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Tag:June Jones
Posted on: October 3, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 5



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A buddy of mine was talking about how college football right now has a few elite teams and a bunch of others that could be grouped into a couple of classes. After a lengthy discussion, I decided to run with that after week five to see how everyone shapes up. Feel free to get angry at me in the comments.

(In no particular order)

The Elite:

Wisconsin: It's all Russell Wilson for the frontrunners in the Big Ten title race but this is a very good squad that has balance on offense and a very well coached defense.

Alabama: Best defense Nick Saban's ever had plus two great running backs and an efficient offense. The Tide will continue to roll this year.

Oklahoma: Another win, another week they lose some ground in the polls despite being the best team not playing in the SEC.

LSU: They have a Honey Badger so who cares how mediocre the offense has been?

Boise State: Kellen Moore and the offense get all the press but the defensive line is among the best in college football.

We're still not sure how good they are:

Stanford: They have the best quarterback in the country but haven't played anyone of note and lost their best linebacker to a knee injury.

Oregon: Still the class of the conference, they might be better on offense then they were last year.

Oklahoma State: Questions still remain about the defense but Brandon Weeden and company are legit.

Florida: They're a top 25 team but haven't played anyone besides Alabama and will trot out a true freshman in their first road trip against LSU. Yikes.

Notre Dame: The Irish have rolled up 500 yard games like they're no big deal but turnovers are the difference between 5-0 and 3-2.

Nebraska: The defense should be better than what they've shown so far but their struggles are reflective in the team as a whole.

Texas: Undefeated heading into the Red River Shootout, this young team will have their hands full this week but have come along nicely under their two young coordinators.

Clemson: An impressive victory on the road against Virginia Tech but there's no denying that everyone thinks Clemson will be Clemson at some point this year.

Virginia Tech: Many had pegged them as a national title dark horse but that is no more after losing to Clemson at home.

Kansas State: Bill Snyder is a miracle worker but the Wildcats haven't faced a big time opponent until this week.

South Carolina: They have a great running back, a great defense, a great wide receiver but the team itself is a giant question mark week-to-week.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have an explosive offense that's difficult to prepare for but the defense remains questionable at best.

Arkansas: The stunning comeback this week proved one thing: the defense is average but the offense can carry this team.

Illinois: Ron Zook is their head coach so there is that but both the offense and the defense have responded when needed to keep the Illini undefeated.

Michigan: The defense does look better but they haven't really been tested by a good team and have yet to play a game outside the Big House.

Good not great group:

Arizona State: Injuries have hurt on defense but they're the class of the Pac-12 South.

North Carolina: Perhaps a little surprising at 4-1 but they've played solid football and bonded as a team with all that has gone on around the program.

Southern Miss: They've lost to Marshall which hurts them in conference play but this is an ok football team that could breakthrough.

Hawaii: Their offense gives everyone fits but it's really hard to comprehend how they lost to UNLV.

Washington: Perhaps the surprise of the Pac-12 North division, the defense isn't super but Keith Price and the offense are very dangerous.

SMU: A big win over a ranked TCU is a huge sign of progress under June Jones.

West Virginia: The loss to LSU was a setback but this is a very good football team that can score some points.

Baylor: They have a quarterback who's among the best at his position this year in Robert Griffin III but the defense has issues.

Auburn: They're winners, that's for sure, but the defense struggles every game and the offense has been inconsistent.

Michigan State: They've got the defense but the offense hasn't clicked like it should under Kirk Cousins.

Cincinnati: There's plenty of questions about this team but they're solid and can beat any Big East team.

Tennessee: They can't run the ball at all but they sure can throw it.

Texas Tech: Undefeated but have struggled in the first half just about every game they've played.

Georgia: SEC East is wide open and the Bulldogs are fighting hard each game so don't be surprised if they make a run for it.

Florida State: Injuries have made them thin but Jimbo Fisher should regroup them and turn them into a good team by the end of the year.

Houston: Best offense to watch in college football is good because the defense will allow points galore.

