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Tag:Dana Holgorsen
Posted on: September 15, 2011 11:27 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 1:22 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 3 LSU 19, No. 25 Miss. St. 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LSU WON: The Tigers took their first drive 77 yards over 16 plays for a 3-0 lead, and though the homestanding Bulldogs tied the game twice, the ultimate outcome never seemed in doubt. Behind a steady, punishing ground game (148 yards) and a surprisingly efficient performance from Jarrett Lee (21-of-27, 213 yards), the Tiger offense eventually wore down the State defense and put the game out of reach with Lee's 19-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle with 11:56 left. The terror-inducing LSU defense, meanwhile, held the Bulldogs to 21 total yards in the second half and recorded an incredible 14 tackles-for-loss. 

WHY LSU WON: Obviously, it's tough to lose a football game when you only allow six points. The lion's share of the credit goes to John Chavis's defense and in particular the outrageous Tiger secondary, which held the Bulldogs to a miserable 5.6 yards per-attempt, saw Morris Claiborne come up with a highlight-reel interception, and forced multiple coverage sacks as Chris Relf dropped back and found no one to throw to.

But Lee deserves a round of applause as well. While the ground game (and tailback Spencer Ware in particular) slowly piled up the yards, the senior quarterback started out an impressive 10-of-11 and kept the Tiger offense balanced with a series of precision, chain-moving throws. Aside from one late ill-advised interception, Lee put together the kind of controlled, efficient performance that further cements the Tigers as legitimate national title contenders. If LSU vs. Alabama is a "mirror matchup" of ruthless defenses and powerful rushing attacks decided by which team has the better quarterback, the evidence of tonight's outing tilts it in favor of the Tigers.

WHEN LSU WON: The touchdown pass to Randle made it all but official, but the game turned on three State possessions in the third quarter--drives starting at the State 40, midfield, and the State 44, respectively. A touchdown on any of the three would have given the Bulldogs the lead, but instead the drives covered zero, 25, and 7 yards and generated just three points. The Randle TD followed immediately, and State was done.

WHAT LSU WON: The argument against LSU's national title bona fides (aside from the one that notes the Bayou Bengals have to go to Tuscaloosa later this season) has been that there was a loss waiting somewhere in the three-out-of-first-four stretch that included Oregon, Mississippi State and West Virginia. Now two of those three are behind Les Miles's team, and Chavis and his secondary will have an extra two days to prepare for Dana Holgorsen's aerial assault.

WHAT MISSISSIPPI STATE LOST: Between Thursday night's loss and last week's defeat in Auburn, it's official: State is once again out of the SEC West running and will be, at best, just another "dangerous" team hanging around the bottom half of the divisional standings. There's worse things to be (that's what they were in 2010, too, and they finished the year with a Gator Bowl championship), but this was supposed to be the season Dan Mullen turned the Bulldogs into something else. Not yet, as it turns out.



Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 1:28 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 10)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. The conference got a reality check after 8-0 start. I wrote earlier this week about the Big East not getting to comfy with their undefeated record, and my suspicions became true this weekend. The conference went 4-4 with South Florida's victory over Ball State being the only win against an FBS opponent. Syracuse and Pittsburgh had to hold off late rallies from Rhode Island and Maine, while Rutgers and Connecticut were unable to capitalize on multiple opportunities to defeat North Carolina and Vanderbilt. But the weekend of frustration for the conference started with Louisville's 24-17 loss at home to Florida International.

2. Louisville's offensive line has to be fixed. Florida International exposed a glaring weakness in the Louisville offense on Friday night in their 24-17 victory over the Cardinals. The Panthers defense sacked Will Stein seven times and held running backs Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson to a combined 83 yards on 28 carries (2.9 ypc). Youth has been a concern for Louisville coming into the season, particularly with four new starters on the offensive line. But the performance against FIU was embarrassing for Charlie Strong's squad, and now the entire nation knows where and how to beat the Cardinals. Luckily, their next game is their annual matchup with Kentucky - who looks even worse. My thoughts are that Strong uses Kentucky and the next bye week to fix the issues. But that's probably a lot more hope than thought.

