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Tag:Florida
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Mailbag: Should Dooley be on the hot seat?


Here is this week's mailbag. If you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.

  From @JackParMa Is Derek Dooley the right hire for Tennessee?

  I'm skeptical at this point but I honestly don't know. I don't think anyone can say with much certainty one way or the other. I realize one of my friends who grew up a diehard Vols fan, Clay Travis wrote the other day about Dooley on the hot seat, but I really think it's too soon for that. 

On paper, you wouldn't have expected a guy with Dooley's record at La. Tech to have been able to land the UT job in the first place. He had a 17-20 career record at La. Tech and didn't even have a winning record in the WAC. But he is what they could get at that time and he deserves a legit chance to make it work. He inherited a very unstable situation that had seen two dramatically different coaching regimes in the previous two seasons that had basically torn up the fan base.

Publicly, Dooley has said and done many of the kinds of things that UT fans would like to hear and see from their head coach off the field. The issue has been he's yet to have anything close to a win that would show that he can coach and he's the guy to lead this program back into the top 15. The Vols are just 3-7 in SEC play since he took over and those three wins were against UK, Vandy and Ole Miss, teams that went 4-20 in league play. They've lost to every good team they've faced. They've also had a bunch of double-digit losses in these games: losing by 35 to Oregon; 14 to UF; 27 to UGA; 31 to Bama; 14 to South Carolina and by 10 this year against a young UF team. They did give a scare to LSU though. Before Mike Hamilton left, he even softened up the non-conference schedule even more to give the Vols and Dooley (his hire) a better chance by dumping a solid UNC team for woeful Buffalo.

All that said, this is still a sophomore-dominated team and now it's one that has suffered two injuries to its two best players, WR Justin Hunter and QB Tyler Bray. It is still only year two for Dooley. The Vols should keep getting better and be much improved in 2012. The question though is, can Dooley actually get them from being a fringe top 25 team to what we expect the Vols to be? A big leap is going to have to take place at some point. Who knows if he can do that? The one thing I do think you can say is that given all of the chaos this program has gone through, pushing the reset button at this point would only lead to more chaos. And who knows how good of a coach they may be able to get this time around? It's not like you're going to get Urban Meyer to take this job right now. UT hired Dooley. The school needs to give him at least two more years before we can begin to figure out whether he is the right guy there.

From @jasonrub  Washington Huskies are 4-1, Keith Price 7th in passing efficiency, Chris Polk 16th in yards rushing. Can Sark keep this going?

Yes, and because of those two guys (Price and Polk) the Huskies have been consistently good, scoring at least 30 in each of their first five games. They have a decent chance to be a top 25 team this year. Things are going to keep getting better for U-Dub with Sarkisian there. He's got them on the upswing. He's proven he can win big games. He's proven he can recruit. He's got a good product that he believes in and can sell, and with the instability at UCLA and USC (and Cal and Arizona for that matter), it gives the LA native an even better run to recruit in Southern California. The stock is going up for Washington football. Way up.

From @Lexvegaskid  should strength of schedule be factored back into the BCS?

It really already is a big component via the human polls. The voters factor in which opponents teams beat (or lose to) basically in how they fill out their polls. It's certainly more subjective than it is in some computer formula too.

From @ABThatIsMe  Thoughts on Mike Glennon's performance thus far.All we hear ab as State fans is Russell Wilson but our qb is playing lights out

Glennon's numbers are good: 16 TDs, 4 INTs, 64 percent completion percentage although he wasn't as sharp in the games against even close-to-decent competition: Wake Forest, Cincy and Ga. Tech (7-4 TD-INT). NCSU is averaging 25 ppg against those three and 39 ppg against Liberty, South Alabama and CMU. The Pack has also taken a lot of sacks, ranking 107th in sacks allowed. Even if Wilson was there, I'm not sure they'd be be that much better. You never know. 


Their biggest problem is on defense, where they're 89th in scoring D and the schedule only gets tougher from here.

From @gnewburn What does Muschamp need to do to right the ship after UF's recent beatdowns?

Just keep recruiting to fit his system and continue to keep preaching disciple, focus and toughness. UF is 94th in turnover margin and near the bottom of the country in penalties--things almost no team can overcome, especially not a young team in such a brutal league. But a lot of this should've been expected.

I didn't get where people in the preseason saw this UF team as a top 20 bunch. They had to replace almost the entire O-line, didn't have a proven QB and had a very young secondary. They did have speed, but speed alone isn't going to make you an SEC title contender. 

From @TjzyChocChzy  When will the media start giving some real attention to who the next coach will be at Oh. St?

Huh? The media's been talking about it quite a bit for months. I wrote a detailed list of candidates, leading with Urban Meyer back in May. Actually, I first mentioned the possibility of Meyer going to Ohio State back in Dec., 2010.

The reality is Luke Fickell has the job and nothing is going to happen till the season wraps up. OSU wanted to be fair to him and to their players because this program has had more than its share of distractions over the past year. 

From @DavidLeake Fielding college football questions for the Friday mailbag.

Defense carries more weight than offense if you look at the teams that have won BCS titles, starting with the first one Tennessee. UT didn't win anything with the great Peyton Manning, but he left and they had a fierce D and they shut down FSU in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl. Two years later, OU had a great defense and held FSU to two points in the 2001 Orange Bowl. Miami's defense, led by the great Ed Reed, had more stars than any D perhaps in the history of the college game, destroying Nebraska the following season. USC had Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, but it was really the Trojans defense that took apart Oklahoma. Florida's defense de-railed Heisman winner Troy Smith and Ohio State, and that run of BCS titles the SEC has gone on has been predicated by dominating defensive linemen and fast defenses.

