Chip Kelly: "Missed tackles are a personnel issue"
Chip Kelly got on Sirius XM's College Sports Nation today and was asked about the issue of missed tackles in college football.
Numerous defensive coaches around the country have noted missed tackles during their post game press conferences as part of the reason for losses.
Kelly explains that teams that aren't as good defensively can blame it on tackling, but he see's it differently. He sees missed tackles as a personnel issue.
"I don't think there's anybody in the country, no matter where you are, that says 'Ya know, tackling, lets not worry about that today...lets not do it." Kelly said.
"I think that the teams that don't tackle well just don't have as good of players as the teams that tackle well. It still comes down to a personnel game. I don't think there's a college coach, or a high school coach or a pro coach in the country that doesn't work on tackling."
"It's like saying on offense, 'Well they don't block very well so they must not work on blocking'. I think every offensive line coach is doing chutes and boards every day in their individual drills and I think every college coach in their individual drills is doing tackling."
"I think that there are a lot of athleticism on the offensive side of the ball," Kelly explained. "Sometimes, maybe the credit should go to the offensive players who are pretty good at making people miss. I think everybody works on it, it's a fundamental. I think it just comes down to a personnel thing"
Kelly explains that a lot of the issues have to do with the formations being stretched sideline to sideline instead of playing with nine guys in the box where it would be much easier to tackle. He notes that when players are stretched sideline to sideline, many individual match ups get exposed.
O'Brien explains how the staff is meshing in year one
When the season began, there weren't very many people that would have predicted the success that Penn State (4-2, 2-0) has had through their first six games.
With everything that has happened over the past eight months at Penn State, in an "us against the world" kind of environment, it's important to have a staff with great chemistry to help refocus the energy around campus, and nationally, in a constructive manner.
After yesterday's bye week practice, Bill O'Brien was asked about a few members of his staff and how they've all been getting along in their first season together.
When O'Brien first started to formulate his staff, Mac McWhorter was one guy that was out of football that he knew that he wanted to bring in to be a part of the Nittany Lions new identity.
O'Brien says that getting McWhorter, who served as the offensive line coach and eventually the associate head coach on Mack Brown's staff from 2002-2010, to Happy Valley was somewhat of a recruiting job because McWhorter had been enjoying the retired life in Georgia. But for McWhorter, it ultimately came down to Penn State being a special place with special players in a unique setting.
Coach O'Brien was also asked about his relationship with secondary coach John Butler, and director of strength and conditioning Craig Fitzgerald (who both attended the same high school in Philadelphia) and explained that since the two are both Philadelphia guys and he's a Boston guy, they get a kick out of razzing each other quite often. O'Brien also refers to Butler and Fitzgerald as "bosom buddies" (head to the 7:25 mark of the video to hear it).
Hear more from Bill O'Brien after yesterday's practice in the clip, including how he uses his NFL experience to recruit, and how an NFL bye week differs from a bye week at the college level.
Next week Penn State (4-2, 2-0) gets back on the field against Iowa (3-2, 1-0).
Arizona State brings an impressive stat into game tonight
Arizona State (4-1, 2-0) takes on Pac 12 opponent Colorado (1-4, 1-1) tonight at 9pm ET on ESPN.
Coming into the game, the Sun Devils scoring offense has gotten a lot of attention. They opened up the season by putting up 63 points on Northern Arizona, followed by 45 points against Illinois for a combined 108 points in a two game stretch. Impressive for a first year coaching staff.
However, we noticed an interesting note this morning that Arizona State's defense should be getting some love too. They rank 3rd nationally in sacks (4 per game) and 2nd nationally in tackles for loss (9.8 per game), including a 10 TFL performance against Cal.
Of the 343 snaps that the defense has been on the field for, 66 of them have resulted in no gain or a loss of yardage. That's an impressive 19% of all plays where the Sun Devils have stifled opponents at, or behind the line of scrimmage. If you include incomplete passes, that number increases to 39% of all plays that have not resulted in positive yardage.
Tonight, the aggressive Arizona State defense will be going against a Colorado offense that is giving up over 4 sacks per game (119th nationally) and an offense that ranks 100th nationally in scoring (22 ppg) and total offense (342 ypg). Colorado has played 13 true freshman this season (tied for 5th nationally), and has had 14 first time starters (also tied for 5th nationally).
John Harbaugh explains how they use the no huddle
As we noted after the first week of NFL games, the use of the no huddle was up 56% from 2011 and up 100% from five seasons ago. During opening week, 14% of all plays were ran out of the no huddle.
One of the teams taking advantage of the no huddle tempo is the Baltimore Ravens. Head coach John Harbaugh explains to FOXSports.com's Brian Billick why they like to use it on and off during a drive to put stress on defensive coordinators and specific defensive personnel.
Barry Alvarez wants to see a "super league"
If it were up to Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, college football teams from the major conferences would be part of one big "super league" that would make all the decisions in the world of college football.
“I’d like to see a super league. I’d like to see a league — Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 — and have your own rules. Have rules that you know what the hell they are and that you could actually follow them, and let them have it." Alvarez, who was a proponent of a four team playoff earlier this year, told the Mobile Press Register. Notice that he did not mention the ACC and Big East.
