Tag:Tevin Washington
Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 4



Posted by Bryan Fischer


As much as it frustrates the rest of the country, there's a reason why the SEC is continually touted as the nation's best conference. There's a reason why they've won five straight BCS championships.There's a reason why the league is so competitive. And it's not hard to figure out either.

Defense, and lots of it. S-E-C Speed, S-E-C D.

With nearly half the league ranked 75th or worse in total offense through four games, five ranked teams and a 25-4 non-conference record don't happen by accident. Six teams are in the top 30 in scoring defense, including Alabama and Florida in the top five.

For LSU, the fearsome part of their defense is the backend. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu repeated as Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week thanks to six tackles and two turnovers against West Virginia. A week earlier, his teammate Morris Claiborne was tabbed for the award after two interceptions against Mississippi State. If there's a better pair of corners in the country on one team, they're in the NFL. Mathieu's interception that he took down to the one right before halftime helped stretch the Tigers' lead to 20 and Claiborne's 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown ended all hopes of a Mountaineers rally and kept momentum planted firmly on the LSU sideline.

"West Virginia did a very good job, but our defense showed up to play and we got off to a nice start," Les Miles said after the game. " Morris Claiborne’s return was right on time, and we were able to finish it off. We made some mistakes, but we overcame that adversity."

What was surprising Saturday was just how little pressure LSU's front seven were able to get on opposing quarterback Geno Smith. He finished with a school-record 468 yards of total offense as the Tigers game up more yards in a game than they had since 2005. Giving up chunks of yards to a Dana Holgorsen-led offense is nothing new, but what kept the game in LSU's favor was the big play ability of coordinator John Chavis' defense.

Ultimately, the Tigers don't win by scoring, they win by scoring on defense.

Mathieu, who wears Patrick Peterson's old number seven, is as ball-hawking as you can get. Peterson was a one-man island last season, often taking away half of the field by himself in zone coverage if he wasn't locking up his man one-on-one. While Mathieu isn't as good in coverage as the man he took over for, he has a great feel for the game and reads plays as well as anybody on the back half. When he roams or blitzes, things just happen - as they did in Morgantown on Saturday. Despite losing Peterson, this secondary is better and deeper than it was a year ago as Claiborne and others have elevated their game. As one NFL scout told CBSSports.com writer Gregg Doyel, there are actually more than four NFL players among this group.

Read more about Tyrann Mathieu in Bruce Feldman's Big Picture

"The offensive game plan was not a problem," Holgorsen said. "Turning the ball over four times is a problem, and they have something to do with that too. They have a pretty good defense."

LSU has scored first and led at halftime in each of the Tigers' games this year. It's all part of the plan: Score first, play defense, be opporunistic and win the fourth quarter.

Alabama uses a similar strategy. Before the season, one person inside the program said what many had been saying: this defense was better than 2009's championship squad and might be one of the most talented ever under Nick Saban. They might have an even faster secondary than LSU and use the speed to play everything in front of them, swarming to ball seconds after the snap.

Against Arkansas, they also delivered shot, after shot, after shot on quarterback Tyler Wilson. The 3-4 the team runs allows Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart to mix in plenty of zone blitzes to create pressure on quarterbacks who rarely can tell where it's coming from before the snap. The Tide recruit athletes who can move well in they scheme more than anything and that's translated into a fearsome unit that is living up to their reputation as the best in the country. They play smart and play well.

"Well we set out to establish that we were going against the best offense in the SEC and a lot of people were labeling us as the best defense in the SEC, so we wanted to go out and show people what we were capable of with all cylinders turning," linebacker Dont'a Hightower said.

Though the highlight of the game with Arkansas was Marquis Maze's punt return for a touchdown, that was nearly the straw that broke the razorback's back. As Saban and others admitted it was a defensive play, DeQuan Menzie's interception, that shifted the momentum after the offense couldn't convert on the goal line.

"That was a big turning point in the game from a momentum stand point, and you know, we need to make more plays like that, get more turnovers," Saban said. "People are going to see what we do and figure out ways to deal with it. Our challenge is to get better every day."

That's a scary thought - for Alabama or for any SEC defense. Can't wait to see them match up with LSU on November 5 as much as the offensive coordinators do not.

Stat of the week

After wrapping up a 56-31 win over Rice, just about everybody was talking about Heisman candidate and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Look up the box score and it's easy to see why: he went a ho-hum 29-33 for 338 yards and five touchdowns as the Bears racked up 673 yards of offense. Even more eye-popping was the fact that he threw more touchdowns than incompletions for the second consecutive game. Griffin has also thrown more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) this season. He is completing 85% of his passes, hasn't thrown an interception and is throwing for nearly 12 yards per attempt. As one would expect, he tops the NCAA efficiency rankings, just ahead of Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.

