"Strength of schedule only matters if you're playing for the national title"
James Franklin made a strong case during his press conference yesterday for one of the toughest early season schedules in the country, noting that teams that they have lost to (South Carolina, Northwestern, Georgia and Florida) are a combined 23-3.
The Commodores lone FBS win was a 19-15 win over Missouri earlier this month, who is 3-4 and 0-4 in SEC play.
At the end of the day, Franklin believes the only people that the strength of schedule really applies to are the teams that are playing for the national championship.
"I think it's clearly obvious though when you look at our season and what we're doing. We've played really good people. We've been competitive every week except you could make an argument once (against Georgia). The combined record of the four teams we've lost to is 23-3."
"I went over that with my team yesterday, telling them that we need to keep everything in perspective. We're doing some nice things, but we need to get better. We lost to a good team this past week, but for us to get where we want to be as a program, you can't make the type of mistakes that we made against that type of opponent." Franklin said.
Franklin noted that depending on how you approach the tough early season schedule with the team it, it could go one of two ways, depending on the mental make up of the team.
"It's interesting because it's all how you spin it and handle it with your team. If you still have really good chemistry and your kids still have a great attitude and they believe and they're passionate and excited about what the future holds, then I think it's a positive, and it's our job as coaches to explain that to them."
"To everybody else, I don't know. Last year we're 3-0 and the perception of Vanderbilt football last year compared to this year, I don't know how people perceive it. I don't think people really care. I think at the end of the season, people don't say, `well you were undefeated but you didn't beat a ranked opponent all year long.' No one cares because you were undefeated." he explained.
"I think the strength of scheduling only really counts if you're playing for the national championship. That's when it really figures in. Besides that, at the end of the year no one is going to say, `that was an ugly win versus Missouri.' Nobody's going to say, `but that win was against Presbyterian.' They're wins and they all count. Every single one of them count."
Franklin went on to explain that there are two perceptions of the program. There is the internal perception of the team, and how they handle everything during the course of a season, and the external perception and how people see the program and where they're at.
He added that the staff and everyone in the football building remain confident in the direction they're headed and the way that they're doing things.
A few interesting notes on the game tonight
North Texas has struggled through the first part of the season, going 2-4 through their first six games , and 1-1 in Sun Belt play. Their match up tonight, in the first Tuesday night game of the year, against Louisiana-Lafayette (4-1, 2-0) will feature two teams on the opposite side of the win-loss spectrum, but with some interesting similarities.
For example, both defenses have shown that they are up to a challenge following a sudden change.
After committing a turnover, the North Texas defense has held opponents to just one score in seven opportunities. The one score that they allowed was after FAU had intercepted a pass on their 11 yard line, otherwise the Mean Green defense has not allowed an offense to get any points following their turnover.
Louisiana's offense has has turned 13 turnovers into 53 points (five touchdowns and 6 field goals). They have only given the ball away four times this season, and their defense has responded following the sudden change, allowing just 10 points following a turnover.
The Ragin' Cajuns offense has done an excellent job of taking care of the ball, especially through the air, being one of only ten teams to have thrown just one interception.
Back on the defensive side of the ball, North Texas has yet to allow a fourth down conversion. Mean Green opponents have lined up to go for it five times, and have been denied each time. Only one other team (Rutgers) has not allowed a fourth down conversion this season.
The Ragin' Cagins have also been impressive on fourth down defensively. They have stopped opponents on six of their seven fourth down conversion attempts. Three of those stops have come inside of their 25, forcing teams to end the drive with no points.
With all the defensive strengths considered, it may be a race to 21 points. Under Dan McCarney, North Texas is 6-2 when scoring more than 21 points and 1-9 when being held to 21 points or less. Both of their losses when scoring more than 21 came last season (to Houston and Tulsa).
One more interesting note. The Ragin' Cajuns are one of only 15 other teams (and the only team in the Sun Belt), to return all nine of their assistants. In addition, we also saw a note that they also bring back all four of the graduate assistants and administrative assistants, as well as all three of their strength and conditioning coaches.
Tune in tonight at 9pm ET on ESPN2 to catch the game.
