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Warning defensive staff: Paul Johnson talks about the bottom line

Paul Johnson began his third Spring practice on Monday at Georgia Tech.  After winning the ACC title in his first season, the Yellow Jackets fell to 6-7 in 2010.

So Coach Johnson, do you have set goals for spring practice, maybe things you’ve written down that you want to get down?

Johnson said prior to yesterday’s practice, “I’m not a big guy to write things down.  I know what I want to get done.  I don’t keep a list in my desk drawer or anything.”

“You want to get better every day you go out there.  Like I said, we have things we’ve got to cleaned up.  Ball security on offense is one, return game in special teams is one, we gotta tackle better and play better on defense.  It’s not that complicated.  And I’ve said since we’ve been here we need to throw the ball more efficiently.”

The good thing about yesterday is that Johnson didn’t put any pressure on defensive coordinator Al Groh.  (please sense our sarcasm)

"I would hope that we would be more efficient and play better (on defense). If you look at the stats from two years ago to last year, there really wasn't a lot of difference. We probably had a few less turnovers last year and gave up a few less big plays. But the total yardage, points per game, all that was pretty much right in line with where we had been. You hope that in the second year (of the 3-4) there is a little more familiarity. The bottom line is winning and losing the game is determined on how many points you give up. That is the bottom line."

Georgia Tech opens with three non-conference games against Western Carolina, at MTSU, and Kansas.

The Yellow Jackets get North Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech all at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium.  All three teams will have a new quarterback under center this Fall.

Quick Hits: Bronco, Dave Brandon, Cut, Willie-T, Dan Disch

Bronco Mendenhall is looking forward to coordinating the BYU defense again: "I am (excited), just because it allows me to work more intimately with at least a portion of our players. I get to see a lot of players on a daily basis, usually handling things that they're struggling with or providing counseling or support.”

“What I really enjoyed last year was having the chance to actually be able to instruct and teach again. I love to teach, and one of the things that directed me toward being a coach is that I love the teaching. Coaching is nothing but teaching and teaching is service-oriented. That's based on love and caring for whomever you're teaching and have stewardship over."


Wyoming offensive coordinator Dave Brandon talks about meshing with Dave Christiansen’s offensive philosophy: "Now, basically, the offense we ran at Bowling Green, Dave's running here. It'll be fun to get that cranking again."

"We're not far off.  We're going to need a quarterback, but there are some very skilled players. We've got more speed, the offensive line is getting bigger and stronger. The kids understand the system, the coaches have been in it ... so I think that's all positive."


David Cutcliffe says Duke will be “younger” : "I don't know how we found a way to do it, but we're younger than we were last year."


Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart talks about offensive coordinator / wide receiver coach Zach Azzanni’s role: "(Azzanni) knew coming in that we were going to run our offense, but we wanted to enhance it. I'm all for new suggestions and doing things new ways, but one thing I didn't want is for our guys to have a lot of new learning. I wanted them to continue getting better. He's bought into it."


Southern Miss defensive coordinator Dan Disch says his defense has been average at picking up the new system: "It's a matter of keeping focused and trying to improve. I think they've done a pretty good job of picking it up. We've thrown a lot at them. I think they're enjoying trying to do a lot of different things. I'd give them a C+ or a B- on picking it up. We've only had five or six practices and we've still got seven or eight to go. If they can improve from this point forward, it'll be a successful spring."

Shocker: Jeff Tedford once again calling plays at Cal

Coming off a disappointing 5-7 season, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford has made the decision to take over the offense and play-calling once again.

In 2010, the Cal offense finished 90th in total offense and 73rd in scoring offense.  Tedford, who had led Cal to seven consecutive bowl appearances before the 2010 season, decided to make a couple of staff changes during this off-season.  

The offensive staff now features three new coaches.  Former Oakland Raiders offensive line coach Jim Michalczik will serve as the offensive coordinator / offensive line coach.  Former Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau will serve as the wide receivers coach / passing game coordinator and former Wyoming offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo will coach the quarterbacks.

Spring practice starts today for the Bears.

Tedford told the San Francisco Chronicle, "We're going to take a different approach this spring. Our philosophy has always been to put in everything (offensively) in spring. To evaluate the quarterbacks properly, to see if physically they can play, we need to keep it fairly basic and let them play, so they're not locked up by the paralysis of overanalyzing everything."

As for the play-calling, Tedford said, "I did it the first three or four years here, then went back and forth. You've got to be all in or out, one of the two. There's got to be a role you play. You get to set things up, have a good feel for things."

Cal will open the season with Fresno State.  The Bears then travel to Colorado before hosting Presbyterian College.

With the renovation to Memorial Stadium, Cal will play 5 home games at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. 

A briefcase arrives at Lane Kiffin's office

Everyone is trying to sell season tickets.

Of course, there are different ways to market your program and the season ticket package.  At this time of year, the key is to get the attention of your fans.  Get them to start thinking about renewals.

USC has certainly created a unique and simple way to get your attention about season tickets.   The athletic department is running with the theme that Lane Kiffin likes his visor.

Les has his white “LSU” hat.  Saban has no hat.  Trooper rocks a backwards hat.  Tressel is going with “The Vest,” while Al Golden wears a tie.

At SC, Lane chooses to go with the SC visor.

Check out the 30 second season ticket promo, released today by USC.

Baxter talks about building the USC special teams

When John Baxter took over as the USC special teams coordinator a year ago, the Trojans made significant improvements on special teams.

Baxter joined Lane Kiffin’s staff after a 13-year run at Fresno State.  Since arriving in Los Angeles, Baxter has immersed himself in to making USC one of the nation’s best special teams units.

