Posted on: September 24, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 8:09 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
CLEMSON WON. Death Valley was rocking from kickoff to final whistle, and Saturday's Top 25 Atlantic Division rivalry game lived up to everything we expetced as No. 21 Clemson knocked off No. 11 Florida State 35-30. Quarterback Tajh Boyd orchestrated an impressive display of Chad Morris' offense, throwing for more than 300 yards for the second straight game. Boyd becomes the first Clemson quarterback to accomplish that feat since Charlie Whitehurst, and the Tigers are 4-0 for the first time since 2007.
HOW CLEMSON WON: The Tigers did a lot of things right, but injuries and costly penalties also played a big role in Saturday's upset. Three of Clemson's first four scoring drives were kept alive by costly penalties against Florida State on 3rd or 4th down. By the end of the game, the Seminoles had racked up 11 penalties for 124 yards, which paired with the absence of EJ Manuel, Willie Haulstead, Bert Reed, and Greg Reid certainly aided the Tigers.
But don't let those facts discredit Clemson's performance. Boyd was spectacular outside of a few poor decisions (the most humorous is featured below), freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins continued his breakout campaign with eight catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and the Tigers' defense took advantage of the suddenly one-dimensional Florida State offense by putting pressure on Trickett in the pocket all afternoon.
WHEN CLEMSON WON: Clint Trickett kicked off the fourth quarter by finding Rashad Greene for a 30-yard touchdown to cap off a three minute scoring drive that cut the Clemson lead to 28-23. On the very next possession, Sammy Watkins beat senior cornerback Mike Harris with a double move and Boyd hit him in stride for a 62-yard touchdown. The score deflated the Seminoles, and the offense followed with a three and out. All Clemson had to do from there was take care of the ball and burn clock.
WHAT CLEMSON WON: For the Tigers, this win was reaffirming what they began to believe in the victory against Auburn: they can hang with anyone on their schedule. Auburn, Florida State, and Virginia Tech looked like a brutal stretch coming into the season, and Dabo Swinney's squad has passed two of the tests with flying colors. Taking on Virginia Tech in Blacksburg can be a daunting task, and Saturday's win was much-needed for their confidence heading into that matchup.
WHAT FLORIDA STATE LOST: Florida State walked into Doak Campbell a week ago one win away from being a national title contender. Seven days later they are 2-2 with their starting quarterback leading a star-studded injury report. Thankfully the Seminoles have a week off before returning to ACC play against Wake Forest. This will be a crucial week for Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State coaching staff to refocus the team on their goal of reclaiming the ACC Championship.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Clemson won. Despite this derp-tastic play. (courtesy of @bubbaprog, Mocksession)
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Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 4:57 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.
Finally, we've reached the point of the season where conferences that aren't the Big Ten begin to offer actual meals rather than boring appetizers that add nothing. The SEC and ACC have delved into conference play a bit this season, but now the Big 12 and Pac-12 are diving in as well, which means we've got quite an impressive slate of games to sample from this weekend.
#22 Michigan vs. San Diego State - Big Ten Network 12pm ET
Brady Hoke is San Diego State's old coach (haven't you heard?), so that's all anybody's going to talk about during the game. Don't focus on that fact too much, though, otherwise you're liable to stop paying attention to Denard Robinson, and that's a terrible idea. If Shoelace plays four quarters Saturday, he'll put up mammoth numbers on the Aztec defense. - Adam Jacobi
#25 Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina - ESPN 12pm ET
The Yellow Jackets kick off conference play with one of their most formidable Coastal Division opponents in the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech leads the nation (yes, United States) in total offense right now, averaging just over 675 yards per game. The numbers have been inflated thanks to a schedule, but the potency of Paul Johnson's option offense cannot be underestimated. North Carolina's front seven is one of the ACC's best on paper, and Saturday is their chance for them to live up to the hype. - Chip Patterson
Pitt vs. Notre Dame - ABC 12pm ET
With so few must-see games going on in the morning, this matchup could prove to be quite entertaining. Notre Dame finally put a full 60 minutes together without driving off a cliff last week to pick up a win against Michigan State, and Pitt did quite the Notre Dame impression last Saturday while blowing a 27-10 lead over Iowa in the fourth quarter. Tune in for the future ACC follies! - Tom Fornelli
#3 Alabama vs. #14 Arkansas - CBS 3:30pm ET
The first clash of legitimate SEC heavyweights offers a compelling contrast in offensive styles: Arkansas's aerial circus of nationally-elite receivers and precision Tyler Wilson passes against a Tide attack that (thanks to the humdrum nature of AJ McCarron's performances to date) is likely to pound away with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, pound away some more, and when that fails? More pounding. Winner becomes heavy favorite to land at BCS bowl berth--at minimum. - Jerry Hinnen
#8 Texas A&M vs. #7 Oklahoma State - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET
