30 December 2010

An Eye For Anae

Not long ago it the entire offensive coaching staff was advised to seek other employment opportunities. It seems now that one of those assistants has officially taken that advise as the university released a statement that Robert Anae, the cougs offensive coordinator had resigned to seek other possible options in his coaching career. Whether it was a stagnant offense, one that was too predictable, a difference of coaching philosophy or something else is all up to speculation. Regardless what the final straw was fact remains that one could only assume that other options should be readily available as teams across the country will have an eye for Anae.

Anae played on the cougs National Championship 84 team and in 86 began his coaching career as a grad assistant with the University of Hawaii moving up the ranks eventually making his way to BYU. While at BYU the cougs went 49-15 in his first five seasons including three of those years with a top 6 passing attack. Under Anae the jerseys in blue went 4-2 in bowl games. Although in todays world its what have you done for me lately. This year the passing offense was ranked 75th with the cougs record finishing a disappointing 7-6 season.

As for "other employment opportunities" there could be speculation of Anae hooking back up at Maryland with Mike Leach who very well could be headed to coach the Terps. Given Anae's ties to Leach back from the Texas Tech days the Terps possibility could very well be a reality. Even if Anae doesn't reconnect with Leach teams across the country hopefully will have an eye for Anae.

Photo Credit Goes to Mike Terry/Deseret News

24 December 2010

79 Days

Yes, the crowds may have left the stands and the lights already turned off. Most of the students may have also gone home for the holidays. For many there might be one shopping day left but there's only 79 days left for the cougs to make their case for the March Madness brackets (announced March 13th). As the jerseys in blue break to spend time with their family the cougs are currently 4th in the RPI, 6th in the sagarin ratings and have already faced six teams in the RPI top 100 (5-1 against those teams). They are already making a strong case for the best seed possible led of course by Jimmer the jet.

Last season about the only thing that stopped Jimmer was his health. This season it doesn't appear to be a factor leaving the opponents sick on how to stop him while he averages 24.2 points per game and is currently the cougs 5th all time leading scorer. Jackson Emery is also only 8 steals away from being the all time leader. Sophomore Brandon Davies is quickly emerging as another reliable option who has averaged 14 a game throughout his last 7 matchups. Noah Harsock is currently the 8th all time block leader with 84. As a team the jerseys in blue are 10th in the nation averaging 82.7 per matchup against opponents while holding teams to an average of just over 64 per game. Definately a rather nice differential and shaping up for another nice season for the cougs.

21 December 2010

Seasonal Report Card

One couldn't have scripted a better finish for the Cougs with a 52-24 throttling of the UTEP miners in the New Mexico Bowl. The jerseys in blue encountered plenty of obstacles throughout the season but came out victorious. A quick look back includes announcing their independence, suspending a player, releasing an assistant midseason, dealing with a replaygate and finding a new attitude. Tis the season as well to post the grades and thoughts from each of the position categories.

Quarterbacks: B+
Mishandling of a two quarterback system earlier in the season for a number of games was definately a mistake. Once someone behind center was given the green light coug fans saw the progress and development of Saint Jake who threw for over 2300 yards as a true freshman. Heaps wasn't perfect but is gonna be something special.

Offensive Line: B
Weber has done a wonderful job with the BMOC (big men on campus). Although it seemed like there were too many false starts and breakdowns too often early. However, down the stretch the trenchwork was solid dominating opening holes and protecting Heaps which showed from start to finish in the New Mexico Bowl.

Backfield: A-
This season may have not included Harvey Unga on the roster. And yes this season the backfield may have been one by committee. The cougs still were able to rush for an average of 168 yards a game. Di Luigi in 2010 rushed for 917 yards. Consider, one of those backs was a true freshman in Joshua "Juice" Quezada. The trio of JJ, north and south Kariya, and Juice should be dominant in 2011.

Receivers: C+
Not sure what it was in the first half of the season but it seemed like noone was able to consistently catch a ball even when thrown accurately. McKay also seemed to have a rather disappointing down year never seperating himself as a downfield threat. It also appears that the TEs were never fully utilized as consistently viable options. Down the stretch receivers were finally let loose and replied often stretching the field and moving the chains. The cougs found a hidden gem in another true freshman in Cody Hoffman.

Defensive Line: B
Considering the lack of proven depth (losing Fuga didn't help) the DL played this season wonderfully as it showed in the bowlgame making the miner rush offense basically nonexistent. Next years addition of Hebron Fangupo will be welcomed with open arms.

Linebackers: A-
This is perhaps one of the cougs strengths going into next year. Ogletree has a knack for the ball and consistent. Freshman Kyle Van Noy has the potential to be among the best by the time he's done. Add in next year Kaveinga and the return of Pendleton.

Secondary: B
Unfortunately the cougs collectively were beaten too often by the long ball and it showed again in the bowl. Andrew Rich, the clear team leader in the secondary, will certainly be missed who finished a fine career and senior season with 64 unassisted tackles and 111 total tackles.

Special Teams: B
Mitch Payne finishes his career as the all time scoring leader with 336 points overall. Yes, OC may have been suspended but the cougs found Hoffman as more than capable replacement.

20 December 2010

Fully Invested Changes

Much of the local media are reporting that the cougs have begun the annual staff evaluation process to see who will be retained. Those coaches on the offensive staff that would be possibly affected include offensive coordinator Robert Anae; the OL coach Mark Weber, wide receivers coach Patrick Higgins, quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman, running backs coach and longtime assistant Lance Reynolds.

