Posted on: August 25, 2009 11:55 am
Edited on: August 25, 2009 1:40 pm
What kind of world are we living in when Michigan is playing three quarterbacks and Nebraska is running out of tailbacks?
Rich Rodriguez revealed over the weekend that he is going to play Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson and Nick Sheridan in the opener against Western Michigan. That's not a depth chart, it's checking line for Red Berenson. It's also a slap to the Broncos who come into the Big House with more than an even chance of winning. I know this: right now, Western Michigan has a better offense than Michigan.
Please don't argue that point because you will be wrong.
They say if you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterbacks. So what happens when you have three, gene-splicing?
Meanwhile at Nebraska, backup tailback Quentin Castille has been kicked off the team for a violation of team rules. That news came on the same day that former tailback Thunder Collins was convicted of murder.
Some quick research showed that there was a small window there in the late 90s when Nebraska actually didn't have a future inmate at tailback. Lawrence Phillips last played in 1995. Collins arrived in 2000. Things are getting better. It took until 2009 for Castille to smoke/drink/flunk (pick one or all) his way off the team.
(I'm going to be nice and not mention that Collins and Phillips were both convicted this month, roughly within two weeks of each other. What serendipity.)
This solidifies my pick of Kansas as the Big 12 North winner. Nebraska has now lost its backup tailback and quarterback. Florida or USC can deal with those type of situations. Nebraska? One outright Big 12 North title since 1999.
Please note that Michigan and Nebraska are not only hurting, they are hurting at their signature glamor positions. They've chosen to express that lack of depth in different ways.
Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:36 pm
We're all Heisman candidates in June. Mom, dad, the plumber, the cat. Well, maybe not the cat.
1. Colt McCoy, Texas -- It's his time. Among the Three Amigos, it's his turn.
The others -- Arrelious Benn, Illinois; Eric Berry, Tennessee; Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas; Daryll Clark, Penn State; Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame; Aaron Corp, USC; Noel Devine, West Virginia; A.J. Green, Georgia; Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma; Max Hall, BYU; Greg Hardy, Ole Miss; Tim Hiller, Western Michigan; Jerry Hughes, TCU; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada; Julio Jones, Alabama; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan; MiQuale Lewis, Ball State; Jake Locker, Washington; Taylor Mays, USC; Kellen Moore, Boise State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State; Todd Reesing, Kansas; Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State; Charles Scott, LSU; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; The Kobe and LeBron puppets; Zach Galifianakis; Conan O'Brien; Lassie; David Letterman; Iron Man; Alex Trebek, Tina Fey, shall I go on?
Bednarik/Nagurski Award (best defensive player): Jerry Hughes, TCU
Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
Broyles Award (best assistant coach): John Chavis, LSU defensive coordinator
Groza Award (best kicker): Kai Forbath, UCLA
Ray Guy Award (best punter): Derek Epperson, Baylor
Lombardi Award (best lineman): Greg Hardy, Ole Miss
Mackey Award (best tight end): Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback): Colt McCoy, Texas.
Butkus Award (best linebacker): Brandon Spikes, Florida
Outland Trophy (best interior lineman): Ciron Black, LSU
Rimington Trophy (best center): Kristofer O'Dowd, USC
Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year): Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Eric Berry, Tennessee
Doak Walker Award (best running back): Jahvid Best, Cal
Tags: Alabama, Ball State, Baylor, Boise State, BYU, Cal, Central Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Kansas, LSU, Nevada, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma state, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Penn State, TCU, TCU, Tennessee, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, USC, Washington, West Virginia, Western Michigan
Posted on: May 21, 2009 10:54 am
Four wins over Big Ten teams. A 12-win team ranked in the top 12. Five bowl teams.
It will be hard to replicate the MAC's 2008 season. Even with all that success, five schools had to replace their coaches. Included in that group is 2008 (almost) BCS buster Ball State. Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo also changed coaches.
The storylines are overflowing again in 2009. It's almost guaranteed to be another record-breaking year. Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour and Western Michigan's Tim Hiller are both chasing MAC career yardage and touchdown records. The baby Bulls of Buffalo enter their 11th year in I-A as defending MAC champs.
How the mighty MAC stacks up in '09 ...
1. Temple -- What? Temple? Call me crazy but this is the Owls' time. They lost three games on the last play and were within a Hail Mary against Buffalo from winning the division last season.
Coming off a second-place finish and its most wins (five) in 18 years, Temple returns 21 players who started a game. Coach Al Golden has to find a new quarterback but redshirt junior Vaughn Charlton and redshirt sophomore Chester Stewart have experience.
