Tag:Tennessee
Posted on: October 14, 2009 6:22 pm
 

National notes

Thank you Florida State for releasing the 695-page transcript of the school's hearing with the NCAA earlier this year.

What the school gained in transparency, it lost in embarrassment. In the transcript we found out that one academic advisor said a player had a 60 IQ and was unable to read. Gee, what was he doing at Florida State then?

 Jan. 1 used to be a holy day of obligation. Hook up an IV of beer, spread out the snacks, let the belt out a notch and veg in front of the TV.

Lately, our day of football daze has been denuded of significance. The calendar for Jan. 1, 2011 now shows at least six games. Six! The announcement of the Dallas Classic beginning in 14 months further degrades what used to be the best football day of the year.

Just what the world needs, a No. 7 team from the Big 12 vs. some slug from Conference USA. Jan. 1 used to be special. All the majors played on the same day. Now the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange are so spread out you need a GPS to locate them all.

In addition to the Rose and Sugar, this year we’ll get the Gator, Capital One and Outback. The roster swells next year because Dallas felt the need to replace the Cotton Bowl game it is losing to the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The new Dallas Classic will be played in the Cotton Bowl.

Can’t wait to see the attendance in the 92,000 stadium which is essentially used twice a year. The other time being for Texas-Oklahoma. Got a birthday or a bar mitzvah coming up, the Cotton Bowl is available.

The Rose Bowl has been the Jan. 1 stalwart. We could always look forward to seeing the parade and the San Gabriel Mountains each New Year’s Day. Nurse that hangover, suck on a Bloody Mary. It was all good. In recent years, even the Rose has been moved around in years it is in the BCS championship rotation.


The game itself has become almost an afterthought with the Big Ten having lost seven Grandaddys in a row.

Sure, it’s a national holiday and advertisers know we’re going to be home to watch, but we want our NYD back. The beer is going flat.


 Expanding on the Ndamukong Suh angle. If the Nebraska defensive tackle is on top of the list, here are the other top five defense players in the country.

2. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee. The SEC defensive player of the year hasn’t backed off. Berry has an incredible 50 tackles and one interception of Tim Tebow.

3.Tyler Sash, S, Iowa. Tied for the national lead in interceptions with five.

4.Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida. The fastest, meanest linebacker around playing for the No. 1 defense. Thirty-two tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks.

5. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama. Bama has the No. 2 defense in the country. McClain is the center of it with 42 tackles, 5 ½ for loss, two sacks and two interceptions.

  This week’s Scripps Howard Heisman poll which yours truly votes in.

            (10 voters. First-place votes in parentheses.)
            1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida. 40 points (8).
            2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas, 25.
            3. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati, 13.
            4 (tie). Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame;
            Case Keenum, QB, Houston, 12.
           
            Others receiving votes: Nebraska DT Ndamukong, Suh, 7; Miami QB Jacory Harris, 6; Texas WR Jordan Shipley 5 (1); Kansas QB Todd Reesing 5 (1); Alabama RB Mark Ingram 5; Stanford RB Toby Gerhart, 2; Boise State QB Kellen Moore, 2.
 
 
 Weird meeting of the headsets Thursday in South Florida.

Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly fired defensive coordinator Joe Tresey after last season. Tresey was then hired by Bulls’ coach Jim Leavitt. South Florida enters Thursday’s showdown fifth in scoring defense (9.4 points per game) after allowing 20 per game last season.

Advantage Tresey who knows Cincy’s personnel and whose team is at home? Not exactly. Kelly’s new d-coordinator Bob Diaco has the Bearcats at No. 10 in scoring defense (13.8 points).

 Props to Lousiana-Monroe which has its longest conference winning streak (three games) since 1992. The Warhawks have one of the smallest budgets in I-A and are coached by the coach thought to be the lowest paid in the division, Charlie Weatherbie.

