Posted on: January 1, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2011 7:20 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Texas Tech withstands a late Northwestern charge to win the inaugural TicketCity Bowl 45-38
Offense: Senior Taylor Potts spent most of his career at Texas Tech in the Air Raid system that basically hands the keys of the offense to the quarterback. When the Red Raiders hired Tommy Tuberville as Mike Leach's replacement, that system left with Leach. But when Northwestern shut down the rushing game early, Potts was given the green light to fire at will. Using accurate throws on intermediate passing routes, the Red Raiders marched up and down the field all day on the Wildcats. Potts finished his career as a Red Raider with one of his finer performances of the season, completing 43 of 56 passes for 369 yards, and five total touchdowns. GRADE: A-
Defense: A matter of days ago Texas Tech found out that not only would defensive coordinator James Willis be leaving after just one season, but he would not even coach the Red Raiders in their bowl game. Considering the disruption this must have caused in the unit's preparation, the Red Raiders put together a pretty impressive performance in the first half. Unfortunately, when Northwestern got their dual-QB offense going in the second half the defense was caught on their heels. GRADE: C-
Coaching: When the rushing game failed, head coach Tommy Tuberville was forced to do the one thing he truly distastes: airing the ball out. But Tubs was able to come to terms with abandoning the running game because of how accurate Potts appeared, particularly early. Tuberville even let a trick play go down on the double-pass that set up Potts' rushing/receiving touchdown. The Red Raiders came into the game with basically no defensive coordinator, and yet still held the Wildcats to just one score in the first half. GRADE: B
Offense: In the first half, Northwestern looked helplessly lost without quarterback Dan Persa and running back Mike Trumpy. Their offense was stagnant, and their defensive counterparts could not do anything to stop the Red Raiders either. Needless to say, things looked bleak. But after the break, the Wildcats were able to utilize their two-quarterback package to move the ball down the field on Texas Tech. Running a scheme that utilized both Evan Watkins and Kain Colter, occasionally on the field at the same time, the Wildcats were able to keep the defense guessing and take advantage of some open field to score quickly and get back into the game. With Watkins primarily throwing and Colter primarily running, the two freshmen combined to do their best Dan Persa impression. Unfortunately, it was not enough to overcome the 24-6 halftime deficit. GRADE: C
Defense: Northwestern's defense was their one consistent flaw throughout all four quarters of the TicketCity Bowl. Time and time again, they were unable to create the big third down stop to keep the Red Raiders from moving the ball, and eventually, burning up the clock. The best chance the Wildcats had was when they cut the lead to 38-31 early in the fourth quarter. When Texas Tech got the ball back, Potts put together a 10 play, 69 yard touchdown drive that temporarily deflated the Northwestern sideline. Were it not for Jordan Mabin's pick-six two minutes later, the final result could have been much worse for the Wildcats. GRADE: F
Coaching: Preparing for Texas Tech team was a challenge for Patrick Fitzgerald and the Northwestern coaching staff, particularly on offense without Persa or Trumpy. Luckily, they had plenty of time to put together the scheme for Colter and Watkins. The Wildcat-esque package they ran was not anything groundbreaking, but it was good enough to create some quick scores to give Northwestern a chance at the end of the game. GRADE: B-
FINAL GRADE: Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since 1949, and for a moment in the second half it looked like this COULD be their triumphant moment. But no Persa and no Trumpy really hurt the Wildcats in the first half, falling into a deficit that was just too much to overcome. For Taylor Potts, it was good to see him air it out one last time. Not often this season has he gotten to complete 40+ passes now that Mike Leach's Air Raid offense is gone. At halftime, this snoozer was an F. But thanks to a furious comeback by the Wildcats, the game ended up being quite entertaining. GRADE: C+
Posted on: December 31, 2010 11:36 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Why to watch: Why, Northwestern is playing in the Cotton Bowl for the first time in the program's history! Sure, by that we're referring to the venue and not the bowl game itself (that's in Cowboys Stadium) but this is Northwestern's first game in Dallas, period. Isn't that enough? Doesn't history mean anything to you? Of course, it would be nice if Dan Persa -- the man who almost single-handedly put Northwestern in the postseason to begin with -- were healthy and able to play, but a fully Persa'd Northwestern team wouldn't have slid all the way to the TicketCity Bowl. As for Texas Tech , the nation can witness Tommy Tuberville and his neutered, lobotomized version of Mike Leach 's Air Raid offense. That won't be fun, per se, but not every play's a comedy.
