Category:NCAAF
Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 1:28 pm
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Daily Surf Report: FSU's disappointing start

The Oklahoma loss was painful, but FSU's loss at Clemson is potentially and excruciatingly devastating, writes Mike Bianchi.

This heart-wrenching, nail-biting 35-30 defeat to Clemson hurts so badly because it puts a Florida State season of such promise and potential on life support. The national title is gone. The conference title is in jeopardy. "We were our own worst enemy," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said after his team committed 11 game-changing penalties for 124 momentum-sapping yards.

It's now official: Florida State is not back. Not even close. Can we agree upon that now?

I got loads of hate mail from FSU fans last week when I had the audacity to chastise the ridiculous concept that the Seminoles should be satisfied by keeping it close and "only" losing by 10 points to No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. I said it then and I'll say it again: Moral victories are for directional schools, not big-time college football programs.

I was on the Noles bandwagon coming into this season. I didn't think they'd win the BCS title, but I thought they'd be a top-five team. They still might be able to get there this year, but it does not look good right now. They're just 113th in rushing, 105th in sacks allowed and 87th in turnover margin despite opening against two woeful opponents. The biggest issues for them emerged in Death Valley on defense, where they really lost focus and committed back-breaking penalties and some assignment busts. They just couldn't get off the field on third downs as Tajh Boyd, a guy who had only a handful of starts, playing in a new system, carved them up.  On top of that, Greg Reid, their top CB, has had the kind of off-field problems you wouldn't expect from a junior trying to show he's a leader.

I know the Noles are killing it recruiting. Of course, they always seem to be killing it in recruiting. It's the focus on the field, which Jimbo Fisher said all off-season he was confident was getting there, that has been lacking. Up next for them is five straight games against teams they should pound before they host a Miami team that looks pretty shaky too. I'm not sure they can prove to anyone outside of FSU diehards that they are even close to back until the final week of the regular season when they visit the Swamp.

*One of Miami's top commits, Miami Norland High School LB Keith Brown visited Clemson over the weekend and "loved" it and told CaneSport that while he would still consider himself a very soft Hurricane commitment, he also says "most likely I won't be going to Miami."

Because Brown wants to know what NCAA sanctions UM faces before he graduates in December. He doesn't want to wind up on campus in January and find out about any punishment afterward. What would it take from the NCAA to keep him on board with Miami? "Probably no bowl games and no TV time and taking scholarships away," Brown said. "One year is no problem. Probably two or three (would cause him to go elsewhere)."

Thing is, Miami almost certainly will NOT know its fate with the NCAA by Signing Day, much less in December when mid-year signees would need to know.
*Mike Locksley was fired over the weekend. The move comes as no surprise. His time at New Mexico was a complete debacle. In fact, it was a tour de force for coaching ineptitude. He was 2-26 and, it wasn't like they were close. The Lobos were getting drilled by teams, not close to turning the corner. Worse still, he himself had all sorts of embarrassing issues off the field on top of that. I was stunned he got a third season. 

*The Randy Edsall Era at Maryland has begun with a thud and John Feinstein isn't buying that the former UCONN coach was brought in to rebuild a wreck of a program.

“This is a process we are in,” Edsall said after the Terrapins’ humiliating 38-7 loss to Temple on Saturday. “It was not going to get changed overnight no matter how much I want it to.”

Saturday was not a good day for Edsall on any level and, while he was candid in admitting that his team wasn’t ready to play (no kidding) it was a cop-out for him to fall back on the “this is a process” cliche. Al Golden, who took over at Temple in 2006 when the Owls had been kicked out of the Big East and had gone 38-151 under three coaches in 17 seasons, had a real process to go through.

Edsall needs to spend less time making announcements about uniforms and more time getting them ready to play in those uniforms.

Finestein makes a good point. Edsall inherited a team with the best QB in the ACC. Danny O'Brien is the kind of building block few others have. The Terps also have some pretty good talent on defense. There are some holes, but going into this season, this looked like an eight-win team. Now, after a dismal 1-2 start with a hefty ACC stretch coming in early October, you wonder if this team will even make it to a bowl game.
*After getting blown out in the fourth quarter at ASU, the USC offense merits a D+ grade, writes Michael Lev.
QB Matt Barkley missed Woods for a touchdown, threw two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and lost a fumble on a sack. … The offense converted only 1 of 9 third-down attempts and scored touchdowns on just 2 of 6 trips into the red zone.
Heading into the weekend, I'd received some Tweets from some Trojan fans grousing about why Barkley wasn't being included in more Heisman talk. My feeling was that despite some impressive stats, the jury was still out on whether Barkley should be in the discussion with other Heisman contenders. He has struggled late in games and in crunch time. He and this USC team also haven't shined in many big spots against tough competition. Those are the kinds of things you must do to be seriously in the Heisman mix in the end.

