Posted on: December 22, 2010 12:05 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
When West Virginia takes on North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl it's going to have quite a void to fill in its secondary. Head coach -- for now -- Bill Stewart announced during his press conference on Tuesday that the team's top cornerback, Brandon Hogan, will not be playing in the game thanks to a torn ACL.
"It just kills me, but not near as bad as it kills him," Stewart said on Tuesday. "Brandon Hogan played with a bicep injury, one in which many wouldn't have played with -- that's how tough the kid is. I was holding out hope that he would be ready to play in this football game, for his sake and for the seniors' sake. He's such an important cog on this defense."
Hogan suffered the injury during West Virginia's final game of the season against Rutgers on December 4th. The team had been hoping that Hogan would be able to put off surgery on the knee until after the game, but that's obviously not going to happen at this point. Stewart said that either sophomore Pat Miller or freshman Brodrick Jones will start in Hogan's place, and that the team may blitz more to try and make up for Hogan's absence.
Why he'd give away that strategy during a press conference, I don't know.
This won't be the first game Hogan has missed this season, as he was suspended earlier this season following a DUI arrest. Hogan finishes his senior season with 37 tackles and 3 interceptions.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 12:51 am
Edited on: December 22, 2010 12:57 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Louisville storms back from a two touchdown deficit to defeat Southern Mississippi 31-28
Offense: When Louisville came out throwing the ball, I must say I did not have high hopes for their prospects of winning. After all, running back Bilal Powell is one of the best rushers in the nation behind a veteran offensive line. But Southern Miss forced Justin Burke to keep the offense balanced for most of the game. When Louisville's offense needed to step up and eat some clock in the fourth quarter, they kept converting to keep drives alive. Eating up more than ten minutes of the clock in the final period, the rushing game finally sealed the deal for the Cardinals. GRADE: B+
Defense: Going to group special teams in with defense, in which case we have to discuss the moment the game changed. After a completely scoreless third quarter, Southern Miss scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a 28-27 lead with no signs of Louisville really threatening to score since the first half. Freshman running back Jeremy Wright took the kickoff 95 yards the other way for an immediate answer that let the air out of Southern Mississippi's momentum. The Golden Eagles didn't really bounce back from that one, so the defense benefited? GRADE: B
Coaching: This has been a great week for first-year coach Charlie Strong. First he snags former Miami quarterback commit Teddy Bridgewater from the Hurricanes, adding the top-ranked dual threat quarterback to Louisville's 2011 recruiting class. After putting in some work on the future, Strong was able to get Louisville a win in their first bowl appearance since 2006. I have a feeling the Cardinals fans are pretty happy with their new head coach right now. GRADE: A-
Offense: The Golden Eagles hit the ground running in the first quarter, with two fast scoring strikes that shellshocked the Louisville defense. With how fast they started, the final takeaway for Southern Miss has to be a little sour on the offensive end. In particular, two fourth quarter drives of 17 and -7 yards that both ended in punts. If one of the highest scoring offenses can turn one of those drives into points we may be having a difference conversation. GRADE: C
Defense: While Southern Mississippi's ability to score quick provides an adavantage in close games, it was their defense's inability to stop Louisville from driving that ended up being their demise. Louisville chewed up 10:52 across two drives in the fourth quarter. Those drives only produced three points, but the time they chewed up left Southern Mississippi with only real opportunity to put together a game-winning drive. They did not give up 40+ points or any absurd statistics, but as projected, Southern Mississippi's loss falls on the shoulders of the defense. GRADE: D
Coaching: Head coach Larry Fedora game in with just the right gameplan: they wanted to take some chances early, keep the speed up on offense, and hit them in the face early on defense. The only problem was being able to keep it up for 60 minutes. Hard to put the kickoff return on the coaches, but after Wright's return in the fourth quarter the Golden Eagles never really bounced back. GRADE: B
Considering the three blow outs served up in the first weekend of bowl games, the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl was a friendly change of pace. There were big plays, a two-score comeback, and the game came down to the last minutes. Can't ask for much more than that. Highlighted by this incredible reverse-WR pass to quarterback Austin Davis (WHICH HE GRABS WITH ONE HAND) I must say it was a pretty good game for a pre-Christmas bowl. GRADE: B+
Posted on: December 20, 2010 6:47 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 10:27 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Why to watch: These teams have already started to tussle, with Southern Miss getting disrespected by their former conference rivals , and there has already been promise of payback on the field. Additionally, the game pits former colleagues against each other. Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora and Louisville's Charlie Strong served on the Florida coaching staff together from 2002-2004. The Golden Eagles are entering their ninth straight postseason appearance, while Strong has succeeded in getting Louisville back into the bowl schedule for the first time since 2006. Both teams have a lot of pride on the line, and with these early bowls "showing up" sometimes is more than half the battle. I expect both teams to show up ready to play on Tuesday.