If Golden, a former Penn State assistant, is going to replace Joe Paterno (someday), he'll have to win a conference title and go to a bowl. He might do both this season.
2. Akron -- J.D. Brookhart won a MAC title in 2005, his first season after leaving Pittsburgh. He hasn't had winning season since.
Either the Zips contend for the East this season or big changes might be coming. Akron has a new stadium, a new offensive coordinator (former Miami coach Shane Montgomery) and a powerful offense.
The defense was horrid (90th or worse in total defense, scoring defense, sacks and tackles for loss), but defensive tackle Almondo Sewell is one of the league's best players. Third-year starting quarterback Chris Jacquemain will play behind four returning starters in the offensive line.
3. Bowling Green -- Dave Clawson at Tennessee was a bad fit, sort of like Rosie O'Donnell in the Miss America pageant. It wasn't going to work from the start.
Fortunately, being part of the train wreck of Phillip Fulmer's final season didn't sully Clawson's rep. Bowling Green was lucky to get this offensive mind on the rebound. Clawson inherits the league's most accurate passer Tyler Sheehan (66.8 percent, 20 touchdowns). That's a good place to start for the Falcons who won six and finished second in the East last season.
4. Buffalo -- That crash you heard was the Bulls falling back to earth. Lost in the gushing about coach Turner Gill was that his defense gave up the second-most points in the league. Gill had to almost totally rely on an offense winning four games by six or less.
Quarterback Drew Willy (3,304 passing yards) is being replaced by sophomore Zach Maynard (three attempts in '08). Three starters must be replaced on the offensive line.
In a good year, Buffalo is a tough project. It might never get as good for Gill as it was in 2008. Don't forget the Bulls did lose six last season.
5. Ohio -- It's been a hard slog for Frank Solich since winning the East in 2006. The Bobcats are 10-14 since then. At least Solich has a choice at quarterback. Seniors Boo Jackson (school-record 19 touchdowns) and Theo Scott (one before being injured) will continue to battle in the fall.
The Bobcats were terrible in turnover ratio while giving up almost four touchdowns per game. If Ohio is going to a bowl, it's going to be on Jackson and/or Scott. Both are dual threats.
6. Kent State -- Golden Flashes everywhere are hoping that early enrollee Tyshon Goode can become a go-to receiver. Actually, just becoming an average receiver would acceptable. The eight receivers in the spring two-deep caught all of 29 passes last season.
7. Miami (Ohio) -- A first-time head coach (Mike Haywood) trying to improve the league's worst offense in a program that is coming off a 10-loss season. Not a good combination.
1. Central Michigan -- Flip a coin between Central and Western but I'll go with the Chips. Central has posted four consecutive winning seasons, the longest streak in the league. Butch Jones has 18 starters back from an eight-win team that tied for second in the West last season.
LeFevour is poised to become the MAC career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Best reasons to like the Chips? Jones already has won a MAC title (2007) and the program is shooting for its third in four years. Oh, and Central has won three in a row over Western.
2. Western Michigan -- Be in Kalamazoo on Oct. 17 for the Central game that might decide the West.
The two top players are Hiller and linebacker Austin Pritchard (17 tackles against Central). The receivers and the secondary are a bit lacking but after a nine-win season, the Broncos should challenge for the division title again.
3. Ball State -- Stan Parrish, the former offensive coordinator and mentor to Nate Davis, got the gig after Brady Hoke bolted for San Diego State. The Cardinals will score but can they win 12 again?
Doubtful. This is Parrish's first head coaching job since leaving Kansas State in 1988. In the interim, he has helped win a national championship (Michigan) and Super Bowl (Tampa Bay). Without Davis at quarterback, Parrish will rely heavily on a veteran defensive front and tailback MiQuale Lewis.
4. Northern Illinois -- Jerry Kill won six games and went a bowl with all-everything defensive end Larry English. What can the second-year coach do without him?
Sophomore tailback Me'co Brown hopes to take the pressure off quarterback Chandler Harnish who led the Huskies in rushing.
5. Toledo -- You're probably familiar with the words "scandal-ridden" coming before the Toledo name lately. The Rockets have played some football too in the middle of a point-shaving scandal.
Hopefully new coach Tim Beckman doesn't bring all of his mojo from Oklahoma State. Beckman oversaw a Cowboys' defense that allowed the second-most points in the Big 12 South. Hybrid "Star" linebacker Barry Church will be all over the field.
