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Stockstill opens Spring practice with new coaches and new goals

Spring practice starts today at Middle Tennessee State.

Head coach Rick Stockstill has two new coordinators and a couple of new assistants.  Willie Simmons was promoted from running backs coach to offensive coordinator.  Special teams coordinator / corners coach Steve Ellis is the new defensive coordinator.

Former Murray State offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner is the new quarterbacks coach / passing game coordinator and former Valdosta State defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen takes over the special teams coordinator / linebackers job.

Rick Stockstill talked about his concerns this morning.

Stockstill said, “Being a team. I did not feel like we were a close team last year like we have been in the past. I want to make sure it is WE and not ME. I have stressed with everyone to be on the same page, support each other, and pull the rope in the same direction. We have not mentioned one word about winning a certain number of games next year or winning a conference championship.”

“We have only talked about winning the day so we will focus on winning Wednesday and then worry about Thursday on Thursday. I have signs around our offices and locker room about winning the day with three code phrases. One is doing things as fast as we can, two is effort, and three is finish everything you start.”

Stockstill will focus on turnovers and protecting the football.

“I will also stress our tempo because we want to play as fast as anyone in the country while also protecting the football. Over the last two years we have won just one game when we lost the turnover battle and that was against Austin Peay. We also have to create more explosive plays because we were not effective in that area a year ago.”

MTSU opens at Purdue before hosting Georgia Tech in week 2.  The other non-conference games are against Memphis and at Tennessee.

UCONN coaches looking for quarterback "escapability"

Football coaches have created a new word.


Although the term is not an actual English word, “escapability” has become accepted as the skill to impress with elusiveness in the pocket.

Trent Dilfer, the best analyst in football, used the term no less than 9,221 times on TV and/or ESPN Radio during the 2010 football season.

It’s the skill that UCONN head coach Paul Pasqualoni and offensive coordinator George DeLeone are looking for on the recruiting trail.

DeLeone explained the ESPN, “In the NFL, I look at the great quarterbacks. I look at Drew Brees. One of the great things he has is escapability. You look at Phillip Rivers. One of the great things he has is escapability. I look at Tom Brady -- as great a dropback passer as he is, I see him avoid people in the pocket. As great a dropback passer as Peyton Manning is, I see him live and in person avoiding people in the pocket.” 

My point is, number one, quarterbacks have to have some sort of escapability. In today's day and age, with the amount of blitzes and pressures you see, quarterbacks have to be able to escape and have to do something beyond the design of the play to keep the chains moving. When we had Donovan McNabb, he was the greatest example of that. On three of the four third downs, he'd sit in pocket and throw the ball. And all of a sudden on the fourth one, he'd run for a first down and keep the chains moving.”

UCONN begins Spring practice today.  The high in Storrs today is 48 degrees and sunny.  

Embree making sure Buffaloes form strong practice habits

9 of 21 new head coaches this year are first-time head coaches.  Colorado head coach Jon Embree is one of them.

With Spring practice underway in Boulder, Embree admits he’s learning.

Embree explained, "You see stuff and you want to say something, but I don`t want to step on toes. I just find the right time to do it. I`m still able to coach. It`s just not as quickly as I want to or in the manner that I want to."

After Monday’s practice, Embree talked about the importance of playing physical football and having plays “to hang our hat on.”

Embree said, “There’s going to be some plays that we hang our hat on.”

As for the physical practice, he added, "Oh yeah, some guys got exposed, and that`s good because their teammates will know about them. It`s habits right now. That`s the problem right now. Habits. They want to feel sorry for themselves a little bit. More importantly, knowing how to work. We don`t know how to work yet. We`ll get it."

“We’re still up and down.  We can’t get to a certain level and sustain it.”

Colorado opens at Hawaii (brick game).  The Buffaloes then play Cal, Colorado State (in Denver), and at Ohio State.

Quick Hits: Muschamp, Jim Grobe, Fedora, Bob Toledo

Will Muschamp says he expects defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to call the defensive schemes on game day: "Dan and I worked together before, so that's kind of why we get along so well — we have a philosophical belief in how you play. I plan on him calling it right now as far as what we're doing, but I'm going to be involved. In my role, you play to your strengths, and my strength is on defense, special teams and recruiting."


Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe talks about staff adjustments: "This was a great opportunity to help ourselves offensively, and I don't think we'll miss a beat defensively. We'll be better just because our kids will be older, but it's really more of an opportunity for us. I hate to lose Brad, but in losing Brad we're able to make ourselves better on the offensive side, and hopefully with Brian coming over we don't miss anything because we've got another really experienced defensive coach coming over to help us on defense."


Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora talks about Spring practice: “You look at our offense and think ‘Hey, If they can fill a couple of holes they’re not going to miss a beat. But on defense, it’s a whole new deal. It’s an entirely new system and there’s a learning curve. We need to get in as much as possible so (the players) feel comfortable headed into fall practice.”