Keys to victory for Louisville: Louisville's best performances all season involved a heavy dose of the running game. Mostly that will be anchored by running back Bilal Powell (120.9 yards per game), but even when Powell was banged up reserves Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson carried the ball well behind the Cardinals offensive line.
Running the ball will be key to keeping the high-scoring Southern Miss offense off the field, as well as setting up the play-action down the field. It would not be surprising to see both Adam Froman and Justin Burke at quarterback for Louisville, and both of them should have no trouble finding an opportunity to take advantage of a Southern Miss secondary that gave up an average of 248.8 yards per game through the air in 2010.
Keys to victory for Southern Miss: West Virginia was one of the few teams to really shut down Louisville's rushing attack, holding Powell to zero yards in one half of play and getting the Cardinals' leading rusher sent to the bench at the break. The Golden Eagles are no West Virginia, but they can try to do just enough to create drive-ending stops. If they can keep the Cardinals from getting in the end zone, Austin Davis and the offense should be able to do work on Louisville's defense. Strong has improved the Cardinals defense, but they were inconsistent across 2010.
Davis was very consistent under center for Southern Miss, throwing for 2989 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. He has plenty of weapons, and the offense scheme stretches the defense to leave seams open for the running game. If Davis can get comfortable and hit a rhythm, and the aforementioned Golden Eagles secondary can keep from giving up the big play, Southern Miss could answer Louisville's pre-game taunts with a bowl victory.
The Beef 'O' Bradys St. Petersburg Bowl is like: Hot Tub Time Machine - I mean, it is kind of absurd. A collegiate bowl game named after Beef 'O' Brady's. No respectable game should have that many apostrophes in the official title. But similar to Hot Tub Time Machine , there is some promise to the game. It may come in the form of cheap thrills (fights, wacky turnovers, etc.), but there is enough on the line for both teams to know that they will at least be fired up to play. It will likely not be the game we remember the most come January (or Wednesday), but there is enough intrigue to sit down and check it out.
Tags: Adam Froman, Austin Davis, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Preview, Big East, Bilal Powell, Bowl Bonanza, Bowl Preview, Charlie Strong, Conference USA, Jeremy Wright, Justin Burke, Larry Fedora, Louisville, Southern Miss, Southern Mississippi, St. Petersburg Bowl Preview, Victor Anderson
Posted on: December 20, 2010 12:27 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If you've followed college football coaches on Twitter for any length of time, at some point you've probably seen them enthusiastically celebrating some curiously non-specific positive development. This tweet from Louisville head coach Charlie Strong from earlier today is a perfect example:
When these tweets appear, it's a safe bet the team in question has just landed a big commitment for their next recruiting class (though NCAA rules prevent them from commenting on them by name until a letter-of-intent is signed). It didn't take long for the news to spread that that was the case here as well, as Miami-Northwestern dual-threat quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has pledged to sign with the Cardinals .
If Bridgewater follows through and signs with Louisville, it will be a massive coup for Strong and the Cards. Bridgewater is rated as high as a five-star prospect by some services and a four-star, top-100 talent virtually everywhere; Maxpreps' Tom Lemming ranks him the No. 96 player in the country. For a program like Louisville with little in the way of past recruiting successes on this level, not only landing a prospect of Bridgewater's stature but landing him from points as distant as Miami is a huge, huge statement for Strong and his staff; one local writer has already called Bridgewater the "biggest recruit in school history." Combine the continued improvement the Cards showed under Strong this season with wins on the recruiting trail like Bridgewater, and "the Ville" will be challening for Big East titles sooner rather than later.
On the flip side, Bridgewater's decommitment from Miami in the wake of Randy Shannon's firing and subsequent snubbing of the new 'Cane staff under Al Golden is not the early message Golden wanted to send on the recruiting trail. Northwestern has long been a key pipeline for the Hurricanes, and though one recruit bolting in the immediate wake of the coaching turnover doesn't necessarily indicate there's any long-term damage done, Golden will have to stop the bleeding in a hurry and keep as much Miami talent at home as he can, or his tenure won't end any differently than Shannon's.
Posted on: December 17, 2010 12:59 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Mike Haywood was officially introduced as the head coach at Pitt yesterday, and won the press conference with his promise to make the Panthers a more disciplined, more unified team.
But as for winning the Panthers' BBVA Compass Bowl game against Kentucky, Haywood didn't have much to say about that, because he's not coaching the game. Dismissed coach Dave Wannstedt is, right?
Maybe not (emphasis added):
[Athletic director Steve] Pederson made it clear that although Haywood has been hired, the Panthers are Wannstedt's team until after the BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 8. Wannstedt, forced to resign last week, has yet to decide whether he will coach the Panthers in that game.So, just to be clear, let's review the Panthers' bowl-coaching options:
1. Dave Wannstedt. May not coach in the bowl.
2. Mike Haywood. Will not coach in the bowl.
OK, so behind door No. 3 is almost certainly one of the current Wannstedt assistants -- defensive coordinator Phil Bennett even has head coaching experience from his days at SMU -- but even for a Jan. 8 bowl, practice must start within days. If Wannstedt himself doesn't take the helm, someone has to.
