Posted on: September 6, 2011 5:51 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Defensive tackle Brandon Willis has landed has landed at UCLA. Again.
After initially committing to Tennessee as a senior in high school (twice), Willis signed a letter of intent with North Carolina after Lane Kiffin's staff left for USC. After six months in Chapel Hill, he then packed up his bags and headed west to UCLA in March. He lasted all of seven months in Westwood before deciding to transfer back to the Tar Heels in March. In August, he announced he was leaving UNC once again.
Now he's back with the Bruins and enrolled in classes, the school has announced. He will begin practicing with the team, which badly needs healthy defensive linemen, Tuesday afternoon but will not be eligible to play in a game. The school has begun the NCAA waiver process in order to get him eligible to play this season but he will only be able to practice until it is completed.
So it looks like Willis is back where he began (transferring to), just with a few more frequent flier miles in his account. Heck, Willis could be the first person to be on a Pac-10, Pac-12 and ACC team before finally playing a down in the Pac-16.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 12:50 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst sit down to review the first week fo the 2011 college football season. They break down the porous defenses at Auburn and TCU, Oregon's inability to run, Lane Kiffin's unmatched arrogance, how Boise State measures up to the SEC and much more. Maryland's offense looked good but is the defense good enough to win the ACC Atlantic? What happened to Notre Dame? Are they buying South Florida? Baylor?
Listen below, download the mp3, or use our popout player to keep browsing. For more from the College Football podcast, subscribe on iTunes or click here.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: September 4, 2011 2:00 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
1. It was a rough week for the Pac-12.
The non-conference slate is usually something the Pac-12 takes pride in but Larry Scott would certainly like to forget week one of the season on the field and concentrate on expansion off of it. Record-wise, the conference did ok at 8-4. Look deeper however, and you'll see some serious flaws. Washington allowed their first ever FCS opponent to throw for 473 yards and three touchdowns on them before Desmond Trufant made a last minute interception. USC, too, held on thanks to a last minute pick and Oregon State lost to an average FCS team in Sacramento State. Rick Neuheisel's seat got warmer with a loss to Houston and, in the week's flagship game, Oregon got pushed around by an LSU team dealing multiple off the field issues. Yes other conferences struggled this weekend, and yes the Pac-12 can rebuild their reputation, but it was just not a great start to the 2011 season out West.
2. Stanford is the conference torch-bearer for now.
There's no question it will be extremely tough for Oregon to get back into the national title race given the back-to-back losses to SEC teams and the way they were manhandled in the opener. Is it impossible for them to end up in New Orleans? No, but it will be a long climb back to the top five to be in that position again. That leaves Stanford as the most likely Pac-12 representative that can make a run. They certainly have the quarterback as Andrew Luck spread the ball around to several new targets as the Cardinal rolled San Jose State 57-3. Their schedule looks even easier now too as they host Oregon and wrap up with an even more suspect Notre Dame team. They have the best player in the country and now it's their turn to lead the charge until the Ducks roll into Palo Alto for the head-to-head showdown to take it back from them.
3. Robert Woods is a special player.
After being limited throughout parts of spring practice and fall camp, it's clear that the Freshman All-American is a key cog in the USC offense. Woods caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns and simply was the Trojans' offense against Minnesota. His quarterback was pretty sharp too, as Matt Barkley completed a school-record 34 passes despite an average-at-best offensive line in front of him. There were plenty of quick passes to Woods Saturday afternoon, but his burst and ability to break tackles are a good reason why he's wearing former great Steve Smith's number. The offense trailed off in the second half but if there's one bright spot for Lane Kiffin watching the film, it's that Woods is a star.