6. Eastern Michigan -- If Ron English was just looking for a job, any job, he found it. The trick for him in Ypsilanti will be keeping it for any length of time. The Eagles have lost 77 games this decade and have become the MAC doormat.
English, Lloyd Carr's former defensive coordinator, is right down the road from Ann Arbor. That won't help him to avoid the basement in his first year as a head coach.
Posted on: November 21, 2008 4:33 pm
Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has been interviewed by Clemson according to at least two outlets -- the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail and Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette.
Locksley's name first came up for the Syracuse opening but Clemson seems a much better fit. The program is ready to win now and Locksley brings an impressive offensive resume. He opened up the Washington, D.C. area to Illinois from where it plucked 2007 All-American Vontae Davis and receiver Arrellious Benn.
The interview reportedly took place in Detroit two weeks ago when the Illini were there to play Western Michigan. Illinois concludes its regular season Saturday at Northwestern needing a win to become bowl eligible.
Posted on: October 12, 2008 3:39 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2008 5:05 pm
Is Tommy Tuberville coaching for his job?• A week away from the release of the first BCS standings there are 10 undefeated I-A teams, half of them from non-BCS conferences. The most undefeated teams we can have at the end of the season now is seven because of head-to-head matchups among the 10. Only three of the six BCS leagues are represented -- Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC.
Three of the teams are from the Big 12 -- Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech.
Penn State is 7-0 for the first time since 1999.
Utah and BYU are still headed for a Nov. 22 showdown in Salt Lake City. The Mountain West rivals gave up a combined one touchdown on Saturday. Utah beat Wyoming 40-7 and BYU dominated New Mexico 21-3.
Ball State is hanging around at 7-0, although end-of-the-season battles against Central Michigan and Western Michigan are looming.
The next big SEC games are coming up with Florida-Georgia on Nov. 1 and undefeated Alabama, 6-0, going to LSU on Nov. 8.• Halfway through the season how about these surprise conference leaders?
Pac-10: Cal, at 2-0 still has the bulk of its schedule left but still an impressive bounce back from last season at 4-1.
Big Ten: Michigan State is tied with Penn State and Ohio State at 3-0. The Buckeyes come to East Lansing this week. Michigan State ends the season with a trip to Penn State.
WAC: San Jose State is 2-0 (4-2) overall after beating Utah State.
Sun Belt: Florida International is one of four teams tied at the top at 2-0.
Mountain West: It's showdown Thursday when the BYU visits TCU. The teams are undefeated in conference play.
• Who would have known that halfway through the season that two teams from Oklahoma would be undefeated (Tulsa, Oklahoma State) and one of them wouldn't be Oklahoma?
• The last time Nebraska opened conference play with two losses was 1968. It fell at Texas Tech 37-31 in overtime. That was the Huskers' eighth consecutive loss to a ranked opponent.
• Georgia Tech tipped the game-tying field goal attempt with three seconds left to survive against Gardner-Webb 10-7. Coach Paul Johnson was down to his third-string quarterback Calvin Booker who was largely ineffective.
The defensive line combo of Michael Johnson combined for five sacks, 17 solo tackles and 51 yards in lost yardage.• How bad is Washington State? The Cougars intercepted Oregon State's Lyle Moevao four times but lost 66-13. Wazzoo had more penalty yards (170) than offensive yards (132).
• Georgia's Matthew Stafford surpassed 300 yards passing for the first time in his career (310) against Tennessee. The Vols are 0-3 in the SEC for the first time in 20 years.
• North Carolina (5-1) is off to its best start in since Mack Brown's last season in 1997.
• USC's Fili Moala tied an NCAA record by blocking two field goals in one quarter against Arizona State.
• Wyoming used four quarterbacks in that loss to Utah.
• Is it ironic or just karma? Rich Rodriguez negotiated his Michigan contract in Toledo during the offseason. He lost to the school that represents that city on Saturday. Some called Toledo's 13-10 "stunning". After Appalachian State there is nothing that compares to stunning. The Rockets had been 1-4. Michigan had been 24-0 against MAC teams.
“I feel that we’re at a crossroads where we could either go downhill or we can hang tough and weather this storm,” said linebacker Obi Ezeh. “Hopefully, this will pass and things will start going our way. We’ve just got to be tough.”• Texas is one game into playing four ranked opponents in a row. It's No. 11 Missouri this week after the big win over Oklahoma. Mack Brown is 10-0 in the game immediately following Oklahoma, four of those opponents have been ranked.
