Tag:DeMarco Murray
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:51 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 11:52 pm
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QUICK HITS: Oklahoma 47 Tulsa 14

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA WON. The Sooners looked every big the top-ranked team in the country on Saturday night, never even allowing Tulsa a moment to think it might leave Norman with a victory. The Sooners offense racked up 47 points and 663 yards of offense on the night. Landry Jones (375 yards 1 TD) and Ryan Broyles (14 receptions, 158 yards 1 TD) had their typical nights, but it was a running back without a scholarship who may have grabbed the most attention. Dominique Whaley finished the night with 131 yards and 4 touchdowns, possibly answering the question of how the Sooners offense will replace DeMarco Murray.

WHY OKLAHOMA WON. It's just too good on offense for a team like Tulsa to compete with. The Sooners had 30 points within the first 20 minutes of the game, and every time you average more than a point a minute, things tend to work out well. If there's anything to worry about, it's that a Tulsa offense without its biggest threat in playmaker Damaris Johnson picked up 400 yards against the Sooners defense. Still, the Sooners forced three turnovers and kept Tulsa off the scoreboard for the most part, and that's a defense's biggest job.

WHEN OKLAHOMA WON. When Damaris Johnson was suspended indefinitely. The Sooners struggled in their opener against Utah State last season -- Auburn sympathizes -- and there was a bit of an upset risk in this game if Johnson had been able to play. Once he was suspended, Tulsa's hopes were dashed unless Oklahoma forgot to show up to the stadium.

WHAT OKLAHOMA WON. Another week atop the rankings. While plenty of big name schools across the country struggled on Saturday, Oklahoma never really had to break a sweat, and that's what top-ranked teams are supposed to do.

THAT WAS CRAZY. My favorite part of this game was easy to pick out. Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander picked off a deflected pass by G.J. Kinne and returned it 27 yards before finally being tackled. Any time I get to watch a defensive lineman run in the open field it's a moment I cherish, and Alexander didn't let me down.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 12:10 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big 12 Team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Landry Jones, Junior, Oklahoma

This is the rather obvious choice, as while there are some good quarterbacks in the Big 12, there's only one who plays for the team many see as a favorite to win the national title, and one whose name comes up in the Heisman Trophy discussion. That would be Landry Jones, and he deserves the hype. In his first two seasons with the Sooners, Jones has thrown for 7,916 yards, 64 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. 

Also watch for: Though he didn't claim the starting job until half the season had passed, Ryan Tannehill was a big part of Texas A&M's strong finish in 2010. There's also the supremely talented Robert Griffin III at Baylor, and you can't forget about Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State.

RUNNING BACK

Cyrus Gray, Senior, Texas A&M

While the Aggies deployed a two-headed monster at running back last season, Cyrus Gray was the most productive of the bunch. Gray rushed for 1,133 yards in 2010 and had 12 touchdowns. I wouldn't count on seeing Gray's production drop off at all as he enters his final season in College Station.

Roy Finch, Sophomore, Oklahoma

Finch didn't get a lot of playing time last season, but now that DeMarco Murray has moved on, the speedy back is going to see a lot of action this season, and in an offense as potent as Oklahoma's, that means we're likely to see some big numbers from the little man.

Also watch for: Christine Michael was part of Texas A&M's dynamic duo with Cyrus Gray last season, and he's going to have a big role in 2011 as well. There's also Eric Stephens at Texas Tech who could open some eyes with Tommy Tuberville implementing a more balanced attack and five returning starters on the offensive line. There's also Bryce Brown at Kansas State, and if Brown can live up to all the hype he had coming out of high school, then he may end up being the best back in the entire conference. Texas will be hoping that Malcolm Brown can be the feature back it's been looking for as well.

WIDE RECEIVER

Justin Blackmon, Junior, Oklahoma State

It's going to be hard for Justin Blackmon to match his 2010 numbers in 2011, but the fact is that his production was so insane last year, that he won't have to. Take away 500 yards and 5 touchdowns from his total last year and Blackmon still finishes with 1,282 yards and 15 touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, however, is if he surpasses last year's numbers, nobody will be all that surprised either.

Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Broyles could have left for the NFL last year, but he decided to return for another season in Norman and Landry Jones couldn't be happier about it. Broyles is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season with at least 14 touchdowns, and a third straight year with those numbers is likely on its way.

Also watch for: The Big 12 is not hurting for strong wide receivers. While Broyles and Blackmon will get the most attention, Kenny Stills and Josh Cooper are excellent second options for their respective squads. Then there's Kendall Wright at Baylor, Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller at Texas A&M, T.J. Moe at Missouri, and don't forget about Mike Davis at Texas.

TIGHT END

Michael Egnew, Senior, Missouri

Egnew is listed as a tight end, but realistically, he plays more like a wide receiver. Egnew caught 90 passes for 762 yards last year with five touchdowns, and he should see plenty of balls coming his way again this year as James Franklin looks to fill Blaine Gabbert's shoes.

Also watch for: While wide receiver catch most of the balls in the Big 12, there are some solid tight ends. Keep an eye on Oklahoma's James Hanna, Nehemiah Nicks with Texas A&M and Tim Biere at Kansas.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Ben Habern, Junior, Oklahoma

After redshirting in 2008, Habern has started 24 games at center for the Sooners over the last two seasons. He led Oklahoma with 123 knockdowns in 2010, including 16 against Colorado and was an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team last season.

Guard, Lonnie Edwards, Senior, Texas Tech

Edwards is a key part of the Texas Tech offensive line that returns every starter this season. He'll play an even larger role this season as Texas Tech will likely run more than we've seen in the past. The 6-foot-4 320 pounder has started 23 games in Lubbock and was an All-Big 12 second team selection in 2010.

Guard, Lane Taylor, Junior, Oklahoma State

Taylor is the most experience member of the Oklahoma State offensive line, as he was the only returning starter in 2010. He's made 24 consecutive starts for the Cowboys, and aside from keeping Brandon Weeden off his back, Taylor was an first team academic Big 12 selection as well.

Tackle, Levy Adcock, Senior, Oklahoma State

They don't come much bigger than Adcock, and the 6-foot-6 322-pound tackle used his size awfully well in 2010. Adcock was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by both the coaches and the AP last season (a unanimous selection by the AP) after winning the starting job in August last year and never letting it go.

Tackle, Kelechi Osemele, Senior, Iowa State

Oh wait, they do come bigger than Adcock. Osemele checks in at 6-foot-6 and 347 pounds. Osemele got his start playing both guard and tackle in 2008 but moved to left tackle full time in 2009 and hasn't moved since, starting 30 straight games. This will be a name you hear called early in the NFL draft next spring.

Also watch for: Offensive lineman may spend most of their time living in anonymity and working as a unit, but Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Oklahoma State's Grant Garner are a couple other names you should get familiar with. Missouri's Elvis Fisher definitely would have made the list if not for his season-ending knee injury.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Frank Alexander, Senior, Oklahoma

Alexander only started in nine games for the Sooners last season, but still managed to finish second on the team in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (7). In other words, he spends a lot of his time in backfields disrupting plays before they even get a chance to start.

DE Brad Madison, Junior, Missouri

Madison had a break out season in 2010 and proved to be one of the top playmakers on Missouri's defensive line. Madison ended the season leading the Tigers defense in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11).  He was named to the All-Big 12 second team for his efforts, and now that he'll be replacing Aldon Smith his name is one that many opposing quarterbacks will have drilled into their brains as they prepare to face Missouri.

DT Kheeston Randall, Senior, Texas

An anchor on the defensive line for the Longhorns, Randall was an honorable mention for the All-Big 12 last season. This year I believe he'll be moving up the ladder and having an even bigger impact.  Randall finished second on the team with 13 tackles for loss in 2010, and also had a big impact on special teams, blocking two kicks.

DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, Senior, Texas A&M

In Texas A&M's 3-4 defense, Jerod-Eddie sees a lot of time at defensive end, but he's a defensive tackle in purpose. Think of Marcell Dareus at Alabama last season.  While Jerod-Eddie doesn't spend a lot of time in the backfield blowing up plays, he uses his size and strength to stuff the run at the point of attack and allow Aggie linebackers to flow freely to the ball.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis only started the final four games for the Sooners last season, but he was incredibly productive in those four games. Starting all season could see him put up some ridiculous numbers. Jacqueis Smith of Missouri combines with Madison to give the Tigers a big push on the edges.

