Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: August 29, 2011 1:35 pm
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Tennesee freshman safety Pat Martin leaves team

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Tennessee's
secondary likely can't take too many more hits. But they've kept on coming anyway.

Per our CBSSports.com RapidReporter Daniel Lewis, Derek Dooley announced Monday that true freshman safety Pat Martin has left the team. The decision was mutual, according to Dooley.

As blows to the Volunteer defensive backfield go, this is nothing like losing an All-SEC caliber player like Janzen Jackson. But Martin's departure remains far from meaningless, even within the context of the 2011 season alone; a four-star recruit and one of the top-20 safeties in the nation this past year according to Maxpreps, Martin was in line to compete for playing time (if not necessarily a starting role) and could have helped a still-thin Vol roster on special teams.

That won't happen, and with one injury or off-field incident, the Vol secondary could feel the sting of Martin's decision. Even after Jackson's dismissal, the Vols return a pair of starters at safety in Prentiss Waggner and Brent Brewer. But Waggner's move from corner has already thrust either true freshman Justin Coleman or JUCO transfer Izauea Lanier into the starting foursome at CB, and the current second-string at safety consists of little-used senior Rod Wilks and true freshman Brian Randolph. It hasn't helped that highly-regarded JUCO defensive back Byron Moore has had a disappointing first fall camp.

For his part, Dooley says he isn't worried about the depth issues at safety. “Those guys have really progressed," he said of Wilks and Randolph. "We wouldn’t bat an eye putting them in."

But it's easy to say that now, tougher if it actually comes to having Wilks or Randolph try to contain the likes of Alshon Jeffery or Orson Charles. And Dooley isn't hiding from the pain of losing Jackson; asked to assess his secondary in the wake of his dismissal, Dooley said "Well, we’re not as good."

And even if Martin was a true freshman, when all is said and done, we think you could say the same about him.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:42 pm
 

SEC RapidReport Roundup, 8/29: QB starters named

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the weekend's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.

LSU: Not that it took anyone by surprise, but Les Miles officially named senior Jarrett Lee the starter for Saturday's season opener against Oregon. For his part, Ducks head coach Chip Kelly doesn't expect the Tigers to be any less formidable for Lee getting the nod. (Per our Oregon RapidReporter Chris Hansen, Kelly also called LSU "“the most talented team we play all season.”)

Interestingly, Miles said he suspended the arrested Jordan Jefferson not as a disciplinary measure, but so Jefferson could tend to his legal troubles. "It's absolutely correct for him to be free at this point to tend to his personal business," Miles said. "If he were playing on this football team, it would be too much." Jefferson has changed his legal representation in the wake of his arrest.

ARKANSAS: In an announcement even less surprising than Lee's, Bobby Petrino finally named Tyler Wilson the Hogs' starting quarterback for their season debut against Missouri State, ending the non-suspense. Petrino said sophomore Brandon Mitchell will see playing time, possibly as early as the second quarter. (If Mitchell still sees time against opponents more dangerous than the Bears, that will be a development worth watching.)

Injured running back Knile Davis has promised he'll do everything he can to help his team from the sideline. As for replacing him, senior DeAnthony Curtis may get a shot after looking impressive following his move from cornerback.

ALABAMA: Still no sign of JUCO wideout Duron Carter at practice, with Nick Saban telling reporters he "has information" on Carter's status but that he'll believe his arrival "when he sees it." Saban also seemed to confirm that the Tide will begin the year with a rotation between quarterbacks Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron. "“I don't want either guy … to think that if they go in the game and make a mistake, that's when the other guy gets to go in," he said. "That's not how it's going to get managed."

In positive news, long snapper Carson Tinker is close to fully recovered from injuries suffered in the spring tornado that killed his girlfriend, Ashley Harrison.

GEORGIA: Mark Richt announced a surprising change to his defensive starting lineup, confirming that safety Bacarri Rambo (the team's leading tackler in 2010) would start the year second-string behind Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams. Even with corner Branden Smith "day-to-day" with a foot injury, Richt said former corner Commings would not switch positions to cover for Smith.

The Dawgs are banged-up elsewhere as well, with JUCO nose tackle Johnathan Jenkins struggling with a hamstring injury and tailback Richard Samuel not yet at full speed despite practicing Saturday.

SOUTH CAROLINA: He's still Steve Spurrier: the Ol' Ball Coach said that both Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw would play in the Gamecocks' opener against East Carolina, and added that neither has won the starting job yet. Giving the understudy Shaw meaningful playing time could be a dangerous move against the Pirates, whose pass-heavy attack could exploit a Gamecock secondary that struggled in 2010 and could be without starting corner Akeem Auguste; Auguste has a foot injury and missed practice at the end of last week.

Could CBSSports.com second-team All-American Devin Taylor see time on offense? Garcia told reporters the Gamecocks have been working on a package including the 6'7" defensive end.