The Big 12 no longer has a championship game, but this one could serve as a mini-playoff. The winner of this contest between two teams ranked in the top ten moves on to face Oklahoma later this season in a game that will likely decide the Big 12 title. Aside from the BCS implications, however, this matchup should be incredibly entertaining for all involved, as the Oklahoma State offense faces its toughest test of the season so far. - TF
#21 Clemson vs. #11 Florida State - ESPN 3:30pm ET
The Seminoles enter Death Valley banged and bruised after their 23-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma. The most popular word in the pre game notes for Florida State is QUESTIONABLE, and thus so is the outcome of this game. Clemson finally got their offense going against Auburn thanks to Tajh Boyd and breakout freshman Sammy Watkins, and the Tigers have a lot of momentum with their Atlantic Division rivals coming to town. Last season this game was decided by a 55-yard walk-off field goal by Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins. Saturday's tilt could be just as close. - CP
Ohio State vs. Colorado - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET
What looked like sort of a throwaway game in August now has some intrigue. Colorado's not very good at all, but Ohio State has its own quarterback issues to work out after last week's disastrous showing in a 24-6 loss at Miami. The game's in Columbus, so it's unlikely that all hell breaks loose, but if Colorado hangs around, you never know... - AJ
#12 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt - ESPN2 7pm ET
The upstart Commodores move up about three or four classes from their featherweight bout against Ole Miss when they travel to Columbia to take on Marcus Lattimore and Co. Knowing that Lattimore will get his and that the terrors on the Carolina defensive front will hamper any effort to run, any chance of Vandy springing the upset rests in the passing game--in Larry Smith taking advantage of the soft Gamecock secondary, and the ballhawking Vandy defensive backs wringing a couple of game-changing turnovers out of Stephen Garcia. - JH
Kentucky vs. #15 Florida - ESPN 7pm ET
You there, good sir (or madam): do you enjoy the spectacle of wholesale slaughter? Do you take pleasure in the most savage of horse-whippings? Then may we please direct your attention this-a-way to yonder annual meeting between the Wildcats and Gators, won by the Floridians by an average of 42 points these past three years. And with these unfortunate Wildcats having had their offensive teeth removed this offseason just hence -- from cuspid to canine! -- this sideshow could be the bloodiest yet! - JH
#1 Oklahoma vs. Missouri - FX 8pm ET
Last year on a Saturday night in Columbia, the Oklahoma Sooners came into town sporting a new spot atop the rankings. They would not return home with that #1 next to their name. This season it's the Tigers who come to Oklahoma to once again face the top-ranked team in the land. Can Missouri destroy Oklahoma's national title chances two years in a row? Tune in to find out. - TF
#16 West Virginia vs. #2 LSU - ABC 8pm ET
Anticipation for this game has had Morgantown buzzing since Monday, and I suggest you are settled into your spot on the couch (if city officials haven't removed it yet) by kickoff. Dana Holgorsen's offense has been among the most efficient in the nation, and LSU's defense has worn down and broken every challenger they have faced. I expect the Mountaineers to feed off the home crowd and get a fast start, the question will be how long they can keep it up against the tenacious Bayou Bengals defense. It's the heavyweight match up of the evening - no reason to miss this one. - CP
LATE NIGHT SNACKS
Arizona vs. #10 Oregon - ESPN2 10:15pm ET
Oregon begins conference play this weekend and is looking for their 13th-straight league victory against Arizona. The Ducks have bounced back from their opening loss against LSU to blow out a pair of opponents and get the offense cranked up again. Arizona is in the middle of a rough stretch to open the season but they do have an excellent quarterback in Nick Foles, the third best passer in the country, who has yet to throw an interception. - Bryan Fischer
Arizona State vs. #23 USC - ESPN 10:15pm ET
Though USC is ineligible for the Pac-12 South title, they will essentially be settling it on the field as the Trojans head to Tempe to take on Arizona State. Dennis Erickson's team fell to Illinois in a close game last week but are hoping to get things going again. ASU has lost 11 straight to USC so this game is about more than winning a game, it's about ending a long streak with the best team the Sun Devils have had. This game is worth watching just to see linebacker Vontaze Burfict take on Matt Barkley and Robert Woods. - BF
Tags: A.J. McCarron, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Brady Hoke, Bryan Fischer, Chip Patterson, Clemson, Colorado, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, Dennis Erickson, Dustin Hopkins, Eddie Lacy, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Jerry Hinnen, Kentucky, Larry Smith, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Matt Barkley, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Mountain West, Nick Foles, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Pitt, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, San Diego State, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Trent Richardson, Tyler Wilson, USC, Vanderbilt, Vontaze Burfict, West Virginia
Posted on: September 19, 2011 7:04 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The new polls were released on Sunday, and the ACC was able to capitalize on an impressive non-conference performance by adding to their poll presence. Florida State fell from the top ten after their primetime loss to Oklahoma, but big wins for Clemson and Georgia Tech paid off in national rankings.
