Tag:New Mexico State
Posted on: September 25, 2011 5:50 pm
 

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill readmitted to hospital

Posted by Chip Patterson

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill announced on Sunday that he is readmitting himself to the hospital to treat ongoing seizure issues he has been suffering since his incident on Sept. 10.

Kill suffered a seizure in the fourth quarter of Minnesota's home loss to New Mexico State two weeks ago, and admitted to dealing with multiple seizure events since that scare.  He was last released from the hostpital on Sept. 15, just five days after the event.

“Coach Kill is determined to get this issue resolved,” director of athletics Joel Maturi said in an official release. “We all want what’s best for him, and his health is our first and foremost concern. I have full confidence that our football staff will get the team prepared while Jerry is away. We all want him back on the sidelines. But it’s time to find a resolution.”

According to the school, Kill suffered another seizure on Sunday morning. The Gophers' head coach is in good condition and his vital signs are reportedly "strong." There is no timetable for his dismissal from the Mayo Clinic or his return to the sideline for the team.

For more information on the Golden Gophers be sure to check out our Minnesota 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. | Preview
Posted on: September 25, 2011 4:19 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 12:19 pm
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Sep. 24)



Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. The Big Ten can't even get cheap wins correctly. There's no nice way to put this: this was possibly the worst week in Big Ten history in terms of opponent quality. The total amount of AP and coaches poll votes held by the Big Ten's Week 4 opponents? 22, received by Michigan opponent San Diego State, who will likely see that number fall to zero on Sunday after the Wolverines prevailed 28-7. Handfuls of undeserved votes aside, the best team anybody in the Big Ten faced today was Western Michigan, who took Illinois to the limit in Champaign. Again: Western Michigan, a MAC team with no AP or coaches poll votes, looked like the most talented opponent of Week 4 for anybody in the Big Ten. And being that there were no riots on any of the Big Ten campuses, apparently fans are willing to allow this scheduling practice to continue.

So it would stand to reason that the Big Ten went 10-0 this week (Purdue and Northwestern are on bye weeks) then, correct? Well, no. Indiana couldn't overcome a 24-point deficit in a 24-21 home road loss to North Texas, and Minnesota increased its losing streak against North Dakota State to two games (also lost to Bison in 2007) by dropping Saturday's game, 37-24. As for how such a shocking loss could have possibly happened to a Big Ten team, well, look at the picture above. It's Minnesota. There were blowouts everywhere else in the conference, which is the way it ought to be, but 8-2 against a slate of cupcakes? Shame on the Big Ten for that.

2. Speaking of which, Indiana and Minnesota may be worse than we thought. It was obvious already that Indiana and Minnesota were going to be taking up residence in the basements of their respective divisions, what with the Hoosiers losing to Ball State in Week 1 and Minnesota dropping one to New Mexico State already this year. But both teams' losses to low-level competition this Saturday were even worse, because for most of the game, they weren't even close. North Texas was 0-3 on the year coming into the game, and built a 24-0 lead while moving the ball at will on the Hoosier defense, while NDSU held a 31-14 advantage in the second half before holding on for the win. We're talking about a previously winless Sun Belt team and an FCS school who both looked like they belonged in the Big Ten more than the Hoosiers or Gophers. That? That's not good.

3. Braxton Miller is not on Terrelle Pryor's level... yet. Ohio State cruised to a 37-17 victory over visiting Pac-12 doormat Colorado, but the big story here was Braxton Miller's debut as a starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. Miller was a force on the ground, registering 83 yards on 17 carries, and he also threw for two touchdowns. That's the good part. The bad part is that Miller was just 5-13 for 83 yards through the air, and he just doesn't have a very good read progression at this point. Really, he wasn't even supposed to be playing this year, much less starting, but then Terrelle Pryor's eligibility walked out the door and now here we are with a true freshman under center in Columbus.

Miller's going to improve over the course of the year, one would imagine, and that's good because don't let the touchdowns fool you: he's got a ways to go yet before he's as reliable as Luke Fickell is going to need him to be in conference play. Miller did show flashes of the athleticism and play-making ability that made him such a sought-after prospect on Saturday, but the consistency is going to be the key, and that comes mainly with time -- time that, with Michigan State coming to town next Saturday, Ohio State doesn't really have.

