Tag:Chip Patterson
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Graham expects Pitt to run 80+ plays a game

Posted by Chip Patterson

Picked in the top two of the Big East by most preseason polls, it is fair to say there are some high expectations of Todd Graham's first year as the Pittsburgh head coach. The school has made the former Tulsa coach the new face of the football program, even using his "high-octane" theme to market the football team at http://www.highoctanefootball.com.

So what exactly does Graham expect from his "high-octane" football?

"Our goal is to run 81 or 82 plays per game, and I believe that as long as we protect the ball, we're going to be able to do that," Graham said as the Panthers opened camp on Monday.

In 2010, West Virginia led the Big East averaging 69.8 plays per game and the Panthers were fifth averaging just under 64. If the new no-huddle attack does produce 81 or 82 plays per game, it would rank them among the top offenses in the nation - where Graham's Tulsa team was a year ago.

There is no reason to think that the Panthers can't achieve their goal with the personnel on the field. Junior quarterback Tino Sunseri, son of Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri, is a fast learner and has reportedly improved with the move to a shotgun formation. All-conference receiver Jon Baldwin may be gone, but Mike Shanahan (43 catches, 589 yards in 2010) and 6-foot-4 sophomore Devin Street will serve as the perfect compliment to the speedy return man Cameron Saddler - who will likely takeover the "Z receiver" position in the spread.

Ray Graham returns after a breakout 2010 that earned him 3rd Team All-Big East honors while sharing the load with Dion Lewis. The high play count will mean that some of the other running backs will need to step up, but there is no doubting Graham's playmaking ability on the field.

The Big East is filled with multiple looks on offense and defense, with no clear cut trend across the league. Seeing how the Panthers "high-octane" system matches up against different defenses will be just one of the story lines to keep an eye on in the upcoming Big East season.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 2:29 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Report: UNC boosters considering lawsuit

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE: Robbi Pickeral, who authored the initial News and Observer report, says that UNC has received the information request from the lawyers of the football boosters.  School still has no official comment. 


Things got even crazier on Monday in the ongoing drama that has become the North Carolina football program. According to a local report, a group of North Carolina football boosters who agreed to help fund a recent Kenan Stadium expansion are exploring possible legal action against chancellor Holden Thorp.

The identities of the boosters involved has not been made public, but one of the attorneys representing the group told the Raleigh News and Observer he plans to file a public information request asking for all correspondence between the Chancellor and other school officials.

Don Brown, of Charlotte, N.C., is one of five lawyers (all UNC graduates) that have taken the case pro bono. For the first time in the stadium's 84 year history, both end zones are now bowled in thanks to the construction of the "Carolina Student-Athlete Center for Excellence." The new service building for the athletic department also brought 2,980 new seats, a club level, and suites that can be priced at $50,000 per year. There have been reports that donors have asked for refunds since Butch Davis' dismissal, which were denied.

"I can tell you, everybody that we represent is furious about the timing of Butch Davis' firing," Brown told the News and Observer in a phone interview. "They feel like their investment was based on Butch Davis being the head coach…and the public reassurances over the past year that he would remain the coach…They want answers."

A UNC spokesman said that as of 11:30 a.m. on Monday the school had received no FOIA request, and there is no official comment on the issue.

The group of enraged boosters is said to be of different contribution levels, and it is not clear exactly what they hope to gain from pursuing legal action. Brown emphasized in his interview with the News and Observer that they are only "seeking information" right now. One recent precedent was Connecticut booster Robert Burtonwho asked for his $3 million back from the school and requested to have his name taken off the Burton Family Football Complex. After causing quite a public stir, Burton and the school were eventually back on good terms and no drastic action was taken. The legalities of donations (particularly ones earmarked for a project like the Blue Zone) could get particularly hairy and difficult to reclaim in a court of law. It could be argued that this is a case of upset boosters, who simply do not know another way to fire back at an administration which they feel has wronged them.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 12:22 pm
 

Seen/Heard at Camp: N.C. State

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 N.C. State.

- One of the most noteworthy changes from 2010 to 2011 for the Wolfpack is the absence of Russell Wilson and development of his successor, junior quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon was a highly-touted prospect out of Virginia, and now will have a chance to live up to expectations as the new face of the offense. Head coach Tom O'Brien endorsed Glennon from the beginning of spring practice, and recently spoke about his development as they shape the offense around their new starter.