Regardless of what the future holds and who returns is the fact that Bronco is a man of principles, vision, love for others and one that is fully invested. Bronco always does his homework leaving no stone unturned. He carefully calculates every move and will make the correct choices regardless of any possible position changes. Bronco is clearly the right man in the right place. With the rumours swirling across cougar nation many are speculating who might be leaving and who could be coming aboard as possible replacements.

Assuming that Robert Anae; as most would expect is out, that would like mean Brandon Doman is the cougs next offensive coordinator. Doman was also one of Bronco's first hires after becoming head coach. Six years later Brandon seems to be absolutely thriving when considering he has sent Max Hall to the pros and this seasons development of freshman starting quarterback Jake Heaps.

If one domino falls then who would be the next likely quarterback clipboard candidate to replace Doman? One name that keeps popping up amongst the cougar tweets and forum boards is former Heisman trophy winner, ultimate field general and cougar legend Ty Detmer. Detmer is currently the head coach at St. Andrew's Episcopal school in Austin, Texas. The owner of a Heisman trophy and originally from Texas? Absolutely solid potential option. And recruiting? Another concrete positive. Ty is simply a winner. He's beaten the odds and beaten the best. Detmer has seen it at all levels.

Of the staff one could only speculate that if Higgins is gone leaving the position coach wide open Ben Cahoon; a CFL legend and former cougar, is one strong candidate who would fit the bill. He has nine 1000 yard receiving seasons under the belt. In fact, on October 11th against the Calgary Stampeders Cahoon also became the all time reception leader catching his 1007th career pass. If there's an individual who might know something about catching passes Ben certainly would be more than qualified.

As for the rest of the offensive staff? Again this is ONLY speculation but Reynolds and Weber are likely sticking around. Reynolds has been solid with the running backs that the cougs have seen. Names like Luke Staley (one of the cougs most explosive backs ever), Curtis Brown, Brian McKenzie, Jamal Willis, and Harvey Unga (the cougs all time leading rusher) are only a few examples.

The evaluation process has begun and may take some time to complete. It will be interesting to see what actually transpires. Who will be retained. Who will be let go. Regardless what changes occurs this coug will always be fully invested.

18 December 2010

Band Of Brothers

After beginning a season 1-4 the jerseys in blue certainly turned things around and came out winners over UTEP 52-24. A trio of freshman led the way on the field for the cougs in Albuquerque. Quarterback Jake Heaps was polished like a champion today despite playing with a fractured rib. The BMOC (big men on campus also known as the OL) did not allow a single sack and gave Sir Jake time to systematically carve up the miner defense. Heaps connected on 25 of 34 for 264 yards with 4 TDs. Three of those went Cody Hoffman's way who finished with 8 receptions for 137 yards as well as 5 returns for 125 yards with a 25 yard average. Joshua "Juice" Quezada got involved with 15 carries moving the chains for 101 yards and a touchdown. The cougs offensive machine rolled UTEP for 514 yards on 86 plays. About the only play the jerseys in blue may have missed on the day was the ceremonial waterjug dousing of Bronco Mendenhall.

It wasn't just the offense that dominated. The defense held their ground limiting the miners to -12 yards for the game. Yes, you read that correctly negative 12 yards while forcing three turnovers and 6 punts. Senior Andrew Rich, a former walkon grabbed two of those picks himself who closes out a tremendous career.

Couple areas of concern upon observation even in a blowout. The jerseys in blue were burned all too often by the deep ball particularly by Kris Adams ending in miner scores of 67, 37 and 49 yards. The special teams also were at times anything but special when the cougs allow Marlon McClure an average of 41 yards on his 3 returns. When games are often won over field position that can't be good. Those things will certainly be addressed. Overall, the cougs collectively only lose a small portion on the two deep to graduation. The jerseys in blue have some amazing talent, confidence, experience, and some momentum to vault its program boldly to independence as a band of brothers.

Photo credit goes to Ravell Call/Deseret News

17 December 2010

Who Is Hebron

It looks as if the cougs will get a pre Christmas gift. Word is that USC defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo will be transferring and even walking on with the cougs. Better yet will be available for the jerseys in blue next season. Most of us would love to know who is Hebron.

After high school (Century HS Santa Ana California) he served a mission to the Phillipines eventually taking his talents to Mt San Antonio Junior College. He had 47 tackles, 15 for a loss, 6 sacks, 1 deflection, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles which helped earn him recognition as a Super Prep JUCO 100. There he received offers from Tennessee, Utah, Arizona, Arizona St, Oregon and USC where he eventually signed. While at USC Hebron saw action in 3 games before breaking his left ankle against Washington State and was able to redshirt.

To say that he is a huge get is an understatement literally. At 6-2 and 320 pounds Hebron could be a mammoth run stopper and force to be reckoned. He has a wide body with an amazing first step and should be a incredibly valuable commodity. Absolutely look forward to seeing him as one of the band of brothers.

Independent Schedule

Tomorrow the jerseys in blue will play their final game representing the MWC conference beginning their transition to independence. Say goodbye to the MTN and hello ESPN. With it brings new challenges, schedules and opportunities. This season we saw how important a schedule can be as team north rode theirs at one point to a top ten ranking. What will the cougs encounter in their initial schedule of independence? That remains to be seen but it will certainly be met one game at a time. Here's a brief look ahead.

