What We're Watching - Week 8
With another full slate of games ahead of us tomorrow, here's what we'll be keeping an extra close eye on throughout the day.
LSU at Texas A&M (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): This is an opportunity for a statement game for Texas A&M. Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury's explosive offense (tied for sixth nationally in total offense, 7.09 yards per play) faces John Chavis' second-ranked LSU defense. If Texas A&M pulls out the win, it will be because quarterback Johnny Manziel (24 touchdowns through six games) found a way to solve an LSU defense that has surrendered just 13 scores this season. These programs have met 50 times previously, although Saturday will be the first meeting in College Station since 1995. Texas A&M wants to re-kindle this rivalry, but the only way to to do that is with a win.
Rutgers at Temple (12 p.m. ET, Big East Network): Raise your hand if you knew this was a battle for the top spot in the Big East standings. Steve Addazio has led Temple to a 2-0 start in the Owls' return to the Big East despite ranking last in the league in total offense and total defense. Addazio's team relies heavily on the run (2.1:1 rush-pass ratio), while Rutgers ranks second nationally in rush defense at 60.8 yards per game and 2.25 yards per carry allowed. Both of these teams' success lies in forcing turnovers (Rutgers leads in the nation in turnover margin, Temple is No. 12), so whoever can carve out an advantage in that area will likely win the game.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State (12 p.m. ET, FX): A year removed from winning the Big 12 championship, Mike Gundy's team is still trying to sort out exactly what it is. The Cowboys lead the country in total offense by a wide margin, nearly 34 yards per game over No. 2 Baylor. But their most impressive win to date is over Louisiana - Lafayette, and they come into Saturday off a 20-14 win over 1-5 Kansas in which the Jayhawks outgained OSU 398-371. Paul Rhoads' team will try to make this game close and low-scoring. Iowa State is 19-1 in Rhoads' tenure when holding teams under 24 points, and 3-21 when giving up 24 points or more. Iowa State is also 10-6 under Rhoads in games decided by a touchdown or less.
South Carolina at Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Mark Richt and co. will be rooting hard for the Gators, as a Florida win essentially sets up a winner-take-all matchup for the control of the SEC East at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party next week. Meanwhile, a South Carolina win means Steve Spurrier's team will just have to get by Tennessee and Arkansas to clinch a trip to Atlanta for the second time in three years. The Gamecocks have won two straight in this series while limiting the Gators to just 26 combined points.
BYU at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC): This game will likely play out like seemingly every Notre Dame game this season - gritty, close and low scoring. Both of these squads rank among the nation's top seven nationally in scoring defense, allowing just over 22 points per game combined. Bronco Mendenhall has an opportunity to put a peacock-sized feather in his team's cap as a win would put the Cougars in a great position to finish 2012 at 9-3 and a top 25 ranking. On the other sideline, all that's on the line for Notre Dame is keeping intact its first 7-0 start since 2002 with a primetime showdown at Oklahoma on the immediate horizon.
Nebraska at Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Bo Pelini's struggling defense faces perhaps the most diverse attack in the Big Ten. Any hopes either team has of playing for the Big Ten title likely dies with a loss on Saturday. Expect Nebraska and its Big Ten-leading scoring offense to try to outscore Northwestern, while the Wildcats will attempt to exploit the Cornhuskers' penchant for turning over the football (No. 104 nationally in turnover margin. Oh, and there's this:
The last time Nebraska played Northwestern in Evanston, Al Capone was there for the game ... bit.ly/VjnCjI— Rittenberg/Bennett (@ESPN_BigTen) October 19, 2012
Kansas State at West Virginia (7 p.m. ET, FOX): Bill Snyder's tough-as-nails bunch travels to face West Virginia in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium. The last time Dana Holgorsen's team played at home it lit up Baylor for 10 touchdowns. A Kansas State victory puts the Wildcats firmly ahead of the pack in the Big 12, while a loss for West Virginia ends the conference and national title aspirations that seemed so promising just one week ago. West Virginia's highly publicized offense is more productive of the two but Kansas State's is actually more efficienct, churning out 0.65 points per play to WVU's 0.58 points per play.
