Posted on: November 20, 2010 7:51 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Maybe it's fitting that Les Miles ' best job of clock management in ages -- maybe ever -- came against Ole Miss today in his Tigers' 43-36 win . After all, it was the spike-with-one-second fiasco against the Rebels last season that took the "Miles can't manage the clock" meme from the ravings of embittered LSU fans to an accepted mainstream fact.
But not today. Today it was Miles whose team took over on their own 49 with 4:57 to play, down 36-35, and cooly drove the ball into the endzone and -- just as importantly in a game that at times resembled a ping-pong match as much as football -- the clock under 35 seconds as the Rebels watched helplessly. Why helplessly? Because Houston Nutt 's charges had wasted two timeouts comiong out of the huddle slowly earlier in the half. Combine that with some hard running from Jordan Jefferson , Michael Ford , and Stevan Ridley , and the outcome of the drive (and the game) was a foregone conclusion from the minute LSU crossed the Rebel 20.
Yes, advancing that far was made a much more manageable goal by the questionable unsportsmanlike flag on the Rebels' Markeith Summers , who had been penalized for somersaulting into the end zone despite the fact he was being pursued by an LSU defender. (How exactly it's Summers responsibility to know precisely how far behind him the defender was, we're not sure.) But the flag only hastened the inevitable; the way the game had been going and as tired as the Rebels' defense had to have been, LSU was putting points on the board there.
Those points keep LSU in the dead middle of the hunt for a Sugar Bowl berth, one they'll all but clinch if Arkansas lose to Mississippi State tonight. But even if it comes down to Razorbacks vs. Tigers next week, LSU can sleep a little better knowing their coach has started to put some of his biggest past mistakes behind him.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 12:18 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The nice thing about being a head football coach in the SEC is that if you succeed, you're a god. The bad thing is that if you don't, the minute you're out the door (or well before, of course), you're everything that is wrong with modern society. Also, an absolutely terrible football coach.
The league gave us not one but two examples of this phenomenon yesterday, the first (not surprisingly) where the success of previously-ignored running back Tauren Poole gave the current Volunteers the chance to shovel some more dirt on the grave of Lane Kiffin 's Tennessee tenure :
The vocal show of support for Poole from his teammate came after he had point-blank refused to enter a blowout against Memphis in the game's dying minutes, even under Kiffin's orders. Quite the tight ship Kiffin was running in Knoxville, huh?
But at least that ship didn't run aground on the shoals of a winless SEC season, as did the final team under Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss . Houston Nutt was all too happy to remind Rebel fans of that fact in his deliciously entertaining press conference/one-man pep rally/big tent revival sermon yesterday:
Again, I don’t want to, let’s make sure we clear up, I’m not blaming anything on the previous staff, because I appreciate the players that I inherited. Even though they didn’t win a conference game, the players that I inherited, that Ed Orgeron recruited, were very, very good players, now. I want to make it real clear. They did a good job of getting a Peria Jerry, Jerrell Powe, and all these young men in here, man. I mean, Michael Wallace. Shay Hodge. All those guys. Awesome. But the bottom line is, they didn’t know how to win and they were used to losing and they accepted it. I don’t want to get to that point. I don’t ever want to go back. Again, I’m just harping on, don’t ever get used to losing. Don’t ever get to where it’s a little bit easier to let go of the rope.Let's shorten this a bit: "I’m not blaming anything on the previous staff ... Even though they didn’t win a conference game ... [and] the bottom line is, they didn’t know how to win and they were used to losing and they accepted it." Got it, coach. (The College Football Blog nonetheless heartily recommends reading the entire transcript of the press conference linked above.)
Seeing reactions like these and knowing how much scorn he took after moving on from jobs at Notre Dame and Washington , it's probably for the best that Ty Willingham never got an SEC job. Someone would have taken to a mic yesterday to blame him for, say, Steve Addazio . And botulism.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 2:14 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 2:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Jeremiah Masoli was listed as an injury question mark all week after a head injury suffered in last week's win over UL-Lafayette , with the consensus wisdom being that the Rebels wouldn't have much of a chance on the road at Tennessee . So it appeared to be good news for the Rebels when Masoli was cleared to play and took the field in Knoxville.
