500" in the first year of the Joker Phillips era. The first couple of seasons following Woodson's departure, Kentucky relied heavily on their ground game as an experienced offensive line, talented rushers like Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke, and iffy quarterbacking made that the 'Cats best option. Thanks to Cobb's dynamism and versatility, the Wildcat frequently became the offense's most effective form of attack.

With Cobb and Locke still around and the inefficient Mike Hartline still under center, not many expected that plan to change coming into 2010. But a strong fall camp from Hartline -- which he needed simply to keep the job away from sophomore Morgan Newton -- led to a stunningly good season; the senior increased his yards per-attempt by nearly two full yards and improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio from 6-to-7 to an impressive 23-to-9. The end result? The second-leading passing offense in the SEC at 269 yards a game and the 31st-best team quarterbacking rating in the country.

Of course, Hartline didn't manage it alone. There was Cobb, for starters, who made multiple All-American teams as an all-purpose player but spent most of his time at wideout and wound up with 1,017 receiving yards. He was followed closely by 6'5" Chris Matthews, who blossomed after a ho-hum junior season with 925 yards of his own. Even Locke chipped in with 318 yards out of the backfield.

So the good news for Kentucky is that after years of relying on one aspect or the other, their offense finally gained some semblance of balance. The bad news is that all the key players who made that balance possible are gone: Hartline, Matthews, and Locke have all graduated, and Cobb elected to turn pro a year early.

What's left is, on paper, less-than-inspiring. Newton will take over at quarterback after completing just 58 percent of his 43 passes in 2010 without a touchdown; he threw 135 times in 2009 but completed just 55 percent of those for a meager 5.2 yards per-attempt. But Kentucky won't have many other options, with Phillips citing grayshirted true freshman Max Smith as Newton's only competition at the moment. (Smith and Newton are, in fact, the 'Cats only scholarship quarterbacks.)

Spring Practice Primers
At receiver, junior La'Rod King returns after snaring 36 balls for 478 yards a year ago. But the next most prolific returning wideout is senior Matt Roark, who caught just 12 receptions without a touchdown, and no other wideout caught more than three. Tight end Jordan Aumiller and whoever emerges at running back -- likely sophomore Raymond Sanders -- will no doubt contribute as well, but it's nonetheless hard to see Newton getting that much help out of his receiving corps.

That doesn't mean there's not hope, though. Phillips is the same coach who coaxed the massive year-to-year improvement out of Hartline; who's to say he can't do the same with the athletic Newton? And if Newton won't get that big of a boost from his receivers, he ought to get plenty of one from his running game, one led by an offensive line with four retunring starters including all-conference junior guard Larry Warford. Then there's Phillips himself, who's guided the Kentucky offense for years and has consistently produced quality results.

But this is likely his biggest challenge yet. Without a functional passing game, even this line likely wouldn't be able to generate a game-winning rushing attack all on its own, and certainly not without the likes of Cobb or Locke. The Wildcat defense should improve, but if Phillips can't use this spring to rebuild some measure of last year's aerial success, Kentucky's school-record bowl streak may not make it to 2012.


Posted on: January 7, 2011 1:09 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: BBVA Compass Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Basics: Pitt (7-5) vs. Kentucky (6-6), 12 p.m. EST, Jan. 8, Birmingham, Ala.

Why You Should Watch: It's your final chance to spend a Saturday afternoon watching college football. Isn't that reason enough? If it's not, well, frankly, a matchup between a unexciting Pitt squad of questionable motivation (following the ouster of Dave Wannstedt) and a .500 Kentucky team that slumped badly down the stretch probably won't get your pulse racing. But the Wildcats' receiver/returner/Wildcat (as in the formation) quarterback Randall Cobb is one of the most underrated and explosive players in the country, and there's also the chance that Pitt preseason All-American running back Dion Lewis could pick up where he left off in his late-season (as in, final game) breakout and go bananas again.

But mostly, as we said, it's the last-chance saloon for weekend college football. Drink up while you can.

Keys to Victory for Pitt: The first -- and probably most important one -- is simply for the Panthers to show up. Pitt has already endured one of the most disappointing seasons in the country, an insanely tumultuous offseason that's featured Wannstedt's firing, Mike Haywood's hiring, then Haywood's firing, and Wannstedt waffling until this week on whether he'd bother to come to Birmingham or not. Pitt's morale and focus probably wasn't great even before the coaching drama; though interim head coach Phil Bennett has head coaching experience and is as respected as anyone on staff, it's still anyone's guess what kind of mindset the Panthers will bring to their (admittedly lower-rent) bowl.

