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'The first stats I look at after a game are...'

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has infamously stated that "stats are for losers". He believes. and a lot of coaches agree, that the only stat that really matters at the end of the day is the final score (and wins of course). 

But in order to gauge efficiency and areas to improve on both sides of the ball, some of us find the post game stats (and cumulative stats) vital to our overall success. Middle Tennessee offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner is one of those coaches. Faulkner told GoBlueRaiders.com that he will take a look at the stat sheet following a game with a few things in particular in mind in order to gauge offensive success.

"The first thing is our percentage in the red zone then our third down conversions. Last year we were really good on third down and not very strong in the red zone. We moved the ball but just did not punch it in consistently. We have made it a point of emphasis this spring to be better in the red zone."

The Blue Raiders excelled on third downs last year, converting on just over 46% of their attempts last year to extend drives (ranking 25th nationally). They emphasized it last year during practice and saw impressive results, converting on 20 more attempts than in 2012 (an increase of about 5%)

Third down conversions equal a new set of downs, which translates to more scoring opportunities, and a higher red zone conversion percentage means more points on the board. Both of those seem like no-brainers for every offensive coordinator to keep an eye on each game, and as the season progresses, but the other thing that Faulkner looks for isn't a common stat that you'll see in the box score.

"I also like to look at how many plays of zero yards that we had because that will play a huge role in all of the above."

While zero yardage plays aren't exactly a popular "box score stat", it's something that's just as important as red zone percentage and third down percentage for Faulkner and his staff because it does play a part in the other two key areas that he keeps an eye on.

What stats are you and your staff looking after games? Or are you from the Fitzgerald school of thought where "stats are for losers"?

A few more photos of the Aggies' new football facility

In late January, Texas A&M announced its plans to invest $16 million in upgrades to the Bright Complex, headquarters for all things Aggie football, along with an artistic rendering of the new locker room.

On Thursday, the school unveiled three new renderings, along with a larger look at the updated locker room. It doesn't appear Texas A&M is sparing any expense to create to turn the Bright Complex into the Taj Mahal of all things maroon and white.

The new locker room:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 10.47.55 AM

 Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 10.48.23 AM

Aggie players lounge

A new hydrotherapy pool:

Aggie pool

(via @AggieFBlife)

Inside the scheduling philosophy at LSU

There are two ways to approach non-conference scheduling in major college football. Some programs challenge themselves in non-conference play, while others avoid challenges like Indiana Jones fleeing an oncoming bolder. LSU is in that first group.

The Tigers have been fixtures in college football's kickoff game era, opening their 2010 season against North Carolina in Atlanta, facing Oregon to open the 2011 season in Dallas, returning to Dallas to face TCU to open last season, and they'll open this coming season against Wisconsin in Houston. LSU is 3-0 in kickoff games. 

One of the few SEC schools willing to leave the South, the Bayou Bengals have also completed recent home-and-homes with Washington and West Virginia. LSU is 4-0 in those games. This may have something to do with why Les Miles' club isn't afraid to schedule major opponents outside of SEC play. 

The man behind LSU's non-conference scheduling strategy is associate athletics director Verge Ausberry. He's handled the Tigers' scheduling since 2007.

it's not a coincidence that LSU has sought neutral site games in major recruiting hotbeds like Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, and would like to play a neutral site game in New Orleans. In addition to filling a schedule, Ausberry has to expand LSU's brand. 

“The world has changed,” Ausberry said. “Everybody says LSU’s brand is already big. I say, ‘Yeah, but you can’t ever stop growing.’ You either get better or worse every day. You’ve got to keep working on that brand.”

With the College Football Playoff oncoming, Ausberry says he hasn't seen a reason to change LSU's strategy for filling its four non-SEC games. (In addition to Wisconsin, LSU will host Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State in non-conference play.)

“They’re going to (look) at a lot of statistics on games, how much you won by, who you played,” Ausberry told the Baton Rouge Advocate of the CFP committee. “There are some things the SEC has sent out to all of us to take a look at (about) how the new process is going to work. … We’re all kind of like, ‘Let’s just see how this plays out.’ I think our schedules strength wise looks pretty good from here on out.”

In addition to this season's Wisconsin game, LSU has another neutral site date with the Badgers at Lambeau Field in 2016, and contracts with Arizona State, N.C. State and Oklahoma. 

It's an interesting tightrope Ausberry walks. You don't want to submarine your own team's chances with a schedule that's too challenging, but then again, the ultimate nightmare scenario in Ausberry's world is an 11-1 LSU team that's left out of the College Football Playoff due to a schedule that the selection committee deems too soft. It sounds ridiculous today, an SEC team playing an inferior schedule, but no one knows what to expect in age where 13 voters have the fate of the college football world in their hands.