"We’ve got a lot of rules. There’re a lot of haves and have-nots, and you’re making rules to make the have-nots happy."
“Let the guys who can afford it go do — the guys that are filling those big stadiums, the leagues that have the big TV contracts — let them go. That’s nothing against those other guys. But you can’t let that group hold the entire group back.’’
Although he noted that he doubts it would ever happen, Alvarez has made it clear that he wants to see the big football conferences running things and making decisions based on what is best for schools that are making the most money. Preferably without having to solicit input from the non BCS conferences and their members.
Western Kentucky has gone three and out just three times in 61 drives
When you think of the most efficient offenses in the country, points and yardage are usually some of the first stats to come to mind.
Tonight when Western Kentucky takes on Troy, Willie Taggart and his staff bring an interesting offensive efficiency stat into the game.
In 61 drives this season, the Hilltoppers have gone three and out just three times. Back in week two against Alabama, Western Kentucky snapped a streak of 77 consecutive games in which the Crimson Tide had forced at least one three and out by not going three and out a single time during the game.
The Hilltoppers feature a balanced attack, ranking in the top 25 nationally in rushing offense (#25 - 213 ypg) and passing efficiency (#18 - 156.75), and have earned 53 first downs on the ground and 48 through the air.
Their opponent tonight, Troy, is impressive when putting up points under head coach Larry Blakeney. Under Blakeney the Trojans are an impressive 67-4 when scoring at least 35 points. The Trojans are coming off a strong defensive performance in their last game, where they allowed just 59 passing yards to South Alabama.
One area where both teams are strong is their pass defense. Troy has allowed just 207 yards passing per game (36th nationally) while Western Kentucky is allowing just 175 yards per game through the air (14th nationally)
The two teams will face off on ESPNU at 7:30pm ET.
Early season FBS staff changes
Houston head coach Tony Levine dismissed offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt after their week loss to Texas State. Bret Bielema let Mike Markuson go after Wisconsin's week 2 loss to Oregon State. Al Groh was released this week by Paul Johnson. Awfully early in the year to be making these kinds of changes some would say.
Dan Wolken of USA Today took a look at this issue. Wolken spoke with New Mexico head coach Bob Davie and Oregon State head coach Mike Riley to get their thoughts on what he perceives as a troubling trend.
"To get into the season and pull the plug, I don't agree with that," New Mexico's Bob Davie told USA Today. "I think it sends out a bad signal to everybody, and what's your reason? Is it to motivate your team? I don't think that's a good way to motivate. Or have you just hit rock bottom? It would surprise me one thing or two things could happen in a couple games that could make you say, 'I've got the wrong guy here.' Why was the wrong guy there (in the first place)?"
"I think it probably paints that picture of the pressure people are under to succeed and trying to find the answer or change the course of what's going on," Oregon State coach Mike Riley told Wolken. "That's a real dramatic move, and it's probably a result of the pressure to do well."
Obviously no head coach breaks fall camp hoping to fire one of his assistants, especially early in the season. But as the economics involved continue to rise in college football, pressure and expectations follow suit. A head coach may view making an early change at an underperforming unit as a better option than running the risk of having a more drastic change occur (that might not be within their control) after the season.
And unfortunately for those who are against the early season trap door treatment, the changes at Houston and Wisconsin, at least early on, seem to have worked. The Houston offense has shown marked improvement since the Texas State opener. The Cougars have averaged more than 41 points per game in their four outings since while never scoring less than 35 points. The Wisconsin offense has also seen an uptick in production since the Oregon State game. Over their first two games the Badgers averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and rushed for one touchdown in 70 attempts. Since then Wisconsin’s yards per carry has jumped to nearly 3.8 while scoring touchdowns once out of every 16 rushes. After scoring just 36 points in its first two games, Wisconsin is averaging nearly 28 points per game since.
Wolken also spoke with AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff about this trend. Under Teaff’s direction the AFCA has lobbied for assistants to receive guaranteed contracts like the head coaches they work for.
"One of the reasons we've pushed so hard for that is the incidents we're now seeing take place," Teaff told USA Today. "It was pretty well perceived those would start taking place because of the pressure to win, the pressure to recruit. We are pleased that by and large, when those types of situations take place, they do take care of the coaches and their families."
With TV money continuing to pour into college football, the stakes are only going to get higher and it's hard for anyone to feel "safe" these days. Every coach should attempt to have a good portion of, and hopefully their entire, annual salary guaranteed in their contract; and with every raise should try to store some more of that away for a rainy day and invest for your future.
Thursday TV - Handful of college games and a NFL game
A total of five college games on tonight (three FBS and two D-II games), plus some regular Thursday night NFL action.
Eastern time listed.
Pittsburgh at Tennessee - 8:20 - NFL Network
Western Kentucky at Troy - 7:30 - ESPNU
Stillman at Tuskegee - 7:30 - CSS
UTEP at Tulsa - 8 - FCSC
Wayne State (MI) at Saginaw Valley - 8 - CBSSN
Arizona State at Colorado - 9 - ESPN