3.Pittsburgh is still adjusting to new systems on both sides of the ball. Todd Graham was supposed to bring the "high octane" offense to Pittsburgh, but the only player up to speed appears to be running back Ray Graham. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson installed a 3-3-5 attacking defense, and spent time refining it with Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. But neither system appeared to be clicking in the Panthers' 35-29 win over Maine on Saturday. Quarterback Tino Sunseri could not get synced with his receivers, only finding success on short and intermediate routes due to heavy pressure from Maine's defensive front. He was sacked seven times and tossed two interceptions before getting replaced by true freshman Trey Anderson.

The defense was picked apart by Maine quarterback Warren Smith in the second half, with the senior signal caller totaling 334 yards and three touchdowns in a failing effort to bring the Black Bears back from a 20-7 halftime deficit. The defense was hardly "attacking" down the stretch, and if Maine can make Pitt pay the Panthers have some serious concerns heading into next week's non-conference showdown with Iowa.

4. West Virginia's offense needs a consistent rushing attack. The statement sounds critical, but that is only because of how productive the offense is when the Mountaineers can move the ball on the ground. When Norfolk State was holding a 12-10 lead over West Virginia at halftime, they were daring head coach Dana Holgorsen to run the ball with only four men in the box. The Mountaineers were not able to get anything going on the ground with either Andrew Buie or Vernard Roberts, and Geno Smith was struggling to find receivers open in space. When the Mountaineers starting creating holes for their backs in the second half, it opened up the entire field and sparked the 45-0 second half run.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:58 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 5:44 pm
 

SEC Interrogation, Week 2

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Each Thursday we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:




Mike Bobo: do you know what you're doing with an up-tempo shotgun offense?  After rumblings from fall camp that Georgia would unveil a no-huddle spread offense gainst Boise State, the Bulldogs didn't quite go the full Dana Holgorsen ... but they definitely flirted with it, breaking away from their traditional pro-style I-formation look for a multitude of quick snaps, multi-receiver sets, and shotgun handoffs. The results were occasionally spectacular (see Brandon Boykin's 80-yard touchdown run) but more frequently sputterrific (see the other 25 rushes for all of 57 yards, or Boise's six sacks).

So why the change? "We wanted to get more plays, which we didn’t do on Saturday,” Bulldog coordinator Bobo said. “But we’re committed to doing it, and more plays equals more opportunities, and more chances to score.”

This is true, technically speaking. A faster tempo does lead to more possessions and plays packed into a game, and more scoring chances. But that's true for both teams, not just the one running the no-huddle; barring onside kick shenanigans or the occasional odd break at the end of a half, possessions in football are always going to be equal. For seasoned practitioners of the no-huddle like Holgorsen or Gus Malzahn, tempo is partially about giving their offense as many opportunities as possible, but it's also about making it more efficient by keeping an opposing defense off-balance and wearing it down over the course of 60 minutes.

Bobo is not one of those seasoned practitioners. As the Athens Banner-Herald points out, in 2010 Georgia ran fewer plays than any other team in the SEC. Suddenly lurching into a part-time, only-half-committed shotgun spread outfit seems from here to be a good way to neither execute that plan well nor the Bulldogs' traditional power-running and play-action bread-and-butter. One Georgia blogger has cleverly referred to Bobo's plan as the Cheesecake Factory offense--one that attempts to do everything, and in the end does none of it well enough to win.

Mark Richt, for what it's worth, is firmly on board with Bobo's approach. But if it doesn't pay far more dividends against South Carolina than it did against Boise (and if there's a bigger red flag than giving up six sacks to the Broncos the week before facing Devin Taylor, Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney, we haven't seen it), Richt may pay for that support with an 0-2 start and the hottest seat in the country.



