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Impressive accomplishment from the Washington defense last night

Justin Wilcox and the defensive staff at Washington put together an impressive game plan last night to stifle the Stanford run game.

The Huskies held Stanford to just 65 yards rushing last night (the Cardinal ran for 202 against USC), often putting up to eight and nine guys in the box to stuff the run and getting guys in great positions to make plays defensively. What makes this even more impressive is the clear adjustments Wilcox' guys made after allowing nearly 250 yards rushing against LSU just over 2 weeks ago. 

The last time that Stanford rushed for less than 90 yards in a game was back in 2008, Jim Harbaugh's second year on The Farm, in a 14-31 loss against TCU; however we did not that Duke held the Cardinal to 92 yards rushing in week 2 of this season. 

Credit Justin Wilcox and the staff for a job well done last night. They had a solid game plan and the Huskies were ready to play against a quality opponent.

Washington heads to Oregon next week, and will have to stop a run game that has failed to reach the 100 yard mark rushing just twice in the past 31 games (against LSU in the season opener in 2011 - 95 yards net rushing, and Auburn in the National Title game in 2010/2011 season - 75 yards net rushing). The following week they take on USC at home.

Kickoff vs. Oregon is scheduled for 10:30pm ET and can be seen on ESPN.

On an related note, we noticed this gif created by Timothy Burke last night. Too funny not to include. 

Be smart about what you put on film

Former North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop is taking the year off and using his time to watch game film, not football on TV, which he hopes will “ease some of the pain of not coaching a team”.

Shoop is also writing a column focusing on UNC, Duke and NC State football for a local website. 

This week Shoop has an outstanding take on how teams should approach facing a lesser opponent, particularly early in the season. He advocates focusing on strategy and not statistics and views these types of games as “an opportunity to create tendencies that would give an advantage later.”

Shoop references a matchup in 2010 against FCS opponent William & Mary, the week before UNC traveled to Florida State. Shoop was confident his team was good enough to win and as opposed to trying everything they could to win convincingly, the Tar Heels took a different approach. They ran the football 37 times with a deliberate intent to mess with the minds of the Seminoles, who would be studying the game film. "I kept calling running plays from a lot of two tight end sets knowing that FSU would spend lots of time fitting those runs. The computer reports that the defensive coaches at FSU were looking at said what our staff wanted them to say. In a handful of identifiable formations the Tar Heels were going to run the ball."

UNC squeaked out a 21-17 win that Saturday, but their planning and preparation set them up for success the following week in Tallahassee. FSU was set to stop the Tar Heels rushing attack, but what they got instead were passing plays out of the previous weeks rushing formations. QB TJ Yates set a school record with 439 passing yards as the Tar Heels beat the Seminoles.

This week UNC faces an 0-4 Idaho in Chapel Hill, before traveling to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech. Shoop believes Carolina may follow a similar strategy as they did back in 2010, being careful what they put on film for the Hokies to see. 

Smart strategy from a good coach. Some staff will be wise to scoop Shoop up this off-season.  

Friday TV - Hawaii at BYU

Hawaii and Brigham Young in the prime time slot tonight.

Eastern time listed.


No games


Hawaii at BYU - 8 - ESPN

High School:

No games

New law in California provides "Student-Athlete Bill of Rights"

On Thursday, California became the first state to sign into law financial protection for collegiate student-athletes.  The Student-Athlete Bill of Rights will require universities that generate average media revenues greater than $10 million per year to cover medical costs for low-income students who sustain injuries playing college sports. Today, this law will affect just four of California’s 17 universities that participate in Division I or II athletics: USC, Cal, UCLA and Stanford.

A majority of the financial protections put in place by the new law are intended for student athletes who suffer career-ending injuries. These schools are now required to provide academic scholarships to students who lose their athletic scholarships because of an injury. The law also requires universities to cover insurance deductibles and pay health care premiums for low-income athletes.

Law makers hope that in the event a student-athlete is unable to continue playing their sport due to injury, they would still be encouraged to remain at the university to complete their course work and graduate. Thousands of student-athletes are injured while training or competing at the collegiate level every year. The NCAA and the Journal of Athletic training recently completed a 16 year study that showed in football alone, there were 30,797 injuries from games and more than 53,298 from practice sessions. Many of these injuries are career ending.

“I am big fan of collegiate athletics. But I am also concerned that the vast amount of money in collegiate sports has distracted us from the primary purpose of our colleges. With billions of dollars in television revenue gained on the backs of student-athletes, it is shameful that so few student-athletes actually graduate” says California Senator Alex Padilla. All four schools impacted by this new law compete in the Pac 12 and are scheduled to earn at least $30 million per year with the new 12 year, $4.3 billion TV deal with ESPN and FOX.

