Posted on: December 8, 2010 6:08 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There's an argument to be made -- and you don't even have to break a sweat to make it -- that no single position in the SEC has had a greater negative impact over the past two seasons than quarterback at LSU .
In 2009, under new defensive coordinator John Chavis , the Bayou Bengals finished a strong 26th in the country in total defense and allowed the third-fewest points in the SEC; unfortunately, Jordan Jefferson finished eighth in the league in passing yards per-game and took enough sacks to place LSU 103rd in that category, and LSU lost four games in which their opponents scored 13, 24, 25, and 19 points, respectively. Chavis's unit has been even better in 2010, finishing eighth in the FBS in total D and ninth in scoring defense . It's a good thing, too; with Jefferson and Jarrett Lee combining for a dead-last finish in the SEC in passing and a next-to-last finish in QB rating, the Tigers managed to win games with scoring totals of 20, 16, and 24 points. The Tigers also lost when they scored only 17 points against Auburn's eminently flammable defense. It's fair to say that with competent-to-good quarterbacking, LSU is looking at at least back-to-back BCS bowl appearances, possibly an SEC title one year or the other, maybe even another national title game berth.
Which is why that even amongst the coaching hiring-and-firing-and-retiring mania, the news this week that JUCO quarterback Zach Mettenberger has elected to play for Les Miles and Co. shouldn't fly under the radar. Mettenberger was a consensus four-star recruit coming out of Watkinsville, Ga., and proved his bona fides as one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in his class by battling Aaron Murray tooth-and-nail for first the Georgia backup quarterback's job in spring 2009 and then the starter's position this past spring. After being booted from the Bulldog roster (more on this in a moment), he landed at Butler County (Kan.) Community College and went 176-of-299 for 2,678 yards this fall with an impressive 32-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Mettenberger will arrive at LSU with more than a little baggage, earning his ticket out of Athens by pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery following an incident at a Remerton (Ga.) bar, as well as a host of other minor offenses. But time and a JUCO stint often heals all wounds in the SEC -- just ask Cam Newton -- and at 6'5", 250 pounds, with Mettenberger's pro-grade arm, he'll arrive at Baton Rouge with a real chance at winning the starting job as soon as next season. Mettenberger cited Miles's immediate interest as one reason he chose the Tigers over Alabama, Arkansas, and others; that LSU pursued him as fervently as they did should say something about confident they are in his potential to start from Day 1.
Even if Mettenberger has to wait one season for his turn, both Jefferson and Lee are seniors. He'll get his shot eventually, and that's reason enough for the SEC to worry; given Murray's stunning first year at Georgia, Mettenberger's huge year at Butler, and his recruiting profile, the odds are very good that Mettenberger will be a quality SEC starter, and pairing a quality SEC starter at QB with Chavis's defense (not to mention the wealth of talent across the rest of the offensive board) could easily put LSU back on top of the SEC West.
In short, LSU's biggest Achilles heel these past two seasons may have been healed. Given how good they've been anyway, Mettenberger's commitment could prove to be a turning point -- not only for the Tigers, but for the entire SEC West. And if you don't think one JUCO quarterback can have that kind of impact, we'd ask you to take it up with Mr. Newton.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:10 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The economic slump has taken its toll on ticket sales and attendance figures for any number of bowls over the past couple of seasons -- no, John Q. College Football Fan does not want to spend his hard-earned cash visiting Detroit at the end of December to watch the Little Caesar's Bowl -- but that doesn't mean that with the right matchup in the right setting, fans still won't flock to their team's postseason destination.
Exhibit A: the Sugar Bowl has already sold out . It's the Sugar Bowl, sure, but getting to New Orleans from Columbus isn't the easiest of hikes, and while no one will accuse Arkansas fans of being any less fervent in their devotion to their football team than fans at their fellow SEC schools, they also simply don't have the numbers of an Alabama, Florida, or LSU. If it's taken less than 48 hours or so to sell out the Superdome, that's not bad.
But, yes, it is still the Sugar Bowl. And yes, it's the Hogs' first trip there in ages and the Buckeyes have one of the nation's largest followings. It's not bad, but it's not impressive. What might be, though, is Exhibit B: the Sun Bowl, in El Paso, Texas, has also sold out . It's even done so in record time, exhausting its ticket supply in less than 24 hours to break last year's mark by nearly nine days, and that's despite El Paso's less-than-desirable proximity to crime-ridden Juarez hampering its image as a tourist destination. (If you can't make it in person, remember that you can always watch the Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. EST Dec. 31, exclusively on ... wait for it ... CBS!)