Looking forward to 2012:

UCLA, Oregon State, New Mexico State, East Carolina, Rice, Louisiana Tech, Utah, North Texas, Tulsa, Ball State, Ole Miss, Purdue, New Mexico, UAB, Troy, FAU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Duke, FIU, Iowa State, Colorado State, TCU, USC, Arizona, Washington State, Colorado, Bowling Green, Virginia, Idaho, N.C. State, Ohio State, Maryland, Miami, UConn, Western Michigan, Louisville, Marshall, Nevada, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Ohio, Akron, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Wake Forest, Boston College, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Navy, Air Force, Army, Tulane, Kansas, Northwestern, Temple, Toledo, Minnesota, Rutgers, Syracuse, Penn State, Indiana, Mississippi State, BYU, Utah State, USF, Pitt, UTEP.

Stat of the week

Via the blog Hustle Belt, the last time Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Central Michigan all won on the same day: November 5, 1994. Add in the fact that the Detroit Lions won on Sunday and it's a pretty good weekend for football in the state of Michigan.

Stats of the week

- With four touchdowns against Nebraska, Wisconsin's Montee Ball now has 13 on the ground this season. That's halfway to the Big 10 record of 26 (by week 5) and his 14 total touchdowns leads the country. Ball has scored 14 points more than the next person on the scoring list.

- Oklahoma had the ball 15 times against Ball State and scored seven touchdowns. Wisconsin had the ball 10 times against Nebraska and scored seven touchdowns (via Brian Fremeau)

- USC has allowed 40 points in consecutive games for the first time in 119 seasons. Matt Barkley did set a school record for passing yards and total offense against Arizona however.

- Arkansas had nine plays of 20 or more yards against Texas A&M. At one point, receiver Jarius Wright had more yards of total offense than Penn State, Indiana, Minnesota and Kentucky as well as 80% of the Razorbacks' offense at halftime.

- Tyrann Mathieu has the LSU record for career forced fumbles with eight in 18 games (via Scott Rabalais).

Yard-by-yard

- RussellMania is indeed here. Wilson's masterful performance against Nebraska really was something to behold as he made play after play. The knock on Wisconsin was that they haven't played anyone (they still haven't on the road). That question seems to have been answered with their resounding victory against Nebraska on Saturday however. Wilson was efficient once again, going 14-20 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He had some beautiful throws, placing the ball perfectly into the hands of his receivers on a few big gains. Though Wilson doesn't look to run like other quarterbacks, he can and will if need be. That added dimension is what separates this Badgers team from previous iterations. On the other side, Nebraska's B1G moment - their first ever conference game - very much exposed them as a team with serious issues. 

- Coming into their primetime game, both Florida and Alabama featured top 10 defenses and plenty of future NFL draft picks. Yet, you just got the feeling as Trent Richardson was running through players like a battering ram that the Gators were boys among men. There's plenty of talented four- and five-star recruits but they're still young and almost seemed overwhelmed by the big stage. The swarming Tide defense, meanwhile, was punishing Florida players left and right - including quarterback John Brantley. With a true freshman seeing his first significant game action, plenty of people on Twitter were calling for Charlie Weis to call plays that simply didn't get Jeff Driskel killed by an Alabama defender. Richardson ran for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns and was pretty much the offense. Good defense, good running game and a big, big road victory for Nick Saban's squad.

- Poor, poor Utah State. The team has been minutes from being 4-0 and likely ranked in the top 25 but instead they're 1-3 thanks to a last second loss to BYU on Friday. They lost to a backup quarterback who threw a pass that was deflected by an Aggie defensive back right into the hands of Marcus Matthews for the game-winning touchdown; which pretty much sums up what Utah State has gone through, coming close to a win before tipping it into the hands of the opponent. They nearly upset Auburn before a perfect onside kick and subsequent score and lost to Colorado State on a failed two-point conversion in OT last week. The Aggies might be the best, unluckiest team in college football.

- I'm still not sure how Arkansas pulled off that comeback other than to say Texas A&M allowed them to. Mike Sherman seemed to deflect some blame for the loss but one has to put this one (and last week's) solely on his shoulders. His first half play-calling has been great but it's like the Aggies go into the locker room and fail to make a single adjustment. They had great success rushing the ball but failed to go for it on a key 4th down in Arkansas territory and punted the ball instead. At that point, the momentum had fully shifted to the Razorbacks, who made play after play to rally from 18 down. A&M looked like they'd be fine in the SEC if you watched that first half but if you watched the second... they looked more like Ole Miss.

