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Tag:Chris Ault
Posted on: December 25, 2011 12:52 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 22 Southern Miss 24, Nevada 17

Posted by Chip Patterson

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON. After both teams got off to sluggish starts, Southern Mississippi was able to take advantage of a 4th down stop on defense to secure a 24-17 win in an unusually low-scoring Hawaii Bowl.

HOW SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON: After both teams entered the game with plans to crank up productive offenses, winning required big plays from defense and special teams on Saturday night. Southern Miss got a huge performance from defensive end Cordarro Law (seven tackles, two sacks) in the second half, and Austin Davis was able to deliver a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter to seal a program-best 12th win for the Golden Eagles.

WHEN SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON: With Davis held in check by Nevada's defense, the Golden Eagles did not benefit from the usual collection of big plays to fuel the offense. Luckily, the senior quarterback found Dominique Sulliivan for a 43 yard catch and run in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning touchdown. Nevada was stout on D, but the Golden Eagles kept taking shots until they hit the home-run. In a closely played defensive showdown where punts nearly match first downs, just one big play is enough to change the course of the game.

WHAT SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI WON: A program-best 12th win for the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss is not a perennial favorite, but there have been enough talented rosters come through Hattiesburg for the history-making season to mean something for the 2011 squad. Clearly the team is in a strange position with Larry Fedora on his way to Chapel Hill, but at least he stuck around to enjoy this win with his players.

WHAT NEVADA LOST: Their fourth straight game in the state of Hawaii, increasing their postseason struggles to five losses in their last six bowl appearances. Chris Ault's squad could not get over themselves and the mistakes, especially down the stretch. The Wolf Pack have been to seven straight postseasons, but the record did not get any better with the loss on Christmas Eve in Honolulu.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Despite being two of the top offensive teams in the country, both teams struggled to turn their high-powered schemes into points after the long lay-off. Maybe it was the circumstances, but it seemed like both teams got off to sluggish starts offensively, and neither was able to deliver their normal production by 2011 standards.

FINAL GRADE: C. Blocked punts in the end zone, big-time rushing performances, a one-score game in the final minutes. There war definitely enough positive aspects in this year's Hawaii Bowl to give the game some watchability, but the sluggish starts and lack of explosive plays was far from what we expected with these two squads. All in all felt very "meh" as a whole.

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 1:29 am
 

Forcier 'strongly considering' Hawaii, SJSU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

He's already moved on from Michigan and Miami, so where's Tate Forcier headed next? From the sound of it, somewhere much closer to his original San Diego home. 

According to an ESPN report Thursday, Forcier is "strongly considering" two schools--Hawaii, where he plans to visit next week, and San Jose State. He is also reportedly holds an "interest" in Nevada.

If Forcier can wrangle a scholarship offer from all three of these schools -- and it's hard to imagine they wouldn't want to take a flier on him, considering his still-remarkable exploits as a true freshman for the Wolverines -- it seems somewhat obvious which would suit him best from a football standpoint. Hawaii has made stars out of plenty of quarterbacks before, and frequently ones that haven't possessed Forcier's live and accurate arm or his outstanding mobility in the pocket; the Warriors' Bryant Moniz, for instance, didn't receive a single scholarship offer coming out of high school before leading the entire FBS in passing yards last season. 

Like the Warriors, Nevada will also offer an established program playing at the Mountain West level starting next year. But at 6'0" and 185 pounds, Forcier may not have the frame necessary to absorb the poundings taken by the quarterback in Chris Ault's option-heavy pistol offense. (Though for what it's worth, Forcier was asked to make similar option reads out of Rich Rodriguez's shotgun during his time at Michigan; we're not sure he appeared to have any particular aptitude for it, however.)

As for SJSU, the Spartans have been a WAC doormat for years and are coming off a two-year span featuring all of three wins. Those fortunes might change under second-year coach Mike MacIntyre, but even if it does, will anyone notice once the conference has waved goodbye to Hawaii, Nevada, Boise State and Fresno State? 

Again, though: that's all from a football perspective. After both Tate's and older brothers Chris and Jason Forcier's nation-spanning careers (including collective stops at UCLA, Stanford, Michigan and Furman) family concerns -- not to mention academic concerns, after Tate's classroom issues in Ann Arbor -- may come first. And if that's the case, all bets are off.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:56 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 12:01 pm
 

Nevada's Wimberly out of ICU

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Brandon Wimberly, a wide receiver for Nevada who was shot in the abdomen over a week ago and is suffering serious injuries, has been removed from the ICU. He was taken out of the unit Sunday, though there is still no word on when Wimberly will be able to leave the hospital.

