What not to do when punting late in a tie game
When there's 25 seconds left in the game and you're getting ready to send your punt unit onto the field with with the game tied up, most coaches would tell their punter to kick the ball out of bounds and not allow the nation's top punt returner a chance to win the game.
That's not what NC State did. Instead, they kicked the ball deep to the dangerous Giovani Bernard with less than 30 seconds left and Bernard made them pay. The return team set up some great blocks to spring him free.
Following the game winning return, Bernard solidified his spot as one of the most feared return men in the country. He averages 21 yards per return and has taken two touchdowns back for six in just twelve attempts. For his efforts, North Carolina was named the FootballScoop Special Teams Unit of the Week.
Let these videos serve as a warning to the teams that remain on North Carolina's schedule (Georgia Tech, Virginia and Maryland), if the game is on the line, keep the ball out of Giovani Bernard's hands (he also ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game).
He'll make you pay if you don't.
First and 10 - October 29, 2012
1. The rematch to the rematch is here. Alabama at LSU. College GameDay will be there. Verne Lunquist and Gary Danielson will be there. Outside of the 21-0 national championship decision, recent history suggests this game will be close and memorable. Last year's 9-6 overtime game. LSU's 24-21 win at Tiger Stadium in 2010. This was the game Les Miles first displayed his penchant for eating grass, but what I remember most is LSU's beautifully executed fake punt and fourth-and-one reverse. Then there was Alabama's fourth-quarter rally (complete with a controversial ruling) for a 24-15 win to keep its perfect record intact in 2009. A year prior, LSU pushed an undefeated Alabama team to the brink in a 27-21 overtime decision. And in Nick Saban's first season in 2007, Alabama built a 34-27 lead before eventual national champion LSU scored two touchdowns in the game's final 2:49 to win 41-34. We'll have more on this game throughout the week.
2. The No. 2 team in the country also faces a road test on Saturday. Oregon travels to USC this week looking to avenge last season's 38-35 thriller that ultimately cost Chip Kelly's team a shot at the national championship. Lane Kiffin's squad will look to what it does best, air it out with quarterback Matt Barkley to wideouts Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. The Trojans threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns in last year's upset. Oregon's will attempt to do what it has done all season, run opposing teams out of the stadium by halftime. The following are Oregon's halftime leads this season: 50-10, 35-6, 35-7, 13-0, 23-19, 35-7, 43-8 and 56-0.
3. The sneakiest conference title defense in college football is taking place in Stillwater, Oklahoma. No one in the country has noticed, but Mike Gundy's team controls its own destiny to claim its second straight Big 12 crown. The Cowboys are tied for second place in the league at 3-1 with Oklahoma (who OSU faces on Nov. 24) going into Saturday night's game at Kansas State. Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken have whethered the loss of All-Americans Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, an injury to opening day starting quarterback Wes Lunt on Sept. 15, and an season-ending injury to his replacement J.W. Walsh on Oct. 20. Despite all of that, Oklahoma State still leads the country in total offense. The Cowboys will get their stiffest test to date with Bill Snyder's team. Last year, the visiting Wildcats gave the favored Cowboys a fight to the finish in which Kansas State was throwing into the end zone as time expired in a 52-45 final.
4. Find time to do some thumb workouts this week. Oregon at USC kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on FOX. Alabama at LSU gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, while Oklahoma State at Kansas State also starts at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. You'll want to make sure your thumb is in proper shape for an all-night viewing experience.
5. Oregon and Louisiana Tech could have record-breaking offenses when all is said and done. Sonny Dykes' team has scored 421 points and 57 touchdowns through eight games. Chip Kelly's squad has posted 427 points and 59 touchdowns through eight outings. The NCAA single-season scoring record for a 13-game season is 652 (set by Texas in 2005) and the 14-game season record stands at 716 (set by Oklahoma in 2008). In a 13-game season, Louisiana Tech is on pace to score 684 points, while Oregon (if they, as expected, play in the Pac-12 Championship) will score 747 points at its current pace. The NCAA record for total touchdowns (99, set by that same 2008 OU team) is also in danger of falling to Kelly's Ducks. The famed 1944 Army team may have to sweat out a pair of previously-untouchable records as well. Legendary coach Earl "Red" Blaik guided his team to an average of 56 points and 8.2 touchdowns per game. The Ducks average 53.58 points and 7.38 touchdowns per game, while the Bulldogs check in at 52.63 points and 7.13 touchdowns per game.