4. Where does Oregon State go from here?
Mike Riley didn't really know what kind of team he had this year and after week one, he really might not know. The Beavers played more freshmen in a game than they have in the last 16 years and even then, it's hard to figure out how they dropped their home opener to an FCS school that was 6-5 last season. It does appear that the team has found a replacement for Jacquizz Rodgers after true freshman Malcolm Agnew rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Katz was not sharp at all, completing 50 percent of his passes with an interception before being replaced at halftime. With so many question marks, Riley and company better figure some things out quickly as they'll travel to a very impressive Wisconsin team next week.
5. Why is Oregon throwing the ball so much?
Yes LSU's defense was good and yes, it was certainly swarming anytime an Oregon player touched the ball. That still doesn't explain why the Ducks couldn't run the ball Saturday night and Chip Kelly had Darron Thomas throw it an eye-popping 54 times. That was the most attempts by a quarterback on the team in over seven years. Seven. It's just not like Kelly's team to purposefully try to establish the run early and often either. Once they got behind you can understand them going to the air but rarely has the run-pass split been like it has been against LSU (and feel free to go back to last year against Auburn too). LaMichael James was held under 60 yards on the ground for his second straight game and it appeared he never could find daylight. Whether that's because he's a half-step slower or because the rebuilt offensive line couldn't create a hole is something the coaching staff will have to figure out. Bottom line, it has to be concerning to see Thomas drop back to throw as much as he did.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Bryan Fischer, Chip Kelly, Darron Thomas, Desmond Trufant, Houston, Jacquizz Rodgers, LaMichael James, Lane Kiffin, Larry Scott, LSU, Malcolm Agnew, Matt Barkley, Mike Riley, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Woods, Ryan Katz, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Stanford, Steve Smith, UCLA, USC, Washington, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 3, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 7:55 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
USC WON. Barely. The Trojans held on to dear life after getting shut down on offense in the second half but still managed to beat Minnesota for the second straight year, 19-17 at the Coliseum. USC looked like they were going to roll early on after taking a 19-3 lead into the locker room but the offense sputtered and the defense was just average late. It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win.
WHY USC WON: Robert Woods and Matt Barkley. Head coach Lane Kiffin said after the game that the offense had only two good players right now and that was in reference to the dynamic duo that hooked up early and often at the Coliseum. Woods caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards, including three touchdowns in the first half. Barkley also set a USC-record with 34 completions for 304 yards.
WHEN USC WON: This game felt like the Trojans were going to win going away based on the first half but new Gophers head coach Jerry Kill made some terrific halftime adjustments to give his team a shot to win it at the end. Thanks to two missed two point conversions early in the game, quarterback Max Shortell had the ball in his hands but threw an interception to USC cornerback Torin Harris to seal the Trojan victory in the final minute.
WHAT USC WON: A game, that's about it. It certainly wasn't a good one but if there's one take away for the coaching staff, it's that they shored up their two-minute defense a little. After bending and breaking at the end of games in 2010, it appears the 2011 edition is a bit better equipped to handle a pressure situation. The defensive line was active but trailed off and managed to record only two sacks on the day. The victory over Minnesota won't inspire much confidence as USC takes on Utah next week but getting a key stop in the 4th quarter is somewhat encouraging.
WHAT MINNESOTA LOST: Jerry Kill's debut. Though his first game as coach ended with a loss, there was a lot of good signs that he'll eventually right the ship. He lost a first-time starter at quarterback in MarQueis Gray to cramps in the 3rd quarter and brought in a true freshman in Shortell, who almost pulled off an upset. The defense adjusted well and, despite allowing a record-setting day to Woods and Barkley, did a good job of holding USC's offense to just 100 yards rushing. It might take some time but Minnesota fans have to be excited about how hard Kill's team competed.
THAT WAS CRAZY: The Trojans attempted two, two-point conversions out of the swinging-gate formation and didn't come close either time. When the team finally lined up to kick an extra point, the Coliseum crowd gave a loud Bronx-cheer for Kiffin.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:17 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
While Thursday and Friday night serve as delicious appetizers for the new college football season, one that feels like it took forever to get here, the big games start on Saturday. Since it's been a while since you planted your behind on a couch on a Saturday morning and stayed there all day, you're probably going to need some help navigating through the day.