That's what having two name-brand teams in Miami and Notre Dame set to renew the most famous and consequential rivalry of the late 1980s will get you, we suppose. (That the Irish declined to play a bowl game of any kind last season probably helps, too.) What happens if you're not pairing the 'Canes and Irish? What happens if you're pairing, say, a 6-6 Pac-10 mediocrity with a Big 12 opponent that 1. just crushed its legions of fans with a devastating championship game defeat 2. played in that same bowl game last year 3. obliterated that same Pac-10 team in that team's stadium earlier this season?
What happens is you have the Holiday Bowl and its Nebraska-Washington matchup, and you are also not going to see all that many Husker fans there :
The Nebraska athletic ticket office still has about 5,000 tickets for sale to the public, something that probably wouldn't have been the case had the Huskers made it to another bowl against another team.In many cases, yes, the economy will be to blame for bowl struggles. But as the Holiday is proving, there's often a lot more to it than that.
HT on Holiday story: DocSat .
Posted on: December 2, 2010 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2010 12:12 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Whether it is the crazy clock management, the ambiguous quotes, or stuffing his face with grass from the field, it is hard to see past Les Miles on the LSU sideline. But as any Tigers fan, after another season of offensive frustrations all of the attention in Baton Rouge is on offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. The Tigers have finished near the bottom of the SEC in total offense the last two seasons, and currently rank 107th of the 120 Div. 1-A schools in passing offense. Whether it was Jordan Jefferson or Jarrett Lee under center, the Tigers offense often failed to match the play of their defensive counterparts.
The frustrations have magnified in 2010 after the Tigers fell just one score short in each of their two losses. No matter what the team's attitude is towards their bowl game, it will still feel like a disappointment to much of the fan base. But try and ask Miles about Crowton's future, and he will certainly indicate where his attention lies.
"I've got to be real honest with you, I don't want to talk about that," Miles said when asked about Crowton's status in a meeting with reporters Wednesday afternoon in the LSU football facility. "Endorsement, no endorsement — all those things are really without relevance at this point to me. This is about preparing a team for a bowl game, period. I think our offense has gotten better. And I think that our team is maturing."
The offense has gotten better late in the season. For the first time since 2007, LSU put up 430+ yards of offense in back-to-back SEC wins. In 2009, LSU only broke the 400 yard mark against Tulane. Much of the production has been thanks to an improved running game led by Stevan Ridley. The junior running back scored 10 touchdowns in the last six games of the season, and broke the 1000 yard mark for the first time in his career. Whether the late-season improvements will be enough to keep Crowton on the payroll could be determined by the bowl game. I would take this time to suggest to the coordinator that last impressions are lasting, and running up the score in the bowl game may not be a bad idea.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:37 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun is a name that is likely going to come up as a possible candidate for a few different head coaching jobs this offseason. Calhoun has gone 33-18 in four seasons at Air Force, and his history both in college and the NFL is appealing to schools looking for a new head coach. One spot his name has come up pretty often is at Colorado.
Along with his experience, the fact that Calhoun is familiar with the state of Colorado thanks to his time at Air Force and with the Denver Broncos only makes him more attractive to the school. Unfortunately for Colorado, Calhoun had to let the school know that while he's flattered, he's just not into them.
Calhoun recently let the school know that he won't be a candidate to replace Dan Hawkins, and removed his name from the discussion. He's the second candidate to do so, as former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti removed himself from consideration a few weeks ago.
As for who the new front runner for the gig is, the names Bill McCartney and Eric Bieniemy keep popping up, and interim head coach Brian Cabral had an interview earlier this week. There are also rumors that the school still has the pipe dream of stealing Les Miles from LSU. Why Miles would ever leave LSU to take a pay cut at Colorado, I'll never know.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 1:06 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. Cam Newton is your Heisman Trophy winner. Seriously, just give him the trophy now. Don't even invite anybody else to New York because there isn't a point. After leading Auburn to that comeback win against Alabama, after falling behind 24-0 on the road, LaMichael James -- or any other contender -- would literally have to score 80 touchdowns in a game while saving a group of children from a burning building to take the Heisman away from him. I'm not even sure I care if he did take money at this point.
2. Hogs can smell sugar. And they really seem to like it. Arkansas took care of LSU on Saturday in Little Rock, and because of it, the Hogs still have a chance to go to the Sugar Bowl. All they need is for Auburn to beat South Carolina next week and move on to the title game. That would free the Sugar Bowl up to select an SEC team, and you have to think Arkansas would get a look.
