Tag:Mark Dantonio
Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:56 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 80-71

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the 100 99 98 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

80. KIRK COUSINS, quarterback, Michigan State. Saying a team has "a lot to prove" after an 11-win season usually bodes poorly for how the season ended, and for Michigan State, that's no exception; the Spartans went 11-2, but those two losses were a 37-6 shellacking by Iowa and a 49-7 massacre in the Capital One Bowl against Alabama that didn't even seem that close. It was bad. Fortunately, MSU has the personnel to put together another strong showing in 2011.

The backfield hydra of Le'Veon Bell, Edwin Baker and Larry Caper will be the main focus of MSU's offense, but just like with Wisconsin's massive rushing attack last year, it's the senior quarterback at the helm that'll really keep defensive coordinators up at night. Not only that, but Cousins' arm is better than Scott Tolzien's. Significantly better. This'll be Cousins' third season starting, too, and though Mark Dantonio may not need his senior QB to average over 200 passing yards per game again, it'll be hard to keep Cousins' production down--especially when he's facing eight men in the box half the time. It's not a stretch to think Cousins could lead the Big Ten in passing efficiency in 2011--and even less of a stretch to think he could lead his men to double-digit wins once again. -- AJ

79. JOE PATERNO, head coach, Penn State. JoePa gets his own special Memorial Day weekend breakout entry; read it here.

78. BRANDON LINDSEY, defensive end, Pitt. The Pittsburgh defensive end had a stellar junior season in 2010, leading the Big East in tackles for loss (18.0) and finishing second in sacks (10.0). The Panthers have all new leadership up top, with Todd Graham in as head coach and Keith Patterson coming with him from Tulsa as defensive coordinator. Patterson is moving Pitt to a 3-4 defense that utilizes a hybrid "Panther linebacker," one often standing at the line of scrimmage.

The plan, according to Patterson and Graham, is to put Lindsey's explosiveness to use at that new "Panther" position. Graham compared Lindsey's role in 2011 to that of James Harrison--the ultimate playmaking linebacker in the city. Unfortunately, Lindsey missed spring practice with a shoulder injury. But the coaching staff is still counting on his frightening burst and ability to swarm to the ball in the backfield once fall camp opens. If Lindsey racked up 18 tackles for loss coming off the line, it would not be surprising to see the senior among the nation's leaders in his new role. -- CP

77. TRAVIS LEWIS, linebacker, Oklahoma. Travis Lewis's importance to the Oklahoma defense was already enough to warrant his inclusion on this list before the tragic recent death of fellow linebacker Austin Box. Now, not only will Lewis be looked to to lead the defense, but also help his teammates get over the loss of a teammate. He's the senior member of the Oklahoma linebacking corps, racking up an impressive 360 tackles (47.5 for loss), 6 sacks and 8 interceptions in his first three seasons.

As impressive as Lewis has been, though, he'll have to help improve one key part of Oklahoma's defense in 2011: stopping the run. The Sooners gave up 151.8 yards per-game on the ground last season, and while that number isn't terrible, it's not good for Oklahoma on the whole. Why? Because when teams are running on Oklahoma they're killing the clock, and every second that ticks away is a second that the Sooners' high-powered offense isn't on the field. As the leader of the linebacking corps, it will be up to Lewis to help stuff the run and get the Sooner offense back on the field. Whether he's able to do this or not could be the deciding factor between a Big 12 championship and a national championship in Norman. -- TF

76. "THE FLORIDA WAY," team code of conduct, Florida. So how, exactly, did one of the nation's most talented teams suffer five regular season losses in 2010, one shy of their total for the previous four years combined? As per usual with questions like these, it wasn't one factor but a perfect [deleted]storm for the Gators: poor coaching from the coaches, poor execution from the players, poor treatment from the football gods. (How many times out of 100 does LSU's accidental bounce-pass to their kicker on their game-deciding fake field goal actually wind up in the hands of the kicker?) But in retrospect, it appeared to be poor focus that cost the Gators more than anything. With Urban Meyer at the end of his coaching rope, Florida frayed in all kinds of directions: transfer rumors, sloppy fundamentals, petty arrests, Twitter embarrassments. The effort on gameday was there; the discipline needed for it to produce Meyer's usual results was not.