Florida State (AP: 11/Coaches: 14) - The Seminoles certainly had a chance to jump into national-title contender status, but the home loss to the top-ranked Sooners has dropped FSU from current consideration. Virginia Tech (AP: 13/Coaches: 11) - The Hokies jumped out to a big lead early on Arkansas State, and cruised in the second half to a 26-7 win. Virginia Tech's string of non-ranked opponents will continue this week, with a trip west to face Marshall. Once conference play starts, the Hokies will begin to face opponents that could raise their stock in the polls or reveal a team unworthy of their ranking. How the voters perceive the currently undefeated Hokies could change after hosting Clemson, Miami, and a road trip to a revived Wake Forest team.
Clemson (AP: 21/Coaches: 22) - The Tigers hit their stride at just the right time with their upset over Auburn in Death Valley. The game was a coming of age for sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd and an arrival party for star wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Clemson's celebration will be short-lived, as head coach Dabo Swinney prepares the Tigers for a crucial Atlantic Division showdown with Florida State on Saturday.
Georgia Tech (AP: 25/Coaches: 24) - Those who have doubted Georgia Tech's offense bit their tongues on Saturday when the Yellow Jackets piled up 604 rushing yards against Kansas. The 12.1 yards per carry was an NCAA record (minimum 50 carries) and the defense is starting to look comfortable year two under coordinator Al Groh. The Yellow Jackets are happy to break through, and will get their chance to prove themselves against North Carolina on Saturday.
North Carolina (AP: None/Coaches: 25) - The poll status of Everett Withers' squad is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Tar Heels just make the cut for the Top 25 in the USA Today poll of coaches. But the Associated Press voters do not show anywhere close to the same proportion of love for North Carolina, with the Tar Heels receiving just a handful of points. My only guess is that Butch Davis is a well-respected member of many coaching circles, and the Tar Heels could be getting extra credit from coaches while the presence of an interim is getting them less from the press. Either way, we'll have a much better idea of how North Carolina stacks up after facing No. 25 Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Saturday.
Other Receiving Votes - Miami is the top non-ranked vote getter after knocking off Ohio State at home. Maryland, a week after being on the cusp of national ranking, fell to the bottom of the "other receiving votes" pile after falling to West Virginia on Saturday.
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Tags: ACC, Butch Davis, Chip Patterson, Clemson, College Football Polls, College Football Rankings, College Football Standings, Dabo Swinney, EJ Manuel, Everett Withers, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech, Jimbo Fisher, Marshall, Paul Johnson, Polls, Rankings, Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd, Virginia Tech
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:47 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A longtime Floridian told me Friday he couldn't remember the last time the state was the center of college football like it was this past weekend. Sure there have been big games and plenty of teams in championship contention, but it's hard to think of a time when each corner of the state had a big primetime match up. Equally surprising, he said, was that traditional rivalry Florida-Tennessee was only the third most interesting game on the docket.
The spotlight was indeed on the Sunshine State and things couldn't have gone better for the most part. At the northern end, number one Oklahoma rolled into Tallahassee to play Florida State and there were moments when you genuinely stopped and said, "FSU's back." A loss is a loss but the way the Noles played was encouraging.
