Craig Fitzgerald: "We're still getting strong, we're still greedy"

In post game interviews, we've heard numerous players credit Penn State strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald and his staff with their success through the midway point of the season, and in the fourth quarter in particular. Against Northwestern a few weekends ago, the Nittany Lions put together a 22 point fourth quarter, and the defense shut out the Wildcats in the final quarter, to survive with a 39-28 win.

Players say that they feel healthier, stronger, and fresher than they ever had through this point in previous seasons. Fitzgerald's in season plan calls for working a lot of the smaller muscle groups, and doing balance work, while still focusing on adding strength.

"We're still getting strong, we're still greedy." he notes in the clip, which highlights the work that him and director of training services Tim Bream put in.

At about the two minute mark of the clip, Bream demonstrates a pretty sweet NASA inspired anti-gravity treadmill and how they utilize it to get injured players back on their feet.


Long: "The chart had nothing to do with it, I felt like going for it"

When asked about lining up for the two point conversion and the win against Nevada in overtime on Saturday, San Diego State head coach Rocky Long could only shrug his shoulders and smile, saying "I just felt like going for it."

After the game, Long assured reporters that while his decision to go for two in order to get within three points during the third quarter was aided by the chart that many coordinators and head coaches keep on their play call sheets to advise them of whether to kick it or go for two, the overtime decision was all about a gut feeling.

"The chart had nothing to do with that. It was a gut feeling." Long added.

The conversion improved San Diego State to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in Mountain West play, and earned Long our "Call of the Week."

Monday TV - Detroit at Chicago

Lions at the Bears tonight, and tomorrow we'll have some Sun Belt Tuesday night action.

Eastern time listed.


Detroit at Chicago - 8:30 - ESPN


No games tonight

High School:

No games

Idaho dismisses Robb Akey as head coach

As first reported in The Scoop this afternoon and announced officially by the school this afternoon, Idaho has terminated the contract of head coach Robb Akey. 

“The President (Duane Nellis) and I believe it is important to make this move now so we can immediately begin the process of hiring a new coach for the 2013 season,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said in a statement. “We appreciate Coach Akey’s enthusiasm and dedication to the University of Idaho but this is the right move at this time.”

In his sixth season as head coach of the Vandals, Akey carried a 20-50 record. Idaho was beaten by Louisiana Tech 70-28 on Saturday night, dropping its record to 1-7 on the season. Akey's tenure reached a high point in 2009 as he lead Idaho to an 8-5 record and win in the Humanitarian Bowl. The program slipped steadily following that season as Idaho went 6-7 in 2010 and 2-10 last seson. 

Idaho's new head coach steps into a unique and challenging situation. Idaho and New Mexico State were left without a conference home after the WAC dropped football due to the sweeping changes of conference realignment. The Vandals will compete as an FBS independent in 2013; its recently announced schedule includes home dates with Northern Illinois, Temple, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Old Dominion with visits to North Texas, Wyoming, Washington State, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, New Mexico State in a home-and-home agreement and a to-be-determined BCS opponent. 

It all adds up to a tough task for a new head coach that inherits a team currently ranked 101st or lower in 12 of the 17 official statistics tracked by the NCAA. 

In the meantime, offensive coordinator Jason Gesser will serve as the interim head coach. Gesser played quarterback for Akey at Washington State a decade ago before a brief stint in professional football. In just his second year of coaching at the college level, Gesser was brought in from Eastside High School (WA) to serve as running backs coach in 2011 before being promoted to offensive coordinator this season. 

Coaches of the Week - Week 8

Head Coach of the Week - Bill Snyder, Kansas State: What else can be said about the man that has twice led Kansas State into national prominence? How about this:

 In leading Kansas State to its third road victory over a ranked team this season, Kansas State cemented itself as a true contender for the school's first national championship after a 55-14 demolition of West Virginia. 'Cats quarterback Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns against just two incompletions, while the Kansas State defense forced WVU quarterback Geno Smith into his first interception in 273 attempts, and then picked him off again six throws later. Snyder's team held West Virginia to season-lows of 243 yards of total offense and 3.9 yards per play. In fact, each team ran 62 plays but Kansas State accounted for nearly twice as many yards and held the ball for almost seven minutes longer than West Virginia.

