09 August 2011

Coachin Carousel: Was It Worth It?

Each year the coaches come and they go much like the carousel. Round and round. In today's ever changing society it seems like things are more about what have you done for me lately. College football is clearly becoming more about money, winning and exposure. In fact, during this past year nearly 18 percent of all FBS schools made coaching changes. Thus, likely being phased out are the days when coaches would typically stick around for what seemed forever. Below are a few that happened. Was it worth it? Only time will tell in providing answers allowing fans to make their own decisions.

In: Jon Embree
Out: Dan Hawkins
Last 3 Seasons: Won 13 Lost 23 Games
This past year the buffs reportedly made advances on others before settling on a hire of its own as it heads into the PAC10 in hopes to bring back the success of its past. Unfortunately, Embree and his staff no longer have any eligibility left. Adding to the challenge is a brutal schedule without even a bye week with largely the same student athletes that finished 5-7 last season.

Miami, FL
In: Al Golden
Out: Randy Shannon
Last 3 Seasons: Won 23 Lost 15 Games
Golden inherits a team with typically amazing talent but also was undisciplined in decision making (ranked 104th in TO margin last season with 27 INTs), penalties, etc. With so much hurricane rich tradition can he make something Golden happen?

In: Brady Hoke
Out: Rich Rodriguez
Last 3 Seasons: Won 15 Lost 22 Games
Big blue certainly has some talent in the stable. Unfortunately, some glaring statistics must be altered and quickly. The wolverines ranked 109th in TO margin. They ranked 108th in scoring defense as well as were 112th against the pass. The wolverines allowed 458 points and 5860 yards. That won't win many games. The offense was 8th overall nationally but can't carry the entire workload. With some hardwork and discipline from Hoke there might be some growing pains in the short-term but the wolverines should soon be back in business.

In: Todd Graham
Out: Dave Wannstedt
Last 3 Seasons: Won 27 Lost 12 Games
Panther coach Graham brings an impressive resume. His teams have been full of energy and have been exciting to watch (his offenses at Tulsa were #1 nationally in 2007 and 2008). Can he find a way to do it again? The sky is the limit for his high octane offense.

San Diego State
In: Rocky Long
Out: Brady Hoke
Last 3 Seasons: Won 15 Lost 22 Games
Can the Aztec momentum continue under Rocky Long? The offensive cupboard certainly wasn't left bare. It ranked 16th nationally highlighted by senior caller Ryan Lindley and super soph Ronnie Hillman who rushed for 17 TDs and over 1500 yards. The aztecs might not win the MWC with Boise State and TCU in the mix but SDSU should absolutely compete and find themselves in yet another post season bowl game.

24 July 2011

Big Light Sophs: 10 To Keep An Eye On

Every year sports fans across the nation will often debate at some point athletes who might be rising or also might fail to live up to the hype of their first effort. It's always exciting to watch to see if they make the cut and live up to the hype of fans expectations. That's what makes sports so enjoyable. That valued time around the water cooler discussing everyone's viewpoints. Here's ten sophomore quarterbacks that certainly could be worth keeping an eye on this year.

Jake Heaps/BYU wasn't truly handed over the car keys to the offense until week 4 and never had full snaps like most in spring/fall camp. Jake finally has that repetition available now with an assistant staff overhaul. The offense should be settled and in sync ready to roll. The question remains was last season's last half of the schedule that easy or was there truly that improvement. Cougar fans should be able to answer that watching how the blue and white jerseys handle the front loaded 2011 schedule.

Keith Price/Washington hopes to be the next great Husky to take the reins behind center with Jake Locker taking his game to the Tennessee Titans. So, where does Price stand? Back in high school he had over a 70 percent completion ratio. Price was also selected in high school as the 33rd ranked dual threat QB prospect. Out of spring practice he was also essentially named the starter. The offense does have its share of playmakers which should help ease the "Price" of the transition from Locker which includes junior Chris Polk who rushed last season for 1415 yards (second most in school history).

Danny O'Brien/Maryland emerged last season as one of the nation's best promising young quarterbacks after throwing for over 2400 yards and 22 TDs including an efficiency rating of 134.5. O'Brien is only one of four players in school history to throw for over 400 yards in a game. With four returning OL starters O'Brien should be poised to have yet another successful season.

Nathan Scheelhaase/Illinois came into the 2010 season as a unproven redshirt freshman who emerged as a solidified starter. Scheelhaase threw for over 1800 yards and 17 TDs (even rushed for 868 yards with 5 TDs) in his freshman campaign. His aerial assault (TD to INT) ratio even is definately respectable 17 to 8.

Jeff Godfrey/UCF very well could be driving his way to yet another successful sophomore season. He has an entire OL returning with experience and the lineman have even promised not to give up a sack in 2011. Last season Godfrey threw for 2159 yards 13 TDs 8 INTs and a 154 efficiency rating while rushing for 566 yards and 10 TDs on the ground.

Casey Pachall/TCU was a four star athlete ranked in 2009 by recruiting services rivals as the 9th best best dual threat QB in the nation. The time to rise and shine is now. Dalton exhausted his collegiate eligibility heading to the next level and that mantle now falls squarely on the shoulders of Pachall. Yes, the horned frogs may have only one returning OL starter back but TCU also has an insanely favorable schedule with a defense which has been tops (or darn close to tops) the past three or four years to help ease any pressure.

Aaron Murray/Georgia may have lost wideout standout AJ Green to the Cincinnati Bengals but may have found some capable replacements in freshman Malcolm Mitchell and junior Tavarres King. In his freshman season Murray connected for 24 TDs and nearly 3050 yards with a rating a 154.5. If the dawgs OL can hold together to give Murray ample time there's no reason why Murray can't succeed. Although, the first week Boise State might have something to say about that.

Kolton Browning/UL Monroe might as well been selling pop corn in the stands last season. It's about all that was left out far exceeding all expectations of a normal incoming freshman. Browning amassed nearly 3000 yards of total offense (rushed for 385 yards and 4 TDs). He threw for 18 TDs with 2552 passing yards with nearly a 62 percent pass completion ratio. The warhawks definately need to rally around Browning but also need to raise the bar of performance considering considering some tough road games against Florida State, TCU and Iowa.

Corey Robinson/Troy couldn't have asked for a freshman season statistically. Robinson struck for 28 TDs covering over 3700 yards. Yes, 3726 to be exact. His offense averaged over 34 points on the scoreboard last yer (ranked 17th nationally). He even lit up Ohio at the New Orleans Bowl going 32 of 47 for 387 yards and 4 TDs.

Tyler Bray/Tennessee produced some rather respectable stats in a considerable early season substitutional role. In only 5 starts Bray threw for 1849 yards 18 TDs with a efficiency of 142.7 without the benefit of an effective ground game that finished basically dead last in the SEC (managing only 116 yards per game).

20 July 2011

Summer Heats Too Early Top 10

Rarely do the final college football polls ever resemble anything remotely similar to those all too early summer rankings. Who will be this years champ when the final whistle sounds? Will it be finally be someone not from the SEC? Or will it be some form of conference repeat? Until the games are played out it's often anyone's best estimate. Here's how the view from the other side of the lake saw things.

1-Alabama is poised for another run at the national title. All the necessary ingredients seem to be set in place. The offensive trenches return four out of five starters. The defense welcomes back nine of eleven starters that ranked #3 nationally holding teams to a stingy 13.5 points a game. Even the schedule looks inviting having Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU all at home.

2-Oklahoma has 9 of 11 offensive starters back in the fold for another run at the title including the dangerous combo of junior quarterback (and Sammy Baugh winner) Landry Jones and senior consensus All American widout Ryan Broyles. The sooner offense averaged 481 yards a matchup while the passing game ranked 3rd nationally. The SEC national championship winning streak has certainly got to come to an end soon. The sooners certainly have the capability to do just that.