Other stats of note

- Florida beat Kentucky for the 25th time in a row and by at least 34 points for the fourth straight year.  The Wildcats are on the losing end of the two longest active losing streaks to one team, the other being the 26 game streak to Tennessee.

- Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz set a school record and tied the NCAA record by throwing seven touchdown passes against UC Davis over the weekend. He sat out the second half after the Warriors led 49-0 at half but not before he also passed for a school record 424 yards in a half.

- Notre Dame is dead last in the country in turnover margin at -2.50 a game. The Irish have given the ball away 15 times in four games, more than they did in all of 2009 and 2006. The defense has forced just five this year.

- Quarterback Denard Robinson is the nation's leading rusher at 168.7 yards per game, over 15 yards a game more than runner up LaMichael James. While that's pretty impressive, he wouldn't be in the top spot were it not for the NCAA not counting his stats from the game against Western Michigan - which was stopped early. Of course, who knows, he might have been able to pad his stats during that game and still be in the lead a few weeks later like he is now.

- Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray had his nine-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing broken. The Aggies really went away from the ground game in the second half and never did establish Gray against Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden set school records for completions (47) and passing yardage (438).

- James was back to putting up video game numbers for Oregon against Arizona this weekend. He rushed for a school record 288 yards and also set the all-purpose mark. His first quarter touchdown run also gave him the Ducks record for career touchdowns as well. His 288 yards were more than the Wildcats have rushed for all year (249).

- Florida Atlantic had just one first down against Michigan State but racked up 20 against Auburn's defense in a 30-14 loss. The Owls are dead last in the country in offense and have scored only 17 points all year. 62% of FAU's offensive yardage this year came against Auburn.

- South Carolina's defense allowed just 77 yards to Vanderbilt and only five first downs all game. Defensive stud Melvin Ingram scored yet another touchdown, his third in as many weeks. By reaching the end zone, Ingram is tied for third on the team for points scored with quarterback Stephen Garcia.

- A few miles away from Columbia, Clemson receiver and freshman sensation Sammy Watkins is leading the Tigers in scoring after 141 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a victory over Florida State. Through four games this year he has 433 yards receiving and six touchdowns, marks that would have placed him second and third on the team respectively in each category last year.

- Four teams topped the 400 yard rushing mark last Saturday, led by Air Force rolling up 595 yards against hapless Tennessee State. Oregon had 415 yards against Arizona, Florida rushed for 405 against Kentucky and Army pounded Ball State for 402 yards. A team has rushed for over 400 yards 10 times this year while a team has passed for over 400 yards 22 times through week four.

- According to SI.com's Stewart Mandel, Illinois is 4-0 for the first time since 1951. I'm with him, how is that possible?

- Georgia Tech has six plays of 70+ yards this year and seven one-play scoring drives.

Yard-by-yard

-  Hats off to Mike Gundy's halftime adjustments. After being held about 1,000 points below their average in the first half to trail by 17, the Cowboys offense exploded as Brandon Weeden started picking apart Texas A&M's secondary with intermediate passes on their way to a comeback win. The Aggies turned the ball over three times and anytime you give Weeden the ball on a short field, watch out. The most telling sign was the lack of panic on the OSU sidelines as they fell behind. Though they hadn't been in the position before, it was as if they knew what to do and went out and executed. The defense isn't quite as good as Oklahoma's but they'll be able to ride the offense quite far in Big 12 play.

- I'm not quite ready to say the Michigan defense is good but it's certainly much improved and solid enough in a weaker Big Ten for new coordinator Greg Mattison. After the much maligned unit struggled all of last year, they seemed to turn a corner against a very good offense in San Diego State. The Wolverines shutout talented running back Ronnie Hillman and the Aztecs in the first half, the first time they've pulled off the feat in the first half in over two years. Hillman hadn't fumbled since the first carry of his freshmen season last year and yet coughed it up twice. We've been in this position with the Wolverines before last year - a fast start, Denard Robinson being Denard Robinson - before fading badly at the end in Rich Rodriguez' last year as head coach. This year, though, might be different. The schedule is manageable and with the defense being more opportunistic than they have been in the past, Michigan could have a much different ending.

- Michigan's archival Ohio State doesn't have the kind of stability that the Wolverines have but they had to be encouraged with the solid first start for quarterback Braxton Miller. He didn't cause anybody to label him the "next" anything after going 5-13 for 83 yards and rushing for 83 yards but it looks like he's the future after a disastrous passing game for the Buckeyes I saw firsthand against Miami. What's funny is the last time I saw Ohio State play on the road was a couple of years ago at USC. The offense struggled and the next game a talented true freshman by the name of Terrelle Pryor started for the first time. Pryor tossed four touchdowns in that game and led the Buckeyes to an 8-1 record as a starter. While Miller didn't come anywhere close to looking like his predecessor, he looked comfortable running the offense and playing with what the defense was giving him. No one's saying he'll be able to replicate what Pryor did on the field but it looks like yet again the Buckeyes have another true freshman ready to lead them into Big Ten play this year.