The way they fell apart Saturday night has become shockingly common with this USC program in the past few years now. They also seemingly have too much talent at their skill positions to be only 79th in offense. We'll see if they can get it sorted out. The Trojans have a very interesting October coming up with games at Cal, at Notre Dame and then against Stanford. Those are games that people will keep an eye on. Not against Syracuse and Minnesota.





 



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:20 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 10:06 am
 

Daily Surf Report: Larry Scott laying down law

The Pac-12's statement last night announcing that it would NOT expand was surprising to many observers, myself included. The statement itself was more telling than you often see when conferences put out their alerts or news releases:

 
". . . While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve. With new landmark TV agreements and plans to launch our innovative television networks, we are going to focus solely on these great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us."

Included in the statement was the "culture of equality that we are committed to preserve" which was clearly a reference to Texas and its Longhorn Network. The assumption many were making was that at some point if Texas would get to the Pac-12--and Texas' role in all of this stuff was the most intriguing (Pac-12 vs. ACC vs. Independence vs. Trying to keep the Big 12 alive)--is that UT and Larry Scott would be able to finesse the LHN deal into the conference's TV model, but that was part of the deal breaker for all of this.

Of course, this news does not mean the conference realignment chaos is over. If anything, it just shows how much bigger of a mess the Big 12 schools' dynamic actually is now. 

Richard Justice, the long-time Houston Chronicle columnist, tweeted this Wednesday morning: "For one day, sanity ruled college sports. Whether it'll last for a decade or an hour is beside the point. It's a start."
I think "sanity" is Larry Scott. And I think he's only beginning to flex his muscle. Dan Beebe, the "head" of the Big 12, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. *LSU may have lost the best DB in college football in Patrick Peterson, but the Tigers have two DBs, Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu who both may lack the big corner's size, but also now are being considered as first-round talents, reports Glenn Guilbeau.
"I think Claiborne is a first round pick now," NFL Draft expert Mike Detillier said. "I do not see him returning for his senior year. Tyrann could also be a first round pick. They don't have the size and speed of Peterson, but they're both great cornerbacks."


Mathieu at 5-foot-9 and 180 and Claiborne at 6-0, 185 are built like most cornerbacks. Peterson was freakish at 6-1, 219, but LSU coach Les Miles sees parts of Peterson in both players. "I think Mo is as fast and athletic as any," Miles said Monday at his press luncheon. "His athleticism, fluidity and ball skills are equal, but Patrick was bigger, stronger and more explosive. I would certainly like to have Mo at either corner and Patrick at any corner as well."

Miles sees Peterson's sixth sense for playmaking in Mathieu. "Tyrann anticipates making the play," he said. "He makes plays that only a guy who thinks he can blitz and not be blocked can make. He just thinks he can chase the ball, get to the ball, catch the ball and strip the ball. He looks at every piece of a play as an opportunity to enhance his opportunity to make another play. He is a guy that sees each opportunity as incredible and tries to throw his body around it. I see it in a number of our guys at times. It happens with some regularity with our guys."
I'll have a lot more about the talent on this LSU defense next week in a bigger story on the site.
 
*Notre Dame freshman DE Aaron Lynch is making a big impact for the Irish, who have been desperate to find a difference-maker up front for a long time, as Tom Davis reports.

After racking up just one tackle in the first two games, Lynch accounted for five total tackles and a sack of Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins. In a game that had a combined 13 quarterback hurries between the two squads, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound youngster had six of those himself.

“If (Lynch) didn't get to the quarterback, he got held,” coach Brian Kelly said.

*Top 2013 QB prospect Shane Morris not only is already committed to Michigan, he's also working very hard recruiting for the Wolverines as well, reports Tim Sullivan.

“Definitely, I'm just trying to get the best players in the country to come to Michigan,” Morris said. “In person, on Facebook or whatever I have to do to get a hold of them.”

That approach paid off for Morris following the night game against Notre Dame. Thanks, in part, to his hard work, Alliance (Ohio) Marlington defensive back Dymonte Thomas committed to U-M. He's the second commitment in Michigan’s class of 2013. “I’ve been recruiting him hard,” Morris said, “He’s a great kid, and we’re really good friends. I didn’t think he was ready to commit yet. We’re all really excited about that. He’s going to be one of the best players in Ohio next year.”

Morris has other recruiting targets in his sights, too. Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian wide receiver Jordan Payton and Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes offensive lineman Zach Banner attended the Notre Dame, and Morris gave his best pitch for Michigan to the senior prospects. “I talked to Jordan Payton and Zach Banner for a long time,” Morris said. “I tried to talk to everyone I could out there and build relationships.”