6. MACtion running strong in 2012. We mentioned last week what a good season the MAC is enjoying this fall. How about this for a quantifier? With Northern Illinois and Toledo at 8-1 and Kent State and Ohio at 7-1, the MAC trails only the SEC for the most teams with seven or more wins.
7. Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast. First and foremost, we hope everyone stays out of harm's way throughout the duration of the storm. Virginia Tech told us they do not plan to alter their schedule this week. The Hokies visit Miami on Thursday night. Then there are these reports we've seen so far today.
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said the team's practice bubble has been deflated because of the impending storm. Rutgers practice cancelled Mon.— CBSSportsBigEast (@CBSBigEast) October 29, 2012
Figuring out where to practice as we deal with this approaching storm.— Jeff Quinn (@UBCoachQuinn) October 29, 2012
8. A miracle occured in Division III on Saturday. Someone scored a touchdown on the Mount Union (Ohio) defense. Heidelberg (Ohio) actually notched two touchdowns on the Purple Raiders, inclduing the game's opening score, to become the first team to hold a lead on Larry Kehres' team this season. Mount Union had pitched six consecutive shutouts before Saturday. The Purple Raiders defeated Heidelberg, 33-14.
9. Ed Lamb and Southern Utah notched perhaps the biggest win in school history on Saturday. In their first season in the Big Sky Conference, the Thunderbirds toppled FCS No. 1 Eastern Washington, 30-27. Colton Cook knocked in a 36-yard field goal with three seconds to play to give Southern Utah the win.
10. Twenty teams have a chance to reach bowl eligibility this week. Among the 20 teams are new staffs at Arkansas State, Arizona, Arizona State and Ole Miss and those looking to return to the postseason after an absence in Minnesota, East Carolina, Navy and Middle Tennessee. Good luck to all in their quests.
Massachusetts high schools adopt new playoff rules
The high school playoff system in Massachusetts will have an entirely new look beginning next fall.
Due to increased participation from schools sponsoring football, and providing more quality teams an opportunity to compete for a state title, the MIAA football committee voted in favor of adopting new rules by a margin of 161-131 this past Friday.
The new rules will have schools in Eastern and Central Massachusetts playing a seven week regular season schedule, and Western Massachusetts schools will play an eight week regular season. Teams that fail to make the playoffs "will have their remaining three games determined by a scheduling committee before playing their traditional Thanksgiving game," the Boston Globe explains.
According to the Globe, one state champion will come from each of the six divisions, and all state title games will be played at Gillette Stadium. Central and Western Massachusetts schools will compete in Divisions 2, 4, 5, and 6. Those divisions will be based on enrollment and maintaining a competitive balance.
Another one of the major changes coaches and fans will notice is there will be only a fraction of the post Thanksgiving games that they've had in years past. Under the new rules, only 12 schools will play after turkey day, as opposed to the 74 teams who saw action after the holiday this past season. Also, playing semifinal games on a Tuesday and teams playing three games in a total of ten days will not take place under the new rules.
Under the current plan, only league champions get the opportunity to compete in the post season, meaning that you could go 9-1 or 10-1 and not make the post season. Citing the fact that those deserving teams should get the opportunity to compete for a state title and experience the playoff atmosphere, the new rules state that leagues with five or more schools can get two playoff teams (plus the possibility of more based on their power rankings).
Three coaches in particular, Swampscott's Steve Dembrowski, Fitchburg high school's Ray Cosenza and Xaverian's Charlie Stevenson put in numerous hours coming up with the new playoff plan, which included a few tweaks from a 2010 proposal that was voted against.