Enter Will Muschamp and the "Florida Way," his name for the team's new all-encompassing code of conduct. With most coaches and most teams, we'd call this sort of thing a P.R. sop for the coaching honeymoon, and move on to on-field matters. But when it comes to the Gators, 2010 proved this is an on-field matter. Before Charlie Weis's schemes can take root, before Muschamp can create his usual teeth-rattling D, the Gators have to rebuild the foundation of focus and discipline forged in the Tim Tebow days. If they do, though -- if the still supremely-talented Gators can follow through on the "Florida Way" -- expect them to follow it right back up the SEC East standings. -- JH

75. PRESEASON TOP 25'S, polls, mid-August.  To some extent, the polls will always be the most influential component of all college football--they're what ultimately awards that national championship everybody's after, after all. (Or do through the BCS middleman, anyway.) But it's also true that the polls, for the most part, respond to the events on the field rather than vice versa.

But there's one set of ballots that not only wind up shaping the narrative of the entire season, but can and do influence results between the lines. Those are the preseason top 25's, easily the most influential polls of the season. Not do only do they establish a blueprint that forms the basis for every ballot that comes afterwards, but seemingly every year they build a wave of hype and expectation that drowns some team's championship season before it even begins. Ask Ole Miss in 2009 (the most recent, striking example) about the latter phenomenon. Ask Auburn in 2004 -- and their inability to overturn the two teams entrenched at the the top of the polls since preseason -- about the former. In college football, polls matter; the preseason variety matter even more than most. -- JH

74. JEFF GODFREY, quarterback, UCF. How do these stats sound for a starting freshman quarterback? 168-294, 2,071 passing yards, 12 TDs, 122.9 passing efficiency, 17 rushing yards, and 5 rushing TDs. Pretty solid production overall for a freshman, no? Probably one of the best freshman seasons in UCF history, right? Yes, it was one of the best: that was Daunte Culpepper's freshman year at UCF. Godfrey's, meanwhile, was better across the board.

Here's what Godfrey put up: 159-238, 2,159 passing yards, 15 TDs, 154.3 passing efficiency, 566 rushing yards, and 10 rushing TDs. Godfrey's throwing motion needs work, but the arm strength is there; he's surprisingly adept at the deep ball. Then there's the rushing. Godfrey doesn't have Denard Robinson's level of speed, but he's still darn fast--fast enough to be a nightmare for opposing secondaries when he's scrambling. Put it all together, and Godfrey -- as a true freshman -- was a more efficient passer than super-sophs Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Robinson, Darron Thomas and even Godfrey's closest prototype: Robert Griffin III. Godfrey is already one of the brightest stars in Conference USA, and we have a feeling he's nowhere near done collecting accolades. -- AJ

73. KYLE WHITTINGHAM, head coach, Utah. One of two coaches to join the Pac-12 this year, Whittingham has been around the block before. He's got a BCS bowl win and undefeated season on his resume already, making him one of the most accomplished coaches in his new league from the get-go. His first task is trying to avoid the terrible stretch run the Utes had last season (losing three of their last five) and get them back to where they were earlier in the season.

The seventh-year head coach has plenty of weapons at his proposal and has brought in one of the school's most well known alums, Norm Chow, as offense coordinator to give the Utes a boost. Whittingham should be able to lean on Chow, who comes over from UCLA has has years of experience in the Utes' new conference. Whittingham is known more for his defensive instincts and he'll have to get the pass defense up to speed before jumping into league play and facing the Pac-12's the plethora of good quarterbacks. The schedule is manageable but most of the tough games are on the road. Welcome to the league, Kyle. -- BF

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72. GARRETT GILBERT, quarterback, Texas. It wouldn't be fair to pin the entirety of Texas' 5-7 season in 2010 on Garrett Gilbert, but it wouldn't be honest to say the young quarterback didn't have a substantial role in it either. It was never goign to be easy to just walk onto the field and fill the formidable shoes of Colt McCoy ... and Gilbert proved it. He completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, but he also completed quite a few to the wrong team, throwing 17 interceptions to only 10 touchdowns.

