Posted on: September 11, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big 12 fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.
Oklahoma (AP:1/Coaches:1) - Much like a player shouldn't lose his job to injury, pollsters feel that a team shouldn't lose its spot atop the polls due to a bye week. While I would put LSU ahead of Oklahoma on my ballot at the moment thanks to that win against Oregon, it's hard to blame people for feeling otherwise. Of course, should the Sooners head to Tallahassee this weekend and hand the Seminoles a loss, it'll be hard to argue putting Oklahoma anywhere else but at the top of your ballot.
Oklahoma State (8/7) - The coaches are higher on the Cowboys than the media is at the moment, but either way, it's hard to be angry with a spot in the top ten if you're Oklahoma State. This offense has not disappointed through it's first two games, scoring 98 points and amassing 1,260 yards. What's more important, though, is that the Cowboys defense has proved capable through the first two weeks, and this team should be off to a 3-0 start after a trip to Tulsa on Saturday. The first true test of the year will come in two weeks, however, when the Cowboys travel to College Station to take on the Aggies. Speaking of Texas A&M...
Texas A&M (9/9) - Much like Oklahoma, the Aggies took the week off after playing a game last Sunday night. The Aggies' performance against SMU was strong enough to warrant this spot and keep them there, and that's not likely to change when Idaho comes to town this weekend.
Baylor (19/24) - I guess coaches have short memories. After a bye week Baylor sits at 24th in the Coaches Poll while TCU is at 23rd. I'm still trying to figure out what world we have to be in for that to make any kind of sense. At least the AP Poll was able to hold on to some semblance of credibility by putting the Bears at 19th, four spots ahead of the Horned Frogs team they beat last week.
Texas (24/21) - Much like last week, I'm not exactly sure what Texas has done to deserve to be ranked just yet other than being Texas. The Longhorns beat a Rice team that it should have beaten, but then struggled against BYU at home to eek out a 17-16 victory. Surely there are other teams in the country who have had a better start to their season than Texas. We'll have to wait and see if Texas can really earn this ranking when it travels to UCLA next weekend seeking revenge for that home loss in 2010.
Drop Outs: Missouri - I didn't think Missouri would be able to go into Tempe and get a win against Arizona State after a poor showing by the offense in Week 1, and Missouri didn't. That being said, the Tigers offense performed much better on Friday night. With a very winnable game against Western Illinois this weekend, it's possible that the Tigers can sneak back into the polls next week, though a date with Oklahoma in Norman looms after that.
Receiving Votes: Iowa State picked up a couple of votes in the Coaches Poll after beating Iowa in double overtime. Two votes that I'm happy to see the Cyclones get because beating Iowa hasn't been an easy task for anybody in recent seasons, but Iowa State doesn't deserve to crack the Top 25 just yet either. Though that could change with a winnable game on the road against UConn coming up, and then a home date against a Texas team that just hasn't impressed me much.
Posted on: September 11, 2011 2:16 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 2:20 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. Mark Richt is in deep, deep trouble. But he's not finished. It would be different if the Dawgs had lost Saturday the way they lost against Boise State, getting overwhelmed in the trenches and wilting in the second half. It would be different if Richt's team hadn't shown such drastic improvement from Week 1 to Week 2--not just on the scoreboard, but in everything from run blocking to tackling to special teams work. It would be different if Georgia hadn't had every opportunity to win the game Saturday. And most importantly, it would be different if the Dawgs were facing a different schedule.
But they are facing the schedule they're facing, which includes one tricky true road date (at Tennessee), the annual Cocktail Party showdown against Florida, two challenging home games against Auburn and Mississippi State ... and six other winnable games. Saving Richt's job won't be easy; we projected earlier it would take nine wins to do it, meaning Richt would have to go 3-1 in the games above and sweep the remaining six.
But it's certainly possible. His team hasn't thrown in the towel. He has a star on his hands in Isaiah Crowell, who in the Dawgs' next big game we'll wager won't carry only 16 times. He has a quarterback who remains one of the SEC's best, despite his serious mistakes against the Gamecocks. He has a defense that only really gave up 27 points and should be even better against anyone who's not Marcus Lattimore. He's not dead yet.