But if the Panthers are locked in, they've got the tools to make life very hard on the Wildcats. Offensively, Lewis appears to be back in form after his early-season struggles, receiver Jonathan Baldwin's size will present some serious matchup problems for the Kentucky corners, and the young (and often inconsistent) offensive line should benefit from the extra practice time. Defensively, though the Panthers will miss injured defensive end Jabaal Sheard, Bennett's charges finished a quiet ninth in the country in total defense, and should have little difficulty stopping a 'Cat passing attack minus starting suspended starting quarterback Mike Hartline. On paper, the Panthers ought to be the favorites.

But emotion regularly makes a hash of what "ought" to happen on paper in football, and what kind of emotion Pitt will play with is very much a question right now.

Keys to Victory for Kentucky: The Wildcat's first problem is obvious: Hartline's absence through suspension for a public intoxication arrest. That leaves sophomore Morgan Newton at the helm of the offense; while he hasn't played this season (only seven passes attempted), Newton's freshman season saw him complete 55.6 percent of his 135 passes for only 5.2 yards per attempt. He's likely to be a little sharper with another year under his belt and the extra bowl practice to prepare, but he'll also have to deal with a Pitt pass rush that's been one of the country's best the past couple of seasons (even without Sheard). Newton must play under control, and the Wildcat offensive line -- in a bit of good news for Kentucky, one that's allowed only 15 sacks all season, second-best in the SEC -- must give him time, or the Wildcat passing attack will be dead-on-arrival.

If Newton is on point and the line does give him time, the Wildcats have the weapons to put plenty of points on the board; Cobb, running back Derrick Locke, and 6'5" receiver Chris Matthews would all start for a lot of teams a lot higher-ranked than Kentucky. They may need them, since aside from revelatory first-team All-SEC linebacker Danny Trevathan (the conference's leader in tackles), few Wildcats stood out on defense this season either in rush defense -- where the 'Cats gave up 170 yards a game -- or pass defense, where the 'Cats ranked 81st by giving up 7.4 yards an attempt.

Of course, as unthreatening as Pitt's offense has been at times, the game promises to be tight and low-scoring regardless. Which is where Cobb comes in: one big special teams return or huge play out of the backfield could decide the game, and the Panthers don't appear to have a similar weapon.

The BBVA Compass Bowl is like: the small-town gas station off the Interstate that the sign says is your last opportunity to fill up for 73 miles or so. You stop because, hey, better get some gas. But maybe there's also a souvenir inside, a little Randall Cobb or Dion Lewis-shaped figurine, that you'll want to keep and remember during the long Saturday football-less road ahead.


Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Wannstedt won't coach bowl game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's how messed up the coaching situation has been at Pitt over the last few weeks.  After basically forcing Dave Wannstedt to resign following the season, the school then hired Mike Haywood to take over the program.  Haywood had the job for an entire fourteen days before getting arrested for domestic assault and consequently being dismissed from the job, setting the coaching search wheels in motion once more.

Well, did you know that Pitt still has a bowl game to play?  Yeah, its the BBVA Compass Bowl and it's only a few days away.  Did you also know that up until this morning, Pitt had no idea who would actually be coaching the team in that bowl game?

Dave Wannstedt informed his staff this morning that he won't be coaching the team against Kentucky, which means that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will handle the head coaching duties in the game.

Seriously, the Panthers are giving UConn a run for the money in the "Worst 2011 Ever" contest.  Making matters worse for the Panthers is that they also found out on Monday that senior defensive tackle Jabaal Sheard just had surgery and won't be available to play against Kentucky.

The worst news it that the game is still five days away.  Who knows what else can happen before then?




Posted on: December 17, 2010 12:59 pm
 

Pitt not sure who's going to coach Pitt in bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mike Haywood was officially introduced as the head coach at Pitt yesterday, and won the press conference with his promise to make the Panthers a more disciplined, more unified team.

But as for winning the Panthers' BBVA Compass Bowl game against Kentucky, Haywood didn't have much to say about that, because he's not coaching the game. Dismissed coach Dave Wannstedt is, right?