Offensive Staff of the Week - Louisiana Tech: Plenty of other offenses faced stiffer competition on Saturday, but Louisiana Tech's offense was so productive that we couldn't ignore the Bulldogs in good consience. In garnering 56 points and 582 yards in the first half, Louisiana Tech produced in two quarters what many teams consider a good two weeks. The Bulldogs set a school record with 70 points, a total that Sonny Dykes' team reached with 19 minutes still to play. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's group became the first FBS team to top 400 yards on the ground and through the air this season. In 95 snaps, Louisiana Tech gained 839 yards (a school record and the most by an FBS team this season) while achieving 8.8 yards per play and 39 first downs. Louisiana Tech has topped 40 games in every game this season and been held under 50 just once through seven games. Louisiana Tech sports information director Patrick Walsh summed up the night perfectly in our Tweet of the Day: 

Defensive Staff of the Week - Oregon: In the Thursday night spotlight at Arizona State, Chip Kelly's team demonstrated to the nation it was much more than a fast offense and flashy uniforms. Nick Aliotti's unit surrendered a Sun Devils touchdown on their first play and did not allow another point until the game was well out of reach. Arizona State's next 12 possessions produced a total of 221 yards with seven punts, two interceptions, a turnover on downs and missed field goal mixed in. The Sun Devils' 14 offensive points were a season low and their 408 yards were their second-fewest to date. In all, Oregon intecepted four passes, collected five sacks and held Arizona State scoreless in three red zone trips. After Thursday's performance, Oregon leads the country in red zone defense with only 15 scores allowed in 29 trips. 

Special Teams Unit of the Week - TCU: Despite a disappointing ending for Gary Patterson's team in triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech, special teams coordinator Gary Sharp's unit played winning football on Saturday. Frogs kicker Jaden Oberkrom nailed all six of his field goal tries and converted 5-of-5 extra points. Wide receiver Skye Dawson was a difference maker for TCU in the return game as he brought back five punts for a total of 61 yards, including a 22-yard return to the Texas Tech 31 that ultimately gave TCU a 17-7 lead. Ethan Perry booted three punts for a net average of 45 yards, two of which pinned the Red Raiders inside the 20. Equally important for Sharp's unit, TCU nullified Texas Tech's return game by not allowing a punt return on the day and limiting Texas Tech to a sum of two kickoff returns that totaled just 15 and 11 yards. 

Call of the Week - Todd Berry (ULM) and Rocky Long (San Diego State): For any head coaches that may be reading this, a sure-fire way to win our Call of the Week is to successfully go for two and the win in overtime. Todd Berry and Rocky Long share our award this week because both head coaches did just that on Saturday night.

First, Berry's team fought back from a 28-7 deficit to force overtime against Western Kentucky. After WKU scored to open overtime, ULM quarterback Kolton Browning ran in from three yards out to bring the Warhawks within one and then hit Rashon Ceasar in the end zone for the game-winning conversion. It was the second such win this season for Berry's team as ULM famously toppled then-No. 8 Arkansas in similar fashion on Sept. 8. 

Rocky Long's team also rode a wave of momentum into overtime after the Aztecs fough back from a 31-21 hole with 10 points in the game's final 3:45 to force an extra frame. San Diego State quarterback Adam Dingwell went a perfect 3-for-3 in overtime as hit a pass for four yards on first down, then a 21-yard touchdown strike that set up his game-winning two-point conversion to Rob Andrews. 

Both wins are crucial for each head coach. ULM became the first team not named LSU or Alabama to defeat Western Kentucky in the Hilltoppers' last 15 games, allowing Berry's squad to stand alone in first place in the Sun Belt. Long's team has now won three straight Mountain West games to pull into a four-way tie for second place in the MWC. Both teams need one more victory to achieve bowl eligibility. 

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