4. Michael Mauti's luck is just wretched. Penn State beat Eastern Michigan 34-6, but the real story for PSU is the injuries suffered on the defensive side of the ball. CB D'Anton Lynn was carted off the field in the second half with an apparent neck injury, but he's expected to be fine. The real problem for the Nittany Lions is the absence of All-American candidate Michael Mauti, who suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact injury in the first quarter and will miss the rest of the year. Mauti was forced to redshirt in 2009, his second year with Penn State, after tearing his right ACL; Saturday's injury happened to Mauti's left. It's early enough in the year that he'll likely be able to apply for a sixth year of eligibility in 2013 if he wants it.

This marks the third season marred by injury for the talented linebacker; in addition to the 2009 ACL injury mentioned earlier, Mauti was plagued by ankle and shoulder issues in 2010 and never seemed to be at 100% during Big Ten play even when he was healthy enough to be on the field (not always the case). Mauti had looked great in early play this season, and although Nate Stupar is no slouch in relief, losing a high-caliber player like Mauti is tough for a team that's going to be leaning heavily on its defense this season with the continuing difficulties at quarterback.

We hope Mauti's recovery is swift and complete, and that he finally gets at least one healthy season to put it all together for Penn State. Anything less, frankly, would be unfair.

5. There are going to be a lot of quarterbacks getting All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition. The best quarterback in the Big Ten is probably Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, and if it's not, it's Mr. MichiganDenard Robinson.(seen at left, rushing for one of his three scores Saturday). Short of injury, there's basically no way these two dynamos cede the All-Big Ten first team and second team honors at the end of this season.

That means honorable mention is going to have to accommodate a lot of Big Ten quarterbacks who are off to great starts this season in their own right. Nathan Scheelhaase is basically a job-saver for Ron Zook at Illinois, epitomizing the "dual threat" label with a high option IQ and an accurate arm. James Vandenberg is probably the best pure passer Kirk Ferentz has ever had at Iowa, and the junior has nearly 1100 yards, 10 TDs, and only one interception in his first four games this year. MSU's Kirk Cousins was my preseason pick as 2011's top QB in the Big Ten, and he still may be so when the dust settles. Nebraska's option man Taylor Martinez would be the most dynamic rushing quarterback in the Big Ten since Antwaan Randle-El if it weren't for that Denard fellow in Ann Arbor. And oh yes, Dan Persa is coming back next week for Northwestern; if he can replicate his pre-Achilles injury form, Northwestern's going to be in great shape. That's a lot of very, very good quarterbacks for just one conference, and the scary part is that only Wilson and Cousins are seniors. Meanwhile, Indiana brings in top prospect Dusty Kiel next season and Braxton Miller will be the unquestioned starter in Columbus with a full year of experience under his belt in 2012. The high-profile quarterback isn't going anywhere soon in the Big Ten. 

One school that's conspicuously absent in this discussion is Penn State, who struggled again with quarterback play in the Rob Bolden/Matt McGloin quarterback platoon that seemed to hit a stride of sorts this week... against EMU, who isn't even good by MAC standards. How the Penn State quarterback situation got so dire is a question that gets beaten past any semblance of sense on a weekly basis in Happy Valley, but it doesn't change the fact that Penn State's in a quarterback-heavy league without a true No. 1 quarterback, and it's probably going to cost the Nittany Lions this year. It would be false to ascribe this to an institutional weakness on the part of Joe Paterno, since his last full-time starting quarterback was Daryll Clark, who was only the Big Ten OPOTY in 2008. It would also be false to think this problem will fix itself, though, because if there were a legitimate, game-ready quarterback on Penn State's roster, well, we would have seen him by now.

6. Well, at least that's all done. There are only two non-conference games left for anybody in the Big Ten; Purdue faces Notre Dame next week, and Northwestern has a date with Rice in November. For everyone else, it's nothing but Big Ten play from here on out. No more FCS patsies, no more MACrifices, and no more cupcakes showing up for a paycheck. It's the way the Big Ten was meant to be played. Let's go. 

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 4:46 pm
 

Jerry Kill released from hospital

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Five days after suffering a seizure on the sidelines during his team's 28-21 loss to New Mexico State, Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill has been released from the hospital, according to Gopher team doctor Pat Smith.

“He is in good spirits and eager to get back to work," Smith said. "He has no restrictions and is free to return to work when he feels up to it."

The question hanging over the Gophers as they prepare to take on a potentially underrated Miami (Ohio) team is this: could Kill "return to work" as soon as this Saturday?