3-Oregon returns the key components of last years top ranked explosive offense centered around juniors signal caller Darron Thomas and Heisman Trophy finalist in tailback LaMichael James. On the other side of the ball the ducks last season allowed opponents only 4.7 yards per play (11th best nationally). Yes, they might only return five defensive starters but Oregon also played a heavy rotation likely due to the pace of their style of play. The ducks won't have time to rest as its biggest test may lie straight out of the gates when play travel to LSU to open the season.

4-LSU finished with an 11-2 record despite an offense ranked 11th in the SEC triggering a change in offensive coordinators. Steve Kragthorpe was brought in to help restore the offensive swagger for the tigers which begins with a three year starter under center. Senior Jordan Jefferson returns as the winningest active SEC quarterback with a 20-7 record. Definately not too shabby to work with. Four out of the five offensive line starters are back. The defense ranked 3rd in the SEC and good enough for 12th overall. The tools are in the shed. Its just a matter of process in getting things done. Tests include Oregon at home and on the road against Alabama.

5-FSU and their decision to place Jimbo Fisher at the coaching helm is looking rather solid now revitalizing 'nole nation after successfully guiding the seminoles to 10-4 season (first 10 win season in 7 years) including a 26-17 Chick-fil-A victory over South Carolina. In fact, FSU still looks sound enough to likely grab the ACC title and a BCS bowl berth despite losing Christian Ponder to the next level. Plenty of talent and skill return for the fans to start practicing the tomahawk chop once again.

6-South Carolina returns two of its most explosive weapons in sophomore sensation tailback Marcus Lattimore and junior wideout Alshon Jeffery. Lattimore certainly looked like anything but a freshman in 2010 amassing 1197 yards and 17 TDs. Jeffery also compiled a more than respectable 1517 yards and 9 TDs. Despite the uncertainty at quarterback South Carolina learned how to win and make some serious noise in both the SEC and in the nation.

7-Oklahoma State has arguably the nations top aerial assault combination returning that dropped an average of 44 points a game on the scoreboard. Senior quarterback Brandon Weeden (who turned his back on the NFL) connected on over 4200 passing yards and 34 TDs with Justin Blackmon who racked up nearly 1800 receiving yards and 20 TDs. Last season the cowboys defense ranked 11th nationally in the TO margin but allowed over 26 points a game.

8-Nebraska could be entering the Big12 at the right time. Consider that Michigan is rebuilding under Hoke. Ohio State is scrambling dealing with the whole tattoo situation. Penn State isn't completely solidified in its quarterback situation. And so on. Thus the huskers certainly could make some noise. And yes, even the defense last season ranked 11th nationally. Could the huskers biggest challenge be the team chemistry? Coach Bo Pellini overhauled his staff with four new coaches. Should be interesting how all the pieces fall into place and somehow mesh together.

9-Texas A/M on paper looks strong to challenge BIG12 supremacy with possibly the best squad the aggies have fielded in more than a decade. The aggies return 9 starters from an offense that averaged nearly 442 yards. They know how to put points on the board averaging 31 led by a trio of seniors in QB Ryan Tannehill, TB Cyrus Gray (200 carries, 1133 yards and 12 TDs), and wideout Jeff Fuller (72 receptions, 1066 yards and 12 TDs). Yes, the aggies might have lost Von Miller but return (9 starters) enough talent from a defense that allowed opponents only 21 points.

10-Notre Dame finished strong last season winning its last 4 including a 33-17 waxing of the hurricanes in the Sun Bowl. Can they keep the momentum rolling? A sense of optimism surely would be prevalent with 16 of 22 starters available. The irish have a capable wideout in senior Michael Floyd who returns with 1025 receiving yards and 12 TDs. Notre Dame's defense was led by Manti Te'o with 133 tackles (most by an irish in 27 years). Those final 4 games the "D" only allowed an average of 9.75 points per game (which included Utah, Army, USC and Miami).

19 July 2011

Bringing Back The Domanator

Rewind back to 2001. As a senior the "Domanator" threw for 3542 yards including 33 TDs while leading the blue and white jerseys to a rather impressive 12-2 record. Fast forward to 2011 and today's reality. Brandon Doman is now the cougs new offensive coordinator leading the band of brothers as they venture boldly into independence charting their own destiny. He will be making the calls one whistle at a time.

What will it hold in store? What sort of things can cougar fans expect to see? Will there be many adjustments? Where much is given much will be required. Cougar fans expect to win and are used to putting points on the board. Many of these questions have likely been asked by cougar fans across the nation. Such are some of the examples that Doman will likely encounter and must handle.

Precise accurate receiving routes. Knowing how to get open and exactly where to be at any given time. This will surely be addressed. Get into a flow. The communication between Heaps and his weapons will be crucial in order to move the chains.

Player accountability on dropped passes. Last season it happened far too often. This cannot continue. Days of the past it was unacceptable. It was an absolute rarity. Often you get one shot. Its an absolute to take full and complete advantage of the opportunities as they occur. Heaps and his receiving crew have had ample of time for quality reps to be on the same page. Look for this to dramatically change and improve.

Get the tight ends involved. Somehow the TE action virtually was a distant memory from the past. Some of the cougs biggest plays in history have come through the tight ends. Whether it was Clay Brown. Whether it was Jonny Harline. Whether it has been Andrew George. No question they must be more heavily involved.

Open up the playbook. No more vanilla. Bring back the old school. Keeping opponents on their heels guessing. And guessing wrong. Far too often last season at times those plays were simply too predictable. Got to hit the opponent in the jaw early, often and coming from all possible angles. Teams can't have any clue where or when the cougs will strike next.

On the fly. Allow freedom for adjustments as they need to be implemented. Things will come up. Can't allow to get painted into a corner in the ever changing game. Every play will present new possible wrinkles. Giving all team captains more opportunities when needed for audibles as well as the player communication each down can only be a positive.

Synergy can certainly be a powerful word. Keep the band of brothers together strong as one. I believe it was Aristotle who said some serious truth which could be applied here. The whole is greater than sum of its parts. This season the cougs emergence into independence will be vital to this exact manner of thinking. It will take everyone working together on all levels as a collective unit. Together this band of brothers will certainly write history. What is says will only be known as we watch it play out one whistle at a time.
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AP Photo Credit: Isaac Brekken

15 July 2011

Defining Moments

Many years ago as a new country was in the process of declaring its independence a rather large signature was placed onto a piece of paper. According to legend it was written so large and clear that the individual wanted King George to be able to read it without the use his spectacles. That absolutely is a defining moment or signature in history. It is now a new day. A new dawn and a new season. The cougs are officially independent and able to define their own destiny.

Fans across the nation when asked what comes to mind first about BYU football many will say they know how to sling the pigskin around. No question it is an elite and visible group of members in the quarterback club. Each have had their own personalities, characteristics and defining moment in some form or another.

Ty Detmer had the killer instinct of never giving up despite whatever odds might have been in front of him. The former Heisman trophy winner finished a stellar career throwing for 15,031 yards and 121 TDs. Detmer's signature win cougar nation will recall was in LES back in 1990 when he Ty'd one on the Hurricanes leading the cougs to a 28-21 victory.

Jim McMahon might be known across the nation as part of a Superbowl shuffle but to cougar fans he likely will always be remembered for possibly staging one of the greatest college football comebacks ever slinging a hail mary to Clay Brown for a 46-45 victory over SMU.

Max Hall was able to best UCLA in the 2007 Vegas Bowl and destroyed the bruins the following year 59-0. He even beat Oklahoma 14-13 in Arlington Texas. The defining moment that fans likely to remember for Hall came from a 49 yard completion on a now famous fourth and 18 (or might as well been a fourth and forever) to Austin Collie with the final of 17-10 for cougs.