• Florida's Tim Tebow is two rushing touchdowns shy of Emmitt Smith's school record of 34.
• Texas and Oklahoma combined to score each of the 11 times they were in the red zone on Saturday. For the season, OU has cashed in all 28 red-zone visits. Texas is 32 of 33.
• Forget about Gary Pinkel going to Washington. The Missouri coach's next job is the hot gossip in the industry considering the Tigers are a national title contender and the Washington job will be open. Pinkel coached for 12 years at U-Dub under mentor Don James.
"I don't know why he'd even want to consider coming out here, with the facilities he's got and the way he's got it going," James told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I wouldn't know why anybody would want to leave Missouri now. It would be a tough, long haul."• Tis the season. First Tony Franklin at Auburn, now Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper. Harper was demoted last week after a 12-7 loss to Wake Forest on Thursday. Hot-shot recruit Willy Korn will take over for the preseason ACC player of the year.
• The weird things you see at the Texas State Fair...
Spam quesadillas ... Wine coolers. Who the hell drinks wine coolers anymore? ... Sign outside the Cotton Bowl: Pass Out Only At Halftime ... Fried ice cream ... Fried Avocado Chunks ... Gregg Doyel's cousin.
Tags: Auburn, Ball State, Big 12, Big Ten, BYU, Cal, Central Michigan, Clemson, Florida, Florida International, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan, Mountain West, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Penn State, Penn State, San Jose State, SEC, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas Tech, Toledo, Tulsa, USC, Utah, Utah State, Washington, Washington State, Western Michigan
Posted on: August 6, 2008 2:00 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2008 4:28 pm
Five things you should know about the MAC
1. Yes, Nate Davis is wearing gloves ... which is strange if you're a quarterback. Ball State's Davis was the MAC's top passer last season throwing for a conference-most 3,667 yards. No. 1 in MAC pass efficiency, Davis leads a return of the conference's top seven passers.
Ball State offensive coordinator Stan Parrish calls Davis one of the best he's ever had. That means something considering Parrish has both Super Bowl (Tampa Bay) and national championship (Michigan) rings. He worked with some guy named Brady while at Michigan.
Why the gloves? Davis, a shotgun quarterback in high school, had trouble taking the snap under center when he arrived at Ball State. Parrish suggested gloves for traction. Davis never took them off, playing some of his best games against BCS schools. Two years ago Davis threw for 250 yards against Michigan in an eight-point loss. Last season he threw for 422 yards and three scores in a one-point loss to Nebraska.
2. Postseason embarrassment. There's no doubt the MAC is better but it needs to get it going in bowls. In the last four years the league is 4-10. It lost all three bowl games, two by embarrassing scores: Rutgers beat Ball State 52-30 in the International Bowl and Tulsa laid an epic 63-7 whipping on Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl.
3. Temple is no longer a joke. Al Golden went 4-8 in his second year with the Owls. The program hadn't won more than two games since 2002. Temple is believed to be the only I-A team with all 22 starters returning.
4. Ditto for Buffalo. In two short years, Turner Gill has led Buffalo to respectability. The Bulls were 5-7 last season, the program's best record this decade. Gill will be Nebraska's coach some day if the success continues. He's just not ready yet. In the offseason his name came up for the Huskers vacancy.
5. Play up. It would be nice for the MAC to start winning some of these non-conference games against BCS schools. The conference went 5-37 against BCS-conference programs last season. Maybe the news is that Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Kent State each actually beat one of the big boys.
Last year there were embarrassments like MAC champion Central Michigan's 52-7 loss at Kansas and Western Michigan's 38-point loss at West Virginia. Toledo did beat Iowa State but it also lost to Purdue and Kansas by a combined 60 points.
This season MAC teams play 10 games against teams currently ranked in the coaches' poll. Games to watch this season: Akron at Wisconsin, Aug. 30; Central Michigan at Georgia, Sept. 6; Western Michigan at Nebraska, Aug. 30; Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Aug. 30; Toledo at Arizona, Sept. 6; Bowling Green at Pittsburgh, Aug. 30; Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio) on Aug. 28 followed by the RedHawks' trip to Michigan on Sept. 6; Boston College plays Kent State in Cleveland on Aug. 30.
There is hope: Five years ago MAC teams beat five ranked teams.
Tags: Akron, Arizona, Ball State, Boise State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Georgia, Iowa State, Kansas, Kent State, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Temple, Toledo, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin