Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Lincoln Riley
Posted on: August 30, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Could CB Auguste's injury hurt Gamecocks vs. ECU?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

During Monday night's South Carolina practice, starting corner Akeem Auguste reaggravated a left foot injury. Per CBSSports.com RapidReporter Josh Kendall, Auguste will now come off the bench in the Gamecocks' Saturday season opener against East Carolina--if he plays at all.

Starting in Auguste's place will be senior and part-time 2010 starter C.C. Whitlock, with the Gamecock's top backups in the event of Auguste's absence projected to be senior (and former walk-on) Marty Markett and redshirt freshman Cadarious Sanders. A former track athlete, Markett has one start in his two seasons on the Gamecock football team, while Sanders was one of the lower-profile additions to Carolina's 2010 class.

If the 'Cocks were opening their season against any random FCS or Sun Belt tomato can, nothing that was going on in the Gamecock secondary would matter. Even if they were opening against most Conference USA teams, or some lower-rung BCS squad, it wouldn't matter. But against the Pirates? It could matter.

It's not likely to, of course; South Carolina is a legitimate top-20 team and ECU -- 6-7 a year ago with a defense ranked dead last in FBS total defense -- is most certainly not.

But thanks to that ailing Carolina secondary, the Pirates could present the Gamecocks with a stiff challenge all the same. ECU's (newly slimmed-down) head coach is Ruffin McNeill, a former defensive coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and McNeill's offensive coordinator is Lincoln Riley, a former Tech wide receivers coach and devoted Leach protege. So it wasn't a surprise when their 2010 Pirate offense was as close to Leach's old Air Raid as it was possible to get, throwing more often than any other team in the country, turning quarterback Dominique Davis into the country's fourth-leading passer, and receivers Dwayne Harris and Lance Lewis into a matched pair of 1,100-yard receivers.

Now Riley, Davis, Lewis, and two other players with 40-plus receptions* are all back for another go-round--meaning that they might present matchup problems for South Carolina even if Auguste wasn't injured. The Gamecock secondary was quietly the team's Achilles heel last season, ranking 97th in pass defense and a scarcely-better 87th in opponent's quarterback rating. And even those numbers might have been generous to the Carolina secondary, which had the good fortune of playing alongside the nation's fifth-most potent pass rush. In short: whenever opposing quarterbacks had time to throw against the 2010 'Cocks, they found plenty of success.

And ECU's system -- as with Leach's before it -- is structured in such a way that their quarterback always has time. Despite their nation-leading number of attempts, the Pirates still finished in the FBS top-20 in sacks allowed, giving one up just once every 50 dropbacks. Gamecock defensive line coach Brad Lawing took notice:
"You can’t sack them,” Lawing said. “He just catches it and throws it, catches it and throws it. You can’t get there. It’s just not going to happen. You could have Lawrence Taylor up there five times and you can’t get there.”
So ... if the Gamecock pass rush won't matter ... and the Gamecock secondary can't keep up ... what happens?

What happens is that South Carolina wins going away 9 times out of 10, maybe 95 times out of 100. The Pirates have no answer for the likes of Marcus Lattimore or Alshon Jeffery, no way to handle the size Carolina offers up front, no way to avoid wearing down in the face of the Gamecocks' superior depth. We're not suggesting an upset is imminent, not when the Gamecocks have the firepower to match every score the Pirates put on the board and then some. Even the secondary concerns may be overblown--while we don't feel Stephen Gilmore has been an All-SEC caliber player (for the reasons listed above), having him, Whitlock, and fellow returning starter D.J. Swearinger back must lead to some improvement.

That said--if Stephen Garcia has one of his occasional space-case performances? If Connor Shaw isn't ready for his close-up? And Davis and the Pirate wideouts begin abusing Auguste's replacements? And the game remains close into the third or even fourth quarters, and the favored Gamecocks can't find their mojo in Charlotte's neutral-site venue? This being the 1 time out of 10 isn't impossible.

*Though one of those players won't see the field Saturday.



Posted on: January 20, 2011 12:30 pm
 

New Badger LBs coach changing face of C-USA?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's the sort of news that typically flies under the radar: Wisconsin fills out its revamped defensive coaching staff by hiring a non-AQ assistant , in this case UCF defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable, to coach the Badger linebackers. Not that big a deal, right?

