Tag:South Carolina
Posted on: October 22, 2008 12:19 pm
 

National notes

Kansas just gave up the most yards to Oklahoma since the wishbone era. It has lost twice. Meanwhile, Texas Tech is undefeated and  in the top 10. Guess who is favored Saturday in Lawrence?

Kansas, by 2 1/2. The game opened as a pick 'em. That line raised a few eyebrows around the country so I lobbed a call to Las Vegas Sports Consultants this week.  LVSC is responsible for setting the line at a lot of the major sports books in Vegas.

"This is actually pretty common," one of their spokesmen said. Kansas Texas Tech. "Throw out rankings as far as point spreads."

The fact that Texas Tech has struggled in its last two games (Nebraska, at Texas A&M) probably has something to do with it. So does Kansas being at home where it has won its last 13.

 For an SEC official, Wilbur Hackett Jr. is still a heck of a Kentucky linebacker

 

It was umpire's forearm shiver than took down South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia during LSU's 24-17 victory.

If it wasn't for the fact that South Carolina eventually scored on the drive and that both coaches diffused the situation there were some serious questions to be asked.

The biggest: What was Hackett, at Kentucky from 1968-70, doing moving into Garcia? Aren't officials taught to stand still if it looks like they're going to be involved in the play?

Several accounts of the game said that Hackett "collided" with Garcia. Yeah, and Oprah likes to "nibble" on chocolate chip cookies.

Really, my first reaction was that this klutz just tried to tackle a player. No one is that stupid to do it out in the open like that. Other reports said that other angles of the play showed that ol' Wilbur was defending himself. The last time I "defended" myself with a forearm and shoulder I was in a street fight.

That was a long time ago and before the court-ordered counseling so you don't need to know about it.

"We told  him ... 'You've got to use your forearm,' " LSU's Les Miles joked with reporters. "But then you have to wrap up. I want you to know that we were disappointed in his effort to be honest with you."

Couldn't Tennessee use Hackett?

 The ACC is rehabbing its image.  There are interesting races in both divisions. Florida State seems to be back, kind of, and Georgia Tech has the best record in the league.

 

Boston College's victory over defending champ Virginia Tech threw both ACC division races into a tizzy. The Atlantic Division is a four-team race with BC, Florida State, Maryland and Wake Forest all tied at 2-1 in the conference.

BC and Florida State are the biggest surprises. The Eagles (5-1) were expected to take a drop but have lost only to Georgia Tech. They control their own destiny, such as it is, with Florida State, Wake and Maryland to finish the season.

Coach Jeff Jagodzinski isn't going to win many more games committing five turnovers, including three interceptions by his quarterback Chris Crane (two returned for touchdowns). 

Maryland has beaten five ranked teams in a row (three this season). Its shut out of Wake Forest was its first over a ranked team since 1955.

Florida State seems to have a personality, finally. The defense is settling in and quarterback Christian Ponder is getting better. Graham Gano became the first FSU kicker to boot 50-yard field goals in three consecutive games.

The Noles lead the ACC in total defense and total offense.

Virginia (4-3) lost to Duke and shut out Maryland in successive weeks. The Cavaliers have won three in a row heading to Georgia Tech.  Not bad for a team that lost its quarterback (Peter Lalich, kicked off the team) and only recently got back inured tailback Cedric Peerman.

Georgia Tech (6-1) might be the league's biggest surprise. It is the ACC's highest ranked team (No. 18 in the BCS) and continues to body slam opponents with the triple option.

 The possibility exists that two non-BCS schools could get into the BCS. Only one such school has ever made it in the given year (Utah 2004, Boise 2006, Hawaii 2007). Jerry Palm explains why the non-BCS schools in the BCS better hope that the ACC and Big East champions finish as high as possible.

 

" Two non-majors get in (BCS bowls) if you're at-large pool is SEC, Big 12, Utah and Boise State," he said.

The rules state that only one non-BCS school can automatically qualify for a BCS bowl (top 12 or top 16 if it is ranked higher than a BCS conference champion).  But any non-champion is considered at-large if it finishes among the top 14. If all six BCS conference champions are among the top 14, that makes it more likely that two non-BCS school could get in.