Auburn's defensive line: what can you do with Mississippi State? The surprising thing about Utah State's 84-play slice-and-dice job on the Tiger defense wasn't the 22-of-31 passing from true freshman Chuckie Keeton, or the resulting 13-of-20 mark for the Aggies on third- and fourth-down conversions; Ted Roof's Tiger teams have always had issues with a tight, controlled passing game like USU's. But they've also usually been stout enough against the run to make up for that Achilles heel -- Auburn led the SEC in rush defense last year -- making the true stunner the Aggies' 227 yards on the ground.

Unfortunately for Roof and the Tigers, things only get tougher this week. State boasts the league's best dual-threat quarterback in Chris Relf, a veteran line featuring three senior starters, Dan Mullen's tried-and-true option schemes, and one of the nation's most underrated tailbacks in Vick Ballard. Even Auburn is obviously a far cry from Memphis, but the 309 rushing yards and 8.1 yard per-carry average racked up by the Bulldogs in Week 1 still make for a hell of a warning shot across the bow of the Tiger front seven.

That front seven should get a boost with the return of suspended senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman, and Roof's long track record of run-stuffing success suggests some level of improvement is due. But the Tiger front remains so young -- all four starting defensive linemen are sophomores -- that it will take a major, major leap forward for Auburn to avoid getting steamrolled. Are they up to it?



Alabama: is your offense good enough to stake a claim to No. 1? Maybe we'll be proven wrong about this. But the guess here is that despite the change of venue to Happy Valley, there won't be any more competitive drama in Saturday's Alabama-Penn State clash than there was in last year's 24-3 Tide throttling in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban's loaded roster of future pros dominated the Nittany Lions physically in nearly every aspect of the 2010 meeting, and that's not a problem we see Joe Paterno repairing in the space of one offseason.

Which means the burning question is one of degree: does the Tide offense have the chops to go on the road and put together a performance worthy of putting the team in the top-of-the-polls discussion? Underrated though Kent State's defense may be (10th in FBS total defense in 2010), the Tide still looked surprisingly sloppy on attack, despite the 48-7 final. The quarterbacks threw four interceptions; the offensive line missed a handful of assignments; the Tide receivers and quarterbacks put the ball on the ground four times.

Were those opening-week jitters ... or something more serious that might deprive the Tide of championships once the 2011 season is finished? A dominant performance against a Lion team with plenty of questions of its own in the front seven would go a long way towards affirming it was the former.

Also worth asking: Can Tennessee's Janzen Jackson-less secondary hold up against Cincinnati's lively passing game? (The league's most underrated Week 2 matchup could be decided here.) Can Vanderbilt  look like a real team another real team? (Despite their 45-14 win over FCS Elon, the 'Dores were outgained by 14 yards. Jury's well out.) Will Kentucky or Ole Miss show any signs of life on offense? (If the 'Cats and Rebels can't get better against Central Michigan and Southern Illinois, respectively, it's going to be a long season.)
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:12 pm
 

Big East poll reactions, Week 1

Posted by Chip Patterson

Predictably, the preseason polls did not have much of a Big East presence. The preseason Associated Press poll only opened the door for West Virginia to sneak in at No. 24. But on Saturday South Florida made quite the statement to the voters, pulling off the upset win over Notre Dame in South Bend. Now the conference gets to revel in two teams represented in the polls, with one more collecting votes.

19. West Virginia - Dana Holgorsen's debut in Morgantown was far from normal as the Mountaineers collected their first victory in a game called for lightning. The new offensive scheme under the direction of quarterback Geno Smith sputtered at first, but by the time the game was called the offense had scored five times on eight offensive drives - something that Holgorsen singled out on Monday as "pretty good." Next the Mountaineers will host Norfolk State before traveling to College Park and face Maryland in Byrd Stadium.

