Tag:Brian Kelly
Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 7:24 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Cincinnati 31, Vanderbilt 24



Posted by Chip Patterson


CINCINNATI WON. Senior quarterback Zach Collaros took the field less than two months after breaking his ankle, and finished his Cincinnati career a winner as the Bearcats won a wild and crazy Liberty Bowl 31-24.

HOW CINCINNATI WON: Collaros' timing in the passing game looked off all afternoon, and he struggled to hit his wide receivers in stride. Luckily, the Bearcats' defense held Vanderbilt to just 295 total yards of offense and delivered an interception to set up Isaiah Pead's touchdown run to seal the victory. With the passing game struggling, Pead was the reliable workhorse in the offensive backfield for head coach Butch Jones. The Big East Offensive Player of the Year also finished his career in style: with 150 yards on 28 carries and the final touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. Credit Vanderbilt for fighting through their offensive woes to keep it interesting in the end, particularly the play of All-SEC cornerback Casey Hayward who led the way with two interceptions. But the offensive miscues ended up costing Vanderbilt in the end, and Cincinnati picked up a huge win in Year 2 of the Butch Jones era.

WHAT CINCINNATI WON: Their fourth 10+ win season in five years. Butch Jones has done an incredible job putting the pieces together after the 4-8 finish last season and quickly bringing Cincinnati right back to the place where Brian Kelly left it. Bearcats' fans had become accustomed to competing for Big East titles and playing in bowl games, so the struggles of 2010 were unfamiliar territory. With a share of the Big East title, and another 10-win season for the program; Jones has proven to the administration he's worth every penny of his restructured contract.

WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: A disappointing performance for Jordan Rodgers. After finishing the season with the starting job locked up, he looked shaky at the start and was eventually replaced by Larry Smith. Word from Vanderbilt during the game was a hip injury, but after completing just 4 of 14 passes for 26 yards and throwing an interception his substitution from the starting lineup may have been performance-related.

THAT WAS CRAZY: In the first minute of the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt took a 21-17 lead on Chris Boyd's 68 yard touchdown reception from Smith. Boyd was suffering from cramp in his right leg, but exploded down the sideline when he hauled in the catch. He began to limp as he approached the goal line, and collapsed to the ground once he reached the end zone. Cincinnati's defensive backs have been better this season, but getting burned for a deep touchdown by an injured wide receiver looked more like the unit that suffered against the pass in 2010.

BOWL GRADE: B+. I would have liked to see a better showing from both Collaros and Rodgers, but the forced turnovers and big special teams plays were exactly what I expected from these two squads. Two very promising young coaches on the rise featured here, and I'd guess we will see both coaches back in the postseason in 2012.

Preview the next games on the bowl slate at the Bowl Schedule Pregame

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:18 am
 

Butch Jones agrees to extension with Cincinnati

Posted by Chip Patterson

After being linked with many of the higher profile FBS job vacancies this offseason, Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones has decided to firm up his commitment to the Bearcats. Jones and school have agreed to terms on a contract extension that will extend through the 2017 season.

"I think in the next couple of days we'll be able to announce something," Jones said after Monday's bowl practice. "We say we're building the best college football program in America. We have a great thing here. There's a lot of excitement here."

Jones has reportedly been working with athletic director Whit Babcock on a new contract for several weeks. The term sheet has been signed, but the contract still must be approved by the Board of Trustees. The Bearcats are currently preparing to play Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 in Memphis.

Jones helped lead the Bearcats on a five-win turnaround in his second season after a disappointing 4-8 finish in 2010. With their win over Connecticut in the regular season finale, Cincinnati earned a share of their third Big East conference title in four years. Jones' impressive turnaround earned him Big East Coach of the Year honors, as well as some attention from other programs looking for a new coach. The second-year Cincinnati coach was contacted by North Carolina, Illinois, and UCLA regarding their open coaching positions, but Jones never expressed serious interest in any of the opportunities.

"I believe in what we're building," Jones explained. "I think there's so many great things to building a successful football program and not just a successful team. We have great practice facilities now. We're in a conference that we can be extremely competitive in, we have a great fan base. We've got a great place to attract the top-caliber student athletes to."

Before departing for the Notre Dame position, Brian Kelly led the Bearcats to three straight 10+ win seasons from 2007-2009. With a win over Vanderbilt in the bowl game on New Years Eve, Jones will have Cincinnati back at the 10-win mark for the fourth time in five years.

Get all the latest updates on Cincinnati and Vanderbilt at our Liberty Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: The Irish offense will face their toughest test of the year in the Florida State defense in this game. The Seminoles finished the year sixth in the nation in total defense and actually gave up less yards per carry (2.32) than any other defense in the country, including Alabama and LSU. Which isn't good news for a Notre Dame defense that will be without Jonas Gray (791 yards, 12 TDs) in this game. This means that if Notre Dame is going to find success on offense, it will likely come through the air. The Seminoles aren't bad in that area either, as they're 32nd in the nation in defensive pass efficiency. Of course, as has usually been the case with the Irish this season, the most important part of this game will be whether or not they can take care of the ball. Turnovers have killed the Irish throughout the season, and against a defense this good, Tommy Rees and the rest of the Irish offense cannot afford to give the ball away.

