Posts Tagged ‘coach’

Michigan completes hearing with NCAA (AP)

August 15th, 2010
Rich Rodriguez walked briskly toward the escalator, ready to get out of a hotel ballroom and back on a plane to Michigan. "Certainly glad this part of the process is over," Michigan's football coach said in his only comment Saturday afternoon after a 7 1/2 -hour hearing before the NCAA committee on infractions.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz Discusses Brandon Wegher Situation

August 15th, 2010

Head coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed Saturday during Iowa's open scrimmage that sophomore running back Brandon Wegher has left the team to deal with personal issues. 

Ferentz hinted that Wegher might be back in the near future. The Iowa coach said he has talked the sophomore this week and has left the door open for a return. 

“Personally, I can’t imagine him not coming back,” Ferentz said after a the scrimmage. “But you never know.”

The Iowa coach declined to detail the nature of the personal issues.

“We all have periods in our lives when we reflect a little bit,” the head coach reminded. “That’s probably pretty much where he’s at right now.”

Wegher rushed for 641 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009, including a 30-yard touchdown run during Iowa's Orange Bowl victory. He was expected to contend for starter at running back.

Hawkeye Nation's Jon Miller thinks Wegher stands a good chance of being available for Iowa’s season opener against Eastern Illinois.

"All are hopeful and optimistic this will happen, and I believe Ferentz’s words spell a greater likelihood of that happened," Miller explains. Having covered Hawkeye sports for over a decade, Miller has a good way of picking out the finer points in Ferentz's dialectic mannerisms.

Cedar Rapids Gazette writer Marc Morehouse asked quarterback Ricky Stanzi about the situation after the scrimmage.

"We'd love to have him, obviously," Stanzi told Morehouse. "He was a great player last year but, ya know, if he's not here we understand we have got to move on and go to the next thing. We gotta keep playing with the guys we have."

Stanzi's philosophy is to focus the hand the team is dealt, rather than wondering about the what-ifs.

"We gotta keep moving," Stanzi explained. "That's our best chance of winning."

For now, sophomore Adam Robinson looks to be the starter for Iowa's opening game against Eastern Illinois. Sophomore Jewel Hampton is the likely No. 2 running back on the team, but will sit out the opener due to a one-game suspension.  

That means the current No. 2 back for the Hawkeyes against the Panthers is none other than senior Paki O'Meara.

The ACC Championship Runs Through Tallahassee In 2010

August 15th, 2010

The Atlantic Coast Conference boasts a lot of talent this upcoming season.

With two Heisman caliber quarterbacks in Christian Ponder and Jacory Harris and plenty of first round draft talent, mainly coming from the defensive side of the ball at North Carolina, this conference is finally breaking through into respectability.

So who is going to win the conference?

All signs point to a Miami and Florida State championship game.A championship game that has been in the making since Miami joined the conference.

How can Florida State make it to the ACC Championship after a 7-6 campaign a year ago?

It's simple. A brand new coach with new faces in the coaching staff.

New head coach Jimbo Fisher brought in Mark Stoops and his zone defensive scheme to be the new defensive coordinator.

Stoops brings with him a great track record and a defense that best suits the athletes on that side of the ball. Stoops zone scheme should help a young secondary that failed miserably last season.

The Seminoles will have a tough road in the conference. With home games against Wake Forest, Boston College, North Carolina and Clemson and away games at Virginia, Miami, North Carolina State and Maryland.

The toughest conference challenges appear to be against Miami and North Carolina, but what has hurt the Seminoles in the past is looking past teams. Teams such as Boston College, Clemson and Wake Forest who have all had the 'Noles number the past few seasons.

If FSU can find a chemistry on the defensive side of the ball early on, then there will be no stopping them come conference play.

Their high powered offense led by quarterback Christian Ponder will be able to keep them in games, but the defense will have to stop teams; a problem that cost them a lot of losses last season.

With a high powered offense returning and a new defensive look that should get better results out of the defensive players; look for the 'Noles to regain their championship form and to win the conference come December.

Denver Broncos: Why the First Preseason Game Is So Critical

August 15th, 2010

With tomorrow night's game comes great anticipation.

It's like the whole football nation is holding its breath. Denver takes the field in what should be just a warm up, a second unit and rookie showcase. But the pressure is all on Denver.

Especially when your second unit includes Tim Tebow and none other than Brady Quinn.

