Tag:North Dakota State
Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:54 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at USC.
Spring Practice Starts: Wednesday, March 6.
Spring Game: Saturday, April 14.
Returning Starters: Nine on offense, eight on defense and both specialists.
Three Things To Watch For:
1. Dealing with expectations.
USC safety T.J. McDonald and quarterback Matt Barkley are easy to tell apart if you see them walking around Heritage Hall or roaming around the Coliseum but they could not be more alike on paper after a remarkable run to close out last season. Both are captains, suit up in the cardinal and gold wearing number seven, each runs half the team and, most importantly to the Trojans in 2012, Barkley and McDonald announced they would return to school for their senior seasons on back-to-back days in late December. After two years without a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, the message both talked about was so clear that it's become the program's unofficial motto as they head into spring practice: unfinished business.
In many ways, this is about where everybody expects USC to be year-in and year-out given the program's history. A No. 6 ranking in the AP Poll to close out 2011 and, with 19 starters returning and a favorable schedule, expectations are running high for the first time since Lane Kiffin took over in Los Angeles.
"I really don't think it's expectations as much as it is being free - we kind of feel like we're being let out of prison," Kiffin said. "It's normal now. It's refreshing not to have the negative distractions. People will talk about expectations and all of that but the good thing is we have practice at dealing with that from our time here before."
USC will likely end up as the preseason No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country and despite scholarship limitations, will bring in ninth-ranked recruiting class with several five-star playmakers to supplement the group that will head out to Howard Jones field. It may be a return to normal with the national spotlight once again on Troy and Heisman candidate Barkley but for this group, it is something new. While the media will certainly be swarming like they did in the good old days and accolades and praise will come early and often, it's worth remembering that from the seniors to the freshman, this team hasn't faced anything like these expectations before. Will they play too loose or be wound too tight? It's something to keep tabs on.
"This is all about going out and preparing really well and practicing hard," Kiffin added. "It has been very refreshing to not deal with so much negativity and distractions, some of which was based on me and some on the sanctions."
2. New staff and new look.
For the first time in the Kiffin-era, the still youthful head coach has had to deal with some staff turnover. While the big stage the program provides has attracted more than it's fair share of coaches looking to boost their resume, the fact that two coaches left so close to spring practice definitely added a question mark or two to the team's outlook. Scottie Hazelton will take over as linebackers coach and was a surprise pick by many but he brings a solid resume that includes being the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State last season as they won the FCS national championship. It's not a flashy hire by any means and it will be interesting to see how Hazelton deals with the level of competition taking a leap but luckily for him he'll have most of last year's linebacking corps back.
USC hasn't had a full-time secondary coach since right before the 2011 season following the sudden departure of Willie Mack Garza due to NCAA issues. Kiffin took his time in landing a replacement but lured Marvin Sanders out West after he had just taken over as FAU's defensive coordinator. Mostly known for his time as Nebraska's secondary coach, Sanders has coached several top NFL draft picks and contributed to some very good Cornhuskers defenses. He'll take over a group that needs some development but is among the deepest on the team, especially at safety.
"It's going to be refreshing to have a spring with all these guys in place," Kiffin said. "There will be some growing pains but we'll be rolling by the time we get to the fall."
The final hire might have drawn the most press given new receivers coach Tee Martin's place in Tennessee lore. Though his group dealt with drops in his final season at Kentucky, Martin is known for being a good recruiter and helped turn Randall Cobb into an All-American the year before. He'll have the best group of wide receivers in the country to work with this spring, led by All-Americans Robert Woods and Marqise Lee to go along with former five-star George Farmer.
3. Line depth.
The biggest question marks surrounding the Trojans are centered on the trenches. Four of the five offensive linemen return but replacing a top three NFL Draft pick in Matt Kalil will be not be easy despite the unit becoming the biggest surprise of the team last year. The interior of the line is the strength with Marcus Martin and John Martinez solid at the guard spots and All-American candidate Khaled Holmes leading the way at center. Kevin Graf will get first shot at replacing Kaili at left tackle while Aundrey Walker will be on the other side. Both played those positions in high school and, with several starts under their belt already, should ease some concerns. Beyond that though, and depth is still an issue until the fall.
