Tag:LSU
Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:12 pm
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LSU TE Peterson questions BCS play-calling

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As historically dominant as Alabama's defense was in 2011, the consensus among LSU fans -- or anyone who watched the BCS national title game, really -- has been that the Crimson Tide got plenty of help in New Orleans from a Tiger offensive braintrust that didn't do their own team any favors. But as now ex-Tiger tight end DeAngelo Peterson has made clear with his comments at the Senior Bowl, it's not just the fans that feel that way.

"The game plan we were working on before the game, I don't think we used it," he told reporters after Senior Bowl practices Tuesday. "I don't think we used it ... I felt we were going to run all the plays we'd been practicing, but they really were calling none of it. I just think the playmakers on offense, they didn't really have a chance to make any plays. That's the big thing that bothers me. We didn't have the opportunity."

Peterson added that he wasn't alone in being frustrated.

"The play-calling bothered the whole offense," he said. "They were doing stuff that we never did all year. The game plan was to spread the ball out, get the ball to me, get the ball to Rueben (Randle), let Russell (Shepard) run the ball every now and then, give the ball to our running backs. In that game, Russell played like two plays, Rueben had like one ball, I had one ball ... I feel like if they had went to the game plan and given the playmakers the ball, they would have done something with the ball."

Peterson felt free to speak his mind during the season as well. But he isn't the first departed LSU senior to publicly question the offensive coaching during the Tigers' BCS meltdown. Quarterback Jarrett Lee said at his own all-star game appearance he "could have been given ... an opportunity to come in and get something going, you know, give them, Alabama, something else to worry about." In the game's immediate aftermath, guard Will Blackwell described the choice between Lee and starter Jordan Jefferson as a "pick-your-poison kind of deal" before saying the coaches "picked the wrong one."

The good news for Les Miles is that to-date, the Tigers still on LSU's roster haven't expressed such doubts in the media, sparing Miles the awkwardness of potential suspensions or other punishments. (Shepard might be viewed as the exception after temporarily declaring for the Draft on Twitter, but now that he's safely back in the fold, that teapot-tempest already appears over.) The bad news is that even if they haven't expressed those doubts publicly, the agreement between the LSU seniors suggests that silence doesn't mean those doubts aren't there. It doesn't help Miles that the seniors have a point: weapons like Randle and Shepard should have gotten the ball more often, Lee should have seen at least a series or two, the play-calling was completely unimaginative.

It's bad enough to lose a national title game that ruins what could have been one of the all-time great seasons in college football. But if the Tigers continue to struggle offensively in 2012 -- with Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa retained to run the offense for a second year -- and those quiet doubts are allowed to fester, the fallout from that fateful night in the Superdome could make that terrible defeat that much more terrible.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 5:15 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 5:17 pm
 

SEC West coordinator hires: thumbs up or down?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. First, the West:

ALABAMA

2011: Jim McElwain offensive coordinator, Kirby Smart defensive.
Departures: McElwain accepted the job as Colorado State head coach.
2012: McElwain has been replaced by Washington OC Doug Nussmaier.

Thumbs up/down? Firmly up. Some of that is the hire of Nussmaier, who -- once freed from trying to turn Jake Locker into the efficient college QB he was never going to be -- coaxed Keith Price into becoming one of 2011's breakout stars and the Huskies to a 24th-place finish in yards-per-play. (It doesn't hurt that Nussmaier cut his coordinating teeth in the same Fresno State program McElwain did.) But even bigger was that the Tide retained the services of Smart for another year, despite his having overseen a 2011 'Bama defense that merely ranked among the best the game has ever seen.

ARKANSAS

2011: Garrick McGee offensive, Willy Robinson defensive.
Departures: McGee took the UAB head coaching positionRobinson resigned after four up-and-down years in Fayetteville.
2012: Paul Petrino returns to his brother's staff as OC after two seasons at Illinois; Paul Haynes arrives as DC after seven years at Ohio State.

Thumbs up/down? Up. It's hard to imagine a snugger fit for the offense than the same person who ran it for two successful seasons in 2008 and 2009. Haynes is unproven as a defensive play-caller -- Jim Heacock handled those duties for the Buckeyes -- but there's no arguing with the overall defensive success OSU experienced during Haynes' stay in Columbus. Anything approaching a Buckeye-esque D in 2012 will be a big improvement on the Robinson era.