For coaches, this new law should provide piece of mind to them, their players and their player’s families. Parents no longer need to be concerned should their child be injured competing that they would then be forced to pay out of pocket for medical care or education expenses that they may not be able to afford in the first place. Coaches could also see an improvement on their graduation rates. Providing this new financial protection to those athletes who can no longer compete will allow them to stay in school and continue earning their degrees, no longer negatively affecting graduation rates or APR.

It will be interesting to see the success that the Student-Athlete Bill of Rights has in California and if other states soon follow suit. Have to think coaches recruiting on behalf of the universities impacted by this new law will pitch this as an additional benefit for the prospective student athletes. 

High School catch of the year?

A few weeks ago we ran a story about former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams giving a pre season speech to Excelsior Springs HS (MO), his high school alma mater, and the team had since gone on to win their first four games. The previous year the team had won two games the entire season.

Today, we caught wind of this catch from Excelsior Springs, which has since been featured on SportCenter in what many Kansas City news outlets are calling the catch of the year. After watching it, we find it hard to argue.

Not only is it an amazing catch, but the receiver then has the composure and frame of mind to finish the play off with a touchdown. Pretty impressive.

Chip Kelly explains how he uses his offense to land defensive recruits

Oregon is known for their uniform combinations, and high octane offense that's executed with some of the fastest skill players in the country.

However, last week against Arizona it was the defense that got the job done, finishing with a shutout despite the Wildcats taking six trips inside the red zone.

Kelly noted on Sirius XM radio today that he's been bragging about his defense since he was hired as the head coach, people just weren't listening.

Kelly was then asked about the recruiting pitch that he sells to defensive players (specifically defensive lineman and linebackers) when he sits down in front of them, trying to sell the Oregon defense.

"That's easy," Kelly explained. "Our whole philosophy is speed, speed, speed whether your on offense or defense."

"Our job is real easy, you go into a defensive lineman's home and ask him if you want to rush the quarterback...Because you're going to play on a team with one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and your going to get to rush the passer. People have more passing attempts against us than they do against most people because people are usually down when they play us."

"If kids want to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback, then come here because you'll have an opportunity to do it more here than you will anywhere else." he said.

Kelly also says that the fact that their defense is on the field for more snaps per game compared to a lot of other teams is another selling point.

"I don't know how someone can go into a kid's home and say 'Hey, we run a great ball control offense, we hold the ball for 40 minutes a game, and you're going to get to play 25 or 30 snaps on defense...Come play for us!'" 

Oregon takes on Washington State this weekend up in Pullman. Kick off is scheduled for 10:30pm ET, and the game can be seen on ESPN2.

Urban Meyer: 4 head coaching stops, 4 retained defensive coordinators

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been a head coach at three other programs. At each of his four stops Meyer has decided to retain the defensive coordinator. Each one of those first three defensive coordinators has gone on to become a head coach and Luke Fickell (who served as interim head coach last season) has a very bright future ahead of him. 

The defensive coordinator he retained at Bowling Green, was Tim Beckman, at Utah it was Kyle Whittingham, and at Florida it was Charlie Strong. When Meyer was hired at Ohio State, he decided to keep Fickell on board to run the defense.

That's without mentioning the number of former offensive assistants now holding head coaching positions (Dan Mullen, Steve Addazio, Dan McCarney...etc.). Long story short, Coach Meyer can evaluate talent. 

On Saturday, Luke Fickell's defensive game will play a huge role for the Buckeyes specifically their ability to control the Michigan State run game.

Michigan State is an impressive 20-1 (95%) under Mark Dantonio since 2010 when out rushing their opponent. When the Spartans rush for over 200 yards in a game they are 16-2 (89%) under Dantonio. So far this season, Michigan State has rushed for over 200 yards twice (Boise State  - 232 yards rushing and Eastern Michigan - 276 yards rushing), winning both contests.

Ohio State is currently ranked 33rd nationally (118 ypg), and 7th in the Big Ten in stopping the run.

The two teams kickoff their Big Ten schedule at 3:30pm ET Saturday on ABC.



Diaco: Creating turnovers is a distant fourth in my philosophy

Notre Dame has rode their strong defense to a 4-0 record, including wins over Michigan State and Michigan in back to back weeks.

Yesterday, after being asked if an emphasis on turnovers is his main priority, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco discussed the areas of emphasis that he has had since he arrived at Notre Dame, noting that creating turnovers are a distant fourth on his list. Notre Dame currently ranks 5th in the country in turnover margin at 2.25 per game.

"We can never move too far from our core defensive beliefs." Diaco explained.

"We're interested in keeping the points down, so in keeping the points down, the next piece that produces points is big plays. So defensively we've got to be sure that we're constantly focused on eliminating big plays."

"After that we try to analyze what the opponent does to produce points, so we can limit and keep the points down. After that, if I had to put an emphasis...if you forced me to, we're interested in attacking the football and creating ball disruptions."

That's an interesting choice of words.

The Irish have this weekend off, and will take on Miami (FL) next weekend in South Bend in game two of a four game home stretch.