Robbie Bosco got things rolling early in the season against then third ranked Pittsburgh for a 20-14 victory. However, college football fans will recall what took place at the end of that season. Despite being injured he was able to help secure the cougs a 24-17 Holiday Bowl victory over Michigan to remain undefeated as the cougs now were able to claim the title of national champions.

Brandon Doman might be the offensive coordinator now but some fans will likely remember him as "The Domanator". However, most will recall Doman's defining moment how he was instrumental guiding Lavell Edwards last hurrah beating the team from up north 34-27.

John Walsh threw for 8390 yards and 66 TDs in his career but might be most remembered for helping the cougs end a 5 year bowl winning drought with a Copper Bowl victory over traditional power Oklahoma 31-6. Walsh finished the game 31 of 45 for 454 yards and 4 TDs.

Steve Sarkisian was part of what may have been one of the cougs best teams fielded collectively in 1996. Football fanatics will likely remember what took place on New Years Day for the 1996 Cotton Bowl. The 5th ranked cougs were led by Sarkisian throwing 21 of 36 for 291 yards and 2 TDs as Omarr Morgan intercepted the final pass from Kansas State QB Brian Kavanagh to secure the victory.

John Beck will be remembered with a number of solid wins including stunning TCU on their home field 31-17 as well as in 2006 a Vegas Bowl victory over Oregon 38-8. On the other hand cougar fans could argue his defining moment very well could be known by the play that lasted forever in the rivalry game known as "The Answered Prayer".

The names may change as they come and go through the program. This time its on the shoulders of Heaps. No longer is there any questions whatsoever who the signal caller is. Last season the training wheels came off. Jake grew up in a major way right before our eyes who rattled away 6 victories in its last 8 games. The bar has been set. What a difference a year makes. Cougar fans are clearly stoked with optimism for the upcoming season and ready to see Heaps of success. What will his defining moment be remembered as? Will it come this season against Texas? Or next year at Georgia Tech? Maybe some future bowl? Regardless what it will be fans will surely love the results.

13 July 2011

Sticks To Measure Success

Since 1906 football teams have needed 10 yards to gain a first down. Every team across the nation has their own method in moving the chains. In 1972 Lavell Edwards took the coaching reins and forever changed the game. Recently, the university of blue and white declared its independence. They took their own route to measure success. A new unchartered territory. A brand new horizon. As a fellow cougar fan each have their own measuring sticks. Things that they would like to see from the 2011 season.

Exposure. Long term vision and the tools to make it happen on and off the field. Allowing others to learn more about what the university is about. The things it represents and values. Having a renewed partnership with the world wide leader in sports. Yes, that would be ESPN. Look for minimum 10 games on a national stage network in 2011. No longer obscured by having to browse through craigs list to find a decommissioned satellite in order to find what might be viewing somewhere in the mountain range. It's now about a national range and the worldwide stage. How about also having a state of the art tv/media facilities at its fingertips? Definately couldn't ask for a better combo and recipe for success.

Teachers and Students. Coaching staff overhaul. Ben Cahoon. Rob Morris. Joe DuPaix. Those were some of the names and changes brought to this cougar staff. How will they affect the players? Is there a much better team chemistry? Numerous questions will certainly all be answered as the season progresses.

Heaps Next Throw. Jake set every freshman QB record throwing for over 2300 yards and 15 TDs. Is he ready for the next step? Heaps absolutely has an arsenal of weapons to work with and the skillset. As Bronco says its about executing at a higher level. The bar has been set. The cougar nation wants to know and will be anxiously watching.

Tradition, Spirit, Honor and Vanilla. Last season cougar fans became restless as the offense often seemed to be too vanilla. Opponents knew what to expect and often before things happened. Will the blue and white jerseys get back to the past? Is it finally time to look to the future? With Doman at the offensive coordinator helm will the new "O" keep teams on their heels? As fans will we see trickery from time to time to keep opponents guessing and playing it straight. Inquiring minds want to know.

Tight Ends In The House. Dennis Pitta. Gordon Hudson. Clay Brown. Jonny Harline. Chad Lewis. Those are only a few of the great names that cougar fans have heard make big plays over the years. Far too often last season the tight end situation seemed to be a completely invisible facet of the offensive game plan. Will cougar fans see a change in 2011? With names like Devin Mahina and Austin Holt in the stable the weapons are certainly available. What other sort of things as a cougar fan would you like to see? Would love to hear.

First Team Worth Watching

Its the cream of the crop. Bigger. Faster. Meaner. Stronger. Those that have the competitive edge who never give up. Its the law of the jungle. Who will remain at the seasons end as the best of the best? Time will tell. It's certainly worth a look at who to watch. This years picks as follows include...

QB Landry Jones/Oklahoma As a sophomore Landry threw for 38 TDs covering 4718 yards. With an arsenal of dangerous weapons fans can expect more of the same. Definately has some major ability. The sky is the limit.
RB LaMichael James/Oregon Last season was the recipient of the Doak Walker award as the nations top RB while leading the NCAA with 1731 rushing yards and 24 total TDs. Has surpassed 100 yards rushing in 18 of 25 games played. LaMichael has some serious wheels. Even has had nine games of 150 plus yards.
RB Marcus Lattimore/South Carolina Absolutely pumped up the South Carolina fans while compiling nearly 1200 yards rushing on 249 carries as a true freshman to help carry the gamecocks to the SEC east championship. The sophomore workhorse certainly won't be a surprise or sneaking up on anyone this season.
WR Justin Blackmon/Oklahoma State Definately did not encounter a sophomore slump last season leading the nation with 148.5 receiving yards per game (1782 total receiving yards) and 20 TDs while picking up some hardware as the Biletnikoff Award Winner. Blackmon even averaged 32.1 yards on his TD catches. What Justin put together was the sixth best receiving season in NCAA history.
WR Ryan Broyles/Oklahoma Probably stunned many coming back for a senior campaign after leading the nation with 131 receptions with 1622 yards (3rd in the NCAA) and 14 TDs. Broyles is just 51 grabs away from breaking the NCAA career receptions of 316 (previously set by Taylor Stubblefield) which easily could fall this season unless something dramatic happens.
TE Michael Egnew/Missouri The plainview Texas native led all TEs in the nation with 90 receptions 762 yards and 5 TDs. Egnew in 2010 was a Mackey Award Finalist who returns to give the Tigers possibly the best catching target in the nation at that position.
C Michael Brewster/Ohio State Up front and center is the centerpiece and four year starter with 36 career starts. Brewster could certainly end up starting as a rookie at the next level in the right situation.
OL Nate Potter/Boise State One of the leaders of a rather stingy OL that ranked 3rd nationally in 2010 allowing only an average of 0.62 sacks per game. Solid pass blocker who by all means should follow Ryan Clady into the NFL. Has already graduated (in May) with a bachelor's degree in business.
OL Matt Reynolds/BYU If Heaps were counting his blessings this would be a great place to start when it comes to football. Three year starter for the cougs. Helped BYU hold opponents to no sacks in four games and two or fewer in 11 matchups. Matt would positively be three time all conference again if the cougs were still in the MWC. Definately should receive some solid looks at the next level.
OL Barrett Jones/Alabama Was instrumental in helping Mark Ingram win the Heisman trophy in 2009. Set to embark on his third season on the Crimson Tide OL after winning first team all SEC honor as a sophomore.
OL David DeCastro/Stanford Smart dependable player from Bellevue Washington who will anchor the cardinal OL that has allowed only 13 sacks (26 starts) in two seasons.
K Blair Walsh/Georgia Senior school record holder for consecutive PATs (made first 119 of his career) returns who has made 40 of 45 FGs in the past two years.
P Quinn Sharp/Oklahoma State Junior with a huge leg (averages 46.24 yards which ranked 2nd nationally) and paced the nation with 53 touchbacks. As a sophomore Quinn had a punt of at least 50 yards in nine of eleven games (14 punts in excess of 50 yards).

