Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Miss. State
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:14 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: Drama in the Big Ten

Here is the Friday Mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.

From @ShawnMoritz Do you think Bielema has a legit argument against Urban and his recruiting tactics?

Well, I'd love to know exactly what Bret Bielema is talking about in regards to Meyer's tactics. During his Signing Day press conference, the Wisconsin coach made reference to Meyer using "illegal" recruiting tactics. What rules specifically was the new OSU coach breaking? Bielema spoke to the Sporting News on Thursday:

“I called Urban and we spoke about it,” Bielema said. “We talked about it, and he said it would stop and it did. I’ll let our commissioner deal with anything else. That’s not who we are (in the Big Ten). We settle things among ourselves as coaches.”


One issue Bielema would talk about—and it’s perfectly legal under current NCAA rules—is Meyer’s recruitment of players who already had given verbal commitments to other Big Ten schools. It has been a longstanding “gentlemen’s agreement” in the league that coaches wouldn’t recruit players who had publicly given commitments to schools.



On top of that, there were also some folks at Michigan State who weren't thrilled with Meyer either apparently. In reality, rival coaches never seem to mind when a program is losing out on coveted recruits or not winning games, but when it's the opposite that's when coaches get chaffed.



IF it all stems from one program going after another program's commitments, and this isn't the first time we've heard some carping about this within the Big Ten, I'm shrugging my shoulders on it. Welcome to the 21st Century, Big Ten. To paraphrase Dan Hawkins, it's D1 football. They're all competing for Rose Bowls and BCS bowls (at least theoretically), and even if Big Ten coaches are trying to be demure in their explanations, it all ends up reduced to he said/he said, gossipy semantics.



This all feels a lot like the laments about negative recruiting and how coaches spin that they really don't do it, when they essentially all do. The upshot: it only adds to the intrigue when we actually get back into the games.  

A final point about this: One thing that has happened in the aftermath of signing day is there really has been a lot of muddled reaction/grousing in comments made by coaches to both the media and/or booster groups that has gotten picked up and parsed around via social media, and in that process has created quite a combustible brew that has gotten lumped together. It's a big mess and been hard to keep straight about who said what about whom?



From @hogeandrew    What were the most shocking announcements on LOI day?

Seeing five-star WR Deontay Greenberry, a long-time Notre Dame commit, flip to Houston on Signing Day. Just getting Greenberry to visit UH was something of a stunner considering how many bigger programs tried to sway this kid. But for Tony Levine's program to actually reel him in was THE shocker of the day. It wasn't even like this was a local kid UH was keeping home. It was a California guy, but the track record of the Cougars offense and the fact that they have to replace four prolific wideouts only sweetened UH's sales pitch. 

From @bsu90  Do you think signing day has gotten out of hand?

You're talking to someone who just did eight-hours straight of live signing day coverage. I also spent two years of my life detailing the inner workings of the recruiting process a few years ago, and the whole thing has only gotten crazier in the five years since.


Out of hand? Yep, it is. And I, along with my brethren in the media would be kidding myself if I didn't own up to the fact that we contribute to the madness by covering it, and yes, hyping it. Often times, it seems like one big farce. Truth is, it is a huge business and because so many people are addicted to it, things only get more out of hand each year.

From @jeffriesj78 with Iowa's good recruiting class this year, multiple 4* and nice group of 3*, how high can we go next season?

From the coaches I've talked to over the past few months, the Hawkeyes landed a few really coveted guys with the athleticism to come in and contribute right away: RB Greg Garmon and D-lineman Faith Ekakitie, who one rival recruiter told me was one of the most gifted line prospects in the entire country. He and fellow DL Jaleel Johnson may be too talented not to get into the rotation, especially for a program that has lost five outstanding D-linemen in the past two seasons to the NFL.

Garmon and another RB signee Barkley Hill will get really long looks in camp because tailback is a big need for the Hawkeyes given the departures of Marcus Coker and Mika'il McCall.


In terms of Iowa's prospects in 2012, it sure helps that  James Vandenberg is back. He's one of the more talented QBs in the country and had a strong first season as a starter, although he did tail off some in the final two games of the year.
Overall, I feel like this program may have lost too many key guys (on the O-line, Marvin McNutt) to be a top 15 team, but this is always gonna be a well-coached group and there is still plenty of talent to crack the top 25 IF the young guys can step into significant roles.