Utah debuted at No. 11. Boise is 12th. Both of those are ahead of the highest-ranked teams from the Big East (No. 16 South Florida) and ACC (No. 18 Georgia Tech).

Here's how two non-BCS schools could get in ...

Projected final standings
1. Big 12 champion
2. SEC champion
3. Big Ten champion
4. Big 12 at-large
5. Pac-10 champion
6. Third Big 12 team (not eligible for BCS since two spots have been filled)
7. SEC at-large
8. Fourth Big 12 team (not eligible)
9. Big Ten at-large
10. Third SEC team (not eligible)
11. Utah (or other non-BCS school)
12. Boise (or other non-BCS school)
13. ACC champion
14. Big East champion

Projected BCS bowls in that scenario:
BCS title game: No. 1* above vs. No. 2* (possibly Texas vs. Alabama)
Rose: No. 3 (Big Ten)* vs. No. 5 (Pac-10)* (Ohio State vs. USC)
Sugar: No. 7 (SEC at-large) vs. No. 12 (Florida vs. South Florida)
Orange: No. 13 (ACC)* vs. No. 14* (Georgia Tech vs. Boise State^)
Fiesta: No. 4 (Big 12) vs. No. 11  (Oklahoma vs. Utah^)

^-non-BCS schools

The point being that the non-BCS schools need to root for both the Big East and ACC champions to finish in the top 14.

 The yin and yang of San Diego: San Diego State is quickly descending into unchartered depths. After losing to New Mexico 70-7 it is 1-6 and clearly one of the worst programs in America. An emotional Chuck Long said, "we have a very fragile football team."

 


Meanwhile across town, the University of San Diego is the only unbeaten team in I-AA. (6-0)

 Dad's week: Iowa's Kirk Ferentz suspended his son James last week after the kid was caught for underage alcohol possession.

 

Colorado's Dan Hawkins benched his son, starting quarterback Cody, in favor of redshirt freshman Tyler Hansen against Kansas State. CU won 14-13.

 A sign of how far things have fallen at Michigan: Defensive end Brandon Graham has guaranteed a victory over Michigan State. Michigan shouldn't have guarantee anything over Little Brother but these are trying times. The Spartans are 6-2. Michigan is 2-5.

 

Posted on: October 8, 2008 10:39 am
Edited on: October 8, 2008 11:11 pm
 

National notes

One day closer to the ultimate comeback by Mitch Mustain.

If you've forgotten him, get in line. Mustain was the uber-recruit from Springdale, Ark. who signed with the 
hometown Hogs, went 8-0 as a freshman starter then transferred to USC amid the Houston Nutt shenanigans. The 
transfer to USC looked curious from the start. Mark Sanchez was there. So was highly regarded Aaron Corp.

At one point this season, Mustain dropped to fourth on the depth chart. Now with Sanchez nursing an injured knee 
Mustain might get his first start with the Trojans. I have no idea the amount of rust on Mustain but it says 
something that he rose up the depth chart to be in position to take over when Sanchez got hurt against Oregon.

The latest from Tuesday's practice: Sanchez threw lightly but did not practice. With three days to go before the 
Arizona State game, that's a positive sign for Mustain.

 It looks like Joe Paterno is going to be around for a while.

This is news because 1) the Penn State coach broke his leg two years at Wisconsin, the same place Penn State will 
play on Saturday 2) the reports coming out of State College lately have painted a bleak picture of his current 
health. Paterno was noticeably limping Saturday at Purdue and had to coach again from the press box. The 81-year-old 
has been seen at practices getting around in a golf cart.

The story, often repeated, is that Paterno injured his knee attempting an onside kick during a drill. However, after 
the Purdue game he was seen wearing two different shoes and was steadying himself at the podium while speaking to 
reporters. JoePa has taken to doing his weekly coach's show from his home.

"We're a little worried," quarterback Daryll Clark said after the 20-6 victory. "His leg's been bothering him for a 
little while now. But he's still there at practices doing what he can."