So lucky for you, the Eye On College Football crew has brought the Saturday Meal Plan back. It's your weekly menu of which games should be on your plate and where you can find them.
#18 Ohio State vs. Akron - ESPN, 12pm ET
So many questions for Ohio State on Saturday. Will the Luke Fickell-era offense look any different? Who's going to shine between QBs Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller? How much will the team miss its eight suspended players? Does Akron stand a chance anyway? - Adam Jacobi
#23 Auburn vs. Utah State - ESPN2, 12pm ET
Despite some close calls, Auburn hasn't lost to a school outside the current BCS conferences since Southern Miss upset the Tigers back in 1991. (USM's quarterback that day was a guy named Brett Favre, who would later become famous for inventing the cell phone camera.) So it's going to take a very good team by WAC standards to break that streak, and the Aggies -- the WAC's sixth-place finisher a year ago, now without star quarterback Diondre Borel -- very likely aren't that team. Most of the drama on the Auburn sidelines should concern which of their FBS-high 16 new starters look ready for their close-up, most notably new quarterback Barrett Trotter. But if Trotter and the other Tiger cubs come out nervous -- particularly the true sophomore defensive tackle pairing of Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter, who could have their hands full with USU's veteran line -- things could stay competitive for longer than Gene Chizik would like. - Jerry Hinnen
Boston College vs. Northwestern - ESPNU, 12pm ET
You never like to start the season with injury concerns, and that this case for the star player on both these rosters. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa was listed as "questionable" for Saturday's opener as he continues to recover from an achilles injury that ended his 2010 campaign, but popular belief seems to be that he will see the field. Boston College running back Montel Harris underwent his second arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss the game. Making matters even more difficult for the Eagles was an ankle sprain to talented backup Andre Williams. Williams will start and appears ready to go, but there will be more pressure on quarterback Chase Rettig to establish a passing attack against the Northwestern defense. Don't expect Persa to get any easy looks from the Boston College defense, led by All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly. - Chip Patterson
#16 Notre Dame vs. South Florida - NBC, 3:30pm ET
Year Two of the Brian Kelly Era in South Bend gets under way in a game against a former Notre Dame coach, and the son of the man who last brought a national championship to the school, Skip Holtz. There's a lot to look at in this game for both teams. Namely, will Notre Dame finally start to live up to the expectations placed on it every season, and which B.J. Daniels is going to show up for South Florida? - Tom Fornelli
#25 USC vs. Minnesota - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET
Perhaps it is saying something about how quiet Lane Kiffin has been at USC that one of the more notable things about this game is actually about the opposing coach. The Jerry Kill era begins in earnest on the road and he brings a Minnesota team that barely resembles the one that lost to the Trojans a year ago. The Gophers will compete with dual-threat MarQueis Gray at quarterback and a solid linebacking corps but it will be a tough task to pull of the upset against the firepower of the USC offense. Matt Barkley and Robert Woods are a fun pair to watch while Trojan fans will be nervous to see if the defense looks any better than it did last year. - Bryan Fischer
Michigan vs. Western Michigan - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 pm ET
It's a new era for Michigan -- again -- and Brady Hoke's charges are going to face a stiff challenge from MAC stalwarts Western Michigan. Yes, seriously. The Wolverines probably won't be suffering for points with Denard Robinson leading the new offense, but the Broncos are more than capable of hanging around in this one, as standout QB Alex Carder should find plenty of opportunities to advance the ball through the air. Keep an eye on this one for some possible afternoon fireworks. - AJ
Ole Miss vs. BYU - ESPN, 4:45pm ET
Life in the SEC West isn't easy for anybody, but if Ole Miss is going to get to six wins and back to a bowl game this year, then this is one of those games the Rebels need to win. Though it's not like BYU is just going to hand the game to them, as the Cougars would like to get their new life as an independent off on the right foot, and what better way to do that than by getting a win against the SEC? - TF
#22 Florida vs. FAU - ESPNU, 7pm ET