"There may be one or two teams in the country who can win despite a bad week of practice"
Dan Mullen has Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0) among the handful of teams left in the country without a loss. This weekend they face a Middle Tennessee team that went into Atlanta and handily beat Georgia Tech 49-28.
Yesterday, a reporter asked Mullen if he viewed the game as a "trap game" and Mullen's response centered on focus, saying that in today's landscape of college football, if you don't focus on having quality practices all week, you're going to get beat.
"If you don't bring you focus to college football today, you're not going to win. If you don't have focus Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you're not going to have focus on Saturday. You're going to play like you prepare and so you have to have unbelievable focus all week."
"With the balance in college football today, it's evident that if your not focused, you're not going to win the game. There might be one or two teams in the country that can just roll the ball out there, have a bad week of practice and say 'We're going to play bad and sloppy and still win the game.'" Mullen said.
"You better be on your game if you want to win."
After this weekend's game against Middle Tennessee, they'll face Alabama on the road, followed by Texas A&M at home, and then LSU in Baton Rouge. Those three teams are a combined 17-2.
Tuesday TV - Tuesday night football is back
A Sun Belt match up is featured in this week's Tuesday night game.
Eastern time listed.
Louisiana-Lafayette at North Texas - 9 - ESPN2
Dave Christensen apologizes for post game actions
There was a bit of controversy in Air Force's 28-27 win over Wyoming on Saturday.
With Wyoming leading Air Force 27-21 in the fourth quarter, Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz lost his helmet and immediately made his way to the Air Force sideline. Along the way, Dietz went to the ground while trainers spent several minutes attending to him. While Dietz still had to sit out the next play, the injury timeout allowed Air Force to keep all three timeouts at its disposal.
Disclaimer: We didn't see the game. We do not want to speculate on the severity of Dietz's injury, more importantly an injury to the head, and especially for a player in training to fight for our country.
When play resumed, backup quarterback Kale Pearson finished the drive with a five-yard scoring dash with 7:45 to play. Wyoming was forced to punt on the ensuing drive and then did not get the ball back as Air Force ran out the game's final 5:29.
Christensen eschewed the traditional postgame handshake at midfield and instead headed straight for the Wyoming locker room. When Calhoun tracked down Christensen in the end zone the Wyoming coach, by all accounts, unloaded on Calhoun.
According to the Denver Post, "Calhoun said he caught up with the Wyoming coach and said his team played a great game. But Christensen wasn't cordial.
"Christensen unleashed a profanity-laced tired on the AFA coach, and Christensen had to be restrained."
Calhoun described it as "probably not a conversation that I'd have with my mom."
Christensen told the media after the game "in this game, we're supposed to be ethical and that's not ethical."
Wyoming issued a statement on Sunday.
"I let my emotions, my passion for our football program and the frustrations of the first half of the season get the best of me, and my actions reflected negatively on our program," Christensen said in a statement issued Sunday night.
"The postgame actions and comments by coach Christensen do not represent Wyoming Cowboy football in the manner we expect, but I respect Dave for issuing his apology," said Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman.
The Mountain West announced on Monday it was reprimanding Christensen for his actions Saturday night.
Wyoming's Dave Christensenpublicly reprimanded by MWC for his actions after Saturday's loss to Air Force— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 15, 2012
It's possible that Christensen's anger was a product of a 2012 season gone awry.
Christensen received a five-year contract extension after leading Wyoming to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the New Mexico Bowl in 2011. Things, however, have not gone as planned in 2012. The Air Force loss dropped Wyoming to 1-5. Their lone win was in overtime over Idaho, and among the five losses is a defeat to Cal Poly from FCS.
Curtis Johnson gets his first game ball
Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson his first win as a head coach on Saturday.
After leading 20-6 at the half, Johnson saw the Green Wave's advantage evaporate as SMU ripped off 20 straight points to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Ryan Griffin hooked up with Robert Kelley for the tandem's second touchdown of the game to put Tulane back on top 27-26 with 35 seconds remaining. Tulane still had to bat down SMU's Hail Mary to secure the win.
Of course, nothing comes easy when you're 0-5.
The video below showcases the excitement of the Tulane players, staff and radio crew. Special teams coordinator and linebackers coach Barry Lamb awarded Johnson the game ball in the locker room.