From @Kilo1899 Mailbag question: Halfway through the season, who is your coach of the year? Player of year? Freshman of year?

Coach of the Year: Dabo Swinney, Clemson.
  Player of the Year: Tyrann Mathieu, LSU.

Freshman of the Year: Sammy Watkins, Clemson, WR.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:48 pm
 

Mailbag: Should Dooley be on the hot seat?


Here is this week's mailbag. If you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.

  From @JackParMa Is Derek Dooley the right hire for Tennessee?

  I'm skeptical at this point but I honestly don't know. I don't think anyone can say with much certainty one way or the other. I realize one of my friends who grew up a diehard Vols fan, Clay Travis wrote the other day about Dooley on the hot seat, but I really think it's too soon for that. 

On paper, you wouldn't have expected a guy with Dooley's record at La. Tech to have been able to land the UT job in the first place. He had a 17-20 career record at La. Tech and didn't even have a winning record in the WAC. But he is what they could get at that time and he deserves a legit chance to make it work. He inherited a very unstable situation that had seen two dramatically different coaching regimes in the previous two seasons that had basically torn up the fan base.

Publicly, Dooley has said and done many of the kinds of things that UT fans would like to hear and see from their head coach off the field. The issue has been he's yet to have anything close to a win that would show that he can coach and he's the guy to lead this program back into the top 15. The Vols are just 3-7 in SEC play since he took over and those three wins were against UK, Vandy and Ole Miss, teams that went 4-20 in league play. They've lost to every good team they've faced. They've also had a bunch of double-digit losses in these games: losing by 35 to Oregon; 14 to UF; 27 to UGA; 31 to Bama; 14 to South Carolina and by 10 this year against a young UF team. They did give a scare to LSU though. Before Mike Hamilton left, he even softened up the non-conference schedule even more to give the Vols and Dooley (his hire) a better chance by dumping a solid UNC team for woeful Buffalo.

All that said, this is still a sophomore-dominated team and now it's one that has suffered two injuries to its two best players, WR Justin Hunter and QB Tyler Bray. It is still only year two for Dooley. The Vols should keep getting better and be much improved in 2012. The question though is, can Dooley actually get them from being a fringe top 25 team to what we expect the Vols to be? A big leap is going to have to take place at some point. Who knows if he can do that? The one thing I do think you can say is that given all of the chaos this program has gone through, pushing the reset button at this point would only lead to more chaos. And who knows how good of a coach they may be able to get this time around? It's not like you're going to get Urban Meyer to take this job right now. UT hired Dooley. The school needs to give him at least two more years before we can begin to figure out whether he is the right guy there.

From @jasonrub  Washington Huskies are 4-1, Keith Price 7th in passing efficiency, Chris Polk 16th in yards rushing. Can Sark keep this going?

Yes, and because of those two guys (Price and Polk) the Huskies have been consistently good, scoring at least 30 in each of their first five games. They have a decent chance to be a top 25 team this year. Things are going to keep getting better for U-Dub with Sarkisian there. He's got them on the upswing. He's proven he can win big games. He's proven he can recruit. He's got a good product that he believes in and can sell, and with the instability at UCLA and USC (and Cal and Arizona for that matter), it gives the LA native an even better run to recruit in Southern California. The stock is going up for Washington football. Way up.

From @Lexvegaskid  should strength of schedule be factored back into the BCS?

It really already is a big component via the human polls. The voters factor in which opponents teams beat (or lose to) basically in how they fill out their polls. It's certainly more subjective than it is in some computer formula too.

From @ABThatIsMe  Thoughts on Mike Glennon's performance thus far.All we hear ab as State fans is Russell Wilson but our qb is playing lights out

Glennon's numbers are good: 16 TDs, 4 INTs, 64 percent completion percentage although he wasn't as sharp in the games against even close-to-decent competition: Wake Forest, Cincy and Ga. Tech (7-4 TD-INT). NCSU is averaging 25 ppg against those three and 39 ppg against Liberty, South Alabama and CMU. The Pack has also taken a lot of sacks, ranking 107th in sacks allowed. Even if Wilson was there, I'm not sure they'd be be that much better. You never know. 


Their biggest problem is on defense, where they're 89th in scoring D and the schedule only gets tougher from here.

From @gnewburn What does Muschamp need to do to right the ship after UF's recent beatdowns?

Just keep recruiting to fit his system and continue to keep preaching disciple, focus and toughness. UF is 94th in turnover margin and near the bottom of the country in penalties--things almost no team can overcome, especially not a young team in such a brutal league. But a lot of this should've been expected.

I didn't get where people in the preseason saw this UF team as a top 20 bunch. They had to replace almost the entire O-line, didn't have a proven QB and had a very young secondary. They did have speed, but speed alone isn't going to make you an SEC title contender. 

From @TjzyChocChzy  When will the media start giving some real attention to who the next coach will be at Oh. St?

Huh? The media's been talking about it quite a bit for months. I wrote a detailed list of candidates, leading with Urban Meyer back in May. Actually, I first mentioned the possibility of Meyer going to Ohio State back in Dec., 2010.

The reality is Luke Fickell has the job and nothing is going to happen till the season wraps up. OSU wanted to be fair to him and to their players because this program has had more than its share of distractions over the past year. 

From @DavidLeake Fielding college football questions for the Friday mailbag. <more important for a championship team, offense or defense?