The outlook at defensive line is not so rosy, with three starters gone and the Pac-12 leader in sacks impressing everybody at the NFL Combine. Pencil in Wes Horton and Devon Kennard at the end spot but depth behind them and who takes over at tackle will be the reason Ed Orgeron is up late at night (and not just the Red Bull). Those inside the program expect a lot out of sophomore George Uko.
"I'm really looking at seeing how well these tackles, Aundrey and Kevin do," Kiffin said. "I also really want to seeing the continued development of our defense with so much experience coming back and with two new coaches. I really want to be a dominant defensive team like (USC in) '02 or '03. Big five turnover or seven sack games, the type where you have just a suffocating defense."
If the Trojans are going to live up to expectations, figuring things out along the lines will be paramount this spring.
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Tags: Aundrey Walker, Bryan Fischer, Devon Kennard, Ed Orgeron, FAU, FCS, George Farmer, George Uko, Heisman Trophy, John Martinez, Kentucky, Kevin Graf, Khaled Holmes, Lane Kiffin, Marcus Martin, Marqise Lee, Marvin Sanders, Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL, North Dakota State, Pac-12, Randall Cobb, Robert Woods, Scottie Hazelton, Spring Practice, Spring Practice Primer, Spring Practice Primer 2012, Spring Practice Primers, T.J. McDonald, Tee Martin, Tennessee, USC, Wes Horton, Willie Mack Garza
Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:25 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:26 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
With Spring Practice only a few weeks away, USC head coach Lane Kiffin had three open coaching spots and little time to fill them. As of Sunday, he had filled two of the spots, hiring North Dakota State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton to coach linebackers and Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders to coach defensive backs, according to multiple reports including the LA Times.
The pair replace Joe Barry, who left to coach linebackers for the San Diego Chargers, and fill a void left after Willie Mack Garza resigned as the secondary coach right before the 2011 season.
Hazelton spent six years with the Bison, the last two coordinating the defense and won the FCS championship last season. Sanders spent only two months at Florida Atlantic, following Carl Pelini from Nebraska where he served as defensive backs coach for four seasons and sent several players to NFL. In addition to his stop in Lincoln, Sanders also served as defensive coordinator for two seasons at North Carolina.
The school has not officially confirmed the hires but numerous recruits were told during USC's Junior Day on Sunday.
The Trojans begin spring practice on March 6th. Kiffin still has to find a replacement for wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore, who left to take the same position with the Oakland Raiders.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 4:19 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 12:19 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. The Big Ten can't even get cheap wins correctly. There's no nice way to put this: this was possibly the worst week in Big Ten history in terms of opponent quality. The total amount of AP and coaches poll votes held by the Big Ten's Week 4 opponents? 22, received by Michigan opponent San Diego State, who will likely see that number fall to zero on Sunday after the Wolverines prevailed 28-7. Handfuls of undeserved votes aside, the best team anybody in the Big Ten faced today was Western Michigan, who took Illinois to the limit in Champaign. Again: Western Michigan, a MAC team with no AP or coaches poll votes, looked like the most talented opponent of Week 4 for anybody in the Big Ten. And being that there were no riots on any of the Big Ten campuses, apparently fans are willing to allow this scheduling practice to continue.
So it would stand to reason that the Big Ten went 10-0 this week (Purdue and Northwestern are on bye weeks) then, correct? Well, no. Indiana couldn't overcome a 24-point deficit in a 24-21 home road loss to North Texas, and Minnesota increased its losing streak against North Dakota State to two games (also lost to Bison in 2007) by dropping Saturday's game, 37-24. As for how such a shocking loss could have possibly happened to a Big Ten team, well, look at the picture above. It's Minnesota. There were blowouts everywhere else in the conference, which is the way it ought to be, but 8-2 against a slate of cupcakes? Shame on the Big Ten for that.