- Melvin Ingram had 11 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception but that just wasn't enough for South Carolina, who lost to Auburn thanks to an anemic offense that was actually playing one of the worst defenses in the SEC. I listened to part of the game on radio and I'm glad I did because it saved me having to see some terrible quarterback play on both sides. The Gamecocks' defense is good but the offense has been puzzling - not something one would expect with Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey. But then again, they do have Stephen Garcia at quarterback.

- Michigan State's defense is well coached and the best in the Big Ten so far this year but that doesn't explain the offensive ineptitude of Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes had negative yardage for most of the game before getting a 4th quarter touchdown in the final 10 seconds to avoid the program's first shutout in nearly 18 years. As much as people mocked Tresselball, Buckeyes fans would welcome a return to those days in a heartbeat.

- Notre Dame's win over Purdue is best summed up by two words: Michael Floyd. After grabbing just four catches against Pitt, Floyd grabbed 12 for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Boilermakers. As one would expect given the competition, the Irish were rolling on offense and racked up 551 yards with Cierre Wood running for a career-high 191 yards on 20 carries. Most importantly, there were no turnovers after 15 in Notre Dame's first four games.

- It's rare for an SEC team to leave the South so props to Ole Miss for traveling to Fresno State to play. Randall Mackey had an ok day but made the big play when needed, including an 88 yard drive to seal the win. This is the Rebels' first win over and FBS team and, with more SEC West play ahead of them, could be their last for a while. 

-  Playing so late, it's doubtful that many in the Eastern or Central time zones stayed up to catch Stanford crush UCLA 45-19 so here's a quick recap: Andrew Luck is really, really good. He had a Heisman highlight moment with a spectacular one-handed catch and somehow managed to stay in bounds. Just as impressive as Luck (23-27, 227 yards, 3 TDs), the Cardinal played before a sellout crowd and looked solid on defense against the Bruins' Pistol offense that looked like it had some life. Still, the story in this game was Luck, who surprisingly called his own plays on a couple of drives Peyton Manning-style. "He called better plays than me," head coach David Shaw said after the game.

More on College Football
Analysis
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
Russell Wilson stacks plays like corn at harvest to spoil Nebraska's night and entrench Wisconsin atop the conference.
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Read >>
Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told his team that if they did 'common things in an uncommon way,' people would notice. Read >
Bruce Feldman Bruce Feldman
Russell Wilson and the Badgers -- a match made to contend. The playmaking QB paired with a solid supporting cast may rule the Big Ten. Read >>
Related links
Video

Quote of the week

"I apologize to the fans of Nebraska because that was a joke."

- Huskers head coach Bo Pelini on his team's embarrassing loss to Wisconsin and the state of the defense.

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Boise State

5. Wisconsin

6. Stanford

7. Oklahoma State

8. Oregon

9. Clemson

10. Georgia Tech

Where we'll be this week

Senior writer Dennis Dodd will head to Dallas for one of the best events you can go to, the Red River Shootout (or, if being politically correct, Rivalry) between undefeated Texas and Oklahoma. While he's trying the fried beer, Tony Barnhart will be in Baton Rouge for a LSU night game against Florida. Brett McMurphy will pack his bags for Manhattan (Kansas) to see Missouri play undefeated Kansas State and see first hand how good a coaching job Bill Snyder has been doing.

Leaning this way

Oklahoma vs. Texas

I have to imagine that Dan Beebe, from his comfortable Dallas home, will have this game on his television set rooting for both teams to end this in a tie. Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has done some very good things with some young talent and without a doubt has some surprises up his sleeve for OU. That said, the Sooners are the top team in the country and will be scoring enough points to keep the fans singing 'Boomer Sooner' well into the afternoon.

Florida at LSU

This will be the coming out party for true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel with the injury to Jeff Brantley. And by coming out, I mean just that he'll come out. Having seen his film and him throw in person, I think Driskel will be a good quarterback but he's just going to be overwhelmed by the scenery in Death Valley. LSU makes several plays on defense to blow this one open and let the Tigers push the Gators around.

