Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:30 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner returning, Josh Huff making his late-season surge, Lache Seastrunk coming off of his redshirt season, and mega-recruit De'Anthony Thomas set to arrive soon, the Oregon running back position looks as crowded as any in the country. This is likely why one Duck has decided it might be time to find a backfield that offers a little more breathing space.
Oregon confirmed today that Duck redshirt freshman Dontae Williams has requested and received a release from his scholarship . Like Seastrunk, Williams came to Eugene as a highly-regarded running back prospect out of Texas -- he attended the same Aldine (Tx.) high school as Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas -- but spent 2010 on the bench as James (yet another Texas native) and Barber hogged the carries.
With Williams reportedly behind Seastrunk entering the Ducks' upcoming spring camp, he decided it was time to look elsewhere for playing time. Possible landing spots include his old recruiting suitors much closer to home: Texas A&M, TCU, or Arkansas. The No. 22 "big back" in the class of 2010 according to Maxpreps' Tom Lemming, it seems likely Williams has the talent to make an impact wherever he lands once his transfer year is spent.
As for Oregon, it's one fewer option for Chip Kelly to turn to when it comes to distributing carries this fall ... but even after Williams' departure, no one will have more options to turn to all the same.
Posted on: February 11, 2011 5:42 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 5:47 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Each year, preseason magazine guru Phil Steele releases what he expects to be the preseason AP top 10 come August. And so even though it's mid-February (or rather, because it's mid-February, and what else is a college football diehard going to talk about?), it's already time for the 2011 version, now available here .
The headline? Steele expects Oklahoma to open next season at No. 1 after the Sooners thumped UConn in the Fiesta Bowl and saw Ryan Broyles elect to return for his senior season. He writes (in his usual unique fashion):
This year OU will be ranked #1 in the pre-season by nearly everyone as they return 15 starters on off/def including QB [Landry] Jones, WR Broyles and LB [Travis] Lewis. Their schedule sets up nicely with a bye before their road trip to Florida State (a team they dominated [last year] 47-17). In Big 12 play naturally there is the Red River Rivalry game vs Texas who is coming off a 5-7 season and the only other huge hurdle could be the season finale at Oklahoma State but the Sooners have won the Bedlam rivalry 8 straight times and have an overall mark of 82-16-7 vs their in-state rivals. With their key returning starters back and a favorable schedule, the Sooners should get the nod as the Preseason AP #1 team!Following the Sooners are No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 Boise State, No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Oklahoma State, and No. 10 South Carolina.
If Steele is accurate (and he predicted nine of 10 each of the past two seasons), that will be as about an outsider-dominated preseason top 10 as you could imagine, a fitting follow to a season that saw the lowest-ranked preseason team ever (Auburn) make the BCS title game. Sure, there's the Sooners, Tide, and LSU, but it's only been recently that teams like the Ducks and Broncos have become top-10 institutions, it's been years since Florida State or Texas A&M enjoyed that much hype, and it's more-or-less uncharted territory for the Cowboys, Cardinal, and Gamecocks.
Unfortunately, for the Cowboys, Cardinal, and Gamecocks, those kinds of expectations don't always pan out; just ask the Cowboys from two years ago, when the most heavily-hyped team in school history went a ho-hum 9-4, lost 27-0 to the Sooners, and fell to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. For their sakes, the fans at those three schools (not to mention A&M, which, seriously, hasn't seen these kind of expectations in a while ) had maybe better hope Steele's got this one wrong.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 12:11 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The recently-unveiled "Longhorn Network" hasn't even started broadcasting yet, but it's already provided Texas with plenty of benefits: a contract with ESPN worth millions upon millions of dollars, a high level of "buzz" regarding what the finished product will look like (and what kind of benefits it might offer down the road), and -- unsurprisingly -- an awful lot of ticked-off Texas A&M Aggies down the road in College Station.
At least, we're assuming that's how most Aggies feel about their archrivals' latest venture, considering that Aggie athletic director Bill Byrne made clear yesterday that he is -- to put it politely -- not a fan. He's asked for the NCAA to have a look-see:
"I can't speak for the NCAA, but I would imagine the governing body will look into the use of a collegiate television network airing games of prospective student-athletes," Byrne said in a statement. "I understand networks such as FSN and ESPN airing high school sports, but whether or not employees under contract with a university that may have additional contact would seem to be an issue" ...An NCAA official contacted by CBS said that without the "particulars of the specific arrangement with the network," they could not determine whether high school games airing on the Longhorn Network would violate NCAA regulations or not.