Maybe not (emphasis added):
[Athletic director Steve] Pederson made it clear that although Haywood has been hired, the Panthers are Wannstedt's team until after the BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 8. Wannstedt, forced to resign last week, has yet to decide whether he will coach the Panthers in that game.
So, just to be clear, let's review the Panthers' bowl-coaching options:

1. Dave Wannstedt. May not coach in the bowl.

2. Mike Haywood. Will not coach in the bowl.

3. ?????????.

OK, so behind door No. 3 is almost certainly one of the current Wannstedt assistants -- defensive coordinator Phil Bennett even has head coaching experience from his days at SMU -- but even for a Jan. 8 bowl, practice must start within days. If Wannstedt himself doesn't take the helm, someone has to.

If Pederson wants this blogger's nickel's worth of free advice, Wannstedt's ambivalence about remaining in charge ought to indicate -- all by itself -- that he probably shouldn't be the guy in charge. It's a well-meaning gesture on Pederson's part to let him leave the job with some kind of dignity, but if a gesture he's not interested in accepting, it's time to move on. The Panthers' disappointing season and occasionally aimless-looking coaching search has already made Pitt look bad; an uninspired, unfocused, unprepared loss to a .500 Kentucky team will only make them look worse.

HT: TSK .

Posted on: December 11, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Kentucky suspends Hartline for Compass Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Well, something tells me this isn't how Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline saw his collegiate career coming to an end, but he made his bed, and now he'll be lying in it instead of playing in a bowl game.  Hartline was arrested early Friday morning for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and failure to notify the department of transportation on an address change.  Now, a day later, his head coach announced that he'll be suspending Hartline -- a fifth year senior -- for Kentucky's appearance against Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

"Mike Hartline has had a good record here, conduct-wise, and I regret this," Joker Phillips told the media after practice on Saturday. "I regret that this happened, but it did. I really hate that it happened because of what he's done for us this year in leading this program to our fifth-straight bowl. He's done a great job at that, but we have clear expectations our players, how we want them to act, how we want them to behave."

Phillips also said that Hartline will be allowed to be with the team in Birmingham for the bowl game if he wants to go.

As for who will replace Hartline, who has started all 12 Kentucky games at quarterback this season, it looks like the job will go to sophomore Morgan Newton.  
Posted on: December 10, 2010 12:39 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2010 12:40 pm
 

The Wannstache doesn't shave off that easily

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you saw Dave Wannstedt's press conference to announce his resignation at Pitt earlier this week, the impression you got was likely that he couldn't wait to get out of that school fast enough.  It was either that or he was afraid he'd break down in tears if he talked too long, and nobody wants to see a mustache that glorious stained by tears.

Well, it's starting to look like it may have been the latter, as Wannstedt has reportedly made a decision about what he's going to do for Pitt's bowl game. Job or no job, that mustache will be leading his team into Birmingham.
In the days since the announcement that Wannstedt would no longer be the Panthers' head coach, multiple sources told PantherLair.com that Wannstedt planned to lead the Panthers in the BBVA Compass Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on January 8. 
On Thursday, defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said as much during a press conference in Birmingham to promote Pitt's bowl matchup against Kentucky. Wannstedt did not make the trip to Birmingham. 

Not really a surprising decision since Wannstedt will be staying on at Pitt as a special assistant to athletic director Steve Pederson.  What exactly that entails, I have no idea.  Maybe Wanny will drive Pederson around in his Camaro or give him grooming tips.
Posted on: December 5, 2010 4:33 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2010 4:59 pm
 

Report: Bowl bids coming fast


J. Darin Darst


TampaBay.com is reporting that South Florida and Clemson will meet in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas is reporting that Texas Tech has accepted a bowl bid to play Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl .

Alabama.com is reporting Pittsburgh has accepted an invite to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl, which is the old Papajohns.com Bowl.

The Fresno Bee says Fresno State is headed back to the Humanitarian Bowl to play Northern Illinois. Interesting note, Fresno is 0-3 against teams with 10 wins this year, losing to Hawaii, Nevada and Boise State. Northern Illinois is 10-3.

The Dallas Morning News is also saying Baylor will be headed to the Texas Bowl. Fox Sports reported the info during broadcast of the Baylor women's basketball game.

The Detroit News says the Little Caesars Bowl is set with Toledo taking on FIU. That means Miami (Ohio), which won the MAC on Saturday night, will be headed to the GoDaddy.com Bowl.





 
 
 
 
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