In practice, though, the Rebels might have been better off simply going with backup Nathan Stanley . Masoli has suffered through a miserable first half, going 6-of-15 for just 72 yards (4.8 yards-per-attempt), rushing for just 15 yards on 6 attempts, and throwing one interception without a touchdown. That interception wasn't your garden-variety pick, either -- it was a horrific duck into the flat that Tennessee's Eric Gordon gratefully plucked with ease and returned 46 yards for a Vol score. Several other makeable quick throws have sailed on him in ugly fashion. A big first half for Rebel running back Branden Bolden (81 yards on 8 carries, two touchdowns) has kept Ole Miss from being run out of Neyland Stadium, but at this point he's the only thing the Ole Miss offense has going for it.
To be fair, Masoli hasn't been the Rebels' only problem; the eminently flammable Rebel secondary has been torched by Tyler Bray (yes, that Tyler Bray, the fencepost-thin true freshman) for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Giving up 24 offensive points in a half to the usually-low-fi Volunteer offense has to be a performance every bit as disappointing for Houston Nutt as his quarterbacks'.
But whether the greater share of blame falls on the defense or Masoli doesn't much matter: either way Tennessee has a 31-14 lead at halftime and barring a total collapse by the thin Volunteer defense, it's going to be the home team taking another critical step towards bowl eligibility.
UPDATE, 1:31 EST: And Masoli begins the second half by throwing another abomination of a pick-six, an easy lob well above his receiver's head and returned 10 yards for the Vol score. 38-14, and the Rebels now appear done.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It may be firmly implanted in last place in the SEC West, but if Ole Miss can somehow manage to win two of its last three games, the Rebels will become bowl eligible this season. Of course, considering that after this week's tilt against Tennessee that the Rebels have to travel to LSU before taking on Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, winning two games isn't going to be easy.
Which means that, realistically, if the Rebels don't beat Tennessee this weekend, they can forget about going to a bowl game. So it would be nice if they had their starting quarterback available, though nobody is quite sure whether that will be the case.
Jeremiah Masoli suffered a concussion last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, and is yet to be cleared to play against the Volunteers on Saturday. Still, Houston Nutt is keeping his fingers crossed.
"I'm hoping (tonight, trainer Tim Mullins) can say he's going to be all right," Nutt told the Clarion-Ledger. "That's what I'm hoping."
Masoli has participated in practice this week, though he has been limited. While Nutt is hoping that Mullins will clear Masoli to play on Friday night, he also said that it could come on Saturday morning, and that if that is the case, then Masoli will be prepared to play. If Masoli can't go, Nathan Stanley will start in his place.
Stanley replaced Masoli last week and completed only 6-of-14 passes for 108 yards. Odds are that if Stanley does play, you can expect another heavy dose of Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis, as both running backs rushed for over 100 yards last week.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 10:05 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 12:49 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The "Jeremiah Masoli experiment" in Oxford has been far from a failure, but it has not delivered the type of season that may Rebels fans expected with the arrival of a Pac-10 champion quarterback. Masoli has been predictably productive, throwing for 1,521 yards and 12 touchdowns so far on the season - while adding four more scores on the ground. But with a 4-5 overall record and with just one conference win, Ole Miss is facing the very real possibility of missing the postseason; something that has not occurred in Houston Nutt's tenure. With only three games left on the schedule, every one of them is a must-win, and there are chances that they may have to enter Saturday's matchup with Tennessee without their starting quarterback .
Trainer Tim Mullins said Masoli, who suffered a concussion in UM’s 43-21 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday, is being tested daily on a variety of parameters, including headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light, irritability, changes in sleep habits and balance tests. “He has responded good, but we’ve had guys in the past that responded good and then they have a setback,” Mullins said. “So it’s just still too early to say.”
