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Vance Bedford: Charlie Strong is back to his old self, he's in everybody's face

Charlie Strong is set to enter his second season as the head coach at Louisville. With a ton of youth and inexperience across the roster, the Cardinals are picked the finish seventh in the Big East.

Strong, however, may just will the program to another bowl game.  At media day on Saturday, Strong went on a fired up, 10-minute opening rant about where the program is heading. 

Let’s just say that Strong is fired up.  At the podium, he took the opportunity to point out a number of positives in the program, some of which we must say are quite impressive, and then pointed out the immediate challenges to have a successful 2011 season.

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford even says Strong is a different man in year number two as a head coach.

Bedford said, “Now he’s doing what he has to do to be a leader. He’s back to his old self, like he was at Florida when he was the (defensive) coordinator. Now we are seeing what Coach Strong really is like. We get after it in practice. He’s in everybody’s face.”

“He’s comfortable in his role now. Coach Strong is just more of a developed leader right now. He understands what it takes.”

The Cardinals do have to settle on a quarterback, but as you should expect, the program is going to be about defense as long as Strong is the head coach.

Strong said, “You look at our defense with the front seven, this defense has a chance to be an outstanding defense.  The strength of our football team should be our defense.  We’ll be good down the middle.  The issue right now is the corner position.”

“We are a pressure defense.  We are not going to back down.  We are going to always play man coverage and pressure people.”

“We won’t be a good football team unless we get those guys developed on the offensive and defensive lines.”

Louisville opens with Murray State.  A week later, the Cardinals will host FIU.




Lane Kiffin dealing with world's longest injury list

A year ago, due to low squad numbers, Lane Kiffin decided to significantly reduce the amount of tackling the Trojans did during practice. USC absolutely couldn’t afford to lose anyone due to injuries.

As a result, poor tackling showed up mightily in the early part of the season.

This year, Kiffin made the decision to return to more of the physical types of practices that USC was accustomed to during the Pete Carroll era.

The result has been a ridiculously long injury list.  

As usual, Kiffin began his Friday post-practice media session by going through the injury list.  His first words were, “Okay. Continuing to mount…”

In fact, Kiffin ran through a list of 18 players that are either OUT or currently injured.

A reporter even asked, “If you had this many guys out last fall, could you have practiced?”

Kiffin said, “Probably not. We’re getting thin, but it’s the decision we made with the direction to go.  We’ll fight through it and get them back eventually.”

Take a minute to listen to Lane’s opening comments.  It makes us wonder what the Trojans are doing at practice to accumulate all of these injuries.  It seems abnormally higher than most other college programs.




Todd Graham: We've been running a play every 17 seconds

During his four years as the Tulsa head coach, Todd Graham's teams averaged over 40 points per game three different seasons.  Starting in 2007, the Golden Hurricanes averaged 41, 47, 29, and 41 points per game.

Make no mistake about it, Graham is serious about high octane football.

Just how serious?  If you google the words “Pitt football,” the search will lead you to HighOctaneFootball.com, which is the now the official website for Pitt football.

Alright, that might not be the biggest deal or most convincing evidence, but what about this quote from Graham following Saturday’s practice:

"We’ve been running a play every 17 seconds in team (period).  That’s down from every 22 seconds in the spring.  We want to be around 10 to 12 seconds.  So we’re getting better with our tempo."

Dude is definitely serious about high octane football.

UPDATE: South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has just puked.




Chad Morris: They came out here pretty full of themselves

Clemson offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Chad Morris wasn’t too pleased with the Tigers’ offense during Saturday’s scrimmage.

Morris explained, “I think they came out here pretty full of themselves.  Not nearly what I wanted.  As an offensive staff, not nearly what we wanted.  I thought we let some of the elements get to us.  We got a little soft.  We were out of rhythm.  Part of that is the first scrimmage.  The other part of that is some of our veteran guys aren’t cuttin’ it right now, not like I want to see.  They better step it up.”

“We’re turning the ball over.  Turning it over in the red zone.”

“We can’t give an illusion at all that we’ve arrived because we ain’t done nothing yet.”

“I thought our tempo was okay. I thought we got tired because of the heat, then we slowed down.”

“When you turn the ball over in the red zone, it’s totally unacceptable.”

“We did do some good things.  Don’t get me wrong. Hey, it’s alright.  We’re going to go back to work on Monday.”

