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
Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 12:04 pm

Morning Surf Report: Pressure on FSU D

The biggest game of the week in at FSU where the Noles look for revenge after getting drilled last year at Oklahoma. Coley Harvey lists five reasons why the Seminoles could pull the upset. The biggest in my eyes was his No. 2:

Improved defense. After two games against comparable cupcakes, it is tough to tell just how much better the Seminoles appear to be defensively. But if their 10-point effort in two games is any indication – the lone touchdown the defense gave up came on a drive started at its own 3 – it looks like they have improved and put last year's 47-point effort at Oklahoma behind them. With added depth after back-to-back strong recruiting classes, the Seminoles have been able to build rotations all across the unit. By the fourth quarter of what should be a close game, the unit should be relatively fresh. 

When I visited FSU in the spring, Nole CB Greg Reid admitted to me he and his teammates thought they knew what they were getting themselves into, but they really didn't know what they didn't know. "That no-huddle offense killed us," Reid said. "I've never went through anything like that before in my life. It was a real learning experience. Coach [Mark] Stoops [FSU's defensive coordinator] kept saying, 'Y'all better tighten up. Y'all don't know what you're getting yourselves into.' And we were like, 'Aw, man, we got this. It's just a football game.' I had no idea. I'm looking over to the sidelines for a play and they're already hiking the ball. I can't imagine how hard it was for the D-line. That was real tough."
  As much as the final score looked like a rout, the game wasn't even that close. Through three quarters, the Sooners led 44-7. Landry Jones, the Sooner QB, torched the Noles' defense, going 30-for-40 for 380 yards and four TDs.

"I believe we really didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, but this year, they have to come to the big brick place, they gotta come to Tallahassee," Reid said. "Everybody's excited. This place will be jam-packed. We got something on our shoulders where we have to prove a point, especially if they're preseason No. 1. From a defensive standpoint, we just have to stay focused, have fun and communicate. Not let the quick hurry-up offense get to us."

* Even though Stanford thumped Duke 44-14 in Durham, Jon Wilner notes there were some areas of concern for the Cardinal.

The Blue Devils aren’t any good, and yet they gave Stanford problems for a half, especially with their use of delayed blitzes to pressure Luck. I haven’t seen him get hit that much … ever. If he weren’t bigger than many of the players hitting him, he might have gotten banged up. Watch for upcoming Cardinal opponents to use the same defensive tactics — and with better players.

I spoke to a Duke staffer Monday who noted that the Blue Devils did have some success with delayed blitzes and they'd hit Luck when they brought six and seven defenders. They also had some success using line twists. But as Wilner says, this is a mediocre Duke defense. It is really young right now. Luck and the Cardinal O-line will face much tougher very soon.

* More bad news for Mark Richt and Georgia: The team's top tackler, LB Christian Robinson will miss at least a couple of games with a foot injury sustained in Saturday's loss to South Carolina, the AJC reports

The injury, coming one week after Alec Ogletree suffered a broken foot in the season opener, leaves Georgia (0-2, 0-1 SEC) without both of its starting inside linebackers. Compounding the problem, inside linebacker was probably the thinnest position area on Georgia's defense and the one in which the team was least equipped to withstand injuries.

"We've definitely got a challenge at the linebacker position right now," Richt said.

Ogletree, who underwent surgery last week, is expected to be sidelined up to six weeks. Richt did not have medical details on Robinson's injury -- he suggested it might involve a hairline fracture -- but said it was not as severe as Ogletree's.

Over the weekend, Va. Tech's budding star David Wilson ran for 138 yards on 26 carries against ECU. In two games, he's now run for 300 yards. He's also broken 29 tackles, per the VT staff with him breaking 14 tackles on Saturday.

* Rob Lohr was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. The junior DT, who came to Vandy as a tight end/DE, became the first Commodore defender in more than a decade to post four tackles for loss. Lohr's four tackles for loss were the most by a 'Dore defender since linebacker Jamie Winborn contributed five such tackles against No. 6 Florida on Nov. 4, 2000.