The storyline coming out the game seems to be all about Big Game Bob Stoops' team getting their first non-conference road victory over a top-five team in over three decades. The Sooners were gritty, responding to scores like a top-ranked and championship team should. Quarterback Landry Jones had several clutch throws and it seemed like linebacker Tom Wort was making every other play on defense. Oklahoma looked the part and survived with a victory.
The key word being survived. Yes their road woes are well documented but the reason the game was close - closer than most thought - was that Florida State looked the part of a top five team as well. For three quarters at least, it was a knockdown, drag out fight between two high profile head coaches. After FSU freshman Rashad Greene caught a beautiful 56 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, Doak Campbell was rocking. As more than one writer said on Twitter, it was partying like it was 1999.
One wonders what might have been had quarterback E.J. Manuel not gotten hurt. Could he have pulled off the upset? Who knows? But the biggest take away was the defense held an explosive, veteran-laden OU offense to just 23 points and showed they are close to having the athletes at every position like they used too when things were rolling. They were kids last year in Norman and it took less than a year for them to grow up into men. The offense still needs some work - especially along the line - but the defense should help carry the Seminoles through ACC play.
Jimbo Fisher has Florida State making waves on the recruiting trail and there are plenty of signs that the on the field product is coming along as well. The next step is winning games like the one on Saturday but, by all indications, that's coming. Party like it's 1999 indeed.
A couple hours down the road in Gainesville, two teams showed they still need work if they're to take the next step. It looked like Florida was going to run away with the game up 30-7 late in the third but the defense seemed to take the foot off the accelerator. For the most part though, the defensive line was active and did a great job of shutting down the Vols' running game. Completely. Florida's defense held Tennessee to just -9 yards on the ground, the third best mark in the country so far. The offense took a hit once receiver Justin Hunter went down but it was the young offensive line that just couldn't handle the pressure Florida was generating.
All-purpose threat Chris Rainey was everywhere Saturday for the Gators' offense. He had 233 all-purpose yards and recorded his fifth career blocked punt. The Gators are still adjusting to Charlie Weis' offense and Will Muschamp's defense but Rainey is a constant playmaker that the team will have to lean on as they get into the thick of the SEC schedule. Is this team in the same class as Alabama or LSU? Not even close. But there's enough there on both sides of the ball to put up a fight with Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.
Further South, some observers would have had no issue with vacating the Ineligibowl. It just wasn't a pretty game. Ohio State was a step slow all night and Miami struggled on offense outside of their scoring drives to open and close the game. Both teams got back several players from NCAA suspension and Miami's certainly made the difference in the game: Jacory Harris was efficient outside of two boneheaded interceptions and linebacker Sean Spence truly transformed the defense into a much stouter unit that was able to apply pressure on nearly every snap.
Sophomore running back Lamar Miller set the tone early with a big run on the first play of the game en his way to a career night that made him the fourth leading rusher in the country at 151.5 yards per game. There's plenty of talent on this team to get nine or so wins but there's still moments when the Hurricanes revert to last year's form and make a boneheaded mistake. It will be curious to see how they use this game as a momentum builder going forward. At full strength and with some confidence, the Hurricanes have a little bit of swagger back.
On the other side, Ohio State is lacking an identity and has to figure out their quarterback position and do so soon. The Buckeyes have no clue about what kind of team they want to be and there could be some doubt amongst the players about head coach Luke Fickell if post game comments are to be believed.
"I felt like me and Jordan (Hall) were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," tailback Carlos Hyde told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us."
Also, don't overlook the other game in Miami on Saturday: FIU following up it's big win over Louisville with a solid victory over in-state foe UCF to start 3-0 on the season. Many had pegged the Knights as a possible BCS buster at the beginning of the season so for FIU to knock them off does wonders for a program that was the definition of a rebuilding job just a few years ago. Yes it's a Sun Belt team but with the schedule like it is, don't be surprised if FIU keeps things rolling. The defense recorded six sacks against UCF and did a great job the week before against the Cardinals. Plus they did everything without all-everything star T.Y. Hilton, who missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. Take note, the program in the state with the most upside is the one that's not in a BCS conference.
The state of Florida won't be the center of the college football universe like it was this past weekend for some time. But while it was, it delivered.