9/3 at Ole Miss (4-8)
Led by Houston Nutt the rebels will be looking to bounce back. Solid chance the cougs will likely hear the name Brandon Bolden often who rushed for 14 TDs and 976 yards. Despite a subpar season Ole Miss featured the 19th best rush offense. Will the jerseys in blue be able to stuff the run? They historically haven't fared well against SEC opponents (1-3) but this is a solid opportunity. Former legend Archie Manning's #18 jersey number is also the speed limit on the University of Mississippi campus. However, Sir Jake likely won't be cruising at 18mph as he'll likely be chomping at the bits since the rebels are ranked 95th against the pass. Excellent opportunity to start our independence off on the right foot.

9/10 at Texas (5-7)
In 2008 ESPN ranked the longhorns as the 7th most prestigious college football program since 1936. Yet 2010 was definately an absolute shocker sinking of a Titanic season for longhorn fans and its program. Texas was ranked 8th nationally against the pass loses its two starting corners Curtis Brown and Chykie Brown. The cougs must find a way to move the chains using the trio of DiLuigi, Juice and Kariya (not necessarily in that order) while trying to find a way to stop the longhorns 250 pound battering ram of Cody Johnson. The jerseys in blue likely won't be beaten through the air as QB Garrett Gilbert threw 10 TDs and 17 INTs. Definately not eye opener stats at all. One road trip well worth making with a good chance of knocking off a traditional powerhouse.

9/17 Utah (10-2)
Its the holy war thats too often been not so holy. Traditionally close and no love lost here. Team up north now in the PAC10 could be looking to bounce back from previous week matchup against USC. Yet, this one is in LES and cougs will be lookin for some payback (yes the knee was down). The jerseys in blue could potentially have some major momentum assuming they've already taken care of business. Wynn has been sketchy as best. Team up north also has no proven RBs in the stable with serious division one gametime experience. This time the cougs will have plenty of talent returning and experience under its belt to be enough in the difference department.

9/23 UCF (10-3)
The program that originally rolled out its football program in 1979 at division III level has come a long ways. This could be a formidable opponent for the cougs having recently won the Liberty Bowl over Georgia. On the season the knights from UCF were led by freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey who threw for over 2000 yards 13 TDs with a 68.4 completion ratio. Godfrey showed he was not afraid to take off on the run rushing for 542 yards. UCF had the 9th best rushing team averaging 192 yards a contest. Its backfield is led by senior Ronnie Weaver who had 11 TDs and 890 yards. Somehow the cougs must have another TOP (time of possession) game like it had against San Diego State.

9/30 Utah State (4-8)
Gone is one of the top signal callers in Aggie history Diondre Borel. Back is dangerous RB Robert Turbin and LB Bobby Wagner who had 133 tackles. Yes 133. Aggie coach Gary Anderson is a difference maker but simply lacks enough weapons to replicate lasts season victory over the cougs. It won't happen again. Especially at home.

10/8 San Jose State (1-12)
The spartans did face a brutal schedule and encountered countless injuries. They finished with 115th overall in defense and had the 117th worst rushing offense. That won't win many games. This home game for the cougs should by all means be padding some stats and extend the depth chart. If the cougs aren't up by a sizable margin by halftime something is seriously wrong.

10/15 at Oregon St (5-7)
Once James Rodgers went down the team never really recovered as they lost 5 of their last 7 games. He clearly qualifies for a medical redshirt but will he be back? Or will his brother Jacquizz? The elusive Jacquizz rushed for 1194 yards despite teams often focusing on tryin to contain him. Both could be gone and out of the mix. What remains is that this matchup could prove to be one of the cougs tougher events despite what players suit up. Regardless, OSU coach Mike Riley will have his students athletes amped up and ready to play.

10/22 Idaho State (1-10)
Unfortunately the bengals haven't been football relevant in years. Nothing really here to see. Last season their only win came over Montana Western. Sorry its nothing personal but this ones really over before it kicks off. Look for even the waterboys to get some playing time by halftime.

11/5 at Louisiana Tech (5-7)
Sonny Dyke's bulldogs can move the chains having former TN Vol transfer Lennen Creer who ground out 1181 yards and 10 TDs. Tim Molton should be back at full health after a torn ACL and has the potential to be among the WACs best wide receivers. Louisiana Tech will put up a fight but the cougs have too many weapons and experience.

11/12 Idaho (6-7)
Lots of work remains in front of Robb Akey's coaching staff for the vandals to improve. Idaho struggled in the trenches and the run game suffered ranking 116th in the nation. They can definately throw the ball but likely since the vandals often are playing from behind. Could be in for a long day if your a vandal fan. If its any consolation the snack bar is always open.

11/19 New Mexico St (2-10)
Former cougar assistant and current NM State coach DeWayne Walker just simply doesn't have enough weapons and tools to work with. The aggies last bowl appearance was in 1960. Unfortunately for Walker it won't be anytime soon either. Even the cougs practice squad could get some solid potential reps here.

12/3 at Hawaii (103)
A few years removed from the June Jones era the rainbows are still pass happy as ever which ran the nations top passing offense averaging 378 yards. Although, quarterback Bryant Moniz loses his top two targets. The jerseys in blue could find themselves in a shootout.

Photo Credit/Mark J Rebilas

Future Thumbs Up

Every season brings their own challenges and opportunities. This season we saw a two QB system, some controversial calls/replays, an extended suspension, a shift in the coaching staff, a bowl appearance and even went independent leaving the MWC behind. What lies down the road remains to be seen. Although, it clearly appears the cougs future is bright and in good hands with some experience under the belt.