He's done it before; as the head coach at Southern Illinois, Kill suffered a seizure and returned to the Saluki sideline the following weekend. And Kill's assistants have already gone on record as saying they'd be "shocked" if Kill wasn't back in his Gopher headset this Saturday. Kill has already been discussing his team's gameplan with coordinators Tracy Claeys (defense) and Matt Limegrover (offense) from his hospital room.

And thanks to the continuity between Kill and his staff -- Claeys has been on Kill's staffs for the past 15 years, Limegrover the previous 12 -- Kill could likely step in this late in the week without much disruption at all to the team's preparation. From a football standpoint, the only question is whether (as Smith said) Kill feels "up to it."

We won't pretend we're not hoping he is, since his team (and arguably all of college football) could use the kind of inspirational moment Kill leading the Gophers out of the tunnel would provide. But until Kill says one way or the other, We'll simply have to wait to see if it comes to pass.

Posted on: September 11, 2011 4:21 am
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Sep. 10)



Posted by Adam Jacobi


1. Michigan and Denard Robinson, the night is yours. What could there possibly be to say about the Michigan-Notre Dame contest that would properly suit such a game, such a finish? Then again, as those fake old Adidas uniforms (shown above) proved, "proper suiting" had no place in this game, so let's talk about it at length. Michigan slept through the first three quarters, trailing the Fighting Irish 24-7 at the third intermission in a game that didn't even seem that close, and Denard Robinson looked completely ill-suited to succeed in the Brady Hoke/Al Borges offense.

At that point, naturally, all hell broke loose. Michigan scored on the first play of the fourth quarter when Notre Dame stuffed a Wolverine halfback dive at the goal line and forced a fumble ... only the ball bounced right to Robinson, who ran the recovery in for an easy score before anybody else knew what was happening. Robinson would then engineer three more touchdown drives almost singlehandedly, the last taking all of three plays and 28 seconds before Roy Roundtree came down with the game-winning touchdown pass from Robinson with two ticks left on the clock.

The thing of it was, though, Robinson's passing wasn't even good. His accuracy was way off all day, and two of Robinson's three interceptions were absolutely unconscionable throws (including a screen pass that sailed at least five feet over his nearby receiver's head). Even after Robinson came to life late in the third quarter, his big plays were mostly underthrows and jump balls that so markedly didn't fit the arc and timing of the routes that Notre Dame's secondary struggled to adjust to where the throws ended up being, even while they were ostensibly providing good coverage.

And yet still, football is not about style points, it is about actual points, and those comical throws ended up netting Michigan enough actual points to seal the victory and set off a party at the Big House that didn't stop until the police were forced to tell the student section to go home. May all college football games end so delightfully for the home partisans, right?

2. It was pretty rough everywhere else. Michigan beat Notre Dame. That was a marquee win for the conference, without a doubt. But elsewhere, Big Ten members lost to Alabama (fine), Virginia (um), Iowa State (no), Rice (NO), and New Mexico State (NOOOOOOO). The wins, by and large, weren't really impressive either. Ohio State barely scraped by Toledo, and Nebraska caught four tough quarters from Fresno State. And those are two ranked division crown contenders! In the Big Ten! Elsewhere, Illinois and Northwestern throttled their FCS opponents, while Michigan State and Wisconsin took care of business against two wretched FBS opponents in FAU and Oregon State, respectively. That's, um, not a good week.

Of course, BCS Championships aren't won in Week 2, only lost, and aside from maybe Iowa (though that ISU win didn't look like an upset at all), the teams that lost today by and large weren't serious contenders for division titles to begin with. We've got a lot of football left in the year, and teams turning their seasons around after a rocky opening are hardly rare in college ball. That all said, if it's not time to panic yet for the five Big Ten teams with blemished records, it's certainly time for significant concern.  

3. Jerry Kill gets seizures sometimes. The TCF Bank crowd was shocked into silence and play was stopped in the waning seconds of the Minnesota-New Mexico State game on Saturday when Gophers head coach Jerry Kill collapsed and went into a seizure on the sideline. Kill would end up on the ground for about 15 minutes before being carted off and hospitalized. Shortly thereafter, Minnesota medical staff would assure reporters that Kill's life was never in danger, that he has had this seizure disorder for years, and that he will be fine, but still -- that was a terrifying sight.

