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
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:08 am

Morning Surf Report: Questions for Miami remain

Maryland and UnderArmour did do Miami a big favor Monday night. Thanks to their hideous unis, it had the Twitterworld riveted and talking about something other than the Nevin Shapiro scandal that has rocked the Canes program. Well, at least for an hour or two.

    The Miami-Maryland game was one of the more entertaining games of WK 1. I was impressed by Terps QB Danny O'Brien who showed why he's one of the better young quarterbacks in college football. He did make a big mistake in the Red Zone early when he threw a pass, where it seemed he could've trotted into the end zone and ended up getting picked by safety Vaughn Telamaque. However, O'Brien responded by making many more sound decisions and several excellent throws albeit against a severely depleted Canes D. Former MD coach Ralph Friedgen did a really nice job with O'Brien, who goes through his progressions very well and unloads the ball quickly. He plays like a senior, not a sophomore.

  As for Miami, there were many encouraging signs for a program dealing with some key suspensions and huge distractions. QB Stephen Morris played, for at least about 55 minutes of action, pretty well, showing newfound savvy. A few weeks back I visited with Canes new OC Jedd Fisch who talked about how much he liked Morris' "gunslinger" mindset. There is good and bad to that for the young, strong-armed soph. The bad in that showed up later in the game, but there is still  a lot to build on there. 

Lamar Miller was the best player on the field, and he will be a star at UM. He's not only ridiculously fast, but he's worked hard to develop as a runner. He told me in mid-August that he's become a more patient runner since he now realizes he doesn't feel like he has to turn every carry into a long TD run since he knows he's going to get plenty of carries. That added discipline, along with more attention to detail, courtesy of new RB coach Terry Richardson is another big plus. Two other offensive weapons for UM, who people inside the program have been raving about for two years, wideouts Allen Hurns and Tommy Streeter, finally stepped up in actual games.

Going forward, there are two big questions about Miami: How much of a boost does this team get now that many of their best defenders get back on the field, along with speedy WR Travis Benjamin and QB Jacory Harris? Do they have the stuff--not just the "talent"--to compete for an ACC title? We'll find that out in their next time out when Ohio State visits. They obviously need help, but when you consider they almost beat a solid Terps team despite missing four of their top five defenders, they are intriguing.

The other question, and this one is going to take much longer to get an answer for, is beyond these player suspensions, what exactly will the Shapiro Scandal translate to in the NCAA's eyes?

I agree with my colleague Brett McMurphy who says the "best thing for Miami is for the NCAA to finish its investigation as quickly as possible. Then, and only then, will the Hurricanes finally know what penalties await them and they can deal with them and move forward. Until then, there's no way they can combat the endless speculation: Death penalty? Postseason ban? Massive scholarship hits? TV ban? Vacate all their wins for an entire decade? They might get all of those sanctions or a combination, but the truth is no one really knows -- and that's the worst thing for Miami right now: dealing with the unknown and the perception." 

The Shapiro Scandal looks horrible, and it looks even worse considering the arrogance of a guy like former UM AD Paul Dee after he wagged his beefy finger when he was the Chairman of the NCAA's COI. Beyond just the litany of allegations, you scratch your head wondering why the school didn't even distance itself from Shapiro after he attacked the school's compliance guy during a game in front of so many people.

  Miami's been a unique football program for years, and while UM is certainly not alone in having a shady, overzealous booster, they might be in having a shady, overzealous VINDICTIVE booster. My hunch is it'll be months after signing day before the NCAA comes down with its' sanctions against the program. For as good as Golden is as a recruiter, good luck closing on prospects with that hanging over you. The games in 2011 will actually be the easiest part of this job.

*Miller is one of two RBs poised for a breakout season in 2011. The other is Va. Tech's David Wilson. The Hokie showed in Week One he's more than just a speed guy. According to Darryl Slater, Hokies coach Frank Beamer said Monday that Wilson was credited with 15 broken tackles during the staff's grading of the film.

"Coach Hite feels like that's a record around here," Beamer said, referring to Billy Hite, who was Tech's running backs coach from 1980 through 2010, before moving into an administrative role. In his debut as Tech's top tailback, Wilson had 16 carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns.

*Some interesting fodder on the realignment discussion from Jon Wilner, who reports that the Pac-12 does not want to expand, but realizes it probably has to given the climate around college sports.

 If Texas A&M becomes the SEC’s 13th team, that sets the superconferences in motion.

“The SEC won’t stop at 13, or even 14. And if the SEC is at 14 or 16, the Big Ten will do it,” a source said. ”At that point, (the Pac-12) would be crazy not to entertain the idea of expansion.”

