What Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley have in common
Derek Dooley and Lane Kiffin take special teams’ preparation to the extreme.
Dooley, who served as Nick Saban’s special teams coordinator at LSU, takes as much pride in special teams as any coach in the country. Just listen to his press conferences. Better yet, watch the Vols practice or watch Dooley’s sideline reaction to poor special teams execution. It kills the guy.
Kiffin, when hired at Tennessee, went out and hired arguably the best special teams coordinator in the country, Eddie Gran, who had served as Auburn’s special teams coordinator for years under Tommy Tuberville. When Lane took over at USC, Gran had already joined Jimbo Fisher’s staff at Florida State, so Kiffin turned to former Fresno State special teams coordinator John Baxter.
On the day of Baxter’s hiring, Kiffin said, "Hiring John Baxter is something that I thought could probably never happen, so this is a great day for USC. Having him here will be huge for our team on and off the field. He put together a 13-year run of special teams at Fresno State that were better than any in the country.”
Shortly after August practice began at USC, Kiffin said, "We hired the best guy in the country by going out to get John Baxter and his resume proves that. I can already tell a difference in the emphasis and in our players and their response. We're going to need to be good on special teams as we look at [the team] in the long run if we're going to be limited scholarship-wise with these penalties.”
The Trojans have been terrific on special teams thus far under Baxter who said yesterday, "You get what you emphasize. A special teams meeting here is not like anywhere else. We've got a lot of music and creative energy and we jump up and down. It's fun."
This week, Dooley returns to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, a place where he once coached arguably the most dominant special teams unit (2003) in the last decade. Dooley and Saban offered no lip service about playing the best players. In fact, All-SEC wide receiver Michael Clayton and BCS Championship MVP Justin Vincent ran down on kick-off coverage just to give you an idea.
The challenge against LSU on special teams in enormous. Dooley’s team at Tennessee, without question, doesn’t have the depth on special teams he would like due to attrition.
Not only outmanned personnel-wise, but LSU play-maker Jai Eugene says the Tigers are feeding off the home crowd during kick-off coverage. Eugene told the LSU student newspaper, "The more the crowd gets into it, the more we get into it ... the more sense of urgency to run down the field and try to take somebody's head off and try to make a big play for the team. The coaching staff, the whole team knows [that] if you're on kickoff team here, it's a lot of pride."
It also put the Vols at a disadvantage when #7 is returning punts for the Tigers. Dooley said on Monday, “If we serve one up to him (Patrick Peterson), it will be the fastest 6 points you’ve ever seen. I promise you.”
Not to say that Tennessee is going out-play LSU on special teams, but the Tennessee faithful should be happy knowing they have a head coach that will die trying. Should be fun watching his plan.
Stealing signals, old tricks, Oregon's mindset, advice from HOF coach
Doc Holliday says Ohio U was stealing signals: "Ohio, they've done it for years, (they were) stealing signals. They have a coach, that was all he was doing was trying to get our signals and we were just making sure it didn't happen."
Lane Kiffin responds to Sarkisian’s comment that USC is the deepest team in the PAC-10: "That's an old Lou Holtz trick he heard, to call a team that has the least amount of scholarship players the deepest. Our special teams have guys from the science class."
Bobby Bowden’s advice to Mark Richt after 0-3 start in SEC: “Just stay the course. It's all you can do. All you can do is stay the course and recruit better. It's all you can do. Whoever has the best players is gonna win, unless you screw it up. Now you can screw it up - the coach can screw it up. But if I've got better players than you, you ain't gonna whip me. Unless I blow it. And if you've got better players than me, I can't beat you unless you blow it. Mark's just gotta stay the course and keep recruiting. Keep recruiting.”
Chip Kelly explains Oregon’s mindset: “The whole mindset of our football team is we don’t worry about things we can’t control. Just tell me when we’re playing and we’ll go play.”
“We started school this week. It’s a little bit different. It’s important for us to get into a new rhythm.”
Ellis Johnson talks about Gamecocks performance against Auburn: "I just thought we were totally confused all the time. We never looked like we were sure of what we were doing."
"A lot of it was we were out of position. Then, when we were in position, I tell you what, we couldn't get him on the ground. I don't think it was fatigue; a lot of times, I just think it was poor tackling."
Texas A&M DC on the notion he has Dana Holgorsen’s number: "This year is a different year with different players, and he's done a great job up there. We've got to play well to have a chance. If you don't, they'll embarrass you and hang half a hundred on you in a hurry."
Frank Bearmer’s terse response when asked about throwing the ball 2 of 74 plays inside the red zone: "Well, did you count the number of wins we had? Did you throw that stat in there?”
Noel Mazzone: I'm just now getting over the hangover...