Had someone told you three years ago that Tebow and Quinn would be teammates fighting for a position you would have said, "Huh?"

But that's the story in Denver.

Look all over the league, read the recaps of all the preseason games thus far, and you will hear one common thread, "It's only the first game. Players see limited action and it's only used to knock the rust off." Right?

This is not the case for the Broncos. This (in one of the NFL's most anticipated debuts) will set the tone for any and all who watch. It will form opinions and give people cause to believe whether or not the Broncos will succeed or fail. That's a lot of pressure for your first preseason game. Why the elevated critique on Denver?


Since McDaniels' arrival in Denver, there have been plenty of critics. I would venture to say Josh is the most critiqued and scrutinized coach in the NFL. Not only did he take over the team that leads the AFC in wins over the last 28 years, he replaced a Super Bowl-winning coach in Mike Shanahan, and followed that up by trading away (then Pro-Bowler) Jay Cutler.

Quickly thereafter, he traded away fan favorite Payton Hilli; but he also topped it off with trading Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler, and then reached into the draft to select Tim Tebow! All before the ripe old age of 35, I might add. WOW!

Yes, it is safe to say McDaniels has made a few headlines in his brief tenure. There have been many opinions and doubt surrounding this team, but Sunday night will be a coming out party for the Broncos.

How can a team overcome all of that?

OH... WAIT... I forgot, The NFL sack leader (Elvis Dumervil) looks to be out for the season and All-Pro LT Ryan Clady is out as well.

How can a team triumph over all that adversity? How can this team be expected to do anything but fail?

With what coach McDaniels is calling a "team first" mentality, that's how. By each player believing in themselves, their teammates, and the system.

Coach McDaniels has just that. A team full of smart, tough, high character, team first players. McDaniels has sold this philosophy to the owner of the Broncos, Pat Bowlen. He has sold it to the coaching staff that follow him, and he has sold it to the players that play for him.

Now it is time to show the fans, critics, and media. Time to make the donuts.


Auburn Football 2010: August 14 Scrimmage Team Shows Solid Improvement

August 15th, 2010

Saturday, Sept. 14, 2010 was the day for the second Auburn scrimmage of fall practice. Coach Gene Chizik seemed positive about progress over the first scrimmage. (Note: The first scrimmage was very positive.)

Coach Chizik commented, “I thought today was a great step in the right direction.”

Jonathan Mincy, a true freshman, is pushing for playing time as the punt returner. His primary competition at this point seems to be Quindarius Carr. This has been a concern for the team in the past. It seems to be headed in a positive direction this year.

Trovon Reed got some reps as the wildcat quarterback. This was great news after he missed some practice time due to an injury this week. Coach Chizik gave him some praise, “Trovon Reed did some really nice things.”

Antonio Goodwin, Emory Blake, and Reed were mentioned positively by receivers coach Trooper Taylor. Kodi Burns also ran some productive wildcat offensive plays.

Cameron Newton ran the majority of quarterback plays. Barett Trotter was also responsible for a score.

The scrimmage ended even with neither offense nor defense getting the upper hand.

Coach Chizik seemed pleased that mistakes were decreased when compared to the first scrimmage.

Coach Roof and coach Rocker mentioned the positive leadership of Mike Blanc, Nick Fairley, and Antoine Carter. This unit is proving to be a handful for the experienced Auburn offense.

The team ran about 70 plays today in what ended as a 48 to 48 draw in the coaches complex scoring system. Trovon Reed was the most mentioned player from the scrimmage. He reportedly broke a couple of big plays.

Coach Chizik explained why the freshmen and backups are getting so many reps in scrimmage; he said they must figure out their depth at each position. They know what the starters will do, but must learn how the other players will perform.

There was only one penalty reported for the scrimmage today. It was a holding call picked up by coach Grimes. It wasn’t caught by the officials.

Kicker Wes Byrum had an exceptional scrimmage hitting some long field goals. He looks to be picking up right where he left off in 2009.


Great Quotes courtesy of the Auburn Official Athletic Site.

Andrew Gribble

Andy Bitter

The Birmingham News

Isiah Thomas and Florida International Can Benefit From Each Other

August 15th, 2010

Isiah Thomas has completed his first year as the head coach at Florida International.

Last season, the Golden Panthers went 7-25 overall and 4-14 in the Sun Belt Conference and in the past week or two, Thomas was rumored to be interested in also helping out the New York Knicks.