The jerseys in blue found their signal caller in Jake Heaps. Although, did it really take until the fourth game of the season to figure that out? What is clear by all means the Jake Heaps era is officially underway and the future. Heaps puts people in the stands and has all the tools necessary to bring the cougs back to pass. Fighting for time next season will be Riley Nelson who should be back from his season ending shoulder injury. Adding to the depth chart is James Lark and Jason Munns.

One of the cougs team strengths once again should be in the offensive line regardless who lines up under center. The undisputed senior leader is Matt Reynolds who may or may not be back pending on his NFL decision. What is sure that the big men on campus that return will include Terence Brown, Braden Hansen, and Terence Brown. There is solid depth that has Houston Reynolds (pendin on what his brother decides), Blair Tushaus, Marco Thorson and Ryan Freeman in the mix.

There should be plenty of options for Heaps to work with in speadin the pigskin around. If given more freedom to audibles Sir Jake should be able to pick apart opponents and often using weapons like Cody Hoffman, Spencer Hafoka, McKay Jacobsen and Ross Apo. Fans will get their first glimpse of independence against Ole Miss keep in mind this season the rebels were ranked 95th against the pass.

It seemed that life after Harvey the cougs still were able to find ways to get chunks of yards even if by committee. The board room was well represented by JJ DiLuigi, Brian Kariya, and Joshua "Juice" Quezada all of which were more than ample and able providing an exiciting mix of thunder and lightning. Can't forget next season other names in the mix will also include AJ Moore, Adam Hine and Drew Phillips who can be some solid playmakers.

Some of the greatest passes in coug history were made by Clay Brown, Gordon Hudson, Chad Lewis, Jonny Harline, and Dennis Pitta. That is one area that has clearly helped the cougs over the years. Yes, the tight ends. However, last season coug fans never saw one truly emerge consistently from the pack. Next season those contestants will feature Mike Muehlmann, Devin Mahina, Richard Wilson, Austin Holt and Kaneakua Friel fighting for some PT. Somebody clearly needs to step up and soon.

Depth on the defensive line could be an issue. It remains to be seen if Romney Fuga will ever be fully recovered. Eathyn Manumaleuna, Matt Putnam and Thomas Bryson all return including Ian Dulan so experience shouldn't be a factor. Word is cougs could possibly have USC transfer Hebron Fangupo which could prove beneficial.

Linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga should have plenty of talent to work with and develop. Brandon Ogletree has the most experience and has been consistently solid. One would have to assume that Jordan Pendleton should be able to return to full form. Add in freshman stud Kyle Van Noy who has a motor that doesn't stop and Uona Kaveinga. Absolutely love the wealth of talent the cougs have here.

Yes, the cougs will certainly miss Brian Logan, Brandon Bradley and Iron Man Andrew Rich. The secondary still has a wealth of talent, experience and some wheels in Corby Eason, DeQuan Everett, Kori Gaines and Jray Galea'i, Jordan Johnson, Robbie Buckner and Lee Aguirre.

Next season the cougs cupboard should have plenty sitting on the shelves. The cougs will have a wealth of talent, returning experience, favorable schedule and a fresh attitude. Timing for independence couldn't be better. Like Jake gotta give the cougs a thumbs up.

06 December 2010

Holiday Football Frenzy

Are you ready for some serious football action? This year has 35 bowl games covering 24 days. This year will be the first time that the two top contenders playing for the BCS trophy began the season ranked outside of the top 10. Oregon was ranked 11th and Auburn 23rd per usatoday's coaches poll. At first glance, how does a 8-4 Connecticut with the 100th ranked pass offense find its way into a BCS bowl (Fiesta) is baffling? They lost to Temple 30-16 (not exactly a football powerhouse) and barely squeaked out a nailbiter win against an average 6-6 Pittsburgh? How about Virginia Tech? They make it also to a BCS bid yet lost to a lower division team. Was there something we missed there? Regardless of the continuing debate over the BCS, their bowl selections and a possible playoff system here's a rundown for your holiday football frenzy.

18 Dec
New Mexico Bowl (Noon/ESPN)
BYU 6-6 vs UTEP 6-6
This might as well be the bowl tale of two seasons for both teams. Just flip flop on each half portion of their respective seasons. The cougs rode out of the gates losing 4 out of 5. Someone turned on a light and finished strong winning 5 of their next 7. On the other hand UTEP has lost the last 5 out of their 6 games. The miners finished with a similar record as the cougs but rode a strength of schedule of 127th in the nation. Look for the jerseys in blue to mine some points on the board.

Humanitarian Bowl (3:30PM/ESPN)
Northern Illinois 10-3 vs Fresno St 8-4
Is this the interim bowl? This will be the fourth team in 6 years to participate with some sort of interim or lame duck coach. Northern Illinois finds itself in a bowl matchup without a coach. On the same day the Huskies were announced Jerry Kill bailed to accept the position available coaching Minnesota. The huskies feature the nations 7th ranked rushing offense with Chad Spann who has nearly 1300 rushing yards with 20 TDs. Although, will the lack of coaching leadership affect the Huskies chances? Should be interesting to see what happens.

New Orleans Bowl (7PM/ESPN)
Troy 7-5 vs Ohio 8-4
There could be plenty of points on the scoreboard when this one's over. Ohio might be 0-4 all time in bowl games but do have the 13th best rush defense. Troy is making their 6th bowl appearance with the 12th best passing offense led by a redshirt freshman Corey Robinson.

