Tag:Bill Stewart
Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Eye on CFB Roundtable: preseason top 25

By Eye on College Football Bloggers

Each week, the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron- style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:

We've already talked about No. 1, but the end of spring has also meant a revision of the rest of the preseason top 25, like our colleague Dennis Dodd's. What teams do you feel like might deserve a better ranking at this stage (or one at all)? What teams do you feel like might be ranked too highly?

Jerry Hinnen: There always seems to be one team from the SEC that comes from outside the preseason polls and surprises--think Mississippi State last year, Ole Miss in 2008, etc. But Dennis's 25 already includes every SEC team but Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and I'm not sold on any of those teams as poll material. (There's a case to be made for the Vols, but only if Tyler Bray takes a major step forward, and his 5-for-30 spring game suggests that step may not be imminent.)

So I'll look elsewhere for a sleeper and mention how much I like San Diego State. The Aztecs have absorbed some heavy losses in their pair of NFL-bound wideouts and, of course, the head coach-offensive coordinator pairing of Brady Hoke and Al Borges. But Ronnie Hillman is an All-American running back waiting to happen, and senior Ryan Lindley is easily the best MWC quarterback this side of Kellen Moore. Together, they're one of the nation's best RB-QB combos, and new OC Andy Ludwig (the man behind Utah's undefeated 2008 attack) should know how to get the most out of them.

Defensively, the Aztecs should be much more comfortable in the second year of Rocky Long's unorthodox 3-3-5 scheme, and the schedule also offers the opportunity for two huge statement wins since TCU and Boise State travel to San Diego. Put it all together, and I don't think the departures of Hoke and Borges will be nearly enough to stop the program's momentum towards the polls.

Bryan Fischer: One team I think is a bit under the radar is Georgia. The Dawgs get the other division favorite, South Carolina, early in the schedule--that could be key if the Gamecocks are breaking in Connor Shaw, who has all of 33 passes to his name. I'm concerned about Georgia's running game but they have a good quarterback and the defense should be markedly improved in year two under Todd Grantham.

West Virginia is another team that can really make a move. They lose a lot from last year on defense but should be solid nevertheless. They might have one of the best offenses in the country with Geno Smith running the show and get their big non-conference game against LSU at home.

Chip Patterson: I agree with Bryan that West Virginia is a team that could cause some problems this fall. Dana Holgorsen might have done the coaching job of the year in 2010 with Oklahoma State's offense; the Cowboys did not return a single offensive lineman and his scheme resulted in the third-most productive offense in the nation anyway. Now he gets a stable full of athletes that, in many people's opinions, have been underperforming under Bill Stewart. Smith is the type of quarterback who can be a threat in Holgorsen's spread, especially once he gets familiar with the reads and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. The toughest challenge on the Mountaineers' slate is an early-season battle with LSU in Morgantown (as Bryan mentioned). I think that game is winnable, and could give them confidence headed into the back-loaded conference schedule.

Virginia Tech, though, is a huge question mark in my opinion. While I'm not sure whether they will end up higher or lower than 17, there's as much of a chance of them finishing the season unranked as getting to 10 wins. Their schedule does set up extremely well, with Clemson, Miami and North Carolina coming to Blacksburg and Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State avoided completely. But Logan Thomas needs to prove himself in a game situation, and running back David Wilson will have to work without Darren Evans or Ryan Williams to compliment him. Even if the Hokies finish the season strong, the eye test does not have them as "Top 20 good" just yet.

Adam Jacobi: After the first, oh, eight teams, I've got some major concerns about nearly every team on the list. Spring is the season for questions, of course, but it's like, "Michigan State at 11? Really? Wisconsin at 12? Really? Arkansas at 13? Really?" But you look at that list, and yeah, that's about right.

The one team that stands out to me is Notre Dame, who sort of creeps in under the radar at 19. I don't expect that sterling recruiting class to make much of an impact in Year 1, but there's a lot of talent coming back for Brian Kelly to build on. They have options at quarterback with Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees, the passing game basically only lost tight end Kyle Rudolph (who was injured for the second half of the season anyway), and four of five starting linemen return. The defense, meanwhile, is still led by Manti Te'o and returns its top eight tacklers. There's some retooling to do up the middle of the front seven, but the leadership and experience are there for the D to take a big step forward this year.