"I slept pretty good," he said of his first start. "I really didn't have any jitters at all."

With improved play from Miller and the rest of the offense, head coach Luke Fickell might sleep better too.

- There's no offense quite like Georgia Tech's. It's an option attack but one that has a dangerous passing game that is part of the reason the Yellow Jackets are leading the nation in yards per game. They piled up 496 yards on Saturday in a nice win over North Carolina. Quarterback Tevin Washington is the triggerman but unlike previous players at the position under Paul Johnson, he looks like he can legitimately get the ball down the field accurately. Of course, it helps to throw the ball to 6-foot-5 receiver Steven Hill. There were times where he looked just like Calvin Johnson while making one-handed catches on his way to 151 yards and a touchdown. Hill might be the best receiver no one's really talking about but with Washington throwing the ball and running back Orwin Smith helping out on the ground, expect to hear more about Georgia Tech going forward.

- Poor N.C. State fans. As if it weren't enough to see former quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm for a top 10 team, Thursday's blowout loss to Cincinnati couldn't have given anybody any confidence in what's to come this season. The offensive line gave up six sacks to go on top of three turnovers, two of which were interceptions thrown by Wilson's replacement Mike Glennon without much thought. There's some talent on the team but clearly not enough in a much tougher ACC this year. It's going to be a long season until North Carolina's Committee on Infractions hearing for Wolfpack fans.

- I thought the Clemson game would be a bit of a letdown game for Florida State and while they made it close, the execution just was not there for the Seminoles. Of course they wanted to win and definitely were without some key players, but they invested so much into the game against Oklahoma one would have to think that they spent a little too much time watching film from last week instead of film of the Tigers. Just when it seemed like the defense was ready to make a stop or the offense get going, there'd be a penalty (they finished with 11 for 124 yards). On the other side, it finally appears that Clemson is getting the hang of offensive coordinator Chad Morris' new hurry-up system. Tajh Boyd still has moments that must make Morris rip out some hair but he is looking much more comfortable behind center. With electric freshman Sammy Watkins making plays every time you tune in, it's easy to see why there's plenty of optimism in Death Valley.

"I'm super excited about how our players keep growing this offense and executing. And we're only four games into this offense," Morris said. "It's crazy."

- Penn State beat Eastern Michigan 34-6 as part of the Big Ten's weekend of home games against directional schools to raise money for themselves. The Nittany Lions might have come out with a victory but it was a costly one - starting outside linebacker Mike Mauti will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Considered to be the team's best backer, this is needless to say a big blow to a team that already has struggled some on both sides of the ball. Mauti missed the 2009 season with an ACL injury to his other knee and was limited at times last year due to a shoulder injury. Senior corner D'Anton Lynn was also hurt and had to be transported to the hospital to have his head and neck examined after a hit.

- Speaking of Penn State, the team that almost beat them last week, Temple, ended up routing Maryland 38-7. Steve Addazio has quietly taken what Al Golden left him and turned the Owls in a forced to be reckoned with. Junior back Bernard Pierce is the Northeast's best kept secret, as he rushed for five touchdowns and 149 yards to power Temple's first road win over a BCS foe in nine years.

- How bad is Oregon State? The Beavers lost 27-19 to a UCLA team that is not without their own issues on both sides of the ball. Many expected them to get a boost - they were favored at home - with the return of all-purpose threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni but it was to no avail. It's the worst start of the Mike Riley era and unlike many of his previous teams, there's just no execution. There's been issues behind the scenes and at quarterback on offense while the defense is still breaking in plenty of new players. As Pac-12 play continues, don't expect things to get any easier until the Beavers get back to their roots of playing smart football and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. For UCLA, it was a game they just had to have if they're to sneak into a bowl game this year. According to the LA Daily News , a joyous Rick Neuheisel told a group of fans after the game  "Anybody have fun on the flight here? Not as much as you'll have on the flight home!" Of course, he also added that the Bruins haven't been 1-0 in the conference, "in a long time."