"The offense goes in in increments, and every day for about 10 days there's something new that goes in," O'Brien said. "Certainly for [Glennon], some of it is repetition from the last three years because there's the base of the offense that's going to be there regardless of who's the quarterback, the right guard."[Rapid Reports]

- Glennon's comfort with the system will be impacted greatly by the development of his wide receivers. Team captain and preseason All-ACC selection George Bryan is the most consistent receiver at tight end, but the Wolfpack will be missing three of their top four ball catchers from 2010. Senior wide receivers TJ Graham and Jay Smith each saw action last year, and will be counted on to lead the new group. According to offensive coordinator Dana Bible, the veterans have entered camp ready to go.

"We're a work in progress, but (the returnees) must have had a really good summer as far as training because they bring a lot of speed with them," Bible observed. "And they're anxious and ready to go. You're going to see it as I'm going to see it, as it develops."[Rapid Reports]

- Last season, the defense was quarterbacked by All-ACC linebacker Nate Irving, now with the Denver Broncos. Alongside Audie Cole and Terrell Manning, pressure from the starting linebackers helped the Wolfpack post 42 sacks in 2010 - good for second in the conference. This year Cole has moved into Irving's middle linebacker slot, and defensive coordinator Mike Archer is looking for some depth behind the two returnees.

"The biggest question there is going to be the (strong side). (Sophomore) D.J. (Green) has not played there. He's learning, but we've got to find a backup too," said Archer. "I don't know who the backup is. Based on three days of practice, I don't know if we have one."

Archer also explained that this year's unit will rely heavily on the defensive line to pressure the quarterback. With the linebackers helping out the secondary with some of the coverage responsibility.

"Don't get me wrong, we want to pressure and attack people. But there are going to be times, on third down in particular, where we want to get pressure with four downs, and be able to play max coverage and play five under, two deep. We've got to get better rushing with four, no matter who those guys are." [Rapid Reports]

For daily updates from N.C. State's training camp, be sure to follow CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Mike Potter. Also, bookmark the ACC Blog for news and analysis from across the conference.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 10:20 am
 

Marrone unhappy with Syracuse practice

Posted by Chip Patterson

Syracuse's 2010 campaign delivered the first bowl victory for an Orange team in nearly a decade. With 13 starters returning for 2011, the media picked Syracuse to finish fourth in the conference in the preseason poll. This should be a time of excitement and optimism for Orange football, but head coach Doug Marrone has seemed displeased with their work three practices in to fall camp. Nolan Weidner, of The Post-Standard observed that the third year head coach "wasn't particularly upbeat" when evaluating his team's performance on Sunday.

"As of right now, no one's really separated themselves," Marrone explained. "We expect a lot of them, we hold them to a high standard. We have high expectations for them this year, it's all about the little things."

Some of those "little things" add up to a general feeling of practice productivity. When Marrone felt like his squad wasn't getting that kind of "quality practice" he was looking for, he cut Sunday's session short. In his post-practice comments with the media (The Post-Standard has a video here), Marrone seemed to place some of the blame for sub-par practice on the youth of his team. While the Orange do bring back several upperclassmen, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, only five of the top 12 tacklers are back on defense. With big question holes to fill at linebacker and cornerback, that competition Marrone is looking for will be key to re-establish a defense that only gave up 19.3 points per game in 2010.

The onus on that defensive side will start on the front line, led by junior all-conference end Chandler Jones and senior Mikhail Marinovich. With a Sept. 17 trip to face USC in the Coliseum, there will not be much of a learning curve once the season starts. As an Orange alum himself, Marrone takes great pride in his team's work ethic. I would expect that this week's practices may carry a different tone as the season inches closer.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 6:02 pm
 

Syracuse RB Gulley out 7-10 days, Sales suspended

Posted by Chip Patterson

At Big East Media Day, Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone had no official comment on the status of Prince-Tyson Gulley or Marcus Sales. The former suffered multiple stab wounds after an on-campus brawl broke out at a party, the latter faces several felony drug charges after a traffic stop last Friday night.