11 July 2011

A Look Ahead: Hawaii

June Jones might be gone from the program but the product remains the same. Coach Greg McMackin is 23-18 in 3 years and the warriors are still slinging the pigskin around like there's no tomorrow. They averaged just over 500 yards of offense per matchup (394 of that through the air average). Its passing game was tops in the nation last season. Yes, senior quarterback Bryant Moniz returns who threw for 39 TDs and 5040 yards. Yes, senior wideout Royce Pollard returns along with his 901 receiving yards and 7 TDs. However, the entire offensive road graters from last season are gone. Can they mesh quick enough to keep Moniz upright so he can target his wideouts? Something will have to give.

The warriors welcome back 6 starters on the defense including playmaker senior linebacker Corey Paredes who ranked second in the WAC with 151 tackles (83 solo). In 2011 the warriors led the nation is turnovers forced with 38. Gone from the mix is Mana Silver who was third in the nation with 8 INTs. Who will step up and fill those shoes? Most likely candidate is senior Richard Torres who appeared in all 14 games last season while amassing 57 tackles. Apparently last season the "special teams" weren't that special. Former Hawaii coach Dick Tomey was brought in to turn things around on special teams. With a very favorable schedule look for Hawaii to go bowling again and give the cougs some fits.

A Look Ahead: New Mexico State

Last season New Mexico State finished the season with yet another disappointing 2-10 record. In 2010 the aggies offense finished ranked 112th overall scoring only 15.7 per contest. The aggies now have the fourth offensive coordinator in the past four years in hopes of some sort of major makeover. In fact, the team hasn't even fielded a 0.500 club since 2002. Its last bowl game came was the 1960 the Sun Bowl. Could this finally be a season of optimism in the land of enchantment? It can't really get much worse. Any whiff of success for coach DeWayne Walker's squad can certainly give the aggies something to build some momentum with.

The aggie offense will rest on the development and progress of sophomore quarterback Andrew Manley. Manley will certainly have a dangerous weapon to work with in senior wideout Taveon Rogers who had more than 1400 yards in kick returns last season. Rogers often is a home run waiting to happen with a 27.1 return average. Kenny Turner returns in the backfield as the teams leading rusher with 481 yards and 2 TDs.

Senior corner Donyae Coleman led the team with 92 tackles averaging 7.7 per game which isn't a positive sign. There was only one team in the nation with fewer sacks than the aggies 9 last season. The defensive trenches certainly need to get more push and pressure on opponents and quarterbacks. In short, the front seven must play better or another long season is in store. That being the case look for the cougar backfield to get some worn out legs piling up some major rushing yards.

10 July 2011

A Look Ahead: Idaho

Looking to bounce back from a 6-7 season the Vandals must find a way with a new QB under center for the first time in three seasons. Even worse the OL last season only helped produce 88 yards per game (third fewest in the nation, good enough for 118th ranking) which also allowed 45 sacks. Only Washington State and Rutgers gave up more. The vandals top three receivers are also gone. On the other hand the picture isn't completely bleak. Idaho will finally have the services of junior RB Ryan Bass who transferred from Arizona State and should make an immediate impact.

Question marks surround the vandals defense as well. Gone is Shiloh Keo who started since 2006 and was picked up by the Houston Texans. There is still plenty of leadership and depth available. Seniors Tre'Shawn Robinson and Homer Mauga will likely be the strength of the "D" for coordinator Mark Criner. The secondary has some experience with three corners Aaron Grymes, Kenneth Patten and Matthew Harvey who started at some point last season. The blue and white jerseys should give the Vandals all they can handle.

A Look Ahead: Idaho State

In short this one likely won't be pretty if you are a Bengal fan. On the other hand it will definately be short. Last season ISU averaged nearly 16 points a contest yet gave up 33 to finish with a record of 1-10. Its lone victory came over Montana Western. Even the bengals attendance suffered which averaged 5388 fans a contest while its opponents fans numbered 25494. Senior Tavoy Moore was the highlight of the Bengal offense in 2011 accumulating 2034 all purpose yards. Although, it definately doesn't help the offense when ISU gave up 42 sacks last season. The Bengal defense is centered around senior linebacker AJ Storms who led the nation and the Big Sky with 146 tackles. The blue and white jerseys will likely be subbing in early and often while fans check out the snackbar. On a sidenote former coug Mike Rigell is now apparently coaching the ISU RBs. Possible future Wrubell interview coming w Rigell? Time will tell.

A Look Ahead: TCU

Although, the faces and names may change the program likely remains the same. Gone is Andy Dalton. Gone is Jeremy Kerley. Among others who have moved on. However, the frogs don't often rebuild. Each year they just seem to reload.

Replacing Dalton will be sophomore former four star recruit Casey Pachall. Pachall absolutely has the skill set and some big play weapons to work with. Only Pachall question at this point might be the leadership. Returning in the backfield is Ed Wesley (who is 2010 was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker award, recognizing the nation's top running back) who ran for 1078 yards on 166 carries (6.5 avg per carry) with 11 TDs. Could the OL be a bigger concern and possible loss than Dalton? Only senior left guard Kyle Dooley and communication major returns from a line that only gave up 9 sacks all of 2010 (tied 5th nationally for fewest sacks allowed).

Once again the strength of the frogs will be the defense. TCU still has its key defensive components that only allowed 12 points a game last season and limited opponents to under 100 yards rushing per matchup which includes Tank Carder and Tanner Brock. Even the special teams is a stable commodity. One knows what they'll get in senior placekicker Ross Evans who holds the school career record for extra points made (191) and in 2010 even appeared on the watch list for the Lou Groza award honoring the nation's top placekicker. In 2011 the frogs might not end a perfect season again but they certainly won't slip far and should challenge Boise State for MWC supremacy one last time.

A Look Ahead: Oregon State

Some give and take here. In 2009 Uani Unga played in the Vegas Bowl against the cougs but now finds himself on the blue and white roster. On the other hand former coug recruit Shiloah Te'o apparently has found a home on the OSU roster. The beavers return 4 of the 5 from the offensive trenches but also have allowed 35 sacks last season. If the OL can step up to hold its own junior QB Ryan Katz could take a big step forward with such a strong arm. Last season despite an iffy line Katz still managed 18 TDs which ranks 10th all time at OSU. As a veteran Katz should help provide the stability to make the offense run smoothly. Senior back and sociology major Ryan McCants should see considerable time in the backfield. In the offseason McCants even spent time in Macedonia building a second story to a home for a needy family.

On the defensive side OSU gave up nearly an average of 27 a contest good enough for 64th in the nation. Consider though some of the high octane offenses the beavers faced last season (Boise State, Oregon, Stanford and TCU). Arguably OSU's top playmaker on defense returns with 157 career tackles and was voted co-team captain by his teammates. Senior Dominic Glover moved from end to defensive tackle. The LB crew will be converted safety Cameron Collins and Michael Doctor (OLB) while the MLB will be manned by junior Tony Wilson.

Could the heat be on Coach Mike Riley since finishing a disappointing 5-7 last season? The beavers last bowl game was the 2009 Vegas Bowl. Although likely the beavers won't threaten the Ducks off the big PAC12 pond look for the OSU to certainly put up a worthy challenge against the jerseys of the blue and white.

A Look Ahead: San Jose State

Up first is the good news. The spartans welcome back oodles of experience. Now the bad news? They only mustered a single victory on the season. Granted, SJSU had more than its fair share of obstacles including losing nine defensive starters through the first three games. In fact, eventually the spartans were only able to muster 43 healthy scholarship athletes by seasons end. On a positive note of those 13 games 6 games were decided by a touchdown or less despite the injury filled season.

This years offensive strength could very well rest on the shoulders of its wideouts. Noel Grigsby lit up defenders as a freshman with 56 receptions including a 14.7 average per catch ultimately covering 822 yards and 4 TDs. Grigsby was one of four spartans to receive all american recognition in 2010. Sophomore Chandler Jones also returns for his sophomore season with 54 catches and 474 yards.