From @CarlBleich for Florida's big 3...was there a bigger recruiting get than Miami getting Tracy Howard?

FSU, UF and Miami each landed more than their share of gems on Wednesday.  DT Eddie Goldman was cause for big celebration in the Noles war room, and Florida snagging Dante Fowler surely elicited similar in Gainesville, but I doubt either tops the significance of the nation's top CB, Tracy Howard opting to stay home and play at Miami. The two biggest reasons: First, Miami has been depleted at corner for the past two years. Second, it makes a huge statement for a program that has the cloud of an NCAA investigation hanging over it that appeared like it was going to scare off most local blue-chippers (outside of RB Duke Johnson) but in the end, that didn't happen. And Howard, a guy who sounded like a long-shot for Miami just a few weeks earlier, is major proof of the belief recruits have in Al Golden's program. Howard's statement is very big for the Class of 2013 as well, much as I would say Dorial Green-Beckham signing with Mizzou is for the Tigers in big picture sense because it tells future blue-chippers, Mizzou is "big-time."

From olemissking1977    How do you think Miss States class did, I live The Dline Mullen put together

It was a very impressive group. State landed arguably the top JC player in the nation in DE Denico Autry, who was chased after by half the SEC. Autry is a small-town kid and just loved the fit there. Starkville is the biggest place he's ever lived. DT Quay Evans, who's already at MSU was one of the top interior guys in the South. Evans is the typical, explosive D-tackle that has helped spark the SEC into the elite college football conference. One other coup was beating Tennessee, Stanford and arch-rival Ole Miss for Richie Brown, the top linebacker in the state of Mississippi and four-star talent Beniquez Brown, who was another hot commodity.


Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 11:26 am
 

Tuesday Top 10: Biggest duds of 2011

Coming into the season there was so much optimism at different programs, but fast forward three months and there's been a lot of disappointment. This week's Top 10 list: biggest duds of the 2011 season. (I'm leaving off the BCS, which you could make a strong case for deserving to be on this list every year.)

1. Maryland: Randy Edsall's first season in College Park was a disaster of the highest order. The Terps got off to a nice start, edging a seriously depleted Miami team that was gutted by NCAA suspensions, but then things completely fell apart. They didn't beat another FBS program the rest of the way. They got blown out at home by Temple 38-7. They lost to a bad BC team by 11. They blew a huge second-half lead against NC State. The stunning part in all of this was it's not like Edsall inherited the FAU squad. They were 9-4 last year and had the best young QB in the conference in Danny O'Brien. However, the sophomore quarterback regressed in a big way under Edsall. The team was 111th in passing efficiency. In the final eight games of the season, the Terps managed to scored more than 21 points twice. Somewhere, Ralph Friedgen is probably still laughing at his bosses who ran him out of his alma mater after winning ACC Coach of the Year honors.

2. The State of Florida: The Noles were preseason No. 6 and slogged their way to an 8-4 record where they didn't even make it to the ACC title game. At one point they had a three-game losing streak. In mid-November, they lost at home against unranked UVA. ... The Gators, No. 22 in preseason, fizzled on offense and went 6-6 by dropping six of their last eight games. . . . Miami's hopes were torpedoed on the eve of the season by the Nevin Shapiro mess that would sideline a bunch of key players early. The Canes never recovered, losing six games by eight points or less before opting out of what figured to be a mediocre bowl game in hopes of appeasing the NCAA down the road. Their final game: a home loss to a 3-8 BC team. ... USF got off to a fast start, beating a ranked Notre Dame team on the road, but then Skip Holtz team flopped, losing seven of their final eight. ... UCF, which despite having the No. 11 D in the country, failed to even get bowl eligible, going 5-7. Last year UCF was 11-3. Now there is much uncertainty and who knows if sophomore QB Jeff Godfrey, who had seemed to be the centerpiece of the upstart program, will be back in Orlando in 2012?