2. Alabama is a national title contender. This is something we've had confirmed, rather than outright "learned," but there's no other way to look at the Tide's strangle job on the Nittany Lions. AJ McCarron wasn't impressive statistically (just 5.3 yards per attempt), but that "zero" in the interceptions column is really the only statistic that matters. Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy combined for 196 yards on the ground. And after generously allowing Penn State a first-quarter field goal, the Tide defense barely let the Lions breathe again until the game was entirely out of reach.
Considering all of that was on the road against a quality Big Ten team, yes, the Tide deserve to be in the same breath with LSU and Oklahoma at the top of the polls until proven otherwise.
(A random aside: is it time for Lacy to start borrowing a few more of Richardson's carries? He's gotten only 19 attempts in two games to Richardson's 37, but boasts a per-carry average of 7.5 yards to Richardson's 3.8. Food for thought.)
3. Whatever else they are, Auburn is dangerous. Given that they share a division with the Tide, LSU and Arkansas, it's hard to see a team that's given up 979 yards in two games (one of them against Utah State) go on to win a division title. But focusing entirely on Auburn's defensive problems means missing the fact the Tigers have started the year with 83 points in those two games--42 in the first, 41 in the second. And that's before Gus Malzahn's attack has really put it all together, too. The run game sputtered in Week 1; the passing game was inconsistent in Week 2.
Combine a potentially even more lethal offense with a much-improved special teams (led by freshman kickoff return weapon Tre Mason and redshirt frosh kicker Cody Parkey), and there may not be any single game on Auburn's schedule where they couldn't erupt for 40-45 points and win.
4. Speaking of dangerous: Tyler Bray is, too. That 5-of-30 performance in the Vols' spring game is far, far behind the sophomore now. Bray tore the visiting Cincinnati defense to pieces, completing 34 of his 41 passes for 405 yards, 4 touchdowns, and -- perhaps most importantly for a player whose coaches have occasionally accused of being too loose with his decision-making -- zero interceptions. Like Auburn, the Vol defense may not be strong enough to insert Bray's team alongside the Gamecocks and Gators in the SEC East race (the Bearcats ran for a whopping 6.4 yards on their 26 carries) ... but they might make things awfully interesting all the same.
5. Florida and Arkansas need to play someone. Full credit to the Gators and Hogs for dispatching lightweights UAB and New Mexico by a combined 88 points Saturday. But it's tough to know exactly how seriously to take either team playing cream-puff opponents like these or respective week 1 fodder FAU and Missouri State. (At least the Gators get serious next week against the Vols; the Hogs have to wait until a Week 4 showdown with the Tide.)
6. Vandy won't be an embarrassment. It remains to be seen how much headway they can make in the win column against their SEC slate, but that doesn't mean we should overlook that James Franklin's 'Dores already have as many wins in 2011 as they had in either 2009 or 2010. Thanks to a legitimately stingy defense that held UConn to fewer than 200 total yards, Vandy should be far more competitive than the 2010 squad that was outgained by 245 yards per SEC game.
Tags: AJ McCarron, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Boise State, Cincinnati, Cody Parkey, Eddie Lacy, FAU, Florida, Georgia, Gus Malzahn, Isaiah Crowell, James Franklin, James Franklin the Vanderbilt coach not the Missouri quarterback, Jerry Hinnen, LSU, Marcus LAttimore, Mark Richt, Mississippi State, Missouri State, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, Tre Mason, Trent Richardson, Tyler Bray, UAB, UConn, Utah State, Vanderbilt
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: September 9, 2011 10:49 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Connecticut running back D.J. Shoemate has waited a long time to step into the spotlight at the collegiate level. The former five-star recruit was regarded spent time getting shuffled between positions at USC before transferring to Connecticut just in time for Jordan Todman's breakout season. The senior entered the 2011 season penciled in as the starting running back, but missed the opener because of a tweaked ankle. Luckily, head coach Paul Pasqualoni does not penalize players for injury.
"A player here, in our system, does not lose his position because of an injury," Pasqualoni explained on Thursday. "So when that player is 100 percent healthy he comes back, he goes back to where he was when he got hurt."
Shoemate currently shares the No. 1 position on the Huskies' depth chart with redshirt freshman Lyle McCombs. McCombs made the most of his opportunity against Fordham, rushing for 141 yards and four touchdowns. Even considering the opposition, McCombs looked very sharp and comfortable carrying the load at running back. If Shoemate is 100 percent and can offer his projected production, the Huskies will have an opportunity to rely on the rushing game once again.
