Mattison: "Our first and second teams get equal reps all week"

According to Greg Mattison, one thing that Brady Hoke has always done as a head coach is split reps between the first and second string during practice, so that when the second string is called on during the game, they know that the expectations don't change.

"The way that we practice is that the first and second units get equal reps throughout the practice." Mattison said yesterday.

"You're always measured by the expectations for the position. It doesn't matter if your a freshman or a guy that's third team...all of a sudden your second team, all of a sudden your first team." Mattison explained.

That approach has helped ensure that there is not a huge drop off when a starter has to come off the field.

"I think that's something that Brady has always implemented and it's unbelievable how it keeps coming through. By getting all these reps for the second unit, equal to the first, that whenever the time comes, they're closer to being ready."

This approach may be one that is looked at even closer by staffs (if they haven't already) with this season's helmet rule that states that players helmet comes off they have to leave the game for a play. As coordinators, many of us will dial up a play that goes right at the substituted player, challenging him to a make or break type play.

With their approach at Michigan, you can bet that the guy that comes on the field after that type of situation will be prepared.

How many other schools out there are splitting their reps right down the middle? It seems that most coaches go with an 80/20 or 70/30 split for their starters. Let us know your thoughts.

The advantage of coordinating from the press box

After the Buckeyes scored against Purdue on Saturday with three seconds left, a decision had to be made. Do you give the ball to your 240 pound running back, or throw the ball with your backup quarterback for the two point conversion to send the game into overtime?

The offensive line and running back wanted the game on their shoulders, and told the coaching staff to run behind them for the points. But offensive coordinator Tom Herman was up in the press box with a different perspective, away from the emotion on the sidelines.

“The sterility of the press box allows you not to get caught up in the emotion,” Herman explained after the game."

"It allows you not to get caught up in the moment and how big the moment is and be able to say, ‘Guys, I’ve got (the play call) right here. We’ve been practicing it for three weeks and it’s right here in front of me.’”

“That was our two-point play and I didn’t care if the O-line wanted to run it. I didn’t care if Carlos Hyde wanted to run it. This was what we had all agreed upon as a staff on Thursday for the last five weeks. I know everybody was excited and their hearts were racing, but, ‘Hey, I’ve got it right here. This is what we practiced, so this is what I think we should probably do.’”

Herman added that his ability to pick his battles earlier in the season with head coach Urban Meyer may have led to the approval on the play call.

“Had I been fighting for everything that I had wanted for nine weeks, that one might not have gotten approved. So you pick your battles.”

The perspective from the press box can prove to be beneficial for many coordinators, and for Herman and the Buckeyes, the perspective clearly contributed to the win.

“I think that’s the beauty of being in that sterile environment in the press box is not getting caught up in the emotion and the enormity of the play, and really be able to calmly dissect what needs to happen in order to be successful.” Herman said.



Wednesday TV - No games

Games will resume tomorrow night with Clemson taking on Wake Forest and Tampa Bay facing Minnesota being the featured games.

Eastern time listed.


No games


No games

High School:

No games

Division II program makes the most of its second chance

 We have previously chronciled the difficulites Azusa Pacfic encounters as the only Division II program in southern California. APU competes in the Great Northwest Conference, which has just six football-playing teams. This means that each team plays a home-and-home with each conference foe for a 10-game lead schedule. As the only team in the league located in southern California, the Cougars' closest road game lies 362 miles away in St. George, Utah. The rest of APU's road trips take them to locales between 500 and 1,000 miles away in the Pacific Northwest. It's a lot to take on for a team transitioning from NAIA to Division II. 

However, none of that mattered on Saturday as head coach Victor Santa Cruz's team broke through to win its first Division II game, 24-17 over Central Washington. The Cougars rebounded from a 41-17 loss at Central Washington earlier in the season.

The win came in dramatic fashion, as Azusa Pacific hit a 47-yard pass with under a minute remaining to break a 17-17 tie and then stepped in front of a Central Washington pass at the APU 11-yard line with 18 seconds left wo seal the win.

Watch the video of those two plays below.

A few notes about tonight's game

In case you didn't know (and how could you not?) Gus Malzahn and Arkansas State travel to southern Louisiana to face Mark Hudspeth and Louisiana - Lafayette. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.

Both teams bring in a 2-1 record in Sun Belt play. The 10-member league has five teams at 2-1 chasing 3-0 ULM, so any hopes either team has of a Sun Belt championship likely die with a loss tonight. The Ragin' Cajuns had won three straight matchups before Arkansas State's 30-21 win last season en route to an 8-0 league record and conference title. 

Tonight is Louisiana - Lafayette's second consecutive Tuesday night game. Hudspeth's team lost to North Texas 30-23 last Tuesday in a game that was also televised by ESPN2. Tonight signals an uptick in ULL's schedule, as the Ragin' Cajuns visit conference leader ULM and Florida in back-to-back weeks before hosting Western Kentucky on Nov. 17. But enough about the rest of the schedule, what stands out about tonight's game?

- Race to 30: Outside of Arkansas State's season-opening loss at Oregon, these teams are a combined 8-0 when scoring more than 30 points and 0-4 when under 30.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: ULL leads the Sun Belt in turnover margin with a plus-6 total. The Ragin' Cajuns have collected 13 turnovers while surrendering seven. Arkansas State has lost 12 turnovers and gained 10. The Red Wolves' culprit has been fumbles; Arkansas State has lost nine fumbles this season. 

- Not so special teams: Malzahn's team is solid across the board statistically except on special teams. The Red Wolves rank eighth in the conference in kickoff returns and ninth in net punting. ULL leads the Sun Belt in net punting with a full 10-yard advantage over Arkansas State on average. 

- Stingy where it counts: Louisiana - Lafayette resides in the middle of the road in most defensive statstics except one - scoring defense. Hudspeth's squad ranks second in the league (25.3 points per game) and has surrendered the fewest touchdowns per game of anyone in the conference.

- 1992. That's the last time Arkansas State won in Lafayette. Half of ASU's roster wasn't born in 1992, while Malzahn was in his first season as the head coach at Hughes High School in Arkansas. 



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