Joe being Joe, he shot down speculation that he is anywhere near the end of his career.

"I can't walk like I used to walk all the time," he said. "I used to love to get up and walk five, six miles. But I 
can't do that and still go out and go to practice for a couple hours. It just wears down on me. But what I have can 
be fixed, so we'll work on it.

 
"I'm going to have to live with it for a couple of weeks, maybe more. But hey, that's why I get the big money."

There is an increasing vibe that when Penn State eventually makes a change that the new coach might now come from 
the current staff. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson are the most likely 
candidates.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Joe is going anywhere. A Big Ten title or national championship run will give him 
more reason to stick around.

 Ole Miss continues its up and down season. A week after winning at The Swamp, the Rebels lost an emotional game to 
South Carolina, 31-24. That leaves them 1-2 in the SEC West with a bye week before going to Alabama on Oct. 18.

I spoke to Houston Nutt recently.

Was there any temptation to shove it in Arkansas' face after that Florida win?

Nutt: I really deep down inside haven't thought about that (like) 'Look at us now.' "

OK, so how sweet was it?

Nutt: It was very sweet. We played Florida in the championship game in Atlanta (while with Arkansas). I thought we 
had 'em there. You beat Texas, you beat Tennessee, you beat Alabama, but this one ranks so high. It was 629 days 
since this team had won an SEC game."

After beating Georgia, Nick Saban mentioned the day-by-day grind that it takes to win at this level. You have to 
agree.

Nutt: "The constant grind, that's why you need three weeks of the summer to get totally away from it"

How close are you guys to turning it around?

Nutt: "The disappointing thing is, we're still sitting at 73 scholarships. A lot of names you heard the last three 
years aren't here. You're good at defensive line, you're good at receiver. There are some holes. The biggest hole 
was the mindset."

 More on the greatest stat of the season so far ...

D&E told you earlier this week that No. 3 Missouri had not had a three-and-out this season with Chase Daniel at 
quarterback. In those 48 possessions, Mizzou has scored 33 times (28 touchdowns, five field goals). The 15 "misses" 
include five punts, four lost fumbles, three series turned over on downs, two missed field goals and one 
interception.

 Brouce Mompremier has been cleared to do conditioning a couple of weeks after he was one of three players involved 
in Black Saturday. The South Florida linebacker was among the three who each suffered serious spinal or back 
injuries.

 As mentioned in today's main story, Ball State's Dante Love will never play football again after being injured against 
Indiana. He is rehabbing and is expected to make a full recovery. Washington State quarterback suffered a 
non-surgical spine fracture.

Mompremier's got back on the practice field on a limited basis on Tuesday. His injury has been defined as 
nueroproxia, which is temporary failure of nerve conduction in the absence of structural changes, due to blunt 
injury or compression.

 Cincinnati (vs. Rutgers) and New Mexico State (at Nevada) will be the last two teams to open conference play this 
week.

 Georgia Tech freshman Jaybo Shaw completed nine of 13 passes in his first career start against Duke, all to  
Demaryius Thomas for 230 yards. That's the second-highest receiving total in school history.

 Big week for punt blocks involving guys named Carter: North Carolina's Bruce Carter blocked three punts against 
Connecticut. Navy blocked two punts resulting in touchdowns against Air Force. Navy's Blake Carter blocked a punt in 
the first half that was returned for a touchdown. In the second half, he picked up a punt blocked by teammate Bobby 
Doyle. Navy had not blocked a punt in nine years.

  Rutgers has dropped to 1-4 leading coach Greg Schiano to say he might have overestimated his talent. Maybe his 
schedule has been overrated. The Scarlet Knights have beaten two ranked opponents since Schiano took over in 2000. 
That's as many ranked teams as Vanderbilt has beaten this season.

  Texas' Mack Brown on the Big (Scoring) 12: "Every time we look up, the most phenomenal thing is to see 50 points 
in this league. Nobody is surprised. At one time, you said, 'God they scored 58.' Now people are pulling them out  
to keep it to 58.' "

  Seeing the scoring explosion a different way: The nation's top scoring team is Tulsa. Factor in time of possession and  
the Golden Hurricane are averaging a point every 28.7 seconds. No. 2 Missouri is averaging one every 28 seconds.