Keys to victory for Northwestern: The Wildcats lost a lot when Dan Persa ruptured his Achilles' tendon, but heart appears to be the chief missing ingredient. Even though Persa never played a snap of defense (to the best of our knowledge anyway but you really can't rule this out), when he was out, Northwestern began giving up points in bunches. Illinois roughed the Cats up to the tune of 48 points at Wrigley Field, then Wisconsin rolled up 70 points in three quarters -- the fourth was nothing but random Wisconsin students from the crowd taking snaps on first down, then the Badgers punting on second down out of pity. If Northwestern wants even a fighting chance, it'll need to get its mojo back first. That means Evan Watkins will need to put together a good game under center, and tailback Mike Trumpy will probably have to get 100 yards or close to it just to keep the Northwestern defense off the field. Also, not giving up like 50 points would be ideal.
Keys to victory for Texas Tech: Obviously, step one is getting Taylor Potts off and running (or throwing, anyway); Potts is something of a relic of a bygone era considering his upbringing in the Leach offense, but he still threw nearly 500 times for 31 scores this year. Most of those scores went to Lyle Leong , who is downright lethal in the red zone: 13 of his 17 touchdown catches came in the red zone, with three more coming within 26 yards. MORE OF THAT PLEASE, obviously, but if Northwestern sells out to limit Leong's availability like Oklahoma , Oklahoma State , and Texas all did (all Tech losses), Potts is going to have to figure out how to spread the wealth successfully between the 20s and in the red zone. He did that against Baylor, so it's not as if this is an impossible task.
The TicketCity Bowl is like: Church. You may not enjoy it, but that's not the point and it never was to begin with. This is the first game of the New Year, kicking off at noon on the East Coast and in the morning everywhere else in the States, so odds are that most people watching the game are going to be wishing they were still in bed. Ah, but this is the institution you worship, this combat on this sacred acre of grass, and if anything's going to drag you out of bed with a brain still spitting up champagne and gasping for air, this is it. Get up, get in your seat, and get back to the real world as you watch the first snap of 2011.
Posted on: December 27, 2010 11:36 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you've kept up with the AP headlines, you know that Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis has left Tommy Tuberville's Red Raider staff a week before the Raiders' appearance in the TicketCity Bowl. But according to this report from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal , there's a lot more to Willis's departure than in your run-of-the-mill firing or resignation:
The Avalanche-Journal learned Sunday night Willis was talking about a job with the University of Florida and Tech coach Tommy Tuberville found out through third parties. The two came to a mutual agreement Willis should leave Tech ...If Willis does wind up making the move to Gainesville, it will come as a surprise (even to parties who aren't the apparently blindsided Tuberville) no matter how it happens. If Willis has agreed to become a position coach on Will Muschamp's staff, it'll mean a step back down the coaching ladder and away from what looked like a secure position on his longtime colleague Tuberville's staff (not to mention a likely pay cut). If Muschamp is planning on naming Willis his own defensive coordinator, he's bringing aboard a DC with only one year's experience at the coordinator position, and a fairly lousy year's worth of experience at that; Willis's Red Raiders finished 116th (out of 120 teams, you'll recall) in total defense and a slightly-less-horrific 85th in scoring defense.
As auditions go, that's not the kind that usually lands a gig as plum as defensive coordinator for the Gators. But you can't accuse Muschamp of not knowing what he's getting into; he and Willis worked together under Tuberville to forge some frequently dominant Auburn defenses in 2006 and 2007.
So Willis-to-Gainesville does make some sense, if not a lot of it. In any case, this is not how anyone would have foreseen Willis's time in Lubbock coming to an end, as the pairing of Tuberville and his longtime assistant seemed destined to be a fruitful one. Instead, Willis spent his only season in the coordinator's chair trying desperately (and unsuccessfully) to patch various holes and wrapped it up going behind his employer's back to look for something better. It's fair to say it's not what anyone -- Raider fans, Tech brass, even Tuberville himself -- would have ever expected.