3. Texas A&M: The Aggies, preseason No. 8, had way too much firepower to go 6-6. Even 8-4 would've felt like a big let down. Statistically, they were a very hard team to figure out. They were seventh in the country in total offense, first in fewest sacks allowed, first in sacks, 13th in rushing defense but they also were 100th in turnover margin. They blew a ridiculous amount of games in the second half. They ended up losing four of their last five and Mike Sherman lost his job because of it.

4. Ole Miss: A lot of people pegged the Rebels for the bottom of the SEC West, but no one would've expected they'd have the worst season in school history. Houston Nutt's lackluster recruiting at Ole Miss really caught up with him. His team got thumped by Vandy in a way that the Commodores never beat another SEC program. The Rebels also lost by 17 to lowly Kentucky and then get crunched by La. Tech 27-7 at the their homecoming game. The 2-10 season cost Nutt his job and was punctuated with another blowout loss to arch-rival Miss. State, 31-3.

5. Oklahoma: [Note: The Sooners were a bad omit on my part when I initially published this list.] They were preseason No. 1 and sputtered badly in the season half of the season, losing three of their last six. The first loss was home to a four-TD underdog (Texas Tech) that would end up having its worst season in almost 20 years. The Sooners finished off the season getting drilled by rival Oklahoma State, 44-10.


6-UCLA defense:
Few teams look better on the hoof, but the Bruins just never could get it done under Rick Neuheisel. Despite a defensive unit were more than its share of former blue-chippers, the Bruins were 112th in sacks and 96th in scoring defense. They surrendered 38 or more six times this season.

7. Mississippi State: They were a long shot to win the incredibly stacked SEC West, but the Bulldogs were still a preseason top 20 team but they never got much of anything going. They went 6-6. The only team with a winning record they beat was 8-4 La. Tech. Their other four wins over FBS opponents went 12-36 combined.

8. Notre Dame offense: The Irish were ranked a respectable 43rd in scoring, but given the weapons Brian Kelly had (led by WR Michael Floyd) ND should've been a lot more dynamic. They were held to 20 points or less five times this season. They also were brutal when it came to taking care of the football, tying for third-worst in the country in turnover margin.

9. Kansas: Turner Gill was fired after just two seasons because the Jayhawks were so overwhelmed this season. They beat an FCS program and then knocked off the eventual MAC champs (NIU) in Week 2 and it was all downhill from them on as it was one epic blowout loss after another. They ranked 106th in total offense and 120 in total defense. Of their final 10 losses to finish the season, only two were decided by less than double-digits. They lost six games by 30 points or more.

10. Illinois offense: Things set up so well for Ron Zook this season. They had a dynamic young QB (Nate Scheelhaase) and some talented backs and receivers. The Illini jumped out to a 6-0 start and then the bottom drops out. They lose the next six, failing to score more than two TDs in any other game. They managed just seven points against a Minnesota D that was 102nd in scoring defense. They scored 14 on a Michigan, which is 51 points fewer than they scored on the Wolverines on a year ago. The Illini finished 91st in scoring, dropping 59 spots from where they were at mid-season. They also ended up 106th in sacks allowed.

 
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Tuesday Top 10: Biggest duds of first half

We've seen through the first half of the season that many things (Oklahoma, LSU, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson) have been as good as advertised while a few others have emerged as pleasant surprises (Clemson, K-State, CSU's Nordly Capi, Illinois), which we hit on last week here in the blog. But there is a flipside to that. This week's Top 10 list: biggest disappointments of the first half of the season:

1. FSU: After an off-season of hype about how "the Noles are back!!", the team that was preseason No. 6 team, has been a complete dud. FSU has lost three in a row and really hasn't beat anyone of note. FSU is one of those schools that the media (and I'm guilty of this too because I was practically serving drinks on that bandwagon since January) is all too eager to get fired up about. Then again, anyone who spent time around Tallahassee this off-season heard the way Jimbo Fisher talked about this team and its talent and its focus and maturity and well, we couldn't help but get more intrigued. Yes, there have been injuries to a few key guys (QB E.J. Manuel and WR Bert Reed) but lots of teams deal with injuries. The Noles have been mistake-ridden and are doing the kinds of things elite teams simply don't have issues with. They are 114th in turnover margin, 112th in rushing, 100th in sacks allowed and 120th in penalties.