Ohio State at Nebraska

After both teams lost, I didn't really consider this game in this spot until I remembered this was a B1G game not only in terms of conference standings, but the fact that the Tattoo Four will make their return to the Buckeyes. Nebraska was embarrassed on the road but I don't think they'll allow that at home as the Ohio State returns several much-needed starters. In the end though, there's just been such a lack of execution by the Buckeyes as a whole to pick anyone but Nebraska by more than a touchdown.



Posted on: September 4, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 11:21 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Texas A&M 46 SMU 14

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TEXAS A&M WON. This game was a rather interesting one for Texas A&M as SMU was an opponent capable of giving the Aggies a headache to start the season. Well, Texas A&M won't be needing any Tylenol tonight. While the Mustangs hung around in the first half despite two turnovers that resulted in 14 Texas A&M points, the Aggies dominated the final 30 minutes. The Aggies used a balanced attack on offense and racked up 458 yards of total offense (212 rushing, 246 passing) while cruising to an easy victory. Ryan Tannehill looked very good, completing 21 of his 26 passes for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Cyrus Gray rushed for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own. Ryan Swope had a nice opener as well, catching 8 passes for 109 yards and a score.

WHY TEXAS A&M WON. While the offense had itself a strong night, Texas A&M's defense was the true deciding factor. The Aggies were facing an SMU offense that returned its entire offensive line, its quarterback and it's top rusher and receiver from a team that averaged nearly 30 points a game last season and held it to 14 points. The Aggies also forced two turnovers early that got Kyle Padron pulled from the game, and had 7 sacks on the evening, including 3 from defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie. So much for dealing with the loss of Von Miller.

WHEN TEXAS A&M WON. The Mustangs were hanging tough despite turnovers and having their backup quarterback in the game, but when Christine Michael scored his second touchdown of the night a minute before halftime to make the score 33-14 it put an end to any realistic hopes that SMU might have had. It was the proverbial foot on the throat moment.

WHAT TEXAS A&M WON. Well, if the SWC were still around, the Aggies would have won a conference game. Instead the Aggies got to show everyone why they deserved to be ranked at #8 to start the season. It was exactly the type of performance you expect to see from a top ten team that is considered a candidate to win the Big 12.

WHAT SMU LOST. Stability at the quarterback position. Kyle Padron threw for 3,828 yards, 31 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for the Mustangs last season. He only threw 4 passes and had 2 interceptions before June Jones gave him the hook for J.J. McDermott, who played pretty well in his stead. Now the Mustangs have a question mark at a key position they thought they already had an answer to going into the night.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Nothing out of the ordinary really happened in this one, though I suppose the fact we had an entire game played this weekend without a lightning delay could be considered a bit of a novelty. Of course, the irony there is that the state of Texas is in the midst of a terrible drought and would more than welcome the rain that hit the midwest and east coast this weekend.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:28 am
 

SMU would like to join the Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While it isn't official, it's pretty much an accepted fact that Texas A&M will be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC at some point in the immediate future. Which means that the Big 12 is going to be down a school and looking for a replacement. Now, generally, any school that might have some interest in joining the Big 12 would go about things quietly. Schools would perform their due diligence under the cover of darkness, and through meetings at undisclosed locations.

Then there's SMU. SMU wouldn't mind being in the Big 12, and it's even willing to go to the Dallas Morning News to let the world know
SMU officials said the school’s future lies in joining a BCS conference, heightening a public stance on their desire to rejoin big-time college athletics during a meeting Wednesday with The Dallas Morning News editorial board.

“We are pushing for it,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner said. “We want the city to know we’re pushing for it. We need as much help as possible, even from non-SMU alums. We believe it’s good for Dallas.”

While the benefits of joining a BCS conference would be clear — including a boost in prestige and TV money — SMU would need to be convincing to appeal to a BCS conference.
Now, SMU isn't going Big 12 or bust. While the school says the Big 12 makes the most sense, they'd be willing to go elsewhere like TCU did in joining the Big East. Of course, the big question is, would a BCS conference want SMU?