When meeting with the media an hour before the Orange kicked off their first practice of the 2011 season, Marrone announced that Sales has been suspended indefinitely and Gulley will miss 7-10 days of practice.

Gulley reported to camp on time and will not face any disciplinary actions, and a suspect has been arraigned in Syracuse City Court. Gulley will take a more active role in the Syracuse offense this season, after primarily serving as a return man in 2010. With Antwon Bailey looking to fill in for the departed Delone Carter, Gulley will be counted on as the second-string back to share the load.

Sales' potential absence could be a big blow to the Orange passing game. Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw 19 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions last season, and was counting on having his two senior receivers (Sales and Van Chew) in the lineup.

Marrone also announced that backup quarterback Jonny Miller has been suspended, after being arrested on Wednesday in connection to an assault and robbery incident in Boulder, Colo. along with Colorado offensive lineman Bryce Givens.

Posted on: August 5, 2011 1:27 pm
 

DT Brandon Willis transferring from UNC, again

Posted by Chip Patterson

After a turbulent offseason that ended with the dismissal of head coach Butch Davis, North Carolina opened their fall training camp on Friday in Chapel Hill. When it came time for the players to report Friday morning for team photos, there were a few faces from the media guide missing.

The most notable name was defensive tackle Brandon Willis. Willis, a redshirt freshman, signed his Letter of Intent in February 2010 before requesting a transfer to UCLA due to family issues in August. Then in March 2011, Willis was granted a release from his UCLA scholarship so he could return to the Tar Heels. On Friday, the school announced that the defensive tackle has decided to transfer again.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive lineman was considered one of the top recruits in North Carolina's 2010 class, but his inability to stay in one place has not allowed him to showcase his talents on the field. No reason was given this departure, and it is unknown where Willis might be headed next.

Interim head coach Everett Withers also announced the departure of cornerback Mywan Jackson. Jackson's exit is unrelated to football, as it appears he will be taking some time away from school as well.

"Mywan is working through some personal issues right now with his family and he felt it was in the best interest to stay in Florida until he decides where to continue his education," said Withers. "He indicated he would like to attend a school closer to his home and we support his decision. I wish him nothing but the best."

Jackson started five games in 2010, totaling 20 tackles on the season. He, along with several other members of the secondary, saw early action while North Carolina sat Charles Brown, Kendric Burney, and Deunta Williams in the midst of the NCAA investigation.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 3:56 pm
 

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

The first official preseason poll was released on Thursday, with USA Today announcing the results of the Coaches Poll. Much to the dismay of Big East football fans, there was not a single representative from the conference in the initial poll. It should not come as a complete shock, as not a single Big East team finished ranked in 2010's final coaches poll either. West Virginia was the only vote-getting team down the stretch of last season, but after a 23-7 loss to N.C. State in the Champ Sports Bowl the Mountaineers fell from the rankings.

With only three teams receiving any Top 25 votes from the coaches, we will look to the "Other Receiving Votes" to find our Big East contenders.  (No. 25 Penn State received 161 points in the poll)

West Virginia, 149 points, No. 27 - The Mountaineers fall just short of the Top 25 after being named the preseason favorite to win the Big East. Dana Holgorsen is looking forward to a challenging non-conference schedule that will include playing LSU and facing Maryland in College Park. In order to be taken seriously on a national level, West Virginia needs to win one of those September matchups. Unless something drastic changes, being first in the Big East standings won't be enough to get you invited to the party.

South Florida, 9 points, No. 38 - Skip Holtz's squad enters the season predicted to be one of the top three teams in the conference. Despite five straight 8+ win seasons, the Bulls haven't finished higher than third in the conference since joining the Big East. Many believe that this season could be the year USF breaks through. They finished the 2010 season with emotional wins over Miami and Clemson, creating what Holtz is calling a "snowball effect" of excitement around the football program. They'll have a chance to show that newfound excitement early, kicking off the season against No. 18 Notre Dame in South Bend.