Stat of the week
Auburn's win streak was snapped at 17 games by Clemson on Saturday, which was the longest in the nation. It was the 10th longest streak in the past decade and amazingly, 10 of the 17 games were decided by eight points or less. Stanford now has the longest win streak in the country with 11, just two seasons removed from a losing record and five seasons away from the school's 1-11 mark.
Biggest reason why the Tigers' streak ended? They're 117th in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 116th in rush defense, 107th in scoring defense and dead last in the country in third down stops. Yikes.
Other stats of note
- Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for highest completion percentage for 40 or more completions in a game. He completed 40 of 44 against New Mexico for a healthy 90.1 percent clip. He also hit 15 passes in a row at one point, tying a school record on his way to a 401 yard and five touchdown day.
- Kellen Moore's 457 yards of offense against Toledo was third most in the country this year and he averaged nearly 10.39 yards a play. His completion percentage on the season is at a remarkable 78.9 percent.
- With the loss to LSU on Thursday, Dan Mullen fell to 2-10 versus the SEC West as head coach at Mississippi State. Both wins are over rival Ole Miss. While the Bulldogs have been much more competitive under Mullen, they still haven't quite gotten over the hump just yet. He was 8-6 against the West while an assistant at Florida.
- There are beat downs and there's what Missouri did against Western Illinois. The Tigers defense allowed just one first down and 44 total yards on the day while the offense rolled up 744 total yards to set a school record that had been set just after World War II. Tailback Henry Josey ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns, the most in a game this season. The mark was also good enough to move him into sixth place on the national rushing list.
- Of the five players to top 200 yards rushing in a game so far this year, three did so on Saturday (Josey, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James).
- Georgia Tech's game against Kansas was pretty amazing to take a look at after the fact. The game delivered the longest run from scrimmage of the season (Orwin Smith went 95 yards for a touchdown), featured two 100 yard rushers and had five players with over 70 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets also piled up a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of them via the running game. The 12.1 yards per rush also set an NCAA record for highest in a game.
- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly has games with 18, 17 and 23 tackles to lead the nation in that category. His 58 total tackles are 19 more than the next player.
- Jeff Fuller became Texas A&M's all-time receptions leader against Idaho while Cyrus Gray topped the 100 yard mark rushing for the ninth time in a row.
- Via senior writer Bruce Feldman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has eight touchdowns and just eight incompletions.
- Impressive, impressive comeback by Iowa from down 24-3 in the 3rd quarter to Pitt. James Vanderberg has been a little underrated early in the season in the face of replacing a longtime starter and doing so with plenty of fresh faces around him. The junior quarterback is 31st in the country in passing efficiency and 25th in total offense after Saturday's game in which he had several impressive throws in the second half in route to a 399 yard and three touchdown day. The lack of a running game has to be concerning if you're Kirk Ferentz, especially as the begin Big Ten play in two weeks with a trip to Penn State. A heck of a comeback but it's apparent there's plenty of flaws in the Hawkeyes.
- Why hello there Sammy Watkins. While it has taken some time for the Clemson offense to adjust to Chad Morris' new system, Watkins has been an explosive playmaker for the Tigers they really haven't had since C.J. Spiller left for the NFL. Yes it was against a porous Auburn defense, but this week was Watkins' coming out party to the nation with 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He shows an explosiveness you just can't teach whenever he gets the ball in his hands and was the spark that allowed Clemson to turn things around. A former five-star recruit, he was ranked behind fellow Tiger frosh Charone Peake coming out of high school by Maxpreps which should give you some indication what kind of young nucleus Dabo Swinney has assembled when you add in running back Mike Bellamy and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Speaking of Swinney, he channeled his inner-Howard Dean in his post game remarks on television.
- Al Golden didn't leave the cupboard bare at Temple as the Owls almost beat Penn State for the first time since Joe Paterno started coaching in Happy Valley. Despite giving up the lead late, Steve Addazio's club showed they can play with bigger and stronger team and should have no problem contending for a MAC championship this year.