22. South Florida - Skip Holtz said before the season that his team had some momentum coming off the Bulls' dramatic late season victories over Miami and Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. That momentum off those two close wins carried over to South Bend on Saturday with the 23-20 victory over the then-ranked Irish. The Bulls' defense was opportunistic, and BJ Daniels was able to orchestrate enough scoring drives (granted, field goals) in the first half to put the game out of reach by the time the Irish made the quarterback switch. The Bulls now have three winnable games ahead with the possibilities of traveling to Pittsburgh 4-0. After that begins the brutal road journey through the Big East that includes four away games in five weeks.

Other Receiving Votes 38. Pittsburgh - The Panthers' "high-octane" offense took a while to get going against Buffalo, and it is clear the Panthers are sell getting used to operating at Todd Graham's preferred speed in a game situation. Luckily Pitt welcomes Maine to town on Saturday for one more test-run before taking Graham's "high-octane" show on the road to face the Hawkeyes in Iowa on Sept. 17.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 10:17 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 24 West Virginia 34, Marshall 13

Posted by Chip Patterson

WEST VIRGINIA WON. It was an odd and awkward victory, but the Mountaineers overcame three different weather delays to finally collect the victory over the in-state rival Marshall 34-13. The game was finally called with 14:36 left in the fourth quarter after more than three hours of delays brought both teams in and out of the locker room several times. Geno Smith stole the show in head coach Dana Holgorsen's debut, completing 26 of 35 passes for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns in just over 3 quarters of action.

WHY WEST VIRGINIA WON: The Mountaineers defense, for the most part, frustrated the Thundering Herd and continued to put freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato in third and long situations. West Virginia's defense only allowed Marshall to convert on 3 of 11 third downs, repeatedly setting themselves up with opportunistic field position for Geno Smith.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: Tavon Austin's 100-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter erased all of the momentum gained by Marshall after forcing a turnover on downs. The Thundering Herd used the field position to get a field goal and cut the Mountaineer lead to 20-13 with 5:14 left in the third period. Austin's return touchdown occurred just before the first weather delay, and Marshall never was able to get momentum back.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: This game provided very little insight into West Virginia's new look on offense, and did little to establish dominance over their in-state rivals. Smith looks sharp, but the Mountaineer rushing attack struggled to find a rhythm and looked inefficient at best. The Mounaineers got a mark in the win column, and a list of areas to improve, but other than Geno Smith's performance there was little that stood out on Sunday.

WHAT MARSHALL LOST: The opportunity to knock off their rivals. The Thundering Herd struck first when Andre Booker returned a West Virginia punt 87 yards for a touchdown. That 7-0 lead would be Marshall's best moment on Sunday, as the defense gave Geno Smith too much time to operate and the Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-10 lead before halftime. There is something to be said for freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 115 yards. The Miami native showed potential in limited action and could be a nice building block for the future.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Other than the three different weather delays and early finish? Trying to take build some momentum after scoring just before halftime, Marshall opted to attempt an onsides kick to start the second half. They failed, but it at least showed the Thundering Herd had no plans of quitting their attack on the Mountaineers.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 7:29 pm
 

West Virginia - Marshall suspended for lightning

Posted by Chip Patterson

For the fifth time in this opening weekend of college football, a game has been suspended due to inclement weather. With 4:59 remaining in the third quarter, game officials stopped West Virginia and Marshall after lightning was spotted less than six miles from the stadium.

The fans were instructed to leave the stadium and seek temporary shelter, while the teams returned to their locker room. According to regulations, 30 minutes must pass with no lightning spotted in a six-mile radius of the stadium. Once the teams have been cleared to resume play, there will reportedly be a 5-minute warm up period before re-starting the action.

The lightning report came directly after West Virginia dealt their own strike thanks to a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown from speedy wideout Tavon Austin. The Thundering Herd had just turned a 4th down stop into a field goal, cutting the Mountaineers lead to 20-13, before Austin answered with his highlight reel return.