 The WAC is at it again. Idaho’s Tre’Shawn Robinson was reprimanded by the conference after throwing a punch against San Jose State. Reprimanded, not suspended. Sound familiar, Boise State?

 We’ll know more next week but Washington looks to be the most improved team in the country at the halfway point. The Huskies are 3-3 heading to Saturday’s game at Arizona State. That’s a net improvement of six games over last season’s 0-12 record. The season reaches its halfway point on Saturday.

Posted on: October 12, 2009 12:21 am
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

Now that that’s over get ready for the biggest weekend of the season featuring five games involving ranked teams.  By the end of the weekend, the Big 12 could be out of the national championship race (if Texas loses), either South Florida or Cincinnati could be a fraud and Charlie Weis could have his signature win at Notre Dame only five years into the job …

 Get to YouTube or somewhere and catch UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers’ pick and score against Oregon.  It is guaranteed to be the play of the year and we still have half a season left.

Ayers chased Oregon quarterback Nate Costa to the back of the end zone. Costa threw off his back foot, Ayers jumped, intercepted the ball right in his face, secured and got a foot down for the score. Amazing.

 Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes caught 22 passes for 278 yards in a one-point win over Kent State a week after dropping the potential game-winning touchdown pass. Barnes has 28 more catches than the next living human in I-A football.

Take it from a guy who witnessed the best receiving game in history – Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards vs. Nebraska in 1998 – Barnes is a freak. The 22 catches  were one off the single-game record. Edwards? All he did was catch 21 balls for 405 yards – in one game.

 

 Oh he didn’t: Just when you thought Lane Kiffin had put a kill switch on his mouth, Tennessee’s coach yapped before the Georgia game.

 

That’s a cheap way of getting into Eric Berry’s freaky Heisman rap. Berry had 5 1/2 tackles, two passes broken up and a fumble (unofficially) recovery against Georgia. Put that up against Suh who on Thursday had six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, two pass break ups and an interception at Missouri.

 Nah, it’s not the system at all at Texas Tech. Mike Leach has had two quarterbacks each throw for seven touchdowns in a game, Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield.

The right-now, no-hype, no-b.s., not-what-they-did last year Heisman rankings for this week:

1. Todd Reesing, Kansas: If he played anywhere -- and I anywhere -- but Lawrence he’d booked for New York right now. He’s hidden in a program that would be ranked higher if tooted its own horn more.  All Reesing did was throw for 442 yards and four touchdowns. Kansas needed every bit of it in a 41-36 victory over Iowa State.  We’re looking at the best quarterback ever for a program that counts John Hadl among its greats. Along with Kerry Meier (16 catches, 142 yards) and Dezmon Briscoe (12 catches, 186 yards), this is the best set of “triplets” in the country. Sure, the defense stinks but who cares? This is Texas Tech without all the Leach preening.


2. Case Keenum, Houston: Sick.  Keenum had 434 yards and four touchdowns against Mississippi State. His 2,130 passing yards and 17 touchdowns lead the country. Only three other quarterbacks are more accurate. By the way, TCU and Boise State are posers. What non-BCS team has accomplished more than Houston which has victories over three BCS schools (Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State)?

3.  Ndamakong Suh, Nebraska: The best performance, maybe ever, by a defensive tackle against Missouri on Thursday night.

4. Tony Pike, Cincinnati: Steadily percolating until Thursday night against South Florida.

5.  Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame: Go figure, Clausen’s team has a bye week and moves into both major polls. Clausen has a bye week gets dropped down from No. 1 to No. 5. A big game against USC might clinch a trip to New York for the nation’s most efficient passer.

6. Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green: See above.

 

Posted on: October 10, 2009 11:33 am
 

Who's going to be No. 1?

Let’s say LSU beats Florida, who is your new No. 1?


No. 2 Texas – We still don’t know a lot about the Horns. A blowout win over Colorado shouldn’t show us much. Against the only carbon-based life forms they’ve played (Texas Tech), they looked sluggish at times. Most of the Horns heavy lifting is ahead of it.