If Masoli cannot go against the Volunteers, he will be replaced by sophomore Nathan Stanley . Stanley started the season sharing snaps with Masoli, and threw for 108 yards in his absence against Louisiana-Lafayette following the concussion. The Rebels planned for Stanley to be their starter before Masoli's arrival, and it may fall on Stanley to carry Ole Miss into the postseason.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 4:10 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 4:27 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
As the regular season winds to a close, we'll break down the conference races and let you know what scenarios are needed for your favorite team to grasp that automatic BCS berth. In the SEC, we'll shake down each division race first then make an insanely premature prediction. Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below. For the ACC edition, click here .
West DivisionAuburn (8-0) (5-0)
Alabama (7-1) (4-1)
LSU (7-1) (4-1)
Mississippi State (6-2) (2-2)
Arkansas (5-2) (2-2)
Ole Miss (3-4) (1-3)
Week 9 Preview
With Auburn sitting a game up on their bitter Alabama rivals but a full two or more on the rest of the field -- thanks to head-to-head tiebreakers over LSU , Arkansas , and Mississippi State -- it looks like there's not much stopping an Iron Bowl meeting (Nov. 26, only on CBS!) for all the Western marbles. But we're not there yet. There are plenty of reasons a team calling itself the No. 1 team in the country has lost on the road each of the last three weeks, and an awful lot of those reasons are in play again this week as emotionally-drained Auburn travels to Ole Miss . Houston Nutt has enjoyed a ton of success against favored Auburn teams over the years, and with Jeremiah Masoli now in what appears to be firm command of Nutt's offense, the Rebels have the ability to take advantage of the Tigers' often-porous defense.
But the Rebels are also struggling to stop the run in SEC play, giving up 162 yards per game, and that's after playing Vanderbilt and before playing Auburn (who has rushed for more than 300 yards in their last four SEC outings). If the Tigers come out focused enough to execute in their punishing ground game, they should wear down a Rebel defense that has sagged in several second halves.
If Auburn does come away with the win, Arkansas and Mississippi State will be all but eliminated even with wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky , respectively; they would need to run the table, see Auburn to lose to both Georgia and Alabama , and get enough other help to squeeze into a three-way tie that would avoid the head-to-head dilemma. Much more likely is that when the smoke clears, next week's critical game between LSU and Alabama (both of whom are on byes this week) will either help set up a winner-take-all Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa ... or, if LSU wins, bring Auburn within one win of clinching the West.
Week 9 West Winners -- Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State
West Favorite -- Auburn
East DivisionSouth Carolina (5-2) (3-2)
Georgia (4-3) (3-3)
Florida (4-3) (2-3)
Vanderbilt (2-5) (1-4)
Kentucky (4-4) (1-4)
Tennessee (2-5) (0-4)
Week 9 Preview
The most muddled division in all of college football should gain some clarity this week when Georgia and Florida play a de facto elimination game in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (3:30 ET this Saturday--only on CBS!). Assuming South Carolina holds serve at home against reeling, winless Tennessee , the loser will find themselves at least two games behind the Gamecocks with only two games remaining on Carolina's slate. Though either team could still hope for a three-team (or even four-team) tie at 4-4, there doesn't appear to be a way for this Saturday's loser to win that tiebreak.*
The Gators do have the advantage of controlling their own destiny, while Georgia will need help even with a win. But it's Mark Richt 's team that comes in as the Vegas favorite after destroying the Volunteers, Commodores, and Wildcats over the previous three weeks. The Dawg offense looks rejuvenated with A.J. Green back in uniform, changes along the offensive line leading to better holes for Washaun Ealey and the rest of the Dawg ground game, and Aaron Murray coming into his own as the trigger-man in charge. The Gators remain mired at 89th in the country in total offense, and unless Urban Meyer has worked some miracles during his team's bye week or the Gator return game reprises its magic from the LSU loss, it's difficult to see how Florida scores often enough to keep pace.