Defense carries more weight than offense if you look at the teams that have won BCS titles, starting with the first one Tennessee. UT didn't win anything with the great Peyton Manning, but he left and they had a fierce D and they shut down FSU in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl. Two years later, OU had a great defense and held FSU to two points in the 2001 Orange Bowl. Miami's defense, led by the great Ed Reed, had more stars than any D perhaps in the history of the college game, destroying Nebraska the following season. USC had Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, but it was really the Trojans defense that took apart Oklahoma. Florida's defense de-railed Heisman winner Troy Smith and Ohio State, and that run of BCS titles the SEC has gone on has been predicated by dominating defensive linemen and fast defenses.

From @Kilo1899 Mailbag question: Halfway through the season, who is your coach of the year? Player of year? Freshman of year?

Coach of the Year: Dabo Swinney, Clemson.
  Player of the Year: Tyrann Mathieu, LSU.

Freshman of the Year: Sammy Watkins, Clemson, WR.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:25 pm
 

The Mailbag returns: RG3's Heisman hopes

Before I joined CBS, I had a regular Friday mailbag each week. I'm resuming that here. Send your college football questions to me via Twitter @BFeldmanCBS.
 
From @GoBearsGo95 how many wins would Baylor need for RG3 to win the heisman.
 

Griffin has taken over my top spot in the too-early Heisman rankings after his spectacular first month, throwing 13 TDs and 0 INTs. The most impressive part is that he has actually thrown more touchdowns than incompletions (12). That is staggering. Even more jaw-dropping is that this is a guy who came to Baylor known primarily for his World Class speed, not is passing skills. There is no way, he can keep that ridiculous pace up, but given the way he lit up well-respected Gary Patterson's D on national TV in the opening week, Griffin has gotten off to the start he needs to at least get invited to NYC for the ceremony.

Then again, last year, around this same time, I didn't think Cam Newton could sustain his fantastic pace for a whole season, and he did. Not only that, Newton actually got better as the pressure increased. Newton, though, also had a better supporting cast and arguably the top impact defender on his team too (Nick Fairley). 

Baylor needs to win at least 10 games for Griffin to have any shot at overtaking Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore, who are established favorites by now. The Bears have four "national stage" kinds of games remaining: at Texas A&M, Oct. 15; at Oklahoma State, Oct. 29; Oklahoma, Nov. 19 and then against Texas, Dec. 3. I think Baylor needs to win at least three of those to really have a good chance to win it.


From @RealNick_OSU How do u think Ohio St will handle head coaching job over offseason assuming OSU loses a couple more games? Meyer?


Barring the Buckeyes running the table and going 13-1, I think it'll be tough for Luke Fickell to keep this job. I realize that is an incredibly high standard to accomplish, especially given the off-field circumstances, but with the prospect of Urban Meyer, a former OSU assistant who has won two BCS titles out there, if Ohio State can get him, they almost have to go for him. 


Meyer wrote about his affinity for the Buckeye coaching job in his book a few years ago. I suspect at some point the pull of getting back into coaching is going to be too strong. And plum jobs don't come open very often. Certainly not this sweet of a gig, especially for a guy who once coached there. I'll say this I have been very impressed by Meyer as a game analyst. He is insightful and way ahead of the game. I really thought he and Chris Spielman did a terrific job last week during the ND-Pitt game, but I still can't see him, as the competitor he is, not being too wired to get back in the mix. 

From @whetherPROOF chances UF knocks off Saban in the swamp saturday?
 
 

I'll give it 20 percent. Anytime you have blazing speed, like the Gators do, and a talented D-line, like the Gators do, you have a shot. The problem is Alabama's D is so much bigger, more physical and well-coached than anything else UF has seen so far. I don't see UF being able to exploit mismatches the way they could in past games this year. Also, the Tide's O-line is very good and should be able to provide room for Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy and the big-game experience will pay off for Bama here.

From @andrewltyler Will Texas Tech's streak of bowl games attended be coming to an end this year?

Nope, look for Tech to go bowling again. The Red Raiders really don't play anyone of note till Oct. 8 vs. Texas A&M, but these wins still count. Seth Doege is a good QB and he has some pretty good weapons around him. Assuming they win at KU, which I suspect they will, they just need to find two more Ws and I think they can get that with home games against Iowa State, K-State and Baylor in Arlington.


From @2xQuickDJ  if UW QB Price wins at Utah, does the national press start looking N of Palo Alto?

I like Keith Price a lot. He is playing better than I believe many expected he would, although when I spoke to Steve Sarkisian in August, he was very, very high on him.

Quite frankly, the national media really isn't focused on Washington, though. Losing at Nebraska, 51-38 didn't help and wining at unranked Utah won't really help change that. Now, about a month from today, U-Dub plays at Stanford, if the Huskies can win there, that will get people's attention around the country.
 

From @gregbranscum Is Mike Leach interested in UK if a coaching change should happen?

For starters, I don't see UK coming open any time soon. Joker Phillips just took over. He got UK to a bowl game in year one. The 2010 season wasn't a disaster. Remember this is still a Kentucky program that has averaged five wins over the past 10 years. They're 2-2 with an outside shot to qualify for a bowl game again. Even if they don't go bowling, you have to give the guy at least four years unless it is a complete disaster with issues on and off the field. There are going to be growing pains especially when you have a first-time head coach learning at a high level.
  As for Leach, I know his family really liked Lexington, but as I said, I don't see this job coming open in 2011.