No. 3 Alabama – A big win over Ole Miss, or maybe even a little win, may vault the Tide over everyone into the No. 1 slot. They’re used to this type of stuff. They were No. 1 for five weeks last season. This is arguably the most balanced team in the country.

No. 4 LSU – Depending on how it goes down, how do you deny the Tigers? You beat No. 1, you should be No. 1. If LSU does win, it will answer a lot of questions about its quarterback, offense and running back. The defense has been fairly consistent although not quite yet up to LSU standards.

No. 5 Virginia Tech – Hello? The Hokies’ only loss is to Alabama. They’ve destroyed Miami. If Ole Miss handles Bama, The Fighting Beamers will have an argument.

No. 6 Boise State – Not likely. Off this week and already slipping in the polls. We’ll next know about the Broncos on Wednesday when they travel to Tulsa.

Game day notes: Four Tennessee true freshmen have combined for 215 all-purpose yards per game – Bryce Brown, David Oku, Nu’Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague … UCLA (hosting Oregon) has won six of its last nine home games against ranked teams … Off week chattel: Despite losing eight starters, USC goes into its bye week third in scoring defense, fifth in rushing defense and third in pass efficiency defense. The D has not allowed a passing touchdown this season … When Tim Tebow gets a concussion, the whole world stops. That’s why you probably don’t know that Rutgers’ freshman quarterback Tom Savage will try to play this week against Texas Southern after suffering his own concussion … Some things never change: South Florida freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels leads the team in rushing. It has been that way for the previous three years under out-for-his-career starter Matt Grothe … Demaryius Thomas looks out of place in Georgia Tech’s option-based offense. That doesn’t keep him from being one of the nation’s best receivers. Thomas has caught 24 of Georgia Tech’s 35 completions for 536 yards. He is averaging 107.2 yards per game … Cal has accomplished what has been done only 10 other times in Pac-10 history. It went back-to-back games mustering only field goals against both Oregon and USC. They go for a touchdown next week against UCLA … Freakin’ Idaho, 4-1, needs two wins to become bowl eligible. The Vandals’ one and only bowl appearance came in 1998 in the Humanitarian against Southern Miss (42-35 victory). It has one winning season since then.

Posted on: October 3, 2009 11:58 am
 

No. 1 Thomas Aquinas

The biggest game of the weekend in South Florida may have been played.

Twenty BCS-conference prospects took the field Friday night when No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (here in Ft. Lauderdale) beat No. 2 Byrnes (S.C.) 42-34. I'm not one for hyping high school players -- the game was on national television which gives me hives -- but this one was too big to ignore.

Aquinas' LaMarcus Joyner returned a kickoff 100 yards and had a 48-yard touchdown reception. Joyner says he is down to Florida and Ohio State. Byrnes tailback Marcus Lattimore (still undecided) had three fumbles and was held to less than 100 yards. Rutgers' Greg Schiano was in town to see his quarterback commit, Byrnes Chas Dodd (no relation). There were three Tennessee football commits on the field as well.

Other celebutants spotted in the crowd -- Urban Meyer and Aquinas alum Joe Castiglione. Oklahoma's AD is a South Florida guy having been a house boy for the late Jackie Gleason (The Great One did his show from Miami). Castiglione noticed one day that one of the Gleasons' dogs was missing. Turns out it had been eaten by a Gator.

All of this is very confusing for a guy who attended St. Thomas Aquinas (in Florissant, Mo.) and who has a daughter who attends St. Thomas Aquinas (in Overland Park, Kan.). Can I be a fan of the Florida Aquinas?
Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:14 am
Edited on: September 30, 2009 8:10 pm
 

National notes 1/4 of the way through the season

The best of September

Who would have thought by the end of the month …: USC would lose to Washington a week after a heart-stopping, game-winning drive at Ohio State? [Ok, maybe by now there are a few of you.] … Unranked the preseason, the Big East would have two marquee teams – Cincinnati and South Florida … Houston would have the best Big 12 record [2-0 after beating Oklahoma State and Texas Tech] … Two Heisman winners would be knocked out of games … NC State’s Russell Wilson would have a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 29-1 … Auburn’s Chris Todd would lead the SEC in touchdown passes [11] … Not that the SEC would have three teams in the top 10 in total defense but the Pac-10 would have two … The only three teams yet to allow a touchdown pass would be winless Eastern Michigan, undefeated South Florida and USC [3-1].