If Pederson wants this blogger's nickel's worth of free advice, Wannstedt's ambivalence about remaining in charge ought to indicate -- all by itself -- that he probably shouldn't be the guy in charge. It's a well-meaning gesture on Pederson's part to let him leave the job with some kind of dignity, but if a gesture he's not interested in accepting, it's time to move on. The Panthers' disappointing season and occasionally aimless-looking coaching search has already made Pitt look bad; an uninspired, unfocused, unprepared loss to a .500 Kentucky team will only make them look worse.
HT: TSK .
Posted on: December 16, 2010 4:08 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's long been an open secret that after TCU joined the Big East as the conference's ninth football member, the league's top choice for a 10th member was original member in all-other-sports Villanova.
But how committed is the conference to that choice? Based on the timetable established today in an open letter from President Father Peter Donahue, committed enough that they're unfazed by that timetable coming with something of a sticker shock (emphasis added):
That's right: even with an open invitation on the table that an awful lot of schools would rename their biology buildings "Big East Hall" for, the Wildcats won't come to a final decision for another four months.
So why is 'Nova permitted to take its time when so many other conference alignment decisions in the past year's reshuffling have been made on the fly? Because while the leap from FCS directly into a BCS league wouldn't be easy for any program, there's several reasons to think the Wildcats can make it work: a well-established championship program at the FCS level; an administration with a history of overseeing and supporting successful athletics programs; and maybe most key of all, their location squarely in the middle of a major Eastern metropolitan area without a prominent college football team to follow. (No, Temple doesn't count.) If UConn can become a viable BCS-level program, there's zero reason to think 'Nova can't.
As long as 'Nova offers the league the chance to add that kind of football program without burdening the already badly-overstuffed basketball collective and bring Philadephia into the fold in the process, the conference -- apparently -- will be willing to wait.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 11:59 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
One of the more enlightening parts of the book Death to the BCS wasn't the fact that college football could have a playoff that would be incredibly successful financially. This is something that anybody with common sense could figure out. No, when I read the book it was seeing exactly how much money that schools actually make by going to bowl games.
Or, as is the case quite a few times, how much money that schools can lose going to a bowl game.
Something that, at the moment, it looks like UConn is going to experience first hand. Yes, the chance to go to a BCS game is exciting for the program as it gives the school some national exposure, but it also means that the school has a lot of tickets and hotel rooms to sell, and it looks like it's having some trouble doing that.
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights. Additional expenses include a chartered flight and meals for the team, staff and 300-member band, as well as a $100,000 bonus to coach Randy Edsall, and smaller bonuses for assistants, per their contracts, for getting the team to a BCS bowl.
Those 4,000 tickets that UConn has sold? That means the school still has 13,500 more to go. Obviously, the economy has a lot to do with this. Most UConn fans just don't have the money to buy tickets and fly across the country and stay a few days right now, and those who do can surely find tickets cheaper elsewhere.
The school has started an ad campaign to encourage fans to travel to the game, even having coach Randy Edsall warn everybody that "this might be the only Fiesta Bowl we go to." Sounds encouraging doesn't it?
I get the feeling there are going to be quite a few empty seats in Glendale next month.
Photo courtesy of New Haven Register
Posted on: December 15, 2010 8:36 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
According to multiple reports, this morning's suspicions that Mike Haywood would be Pittsburgh 's next coach have indeed been confirmed, and Haywood has been hired by Pittsburgh AD Steve Pederson today.
Haywood's pedigree includes a MAC championship at Miami University in only his second year atop the program; in his first year, the team went 1-11, and the eight-win turnaround was unmatched by any program in the FBS this year. Haywood also spent 14 years at major football schools LSU, Texas, and Notre Dame as a running backs coach; during his four years at Notre Dame, Haywood was also Charlie Weis' offensive coordinator.
During his career as an assistant coach, Haywood coached such tailbacks as Kevin Faulk, LaBrandon Toefield, Domanick Davis, Cedric Benson, and the talented but injury-plagued Armando Allen, and his experience at these "football factory" type of schools should allay any fears Pittsburgh fans may have about Haywood's recruiting abilities -- especially if all they're looking at is his last two years at Miami University.
Still, it doesn't seem apparent that Haywood has any meaningful connection to the Pittsburgh program or area, so one might not get the sense that this is a "destination" school for Haywood. Rather -- to borrow a term from the military -- this seems more like an "up or out" position for Haywood, where if he succeeds he's expected to move to a more prestigious program, and if he doesn't he's fired -- or, like his predecessor Dave Wannstedt, "gently encouraged" to resign at a 15-second press conference. Only time will tell.