Adding to the uncertainty that makes Ausberry's job a challenge is the SEC's current 6-1-1 scheduling model. With a round-robin against six SEC West foes, an annual game against SEC rival Florida and one rotating SEC East opponent, LSU's in-conference schedule could swing wildly from year to year. It's a wild swing from year to year when you're saddled with, say, 2012 Florida and South Carolina versus 2013 Florida and Kentucky as your crossover opponents. In the end, LSU's East division draw could prove the difference between receiving a golden ticket to the College Football Playoff and not, and, of course, that's the one aspect of LSU's schedule of which Ausberry has no control. 

Still, though, Ausberry builds every schedule with one thing in mind. “Our ultimate goal is to hold the crystal ball over our head,” Ausberry said.

Read the full article here.

Video: Mike Yurcich breaks down the OK State inside zone read

Every program that runs zone schemes runs the zone read, and variations of it.

In the latest installment of "Coaches Chalk Talk" at Oklahoma State, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich not only gets on the board and breaks down the inside zone read, but also provides some great coaching points (like the running back staying play side and not making his first cut until he's at the heels of the offensive line) and then cues up some cut-ups of the play in action.

Gundy and his staff have done an outstanding job with this series. Fans and coaches everywhere appreciate it.

Would your AD troll like this with your rivalry trophy?

Mississippi State has won four of the past five Egg Bowl contests against in-state rival Ole Miss. That my friends, is as good of a license to troll as any.

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin took full advantage of that trolling opportunity by tweeting this picture of his morning commute yesterday, with the Egg Bowl trophy belted into the passenger seat and the caption "Morning commute. #carpooling #HailState".

Well played Mr. Stricklin. Athletic directors everywhere now need to step up their trolling game to get on your level.

Video: 'It's not about the shoes, it's about what you do in them'

Utah State has found a formula for success, and it has nothing to do with uniform combinations, or fancy chrome helmets. Matt Wells, and his predecessor Gary Andersen, have found a way to get the most out of the guys on their roster and that approach has led to 20 wins over the past two seasons.

This video was shown on the senior's banquet night, as they reflected on their final season of college football, and the line that the video leads with could not be more fitting (courtesy of the great Michael Jordan and a recent commercial).

"It's not about the shoes, it's about what you do in them. It's about knowing where you're going and not forgetting where you started."

"It's about having the courage to fail. Not breaking when you are broken. Taking everything that you have been given, and making something better. It's about work, before glory. It's about doing what they say you can't." Jordan explains

That's as powerful of an opening line as I've ever heard. The video goes on to recap the season's highs and lows and is well worth the seven and a half minutes.

Photo: Did Wal-Mart spoil Florida State's new logo reveal?

If you read a lot of uniform-related articles like I do (or maybe not, I might have a slight problem), you'd know that spoilers are a common plight of teams and leagues hoping to hold a surprise uniform unveiling until a specific date. What often happens is, for example, an NBA team will want to surprise the public with new uniforms around the start of the season, only to be spoiled by screen shots of NBA-related video games hitting the internet a month in advance.

We may have seen a similar situation happen in college football on Wednesday. 

Florida State has announced plans to update its iconic Seminole head logo, which the school has used since at least 1976

Florida State logo

“The changes are very minor and the primary thing people will see is consistency in the garnet,” Florida State vice president for university relations Liz Maryanski told ESPN.com. “If you go into a sports store and look across the store, you’ll see as many shades of garnet as there are T-shirts, and we’re trying to get consistency in our colors. We’ll still have what we call ‘the head’ with the Seminole [Tribe’s] blessing.”

 But on Wednesday, the Florida State blog Tomahawk Nation posted a photo of this T-shirt on sale at Wal-Mart. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 4.13.52 PM

On the surface, this definitely passes the smell test. It's a tweak of the basic template that Florida State already uses, with a slight change of the facial expression and the "Seminoles" script exchanged for "FSU". It's the type of change that would sail right over the heads of casual fans. 

To be clear, this is far from official confirmation. But it's a situation where you wonder, with a new logo on the way, why would that shirt be available for retail if it wasn't the new official logo? 

Anyway, this mystery will be solved on April 11, when the 'Noles will unveil their new logo in advance of the spring football game the following day. 

Here's a short video Florida State released in advance of the release. Let the amateur detectives in our audience have at it. 

(HT SB Nation)

Georgia is sending hand drawn portraits to recruits

Some programs flood a recruit's mail box with a hundred letters a day, others send unique puzzles, but Georgia has decided to put their own (very) unique spin on their recruiting mailings to a handful of recruits.

Below are the hand drawn portraits that Bulldog targets Rashad Roundtree and D'Andre Walker received, along with a short hand written note from Mark Richt.

It would be nice if coach Richt had the time and talent on hand to craft each one of these himself, but regardless of the illustrator, you've got to give the staff credit for coming up with something this unique. Both recruits seem to have enjoyed the personalized touch.