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A few notes about tonight's games

Five total games on the schedule tonight. We've highlighted what stands out about three of the matchups.

Eastern Michigan at Ohio (6 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Simply put, this game is a mismatch for head coach Ron English and the Eagles. Eastern Michigan enters the game at 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the MAC, while Ohio stands at 7-1 overall and 3-1 in league play. The Bobcats suffered their first loss of the season last week against Miami (Ohio), 23-20. 

In the Eagles' win, quarterback Tyler Benz threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns. The Bobcats gave up 311 passing yards in last week's loss, so Eastern Michigan's best chance at pulling the upset seems to be through the air. Another place the Eagles can victimize Ohio is in the red zone. Frank Solich's bunch places 113th nationally in red zone defense, allowing opposing offenses to score 22 times in 24 trips. Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan has produced points in 14 times in 16 trips, including 10 touchdowns.

Virginia Tech at Miami (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Miami enters tonight in first place of the ACC Coastal Division despite carrying an overall three-game losing streak. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has lost four of its past six games. Needless to say, both teams are desperate for a W.

Miami has struggled mightily on defense, ranking 11th or lower in the ACC in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. For Frank Beamer's team there has been a large defensive dichotomy between wins in losses. In the Hokies' four wins they have held opponents to 11 points per game, but in their four losses that number jumps to 37 points per game. 

The Hokies are Thursday night veterans as tonight will be their 25th appearance on ESPN's Thursday Night Football. They have won 19 of their previous 24 appearances. Tonight is their first of two straight Thursday night games; Florida State heads to Blacksburg next week. Virginia Tech is also 25-2 in November as a member of the ACC. 

Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

For what it's worth, this game was unanimously named the best matchup of the night among the FootballScoop staff. Both groups carry 3-1 Sun Belt records; WKU is 6-2 overall and MTSU is 5-3.

In Western Kentucky's lone Sun Belt loss, a 43-42 overtime setback to ULM, the Hilltoppers still managed to win the box score. Willie Taggart's team outgained the Warhawks by 64 yards, converted 11-of-17 third downs while holding ULM to 5-of-14, achieved seven more first downs, split the turnover battle and held nearly a 20-minute edge in time of possession.

Rick Stockstill's team has posted 40 points per game in its five wins, but less than 14 points per game in its three defeats. That's potentially a telling statistic as Middle Tennessee braces to face the Sun Belt's best defense. WKU leads the conference in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. The Hilltoppers have also posted more sacks and tackles for loss than anyone in the Sun Belt.  

 

USA Today ran a good article on D-II coach Bob Stitt

If you follow D-II football closely, the name Bob Stitt likely sounds familiar. If it doesn't, it soon will.

Dan Wolken of USA Today wrote up a really good article on coach Stitt and his unique offensive approach, and how it has impacted college football and other great offensive minds in our profession.

The Colorado School of Mines (D-II) head coach is known in coaching circles as one of the most innovative offensive minds at any level of college football. His offensive strategies are highly regarded by guys like Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen, Hal Mumme, Sonny Dykes, and Kliff Kingsbury. That's some pretty good company.

After West Virginia's Orange Bowl win, Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen credited Stitt with one of their many touchdown play calls on the afternoon. And Holgo is just one of many coaches that Stitt's philosophies have influenced.

"When he turns the film on he thinks everything's open. As an offensive coordinator, that's the mindset you have to have. To him, there's never a play covered, and that's good. You've got to think you're unstoppable." Kliff Kingsbury explains in the article.

Stitt has taken the Colorado School of Mines from a program that many thought couldn't win, to a national title contender that is consistently one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The Orediggers are currently sitting at 6-3 and are poised for their 11th winning season in Stitt's 13 years.

Again, take a look at the original article for some more quality content and offensive philosophy from coach Stitt.

Take your time, there's some really good stuff in there, and it's great to see coach Stitt getting some much deserved recognition.

Find a way to get your young players quality reps in your scheme

More and more coaches and programs around the country and finding ways to get their underclassmen more reps in their schemes, even if they are heavily relied on during the week as scout team players.

Down at Vanderbilt, James Franklin and his staff are holding a ten minute skelly and one on one period after practices on Thursday nights so that their young guys get more accustomed to their schemes, terminology and expectations on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. That's just a small part of how they evaluate their freshman class, hear more from Franklin below.

Every level can benefit from doing something like this. Get your freshman and sophomores together after practice on a consistent basis to get them some quality reps running your schemes.

Sacrificing a little bit of post practice time, and getting those young guys some one on one coaching will definitely pay off for your program the road.

Program philosophy: "Be a technician"

Stanford sports performance coordinator Shannon Turley (2011 FootballScoop Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year) has helped the staff (both under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw) breathe new life into the Stanford football program since coming to The Farm in 2007. Each and every Saturday, the Cardinal have consistently been one of the most physical and disciplined teams on the field.

To develop that mindset, Turley and the staff believe in ensuring that every player become a "technician." 

"We define being a technician as being a guy who is going to concentrate on the factors that he can control. Things like his technique, effort, attitude, mental discipline...all of the intangibles that essentially take no talent to master." Turley explained.

Beyond the intangibles, being a technician also includes putting the proper fuel in your body to make sure it stays running all day, properly warming up individually, and making a conscious decision when your alarm clock goes off in the morning.

"One thing that we teach them is that in the mornings they set a deadline as to when they're going to wake up, and the alarm goes off and you've got a choice. Your first choice of the day. You're going to be a winner, or you're going to be a loser."

"A winner is going to snap up out of bed and have a great day. A loser is going to hit the snooze button." Turley says.

This is a very good overall philosophy. Get your players to understand these things, and your they'll not only be more self aware of what it takes to be successful, but leadership and discipline within your team will improve tremendously, and your players will enter game feeling as prepared as they've ever been. Even better yet, they'll be very well equipped for life outside of football.

Thursday TV - Football is back

After a few nights without games, football is back on tonight with a couple of college games and the Chiefs at the Chargers.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

Kansas City at San Diego - 8:20 - NFL Network

College:

Eastern Michigan at Ohio - 6 - ESPNU

Texas A&M Kingsville at Valdosta - 7:30 - CSS

Virginia Tech at Miami - 7:30 - ESPN

Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky - 9:15 - ESPNU

High School:

No games

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