Some pros for the school would be that it seems to be back on the verge of respectability again under June Jones, and it is located in Dallas, a nice television market. A potential drawback could be SMU's stadium, which currently only seats 32,000. However, there are plans to expand that to 40,000, and while that's not typical of the stadium sizes seen in the SEC and Big Ten, it's not too terrible compared to other Big 12 schools.

Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium has a capacity of 50,000. It's also bigger than Robertson Stadium (32,000) that Houston, another school mentioned as a Big 12 replacement, currently plays in.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:19 pm
 

Hey Big East: UCF leads C-USA in revenue

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

UCF has sworn they'll be part of of a BCS conference one day, a day that could come sooner rather than later if the Big East and Villanova can't get on the same page (and the alleged backroom efforts of USF to keep the Knights outside the league fall on deaf ears). But whatever argument the Knights might like to use, there's one that's always talked louder than any others: money.

And fortunately for the Knights, they've got it, as Forbes.com contributor Kristi Dosh illustrates in this report on the 2009-2010 financial picture in C onference USA. UCF leads the way in the conference with more than $15 million in football revenue, a number greater than several BCS schools and two Big East programs--UConn and Cincinnati.

Dosh points out that UCF's football profit wasn't necessarily a result of overwhelming fan interest so much as UCF's simple overwhelming size; at 56,000 students, UCF is the second-largest school in the country, and all those student fees and alumni donations add up. The Knights also boosted their bottom line by not immediately re-investing all their grosses back into the program, as the school's football spending (at approximately $8.5 million) lags in the middle of the conference.

But if anything, those details probably only emphasize why the Big East might take an interest. If the Knights can turn such a substantial profit even without a horde of ticket sales, what happens when interest both on- and off-campus receives the kind of spike that comes with BCS competition? If UCF's athletic department can turn out a C-USA champion and BCS top-25 team even while keeping their spending relatively in check, how good could they be with the budget boost that comes with a distribution check from a BCS league?

The Big East may still let some other conference find that out, of course. Adding UCF means adding yet another basketball team to an already over-swollen 18-team (hoops-centric) conference, and unless Villanova joins up as well, it still wouldn't give the conference the necessary 12 for a lucrative championship game. There's a reason the conference is taking its time in expanding beyond its TCU addition.

But there's also little doubt UCF's friendly bottom line will give the league's decision-makers some food for thought.

One other note on Dosh's report: it would be tempting to look at SMU's conference-leading spending and assume that explains their quantum leap forward under June Jones and C-USA division championship last year. But the next two schools on that list -- Rice and Memphis --suggest that it's not as easy as simply throwing money at the problem.



Posted on: January 20, 2011 12:30 pm
 

New Badger LBs coach changing face of C-USA?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's the sort of news that typically flies under the radar: Wisconsin fills out its revamped defensive coaching staff by hiring a non-AQ assistant , in this case UCF defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable, to coach the Badger linebackers. Not that big a deal, right?

Not in Conference USA, where the Knight defense Huxtable spent 2010 coaching just so happened to be the best, most dominant single unit in the entire conference (Chad Morris's Tulsa offense possibly excepted). Huxtable's charges finished the year 15th in the country in total defense at just 315 yards allowed per-game, and wrapped up their season playing as well as any defense in the nation, holding high-powered attacks from SMU and Georgia to a total of 13 points.

The end result of that brilliance was a C-USA title and a Liberty Bowl championship for UCF, despite the Knight offense only ringing up 27 points of its own in those games. Depsite the loss of six senior starters on that defense, with revelatory true freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey ready for an even bigger sophomore campaign, plenty of talent still available on both sides of the ball, and -- maybe most importantly -- Huxtable in place to reprise his exquisite defensive play-calling, the Knights would have been the easy choice to repeat as C-USA champions in 2011.

Now? Well, UCF will likely be the runaway league favorites anyway. But living up to those expectations will be dramatically more difficult with a realignment of the defensive staff simultaneous to the loss of those six starters. That goes double, too, in a conference with a collection of offensive minds as sharp as SMU's June Jones, Southern Miss's Larry Fedora, East Carolina's Lincoln Riley, etc.