3. Florida's nightmare season can get worse. Go ahead, ask any Gators fan if they feel any better about 2010 after seeing the Gators get knocked around by Florida State on Saturday. Honestly, I don't see how Urban Meyer can consider bringing Steve Addazio back next season unless his ultimate plan is to have Gainesville burn to the ground.
4. Georgia is going bowling after all. It took longer than any Georgia fan was probably hoping for, but after beating Georgia Tech on Saturday night, the Bulldogs now have six wins and can get an extra two weeks of practice. Considering how the season started, it's a small miracle.
5. Kentucky may never beat Tennessee. Seriously, if there was ever going to be a season in which the Wildcats would finally knock off the Vols, this would have been the one, right? Sorry, not the case. Tennessee took care of the 'Cats and like Georgia, is now bowl eligible. Which is an even bigger miracle than the one Georgia pulled off.
Posted on: November 27, 2010 5:41 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 5:46 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Things have gone a little crazy in Little Rock between LSU and Arkansas this afternoon. First there was this touchdown pass from Ryan Mallett to Cobi Hamilton.
That wasn't the last of it, however. With the score tied at 14-14 with six seconds left in the half, Arkansas had the ball at its own 20-yard line. Well, Mallett and Hamilton decided that they liked throwing for 80-yard touchdowns so much, they might as well do it again. Which they did on the final play of the half, as Mallett hit Hamilton over the middle of the field, and some nice downfield blocks led to a 21-14 Arkansas lead 80 yards later.
It's been pretty crazy, thus far, which you would expect in any game involving Les Miles and two rivals.
Stevan Ridley is responsible for LSU's two touchdowns, and has 79 yards rushing to lead the Tigers.
This is a pretty important game for both teams, even if neither has any conference title aspirations. Should LSU win, with Boise State's loss, there's a possibility that the Tigers would move into the top 4 of the BCS rankings, which would guarantee them an at-large berth in a BCS game. Should Arkansas win, they still have a chance to get to the Sugar Bowl if Auburn can beat South Carolina and move on to the national championship.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 1:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If most of us were compliling a wish list of candidates for Colorado and their open head coaching position, we'd rank Les Miles somewhere between Condoleeza Rice and Zombie Knute Rockne . All three are intriguing options, but the day any of the three accept the Buffaloes' head job is the day the world ceases spinning on its axis.
Or so we think. That's reportedly not the way Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn is thinking , however, as he tries to lure the former Buffs assistant back to Boulder:
Pressure or no, the list of reasons Miles wouldn't relocate to Colorado seem endless; he'd be forced to take a huge pay cut to join cash-strapped Buffs, his chances of winning championships (both conference and national) would shrink dramatically, he'd have to abandon an LSU program he's recruited into one of the most talented in the country and is poised for its third BCS berth on Miles' watch, and all of that is before we start getting into the pain of uprooting his family.
In short, the pressure (along with Miles' alleged love of Boulder as a city) would be the only reason Miles might abandon Baton Rouge for Boulder, and after starting 9-1, Miles seems to be thriving as fully as he ever has under that pressure. If Miles was looking for a way out of his LSU job, it stands to reason he'd have taken the chance to go to a Michigan job he reportedly covets three years ago.
Stranger things have happened. And at this relatively early stage, there's not much cost (if any) to aiming high. But until there's some indication Bohn's interest is reciprocated in any fashion, we'd suggest the Buffs focus their efforts on Calhoun, or maybe some kind of unholy rite involved in hiring a vampire Vince Lombardi .
HT: EDSBS .
Posted on: November 22, 2010 5:00 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 5:14 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
UPDATE: Okay, so the video won't embed. Which stinks. But still you can check out the video at the Deadspin link below. It is definitely worth your time. And if you hate to leave the CBSSports.com page (I know it kills you), you can right click the link and select "Open In A New Tab." You see? I'm here for you people. I'm here for you.
So there's this odd video LSU head coach Les Miles answering questions at his weekly "Lunch with Les" press conference. Miles was taking a routine question from Ted Castillo of the Baton Rouge Advocate. Judging by the casual and light-hearted reaction of the room, Castillo is clearly the type of character who can get away asking an awkward series of questions like this. Still, the thought of a creepy old Louisiana sports reporters making routine attempts to peep in hotels...well...not that surprising.