21 Dec
Beef O Brady's Bowl (6pm/ESPN)
Louisville 6-6 vs Southern Miss 8-4
First year Louisville coach Charlie Strong brings the 12 best defense in the nation into the contest against the Golden Eagles 13th bowl appearance in 14 seasons. The cards have a veteran OL (all 5 were returning starters) led by a one man legit wrecking crew in Bilal Powell (over 1300 yds and 10 TDs). Former coug assistant coach Todd Bradford is on the Golden Eagle's defensive staff.

22 Dec
MAACO Vegas Bowl (6PM/ESPN)
Utah 10-2 vs Boise State 10-1
Team up north rode a cupcake schedule for much of the season and now attempt to keep the bowl string victories alive without Wynn. The broncos are 60-5 under coach Petersen and are likely chomping at the bit in this matchup. Shaky Smithson for the yewts leads the nation in punt returns (19.7 yards) and Boise has been somewhat porous regarding kickoff containment. Boise does have the nations fourth best defense to try and shut down team up north.

23 Dec
Pointsettia Bowl (6pm/ESPN)
San Diego St 8-4 vs Navy 8-3
In his first year Brady Hoke has turned the corner with his Aztecs guiding them from a 4-8 season to a 8-4 record. The Aztecs won't have to travel for this one and ironically the city of San Diego has a considerable naval presence. Hoke's offense can explode for both chunks of yards and points on the board. They average 35 points a game with 448 yards through the air. Navy is headed to their 8th straight bowl game with the 5th best rushing offense led by Alexander Teich and dual threat senior QB Ricky Dobbs. Teich has 825 rushing yards on the season for the midshipmen carrying a 6 yard average. Definately will be interesting to see who will remain focused for four quarters while making the most of their opportunities.

24 Dec
Hawaii Bowl (6PM/ESPN)
Hawaii 10-3 vs. Tulsa 9-3
No question there could be plenty of holiday lights and cheer on the scoreboard in this exciting matchup of offenses. Tulsa definately has bounced back from a subpar 5-7 season last year with the nations 5th best offense. The golden hurricanes unfortunately do have a glaring weakness in its pass defense. Three years removed from its Sugar Bowl campaign the warriors are still pass happy as ever ranked as the nations best. Hawaii will definately have the home field advantage and is led by former walk on QB Bryant Muniz with over 4600 passing yards and 36 TDs on the season.

26 Dec
Little Caesers Bowl (6:30PM/ESPN)
Toledo 8-4 vs Florida International 6-6
The rockets from Toledo are in their fifth bowl appearance since the 2001 Motor City Bowl. On the other hand the golden panthers will be making their first appearance in its sixth season at the FBS level. Both teams had subpar strength of schedules (Toledo was 101 SOS while FIU had the 132nd SOS per USAtoday) and neither truly had any landmark victories. Might be worth at least a pizza watching.

27 Dec
Independence Bowl (3PM/ESPN2)
Air Force 8-4 vs Georgia Tech 6-6
Don't expect to see chunks of yards through the air much in this contest. While both teams excel in the ground game neither have been able to stop it. The yellow jackets have the nations best ground game but are 72nd against it. The cadets have the nations 2nd best rushing offense but also are ranked 91st against it. Air Force nearly knocked off both Oklahoma and team up north earlier this season. The turnovers could be provide the edge.

28 Dec
Champs Sports Bowl (4:30PM/ESPN)
NC State 8-4 vs West Virginia 9-3
Led by junior QB Russell Wilson the NC State Wolfpack has one of the nations prolific passing offense. The wolfpack have certainly turned things around in the program (last year was 5-7). The mountaineers have an explosive senior RB in Noel Devine as well possess the 3rd best defense overall.

Insight Bowl (8PM/ ESPN)
Missouri 10-2 vs Iowa 7-5
This will be the first meeting between the two in 100 years (last played in 1910). The hawkeyes might be minus some players for this contest. However, Iowa will still be led by efficient QB Ricky Stanzi a third year starter with a 64.8 completion ratio and 25 TDs. Mizzo has already beaten two bowl (Illinois and San Diego St) teams this season in pursuit of its 11th win of the season led by junior Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert has clearly identified who his TE is throwing often to Michael Egnew for 83 receptions and nearly 700 yards.

29 Dec
Texas Bowl (4PM/ESPN)
Illinois 6-6 vs Baylor 7-5
This might look like some mediocre teams in this matchup at first glance. Consider last season Illinois finished 3-9 while Baylor also made strides since they were 4-8. At the tail end of the season both teams were on a downward slide and look to bounce back. The fightin Illini has lost its last 4 of 5 while Baylor lost its last 3 of 4 games. Baylor finally busts the 15 year bowl drought with a victory.

Alamo Bowl (7:15pm/ESPN)
Arizona 7-5 vs Oklahoma St 10-2
Arizona head coach Mike Stoops "Now we just have to regroup" statement could most certainly be stressed after losing its last 4 games. The wildcats do average 30 points a contest but could likely have its hands full as Oklahoma State has the 2nd best passing offense and finished 14th in the BCS standings. Cowboy junior QB Brandon Weeden has thrown for 32 TDs and over 4000 yards on the season.