Posted on: December 11, 2010 1:50 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There's a new hat in the Miami coaching search's ring according to the Miami Herald , and it's not one most observers probably saw coming: Marc Trestman , current head coach of two-time defending Grey Cup champions Montreal Alouettes .
Not many major college programs have plucked their coaches out of the CFL , but there's a reason (besides his immediate success in America's hat ) the Hurricanes would take a long look at Trestman; he began his coaching career in Coral Gables, serving as a highly successful quarterbacks coach to Miami legend Bernie Kosar , a current university trustee.
Of course, that the latest Kosar was weaing the Hurricane orange was 1984 should tell you something about how many times Trestman has been around the block. He left Miami (with a UM law degree) that same season, embarked on an NFL coaching career, and hasn't spent more than two seasons (both producing iffy results as the N.C. State offensive coordinator in 2005-2006) in the college game since. The other finalists for the 'Canes job according to the Herald -- Randy Edsall, Al Golden, and perhaps Tommy Tuberville, on whom reports seem to differ -- are all substantially more involved with NCAA football.
But no matter how frayed they might be, Trestman's Miami ties (he also spent time with the Dolphins ), support from Kosar, and CFL success appear to have him in contention. Things can and probably will change by the end of the day, but for now, this is a candidacy that has to be taken seriously.
Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
According to Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne on Wednesday, neither Husker head coach Bo Pelini nor Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt had requested permission to speak to the other about the Hurricanes' vacant head coaching position.
But if this report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is accurate -- and it's worth noting that Pelini declined to address the rumors about his flirtation with the Miami job, rather than simply denying them -- then Pelini and Hocutt (or their representatives) decided it was easier to ask forgiveness than permission anyway:
Pelini has spoken to ... Hocutt about the Hurricanes' coaching job but has not been offered it, two people with knowledge of the search told the Sun Sentinel on Thursday.That's a mix that as of yesterday appeared to have been culled by one, with Dan Mullen likely pursuing the Florida job instead. And now it may be down another candidate, as the Austin American-Statesman reports that Tommy Tuberville is staying put at Texas Tech :
Tuberville has told school officials there he will not pursue further the head coaching vacancy at the University of Miami, a highly placed official at a Big 12 school told the Statesman Thursday afternoon.This runs contrary to previous whispers regarding Tuberville and the Miami job (which he was supposedly angling for), but where Tuberville agent Jimmy Sexton is concerned, smoke-without-fire is par for the course.
If the Sun-Sentinel report is correct that Al Golden has joined Tuberville and Mullen on the "thanks but no thanks" list, Hocutt's options have started to dwindle. If Pelini stays at Nebraska, Hocutt could be all-but-forced to go with a candidate like Randy Edsall or Kevin Sumlin by something like the process of elimination.
But Pelini hasn't declared himself out of the Miami picture just yet. While it's hard to see at first why Pelini would leave football-crazed Lincoln just as the Huskers prepare for the challenge of the Big Ten for a cash-strapped, fan-challenged 'Cane program treading water in the ACC, that Nebraska is still paying him a salary commensurate with schools like Kansas and Oklahoma State might have something to do with it. Until he says point-blank he's staying at Nebraska or the Hurricanes hire someone else, it will be premature to assume Pelini's not taking his coaching talents to South Beach.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 3:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With the news that Urban Meyer has resigned/retired at Florida (delete as you personally see applicable), the Dan Mullen sweepstakes has a new almost-certain winner. The Gators will likely see Mullen as their Nos. 1, 1A, and 1B candidates, and there's no better fit -- and no place that can pay him more money -- for Mullen than his old stomping grounds in Gainesville. From the outside, it appears to be the kind of marriage that'll have both parties at the courthouse before anyone even knows they're courtin'.