“He’s still in the hospital, but he is doing better," Nevada coach Chris Ault told the Reno Gazette-Journal while visiting Wimberly at the hospital Monday. "He's walked a little bit. He’s making some good improvement now and there’s certainly some reason for optimism.

“He’s a little more clear-headed now. He's certainly still in some pain and it's still a pretty serious thing, but yesterday we had some good conversations and he's a lot more alert than he was. Right now, they're focusing on giving his body enough medication to heal and get a little better every day. But these last couple of days have been really good." 

Wimberly, the former WAC Freshman of the Year, was out with fellow members of the football team when they got into an argument with another group early on the morning of June 18. After the argument, Wimberly approached a car carrying the other group when he was shot in the abdomen.

While he's recovering from his wounds, and the fact he's been removed from the ICU is good news, it's not expected that Wimberly will ever be able to play football again. 

Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:20 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings: Happy marriages or honeymoons?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Dennis Dodd posted his annual list of Hot Seat Ratings today, so if you haven't perused them all, do so at once. At once, I say! Right now, let's focus on some of the untouchables, the 32 coaches who scored a 0.0-0.5 rating. Suffice it to say none of them are getting fired this year (or even next) without a major, unforeseeable catastrophe befalling the program. But past that, what coaches are truly untouchable, and who's just still on a honeymoon? Here's a look at 15 of those coaches, five for each category in the schools' alphabetical order, listed with Dodd's hot seat ratings.

THE HONEYMOONERS

Gene Chizik, Auburn, 0.0: Hear me out. Chizik is absolutely a 0.0 on Dodd's scale this year, and he would be even if the NCAA somehow finds a way to make Auburn vacate the 2010 BCS Championship (though that seems extremely unlikely at this juncture). But Auburn is expected to struggle this year, and while it's easy now to say that the title has earned Chizik a five-year grace period, what happens if Gus Malzahn gets a high-major head coaching offer and Kiehl Frazier doesn't pan out? If Auburn struggles through two straight .500 seasons and Malzahn takes off, that 0.0 turns into a 2.0 pretty soon.
Will Muschamp, Florida, 0.5: Muschamp is one of the most dynamic and promising new head coaches in the last decade or so, but the fact remains that he's a 39-year-old, first-year head coach at a "win right now" program. Oh, and John Brantley is still his quarterback. If Muschamp can't get his Gators back above the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC East pecking order, his seat's going to ignite in a hurry.
Chip Kelly, Oregon, 0.0: The other coach coming off a 2010 BCS Championship berth also has two things working against him: a track record of only two seasons as head coach, and the possibility of major NCAA violations. For Kelly, the worry is more the latter than the former, and depending on where this business with Willie Lyles and Lache Seastrunk's recruitment ends up, Kelly could find himself in way more hot water than a 22-4 coach has any right to be. That's all "ifs" right now though, so for now, the honeymoon is still on.
Doug Marrone, Syracuse, 0.5: Marrone enters his third year with the Orange after guiding the once-proud program to a 36-34 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State last year -- Syracuse's first bowl win since 2001. He's got a solid core of skill players back, but the overall talent level at Syracuse is still low enough that a moderate rash of injuries could be enough to plunge Syracuse back to the level of 3-5 wins in 2011, and that's a good way to snap fans back into remembering that the Pinstripe Bowl is just... the Pinstripe Bowl. Marrone's still got a lot of work to do.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington, 0.5: Like Marrone, Sarkisian has performed the rather remarkable feat of turning around a program that had been mired in sub-mediocrity for the majority of the '00s. But like Marrone, the program's talent level isn't BCS-caliber yet, and unlike Marrone, Sark has to contend with losing a first-round draft pick senior quarterback, Jake Locker. Further, Washington's road schedule is brutal this year; the Huskies'll probably have to win at least two home games between California, Arizona, and Oregon just to get back to .500.

