Posted on: September 24, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 1:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
One of the nation's best linebackers will miss the remainder of the year with an ankle injury--and a TCU defense that was already struggling with its rebuilding job will have things that much tougher.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Saturday morning that junior Tanner Brock's injured ankle has not recovered from a reaggravation suffered in the Frogs' openeing-week loss to Baylor, and after missing TCU's previous two games he will go on to sit out the rest of the 2011 season. Brock underwent ankle surgery early in the summer but practiced throughout fall camp was deemed healthy enough to start the opener.
Brock's absence won't make any difference today as the Frogs take on FCS Portland State. But it make a very big difference down the road, as Brock was TCU's leading tackler a year ago with 106 stops and came into the season on the Butkus Award Watch List alongside more celebrated teammate Tank Carder. Junior Kenny Cain is expected to start in Brock's place.
In a typical TCU season, even the loss of a potential All-American like Brock wouldn't be the end of the world. But after the 50 points given up in week 1 to Baylor and the surprising first-half success of ULM's spread attack last week, the Frogs would seem to need all hands on deck to handle opponents like Boise State or maybe SMU. In short, it's just one more reason TCU's 2011 looks like it just won't be there 2009 or 2010.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:10 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.
LSU/ALABAMA. Back and forth we go. A week after the Tide leapfrogged the Bayou Bengals in the AP poll by the slimmest of margins, LSU's overwhelming defensive performance on the road in Starkville -- and in Thursday night prime-time -- was enough to push them back ahead in the media balloting. Alabama couldn't have been much more dominant than they were in thumping North Texas 41-0 ... but with the game airing on regional pay-per-view, did enough media get a look at it?
In any case, the coaches didn't mind; though the Tigers collected five first-place votes to the Tide's four, Alabama's 38-point margin only shrunk to 29. And it's not like the Tide won't have a chance to surge back in front -- possibly for good -- when they tangle with Arkansas in the league's highest-profile game to-date this Saturday.
SOUTH CAROLINA. It's not an easy trick to fall two spots in one poll and rise one space in the other, but after the Gamecocks' 24-21 escape against Navy, Carolina managed it. Only eight points separate teams 10 through 12 in the media poll, but unfortunately for the Gamecocks, they wound up team No. 12, five points behind Florida State and three more behind Oregon.
On the one hand, the Gamecocks can't complain too much when they struggle so badly with a lesser opponent like the Midshipmen. On the other, the four teams defeated by the Seminoles and Ducks so far this season are ULM, Charleston Southern, Nevada and Missouri State--as strong as the teams FSU and Oregon lost to are, should they really be ranked ahead of an undefeated team with two wins (Navy and Georgia) stronger than any claimed by the two teams in front of them?
The Coaches would seem to agree; the Seminoles dropped to No. 14 and the Gamecocks moved up a slot to No. 11.
ARKANSAS. The poll-vs.-poll debate regarding Florida State also affected the Hogs. With the Coaches dropping the 'Noles to 14, the Hogs got a one-spot bump from 13 to 12; the AP keeping FSU up at No. 11 meant the Hogs likewise stayed at 14. Given the cupcake-laden slate the Hogs have faced thus far (and their struggles with Troy), though, it's hard to argue Arkansas deserves to be any higher.
FLORIDA. No SEC team has made a more consistent charge up the ballots than the Gators, who after their decisive win over Tennessee have reached the No. 15 spot in both polls. But with the 14 teams in front of them all members of the preseason top 15, the Gators may have hit their ceiling until a few more losses open things up. (Which is not to say that's how it should be; having seen off a quality team in the Vols, the same complaints regarding Carolina vs. Oregon and Florida State apply here, too.)
EVERYBODY ELSE. With Auburn falling to Clemson and Mississippi State dismissed so rudely by LSU, the SEC can still claim a full third of the top 15--but after starting the season with eight teams of the polls, those first five teams are now the only ones to still make the top 25 cut. Auburn is the only team even close, ranking "No. 27" in the AP.