However, it has become clear that FIU is the immediate future for Thomas. His consulting gig with the Knicks is all but dust in the wind now, which in my opinion, is good news for both Thomas and Florida International.

Despite a hardly-successful first season at the collegiate level, Isiah Thomas might just have something in the works if he could ever "fully" commit to FIU.

The Golden Panthers will return each of its top three scorers, including leading scorer, Marvin Roberts, who led the way with just under 16 points per contest.

Alongside Roberts, Antoine Watson, and Phil Gary also return, all three of whom will be entering their senior seasons.

However, Thomas has earned some solid commitments in his first year as head coach. Incoming freshman Dominique Ferguson is the No. 46-ranked prospect in the nation according to Ferguson, who originally committed to Kentucky under former head coach Billy Gillispie, has found a new home with Thomas.

Ferguson, who potentially has the talent to become a star in the Sun Belt immediately, is also joined by three-star point guard Phil Taylor, both of whom should be able to come in and aid the Golden Panthers this season.

Moving onto 2011, Isiah Thomas has once again, earned commitments from recruits who may not have necessarily considered Florida International without Thomas being in charge.

6-foot-10 center Chris Coleman and 6-foot-9 forward Yvan Ngirabakunzi have both verbally committed to playing for Florida International in 2011. Ngirabakunzi is rated as the No. 38 power forward in the class of 2011 by, and also considered Miami (FL). Coleman, on the other hand, is the No. 11-rated center in the country and also received interest from Big East powers, Syracuse, Connecticut, and West Virginia.

With all his NBA connections, Thomas can bring in talent, and success could potentially follow for a program that has made only once NCAA Tournament appearance (1995). With Thomas at the helm, FIU has a chance to improve.

The question remains, however, is Isiah Thomas' stint at FIU only a temporary one and is it inevitable he will once again have a job in the NBA?


This article was also featured on Collegiate Hoops.

*Photo: Isiah Thomas *Credit:

A Determined Run From Behind: Will Saints Chris Ivory Make Black & Gold?

August 15th, 2010


They call you lady luck
But there is room for doubt
At times you have a very un-lady-like way
Of running out

It's August 2010 and lady luck has smiled on a long shot NFL running back. A kid named Ivory who wears black-n-gold.

And yet before the evening is over
You might give me the brush

It's Friday morning in a tiny town named Tiffin, Ohio and the local newspaper, The Advertiser-Tribune, is crowing about their hometown hero:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Former Tiffin University running back Chris Ivory ran for a 2-yard touchdown in his NFL preseason debut, but his New Orleans Saints fell to the New England Patriots, 27-24.

Ivory, who signed as an undrafted free agent with New Orleans right after the NFL Draft in April, scored his TD in the third quarter. The running back finished with six carries for 30 yards, including a 10-yard run in the second half.

Ivory played with TU last season after spending his first three seasons at Washington State. He suffered a season-ending leg injury in the fourth game of the season.


Yeah, New Orleans Saints free agent running back Chris Ivory has to be feeling like a pretty lucky guy these days playing for a franchise that has a knack for discovering those diamonds in the rough and polishing them up into something special- Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas come to mind.

In 2005, the Saints signed Lance Moore, a man his critics once referred to as a "glorified walk-on', after the Cleveland Browns released the undrafted free agent. Moore had 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns for New Orleans in 2008 and is having a stellar training camp this year.

In 2007, Pierre Thomas became one of only two rookie free agents to make the Saints opening day roster. Three years later, he is the starting tailback on the defending Super Bowl champions.

During last year's training camp, Saints head coach Sean Payton faced a daily barrage of questions from the local media about his shaky running back situation. He cooly answered that he he thought his solution may already be in the building and he proceeded to win a Super Bowl with a tailback combination of Thomas, Reggie Bush, Mike Bell and Lynell Hamilton.

After anguishing over the situation, the Saints let Bell depart for Philadelphia in the off-season. On Wednesday morning, New Orleans lost Hamilton,the man they were counting on to replace Bell, to a season-ending knee injury.

And,so, you're Chris Ivory and you are wondering if you will be the 2010 version of Pierre Thomas and Lance Moore?


You're wondering if Cinderella has finally arrived- a little late but better late than never.

While Ivory has impressed in camp,early indications are that Saints GM Mickey Loomis may be looking in a different direction.