Florida State at Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Consider this a referendum for two young coaching tenures. Both teams need wins to stay in the hunt for the ACC Championship but, most importantly, both teams need a win over each other. Al Golden is looking for his first victory over FSU, while a loss by the Seminoles means nothing short toppling Florida can make this season a success. Jimbo Fisher's team dominates the ACC statistically, leading the conference in total offense, total defense, scoring offense, scoring defense, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense and rushing defense. They also place second in the ACC in rushing offense behind Georgia Tech, but possess the conference's best yards per carry average (6.28).
Baylor at Texas (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Texas returns home reeling after consecutive losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma. Mack Brown's teams traditionally play their best football following Oklahoma, going 13-1 immediately after the Red River Rivalry. Baylor carries in a two-game losing streak of its own, surrendering a total of 17 touchdowns in losses to West Virginia and TCU. Baylor leads the nation in passing offense with nearly 400 yards per game faces a Texas defense that has allowed Big 12 quarterbacks to go 65-of-101 for 903 yards with eight touchdowns against two interceptions. The numbers aren't much better for Texas' rush defense as opposing Big 12 offenses have carried 133 times for 810 yards (6.1 ypc) for 10 scores. Solace for Texas comes in the fact that Baylor brings in a defense ranked among the bottom four nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. Expect an old-fashion Big 12 shootout that lasts deep into the night.
Washington at Arizona (10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks): After a 3-0 start Rich Rodriguez is still searching for his first Pac-12 win. Washington is also looking for its first victory since the upset of Stanford on Sept. 27. Scott from our staff will be on hand in Tucson. Follow him on Twitter @FootballScoop for his observations of the game.
Very well done HS hype video
After leaving his job as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at North Park University (D-III - Chicago, IL) back in February, Todd Winter found himself back at the high school level in charge of the Pinecrest Academy(GA) football team.
Here's the hype video, entitled "This is Pinecrest Football", that has been making its way through the community to help get everyone amped up for their game against George Walton Academy later tonight. Under coach Winter, there looks to be a lot of excitement at Pinecrest.
Adding from experience, we can tell you that coach Winter is one of the good guys in our profession. He has always run a first class program, has put together a solid staff with a tireless work ethic, and is just as strong as a motivator as he is on a white board talking schemes.
Take a look at the video that has the whole community buzzing. Very well done.
Charley Molnar pranks UMass players
During the past off season, and into fall camp, we saw some inspiring videos of coaches awarding walk on players with full scholarships.
Charley Molnar decided to deliver the news to a few walk ons in a much different manner...and he sells it quite well originally, if we might add.
Take a look. Pretty smooth move by Molnar.
Video tour of Memphis' facilities
After dropping their first four games, including the first two by a combined 8 points, head coach Justin Fuente and the Tigers got in the win column against Conference USA opponent Rice in their first game of October.
As the clip shows, one of the areas that Fuente has had an immediate impact on during his first season on campus is their facilities.
The team meeting room got a complete overhaul with new seats, some sweet new wall graphics, and a new HD sound and video system.
A few Memphis players lead the cameras through a tour of the new upgrades, and point out some of the key changes that coach Fuente has made, including a tour of a room that is normally only accessible to players on the leadership council.
Tomorrow night the Tigers take on Central Florida at 8pm ET on CSS.
Holgorsen: "We don't have time to pout"
Coming off their first loss of the season last weekend to Texas Tech, West Virginia (5-1, 2-1) has no time to "pout" as they take on a top five Kansas State squad this weekend.
“It doesn’t matter who you’ve got the next week, you don’t have time to pout. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you, so basically what you’ve got to do is you can’t let it beat you twice." Dana Holgorsen explained to 790 The Zone in Atlanta.