2. Speaking of which, Indiana and Minnesota may be worse than we thought. It was obvious already that Indiana and Minnesota were going to be taking up residence in the basements of their respective divisions, what with the Hoosiers losing to Ball State in Week 1 and Minnesota dropping one to New Mexico State already this year. But both teams' losses to low-level competition this Saturday were even worse, because for most of the game, they weren't even close. North Texas was 0-3 on the year coming into the game, and built a 24-0 lead while moving the ball at will on the Hoosier defense, while NDSU held a 31-14 advantage in the second half before holding on for the win. We're talking about a previously winless Sun Belt team and an FCS school who both looked like they belonged in the Big Ten more than the Hoosiers or Gophers. That? That's not good.
3. Braxton Miller is not on Terrelle Pryor's level... yet. Ohio State cruised to a 37-17 victory over visiting Pac-12 doormat Colorado, but the big story here was Braxton Miller's debut as a starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. Miller was a force on the ground, registering 83 yards on 17 carries, and he also threw for two touchdowns. That's the good part. The bad part is that Miller was just 5-13 for 83 yards through the air, and he just doesn't have a very good read progression at this point. Really, he wasn't even supposed to be playing this year, much less starting, but then Terrelle Pryor's eligibility walked out the door and now here we are with a true freshman under center in Columbus.
Miller's going to improve over the course of the year, one would imagine, and that's good because don't let the touchdowns fool you: he's got a ways to go yet before he's as reliable as Luke Fickell is going to need him to be in conference play. Miller did show flashes of the athleticism and play-making ability that made him such a sought-after prospect on Saturday, but the consistency is going to be the key, and that comes mainly with time -- time that, with Michigan State coming to town next Saturday, Ohio State doesn't really have.
4. Michael Mauti's luck is just wretched. Penn State beat Eastern Michigan 34-6, but the real story for PSU is the injuries suffered on the defensive side of the ball. CB D'Anton Lynn was carted off the field in the second half with an apparent neck injury, but he's expected to be fine. The real problem for the Nittany Lions is the absence of All-American candidate Michael Mauti, who suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact injury in the first quarter and will miss the rest of the year. Mauti was forced to redshirt in 2009, his second year with Penn State, after tearing his right ACL; Saturday's injury happened to Mauti's left. It's early enough in the year that he'll likely be able to apply for a sixth year of eligibility in 2013 if he wants it.
This marks the third season marred by injury for the talented linebacker; in addition to the 2009 ACL injury mentioned earlier, Mauti was plagued by ankle and shoulder issues in 2010 and never seemed to be at 100% during Big Ten play even when he was healthy enough to be on the field (not always the case). Mauti had looked great in early play this season, and although Nate Stupar is no slouch in relief, losing a high-caliber player like Mauti is tough for a team that's going to be leaning heavily on its defense this season with the continuing difficulties at quarterback.
We hope Mauti's recovery is swift and complete, and that he finally gets at least one healthy season to put it all together for Penn State. Anything less, frankly, would be unfair.
5. There are going to be a lot of quarterbacks getting All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition. The best quarterback in the Big Ten is probably Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, and if it's not, it's Mr. Michigan, Denard Robinson.(seen at left, rushing for one of his three scores Saturday). Short of injury, there's basically no way these two dynamos cede the All-Big Ten first team and second team honors at the end of this season.
That means honorable mention is going to have to accommodate a lot of Big Ten quarterbacks who are off to great starts this season in their own right. Nathan Scheelhaase is basically a job-saver for Ron Zook at Illinois, epitomizing the "dual threat" label with a high option IQ and an accurate arm. James Vandenberg is probably the best pure passer Kirk Ferentz has ever had at Iowa, and the junior has nearly 1100 yards, 10 TDs, and only one interception in his first four games this year. MSU's Kirk Cousins was my preseason pick as 2011's top QB in the Big Ten, and he still may be so when the dust settles. Nebraska's option man Taylor Martinez would be the most dynamic rushing quarterback in the Big Ten since Antwaan Randle-El if it weren't for that Denard fellow in Ann Arbor. And oh yes, Dan Persa is coming back next week for Northwestern; if he can replicate his pre-Achilles injury form, Northwestern's going to be in great shape. That's a lot of very, very good quarterbacks for just one conference, and the scary part is that only Wilson and Cousins are seniors. Meanwhile, Indiana brings in top prospect Dusty Kiel next season and Braxton Miller will be the unquestioned starter in Columbus with a full year of experience under his belt in 2012. The high-profile quarterback isn't going anywhere soon in the Big Ten.