More on College Football
Analysis
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
That Okie State rallies past Texas A&M is insult enough. That the Aggies cough up a 17-point halftime lead to a Big 12 power on their way to SEC is more than Dennis Dodd can stand.
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Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
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Gregg Doyel Gregg Doyel
Notre Dame's Brian Kelly is an offensive genius and generally a wise man. Gregg Doyel says that intellect pushes Kelly to rely on defense. Read >>
Related links
Video
Quote of the week

"Big 12! Big 12! Big 12!" - Oklahoma State fans after their victory at Kyle Field. Perhaps it was also fitting that Texas A&M had two 12th man penalties on defense early in the game.

Quote of the week, part II

"The speed of the game, it's kind of lighting struck the outhouse and we were in it." - Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter after the Wildcats' 48-10 loss to Florida.

Tweets of the week

"Arizona will always be a basketball school.. So Child please!" and "If one more person EVER tells me Arizona is turning into a "football" school .. Can kiss the baby"

- Former Arizona forward Derrick Williams during his football team's blowout loss to Oregon. Ouch.

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Oklahoma State

8. Oregon

9. Virginia Tech

10. Nebraska

Where we'll be this week

The big CBS primetime matchup between Alabama and Florida from the Swamp will have Mr. College Football himself, Tony Barnhart, in attendance. Dennis Dodd will be at Camp Randall for Nebraska's first Big Ten conference game against Wisconsin while Brett McMurphy will be listening to 'Enter Sandman' as Clemson plays at Virginia Tech. I've got early duty as I'll be at Texas A&M's first SEC conference game (well, first unofficial one anyway) against Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium.

Leaning this way

Alabama at Florida (8 p.m. ET, CBS)

The past three meetings has featured one of two teams ranked number one overall and while neither will be in the top spot in the polls this year, a top 12 matchup awaits down in the Swamp. Both the Gators and Tide have tough defenses that are ranked in the top five nationally in the three big defensive categories (total/rushing/scoring defense) so each offense figures to have a little more trouble moving the ball than they have so far this year. Alabama's speed will be the difference as they bottle up Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps to come out with a victory.

Nebraska at Wisconsin

Welcome to the Big Ten Nebraska. Camp Randall should be jumping around as they welcome in the Cornhuskers and Taylor Martinez. Look for Russell Wilson to continue to be sharp and not turn the ball over and the Badgers' defense to make just enough plays to win. Martinez should be able to move the ball though, Wisconsin's defense hasn't really been tested - much less by an offense like Nebraska's.

Clemson at Virginia Tech

The first big test for both teams as Clemson goes on the road to take on Frank Beamer's squad. Clemson made several key mistakes that kept Florida State in the game last week and if they turn the ball over, that plays right into the Hokies game plan. Virginia Tech should win but don't be surprised if this is a close ACC battle.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: ACC, Air Force, Al Golden, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Army, Ball State, Baylor, BCS, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryant Moniz, Calvin Johnson, Camp Randall, Chad Morris, Chris Rainey, Cincinnati, Clemson, Cowboys Stadium, Cyrus Gray, D'Anton Lynn, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, DeQuan Menzie, Derrick Williams, Dont'a Hightower, Eastern Michigan, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Geno Smith, Georgia Tech, Greg Mattison, Gregg Doyel, Hawaii, Heisman, Illinois, James Rodgers, Jeff Demps, Joe Halahuni, John Chavis, Kentucky, Kirby Smart, Kyle Field, LaMichael James, Les Miles, LSU, Luke Fickell, Marquis Maze, Maryland, Melvin Inrgam, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Gundy, Mike Mauti, Mike Riley, Mississippi State, Morris Claiborne, N.C. State, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Patrick Peterson, Paul Johnson, Penn State, Rice, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Minter, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Ronnie Hillman, Russell Wilson, Sammy Watkins, San Diego State, SEC, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Addazio, Steven Hill, Stewart Mandel, Tajh Boyd, Taylor Martinez, Temple, Tennessee, Terrelle Pryor, Tevin Washington, Texas A&M, Tony Barnhart, UC Davis, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
 
Posted on: September 25, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 3:22 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 24)



Posted by Chip Patterson

1. After stealing headlines in Week 3, the ACC (and future ACC) struggled in Week 4. A week ago, I was writing praises for commissioner John Swofford for taking action to ensure the ACC had a place in the uncertain future landscape of college football. The ACC was gathering praise for their off-field transactions and on-field victories over Auburn and Ohio State. In a fashion typical of this fluid college football world we live in - things have changed in seven days. Florida State was so beaten emotionally and banged up physically after their 23-13 loss to Oklahoma they could not play to their potential against Clemson in Death Valley. Maryland got embarrassed 38-7 by Temple at home, Virginia lost to Southern Miss at home, and Miami followed their defeat of the Buckeyes with a home loss to Kansas State.