And yet before the evening is over
You might give me the brush

Ivory has caught everyone's eye in pre-season with his combination of power and speed as he battles P.J. Hill for a roster spot behind Thomas and Bush. He knows he has know control over who Saints brass choose to bring in. He wouldn't have chosen to get his big chance this way- an injury to Hamilton- but he is making a very determined run from behind.

Chris Ivory's journey to the New Orleans Saints makes Gulliver's Travels look like a trip to the corner grocery. He played his high school football in Longview, Texas but after high school he wanted a change of a scenery and so he signed with Washington State of the Pac 10.

So how did Ivory go from the bright lights of the Pac 10 to the tiny Tiffin University Dragons of the Great Lakes Conference of Division II?

"I got a call from one of the coaches (Dave Walkosky) that used to coach at Washington State and he was there for a year or two and he happened to be the head coach at Tiffin and he (Walkosky) called me and once he called me I went ahead and went there (Tiffin)", Ivory told WWL Radio.


"It's quite a journey because I've been pretty much all across the states." said Ivory. "Being at Washington State for a couple of years and transferring to Tiffin...had a couple of setbacks with some injuries...and for me to make it through those injuries and make it at this level right now, I just think is a blessing to be out here and be given this opportunity."

Ivory admits that picking up the Saints complex offense has not been easy and he admits to making his share of mental mistakes but at least one Saints veteran says the kid has what it takes.

Saints offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb told,"He's got good vision and he's got a little extra gear that he can turn on when he needs it. Early impressions are that he's got some tools that'll catch your eye."

He's been pretty impressive," Payton told reporter Vic Carucci. "I'm anxious to see him in the preseason. He can run and he's physical."

Ivory says his mindset is to open some eyes everytime he touches the football.

He doesn't lack for confidence.

When asked to name his strengths, Ivory says, "I'll say my power and speed. I believe my hips are pretty good as well," Ivory said on WWL.

Maybe if this football thing doesn't work out, Ivory has a future on "Dancing With the Stars."

But for now, lady luck appears to be smiling upon Chris Ivory.

Yet, they say lady luck has a very unlady- like way of running out.


Jayhawk Stocks: Toben Opurum, Kansas Runningbacks See Fates Changing

August 14th, 2010

With a new coach, as I have said many times before, comes brand new opportunities for everyone.

The runningback position has offered a few interesting developments since the arrival of Turner Gill on campus.  Some guys have really capitalized on the new opportunity, while others' circumstances remain similar to how they were before.

In this article I would like to scroll through all of Kansas' runningbacks in order of what type of impact they could have on the field this season, from least to greatest, and simply discuss whether or not the transition to Coach Gill has been a positive change for them.

Here are the Kansas runningbacks.

Begin Slideshow

2010 College Football Predictions: Can South Carolina Finally Break Through?

August 14th, 2010


South Carolina enters year six of the Spurrier Era hoping this is the year they breakthrough and win the East. Optimism is high in Columbia, but that is nothing new in August.

To find out why Gamecock fans are in such good spirits, I contacted South Carolina Blog Leftover Hot Dog for their insight.

Q: Stephen Garcia was the SEC's second leading passer last year. Why has Spurrier been so hard on him this offseason?

A: As we all know, Spurrier demands excellence from his quarterbacks. Garcia is no different. Spurrier expects better performances from his fourth year junior gunslinger under center.

I feel Spurrier knows that Garcia has the potential but it is about Garcia committing himself to improving. What I mean by that is natural ability cannot get it done in the SEC. Garcia needed a good summer reviewing the playbook, working hard, making throws, etc. This is what Spurrier wanted to hear about, Garcia putting in extra effort to get better as a quarterback.

In Spurrier’s offense, it is more important to have a smart quarterback than just a gunslinger. He likes timing routes and the quarterback having the ability to understand how a play will develop based off the defense scheme before the word “hike.”

Garcia is a good quarterback but good will not cut it at USC or in the SEC. Thus Spurrier trying to motivate his quarterback to improve as the team’s success depends on it.

Q: How much of Spurrier's criticism do you think is motivational based?

A: Every word. Spurrier is a little old school in how he handles his team as it is more of a “tough love approach” rather than being a big “soft-ty.” This, at South Carolina, is needed.

But this is where G.A. Magnus comes in as the quarterbacks coach.

He has been the buffer between the Head Ball Coach and the player. Coach Magnus has been able to translate and work with Garcia on the areas he has to grow. Again, Spurrier knows Garcia has the tools to be a really good quarterback, thus his motivation since the bowl loss.