From @Jon_Roser  is Memphis the worst team ever?

Wow, does it feel like things are that awful in Memphis that it has come to this? Well, I guess so. Although Howard Schnellenberger's final season at FAU might produce an even worse squad. The Owls are 0-3, but in fairness they have faced three good teams and only lost 30-14 at Auburn after trailing just 10-6 at halftime. They are at the bottom or almost at the bottom in rushing offense, passing offense and scoring. They aren't too much better on D either (112th). But at least now their schedule eases up quite  a bit.

Other teams Memphis is rivaling in futility:  New Mexico State 2005: 0-12 although the Aggies lost one in double OT to Idaho and fell by three to Utah State in the finale. 

FIU 2006 (0-12): The year before Mario Cristobal arrived, FIU scored 23 points over the final six games, but they did lose their first two games by one point each and dropped a 7 OT game to North Texas. They were a TD underdog or less in  five games and ended up losing four of those by double-digits  and three by 25 or more. 

But my pick for the worst of recent history is Temple, 2005 (0-11). The Owls lost games by 65 (Wisconsin); 63 (Bowling Green); and 48 (UVa). Aside from a 3-point loss to WMU, the Owls didn't come within 20 of any other opponent. 

This Memphis team has looked terrible and Larry Porter is presiding over one of those "disasters" I spoke about above. To lose by 44 at Arkansas State, not Arkansas, but Arkansas State is disturbing. It's one thing for a young coach to go 1-11, as it seems like this team will do again, but it's another to get blown out of the building. The defense has been really bad and their offense has been so much worse than that.

Short of them winning against UAB in mid-November, I don't see anything better than 1-11 although by that game my hunch is Porter probably won't be coaching the Tigers any more.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 8:11 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:20 am
 

Daily Surf Report: Great hotel discounts?

South Carolina could be in very serious trouble in the wake of the NCAA charging that numerous South Carolina athletes and prospects received $55,000 in improper benefits from boosters, according to a notice of allegations sent to the university on Monday. School president Harris Pastides said the school takes the allegations "very seriously," reports Jeff Hartsell. The boosters involved -- called "representatives of the school's athletic interests" by the NCAA -- have been disassociated from the school.

South Carolina has until Dec. 14 to respond to the allegations, which occurred from May 2009 through February 2011. The case could go before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions next February, with football coach Steve Spurrier asked by the NCAA to attend. The allegations are "considered to be potential major violations," the NCAA notice said. USC could be subject to more stringent penalties because of violations under former football coach Lou Holtz in a case decided in November 2005, within the five-year window for "repeat violator" status.

"The University will review the notice and respond accordingly. I assure you that we will continue to take all aspects of this investigation very seriously," Pastides said in a statement. "We are prepared to continue to work with the NCAA to resolve any issues."


The latest allegations stem from two cases, one involving the Whitney Hotel in Columbia and the other the Student-Athlete Mentoring Foundation, a Delaware group that "provides supplementary support to high school student-athletes," according to its website. The NCAA charged USC with a "failure to monitor" in both situations. In the Whitney Hotel case, the NCAA says 10 football players and two women's track athletes paid "reduced rents" to live there in 2009 and 2010. The football players paid $14.59 per day or about $450 per month, the NCAA said, resulting in improper benefits of as much as $19,280 for one player and $16,940 for another. The Associated Press reported that the NCAA deemed the rate should have been $57 per day for a total of $1,710 per month.

One of the athletes involved is touted freshman WR Damiere Byrd, who is currently serving a four-game NCAA suspension. The timing of this case will drag on past signing day in February and given the dollar values involved it will be quite a headache for the school.

*A defiant John Marinatto, the Big East commissioner, said Monday night that he was confident the league would emerge stronger from the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference over the weekend, writes Pete Thamel.

Marinatto said in a telephone interview that he planned to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to their 27-month contractual exit obligations, meaning that they would not be able to leave the Big East until June 2014.
 

Marinatto also echoed the disappointment of his peers around the Big East that A.C.C. officials like Commissioner John Swofford and Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo had openly speculated about playing the league’s postseason basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden. The Big East holds a contract with the Garden for its basketball tournament through 2016 and has played the tournament there since 1983.


“We have a track record of coming out stronger than we did before,” Marinatto said, referring the A.C.C.’s raid of three Big East teams in 2003. “We may even hold the opening round of our basketball tournament in Greensboro,” a frequent site of the A.C.C. tournament, he said in jest.

*Speaking of conference realignment, despite what you may have read or heard, Texas and the Pac-121 are “nowhere near any agreement,” reports Jon Wilner.

For one thing, the Longhorn Network would have to be folded into the Pac-12 regional model — it wouldn’t exist as a separate entity.
 

What’s more, there is no chance that any school will have more than 1/16th of the revenue, whether it comes from the conference’s first, second or third-tier rights. NO CHANCE. We’re more likely to see USC give up football and join the Big West. Remember, the Pac-12 CEOs would like to have Texas, but they are not desperate to have Texas.



*Tennessee coach Derek Dooley didn’t sugarcoat the loss of Justin Hunter on Monday in his first public comments since the star receiver’s season was officially ended by torn anterior and medial cruciate ligaments, and the Vols coach made clear his attack would look different moving forward, writes Austin Ward.

The Vols already have an idea who will be involved on the Committee for Offensive Change, starting with the other standout receiver in Da’Rick Rogers and including another veteran target in Zach Rogers.
 

