Vic Koenning: The worst thing that happens to a fighter...
Vic Koenning wants more toughness out of the Illinois linebackers.
In his second year as defensive coordinator / inside linebackers coach, Koenning says, "We're little cocker spaniels right now.”
His goal? Make them like Pitbulls.
Koenning told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, “Like Mickey told Rocky, 'The worst thing that can happen to a fighter is to get civilized. You've got to get back to old school.' In my opinion, we've got to get back to a little bit of old school.”
He didn’t stop there.
Koenning offered up, "It’s like one of those country dances. You take one step forward and two steps back or two steps forward and one step back, however that goes. I haven’t been able to crack the code with some of these guys to get them to absorb it. We’ve got a lot of questions to answer in the linebacker corps."
Following Saturday’s scrimmage, head coach Ron Zook said things looked a lot better than the first scrimmage from a year ago. Zook was pleased with the tackling, but disappointed with a number of big plays the defense allowed.
You can watch the Illinois spring game on BigTenNetwork.com on April 23 at 2 pm EST. The Big Ten Network will broadcast the replay at 7 pm EST.
Illinois practices this week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Zook's squad will open with five consecutive home games in 2011 against Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Arizona State, Western Michigan, and Northwestern. The schedule features 8 home games and just 4 road games.
Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin all travel to Champaigne. Gotta capitalize, Zooker.
Dana Holgorsen: It comes down to 3 things
Dana Holgorsen is implementing the diamond backfield set this spring at West Virginia.
It’s a set Holgorsen (39) first used at Oklahoma State, featuring three running backs in the backfield.
Holgorsen told Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail, “It's a little different. We can go inside and talk the rest of the day for, like, seven hours for me to explain the blocking stuff and schemes and all that, but what we do with one back or two backs, we can put a third one in there and do the same thing."
West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel admits, "It poses problems. You have a chance to insert a tight end or a lead back to outnumber you at the point of attack. But there's a balance. It's a lot like our (3-3-5) defense. We have the three linebackers and you don't know where the overload is coming from. It's the same thing in the run game."
"When you've got three backs in the backfield and the two wideouts go out, you've got to go out and cover the wideouts and take your chances stopping the three backs, or you have to drop a safety in and go one-on-one with your corners," said Casteel.
Holgorsen admittedly doesn’t care about the size of the backs. He explained, “It comes down to the three things. It comes down to being able to be productive when you run, being able to be productive when you block and being able to be productive when you have the ball in your hands.”
“Regardless if the guy weighs 160 or 260, if it’s productive it’s productive. We’ve had guys that are 185 pounds that were our best pas protectors, so they got more reps.”
Here’s Holgorsen talking with the media after Saturday’s practice:
Jim Grobe holding firm with his philosophy
Jim Grobe enters his eleventh season as Wake Forest head coach determined to get the Demon Deacons back to sucess.
In 2006, Grobe led Wake Forest to 11-3 record and Orange Bowl bid. Since then, the team has finished 9-4, 8-5, 5-7, and 3-9.
Much of the success was built on teams stockpiled with redshirt juniors and redshirt seniors.
So after consecutive losing seasons, has there been a massive overhaul? What about a change in philosophy?
Not so, according to Grobe, who spoke with the News Observer recently. Grobe said, “We haven't really changed. If we end up with 16 or 18 juniors and seniors out on the field starting for us and playing their very best football, then we're going to be a good football team."
The spring has been productive.
"Much more energy than we've had the last two years," Grobe said. "The last couple of years there was some complacency going on. Our players just kind of assumed that because we've done it three years in row that it would just happen."
In the off-season, former West Virginia assistant Lonnie Galloway joined the staff as wide receivers coach / passing game co-coordinator. Quarterbacks coach Tom Elrod added the title of passing game co-coordinator.
Brian Knorr shifted from wide receivers coach to co-defensive coordinator / linebackers. Defensive ends coach Tim Billing was promoted to co-defensive coordinator. He will now coach the outside linebackers. Keith Henry, who coached the corners last season, will now serve as the special teams coordinator.
Wake Forest opens at Syracuse. The home schedule includes Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame.
Pete Carroll on Gary Patterson: He gets it from A to Z
Pete Carroll took his “Win Forever” camp to TCU over the weekend.
Win Forever is a proven system of success for those who compete to maximize their potential in sports, entertainment, philanthropy, business, and life. It’s the "New Generation of Coaching for the Next Generation of Athlete."
In Fort Worth, Carroll offered a free 4-hour workshop to high school and college coaches.
He also complimented TCU head coach Gary Patterson by saying, "He gets it from a to z, how to deliver the message of a philosophy and something that is absolutely representative of who he is. In doing so, he's been consistently… at the top of his game and has brought TCU to a point where they are absolutely one of the top [teams] of the college football world."
The “Win Forever” camps continue in Palo Alto (May 15th) and Seattle (June 17th).
Listen closely on how it came together for Pete Carroll.
Looking to motivate a player to contribute to special teams?
UCONN head coach Paul Pasqualoni is using a story of David Tyree to motivate his best players to contribute to special teams.
Tyree, who is most known for making the leaping catch of Eli Manning’s floater in Super Bowl XLII, once started out as a disgruntled strong safety at Syracuse when Pasqualoni served as the head coach.