Military Bowl (12:30PM/ESPN)
Maryland 8-4 vs East Carolina 6-6
Both teams average more than 30 points a game but only one team will come out in victory formation. The terps bring a more stingy defense and is stronger in the trenches. The pirates defense is swiss cheese (holes everywhere) which ranks 118th giving up over 43 a game. East Carolina could have a slight edge in the signal callers. Dominque Davis with the right reads could put up some solid stats who has thrown for 36 TDs and nearly 3700 yards.

30 Dec
Pinstripe Bowl (1:20PM/ESPN)
Syracuse 7-5 vs Kansas St 7-5
Kansas State makes its first bowl appearance since the 2006 Texas Bowl. They average over 33 on the scoreboard as well as over 200 yards on the ground per contest. Syracuse does bring the 5th best overall defense despite losing its last 3 of 4 games. Can the orangemen shut down wildcat senior RB Daniel Thomas? Last season he led the Big 12 in rushing averaging over 5 per carry. This season? Similar results rushing for nearly 1500 yards and 5.4 per attempt.

Music City Bowl (4:40PM/ESPN)
North Carolina 7-5 vs Tennessee 6-6
Before the season the vols backed out of a season series with the Tar Heels but now can't escape this matchup. Tar Heel coach Butch Davis went 4-0 in post season appearance in Miami but will be looking for his first here led by fifth year senior QB TJ Yates. The vols are clearly on a roll winning their last 4 and playing basically a home game only 3 hours from Nashville.

Armed Forces Bowl (10AM/ESPN)
SMU 7-6 vs Army 6-5
This may be the run versus the pass. Army 10th ranked rushing offense is led by sophomore FB Jared Hasselin who sat out last year after transferring from rival Air Force. Hasselin ground out 931 yards with a 5.4 per carry average. Second year coach June Junes continues to rebuild a dismantled program including its image led by sophomore QB Kyle Padron who can clearly stretch a field. Padron has thrown for 29 TDs covering over 3500 yards.

Holiday Bowl (8PM/ESPN)
Washington 6-6 vs Nebraska 10-3
What exactly is the point of this matchup? Absolutely puzzling. Then again no other Pac10 team was eligible. Not exactly thrilling for Nebraska. Both teams already met and played this one out earlier this season with Cornhuskers thumping the Huskies on their home field 56-21. Look for another similar result.

31 Dec
Meineke Bowl (10AM/ESPN)
Clemson 6-6 vs South Florida 7-5
In a game named after a muffler company neither team really makes much noise here. First year coach Skip Holtz will lead the USF Bulls to its 6th consecutive bowl appearance. Clemson went toe to toe with Auburn earlier this season falling by a FG difference. Both teams will be looking for some spark plugs but it could be a defensive struggle in this matchup.

Liberty Bowl (1:30PM/ESPN)
UCF 10-3 vs Georgia 6-6
The Knights from UCF will be making its fourth bowl appearance with one of the better ground games averaging nearly 192 yards a game. They are also stingy against it with the 9th best rushing defense. Even in a down year Georgia is making its 14th straight bowl appearance and have won its last 4. Look for the trend to continue.

Sun Bowl (Noon/CBS)
Miami FL 7-5 vs Notre Dame 7-5
Two old time football powers square off in this meeting. The hurricanes recently experienced a coaching change. They will be featuring the nations 2nd best passing defense against the Irish freshman QB Tommy Rees who is 3-0 as a starter including a 63% accuracy. Defensive stud LB Manti Te'o suffered a broken nose in the army game but still played in the USC game. Can the "U" contain Rees and his main option WR Michael Floyd? With a little irish luck Rees could come out victorious.

Chick Fil-A Bowl (5:30PM/ESPN)
Florida St 9-4 vs South Carolina 9-4
The seminoles have a three year starter behind center in Christian Ponder. Or do they? Ponder might be sitting this one out (elbow) leaving coach Jimbo Fisher with a possible gametime decision in starting the EJ Manuel era early. South Carolina's offense revolves around freshman RB Marcus Lattimore who has ground out nearly 1200 yards and 17 TDs who will look to bounce back after the thumping by Auburn.

1 Jan
Capital One Bowl (11AM/ESPN)
Michigan St 11-1 vs Alabama 9-3
Definately a rather intriguing matchup. Is this a teacher versus student? Or will is be the other way around? Bama coach Nick Saban was the spartans coach from 1995 through 1999. Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio was Sabans DB coach during that stretch. This on paper looks like a fantastic game.

Outback Bowl (11AM/ABC)
Penn St 7-5 vs Florida 7-5
This one matches up two coaching masterminds where neither of each teams season ever truly lived up to their expectations. On the gator sidelines for one last time will be Urban Myer who seems to have struggled in an up and down season. The gators will be relying on their 9th ranked defense against the nittany lions. Penn State owns the nations best overall winning percentage. Paterno has 24 of those wins more than any other coach.

Ticket City Bowl (10AM/ESPNU)
Northwestern 7-5 vs Texas Tech 7-5
The wildcats will start a redshirt fershman QB Evan Watkins against Texas Tech filling in for Dan Persa who is out (ruptured Achilles tendon) for the season. Watkins could have a big game considering the red raiders rank 116th against the pass. Problem is Texas Tech likes to throw as well. Senior QB Taylor Potts has thrown for 31 TDs and 3357 yards. This one has all the makings of a shootout.