 How important is Oklahoma-Texas this week? Eight times in the previous 12 games during the existence of the Big 12 
the winner has gone on to win the South Division. Two other times, the loser has played for the conference title. 
The other two South Division titles have been won by Texas A&M.

 Oklahoma is the only team in the country not to lose a fumble this season.

  Washington is 0-5 for the first time in 39 years and one of only two winless teams in I-A. North Texas is the other.

  Name the 12 teams averaging both 200 yards passing and rushing and you win a sucker. Answer below.

  More about Ball State:

 It is located in Muncie, Ind. where basketball is king. The 1990 Ball State team went to the Sweet 16 before losing 
to UNLV. Muncie Central High School has won eight state championships.

When radio voice Morry Mannies went to school there in the 1950s tuition was $150 and enrollment was 4,000. Today 
there are 18,000 students

The last MAC team to be ranked was Bowling Green in November 2004.

The school was shut down three times before 1917. At that point it was bought out of foreclosure by the Ball family. 
It was originally known as Eastern Indiana Normal School. 

The famous "Boom, goes the dynamite" guy, Brian Collins, is from Ball State.

 The 12 incredibly balanced teams referred to above: Oklahoma State, Nevada, Oregon, Penn State, Tulsa, Arkansas 
State, Louisville, Illinois, Indiana, Fresno State, LSU and Southern Miss.

 

Posted on: September 30, 2008 7:57 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2008 7:59 pm
 

National notes

Some observations as we round the quarter pole of the season (most everyone has played at least four games):


Updated BCS bowl predictions

BCS title game: Oklahoma vs. Alabama
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC
Fiesta Bowl: Missouri vs. BYU
Sugar Bowl: South Florida vs. LSU
Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest


Three teams to watch:

 South Florida -- Everyone else is trashing the Big East. Some team has to win it. No one is talking about the 
Bulls. They're in the top 10 and have only three road games remaining. All the sudden the Dec. 6 game at West 
Virginia doesn't look that tough.

 

 Texas -- Oklahoma is No. 1. We're all assuming the Sooners are going to beat the Horns in Dallas. Don't discount 
Texas so easily. Colt McCoy is playing at an all-time high and the pass defense has to get better doesn't it?

 

 Kentucky -- This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. It's looking like a 9-3 year. The Wildcats are off to a 4-0 
start and have allowed only 22 points. We'll know more when they go to Alabama this week, but having a strong 
defense in the SEC isn't a bad thing.

 

Three shocking developments to come:

 Mid-season firings -- Watch for either Virginia's Al Groh, Syracuse's Greg Robinson or Washington's Tyrone 
Willingham to lose their jobs during the season. Syracuse AD Daryl Gross seems especially fidgety.

 

 Tim Tebow will not make it to New York -- Forget consecutive Heismans. I'm not a hater. Any casual follower of the 
sport has noticed Superman's downturn in production. The fourth-down stop against Ole Miss was a shining example. 
And the Heisman is all about production.

 

That, plus the glut of candidates nationwide, looks like it will keep Tebow out of Times Square.

 The upsets have just begun. OK, so that isn't so shocking.

 


Projected award winners:


Outland: Andre Smith, Alabama
Biletnikoff: Jarett Dillard, Rice
Thorpe: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
Davey O'Brien: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Nagurski/Bednarik: George Selvie, South Florida
Groza: Louie Sakoda, Utah
Heisman: Chase Daniel, Missouri

Coach of the year: Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt


(Outland, best interior lineman; Biletnikoff, best receiver; Thorpe, best defensive back; Davey O'Brien, best 
quarterback; Nagurski/Bednarik, best defensive player; Groza, best kicker; Heisman, best player)

 

 CBS' Spencer Tillman on Pete Carroll: "After the Ohio State win, because of the relative weakness of Pac-10, Pete 
Carroll's coaching challenge totally shifted. He needed to become Dr. Phil. Be basically Nick Saban, Nick can piss a 
lot of people off. That's what he needed to."