Lastly, I really like the Irish's schedule. The only truly worrisome game is the season finale at Stanford; the rest of the games are winnable. That's not to say the Irish are definitely going 11-1 in the regular season -- that's not happening without a ton of luck -- but it's a nice very-best-case scenario.

BF: I think the top 10 is pretty much standard for everyone. Sure, you can change the order and move teams around, but you can't argue with those 10 teams much.

After that, I have an issue with Auburn at 15. I know they're the defending champions, but they lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers have a very tough schedule where they could take some losses. I'm also not sold on Utah after watching them collapse down the stretch last year, and they've had a ton of guys sit out this spring with injuries. I'd swap them in the rankings with USC -- who has depth issues but also has Matt Barkley and Robert Woods throwing the ball around -- or UCF.

AJ: Here's something I want to know -- what do you do about Ohio State if you're a voter? Do you ding them since the Buckeye Five are suspended for five games? Do you un-ding them when they come back? How many spots does Jim Tressel's situation cost them? What's the protocol here?

Tom Fornelli: I would have them lower on my rankings, personally. Losing some of your best players and your head coach for five games is a big deal, even if those games are against MACifices that shouldn't prove much of a test to the Buckeyes. Either way, those players and Tressel aren't there to start the season, so we should treat Ohio State as if they're not there. And do you see Ohio State being a top-25 team with Joe Bauserman?

JH: Disagree. I don't think there's a "protocol" on how to deal with the Buckeyes' current (unprecedented) situation as it relates to preseason polls; your guess is as good as mine is as good as anyone else's. But I don't think dropping them out of the top 25 all together is fair. Until we hear otherwise from the NCAA, the Buckeye Five and Tressel won't miss any more than the first (mostly winnable) five games. Dropping them entirely -- under the mere assumption Tressel, Pryor, et al are a dead team walking -- seems to put the cart before the horse.

TF: Seriously, though, I need somebody to explain to me why Arizona State is suddenly the cool team to vote for. Do people just really like their new uniforms? Is Vontaze Burfict sitting over their shoulders as they fill out their brackets? This is a team that won six games last year, with those six wins coming against Portland State, Northern Arizona, Washington, Washington State, UCLA and Arizona. Arizona is the only impressive win on that list, and it was a one-point victory in double overtime. This is a team that may have a lot of returning starters this year, but they're returning starters from a team that wasn't exactly a world-beater last season. Also, after losing quarterback Steven Threet to injury, the guy who has to lead that returning-starter-filled offense is still new.

JH: You didn't even mention their plague of torn ACLs this spring. I wish I could disagree -- the Sun Devils have had a ton of bad luck the last couple of seasons -- but they strike me, too, as a prime candidate to disappoint.




Posted on: May 5, 2011 4:46 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 5:01 pm
 

What I learned this spring: Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

With all eight teams completed with their spring games, we wrap up spring practice in the
Big East.

CINCINNATI:
For Cincinnati, the goal this spring was to improve defensively. To be more accurate, improving defensively is not just the "goal" but really an "only option for improvement." Second-year head coach Butch Jones needs to prove that 2010's 4-8 campaign was a fluke, or else the Bearcats' fans will begin to wonder whether or not hiring the coach from Central Michigan was the best move. Cincinnati returns all 11 starters from last year's defense that ranked dead last in the Big East in scoring defense and next to last in total defense. But there have been reasons to believe that the same unit can turn around their performance in 2011.

For the first time since most of the active roster arrived on campus, there is no turnover on the defensive staff. For the last three years, the defense has had to spend their spring learning a new system. Instead the defense has been able to spend the spring focusing on fundamentals, while simply reviewing last year's scheme. In theory, this should lead to more development for a unit that struggled to prevent big plays and close out games in the fourth quarter. Offensively, quarterback Zach Collaros has continued to grow more comfortable and looks ready to try and sign his name in the Cincinnati record books. Collaros led the Big East in passing yards and touchdowns last season, and has spent spring focusing on his accuracy (also threw a league-high 14 interceptions). Highly-touted transfer wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins did not get to showcase his full arsenal due to a nagging hamstring this spring, but should make an impact lining up opposite returning starter D.J. Woods. Many of the Bearcats' spring workouts and spring game were based much more on situational drills, which tend to reveal very little about the team as a whole, but the pieces seem to be aligning for a bounce back season for Cincinnati.