One school that's conspicuously absent in this discussion is Penn State, who struggled again with quarterback play in the Rob Bolden/Matt McGloin quarterback platoon that seemed to hit a stride of sorts this week... against EMU, who isn't even good by MAC standards. How the Penn State quarterback situation got so dire is a question that gets beaten past any semblance of sense on a weekly basis in Happy Valley, but it doesn't change the fact that Penn State's in a quarterback-heavy league without a true No. 1 quarterback, and it's probably going to cost the Nittany Lions this year. It would be false to ascribe this to an institutional weakness on the part of Joe Paterno, since his last full-time starting quarterback was Daryll Clark, who was only the Big Ten OPOTY in 2008. It would also be false to think this problem will fix itself, though, because if there were a legitimate, game-ready quarterback on Penn State's roster, well, we would have seen him by now.
6. Well, at least that's all done. There are only two non-conference games left for anybody in the Big Ten; Purdue faces Notre Dame next week, and Northwestern has a date with Rice in November. For everyone else, it's nothing but Big Ten play from here on out. No more FCS patsies, no more MACrifices, and no more cupcakes showing up for a paycheck. It's the way the Big Ten was meant to be played. Let's go.
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Tags: Adam Jacobi, Antwaan Randle-El, Ball State, Big Ten, Braxton Miller, Colorado, D'Anton Lynn, Dan Persa, Daryll Clark, Denard Robinson, Dusty Kiel, Eastern Michigan, FCS, Illinois, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, James Vandenberg, Joe Paterno, Kirk Cousins, Kirk Ferentz, Luke Fickell, Matt McGloin, Michael Mauti, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nate Stupar, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Non-BCS, North Dakota State, North Texas, Northwestern, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rice, Rob Bolden, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, San Diego State, Sun Belt, Taylor Martinez, Terrelle Pryor, Western Michigan, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:20 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. There's a reason the other conferences want the Oklahoma schools. Okay, so I knew that going into the weekend, but both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State showed why both schools began the year ranked in the top ten. Sure, the opponents weren't exactly the best college football has to offer, but the two Oklahoma offenses might be. Combined the Sooners and Cowboys outscored their opponents 108-48 and racked up 1,329 yards. That's getting it done when you have the ball.
2. Garrett Gilbert is improving. It's dangerous to rate a team or a player based on one game, but Texas fans had to be happier with the Garrett Gilbert they saw against Rice on Saturday night. In the season opener against Rice last season Gilbert completed 14 of 23 passes for 172 yards and no touchdowns. On Saturday he threw for 239 yards and a score, including a pretty little 56-yard bomb to Mike Davis with the Longhorns pressed against their own goal line. He didn't throw an inteception either, and while these might be baby steps, at least they're baby steps in the right direction.
3. Baylor is still one of the most entertaining teams in the country. Without a doubt, the biggest story of the weekend in the Big 12 so far is Baylor's 50-48 win over TCU on Friday night. Of course, while the Baylor offense showed the entire country why it's so fun to watch, the Baylor defense also showed the country why you can't turn a Baylor game off no matter what the score is. There are going to be plenty more shootouts to enjoy in Waco this season.
4. James Franklin needs some work. Missouri picked up a win against Miami (OH) to start the season, but James Franklin didn't do too much to erase the memory of Blaine Gabbert. Franklin averaged only 5.0 yards per attempt passing on Saturday as the Tigers offense struggled to get points. Most of the yards Franklin did complete came on screens, and even though the Mizzou defense still looks stout, Franklin is going to have to improve his downfield passing if the Tigers want to compete with the top-tier teams in the Big 12.