2. Maryland's offense: Maybe this stems from The Curse of Ralph, but whatever it is, things are off to a dismal start for Randy Edsall in College Park. Danny O'Brien came into the season as one of the most promising young QBs in college football (22-8 TD-INT ratio as a freshman in 2010) but now looks completely lost. O'Brien has a 4-6 TD-INT mark and was benched after going 1-6 last week against Ga. Tech. O'Brien was sharp in last year's West-Coast style offense. In Edsall's new spread under Gary Crowton, the QB has been a mess. The Terps who were 9-4 last season and 29th in scoring and scored over 40 points five times last season, are 91st in scoring.

3. Mississippi State: No one thought Dan Mullen's team was going to win the loaded SEC West this year, but the way the Bulldogs have fizzled has been a head-shaker. They needed overtime to beat La. Tech and trailed a miserable UAB squad 3-0 at halftime before coming back to win 21-3. And those are actually some of the more positive things. MSU is 0-3 in SEC play and will likely need to knock off one of the SEC's better teams (South Carolina, Bama or Arkansas) just to finish above .500.

4. Memphis: It's only Year Two for coach Larry Porter running this dumpster fire of a football program and it's hard to think any coach could fix things in that short of a time frame, but should things look as bad as they do now? The C-USA Tigers actually might be the worst team in FBS. They are 1-5 with their lone win coming against FCS Austin Peay. The Tigers then lost to a Sun Belt team that was 4-8 last year (Arkansas State) 47-3. Then they lost to a Rice team that came in 1-3 and the Owls crushed Memphis 28-6. The Tigers are 116th in scoring and 115th in defense. And this is a program that Memphis AD R.C. Johnson "deserves to be in the SEC"?!?! Of all of the out-of-touch comments made by administrators and power brokers in the NCAA in the past year, Johnson's line is king.

5. Ohio State: An offseason overstuffed with off-field drama has carried over to the fall, where the Buckeyes and first-year head coach Luke Fickell have dealt with more player suspensions, which has only created more problems for a team that was already depleted. There were signs early that this could be a long season for OSU when the Buckeyes almost got knocked off by a Toledo team that gave Fickell's team all it could handle despite committing a ton of penalties in Week 2. Then Miami and Lamar Miller lit them up while the OSU passing game was atrocious. It hasn't gotten much better since. OSU barely avoided getting shutout in Columbus by Michigan State. Then last week, the Buckeyes blew a 21-point lead in the second half at Nebraska and lost 34-27 thanks to more ineptitude in the passing game and the Huskers run game rolling over the OSU D. With a road trip to unbeaten Illinois, Wisconsin and games against Penn State and at Michigan remaining, it's no stretch to think Ohio State could miss a bowl game entirely. The good news? Word is Urban Meyer is going to be very tempted to take this coaching job.

6. Kentucky offense:
We know that the Wildcats lost some key offensive guys from last year's team when WR Randall Cobb, RB Derrick Locke and QB Mike Hartline moved on, but no SEC team should be this much of a mess on offense, especially when you consider most of the offensive line was back. UK managed only 14 points and just 190 yards of total offense in its opener against WKU, a 1-4 team that gave up 44 points to Indiana State.  
Last weekend against South Carolina, UK's level of ineptitude was staggering: matching its number of first downs (six) with turnovers (six). The Cats QB went 4-26 for 17 yards with four INTs, which was indicative of a team near the bottom of the NCAA ranks in rushing and passing and 119th in scoring. Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker broke down the futility even further. He noted that 174 of their 377 offensive plays (over 46 percent) have gained no yards, negative yards or ended up turning the ball over. It's been that bad.

7. Arizona:
 As I reported here in the blog Monday, despite leading the Cats to bowl games in three straight seasons (something which doesn't happen much with Wildcat football), a 1-5 start meant the end of Mike Stoops in Tucson. The Cats were dreadfully inexperienced on both lines and missing their best DB, safety Adam Hall for most of the season so far and standout WR Juron Criner also had been out didn't help. Nor did a front-loaded schedule, which featured back-to-back-to-back games against three top 10 teams. Last week's loss to previously winless Oregon State 37-27 proved to be the final straw. The Cats would be higher on this list, but realistically looking at the first half of their schedule and all of the inexperience on the lines and it was hard to figure they'd be more than 2-4 at this point.