Making the perception even worse, incoming members Pittsburgh and Syracuse both embarrassed the conference on Saturday. The Panthers could not muster a single fourth quarter score in their 15-12 loss to Notre Dame at home while Syracuse beat Toledo in an overtime that should have never happened. The week wasn't all bad - the games certainly revealed new legitimate conference contenders in Atlanta and Death Valley - but in comparison to the praises showered on the conference a week ago this was a pretty weak encore.

2. Georgia Tech ready to challenge Virginia Tech for Coastal Division. After gaudy victories against Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee, we were intrigued by Georgia Tech. After decisive victories against Kansas and a talented North Carolina team, we know Paul Johnson's team is back and ready to compete for an ACC title. When Josh Nesbitt broke his arm last season, Tevin Washington took over and the offense struggled to maintain the level of production due to a rough adjustment period and an unhealthy habit of turning the ball over. The changes in the offense which the coaching staff has discussed all offseason have been clearly visible in the Yellow Jackets' 4-0 start. Not only is the triple option sharper with less turnovers, but Tevin Washington has gotten comfortable throwing the ball as well. With the physical Stephen Hill as his favorite target, Washington actually leads the nation in passing plays of more than 50 yards.

The Yellow Jackets dominated the Tar Heels on Saturday, much more than the 35-28 victory would suggest. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has not faced any opponents of note for comparison and has not looked particularly impressive offensively. While the Hokies defense seems to have found their grit back, holding teams basically no yards on the ground, Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson are still getting used to their new full-time starting positions. Virginia Tech is still the favorite to win the division thanks to a favorable draw, but the Yellow Jackets are right up there with a more convincing resume at this point for the strongest team in the Coastal Division.

3. Clemson's win does not put them in the driver's seat yet. Clemson's victory over Florida State in Death Valley was reaffirming. It was reaffirming to Dabo Swinney that his efforts to recruit players like sophomore Tajh Boyd and freshman Sammy Watkins would pay off for the program. It was reaffirming to offensive coordinator Chad Morris that his newly installed system could roll against the best defensive units in the nation when executed properly. It was reaffirming to a fan base who doubted their team's ability to beat two ranked opponents in a row, that the 2011 Tigers could compete for an ACC title.

But this "driver's seat" talk that is being tossed around? That's a little much.

Two wins over ranked opponents do not automatically erase several seasons of inconsistency within Clemson football in recent history. A 1-0 conference record with a win over Atlantic Division favorite Florida State does not pencil you in to the ACC Championship Game, but it does eliminate one of the most difficult obstacles on the schedule.

The Tigers faced Florida State at THE most opportune time. EJ Manuel out with a shoulder strain. Greg Reid and Bert Reed both out with injuries. The entire team coming down after losing the biggest game of the regular season 23-13 on the biggest stage. But those intangibles are not the sole reason the Tigers put up 455 yards of total offense on Florida State, in fact they are likely a small fraction. The Clemson defense, which has received very little attention so far this season, dropped back against a suddenly one-dimensional Florida State offense while the front four applied pressure to redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett. They were able to come up with just enough stops to secure the 35-30 win and set up the Tigers with an incredible opportunity to jump ahead in the ACC Atlantic Division race.

Are the Tigers in the "driver's seat?" No. But if they can do it again at Virginia Tech, we might have a different conversation on our hands.

4. Jury is still out on Miami and Maryland. Maybe it is because they played a memorable season opener against each other on Labor Day, but Miami and Maryland both have started the season in different yet equally confusing fashions. Miami bounced back from the loss to the Terps with a defensive showcase against Ohio State with four of their suspended players back in the lineup. Maryland has come back from making headlines with the Miami win and shockingly memorable jerseys with two straight losses to West Virginia and Temple. As we saw on Saturday night, West Virginia is a formidable opponent and far from an embarrassing loss. Temple, on the other hand, should be a cause for concern for Terps' fans.

Additionally, Miami's win over Ohio State was supposed to be a signature win for Al Golden and this new attitude in the Miami football program. But the defense that looked so sharp against Ohio State gave up 265 rushing yards to the Wildcats, and forced the Hurricanes offense to scramble just to get back in the game. On paper both of these teams should be among the best in the conference. But their performances have been inconsistent and difficult to interpret, making it tough for any fan to judge exactly how good these teams could be come November.

5. Gio Bernard is ready to be the feature back in Chapel Hill. Entering the season, it was expected that redshirt senior Ryan Houston would be the starting running back. A big bruiser with an ability to withstand the first and second hit, Houston was going to be featured with sophomore Giovani Bernard as the change-of-pace back. It only took two games before interim coach Everett Withers started splitting the workload more evenly, and when the Tar Heels faced Georgia Tech in their first road test of the season it was Bernard who was the featured running back in the offense.