In the big national picture, it's just Wisconsin hiring a position coach. But for the Knights and potentially all of Conference USA, it could be a story much, much bigger than that.

Posted on: December 30, 2010 10:06 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Armed Forces Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Army jumped out to a big first half lead and held on to stun the heavily favored SMU by the score of 16-14.

Army

Offense: There usually isn't much pride to be taken in scoring 16 points in an entire game, and it usually adds up to a loss to boot. But even that would be an overestimation of Army's production today; one of the Black Knights' scores came on a fumble return, so the offense really only managed nine points. Further, QB Trent Steelman struggled with the SMU defense: in the second half, Army never even managed to get into field goal range until the last clinching drive. Things really could have gone south for Army today. Grade: D

Defense: Those things did not, in fact, go south for Army today because the defense was so effective in the first half. In addition to the fumble returned for a touchdown, Army also came up with two interceptions in the first half (neither of which it was able to turn into points, mind you, but that's not the defense's fault). In the second half, Army's defense seemed to be running out of gas, allowing two long touchdown drives and another drive to field goal range. That field goal was missed, but again, not necessarily on the defense. Still, three first-half takeaways put Army in charge, and that's nothing to take lightly. Grade: B-

Coaching: Here, Rich Ellerson deserves a great deal of credit; the Black Knights were much more prepared for today's game and took the fight to SMU early. Then late in the game, with the Army offense floundering and SMU desperately needing a stop, Ellerson made two brilliant third-down calls: one a play action QB sweep on 3rd and 9, and an especially gutsy play action throw to the tight end to seal the game with 1:14 left -- only Steelman's second completion of the game. The bottom line is this: Army played four quarters, and SMU didn't. Grade: A

Southern Methodist

Offense: SMU QB Kyle Padron threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, and the Mustang offense gained over 400 yards in total. When their backs were up against the wall, the Mustangs responded well, gaining 198 yards on their three drives of the second half. But thanks to Army's time-intensive ground attack, all SMU got in that second half was three drives, so all Army needed was one stop -- which it got late. The stop itself was something of a surprise, considering how well the Mustang offense was connecting through the air and grinding on the ground, but it still happened. If only Padron hadn't given the ball away three times in the first half. Grade: B-

Defense: The SMU defense did its job, for the most part; Army's offense gathered 16 first downs but only 221 total yards, and it had just two scoring drives on the day. The Mustang defense didn't force any turnovers, though, which meant SMU was never in a short-field situation; even after forcing four punts, SMU's average starting field position was its own 24-yard line. Small nit to pick with a defense that gave up nine points, but an important note when one team outgains the other by almost 200 yards and loses by two points. Grade: B+

Coaching: It's easy to understand why the Mustangs might not have been thrilled about this bowl assignment, since they had to play it at their home stadium in front of a generally disinterested crowd. There are things football players expect out of a bowl experience, and staying home isn't one of them. That said, responsibility for getting the team ready to play ultimately falls on June Jones -- who's normally well-respected as a coach, and deservedly so -- and the flat first half the Mustangs put forth is on his shoulders. Now, whatever Jones said to his guys at the half (probably something along the lines of "GUYS YOU ARE IN A BOWL GAME") worked, as SMU outscored Army 14-0 after the break, but when Matt Smymanski 's 47-yard field goal sailed left, it was too little, too late. Why Szymanski was even kicking a 47-yard field goal in the first place is a good question, since Jones called an inside draw on 2nd and 10 -- away from what had been working very well for the SMU offense the entire day -- and the blitz pickup on 3rd and 9 was nonexistent. Those calls didn't put SMU in a position to win, and for that, June Jones must be judged harshly. Grade: D

Final Grade

Anyone who saw the 16-0 lead for Army knew it wasn't going to stay that way for long, and it didn't; SMU made this a game with plenty of time in the fourth quarter, and if it weren't for some odd play calling on the final series, SMU could have easily won. That said, the contest was pretty sloppy at times on both sides, and fans can probably be excused for tuning out before the exciting last few minutes. All that aside, this is a bowl win for Army -- its first in over two decades -- and it's this writer's opinion that success at a traditional power like Army is on the whole a net plus for the sport of college football, so this game was good to see. Grade: B+

Posted on: December 28, 2010 9:30 pm
 

Gus Malzahn's name popping up in rumors again

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Poor Auburn fans.  They thought they were out of the woods.  Earlier this month offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was reportedly very close to accepting an offer to take the head coaching job at Vanderbilt before ultimately deciding to accept a raise and contract extension to stay at Auburn.  This caused Auburn fans to wipe the sweat off their brow, yell "War Eagle" and give each other high fives.