How much so?

Baxter explained, “On July 29th, I drove my truck down here and parked it in the parking lot. The next time I got gas the next time on December 23rd.  I’d say to say that I’ve learned this campus would be putting it mildly.”

Following yesterday’s practice, Baxter said, “You get what you emphasis. Our staff is just a bunch of overgrown gym rats. We come out every day to train and to build ourselves from a technique standpoint.”

So what’s different about what you do?

“We use the best body for the job that is required.  The thing that maybe different from our special teams is the way we use our big guys.  We put our offensive lineman in on defense.  We put our offensive linemen in on kick-off return.  We have offensive linemen and defensive linemen on the punt team.  A lot of teams don’t use those guys.”

“As long as a guy plays hard, we’ll find a job for you.  Football is a great game because it’s a game for everyBODY and every body type.”

Here is the video interview:


Bud Foster: Last season tested my poise and my patience

Bud Foster said today, “You’re going to have a rebuilding year at some point.”

Despite playing in the Orange Bowl, Foster knows the Hokies defensive didn’t live up to their tradition a year ago.

Foster explained to the Virginian-Pilot, “You go back and look at those incredible years and that was a heckuva run, man. There’s not many people in college football who can do that. You’re going to have a rebuilding year at some point. And I told you guys that in that first meeting (last August). They were picking us to win the ACC, but that was because we had a dynamic quarterback; it wasn’t because of who we returned on defense. And it was because of our reputation and tradition as a program and as coaches, that we’re going to get these guys ready to play.”

Foster admitted 2010 was a tough season, personally.

“Last year for me was very trying. It tested my poise and my patience.”

“Maybe I even got to a point myself where you’ve built certain expectations for how good you should be, but there’s also reality. Our expectations are that we’re going to be good every year. Now, are we always going to reach that? Probably not. But we’re always going to demand that they doing things right and play with great effort and great passion. That’s half the battle. You can make up for a lot of mistakes by playing your guts out every snap, laying it on the line for your brother.”

Looking back on 40-12 loss to Stanford, Foster admitted, “That game pissed me off.”

The Hokies allowed 534 yards in just 54 plays to the Cardinal.

Foster said, “I don’t know. There were a lot of busted assignments in that game. And it was guys that you wouldn’t expect to bust them. That’s the thing to me that was disappointing. We’d been playing so much better down the stretch. I thought we had really good bowl practices, and then we gave up too many big plays. And all those big plays came down to a couple guys. Maybe that goes back to us as coaches. Maybe our game plan was too complicated. With all (Stanford’s) motions and shifts and all that, we put our kids in a tough situation. But we just didn’t play very well. It was a game of big plays. We had some chances. Jayron dropped a pick-six when it was still a close game ... and the wind went out of our sail. Then we busted three big plays, and it was all veteran guys. That game pissed me off. But we’ll be better. We will be better.”

When the Hokies begin Spring practice, Cornell Brown will be coaching the whips.  Brown's title is outside linebackers / assistant defensive line coach.  He replaces Jim Cavanaugh, who moved to director of recruiting and high school relations.

Virginia Tech opens with four consecutive non-conference games.  The Hokies play Appalachian State, at East Carolina, Arkansas State, and at Marshall.

Auburn releases "Auburn Family, All In" video

Auburn wide receivers / assistant head coach Trooper Taylor has lost three important wide receivers from last season’s national championship team.  Terrell Zachary, Kodi Burns, and Darvin Adams are all gone.

So what is Trooper’s message to his group this Spring practice?

“I tell them, ‘Players graduate, but tradition never graduates.’  For us, we are going to play with a hard edge.  That means we are going to catch the football, block the perimeter, and play fast.”

Trooper also thinks the younger players learned a great deal from the veteran group from last season.

“It’s hard to do something great if you’ve never seen great, but to see the guys win all their games last year, and to see the tempo and work habits these guys had, it’s been a positive influence on the guys.”

Auburn will start their second week of Spring practice this week.  Gene Chizik wants to continue to stress physical football.

Chizik said on Saturday, "The emphasis on today's practice was the physicality, being the first day in pads, and running the ball, stopping the run, being physical at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. We did enough to at least get some initial evaluations on some of these young guys."

In the meantime, Auburn has released a great new video today marketing their "Auburn Family, All In" mantra.

Gruden draws huge laugh at Muschamp's coaches clinic

Jon Gruden spoke this weekend in Gainesville at the Will Muschamp Coaches Clinic.  Over 250 high school coaches were in attendance to the event, which was sponsored by IMG Academies.

As the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Gruden once coached against current Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in the famous 2002 AFC divisional playoff game in New England.  The game will forever be known as the “tuck rule game.”

So Friday, Weis wanted to get Gruden a little rattled and asked a few coaches in the audience to bring up the NFL “tuck rule.”

Gruden (aka Chucky) responded, “If you go back and watch that game, that’s the worst call in NFL history. They all know it’s a fumble. You see coach (Bill) Belichick and Coach Weis and their fans leaving the stadium. They knew that game was over.”

“Coach Belichick used his last timeout because Tom Brady and Weis were in the locker room packing their crap to go home.”

As for the future of the Gators under Will Muschamp, Gruden thinks the Florida players ought to be chomping at the bit to get to position meetings. 

“I think it would be a tremendous charge to come to a meeting room where you have this type of background. All the guys want to be in the NFL. Let’s not kid ourselves.”

“That’s why they play this game, that’s why they came to this school. They want to play in the National Football League. I think it would be a tremendous motivator for these going. They’re going to get treated and coached like an NFL player, and that’s important to some of these guys.”

Florida will conclude Spring practice on April 16th.