8. Texas A&M defense:
This is the second year in Tim DeRuyter's system, but even without the great Von Miller, things have been a lot shakier for the Aggies than most would've expected. A&M suffered consecutive second-half collapses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, where the Aggies gave up almost 1000 yards or passing. A&M was able to stop the losing streak at Texas Tech last weekend, but still got shredded for 40 points. They are dead last in pass defense and close to that in turnover margin (104th).

9. Boston College:
The Eagles (1-5) have one of the best players in college football in LB Luke Kuechly but the rest of the team is simply not producing. Their lone win was over FCS UMass. BC has lost three home games to Northwestern, Duke and Wake Forest. And the schedule hasn't really started to get into the toughest part for them yet.

10. Minnesota:
It has been a trying year for the Gophers. First-year head coach Jerry Kill has battled health issues, but after a respectable close loss at USC in the opener, it's been one dreadful performance after another for this team. The Gophers lost at home to New Mexico State, a team that has a hard time beating anyone that isn't New Mexico. Then, Minnesota lost to North Dakota State and been outscored by Michigan and Purdue 103-17 the past two weeks. A 1-11 season looks likely.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:44 am
 

Tuesday Top 10: Biggest duds of first half

We've seen through the first half of the season that many things (Oklahoma, LSU, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson) have been as good as advertised while a few others have emerged as pleasant surprises (Clemson, K-State, CSU's Nordly Capi, Illinois), which we hit on last week here in the blog. But there is a flipside to that. This week's Top 10 list: biggest disappointments of the first half of the season:<br /> 

<br /><br />

<strong>1. FSU:</strong> After an off-season of hype about how "the Noles are back!!", the team that was preseason No. 6 team, has been a complete dud. FSU has lost three in a row and really hasn't beat anyone of note. FSU is one of those schools that the media (and I'm guilty of this too because I was practically serving drinks on that bandwagon since January) is all too eager to get fired up about. Then again, anyone who spent time around Tallahassee this off-season heard the way Jimbo Fisher talked about this team and its talent and its focus and maturity and well, we couldn't help but get more intrigued. Yes, there have been injuries to a few key guys (QB E.J. Manuel and WR Bert Reed) but lots of teams deal with injuries. The Noles have been mistake-ridden and are doing the kinds of things elite teams simply don't have issues with. They are 114th in turnover margin, 112th in rushing, 100th in sacks allowed and 120th in penalties.<br /> 

<span style="color: #333333; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br /></span>

<strong><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">2. </span>Maryland's offense:</strong> Maybe this stems from The Curse of Ralph, but whatever it is, things are off to a dismal start for Randy Edsall in College Park. Danny O'Brien came into the season as one of the most promising young QBs in college football (22-8 TD-INT ratio as a freshman in 2010) but now looks completely lost. O'Brien has a 4-6 TD-INT mark and was benched after going 1-6 last week against Ga. Tech. O'Brien was sharp in last year's West-Coast style offense. In Edsall's new spread under Gary Crowton, the QB has been a mess. The Terps who were 9-4 last season and 29th in scoring and scored over 40 points five times last season, are 91st in scoring.

<br /><br /><br /><strong>3. Mississippi State:</strong> No one thought Dan Mullen's team was going to win the loaded SEC West this year, but the way the Bulldogs have fizzled has been a head-shaker. They needed overtime to beat La. Tech and trailed a miserable UAB squad 3-0 at halftime before coming back to win 21-3. And those are actually some of the more positive things. MSU is 0-3 in SEC play and will likely need to knock off one of the SEC's better teams (South Carolina, Bama or Arkansas) just to finish above .500.<br /> 

<br /><br /><strong>4. Memphis:</strong> It's only Year Two for coach Larry Porter running this dumpster fire of a football program and it's hard to think any coach could fix things in that short of a time frame, but should things look as bad as they do now? The C-USA Tigers actually might be the worst team in FBS. They are 1-5 with their lone win coming against FCS Austin Peay. The Tigers then lost to a Sun Belt team that was 4-8 last year (Arkansas State) 47-3. Then they lost to a Rice team that came in 1-3 and the Owls crushed Memphis 28-6. The Tigers are 116th in scoring and 115th in defense. And this is a program that Memphis AD R.C. Johnson "deserves to be in the SEC"?!?! Of all of the out-of-touch comments made my administrators and power brokers in the NCAA in the past year, Johnson's line is king.