Holgorsen says that they addressed what they need to fix from a schematic and mental standpoint last weekend and are ready to take on the Wildcats tomorrow.
"That’s what this profession and this game is all about.” he said.
Holgorsen also referenced how disciplined he remembers Bill Snyder's teams being from his days as a position coach and offensive coordinator at other Big 12 schools.
"They’re just so disciplined. I’ve got such an appreciation for it. When I was an offensive coordinator and a position coach going against Coach Snyder, it happened four or five times...you just know that they play so hard. They’re disciplined in everything that they do. They don’t beat themselves. But, as a head coach, you gain even more of an appreciation for what he does with his program."
This year is no different for Snyder, who's team discipline has shown not only in their record (6-0, 3-0) but also in their statistics. Kansas State is the least penalized team in the country (just over 22 ypg), and rank among the top teams in the country in turnover margin (+10). Also, Kansas State has been able to put together long, sustained drives to eat up the clock. Dating back to last season, the Wildcats are 12-3 when they've controlled the clock and had the ball longer than their opponent.
We also noticed that when the Wildcats score on defense and special teams they are 15-0 under Snyder, and the Wildcats lead the nation in non-offensive touchdowns scored dating back to 1999 with 84.
The two Big 12 teams will face off at 7pm ET and the game can be seen on FOX.
High school kicker nails a 67 yarder to send game into OT
There are some things you just can't coach.
Like this 67 yard field goal at the end of regulation to send Central Valley (WA) into overtime against Shadle Park (WA) last night.
Yes, a 67 yard field goal. Central Valley went on to win the game in OT, 62-55.
Although the kick was a state record, beating out the previous record of a 62 yarder, the 67 yard kick isn't even a national record (tied for second nationally), coming up just a yard short of a 68 yard field goal that was kicked back in 1985 in Nevada.
Take a look at the video. Notice the ball is being snapped from midfield and he's kicking it from the opposite 43 yard line. Pretty incredible.
Find a way to make an impression with your recruits
This is one of those stories we wish we had some audio or video to add.
For the second year in a row, Mark Richt and the Georgia staff called Tray Matthews, one of their four star commitments, who was celebrating his birthday to sing him a special "Happy Birthday."
Richt called Matthew's high school coach at school, and the coach got him on the phone during lunch to sing the message.
“Coach Richt said hello and started singing again. He tried to hit a real high note this time. It was so funny. I mean, he tried real hard to get that high note. And I will give him the benefit of a doubt … He did all right singing.” Matthews said, and added that Richt did the same thing last year.
Sometimes it's the little things we do as coaches that stick out to the kids that we recruit.
“It means a lot for Coach Richt to do that. They don’t do it for every recruit. It shows me how much they want me. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to have good coaches around me, and to be committed to the University of Georgia.”
Explaining that he is 100% committed to the Bulldogs, Matthews says that he still plans to take the rest of his official visits, and that only one thing will be able to pry him away from his commitment to Georgia.
“If they have coaches that are identical to Mark Richt and that whole coaching staff..and if that other place was just like Athens, Ga. But there probably aren’t any coaches or any places exactly like that.” Matthews said.
Everyone has their own unique approach to recruiting. Like we mentioned earlier, sometimes it's the little things that go the furthest with recruits, while other times it takes something a little over the top, like mailing 105 letters to a single recruit in one day, or going to their high school game via helicopter to make a lasting impression. Whatever yours is...find it, work on it, and perfect it.
Friday TV - UConn at Syracuse
The Orange take on the Huskies tonight on ESPN, and there's also a handful of high school games on.
Eastern time listed.
Connecticut at Syracuse - 8 - ESPN
Brentwood (TN) at Ensworth (TN) - 8 - ESPNU
Mission Veijo (CA) at Tesoro (CA)- 10:30 - Fox Sports South