Coach of the month: Oregon’s Chip Kelly. On the night of September 3, his world was falling apart. LeGarrette Blount threw a punch and almost started a riot after Oregon looked punchless losing its season opener to Boise State.

Almost four weeks later, the Ducks might be the team to beat in the Pac-10. They have won three in a row, two over ranked teams and have a new lean-on tailback in redshirt freshman LaMichael James.

Team of the month: Miami. Playing September schedule in the country, the Hurricanes beat two ranked teams [Florida State, Georgia Tech] and showed signs of being its old self. Losing to Oklahoma this week wouldn’t be a disgrace. Coming out its death march 2-2 could be a jumping off point for an ACC title.

Also considered: Texas A&M, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Florida, Stanford, UCLA, Idaho.

Player of the month: [tie] You’re gagging on this by now but Florida would not not undefeated with Tim Tebow. His 24 rushes for 76 yards against Tennessee on Sept. 19 were the difference.

LSU safety Chad Jones is this season’s Charles Woodson. Against Mississippi State on Saturday, he single-handedly stopped Tyson Lee on back-to-back plays inches from the goal line. He also provided the eventual game-winning 93-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Worst conference: Based on previous accomplishments, it’s the MAC. The nation’s largest conference [13 teams] has only one team with a winning record coming out of September. [Central Michigan, 3-1]. The league is 13-29 in the non-conference, 7-27 against I-A competition and 3-19 against BCS conferences.

Best conference: SEC by a hair. The Big 12 has six ranked teams vs. the SEC’s four. But the SEC is 23-2 in the non-conference, a national best 6-2 against BCS conferences.

If you think the SEC has padded its schedule with I-AA teams, actually only the Sun Belt and Pac-10 have played fewer games against “inferior” competition. The SEC is 5-0 against I-AAs. The Big 12 is 9-0. Almost a third of its non-cons have come against I-AAs.

Best trend: Smaller offensive linemen. Boise has been doing it for a while but the Broncos are soaring toward a BCS berth with a line that averages 285 pounds. Remember those hog mollies at Michigan? They weigh in at a svelte average of 295 under Rich Rod who likes ‘em lighter and lively.

Worst trend: This month it had to be the coaches’ poll. It went into the season not exactly on the same page with the BCS commissioners. As long as the coaches are going to go completely  underground [hiding all their ballots] beginning in 2010, the possibility exists that the poll will be jettisoned from the BCS process next year.

As for now …

Steve Spurrier gave us a glimpse of his voting habits in July when he admitted that his football ops guy had filled out his preason all-SEC ballot. That caused a huge stir when Spurrier/ops guy didn’t make Tebow a unanimous choice. Spurrier/ops guy picked Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead but was allowed to change to Tebow after it became an issue.

Following convincing wins by No. 3 Alabama and No. 2 Texas on Sept. 19, Florida got all the first-place votes [55] for the first time this season after struggling to beat unranked Tennessee.

Then, there was this week. What a mess. 

No. 12 Oklahoma State is ranked three spots ahead of Houston, which beat the Cowboys by 10.

Cal, which just lost to Oregon by 39, is ranked seven spots ahead of the Ducks.

Penn State had beaten doggies Syracuse, Akron and Temple. After losing at home to Iowa it is No. 13, four spots ahead of the unbeaten Hawkeyes.

Keep it coming, fellas, can’t wait to see how this effects the BCS standings.

Team schizo: Florida State. Do you have to have it explained?