Not in Conference USA, where the Knight defense Huxtable spent 2010 coaching just so happened to be the best, most dominant single unit in the entire conference (Chad Morris's Tulsa offense possibly excepted). Huxtable's charges finished the year 15th in the country in total defense at just 315 yards allowed per-game, and wrapped up their season playing as well as any defense in the nation, holding high-powered attacks from SMU and Georgia to a total of 13 points.

The end result of that brilliance was a C-USA title and a Liberty Bowl championship for UCF, despite the Knight offense only ringing up 27 points of its own in those games. Depsite the loss of six senior starters on that defense, with revelatory true freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey ready for an even bigger sophomore campaign, plenty of talent still available on both sides of the ball, and -- maybe most importantly -- Huxtable in place to reprise his exquisite defensive play-calling, the Knights would have been the easy choice to repeat as C-USA champions in 2011.

Now? Well, UCF will likely be the runaway league favorites anyway. But living up to those expectations will be dramatically more difficult with a realignment of the defensive staff simultaneous to the loss of those six starters. That goes double, too, in a conference with a collection of offensive minds as sharp as SMU's June Jones, Southern Miss's Larry Fedora, East Carolina's Lincoln Riley, etc.

In the big national picture, it's just Wisconsin hiring a position coach. But for the Knights and potentially all of Conference USA, it could be a story much, much bigger than that.

Posted on: December 29, 2010 11:42 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 9:16 am
 

Bowl Grades: Military Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

MARYLAND

Offense - After such a successful season for Danny O'Brien, many expected the freshman quarterback to go right back to his favorite target, Torrey Smith, against the outmatched East Carolina secondary. But it was the running backs who stole the show in the 51-20 victory. D.J. Adams, Da'Rell Scott, and David Meggett combined for 297 yards and 4 touchdowns against arguably the worst defense in college football. The opposition certainly didn't provide much of a challenge, but you still have to give the Terps credit for being able to take advantage of the opportunities. GRADE: B

Defense - Maryland figured they would have their hands full with Dominique Davis and the high-octane ECU offense. They knew they would have an advantage on offense, and just needed to keep the Pirates in check in order to secure a victory. Maryland's success started with a great scheme to frustrate and confuse Davis. Davis looked uncomfortable in the pocket, and the Terps forced him to turn the ball over three times (2 INTs, 1 FF). GRADE: B+

Coaching - While Friedgen received much of the praise for Maryland's performance in his last game as head coach, the job of defensive coordinator Don Brown should not be overlooked. ECU came into the game ranking in the top 20 nationally in most offensive categories, and Maryland held them to just one touchdown until the final minutes of regulation. Also a nod to running backs coach John Donovan for his job standing in for departed offensive coordinator James Franklin. GRADE: A-

EAST CAROLINA

Offense - East Carolina's impressive offensive statistics were not an overly inflated point because of a weaker schedule. In fact, the Pirates played three ACC teams this season (1-2), and they averaged 25.7 points in those games. So there are very few excuses for the numerous penalties and six turnovers by the East Carolina offense. The Pirates threw for 311 yards, but only rushed for 32 as the hurry-up offense was slowed to a stop by costly mistakes. Lincoln Riley is considered one of the bright young coaches in the game, but his offense mailed it in against the Terps. GRADE: F

Defense - The most disappointing thing about East Carolina's defense was watching them cave in the second half. Not only did Maryland continue to build the lead, but the effort applied (particularly on the 61 and 93 yard TD runs by Da'rell Scott) seemed to diminish as the clock continued to wind down. We knew that ECU's defense was the worst in the NCAA, but you still would like to see a little more effort in pursuit of the ball based on the bigger stage. Shame on us for having high hopes/expectations out of the Pirates defense in 2010. GRADE: F

Coaching - I believe that ECU has a bright future ahead, particularly under the leadership of first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. But considering the four turnovers and 15 penalties, it is hard not to criticize the Pirates' preparation. ECU was sloppy out of the gate, and there were back-breaking penalties on both sides of the ball. Been a rough second half the season, and many of their woes continued into the postseason. GRADE: D+

FINAL GRADE: The 2010 Military Bowl was made up of, among other things, 71 points, 6 turnovers, 26 penalties, and lasted just a few minutes shy of four hours. Any further explanation would include too many expletives. Sloppy, long, and painful at the end. GRADE: F
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com