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Georgia alters practice routine to prepare for the triple option

After wrapping up the SEC East crown on Saturday, Georgia will take a challenging two-game detour outside of conference play before playing for the league championship on December 1. 

The Bulldogs will play back-to-back home games against triple option mavens Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech beginning this Saturday. At a hair over 400 yards per game (and 6.68 yards per carry), Georgia Southern runs for more yards per game than any team in college football across all levels. No other college football team averages more than 385 yards.

Paul Johnson's isn't too far behind their in-state counterparts, ranking fourth in FBS at 324.4 yards per game and 5.86 yards per carry.  

While Mark Richt's team will be heavily favored to win both games, Todd Grantham's defense has it work cut out for it, so Georgia decided to cut out its normal practice week routine. The Bulldogs practiced in full pads on Monday and allowed the scout team offense to use cut blocks against the starting defense.

“It’s very, very, very difficult to simulate in practice,” Richt told the Athens Banner-Herald. “You can’t do it. … As you’re trying to adjust to not only what they’re doing schematically, you’re also adjusting to how well they do it. Their execution, their speed, their quick decision-making and all that type of thing that can become very, very frustrating.”

Georgia Southern has the ability to frustrate even the best defenses in college football. Recall the Eagles' trip last season to Tuscaloosa, when the eventual national champions (who led FBS by allowing just 72.1 rushing yards and 8.1 points per game) allowed a season-worst 301 rushing yards and 21 points.

Grantham was non-committal when asked of the benefits to playing two triple offenses in a row.

“I guess in some ways,” Grantham said. “I mean, I don’t know. Whatever. I didn't set the schedule, so I’ll do whatever they say.”

Grantham has faced Georgia Tech's triple option twice in his tenure at Georgia. The 2010 meeting saw the Yellow Jackets compile 512 yards of offense in a 42-34 Bulldogs win. Last season, Georgia limited Georgia Tech to 355 yards in a 31-17 victory. 




Jim Harbaugh: Motivational speeches are overrated

A handful of Bay Area high school coaches got the opportunity to sit down behind closed doors with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh last night for a "Gameday Speech Clinic" where the head coach touched on everything from leadership, to teaching, to relationship building.

The coaches in attendance got a lot of quality material from the experience, according to MaxPreps.com.

Sequoia HS (CA) coach Rob Poulos noted that Harbaugh was very down to earth and addressed the group of coaches as colleagues while offering some some quality insight.

"I liked him right off because he peeled away the BS real fast and the motivational issues. He got right to the heart of the matter – your relationship with the players. He wasn't selling a bill of goods. We found out there was a lot more similarities than differences between his level and ours."

Harbaugh also told the coaches in attendance that he's not real big on motivational speeches.

"If those things really could make a difference, you'd see motivational speakers as coaches. I'm an information guy. That's what I think all good coaches are about." Harbaugh explained.

Leigh HS (CA) head coach Kyle Padia, a former quarterback at Northern Illinois, took one idea from the mini clinic that he plans to go back to share with his assistant coaches.

"He talked about trusting your coaches and putting your ego aside. The best idea doesn't necessarily have to come from the head coach. It's all about taking that plan and carrying it out."

Padia also noted one nugget that stuck with him about Harbaugh and those motivational speeches. "He's a big proponent of preparation and practice and not necessarily needing a big speech on game day. He said pregame speeches all are forgotten by the time you get out the field and warm-up anyway."

There you have it. A solid, and proven approach to building a program.

Forget the motivational material and focus on what really matters (although everyone does enjoy a good motivational highlight video to get the blood pumping). Harbaugh and his staff revitalized the Stanford program, and immediately helped to breathe new life into the 49ers organization, by doing what coaching is really all about; quality teaching and instruction, providing players with the information that they need to be successful, and building meaningful relationships.

Leave the motivational speeches to the professional speakers.




Purdue WR coach Patrick Higgins fills in admirably for injured offensive coordinator

It was announced last Friday, due to a back injury suffered during the week, Purdue offensive coordinator Gary Nord would not be able to coach his team's game with Iowa the following day. 

Wide receivers coach Patrick Higgins was tabbed to call plays in Nord's stead. Having served as UTEP's offensive coordinator from 2000-03, Higgins was the natural choice as the only remaining coach with play calling experience.

“I had done it before, and that was a big plus,” Higgins told the Lafayette Journal & Courier. “It’s like riding a bike; you try to get back on.”

The Boilermakers had a productive day offensively, throwing 35 times for 279 yards (8.0 yards per attempt) with two touchdowns and no interceptions and rushing 44 times for 211 yards (4.8 ypc) and a score in a 27-24 win. In fact, Purdue's 490 yards were the most it has achieved in Big Ten play. 