HAPPILY MARRIED

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State, 0.5: That Bobby Bowden transition wasn't so bad after all, was it? That's because Fisher guided FSU to 10 wins in his very first year... unlike the last six years of the Bowden era. Seminole fans are going to start raising expectations to the levels of the mid-'90s, so four losses and an ACC Championship loss aren't going to cut it forever, but Fisher's recruiting well enough to restore FSU to glory quickly.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 0.5: How comfortably ensconced at Iowa is Ferentz? He's been coaching at Iowa for 12 years, and in seven of them, Iowa has suffered at least five losses. Ferentz runs a clean coaching staff, but there have been a couple isolated stretches of off-field embarrassments for the Hawkeyes -- and the rhabdo case certainly didn't help matters. But he's well-loved in Iowa City all the same, and the fact that he has turned down offers from Michigan and several NFL teams is not lost on Iowa fans or administrators. Moreover, his teams haven't been bad since his first two years on campus, and he's producing a double-digit win season once per three years; if he keeps that pace up, he'll be at Iowa for as long as he wants.
Charlie Strong, Louisville, 0.5: Strong has only been at Louisville for one season, but he's already got a winning season under his belt (unlike the disastrous reign of his predecessor, Steve Kragthorpe), and he's recruiting well enough (in particular, QB signee Teddy Bridgewater) to keep Louisville winning in perpetuity. If Strong leaves, it's because a powerhouse came calling; he's legit, and everybody at Louisville knows it. If he delivers a BCS win, you can move him into the last category here.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 0.5: Dantonio has been more successful at Michigan State than Nick Saban was. Mark Dantonio is therefore a better coach than Nick Saban. QED. If Dantonio can avoid any more health scares and start routinely challenging for Big Ten (sigh) Legends division championships, he's set for life in East Lansing. Easier said than done with Nebraska coming to town and Michigan likely to rebound from the recent swoon, though.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska, 0.5: Bo Pelini has done a fine job in his first three years as Nebraska head coach, and on first glance, it appears the young coach is the perfect candidate to lead the Huskers into the Big Ten. There's been an odd sense of impermanence from Pelini's stay at Nebraska though; it's unclear whether it comes from his tempermental sideline behavior (and his brother's) or his itinerant career thus far -- this fourth season as Huskers head coach makes this the longest coaching job Pelini has ever held. Whatever it is, he seems to lack the stable, staid nature of his longer-tenured fellow coaches. That's not insignificant; if a coach can make his fans and boosters believe he's got everything under control when things go south for a year or two, his seat can stay nice and cool for longer. Pelini is respected, but he's not quite there yet.

YOU'LL HAVE TO PRY THEM FROM OUR COLD DEAD HANDS

Nick Saban, Alabama, 0.0: Saban delivered a national championship to Tuscaloosa in his second year there, and his Crimson Tide have finished with three straight AP Top 10 finishes. He's the highest-paid coach in college football for a reason: he earns it.
Chris Peterson, Boise State, 0.5: Peterson basically ruined the WAC for everybody else, going 61-5 as Boise's head man. Sure, you can wonder where he'd be without Kellen Moore, but Peterson did beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with Jared Zabransky behind center. Now that Utah and TCU are both running off to BCS conferences, expect Boise to dominate the Mountain West for as long as Peterson's there.
Chris Ault, Nevada, 0.0: If this scale could go into negative numbers, Ault would be at least a -10. He's a College Football Hall of Famer who has overseen Nevada's rise from Division II to the upper echelon of the FBS mid-majors. Ault is a true Nevada lifer: he played QB for the Wolfpack in the '60s, and he's on his 26th year as a head coach with the program (his 39th overall in some facet with the Nevada athletic department). He is never, ever, ever getting fired. 
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 0.0: Fitzgerald just signed a contract extension that has 10 years on it, but is a de facto lifetime contract. He'll probably be in Evanston for at least the next 20 years. Seems crazy to say something like that about Northwestern football, doesn't it? But here it is and here we are.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 0.0: The Hokies owe as much to Beamer as just about any program and current coach in the country (other than the aforementioned Nevada and Ault or Penn State and Joe Paterno, who might as well get the school named after him upon retirement). When the ACC realigned in 2005 to include a championship game, the divisions were set up to ensure the possibility of Miami and FSU meeting every season. Instead, it's been Virginia Tech dominating the conference, appearing in four of six championship games and winning three. The ACC is Frank Beamer's conference, so the very notion of a hot seat for Beamer is essentially unimaginable.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:48 am
 

Bowl Grades: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Nevada shut down an anemic Boston College offense en route to a 20-13 win.