Obviously, if Texas is going to rebound in 2011 and get back to playing for a Big 12 title, then Gilbert is going to have to perform a lot better. Odds are he will. He has a year of experience under his belt now, and has a new offensive coordinator in Bryan Harsin, a coordinator that had quite a bit of success with quarterbacks at Boise State. If Gilbert can improve his grasp of the offense, be more efficient with his throws, and -- most importantly -- turn the ball over less, life should be a lot happier in Austin this fall. If not? Well, then heads are going to roll. -- TF

71. JAKE BEQUETTE, defensive end, Arkansas. Is it possible the fate of the SEC West -- a division featuring two consensus top-five teams -- could rest in the hands of a second-team all-conference end few fans outside the SEC (and even a good number in it) have ever heard of? It might not be likely; Alabama and LSU have the hype they have for a reason. But it's certainly possible, ironically enough because of the Razorbacks' offense.

Trust us: Ryan Mallett or no Ryan Mallett, no attack with arguably the nation's best receiving corps receiving, Knile Davis running, a veteran line blocking and (most of all) Bobby Petrino coaching will be less than outstanding. All the Hogs need to make a serious run at Atlanta is the top-drawer SEC defense they've lacked the last couple of seasons ... and Bequette, their most explosive pass rusher, is the key. The Hogs have loads of experience in the secondary and two rock-solid linebackers in Jerico Nelson and Jerry Franklin. If Bequette can more consistently generate the devastating bull rush he showed in flashes in 2010, the Hogs will have a defense that can look their SEC West rivals in the eye--and, when paired with that offense, take them right back into the BCS bowl hunt. -- JH

The 100 will return here to Eye on CFB Tuesday after the holiday. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91 and 90-81, and follow us on Twitter.

Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Gene Smith supports Jim Tressel

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There are plenty of people out there who don't feel as if Jim Tressel should keep his job at Ohio State following everything that we've learned about the Buckeyes in recent months, myself included. The thing is, no matter how strongly anybody feels about Tressel's job, there are only a couple people who actually have the ability to relieve him of his post. One of those people is Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, and it doesn't exactly sound like the thought of firing Tressel is something he's considered. 

The Big Ten held its spring meeting on Tuesday in Chicago, and Smith was asked if he still supported his beleaguered head coach.

"Oh, definitely, no question," Smith told Adam Rittenberg. "I haven't changed, I haven't changed. But I'm not talking about the case beyond that."

Tressel also received support from fellow Big Ten head coaches Pat Fitzgerald and Mark Dantonio during the spring meetings, as well as the newest Big Ten athletic director Tom Osborne. In fact, Osborne found no shortage of words when it came to praising his old friend.

"I don't really know enough about [Ohio State's situation]," Osborne said. "I do know Jim Tressel, and I believe that Jim's an honorable person. There will be those who will criticize me for saying that, but I think I know Jim's character. What happened, I don't know a lot about the details. I certainly hope for his sake that things turn out OK, and for Ohio State."

It seems pretty obvious at this point that if things don't turn out all right for Jim Tressel, it won't be because Ohio State decided to punish him.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 1:40 pm
 

MSU's DE suspended for spring game after arrest

Posted by Chip Patterson

Michigan State defensive end Corey Freeman will sit out of Saturday's spring game after being suspended for a weapon-related arrest earlier this week.  Freeman was ticketed Monday for driving with a suspended license and not disclosing to an officer that he was carrying a concealed weapon, according to the Lansing State Journal. Freeman had a permit for the firearm, but the failure to inform the officer could affect the penalty for the suspended license charge.

Freeman saw action in 11 games last season, but only totaled six tackles. He likely would have been part of the defensive end rotation, but was not projected to start in 2011. The Michigan State coaching staff divided up the seniors into Green and White teams, then let them hold a "draft" for the underclassmen to fill out the rosters.

"It's fun for our players," said head coach Mark Dantonio, who served as the commissioner of the draft. "It gives everybody an opportunity to draft people, and they're doing a good job every year. I think they try and find out who can play as many positions as they can and who are the versatile players, and where's the big gap between certain players. I think you saw that there's some guys that the players feel like are pretty close. It creates excitement and enthusiasm, and that's half the football game, so I think when you bring that to the table a little bit, you get a more competitive atmosphere."

The Green-White game will be held in Spartan Stadium Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. CT.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Hoke's Ohio State hate means he won't wear red

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A longtime Michigan assistant under Lloyd Carr who made no secret of the fact the Wolverine head coach position was his dream job, it's no surprise Brady Hoke doesn't care for Ohio State.