 

 Clemson's loss to Maryland marked the eighth time in the Tommy Bowden era that the Tigers lost to an unranked 
opponent at home. The others:

 

2006 -- South Carolina 31, No. 24 Clemson 31-28

2006 -- Maryland 13, No. 19 Clemson 12

2004 -- Georgia Tech 28, No. 20 Clemson 24

2001 -- North Carolina 38, No. 13 Clemson 3

2001 -- Virginia 26, No. 19 Clemson 24

2000 -- Georgia Tech 9, No. 5 Clemson 3

 

 Is there is any question whether BYU can play for the national championship consider that BYU debuted at No. 7 in 
Harris poll and moved up to No. 9 in the coaches' poll. Jerry Palm has BYU 10th in his weekly BCS standings 
projection.

 


 Texas Tech has put up a website mimicking a presidential campaign for their stars Graham Harrell and Michael 
Crabtree. Here's an idea Mike Leach, trying bringing both guys to the Big 12 media days so hundreds of reporters can talk to them in person.

 Lloyd Carr to Syracuse?

 

 

Posted on: September 24, 2008 1:49 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2008 5:40 pm
 

National notes

Time to put Ohio State back in the national championship race. I'm not saying the Bucks will get to South Florida but can we all agree they might be as strong as they've ever been this season?

Terrelle Pryor has been installed as the quarterback starter. Beanie Wells is back at tailback for the Big Ten opener against Minnesota. The Big Ten race, and Big Ten, just got a whole lot more interesting. It's a four-team race, at least, between Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Penn State.


When some dope asked if Pryor was now the starter after throwing four touchdown passes against Troy, Jim Tressel said: "Weren't you at the game?"

 OK, so there's a blackout at Georgia for the Alabama game. Why did Mark Richt tell everyone? There's a great story from last year when Richt the players kept the blackout secret until busting them out for the Auburn game.

 

"I had the seniors at my house before the season starts," Richt said. "They're saying, 'Coach, when are we going to get black jerseys?' I closed every door in my house and said, 'Can ya'll keep a secret? The Auburn game, we're going to wear them. But look, man, if everybody finds out it won't be that big a deal,' ...

"We get to Monday of the Auburn game. They're like, 'Coach, coach we need to get the fans to (know about) the blackout.' I said, 'No, you're giving it away.'

"Rumors kept flaring. Then one (reporter) point blanks me, 'Are you or are you not wearing black jerseys for the Auburn game? ...

"So I'm telling the equipment guy, 'When the lights go out get the jerseys laid out at their seats ... I'm in the coaches lockerroom changing and the place erupted. It was so unbelievable how excited they got. I heard guys screaming. I saw guys with tears in their eyes. It was like a sauna in there, just the body heat.

"There was so much electricity in the stadium that day. I told the guys at the end, it did look cool ... It's hard to let go of that."

Georgia won 45-20.

 Urban Meyer showed prescience when he said before the 2006 season that the new clock rules were a joke. College football went on to lose 13 plays per game and the game suffered.

 

Meyer railed again this week against the 40/25-second clock that has been largely responsible for the loss of seven total plays per game so far this season.

"I'm not a fan of the clock rule," Meyer said this week. "I think it's wrong. I think they're cheating the fans - more importantly, the players."

Florida ran a season low 54 plays Saturday against Tennessee. That will be comforting to the Vols. At least the Gators were efficient in blowing them out.

Meyer said only 46 of his team's plays were "competitive", meaning he didn't count punts, field goals, etc.

The 40/25 clock can be massaged, though. Since Oklahoma has gone to the no-huddle, it has gained nine plays per game (from 70 to 79).

Strangely enough, the state of Oregon knows how to use the clock. Oregon is No. 1 (83.75 plays per game) followed by Nevada (83.3) and Oregon State (80.3).

 Two years ago USC went on its little "streak" losing to three times to inferior opponents in two seasons. It started with a 33-31 loss at Oregon State when John David Booty got a pass blocked while throwing to Dwayne Jarrett for a two-point conversion.