And frankly, that's the way it should be. With the Tigers so unimpressive in getting clubbed by their South Carolinian mascot equivalents, the Vols unable to survive the Swamp, and Vanderbilt not yet proven top-25 caliber (though we applaud the 'Dores for picking up a handful of votes in both polls), the next SEC team to make the ballot will have to prove it belongs.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:50 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 4:41 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
1) Unproven UNC QB Bryn Renner answered doubters with a record setting day. Renner only attempted two passes during his freshman year, one of them fell incomplete. In his first career start on Saturday against James Madison, the sophomore quarterback once again only missed his receiver once. Unfortunately it was intercepted, but it was the only miscue in Renner's 22-for-23 performance against the Dukes. Renner's 95.7% completion rate set a new ACC record and was a big reason the Tar Heels were able to give Everett Withers his first head coaching victory.
Renner's opposition will get much more difficult as the season goes on and teams get to prepare for the first-year starter, but that's where he will be aided by a two-headed rushing attack that also looked sharp on Saturday. Redshirt senior Ryan Houston and redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard both returned from injuries just in time to combine for 125 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Combine their success with the reliable Dwight Jones receiving, and the quarterback position no longer looks like a question mark in Chapel Hill.
2) The ACC at least has the capability to put up big points - Of the ten ACC teams with a game under their belt, eight teams scored at least 29 points with the entire conference averaging AVERAGE points on the weekend thus far. Granted, only Wake Forest and Boston College played teams from an AQ conference (both lost) and six of the conference's opponents were FCS teams, but for a conference that has been criticized at times for a lack of offensive talent it was a nice change to see some points. For Clemson it took awhile before Chad Morris' signature offense got clicking, but the 31 second half points were testament that it is capable of wearing down a defense. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech's 60+ point performances can be attributed to a combination of their opposition (Appalachian State and Western Carolina) and some explosive playmakers. North Carolina and North Carolina State both piled on late TD's against their FCS opponents, and Florida State's defense contributed as much as their offense in the Seminoles' 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe.
3) FSU's greatest offense might be their defense. Speaking of Louisiana-Monroe, the Seminoles had a matchup advantage over the Warhawks as soon as the teams hit the field. But that fact should not take anything away from the impressive performance from the Florida State defense. ULM's offense was held to just 191 yards of offense and despite 39 rushing attempts, the Warhawks could not collect more than 99 yards. Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine were physical in the trenches while the Seminoles' back seven, led by safety Lamarcus Joyner, swarmed to the ball to stuff Warhawk receivers when quarterback Kolton Browning tried to utilize under routes on third downs. In fact, Florida State's ten third-down stops were a key in keeping ULM's running game from gathering any kind of momentum. The coaching staff will be focusing on Charleston Southern, but I'll say it: that kind of defensive performance will be needed if the Seminoles want to knock off No. 1 Oklahoma on Sept. 17 in Tallahassee.
4) Georgia Tech's offense shows explosion, and more of the same bad habits. Paul Johnson's first two seasons as Georgia Tech's head coach had 9+ wins both seasons and an ACC title. So there was no surprise that Yellow Jacket fans were concerned with 2010's 6-7 finish that included dropping five of their final six games. One of the reasons Georgia Tech struggled down the stretch was trouble holding onto the ball. No FBS team lost more fumbles than Georgia Tech (20) in 2010, and they ranked last in the ACC in turnover margin. So while there was plenty to celebrate with the offensive performance in the season opener, there are also plenty of red flags.
The Yellow Jackets totaled 662 yards of offense, the most for any Georgia Tech team since 2000. Tevin Washington had more passing yards in the first quarter (148) than any quarterback had in an entire game during the 2010 season. Stephen Hill's four catches for 181 yards provided support to claims that he was set to be the next great Georgia Tech receiver in the line of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. But Georgia Tech still fumbled the ball six times, luckily only losing the ball twice. Thursday's season opener showed Georgia Tech fans that this offense is dangerous. They can be dangerously good, but also dangerously destructive if they can't fix their turnover issues.
5.) Maryland - Miami - The opening weekend in the ACC wraps up on Monday night when Miami visits College Park with a shortened roster to kick off the conference schedule. It will be the first game for new head coaches Al Golden and Randy Edsall, and I'm positive we will have plenty to learn about both squads. Keep it here at the Eye on College Football for all your ACC coverage.