LINEBACKERS

Jake Knott, Junior, Iowa State

There weren't many plays run against the Iowa State defense last season in which Jake Knott wasn't in on the tackle. He led the conference with 130 tackles last season and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection because of it. He'll be bringing that same nose for the football back to the Iowa State defense this season, and though he broke his arm in spring camp, he should be good to go when the season starts.

Garrick Williams, Senior, Texas A&M

Williams tallied 112 tackles in 2010, and now that Michael Hodges and Von Miller are no longer in College Station, he'll be playing an even larger role in 2011. I'm not sure Williams will be able to completely fill Von Miller's shoes in the Aggie defense, but he may end up being just as important to the defense as Miller was.

Keenan Robinson, Senior, Texas

Robinson was all over the place for the Longhorns in 2010. He finished the season with 113 tackles, 2 for a loss, and also had 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Oh, and he's also a standout on special teams. He is literally all over the field on defense, and he's poised for another big season in 2011.

Also watch for: It was hard to pick just three linebackers in this conference, as there are plenty of other good options. Names like A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Arthur Brown (Kansas State), Caleb Lavey (Oklahoma State), Emmanuel Acho (Texas), Sean Porter (Texas A&M), Zaviar Gooden (Missouri) and Huldon Tharp (Kansas) are some of those options. Also, if it weren't for an injury that is going to keep him out for eight weeks, Oklahoma's Travis Lewis would have been an easy selection to the team. However, due to that injury, Lewis' replacement Corey Nelson is another name to watch out for.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Jamell Fleming, Senior, Oklahoma

Big 12 quarterbacks will test Jamell Fleming at their own risk in 2011. In his first full season as a starter last year Fleming had 5 interceptions, and proved himself quite the playmaker in the Oklahoma secondary. He's also not afraid to create some contact, tallying 71 tackles with 8.5 for a loss.  He's a very good player in what may be the best secondary the Big 12 has.

CB Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

Judie finished second in the Big 12 in interceptions last season behind Fleming with 4.  He also broke up 4 passes and made 57 tackles for the Aggies. His impact is also felt on special teams, as he proved to be one of the most explosive kick returners in the conference last season, averaging over 30 yards a return with 2 touchdowns.

S Markelle Martin, Senior, Oklahoma State

This is not a man that wide receivers want to have a rendevous with over the middle of the football field, as Martin can bring the wood with the best of them.  What makes Martin more dangerous, though, is that he improved his coverage skills in 2010 and picked off three passes. He's the type of safety that can separate you from the ball physically, or just take it away from you in the air.

S Tony Jefferson, Sophomore, Oklahoma

2010 may have been Jefferson's first season of college ball, but you couldn't tell by watching him play. The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year started 9 games for the Sooners in 2010 and finished the season with 65 tackles (7 for a loss) with 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 7 passes broken up. I expect those numbers to improve in 2011 as this kid is only beginning to tap into his potential.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Demontre Hurst could have been on my first team and given the Sooners secondary three of the four spots, but just because he didn't doesn't mean he's somebody quarterbacks should test too often. Keep your eyes on Blake Gideon (Texas), Trent Hunter (Texas A&M), Leonard Johnson (Iowa State) and Prince Kent (Baylor) too.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Grant Ressel, Senior, Missouri

P Quinn Sharp, Junior, Oklahoma State

KR Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

PR Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Posted on: April 19, 2011 12:49 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Mark Ingram wins EA NCAA Football 12 cover vote

Posted by Adam Jacobi

For college football enthusiasts, there's no more anticipated video game than EA's NCAA Football series, released during the interminable off-season and resurrecting fans' anticipation for the upcoming season. The changes in gameplay have become more incremental over the years, but what people are most interested in are the ever-expanding dynasty mode and EA's updated rosters and ratings.

Oh, and then there's the prestigious honor of the annual cover athlete.