Q: Could highly touted freshman Marcus Lattimore win the starting job at running back?

A: He certainly could be the starter for some games in 2010, but you have to remember the “running back stable” for USC is the deepest it has ever been. More about Marcus getting touches, growing and learning. While doing really good things on the field.

The Gamecocks have Kenny Miles, Jarvis Giles, Bryce Sherman, Brian Maddox, and Marcus Lattimore. Talk about weapons.

Each of the above referenced players could be a starter, but each has certain tools that have to be leveraged in 2010.

Out of the list, Miles and Lattimore should receive the bulk of carries in 2010. Don’t overlook Jarvis Giles as he certainly could factor in. Lots of touches to spread out amongst the guys this season.

Q: The offensive line has really held the Gamecocks offense back. Tell my why this year they could be a strength.

A: I hesitate to say the O-line will be a strength in 2010, but I will say it will improved. I am a big fan of the new O-line coach, Shawn Elliott. He came over from Appalachian State so he knows how to get the most out of his players. He is a fantastic teacher, motivator, and coach. He has already worked hard to get his O-line players in gear to compete in 2010.

He is trying to find the right mix this year as he, along with the fans, know that a lot rides on the line's performance this season. They must reduce sacks allowed, keep the pressure away from the quarterback, and create running lanes. USC has some seniors that could factor in but also some new faces could rotate in and help the unit.

I look forward to the first game to see how this unit is progressing as I expect improvement over the last three seasons. It surely cannot get worse…right?

Q: I read about South Carolina using a no-huddle offense some in the spring. How much do you expect to see this come fall?

A: You will see it in play this season. I shy away from saying "a lot" or, "it is the new approach." I think it is safer to say this is a new wrinkle in the offense’s approach. It will allow some mixing up and keep the opposing defense on their toes.

The new offensive line coach is also the run game coordinator and he brought this new thinking with him. I look forward to it as the USC offense has to put up some points in 2010 to go along with a stellar defense. This new “no-huddle” thinking will certainly help.

Q: Eric Norwood will be very hard to replace, but someone must step up. Who is going to bring the pressure from the outside this season?

A: Opposing quarterbacks need to concern themselves with keeping tabs on DE Cliff Matthews and DE Devin Taylor. Both have the ability to get after it. Taylor has to step up so that opposing O-lines don’t double team Matthews. I expect Matthews to be All-SEC and Devin to have a breakout year after a very good freshman year.

Q: What could be weak link on this defense?

A: I really don’t see a weakness in this defense. Some may say the linebackers with the loss of Eric Norwood to the NFL, but Shaq Wilson and Rodney Paulk will fill in nicely. What must improve for the defense is interceptions. The defense has to use some stickum and hold on to the ball when it hits their hands. If the defense can improve on this from last year—look out SEC.

Q: Who are some of the freshman that are likely to contribute?

A: Marcus Lattimore will factor in as a running back. Receiver Ace Sanders has had a good first week of practice with good hands and speed. He should get some balls thrown his way.

Quarterback Connor Shaw will not steal the limelight from Garcia, but he could get some reps in certain games (i.e. Furman).

We may see an O-line signee in there, like AJ Cann or another as the O-line needs the bodies.

Defensively, the Gamecocks brought in a pair of junior college transfers who could pay immediate dividends, linebacker Toquavius Gilchrist and D-lineman Byron Jerideau. Also, cornerback Vic Hampton may get some reps.

Q: Where do you think beating Clemson ranks in terms team goals? Are the fans goals different from this?

A: Beating Clemson always ranks as a top goal. How high that is on the list depends on who you ask. Some will take a SEC East division crown over beating Clemson, others would shun me for saying that. But some on the Clemson side would say the same—meaning an ACC crown over a USC win.

Make no mistake about it, if the potential to win the SEC East is off the table then beating Clemson is high priority.

Q: Describe a successful season. Describe a disappointing one

A: A successful season is the Gamecocks enter the Florida game with the SEC East on the line. USC sitting at 5-2 in the conference and UF at 6-1. USC wins and finishes at 6-2 and get the SEC East conference crown. I really thing the potential for USC to win the SEC East is strong. If the SEC East crown is off the table then a minimum of eight wins is a must.

A disappointing season is 6-6 with a loss to Clemson to boot.

Q: What is your prediction for this season?