FLORIDA STATE WILL WIN IF: Assuming the Florida State defense can do a good job of keeping the Irish offense in check, then there's reason to believe the Seminoles can find enough success on offense to pick up a win here. The Florida State offense hasn't been prolific this season, but against a Notre Dame defense that is good but not great, the opportunities to put points on the board will be there. E.J. Manuel hasn't been great throwing the ball this season, but he's had some solid games and this could be a chance for another one. The Notre Dame defense may be allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete less than 60% of their passes in 2011, but it's also only picked off 8 passes while allowing 21 passing touchdowns on the year. And with Florida State's running game being a bit anemic this season and Notre Dame being pretty solid against the run, the passing game will be the way the Seminoles want to go.

X-FACTOR: Andrew Hendrix. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has already named Tommy Rees his starting quarterback for the bowl game, but that doesn't mean he's going to take all the snaps. Hendrix saw a lot of playing time over the final few weeks of the season, and considering that Kelly seems to feel that Hendrix is his quarterback of the future, I'd expect him to get quite a bit of playing time in this one as well. He brings a new dimension to the Notre Dame offense because unlike Rees, Hendrix can beat you with his legs. So it will be interesting to see how much Hendrix plays and how the Irish utilize him.

You can check out our extensive preview of the Champs Sports Bowl here
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:24 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 10:25 pm
 

Zach Collaros 'optimistic' he can play in bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Cincinnati starting quarterback Zach Collaros came close to seeing his career as a Bearcat come to an end when he suffered a broken ankle on Nov. 12 in a 24-21 loss to West Virginia. Collaros was ruled out for the remainder of the regular-season immediately, but his rapid recovery kept the door open on a return for the postseason. According to Tom Groeschen, of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the senior quarterback has already done some 7-on-7 drills and is "pretty optimistic" he can play in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.

"I'm just getting as much rehab as possible. I've been living in the training room," Collaros explained on Wednesday. "I'm just going to keep doing whatever they tell me to do, and hopefully my body heals."

Collaros still has yet to run on the injured ankle, but head coach Butch Jones did say the quarterback is "way ahead of schedule" in his recovery. Jones explained what the coaches and staff will be looking for, and said it's about 50/50 whether Collaros would finish his Cincinnati career in the bowl game against Vanderbilt.

"The next week is going to be critical with some game-speed repetitions, and we'll see if he continues to progress," Jones said on Wednesday. "Each day he gets better and better. The big thing we're monitoring with his limited activity right now is the amount of swelling. The swelling has really been controlled, but it's really too early to tell if he'll be able to go or not."

The quarterbacking duties for the remainder of the regular season were primarily in the hands of sophomore Munchie Leguax, with Jordan Luallen serving as a change-of-pace rushing threat. Leguax finished the season 2-1 as a starter, helping the Bearcats claim a share of their third Big East conference title in four years. West Virginia claimed the three-team BCS tie-breaker with Cincinnati and Louisville, but the 9-3 finish was a huge step forward for Butch Jones is his second year with the program.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 11:24 pm
 

Manti Te'o returning for senior season

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's safe to say that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly found himself with a giant smile on his face Sunday night. Linebacker Manti Te'o made the announcement that he'd be returning to Notre Dame for his senior season instead of leaving to enter the NFL draft.

Te'o was projected to be a first round pick in the draft if he did decide to leave early, but instead made an impromptu announcement about his decision while in Newport Beach, California for an awards ceremony in which he was a nominee. His father confirmed the news to the Chicago Tribune via text message.

Which is very good news for the Notre Dame defense in 2012. The unit finished 34th in the country in yards against per game in 2011, and was 28th in scoring defense, and now its leader will be returning for another year. Te'o led the Irish in tackles (111), tackles for loss (12) and sacks (4.5) during the regular season.

Te'o's return is even more important when considering that the Irish defense will lose 6 starters to graduation this year, including the entire secondary.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Report: Former ND QB Dayne Crist eyeing Wisconsin

Posted by Chip Patterson

Former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist was recently granted a release from his scholarship in South Bend, and the highly-touted high school star is reportedly considering Wisconsin for his final year of eligibility.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing sources familiar with both Notre Dame and Wisconsin, report " Crist is high on Wisconsin." The former Irish signal-caller is set to graduate from Notre Dame later this month, making him eligible for the "free agent"-style transfer recently exhibited by current Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson. For Crist to use his final year of eligibility at an FBS school in 2012, he would need to enroll in a graduate program not offered at Notre Dame.