Unlike EA NCAA Football's pro counterpart in the Madden series -- made famous for its "Madden Curse," which routinely afflicts its subjects with terrible, injury-addled seasons -- the NCAA Football cover is usually a harbinger of upcoming pro success. Sure, it started off slowly with Tommie Frazier and Danny Wuerffel, and EA would probably like to take those Joey Harrington and Chris Weinke covers back, but it has also honored such luminaries as Shaun Alexander, Ricky Williams, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, and Tim Tebow, among others. Not bad company, really.

This year, EA Sports put the NCAA Football 12 cover role up to a vote between four athletes: Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray, Alabama RB Mark Ingram, and Washington QB Jake Locker. Unsurprisingly, the voters chose the only athlete of the four who won a Heisman trophy: Ingram.

Astute observers probably noticed a conspicuously absent name from that list: Auburn QB Cam Newton. Newton, of course, won the 2010 Heisman Trophy and won the BCS Championship with Fairley this past January. EA Sports didn't divulge why Newton wasn't among the four finalists for the cover -- a lack of popularity doesn't exactly seem plausible, as he'd probably have beaten Ingram for the top spot -- but endorsements are always tricky business, to say nothing of the as-yet unresolved situation with Newton's recruitment and the NCAA's investigation thereof. Suffice it to say the arrangement didn't work for at least one of the two sides, so it'll be Ingram and that's that.

Of course, nothing about the cover athlete affects anything about the game itself past the opening screen; remember, these guys are all off to the NFL, so they're not actually in the game. But college football, more than any other sport on any level, prides itself on its awards and honors, and the EA cover is no exception.

Thoughts on the cover? Great? Terrible? The right call?

Posted on: March 22, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:25 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Oklahoma , who started spring practice on Monday . 

Spring Practice Question: Will Oklahoma replace DeMarco Murray with a committee of backs, or will one man emerge with the job? 

There are going to be a lot of expectations on the Oklahoma Sooners heading into 2011. Though we're a long time away from the first preseason polls of the year, and we all know that preseason polls are utterly useless, a lot of folks seem to think that Oklahoma will begin the season as the top-ranked team in the country. Which makes sense.

The Sooners are coming off another Big 12 title and a win in the Fiesta Bowl, and they're also getting back two of the best offensive players in the country in quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles.

A nice duo for new co-offensive coordinators Josh Huepel and Jay Norvell to have at their disposal as the replace Kevin Wilson, who took the head coaching job at Indiana. What won't be so easy for them to do is find a replacement for running back DeMarco Murray.

In his four years with the Sooners, Murray produced 5,256 yards and 63 touchdowns rushing and receiving. That's not the kind of production you can just replace. So who will be the man to pick up where Murray left off?

Well, odds are that it won't be just one back doing so, but rather a committee. Roy Finch did a nice job backing Murray up in 2010 as a freshman, but also had to miss the Fiesta Bowl with a stress fracture. Considering he's only 5'8 and 180 pounds, durability has to be a concern for Finch. Odds are that he won't be able to carry the load by himself, which will open the door for one of Oklahoma's other backs.

Going in to camp Brennan Clay is listed at number one on the running back depth chart, but he only carried the ball 36 times for 127 yards as a freshman. There's also Jermie Calhoun, Jonathan Miller and Iowa transfer Brandon Wegher who could take some carries this season.

Spring Practice Primers
Still, if I had to place money on who I think would emerge from all these backs as the featured guy, it wouldn't be any of those players I've already named. What's incredibly telling about what the Sooners would like to see happen this spring, incoming freshman Brandon Williams, who just enrolled this semester, is listed behind Clay on the depth chart.


Williams, a 6'1 188-pound running back out of Royal High School in Brookshire, Texas, may have been the crown jewel of Oklahoma's 2011 recruiting class. He'll also get a chance to win the starting job this spring, which is why he enrolled early.

During his junior and senior seasons at Royal, Williams rushed for 4,253 yards and 47 touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 656 yards and 6 more touchdowns. That's some DeMarco Murray-like production right there.

Of course, there's a difference between the Big 12 and high school football, even in the state of Texas, so whether or not Williams is able to handle the job at Oklahoma remains to be seen. Especially when you consider that it's national title or bust in Norman.