The new rules will be a two year run beginning in 2013, and will be revisited after that time period to tweak as needed.
We'll have to see how this all plays out over the next few seasons, but we're sure that there are plenty of coaches in Massachusetts that are resting easy knowing that they won't have to plan for three opponents in a span of ten days to win a state title next year.
The highlight video that Oregon watched before the Arizona State game
Here's the highlight video that Oregon watched before taking the field last weekend against Arizona State. The Ducks didn't need any second half points and rolled to a 43-21 victory.
If they put up 43 in a half after getting hyped up with this video before last weekend's game, we can only imagine what the highlight video for Saturday's match up with Colorado had in it (the Ducks were up 56-0 at the half and rolled to a 70-14 win).
Try to count how many times announcers use the word "speed", or any variation of it in the clip.
After losing all their scholarship quarterbacks, Maryland staff forced to get creative
Regardless of the circumstances, it's never a good thing to have to move a linebacker to quarterback.
After losing their third straight scholarship quarterback to a season ending injury in a two week span, that is exactly what Maryland is doing. Last weekend, they lost their first and second string signal callers in the same game and yesterday, third string true freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe finished the game against Boston College with a torn ACL. He woke up on Sunday sore enough to have an MRI which revealed the true extent of the injury.
The injury occurred on the second to last play of the game. Maryland ended up losing 20-17 against the Eagles.
The linebacker who has turned quarterback, Shawn Petty, was an option quarterback in high school and got some practice time with the quarterbacks in last week when Randy Edsall and the staff got confirmation that their top two guys would not return this year. Backing him up will be a converted tight end, Brian McMahon, who also played quarterback in high school.
The new quarterbacks will have to cut their teeth against a Georgia Tech defense next weekend, followed by a trip to Clemson, and then a home game against Florida State. Bowl eligibility is still within reach for the Terps (4-4, 2-2), but that stretch against Clemson and Florida State isn't going to be easy.
Each of Maryland's four losses this year have been by less than 10 points, and they have lost their last two games (to North Carolina State and Boston College) by a combined five points.
With close losses and injuries, 2012 has turned out to be a season full of tough breaks for coach Edsall and his staff. How they regroup and finish may define their season.
Monday TV - San Francisco at Arizona
Jim Harbaugh and the Niners take on Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals tonight on ESPN. Enjoy it because there's no college games until Thursday this week.
Eastern time listed.
San Francisco at Arizona - 8:30 - ESPN
Coaches of the Week - Week 9
Plenty mof great performances were turned in throughout the country yesterday, but these coaches' work stood above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week.
Head Coach of the Week - Mark Richt, Georgia: Considering the way his team entered Saturday's game, and the way Georgia's 17-9 win over Florida was played (nine turnovers, 24 penalties), Mark Richt must feel like Andy Dufresne after he crawled through Shawshank's sewer system and came out clean on the other side. Georgia entered Saturday on a three-game stretch in which, sandwiched around a 28-point loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs had beaten Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC wins: zero) by a total of 12 points. None of that mattered, however, as Richt's team managed to win a game in which it threw three first half interceptions, committed 14 penalties, missed a field goal and nullified a successful onside kick with an offsides flag. The Bulldogs won by forcing six turnovers of their own, erasing Florida's power running game (two yards per carry on 41 attempts) and bookending the scoring with opportunitstic touchdown drives.
Georgia now stands in a position where wins over Ole Miss and Auburn (combined SEC wins: two) will send the Bulldogs to Atlanta in early December for the second year in a row.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Kent State: The Golden Flashes not only got their first win over an AP Top 25 opponent in school history on Saturday, they did it going away by smashing Rutgers, 35-23. Rutgers came into Saturday surrendering just 11.3 points per game, a mark which Darrell Hazell's team bested by the 13:21 mark of the second quarter. Offensive coordinator Brian Rock and offensive line coach Chris Bache's game plan was simple - just do what you do. For the fourth time this season the Golden Flashes topped 200 rushing yards, carrying 50 times for 224 yards and achieving 14 first downs by rush. Mixed with seven turnovers forced by the Kent State defense, Hazell's team was able to occupy the ball for more than 37 minutes on Saturday.