Start sweating again, Auburn fans.
Comcast SportsNet's Chick Hernandez reports that Maryland's athletic director Kevin Anderson and part of his search committee have met with several candidates for the position of Maryland's Head Football Coach.
Hernandez reports that the committee has met with Mike Leach, who Anderson mentioned in his press conference announcing Ralph Friedgen's buy-out, June Jones, the current head coach of SMU, and Gus Malzhan, the offensive coordinator at Auburn.  Both Jones and Malzhan are coaching their respective teams in upcoming bowl games.

Jones, who did interview with Maryland, has already turned down the chance to take the job.  According to his agent Leigh Steinberg, Jones is just TOO GOOD OF A HUMAN BEING to leave SMU right now, even though they offered an apparent pay raise.  Which means that Maryland's offer just wasn't enough.

Of course, to pry Malzahn away from Auburn, any offer Maryland makes will have to be considerable as well.  After all, that extension Malzahn signed will pay him seven figures.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see how GOOD OF A HUMAN BEING Malzahn is.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 12:09 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Armed Forces Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli as part of the blog's Bowl Bonanza series.

The Basics: Army (6-6) vs. SMU (7-6), Dec. 30 Noon EST

Why You Should Watch: You should tun into the Armed Forced Bowl because you generally don't get a lot of chances to see Army and SMU in bowl games these days.  This will be the first time Army has played in a bowl since 1996, and this is only the second time that SMU has been in a bowl game over the last 25 years, or since Eric Dickerson and Craig James were getting paid.  If that's not enough there's also the contrast in styles of both teams, as Army runs the triple option and SMU is a run and shoot team.

Keys to Victory for Army: The strategy for Army to win this game is simple, yet won't be nearly as easy to execute.  It simply needs to keep the SMU offense off the field as much as possible.  While Army should be proud to be back in a bowl game, the fact of the matter is that they just don't have the talent and depth that SMU has, and can't afford to get into any kind of shootout.

Still, there's reason to believe Army can be successful.  SMU's defense had a lot of trouble stopping Navy's offense earlier this season, particularly the pitch on the option as Navy rushed for 253 yards in a 28-21 victory over the Mustangs.

Trent Steelman and the Army offense will have to have a similar game and hold on to the ball to have any chance of winning in this game.  They just simply don't have the depth on defense, particularly in the secondary, to keep the Mustangs passing attack in check.

Keys to Victory for SMU: Stop the option.  SMU has spent a lot of time in practice trying to fix the mistakes of the Navy game and work on their defensive assignments against the option.  If they can keep Army from running all over them, the Mustangs should come away with the victory.

After all, this game will be played in SMU's home stadium.

When SMU has the ball they should look to exploit any Army linebacker forced into coverage as they just don't have the agility to stay with SMU's slot receivers Darius Johnson and Cole Beasley.  Another key will be to pick up the blitz, as odds are that Army will blitz a lot to make up for its secondary.  Kyle Padron has had some trouble when pressured this season, so giving him time to find his open receiver will be key.

The Mustangs should also look to use the run game to slow down the blitz, as they've been more successful on the ground than you'd expect from a June Jones offense.  Zach Line isn't going to break any long runs, but he is a big, bruising back that can be used to soften the Army defense and cause linebackers to hesitate on play action, therefore opening up more lanes in the secondary for receivers.

The Armed Forces Bowl is like: that old t-shirt you found in the back of the closet.  You haven't worn the thing in a long time, and it's no longer in fashion, but it still fits and it's awfully comfortable.
 
 
 
 
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