Tags: ACC, Appalachian State, Boston College, Brandon Jenkins, Bryn Renner, Chad Morris, Chip Patterson, Clemson, Dwight Jones, Everett Withers, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Giovani Bernard, Kolton Browning, Lamarcus Joyner, Louisiana-Monroe, N.C. State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Paul Johnson, Ryan Houston, Tank Carradine, ULM, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Western Carolina, What I Learned
Posted on: September 3, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 6:47 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
FLORIDA STATE WON. Seminoles' fans have had their eyes set on Oklahoma's visit to Tallahassee on Sept. 17, but the team has some business before that - starting with ULM. Taking care of business is what FSU did, shutting out Louisiana-Monroe 34-0. Quarterback EJ Manuel played well in his first opening day start, completing 22-of-34 passes for 254 and a pair of touchdowns. The junior threw to 10 different receivers, with Rodney Smith leading the group in catches (6) and yards (79).
WHY FLORIDA STATE WON: The Seminoles defense suffocated ULM all afternoon. They only allowed 191 yards of total offense and held the Warhawks to 5-for-15 on third down conversions. The Florida State rushing game was steady, but not overly impressive. Manuel put together two impressive drives in the second half, but both fell short and ended in Dustin Hopkins field goals.
WHEN FLORIDA STATE WON: In the second quarter, Florida State pulled off a 17 play, eight minute drive that ended in a field goal to take a 10-0 lead. Greg Reid ran a punt back to set up the offense in the ULM red zone, but Manuel threw an interception on the first snap of the drive. Noticeably dejected with the offense's inability to capitalize, Manuel looked shaky for a moment. After a Lamarcus Joyner answered with an interception of his own, Manuel stepped up on the next drive and delivered a beautiful 50-yard touchdown pass while getting hit in the pocket. Helped the junior starter get his rhythm back and extended the Seminoles' halftime lead to 17.
WHAT FLORIDA STATE WON: While media and fans can continue to salivate at the thought of Florida State and Oklahoma throwing down in Doak Campbell Stadium, the team still needs to take advantage of these first games against ULM and Charleston Southern. Take advantage of a new opponent to learn more about yourself, and try to improve upon your weaknesses in practice. The coaching staff won 60 minutes of tape to break down for next week.
WHAT LOUISIANA-MONROE LOST: The lack of offensive production should not be a huge concern for ULM. They were going up against a fantastic defense and had terrible field position throughout the game. Keeping the game close for the first 1.5 quarters is a credit to the defense, and the fact that none of the halfbacks ran wild. Overall probably a good experience for a team looking to make strides in the Sun Belt Conference.
THAT WAS CRAZY: After Florida State built a 27-0 lead, EJ Manuel took a seat and backup Clint Trickett entered the game. The freshman Tallahassee native is the son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and connected with Rashad Green for a touchdown on his first collegiate snap. Pretty cool moment for the father and son on the sideline.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.
FOUR LINKS ...
1. It's not easy for a school like Mississippi State to keep up with the Joneses of the SEC when it comes to the facilities arms race ... but $12 million worth of private donation sure helps. The artist's rendition of the future "Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex" (which will house practice fields a weight room, coaches' offices, etc.) looks like so:
2. It sounds like new Colorado coach Jon Embree isn't wasting any time reshaping the Buffaloes roster. Though a round of cuts (unfortunately) isn't exactly unprecedented for a new coaching administration, it will be interesting to see if there's any pushback from the Boulder media or academic types over his cancellation of scholarships for "effort"-related reasons that seem to straddle the "violation of team rules" line.
One player who won't mind Embree's arrival regardless: Buff kicker Justin Castor, who watched Dan Hawkins burn his redshirt last season to attempt just one field goal.
3. Unlike most sports teams, when choosing a design for their Rose Bowl championship rings, TCU went reserved, classy, tasteful :
Or, perhaps, the opposite of that. (Not that they don't deserve rings that would fit around this blogger's wrist, of course.)
4. After the success of last year's Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field (and that in the face of the "offense only faces one way" debacle), it's no surprise that the Boston Red Sox would consider hosting a college football game of their own at Fenway Park. Though such a game is still just a twinkle in the Sox executive's eye at this stage, it's no surprise that Boston College fans would like to volunteer their team's services.
AND THE CLOUD ...