But even aside from that issue, "many questions ... that will be discussed at length" is A.D.-speak for "dude, we are seriously not pleased with this." Byrne's not the first A&M-affiliated official to express his misgivings about the Longhorns striking up their own TV deal, either; a "prominent Aggie" who spoke with the Austin-American Statesman's Kirk Bohls last week suggested that A&M could try to arrange its "own deal" with the television powers-that-be, or even rally the league's other eight non-Texas schools into an "Everybody But the Longhorns Network."
However you slice it, the natural rivalry between the two schools appears to have grown into a legitimate administrative rift, and one that's showing no signs of closing any time soon. When the Pac-12 and (according to some) SEC came calling last summer, A&M nonetheless elected to follow their in-state brethren's lead and remain in the streamlined, wobbly-looking, title game-less, 'Horn-dominated Big 12 . If the Longhorn Network proves to be as beneficial to Texas's bottom line and on-field product as Byrne and the rest of A&M are clearly worried it will be, the Aggies may decide their best interests dictate a different course of action next time around.
Posted on: January 20, 2011 10:38 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The LSU offensive coordinator's position should be one of the most sought-after in college football: a steady supply of premium-grade home-grown talent, a more-or-less permanent place in the race for one of the premier division titles in the sport, a fearsome defense that means your unit could, say, finish no higher than 11th in the conference in total yardage over two seasons and you could still claim a role in 20 wins over that span. Les Miles ought to have his pick of nearly any offensive assistant in the country.
So why on earth would he pick this assistant?
Yes, the Baton Rouge Advocate means that Kragthorpe, Steve Kragthorpe, the coach most notorious for tearing down in the space of one season what had taken Bobby Petrino years to build at Louisville. As assistant coaching hires go, taking a flyer on one of the biggest head coaching failures of the past decade isn't going to be the most inspiring choice.
That's not to say it couldn't work out anyway. Kragthorpe had a highly successful tenure at Tulsa that won him the Cardinal job in the first place, and many of the failed responsibilities that led to his dismal record at Louisville won't be issues as an assistant. He also has productive experience as an OC, calling plays for R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M in the late '90s and even winning a Big 12 title in that role in 1998.
All the same, his Tulsa success was built on a foundation of solid defense rather than offense. And when you have as many options as Miles must have had for filling the vacancy, settling on a name so closely associated with the stench of misery at Louisville seems like, well, settling. Kragthorpe's hardly doomed to failure in Baton Rouge -- in fact, the grade of talent at his disposal suggests he could be a smashing success even without much in the way of innovation or creativity -- but until LSU fans see his offense in action, they should be forgiven for scratching their heads.
Posted on: January 8, 2011 3:09 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
LSU takes an 11-point lead into halftime after a critical Ryan Tannehill interception, and never looks back in a 41-24 victory.
Offense: Where on earth did that come from? "That" meaning: the nation's 87th-ranked offense, taking on an explosive and talented Big 12 defense, unloading a 446-yard, 41-point barrage that looked more like something we'd expect to see Monday night than tonight. For 60 minutes, the usually error-prone and conservative LSU attack -- remember, this is the same team that gained only 282 yards and scored just four touchdowns against Alcorn State -- lived up to every ounce of its vast potential.
Shall we count the ways? Jordan Jefferson had what may have been the best game of his career, throwing for three touchdowns to MVP Terrance Toliver and terrorizing A&M with his legs; aided by a dominant line, running backs Stevan Ridley and Spencer Ware each went over 100 yards, the latter on just 10 carries; and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, less-than-popular amongst the LSU faithful these days, kept the Aggies off-balance all night with an expertly-called game. The Grade here is an easy A.
Defense: The LSU defense had a few shaky moments early on, as the Aggies showed a little bit of balance of their own to score 17 points (and miss a field goal) on their first four possessions. But from there, it was all Bayou Bengals as the Aggies' final seven drives ended interception, interception, punt, punt, touchdown, interception, fumble.