But without Hunter, the Vols are likely going to have to lean more heavily on the running game, putting pressure on tailback Tauren Poole and maybe expanding the roles of freshmen like Marlin Lane and Tom Smith. The Vols also need other options in the passing game, which brings in two more two freshmen to audition for work in DeAnthony Arnett and Vincent Dallas.


Hunter's ability to challenge defenses downfield was huge, especially for such a young offense with issues on a very green O-line as it gets into the teeth of the SEC schedule.

*Penn State is off to a shaky offensive start and Bob Flounders has some telling stats, including the number of catches by PSU No. 3 wideout Shawney Kersey in three games (two). 

The Lions frequently use multiple-receiver sets but the QBs are locking in on Derek Moye and Justin Brown. Kersey is plenty fast, but what good is all that speed if the Lions don't use it?

Incidentally, the Nittany Lions are one of just three teams in FBS who have played three games and still haven't thrown a TD pass, joining UCF and San Jose State. 

*More stats talk: Even though Nebraska's defense, three games into the season, ranks 61st nationally in rushing defense, 66th in scoring defense, 67th in total defense and 78th in pass defense, Bo Pelini isn't worried about the numbers, reports Brian Rosenthal.

"It's why they put 'Coach' in front of our name," Pelini said. "You don't panic, you don't sit there. You look at it for what it is, and you work to get it fixed. That's what I've learned over a long period of time. You don't make rash adjustments. You do hold guys accountable. But you don't chuck what you do, because you know what you're doing works, and you've got to trust in that."   . . . Overall, Pelini's biggest concerns involve playing with correct technique, communicating and adjusting. Many times Saturday, not everybody was on the same page, resulting in players being put in bad situations, he said.

*Just what Pac-12 defenses needed to hear: Oregon has another weapon emerging in tight end Colt Lyerla, a speedy 6-foot-5, 225-pound five-star recruit whol has three catches this season — all for touchdowns. With two new starting receivers entering this season, QB Darron Thomas said defenses have been focusing on stopping David Paulson in the passing game, writes Adam Jude.
“But it’s going to open up,” Thomas said, “and he’s going to get some balls.”

 *Well-travelled former Florida linebacker Chris Martin has left Navarro College to go to City College and be closer to his ailing mother, reports Tomas Verde. Martin, a former top recruit, bounced to three high schools, originally committed to Notre Dame, then to Florida, then signed with Cal, but soon bolted for UF because there were too many distractions at Cal. He eventually left UF for junior college in Texas.

 
Posted on: September 16, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Daily Surf Report: Young Vols ready for Swamp?


This weekend will separate some of the pretenders from the contenders. One of those teams I'm most curious about are the young Tennessee Vols, who have piled up points in their first two games, albeit against suspect competition. On Saturday, they face another intriguing team that has polished off some inferior opponents, Florida and the Vols will enter very hostile territory in The Swamp.

I spoke to Vols OC Jim Chaney on Wednesday to get a better sense of UT. Chaney, who has helped groom several NFL QBs from his days at Purdue, said about a month ago sophomore QB Tyler Bray seemed to get locked in. Something clicked with Bray, where he understood "I need to get totally invested." "Up till then, he was playing quarterback and now he gets that there's more to it than just saying 'set - hike'," Chaney explained. "He understands the position."

While Bray may not quite have the same arm strength, Chaney compares the young QB's laid-back demeanor to former Purdue standout Kyle Orton. Bray also has really good football instincts, Chaney said. On top of that the 6-6 Californian has the luxury of playing with two outstanding young WRs, Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers.

Chaney admitted he is concerned about the Vols ground game ("We can't run the ball") and how his still-green O-line will do against a pretty fierce group of Gator defensive linemen on the road. "Whenever something changes in front of them (the Vols sophomore-dominated OL), it's like the whole world changes," he said. Obviously, expect UF to do a lot of that shifting and disguise to try and confuse an inexperienced bunch. Also, keep in mind Bray's two road starts were at Memphis and Vandy. This is a whole different deal

Asked what he's most curious to find out Saturday Chaney said: "I want to see how they handle things when the lights come on--are they gonna be able to slow down and think?" Then again, the Gators have a lot of inexperience too. Will Muschamp's got a young secondary trying to cope with the UT passing attack, but he has a pretty good answer, writes Rachel George.

"We need to get pressure with four guys rushing," the Gators' coach said this week. "That's the best pass defense in America."


*I was impressed by LSU Thursday night handling Miss State on the road. I don't know how you couldn't be wowed by this LSU D. They completely short-circuited a dangerous Oregon offense in the opener, keeping the Ducks from having a single 20-yard play the whole night. Against, MSU, they completely bottled up a very talented back in Vick Ballard and suffocated a good running team. 

The Tigers may not have Patrick Peterson or Drake Nevis, but they come at you in waves. They just don't have 11 guys. They have about 20 that come after you, and it almost looks like all 20 are out there on the field at the same time.  They had a whopping 15 TFLs. Bennie Logan had 3.5. Michael Brockers had three. Freshman stud Anthony Johnson had two. Kiki Mingo had one. Tyrann Mathieu had one And so on.

Jarrett Lee was solid on the road and did a lot more good than bad. Aside from one late pick, he was very sharp and efficient. They can compete for a BCS title with that kind of performance, especially since Spencer Ware and Michael Ford run so hard. *With six straight games now scoring under 30 points (counting Arizona, Oregon State, Notre Dame and UCLA to finish last season), USC is approaching the record of eight games in a row under 30 points last chalked up in the 1984-85 seasons under Ted Tollner for teams that finished 9-3 and 6-6, writes Dan Weber of USCFootball.com.