CONNECTICUT: New head coach Paul Pasqualoni has quite a challenge ahead trying follow up the most successful season in program history. Unfortunately Pasqualoni, a veteran of the Big East and Connecticut native, has to try and repeat the success with two new coordinators and without the 2010 Big East Offensive MVP Jordan Todman. Wrapping up the spring, it is evident that expectations for repeating as Big East champs should be tempered. However, the Huskies do have the pieces in place to return to the postseason for the fifth straight year.

The Huskies' biggest question marks still exist in the offensive backfield, where a true starting quarterback has yet to be named and USC-transfer D.J. Shoemate is still settling in to a Todman-less rotation. Connecticut finished dead last in passing offense last season, and it will be difficult to improve that aspect of their game without a starter. Michael Box, Scott McCummings, Michael Nebrich, and Johnny McEntee(of YouTube trick-shot fame), are all competing for a premiere spot in the quarterback rotation. The hope is that behind a talented offensive line Shoemate will be able to get the running game going against a weak early season schedule, allowing whoever wins the job some time to get comfortable.

Defensively, Connecticut should be fine heading into the fall. They are under the direction of new defensive coordinator Don Brown, who's defensive unit at Maryland forced 29 turnovers last season -- good for third in the ACC. The Huskies return their entire defensive line and secondary, and that experience could anchor a unit that could end up being one of the better defenses in the conference.

LOUISVILLE: It was very difficult to learn anything about Louisville this spring due to a roster that was decimated by injury. By the end of spring practice, head coach Charlie Strong was left with only 38 healthy scholarship players on the roster. Fourteen of the injured players took no part in spring drills, the rest were injured during workouts. For a team that is looking to replace 13 departed starters on the offensive and defensive units, it was a frustrating spring of indecision.

Most of the starting jobs are wide open in the Louisville depth chart, but junior Will Stein was able to use the spring to create some separation in the quarterback competition. Stein has already gotten a vote of confidence from Strong, and the high school state champion has waited patiently behind Justin Burke and Adam Froman for his opportunity to start under center. Cardinals fans entered spring salivating over early enrollee Teddy Bridgewater, but practice showed that the top-rated dual threat quarterback in the nation still has some learning to do before getting the keys to the offense. Stein completed 10 of 17 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the spring "game," but Strong was most pleased that there were zero interceptions. The starting quarterback's primary responsibility is to manage the game, as the Cardinals offense will once again rely on their running game in 2011.

But with Bilal Powell gone, the responsibility will fall on Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson to replicate the best rushing offense in the Big East last year. Wright demonstrated his explosive potential in his freshman season, and Anderson was a 1,000 yard rusher in 2008 before shoulder injuries kept him limited in 2009 and 2010. Wright missed spring workouts with a knee injury, but Anderson enjoyed one of his best springs of his career. If the duo can be healthy at the same time, they could form one of the most dangerous rushing tandems in the conference.

PITTSBURGH: Another team entering the 2011 season with a new coach, the Panthers are not afraid to promote their new brand of "high-octane" football under head coach Todd Graham. Just a quick click over to the newly redesigned GoPittFootball.com should give just a taste of the kind of what Pittsburgh fans are hoping for out of the program's newest era. Graham comes to the Panthers fresh off a productive year at Tulsa, where his offense ranked 5th nationally in total offense with 505.6 yards per game. Dave Wannstedt had an awkward exit with his firing/forced resignation, particularly when he obviously still had the support of the team. But the squad seems to have embraced the new staff, and Graham believes that Pitt can be back in Big East title contention in 2011.