The 5-foot-10 shifty back from Florida answered the call with an impressive performance that basically kept the Tar Heels competitive for our quarters against the high powered Georgia Tech offense. Bernard rushed 17 times for a career high 155 yard and two touchdowns. He was also a threat in the screen game, with 5 receptions for 47 yards. As sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner has become more conservative against tougher defenses, Bernard's role has increased. If he can replicate Saturday's performance on a weekly basis, it would make life much easier for the first-year starter under center.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 24, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 3:37 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 25 Georgia Tech 35, UNC 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

GEORGIA TECH WON. The Yellow Jackets outlasted a relentless North Carolina squad, using their high powered option offense to pull away with a 35-28 win over the Tar Heels in Atlanta. Stephen Hill broke loose for 151 yards receiving while six different Yellow Jacket rushers combined for 311 yards on the ground. Georgia Tech is off to their first 4-0 start since 1990, when the Jackets went on to claim the national championship.

HOW GEORGIA TECH WON: After giving up a touchdown on the game's opening drive, Georgia Tech's defense toughed up and picked off North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner twice to jump out to a 17-7 halftime lead. Once again Georgia Tech's offense was impressive, totaling 495 total yards of offense. Orwin Smith, Tevin Washington, and David Sims all contributed more than 70 yards rushing and Roddy Jones delivered the fourth quarter killstroke to set up the winning touchdown.

WHEN GEORGIA TECH WON: After Giovani Bernard stepped with a momentum-swinging 55-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 28, senior running back Roddy Jones took a pitch 48 yards down the sideline to set up first and goal for the Yellow Jackets. Tevin Washington then punched in the touchdown to put Georgia Tech ahead 35-28.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH WON: Georgia Tech's impressive victories thus far this season have come with an asterisk because of the competition. But Saturday's performance against a stout North Carolina front seven proves that this offense can roll against the beset in the conference. Georgia Tech picks up a crucial Coastal Division win, and the folks in Blacksburg should take note. There is another contender for that division crown.

WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: The Tar Heels came very close to picking up that treasured 4-0 start as well. Giovani Bernard put together an incredible performance, and the defense did their best to bend and not break in the first half. Ultimately this loss will not be terrible, and I imagine they will learn from this experience, but it could have been a signature win for this team and first-year coach Everett Withers. The key here will be turning this loss into a learning experience before the Tar Heels have to travel to Greenville to face East Carolina under the lights next Saturday.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Tevin Washington entered the game as the nation's leader in pass plays of 50+ yards and long touchdowns. He added one to both counts with his 59 yard touchdown to Stephen Hill in the second quarter. With Georgia Tech's offense usually being around 75% rushing plays, Washington is not the first name that comes to mind for such an accolade.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 18, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: September 18, 2011 1:26 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 17)



Posted by Chip Patterson


1. When it comes to expansion, ACC moves swiftly and silently. While Mike Slive and Larry Scott continue to make headlines with their cryptic quotes about realignment and expansion, ACC commissioner John Swofford once again made the moves necessary to protect the future of the conference. Before Legends, before Leaders, and before the Pac-12 matched their name with their membership; the ACC added Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College from the Big East in order to hold a conference championship game. I knew that September 17 would be a big day for the ACC, but I did not know it would be a day that defined the future of the conference.

Before Big East commissioner John Marinatto could say "clambake," Pittsburgh and Syracuse reportedly submitted formal applications to the ACC for membership. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy broke the story Saturday morning, and Gary Parrish is reporting the ACC presidents could vote on the expansion as soon as Sunday. "It's done," a source said to Parrish.

The addition of the two schools paired with last week's decision to raise the conference's exit fee to $20 million protects the future of the ACC. If we are indeed headed towards superconferences, Swofford has prepared his league to be one of them. By the time the story broke, the deal was reportedly already done, and there was no need for cryptic quotes or loaded statements. While Texas A&M's move was the first domino to fall, Saturday's developments may have expedited more major moves. Buckle up folks, the shift is happening now.

UPDATE: At 11:37 p.m. (ET), the ACC announced a media teleconference for Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m.. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy is reporting that the university presidents will meet prior to the teleconference. Stay tuned to CBSSports.com for more details of the conference's announcement, whatever it may be.

2. Florida State displays resilience in loss, but now what? The Seminoles fought with every ounce they could pull together from their beaten and battered roster in a losing effort to the top-ranked Sooners. The options were laid out plainly before the game: win and become a national title contender, lose and fall from the national title discussion entirely. Granted there are plenty of scenarios that could feature the Seminoles in the national title game as a 1-loss or even 2-loss team, but I wouldn't put any money on those outcomes.