Say goodbye to:  BYU [in the BCS], Al Groh, Ralph Friedgen, Steve Kragthorpe.

Posted on: September 20, 2009 6:55 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2009 7:10 pm
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

The B.S. meter was off the charts this week. Let’s sweep away the pretenders …

 Please, no more “Is Nebraska back?” talk it actually beats someone.  Saturday’s 16-15 loss at Virginia Tech makes it 16 losses in a row on the road to top 20 teams. I don’t care if it was one point. I’m sure Bo Pelini isn’t reveling in the closeness of the final score.

You don’t let scatter-armed Tyrod Taylor loose long enough to complete an 80-yard pass that Dan Marino shouldn’t have been able to complete. It’s called situational defense, ‘Skers. You secondary lines up so it can’t be beaten over the top.

Check with us later Huskers, if you happen to win the Big 12 North. As for me, I’m checking out for now.

 B.S. also on BYU. How in the name of LaVell Edwards do the Cougars not show up in one of their biggest home games in years? It was the home opener, for gosh sakes, against a Florida State team that looked outmanned.

BYU just played itself out of the BCS championship and into the Las Vegas Bowl. Even if the Cougars run the table from here on in, voters would have to think long and hard about making this a BCS bowl team.

I mean, 54-28? Five turnovers. C’mon!

 B.S. on West Virginia which blew a 27-20 lead to Auburn, losing 41-30. Jarrett Brown threw four of the Mountaineer’s five interceptions. West Virginia committed four of their six turnovers in the fourth quarter.

 I’m also calling B.S. on Texas Tech which lost another road game to a ranked opponent.  The 34-24 loss to Texas came on the heels of last year’s blowout in Norman and the embarrassment in the Cotton Bowl.

Is it me or does The Pirate’s offense just not travel well?

 B.S., finally, on Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. I know he’s an amateur and he’s just a kid and doesn’t deserve the abuse but …

Dude, that throw against Notre Dame? Only the 7-11 is open more than teammate Larry Caper was in the end zone. Cousins air-mailed a potential game-winning touchdown pass over Caper’s head. On the next play, Cousins tossed an interception at the Notre Dame 4 when all his team needed was a field goal.

The Spartans had won six in a row in South Bend. Now they’ve lost consecutive games by a combined five points.


Observation deck

Why do I get the feeling that Jimmy Clausen is going to make a heck of a run at the Heisman? He’s a gunslinger to begin with. With Notre Dame’s defense sure to give up points, Clausen and the offense are going to have to outscore just about every team they play.

The Michigan Miracle overshadowed a good game by Clausen. Against the Spartans he completed his first 10 in a row and threw for 300 yards. Clausen is second in the nation in pass efficiency having thrown nine touchdowns against no interceptions. That’s the best ratio in the country.

 Speaking of ratios, North Carolina State’s Russell Wilson now has thrown 329 consecutive passes without an interception, an ongoing record. In his career, the sophomore had thrown 25 touchdown passes and one interception.

 Georgia could join the WAC. It has given up a combined 78 points the last two weeks and won both games. Joe Cox made his own statement throwing for five touchdowns in a 52-41 win at Arkansas.

The result overshadowed school records from Arkie’s Ryan Mallett in yards (408) and touchdowns (five). Mallett leads the country in pass efficiency.

 Texas’ Colt McCoy threw only eight interceptions all last season. He has four through three games in '09. In the first six games of last season McCoy threw only 34 incompletions. He has 35 already (75 of 110) through three games.

 This is what the ACC wanted: Miami and Florida State both at the top of the conference. It hasn’t happened quite yet but it looks like it’s coming This is about the branding of a conference. The ACC needs the Hurricanes and Noles in the polls battling for a championship and BCS bowl.

 Florida now has the nation’s longest winning streak at 13. Ole Miss and Southern Miss are tied for second, each with an eight-game streak.
 