If Georgia does win, there's still a long road to the division title, though; they'd have to either defeat Auburn on the road in Week 11 or hope Carolina loses to Florida in Gainesville and Arkansas at home. But neither scenario is that far-fetched, meaning the East would stay muddled for at least a few more weeks.
One thing we can say: with Kentucky and Vanderbilt both major road underdogs this week (at Miss. St. and Arkansas, respectively), their brief run as legitimate players for the divisional title appears to be over.
*Since South Carolina would be the first team eliminated from that tiebreak, thanks to their divisional loss to Kentucky. After that, it's Florida vs. Georgia head-to-head.
Week 9 East Winners -- South Carolina, Georgia
East Favorite -- South Carolina
Insanely Premature ACC Championship Game Prediction - Auburn 35, South Carolina 31
Posted on: September 22, 2010 12:59 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
it's been a tough year for Ole Miss. First the school was refuted in its bid to add the mighty Admiral Ackbar to the fold, and then they lost to Jacksonville State in the season opener. Now, after three weeks they're 1-2 and 0-1 in the SEC, seemingly destined to finish at the bottom of the conference standings. Which just wasn't supposed to happen with Houston Nutt running the program.
Nutt was supposed to make the Rebels a contender in the SEC West, and he's done anything but, which is causing many members of the Rebel alliance to question their leader. Though they may want to reconsider their position once they hear what the Grand Poobah of all things Ole Miss, Archie Manning , has to say about Nutt.
Manning expressed compassion for the Rebels' humble beginnings and confidence in Nutt's ability to turn things around.Having Archie Manning in your corner has to feel good for Nutt, but all those happy feelings are washed away quickly when just looking at the Rebels' schedule for the remainder of the year. There's no guarantee they'll beat Fresno State in Oxford this weekend, and then after that they still have road trips to Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU.
So it's going to get worse before it gets better.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 5:32 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Is Jeremiah Masoli playing fast and loose with the sequence of events that led him out of Oregon? You might recall that when Masoli was initially denied eligibility with Ole Miss until 2011, the NCAA cited the fact that Masoli had been kicked off his own team, and that the waiver wasn't designed to let players escape their pre-existing disciplinary woes. It seemed like pretty sound logic at the time.
And then upon appeal, Masoli was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA shortly thereafter, and we were left to wonder whether the NCAA just made the mistake of not specifically mentioning pre-existing eligibility issues in their transfer waiver guidelines. It seemed rather un-NCAA to do so, but what other explanation could there have been?
But as it turns out, Masoli's successful waiver appeal happened because, as Masoli insists, he was never actually dismissed from the Oregon team. Sound weird? Indeed, but here's Masoli's argument to the NCAA during the appeal process (emphasis ours):
Masoli wrote that Oregon coach Chip Kelly suspended him in March 2010, and that he had the option at that point to transfer to another school. “I realized that other players had been suspended for a season and allowed to play after a few games,” Masoli wrote, likely referring to LeGarrette Blount, who was initially suspended for the 2009 season by Kelly but was reinstated by the end of the year. “Therefore in my mind, playing in the 2010 season was still a possibility.”
But Masoli then said he “was no longer comfortable at Oregon and believed it would be in my best interest to leave.” In late May, Masoli said he decided to transfer “without really knowing where I would go.” Masoli wrote that he notified Kelly of this and that Kelly said he would be given a release. Masoli said he received a release from Oregon on June 8 — and that on the next day, Kelly announced his dismissal from the team. “I was surprised about the announcement because we had already agreed that I was not returning and would be transferring,” Masoli wrote. “The announcement was made because I had been stopped for a driving infraction. However, I had already made my decision to transfer and had received my release prior to this announcement so the dismissal announcement was not really a factor in my leaving.”
It's slippery logic, but clever all the same. If Masoli was already gone, then the subsequent legal trouble was Houston Nutt's business, not the NCAA's. So the thinking goes.
Of course, as Dr. Saturday points out, Oregon disputed the timing of Masoli's account and said Masoli didn't quit first. In a rare fit of charity, Oregon supported Masoli's waiver claim anyway, because whatever.