The interesting aspect of the episode's aftermath is the series of revelations about Kill's disorder, namely that not only will Kill be fine, but he's had similar incidents before and never ended up missing a game of work. That seems unusual to people unfamiliar with seizures -- which would be most people, if we're being honest -- since generally, when someone collapses suddenly, doctors aren't clearing them to work the next week. And yet that's precisely the case with Kill, who has not been given a timetable for a return but will likely do so for Minnesota's next game. Let's hope his seizures don't make a habit of returning, of course, but let's also be thankful that they're generally not life-threatening or even career-altering.

4. Penn State's quarterback situation may be worse than we all imagined. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: Alabama's defense is fantastic this year. Not only is it easily the best Penn State will face this year, it might be one of the ten best defenses Joe Paterno has ever faced. They're going to make a LOT of quarterbacks look bad this year.

That all said, Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin didn't just look bad on Saturday, they looked like they didn't belong on a D-I football field. Bolden finished 11-29 for 144 yards and one interception, and McGloin was an incomprehensible 1-10 for 0 yards. Really. Their wide receivers didn't do them a whole lot of favors, it should be pointed out, and Alabama's coverage was suffocating, but Bolden and McGloin routinely made bad throws regardless of the coverage. It can't have helped that the two QBs were rotated in and out with casual-at-best regard for their on-field performances, and it's likely that JoePa tires somewhat of the platoon situation in the near future, but it was also obvious that neither quarterback is playing at anywhere near a high level, and that's a dire situation without an obvious or effective fix. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this could easily submarine Penn State's season, and Joe Paterno really doesn't have many more seasons to sacrifice to the Bad QB What Are You Gonna Do gods.
Posted on: September 10, 2011 8:08 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 9:56 pm
 

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill suffers seizure

Posted by Adam Jacobi

UPDATE - Minnesota has issued an official release: 

University of Minnesota head football coach Jerry Kill suffered what Gophers team doctor Pat Smith described as a reoccurrence of a seizure disorder with 20 seconds remaining in Gophers’ 28-21 loss to New Mexico State Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Kill was immediately attended to by medical personnel. Dr. Smith said his vital signs were normal as he was cared for on the field. He was then transported by ambulance to a local hospital for further observation.

“Coach Kill has a history of seizures, which has been well controlled through medications,” Dr. Smith said during a postgame news briefing. “There is a history of trouble with dehydration and heat seems to kick that up. It was very hot and humid today.

“We were able to give him medications to sedate him,” Smith continued. “He was breathing, his vital signs were absolutely normal and responded typical of someone responding to a seizure.”

Dr. Smith provided University officials with a further update early in the evening following the game and said that Kill was stable and awake, but medicated. He said that Kill was improving and talking with his wife Rebecca, but would undergo further testing as a precaution.

According to Dr. Smith, Kill is expected to recover fully, but said that it was too early to give a timetable for his return to the team.

----------------------------------
In the waning seconds of New Mexico State's 28-21 victory at Minnesota, Gophers head coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure on the sidelines and was taken directly to the hospital. He is currently in stable condition.

With 20 seconds left in Minnesota's last drive of the game on a 3rd down, Kill fell to the ground and began twitching and flailing. Big Ten Network cameras captured the incident briefly, but quickly cut away as soon as the cameraman realized what was happening. Kill remained down on the field for several minutes before he was put onto a stretcher and carted out of the stadium, as shown at right.

According to Minnesota RapidReporter Dana Wessel, Kill has a history of seizures after his battle with kidney cancer, and this latest episode kept him on the field for 15 minutes before he was carted off. Kill's condition had been made known to the players long before this incident, according to quarterback MarQueis Gray, and considering Kill suffered a seizure during a game in 2005, it'd be hard to keep the disorder a secret.

At any rate, Kill returned to coach the next week after the last in-game seizure and has not missed any games due to seizures, and he is expected to be fine in this instance as well. Minnesota doctor Pat Smith addressed the media after the game and told reporters Kill "was at no time under any risk," and that Kill's reaction to the seizure was normal.

Kill's seizure is likely the result of the heat on the field and dehydration. Temperatures in Minnesota reached the upper 80s on Saturday afternoon.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 12:03 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-WAC Team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.

Offense


QUARTERBACK

Bryant Moniz, Senior, Hawaii

Moniz is the latest in a long line of quarterbacks to rack up insane yardage totals out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In 2010 he threw for 5,040 yards and led the country with 39 touchdown passes. He also led the nation in total offense, and "Mighty Mo" will look to do the same things in 2011 as he makes a Heisman push.