Learning the new offense has been the most important task for returning quarterback Tino Suneri. The junior signal-caller was inconsistent throughout 2010, finishing the season with 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The son of Sal Sunseri, currently a linebackers coach at Alabama, Sunseri quickly acclimated himself with the new scheme and has finished the spring as the undisputed starting quarterback. In Pittsburgh's Blue-Gold game, Sunseri lit the rainy skies on fire tossing the ball 55 times (37 completions) for 416 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While the Sunseri will likely put up big numbers this fall in the new spread scheme, the offense has no plans of abandoning the run. Ray Graham returns from a strong sophomore campaign, picking up 922 yards and 8 touchdowns while sharing snaps with Dion Lewis. This year he'll be joined by Desmond Brown in the backfield, who was the leading rusher in the spring game with 64 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Defensively, Pittsburgh has also been adapting to changes with defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. Patterson has been a longtime Graham assistant, and knows that the offense will dominate the headlines. But with spring practice in the bag, Patterson seems pleased with what he has seen out of the unit - particularly the defensive line.

"That front group has a chance to do some special things," Patterson said. "I feel really good about all those guys and what they are capable of. I think in our shceme they are going to be able to make a lot of plays against both the run and the pass."

Pittsburgh's defense will feature three down lineman, with a fourth "Panther linebacker" on the line of scrimmage upright on most downs. The Panthers have several athletic defenders who could fill this position, one early guess is Brandon Lindsey - who led the team with 17.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2010. If the defense can force some turnovers to give the offense good field position, one of the Panthers' strengths could be putting teams away early. In the Big East, which is short on big-name, gun-slinging quarterbacks, that could be a huge advantage.

RUTGERS: Of all the teams looking to bounce back in 2011, Rutgers probably has the farthest climb to return to the prominence that led to five straight postseason appearances from 2005-2009. The Scarlet Knights return 17 starters from last year's 4-8 squad, and they are still one of the youngest teams in the league. Head coach Greg Schiano has some of the exact same concerns heading into the new season, though he has stressed that he feels like this squad has grown this spring.

"Fundamentally we made significant improvement, and I think we grew a little with our confidence," Schiano explained following the Scarlet-White spring game. "This summer is going to be critical as it is every summer, but probably more so than any summer we've had here.

"The youngsters have to get tougher, they have to get more disciplined, they have to get more consistent. And again, this summer will be huge."

One of the biggest concerns is on the offensive line. Last season the Scarlet Knights were dead last in Division I in sacks allowed, letting the quarterback drop a whopping 61 times. Sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd has grown more comfortable in the pro-style scheme of new coordinator Frank Cignetti. But Dodd's supposed comfort and improvement in spring could all change when the non-contact jersey comes off in September. If the offensive line shows an about-face in 2011, the Scarlet Knights have talented (but young) skill position players who could help take Rutgers back to the postseason.

All spring the reports from Piscataway have been praising the work of redshirt freshman Brandon Coleman. The 6-6 wide receiver entered Rutgers with high expectations, but any doubters have been silenced since he took the field this spring. Coleman put on a show for the 21,120 in attendance for the spring game with a 78 yard, two touchdown performance. Maybe he was setting the standard for another touted underclassmen who was watching from the sidelines, incoming freshman running back Savon Huggins. The No. 1 recruit in the state of New Jersey, Huggins was a signing day steal that invigorated the Rutgers fan base. He has not even received his high school diploma, but he already carries expectations from a fan base that pines for the next Ray Rice. But again, Huggins will have virtually no chance to showcase his talents without some help from the offensive line. If the Scarlet Knights are going to get back to the postseason, they still have some growing to do before September.

SOUTH FLORIDA: South Florida was the first team in the Big East to wrap up spring practice, holding their final scrimmage almost a month ago. It was an awkward spring schedule, getting started early and having to dance around conflicts for Raymond-James Stadium, but at the conclusion the Bulls appear to be about in the same position as they were a year ago. The Bulls averaged a 7-point margin of defeat and 4-point margin of victory in league play last season, making their season this close to magical and that close to disastrous. Still, head coach Skip Holtz was able to get USF back to the postseason and pull down a bowl victory - the Bulls' third in a row.