Quarterback Geno Smith has been the most impressive aspect of West Virginia's highly-touted offense. The junior has competed 22 of 30 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He as spread the ball around to eight different receivers, often being forced to create an opportunity by extending the play with his feet. Marshall has stuffed the Mountaineers running game, holding all rushers to 30 yards on a combined 20 attempts.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:57 am
Edited on: September 4, 2011 3:07 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 3)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1) Connecticut finally has an answer at running back. Connecticut does not have a clear-cut answer for quarterback. That was obvious with head coach Paul Pasqualoni's use of Johnny McEntee, Michael Nebrich, and Scott McCummings during the Huskies opener against Fordham. However, the game might have answered the team's concerns about replacing 2010 Big East Player of the Year Jordan Todman. Senior transfer D.J. Shoemate was replaced last minute by redshirt freshman Lyle McCombs because Shoemate got "banged up" in practice late in the week.

The switch could end up having an effect on the Huskies season, because McCombs certainly looked like the best choice possible for starting tailback on Saturday. It was the first collegiate appearance for the Staten Island native, and he made the most of every opportunity. By the time all the damage was done McCombs racked up 141 yards on 24 carries with four touchdowns. Regardless of opponent, those are impressive numbers for anyone's NCAA debut. If McCombs can keep it up, Pasqualoni may have found a great building block for this new chapter of his seasoned career.

2) It's not always pretty, but the Orange get it done. Doug Marrone was celebrated by the Syracuse football community for returning to his alma mater and bringing them back to the postseason. The Orange's 8-win season was considered by many to be a sign of things to come for a once-storied program. However peeling back the shiny reviews of last season reveal a grimy, hard-nosed battle through the regular season. Syracuse simply found ways to win, and most of the time it was not pretty.

With only 20 letterman and over half of his defensive starters gone from that team, the gritty "find a way to win" style appears very much a part of Syracuse football. Wake Forest appeared to have Thursday's game won, and even fans in the Carrier Dome agreed and were heading for the exits as the Orange trailed by 15 points in the 4th quarter. But the fans that stayed got see Ryan Nassib and Antwon Bailey lead the Syracuse offense to 22 straight points in the final quarter + overtime to pull off the win over the visiting Demon Deacons. The Orange may have been slowly reversing the trend of their home struggles, but certainly not the one of winning ugly.

3) USF made a statement to the conference with upset of Notre Dame. Skip Holtz was forced to spend most of his time with the media this past week answering questions about playing at his alma mater and the school where his father spent 11 years as the head coach. But the story of the game ended up being mother nature, with two different delays due to storms in the area. But more than six hours after kickoff, a statement was made with South Florida's 23-20 victory over No. 16 Notre Dame. The Bulls, who have pulled off five straight 8+ win seasons, are ready to compete for a Bit East title.

The Fighting Irish had plenty of internal issues, including a mid-game quarterback switch during one of the delays, but USF showed up unintimidated and prepared. Holtz seemed excited about his defense heading into the season, and Saturday's performance legitimized his sentiments. The Bulls defense forced five Irish turnovers, and found a way to turn them into enough of a lead to secure a huge confidence-booster for a program looking to break through to the elite. Next for the Bulls will be three more non-conference games before kicking off the conference schedule with one of the most difficult challenges on the slate: a road test against Pittsburgh

4.) What the Dana Holgorsen era looks like at West Virginia. We will find this one out Sunday afternoon when the Mountaineers face in-state rival Marshall. Kickoff at 3:30 p.m., check back after the game because this is something we definitely want to learn.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 8:58 pm
 

PODCAST: Big East season preview

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Big East gets criticized often on the national level for being the one of the weaker BCS conferences, but with new coaches and high-octane offenses 2011 could be a bounce back year for the league. I join Adam Aizer to sort through the many story lines in the Big East and try to make sense of a league that has had 5 different teams win a share of the conference championship since 2005.

Subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast on iTunes

If you are having trouble seeing the player, you can download the MP3 HERE

 
 
 
 
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