Given Michigan's epic struggles against the Buckeyes under Jim Tressel, it's maybe even less surprising Hoke has emphasized and re-emphasized that lack of care since his hire, even to the point of the Wolverines' breaking their spring game huddles with "BEAT OHIO." When your new maize-and-blue constituency want nothing more than a win over Ohio State, publicly making that win priority No. 1 is doubtless the right political move.

But then again, Hoke's hatred for the Buckeyes apparently runs deep enough that he doesn't have to exaggerate it for the Big House masses. Speaking to Adam Rittenberg this week, Hoke explained that because of its association with Ohio State, he refused to wear red while serving as head coach at Ball State and San Diego State --despite the fact that the Cardinals use (you guessed it) cardinal as their primary school color, and the Aztecs scarlet as a secondary color.

If that sounds like exaggeration, it did to Michigan blog MGoBlog as well, until its thorough search of the Internet turned up nothing more than a red tie at an introductory press conference and a handful of red accents on his BSU gear. The photos available to Eye on Football tell the same story, as shown by Hoke at SDSU against Utah:



At Ball State against Kent State:



And against Michigan itself, Nov. 2006:



It's a little too much to be coincidence, right? Brady Hoke, it would appear, legitimately hates Ohio State so much he's hated a color entirely out of his wardrobe.

How much that hate will actually help him against the Buckeyes is open to debate, and no doubt will earn Hoke plenty of scoffing from across the Ohio border. But optimistic Michigan fans can -- ironically -- point to the appraoch taken by Mark Dantonio when he arrived at their archrivals at Michigan State. He installed a countdown clock to the Spartans' annual grudge match in the MSU locker room, a move that drew its own scoffing from Michigan partisans and players alike. But now Michigan State has taken three in a row from the Wolverines, and Hoke has his own countdown clocks installed--for both MSU and, of course, Ohio State.

So if Hoke's single-minded focus on the Buckeyes can result in anything near the turnaround Dantonio's on Michigan has produced in that rivalry, forget Hoke not wearing red; the color might wind up outlawed across the entire state.

Posted on: April 8, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Mich. St.'s Ray back after beating cancer

Posted by Jerry Hinnen


It's been a rough offseason already for college football, as controversies ranging from the Fiesta Bowl fiasco* to Jim Tressel's dishonesty to yet more pay-for-play allegations have dominated headlines.

Which is why it's such a pleasure reading about Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr., who made his return to the Spartan practice field yesterday after four years away from the game spent battling bone cancer in his left leg. Per the Detroit Free-Press: 

He participated in MSU’s spring practice — including contact sessions — after the NCAA reversed his medical disqualification. He had been disqualified so as not to count against the team’s scholarship limit while he recovered. 

Coach Mark Dantonio and the players called the scene “emotional” for the offensive lineman, even though Ray didn’t want it to be a big deal. 

“It’s been a long time coming, four years,” Dantonio said. “More than anything, it’s a starting point to be back on the field. Also, it gives hope to anybody that’s in a tough situation in their life. If you just keep pushing, push through adversity, you have a chance.”

A fourth-year senior eligibility-wise, Ray still has an uphill battle to earn any significant playing time; Dantonio said the plan was to work him back into the flow of practice "gradually" so that both he and the coaching staff could learn exactly what he's capable and not capable of after the layoff.

But after a series of chemotherapy treatments and surgeries that threatened his ability to walk again, much less play football, it's probably not wise to put anything past Ray. Eye on Football wishes him the best of luck.

*Come to think of it, shouldn't we just start calling it the "Fiasco Bowl" instead?

Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:25 pm
 

Michigan State players arrested in Colorado

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Two Michigan State football players were arrested in Aspen, Colorado early on Thursday morning while on spring break. Rising senior tight end Brian Linthicum and rising sophomore linebacker Max Bullough are the duo picked up by police. 

Linthicum was charged with a misdemeanor third-degree assault and eluding an officer following an incident at a bar in Aspen. Bullough, who is only 19, was also charged with eluding an officer and for being a minor in possession of alcohol. Both will have to make a return trip to Colorado for a Pitkin County court appearance on April 19.

Michigan State is yet to release an official statement on the matter, though spokesman John Lewandowski did say that head coach Mark Dantonio is in Indianapolis to watch the Michigan State basketball team compete in the Big Ten tournament.