*UCF and FIU have more at stake than undefeated records when the two up-and-coming teams clash Saturday night in Miami, writes Brendan Sonnone. Namely recruiting pull.

"FIU is in the same place UCF was a couple years ago," Miami Central coach Telly Lockette said. "They're starting to get the marquee guys now in Dade and Broward counties. It won't be long until they're a household name."

With both rising programs eager to keep signing South Florida athletes, Saturday's matchup could have a significant impact on the schools' reputations on the recruiting trail.

"There's definitely a little bit of status [for UCF] to lose," Florida-based recruiting analyst Corey Long said. "They have a nice space down in Miami now. Kids know about them down there. If they go down there to FIU and lose, [players] start wondering, FIU might be where I need to go. It's definitely one that under-the-radar prospects will be looking at real closely."

*One program has a coach on the hot seat. The other program, the one the blue-chipper is committed to, has a coach dealing with a huge NCAA investigation. Will UGA be able to flip the commitment of Miami LB recruit Raphael Kirby, Michael Carvell asks.

The 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker from Stephenson High School will make an unofficial visit to UGA for Saturday’s game against Coastal Carolina.

Kirby made the decision to take the last-minute recruiting trip after talking with UGA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner on Thursday night.

“We had a long conversation and Coach Garner said he wanted me to come up for a visit soon; I told him that I’m not really doing anything this weekend, so I’m going on Saturday,” Kirby told the AJC.

*Kirk Cousins is one the real class acts in college sports. He really is as impressive as they come whenever he speaks, to either a group of people, his peers or the media, as you get a sense of in this take, via Joe Rexrode when he talks about embattled Notre Dame CB Gary Gray, who Michigan State faces Saturday.
“I view them as the first three quarters," Kirk Cousins said. "I don’t pay a lot of attention to the fourth quarter. I think a couple of those balls, if No. 4 turns his back around it’s an interception. So it’s great for Michigan to win the game but I don’t view it a whole lot as their defense is terrible and Michigan’s offense is amazing. I view it as, if that guy turns around, the game’s over long ago. So I expect them to be a very, very tough defense.”

No. 4, by the way, is senior cornerback Gary Gray. He's getting the Jaren Hayes treatment, circa 2004, in South Bend. Reporters are coming up just short of asking Brian Kelly if he plans to sit Gray in the corner for a two-week timeout. Here's what Kelly said Tuesday about Gray:

"It's unfortunate that people look at that one position because it's not just Gary Gray that we put this loss on," Kelly said. "There's a lot of situations. If we don't turn the ball over, Gary Gray's name is not even brought up. Gary is going to be fine. He's a senior. He'll bounce back. He had a great game last year against Michigan State, and he's been really solid for us. So we need Gary Gray to come up and play good football this weekend against Michigan State."

Cousins obviously saw the Gray mistakes and is aware of the criticism, but he's not looking at Gray like a weak link. Really, he isn't. “It’s unfortunate for him, I think he’s a very, very good corner," Cousins said of Gray. "He’s played a lot of football for them. So when you’ve played that long, I feel like he’s gonna be ready. And obviously he had an off night last week, but he’s right in position. It’s not like he’s getting beat deep. I mean he’s right there to make the play, so that shows he’s in position and has the athleticism to cover people, and I think it’s probably a little undeserved criticism on his end. And I expect him to come back this week and play at a much higher level. So I don’t think it’s something where we’re saying, ‘Let’s pick on him, we think he’s weak.’ I think that across the board they’re a much better defense than maybe that last quarter showed against Michigan.”
Posted on: September 14, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 3:21 pm
 

Morning Surf Report: More Ohio St. booster news?

*A Cleveland-area businessman and Ohio State booster accepts responsibility for the payments that three football players received while attending a fundraiser staged by a charity led by his son-in-law, reports Randy Ludlow.

 
Though stopping short of saying he provided the $200 cash payments, Robert “Bobby” DiGeronimo confirmed to The Dispatch that he played a pivotal role in the payments that led to the players’ suspensions for violations of NCAA rules. Running back Jordan Hall, cornerback Travis Howard and defensive back Corey Brown were suspended for Ohio State’s wins over Akron and Toledo before they were reinstated yesterday by the NCAA for Saturday’s game at the University of Miami.

...DiGeronimo confirmed reports to The Dispatch that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor gave the cash envelopes to his three teammates. DiGeronimo said the money was intended as reimbursement for travel expenses.

As a few other people I follow on Twitter pointed out, the booster claims the Pryor paid teammates $200 apiece but did not take any money himself, which seems like an interesting detail.

*Tennessee pulled quite a coup snagging blue-chip LB Curt Maggitt out of South Florida from a program with deep ties to UF. Maggitt isn't allowed to speak to the media, but Maggitt's dad explained to Jason Lieser that his son was turned off by the Gators recent history of player arrests and he got bad vibes from a guy he thought was UF's new DC Dan Quinn.
 

“It was several things,” Roosevelt Maggitt said. “The No. 1 reason was we evaluated UF’s history. I see guys get up there and then they get pulled over for nonsense. I didn’t want Curt to be involved in that. As a father to Curtis, I gave Curt my opinion that Tennessee was really the right school. After meeting with the head coach and a lot of coaches, we decided that would be the best thing for Curtis.”