ELSEWHERE: At Auburn, star sophomore running back Michael Dyer says he's 100 percent healthy after a nick earlier in fall camp. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the Tigers' depth will result in them playing more than their typical 18-to-20 players ... Florida running back Jeff Demps admitted his track obligations put him behind the curve when it came to learning the Gators' new offense ... Tennessee has moved corner Prentiss Waggner to safety to cover for the dismissal of Janzen Jackson, who will transfer to FCS McNeese State, that school announced.

Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 4:26 pm
 

If QBs sink LSU season, Miles should take blame

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

No, Les Miles is not responsible for Jordan Jefferson's arrest Friday on felony battery charges. No, we do not believe there is anything Miles could have done to prevent his senior starting quarterback from visiting Shady's bar in the wee hours of the morning of Aug. 18 and -- allegedly -- kicking a man in the head. No, it is not Miles's fault that Jefferson will not start the season opener against Oregon, and may very well never put on an LSU uniform again.

But if Jefferson's absence plays a direct role in the Tigers losing that game against Oregon? If the quarterback position he leaves behind causes LSU to fall short of the SEC championship that has eluded them since 2007? That you can blame Miles for. And you should.

We won't disagree with our colleague Dennis Dodd that LSU doesn't need Jefferson or any other "difference-maker" at quarterback to have a successful season. They don't even need one to win championships. The Tigers hoisted crystal footballs with Matt Mauck under center in 2003 and Matt Flynn in 2007, quarterbacks no one would deny were "serviceable" but that no one mistook for the first coming of Andrew Luck, either.

Here's where Dodd and I differ: he files backup-crowned-new-starter Jarrett Lee into the same "serviceable" vein as Mauck and Flynn. For his career, Lee has thrown just as many interceptions (18) as touchdowns, including tossing a nation-leading 16 in 2008. His career yards-per-attempt mark is a mediocre 6.6 and his career completion percentage an even-worse 53.5 percent, numbers that would have ranked him third-from-last and next-to-last in the SEC last season. If Lee is indeed serviceable, even that will be a huge step up from his career-to-date.

If he isn't? There's the fans' choice, JUCO transfer (and former Georgia Bulldog) Zach Mettenberger, who some thought could have a Cam Newton-like impact for the Tigers. But given that even the entirety of spring practice and the bulk of fall camp wasn't enough for Mettenberger to unseat Lee as second-string -- much less challenge Jefferson as the starter -- it seems unlikely Mettenberger is the savior LSU fans have been hoping for, either.

And the lesson of LSU's past two seasons is that if neither Lee nor Mettenberger are up to serviceability, the Tigers aren't winning an SEC championship. Yes, the LSU defense should be lights-out, but John Chavis's units were already 11th in the nation in scoring defense each of the past two years; they can't get much more lights-out than they already are. But thanks to an offense that finished dead last in the SEC in total offense in 2009 and 11th in 2010, LSU finished a combined five games out of first in the West anyway.

So why has Miles waited so long to find a solution to his team's quarterbacking dilemma? In 2008, Lee so thoroughly submarined the season with his interceptions (and the pick-sixes that still define his career, for most SEC fans) that Jefferson -- a lightly regarded recruit by LSU standards -- was named the starter in November. The only insurance Miles took out against Jefferson's failed development that offseason was the signing Chris Garrett, a previous Mississippi State commitment who disappointed LSU's coaches and has since left the team.

In 2009, Jefferson was actually mildly efficient as a quarterback, but still: worst in the SEC in total offense is worst in the SEC in total offense. Miles responded by signing four-star quarterback Zach Lee out of Texas. Too bad Lee had his sights set elsewhere; he signed a professional baseball contract and never so much as stood on a gameday sideline.

Miles may have finally solved his 2012 quarterback issues with the addition of Mettenberger to the 2011 class, but where this season is concerned, it may be too late. Whether by choice or simple failure, Lee's known mediocrity meant he was gambling the future of his quarterback position -- and arguably his team's title chances -- on the development of Jordan Jefferson and two risky recruits.

Miles is known for riding his luck, of course, and it's still to early to say for certain he's come up snake eyes this time. But we also won't be surprised if this one portion of mismanagement forces his team to walk away from the championship table once again.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 3:10 pm
 

Michigan to play Appalachian State in 2014

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

First, the facts: Michigan has agreed to play Appalachian State as the Wolverines' opening opponent of the 2014 season. Yes, this is the same Appalachian State that became the first-ever FCS team to beat a ranked opponent when they beat, yes, Michigan the opening week of the 2007 season.

You knew that. Which is why after the facts comes the opinion: this is the single dumbest scheduling decision we can remember, and the most craven one since Indiana sold out one of their own Big Ten home games to play at a "neutral site" full of Penn State fans.