Nevada

Offense: Rishard Matthews had two first-quarter scores, but the Nevada offense was uncharacteristically subdued today, largely due to three turnovers -- two interceptions and a lost fumble. Still, Nevada had to punt seven times (Nevada typically punts fewer than three times a game), and scored less than half its usual amount of points. Vai Taua was held in check, with 76 yards on 22 carries, and Colin Kaepernick had a positively pedestrian performance in this, his last game as a Wolf. 20-33 for under 200 yards and only one score usually won't cut it; Nevada was fortunate to be facing Boston College. Grade: C-

Defense: Nevada typically isn't thought of as a defensive powerhouse, but it's actually not that bad. From a total yardage standpoint, Nevada's pretty middle of the road, but the Wolf Pack only gives up about 22 points a game -- second only to Boise State in the pinball-scoreboard WAC. Tonight, Nevada was all over Boston College's rushing attack, giving up 30 yards on one rush and 34 yards on the other 24 rushes combined. The Wolf Pack secondary forced two interceptions from Chase Rettig and could have had three or four more; Rettig's passes were frequently deflected or otherwise found a defender's hands. Boston College had one drive of over 30 yards all day long. That's more than you can ask from a defense -- dropped interceptions aside. Grade: A-

Coaching: It's not exactly an indictment of Chris Ault if his players weren't amped up for today's game. BC was 7-5 in a very unimpressive ACC this season, and didn't look like a worthy opponent for the champion of a conference that boasted 10-win teams Nevada, Boise State, and Hawaii among its members.  Moreover, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl came 36 days after Nevada's last game, so there's always going to be some rust with that long of a layoff -- as was evident during this game. But Nevada looked pretty well-prepared, and Ault's play calls were fine. They were conservative, sure, but conservative wins games when leading against an inferior opponent. Really, this game wasn't nearly as close as the seven-point margin would indicate; only the turnovers kept the game "in doubt," and last we checked, Ault wasn't the one giving the ball up. Play calling is more than "you should throw a touchdown here and not an interception," after all. Grade: B

Boston College

Offense: Chase Rettig tries hard, and he tried hard for all four quarters today. Now, whenever it's necessary to mention that a player "plays hard," it's a safe assumption he just had a terrible game, and that's what happened here. Rettig's final stats were 14-34 for 121 yards and two interceptions, good for a 59.3 passer rating. Worse yet, he spent most of the game with a lower rating, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter that he stayed above three yards per pass attempt. And again, it could have been worse; Nevada should have had somewhere between three and five interceptions on the day. It didn't help that Andre Williams contributed a 30-yard rushing score and basically little else, of course, nor that the Eagle offense was painfully predictable (oh, we're getting to that). Still, this was a painfully bad offensive performance, to the point that head coach Frank Spaziani himself called it "anemic" during his halftime interview, and considering what gifts Nevada gave BC with its turnovers (an interception returned to the Nevada 6-yard line resulted in a field goal, for crying out loud), the Eagles really had no business scoring only 13 points. Grade: F

Defense: Aside from Boise State, Boston College might have the best front seven Nevada faced all year, and it was immediately evident. Nevada rushed for 114 yards, including 76 for Taua and 22 for Kaepernick. If it hadn't been for a 51-yard performance by Taua against Eastern Washington in a warmup at the beginning of the year, all three of those numbers would be season lows. All-American LB Luke Kuechly had an interception and a boatload of tackles for the Eagles, and BC frequently and reliably moved the point of attack backwards on defense when Nevada tried rushing the ball. The secondary struggled at times, though, especially on throws to the sideline. Grade: B

Coaching: Eagles fans were understandably upset with their team's play-calling, and rightfully so; it's infuriating to watch a straight-laced, run-run-third-and-long offense when the other team has a quarterback like Kaepernick and a fun system like Ault's pistol offense. The fact is, though, that Spaziani really doesn't have much talent on offense (especially with dynamic starting tailback Montel Harris still out with injury), and his defensive planning and second-half adjustments were praise-worthy. Boston College needs players on offense, plain and simple. Grade: C-

Final Grade

This practice of scheduling minor bowl games for January dates -- historically the province of only high-profile bowls -- could end today, and no college football fan would be upset. This bowl game was laughably bad, particularly when Boston College was on offense, and the fact that it comes on the eve of the national championship seems like cruel and unusual punishment. During the game, when the Kraft commercial featuring the dulcet-toned former homeless man Ted Williams finally aired, the prevailing sentiment on Twitter was that it was the unquestioned highlight of the game. It was that bad. At the very least, Boston College's defense helped get the game back to a one-possession contest, but this was the most lopsided seven-point game in recent memory. Thankfully, it's over, and real January football can be played. Grade: D- and only because it was close


Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:44 am
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