The first sign that not everything was well in Gatorland in 2010 was Florida's season opener vs. Miami (Ohio), when Urban Meyer's team gained all of 25 yards through three quarters and wheezed their way to a 34-12 victory. Unfortunately for Meyer, the RedHawks wound up one of the nation's most surprising teams. But just as fortunately for Will Muschamp, his debut as Gator head coach shouldn't be nearly so stressful--FAU has been pegged for the bottom rungs of the Sun Belt, and will be breaking in a new quarterback and six new defensive starters in the Swamp. Most Gator fans should wind up watching quarterback John Brantley rather than the scoreboard, as a steady, solid outing by the much-maligned senior would boost his and his team's confidence considerably. - JH
#1 Oklahoma vs. Tulsa - FX, 8pm ET
The Sooners are the preseason favorite of many people throughout the country, and Saturday night will be their first chance to show people why. This game had a lot more upset potential before the arrest and suspension of Tulsa wide receiver Damaris Johnson, but the possibility that it's a lot closer than most would expect is still there. - TF
#4 LSU vs. #3 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET
It's not just the game of this year's opening week; it would be the game of every year's opening week. And that's just looking at the rankings of the two teams--add in the Will Lyles drama at both schools, the Tigers' August bar brawl and subsequent Jordan Jefferson suspension, Cliff Harris' and Russell Shepard's respective troubles, Chip Kelly's history of nonconference woes, Jarrett Lee's potential redemption, LaMichael James kicking off his Heisman campaign, the bevy of other All-American candidates on both rosters, and the one-and-only Les Miles, and this game is as intriguing as intriguing gets. For the Ducks, victory may come down to their revamped offensive front giving Darron Thomas enough space to get Kelly's option-game going. Tiger end Sam Montgomery, though, is the kind of elite defensive lineman the Ducks have struggled with even with veteran lines. For LSU, if Lee can avoid turnovers, the Tigers' advantage on both lines-of-scrimmage should eventually prove decisive. But given the Ducks' ball-hawking ways, that's much easier said than done. The one thing we can say for certain: we'll be watching. - JH
#19 Georgia vs. #5 Boise State - ESPN, 8pm ET
Another year, another high profile season opener for the Broncos. Heisman candidate Kellen Moore will lead Boise State into a not-so-neutral Georgia Dome to face the Bulldogs in the annual Chick fil-A Kickoff. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who said this week he hopes to emulate Moore's success, will be trying to make his own statement after an impressive freshman season in 2010. The Georgia-heavy crowd in Atlanta will not be the only uphill battle for the Broncos. Boise State is undersized defensively in comparison to the Bulldogs offensive line, and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is sure to use the 3-4 scheme to put some added pressure on Moore. However, Moore does take care of the ball (74-9 TD:Int ratio last two seasons) and Georgia will be counting on the unproven true freshman Isaiah Crowell to anchor the running game. Get the "LAST" button ready, because you'll want to see both Top 25 showdowns in the primetime slot. - CP
LATE NIGHT SNACK
Hawaii vs. Colorado - ESPN2, 10:15pm ET
This Pac-12 life isn't too bad, is it, Colorado? Your very first game and you get a trip to Hawaii to show for it. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, they still have to face a Hawaii offense featuring dark horse Heisman candidate Bryant Moniz that puts up points in bunches. This game should be an entertaining way to end your Saturday. - TF
Tags: Aaron Murray, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Akron, Alex Carder, Andre Williams, Auburn, B.J. Daniels, Barrett Trotter, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Boston College, Brady Hoke, Braxton Miller, Brett Favre, Brian Kelly, Bryan Fischer, Bryant Moniz, BYU, C-USA, Chase Rettig, Chip Kelly, Chip Patterson, Cliff Harris, Colorado, Conference USA, Damaris Johnson, Dan Persa, Darron Thomas, Denard Robinson, Diondre Borel, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Hawaii, Isaiah Crowell, Jarrett Lee, Jeffrey Whitaker, Jerry Hinnen, Jerry Kill, Joe Bauserman, John Brantley, Jordan Jefferson, Kellen Moore, Kenneth Carter, LaMichael James, Lane Kiffin, Les Miles, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Kuechly, MAC, MarQueis Gray, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Minnesota, Montel Harris, Mountain West, MWC, Non-BCS, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Robert Woods, Russell Shepard, Sam Montgomery, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, Skip Holtz, South Florida, Southern Miss, Sun Belt, Todd Grantham, Tom Fornelli, Tulsa, Urban Meyer, USC, Utah State, WAC, Western Michigan, Will Lyles, Will Muschamp
Posted on: September 1, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:25 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
USC defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza resigned from his position Thursday due to his involvement with a NCAA recruiting probe, two sources told CBSSports.com.