Tulane head coach Bob Toledo talks about his concerns entering Spring practice: “I’d say our quality depth at offensive line isn’t as good as we need it to be, so that’s a concern. We have some good players there, we have four or five who have played quite a bit. But we just don’t have a lot of depth. If we get some injuries there, that could be a problem.”

“We gave up more big plays than the great majority of teams in the nation. We’ve got to eliminate the big passing plays — we gave up more than 40 — and then the only one who really performed well last season was (senior) Phillip Davis, he only got beat deep one time. … He’s the one we’re going to miss the most.”

Spurrier not interested in distractions during Spring practice

South Carolina begins Spring practice on Tuesday and Steve Spurrier isn’t in the mood for any distractions.  For the first time ever, the Gamecocks hit the field as the defending SEC Eastern Division champs.

The practices will be open to the public.

High profile players like Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery return, and Stephen Garcia will presumably take the first snap of "Team Period" on Day #1, at least.

How about some autograph sessions for the children and frat kids?

Spurrier said today, "That’s a distraction we don’t need. If it becomes a problem, we will have to close practices. And we don’t want that to happen.”

Tuesday will be the first practice with new special teams coordinator John Bulter, who served as the special teams coordinator last season at Minnesota under Tim Brewster.

The Gamecocks have also shifted around responsibilities with several other coaches.  Jeep Hunter moved from tight ends to safeties.  Ellis Johnson is coaching the linebackers and Lorenzo Ward is coaching the corners.  Running backs coach Jay Graham picks up the additional responsibility of the tight ends.

From what we hear, Spurrier will be installing a new running play for the Gamecocks this Spring.  It's a play he ran during his days at Florida.  


Video: NFL scout gets laid out at Pro Day

Denver Broncos director of college scouting Matt Russell returned to his alma mater this week for Colorado’s Pro Day.

In his second year as director of college scouting, Russell was in Boulder to take a look at offensive tackle Nate Solder.  Back in the day, Russell was the an All-American and Butkus Award winner.  He was a nasty linebacker to say the least.

But on this day, when Russell tried to fill the hole during a drill with Solder, he got laid out…much to laugh of the other NFL scouts on hand.

We are hearing that Broncos’ general manager Brian Xanders was excited about Russell’s quick play recognition, but disappointed in his pad level at the point of attack.

Todd McShay now has Russell going in the 3rd round now based on quick play recognition.  Solder is expected to be a first round draft choice.

Here's the tape:


Nebraska offensive coaches wearing ALL BLACK

We think, for the first time, the Nebraska blackshirt tradition is taking to the offensive side of the ball in Lincoln.

Well, sort of.

To incorporate the blackshirt mentality on the offensive side, offensive coordinator Tim Beck and the other offensive assistants have worn ALL BLACK at practice this Spring.

Head coach Bo Pelini has alluded in the recent weeks that he wants the style of offense to resemble the attacking style for which has become a staple of the Huskers’ defense.

The ALL BLACK wardrobes are likely a symbol for the change in mindset on the offensive side under Tim Beck.

The blackshirt tradition dates back to the 1960’s.  It is mainly understand that high performing defensive starters wear black jerseys on the practice field.

The only suspension of the tradition came in 2007 and 2008 when the Nebraska defense was essentially not a defense. In 2007, opponents scored pretty much at will against the Huskers… 49 (USC), 76 (Kansas State), 65 (Colorado), 45 (Oklahoma State), 40 (Ball State).

The Huskers will conclude Spring practice with a game on April 16th.


Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy explains his style

After serving as the running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings for the past five seasons, Eric Bieniemy has return to his alma mater as the offensive coordinator / running backs coach.

With Spring practice underway in Boulder, Bieniemy explained his style of coaching to the Daily Camera.

Bieniemy said, "I always tell my guys, I coach hard, but I coach fair. I'm your biggest fan and I expect you to be great at all times. If we make a mistake, things happen. If we physically get beat, things happen. If we make a mental error, I take personal issue with that."

"I think it takes a while to get used to, but one thing I always tell them is don't confuse the message with the speech. Make sure you listen and hear what I'm saying. The thing is, we spend X amount of time making sure we're giving you the correct information, and when they do it right, I'm going to be the first one to praise them. When they do it wrong, I'm going to critique them and make sure they understand why they did it wrong and make sure I stay on their tail so that that they don't make the same mistake again.”

Biemieny is working with Rip Scherer (quarterbacks), Bobby Kennedy (wide receivers), Steve Marshall (offensive line), and JD Brookhart (special teams coordinator / tight ends / passing game coordinator).

Colorado opens at Hawaii (brick game).  The Buffaloes then play Cal, Colorado State (in Denver), and at Ohio State.