  * Tweet of the Day: From Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis, who has has been sidelined with a broken foot. @TravisLewis28 For everyone that's that's asking. . . Ill let y'all know by the end of the day if ill going to play this week  
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 9, 2011 11:31 am
Edited on: September 9, 2011 1:02 pm

Morning Surf Report: ASU still an enigma?

One of the most intriguing teams in 2011 steps into the national spotlight tonight when Arizona State hosts #21 Missouri. Yeah, it's a chance for the country to see the Sun Devils new unis with the new pitchfork logo, but the real curious part will be seeing just how much things with this bunch have changed on the field, if at all.

No question that coach Dennis Erickson is on the hot seat. ASU has not had a winning season since way back in 2007, Erickson's first year there. They're 0-10 in their last 10 games against ranked teams.

To say the Sun Devils have had a propensity for melting down in crucial situations would be an understatement. Still, they come into the season as the team most experts feel will come out of the Pac-12 South division thanks to a nasty defense, led by a talented D-line and ferocious MLB Vontaze Burfict.

As I said last night on "Inside College Football" on CBS Sports Network, the big questions with this team are these: can Brock Osweiler play like a big-time QB, and can the Sun Devils finally knock off all the knucklehead penalties?

Osweiler, the surprisingly nimble 6-8 one-time Gonzaga hoops commit, is talented and is very confident, but it's nights like tonight: national TV against a ranked opponent that will define him. I spoke to ASU OC Noel Mazzone Wednesday night about his young QB. "Let's see how he handles adversity," the coach said. "Now everybody expects something."

Last year, Osweiler had two starts late in the season and played well, and ASU won both. But Mazzone pointed out that Osweiler really struggled early against Arizona. Osweiler was 2-10 in the first quarter and just 8-23 in the first half. Osweiler went 9-13 though in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes in the 30-29 win.

"He was kinda rattled to start," said Mazzone. "He has to play a whole game."

I expect Osweiler to respond well. The other question about ASU is more complicated. In Week One, ASU's ringleader Vontaze Burfict put up an eye-catching stat line: three sacks, zero penalties. But as the competition level rises, can he and his teammates keep their focus? Earlier in the week, I wrote about Burfict's conversation with his idol Ray Lewis, who prodded him to make better decisions as the young linebacker tries to straddle the line between playing with an edge and being out of control. For some, that line is much more narrow than others. And, as I wrote, that level of focus is actually a talent not that much different than speed or strength. We'll soon find out if ASU has that in them.

*I was really impressed by Oklahoma State last night. The Cowboys jumped on Arizona right away. Brandon Weeden was smokin' hot, hitting on 14 of his first 15 passes. He was in total control, playing like a talented QB in his late 20s against inexperienced college kids. RB Joseph Randle, who packed on 10 pounds of muscle this off-season, showed he's become a more physical runner to go with being a superb receiver and is an emerging star. Better still, the OSU D didn't allow Zona to have any semblance of a running game. This is a very dangerous OSU team.
  Meanwhile, Arizona, plagued with inexperience on both lines, now faces games against Oregon, Stanford and at USC up next and is staring at the  possibility of a 1-4 start.
*In all my years of covering sports, I’ve never seen  a prepared statement like the one new Gators coach Will Muschamp released Thursday night after the NCAA suspended UF defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd for two games for accepting impermissible benefits, writes Mike Bianchi.

According Will Muschamp’s statements, these impermissible benefits weren’t impermissable at all; they were righteous and good. They were not from agents or boosters who were affiliated with any university; they were from charitable people who were simply helping a kid with no parents who was essentially living on the streets of Philadelphia when he was in high school.

Usually prepared statements are carefully worded and crafted by the school’s PR department, but not this one. This one obviously came straight from Will Muschamp’s mouth — and his heart. Muschamp has been nicknamed “Coach Boom” and now we know why. In his prepared statement, he absolutely erupted on the NCAA’s ruling. . . . 