<br /><br /><strong>5. Ohio State:</strong> An offseason overstuffed with off-field drama has carried over to the fall, where the Buckeyes and first-year head coach Luke Fickell have dealt with more player suspensions, which has only created more problems for a team that was already depleted. There were signs early that this could be a long season for OSU when the Buckeyes almost got knocked off by a Toledo team that gave Fickell's team all it could handle despite committing a ton of penalties in Week 2. Then Miami and Lamar Miller lit them up while the OSU passing game was atrocious. It hasn't gotten much better since. OSU barely avoided getting shutout in Columbus by Michigan State. Then last week, the Buckeyes blew a 21-point lead in the second half at Nebraska and lost 34-27 thanks to more ineptitude in the passing game and the Huskers run game rolling over the OSU D. With a road trip to unbeaten Illinois, Wisconsin and games against Penn State and at Michigan remaining, it's no stretch to think Ohio State could miss a bowl game entirely. The good news? Word is Urban Meyer is going to be very tempted to take this coaching job.

<span style="color: #333333; font-family: verdana, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;"><span style="color: #000000; font-family: Helvetica;"><br /><br /></span></span>

<strong>6. Kentucky offense:</strong> We know that the Wildcats lost some key offensive guys from last year's team when WR Randall Cobb, RB Derrick Locke and QB Mike Hartline moved on, but no SEC team should be this much of a mess on offense, especially when you consider most of the offensive line was back. UK managed only 14 points and just 190 yards of total offense in its opener against WKU, a 1-4 team that gave up 44 points to Indiana State.  <br />Last weekend against South Carolina, UK's level of ineptitude was staggering: matching its number of first downs (six) with turnovers (six). The Cats QB went 4-26 for 17 yards with four INTs, which was indicative of a team near the bottom of the NCAA ranks in rushing and passing and 119th in scoring. Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker broke down the futility</a> even further. He noted that 174 of their 377 offensive plays (over 46 percent) have gained no yards, negative yards or ended up turning the ball over. It's been <em>that</em> bad.

<br /><br /><strong>7. Arizona:</strong> As I reported here in the blog Monday, despite leading the Cats to bowl games in three straight seasons (something which doesn't happen much with Wildcat football), a 1-5 start meant the end of Mike Stoops in Tucson. The Cats were dreadfully inexperienced on both lines and missing their best DB, safety Adam Hall for most of the season so far and standout WR Juron Criner also had been out didn't help. Nor did a front-loaded schedule, which featured back-to-back-to-back games against three top 10 teams. Last week's loss to previously winless Oregon State 37-27 proved to be the final straw. The Cats would be higher on this list, but realistically looking at the first half of their schedule and all of the inexperience on the lines and it was hard to figure they'd be more than 2-4 at this point.

<br /><br /><br />

<strong>8. Texas A&M defense:</strong> This is the second year in Tim DeRuyter's system, but even without the great Von Miller, things have been a lot shakier for the Aggies than most would've expected. A&M suffered consecutive second-half collapses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, where the Aggies gave up almost 1000 yards or passing. A&M was able to stop the losing streak at Texas Tech last weekend, but still got shredded for 40 points. They are dead last in pass defense and close to that in turnover margin (104th).

<br /><br />

<strong>9. Boston College:</strong> The Eagles (1-5) have one of the best players in college football in LB Luke Kuechly but the rest of the team is simply not producing. Their lone win was over FCS UMass. BC has lost three home games to Northwestern, Duke and Wake Forest. And the schedule hasn't really started to get into the toughest part for them yet.

<br /><br />

<strong>10. Minnesota:</strong> It has been a trying year for the Gophers. First-year head coach Jerry Kill has battled health issues, but after a respectable close loss at USC in the opener, it's been one dreadful performance after another for this team. The Gophers lost at home to New Mexico State, a team that has a hard time beating anyone that isn't New Mexico. Then, Minnesota lost to North Dakota State and been outscored by Michigan and Purdue 103-17 the past two weeks. A 1-11 season looks likely.

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