A: The Gamecocks will WIN vs. Southern Mississippi, Furman, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Troy. Clear Loss vs. Alabama (yet close). Likely win at home vs Georgia and at Clemson. Toss-ups but must win at least one—home vs Arkansas; at Auburn. Toss up—at Florida.

So my worst case scenario for USC in 2010 is 7-5 with losses to Bama, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and Auburn.

Best case scenario is 10-2 with losses to Alabama and Arkansas. SEC CHAMPS.

Most likely either 8-4 or 9-3. Losses coming from this batch with one surprise win in their —Bama, Florida, Arkansas and Auburn. I think that win could be Auburn.

Bottom line, this is not your usual Gamecocks as they will make some noise in a vulnerable SEC East in 2010. How much depends on the Georgia and Auburn games to set the tone for what could be a magical year.

My Take on South Carolina

The Gamecocks are an intriguing team this year in the East considering what they have returning and the turnover at Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia.

The defense should be very good again despite the loss of Norwood. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has raised the play to a high level among the best in the SEC.

Offensively, I don’t know what to make of Spurrier’s public criticism of Garcia. Who knows whether he will be pulled in the first game or go onto to have a great season. Its hard to remember the OBC not being upset at a quarterback; Danny Wuerffel was probably the last one to go unscathed.

The skill positions look great as usual, but the success of the offense will come down to how much improvement the line has made. This unit has been the impetus from getting over the hump and winning the East.

The talent is there, the coaching is there, the East is in flux, but the schedule is brutal. From the West, the Gamecocks draw Alabama, Auburn, and Arkansas. They also have to travel to Florida this year.

The first SEC game against Georgia could make or break South Carolina's season. If they can get past the Bulldogs, who will starting a quarerback in his first road game, they have a chance in the East.

If not, then Spurrier's club will have to win the rest of their toss up games against Auburn, Arkansas, and Alabama (yes, the Tide will be vulnerable in this one).


7-5, Third SEC East

Thanks again to Leftover Hot Dog for their insight.

2010 College Football Predictions: Why FSU Will Contend For An ACC Title

August 14th, 2010



Florida State enters a new era in 2010 with legendary head coach Bobby Bowden departing and Jimbo Fisher taking over the reins. FSU fans are hungry for a return to national prominence after several disappointing seasons.

To get a better look at the Seminoles, I contacted Garnet and Great for their take on FSU’s upcoming season.

Q: How smooth has the transition been from Bobby Bowden to Jimbo Fisher?

A: Bumpy at first, now going surprisingly smooth, a far cry from the loud and divided fan factions at the end of last season.

The Bowden loyalists, who believed the legendary coach deserved at least one more year at the helm, seem to have moved on.

FSU’s fan base now appears to be solidly behind Jimbo Fisher, his new coaching staff and revamped system (covering everything from nutrition and weight training to academic monitoring and sports psychologists) that closely mirrors Nick Saban’s process for success.


Q: Was Christian Ponder's injury a blessing in disguise last year?

A: It appears so. Ponder has hinted that he would’ve been in the 2010 draft had he stayed healthy and maintained his impressive offensive stats. The ’09 injury caused him to rethink the draft as he healed.

So Ponder enters his senior year as a 100 percent healthy QB who’s probably stronger and smarter, knowing when not to tuck and run, playing behind one of the best O-lines in the country.

A second benefit of Ponder’s injury was E.J. Manuel evolving from a green backup to a tried and trusted quantity at QB.

After Ponder went down, E.J. won three out of the four games he started, losing only to arch-rival Florida.


Q: The Seminoles have steadily improved their rush game from a low of 94 yards per game in 2004 to 179 in 2008 and 150 in 2009. Is this more a product of better running backs or better offensive line play?

A: Both. O-Line Coach and Vietnam Marine vet Rick Trickett has molded his youngsters (three '08 starters were freshmen) into a lean 'n mean unit.

Meanwhile, recruiting brought in a fleet of running backs, mainly three-star guys who’ve proven to be at least as capable as some four and five-star RBs who suited up for the 'Noles during the decade.

This season, four backs with game experience will fight for the starting job under new RB coach Eddie Gans, a well-traveled motivator who developed NFL top five draft picks Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Add to the mix newcomer Debrale Smiley, a bruising big back who had one impressive season of JC ball.

Q: Will CB Greg Reid be used on offense, and in what capacity?

A: No one knows for sure, except Jimbo Fisher and his offensive coordinator. But Fisher has said, “we’ll have a plan” for using Reid.