Why is Michigan hosting the Mountaineers such a colossally horrid idea? Let us count the ways:

1. For weeks upon weeks leading up to the game, the talk surrounding Michigan won't be about the team's expectations for the new season or the Wolverines' star players or Michigan's Big Ten chances; it'll be about that time Michigan was ranked No. 5 in the country and lost to Appalachian State.

2. Viewers tuning in will no doubt hear much about the game they're watching, but they will hear just as much about the time the two teams played before and No. 5 Michigan lost to Appalachian State.

3. Even if Michigan wins, the story following the game will be "Michigan beats Appalachian State, not like that other time where they were No. 5 and lost to them." And if the game is close? "Michigan narrowly avoids losing to Appalachian State, like they already did that other time. Remember that?"

4. If lightning does indeed strike twice and the Wolverines lose, forget all the All-Americans and national titles and conference championships and tradition and everything; for any college football fan under the age of, say, 27, Michigan is now The Team That Loses to Appalachian State.

5. It's not possible for Michigan to earn "revenge" against the Mountaineers. The former is one of the most storied programs in college football history. The latter is an FCS program (a good one, mind) that, if they're lucky, might land in Conference USA the next few seasons. 30 Michigan wins can't equal the impact of one of Appalachian State's in the "series," much less the single one Michigan will likely earn in 2012. To suggest the Wolverines can "even the score" with Appalachian State is to also suggest the two programs are somehow equals, peers.

So why on earth would Michigan agree to a game that by its very existence -- "Michigan! Appalachian State! Round 2!" -- can't help but make that suggestion? Because people will watch. Because people will talk about Michigan. Because people already are talking about Michigan, and the game's just been scheduled. (You're reading this post right now, aren't you?)

Nevermind that the talk is about arguably the ugliest, lowest point in Michigan football history. Nevermind that viewers will be tuning in to watch Michigan play in the designated role of dumb overrated Goliath to the Mountainerrs' band of merry Davids. Nevermind that the rewards for winning are minimal, the cost of losing incalculable.

Nevermind all of that; it's free publicity, tons of it, and from what we can tell Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon truly believes there's no such thing as a bad version of it. He doesn't mind if you haul out all of those old 2007 tomatoes all over again, really--just so long as it's Michigan you're throwing them at, he's happy.

A postscript just to prove our point: doesn't this post feel incomplete without video of the Mountaineers' victory in the Big House? Yes, yes it does. So here you go:




Posted on: August 25, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Russell Shepard ineligible, to miss LSU opener

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

What must already be one of the longest weeks of Les Miles' coaching career is getting even longer.

The "compliance issue" which threatened the eligibility of star receiver Russell Shepard will result in his suspension for the opener against Oregon and "a number of games" more, LSU has announced. Thanks to Shepard having spoken with a teammate about that teammate's meeting with NCAA officials prior to the meeting, he has been ruled ineligible.

LSU stated they would apply to have Shepard reinstated and his eligibility restored, but there is no current timetable for a ruling on that application.

A former five-star recruit, Shepard has yet to fulfill his substantial pre-arrival hype in Baton Rouge, but the versatile athlete still finished 2010 LSU's third-leading receiver and fourth-leading rusher. (If there's any silver lining to Thursday's news for the Tigers, it's that the Ducks will be missing the suspended Cliff Harris; as Chris "Heismanpundit" Huston put it on Twitter, "Oregon will not have its best corner available to cover LSU's best suspended receiver.")

Still, if Shepard's suspension is followed up with further trouble for Jordan Jefferson, the Tiger offense -- never the team's strong suit -- will enter the Oregon match-up beyond shorthanded.

The full text of LSU's statement is below:
LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard has been declared ineligible by LSU for violation of an NCAA rule, it was announced Thursday.
LSU will seek reinstatement for Shepard but he is expected to miss a number of games until the reinstatement can be considered by the NCAA. He can continue to practice with the team.
Shepard has been found by the NCAA and LSU to be in violation of Bylaw 32.1.4. Shepard was determined to have discussed an NCAA inquiry with a teammate who was scheduled to meet with an NCAA representative and his actions were deemed to have violated NCAA protocol.
No timeline has been determined for the reinstatement process.


Posted on: August 25, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Police report: witness ID'd Jefferson as kicker

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's one thing for a television station to report that witnesses have idenitified Jordan Jefferson as the person who kicked a man in the head during a parking lot bar fight. It's another thing for the official police report to confirm that witnesses have told their officers the same thing.

But that's the case for Jefferson and LSU, as CBSSports.com RapidReporter Glenn Guilbeau reports. Per the Baton Rouge police report of the incident outside Shady's bar, a female witness has told BRPD she "knows for certain that she observed Jordan Jefferson kick in the face" a man identified as Andrew Lowery.  According to the witness, Lowery intervened when -- as he has also told police himself -- several LSU players pulled another victim from a black pickup truck and began to beat him.