Also watch for: While Moniz gets the most attention in the WAC, don't forget about Fresno State's Derek Carr -- you may remember his older brother David -- and Idaho's Brian Reader. Those two could put up some nice numbers as well.

RUNNING BACK

Robbie Rouse, Junior, Fresno State

Rouse showed a lot promise in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he'll be looking to continue to impress in 2011. If he can, it will be a big boost to Fresno State's chances of winning the WAC.

Robert Turbin, Junior, Utah State

After missing all of the 2010 season with an injury, the only person who wants to see Robert Turbin on the football field more than Aggie fans is Turbin himself. As a sophomore Turbin started 11 games and rushed for 108 yards per game to become Utah State's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001. Along with being a threat carrying the ball, Turbin is also dangerous catching balls out of the backfield and contributing in the passing game.

Also watch for: There are a number of good running backs in the WAC, but there are two that come immediately to mind. Nevada's Mike Ball will get plenty of carries with the Wolfpack now that Vai Taua is no longer around. Then there's Louisiana Tech's Lennon Creer.

WIDE RECEIVER

Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada

I do not envy the position that Nevada quarterback Tyler Lantrip is in trying to replace Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, but he could certainly do a lot worse than having Rishard Matthews around to throw the ball to. Matthews led Nevada with 55 receptions and 873 yards last season, and will be Lantrip's go-to option in the passing game.

Royce Pollard, Senior, Hawaii

With both Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares no longer playing wide receiver for Hawaii, somebody is going to have to step up and catch all those passes, and Pollard is the best bet. As Hawaii's third receiving option in 2010 Pollard finished the year with 64 catches, 901 yards and 7 touchdowns. Imagine the numbers he'll put up as a number one!

Also watch for: Louisiana Tech has a talented duo in Taulib Ikharo and Ahmad Paige. Of course, when it comes to receivers, just about everybody on Hawaii's depth chart is a candidate to excel this season.

TIGHT END:

Ryan Otten, Junior, San Jose State

Otten missed a lot of time for San Jose State thanks to injuries in 2010, but he came on strong at the end of the season. His three touchdown receptions came in the final two games of the season, and he still finished third on the team in touchdown catches even though he missed half the year. He'll be looking to build on the momentum he picked up after getting healthy in 2011.

Also watch for: Idaho sophomore Taylor Elmo and Utah State's Kellen Bartlett are two other tight ends capable of putting up some nice numbers this season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Jeff Meads, Senior, Nevada

Meads earned the starting job at center last season, starting all 13 games, and played a key role on an offensive line that helped the Wolfpack finish third in the nation in rushing offense.

Guard Chris Barker, Junior, Nevada

Since redshirting in 2008, there hasn't been a single game that the Wolfpack guard hasn't been in the starting lineup. He's another big reason that Nevada ran the ball on everyone it came across last season.

Guard Kevin Saia, Junior, Louisiana Tech

Saia earned the starting job at left guard at the end of 2009 and held onto it during the 2010 year, helping open plenty of holes for running back Lennon Creer.

Tackle Austin Hansen, Senior, Hawaii

When you have an offense that drops back to pass as often as Hawaii's does, you're going to need a left tackle you can count on to keep your quarterback on his feet. Hansen has been just that for the Warriors, starting 22 games the last two seasons.

Tackle Tyrone Novikoff, Senior, Idaho

Novikoff has seen time on the Idaho offensive line since his freshman season, and has started 25 games the last two years at left tackle. There's a reason for it too, as the 6-foot-7 tackle is not the easiest man to get by.

Also watch for: Utah State boasts a nice pair on its line in Funaki Asisi and Philip Gapelu. There's also Stephen Warner at Louisiana Tech. New Mexico State's Sioeli Fakalata and Hawaii's Chauncey Winchester-Makainai deserve your attention for their names alone, but both are talented as well.

Defense


DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Matt Broha, Senior, Louisiana Tech

Broha is one of the most prolific pass rushers in Louisiana Tech history. His 9 sacks in 2010 moved him into third all-time on the schools sack leaders, and he'll be looking to climb to the top in 2011.