And he threatened as much during ACC media days, though that may have been more to psych opposing D-coordinators.

My guess is that we see Reid on an occasional gadget play, and probably as a decoy. Any shrewd D-coordinator would probably be distracted by Reid’s lining up on offense and try to dial up adjustments.

Perhaps a better bet is true freshman CB Lamarcus Joyner doing double duty. Fisher has all but promised that the five-star recruit will see action on the offensive side of the ball.

Q: I read new DC Mark Stoops is bringing in a new zone scheme. What are the major changes we will see after years under Mickey Andrews?

A: A more diverse scheme that mixes man and zone coverage, while keeping the offense off-balance with far less predictability than Coach Andrews' mostly-man look.

Stoops also has a reputation for developing players, especially DBs, the weakest link in the ‘Noles uncharacteristically poor D in 2009.

Q: The 'Noles always recruit well. Who are the top freshmen who could see significant playing time this year?

A: Fortunately, FSU has enough experience on the roster so that only one true freshman should see significant playing time. That would be LB Jeff Luc, a 5-star man-child who enrolled early and earned a second-string spot during spring practice.

Other true freshmen who will probably see the field in 2010 include DE Bjorn Werner, LB Christian Jones, and aforementioned CB Lamarcus Joyner.

Three JC transfers could become big contributors. They're fullback/H-Back Debrale Smiley and DT Amp McCloud, two local guys (from nearby Thomasville, Ga.), who graduated from a Mississippi Community College.

Another junior college addition might be Glen Stanley, a speedy pass rusher who committed to Southern Cal in February, but got a recent release from the Trojans. I say “might” because Stanley still must clear the academic hurdle of being accepted at Florida State.

Q: FSU finished in the AP Top 5 for 14 straight seasons until 2000. What will it take for FSU to get back to the nation's elite?

A: The obvious answer is to win ten games or more: a tall order this year with non-conference games against Oklahoma, Florida, and BYU. Specifically, though, earning that elusive elite status will depend largely on winning in the Sunshine State.

Beating the Gators and Canes on a regular basis will ensure a Top Ten finish, as long as FSU takes care of business in the ACC.

We’ll also add beating South Florida. The 'Noles tripped in a first-ever meeting with the Bulls last year, but have a chance for payback in 2012 when they travel to Tampa.


Q: FSU has lost six in a row to in-state rival Florida. What will it take for the Seminoles to get this series more competitive?

A: Recapturing the cachet of a top program, the cool factor, and one that top high school playmakers want to sign with. I believe FSU is about halfway back to what it was in the dynasty days of the 90s.

Now with complete control of the program, Jimbo Fisher is fully implementing a process that’s state-of-the-art for today’s elite teams.

New coaches have been added who are strong recruiters and bring fresh ideas to energize. All of these are steps back to parity with that team that FSU fans have always wanted to beat most.

Q: Describe a successful season this year. Describe a disappointing one.

A: Ten or eleven wins, which includes W’s over Florida and Miami. A marginally successful season would be 10 or 11 wins and being edged by the Gators. That would at least demonstrate progress.

A disappointing season? Another 7-6 record. FSU faithful have been left with a 7-6 hangover three of the last four seasons. Yet another of those (especially with the heady expectations of new coaches, a potential Heisman QB and experienced OL) would be too much to take.

Q: What is your prediction for the season?

A: I’m chugging the Garnet & Gold Kool-Aid: 10-2, plus a bowl win.

My Take on FSU…

The days are gone when FSU by walking onto the field would have an opponent intimidated and already beaten in the ACC.

After suffering through inconsistency at the position, Christian Ponder finally gives FSU a threat at the QB position, something they have not had since Chris Weinke drove a minivan around Tallahassee.

The offensive line has taken its lumps, but has experience now, so this unit should be a strength.

I am befuddled at how bad their defense was last year. Mickey Andrews always had a top-notch group, so it must have been the players.

The lack of elite talent is clearly seen at the defensive end, where the ‘Noles used to have a pass rushing threat every season.

Until FSU can recruit better on this side of the ball, I expect new DC Mark Stoops to struggle.

The schedule to win the Atlantic sets up nicely, having BC and Clemson at home.

This is a big reason why I have Fisher going to an ACC Championship Game in his first season

9-3, First in Atlantic Division

Thanks again to Garnet and Great for their insight.

eXTReMe Tracker