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Posts Tagged ‘Bo Pelini’

Checking In, A Few Thoughts, Etc.

Hey, miss you guys. Just wanted to say hello, how’s it going, how’s everything, how’s your team doing, how’s your coach, how’s your quarterback, etc. It’s been a wild year so far, right? Alabama is what we thought it’d be. Not so much with L.S.U., however. But count me among those folks who think that the Tigers will be fine; from my vantage point, I think that L.S.U. is keeping a ton under wraps, and that come November, you’re going to see a few wrinkles appear with a national title berth on the line. Florida should scare Les Miles and pals, on the other hand – the Gators can play a little defense, it seems.

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    Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 3 (Sept. 15)

    Do you remember the last time Notre Dame took a trip to East Lansing? You might not remember the game’s first 60 minutes and change, but that’s fine: things didn’t get wild until overtime, when Michigan State answered a Notre Dame field goal with the most audacious coaching decision of the 2010 season. Now you remember, right? Dan Conroy is lined up for the potentially game-tying 46-yard field goal; Aaron Bates, the punter and team captain, was the holder; tight end Charlie Gantt was lined up one spot inside from the edge to Conroy’s right. The call: “Little Giants.” The snap went to Bates, as expected – and then came the unexpected. You’ll see the rest of the play later tonight, when the Irish and Spartans meet in one of the day’s marquee games. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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      Wisconsin, Nebraska Leave the Picture

      Well, when your marquee win comes against Vanderbilt, as highly as we all think of the Commodores, you haven’t had a good day. It was a terrible day for the Big Ten, actually – one of the conference’s worst non-conference weekends in recent memory, trumping last weekend, which was defined by only one bad loss, not multiple losses. It was one weak game after another, beginning at noon, gaining steam around midday and then culminating, at nearly midnight, by an unforgivably bad performance from a program once defined by the pride it took in getting stops on the defensive side of the ball. From this entire group, a clutch of sour showings tinged with feel-good victories, two losses stand out above the rest.

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        Looking for Revenue? Let’s Try a Swear Jar

        The gold standard for curse-word comeuppance comes via former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick: Tired of his colorful vocabulary, Billick’s family – I believe his children set the tone – implemented a swear jar; every time Billick let loose, he had to make a contribution. Did it work? Well, Billick did say during an N.F.L. telecast last September that the St. Louis Rams “had some sex with the no-huddle offense” – so old habits die hard, or not at all, even if there’s technically no curse word in that sentence. The latest to hear about his “potty mouth” is Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who was caught by an ESPN camera screaming any number of unmentionable dirty words during the Gators’ 27-14 win over Bowling Green.

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          For Martinez, Night and Day Strides

          How to describe Taylor Martinez’s throwing mechanics over his freshman and sophomore seasons? Start with a word: ugly. No, start with his feet. Everything that went wrong would begin with his feet, then travel up his legs to his hips, then to his shoulders, then to his eyes, and finally, at long last, to his right arm. It all started with his feet.

          To be more precise, on a step-by-step basis, Martinez’s woes would begin with his back foot. As he raised his first arm, his throwing arm, Martinez’s back foot, his right foot, would take a wobbly step away from the line of scrimmage. If he was dead-center in the middle of the pocket in the middle of the field, Martinez’s back foot would stray towards the right pylon – off target, in other words.

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            No. 16: Nebraska

            You can sense the desperation from miles away: In Lincoln, the smell of fear – fear that there will be no renaissance, no climb back into the national picture – permeates every fiber of Nebraska football, from Taylor Martinez’s delivery to Barney Cotton’s offensive line to Cotton himself, with the Cornhuskers’ line coach drawing as much ire as any figure in the program’s proud history. There’s the fear that nine-win, four-loss seasons are the new norm; the former is a program birthright, but the latter is new. The fear that this current staff doesn’t have the answer. The fear that Nebraska bit off more than it could chew by hopping to the Big Ten. In Lincoln, the sense of impending doom stems from the idea that the offense will sputter, that the quarterback will throw off his back foot, that the defense isn’t up to par, that the pass rush lacks punch. Fear’s an ugly thing: Nebraska’s fan base is petrified. Good thing they play the games.

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              No. 116: Florida Atlantic

              Recent Sun Belt coaching moves have gone in the opposite direction. Over the last two years, Arkansas State has hired Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn. In 2010, Western Kentucky hired former Stanford running backs coach Willie Taggart. Louisiana-Lafayette tabbed Mark Hudspeth last winter; Louisiana-Monroe hired Todd Berry prior to the 2010 season. The conference as a whole has shifted towards an offense-first mentality, to often exciting, he-who-has-the-ball-last-wins results. When Howard Schnellenberger announced his intent to retire at the end of last season, the belief was that Florida Atlantic would follow the rest of the Sun Belt’s lead, perhaps nabbing a Freeze-like up-and-coming assistant. The Owls did nothing of the sort. In Carl Pelini, the university hired the sort of nail-chewing, fire-spewing defensive coach who thinks of offense the same way defensive linemen think of their offensive counterparts: with disdain. And in Pelini, the Owls might have hired the orneriest son-of-a-gun in college football. Don’t think for a second that being ornery is a bad thing.

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                Starting With McGee, Branching Out

                If Jeff Long was serious about starting Arkansas’ coaching search immediately after last night’s press conference, it stands to reason that the Razorbacks are in the market for a new head coach in time for this coming season. It’s not too late in the game for this to be a possibility, even if a new arrival wouldn’t step on campus until the summer, well after the team has concluded spring drills. On one side, such a rapid learning curve — for coach and team alike — might lead candidates who would otherwise be interested in the opportunity to think twice. However, it’s only so often that a head coach can inherit a team quite as talented as these Razorbacks.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.