Gator Bowl (11:30AM/ESPN2)
Michigan 7-5 vs Mississippi St 8-4
Mississippi State's top receiver Chad Bumphis broke his collarbone and will miss this one. They do favor the run and are ranked 16th nationally averaging 215 yards per game. On defense the teams leading tackler and defensive leader LB Chris White clearly need to bring his best. The bulldogs will certainly have their hands full countering Michigan's QB Denard Robinson attack.

Rose Bowl (3PM/ESPN)
Wisconsin 11-1 vs TCU 12-0
The badgers have three backs with over 850 yards each all averaging over 5 per carry. They even have 3 games scoring 70 or more on an opponent this season. Yes 70. Although this opponent TCU features the nations top ranked defense holding teams to 11.3 points per game. Something has got to give one way or another. Which will break first? The frogs want validation. Tune is for this one.

Fiesta Bowl (6:30PM/ESPN)
Oklahoma 11-2 vs Connecticut 8-4
On paper this looks like a David and Goliath mismatch. There is simply too many playmakers for the sooners on both sides of the pigskin. Look for Oklahoma's depth chart to get extended with the youth of the program to get plenty of PT. No need to really break this one down. Its all OU who wins and easily.

3 Jan
Orange Bowl (6:30PM/ESPN)
Virginia Tech 11-2 vs Stanford 11-1
In his third year coach Jim Harbaugh has produced a team clearly on the rise finishing the season #5 in the final AP poll. Stanford's ability to bring pressure on VT senior QB Tyrod Taylor could be a factor. The cardinals have an absolutely rock solid QB in their own Andrew Luck who has all the skills necessary in a potential future NFL quarterback. With a veteran offensive line Stanford may simply have all the luck they need.

4 Jan
Sugar Bowl (6:30PM/ESPN)
Arkansas 10-2 vs Ohio State 11-1
The hogs just inked a seven year extension with Petrino now its time to stand up. Clearly Arkansas strength runs with its quarterback. The buckeyes counter with the nations 2nd best defense overall. Mallett definately has the talent to win this one. Pryor on the other hand needs to avoid losing this one for his buckeyes. Which team prevails will be rather fascinating to watch.

6 Jan
GoDaddy.Com Bowl (6PM/ESPN)
Miami OH 9-4 vs Middle TN State 6-6
It's been said not to judge a book by its cover. Just because much of the nation might pass a matchup that might appear as a snoozer doesn't mean this is one that should be dismissed. In his first year Miami OH coach Mike Haywood has turned around a program that was 1-11 last season. Haywood's redhawks has a veteran OL and should take another step forward.

7 Jan
Cotton Bowl (6PM/ESPN)
Texas A/M 9-3 vs LSU 10-2
The tigers have a rather stingy defense keeping points off the board ranked 9th nationally. The aggies come into this matchup riding a 6 game winning streak. This should be a close game but on paper LSU simply has more weapons, athleticism and playmakers.

8 Jan
BBVA Compass Bowl (6PM/ESPN)
Pittsburgh 7-5 vs Kentucky 6-6
Is this a game that will be decided from uncertainties? The panthers currently are in a coaching leadership transition. Kentucky likely needs this game more in the short term. Junior wide receiver Randall Cobb may be looked to and often for the wildcats to come out on top.

9 Jan
Fight Hunger Bowl (7PM/ESPN)
Nevada 12-1 vs Boston College 7-5
This is a strength versus strength matchup. Nevada's strength of the offense is clearly running the ball averaging over 300 yards a game. Yes, 305 yards to be precise. On the other hand the eagles have the nation's stingiest rush defense limiting teams to 80 yards a game. Something has got to give. Definately worth fighting your hunger by ordering a pizza and tuning in.

10 Jan
BCS National Championship (6:30PM/ESPN)
Auburn 13-0 vs Oregon 12-0
This season the ducks have a chance for its first ever national championship. They have all the tools necessary including the 2nd best offense. On paper the biggest weakness of Auburn was the pass defense ranking 101st in the country. Despite the glaring stat Auburn has continually found a way to win. Both squads average over 40 on the scoreboard and rush for over 280 yards. No question each have explosive offenses. Tis the season for some lights on the scoreboard. Some Cameron and clearly lots of action.

04 December 2010

A History Renewed

What was rumored to be the cougs opponent now is finally official. On December 18th with ESPN coverage the jerseys in blue will square off against the UTEP Miners in the fifth annual New Mexico Bowl. The miners who will represent Conference USA come into the matchup owning a similar 6-6 record but have lost five of its last games with a overall strength of schedule rated 127th national ranking. It is the first post season activity for UTEP since the 2005 GMAC bowl. The cougs are 28-7-1 all time and have won 25 of the previous 27 meetings with UTEP in a history renewed.

Among the previous meetings was a matchup back in 1980 which showcased the cougs offense in a major way dropping 83 on the miners. Yes 83 (final was 83-7). However, in 1985 the defending national champions came into the game ranked #7 but were monumentally upset by the miners who finished that season 1-10. The last pairing off of these two teams was in 1998 with the jerseys in blue victorious in El Paso 31-14. Good chance UTEP might have its fair share of fans present as its only a four hour drive from El Paso.

The strength of UTEP's offense is centered around three individuals. Senior quarterback Trevor Vittatoe averaged 257.7 passing yards last season and has thrown this year for over 2511 yards with 19 TDs and 10 INTs. He's a four year starter with a decent QB rating of 121.59. Trevor might not be a dual threat but definately doesn't mind taking off on a scramble making UTEP as one of the better teams in the nation at third down conversions. Vittatoe's favorite reliable target is Kris Adams from Fort Worth who's nicknames include "Ace" and "The Future". The senior business major has stretched the field this season for 917 yards and 11 TDs. In the backfield is Joe Banyard who has rushed for 612 yards and 8 TDs.