5. Kansas may not be the worst team in the conference. Remember last season when the Jayhawks started their season with an embarrassing 6-3 loss against North Dakota State? Yeah, well not this season. The Jayhawks handled McNeese State 42-24 on Saturday night while both Kansas State and Iowa State needed last-minute touchdown drives to escape their respective games against Eastern Kentucky and Northern Iowa.
6. Off-field distractions don't seem to be on-field distractions. There's a lot of talk surrounding the Big 12 these days about schools leaving and the conference ceasing to exist, but it didn't show on the field. Sure, teams like Kansas State and Iowa State struggled, but the Big 12 is 9-0 in its first nine games of the year. If Texas A&M can beat SMU on Sunday night, the conference moves to 10-0.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 3:32 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Nearly 48 hours before their season opener, USC will shockingly take the field without a key staff member.
Trojans' secondary coach Willie Mack Garza resigned Thursday afternoon effective immediately citing personal reasons, according to a school statement.
"I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC," Garza said. "I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address. I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won't be with them in what I know will be a very successful season."
Garza was entering his second year with the program and followed head coach Lane Kiffin to Los Angeles from Tennessee. The 42-year-old assistant also had coaching stops at Western Michigan, TCU, Tarleton State and North Dakota State before connecting with Kiffin and the Volunteers in 2009. Several USC beat writers confirmed that he was not at practice on Wednesday and that players were informed via text message Thursday morning.
Graduate assistant and former Trojan and NFL defensive back Sammy Knight is expected to take over Garza's responsibilities. USC plays Minnesota at 12:30 PM on Saturday.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 1:04 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:31 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 1:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Last we checked in with North Dakota State head coach Craig Bohl, his team had just upset Kansas 6-3 to start the 2010 season. Since then we've documented the epic hilarity that has been Kansas football this season, but the Bison kind of got lost in the shuffle. What has the team and its head coach been up to? Well, the Bison are 7-3 but will not be winning the Missouri Valley Conference this season, as that title belongs to Northern Iowa. As for Bohl, when he's not on the sidelines or in his office, you can likely find him pulled over on the side of any road in Fargo.
Since taking over as head coach at the school in 2003, Bohl has received at least 18 traffic violations. Ten of those being of the speeding variety. So when the Fargo Police Department needed to find a spokesperson for their new traffic safety campaign, who do you think they turned to? Why, Craig Bohl, don'tcha know!
Bohl provides the voice for a 30-second radio ad Fargo police began airing this week as part of a traffic-safety campaign dubbed, "Are you getting it now?" The ad details a string of crashes in Fargo that killed five people in less than three weeks this fall and is targeted at repeat offenders.If you ask me, this is an idea that probably should have gone in the woodchipper, but the Fargo police said they don't plan on making any changes to the campaign.
In other news, following his epic performance against the Washington Redskins on Monday night, Michael Vick has agreed to become the new spokesperson for the ASPCA.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 3:23 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
North Dakota State's ridiculous 6-3 win over Kansas last week may have been a killshot for the Jayhawks' football season. That much was immediately evident after the game, but what we didn't expect was to see NDSU head coach Craig Bohn continue to pule dirt on the Jayhawks' season, like he did during a teleconference earlier this week:
"I think the environment that we're going to play in Cedar Falls is going to be much more of a hostile environment than Memorial Stadium in Kansas," he said on the Missouri Valley coaches teleconference. "That was pretty docile. And the type of team that we're going to be playing is going to be a much more physical, aggressive football team than KU. And quite frankly I think we're going to be playing a better opponent. I know one school is in the Big 12 and the other one is in the Missouri Valley. I think that gives an indication on how we see Missouri Valley play and the respect we give Northern Iowa."
UNI is a pretty good team, to be sure; the traditional FCS power didn't make the playoffs last season, but they did put a scare into Iowa in week 1 before losing on consecutive blocked kicks. They're not pushovers in any sense of the term. But this is brutal talk from Bohl. Rappers get shot for less.
And yet, Bohl isn't necessarily wrong, either; it's easily possible that UNI beats NDSU, which will be more than Kansas can claim, and the UNI-Dome should provide a much louder noise level from fans than witnessed at last week's debacle in Lawrence.
But still. UNI over Kansas? That only happens in basketball, man.