South Florida's time in the Big East could be categorized as "good-but-not-great." They have made a bowl every year (4-2 record), but never finished higher than tied for third in the league standings. At the end of spring practice the Bulls look good, but still have some work to do to reach greatness. Starting quarterback B.J. Daniels returns for junior season behind an inexperienced offensive line with a set of receivers that have been less than impressive. But similar to 2010, the playmaking ability of the offensive backfield will make South Florida a threat against most defenses in the league. Demetris Murray returns at running back after picking up 533 yards and four touchdowns as a backup to Moise Plancher a year ago. He will be joined by a pair of transfers, Darrell Scott (Colorado) and Dontae Aycock (Auburn). Both backs are larger than the 5-10, 206 pound Murray, and should compliment his style well. Scott finished the spring listed as the No. 2 running back, despite being setback by a nagging hamstring injury. Defensively the Bulls return six starters from a unit that, in typical Bulls fashion, stacks up right in the middle of the conference. They lose some run-stoppers on the defensive line, but the coaching staff has been pleased with the unit as a whole - particularly the linebackers. If the Bulls are going to go from good to great in 2011, they will need to focus on developing their wide receivers more this summer. Otherwise it might be another vanilla bowl game season for South Florida.

SYRACUSE: Coming into the spring, my one question for Syracuse was how head coach Doug Marrone planned to repeat the success of 2010 with so many playmakers missing from that Pinstripe Bowl-winning squad. But with spring practice in the books, it seems like the Orange are prepared to prove that last season was not a fluke - but the beginning of a new chapter in Syracuse football. The Orange jumped out to strong start last season with solid defense and running the ball. With all-Big East linebackers Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith gone, the responsibility has fallen on sophomore Marquis Spruill to anchor that corps as he makes the move to middle linebacker. Marrone believes that the strengths in the defense this season will be with the defensive ends and safeties. Seniors Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich will begin as starters, but expect to see a good amount of junior Brandon Sharpe as well after a strong spring. In the defensive backfield Phillip Thomas and Shamarko Thomas return as starting safeties while corners Keon Lyn and Ri'Shard Anderson both earned high praise for their efforts during the spring.

Offensively the number one question is how to replace Delone Carter. The 1,233 yard rusher from 2010 carried the Orange on his back when Ryan Nassib and the passing game sputtered, carrying the ball at least 18 times in eight different games. Antwon Bailey was exceptional as Carter's backup, but some people wonder whether the 5-7 running back can be an "every-down back." Bailey will be backed up by another speedster, the 5-9 Prince-Tyson Gulley. Orange fans are hoping that an improved passing game will help alleviate that pressure, and that responsibility falls on Nassib. Luckily, the offensive line returns 4 of 5 starters from last year and redshirt senior tight end Nick Provo showed his ability as a big, reliable target for when Nassib gets in trouble. The players claim that last year's success has changed the attitude this spring, and now they have a new belief in themselves. Talk is great in March and April, but we'll check back in on these guys in August.

WEST VIRGINIA:
The Mountaineers fell one game short of returning to a BCS bowl game in 2010, after an inability to score led to two early season conference losses. The Mountaineers offense eventually got going, finishing the regular season with at least 35 points in 3 of 4 straight victories. So in the interest of preparing for the future, and ensuring offensive stability, athletic director Oliver Luck arranged for the arrival of Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. His impact has been obvious and immediate on the West Virginia offense, with quarterback Geno Smith falling comfortably into Holgorsen's spread system from day one. Smith finished the spring by throwing for 388 yards and four touchdowns in the spring game. Even against a talented Mountaineer defense, Smith was able to connect with his wide receivers for 44, 67, and a 38 yard touchdown pass. Holgorsen plans on supplying Smith with a deep rotation of running backs and receivers, pushing the ball horizontally and vertically. If Smith continues to improve on his already hot start in the new system, the Mountaineers should have no problem scoring the ball against the Big East defenses.

Defensively it is hard to make judgements based on performance against their own offense, but West Virginia does still have some work to do in the secondary. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has admitted he is already anxious to get back to camp, particularly after seeing how the unit performed in the spring game. The unit only returns four starters from last year, with defensive line likely being the Mountaineers strength. In Casteel's 3-3-5 scheme, the pressure is on the secondary to be everywhere on the field at once. Despite a wealth of athleticism at that position, there is still plenty of gelling left for the unit. But if the offense is putting up 30+ points per game (which they may), it should give the defense some time to come together before conference play begins.