A good rushing game will be crucial for Connecticut, who still has not named a starting quarterback. Pasqualoni plans to rotate McEntee, McCummings, and Nebrich once again when the Huskies face Vanderbilt on Saturday night in Nashville.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 10:06 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Connecticut football fans have spent much of the offseason debating what their team will look like when they take the field on Thursday to kick off the season against Fordham. They'll have a solid defensive line led by Kendall Reyes, Sio Moore will try to lead a young linebacking corps, D.J. Shoemate will try and fill the shoes of the conference's leading rusher Jordan Todman, and the Huskies return three of their top four receivers.
But we still don't know who will throw them the ball.
The Huskies entered fall camp with four quarterbacks competing for the starting job: freshman Michael Nebrich, junior Johnny McEntee, redshirt freshman Scott McCummings, and sophomore Michael Box. Box, the only quarterback with game experience in 2010, decided to transfer recently narrowing the race to three signal callers. When head coach Paul Pasqualoni met with reporters on Monday for his first game week press conference, he revealed no new information.
"What I would say is that we're going to have three quarterbacks ready to play in this game," Pasqualoni said. "Obviously it's a new staff, new system on offense, defense and special teams. Were very very anxious to get a good week in. I think we've had three good days so far this week and we need to have a real good day [Tuesday]. [Tuesday] is kind of our dress rehearsal for Thursday."
Desmond Conner, of The Hartford Courant, reported last week that Nebrich and McEntee had been receiving most of the reps with the first-team offense. But Pasqualoni believes the three quarterbacks remaining are all ready to go, and even has suggested that his decision won't be known "until pre game warm-ups."
The Huskies will kick off against Fordham at 7:30 p.m. at Rentschler Field.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 10:46 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy spoke with TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte at Big East Media Day this week in regards to the program's future, particularly in the Big East. Del Conte spoke about head coach Gary Patterson's opportunity to "create his own shadow" and the $105 million expansion and renovation to Amon Carter Stadium. The stadium construction is expected to be done in time for the 2012 season, which will kick off against Grambling Sept. 8.
Here's how the Horned Frogs first season in the Big East is shaping up:
Seems pointless to try and predict how this schedule will look for the Horned Frogs seeing as we are still a season away, but we can do it anyway.
Connecticut, Rutgers, and Syracuse were picked 6,7, and 8 in the 2011 preseason media poll, so I find it difficult to foresee either of those teams quickly becoming big-time threats before 2012. Pittsburgh could certainly present a challenge, though much of the defense that is expected to dominate in 2011 will have graduated. I expect opportunity to host the rest of the possible Big East title contenders in a rowdy new stadium will benefit the Horned Frogs in their initial season as a league member.
Posted on: August 2, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 1:51 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Big East Media Day got started in Newport the the release of the preseason media poll and opening remarks from commissioner John Marinatto and all eight head coaches. Each coach was given several minutes to address the media and share some thoughts on the upcoming season.
Pretty much every coach spent some time talking about the competition in the league. It was pointed out several times that 5 of the 8 teams have earned a share of the conference title since 2006, and all eight teams have earned at least one bowl berth in the last two years. Also many of the coaches expressed their excitement for the arrival of TCU and the topic of the upcoming media deal negotiation was not ignored. Other than Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, no other coach has been in his current post for longer than three seasons. The anxiousness to get into fall camp was another common theme, particularly for new coaches Todd Graham, Dana Holgorsen, and Paul Pasqualoni.
Below are some highlights from each coach's time at the podium.
Rutgers - Greg Schiano
- Schiano acknowledged the late-season collapse from 2010. "The wheels came off," he explained to the media. "We'll return Rutgers football to its winning ways, to bowl games." The Scarlet Knights had been to five straight bowl games (winning four in a row) until 2010's last place finish.
- One of the weakest points in Rutgers' offense a year ago was the offensive line. With new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Schiano believes the Scarlet Knights will return to being a "power football team." Says they've made some schematic changes to the line, but also believes they "are a better group than we were at any time last year."
- Highly touted running back Savon Huggins has become a star in the Rutgers football community before even setting foot on campus. Schiano made no promises about the starting running back position, but instead listed the entire group and said that Huggins will "make for great competition" when camp opens.