- Kudos to James Franklin and what he's been able to do with Vanderbilt. After a close, 4th quarter win against defending Big East champ UConn, the Commodores embarrassed Ole Miss on Saturday 30-7. Franklin has really gotten the team and the rest of the community to buy into what he's building there and it's starting to pay off with the team's 3-0 start. Quarterback Larry Smith isn't sharp enough in the passing game yet but the offense is moving the chains on the ground and playing good defense - they're currently 10th in the country in total D. Things will get much tougher as they head on the road to face South Carolina and Alabama but with home games against Army and Kentucky and a date with Wake Forest, bowl eligibility is possible in Franklin's first year.
- It looked like West Virginia finally started to get their rushing attack going against Maryland this weekend. Geno Smith is putting up great numbers from the quarterback position but head coach Dana Holgorsen knows that if the team wants to win the Big East - or beat LSU this week - they're going to have to be able to run the ball. Whether the answer at tailback is Vernard Roberts or Andrew Buie still remains to be seen but it can't just be all Smith, all the time. Tavon Austin is a dynamic threat who adds a few wrinkles but there still needs to be a consistent rushing attack so the defense can't play nickel the entire game. The Mountaineers did have an impressive three players top the 100 yard receiving mark last Saturday though.
- It was not pretty at the Rose Bowl as critics briefly turned their attention from overrating Texas to remarking on how hot UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat is. He's an alum who probably cares more about the program winning than anyone there yet there's been hardly any progress to show for it. The defense was supposed to be much better this year and strength of the team but it was anything but in the blowout loss to the Longhorns. Case McCoy (with a little David Ash mixed in) appears to be the answer for UT at quarterback and freshman tailback Malcolm Brown showed flashes on his way to a 110 yard day.
- I am not a believer in Nebraska's defense after playing Washington last week but they'll still do just enough to make it to the title game in their first year in the Big Ten. Still, the effort against the Huskies had a lot to be desired of a top 10 team.
- After returning from Sun Life Stadium late in the Miami night, I was surprised to find out there was not one, but two football games on and I managed to stay up for Oklahoma State-Tulsa late, late, late into the night. I couldn't believe they kicked off after midnight local time, much less that Brandon Weeden was still throwing to Justin Blackmon late in the fourth quarter - and well past 3 AM Central - with the game well in hand. Mike Gundy is not only a man, he's all in on this Cowboys team it appears. All or nothing, this is the most talented squad since Barry Sanders was in Stillwater and everybody is onboard. Why Gundy still had his stars on the field that late in the game for a blowout continues to baffle me however.
- I thought Navy's offense in the middle of the season always spelled trouble for teams that weren't ready for it - especially those coming off an emotional victory like South Carolina. The Midshipmen had a chance late but ultimately the Gamecocks ended up winning 24-21 thanks to a last minute interception. As one head coach told me, you schedule option offenses early or play them in a bowl game or else you'll end up upset. South Carolina wasn't upset but they nearly were with the way they played.
- I couldn't believe the score when I first saw it but here it was, Utah 54, BYU 10. A week ago in the Coliseum, I saw the dejected faces on the Utes sideline as their rally came up short against USC. I thought it would be another tough battle in the Holy War but the Utes smacked everybody around Saturday. Don't count out Utah as representing the Pac-12 South with USC ineligible for the title game and Arizona State still Arizona State.
- Kudos also go out to Wyoming, who blocked Bowling Green's extra point to win 28-27. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…
Quote of the week
Craig James during LSU-Mississippi State: "You play four quarters in the SEC."
Tweet of the week
Myself following the second ESPN account to feature the word Genocide in place of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Not a bad nickname if he keeps putting up passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's offense however.
"Company-wide memo about Geno & autocorrect on Monday. RT @McShay13: WVU QB Genocide Smith off to a fast start."
My top 10 after week 2:
4. Boise State
7. Texas A&M
8. Oklahoma State
9. Florida State
Where we'll be this week
Tony Barnhart will be at the big Arkansas-Alabama game, Dennis Dodd will be in College Station for the top 10 matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Brett McMurphy gets another great game this weekend, showing up at LSU-West Virginia Saturday night.
Leaning this way
Arkansas-Alabama: The secondary for Alabama will be flying around and turnovers will doom an explosive Arkansas offense.
Oklahoma State-Texas A&M: The Aggies defense is underrated but this game will still be a shootout. The home crowd will give them the edge in a close one.
LSU vs. West Virginia: LSU's defense is just too much late in the game for Dana Holgorsen's offense to break through.
Across the goal line
I was going to write about conference expansion in this space but figured things would change by the time I finished writing the final paragraph.