AUBURN

2011: Gus Malzahn offensive, Ted Roof defensive.
Departures: Malzahn is now the head coach at Arkansas State; Roof avoided a potential dismissal by first taking the UCF DC's job, then rejoining old Duke colleague Bill O'Brien at Penn State.
2012: Temple OC and longtime Michigan/Florida QB coach Scot Loeffler will run the offenseAtlanta Falcons DC Brian VanGorder the defense.

Thumbs up/down? Up. VanGorder is a smash hire with a successful track record both in the NFL and the SECthe sort of coach who should return the Tigers' defense to respectability in a hurry. Loeffler is a young, highly respected up-and-comer who's been due for an OC gig like Auburn's, but his pro-style leanings and early talk about "helping our defense and special teams" signals a wrenching shift in philosophy from Malzahn's no-huddle spread. Is he sharp enough to overcome what could be some serious transitional hiccups?

LSU

2011: Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa offensive, John Chavis defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Up. Despite the horrorshow put on by the Tigers in the BCS national title game, after a 13-0 regular season (and 17th-place finish in scoring offense) Les Miles is entirely justified in looking to tweak the LSU play-calling rather than overhaul it. And Chavis, of course, continues to quietly roll along as one of the college game's most productive assistants.

OLE MISS

2011: David Lee offensive, Tyrone Nix defensive.
Departures: Both Lee and Nix, swept out along with Houston Nutt.
2012: Hugh Freeze brought Arkansas State DC Dave Wommack with him while hiring former Rebel OC Dan Werner out of college-coaching retirement.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively down, which is not to say there aren't positives. Freeze will have a heavy hand in running the Rebel offense, so Werner's time away from the game won't hurt much, and the veteran is highly familiar with both the Mississippi recruiting trails and the Rebel program. Wommack, meanwhile, enjoyed an excellent 2011 season overseeing a resurgent Red Wolves defense. But both coaches' resumes are more solid than spectacular; for a head coach (and a program) with plenty of question marks of his (and its) own to answer, a legitimate needle-moving hire would have been helpful.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

2011: Les Koenning offensive, Chris Wilson defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Wilson's first season in charge of the Bulldog D (after a promotion from coaching the defensive line) was promising, with a rapidly-improving unit holding four of their final six FBS opponents under 4 yards per-play. But the Bulldog offense was a disappointment, finishing ninth in both total yards and yards per-play in conference games; though Dan Mullen's close oversight of the offense means Koenning can't be blamed for those struggles, you could argue a switch might have given the Bulldog O a spark this offseason ... even if we won't.

TEXAS A&M

2011: Mike Sherman as his own OC, Tim DeRuyter defensive.
Departures: The fired Sherman, obviously. DeRuyter landed on his feet as the Fresno State head coach.
2012: Kevin Sumlin brought Houston co-OC Kliff Kingsbury with him as play-caller and hired Mark Snyder away from USF as DC.

Thumbs-up/down? Up. Though the Sumlin/Kingsbury tag team may miss Jason Phillips (the Cougars' other co-OC, now at SMU), it's hard to argue with Sumlin over any plan for his offense, given what he (with Kingsbury's help) accomplished at Houston. Snyder, meanwhile, bolstered an often-sloppy USF defense into the FBS top 15 in yards-per-play each of his two years in Tampa and brings head coaching experience from his time at Marshall. Barring hiring someone like VanGorder for the defense, it's hard to see how Sumlin could have done much better for the kind of program he wants to build -- in either slot -- than he did.

Tomorrow: the East. For all of Eye on CFB's SEC coverage, click here.

Thanks to TeamSpeedKills' helpful "Coaching Carousel Scorecard." 

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 3:18 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 6:46 pm
 

The SEC responds to Joe Paterno's death

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Responses to the death of Joe Paterno have been pouring out from across the country, and the SEC hasn't been any different.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier issued a statement through the university, which reads:  

"I have the utmost respect and admiration for Joe Paterno. I've coached around 300 college games and only once when I've met the other coach at midfield prior to the game have I asked a photographer to take a picture of me with the other coach. That happened in the Citrus Bowl after the '97 season when we were playing Penn State. I had one of our university photographers take the picture with me and Coach Paterno, and I still have that photo in the den at my house. That's the admiration I have for Joe Paterno. It was sad how it ended, but he was a great person and coach."