Garza cited personal reasons unrelated to the school as the reason for his departure in a statement but sources said his resignation was a direct result of his involvement with former scout Will Lyles and a related NCAA probe into possible recruiting violations.
Lyles interviewed with NCAA investigators for several hours with his lawyers present on Tuesday. During the interview, Lyles revealed that he had a "relationship" with Garza prior to becoming an assistant at Tennessee according to sources. USC officials were notified on Wednesday of the connection and moved swiftly to work out Garza's departure.
NCAA enforcement staff is currently investigating Lyles' scouting service connections to several programs, including Oregon and LSU. A source said it was not related to Tennessee's NCAA case that was recently completed.
Garza, a former safety at Texas, followed head coach Lane Kiffin from Tennessee to USC in 2010 and was entering his second season with the Trojans before abruptly resigning. USC is currently on NCAA probation stemming from the school's major infractions case involving former running back Reggie Bush.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 3:32 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Nearly 48 hours before their season opener, USC will shockingly take the field without a key staff member.
Trojans' secondary coach Willie Mack Garza resigned Thursday afternoon effective immediately citing personal reasons, according to a school statement.
"I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC," Garza said. "I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address. I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won't be with them in what I know will be a very successful season."
Garza was entering his second year with the program and followed head coach Lane Kiffin to Los Angeles from Tennessee. The 42-year-old assistant also had coaching stops at Western Michigan, TCU, Tarleton State and North Dakota State before connecting with Kiffin and the Volunteers in 2009. Several USC beat writers confirmed that he was not at practice on Wednesday and that players were informed via text message Thursday morning.
Graduate assistant and former Trojan and NFL defensive back Sammy Knight is expected to take over Garza's responsibilities. USC plays Minnesota at 12:30 PM on Saturday.
Posted on: August 24, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 3:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The NCAA Committee on Infractions has released its findings from the organization's investigation into Tennessee athletics and former Volunteer head coach Lane Kiffin. And as reported yesterday, neither Kiffin nor the Tennessee football program will face any additional sanctions as a result of the investigation.
But that doesn't mean either Kiffin or the Vols didn't draw the notice of the COI. The report had this to say:
The full public report from the COI added this condemnation as well:
Clearly, the COI is not a happy body when it comes to Kiffin's tenure in Knoxville. But without the major violation to hang its punishin' hat on, apparently sanctions weren't an option. For a breakdown of some of the violations contained in the report, check our Tennessee RapidReports. (We were under the impression that suspensions were now on the table for serial secondary violators, but perhaps not.)
So happy body or not, it's nothing but good news for Kiffin, who had this to say: "I’m pleased that the NCAA based its decision on the facts and not on perception."
As for the perception the NCAA has lost its teeth since the USC penalties, however, expect that one to be as pervasive as ever.
For reaction on the show-cause order against Bruce Pearl and the rest of the Vol hoops fallout, stay tuned our sister blog Eye on College Basketball.