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Buie, Arizona State, Arkansas, Army, Auburn, Barry Sanders, Baylor, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big East, Big Ten, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Boise State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, BYU, C.J. Spiller, Carlos Hyde, Case McCoy, Chad Morris, Charlie Weis, Charone Peake, Chris Rainey, Clemson, Craig James, Cyrus Gray, Dabo Swinney, Dan Mullen, Dana Holgorsen, David Ash, Dennis Dodd, Doak Campbell, EJ Manuel, FIU, Florida, Florida State, Geno Smith, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Henry Josey, Idaho, Iowa, Jacory Harris, James Franklin, James Vanderberg, Jeff Fuller, Jimbo Fisher, Joe Paterno, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Larry Smith, Louisville, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Kuechly, MAC, Malcolm Brown, Marcus Lattimore, Maryland, Miami, Mike Bellamy, Mike Gundy, Mississippi State, Missorui, Navy, NCAA, Nebraksa, New Mexico, NFL, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Rashad Greene, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Rose Bowl, Sammy Watkins, Sean Spence, SEC, Seth Doege, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Addazio, Sun Belt, Sun Life Stadium, Surveying the Field, T.Y. Hilton, Tajh Boyd, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Toldeo, Tom Wort, Tony Barnhart, Travon Austin, Tulsa, UCF, UCLA, UConn, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Vernard Roberts, Wake Forest, Washington, West Virginia, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Posted on: September 17, 2011 3:51 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 3:52 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
CLEMSON WON: The nation's longest winning streak is over. Chad Morris's offense outplayed former mentor Gus Malzahn's as the homestanding Tigers racked up 624 total yards and scored five touchdowns in a seven-possession stretch to break the game open. Auburn had no answer for explosive Clemson true freshman receiver Sammy Watkins, who finished with 199 yards on 17 touches rushing and receiving and a pair of touchdowns.
WHY CLEMSON WON: Auburn had already had major issues getting stops on third downs, ranking 116th in the FBS entering today by allowing a 57 percent conversion rate. But the Tigers took things to a whole new level of third-down incompetence against Clemson, watching the home team convert a staggering 14-of-18 attempts and 10 straight in the second and third quarters. (Trust us, Auburn fans: it only seemed like all 10 of those came on the same curl route to Watkins. But we don't blame you.) The end result was that a defense that had already faced more plays than any other in the country faced 92 more and looked entirely spent by the late third quarter.
But while Auburn's defense deserves plenty of blame, Clemson's offense deserves an enormous amount of credit, too. Quarterback Tajh Boyd was sensational, completing 30 of 42 passes for 386 yards, 4 TDs, and no interceptions. Watkins was unstoppable, but the rest of the young Clemson receivers weren't much worse. (Three other Tigers finished with four or more receptions and an average of 10 yards or more on those catches.) And the Clemson offensive line held Auburn without a sack.
WHEN CLEMSON WON: Auburn looked like they might have yet another rabbit to pull out of their collective hat when they drove to the Clemson 8, down 14 with 10 minutes to play. But a Michael Dyer run went nowhere, a false start moved Auburn back to the 13, and on the next play Barrett Trotter threw an interception to a diving Coty Sensabuagh. Even if Clemson hadn't run off the game's remaining 9:34 on their ensuing drive, the game had been decided.
WHAT CLEMSON WON: A 3-0 start, the validation of Morris's hire, the silencing of the murmurs of discontent surrounding Dabo Swinney, confirmation that the young stars on the Clemson roster will be heard from during the ACC season ... it may just be one win in the record books, but for Swinney (collecting arguably the biggest W of his Clemson tenure) it counts for an awful lot more than that.
WHAT AUBURN LOST: The streak, for starters, with whatever modicum of optimism remained regarding Ted Roof's defense right behind it. All of Auburn's realistic goals (bowl game, SEC West spoiler-dom, valuable experience for roster full of underclassmen) are still in play, but there's no longer any illusions: the Tigers will go as far as Auburn's offense will take them. And when that offense doesn't score a touchdown over the final 38:54, it can't take them very far.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 10:10 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris' arrival came with claims of 80 plays per game and hopes of Tulsa-like numbers. But the Tigers sputtered in the first half against Troy on Saturday, and entered halftime facing a 16-13 deficit. They turned things around in the second half, finishing with 468 total yards of offense and pulling away with a 43-19 victory. In order to pull off all of those plays, one of the keys is for the offense to be upbeat and productive with every single snap. But in speaking to the media on Monday, Morris made it clear he was not happy with their performance.