 

I'm still wondering how Booty had a pass blocked at the line of scrimmage throwing a stop fade in the end zone to Dwayne Jarrett, one of the tallest receivers in ball at the time.

Anyway, those days are over, right? The points is, USC should be on alert opening the Pac-10 season Thursday back at Oregon State.

 Not much more to be said about Tennessee except that a 2-4 start looks likely. The Vols play at Auburn this week followed by games against Northern Illinois and at Georgia.

 

Arizona State (2-2) is Tennessee West. With games coming up at Cal, at USC and at home against Oregon, the Devils could start 2-5.

 Fourteen teams are currently 4-0, only six of them have ever won a national championship (TCU, Alabama, Georgia, BYU, Penn State, Minnesota). Maybe more surprising, five of the 14 are from West of the Mississippi (Missouri, Texas Tech, Utah, BYU, TCU).

 

 San Diego State coach Chuck Long on the difference between I-AA Cal Poly and Notre Dame.

 

"The way we played both there wasn't much difference," he said.

The Aztecs (0-3) lost to both the Mustangs and Irish in back-to-back weeks.

 Make sure you view this video on an empty stomach. This is how Texas lost tight end Blaine Irby for the season with a dislocated kneecap.

 

 Maybe it's just me but it seems that certain schools should never, ever be in need of a quality quarterback. Why can't these three programs find a consistent signal caller?

 

Florida State:  Tied for sixth-worst nationally with five interceptions. No. 55 in pass efficiency.
Cal:  Tied for 68th nationally and fifth in Pac-10 in sacks allowed.
Auburn:  Second-worst in the SEC and 95th nationally in pass efficiency.

--Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has a myspace page which shouldn't surprise any of us.

On it you can learn the 47-year-old Leach enjoys "football, throwing stuff and pirate history". Listed among his friends are Urban Meyer and Bobby Bowden. He lists his income as "$250,000 and higher."

Away from the keyboard, Leach sounds like he is seriously considering Tech student Matt Williams as a walk-on kicker. Williams won a year's free rent at an apartment complex after booting a 30-yard field goal between the third and fourth quarters of Saturday's win over Massachusetts.


 “Very impressive kick, and maybe I’ll get to see him again because we’re always looking for depth at kicker,” Leach said after the game. “We have a tradition of walk-on kickers rising to the top."


 More BYU:

Bronco Mendenhall on being a defensive coach in this offensive age: "Most of the time defenses aren't as glamorous. Schools hire offensive coaches possibly to make themselves look better in the hiring process and please fans.  Sometimes offensive names are more attractive."

Draft guru Gil Brandt on the BYU "system":  "I think they had a system that was advanced from whatever anybody else had. When the wishbone came in, people were trying to stop the wishbone and didn't have the right people for it. Then all of the sudden they found out how to stop the wishbone.

"That never caught up with them at BYU. They attracted quarterbacks who were made out to be better than they were because they were in this really good system.  I think this team has better players (than the previous BYU great teams)."

FYI: BYU is No. 11 this week.  It was No. 8 four weeks into the season when it won its national championship. It debuted at No. 13 in the first regular-season AP poll and got to No. 1 in the Nov. 19 poll after beating Utah 24-14.

It finished No. 1 in AP after beating Michigan in the Holiday Bowl and No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 South Carolina lost their bowl games.

Posted on: September 18, 2008 4:51 pm
 

You want SEC defense, you GOT SEC defense

(direct from the SEC office)


Southeastern Conference defenses, in 32 games this season, have allowed just 12.5 points and 260.9 total yards per game this season.  Since conference expansion, the lowest average number of points allowed per game by SEC defenses in a season was in 1992, when the conferences' defenses gave up 18.8 points per game.  The lowest average total yards per game since 1992 was in 2006 - 315.0 yards per game. 
 
This season, SEC defenses have allowed just 76.75 rushing yards per game and 184.1 passing yards per game.
 
