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Cubit emphasizing physical football this spring at Western Michigan

Western Michigan offensive line coach AJ Ricker understands the Broncos have to improve their run game efficiency in 2011.

Ricker, who coached the offensive line at St. Joseph’s College (IN) the last two years, joined Bill Cubit’s staff this off-season.

Over the last four years, Western Michigan hasn’t been able to consistently run the football.

Beginning last season, the Broncos finished 93rd nationally (125 ypg), 100th (112 ypg), 96th (116 ypg), and 86th (130 ypg).

Ricker told the Kalamazoo Gazette, “Our biggest thing coming into this spring is being more physical and tough, and I think we’ve had a real physical spring. My philosophy’s maybe a little different in years past. I want to re-create the line of scrimmage, move guys and it’s not an overnight success."

New wide receivers coach Josh Gattis is also emphasizing explosive downfield blocks.  Gattis joined Cubit's staff after serving as the offensive grad assistant at North Carolina.  

Gattis wants his players to have a swagger.  He told the Kalamazoo Gazette, “I think there’s something to be said about the receiver position obviously being divas. I think that’s an attitude that comes with that position. The younger guys now call it having that swag. I think that you’ve got to have it as a receiver. But the other aspect, coming from the other side, is you’ve got to play with an attitude and in our room, we talk about dominating every play, we talk about playing with an attitude to where we put fear into the opponent every time we line up out there.”

Western Michigan opens at Michigan.  The next four games are against Nicholls State, Central Michigan, at Illinois, and at UCONN.




Kevin Wilson: Practice was awesome on eve of Lil Wayne coming to town

Apparently, the Indiana players had a ton of enthusiasm and energy at Tuesday’s practice.

Head coach Kevin Wilson was really pleased, but wondered if the newfound energy was related to the arrival of Lil Wayne.

The grammy-award winning and tatted up “Weezy” was set to perform last night in Assembly Hall on campus in Bloomington as part of his “I AM STILL MUSIC” tour.

Wilson said, “Really good, today.  One of best ones, today.  A lot of energy and enthusiasm.  I don’t know if they’re excited about Lil Wayne coming to town.”

“I told them I’m going to make a cameo.  I’m going to get on stage and smoke.  I think he was at my wedding, so I’m going to have to pay homage.”

Asked his favorite Lil Wayne song, Wilson quickly stated, “I don’t know, but my daughter knows.”

Unconfirmed, but we heard Lil Wayne went old-school last.  

Apparently, the show was legit.  Indiana freshman Sean Jordan told the Indiana Daily Student, “This has been the sickest experience of my life. Nothing parallels it. It’s a star-studded cast of rappers, and to top it all off, it’s Little 5 week.”

Our sources tell us "Weezy" set it off at the end of the night with "The Block is Hot."




USC AD Pat Haden: Here's the difference between our program and others

Lane Kiffin welcomed back former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez to meetings and practice last week.

During his visit, USC athletic director Pat Haden sat down with Sanchez and talked about the past.

Haden started off, “When I think of USC football against versus some other schools even the school across town, we have had including Matt Barkley 15 years of really good, sometimes superb quarterback play.  15 straight years.  That’s the difference between our program and others.”

The list includes Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, and Matt Barkley.  

Sanchez was quick to point out the advantage he had in New York having already gone through the dealings with the large market Los Angeles media during his days at USC.

Sanchez said, “Coming from here, that strong foundation, the media preparation.  Just talking with other guys on the team, they never had that, and we’re talking about guys from big-time programs that played in major bowl games every year.  They never had that.  They didn’t have preparation like we had.”

“One of the things here, talking with Coach Sarkisian and Carson (Palmer), as soon as the game is over, people want to know what happened.  You have to formulate your thoughts.  You have to take a second. Sark and Carson use to tell me that.  They said after the game you have to sit at your locker, or go to the training room, or sit in the shower for an extra minute and you just unwind (and gather your thoughts).  I learned that here.”

With arms around the quarterbacks just after practice, USC quarterbacks coach Clay Helton said, “I’d like to thank Coach Sanchez for coming out today.  If there’s a guy you want to model yourself after, model yourself after him.  Student of the game, great mechanics, leader.  Wore #6 proudly (looking at current #6 Cody Kessler).”

You can watch the video of the conversation with Haden and Sanchez, right here.




Coaches complain that Saban and Bama received unfair advantage

In the weeks leading up to the BCS National Championship game last season, ESPN aired a 30-second Roll Tide commercial, as part of the “It’s not crazy, it’s sports” series of funny commercials. 

Yesterday, Nick Saban said a number of college coaches attempted to voice their displeasure about the commercial to SEC commissioner Mike Slive. 

But that’s not it. 

There were even a number of coaches that flipped out about the fact that Saban was able to appear as a pre-game, halftime, and post-game analyst on ESPN during the BCS National Championship game.  Saban and Urban Meyer joined the ESPN set in Glendale for the event. 