That may be great news for Gator fans who would be happy to sacrifice Meyer if it meant replacing Steve Addazio' s hapless play-calling with Mullen's tried-and-proven offensive acumen, but it's a terrible blow for Mississippi State (who given their financial constraints will have no chance of keeping Mullen if/when the Gators come calling) and a big one for Miami as well. Depending on which reports you believe, the 'Canes had made Mullen their top candidate after being turned down by Jon Gruden , and given his offensive pedigree and performance in Starkville, he was the option with the best combination of availability and likelihood of success.
If he's off the board, where might Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt turn? A flurry of reports out of South Florida have identified the candidates currently at the forefront of the search. (The 'Canes will apparently risk receiving another sternly-worded letter from Donald Trump , as Mike Leach is not among them.) Taking them one coach at a time, and assessing their chances of eventually taking their talents to South Beach:
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Tuberville has a strong Miami connection, having coached there for eight years and winning a national-title as a defensive coordinator under Dennis Erickson, and would certainly be capable of preserving the team's defensive improvement under Randy Shannon. He would almost certainly accept the job if offered, as whispers have indicated Tuberville has been campaigning hard for the job behind the scenes. (Then again, Tuberville's agent is infamous rumor-starter Jimmy Sexton, so take that with a grain of salt.) The problem is that Tuberville is already 56, with his best coaching days behind him, and has struggled at times putting together a working offensive staff. Would he cause enough of a splash?
Randy Edsall, UConn: Then again, if the 'Canes are seriously considering Edsall, making a splash isn't high on their list of concerns. Edsall would maintain Shannon's sense of rugged discipline, with an old-school grinding running game to match, and there's no doubt he's wrung the most out of his fledgling program. But the Huskies haven't actually been "good," even by Big East standards, as much as they have been the team least-prone to shooting itself in the foot.
Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Sumlin is a young, charismatic coach with an exciting up-tempo offense that ought to put butts in seats; he should be able to immediately connect wit hthe 'Canes fickle fanbase in a way the above candidates might not. But he's also by far the least proven, having made his name by maintaining Art Briles' previous good work at Houston.
Al Golden, Temple: Golden's resuscitation of the Owls is one of the most impressive feats of college coaching of the past few years, and he's young enough that he could be a cornerstone for Miami for years and years to come. But there's a strong sense -- bordering on consensus -- that Golden is waiting for Joe Paterno' s retirement for a shot at the Penn State gig. After Turner Gill' s struggles at Kansas , it's also worth wondering if rebuilding jobs in the MAC are easier than they're made it out to be.
Mike Stoops, Arizona: In what might be seen as a too-close-for-comfort parallel with the Shannon era, Stoops's steady year-by-year improvement project in Tucson took a minor step backwards this year. But Stoops' sideline antics prove he's got the energy for the job, and his reclamation job with the Wildcats has been impressive. But Miami may not be able to pay him much more than Arizona can, and there doesn't seem to be as much buzz as there is with the candidates above.
And that, for the time being, is the list (though the reports also agree that other candidates are likely on the radar screen). There's a few reasonably solid options there, and at this point you might have to consider Tuberville the favorite; he has the biggest name, the strongest ties, and likely the most intense interest. But if Mullen is truly no longer in the picture, Hocutt might also have to get creative to stave off the perception that the Gators stole his hire's thunder clean out from under him.
Tags: Al Golden, Arizona, Dan Mullen, Dan Mullen to Florida, Donald Trump, Florida, Florida coaching search, Houston, Jon Gruden, Kevin Sumlin, Kirby Hocutt, Miami, Miami coaching search, Mike Leach, Mike Stoops, Mississippi State, Randy Edsall, Randy Shannon, Steve Addazio, Temple, Texas Tech, Tommy Tuberville, UConn, Urban Meyer, Urban Meyer resigns, Urban Meyer retirement
Posted on: November 29, 2010 10:52 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Wherever there are head coaching openings in college football and wild unsubstantiated rumors about who will fill them, there will always be one name whose presence in those rumors and frequency of being "connected" to those jobs rises above all others: Houston Nutt .