West Virginia - Dana Holgorsen
- "Excited to get to do this a year early" was the closest Holgorsen came to mentioning former head coach Bill Stewart. However he did spend a considerable amount of time complimenting the work of defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. While the Mountaineers lost seven starters from the defensive unit to the NFL, Holgorsen believes they have a "good nucleus" of players coming back to lead the 2011 edition of Casteel's defense.
- Holgorsen said that quarterback Geno Smith has picked up the new offensive system well. While Holgorsen has only been head coach since June, he's been working with the offense since his arrival in Morgantown before spring practice. He said that Smith's challenge now is "to make everyone around him better."
- "Tavon Austin is a dynamic kid who can touch the ball in a whole bunch of different ways," Holgorsen said of the junior playmaker. He made it clear the Mountaineers plan on putting the ball in his hands as much as they can.
Syracuse - Doug Marrone
- With an 8-5 finish and a Pinstripe Bowl victory, the Orange are fresh off their most successful season since 2001. Marrone, entering his second year on the job, made it clear that the goals for the program are to create a foundation and "become a competitive team year in and year out" in the league. The media projected the Orange to finish fourth in the conference, but well behind West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and USF.
- The Orange lost a lot of talent on defense, and Marrone made it clear that there will be lots of competition over the next month in camp. While the unit is solid at defensive end and safety, it sounds like the interior line, outside linebackers, and corner back positions are up for grabs.
- There was no update on the medical status of Prince-Tyson Gulley or any team decision regarding recently arrested wide receiver Marcus Sales. It has been reported that Gulley has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, but the coach made no statement on either situation.
Charlie Strong - Louisville
- Strong won over the Cardinals football community in his first year by taking the team back to the postseason for the firs time since the 2006 season, when the Cardinals were Big East champions. He was able to deliver a bowl game experience to a team that had 25 seniors, with 14 in the starting lineup. Strong made it clear that the Cardinals will be looking for players to step up this fall, filling in for the mass exodus of players from the two-deep.
- There is no hiding the lack of experience at quarterback for the Cardinals. Junior Will Stein has the most experience of the group (2 starts), but Strong made sure to mention dual-threat freshman Teddy Bridgewater and wildcard QB Dominique Brown as well. In spring practice it looked like Stein had a lead on the job thanks to his comfort with the offense, but clearly every candidate will get a shot to earn snaps this fall.
- Strong said that the defense will likely be the team's strength this season, particularly the defensive line. Three starters return from last year's unit, and the entire two-deep has game experience. The Cardinals also return both starting safeties, most notably 2nd team All-Big East sophomore Hakeem Smith.
Paul Pasqualoni - Connecticut
- It seems odd that one of the "first-year" coaches was present for the first season of Big East football in 1991, but such is the way things have worked out for Connecticut's Paul Pasqualoni. He pointed out how different the league is now, noting that the diversity of champions in recent years contrasts to the conference's inception - where Miami took 9 of the first 13 Big East titles.
- With no starting quarterback (Pasqualoni has decided to let all four candidates continue to compete into fall camp), there has been an emphasis placed on the offensive line. The Huskies did a fantastic job moving the ball with Jordan Todman in 2010, and Pasqualoni hopes that USC-transfer D.J. Shoemate will be able to find similar success this fall.
- Expect multiple looks from the Huskies defense this season. Explained that he and defensive coordinator Don Brown (formerly with Maryland) have different backgrounds and are "merging" their systems. There will be some 3-4 and some 4-3 as the Huskies continue to develop the linebacker position. Pasqualoni says that he has an "outstanding defensive line," anchored by all-conference defensive tackle Kendall Reyes.
Todd Graham - Pittsburgh
- When Graham took the podium, it was impossible not to recognize his feeling of pride after being introduced as the Pittsburgh coach. He opened talking about how far he has come, from coaching middle school football 25 years ago to now finally being a head coach in a BCS AQ conference. He mentioned his great memories as an assistant at West Virginia (his first collegiate job), and expressed his excitement to return to the conference. He also indirectly gave credit to former head coach Dave Wannstedt, saying he "has a lot of respect for the job that has been done before him" to bring this team together.
- Graham used the phrase "high-octane" several times during his remarks, and Panther fans should get excited for what it could mean for the offense this fall. Not only will it lead to exciting football, but Graham actually believes that it will better suit quarterback Tino Sunseri as well. According to Graham, moving the returning starter back into the shotgun "accentuates" his talents.