Clemson will host Troy in the season-opener on Saturday, September 3rd.




Jon Gruden talking about his old buddy

In case you are watching the Chargers / Seahawks game, you probably heard Jon Gruden talking about Chargers new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.

The Chargers were nothing short of horrendous a year ago on special teams.  So in the off-season, Norv Turner went out and hired Bisaccia away from the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Bisaccia had been with the Bucs since 2001, where he won a Super Bowl with Jon Gruden.

Before that, Bisaccia was the special teams coordinator / running backs coach at Ole Miss when this happened:

"Kickoff" from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.

The video was recently produced by the Ole Miss athletic department in order to help lure fans to the stadium before kick-off starts.  Good looking girls, booze, and something called The Grove have traditionally led to a late arriving crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Coincidently, the return occured against current Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt, who was the head coach at Arkansas at the time.

Ole Miss wants to change that tradition this year.




Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit channels his inner Rex Ryan

Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit stepped to the microphone today and didn’t mince words.

To an extent, Cubit’s inner Rex Ryan emerged.

Cubit said, "It's our time. I think it's our time to go out there and go get it done."

"The MAC, that'll be a disappointment if they don't win the MAC. That's how we all feel. Some years you can't say it, because you're really missing some pieces. I don't think we're missing pieces, I really don't."

Hey coach, what about the boys from Central Michigan that keep giving y’all trouble?

"That elephant in the room, we see it. Hey, we've got to go out and win. We all know what's going on. We're challenging these guys, we're challenging the coaches. We're doing everything we can to rectify that thing there."

Western Michigan opens in the Big House against Michigan.  According to the official WMU site, the Broncos return home the following week to host “Nicholls.”  We assume that’s Nicholls State, as in the Colonels from Thibodaux, Louisiana.

Cubit is hoping his offense will make plays like this:




Auburn's new indoor practice facility reducing injuries

For the first time, Auburn has the luxury of an indoor practice facility. (See photo)

Unlike during the Tommy Tuberville era, the Tigers now practice on “lush manicured lawns.  And get this -- sometimes they retreat to the inside and the air conditioning when it's not even raining.” 

AL.com writer Evan Woodbury believes moving August camp away from the intramural fields has reduced the number sprained ankles and bruised knees that Tigers players often suffered in the past. 

Gene Chizik says, "The indoor facility is incredible. It gives us so much flexibility in so many ways. I really like how it's designed...We're going to get a lot of use out of it."

This morning, Auburn was back on the lush manicured lawns.

Check out the video of the interesting quarterback ball security drill that Gus Malzahn has incorporated.




Lane Kiffin counting on the Bomb Squad, Sharks, U-Haul, and Regulators

USC special teams coordinator John Baxter isn't your traditional special team coach.  Baxter recently sat down with Fox Sports to talk about his philosophy.

“First of all, football should be fun.  It’s a game.  That’s really the reason why I coach today because it’s most fun you can have going to work.”

“In the spring time, we had our survivor series.  We divide the team into four tribes and they have a draft.  They all name their tribes off of some figure in Greek mythology.  Being in Troy, that should fit.”

“They compete at these drills.  The lowest scoring team votes somebody out.  So when they draft each other, you can see what they think of each their teammates and what their skill sets are.  And when they vote them out, you can see what they think of their teammates. And at the end of the day, peer pressure is everything.”

“The bottom line is if it’s fun, it’s their idea.  And if it’s their idea, it’s always the best idea.”

Team names according to Coach Baxter:

The punt team is the “Bomb Squad” because you’re dealing with explosive every single time. It’s the fastest way to lose a game.

The kick-off team is the “Strike Force.”  We are the ball and they are the pins.  They set ‘em up and we knock ‘em down.

The kick-off return is the “Convoy” because when we catch the ball, we’re rolling out.  The kick-off returner is called the “U-Haul” because if you can haul it, you’re not back there.  And C.J. and Robert Woods can haul it.

The field goal team is the “Score Team” because you can score 3, they can score 1, they can score 2, they can score 6.

The field goal block is called the “Regulators” because the ball passes between us before passing through the goal post.

The punt return is the “Sharks” because all sharks know how to do is attack.

The punt returner is called “The Bomb” because if you’re not a threat to go off, you’re not standing back there.