--After taking in the national scene Saturday in one big bite I get the feeling that the team lurking in the grass is Alabama. Texas gave up 420 yards passing. Florida struggled with Tennessee. USC lost.

Bama keeps getting steadily better. It opens the SEC schedule this week against Arkansas. The Tide know how to beat Florida. Monte Kiffin did them a favor offering somewhat of a blueprint on Saturday.  Bama hasn’t played its best football yet.

 The other team that has to feel good about itself? Penn State just played three dogs to start the season, is ranked fourth in the coaches’ poll and has its toughest remaining game at home (against Ohio State on Nov. 7).

Can you imagine Joe Paterno in the BCS title game? Moses might do the coin toss as a special favor to an old friend.

 The right-now, no-hype, no-b.s., not-what-they-did last year Heisman rankings for this week.

1. Tim Tebow, Florida: The Gators don’t beat Tennessee unless Superman churns for 76 well-earned yards on 24 grinding carries.

Key stat of the game: Florida converted on nine of 14 third- and fourth downs. Guess who was responsible most of the time?
“I probably said it three times on the headset, ‘Is the guy ever going to wear out?’ Lane Kiffin said. “He’s not human.”

2. Jacory Harris, Miami.  We are witnessing the evolution of the next great 'Canes quarterback.

3. Eric Berry, Tennessee. If Tebow is the best offensive player in America, Berry is the best defensive player.

Eleven tackles, an interception and one head-to-head mash up with Tebow made Berry the second-most dominant player on the field.

I wrote a story in July suggesting Tennessee use him 50 snaps a game at quarterback. If Kiffin would have tried it on Saturday, the Vols would have won.

4. Jahvid Best, Cal: A school-record five touchdowns against Minnesota. The Bears needed every one of them. Best could earn a trip to New York in a couple of weeks with a big game against USC.

5. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame: See above.

Honorable mention: Landry Jones, Oklahoma: I don’t care if it’s against air, six touchdown passes is pretty impressive. Jones set the school record against Tulsa making me think that the Sooners might be OK until Sam Bradford returns.

Check back, though, in two weeks when the OU plays at Miami.

 Finally, for those needing motivation to beat Florida. Check out Breakaway Vacations. There were a stack of flyers from Breakaway at the front desk of the Gainesville Courtyard advertising travel packages for Florida fans to both the SEC championship game and national championship game.

BCS Packages Available Now!

There is a refund if “your team” doesn’t make it.

Good Lord, it’s only September.

Posted on: September 19, 2009 2:34 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2009 10:20 am
 

Vols arrive at The Swamp

No injuries were reported when Tennessee’s busses pulled up to The Swamp at 1:50 p.m.

I expected some birds lobbed, maybe a Coke thrown, but it was fairly tame. About 200 Vol fans formed a protective cocoon around the busses. Lane Kiffin was first out and remained stone faced. Eric Berry stopped to sign an autograph.

Other than that, it was a mini-Vol Walk.

“We came to win,” one middle-aged UT fan told me. “I didn’t come to eat the Huddle House .”

 


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 15, 2009 11:19 pm
 

Kiffin pulls a Mike Gundy

The last thing I thought Lane Kiffin would do this is muzzle his quarterback. After a three-interception game against UCLA, Kiffin made his fifth-year guy Jonathan Crompton off limits to the media during Florida week.

A freshman? Maybe. If Crompton is old enough to vote and go to war, he can answer a few questions about playing a bad football game. Let's hope that JC is emotionally healed enough to lose 35-3 at Florida. (That, by the way, is a compliment. All this 63-10 stuff is crap. Tennessee's defense is too strong.)

"It blows me away sometimes how much hatred there is toward him ... " Kiffin said of Crompton.

"I'm not going to pull a Mike Gundy but the kid is in college. He's a college kid, he's a great student and I feel bad for him. Make sure you understand, there ain't a guy in the country trying harder than him. That's preparing harder or doing more to try and do things right. He's going to do well for us."

 

Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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