Regarding Quinn, his irritation might be misdirected. He said Quinn bothered him by resting his foot on a coffee table at his home, but a spokesperson for Florida said today that Quinn never went to the Maggitts’ residence. It might have been a different Gators assistant.

“I didn’t get good vibes from him,” he said. “He kind of disrespected my house. Any time a man puts his shoe on your table, that ain’t no good. That didn’t show respect for my house.”

*After showing they could contain Matt Barkley and USC's passing attack, Utah's secondary should be able to deal with BYU QB Jake Heaps this week, writes Lya Wodraska.

*The Auburn-Clemson game has a few compelling subplots. One of the biggest is about the two former prolific high school coaching buddies now running both teams offenses, Chad Morris for Clemson and Gus Malzahn for Auburn. Evan Woodbery examines their connection.
  The story starts in Stephenville, Texas, a West Texas city roughly halfway between Dallas and Abilene. The pressure of college football is intense, but it might not compare to what Morris endured after his first year there. Stephenville was accustomed not just to winning, but to winning state championships. Every year. Art Briles had just left and was on his way to a successful college career. So when Morris failed to make the playoffs his first year, the response was not enthusiastic. 

"There weren't a whole lot of Christmas parties I was invited to that year," he said. This was 2003, and Morris sensed football was evolving and he needed to try something bold. 

"I knew there something out there on the cutting edge," Morris said. "There had to be something out there. The game of football was changing."

Morris and his staff flew to Arkansas (twice) to watch Malzahn's teams in action.  Malzahn wasn't sure about his new admirer ("He was real apprehensive") but Morris eventually impressed him with his persistence and sincerity.

"If you know Gus, Gus is pretty close to his chest with things," Morris said. "It took the fact of me saying, 'Coach, I need some help. I want to learn what you're doing.' And after a while he told me, 'I'm not going to tell you what I'm doing, but I'm going to give you ideas.'"

The ideas clicked for Morris and led him from Stephenville to Lake Travis High (another Texas powerhouse) and eventually to Tulsa, where he was hired at Malzhan's urging and led the Golden Hurricane to the nation's fifth-most prolific offense.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 1:05 am
 

Tuesday Top 10: Most exciting players in college

For those of you who had read my old blog, you probably remember some of the staples. One of them was the weekly Top 10 list. This week's version: The 10 most exciting players in college football.


1-Denard Robinson, Michigan, QB: He was spectacular last year, shouldering a staggering amount of the Wolverines offense in 2010. The offense has been revamped with the coaching change in Ann Arbor, but Robinson he proved, once again, how spectacular he is when he sparked Michigan's dramatic comeback against Notre Dame last week. In that frenetic rally, Robinson accounted for a mind-boggling 226 of his team's 229 yards in the fourth quarter. As amazing as that was, we have come to expect the spectacular from him. And this is why he is 'Must-See' TV no matter who the Wolverines play.


2-T.Y. Hilton, FIU, WR-KR: No longer the best-kept secret in college football, Hilton, who almost signed with WVU, promised that he'd 'take one to the house' the first time he touched a ball in a college game (he did) and he's been making big plays for the Panthers ever since. Just ask Louisville or anyone watching their Friday night game about this guy's burst. Hilton made a team from a much bigger conference look like they were high schoolers as he blew past them.


3-De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon, RB: Chip Kelly's big get out of Southern California has been a big name in L.A. football for years on the prep scene. Thomas had a rocky debut against LSU, but bounced back in remarkable fashion, burning Nevada for two plays of 60-plus yards in Week 2. I know that LaMichael James and Cliff Harris have done more, but it's Thomas and his blazing speed and dizzying moves who is generating some buzz as we just begin to get a sense of what he is capable of and how he'll be used there. He is going to be a scary weapon in Kelly's offense for the next few seasons.


4-David Wilson, Va. Tech, RB-KR: An NCAA All-American in track as a triple jumper, Wilson isn't just a little speed back. He's a 205-pound headache for rival defenses, having broken, by VT coaches account, 29 tackles in two games while rolling up 300 rushing yards. (I'll have much more on Wilson and Tech in the blog on Wednesday.)


5-Vontaze Burfict, ASU, LB: Arguably the hardest-hitter in college football, Burfict's battle to straddle the edge has been fascinating the past few years. He and his teammates have been prone to being self-destructive, but there have been some signs of maturation. Thus far this season, he already has four sacks in two games.


6-Justin Blackmon, OK State, WR: Not the fastest receiver, the 6-1, 215-pound Blackmon plays even bigger than his frame would indicate. A former high school basketball star, he is in the mold of Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant and just makes plays and big catches and looks unstoppable, toying with smaller DBs. His numbers in 2010 were fantastic: 111 catches, 1,782 yards and 20 TDs.


7-Lamar Miller, Miami, RB-KR: A decorated prep sprinter, Miller doesn't look like he's slowed down since muscling up to 216 pounds this offseason. He was a blur when he bolted through the Maryland defense for a 41-yard touchdown run in UM's opener. In the past year, Miller has learned to be more than just a speed back, becoming more patient as a runner since he now knows he'll get plenty of carries and doesn't feel like he has to hit a home run every time he touches the ball. He's also a dangerous kick returner and is #3 in the nation in all-purpose yards per game at 222.


8-Greg Reid, FSU, CB: A little guy who packs a wallop, as South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore learned in the bowl game last year when the 5-8, 186-pound DB blasted the 235-pound back. Reid picked off three passes last season and was one of the ACC's best return guys too.