Cal receiver Tevin Carter has left the Bears program citing a lack of interest in football; Carter did not catch a pass last season ... "Top-level donors" at Arizona State are getting a sneak peek at the team's new uniforms ... Minnesota signee Peter Westerhaus suffered a skull fracture and received 50 stitches after being hit in the face by a boulder on a family hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. He'll be fine for fall practice, though ... Staying with the Gophers, a bill to allow alcohol sales in TCF Bank Stadium's "premium seating" has made it through committee ... The intensity of the Iron Bowl rivalry extends itself to a gymnastics meet, not that you should be surprised by that ... And speaking of Auburn, reserve linebacker Jessel Curry and reserve safety Ryan Smith are not currently with the Tigers during spring practice, though the door to their return doesn't sound closed yet ... And speaking of Alabama, here's 50 photos (!) illustrating the process (pun intended ) of bringing the Tide's new Nick Saban statue to, uh, life ... A useful look at the SEC's overall athletic program program margins, of which football is obviously the largest part ... Things got feisty at Texas A&M's practice this week ... The most in-depth 2011 preview of UL-Monroe you're going to find, courtesy of new stats-loving blog Football Study Hall .
Tags: Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Big Ten, Boston College, Cal, Colorado, Fenway Park, Friday Four Links, Illinois, Iron Bowl, Jessel Curry, Jone Embree, Justin Castor, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Mountain West, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Northwestern, Pac-12, Peter Westerhaus, Rose Bowl, Ryan Smith, SEC, TCU, Tevin Carter, Texas A&M, UL-Monroe, ULM, Wrigley Field
Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: April 7, 2011 12:41 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The 2011 offseason doesn't nearly so expansion-mad as the summer of 2010, but thanks to the Sun Belt, it look like we might have some intrigue after all.
According to this report in the Miami Herald, the current nine-team conference (and 10-team league once provisional program South Alabama becomes a full FBS member) is on the verge of adding a new, as-yet-unidentified 11th future member (emphasis added):
The conference has entertained expansion overtures from multiple programs in recent months, and the league has expressed keen interest in at least one of those candidates, The Miami Herald has learned.
The report is correct that limiting candidates to current FBS programs within the Sun Belt's geographical footprint doesn't leave room for a whole lot of options. And in fact, barring a surprise defection out of Conference USA, there seems to be just one: Louisiana Tech.
Located hundreds of miles from its closest geographic neighbors, the Shrveport-based school has always been an odd fit in its current home in the WAC. Given the WAC's short straw in the expansion battles and impending plunge to the basement of the FBS (not to mention the possibility of losing its automatic NCAA Tournament berth in men's basketball), Tech's switch to the Sun Belt would make sense from any number of perspectives: better level of competition, substantially reduced travel costs, local rivalries with schools like the SBC's UL-Monroe and Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, and all the recruiting advantages that those benefits would bring.
Meanwhile, the Sun Belt would be getting a firmly-established FBS program with a long history of producing high-quality teams, NFL players, and upsets of neighboring power schools (not to mention the aforementioned in-state conference rival for its Louisiana programs). Tech to the Sun Belt would appear to be a win-win on all sides.
That's not to say it's a certainty. Several schools in Conference USA also fit within the SBC's geographic footprint if they wanted out of C-USA for whatever reason, and if the league decided that footprint was wider than we'd expect, they could theoretically re-adopt former Sun Belt members New Mexico State or Utah State. And even if the school receiving "keen interest" from the league is Tech, it's far from a done deal.
But in any case, the move would make so much sense for both the Bulldogs and the SBC it would be a surprise if they weren't considering it. And if it's a move that indeed comes to pass, we'll have yet more confirmation that the Belt has decisively left the WAC behind as the FBS's bottom-barrel conference.
Posted on: October 2, 2010 1:40 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2010 2:10 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
In case you haven't heard: Cam Newton is heck of a football player.
At halftime against Louisiana-Monroe, Newton has completed 11 of 14 passes for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns. One of those scores, a 94 yard bomb to Emory Blake, was the longest pass play in school history. The ULM defense has had no answer for the Tigers, giving up 112 yards on the ground as well to bring the total to a whopping 343 yards of total offense.
Auburn's defense, on the other hand, has completely stymied any plans of a ULM rushing attack. The big defensive line, anchored by junior Nick Fairley, has dominated the line of scrimmage and have been getting after ULM quarterback Kolton Browning all day.
Newton will likely get pulled at some point in the second half if things continue the way they have started, but his performance should be enough to add to his growing Heisman buzz.