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The three keys to beating Alabama as Les Koenning sees it

Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning will take the Bulldog offense to Tuscaloosa Saturday night to square off against Alabama in a battle of the unbeatens. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30pm ET.

According to Koenning, in order to get out with a win, they'll have to win three key phases of the game.

"The No. 1 thing you have to be aware of when you're playing Alabama is the turnover ratio. They're an opportunistic offense, a lot like ourselves. With turnovers, it's a lot easier to get in the end zone." Koenning told AL.com

Alabama ranks third nationally in turnover margin, forcing an average of two turnovers per game (+14 on the season). In their first seven games, the Tide have taken the ball away 20 times, converting an impressive 15 of those into touchdowns.

"This will be one of those patented games that we have in the SEC. Field position will be a must. Third-down conversions will be a must and taking care of the ball will be a must." Koenning explained.

Third down conversions are another area that Alabama has excelled in this season, ranking second nationally. The Crimson Tide have allowed opponents to convert on just 24 of their 96 attempts (25%). Also pretty impressive.

Write that down. Turnover ratio, field position, and third down conversions will be three areas of emphasis for the Bulldogs on Saturday night. They'll have their work cut out for them on all three sides of the ball

You'll be able to catch the game on ESPN. Should be a good one.


Dave Christensen apologized to Troy Calhoun

Glad to see that Christensen called Troy Calhoun to apologize for his actions after their game. 

Christensen won't be on the sideline this weekend vs Boise State as he serves a one game suspension. 

Pease: "We're not going to win any statistical awards"

The only thing that matters to first year Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease is putting wins in the "W" column, an area that they've been very good at through the first seven weeks of the season (7-0, 6-0).

Pease explains that putting up 50 points or racking up gaudy yardage totals are the last thing on his mind, he's focused on playing to their strengths and doing whatever it takes to win ball games.

The Gators currently rank 114th nationally in passing offense (138 ypg), 100th in total offense (350 ypg), and 25th in rushing offense (213 ypg). In five of their seven games this season, they've ran for over 175 yards, and have at least 40 rushing attempts along with less than 22 pass attempts in six of their seven games. Pease and the offensive staff have figured it's games like that, not stats, that have made up their winning formula so far this season.

"I’m not worried about yards. We’re not going to win any statistical awards this year, and I don’t think we’re trying to. I don’t think we’re set up that way yet, especially as a coordinator in his first year with a new quarterback. We’re definitely not going to be like West Virginia and those teams where we’re throwing for all these yards.”

The development of that hard nosed, "do whatever it takes" mentality was helped by an off season motto that strength and conditioning coordinator Jeff Dillman coined over the summer. The phrase "Florida never breaks" became their battle cry during workouts and has been used plenty during crunch time on game day. That motto has helped to establish their identity, particularly within the offense.

“Jeff Dillman has kind of come up with that as far as different ways to motivate the players throughout the summer, to be able to always try to find an edge and create an edge for our football team” Will Muschamp explained.

"In the summer and when you’re sitting there in the middle of June and the middle of July, you better be creative in how to motivate some of these guys. I’ll be honest with you. I think back to when I was playing. It’s hard. It’s 150 degrees sitting outside and you’re lifting weights. You better have somebody in there that’s got a great message to motivate you, and Jeff certainly does.”

This weekend Florida will head to Athens to take on Georgia in a match up of top ten teams. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30pm ET on CBS.







Video: Texas Tech players break down their winning TD

Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege had a career day this past Saturday against TCU, throwing for seven touchdowns in their 56-53 triple overtime thriller. The win improved the Red Raiders to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12.

In the clip here, Doege and receiver Alex Torres break down the winning touchdown and their assignments and adjustments both pre and post snap.

Good look at a quality play action (and high percentage) pass.

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.