The spartan defense was led by freshman linebacker and former shotput thrower Keith Smith who seems to have found his calling and a knack for finding the football with 116 tackles earning the 2010 WAC freshman of the year honor. Yes, the spartans return all 11 starters on this side of the ball. However, last season it averaged giving up over 34 points a game as well as allowing over 460 yards. Unfortunately, having stats like that won't win many games. And it showed. The pieces are there. Its just a matter of somehow finding a way of putting the puzzle together.

19 June 2011

A Look Ahead: Utah State

Last time around for the cougs it was 31-16 loss with an assistant coaching change in the works. This time revenge should be sweet. A whole new slate. A whole new outlook. And simply, a whole lot different. For starters on the aggies, is Diondre Borel lost to graduation who left with numerous school records. Finding a signal caller could be intriguing and one of the aggie top priorities. The aggies will have plenty of experience in the trenches. Back to the fold will be Robert Turbin who rushed for nearly 1300 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in 2009.

After allowing nearly 34 points a game to opponents Head Coach Gary Andersen took over that role hoping to change the course switching the aggies to a 3-4 alignment in the process. The linebacking crew will be led again by a dynamic duo of seniors in Bobby Wagner and Kyle Gallagher. Wagner has led the WAC the past two season with 298 career tackles. Gallagher isn't far behind either at 191.

On special teams Kerwynn Williams leads the way with a 25.2 yard average WAC best. Williams had 5 returns of 60 or better as well as 3 returns of 70 plus yards. The aggies must find more consistency who ranked 83rd nationally in the TO margin. With Boise State gone from the WAC the league should have more parity among its members. Its time for the aggies to take advantage of its opportunities.

A Look Ahead: Univ Central Florida

Primed for another CONF USA title run the Knights are out to show opponents they are for real. UCF finished with a 11-3 record including a Liberty Bowl victory over Georgia. Yes, Georgia. This isn't some South Prairieview State we're talking about here. When the Knights come to LES the jerseys in blue could certainly have their hands full.

They are led by dual threat quarterback Jeff Godfrey who had a phenomenal freshman season passing for over 2100 yards connecting on 13 TDs while rushing for over an additional 500 yards. Four out of his five linemen return as well with 87 combined starts. The offense is well balanced which averaged last year about 180 yards through the air and 180 yards as well on the ground. UCF understands efficiency and putting points on the board. In 8 of the 14 matchups the Knights were able to drop 35 or more against opponents including 61 at Tulane.

The Knights have some talent and depth on the ground. Look for junior battery ram Latavius Murray (nearly 6 yards per carry average) and senior Ronnie Weaver in the backfield to get plenty of touches. Weaver returns with 11 TDs on 890 yards and nearly a 5 yard a carry. Brynn Harvey also returns after missing last season with a torn ACL who had previously earned first team All Conference USA honors back in 2009.

In the receiving rotation Godfrey will look to returning senior AJ Guyton who had 28 receptions and 353 yards. Guyton will be paired up with elusive junior Quincy McDuffie. Last season McDuffie had double duty also on special teams returning punts with a 32.19 yard return average leading the nation including a 93 yard return for six against NC State.

On defense the Knights return 4 starters including a pair of defensive line super sophs in Victor Gray and EJ Dunston. In the secondary both Kemal Ishmael and Josh Robinson (held ex-Georgia superstar now Cincy Bengals AJ Green to 77 yards) earned first team all conference usa honors last year.

A Look Ahead: Utah

How will team north manage the transition into the PAC12? With new territory on the horizon Utah couldn't have asked for a better tour guide than Norm Chow. After stops along the way with USC and UCLA as well as seeing the rest of the PAC12 weekly Chow should be a rather valuable asset for the utes. He will certainly have his hands full from the start. There is no proven carrier in the backfield. Gone also from the mix include co-starters Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide who combined last season for over 1400 rushing yards. Is Harvey Langi ready for the bigstage? And will the new offense be ready in time for the season? Definately makes things tough to implement when also the starting QB has been out for much of the offseason recovering from surgery to his right throwing arm. If the QB situation returns to an even form look for junior receiver DeVonte Christopher to get some touches who had 39 receptions and 6 TDs last season.

Team north's DL will see Star Lotulelei at the nose with Dave Kruger and James Aiono also in the trenches. Former Davis High walk on safety converted to linebacker Chaz Walker returns who led utah with 113 tackles (had 18 against TCU). Sophomore hard hitting Brian Blechen moves from safety to strongside backer. The secondary has some questions and is untested. With Brandon Burton's departure somehow the utes must replace all four starters. There will be some rebuilding on special teams as well with both Shaky Smithson and reliable Joe Phillips gone. Can team north compete weekly in the PAC12? Time will tell. The bar has been raised and its certainly time to execute at a higher level.

A Look Ahead: Texas

The eyes of Texas will be clearly be focused on the Longhorn's first real test of the season against the cougs. Was last years Longhorn's 5-7 record only a hiccup or actually something much bigger? Texas finished with a 2-6 record in last years Big12 matchups. With such a disappointing disrailment major changes were inevitable where winning seems to be the constant. In the aftermath five assistants were replaced including bringing in Boise State's Bryan Harsin looking to right the longhorn ship. Off the field the Longhorns continued recruiting strong despite the on the field performances. All but one recruit was from Texas and all but six (of 22) had rankings of 4 star or higher. The recruiting website scout.com had the Longhorns ranked nationally 3rd overall from this years incoming crop.

Leadership under center would likely begin with former Gatorade player of the year in Garrett Gilbert who seemed to be a mess last season throwing 17 TDs and no longer the solidified starter. Gilbert who may not have the "it" factor also appears to be pressed heavily by sophomore Case McCoy (yes that's Colt's brother). The longhorn offensive trenches anchored by senior center David Snow will look to three new starters under the direction of new position coach Stacey Searels. The QB position will eventually shake out. Only question is who will take the reins and when with some big Texas strides.

Last season few playmakers emerged. Texas absolutely has a stable of capable options available for Harsin to work with. Veteran RB Fozzy Whittaker will likely receive plenty of touches. However, he will have to hold off freshman Malcolm Brown who was one of the most prized recruits in the country. Brown is a punishing runner built like a tank who in high school amassed over 6600 yards with a 9.8 average. Yes, nearly 10 yard average. Sophomore WR Mike Davis only had 47 receptions and 2 TDs last year but could emerge in a much larger role pending if a signal caller truly emerges.

Righting the ship clearly begins with its strength the defense which overall was ranked 6th in the nation. Newcomer defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has got to like what tools he was given to work with. Senior DT Kheeston Randall (22 starts) is a tough inside run stopper and cornerstone for the tough longhorn line. The senior led linebacking crew of Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho combined for 200 tackles last season (Keenan had 137 himself). Sophomore linebacker Jordan Hicks could well be a future all american in the making. In the Texas secondary Kenny Vaccaro and four year starter Blake Gideon unquestioned starters return. With the pieces in place look for the longhorns to place on the field yet again another top ten defensive unit.

If things get close Texas will look to a reliable senior kicker in Justin Tucker who made 23 of 27 FG attempts last season. Often the pigskin matchups are won on field position. Seventeen of his punts were downed inside the 20. However, Texas must find a way to correct the TO margin which ranked 116th nationally.

18 June 2011

A Look Ahead: Ole Miss

After a rather disappointing 4-8 season the Rebels road to recovery clearly won't be an easy one. This might be considered the momentum matchup game. One team riding the wave up while the other one taking the elevator down. The cougs wrapped up its 2010 season winning 6 out of its last 8 games. On the other hand the Rebels lost 6 of its last 7 games.