9-Kendall Wright, Baylor, WR: Robert Griffin is Baylor's Heisman contender, but Wright is his go-to guy and quite a spark. The 5-10, 190-pounder who has the frame of a tailback and sports a 42-inch vertical, ate up Gary Patterson's TCU D in the opener for 12 catches and 189 yards and two TDs. The former Bears basketball player, a high school QB, also connected on 2-2 for 55 yards as a passer with one TD throw.


10-Chris Rainey, Florida, RB: I was tempted to go with Tennessee's freakish young 6-5 wideout Justin Hunter here, but I'll go with Charlie Weis' new toy. Rainey and his buddy Jeff Demps give the new Gator OC more speed than he's ever had to work with. In two weeks against a pair of overmatched opponents, Rainey is averaging over 7.3 ypc and 99 rush yards per game.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Morning Surf Report: Brian Kelly's turnover

It has been a very rough first two weeks of the season for Brian Kelly. The Irish, a team many figured would be a BCS bowl team, are 0-2 and have been plagued by some self-destructive moves. The ND head coach didn't do himself any favors in the wake of the team's meltdown against Michigan when he  said a challenging early season schedule has only made the mistakes more difficult to overcome.

“We’ve made so many mistakes against two pretty tough teams coming out,” Kelly told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Again, as you see the schedule, Ohio State is playing Toledo. I mean, teams are playing easy games early on in the schedule. We don’t get that luxury. We have to go play in front of 115,000 [at Michigan Stadium]. Those mistakes are more glaring against opponents that are physically pretty good, as well.

“I believe that we’re going to be a good football team. We won’t be until we clean up the little things that keep popping up on Saturdays.”

I agree with colleague Tom Fornelli who said: "Why Kelly felt the need to take a shot at Ohio State's early season schedule, I'm not sure. What's further confusing about it is that Kelly is also taking a veiled shot at Toledo, a school that gave Ohio State just about all it could handle on Saturday, and one of the best members of the MAC conference which is exactly where Kelly helped make a name for himself coaching at Central Michigan. It was hardly an "easy game" for the Buckeyes."

Bringing up a specific school doesn't seem like a move Kelly should've made. He ends up taking a shot at two programs when he didn't needed to take any. You're at Notre Dame. You're not supposed to lament these kinds of things. Certainly not publicly. When he was coaching at Cincy, his teams played the Eastern Kentuckys and Southeast Missouri States. He took the ND job knowing all of this. The Irish also do benefit from a pretty sweet BCS bowl relationship that affords them a different status than most other programs. Besides, Toledo, which has 17 starters back, is a solid FBS program. They have several players, including standout WR Eric Page, could start any most AQ conference programs.


*Legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden revealed to the USA Today that he was treated for prostate cancer in the spring of 2007.  He initially guarded his medical history for fear opponents would try to use the knowledge against FSU in recruiting. Just when you think the world of recruiting sounds about as crazy as it can get, you hear something like that.
"I did not understand the significance of prostate cancer back then," Bowden said in an interview with USA TODAY . "What I knew was when something like that happens to a coach and your opponents find out about it, the first thing they say is 'Don't go to Florida State, Coach Bowden is about to die.'

"If I knew then what I know now, I would have considered it my moral duty to bring it out in the open. I thought it was the right thing to do then, but that's not the message now."



*Rick Neuheisel says he will no longer doing those post-game victory/loss speeches at the microphone following games at the Rose Bowl. I remember being at the Rose Bowl the night an undermanned Bruin team upset a ranked Tennessee squad. Neuheisel grabbed the mic and turned the place into a de facto pep rally. It seemed like the Bruin program was destined for greatness that night and yet it just hasn't materialized. It's certainly not for the coach's ability to work a crowd. According to Jon Gold, Neuheisel said he thought they had become a ''distraction'' and all about him and not about the team. He said he went to administrators, talked about it and they came to the same conclusion. Who is this guy and what has he done with Rick Neuheisel?
*North Carolina schools are having a very hard time keeping many of the state's best players at home, reports Tim Stevens.

*Florida linebacker Dee Finley was arrested on Monday afternoon after being pulled over on campus.

He is charged with resisting an officer with violence, a third-degree felony, and a second offense of driving with a suspended license.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Finley is the sixth different UF player to be arrested since January and it is the seventh arrest Muschamp has dealt with in his short tenure.  
*Touching story about how Vandy coach James Franklin provided Andrew Kittrell, an 11-year-old born without a leg with an unforgettable experience.
 


Last week, Franklin called, Andrew's father, Michael, and invited Andrew to spend a gameday with the team when the Commodores played UConn. While some coaches may shy away from what could be viewed as a distraction to the team, Franklin embraced the opportunity to reach out to others just as he has so many times before during his short tenure at Vanderbilt. 

"It is one of those things, again, where you reach out to the community and although we are football coaches and we are brought here to educate our guys and to win," Franklin said, "I also talk to the players that not only are we going to handle our business on the field, but also when we are going to have opportunities to make an impact in other people's lives, we should be able to do both." 


After his phone conversation with Coach Franklin, Michael relayed the exciting news to his son, who couldn't believe the chance he had been afforded. "Coach called my dad and my dad surprised me," Andrew said. "I had no clue and I about fainted when my dad told me what happened." 


On Saturday, Andrew walked side-by-side with Franklin through Dore Alley Walk, spent time talking with the head coach in his office before the game and ran out of the tunnel with the team. After the team wrapped up a 24-21 win, Andrew joined Franklin one last time for his postgame interviews. The entire experience left an indelible mark on Andrew.   


Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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