"The pace was not even close," Morris told the Charleston Post and Courier on Monday. That starts with our quarterback. I think you saw (Tajh Boyd) in the second half, when he picked our pace up, we started to play well. Again it goes back to you're having to remind these guys on the sideline between almost every possession, 'This is what we are doing…look at me on the sidelines.' It was almost like they were reverting back."
But Morris' concerns were not limited to Boyd's play under center. He also expressed extreme displeasure with the running game, explaining that "it's not close to where I want to be."
Two highlights for Tigers fans were the performances from true freshmen Sammy Watkins and Mike Bellamy. Bellamy only got to three touches, but he made the most of his first one - taking it 75 yards to the house for the game's first touchdown. Watkins, an equally dangerous speed threat at wide receiver, led all Tiger receivers with seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
But a victory is a victory, and Clemson will get another chance to right the ship on offense against FCS opponent Wofford on Saturday.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 8:54 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
When Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney brought in Chad Morris to be the program's new offensive coordinator, everyone suspected the change would result in a new fast-paced offense for the Tigers. The high-octane attack that Morris used at Tulsa in 2010 produced 1,006 plays across the season. That total not only would not only put them near the top of the ACC, but was also significantly higher than Clemson's 865 play count.
But that kind of attack requires top-notch conditioning by everyone on offense, particularly the offensive line. Clemson center Dalton Freeman is the new ring leader of an offensive line that will be expected to hustle down the field after every play, living little-to-no time between whistle and snap. Freeman explained that getting used to Morris' new system has not been easy.
"We've always been a no-huddle team, but it was a little bit sluggish, Freeman explained. "I'll say we were a little bit faster than a team that huddled up, but we were never real up-tempo real upbeat. Now as soon as the whistle blows the play dead, I'm running up to the ball getting down, and we're moving. Conditioning-wise we've had to be in a lot better shape. Going into camp we're gonna try to really stretch ourselves so that the game feels like slow motion."
Morris was hired shortly after the season ended in a disappointing bowl loss to South Florida. The transition from the old system to the high-stress work ethic they are planning for camp began when the team reported to spring practice.
"We started out in the spring pretty slow compared to where we got to at the end," Freeman recalled. When we started out, [Morris] said 'this is half speed' and I was like 'you gotta be kidding me, this is full speed.' So for us to be able to get to where we want to be we have to be in great shape. That's coming together."
Of course another big part of that offense's production will be reliant on the quarterback play. Sophomore Tajh Boyd emerged from spring practice as the starting quarterback, but his inconsistencies from 2010 have Tiger fans also keeping an eye on touted freshman Cole Stoudt. There will be pressure on Boyd to put up big numbers in the system early, which is unfortunate considering the Tigers' schedule. Clemson faces Auburn, Florida State, and faces Virginia Tech in Blacksburg all in the first month of the season. Those are three tough defenses to face, even if they weren't breaking in a new offense.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:11 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Since joining Louisville, Cardinals coach Charlie Strong has been aggressive on the recruiting trail when it comes to quarterbacks. First the second-year coach snagged highly-touted recruit Teddy Bridgewater from Miami before signing day, and on Thursday, he unofficially welcomed Missouri transfer Tyler Gabbert to the program.
Gabbert, the younger brother of the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, spent his freshman year with his brother at Missouri, but after losing the quarterback battle to James Franklin in spring practice, Gabbert opted to transfer in May.
Both Tyler and his older brother Blaine originally committed to Nebraska before changing their decision to Missouri. Former Cornhuskers offensive coordinator Shawn Watson (who recruited both brothers heavily while at Nebraska) is now the quarterbacks coach on Strong's staff. Gabbert's arrival gives Louisville a full stable of quarterbacks for 2012. While junior Will Stein will be the starting quarterback entering fall camp, Bridgewater has made it clear he will be ready whenever his name is called. Once Gabbert joins the duo next fall, Strong will have three different quarterbacks competing for snaps in 2012.
While some might argue that the position is too crowded, I can guarantee you a surplus of talent is not something that Louisville fans will be complaining about.