(Multiple sources said the SEC’s 14th team would most likely be Missouri. Combine untapped TV dollars with geography, and the schools that make the most sense for the SEC are Texas A&M, Missouri and Virginia Tech.) Only if the SEC goes to 13 would the Pac-12 evaluate its options.It won’t take Oklahoma unless A&M leaves first, despite the accelerated timeline laid out last week by Oklahoma President David Boren. And yes, in all likelihood the Pac-12 would take Oklahoma and Oklahoma State even if Texas were off the table, multiple sources said.

*As Notre Dame gets ready for a trip to Michigan, Brian Kelly has a big decision on his hands about whether to keep Dayne Crist as his QB or go with Tommy Rees. It's clear Irish fans believe Rees, who has been connected with more wins, is their choice. Keith Arnold points out there is one big difference in the two QBs: 

If you want an easy way for Crist to be more productive, simply throw the ball to Floyd more. He’s by far the Irish’s best offensive player, yet in breaking down the tape, there were multiple times when Crist simply didn’t look to Floyd, a baffling thought process that I put more on Crist than the coaching staff, especially after watching the first half almost a dozen times. If you’re looking for a reason to give the starting job to Tommy Rees, look at this damning stat line:

Michael Floyd with Crist: 2 catches, 37 yards
Michael Floyd with Tommy Rees: 10 catches, 117 yards, 2 touchdowns

*UGA LB Christian Robinson, who normally enjoys engaging on the social media platform, vowed to stay off Twitter this week after being barraged with unwelcomed messages from fans reacting to the loss to Boise, reports Tim Tucker:

"I got some pretty nasty stuff," Robinson said Monday night. "Right after the game, my phone was lighting up with just some nasty things. I've gotten some bad things before, but it was just a different level where I said I'm not going to deal with this right now."

He said some of the messages were from Boise State fans, but others were from UGA fans.

"Some of them, they got the ‘G' on their picture," he said. "I've seen some [of the same people] tweet me before, positive things. And the moment you don't do well, they can turn on you. You're never as good or as bad as you think you are."

Posted on: September 5, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 2:33 pm

Morning Surf Report: PSU QB battle clearing up?

With a visit from Bama looming, Penn State's QB situation is still unresolved. According to Walt Moody, JoePa should go with Matt McGloin:  

While Saturday’s 41-7 romp against Indiana State is not a perfect example to draw from, it’s clear that the offense is more productive with McGloin at the helm.

It was plain last season. It was plain Saturday against the overmatched Sycamores. McGloin led three touchdown drives in four series (we know one was a 21-yarder shortly after a fumble recovery). Bolden, who started, led just one, despite getting two more chances.

Yes, Bolden had a couple of good deep throws dropped, though Derek Moye’s miss did come during a drive the Nittany Lions later scored. Blame it on playcalling, drops or whatever, but McGloin moved the team better.
I don't expect PSU to beat Bama. I think Nick Saban's team is too tough on D and too physical up front for the Nittany Lions. The big key for Penn State in 2011 is to have one QB emerge by the Oct. 8 game against Iowa. Obviously, coping with the nation's best defense will be quite a litmus test for both quarterbacks.

I expect the Nittany Lions to be 4-1 by the time the Hawkeyes come to Happy Valley. Having one guy settled on will be pivotal to help rally the locker room because this kind of back-and-forth isn't ideal for a team trying to return back into the top 25. They can beat Temple, EMU and Indiana shuffling two guys, but after that stretch,  if one guy hasn't clearly separated himself--or been separated--from the other, it's a bad thing. *Michigan limited a respectable Western Michigan offense to three points in the final 36 minutes of the game, which is one of the promising signs of the transition from Greg Robinson's D to Greg Mattison's D, writes Mark Snyder: 

Safety Jordan Kovacs, who had the most productive game of his career with 10 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup, was a great example. Coaches in the past never considered him an impact player. Mattison turned him into a blitzing machine. 

  "It's a completely different scheme," Kovacs said. "We've got more blitz packages that give me the opportunity to come down in the box and make a play."

Mattison was the biggest single reason why I think the Brady Hoke Era will be a successful one. He knows exactly what it takes to win in the Big Ten and is a very underrated recruiter. There also are some capable athletes on both sides of the ball with experience now for this team to win at least eight games this year. I'm very curious to see how the Wolverines deal with a Notre Dame team coming off such a messy opener.

*Enigmatic ASU LB Vontaze Burfict spoke to his hero, Ray Lewis, a few months back about the line between being aggressive and out of control, reports Doug Haller:

"I just spoke with him about discipline and how you need to make up your mind in life and on the field," Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis said. "Make sure that you are doing the right things to be a productive player and more importantly, a productive person."

As Baltimore's Lewis knows, it's not always easy.