Pittsburgh, 3 points, No. 47 - The Panthers return eight starters from the eighth-best defense in 2010, and add a new high-octane offensive scheme brought by new head coach Todd Graham. It is not shocking to see Pittsburgh failing to collect Top 25 votes, but they seem to have an advantage when compared to many of the other teams around them. The Panthers will get a chance to prove themselves against Iowa, Notre Dame, and Utah. If they have a squad that deserves to be in the rankings, we will know by the middle of October.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: ACC

Posted by Chip Patterson

The first official preseason poll was released on Thursday, with USA Today announcing the results of the Coaches Poll. The ACC, which has spent much of the offseason discussing ways to increase their national prominence, finds themselves with only two teams ranked in the top 25.

The teams come as no surprise, as the ACC preseason favorite Florida State starts the season ranked No. 5, while Virginia Tech-picked by the media to win the Coastal Division - is ranked No. 13.

#5 Florida State - Seeing the Seminoles in the top 5 seems appropriate. They had a strong finish to the 2010 season, falling 44-33 to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game then defeating South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl, and return 16 offensive and defensive starters. One of the new starters, junior quarterback EJ Manuel, was already selected to the preseason All-ACC team. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has embraced the expectations, and feels certain that his team is prepared to stay focus regardless of hype. Manuel himself claims that he doesn't even read articles and blogs about the team.

But as far as national dominance goes, the Seminoles' campaign hits a fork in the road on Sept. 17 when the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners visit Tallahassee for a spotlight showdown that will likely make or break either team's national title hopes. A loss puts them in the position of battling for an Orange Bowl berth, a win makes a trip to New Orleans seem like a legitimate possibility for Florida State fans.

#13 Virginia Tech - One year ago, the Hokies were ranked sixth in this same preseason poll. Then an exhausting 33-30 Labor Day loss to Boise State was piggy-backed by an upset loss to James Madison at home. Suddenly, the top-10 Virginia Tech team with title hopes was unranked and looking for answers. The season had changed tone in only a five-day period. But the Hokies bounced back winning 11 straight games and an ACC Championship before losing to Stanford in the Orange Bowl.

Frank Beamer returns 12 starters from last year's squad, and a more than favorable schedule makes an eighth straight 10+ win season seem like a possibility. New starting quarterback Logan Thomas has drawn praise for his development and athletic ability, but the Hokies still need to answer some questions offensively. Being ranked just behind South Carolina and ahead of Arkansas seems a little high for this unproven squad, but I would not have put them below No. 16 Ohio State or No. 17 Michigan State. Considering the talent returning and the coaching staff in place, the ranking seems not only appropriate - but a good guess at where they could end up at the end of the season.

Other Receiving Votes
No. 25 Penn State finished with 161 points in the poll, here is a breakdown of how the other vote-getting teams fared.

Miami, 49 points, No. 29 - The Hurricanes have been picked by the media to finish second in the Coastal Division behind the Hokies. With a new head coach and still no decision on a starting quarterback, it is easy to see why coaches are reserving their endorsements of "The U."

North Carolina, 14 points, No. 36 - Anytime you dismiss a head coach just eight days before players report for training camp, it is going to shake up confidence in the upcoming season. The Tar Heels have one of the best defensive lines in the ACC, but big question marks in the secondary and unproven sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner make another "7 or 8 win/just outside the Top 25"-type season seem likely in Chapel Hill.

Clemson, 7 points, No. 40 - The Tigers pulled in a Top-10 recruiting class this offseason, with many of the stars expected to see playing time almost immediately. New offensive coordinator is promising upwards of 70-80 plays a game for the Tigers' offense, which could make for either a dominating or painfully reckless experience for sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd.

North Carolina State, 4 points, No. 44 - For the first time since his arrival, Tom O'Brien has recruited every player on the N.C. State two-deep depth chart. He feels confident that last season's 9-win performance was a sign of the program turning a corner. A favorable schedule makes a return to the postseason seem likely for the Wolfpack, but letting all-conference quarterback Russell Wilson walk to the Badgers will not get you preseason votes from most coaches.

Georgia Tech, 1 point, No. 49 - Head coach Paul Johnson is not on the USA TODAY Board of Coaches, so I'm not sure who gave the Yellow Jackets the sole No. 25 vote. Georgia Tech lost 5 of their last 6 games in 2010, only defeating Duke 30-20. They've got talent, but not enough to deserve national ranking after last season's collapse.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com