Arizona State ranks 12th nationally in total offense, averaging 495 yards per game, but first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone knows the Sun Devils missed a golden opportunity last Saturday night. Mazzone watched his offense turn the ball over seven times in the 42-31 loss to Oregon.
The Sun Devils threw four interceptions and had three fumbles in the game. Just one week earlier, ASU didn't have a single turnover in the 20-19 loss at Wisconsin. Fifty-three teams in D1 football have yet to turn the ball over seven times this season.
Mazzone told The Arizona Republic, "I tell you, I'm just now getting over the hangover from yesterday. It's kind of like I went to the prom and had a really good-looking date and I went home alone."
“I'd trade all 600 yards we had last week for five less turnovers, but that was one of the lessons we learned. It was amazing with seven turnovers that we were even as productive as we were. Usually with seven turnovers you're getting beat 50-0. There's light at the end of tunnel, now we just have to learn how to do some of the basic football fundamentals.”
“The things that make the Tom Bradys, the Drew Brees and the Peyton Mannings the guys they are, is how they execute in the red zone. Because let's face it: that's our job. Anybody can call plays from the 20 to the 20. Anybody can run those plays. But in the red zone the field gets a little tighter. There is a little bit more on the line. The game's got to slow down a little bit down there and I think that definitely will happen."
"It's orchestrated confusion. We really don't have a lot of football plays. We don't run a lot of different types of runs schemes or pass schemes. Pretty much we have a core of about 18-20 plays.”
Arizona State travels to Oregon State this weekend.
Spurrier really upset, compliments Auburn OL coach
Spurrier was back at it again on Tuesday.
Upset with the play of his offensive line, Spurrier said, "Our line looks pretty good running out there. They look pretty good and then the ball is snapped and sometimes we just don't compete hard enough. But they're our guys and we're going to try to get them to play better."
He then indirectly gave a shout-out to Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.
Spurrier said, “Those Auburn guys played pretty well. Their guys could block. I don’t know who their line coach is, but he’s a hell of a coach.”
"When losing begins to hurt these guys as much as it hurts some of us, we'll have a good team here at South Carolina. But I'm not convinced losing hurts these guys much, or else they'd play better. They would really play their assignments and play better. They're either not smart enough to play or losing doesn't hurt - one or the other because they're big, strong guys.”
As far as the quarterback situation, Spurrier said Garcia will start in two weeks against Alabama, but he’s not too thrilled with Garcia’s two fumbles in the second-half at Auburn.
Would you love to see Hard Knocks - South Carolina football?
Cutcliffe explains his state of mind after 3 game slide
Despite a three-game losing streak (Wake, Bama, Army), Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is not panicking.
During his weekly press conference today, Cutcliffe said, “Doesn’t concern me at all because everything we do we do it like winners. You’re only a loser if you let yourself be a loser. I don’t care what walk of life you are in, it doesn’t matter when it’s college football, or sport, or business. If you carry yourself like a loser, you will eventually be that.”
“We will continue to carry ourselves like winners because that’s all that is expected here. And if we continue and we like winners, and work like winners, not just carry yourself, but work like winners, that’s how you work your way out of it. You know how big that reward is? That’s huge. And it’s lasting and carries a long way. I’m honestly not one bit concerned about it. That’s why I’m not in a bad state of mind because I know we will not give in to being a loser. We are not going to have losers in our program.”
Duke travels to Maryland this weekend.
Cutcliffe said, “I view this as an absolutely awesome opportunity to continue to grow our program where we want it to go. We will not give in to this.”
“My hat’s off to Maryland. They had a tough year a year ago. They are a 3-1 football team. They (Maryland) have obviously done the same thing. They’ve worked themselves right out of it (tough times). We will by far and away have to play our best football this year to be able to be in the game and to play well enough to win this game.”
“The two disappointing things thus far are probably the number of big plays we’ve given up on offense and the turnovers on offense.”
Kick-off is set for 6:00 pm EST.
Dantonio handles press conference, will be in coaching box on Saturday
Mark Dantonio expects to be upstairs in the coaching box during Saturday’s game against Wisconsin.
Today, Dantonio returned for his regular Tuesday press conference. He thanked a number of people including Tom Izzo for supporting him as he recovers from his heart attack. Dantonio praised his staff and said he will ease back into the coaching situation.
“Well, it's good to be back. I wanted to first of all - before I even get started here, I wanted to thank everybody for all their thoughts and their prayers this past week and a half. As former players when you've coached for 30 years you hear from a lot of different people that reach all the way back to my Youngstown State days...Former players, the MSU community, the outpouring of support has been tremendous. I think Tom Izzo has called me every single day regardless of where he's at; Mark Hollis, as well; so many different coaches; Cathy (George) over there. So many different people that have reached out to myself and to my family.”