The challenge for Jimbo Fisher's team is avoid a hangover from this frustrating loss. Florida State can still set their sights on the ACC Championship and a BCS bowl victory. The Seminoles haven't won an ACC title since 2005 and haven't won a BCS bowl game since defeating Michael Vick and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to win the National Championship for the 1999 season. There is plenty of room for growth, and the loss does not mean that the Seminoles "aren't back." The atmosphere in Doak Campbell Stadium was electric on Saturday night, and hopefully a sign of things to come in Tallahassee rather than a one-time occasion.

3. Miami got Jacory Harris back, but the difference was on defense. Jacory Harris may have matured, and changed in many ways off the field. But against Ohio State, Jacory Harris still looked very much like the Jacory we know and love. Great footwork, incredible athleticism, and wildly inconsistent in his reads and decision making. Harris finished the game with 123 yards passing, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions to match. The Hurricanes got their boost from their defense, which swarmed all over the field with high energy and held the Buckeyes to just 209 yards of total offense. Senior linebacker Sean Spence led the way in his first game back from suspension as the team's leading tackler while Adwele Ojomo and Marcus Forston provided depth on the defensive line that was lacking in Miami's season opening loss to Maryland.

4. Georgia Tech's offense is for real. Record-setting real. Georgia Tech's frustrating 2010 season included a 28-25 loss to Kansas. If the Yellow Jackets were out for revenge on Saturday, they certainly showed it in their 42-point second half output against the Jayhawks. When the final buzzer sounded 12 different Georgia Tech players had combined for 604 yards rushing in the 66-24 win. The total set a new school record, and the 12.1 yards per carry as a team set a new NCAA record. (NOTE: the official game notes list it as a record, but CBSSports.com's Adam Jacobi points out that Northern Illinois recorded 15.5 last November. Regardless, impressive performance by the Jackets).  Georgia Tech's offense has been steamrolling their opponents, using a stable of home-run threats to deflate their opposition with big plays. Against Kansas, the Yellow Jackets had scoring plays of 95, 63, 67, and 52 yards. Quarterback Tevin Washington has become a wizard in Paul Johnson's option offense, freezing defenders with fakes and reads while his teammates set up the perimeter blocking for the playmakers. High point totals against inferior opposition is normal for early season games, but hanging 66 on Kansas and giving the Jayhawks their first loss of the season made a statement. This offense is a force to be reckoned with.

5. Don't give Clemson WR Sammy Watkins any space. None. At least not if you plan on keeping him from burning your defense. The true freshman wide receiver has drawn the praises of coaches, fans, and teammates since arriving on campus this fall. On Saturday he made his presence known to the nation in the Tigers' 38-24 win over Auburn in Death Valley. Watkins led all receivers with 10 catches for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both scores came on short/mid-range passes that Watkins reeled in and took to the house. Against a defense that carries the reputation of "SEC speed," Watkins looked supersonic as he left the Auburn secondary in his dust headed towards the end zone. Watkins is an early favorite for Rookie of the Year already, and likely will be giving defensive coordinators headaches for the foreseeable future.

6. Things have gone from bad to worse at Boston College. Heading into the season, all the buzz around Boston College was about an upgraded offense that would feature Preseason Player of the Year Montel Harris rather than rely on the star running back. The defense, ranked among the best in the nation, returned arguably the game's best linebacker in Luke Kuechly and touted sophomore Kevin Pierre-Louis. Kuechly still leads the nation in tackles, but that's about all that has been going write for the Eagles. Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers has taken a medical leave of absence, Montel Harris is struggling to get back to the field after undergoing his second arthroscopic knee surgery in a year, and leading receiver Ifeanyi Momah might be lost for the season with his own knee injury. But frustrations have spilled over to kicking game as well, with Nate Freese missing an extra point in the second quarter and a 23-yard field goal with 43 seconds remaining in a 20-19 loss to Duke in the ACC opener for both squads. What started as a season of hope for BC (and even some chatter about ACC Atlantic dark horse) has turned into an 0-3 start with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Florida State, and Miami left on the schedule.

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 5:15 pm
 

PODCAST: Three studs, three duds from Thursday

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the podcast I recorded with Adam Aizer earlier today, looking at the three studs and three duds of Thursday. I picked four studs. I can't do anything right.

Click here to listen in a new window, or listen in the embedded player below.

I should have given extra kudos to Vick Ballard, by the way, mainly because of his name. One, it sounds like the name of a 265-pound running back, the type of guy who really has no business trying to run a 40-yard dash or wearing a form-fitting uniform. It's almost a disappointment that he's an average-sized tailback. And two, because I feel like America needs more young men named Vic, or Vick, or Victor. That's the kind of man that ends up owning an auto care shop -- or at the very least a non-ironic, grease-stained mechanic shirt with that name stitched onto the breast. Vic won't screw you over on that muffler repair. Vic does an honest day's work.