Posted on: May 2, 2011 9:19 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 9:25 am
 

Despite arrest, WV player active for spring game

Posted by Chip Patterson

West Virginia nose tackle Jorge Wright made three tackles in the Mountaineer's annual Blue-Gold game on Friday night.  Wright has been playing with the first-string for most of spring drills, and the junior is thought to be the successor to last year's starter Chris Neild.  Wright might not have had the best preparation for the spring-game, since he was arrested on Thursday and arrested for misdemeanor gun and drug charges.

Wright was initially pulled over by Morgantown police when the smell of marijuana prompted a search.  The search revealed an unlicensed weapon and the possession of "a controlled substance less than 15 grams."  When asked about the arrest after the spring game, head coach Bill Stewart acknowledged that he was aware of the charges but would not take any official team action immediately.

"I have been made aware of the situation and gathering facts at this time," Stewart told the Charleston Daily Mail. I will take appropriate action when all the facts are in."

The spring game was the first competitive situation for Dana Holgorsen as the Mountaineer's new offensive coordinator.  The impact was obvious as the offense throttled the defense 83-17 before more than 22,000 Mountaineer fans.  Quarterback Geno Smith completed 26 of 37 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns to lead the way for the offense.


Posted on: April 19, 2011 11:53 am
Edited on: April 19, 2011 11:57 am
 

WV RB Alston finding his place in a new offense

Posted by Chip Patterson

When West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck arranged to bring in offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen from Oklahoma State, he was investing in an offensive system that ranked in the top three nationally in both scoring and total offense.  The system helped engineer the breakout of star wide receiver Justin Blackmon, as well as delivering a career changing year for Kendall Hunter.  The high-octane scheme allows for talented skill players to show their stuff all over the field, with plenty of touches to go around.  But there has been some concern as to where a "big back" like junior running back Shawne Alston might fit into the system.    

"I think people have the misconception it's meant for a small back," Alston told the Charleston Daily Mail, "because they've only seen small backs play in it."

At 6-feet, 220 pounds; Alston immediately looks different from the 5-8, 200 pound Hunter, who picked up 1,548 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns in Holgorsen's system last year.  But on the field his style differs from the "scat back" type as well.  Alston is signifcantly more dangerous operating between the tackles than out on the edge, but where the backs best operate on the field does not matter to their new offensive coordinator. 

"The only thing that would keep us from not playing Shawne or a body type like Shawne is if he doesn't catch the ball or doesn't block or doesn't get yards when he runs the ball," Holgorsen explained. "Whether he's 240 pounds or you're talking about a guy that weighs 140, it's the same thing."

Alston saw his workload increase late in the 2010 season, and is the second-leading returning rusher behind Ryan Clarke. Clarke has struggled with ball security last fall, and his woes have continued during spring workouts. Neither Holgorsen nor head coach Bill Stewart has named an official frontrunner at the running back position, but both backs know that sophomores Trey Johnson, Daquan Hargrett, and freshman Vernard Roberts are all hungry to earn their spot on the field as well.

The big winners in the situation are Holgorsen and Stewart.  They are instituting a offensive system that specializes in showing multiple looks and adjusting to what the defense gives you, and they have a handful of able backs competing against each other for those touches.  


Posted on: March 30, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Dana Holgorsen knows home is where the hotel is

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Dana Holgorsen is getting ready for his first season at West Virginia after moving to Morgantown from Stillwater, where he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. He'll be spending the 2011 season in the same position with the Mountaineers, though he'll take over head coaching duties from Bill Stewart following the season.

What he won't be doing next year, is changing his living arrangements. At the moment, Holgorsen currently lives in a hotel. He did the same thing while at Oklahoma State, and he has no plans on changing it.

"I'm never there," Holgorsen told the Charleston Daily Mail. "Typically I get there anywhere from 10 to 12 at night and I'm there until whenever I wake up. Then I shower and leave and when I'm working, I'm working.

"It's just easy. Convenience is a part of what I do. It makes sense. A lot of stuff that doesn't make sense is inconvenient. I try to live like that. That makes sense to me."

The convenience is that when Holgorsen does come home from work, his room has been cleaned and the bed's been made. That saves you a good five to ten minutes every day. While it seems strange that a coach who will be making a good amount of money would choose to live in a hotel room rather than a house, it does make a bit of sense as well.