Saban said, “They were really, really upset about the (ESPN) Roll Tide commercial, which I thought was wonderful. They were all trying to get Mike Slive to say, 'Why should that be allowed, for one of the coaches to do the game and also to have a commercial?' It sort of directs the passion of 'Roll Tide' all over the state and how much passion we really do have. Seeing that commercial made me feel great." 

In case you left the country for a few months, here’s the commercial that Saban is referring to.




Houston Nutt: It's hard for us to say 'next'

Houston Nutt and new offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach David Lee aren’t exactly where you want to be with just a couple of practices remaining in spring ball.

The Rebels have not had a quarterback separate himself and a couple of positions (wide receiver and cornerback) lack depth.

On Tuesday, the Rebels found out that linebacker D.T. Shackelford would be lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Following practice, Houston Nutt stated, “The thing about this game is there’s always an opportunity. You’re a play away. You’re always a play away. Sometimes players don’t believe that but you’re a play away.”

“And we’re at a point with our program where it’s hard for us to say ‘next’. We knew these next couple of years, starting with last year, when you lose that many seniors, the ‘Dexters’ group, it’s a building process. And you want to get to where you can always say ‘next’ and we’re not quite there yet. That’s why we’ll have to depend on some freshmen coming in that will have to play. You’d love to redshirt them but they’re going to have to play.”

Ole Miss will play their spring game on Saturday.  The Rebels open with BYU.  The next three are against Southern Illinois, at Vanderbilt, and Georgia.




Arizona State ain't messing around with these new uniforms

Arizona State has some “fire” new uniforms.  Unveiled today, let’s just say that some was thinking outside the box.

Athletic director Lisa Love said today, "When I arrived at ASU six years ago I noticed we were an athletics program which featured different shades of maroon and gold, different logos, multiple fonts and uniforms.”

"There was a lack of real consistency with regard to our brand. This partnership with Nike, which began nearly a decade ago for uniforms, will springboard us to a new level of branding, giving us a coordinated university-wide focus that will support our aspirations as a high-performance athletic organization."

According to the press release, “The return of black to the Sun Devil attitude is a nod to the football teams of the 50's that wore black helmets. That combined with the strength, power and attitude black exudes made it an obvious choice for a third primary color. Additionally, Sun Devil Athletics has long embraced the majesty of the Arizona landscape, making copper, one of the states most recognized resources, a natural choice as an accent color.”

Unless you are watching Gruden breakdown Andy Dalton or you’re watching Year of the QB – Tom Brady, you have got to see this video.  Yes, you will see the uniforms.

"Black & Yellow, Black & Yellow, Black & Yellow."




Jim Leavitt now $2.75 million richer and coaching P-Willie

San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt is relishing his opportunity to coach again.

After losing his job as the head coach at South Florida, Leavitt sat out the 2010 season.  Just one week before Jim Harbaugh offered Leavitt the job, Leavitt reached a settlement in his wrongful termination lawsuit.

He settled for $2.75 million.

Reflecting back, Leavitt told Matt Maiocco of Comcast Bay Area, "The school doesn't pay you almost $3 million if they didn't do something wrong. You just don't do that, especially in South Florida, where we had trailers (as offices) and $90,000 for a budget for coaches.”

"So in my heart, I knew I didn't do anything wrong. That was a way to get through all of it. It was hard because that's where I grew up and I started the program."

Overall, Leavitt finished with a 94-57 record and 25-26 in conference play.  Surprisingly, in Big East play, the Bulls finished third (twice), fourth (twice), and sixth during his tenure.

Now, Leavitt is $2.75 million richer, living in the Bay Area, and coaching the game's best linebacker, Patrick Willis.  Sounds like an alright life to us.




Mike London holds off on naming a starting QB

Virginia head coach Mike London will head enter August camp without naming a starting quarterback.

London was pleased with the progress the quarterbacks made under offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor during spring practice, but one guy did not separate himself at the position.

London told ESPN’s Heather Dinich, “Coming out of spring, I would have liked to have selected a starting quarterback and backup, but part of the evaluation is who the quarterback is throwing to.  We had a rash of injuries with starting wide receivers that limited the ability to do that.”

“It’s all predicated on timing.  This year, for whatever, it was the wide receiver position (with a number of injuries.)

“It’s not discouraging.  They have all raised their level.  They all understand technically what Coach Lazor wants, where to go with the ball, and how to throw it.  It’s just going to come down to performance.”

London previously stated, “I’m looking for a guy who has command of the huddle, to have a presence about him.”

Overall, entering his second season as the UVA head coach, London is pleased.

“We are light years ahead of where we were when we started out.”

Virginia will host William & Mary to begin the season.  The Cavaliers then face Indiana and North Carolina, both on the road.