Leading the way was, predictably, an LSU cornerback ... but maybe not the one you're thinking. Freshman Tyrann Mathieu clinched the game with a pair of second-half turnovers, the first a diving interception of Tannehill and the second a smooth strip-and-recovery that would have given him a fumble returned for touchdown if not for an LSU penalty. And it was fellow freshman defensive back Eric Reid that made the play of the game, intercepting Tannehill and returning the ball to the Aggie 2, setting up the touchdown that would stretch LSU's lead to two possessions for good. By that point, any sins to open the game had long since been forgiven. Grade: B+
Coaching: Crowton had arguably his best game since the 2007 national championship, and despite the lingering concerns that Les Miles might be plotting an escape to Michigan, the Mad Hatter had his team ready to play their best game since at least the win over Alabama. No complaints here. Grade: A
Offense: Give A&M some credit: as athletic, well-coached, and just plain fast as LSU's defense is, 24 points and 351 yards aren't anything to sneeze at. Despite the presence of Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard in the front seven, Cyrus Gray still got his school-record seventh-straight 100-yard rushing game, and the Aggies finished with only one fewer first down than LSU, 24 to 23.
But none of that mattered half as much as the four turnovers, particularly the backbreaking Reid pick just before the half, which robbed the Aggies of a shot to take the lead and instead sent them in at halftime down 11 with LSU getting the ball. Tannehill had a tremendous half-season after taking over the starter's job, but this wasn't his best night. Grace: C+
Defense: It's pretty simple: when you've let an offense as moribund as LSU's walk all over you the way LSU's did -- when Jordan Jefferson has looked like a world-beater, when Gary Crowton looks like a genius, when with the game slipping away in the third quarter you allow them to embark on a 12-play, 59-yard march that eats up 7 minutes of clock -- then you have had bad, bad night. Von Miller was his usual self -- a sack and three tackles-for-loss -- but even he couldn't do it alone. Grade: D+
Coaching: Not many in-game decisions from Mike Sherman and his crew seemed like particularly egregious mistakes, but clearly something went awry in the Aggies' defensive game-planning for LSU to put together the kind of performance they did. And while the attempt to keep Gray involved and the offense balanced in the fourth quarter makes a certain kind of sense, a little more desperation (read: passing) would have been needed to actually turn the thing around. Grade: C
FINAL GRADE: The first quarter made it seem the game would be a classic; the second quarter made it seem it would still be competitive; the third made it look like A&M would need a miracle; the fourth was just garbage time. Oh well. Grade: B-
Posted on: January 7, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 7:22 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Basics: Texas A&M (9-3) vs. LSU (10-2), Jan 7., 8:00 ET
Why You Should Watch: If you're going to the game, you can enjoy the spectacle and experience that is Jerry Jones' masterpiece, Cowboys Stadium. Of course, if you're going, you don't need to be told why to watch, so you can probably click to another article now. EVERYBODY ELSE: Watch this game. Not only is it the only college football game of the day, but its bookends are Thursday's Miami University - Middle Tennessee State pillow fight and tomorrow's clash of the titans between Pittsburgh and Kentucky. Two 6-6 teams facing two teams replacing their coaches. Yeah, you'll want to watch A&M-LSU.
But past all that, LSU has been one of the most must-see teams of the season, with head coach Les Miles turning his endgames into odd exhibitions of anarchy and chaos that end up working out 60% of the time. Imagine this: one-possession game in either favor, ball at either 40-yard line, and 3:45 left on the clock. Are you turning this game off? Of course you're not.
Keys to Victory for LSU: For all the disorder that has characterized the 2010 season, one immutable constant has been LSU's stingy defense. When the Tigers haven't been facing the T-1000 Cam Newton Cyborg, they've been shutting down opponents at prodigious rates; on the entire season, LSU is tenth in the nation in scoring defense and eighth in overall defense, while ranking in the top 20 in passing efficiency defense, rushing defense, sacks, and tackles for loss. This team does not have systemic deficiencies on defense.
That's good, because the Tigers will be tested on defense by a physically talented but inconsistent Aggie offense. Texas A&M has achieved more offensive balance with Ryan Tannehill at QB than when Jerrod Johnson was healthy, but while that's usually just a euphemism for "he's a worse quarterback," Tannehill is actually competent under center, and it's no surprise that A&M has gone on a six-game winning streak (including wins against four bowl teams) with him back there. If the LSU secondary can force mistakes and turnovers, the Tigers will be in good shape, but that's easier said than done; Tannehill hasn't thrown a pick in over 100 straight attempts. That streak may come to an end tonight, but it's not like 13-30 with 4 INTs is a plausible final line.
Keys to Victory for Texas A&M: For all the struggling the Aggies did against Nebraska 's defense in that 9-6 atrocity, they did manage 19 first downs in the affair, and odds are that if the Aggies replicate that effort in moving the chains, they'll score enough to stay in the game for four quarters. And, again, that's when the fun begins when Les Miles is on the other sideline.