Let’s be honest, if Muschamp felt Floyd was a blatant cheater he wouldn’t have attacked the NCAA like he did. He would have quietly taken the two-game suspension against Florida’s first two humpty-dumpty opponents — FAU last week and UAB this week — and been thankful Floyd didn’t miss the Tennessee and Alabama games, too. If I’m reading Muschamp’s statement right, he is saying Floyd, a kid from a dirt-poor background who grew up without parents, was suspended by the NCAA for receiving handouts from charitable people and organizations while he was in high school.  I do not know if this is the case or not, but if it is then the NCAA has seemingly overstepped its bounds. How do you suspend a kid in college for accepting food, money and living expenses in high school while he was living with 10 other kids in his great grandmother’s basement apartment?

*TCU could be without two key starters for the Air Force game due to injury: LB Tanner Brock (foot) and RB Ed Wesley (shoulder), reports Stefan Stevenson

*Recruiting is a cold business, as this Teddy Greenstein story about Northwestern QB (and one-time Stanford commit) Kain Colter illustrates.

During his first game that fall, Colter heard a "pop" after throwing a post route. An MRI revealed a torn labrum and biceps, but he kept playing as a running back and receiver while rehabbing a shoulder that eventually needed surgery. Stanford originally stuck by him, but then their correspondences dwindled. They wanted his MRI results and claimed he would have to wait for clearance from the admissions office. Interesting for a kid who carried a 4.2 grade-point average.

Finally, Spencer said, "They just stopped calling. It was a bad situation. I wanted them to man up and talk to Kain."

"We're going to honor our commitment," NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "The coaches who punt on guys when they get hurt, it's pathetic. It's these kids' futures."

*The prospect of Texas going independent is a daunting one and one that could alienate UT from the rest of the college sports world,
writes Kirk Bohls.

At this point, independence is looking like the end result. Why?

Ego and power.

Texas does not want to concede either. It doesn't want to give up its precious Longhorn Network, nor does it want its clout diminished by joining another established conference where it won't have as big a say. By clinging to their new toy — a valuable one, at that — and flaunting it, and insisting on uneven revenue sharing, the Longhorns have alienated the rest of the conference, created unrest and acrimony, and thrown their weight around so much that schools in their own league see them as a bully.

Yes, they are the Joneses.
*Nebraska OC Tim Beck said true freshman right tackle Tyler Moore was "probably our most consistent linemen throughout the course of the day. We probably played Tyler too much in the first game because it's a long season and we're going to need all those guys," Beck said, according to the Journal Star.

*James Gayle, a redshirt sophomore got Va. Tech's lone sack in the season-opening win over Appalachian State, continuing his emergence as VT’s most dangerous, and consistent, playmaker along the defensive line, writes Mark Giannotto.

During spring practice, Gayle had six sacks, including at least one in four of the team’s scrimmages. Then, last month, he exploded for four sacks in one preseason scrimmage. Gayle said Tuesday the light bulb went on during the spring, when the defensive scheme finally became second nature. He also won the team’s Excalibur award for his work in the offseason strength and conditioning program, where he bench-pressed 420 pounds and ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash.  It’s important to note that Gayle, who’s now listed at 6 feet 4 and 257 pounds, has added close to 40 pounds onto his frame since arriving at Virginia Tech. Then again, the Hampton native has some good bloodlines, too.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 12:32 pm

Morning Surf Report: On Wisconsin & on Criner

Stat of the Day: Courtesy of Mike Lucas, Wisconsin accumulated 499 yards of total offense on just 53 plays vs. UNLV, averaging 9.42 yards per play. No team facing an FBS opponent had a higher average in WK 1.

  *Speaking of the Badgers, they have a pretty good Red Zone weapon to keep an eye on in TE Jacob Pedersen, writes Tom Mulhern. 