DE Travis Johnson, Junior, San Jose State

Johnson has started 17 games in his career as a Spartan, and he's only entering his third season with the team. In 2010 he led all SJSU defensive lineman with 62 tackles and led the team in sacks with 7.5. He also had 9.5 tackles for a loss.

DT Logan Harrell, Senior, Fresno State

Logan Harrell was a monster for the Bulldogs on the interior of the defensive line. Though defensive tackles aren't generally known to be pass rush specialists, that still didn't stop Harrell from leading the WAC with 10.5 sacks and racking up another 14 tackles for loss.

DT Brett Roy, Senior, Nevada

Nevada's Brett Roy also proved to be problematic for offensive lines in 2010, tallying 8 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss with the Wolfpack.

Also watch for: Hawaii's Kaniela Tuipulotu and Idaho's Michael Cosgrove were also terrors on the inside and should continue to improve this season. Also on Hawaii's defensive line is Vaughn Meatoga -- mmmmm, meat toga -- and Donte Savage lives up to his last name for New Mexico State.

LINEBACKERS

Bobby Wagner, Senior, Utah State

Wagner has already been named First Team All-WAC in his career at Utah State so why not go for a third? While he has other talented players around him, at times you get the sense that Wagner is the Utah State defense, as there is rarely a play run that he isn't a part of.

Corey Paredes, Senior, Hawaii

Corey Paredes is to tackles what Hawaii wide receivers are to receptions. He makes all of them. Paredes finished with 151 tackles last season, which was the second-highest total in school history. Paredes also showed that he could possibly play some wide receiver for Hawaii if he had to, picking off 4 passes during the year.

Adrien Cole, Senior, Louisiana Tech

Cole started only 6 games for the Bulldogs in 2010, but he made the most of the opportunity given to him. He finished the year as a second-team All-WAC selection, and I feel that if he shows the effort and skill that he did while making 80 tackles in limited time last year, he'll be making the leap to the first team this season.

Also watch for: The WAC is home to quite a few linebackers worthy of your attention. Keith Smith (San Jose State), Jay Dudley (Louisiana Tech) Aaron Brown (Hawaii), Kyle Gallagher (Utah State), James-Michael Johnson (Nevada), and Robert Siavil (Idaho) are just a few.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Isaiah Frey, Senior, Nevada

Frey's 2010 season was good enough to have him named second team All-WAC, and he's looking to move up this year. He may be the most consistent corner in the entire conference, and finished 2010 with 14 passes broken up. He's also not afraid to stick his nose into the fray and make a tackle on a running back coming around the corner.

S Walter McClenton, Senior, Utah State

McClenton made ten starts at safety for the Aggies last seson and finished the year third on the team in tackles with 62. He also broke up 2 passes and had a sack. He's somebody I'd consider more of a run-stuffer than a coverage safety, but if he can improve on his pass defense in 2011 his stock will soar.

S Duke Ihenacho, Senior, San Jose State

Since San Jose State joined the WAC in 1996 its never had a player named first team All-WAC. This season Ihenacho will look to be the first. Unfortunately he didn't have the chance last season after missing the last ten games of the season with an injury, but he's back and healthy this year and will be a force once again.

S Phillip Thomas, Junior, Fresno State

Thomas is a safety that is loaded with potential and he flashed signs of it last season, finishing the year with 64 tackles, 9 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Now, as a junior, he'll be looking to fulfill that potential even more, and I fully expect him to.

Also watch for: Given the amount of passing offenses in the WAC, safeties play an important role in slowing down offenses, and the WAC has a few who are more than capable. Players like Louisiana Tech's Chad Boyd, New Mexico State's Donyae Coleman, Richard Torres at Hawaii and Nevada's Duke Williams play key roles for their teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Kevin Goessling, Senior, Fresno State

P Bobby Cowan, Junior, Idaho

KR Kerwynn Williams, Junior, Utah State

PR Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada
Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: April 7, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Sun Belt to add new member?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen 

The 2011 offseason doesn't nearly so expansion-mad as the summer of 2010, but thanks to the Sun Belt, it look like we might have some intrigue after all.  

According to this report in the Miami Herald, the current nine-team conference (and 10-team league once provisional program South Alabama becomes a full FBS member) is on the verge of adding a new, as-yet-unidentified 11th future member (emphasis added): 

The conference has entertained expansion overtures from multiple programs in recent months, and the league has expressed keen interest in at least one of those candidates, The Miami Herald has learned.