Whether or not he'll be able to handle it we'll begin to learn this spring. So while there are plenty of things to keep an eye on with the Sooners this spring, I have a feeling that most eyes will be on Williams.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Oklahoma fans set eyes on Mark Ingram

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Yesterday on the blog, I wrote about a couple of attack ads that the guys at Land Thieves - an Oklahoma Sooners website - had created for Auburn's Nick Fairley and Washington's Jake Locker. You see, there's an ongoing campaign being run by EA Sports to help determine the cover athlete on this year's version of their NCAA Football game. The finalists are Fairley, Locker, Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray and Alabama's Mark Ingram. You can vote for your choice here.

I noted in the post that the site had failed to put together an ad about Mark Ingram, and that they might have a hard time doing so. Well, they didn't have nearly as hard a time as I thought, as they sent in their Ingram ad on Tuesday.



Mark Ingram fumbled once!

Honestly, and I'm not trying to sway your votes here, but if I were to vote mine would go to Ingram. Attack ad be damned. Ingram just has the better career resume than any of the other three candidates. Jake Locker spent most of his time on bad Washington teams, Nick Fairley won a national title and anchored Auburn's defense, but how many of you had heard of him before last season? As for DeMarco Murray, he had a solid career at Oklahoma, but he wasn't even the best running back during that time period.

He certainly wasn't better than Mark Ingram, who not only won a national title with Alabama, but has one of those Heisman Trophy things. You need to be halfway decent to pick up one of those.
Posted on: March 7, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Oklahoma fans fight for NCAA 12 cover

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The college football season doesn't begin until September, but for millions of college football fans across the country, the season technically begins in July. That's when EA Sports releases the newest version of its NCAA Football video game every year. Well, this year EA Sports is running an election of sorts. An election being held to see who the cover athlete will be on this year's game.

The finalists are Alabama's Mark Ingram, Auburn's Nick Fairley, Washington's Jake Locker and Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray. You can vote here if you want to feel like a part of the democratic method. Of course, you should probably do some research before you chose whom to vote for, as this is an important election after all.

And no election would be complete without some attack ads. Luckily for us, some Oklahoma fans came through with a couple of ads campaigning for Murray and against Locker and Fairley.





Of course, you'll notice there is no attack ad against Mark Ingram. Mistake or intentional? I'd lean intentional as a shrewd political move. Seriously, what are they going to do?  Compare Ingam and Murray's history? All Mark Ingram has done the last few years is win a Heisman Trophy and a national championship. DeMarco Murray has done neither.

So the Murray campaigners best shot is to just pretend Mark Ingram doesn't even exist.

UPDATE: The guys at Land Thieves, who produced the videos, have contacted me to let me know that a Mark Ingram ad is currently in production. It's going to be hard to make him look bad, so I wish them luck.
Posted on: January 19, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Headset Reset: Welcome to the Pac-12 and Big Ten

Posted by Adam Jacobi

"Headset Reset " is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

DAVID SHAW, Stanford

Why him? Shaw represents a reaffirmation of the Jim Harbaugh regime, which rose from doormat to Pac-10 power with Shaw as offensive coordinator. Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby didn't get Boise State head coach Chris Petersen during negotiations after Harbaugh's departure, but Bowlsby's bona fides in football coach hiring are pretty solid. By hiring Shaw (and interviewing two other in-house candidates), Stanford has told its fans, "it ain't broke, and we're not fixin'."  By 2014, Shaw will need to: perpetuate Stanford's recent successes. Harbaugh isn't the first coach to win at Stanford, and he's also not the first coach to bolt for greener pastures at the first opportunity. So being that Stanford's main opposition in the Pac-12 North is Oregon and four programs with a light history of success (and let's ignore Stanford's time in that role since 40 years ago), there's an opportunity for the Cardinal to assert some authority.  Chances Shaw gets what he needs? Pretty good. Stanford's athletic department has a surprising amount of money, and with Oregon and Nike trying to start an arms race with the rest of the Pac-12, Stanford is one of the few schools that can probably keep up -- as long as it still wants to, anyway.