The real challenge, then, is going to be getting the ground game going with Cyrus Gray against elite front-level defenders like Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard -- two guys who have made running between the tackles a nightmare for opponents all season long. The Aggies aren't exactly a spread-and-shred type of team, so they'll have to get their yards by grinding and breaking tackles, or anything else in their repertoire to keep LSU from sitting back and taking away the passing game. Want to see how this game goes for Texas A&M? Just watch where the point of attack moves during the first quarter; if Nevis and company are in the backfield with any regularity, it's going to be a long day for the Aggies.
The Cotton Bowl is like: the senior prom. Prom isn't the apex of one's high school arc, and neither is the Cotton Bowl for the bowl season. But they're awfully close, calendar-wise, and this is one of the last chances to see something magical happen. Everyone's getting all dressed up, they're headed to one of the fanciest places in town, and they're going to have one crazy night while they can. Further, if you've ever seen the way a typical high school senior talks to girls, it's remarkably similar to how Les Miles coaches at the end of the game: it's desperate, astonishing, and far more successful than it has any right to be.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 11:14 am
Edited on: December 22, 2010 11:15 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Les Miles shocked LSU fans on Wednesday with the announcement that running back and team captain Stevan Ridley was ruled academically ineligible to compete against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on January 7. The announcement was made after practice on Wednesday morning, Miles said the university would be appealing the ruling.
While the announcement does come as a bit of a surprise, this does not mean that Ridley will necessarily miss the game. If LSU begins the appeals process immediately, they will have two and a half weeks to make their case to the NCAA for Ridley's eligibility. This is a strange instance where the Cotton Bowl's odd date in the schedule will serve as an advantage for the Tigers. Interesting that it is an academic issue that will keep Ridley from a late bowl game that will likely conflict with classes. I'm just saying.
Stay tuned to CBSSports.com, we will continue to update this story as it develops.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 5:27 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 5:30 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The headline news at TCU these days is all positive: another undefeated regular season and Mountain West title, a Rose Bowl bid, an imminent move to just-begging-to-be-dominated Big East, and even -- for once -- an offseason without rumors that Gary Patterson is due to be hired away. Everthing's coming up Horned Frog.
So it's not a surprise that TCU is starting to wide that wave of momentum in the recruiting wars, too. Traditionally an afterthought behind the state's big Big 12 programs when it comes to recruiting, Patterson scored arguably the biggest coup of his tenure when athlete LaDarius Brown of Waxahachie (Tx.) chose to stay in his home Dallas metro area and suit up for the Frogs.
A 6'2", 190-pound speedster who could fit in with Patterson's team at either wide receiver or running back, Brown has all the requisite tools to become another future weapon in TCU's plans for BCS conquest. But Patterson's found plenty of weapons before; the reason Brown's commitment is noteworthy is because of how many other programs wanted Brown for themselves, and how impressed the recruiting experts already are with Brown's potential.
On the former count, Brown claimed offers from a who's who of schools across the country: Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska. And though the state's eight hundred-pound recruiting gorilla at Texas didn't extend an offer, Brown had drawn serious interest from such in-state schools as Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Houston. In years past a recruit like Brown would have been on his way to College Station or Lubbock (if not out of state), but Patterson's success appears to be changing the game.
That's what the recruiting gurus seem to think, anyway, as Brown is arguably the most highly-regarded recruit to commit to TCU since there was such a thing as a "recruiting guru." The Dallas Morning News rated Brown the best prospect in the Dallas metro area ; Maxpreps lists him as the nation's No. 22 athlete ; ESPN rates him the No. 16 wide receiver and No. 95 prospect overall; Scout the No. 18 receiver and No. 124 player overall; and Rivals , most optimistic of all, the No. 5 athlete and the 44th-best prospect in the country. Every one of those assessments is the high-water mark (as far as this blogger can tell) for a TCU commitment at those respective sites.
While it helps that the Frogs can offer Brown the chance to play so close to home, there's also no question that a recruit with this kind of profile would not have given TCU the time of day in years past. If Patterson can convince a few more like him that the Frogs are the state's next-best-thing to the 'Horns -- and in the fertile recruiting grounds of Texas, there's no question he'll have the opportunity -- the past two years might only be the beginning of TCU's stay at the forefront of college football.
HT: Mountain West Connection .