Dennis Erickson: It's got to happen. After 4 years, we're worthy.
Entering his fifth season as Arizona State head coach, Dennis Erickson has never felt so confident in his team. Since becoming the head coach of the Sun Devils, Erickson has led the program to records of 10-3, 5-7, 4-8, and 6-6.
Erickson told DevilsDigest.com , “It's exciting and it's got to happen. What's exciting to me, finally, is after four years we're worthy. I thought last year we were really close, now I feel like we're here. Now we've got to do it on the field.”
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and defensive coordinator Craig Bray return to the staff, allowing each side of the ball to continue with their current systems.
Regarding the offense, Erickson said, “It might even be simpler than it's been. I think one thing we can do right now is line up and run the football without having to trick people.”
“I think offensively, this spring with guys that have played, guys that have started, guys that have made plays, this team offensively isn't anywhere close to what we've had in the past. So we come in offensively with a year under the system, even though Steven (Threet) isn't here, with Brock's (Osweiler’s) experience, and then the young guys, it's exciting. It's really exciting, offensively, compared to what it's been.”
Of his quarterback situation, Erickson said, “It's the best I've ever been around in college. I've never had it that deep. Three of them are unproven, of course.”
“And the offensive front is a totally different world than it's been in the past. We used to wonder just who would play.”
Arizona State opens with three straight non-conference games against UC-Davis, Missouri, and at Illinois. The home schedule includes USC, Oregon State, Colorado, Arizona, and Cal. The Sun Devils will travel to Utah, Oregon, UCLA, and Washington State.
Colorado AD: We don't just say 'Yeah, ESPN, that'll work. We love you'
College football coaches and fans always enjoy the ESPN Thursday night game of the week.
For many, it signifies the start of a new week of great college football. Jimbo Fisher would point out that the only person who doesn’t like the Thursday night game is the visiting team’s head coach. Always entering a hostile environment, visiting teams rarely win the Thursday night game.
The 2011 ESPN Thursday night schedules includes LSU at Mississippi State, NC State at Cincinnati, USF at Pitt, Cal at Oregon, USC at Cal, UCLA at Arizona, Virginia at Miami (FL), FSU at Boston College, Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, UNC at Virginia Tech, and West Virginia at USF.
ESPN could add the USC at Colorado game as part of a November 3rd doubleheader with FSU at Boston College starting the night.
According to Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, "We don't just go, 'Yeah, ESPN, that'll work, we love you,' and hang up the phone.”
Somewhere, Herm Edwards is screaming, "WHY NOT?"
One holdup at Colorado could also be a concern of loud noise that would interrupt physics classes.
Auburn expense report, Mack Brown and Bill Stewart stressing chemistry
Auburn spent some serious $$$ on the trip to Glendale: The expense report at Auburn for the BCS Championship trip to Glendale came out at $2.9 million. In total, Auburn brought 938 people to Arizona, counting players, staff, band, cheerleaders and the official party. Oregon had a total of 493 people -- only 20 more than Auburn's team and staff members.
West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart says he’s not a “dead man walking” : “There are a lot of people saying that I am a ‘dead man walking’ and I don’t agree with that. I think we are professionals here; I have a great staff and I am very blessed with tremendous players, coaches and a supportive administration. Our chemistry has to be one of high value. Every football team has to have great chemistry, and if you don’t have that, then nothing you do is going to matter.”
“The Mountaineers always play hard and play with pride. We are known for being a physical football team and we don’t want to change that. There is also a great effort the players have to emulate on the field and the coaches have to coach with. If you don’t play with a hard edge and a physical demeanor, then it will show.”
Mack Brown preaching chemistry to his team this Spring: “We talked about respect. We talked about toughness. We talked about confidence,” Brown said. “We talked about body language. We’ve got to get our swagger back. We lost it last year, and that’s something that we’re working on daily ...The first thing that has to happen is the guys coming in have to mesh well and have good chemistry with the staff that was here and the coaches that were here. That chemistry is working really well. When that works well, it makes it easier for the team chemistry.”
Gary Patterson is amused by the scheduling from the MWC this upcoming season: "The Mountain West Conference has to do what it has to do. If I didn't know any better I'd think the Mountain West was treating us like an independent. I'm not so sure they shouldn't just consider us an independent."
Charlie Strong: More than anything, what pissed me off was grades
A year ago, a lot was made of Charlie Strong’s first team meeting. Strong didn’t exactly go Ed Orgeron style, but he admittedly absolutely ripped the Louisville players.
Reflecting back, Strong told ESPN this week, "More than anything, what pissed me off was grades. That's why I said I want a team meeting right away, because of their grades.”
“You show me a good football team, and I'll show you good grades. You show me a bad football team, and I'll show you bad grades. [Bad grades show you] they're not committed, they don't care, they're just going through the motions. A team with good grades has players who want to graduate, who want good things to happen."
Strong led Louisville to a 7-6 record in his first year as head coach. As Spring practice approaches, he will undoubtedly reiterate his core of toughness and stopping the run.