I digress.

Past all that, we talk Wisconsin and Russell Wilson a little more, and also Jordan Jefferson and LSU. I suppose I'm more on Adam Aizer's side than is evident in our answers to the question, in that I never thought this was LSU's year to begin with, but the odds of a win over Oregon are sufficiently lower now with Jarrett Lee under center than with Jefferson that it's fair to say that Jefferson's suspension is costing LSU the shot at the title (rather than, say, costing them the title outright).

Click here to subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast on iTunes!

Posted on: August 31, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 10:00 am
 

Ga. Tech captain Roddy Jones will play in opener

Posted by Chip Patterson

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson raised some eyebrows when he announced that senior A-Back Roddy Jones was questionable/doubtful for Thursday's opener against Western Carolina.

Johnson changed status while speaking on his weekly radio show Tuesday night, saying that Jones - who was selected as a captain for that game by the coaches - will play. Jones has 39 career starts for the Yellow Jackets, and has only missed one game.

Thursday begins a aggressive campaign for the Yellow Jackets to bounce back from a disappointing finish in 2010. After a 5-2 start Georgia Tech dropped 5 of their last 6 contests, only defeating Duke by an embarrassingly-narrow 30-20 margin. Jones will be joined in the offensive backfield by sophomore quarterback Tevin Washington and redshirt sophomore B-Back David Sims. But expect to see lots of rotation as the key players in the option offense must show improvement after finishing dead last nationally in both fumbles (37) and fumbles lost (20). Johnson has said that while Washington is the starter, backup quarterback Synjyn Days will see some time under center as well.

The Yellow Jackets will kick off against Western Carolina, Paul Johnson's alma mater, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 1:38 pm
 

RB Roddy Jones doubtful for Georgia Tech's opener

Posted by Chip Patterson

Last week the Georgia Tech coaching staff picked senior A-back Roddy Jones as a captain for Thursday's season opener against Western Carolina. But Jones' status for that game is up in the air after Paul Johnson listed the veteran running back as "questionable/doubtful" in this week's depth chart. Johnson said that Jones, who has started 39 games in his Yellow Jacket career, was "dinged up" and the official explanation is an undisclosed injury.

Senior Embry Peebles (46 rushes, 287 yards in 2010) will start in Jones' absence at A-back. After stiff competition in the offseason, sophomore David Sims will start against at B-back in the opener. Senior Preston Lyons and freshman Charles Perkins are both listed as the No. 2 back. Quarterback Tevin Washington has received praise for his leadership and improving ability to limit the turnovers that plagued the Yellow Jackets a year ago. Thursday will be his first opportunity to show Paul Johnson's trademark offense the new cast in the backfield.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 5:20 pm
 

Seen/Heard at Camp: Georgia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

Training camp is underway in college football, with teams all over the country getting a better idea of what to expect from the upcoming season. Along with the help of CBSSports.com's Rapid Reporters, here is a collection of recent observations from Georgia Tech.

- By all accounts, junior Tevin Washington appears to have the starting quarterback position. But that doesn't mean that he isn't being pushed by redshirts freshman Synjyn Days or true freshman Vad Lee. Head coach Paul Johnson is impressed with Lee's rapid development, in particular.

"He's actually light years ahead of where I thought he would be in four days, with footwork and understanding what we're trying to accomplish," Johnson said. "He still drops snaps, he still makes freshman mistakes, but you can see a lot of potential there."

Still, senior running back Roddy Jones is fast to throw his support behind Washington as the leader of the team.

"[Washington] didn't have a great performance in the spring game and that's what everybody brings up," Jones said. "He looks great, looks confident, looks full speed. He's out there running and cutting and really leading us." [Rapid Reports]

- Georgia Tech's defense struggled in 2010, moving to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Al Groh. At the ACC Football Kickoff, Paul Johnson admitted there were "growing pains" last season. Groh got very academic when referring to the unit's improvements with the new system.

"We didn't go from first grade to second grade," he said. "As with those apt pupils, we skipped a few grades." [Rapid Reports]

- Georgia Tech is one of many schools having to deal with extreme heat for these first weeks of fall practice. According to CBSSports.com's Larry Harstein, senior defensive tackle Logan Walls has been making extra effort to keep maintain his weight.

DT Logan Walls said he's losing six pounds every practice in the extreme heat. He eats a lot of peanut butter sandwiches, as he tries to keep his weight at 300 pounds. "It gets hard to eat when you're hot all the time, but you just have to keep forcing it down," he said.

That's dedication, holmes.

For more daily updates from Georgia Tech's training camp follow Larry Harstein's Rapid Reports and the ACC Blog.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com