According to the accounts of both Lowery and the witness, several of those players -- including Jefferson and reserve linebacker Josh Johns -- then attacked Lowery, leading to Jefferson's kick to Lowery's face. The witness also told police she could identify other LSU players present if offered photos to choose from.

Though BRPD has not yet confirmed it, it now seems obvious why officers confiscated 49 pairs of Jefferson's shoes in a Wednesday visit to his apartment; a DNA match between blood on those shoes and Lowery's (or another victim's) would, hypothetically, help confirm the accounts of both Lowery and the witness. According to a source sepaking to the Times-Picayune, police may also be attempting to match Jefferson's footprint to one found on a shirt of one victim.

At this point, it's still far too early to assume any guilt on Jefferson's (or any LSU player's) part. It's still too early to even assume an arrest is forthcoming, given that some witnesses' accounts have differed wildly from the ones offered by Lowery and the witness in question above.

This story from the Baton Rouge Advocate also won't help Lowery's credibility. It reports that -- in a remarkable twist -- his girlfriend has filed a "petition for protection from abuse" stating that earlier that same night, Lowery has tracked her to a bar, "cursed and yelled at her," and struck one of her friends.

It remains worth notingm however, that police spokesman Donald Stone has stated repeatedly he expects charges to be filed once the investigation is complete. What it's not too early to assume is that police have an eyewitness account that could put Jefferson in jeopardy of serious assault charges, and that they're making an effort to corroborate that account.

It's not an exaggeration to say LSU's season could hang in the balance of whether they find that corroboration or not.

Posted on: August 25, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:43 pm
 

PODCAST: 2011 BCS Busters

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With at least one non-AQ team (and sometimes two) breaking the BCS glass ceiling every season since 2006, it's no longer a question of "will we get a BCS buster?" as much as "which BCS buster will it be?" In this edition of the College Football Podcast, Adam Aizer and myself break down the candidates: Boise State or TCU in the Mountain West? UCF or Southern Miss in Conference USA? What about BYU? And though they don't qualify as a BCS buster, is it time to expect a "Return to (BCS) Glory" for Notre Dame?

We answer all of those questions and more, and one of us -- OK, it's me -- predicts a historic national title game appearance for one of the lucky teams listed above. Listen below, download the mp3 version, or open our popout player for easier browsing. You can also subscribe to the College Football Podcast on iTunes. Enjoy:


Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:24 am
Edited on: August 25, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Gun pointed at LSU players in June 5 altercation

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As it turns out, the now-infamous melee in the Shady's parking lot isn't the only fight LSU's players have been involved in this summer. But at least Les Miles can say this: this time, it's someone else facing criminal charges.

According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, the local district attorney will be pursuing charges against a pair of men involved in a June 5 altercation with Tiger defensive end Sam Montgomery and quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Though those are the only two players named in the report, other players were believed present and are expected to be witnesses in the case.

The police report from the incident states that Montgomery and a man named Robert Davis were fighting in the parking lot of a Baton Rouge apartment complex when Davis associate Marcus Adams pulled a gun and pointed it at Montgomery. When Mettenberger attempted to intervene, Adams pointed the gun at him as well. Per the DA, Adams and Davis will be facing the only charges filed as a result of the incident.

According to Montgomery's account, the fight began when Davis's and Adams's Jeep had circled the apartment complex several times, leading to an argument. Montgomery said Davis then got out of the vehicle to confront him. After both Montgomery and Mettenberger had pleaded with Adams not to fire the gun, Davis and Adams got back into the Jeep and allegedly fired multiple shots as they drove away.

Police arrested the pair after responding to another apartment where Adams reportedly fired the gun again. Montgomery and Mettenberger were brought to the scene to identify Davis and Adams, who were booked on charges of simple battery, aggravated assault with a firearm, illegal use of a weapon and carrying a firearm on school property.

Adams told the Advocate that the incident began when a football player he knows only as "Ego" approached the Jeep "in a belligerent fashion, cursing, and demanding to know why they were there." Ego Ferguson is a freshman defensive tackle with LSU, but is not named in the police report. Adams admitted to pulling the gun but denied he fired it as the Jeep left.

So what does all this mean for LSU's football team? Not much--with no charges filed against any Tiger player and police seeming to agree that Davis and Adams were the aggressors, Miles can't be considering any serious punishment for his players' involvement.

But given that the fight occurred in a parking lot at 2:30 a.m., it won't do much for the Tigers' now  very healthy reputation for staying out late enough to let trouble find them, even when they're not necessarily looking for it. While Miles (like any and every college football fan) is no doubt grateful nothing more serious happened during the incident, he'll also no doubt have yet another message to deliver about the wrong and right places to be in the wee hours of the morning.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com