"Absolutely, it was hard to learn," Lewis said, "but it is possible for a middle linebacker with passion to do that. I had a ton of help from great coaches. Coach Randy Shannon was instrumental in helping me channel what I needed to do to be successful. You need to make the decision yourself, then your coaches can help you be the best you can be."

   No one has ever questioned Burfict's physical tools, but it's his maturity and focus that are at issue, which also are question marks that ASU has to resolve this season if the Sun Devils are going to live up to their lofty hype entering this season.

ASU and its star defender must finally show that they can be disciplined rather than getting tripped up by all the knucklehead penalties and being their own worst enemy, as they have been the past few years. Many coaches and players I've spoken to point out that focus is a actually a talent, not all that much different than those physical "tools" like quickness or strength. It'll be interesting to see if Burfict, like his hero, has that.

*While former NC State QB Russell Wilson put up impressive numbers (10-of-13, 255 yards, with three TDs including a 46-yard touchdown run) in a 51-17 rout of UNLV on national television Thursday night for Wisconsin, new Pack starter Mike Glennon's final numbers were more modest, writes J.P. Giglio:

He finished 18-of-31 for 156 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception, but he was sacked four times.
Glennon, the former blue-chip recruit, conceded he might've been trying to do too much. This will be a compelling subplot to the 2011 season if Wilson leads Wisconsin to a BCS bowl and Glennon doesn't thrive this fall in Raleigh and the Pack ends up not even making a bowl game.

The 62-year-old O'Brien enters his fifth season at State, 25-25 with a 14-18 record in ACC play and only one winning season in his previous four. Another mediocre season could be his last in Raleigh. He really, really needs Glennon to emerge this year.

*The ongoing conference expansion chatter at this point has focused on what Pac-12 head Larry Scott may do. Pete Thamel examines the landscape:

For Texas to come along this time, the Longhorns would have to fall in line with the blockbuster television deal that the Pac-12 agreed to this summer. That means that Texas would have to agree to equal revenue sharing and the so-called “Noah’s Ark” regional television networks. The new Pac-12 deal calls for six regional networks, pairing the league’s traveling partners (Arizona-Arizona State, Washington-Washington State and so on). That would mean that Texas would have to revamp its current network, the Longhorn Network, which is run by ESPN.

So if Texas were to go, Texas Tech — which is expected to follow the Longhorns like Oklahoma State is expected to follow Oklahoma — would have to be folded into the Longhorn Network. That puts some of the onus of Texas’ going to the Pac-12 on ESPN, which again finds itself in the uncomfortable situation, at least journalistically, of affecting and covering college sports. There is a strong feeling that the Longhorn Network is not an untenable impediment, as the Pac-12 and ESPN have brokered much more complicated deals. Dave Brown, the Longhorn Network’s vice president for programming, declined to comment Sunday.

*For the third time in the last six seasons, Duke saw Richmond stroll into Wallace Wade Stadium and leave with a win, this time by a 23-21 score. And, as Steve Wiseman writes, the Blue Devils are perplexed by how it happened:

“Maybe we spent too much emotion with the black uniforms,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We came back in and got excited. I don’t know.”

*Tweet of the Day: From LSU SID Michael Bonnette about sophomore CB Tyrann Mathieu

@LSUBonnette In 14 career games, T. Mathieu has 9 PBUs, 6 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 Ints, and he's scored 1 TD.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 2, 2011 12:36 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:19 pm

Good test for Robert Griffin

There is no getting around that we had a pretty dismal slate of games on opening night, but Friday night things are heating up for the game down in Texas between TCU and Baylor. You have a Horned Frog team that always puts out a nasty defense thanks to coach Gary Patterson facing an intriguing bunch from Baylor led by their freakishly fast QB Robert Griffin. The Bears also have some good talent around Griffin too.

I realize there will be a lot of focus on the play of the Horned Frogs new QB Casey Pachall, the guy that once turned down a Florida offer and now replaces the ultra-efficient Andy Dalton. No doubt that'll be compelling to watch, but I really want to see Griffin's performance against Patterson's D led by those two stud linebackers Tank Carder and Tanner Brock. Those two are seldom in the wrong place. (Brock and Griffin were actually high school teammates.)

Griffin's production overall has been impressive: 41 TDs against 11 INTs in his career and his accuracy has improved each year, topping out at 67 percent in 2010. Good stuff, especially for a guy most think of first for his blazing speed. Let's see if he can elevate his game against the tougher competition, though. Last year, TCU hammered Baylor, 45-10, where he had just 21 yards on 14 carries and only 164 yards through the air. He wasn't that sharp later in the year when the schedule heated up again, throwing one TD against three INTs in three consecutive losses against Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and OU. Let's see if Griffin is ready to now show that he is an elite college player, more than just an exciting one.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12
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