“As far as myself, I'm going to ease back into this much like anybody would after any injury. Really we don't discuss injuries, so why discuss mine? Really it's a personnel issue as far as when I come back and when I'm full go. I'm going to listen to our doctors, but I am going to ease back into this and do something daily with our football team, and we'll start at X amount and build back to where it was before. That will at least be the plan as we move forward here.”
“I would expect to be in the box on Saturday. I just think walking around out there for three hours might be a little bit tiring. But that would be my initial plan at this point.”
Kick-off from East Lansing is set for 3:30 pm EST on Saturday.
Lunchtime Coaches Quick Hits
UNLV coach Bobby Hauck compares UNLV vs. Nevada to Alabama vs. Auburn: This one I would compare to, from what I know about it, and obviously I haven’t experienced it first-hand, maybe the one I just mentioned (Montana vs. Montana State) or Alabama vs. Auburn, where they really don’t like each other much.
Sonny Dykes says LA Tech to use 4th different starting quarterback at Hawaii: "I don't know if anybody has had a similar situation. This may be unique to the history of football. We'll see what this one does. I wish we had one guy. I wish there was a quarterback that had taken over in the spring or the summer."
Gene Chizik’s message: "The message to our team is we have to focus at getting Auburn better. What were you not good at Saturday, individually. That’s what we have to work every day to get fixed. All the other stuff is not really on our radar. I know people are going to hear it and all that stuff, but we have so much room to improve on our team.
Mack Brown reflects on time when Texas lost 5 straight against Oklahoma: "I always felt that it was always unfair to the Texas fans to lose five straight times. It was a hard part in my life to understand I wasn't getting my job done. I don't think I ever dug harder."
"We have a chance at just about any recruit in the state of the Texas. Our first year, we had trouble getting the top 10 kids to visit. It wasn't until 2005 that we had a chance at every kid."
UGA athletic director Greg McGarity talks about football program: “Probably in our private moments we’re hurting. But I think outwardly and publicly we’ve got to set the tone for everyone. And that’s gotta be positive, upbeat and what we can do to help. We all want to chip in and do what we can do to help us pull out of this tailspin. But you’ve gotta have confidence in people, and be confident that we can maybe right the ship and have a successful year.”
Tom O’Brien think team is mature enough to handle early-season success: “I think that they, it’s all part of them understanding where they are and how they got to this point and how they have to continue doing what they’ve done for the past month. If they don’t, they’re not going to be able to continue winning football games. Certainly the opposition steps up this weekend when Virginia Tech comes to town. But I think we’ve gotten really great leadership out of the captains thus far and we’ll find out if they’re mature enough to handle it or not.”
“A lot of people have asked, and I know there has been a lot of conversation about the 54-yard field goal at the end of regulation. Looking back, would I like to do it over? Yes because it didn’t work. But if it had worked, we would all be happy. I have rationalized the good and the bad the last couple of days. But, at the same time, I made the decision, it didn’t work, and I have to live with it.”
Todd Dodge compliments OC Mike Canales after 21-17 road win at FAU: “Mike did a tremendous job of getting Riley ready and putting together a game plan. Riley made good decisions and added about 70 yards running the ball.”
“We have to hang on to what we did well against Florida Atlantic and make that who we are.”
Turner Gill’s 3 keys to beating Baylor: 1. Win the special teams; 2. Score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals; 3. Tackle extremely well on defense.
Mike Stoops thoughts on Pac-10 championship game location: Should be in San Diego, Glendale, or Seattle.
Dabo: Let's quit quacking like a bunch of ducks, whining, and complaining
Clemson’s Death Valley is notorious for a hostile environment during night-time kick-offs, but Saturday’s kick-off against Miami is set for 12 pm EST. Herbstreit will more than likely point this out on College Game Day, as he usually does.
Dabo Swinney, however, wants “The Valley to be rockin’.”
Swinney said during his press conference today, “My job is to get this team ready to play whether it’s 9 am or 9 pm. Let’s quit quacking like a bunch of ducks, whining, and complaining. Let’s get the Valley rockin. This is the best venue in college football. We had this place rockin’ to 125 decibels the last time Miami was here. Let’s get it to 126.”
“It’s going to be our offensive line vs. their defensive line. Something has to give.”
“We have to tackle. One of the things we have done well is give up the big play. We have to make a team go earn it.”
“It’s going to be a tough order, but I’ll be disappointed if we can’t establish a run game. Our goal going into every ball game is to establish some sort of run game.”
“They bring more pressures this year than they did last year. They are really long and fast up front.”
Clemson won last season 40-37 in overtime. The Hurricanes won the previous meeting in 2005 at Clemson by a score of 36-30 in overtime.