03 December 2010

Preferential Treatment

It often seems in life far too often there is preferential treatment or seperate set of existing "rules" (wink wink) given for athletes, celebrities and simply individuals of notoriety. Currently in the news is the debate on this very subject involving possible Heisman candidate Cam Newton. Yet, a closer look reveals this is nothing new to the college scene. We've seen example after example in the news over the years. Could this preferential treatment actually doing those athletes a disservice? Consider the percentage of student athletes who actually make it to the pros regardless of sports as well as the average length of a professional career. Are those players actually given the skills and knowledge from their collegiate studies to prepare them for life after sports or are they given the preferential treatment far too often?

From the mid 70s through 1986 SMU maintained a "slush fund" used for under the table payments thus ultimately receiving the school's death penalty. Former 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campball was rather involved with his loved Miami FL Hurricanes apparently offering coin frequently for each TD, INT, sack, etc. In the early 90's Pat Dye resigned over offering improper benefits involving prized DB recruit Eric Ramsey. Nine Florida State University (aka Free Shoes University) players in 1993 violated NCAA rules by allowing agents to bankroll a shopping spree at a local Footlocker store. From 1994 to 1998 Clem Haskins had a manager for Minnesota's academic counseling office take care of over 400 pieces of coursework for players. In 2001 Kentucky coach Hal Mumme resigned amid apparent numerous NCAA violations including payments to recruits. Back in 2006 we saw Oklahoma QB Rhett Bomer dismissed for improper benefits. Recently we saw Reggie Bush give up the Heisman. Now in the news is the swirl of allegations involving Cam Newton.

When does this end? Or is this only the tip of the iceberg? Are we only seeing the ones that get caught? How frequent is this truly occurring in college sports? With as much coin that is involved in pro sports and kids chasing their dreams this likely will continue with college athletes receiving preferential treatment. Would love to hear your thoughts.

02 December 2010

Going Bowling

For the sixth consecutive season the cougs are going bowling. It's a familiar sight for the jerseys in blue and no its not vegas. On the 18th our favorite team in blue will square off in Albuquerque in the New Mexico Bowl. University Stadium seats 38,634 with natural grass and has in the past hosted concerts with Metallica and even the Rolling Stones. Come support the cougs and enjoy some warmer weather. Gates typically open an hour and a half prior to the scheduled played time. The tailgate lots open about 6 hours before scheduled gametime. Signs are allowed provided they are of reasonable size, contain no advertising nor offensive language/material and cannot obstruct view of other patrons. Fans who aren't able to travel will be actually able to watch the bowl matchup on ESPN noon (MT) which will kickoff this years bowl season. The cougs have 28 bowl appearances including 5 straight in vegas winning three of their last four. Station KVIA out of El Paso Texas is reporting that UTEP is the likely opponent. If true the miners have lost last 5 of 6. Consider they also had the 127th toughest schedule. Could be a sweet springboard to next season. Time will tell who the opponent is but bottom line the cougs after all they've been through this season the jerseys in blue are still going bowling.

01 December 2010

4thand18 Conference Picks

Recently the MWC announced their all conference selections. Here's this years 4thand18's choices.

QB Andy Dalton/TCU, Pass efficency fifth in nations top offense
RB Asher Clark/Air Force, With a entirely rebuilt OL anotha 1001 yards
RB Ed Wesley/TCU, Eclipsed 1065 yards on the season
WR Vincent Brown/San Diego State, Stretched the field for 1187 yards
WR DeMarco Sampson/San Diego State, Had 6 TDs and 1175 yards
TE Lucas Reed/New Mexico, No soph slump with 14 yd/catch average
OL Matt Reynolds/BYU, Solid pass blocker NFL potential
OL Jake Kirkpartick/TCU, All American center candidate
OL Marcus Cannon/TCU, Versatile switched from RT to LT
OL Zane Taylor/Utah, Mr Reliable started last 26 games at center
OL Caleb Schlauderaff/Utah, Conference premier OG and road paving crew
Offensive Freshman/Ronnie Hillman.TCU, Over 1304 yards and 6 TDs

DL Wayne Daniels/TCU, Tough spot replacing a legend in Jerry Hughes
DL Rick Ricketts/Air Force, Solid consistent two year starter
DL Vic So'oto/BYU, Mr Versatile literally beginning career at TE
DL Jonathan Rainey/New Mexico, Clearly the anchor of the lobo DL
LB Brock Tanner/TCU, Sophomore avg'd 9 tackles per game
LB Carmen Messina/New Mexico, 90 tackles on the season
LB Ricky Brewer/Colorado State, Finished with 71 tackles and 9 per game
LB Miles Burris/San Diego State, Team leading stops last two seasons
DB Andrew Rich/BYU, Will be truly missed and hard to replace
DB Reggie Rembert/Air Force, Led the cadets in interceptions
DB Chris Prosinki/Wyoming, Senior had 346 career tackles
DB Brian Logan/BYU, Senior defensive specialist and playmaker
P Brian Stahovich/San Diego State, had 89 yd punt longest in country
K James Aho/New Mexico, perfect on PATs with long 51 yard FG
Defensive Freshman/Kyle Van Noy.BYU, Will have a stellar cougar career