Not counting a kneel-down they took at the end of the Northwestern game, the Badgers have scored on 56 of their past 57 trips into the red zone over 11 games, with 50 TDs.
  The red-zone success starts with a strong running game but having good tight ends is also vital. Pedersen, a sophomore, is quickly developing a nice feel in that area, with three touchdowns in 10 career receptions. 

“I do think he’s got some pretty good natural instincts,” OC Paul Chryst said. “When you said ‘feel,’ I think that’s really accurate. He is a guy who does feel things, with good understanding.”

*Enigmatic Arizona WR Juron Criner will not play in tonight's game at Oklahoma State, the Arizona Republic reports.

This week, coach Mike Stoops said Criner had a medical issue but did not go into details and hoped he would play. But Criner's condition did not allow him to travel.

"Our offense, as you can see from a week ago, is not just one player," Stoops said at the start of the week. "Juron has a big-play knack, but we have other players who can make plays."

The Cats will miss the play-making skills of the big WR, although they do have some decent options without him. Texas transfer Dan Buckner is a gifted target, who caught four passes for 38 yards against NAU in the opener. Redshirt freshman Austin Hill who caught a 24-yard TD play in WK 1, is another guy their staff is high on. I was told by a source at U of A Thursday morning that Criner did not make the trip, but is expected to be back in action for the rest of the season.

*Here is a cool story about Oregon asst. Scott Frost, one of the true rising stars in the coaching world, talking about giving back and mentoring

I was lucky enough to have a great father. Most of these kids we have problems with weren't. And to me, that was a huge motivation to get involved with something like this. Just seeing the guys on my team that didn't have it and the effect it had on them. If you're around it every day like I am, it's amazing to see. I've been involved a lot of my life in mentoring. I did it at Kansas State with Big Brothers Big Sisters. My next coaching job was atUniversity of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. And I was with Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

Probably the best experience of my life in regards to mentoring has happened at Oregon. I got to Oregon and I decided I wanted to do it again. Went to a guy named James Harris that does great things for our program, that kind of works with outreach programs, and I said I wanted to mentor someone. He suggested I get involved with a group called A Family for Every Child that does basically what Big Brothers Big Sisters does but does it with foster kids. 

They set me up with a kid named Chris, who was a sophomore at the time at Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore. Chris is a great kid. I really don't know how he turned out as well as he did. He's been in and out of foster homes his whole life -- five different ones, I think. Love Chris to death. I ended up being a mentor to him for about two years. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:24 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:35 am

Morning Surf Report: Conference Chaos

All of this conference realignment stuff is completely out of control. I woke up this morning and was scrolling through my Twitter feed and some of it feels soooo farcical at this point. 'Oh, now Ken Starr is in the middle of this?!?' You have a hard time figuring out what is really happening and what is being conjured up by The Onion or EDSBS.

Texas' role in this is fascinating to observe. Jon Wilner brought up some interesting points about the Big 12 lynchpin.

 Texas is used to being the big boy on the block. In the Pac-16, it would have the same revenue cut and the same voting power as Texas Tech (and Washington State, for that matter). And UT would have to fold The Longhorn Network (four years of work) into the Pac-12′s regional network structure, allowing plenty of Texas Tech programming on the airwaves. None of that seems desirable for the Longhorns.
The Longhorns — with the aid of ESPN, which wants the Big 12 to survive — would attempt to reconstitute the conference with Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State, Iowa State and a handful of newcomers (Houston? SMU? Pittsburgh? Louisville?) before throwing in the towel.

Nothing surprises me any more with this stuff. It's all a money grab. I'd be sorry to see some of the great rivalries disappear (Texas-Texas A&M for one) but as followers of the sport, we'd adjust. We might have no choice and they know we're still addicted to the games.