Calling the shots will be new offensive coordinator David Lee. Those plays will be sure to often include getting the pigskin in the hands of Brandon Bolden. Last season the senior from Baton Rouge amassed a nice resume including 17 TDs with 1320 yards of offense. Ole Miss has an experienced offensive line is which allowed the fewest sacks in the SEC last season anchored by fifth year senior Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie. They will be sure to help take the pressure off some JC transfers Randall Mackey, Barry Brunetti, and Zack Stoudt who will all be vying for the starting QB position. Mackey seems to be one of the more dynamic athletes on the team. Brunetti is transfer from WV who is clearly a run pass threat. The rebels could also look to Stoudt who is a pure pocket passer. Ole Miss certainly has some options in the stable at quarterback.

Are the rebels ready to show defensive improvement? Last season Ole Miss gave up over 35 points on the scoreboard and nearly 400 yards of offense per contest. Unfortunately, that won't win many games. New secondary coach Keith Burns was brought to help stop the bleeding and the rebels will also be relying on a pair of JUCO transfers to answer the call immediately. Heaps and his band of brothers will likely be chomping at the bit looking to test Ole Miss and often.

Ole Miss junior Tyler Campbell last season led the nation in punting with a 46.4 average and might be called upon often. The rebels added explosive Philander Moore from Blinn College who scored six TDs on kick or punt returns. Fans might recall the junior pyschology major had earlier went from a commitment with team north but had a change of heart to an Ole Miss signee after visiting the rebel campus.

Keys to the game? Stop the rhythm against whoever get's the start behind center for the rebels. Provide pressure on the rebel quarterback from the start and keep them out of sync. Don't let Bolden get into a groove. Ole Miss has a solid experienced OL but the cougs must find a way to keep the momentum in their favor. The jerseys in blue must also find a way to play keep away. Yes. That means winning the turnover battle. Last season Ole Miss was ranked 88 in the TO margin. If you don't have the pigskin you can't score. It's simple as that. Open the flood gates. Give some time to Heaps and trust him. Test the rebel secondary with frequent doses of the cougs receiving corps (yes that does include the tight ends which seemed to be almost nonexistent last year) while mixing in some shots of the cougs three horseman (Kariya, Di Luigi and the juice Quezada) to keep the rebels guessing. Last season Ole Miss ranked dead last in the SEC in pass efficiency defense giving up nearly 250 yards per game (246.3).

18 April 2011

The Next Level

March Madness came and went. The cougs had one of the best seasons in memory. He came. He saw. He swept the hoop awards and Jimmered a nation. Yet, can he play at the next level?

Absolutely. And why not? Some might say defense? In all seriousness who really watches the next level for the defense? Iverson and Kobe are two obvious examples. Both have been able to score a bajillion points but does anyone know them for the defense? Not even close. Flat out no contest. Besides, when was the last time fans came out to watch it for someone's defense? Today's game has clearly evolved into putting the ball into the hoop. Just ask the ex-coach from team north (the ball didn't go into the hoop). In fact, one of the last pure point guards known for the shut down ability was the glove. Yes, Gary Payton.

Then how would Jimmer fit in? Or where? Most teams at the next level would kill for someone who can spot up and shoot the long three. No question Jimmer has that range. Soon as he steps off the bus Jimmer is typically open.

Why not the Jazz and the home crowd? Jimmer could certainly put fans in the seats. Seemed like they also surely missed Korver. The hometown fans saw the Jazz shoot 34.6 percent from the three point line. Good enough to rank 20th in the bottom third. It also appeared overall CJ and Raja were never consistent enough. Miles went for 32 percent while Bell shot it at 35 percent. There really never was a pure reliable deep threat present this season for the Jazz. Too many misses and not enough hits.

On the other hand, Jimmer this season shot the 3 ball at 39.6 percent. Does that merit enough for a team to pick him? Yes, it might be a whole different level but there's no question on his consistent range. How about the Knicks giving Jimmer a chance? Why not the Heat? No question someone like Lebron and Wade would absolutely love to have an individual they could trust who can jack it up from another zip code that will knock them down. If there's an individual out there who can stretch a defense Jimmer is certainly one of those. Can you imagine with Lebron and Wade slicing through defenses like butter only to kick it back out to Jimmer? Match made in heaven. Jimmer absolutely has the talent to play at the next level. It's only a matter of finding out where. Never doubt the Jimmer. Whether it's the Jazz, the Knicks, the Heat or some other team tune in June 23rd to find out.

Photo Credit/Ethan Miller

24 January 2011

Fisher Of Men

It was back in 1991 when Steve Fisher first gathered the talent and gave the nation "The Fab Five" arguably by many as the greatest recruiting class ever assembled. That was then. This is now. Oh how time flies. Its also been said that good things often take time. Could he do it again? Before Coach Fisher took over in 1999 the Aztecs had suffered a 17 year NCAA tourney drought including 13 of 14 losing seasons in 14 years. Piece by piece Fisher has carefully rebuilt the Aztec program into a potential powerhouse. All eyes will now be directed to the Marriott Center as the San Diego State Aztecs come into town riding the nations longest active winning streak at 20 games with a #4 ranking (AP25 Poll). It will likely be standing room only in this matchup of epic proportions. Steve Fisher certainly has plenty of valuable experience to draw upon over 19 years winning over 402 games. The Aztecs are certainly heading on the right track with a coach who has been a fisher of men.

San Diego State returns all five starters and ranks #8 in FG percentage (49.2 to be exact) which clearly shows the decision process taking quality shots and making nearly half. The Aztecs are also in the top 30 in rebounding margin as well helping considerably second chance opportunities. They are led by 6-7 sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard who averages 15.7 points per game including 10.3 rebounds per contest. Yes, over 10 board a game. At the other forward is 6-9 senior Malcolm Thomas who averages nearly 12 a game and 8 rebounds. The Aztecs can also spread things around and stretch defenses. On the season senior DJ Gay has knocked down 118 threes. He's definately not afraid to spot up and take the jumper from the perimeter averaging nearly 13 points a game. There is definately some solid balance to this squad. The offense is spread enough that they have over 6 players who have taken at least 100 shots making it tough to focus on one individual.

Last time the two met it was the cougs who walked away victorious 82-68. Jimmer had 26 and Emery chipped in 18 points. It's a different day and another shot at the cougs. Can the cougs do it again? If Jimmer is on the court don't count the cougs out. Wednesday's mountain of a matchup will clearly be a huge game with some bigtime hype for both sides. It could easily be one of the biggest games in state history featuring two top ten teams both from the MWC. This is one you won't want to miss. Set aside your schedule. Whatever it takes to get there or watch on tv to see who really will be the fisher of men.

13 January 2011

You Just Got Jimmered

Most athletes are relentlessly seeking to find the zone. Tuesday everyone's all american somehow found not only the zone but something even beyond it as Fredette dropped 47 on the yewts with 13 NBA scouts present. Teammate Jackson Emery even said "When he starts to shoot from 40 feet out you know he's feeling something". Jimmer's thoughts? "I just felt good right from the beginning. It was just one of those special nights. The basket felt real big and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in good situations." Fredette like his brothers song was simply "Amazing". That night was an absolutely surreal and phenomenal performance. The avalanche of shots came from everywhere and the yewts had no answers to stop it. The daggers to the heart just kept coming. It marked the highest scoring outburst by a player in the Huntsman Center in 37 years. No other cougar has ever waltzed onto the yewts own homecourt and scored more than 35. That performance helped vault Fredette into an elite list one could call the 2000 point club joining former legends Danny Ainge, Devin Durrant and Michael Smith. One could say with complete confidence tuesday to team north: you just got Jimmered.

Possibly lost in the highlight show is Emery reaching significant milestones of his own. With 12:47 left in the first Jackson passed all time great Danny Ainge as the all time steals leader. He also became the 42nd cougar who have scored 1000 when he drained a three with 6:55 remaining on the clock. Emery finished the night with 20 points 3 rebounds 3 assists and 2 steals. Absolutely not a bad stat line from possibly the leagues best defender.