“We were able to get first downs,” Higgins said. “That was the main thing we emphasized before the game and during the game — get a first down. Anytime Iowa had some success, we were able to come back the next series and get a couple of first downs.”

Although the staff looks forward to Nord's return, the door is still open for Higgins to remain in his play calling role if Nord is not cleared for the Boilermakers' game at Illinois on Saturday. Saturday was the first game or practice Nord had missed in more than three decades of coaching. 

“It’s tough when you put all that time into it,” head coach Danny Hope said. “It’s like a player. The player is out and can’t be part of it. Coach Nord is out and couldn't be part of it. Tough thing for him emotionally but he was excited about the win.”




Well done high school motivational video

Well done high school video here from A.L. Brown high school in Kannapolis, North Carolina, who have put together an impressive couple of games to stay alive in the state playoffs.

In the first round of the playoffs A.L. Brown high school put together one of the most impressive comebacks in school history to beat North Forsyth. The team scored three touchdowns in the final three minutes of the game to force overtime, where they ended up capitalizing on the momentum that they had gained to earn a win and a spot in the second round of the playoffs.

That win forced a rematch with a Hickory Ridge team that beat them 63-42 earlier in the season. The highlight video is what the team watched before taking the field and winning in an epic 69-55 shootout where the two teams combined for over 1,400 yards of total offense.

The video includes some footage of their loss earlier in the year to Hickory Ridge, as well as their big come from behind win against North Forsyth in that first round playoff game.

Just before the season started, a player unexpectedly passed away, and head coach Mike Newsome, along with the staff and the team, decided to dedicate their season to him (as you can see at the end of the clip). Some pretty good motivational material in here.

 




Tim Beck: "Some games, you might as well not practice"

Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck is calling the shots for one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers rank second in scoring offense (37 ppg), and lead the league in total offense (482 ypg), rushing offense (269 ypg), pass efficiency (146.88), and long scrimmage plays of 20+ yards (62). Over the past few weeks, they've played their best football against some of the top units in the conference.

Beck obviously has no shortage of weapons to work with, and the staff has done a great job of maximizing the talent that they have in Lincoln. Backup running back Ameer Abdullah has stepped in nicely and ranks in the top six in the conference in rushing, while quarterback Taylor Martinez (who many criticized for accuracy and throwing mechanic issues last season) leads the conference in passing efficiency, and receiver Kenny Bell ranks fourth in the league in receiving yardage. Figuring out how defenses are going to scheme against such a balanced attack, with playmakers at every position has been a challenge on game day, forcing the offensive staff to make a ton of adjustments on the fly.

“It's so hard to explain. To figure out how teams play Ameer Abdullah, Jamal Turner, Taylor Martinez, Ben Cotton, Kyler Reed. How do they play them?" Beck told the World-Herald Bureau. "Nobody has the kinds of weapons we do offensively. You watch film on somebody and figure 'oh, that's what they're going to do.' They don't do that against us. Because you can't."

Sounds like a problem that a lot of offensive coordinators would love to have.

“Some games, you might as well not even practice.” Beck added, noting all of the in game adjustments that are needed to adjust to the opponent's defensive scheme.

One of the strategies that Beck and the offensive staff have used is what Ameer Abdullah calls the "stretch and puncture" where playcalls get the linebackers moving laterally, and then Beck calls something that challenges them vertically.

Nebraska (8-2, 5-1) will wrap the regular season up at home against Minnesota and then on the road at Iowa. They've put themselves in position for a quality bowl game, where they'll once again find themselves with plenty of time and practice to think about how defenses will scheme against their offensive weapons.

 

 




Tuesday TV - MACtion doubleheader tomorrow

No games on tonight, but we'll get to enjoy two big MAC games tomorrow night (Ohio at Ball State and Toledo at Northern Illinois) that will help decide the conference champions.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

No games

College:

No games

High School:

No games

 




Dana Holgorsen could have been head coach at Southern Miss

Oliver Luck hired Dana Holgorsen to be coach in waiting at West Virignia on December 22, 2010...and we all know the rest. By all accounts this has been a home run hire for Oliver Luck...but was if it wasn't...

Did you know that a week before hiring Holgorsen, Oliver Luck offered the same "coach in waiting" position to Mike Haywood? Haywood was just completing a highly successful second season as head coach at Miami (Ohio) when Luck called and offered him the future reigns of the West Virginia football team. 

As luck would have it (yeah, I did that), Pitt called Haywood within minutes of Luck's call and Haywood chose the Pitt job. 