 


Category: NCAAF
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 4:29 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Stats That Matter: Broken tackles Hokie style

Last spring I began a recurring element to my blog called Stats That Matter. It was a way to examine the approach of a coach about some slightly outside the box statistic that the NCAA doesn't officially keep track of. The goal: illuminating a key detail the coach sees as reflective of their success. This week's Stats That Matter features Va. Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer who focuses on the real secret to what makes Hokie tailback David Wilson one of the breakout stars of 2011: Tackles Broken.

Beamer, who just returned to Blacksburg after coaching at Miss. State and South Carolina, noted that Wilson broke an astounding 15 tackles in the Hokies opener against Appalachian State. Beamer then was informed by Billy Hite, Tech's former RB coach who has been around Blacksburg since before TV was invented, that Wilson's performance actually qualified as a Hokie record for tackles broken in a game. Then, in WK 2, against East Carolina, Wilson almost tied his own school record, by breaking 14 tackles.

Beamer says he has been amazed at just how powerful the 205-pounder is. "I knew from watching him on TV how fast he is and how explosive he was is," said Beamer. "I had no idea just how strong he was. You go into our weight room and he holds two of the all-time records for running backs in power clean and the front squat. You watch him in the weight room and he's right up there with our offensive linemen in leg strength and a lot of things."

As Miss. State's running backs coach, Beamer had a talented, bruising tailback in Anthony Dixon, but the assistant said the 240-pounder never piled up the broken tackle numbers the way Wilson is doing. "Anthony was a great player, but he didn't have David's speed and explosiveness," Beamer said. In 2010, he was an assistant at South Carolina, but wasn't coaching running backs so he isn't sure how Wilson's numbers measure up to Gamecock star Marcus Lattimore. "I know Marcus had a bunch of em. I remember last year when we played Georgia, he had an obscene number of broken tackles and yards after contact."

Seeing Wilson power through tacklers, though, has proven to be an even bigger revelation for the younger Beamer: "I coach the kickoff return team here. I tell those guys 'you gotta continue playing until you hear the whistle because there's a shot where it looks like David is tackled and the play is over and then the next thing you know, you look and he's still running. And the guy who we were actually double-teaming, made the tackle or else he'd have scored a touchdown on the kickoff return.' So we have to continue to teach our guys with David the play is not over till the whistle blows."

The first thing Beamer does on Sunday morning when he arrives at the office is grade the game film from the previous day. In addition Beamer keeps tabs on tackles broken and yards after contact. He does not include the tackles Wilson breaks on kick returns in his game total, but he does factor in the ones he breaks on receptions. (Thus far, Wilson has only broken one tackle as a receiver in 2011.) Beamer said there isn't a place on the wall in the running backs room where he keeps the players total tackles broke, but says he probably should have one. "We talk about it on Mondays as a running backs group and we talk about it in front of the team. When a running back plays well, the one stat that we always include is the number of broken tackles that he had."

Beamer's criteria: "I count (a broken tackle) as any time where there is a defender in position to make a play and he gets a hand, arm, shoulder on the guy and doesn't bring him down. I don't count a broken tackle as (the ball-carrier) just making a guy miss in the open field or where he just runs away from somebody. The guy has to be in good position to make the tackle and get a body part on him."

The coach also doesn't include any time Wilson drags a tackler, say, five yards downfield before going down. "If I guy makes contact and then gets him down, I'll give him yards after contact but not 'a broken tackle.' It has to be a guy he breaks away from and that guy doesn't make the tackle."

By talking about a stat and emphasizing it, players take note. It becomes a source of pride, which is just how the coach wants it. "I think it's an important statistic," Beamer said. "The great running backs are the ones that are breaking tackles. They're always falling forward on contact. That's the other great thing about David. He's always falling forward and those yards add up. To me, it's so important. We talk to our running backs all the time about breaking tackles and being physical, and that's all a part of it."

Wilson, an All-American in track as a triple jumper, has clearly matured as a back. In his first two seasons at Tech, he averaged 5.7 and 5.5 yards per carry. This year he's averaging 7.1 as he's learned to become a more patient back while becoming even stronger after arriving at Tech at 194 pounds. "He is high-energy guy, so you have to constantly talk to him about the details--his alignment, how deep he is from the ball, taking the right step, making the right read," said Beamer. "We always talk to him about letting everything slow down for him--give your blockers time to get out there and get set up before you hit the hole. Last year, he got the ball and he just went full speed. There was no patience. 

"He probably felt like when he got in there, he'd better make something happen because with Ryan (Williams) and Darren (Evans), he didn't know how long he'd be in there. He's done a good job. He's not looking over his shoulder."

Now Wilson is the one everyone needs to be looking out for.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Va Tech
 
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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