Nick Saban spoke to ESPN Sunday morning about the loss of the Nittany Lion legend, and the Birmingham News transcribed his comments:

"Joe Paterno gave his life to college football ... He gave his life to the players and college football.
"Not just at Penn State, but when I was the head coach at Michigan State, we had a player who could get a sixth year because of an injury, and Joe was the head of the committee. He got it done for the player, and that player actually ran a touchdown against them that could have cost them the game later that season.
"But never I never doubted with him that he was going to do what was best for college football, and the players that played it, and I think that should be his legacy ..
"Probably as much as anything what we all try to get as coaches, a well-disciplined team that gives tremendous effort, plays physical, has the ability to execute down-in and down-out and play winning football.
"And when you played Joe's teams, that's exactly what you were playing against. They always had real good athletes, but to me it was the level they performed at that was indicative of the kind of program that he ran, the kind of influence that he had on the players."

Saban's counter at Auburn, Gene Chizik, also released a statement:

“Coach Paterno is one of the greatest coaches in all of sport, and his achievements in college football may never be surpassed. More important is the lasting impact he left with the countless players who played for him. I’m saddened of the news of Coach Paterno’s passing and my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Paterno family.”

Paterno also received a tribute from one of the conference's most respected former coaches, with retired Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks sending out the following tweet:

 

It's not just the SEC's coaches expressing their respects, either. Not every tweet issued by swaggering Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu could be called "respectful," but this one ...

 

... certainly can be.

During his 45-year head coaching career, Paterno squared off against the SEC's current 14 squads in 16 different bowl games, including two Sugar Bowl classics (1978 vs. Alabama, a 14-7 loss, and 1982 vs. Georgia, a 27-23 win) that stand as two of the most memorable games of his entire tenure. He finished with an 11-5 record in those 16 bowls.

Since Paterno's hire in 1966, the current 14 members of the SEC have been coached by 110 different head coaches (not counting interim coaches), an average of 7.9 coaches per team. 

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 2:31 pm
 

A first look at 2012's returning starters

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's never, ever too early to talk about the next college football season once the previous one has passed. But it's a lot less too early once the deadline for NFL Draft declarations has passed and teams can enjoy an accurate -- or at least semi-accurate -- gauge of what their returning talent will look like next season.

Thanks to data-cruncher Phil Steele, we can enjoy that same semi-accurate gauge. As he does every January -- among the teams predicted for big things at this time last year were Michigan, Alabama and Vanderbilt -- Steele has released a comprehensive list of FBS returning starters for 2012, ranking each team 1-123. Yes, 123, thanks to the arrivals of UT-San Antonio, Texas State and UMass; Larry Coker's UTSA Roadrunners even top the list with 23 total returning starters (11 offensive, 10 defensive, and both specialists) as they ready for their first WAC season.

But of course, UTSA has its work cut out for it to make an impact, no matter how experienced its players might be. Among programs college football fans are more familiar with, here's the numbers and teams from Steele's data that stand out:

  • Sharing the lead amongst all BCS programs are Texas Tech and Tennessee with 20 starters each, including quarterbacks Seth Doege and Tyler Bray, respectively. If Red Raider and Volunteer third-year coaches Tommy Tuberville and Derek Dooley can't turn that kind of experience into a better year 3 than their collective Year 2's, neither one should be surprised if they don't receive a Year 4.
  • Never say never with Chris Petersen still around, but this looks like the season Boise State's incredible run of dominance and top-10 finishes comes to a halt. The Broncos rank dead-last, rock-bottom, with just 6 starters coming back--3 offensive 2 defensive, and (infamous) kicker Dan Goodale. (Then again, in the newly TCU-less Mountain West, will anyone stop them regardless? The league leader in returning starters is Colorado State, with no other MWC program ranked higher than Fresno State at 29th.)
  • It's possible Badger fans will rue their back-to-back failures at the Rose Bowl even more than they do already; with just 10 returning starters, Wisconsin ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten and 116th overall. Big Ten fans should instead gear up now for an even-more-critical Ohio State-Michigan game than usual; the Buckeyes are second in the league behind Indiana with 18 starters, and the Wolverines are tied with Nebraska for third with 16.
  • The Vols, Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt top the SEC list -- with 18 starters or more, all rank among the nation's 19 most experienced teams -- which means the league could see a more topsy-turvy season than usual; despite their cavalcade of young talent LSU returns just 5 defensive starters, national champions Alabama just 4. Despite major losses on the offensive line, Georgia looks poised to field the conference's best defense, with nine starters coming back for a unit already ranked fifth in the FBS.
  • Why is USC getting so much early preseason love? Pretty simple: of the 10 teams listed in Bruce Feldman's early-bird top 10, the Trojans are one of just two to have as many as 17 returning starters. The other is Oklahoma, and since the Sooners finished the year getting chewed up and spit out by Oklahoma State while the Trojans were busy upsetting Oregon in Eugene and annihilating UCLA, it's not hard to see why voters might go for the former.
  • Poor Al Golden: not only is his Miami team still laboring under the weight of the Nevin Shapiro allegations, not only do they rank 96th nationally and tie for next-to-last in the ACC with 12 returning starters, but according to Steele's data the Hurricanes are -- amazingly -- the only ACC team to not return its starting quarterback for next season. 
  • Gus Malzahn is going to be one of the FBS's most closely watched mid-major head coaches after his move from Auburn, and with six returning starters including QB Ryan Aplin on offense, the Red Wolves should be fine on that side of the ball. But with just three starters back on defense, ASU ranks 116th overall and last in the Sun Belt in total starters returning. Opposite Malzahn's punishing up-tempo attack, we'd like to place an early wager on the Red Wolves as one the nation's statistically weakest D's in 2012 ... and on Malzahn needing at least two years to return ASU to last year's championship perch.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:20 pm
 