Pasqualoni explained to the TheDay.com , "We talk about this for an hour or so, so I finally say to him, 'Here's the deal. Here's what I'll do right now. I'll make a deal with you ... a handshake deal. I'll let you be a wide receiver if you play all four units of special teams. And you may never, ever walk into my office and say, 'Coach, I'm tired of special teams.' He said, 'All right, I'll do it.'”
"What happens? He becomes a special teams freaking highlight film. So now it's time for the draft. The Giants certainly are not going to take him as a wide receiver, so they take him as a special teams guy. Now he's playing core special teams … he's playing all units, so now he's at The Game (Super Bowl) and playing wide receiver because by now his craft is wide receiver."
"But he's at The Game because of special teams. He's not at The Game because of wide receiver. He dresses, and now they've got an extra wide receiver and he's able to go into the game. They need an extra guy, throw him into the game, and what happens in the Super Bowl? He makes the catch with the ball pinned against his head, and it just turns out to be the biggest play of the game."
"And how did he get there? He got there from special teams. That's the truth."
Despite never catching more than 19 passes in 7 seasons in the NFL, Tyree had a terrific career. Not only did he win a Super Bowl, but Tyree also earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2005...as a special teams player.
Pasqualoni will coach his first game for UCONN when the Huskies open the 2011 season against Fordham. The next three games are at Vanderbilt, Iowa State, and at Buffalo.
Gary Pinkel explains turning down Michigan interview
Gary Pinkel is now locked up through 2017 after officially agreeing to two-year extension.
Today, Pinkel talked about his future and reflected back on the opportunity to interview for the Michigan head coaching job.
Pinkel told Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune, “That was a really difficult situation just because I grew up in Ohio and my whole life I hear about Ohio State and Michigan. To have an opportunity like that is sort of a once-in-a-lifetime thing. For me it still boiled down to I just feel so much a part of Missouri now.”
“The reason I didn’t pursue it was because I feel so much a part of Missouri. I’m so committed personally to continue to build the opportunity I was given. And family, a combination of those things. So, I bowed out of it. I feel really good about it. I thought a lot about it. It got really close. But before I went to the interview, it was a matter of hours before when I decided I wasn’t going to pursue it and I wanted to stay at the University of Missouri. So, that’s kind of the conclusion I came to.”
Pinkel added, “We’re a shining light on the state of Missouri and particularly the University of Missouri and Columbia. To me, it’s a responsibility. I have responsibility there. And I take it very seriously. If we can help the university out in any way, that certainly means an awful lot to me.”
In the meantime, the defense has dibs on the black jerseys after yesterday’s triumph over the offense.
Here’s the evidence:
Ed Orgeron on the benefits of early morning practices
Lane Kiffin made a decision to move to early morning spring practices. The players and staff like the move, so the Trojans will continue with morning practices in the Fall.
Ed Orgeron says, “We like it. I love it. I’m an early morning guy. We get ‘em early. I think it gives them an opportunity to come in totally focused. We get our work done. They go to class the rest of the day. They have actually more rest. It gives the coaches more time. We all like it.”
“They are getting taped about 5 or 5:15, meetings start at 6, but remember this…their day finishes at 10 am with us.”
“They have the rest of the day to go to school, relax, and they have an evening. When you practice in the evening, you’re off at 6:30, you eat supper and then go to study hall, you’re home at 10:30 or 11 at night.”
One of the points of emphasis this spring for Orgeron is developing depth along the defensive line.
Orgeron said developing depth is his top priority this spring. He explained, “Our guys got tired (last year), you can see it on the film, which was no excuse. Our pass rush was nowhere near where it is supposed to be, especially in our 2-minutes drills. You look at it, if we win three 2-minute drills, we would have won 3 more games. The 2-minute drill is a stop or sack-fumble. That is definitely an emphasis for us.”
USC opens with three consecutive home games against Minnesota, Utah, and Syracuse.
Embree set to launch proverbial "heave-ho" to several Buffaloes
There is an old saying in coaching that goes like this…”You better get them before they get you.”
In other words, coaches better get rid of the players not doing what they are supposed to do before those same players get the coaches dismissed from their jobs.
It appears Jon Embree understands that slogan quite well. The Colorado head coach admitted yesterday that’s he is getting ready to make a number of roster cuts.
According to The Brush News Tribune, Embree will do the dirty work face-to-face with the players getting the proverbial “heave-ho.”
Embree explained, "Some of them, if they can't play and they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing academically and they're not doing some other things and buying into the program, won't be here. It's just that simple. I told them when I got hired everyone has a clean slate. So this will be four months to show me they want to be a part of this. I told them it's a privilege to be a Buffalo. It's not a right.”
"So they have had since December 7 to show they want to be here. Some guys don't want to be here by body language, by how they work in the weight room, by how they work in the classroom, by how they work on the football field."
"They've been warned many times. There are no surprises. I've told everyone from Day One that everyone is year-to-year. It's like I told them, I don't ask a lot. I want effort. I want you to compete and I want you to do it on and off the field. That's basically all I ask. Be on time. I think those are pretty simple rules and for some guys, they can't do that."