Both players are expected to compete for starting jobs this year, as Linthicum had 18 receptions for 230 yards as a junior, and Bullough made 21 tackles as a freshman. There's no telling how this incident will affect their standing with the team, though I can't imagine it's going to help either's case.
Posted on: January 21, 2011 10:58 am
 

Spartans QB Joe Boisture to transfer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Michigan State's season didn't have a nice ending against Alabama in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day, there is little doubt that Kirk Cousins will once again be the starting quarterback in East Lansing next season as he enters his senior year.  Which means that the quarterbacks waiting behind him for their shot will have to wait a little bit longer, though at least one of those backups doesn't have the patience to wait his turn.

Joe Boisture told SpartanMag.com on Thursday that he was planning on transferring from the school.

"It is in my best interest that I have decided to leave the Michigan State football program," Boisture said. "I love the university, my teammates, the medical staff and most of all Coach Dantonio. Coach D truly cares about me and all of his players off the field as well as on the field. 

"I have the utmost respect for him as a coach and person and wish him and the Spartans nothing but success."

Boisture, who redshirted this season, spent the year third on the depth chart behind Cousins and sophomore Andrew Maxwell. Which is exactly where he would have begun 2011, with the added bonus of competing with incoming freshman Connor Cook. One of Michigan State's prized recruits in its 2010 class, he obviously doesn't feel like waiting around to compete for a job in 2012. Which makes you wonder why he chose Michigan State in the first place considering he wasn't going to come in and supplant Cousins from the start.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:29 pm
 

5 Down: Potential 2011 disappointments

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So later today we'll name five more teams we think can crack Dodd's top 25 next season, and right now we'll name five that are in his top 25 that might slip out ... or, at least, fail to live up to where they're currently placed. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Auburn (15). Slipping from first to 15th already seems like quite a slide, but the Tigers' losses are so major they could easily fall even further. The offensive line loses four starters representing approximately 200 collective career starts; Nick Fairley's departure is only the capper for an entire defensive tackle rotation that must be replaced; Auburn's two best linebackers are graduated, along with the best corner and best safety; and, oh yeah, that Cam Newton guy will be replaced by either a redshirt junior who's never started a game (Barrett Trotter) or a true freshman (Kiehl Frazier). The schedule also turns nasty, with this year's home dates against South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia all on the road. Gus Malzahn's continued presence means Auburn will have a fighting chance of getting back to eight or nine wins, but a bad break here or there could leave Gene Chizik's bunch outside the top 25 entirely.

2. Michigan State (9). The Spartans lived on the margins somewhat in 2010, needing big late comebacks to beat teams like Northwestern and Purdue while stumbling badly against more talented teams like Iowa and Alabama. And now Mark Dantonio loses three senior offensive linemen, soul-of-the-defense All-American linebacker Greg Jones, and offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who took the vacant Miami (Ohio) head coaching position. For a team that may have already been not-quite-as-good as their record, those are big blows.

3. South Carolina (17). Their appearance on this list isn't necessarily about the Gamecocks themselves, though the losses of end Cliff Matthews on defense and guard Garrett Chisolm on offense will be larger than people think. It's about their SEC divisional rivals at Florida and Georgia bouncing back from subpar seasons, and a schedule that hands them tough road trips to Athens, Knoxville, Starkville, and Fayetteville. It's the sort of slate that likely has four losses on it lurking somewhere.

4. Northwestern (24). We love the plucky Wildcats as much as anyone, but the way the 'Cats were memorably run over at Wrigley by Illinois, it's hard to see them being physical enough to make that much headway in the new-and-improved Big Ten. Five of their seven 2010 wins came by a total of just 15 points, and for a quarterback whose underrated running skills are as much a part of his success as his throwing accuracy, Dan Persa's Achilles injury is a killer.

5. Oklahoma State (7). OK, so with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon back and the Big 12 South not yet back to its 2008 glory days, it's not likely for the Cowboys to slip all the way out of the top 25. But the Cowboys haven't always done well with the kind of expectations they'll be dealing with in 2011, the defense still needs major work, and without Kendall Hunter the Pokes will have to work to ensure the running game can keep opponents from simply blanketing the Weeden-to-Blackmon connection. But the biggest loss by far is Dana Holgorsen, without whom the 2009 Cowboy offense was shut out by Oklahoma even with weapons like Hunter and Zac Robinson around. If Mike Gundy doesn't find a quailty replacement, the Cowboys may wind up as 2011's most overrated team.

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