- For all the talk about Graham's new "high-octane" offense, he was sure to point out his excitement for the defense, which returns most of a unit that ranked 8th nationally in 2010. In addition to the returning starters, the coaching staff is excited about the development that they saw this spring on the defensive side of the ball. Graham also singled out senior nose tackle Myles Caragein as "the leader of this football team."
Buch Jones - Cincinnati
- Unlike the rest of his colleagues, Jones spent no time going over personnel or specific team outlook in his opening remarks. Instead he commented mostly on his admiration for the conference and pleasure to be coaching the 5th oldest college football program in the nation. Leadership is clearly a theme of his right now, although he called it "misunderstood" by many in America. It was confusing, I know. I'm guessing he is saving all his specific football chatter for the afternoon.
- One remotely football topic Jones covered involved his opening remarks was returning an entire defensive unit. He described that it is "one thing to be older, but we have to be better," when referring to the returning defense. The Bearcats ranked near the bottom of the conference in most defensive categories, and must improve if they want to turn around last season's 4-8 performance.
Skip Holtz - USF
- I'll give the second-year Bulls' coach one thing: he deliver a straightforward and enthusiastic message. "We were three plays a year ago from winning 11 games," Holtz said. "But we were three plays away from probably winning four." The Bulls went to overtime twice in 2010, and played in seven games decided by 8 points or less. Holtz, who described his first year on the job as "a blur," clearly understands how close the conference competition can get in the Big East.
- Holtz spent a considerable amount of time praising the university's leadership for their efforts in USF's growth. From facilities to funding, the entire athletic department has benefited from an initiative by the school to become more than a "commuter school." According to Holtz, seeing the campus-wide push has created a sense of excitement around Tampa.
- Speaking of excitement, Holtz identified the Bulls' late season wins over Miami in Coral Gables and Clemson in the Belk Bowl as victories that created a "snowball effect" for the team. He said the way the team came together and finished the season created a lot of excitement about the future. But Holtz knows it is still too early to make any projections regarding the 2011 season.
"From August 3 to September 3 we are going to learn a lot about this football team," Holtz explained. "I think that the next month will determine the amount of success we have [as a football team]."
Posted on: August 2, 2011 9:33 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Big East Media Day kicked off Tuesday in Newport, RI with the announcement of the preseason media poll. West Virginia was the overwhelming favorite of the voting media at the event, collecting nearly all of the the first-place votes. With Pittsburgh coming in second place, the highest expectations will be on the conference's two newest coaches: Dana Holgorsen and Todd Graham. While Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni is new at his post with the Huskies, he is no stranger to the conference after spending 13 seasons as the Syracuse head coach.
Here is the full rundown of the preseason media poll. Do you agree with the media? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
1. West Virginia (21) - 188
2. Pittsburgh (2) - 162
3. USF (1) - 151
4. Syracuse - 98
5. Cincinnati - 96
6. Connecticut - 76
7. Louisville - 60
8. Rutgers - 33
Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:01 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you're like us, you probably don't think of Maryland's Randy Edsall as a rockin' kind of coach. But what if I told you he had his own ice cream? Would he seem a little more rockin'? What if I told you the ice cream was telling you that Randy Edsall is a rockin' coach? Would you change your mind then?
Well, courtesy of "The Dairy" on the Maryland campus, you're about to find out whether you would or not. Because "Rockin' Randy" ice cream is real, and we think it's spectacular:
If you can't read the description under Randy's rockin'picture, it says (we're fairly sure):
Try Coach Edsall's Favorite New Ice Cream, Rockin' Randy! Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream with Chocolate Marble Swirl, Reese's, and Heath Bar Pieces
Reading that description, do you not feel rocked? Do you not believe that the man who could inspire (and almost certainly personally approved) such a rockin' dessert is an entirely rockin' individual? Do you doubt that Rockin' Randy Ice Cream tastes like the culinary cross of "Green Grass and High Tides" and Dewey Finn? Do you?
We do not. Oh, we still believe that the Terps should have hired Mike Leach instead, that the film from this year's meeting between Maryland and Boston College will be used in narcolepsy studies some day, that (if we're pushing the music metaphor) Edsall's UConn teams were the football equivalent of your local "easy listening" station playing the Muzak adaptations of its favorite cuts. (The call letters? L-U-C-K, at 77.7 on your FM dial.)
But as for the man himself ... who are we to argue with ice cream? We think of one word now when it comes to Randy Edsall: rockin'.
HT: Testudo Times