Gamecock trustee: count cross-division games less

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One South Carolina Board of Trustees member has a proposal to solve the "problem" of his Gamecocks missing out on the 2011 SEC championship game to Georgia, despite beating the Bulldogs head-to-head: make East division games like that one count more than the cross-divisional games that cost Carolina the East title.

That board member, Chuck Allen, recently asked Gamecock athletic director Eric Hyman to request the SEC count intra-divisional games as a full game in the standings and cross-divisional games as only a half-game. If put into practice, the change would have given the 2011 Gamecocks -- 5-0 against the East, but just 1-2 against the West, including a road loss to an Arkansas team Georgia missed -- a trip to Atlanta.

“This (proposal) takes the randomness out of the non-divisional schedule,” Allen told the Anderson (S.C.) Independent Mail. “It doesn’t eliminate it, but it does reduce it. It just seems fair that the team that won all its division games would be the division champ.”

Per Allen, Hyman is expected to pass on the proposal when the SEC convenes to develop a schedule for 2013 and its permanent cross-divisional rotations. Allen (and Hyman) are no doubt just as unhappy with the league's cross-divisional matchups for 2012, though, as they were for 2011, since the projected gap in the difficulty of the Gamecocks' and Bulldogs' respective West opponents has only gotten worse; Carolina will take on the Razorbacks and defending SEC champion LSU (both of which feature in Bruce Feldman's early 2012 top 10) while Georgia gets Auburn and Ole Miss.

“When I talked to (Hyman) his response to me was that he never contemplated it and so he said, ‘Yes, it sounds like a good idea,'" Allen said. "'If you’ll put it in writing (Hyman said), I’ll use it as a vehicle and take it to the conference meeting and we’ll introduce the proposal, argue for it and see what we can do.’”

According to the SEC, though, what the Gamecocks "can do" in the way of overhauling a system that's been in place since the league's 1992 divisional split is "not much." League associate commissioner Charles Bloom said point-blank he does not expect the measure to gain much traction. 

“The philosophy of the league has always been that all conference games are weighted the same,” he told The State newspaper.

We're not unsymapthetic towards Allen and Hyman in this situation; it's not entirely fair that the Gamecocks swept the East and still didn't win the division, and it's not entirely fair they've drawn the Bayou Bengals in the SEC's one-off 2012 schedule while Georgia's hosting the downtrodden Rebels. But our estimate of the number of things in college football that aren't entirely fair checks in at a round 8 bajillion, and we doubt Allen and Hyman are going to ask for all 8 bajillion to be corrected. 

Eventually, inevitably, the league's cross-divisional rotation and West opponent strength will cycle around to give the Gamecocks an edge over the rest of the East, Bulldogs included; will Allen and Hyman still want to make cross-divisional games count less at that point? We seriously doubt it. 

Want more on Gamecocks football? Follow our South Carolina CBSSports.com RapidReports by writer Josh Ward. 

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:05 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 3:06 pm
 

PODCAST: 2011 College Football Season Wrapup

Posted by Adam Jacobi

J. Darin Darst and Adam Aizer give some final thoughts on the BCS Championship Game and the 2011 season as a whole. The SEC dominated again, USC is back and conference expansion is annoying. The guys also look at some recent coaching news. Will Brent Venables be a good hire for Clemson? Did Wisconsin take a risk by hiring Matt Canada as offensive coordinator? 

