Joker: We need to take more shots downfield
One of the biggest differences in the Kentucky offense this season is the addition of the no huddle and the utilization of more spread formations.
Through the first two games the Wildcats are averaging just under 70 plays per game, which ranks them around the middle of the pack nationally.
Offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders noted after Saturday's game that practicing at such a high tempo doesn't allow them to get as much work done on throwing the deep ball as he would like because the receivers are gassed.
Through two games, Kentucky is ranked in the top ten nationally in completions over ten yards, but ranks towards the bottom nationally when it comes to completions of 30 or more yards.
"I like that he's taking what he likes and what he sees," Joker Phillips said of his quarterback's progressions. "But sometimes on our all go routes, we've got to give our receivers a chance. That's the thing, give our receivers a chance, go up, and let those guys make a play for you, and it also keeps them off of you."
During his press conference yesterday, Joker noted that their longest pass play has been 23 yards, and they need to be able to successfully stretch the field vertically in order to keep defenses honest.
One drill that they have implemented to work on the deep ball is to put the receivers 30 yards down field, and once the quarterback hits the top of his drop, the receiver takes off. That allows the receivers to stay fresh, they can continue to practice at a high tempo, and quarterbacks continue to gain confidence throwing the deep ball.
This week the Wildcats take on Western Kentucky, who's defense has allowed only 17 completions (17 for 31 - 55%) through their first two games against Austin Peay and Alabama. The two will face off in Lexington at 7pm.
John L: Playing former assistants is like fighting your brother
With the Arkansas and Alabama match up just around the corner this weekend, John L. Smith was asked about a few guys that he has close ties to that are now part of Alabama's staff.
Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was actually the first quarterback that Smith recruited at Idaho, and he later went on the win the Walter Payton Award as a D-I AA player before coaching with Smith after his professional career ended, and Crimson Tide offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland served as Smith's offensive line coach while he was the head coach at Michigan State.
Yesterday, John L. was asked about what it is like to line up on the opposite sideline against some of his former assistants.
"The day you play them you have great loyalty and great love for people. They have been a part of you and a part of your family."
"Going against them is like wanting to beat your brother. You never want to lose against your brother. I'm sure you've gotten in fist fights with your brother growing up right?" Smith explained.
"You'd come out all bloodied up, but you still wanted to beat him right? That's the way it is. You want to get after each other."
Pelini: "We've let their offense dictate our defense"
After giving up over 650 yards in a loss to UCLA last Saturday and spending plenty of time reflecting, Bo Pelini is ready to move on to week three.
“I’ve been sick to my stomach since that game. I felt we should have won that football game. We didn’t. You know, it hurts. It’s hard to live with. But you have to move on. You have to. That’s part of the deal. It’s part of this profession. It’s sickening to you, but you can’t turn back the clock.”
After playing a few teams (Southern Miss and UCLA) that like to spread it out and run the zone read, Pelini believes that they've let the opponents offense dictate a little too much of what they do on the defensive side of the ball.
The Husker defense will see another spread offense this week with Arkansas State.
“I want to get them back to coming off the football and being more aggressive up front. I think to a certain extent, we’ve let the style of offense dictate to us instead of us dictating to the offense.”
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis noted that they're looking to counter that by getting more speed on the field.
“Team speed is something that has been a little bit lacking over the first couple games. So we’re going to try to get some of our faster guys on the field and see how that works this week."
"Everybody is in the equation right now. If we have to work 24 hours a day for the next seven days, and really for the next three months, we’re going to figure it out.” Papuchis explained.
Even while coaching a national championship defense at LSU, Pelini noted that there were rough patches along the way. At this point it's important to stay the course.
“You’re going to have games where you have a rough go of it. It’s how you come back from those things that are going to define you in the end.”
"We have two categories for personal fouls; dumb and combat"
Oklahoma State defensive coordinator and defensive coordinator Bill Young, who has missed the last two games recovering from a medical procedure, is expected to return to practice this week.
Over the past few weeks, Young noted that he attended staff meetings and defensive line meetings, but did not get out onto the field for practices.
Talking to the media about the Arizona game, Young noted that the staff splits personal fouls into two different groups; dumb penalties and combat penalties. Most of their personal foul penalties in their loss to Arizona, Young classified as dumb penalties.
Young said that he listened to the game on the radio with surround sound at his house, and could visualize the calls that were being made defensively.
Rich Rod: Stay humble and stay hungry
Good footage here of Rich Rod addressing the team before and after their big win over Oklahoma State.
Rodriguez reminds the players after the game to "stay humble, and stay hungry", and of the 24 hours rule, where they have one day to celebrate the win before they move on to prepare for their next opponent, South Carolina State.
Tuesday TV - No games
No games tonight or tomorrow, but we'll have a few games from the NFL and college level come Thursday.
Eastern time listed.
Bielema and Markuson explain
This morning we learned that Mike Markuson had been fired Sunday afternoon by Bret Bielema. Today, we had the opportunity to hear from both of them about what transpired.
Bielema, speaking at a press conference, had the following to say:
Speaking of how he has never liked how most head coaches wait until the end of the season to make a change, Bielema said, "Decisions traditionally are made at the end of the year, and it always drove me nuts. My first experience in coaching where there were some guys that really weren't where we needed to be as a staff. And it hurt everybody overall. So I always kind of said to myself, as I got older, grew into the profession, if I was ever in a position that I knew transition be needed to be made, I wasn't going to be the one that waited until it was comfortable, I was going to make the decision when it needed to be made. Panic is for the outside world. Reality is what I live in. As the head coach I'm the one responsible for everybody, every player, every coach, every family, support staff, and just felt that as head coach I've got to make some decisions once in a while that aren't going to be popular, and from the outside world looking in may not make the most sense."
Markuson, speaking on SiriusXM radio (hear the full audio at this link), was clearly frustrated (as any competitive person would be). In the interview, Markuson first vented about the lack of a passing game; but went on to explain what happened. Markuson said Bielema called him into his office yesterday afternoon after their staff meeting and explained that he was letting him go. "It was a surprise to me; but in this business you gotta anticipate anything....coaches get hired and fired it's just getting fired after two games..."
Bart Miller who will now coach the offensive line played ball under former Wisconsin offensive line coach Bob Bostad at New Mexico and is very familiar with Bostad's system and terminology. Several coaches reached out to us today to tell us that Miller is a great young coach and a great guy.
Video: 10 years of FIU football
It's hard to believe that over a decade ago ago when talking about football in the state of Florida, Florida International wasn't even mentioned because they had yet to start a program.
Now, ten years later, the program is coming off back to back bowl appearances and 15 wins over the past two seasons.
Take a look back at the history of the program from its beginning, to the hiring of Mario Cristobal and the changes that they made to get them to where they are today in this well done video honoring their short and storied tradition.