Sources close to the situation would not specify which school is atop the list of contenders, but the pool of potential programs is relatively shallow when the conference’s top two criteria are factored in.

The Sun Belt would only consider universities with an established Football Bowl Subdivision program currently aligned with another conference. And the conference would want any new member to fit into its geographical footprint.

“We’re not afraid to expand if there’s someone out there who will add value to the league, but we’re not going to expand just to reach some arbitrary number,” Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters said. “I think we’ve got to find people who bring value to the conference.”

The report is correct that limiting candidates to current FBS programs within the Sun Belt's geographical footprint doesn't leave room for a whole lot of options. And in fact, barring a surprise defection out of Conference USA, there seems to be just one: Louisiana Tech.

Located hundreds of miles from its closest geographic neighbors, the Shrveport-based school has always been an odd fit in its current home in the WAC. Given the WAC's short straw in the expansion battles and impending plunge to the basement of the FBS (not to mention the possibility of losing its automatic NCAA Tournament berth in men's basketball), Tech's switch to the Sun Belt would make sense from any number of perspectives: better level of competition, substantially reduced travel costs, local rivalries with schools like the SBC's UL-Monroe and Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, and all the recruiting advantages that those benefits would bring.

Meanwhile, the Sun Belt would be getting a firmly-established FBS program with a long history of producing high-quality teams, NFL players, and upsets of neighboring power schools (not to mention the aforementioned in-state conference rival for its Louisiana programs). Tech to the Sun Belt would appear to be a win-win on all sides.

That's not to say it's a certainty. Several schools in Conference USA also fit within the SBC's geographic footprint if they wanted out of C-USA for whatever reason, and if the league decided that footprint was wider than we'd expect, they could theoretically re-adopt former Sun Belt members New Mexico State or Utah State. And even if the school receiving "keen interest" from the league is Tech, it's far from a done deal.

But in any case, the move would make so much sense for both the Bulldogs and the SBC it would be a surprise if they weren't considering it. And if it's a move that indeed comes to pass, we'll have yet more confirmation that the Belt has decisively left the WAC behind as the FBS's bottom-barrel conference.

Posted on: January 31, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Big 12, non-AQs lead the way in JUCO signees

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Certainly no team got more attention for going to the junior college well this year than Auburn, who rode their famous pair of JUCO transfers -- Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, arguably the best offensive and defensive players in the country, respectively -- to a perfect record and national title. The Tigers started former JUCOs at linebacker (Eltoro Freeman), cornerback (Demond Washington) and right tackle (Brandon Mosley) as well, as clear an example as you could get as to why major programs aren't going to stop looking at immediate JUCO help anytime soon.

But if a program like Auburn might sign the most influential JUCOs, which ones sign the most, period? That's the question asked and answered by this study by Jon Solomon at the Birmingham News , which tallied up every community college transfer signed in FBS football over the past four recruiting classes (give or take one or two here or there). Solomon found that the three conferences collectively bringing in the most JUCOs were all non-AQ leagues: the WAC at 17.2 signees per team per four years, the Sun Belt at 15.0 per team per four years, and Conference USA at 14.8.

At the BCS level, the Big 12 (13.8 per team per four years) is far and away the leader in JUCO signees, with the Pac-10 coming in runners-up (despite the SEC's JUCO-friendly reputation) at 11.6. (The addition of Utah won't help the future Pac-12's numbers, either; the Utes led the Mountain West in JUCOs with 22 over the four-year period studied.)

Why the Big 12? Though eight of the conference's teams finished in double digits, the runaway leader was -- you guessed it -- Kansas State, the notoriously JUCO-dependent program that lived up to every inch of its reputation by signing an FBS-most 39 junior college players from 2007-2010. Non-AQ teams took the next five slots as Memphis (35), UAB (34), Hawaii (31), Troy (29), and New Mexico State (28) were the only other schoosl to top 28 or more. The closest BCS conference team was Iowa State, with 26.

So does JUCO signing work? On the one hand, the success of teams like Hawaii and Troy -- not to mention Auburn and Oregon, who with 17 JUCOs in the four-year period actually took on seven more than their national title game opponent -- would suggest that taking on the right kind of two-year players can pay handsome dividends. The ongoing struggles of Memphis, UAB, and Bill Snyder's Wildcats -- who have gone just 12-20 in the Big 12 in this span -- would suggest, though, that it's not at all a sure quick-fix.


 
 
 
 
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