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:47 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 3:02 pm
 

Tide NT Chapman played 7 games with torn ACL

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was already safe to say that Alabama senior nose tackle Josh Chapman -- the anchor for one of the greatest rush defenses of college football's past decade -- was one of the nation's best players this past season. It turns out he may also have been one of the toughest.

Chapman revealed Wednesday that he had undergone knee surgery the previous day and would be missing both the Senior Bowl and most of the upcoming NFL Draft Combine. The surgery repaired both a torn ACL and a torn meniscus in his left knee.

But neither the details of nor the fallout from Chapman's injury are nearly as attention-grabbing as when that injury occurred: October 1, in the Crimson Tide's 38-10 victory over Florida. 

"Normally I can deal with pain pretty well, but after three days I needed an MRI," Chapman told the Birmingham News. "Dr. (LyleCain said he's never seen a guy that can have a torn ACL and still stay that stable."

How stable? Despite the injury, Chapman missed just one of the Tide's final eight games, an intended light workout vs. FCS Georgia Southern that turned much more serious when -- thanks in part to Chapman's absence -- the triple-option Eagles ran for a stunning 302 yards.

The late surgery won't allow Chapman to be at his best for the pro scouts, but given what was at stake for the Tide, he says he never considered a premature end to his senior season.

"I didn't really want to give up like that," he said. "I enjoyed playing. As long as it stayed right, I could play."

Chapman played all right, returning from the absence vs. GSU to help the Tide allow zero offensive points over their final eight quarters (Auburn scored touchdowns on defense and special teams) and win the national title. Despite finishing the season with just 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, and one sack, Chapman is still ranked the 77th prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com, the 20th-best defensive tackle, and a possible second-round selection.

Not bad for a guy playing on one knee for two-thirds of the season.

Eye on CFB named Chapman to its 2011 All-SEC team. See who else made the cut by clicking here.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Miles denies rumors of BCS pregame conflict

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

So why did Les Miles elect to keep Jarrett Lee rooted to the bench during the BCS title game as Jordan Jefferson flailed his way through the flailingest quarterback performance since, well, his performance against Georgia*? 

It made little-to-no sense, and like most things in college football that make little-to-no sense, rumors and theories have popped up in the game's wake to explain Miles's decision--most of them claiming that Miles faced a minor player revolt in support of Lee just before kickoff, and responded by throwing his own support behind Jefferson as feverishly as ever.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the BCS title game, Miles addressed those rumors, and predictably squashed them.

"Not at all," Miles said when asked if there was any truth behind the speculation. "We took the field just like we always have. There's never been any issue prior to a game. 

"There has never been a player-coach interaction before or after a game that was negative," he added.

Miles instead reiterated his postgame stance that he felt Jefferson's advantage in mobility vs. the Alabama pass rush simply made him the better choice. "We needed someone who could move his feet," Miles said.

Will that be enough to quell the rumors? It's not likely--not when, immobile feet or not, the Tiger offense was crying out for a quarterback who could get the ball downfield and loosen up the Tide front. That quarterback was Lee, especially given how lost Jefferson looked. Given Miles' history as a coach who prefers to juggle quarterbacks over sticking with one guy come hell-or-high-water-or-Alabama's-2011-defense, it's hard not to think some kind of off-field development shaded his thinking in some fashion.

But will we ever truly know for certain one way or the other? That's even less likely.

Miles also addressed several other topics Tuesday:

-- On star quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel's departure for Notre Dame after a previous commitment to LSU: ""There's a guy in the Midwest that's staying close to home. I understand that very much. This recruiting class will still be the style of class that we've had in years past."

-- On whether the ascension of projected 2012 starter Zach Mettenberger might lead to a shift in offensive philosophy:  "We'll throw the football more ... We'll have a guy who can scramble, but he'll throw the football for a greater percentage."

-- On Lee's excellent performance (13 of 18, 176 yards, 2 TDs) at a recent All-Star game: "I understand he did well, and I think that's great." 

*In retrospect, Jefferson's 5-for-13, 2.3 yards-per-attempt outing against the Bulldogs should have been treated as a much bigger red flag than it was.  

All quotes via reporter Glenn Guilbeau's CBSSports.com LSU RapidReports. Follow them for up-to-the-minute LSU updates and analysis here.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com