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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.

NFL:

No games

College:

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High School:

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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. 

 

 

West Virginia's defensive staff is leaving no stone unturned

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by the end of Saturday's game against Kansas State, 30 different West Virginia players had seen the field on defense.

A third of those players didn't even have a year of game experience under their belt, as six true freshman, and four additional redshirt freshman saw the field.

Kansas State came into the game ranking 108th in passing offense with 179 yards per game and lit it up through the air with 333 yards passing against a Mountaineer pass defense that ranked dead last in pass defense when the final buzzer sounded.

The Mountaineers have given up at least 45 points in the past four straight games, and are allowing opponents to complete nearly 69% of their pass attempts. 

Co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest explains that they've left no stone unturned trying to get things fixed.

"We've tried everything. Maybe that's our fault as a staff. We've tried to cover up our deficiencies. Then we tried to do other things to give them the ability to mix it up."

The variety of different offenses that they've seen in the first seven games (Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech just to name a few), have provided the staff a unique challenge to prepare for each week. Kansas State is pretty multiple and will utilize designed quarterback runs, while Texas Tech is going to spread you out and try to shred you from the pocket.

"We're searching right now. We're searching, but every week is different. One week it's Kansas State, next week it's Texas Tech. You're running across different problems every week."

This bye week will be important to get things sorted out, as the offenses that they'll see moving forward will continue to present some problems. Next weekend they'll get TCU at home, followed by Oklahoma State on the road and then Oklahoma at home.

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