"We came on the road against a very tough opponent," Hazell said. "We knew they were going to be tough, and they did a great job prior to playing us. I thought our kids prepared like crazy this week." The win gives Kent State its first six-game winning streak in 72 years and moves Hazell's squad one step closer to its first bowl appearance since 1972.
Defensive Staff of the Week - Notre Dame: This isn't the first time Bob Diaco and co. have won the Defensive Staff of the Week in FootballScoop's short history of weekly coaching awards, and if the Fighting Irish continue to play like they did Saturday night it certainly won't be the last. Once again Notre Dame forced an opponent into its worst offensive outing of the season by way of sure tackling, stifling red zone defense and timely turnovers. All three ingredients were prevalent in Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma. The Irish secondary surrendered the short stuff to the Oklahoma passing game but never let anything get behind them and limited yards after the catch. "We were going to give up yards to keep the points down," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We could not let the points get out of reach for us. This was the first time we showed we could … put some points on the board. But we could not have won this football game if the points got up in the numbers that were probably out of reach for our offense."
As a result, Oklahoma threw for 356 yards but needed 51 attempts to get there. Notre Dame shut down the OU running game, holding the Sooners to 15 yards on 24 carries, in limiting them to season lows in points, rushing yards and total yards. Notre Dame forced field goals in two of Oklahoma's three red zone trips and, protecting a 20-13 lead late in the fourth quarter, produced a timely interception when linebacker Manti Te'o snagged a deflected ball at the Oklahoma 45-yard line. Six plays later Notre Dame put the game out of reach with a 46-yard field goal.
Special Teams Staff of the Week - North Carolina: It's unclear why N.C. State punted to Giovani Bernard, the nation's leading punt returner, with the game tied 35-35 in the waning seconds before overtime. What is clear is that overtime never happened because Bernard took the punt 74 yards for a score to give North Carolina a 43-35 win. The return was much more than just Bernard - watch below how good his blocking is as he runs behind a wall down the right sideline. But before Bernard ever had a chance to win the game, Tar Heels kicker Casey Barth had to hit a 34-yard field goal with 1:24 left to play to knot the score at 35-35 in the first place. North Carolina punter Thomas Hibbard also had an excellent day with nine punts for a net average of 41.1 yards with a long of 60 and three kicks pinned inside the 20-yard line.
Call of the Week - Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin, Texas: Texas was a quarter away from being the first Big 12 team to lose to Kansas since 2010, and the first current Big 12 team to fall to the Jayhawks since Iowa State in 2009, when Brown inserted backup quarterback Case McCoy to spark the Longhorns to a 21-17 win. McCoy didn't do much in his first drive as Texas ran all nine plays of its 84-yard drive to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:41 to go. After Kansas used a seven-minute drive to reclaim the lead at 17-14, McCoy came alive. He hit five passes in a row, including an 18-yard gain on fourth-and-six and a 39-yard connection to get Texas to the KU three-yard line, before Harsin dialed up a play-action lob where McCoy found tight end D.J. Grant alone in the corner of the end zone on third-and-goal with 12 seconds to play to seal the win.
Sunday TV - Saints at Broncos in prime time
All times Eastern.
Carolina at Chicago - 1 p.m. - FOX
San Diego at Cleveland - 1 p.m. - CBS
Seattle at Detroit - 1 p.m. - FOX
New England at St. Louis (in London) - 1 p.m - FOX
Miami at N.Y. Jets - 1 p.m. - CBS
Atlanta at Philadelphia - 1 p.m. - FOX
Washington at Pittsburgh - 1 p.m. - FOX
Jacksonville at Green Bay - 1 p.m. - FOX
Indianpolis at Tennessee - 1 p.m. - FOX
Oakland at Kansas City - 4:05 p.m. - CBS
N.Y. Giants at Dallas - 4:25 p.m. - FOX
New Orleans at Denver - 8:20 p.m. - NBC