Crist won a quarterback battle with Tommy Rees before the start of the 2011 season, but was benched after Notre Dame's 23-20 loss to South Florida in the first week of the season. Over the course of the season he eventually dropped to No. 3 on the Irish depth chart behind sophomore Andrew Hendrix, and his decision to leave came as no surprise to most.

Wilson's success in Paul Chyst's pro-style offense has been well publicized throughout the season. While head coach Bret Bielema cannot comment on potential transfers due to NCAA rules, he has acknowledged that there has been a heightened interest in transferring to Madison.

“Because of the success of Russell Wilson,” Bielema said, “I’ve been contacted by almost 10 players who want to talk about the opportunity to transfer in to the University of Wisconsin.”

Jon Budmayr, the starting quarterback at the end of Wisconsin's spring practice in 2011, fell from the quarterback race in the fall with nerve problems in his right elbow. Redshirt freshman Joe Brennan and freshman Joel Stave are both prepared to compete for the starting job after Wilson's departure. When healthy, Crist threw for over 2,000 yards and completed 59.2 percent of his passes over nine games in 2010. But even that season was ended when he suffered a torn patella tendon in his right knee, the second season ending injury in the same knee.

Will Dayne Crist be the next Russell Wilson? Weigh in at our new Eye On College Football Facebook page.

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Posted on: December 4, 2011 1:40 am
Edited on: December 4, 2011 1:40 am
 

Dayne Crist is leaving Notre Dame

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist has asked for and been granted his release from the school and will begin talks with other schools about a transfer according to the Chicago Tribune.

This does not come as much of a shock to anybody who has been paying attention to Notre Dame this season. After beginning the season as the team's starter after a competition with Tommy Rees during the spring and fall, Crist lasted only one half before being benched for Rees in Notre Dame's season-opening loss to South Florida.

Yet, even when the Notre Dame offense struggled with turnovers the next few weeks under Rees, Crist only saw playing time after Rees suffered an injury and had to come out. Crist was even surpassed by Andrew Hendrix, who came in as a change of pace quarterback over the last month of the season.

Crist met with head coach Brian Kelly to discuss his situation on Friday.

Since Crist has only one year of eligibility left he will not be required to sit out a year before playing at another school. Exactly what school that will be is not known, though Wisconsin, Utah and San Diego State have all been mentioned as possibilities while rumors swirled Crist would transfer over the last few weeks.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:40 pm
 

Cincinnati clinches share of Big East title



Posted by Chip Patterson


After a frustrating and disappointing 4-8 showing in his first year as head coach, Butch Jones has silenced some of his doubters in Cincinnati. The Bearcats jumped out to an early lead against Connecticut and held off the relentless Huskies for a 35-27 win, giving Cincinnati a share of the Big East Championship.

It was a rough start for Connecticut, who put themselves in an early 14-0 hole thanks to Johnny McEntee turnovers that resulted in touchdowns. First Cincinnati defensive lineman Walter Stewart plucked the ball out of McEntee's hands and crossed the plane for a score, then it was Drew Frey who took an interception 15 yards in for a touchdown just before the end of the first quarter. McEntee is usually spelled by rushing threat Scott McCummings, but with the freshman out of the game the former walk-on kept slinging it and got the Huskies back into the game late. Two fourth quarter touchdown passes cut the lead to one score, but the Bearcats were able to bleed the clock and hold on for the win.

Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux played arguably the best game of his young career throwing for 252 yards and three touchdowns while adding 28 yards with his feet. Leagaux struggled as the Bearcats dropped two in a row after losing starting quarterback Zach Collaros to a season-ending ankle injury, but the sophomore quarterback looked much improved in the final two games of the season. Those two victories helped the Bearcats win their third Big East Championship in a four year period, after winning outright in 2008 and 2009.

The win is bittersweet for Cincinnati, who was likely eliminated from contention for the conference's BCS bowl bid with West Virginia's win on Thursday. The tiebreaker used in the event of a three-way shared championship is BCS ranking, and the Mountaineers entered the week as the only team ranked in the Top 25 of the standings. Louisville, who clinched a share of the Big East title last week, needed a Connecticut victory on Saturday to hope for a two-team tie at the top with West Virginia. The Cardinals would own the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their 38-35 upset win Morgantown earlier this year.

The three coaches tied atop the Big East standings (Jones, Charlie Strong, and Dana Holgorsen) at the end of 2011 have five combined years of experience at their current post. This is the first head coaching opportunity for Strong and Holgorsen, and Jones is fresh off his first gig at Central Michigan. If it wasn't for West Virginia sprinting towards the exit door and a uncertain expansion in the near future, you could argue things are looking up for this young group of Big East coaches.

West Virginia likely earns a trip to the Orange Bowl thanks to a three-team tiebreaker. If you think Cincinnati or Louisville deserved the bid let us know at the new Eye On College Football Facebook page.

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