We were glad to see Coach Johnson get his first win on Saturday. Ellis Johnson (Southern Miss) and Charley Molnar (UMass) are still looking for that first win & game ball. Let's hope that happens for both this weekend.
The Scoop on stats - Week 7
Almost everyone is at least at the halfway point of the college football season. It's going by fast, so here's a look at some interesting stats so far through week 7.
Enjoy, and let us know if you see anything else worthy of making the cut.
- Following their game against Marshall at the end of last month, Purdue ranked 23rd nationally in rushing defense. Today, after back to back games against Michigan (where they allowed 304 yards rushing) and Wisconsin (where they allowed 497 yards rushing), they now rank 97th in run defense.
- Alabama has not trailed at the end of any quarter for 20 straight games.
- Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel is the nation's top freshman in points responsible for, total offense, scoring, pass efficiency, passing yardage, and rushing.
- Utah State had 14 sacks going into this weekend. Against San Jose State, the Aggies recorded a school record 13 sacks, bringing their yearly total to 27. Even that performance wasn't enough to top Tulsa, who lead the nation in sacks with 31 total.
- Toledo and Eastern Michigan combined for 55 points in the third quarter on Saturday.
- Despite having the ball for 13 less minutes than the Buckeyes, Indiana ran only one less offensive play. The Hoosiers churned out 78 plays on Saturday while Ohio State got off 79..
- New Mexico recorded their fourth straight game of 300+ rushing yards against Hawaii. Their game against Boise State is included in those four games (330 yards rushing).
- Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene had 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and an interception in their win against Syracuse this weekend.
- Eastern Michigan has yet to record a touchback on kickoffs this season. Washington has kicked off into the end zone just once all year.
- Air Force is now the only team in the country to have not allowed a sack. UTSA gave up their first sack of the year on Saturday for a loss of 5 yards.
- Only Louisiana Tech and Oregon are averaging over 50 points per game. Tech is putting up nearly 54 per game and the Ducks are averaging just over 52 ppg. On the flip side, UMass, Florida Atlantic and Tulane are all averaging less than 14 ppg.
- Indiana and UTSA are the only teams in the country yet to lose a fumble. Each team has fumbled twice this season.
- Ball State has ran the most plays through 7 game than anyone else in the country with 594 total plays (85 per game). Marshall carries the highest average per game with 92 plays per contest. Temple ranks at the bottom in plays ran with 64 per game.
- Washington State has more first downs due to penalties than they've earned on the ground. Alabama, Central Florida and Clemson have had just three penalties help move the chains for them through six games.
- Tulane is the only team in the country without a run over 20 yards. Penn State, New Mexico State and Maryland have one each.
- The top 5 teams in fumble recoveries are a combined 31-12 (New Mexico, Missouri, Louisiana Tech, Ohio, Tulsa, and Boise State).
- Every kickoff specialist the country has had at least one kick go out of bounds.
- Washington State (10) and Cal (10) are the only two teams in the nation with losing records despite double digit interceptions.
- Baylor's defense is allowing teams to convert 64% of their third down conversions, which ranks 120th nationally.
- Three of the top four tacklers in the country are out of the MAC (Toledo, Ball State, Miami of Ohio).
- Only 56 kickers have hit 100% of their extra point attempts. Three kickers, all from teams with winning records (Wisconsin, UCLA, Louisville), have converted on less than 90% of their tries.
- Kent State kickoff returner Dri Archer has returned 3 kicks for more than 90 yards this season.
- Quinn Sharp (Oklahoma State) and Jeff Lock (UCLA) are both kicking touchbacks at a rate of about 84%. Sharp leads the nation at 83.78% with Lock not far behind at 83.72%
Dooley with the quote of the week
This weekend Derek Dooley and Tennessee face an Alabama team that leads the country in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, turnover margin, and pass defense, and rank in the top 25 nationally in rushing offense, scoring offense, kick returns, pass efficiency and sacks. Quite the tall order.
Dooley was asked about Alabama during his presser today and responded with a quote that you just have to hear. It's so good that he interrupts the next reporter's question not just once, but twice, just to keep it rolling.
We present to you, the quote of the week.