The SEC leads the nation in scoring defense (12.5 points per game) and in total yards allowed (260.9 yards per game) this season.  The next closest conferences are the Big Ten, giving up an average of 16.16 points per game, and the Mountain West, giving up an average of 301.65 yards per game,
 
Per attempt, the SEC defenses are allowing just 2.57 yards per rush (962 carries for 2,456 yards) and 5.33 yards per pass attempt (590 of 1105 for 5,892 yards).  Overall, the SEC is allowing just 4.04 yards per offensive play (8348 yards on 2067 plays), which also leads the nation.  The next closest conference is the Big 12, which averages 4.58 yards allowed per play (10236 yards on 2231 plays).
 
In NCAA team statistical rankings, nine SEC teams are in the top 40 in rushing defense, five in the top 40 in pass defense, nine in the top 40 in total defense and 10 in the top 40 in scoring defense.
 
This weekend, two of the top four teams in total defense in the SEC matchup when Auburn (#3 in the SEC / #10 in the NCAA) hosts LSU (#4 in the SEC / #12 in the NCAA). 
 
In team statistical categories, Alabama leads the SEC and the nation in rushing defense (42.7 yards allowed per game), Florida leads the SEC and #3 in the nation in total defense (190.5 yards per game), South Carolina leads the SEC and the nation in passing defense (95.0 yards per game) and Auburn leads the SEC and is third in the nation in scoring defense (5.0 points allowed per game).

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 11, 2008 12:09 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Memories of 9/11

I was feeling maudlin today about 9/11. The seventh anniversary of the tragedy no doubt is striking everyone different. 

I remember that day I was jogging, listening to Don Imus on my headphones. The I-Man got word that a "small plane" had crashed into the World Trade Center. From then on, everyone's life changed. My mind was swirling so much I immediately went into work mode, checking to see if conferences would cancel games.

Sadly, the SEC was the last conference to cancel its schedule. Then-commissioner Roy Kramer finally put out a verbose statement on honoring the dead, etc. That was on a Thursday less than 48 hours before games were supposed to kick. I clearly remember calling the Gainesville, Fla. hotel where Tennessee was going to play that week. A ballroom had been set up for a meal. Disgusting, I thought.

Nine days later we started playing football again. Nebraska and Mississippi State hosted games, kicking off almost simultaneously in the first games played since 9/11. I remember going into David Wade Stadium in Starksville having my bag searched for the first time. Guards were everywhere with loaded weapons. That was the mood of the day.

A couple of days later, I covered the Alabama-Birmingham-Army game for obvious reasons. The Black Knights were clearly distracted, knowing that a lot of them were about to head into battle. UAB won 55-3. But what I remember most was the class and heart Army had that day. Army's Dave McCracken was a Ranger about head off to war. Current defensive line coach Clarence Holmes was a player on that team.

Coach Todd Berry was fired a few years later but he will always be one of my favorites for his courage and leadership in those frightening days.

This is how I remembered it a year after in 2002.

This is how I remembered it two years ago on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

 

Posted on: August 29, 2008 9:31 am
 

Opening night thoughts

A lot of mediocre-to-bad football Thursday night. Some observations:

 It's going to be a long season for North Carolina State, 34-0 losers to South Carolina. Even with quarterback Russell Wilson, who was carted off the field with a concussion, the Wolfpack struggled to score points. You can see why 2007 incumbent Daniel Evans couldn't keep the job. When he replaced Wilson, the offense went from unproductive to putrid.

 


 The most impressive NC State player to me was Nate Irving, a redshirt sophomore linebacker who seemed to be in on every tackle. The Wolfpack did intercept four Tommy Beecher passes which might say more about South Carolina's offense than NC State's defense.


 Kirby Freeman went from Miami to Baylor to bench. After the quarterback's celebrated transfer from Coral Gables, 
he couldn't even make it through the first half against Wake Forest. Coach Art Briles kept his starter a secret up 
until kickoff. Why? Baylor just might have itself a quarterback of the future in true freshman Robert Griffin. The 
big-time recruit replaced the stiff, laconic Freeman and led the Bears to their only two scores. Not bad for a 
native of Japan. (His dad was military)

Briles is evaluating his options for next week against Northwestern State. Again, why? Let Griffin take this sunken ship over and try to raise it.