Cougs we got something truly special and simply amazing right in front of us that doesn't come along often. There are 7 home games remaining. Take the time, reschedule events if you need to and get out to see Jimmer and the cougar cagers while you can. Blogger Matt Jones for cbssports summed it up rather nicely: "Get out in front of the masses, upgrade your cable package and buy whatever version of the Home Shopping channel is showing his next game".

Mark your calendars. Circle the 26th. A matchup of epic proportions. Next few stops on the schedule include TCU (the 18th), Colorado State (the 22nd) and San Diego State (the 26th). The aztecs will ride into Marriott Center with a #6 ranking currently attempting to steal one away in what could be one of the biggest games on the season. Fans across the nation will be watching two top ten teams battling out for MWC supremacy. Hopefully at games end cougar fans will be able to say once again you just got Jimmered.

11 January 2011

Boylen Is Boilin

Yes, the series might be tied at 125 each. However, tonight the cougar cagers will likely be running a clinic up on the hill against team north. One can only imagine that things are getting pretty heated up in salt lake. Team north coach Jim Boylen finished last season with a disappointing 14-17 record with five players leaving the program (Jace Tavita being the most recent to transfer). Currently the yewts are also on a six game losing streak which certainly can't make things any easier on Big Jim. Unfortunately to make things worse to consider? On that losing streak it includes to Air Force who in the last two years have gone 1-31. On paper this looks like a mismatch of epic proportions. Two teams headin in different directions. One squad just cracked the top ten. That team is winning games when they sometimes haven't played a complete 40 minutes. Team north is still trying to figure out how to put together a complete forty. Until they do the yewts and Jim Boylen will be boiling.

Team north features a pair of dynamic juniors in Will Clyburn and Josh Watkins paving the way. Clyburn averages 18.8 ppg and 8.3rpg. Watkins, a sociology major is averaging 14.6 points a game. Although the yewts are horrible in the assist turnover ratio (rank 293rd in ast/TO ratio and 320th in ast per game per Wrubell). Defensive player of the year for the MWC returns in David Foster who hopes to alter some shots and disrupt some defenses.

Of course the cougs will be led by everyones All American Jimmer Fredette who averaged 30 points in the cougs victories last week. Without question Jackson Emery should also pass Danny Ainge as the schools all time steals leader. Sophomore Brandon Davies has been in double figures 11 times, including 8 of his last 9 appearances. The athletic Davies could be in for a big game considering the yewts have a soft interior defense. Come early. Wear blue. Make some noise and outdraw the yewts on their home court! As Jim would say: nice of you to show up.

08 January 2011

The Rest Of The Story

Most cougar fans will be recognize the names of Sammy Linebaugh or Toby Christensen among other names who have worked the sidelines. This next season cougar nation will become more familiar with Holly Rowe, Jenn Brown and Erin Andrews to name a few. Many fans might consider those individuals simply pretty faces or that former athlete filling in downtime during a slow game. Have any of us truly considered the amount of work that goes in behind the scenes? How do they always find that star players mother sitting on the 40 yard line section B row 34 out of 62,384 fans in the stadium? How did they know the tuba player was the running backs brother? Yes they may pop up between downs and only briefly. What do they do during their off airtime? Those individuals soon as they receive their assignments often will dive into mountains of previous stories, google every players name and begin prep work looking for possible insights that others may miss. And on gameday itself? They will begin working the lobbies and sidelines relentlessly gathering all the possible information asking the questions (team trainers, sports information directors, athletic directors, equipment managers) so us as fans will know the rest of the story.

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat may have been coined approximately fifty years ago by Roone Arledge but those words also exemplify everything that these sideline journalists bring us even today. The passion. The triumphs. The tragedies. Those slobberknocker hard hitting sounds. Things we can expect to be addressed at halftime for each of our teams. So next time we see that reporter asking the tough questions on a controversial call or relaying a simple tidbit we as fans will know the rest of the story.

07 January 2011

Band Of Brothers Origination

Artistotle the great philosopher once said "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." The men of E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne truly embraced this idea who volunteered for this elite fighting force because they wanted to be the army's best while avoid fighting alongside the unmotivated out of shape undisciplined draftees. The price they paid for that desire was long, arduous, and incredibly rigorous training, followed by some of the most horrific heated battles of World War II. The HBO mini-series Band Of Brothers is based off this group of individuals who gave their heart and soul. It's a very close and personal account, as Stephen Ambrose historian/biographer who conducted numerous interviews with the surviving members of the company and uses those interviews to get a true sense of closeness into the action who gave their everything. It highlights the triumphs, the tragedies and everything in between of that single US Army infantry company over its span formed in July 1944 and deactivated in November 1945. E Company was also one of the most successful light infantry units in the European theater that we may know today simply as a Band of Brothers.

Back in 2006 when Bronco introduced the slogan "Band of Brothers" it has proved to be quite visionary recapturing the heart and soul of the team. This season the cougar nation saw conflicts, suspensions, coaching staff changes, injuries, struggles, controversies and triumphs of a team which truly embodied this very concept. Cougar fans witnessed the change, the growth, and the emergence of a team who overcame the obstacles, odds and hurdles. There is a newfound chemistry. A team unity. A team filled with vision hungry and determined. Sometimes an entity must look to the past to find its future as a band of brothers.

06 January 2011

WCC: A Look Ahead/Overview

Next season the cougs will have a new look. Jackson Emery will have graduated and Jimmer will have taken his talents to the next level. For those who might not be completely informed here's a quick overview of what the cougs will be embracing this next season in the new conference affiliation.

Gonzaga is a private Catholic university located in Spokane Washington that was established in 1887. The campus houses 105 buildings across 131 acres along the Spokane River. The university offers 92 fields and 26 graduate programs. It ranked third in the 2009 US News and World Report for Master's Universities in the west. The basketball games are held in the McCarthey Athletic Center which seats 6000 and they like the cougs don't often lose there winning over 90 percent of the matchups coached by Mark Few. Interestingly, one of his assistants is former team north coach Ray Giacolleti. The arena opened in 2004 and has housed various events/concerts as switchfoot, yellowcard, ben folds, bill cosby and jeff foxworthy. Its school colors are blue and white. Their mascot is spike the bulldog. Most might remember names as John Stockton, Adam Morrison and Ronny Turiaf.

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) is a private Roman Catholic University based in Los Angeles that was founded in 1911. LMU was ranked 4th for "Best universities with master's programs in the west" by US News and World Report in 2008. Many will recall the 1990 hoop team led by Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble when the tragedy struck in the WCC tourney. Gathers collapsed during a game and died due to a previously diagnosed heart condition. Playing admirably for their fallen teammate, the Lions were able to advance to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual champs UNLV. The cougs hoopsters will matchup against the Lions at the Gersten Pavilion which seats 4156 built in 1981 which also serves as the part time practice home for the LA Lakers. The pavilion was also the site for the weightlifting competition of the 1984 Summer Olympics. LMU's basketball coach is Max Good who led the lions to a 18-16 record for the 2009-2010 season. The school colors are crimson and navy while its mascot is Iggy The Lion.

Pepperdine University is an independent private university 830 acre campus near Malibu California affiliated with the Churches of Christ that was established in 1937. Its school colors are blue and orange and they are known as the waves. Its mascot is Willy The Wave. The university was recently ranked by the Sears Cup as having the most successful athletic program for non football Division I schools. Many may have seen the youtube video of Keion Bell's dunk which has topped over a million views. The waves are coached by Tom Asbury who is in his eighth year with Pepperdine.

Portland University is a private Roman Catholic university located in Portland founded in 1091. It has a student body of about 3600 students. The womens soccer program has been highly successful winning the 2002 and 2005 Division I NCAA Womens Championships. The university also boasts one of the nations top NCAA Division I mens cross country teams coached by Rob Conner which has won 31 straight WCC Championships, one of the longest active conference championships streaks in the NCAA. On the national level Portland University has finished in the top ten at the NCAA Championships four times. Its colors and purple and white. The nickname is the pilots and the mascot is known as Wally The Pilot. Portland basketball coach Eric Reveno is in his fourth year with the Pilots.