JON EMBREE, Colorado

Why him? Well, let's just not ask Bill McCartney that question. Past that, Embree was hired because he's a former Buffalo, and it would take a Colorado man to take this job and not flee the first time the Buffaloes put together seven wins in a season. By 2014, Embree will need to: get his team competitive with USC -- or whoever else is atop the Pac-12 South. There's no indication that Colorado's better or even as good as the rest of the division it's entering. CU can thank Dan Hawkins in some respects for that, but really, Colorado football hasn't been relevant for almost 15 years (yes, CU went to two consecutive Big XII Championships ... and lost them by a hilarious combined score of 112-6). Continued sub-mediocrity won't fly, especially as the Buffaloes try to acclimate themselves to a new conference without the strong tradition of success the Big XII had. Chances Embree gets what he needs? Not great. Colorado has struggled with keeping its football program relevant ever since the shared title year of 1990, even with some apparently decent head coaching hires. The move from the Big XII North to the Pac-12 South won't help lighten the Buffaloes' burden any, either. Colorado's struggles could very well be an institutional problem, not a coaching problem, and if that's the case it's probably easy to see how the Jon Embree Era will end in Boulder.

KEVIN WILSON, Indiana

Why him? This might actually be the most surprising hire of 2010, mainly because we didn't know Indiana could do something like this. The Hoosiers tabbed the vaunted Oklahoma offensive coordinator for his first head coaching gig, and they briefly had Boise State WR coach Brent Pease as the offensive coordinator. Hello, points! Problem was, Boise State's OC position opened up, and Pease went back to Boise for that gig, as would most sane coaches. This is still Indiana we're talking about. By 2014, Wilson will need to: prove that his offensive genius wasn't just "hand the ball to Adrian Peterson or DeMarco Murray and watch what happens." It likely wasn't, of course; Texas ably demonstrated this year that there's no such thing as a team too talented to get run into the ground by mediocre coaching. But still, the question remains; what's Wilson going to do when week in and week out, his players are inferior to their opponents? Chances Wilson gets what he needs? The better question here is whether Indiana gets what it needs, which is a solid football program led by a solid coach. That seems unlikely. Either Wilson fails badly in Bloomington like pretty much everyone before him, or he actually puts together a winning season, and starts getting wooed by job offers. What's going to keep Wilson in town when that starts happening? He doesn't have any prior connection to Indiana (both the school and the state itself), and his salary is only ("only") $1.2 million. As soon as he wins six games in a season up there, he's getting phone calls.

BRADY HOKE, Michigan

Why him? Michigan went back to its roots by hiring a former assistant, effectively admitting that the Rich Rodriguez dalliance was a mistake (also conveying that message: firing Rich Rodriguez) and that there was a formula to be followed. Hoke has whipped two programs into shape in short order, and he'll need to do it again at Michigan, which is just a mess. By 2014, Hoke will need to: have Michigan reloading instead of rebuilding. Michigan's biggest challengers in its new division are Nebraska and maybe Iowa or Northwestern. Hoke has no excuses for not routinely making the conference championship (or if not, being just a game out). Beating Ohio State would also be strongly recommended. Chances Hoke gets what he needs? Pretty darn good. Michigan has the resources, tradition, and expectations to get at least 10 wins a year, and now it's got a coach that can make that happen too. The common theme about the Hoke hire was that it wasn't "sexy," which means he's literally not an attractive person and/or that his teams play defense. Neither fact is a valid reason not to like this hire. Hoke wasn't Michigan's first choice, but neither was Jim Tressel at OSU. That's not to say "hiring fifth choice = national championship" is a valid strategy, but it's just extremely unlikely that there's only one right choice at a school with the inherent advantages that Michigan or any other traditional college football power would have. Jim Harbaugh probably would have succeeded at Michigan. So might Hoke. So might a cardboard cutout of Bo Schembechler (which is what the older part of Michigan's fanbase really wants in its heart of hearts anyway).

JERRY KILL, Minnesota

Why him? Aside from the obvious--that his name is literally just "Kill"--Minnesota hired a guy with 200 games of head coaching experience and a 63.5% winning percentage, all before his 50th birthday. Kill has succeeded in the MAC, where success is fleeting at best, and at a Southern Illinois program that wasn't really in good shape when he arrived. The track record's there, in other words. By 2014, Kill will need to: keep the stadium full. Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium is the newest house on the block in the Big Ten, but it's not exactly the biggest -- more like the opposite of that word. The luster of the new stadium was already wearing off by the time Tim Brewster was fired, as the team struggled to fill the stadium or do anything else of merit.  Chances Kill gets what he needs? Well, this depends solely on Kill's recruiting ability. He's been a head coach for almost 20 years, all of which came in the Midwest, so he knows the drill, and he knows the coaches. He just hasn't tried to land any big names before, and while bringing big names to Minnesota seems like a challenge, both Brewster and Glen Mason did it every now and then. So there's a chance he makes a turnaround happen.


Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:38 am
 

Bowl Grades: Fiesta Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Oklahoma outpaced Connecticut en route to a 48-20 Fiesta Bowl victory.

Oklahoma

Offense: Landry Jones set an Oklahoma bowl passing record with 433 yards through the air, and he was able to find wideouts Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney (both of whom had over 150 receiving yards) without much trouble. Broyles' touchdown catch was the type of play that exemplified his All-American season: an absolutely brilliant display of athleticism. DeMarco Murray wasn't a gamebreaker, but his 25 carries for 93 yards kept the chains moving -- he accounted for eight of Oklahoma's 27 first downs. Jones did throw a pick-six and Broyles coughed up a fumble at the end of an otherwise brilliant punt return, but those were relatively minor concerns. Grade: B+

Defense: Giving up 20 points is sort of a bummer, right? Thing of it is, though, UConn scored one touchdown on the aforementioned pick-six, and the other came on a kickoff return. Also, Jamell Fleming and Tony Jefferson each took an interception to the house in the second half, pushing the game out of reach for UConn. So essentially, the Oklahoma defense outscored the Huskies' offense 14-6. That's a win. Grade: A

Coaching: Well, Bob Stoops finally got that BCS bowl losing streak off his back. Shame that it had to come against such a comically overmatched opponent, but that's probably of limited concern to Stoops and the Sooners. It's hard to fault Stoops for any play calls or in-game decisions, except for that fake field goal early in the fourth quarter. Everyone in the world knows Stoops doesn't have a great deal of confidence in kicker Jimmy Stevens, who doesn't have a field goal of longer than 41 yards this year, so when OU lined up for a field goal on 4th and 7 at the UConn 30, nobody really expected a kick to go up. Further, Jones passed for 8.8 yards per attempt on the day; let the kid make another play!  Grade: B-

Connecticut

Offense: It's painfully obvious that UConn quarterback Zach Frazer doesn't have much in the way of help at receiver. The senior QB had rather pedestrian numbers again tonight (19-39, 223 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs), but several of Frazer's throws were dropped, tipped, or aimed somewhere other than where the receivers ended up going. Even on Frazer's two pick-sixes, both passes hit his receivers in the hands before being deflected up and into a Sooner's hands. It was sort of painful to watch. Jordan Todman did rush for 121 yards after a slow start, however, and Anthony Sherman and Ryan Griffin were decent targets between the 20s. Grade: D+

Defense: The Huskies' main highlight on defense was the "look what I found" interception score by Dwayne Gratz in the second quarter that first got UConn on the board, but that was pretty much it. Landry Jones found open receivers nearly every time he dropped back to pass, and Oklahoma was only forced into four punts in 14 possessions on the day. Grade: D

Coaching: Randy Edsall 's first foray into the BCS bowl world didn't go well, but that was pretty much a given considering the matchup. Connecticut's execution was sufficiently bad that it's hard to pin much on Edsall's playcalling, and the Huskies at least made Oklahoma work for its victory; this was still a 14-point game with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. It's hard to say whether Edsall will ever make it back to a BCS game -- his odds are probably better at a stronger school than UConn -- but he didn't look bad today. Grade: B

Final Grade

Look, nobody outside of Storrs, CT and whatever lair BCS president Bill Hancock resides in wanted this game to happen. The final score was pretty predictable, even though UConn stuck around for a little longer than most people would have expected. It would have been great to see this high-powered Oklahoma offense face a real defense, like that of Stanford or TCU or Boise State . But the rules are what they are, and this is what we get because of them: an afterthought of a Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut didn't belong in a BCS game, everybody knew it, and they proved why today. Can we really not get an "automatic unless you're a four-loss team" clause in the BCS language? Really? This game's very existence was unacceptable. Grade: F

 
 
 
 
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