So (work with me on this one), if Haywood had accepted Luck's offer and hence Dana not left Oklahoma State after the 2010 season and remained offensive coordinator for the 2011 season with Weeden and Blackmon (and others) we have to assume several programs would have rolled out the red carpet for him after the 2011 season. Perhaps he would have gotten the nod at Southern Miss to replace Larry Fedora (another highly successful offensive coordinator coming from Oklahoma State). Anyone think the Southern Miss fan base wishes they had Holgo on the sidelines in Hattiesburg right now?

"Sometimes it's better to be Lucky than to be good."

Tip of the cap to Mark Inabinett of AL.com for reporting the story as relayed by Haywood.




First and 10 - Coaches excelling in year one

First-year coaches are in position to win over half of 11 available FBS conference championships. We'll start off this week's edition of First and 10 by examining each situation and what they need to happen to win their respective conference crowns. 

1. Kyle Flood has Rutgers three wins away from a likely Orange Bowl berth. Flood, a six-year veteran of Greg Schiano's staff and former Rutgers player, has taken a good situation and improved upon it. Rutgers ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense at 13.4 points per game, and have allowed an average of just 10.3 points in Big East play. In a similar scenario to Flood's first year on the Rutgers staff, when Rutgers knocked off No. 2 Louisville 28-25 on a Thursday night, the Scarlet Knights and Cardinals will likely square off for a spot in the Orange Bowl on the final Thursday night of the season. Flood has a chance to cap his inaugural season by leading Rutgers to its first BCS game.

2. Tim DeRuyter needs one win to clinch Fresno State's first conference title since 1999. Ironically, 1999 was the first season of Mountain West Conference football, a league Fresno State was originally excluded from. After multiple rounds of conference realignment musical chairs, DeRuyter has the Bulldogs in position to win the MWC crown in their debut season in the league. All that's needed is a win over Air Force on Nov. 24.

3. Matt Campbell and Toledo can play their way into the MAC Championship. The Rockets stand at 5-1 in conference play, one game behind 6-0 Northern Illinois in the MAC West. On Wednesday night Toledo will travel to DeKalb, Ill., to battle the Huskies for the top spot in the division. Campbell needs three wins to give Toledo its first MAC title since 2004, Campbell's second season as a 24-year-old graduate assistant at Bowling Green. 

4. Gus Malzahn has Arkansas State on the cusp of back-to-back Sun Belt crowns. After dropping his first conference game, Malzahn has led his team to five straight victories and the top of the Sun Belt standings. The Sun Belt doesn't stage an official league championship game, but the unofficial Sun Belt Super Bowl will probably be December 1 when Arkansas State visits second place Middle Tennessee.

5. Jim L. Mora can be the king of college football in Los Angeles. The Bruins haven't beaten cross-town rival USC since 2006, but a victory on Saturday would wrap up its first non-sanction aided Pac-12 South championship and likely send the Bruins to Autzen Stadium for the second straight year for the conference title. 

6. Kevin Sumlin needs a lot of help, but his Aggies aren't out of the SEC West race. Assuming Sumlin's team beats Missouri on November 24, Texas A&M likely needs two massive upsets - Auburn over Alabama and Arkansas over LSU - to win the tiebreaker atop the SEC West. It's a longshot, but at this time three months ago no one Texas A&M a chance to win in Tuscaloosa, either. 

7. Due to no fault of his own, Urban Meyer can't win this year's Big Ten title. But if they weren't on probation, his Ohio State squad would undoubtedly be the runaway favorites at this point of the season. The 10-0 Buckeyes would also be square in the middle of the annual debate for the top two BCS spots. Meyer and co. will have to wait until next year.

8. The final WAC championship could be decided Saturday in Ruston, La. One of the unfortunate consequences of the game of college football musical chairs is that the WAC will close up shop as a football conference after this season. But in typical WAC fashion, Saturday's game between 4-0 Utah State and 4-0 Louisiana Tech will be nothing but entertaining, setting up one of the best good-on-good match-ups of the year. The Bulldogs average 53.4 points per game on offense, while the Aggies surrender just 13.5 a game, a gap of almost 40 points. 

9. Congratulations to Charley Molnar and Massachusetts. The Minutemen earned not only their first win of the season on Saturday, but their first win as an FBS program in topping Akron, 22-14. That leaves Southern Miss as the only FBS team in search of its first win.

10. In case you missed it. The Division II, Division III and NAIA playoff brackets were announced on Sunday. The FCS playoff bracket will be revealed this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Best of luck to all involved.