Saint Mary's is a private college located in Moraga, California, a small suburban community approximately 10 miles east of Oakland and covers about 420 acres. It is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Mary's was ranked the 12th best college to fulfill a Master's Degree in the West by US News and World Report in 2009. Its hoopsters received at large bids to the big dance of March Madness in both 2005 and 2008. In 2008, the team at one point had the longest active winning streak in the nation. Its school colors and red white and blue. Saint mary's nickname is the gaels and the mascot is known as Gael Force One. The gaels basketball coach Randy Bennett is in his 9th season with the university and has guided SMC to 4 post season appearances. He has certainly helped turn a program around and restore excitement to the stands. With the team’s 28 wins in 2009-2010, Bennett has led the Gaels to three straight 25-win seasons.

San Diego University is a Roman Catholic University establied in 1949. Its motto is Emitte Spiritum Tuum which means "send forth thy spirit". The school colors are navy blue and white. Its mascot is the toreros. Jenny Craig Pavilion is a 5100 seat multi purpose arena built in 2000 and is sometimes affectionately known as the "slim gym". Coach Bill Grier is looking to rebuild from a 11-21 record in 2009-2010 season.

San Francisco University is a private Jesuit university that was founded in 1855. It is the second oldest institution for higher learning in California and the eighth largest Jesuit university in the United States. Its colors are green and gold. The mascot is the Don. The cougs will hold court at the Koret Health and Recreation Center (the Koret Center as called by the students and staff) facing off against the Dons led by coach Rex Walters and former NBA player.

Santa Clara University is a private Jesuit affiliated university founded in 1851. It is the oldest operating institution of higher learning in California and the oldest Catholic university in the west. In 2008 the mens rugby team made it to the National Playoffs before falling to Utah Valley State. Its colors are red and white while the nickname is the broncos. Its mascot is Bucky the Bronco. The broncos basketball coach Kerry Keating is in his third year.

05 January 2011

Popcorn POPPIN-GA No More

The song popcorn popping can often be heard at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Yet, popcorn was first discovered ages ago by Native Americans and as a result of a elementary school project even became the state snack food of the state of Illinois. Recently former cougar Kelly Poppinga was elevated from intern and grad assistant to the full time linebacker coach and hopes now to develop the cougs defense making opponents offensive pads snap crackle and pop. He should have plenty to work with in the linebacking corps of Jordan Pendleton, Jameson Frazier, Kyle Van Noy, Uona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree, Zac Stout in the mix. Poppinga was an All MWC linebacker for the cougs helping the jerseys in blue achieve back to back conference championships in 2006 and 2007 even leading the team with 113 tackles his senior season. The Evanston Wyoming native has also completed both a bachelors and masters degree in exercise science. "It's an honor to have the opportunity to coach at the university where I played and under Coach Mendenhall, who has been a great mentor to me," Poppinga said. "I'm excited to help our program be successful and reach our goals through football excellence. I look forward to coaching the many talented players we have at outside linebacker and help them succeed."

Photo Credit Goes To BYU File Photo

04 January 2011

Back To The Future

It was approximately ten years ago that the jerseys in blue were led by the "Domanator". Once again the cougs offense will be front and center under Brandon Doman's careful watch as it was given the Bronco stamp of approval. Coach Mendenhall was recently quoted "I believe Brandon is the best quarterbacks coach in the country and I'm excited he has accepted the opportunity to also serve as offensive coordinator. He is one of the bright young coaches in the country and the kind of person who exemplifies the core values that our program represents. He is a great teacher and mentor to all in his care, and I'm confident he will thrive in this opportunity to build upon our successes as a program and as an offensive unit.". Bronco said there was no timetable and no deadline for finalizing the rest of the staff. The cougs under Doman with talent like Heaps, Quezada, Hoffman and the rest of the cougar gridiron crew will in no time be back to the future.

Apparently there was never a desire to be elsewhere and the interview took a good three hours. Brandon was an amazing dual threat quarterback who ranks 3rd all time rushing only behind Steve Young and Virgil Carter. Doman was also one of the most efficient cougar quarterbacks ranking 4th behind McMahon, Sarkisian and Detmer. Quite a bunch of names to even be associated with. The players love him (maybe even run through brick walls for him). He clearly can recruit and understands the game in its entirety. As the cougs begin the march to independence Brandon is the right individual who will take the full potential of all the offensive players and elevate them to another plane.
"To be in a position that I am in as the offensive coordinator at this school is quite mind-boggling, and humbling for me, but I'm very excited," said Doman.

02 January 2011

Top 10 For 2010

There's another year up. Another year gone. However, there's also now a fresh new start. A time to look back and see what was. Here's the nominations for the cougs ten stories that happened in 2010.

Declaration Of Independence. Back in September the university boldly declared football independence and that it would join the WCC for the other sports. The cougs will leave the MWC but gain much more exposure with BYUtv and ESPN. Yes scheduling might be difficult but creates more opportunity to make some noise with big name games such as was announced with teams like West Virginia, Texas, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Notre Dame in its future.

Stop. Its Jimmer Time. Yes the cougs may have already known who and what Jimmer was but the nation saw simply how amazing he really is starting with dropping 49 on Arizona and leading the cougs bolding into March Madness' 2nd round scoring 37 against Florida. What was even sweeter? After flirting with the NBA option he came back to the cougs for another year.

Two Quarterback Shuffle. Two quarterbacks often mean no quarterback. A win against Washington at home may have been sweet but also prolonged the development of the future. Once the reins came off we saw the growth and emergence of a future star.

Coaching Whirlwinds Of Change. It began with Barry Lamb's retirement then worked its way to the dismissal of Jaime Hill after the humiliation of losing to little brother in Logan. That wasn't the end of it either. After the New Mexico Bowl victory the entire offensive staff was told to seek other possible employment. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae took that advise to seek a new chapter in his coaching career. More changes likely on the way and soon.

Life After Harvey. After Unga decided to seek the potential of a NFL career the cougs found their way by a backfield by committee. The trio of DiLuigi, Kariya and Quezada rushed for 19 TDs and nearly 2000 yards (1959 to be exact). It may not have been pretty at times but the jerseys in blue got things done and with the emergence of a future star in Juice.

Volleyball Visibility. Former standout Rob Neilson stands now as the interim coach as the cougs roll through its 2nd coaching change in four years. Shawn Patchell's contract wasn't renewed as the university confirmed the NCAA was looking again into possible vilations concerning scholarship money distribution. The cougs will look to regroup and should again be tough this season.

Rugby Appearance Or Not. The cougs reached the national championship and again fell to Cal this time 19-7. Perhaps the big story truly is the women who stood strong in their beliefs. The women also reached the championship game but failed to make an appearance forfeiting the contest since it was on a sunday.

Collie's Concussions. Recently the Colts placed former cougar Austin Collie on injured reserve after numerous concussions ending his 2010 campaign with 8 TDs 649 yards and a 11.2 average per reception. One can only hope that everything is physically ok with Austin now and long term. Some things are bigger than football.

Golf Gallery. Former cougs and all americans Daniel Summerhays earned his PGA card while Carrie Summerhays Roberts was hired to coach the womens team. Unfortunately the cougs also lost a legend in Karl Tucker who passed away leaving a legacy. Under Tucker the cougs won 19 WAC titles, 170 team championships including in 1981 a national championship.

Under Further Review. It was one play. Yes it may have been botched but that was in the third quarter. Could one play make the difference? Possibly but there were also 37 plays still to be made in the fourth quarter alone per the yahoo box score. That's like saying that game could have been won if the pizza would have been delivered on time.