Ever since his move from Boise State to Arkansas in 1998, Nutt has been linked with every conceviable opening, from a laundry list of SEC gigs to the Dallas Cowboys head coach to President Obama's "health care czar." (Only made up that last one, by the way; rumor had it before the Wade Phillips hire that since Jerry Jones is an Arkansas alum and enjoyed Nutt's time in charge of the Razorbacks, he would turn his franchise over to a guy with no NFL experience whatsoever that most of the pro football media have never even heard of.)
The reason for this is simple, and bears the name Jimmy Sexton . The most influential agent in the SEC, bar-none, one of Sexton's favorite longtime ploys for leverage has been to float rumors in the press that his clients could leave for other destinations, then using the apparent "interest" to help wrangle his client a new contract extension. This is exactly what Sexton ought to be doing, since it's a strategy that works and works well; when Auburn was in the market for a new coach after Tommy Tuberville 's departure in 2008 (a Sexton client who himself had reportedly been interetsed in jobs at Texas A&M, Arkansas, Miami, etc. over they ears), reports flew fast and furious that Nutt was the Tigers' top choice, and within a handful of days the Rebels had given Nutt an extension and a raise despite the fact that there's little evidence Auburn ever considered Nutt at all.
So when you read the now widespread "report" that Nutt has already accepted the Colorado job , remember that no one is better at conjuring "Nutt to new position X" stories out of thin air than Sexton. (Especially when no one with a shred of credibility is lending the rumor any legs , Nutt himself included.) Admittedly, quotes like this one ...
Nutt added the intrigue when he was asked after the game what sort of items he wants to address after the season. “There’s a few things,” he said. “I’m going to get into that Sunday. I just — I want to talk to my team first before they read it. I want them to hear it first.”... don't exactly help the "nothing to see here" argument, but it seems substantially more likely that Nutt's referring to staffing changes (maybe the dismissal of under-fire defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix ?) than any kind of change in his own job status.
Besides, a quote like that ensures Nutt can stay in the headlines for another couple of news cycles. No doubt Sexton is smiling somewhere over that.
HT: TSK .
Posted on: November 28, 2010 12:10 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 12:11 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
So now that it's official and we know for a fact that Randy Shannon has been fired by Miami, I suppose it's about time we got to speculating about who is going to replace him in Coral Gables. Though the program hasn't been what it used to be, Miami is still the type of job that plenty of coaches wouldn't mind trying on for size.
After all, Florida is still a hotbed of football talent, and it's not like the ACC isn't there for the taking. So who are some of the names likely to come up in the coming weeks or months? Miami has said it will begin a national search, so just about anybody is in play.
Let's look at some of the likely suspects.
Mark Richt -- It sounded like Mark Richt would be in danger of losing his job earlier this season, but things have since calmed down at Georgia. Still, that doesn't mean he wouldn't consider leaving the grind of the SEC for the sunny beaches of Miami. After all, he liked the school so much he did decide to go to college there.
Dan Mullen -- Another SEC coach that the 'Canes may want to consider poaching. Unlike Richt, he's at an SEC school that is considered more of a stepping stone than a destination. Plus, if Mullen can do the job he's done in Starkville with a perennial bottom-feeder in the SEC, imagine what he could do at Miami.
Mike Leach -- As far as I'm concerned, there won't be a coaching vacancy anywhere that I don't think Mike Leach should be considered for. College football needs it's Pirate King, and with Miami so close to the beach, Leach will finally have a place to keep his pirate ship.
Gus Malzahn -- There won't be many schools looking for a head coach who won't give Malzahn consideration. He's been successful everywhere he's been, especially with what he has done with Cam Newton and Auburn this year. He's an offensive innovator that will get a shot somewhere, so why not Miami?
Mario Cristobal -- A bit of a darkhorse candidate here. Cristobal is currently the head coach at FIU, who just won the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday. He also happens to be a former offensive lineman for the Hurricanes.
Tommy Tuberville -- I'm sure Miami could get him if it asked, but really, why would it?
Howard Schnellenberger -- Come on, Donna Shalala. You know you want to.
Ron Prince -- A big name coach would be nice, but a power towel would be better.
These are just some of the names that are likely to come up, obviously, there will probably be many more floated around before Miami finally does settle on it's new head coach. That's what happens anytime a big-time program begins a coaching search.