*Ohio State QB Joe Bauserman had a strong debut last weekend, and even though it came against one of the worst teams in FBS, the change in his demeanor, in addition to his production, is noteworthy, as Tim May writes

In last week’s season opener against Akron, there was something noticeably different about Bauserman. He was engaged, running around and talking with teammates and coaches. And in the midfield hive when the team took the field en masse for full warm-ups, he was in the middle of it all, helping lead the cheers. Before making his first start as a collegian, he was leading in any way he could, much the way coach Luke Fickell and quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano had urged him to do throughout the summer. That he hadn’t been that way before probably wasn’t his fault, since the past two years he was the backup to Terrelle Pryor. It’s hard to be a leader when, in fact, you aren’t.

  “You sit there behind Terrelle and he’s the guy everybody looks up to, and it’s hard to go in there (in the huddle) and say stuff,” Bauserman said. “People kind of, ‘What’s this?’ I tried not to worry myself with that.”
*I saw on the Inside College Football show on CBS Sports TV that my colleague Rich Rodriguez is picking Cincy to knock off Tennessee. And, at the heart of this game is that the Vols' D-line is in for a challenge this week, Andrew Gribble reports.

Those new faces will see a similar, sped-up tempo that Montana used when it faces a physically enhanced version from Cincinnati on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.). It's expected to be a steep test for UT's defense as a whole, but especially the defensive line, which will have to be wary of quarterback Zach Collaros' mobility and a running game that produced 387 rushing yards in its season-opening romp against Austin Peay.

The onus goes beyond the starting line of Smith, Hood, Jackson and Martin. Players such as Corey Miller, Ayres, Couch, Walls, Willie Bohannon and even linebacker Curt Maggitt, who plays on the defensive line in UT's pass-likely nickel package, all will have a hand in trying to limit an offense that Dooley has heaped endless praise upon throughout the week.

"You've got to have at least eight guys ready to go into battle each week," Miller said. "We have to prepare ourselves and be ready to work."

I'll disagree with Coach Rod. I'm picking the Vols in this match-up.

*Forget San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson. In Blacksburg, Va, Tech OT Blake DeChristopher owns "The Beard" that counts, writes Randy King.

The senior offensive tackle and his renowned facial hair and long curly locks made a rare appearance at Tuesday's game-week news conference. He was very comfortable. When a reporter told him he looked awesome, DeChristopher replied: "I appreciate it, and The Beard appreciates it, too."

When asked what he would like to do down the road in life, the zany Midlothian native said: "I would like to do something. That'd be nice. I'm sure The Beard would enjoy that, too."

*Francis Kallon is making Georgia Tech look smart with its decision to both offer a football scholarship and accept a commitment before the transfer from London, England, had ever played in organized game of football, writes Michael Carvell

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Kallon has dominated in his first two games with Central Gwinnett High School, which plays in Georgia’s largest classification. Kallon has 19 total tackles, 6 tackles for losses, 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and a blocked punt.

Sir Francis has a rags-to-riches recruiting story. He moved with his mother from England to the Atlanta area last year. Kallon had never played football in his life but went out for Central Gwinnett’s team last May. College scouts couldn’t believe the new kid’s rare combination of size and athleticism, stacking up nearly a dozen offers for Kallon after only two weeks of spring practice. He committed to Georgia Tech last June.

Let's see if three months from now, the traditional SEC powers, the likes of FSU and some others come hard after Tech's find and try and turn Kallon. The recruiting stock of the late-bloomer is always one of the more intriguing stories in that subculture of college football.

*Tweet of the Day: From Louisiana-based writer Scott Rabalais

@ScottRabalais: Miles says from a recruiting standpoint, "Texas will become SEC country" if A&M joins. #LSU

I disagree with Les Miles' assertion. Will it help SEC schools to recruit Texas better with A&M in the family? Yes. But for so many Texas kids, they only know UT as Texas, not Tennessee. The Longhorns are what they -- and their families -- have grown up with. Texas may lose some kids to the Alabamas, LSUs and Floridas, but it won't lose many of the ones it really wants.

Category: NCAAF
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