After all, being a football coach isn't the most secure of jobs. Have a bad season and that contract you signed won't mean much, as a school can just replace you. So if you bought a house, now you have to sell the house and begin looking for a new place to live. Really, the only question I have for Holgorsen is that if he's lived in a hotel the last few years as an offensive coordinator, does he move into a better hotel once he becomes head coach?

Does he at least step up from the queen-sized bed to the king-size?

These are very important questions.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Headset Reset: the Big East and Mountain West

Posted by Tom Fornelli

"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Big East and Mountain West

TODD GRAHAM, Pitt

Why him? Because Mike Haywood got arrested two weeks after he was hired. Also because Graham put together some successful offenses at Tulsa. For 2011, Graham needs to: build a strong offense without the services of Pitt's two best offensive players Jonathan Baldwin and Dion Lewis.  Luckily for Graham, Dave Wannstedt recruited good players to Pitt, but Graham will have to mold them to his offense. By 2014, Graham will need to have: won a Big East title and taken the Panthers to a BCS bowl.  Dave Wannstedt won more games than he lost at Pitt, but it was the lack of a conference championship in a weak conference that ultimately led to his dismissal.  Chances Graham gets what he needs? I'd say they're pretty good. Weak conference or not, Pitt is still in a BCS conference and has the resources to win in college football.  Of course, by the time Graham has his stamp on the program, TCU will be a Big East member, so it won't be easy.

DANA HOLGORSEN, West Virginia

Why him? Have you seen West Virginia's offenses under Bill Stewart the last few seasons?  Nothing like a Mike Leach disciple who helped put together one of the best offenses in the country at Oklahoma State to infuse life into a dormant scoreboard.  For 2011, Holgorsen needs to: bid his time, let Stewart finish his final season, and start getting his offense ready for his ascension in 2012. By 2014, Holgorsen will need to have: won a Big East title and improve the Mountaineers offense enough so that it once again resembles the teams Rich Rodriguez put together.  He'll also need to find a quarterback better suited for his system than Geno Smith. Chances Holgorsen gets what he needs?  They're very good.  Even with the program's struggles under Stewart, they still competed for the Big East title.

PAUL PASQUALONI, UConn

Why him? Well, it came as a bit of a surprise.  Pasqualoni hasn't been a head coach or coached on the college level since 2004, spending the time in between in the NFL.  Still, the last time he was a head coach he was a rather successful one at Syracuse in the Big East.  So he knows what it takes to win in this conference.  For 2011, Pasqualoni needs to: silence the doubters.  We know that Pasqualoni can coach, but will the lay off and his age (he'll be 62 when UConn kicks off its season) prove to be too much for him?  By 2014, Pasqualoni will need to have: maintained what Randy Edsall started at UConn.  I'm not sure he'll have to win a Big East title to keep his job, but at the least he'll have to continue to build the program for his eventual successor.  Chances Pasqualoni gets what he needs?  Not great, but not terrible.  UConn has always been a basketball school first and foremost, but who knows how a trip to the Fiesta Bowl will affect the schools interest in building a winning football team?

ROCKY LONG, San Diego State

Why him?  Because Brady Hoke left, and had built something at SDSU that Long was a part of.  The school didn't want to risk losing any momentum by starting a coaching search. Plus, Long has head coaching experience from his time at New Mexico.  For 2011, Long needs to: continue the rise that Hoke started.  Since Marshall Faulk left for the NFL, the Aztecs weren't exactly a football powerhouse before Hoke came along.  The good news is that Long inherits some talent in Ronnie Hillman and Ryan Lindley. By 2014, Long will need to have: kept San Diego State competing in the Mountain West.  With Utah, BYU and TCU leaving, the conference becomes a lot easier to win.  Chances Long gets what he needs?  Not great.  San Diego State just doesn't have the established history to make me think they'll do whatever it takes to help Long build this team into a powerhouse.  What Long will have working for him, however, is the fertile recruiting base of southern California.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 12:43 am
Edited on: August 20, 2011 8:59 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

N.C. State rides Russell Wilson's 275 yard, 2 TD performance to a 23-7 win over West Virginia


N.C. STATE

Offense: Russell Wilson has been the cornerstone of the NC State offense since he took over the position as a freshman.  Tuesday was one of those better performances that NC State fans will fondly remember for years.  The Wolfpack have only been to three bowl games since 2003, and the 2010 team was determined to leave their mark.  Particularly after falling one game short of the ACC Championship Game, NC State now gets to end the season on a good note.  Wilson and the offense was a big part of that.  GRADE: B+