He added, "We have a lot of skill guys coming back. But what you don't ever want to do is let that be the core of your team. The toughness of your team is built up front, with the offensive and defensive lines.”
This off-season, Louisville had just one change to the coaching staff. Former Nebraska offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson replaced quarterbacks coach Mike Groh, who accepted the wide receivers job at Alabama.
Louisville opens against Murray State. The Cardinals play FIU, at Kentucky, Marshall, and at North Carolina before Big East play begins.
Holgorsen: I don't care what it looked like last year
West Virginia does not start Spring practice until March 28th, so the Mountaineers have a three more weeks of watching cutups of bona fide ballers Justin Blackmon and Case Keenum.
Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen is working with a new offensive staff that includes Robert Gillespie (running backs), Shannon Dawson (inside receivers), Lonnie Galloway (outside receivers), and Bill Bedenbaugh (offensive line).
Holgorsen told The Daily Anthenaeum, “This offense isn't hard to learn, it's not hard to grasp, and it's not hard to retain. But, that doesn't make you good. What makes you good is players meshing together."
So what about last season?
West Virginia opens with 5 consecutive non-conference games next season. The Mountaineers play Marshall, Norfolk State, at Maryland, LSU, and Bowling Green.
Red Bull will reportedly be available on the WVU sideline for the new offensive coordinator.
Greg Mattison reacts to watching Michigan's defense of 2010
At first, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said he wouldn’t watch the film of the 2010 Wolverines’ defense.
Mattison told ESPN, "I made a concerted effort when I came in here to say, 'I'm not going to watch it.’ What I wanted to do is give these players the benefit of the doubt and not to even talk about what's happened in the past. Those were good coaches here. I'm never going to second-guess guys who were here before."
Now, Mattison admits he has watched the film and feels better having done so.
"It helped me because in a lot of ways, I felt even stronger about what our mission is here," explained Mattison.
"I felt like, ‘Listen, we can get these guys to get back to that.’ I felt good about it. It probably drove me more the next day in running to make these guys step up to that level. Because they have it. It’s our job to get it out of them.”
Mattison, who served as the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator last season, is set to earn $750,000 per year as the Michigan defensive coordinator.
Our sources tell us that Mattison is actually feeling better after realizing his first 5 games next season are all at home and against Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State, and Minnesota.
Had Mattison stayed with the Ravens, he could have started with the New York Jets, Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh’s new offense with the 49ers, and Josh McDaniel’s new offense with the Rams.
Dan Disch out to change mindset of Southern Miss defense
Southern Miss defensive coordinator Dan Disch is eager to start rebuilding the Golden Eagles’ defense.
Disch told the Sun Herald, “To have a great defense, you need a couple of things. First, a great defense has great players. I know we have good players here now. Secondly, a great defense is an attitude -- plain and simple. Swagger comes from hard work, not talk. I can assure the fans that we’re going to work hard to be successful.’’
In 2010, Southern Miss allowed 29 points per game (81st nationally). Five opponents scored at least 40 points including South Carolina, Houston, East Carolina, UAB, and Tulsa. Larry Fedora’s team went 1-4 in those games, but finished 8-5 overall.
The people in Hattiesburg would like to get back to the old days when the Southern Miss defense was the consistently tough defense.
“We (players) have already started talking about putting a product on the field that will make people proud,” explained Disch. “With the spread, they have turned the game into a marathon. Our goal is to bring a physical defense back.’’
Southern Miss opens with LA Tech. The remaining non-conference schedule includes Southeastern Louisiana, at Virginia, and at Navy.
Quick Hits: Spurrier, Golden, Stoops
Steve Spurrier thinks the Big Ten is at a disadvantage for not allowing oversigning: "I think that really hurts them a lot. They end up giving scholarships to a lot of walk-ons."
Here’s Bobby Petrino’s recruiting plan, according to the Wall Street Journal: He signs 19 players he knows are "academically gonna make it without being a load on our academic support staff," six guys who may or may not qualify, and three to four players who have "absolutely no chance" of qualifying.
An unnamed NFL coach told ESPN’s Bruce Feldman that UNC should have played for the BCS National Championship: "They should've been playing for the national title with the talent they had. Their defensive personnel was [expletive] sick. They looked more like an SEC team than any SEC team last year because they had freak D-linemen inside and out, linebackers who can outrun running backs and playmakers in the secondary. No one had talent like that. Not even close. If anyone could've shut down Auburn this year, this would've been the bunch that could've done it."
Miami (FL) head coach Al Golden talks about his concerns heading into Spring practice: “Secondary. There’s no secret we lost three really good corners. That doesn’t leave us bereft of talent, it leaves us lacking experience. Our linebacker depth is not where it should be now, so we’ll work on that as well. And boy, would I like to see something really explosive coming out of that wide receivers group this spring.’’
Bob Stoops not excited about playing Florida State again: "No. Because of all the improvement they've made. It's no fun playing your brother. In the end, it's not what you want. I said that going into the game a year ago, I didn't like it and I knew I didn't like it and after the game I was sure of it. But they are doing a great job so I am proud of him for that and I know they are going to continue to make improvements."