 Alphonso Smith is the truth. Wake Forest's preseason All-American corner is all that. He had an interception and 
tipped away a pass in the end zone in the first half. The Human Turnover Machine (12 by himself last season) has 15 
career interceptions.

 

 Wow, what was the deal with the Stanford crowd? I know it was a Thursday night in Palo Alto -- usually Pinochle night in P.A. -- but this was the season opener (against Oregon State). The announced crowd was 30,223 in 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium. That seemed very charitable.

 

 This is a sign of inexperience: Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao "threw" a safety. That's hard to do. Moevao 
dropped back from deep in his own territory to throw a swing pass. It was actually a backward pass that passed through the end zone and went out of bounds. The Beavers turned it over three times (five fumbles, one lost) in a 36-28 loss to the Cardinal.

 

 By the way what is Oregon State doing opening the season on the road against two BCS conference opponents? It goes 
to Penn State next week.

 

 My opening-night hero is Stanford's Toby Gerhart. Returning from a torn PCL he ran for 147 yards against the Beavs (No. 1 against the rush D in 2007). Not a huge deal, I just can't remember the last time a tailback of any substance was named Toby.

 


 Good luck to Ryan Perrilloux. His numbers were nice -- 203 yards in total offense -- but Georgia Tech was never 
threatened in a 41-14 victory over Jacksonville State. The opponent was only I-AA but Paul Johnson's triple option 
produced 349 rushing yards.


Posted on: July 14, 2008 2:36 pm
 

Some thoughts on the best coach series...

I purposefully waited until the coaching series was over to go back and dissect the numbers. When picking the 

coaches in each category, I didn't want to be influenced.

Anyway, here is how it breaks down ...

 The big winners were the SEC and Big 10. Surprise! Eighteen of the 66 coaches chosen came from the SEC (27.2 percent). The Big Ten had 13 picks (19.7 percent). Only three of the coaches came from non-BCS leagues (two from Conference USA and one from the WAC).

 Another surprise (not). Nine of the 66 coaches came from schools in Florida.

 

 The Big 12 and Pac-10 each led with three coaches on the dream staff. Norm Chow (UCLA, offensive coordinator), Pat Ruel (offensive line, USC) and Pete Carroll (head coach, USC) came from the Pac-10. In the Big 12, there were Cale Gundy (running backs, Oklahoma), Bruce Walker (tight ends, Missouri) and Brian Cabral (linebackers, Colorado). The Big Ten and SEC each had two "bests".

 USC and Florida tied for the most coaches on the list, each with five. That means that more than half the staffs at those schools are among the best in the country. That would make sense since the schools have combined to finish No. 1 in the AP poll three of the last five years.

 Thirty-five total schools were represented, including at least two programs from all six BCS conferences. Notre Dame did not have a coach on the list. However, East Carolina, Hawaii, UNLV and Tulsa did.

 The only SEC schools not represented were Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Kentucky and Mississippi State.

 

 The only conferences not to have at least one coach on a list were the Sun Belt and MAC.

 

 Nine of the dream staffers have won a national championship. The only ringless member is Missouri tight ends coach Bruce Walker.

Coaches I wished could have made the list but didn't:

 South Florida defensive backs coach Troy Douglas (coached first-rounder Mike Jenkins and fifth-round Trae Williams in 2007).

 There were too many good offensive coordinators. Among those that deserve mention: Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Locksley, Illinois; Joker Phillips, Kentucky; Jim Bollman, Ohio State; Steed Lobotzke, Wake Forest.

 How do you leave off defensive coordinators DeWayne Walker of UCLA and Wally Burnham of South Florida?

 

 This has nothing to do with the coaching series but I found it interesting that Texas A&M's new president Elsa Murano isn't expecting much out of Mike Sherman in his first season.

"I have great expectations for coach (Mike) Sherman. Poor guy," Murano told the San Antonio Express-News. "We all think he needs to win the championship the first year, which of course cannot possibly happen. We need to give him a chance to rebuild.”

Cannot possibly happen? You've got to love Murano's candor.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com