Defense: NC State's linebackers lived up to their hype against West Virginia, bringing the heat on West Virginia's Geno Smith.  On several big third downs, the Wolfpack dialed up pressure from the linebackers and forced a bad pass/checkdown that led to a punt.  When Geno Smith put the ball on the ground, the Wolfpack always had a man there to fall on the ball.  While nothing was stunning, the NC State defense was opportunistic.  Clearly outmatched at some positions, the defense simply came to play while West Virginia's offense did not.  GRADE: B
  
Coaching: NC State has to be happy to have Tom O'Brien on board in Raleigh.  He was able to give the Wolfpack fans a 9 win season, something that hasn't been done since 2002 and ranks as the second best finish in program history.  In the same game, O'Brien picked up his 100th career win.  Props to the rest of the coaching staff for spreading West Virginia's tough defense out of the 3-3-5 to cover Wilson's many threats.  All in all, good day for NC State football fans. GRADE: A-  

WEST VIRGINIA
 
Offense: How many different ways can I hint at different forms of excrement?  The West Virginia offense is obviously the problem that needs to be fixed.  Mountaineer fans are particularly excited about incoming coach-to-be Dana Holgerson after watching the offense cough the ball up five times against NC State.  Geno Smith put together several strong performances near the end of the regular season, but he could not keep his hands on the ball - fumbling two hand off's and throwing an interception.  The offense was horrendous, and that has to be awfully difficult to swallow after the standard set by Pat White less than a half-decade ago. GRADE: F

Defense: West Virginia has thrived on their defense here in the second half of the season, but when Russell Wilson hit his rhythm the Mountaineers had no answers.  The key to shutting down Wilson was to avoid letting him get comfortable and try to disrupt the timing by getting to him in the backfield.  The Mountaineers put Wilson on his ground a few times, but he still used short passes to slowly move the ball on West Virginia. But the turnovers by West Virginia's offense put the defense in pretty difficult spots, and they did do a good job of forcing kicker Josh Czajkowski to beat them.  GRADE: C

Coaching: It feels lazy to try and put some of the blame on the whole Bill Stewart/Dana Holgerson situation, but you can't deny that West Virginia just looked a little confused on the field.  NC State doesn't do a lot of tricky things on the field, and you have to guess that the off-field distractions might have something to do with that.  Feel bad penalizing only head coach Bill Stewart on this one, but if "Coaching" includes the entire administrative staff - we gotta lay the hammer here.  GRADE: F

GAME GRADE: The game was a bit of a snore at times, with offenses exchanging punts a good bit in the first half.  It was good to see Russell Wilson have a strong performance in what might likely be his last football game ever.  If Wilson does decide to forego his senior year of football to join the Colorado Rockies basketball organization, at least he will know that he finished his football career in style.  The turnovers at the end of the game reached a point of being absurd in the fourth quarter.  Feel pretty bad for Bill Stewart, who I've always considered one of the more likable coaches in the Big East, and hopefully West Virginia will send him off with a successful 2011.  GRADE: B-
Posted on: December 23, 2010 2:59 pm
 

Trio of Mountaineers ineligible for bowl game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

At the rate things are currently going, West Virginia won't have many players left on its roster by the time its date against North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl next week gets here.  Yesterday the news came that the team's top cornerback Brandon Hogan wouldn't be able to play in the game thanks to an injury, and on Thursday the school announced three more players who won't be able to play.

Those these three aren't hurt physically as much as mentally.  Seems they don't have what it takes to make the grade.
Three West Virginia football players, including a starter on the offensive line, have been declared academically ineligible for the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28 against North Carolina State.  
Sophomore Joe Madsen, the team's starting center, reserve defensive back Eain Smith, a junior, and reserve junior defensive lineman Josh Taylor did not meet NCAA eligibility requirements and will not participate in the bowl. Smith and Taylor, while not starters, are contributors to West Virginia's defense.

Maybe Dana Holgorsen can spend some time tutoring while he waits for Bill Stewart to give him the head coaching job.
 
 
 
 
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